THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
June 10, 2013
Guests: Glenn Greenwald, Howard Dean
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: OK. Let me get this straight. The NSA is a big
scary surveillance monster that knows everything we do. But it didn`t know
that one of its own contractors was working with Glenn Greenwald on a
massive leak about the NSA?
Tonight, I`ll ask Glenn Greenwald if his own experience is actually
evidence that the NSA isn`t really so scary.
And David Axelrod is here to respond to the accusations against the Obama
EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: I`m no different from anybody else. I`m just
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Opposition to the government`s sweeping
surveillance program now has a public face.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden revealed himself
WAGNER: Ninety-nine-year-old Edward Snowden.
TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: He leaked information about the government
THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: He`s a 29-year-old former technical
assistant for the CIA.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Then he goes over to work for this contractor
for the NSA.
HALL: He landed this job make over $200,000.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC ANALYST: Are his motives pure? I have no idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says he did it because the public needs to know
what`s going on.
BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Big breaking news today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly wasn`t shocked by it.
MAHER: Big break news about something we`ve known for like seven years.
JANSING: Is this guy a criminal or is he a whistleblower?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s not a whistleblower.
WAGNER: Do you think he has credibility as a whistleblower?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t break the law, steal documents, and then me a
run for the border.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I can tell you this. These
programs are within the law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aren`t all the programs that have been revealed
JAMES CLAPPER, DNI: The damage these revelations incur are huge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is U.S. policy. You may disagree with it.
SNOWDEN: I`m no different from anybody else. I`m just another guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The law was broken by one person, who is Mr. Snowden.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Snowden`s treatment may rest on public
O`DONNELL: Glenn Greenwald continues to break news about the National
Security Agency, and he will join me in a moment.
But first, the shocker of the weekend was the secret leaker in the NSA
story broke the mold for leakers and decided to go public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOWDEN: My name`s Ed Snowden. I`m 29 years old. I work for Booz Allen
Hamilton as an infrastructure analyst for NSA in Hawaii.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Edward Snowden spent his first years in Elizabeth City, North
Carolina, and then his family moved to Maryland when he was 9 years old.
He has an unusual background for someone in a position of trust in the
intelligence community. He was a high school dropout, but he did obtain a
GED. He spent less than a year in the army reserve. Snowden says he was
discharged after breaking his legs in a training accident.
He first worked for the NSA as a security guard. He then got an
information technology job with the CIA. According to "The Guardian,"
Snowden worked at the NSA for the last four years as an employee of various
outside contractors, including Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton where he last
made about $200,000 a year.
This is the way Edward Snowden described why he decided to leak NSA
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOWDEN: When you`re in positions of privileged access like a systems
administrator for these sort of intelligence community agencies, you`re
exposed to a lot more information on a broader scale than the average
employee. And because of that, you see things that may be disturbing. But
over the course of a normal person`s career, you only see one or two
instances. When you see everything, you see them more on a frequent basis
and you recognize that some of these things are actually abuses.
And when you talk to people about them in a place like this where this is
the normal state of business, people tend not to take them very seriously
and move on from them. But over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of
builds up and you feel compelled to talk about it. And the more you talk
about it, the more you`re ignored, the more you`re told it`s not a problem.
Until eventually, you realize that these things need to be determined by
the public, not by somebody who was simply hired by the government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Here`s how Snowden described what the NSA actually does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOWDEN: NSA and the intelligence community in general is focus on getting
intelligence wherever it can by any means possible, that it believes on the
grounds of a sort of self-certification that they serve the national
interest. Originally, we saw that focus very narrowly tailored as foreign
intelligence gathered overseas. Now, increasingly we see that it`s
And to do that they -- the NSA specifically targets the communications of
everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system, and
it filters them and it analyzes them and it measures them and it stores
them for periods of time simply because that`s the easiest, most efficient
and most valuable way to achieve these ends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Hong Kong, "The Guardian`s" Glenn
Greenwald, who broke this story.
Glenn, I`ve been wondering as the story`s developed that given that the
NSA, as you`re portraying it, knows everything, sees everything -- how is
it in that environment that you were able to communicate internationally
over a period of time with someone working as a contractor for the NSA
right under their noses?
