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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Noah Shachtman, Howard Dean, Evan Kohlmann, Kent Jones    

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  I feel somewhat inadequate.  I have nothing to add to the Tiger Woods story.  You have said it all.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  There is nothing—there is nothing to add.

MADDOW:  If I ever have any dramatic text messages in my life come out, though, I definitely want you to be the one who reads them with dramatic pauses.

O‘DONNELL:  Oh, thank you.


MADDOW:  OK.  Thank you, Lawrence.

All right.  Thank you for staying with us.  We‘ve got sort of an incredible hour coming up.

Liberals are confronting the apparent demise of the public option. 

Some are not really happy about that.

Pastor Rick Warren forced to take a position on the “kill the gays” legislation pending in another country and he makes it hard both to believe and to argue with him.

In very late-breaking news, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma has also finally decided to weigh in on that same issue.  We‘ve got that for you in just a moment.

Plus, one senator makes performance art on the Senate floor out of embarrassing pharmaceutical ads.

That is all ahead and more.

But, we begin tonight with a pop quiz.  Here it is.

How many sitting U.S. presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize? 

Time‘s up.  Three.

Barack Obama won it today.  The other two U.S.—sitting U.S.  presidents who have won, and neither won in their first year in office, were Woodrow Wilson for founding the League of Nations, which didn‘t really go anywhere but sounded like a nice idea at the time, and Teddy Roosevelt for essentially mediating the end to a war between Russia and Japan about a century ago.

Our current president acknowledged today as he received the award that it is unusual for him to get this award before he‘s done anything like the accomplishments for which those two previous presidents were honored.  But even beyond just the timing of this award, another issue loomed rather large over the president‘s acceptance today of this award for peace.



wars between nations, total wars, another world war.  The prospect of war -

·         wars between nations to wars within nations.  Just war—war, itself—war, war—going to war.



MADDOW:  That was sort of the theme.  The president today in an eloquent speech on the nature and responsibilities of war at the very outset of his speech acknowledged the major issue and even the major irony of him getting this award and getting it now.


OBAMA:  I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated.  In part, this is because I am at the beginning and not the end of my labors on the world stage.  Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize—Schweitzer and King, Marshall and Mandela—my accomplishments are slight.

But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the commander-in-chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars.  One of these wars is winding down.


MADDOW:  One of these wars winding down.  The other one?  Not so much. 

And the other, other one?  They didn‘t even talk about that one.

The president today went into quite a bit of detail about the war in Afghanistan, describing it in terms of the “just war” doctrine and leaving out entirely the war that we‘re waging now in Pakistan—leaving it out because American officials still aren‘t talking about it out loud even though, even in today‘s news, there is plenty of evidence that America‘s third and secret war is expanding.

Some dramatic new reporting today on this secret war that we‘re suddenly learning more about each day, it seems.  Early in our understanding of the secret war in Pakistan, all we really knew, courtesy of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was that the CIA was waging it, at least somewhat.


DONALD RUMSFELD, THEN-DEFENSE SECRETARY:  The overwhelming bulk of all activity in Afghanistan since the first U.S. forces went in have been basically under the control of the Central Command.  An exception has been the armed Predators, which are CIA-operated.


MADDOW:  The armed Predators.

That‘s about all we knew about the drone operations back in 2002.  It wasn‘t until August of this year, seven years later, that “The New York Times” came out with a bombshell on the drone operation.  The military contractor formerly known as Blackwater was also involved in the CIA‘s Predator drone program, assembling and loading missiles onto these armed, unmanned aerial vehicles.  So, as of this summer, we knew that Pakistan drone war was a joint CIA/Blackwater effort.

But then, just last month, there was another major development from “The Nation‘s” Jeremy Scahill.  Contrary to what we believed to be true for years, Scahill reported that the U.S. military was, in fact, involved in the drone strikes in the secret war inside Pakistan—a huge development that Scahill was kind enough to flesh out here on this show.


MADDOW:  OK.  So, this is a huge deal, because in terms of learning about what we‘re doing with the drones, what we‘ve been able to say until this point is, yes, the military uses drones.  The military uses drones in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  They use them for surveillance.  They use them sometimes for bombing.

If there are drone attacks in Pakistan, those are not U.S. military. 

That‘s the CIA.  That‘s why we never comment on them.

You‘re saying that‘s not true.  It‘s contractors but they are also working with the U.S. military, secret elements of the U.S. military.

JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION:  I have—I have multiple sources on

this, including a very well-placed military intelligence source, and part

of the reason why the military intelligence source is speaking to me is

because he is offended at the idea that you have these operations happening

outside of the military chain of command and with no oversight from the

Congress, and says that some of the highest civilian casualty attacks from

the drones are not, in fact, CIA attacks but are military attacks because -

·         as he put it—they simply don‘t care.  There‘s no oversight.  If there‘s one bad guy in a building and 34 civilians, 35 people are going to die.



MADDOW:  That was Jeremy Scahill speaking on this show recently about his reporting on Pakistan.

And now, today, thanks to brand new reporting from our next guest, we‘re learning that not only is it the CIA and Blackwater and the secret Joint Special Operations part of the U.S. military.  In fact, the U.S. Air Force is helping wage the secret war in Pakistan, which means this war is starting to seem like it‘s not going to be so secret anymore.

Joining us now is Noah Shachtman.  He‘s contributing editor for “Wired” magazine.  He‘s editor of‘s “Danger Room” blog where he‘s reporting new details on the drone war today.

Noah, I am a big fan of “Danger Room.”  Thanks very much for coming in.

NOAH SHACHTMAN, WIRED.COM:  Thanks for having me.

MADDOW:  Let me ask you first if I‘ve done OK with the—with the context here.  As far as I understand it, nobody else had reported before you today that the un-secret U.S. military, the actual U.S. Air Force is flying drone strikes in Pakistan, is that right?

SHACHTMAN:  Yes.  I think this is the first time.  I was over the summer at a clandestine base in Southwest Asia.  I‘m not allowed to say where but you can find it on Google.

MADDOW:  I think I found it on Google.

SHACHTMAN:  OK.  And there, there is a big screen in the middle of this warehouse that they‘ve turned into the operations center for the whole air war from Afghanistan to Iraq, and it turns out, on the big screen there was also a bunch of drones flying over Pakistan, too.  And it even said on the screen, pilots had to give a certain amount of notice before they entered into Pakistani air space.

MADDOW:  So, this is a U.S. military-operated facility.  These drones are being certainly monitored from this facility.  Are U.S. military—I know they call them pilots, it‘s a little bit weird to call them pilots—

U.S. military pilots operating these drones on these bombing raids in Pakistan?

SHACHTMAN:  I don‘t know if they‘re operating them on the bombing raids, but I do know they are flying missions over Pakistan.  They‘re doing it in conjunction with the Pakistani military.

I think a lot of those big offensives by the Pakistani military over the last few months I think have probably had some U.S. drone help.  And I know that they‘re allowed to chase in hot pursuit a militant from the Afghan side to the Pakistani side of the border.  And then they also seem to be running these other missions.

MADDOW:  Other missions.  Which are—they‘re still not talking about them but they at least let you report that they exist.

SHACHTMAN:  Right.  And that‘s multiple people.  And, by the way, you showed that clip of Donald Rumsfeld back in 2002, already back then, there were military drones flying over Pakistan.  I talked to a senior U.S.  military official who talked about, “Hey, back then—oh, yes, I used to talk to the head of the Pakistani air force all the time and we used to work this stuff out.”

MADDOW:  Why is it—at least what can you tell about why it is that the—that the U.S. military, U.S. authorities broadly speaking, have been very happy for us to think that it‘s just the CIA operating these drones in Pakistan, in effect, waging our war in Pakistan?  And because it‘s the CIA, they won‘t talk about it.  Why have they been happy to let that impression stand if our military has been involved all along?

SHACHTMAN:  Because if it‘s CIA secret squirrel, then there‘s not a lot of oversight.  You don‘t have to ask a lot of questions.  And, remember, that on the Afghan side of the border, the air war is very tightly regulated, right?

There are all these rules about when you can drop a bomb and when you can‘t drop a bomb.  I was with a group of Marines in Afghanistan over the summer and they spent 36 hours under fire before they got permission to drop bombs on the guys that were shooting them.  Right?

But then on the Pakistan side of the border, you hear about all these drone strikes and there‘s a dozen dead, two dozen dead, three dozen dead, four dozen dead.  You don‘t get four dozen dead in an air attack if it‘s tightly regulated.

MADDOW:  So, if it makes—the reason that it is so tightly regulated on the Afghan side of the border is because of American strategy.  We‘re trying to reduce, if not eliminate, civilian casualties as part of this whole counterinsurgency doctrine.  If that strategy makes sense on the Afghan side of the border, why is the same strategy not being used on the Pakistani side of the border?

SHACHTMAN:  Awesome question.

MADDOW:  With no answer as of yet.

SHACHTMAN:  I think there‘s a little bit of an answer.  OK, first of all, Pakistan does not want to advertise that it‘s got large numbers or any numbers of U.S. forces there on Pakistani soil.  So, they want to keep it as secret squirrel as possible and they want to talk about the drones not about anything else going on there.  So, I think that‘s part of it.

And then, yes—there are questions about why counterinsurgency 101 works on one side of the border and then not on the other.

MADDOW:  And the big question for—I mean, for me, just for American democracy, is what it means to have a war that we choose not to talk about and call secret even though we all know that it‘s going on and I think that‘s a political question that we now have more ammunition to pursue because of your reporting.

Noah, the editor Noah Shachtman, the editor of‘s “Danger Room” blog, which is required reading for all the staff on this show.

SHACHTMAN:  Awesome.

MADDOW:  . thanks very much for coming in.  Appreciate it.

SHACHTMAN:  Thanks for having me.

MADDOW:  You may remember Pastor Rick Warren from such national appearances as President Obama‘s inauguration.  You may also remember him saying he never compared same sex marriage to pedophilia and incest even though he said those things on tape.

Today, Rick Warren finally clarified his connections to a proposed law in another country to execute people for being gay.  Pastor Warren says he issued the clarification because the media has been getting it all wrong.

Since we are among the few media who have been covering the story at all, it may be us that he‘s talking about.  That‘s coming right up.  You‘re probably going to want to see this.

But first, “One More Thing” about the president‘s 24-hour trip to Norway to pick up his Peace Prize.  Norwegians were reportedly upset today that Mr. Obama elected to not attend traditional events that Nobel Peace Prize winners attend, things like lunch with the King of Norway, dinner with the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and attending a celebratory concert.  This year, the concert featured, among others, Toby Keith.


MADDOW:  You know, people think it‘s awkward that “President Escalation” received peace prize.  Compare that to the awkwardness of the musical accompaniment of the peace prize being a performance by Mr. Boot in your—rhymes with bass.


MADDOW:  A very busy studio today.  We‘ve got Howard Dean in person on the new supposed health reform compromise—coming up next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW:  An update for you now on a story that we‘ve been covering for many more days in a row than I thought we would be covering it.  The story involves Rick Warren.

Rick Warren is perhaps the most famous pastor in America today.  He was the source of great political controversy earlier this year when President Obama invited him to lead prayer at the inauguration, despite Mr.  Warren‘s history of antigay activism, specifically his support for Proposition 8 in California, which revoked existing marriage rights for same sex couples.


RICK WARREN, PASTOR:  I‘m opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage.  I‘m opposed to older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage.  I‘m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You think those are equivalent to gays getting married?

WARREN:  Oh, I do.


MADDOW:  Oh, I do.

On the issue of Prop 8 specifically, Mr. Warren made the mistake of trying to deny that he‘d ever taken a position on it.


WARREN:  During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going.


MADDOW:  No statement.  No endorsement.

That ended up being awkward because of the whole “bearing false witness” thing.


WARREN:  Let me just say this really clearly, we support Proposition 8, and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8.  So, I urge you to support Proposition 8 and pass that word on.


MADDOW:  I think that counts as an endorsement.  Rick Warren had not only been involved in Proposition 8, he had been involved on tape.

Well, now Rick Warren has been implicated in much worse antigay politics as Uganda—a nation in which he has been intensely involved—is now considering legislation that would imprison and even potentially execute people for the grave crime of being gay.

Uganda is the second nation in Africa that Rick Warren designated as a “purpose-driven” nation.  Mr. Warren launched his national “Purpose-Driven Living” program in Uganda last March.

Last night on this program, we spoke to an Anglican priest who has traveled to Uganda to report on the development of the “kill the gays” legislation there.  Among the things he brought up with us was just how influential Rick Warren is in that country.


KAPYA KAOMA, ANGLICAN PRIEST:  Rick Warren went to Uganda, you know, in 2008.  And he made this saying that homosexuality is not a normal way of life and we have—we aren‘t going to tolerate any of this.  And then he goes to say, therefore, it‘s not a human rights issue.

So you have another big person in terms of how Africans look at Pastor Warren.  You know, you have to go there, every church I entered, office I entered, I found his book the “Purpose-Driven Life” and people stare at it, it‘s more like a second Bible.  So, he has a lot of influence, so when he makes that statement, it carries a lot of weight to the Uganda populace.


MADDOW:  Rick Warren has used his influence in Uganda not only to promote his own programs, the purpose-driven nation stuff, but also to get involved in Ugandan religion and politics, flying to Uganda last year to announce he was on the side of the Ugandan ministers who were boycotting the Church of England for being too pro-gay.

Rick Warren also invited a virulently anti-gay pastor from Uganda to come to his own Saddleback Church in California, while that pastor was being promoted by Mr. Warren in the United States, back home in Uganda, that pastor was publicly burning condoms in Jesus‘ name.

Rick Warren‘s involvement in Ugandan affairs or—and his involvement in Ugandan affairs was so extensive that he even lobbied U.S. politicians to steer Uganda toward abstinence-only education rather than condom-based programs which had helped reduce the country‘s rate of HIV infections.

Rick Warren‘s intensive involvement in the politics of Uganda included multiple trips to that country and meetings with Uganda‘s first lady.

Because of all of that, because of his influence in that country and his intensive involvement there, when that country including the pastor Mr.  Warren had invited to his church started pushing this outrageous legislation to kill people for being gay, it‘s natural that Rick Warren would be asked his opinion about it.

And about a week and a half ago, Mr. Warren gave his opinion on the subject to “Newsweek.”  He said, quote, “It is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.”

Well, now, finally, after a little bit of attention to this subject in this country, Rick Warren has finally decided to come out against the legislation—as if he had been against it all along.


WARREN:  The potential law before your parliament is unjust, it‘s extreme, and it‘s unchristian toward homosexuals—requiring death penalty even in some cases.  And if I‘m reading the proposed bill correctly, this law would also imprison anyone convicted of homosexual practice.  I urge you to speak up.  The pastors of Uganda, speak out against this proposed law.


MADDOW:  For opponents of this proposed law, Rick Warren‘s intervention here, his written statement and his video statement, will be filed under the better-late-than-never category—definitely under better.  This will be very good news for people who are opposed to this law given his influence in that nation.

That said, Mr. Warren‘s statement today included the allegation that his role in all this had been somehow mischaracterized by the media, saying that lies have been told about him and this issue in media that have covered it.

As the person who‘s been doing the most media on this subject, at least on TV, as far as I can tell we have not said anything inaccurate about Rick Warren in our reporting.  We triple-checked everything that we‘ve said about him today, I don‘t think we‘ve gotten one thing wrong about him.

If he feels differently, Pastor Warren, I would be happy to host you on this program to clarify anything.  Unless you know something that we don‘t, I stand by our reporting.

Another American who has been silent on this issue for weeks is also now speaking out to us.  This happened late in the day today, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.  Mr. Inhofe has made repeated trips to Uganda in recent years, what he has called, quote, “a Jesus thing.”

And after days of silence on this issue, Senator Inhofe has finally told us this tonight, quote, “I was shocked and appalled to learn through media reports of the legislation being considered in Uganda regarding homosexuality.  I do not, nor have I ever, supported or condoned the abhorrent legislation being considered in the Ugandan parliament, to suggest otherwise is absolutely and unequivocally false.  It is my hope that Uganda will abandon the unjust approach being considered.”

It is unclear whether or not Mr. Inhofe plans to communicate this view to Ugandan authorities.  We have asked.  We will keep you posted as to whether we receive a response.

One final note on this: Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has also come under fire on this subject because of his alleged ties to the secretive religious organization known as the Family, most famous for operating the C Street house in Washington.  The Family has been intensely involved in Ugandan religion and politics for years, and reportedly involved in the origins of the “kill the gays” bill specifically.  It was reportedly announced for the first time at a Family sponsored event, the Ugandan prayer breakfast.

Mr. Grassley still hasn‘t spoken out against the bill, but he did through a spokesperson today say that he has never had anything to do with the Family ever.

Senator Grassley is described multiple times as a member of the Family in Jeff Sharlet‘s book-length expose of the group.  We contacted Jeff today to get his response to Mr. Grassley denying he‘s ever had anything to do with the Family, Jeff told us that he stands by his reporting in his book.  He said that as recently as yesterday, he learned from Family sources that Chuck Grassley traveled to Uganda in the mid-1980s at the request of the Family.

Whether or not Chuck Grassley is a member of the Family or not, we are still very curious as to what the senator thinks about the prospect of putting people to death for being gay.  We are still waiting to hear from him on that subject and we live in hope.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  We believe—we in the House believe that the public option was the best way to hold the insurance companies honest, to keep them honest, and also to increase competition.  If you had a better way, put it on the table.


MADDOW:  Count House Speaker Nancy Pelosi among the supporters of the public option, who is at least willing to listen to a reform proposal that doesn‘t include the public option.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, once the clearest voice in the House in favor of the public option, is even further ahead of the speaker.  On this show last night, he said that letting younger people into the existing public program—into the existing public program, Medicare, would be an even more progressive, better policy than the public option as it stands now.

Congressman Weiner‘s argument is bolstered by the fact that the big public option idea had, in the last couple months, been compromised down to a blurry little dim shadow of its former self.

There is a progressive argument to be made for trading away a small, ineffective policy option in favor of, say, a big expansion of Medicare.

There‘s also a progressive argument to be made, however, against it.  Activist Jane Hamsher of wrote today of the Senate bill, quote, “Shoveling taxpayer dollars into too-big-to-fail insurance companies is not the change I voted for.  It forces Americans to buy the products of large corporations, then the IRS penalizes them if they refuse.”

And then earlier tonight on “THE ED SHOW” here on MSNBC, Ms. Hamsher made this promise to wavering Democrats.


JANE HAMSHER, FIREDOGLAKE.COM:  We negotiated down from single-payer and we‘ve got 65 members of the House who said that they would vote against any bill that doesn‘t have a public option.  And we‘re going to hold them to that.

But we‘re looking at a situation where we had 88 cosponsors of H.R.  676 and most of them have headed for the Hills.  They didn‘t want to take a stand like that.  They‘re from strong Democratic districts, and when the going gets tough, what they do is enable the bill about which the insurance companies said, “We won.”  They said—Ben Smith reported that the insurance lobbyists are saying about this bill, “We won.”

And if these Democrats vote for that—it can‘t happen without their help—we‘re going to be looking to run single-payer candidates against them in their districts.


MADDOW:  Jane is not alone in her feelings on this.  From “” today, it was this, “Senate Democrats have just announced a tentative health care deal that doesn‘t appear to include a real public health insurance option.”

“Instead of pulling out all the stops, they‘ve bargained away the heart of health care reform allowing conservative senators like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson to hold the process hostage and protect big insurance.  If the health care bill doesn‘t include a public option, it‘ll be a huge giveaway to the insurance companies.  Any health care bill without a real public health insurance option is simply unacceptable.” 

So says “”  Markos Moulitsas at “Daily Kos,” the very influential lefty blog, made the case in a graphic metaphor today.  He said, quote, “We are about to get a turd of a ‘reform‘ package potentially worse than the status quo.” 

That doesn‘t sound like something you‘d want.  And it points out what appears to be, maybe, a growing gap between politicians and liberal activists on this subject.  And although it is the politicians who make the policies, it is the activists who frankly do what‘s needed to get the politicians elected or not. 

Joining is now the former Vermont governor and DNC chair, Dr.  Howard Dean.  Gov. Dean, it‘s very nice to have you here in person.  Thanks for coming in.  


COMMITTEE:  The hybrid politician/activist.  

MADDOW:  I was going to say.  And which are you now? 

DEAN:  Well, you know, here‘s the deal.  First of all, I think this bill is, as Jane pointed out, a giveaway to the insurance companies.  It has been from the beginning, because most of the people were never going to be in the public option. 

So it‘s a giveaway to the insurance companies.  Anything but a single-payer is a giveaway to the insurance companies, plain and simple.  Secondly, the Senate bill really does advance the ball.  First of all, Medicare is the system they always should have used.  There is no point in having two bureaucracies instead of one. 

Somebody mentioned the H - I forgot - 766, whatever it is - Conyers‘ bill for the single-payer.  Well, that was an expansion of Medicare.  This is an expansion of Medicare.  The issue is this is an expansion of Medicare that only goes down to age 55.  But it‘s significant and it goes into effect a few months after the bill is signed.  That‘s very important. 

And finally, Jay Rockefeller‘s amendment, which requires insurance companies pay out 90 percent of the dollars that they take in for health care - today, they keep 27 percent of all the dollars.  They can only keep 10 percent. 

So there is some significant - there is really reform in the Senate bill to be fair to the Senate.  The House bill of course covers more people.  It‘s more affordable.  Hopefully, these things will be melded.  But the idea of using Medicare is a huge step forward and Rockefeller‘s restrictions on the insurance company is a huge step forward. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the negotiations here, in term of the worry about what giving up the public option is going to do, I know the process here is sort of push-me-pull-you a little bit.  We don‘t exactly know even what has been given to the CBO.  We don‘t exactly know we‘re going to get a CBO score. 

We don‘t exactly know what is going to be the final bill that‘s going to be voted on.  But is it right to worry that by conceding the public option right now without assurances that the Medicare thing is going to happen, liberals could be giving away something important to them for a promise rather than an agreement? 

DEAN:  Yes.  And this House is the safety valve for that.  Because if the Senate reneges, if the four people - whatever it was, the number of the moderate - quote, unquote, “moderate” Democrats, renege on their agreement, the whole thing is off. 

There is no, necessarily, support for the progressive community.  What I‘ve told folks and, you know, I‘ve spent a lot of time talking to some of these folks who are doing this is, look, don‘t double cross us.  Don‘t lead us down the garden path and hang us out to dry.

Because if you do, we‘re going to be gone and we‘ll never come back.  And then, all of the things Jane predicted are going to happen.  You know, right now the Democratic core base - we‘re not talking about the left wing or the progressives.  We‘re talking about 70 percent of the Democrats are demoralized by what‘s going on in health care. 

And so that‘s going to affect everybody whether you‘re Ben Nelson or whether you‘re Sherrod Brown.  It‘s going to cost us a heck of a lot of seats in 2010.  

MADDOW:  Is that why the timing is so important that something happens and goes into effect in 2010? 

DEAN:  Well, that‘s right.  There‘s two reasons the timing is important.  Some has to go into effect in 2010 for two reasons.  One, it‘s the moral thing to do.  Two, it counteracts the Republican propaganda. 

The Republicans can tell as many lies as they have for the last year about this bill as they want.  But if it actually is in effect, suddenly, the neighbor is going to say, well, I‘ve been in the program for six months.  I guess I haven‘t been called to the death panel yet.  Or you know, I‘m still seeing the same doctor I always saw. 

That puts the lie to all of this stuff.  I learned that when I did silly unions which caused a huge uproar.  And once it actually went into effect, lo and behold, Vermont was not the AIDS capital of the world.  And sixth graders didn‘t come home having been taught how to be gay by the teachers union. 

All this stuff that floats around when controversial change happens.  The way to put the lie to all the propaganda is just to do it.  And that‘s a really important thing.  And thirdly, if this thing goes into effect in 2011, all the - excuse me, 2010, it will give us a glide path to how to do this right. 

I‘m excited about the Senate bill.  It has a lot of shortcomings and it should insure more people and subsidize them, but it is really a breakthrough.  

MADDOW:  And it does - and it sounds like what you‘re sort of issuing

is a call for liberals who are concerned right now to stay on this.  So to

make sure -

DEAN:  And keep the heat on.  I agree with Jane Hamsher.  Even though we don‘t agree with the fundamentals of where exactly we are, we need her out there.  We need these folks out there pushing hard on this.  We can‘t lose this now.  

MADDOW:  Former Vermont governor and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, it‘s really nice to have you here in person.  Thanks for coming in.  

DEAN:  Glad to be back.  Your job is a lot harder than mine, I discovered.  

MADDOW:  You did great.  Don‘t you worry.  One Democrat making the case in favor of health reform on the Senate floor is North Dakota‘s Byron Dorgan.  And he has done so with great and unusual style. 


SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND):  An overactive bladder is treatable. 


MADDOW:  Do you want to hear a North Dakota senator read all the embarrassing parts from the TV ads for prescription drugs on the Senate floor?  Trust me.  You totally do.  Stay with us.  He really did that.  We have the tape.  It‘s coming up. 


MADDOW:  Coming up we‘ll be announcing our ripping off the Pentagon‘s idea, find the balloon contest winner.  Winner‘s name is secreted inside a hermetically sealed winner‘s envelope in the studio somewhere.  Also I told Kent who it is.  Other than that, it‘s a total secret.  That‘s coming up.

But first, a few holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.  An Iranian man named Shahram Amiri went on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia back in late May or early June.  His family has not heard from him since. 

The Iranian government famous, for its irate and often absurd accusations against us, is claiming that the American government or maybe the Saudis are responsible for Mr. Amiri‘s disappearance, which you might dismiss as just run-of-the-mill rhetoric from an oppressive regime trying to draw attention away from the latest round of big antigovernment protests at home. 

You might reasonably think that were it not for the fact that the guy who disappeared is an award-winning nuclear scientist who is reportedly on staff at Iran‘s atomic agency.  Iranian nuclear scientist disappears without a trace.  Now there‘s a headline. 

What‘s more, Iran is admitting what Mr. Amiri‘s job was and they are insisting that he be returned to Iran.  Yesterday, the speaker of the Iranian parliament alleged, quote, “It was quite clear the U.S. abducted the Iranian nuclear scientist through a plot with Saudi Arabia.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals.  Saudi Arabia is our ally in many things.  The U.S. does want to know more about Iran‘s nuclear program.  And our government has seemed to have had a lot more information in the last few months on Iran‘s nuclear doings than we had before. 

So the accusation about the disappeared nuclear scientist is not all that absurd on its face.  And I, for one, look forward to John McCrae(ph) writing all of our international news from here on out.  Also, I‘d like Robert Downey, Jr. to please play the scientist in the movie.  Thank you.  

Next up, the American Petroleum Institute got an embarrassing lesson in the perils of Photoshop today.  The blog “” pointing out that the institute‘s diverse promotional pamphlet isn‘t all that it seems. 

Check this out.  Look at this guy in the front row.  Whoever painted that tan on him forgot to paint his hands.  Oh.  “AstroTruth” also found the original image at “” where you can see Mr.  Painted-on-Tan used to be white. 

And another guy over on the right started off very white as well until he got clip art diversified to being Asian.  If that photo overall looks familiar to you, it may be because the Federation for American Coal Energy Security used that same “iStock Photo” clip art in its Faces of Coal campaign.  Remember that? 

We reported on this back in August.  Faces of Coal was a campaign where they purchased the faces of coal for a small fee from a stock photography company which is apparently the same company that sold the same image to the American Petroleum Institute. 

You would think with all the money the coal industry and the oil industry have they would be able to afford more exclusive fake instant constituents.  Wouldn‘t you think?  Apparently not. 

And finally, the next big thing coming to Capitol Hill is Wall Street reform.  Reintroducing our friends downtown in the $8,000 suits to the idea that there are rules that govern their behavior and protect the country from the rapacious, self-interested irresponsibility that melted down the financial sector at the end of the George W. Bush administration. 

            Re-regulating Wall Street after the disastrous result of the

deregulation experiment would seem to be a no-brainer.  Who would argue against it after what Wall Street put the country through, right? 

Well, there are those who argue against it, it turns out.  And Republican minority leader John Boehner is trying to form an anti-regulation army out of them.  The newspaper “Roll Call” is reporting this week that House minority leader John Boehner and other Republicans kicked off their big effort to oppose Wall Street reform by meeting with 100 corporate lobbyists all at once - 100 lobbyists.  I think we‘ve seen this movie before. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In the battle of financial regulation of 2009 A.D., an alliance of Republican leaders from the center right, far right, and so far to the right you really could see Russia from their houses, fought the invading Democratic army in the mountain pass of Capitol Hill Alopoli(ph). 

Vastly outnumbered, the right wing held back the enemy in one of the most famous last stands of history.  King Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi led an army of well over 250.  King Minority Leader John Boehner had two options - either sacrifice himself for the well being of the big banks who spilled their blood, gutting financial regulation for decades, or watch the government‘s hands-off approach to regulation burn to the ground. 

GERARD BUTLER, ACTOR (as King Leonidas):  This is where we hold them! 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Choosing the former, Boehner formed a meeting of 100 - 100 lobbyist lawyers to block the narrow passage of financial regulation. 

BUTLER:  This is Sparta! 


MADDOW:  We are lobbyists! 


MADDOW:  In honor of the Pentagon‘s find the balloons contest, a week ago, we launched Maddow quest to see which of our excellent viewers could find hidden balloons on our Web site.  We have winners.  That‘s next.  Stay tuned. 


MADDOW:  Five young American men caught while allegedly planning to fight against American troops.  It‘s a heck of a headline.  Tonight, five young Americans are under arrest in Pakistan, suspected, according to Pakistani police, of trying to go fight against American forces in Afghanistan. 

The five disappeared late last month from the suburbs of Washington, D.C.  They apparently told their parents nothing.  They did leave behind a worrying farewell videotape that purportedly talked about the need for Muslims to join the war with the west. 

That‘s the point at which things maybe started to work the way they‘re supposed to.  Family members of the missing young men reportedly sought some advice and help from the Council on American Islamic Relations.  CAIR put the families in touch with the FBI. 

The FBI started looking for the men.  They ended up contacting Pakistani authorities who also took these allegations seriously.  By now, the five young men had made their way to Pakistan where they allegedly met with two different terror groups and asked to be trained and sent on jihad. 

According to law enforcement sources, both groups turned them down because the young men lacked references from trusted militants.  The men made it to a safe house in the Pakistani city of Sargodha, where the father of one of the young men has a home. 

Suspicious neighbors called the police on them.  And now, these five young Americans are under arrest.  And this is sort of how this sort of thing is supposed to work at least in terms of the law enforcement response.  The families, CAIR, the FBI, Pakistani police, even the Pakistani neighbors who appeared to be all abiding by the not-so-old adage that if you see something, you should say something. 

Joining us now is Evan Kohlmann, NBC News terrorism analyst and the founder of “”  Even, thanks very much for your time.  

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST:  Thank you very much for having me.  

MADDOW:  Do you believe these guys were doing what they are suspected of?  Does this seem credible, five young American Muslims suddenly going off to try to fight American troops?

KOHLMANN:  It fits into a pattern we‘ve seen happen within the past year in several other different cases.  We had the case down in Atlanta where two individuals, local Atlanta area college students, sought to go to Pakistan and get training from either Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed, reach somehow the al-Qaeda or the Taliban and then come back to the United States and carry out some kind of terrorist attack. 

In the same vein, we‘ve also seen several instances now, where families are coming forward and approaching law enforcement, whether from the Somali community, the Pakistani community, the community in general. 

And they‘re coming forward and they‘re saying, “We don‘t know what happened to our sons.  We don‘t know whether it was a cleric who radicalized them.  We don‘t know if it was an Internet Web site.  But they‘ve disappeared and we think they‘re on their way into a conflict zone.” 

So hopefully, that‘s a pattern we‘re going to see continuing because these are exactly the kind of people that al-Qaeda would like to recruit.  They‘re not that sophisticated, but they have U.S. passports and they‘re willing to die. 

MADDOW:  And in terms of affiliations, this is not a situation in which these young men were at least seemed to be attending a radical mosque or any other obvious radical affiliations of any kind.  Do we know anything about why they may have been radicalized, if they were? 

KOHLMANN:  Well, that‘s what‘s bizarre, is that these guys were self-radicalized over the Internet.  They were sharing jihadist videos with each other.  They were sharing these ideas on the Internet.  But what‘s most unusual about this case is the suggestion - it hasn‘t been proven yet - but the suggestion that an al-Qaeda recruiter by the name of Sayfullah(ph) noticed this activity on YouTube and contacted them over YouTube saying, you know, “Come, join us.” 

And that kind of level of interactivity - that‘s quite impressive.  We‘ve seen self-radicalization on the Internet before.  We‘ve seen people reading stuff and taking this and moving forward with it, people like, obviously, Sgt. Malik Hasan down in Ft. Hood. 

But the idea that al-Qaeda would recruit over the Internet directly - that‘s something new.  We have to see whether or not that pans out. 

MADDOW:  How important is it that these two groups that these young men approached said, “No, we‘re not interested in you”?

KOHLMANN:  Well, that‘s another phenomenon that we‘re seeing.  And that happened also with the case of the two Atlanta area college students.  But these guys went to them and Lashkar looked at them and said, “Hold on a second.  We don‘t really trust them.” 

I think one of the reasons that we‘re seeing is because Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed - they‘re realizing that these guys might be U.S. spies.  They know they‘re under the microscope.  I mean, Lashkar just came up yesterday in reference to the case in Chicago, the David Headley case. 

So the idea that Lashkar is under the microscope - that‘s obvious.  So I think they‘re afraid now - let‘s make sure these guys are who they say they are.  They are not U.S. spies. 

And these guys - look.  They didn‘t speak Urdu.  They look very funny.  They look westernized.  Ordinarily, Lashkar might give them training.  Jaish might give them training.  But under the current environment with what‘s going on in Pakistan, I think these groups, fairly widely said, they‘re too much of a liability. 

MADDOW:  It‘s the nexus of law enforcement and the war on terrorism with law enforcement starting to seem like - at least, in this case, it really worked to bring these guys to the surface when they needed to be. 


MADDOW:  Evan Kohlmann, NBC News terrorism analyst, “” founder, it‘s great to have your input on this.  Thank you.

KOHLMANN:  Thank you very much. 

MADDOW:  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Tiger, inc., what‘s going on behind the scenes to keep the golfing star‘s billion dollar image intact. 

But first, Kent Jones explores how bladder control made it on to the Senate floor this week.  Plus, we have a winner in our RACHEL MADDOW SHOW balloon challenge inspired by the Pentagon‘s much cooler one.  That is next.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  We turn now to our Senate oration correspondent, Kent Jones. 

Hello, Kent. 

KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST:  Hi, Rachel.  Senators have been making speeches for more than 200 years, but there‘s never been a speech like this.  Ever, ever. 


DORGAN:  Sometimes bladder control problems can cause unwanted interruptions in life.  It doesn‘t have to be that way.  Overactive bladder is treatable. 

JONES (voice-over):  Is that really North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan talking about bladder control on the floor of the Senate, so to speak? 

DORGAN:  “I‘ve got this one body and this one life,” says Sally Field, “So I want to stop my bone loss and I did more than that.  I reversed it with Boniva.” 

Does your restless mind keep you from sleeping?  Do you lie awake exhausted?  Then maybe it‘s time for you to ask whether Lunesta is right for you.  So go ask your health care provider about Ambien CR for a good night‘s sleep from start to finish.  Get me some purple pills. 

JONES:  Sen. Dorgan wasn‘t channeling his inner Judy Garland.  He was reading from popular TV ads to make an important larger point about the high cost of marketing, promoting and advertising brand name prescription drugs. 

In the process, the distinguished gentleman from North Dakota broke new ground for discourse.  I doubt he ever imagined he‘d be saying something like this in front of his colleagues. 

DORGAN:  Waking up to go, starting, stopping, going urgently, incomplete emptying, weak stream, going over and over, straining. 

JONES:  The gentleman yields. 


MADDOW:  God bless Byron Dorgan. 

JONES:  Yes.  He‘s doing the hard work today.  God bless him. 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Kent.  Appreciate that. 

JONES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Also, thank you to Huey Lewis. 

JONES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Cocktail moment for you.  You remember this time last week, DARPA, the branch of the Pentagon responsible for research and development was getting ready for their network challenge.  They put 10 big, eight-foot wide red weather balloons at 10 undisclosed locations around the country.  This is last Saturday.

They challenged the public to correctly identify the location of all 10 balloons.  The first team to correctly do so was a group of five grad students at MIT, naturally. 

They used the Internet and social networking.  They offered a share of the winnings for the contest to people who could either help them find balloons or help them find other people who could find balloons. 

With that economic incentive, they got all 10 balloon locations in under nine hours.  They not only won the DARPA challenge.  Of course, they also won $40,000. 

We here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW did not have any cash to give away.  But didn‘t stop us from holding our own balloon challenge.  We hid three strategically placed red balloons in three archive segments of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW on our website. 

Just so you know in our GOPreakness segment from January 30th.  They were in our “Filibuster Explainer” segment with WNBA star Sue Wicks from August 20th.  That was a good one.  And the segment when I first interviewed the health care bill from Capitol Hill on September 16th

We had literally hundreds of replies, many of them totally wrong,

which means people were fantasizing where the balloon was.  But within a

mere 6 ½ hours after announcing the start of the competition, we had a

winner - actually, we had two winners.  The winners are -


Allie Feiwell, F-E-I-W-E-L-L and Elizabeth Rockett.  Congratulations!  Yay!  You do not win $40,000, but you are deeply impressive.  Six hours, well done.  Thank you.  Thanks to everybody who participated. 

Thanks, Kent.  Thanks to you at home.  We will see you again tomorrow night.  Until then, you can E-mail us .  “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.  Have a great night.  



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