THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
September 30, 2014
Guest: Carol Leonnig, Robert Bristow, Irv Halter
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks. And thanks to
you at home for joining us this hour. It was a private dinner last night
at the White House close to the press. Reporters were allowed to come in
and take just a photo or two. But this dinner in honor of the Prime
Minister of India, it was not a White House standards, a big flashy head of
state at the White House kind of event. The Prime Minister himself you can
see is sitting right across the table from President Obama. The newly
elected Prime Minister of India, he drank only warm water throughout the
dinner. That`s because he`s fasting right now for religious observance.
So yes, he`s visiting head of state from the biggest democracy on earth.
But all in all, this was a pretty low key event by White House standards in
honor of the new prime minister of India. That`s how it went at the White
House last night. Contrast that with what happened the last time a prime
minister from India visited Washington back in 2009. That one was the
first full blown state dinner. Capital S, capital D state dinner of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tuesday night, big dinner. The Obama`s big coming
out party at first home involved a Washington`s hard to get invitation on
the world of politics and entertainment that there dozens of bold face
name. And then two we were just playing fool. Tareq and Michaele Salahi,
a Virginia couple somehow managed to get into the state dinner, even though
on the official guest list, their names were nowhere to be found.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On behalf of Michelle and
myself, welcome to the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once inside, they snapped photos with everyone from
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to Vice President Joe Biden.
Twice. The pictures were then posted on Michaele Salahi`s Facebook page
with the caption, "I was honored to be invited to attend the state dinner."
The Secret Service has determined proper procedures were not followed at
the first checkpoint that night by an statement says, "Everyone who enters
the White House grounds goes through magnetometers and several other levels
of screenings. No one was under any risk or threat."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Totally random people waltzing into the White House during the new
President`s first state dinner. They got so far as to shake hands with the
new President of the United States during this formal event where you think
there would be security everywhere. The Salahi scandal, that was the first
public huge Secret Service failure of the Obama administration. But it was
not the first huge Secret Service failure of the Obama administration, that
was just the first one that happened in public. Because we later learned
that a couple of weeks before the Salahi has walked into the White House,
without an invitation, in November, 2009, just a couple of weeks before
that, during President Obama`s trip to Asia, specifically on the way to the
President`s visit to South Korea, there was a U.S. military plane carrying
70 Secret Service agents that got held up in Thailand. The plane with all
those Secret Service agents aboard, 70 of them, it was not able to take off
from Thailand and leave for South Korea where President Obama was headed.
Because one of the Secret Service agents on board that trip who was
supposed to be on that plane had gone missing. Specifically it turned out
that he had gone missing in a brothel in Thailand. Rather than hold up the
whole plane of dozens of Secret Service agents for any longer, a Secret
Service supervisor volunteered to stay behind in Thailand to go fined the
guy. Did find the guy, he was drunk in the aforementioned Thai brothel.
The Secret Service eventually shipped him home, he flew him commercial,
apparently at great expense to the American tax payers. They pass out
drank in the Thai brothel Secret Service agent who held up a plane filled
with other agents during a presidential trip abroad, he reportedly faced no
punishment for having done that.
And then came the very serious incident in November, 2011 when shots were
fired at the White House. A man parked six football fields away from the
White House succeeded in hitting the White House seven times with rifle
fire, he managed to hit the upstairs residence of the White House while the
President`s daughter and his mother-in-law were at home. We now know just
how much the Secret Service bungled the response of that shooting in
November, 2011 to the extent that it took the agency four days to realized
that the White House had been the target of the shooter and that he had in
fact hit the building seven times.
But it`s important to note that the shooter parked -- see where that red
spot is in the bottom of the map there? That`s where the shooter parked on
Constitution Avenue just below the ellipse. That`s where the shooter was
located that night in November of 2011th when he shot seven times into the
White House. He was on the southern perimeter of the White House grounds.
Turns out, in the months before that shooting, top Secret Service officials
had repeatedly pulled Secret Service agents away from that portion of the
White House grounds. The agents who were supposed to be patrolling that
area or be stationed in that area near where the shooting occurred, agents
that were supposed to be there were instead dispatched to drive to Maryland
to check on something at the request of the head office. Those agents were
diverted from that beat on the Southside of the White House to instead,
drive to Maryland and check on the director`s assistant. The director of
the Secret Service had an assistant who lived an hour away from Washington
and she was apparently in an ongoing fight with her neighbor. And that`s
who some of those Secret Service agents who was supposed to be patrolling
the area around the ellipse, they were watching out for that person in
Maryland instead of watching the southern border of the White House
grounds. Up until a few months before that shooting from just on the other
side of the ellipse, on the southern side of the White House grounds. When
they were sent out to Maryland to go check on the director`s secretary,
they called it operation moonlight. And they kept tracked of how many
times they were sent. That was 2011.
