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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Randa Fahmy Hudome, Michael Klare, Jameel Jaffer, Peter Diamandis
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  And, now, to discuss the new Republican scare tactic, Chris Hayes, in for Rachel Maddow tonight.
Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, GUEST HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  I‘m afraid I think we‘re Snooki-free on this coast tonight.  But I‘m glad you guys brought it tonight.
HAYES:  Thank you.
And thank you for staying with us for the next hour.
We begin a very busy show tonight with the new political wedge issue being wielded by Republicans as we inch toward the November elections.  Gone are the quaint days of using issues like abortion, guns and gay marriage as wedges to divide the populous.  Those issues are no longer the cutting edge of GOP demagoguery.
This summer‘s hot new fashion?  The specter of the scary Muslims.
NEWT GINGRICH ®, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER:  One of the things I‘m going to suggest today is a federal law which says no court anywhere in the United States, under any circumstance, is allowed to consider Sharia as a replacement for American law, period.
HAYES:  That was former Republican House speaker, Newt Gingrich, sounding the alarm on Islamic Sharia law invading America, warning that U.S. courts may soon choose to forego traditional American law in favor of Islamic law.  Sure, this hasn‘t actually happened anywhere, but that didn‘t stop him from bravely talking a stand against it and being rewarded for his courage with applause.
As campaign season unfolds this year, it is fascinating to observe Republican politicians and Republican candidates using Muslim-baiting as a crude political wedge issue, picking bigoted fights over Islam to rally their base and appeal to voters‘ worst impulses.  Nowhere has this tragedy been more apparent than here in New York City where the proposed construction of Islamic center and mosque two blocks away from ground zero has stirred up all sorts of fearmongering from Republican politicians.
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK:  I believe it is very offensive and it‘s wrong.  I don‘t believe that legally it can be stopped, however, because of the First Amendment.
CARL PALADINO ®, NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  This is Carl Paladino.  As governor, I will use the power of eminent domain to stop this mosque and make the site a war memorial instead of a monument to those who attacked our country.
GINGRICH:  The idea of a 13-story building set up by a group, many of whom, frankly, are very hostile to our civilization.  And I‘m talking about the people who organized this.  Many of whom are apologists for Sharia, which is a form of law that I think we cannot allow in this country, period.
HAYES:  The issue of this Islamic center and mosque has become so politically hyped by Republicans that earlier this week, Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Rick Lazio challenged Democrat Andrew Cuomo to a debate solely on that issue, who‘s for America, and who‘s for the Muslims?
And this whole fear the mosque thing isn‘t just on display in New York.  It‘s happening in California as well where a group that appears to be Tea Party affiliated is planning to hold a protest tomorrow against the proposed mosque being built in the city of Temecula.  Protesters are being encouraged to bring their dogs to that one, because, according to the organizer, Muslims, quote, “hate Jews, they hate Christians, they hate women and they hate dogs.”
The strange thing about this anti-Islam thing gaining traction as a new political wedge issue is that it‘s actually gotten worse the farther we‘ve gotten from 9/11.  In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, President Bush earned and deserved a lot of credit for not letting the events of that day indict Islam as a religion.
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT:  These acts and violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenants of the Islamic faith.  It‘s important for my fellow Americans to understand that.  The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.  That‘s not what Islam is all about.  Islam is peace.
HAYES:  Islam is peace.  After 9/11, President Bush really led the effort on this sort of hearteningly measured approach to Islam—a reasonable approach towards Islam that is quickly vanishing from the modern day Republican Party.  It‘s a party that seems to be consumed with opposing Islam, casting aspersions against the intentions of Muslims and standing up against these made-up threats like Sharia law somehow taking over America.
STATE REP. REX DUNCAN ®, OKLAHOMA:  This is a pre-emptive strike to make sure that liberal judges don‘t take the bench in an effort to use their position to undermine those founding principles and to consider international law or Sharia law.  This is a war for the survival of America.  It‘s a cultural war.  It‘s a social war.  It‘s a war for the survival of country.
Frankly, it‘s the face of the enemy.  It‘s the face of the enemy.  And we need to call it what it is.
HAYES:  The war against Sharia law is, quote, “a war for the survival of America.”
That‘s the type of rhetoric that‘s on display right now from Republican politicians across the country.  It‘s not just Oklahoma where Sharia law is apparently taking over.  It‘s happening in nearby Tennessee as well.
LT. GOV. RON RAMSEY (R-TN), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  They crossed a line when they start trying to bring Sharia law here in the state of the Tennessee—in the United States.  It‘s not good if that‘s what‘s going on.  Now, you could even argue whether that being a Muslim is actually a religion or is it a nationality, way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it.
HAYES:  That‘s right.  Islam might be a cult, according to one of Tennessee‘s Republican gubernatorial candidates.
