THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 11, 2013
Guests: Cecile Richards, Jeff Merkley
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
This is Belzoni, Mississippi, and this picture was taken in 1939.
It`s an African-American man, apparently going to the movies. You can see
him there in the hat, right? See him sort of in silhouette. Below him,
written on the side of the stairs outside the theater, it says colored
admission, 10 cents.
Because this man is black in Belzoni, Mississippi, in 1939, he has to
use a separate door and he has to sit way up in the balcony. In
Mississippi now, of course, and everywhere in the country, theaters are
integrated and today, this man could sit anywhere he wants.
But this particular theater is gone. There is no regular place to go
see a movie in Belzoni, Mississippi, anymore.
This is an attempt to buy lunch at a Woolworth`s lunch counter in 1960
in Greensboro, North Carolina. This was the first of the 1960s lunch
Today, in our more integrated country, Americans of any race could sit
down and order, even take their time going over the menu in a place like
this. Except for the fact that that store where those particular
protesters wanted to eat back in 1960, that store closed a long time ago.
Finally, a few years ago, civil rights museum able to open in what had
been the long vacant old storefront from that Woolworth`s.
And here we have another attempt to buy lunch. This time at the
Woolworth`s in Jackson, Mississippi, the state capital. This was in 1963.
This time, the group included white people and African-Americans sitting
down together at that lunch counter in violation of both the unofficial
social code and the official law, and bringing upon themselves the outrage
and ridicule and abuse of the mob that gathered around them.
Today, that same mix-raced group could eat in that same Woolworth`s
without fearing for their safety because that place, like all American
restaurants, would be an integrated restaurant now. They put a historic
marker at that site just the other day, 50 years of the sit-in at that
Woolworth`s in Jackson, Mississippi.
But I says they put a marker at the site, instead at that store,
because as you can see from this picture, the store is gone -- in its place
is a bunch of redeveloped stuff including a parking garage. That place
with all the restaurants crowded around in that neighborhood, not just the
Woolworth`s, that place is gone.
The Southern part of the United States did get forced to abolish its
segregation laws, but it was a bloody, bloody fight. Throughout the old
confederacy, white people were asked first as a matter of conscience, and
then finally they were ordered as a matter of justice to integrate on
And when the white people who had control of the laws and the
government and the schools and the businesses, when the fight to hold on to
segregation laws was a lost fight and they knew they had no choice but to
integrate the society they lived in, in many cases, instead of going
through with that and living through that kind of change, a lot of them
just decided to quit that society. They gave up public pools and public
schools and in some cases movie theaters. They gave up whole cities and
moved away. They called it white flight, right?
The census from 1960, for instance, records a Jackson, Mississippi,
that was majority white. Almost two to one. By 1990, Jackson`s population
had made the turn toward getting smaller and it was getting much blacker.
By 2010, Jackson, Mississippi, had become the second most African-American
city in the nation.
White people in the previously legally segregated South, and really
across the nation, abandoned places rather than see them change. But white
people were not the only ones who moved away.
From roughly the First World War through the 1970s, our country
experienced what they call the "Great Migration". That`s a term that
refers specifically in this country to a great migration of people whose
parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were slaves in the South,
because even though slavery had technically ended as a lawful practice in
this country, it was replaced in the South with sharecropping and Jim Crow
segregation enforced by violence and by disenfranchisement.
So, all of those many descendants of slaves picked up and moved, moved
to the North for the relative, if imperfect freedom to be found in places
like Chicago and Oakland and Detroit and D.C. and New York. People who
could leave left, by the millions, 6 million African-Americans emigrated
out of the South in the Great Migration, from the 19-teens through the
1970s, 6 million.
And Isabel Wilkerson`s history of the "Great Migration", it`s called
"The Warmth of Other Suns", she writes about how so many African-Americans
were leaving the South during that migration that white farmers and
business owners in the South in some cases tried to pass laws to get black
people to stay put because where else were they going to get cheap labor if
they lost disenfranchised discriminated against African-American population
who had no choice but to work for next to nothing?
We know from historical records that the African-Americans who left
the South over the course of the "Great Migration", they came from a whole
range of socioeconomic backgrounds. But as it got on toward the 1950s, as
we were several decades into that migration, the people who by then were
leaving tended to be those who were at the higher end of the spectrum,
tended to be those who had the benefit of education, who had the means to
seek out and have a hope of getting new jobs in new states that they were
going to move to.
An education offered a way out, and a lot of Americans who had that,
who were well-educated and who knew they would have reasonably good
prospects if they could get themselves to elsewhere in this country, with
less discrimination, a lot of those people left because they could, but
some of the stayed.
And one of those people who definitely had the means to leave, the
means to leave and the prospects to leave, but who stayed instead was this
man, Mr. Medgar Evers, who was born in Mississippi in 1925. Medgar Evers
served in World War II. After the war, right around the time he turned 30,
Mr. Evers tried to attend the law school at the University of Mississippi
at Ole Miss. But Ole Miss was not yet integrated and the school turned him
town on the basis of his race.
He then became the first field secretary in his state for the NAACP.
And at that time that was a job that was not some kind of metaphor for
bravery, it was the soul of bravery. Right at the outset of Mr. Evers`
work in Mississippi, a 14-year-old boy was kidnapped off the porch of a
store in a town called Money, Mississippi. He was taken in retaliation for
him whistling or flirting or maybe just speaking to a woman who was white.
The kid, Emmett Till, was black, and he was 14 years old. He was
tortured, and shot, and his body was dumped into the Tallahassee River.
One local law enforcement hesitated to prosecute anybody for the
murder, it was Medgar Evers who took it upon himself to investigate that
crime personally. The woman whom Medgar Evers married said her husband
dressed in disguise when he was doing that investigation. He dressed as a
field hand on his trips to collect evidence for that crime. He was known
to drive 100 miles an hour to get safely out of town and to try to shake
anybody who was following him.
That`s what it took to be the field secretary for the NCAAP in
Mississippi in 1955. Medgar Evers was brave like that.
He worked for voting rights in Mississippi before there was a Voting
Rights Act. When registering to vote or trying to vote meant risking your
life and it particularly meant risking your life if you were trying to
persuade others that they should register, that they should vote.
Mr. Evers led boycotts of businesses that would not hire black workers
or treat black customers equally. When Mississippians decided to try to
integrate their lunch counters by just sitting down at one, no matter what,
just taking what was rained down on them for doing it, Medgar Evers made
that protest possible in some major ways. He organized that sit-in at the
Woolworth`s lunch counter in 1963.
Medgar Evers is just one of those key American who at a key time in
our country was willing to upset the way things had been so he could get
everybody to the way things ought to be. He saw that as possible in the
very difficult place where he lived in his very difficult own time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEDGAR EVERS, CIVIL RIGHTS ICON: Now for many of us who`ve gone
overseas and fought for this country, and fought for Mississippi, we fought
for Alabama, we fought for North Carolina, we fought for Illinois, and we
fought for every state in this Union. Now, we`re going to stay here and
see that the things that the mayor has said become a reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Medgar Evers stayed in Jim Crow Mississippi, although he
would have left. It`s not that it was wrong to leave, but he felt for him
it would be wrong to leave.
And so, that is where he was. He was in Mississippi 50 years ago
today, 50 years ago tonight.
Fifty years ago was the day that Alabama`s governor stood in the door
at the University of Alabama and blocked the door with his body so that
African-American students could not come in. It was the day that President
Kennedy pleaded with the nation for a Civil Rights Act 50 years ago today.
And 50 years ago tonight, just after midnight, with the Woolworth`s
mob still fresh in the headlines and the reports of the Alabama governor in
the schoolhouse door and President Kennedy making that speech on civil
rights, with those reports not yet published in the morning papers, after
midnight, 50 years ago, Medgar Evers was killed. Mr. Evers was gunned down
in his driveway in Jackson, Mississippi, when he pulled up to his house
after an NAACP meeting had run late.
The Evers had taught their kids to drop to the floor at the sound of
gunfire. And after they heard the shots that night, hit the floor, they
got up and opened the door, there was Medgar Evers, husband, father, dying.
His car keys were still in his hand along with a stack of t-shirts that
said "Jim Crow must go."
There was no conviction in his murder for another 30 years.
Medgar Evers was never as famous as Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks
or Malcolm X. They did make the Evers home into a museum not long ago.
And if you want, you can go there, you can stand in the driveway. You can
see it for yourself.
The locals ask you be respectful. You`re visiting a place where a
A few months ago in Mississippi, Woolworth lunch, now Myrlie Evers
Williams, she talked about her husband`s decision to stay in Mississippi
knowing at the time what could happen to him. She said, quote, "He always
said Mississippi is my home. I love the place where I was born and I will
do whatever I have to do to make it the best place in the United States of
"He would say to me, Mississippi is going to be the best place in the
country. And I told hill him, you have to be out of your mind. There`s no
way Mississippi can become anything better than it is, and quite honestly I
do not want any part of it and I do not know how you can do what you do.
He said because it is the state of my birth and I believe in it. And he
gave his life not wanting to die, but he gave it gladly to help lift this
state to where it is today", end quote.
For Medgar Evers, he decided that Mississippi was worth staying in
when people were leaving, staying in and dying in. And I think it was
harder for his family to accept his decision after what happened to him.
After his death, they left Mississippi. They joined the great migration in
a sense and stayed away from the state for a long, long time.
But last year, Medgar Evers` widow returned to Jackson after decades
away. She returned to Jackson not just for a visit, but to live and to run
the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute in Jackson, Mississippi. This week
for the 50th anniversary of his death, they unveiled new portraits of the
two of them, the young Medgar Evers, who is, of course, outlived by his
ideas, in the present day, Myrlie Evers Williams, who`s trying to carry
those ideas forward, including in the place where her late husband was most
determined to see them take hold.
Sometimes history feels very far away, but sometimes history comes
back close enough to touch.
MADDOW: Fifteen Republican senators voted against immigration reform
today. Specifically, they voted against voting on immigration reform.
They voted to support their party`s filibuster so all these Republicans on
your screen today, 15 of them, they were against today.
But they were not enough. The Senate needed 60 votes to bet the
Republican Party`s filibuster. They needed 60, but they got 82. So, the
vote to vote, the vote to move ahead on debating immigration reform,
despite these 15, it was a giant success today.
Despite all that Republican opposition and the Republican filibuster,
it was a success, 82 votes to 15. And so now, they move forward.
President Obama today saying that although the bill is not perfect,
blocking the bill would mean that nothing gets done and everybody knows
that is not an option. He says Congress should be able to get immigration
reform done this summer. That big 82-15 vote in the Senate today suggests
at least some early signs that he may be right.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz today not only voted for the doomed
filibuster, he also warned darkly that there was no chance that this will
ever pass the House. He said it will crash and burn. It will not pass.
But, of course, Senator Ted Cruz is not in the House, and he never s been
in the house, and his side lost their argument against the bill today the
So, what does he know? The man who does know, House Speaker John
Boehner, he made noises today suggesting that the bill might actually have
a chance with House Republicans. So who knows? It might happen. And the
reason it might happen is, of course, self-interest.
Remember, the very first thing the House Republicans did after their
party got beat so badly in the House elections and the Senate elections and
the presidential elections in November was that they held that retreat in
Virginia, right? Which focused substantially on how the Republican Party
could try to come back from the electoral dead after that shellacking they
And as you see from the headline there, they decided that they really
needed to go with the obvious, with their problem with minorities and
women. I mean, you cannot lose women, 55-44. You cannot lose black people
93-6. You cannot lose Latinos, 71-27. You cannot lose Asians, 73-26. And
still expect to ever win a national election in this country.
Republicans have to up their game with minorities and with women.
Their first retreat after the election in Virginia, they`re getting
trained, right? Successful communications with minorities and women. That
particular e event was held in a room named for the plantation of a slave-
owning Virginia family. So, yes, even when they`re trying, this stuff does
come easy to the Republicans, but they are trying, because they know they
And this big vote in the Senate today, 82-15 for immigration reform,
that vote, today, and the promise that it might be possible among
Republicans in the House to get something passed, too, that will help with
what the Republicans need to do. At least it is designed to help the
Republican Party`s standing with Latino voters in particular.
Now, as for women, the Republican Party`s efforts to seem different to
women than they seemed before, that is going a whole different direction,
to say the least. When a federal appeals court a few weeks ago struck down
Arizona`s law banning abortion at 20 weeks, said that ban was
unconstitutional, House Republicans responded by proposing a ban like that
for the whole country. Arizona Congressman Trent Franks would ban abortion
nationwide at 20 weeks, no exemption for pregnancies that resulted from
rape or from incest.
The bill even specifically establishes a nationwide ban on having an
abortion in the event you find out your fetus is nonviable, it cannot live.
A determination of that sad circumstance is often not made until 20 weeks
into the pregnancy, but if you find out tragically that the fetus has no
brain or no skull or its lungs are not going to be developed and it cannot
survive, Trent Franks, his nationwide abortion ban would apply to those
cases specifically as well.
So, if your doctor tells you your pregnancy cannot produce a baby that
will live, Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona will nevertheless
force you to carry the nonviable fetus to term and go through childbirth
because he says, nationwide, no exceptions. A woman can not make that
decision, herself. She cannot make that decision with her family or with
her doctor, Trent Franks will decide that for you.
That passed out of the Frank subcommittee on a party line vote with
all the Republicans voting in favor. It`s expected now to pass the full
Judiciary Committee tomorrow with, again, all of the Republicans voting in
favor. And then Eric Cantor says he will put it on the House floor next
week for a full House vote which will, undoubtedly pass, because
Republicans have the majority in the House and they want to vote for this.
It will not become law because Democrats will not let that happen
either in the Senate or in the White House, but still, this is what
Republicans are doing with the power that they`ve got in the House of
Representatives. With their power that they`ve got in the states, actually
they`re even being more aggressive.
Republican governance in Wisconsin has already closed half the clinics
in that state that provide abortion because they defunded Planned
Parenthood and it had that effect. Now, antiabortion activist Republican
Governor Scott Walker says he looks forward to signing a bill soon that
will take the same Trap Law strategy as Mississippi and North Dakota have
taken recently to try to close as many more of the remaining clinics in
Wisconsin as he can.
The bill he says he will sign would also force Wisconsin women to
undergo a mandatory state-ordered medically unnecessary ultrasound as a
sort of penalty or punishment for seeking an abortion, whether your doctor
thinks you need one or not, whether you want one or not. Scott walker and
Wisconsin Republicans will force you to undergo that medical procedure by
order of the state government.
That bill in Wisconsin passed committee on a party line vote. It`s
headed for the full senate where Republicans are in the majority and so
it`s expected to pass.
Same deal happening in Ohio where the Republicans just passed budget
that not only defunds planned parenthood, it also just directly tries to
shut down Ohio clinics, too, with another one of these Trap Laws with which
Republicans are now shutting down clinics all across the country. The
Republican-controlled Ohio senate passed this thing. It now goes to the
Republican controlled Ohio house as of tomorrow. And then when they
presumably pass it, it will go to the Ohio Republican governor.
So, I don`t mean to presume here, but say good-bye to access abortion
in Ohio, as well as Wisconsin. Anywhere that Republicans are in control,
But Iowa, actually Iowa is really the most amazing one of all of them
right now. Meet Terry Branstad. I like to show a picture of Terry
Branstad whenever we talk about him and Iowa politics, because something
about the way looks is more memorable for some reason than just the sound
of his name which nobody seems to be able to remember.
I think it`s probably the memorability of his mustache that I`m
fixating on. But regardless, this is the governor of Iowa. This is what he
looks like. He looks a lot like a famous children TV character from the
1970s named Captain Kangaroo.
But he is Bob Keeshan playing Captain Kangaroo. He is Terry Branstad
playing governor of Iowa, playing doctor.
In his capacity as governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad reserves for
himself, personally, the right to decide whether or not you get an
abortion. He says he will sign legislation just passed by the Iowa
legislature that gives a personal role in deciding on a case-by-case basis
whether he will allow Medicaid to cover your abortion, if that is your
health insurance in the state of Iowa.
The provision in which Governor Terry decides what happens to you is
part of an overall Republican crackdown on access to abortion in Iowa, but
the specific decision on Medicaid covering abortion because you have been
raped or because you were the victim of incest or because the pregnancy
might kill you or the fetus is nonviable and will not live, those decisions
-- those decisions will not be made by you in Iowa. They will not be made
by your doctor. They will not be made even by state law.
Those decisions, henceforth, once he signs this thing he says he wants
to sign, those decisions will be made personally by him. Individually. He
says he will sign that bill this week. He told reporters on Friday that he
promises to be very thoughtful in making that decision on your abortion --
as he handles those decisions one by one, personally.
If the Republicans` devotion to this cause right now is insufficiently
clear, consider also the next national bill they`re moving on on this
subject, one that would ban women who are detained on an immigration
violation, from having access to an abortion while they are detained.
Now, there are exceptions to this. Employees who work at immigration
detention facilities, even if they had no medical training, would be left
to decide if it seemed to them like not having this abortion might kill
you, so maybe they might let you have one in that case. But even then,
maybe not. What do they know if they don`t have any medical training?
Republicans passed that in committee on Friday, nationally. And it is
steaming forward as part of the overall bill funding homeland security for
the whole country, because that is essentially what they are working on.
They are winning back the women of America by focusing like a laser on the
most aggressive and ambitious and relentless anti-abortion agenda that we
have seen in this country since Roe v. Wade. They are focused like a laser
on jobs, jobs, job-bortion. Every, every day, coast to coast.
Joining us now is Cecile Richards. She`s president of Planned
Parenthood Federation of America.
Ms. Richards, thanks very much for being here.
CECILE RICHARDS, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Yes. Good
to see you.
MADDOW: Are things actually getting worse right now in 2013? Are we
just hearing less about it because we`re more sort of inured to the
aggressive of this agenda?
RICHARDS: We`re seeing a record number of bills introduced, and
passed and signed. And just looking at your sort of list here of
terribles, one of the most extraordinary things, of course, is every single
one of the people you mentioned forwarding the bills and signing them, none
of them will ever be pregnant.
RICHARDS: And the thought these men are going to make decisions for
women about their pregnancies is incredible. In particularly after we went
through an election, in which the American people spoke loud and clear,
women and men in this country, which they believe these decisions should be
made by women and their families. Not by politicians.
MADDOW: Some of the -- one of the things we have seen is that bills
and approaches to policy that have been effective at curbing access to safe
and legal abortion in some states, like Trap Laws in Mississippi, for
MADDOW: Shutting down clinics in that state. We`re seeing other
states copy those.
But we`re also seeing some innovation. I mean, I`ve never, ever seen
anything before where a male governor decides that he will personally make
the decision about whether or not people have abortions in this state.
RICHARDS: We`ve never seen anything like this either. I think the
creativity and the insidious nature of the kind of things that are being
introduced and passed and signed, that`s what`s extraordinary to me.
RICHARDS: And signed, is like nothing we`ve ever seen. And, you
know, the incredible thing is, and you mentioned the state of Wisconsin
where we`ve had health centers shut down -- health centers that provide
nothing but family planning. The risk is not only that women are losing
access to safe and legal abortion in states, they`re losing access to
health care across the board. In Ohio, again, the budget that they are,
you know, debating on signing would actually end women`s access to family
planning, would end access to Planned Parenthood for a whole host of
preventative care as well.
And that, again, I think is the most insidious thing about all of
this. The same folks trying to restrict women`s access to safe and legal
abortion also want to restrict their access to birth control. It doesn`t
make any sense.
MADDOW: The math does not work in that case. Well, thinking about
Planned Parenthood as an institution, obviously you`ve attracted a lot of
attention from Republicans both in the states and federally trying to both
defund the organization, try to block any sources of funding for Planned
Parenthood health centers, but also just attacking the organization
institutionally as some sort of symbol of evil.
How is Planned Parenthood doing organizationally? How are you
RICHARDS: The incredible thing is every time they go after us, we get
stronger. I mean, in the last couple years, we`ve gained 2 million new
supporters, most -- hundreds of thousands of young people. Young men and
women who have now joined Planned Parenthood, are activists for Planned
I actually think at the end of the day some of these folks in office
are going to pay the price at election time. Folks do not want to go back
in this country to days before Roe, to days before birth control was legal
and available and affordable.
So, I actually feel like this is -- this is not a long-term strategy,
but it is very discouraging to see, particularly when there are so many
Republicans who support Planned Parenthood, who are patients of Planned
Parenthood, employees of Planned Parenthood, donors of Planned Parenthood,
to see politicians go after women`s health care access. It`s crazy.
MADDOW: The only place I differ with you there is it doesn`t feel
like this is a narrow group. It feels like this has now become the way
Republican governance works. This is become the new normal in the states.
It was crazy when Mississippi decided to come up with this variation on a
Trap Law that was going to close down the last clinic in the state.
MADDOW: And now that`s the new normal for how Republicans govern
everywhere they`ve got power.
RICHARDS: I do think, look, I have to agree with you that I think
it`s a real danger. An extreme part of the Republican Party is holding the
rest of the party hostage.
That is -- look, I was speaking to a bunch of women today at Yale who
want to run for office. A lot of them are Republican women. They don`t
support these issues. They don`t support the kind of politics that they
see their party, you know, driving.
So, again, and what I do -- I have found is that people are coming out
of the woodwork to support Planned Parenthood and we`re fighting back in
the states. We just filed suit today in Alabama against one of these bills
with the ACLU.
So, you know, it`s strengthening the organization, but unfortunately,
there are a lot of women who are going to pay the price in the short term.
MADDOW: I feel like the big picture here is we saw 2010 was a shock.
2011 was like, oh, wow, they`re keeping it up. 2012, I wonder how this is
going to fair in the election. 2013, it is all bets are off and they`re
actually going more extreme than they have in the last four years.
It`s been an extreme four years.
RICHARDS: Unfortunately, I agree.
MADDOW: Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood president, thank you very
much for being with us. Good to see you. Thanks.
RICHARDS: Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. For once everybody in Washington is kind of
freaking out about the same thing which makes this a good time to see if
they`re freaking out in a useful way. That story is coming up.
MADDOW: Two weeks from today is the special election for the U.S.
Senate seat in Massachusetts. The Democratic candidate is Congressman Ed
Markey. Republican candidate is a private equity guy and first time
candidate named Gabriel Gomez, who`s also an ex-Navy SEAL.
This year`s footage from the seconds of their three debates which took
place tonight in western Mass, no particular knockout blow landed by either
side, but that is bad news for one side. That is bad news for the
Republican candidate since he appears to be seven points back in the polls.
And because First Lady Michelle Obama campaigned for Ed Markey two weeks
ago and Vice President Biden campaigned for Ed Markey tonight. And
President Obama, himself, will be campaigning with Ed Markey tomorrow in
Roxbury in Boston.
The Senate election in Massachusetts is in two weeks and Democrat Ed
Markey, again, in the latest polls ahead by seven.
Meanwhile, the election in Virginia is kind of going off the rails.
That story`s coming up.
MADDOW: This was the scene early yesterday morning in a place called
Ellicott City, Maryland, which is just outside of Baltimore.
Hello. Hello. Anybody home? We`re here from the government and we`d
like to talk.
That house in Ellicott City is listed as previous residence of a man
named Edward Snowden, who is the former government contractor who says that
he is the one leaked secret NSA documents to "The Guardian" and "Washington
After a couple of different attempts to find out if anybody was home
at that house, these gentlemen in the nice ties eventually turned around
and left empty-handed.
This was a scene later in the day, about 150 miles to the north in
Allentown, Pennsylvania. Gentleman you see here being rather stalked by
the press in the pouring rain is an FBI agent. He was at this location
because he had just paid a visit to this house, which is owned by the
father of alleged NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Mr. Snowden the senior reportedly pre-apologized to his neighbors if
their previously quiet little neighborhood suddenly started getting lots
and lots of press attention.
The leaking of classified documents to the media, documents that
showed widespread government surveillance of phone calls and e-mails and
other Internet activity, that act of leaking has kicked off what is now a
fairly predictable sequence of events. Those responsible for investigating
the leak, like the FBI guys in the nice ties, they are now fanning out
across the country to find and talk to anybody who knew or who came into
contact with the self-confessed leaker.
And since we haven`t found him yet, Washington is finding it very
convenient to make him into a punching bag.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He`s a traitor. The
disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our
adversaries what our capabilities are. And it`s a giant violation of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: House Speaker John Boehner toy a articulating one of the two
main responses we`ve gotten from Congress thus far when it comes to this
One wing of Congress which includes folks like John Boehner and
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, for example, they`re saying the leaker
is a traitor, his leak constitutes treasonous activity. The problem here
is the leak, itself. That has become a sort of bipartisan outcry from one
wing of Congress. Get the leaker. String him up.
And it seems like honestly that is the majority view from Congress,
but it is not the only view. A smaller but vocal contingent in Congress is
now starting to say more aggressively, you know, hey, how about we take a
look at the program, itself? Not just the fact of the leaking and the guy
who leaked it, but what was leaked.
When President Obama came out to publicly defend these surveillance
programs last week, he said everything was on the up and up because members
of Congress were consistently informed about what exactly was going on with
this kind of surveillance.
Actual members of Congress beg to differ. And you can tell because of
the furious pace of briefings that have now been taking place after the
fact. Last Thursday, just after the story broke, intelligence officials
briefed 27 senators on just the telephone portion of the surveillance
Later this week, all 100 members of the Senate will get a classified
briefing in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Earlier today, all the 15
members of that intelligence committee got themselves a closed-door
briefing from the NSA director, himself.
Also, today, the entire House of Representatives, all 435 of them, got
offered a giant briefing as a group on these surveillance programs, which
is an awful lot of briefings on something that Congress was supposedly very
well-briefed on to start with. If they all knew about it, then the leak
shouldn`t have piqued their curiosity.
As Congress continues to push back on this notion that they fully knew
about and fully consented to these sorts of surveillance programs, three of
the companies at the center of the leaks started waging an offensive of
their own today. Today, Google and Microsoft and Facebook publicly asked
the U.S. government to please allow them to be more transparent with their
customers about the kinds of requests for data they`ve been getting from
Under current laws these companies are forbidden from disclosing
publicly the number of requests and the nature of requests that they get
from the government. The companies are now saying, hey, we would like to
be able to fell our customers that, we would like to be able do disclose
that information publicly.
That attempt to bring some more transparency to this whole realm of
the law has now translated into real live legislation in Congress. Today,
a bipartisan group of eight senators led by Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley
of Oregon, they introduced legislation to do away with the whole part of
this thing that is essentially secret law. Secret law dynamic that has
been established on these surveillance issues. The way it works now is
that a secret court hears secret arguments from the government about how
far they want to stretch their domestic spying capabilities, and then that
court in secret issues secret opinions that the American public never gets
to know about.
This legislation would essentially scrap this system. It would
require the attorney general to declassify parts of that process. The
program, itself, can still operate secretly, but the law under which it
operates cannot, itself, be secret.
This change in the law would add a little bit sunlight, up to this
point, has been a very, very dark corner of law and policy. Joining us for
the interview is Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. He is the lead sponsor of
Senator, thank you very much for being back with us tonight. I
appreciate your time.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: You bet, Rachel. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: Did I essentially explain that right, that this is not about
the secrecy of the operation of the program, it`s about the secrecy of the
law that says what the program can do?
MERKLEY: Yes, because the plain language of the law is public, and it
sets standards. It says there has to be tangible things, there has to be a
statement of facts. There has to be information relevant to an authorized
investigation. Those are standards.
But what we`re seeing in practice is a program that is all phones, all
hours of the night and day, all parts of the country. In other words: a
blanket dragnet sucking up all cell phone data in America. That doesn`t
seem to fit with the standard.
So what`s in between? What`s in between is the interpretation of a
secret court. You don`t have any idea who advocated for the government`s
position or was anyone advocating on the other side to say, wait, your
interpretation is way off balance. Does it match the letter of the law?
So this secret interpretation becomes the operating law and the public
has no chance to examine it and, therefore, no chance to say to Congress,
we don`t like it, or maybe we do like it. And that`s what should change.
The standards of the law should be public.
MADDOW: We have seen one of the previously secret FISA court rulings
on one of these programs because it was leaked last week, on the phone
Looking at that leaked document, and knowing what you know, as a
senator, with the kind of access that you do, to what kinds of rulings
these are, are you at all sympathetic to argument from the other side that
the rulings, themselves, showing you what the law is might, itself,
compromise the effectiveness of those programs?
MERKLEY: Well, I`m not at all sympathetic, especially now. It`s
widely acknowledged by the White House that that was an accurate document.
Therefore, the public now knows that our government is picking up all this
information. That might have been obvious from the interpretation of the
law. It certainly wouldn`t have been what an ordinary person would think
reading the law.
But now that it`s there, what are the standards? Why aren`t the
standards that are in the plain language applied in some way? This -- and
so, this would give us a chance. Really, you mentioned the two sides of
this: those who are focused on the leaker and those who are saying we
should examine the policy.
But this should bring both sides together. I want to mention that
Dianne Feinstein led a letter that asked her to. She joined in it, she led
the letter asking the FISA court to declassify the secret interpretations.
Senator Wyden joined that. Mark Udall joined that.
So, this could bring folks who might disagree on the content of the
policy together to say, but we need to have an open and public debate about
the standards and whether we`re off track.
MADDOW: When we talked about this before, talked about the last
forward in this direction legislatively, you were able to get three dozen
other senators to join you at the time. Since we`ve had this uproar over
the last week or so out of this new information that has been leaked, are
you finding new allies that you didn`t have before? Are you attracting
MERKLEY: Well, we just introduced a bill today. We have seven
sponsors, bipartisan sponsors. But they`re the sponsors I think all within
the group that supported it previously.
So, now, we`re going to start the work of educating those who voted
against it before. Many of them voted against it because they were told by
the floor leader that you couldn`t make a change because the Senate bill
had to match the House bill. There will be no such standard if we bring
this to the floor again. There will be need to match an existing House
And I hope that all the members can now say, yes, we need to have the
public debate and decide, do we like the court`s interpretation? And if
not, we need to change the language of the laws to correct it.
And I must say, you know, I feel like this is a very big deal. This
is something where all of your information about where you are in the
country is captured by this metadata. All the folks you talk to, all how
long you talk to them, how often.
This is a huge invasion of American privacy. And how is your cell
phone data or my cell phone data related or relevant to an investigation,
which is the standard in plain language of the law? It`s hard to explain
that that could possibly square. We need those secret court opinions to
figure this out.
MADDOW: One of the things that has been unclear about which there
seems to be conflicting information reported is the role of Internet
companies in essentially facilitating the delivery of this information to
the government. Microsoft, Google and Facebook coming out today asking the
Obama administration for permission to disclose publicly the kinds of
demands from the government they are getting for their data, do you think
the government should be allowing them to be more transparent about the
requests they`re getting?
MERKLEY: Well, this is the other side. You have the phone and
records provision and then you have the PRISM program which was much more
hidden, if you will. I feel like I don`t have a good grip on its full
And here`s the confusion. It appears, from what was leaked, that all
sorts of companies are cooperating. Those companies are coming out and
saying, no, we`re not.
Certainly I`d like to err on the side of a public debate, public
disclosure of the principles. I understand that there may be sensitive
methods, although at this point, maybe those methods are already presented
in a way that there`s not much more protection is need of them. So, I lean
toward a yes, let`s get the information, but since I haven`t been briefed
on that program, since I don`t have all the details, I want to be slightly
cautious until I have a better understanding of it.
MADDOW: Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, in that answer making the
important point that when they say everybody in the Senate has been fully
briefed on all of these programs, it`s not the way at least you guys feel
from your perspective on these things.
It`s really been helpful to have you talk to us about this stuff, sir.
Thank you very much.
MERKLEY: Great to be with you. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Any day when NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel
ends up wearing a gas mask while he is at work, that is not a good day
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: There were
10,000, maybe 20,000 people in the square behind me. It was relatively
peaceful. I didn`t see anybody throwing stones. They were just chanting
And then the police came in with their biggest show of force of the
day. Hundreds if not maybe a thousand riot police stormed into the square,
firing enormous amounts of tear gas. They were backed up by water cannons,
and maybe quickly cleared the square and filled the skies with so much tear
gas that even from our vantage point we had to put this kind of mask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Richard Engel reporting today from the edge of Taksim Square
in Istanbul, in Turkey, the main square where tens of thousands of people
have been demonstrating for 12 days now, and where the use of force against
the protesters escalated dramatically today after the Turkish prime
minister told the demonstrators that they should stop protesting and clear
They did not do that. The crowd grew today after that proclamation
from the prime minister, the riot police cracked down on the demonstrators
in a very big show of force. They repeatedly fired rounds of tear gas and
shot water cannons on the very large crowd of protesters in the square.
These demonstrations have been going on strong for almost two weeks
now. And during that time, three people have died, more than 5,000 people
have been injured.
There had been a meeting scheduled for tomorrow between the prime
minister and some of the protesters, but after today`s very dramatic turn
in the streets of Istanbul, we`ll see if those talks still happen.
Watch this space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The swirling ethical question surrounding both
Governor Bob McDonnell and the man who hopes to replace him, Republican
attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), Governor Bob McDonnell wouldn`t talk
about news that the grand jury is looking into gifts that the governor may
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us anything about the story at "The
Washington Post" today?
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: I really can`t. I came to talk
about transportation business, to talk about it. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thank you. Local coverage from Fox 5 in the D.C. area.
Once upon a time, particularly right after he was elected, the
Republican governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, was the next big thing in
the politics -- the hair, the jaw line, the incredibly right wing, Pat
Robertson university social conservative anti-abortion background hidden
behind a businessy seeming exterior. He was the whole package.
And then he became governor ultrasound, and then Mitt Romney didn`t
pick him for VP, with the added indignity on the guy who got picked, that
was done in Virginia, and McDonnell had to introduce the guy who got the
job that he wanted to get but didn`t get.
But, now, Bob McDonnell may yet become the next big thing he always
wanted to be, but not the way he wanted to get there. We learned at the
end of April that the FBI is investigating his relationship with the
campaign donor. We learned at the end of May, that the state prosecutor
was looking into the gifts of the governor and whether or not he violated
Now, it turns out there is a grand jury. Bob McDonnell, this is your
life. The grand jury now, the FBI, the state investigation, all centering
around undisclosed gifts to Bob McDonnell and his family, lots of gifts,
including the gifts to his daughter for her wedding, and the donor loaning
Bob McDonnell a Ferrari to drive, yes, really and all sorts of gifts, too.
While the state level investigation goes to whether or not the gifts
were properly disclosed, the federal investigation is looking into
basically bribery, whether there was quid pro quo, whether he provided
favors in his official capacity as governor in an exchange in cash for
prizes from this donor.
The grand jury details are slim at this point, the one thing we do
know reported by "The Washington Post" is that a Republican state
legislator who is an ally of the governor`s, he has been called to testify
before the grand jury. That is all we have for now. All of this, of
course, happening in an election year in Virginia, with the Republican
candidate vying to replace Governor McDonnell himself took gifts,
previously undisclosed gifts from the same donor who`s gotten Bob McDonnell
in all this trouble.
Oh, Virginia, I thought the probe would be as interesting as it would
get -- I was so wrong. I was so very wrong.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Have a great night.
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