Fast forward a couple of years, to the spring of 2013, the spring of 2013,
hotel staff at this very fancy Washington, D.C. hotel, it`s called the Hay-
Adams, they called the White House to report that a Secret Service agent,
was demanding to be let into a woman`s room at the Hay-Adams. The woman
did not want the agent to be let back into her room. And I say, back into
her room because the agent had reportedly met this woman at the hotel bar
and spent some time with her in her room that night. But when he left her
room, he accidentally left a bullet behind from his government issued
Secret Service handgun. You know, as you do. He realized his, ops, he
apparently wanted to get back into her room to retrieve his bullet. She
did not want to let him back in and so ensued a hullabaloo when the Secret
Service agent tried to force his way into the woman`s room.
The investigation that followed revealed that that agent was a senior
supervisor in charge of overseeing the President`s security detail. And in
trying to force his way into this woman`s room to retrieve a bullet into
his Secret Service handgun, he apparently forgot that that was not his only
indiscretion. It was also discovered in the routine follow up thereafter
when they were going through the agent`s blackberry. Turned out that he
and another senior Secret Service supervisor had been sending sexually
suggestive to a female subordinate at the Secret Service. Both that guy
with the bullet thing and the other senior supervisor were removed from the
President`s security details. But not before was discovered that this same
senior supervisor who had sent those sexually suggestive e-mails to the
female subordinate who have been caught leaving the bullet in the random
lady`s hotel room. He, specifically, had also been one of the agents
tasked with investigating what went wrong in the giant hooker scandal, the
previous hitter that involved a whole bunch of Secret Service agents hiring
prostitutes and getting into disputes over how much to pay those
prostitutes ahead of the President`s trip to Cartagena in Columbia back in
So, the bullet in the hotel room supervisor was picked to lead the
investigation into the humiliating prostitution scandal in Columbia. With
this ongoing scandal and with this ongoing story, it seems like every time
there`s a new detail, every time we find out something new, another shoe
drops a few days later or a few weeks later, a few months later. And the
second shoe was way worse than the first shoe. And now recently in the
last eight months or so, it seems like something else has happened. The
pace appears to have picked up. And these stories are now just coming out
one right after another. Let`s start with the end of last year, December.
We saw this strange story unfold in South Africa.
Remember this? This was the memorial for South African President Nelson
Mandela. President Obama gave a speech at the memorial, and at some point,
it became clear that the person standing right next to the president there,
the person who was interpreting that speech for the hearing impaired was
not actually interpreting that speech. He was making it up. He was
essentially just standing there next to the President and moving his arms
around nonsensically which was sort of funny at first and definitely
strange and, obviously, offensive to some people for obvious reasons. But
then when you stepped back from what was so strange and funny about it, and
even offensive about it, it turned out to be sort of alarming. Right?
When it turned out that the man standing next to the President on that
stage, seemed to be quite mentally unwell. And he had once faced a murder
charged in South Africa. That kind of thing is not supposed to happen.
The Secret Service specifically is the reason that sort of thing is not
supposed to happen. They`re not supposed to let it. Three months later,
three Secret Service agents from the President`s security detail had to be
sent home from the Netherlands. Because they were found to be totally
drunk. One was found passed out into a hotel hallway on an official trip.
Two months later, in May of this year, a male driver followed a car that
was carrying President Obama`s daughters. He followed it into the White
House gate. He was following the motorcade and, in so doing, he was
allowed into the gate by the Secret Service, the man later explained that
he was lost. And that`s how we ended up following the motorcade. That
doesn`t explain why the Secret Service let him in.
