'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, February 23rd, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 23, 2015
Guest: John Stanton, Spencer Ackerman
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: The Glenn Greenwald tuxedo bingo is a
game I so want to play.
HAYES: I totally just asked Glenn Greenwald what he was wearing and
I`m really happy about that.
MADDOW: I`m just saying, you know, if we ever set up like pub quiz,
if that`s ever you and me, you have now locked us into that game forever
and we will give away Glenn`s tux. It`s going to be great.
Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate it, man.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us the next half hour.
And today, the news is nuts. For example, what would you get if you
combined the values of GM, General Motors, and GE, General Electric, and
McDonald`s, and Walmart? What do you get if you combine the values of
those four gigantic companies? You would get one Apple.
This is crazy. The second largest company in the country is Exxon in
terms of its mobile. Apple, as of today, based on its stock price today,
Apple right now is valued at more than double the value of ExxonMobil.
Apple is GM, plus GE, plus McDonald`s, plus Walmart together.
Just as a point of reference, if Apple were a country, Apple would
have somewhere between the 19th and 20th highest GDPs in the world. So,
Apple would be a little smaller than Saudi Arabia a little bigger than
If you want to get to the valuation of Apple as a company right now,
add together the entire size of the economy of Iceland, Brunei, Jamaica,
Nicaragua, Jordan, Lebanon, Guatemala, New Zealand, Kuwait and Ireland.
Add them up and you are not quite at the valuation of one American company.
If Apple decided to give the world an allowance, every human being on
the planet earth, each individual member of the human species would get 100
bucks from Apple. That is how big Apple computer is with what its stock
price hit today.
That`s the kind of news day that today is. It`s just nut -- it`s
just weird. It seems like you are making it up.
Today was also this kind of news day that brought us this from Idaho.
I have to say, if you are a toppler watching this program, his, please ask
your mom or your dad or whatever responsible adult is nearby if it is OK
for you to see the next part, OK? Like I said it is from Idaho. So, brace
This is Idaho State Representative Vito Barbieri. Mr. Barbieri
represents an area called Dalton Gardens in Western Idaho. And today in a
hearing about a bill that will propose new abortion regulations in his
state, Representative Barbieri voted to impose those restrictions, voted
that doctors should be prohibited from doing something they already do in
Idaho because one of those doctors know let the legislatures decide
instead, because the legislators know better than the doctors, particularly
when it comes to lady parts. And the delicate matter of where exactly
those parts are.
Just watch this. This is from the Idaho legislature. They start to
talk about colonoscopies and things just go downhill from there. I swear
we did not edit this. This really happened today. Because this is what
today is like in the news.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STATE REP. VITO BARBIERI (R-ID): You mentioned the risk of
colonoscopy. Can that be done by drugs?
DR. JULIE MADSEN: Mr. Chairman, Representative Barbieri, it cannot
be done by drugs. It can, however, be done remotely where you swallow a
pill and the pill has a little camera and makes its way through the
intestines and the images are uploaded to a doctor who`s often thousands of
miles away who then interprets that.
BARBIERI: Follow up, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Representative Barbieri --
BARBIERI: Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy?
Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is
with the --
MADSEN: Mr. Chairman and Representative, it cannot be done in
pregnancy simply because when you swallow a pill, it would not end up in
BARBIERI: Fascinating. That certainly makes sense, doctor.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sometimes, there`s nothing to add. Sometimes the most
straightforward headlines are all that you really need to tell a story like
I should tell you this appeared on Representative Barbieri`s
Wikipedia page shortly after this incident today. Quote, "On February
23rd, 2015, Representative Barbieri learned that if a woman swallows a
pill, it will not end up in her vagina."
And then the relevant footnotes, which are accurate.
According to "The Associated Press" today, the Idaho bill to add
these new restrictions on doctors which Representative Barbieri supported,
his bill pass today. Also Representative Barbieri himself is on the board
of a crisis pregnancy center. Though, to be fair, when he went to the last
anti-abortion crisis pregnancy board member meeting, they were talking
about how the baby comes out of the lady`s tum tum. You could see where he
could get confused.
That guy`s bill passed today, even within shin bone connected to the
knee bone problem. That was basically the character of the news today. We
are not even getting to the freakishly giant rats the size of cats that are
turning up in England and that apparently totally immune to all standard
We`re not even getting to that today, which is also in today`s news
because for all the things that are hard to believe in today`s news and
today was a doozy -- for my money, the single hardest thing to believe in
today`s news is something that happened in Washington, D.C. It happened
just after 6:00 p.m. Eastern tonight a little while ago. It happened when
Republicans in Congress failed to move a bill that was supposed to prevent
the shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of
This is going to happen. It is looking more likely than not the
first major consequences of the Republicans taking over Congress is the
Department of Homeland Security will shut down this week because House and
Senate Republicans cannot agree on a way to keep it open.
By now, we have lived through the sequester, which were arbitrary
cuts, including cuts to the military, cuts specifically that were designed
to be so bad and stupid that nobody would want them to take effect, but
they took a effect any way. We lived through the government shutdown which
happened when Republicans held the federal government hostage in order to
try to get President Obama to decide he was against Obamacare after all.
We have seen the Republican Party do all of that from their position as
controlling half of Congress.
So, maybe now they control the whole thing, this may not seem as
surprising as say British super rats the size of cats or a grown male adult
who thinks that babies come from ladies tummies or the stock market saying
today that one company has an economy the size of, oh, I don`t know, Saudi
But in context, this is almost impossible to wrap your head around.
The part of the government that grew to become the Department of Homeland
Security was created by George W. Bush nine days after the September 9/11
terrorist attacks, in a serious and frankly moving address to a joint
session of Congress, President Bush announced this centerpiece policy of
his post-9/11 government. What would ultimately become the biggest
transformation of the federal government since the post-World War II era.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, for the
last nine days the entire world has seen for itself the state of our union
and it is strong.
Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state
and local governments have responsibilities affecting homeland security.
These efforts must be coordinated at the highest level. So, tonight, I
announce the creation of a cabinet-level position reporting directly to me,
the Office of Homeland Security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was with tasked with running
the Office of Homeland Security. When it came time to make that Office of
Homeland Security actually a full cabinet-level Department of Homeland
Security, Republicans in the House and Senate were basically unanimous in
their support for doing that. There were Democratic defections, especially
in the House, Democrats weren`t all comfortable with creating this massive
new agency with the frankly creepy name.
But, you know, Republicans were fully, even chest-thumpingly on
board. Homeland security was their thing, right? In the Senate,
Republicans voted unanimously to create the Homeland Security Department.
Of course they would, right? They are the law and order party, right?
That`s historically been part of the heart and soul of the Republican
Party, or at least how they want to be seen.
Right now, that is getting more difficult to explain. The Homeland
Security Department today encompasses 16 federal agencies, including
Customs and Border Protection, and FEMA, and the Secret Service, and TSA,
and Coast Guard, and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and Immigration
and Customs Enforcement and lots more. This afternoon, Homeland Security
Secretary Jeh Johnson gave a press conference where he stood with the heads
of those agencies and some employees from the Homeland Security Department,
and he basically warned Congress that they are putting the country at risk
by shutting down his department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: That continuing resolution
expires in just four and a half days. The clock is ticking. As I stand
here, there`s nothing from Congress to fund us beyond that point. A
shutdown of homeland security would have serious consequences and amount to
a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On the day of weird news, on a day when a lot of strange
things and a lot of hard to believe things happened in the news, the
Republican failing to fund part of the government created by a Republican
president with mostly Republican support that is supposed to keep the
homeland secure that has that for its name. For my money, that is the
weirdest thing I have seen in a long time in politics or without. But as
of this vote tonight as of 6:00, it looks like this is happening.
Joining us now is John Stanton, Washington bureau chief for "BuzzFeed
John, great to see you. Thanks for your time tonight.
JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED NEWS: Good to be here.
MADDOW: John, are you surprised Republicans are allowing this to
happen? I guess the 6:00 vote tonight wasn`t necessarily thought of as --
thought of as something that was going to be the solution. I have to admit
it is weird to me it has gotten this late.
STANTON: I have to admit that`s kind of adorable actually. Given
how much they have done to this point.
No, it`s not surprising to me at all. What you have to understand is
that Republicans, their desire to get in to a fight with Obama over these
issues of what they say is executive overreach is really sort of the
biggest over-arching issue for them right now. Particularly in the House
of Representatives where the members don`t face the kind of electoral
pressures that say Republicans in the Senate do or more importantly in a
lot of ways 2016 Republicans will.
You know, they see this as a winning issue for them. Their base guys
are out. They`re telling them this is a good idea. So, they are willing
to pick this fight.
You know, the fact they have done it several times, gone to the brink
on this one and a shutdown and all sorts of brinksmanship, this does not
unfortunately really surprise me at all.
MADDOW: Well, are they going -- I guess I feel your judgment of my
naivete. I can feel it as your friend. I can see it. I recognize it in
But the thing that is -- I will make a case for my surprise, which is
that this isn`t shutdown the evil federal government, shutdown the
leviathan, the federal government doesn`t do anything good any way. This
is like shut down the one part of the government that we will not say a bad
word about. Shut down the one part of the government that has a creepy
jingoistic name. shutdown the one part that was created by George W. Bush
with all but unanimous Republican support that they have never had a word
against. I mean, this is like the political equivalent of them banning
Isn`t there some homeland security specific push back even within
their own party?
STANTON: There is. I mean, you know, Senate Republicans certainly
are looking at the House guys going, look, on the one hand we are saying
with wing we need more money and border patrol people down there to handle
immigration issues and we are the party of law and order and we`re tough on
security and beating up on the president over his handling of foreign
policy and, you know, you guys are doing this. This is going to make us
But I think there is this sort of general belief and feeling that
this is the moment in which they have to try to fight the president on this
issue that has become sort of the issue du jour for a lot of the base,
which is a notion of executive overreach on immigration, health care and
other things. Once you start to bring in that anger towards Obama, it
almost, it overrides everything else that is going on within the party and
on the Hill. There is not much room for compromise on the House side.
MADDOW: Do you think -- looking ahead at the next few days -- the
funding expires on Friday. That will be the shutdown of the department.
Do you think they will do something in terms of a short-term extension or
something else? Do they want it to be over or where they want it to go as
long as possible because they like these politics?
STANTON: I think it depends who you talk to, I guess. I think
leadership, certainly, the last thing they want is a short-term kind of a
situation where they are constantly having to refight this. They want to
talk about their economic policies, their education policies, energy stuff.
They don`t want to talk about President Obama`s immigration stuff and they
don`t want to have this constant brinksmanship that has become their
hallmark over the last six years in the House.
The Senate side particular, that is the last thing they want to do.
But, you know, they`re not going to get a bill passed before Friday that
funds the DHS through September, or the end of the fiscal year or calendar
year. So, really, it`s either going to be a shutdown over a couple of
weeks, probably the best-case scenario for them or this rolling short-term
CRs which I think is what they want to avoid at this point.
MADDOW: Wow. I know we saw this coming. I can`t believe this is
the week and it is actually happening and I bask in your judgment of my
John Stanton, Washington bureau chief for "BuzzFeed News" -- John,
thanks a lot, man.
MADDOW: All right. A lot more on the show tonight, including
Democrats sifting through the rubble of last year`s elections. Some very
good and bad news when it comes to energy and how much you are paying for
it, and we`ve got a big story you are not going to see anywhere else on TV
tonight. We`ve got a reporter who has blown open a story that has really,
really, really upset one big-city police department and that story is ahead
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUBTITLE: Today in the TRMS production meeting --
MADDOW: The DNC autopsy seven pages. They could have done it double
spaced and made it ten, you know what I mean? Come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It turns out this is a crime.
This time last year, look, Duke Energy dumped millions of gallons of
toxic coal ash sludge into the Dan River in North Carolina. Coal ash is
what`s left after you burn coal for electricity. And Duke Energy has
decided to just dump that stuff into giant lagoons right alongside
When one of the lagoons burst and emptied millions -- tens of
millions of gallons of this in into the Dan River last year, it coated 70
miles of that river in this toxic goo full of mercury and arsenic and other
toxic heavy metals.
Now, that river, the Dan River and a few others as well, they don`t
stop at the state line. They run both sides of the border, say, between
North Carolina and South Carolina. In South Carolina, Duke Energy got sued
over those giant toxic ash lagoons. Duke was forced to clean them up.
But when the same folks tried to sue in North Carolina, north of the
border, the state government in North Carolina stepped in and blocked those
lawsuits from going forward. Now`s the part where we mention the
Republican governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, for 29 years before he
became governor, he was an executive at Duke Energy.
So, in South Carolina, they were able to sue and force Duke Energy to
clean up these disasters waiting to happen. In North Carolina, with a
governor from that company they were not able to sue.
Now, Duke is getting nailed for this any way for this disaster, and
for the other places across the state in North Carolina where they have
been illegally leaking millions of gallons of toxic coal ash goo every day
in to the state`s waterways.
The reason they are getting nailed for it finally is Duke has been
charged with a crime. Nine criminal counts filed by three federal
prosecutors against Duke Energy. "The A.P." reporting that Duke will
settle with the government over these criminal charges for something around
$100 million. If so, that would be the second largest amount any company
has ever had to pay for violating the Clean Water Act.
And, yes, Duke Energy is a $50 billion company. So, maybe $100
million doesn`t hurt them that much, but it`s something. It is $100
million and it would have been nothing had the Justice Department not
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: I just to tell you -- we have an amazing piece of reporting
to bring you tonight that involves one big city U.S. police department, one
national scandal involving the war on terror and one guy who served 23
years in prison for a thing he did not do. The dots connecting those
various stories are incredible, and the reporter, who`s breaking the story,
is going to join us here live in just a moment. The first time you will
see this story on TV. We have been cooking this story and working on it a
few days now. It is honestly pretty shocking stuff and it is straight
Don`t go anywhere.
MADDOW: There is a story that`s been breaking over the last few days
that had the most unexpected geographic twist right in the middle of it.
It starts in Mauritania. Mauritania is a very large country in West Africa
and borders Senegal and Algeria, sort of that neighborhood. Its land area
is 90 percent the Sahara Desert.
Two months after 9/11, so, September, October, November, 2001, a man
walked in to police headquarters in the capital city of Mauritania and he
turned himself in for questioning. He had lived in Germany in the past.
He had been questioned in conjunction with a bunch of terrorism
investigations. And when the police called him after 9/11 and asked him to
come in and be questioned again, he said OK. And he came in voluntarily.
Now, initially, the U.S. and other intelligence agencies had
suspicions that this guy maybe an al Qaeda operator at some level. They
didn`t really know, maybe he`s a facilitator or recruiter. But,
eventually, they took him to custody and got him to Guantanamo. They sent
him to Jordan. He didn`t know where he was going to end up. Where he
ended up was Guantanamo.
And once he was at Guantanamo, they eventually decided that guy was
not a low-level facilitator. They decided he was a huge deal, a huge
priority. The Defense Intelligence Agency in 2003 designated him as a
having special projects status. And so, they planned a special projects,
special interrogation for him. They wrote up their plan, their
interrogation plan of what they wanted to do to him. That written plan for
what they wanted to do to him ended up in the torture report after the
Senate released right up after the 2008 election.
A "Wall Street Journal" reporter named Jess Bravin also got hold of
it and wrote it up. He describes the interrogation plan as such, quote,
"In January 2003, agency memorandum listed interrogation tools that
included yelling, strip searches, shaving the head and beard, and 20-hour
days. Water could be poured on his head to enforce control. He could be
ridiculed, placed in mask, made to wear signs with Arabic labels like liar,
coward, animal or dog. Dogs could be brought in to agitate him. The
prisoner himself could be forced to act like a dog, collared, barking,
performing tricks. He could be treated as a woman and forced to wear a
burqa, or confronted with a female interrogator in close physical contact.
The plan called for preventing him from praying or alternately
forcing him to worship a stag idol. He could be kept in a completely white
room to reduce outside stimuli and present an austere environment, or have
light filtered through red plastic to produce a stressful environment.
Interrogators could question him while using a strobe light to disorient
him and add to a stress him or hooded while questioned, thus inducing
feelings of futility."
They wrote it up in a lot of detail what they wanted to do to him.
The request for what they wanted to do to him, it went to General Jeffrey
Miller, who was running Guantanamo at the time and he signed off on it.
Then it went to the head of the Southern Command at the Pentagon, General
James Hill, and he signed off it on it.
And then it went to the top lawyer at the Pentagon, William J. Hanes,
and he signed off on it. Then, it went to the Deputy Defense Secretary
William Wolfowitz. You might remember him from last week, recently turned
up on Jeb Bush`s list of foreign policy advisers for his presidential
campaign. Paul Wolfowitz was asked to sign off on this plan for the guy he
signed off on it, too.
And then the plan kept going and upstairs to Donald Rumsfeld, defense
secretary at the time, and he personally -- Rumsfeld personally signed off
on it of what they wanted to do to this one identified Mauritanian guy. As
part of this out there plan for this guy, they wrote up -- they wrote up
their plans, right, including some very specific stuff they wanted to do to
him. They said they wanted to blindfold him and take him out on a boat and
drive him around the island, drive him around Guantanamo in the boat making
him think he was transported by sea to some other far away and worse
The prisoner later said, the man later said they kept a bag over his
head the whole time they kept him on the boat. They stuffed him into some
kind of straitjacket, and from his neck to ankles, they packed all of the
space underneath his clothes, all the space between his bare skin and those
clothes with ice cubes. And then once he was packed like that, with ice,
with a bag over his head on the boat, they beat the hell out of him.
At one point, they showed him a fake letter about how they had
arrested his mother at home in Mauritania and they were interrogating her
too the way they were interrogating him, and they were thinking of bringing
her to Guantanamo, putting her as the only woman in the all-male prison.
So, this elaborate plan they had gotten permission from the highest
levels. But when it came time to do it, to actually carry it out, who they
turn to do it is a Chicago cop. And that`s where the story takes this
dramatic, and weird geographical turn, because this guy at Guantanamo, the
prisoner at Guantanamo, his name was Mohamed Ould Slahi.
On his own terms his case is one of the strangest, most well-
documented cases at Guantanamo. He`s still there today, right now. He`s
the only person to have published a diary of his time at Guantanamo while
he is still in prison there.
At one point he was ordered released bay federal judge in 2010. The
judge who said the government had never proven any of its claims against
him and he must be released. He was not released. Prosecutors at the
military tribunals at Guantanamo decided not to bring any charges against
this guy, even though he confessed to everything under the sun because he
recanted all those confessions and told his interrogators he would say
anything they wanted to hear to stop them torturing him. Quote, "I don`t
care as long as you are pleased. If you want to buy I am selling."
So, there`s this very high-profile case at Guantanamo where his
torture is really exceedingly well-documented. In part because it`s
written up and signed off all the way to the top. We know everything they
asked to do to this guy. We saw the plan they wrote up for him. Senate
investigators documented what they actually did to him. The guy himself
wrote up what they did to him.
Nobody, including the military believes his confessions because they
tortured those confessions out of him and now, apparently the plan is to
never prosecute or release him specifically because of the way they
tortured him and how much we know about that torture. That was all done
while he had special projects status at Guantanamo.
And the guy who headed him up as a special project, the man who led
that special project interrogation, the man who led that special project
interrogation that led to Mohamed Ould Slahi confessing to anything and
everything, just make it stop, the guy who ran that interrogation is a
Chicago police detective, was, at least at the time.
Detective Richard Zuley of the Chicago PD. He was a navy reservist
when he was sent to Guantanamo and he headed up what has become the most
notorious post-9/11 interrogation not conducted by the CIA. After his
stint running interrogations at Guantanamo, he ultimately went back to the
Chicago PD. He was there until 2007 when he left the police department for
Now there`s the question of his interrogations back home in Chicago.
His cases back home in the Chicago PD. Like the case of Lathierial Boyd
was arrested in 1990 after two men were shot outside a Chicago nightclub.
Lathierial Boyd asked to be put in to a lineup after he was arrest. He
said he didn`t do it. Nine eyewitnesses looked at him in the lineup and
none of the nine eyewitnesses picked him.
One of those eyewitnesses told the detectives that he was not the
guy, that this guy definitely didn`t do it. But somehow, that information
never made it in to the police reports. And Lathierial Boyd was convicted
and served 23 years in prison, 23 years before the state looked at his case
again and dismissed the charges and set him free after 23 years. That was
Richard Zuley`s case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LATHIERIAL BOYD: I was mounted to the wall and floor. I remained in
that room two lineups and I remember I asked after that second lineup, I
asked Zuley if anyone had picked me out of the lineup. And he said no.
And I said, see, I told you. You got the wrong guy. I haven`t done
He smiled at me. And said, we`re charging you any way. It still
doesn`t seem real, that I was there and went through all of that. Or that
I`m here. It`s -- I`m still trying to --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For weeks now, "The Guardian" newspaper and specifically a
great reporter I have known forever named Spencer Ackerman has been digging
in to other cases that Richard Zuley worked on now that Lathierial Boyd has
been freed. An attorney who worked with him and claims to have more
exonerations than any other private lawyer in the United States, she said
that she is working with on three other Richard Zuley cases from Chicago.
Three other convictions that involved that detective who went from Chicago
to Guantanamo and back again, and these hard potentially disturbing
questions of how much overlap there was in his work between those two
Joining us now is Spencer Ackerman. That reporter from "The
Guardian" who`s been doing so much digging.
I should also say that the Chicago police department has given a
statement in response to Spencer`s reporting and our questions to them
about it. We have posted the whole thing at Maddowblog.com.
I`ll tell you, though, the kernel of it is this, they basically say
the allegations and in the guardian`s reporting, quote, "are not supported
by the facts." They said they don`t want one individual`s actions from
decades ago to obscure the everyday good hard work of the good work of the
Again, I`ll tell you, the full statement is posted online.
Spencer Ackerman, thanks for being here. It`s nice to see you.
SPENCER ACKERMAN, THE GUARDIAN: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, I first want to ask about the statement from the Chicago
PD. I know they wouldn`t give you a statement for "The Guardian".
ACKERMAN: It has ban week now that we have sent them detailed
questions about Richard Zuley, about Chicago policing and related aspects
of the story and have heard absolutely nothing.
MADDOW: We have tried to get a statement from Detective Zuley or
from his lawyers. We have not received any response from them.
Did you ever get in touch with Detective Zuley or for anybody
ACKERMAN: Repeated efforts went completely nowhere, through
spokeswoman for his current job he declined to comment. We pursued further
to try to give him every possible opportunity to respond to this story.
MADDOW: So, Spencer, the troubling and obvious implication here is
there is continuity between what ended up being well-documented techniques
at Guantanamo, an interrogation team led by this Chicago detective and
potentially interrogations and confessions obtained back home in Chicago.
What can you say about the continuity in terms of techniques and what we
know how prisoners say they were treated?
ACKERMAN: So, these techniques in Chicago a history with a really
disturbing and dark legacy of police torture, specifically against African-
Americans appear to act like something of a harbinger for what would happen
at Guantanamo Bay against Muslim detainees. For instance, Richard Zuley
back in Chicago would coerce confessions by the case of a woman named Anita
Johnson (ph) who still in prison telling her that she wouldn`t see her
family again if she wouldn`t sign a confession.
That sounds rather reminiscent of Richard Zuley telling Mohamed Ould
Slahi that if he didn`t become either a confessant or a witness against
other Guantanamo detainees and against al Qaeda, people he didn`t actually
know, his mother would be taken to Guantanamo or his family threatened.
That`s a rather unsubtle rape threat, by the way, by sending his mother to
the all male environment at Guantanamo Bay.
Lathierial Boyd had disconfirming evidence, things like a piece of --
link things like the lineup you mentioned, the fact that other witnesses
didn`t see him, the car he drove was not the car seen at the crime and so
forth. Ignored by Zuley and at trial, similarly, Zuley ignores a host of
disconfirming evidence about Mohamed Ould Slahi and brings together some
false information against Slahi.
In the case of a guy who`s still in jail in Illinois named Lee
Harris, Zuley used that guy as an informant. And slowly but surely over
the course of a summer to solve a gruesome 1989 murder convinces Harris to
just sort of shade up his story. So it looks more like he was an
eyewitness. That sounds reminiscent of trying to get Slahi to confess to
things he couldn`t have been present at.
MADDOW: Do you think the effort to see if other people were wrongly
convicted, who have connections to the Chicago reporter -- the Chicago
detective, do you think that effort is likely to turn up things --
something about the Chicago police department that is broader than just
him, or is this really specific to his techniques? Are you saying the
thing you are saying he did as a detective were his own innovations or was
this common practice?
ACKERMAN: From what I have heard about Chicago policing, this is a
systemic problem, particularly the reliance on confessions, instead of
actual physical evidence connecting people to the crime. I would think
that in Zuley`s case, really a rather thorough look through his old cases
it seems to be in the germinating phases of happening, might in fact find
what the state`s attorney in Cook County found in Lathierial Boyd`s case,
that people have been wrongly convicted.
How far does it go beyond Zuley? That is really an enormously large
question. But we have seen over the past -- I mean, look at the early
2,000s when the governor of Illinois threw out the death penalty cases
because of how tainted the investigations were. It seems like there is
something rotten about criminal justice in Chicago.
MADDOW: Spencer Ackerman, reporter if for "The Guardian" connecting
the dots I never expected to be connected. Spencer, thanks for helping us
your reporting. Appreciate you being here.
ACKERMAN: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: On Wednesday morning of last week, in the suburb of L.A.
called Torrance, California, there was an explosion that ripped through a
gasoline processing unit at an ExxonMobil refinery. That fire and
explosion injured four refinery workers, it forced about a dozen schools in
the area to go in to shelter in place mode for hours. Investigators are
still trying to determine what caused the pressure buildup that led to that
Look at the pictures, though. Look at the damage that it caused.
It`s sort of remarkable it wasn`t far worse in terms of injuries, given how
big the blast must have been. You can see from these images how this
square-like metal structure, it housed an electrostatic precipitator. You
can see that that unit was shredded in the explosion. Metal is all twisted
and snarled. Residents said the blast felt like an earthquake.
So, that explosion on Wednesday, that was a scary thing. It also
incidentally halted the production of gasoline at that ExxonMobil refinery.
When it comes to our gasoline dependence as a country, when it comes to our
gasoline-dependent economy, refineries are a bit of a bottleneck.
And in addition to that one blowing up last Wednesday and therefore
shutting down in Torrance, California, in addition to that one being
offline for that reason, there are a bunch of other refineries across the
U.S. right now where the workers are out on strike. Oil refinery employees
are now out on strike at 12 different plants in Ohio, California, Texas,
Louisiana, the strike spread this weekend to the single largest refinery in
the country, in Port Arthur, Texas.
By "Reuters" calculations, this means that one-fifth of the nation`s
production capacity in terms of refineries is on strike right now. One
fifth of our capacity is down because of these strikes, now and
indefinitely. These are the steelworkers who are out on strike. One of
the major issues they are striking over is safety for the workers at these
plants. Pay and benefits, as well but worker safety.
Talks are expected to pick up later this week. This is now the
largest U.S. oil refinery strike in more than three decades. I know we
have all been enjoying the recent stretch of low gas prices in the country
that. Is in part due to the raw cost of oil going down because there`s a
lot of supply right now, but another part of that equation is the refining
capacity we have as a country. That is where one of our bottlenecks
traditionally is. And right now one fifth of our refining capacity is
affected by this strike. This is a big and still-developing deal.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: After the 2012 election, the election where Democrats kept
control of the White House, kept control of the Senate, managed to pick up
a few House seats even actual after the 2012 election where they not only
held the White House, they did great on every other level, 2012 election
which was great for the Democratic. It was a disaster for the Republican
After that 2012 election, Republicans decided to perform an autopsy
on themselves to figure out what went wrong. Their 100-page report was
sort of refreshing in its honesty. Quote, "Public perception at the party
is record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what
the Republican Party represents. Many minorities wrongly think we do not
like them or want them in the country."
Republican Party autopsy after 2012, it was mostly a diagnosis of the
party`s messaging problems, but did include one specific policy
recommendation. It said this, quote, "We must embrace and champion
comprehensive immigration reform."
How`s that going? Republicans in Congress have not only not done
that, they are now on the verge, this week, of shutting down the Homeland
Security Department because they are opposed to what the president has done
in terms of immigration reform.
So, yes, Republicans mostly ignored their post-2012 autopsy. But
now, it`s Democrats term, because, yes, Republicans got spanked in 2012,
but the election before and the election after that, 2010 and 2014, just
could not have been worse for Democrats.
And so, now, after this 2014 second consecutive midterm shellacking
the Democratic Party has produced its own autopsy, which starts with a
little devastating truth telling of their own.
Here`s how the Democratic autopsy starts. Quote, "We have suffered
devastating losses at all levels of government since 2008 including 69
seats in the House, 13 seats in the Senate, 910 state legislative seats, 30
state legislative chambers, 11 governorships."
The first step toward fixing a problem is admitting that you have a
problem, I guess. But this is a big problem.
Democratic Party describing those electoral defeats as devastating.
Their solution is this -- and if you take off the back cover which says
nothing and the front cover which says nothing, it is a grand total of
So, nine pages if you count the covers, but this is it. This is
Just by way of comparison, the Republican autopsy was 100 pages, but
eh, you know, much of the new Democratic report is sort of filled with
nonsense platitudes that make no sense the closer you look at them. Quote,
"In order to consistently win on every level, we have to reconnect with the
reason we want to win and that reason is the people." Chicken soup.
So much of the report is that sort of like platitude-ness nonsense.
Unlike the Republican autopsy which did recommend that policy change on
immigration, this one does not recommend any specific policy changes for
Democrats, and at one level, maybe that makes sense them polls leading up
to the 2014 elections showed President Obama`s policies were popular, just
that Democrats didn`t do a good job attaching themselves to those popular
So, there`s no grand policy pronouncement in this from the Democrats.
There is, though, one interesting thing. Last week on the show we spoke to
a former Democratic congressman named Mark Schauer about a project that
he`s heading up called Advantage 2020, the Democratic Party initiative to
retake as many state legislatures as possible by the end of the 2020
election cycle so Democrats will be in a position to participate in
redrawing all the electoral districts after that year`s big national
Republicans had a huge year in 2010, their wins at the state level in
2010 allowed them to redraw the electoral districts to their advantage
because of that year`s census. Democrats are now trying to get theirs back
with this 2020 plan. It was actually possible because of what Republicans
did for a state like Michigan to give over half of the votes to Democrats,
yet send almost as twice as many Republican members of the House to
So, that Advantage 2020 thing is about undoing what the Republicans
did in 2010. It`s about Democrats trying to win state legislatures by the
year 2020 to essentially correct what the Republicans did five years ago.
And the Democratic Party`s autopsy report, which again is only seven
pages long, plus the controversy it identifies this strategy as an
imperative. They call it a three-cycle redistricting plan, to allow
Democrats to control enough state legislatures by 2020 so that they are
drawing the maps, not the Republicans.
Democrats say they are coming out with a full-action play in May to
build on these seven pages. We will keep an eye out on how they flush out
that very, very important single idea.
But this is the sort of long-term planning that Republicans have
turned into a science. Democrats may be wising up it to now, getting into
the game themselves. It`s fascinating to see them try. It`s going to take
more than seven pages and two nice covers to get there, though.
MADDOW: A whole new era in American politics starts tomorrow, maybe,
probably, maybe at least.
It`s been almost two weeks since the new Republican-led Congress
passed their legislation that would force the authorization of the Keystone
pipeline. Right now, that is the job of the administration. The bill that
Congress passed would make not the administration`s job anymore. It would
make it their own job and they would force the authorization of that thing.
President Obama doesn`t want that to happen. He said he would veto
that bill. If he does so, it would be the first meaningful legislation he
has vetoed ever. He has only vetoed two things in his presidency. They
were both small technical things of no political importance. But, now,
apparently he`s going to get to do it for real on a big one and soon.
And the timing on this is weird. Congress passed that bill, as I
said, almost two weeks ago. But then after passing the bill, which
President Obama vowed to veto, Congress went on vacation for a week without
ever actually sending the bill to the White House. So, the president could
They are apparently going to send the bill to the White House
tomorrow, which means that the president`s promised veto may happen
tomorrow. I guess the Republicans all wanted to be there in town for veto
This is a big deal. Both the Democrats and Republicans think that
President Obama vetoing this thing is going to be great for them.
President Obama has never vetoed any meaningful legislation in the six
years he`s been in office, but now that Congress is in control of the
Republicans and they are trying to send them bills they know he will not
sign, we are now unto a new era in American politics.
Welcome to the veto era. Fine weather we are having. It`s all very
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now,
it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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