Guests: Ron Suskind, Donald McEachin.
HOST: Good evening, Keith. I‘ve had so many tin foil
hats over the years that I actually have them lined up by size.
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: That‘s great idea. They go up and
they matched which pair of glasses on a given day, things like that?
MADDOW: That‘s exactly it.
MADDOW: Conspiracies I have known, hairstyles I have worn. Thank
you, Keith. I appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: Good night.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for tuning in.
Tonight, nuclear news that is not just about treaties and diplomacy,
but is about earthquakes and secret missions and cranes almost dropping
huge containers of unstable radioactive material. Good times.
Tonight, as Keith said, faith healing makes its debut in the right
wing effort to repeal health reform. Yes, I said faith healing.
And because it‘s come up again, we will preview tonight “The McVeigh
Tapes.” It‘s a documentary. It‘s exclusive. It‘s only here and it is
That is all coming up this hour on the show.
But where we begin tonight is in the middle of the 8.8 magnitude quake
that hit six weeks ago in Chile, the biggest earthquake anywhere in the
world in 50 years. What we did not know at the time of that quake was that
in the middle of that giant quake, there was a team of American officials
inside that country, inside Chile on a top-secret mission to save the world
from nuclear disaster.
It sounds mellow dramatic, right? It‘s actually not an exaggeration.
In the days before that earthquake hit, a team of U.S. officials were in
Chile on a mission to secure 40 pounds of radioactive, highly-enriched
uranium. They were to obtain it, secure it, and transfer it safely to the
United States all in secret. This 40 pounds of highly-enriched uranium was
being stored at two facilities.
Now, 40 pounds of this stuff is considered to be enough to destroy
part of a major city if it were detonated, which would not be the hardest
thing in the world to do. So, you obviously can‘t just pick this stuff up,
throw it in a suitcase, and hop on a plane back to the United States.
U.S. and Chilean officials had to extract the uranium racks from this
ionized pools they were stored in. They then transferred them into
specially-designed casks. The casks were lined with eight inches of lead
and steal to keep the uranium safe in transit. Sixty tons of metal were
used to secure just 40 pounds of uranium. Package and handle this stuff
the wrong way and you can set off a spontaneous nuclear chain reaction.
“TIME” magazine reports it was only 12 hours after the team got the
uranium into those casks and surrounded it with 1,500-pound protective
impact limiters—just 12 hours after that, the giant 8.8 impact, aka
earthquake, hit. Well-packed for shipping, the uranium was safe in the
quake. If there had been a spontaneous nuclear reaction, you probably
would have heard about it by now.
But the earthquake did render totally unusable, the port that the
scientists were going to use to ship out this secret nuclear cargo. After
a recon mission that involved the head of the Chilean nuclear agency
personally driving himself to one uranium site to check on its safety, the
scientists worked through the night to find a new escape route. They
decided to use a port 50 miles to the north of the one they had initially
Cue, a dark of night convoy through the new airport through an
earthquake ravaged countryside with no electricity in a desperate attempt
to get this uranium out of the country safely—again, all while keeping
Despite major aftershocks, the uranium made it to the new port safely.
But then, more drama.
One of the cranes that was being used—look at this—one of the
cranes being used to hoist this unstable, highly radioactive material on to
the American ship malfunctioned, sent the container swinging, flying out of
control just yards above the deck. Ultimately, they regained control, and
the uranium was loaded on to two specially-outfitted double-hulled American
ships. They put it on two ships so they would have split the material, so
neither of the ships would be carrying enough highly-enriched uranium to
make a bomb.
The ships then embarked on a 2 ½ week Coast Guard-escorted journey
to the United States, including an ulcer-inducing trip through the Panama
Canal. Their ultimate destination: South Carolina, where the uranium is
painstakingly converted to safer, non-weapons grade fuel.
With the moratorium ending on telling the story of Chile‘s uranium in
the earthquake, today in Washington, leaders of 47 countries gathered for
the biggest summit in the United States in more than six decades. It‘s a
two-day gathering aimed at addressing the issue at global nuclear security.
And right at beginning of day one of the summit, some results to be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today, Ukraine announced a
landmark decision to get rid of all of its stockpile of highly-enriched
uranium by the time of the next nuclear security summit in 2012.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ukraine will eliminate its entire stockpile of highly-
After Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made that announcement, President
Obama and the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, released a joint
statement, quote, “President Yanukovych announced Ukraine‘s decision to get
rid of all of its stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium while the United
States will provide necessary technical and financial assistant to support
Sound familiar? The United States will provide technical and
financial assistance—hopefully, this time, minus the earthquakes.
There‘s actually no guarantee that, like Chile, Ukraine is going to
send us their highly-enriched uranium, but it‘s absolutely they‘re not out
of the realm of possibility.
The United States is doing this sort of thing because we want to
secure all the dangerous, highly-enriched uranium that‘s out there in the
world. So far, some other countries are interested in letting us take it
off their hands because having hundreds of pounds of weapons grade uranium
just lying around not only presents the risk of that stuff accidentally
detonating, it also could fall into the wrong hands—and keeping it from
falling into the wrong hands costs a lot of money in terms of securing that
The head of the Chilean nuclear agency told the “Associated Press,”
quote, “We are happy to see it go. Countries normally don‘t want to be
loaded with waste from other countries. But to put it in a safe place is
valuable for everybody.”
The Bush/Cheney administration did expand U.S. efforts to lock down
loose nuclear material. But the Obama/Biden administration has put those
efforts into overdrive.
The president making this very ambitious pledge last year—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I am announcing
a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around
the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our
cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships, to lock down these
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He set that four-year clock running a year ago. That means
we‘ve got three years to go to lock it all down worldwide.
The reason this is now a priority for the United States is because of
the very real threat that this stuff can be stolen and used in some sort of
nuclear-armed act of terrorism. So, taking highly enriched-uranium from
other countries helps eliminate the chance that this stuff will fall into
the wrong hands. And to the extent that there is a black market for this
stuff, it reduces the supply of it—so that even if there is a black
market, and at least that black market will be very expensive.
This is a dangerous mission. But the United States is taking the lead
role on it. President Obama holding summits like today‘s to cajole
countries who have it and he‘s proposing a 67 percent increase in the
budget of the agency that goes on these cloak-and-dagger, earthquake-
dodging missions to get it.
Everybody thought that health reform was going to be President Obama‘s
lasting presidential legacy.
Health reform, I‘d like to introduce you to your very dramatic
Joining us now is Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Ron Suskind. He‘s
author of the book, “The Way of the World: The Story of Truth and Hope in
an Age of Extremism.”
Ron, it‘s great to see you back here. Thanks for coming back on the
RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR, “THE WAY OF THE WORLD”: Nice to be back.
MADDOW: Are we able to safely take care of this stuff once it‘s
brought back to the United States? Do we have the technical know-how to
take care of it?
SUSKIND: Yes, I actually think we do. I mean, this plan of getting
uranium or plutonium from around the world and saying, look, we can house
it safely here, we‘re a safe repository, we‘ll take it off your hands, is
actually something of a new sort of concept to deal with this really
impenetrable issue of what to do in a world that is really awash with
enriched uranium and plutonium. It‘s a real problem for humanity.
MADDOW: How did countries like Chile and Ukraine get this stuff in
the first place?
SUSKIND: Well, you know, they get it different ways. Some of them
have nuclear facilities, reactors. Of course, it‘s used as fuel to drive
those reactors. In the case of Ukraine, apparently, some of these—the
uranium was in weapons that were once housed in the Ukraine, Soviet weapons
that then were sent back to Russia.
You know, there‘s lots of ways countries end up with this stuff in
their hands. But I think what you find when you go around the world, that
all of them deep down are saying, you know, I don‘t think it‘s really safe
You deal in this issue, Rachel, with the sort of fine line between
will and capability. There are many countries that say, look, we have the
will to wrap this stuff up, to protect it. But do they have the capability
if, let‘s say, a well-armed terrorist group finds a lightly guarded store
of highly-enriched uranium?
Well, the fact is, a review of the world and the world black markets
and above-board markets where the uranium is sitting shows that much of the
uranium around the world is loosely guarded, and that is an enormous
threat. That‘s why the Obama administration has really stepped up. And to
be sure, they‘ve gone beyond the Bush administration quite dramatically.
MADDOW: Ron, I know that you‘ve done a lot of reporting on the black
market in this area. When President Obama said that al Qaeda not only
wants nuclear material, they would not be hesitant to use it, the
implication is that the black market is where they would be trying to get
it. Is he right? Is there—is there good evidence that they are seeking
this sort of material to use as a weapon?
SUSKIND: There is no doubt that al Qaeda is seeking highly-enriched
uranium and fissile plutonium as well. I think that‘s even more of a
threat, to do exactly the improvised nuclear device that the world fears,
that everybody fears. You know, there have been more than three dozen
incidents, significant black market incidents in the last decade.
And, frankly, many of them are coming through Russia, South Ossetia,
that‘s where actually the pressure point and many of the problems are.
There‘s a lot of highly-enriched uranium floating around in that part of
the world. And the fact is most people say—if it comes from anywhere,
it will probably come from there.
MADDOW: Is there a qualitative difference between what President
Obama and his administration is doing on the subject and what the
Bush/Cheney administration did? We know that quantitatively, they‘re doing
more—the president even now asking for a fairly large increase in the
budget to do this sort of—these sorts of projects.
But is there a difference in the quality of the approach, the type of
the approach, the types of resources being brought to bear on this problem?
SUSKIND: Yes. There‘s no doubt. You know, they brought up
In a way, what we‘ve done here—the Obama administration—they
brought it out at the sunlight. They say, look, we know people are afraid.
They have the right to be afraid. We are, too. We need to work together
in a kind of shared purpose, in concert, because this is a problem for all
Remember, the real threat are the non-state actors, the terror
networks. In a way, they‘re a challenge to all state-based power and to
the longstanding issue of force and diplomacy that states work together or
against one another. What you‘ve got here, the new entrant into the—
into this disastrous situation are the non-state actors.
We probably in our lifetime, and unless this moves forward, what is
being attempted today and what will probably be unfolded, I think, in the
next year or two, we probably will face a nuclear-armed terror network in
our lifetime. Now, imagine the disaster that that portends for all states,
much less a state that is the target of it. And, frankly, on balance, that
might well be the United States.
That‘s why this initiative—and actually it‘s quite heartening. I
mean, 47 nations coming to the United States saying, look, we need to solve
this problem. That is an enormous step forward.
What solutions will emerge from this summit? Certainly, already with
the Chinese and the Iranians, the breaking news that China is now behind
sanctions for Iran, I think it shows that people are ready to say, this is
not a state versus state issue. This is an issue of all states versus the
threat of nuclear terrorism.
MADDOW: I think you‘re exactly right, and I think that‘s very well
put. And I think it‘s something that we haven‘t yet gotten around to
figuring out as Americans, that this is a new leadership role that our
country is taking in the world, but we‘re seeing it unfold before our eyes.
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Ron Suskind, author of the book “The
Way of the World,” and my friend—thanks for joining us tonight, Ron. As
always, great to see you.
SUSKIND: Nice to be here.
MADDOW: Aside from the business of, you know, saving the planet from
nuclear terrorism, this big conference in Washington is also an opportunity
for many visiting world leaders to finally meet President Obama, a lot of
them, in very quick succession. It was like a line dance over there.
And later, Confederate History Month, armed marches on the state
capitol, and faith healing—spring time in Virginia.
MADDOW: As the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing
approaches, there‘s news tonight about the recently raided Hutaree militia.
Along with that news tonight, we will preview some of the never-before-
aired jailhouse interviews with Timothy McVeigh—the talks about things
that motivated him to do what he did and what exactly happened on April
19th, 1995 in Oklahoma City. That report is coming up. It is exclusive
Please stay tuned.
MADDOW: I really tried to find it, but it turns out there‘s nothing
funny about nuclear nonproliferation conferences—except maybe one thing.
President Obama welcoming 47 world leaders to Washington for this nuclear
summit, maybe the biggest gathering of world leaders convened by a U.S.
president since 1945 at the San Francisco conference that founded the
United Nations. And now, President Obama is the host.
So, as the host, he had to have one-on-one bilateral sit-down meetings
with the whole lot of these leaders. I mean, they came all this way. They
all have egos. Respect must be shown. And we‘re talking loose semi-
available fuel for nuclear weapons.
So, a president‘s got to do what a president‘s got to do—which was
sort of a version of speed-dating diplomacy today. Did you see his
Small talk with the whole big wide world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister Singh, I haven‘t seen you since
Since those imposters showed up at the state dinner in my honor.
Right. Right. Sorry about that.
Did they wind up on a reality show? I don‘t get cable.
So, how are things in Kazakhstan?
You know, we didn‘t find Borat funny.
Oh, me neither.
And Bruno? What was that?
So, President Zuma, you‘re hosting the World Cup this summer?
Indeed. We call it soccer.
We call it football.
OK. Hey, I‘ve got to keep it moving here.
I get that a lot.
King Abdullah, how did your bracket work out?
I had Syracuse. Butler totally ruined me.
Tell me about it.
So, how long are you in town for? Not long, got to get back to Kiev
to tie up a few loose ends.
Well, I‘m a little pressed for time. Will you be willing to send us
all your highly-enriched uranium?
Let me think. OK.
President Hu, how‘s everything in Beijing?
Gigantic and increasingly menacing.
Right. I knew that.
MADDOW: That‘s probably not what anybody said. But the president did
cram in 10 meetings of various lengths in two days, all heavily
protocolled. You know, equal time scheduled for India and for Pakistan, 15
minutes for Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria. Also the delicate dance of
telling which leaders that they would be meeting not with the president but
with the vice president.
Diplomacy and protocol sometimes result in abnormal and sometimes sort
of funny human behavior. But the manic schedule of sit-down meetings, in
fact, the entire enterprise of bringing 47 world leaders to the United
States to try to build an international consensus on anything represents
something big and fundamentally different about this American government.
In the old days—which in this case began in 2001 and officially
ended on January 20th, 2009 -- in the old days, we had a very different
approach to international agreements of any kind.
For example, in one week in July 2001, the Bush administration
abandoned the United Nations draft accord that sets out ways to enforce the
1995 Biological Weapons Convention.
We refused to join 178 other nations who agreed to implement the 1997
Kyoto Treaty on carbon emissions.
And we forced changes to a U.N. pact to stem the illegal flow of small
arms from handguns and to shoulder-launched rockets. U.S. officials signed
off only after blocking two key provisions that would have restricted arms
owned by civilians and sold to rebels.
And those three examples clustered neatly into one week in 2001 were
way before President Bush appointed John Bolton to be our ambassador to the
United Nations. John Bolton better known as John Bolton!
Who said this about the United Nations to which he was to be our
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.N. AMBASSADOR: There is no United Nations. The
Secretariat Building in New York has 36 stories. If you lost 10 stories
today, it wouldn‘t make a bit of difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. The Bush administration did not like international
treaties. That guy they called a diplomat. They broke international
treaties under the assumption that our enemies would all break them
anyways, so what was the use?
Agree or disagree with that approach, this is one of the most
fundamental differences between this administration and the last one. This
is a big deal. This is one of the biggest fundamental differences between
modern conservatives who think that international institutions and
agreements are for suckers and modern liberals who think those institutions
and agreements sometimes work. That old mutual pursuit of the mutual
interests of sovereign nations thing, you know?
President Obama campaigned on change. As it turned out, change did
not mean that everybody suddenly had a job or that the banking crisis was
suddenly fixed or that our wars magically ended. But change, in part, has
meant a return to diplomacy, which means forging not just coalitions of the
willing to come along for the ride, but also coalitions of countries of the
more or less equally-motivated to take on enormous global problems. And in
that way, change, big world changing change, is, in fact, what we got.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The governor did not even mention
slavery in this proclamation. Was that a mistake?
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR ®, MISSISSIPPI: Well, I don‘t think so. I don‘t
know what you would say about slavery. But anybody who thinks that you
have to explain to people that slavery‘s a bad thing, I think it goes
without saying. To me, it‘s the sort of feeling that it‘s a nit. That it
is not significant, that it‘s not a—it‘s trying to make a big deal out
of something that doesn‘t amount to diddly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mississippi governor, ex-lobbyist, and presumed 2012
presidential contender, Haley Barbour, this weekend one-upping Virginia Bob
McDonnell and the whole “slavery‘s no big deal” thing.
Last week, as you know, Virginia‘s governor issued a Confederate
History Month proclamation that did not mention slavery. Governor
McDonnell realized quickly this was a bit of an “oops” if he ever wanted to
have a career outside Virginia right wing politics. Within days, he issued
an apology and amended the proclamation‘s language—a climb-down which
Mississippi‘s governor, Haley Barbour, apparently could have done without.
Governor Barbour explaining the he liked the slavery-free Confederate
History Month proclamation just fine as it was—thank you very much.
In case you‘re wondering whether Governor Bob McDonnell is happy that
Haley Barbour is taking the neo-Confederate spotlight off Virginia for a
moment—think again. Following up on rescinding gay rights protections
for state workers in state colleges in Virginia, following up on the
declaration of a slavery-free celebration of the Confederacy, Governor
McDonnell has now unveiled his next trip in the time machine.
It‘s long been the case in Virginia that people convicted of a felony
lose their right to vote. Only the governor can restore that right. And
Governor Bob McDonnell is adding a little something special to that process
According to “The Washington Post,” in the next few weeks, Governor
McDonnell will, quote, “require the offenders to submit an essay outlining
their contributions to society since their release, turning a nearly
automatic process into a subjective one that some say may prevent poor,
less-educated or minority residents from being allowed to vote.”
So, if you are one of 300,000 Virginians disproportionately poor and
minority, of course, who have lost the right to vote, you now have to write
an essay to show this man that you deserve to get the right to vote back.
You have to demonstrate your literacy, in other words—as a sort of test
for voting. Why does that sound familiar?
Governor Bob McDonnell‘s right handyman—emphasis on “right”—is
also doing his part for the state‘s image. State Attorney General Ken “The
Cuch” Cuccinelli today addressing a march on the Virginia state capitol by
people with guns, encouraging people to bring their weaponry to the state
house. Mr. Cuccinelli also addressed two Tea Party rallies over the
weekend at which he called vehemently for the repeal of Obamacare. All of
which is just a prelude to Thursday‘s big event on the Virginia attorney
As Virginia‘s top lawyer, Mr. Cuccinelli will be headlining something
called the Awakening and Revivals History Conference. The Awakening
Conference at Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty University.
Also slated to appear: our old pal Lou Engle. Remember Lou Engle? He
was the one who led Senate Republicans in December in their prayercast
where they prayed against health care and they prayed for God to overthrow
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU ENGLE, THE CALL TO CONSCIENCE: We dare to believe today that you
overthrow, overrule kings, that you actually rule in the Senate debates
even as we pray. So, now, we stand before you and worship you, the God who
answers prayer, arise, o, God, hear, show mercy and turn this nation to
you, we pray. In Jesus name, break in—break in at this moment, as we
lift our voices all across America. Come, Lord, hear from heaven and
intervene in Jesus name, we pray.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sen. DeMint and Sen. Brownback there, the two guys you saw
seated next to each other. Also slated to appear at this Thursday‘s event
immediately before the Virginia attorney general‘s going to give his speech
is a woman named Cindy Jacobs. Cindy Jacobs claims to be a prophet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY JACOBS, CLAIMS TO BE A PROPHET: If you need any kind of miracle
at all, you just get up and start to move towards the front because a cloud
of glory is going to come. Backs are being healed. Feet are being healed.
God is taking away migraines. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
Somebody needs a healing of Hepatitis C. You are being healed
right now. Does somebody else have AIDS? You are being healed right now,
right at this moment. Oh, glaucoma is being healed. Hallelujah.
Hallelujah. The cancer-free zone, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the anointed of God.
Hallelujah. Just when I count to three, I want to you do
something you could not do. You wait until I count to three, and we‘re
going to believe God is going to begin to move for you.
Are you ready? Are you ready? Come on, God, create. Be the
creator. Be the creator. Be the creator. Are you ready? When I count to
three, if you couldn‘t bend over, bend over. If you couldn‘t move your
arm, move your arm. If you had a tumor, see if it‘s gone. Whatever it is.
Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready?
Are you ready? Here we go. One, two, three, go. Move. Move. Move.
Move. Move. Do it now. Do it now. Move. Put your hands up. Bend over.
Touch the floor. Come on. Do it. Move. Move. Move. Move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I feel like I have to break in here for a second. There‘s a
little bit more. But I just want to tell you, we didn‘t add the creepy
music to the clip. The music is actually live. There are musicians
playing the music along with her. I think it is supposed to help with the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS: I break every word that was spoken against you, by doctors,
every medical chart that says you are not healed, that you will not walk in
wholeness. I break every spirit of death. You spirit of death, go in
Jesus name. Be healed. Now move. Now move. Come on. Pray more. Be
healed. Be healed. Be healed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s getting better.
JACOBS: Be healed. Be healed. Move it some more. Yes. Hallelujah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So I don‘t know if the band is going to be there. But the
attorney general of the state of Virginia is going to be appearing with her
on Thursday. A lot of conservative politicians admit they want to repeal
But it takes a brave new Virginia-style conservative politician
to say they want to repeal health reform while appearing at an event with a
faith healer. Repeal and replace, indeed.
Joining us now is Virginia State Senator Donald McEachin. He is
a Democrat representing Richmond in the State Senate. Sen. McEachin, thank
you so much for your time tonight.
SEN. DONALD MCEACHIN (D-VA): Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Your attorney general in your state is taking an increasingly
high-profile national role. I know that you and some others in the state
legislature and the State Senate oppose his effort to sue the government
over health care. Why do you oppose him, and what are you doing to fight
MCEACHIN: We know of no reputable legal scholar that believes that
lawsuit can succeed. He‘s wasting taxpayer time and he‘s wasting taxpayer
money. He ought to be chasing Internet predators, looking into mine safety
things of that sort.
MADDOW: I know that you represent Richmond in the State Senate. The
attorney general, in addition to this lawsuit that he‘s pursuing
nationally, that he‘s speaking at all these events, talking about that
lawsuit, he also attended a gun rights rally in Richmond today, reportedly
100 people there, many of them wearing visible weapons.
How do you feel about the state‘s top lawyer addressing that
group? How do you think it fits into overall how he‘s performing as
MCEACHIN: Well, I think he‘s not performing as attorney general, at
least, as he should. It seems that he‘s already back on the campaign
trail. You know, tomorrow will mark the 90th day of this administration.
The campaign is over, and what he ought to be doing is helping to
solve the problems that everyday, ordinary Virginians face and not engaging
MADDOW: Do you get the sense in Virginia that the new governor and
the new attorney general are more focused on building a national profile
than they are the local problems facing Virginians?
MCEACHIN: I think that‘s absolutely the case. They are clearly
playing to their base. But what they really need to remember is that the
election is over and that they‘re the governor of all Virginians and
attorney general of all Virginians. And I wish they would act in that
MADDOW: In terms of the way that Virginia is being viewed by the rest
of the country right now, when Gov. McDonnell signed the Confederate
History Month Proclamation, he said it was in hope to attract tourism to
the State of Virginia. That, of course, complicated by his apology later
for having not included slavery in the original proclamation.
What‘s your assessment of the validity of that apology? How do
you feel about that overall incident?
MCEACHIN: Well, you know, the governor‘s apologized, it‘s true. But
you‘ve got to kind of wonder, how do you get to that point? How do you
write a statement about that period of time and not include slavery?
Who were the people around the table who came up with that
ingenious idea? And as far as tourism bid is concerned, you put it on your
Web site with no fan fare at all and that‘s going to attract tourism? I
don‘t think tourism was the reason.
MADDOW: What do you think was the reason?
MCEACHIN: The sons of confederate veterans asked him to do it. And
that is part of his base so he decided to play to it.
MADDOW: Is there a far right base in Virginia politics that is the
beneficiary of all of these actions that have been taken by these two
conservative politicians? Is this really all about keeping that sort of
very far right side of the electorate happy? And how much more needs to be
done to keep them continually happy?
MCEACHIN: Well, I don‘t know how much more needs to be done, but I
certainly think they have done enough. And again, you know, Virginians
face problems in education. We face problems with transportation. We face
problems with job creation.
You know, when the governor said he was going to be “Bob for
Jobs.” And none of that has taken place yet.
MADDOW: Virginia State Senator Donald McEachin - Senator, it‘s a
pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you for giving us your time this
MCEACHIN: Hey, and thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you. So there are new details about exactly what
federal authorities found when they raided the Hutaree militia in Michigan
two weeks ago, including some DVDs marked “Waco.” What you are about to
hear is the voice of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber describing
from prison his reaction to what happened in Waco at the Branch Davidian
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TIMOTHY MCVEIGH, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBER: You feel a bond to this
community. The bond is that they‘re fellow gun owners and believe in gun
rights. And they‘re fellow survivalists and freedom lovers.
When do you draw the line and say enough is enough? Somebody has
to send a message to say, you can‘t go any further.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Later, we‘ll have more on the news about the Hutaree militia.
And we will have a preview - more of a preview of the jailhouse-taped
confession of Timothy McVeigh which has never before been aired. Please
MADDOW: It was Pulitzer Prize day today, a huge day for journalists
and writers. The Pulitzer for investigative reporting was awarded to the
“New York Times,” which frankly is not that weird or different or unique to
What is all of those things, though, is that the “New York Times”
magazine won it this year in collaboration with “Pro Publica.” “Pro
Publica” is a not-for-profit investigative newsroom founded and funded by
philanthropists to publish journalism in the public interest.
The Pulitzer-winning story examined controversial choices made by
doctors at a New Orleans medical center in the immediate aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. Buried in the positive news of this well-deserved win
is the very sobering reality there is a need for “Pro Publica” to exist at
all, now that news organizations are outsourcing the muck-raking that used
to be the very existence before it got to be too expensive.
Before we let the subject of the Pulitzer Prizes go, here‘s one
for which there is no caveat. Hank Williams got one today. The country
music pioneer got a special Pulitzer citation for, quote, “writing and
singing songs that reflected the hopes and struggles of everyday Americans.
His compositional skills and fusion of genres experts say became the
measure by which country music is judged.”
And you know what? That is something about which we really do
not need expert assurance. As someone who has made the pilgrimage to his
grave to share a beer with Hank, let‘s just the man‘s music speak for
itself, shall we?
MADDOW: We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Timothy McVeigh in his own words. We will have more of that
exclusively here, so stay tuned.
MADDOW: “AnnArbor.com” today reported on what was in the records of
federal search warrants when law enforcement authorities searched the homes
of members of the Hutaree militia in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
Among guns, guns and more guns, knives, machetes, swords body
armors, gas masks, liquid tear gas, bomb manuals, a book of Adolf Hitler‘s
speeches, potassium chloride, grenade holders and thousands and thousands
and thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition, a couple of items
The search of Hutaree leader David Brian Stone‘s home turned up
three DVDs labeled “Waco.” The search of Hutaree member Thomas Piatek‘s
home turned up audiotapes of “The Turner Diaries.”
“The Turner Diaries” is a novel that is a white supremacist race
war fantasy. Highlighted clippings of “The Turner Diaries” were in the car
that Timothy McVeigh was driving when he was arrested the day of the
Oklahoma City bombing.
The destruction of the Branch Davidian compound at Waco is what
Timothy McVeigh says drove him to plan and commit that bombing. Now, of
course, under the First Amendment, we all the right to even really
It‘s not illegal to read Neo-Nazi books about heroic while
militias bombing federal buildings and killing Jews and black people and
overthrowing the U.S. government. It is certainly not illegal to own DVDs
about the siege at Waco.
But the Constitution‘s protection of our right to read and
espouse all sorts of things does not require that we ignore threats and
parallels of American extremists today seemingly reading from the script of
past American extremists who committed horrific acts of domestic terrorism.
“The Turner Diaries” and the Waco guys and the Hutaree militia
are accused of plotting and training for the mass murder of U.S. law
enforcement officers and waging war against the U.S. government.
A week from today, April 19th, is the 15th anniversary of “The
Turner Diaries” and the Waco-inspired bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah
building which killed 168 Americans.
During this hour on MSNBC on April 19th, we will be airing a
documentary. It‘s based on never-before-heard tapes of Timothy McVeigh,
including his detailed account of what motivated him and what exactly
happened on the day of the bombing in April 1995. Here is a preview from
“The McVeigh Tapes.” Again, the special airs a week from tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): In January 1993, Timothy McVeigh is
frustrated by the dead-end existence he‘s been enduring since leaving the
Army. And he is still shaken by his experiences in the Gulf War.
Eager to figure out his mission in life, McVeigh packs up his car
and says goodbye to his quiet hometown of Pendleton, New York.
MCVEIGH: I lasted at home for one year and one month. I said
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) this whole neighborhood. This isn‘t for me. I don‘t
have a place here. I haven‘t found a love. And then I hit the road.
DAN HERBECK, CO-AUTHOR, “AMERICAN TERRORIST”: The odyssey that he was
living in the early ‘90s was really bizarre. He thought nothing of getting
in his car and driving hundreds or even thousands of miles. And he was
searching for something.
MARK POTOK, DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: As a guy, who I
think had a lot of trouble relating to other people. That was what the
world that was very kind and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to him.
DR. KATHLEEN PUCKETT, FORMER FBI FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: He was
gathering inspiration and information for what he thought was his mission
in life. He wasn‘t going to be the super-soldier, so who was he going to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McVeigh‘s mission is still unclear but he‘s
beginning to hone in on his main focus of fury, the U.S. government. He
finds like-minded thinkers on the gun show circuit.
During the early 1990s, these expos become gathering places for
the fast-growing militia and patriot movements. It is in this subculture
that McVeigh finally finds an outlet for his growing rage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you could find an amazing amount of
literature on insurgency, on forming militias, on building weapons.
They‘re amazingly anti-government.
MCVEIGH: Of my favorite bumper stickers - you‘ve heard the one that
says, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”? Well, there‘s
a new one that was my favorite and it says, “When guns are outlawed, I will
become an outlaw.” And it was at that point when I was fully intent in my
life that I was going to live outside the law.
HERBECK: He started to believe that our government was going to come
into people‘s homes and take their guns away. And this scared the hell out
of the Tim McVeigh.
KATE MCCAULEY, INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING CASE:
And that same mentality is what you see from gun show to gun show to gun
show. You know, get your weapons now, stockpile them now. For Tim
McVeigh, this must seem like this is the next war that‘s about to be waged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, at least four federal agents, one cult
member are dead, and at least 14 other people were wounded in the gun
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On February 28th, 1993, outside the central
Texas town of Waco, many in the patriot movement believe the spark to that
next war is ignited.
DAVID KORESH, LEADER OF THE BRANCH DAVIDIAN CULT: You can‘t point
guns in the direction of my wives and my kids. Damn it, I‘ll meet you at
the door anytime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In an effort to take Branch Davidian spiritual
leader, David Koresh, into custody, federal agents raid his compound and a
massive fire fight breaks out.
STUART WRIGHT, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, LAMAR UNIVERSITY: Six
Davidians and four ATF agents were killed. And that started the 51-day
RICK BURR, TIMOTHY MCVEIGH‘S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It was a clash between
federal law enforcement might and withdrawn people who were fiercely
protective of their community.
MCVEIGH: You feel a bond to this community. The bond is they‘re
fellow gun owners and believe in gun rights and they‘re fellow
survivalists, and freedom lovers.
When do you draw the line and say enough is enough? Somebody has
to send a message to say you can‘t go any further.
HERBECK: And McVeigh got in his little junk car and drove to Waco,
Texas to find out what was going on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michelle Rauch, a college newspaper reporter at
the time, was at the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco to investigate
It wasn‘t until one year after the Oklahoma City bombing that she
realized the man she interviewed on the hood of his car was none other than
MICHELLE RAUCH, JOURNALIST: He was very unassuming. He was literally
just very casual, sitting on the hood of his car, very articulate. Tim
said, “People need to watch what‘s happening and heed any warning signs.”
At the time, I thought, “What does that mean?” Well, when I went
back and read that in my article, it gave my chills, because I thought, did
that mean Oklahoma City? Was he foreshadowing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After camping in his car outside the Branch
Davidian compound for a few days, McVeigh drives to Terry Nichols‘ farm in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In less than an hour, the compound that had
fascinated the world for 51 days was destroyed in a raging inferno driven
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On April 19th, 1993, McVeigh and Nichols watched
the violent end of the Waco siege on television.
MCVEIGH: Watching flames lick out windows, and watching tanks ram
walls, my eyes just welled up in tears and tears started coming down my
cheeks (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I just stood there in stunned silence.
What is this? What has America become? I remember that scene.
It burned into my memory. I‘m emotional right now as I talk about it. I
felt absolute rage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tim saw this as an act of war against the people.
LOU MICHEL, CO-AUTHOR, “THE AMERICAN TERRORIST”: It was the bully
again. This time, the horns were on the head of the federal government.
MCVEIGH: The rules of engagement, if not written down, are defined by
the actions of an aggressor, OK? Now, what rules of engagement would you
interpret in examining Waco? Kids are fair game? Women are fair game?
POTOK: I think that that was the final moment for McVeigh. He says
so himself, right? I mean, after Waco, now is the time for action, right?
Now, we‘re going operational.
MCVEIGH: With Oklahoma City being a counterattack, I was only
fighting by the rules of engagement that were introduced by the aggressor.
Waco started this war. Hopefully, Oklahoma would end it.
MADDOW: You can watch our entire two-hour special documentary which
is called “The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist,” next
Monday, April 19th, 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. We‘ll be right
MADDOW: OK. “Moment of Geek.” We know it‘s the tallest mountain in
the world. We know it‘s in the Himalayas. We know that if you climb to
the top of it, you will never make another sherpa joke ever again in your
What we don‘t know is exactly how tall Mt. Everest is. China and
Nepal are the two countries that share the border of Mt. Everest. For a
long time, they‘ve had a dispute about it.
Now, at this point, Kent Jones will help me illustrate at the big
board. Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: Hi. OK. So China claims Mt. Everest measures 20,017 feet
above sea level, right? OK. Nepal - that‘s China - Nepal says that it‘s
taller. Nepal says it‘s 12 feet taller. Nepal says Mt. Everest is 20, 029
feet above sea level.
Why do they have the difference? Well, China measures from where
the highest rock ends. Nepal measures the highest point including any snow
on top of that highest point. So that‘s how Nepal‘s view of Mt. Everest is
12 feet bigger than China‘s.
Who‘s right? Well, in Katmandu recently, representatives from
the two countries got together and agreed to acknowledge each other‘s
measurements - one for rock, one for snow.
Tada! Amazing. A diplomatic victory, break out the supplemental
oxygen. Tip your sherpas. We‘re here all week. While this is very
exciting news, there‘s also the uncomfortable fact that some geologists say
that China and Nepal are probably both wrong.
Tectonically speaking, Everest is getting taller all the time
now, because the continental plate that has India on it is getting
tectonically shoved under the plate that has China and Nepal on it. So
Everest is growing.
Also, in 1999, the Boston Museum of Science and the National
Geographic Society used GPS to calculate the height. They said that Mt.
Everest stood even taller - 29,035 feet. That‘s six feet higher than what
the Nepalese, 18 higher than what the Chinese say.
And further, people climbing Everest have recently been reporting
that the snow and the ice at the top has shrunk. Thanks, climate change.
So how high is Mt. Everest? I can only give you an 18-foot
range, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But the range is going as tectonic plates
shift and shrinking as the planet heats up.
But none of that, however, changes the remarkable fact that Nepal
just got China to sit down to agree to something. Pointless and wrong as
it might have been, it‘s still something. Thank you, Kent. You look great
JONES: Thank you.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith
Olbermann starts right now. Hi, Kent.
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