And then September happens. A man jumped the fence and makes it all the
way to the White House. First, we`re told that man was not armed. And
then we learned, in fact, he was armed with a knife. At first, we`re told
he`s tackled as soon as he made it into the White House. And then we
learned actually no, he made it deep into the White House before he was
stopped. We initially thought he had ran through the White House by this
path that we have marked here in red arrows. Now we think he actually took
this path before he was tackled by a Secret Service agent. And then,
today, as the director of the Secret Service was testifying about this
incident with the guy getting into the White House with a knife, as she was
testifying, it`s further reported that the person who finally put a stop to
this was not even a Secret Service agent who was posted to the White House
or to the area where he brought down that armed intruder.
The agent who finally brought this guy down inside the White House was not
even on duty. He was an agent who happened to be passing by. He had been
assigned to a totally different detail. The agent was literally just
walking by that part of the White House when this intruder with a knife
happened to be sprinting through and he was therefore able to take the guy
down. Had that happenstance with the off duty agents not happened, who
knows where is that armed man would have ended up inside the White House.
Oh, wait there`s more. As we were absorbing that somewhat terrifying
detail today, we also learned that just three days before that incident
with the armed guy getting all the way into the White House and running a
mock, three days before that, Secret Service agents allowed President Obama
to ride in an elevator with a man who had a criminal record and a gun.
Quote, "A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for
assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during
a September 16th trip to Atlanta. The private contractors aroused the
agents` concerns when he did not comply with their orders that he stop
using a phone camera to videotape the President in the elevator. Agents
questioned the man when they exited the elevator and then used a national
data base check to learn of his criminal history." At some point in this
encounter, the man agreed to turn over his gun which came with a total
surprise to the Secret Service agents because while they had been having
this interaction with this man in the elevator with the President Obama,
they didn`t know that the guy with the elevator with the President had a
It is stunning to have these stories break one right after another in this
news cycle. These new breaches, these new incredibly damning details about
the previous breaches that had not been fully explained before. I mean, to
have these stories breaking, even as a Congressional hearing is underway
that`s supposed to get the current director of the Secret Service to answer
for the agency`s shortcomings, right? But it`s not a coincidence I think
that we are learning all of this new information from the press right now.
It`s not just a coincidence, it`s not just an ironic fact that we`re
getting all the stuff right now. In fact, it seems like it may be, itself,
a symptom of what is wrong with the Secret Service right now. I mean, all
of this reporting that we`re getting right now, about new things that went
wrong inside the mission to protect the President that we didn`t know were
wrong before, all of this new reporting were getting is coming from leaks.
Leaks presumably if they`re not from inside the agency.
There are at least linked to this agency which, after all, is a Secret
Service. In an agency where things keep going very wrong, and they seem to
now be going wrong on an accelerated pace. One of the ways they are going
wrong. Is that people who think they`re something that needs to be
addressed. People who think the Secret Service is screwing up. People who
think the Secret Service is not keeping the President safe are not bringing
that information to their supervisors or to their chain of command inside
the Secret Service. Instead, they`re leaking it to reporters and to
members of Congress. The ranking member of the committee that held this
oversight hearing today, democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings had this to
say after the hearing today about all of the leaks and the whistleblowing
and this new reporting and what it says about this agency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: When you have Secret Service agents
who are more comfortable talking to members of Congress as whistleblowers
and speaking to the -- because they`re in fear that they don`t believe
they`re not going to be listened to, it seems to me is almost impossible to
correct that situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s almost impossible to correct that situation. It is a
situation that must be corrected though. It must be.
And what are we going to find out next here?
Joining us now is Carol Leonnig, "The Washington Post" reporter who has led
the way on so much of this reporting about the Secret Service. Carol,
thanks very much for joining us again. It`s nice to see you.
CAROL LEONNIG, REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": And you to, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, you said last night on the show. Who knows what we will
discover as days go by within 24 hours? Then we have two new revelations.
This security contractor with a gun incidentally with a criminal record as
well, in an elevator with President Obama and also the fact that the person
who took down the intruder into the White House with a knife was an off-
duty agent. Do you think we now understand the truth about those stories?
And did I accurately summarize them when I just did?
LEONNIG: Yes, of course you did. I didn`t mean that to be like a tease
last night when we were talking. I mean, I just feel as though there are a
lot of details that the Secret Service isn`t willing to provide. But it`s
obvious to me, that sources we`ve cultivated for a year and a half who care
deeply about the reputation of this agency want to make sure that this
becomes public. And we`ll see as time goes on, what else we learned. But,
you know, on the issue of the person on the elevator for security
contractor, if I can start with that Rachel, if it`s OK with you.
LEONNIG: You know, it`s something that we had heard about in the last
couple of days. A couple of things were going on. A whistleblower, very
motivated, very caring, very worried about the agency, went to the
Congressman Chaffetz`s office, concern about protecting himself and also
making sure that this lapse was made public. At the same time, a source
was coming to me with some more information and another came after that,
these people said come on, there`s this guy who jumped the White House
fence, made it through five layers of security on the way across the north
lawn on September 19th but you guys don`t realize that about four days
earlier, the President was on an elevator, a small utility elevator inside
the CDC complex with a guy with a criminal record and with a gun. And I
have to say that when I first heard this I thought, sure. But it checked
out. And the Secret Service told us tonight that they are investigating
this to try to understand better what exactly happened. And how the
security protocols that are supposed to protect the President when he`s
traveling broke down.
MADDOW: In terms of, I mean, I`ve said, I don`t want you to talk about
your sources, I`m not trying to pry that out of you but when you talked
about this motivated whistleblowers and people who have aren`t in a
position to know, who are very concerned about the reputation and the
performance of this agency, why are they convinced that making this
information public is the thing that will fix the agency? Or do folks who
are in a position to know about this stuff and were concerned about it for
all the right reasons, do they know what it would take to fix the agency
that they have something that they`re blaming for what`s going wrong?
LEONNIG: I think you and I talked about it a little bit about last night.
I don`t want to make a group of people into one cliche. But I think there
are multivarian (ph) as you said so well last night. Reasons for the
concerns people have. One, they think there`s too much complacency, people
have known for at least a year-and-a-half, two years, say they think this
agency is reactive. It hasn`t seen in assassination attempt. It doesn`t
expect to see one. It`s not properly training and girding itself for one.
Two, the training is pretty meager. And the standards that the Secret
Service is supposed to uphold are not sort of drilled every day, every
week. You know, if nobody`s coming over trying to assault the White House,
you can get kind of tired, and you can get kind of bored. And that is one
of the challenges for the Secret Service.
Third, the morale, the staffing, the uniform division, the group that`s
responsible for this complex. You know, they`re treated as sort of second
class citizens within the Secret Service and those guys are beat down.
They`re getting called in to work on their off days more than they`re
getting to take them off. And they`re understaffed. For some reason, the
Secret Service has decided over the last three to four years, just to not
backfill this positions and to pay for other things. And what I keep
hearing from people who care about the luster they remember of the agency
is boiled down to sort of one thought which is, why can`t we be the strong
thing we used to be? Why do we seem to be complacent, reactive, old
school, why can`t we be what we once where?
MADDOW: And it`s going to take some serious reinvention. The more we
learn about the level of things that have gone wrong over the years and a
lot of that is because of your reporting. The more is clear that this is
going to have to be a big change, not a small one.
Carol Leonnig, reporter for the Washington Post. Thank you for your
ongoing coverage on this. Thanks for talking to us about it. Thanks.
LEONNIG: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more ahead, including some late-breaking news
about the Ebola virus in the United States. We also thankfully have the
best -- in the world. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: For the first time, somebody who was not known to have the Ebola
virus has been diagnosed with having it here in the United States. Over
the past couple of months, the American shadow of the Ebola outbreak in
West Africa has been the story of the American aid workers and doctors who
were working knowingly in areas of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea that
are combatting the Ebola outbreak. And those countries have been more than
6500 cases of Ebola reported already. More than 3,000 people are known to
have died. And the American shadow of that West African crisis has been a
small number of American doctors and aid workers who are working in those
countries who are infected with the Ebola virus while in Africa. And then
they were flown back home to the U.S. once those American aid workers and
doctors knew that they were sick.
Under infection control protocols, those American aid workers and doctors
have successfully been treated so far at hospitals in Georgia and also in
Nebraska. Today though, the Centers for Disease Control confirm for the
first time, a patient who was not symptomatic and who had no idea that he
was infected. He traveled to the United States and then was diagnosed with
Ebola here. The patient traveled here from Liberia, we don`t know if he
was living in Liberia or if he was just visiting there. But the person
reportedly left Liberia a week ago Friday on September 19th. Again,
showing no symptoms, not knowing that he was sick. On September 20th last
Saturday, he arrived in the U.S., it`s a long flight, so he arrived the
The person did not start to feel sick until four days after arriving here
in the U.S. So, that would be the 24th last Wednesday. The person first
sought medical help two days later, this past Friday the 26th. But
unfortunately even though the person sought medical help at that time,
nobody appears to have recognized what it was or what it might be. The
person was sent home from the hospital on Friday, but then he came back to
the hospital and sought medical attention, again, on Sunday. And, at that
time, the patient was put into an isolation ward on Sunday. Just two days
ago, that happened in Dallas, Texas. Well, the Texas Department of Health
Services state lab in Austin. That lab was certified just last month to do
testing for the Ebola virus.