I mean, isn`t what you`ve pulled off here, this successful leak, evidence
that the NSA really doesn`t know everything that we are suggesting it
GLENN GREENWALD, THE GUARDIAN: Unfortunately, I wish that were true,
Lawrence. Unfortunately, it isn`t.
When he first contacted me back in February, the first thing that he
insisted that I do was to install extremely sophisticated encryption
technology that would allow us to communicate by e-mail and online chat.
One of the very few ways that makes it difficult for the NSA to intervene
in communications. You have to have a very high level sophistication to be
able to do that, to operate it, something that I don`t have. And it
actually delayed for quite some time our ability to communicate.
So if you go to extreme lengths that the world`s greatest programmers and
cryptologist experts have in order to install and figure out how to do
programming, maybe you can stay a step ahead of the NSA for some time. But
anyone who isn`t doing that is going to have their communications monitored
and stored. And that`s the only way that he would end up talking to me and
did end up talking to me.
O`DONNELL: What about the NSA`s hiring and contracting practices?
Clearly, they would not have wanted Snowden working for them if they knew
then what they know now about him. And obviously, they`re not really
screening who gets to work close to this material very closely.
GREENWALD: Well, I mean, I`m not so sure that`s true. If you look at his
history, I mean, he`s exactly the kind of person that you would want
working for you if you`re in the intelligence community. The first thing
that he did after he got out of -- he actually didn`t complete high school
but would have completed high school, was he enlisted in Army training to
join the Special Forces to go fight in the Iraq war because he thought that
war was so noble.
And he was quickly disabused of that belief, but he then went to work for
the NSA and the CIA after that. He had devoted himself to serving his
country. And it was only over time when he began to realize just how
pervasive the surveillance state is, how secretive it is, how without
accountability it is, did he start gradually having his eyes open about
what this national security apparatus really does and felt compelled to
step forward and do something about it.
But that is the key. When you have this sprawling system and there are
20,000 employees at the NSA but many other tens of thousands working for
private contractors, collecting enormous amounts of data, it`s an
unaccountable, uncontrollable system. You`re going to give access to huge
numbers of people to the most sensitive communications data and other forms
of information about people. There`s no way to prevent abuse. That`s one
of the lessons here.
O`DONNELL: And he`s kind of low level. I`m reading what he told you about
what he did there. Every one of his titles, Glenn, is simply a technical -
- he`s an IT guy. He says he`s a systems engineer. Then he was a systems
administrator, senior adviser for solutions, and a telecommunications
information systems officer.
But at the same time, at the same time as giving you a bio that`s basically
an IT guy, he claimed to have very powerful authority. Let`s listen to
what authority he claimed he had.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOWDEN: I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap
anyone, from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the
president if I had a personal e-mail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now, Glenn, he does not mean, does he, that he had the legal
authority to do that. He is simply saying because I had IT access, I could
get into anything I wanted to get into, much like, say, people working in
the IRS used to be able to just look at your tax return if they felt like
it, even though were not authorized to do it, the IRS has since controlled
that. But he`s not saying he in any way could legally possibly been given
that authority by anyone at the NSA to look at President Obama`s e-mail?
GREENWALD: Precisely, Lawrence. And you`re making the important point.
It`s the point that he`s making. It`s the point that he wants everyone to
understand, which is that even though he is a relatively low-level, not
even an employee of the NSA, private contractor, he has been given -- by
authority he means -- he`s authorized to access these data bases and these
technologies, and that there are tens of thousands of people in the NSA who
are not accountable, who are authorized to do the same.
Everyone should go right now who`s listening, go onto Google and Google
2008 ABC News NSA abuse. And you will find stories there about low-level
NSA analysts who abused these technologies to listen in on the
conversations that soldiers were having with their girlfriends, that people
they knew were having with one another internationally. It is a system
that is begging for abuse because it`s all in secrecy. We don`t really
know what it is that it`s doing.
But his point is that this apparatus is sucking up every communication,
every telephone call, every e-mail so that at any time any of these people
at these terminals can go in and invade these conversations because it
doesn`t have sufficient oversight and it`s ubiquitous -- the surveillance
that they`re doing.
O`DONNELL: But, Glenn, I don`t think we can attack a systems mission
because someone working in that system like Snowden is willing to actually
violate the rules of the system.
For example, my bank, there are people working at my bank who can go and
look at exactly what`s going on in every one of my bank accounts whenever
they feel like it because they just saw me on TV and they said I wonder how
much money he has in check. They can go do that. They`re not supposed.
It doesn`t mean that my bank is a bad bank because someone working there
violates the rules, same thing with everything else that private companies
-- like Gmail, for example, anybody working at the e-mail facilities at
Google, all these places, they can go look at the people`s e-mail who are
writing those e-mail if they want to, if they want to break the rules and
GREENWALD: Right. Well, first of all, he didn`t actually break the rules.
He didn`t say that he has gone in and invaded other people`s communications
that he shouldn`t have been looking. He was making the point that he had
the ability to do so as a way of warning us.
But I think that your question raises the important point. Look, I mean,
we have to have a banking system. We have to have e-mail.
We don`t have to have a government that is collecting all of this
information about us. This is a choice that we have as citizens about
whether we want the government to be doing this.
We have a history in this country that we can look to. Go and look at the
Church Committee report of the mid 1970s, with which I know you`re
obviously familiar. And what it found is when you empower politicians and
law enforcement officials to gather massive amounts of information about
people and don`t provide sufficient transparency and oversight to how
they`re using it, they will abuse it.
It`s J. Edgar Hoover`s FBI followed Martin Luther King around, read his
mail, listened to his conversations, found out about what they thought were
adulterous relationships and tried to use it to discredit him and even
encourage him to commit suicide.
What he`s trying to say is that we should be debating whether we want to
have a government that is in the business of collecting huge amounts of
extremely invasive information about not terrorists or people suspected of
wrongdoing but all Americans. And think about the potential for abuse that
has, the inevitability of abuse that has.
And even if you`re right, Lawrence, at the end of the day we decide we do
want that, at the very least, we should have way more transparency and
checks and accountability on how this is done and what is being done, which
is the reason that we decided to write these stories, so that we could
start a debate and make Americans aware of what this apparatus is actually
O`DONNELL: Yes, I mean, you know, Glenn, my feeling so far is in
everything I -- and I`ve been slow to react to it because I want to take in
as much as possible. But so far, I`m not scared. So far I haven`t heard a
single thing about what the government has collected on me that isn`t also
collected by a bunch of private companies.
And the fact that the government is collecting it at such a gigantic
massive level means that it`s even harder for the government to find me in
this giant amount of data that they have. And they have absolutely no
incentive to find me.
And so, I at this stage feel completely unthreatened by this. I understand
every point you`re making on principle. I get the principle. And my
reaction to it in the practice is I am at this point unthreatened by it.
But, Glenn, one more thing before we go here. You have said that there are
people who tried to sue the NSA and their suits were dismissed because they
didn`t have standing. And based on some things I`ve heard you say in the
last 24 hours, I`m starting to think that one of the next things you have
coming out is you`re going to release the names of people that the NSA has
specifically been looking at so that they actually can have standing to go
to court and sue.
GREENWALD: We would not ever publish the names of people that the NSA has
spied upon because one of two things could happen. Either they are
actually guilty of doing bad things, in which case you tip them off to the
fact they`re being surveilled or they`re actually innocent of all
wrongdoing and then you make it seem as if they`re guilty by publishing
their names. So, we`re not going to be doing that.
But the fact that there are these names out there means that they do have
evidence to show they have been surveilled and therefore can sue.
O`DONNELL: Well, Glenn, I have the feeling you are going to be breaking
more news. This is not the last night of breaking news with Glenn
Greenwald, is it?
GREENWALD: You`re correct about that, Lawrence. There are certainly lots
more stories that need to be covered and we intend to cover them
O`DONNELL: All right. Come back with it on your next one. Glenn, thank
you very much for joining me tonight.
Coming up -- David Axelrod will be next.
