THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 14, 2013
Guest: Tom Goldstein
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for
the next hour. Happy Friday to you. And happy Christmas in June.
Did you see what just happened in Texas? I`ve got a15-second piece of
tape. See if you can tell from watching this 15 second piece of tape what
weird thing is going on at this bill signing that just happened down in
You`re not looking for something in this clip visually. You`re
actually listening for something. So, check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I`d like you to hear from the author of
the bill who happens to also be the father of Reagan, Representative Dwayne
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Did you -- did you hear that, the ringing? The weird
ringing. Kind of a seasonal sounding ringing.
All right. Now here`s another clue. Here is Texas Governor Rick
Perry signing the bill at that bill ceremony. Everything looks kind of
normal. But wait, wait, wait, wait. Who`s that guy? Who`s that guy over
Rick Perry`s right shoulder? Who`s that guy with the funny hat and the
long white beard? Yes, that`s Santa.
Rick Perry, in fact, stacked the room with a whole bunch of stunt
Santa Clauses for the bill signing. What just happened in Texas is that
Rick Perry signed a bill, he had a big ornate signing ceremony with sleigh
bells ringing and Santa Clauses all over the room to sign a bill that makes
it not illegal to say "Merry Christmas" in Texas. Seriously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALE TV ANCHOR: Well, it might be June, but folks at the state
capitol today are getting ready for the holidays.
FEMALE TV ANCHOR: Today, Governor Perry signed legislation that will
let teachers and students use greetings like "Merry Christmas" or "Happy
Hanukkah" in schools.
FEMALE TV ANCHOR: Those are members of the Lone Star Santas Club.
They came to the capitol to give their backing on this bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. You can say merry Christmas in Texas now. Thanks to
Governor Rick Perry, it`s not illegal to say Merry Christmas.
Now, was it ever illegal to say Merry Christmas in Texas? You know,
you never can be too careful, but saying Merry Christmas is now doubly
triply, merrily, Rick Perry protected in Texas in case you were ever
Rick Perry has been worried about this for a long time. The secret
illegal nature of Christmas is a big Rick Perry idea in politics. You may
remember when he was running for president he tried to make one of the
central issues of his campaign, the fact he had led the fight to keep
Christmas from being illegal in Texas.
And he would lead that fight nationally against President Obama. He
wasn`t afraid. President Obama may want to make Christmas illegal and ban
Christianity, but Rick Perry has Santa on his side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: I`m not ashamed to admit I`m a Christian. But you don`t need
to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there`s something wrong in this
country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can`t
openly celebrate Christmas and pray in school. As president, I`ll end
Obama`s war on religion and I`ll fight against liberal attacks on our
Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.
I`m Rick Perry, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that was how Rick Perry ran for president the first time.
He will, in his barn coat, protect you from homosexuals.
So, in case you are worried, America, the one man who will stand
between you and homosexuality is this guy. It`s Rick Perry receiving and
then, of course, famously cuddling a bottle of maple syrup that was given
to him in a speech in New Hampshire. Rick Perry will protect you from the
gay and he will keep Christmas legal from the Democrats who want to make it
illegal. That is how Rick Perry first ran for president. That`s how he
ran first time and presumably that is how he is going to run for president
the second time.
And although we are still observing a ban about talking about 2016
here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, it is there in my own handwriting on a
whiteboard in my offices, one of the ways that you know despite the 2016
ban that Rick Perry is running for president again besides the fact Rick
Perry, himself, says he`s open to running for president again, one of the
ways you know he means it is because that bill signing with the sleigh
bells and Santa Clauses where he saved Christmas, that was one of the last
things he did in Texas before he left the state to fly to the new Christian
Coalition Conference thing in Washington. Rick Perry will be speaking
tomorrow at the Christian Coalition Conference that is hosting all of these
other Republicans who want to run for president.
The Christian Coalition Conference is now called the Faith and Freedom
Conference ever since Ralph Reed sullied the old Christian Coalition name
but it`s the same old thing it`s ever been. It`s Ralph Reed and it`s Gary
Bauer and Phyllis Schlafly and all the rest of them.
This confab for the social conservative wing of the Republican Party,
it comes to a really sensitive time in our politics, when it comes to the
issues nearest and dearest to the hearts of these folks, particularly when
it comes to gay politics. By which I mean anti-gay politics which has been
a central thing at the Christian coalition and the organized Christian
conservative movement has always stood for.
And the sensitive issue for them right now is not just the general
American public opinion shift be in favor of gay rights. The latest ABC
News/"Washington poll this week found 57 percent of Americans now support
legalized equal marriage rights. It`s beyond that, though. It`s not just
that sentiment, that broad feeling in the country that makes their position
against it seemed awkward.
It is that the question is being called. There are policy positions
coming up, policy decisions coming up on this where Republicans are going
to have to make their feelings known not just to each other, but to the
majority of the country which disagrees with them on gay rights.
Republican politicians are about to lose the luxury of only talking about
gay rights in front of anti-gay audiences like the Faith and Freedom
Coalition or avoiding the question altogether because they really don`t
want to be quoted about it because their Republican position on the subject
is so unpopular.
One of these policy decisions that`s about to come down on them is the
Employment Nondiscrimination Act. It`s a bill that simply says you can`t
be fired for being gay. No employer can put up a sign in their window that
says we don`t hire gay people. It is legal for an employer to do that
right now under federal low. You can`t do something like that on the basis
of race, of course, you can`t do that on the basis of sex, you can`t do
that on the basis of age and all these other protected categories.
But if you want to fire somebody simply and only because they are gay,
if you want to put out a job announcement that says "I will not hire you if
you are gay, no gays need apply," nothing in federal law stops you from
doing that. Today, the Nondiscrimination Bill that would fix that got its
50th sponsor in the Senate, in the form of Majority Leader Harry Reid. And
that means the nondiscrimination bill now has enough votes to pass if the
Republicans wouldn`t filibuster which, of course, they would.
Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio was asked about his
position on that nondiscrimination bill yesterday by an enterprising "Think
Progress" reporter who followed him into an elevator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The Senate this summer is going to be taking up the
Employment Nondiscrimination Act which makes it illegal to fire someone for
being gay. Do you know if you`ll be supporting that?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I haven`t read the legislation. But,
by and large, I think all Americans should be protected, but I`m not for
any special protections based on orientation.
REPORTER: What about on race or gender?
RUBIO: Well, that`s established law.
REPORTER: But not for sexual orientation?
RUBIO: Hi, how are you, man?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hey, how are you, man?
That counts for not an answer. It`s kind of brutal to watch the
running away. Not for sexual orientation? Even though -- hey, how are
you? It`s tough to watch.
But Marco Rubio being anti-gay, Marco Rubio having anti-gay policy
positions is not a surprise. He`s never taken a pro-gay rights position on
anything really. And it was just yesterday that he said he would blow up
the whole immigration reform issue.
He would blow up this whole thing that he has been working on, that he
staked his whole political future on, he will kill the whole idea of
immigration reform if immigration reform applies to gay people, too.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUBIO: This bill has in it something that gives gay couples
immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I`m gone. I`m off it
and I`ve said that repeatedly. And I don`t think that`s going to happen
and it shouldn`t happen.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m gone. I`m off it. That shouldn`t happen.
So, Marco Rubio, the supposed future of the Republican Party, says
there should be no immigration reform if it also would apply to gay people.
And he says it should be legal in this country for your boss to fire you
because he found out you`re gay or because he`s decided he thinks that
Maybe nothing should be surprising about social conservative politics
and what these guys stand for, still, in 2013. But the nondiscrimination
thing, right? I mean, you would think that would be something where they
could bring more people across the line on this.
I mean, the reason that Harry Reid is number 50 in terms of the
sponsoring the Nondiscrimination Act is because the 48th and 49th votes for
the nondiscrimination bill just happened. Those are from Angus King who is
sort of right down the middle, centrist independent senator from Maine.
Also from Heidi Heitkamp who`s probably the most conservative member
of the Senate now who is a Democrat. Heidi Heitkamp, for example, voted
against background checks for gun sales and she`s a very conservative
person on lots of social issues. But even she is for nondiscrimination.
But when it comes to the Republicans, not only is Marco Rubio not in
favor of it, it`s not even the province of Rob Portman. Rob Portman is the
guy who decided he was suddenly for gay marriage after his son came out to
him. So, he is OK for marriage rights for his son, but not for
nondiscrimination? I`m okay with you being forced out of your job, son,
because of you who are? I just don`t want you to go through it alone?
If you`re married, you can both be fired for being gay, together. How
does that make sense?
These maverick Republicans that you see on your screen right here,
these are the only three Republicans in both houses of Congress who support
employment nondiscrimination for gay people. And while all of those
members of Congress are Republicans in good standing, what you are not
looking at there is the Republican primary field for 2016. You apparently
cannot support something like nondiscrimination for gay people and have any
future in Republican Party politics.
Nobody who has any real prospects of being a national leader in
Republican politics in the next few years has anything other than 100
percent anti-gay policy position on something like nondiscrimination. That
is apparently still a requirement if you are a Republican and you want to
hold higher national office. And that is awkward given the country as a
whole is in a really, really different place than that, and there`s a very
good chance this coming Monday that very awkwardness is all going to come
crashing down on the Republican Party because this Monday there`s no
guarantees, nobody knows for sure, but many court observers are expecting
that this Monday morning, the United States Supreme Court will issue a pair
of high-profile rulings on the issue of same-sex marriage.
The court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of California`s
ban on same-sex marriage otherwise known as prop 8 and we also expect a
ruling from the court on DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, the law passed
by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton. It`s an anti-gay law that denies
same-sex couples any federal recognition and any of the federal benefits of
The Supreme Court heard arguments on both of those cases in March.
This Monday is the next possible day that we could get final rulings from
them on those cases and a lot of people are expecting those cases to be
ruled on on Monday. And those looming rulings are a problem for
Republicans who find themselves on the wrong side of fast-moving public
opinion on this issue.
By which I mean almost all elected Republicans, because in Republican
world, it is a very different world than the rest of us live in when it
comes to talking about the gay. As an example, this week, as the court is
gearing up to issue those rulings and 50 co-sponsors are signing on to the
nondiscrimination act, Republicans in congress were being lobbied by all
the social conservatives who were in town for Ralph Reed`s new version of
the Christian coalition and their big conference. Republicans in Congress
spent this week getting lobbied on the evils of gay marriage and the
darkness that will be unleashed on the land if the court rules in a pro-gay
This was a Republican congressman from Ohio being visited by that
group yesterday. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN BLACKWELL: If the court shelves DOMA and (AUDIO GAP) steps on the
voice of the people of California, that will radically change the
definition of marriage which will, I think, probably unleash the sort of
civil protests that`s reminiscent of the civil rights movement in the `50s,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s going to be the mass civil disobedience of the 1950s and
1960s all over again if the court rules in favor of gay marriage. The
nation will rise up in anger and the streets will fill for years.
The problem for Republicans is that after these rulings come out, they
are not just going to be able to talk to the Ken Blackwells of the world
and the Ralph Reeds and Phyllis Schlaflys of the world about it, and the
people who cheer them in speeches when they call it sodomy, right? After
these rulings come out, this is going to be the biggest news in the
country. They`re going to have to talk to the rest of the country, too,
who is increasingly not only against them on these issues, but bewildered
by them and their positions on these issues.
Nobody knows exactly what`s going to happen on Monday, but this is
going to be fascinating to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDIE WINDSOR, DOMA PLAINTIFF: I am today an out lesbian, OK, who just
sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me.
When my beautiful, sparkling Thea died four years ago, I was overcome with
grief. Within a month, I was hospitalized with a heart attack. That`s
kind of common. It`s usually looked at as broken heart syndrome.
In the midst of my grief, I realized the federal government was
treating us as strangers and I paid a humongous estate tax, and it meant
selling a lot of stuff to do it and it wasn`t easy. I live on a fixed
income and it wasn`t easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Edith Windsor, Edie Windsor, plaintiff in the
Defense of Marriage of Act case before the Supreme Court right now. A lot
of very practiced court watchers think that a ruling on that case and a
Prop 8 case in California may be announced on Monday. It is not at all
certain if it will happen then or what that ruling will be.
But joining us now with probably the best guess in country is Tom
Goldstein. He`s co-founder of the SCOTUS Blog, Web site that covers the
Supreme Court that won a Peabody Award in Excellence in Electronic Media
this year, first blog to win that award. Mr. Goldstein lectures at Harvard
and he has argued 28 cases before the Supreme Court.
Tom Goldstein, thank you for being with us.
TOM GOLDSTEIN, SCOTUS BLOG: Merry Christmas. Thanks to Governor
Perry for letting me get that off my chest.
MADDOW: Yes, I know you`ve been held back by the threat of the
Listen, Tom, there`s no way to know if Monday is going to be the day.
But what is your thinking about whether or not it`s going to be the day?
GOLDSTEIN: I think this one probably will go to the bitter end the
justices heard argument as you described it in March. They don`t give us
any heads-up, but it`s likely to be such a big fight particularly when you
have two cases on such a historic question as same-sex marriage that some
time in the next two weeks, it`s going to happen. But Monday might be a
little ambitious. But it could happen for sure.
MADDOW: What do you expect to be the outcome of these cases? Do you
expect they`ll be decided at the same time, we`ll hear about both rulings
on the same day?
GOLDSTEIN: Yes, I`d be shocked. They are twins in a sense. They
present a question about a federal law being unconstitutional and the state
law. Some of the same theories that it violates equal protection to
discriminate between same sex couples and heterosexual couples. So, it
would be the court`s practice to do it together.
In terms of what`s going to happen, I would guess there`s going to be
a split result that just as you describe puts it back into the national
First and foremost, I think DOMA is going to be struck down, either an
this theory that it violates the rights of same-sex couples or violates the
states rights, if the state wants to recognize same-sex marriage, I think
Justice Kennedy is sympathetic to the idea that Congress can`t overturn
Proposition 8 it asks this very conservative Supreme Court, our most
conservative Supreme Court ever, a lot to recognize a right to same-sex
marriage. It looked like the center of the court was looking for some way
out of deciding that question.
MADDOW: They could do that by saying we shouldn`t have taken this in
the first place or by deciding it on some technical ground that avoided the
GOLDSTEIN: Exactly right. To say that maybe these plaintiffs didn`t
have the right to appeal because everybody who is responsible for enforcing
these laws is giving up on them. The president says that DOMA is
unconstitutional. The governor in California refuses to defend Proposition
8. That wave of national attitude that you`ve been describing applies to
the elected officials as well. That might, ironically, give the Supreme
Court a way of kicking that critical, fundamental question down the road
while still advancing the ball through the DOMA case.
MADDOW: I`m going to be a bit of a heretic and talk about the
justices as political people for a second. I know they don`t like to be
talked about that way.
But I do tend to think of, especially the younger more conservative
justices as being politically minded. Justice Roberts, in particular, as a
young chief thinking about how he is viewed. And when I think of him as a
political figure, I think of him worrying about how his federal
conservatives might think about his ruling on Obamacare. Maybe he doesn`t
want to be seen as a squish, maybe he wants to be seen as a conservative.
If I extrapolate -- I`m making that up. If I extrapolate, he doesn`t
want a 5-4 ruling when he`s on the side of five voting for gay marriage. I
would think that he wants a large ruling than that. He wants it to be six,
seven, eight nine votes in favor. Am I crazy to think about it in those
GOLDSTEIN: Well, I don`t think you have to even think about it as
just political. You can think about it as somebody who really cares a lot
about the perception of the institution. I don`t think he sweats things a
lot. That`s the nice thing about life tenure. But in all events, it`s
really odd to think that he would be the fifth vote. Justice Kennedy who`s
written two very significant cases on gay rights, who`s really the person
who same-sex marriage advocates are looking to first and foremost by the
court`s conservatives. He would have to be the fifth vote then the chief
the sixth vote almost certainly.
MADDOW: In terms of the rulings, other big rulings that are expected
from the court soon, obviously, the other that everybody is really on
tenterhooks about is the Voting Rights Act. Do you have any other informed
speculation for us on either timing or likely outcomes there?
GOLDSTEIN: That one is probably up sooner. It was argued beforehand.
This is the question of whether Section 5, a really historic provision of
the Voting Rights Act, which says that coverage jurisdiction, who have a
history of discrimination dating back to the 1960s has to get the
permission of the Department of Justice or the court before deciding their
voting systems -- the idea that they would keep moving into new forms of
discrimination if they always had to be sued. And this court a few years
ago shot a shot across the bow of that law to Congress and said you need to
narrow it, you need to cut back the number of covered jurisdictions. And
Congress didn`t do anything. The justices do not like it when it seems
like the other branches of government aren`t paying attention.
And so, that statute I think probably is in big although by a thin
MADDOW: Tom Goldstein, cofounder of SCOTUS Blog -- tom, thank you
very much for your time tonight. You always make these things both clear
GOLDSTEIN: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot. With the Voting Rights Act, with Section 5, I
mean, that is a backbone civil rights protection. And if that goes, and
most informed people on these matters seems to think it`s going to be
going, I have no idea what the political repercussions of that are going to
be but it`s going to be a very big deal in this country in a way that`s
going to last for a very long time. So think I.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is earlier today in Newtown, Connecticut, right outside
the town hall. Reading of names of more than 6,000 people who have been
killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings in
Newtown six months ago today.
The victims and victims` families and community members paused for a
26-second moment of silence to honor each of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook -
- 20 first graders, of course, and six educators.
Since Sandy Hook on December 14th, there have been 10 mass shootings
where at least four people died other than the shooter, himself, in our
country. The most recent was last week when a 23-year-old man killed five
people in a rampage near Santa Monica College in southern, California. The
dead included his father and brother.
He was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and .44 caliber handgun. He
used the rifle to fire about 100 rounds in this 10-minute-long attack. He
had about another 1,300 rounds with him and in a duffel bag, he had 40
separate extended capacity magazines for the rifle that each held about 30
It has been six months since Newtown. And everybody else is saying
that despite the national horror, the national outcry over what happened at
Newtown, the federal level everybody`s been saying that Congress has really
done nothing on guns.
Actually, though, the House of Representatives did pass something just
last week on guns. The Republicans in the House of Representatives passed
one piece of gun-related legislation since Newtown. And it is a bill to
stop the government from buying ammunition, to stop law enforcement from
So, that in the shooting war, the U.S. government is about to declare
on American citizens, the government side will run out of bullets sooner
and then FOX News can win the war or something.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re watching inexplicably without any, any voice
from the Department of Homeland Security, we are watching another purchase
of 7,000 AR-15-like rifles. We are watching 2 billion rounds of
ammunition, principally .40, and .9 millimeter. We are looking at the
purchase of 2,700 light armored vehicles in the midst of, at least
allegedly, 2,700 of those vehicles.
What in the world is going on as the homeland department -- Department
of Homeland Security seems to be arming up and the administration`s trying
to disarm American citizens?
PAT ROBERSTON, TELEVANGELIST: Imagine what homeland security is
doing. It`s just awful. Are we going to talk about how many ammunition
they are stockpiling? Who are they going to shoot, us?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This idea that the U.S. government is stockpiling ammunition
to kill us all was birthed in the usual conspiracy clearinghouses. The
same people who brought you the Boston marathon bombing was faked. Or
maybe it was an inside job and Michelle Obama did it. The same people that
said the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, was a government-made weather
weapon which President Obama used to shoot tornadoes at Oklahoma on
Those are the same folks who have been predicting an American
government arms race against the American people. I mean, why else would
American law enforcement want bullets except to enslave us all?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: So what are they going to do if they
want to violate our Second Amendment rights? Do it with ammo.
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Can you explain this to me?
What do they need it for?
INHOFE: Well, they don`t. That`s the point.
INGRAHAM: Then, but people -- I mean, but it had been purchased
before Obama by the --
INHOFE: Yes. No, not these numbers, now, Laura. Not these numbers.
The best evidence of that is look what happened to the supply. The supply
is gone. And where did they go? The supply, some of it, of course, people
INGRAHAM: Are buying up.
INHOFE: --knowing that we have a president who wants to take away --
yes, they`re buying it up but not to those proportions. Now, I know this
for a fact because I know the people that are, you know, concerned about
this. And so, so, there`s no downside if I`m wrong on this.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: I know this for a fact because I know people are concerned
about this, so there`s no downside if I`m wrong about this. That`s how I
know it is a fact.
It seemed insane when Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma responded to
the supposedly concerned Americans who gave him no downside if he`s wrong
with a bill to actually block law enforcement agencies from buying
ammunition for training. But Senator Inhofe is that kind of guy and you
know, hey, he`s in the minority party in the Senate so this crazy idea of
his, you know, brought to us by people who believe President Obama decides
where tornadoes go, that crazy idea of James Inhofe is not going anywhere
in the United States Senate and that`s true.
But you know what? It passed anyway. It didn`t go anywhere in the
Senate, but Republicans control the House. And in the Republican-
controlled House, they passed this thing. By lots. Look. By a big
margin, 234-192, a party line vote.
They passed their version, the House version of the Jim Inhofe stop
law enforcement from buying bullets conspiracy theory bill. They passed it
as an amendment to the funding for homeland security.
So, when we lament that six months after Newtown, Congress cannot get
anything done about guns or ammunition, or our country`s massive and
worsening problem with mass shootings, it is wrong to lament that because
the Republican-controlled House of Representatives can get something done
on this issue. They can feed the apocalyptic paranoid from my cold dead
hands war against the government conspiratorial gun nut base that they
thrive on. They can feed that. That`s what they can get done.
And in surely totally unrelated news, the Gallup polling organization
today reported that Americans` confidence in Congress has not only fallen
to the lowest level ever recorded since the dawn of modern polling, the
level of confidence that Americans have in Congress has fallen to the
lowest level ever recorded for any American major institution ever in the
history of polling. And since the national catastrophe that was Newtown
six months ago today, this congress has been earning that distinction it
holds in the American mind every single day.
MADDOW: Remember when a few months after his lopsided loss in the
race for Senate in Massachusetts last year against Elizabeth Warren,
remember after that race, after he lost to Elizabeth Warren, when former
Senator Scott Brown got on Twitter and he was like bqhatevwr and nobody
knew what was going on with him and his explanations didn`t make sense and
it didn`t get resolved and Scott Brown deleted everything and we tried to
pretend it wasn`t happening -- it`s happening again. It`s happening again.
What`s this about?
That`s coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The place in the world that sounds most like a made up place
but, in fact, is a real place, is Timbuktu. The name to notes the idea of
it being hard to get to. It has become a Western metaphor for faraway-
ness, for remoteness.
And that is not just because Timbuktu is far away from the U.S., lots
of places are far away but they don`t have the specific connotation. I
think that specific connotation is because Timbuktu is on the very edge of
Africa`s largest desert, the Sahara Desert. It`s located in northern Mali.
And even if you are relatively close to Timbuktu, it is still remote
and difficult to get to. That is one of the many reasons why a current
series of scoops from "The Associated Press" has been fascinating.
Since February, "The A.P." has been rolling out exclusive stories
based on documents they say al Qaeda fighters left behind in a building in
Timbuktu. An "A.P." reporter says she found a stash of confidential al
Qaeda documents in that house, quote, "tucked under a pile of papers and
And if the documents are real, and "The A.P." says they are real, they
reveal a lot of stuff about al Qaeda we did not know before and they
probably did not want anybody to know, stuff like their strategy how they
plan to rule in Northern Africa, once they topple enough governments to do
This is building where "The A.P." reporter found the secret al Qaeda
documents in Timbuktu, and these are the documents, themselves, published
in the original Arabic and translated by "The A.P." into English. "The
A.P." has published four stories in the series so far, all based on the
stash of documents that this one reporter found in a house in Timbuktu.
Some of the stories have had sort of morbidly hilarious details about
al Qaeda`s day-to-day office politics like the one about al Qaeda`s leaders
in Northern Africa being really angry at one of their subordinates for
ignoring their phone calls, missing meetings, disobeying orders and worst
of all, failing to file his expense reports. It turns out that`s a
More seriously, though, reporting from this same "A.P." reporting in
Timbuktu turned up evidence of this al Qaeda group in Mali possessing and
training to use fairly sophisticated surface to air missiles. "The A.P."
actually published the al Qaeda surface-to-air missile training manuals.
So, we have information about what certain weapons certain al Qaeda cells
have and what they`re planning to do with them because of this word ongoing
source of "A.P." reporting.
Sometimes, even the most sensitive and sensational news like that, we
know exactly how a news organization got its hands on this sensitive or
sensational thing they have published that does have national security
ramifications. Sometimes we know. Sometimes it`s a reporter finding it in
a trash heap in a house in Timbuktu.
Sometimes, though, the source of the information is not so easily
traceable. For example, on the same day this week that "The A.P."
published their latest scoop on al Qaeda and the surface-to-air missiles,
on that same day, "The Washington Post" also published a different story
about al Qaeda.
"The Post`s" story was about how U.S. forces sabotaged the al Qaeda
online magazine "Inspire", including in some ways that al Qaeda apparently
was not readily noticing. Things like screws up their bomb-making
instructions to the instructions still sort of looked right but the bombs
that were made by using those instructions would not be bombs that worked.
Quote, "Sometimes the disruption occurs when the magazine is being put
together, intelligence officials said. A U.S. operator might alter a
technical point in a set of bomb making instructions so the device will not
work. The sabotage could go unnoticed for a long time," the source said.
"The Washington Post" knew this sensitive information and was able to
publish it because these unnamed officials leaked it to "The Washington
If al Qaeda was not noticing that their bomb making instructions
online were sabotaged, it seems important that officials leaked that fact
to a newspaper because now al Qaeda knows, right? We do not know why these
officials leaked this information because we do not know who they are.
They are unnamed. We can`t acquire as to their motivations, we can`t
report about their motivations.
But it seems right now like every big news story about national
security, at least in the last couple weeks has been based on leaked
information. Of course, the bombshell about NSA spying was originally an
anonymous leak. The leaker decided to reveal himself. So, now, we at
least know who he was and we know his explanations for why he did it.
But there are also stories like this one in today`s "Washington Post",
which is supposed to be about the shocking elaborateness of President
Obama`s upcoming travel plans to Africa. We do not know who leaked this
travel and security document about the president`s forthcoming trip, but we
do know why it was leaked. Somebody wanted to embarrass the administration
about this. Somebody who`s described by "The Post" as being, quote,
"concerned about the amount of resources necessary for the trip."
In the same story, "The Post" notes these exact same kinds of
preparations were made for previous presidents who traveled to Africa but,
of course, when it is this president, it`s an outrage for some reason.
And, of course, the biggest national security story in the news right
now, not only here but globally, also started in this country with a leak.
A story that broke as we were going to air last night that the Obama
administration has now determined with high confidence, they say, that the
Syrian government has used chemical weapons and that the U.S. will be
arming the rebels in Syria in response to that declaration about chemical
In the last 24 hours since that story broke, this one, too, has been
driven further largely by leaks. I mean, despite the administration`s
efforts to brief reporters on their decision-making ahead of the leaking,
they have not won. The leakers have won.
The Obama administration`s own announcement of this new big escalation
in U.S. involvement in another Middle Eastern country, it was leaked to
"The New York Times" and then leaked to a senator. Senator John McCain,
before the White House had announced anything official to the public on
Syria, went to the Senate floor to tell everybody what the White House was
about to say.
He was asked, hey, how did you know that information before the White
House said it? And he replied that he had to protect his source.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN: Can you give us a sense of how you found out
that the U.S. would be arming the rebels?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`d heard that from a reliable source
that I`m sure would not like for me to give you his name, Brianna. And I`m
sure you understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Then, today, it was unnamed western diplomats who leaked to
"Reuters" that the White House is seriously considering a no-fly zone in
Syria. That leak, despite the fact that White House officials, that the
White House`s official comments on no-fly zone today called the idea
"difficult, dangerous and costly."
The White House has also not yet officially specified what kind of
weapons they plan to provide to the Syrian opposition, but the leaks have
Again, tonight, two officials leaking this time to CNN that the U.S.
is going to send small arms and ammunition and maybe anti-tank weapons.
According to these anonymous leakers, those weapons will be provided by the
CIA, which, of course, would be covert action so there will be no official
disclosure of that action, and so, therefore, leaks.
There`s a lot going on in national security and national security-
related politics right now. But one of the newsworthy things about
national security politics in the United States right now is how many
significant leaks there have been of supposedly closely held information in
recent days. Just about every day for the last couple of weeks, there has
been a significant new leak of some important new national security
And it is in that bewildering context of real information, of
apparently real information, and of fake information that we are now trying
to figure out exactly why the United States has decided to intervene in the
Syrian civil war after holding out for months, and what kind of
intervention we really are about to make. And whether this is a symbolic
step, a political step, or whether this is something that might actually
make a difference in that war.
Joining us now on that last point specifically is NBC News foreign
correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin. He has made three trips to Syria since the
start of the revolution there.
Ayman, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being here.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Great to be here.
MADDOW: Strategically, the U.S. government has said for a long time
that they want the Assad government to fall. Is what they`re doing now
something that will make it any more likely that will happen?
MOHYELDIN: That`s going to be very difficult to assess right now
because of all of the articles that you mentioned. We don`t know what the
weapons are going to be. We don`t know if they`re going to tip the favor
of the fight in the balance of the rebels in the opposition, because
ultimately that`s the stated U.S. objective. That`s what the opposition
But as a result of what the U.S. is doing, that`s being met by other
countries. Russia, China, Iran and now, Hezbollah, are sending their
weapons, fighters and supply to the Syrian regime and you`re having a
little bit of a proxy war.
MADDOW: Thinking about -- I mean, thinking about Hezbollah-trained
fighters and obviously the Syrian formal military, plus the support, you
describe, from Russia and China and from Iran, if that`s the force on one
side, is there any level of shipping weapons to the other side that could
make it a fair fight? Or is this always going to be an unbalanced guerilla
warfare against organized force kind of thing?
MOHYELDIN: Well, you know, from a perspective of military, you can
probably create the balance because if you impose a no-fly zone, that would
require countries, NATO countries like Turkey, the United States, European
countries and there`s no doubt on a military level, the comparison between
the forces that you mention and the NATO countries definitely favors the
NATO countries and their technical capabilities.
But on the ground, the rebels over the past several -- two years of
this revolution, have been able to capture territory, hold on to it, but
they`re not able to prevent the Syrian regime`s air force from bombarding
them or their tanks from advancing on to those cities. That`s why we`re
seeing the spike of the death tool. So, one of the reasons why people are
advocating or arguing for a no fly zone is to neutralize that specific
threat and that`s certainly something that now as we`re learning from leaks
that the U.S. considering.
MADDOW: So, the rebels believe that the air power on the Syrian
government side is definitive. That is the thing that`s making the
difference. And if they were denied the air power superiority, they could
overrun the country.
MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. And it`s also, it was the same argument that
was made in Libya, up until the point that the Libyan opposition-controlled
Benghazi, it was only when NATO intervened and gave them the air
superiority and move on to Tripoli. Same thing here. People are arguing,
the opposition is arguing they cannot keep the territory they are holding,
because once they push out the regime, what tends to happen is the regime`s
air force comes in and just levels the entire area. And that is why
they`re calling for the no-fly zone.
MADDOW: This started U.S. involvement in this fight started as
humanitarian aid, and there was some question as to how much humanitarian
aid actually got there. Then it was supposed to be body armor and night
vision goggles, which is sort of technical assistance, more than
humanitarian aid, again, questions as to whether any of that got there.
But now, it`s military aid, with limitations we`re hearing on the kind
of weapons that we will ship. If that doesn`t turn the tide,
strategically, hasn`t the U.S. already committed itself to the next step
which would be the no-fly zone? I mean, when you talk about in terms of
the way this intersects with U.S. politics, if the idea is that we are
intervening, in order to make a difference, and what we`re doing thus far
might not make a difference, don`t we then have to do the no-fly zone?
Isn`t this kind of a slippery slope?
MOHYELDIN: It`s a very slippery slope. The United States has made
clear what it`s objective is, President Bashar al-Assad has to go. So, you
have on paper, this is a stated U.S. objective and this is the goal. So
everything the U.S. is doing between now and getting to that goal it
Now some people argue that the U.S. allies in the region, Arab
countries are saying, if you are already stating this goal, why are you
proceeding incrementally to get to the specific issue that you know is
going to bring down this regime, and that is a direct U.S. intervention.
And it`s not military. We`re not talking about military again. You
have to pull back from the terminology that`s used. But it`s either no-fly
zones, more diplomatic pressure to neutralize the Russian influence at the
United Nations and getting NATO involved. But at the end of the day, you
have already stated the objective, everything that happens between now and
then is incremental, and people are saying, you need to go all the way to
the end line.
MADDOW: I don`t think there is any controversy at all, other than the
U.S. military involvement. And I think once the involvement -- the
military supplying has started as the beginning of the American military
involvement, there is very little that I can imagine that politically can
hold the U.S. from going all the way, and then we`re there for a decade.
MOHYELDIN: You know, and that part of the world doesn`t want to see
another U.S. military intervention.
MADDOW: This part of the world doesn`t either. Right.
MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. And that`s why you don`t -- it`s highly
unlikely the U.S. is going to have any types of boots on the ground. And
perhaps it shouldn`t have type of boots on the ground. But at the end of
the day, they want to see more U.S. leadership in the region
MADDOW: Oh, I feel like I`ve seen this movie, and I hated this movie
the first time around and the second time around.
NBC News foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin -- Ayman, it`s always
great to have you here. Thank you very much. Thanks.
All right. Still to come, newspaper endorsements that come with the
side of oh, snap. And on the plus side, our old friend Scott Brown.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The largest Spanish language newspaper in Massachusetts is
called "El Planeta." It`s based in Somerville, Mass. And the paper`s
whole history of the paper, it has never endorsed a candidate, ever.
But this year, in the election to fill the Senate seat previously held
by John Kerry, with Republicans running their ever Latino state-wide
candidate in the whole history of the state, "El Planeta" decided to jump
in and make an endorsement. Massachusetts has its ever first Latino
candidate for Senate. So, the largest Spanish language paper in
Massachusetts is going to weigh in.
And today they did. They endorsed the other guy. "El Planeta" did
not endorse Gabriel Gomez. They endorsed Ed Markey, the Democratic
Quote, "You would expect that for a Spanish-language media outlet
during an electoral campaign with the Latino U.S. Senate candidate, the
decision to support him would be easy, but on the matters that most affect
the Latino community in Massachusetts, we think that Edward Markey has
demonstrated a greater commitment to the defense of those issues than the
Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez."
The paper singling out Ed Markey`s support for immigration reform, his
support for Obamacare, his support for funding education and health care,
specifically praised him over Gabriel Gomez on his support for abortion
rights and an assault weapons ban, both of which Gabriel Gomez opposes.
Ed Markey had First Lady Michelle Obama campaigning for him a couple
of weeks ago. Vice President Biden and former Vice President Gore did a
fundraiser for him this week. President Obama was with Ed Markey in
Roxbury, in South Boston this week. Former President Bill Clinton is going
to be doing a Markey campaign rally in Worcester, Mass, tomorrow, which
people in Boston think of s western Mass, but those on western Mass know
it`s central mass.
Then, Vice President Biden is going to be back again this week,
campaigning for Ed Markey again. So, Ed Markey is having a couple of good
weeks. And the election is two weeks away.
But you know it is not all bad news for the other guy, for the
Republican candidate. Because today, Gabriel Gomez, because he just got
Scott Brown, Massachusetts famous half-term senator, Scott Brown, who won
his seat in a special election but then lost it by eight points the first
time he had to defend it. After waiting until this late day in the game to
say anything at all, Scott Brown finally told the "Boston Globe" yesterday
that he will do whatever it takes to get Gabriel Gomez elected.
Bqhatevwr it takes. If you have been wondering what Scott Brown has
been up to since Elizabeth Warren turfed him out of the Senate -- well, me,
This is still his Twitter page, it turns out, which still says Scott
Brown United States Senate -- not anymore. Right next to him, looking into
a glowing, white blob, here is Scott Brown tweeting a picture of himself in
a flag tie that he says it`s him, JC Watts, Governor Constangy. Governor -
- who`s Governor Constangy?
Scott Brown, next tweet. Oh, I see, not Governor Constangy. That was
apparently the governor`s regional director, who Scott Brown mistook for
the governor. The actual governor he says is not Governor Constangy, but
Who is Governor McGrory? I`ve never heard of a McGrory.
Next tweet, Scott Brown. Oh, you mean Governor McCrory of North --
oh, finally knew we would get there.
But you know what? In the middle of that dust storm in Scott Brown`s
mind, there was also this -- this ping that must be really exciting to
Gabriel Gomez right now to have his endorsement. If you miss the bqhatevwr
days, those days are back.
What does this tweet mean from Scott Brown? Really, actually, don`t
bug me, I have no idea, I`m just really, really looking forward to the
United States Senate race in Massachusetts on June 25th. Whatever.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday, but
because it is Friday, you have to go to a particularly interesting prison
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