THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
September 30, 2014
Guest: Susan Crabtree, Dan Emmett, Alexander Van Tulleken, Michael Weiss
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Slate.com in this super cut, 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
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, I just can`t figure out why that
ad didn`t work for Anthony Weiner. I don`t know what it was.
MADDOW: Yes. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
Well, for the second time in 18 months, the Secret Service needs a new
director because the current director simply cannot do the job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yet another new report from "The Washington Post."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That the Secret Service allowed an armed security
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a gun and three prior convictions with assault and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On an elevator with President Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During a September 16 presidential trip to Atlanta.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another bad day for the U.S. Secret Service.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s actually jaw-dropping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day, chilling new details emerged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A cascade of revelations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a dangerous country, especially for presidents.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: The American people want to know if
there is a president safe.
JULIA PIERSON, SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR: Our security plan was not properly
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are protecting the most threatened American
president in our inauguration`s history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t let somebody get close to the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawmakers are grilling the director of the Secret
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over stunning lapses in the White House security.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House intruder 11 days ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were five things that should have stopped him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: None of them seemed to kick in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why we can`t get straight answers from the head of the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Few were satisfied with her answers.
REP. STEVEN LYNCH (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I wish to God you protected the
White House like you`re protecting your reputation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you lying to the American or were you misled?
PIERSON: The Secret Service is conducting an ongoing investigation.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I`m not sure that Ms. Pierson has been
completely transparent with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is her job on the line?
O`DONNELL: In her opening statement at a congressional hearing today, the
director of the Secret Service said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERSON: This is unacceptable. And I take full responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: She then went on to defensively make excuses for every terrible
display of utter incompetence the Secret Service has given us in their
protection of the White House and the first family.
She tried to give defensive speeches instead of answers to very simple
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISSA: Your agency previously had reported an indictment against Mr.
Gonzalez, asserted that he was arrested in that entry area. Isn`t it true
that he actually penetrated the cross hall, the East Room, and, in fact,
was arrested in the vicinity of the Green Room?
PIERSON: Referring to your map on the wall, as I have been briefed, Mr.
Gonzalez entered the front double doors.
ISSA: Ma`am, I want a short answer. I have very little time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: This was the day that I agreed with Darrell Issa. That was not
the Darrell Issa we have seen in other hearings trying to unfairly bully a
witness. That was Darrell Issa being perfectly reasonable today and
finally losing patience with a witness who couldn`t find her way to a
simple yes or no answer to simple yes or no questions. A witness who
claimed in her written opening statement to take full responsibility and
then took no responsibility.
The director of the Secret Service does not deserve the full responsibility
for all of the Secret Service failures that were discussed in that failure
today, but she bears enough of the responsibility that she should have
already submitted her resignation letter to the president.
But before resigning, she should have fired everyone involved who left the
White House vulnerable on that September Friday to a crazed man with a
knife jumping over the fence, running across the front lawn, through the
unlocked front door deep into the White House.
Every agent responsible for the security of the front fence at 7:30 p.m. on
Friday, September 19th should be fired, every agent responsible for the
security of the front lawn of the White House at 7:30 p.m. on Friday,
September 19th should be fired. The agent who was overwhelmed by the
intruder at the unlocked front door should at least be reassigned to other
duties in the Secret Service that do not involve the protection of the
White House and the president or the vice president.
There are 6,500 people working at the Secret Service. The Secret Service
is in charge of investigating counterfeit money, among other things, and
there are plenty of jobs for Secret Service agents and officers who are
incapable of effectively protecting the president -- plenty of jobs to do
within that same agency.
Before she resigns, the Secret Service director should also have fired the
officers responsible for stopping the investigation that night of the
shooting that occurred at the White House on November 11, 2011. She should
have also fired the supervisor of the personnel who assigned the
incompetent agents to guarding the front fence of the White House and the
front lawn and the front door. All of the supervisory personnel involved
in making the personnel decisions that have left the White House
vulnerable, all of them should be fired.
And the House committee investigation today should continue and they should
press for the names of each of the Secret Service agents and officers I`m
referring to now, including the supervisory personnel. All of them fail
the president and his family.
Joining me now is NBC News senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing,
White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner", Susan Crabtree.
Susan broke the Secret Service story today. And NBC News presidential
historian Michael Beschloss.
Chris Jansing, the White House today was asked about that resignation from
the Secret Service director, but apparently, she has not offered it.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, she met with
the president last week. She gave him an update on the investigation into
this latest incident. Did not offer her resignation but obviously the
pressure is on. It was hard to find anybody on Capitol Hill who had a nice
thing to say. They kept using words like "outrageous" and "disgraceful".
And even though only a few have called directly for her resignation,
there`s no doubt about the fact that they weren`t happy with her
performance and they`re certainly not happy with what`s going on at the
Secret Service. Look, you had two major new revelations in just the last
24 hours, in addition, to what we`ve seen over the last couple of weeks.
So, again, the pressure is on, the White House being very measured in what
they have to say about the Secret Service and Julia Pierson, something you
obviously can understand, Lawrence, given the fact that these are men and
women, many of them extraordinarily competent who put their lives on the
line to protect the president, the vice president, their families, other
members in the White House.
But there is a lot to answer for. And I couldn`t find anybody in Congress
today, we didn`t hear it when they came out of a closed-door classified
briefing who had felt that they got their questions answered.
O`DONNELL: Susan Crabtree, you broke an extraordinary story about the
president finding himself on an elevator with someone who turned out to be
clearly untrustworthy and shouldn`t have been there.
Give us an outline to that story.
SUSAN CRABTREE, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yes, it was three days before the
incident where the White House intruder breached the security and ran into
the White House. So, this was when the President Obama was going down to
visit the CDC and get a briefing on Ebola. And he found himself in an
elevator with a CDC security guard, he was a contractor. And he actually
had a gun on him that the Secret Service did not know about.
This was a major breach and the Secret Service was astonished to learn that
he had a gun. They only learned about it because he was videotaping the
president and acting very unprofessional for a security guard who was
detailed to run the elevator, and they questioned him about it and his
supervisor was there when they questioned him about it. They said, you
need to give up your gun, you need to immediately -- you`re fired
immediately, and that`s when the Secret Service first learned that he had a
O`DONNELL: Well, he`s not the only one who should be giving up his gun
And, Michael Beschloss, I went into the hearing tonight with an open mind.
I was hoping to hear the Secret Service director put us at ease in some
ways or tell us what measures she has taken. Show us her outrage first of
all at what happened.
I didn`t see any outrage. I heard excuses. I heard defensiveness. Before
she was finished, before Darrell Issa finished the first round of questions
with her, I felt that her job at that point was legitimately on the line.
And as far as I was concerned, the rest of what I saw today, she lost her
job, lost any right to her job in that hearing room today.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I was just
waiting -- when I watched that testimony, I was waiting for her to give us
some sense that she understood how serious this was. You know, a potential
assassin running into the White House through the East Room just steps away
from the stairway up to presidential quarters upstairs where the family
I mean, this is unbelievable. It`s something that we have a right never to
expect to have happen. And she said, our security plan was not properly
executed. I heard that and I told a friend, well, at least she didn`t say
mistakes were made. And as soon as of course I said that, I heard he say,
mistakes were made. You just wonder what`s going through her head.
O`DONNELL: But, Michael, as a historian, you had to sit there feeling
like, you know, this is the hearing that we should have been having in
October of 1963, about motorcades, about the speed of motorcades, about
whether we should have open cars. I mean, it just feels like, OK, this guy
got through there with a knife and we are lucky that this hearing is about.
O`DONNELL: It just you just feel like, you know, it`s incredible that
we`re having the hearing about someone who got through with a knife and got
caught and it`s not a hearing about something much, much indescribably
BESCHLOSS: Thank God. And you`re absolutely right. Thank God that we`re
talking about something that might have happened and did not.
But I think, you know, we have to remember how serious this is. You know,
the White House is supposed to be a sanctuary. When a president is
endangered, you know, on the day that Ronald Reagan was shot at the
Washington Hilton. The great hero, Gerry Parr, his Secret Service agent,
his first instinct was let`s go right back to the White House because
that`s where he will be safe.