The seeds of this “fear the Muslim” strategy were actually planted months ago.  Remember back in October when four Republican members of Congress held a press conference in Washington to accuse the Islamic organization, CARE, of hatching a secret plot to place Muslim spies on Capitol Hill in the form of congressional interns.
REP. SUE MYRICK ®, NORTH CAROLINA:  About a year ago, I learned that CARE was trying to infiltrate the offices of the members of Congress by placing interns in the offices.
REP. PAUL BROUN ®, GEORGIA:  Planted spies in key national security-related congressional offices—
REP. TRENT FRANKS ®, ARIZONA:  It is unnerving to say the least that there would be members of groups catalyzed by CARE coming into congressional offices to change our public policy.
HAYES:  The crafty Muslim intern infiltrators who are trying to get into courts and Capitol Hill.
With November elections fast approaching, next month, a whole slew of Republican candidates for office in the state of Florida are scheduled to appear at a Tea Party rally in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  That rally is being headlined by this woman, Brigitte Gabriel.  Ms. Gabriel is billed as a leading expert on global Islamic terrorism.
If her past speeches are any guide, here‘s what these partiers and Republican candidates can expect to hear next month.  Quick programming note: Before this clip, we, of course, make the distinction between Muslims and Arabs but Ms. Gabriel apparently does not.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL, TERRORISM EXPERT:  The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arabic world is the difference between civilization and barbarism.  It‘s a difference between goodness and evil.  And this is what we‘re witnessing in the Arabic world.  They have no soul.  They are dead-set on killing and destruction.
HAYES:  They have no soul.  They‘re dead-set on killing and destruction.
As campaign season continues to ramp up across the country, this seems to be the Republican Party‘s new identity wedge political gamble.  This is what they seem to be staking their claim on right now—the inherent danger posed by Muslims inside this country, distorted in disgusting attempt to stir up the worst kind of tribalist impulses among voters.  In other words, not a new playbook, just a new chapter.
Joining us now is Randa Fahmy Hudome.  She was the associate deputy secretary of energy in the Bush administration and now, she‘s the president of a consulting firm in Washington, which we should note does lobbying work in behalf of domestic and international clients.
Ms. Hudome, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
RANDA FAHMY HUDOME, FMR. BUSH ADMIN. OFFICIAL:  Sure.  Good to see you, Chris.
HAYES:  I want to get to the larger issues that we sort of entered in that segment there.  But, first, I just want to get your reaction to that Gingrich sound bite in the speech today.  What did you make of that—him saying we should pass a law against the nonexistent threat of the imposition of Sharia?
HUDOME:  Well, I‘m not sure as far as the speech goes, because I was not there.  And as we‘ve all learned these past few weeks, we don‘t want to take comments out of context.  That being said, you know, Speaker Gingrich, who was the speaker of the House in 1994 and a member of Congress, very well knows that we have the protection of the First Amendment here in the United States.  It‘s the First Amendment for a reason.  And what it does is protect anybody from the exercise of free religion, but it also protects the congressional from passing any law that prohibits that exercise of free religion or establishes any religion.
So, we already have the protections of the First Amendment here in the United States.  And I‘m not sure what Newt Gingrich was speaking about there.  But certainly, as you mentioned, Chris, it‘s the silly season.  And I can only surmise that Newt Gingrich is running for president in 2012.
HAYES:  Well, that‘s an interesting sort of indication, right?  I mean, if it is the silly season, if this is being done to gin up political interests, what does that say about what Republicans are willing to say or the people they‘re willing to use as sort of straw men enemies in campaign season?
HUDOME:  Well, Chris, you had an interesting introduction there.  But I would urge you to do a little bit more digging on those politicians who were speaking out against Muslim or anti-Islamic rhetoric.  You‘ve forgotten your Florida piece to mention Jeff Greene, the Democratic Senate candidate who‘s running for the United State Senate in Florida, and who himself called the Koran, having very, you know, crazy language in the Koran, and said some things about Islam that were not enlightening.
So, Chris, this rhetoric is on both the Democratic and Republican side.
HAYES:  Oh, but come on.
HUDOME:  This is not just the Republican issue.
HAYES:  That is.
HUDOME:  And what I can tell you is, if you give me 24 hours, I will dig up every negative statement of every Democratic senator and congressman against Islam and Muslims in America.  And it won‘t be that hard.
HAYES:  And you know what?  I would—I would invite you to do that.  I guarantee you, we will post it on the blog.  Because I really don‘t think you‘ll be able to come up with it.  I mean, the fact of the matter is, right now, if you look at this ground zero—and let‘s talk about the ground zero Islamic center.
HUDOME:  Sure.  Absolutely.
HAYES:  I mean, that is—one after another, Republican candidates.  In fact, the Republican gubernatorial candidates are trying to kind of out Islamic center each other between Rick Lazio and his opponent, whose name escaping me at the moment, but what do you make of that?  Why is that a big issue for these Republican candidates?
