ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
November 20, 2013
Guest: Jumaane Williams, Ethan Nadelmann
CHRIS HAYES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND HOST OF MSNBC`S "ALL IN WITH CHRIS
HAYES" SHOW: One of the most interesting David and Goliath battles on old
Capitol Hill. We`ve been covering here on "All In" the shocking statistics
of military sexual assault. Last year alone, an estimated 26,000 instances
of unwanted sexual contact including aggravated sexual assault and rape
according to a survey of active duty members of the military. The Defense
Department estimates that 86 1/2 percent of these violent sexual crimes go
unreported, and there`s a clear-cut disagreement about how to deal with
reporting, prosecuting and preventing sexual assault in the military. The
problem, which sadly underline the officer who was in charge of the Air
Force Sexual Assault Unit, Lieutenant Jeffrey Krasinski, was arrested for
groping a woman in a parking lot. He has since been acquitted but was
removed from his post after the arrest.
The way that way that sexual assault in the military gets reported is up
the chain of command, and that system appears to have failed miserably.
There`s a solution, opposed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and
supported by an unlikely bipartisan band of senators, including Republican
senators Chuck Grassley, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz along with most Democratic
senators including Senate Majority Harry - Leader - Harry Reid. That`s a
total of 53 senators at last clear, the clear majority. A strong
bipartisan response epitomized by this remarkable image. Senators
Gillibrand and Paul tearing up as they listen to a Marine Ben Klay talking
about his Marine wife Ariana who was raped at a Marine Corps barracks in
The solution being proposed is an amendment to the defense bill - the
Military Justice Improvement Act - which would remove sexual assault cases
from the military chain of command.
Female: In this survey, this confidential survey, the reason victims
didn`t report is they said they didn`t believe anything would be done. It
also said that either feared or witnessed retaliation, the confidence in an
objective review by someone who doesn`t know the perpetrator and doesn`t
know the victim, doesn`t exist.
HAYES: Essentially, the entire sitting military establishment opposes it.
There`s also powerful bipartisan opposition to Gillibrand`s amendment,
including the Democratic chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl
Levin and Democratic senator Claire McCaskill who is offering a far less
effective alternative. Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey
Graham claim the Gillibrand amendment will weaken the military chain of
LINDSEY GRAHAM, SENIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM SOUTH CAROLINA,
REPUBLICAN: This new system takes a portion of offenses out of the purview
of the commander and sends them to somebody in Washington that nobody in
that unit will ever get to see. Ladies and gentlemen, sexual assault is a
problem, but for God`s sakes, let`s don`t tell every commander in the
military, `You are fired. You are morally bankrupt, you`re incapable of
carrying out the duties of making sure that justice is done in these
HAYES: This is what you want to see a legislative body doing - a big,
important substantive issue with substantive disagreements cutting across
party lines and each side making their case. And despite the differences,
both sides had agreed to allow a vote to go forward on their competing
amendments. Senators Gillibrand and McCaskill and their respective
Republican supporters were in agreement on the remaining debate time and a
vote. Yes, an actual vote in the United States Senate.
But other Republican senators like Tom Coburn objected, insisting that
Majority Leader Reid allow unrelated amendments to be considered. A
classic Republican obstructionist tactic, leaving the majority leader once
again genuinely exasperated.
HARRY REID, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM NEVADA, DEMOCRAT: We`re not
seriously legislating anymore, and we can pass the blame game when we want
to do that. Gee whiz, couldn`t we do that? Otherwise we`ll walk away not
having done anything on this. Or just not doing any legislating here.
HAYES: Here`s Washington in a nutshell. Democratic senators who disagree
over a big important substantive issue, agreeing to debate, but their
alternative to a vote, only to find a group of Republicans would rather
just shut it all down and do nothing. And joining me now is Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat from New York. And, Senator, first your
reaction to the fact that a vote that looked like it was going to happen
today is now not happening.
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, JUNIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM NEW YORK, DEMOCRAT:
Well, I`m very disappointed that we didn`t get to vote tonight. But I`m
still hopeful that we will get this vote tomorrow because it`s all about
making sure victims` voices are heard and that they have a chance at
getting justice in the military.
HAYES: This debate has been intense and spirited and there - it has - it
has crossed along traditional lines - as in party lines. Claire McCaskill
who is a colleague of yours, someone I think you would consider a friend,
has offered a competing amendment. Why do you think it`s your version that
your fellow senator should rally around?
GILLIBRAND: Well, I think all of the reforms that Senator McCaskill has
worked on are very good reforms and they help those cases that actually are
reported go better for the victim. But what they don`t do is - last year
alone there were 26,000 cases of rape, sexual assault and unwanted contact,
and only 3,000 reported. And so the 23,000 cases that didn`t report, they
said the reason was is because they didn`t think the command would do
anything and they feared or they`d actually witnessed retaliation if they
did report. So, for all of those victims, if you don`t create a justice
system worthy of their sacrifice, one where they think they can actually
get an object - an objective review outside the chain of command, they
actually don`t have a hope that they can get justice.
And so they will not report these cases. Those command climates are
broken. That trust that a victim has with her command has been breached,
and they do not believe that justice is possible under the current system
because all roads lead to the commander. No matter where they report these
cases, it`s the commander who decides whether or not to go to trial. And
unfortunately these commanders aren`t lawyers. They`re not trained, they
have no background in prosecutorial discretion, and oftentimes the decision
they make are biased. They`re biased against victims in favor of
perpetrators. Perpetrators are often more senior, more decorated, even
General Amos, you know, head of the Marines said the reason why these
victims don`t report is because they don`t trust us, they don`t trust the
chain of command.
HAYES: Doesn`t that argument though prove too much in the sense that that
is true of every kind of crime and infraction. I mean, the argument that
people make against what you`re proposing is that they are saying you`re
taking a code of military justice, a chain of command, a way of dealing
with every crime and infraction in the armed services and you`re blowing it
up, you`re going to do tremendous damage - that this is revolutionary.
GILLIBRAND: What we`re doing is just taking about 5 percent of the cases
out of the chain of command. It`s a very small percentage. But it`s the
serious crimes. And the reason why we are creating a better justice system
for these serious crimes is both for victims` rights and defendants`
rights. If you are going to be put in jail for more than a year, you have
the right to have the decision-maker be objective and trained. Because
your civil liberties are at risk.
GILLIBRAND: And as for a victim, he or she has the right to have someone
decide the case, not based on who they like better, who`s more valuable to
the unit, who`s more popular for morale - those are unacceptable reasons to
decide whether or not to go forward on a prosecution. So, if the crime is
serious, if it has a penalty more than a year, it demands - our men and
women that serve in this military - demand that they have a justice system
worthy of their sacrifice, one that could actually be transparent and
And look, they have said -- the military generals for 20 years, since Dick
Cheney was the Secretary of Defense -- that there`s zero tolerance for
sexual assault and rape. But I can tell you with 26,000 cases alone last
year, what we actually have is zero accountability. They`ve had this for
long enough, it`s time to revise the system, our allies have already done
this. They didn`t see a diminishment in good order and discipline by
taking out this one legal decision from very high commanders. They
actually saw no difference in good order and discipline.
HAYES: Senator -
GILLIBRAND: They`ve said nothing bad happens.
HAYES: Can I ask you this - this is a question about how you make your
priorities as a member of the legislature, and there`s only a few things
you can really spend a ton of time on. You`ve been a tremendous leader on
this issue. What is it about this issue? Why this? Why have you been so
outspoken and forceful in pushing this?
GILLIBRAND: When you talk to any victim who has survived not just a brutal
rape, but the second indignity - a violation of self when a commander says
it`s your own fault after a brutal rape, or you`re the one who caused this.
Or if you decide to report this, your career`s over, I will not pursue it.
When you hear that from a man or woman who will literally die for this
country and our values, the anger rises from me and says they deserve
better. Men and women who risk everything in this country deserve a
justice system based on core American values that you will have an
objective, fair review based on evidence, not bias as to whether your case
goes forward. It`s the least we can do for these men and women.
HAYES: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thank you so much for your time.
Joining me now, Anu Bhagwati. She is executive director of Service Women`s
Action Network and she`s also a Marine Corps veteran. She`s been a
frequent guest on our show to discuss exactly this issue. Anu, I`d like to
get your reaction to the developments today, and I`d start with this -
we`ve been talking about this over the last several months. Six months
ago, if I asked you to put the odds on Senator Gillibrand`s amendment even
getting a vote or passing, what would you have thought?
ANU BHAGWATI, SERVICE WOMEN`S ACTION NETWORK: Well six months ago I think
the landscape was completely different. I mean, we`ve been working on this
for years but there`s been this tidal wave of attention, of sympathy, of
compassion and outrage by the American people for our survivors in the
military, for our troops and veterans who have put up with this injustice
for not just years but decades. And so, I mean, Senator Gillibrand has
literally worked miracles on the floor of the Senate in these last few
months. But she`s riding the wave of outrage by and from the American
people - I mean the nation is with us on this.
HAYES: Having worked on this issue for so long, and being on the cusp of
the vote and then seeing what went down on the floor of the Senate today
which I was watching live on C-SPAN in which you finally had the Senate
doing the thing you want it to do which is to debate and vote on an
important piece of legislation - to have just completely sabotaged - how
were you feeling in the moment when that happened?