O`DONNELL: Nelson Mandela is in a South Africa hospital tonight undergoing
treatment for a serious lung infection. The Nobel laureate and former
South African president has been in intensive care for three days. Current
South African President Jacob Zuma and fellow Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond
Tutu both issued calls for prayer for Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela is 94 years old.
Up next, David Axelrod joins me to respond to the recent leaks about the
national security agency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOWDEN: I`m no different from anybody else. I don`t have special skills.
I`m just another guy who sits there day to day in the office, watches what
-- what`s happening and goes: this is something that`s not our place to
decide. The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are
right or wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, former senior adviser to President Obama and
MSNBC political analyst, David Axelrod.
David, you`re not just a regular guy when it comes to this story. You sat
with the president. You saw the way this kind of information is processed
in the White House.
What concerns and worries do you share with Edward Snowden about the way
this government collects information? Where are the risks in the way this
government collects information?
DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRES. OBAMA: Well, look, this
whole issue of how intelligence is gathered in these kinds of situations is
a concern, and that`s why when the president came to office he imposed
additional safeguards in terms of more briefings of Congress.
There`s no -- you know, I listened to Glenn speak. There`s no -- there are
no warrantless sort of -- there aren`t people sitting at their desks and
invading people`s privacy, at least legally. And I mean, the law would
prohibit exactly what Snowden suggested. The law requires any such
activity involving an American citizen, requires a warrant, as it should.
And so, you have inspector generals in the executive branch. You have the
courts. And then you have the Congress overseeing this. And you know, we
should be vigilant about it because there are legitimate concerns.
But I also -- the other experience I had, Lawrence, was sitting there every
day aware of real threats. And I was there, for example, when the Zazi
case was going on. The fellow in Colorado who traveled to New York as part
of a conspiracy to blow up the New York subway system.
The only way he was detected was through the use of these -- of these
programs. If not for these programs, he may well have been successful and
we would have had the worst terrorist attack since 9/11.
So I hear Glenn. I hear what he`s saying. But all of -- you know, there`s
no evidence that what the FBI was doing in the `60s is what`s going on
here. There`s no evidence of any of this. There are safeguards that have
been built in and more since this president took office.
But the question is what is the real threat? You say you`re not
particularly scared about what you heard. But there is a legitimate fear
about terrorist attacks. And the question is what we as a country are
willing to do and willing to sacrifice for it.
And as the president said on Friday, and I agree with him, the kinds of
intrusions that this program suggests are not so profound as to be worth
the risk on the other side. But this is the balancing act a president has
O`DONNELL: Well, David, if you were holding a cell phone in your hand 20
years ago, you knew that there were people driving along in their car
radios who could hear your cell phone call. This stuff did not originate
as secure communication. And so, if you have a long enough history with
this technology, you never should have been trusting it as some kind of
secure thing to begin with.
And so, it`s a little bit harder to create a fear in me about what`s being
gathered through these systems when I never considered them secure to begin
with. And I think that`s true for a lot of Americans.
I want to read you a "USA Today" story. And I was struck by it. Bill
Maher read this Friday night. And it`s a "USA Today" story from 2006 that
I think we can -- it has an echo that we can all remember.
"The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call
records of tens of millions of Americans using data provided by AT&T,
Verizon, and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement
told `USA Today.` The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across
the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans,
most of whom aren`t suspected of any crime."
Now, David, I read that sort of thing back in 2006. And I am not so
terribly surprised by what we`ve been learning this week because of what we
learned back then.
AXELROD: But the difference between now and 2005 and 2006 is that there
are additional safeguards built in. There is additional legislative
review. There is a requirement that if any action is taken on the basis of
these records -- and remember, they`re not listening to calls. They have
no idea what the content of these calls is.
They`re just -- computers are amassing all these numbers to try and put
puzzles together as to who overseas might be in touch with someone in the
U.S. who might be plotting against us. So, none of that implies that
people are listening to your calls.
But if the government has a lead, then they have to go get a warrant from
the FISA court to pursue that. There are a lot of safeguards here.
My question is -- of Mr. Snowden is, he could have gone to the Congress.