This patient has been in an isolation ward in Dallas since Sunday. That
state lab in Austin says, they received a blood sample from this patient
early this morning at about 9 a.m. local time. That tasks as of early this
afternoon, turned up positive for Ebola. The Centers for Disease Control
in Atlanta confirmed about positive results. And that`s when the CDC
called their press conference today to announce the first ever case of
Ebola diagnosed in the United States.
So now what happens, best as I understand it, is this. The patient is in
intensive care, being treated under infection control protocols at Texas
Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Here`s two questions about what
happens. Number one, what are the prospects for this patient? What are
the options for his treatment? Is the hospital well-equipped to handle
undoubtedly be this difficult if not novel case to treat? And also of
course to handle the infection control protocols to ensure that he doesn`t
infect anyone else now that he`s known to have Ebola. It`s not to one
question about handling this patient, this known patient now in Dallas.
But here`s question two, by the time that it was announced by the CDC
today, there`s about four day window between when this patient started
feeling symptoms of disease on the 24th on Wednesday, and when he was admit
to that isolation ward in the hospital on the 28th on Sunday. Wednesday to
Sunday. Ebola is not transmitted by people who are not symptomatic. Once
people are symptomatic, they can transmit the virus to others by blood and
body fluids, not through the air but by blood and body fluids. One a
person has a fever and is showing symptoms, this person was, they tell us,
symptomatic and not in the hospital for most of the time between Wednesday
Well, CDC says, it will work to identify everyone exposed to that patient
during that four day window. They say it`s only a handful of people as far
as they know. But here`s the question. How will they find those people
who were potentially exposed when this man was symptomatic? And how much
of a risk are those people at? And do we have the capacity to safely treat
those people if any of them end up themselves becoming sick?
Joining us now is Dr. Robert Bristow, he`s the medical director of
Emergency Management for New York Presbyterian Hospital. He`s also the
director of Disaster Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians
and Surgeons. Dr. Bristow, thanks for being here.
DR. ROBERT BRISTOW, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: My pleasure.
MADDOW: Did I say any of that wrong?
BRISTOW: No, it was very accurate right on.
MADDOW: OK. For emergency room doctors, what`s the immediate response in
terms of recognizing that this is what they`re dealing with and the initial
handling of it?
BRISTOW: Yes. So certainly for us in the Emergency Department, we`re on
the front line. So, it`s very important for us to identify a patient that
potentially have Ebola. And then move them quickly to an isolation room.
MADDOW: Does it have to be a more advanced form of isolation than you
would use for other more common infectious disease?
BRISTOW: Actually, Ebola is not very easily transmitted. It`s much less
infectious than say, the common cold of the flu. It`s actually through
secretions. So in the Emergency Department, it`s really the first health
care professional that patient has contact with in a process we call
triage, is just asking those questions. If the patient present with
symptoms of fever or other symptoms of a viral infection, headache, nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea, then the next question should be, you know, have you
travel to West Africa? And then, more specifically to the countries that
are affected. You know, we`re specifically asked about Sierra Leone,
Guinea and Liberia. If the answer to those questions are yes, then we
immediately place a mask on them and we move them into an isolation room,
you know, where we can do additional questions and testing, if necessary.
MADDOW: As the CDC tries to now find anybody who may have been exposed to
this patient when he was symptomatic or before he was in the hospital.
MADDOW: Will they be giving blood tests to those patients to check to see
if they`ve been exposed or was it the sort of thing where you just watched
to see if symptoms develop?
BRISTOW: Yes. There`s really no benefit to do an early blood testing.
The blood test won`t be positive until the patient becomes symptomatic.
And often the blood tests aren`t positive until three days, after the
patient becomes symptomatic. So what we normally do is if we are worried
about an exposure, the incubation period, the time period between when the
patient is exposed and developed symptoms can be two to 21 days.
So we monitor patients that have potentially been exposed for 21 days
primarily for fever. So we asked the patient to actually take their
temperature at least once, often several times a day. And if they become
febrile, then we bring them in for isolation and additional testing.
MADDOW: As somebody who deals with these things in a big way and a small
way, as practicing in your involvement in academic medicine, are you
worried about the ability of Western industrialized health care systems
like ours to be able to contain this as it inevitably spreads around the
globe just because they travel so easily?
BRISTOW: Not at all. I mean, I think we`re well equipped to actually
identify those suspected cases and make the early diagnoses and prevent the
spread. So very little chance that we`re going to have an outbreak in the
MADDOW: Dr. Robert Bristow, medical director of emergency management from
New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Bristow, I know that one of the things you`re planning on doing is
going to Sierra Leone later this month to work on this. So thank you.
BRISTOW: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We have the best new thing in the world tonight that will protect
you from one of the most insipid tricks of our political age. It`s a trick
that will never work on you again. You just have to see this thing. It`s,
like, 90 seconds long. You`ll be mesmerized. But then you will be
protected forever from something in political ads that otherwise always
works. It`s incredible.
And that is coming up right at the end of the show. Stay with us.
MADDOW: A week ago today in Colorado Springs, a conservative five-term
congressman named Doug Lamborn did a campaign event in which he took
questions from the audience. And in response to one of those questions,
Congressman Lamborn dropped a bit of a bombshell. He said that he and
others have been privately urging generals in the U.S. military that they
should quit their post in order to make a political point against President
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please work with your other congressman on those sides
of the aisle and support the generals and the troops in this country
despite the fact that there is no leadership from the Muslim Brotherhood in
the White House. It was not necessarily a question but a statement.
REP. DOUG LAMBORN (R-CO), ARMED SERVICES: You know what, I can`t have you
(INAUDIBLE) but -- if you let me reassure on this. A lot of us are talking
to the generals behind the scenes saying hey, if you disagree with the
policy that the White House has given you, let`s have a resignation. Let`s
have a public resignation and state your protest and go out on a blaze of
glory. And I haven`t seen that very much. In fact, I haven`t seen that at
all in years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Doug Lamborn, sitting member of Congress, he`s on both the House
Armed Services Committee and the Committee for Veterans Affairs. He says
he is talking to generals behind the scenes to encourage them to resign
from the military.
The tape of those remarks emerged on Friday but Congressman Lamborn made
those remarks on Tuesday of last week, which happens to have been the day
after we launched a brand new air war in Syria.
So a serving member of Congress on the Armed Services Committee, trying to
get generals to quit at the start of a new war while we`re already in an
ongoing war in Afghanistan and another war in Iraq.
Which generals has Doug Lamborn been trying to get to quick? Who else
besides Congressman Lamborn has been doing this? When he says a bunch of
us have been doing this, does he mean other members of Congress are doing
this, too? Why does Doug Lamborn think it helps the United States to have
generals resigning in the middle of a war or three?
Since we first covered this story on Friday, Doug Lamborn`s comments have
blown up a little bit both local and national news sources have been asking
Congressman Lamborn what he was talking about.
Congressman Lamborn`s office told us on Friday that when the congressman
said, quote, "A lot of us are talking to generals behind-the-scenes," his
office told us that, in fact, the congressman was not referring to any
current actions. He was, quote, "referring to things in the past."
This weekend, the spokesman for Mr. Lamborn elaborated on those past times
that the congressman had urged generals to resign. He told the "Colorado
Springs Gazette" he was talking about negotiations he had done when defense
budget cuts were suggested last year. And also when President Obama ended
the "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" policy. So that was when Congressman Lamborn
and others, he says, were encouraging generals to resign from the military.
At least according to his office.
I have to say, that may be the explanation. That`s not really what it
sounded like when he said it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAMBORN: Let me assure you on this. A lot of us are talking to the
generals behind the scenes saying, hey, if you disagree with the policy
that the White House is giving you, let`s have a resignation. Let`s have a
public resignation and state your protest and go out in a blaze of glory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman Lamborn is now trying to say that he forgot to put
that whole statement in the past tense. That when he said a lot of us are
talking, that`s not at all what he meant. Really he was only trying to get
generals to put the military in the past. In past years. When we`re also
That explanation has not been enough to comfort members of even Doug
Lamborn`s own party. Republican Congressman Mike Kauffman of Colorado
tweeted a link to Doug Lamborn`s comment and then said this.
He says, "As a Marine combat veteran, I know to keep my politics off the
battlefield." Today, Republican Congressman Corey Gardener who`s running
for Senate in Colorado, he also distanced himself from Mr. Lamborn, out a
statement saying that there`s no room for partisan politics in the
Both Mike Kauffman and Corey Gardener are in tough, close races right now
in Colorado. So it`s understandable that they would not want to be
associated with, you know, effectively trying to inspire mutiny in the
military during wartime.
But in addition to those two guys in Colorado, as luck would have it, Doug
Lamborn is also in a race of his own right now. And it turns out that Doug
Lamborn, the guy who says he is secretly urging generals from the U.S.
military to quit the military, Doug Lamborn is himself right now running
against a retired general.
One with 32 years experience in the United States Air Force. He`s a
conservative Democrat named Irv Halter. And he`s now running in a
congressional race in Colorado that just got a lot more interesting.
I should tell you that we asked Congressman Lamborn again to come on the
show tonight to talk about this matter. His office kind of laughed and
then gave us a very firm no to our request.
I live and hope that they`ll change their minds. We are, however, able to
talk tonight with the retired Air Force major general who`s running against
Doug Lamborn in Colorado`s 5th District. His name is General Irv Halter.
General Halter, really happy to have you here tonight. Thanks for being
IRV HALTER (D), COLORADO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Good evening. Thanks
for having me.
MADDOW: As I understand it, General, your district has a huge population
of service members and veterans. How do you think service members and
veterans hear this when Doug Lamborn makes a comment like this about
wanting generals to quit?
HALTER: Well, I think their reaction was what my reaction was which was I
was appalled. In fact I had to ask them to show it to me twice before I
believed what I heard. And having talked to veterans around the district,
we have almost 100,000 here, they -- when they`ve seen this, they`ve all
had the same view. A sitting member of Congress, it is absolutely
inappropriate for them to be encouraging military members especially senior
officers to resign their commissions to make a political point.
MADDOW: Is there any reason to believe that he`s just making this up? I
mean, there`s always the possibility that he hasn`t done anything like
this. He wants to stand tough in front of a crowd. This is in fact
something outlandish that he`d never do. Or do you think that Congressman
Lamborn has actually been trying to essentially pull off this kind of coup.
Is there any evidence that this sort of lobbying is happening?
HALTER: Well, I certainly don`t have any evidence but there are a lot of
questions out there. I mean it is interesting that Mr. Lamborn, one, will
sit here on your show and talked about this with you. He hasn`t talked to
our local TV stations to the best of my knowledge either. And he is
basically now in a position where he`s spending time trying to back off
from the remarks. But he has not denied them.
He`s basically stayed with his story. And rather it was in the past or in
the recent past or the distant past, the fact is, as you mentioned, he has
done this. And I think if it was a made-up story, by this point, he would
have decided to reverse course and just admit that he had (INAUDIBLE).
MADDOW: General Halter, you`ve had more than three decades service in the
United States Air Force. You served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Been awarded
the Bronze State. You`ve been through a lot in the military, up and down
the ranks of the military. You served as a fighter pilot.
After that kind of career, it seems to me that the world is sort of your
oyster, at least in your field. The last thing I could imagine wanting to
do if I had your career was to go serve with these guys in Congress.
Can I just ask your motivation? What made you want to run? Was it Doug
Lamborn who made you want to run?
HALTER: Doug Lamborn was a part of it. I mean, I think like most
Americans, we`re all appalled at Congress` inability to get much done. And
this is not a partisan issue. I think it`s -- frankly owned by both
parties. That said, I think it is time for people who have served the
nation to step up and use the experience they`ve had in the military, also,
my four years in business, and bring that practical experience to try to
get something done in our Congress. And I -- called to come back to
MADDOW: Irv Halter, retired Air Force major general, Democratic candidate
for Congress in Colorado against the newly nationally famous Doug Lamborn.
General Halter, thanks very much for your time tonight. I really
appreciate it, sir.