BHAGWATI: Well, some of this is just political theater. I mean, we will
get a vote at some point very soon, and we`re looking forward to seeing who
- which senators - actually vote on the side of justice, on the side of
troops, on the side of veteran`s organizations like ours, like Iraq and
Afghanistan Veterans of America, like Vietnam Veterans of America. I mean,
there`s a huge coalition of organizations around this nation that support
our troops and veterans on this - on this bill. I mean, there`s no
question that a vote for justice is a vote for Senator Gillibrand`s bill.
HAYES: Are you saying a vote against Senator Gillibrand`s bill is a vote
against the troops and veterans?
BHAGWATI: I would say that a vote against Senator Gillibrand`s bill is a
bad political move. I think the American people are watching.
HAYES: Do you think that we are going to see broader institutional reforms
inside the Pentagon if this legislation passes. And if it doesn`t pass, is
there any hope that something changes other than this legislative solution
or is this it?
BHAGWATI: There are always other solutions. There`s no silver bullet, but
at a minimum we have to make sure that the military criminal justice system
is as unbiased and impartial as it can be. And right now we`re not close
to that with the current system we have. So we need to make sure that the
people most qualified to make judicial decisions are actually trained
military prosecutors, not commanders. So, once we start there, yes, we can
work on the even more large-scale reforms that we need everyone to work on
with us. Some of that includes civil lawsuits. I mean, service members
today don`t have access to sue their government for damages for negligence,
civilian employees who are victims of discrimination, harassment, assault
have that very important deterrent available to them. We need that for
service members as well. But that`s the next step.
HAYES: When a sitting general - someone in the Pentagon - hears you say
that, do you think they think, `OK, well this is just the crowbar that
these folks are going to use to pry open the entire system that we have,
that we trust, that we know, that produces the outcomes that we want.`
BHAGWATI: This isn`t that bold of a move. I mean, this is a very common-
sense narrow reform that will take our military justice system into the
21st century. And we don`t argue when we - when we bring our weapons
system into the 21st century, or our tactics and strategies into the 21st
century for war fighting. Or medical technology, or systems to help
troops on the battle field. But for some reason, we`re not bringing
military justice in the 21st century. I`d ask why when our common law
allies have done this without any harm to their systems. When both the
accused and victims of crimes get a better shot at justice from this
reform. I mean, it`s a no-brainer.
HAYES: Anu Bhagwati from Service Women`s Action Network. No-brainer was
never a sure thing in the United States Senate. Coming up ahead on the
JENNIFER FORD: Let this be a lesson to all 50 states and to Congress.
Tonight the people of Albuquerque rejected an extreme agenda pushed by out-
of-state and out-of-touch groups that want to end safe and legal abortion
HAYES: Yesterday the City of Albuquerque handed the anti-abortion movement
a big defeat in a test case with national implications. That story is
HAYES: Coming up. A president gets to choose just who he will award the
Presidential Medal of Freedom to. And so in a lot of ways the medal
recipients reflect his ideas of what constitutes American greatness. We`re
going to talk about that amazing ceremony at the Whitehouse today coming
up. But first we want to hear from you. If you were president, who would
you award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to? Tweet your answers to
allinwithchris or post at facebook.com/allinwithchris. I`ll share a couple
at the end of the show, so stay tuned, we`ll be right back.
HAYES: The anti-abortion right thinks they have discovered the key to
victory in the quest to end abortion rights in this country. But
yesterday, that strategy faced a crucial test for the first time in front
of voters, and the results were surprising.
Female: The bill is passed.
Female: The House of Representatives with mostly Republican votes approved
a bill that restricts nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of conception.
HAYES: The House Republicans have led the way of what has become Senate
Republicans` go-to to get out of trouble with the right wing - the 20-week
abortion ban tout two Republican heretics tried to win back the favor of
the conservative base. When Marco Rubio tried to sell the base on
immigration reform earlier this year -
MARCO RUBIO, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM FLORIDA, REPUBLICAN: Generations
of unfulfilled dreams will finally come to pass.
HAYES: He was called a traitor to the right.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We got a bunch of people in the
Republican Party who are acting like liberals.
HAYES: -- and then Rubio emerged as the champion of federal legislation
that would ban abortion after 20 weeks.
Male: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who`s also mulling a presidential run and
is a lead sponsor of immigration reform, has been invited by pro-life
groups to sponsor a Senate ban on most abortions after 20 weeks. But then,
maybe Lindsey Graham, who`s now facing four primary challengers in South
Carolina, thought he needed a light right-wing pick me up too.
Male: Senator Lindsey today set to introduce landmark legislation that
would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
GRAHAM: The question for us - should we remain silent as a society? Or
should we speak up? Should we speak on behalf of these babies?
HAYES: Republicans think that finally after getting drubbed politically on
women`s issues, they have a winning one. Right now 12 states have similar
abortion bans on the books, including Texas where the ban was part of the
omnibus anti-abortion bill was pushed through the legislature after Wendy
Davis` famous filibuster this summer. The anti-abortion movement has been
throwing their weight behind the 20-week ban as a way to challenge the very
standard set by Roe v. Wade. Part of the reason they think it`s winning
strategy is because it`s so easy to sell Americans on banning late-term
abortions. But last night was a test of that hypothesis.
Female: Albuquerque voters have struck down a late term abortion ban.
HAYES: Yesterday, in Albuquerque, New Mexico voters defeated a ballot
measure that would have a-banned abortions in the city after 20 weeks.
ADRIANN BARBOA, MEMBER, RESPECT ABQ WOMEN STEERING COMMITTEE: We were
happy that we were able to really get our people out in support and that
those voters of Albuquerque took a stand.
HAYES: The question put on the ballot with 27,000 signatures was based on
the junk science that underpinned this whole debate, the junk science that
inspired this ad.
Female: When I learned that babies feel pain at five months, even though
I`m pro-choice, it helped me rethink how I feel about abortion. At a point
when the baby feels pain, shouldn`t we all say that`s just too far?
HAYES: That`s from the Susan B. Anthony list - the same group behind the
Senate`s 20-week abortion ban. And it`s not an accident this fight is
happening in Albuquerque. There are only three clinics in the nation that
are openly providing late-term abortion right now, and one of them is in
Albuquerque. For the anti-abortion movement, this was a test case, the
first of its kind in the country, and the voters turned out in droves.
Female: Young women, our communities of color, people of faith really came
HAYES: Almost 20,000 more people voted than in recent mayoral elections.
Last night, voters of Albuquerque made their choice loud and clear,
delivering the anti-abortion movement a resounding defeat.
Female: It`s really going to serve as a blueprint for other states that
are facing attacks on reproductive rights across the country.
HAYES: For more coverage on the vote in Albuquerque, check out Irin
Carmon`s excellent reporting on MSNBC.com. Joining me now is Nancy
Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Duvergne
Gaines from the Feminist Majority Foundation, she`s director of the
National Clinic Access Project there. She was organizing in Albuquerque to
stop the 20-week abortion ban. And, Duvergne, this is one of those stories
where sometimes you`ll get a small election in a relatively small bit of
turf that becomes essentially a national battle. And we`ve seen it on the
minimum wage fights, we`ve seen it on some others stuff. This was one of
those huge battles waged in a relatively small geographic area. What is
your reaction to the victory yesterday?
DUVERGNE GAINES, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION: Oh, I think it`s huge. I
think anti-abortion extremists thought that they were going to get away
with this, and we proved them wrong. They can`t import from out of state a
measure that the community and really the country will not be deceived by.
I think you know as my colleague said, this was a group of women, young
women, people of color, the voters of Albuquerque coming out in record
numbers to defeat this 50 - by 55 percent (inaudible).
HAYES: You know, I should read the text of it because I think the victory
is all the more remarkable given the text of the question that was in front
of voters. "The citizens of Albuquerque assert a compelling governmental
interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage in which
substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling
pain." Now that is not the language that choice advocates would have
chosen, and yet even with that language it was defeated.
GAINES: That`s right and event the ballot - it was crazy. The ballot
itself had all of this junk science in it, voters were confused that
there`s this huge preamble before the actual proposed ordinance and then it
had for or against at the end, and it`s amazing - in spite of all of that,
there was no alternative fact-based opinion allowed to be on the ballot.
In spite of all of that - all the deception - we - it was soundly defeated.
HAYES: Nancy, this - I don`t think people quite realize what is happening
underneath the radar with the 20-week ban. This is the vehicle - this is
it - this is where the fight is right now, it`s happening in the states and
people that want to make abortion legal in this country - this is their
hope. And there`s two ways that they`re pinning their hopes on it. One,
they think it has political appeal. They think you can get people to come
around and be like this is reasonable. We`re not saying all abortions,
just some. And two, it`s a way to go after Roe. They are begging to get
this thing up before the court.
NANCY NORTHUP, PRESIDENT AND CEO FOR CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Well,
I think that`s right and what`s so important about Albuquerque yesterday is
just like when voters had extreme ballot initiatives in Mississippi, South
Dakota, Colorado twice - the voters rejected it.
HAYES: And that`s what - what`s fascinating here is that polling on this
issue is notoriously difficult to pin down and notoriously slippery.
People are cross-pressured and confounded and confused. You rarely get to
actually just get a referendum. Here we have an actual example of people
voting on the issue.
NORTHUP: That`s right and you also have people directly voting on the
issue, not having their politicians grandstanding with the kind of crazy
laws and harmful laws that were passed in Texas that we`re seeing around
the nation. So it`s really important that what the voters in Albuquerque
said is we understand what this does and we do not want to see a ban, even
in a difficult area as late abortions because we think women and their
doctors should make these decisions.
HAYES: Justice Scalia rejected an appeal from Texas to get an injunction
on the bill there - that`s closing clinics that Wendy Davis filibustered
against. What happens next?
NORTHUP: All right, so we weren`t surprised at the Supreme Court yesterday
did not intervene with what the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had done.
The Supreme Court usually doesn`t do that -
NORTHUP: -- and so it was expected. It was a longshot and we took the
longshot because we`re concerned for the women of Texas.
HAYES: What`s happening?
NORTHUP: So we will be back in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit, and in the District Court we won. We had a full trial and that
judge said number one, there`s no medical reason to have the kind of
restriction that Texas put in which is that the doctors have to have
admitting privileges. No medical reason.
NORTHUP: And also, it`s going to lead to what we`re seeing right now in
Texas - a third of the clinics being closed.
HAYES: The big question is what this court - when - this court takes one
of these cases, what this court does, and that is the thing that has
everybody I think on tenterhooks and that`s why these sort of Democratic
moments of intervention are so crucial and important. Nancy Northup from
the Center for Reproductive Rights, Duvergne Gaines from the Feminist
Majority Foundation. Thank you both.
HAYES: Coming up next on the show -
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of us may be less
talented but we all have the opportunity to serve and to open people`s
hearts and minds you know in our smaller orbits. So I hope everybody`s
been inspired as I have been.
HAYES: Today we got a unique glimpse into how President Obama sees
America. More on that in a few minutes. And coming up later -
TREY RADEL, MEMBER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR FLORIDA,
REPUBLICAN: I`m Vining walking into a meeting about Vine and how members
of Congress can use it better.
HAYES: That was Trey Radel, Tea Party congressman, prolific Viner. He
vines a lot about seemingly everything. There is one thing he probably
won`t be Vining about. And we`ll talk about that ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Early in Oprah Winfrey`s career, her bosses told her she should
change her name to Susie.
OBAMA: I have to pause here to say I got the same advice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So Oprah was at the White House today, as was President Bill
Clinton, country music star Loretta Lynn, and my personal favorite, Chicago
Cubs legend, Ernie Banks. They were just a few of the 16 bold-face names
awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier, the nation`s highest
civilian honor. The list ranges from some of the most famous people in the
entire world, to people you probably never heard of. And every one of them
has an incredible story.
Some of the most interesting stories come from the people in that latter,
unheralded category. The honor, created by John F. Kennedy in 1963, not
only a way to recognize achievement in public service, human rights, the
arts, the sciences, it`s an opportunity for the president to express his
own world view and values. And that is because he, some day she, gets to
select the recipients.
Perhaps you have seen that right wing hash tag, #obamasAmerica, being used
on Twitter any time anything goes wrong. Conservatives will slap that
hashtag on a tweet and blame it on the socialist in the White House.
But if you genuinely want to get a sense of the president`s true vision,
the real Obama`s America, look no further than this medal ceremony.
Legendary activist Gloria Steinem was there. The mother of second-wave
(ph) of feminism, she fought the establishment, threatened the status quo,
challenged patriarchy, all in an effort to help women gain equal footing in
this country. Gloria Steinem was not getting any White House invitations
earlier in her career, but there she was today receiving the Medal of
Freedom. Mario Molina, an immigrant from Mexico, was honored too. Molina
may not be a household name, but he`s one of the most respected chemists of
our time, winner of the Nobel Prize. In 1974, Molina discovered that
chlorofluorocarbons, or CFC`s, were destroying part of the earth`s ozone
layer. After years of warnings by Molina and others in his field,
something amazing happened. The world agreed on the science, signed an
international treaty protecting the ozone layer, and thus helped repair it.
A testament to the fact that problems can be solved.
There were medals posthumously awarded too. One to the first American
woman in space, who later became an inspiration to gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgender folks around the country. Another to a former U.S.
senator, and another to a man who might have been the greatest organizer in
American history. Byard Rustin was one of the chief strategists of the
march on Washington. Openly gay in an era where people stayed in the
closet, he was at the forefront of the civil rights movement. A true
leader and visionary. He, too, was honored by the first African-American
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Now, early in the morning, the day of the march on Washington, the
National Mall was far from full, and some in the press were beginning to
wonder if the event would be a failure. But the march`s chief organizer,
Byard Rustin, didn`t panic. As the story goes, he looked down at a piece
of paper, looked back up, and reassured reporters that everything was right
on schedule. The only thing those reporters didn`t know was that the paper
he was holding was blank. He didn`t know how it was going to work out, but
Byard had an unshakable optimism, nerves of steel, and most importantly a
faith that if the cause is just and people are organized, nothing can stand
in our way.
For decades, this great leader, often at Dr. King`s side, was denied his
rightful place in history because he was openly gay. No medal can change
that, but today we honor Byard Rustin`s memory by taking our place in his
march towards true equality, no matter who we are or who we love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I am really fortunate to know a lot of people, family members and
friends, who worked so hard, with no publicity or engagement, every day to
repair the world just a little bit. And I know because of those
relationships how tempting it is to lose faith, and for years, people like
Gloria Steinem and Byard Rustin and Mario Molina woke up and started their
days encountering a world that looked depressingly similar to the world
they had bid adieu just the night before. Securing equal legal and social
rights for women, stitching a wound in the earth`s atmosphere, ending
American apartheid, these are painfully long, slow, difficult endeavors.
And if you look at who the president chose to acknowledge today, I think it
is clear he grasps that as well as anyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY RADEL, R-FLA.: I want to pay more in taxes. Obamacare rocks.
Congressmen are so cool. Nickelback is awesome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Trey Radel, a Tea Party-backed congressman from Florida elected
last year was arrested and charged after being caught last month buying
cocaine from an undercover officer in Washington`s Dupont Circle
neighborhood. Radel pled guilty this morning, sentenced to one-year
probation. He says he will seek treatment in Florida and has not indicated
that he plans to resign.
Most Americans probably have not heard of Trey Radel until this week, but
to you die-hard ALL IN viewers, his name should ring a bell. That`s
because back during the government shutdown, we ran a series of profiles of
the Republican lawmakers responsible for that mess. We called it "These
are the people who are running the country." Turns out Trey Radel was one
of them. There is a lot more to him than his drug bust, so before we delve
further into his arrest and its implications, here is a re-introduction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Trey Radel represents the good people of Fort Myers, Florida. He
is a husband, a father. He was a TV news anchor, talk radio host, and an
entrepreneur. He once owned a company that registered -- let`s call them
sexually charged web addresses in Spanish. Like casadelasputas.com, which
translates to whorehouse.com in English.
RADEL: As a Republican, I call them conservative values, but really
they`re American values.
HAYES: He also bought up web addresses using the names of his rival
candidates, like Chauncey Goss, son of former CIA director, Porter Goss.
Radel covered all his bases. He bought Chaunceygoss.com, chaunceygoss.net,
and chaunceygoss.org. Criticized by his opponents, he said hey, I`m a
business guy, I bought all sorts of domains. And he believes in things
like capitalism. What else does the congressman believe in?
RADEL: I believe in me as a lover of hip-hop, especially older-school hip
hop, like so-called gangster rap, to Big Daddy Kane and Erik B and Rakim,
who I have a huge affinity for, (inaudible) New York rap, that in listening
to some of this music, as musicians and artists have done for generations,
what they do is open the eyes of people from maybe different walks of life.
HAYES: Congressman Trey Radel is the self-proclaimed hip-hop conservative.
It`s on his Twitter page, where he tweeted rave reviews of Jay-Z`s "Magna
Carta" album. He wrote an essay about his love of hip-hop and about a
conservative message of Public Enemy`s "Fight the Power."
HAYES: What, might you ask, is "Fight the Power`s" hidden Tea Party
RADEL: If you really get down to it, in many ways reflects the
conservative message of having a heavy-handed federal government.
HAYES: Radel began his congressional career fighting the power by voting
against Sandy aid. Remember, he represents Florida. Followed that up by
voting against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and
last month voted to cut billions of dollars from the food stamp program.
When a letter was circulated this summer demanding that John Boehner use
the threat of a government shutdown to support a bill to de-fund Obamacare,
shutdown that has left a toxic canal festering in Brooklyn, just a few
short miles from where Jay-Z grew up, Trey Radel lent his support as a co-
sponsor. That is how Florida Congressman Trey Radel became one of the
people who is running the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: When we come back, we`ll talk about Congressman Trey Radel`s
cocaine bust, and how when it comes to drug use in America, the perception
is pretty different from the reality.
HAYES: Congressman Trey Radel of Florida pled guilty earlier today to
cocaine possession and was sentenced to a year of probation. He is lucky
the bust happened in Washington, D.C., and not in his home state of
Florida, where the crime would have not been a misdemeanor, but a third
degree felony, and the congressman would have faced up to five years in
jail, and as a felon he would have lost his right to vote.
He is also lucky he is not former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Berry, who
was convicted of cocaine possession in 1990 for smoking crack on camera,
but was sentenced to six months in prison. Six months. Today`s courts
documents give a little insight into how Radel ended up in this spot. FBI
and DEA agents learned the defendant had on several occasions purchased,
possessed, and used cocaine. The defendant would purchase cocaine for his
personal use and also on occasion share it with others. It all came to a
head for Radel one night last month, when, according to the court
statement, he met with an acquaintance of his and an undercover police
officer at a restaurant. Radel then told this acquaintance and the
undercover police officer he had some coke at his apartment. When the men
declined an invitation to do a little blow at the congressman`s apartment,
the undercover officer told Radel that he had cocaine available to sell.
At the price, proximately 3.5 grams of cocaine from the undercover officer,
Now, Trey Radel is of course not the only politician in the news right now
getting caught using cocaine. The Mayor Rob Ford show continues to spiral
out of control in Toronto, all of which started with rumors of there being
a videotape of him smoking crack cocaine, a rumor he recently confirmed was
true. And these two stories plastered across North American TV`s force us
to reckon with the fact that across North America, illegal drugs are widely
used by people who don`t fit the comfortable stereotypes of illegal drug
users. Powder and crack cocaine are not just used by those people over
there, the ones on the street corners, the ones in the neighborhoods you
don`t go to after dark. As a matter of fact, when it comes to cocaine,
white people have used the stuff almost twice as much as black people have.
When you are talking about crack cocaine use, the numbers prove it`s almost
as popular with white folks as it is with black folks.
Our policy on hard drugs in North America is prohibition, but much like the
Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and the 1930s, the policy does not
really reflect behavior, and that`s a recipe for flagrant rule breaking,
and hypocrisy. A perfect example of which is none other than Congressman
Trey Radel, who before his bust, voted to drug test food stamp recipients.
Joining me now, Joy Reid, MSNBC contributor, managing editor of Grio.com.
Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy
Alliance, and New York City Councilman, Democrat Jumaane Williams. He`s
running for city council speaker in New York.
Joy, you spent a lot of time in Florida. Here is my reaction, I am torn
between rage at the hypocrisy, and compassion for somebody who seems like
he is going through some serious substance issues.
JOY REID, MSNBC: I actually have great compassion for anybody who has
substance abuse -- you know, even Rush Limbaugh, when he was walking
around buying OxyContin out of a cigar box and calling it the cabbage, one
has to have some compassion for anyone who is drug addicted. But one
wishes that people on the right could transfer that same sense of
compassion to people who are not white and affluent, something they
consistently seem unable or unwilling to do.
HAYES: And that is part of what has been so remarkable, watching these two
things unfold, Rob Ford and Trey Radel, is the fact that there are places
in this country, in which if you`re young and black and caught with that
amount of drugs, you are -- you`re catching a record and you`re going to be
channeled into an entirely different life.
I want to talk about the kind of hypocrisy at the heart of this right after
we take this quick break.
HAYES: We`re back, I`m here with Joy Reid, Ethan Nadelmann, Jumaane
Williams, talking about drugs and hypocrisy, in the light of the big
headlines coming out of Toronto and Washington, D.C. This is a quote from
an article about Mayor Rob Ford from a Canadian publication I thought sort
of nailed the hypocrisy from the perspective up there. Toronto Mayor Rob
Ford said he has tried crack cocaine, while last summer, two laid-off
forklift drivers, one of them fighting prostate cancer, were arrested on
charges of growing marijuana. As someone who represents, Councilman, a
district in which there are folks who are catching cases like this all the
time, what is your reaction to watching this unfold?
JUMAANE WILLIAMS, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: The thing that infuriates me the
most, one, the hypocrisy, and two, people pretend like we`re making it up.
It is just so blatant, there are so many instances when you see people who
look different get treated differently.
HAYES: People think you`re making it up that there is a disparate impact
in the way policing--
WILLIAMS: Oh, yes. They think you`re making up this impact, they think
you`re making up profiling, they think you`re making up the way the drug
laws are disproportionately affecting people. And in a case like this, we
were just talking about in the break about the case of Republican senator,
voted against the legalization of marijuana, got arrested for using
marijuana. And in the case where people look like me, they get sent to
jail instead of getting the services they need for the addiction they may
have, they get sent to jail.
HAYES: That point is so key, Ethan, because what happens, I think, is we
look at the ravages of someone caught in a spiral of substance abuse. And
I think anyone, I would imagine anyone watching this knows someone in their
life. I have watched it happen to people I love. It is just devastating,
the most horrific thing to watch happen to a person. And our policy
prescription for that pain, for that thing is prohibition, right? There is
ETHAN NADELMANN, DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE: That`s right. And of course there
is a class-based distinction, because if you`re affluent, if you`re
probably white, and you have a drug problem, the odds are you`re not going
to get arrested, and you`ll go deal with your drug problem in a private
facility. If you`re poor, if your skin is dark, the odds are you`re going
to be arrested. The only place you will get treatment is through the
criminal justice system, and it is not really treatment when you`re getting
it through the criminal justice system. So there is this hypocrisy where
the laws are theoretically applying to all, but in fact they`re applied
disproportionately to one part of society.
REID: And in Florida, it is even worse than that. Even if you do get
arrested and you`re affluent an white, the rates of adjudicating out your
case are so much higher than for African-Americans, meaning that two
people, one black, one white, get arrested, it`s much more likely that the
white defendant will have that case adjudicated out in something less than
winding up with a felony. Some way of working it out so that you can still
have a life. But African-Americans are being deprived of voting rights at
an alarming rate in states like Florida, where people like Mr. Radel, who
believe that not only should you punish people to the nth degree if they`re
caught with drugs, if they are poor particularly, but if they are poor and
minority, but that you should also go out and search for them within the
pool of people receiving federal assistance, and you should make them pay
for a drug test and prove to you they`re not an addict, simply because they
are poor, prove you`re not an addict.
WILLIAMS: The long-standing effects, because I look how I look and I did
the same thing you did, I now can`t get a job, I may not be able to get
loans to go to school. And the multiplying effect that happens. And then
at the other end of that, there is a blame game going on. When they did
the same thing but not having the same impact.
HAYES: Michelle Alexander, who wrote "The New Jim Crow," which is this
amazing book about the way that our criminal justice system, she talks
about this concept of marking, that part of what the criminal justice
system is doing is it is saying these kinds of people belong over here, and
these kinds of people belong over here. But if you go -- if you live life
in America, and you go through different socioeconomic strata, one thing
you will find is there are substance abuse problems and intoxicants, legal
and illegal, in all of them. If I gave you an assignment to go to Harvard
University and score some coke by the end of the day, you would be able to
NADELMANN: -- interesting, because when people say white people are as
likely to use crack cocaine as black people based upon the evidence, nobody
believed it. But the interesting thing --
HAYES: I remember--
NADELMANN: -- the interesting thing about marijuana arrests is, if you
said to an average (ph) American that if you randomly stopped 100 black
kids, 100 brown kids, 100 white kids, roughly the same percent will have
pot in their pocket, maybe a little less with the black kids, people get
it. And then you ask why are black kids three, five, seven, 10 times more
likely to get busted or arrested, almost any place with pot in their
pocket? People begin to realize there is a racial dimension to this thing.
HAYES: I`m glad you brought up pot. I think one of the other interesting
things here -- there was a lot of humor around Rob Ford, the crack smoking
video, and part of the humor came from the idea of like, basically, I think
a radiological assumption, who does crack. I mean, the embedded--
NADELMANN: When the guy lies for months, and says, actually, the reason I
was lying, is I was too drunk to remember I did crack, that really--
HAYES: Here is what is hilarious about that. Trey Radel did the exact
same thing. The statement he put out, he says, I`m struggling with
alcoholism. Apparently, his father talked to the press today, said his
mother was an alcoholic. Struggled with alcoholism, and under those
conditions, I made a poor decision, extremely irresponsible choice, father
of a young son, husband, a loving wife, I need the help so I can be a
better man for both of them. "
And what is interesting to me there is, if you`re a politician, you make
the distinction between legal toxicants and the illegal ones, and the
excuse is, well, I was just abusing the legal one, and that led me astray
to go to the illegal one, but of course the distinction is essentially--
WILLIAMS: Look at how the assumptions are used to continue the new Jim
Crow. So when you want to do the Rockefeller drug laws --
HAYES: Those are a set of laws that were in New York state that were
incredibly harsh and draconian around drugs.
WILLIAMS: You can focus on the belief that crack is only used by black
folks. When you want to get rid of food stamps, you can use the belief
that only those people are using it. When you want to redo welfare, you
can pretend that it`s only young black mothers (inaudible) that are using
this thing. So those stereotypes are used repeatedly, and when you bring
the hammer down so hard on these communities, you continue the new Jim Crow
process that was talked about in that book.
NADELMANN: Let me just say one thing, because I actually have a lot of
ambivalence about what happened to this congressman. On the one hand, it`s
totally unjust that you have zillions of cops and black neighborhoods
busting all these people, but then I asked the question, why is the DEA--
HAYES: Ridiculous use of resources.
NADELMANN: -- going after someone to set up on a buy bust? And the other
thing is this.
HAYES: 1,000 percent agree.
NADELMANN: This guy is a hypocrite because he wants to drug test people
applying for food stamps, on the other hand, he is one of the few
Republicans who is actually saying let`s get rid of the mandatory minimums,
who is condemning the drug war. This is a new breed. And quite frankly
the only way we are going to see reform is if both Democrats and
Republicans agree the drug war (inaudible).
HAYES: What you want to do in a situation like this, and it`s true of Rob
Ford, who I think is absolutely (inaudible) as a politician, believes in
all sorts of terrible things, and is doing a terrible job running the city.
But what you want to do is when you see someone in the throes of this, you
want to extend compassion outward, as opposed to push, like push the anger
and (inaudible) in the other direction, that is the real challenge I think
at this moment. MSNBC contributor Joy Reid, Ethan Nadelmann from the Drug
Policy Alliance, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, thank you.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "The Rachel Maddow Show" starts right
now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chris. I was so hammered, I
have no idea what I was doing. That`s my cue, that was the problem.
HAYES: One of your drunken stupors.
MADDOW: Exactly, you took the words out of my mouth. Thank you.
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ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES