Guest: Steny Hoyer, Jonathan Alter, Jonathan Turley, Rep. Gary Peters, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Lars Larson, A.B. Stoddard
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Good evening, Americans.
Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
Republicans want you to think the torture issue is all about what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it. I‘m telling you, don‘t get fooled again.
AIG gets a blank check while U.S. automakers get the shaft. I‘ll talk to a couple of lawmakers outraged about the double standard in this country.
And President Obama says single payer is not an option. Gosh, I think he‘s making a big mistake here. That‘s in my playbook tonight.
And we‘ve got a text survey, so get your phones ready.
Plus, “Psycho Talk.”
All of that and a great panel.
But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
I think it‘s about trust, the word “trust.” OK. So let‘s choose up sides.
We have Dick Cheney and Karl Rove over here, and then we‘ve got President Obama and Nancy Pelosi over here. Now, the conservatives want to throw this at you. They want to say what did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?
Well, here‘s my question—what difference does it make? Does it really matter? I mean, the Bush-Cheney crowd is suddenly so concerned about conspiracy and transparency and accountability, at least when it comes to Democrats.
Now, here‘s what Karl Rove wrote in “The Wall Street Journal” today:
“Is the speaker of the House lying about what she knew and when? If she knew what was going on and did nothing, does that make her an accessory to a crime of torture, as many Democrats are calling enhanced interrogation?”
Wait a minute, that enhanced interrogation thing, that‘s a right-wing term here. Let‘s not get things confused here.
But let‘s hold it right here. For starters, Karl Rove seems to be admitting that torture is a crime, but this isn‘t about the truth or upholding the law. Do you think Karl Rove is really concerned about any of that?
What he‘s doing is the same thing Cheney is doing. He‘s doing everything he can to save his hide and save the skin of all the Bush cronies from the Bush administration.
Rove also says Pelosi should testify under oath. I‘m all about that, but real genuine from a guy who has been held in contempt for ducking subpoenas. He‘s made a career out of that.
Now, Democrats, folks, Democrats are not the issue. Nancy Pelosi is not the issue. The issue is, who came up with the torture policy? Who broke the law?
Now, the speaker brought the hammer down on that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: This is their policy, all of them. This is their policy, this is what they conceived, this is what they developed, this is what think implemented, this is what they denied was happening. And now they‘re trying to say don‘t put the spotlight on us, we told the Congress. Well, they didn‘t tell us everything that they were doing, and the fact is that anything we would say doesn‘t matter anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, tonight, in a late-breaking comment on “The Huffington Post,” Sam Stein did an interview with the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, former Senator Bob Graham from Florida. His testimony in this interview with Sam Stein on “Huffington Post” backs up exactly what Nancy Pelosi was saying.
I think she got it exactly right. Torture was a Bush-Cheney policy. They broke the law and they got caught. All this Pelosi stuff is just a desperate attempt by Republicans to distract the media and muddy the waters.
Now, the issue is, who gave the order to break the law? We heard it in the Senate hearing yesterday. Bush lawyers were told to find a way to make torture legal, so they brought us one memo after another memo, twisting the Constitution to fit their policies. And today, Speaker Pelosi suggested that the same thing happened at the intelligence briefings on interrogation tactics.
Democrats were only getting part of the story, she says. “I was told they were using enhanced interrogation techniques, but that waterboarding was not being used.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: I am saying that they are misleading, that the CIA was misleading the Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER: It‘s hard for me to imagine that anyone in our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress. I don‘t know what motivation they would have to mislead anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Really, Mr. Boehner? It‘s hard to imagine our intelligence could be misleading? Maybe this will help a little bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know that based on intelligence, that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Are people going to find out the truth? And the truth will say that this intelligence is good intelligence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: File tape is awesome, isn‘t it? The Bush-Cheney crowd must really think we‘ve got short memories, but we do have the tape.
They distorted intelligence to sell their own phony war in Iraq, lied to us about the whole thing, about WMDs. Now they‘re asking us to take their word for it on torture?
Now, don‘t by distracted. Don‘t get diverted into a he said/she said political tennis match. The issue is the law.
The Justice Department should do a full investigation, a nonpartisan probe into truth. That‘s right, truth, period.
By the way, Nancy Pelosi still wants a truth commission, and another thing, she called for one today, but she also requested that all CIA briefings to the Congress be released. I‘m all about that.
John Boehner, on the other hand, says, well, he doesn‘t think that a truth commission would really be very helpful, and that seems to be a pretty good indication to me as to who is really telling the truth.
Folks, this is about who do you trust? Do you want the truth?
I think we know who we trust. We had an election. I also think that the American people want the truth.
So Eric Holder, you‘re a good guy, attorney general. Can I ask you tonight, can you skip lunch tomorrow and maybe start making some phone calls and find somebody who‘s a real good attorney who can start this investigation?
Now, this is what we want to ask you tonight—do you believe that we should have a special investigation? You know the drill.
Joining me now is Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Steny, great to have you with us tonight, Congressman.
REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Ed, always good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: Who‘s telling the truth? Are we going to get the truth out of this? What do you think?
HOYER: You know, first of all, I agree with you, and I said this on the floor of the House today in response to a question by a Republican leader. I said, “Look, you‘re pounding on the table.”
The question is not who said what said this said. What is important is what was done. Did we break the law? Did we have advice to break the law? Was torture employed, notwithstanding the fact that the president of the United States said we did not torture?
Of course, that same president vetoed a bill supported by John McCain, who had been subjected to torture in Hanoi Hilton. He vetoed a bill. Unfortunately, we didn‘t override that veto because the Republicans in the House didn‘t support us.
But the fact of the matter is what we need to do is get to the bottom of, did we break the law? Did we in fact torture, notwithstanding the president‘s assertion that we did not? And if we did, how do we make sure that that doesn‘t happen again? Because it undermines, not strengthens, our security if the United States of America doesn‘t live up to international law and to its own values.
SCHULTZ: Steny, would you be in favor of what the speaker said today? You‘re the House majority leader, you can get your party on board with this. Do you agree with her that the CIA briefings, all the notes, should be released?
Can you go along with that?
HOYER: Yes, I can, and I‘ve said that we ought to have the availability of whatever information is available. But again, Ed, that‘s important, but what is more important, in my opinion, to get at the bottom of what exactly was done, why it was done, and whether or not in fact we knowingly broke the law and broke international treaties.
SCHULTZ: OK. So the Republicans and the conservatives are trying to make the case that the speaker of the House knew everything that was going on, and she didn‘t do anything to stop it.
HOYER: A, I believe the speaker. She did not. In fact, the briefing in which it‘s alleged that the specifics were set forth, she wasn‘t in that briefing. But notwithstanding that, I believe the speaker‘s assertions when she says them.
But again, whether I believe them, you believe them, or what she asserts as to what she knew or when she knew it, that‘s a stalking horse. That‘s a distraction.
We know things were done. We know that the law, we believe certainly, was broken, and we ought to find out whether the law was broken. That‘s the key, because the United States of America is a nation of laws, and we ought to follow the law, and we ought to find out whether we are doing so.
SCHULTZ: OK. You know what‘s interesting about this? Is that the GOP is asking us to believe that Nancy Pelosi supports torture, which I think is kind of farfetched.
HOYER: Not only that, Ed. Let‘s assume for the sake of argument—and I reject the assertions about the speaker. I think she‘s accurate when she says what she says. But let‘s say all 435 of us said that‘s OK. It would not make it OK.
It would not justify the president of the United States or anybody under the commander in chief‘s control to break the law, either the domestic law or international treaties in which we have entered. That‘s the issue.
SCHULTZ: Steny, great to have you with us tonight, Congressman.
HOYER: Good to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Thanks so much.
HOYER: OK. Thanks.
SCHULTZ: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer with us here on THE ED
For more, I want to bring in “Newsweek” senior editor Jonathan Alter tonight.
Why do I feel like we‘re on the tip of the iceberg here?
JONATHAN ALTER, SR. EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK”: Because we are.
ALTER: You know, we don‘t know the truth, Ed, of what happened.
ALTER: And that‘s what investigations are for. And, you know, my question for Steny Hoyer would be, you guys are in charge. Let‘s get on with this truth commission.
SCHULTZ: Well, that‘s my question. Yes.
ALTER: Let‘s get on—you started to ask him the question. He was, you know, on the defensive, trying to defend the speaker. And that‘s fine, but they have a lot of power in the House of Representatives.
They can get a special congressional committee to begin the process of investigating this. They can have a congressionally appointed truth commission. They have a lot of tools at their disposal, and they should get moving.
SCHULTZ: But they don‘t want to make it look political.
ALTER: It‘s totally political. The whole thing is political.
SCHULTZ: Well, now wait a minute. But if you‘ve got Nancy Pelosi out there today, the speaker, saying let‘s have a declassification of the CIA briefings, wouldn‘t that get to the bottom of it, take the politics out of it? Because the Republicans right now are trying to say that she knew everything about what was going on, she says she didn‘t.
ALTER: That‘s only a small part of the story, the tip of the iceberg, as you say. There‘s a lot for us to learn about here.
You know, nobody covered themselves in glory in 2001 and 2002 after 9/11, myself included. And Speaker Pelosi, she should have left that meeting and gone and pursued this aggressively. And she, as well as half the other people in town, are playing CYA right now. OK?
So let‘s get out of the CYA games and just get on with a truth commission or real investigation to find out what happened.
SCHULTZ: What about Eric Holder? Is he dragging his feet?
ALTER: Well, that‘s almost a separate issue, you know, whether this should be criminalized. Personally, I believe it should come after the search for truth.
First, let‘s find out how big that iceberg is that you mentioned. Let‘s find out everything we can about how American values were violated with this torture policy, call people to account, have a lot of congressional testimony, bring Dick Cheney up on Capitol Hill to get grilled.
SCHULTZ: Yes, he likes to talk.
ALTER: Then at that point, let‘s start talking about possible prosecution, but let‘s not put the cart before the horse. First, we have to find out what happened.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think it got really interesting today. You‘ve got the speaker of the House saying that the CIA was a mouthpiece for the White House.
ALTER: And you‘ve got Bob Windrom‘s report, the former NBC producer, who is suggesting that Cheney may have actually asked for waterboarding in order to find out if there‘s a connection between Iraq and 9/11, which would have been in direct violation of the law. So there‘s a lot of ground here to cover.
SCHULTZ: And I think the plot thickens from the standpoint that former Senator Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is now on record tonight backing up Nancy Pelosi‘s comments about the briefings.
So, as I say, the plot thickens. I think the American people aren‘t going to let this rest.
ALTER: No way. But my feeling is that the Democrats here have some responsibility on the Hill to get beyond, you know, this idea of trying to defend themselves against Republicans, who are throwing sand in their eyes. Let‘s move on to the main event...
SCHULTZ: Let‘s get it on.
ALTER: ... which is an investigation.
SCHULTZ: All right.
Jonathan, great to have you on with us.
ALTER: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Thanks so much.
Make your voice heard in our text survey tonight. Should Attorney General Eric Holder appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture? Text “A” for yes, “B” for no to the number on your screen, and we‘ll bring you the results later in the show.
Coming up, President Obama does an about-face on detainee abuse photos. I think he was right to listen to his generals.
Jonathan Turley disagrees with me. He wants transparency.
We‘ll debate it when we come back next on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
On his first full day in office, President Obama committed his administration to new transparency. He wrote and signed this memo on the Freedom of Information Act, which allows government documents to be released for the public: “A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency—sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
But just yesterday, the president decided to block the release of photos, that document abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, just days after he said he would not block them.
Folks, is this a flip-flop? I think it is.
Joining me now is Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University Law School.
Mr. Turley, great to have you with us.
I think we‘re on opposite sides of this. I‘m going to give the president some room here. Why do they have to be released right now?
PROF. JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Well,
one of the reasons, Ed, is it‘s the law. That is, the Second Circuit looked at this in a very good opinion—it‘s actually out on my blog if you want to read it. It goes through and explains that you cannot withhold documents under the Freedom of Information Act simply because it will embarrass you or the country.
Imagine if that was the standard? Obviously, George Bush constantly withheld things, so did Dick Cheney, saying that they would embarrass the country. That if you embarrass the administration, you embarrass the military, it‘s a national security problem.
There‘s no limitations to that rationale, but it‘s against the law. And what the Second Circuit said was correct. They were unanimous on that point. And what the president is doing now is to say simply that it‘s just not convenient, it‘s going to be too difficult for us, and it could be used as a recruiting device.
What I would suggest, Ed, is that the best recruiting device against our country is to show we‘re a nation of hypocrites, that we don‘t follow the federal law or international law when it‘s inconvenient. And that‘s what‘s happening here. That‘s why they reversed their position.
SCHULTZ: So the president—gosh, as an Obama supporter, Jonathan, it hurts me to hear “Bush” and “Obama” in the same sentence, but I guess that‘s where we are on this issue. That one kind of hurt.
Is he not just listening to the generals and thinking that, in the bigger picture, this information or these pictures will come out later?
TURLEY: Well, you know, George Bush always said that he was listening to the generals, and that he did this because it‘s in all of our best interests, when it‘s usually simply because it would be politically difficult. But there would be no limitation—if Barack Obama actually wins in front of the Supreme Court, that‘s his “Hail Mary” play, it would be a terrible, terrible, change in the law, that it would allow future administrations to say if it‘s embarrassing to us, it‘s embarrassing to the nation. If it‘s embarrassing to the nation, it‘s a national security concern.
But the other thing, Ed, is that, you know, by withholding this information—and I think this is what the secretary was talking about—by withholding the information, you make this much worse. What we need to do to defeat our enemies is to say that we‘re changing our policies, that we‘re not hiding from responsibility, and we‘re not hiding our sins.
And by the way, I think these aren‘t just redundant pictures. They may show that our abuse of detainees was much broader, it was not these Abu Ghraib defendants, that there was a culture.
SCHULTZ: Well, the president being a constitutional lawyer himself, I‘m going to cut him some slack on this. Listening to the generals, I think they‘re going to get released at one time or another, but I have to believe, Mr. Turley, that this trip overseas coming up might have had something to do with it.
What about that?
TURLEY: Well, regardless of the trip overseas, you know, if you say that you believe in the principle and the rules of law—and we are a nation of laws—then you have to comply with them even when they‘re inconvenient, even when they‘re embarrassing. And what President Obama is doing here, by reversing what his administration first told this court is simply saying it‘s not the right time to comply with the law.
Well, that makes this administration sort of Bush version 2.0. It is simply a ramped-up version of exactly what George Bush argued. And by the way, in his press conference, all the arguments he made in the press conference were expressly rejected by the court.
Well, I think the president is getting a lot of pressure on this.
He‘ll probably make another statement on it.
Jonathan, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
TURLEY: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.” A right-wing radio nut built his career spewing hate about Hillary Clinton. Now he‘s begging for help? Isn‘t that ironic?
It‘s next on “Psycho Talk.” .
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives?
Oh, yes, it‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”
Oh, what a sweet irony we have here tonight in the “Psycho Talk” zone.
It‘s radio talk show host Michael Savage again.
Well, you know his real name. I don‘t have to remind you that it‘s Michael Weiner.
You know, remember, he‘s the guy that the British home secretary Jackie Smith banned from the United Kingdom for fostering extremism.
Now, they don‘t want Weiner on the other side of the pond. I mean, that‘s what it comes down to. But here‘s the irony. Guess who Weiner needs help from now? He wants Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s help to get him off the U.K. banned list.
Hillary Clinton, can you believe that?
Now, this is the same guy who calls Hillary a fraud, a yokel, a very dangerous person.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: One of the people who is waiting in the wings who is a very dangerous human being is Hillary Clinton. I would take anybody over her. I would take anybody over this fraudulent huckster, this yokel, this dangerous yokel.
We had eight years of Hillary Clinton. And you don‘t know what‘s coming if she becomes president? Well, I called her Evita Peron 10 years ago.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Get down on your knees, Savage.
He wants Clinton‘s help?
Now, he had his lawyer send a letter to the secretary of state asking that she call the British government to withdraw the ban. Now the letter respectfully demands that Clinton and the State Department “take all necessary steps to call on the U.K. to rescind the ban.”
Now, here‘s an idea—maybe I should send a letter over to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and say, “Dear Madame Secretary, would you please encourage other world leaders to ban Weiner from their countries?”
Let‘s start with Argentina for that Evita Peron comment. You know, on second thought, you might want to warn the entire continent of South America. And while you‘re at it, I‘m not sure that Europe, Asia and Africa should really be exposed to Savage beast, either.
We‘re calling for an international Weiner ban. But Savage asking for Hillary Clinton‘s help? Oh, that is “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Our economy is about to take a big hit. There‘s news today that 2,000 GM and Chrysler dealerships are being forced to close. That could mean a loss of thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to the Treasury.
Folks, there is a double standard here tonight. General Motors has got a gun to their head, because they have to meet this deadline on June 1st. In the meantime, AIG is asking for, let‘s see, three years, five years, and more money to get their act together?
Joining me now is Congressman Gary Peters of Michigan. What a double standard here, Congressman. What do you have to say to the White House about this tonight?
REP. GARY PETERS (D), MICHIGAN: Well, Ed, we certainly have seen a double standard, especially in the past with AIG. Last year, the previous administration threw billions of dollars at the financial industry without the kind of restructuring demands that we have seen in Detroit for our auto manufacturers.
In my area in Michigan, Oakland County, we‘re all about accountability. But you have not seen that with financial institutions, particularly last year when billions and billions of dollars was sent.
Right now, as you mentioned, we‘ve got dealers closing. It is going to be jobs lost all over the country. Now this auto crisis is not just about the Midwest, but about every community across the United States.
SCHULTZ: Got to ask the question, is the president being fair to the automobile industry and really giving them a chance to succeed here?
PETERS: Well, the president has stepped up and has put in money. We‘ve got billions of dollars for Chrysler in order to get them to move forward.
SCHULTZ: But, Congressman, you know it‘s a fraction of what Wall Street has gotten.
SCHULTZ: We‘re talking about a double standard. We‘re talking about Wall Street getting what they asked for, AIG asking for more time and money. Now here come the wage earners of America who say it‘s not their fault—it‘s been poor management, poor design and the lot. And they‘re not getting help. They‘ve got a deadline. Wall Street doesn‘t have a deadline.
PETERS: That‘s right. I‘ll tell you what‘s really frustrating to me, Ed—we talked about this earlier—is the fact that GM has announced that they‘re going to be laying off 21,000 people across the country, 21,000 workers. Yet they are going to maintain their operations in Mexico, in Korea, in China, importing cars to China.
The American taxpayers invested in our auto companies to protect American jobs, American plants. And we‘re not seeing the sacrifice with the overseas production. I‘m very fearful as the economy recovers and people start buying cars again, we‘re going to be getting imports from those companies, because we‘ve lost all these jobs here in America. We simply cannot tolerate that.
SCHULTZ: So viewers of THE ED SHOW, are we making this connection? We‘ve dished out money to save jobs. GM has gone over to China to make them. And they‘re going to have an influx of 50,000 cars, between now and 2014. What‘s wrong with this picture?
PETERS: It is terribly wrong. There is absolutely no question, we‘ve got to force certainly GM to come to the table and understand—I‘m frustrated. GM says they can‘t build small cars here. We know that Ford Motor just announced they‘re building the Ford Focus, an all electric vehicle, in Michigan, in an older plant.
Fiat is coming in to build small cars with Chrysler. GM needs to do the same thing. We cannot tolerate these jobs going away, because it‘s not just those 21,000 jobs. It‘s all of the auto suppliers, the beauty parlors, the restaurants, everybody.
SCHULTZ: It‘s a ripple effect that I don‘t know that this country is ready for. Congressman, thanks so much for your time tonight.
PETERS: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: The worst of Wall Street offenders was taken to task on Capitol Hill yesterday. AIG got 180 billion dollar bailout, life support from the federal government, after investing in risky mortgage derivatives. But Congressman Dennis Kucinich is furious that AIG has made no effort to repay lost pension funds to some Ohio workers.
The Congressman from Ohio joins us, Dennis Kucinich. Good to have you with us tonight.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Good to see you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of this? What Do you make of this right now? This is horribly unfair, and Democrats in power are sitting by allowing this to happen.
KUCINICH: Well, America‘s a country in transition, but we don‘t often talk about the transition that‘s happening to our economy. We‘re moving from industrial capitalism to finance capitalism to crony capitalism. As a result, the wealth of the nation is being transferred upwards into the hands of fewer and fewer people. And the decline of our industrial base is a very dangerous sign for our national security as well.
SCHULTZ: All right. So should AIG get more time? More money?
KUCINICH: Well, you know, I voted against the Tarp from the beginning. So I was never for bailing out AIG. If capitalism works, then the people that rise and fall with their decisions ought to have to rise and fall on their decisions.
However, when it comes to steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping, these aren‘t pencil pushers we‘re talking about. We‘re talking about steel workers. We‘re talking about auto workers and People that build the ships and build the planes. When it comes to that, that‘s related to our national security, as well as our national economic status.
So what I did today, Ed, was I put in a House resolution today—it‘s House Resolution 444, which says that we have to have a national policy which states that the maintenance of steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping is vital to our national economic security and to our national defense.
SCHULTZ: Are you going to get any support on that?
KUCINICH: Well, immediately, I had two Republicans, Congressman LaTourette from Ohio and Congresswoman Miller from Michigan, as well as Congressman Ryan from Ohio. We just introduced it today. I expect that more and more members of Congress, once they hear about the resolution, will support it, because we cannot remain a free nation if we don‘t have the ability to make things.