HALTER: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
We`ve got lots ahead including a sorely needed best new thing that will
MADDOW: Best new things still to come. But first there is this. Just a
few months after the last U.S. troops left Iraq, President Obama made a
surprise trip to Afghanistan. He went there on the one-year anniversary of
the death of Osama bin Laden. And on that anniversary, on that surprise
trip to Bagram, President Obama announced that U.S. troops would be leaving
Afghanistan just as they had already left Iraq.
The president said that leaving would be gradual but he said the U.S. was
already handing over security responsibility to Afghan forces and by the
end of 2014, he said the transition would be complete. That was May 2012.
A few months later, a master sergeant serving with the U.S. Army in Kuwait
posed this haunting question to then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. We
played this on the show when it first happened.
Honestly I will tell you I still find myself thinking about this in the
middle of the night sometimes. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . Sir, Master Sergeant Hogan from the communications
squadron. Looking at the long-term plan, I understand that -- my
understanding is that the drawdown in Afghanistan is not a completely -- is
not completely pulling out. So can we expect that five, 10 years from now
that our children will still be serving in that region of the world to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Five years, 10 years from now, will our children still be serving
in Afghanistan, too?
That master sergeant asked that question when we were about 11 years into
America`s war in Afghanistan. Now we`re starting year 14.
And today, in a development that the beltway press did not cover at all,
the answer to that master sergeant`s question was finally, definitively
given. And the answer is yes, yes. Five years, 10 years from now, our
children will still be serving in Afghanistan.
It`s amazing to me that this is not seen as news in the mainstream press
and in the beltway. But today, the American government and the Afghan
government signed an agreement that will keep roughly 10,000 American
troops in Afghanistan basically indefinitely.
The 10,000 American troops agreements signed today says it shall remain in
force until the end of 2024 and beyond.
So that happened today. And in the news, it`s being treated like some
arcane domestic matter for Afghans. It`s not even being treated as an
American news story at all. It`s being treated lie like something you
might care about if you`re an expert in the field or maybe you`re in the
military or maybe you studied landlocked Central Asia.
This is a long-term agreement to keep deploying 10,000 American service
members to Afghanistan for a minimum of 10 more years. It was never
debated here. Our Congress never weighed in. Even 99.9 percent of the
pundit class has totally ignored it. But it just happened today in the
fine print, in the middle of us already committing U.S. troops to our new
war in Iraq and Syria. Now alongside that we`re also committed to
Afghanistan basically forever.
That happened today without a peep from Washington. Apparently this is not
supposed to be news for us. It`s not a matter for our politics.
People talk about there being a civilian military divide in this country
after so many years of war. This is why. They go again and again and
again and again and again and again. Now add another 10 years to the 14-
year-long war they`ve already fought. And the civilian press and our
civilian politics, we don`t even pretend to notice let alone care.
It is absolutely astonishing.
MADDOW: OK. Best new thing in the world today, this has no redeeming
value whatsoever. But it is mesmerizing. The elections this year are five
weeks from tonight. Right? If you live in a swing state or a swing
district your TV is all political ads all the time now.
Many, many, many millions of dollars being spent to show common campaign
tropes like candidates at the ranch, doing stuff ranchers do, wrangling up
a better America for you, or candidates sitting in a local greasy spoon,
where, of course, they always eat while they`re there, because they`re
regular folks, too. Mmm, hungry. They`re listening to your concerns at
the diner because you matter. Or candidates in their offices, getting
stuff done. Hard at work for you. Or a new one. Candidates shooting
stuff, with guns because whoo-hoo, America.
In the midst of the tide of political ads that we are dog paddling in right
now, at slate.com today they did a mitzvah. They edited together a super
cut of what I`ve always thought of as the creepiest common campaign trope
of them all. Male candidates displaying for your pleasure the wife as
It`s always a little creepy at least in every instance, but when you put
them together in a super cut, it`s like the trope blows up. You can`t turn
away. It`s utterly mesmerizing. This is so good. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Jamie Honour and my husband Scott loves to
SCOTT HONOUR, MINNESOTA REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Keeps the
ANTHONY WEINER, FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN: I will fight for you every
single day. Thank you for watching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Admit it. It`s absolutely mesmerizing. You can`t look away. I
mean, there`s no right way, no right way to be used as a political prop,
right? But there is a right way to show exactly how people use their
political wives as political props over and over and over again.
Slate.com in this supercut, you have just cured all of us ever of seeing
that trope that same way ever again. Best new thing in the world today.
Thank you. I will never get that out of my mind.
That does it for us tonight.
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