He could have gone to the inspector general. This is a peculiar route he
took. I mean, he`s a whistleblower who then blew the country and --
O`DONNELL: I`ve got to say, David, the one thing I accept from him is the
notion that if he had tried in any way to make headway with this
internally, he would have gotten nowhere. And I am virtually certain of
that, that he would have gotten nowhere internally. He made a very big
life decision to go in what is a criminal direction with it.
AXELROD: But, Lawrence, you know that there are a couple of senators,
Wyden and Udall, who`ve been critical --
O`DONNELL: But, David, they weren`t getting anywhere. They`d go out on
the Senate floor and they weren`t getting anywhere because they couldn`t
say publicly what they knew. So, they couldn`t get anywhere either.
AXELROD: But he certainly could have talked to them. I`m not quite --
look, let`s leave that issue aside. But I mean, there are -- there are
peculiarities about this. One of them you pointed out, the notion he said
-- he did say he had the authorities to tap anyone`s phone. He didn`t have
the authorities. And I`ll leave it to others to discover as to whether he
actually had the capacity.
He also said later in the interview that he had the names and locations of
every operative all over the world. You know, maybe he does. I don`t know
if that`s the facts.
O`DONNELL: But he actually said at one point that he knew everything.
Now, that sounds like a pretty grandiose statement to me. I don`t think
it`s possible for a human being to know everything that`s happening in the
AXELROD: I`ve met a few people in politics who thought that, but I --
O`DONNELL: But one final note, David, before I let you go. It seems that
at the base of this story also is this is what elections are about. And we
discovered this in the 1960s, when we had the nuclear bomb. And Barry
Goldwater seemed to be a presidential candidate willing to use it. And
that destroyed his candidacy.
The public realized, we are going to entrust nuclear weaponry to this
president, and they decided we cannot entrust to this president the power
with nuclear weaponry. We now are revealing to the public there is a lot
of other powers in the presidency that you are entrusting to someone in an
election. And this looks to me like something that the public should at
minimum take very seriously when they vote on which one of these
presidential candidates do you want to entrust, safeguarding this kind of
AXELROD: I think that`s true. But I also think that we as a country have
to build in safeguards so no president can hijack the system and misuse it
for their own purposes. And that`s why having legislative review, that`s
why having the FISA court as an oversight on this process, that`s why
having an inspector general -- all of those things.
You know, they have audits, they have a series of things that are built in,
that have been built in in the last few years because, you know, I have
great faith in the president. I worked with him. I know him very well. I
I have no doubt that this program has been executed, you know, in an
appropriate way under his -- under his leadership. I don`t know what`s
going to happen with the next president or the president after that. And I
think that`s why he felt so strongly about building in some additional
safeguards, because you don`t want the executive to have unfettered power.
O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
AXELROD: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up -- murder on a college campus, once again. That`s in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I`ve said that by Friday if the
chairman doesn`t want to release them like he promised, like he promised,
what we will do is we will do the redactions and then submit them to the
public a to the media so that you all can make your own judgment. There`s
nothing in those transcripts that I`m afraid of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s Elijah Cummings, the senior Democratic on the House
oversight and government reform committee, the committee chaired by Darrell
Elijah Cummings is daring the chairman to release the transcripts of
interviews the committee staff has done with IRS workers in the Cincinnati
office where a 501c4 applications were processed. Darrell Issa has
previously quoted very selectively from those interviews but he has refused
to publicly release those interviews. Among the facts Darrell Issa has
refused to release but congressman Cummings has now revealed, the IRS
manager who supervised the team of screeners that evaluates applications
for tax-exempt status in Cincinnati has 21 years of experience at the IRS
and he described himself to the Republican committee staff as quote "a
conservative Republican." The IRS manager also said, quote "I do not
believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than
consistency in identifying cases that needed to have further development."
When asked if he was aware of any political motivations behind the
screenings, screening centralizing and development of tea party cases, he
said he was not. When asked if he had any reason to believe that anyone in
the White House was involved in the decision to screen tea party cases, he
said he did not.
Joining me now are Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and DNC chairman,
and Richard Wolffe, executive editor of MSNBC.com.
Howard Dean, well, I guess that does it. We`ve just heard from the guy
running things at the Cincinnati office. He`s a conservative Republican.
