THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
May 7, 2013
Guests: Jennifer Ciaccia, Todd Clear, Claire McCaskill
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
There`s a lot going in the news today.
The Dow Jones closed today in the highest closing ever. It closed
above 15,000 for the first time in history. So, hooray for the stock
It doesn`t mean much except the stock market itself is doing well.
But, still, it is doing very, very well -- historically well.
In North Korea today, we learned that some of their long-range
missiles, that they had been put up, they had put up on launch-ready
status, those long range missiles have been taken down from launch-ready
So, who knows what`s going to happen next in North Korea? We never
do. These missiles coming down, that seems like a good thing.
And that comes just ahead of President Obama hosting the South Korea
Korean president at the White House tomorrow.
In Mississippi tonight, an execution was called off at the very last
minute. The Mississippi support intervening and issuing a stay just hours
before the man you see on your screen here, William Manning, just hours
before he was scheduled to be killed. His case attracted national
attention when the state refused to allow DNA testing that Mr. Manning`s
lawyer said could exonerate him from which the crimes he was convicted.
The FBI now also says there were analysis errors made in handling the
evidence in his case. But as of tonight, his execution has been stayed.
In Washington, D.C. today, a big decision involving the clandestine
service of the CIA. And that`s the part of the CIA that you`re thinking of
when you think about what it might be like to be a spy. That`s the part
that handles espionage and covert action, all the secret stuff.
One of the leading candidates to run the clandestine service under the
new director, John Brennan, is an officer who ran one of the Bush era black
site prisons in Thailand, where the CIA tortured people. She was also
reportedly involved in the decision to erase videotapes of those torture
Well, today the CIA announced that officer did not get the job of
running the clandestine service. Somebody else will be in charge of our
nation`s spies, can`t say who. It`s secret. But we know it`s not her.
Also, Chris Christie got secret bariatric surgery to lose weight a
couple of months ago. We had no idea, but we found today. Good for you,
sir. Good luck to you.
If you are a person who closely follows crime stories in the news,
stories of criminal mayhem and crime, I have to tell you, this has also
been a particularly rich news cycle for you. Here in New York City, for
example, a handcuffed violent robbery suspect somehow yesterday got away
from police officers who had him in custody. The suspect left from their
grasp, jumped out of the shoes wearing handcuffs behind his back, he fled
shoeless into the subway, in Harlem.
They shut down four subway lines. They just cut all the power for
more than two hours in the subway. Thousands of passengers stranded,
including hundreds of people stuck in a train, in a tunnel between
stations. Hundreds of police officers and police dogs hunting through the
tunnels, looking for this handcuffed fugitive. Took them five hours but
did finally get the guy.
In Minnesota yesterday, federal authorities say they are confident
they foiled a planned terrorist attack when they arrested a white
supremacist, self-style militia men who stockpiled more than a dozen bombs,
including some bombs described as sophisticated pipe bombs, some bombs
packed with nails and other kinds of shrapnel like the Boston marathon
bombs were. Local authorities they do not believe the general public was
at risk from the sky but federal authorities are citing the stated plans to
attack local police targets in the western part of the state, western part
of Minnesota where he lived.
In case that`s not enough for you, in Virginia yesterday, this
charming mug shot tells at least part of the story of the arrest of the
lieutenant colonel who heads up the U.S. Air Force`s sexual assault
prevention efforts. He was arrested for alleged attempted sexual assault.
That earned a response from the president of the United States today which
was kind of astonishing and we will get to a little later on in the show.
But in terms of the sheer narrative drama of the story, the story out
of Cleveland, Ohio, in the last 24 hours, these young women, these three
women who freed themselves in Cleveland after ten years in captivity, this
story is almost impossible to believe. Two of them disappeared when they
were teenagers. Another just turned 21 when she went missing from the same
part of Cleveland. They went missing and they stayed missing year after
year after year.
But yesterday, just before 6:00 p.m., one of those young women managed
to break free, free enough to reach through the door of this Cleveland
house and wave to the neighbors trying to get somebody`s attention calling,
"Help me, help me." The neighbor who responded and helped free her became
an instant American hero, at least for today -- in part because of what he
did, but in part because of the way he explained what he did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES RAMSEY, NEIGHBOR: I hear her screaming, I`m eating my
McDonald`s, and I come outside and see this girl going nuts trying to get
out of the house.
So, I go on the porch, I go on the porch, and she says, "Help me get
out. I`ve been in here a long time." So, you know, I figured it`s a
domestic violence dispute. So, I open the door and we can`t get in that
way because how the door is, it`s so much that my body can`t fit, only your
So we kicked the bottom and she comes out with a little girl and she
says, "Call 911. My name is Amanda Berry."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Amanda Berry had been missing for a decade since the day
before she turned 17. She`s been missing long enough for her name for many
people to be a distant memory in her hometown. Once she got out to the
street yesterday afternoon, a neighbor gave her a phone and she was the one
who called 911 herself.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
AMANDA BERRY, KIDNAP VICTIM: Help me, I`m Amanda Berry.
DISPATCHER: You need police, fire, ambulance?
BERRY: I need police.
DISPATCHER: OK, and what`s going on there?
BERRY: I`ve been kidnapped and I`ve been missing for 10 years, and
I`m -- I`m here, I`m free now.
BERRY: I`m across the street; I`m using the phone.
DISPATCHER: OK, stay there with those neighbors. Talk to police when
they get there.
DISPATCHER: OK, talk to police when they get there.
BERRY: OK. Hello?
DISPATCHER: Yes, talk to the police when they get there.
DISPATCHER: We`re going to send them as soon as we get a car open.
BERRY: No, I need them now before he gets back.
DISPATCHER: All right; we`re sending them, OK?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: As you can tell from that call, Amanda Berry knew that people
were looking for her. She told the emergency dispatcher she`d been on the
news for the past 10 years.
But the neighbors of the house say they never saw the women or the
child, as well. The place was usually kept dark. The said the shades over
the windows, and one window boarded up, they do remember seeing sometimes a
porch light on.
They also remember the time when they heard pounding on the doors.
Another time they said they saw a naked woman crawling in the backyard.
The neighbors said that when those things happened, police officers
responded, but did not go into the house.
Now, Cleveland police have arrested three brothers in the case. The
man on the left allegedly ran from the house after the first woman broke
through to freedom. Police caught him at the local McDonald`s.
What has happened in Cleveland over the last day and a half is so
plainly amazing. We almost do not have words for it on TV. Part of the
reason the story is so transfixing is because this kind of thing so rarely
happens. Kidnappings by force, kidnappings by force, by strangers were
exceedingly rare in this country. And when they happen, if they are not
quickly solved, then they are seldom solved.
The three young women in this case, all disappeared from the west side
of Cleveland all within a three-year span. And yet one of the women who
was found yesterday appears not to have been treated as a potential kidnap
victim while she was missing.
Her mother tells "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" that police thought the
young woman just left home on her own terms after being upset because she
lost custody of a child she conceived while she was in high school.
According to the girl`s mother, police did not conduct much of an
investigation. She ended up posting flyers asking about her daughter doing
what she could do to search for her on her own.
It turns out also strangely that a fourth girl also went missing from
the same part of west Cleveland a few years ago when she was 14. This girl
clearly was viewed as missing and potentially kidnapped, according to the
way the FBI described her case, but she was not found in that house
yesterday, even as the young woman who hadn`t been considered a potential
kidnapping victim was found there.
At first police thought that the fourth young woman had too run away,
but when investigators began to think she was kidnapped instead, she ended
up getting featured with the other missing girls, for example, in a segment
on Oprah. Investigators are wondering if this fourth disappeared girl
might be connected to this other case now.
At a Cleveland police training a few years back, one instructor
suggested that that fourth girl still unaccounted for might be part of a
pattern in this case. What do they have in common he asked about these
missing girls, they`re all attractive, they`re all between the ages of 14
and 17, and they are all gone.
Tonight, the three women who were rescued have been reunited with
family and with friends who had every reason to give up hope. One of their
friends told a reporter today, quote, "They don`t find people who go
missing, you know. I am at a loss of words."
Joining us now is Detective Jennifer Ciaccia of the Cleveland Police
Detective Ciaccia, thank you very much for talking with us tonight.
Appreciate you being here.
DET. JENNIFER CIACCIA, CLEVELAND POLICE: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Are there new developments that you can share with us tonight
in terms of what we know about the circumstances of these young women`s
captivity or the men who have been arrested in this case?
CIACCIA: Well, we will know more at a later time. The FBI is in
complete partnership with the Cleveland division of police, and they`re
actually on scene now with their evidence response team for this area. The
FBI has full control of the scene both the outside and the inside of the
house, and they will be maintaining the gathering and collection of
MADDOW: We know that these reports are that Cleveland police
supposedly visited the house a few times in the past several years on a
number of different types of calls. But they never went inside.
Can you tell us anything more about those visits from Cleveland police
officers? What precipitated those visits? And what the outcome was?
CIACCIA: Yes, I can actually tell you that in 2000 and 2004, the
division of police received calls to respond to the home on Seymour. The
first call in 2000 was for the suspect, Mr. Castro, calling to report a
fight in the street.
And the second call in 2004 was actually in relation to an incident he
had concerning him leaving, possibly leaving a child unattended on a school
bus. He was not charged in that crime, however, after a thorough
investigation and search of our call-ins take system, those are the only
two calls we show to this home.
So, any other information people may have if you feel that needs to be
reported to police, we would ask that you still come forward. Our
strongest partnership is with the community. So if you see something, say
something, we need to know it. If you have information to provide, we`d
love to hear from you. You can contact the Cleveland division of police or
the FBI in this case.
MADDOW: Two of the young women found in this house -- their cases as
missing persons, as potential kidnap victims, had been publicized along
with another young missing woman from Cleveland who went missing in roughly
the same part of the city, roughly the same time in the mid 2000s. She has
not been found.
Is her, it`s Ashley Summers, is that case being looked into in
conjunction with this crime? Is there any sense that you can tell us about
that there may have been other people held in that home, or that there
might be still more to discover about that scene?
CIACCIA: At this time, we believe that the only victims in this case
were the three women found and, of course, then the young daughter of
Amanda Berry. We don`t believe the fourth girl is connected to this case,
however, as leads come in, they will be investigated and if something leads
us down the path to feel that investigation could correlate with this one,
then that will be followed up on, as well.
MADDOW: Detective Jennifer Ciaccia of the Cleveland Police
Department, thank you for taking the time to talk with us tonight. I
appreciate your time.
CIACCIA: Thank you.
MADDOW: That point there about the fourth missing girl. The
interesting thing about that is not just for this case, for this whole
issue as a country, and this problem, this crime problem, the difference
between kidnapped and missing, right, and what that means for how these
cases are handled.
The universe of kidnappings is relatively speaking a pretty small
universe. Obviously, it`s a huge deal for anybody for anybody it happens
to, anybody you know that it happens to, right? But when you`re close to
those cases, they feel like the biggest deal in the world.
But numerically speaking, statistically speaking, not talking about a
large number of people to whom that happens. But the idea of missing
persons, that is a much broader category than kidnapping. Missing persons
is a huge category of persons that affects hundreds of thousands of people
To be classified as a missing person, person has to fit one or more of
the standardized criteria that`s set by the FBI`s National Crime
Information Centers Missing Persons File.
So among those criteria, it`s that the individual has a proven
physical or mental disability or the person is missing under circumstances
indicating they may be in physical danger. The person is missing after a
catastrophe. Or the person is missing under circumstances indicating their
disappearance may not have been voluntary. Persons missing, person missing
under the age of 21 and does not meet the above criteria, or the person is
over the age of 21 and did not meet any of the above criteria, but there`s
a reasonable concern for their safety.
Those are the different categories of missing persons. Missing people
who fit one of those categories are entered into FBI records. They remain
there indefinitely until they are found or until they are otherwise cleared
from the list for some other reason.
But the numbers here are kind of staggering. Last year alone, more
than 660,000 people were listed as missing by the FBI. That`s
approximately 2,000 new names per day.
But most of those new cases are cleared within the year. As of May
1st, 45,000 people have been in the missing person file for nearly a year
this year. And of all those missing people, vast majority, 75 percent of
them, are children, people under the age of 18 at the time they
disappeared. That`s hundreds of thousands of children being reported
missing each year.
Now, when you hear missing child, you might automatically think
kidnapping, but, in fact, about half of those missing kids turn out to be
runaways and another 40 percent of those missing end up not actually being
missing. There was just cause for concern when their whereabouts were
unknown for a little while.
When you get to the much smaller slice of the pie that are true
abductions, that`s about 10 percent of all kids reported missing. Only
about 2 percent of all missing kids are taken by non-family members, which
is what seems to have happened in Cleveland.
So, this is an exceedingly rare incident. If you are completely
transfixed by this story this week from Cleveland, if you are glued to your
TV on this one, there`s no reason to feel guilty about that. There are
good reasons for it. This is a genuinely transfixing and dramatic human
Part of the reason it is genuinely transfixing and dramatic is because
it is objectively so rare. And whether a person`s considered just missing
or actually has been kidnapped has huge consequences in terms of what kind
of resources are devoted trying to find them, but being specific about the
nature of its crime and prevalence can help us get our heads around just
what this sort of thing means.