HUDOME:  OK.  Well, let‘s, first of all, talk about the ground zero mosque and the actual vote that counts.  And those members of the New York Council who had to vote on this.
The ground zero mosque—and by the way, that‘s sort of a misnomer.  It‘s not a mosque.  It‘s actually a community center that includes a mosque, restaurants, cultural center and auditorium.  So, what it is, it‘s a community center which exists all over the United States in many states.
But that vote that took place in the New York City Council was actually overwhelmingly voted in favor of it.  And, indeed, many of those members that voted on the city council take a look at those votes were indeed Republicans and Democrats and independents ands everything there.
Now, let‘s go to what you‘re talking about here, which is people running for office and using this as a wedge issue.  There‘s no question, Chris, that after 9/11, Islam took a great deal of beating in the public arena, certainly here in America, for many people who don‘t understand the religion.  Those perpetrators of 9/11 indeed were members of that religion.
But shouldn‘t be identified as such here in America where you have many, many followers of the Islamic faith—
HAYES:  Of course.
HUDOME:  -- who does not believe in terrorism.  And terrorism does not equal Islam.
HAYES:  But don‘t you think -- 
HUDOME:  That being said -- 
HAYES:  Yes.
HUDOME:  That being said, many members who are running today, or many
candidates who are running today take advantage of the idea that Americans
some Americans don‘t understand that and very much equate Islam with terrorism.  And that‘s a great wedge issue to run on when you can rally people‘s emotions and rally them to the polls to go vote.

HAYES:  Do you think—what do you think about this premise that I feel like—I mean, what‘s troubling to me is that it seems like it‘s actually gotten worse as opposed to better?  I mean, it seems like—and partly because—to the credit of President Bush, he sent a message from the top in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that there was a distinction between al Qaeda and Muslims in general, and as we‘ve gotten away from that, that distinction has been blurred—particularly on the Republican side of the aisle, among the sort of conservative activists base.
Do you think that I‘m right in that trend?  Do you think things are worse now or do you think they‘re the same?
HODUME:  No.  I think, Chris, it‘s a reaction to current events and what it was.  And you‘re absolutely right, President Bush deserves a great deal of credit.  I served the president during the time of 9/11.  And he was really terrific in calming people‘s nerves about it and speaking out that Islam is a religion of peace.  President Bush also appointed more Arab and Muslims Americans to senior policy-making positions than any other administration in U.S. history.
That being said, whenever there is a controversial issue that involves either Islam, Muslims, the Middle East, or anywhere in that region, people‘s emotions come up from the bottom.  And when there is a current event, it seems as if we are stepping backwards.
And, you know, it‘s hard, Chris, that, you know—you know, 9/11 was a watershed—a horrible moment for America, historically.  We lost 3,000-plus lives.  It is a very difficult thing for Americans and all of us to deal with.  It‘s a very emotional issue.
But I have to say this, Chris, it‘s not, you know—if we‘re talking about presidents here, even our own president, President Obama, during his campaign in 2008, refused to have two head scarf Muslim women—
HAYES:  That‘s right.
HUDOME:  -- sit behind him in a campaign rally in, all of places, Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Arab and Muslim Americans.  And so—
HAYES:  And that‘s true.
HUDOME:  And President Obama can be silly, so can some Republican candidates.
HAYES:  That‘s true.  And in that instance, what happened was he got totally beat up by the liberal press, to the credit, I think, of liberal press.
Randa Fahmy Hudome, a former associate deputy secretary of energy in the Bush administration, this was very enjoyable.  Thank you very much for your time.
HUDOME:  Good to see you, Chris.
HAYES:  Next up, I will talk about fracking.  It‘s not as dirty as it sounds.  Well, actually, since fracking is one of the environmental dangerous processes used to satisfy America‘s monstrous energy needs, it is kind of obscene.
And later, Congressman Charlie Rangel‘s ethics troubles just hit the tipping point.
Stay with us.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We will continue the existing moratorium and suspend the issuance of new permits to drill new deepwater wells for six months.  We will suspend action on 33 deepwater exploratory wells currently being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico.
HAYES:  That was President Obama announcing a moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf.  It seems like a very sensible response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the reasoning was clear.  While the technology exists to drill at 5,000 feet, we have absolutely no clue what to do and how to do it when something goes wrong.
REPORTER:  More of BP plans to send down the containment dome to cover one of the two remaining leaks.  But this has never been tried before at 5,000 feet under the sea.
REPORTER:  Rice University Professor Satish Nagarajaiah says this has never been tried in water so deep.
It has not been used at that depth before.
REPORTER:  And these vessels started the long-awaited top-kill procedure this afternoon, a maneuver never tried before a mile beneath the sea.
HAYES:  A mile beneath the sea is—we have learned—a very difficult, dangerous place to drill for oil.  But we must still meet our energy needs, right?  What‘s the alternative, shallow water drilling?
Drilling for oil at shallower depths means that when an oil spill has occurred, we have the technology and know-how to immediately cap the spill.  Like the one that occurred Tuesday off the southern Louisiana coast.  A barge collided with an abandoned wellhead in Barataria Bay, releasing an unknown amount of oil and gas into the Gulf.
But don‘t worry, remember, shallow water.  We‘ll just cap it immediately and—oh, except it will take another 10 to 12 days to actually cap that well, which sort of makes you reconsider whether drilling in shallow water really is the kinder, gentler way to get our oil.
Environmental safety issues don‘t just fade away once the oil is taken out of the seabed or the ground.  It still has to travel around the country, often by pipeline, like the 33-inch pipeline in Marshall, Michigan, that burst on Monday.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 1 million gallons of oil may have spilled into the Kalamazoo River.
There‘s got to be a better, less environmental disastrous way to meet our energy needs.  What about natural gas?  It‘s got the word “natural” right there in the name, right?  And easy-to-access natural gas sources—as easy-to-access natural gas sources dry up, drillers increasingly turn to a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.  They pump highly pressurized water, sand and some mysterious mixture of chemicals into the ground to force the gas up.
You know what‘s also in the ground?  Water—water we drink.
In the HBO documentary, “Gasland,” one gentleman showed to great effect that maybe, just maybe, some of the natural gas, made its way into his water supply.
I‘m no engineer, but I am pretty sure you‘re not supposed to be able to light your water on fire.
But fracking has its defenders—like the 18 Republicans in the Colorado state legislature who sent a letter to the EPA demanding that the agency not regulate fracking, no matter what.
OK.  So, deepwater drilling is dangerous.  Shallow water drilling is dangerous.  Moving oil around the country is dangerous.  Getting natural gas out of the ground is probably dangerous.
And don‘t even get me started on coal.
Joining us now is Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College.  And he‘s author of the book, “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy.”
Professor Klare, thanks so much for joining me tonight.
HAYES:  Well, you know, it seems to me, one of the points you make in the book that I think is so affecting is just the fact that we have—you argue that this is what things are going to look like from now on because we‘ve gotten the easy energy.  Is that right?
KLARE:  That‘s right.  I mean, we‘ve been extracting oil and natural gas and coal for a long time now and it‘s a natural process.  You go for the easy stuff first—the wells that are close to the surface, close in shore, easy to extract geologically and in safe and friendly countries.  And most of that has now been used up.
So, what‘s left is the tough stuff.  It‘s deep underground, far offshore, in geologically complex formations like shale rock and in unsafe and unfriendly countries.  And we have no choice.  Those are the only places left to go.
HAYES:  So, what are some of the extreme examples of the lengths of which we are now going to get these difficult-to-reach resources?
KLARE:  Well, you began, of course, with BP in the Gulf of Mexico.  We‘ve been going into ever-greater depths of water to get at oil and natural gas, a mile, two miles.
And increasingly, this is where the oil companies are looking because
you spoke of coastal water before.  But most of the inshore oil fields have now been depleted.  So, it‘s only deep offshore that we have left.

Or we go further north into the Arctic.  And there are lots of plans to drill in the Arctic region.  But this is a very environmentally fragile area.  And any oil spill that occurred there would have devastating consequences for wildlife.
HAYES:  You know, it seems the problem, right, is that even if we start ramp up innovation along alternative energies and we try to get that stuff to scale, we‘re going to still need coal and we‘re still going to need natural gas and we‘re still going to need oil.  You know, what do we do now in that interim while we‘re being forced into these—this kind of dangerous processes?
KLARE:  Well, this all assumes that we need ever-more huge quantities of energy.  And that has always been the assumption, that we need to provide more and more and more energy year after year.
And if you go on that assumption—yes, we‘re going inevitably to be drawn to tough coal and to tough oil and to fracking, as you said before.  We have to reach a point where we say, we can‘t continue to grow with the energy supply.  We have to invest instead in efficiency, in conservation, in using public transportation so we don‘t need so much energy.
This is the only way we can make the transition from the dangerous energy options we have today to safer, more climate-friendly energy options of the future.
HAYES:  Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College—thank you so much for joining us this evening.
KLARE:  My pleasure.
HAYES:  In his 20 years as Democratic congressman from New York, Charlie Rangel ahs never had a day like today.  Ethics violations, closed door deals, and the credibility of the House on the line—next.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK:  Sixty years ago, I survived a Chinese attack in North Korea.  And as a result, I wrote a book that having survived that, that I haven‘t had a bad day since.  Today, I have to re-assess that statement.  Thank you.
HAYES:  That was 20-term Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
He now faces the prospect of congressional ethics trial despite reported efforts to negotiate some kind of deal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Rangel‘s attorneys have been meeting with ethics committee staff about a possible deal to avoid a full ethics trial.
KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT:  We know that there have been talks between Charlie Rangel‘s lawyers and lawyers for the committee.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR:  Lawyers for Rangel have been trying to cut a deal with congressional investigators but time is running out.
HAYES:  Time ran out.
This afternoon, the House Ethics Committee held a preliminary hearing and announced that the investigation is now in the trial phase and revealed the 13 charges against Congressman Rangel.  He officially stands accused of using his office to raise money for an eponymous wing of a New York College, inappropriately using rent-controlled apartments, failing to disclose taxes in a Dominican Republican property, failing to disclose personal assets, and violating the ban on receiving gifts and soliciting donations.
But what is at stake in this trial is not just the career and legacy of one of the longest-serving members of Congress or the ability of the Democrats to keep the House in the midterm elections if the trial goes ahead likely in September.
What‘s at stake is the public trust in the ability of Congress to do the right thing.  That trust is the foundation of the government‘s authority.  And recent polling suggests that that trust is next to nonexistent.
Only 20 percent of those polled by NBC News and the “Wall Street Journal” last month approve of the job Congress is doing, while only 19 percent of those polled by the “New York Times” and CBS News approve.  And only nine percent of those polled think most members of Congress deserve to keep their jobs.
Perhaps most revealing and most damning is a Gallup poll from a few weeks ago that asks people which institutions they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in.  Congress ranked last at just 11 percent.  Even big business and HMOs ranked higher - the sorry state of affairs that is apparently not lost on the Ethics Committee. 
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), ETHICS COMMITTEE:  Our obligation is to act fairly and without bias or partisanship.  To do anything less would dishonor this house and would be a disservice to our country. 
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX), RANKING MEMBER, ETHICS COMMITTEE:  With only 11 percent of the country having a positive view of this institution, the pressure is even greater to ensure these proceedings are fair, open and conducted in strictly nonpartisan manner. 
In the mind of the American people, Congress has become completely self-serving and so tone deaf its members somehow feel the rules just don‘t apply to them.  We must regain the people‘s trust. 
HAYES:  While alleged ethics violations are by no means the chief cause of Americans‘ lack of faith in Congress, they certainly don‘t help.  So what‘s happening against the backdrop of Congress desperately needing instill trust in the people? 
They‘re being totally transparent and apolitical and just doing the right thing by the folks who elected them, right?  Well, the ethics panel is reportedly still considering the as yet undisclosed deal with Congressman Rangel and will make a decision within days.  Well, apparently, without the Congressman‘s lawyers. 
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D-NY):  It is my understanding that it‘s the Ethics Committee itself that‘s working without my lawyers‘ involvement. 
HAYES:  The charges facing Congressman Rangel are serious.  The committee should determine his guilt or innocence in a fair, impartial and open proceeding as committee members pledged this afternoon, without any behind-closed-door deals. 
They make a deal out of the public view.  They risk achieving the unthinkable, making the future U.S. Congress even less trusted than the current U.S. Congress.  
HAYES:  Back when President Obama was still candidate Barack Obama, he had plenty of despised Republican policies to run against that would help fire up the base.  Liberals didn‘t just hate President Bush.  They saw him for the threat he was.  And really, he was a threat to the most basic American principles of justice and decency and fair play. 
So candidate Obama, with apparent conviction, promised voters that if they elected him, he would end his predecessor‘s abuses of power.  Really, he promised.  Here‘s Mr. Obama in August 2007. 
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT;  I‘ll also reject a legal framework that does not work.  There has been only one conviction at Guantanamo.  It was for a guilty plea on material support for terrorism.  The sentence was nine months long. 
There has not been one conviction of a terrorist act.  I have faith in America‘s courts and I have faith in our JAGs.  As president, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. 
HAYES:  I like that guy.  Close Guantanamo, no more torture.  That seemed a Mr. Obama pledge to end illegal wiretapping and surveillance of Americans. 
OBAMA:  No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.  No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war.  No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.  That is not who we are. 
HAYES:  Yes.  No more of that because I said so and I‘m the president.  Out with Mr. Bush, of course, and in came Mr. Obama, who, on just his second day in office, signed a series of executive orders banning torture and secret detentions and calling for Guantanamo to close in a year. 
A new day had dawned in America.  Except that 18 months later, that new day looks disturbingly like the old one.  The prison at Guantanamo still very much open for business.  The administration has been holding suspects indefinitely in another prison near the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. 
This White House has expanded the terrorist watch list, argued for indefinite detention and gone after whistleblowers and on and on and on. 
Today, a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that instead of ending President Bush‘s worst abuses, President Obama may be on the road to enshrining them. 
Quote, “There is a very real danger that the Obama administration will preside over the creation of a new normal.”  President Obama, the candidate of change, turns out to be doing what American presidents nearly always do, especially in times of war.  They expand executive power and fight like hell to keep from giving it back. 
When one administration hands the reins to another, especially the different party, those powers become durable and even permanent.  They become bedrock. 
Joining us now to talk about why is Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU‘s National Security Project.  Thank you so much for being here, Jameel. 
HAYES:  OK.  Because I‘m a “look on the bright side” guy, what - what do you think are sort of the high points of the national - of the civil liberties record in this 18-month review you guys have conducted? 
JAFFER:  Well, there are high points and I think, you know, we actually went out of our way into the court to point out the high points.  Some of them happened in the first days of the administration. 
There were the executive orders that disavowed torture, that shut down the detention centers, the CIA‘s detention centers that committed to closing Guantanamo within a year, which, obviously, is not a problem and so they were able to keep. 
But still, I think that they - they meant it when they said it and they tried.  And these were all good things.  Later on, they released the torture memos.  And we characterized that in the report as evincing a historic commitment to transparency.  So we tried to give them credit where credit is due. 
The bigger argument of the report, though, is that in many, many areas, what you see - when you step back from the individual decisions that the administration has made what you see is an entrenchment of a pattern that was started under the Bush administration. 
HAYES:  OK.  So what are those areas?  I mean - and where are they most egregious where you see these kinds of entrenchment? 
JAFFER:  Well, the places we identify, we point to the indefinite detention policy, the endorsement of indefinite detention. 
HAYES:  And when you say that, just to be clear, those are indefinite detention in briefs filed by the government, as a matter of policy? 
JAFFER:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.  I think what‘s happened is that the Obama administration has abandoned the rhetoric of the global war on terror.  But it has not abandoned the arguments that were underneath that rhetoric. 
And that‘s true when it comes to indefinite detention.  If you look at the arguments that the administration has made in court, they are making the same statutory arguments that the Bush administration was making in its last days in office. 
If you look to Guantanamo, it‘s true that the administration has committed to close Guantanamo.  But one of the ways they‘re looking to close Guantanamo is to open a new detention center inside the United States in Illinois.  And that detention center would hold prisoners indefinitely without charge or trial. 
So ultimately, what would happen is you would shut down the prison, but you would enshrine the principle of indefinite detention.  So that‘s another area that we point to. 
HAYES:  When you map this out, if you sort of plot it against time, right, and in terms of good stuff and bad stuff, it seems like that moment when they released the - when they released the CIA documents and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) memos and there was the big Cheney backlash and all this kind of interplay, Cheney versus Obama. 
Obama made that speech in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  That seemed like the last moment you could point to when they were making these kinds of courageous pro-civil liberties decisions and everything since then has been kind of a steady downward trend? 
JAFFER:  Yes.  I mean, I don‘t think - I think that is largely true, although I don‘t know if it‘s entirely true.  I mean, we point in the report to the decision by the State Department to reverse the ideological exclusions of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Adam Habib. 
That was a relatively recent decision.  It‘s a decision that this administration made after carefully considering federal court decisions that questioned the basis for those exclusions.  But that was a relatively big deal and something that the administration did recently. 
But again, if you look - if you look - if you sort of step back from the individual decisions that the administration is making every day, and you look broader trend, there really is what appears to be a kind of entrenchment of the global war on terror. 
The same policies on indefinite detention, the same endorsements to military commissions with some changes of the margins.  But still, the use of military commissions. 
JAFFER:  Exactly. 
HAYES:  To try some people in regular federal court.  And then if you can‘t give them a conviction there, you put them in this military commission.
JAFFER:  Right.  And then you have to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the third system which isn‘t a system of justice at all, which is the indefinite detention, right?  And then, the administration has also expanded the Bush administration‘s targeted killing program. 
And in some ways, that‘s the most alarming of any of these policies, a program under which the administration asserts the authority to kill people abroad, including U.S. citizens abroad without charge, without trial, without due process of any kind. 
It‘s a big deal.  And that‘s something that‘s being expanded by this administration.  So again, we try to give them credit where credit is due, but we also want to try to convince them to correct their course because they‘re only 18 months into this administration. 
There is time to change those policies.  We hope that the report will encourage them to do that. 
HAYES:  You can read the report at “”  Jameel Jaffer, he is the director of the National Security Project at ACLU.  Thanks so much for coming in.  I really appreciate it. 
JAFFER:  Thank you. 
Coming up on “COUNTDOWN” you know the conversation about race we were supposed to have after last week‘s appalling Shirley Sherrod fiasco?  We are definitely not having it.  Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson is their guest. 
And coming up on this show, cocaine and crack.  Why the punishment for selling one is not even remotely the same as the punishment for selling the other.  A baby step towards justice on the war on drugs, up next. 
HAYES:  Small businesses can‘t get loans.  Everyone, including Republicans, agree that small businesses are critical to economic recovery.  So the Senate was considering establishing a $30 billion fund to get community banks to lend more money to small businesses. 
And today, Republicans filibustered that bill at least into hibernation if not to extinction.  Sorry, small businesses.  Sorry, unemployed people.  Sorry, American economy. 
There should be a giant asterisk that magically appears next to any Senate Republican who campaigns on Democratic failure to create jobs and stimulate the economy. 
Given the opportunity to support a giant jobs bill Republicans used a filibuster like a pocket knife to whittle the bill down to simple unemployment extension and then blocked that for weeks. 
Given the chance to ease credit for small business people, Republicans wouldn‘t allow the measure to come to a vote.  It should be called the asterisk of doing business the way the Republican Party is doing it. 
HAYES:  Today, the president addressed the National Urban League‘s 100th anniversary convention and he went to the podium with a victory in hand. 
Yesterday, the House passed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 in a voice vote, joining the Senate which passed it in March and sending it to his desk for signature. 
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  We took an important step forward when Congress passed a Fair Sentencing Bill that I look forward to signing into law, a bipartisan bill to help right a long-standing wrong by narrowing sentencing disparities between those convicted of crack cocaine and powder cocaine is the right thing to do. 
HAYES:  The law the new Fair Sentencing Bill will overturn was signed by Ronald Reagan during an era in which his wife was leading a national crusade, dubbed the war on drugs, and urging everyone to just say no. 
And when it comes to drugs and alcohol, just say no. 
HAYES:  In the mid-80s, that war had a new front when crack cocaine began to appear in American cities.  In a 1985 “New York Times” article, a retired officer warned of the crack epidemic saying, quote, “This is the wave of the future.” 
The wave decimated many inner cities and did not escape the notice of the press which covered the crack epidemic with increasing frenzy.  It was then in 1986, amidst the high water mark of national attention to the scourge of the rock-like version of cocaine that President Reagan signed new sentencing guidelines for selling the drugs. 
Both substances were highly addictive.  Both were equally harmful.  Both were cocaine, but crack was cheap, the cocaine wasn‘t. 
Crack was primarily afflicting urban neighborhoods and cocaine was viewed as the party drug of well-off whites.  African-Americans made up 80 percent of those put in jail for crack offenses despite being 30 percent of crack users. 
Added to that the insane difference in punishment and you have a yawning discrepancy at how the legal system punished white and black offenders.  When he took office, President Obama sought to eliminate that 100 to one discrepancy despite opposition from the usual suspects. 
REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-TX):  Reducing the penalties for crack cocaine could expose our neighborhoods to the same violence and addiction that caused Congress to act in the first place. 
HAYES:  Yesterday, the president prevailed over this opposition.  And the relative ease with which he did indicates that the war on drugs isn‘t quite the political winner it was in the days of electric boogaloo and Debbie Gibson. 
Like all White House‘s victories, of course, this one was partial.  When (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the ratio between crack and cocaine sentences, it will still be an unjustifiable 18 to one. 
Yesterday‘s vote moves the law significantly in the right direction, away from the most mindlessly punitive drug measures of the Reagan days.  Progress is progress.  Let‘s hope, eventually, the war on drugs goes the way of acid-washed denim and shoulder pads. 
HAYES:  In today‘s “Moment of Geek,” here‘s a formula for technological innovation.  Start with a problem no one has managed to solve.  Take some of the smartest people in the world.  Pit them against each other, kind of like rock them, sock them robots, except you punch each other with your smarts.  And then make the competition worthwhile by ponying up some sweet cash. 
That was how Raymond Orteig inspired trans-Atlantic aviation.  In 1919, he offered $25,000 to the first aviator who could fly nonstop from New York to Paris.  Nine teams competed for the prize and Charles Lindbergh won the money in 1927. 
Really, everybody won because suddenly commercial aviation became possible.  Decades later, the X-Prize Foundation is using the same model to jump-start innovation in everything from space travel to gene sequencing to fuel-efficient cars. 
In 1996, it offered $10 million to the first team to develop a manned space craft that could fly out of earth‘s atmosphere and land safely twice in two weeks.  Twenty-six teams competed in 2004.  The prize went to spaceship one. 
There are X-Prizes up for grabs in the contest to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days or less and in the prize to land a robot on the moon that can travel 500 meters or more and transmit images back to earth. 
Today, the foundation announced a new prize to develop technology to clean up oil spills on the ocean‘s surface.  Right now, I‘m geeking out on an X-Prize challenge that, three years after it started, is in its final stages. 
It‘s a contest to develop hyper-efficient cars.  The winning cars have to get the equivalent of 100 miles a gallon, be able to travel 200 miles on a single tank or electric charge.  They have to be safe to drive and commercially produceable. 
131 cars entered the contest back in 2007.  Now, after some rigorous road testing last week at the Michigan International Speedway, we are down to nine. 
Here to tell us more about what may be the cars of the near future, Peter Diamandis.  He is the chairman and CEO of the X-Prize Foundation, I believe, a fellow Bronx native.  Peter, how are you doing tonight?
PETER DIAMANDIS, CHAIRMAN, X-PRIZE FOUNDATION:  I‘m doing great, Chris.  How are you doing? 
HAYES:  So I guess the first question is what do we have to rethink to get to a car that can travel the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon? 
DIAMANDIS:  Well, what we did was we created a new metric for measuring how a car goes and we call it MPGE, miles per gallon equivalent, because sometimes what powers a car doesn‘t have a gallon of anything.  It‘s electric. 
And so this new metric we did with consumers report allows us to compare electric against hybrid against gasoline or ethanol, whatever it might be.  So that‘s the first thing to do.
And then, we‘re rethinking aerodynamics.  We‘re rethinking the power systems and power train, the materials that are in it, and really, just the entire approach of how cars are designed. 
HAYES:  One of the really interesting things is that there is this sort of multiplicity of approaches.  I was reading one story about one team that is actually just building a standard gasoline-powered car.  Some are electrics. 
Talk about that gasoline-powered one.  It seems like a big issue is how much these cars weigh.  And one of the big engineering innovations we‘ve seen in the contest so far is getting that weight down. 
DIAMANDIS:  Sure.  So if you go back, the Ford Model T, you know, almost 100 years ago, was getting 25 miles per gallon. 
HAYES:  Unbelievable. 
DIAMANDIS:  Which is more than the average car in the United States gets today.  And as engines became more and more efficient, people started adding weight to the cars and features and so forth. 
We never actually pushed the miles per gallon.  So these cars are taking advantage of new material sciences, composites, naturally-impregnated composite materials, crushable systems. 
So the way that most people protect themselves in this metal womb
you know, you surround yourself with 5,000 pounds of metal in the hummer and SUV -

HAYES:  Right.
DIAMANDIS:  Instead of using materials that can absorb the energy much quicker and much better and keep you safe that way. 
HAYES:  A big part of the contest is the cars have to be commercially viable.  And I wonder like what does that mean and how - when can I get my awesome future car? 
DIAMANDIS:  So you know, we were really lucky to have Progressive Insurance as our partner because, you know, they‘re in a position now to insure these cars of the future. 
And one thing that‘s important to both of us is we don‘t want, you know, cars in theory.  The cars that are competing in this competition need to be able to go into production, meaning they‘re safe, they‘re affordable, they‘re fast, because people want fast cars, they‘re beautiful and they can get over 100 miles per gallon or its energy equivalent. 
And we‘re hopeful that we‘ll see cars go into production in the next two or three years.  You know, on the heels of the X-Prize for space flight, Richard Branson came in and commercialized the technology that was won on the day it was won.  So the same will happen here. 
HAYES:  Now, you - so there‘s two categories.  There‘s a four-seater - there‘s a bunch categories - a four-seater and a two-seater cars.  And there are some two-seater cars that are side by side and some that are sort of in a row.  I‘m wondering why the two-seater category? 
DIAMANDIS:  Well, most people drive with, you know, just themselves in the car.
HAYES:  Right.
DIAMANDIS:  So you think about the last time you‘ve driven with really
using all four seats.  It‘s rare.  And the fact is we are looking to bring
a new generation of cars to the marketplace.  And these two-seat, three-
wheel which are many of those, or two-seat, four-wheel are some beautiful
cars that get well over 100 miles per gallon or its energy equivalent, are
going to be very affordable, and allow you to experiment a lot more with
sexy designs -
HAYES:  Right. 
DIAMANDIS:  That are fully ergonomic and such. 
HAYES:  Finally, I want to ask you.  If you‘ve driven these and how they drive and people have been - you know, I was actually just in a new car purchasing mode and people were writing reviews about hybrids and diesel and so forth.  How do they drive? 
DIAMANDIS:  So I was in one of the two car vehicles called the Tango.  It‘s a tandem, front and back.  And I got in and I hit the accelerator and I burned rubber for about 30 feet down the road. 
I must have cost the guy a pair of tires.  But it was incredible. 
I mean, literally, it corners like a Porsche 911.  It‘s got the
acceleration zero to 60 in four seconds. 

HAYES:  Wow.
DIAMANDIS:  These cars are fast.  They‘re sexy and they get over 100 MPGE.  Why would you want anything else? 
HAYES:  Sounds good to me.  Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X-Prize Foundation, this is really enjoyable.  Thanks a lot. 
DIAMANDIS:  My pleasure. 
HAYES:  That does it for us tonight.  I‘m Chris Hayes, in for Rachel.  You can read more of my work at “” or follow me on Twitter, user name chrislhayes.  “COUNTDOWN” starts now.  Good night. 
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