ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
August 27, 2014
Guest: John Crawford, Jr., Michael Wright, Sam Scarmardo, Austin Long, Ira
Goldman, Sam Seder, John Fugelsang
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight, we are ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just saw him standing, talking on the phone,
and the next frame he`s laying on the ground.
HAYES: Another young black man shot and killed by police. This time
in a Walmart. This time, there`s video. And officials are refusing to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s been a lot of criticism of me for not
HAYES: The victim`s father and his attorney join me exclusively.
Then, a gun instructor shot dead by the 9-year-old girl he was
teaching to fire an Uzi. Tonight, my interview with the owner of the gun
Plus, as Congress asked to be ask for all out war on ISIS, what actual
threat does the group present to America?
And, to recline or not to recline.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s invading my rights to fly and be
HAYES: We will tackle the debate raging across America, the inventor
of the knee defender joins me live.
ALL IN starts right now.
HAYES: Good evening from New York. My Chris Hayes.
New details emerge today in a report by "Mother Jones" about what the
police may have done to fuel the community`s outrage after Michael Brown`s
death, precipitating those protests in Ferguson.
According to the report, hours after the shooting, Brown`s mother and
other community members placed flowers and candles over the blood stains in
the road. But soon, the candles and flowers were smashed after police
drove over them. "Mother Jones" also reports that an officer let the dog
he was controlling urinate on the memorial site.
Today, the man who has represented the friendlier face of law
enforcement in Ferguson, Captain Ron Johnson, announced that police are
reducing their presence in Ferguson after several nights of calm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: As many of you saw today,
the command center is now fully dismantled. The St. Louis City police
officers have returned to normal duties in the city of St. Louis. The
highway patrol and St. Louis County police officers will continue to
control the area along West Florissant Avenue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And today, for the second week in a row, a grand jury in St.
Louis County, Missouri, heard evidence in the fatal shooting of Michael
Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. A time line for that grand jury
investigation is still unclear, and still being pursued by prosecutor Bob
McCullough, just like calls from community and local officials to put
someone else on the case.
In Ohio, however, in another case of a black man shot and killed by
police, the attorney general in that state has stepped in to appoint a
special prosecutor. Attorney General Mike DeWine said yesterday he
assigned a prosecutor with extensive experience in involved shootings to
investigate the death of John Crawford III, a 22-year-old man killed in a
Walmart in southwest Ohio on August 5th, after police received a report of
an African-American man waving a gun around inside the store.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: I`m at the Beavercreek Walmart. There`s a gentleman walking
around with a gun in the store.
DISPATCHER: Does he got it pulled out?
CALLER: Yes, he`s like pointing at people.
DISPATCHER: What does he look like?
CALLER: He`s a black male, probably 6 foot tall.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Police said they shot Crawford after he refused to put down
the gun. But it turned out that what John Crawford was carrying was
actually an unpackaged pellet gun he had taken off a shelf. Police later
released dash cam video from the incident, along with dispatch recordings,
including that 911 call. But they declined to make public a surveillance
tape from inside the Walmart, showing what happened when police responded
on the scene.
The attorney general did allow John Crawford`s family and their lawyer
to view portions of the video. The lawyer Michael Wright said that
contrary to previous accounts, Crawford was facing away from the police,
talking on a cell phone and leaning on the gun like a cane when the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL WRIGHT, ATTORNEY: The tape we saw, saw several shoppers walk
by John, look at merchandise in the same aisle with John, including Angela
William and her children, and they were completely indifferent as to John`s
The video shows that John made no aggressive movements toward the
police. And he was almost -- he was shot almost immediately upon their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The woman named Lisi Johnson (ph), the mother of Crawford`s
children, told "The Dayton Daily News" she was actually on the phone with
Crawford when he was shot. Quote, "He said he was in the video games
playing videos, he went over there by the toy section, where the toy guns
where, and the next thing I know he said, `it`s not real.` And the police
start shooting and they said, get on the ground. But he`s already on the
ground because they had shot him. I feel like they shot him down like he
was not even human."
Joining me now is John Crawford III`s father, John Crawford, Jr., and
the attorney for the Crawford family, Michael Wright.
Mr. Crawford, obviously, my condolence for the horrible, horrible
incident. Can you tell me what it was like to look at that video?
JOHN CRAWFORD, JR., FATHER OF MAN SHOT BY POLICE: It was -- no words
can really describe -- it was unbelievable. It was truly unbelievable to
see that -- to see anyone get gunned down like that was unbelievable.
HAYES: Mr. Wright, when you went into that video, what were you
expecting to see based on the accounts that have been given to you, have
been communicated to you about what the police said happened at the point
of the shooting of Mr. Crawford?
WRIGHT: Well, we knew all along, what we believe to be the facts. I
was expecting basically what I saw, Mr. Crawford entered Walmart, was
shopping, was doing what Walmart wants people to do, he was shopping,
picking things off the shelf, he happened to pick up this bb gun, walked
from one aisle to the other, and at some point he was shot and killed doing
nothing in Walmart.
HAYES: What is going to happen here? I was surprised, Mr. Crawford,
that the attorney general actually stepped in and appointed a special
prosecutor in contrast to what`s happened in Missouri. Do you have
confidence now with this special prosecutor in place that there can be a
fair transparent just process for sorting out what happened to your son and
holding people accountable if that is what is merited?
CRAWFORD: Absolutely not, to answer your first question about having
confidence, Mr. DeWine, absolutely not. Essentially that was not at
agreement, you know? It was my understanding that he would do what was in
our best interest, the family. I`m not -- I`ve not seen him illustrate
To my knowledge, the special prosecutor still works under the
auspices, if you will, of the attorney general`s office, therefore still
from the family`s standpoint, it`s still a biased standpoint, you know?
WRIGHT: What we`re interested in is the U.S. attorney to get involved
in this case. We`ve made requests and we`re interested in the Department
of Justice to investigate this case.
HAYES: What would be the jurisdiction here for a civil rights
investigation, like the one we`re seeing the Department of Justice conduct
WRIGHT: Yes, in addition to the normal investigation that a
prosecutor would do in any criminal matter.
HAYES: Mr. Crawford. I want to ask you just to tell us about your
son. What you want people to remember him for, because he had the horrible
misfortune of being cut down so early in his life, and also, in the context
of a news cycle that`s focused on a number of young black men who died at
the hands of police, he was your son and a person imagine you want us to
know about other than how he died?
CRAWFORD: Yes, my son was, in many ways, as I`ve indicated, he was
your typical 22-year-old young person, you know? Finding his way, trying
to figure out his next move in life. He left behind two children, one of
which, the oldest is one year. That`s John Crawford IV, and Jaden Carlito
Crawford is five months now.
He was just a laid back -- anyone who really knew my son would tell
you that he was a respectful young man, and he was pretty laid back and
carefree. You know? And he was a family-oriented person, as we all are,
we`re people people. We`re just family-oriented and we will continue to
maintain that type of setting -- type of setting in our family and we will
do everything we can to move on.
It`s been extremely, extremely difficult, but we will do everything to
vindicate my son. And that`s how I want him to be remembered. I want him
to be remembered as just your typical young person who was a family man,
who was very, very into family and friends and we`re going to do everything
we can to vindicate and illustrate just that point.
HAYES: Mr. Wright, do you think they should publicly release the
video that you shot -- that you saw?
WRIGHT: I believe that the public has the right to know what happened
in that Walmart. Right now, all the information is one sided. It appears
the information that`s been released shows that, you know, John -- that
John was at fault, he was waving this bb gun at women and children and that
definitely was not the case.
We do believe it should be released because it will show specifically
what happened in this Walmart. John was doing nothing but shopping and the
Beavercreek police came in and shot and killed this young man
HAYES: So, he was standing there, he was not waving the gun around,
the fellow shoppers did not sense (ph) any fear or threat?
WRIGHT: That`s absolutely correct. The last -- we haven`t seen all
of the video, but the last four or five minutes of the video shows Mr.
Crawford standings in the same place, talking on the cell phone, he had the
cell phone in his right hand, he had the BB gun in his left gun, barrel up,
the gun pointed towards the floor and the next thing you see is just Mr.
Crawford laying on the floor.
HAYES: John Crawford Jr. and Michael Wright, gentlemen, thank you
WRIGHT: Thank you.
CRAWFORD: Thank you.
HAYES: Unlike the shooting of John Crawford III in Ohio Walmart,
there is no video of the actual moment when Michael Brown was killed in the
middle of the street in Ferguson two and a half weeks ago. Police say
there was no dash cam video or police body cameras. And the absence of
definitive chronicling of what happened. One thing I`ve heard from some
people in Ferguson and other people I talked to generally about the case,
is the sense that there has to be more to the story than just the idea that
a police officer shot a kid to death and lied about it. And there very
well may be, we do not know.
But it`s also not impossible for police to do something terrible and
lie about what they did. That does unfortunately happen. If you don`t
believe me, look no further than what allegedly happened in the case of
Marcus Jeter. Mr. Jeter was facing five years in prison on criminal
charges, including alluding police, resisting arrest, and assault related
with a 2012 run-in with Bloomfield, New Jersey police, on the side of the
Garden State parkway, until a dash cam video came to light that appeared to
show a very different version of events than the ones police have reported.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER: Get down! Stop right there. Get down! Stop resisting.
Stop resisting! Why are you trying to get (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gun. Get
off my gun!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s worth noting the internal affairs division of the
Bloomfield Police Department had found no wrongdoing by the officers.
After the video emerged, Jeter was cleared of all charges. One of the
officers pled guilty to tampering with records, while the other two were
indicted on charges of official misconduct, conspiracy, tampering of
records and false swearing. And one of them for aggravated assault.
They`ve been seeking to get those charges dismissed.