Joining us now is Professor Todd Clear. He`s dean of the school of
criminal justice at Rutgers University.
Dr. Clear, thank you for being here.
TODD CLEAR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Thank you.
MADDOW: I am a layman in dealing with these issues, like most
criminal justice issues.
Let me ask you if I said anything there that struck you as wrong.
CLEAR: No, I think you got it right.
MADDOW: OK. These stories like this one in Cleveland and similar
ones before it, that Jaycee Dugard story, the Elizabeth Smart story, we
think of these things almost as prevalent because when they happen, they
get so much attention. But they are objectively, exceedingly rare
CLEAR: Very, very rare. And because they`re so rare, they become
important stories because they knock us off our chairs. They make us
wonder about the way the world works.
CLEAR: And they should because they`re terrible stories.
But hundreds of thousands of people are reported missing every year as
you said, 800,000 children get reported missing every year. But, by far,
most of those kids get found quickly. The ones who are not found within
days turn up to have mostly taken by family members or by other relatives
or by people who know them.
The situation that we have in Cleveland is so unusual, and
particularly the fact that these kids were there for a decade, that it
really just shocks you and it`s hard for people to even imagine what it
must be like to be a person in that situation.
MADDOW: There was for two of the women, three young women have been
found, oldest of the three, the one who is missing the longest was not
viewed, it seems by law enforcement as a likely kidnap victim. Her family,
obviously, treated somewhat differently. But the two younger women who
were found and this along with this other woman not yet found disappeared
under similar circumstances, their case did get a lot of attention. They
were all abducted, or they all went missing as teenagers from the
relatively same part of west Cleveland.
And I think part of the reason that their cases were publicized was
because of the implicit or in some cases explicitly positing that that they
had part of human trafficking, that they had been stolen to be forced into
some sort of forced prostitution environment.
How common is that sort of thing?
CLEAR: Well, so there`s a debate in criminology about this because
the number of people who turned up missing for whom we never find any
evidence of their whereabouts, every one of them theoretically could`ve
disappeared into some form of human trafficking. And so, people who are
alarmed by this point to those numbers, those large unknown numbers and
they say, wow, this problem is immense.
On the other hand, criminologist who specialize in this problem who
have gone to other countries to study human trafficking in Asian countries,
who go underground and look at prostitution by underage youth, they find
the numbers are not small, but they are really not the size that would
alarm us. And many criminologists think that the politicization of the
human trafficking around children has distracted attention from many of the
harms that happened to adult women and adults who get involved in the
prostitution trade, around which society imposes lots of penalties.
It`s not to say this is not a problem and it clearly is. But the
debate about how big it is, one would say that mostly evidence is on the
side of the people who claim that alarming about it being alarmed about it
overblows the numbers.
MADDOW: And it would seem -- I mean, I think what we`ve seen in the
reaction to this case in Cleveland is the emotional extrapolation from this
extreme and horrible case. The more we learn about it, the more horrible
it is, to those numbers, hundreds of thousands of people going missing, and
we automatically imagine the worst that everybody missing has been put into
some sort of circumstances.
CLEAR: Well, anyone who has children, you don`t know where that child
is, you imagine the worst, and for family members.
But it`s also important to say in this case this wasn`t a human
trafficking case. These --
CLEAR: -- these girls weren`t taken off the streets and forced into
sex trade. They were taken off the streets and kept bound. It was more
like a slavery kind of an event.
But -- and so concern about a widespread human trafficking underground
network -- this story is not a story about that.
MADDOW: Right. There are stories about that. That is not what this
story is. It`s worth being specific even as we are so horrified by these
Professor Todd Clear, dean of the school of criminal justice at
Rutgers University -- thank you very much for helping us sort this out. I
really appreciate it.
The amazing story in Cleveland has captured a ton of attention for a
lot of reasons. But a lot else happening in the news tonight. For
example, the polls closed in the country`s most recent congressional
election and absolutely stunning set of circumstances unfolding around that
race. That`s next.
MADDOW: Watching Mark Sanford trying to launch a political comeback
in South Carolina these past few months has been the Mr. Toad`s wild road
of American off-year electoral politics. Like, for example, this headline,
"Ex-governor asks ex-wife he cheated on to run his campaign." She says no.
Then, there were like the 16 different Republicans who were running in
the primary for the congressional seat he wanted to run for, 16
Republicans, had to go to a runoff before Mark Sanford could finally
capture the nomination. Then, there was the court filings that revealed
that Mark Sanford`s ex-wife was accusing him of trespassing at her home,
skulking around and trying to sneak out the back door without her knowing
he was in her home, using his cell phone as a flashlight in the dark.
Then there was the point where he put out the full-page ad in the
local paper comparing himself and his travails over his adultery and his
divorce settlement to the men who fought and died at the Alamo, except he
got the date wrong on the Alamo. He missed it by 27 years.
And that was around the time when the national Republican Party
decided that they were done with him. They canceled their fundraiser and
said if Mark Sanford was going to win the special election in South
Carolina`s first congressional district, he would have to do it without the
help of the national Republican Party.
And that, of course, left Mark Sanford with only Nancy Pelosi to lean
on. Not the real Nancy Pelosi, of course, but a giant cardboard cutout of
Nancy Pelosi. He held a debate against a flat cardboard cutout of Nancy
Pelosi. He says he won.
He also ran a television ad against Nancy Pelosi. He has invoked the
name Nancy Pelosi in the race so much, it had seemed that Mark Sanford`s
opponent is the former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, instead of the
actual Democrat on the ticket against him who is Elizabeth Colbert-Busch.
Mark Sanford told reporters after he voted today that if he did not
win this race tonight, he would never run for anything else. He said
second chances do not become third chances.
So, all in all, this has been Mr. Toad`s wild ride if a congressional
race in the great state of South Carolina. But it is a race hat has ended
We have the breaking news this hour that Mark Sanford has won. He has
won tonight`s special election with 99 percent of the vote in with nearly
all of the vote in and South Carolina`s first congressional district. Mark
Sanford is leading Elizabeth Colbert-Busch by nine points.
So, congratulations Mark Sanford, the once and now future Republican
congressman from South Carolina`s first district.
You know, the first time he held that seat when he was then-
Congressman Sanford, when he held that seat the first time, he voted that
President Bill Clinton should be impeached and thrown out of office for
having an affair and lying about it.
Now, Mark Sanford is back. That`s who they picked.
Remember, there were 16 different Republicans in the primary for this
seat, but they picked this guy.
Congratulations, Mark Sanford. Congratulations, Republican Party.
Best wishes for continuing with the whole crusading family values agenda
MADDOW: I tend to not have a great memory. By this time in the show
each night, honestly, I do not even really remember how I got to this desk
on time for the start of the show at the top of the hour. I mean, I know
it involves running down the hallway, and somebody putting eye make-up on
me. But, really, it`s just a fog. I don`t remember.
That said, I distinctly remember this happened early last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: PolitiFact, you are fired, you are a mess. You are fired.
You are undermining the definition of the word "fact" in the English
language by pretending to it in your name. The English language wants its
You are an embarrassment. You sully the reputation of anyone who
cites you as an authority on factishness let alone fact. You are fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I thought that was pretty finite. I thought that was clear.
Apparently, that was not clear enough because disaster has struck again.
MADDOW: If you enlist in the United States Air Force, the place you
are likely to be sent for basic training is here. It`s just outside San
Antonio, Texas. It is Lackland Air Force Base. And for the last few
years, something has been very wrong at Lackland Air Force Base.
Last year, a sprawling investigation began into widespread sexual
assault at that base. It is so far convicted at least five Lackland Air
Force Base military instructors of sexual assault or unprofessional
relationships with their trainees. At least one of the convictions from
that investigation resulted in a 20-year sentence for rape.
The investigation has identified almost 50 alleged victims at Lackland
and nearly two dozen alleged offenders.
This is the main basic training center for the United States Air
Force. That investigation came to a head late last year. Then early this
year in February, a three-star Air Force general, the commander of the
third Air Force in Europe personally intervened to throw out a sexual
assault conviction of an Air Force star fighter pilot.
The general who apparently had the authority to do this, the general
overruled the findings of a jury, overruled the recommendations of his own
legal adviser and stepped in to effectively pardon the fighter pilot after
the fighter pilot had been convicted of sexual assault. They reinstated
him, overturned the jury`s finding. That was in February.
Now, we find out it has happened again. Another three-star Air Force
general, now this time up for promotion to become vice commander for space
command, which is a big promotion, her nomination to that job is being
blocked now by Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Senators put a hold
on that general`s nomination for promotion because this general apparently
did the same thing as the other general.
This is a previously unpublicized case, but apparently this general,
yet another three-star intervened to, again, overturn a jury verdict on
sexual assault. To ignore the recommendations of legal advisers to
overrule and throw the conviction, in this case of a captain from
Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a captain who was convicted of
Claire McCaskill announcing a hold on that general`s nomination
happened on the same day that we were all treated to this mug shot. This
mug shot shows the lieutenant colonel who was in charge of sexual assault
prevention programs for the whole U.S. Air Force. He`s the guy in charge.
On the left, you can see what he looks like in uniform and happier
times. On the right, that`s what he looks like after himself being
arrested for attempted sexual assault, allegedly in a drunken parking lot
encounter late Saturday night with a stranger, a stranger who fought back,
hard. This is all happening as today the Pentagon released its latest
annual report showing an almost unfathomably large number of sexual
assaults taking place in the United States military.
Last year, there were an estimated 19,000 assaults in the military.
This year, it`s up to 26,000. But of those estimated sexual assaults, only
a tiny fraction are actually being reported at the chain of command, less
than 4,000 of the 26,000.
This huge difference between sexual assaults being experienced and
sexual assault being reported contributed in part to years of -- fears of
retaliation. And a lack of trust in the military criminal justice system
to deal with these issues seriously. And, frankly, if you`re in the Air
Force and this is the guy in charge of sexual assault prevention for your
branch of the service, you might understand why people are not all that
psyched about reporting this up the chain.
All of this is coming to a head today that drew President Obama`s
attention and drew his apparent anger. Watch this from him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The Pentagon said today that there may be as many as 70
sexual assaults a day in the military, up by 35 percent during your term in
office. And also that many sexual assaults may not be reported, in fact.
Given what we know about an Air Force officer in charge of preventing
sexual assaults recently being charged with sexual assault, can you speak
to the culture in the U.S. military that may be at play here and talk about
your response to that and what you can do going forward to improve things?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, let`s start with
the principle that sexual assault is an outrage. It is a crime. That`s
true for society at large, and if it`s happening inside our military, then
whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform that they`re wearing.
They may consider themselves patriots, but when you engage in this
kind of behavior, that`s not patriotic. It`s a crime. And we have to do
everything we can to root this out.
For those who are in uniform, who have experienced sexual assault, I
want them to hear directly from their commander in chief that I`ve got
their backs, I will support them, and we`re not going to tolerate this
stuff. And there will be accountability.
If people have engaged in this behavior, they should be prosecuted.
So bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this. I have communicated this
to the secretary of defense. We`re going to communicate this, again, to
folks up and down the chain in areas of authority. And I expect
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview is Missouri Democratic
Senator Claire McCaskill. She`s a senior member of the Armed Services
Senator McCaskill, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: You have been out front on this issue. I know you questioned
a number of military leaders about the problem of sexual assault in the
military. What do you think is the biggest challenge for fixing this? Why
is this not getting better faster?
MCCASKILL: Well, I`ve spent a number of years in the courtroom
prosecuting these cases, and many of the problems we`re seeing in the
military, we saw in the civil criminal justice system 20, 30 years ago.
I think what the military has done is they`ve gone about this the
wrong way. Instead of focusing on prosecuting these people and putting
them in prison, there have been efforts to train their way out. Well, if
we could do more seminars on unwanted sexual context, if we could just
teach women how to have a buddy system on base, if we could avoid alcohol
That`s not what we need to be doing. We need to be supporting these
victims, we need to be changing the code so that they have a sense that
justice can flourish. And we need to be going after these people and
putting them away because they are making our great military look bad.
MADDOW: When you look at that huge disparity between the number of
estimated sexual assaults in the military and the comparatively small
number that are being reported, what do you attribute that to? I know that
you`ve talked with people who have been victims of sexual assault in the
military. Why aren`t more being reported? And if that has to be the first
step toward pursuing the kind of accountability that you`re describing, how
do we up those numbers?
MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, I want to be fair and point out that
the majority of sexual assaults in this country are not reported.
MCCASKILL: It is hard to come forward. You are exposing yourself in
a very vulnerable way to a system that really is very intrusive in your
life. And so many women and men don`t ever want to talk about what
happened to them publicly.
So this is a problem across the board. But it`s even worse in the
military, Rachel, because these victims, many times the people who have
assaulted them, they have to salute every day. Or they have to work
shoulder to shoulder with them in the unit.
So, not only are they having to expose something very private and
ugly, they`re also jeopardizing their career, because they see this as
something that could hold them back in terms of their chances for
advancement in a military that many of them love very deeply.
MADDOW: Should there be structural changes to address that? Should
sexual assault and related crimes be treated outside the chain of command
in the terms of the way they are adjudicated? Should there be changes so
that, for example, Air Force generals cannot wade in and personally decide
to overturn jury verdicts in court-martials to reinstate people convicted
of sexual assault?
Should there be changes to policies like that?
MCCASKILL: Absolutely. There need to be some changes. I don`t think
we need to wholesale change the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But
these cases turn on who do you believe? These are about the triers of
And what`s really insulting about the cases overturned, these generals
have picked the juries. So, in the Aviano (ph) case and the Helm`s case,
the people who listen to the witnesses and decided who was telling the
truth were the hand-picked jurors of the generals and then even in spite of
that, the generals went ahead and said, you know, I wasn`t in the courtroom
and I didn`t hear the testimony, and I didn`t have the advantage as you had
in listening to the testimony and deciding the credibility of the
witnesses, I`m going to super impose my judgment.
So I do not believe a general should ever be able to overturn a court-
martial decision by a jury. And I think we need to make that change.
There are other changes that need to be made too to help support the
victim and make sure that the victim`s voice is heard in the process.
MADDOW: In terms of the kind -- those kind of concrete suggestions
that have been made for improving the process for supporting victims better
for cracking down harder on people who commit these kinds of crimes, I have
noticed in congressional hearings on these matters, like today, watching
Senator Gillibrand absolutely take apart witnesses on the subject. I`ve
seen you do your share of that, as well.
I saw today Senator Patty Murray and Senator Ayotte, the Republican
from New Hampshire talking about co-introducing legislation to deal with
this -- I`m noticing a theme that a lot of the women in the Senate are
really taking point on this.
Are you all working together closely on this to put women out front?
MCCASKILL: We are. I think history was made when we had a hearing on
sexual assault in the military for the first time in the history of the
United States Senate. The majority of the senators asking questions to the
top leadership in the legal branches of our armed services were, in fact,
women senators. We now have seven women on the Armed Services Committee.
Elections matter, we have 20 women in the Senate, and I think this is
one area where we are not going to listen to any notion that we can
continue along with the way it`s been done and think things are going to
get significantly better and I think we are going to be able to enforce
I think it`s important that the convening authority of the generals
have some role in this process at some point because that gives it the
gravitas it needs within the unit to be taken seriously. But they should
never have the ability to overturn a jury verdict.
MADDOW: Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, thank you for
helping us understand this. And I really appreciate it.
MCCASKILL: You bet.
MADDOW: Thank you.
There`s a new problem with PolitiFact people we have to talk about
very seriously. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: Here are some of the typical reasons that political leaders
in the great state of Illinois end up having to leave their jobs in
There`s having to go to prison for trying to sell a seat in the United
States Senate. There`s having to go to prison on racketeering charges.
There`s having to go to prison on corruption charges.
There`s having to go to prison on sexual assault charges and
obstruction of justice. There`s having to go to prison for bank fraud.
There`s having to go to prison for bribery.
The most recent high profile example of why someone has to leave
politics in Illinois, is former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. now awaiting
sentencing after being convicted of fraud.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but when people in Illinois
politics abruptly have to leave their jobs in politics, it is a good bet
that they`re having to leave their jobs in politics because they have an
appointment with the warden.
But not today. Today, a person with a very high profile political job
in the great state of Illinois had to leave that job for a whole new
reason. His name is Pat Brady, and until today, he was the chairman of the
Republican Party in Illinois.
Pat Brady resigned that position today, not because of prison but
because of something he said earlier this year. He said, quote, "I do not
think the government should be in the business of telling people who can
and can`t get married. This is the most conservative position."
Pat Brady, chair of the Republican Party in Illinois said that back in
January. And then pretty much right away, Illinois Republicans started
trying to figure out how to force him out of his job. Chairman Pat Brady
defended himself. He said that he was just stating his personal opinion.
He initially refused to step down.
But then, today, he said he realized he had to go, saying he had,
quote, "obviously lost the support of the state central committee because
of my position on gay marriage."
Remember when Republicans were supposedly going to evolve and stop
doing stuff like this? Hold that thought.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: If you ever invested money in all the myriad cloying rainbow
flag photography available for sale at IStockphoto, this last week or so
has been payoff time for you. Seriously, your investment in this crime
against aesthetic judgment has this week been rewarded by news agencies`
need for pictorial accompaniment to a whole slew of stories, including just
tonight, the great and tiny state of Delaware recognizing the right to get
married for same sex couples. The Delaware legislature passed that
marriage equality bill largely along party lines.
And today, the governor signed it. That means starting July 1st, gay
couples can legally get married in Delaware. The state only introduced
civil unions a year ago, but now, having experienced the sky not falling,
they`re moving ahead with real, actual marriage.
Just a few days ago, it was the same in Rhode Island. It`s tiny state
marriage equality palooza. In Rhode Island, same sex couples can get
married there as of August 1st.
With Rhode Island and Delaware on board, there are now 11 states plus
the District of Columbia where gay couples can get married like straight
couples, minus all the federal benefits.
But there is momentum here in the states. Almost half of those states
that have marriage equality made the decision to legalize gay marriage just
in the last six months alone. These 11 states could now be joined soon by
Minnesota, where the Democratic leader of the statehouse had said that he
would only schedule a vote on marriage equality when he knew he had the
votes to pass it.
And now, he has scheduled that vote for Thursday. Democrats in the
state Senate in Minnesota say they, too, think they have the votes to pass.
So, watch that Minnesota might be next.
Illinois has also now considering a gay marriage bill, although the
outcome there is less certain than it is in Minnesota. As I reported just
a moment ago, that proposed bill cost the chair of the Illinois Republican
Party his job today. It costs him his job that he supported that bill.
But beyond marriage, there`s a lot more going on in the news right now
to drive up the price of your rainbow flag IStockphoto art. For example,
last week, it was Jason Collins, the NBA center that came out of the closet
and announced that he was gay. The news was met with a resounding "oh, how
nice" from most people.
On Sunday, the previous openly gay in sports pioneer Martina
Navratilova appeared on the CBS Sunday morning show "Face the Nation" to
talk about Mr. Collins coming out in the NBA. In the course of that
interview on CBS, though, Martina Navratilova said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, TENNIS ICON: We still don`t have equal rights.
I have been getting on Twitter, why does this matter? I don`t care --
which is kind of code for "I really don`t want to know". But it does
matter because in 29 states in this country, you can still get fired for
not just being gay, but if your employer thinks you`re gay, you could still
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Upon hearing retired tennis player Martin Navratilova explain
that on a Sunday morning TV show, a group called PolitiFact, a group that
has "word" fact in its name, that has anointed himself the arbiter of truth
and all things political, PolitiFact decided to check that whole thing out,
this thing this person on television is saying about policy in the American
states, could this thing be true? We, PolitiFact, are on the case.
Here again is the fact that PolitiFact decided to test in its own
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAVRATILOVA: In 29 states in this country, you can still get fired
for not just being gay but if your employer thinks that you`re gay, you
could still get fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK, that`s the claim. In 29 states, you can still get fired
for being gay or even if the boss just thinks you`re gay.
Here is how PolitiFact decided to evaluate that claim, quote, "21
states plus D.C. explicitly prohibit unemployment discrimination based on
sexual orientation." As you can see them doing the math. Fifty states
minus 21, carry the two, that means, yes, we`ve done that math.
That means, yes, it`s true, the remaining 29 states do not ban
unemployment discrimination based on sexual orientation. So, it`s true,
like she said, 29 states don`t have anti-discrimination laws that include
It`s true. If you live in one of the 29 states, there`s nothing in
state law that stops a business from putting up a sign that says gays need
not apply. It is true, PolitiFact looked into it. Employers can fire you
if you`re gay or they think you are gay. That`s state law in 29 states.
PolitiFact even publish in the article a map of those 29 states,
proving that when Martina Navratilova said 29 states have laws like that,
that was a true statement.
So, the retired tennis lady says that`s true of 29 states. PolitiFact
decides to fact check that statement. It finds what she said was true
about those 29 states.
And so then, PolitiFact with the name fact in its name revealed the
results of their fact-check of her statement -- their statement which they
found to be true. They rated her statement: half true, because they
checked what they said and found it was true, so then they rated her half
true, because they are PolitiFact.
And this is why the very important concept of fact-checking has become
pointless at a time in our country when we really need it to mean
something, because PolitiFact exists and has branded themselves the generic
arbitrator of fact and the paragon of fact-checking, and they are terrible
at it. They are terrible.
They fact checked a statement about state law, found it to be true,
decided it didn`t seem seemly or whatever to actually just call it true,
then they searched other unrelated information about how there are other
kind of things, besides states like some companies they don`t want to
discriminate, and doesn`t that count for something?
No! Because that is not the statement you are fact checking. The
statement you were supposed to be fact checking is true. And until
somebody figures out how to sue you in order to retrieve the meaning of the
word "fact" from the dark and airless hole you stuffed it into, PolitiFact,
and no, it is not OK for you to just make this stuff up. You are truly
Fact checking has to count for something and, PolitiFact, you are
ruining it for everyone. There.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD".
Have a good night.
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