And that we would let our basic productive, our industrial capacity to decline in this economy is really wrong. It is wrong for a number of reasons, but one reason it‘s wrong is national security. How can you defend a country if you can‘t make cars? If you can‘t make planes? If you can‘t produce steel?
America‘s declining, and we need to come to its rescue, not just to rescue those wheeler dealers on Wall Street who, you know, really shouldn‘t have been rescued to begin with, but to rescue ourselves and our basic industries.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, I want to ask you, on a different subject tonight, do you believe the president of the United States made the right call in not releasing those detainee photos? What do you think?
KUCINICH: Well, the action was what was abstained, that the United States government, in any way, could have been involved in torture, supporting torture.
SCHULTZ: But first he says he‘s going to release them and yesterday he does a reversal. Do you support the president on that?
KUCINICH: Look, that‘s his call. I think the pictures should be released. I think the United States—the best protection we have is the truth. And if things were done that the world would not—would object to, well, the American people are strong enough to be able to accept that and to be able to apologize.
We cannot stand behind torture. We can‘t conceal it. We have to bring it out in the open. And we have to punish those in the last administration who were responsible. This is one of the reasons why I offered a resolution of impeachment back in the last Congress, because, frankly, who‘s supposed to be responsible? The guy at the top.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Kucinich, good to have you with us tonight on
THE ED SHOW.
KUCINICH: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: For more on all this, let‘s bring in our panel tonight. Lawrence O‘Donnell is an MSNBC political analyst, and former chief of staff of the Senate Financial Committee. A.B. Stoddard is associate editor for “The Hill.” And Lars Larsen, nationally syndicated talk show host, with us tonight.
Lars, we‘ll start with you. Let‘s talk about these detainee photos that the president made a reversal on. What do you think? Are you with or against the president on this move?
LARS LARSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: He made the right decision finally, but I‘m asking why he didn‘t make the right decision before, when his people first came to him and said, these memos, these photographs are going to be released? What he should release are the memos that detail all the good information, the life-saving information that America got out of the appropriate torture that ended back in 2002.
Jest remember, Ed, this stuff was done to three people in 2002 to get information that saved lives. That‘s the memo the president should release. But as I understand, the president‘s administration has told Vice President Cheney that those memos will not be released. So he‘s only willing to release the stuff that makes America look bad, while the stuff that would tell us why we did it won‘t be.
SCHULTZ: Lawrence, what do you think? Did the president do the right thing here?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What he‘s doing is making a litigation decision. This is just a tactical decision about what to do with litigation that‘s on-going. He was at a certain point saying we‘re not going to fight this any further; and now he‘s saying we will take it to the next level. The Judiciary is going to decide here. This is the president simply keeping this in the Judiciary.
SCHULTZ: A.B., this is unlike President Obama to do something like this, to make a reversal on this issue, when he talked about full disclosure and he talked about transparency.
A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: Well, President Obama preaches pragmatism, and he‘s made a practical decision that the truth is not going to set us free by releasing these photos; it will inflame anti-American sentiment around the world. The awkward thing—Lawrence is right. The awkward thing is if this thing continues to lose in court—he never wanted to release the photos. I think he thought he couldn‘t avoid it. But now they think have a new argument on national security grounds, which has lost before for the Bush administration.
So it might buy him some time for his trip to Egypt, but it might not end up working. I think he has—to return to your point, he‘s not known for reversals and flip-flops. But I do think he believes genuinely this is the wrong thing, to release the photos.
SCHULTZ: Let‘s talk about the CIA. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flat-out said that the CIA didn‘t tell the truth to the American people. Lars, what about that?
LARSON: She was spinning like a top today, Ed.
SCHULTZ: So she‘s lying? Is that what you‘re saying?
LARSON: I think what‘s happening is she‘s trying to find a way to disassemble around the truth. The fact is she was briefed, and today she was babbling on about how the briefing she had didn‘t include the briefing on the information. She‘s trying to say that the CIA lied at that time, is till lying today, and she said that well, and that what she‘s doing is telling the truth.
She, kind of like Sgt. Schultz, knows nothing, absolutely nothing about the water boarding that she was briefed on. And a couple reporters really went for the red meat who said—hold on—
SCHULTZ: I got your point. Lawrence, who‘s telling the truth?
O‘DONNELL: Lars, what you have to know is that these briefings are required to be what is called full briefings in the statute. What she is saying is she didn‘t get a full briefing. Yes, she is saying the CIA deliberately misled her. Now, you know—
SCHULTZ: And the country.
