ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 8, 2013
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Emily Nottingham, Maya Wiley, Leah Gunn Barrett, Cass Sunstein
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Just moments ago, the president arrived back in
Washington from Connecticut aboard Air Force One. And aboard Air Force One
with him were a dozen regular people from Connecticut. Twelve still
grieving family members who lost a child or a spouse in the Newtown
massacre. Those 12 people found themselves flying to Washington aboard Air
Force One tonight because they are about to become congressional lobbyists
for the week.
In this moment, what`s happening right now with those Newtown family
members heading to Washington to lobby Congress, this is the tipping point
in the long-fought battle over gun safety. And here`s why:
Let`s be very clear about where we are on this issue. We are past
that initial period of debating what kind of gun safety legislation is on
the table. That`s over. We know what we could get done on this issue, and
we know the difference between real, meaningful gun safety legislation and
the kind of legislation that will essentially be a victory for the forces
of the gun power.
The terrain we`re fighting on is universal background checks, closing
the gaping loophole to the country`s current background check policies.
But we are not fighting on the politics of closing the background check
loophole because that is massively popular -- with 91 percent of Americans
supporting it, including 88 percent of gun-owning households and 88 percent
In other words, the background check issue has already been won
politically. And it has already been won on the merits. There is simply
no good, substantive argument against universal background checks. And if
you don`t believe me, check out the letter sent to Harry Reid by 13
senators who are threatening to filibuster it.
Quote, "The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens`
right to self-defense. We will oppose the motion to proceed to any
legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun
No one, so far as I`m aware, has ever argued or even pretended to
believe that they think background checks violate the Second Amendment. If
they think that, they should be filing suit against our current federally
mandated background checks.
Either background checks are unconstitutional or they`re not. But
whatever you think, closing a big loophole in those checks isn`t the thing
that tips the policy over from constitutional to unconstitutional.
In other words, this letter is hand waving and posturing. So the
Republicans have lost on the politics and they have lost on the merits.
And so, the last refuge of scoundrels in all of political life,
particularly in the era of Barack Obama`s presidency is, of course, the
filibuster. The filibuster is the thing you do when you know you have
losing arguments or you don`t have arguments at all, because what the
filibuster allows you to do is quietly and routinely and boringly kill a
piece of legislation without having to make an argument about why you`re
But the president of the United States understood to his credit from
the very beginning that this point we`re at right now in this fight was
exactly where we would end up. Right here where we are right now, this is
where the president started the fight. His target from the beginning was
not the actual legislation or its opponents, it was from the very beginning
the filibuster. It was getting an up or down vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to vote no,
that`s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the
two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations,
anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun, more
than a thousand.
They deserve a vote.
Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
The families of Oak Creek and Tucson and Blacksburg and the countless
other communities ripped open by gun violence, they deserve a simple vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The president reprised that argument tonight in a speech
delivered from Connecticut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea
that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these
reforms. Think about that.
They`re not just saying they`ll vote no on ideas that almost all
Americans support, they`re saying they`ll do everything they can to even
prevent any votes on these provisions. They`re saying your opinion doesn`t
And that`s not right. That is not right.
AUDIENCE: We want a vote!
OBAMA: We need a vote.
AUDIENCE: We want a vote! We want a vote!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The president has been fighting on this terrain all along.
But now political processes have caught up to him.
A filibuster threat is imminent. Since you cannot argue with a
filibuster, what you can do is you can shame people out of a filibuster.
You bare moral witness. You expose them for not having arguments.
You can fly to the Capitol mothers and fathers of children who are
gunned down in a mass shooting so they could spend anxious, sleepless
nights in a hotel and get up every day, and get in a cab, and go to the
metro, and go to Capitol Hill, and through the metal detectors, and head to
the offices of everyone who`s threatening to block a vote, to the offices
of Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee, and Jerry Moran, and Pat Roberts,
and Jim Inhofe, and Richard Burr, and Ron Johnson, and Mike Enzi, and Jim
Rich, and Mike Crapo, and Dan Coats, and Republican Minority Leader Mitch
So that those grieving family members can meet face to face with each
of those senators or their staff and take out of their purse or their
backpack a photo of their dead child and say to that senator staffer, tell
me why we cannot get a vote on this. Tell me your response is a procedural
mechanism of obstructionism. Tell me to my face that you will deny
These family members did a version of that kind of lobbying in
Connecticut last week when their state legislature was poised to pass gun
safety legislation and it was effective. The question is, is the
opposition in Washington even shamable?
Joining us from Hartford, Connecticut, is Emily Nottingham. Her son,
Gabe Zimmerman was an aid to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He
was one of six people killed when a gunman opened fire in a Tucson parking
With me here at the table: Maya Wiley, founder and president of the
Center for Social Inclusion. And Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
Emily, I want to begin with you because you were in that room and it
was so striking to watch the atmosphere of that room and feel how palpably
angry and passionate and loud that room was. What did it feel like to be
EMILY NOTTINGHAM, LOST SON IN TUCSON, AZ SHOOTING: It was very
emotional. You know, there`s so much support for gun safety legislation,
and I could feel the pride of the people from Connecticut about what
Connecticut did last week.
HAYES: There was an arc, I feel like, as I thought about the total
pin drop sound of grief when the president went to the school right after
the massacre to talk to the victims and the victims` families there and
what has turned into something from that place of grief to this place of
action that we are seeing embodied in the flight of these family members
flying down to D.C. today.
And you yourself have had that same trajectory.
NOTTINGHAM: That`s true. You know, you begin with grief, and that
grief doesn`t go away. But at some point you`re able to get off of the
couch and out of the house and ready to see what you can do to make a
difference for other mothers in the country.
HAYES: Leah, you too have had gun violence strike your life and
you`re an activist on this issue. And you have done the thing that we saw
a clip of in this amazing "60 Minutes" piece last night which I want to
play a bit of.
It is the surviving members of the victims going to lobby the
Connecticut state legislature and bearing that moral witness to them. I
want to play a clip and ask you how that`s been in your experience. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES" CBS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lawmakers are going into their caucuses to
discuss the legislation at hand. The rope is there just to separate the
various lobbyists who want to approach them as they go in there as a last-
ditch effort to appeal to their cause. That`s where we were.
We had a letter that we wanted them to read and we had pictures of our
children to give them a personal connection to why we were asking them to
go in there and legislate.
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: Why the photographs?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to not just look us in the eyes, but
look our children and the lost ones and see those faces, see what`s gone
and remember this isn`t just about political parties, this isn`t just about
careers, this is about people. And this is about making change to save
people. It`s important to remember the people that you are doing this for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You`ve been in the room having those kinds of conversations.
How do they go? Do they work? Is there a way that you can push people to
the right side of this legislation through this kind of testimonial?
LEAH GUNN BARRETT, NEW YORKERS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE: Unfortunately,
there isn`t. No, there isn`t. I remember being in Annapolis, Maryland, in
2003. You remember the sniper shootings in D.C.? The tenth victim was a
bus driver named Conrad Johnson. And his mother, Sonia Rose, was a very
brave woman who never lobbied before. We persuaded her to come to
Annapolis. We were trying to get an assault weapons ban passed because the
rifle used on those killings was a Bushmaster, the AR-15.
And she came -- on numerous occasions, she had to give up a day`s
work, give up her pay and come to sit in the legislative committee room
waiting to testify. And the chairman of the committee, I remember, a guy
named Joe Valerio (ph), kept her waiting. And he was a Democrat.
He kept her waiting for six hours one day until, you know, it was like
8:00 in the evening for her to testify -- which I thought was the height of
incivility and insensitivity and rudeness. I told him so.
And, of course, the assault weapons ban back in 2003 failed in the
Maryland legislature. It didn`t get out of committee, actually, it was one
So I`m really pleased to know that it actually passed this time around
many years later. But, no, I have been testifying before. I mean, I lost
my brother in 1997. He was murdered in Oklahoma when he was shot in the
head in his business one morning.
And I`ve used that story to try to bring home, you know, the personal
nature of gun violence. It`s not just the 20 little children killed in
Newtown, but it`s every single day, at least eight kids die, and many of
them in communities of color. And would America really pay much attention
if that classroom had been full of 20 African-American kids in the center
of Chicago? I don`t know.
I mean, that`s a terrible thing for me to have to say --
BARRETT: -- but I`m saying it.
And I think what we have to do is fight fire with fire. If these guys
in Congress who are so out of touch with the American people are going to
filibuster it, we`ll filibuster the filibuster. We`ll bring victims and
will stand on the steps of the Capitol and we will shame them, if they have
any shame, victims and other legislators. Because, you know, frankly, I`ve
been through this so many times it doesn`t change.
And the NRA, what they`re afraid of, I think they`re afraid of
universal background checks. This is going to cut down on gun sales.
MAYA WILEY, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: And that`s the real story, I
think, of why, one, the people who are victims sharing their stories are so
important. But you talked, Chris, about what this moment represents.
And I think one of the things it represents is it`s not just that
legislators are out of touch with the American public, it`s that they`re in
the pocket of actually corporate interests. So rather than looking at what
92 percent to 97 percent of Americans support, the National Rifle
Association has been getting anywhere from $15 million to $40 million by
some estimates not from gun owners.
WILEY: From manufacturers. So they`re actually not representing the
interests of gun owners.
BARRETT: You know what I think also. I think if congressmen had to
live in the gun-plagued areas of Washington, D.C., then they might change
their tune. They don`t. They live in a double.
I mean, you have to go through metal detectors to go to the Congress.
You can`t bring assault rifles into Congress. If they want assault rifles
on the streets of America, then why can`t we have them on the halls of
HAYES: And what I find so interesting about the approach the
president has taken on this is this asking for the simple up and down vote,
which seems to me like wielding a crowbar against the box, the vault of
obstruction that has been the filibuster which applies just past this
This is the thing that they have used to kill piece of legislation or
to challenge it or tweak it or to water it down. And in doing this, in
talking the way he`s talking about this, he is making it no longer routine,
right? He is highlighting the fact that there is something perverse and
abnormal and anomalous about in.
WILEY: And fundamentally not democratic. I mean, our democratic
process isn`t about whether I or any of us win on any particular issue that
we want but whether we`re actually having a collective discussion about how
we solve the problems, and that people be held accountable to their
positions on them. I mean, that`s what the vote --
HAYES: And have to vote on them.
WILEY: Have to vote on them because we know that come re-election
time, we get to examine their voting record.
BARRETT: And I hope that we will actually hold them accountable
because I`m not terribly optimistic that significant legislation is going
to pass this Congress. But we have to come back at them then and get them
out of office.
HAYES: Emily, are you prepared to sustain the kind of attention and
hold accountable in the future if this battle isn`t won, to make sure that
you`re still around and still going at legislators months and years into
NOTTINGHAM: Yes, I am. And I think it`s important to understand that
it`s not all about this upcoming vote. There`s so much riding on the
upcoming vote, but there will be future votes. And even though the NRA has
a lot of money, if there are enough people who support an issue, you still
have to get elected and you still have to be voted for.
At some point, our senators and our congressmen are going to have to
recognize that. We delivered 30,000 petitions that we collected in a week
last week to our two senators` offices and we`re prepared to continue to do
HAYES: The second part of this battle, I think, importantly are the
midterm, right? If they are allowed to get away here with this
obstruction, people -- the only way to make real political change is to
hold accountability moments in the midterms.
Mia Wiley, the Center for Social Inclusion, Leah Gunn Barrett and
Emily Nottingham, who is working with Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- great
pleasure to have you all. Thank you.
NOTTINGHAM: Thank you.
HAYES: Upon hearing the news of former British Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher`s death, right wing American Congressman Steve Stockman
declared the best way to honor Thatcher`s (ph) stature is to crush
liberalism and sweep it into the dust of history. I`ll explain why he`s
right and why Margaret Thatcher saw you sitting and watching this program
right now as the enemy, next.
HAYES: Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died today at 87 and
there is an understandable instinct to be charitable upon someone`s death.
The death of public figures is an incredibly important occasion to wrestle
with their legacy and the wrong message can be massively destructive.
The perception that someone`s legacy has consequences because it tends
to establish what the consensus position is, what we`ve all collectively
learned from the person`s life.
President Obama`s statement read in part, "The world has lost one of
the great champions of freedom and liberty. America has lost a true
friend. As a grocer`s daughter who rose to become Britain`s first female
prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no
glass ceiling that can`t be shattered."
Yet, according to a former adviser, Thatcher herself said, "The
feminists hate me, don`t they? And I don`t blame them for I hate feminism.
It is poison."
Now, if Thatcher was known for anything in her amazing career on the
world stage, it was pulling no punches. And out of deference to her
legacy, we should pull none of ourselves.
Here are some of the hallmarks of Margaret Thatcher`s 11-year tenure
as Britain`s prime minister. Thatcher initially opposed economic sanctions
against South Africa`s apartheid government. She referred to Nelson
Mandela`s African national congress as a, quote, "typical terrorist
When Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested for war crimes,
including the widespread capture, torture and murder of political
dissidents, she called for his release and he served house arrest in
On the domestic front, Thatcher`s victory ushered in policies that
lowered inflation but sent the unemployment rate past 10 percent for a
grinding measurable 5 1/2 years. As former London Mayor Ken Livingston put
it, "She decided when she wrote off our manufacturing industry that she
could live with 2 million or 3 million unemployed."
Even as the economy improved, it came with immediate and long-term
costs. Child poverty rose with nearly one-third of children living in
poverty by the time she left office. Thatcher`s tax policy shifted the
burden from the wealthy to those at the bottom, reaching its most audacious
peak with a 1990 poll tax which was so severe on the poor to the benefit of
the wealthy, there were widespread riots, which were placed within a year
after Thatcher`s resignation.
Recent documents show Thatcher was scheming to privatize the National
Health Service, which was a beloved and popular institution that has
provided universal health care for Brits regardless of means or class since
the end of World War II and may well be one of the great hall marks of
Western social democracy.
In the face of popular opposition, she retreated from plans to
privatize the water industry and National Health Service, replaced college
grants from the student loan program, cut back pensions, and revamped the
Social Security system.
Thatcher supported section 28 which said local authorities shall not
promote the teaching in any maintained school the acceptability of
homosexuality, as it pretended family relationship.
Thatcher is often talked about in conjunction with President Ronald
Reagan as the conservative fairy tale goes because they both came into
office during periods of malaise caused by leftist overreach and they both
absolutely eviscerated their left opposition and permanently altered the
trajectory of politics in their countries.
Thatcher once said, "There is no such thing as society. There are
individual men and women, there are families. No government can do
anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first."
David Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners Association who
were resolutely crushed by Thatcher in a series of dramatic and at times
violent strikes said, she destroyed our community, our villages and our
people. She absolutely hated working people and I`ve got very bitter
memories of what she did.
We live now still today on the Reagan-Thatcher access, their legacies
reaching forward through the years this their shared contempt for
egalitarianism, they both bequests massive inequality.
Today, decades after they left office, if you compare inequality
across industrialized nations, England and the U.S. are at the top, also
sharing the least amount of social mobility.
This is the society that Thatcher and Reagan gave us -- societies of
shrinking middle classes and tremendously high levels of inequality. If
you do not like that vision, you have little occasion to celebrate Margaret
Joining me at the table, Cass Sunstein, former White House
administrator and author of "Simpler: The Future of Government", and Martin
Bashir, host of MSNBC`s "MARTIN BASHIR", weekdays at 4:00 p.m.
It`s a great pleasure to have you both here.
Cass, I`ll begin with you. I have now given a rip-roaring leftist
attack on Margaret Thatcher. Partly, I think, as a useful corrective to
the quite understandable desire to speak graciously, and I obviously wish
her family no ill and it`s sad when people pass.
Is there anything salvageable for liberals, for people who ascribe to
the left about the Thatcher legacy? Or as I just intimated, it`s all
essentially our enemy?
CASS SUNSTEIN, AUTHOR, "SIMPLER": Well, one of the most serious
environmental problems of the last 40 or 50 years, maybe more, is the
destruction of the ozone layer. That was something where a lot of
conservatives in the United States in the `80s were ridiculing, saying it
wasn`t a problem, the world shouldn`t do anything about it.
There were two big heroes of largely successful efforts to protect the
ozone layer, which causes skin cancer and threatens really very serious
health risks. One was Margaret Thatcher, who gave an extremely powerful
speech testifying to the urgency of protecting against that environmental
threat. Another hero, by the way, was Ronald Reagan, not known as the
environmental president, but who worked very closely with Margaret Thatcher
to try to protect against that environmental risk.
HAYES: The role of government, there`s a story about how the role of
government has been viewed in particularly the U.S. and England, but
broadly in the Western world about the Thatcher-Reagan era as this useful
corrective to the overreach of labor or overreach of --
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Overspend.
HAYES: You lived through that.
BASHIR: I did. I did.
HAYES: You were there. Does that square with the reality?
BASHIR: No. I think that when Margaret Thatcher was elected prime
minister in 1979, there were a series of global forces that had produced an
economic malaise. Some of those were domestic and caused by British
unions. And remember, this was a nation that had staggered out of empire
and out of the Second World War. These were major seismic changes to the
culture of a nation.
As a result of that, she ushered in things like privatization,
denationalization of industries. But underneath it all was the elevation
of selfishness which became the predominant political domestic dogma.
And the consequence was felt by very many people, like my own family,
because I had a brother who had severe muscular dystrophy and we were
reliant on certain support mechanisms from the government. But within
three years of her election, many of those support stems began to be
cutaway. And so, that was just one personal anecdote, but that was the
feeling across the country.
And as her confidence grew, she took on the miners, then she took on
the print unions, and she saw an improving economy after the first five
years when things were difficult. She -- that added wind to her sails so
it didn`t stop. It continued. And what we then had was her so-called big
bang in 1986 when she totally deregulated the financial markets.
HAYES: I want to hold your thought there because you have just come
from four years of being one of the chief regulators in the Obama White
House and I want to talk about that regulatory legacy. And also about what
the fight over the size of government does and doesn`t say, because I think
if you scratch the Thatcher legacy, you learn something very, very
interesting about what the fights between the left and right both here and
in Britain are really about, right after this.
HAYES: Martin just talked about deregulation, particularly in the
financial sector, the unleashing of the city of London, which has become a
world financial center. And part of the Reagan-Thatcher access is this
legacy of deregulation, right? An idea that -- and this is something that
Carter even started in the late `70s. Economies were too regulated, they
had to be deregulated and there`s an argument to be made that the -- we
reaped the rewards of that in the great crash, right, in 2007.
As someone who has been doing the daily work of regulation, how to you
see that trajectory?
SUNSTEIN: Well, I think the idea that there`s regulation and some
people love it and there`s deregulation and other people love that, that`s
a disservice to the real issues we face. And I think the best part of
Reaganism, which really has some continuity across Democratic
administrations too, and it`s consistent with Margaret Thatcher`s thinking,
was we want to pay very careful attention to costs and benefits.
We don`t want to cheer at regulation and -- or cheer at deregulation
and just have our citizens be in some sort of fistfight. We instead want
to look very carefully at consequences. And Reagan`s great idea about
regulation was to get really as empirical as possible. Now, it`s not
necessarily the case that he or Margaret Thatcher delivered fully on that
promise, but it`s a great aspiration.
HAYES: But wait a second. It`s the regulated industries who want
that. Let`s just be clear. It is -- the evaluation of costs and benefits,
right, becomes a means, an obstacle for imposing regulations.
SUNSTEIN: Not so. The Obama administration issued a lot of
regulations, nearly 2,000 while I was the administrator of the Office of
Inflation and Regulatory Affairs. The Bush administration actually issued
more than 2,000. Under the Obama administration, the net benefits of rules
have been over 91 billion dollars. And a lot of that is not deregulatory
savings for companies. The bulk of it includes lives saved.
HAYES: Health benefits.
SUNSTEIN: Health benefits. So cost benefit analysis helped Reagan
get rid of lead in gasoline. And that was because the health benefits of
getting rid of lead in gasoline just way outweighed the costs.
BASHIR: I`m interested that you say that Reagan`s analysis is
empirical. Does that suggest that he did the analysis before he executed
the strategy? Because in Thatcher`s case, she did not.
HAYES: It was an ideological --
BASHIR: Absolutely, from the outset.
SUNSTEIN: What I want to say is the aspiration of the Reagan
framework, taken most sympathetically, was evidence-based. And I wouldn`t
want to say that everything that was done in any administration, certainly
President Reagan`s or Prime Minister Thatcher`s was evidence based. But
Larouch Loucaux (ph), French theorist, said that hypocrisy is the tribute
vice pays to virtue. And if we look at evidence as our guiding star, at
least we know what virtue is.
HAYES: Martin, Bruce Bartlett wrote this piece a few years back where
he looked at taxes and spending under Margaret Thatcher. And you don`t see
a shrinking government in that respect. You see selling things off to the
HAYES: You see deregulation. What does that say to you about what
was the real battle there? Was it about bigger or smaller government? Or
was it about what the government does and who it serves?
BASHIR: Well, I think there was a chronological link. So it wasn`t
just ideological small and big. It was also that she wanted to define
herself and her leadership as very different and in contrast to what had
preceded her. And that involved a lot of things that the government owned,
like transportation and railway services, public utilities. And she found
those to be, in her view, malfunctioning and not delivering.
And so what she did was she said, well, actually what we need to do is
have things that function, and she believed that they would function very,
very well if they were deregulated and denationalized. One of the
interesting things, the great academic who passed away a couple of years
ago, Tony Jott (ph), wrote a brilliant book on post-war Britain, a former
NYU professor and a brilliant man. And he actually did a whole analysis of
the British railway system and showed that its inefficiencies and its costs
are now worse than they were --
HAYES: Yes, exactly.
BASHIR: -- as a nationalized industry.
HAYES: And we have seen privatization as a cure for many things that
often does not deliver, even when it`s moving off of is in fact --
BASHIR: But, Chris, one of the things that was most angering to
British people was to see individuals making huge sums of money as a
consequence of taking the national silver and then delivering a service
that was actually mediocre compared to what it was when it was owned by the
HAYES: To quote someone, that`s the cost that vice pays to virtue.
Cass Sunstein, the author of "Simpler, the Future of Government," and
MSNBC`s Martin Bashir, that was great. Thank you.
BASHIR: Thank you.
HAYES: We`ll be right back with click three.
HAYES: The son-in-law of Osama bin Laden appeared in a New York City
courtroom today and most people didn`t even know about it. I`ll tell you
why the very silence on this story is a huge breakthrough. That`s coming
But first, I want to share the three awesomest things on the Internet
today. Turner fan Jack Murphy pointed us to the video of injured Chicago
Bulls Point Guard Derrick Rose, writing, "D. Rose dunking before Sunday`s
game. This feels very important to me." And you`re right. Derrick Rose
has been sidelined with a torn ACL for almost a year. Yet to the great
delight of David Axelrod, yours truly and Bulls fans everywhere, here he is
in practice before yesterday`s game against the Detroit Pistons.
Rose says he won`t return until he`s fully ready. But judging by this
video, that might be very, very soon.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, an amazingly
detailed map -- I love this -- from the web comic SKD. The creator smashed
together the transit systems of North American cities into one big crazy
interconnected map, linking them in geographically impossible ways.
Boston`s red line turns into New York`s one train, turns into a fictitious
Puerto Rican submarine to San Juan. Depending on how you feel about your
morning commute, this is either your hell on Earth, or as the blog IO9 puts
it, straight up infrastructure porn. I`m the latter category.
And the third awesomest thing on the Internet today, a hash tag that
led many fans of human supernova share to suffer a few moments of confusion
and panic. Here`s how it started. The creators of a satirical yet
decidedly uncharitable website called "Is Thatcher Dead Yet" have been
anticipating the former prime minister`s death for some time now. To mark
her passing earlier today, they started the hash tag #NowThatchersDead.
That hash tag prompted some Twitter users to enter a confused state,
because they read it as "now that Cher is dead."
To clarify, Cher is alive and well and still totally awesome. But the
mixup seemed to cause temporary anguish by some fans, as chronicled by
multimedia outlets, from "the Wall Street Journal`s" "Margaret Thatcher
Hash Tag Confuses Cher Fans," to Buzzfeed`s "Cher is not dead, you guys."
Now, a semi in-depth investigation into several of those Tweets posted
by alleged Cher fans in mourning caused a few journalistic alarm bells to
go off. It seems that maybe, possibly, quite probably some of these fans
knew Cher was still alive but were having fun with the hash tag.
See if you can separate those genuinely bereft over those news from
those just trolling for reaction. "RIP, Cher, just saw the hash tag.
Never was a fan myself, but you`ve got to respect her influence." "RIP,
Cher, I only wish we could turn back time. And do you believe in life
after Cher? I don`t. RIP Cher."
You can find all the links for tonight`s Click Three on our website,
AllInWithChris.com. Submit your Click Three nominees on Twitter using the
hash tag #Click3. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Today, in a very heavy news day, one of the most seismic and
significant events went almost entirely unnoticed. I am talking about the
appearance of Suleiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and
one-time spokesperson of al Qaeda, in a federal court this afternoon in
Manhattan. Ghaith was detained in Turkey earlier this year and came by way
of Jordan to the United States, where he has been charged with conspiring
to kill Americans.
Now, if you had been listening to the right wing noise machine for the
past several years, Ghaith`s very appearance in a New York court today
should have been a cataclysmic event. And yet it was entirely routine.
The hearing today was so remarkable because of the sheer underwhelmingness
of it, because none of the doom`s day scenarios happened, because hardly
anyone even noticed it was even taking place.
Today was also a sign of the Obama administration`s open defiance of
the incredible right wing backlash they faced in response to their
eventually reverse decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City,
a dream beat that sounded something like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: This is a very dangerous
decision and an irresponsible one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Civilian courts are not the way to try these
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It`s obvious the 9/11 trials aren`t
going to be here in New York.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: What we need to do is deny
these people a show trial.
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: This is a continuation of a long-
standing plot by a bunch of left wing lawyers who do not love America, who
want to undermine our cause in the global war on terror.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs to go back into military custody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`ll be a rock star in the prison system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Fog risking a whole new round of that, this administration
deserves support and applause, and to know that liberals who stand for the
rule of law have their back if and when the right decides to throw a fit
about following the Constitution. But unfortunately cases like Abu Ghaith
are not the norm. Right now, there are three ways that this administration
deals with people it suspects of being terrorists.
There`s what they did with Abu Ghaith. There`s the sprawling, secret,
massively deadly program of targeted killing, which is the subject of a
"New York Times" blockbuster this weekend. And then, of course, there is
the continued ugly spectacle of Guantanamo and the prolonged legal limbo it
So today, in the hours after a routine moment of simple Constitutional
due process, the outstanding question is what the trial of Abu Ghaith
signals? A turn away from drones and island cages towards the rule of law,
or simply an anomaly in the administration`s brutal war on terror?
Joining me from "Washington D.C.," Jen Daskal, a fellow at Georgetown
University`s Center on National Security and Law. Here at the table, I`m
joined by Congressman Jared Polis, Democrat from Colorado, and Pardiss
Kebraei, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. It`s
great to have you all here.
Pardiss, you just got back from Guantanamo. And we`ve been hearing
increasingly worrying reports about a spread of a hunger strike there, and
deteriorating conditions. And having just been there and having talked
today about where this administration is headed on these rule of law
questions, what can you tell us about what`s going on there?
PARDISS KEBRAEI, CTR. FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Chris, thank you for
having me. Right now at Guantanamo, in the year 2013, there are 166 people
who are still detained. They have been detained without charge -- most of
them have been detained without charge for over 11 years. The Obama
administration has cleared more than half of those men for transfer. So
there is --
HAYES: Meaning we are OK with letting them go. We do not think they
are a threat to us.
KEBRAEI: The Obama administration has determined that those people,
86 of the 166 do not present a security threat to the United States and can
leave. So there has been an ongoing emergency at Guantanamo for a long
time. But there is a current crisis right now. And that is a hunger
strike that most of the men at Guantanamo are participating in.
It began two months ago. It`s over 60 days old. When I was at the
camp last week, I met with a few men who I represent. I sat across from
them. They have lost 30 to 40 pounds. They are weak. They told me of men
in the prison who are skeletal, barely moving, near death, losing
consciousness, coughing up blood. When men -- the way that the authorities
are dealing with those people right now is when they are passing out,
because their blood glucose levels are so low, they`re being transferred
from the communal camp at Guantanamo, which is Camp 6, to a solitary
confinement facility, and I should note modeled on solitary confinement
facilities in the United States, transferred there for observation. And
that`s when force feeding begins.
And that`s how we`re saving life at Guantanamo right now.
HAYES: OK. Congressman, I have to ask you, sitting here listening to
this, Congress seems to me to have totally abandoned the field on this.
They rose up in revolt of the idea of transferring prisoners out of
Guantanamo, and have essentially stipulated in appropriations riders that
you cannot use federal money to transfer prisoners from there. What is
your reaction hearing this deteriorating situation, hearing more than half
who have been cleared for release? As a member of the United States
Congress, what are we doing?
REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: First of all, I`m a member of
Congress that voted against all of those riders and have always been very
open to bringing those who do need to face charges here, including to my
home state of Colorado, where we have a supermax facility in Florence,
which has been -- housed prior terror suspects. Unfortunately, the
majority of Congress did feel a different way, did add those riders.
Look, I think with this new framing of the issues, in terms of the new
restrictions and many of the people in Guantanamo not even being able to
visit in person with their attorneys because of a moratorium on flying, we
need to look at this as well as a fiscal issue; 150 million dollars a year
is the cost to U.S Taxpayers of having a facility in Guantanamo. It would
be one 30th the cost to house those who need to face charges here in the
United States in a supermax facility.
So I think it`s a clear-cut case of being good custodians of tax
money, even for those who don`t seem to care about the constitutional --
HAYES: Can you make that argument -- can you actually make that
argument to Republicans that this is on austerity grounds? Is that going
to get anywhere?
POLIS: You know, it hasn`t done it on Constitutional grounds. We`re
at a point where they`re looking like cutbacks would have to be made in
other areas that they want to restore, military budget cuts. Here`s an
easy way to find 150 million dollars in savings.
HAYES: Jen, you worked in the Obama administration. You wrote this
op-ed in "the New York Times" that really made me sit up and notice, and a
lot of people, that you had been opposed to Guantanamo and its existence
and continued existence. You said "now almost four years later, I have
changed my mind, despite recognizing the many policy imperatives in favor
of closure, despite the bipartisan support for this position, despite the
fact that 166 men still languish there, I now believe that Guantanamo
should stay open, at least for the short time. While I`ve been slow to
come to this realization, the signs have been evident for some time."
As someone who now supports keeping it open, what do you -- what goes
through your mind when you hear Pardiss describe the conditions there?
JEN DASKAL, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: So I just want to be clear about
my position. I don`t think that Guantanamo ought to stay open for the long
term. What I was responding to is my fear that the bumper sticker of
"close Guantanamo" was missing some of the broader underlying issues, which
is the questions about when does this conflict end. And until we answer
that question, there is this -- there`s two -- three categories of
detainees at Guantanamo.
There`s the 86 who have been either cleared for transfer or
conditional transfer, who essentially languish there due to a combination
of Congressional restrictions and an administration who`s kind of given up
on transferring some of these detainees out.
HAYES: And also, we should say, home country refusal to take them.
That`s another big part of this discussion.
DASKAL: Absolutely, absolutely. And then there`s this other category
of 46 detainees who this administration, just like the past administration,
has concluded can`t be prosecuted and are too dangerous to release. The
justification for detaining them is pursuant to the laws of war, so long as
there is a conflict going on. And my point in that op-ed was that we need
to start -- if we`re serious about closing Guantanamo, we need to start
thinking about when does this conflict end? When does the underlying
justification for these detentions end?
POLIS: Here`s the problem with that. Which conflict are we talking
about? Are we talking about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden? Osama bin Laden
has been killed. Al Qaeda is in disarray.
Are we talking about new conflicts like Syria? I mean, there`s always
going to be a conflict. I think we have to have a realistic plan.
President Obama needs to appoint a new special envoy to replace David
Fried. We currently have no plan, no direction. I think we can both agree
on that, that need to have a clear pathway to do it. And if that doesn`t
mean it`s in 24 hours from now, there needs to be a clear pathway to do
this over the coming weeks and months.
KEBRAEI: I want to jump in here.
HAYES: Yes, please.
KEBRAEI: I think that in 24 hours from now, there actually could be
transfers that resume.
HAYES: I want you to hold that thought because when we talk about
Guantanamo, it seems like a just solutionless desert of misery. And if
there`s something that we can do concretely to move forward, I want to hear
about that right after we take this break.
HAYES: Pardiss Kebraei, you represent detainees at Guantanamo where
there is a burgeoning -- a widening hunger strike. You were, before we
went to break, going to give us the solution to the intractable problem
that is Guantanamo.
KEBRAEI: You know, the solution is what President Obama said four
years ago. He committed four years ago on his second day in office to
close the prison. We`re four years from that .of the problem is a lack of
political will. There are restrictions in Congress that make it more
difficult, but those are not insurmountable restrictions.
Congress has tied maybe one hand behind President Obama`s back, but
there`s another hand free that can start signaling that transfers are a
priority, that closure of Guantanamo --
HAYES: How does he do that?
KEBRAEI: He starts with transferring the people that everyone agrees
do not belong at Guantanamo. There is a client we have right now, Jemel
Amezzi (ph), and he`s an Algerian. There are -- he needs resettlement.
There are countries in Europe ready to take him. The problem here is the
administration. It is not that he doesn`t have anywhere to go. It`s not
that he hasn`t been cleared. It`s there is no political will to move him.
There have been no transfers at all for two years. So the problem is
really a lack of political will. There is no -- and the administration is
doing exactly what it shouldn`t be doing.
HAYES: Do you agree with that, Jen? Do you think it`s a political
DASKAL: I think it`s in part a political will. I think that one --
two things; one, we should be clear, this administration has committed not
to send any other new detainees to Guantanamo. And Abu Ghaith is exactly
what the administration is doing when it gets its hands on detainees, and
absolutely what should be done in the future. There`s been close to 500
terrorism prosecutions since September 11th, including approximately 67
detainees who were captured overseas and brought to the United States to
stand trial. And that should be the model going forward.
There is clearly a political will problem and it`s a political will
that -- and both Congress bears responsibility, the administration bears
responsibility. And part of it is just a real fear of risk, a real fear of
really transferring a detainee who someday does some harm. And that`s this
case dependency legacy problem that we have with Guantanamo that`s really
hard to resolve.
HAYES: Congressman, you have to stand for re-election. You vote
against the -- you vote to close Guantanamo and you vote against the
riders, and we release someone into Europe and then he smuggles across the
border somewhere and we find him plotting again, and that shows up in your
POLIS: What the president should know is that not only do many of us
in Congress have his back should he choose to fulfill his campaign promise
of closing Guantanamo, but many of us will be cheering. This is an
unconstitutional operation --
HAYES: You don`t fear that politically? You genuinely don`t fear
that politically? Is that just the nature of the district you`re in?
POLIS: If people that have committed crimes, they need to be
prosecuted. And we`ve talked about absolutely not everybody from
Guantanamo will be released, nor should they be released. And we may
disagree about some of that as well. If people need to be brought up on
charges, they need to be penalized. They need to be held in high security
facilities, some of them perhaps for the rest of their lives.
They need to face a court of law. Everybody deserves that. Our
society deserves an accountability for that, to see what crimes were
committed and how people should be held accountable.
KEBRAEI: I just want to say that fear is based on a fundamental
misunderstanding of who we have held at Guantanamo. The people who are
there, who were there were mostly running from the fight. They were people
who were sold into U.S. custody for bounty. Right now, the 166 -- again,
more than half have been cleared for transfer by every government agency
with a stake in Guantanamo. These people have determined unanimously that
more than half of the current population does not need to be there.
I also have to say, I think the representative and I are on the same
side of closing Guantanamo. I do not think the answer, after 11.5 years is
to shuttle people to supermax facilities here and to hold them in solitary
confinement for 22 to 24 hours a day. So that isn`t -- that isn`t
efficient. It`s not cost effect. It`s not humane. And that`s not the
solution. The solution is to start with a plan, start with appointing
someone in the administration to lead this effort forward, and to close the
prison in the right way, in a humane way. And that doesn`t mean just
shuttle people here.
HAYES: It sounds to me like this one -- that a transfer of someone
who has been cleared for release for you is a small low-hanging fruit
KEBRAEI: That is the -- that is who everyone agrees --
HAYES: What`s your client`s name?
KEBRAEI: Sabri Mohammed (ph), Jemel Amezzian (ph), men I met with
last week. They were cleared years ago. And years later, they`re still
HAYES: Jen Daskal, the Center for National Security and Law,
Congressman Jared Polis and Pardiss Kebraei of the Center for
Constitutional Rights, thank you all. That was great.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chris. Extra smart show
this evening, well done.
HAYES: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for
the next hour. Late today, President Obama was at the university of
Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut.
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