PoliticsNation, Monday, December 22nd, 2014
Read the transcript from the Monday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: December 22, 2014
Guest: E.J. Dionne, Joan Walsh, Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani, Josh Barro,
Faith Jenkins, Gwen Carr; Esaw Snipes Garner; Cedric Alexander; David
SHARPTON: And thanks to you for tuning in.
We start tonight with breaking news on the murder of two New York city
police officers. Today, an outpouring of grief with people leaving flowers
and lighting candles at the site of the shooting in Brooklyn, honoring the
fallen officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. They were shot at point-
blank range on Saturday while sitting in their patrol car, going about
their normal business.
This afternoon, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio paid visited to the home of
both officers, meeting with their families, including the two sons officer
Ramos leaves behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK: They are in tremendous pain and they are
worried deeply. In the Ramos family case, two teenagers, reminded me of my
own children, who now don`t have a father. You have two teenage young men,
good young men who no longer have a father because of an assassin. And it
was very difficult for Charlaine and I to talk to two kids that, of course,
we saw parallel to our own children, hear them trying to put on a brave
face, trying their best to make sense of such a painful situation. They
were incredibly admirable, impressive young men. I told them that I lost
my own dad when I was 18. And that as painful and difficult as it is,
families come together, people find a way forward and I also told them we
would all be there for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The mayor today called on a suspension of demonstrations until
after the officers have been laid to rest. Both he and police commissioner
William Bratton said they hope this tragedy leads to some progress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE BLASIO: The most important reflection I can give you right now is, in
this tragedy, maybe we find some way of moving forward, that it would be an
appropriate way to honor these fallen officers and their families that are
in pain right now, somehow knit our city together.
WILLIAM BRATTON, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE: Out of crises comes
opportunities and challenges. And I intend to embrace the opportunities
and challenges as we address these crises. We will come out of this better
and stronger as we go forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This tragedy struck a deep nerve. Officer Ramos was 40 years
old, a three-year veteran of the police force, and a father of two sons.
Friends and family say he hoped to become a chaplain. Officer Liu was 32
years old. He`d been on the force seven years, and he was newly married.
His wedding, just three months ago.
Let me be perfectly clear. This was an act of senseless violence. These
were New York`s finest, doing their work, protecting the city, protecting
our community. We`re mourning their loss and we are all outraged and
saddened by the death of these police officers.
Any use of the names of Eric Garner or Michael Brown in conjunction with
violence, or the killing of police, is reprehensible. I and others have
called for stopping violence, not perpetuating it. As we mourn the deaths
of these officers, we must be focused, though, on solving deep-seeded
problems. Not exacerbating them.
Joining me now is Esaw Garner, the widow of Eric Garner and Gwen Carr, Eric
Garner`s mother. Thank you both for being here tonight.
GWEN CARR, ERIC GARNER`S MOTHER: Thank you so much for having us.
SHARPTON: Esaw, you`ve been calling for peace throughout since your
husband was the victim of the chokehold case. And you and your mother-in-
law have stood yesterday and identified with the pain of these officers`
families. What is your thought in the wake of this tragedy?
ESAW GARNER, ERIC GARNER`S WIFE: I think that it`s horrible. I think that
there`s another wife out there without her husband coming home that night.
There`s another children that don`t have their father to come home at
night. There`s Christmas coming. You know, the holidays are less than
three days away. And I don`t even know if I`m going to be OK in three
days. But I just want to express my condolences to the families of the
officers, the wife, the children, and everyone else in New York city. And
I still call for peace. You know.
SHARPTON: Miss Carr, your son from day one, you said, when we all spoke,
that you do not want anything that would in any way reflect anything but
peaceful demonstrations and some recall in terms of policy. And now that
your son`s name and Michael Brown`s name has been part of what this person
that killed these policeman had written in social media, what`s your
response to Eric`s name being involved in this?
CARR: We don`t want Eric`s name used in anything dealing with violence.
We are definitely non-violent. We would have never condoned these police
officers -- this is just a true tragic for them for them to be sitting in
the car and someone just take their life away from them like that.
I know how those families feel. If they have a mother, wife, children. I
know their pain because I feel that pain. And this shouldn`t happen to
anyone. I expressed that so many times after my son passed. This tragedy,
I wouldn`t wish on my worst enemy.
SHARPTON: You know, Esaw, I grew up in Brooklyn and I know cops. And I`ve
said a thousand times, I question some police policies, but I think most
cops are good. We talk about individual cops. These guys were in the
neighborhood protecting people. And one of the things that moved me and a
lot of people today, your daughter Emerald who`s been dealing with a lot of
the youth projects, you know.
SHARPTON: She went to the site today and laid a wreath today and voiced
her support for the families. Your daughter, she visited the memorial.
Tell us about that.
GARNER: Well, I just found out about it. She just called me about maybe
an hour or so ago, she said mommy, I went --
SHARPTON: Now, this is the scene. I`m showing where the policeman was
killed. And she went to the site with some of the youth from the huddle.
GARNER: Yes, she called me and she said, mommy, I went because I feel
like, you know, even though my dad was killed in that way, these officers
shouldn`t have been blamed for anything that happened to her father. It`s
totally two different situations. And she said she felt that she had to go
and represent the family and put some flowers down, or whatever, and make
her statement and, you know, express her condolences.
SHARPTON: I think, Gwen, at sometimes people mistaken, those that raise
questions like it`s us against them, rather than seeking how we have a
society that`s fair for everybody.
SHARPTON: We`re not against anybody. We are trying to make sure people
are held accountable that do things that we feel are against what society
should be about.
CARR: Exactly. We want those who exercise bad policing to be held
accountable, not innocent police officers.
GARNER: Not innocent police. My mother lives in that matter. And matter
of fact, Eric and myself got married in the church right across the street.
SHARPTON: Is that right?
SHARPTON: From where this happened?
GARNER: Yes. Rose Baptist Church it`s right there on the corner.
SHARPTON: From where these officers were killed?
GARNER: Right up the block, on myrtle, and I believe it`s summer --
GARNER: Tompkins and Myrtle avenue. We got married in that church. My
mom lives not too far from there. I had two kids in that hospital. I grew
SHARPTON: And that`s the hospital these officers were brought to where
they died on Saturday night.
SHARPTON: Where the mayor went?
GARNER: Yes. Chardonnay, my oldest daughter and Erica was born in
Woodhall hospital. My mom lives right up the block.
SHARPTON: So close in the same area, yet so estranged by how people try to
play petty politics with the pain on all sides. We got to stop that.
GARNER: Because I feel the family`s pain.
SHARPTON: Well, Esaw Snipes Garner and Gwen Carr, thank you both for
coming on and talking to us tonight.
GARNER: Thank you for having us.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Coming up, the investigation into the assassination. We have
new details on what authorities are learning about the man who came to New
York and executed two police officers. And police are now looking at new
surveillance video, taken just hours before the shooting. What can it tell
Plus, we have breaking news tonight out of North Korea, where there is a
widespread internet outrage. Is this a cyber attack? What is going on?
And will "the Interview" movie be released? Sony is open to the idea.
Tonight that all is coming up. Please stay with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE BLASIO: We have a deeply troubled career criminal, previously suicidal
individual who did this heinous crime, who assassinated two police
officers. It`s a horrible thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A horrible thing from a deeply troubled career criminal. And
today we`re learning more about that deeply troubled past of 28-year-old
Ismaaiyl Brinsley. He had a long criminal record. He was arrested 19
times, spent two years in prison for gun possession. Tried to kill himself
and threatened police online.
And tonight Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton released new video of
the shooter. It shows him walking around a subway terminal in Brooklyn.
He`s carrying a bag. Officials think the gun was inside. But after this
moment around noon, police do not know where he goes for more than two
Here`s what we know. Around 5:30 Saturday morning, he showed up at his ex-
girlfriend`s apartment in Maryland, near Baltimore. He shot her. Right
now she`s in critical condition. But she`s stable. He then took a bus
from Baltimore to New York. Around 2:45, Brinsley shot and killed two
Joining me now is Dr. Cedric Alexander, the president of the national
organization of black law enforcement executives. Thank you for being
DR. CEDRIC ALEXANDER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW
ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Thank you for having me, sir.
SHARPTON: Clearly, a guy with mental problems and disturbing views. What
are investigators looking for to find out today, Cedric?
ALEXANDER: Well, I`ll tell you what, NYPD has done an incredible job in
terms of putting together a lot of information in a chronological manner,
which kind of begins to tell the story leading up to the assassination of
those police officers.
NYPD is very capable. They have the resources, they have the training,
they have the expertise and experienced investigators there that I can
assure you, Reverend Al, they`re going to get down to what occurred, how it
occurred, right from the beginning, right up until the end.
And it`s very sad. It`s very tragic. Even here in the state of Georgia
and across this country, we all are very saddened by this horrific act of
violence towards police officers who was out there doing their job,
protecting the community.
SHARPTON: What else do police need to find out? It seems like they have a
lot on motive from just social media.
ALEXANDER: Well, I think one thing that needs to be determined, I`m quite
sure they`ll look into this, to make sure if anyone else was involved in
the planning and the execution of those officers, they`re going to seek
them out. So I think, as they continue to pull together information
through their investigation, through their sources and through the
technology they`ll use as well, too, if there are any other individuals out
there involved, if this was planned, anyone who got their fingerprints on
this, they need to be brought to justice.
SHARPTON: Now, they did say today that they believe he acted alone. That
statement was made by the police commissioner and the mayor and others, I
believe the governor. But you`re saying they must continue to pursue every
item that make sure that that is correct information?
ALEXANDER: And I`m quite certain that`s exactly what they`re going to do.
And this is just the beginning of their investigation. I`m quite sure at
the end, they are going to make sure they`re as thorough as possible in
terms of making any other determinations that might be surrounding this
case that might be informational to them or to the community.
SHARPTON: Alright, Cedric Alexander, thank you very much for your time.
ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me too.
SHARPTON: Joining me now, the former governor of the state of New York,
Governor, first of all, thank you for being here.
DAVID PATTERSON, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Thank you. I wish it was under
better circumstances, Reverend. I remember the shooting of the city
councilman who had once been a police officer, James Davis, right in the
city hall. And the shootings on the Long Island railroad and then some
shootings that were shootings, but no one paid the price for them that
we`ve been through. But this is one of the worst that I can ever remember.
SHARPTON: Where do we go from here? You`ve been the governor of the this
state, lieutenant governor, state senator, and you`ve dealt with a lot of
these situations. But this seems to have really hit a real nerve, a
tragedy with these two policemen. Then we`ve had the one by one police
killings that have been questioned by the community. Where do we go from
here? As one who has been on both sides of this, in the black community,
and as the head of this state.
PATTERSON: Well, I call it the principle of duality. The idea is that, I
think we should all recognize, and I`m sitting here recognizing myself,
that no matter how much I try to sympathize with police officers and their
family, unless I was in their shoes, I really wouldn`t know the anxiety and
tension that they feel every day, when their loved ones are out at work,
knowing they may not come home. And particularly on the Saturday before
Christmas. All of us have to stop for a minute and think about the pain
that the people in law enforcement endure.
At the same time, there is a history of different types of practices in
minority communities, particularly black communities that went on, if you
go back and read old newspaper articles, there was a riot in Harlem in
1943, 1945, and 1964 when a lieutenant named Thomas Gilligan shot a 15-
year-old child who was black, named James Powell, for turning on a water
sprinkler and then kicked his body, rolling it over to see if he was still
alive. That ignited six nights of rioting in 1964.
And all I`m trying to say is that I don`t think that people who live
outside the community really understand what it`s like when your children
go out and you fear the crime in the neighborhood, but you also fear the
law enforcement practices. They think it`s kind of a joke when people sit
here on television like myself and say that. But I`ve had four members of
my family assaulted by the police over the years --
SHARPTON: Of your family?
PATTERSON: Of my family. Starting with my father who was pistol whipped
in 1942 when he`s 16 years of age, because the policeman thought he`d
stolen a baseball mitt when he was coming back from stick ball practice.
So I`m just saying that the same way you see the anger right now of the
officers because people don`t understand what they go through, they`re
angry at different elected officials who they feel are stirring up the
problem. And look, if that`s how they feel, maybe we`ll come together if
we start to acknowledge that no one is lying here.
The police officers do have a lot to ask the public to understand about
their jobs. And the public does -- and we`ll talk about it more later.
Right now this is a time of grief, but the public does have a right to
demand better services in certain communities where young, particularly
black males, were stopped routinely and randomly.
SHARPTON: I think you said something very critical. No one is lying here.
There`s real anxiety and need on both sides. And I think, you know,
there`s been a lot of attacks. Even I`ve been named in some. I think we
have to rise above the petty tit for tat, and really deal with the big
pitch and that there needs to be some real understanding and some changes
look at the big picture that there needs to be real understanding and
changes made here because people aren`t making this stuff up.
PATTERSON: I think when I first started as a state senator, and I`m
looking back on it now in 1986, I didn`t really understand what the police
went through. And I think I was unnecessarily hard on them at the time.
And I really can apologize for that.
All I`m asking is that those on both sides recognize that at times, all the
people who have complained about these practices that were in Harlem and in
Bedford- Stuyvesant and (INAUDIBLE) Brownsville and South Jamaica and South
Bronx, that all these people can`t be wrong. There must have been
something different than the regular rules, that`s why the complaints were
coming from these neighborhoods. Not because the crime was high, but
because the service was low.
SHARPTON: And policemen are in the middle of some places where they do
have fear and have anxiety. But at the same time, and again, I think those
in the community understand that and more need to because we are dealing in
communities where we need policing. At the same time, there has to be
understanding that if you see a man on tape and he`s choked and he`s
saying, I can`t breathe, what it says, the fear it puts in the community, I
think that you`re dealing with people that are talking at each other and
there are those that never want us talking to each other.
PATTERSON: Exactly, Reverend. And I`ll tell you something, in one
respect, I think the police get a bad rap. Traditionally in these
communities, the landlords jack up the rents. The store owners wouldn`t
hire anybody from the community. You couldn`t get a decent education in
the schools. The health care facilities were inferior. The prices were
jacked up higher than they were in other neighborhoods because they knew
people couldn`t get out of the neighborhood to go shop because no one would
let them in those stores. And who did they send in to calm the sweltering
feelings? The police.
So they were the first point of where some of that anger would get fomented
and it`s not entirely their fault. A lot of it has to do with the society
that was always antagonistic to people who lived in these neighborhoods.
SHARPTON: Governor David Patterson, let`s try to keep looking at the big
picture and solve the real problems of policing and of community.
Governor David Patterson, thanks so much for your time and your
PATTERSON: Thank you for having me, reverend.
SHARPTON: Coming up, we have developing news from North Korea tonight.
North Korea`s internet has gone dark. Is it a cyber attack? Or another
question. Should Dick Cheney be prosecuted for torture? There are calls
for legal action tonight. Please stay with us.
SHARPTON: Are you ready to play the feud? There`s a war of words erupting
in the Republican party, Senator Rubio versus Senator Rand Paul.
And President Obama finishing the year focused on his agenda. And now
we`re learning a major policy goal could be next. That`s ahead.
SHARPTON: `Tis the season for a Republican family feud. I`m talking about
the sniping between two possible 2016 contenders, Marco Rubio and Rand
Paul. It`s all about President Obama`s move to re-establish ties with
Cuba. And the fight`s getting uglier than a Christmas sweater. First,
Senator Paul tweeted, "Senator Rubio is acting like an isolationist who
wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this
isolationism." And Senator Rubio rejected that tweet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, first of all, Rand, if he wants to
become the chief cheer leader of Obama`s foreign policy, he certainly has
the right to do that. He has the right to become a supporter of President
Obama`s foreign policy.
Well, Rand Paul has, if he wants to a line himself and become a supporter
of the Obama foreign policy particularly towards Cuba, that`s his right.
He has a right to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But Paul fired right back, with a senior adviser telling
Politico, Rubio was, quote, "Captain of the GOP cheerleading team for
Obama`s arming of Syrian rebels, bombing Libya, resulting in a jihadist
wonderland and illegally giving foreign aid to Egypt`s military
government." But while they fight about who`s a bigger Obama cheerleader,
President Obama is promising to push ahead with his own plans in 2015.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have every right to be
proud of what we`ve accomplished. More jobs, more people insured, a
growing economy. Pick any metric that you want, America`s resurgence is
real. We are better off. My presidency is entering the fourth quarter.
Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter. And I`m looking forward
Where I see a big problem and the opportunity to help the American people
and it is within my lawful authority to provide that help, I`m going to do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He`s not going to stop taking these bold actions. And if they
cause more rifts on the right, that`s just an extra Christmas present for
all to enjoy.
Joining me now are E.J. Dionne and Joan Walsh. Thank you for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: I want to get to the President in just a moment, but first,
E.J., this is supposedly the season of giving. If republicans can`t get
along, it seems like they`re giving democrats a lot of gifts, doesn`t it?
DIONNE: It does feel that way. I think this fight between Rand Paul and
Marco Rubio is really interesting, because it`s not a one-off fight. You
remember that Rand Paul had a big fight some months ago with Rick Perry
over foreign policy.
DIONNE: Basically Ron Paul saying that Ronald Reagan actually didn`t like
sending American troops abroad and Perry saying he was an interventionist.
And now again you`re seeing this Ron Paul, libertarian foreign policy that
says what`s the point of cutting a country off, let`s engage with them.
And what he`s showing is, he`s going to run as Rand Paul in the election.
And he thinks there`s a constituency in the Republican Party for a
different kind of foreign policy. And, you know, it`s a generational split
too. If you look at Cuban Americans, older Cuban Americans agree with
Marco Rubio. But younger Cuban Americans are much closer to where Rand
Paul and the President are.
SHARPTON: No doubt about it. You know, Joan, the President called this a
breakthrough year. Let`s get to him for a minute. And today the White
House detailed some of his accomplishments. Check out this list. He
pushed for minimum wage hikes in cities and states across the country.
Many were raised. He raised wages for federal contractors, made it easier
to repay student loans, prevented deportation of millions of undocumented
immigration. Signed historic agreement to cut greenhouse gasses. And
let`s not forget, re-establish ties with Cuba. Especially after the
midterms, did anyone expect such a productive year, Joan?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: No, I don`t think anybody did, I don`t think on the
left or the right any of us were prepared for quite what has happened.
Certainly on Cuba, there was not a whole lot of preparation for that. And,
you know, I think that his poll numbers have climbed, Reverend Al. You
know, he`s really doing better than he`s done I think in over a year. And
I think it is because of the American people like the fact that somebody is
leading. He`s keeping his campaign promises, and they feel like
something`s going on. Yes, there`s gridlock. Yes, Congress is
dysfunctional, but this man has taken these steps to make life better for
people when he can.
SHARPTON: You know, E.J., your column today lays out how tough it would be
for republicans to roll back some of the President`s accomplishments. But
you also wrote, the President has a huge stake in 2016. Let me quote E.J.
to E.J. as I often do. Obama has shown he can still accomplish a lot on
his own. The harder test will be whether he can advance ideas and
arguments that strengthen the ability of his allies to sustain his policies
beyond the life of his presidency. How does the president strengthen his
DIONNE: Well, I think he continues to advance arguments and puts forward
the ideas and makes the republicans choose. Do they kill these ideas? Or
do they actually pass them and allow things to go forward? What I have in
mind is the core idea that if you really want wages to grow, we have the
unemployment rate coming down, we have economic growth. We still need
wages to go up. And there are a bunch of things government can do to help
that. One is, let`s invest in our infrastructure. It`s crazy that
Washington can`t even build roads anymore, or mass transit. We talks about
pre-k and helping people with student loans. I think there`s a whole
agenda on workers` rights, not only minimum wage, but also overtime and
family leave. He can put ideas on the table, and either the republicans go
along, but in the likely event that they block it, there`s an argument
that democrats can have in 2016, saying, do you want to go ahead with these
ideas that President Obama put forward and that progressives believe in?
And I think Ronald Reagan was very good at that, you know, to the detriment
of those of us who are progressive. I think President Obama can do the
SHARPTON: Now, Joan, I want to go back to something E.J. referred to,
SHARPTON: Because when you look at immigration and Cuba, there`s a
generational divide in the reaction to both these issues that is very
WALSH: Yes, and I think that the President has put the party on good
footing in terms of trying to reach millennials of every race, with these
steps he`s taking. And you know, E.J. is totally right. We do have --
we`ve made progress on unemployment. But we`ve not made progress on wages.
And I think what the President needs to do, he will not have a lot of help
from republicans. He won`t have any help probably. Is lay out what is
that agenda for making people`s lives better, even if he can`t get it done
with this Congress. Because whoever runs in 2016 is really going to need a
compelling story about rebuilding the middle class and rebuilding the
American dream because it`s falling apart.
SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne and Joan Walsh, thank you both for your time
WALSH: Thanks, Rev.
DIONNE: Thank you, Reverend. And Joan.
SHARPTON: Coming up, should Dick Cheney be prosecuted for torture? Calls
tonight for Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation.
Plus, developing news tonight. An internet outrage cutting North Korea off
from the rest of the world. And will "The Interview" movie be released
after all? Sony is talking about it and we will too. "Conversation
Nation" is next.
SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining us tonight,
HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. "New York Times" reporter
Josh Barro. And legal analyst and host of "Judge Faith," Faith Jenkins,
thank you all for being here. North Korea`s internet goes out.
FAITH JENKINS, LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks, Rev.
CAROLINE MODARRESSY-TEHRANI, HUFFPOST LIVE HOST: Thanks, Rev.
JOSH BARRO, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTER: Thanks, Al.
SHARPTON: Let`s start with some breaking news. North Korea`s internet
goes out. A U.S. official telling NBC News North Korea`s internet access
has been cut off from the rest of the world. It had been failing for
several days and is now totally down. Out. In the dark. It comes three
days after President Obama promised proportional response against North
Korea. But U.S. officials strongly deny any role in it. An analysts that
monitor internet usage telling Bloomberg, I don`t know that someone is
launching a cyber-attack against North Korea, but this isn`t normal for
them. Josh, what do you make of this?
BARRO: Well, it seems like our primary objective here should be stopping
whoever did this from doing similar things in the future, whether that`s
through deterrence, or by actually shutting off their ability to interfere
with our internet access. So, I don`t know if the U.S. government was
behind this, but I feel good about the prospect of the North Koreans not
having access to the internet and therefore not being able to --
SHARPTON: So, you don`t know if they`re responsible, but it would not
BARRO: It would not bother me.
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Yes. I was just going to say, Rev. I think the
revenge is a dish best served cold. What is colder than total black-out
when it comes to the internet? I really hope if U.S. were behind it,
they`re not saying if they were. If we were behind it, I would silently be
clapping around here and I`m pretty sure that James Franco and Seth Rogen
are as well.
SHARPTON: Judge, what`s your verdict on this?
JENKINS: Well, North Korea`s internet access is tenuous at best to begin
with, but I don`t believe in coincidences. So, here`s what we do know. We
know that they`re experiencing this black-out and it hasn`t really happened
before and it comes on the helm of this cyber-attack against Sony and the
reports said that that`s being leaked to North Korea. So perhaps maybe
anonymous got involved. And we don`t know. It could be some rogue
hackers, we don`t know, but again, it`s not necessarily a bad thing.
SHARPTON: But Josh, you know, when the President said proportional
response, I got a lot of reaction. We don`t want a military response.
Some said maybe a response like this. So is this a better response, if in
fact this is the government? I mean, we don`t know.
BARRO: Yes, I mean, to the extent that we`re concerned about cyber-
attacks, I think something that harms their cyber-infrastructure makes
sense. My concern is that, if it was North Korea behind the Sony attack,
they would eventually figure out that they could use these tools for
purposes other than protecting Kim Jong-un`s ego. Like the government
didn`t really have a plan for responding to this. Because we have
continuously plans for if somebody attacks the power grid, or if somebody
launches an attack against the financial institution. Nobody really fought
about this scenario with, what if somebody embarrasses a bunch of Hollywood
executives by leaking their e-mails? But the thing that whoever did this
to Sony did, could be done causing a lot more damage against lot of other
targets, which is why it`s important I think to have a response that
discourages and stops further attacks.
SHARPTON: But you know, Caroline, what occurs to me is, it is a new world.
I mean, cyber-terrorism, cyber-attacks, I mean, it`s a whole new world now.
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Oh yes, it is. You know, and I think this whole
incident just shows how North Korea may have thought that they were ahead
of the game, but you shouldn`t discount the United States. I think that is
really the moral of this story. Because they will come back and they will
come and get you, if it is the United States government and they`ll get you
JENKINS: Because we`ve never actually -- we`ll probably never know.
Right? Because the U.S. government will probably never acknowledge it.
But, and because the government really isn`t in the business of attacking
another country`s internet. Normally when you see us involved in or
looking at internet access in other countries it`s because it`s a defense
mechanism, or you`re looking at potential terrorists.
SHARPTON: Now to a question of, should people be prosecuted for torture?
The ACLU is calling for Attorney General Holder to open a criminal
investigation into the torture program. And the "New York Times" editorial
board wants to prosecute torturers. Quote, "No amount of legal pretzel
logic can justify the behavior detailed in the Senate report. Indeed it is
impossible to read it and conclude that no one can be held accountable. At
the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent
criminal investigation." "The Times" calling for former Vice President
Dick Cheney and other Bush officials to be included in any investigation.
Caroline, should Dick Cheney and others be prosecuted?
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Yes, I think that they should be prosecuted. If only
because and I think that "The New York Times" op-ed actually outlined this
extremely well. What kind of precedent does it set, if President Obama
says, yes, we`ve just had this horrendous torture report released, yes,
this is terrible, but we need to look forward now. No, you can`t just look
forward. You must look back. And I would also add the caveat, that if
you`re going to talk about prosecuting those responsible for the torture,
you should also consider pardoning those that have already been held and
charged with a crime, people like John Koriako (ph) who is the only person,
he`s a whistle-blower in all of this, the only person who has been
implicated and actually tried. So, yes, I think he should be prosecuted.
I think Dick Cheney should be prosecuted, but I also think the President
needs to take it upon himself to pardon those whistle-blowers.
SHARPTON: Judge Faith?
JENKINS: In our country, if you look at our system of justice, we take
into -- when someone commits a crime, unless the statute of limitations has
run, we hold these people accountable for committing crimes. And if you
look at the international treaty that we are a part of, the convention
against torture has tricky requirements, don`t torture, and that people who
do are prosecuted for torture. And no one, no matter how senior, can be
above the law. It`s not just a matter of law. It`s a matter of principle.
How can we as a country, go forward and try to influence other people to
prosecute people who torture if we don`t do it ourselves?
SHARPTON: Josh, I know you have an objective here about "The New York
BARRO: Well, I`m on the news side. I have nothing to do with what the Ed
board says. But I think the greatest value that would --
SHARPTON: Chinese wall.
BARRO: Yes. The greatest value that would come out of a prosecution would
be a public airing of exactly what happened here. It`s an extension of the
value that was in the Senate torture report itself. But I`d note that
that`s a report that the CIA tried very hard to get not released and that
the Obama administration was trying very hard to delay and prevent seeing
the light of day. And so I think the reason that you won`t see a criminal
investigation is not, well, it`s partly about protecting people involved in
this, but it`s even more about protecting the secrets that would have to be
aired publicly in order to have a criminal trial. Now, I think the goal
for policy makers in Washington should be to prevent this from happening
again. Trials are an important part of that and would serve toward that
purpose, but since I think we`re not going to have one, we should be
figuring out what else we can do to rein in the CIA.
SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to keep following this. Torture investigations.
Dick Cheney will certainly be following this. Everyone, please stay with
me. When we come back, happy birthday to Senator Ted Cruz.
And my message to the champ, Muhammad Ali. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`re back with the panel, Caroline, Josh, and Faith. Should an
American prisoner of war be punished? Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was held by
the Taliban for nearly five years after he disappeared from his base in
Afghanistan in 2009. The army has just wrapped up an investigation into
his case which will likely determine whether Bergdahl was captured by the
Taliban, or whether he deserted his station. Now a U.S. general will
decide if he should be charged. He could face punishment ranging from loss
of back pay, to a court-martial. Faith, what do you think? Should he face
JENKINS: Well, it depends on the results of the army`s investigation. Did
he desert his base back in 2009? Was he captured? And if he was captured,
what were the circumstances of him being a prisoner of war all of those
years? So, those are the questions that the army is going to have to
investigate and answer and come up with a decision as to how they`re going
to move forward and if he`s going to be prosecuted.
SHARPTON: Josh, there`s a lot of passionate people on both sides of this
on whether he was a deserter, whether he was a prisoner of war.
BARRO: Well, I think this is a case, a good example --
SHARPTON: Or a hostage, or whatever the term should be.
BARRO: Right. I think it`s a good example of why you need prosecutorial
discretion. Now, if it was found that Bowe Bergdahl deserted, then they
may well have valid reason to punish him. But I think, you know, in terms
of him personally being prisoner of war for five years of punishment
enough, the question is, do you need a prosecution in order to discourage
other soldiers from deserting in order to create a sense that someone who
put a lot of other soldiers in harm`s way because so much work had to be
done in an effort to rescue him, is there a feeling in the military that
that needs to be punishment? I think the question for the generals is,
does the military need a trial of Bowe Bergdahl? If the answer to that is
no, then I think you can let them go and say, five years in a P.O.W. camp
SHARPTON: Isn`t that really the answer to that if he put others at risk,
Caroline. Because people were saying when he surfaced, well, he`s acting
strange. And I don`t know anyone that wouldn`t act strange after five
years whatever the circumstance with the Taliban. Isn`t it going to boil
down to whether he intentionally put other American military men and women
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Well, I mean, you know, I would also hope it would
boil down to what was his psyche? What was the psychological reasons for
him deserting his post? I mean, we were not in that battle space.
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: So, I am not a member of the armed forces. God bless
all of those that are going out, that are risking their lives every day and
doing unimaginable things. We were not in that battle space. We have no
idea his psychology. Those we hope in the army that are actually looking
at his case, this four-star army general who is now been tasked to look at
his case and look at the ramifications of this, will have all of that
information. But, you know, like Josh, like Faith have said, five years in
a prisoner of war camp should, you know, be enough. Whether or not we
don`t have information in the general public that perhaps the army general
is privy to that would say, actually no, he should be court-martialed, he
should be tried for this, I don`t know. But from what I have, the
information I have at my disposal, I would say I think that we don`t know
enough about his psychology. We should just say, okay, let`s draw a line -
SHARPTON: But are generals quickly, are generals qualified to really test
BARRO: Well, I think the key question is not so much his psyche unless he
was insane or something, which I don`t think anybody has suggested.
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Or PTSD. I mean, we could have any number of kind of
psychological issues going on.
BARRO: Right. But so many soldiers serve without deserting their post. I
think it`s a little bit of a cop-out to say, you know, well, Afghanistan is
so difficult, it`s understandable. That said again, I think it`s a
question of does the military need this trial for people to feel --
SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to see. Caroline, Josh and Abby, thank you
for your time tonight and happy holidays to all of you.
BARRO: Thank you.
MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Judge Faith.
Before we go, I want to send a prayer to our good friend, the champ, boxing
legend Muhammad Ali was admitted to the hospital over the weekend with
pneumonia. His condition is improving and doctors hope he`ll be home soon.
I`ve grown close with Ali over the years and wish him my prayers for a
speedy recovery. Get better, champ. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Days after the tragedy in Brooklyn, the families of the fallen
officers continue to mourn as a city and nation deal with the aftermath of
the two NYPD officers gunned down senselessly. What happened that
afternoon was incomprehensible. Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu sat
in their patrol car doing their job in a Brooklyn neighborhood, not far
from where I grew up, they were protecting the citizens of the community,
doing a good job, a brave one. Liu was a seven year veteran, he had
recently married. Ramos, a three-year veteran, was a married father of
two. He just celebrated his 40th birthday. Now because of a senseless and
cowardly act, we`re left hearing the painful voices of the families left
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUCY RAMOS, AUNT OF OFFICER RAFAEL RAMOS: I hope and pray that we can
reflect on this tragic loss of lives that have occurred so that we can move
forward and find an amicable path to a peaceful co-existence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Many of us have said this over and over. Violence is not the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: If you`re on Michael Brown`s side, you walk with dignity. If
you`re on Michael Brown`s side, you stand up with pride and call to uphold
the law. If you do anything to harm others, you are on your own side.
You`re not on Brown`s side. We are on the side of Michael Brown to fight
for what is right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: There`s one thing we have to be brave enough to fight the good
fight together. And that fight must always reach for the higher moral
principles. We cannot become like the elements that we are fighting.
Gandhi said, if we live in a world where it`s eye for an eye, the whole
world goes blind. It`s time for those of us that could see to help show
the way out of this darkness.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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