And he said no, no, no, the White House wasn`t telling me what to do.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: Yes. The interesting thing about
this is first of all, Elijah Cummings has been a very courageous
congressman for a long time. He leads with what he thinks is right, which
is a reasonably unusual quality in Congress these days. And Darrell Issa
is basically a fraud. I mean, Darrell Issa is a propagandist who instead
of doing his job for the United States government the way he`s paid to do
thinks this is all about politics. And it isn`t. And he`s about to be
undressed by the ranking member. And I think it`s great. It`s about time
somebody told the truth in Washington. And Elijah Cummings is telling the
O`DONNELL: You know, the information is revealing things that I thought
was reasonable all along, that people thought, you know, in the hearings in
some of the media thought was so terrible. I want to read something, an
interview from one of the screeners who worked for that conservative
Republican manager. And the screener explained why he started using the
search term "Patriots."
He said, "I used patriots because some of the tea parties wouldn`t -- they
would shorten their name to TP patriots. I thought OK, I will use Patriot.
And I would see TP Patriots."
Richard Wolffe, that`s from a guy whose job it is to evaluate how much
politics your 501c4 is going to engage in. That strikes me as a perfectly
reasonable search term.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Especially because they
weren`t targeting them for their politics. They were targeting them
because they were pretending to be educational institution that`s were
eligible for tax-free status when they were really political groups. And
of course in this period what were the largest number of new political
groups coming up but of course the tea party groups.
You know, there was a lot of Republican commentary advice at the time these
hearings first came about where people like Charles Krauthammer and others
said let the facts speak for themselves. Darrell Issa, don`t go out there
and play politics, let the facts speak for themselves. And here these
transcripts are speaking very, very loudly and they might speak even more
loudly if we saw them all.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, this is so Washington, this whole thing, where you
know, we start the big investigation, and they`re just not willing to
recognize that what they`re finding doesn`t line up with their initial
accusations. And you know, it was a perfectly legitimate investigation to
launch if they would launched it with an open mind. And they could have
come across this information and not had to suppress it the way Issa seems
to be doing. But now Issa`s not interested in getting out the information
that his own staff went out there and found.
DEAN: Well, it`s interesting. Darrell Issa has a history of this kind of
stuff. He was a force behind the recall election of Gray Davis when Gray
Davis was recalled from the governorship. Darrell Issa desperately wanted
to run for governor and he was pushed aside by the Republican party
precisely because of this kind of stuff.
What Darrell Issa is serving Darrell Issa in the Republican party. It`s
not serving the people of the United States. This is a consistent theme
throughout the right wing. They always give you part of the evidence and
tell a story. They think the story is more important than the evidence.
Fortunately, the American people have gotten pretty smart about this, which
is why the so-called IRS scandal is not going anywhere. Because they
strongly suspect that the Republicans are going to do this again and again
and again. And it gives them less and less credibility.
O`DONNELL: "The New York Times"/CBS did a poll today where it asked the
public to simply guess, just guess what happened at the IRS. And those
guesses apparently are newsworthy. And the guesses are that 68 percent
said that the IRS did this for political reasons, 19 percent said they did
it because it was the right policy, and 14 percent honest respondents said
they simply did not know.
But Richard Wolffe, so this is now newsworthy, what the public guesses
about an investigation that isn`t even actually complete.
WOLFFE: Right. Yes, it`s not v enlightening. And look, the IRS, we all
know, the IRS has no friends. So those numbers aren`t surprising. There
is a tiny hint of irony in all of this which if you kind of strip await
pieces of the story you would say that people were afraid of a branch of
government acting out of public view for purely partisan reasons and in
fact that pretty much describes what Darrell Issa`s been up to.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for joining me
WOLFFE: Thank you.
DEAN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Joey Reid joins me live from Florida with the latest
on the trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin.
And in the "rewrite" tonight, another day, another mass murder in America.
This one was close to home.
O`DONNELL: A Houston group thinks it`s found a way to make America a
better place. Free shotguns for everyone, especially women. The group,
the armed citizens project, gave free shotguns to 35 residents in a
neighborhood of Houston. After those residents passed a background check
and a firearms course. The group plans to expand into other cities and
describes itself as dedicated to training and arming vulnerable women.
It turns out few things make a woman more vulnerable than owning a gun. A
study of gun ownership and homicide rates show that a woman with a gun in
her home was nearly three times more likely to be murdered.
Up next, our latest mass murder was able to get an assault weapon and all
the ammunition he needed thanks to the national rifle association. America
seems to be taking this latest mass murder in stride. But it`s next in the
O`DONNELL: On Friday, Laura Sisk knew President Obama was in town just a
couple of miles away when she saw a man dressed in black carrying an
assault weapon. He looked like he was a member of a SWAT team. For a
second she thought maybe he was with the president`s security team. Then
the man jumped in her Mazda and said, you`re going to drive me to Santa
Monica college and let me out. She begged him to take the car himself, and
he said, "no. You`re driving." Later she told the "Los Angeles times" "he
told me to calm down. You`ll be all right," Sisk said. "He said he would
let me go if I didn`t do anything stupid." And he did. He let her go.
After he got to Santa Monica College. On the way to Santa Monica college
he fired a blizzard of bullets at a bus. A woman sitting in the back row
of the bus was grazed in the head by a bullet. And when the gunman arrived
at Santa Monica College, he opened fire on a Ford explorer, killing the
driver immediately and wounding his passenger. The driver of the explorer
was a 22-year employee of Santa Monica college, 68-year-old Carlos Franco.
Tended the grounds at this urban college, attended by many full-time
students with full-time jobs.
Sitting beside Carlos in the explorer was his youngest daughter, Marcella,
26-years-old. She was badly wounded and rushed to the hospital a few
minutes later, after Santa Monica police and campus police closed in on the
gunman in the library. The police shot and killed him.
The police soon discovered that America`s latest mass murderer had begun
his rampage by killing his father and his brother in their home less than a
mile from Santa Monica college. He then set the home on fire before
hijacking Laura Sisk`s Mazda.
As he lay dead on the ground of the campus of Santa Monica college, police
discovered the mass murderer had 1,300 bullets with him. The portrait of
the mass murder that appeared over the weekend had those familiar
characteristics that we`ve come to expect after the mass murders in Tucson,
Arizona, Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut.
Friends said this one was an emotionally unstable 23-year-old. One
neighbor described him as angry man whose rage could make his voice boom
through the walls of home. A family friend said he had a fascination with
guns. We were all worried about it.
And thanks to the National Rifle Association, that`s all you can do in this
country when you have an angry, emotionally unstable neighbor who is
fascinated with guns. All you can do is worry about it because the NRA has
made sure that your angry unstable neighbor will have no trouble getting
his hands on the most murderous weapons that exist and unlimited amounts of
ammunition. And the NRA has made sure that the day your angry, unstable,
heavily armed neighbor is overwhelmed by homicidal urges the question is
not will he kill anyone. The question is how many people will he kill?
Friday it was four. Four people killed in ten minutes by America`s latest
mass murder before he was killed by the police. Bringing Friday`s death
toll to five. But the death story didn`t end there. This weekend, when
Carlos Franco`s family was reeling in grief from his murder, they were
huddled at the hospital making difficult decisions about the treatment of
his daughter, Marcela. Marcela is the family`s middle child. The parents`
youngest child and only son Carlos was killed just two years ago in a car
On Sunday Marcela`s older sister, Leticia, and her mother, Ramona, had to
make the most painful decision of their lives when the doctors advised them
that there was nothing more they could do to save Marcela, who never
regained consciousness after the shooting. And on Sunday they decided to
take Marcela off of life support.
26-year-old Ryan Paine never left Marcela`s side this weekend before she
died. Ryan and Marcela had been dating for about a month. He told the
"Los Angeles Times," "it`s been the best month of my life."
This is the second times this year that mass murder has come to my town.
First my home town with the Boston marathon bombers and now to Santa
Monica, where I live now. I spent a lot of time on the Santa Monica
college campus. My daughter grew up using the swimming pool there. I have
friends who work there. Some who are students there. And so once again
after a mass murder I had to make a bunch of phone calls to make sure
everyone I know was OK.