As it happened, of course, he noted that the president was probably shot so
they went to the hospital instead. But for us to be in a situation where a
president cannot even feel safe in his own White House, this is something
that`s such an absolutely fundamental case of bureaucratic malfunction that
I think people who are frustrated and watching Director Pierson using this
bureaucratic language this morning, I think there were very justified.
O`DONNELL: Chris Jansing, what are you hearing in the White House about
where the stories are coming from? I don`t want to make it awkward for
Susan Crabtree, because she`s got confidential sources in this and
obviously, she can`t reveal directly anything about that, but clearly, it
seems that these stories are coming. They`re being leaked from inside the
And I`m just wondering if there`s any sense of them being leaked from
inside the White House where people know an awful lot about the way these
things have happened.
JANSING: I mean, some of these have actually come from members of Congress
who have gotten briefed on this. But most of what I hear is that there`s a
concern within the Secret Service. A lot of people have watched and tell
me and I think have told other people that they`re concerned about what
they see as kind of a culture of cover-up.
Also, a culture of kind of relaxing things when the president lifts off to
go away for the weekend to Camp David or Friday afternoon. I think it`s
worth pointing out that in the breach into the -- essentially into the East
Room, almost into the Green Room of the White House, you had somebody who
was actually off duty, who could have just as easily been outside, who
could have just as easily been packing up his things. Then it might have
been a very different situation.
So, I think the leaks that may be coming from within the Secret Service are
from people who are concerned, who take their jobs very seriously, and are
worried about the series of things in their time that they`ve served dating
back, Lawrence, to the Salahis.
O`DONNELL: And the security at the White House is a consistent thing.
It`s the same job every day. You`re trained in it. You know how to do it.
But, Susan Crabtree, when they`re on the reed as they were in Atlanta and
the story that you reported, everything is up to the advance team, the team
that goes down there ahead of time, sometimes weeks ahead of time and they
rehearse everything. They rehearse the walk, they rehearse the elevator.
How many floors is it going to travel, all that stuff.
And nowhere in there rehearsal did they think there was going to be someone
on that elevator with a gun acting in an unprofessional way.
CRABTREE: That`s exactly right. Actually, they go ahead and they do
clearances and background checks on everybody that the president will come
in close proximity with. He was actually in arm`s length with this guy in
the elevator. And they hadn`t done the clearance and the background check
on this person.
They also do not allow any security contractors --
O`DONNELL: Susan, on that point, do we know why this person wasn`t --
didn`t have a background check?
CRABTREE: We don`t know. I am told that there was no paperwork filed
after this incident, even though the agents on the ground were extremely
alarmed and shaken by it. There was no paperwork filed and this is an
exact quote from a source that this is a culture of cover-up at the Secret
Service. And that they left an agent on the ground to take care of the
matter to sort of follow-up. But Julie Pierson supposedly just asked one
person, a top agent to look into the matter but there was no paperwork
These people, everybody who comes into close proximity with the president,
including waiters, anybody, any staffers involved, they have background
checks on them cleared. The Secret Service does this beforehand.
And law enforcement officers are allowed to carry guns but only if they`re
cleared. And security contractors, as this man was a security contractor,
he did not work for the CDC. He worked for a security contractor and I`ll
have that story tomorrow. But he was not cleared and they were very, very
surprised to see that he had a gun.
O`DONNELL: And, Michael, Julia Pierson is the director because of failures
of the advance teams. In this case, the advance teams in Cartagena,
Colombia, where they were caught with prostitutes and so that --
BESCHLOSS: The testimony this morning, Lawrence, when a hearing begins
with one of the members of Congress saying, and then there was the
prostitution scandal, you know it`s not going to go too well.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, she`s there based on previous scandal. And I
don`t know how to listen to Susan Crabtree tonight, talking about this
incredible failure of the advance team and then the horrible failure of the
after-action investigation going on there that Julia Pierson was in charge
of. I don`t know how to regard this as anything but, the president is in
BESCHLOSS: Until the Secret Service, which as you well know, we all know,
it`s a heroic organization with a heroic history in a situation where you
have a leader who takes these things I think, with a larger sense of
responsibility, and what failure could mean.
O`DONNELL: Chris Jansing, Susan Crabtree and Michael Beschloss, thank you
all for joining me tonight.
JANSING: Thank you.
