ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
May 15, 2013
Guests: David Cay Johnston, Kirsten Gillibrand, Anu Bhagwati, Rep. Dan Kildee, Tim DeChristopher
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes, and
thank you for joining us on a night when we have big breaking news out of
the White House on two different fronts.
Today, the White House released 100 pages of e-mails of the
administration`s internal discussions over the Benghazi attacks, e-mails
that show -- are you ready for this? -- the sound and fury over the
administration`s characterization of the tragedy is still much adieu about
nothing. We`ll get to that.
But this evening, President Obama also addressed the IRS screening of
certain right wing groups for extra scrutiny and announced his reaction to
the Treasury Department`s review.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve reviewed the
Treasury Department watchdog`s report, and the misconduct that uncovered is
inexcusable. It`s inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about
it, and I am angry about it.
Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting
the acting commissioner of the IRS. We`re going to put in place new
safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again.
We will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role, and our
administration has to make sure that we are working hand-in-hand with
Congress to get this thing fixed.
The good news is, it`s fixable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, IRS acting commissioner Steven Miller is out. If you had
that in your own personal who will go pool, you win. He will be stepping
down in early June. And the congressional oversight to which President
Obama refers has barely begun. In fact, Miller himself is still scheduled
to testify on Capitol Hill on Friday.
Let`s bring in NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander and David
Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist for
All right. I want to begin with you, Peter. You got your hands on
the e-mails at the White -- there they are. You`ve read through them.
What we learn from them?
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, first of all,
Chris, here are the 100 pages of e-mails, OK, and what they effectively do
is lay out the jostling that took place between intelligence officials and
diplomatic officials. These e-mails show exchanges between officials at
the White House, the CIA, and the State Department over exactly what should
be said in those talking points, the ones would be first provided to a
House Intelligence Committee, but also provided to Susan Rice on that
Sunday following the Benghazi attack.
And I think the most significant lesson that we learn from reading
these documents at this point is at least according to a senior
administration official, that they say even though there was a lot of
evidence that the State Department, as we`ve reported, had wanted changes,
that a senior intelligence official says specifically that they wanted the
same changes independently of the State Department and that they
proactively made those changes.
In these documents, we see one of the versions of the talking points,
where then deputy CIA director Mike Morell had crossed out a lot of the
language in there, specifically language that referred to al Qaeda and
referred to past CIA warnings. The concern among senior administration
officials who tell NBC News this was that they didn`t want to prejudice the
FBI investigation that was under way at the time.
But we also see language in here that shows some jostling between the
top two people at the CIA, Mike Morell and then the CIA director, David
Petraeus. David Petraeus, after all the e-mails are in the eyes of
Republicans scrub said the following in one of these e-mails, he says, "I
just as soon not use these." And that`s what critics are pouncing on
tonight, an assertion they believe because there`s no evidence that the CIA
officials actually independently wanted these changes.
That`s just what they told us in this private briefing. There`s no
evidence of that. And these e-mails, they still believe that the White
House and State Department played a significant role in this process.
HAYES: Well, it`s not surprising that critics still believe that.
I`ve reviewed some of them, and what strikes me is what you have is a
situation of a White House trying to referee a whole lot -- herding a whole
lot of cats that have different stakes on this issue and what ultimately
happens in any of these situations, if you`ve ever been part of
collaborative process, cooperation, where everybody`s got a veto is that
you go to the lowest common denominator, which is to say the least amount
possible, which is what it looks like to me from going through the e-mails
David, I want to turn to you on the question of the IRS and Steven
Miller`s exit. I got say -- my understanding is that Steven Miller was not
the guy overseeing the IRS when any of this happened. So it doesn`t
necessarily seem like the most -- it`s a swift decision by the president.
It`s definitely decisive. It definitely communicates that he`s serious
about this, but he was not the guy in charge of the IRS when all of this
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, TAXANALYST.COM: No. A Bush appointee, Doug
Shulman, was, and Miller was fired. There`s no two ways about it. They
The amazing part of this is, Lois Lerner, she`s the director of exempt
organization. She`s one who was in the loop. She`s the one who bungled
this. The IRS confirmed to me tonight she has not resigned.
That is absolutely appalling, and I will be very surprised if 24 hours
from now ms. Lerner has not resigned. If she hasn`t, I think that would
be very dishonorable of her.
HAYES: And you say that because as far as we know from the I.G.
report, from the reporting that`s come out, the furthest up this really
went was to Lerner. She was the furthest up in the chain who really knew
what was going on as it was playing out.
JOHNSTON: That`s correct. And Lerner also made misleading statements
last Friday to reporters and the conversation I was on where she tried to
slip away. And I said, no, you stay and finish answering our questions.