Joining me now, my colleague Joy Reid, host of "THE REID REPORT".
It`s just an important principle here, because I think that -- we
don`t know anything about what Darren Wilson did, other than some fairly
extensive eyewitness testimony which is impeachable and may be
contradictory. But you do encounter this sort of benefit of the doubt
afforded to the police?
JOY REID, THE REID REPORT: Yes.
HAYES: Which I understand, particularly people have had good
experiences with police. Have law enforcement in their family, law
enforcement in their friendly circle. Want to think the best about people,
want to think that someone doesn`t just cuff someone down in the middle of
the street and then -- but we do have lots of documented cases.
In this case, you couldn`t really see it -- in this case, at one
point, the officer is reaching in, the guy has his hands up and saying,
stop going for my gun. Yelling, stop going for my gun. He has his hands
up. They punch him twice in the face, they ram their car into him. They
throw something into the window to break the glass, and then just
completely lie about it, and don`t turn over this tape.
HAYES: When he is prosecuted.
REID: If you notice, a lot of these stories, one of the common
threads you`ll hear in the officer`s account of these shootings is, he was
going for my gun or I thought he was going for my gun. That`s a very
common element in a lot of these stories.
And, you know, I`ve been thinking a lot about the case of Patrick
Dorismond lately. Patrick Dorismond who was shot and killed by an
undercover police officer in New York City in the year 2000, March of 2000,
undercover cop asked him, where can I buy some drugs man? He goes, I don`t
sell drugs. The cop insists, you do sell drugs. He says, no, I don`t.
They get into a scuffle. Lo and behold, this man is shot in the chest
and he is killed. This was a case that was made famous by Rudy Giuliani,
who was the mayor at the time, releasing Patrick Dorismond`s juvenile
arrest records and saying, he`s no angel.
Another thing you hear a lot. He was no choir boy. In fact, Patrick
Dorismond not only was a choir boy, he went to the exact same Catholic
school that Rudy Giuliani did, and he was a choir boy, literally.
And what happened was, the officer in question said, he went for my
gun. Thought he was going for my gun, I heard somebody say, get his gun.
The person who was with Patrick Dorismond said, no, no, no. The officer
started the fight.
And then you get this he said/he said, where most juries, which were
made up of people who have friendly relationship with police and say, why
would he lie? They say, you know what, he must have done something.
HAYES: And that is why the revulsion at the kind of -- what we`ve
felt like was the sort of character assassination of Michael Brown, you
know, postmortem, with the release of story, because it will ultimately be
germane because, is this the kind of person that could pose a threat? Is
this the kind of person who would have gone for the gun?
The moment when they`re saying, you`re going for my gun, we`ve heard
from some people that from John Belmar in St. Louis County, that Michael
Brown reached for the officer`s gun.
HAYES: In the case of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, unarmed black man
killed by LAPD, the official count is, he went for the gun.
HAYES: In all cases, it may be the case in all of those cases, he was
actually reaching for the gun, although we have video evidence here that
wasn`t the case.
HAYES: But it is also significant in the sense of what kind of self-
defense latitude it gives a police officer.
REID: Yes. And you think about it, either there`s a tremendous
epidemic of black men trying to grab police officer`s guns or there is
something to the fact that police understand in their training what the use
of force matrix is, and I think more Americans, more Americans need to
understand the use of force matrix, which means that, if a police officer
stops you, and you raise your voice, they`re allowed to escalate their
force to the next level.
REID: If you touch them, they`re allowed to escalate force to the
next level, if you do anything that they could reasonably say, could have
caused the officer death or serious bodily injury, they can shoot you. And
police officers do understand the use of force matrix, whether they`re
poorly trained or well-trained. They know that.
And they understand that, there`s a distance away from the person that
was shot that matters in the case. They do understand their own self-
And so, you do start to wonder -- again, it`s either an epidemic of a
lot of black men trying to grab police officer`s guns, knowing all of the
issues that happened police and black men or this is a standard defense.
HAYES: Or there is a level of paranoia or fear that is messing with
the perception of the officer in that moment, which is also a possibility.
REID: Absolutely. And that gets down to the cases of the sort of
institutional feelings between races, which is a whole bigger issue than we
can get into.
HAYES: Joy Reid, thank you very much. You can catch Joy`s show, "THE
REID REPORT", weekdays at 2:00 Eastern on MSNBC.
All right. A 9-year-old shoots and kills her instructor with an Uzi
machine gun. I`m going to talk to the operator of the gun range where that
HAYES: An important question: should you be able to recline your
airline seat? I`ll tell you where I come down on the debate that`s burning
up the Internet and talk to someone whose invention to deal with this issue
has made a lot of people very angry, ahead.
HAYES: Mohave County sheriff`s department in Arizona announced that
no charges will be filed after a horrible shooting accident Monday when a
gun range instructor handed a fully loaded automatic submachine gun to a 9-
year-old girl. She lost control of that weapon and killed her instructor.
"The New York Times" is reporting that authorities in Arizona were
investigating what went wrong. A partial video of the incident has been
released by the sheriff`s department. It does not show the actual
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INSTRUCTOR: You have to keep that held in, otherwise the gun won`t
Take this hand, and grab it right in there. Just like that.
OK, turn your -- this leg forward. There you go, just like that.
All right, go ahead and give me one shot.
INSTRUCTOR: All right.
All right, full auto --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: According to Mohave County Sheriff Jim McCabe, the girl safely
and successfully fired the nine millimeter weapon several times when it was
set on single shot mode. He said the gun was then put on fully automatic,
you can hear the instructor say "fully auto", before the girl fired again,
with the instructor standing off to her left. The weapon recoiled and
drifted left as the girl squeezed off an undetermined number of rounds, as
she maintained position but lost control of the Uzi.
The instructor was 39-year-old Charles Vacca. At least one bullet hit
his head. He was pronounced dead at a hospital Monday night.
The girl was on vacation with her family when they visited Bullets and
Burgers Adventure on Monday, which is a nickname for part of the Last Stop
camping outpost in White Hills, Arizona, near the border with Nevada. The
range built itself is, quote, "a private outdoor range with unique Desert
Storm atmosphere and military style bunkers where you can shoot full auto
on or machine gun -- on our machine guns."
The operator of the gun range told the local TV station the little
girl got to handle the gun with her parents consent because she was over 8
years old, the range`s age recruitment for firing the high powered weapons.
And joining me now is the range operator for Arizona Last Stop, Sam
Sam, first of all, my condolences, you must be going through a
horrible grieving period. This was a co-worker of yours. Have you been
SAM SCARMARDO, ARIZONA LAST STOP: He was like a friend and brother
HAYES: Yes, have you been able to understand what went wrong?
SCARMARDO: Well, we`re having -- you know, we`re having a policy
review on what went wrong up there in reviewing the videotape, I`ve
requested the entire videotape because that one was rather -- you know,
it`s rather brief, and everything, and we`re going to review that and
decide if we have to make any changes in the policy up there. We have an
unblemished record for the last 14 years here in the range, and for the
last two years up there at Arizona Last Stop. We`ve never had an injury of
any type, not even a band-aid injury.
HAYES: Is there any -- is there any regulation or legal guidance
about how young someone can handle what weapon? I know you told a reporter
that a 5-year-old can shoot a .22 if they have their parents consent.
Could a 5-year-old also conceivably shoot an Uzi? I mean, is this
something that you`re making --
HAYES: -- an individual call about?
SCARMARDO: Basically, it`s subject to individual call.
But we don`t let anyone enter the range except on Eddie Eagle Program,
unless they`re 8 years old or older. We grow some pretty big 8-year-olds
out here in Arizona.
HAYES: But that`s not legally required, that`s your judgment?
SCARMARDO: Store policy.
HAYES: As a policy.
SCARMARDO: Right. We just don`t -- kids I think -- kids are too
immature. This was a very mature young lady, and something she wanted to
do, and her parents were treating her.
This was a big -- something that was high in her bucket list to do,
and her parents took her out to do what she was going to do. You know, I
don`t think if she had gone to any other range, she would have the same
thing. She had been able to able to shoot any automatic weapon she wants.
I mean, I don`t think she`d want to be shooting the big heavies, but, you
know -- it`s something she did, it`s a tragedy, my heart goes out to her.
And I`ve been praying for three days. I called our church, Presbyterian
Church, we had a prayer circle going for Charlie, when first heard about
it, we had 500 or 600 people praying for Charlie. We were all praying for
him my wife and spouses and girlfriends of some of the employees went up
We`re a very tight knit group here. It`s more like family. I don`t
want any of my people to stub their toes, let alone get killed in the
process. It`s heartbreaking.
HAYES: Sam, I got to say, you know, people that are watching this
that don`t spend a lot of time around guns, or unfamiliar with gun control,
even people who (INAUDIBLE), I think people are saying, why would you let
an 8-year-old shoot an Uzi? I mean, what`s the possible upside? The down
side is so horribly clear.
What do you say to people that just look at this and their jaws are on
SCARMARDO: Well, you know, I tell you, we`ve had probably 100,000
people shoot on our two ranges combined, and we`ve had of that, probably
1,500 to 2,000 have been kids.
Kids, we have (ph) a lot of automatic weapons, we do birthday parties
for children here, we do bachelor and bachelorette parties at both
facilities. And the upside is, it`s part of the Las Vegas entertainment
industry. That`s what we do up here.
If there wasn`t a large demand for it, we wouldn`t do it because we
have -- you know, it`s a large capital investment up there.
HAYES: Do you -- are you going to continue doing this? I mean, next
week, if someone --
SCARMARDO: We`re reviewing the policy to age, of course. We`re not
going to close the range, obviously, and we`re not going to stop the range
operation or the rental of automatic weapons, whatsoever. We`re going to
review everything, talk to some counseling, talk to the NRA and NASR,
National Association of Shooting Ranges, see what they recommend. If we
have to raise it, you know, what we`re kicking around right now is like at
Disneyland, you know, if you`re not this tall, you can`t shoot. So,
whatever we come up with.
And my guys on each one of my range officers, they`re all thoroughly,
thoroughly trained. They never supposed to break the 6:00 where they`re
standing behind the designated shooter at the time and these guys are all
former military and/or law enforcement. Everybody that works for me is
former military of law enforcement.
We hire nothing but vets or retired cops and -- you know, they`re
trained, they`re fully well trained and very familiar with firearms, I
don`t want anybody to get hurt. We`ve got first aid kits here, and doggone
things are brand new. Nobody gets hurt here. We`ve never had an injury at
HAYES: Sam Scarmardo from Arizona Last Stop -- thank you very much.
There is lots of freaking out over the threat that ISIS poses to the
U.S., but should there be? That`s ahead.
HAYES: American Writer and Journalist, Peter Theo Curtis, landed in
Boston last night, where he was reunited with his mother after almost two
years in captivity. He was kidnapped in 2012 by members of al-Nusra Front,
an Al Qaeda-affiliated Militant Group, operating in Syria.
And, because I work in cable news, one of the first thoughts I had,
when I saw he had been released over the weekend and had landed safely in
the U.S. was, "I wonder if we can book him for the show."
Because as a journalist, I would imagine he has quite a fascinating
and important story to tell, and since he himself is a journalist, he
understands that thought process, which is why his brief address this
morning to the media assembled outside his mother is house was so perfect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER THEO CURTIS, AMERICAN WRITER AND JOURNALIST: First of all, I
want to thank you all for coming out here on this beautiful Wednesday
morning. In the days following my release on Sunday, I have learned bit by
bit that there have been literally hundreds of people, brave, determined
and big hearted people all over the world working for my release.
They have been working for two years on this. I had no idea -- when I
was in prison, I had no idea that so much effort was being extended on my
behalf. And, now having found out, I am overwhelmed with emotion. I am
also overwhelmed by one other thing, is that total strangers have been
coming up to me and saying, "Hey! We are just glad you are home. Welcome
home. Glad you are back. Glad you are safe. Great to see you."
I suddenly remember how good the American people are, and what
kindness they have in their hearts. And, to all those people, I say a huge
thank you from my heart, from the bottom of my heart. And, now, I am so
grateful that you are expressing all this interest in me. At the same
time, I have to bond with my mother and my family now, and I cannot give
you an interview and I cannot give you talking back and forth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): Can you tell us what it feels like?
CURTIS: That is all I can say to you, but in the future I promise, I
will respond to your mails and I will be present and I will help you, guys,
do your job. I am one of you. And, I know what you guys are going
through, and I want to help you guys, and I will be there. And, I will
respond, but I cannot do it now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): What is the first meal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): Welcome back. Welcome back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Welcome back indeed and welcome home.
HAYES: Today, all eyes are once again on ISIS, as Shirley Sotloff,
the mother of Steven Sotloff, an American journalist still being held by
ISIS, pleads to the leader of the militant group for her son`s life. Video
comes as the U.S. continues airstrikes targeting ISIS in Northern Iraq.
And, administration officials tell "The New York Times," the U.S. has
started to mobilize a broad coalition of allies behind potential American
Military Action in Syria.
Meanwhile, a law enforcement official tells NBC News, it appears to be
true that a second American was killed while fighting with ISIS in the same
incident as American Douglas McCain. A National Security Council
Spokesperson told NBC, "We are not in a position to confirm those reports."
But, it is precisely these reports along with the constant stream of
terrifying news and image out of Iraq and Syria, that people -- well,
freaked out about ISIS. But, should we be? There is not much of a
question whether or not ISIS is doing horrific things. They have posted
literally hours of video on the internet of them doing horrific things.
But, it is recently as last Friday, the FBI and the Department of
Homeland Security sent a bulletin to local Federal and State Law
Enforcement saying they were, quote, "Unaware of any specific credible
threats against the homeland and find most threats to U.S. Homeland by
support of ISIS," quote, "not credible."
The administration, itself, is not as it is contemplating further
military action to region does seem to want to answer the question about,
whether or not ISIS is an imminent threat to the American Homeland or to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Last Thursday,
Secretary Hagel called ISIS, quote, "An imminent threat to every interest
we have. This is beyond anything that we have seen." Does the President
agree with this defense secretary`s assessment?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, what Secretary Hagel
said, and I believe you quoted earlier. You may have seen more of the news
conference than I did, but what is true is that there is a serious threat
that is posed by ISIL. They have --
HENRY: An imminent threat. They have imminent threat to America?
EARNEST: Well, it certainly is an imminent -- I think as you read
there, American interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Austin Long, Assistant Professor of the School
of International and Public Affairs in Columbia, where he teaches security
policy. He was deployed to Iraq as a civilian analyst adviser to the U.S.
OK, ISIS does a good job of being terrifying. They put out videos
that are terrifying. They put out videos that are savage, that are
unspeakably repugnant and horrific in the acts. That is the distinct
question from how big a threat do they represent to the U.S.?
AUSTIN LONG, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I think they
are, as the clip said, I think they are a threat to United States interests
but not an imminent threat to the United States` homeland. In the entire
time that the United States was in Iraq fighting them when they were Al
Qaeda in Iraq, there was no attempt to attack the U.S. homeland. So, their
focus is on fighting in the region much more than fighting an enemy 6,000
HAYES: I was reading an analysis, somewhere today and forgot who is
saying this. And, said, "The very thing that makes them so terrifying,
which is the amount of territory they are gobbling up is the thing that
makes it difficult for them to strategically orient themselves at doing
what Al Qaeda did, which is pulling off a remote attack on the U.S.
homeland. Because the Al Qaeda did not have to -- they were not running a
state, they did not have to govern anything. ISIS now is running a thing
they call a state.
LONG: Absolutely. And, on top of that, there are states that are
fighting on multiple fronts. So, they are fighting the Kurds in Iraq.
They are fighting the Iraqi government. They are fighting the Syrian
government. They are fighting other Syrian rebels. I doubt they have very
much energy left to put and they even plotting attacks on the U.S. homeland
if they wanted to.
HAYES: We should also note that if you watch a video of someone
getting beheaded, and I think it is horrific, so do people that are under
ISIS` control. This is a headline just from today, Wall Street Journal.
An Islamist rules Mosul resentment of Militants grows. There is a story
about an adult who is being stoned to death on television. And, you know,
it turns out that people do not like that.
LONG: Yes. Al Qaeda and Iraq -- when it was Al Qaeda and Iraq, it
provoked a lot of resistance that eventually became the unbar wakening and
led to many Sunnis mobilizing against it.
HAYES: It was so murderous, so savage, so indiscriminate. They were
bombing Shiite Mosques, left and right. In fact, it was being -- it was --
Zarqawi, you know, getting these letters from Al Qaeda Central Command
saying, "You are bad for the Al-Qaeda brand. You are so savage."
LONG: Absolutely. He has a very different theory of victories.
Zarqawi did and I think Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did than Al-Qaeda. And, I
think it points to fighting locally.
HAYES: What is that theory of victories? What is the agenda here?
They say it is to get enough room to establish a caliphate?
LONG: That is exactly it. I mean Al Qaeda`s goal, originally, was to
displace the Saudi Monarchy that they thought was corrupt, but they were
not strong enough to do it. ISIS in contrast has shown itself to actually
be strong enough to take and hold territory at least for now. So, it is a
very different way of fighting and looking at the world.
HAYES: There is the question of these Americans that are going over
there, the westerners. It is I think scary to people to think that people
have, you know, western passports. They are going and training with ISIS.
They could come back. The FBI says that it seems to be downplaying that
threat. What is your sense?
LONG: I think that is a real threat, but not a threat of a major
attack. It is a threat of maybe an attack on the scale of some of the
shootings we have seen on U.S. Military installations. So, it is unlikely,
they will come back in a group and plan a sort of 9/11-style attack. In
part, because many of them are getting killed over there as were noted
HAYES: Yes. I was reading that earlier today, and was talking about
these western recruits are essentially like cannon fodder, right? I mean -
- and the people who are running ISIS are happy to have these sort of often
naive Brits or Americans coming over and throwing them into battle but are
not necessarily trusting them as far as we can tell with very big
LONG: Absolutely, so that is exactly correct. I think they provide
good cannon fodder, good suicide bombers, because they are far from home
and can be manipulated. But, I think at worst, you are looking at maybe
something like Faisal Shahzad, who had a similar experience with the
Pakistani Taliban. So, that was an unsuccessful attempt to a fairly small
HAYES: This is the Times Square bomber that was unsuccessful,
HAYES: Also, if it were successful, it is terrifying.
LONG: Yes. It is nothing to be concerned about, but it is not an
imminent threat on a massive scale by means.
HAYES: Austin Long Of Columbia, thank you very much. I really
LONG: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. We will be right back.
HAYES: The great airplane seat controversy of 2014, ahead.
HAYES: The topic that a top editor of "The New York Times" today
called, quote, "The Israel-Palestine of transit discussion." It is
inflaming passions across the nation. It is the question of whether to
recline or not to recline your airplane seat. This debate sparked by an
incident that has been just waiting to happen in which finally did happen
on Sunday. Setting was United Airlines Flight from Newark, New Jersey to
Denver that would ultimately be diverted to Chicago after an argument broke
out between two passengers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: It all began with a $22 gadget called
the knee defender.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: It keeps people from reclining.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Especially designed for couch class
flyers, who need protection from reclining seats. Officials say a man
seated in economy plus was using the device, which attaches to the tray
stable to stop the woman in front of him from reclining her seat try as she
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: After the man refused to remove his knee defender, which is
legal but banned by most major U.S. Airlines, the woman stood up, turned
around and threw a cup of water at him. According to official, the spat
prompted the pilot to land in Chicago where the two passengers were
removed. The flight then continued to Denver without them, landing an hour
and a half late.
OK. I want to know here that the inventor of the knee defender
predicted that it may cause some consternation. Product actually comes
with a courtesy card. You suppose to hand to the person in front of you,
the one you are preventing from reclining against their will, which notes
diplomatically that this may be an inconvenience and encourages angry
passengers to complain not to the owner of the knee defender but to the
airline for not giving people enough leg room in the first place.
I did not know until the story hit that there are two kinds of people
in the world, apparently. People who recline their seats and think it is
fine, and people who feel that people who choose to recline their seats are
in the words of Gawkers` Hamilton Nolan, selfish anti-social monsters, who
will likely die friendless and alone.
For a long time, people who felt that way had to stew silently in
their seats and then came this device and clearly we have now entered some
hubs in aerial abyss from which we might never return. Joining me now is
the inventor of the knee defender, Ira Goldman. And, Ira, before I get you
to defend your knee defender --
IRA GOLDMAN, KNEE DEFENDER INVENTOR: All right.
HAYES: OK. Was this a publicity stunt? Did you hire these two
people on this plane? Because I cannot think of no better publicity for
the knee defender than the cost of two tickets and a theatrical splash of
water in the face.
GOLDMAN: Well, if I did that, I waited 11 years to do it, because the
product has been on the market for 11 years. So, if I am that clever, I am
also rather slow in the up take.
HAYES: So, that is a denial.
GOLDMAN: That is a denial. There were two people on the plane who
acted badly, and not only badly, but the person who owned the knee
defender. It says on every knee defender ever sold, "Be courteous. Do not
hog space and listen to the flight crew."
HAYES: But, Ira, you have -- first of all, I love the -- if I am not
mistaken, you worked on Capitol Hill, right?
HAYES: You worked in congress.
HAYES: This strikes me as like the kind of thing that a staffer
lobbyist writes into the tax code, which is like maybe just -- like it is
within the letter of the law, but sort of violates its spirit. I mean, you
created a device to basically rend apart what little social contract exists
on an airline, and then do hand out passive aggressive cards as a kind of
pseudo-apology for it.
GOLDMAN: Well, first of all, there is a card, we also have on the
website, if you do not buy a knee defender, just to say to the person
sitting in front of you, "By the way, I am back here."
And, I am not used to invoking God, but it was not the knee defender
that caused the problem. The airline set things up, and it just so happens
my legs are that long, when I sit down in my seat while the plane is parked
at the gate. My knees already hit the seat back in front of me.
So, without the knee defender, my kneecaps are going to stop the seat
from reclining. And, unfortunately, that is what happened too many times.
Sometimes with the hard part of the back of the seat, and so I came up with
the knee defender.
HAYES: How popular has this item been?
GOLDMAN: Well, I have spent about $1.25 advertising it, and it has
been selling for 11 years next month. So, people want it. Nobody wants to
buy a device and carry it around and use it, except they give up trying
And, people write to me and say, "I heard about this, two years ago.
I did not want to buy it. I was figuring that I do not need it really, but
then I just came back from a flight that was just so terrible. Please send
me." And, they will order the knee defender.
HAYES: Is not there some sort of policy solution here as opposed to
this kind of every person for themselves approach? I mean, either you can
recline your seat or not. Do you think it is unethical to recline your
GOLDMAN: The problem is, if my legs are already there or anybody`s
legs are already there, unless this is a quantum airplane where my legs can
be in the same place that the seat back can be on alternating universes --
HAYES: That is the solution -- you call yourself an inventor. We
need, clearly, a seat or tray that can occupy the same bit of space as
one`s knees and we will solve it.
GOLDMAN: Yes. That is a bit beyond me, but that will do it. And,
people are not using this to hog space. They are doing it to -- people
have their laptop computer screens cracked when a seat reclines. People
have babies on their laps that get smacked in the head with these things.
And, by the way, planes have been diverted over the years in the last 11
years for a lot more.
HAYES: For a lot more. That is true. That is true. The inventor of
the very controversial knee defender, Ira Goldman. Thank you.
GOLDMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. So, are there ever specific situations where
recliners like myself should not recline? Some images as evidence, ahead.
HAYES: The debate over reclining your airline seat in full swing.
The website, Deadspin posted two reader photos today, showing what it looks
like when someone reclined their seat into a 7`3" professional basketball
player, Hasheem Thabeet.
I mean just look at that. That is rough. The guy in front looks
pretty comfy. Now, I stand by my pro-reclining stance. I will admit that
maybe when you got a 7`0" behind you, a little bit of compassion in order.
Joining me now, MSNBC Contributor, Sam Seder, host of "Majority
Report," comedian, John Fugelsang. I did not know until -- I would be
totally honest. My feeling was, the seat can recline, you basically -- in
purchasing the seat, you have purchased the ability to recline. WHEN the
person in front of me reclines, I do not front because that is fine. That
is what we are all doing. I did not realize until this thing happened that
there are people -- I understand you are one of them, who think it is wrong
JOHN FUGELSANG, COMEDIAN: Actually, no, but I am delighted you are
finally taking this issue on, Chris. For a long time now, I have really
put down your show because of your cowardice on this issue that splitting
the first world apart.
HAYES: It is splitting --
FUGELSANG: I do not have a dog in this fight, because I am 6`2". So,
it is horrible or somewhat less horrible. Those are my two options when I
fly couch. The important thing to remember here is, that it comes down to
common courtesy, maybe an uber system where we can do it ourselves and not
let the airline decide. But, if the anti-recliners win, Mr. Hayes, if they
win that means they can move the seats four inches closer.
HAYES: Great! That is exactly right.
FUGELSANG: And, that is what this is all about. So, there is one bad
guy and it is the airline. And it is us for --
HAYES: That is right. And, Spirit Airlines, which I have flown,
which -- I do not know if they -- do they charge you for water? They
charge you for pretty much everything, maybe not water. They do not allow
their seats to recline at all. And, I am sorry, it is horrible; like there
is a little bit of a moment when the plane achieves cruising altitude, even
in a very uncomfortable flight.
FUGELSANG: That is kill your Spirit Airlines.
HAYES: Which is that you can --
SAM SEDER, HOST OF "MAJORITY REPORT": Well, at least you know that
when you are going on there, that is the thing -- that is what is
problematic with this guy stopping it, right? But, I will say this. I do
think there is some utility, because you can get your laptop smashed. You
can get your knees -- But you -- I am not in anyway affiliated with the
HAYES: He is got to you too -
SEDER: But you put it on there, and it is a way of giving you a heads
up, a warning that the seat is coming back --
SEDER: -- And, at that point you say, Oh, one second let me move my
laptop and then you take your --
FUGELSANG: That is not going to happen.
HAYES: Here is the deeper issue is that, A. Airlines have figures out
a way to basically sell -- the reason this controversy exists, I realized
today is that airlines have figured out a way to sell to actually assign
the property rights at a biddable price for every square inch of an
But, the square inches of the space that are between the unreclined
and reclined chair. Every other bit of space, everything that can be sold
has been price differentiated, and identified, you can pay to board
earlier. You can pay for like a little more leg room, or a lot more leg
room and it is the last thing left. And, what inevitably will come out of
this, I predict, is that they will pay, that you will have to pay to
FUGELSANG: Or pay to have the guy in front of you not recline.
HAYES: Right. Exactly. Josh Barrow wrote a piece in sort of great
liberal fashion saying, "We can just resolve this, that you pay the person
in front of you to not recline."
FUGELSANG: Exactly, you do it that way. But, again, you are right,
they just want to take that little bit of space away. And, I am a catholic
martyr, any time I am in a seat. It is horrible. It is awful. But, the
fact is that this is the warden wanting us to fight. Because, this debate
and the bigger this debate gets, the closer they get to leaving us no
HAYES: This is sort of Ira`s point in his I think somewhat
illustrated progressive note that you suppose to give the people --
SEDER: I do not want to have to read that --
HAYES: Also, it is super creepy if the person behind you is like,
SEDER: And, then you have to measure --
FUGELSANG: How is that any different than I want a piece of tarp I
can slap over somebody`s window for the iPad bothering me?
HAYES: But, then give them a note.
FUGELSANG: Yes, exactly. Here is a nice little note to make you feel
good about this.
HAYES: When people complain about this, the amazing thing is like,
this is what will market will bear. The market will bear precisely this
much discomfort. And, you can talk about how you do not like it, but your
revealed preferences are that this is the price you are willing to bear for
it, everyone is willing to bear.
SEDER: I mean, and part of this is also -- you know, the airline has
to figure out a way in which they can enforce things that are not
criminally -- they can enforce the "Do not disconnect the smoke detector in
the bathroom because it is FAA regulations."
SEDER: They is no FAA regulations about this then they have to figure
out a way in which they can enforce these things, you know? So, it does
not come to something like this. First of all, I think it is inappropriate
for someone to throw water on you.
HAYES: In a flight in midair.
FUGELSANG: This was a case of the right of two white people finding
each other, Chris. That is what this was and again --
SEDER: I do not know that.
FUGELSANG: You will never get rid of reclining seats as long as you
have red eye flights. You need them.
HAYES: MSNBC Contributor, Sam Seder; Comedian, John Fugelsang, thank
you. That is "All In" for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. I will never recline
my seat into your show.
HAYES: Please do. I think that is my takeaway here. We all recline.
MADDOW: All right. Fair enough.
HAYES: That is life. We all give, we all get.
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All In With Chris Hayes, Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES