All In With Chris Hayes, Monday, November 16th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Monday show
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: November 16, 2015
Guest: Michael Burgess, Adam Schiff, Will McCants, Eleanor Acer, Linda
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
Seventy-two hours after the worse terrorist attack in Europe and in
decade, Europe, the Middle East, the E.U., the U.S., Russia, and broader
community of nations finds itself in a crossroads. Within a span of two
weeks, ISIS has murdered civilians in Beirut, Lebanon, Paris, France, and
possibly Russian passengers flying from Egypt as well.
As the French president tells his nation it is now at war as
investigators across several continents traced the network that plotted and
carried out the atrocity, men who so far appear to be European nationals.
As French Muslims, and Muslims around Europe wait for the backlash to come
as world leaders convene in Turkey for the G20 and discuss proper response
as nations and churches and mosques and synagogues unite across the globe
in condemnation of ISIS, and its cult of death, and as hundreds of
thousands of desperate refugees fleeing the horror of war and the cruelty
of ISIS, now wonder if that same cruelty, combine with political posturing
will deny them safe harbor.
We`ve got lots of late breaking developments on this day. MSNBC`s
Brian Williams has been on top of all the breaking news today.
What`s the latest, Brian?
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, Chris, thanks.
Light rain started to fall in Paris about five hours ago. It blotted
out some of the votive candles burning on the sidewalks. It blotted out
some of the chalk drawings people have made in memoriam over these past two
But still, the people came out. They came out in their sadness. They
came out in defiance. Their president has said they are a nation at war.
They came out beneath the beautiful tricolors lit up on the Eiffel
Tower after two days plunged into darkness.
Correspondent Bill Neely is in the center of Paris for us tonight to
set the scene and look at the day in the investigation as well.
Bill, good evening.
BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Brian.
A day of high emotions and warnings from French leaders, not only from
the French President Francois Hollande who had a direct message for ISIS in
the French parliament, he said, you won`t destroy France. France will
destroy you. It was also the day that French investigators named the man,
the so-called mastermind they believe is behind the Paris massacres.
NEELY (voice-over): This is the man France believes was behind the
Paris massacres. This ISIS propaganda video is showing Abdelhamid Abaaoud,
once jailed in Belgium, now believed to be in Syria.
What you can`t see behind his vehicle are the bodies he`s about to
drag on ropes.
He was close to at least two of the Paris killers. Police are still
hunting for this suspected accomplice, Salah Abdeslam, who they describe as
dangerous. His brother is believed to be one of the killers, another
brother questioned and released after police raided the family home in
"More attacks in France are being planned," the French prime minister
warned today, which is why police raided more than 160 homes, arresting two
dozen suspects and seizing dozens of guns and a rocket launcher.
The French president addressing lawmakers vowed to destroy ISIS --
ordering a French aircraft carrier closer to Iraq and Syria. A dozen
French warplanes hit ISIS overnight bombing its stronghold of Raqqa, Syria,
in the biggest French raid so far.
In Paris today, not the noise of war, but silence for the city`s
victims. Millions remembering, though they can`t forget -- praying, too,
for the critically ill.
Dozens of victims remain critically ill, clinging to life at this and
other Paris hospitals, shot multiple times and, say doctors, utterly
PHILIPPE JUVIN, CHIEF OF CASUALTY, GEORGE POMPIDOU HOSPITAL: I never
received 50 patients together.
NEELY: One surgeon who served in Afghanistan says he`s never seen
anything like it.
Worse than Afghanistan?
NEELY: It must have looked like war here on Friday.
JUVIN: In fact, it was a shooting of war, you know?
NEELY: France`s Muslim leaders condemned the killings. They honored
the dead today and sent a message to ISIS.
YASSER LOUATI, MUSLIM COMMUNITY LEADER: Whatever you do, no matter
how long it takes, we will beat you.
NEELY: And it`s not just French police investigating this, it`s
police in Germany, Spain, and Belgium, intelligence agencies in Britain,
the U.S., and Israel. ISIS now a global threat, Brian, demanding a global
WILLIAMS: And, Bill, along the same lines, I heard you say earlier
this evening, it wasn`t just the French people in the intended audience
when the French president said they are a nation at war. I heard you say
he was aiming for a different audience entirely.
NEELY: Yes. When you think of what NATO means -- I mean, one of the
clauses in NATO is that if one of the countries is attacked, everyone
should help it, should join in, possibly as far as going to take military
So, I think Francois Hollande was not just speaking to the French
people. I think he was prompting other NATO nations, especially the United
States, to help more. It was interesting that at the beginning of his news
conference in Turkey today, President Obama said very pointedly that the
U.S. was going to give more intelligence to France, more quickly.
I thought that signaled a very small shift in the military
relationship between the United States and France, which, as we all know,
has been catchy at times. So, I think Francois Hollande was calling on all
NATO countries to do more to abide by the idea of collective defense, and I
think that was aimed at the United States more than any other nation,
WILLIAMS: Bill Neely, thank you so much -- reporting for us on a
cold, rainy night in Paris.
As Bill mentioned in the setup piece, a lot of police efforts were
aimed almost immediately at Belgium.
NBC`s Keir Simmons is there for us tonight.
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Brian.
That fugitive, that wanted man who is believed to have fled Paris with
two others got to the border with France and Belgium, was stopped, but then
was released by police. Salah Abdeslam comes from this suburb of Brussels,
and the fear is that he is still in this vicinity.
The police have been searching for him. Earlier today, they closed
off a number of streets. Police commanders went from house to house.
There were snipers on the roof, and witnesses talked about hearing gunfire,
but in the end, when they led people away from a building, they do not have
appear to have found him.
Over the weekend, they arrested seven people. Five of them have
released, two charged. One of those released was Salah`s brother who came
out today making a statement saying, "We don`t know where he is. I am
innocent. My parents are shocked and bemused by all this."
But there`s a sense of bemusement in the community as to how it`s
possible that this particular suburb has been linked to a string of
terrorist attacks going all the way back to the 2004 Madrid bombings.
People I speak to here say they believe, the young people here have been
brainwashed. They say that there is a strong criminal element in this
community that is very poor. They say there is drug dealing and even gun
running and some of those people have become radicalized, and they have got
involved with is.
Around 500 more per capita than any other European country have left
here and gone to fight in Iraq and Syria including with ISIS. Many of them
have come back.
And, Brian, the lesson people are talking about is that the
politicians here have turned away. They have closed their eyes. They have
covered their ears to the problem and hope it would go away, and instead,
ISIS has grown stronger in the heart of Europe, this capital city -- Brian.
WILLIAMS: Keir, thanks. Keir Simmons reporting tonight for us from
And let`s get the mood of the streets in the city of light tonight.
NBC`s Richard Lui is there for us.
Richard, two things, number one, when the barricades come down and
when people are allowed to go near where there`s been such an awful loss of
life, it can take on a very spooky feeling, and after a trauma like this,
there are stages. Like shock and sadness and then denial and anger and
And I imagine you have seen the whole kaleidoscope of emotions during
your time there so far.
RICHARD LUI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Brian, we have seen all three.
We saw it on Saturday, we saw it on Sunday.
But you talk about those barriers coming down at the Bataclan Theater,
today, they opened the streets, so we were able to get close to that very
theater where 89 people lost their lives, and that just happened today. We
also saw the Eiffel Tower lit up today.
But, you know, I think one of the conversations that sort of
characterizes it for me, there was a woman who came by on the plaza here,
just a day ago, a woman in her 60s, she said, Richard, took my by my elbow,
she took to the corner of this plaza. And she said, there is this sign
here (SPEAKING FRENCH) where Secretary Kerry mentioned that today,
"buffeted but not toppled."
She said, Richard, I`ve lived in this area for 50 years, and I`m not
going to let these people topple me.
And that, I think, was a very clear indication of the spirit of the
groups that are here in France, specifically here in Paris. And I was
mentioning earlier to you today on this very plaza, which is 400,000 square
feet, it was amazing from noon to 4:00 filled halfway with those chalkings,
statements about how they feel about their lives, statements about how they
feel about the terrorists, and statements about how they`re going to get
through the three stages that you mentioned earlier -- Brian.
WILLIAMS: MSNBC`s Richard Lui on the streets of Paris tonight.
And, Chris Hayes, the streets have seen so much history in that city,
not quite this much tragedy as you mentioned in over a generation.
Back to you.
HAYES: Brian, thank you very much.
All right. Joining me now MSNBC contributor Christopher Dickey,
foreign editor at "The Daily Beast".
Christopher, you were there for the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks, and I had
been reading the reporting and actually corresponding with some folks in
Paris who were for both, and wondered if you could talk about the mood of
this in the wake of compared to what happened after "Charlie Hebdo"?
CHRISTOPER DICKEY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, the thing to
remember about "Charlie Hebdo" is it was a very focused attack. There had
been a vendetta by al Qaeda for a long time against "Charlie Hebdo".
They`ve been threatening it, they`ve been attempts and so on. And there
was a feeling that this was a terrible atrocity, and it was assault on the
freedom of the press, and all those issues.
But it was about them. And I hate to say it, but to some extent
people could react to the attack on the kosher supermarket in the same way.
It was about them. That was their problem.
These attacks hit the softest possible targets, outdoor cafes in
Paris, a lot of them working class, a lot of young people. There`s a lot
more feeling that this is about us, that this is about anybody getting hit
for any reason. There was no warning. There was no idea that they had
done anything that would provoke this kind of attack.
People are just going to a rock concert. People are in cafes, smoking
cigarettes, drinking wine, and all of a sudden, people drive up and shoot
the hell out of them and blowing themselves up.
That`s the kind of thing that really settles in and hurts and rankles
with people. And I think that there is a level of fear here that there was
not after "Charlie Hebdo", even as bad as that was.
HAYES: French President Francois Hollande today saying that among the
killed were 19 different nationalities represented, a sort of snapshot of
what is tremendous multicultural and pluralistic place of the streets of
He also had this to say about the idea of a war of civilizations.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): This is not
a war of civilizations because those killers do not represent a
civilization. We are at war against jihadist terrorists who threaten the
whole world. We need to be merciless, ruthless, we know, and it is cruel
to say it. It is French people who killed other French people on Friday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Is there a sense in France of what the path forward means? He
talked about war, but what does this look like now?
DICKEY: Well, you know, I think there`s a lot of action right now in
-- especially around Raqqa, the capital of ISIS in Syria. But I think
people are still trying to come to terms with what it means, if this is
war. Does it mean that we`re going to have to be worried every day, every
hour, that there`s going to be a new attack?
I think there`s a possibility that that is the case. Is it going to
be enough to rock n` roll over Syria and bomb the hell out of some cities
there and some towns and some insulation? Or is that just going to insight
All of these are open questions. That`s why I think that Francois
Hollande would really like some help from the international community. And
I think it`s kind of upsetting to people that he`s not getting it.
HAYES: All right. Christopher Dickey, thank you very much.
Still ahead, continuing coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris and
President Obama`s defense of keeping ground troops out of Syria amid
renewed criticism of the ISIS strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My only interest is to
end suffering and keep the American people safe. If there`s a good idea
out there, then we`re going to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, faced with a barrage of questions of the U.S.
strategies against ISIS, President Obama forcibly defending the policies
arguing American efforts degrade and defeat ISIS are ultimately going to
work with time.
More of the president`s rebuke of his critics and why he doesn`t think
the U.S. should send troops into Syria, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What we do not do, what I do not do is to take actions either
because it`s going to work politically or it is going to somehow in the
abstract make America look tough or make me look tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, President Obama forcibly defended his administration`s
strategy against ISIS, the group that claimed responsibility against the
Speaking earlier in Turkey at the G20, the president said the U.S. is
intensifying its collision air strikes in the region, increasing assistance
to local ground forces in Syria, Iraq, all while very strongly defending
his decision not to send ground troops into Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What`s been interesting is in the aftermath of Paris, as I
listened to those who suggest something else needs to be done, typically
the things they suggest need to be done are things we are already doing.
The one exception is that there had been a few who suggested that we should
put large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground. And it is not just my
view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisers that that
would be a mistake, not because our military could not march into Mosul or
Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIS, but because we would see a
repetition of what we`ve seen before, which is if you do not have local
populations that are committed to inclusive governance and who are pushing
back against ideological extremes, that they resurface unless we`re
prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Congressman Michael Burgess, Republican from
Congressman, do you favor ground troops in Iraq or in Syria?
REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: Well, I wouldn`t mind some Syrian
ground troops leaving Western Europe and heading home to protect their
homeland. I think that might be a good idea.
HAYES: But American troops, do you -- are you -- we can`t control
them. We can control American troops. Are you in favor of American troops
being placed in Iraq or Syria?
BURGESS: Well, I would be in favor of us having a discussion about
the strategy. I`d be in favor of the administration being a little more
forthcoming in sharing a little bit more than certainly what has been
shared with the member at my level to this point.
Look, I signed on to Jim McGovern, the Democrat from Massachusetts, I
signed on to his letter saying, "Let`s have a debate about an authorization
for use of military force in Syria." Right now, we don`t have one, and
there`s military activities occurring in that country without that
I think we should have that debate. I think we should that
HAYES: Has it a failure of House leadership to not get an AUMF to the
floor? They control what gets put for a vote on the floor. They`ve been
able to get other things put up. Why haven`t seen an authorization for the
use of military force?
BURGESS: Well, we can point fingers at each other, but I say to you
we have not seen an overarching strategy come back to us from the
administration. We`ve heard speeches, but we`ve seen no strategy.
Look, Chris, I was in Mosul several times in the last decade. The
president does not even give me a lecture of Mosul. We did clear it out.
We did hold it.
Unfortunately, we walked away from it in August of 2011. I thought at
the time, this is not a good idea. This part of the world doesn`t tolerate
a vacuum. I assumed it would be Iran would quickly fill that vacuum. I
had no idea about ISIS, nobody did at that point.
But the fact of the matter remains -- you leave an empty space in that
part of the world, someone is going to fill it.
HAYES: So, as to the president`s remarks about people urging things
that we`re already doing, I mean, I`m curious what the concrete steps are
here. People talked about arming Kurdish forces, air support, something we
are doing. I mean, are there concrete things you would like to see done?
BURGESS: Well, I think the first thing after the events of three days
ago, the first thing I`d like to see done is hit the pause button on any
further Syria refugees coming to this country. My understanding is 1,700
already placed here with the plans for a lot more over this next fiscal
year. In fact, we had a hearing in the Helsinki commission with Assistant
Secretary Anne Richard. She talked about the vetting process after I asked
her about it.
And basically, Chris, five agencies are going to vet these folks
before they come and settle in our country. The problem is, you`ve got too
many people involved. No one has veto power over the other and --
HAYES: Congressman, do you have evidence to present the 1,700 are
connected to terrorism or any reason to suspect they are?
BURGESS: Look, after last Friday night, I think for those of us who
have a keen interest in protecting our country, we ought to hit the pause
button. Let`s rethink what we`re doing.
HAYES: Just on that question --
BURGESS: Right now, we don`t know.
HAYES: Just to --
BURGESS: The FBI said they can`t vet the people because they don`t
have a data base. Don`t you think we need a database first?
HAYES: Congressman, is it your understanding, as it is mine, that the
folks carried this out in Paris are European nationals, Belgian citizen,
French citizens? Are you in support of stopping for instance the visa
waiver for French or Belgian citizens?
BURGESS: Look, I`m in favor of putting the pause button on people
from Syria when we have no idea who nay are, why they are coming here, or
what they intend to do. Our own director of the FBI said we don`t have a
database to compare.
HAYES: The French and Belgian nationals, you favor ending the waiver
BURGESS: Look, I think what I favor is hit the pause button until you
know what`s going on. The president talks about 10,000, 65,000, 100,000.
We don`t even know what the number is.
HAYES: Congressman Michael Burgess, thank you for your time.
Joining me now, Democrat from California, Congressman Schiff.
I want to get your response to your colleague there on a number of
things. First of all, on the question of Syrian refugees, your response?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: My response is, it`s always been
the proud tradition of the country to be a haven for people who are fleeing
persecution and I don`t think we should have a knee jerk reaction that
we`re going to stop taking any refugees whatsoever. We have to do the best
we can to vet these people, but I don`t think that we want to turn our back
on the worst refugee crisis since World War II. So, I think we have an
ethical obligation and it`s in the proudest traditions of the country.
HAYES: As to the other question here about the authorization of use
of military force, why has Congress not actually 15 months into the
campaign against is actually passed anything?
SCHIFF: Well, Chris, as you know, I`ve been pushing this issue for
over a year now with amendments on the House floor and letters to our
leadership. It`s a terrible avocation of congressional responsibility.
I think initially there was a confluence of interest between the
executive saying they felt they needed one and Congress not wanting to have
a vote on one. Ultimately, the administration did send us a proposed AUMF
which was the speaker rejected. But instead of rejecting it and amending
it and producing something else, the speaker threw up the hands, we`re not
going to have a debate or vote on this.
At a time when we are sending special operators very much in harm`s
way and already have troops in Iraq, I think it is completely
irresponsible, and we will rue the day that we did this because it means
Congress has taken itself out of a system of checks and balances when it
comes to the executive`s power to make war.
HAYES: Congressman, are you satisfied that the White House does, in
fact, have an achievable strategy in terms of defeating ISIS?
SCHIFF: The administration does have a strategy to try to squeeze
ISIS territorially, to squeeze its finances to go after its social media
campaign. But I am concerned, Chris, the timetable is too long, that ISIS
will be allowed to maintain its space in Iraq and Syria from which it can
plan and plot and resource attacks against a Europe and the United States.
So, I think we do have to do something to change the dynamic on the
ground. One of the things I would like to see the administration re-
examine, and that is the possibility of establishing a buffer zone or a
safe zone to test the Turks who have been advocating this, whether they are
willing to put Turkish troops within that zone across the Syria border to
protect this zone, if we protect it from the air. That kind of a
partnership with Turkey and the Gulf countries may be enough to start to
change the dynamic on the ground, but something has to shrink ISIS space
more quickly than we`ve been able to do, or we`re at significant risk of
attacks like we saw in Paris.
HAYES: All right. Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you for joining me.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Still ahead, latest from the ground in Paris as coverage of
the aftermath of the attacks continues.
HAYES: A three day mourning period designated by France`s
president has now officially ended, but people are still bringing flowers
and candles to a makeshift memorials not far from the attacks, where my
colleague, Thomas Robert, joining me now.
Thomas, what`s the mood there this evening?
THOMAS ROBERT, MSNBC REPORTER: Chris good evening, or good morning,
early good morning. It is the 17th now in France, and it`s just after 2:00
a.m. here, and we are at the site where so many people have come out today
to lay flowers and also to light candles to remember those lost in the
horrific attacks on Friday.
Now, one of the people who we met who was a survivor of one of the attacks
at La Petit Cambodge is a young journalist named Charlotte Brehaut. She is
from Britain originally, but she is here and is working as a journalist,
and she was out to dinner with friends, and that`s when the attack
happened. But she came here today with a specific message for ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLOTTE BREHAUT, JOURNALIST: To those of you watching at home, who
could imagine this happening on your doorstep, do not let yourselves be
ruled by fear.
The Islamic state groups are trying to use these symbols of our daily
lives for their own political end, and we will not let them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT: So Chris there we were hearing from Charlotte and her message
about not wanting ISIS to win, making sure that people know that she is not
going to settle for anything less than the life she had before, and we
certainly hope for her and all for people that live here in Paris that they
get it back.
HAYES: All right. Roberts, thank you. Hopefully that commotion will
die down bind you, appreciate it.
Up next, what the attacks in the last few weeks signal about a
possible changing strategy by ISIS and first hand account of alleged ISIS
defector just after the break.
HAYES: Alleged ISIS defector who was interviewed by Michel Weiss of
The Daily Beast described a major shift in the militants strategy after
their defeat in the northern Syrian town of Kobani earlier this year.
Now the long battle against Kurdish forces, supported by U.S. air
strikes, ISIS was effectively using the thousands of foreign fighters
joining its ranks as cannon fodder, according to defector, and the group`s
eventual withdrawal from Kobani marked its first significant loss of
territory. And with its forces depleted in the flow of foreign troops
reduced to a trickle, the defector told The Daily Beast leadership had to
rethink how to best make use of the loyalists from outside Iraq and Syria.
They are now asking people to, quote, stay in their countries and
fight there, kill citizens, blow up buildings, whatever they can do,
according the defector.
In just the last few weeks, we`ve seen what appears to be that plan in
action. Not just Friday`s attacks in Paris, but the double suicide bombings
claimed by ISIS that killed dozens of people last week in Beirut, a
devastating attack on a pro Kurdish rally in Ankara last month, in which
Turkish officials linked to ISIS, and the downing of a Russian plane over
Egypt just a couple of weeks ago, in which the evidence suggests may have
been caused by a bomb possibly planted by
Joining me now, Will McCants, he`s director of Brookings Institution
project on U.S. relations with the Islamic world. He`s author of the ISIS
Will, first of all, the book is excellent. I learned a lot from it.
HAYES: Second of all, what do you make of this? For a long time it
seemed that the self-proclaimed caliphate was focused largely on its sort
of traditional territorial conquest.
It seems to have entered into a new phase.
WILL MCCANTS, ISIS APOCALYPSE: That`s right. The Islamic state has
always spoken the language of global jihad, but decided to act locally, and
with the Syrian civil war and the failure of the Iraqi political system,
they focused on state building at home in the middle east.
But over the past few weeks, their strategy seems to have shifted, and
we think it`s because they begun to lose a lot of territory over the past
year, they`ve lost 25% of their land, and they have lost tens of thousands
of fighters, as you said in the introduction.
HAYES: So what does this mean? I mean, when people talk about
disrupting, defeating ISIS, if this is now the strategy, what does it mean
for policymakers as they try to think about countering that?
MCCANTS: Well, I think in Syria and Iraq, the Obama administration
actually has the right policy. It`s put a lot of pressure on the
organization, and I think that`s one big reason why it`s shifted to
terrorist attacks abroad. It`s a sign of weakness.
But, unfortunately, that means we`re going to see more of these kinds
of attacks in the future.
The other thing I would say is that the Islamic state has a lot of
other territory that it can move to in the middle east because of all the
security backings that are opening up with the political meltdown in the
HAYES: There`s been much discussion politically about the notion of
the -- basically the phrases used by leaders, radical Islam, for example,
are tremendously important, that is it`s some kind of moral cowardice not
to use that term, but as someone who studied the ideology of ISIS, what`s
your take on that?
MCCANTS: Well, I come from at it from an academic angle, and we`re
used to talking about Islamism as a political movement, and we talk about
military Islamism if you want to be more specific about these guys, they
are (inaudible) Jihadis, adherence to a very ultraconservative form of
I understand the politics and it makes for good talking points, but it
doesn`t provide a lot of analytical clarity.
HAYES: One of the most striking parts of your book is just learning
how Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi essentially in an American prison in Iraq
essentially cross pollinated with some of the senior offices from Sudan`s
military and ISIS is forged as this sort of ghastly alliance between this
very violent extreme version of Islamism and the kind of bureaucratic know-
how of the vestiges of the Sudan state.
MCCANTS: That`s right. It was a nasty stew that we were brewing and
we didn`t even know it. All the guys who had been used to running in an
authoritarian state met up with guys who wanted to create a new
authoritarian state, and we are seeing the results of that marriage of
convenience all those years ago.
HAYES: And these are the people brought together, just to be clear
here, in the wake of the American invasion of Iraq, kept in American
custody in a prison that one would later call the academy for the kinds of
sort of radicalization that was happening there.
MCCANTS: That`s right. This is where a lot of the former Saddamists
were indoctrinated, but it`s worth knowing that the current leader of the
Islamic state, who was housed and rubbing shoulders with all these guys, he
was radicalized well on his own before the American invasion. It`s the
invasion that gave him an opportunity to thrive.
HAYES: A lot of people talking about what ISIS wants out of this, and
real debate about that.
What`s your sense of what they want out of an atrocity like the one
they committed in Paris or Beirut?
MCCANTS: Well, they may want the same kind of thing that Al Qaeda
wanted with the 9/11 attacks.
Al Qaeda wanted in the first instance for its enemies in the west to
leave it alone, but if that did not succeed, they were willing to accept
its enemies going all in with their military to bring on an apocalyptic
battle in which they would present themselves as the defender of Muslims.
The Americans initially did not oblige, we went in with air power and
special forces in Afghanistan, but later we sent in the large number of
ground troops and also in Iraq, and we obliged Al Qaeda. And my worry is
that we`re going to do the same thing in reaction to these attacks.
HAYES: All right, Will McCants, great. Thank you.
HAYES: Still ahead, President Obama`s response to growing calls to
block the entry of Syrian refugees into the United States. That`s next.
HAYES: We`ll be continuing to cover the very latest on the Paris
attack and the manhunt for suspects right here on MSNBC, and tomorrow night
I`ll be joining you live from Paris for the entire hour.
Up next, the movement among American governors to try and prevent
Syrian refugees from entering their states. The presidential candidate
suggesting we accept or deny Syrian refugees based on a religious tests.
HAYES: President Obama today rejected calls in the wake of the Paris
terrorist attacks to reverse his plan to accept a relatively small number
of Syrian refugees into the U.S., saying that we should not equate the
victims of violence with terrorists.
Yet governors in 18 states now say they oppose accepting Syrian
refugees either for now or permanently, though it is not clear they can
legally keep them out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a greater nexus with Syria to terrorism
other political body across the globe.
As a result, the United Sates and the state of Texas has to be extra
cautious as it concerns anybody who is entering from Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, who today
called on congress to stop the Obama administration from bringing in
refugees, maintains it is simply too dangerous, claiming, quote, "there`s
currently no ability to vet these people. By letting refugees in our
country without vetting, we are putting America at risk."
Joining me now to fact check that claim, Eleanor Acer, she`s senior
director of Refugee Protection Human Rights First. You`ve been working with
refugees going through this very process.
You heard my guests Michael Burgess, congressman, say we really don`t
know what we`re doing with this.
Can you just describe what kind of process the refugee goes through?
ELEANOR ACER, REFUGEE PROTECTION HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: Refugees are
actually more closely vetted than just about any population that comes to
the United States.
First, they are identified abroad. They are registered. Information is
taken by the U.N. refugee agency. Then, before they can be resettled to the
United States, they are interviewed one on one by a trained department of
homeland security officer. Then a barrage of checks are conducted, by U.S.
intelligence agencies, by the FBI, the department of defense, the
department of homeland security.
They are so incredibly thoroughly vetted that, you know, they really
absolutely no risk to this country.
HAYES: And, in fact, it has been a trickle of people coming into this
country. To be clear, there`s a huge difference between the kind of thing
Europe is grappling with, which is waves of thousands of people landing on
the shores of Greece and making their way through the E.U. and the kind of
thing that`s happening in the U.S.
ACER: These are vulnerable refugee families who have been identified
specifically to be resettled to the United States.
U.S. is essentially hand picking these people and vetting them through
a very very careful process.
HAYES: Ted Cruz today, who actually turns out to be the son of a
refugee, says he`s going to introduce legislation that will bar Muslim
Is there any precedent for the U.S. government essentially doing
religious weeding out as it evaluates people?
ACER: The United States is a country with a diverse and rich
religious population. We should really be true to American ideals here.
This is a chance to really show what America values are and to really
demonstrate U.S. leadership.
HAYES: One of the things, I want to play you something that Trump
said earlier tonight about the refugee population, get your take on it.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president that
wants to take hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people and
move them into our
We don`t -- think of it. And we don`t even know who they are. There`s
no paperwork. There`s no anything.
They are strong looking guys, they`re powerful looking guys. So I
said, why aren`t they back fighting for their country? That was number one.
Then I say, is this a Trojan horse?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Okay, so two things there. Hundreds of thousands of people. Is
the president calling for us to take hundreds of thousands of people?
ACER: No, the United States and the president has committed to
resettle only about 10,000 Syrian refugees, and that`s a drop in the bucket
compared with the millions that are being hosted by key U.S. allies like
Jordan and Belize.
HAYES: And the second point is something that I`ve actually heard
from quite a few conservatives, republicans, who is that this is strong
looking guys, powerful looking guys, that these are essentially all young
fighting age men.
How does that line up with the actual demographic for the refugees
ACER: The refugees who are resettling in the United States are
actually coming from camps in the middle east, some are living in urban
areas, these are refugees that have been monitored for years, their
families, they`re torture survivors, children, women -- these are not some
kind of Trojan horse or something like that.
HAYES: Only 2% of Syrians are military age men with no family.
ACER: We also know a lot about them. These are people who are
interviewed over and over again. We have biometric data from different
points in time. We got a lot of information about these people. We do know
who they are.
HAYES: Do governors under U.S. law have the ability to keep these
ACER: Governors do not have the right to decide who can enter their
state or not.
These refugees who are given status under U.S. law, they have
absolutely valid status and governors can`t decide who can come in and out
of there state.
That`s not what America is about.
HAYES: Once the federal government under the powers granted by the
constitution to local immigration grants that status, they have freedom of
movement inside the states just as anyone else would.
All right. Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First, thank you so much. Thanks
Both Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have suggested in recent days that America
should accept Christian refugees from Syria, but not Muslims. Cruz
explained by saying, quote, "there is no meaningful risk of Christians
committing acts of terror."
President Obama today had some very harsh words for that position.
We`ll show you what he said next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I hear folks say
well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims. That`s
shameful. That`s not American. It`s not who we are. We don`t have religious
tests to our compassion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Obama responding to calls from Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush
for the U.S. to admit Christian refugees from Syria but not Muslims.
The Obama administration efforts to settle Syrian refugees in the U.S.
is becoming a major point of conflict in the wave of the Paris terrorist
At least 18 governors now saying their states will keep the refugees
out. The GOP presidential candidates competing to take the hardest line.
Rand Paul today introducing a senate bill to suspend -- to bar
refugees from Syria and other countries. Chris Christie ruling out
accepting orphan refugees under five-years-old when pressed by Hew Hewitt.
Ted Cruz saying today he plans to introduce a bill specifically banning
Muslims Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.
There are new reports republicans may have threatened another
government shutdown over blocking refugees from coming in.
This afternoon, Mike Huckabee tweeted that if house speaker Paul Ryan
will not lead and reject the importation of those fleeing the middle east,
he needs to step down today and let someone else lead.
Joining me now, Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American
Association of New York. Linda, your response to this news cycle today on
LINDA SARSOUR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARAB AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NEW
YORK: As an American born an raised in Brooklyn, and that runs an
organization that serves refugees, (inaudible) and immigrants right here in
New York City, I`m so disturbed by what I`m listening to. I mean, religion
test? How do you know what religion someone is? I want to understand what
that even looks like.
We are trying to bar the very people who are running away from the
same terrorism that we`re talking about. The Syrian refugees left there
country because of ISIS, because of the regime, and that`s why they flee to
places like Europe. And our country is known to be welcoming refugees.
I mean, our Statue of Liberty continues to be a symbol of welcoming
immigrants into this country. I`m disturbed by the rhetoric of people who
are in our leadership, and I`m grateful for President Obama to stand up to
HAYES: I mean, Rupert Murdoch, one of the most powerful men in the
world, I think it`s fair to say, says this, Obama facing enormous
opposition in accepting refugees, maybe make a special exception for proven
Christians. Can you imagine a state department bureaucracy that is
effectively able to tell who`s a proven Christian?
SARSOUR: What does that mean? Are they going to do a blood test and
if it turns into wine? It`s ludicrous to hear what these people are saying,
and the majority of the refugees that we`re talking about are young
children. These are young children who have seen so much trauma, violence,
potentially their parents massacred. They have been displaced. Some have
drowned on the way to Europe. And we`re taking a drop in the bucket.
To be the greatest nation in the world, one of the most wealthiest
nations in the world, and for us to be debating over 10,000 Syrian
refugees, we`re not making a dent.
HAYES: Okay. What do you say to people you just say, okay, look. We
just saw, and I just want to be clear about what we know about what
happened, on the bodies of one of the assailants was a passport that
appears to be a Syrian passport. It is likely a fake passport, thought it
does appear to show stamps that suggested he came in a direction that many
refugees are using, Greece, through Macedonia and up into Europe.
People are saying, look, we can`t afford taking any more risk. There
has to be a limit.
SARSOUR: Well we heard from the previous discussed vetting process of
refugees is extremely tedious. I know this from the clients who I`ve served
and refugees who have come here.
I tell people, let`s stop basing our decisions on unconfirmed
information. We still do not know if that Syrian passport belonged to one
of these people.
And let`s remember, most of those who are committing these attacks are
homegrown. They`re from Belgium, they`re from France. They are not people
who showed up -- we are now seeing the French bombing a country that has
huge populations of civilians still.
People have to understand that ISIS is playing over this divide and
conquer. They want the world to hate Muslims. They want us to push Muslims
away. They don`t want the American government to see Muslims as their
partners, the Europeans to see Muslims in Europe as their partners. They
want to tell you they hate you. They don`t want you.
And this is how they play on the vulnerability of these men who are
now being sympathizers of groups like ISIS.
HAYES: And, I imagine in the work that you have done face to face
with people that have come from these places, people talk about the irony
the tragic irony of being terrorized by these monsters, frankly, who have
been committing unspeakably barbarous acts. To find yourself unwelcome
because of another act they committed.
SARSOUR: Absolutely. I mean, these people -- what people need to know
is that the largest group of victims of ISIS are Muslims. Muslim are the
largest victims, group of victims in ISIS. They`ve seen trauma, torture.
They have seen thing unfathomable that we as Americans will probably never
Here we are telling them, no, you can`t come to our country. You can`t
see normalcy in your life. You can`t see safety.
This is not the American way. That`s not what we are known for.
HAYES: All right. Linda Sarsour, thank you very much.
SARSOUR: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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