She said she learned of this from news reports. The TDIG report makes it
clear, that`s not true. And I don`t see how you can lead this organization
having made a false statement like that.
And on top of that, it`s not a first time, by the way, a journalist
has complained about false statements by her. But on top of that, she`s
the person who is where the buck stops.
HAYES: Yes. Well, NBC`s Peter Alexander and David Cay Johnson, thank
you for the briefing on tonight`s breaking news. Really appreciate it.
ALEXANDER: Thank you.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
HAYES: We have a big show still ahead. The one and only Rachel
Maddow joins me next, along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on yet another
case of sexual assault in the military by an officer charged with
Plus, I`ll talk with a man who`s now free after spending two years in
prison, hard time, for trying to stop the Bush administration from giving
away public land to big polluters.
So, stay with us.
HAYES: More breaking news tonight on a story we`ve been following
closely and reporting here. Florida teenager Kiera Wilmot, who blew the
top off a water bottle at her high school by mixing household products in
it, Kiera was arrested, expelled from school, and -- get this -- faced
potential felony charges as an adult.
Well, today some really fantastic news. The state attorney`s office
of Florida has decided not to file criminal charges in the case. Kiera is
currently attending classes at an alternative school. She`s waiting to see
if she`ll be allowed to return to her school next year.
We will continue to follow the story here on the show and at our Web
HAYES: Another shocking new story in what is becoming the worst new
beat in all of journalism -- the beat covering members of the military
charged with preventing sexual assault who are, themselves, accused of
Late last night, Army announced the latest case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: In breaking news tonight, a
coordinator for the army`s sexual assault prevention program in Ft. Hood,
Texas, is under investigation for abusive sexual contact, pandering,
assault, and maltreatment of subordinates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The soldier under investigation in this latest case has been
relieved of duty, but not yet charged. The army is not releasing his name,
but NBC News has learned truly incredibly details about what precisely this
army sergeant is accused of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Sources tell NBC news Army investigators are looking into
investigations that an Army sergeant sexually assaulted a female soldier
under his command, then forced her into prostitution and allegedly
assaulted two others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: "USA Today" citing two senior Pentagon officials this morning
the sergeant is accused of, quote, "running a prostitution ring."
Again, this is the guy in charge of sexual assault prevention for the
U.S. Army at the battalion level at Ft. Hood, and he is under investigation
for sexual assault and running a prostitution ring.
It is the kind news that would be shocking and stomach turning enough
on its own, but, of course, this news is not coming on its own. It`s
coming just a week after we learned of another military official in charge
of sexual assault prevention being accused himself of sexual assault.
Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Krusinski, chief of the Air Force Sexual Assault
Prevention and Response Branch was charged last week with sexual battery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Krusinski is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in an
Arlington, Virginia, parking lot early Sunday. The police report describes
him as a drunken male subject, who approached a female victim and grabbed
her breasts and buttocks before she fought him off and contacted police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. There are more than 1.4 million active duty
members in the United States military, and, obviously, in any group of 1.4
million people, you`re going to experience some criminal conduct. You`re
going to have some predators who commit truly terrible crimes.
But what`s happening right now in military with sexual assault goes
way beyond that. What we are seeing is a fundamental breakdown of the rule
of law and two back-to-back cases of sexual assault prevention officers
being accused of sexual assault are not novelties, or coincidences, or
flukes. They are impossible to ignore evidence that we have reached a
tipping point on this issue.
According to the Pentagon`s own calculations, an estimated 26,000
members of the military were sexually assaulted last year. That is a 35
percent increase from the year before.
Obviously, sexual assault is a problem in the general population in
America, as well, but it is worse for women in the military. Women in the
military are more likely to be sexually assaulted than women who are not in
In the general population, it`s estimated that about 17 percent of
women are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. For women in
the military, that number could nearly double. And watch how it`s being
handled in the military.
You start out with the Pentagon`s own estimate of 26,000 sexual
assaults last year of those just over 3,000 were even reported. Even fewer
were fully investigated, and there were just 238 convictions out of 26,000
When an institution is failing to live up to the most basic
expectations to protect its own members, to adhere to the rule of law, and
to impose punishment and accountability on those who violate it, here`s a
deep institutional problem at hand. And nothing more horribly dramatizes
that problem than cases like the ones we`re hearing about out of Ft. Hood
today and the one last week out of Arlington.
Joining us now, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat from New York,
who`s introducing legislation aimed at fixing the institutional dysfunction
behind the military`s sexual assault epidemic.
Senator Gillibrand, thank you so much for being here.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: It`s my privilege.
HAYES: So, I want to talk about this legislation, but first I want
your reaction to the news we`ve just gotten about -- for the second time in
two weeks, a member of the military charged with preventing sexual assault
is accused of it himself.
GILLIBRAND: It`s incomprehensible. It`s something that is so
outrageous, and it just continues a long line of stories that shows that
this is something the military does not have a good understanding of how
corrosive and how undermining it is to good order and discipline.
In fact, we really have to change the whole structure of how these
cases are actually reported, who decides whether they go to trial, so
victims have a hope of receiving justice.
HAYES: Senator, the legislation you`re about to introduce, explain to
me how it fixes the problem, because the problem to someone who`s on the
outside looking at this, it looks as much cultural as it is legal. So,
explain to me how legislation is going to fix this.
GILLIBRAND: Well, what we know is what we know from the victims, and
the victims have told us over and over again that they are reluctant to
report, because if they have to report through their chain of command, they
are afraid that they will be retaliated against, marginalized, their
careers will be over, they will be considered to be the problem. And so,
they don`t report these cases.
The military just came out with a study that showed there`s
approximately 26,000 unwanted sexual contacts. And of those, only 3,300
were ever even reported. So, there`s a gap between incident rate and
And because the victims tell us there`s a fear of retaliation, we need
to change how they report and who decides whether these cases go to trial.
So, what we are doing exactly in this bill is doing exactly that. We
are saying no longer do victims have to report through the chain of
command, and no longer will their commanding officer make that fundamental
legal decision whether a case should go forward to trial. That decision,
we argue, should be better made by trained legal experts, prosecutors
within the military who know this kind of issue and know the law.
And we hope that with that one structural change, along with a second
one, which is no commanding officer should have the ability to overturn a
case or reduce a sentence once a jury says these crimes have been
committed, those two changes would hopefully allow more victims to have the
ability to come forward, to tell their story, and try to seek justice.
HAYES: So, the big change here is taking reporting out of the chain
of command, not reporting to a superior, but some separate entity.
GILLIBRAND: And decision making.
HAYES: And decision making. It`s not just -- because you can now
report a crime to people outside of the chain of command, but it comes
right back to your commanding officer and the commanding officer has to
actually decide whether your case is going to move forward to trial. And
that`s being made by someone without any legal training who may not know
about sexual assault.
We`ve seen these cases. We saw the chief of staff of the Air Force
say that he thinks the incident rate is so high because of the hookup
culture from high school. I mean, obviously, that shows a grave lack of
understanding of what sexual assault and rape is.
HAYES: I want to --
GILLIBRAND: It is a crime of violence. It is a crime of aggression.
It is not a date gone badly.
HAYES: I want to play for you briefly Secretary of Defense Chuck
Hagel, who is opposed of taking this outside the chain of command. Take a
listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It is my strong belief, and I
think others on Capitol Hill and within our institution, that the ultimate
authority has to remain within the command structure, and we do have to go
back and review every aspect of that chain of command, of that
And some things do need to be changed. But I don`t think taking it
away, the responsibility, ultimate responsibility, away from the military,
I think, that would just weaken the system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: My question to you is, can you get this done without the
Pentagon on board?
GILLIBRAND: We can. I don`t think the Pentagon was on board in
revealing "don`t ask, don`t tell." I don`t think all commanders were
behind that corrosive, discriminatory policy. Sometimes, military needs
Congress to provide the oversight and accountability that our Constitution
actually calls for.
It`s the reason why the Department of Defense will have a secretary
who is a civilian. We want to have this level of oversight, and this is
just a series of crimes that have not gone investigated and prosecuted and
we don`t see the conviction rates that we need to, because these crimes
aren`t taken seriously enough and it is a structural issue.
Secretary Hagel did make the change of saying article 60, which was
the decision to overturn a conviction, should be taken out of the chain of
command. I agree with that. I think he should also urge article 30, the
decision point of whether or not to go to trial, should also be taken out
of the chain of command.
HAYES: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thank you so much for joining me.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me at the table tonight, Rachel Maddow, my friend,
also host of "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW." You may have seen it, it`s on
MSNBC; author of "Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power".
And Anu Bhagwati, former marine captain and company commander, now the
executive director of Servicewomen`s Action Network.
It`s good to have you here.
Rachel, I thought of you when Senator Gillibrand said that about the
Pentagon being on board, because you covered "don`t ask, don`t tell" repeal
so closely and so thoroughly and I don`t know if I agree with her that this
can go forward if the Pentagon isn`t on board.
RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: She is right the Pentagon was not on board
with "don`t ask, don`t tell" repeal in the `90s, with gays in the military,
with gays in the military, and that`s how we got "don`t ask, don`t tell"
back in the `90s.
But in order for it to get done under this administration the way it
did, repealing "don`t ask, don`t tell," yes, they did have to be brought on
board. That is what I was wrong about in political strategy around "don`t
ask, don`t tell." I felt the administration should ram it through. And
the administration said, no, no, no, we are actually lining everybody up so
that when we finally do push, we`re pushing on an open door and it gets
Hearing Chuck Hagel say the opposite of what Senator Gillibrand thinks
should happen, I think, is a political problem that must be solved in order
for there to be better solutions here.
HAYES: That is the question I have about how this is going to play
out, because it does seem to me, Anu, that Chuck Hagel and a lot of people
around the Pentagon aren`t that excited, necessarily, about Congress
reaching in and telling them how the command structure should work.
ANU BHAGWATI, SERVICE WOMEN`S ACTION NETWORK: Well, there are a lot
of lawyers in the Pentagon, and we`re dealing with changes to military law.
So, you`re going to see enormous pushback.
And the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the portions we`re talking
about reforming tomorrow are literally 250 years old. And so, we`re
dealing with sort of George Washington era law, which has absolutely no
applicability to today`s military.
HAYES: How radical is this then? Are you going to throw out the
Uniform Code of Military Justice?
BHAGWATI: Absolutely not. It`s actually quite common sense reform.
It`s an effort to professionalize the system. Today, we don`t have
the most professional, qualified people in charged of military justice.
Commanding officers don`t have that kind of training and expertise.
Attorneys and judges do.
Well, we have those attorneys and judges in the military. Why not put
them in charge of the military judicial process?
HAYES: I was really struck by the data about the incidents of assault
in the military. Actually, the majority of incidents themselves, men are
the victims of. Of course, you know, that`s skewed by the fact there are
many, many, many more men in the military than there are women. But it was
fascinating to me, because it said there`s this, I think, the thing that
senator said was about the military understanding this people having one
too many drinks or a date going wrong as opposed to this being something
about power fundamentally.
MADDOW: Hearing the top brass of the Air Force blaming hook-up
culture for that being the problem. You know what? No.
What this means, the prevalence of sexual assault in the military,
what that means is people think they can get away with it. There is not a
deter rent factor at work that military, criminal justice, law enforcement
in the military is happening in such a way that people like if they do
this, they are going to get in trouble, they better not do it.
It`s the same with reporting. There`s such a big gap between the
incidents of assault being experienced and being reported it to
authorities. You`re not going to report it to authorities if you think the
risk of reporting it as a victim is actually higher possibility something
is going to happen and the crime is going to be prosecuted and solved and
you`re not going to be further victimized.
Law enforcement is failing within the military on this subject.
Looking how law enforcement in the military needs to be adjusted in order
to make it stop failing seems to me a very conservative approach.
HAYES: Right. The thing that`s so fascinating to me is it`s not like
the military is doing nothing on this and what I`ve learned over the past
few weeks is that there`s all these officers, apparently, who are in charge
of trying to prevent this. And the question I have, what are they doing?
What is going on?
When you have the job that this person at Ft. Hood had, what are you
doing day in, day out, to prevent sexual assault in the military?
BHAGWATI: Well, I`m not surprised at all. You have a senior enlisted
person in the Army`s case and senior officer in the Air Force`s case.
These folks have been ingrained in the military culture. They are
careerists, been in 15, 20 years.
And so, they`ve grown up in a system which is right with victim
blaming and rape mythology and doesn`t understand how to even educate young
men and women about respect for women, about positive masculinity. I mean,
there`s absolutely no meaningful discussion happening within the military,
because they are only looking to themselves for the answers.
And the answers are outside the military, with civilian rape crisis
centers and nonprofit organizations doing the hard work of educating
teenage boys and men about taking ownership of this issue and making sexual
violence and domestic violence men`s issue, not women`s issue to solve.
MADDOW: But I think part of the way it has evolved into being a
better prosecuted issue outside the military is that a hard line has been
drawn to say this is a crime, this is not -- there aren`t different kinds
of rape, there aren`t legitimate rapes and illegitimate rapes. Rape is a
crime and it will be prosecuted and there can be no ambiguity about that.
You can`t excuse it.
And if you don`t have that, everything else you do to support victims,
everything else you have to do to educate people about not getting
themselves into the situation where they might be tempted to commit this
HAYES: Which is all the literature I have seen says, and says to me
they are not getting it right now.
MADDOW: It`s beside the point unless the bottom line is that, if you
do it, you`re going to get caught, you`re going to get prosecuted, you`re
going to get dishonorably discharged and you`re going to end up in jail.
Until that is clear, until it`s totally clear that because you`re a
top fighter pilot, your commander officer isn`t going to come in and say,
actually, I don`t think you`re guilty, so you`re free to go, until that
issue is settled in the military, all this training stuff ends up being
besides the point.
HAYES: OK. Here`s the big question -- I can`t imagine a thing that
would create more political consensus in America than the folks who are
serving in the military should not be subject to fear of sexual predators
and rape and sexual assault. That seems to me about you get 100 percent
polling on that, right? So, how difficult is it going to be to get done
BHAGWATI: We`re facing some resistance.
HAYES: Where? How can be there be resistance? Yes, what is the
BHAGWATI: It is a -- we`re dealing with habit and tradition.
BHAGWATI: Military deference has become almost like a physical habit,
right, where we assume military leadership always knows best when it comes
to issues within the military. It absolutely does not know best. It`s
obvious. Every year, 20,000 to 25,000 service members are assaulted year
after year. I mean, since 9/11, hundreds of thousands of troops who have
been assaulted as they`ve been deployed out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
It`s shameful. There should be no politician, Democrat or Republican,
who even hesitates to support this kind of legislation.
HAYES: And the politics, I think, we`re seeing here which you`re
illuminating is not going to be Republicans versus Democrats, because
actually, there`s been some good bipartisan conversation about that.
HAYES: It`s going to be the institutional politics of the Pentagon
and the Hill, which is a whole different kind of access but I think if
people keep paying attention to this and we keep the spotlight on what is
happening, those politics are going to get easier.
Anu Bhagwati of Service Women`s Action Network, thank you.
And Rachel Maddow, thank you. We will see you in just a minutes, at
the top of the hour, your show.
MADDOW: I`ll be back.
HAYES: All right. Coming up, a major turn of events in Michigan and
a victory for families tossed aside by the state government. It`s good
news. We`re going to tell you about it, next.
HAYES: All right, this is my favorite block tonight, because it`s
huge, welcomed good news today on a story that we`ve been covering closely
here at ALL IN WITH CHRIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michigan Department of Education has just approved
a deficit elimination plan for the Buena Vista School District.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The district is hopeful that everyone will be
back in class as early as this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You heard that right. The Buena Vista School District will
reopen, maybe as soon as Friday, and students will finish out the school
year, which runs until June 13th. That`s because Michigan Education
Superintendent Mike Flanagan finally approved the district`s third deficit
elimination plan last night, which cleared the way for the Michigan
Department of Education to release state funding.
As we first reported last week, then again on Monday, Buena Vista
students have not been in school since Friday, May 3rd, because the
district is out of money. And Republican Governor Rick Snyder had refused
to release 500,000 dollars, or point one percent of the state`s rainy day
fund, so Buena Vista schools could reopen.
That prompted the district to shut the doors on all three of its
schools, send its more than 400 schools home, and lay off all 27 of its
teachers. When we first covered this story, there was very little movement
to resolve the problem of getting these kids back in school. Then there
was a plan to offer an enhanced skills camp to focus on math, reading and
writing that would have been funded by a federal government grant, which we
discussed with Michigan`s Democratic congressman Dan Kildee the other
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Now we come up with this concept,
which is a day camp, which is not mandatory. The teachers that they`ve
been learning from all year long --
HAYES: Have to reapply for their jobs.
KILDEE: -- have to reapply, may or may not be selected. And a good
number of the kids probably won`t attend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Then we got word yesterday from a source close to the goings
on in Buena Vista that the skills camp idea wasn`t going over very well in
the press. A source told us that the state can`t backtrack fast enough on
this day camp idea. Now they are working to get the schools open ASAP,
apparently for the remainder of the year. They took a beating in the press
yesterday. And they now realize the whole camp idea is a P.R. nightmare.
So finally, today, the state did the right thing and these students
are going back to school to finish out the year. I`m joined tonight by
Congressman Dan Kildee, who represents Michigan`s fifth district.
Congressman, I`ve got to ask you, how did this resolution come about? And
how are your constituents in the district feeling about it?
KILDEE: Well, they are happy about it. This is what we`ve been
asking for ever since this started, to get these kids back in their
classroom with their teachers to finish the school year. The Board of
Education approved the deficit elimination plan, and really, Chris, I want
to thank you and a lot of other folks who brought attention to this,
because it was putting a great big light on this problem that, I think,
caused the reverse of course.
And the good news is these kids will be able to finish their school
year. And I`m just really happy about that.
HAYES: What have we learned about Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in
this? The fact he seemed willing -- the state government seemed willing to
just let these kids not be in school and not turn over any money and not
find some way initially for a bridge loan or something? What does that say
to you about the governor?
KILDEE: First of all, I actually want to thank them for doing the
right thing, even though it took some time. I`m not really anxious to
point fingers. I think what it does show is that we have huge inequities
in this country, and in Michigan and lots of other places. And we need to
correct those inequities. For every Buena Vista that had to close, there
are hundreds of schools that are functioning barely at the sustainable
level and getting marginal education because they are not getting the
support that they need.
So I hope the governor takes from this is that Buena Vista is just a
case, and there`s lots of other inequities that we need to address. So
hopefully that will be the message that we get from this and we move on and
try to correct those inequities.
HAYES: And finally, this is important because I`ve gotten more viewer
feedback on this issue than anything else. It is pronounced Buena Vista,
KILDEE: Buena Vista.
HAYES: There we go. Thank you. Thank you. Just like it`s Detroit
and not Detroit. Thank you very much, congressman. And thanks for your
work on this. Have a good night.
KILDEE: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: We will be right back with Click Three.
HAYES: Next, the incredible story of a man who tried to disrupt a
corrupt Bush administration land giveaway and did two years in prison
because of it. He joins me next.
But first, I want to share the three awesomest things on the Internet
today, beginning with a pitch from Twitter fan whose handle JohnnyMcNugget
tells us about an addictive geography game totally for nerds like us. That
game is called Geo Guesser. It uses Google`s Street View. First, an image
pops up taken from some place, any place in the world. A small map in the
corner of the screen allows you to pin where you think the image is
located. You submit your guess and see how you do.
The real location of the image is revealed, and the distance from that
location and your guess is measured. It`s really addictive. Clues are
offered through street signs, vegetation and cars on the road. Awaken your
inner Carmen San Diego and take a crack at it.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, a few really amazing
images illustrating the past, present and future of the women`s movement.
First, the present, with the women of the 113th tumbler. This eye opening
graphic illustrates the female representation currently in Congress,
divided by House and Senate, also by party. The caption says it all,
congress ladies plus men equals still a ways to go.
Which brings us to a really cool idea from photographer Jamie Moore.
Ms. Moore wanted to commemorate her daughter Emma`s 5th birthday but was
looking for something more empowering than a Disney princess theme. Here`s
the alternative. Moore posed Emma as five different women, all of whom
have had a big impact on society throughout history, from Susan B. Anthony
to Helen Keller. As you can see, they are really amazing, stunning images.
Perhaps providing inspiration for the next generation, my daughter
included. Well done.
And the third awesomest thing on the Internet today, the saga of the
Rubber Duck of Hong Kong. The rubber duck is quite literally a giant
yellow duck floating in the city`s Victoria Harbor as an art installation.
She`s been good for business. Sales of rubber ducks have soared. Tourists
are flocking to Hong Kong. Even nearby hotels are advertising rooms that
have great duck views. So you can imagine the utter anguish felt when an
apparent case of bird flu struck, reducing the 54-foot mighty duck to a
flattened beach ball.
Officials say she is undergoing necessary maintenance, Tweeting "the
rubber duck needs to freshen up. Stay tuned for its return."
Nevertheless, as "the Wall Street Journal" reports, the duck`s temporary
demise quickly became the highest trending topic of China`s version of
Twitter. "I don`t die, I still haven`t had a chance to make a pilgrimage
and come worship you, big yellow duck," wrote one user. "Is nothing
sacred," another user mourned.
"Who shot and killed the duck and turned it into duck soup?" Others
used emoticons of lit candles to display similar feelings. We at Click
Three offer our deepest condolences to those in mourning. Get well and God
speed, rubber duck.
You can find all the link for tonight`s Click Three on our website,
AllInWithChris.com. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM DECHRISTOPHER, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: All of you out here were the
reminder for all of us that I wasn`t just a finger all alone in there, but
that I was connected to a hand with many fingers that can unite as one
fist. And as that fist cannot be broken by the power that they have in
That fist is not a symbol of violence. That fist is a symbol that we
will not be misled into thinking we are alone. We will not be lied to and
told we are weak. We will not be divided, and we will not back down. That
fist is a symbol that we are connected and that we are powerful. It`s a
symbol that we hold true to our vision of a healthy and just world, and we
are building the self empowering movement to make it happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That man with the fist is named Tim DeChristopher. And that
speech was given on the day that the then 29-year-old climate activist was
convicted of two felonies, for which he was sentenced for two years in
federal prison. Two years, I might add, is more than anyone guilty of
torture or any banker guilty of bringing down the world economy has ever
Tim DeChristopher was found guilty of violating laws on oil and gas
leasing and making false statements. What did he do that got him two years
in federal prison? Well, he messed with a government auction run by the
Bureau of Land Management in Utah that was auctioning off leases to oil and
gas companies to drill on federal land.
It was December 2008, in the waning days of the Bush administration,
really just the last few days. And DeChristopher was a student at the
University of Utah who showed up to join a protest outside the auction.
But when a woman asked if he was there for the auction, he said yes. And
when she asked if he was a bidder, he said yes again. And then he sat in
that auction and he began to bid against the oil and gas companies for the
right to drill on this federal land.
He bid until he won in some cases. And he bid so that fossil fuel
companies would have to pay more to drill on this incredibly valuable land
that the federal government was basically giving away. And when I say they
were giving it away, I mean they were giving it away. On their way out the
door and as a final gift to fossil fuel companies, Bush officials started a
fire sale on leases to drill on tens of thousands of acres of federal land,
auctioning off leases on the cheap to their buddies with no recriminations
because they were a lame duck administration.
The practice was so egregious that the Obama administration later
stepped in and invalidated the auctions. Obama`s former interior
secretary, Ken Salazar, said that "in the last weeks in office, the Bush
administration rushed ahead to sell oil and gas leases near some of our
nation`s most precious landscapes in Utah."
The auctions were all voided, determined to be corrupt and invalid,
including, get this, the very auction that DeChristopher bid on. But that
did not save him from being sentenced to two years hard time. Tim
DeChristopher just got out of prison. He was released from federal custody
in April. And he joins me now here in studio.
It`s great to have you here.
DECHRISTOPHER: Thanks. It`s great to be here.
HAYES: You`re the subject of a new film called "Bidder 70," which is
about what went on. I want to start with you showing up at this auction as
an activist, a student activist. How did this go down? Why were you at a
protest of a land management -- Bureau of Land Management auction?
DECHRISTOPHER: Well, this particular auction was getting a lot of
attention in Utah at the time because it was kind of a unique situation.
The Bureau of Land Management has these long term resource management plans
that impact the whole region. And these particular lands had always been
off limits throughout previous administrations. And the Bush
administration rewrote those plans. And that`s a long process that it took
them the entire eight years of their administration.
So this was really the first auction under these new plans that opened
up all these lands.
HAYES: So there`s the places. These are sort of part of our natural
endowment. We`re not going to drill on these. These are beautiful,
pristine public lands that we want to save as such. And in the waning
days, the Bush administration said, you know what, you guys can drill on it
and this is the first auction where you`re going to be able to do it.
DECHRISTOPHER: Yes. Yes. So it was both the first auction under
those new plans and the last auction under the Bush administration. And
they expected, falsely, that the next administration would not be as
friendly to the oil industry.
HAYES: You walked in there and you -- someone said are you here to
bid, and you said yes.
HAYES: And you went up there and what happened when you got into this
DECHRISTOPHER: Once I got in there, I saw that I could actually have
an impact with the bidder card that they gave me.
HAYES: Like one of those little like auction placard things?
DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah, yeah. I saw that these parcels were going for
10 dollars an acre, two dollars an acre.
HAYES: Two dollars an acre?
DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah. So I decided that that was just not acceptable.
And I went there with the intention to do whatever I could to stand in the
way of this. Over the course of 2008, I was becoming more and more
concerned about climate change, seeing that what we were doing as a climate
movement wasn`t working, and also studying social movement history and
seeing that it takes people to step past those boundaries and put
themselves on the line to actually create change in this country.
So I was building up the commitment to take that kind of action. And
then I just happened to find this opportunity.
HAYES: So, you bid, you won some parcels. Afterwards, it became
clear that you couldn`t pay for these parcels.
DECHRISTOPHER: Yeah. I mean, I wasn`t trying to be subtle. I was
there as an act of protest. I started -- you just have to raise your bid
card about an inch to get the auctioneers attention. And I started raising
it higher and higher with each parcel that I won, until I was just holding
it up in the air. And I stopped bringing it down in between bids. I was
just holding it up constantly.
Finally, they stopped the auction and took me out. And an officer
said, you know, doesn`t seem like you`re a normal bidder, just wondering
what your intentions are here. And I said my intention is to stand in the
way of this in any way that I can, because it`s a fraud against the
American people and a threat to my future. With that, he was kind of
stunned, and took me into custody. It was a long two and a half year legal
HAYES: When did you realize just how serious this was going to be?
Two years is -- well, I don`t have to tell you that, that`s a lot of time.
DECHRISTOPHER: That`s about what I expected, at the time, when I was
sitting there in the auction, and throughout. You know, that`s what my
lawyers told me like when the government would offer me plea bargains. My
lawyers would say if you don`t take this bargain, you`re probably going to
get convicted and you`re probably going to do about two years.
HAYES: Why didn`t you take a plea bargain?
DECHRISTOPHER: Because I think the role of the jury is really
important in our legal system. I think a lot of the problems with our
justice system stem from the fact that the role of the jury has almost been
eliminated. So I wasn`t comfortable with any solution that didn`t involve
a citizen role in the process.
HAYES: All right. I want to read a quote from the U.S. -- Utah
assistant attorney general, saying "the rule of law is the bedrock of
society." This is during your sentencing recommendations. "The rule of
law is the bedrock of our civilized society, not acts of civil disobedience
committed in the name of the cause of the day." And I think there are
probably people watching this right now who say, hey, look, you broke the
law. Breaking the law is not something to be done lightly.
So I want you to explain to me why you chose to break the law and why
this statement isn`t the right one, right after we take this break.
HAYES: I`m here with climate activist Tim DeChristopher, the subject
of the new documentary film "Bidder 70." Tim is a free man after serving
nearly two years for his protest of a rigged Bureau of Land Management
auction. I read you a quote before we went to break, a prosecutor talking
about civil disobedience, that law is the bedrock of our civilized society,
and not the acts of civil disobedience committed in the name of the cause
of the day.
DECHRISTOPHER: Well, I think if it`s true that the law is the bedrock
of our society, then the bedrock of the law is the shared moral values that
we have as a citizenry. And throughout our history, it`s always civil
disobedience that made the law line up with our shared moral values.
Thomas Jefferson said if I have to choose between citizens playing a role
in the making of laws or the enforcing of them, I would choose having them
involved in the enforcing.
Because the system that was created by our founding fathers was a
system where if our legislature was creating laws that were out of line
with the values of our community, people who felt passionately about that
could choose to not follow those laws, take their case before a jury of
their peers, who had the power to decide whether or not that person was
acting justly and whether or that law was in line with our values. It`s
something that`s played a big role in our history with things like the
Fugitive Slave Act and Prohibition. And it`s part of what was missing from
And that`s not something that should be done lightly. That still
involves a big risk, as it should. This certainly wasn`t a decision that I
made lightly. It was a decision that I made in the face of a global crisis
that is an existential threat to our civilization, one in which our
government was doing nothing in response to.
HAYES: We just passed a benchmark for the carbon in the atmosphere.
There`s now more carbon in the atmosphere than there has been in 800,000
years. Best estimate is probably as far back as three to five million
years. Do you think civil disobedience is still necessary?
DECHRISTOPHER: Absolutely. I think it`s more necessary than ever.
And we`re seeing more of the climate movement embrace civil disobedience as
part of a diverse movement. I think what it means when we`re passing
things like 400 parts per million and we`re already seeing the impacts that
we are with weather impacts and melting ice caps -- you know, what it means
is that it`s too late for any amount of emissions reductions to prevent
catastrophic climate change.
And that means we`re committed to a path of extremely rapid change,
unprecedented rapid change. And for me, looking at that period of
potentially catastrophic change, it really matters who`s in charge. It
matters who`s calling the shots if we`re going down that road. And you
know, going down that road with an educated, empowered citizenry that can
hold our government accountable, that`s certainly a lot of hardships, but
one that we can deal with.
HAYES: You`re making me feel hopeless. And for the people that are
watching this at home who are saying to themselves, look, I care about
this, but I can`t go to prison -- I`m not going to go to prison for two
years. What is the message for people watching this who are not going to
go to prison for two years, who are not going to engage in civil
DECHRISTOPHER: I don`t think everybody in a movement needs to. I
think people need to take a lot of different kinds of actions. And nobody
can tell somebody what that kind of action is, whether it`s me or Bill
McGiven or any leader of any climate group out there.
HAYES: Bill McGiven is a very prominent climate activist who runs a
group called 350 Network.
DECHRISTOPHER: But nobody has ever solved a climate crisis before.
And nobody has ever overthrown corporate power to the degree that we need
to in this country. So nobody has the answers of exactly what kind of
actions are going to work. We can learn from the principles that are clear
throughout social movement history of how people outside of the power
structure have forced changes.
And we need to learn from those principles. But we`re also going to
need a lot of creativity. We`re going to need a lot of people taking
actions, making mistakes, if necessary, but acting knowing that they have a
movement behind them, a movement that`s going to make their actions more
powerful and a movement that`s going to support them and carry them through
That`s something that I`ve learned from my experience. I took this
action alone. But from the next day on, I wasn`t alone anymore. I had
that movement that supported me, that amplified my actions, and that
carried me through it. And that`s really why it`s been such a positive
experience for me.
HAYES: What`s next for you?
DECHRISTOPHER: Well, I`m continuing as an activist. I`m on three
years of probation at this point. And I`m going to spend that three years
at Harvard Divinity School. And I see that really as an extension of my
activism, not a new direction. I think a lot of the obstacles that we`re
facing at this point are in large part spiritual obstacles. I think we`ve
got the resources that we need to tackle these challenges. And we just
need that internal power to rise up and meet that challenge.
HAYES: "Bidder 70," the movie about Tim DeChristopher, is opening in
more theaters around the country this Friday. Tim DeChristopher, thank
you. It`s really a pleasure.
DECHRISTOPHER: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: That`s ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW"
starts now. Good evening, Rachel. Nice to see you again.
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