O‘DONNELL: You know who said that decades before Nancy Pelosi. You know that when Barry Goldwater was the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he said exactly the same thing about mining of the Nicaraguan harbors. And he protested mightily to Bill Casey, the director of the CIA at that time.
That committee believed that it was deceived by the CIA. Barry Goldwater believed and said he was deceived by the CIA on mining of the harbors in Nicaragua. We‘ve been here before.
SCHULTZ: Lars, a quick response to that.
LARSON: Sure. The quick response is the real issue is what did she know and when did she know it? A couple reporters zeroed in.
SCHULTZ: She answered that today, Lars. She flat-out answered that today. She said that the CIA was lying. That‘s what she said. She said the CIA was misleading the country.
LARSON: Ed, let me finish.
SCHULTZ: No, I‘m not, because we‘re going over old ground. A.B. Stoddard, I want to bring you in on this. Is Nancy Pelosi the target of conservatives right now to get some political momentum?
STODDARD: You know, Ed, I‘m not going to say that she‘s lying, but I am going to tell you that if you put this in a political context, she has given the Republicans an opportunity. Nancy Pelosi is a very shrewd politician. She‘s the speaker of the House. She didn‘t get there from bumbling around through her career.
The fact that she allowed this to take three weeks to become a huge story—if she as the speaker of the House wants to say the CIA is lying, she should have said that in mid-April when this first came up. She‘s given the Republicans their very first opportunity to credibly question the speaker of the House. It was a mistake to give them ground.
SCHULTZ: Panel, we‘re coming back. Stay with us.
Coming up, President Obama says single payer is off the table. Is this the change Americans voted for? Is he selling out to insurance companies? I‘ll ask Senator Bernie Sanders next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, the president was on the road for a townhall meeting in New Mexico today. What do you think the first question was? Where is single payer health care? Why is single-payer off the table? Listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many people go bankrupt using their credit cards to pay for health care. Why have they taken single payer off the plate? And why has Senator Baucus on the Finance Committee discussing health care when he has received so much money from the pharmaceutical companies? Isn‘t it a conflict of interest?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I want you to listen closely to the president‘s answer. What I hear him saying, lefties, is hey, I‘d like single payer, but I can‘t change the whole system. I can‘t change Washington. He also speaks about a public option?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If I were starting a system from scratch, then I think that the idea of moving towards a single-payer system could very well make sense.
The only problem is that we‘re not starting from scratch. We have historically a tradition of employer-based health care.
If you don‘t have health care, or you‘re highly unsatisfied with your health care, then let‘s give you chooses, lets give you options, including a public plan that you could enroll in and sign up for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: OK. The president is saying he‘s for public option. What is that? Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Senator, can you tell our audience tonight—thanks for joining us. But can you tells you what this public option is?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: No, I can‘t. Nobody can because we‘re not there now. I would hope that the public option would mean Medicare for anyone that wanted to join it. And that‘s that you have the equivalent of Medicare for anybody of any age who chooses that option.
Frankly, that will be very tough sledding to get that, because if you have that, people gravitate to that system.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
SANDERS: And private insurance will go down and private insurance companies have enormous power, as you‘ve indicated, here in Washington, D.C., as do the drug companies.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think we need some definition from the administration and Democrats leading the charge on this on what this public option is. If it‘s single payer, I‘m in.
SANDERS: I was just at a meeting yesterday. There is no clarity about this. The fight is on. And I will tell you that the drug companies and the insurance companies will do everything that they can to prevent a strong public option plan. No question about that.
SCHULTZ: Senator, do you think that there‘s going to be a political fallout for Democrats and the president if he has single payer off the table? And now it‘s official; he says it is.
SANDERS: I think, with 15,000 physicians supporting the concept of single payer, with single payer being the only system that can provide comprehensive—keyword, Ed, comprehensive health care—to every man, woman and child, single payer should obviously be on the table, in my view.
SCHULTZ: Do you think, finally, these people who have double-digited us on rate increases, the pharmaceutical manufacturers, the HMOs, the insurance companies, the president seems to be trusting the foxes guarding the hen house. What do you think?
SANDERS: I think he understands—I don‘t know what‘s in his heart, I can‘t tell you that. I think he understands that right now in Congress, the big-money interests have so much power that single pay would be a huge, huge struggle, which he probably could not win, and he chooses not to do that struggle.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
The president also spoke today about the need for credit card protections. He told the crowd in New Mexico he wants a bill on his desk by Memorial Day. Back at Washington, the Senate continued debate on its version of a credit card bill. On Wednesday, the Senate rejected setting a limit on credit card interest rates.
The measure aimed at capping the rate at 15 percent. It was shot down in a vote nearly two to one.
We need credit card reform, but I‘m concerned about the watering down that‘s going on here. Plus, the Senate bill won‘t go into effect for nine months. The American people need protections yesterday, I think. We‘re still waiting on the final vote from the Senate. We‘ll keep you informed.
Coming up, Republicans wish Dick Cheney would stop talking, but they‘re afraid to speak up. Why? Where have I heard that before? Next on THE ED SHOW.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish him well. It‘s over. But I do hope he gets some more target practice before he goes out again?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That‘s Bill Clinton telling Dick Cheney to take a hike. But nobody else in the Republican party will do that. Lawrence O‘Donnell, A.B. Stoddard and Lars Larsen, this guy, Lawrence, has become a big PR problem for Republicans. That‘s what I think. What do you think?
O‘DONNELL: He‘s a gift to the Democratic party. I had a professional Republican tell me when Cheney fist started talking how much is the Democratic party paying him to do this. It‘s an incredible gift.
SCHULTZ: Lars, can‘t you shut the former vice president up? This is just good talk radio fodder for you guys?
LARSON: I don‘t want to shut him up. I think Vice President Cheney is absolutely right. Laugh all you want. Water boarding works. We got information that saved lives. President Obama is putting this country at risk. Vice President Cheney is right.
SCHULTZ: A.B., does water boarding work?
LARSON: It does.
STODDARD: I can‘t make that call. That‘s not my bailiwick, Ed, but I‘m here to tell you Lawrence is right. Dick Cheney is working for the Democrats. They actually help him get on Sunday shows, and they want to continue to do so.
It‘s going to take some courageous Republican who is not running for president in 2012 to come out and say we are no longer the party of Dick Cheney. Whether he‘s talking about national security issues that are real and credible, or he‘s talking about the party not moderating, whatever he‘s saying, they need to separate themselves and move on.
They need to talk about the future. We haven‘t heard from anybody, moderate, conservative or anybody in the middle.
SCHULTZ: Is that, A.B., going to be the person who takes the lead for the Republicans, whoever is willing to stand up to Cheney?
STODDARD: That person can‘t win the Iowa caucuses. If you stand up to Dick Cheney, you can‘t go to Des Moines. It doesn‘t work that way. It has to be some outlier.
LARSON: It‘s funny, Ed, that A.B. admits that she doesn‘t know whether what Dick Cheney is saying is true or not. But she objects to him saying it. That‘s kind of an interesting comment. By the way, I love Nancy Pelosi‘s opinion at the top today.
STODDARD: It doesn‘t work for Republicans, Lars. It turns off
independents, whether he‘s right or not. If he‘s a turnoff to independents
yes, Americans are split on torture. But the Republicans don‘t want Dick Cheney out there advocating this. They don‘t.
SCHULTZ: Lars, it appears to me --
SCHULTZ: It appears to me, Lawrence, that Dick Cheney is trying to legally cover himself. And in the process he‘s screwing up the Republican message, if there is one.
O‘DONNELL: He doesn‘t care about defending Republicans. He cares about defending one person. His defense is of one individual. He doesn‘t care what happens to this party. This party is sinking.
LARSON: That‘s so wrong.
O‘DONNELL: -- under him, sitting on top of it, and smothering everyone else in it, who might have something interesting to say.
SCHULTZ: Why is he talking so much, Lars? Why is Dick Cheney all of a sudden the talking horse out there?
SCHULTZ: Because he could be facing an investigation. That‘s why.
LARSON: Ed, you know that what Dick Cheney cares about is protecting this country.
SCHULTZ: No, I don‘t know that. I think he wants to—Well, I have a different opinion of that. No, I don‘t. I don‘t think he cares about it. I think he cares about saving his rear end, because he knows if an investigation takes place, he‘s going to be in some big trouble.
LARSON: Talking on talk shows is going to change that?
SCHULTZ: The ante was up today when Nancy Pelosi said the CIA was lying to the country. Thanks. I appreciate the panel tonight.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information, send me an e-mail, go to Ed.MSNBC.com, or go to my radio website at WeGotEd.com. Got a townhall meeting coming up in Buffalo on June 13th. Hope to see you there. And, of course, tomorrow night, right here, 6:00 Eastern, on MSNBC.
“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
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