Graduation will proceed as scheduled tomorrow at Santa Monica college at
6:00 p.m., but this time it will be part memorial service. A student told
the "Los Angeles times" today, we drove by our school today, and it was an
eerie feeling. Everything looks the same, but it is not the same.
I drove by the school yesterday too. And everything does look the same.
But the students and faculty who were at Santa Monica college on Friday
will never be the same. Now they`re not just students and teachers. They
are survivors. Survivors of America`s latest mass murder.
O`DONNELL: Jury selection for the murder trial of George Zimmerman began
this morning. That George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin is not
in dispute. George Zimmerman claims self-defense. Trayvon Martin was not
armed, but he was carrying and tea and a bag of skittles, which today a FOX
News analyst theorized could have been used as weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re spinning a lot of hypothetical and you could
break a bottle of iced tea, right? With a jagged edge. And you could kill
somebody with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Trayvon Martin was carrying a can, not a bottle of iced tea.
And the last time someone with a can of iced tea used it to kill a man with
a gun was never. Up next, Joy Reid joins us live from Florida for the
latest on the trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: We are relieved that the start of
the trial is here with the jury selection. As we seek justice for our son,
Trayvon. And we also seek a fair and impartial trial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin`s Father, this morning on
day one of George Zimmerman`s murder trial. Today, the prosecution and the
defense asked 100 potential jurors to fill out a questionnaire and then had
one-on-one interviews with only four of the potential jurors. They will
eventually impanel a jury of six plus four alternates.
George Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for the killing of
17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February of 2012. George Zimmerman says that
he killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense. George Zimmerman has sued NBC
universal, the parent company of this network, for defamation. The company
has strongly denied his allegations.
Joining me now, MSNBC`s Joy Reid.
Joy, you were there in Florida today on the first day of the trial. Is
this case going to take a couple of years? We had interviews with four
jurors today. Did any of those four actually get impaneled as a juror?
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we`re not quite there yet,
Lawrence. You know, there is a 500-member jury pool. So it could take a
while. But you know, I think that the prosecution and the defense
obviously know what they`re looking for, or what they`re looking to
exclude. And they do have a certain number of automatic challenges. Like
people they think are sort of obviously biased in the case. And so, you`re
starting to see kind of what they`re looking for in these questions.
Questioning somebody who`s a parent that has children about the same age as
Trayvon Martin. Asking people what is your source of news, which is an
interesting question because I had wondered whether or not sort of looking
at where you get your news, which cable network, for instance, because it
tells you something about ideology. And this case has become ideological.
So each of them is sort of playing a chess game to try to get just the
right jury for their case.
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at George Zimmerman`s lawyer asking one of
the jurors questions and show you the kind of thing that gets developed in
this question and answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S LAWYER: Anything else that you`ve talked
about with other people about this case in the last couple of weeks?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Not really.
O`MARA: You should never, ever say "not really" to a lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I know.
My girlfriend had her opinion about it. And she thinks that -- she told me
she thought that Mr. Zimmerman should have stayed in his car and that could
have alleviated the whole thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So Joy, there`s a juror that the prosecution wants and the
REID: Exactly. Right. And the thing is that of course Mark O`Mara, the
lawyer for George Zimmerman, has done a lot to put a lot into the
bloodstream out there. A lot of information he`s put out on the defense
Web site. So, it`s just interesting to see him then querying people as to
what they know about the case.
And you know what? Look. The reality is Lawrence, there are very few
people, especially in Seminole county who don`t know a lot about this case.
This case has been heavily covered, particularly people in Sanford, which
is the county seat for Seminole county. So they`re trying to find this
combination of people who`ve heard about the case but haven`t formed an
opinion, and this is that -- the person you that just looked at was
somebody who well, their girlfriend formed an opinion. So what does that
say about them? It`s all very complicated. And now the defense has
actually hired a jury selection expert to even add to the chess moves.
O`DONNELL: Joy, in my experience girlfriends are very influential on --
REID: Whatever they think.
O`DONNELL: -- men`s opinions. Yes. And I think both sides in that
courtroom know that today.
Joy Reid, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
REID: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: Good evening from New
York. I`m Chris Hayes. Thank you for joining us.
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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL