THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
November 13, 2012
Guests: Frank Rich, Neill Franklin
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us tonight. Happy to
have you here.
If you -- like me -- last spent significant time doing videogames when
video games looked like this, it can be disconcerting, even disorienting to
know that videogames now look like this -- which is to say it is really
hard to tell that they are not movies.
Ultimately, the basic principles are the same in terms of videogames
then and videogames now. Most of them are fighting and shooting games, and
for most of them, if you are not really good at controlling your thumbs,
you`re probably not going to be a world champion at the game. But the
increasing, over-the-top visual realism of modern video games is also
matched by an effort of videogame makers to make the wartime combat
featured in so many of the most popular games really authentic as combat.
So, this game you`re looking at here is called "Medal of Honor: War
Fighter". It was so authentic that when the game came out a couple of
weeks ago, seven Navy SEALs were officially reprimanded for giving
classified information about Navy SEAL stuff to the makers of this game,
who presumably used it to make it as authentic as possible.
In a new combat realism game that came out today, the makers were
advised by a guy named Oliver North. Remember him? The disgraced Marine
colonel indicted for 16 felonies in the Reagan-era, Iran Contra scandal.
He then went on to become a FOX News personality and a conservative
Oliver North not only consulted on this new game "Call of Duty" that
comes out today. He appears as a character in the game, although look at
his hips. In real life, I don`t think his hips swing like a hula dancer
the way he`s do in this game. When the character -- actually, I don`t
know, I`ve never seen him walk.
When the character Oliver North talks in "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2,"
this game that came out today, it is actually Oliver North`s real voice.
But here`s the thing about this game that came out today and today`s news,
and it`s the thing I`m guessing nobody saw coming before it happened.
The game comes out today. It is set 13 years in the future. It`s set
in the year 2025. And although the game is supposed to be fiction, the
cameo from freaking Oliver North is not the only way they are trying to
make this thing seem connected to real people in the real world.
There`s also an important scene in the game that takes place on a U.S.
aircraft carrier. And that aircraft carrier named the USS Barack Obama.
And the U.S. defense secretary meeting on the flight deck with the
commander of the U.S. aircraft carrier Obama is the American defense
secretary, who in the game is named David Petraeus.
Before this week, it probably was not a bad bet in video game land
that in 13 years, a then 73-year-old David Petraeus might really be defense
secretary. But now, today, that is a rather bad bet. It means that this
video game someday in the future will be unearthed with the same glee and
disbelief that accompanied the discovery of the old dating game footage of
a future Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm.
President Obama was sworn into office as president. At the end of
January 2009, just over 100 days after that, less than four months after he
was sworn in, the new president did something absolutely remarkable --
something that had not been done in more than 50 years. The new president
fired the man in charge of the war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALE REPORTER: President Obama has said that the war in Afghanistan
is one the U.S. must win. Senior officials here at the Pentagon have
decided it will take new military leadership to do it.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates met McKiernan in Afghanistan last week,
to break the bad news, but waited until today to announce it.
ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I asked for the resignation
of General David McKiernan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama relieving
General David McKiernan of command. When they did that, when they relieved
him of command as the lead American commander of the war in Afghanistan,
that was the first time since President Truman fired General Douglas
McArthur during the Korean War that an American president relieved a four-
star U.S. commanding general in the middle of the war he was leading.
When President Obama did that, it was the first time in 58 years
anything like that happened in this country, and then he did it again.
After he fired the man who was running the war when he took office, General
McKiernan, the replacement general who President Obama sent to lead the war
thereafter was this guy, General Stanley McChrystal. There was a media
cult around General McChrystal as there was around David Petraeus.
But a year after General McChrystal took command of the Afghanistan
war, he, too, was fired by President Obama. He was fired for in effect
insubordination after a magazine article portrayed General McChrystal and
his top aides drinking their way across Europe and talking smack about
civilian leadership in Washington.
Michael Hastings story about General McChrystal was told first in
"Rolling Stone" magazine and then it was told to epic effect in his book
link account of the incident, which is called "The Operators."
So, after President Obama`s first commander of the Afghanistan war was
fired, after his second commander was fired, President Obama turned to the
most high profile military leader in the country, General David Petraeus,
to become his third Afghanistan war commanding general. That tenure in
Afghanistan lasted a year. As the president surged tens of thousands of
more Americans into that country, ultimately tripling the number of troops
who were there when he first took office, that year at the front ended for
General Petraeus when he came back to Washington to become head of the CIA
-- a job from which he unexpectedly and suddenly resigned last week saying
he had been having an extramarital affair.
Meanwhile, yet another confirmation hearing is due this week for yet
another new commander of the war in Afghanistan. Marine General Joe
Dunford is due to take over the reins in that war from the outgoing
commander, John Allen. John Allen is the man who took over from General
But while General Allen is still now running the war over there, he
too has been caught up in the Petraeus affair scandal. General Allen`s
confirmation hearings for his next big job, NATO supreme allied commander,
those hearings are now on hold while the matter of General Allen`s only
personal relationship with one of the women involved in the Petraeus affair
harassing e-mails, FBI investigation thing, can be sorted out.
General Allen is in Washington for his own now postponed confirmation
hearings for his next job and for his own now canceled role in the
confirmation hearings for his successor to lead the Afghanistan war. In
Washington, he is denying any suggestion that he had an inappropriate
relationship with anyone. And for now, it seems that the Defense
Department and White House are standing by him while the investigation
And while he submits his plans to the president now for which
Americans are going to remain in Afghanistan after the official U.S. troop
withdrawal from that war, which is not this year, and it`s not next year.
That doesn`t happen anytime during the following year until the very end of
the year after that. He submitted plans already for American troop
presence in Afghanistan starting in the year 2015.
And after President Obama signs off on that post-2015 plan in the next
couple of weeks, the White House is due to start their plans for how many
Americans have to stay in the war this year, 2012, and next year, 2013 and
the year after that, 2014.
Those recommendations will come from General Allen, who if you`re
keeping track now is the tenth U.S. general to lead the U.S. war in
Afghanistan. Before this latest hullabaloo, he was due to be replaced this
week by our 11th commanding general for the same war, which is now its 12th
year, with planning well under way for year 13th and year 14th and then,
something different they won`t call a war but has Americans there in year
15 and going on indefinitely.
And for the moment, General John Allen, successor to the disgraced
Petraeus, successor to the disgraced McChrystal, successor to the fired
McKiernan, John Allen today remains in command of the U.S. war in
Afghanistan where 68,000 Americans are at this very hour risking their
necks for a country that has not in a decade paid as much attention to that
war as it is paying to the sexual misconduct and disgrace of one of the
many, many, many, many, many, many men who have led it.
Joining us is Frank Rich, "New York Magazine`s" writer at large.
Frank, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being with us.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Great to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ve just come through a presidential election in which we
pretty much did not talk about Afghanistan. There`s new interest in our
military commanders there because of the details surrounding General
Petraeus and these e-mails from General Allen.
Is this inevitable, and can this be a way to turn country`s attention
back to the war?
RICH: Well, it would seem if you turned this long-running war, which
I think is really off the public radar screen. It wasn`t only not
discussed in the campaign, in the debates, it didn`t register in the polls.
It`s as if we`re not at war, except for the people who actually are
So, to turn it into the "Real Housewives of Tampa" may be the way to
sell it or get people interested. Although I suspect, the moment this is
resolved in way or another, people will go back to ignoring the war.
MADDOW: Is there any way -- I guess the parallel question other than
public interest is political interest. I mean, you have seen in Congress
right now, including some of the Republicans who are returning to Congress
in the House that they still control, a real softening of attitudes on the
issue of how long the Afghanistan war should go on. I continue to feel
like if there`s anybody who wants to push on this door, they will find it`s
an open door and that there could be political support for leaving sooner
than we`re planning.
RICH: I think so. I thought it was true before the election. I felt
that Romney even was giving signals and even at times almost explicitly
stating that it`s good we`re getting out. And so, that shows that kind of
Who really in this country is pushing for extending it? Lindsey
Graham, John McCain and the departing Joe Lieberman. I don`t know of any
other voices in the national political scene who are saying, we can`t
leave, we have to -- you know, do as long as it takes and stay there
forever. I don`t -- and there`s no public support for it.
MADDOW: Right. And because of this scandal, I just -- I mean, one of
the things that you hear from veterans groups, that people outside the
military I don`t think seem all that comfortable talking about is the
personal toll of these long deployments over multiple years on people`s
Young veterans bemoan the rate of divorce among veterans. How
difficult it is to sustain a family and sustain relationships. I don`t
know why we would think that it`d be any easier for top commanders than it
is for, you know, your average infantryman trying to hold his family
Is this potentially -- we tend to defer to the military`s own judgment
on these things. We ask the commanders on the ground, their own opinion
for all of these things, but is this not another occasion for civilians to
say, you know what? This is being done in our name. The military isn`t
fighting this war because it wants to, they`re fighting because they think
we want it to be -- we want them to be fighting it.
Could this be an occasion for us to say we`re asking the military to
do too much for too long now, this is not personally sustainable?
RICH: I`d like to believe it`s the case. We went through the stop
leave, the multiple tours of duty during Iraq, which was so many strains --
mental, physical, marital -- on the people who are fighting and their
families. Now, this is at a high level --
RICH: -- possibly a dramatization of the strains even in the
privileged part of the military complex. But I just -- the public is not
engaged. It`s 1 percent of the country that`s fighting this war. Most
people sadly don`t know people involved in the effort.
So it`s sort of out of sight, out of mind. This will maybe cast a
spotlight, but will it be forgotten as we return to the fiscal cliff or
whatever we return to next month or next week.
MADDOW: In terms of the Petraeus affair as it were itself --
MADDOW: -- the story is definitely getting more sorted as days go by,
which I think is why it`s continuing to hold public attention so far. As
it is getting more sorted, though, it is just getting more personal, or do
you actually see it getting more political now? Is this at this point a
scandal or is it just a tragedy?
RICH: I think it`s just a tragedy. I mean, based on what we know
now, it seems to be there`s some things about it that are scandalous. I
don`t understand how a general could be involved in 20,000 or 30,000 pages
worth of e-mails, as we`re supposed to hearing about Allen, how is he doing
his job? Forget, let alone --
MADDOW: Very short --
RICH: Very short, but still 20,000 to 30,000. My God. But I do
think that it`s really more -- so far, it`s the level of personal tragedy,
and I think everyone understands that. There was an attempt by Republicans
to try to connect it to Benghazi, to accuse Obama of some cover-up before
the election as if it had been known before the election it would have had
any effect. It wouldn`t have.
I think the political efforts are now over or seem to be subsiding,
and so, we`re left with what this country really loves, a good, sorted sex
MADDOW: On the issue of Benghazi, the president is trying to put
together his second term cabinet. There`s been a lot of talk where John
Kerry is going to go, whether he would be secretary of state, whether he
might be secretary of defense. There`s this question about whether Susan
Rice, the U.N. ambassador, might be elevated to secretary of state.
And the Republicans, of course, tried to turn it into a national
scandal that she commented after the Benghazi attack and said that at that
point, best intelligence indicated it might have something to do with that
protest about the film. The intelligence community essentially later
changed its mind saying, no, they don`t think it`s related. And the
Republicans have tried to hang her out to dry on that subject.
Do you think that`s over, or do you think if she gets the secretary of
state nomination, that`s a real hurdle for her?
RICH: I don`t think it`s a real hurdle if she gets it. And, frankly,
I don`t think Republicans want to go up against a very distinguished
African-American woman in public life with no grounds whatsoever. Getting
back to Kerry -- Kerry, who actually did serve, could be and has been in
the past a great voice for what you`re talking about for taking care of our
military, taking care of our veterans, dealing with these issues in
whatever big post he ends up in -- and he certainly did it as a senator --
that would be a big plus.
MADDOW: Connecting with the country`s concerns to the war that we`re
still fighting that we prefer not to talk about. It`s a big job, but
somebody has to do it.
MADDOW: Frank Rich, "New York Magazine`s" writer-at-large -- thanks
for being here, Frank. Appreciate it.
RICH: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. News ahead on liberal seeming things that happen
in Utah. Also, election results still due to come in.
And next, President Obama`s mini summit today with a who`s who of
liberal America. And it was on purpose. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you plan to stay on as the leader? Will you plan again
for the top slot?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Let`s see. What time is it now?
It`s 2:00 on Tuesday. I`ll see you right here 10:00 tomorrow morning.
While I love you all very dearly, I thought maybe I would talk to my
own caucus before I shared that information with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi,
responding to a question this afternoon about her future in the leadership.
So, 10:00 tomorrow morning, we have to wait until then for her to share any
information about whether she intends to try to stay on as leader of the
Democrats in Congress.
That was 2:00 this afternoon she said it. But then here`s the press
release Mrs. Pelosi`s office sent out later in the afternoon about that
10:00 a.m. press conference tomorrow morning. They say the topic of the
press conference will be to highlight the historic number of women elected
as parts of the House Democratic Caucus.
Now, does that sound like the kind of event you`d hold if you were
stepping down from the leadership, especially if you like Nancy Pelosi were
an integral part of women in the Congress, having been the first speaker of
We`ll have more on Ms. Pelosi`s future and the many, many surprises --
the many awkward surprises of freshman orientation week on Capitol Hill is
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today was orientation day on Capitol Hill, important
information for the new kids. Where`s the cloakroom and all that?
But with some races still undecided in this year`s election,
orientation this year is even more awkward than usual. Por ejemplo, one of
this year`s still to be decided races is a House contest in California
between Republican incumbent Dan Lungren and his Democratic challenger Ami
Bera. Mr. Bera leads in the vote count but it hasn`t been officially
But yet, today, still, there was Mr. Bera at orientation. And who
runs the four-day long orientation for new members of Congress? Dan
Lungren, Mr. Bera`s opponent. The committee that Dan Lungren chairs runs
of orientation for new members of Congress.
And so, today, with that particular race still undecided but with Dan
Lungren behind in the race, Dan Lungren had the job today of training the
guy who looks like he`s about to oust him from Congress. Awkward.
But not the most awkward thing in Congress today. That prize today
was won in the Senate, and specifically by Republican leader there, Mitch
McConnell, who really wanted today`s photo-op with the three new Republican
senators in Washington to be a simple smile and shoot affair. It was not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY: Every two years it`s been the
week that new senators come to town for orientation. I`m pleased to be
here with our new members who have a couple of days here to get used to the
way it gets started in the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There are only three new Republican members of the U.S.
Senate this year, while there are eight new Democrats and a new
independent. So that alone is an uncomfortable position for Mitch
McConnell and the three new Republican senators forced into this horribly
awkward photo-op today, including one whose race is not necessarily settled
in Arizona where they are still counting.
So it was awkward enough when Mr. McConnell thought reporters would
stand there silently and take their picture after he gave those brief
remarks. It got much, much worse when the reporters in the room decided
that they weren`t just going to stand there and take pictures. They were
going to speak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: The election is behind us, and we`re ready to get started.
Thank you, everyone.
REPORTER: Senator McConnell, are you comfortable with the
investigation that is taking place in the Petraeus affair, and do you
believe that the FBI should have notified Congress earlier about this
SENATE AIDE: Thanks, everybody.
REPORTER: How productive do you expect the lame duck session to be?
SENATE: Thank you, everybody.
REPORTER: Senator-elect Flake, do you agree with Senator McConnell?
REPORTER: Did you get your official results, Senator Flake? Is it
REP. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: We`re comfortable.
REPORTER: Senator McConnell, are you still willing to compromise?
SENATE AIDE: C`mon guys, go. Come on.
REPORTER: Can you not push me and push everybody else?
SENATE AIDE: Yup, push it along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Push it along. Nothing to see here -- even though we invited
you here to watch us sit here in these chairs. We just didn`t want you to
speak to us once we stopped talking.
Meanwhile, over at the White House, the president spent his
congressional orientation day meeting with liberals, true blue liberals,
lots of them. And unlike most of my adult life, the liberals weren`t at
the White House to protest outside and chain themselves to the fence.
No, the liberals were there to talk with the president of the United
States at his invitation. Several different labor unions, the liberal
think tank the Center for American Project, the Center for Budget and
Policy Priorities, a group called the Common Purpose Project, the National
Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the group Move On, the
Center for Community Change. That was today`s meeting at the White House.
Tomorrow, the president is going to be hosting a big meeting for
business leaders. He`s also going to be holding a press conference.
On Friday, the president will meet with congressional leaders
including, as we mentioned, the Democratic leader in the House
Representatives Nancy Pelosi, about whom there has been much speculation
recently and who is due to announce tomorrow morning whether she will stay
on as leader of the Democrats in the House.
I do not play poker. I am not a betting person, and I am bad at
predictions. But it is my personal guess that it`s a cold day in hell when
Nancy Pelosi willingly steps aside from a job that remains to be done.
We`ll see tomorrow.
MADDOW: So, you know, this whole General Petraeus sex scandal thing
and, you know how a bunch of people in Washington are all upset that they
only found out about it when you and I found out about it, you know how
they`re are now conspiracy theories about why the FBI didn`t tip off more
people sooner than they did?
What if there was actually a good reason for that? Or a whole bunch
of good reasons?
I believe in keeping the tinfoil hat handy at all times. You never
know when you need it, but this story ought to be enough to keep everybody
riveted without having to make up, stuff about it. That`s coming up with
help from the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover.
MADDOW: This is the list of rum that is sold in the state of Utah.
This is the full list of light rum, white rum, that you can buy in Utah --
the kind of rum to make a daiquiri.
It`s an OK list. It`s not great if you`re a big rum fan. But I`ve
got to tell you -- it is better than the mezcal list. Look, this is all
the mezcal that you can get in the state of Utah. That`s it. Those two
legally -- even though one of the two mezcals you can get apparently has
"Illegal" as its brand name. This is all you can legally get as far as it
goes mezcal in the state of Utah.
However, if you have a kind of rum or a kind of mezcal or even a label
of wine that you would like to be able to get but that isn`t on the Utah
state list, you can request it from the state government. If you click on
the little shopping cart there on their Web site, it takes you to the
special orders page where you can ask your state government to please buy
you some better mezcal or whatever. You have to ask them, though. They do
try to be helpful.
There`s a whole section of the state government`s Web site about how
to best pair the wines of the state of Utah with various types of food.
This is not like a tourism thing. This is not an export thing.
This is not just wines made in Utah. It`s wines from everywhere, but
the state has to get them for you. Used to be a state employee in Utah
whose job it was to taste every alcohol, every wine, every whiskey that the
state was considering allowing into the state to be sold.
I don`t know if there is someone who has that job, but it wasn`t that
long ago. That`s because in Utah, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage
Control is not only tasked with enforcing liquor laws in the state, doing
things like giving out liquor licenses. They also choose which wines and
beers and spirits the citizens of the state of Utah may purchase. The
state government on behalf of its residents tastes wine and decides if it
is good enough for Utah.
Whether did the states deal with booze is really weird. I always
thought it`s because we had a long, strange, national failed experiment
called prohibition that was not that long ago, from which we really haven`t
quite totally recovered. When prohibition ended in 1933, Americans could
legally buy and sell and drink booze for the first time in 13 years.
And people were obviously psyched when prohibition ended. But there
was a the lot of policy to figure out how to sell and regulate alcohol.
Would cities do it? Would states do it? The federal government? Should
you have to apply for a license to sell alcohol? How old should you have
to be in order to drink alcohol?
States came up with their own answers to those questions, and the laws
between the states, even all these decades later, are still really diverse.
Today, for example, 18 states are called control states -- which means they
control the wholesale and retail sales of alcohol. That`s why in a
controlled state like Utah, the state chooses your wines for you and
hopefully we`ll help you pair them with dinner.
Weirdly, the state of Maryland is not a control state, but there`s one
county in the state, Montgomery County that does it that way, too -- a
little taste of Utah in the middle of Maryland.
The heterogeneity on these issues isn`t just between places that have
state stores for booze and states that don`t have state stores. I mean, in
some places, you can buy beer or wine or even the hard stuff at your
average Rite Aid or your average gas station. In some places, you can buy
beer at a gags station, but spirits come from a state store that looks like
a prison, right?
There are all these different levels of control on the sale and
distribution of booze up to and including the state becoming the retailer
that sells you the booze. And now, that is about to happen with pot, too,
Three states had wide-ranging new rules about pot the on the ballot
this year. Not about medical marijuana but just about recreational use of
marijuana. The measures passed in Washington and in Colorado but not in
Oregon, which is interesting, given that Oregon is a more blue state than
But Oregon was voting on something slightly different. The model of
the state-run store that sells all the liquor in the state than Utah model,
right, that is what Oregon was considering for pot. The idea that the
state would regulate people growing pot, regulate people processing it like
drying it and packaging it and getting it ready to be sold.
And in Oregon, the proposal was that the state itself would buy all of
the pot in the state and then sell that pot to Oregon residents, presumably
at stores that look like prisons, like they do with whiskey in North
Carolina and Utah and a bunch of other states, too.
That model of how to deal with legalized pot is what was rejected in
Oregon this year, but what was accepted in Colorado and Washington state,
on the other hand, was a proposal that those states should license and
regulate people to grow marijuana. License and regulate people to process
it and prepare it for sale.
But then in Colorado and Washington, what they said is that the state
should also regulate normal businesses, private for profit stores to
operate like regular liquor stores, like regular businesses selling this
new illegal product regulated that will be regulated and taxed by the
state. That is the proposal that won by 10 points in Colorado and by 12
points in Washington state.
According to these ballot initiatives, it will not be illegal to buy
or possess less than an ounce of pot if you`re over the age of 21. So, on
paper at least, the idea is that pot will now be regulated, much the same
way that alcohol is.
But the really important difference is, the really important
difference is that according to the federal government and therefore for
the whole United States of America everywhere, according to the federal
government it`s still illegal to possess or buy or sell pot. That`s just
as much the law as these new state laws that say quite the opposite.
So, what`s going to happen here? Is it legal or not? Is it going to
be legal to buy and sell and smoke pot in Colorado and Washington, or is it
We are not the only ones asking this question. The people in charge
are asking the question, too. The governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper,
has indicated that he also has no idea how this is going to work. On
Election Day, he put out a state reminding Coloradans that under federal
law pot is still illegal, so Colorado residents should hold off on the
Cheetos and Goldfish for the time being.
In Washington state, the outgoing governor there, Chris Gregoire, met
with the federal deputy attorney general today to try to figure out how
this is going to be handled. This direct conflict between federal and
Meanwhile, prosecutors in the two largest counties in Washington state
have taken matters into their own hands. They have dropped hundreds of
cases of pot possession in that case. Hundreds of criminal cases have been
dropped. The King County prosecutor says there`s no point in continuing to
seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month. True
However, in the same state, out in the eastern part of Washington
state, in Spokane County, prosecutors there say they plan to keep arresting
people just as they do now for pot-related offenses. Their argument out in
Spokane is that the only legal way to get pot in Washington even after this
new state law goes into effect will be to buy that pot from a state-
regulated pot store. And those state-regulated pot stores don`t exist yet,
but they might soon be created if the federal government allows that to
happen and nobody knows that the government will allow them to happen.
This is policy soup, and I don`t mean that as a munchies joke. We`ve
all had enough of those. This just literally does not make any sense yet.
Joining us now for the interview is Neill Franklin. He`s the
executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He served in
Law enforcement for 30 years as a narcotics officer with the Maryland State
Police and is commander of training for the Baltimore Police Department.
Mr. Franklin, it`s very good to have you here tonight. Thanks for
NEILL FRANKLIN, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION: Rachel, thanks
for having me. What a great lead-in.
MADDOW: Let me ask you, first. You are more familiar with these laws
than I am. Did I get the contours of that right? Do you feel like the
comparison with alcohol prohibition is appropriate here?
FRANKLIN: Absolutely. It is appropriate. It was the states back in
1933 that ended alcohol prohibition. They were the ones that took the
initiative to move the federal government towards change.
MADDOW: You are a supporter, I know, of the decriminalization of
marijuana. With your background in law enforcement specifically working in
narcotics law enforcement, how did you -- how did you come to this
political point of view?
FRANKLIN: Well, it didn`t happen overnight, but there was one key
moment back in 2000, October. I had just retired from the Maryland State
Police the year before. I went to work for Baltimore Police Department as
a commander of training. And a good friend of mine and comrade, Ed
Toatley, was working undercover for the Maryland State Police. He was
assigned to an FBI task force in Washington, D.C., and he was buying drugs
from a mid-level drug dealer.
This time the drug dealer decided he wanted to keep the drugs and the
money, and he executed Ed Toatley right on the spot. He shot him in the
side of the head.
And that made me start to think, I thought back to Marcellus Ward, who
was working undercover for the Baltimore Police Department when he was back
in the `80s. He was killed in a similar manner.
A couple of officers were killed right on the street by drug dealers.
But then a couple years after, the Dawson family of seven right here in
Baltimore were murdered one night by a drug dealer who occupied the corner
right outside their home. The mother was working with the police being a
good citizen. He set their home on fire because he disagreed with her
interfering with her marketplace.
That was my turning point.
MADDOW: When you talk to people who disagree on this issue and when
you try to make the case for decriminalization, how do you explain why
incidents of violence like that, people that you know and worked with and
seen colleagues who have died in the line of fire in this war on drugs, how
do you make the case that decriminalization would get rid of that sort of
FRANKLIN: Well, let`s be clear -- not decriminalization, because all
that does is remove the criminal penalty from possession. You still would
have your elicit trade, the drug dealers on the street, the cartel in
Legalization with regulation and control is what we want to do. We
want to move -- remove this completely from the hands of criminal gangs and
the cartel. That will affect the violence. That`s when the violence goes
MADDOW: In terms of what`s been approved by voters in Colorado and
Washington state, it seems unclear to me now what`s going to happen in
these states, where state law is in opposition to federal law. How do you
think that law enforcement is going to handle this? And ultimately is this
a decision that`s made at the political level or at the law enforcement
FRANKLIN: Well, it`s made at both levels, and I think this is a win-
win for police. In Seattle, the police chief said they`re not going to
arrest people for possession of marijuana anymore, even though the law
doesn`t take effect until December. It`s a win-win because it has been
drug prohibition like with marijuana that has driven a wedge in between
police and community.
Number one, police can get back to the business that they want to do,
of what they want to do, and that is to protect people from violent people
-- rape, robbery, murder, crimes against our children, domestic violence.
We can get back to the business of that. We didn`t -- most of us didn`t
sign on this job to it arrest people for smoking pot.
It will repair -- it gives us an opportunity to repair the damage that
has been done between police and community. You know, racial profiling --
the foundation for racial profiling today in this country is the drug war.
And the drug war just doesn`t work anymore. There`s not one piece of it
We have more drugs in our community than ever before. It`s very
costly. Four decades, $1.3 trillion. Our prisons are bursting at the
seams, many with black and brown people. We need a change, and it`s time
for the president to lead on this one.
MADDOW: Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against
Prohibition, a three-decade long career in law enforcement -- sir, thank
you very much for your time tonight. You speak with uncommon authority on
this subject. Thank you.
FRANKLIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. I can`t help but wonder, what would J. Edgar
Hoover have done with the Petraeus file? Hold on. That`s coming.
MADDOWE: Hey, Arizona, anytime you want to finish counting ballots in
your Senate race, it`s fine with the rest of us. Don`t let us stop you.
Really. More ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Did you get your official results, Senator Flake? Is it
FLAKE: We`re comfortable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona, not Senator Jeff Flake,
not even yet Senator-elect Jeff Flake, awkwardly telling reporters today he
feels comfortable about the vote count in his Senate race in Arizona,
against Richard Carmona. That was at this morning`s less than comfortable
photo-op with Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell along with
two actually, totally, all the votes have been counted, entirely official
Republican freshmen senators-elect. There were two of them and then
there`s Jeff Flake.
That`s the problem with being from the state of Arizona these days, or
with being a voter from the state of Arizona these days. A full week after
Election Day now, and only 83 percent of the vote is tallied in Mr. Flake`s
Senate race against Democrat Richard Carmona. Yesterday, that number was
at 80 percent, meaning roughly 1:5 votes in that race still uncounted.
That led Mr. Carmona`s campaign yesterday to say maybe they had conceded
that Senate race too soon.
Arizona has been counting its ballots at a snail`s pace, working its
way through a mountain, hundreds of thousands of ballots, many of them
provisional ballots from first-time minority voters who showed up to vote
on Election Day, just to be told that even though they may have registered,
their names were not put on the books.
Well, today, officials in Pima and Cochise Counties in Arizona were
counting ballots in one of the few still, undecided congressional races in
the country, the race for Gabby Giffords` old seat between former Gifford
staffer Ron Barber and Republican Martha McSally -- only 700 votes separate
these two candidates. Who wins could depend on whether voters in a heavily
Latino precinct in that district get their ballots counted, and that now is
a matter for the courts.
The Republican campaign, the McSally campaign went to court today to
keep 130 provisional ballots from being counted. They want them thrown
out. They`re claiming the envelopes weren`t properly sealed, so the
ballots inside the envelopes were maybe tampered with. Ninety-six of those
130 ballots come from a heavily Latino precinct that leans strongly
Democratic. So, yes, they don`t want them counted.
Meanwhile, two more House races in Arizona that were not decided on
election night have been decided, both of them in favor of the Democrats.
Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema were both be going to Congress, both by
only a few thousand votes in Arizona House races.
Last night, the Arizona secretary of state announced that over 300,000
early and provisional ballots in Arizona still needed to be counted.
Tonight it`s still over 300,000. They`ve still got more than 320,000 still
And in one whole day of counting, they made 18,000 votes worth of
Voters in Arizona who cast provisional ballots have until the close of
business tomorrow, Wednesday, to return to your county elections office
with your ID to prove you`re a registered vote so your provisional voters
so your provisional ballot can be cast -- can be counted, excuse me.
County elections officials in Arizona have just until Friday, this Friday,
three days from now, they have until Friday to verify and count the
remaining provisional ballots, all 324,000 of them, by Friday.
And they`re counting them now at a rate of 18,000 a day. You guys are
going to need to pick up the pace a little bit if you`re going to meet the
deadline, aren`t you? Come on, Arizona, this is ridiculous. You need to
MADDOW: In 1942, the Federal Bureau of Investigation broke into the
offices of a group called the American Youth Congress. It`s 1942.
American Youth Congress was a progressive group at a time when that could
get you branded a communist and hauled before government officials to
At the time, the American Youth Congress was concerned with questions
like why young Americans were being drafted into war at age 18, even though
for every other legal thing in the country, people were not considered to
have full rights of citizenship until they turned 21.
When the FBI broke into their offices in 1942, they went looking for
correspondence that that group had had with one very specific notorious
anti-American revolutionary of the day, the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt,
who was known for being an advocate for youth and an advocate for
progressive causes, including the youth congress.
The demand for a report on first lady Eleanor Roosevelt`s dealings
with that group came directly from the director of the FBI, J. Edgar
One of the more notable examples of our top law enforcement agency in
this country is being used to gather potentially politically damaging,
potentially embarrassing, but hardly criminal information about public
figures. But it was not of course the last instance of that. Decades
later, we`re still wrestling with the legacy of J. Edgar Hoover and the
fiefdom that he made of the nation`s premiere law enforcement organization,
Mr. Hoover kept extensive files that he called official and
confidential files. There were secret documents that tracked the lives of
famous and powerful people, including details about those peoples` lives
that were not criminal but would have been embarrassing to those famous
people if they became known.
Mr. Hoover kept these special files in his office, out of the
mainstream of FBI business, away from the criminal investigations that were
supposed to be what the FBI was doing. He kept those secret files because
the secrets they contained gave him power. And as such, they were not
suited to any law enforcement purpose. They were suited to his own needs
and that`s called abuse of power.
We now know from those now released Hoover files, for example, that
Mr. Hoover wiretapped President John F. Kennedy. We know that he told
President Kennedy he was aware of an extramarital affair the president was
having, and then Mr. Hoover told the president which Chicago mobster Mr.
Kennedy`s mistress was also visiting.
As civil rights movement unfolded, J. Edgar Hoover wiretapped Martin
Luther King, Jr. We know that Mr. Hoover tracked Dr. King`s personal life,
including supposedly which day of the week he supposedly met with his
mistress. Apparently, it was Tuesdays.
In "The Secrets of the FBI", Ronald Kessler wrote that the agent duly
recorded that Robert Kennedy had gone to visit his suspected extramarital
sweetheart, Marilyn Monroe, shortly before she died.
And all these stories might pique the public`s interest. None of them
appears to have been criminal in nature. Each of them gave J. Edgar Hoover
power over these public people whose secrets he harvested. He used federal
law enforcement tactics and resources to gather personal and noncriminal
damning information on public people and then he lorded it over them to
advance his own causes.
Under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI became a freelance agency, sometimes
used against the president, but it was sometimes for hire by the president.
Like when the FBI tapped the phones of reporters that Richard Nixon didn`t
And sometimes the FBI was just used for the sake of J. Edgar Hoover`s
sad twisted little ends. When the FBI, yes, worked on crime, but under
Hoover the FBI worked on politics, too. The agency`s efforts in the latter
undermined everything the nation needed from the FBI on the former.
And that is why Congress ordered reforms for the FBI after Watergate,
investigating crime while also secretly playing politics is a combination
with a bad outcome. That`s one of the things we learned from the scandal
of the Nixon administration and its downfall, but also from decades
watching J. Edgar Hoover operate.
Last week, we learned that General David Petraeus, director of the
CIA, had an affair. And that the FBI discovered that affair over the
summer while it was looking into something else. Those revelations about
General Petraeus led to protest from members of Congress that they had not
been told sooner than last week, along with everyone else. They wanted to
be notified about this.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne
Feinstein, says the FBI should have told Congress. It`s bipartisan, the
ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee calls alerting
Congress in an issue -- in an instance like this the FBI`s obligation.
Lawmakers are sure to demand answers for why they were not told what
the FBI knew as soon as the FBI knew it. They`re sure to demand answers
about that later this week when White House officials are called to testify
about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi. We`re still wondering
whether or not David Petraeus will be called to testify about that, too,
despite what has happened and his resignation.
Those attacks were kind of thing, right? But the story about Petraeus
is quite another thing. One is a matter of national and international
importance, the other appears to be unfortunate end of a decorated military
career, the cratering of one guy`s family life, and maybe one woman`s
family life, too.
Mindful of the legacy of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI kept the
embarrassing personal details of David Petraeus` private life separate from
the question of whether he broke the law. That, of course -- I mean, we
are all human, right? We would all like to know about the affair Petraeus,
right? It has become the must-see soap opera of the national week now that
the election is over and before the new Congress begins.
It is way more gripping than the inaptly named fiscal cliff, right?
It`s apparently more riveting to the press than our legal long war in
Afghanistan or General Petraeus last served before the CIA.
From senators to members of Congress to little old me and probably
you, we would all like to know more about the Petraeus scandal in the
basis, most prurient possible sense. I wager not many of us, even those
hopping mad lawmakers, though, would want to go back to the days of J.
Edgar Hoover and the FBI uncovering personal peccadilloes and then using
them for its political game.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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