CRABTREE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a former Secret Service agent will give us his
opinion about who should resign or be fired from the Secret Service.
And the director of the CDC tries to calm fears tonight after confirming
that the first case of Ebola has been diagnosed here in the United States.
And later in the "Rewrite", the most powerful interview yet on the killing
of Michael Brown. Today, Steve Harvey talked to Michael Brown`s mother
about what it was like for her when her son`s body was lying on that street
in Ferguson for 4 1/2 hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MICA (R), FLORIDA: Have you heard about these guys? This is --
it`s not very costly. You can subscribe. But that can be installed. It`s
a simple technology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Or they can just lock the damn door.
A former Secret Service agent will join me next. I`ll ask him who should
resign or be fired from the Secret Service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: When the president was briefed by Director Pierson on Thursday,
did she offer her resignation?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: She did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now via Skype, former Secret Service agent Dan
Emmett, who is the author of "Within Arm`s Length: The Secret Service
Agent`s Definitive Inside Account of Protecting the President". Also
joining us, MSNBC law enforcement analyst and former ATF agent, Jim
Gentlemen, I want to listen to a sample of reaction to Director Pierson`s
testimony today at the House hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I have serious concerns about the current
leadership. I have concerns about training. And I have concerns about
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: I don`t sense from you, Director
Pierson, a sense of outrage about that, a sense of mission that you want to
reform and correct this cascading set of mistakes that led to potentially a
catastrophe for the United States.
REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is beyond pale. I listened to
your testimony very deliberately here this morning. And I wish to God you
protected the White House like you`re protecting your reputation here
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Dan Emmett, I think there`s little doubt if that committee was
empowered to take a vote on her job today, she would have been fired in
that hearing room. What changes, what personnel changes do you think are
necessary at the Secret Service now, your old -- the place where you served
for many years?
DAN EMMETT, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Lawrence, I agree with your
initial assessment of the individuals who should be fired, but only, only
if the top level go with them. All too often, Lawrence, the rank-and-file
get thrown under the bus. They`re sacrificed, while the upper level
managers on the eighth floor go unscathed.
And so, my recommendation, in this particular case is that the director
retires, along with several other people up there in her office who have
been in headquarters now for, some of them, over ten years. It`s simply a
matter that Secret Service management has become very stagnant. And if
real changes come into effect, you`re going to have to start at the top.
O`DONNELL: Jim Cavanaugh, I`m tired of the first reaction to everything
is, you know -- he should resign, she should be fired. He should -- but in
this case, I sat there, and it was only because of her testimony, it was
only hearing her responses to very simple questions where I saw this is a
bureaucrat giving bureaucratic answers, defensive answers after the fake
pretending, "I take full responsibility," which she absolutely didn`t mean.
And it was on the basis of her testimony that I determined in that hearing
-- she absolutely has to go. Along with, as I said earlier in the show,
people who have specifically failed in their jobs of securing that White
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, you know,
you set it up earlier in your piece so accurately. I mean, it was so
painful to watch the director today. I mean, I heard her say, she accepted
responsibility, but as you outlined, she seemed to try to make an excuse
for each question.
The chairman asked her, you know, did this happen, did that happen? The
right answer is, you know, we flubbed it, we blew it. It was awful. We
shouldn`t have done it.
You know, I testified before Congress in these critical things, and it`s
not pleasant. But you want to give direct answers if you`re a leader and
tell it like it happened. You`re going to have to take some punches.
But she didn`t do that. She seemed to try to make a party line or make an
inside baseball argument. And when Kristen Welker hit her up in the lobby,
you know, it`s an ongoing investigation.
You`re the leader. You have to answer the questions directly. You have to
take the steps.
And I got to tell you, I was knocked over this afternoon on that report of
a man with a gun with three convictions in an elevator with the president.
I mean, you don`t have to even think about how close that is. We`ve all
ridden in elevators. And you just could have knocked me over with that.
So, I`m just flabbergasted to see that happen to the Secret Service.
O`DONNELL: And, Dan, that story about this guy in the gun with -- a guy in
the elevator with a gun. You know, he`s one of the security personnel
there, but he`s not supposed to be in that elevator because he hasn`t had
his background checked.
That`s a failure of the advance team. And it`s one of those illustrations
of how important the advanced team is and how much the people in the
traveling party with the president are relying on the advance team to have
done their job.
EMMETT: Correct, Lawrence.
When you arrive as a member of the working shift next to the president, you
assume, you trust that sight agent has done everything they can do to make
that site as safe as possible. One of those things is that the Secret
Service advance agent is supposed to name-check, run through NCIC every
person who`s going to be in close proximity with the president, and if the
person has a significant criminal history, they are not allowed to be there
on the day of the visit.
In terms of the weapons, only, only law enforcement officers are allowed to
have weapons in close proximity to the president, and then only if they`re
working the event.
So, in other words, if a police officer shows up at an event, he is not
allowed to come in with his weapon. He`s turned away to take it back. So,
this is another massive failure. And I can`t say that during my two
decades of service, that we were always perfect, but what I`m hearing now
is just beyond imagination.
O`DONNELL: Dan, how has it happene? How has it come to this?
CAVANAUGH: Well, I think their culture is broke, their atmosphere is
broke. They`ve got to have a change agent for a leader there. You`ve got
to have direct answers.
You know, the director should have notified those committees, Lawrence.
You were on the Hill, you were on the Senate, a chief of staff role. She
should have notified those committees prior to the hearing about this
CAVANAUGH: And they would have decided if they wanted to bring it up. I
wouldn`t expect her to bring it up in the hearing but she should have
brought it up to them prior.
O`DONNELL: Dan Emmett, before you go, how has the Secret Service reached
this low point?
EMMETT: Lawrence, to be honest, I really don`t know. My 21 years which
ended in 2004, it just wasn`t so. When I left, we were so solid, very
squared away. Things have changed a bit, but nothing to the extent that
I`m seeing now that would have caused the lapses in the president`s
security as we`ve just seen.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s why I`m so shocked by this, is that my experience
of the Secret Service, especially in your years, that`s when I was around
them the most, absolutely superb, just flawless. And that`s why there`s
just so much shock and astonishment about this.
Jim Cavanaugh and Dan Emmett, we`ve got to go. We`re out of time, guys.
Thank you both very much for joining me tonight.
CAVANAUGH: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up: the CDC vows to stop it here, after revealing that
the first Ebola case has been diagnosed here in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: Today, we are
providing the information that an individual traveling from Liberia has
been diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. It is certainly possible
that someone who had contact with this individual, a family member or other
individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks, but there is no doubt
in my mind that we will stop it here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Ebola reaches the United States.
Earlier tonight, the Centers for Disease Control announced that Dallas
Texas Hospital has diagnosed the first case of Ebola in this country after
an unidentified man traveled from West Africa to visit family living in the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRIEDEN: This individual left Liberia on the 19th of September, arrived in
the U.S. on the 20th of September, had no symptoms when departing Liberia
or entering this country. But four or five days later, around the 24th of
September began to develop symptoms and while we do not currently know how
this individual became infected, they undoubtedly had close contact with
someone who was sick with Ebola or who had died from it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: State Health Officials in Texas confirmed that the patient was
admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sunday and
remains in isolation.
Tonight, President Obama spoke with the Director of the CDC by phone about
the recently diagnosed patient. And today, officials also stressed that
Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with people who are showing
symptoms of the virus.
Joining me now is Doctor Alexander Van Tulleken, Senior Fellow at the
Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs. He has done aid work in
both Darfur and the Congo.
Doctor Van Tulleken, what is direct contact? What did I just say in
ALEXANDER VAN TULLEKEN M.D., SENIOR FELLOW, INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL
HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS: So this air born diseases, where you can spread them
with small droplets. So if you were in a room with someone with air born
disease you can catch it just by in being in the same room. And Ebola is
not like that at all. Ebola doesn`t survive well outside the body. And so
you need to be in contact with saliva, vomit, diarrhea, some kind of bodily
fluid like that and you would need to get it in a mucus membrane, so in
your mouth, on your eyes or you need to get on to broken skin.
O`DONNELL: OK. Everyone --
VAN TULLEKEN: It`s a difficult thing to catch.
O`DONNELL: Everyone who travelled from Liberia on the day in question here
is wondering if they were sitting on a plane beside this patient.
VAN TULLEKEN: They possibly were. They were not exposed. He was not
symptomatic. He didn`t have a temperature. Therefore, he wasn`t
It seems to be the one he developed symptoms he took two days to go and
seek medical care. And then, after that two days, there was another two
days before he was admitted to hospital. Now he`s isolated. And I think
it`s fair to say the hospital in Dallas will do an excellent job preventing
him spreading that any further. I think that`s a straight forward thing
for them to do.
O`DONNELL: But once he developed the symptoms and before he was isolated -
VAN TULLEKEN: He`s contagious.
O`DONNELL: People are exposed, people he was with, people he may have been
-- but you`re saying it wouldn`t be someone he passed through a hotel lobby
or a restaurant because he has to have actual touching contact.
VAN TULLEKEN: The guy who discovered Ebola has completely be a now runs
the London School of Tropical Disease, one of the best institutions in the
world said he would confidently sit next to someone with Ebola on the
subway. So this is not something that you`re going to get even by shaking
But if I was Tom Friedman tonight, I would really, really worry about this.
I mean it isn`t going to be acceptable -- we shouldn`t be worried about an
epidemic in the U.S. That isn`t going to happen. But even a transmission
of a couple of cases, he`s got to be all over this.
O`DONNELL: What -- there`s nothing that could have been done to prevent us
from being at this spot tonight. I mean, right that this guy -- there was
nothing to say he shouldn`t be allowed on a plane in Liberia.
VAN TULLEKEN: I think that`s absolutely right. When you -- I mean you
look on the blogs and on twitter this afternoon. Everyone saying, we need
to shut down the airports or whatever, at least these stop the spread rate.
VAN TULLEKEN: I think that`s absolutely wrong. I think it would be
impossible to make sure that this doesn`t happen again. He was screamed
for temperature. And he didn`t have a temperature or any symptoms when he
got on the plane. I think to prevent all travel from West Africa would be
responsible and the wrong response.
The best way of preventing Ebola coming to the U.S. is doing what we`re
doing in West Africa, massive deployment of military sources to stop the
O`DONNELL: Now, what about the responsibility to people who were on that
flight. I mean, you seem to be saying scientifically, there`s absolutely
no danger that they could have gotten anything. So there`s no
responsibility by the CDC to check with the airline and make contact with
people who were seated near him or -- you did see any responsibility?
VAN TULLEKEN: If I was running -- I mean you`ve been talking -- the whole
program about institutional failures. Their institution we trust and do
make mistakes and they make big mistakes. If I was running the CDC today I
would not -- he`s not going to sleep a wink tonight.
I mean, I would definitely be tracing down every person on the airline,
letting them know. I would be in contact with every place he`s been, every
family member. And this is what you can do in America that you can`t do in
VAN TULLEKEN: We can email, we can tweet, we can facebook, we can phone,
we can go to people`s houses. We`ve got route maps, street addresses, we
can track every movement he`s happened. And so that`s -- it`s going to be
a massive headache, but that`s the way you stop the spread.
O`DONNELL: But do you worry about the panic if you notify, you know, a
couple of hundred people who are on the plane. And hey, this guy was on
your plane. You know, please don`t worry because you couldn`t have gotten
it because he didn`t have any symptoms at that time.
VAN TULLEKEN: That`s the message we`re putting -- I mean that`s what we`re
saying on your show and lots of other shows, you see. You don`t have to
worry about it. But if you`re running the CDC, you have -- you have to
deploy the precautionary principle here, and say --
O`DONNELL: We have to --
VAN TULLEKEN: -- we need to -- we need to be in touch with those people,
we need to -- if nothing else, you need to reassure them.
VAN TULLEKEN: But you also need to say, if you`re feeling ill at all,
there are the resources here to look after you.
O`DONNELL: Right. Here are the symptoms to look --
VAN TULLEKEN: And that`s totally different to panic. Saying that you will
deploy adequate resources, you will reach out as far as you need to to make
sure we`ve contacted everyone who could possibly have been in touch for
this. That`s what we should be doing. That`s why there won`t an epidemic
in America is because we`re good at doing that.
O`DONNELL: And you`re saying -- you`re saying do that even though you`re
firmly convinced there could have been a transmission on that plane?
VAN TULLEKEN: You would want to know if you were on that plane and so
would I. And I then want to -- I then want medical advice who says it`s
the very best of our knowledge you cannot have caught Ebola in this way.
But if you`re feeling ill, we`ll check you out.
O`DONNELL: Doctor Alexander Van Tulleken, thank you very much for joining
Coming up, in the "rewrite" Michael Brown`s mother and in her own words,
very anguished words.
And later, a look at the fighters the United States is now funding in
Syria. This is video you have never seen inside Syria. They are actually
using a PlayStation to fight the Assad Regime and the Islamic State.
That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimates
that the cost of fighting the Islamic State is getting close to a billion
dollars. The U.S. is spending at least $200 million a month, Congress
still has not voted on whether to allow President Obama to continue
military operations in Iraq and Syria, and John Boehner doesn`t believe
Congress needs to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: I think he does have the authority to do it.
But the point I`ve been making is this is a proposal that Congress ought to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So to be clear, if the President put a
resolution forward now, you call the Congress back?
BOEHNER: I would bring Congress back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we`ll show you some of the fighters inside Syria
that the United States Congress has voted to arm, hoping that they will
beat the Islamic State.
One of the things they`re using now to beat the Islamic State is a
PlayStation. Seriously. You`ve got to see this.
But next in "the rewrite" why Michael Brown`s mother did not accept the
Fergusson Police Chief`s apology.
O`DONNELL: Remember when Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson was asked
this question by his own State Senator?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL (D), SENATOR, MISSOURI: I just wanted to know if I
was going to be gassed again, like I was on Monday night. And I was
peaceful and I am your State Senator and I just want to ask.
THOMAS JACKSON, POLICE CHIEF, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: I know. I know.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: We couldn`t get out, and we were peacefully sitting. I
just wanted to know if I`m going to be gassed again?
JACKSON: I hope not.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: I really hope not either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was before Chief Jackson had a writing staff. Now the
police chief has a PR firm to give him scripts like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: The events of the past few weeks have sent shock waves not just
around the community here but around the nation. Overnight, I went from
being a small town Police Chief to being a part of conversation about
racism, equality and the rule of policing in that conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The script, written for the chief by the PR firm included an
apology to Michael Brown`s family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: I want to say this to the Brown family.
No one who is not experienced the loss of a child can understand what
you`re feeling. I`m truly sorry for the loss of your son. I`m also sorry
that it took so long to remove Michael from the street.
The time that it took involved very important work on the part of
investigators who were trying to collect evidence and gain a true picture
of what happened that day. But it was just too long and I`m truly sorry
Please know that the investigating officers meant no disrespect to the
Brown family, to the African-American community, or the people of Canfield.
They were simply trying to do their jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Michael Brown`s family did not accept the apology written for
the chief by a PR firm. They know how empty that apology is. Michael
Brown`s mother said she doesn`t want words, she wants actions. She knows
that there`s not an experienced crime scene investigator in the country who
has defended the Ferguson police for leaving Michael Brown`s body on that
street for four and a half hours. And she knows how Chief Jackson and his
officers at that scene treated her during those four and a half hours.
In what is the most powerful and emotional interview conducted by any of us
in the media about this case, Steve Harvey today asked Michael Brown`s
mother about those four and a half hours and what they were like for her.
Her answer brings you closer to the pain of a mother losing her teenage son
than anything I`ve ever heard. What she went through is agonizing to
listen to. Steve Harvey wasn`t asking her why she didn`t accept the Police
Chief`s apology, but the answer to why she wouldn`t accept that apology is
there in every anguished word of what she had to say.
She began by telling Steve Harvey that she was at work when she got a phone
call telling her someone had been shot near her mother`s house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BROWN: I was at work. And I got a
phone call that someone had been shot by my mother`s house. I initially
just felt a deepening in my chest and my line clicked and it was my
sister`s number and I clicked over and before she could say anything, she
was crying. And I know, she said, they shot Michael.
And I didn`t ask any questions because I just want to not even think that
he was dead at all. And when she said it, I just started running. My
first instinct was to run, like I just want to run to him. But I ran back
in my job and I just told them deeply to please get me to my son.
And the first thing I saw that let me know was the yellow tape. And I
asked, can I look and see is that my son? They told me no. And I
repeatedly asked that for the four and a half hours that we were out there
and they wouldn`t. I wanted to see for myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, the United Kingdom and the United States launched 24 new
airstrikes against Islamic State warriors, making today the largest day yet
for strikes in Syria and Iraq. The only aspect of the undeclared war
Congress has actually voted on is to arm so-called moderate rebels in
Syria. Our partners at "Vocativ" embedded with members of the free Syrian
army earlier this month these are some of the people that the United States
is betting on with that funding to beat the warriors of the Islamic State.
TEXT: The free Syrian army has been fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad
Aftermath of barrel bombing.
A barrel is made from an oil drum, scrap metal and explosives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text): Please Allah curse Assad and his men!
The bastard dog Assad killed all these people!
TEXT: In 2013 joined the Syrian civil war and fought against both Assad
and the FSA.
ABO ALI KAFRHAYA, FSA COMMANDER (through text): We`re here to clear the
area of both Assad and ISIS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text): Down with ISIS! Down!
Down with Assad! Down!
ABO AHMAD, FSA COMMANDER (through text): It is not a balanced fight
between ISIS and FSA. They have more weapons than us. Bigger, more
ISIS and Assad both have better weapons than FSA. We have to make our own
TEXT: The FSA made its own armored personnel carrier -- it is operated
with Playstation controllers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been fighting since three years. And we will
fight for 20 years.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Michael Weiss a columnist for "Foreign Policy
Magazine" and "The Daily Beast". He`s reported from Syria.
Michael, I`m unimpressed but OK. So they will go from using PlayStations
to using some real equipment that the United States will somehow be able to
get to them in there?
MICHAEL WEISS, COLUMNIST, FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: Some of rebels have
already received that equipment. It`s not just from the United States by
the way. It`s from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar, transported both through
Turkey and Jordan through the north and south. So that video was Northern
Syria lift up.
But it`s true, since the very beginning of the armed campaign, the armed
rebellion; Syrians have done what I would refer to as a do-it-yourself
insurgency. Making things in ad hoc factories or basements, as you see, I
mean homemade armored personnel carriers.
I`ve seen the new sling shots where they`ve literally propelled mortars,
using sort of David versus Goliath era kind of material. There early on, I
remember when the Syrian first took up arms I was reporting from Southern
Turkey and they are all on Amazon trying to buy remote control helicopters,
toys. And I said what do you want these for? They said we want to make
drones so we can servile Syrian army positions. Because we can`t get to
them by ground, we want to do it by the air and of course we don`t an air
So I mean, the ingenuity and the creativity that`s gone into this is
remarkable. But again, as the fighters that were in the video suggested
they were outnumbered. Outnumbered if you combined ISIS and the regime
forces together, also with Iranian rebel, regard (ph) core, Hezbollah, and
a consortium of Militia group that the regimes and Iranian-built up. And
more importantly, they`re outgunned. I mean ISIS is using U.S. Humvees and
Abrons tanks they`ve taken from Iraq and driven into Syria. And the regime
of course has Hagans (ph) helicopters and spider jets.
O`DONNELL: And how does Assad play this? If he watches this group in a
fire fight with the Islamic State, what is he rooting for?
WEISS: Well, that`s exactly his sort of dream scenario. He bombs free
Syrian army positions. He drops barrel bombs on bakeries. He kills
civilians. He`s looking to destroy the moderate rebels. He`s looking to
destroy the western-backed rebels.
While mostly leaving ISIS alone, now, that`s a caveat by the following.
It`s true that when ISIS invaded Mosul that a few months ago, suddenly
Assad decided now`s my chance. I want to bring the United States onboard.
I want to show them that I`m their true partner in the war on terror. I`m
their true counterinsurgency regime force. So he did start bombing what he
said he was doing was bombing ISIS locations. More often it again that
bomb is being dropped on bakeries and civilian targets more so than on
So there`s been a sort of former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Steve Ford called
it a tacit alliance. We might call it a De fecto alliance between the
regime and ISIS. Now, of course, he`s playing the propaganda for all its
worth saying yes, your enemy is my enemy. We`re both at war with radical
O`DONNELL: Michael Weiss, thank you very much for joining us here.
WEISS: Sure, my pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL