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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Date: December 11, 2014

Guest: Christina Bellantoni, Morris Davis, Mieke Eoyang, Howard Dean, Seth

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Amazing rains out there, Rachel. It`s
really something. Thank you very much, Rachel.

We have breaking news tonight. As Rachel just reported, the House managed
to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill needed to avert a government
shutdown. But now we know there`s a new Democratic Party sheriff in town
and her name is Elizabeth.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Who does Congress work for?
Does it work for the millionaires, the billionaires, the giant companies
with their armies of lobbyists and lawyers? Or does it work for all the

Now, the House of Representatives is about to show us the worst of
government for the rich and powerful. The house is about to vote on a
budget deal, a deal negotiated behind closed doors, that slips in a
provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with
taxpayer money and get bailed out by government when their risky bets
threaten to blow up our financial system.

This is a democracy and the American people didn`t elect us to stand up for
Citigroup. They elected us to stand up for all the people.


O`DONNELL: Senator Elizabeth Warren has seized de facto control of the
Democratic Party leadership in this lame duck session of Congress that is
struggling to find a way to finance government. Elizabeth Warren wants to
do it without surrendering on hard earned legislative victories Democrats
have already won, including the Dodd-Frank bill regulating the financial

The Democrat who has the title of leader in the House of Representatives,
Nancy Pelosi, was in favor of the Republican budget deal before she was
against it. Nancy Pelosi decided not to fight Elizabeth Warren in the end
but to join her.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Here we are in the House being
blackmailed to vote for an appropriations bill. This is a moral hazard.
We`re being asked to vote for a moral hazard. Why is this an
appropriations bill? Because it was the price to pay to get an
appropriations bill.

I`m enormously disappointed that the White House feels the only way to get
a bill is to go along with this.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is NBC News correspondent Luke Russert, and
editor-in-chief of "Roll Call", Christina Bellantoni.

Luke Russert, tell us about Nancy Pelosi`s movements on this. Wasn`t she
part of the leadership group that agreed to this deal with Republicans in
the first place?

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It`s kind of a fascinating
dynamic, Lawrence. You had today President Obama Harry Reid and Steny
Hoyer versus Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren. This was quite a dynamic
that played out.

Originally, a lot of Democrats in leadership did not think that change to
Dodd-Frank would be a big deal. Now, why is that? Back in 2013 and this
vote went to the House floor, over 70 Democrats supported that. Also, the
big change in campaign finance donations that went up to $324,000 per
individual, that was directly negotiated between Harry Reid and Mitch

So, make no mistake about it. This deal had the blessing of the leadership
and the White House. What changed is what you said, Elizabeth Warren going
to the Senate floor yesterday saying that if this were to go through, it
would show the American people that the system is totally corrupt, the
system is for sale. That had a big impact on a lot of House Democrats who
quite frankly, Lawrence, don`t have a very good relationship with this
White House, have been fed up by playing second fiddle, having fed about
being cut out of these negotiations, and they decided they wanted to take a

I think what we saw tonight, while they weren`t able to completely block it
after Denis McDonough, the chief of staff, came up here and sort of talked
to them and said, look, this is a much better deal for us so we can get a
spending bill that goes forward until September of next year, so we want to
take it.

But what you saw was for the first time during the Obama administration,
the left flank saying enough is enough. We`re not going to take it. We
want to fight on our turf right now.

And this is significant because it does show you there`s an appetite in the
Democratic Party for purity. Who fits purity better? Elizabeth Warren,
much more so than Hillary Clinton, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And Elizabeth Warren turned out to be leading much more than
the left flank, 139 Democrats voted with Elizabeth Warren on this, which is
to say against the bill. Only 57 Democrats voted for the bill.

We heard what Elizabeth Warren said today on the Senate floor. Let`s
listen to what she said this morning on the Senate floor.


WARREN: A vote for this bill is a vote for future taxpayer bailouts of
Wall Street. When the next bailout comes, a lot of people will look back
to this vote to see who was responsible for putting the government back on
the hook to bail out Wall Street.

Why in the last minute, as you head out the door and a spending bill must
be passed, are you making it a priority to do Wall Street`s bidding? Who
do you work for, Wall Street or the American people?


O`DONNELL: Christina Bellantoni, Elizabeth Warren got 139 Democrats in the
House to follow her. How many senators will line up with her?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: Well, what`s really important to know at
about this is yes, the House passed the bill, but Harry Reid said they`re
going to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government
open to give the Senate time to debate this measure tomorrow. So, anything
could happen. I mean, when it comes to getting out of town at the end of
the year, I would not put anything past law makers of gumming up the

And Elizabeth Warren does have a lot of influence right now. We also know
that Nancy Pelosi told her House Democratic Caucus members, and I quote,
"I`m giving you the leverage to do whatever you have to do. We have enough
votes to show them never to do this again." That`s what a source in the
room is telling "Roll Call`s" reporters.

And, you know, this isn`t s a real power play between Nancy Pelosi and
Barack Obama. She`s been the least powerful person in leadership at the
table for quite a while. And she`s basically -- I mean, that floor speech
today was a real slap in his face.

And this was clearly a deal the White House wanted to see passed when they
put out an endorsement earlier today. And to allow the Republicans to have
to pull it off and see what would happen, while the markets went down, it
was a really interesting ploy and gambit as it all falls apart.

O`DONNELL: I got to say, Christina, what you just told us about Harry Reid
asking for time to debate this is not a good sign for the bill. You know,
normally, we all know, if you have the votes, you ram them through as fast
as you can. Him delaying it tomorrow, the way it sounds like he`s doing,
Luke, that sounds like there could be problems in the Senate.

RUSSERT: Well, they don`t really have another option, Lawrence, because of
the hour. It`s so late. So, just the way it would work procedurally, they
need these two days in order to move forward because I don`t think they
would be able to get unanimous content.

But that Senate vote is going to be fascinating. The debate is going to be
fascinating, because you could very well see Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren
on the same side of the debate. Obviously coming from totally different
schools of thought, but you`re starting to see where things are shaking
out, not only with both party, but also the sort of populism that`s come up
in this. Populism on the right against this bill was -- much of it against
immigration reform, but also crony capitalism coming out of it.

So, I`m fascinated by this debate. I don`t think a lot of people think it
will be a slam dunk like they thought earlier. It`s definitely going to be
something that will get heated.

O`DONNELL: Christina, Elizabeth Warren has in effect sent a message to
Republicans, you`re going to have to do this kind of thing. You cannot
count on Democrats to step up and do this for you, 162 Republicans were
forced to vote yes in the House tonight in order to get this thing passed.
Surely a bunch of them didn`t want to do that, and didn`t plan to do it, as
recently as 24 hours ago.

BELLANTONI: Sure. You know, it`s interesting -- one of our reporters
chimed in that Jim Moran, retiring Virginia Democrat told reporters
tonight, this is one of the reasons he`s glad he`s retiring from the House
because of the way this process works.

But when you see someone who is a younger member of the Senate, someone who
does have that progressive side that is really uniting behind her, she`s
got a voice at the leadership table now. So, the 114th Congress is going
to be interesting as Mitch McConnell tries to pull together his disparate
Republicans, who by the way, some of them are running for president, and
then Elizabeth Warren has a voice with Harry Reid and with the rest of
leadership to be able to say, you know, we`re going to take a bit of a
stand here.

And the word "leverage" that Nancy Pelosi used is interesting. Democrats,
you think don`t have leverage. When you have the power in Congress, you
have the tools to manipulate the floor votes in your favor pretty much run
the table with it, but thinking that you have leverage really says
something different about the party.

O`DONNELL: Luke Russert and Christina Bellantoni, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.

BELLANTONI: Have a good night.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, director of the CIA answer the Senate Intelligence Committee`s
report today and it turns out the CIA director actually agrees with most of
the report. A former prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay will join me.

And, just how simple could it have been to get indictment against the
officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner? An experienced trial
lawyer says it should have been easy.


O`DONNELL: What is a computer? Simple answer is it`s a machine, right?
Well, a computer wasn`t always a machine. Back at the turn of the century
-- I don`t mean this century, I mean, back around in 1910, a computer was a
woman. That`s what they called women doing certain work in the science
labs at Harvard University. Computers.

You will learn about those computers in the "Rewrite" tonight.



JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: In many respects, the program was unchartered
territory for the CIA and we were not prepared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For two days, CIA Director John Brennan has been
trying to deal with the CIA family.

BRENNAN: We had little experience housing detainees and precious few of
our officers were trained interrogators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, he addresses the public, the first ever live
news conference from CIA headquarters.

BRENNAN: The CIA has implemented a number of reforms to make sure those
mistakes never happen again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn`t go rogue. That`s their argument.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said we`ve had enough transparency.

BRENNAN: I think there`s more than enough transparency that`s happened the
last couple of days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s not what this report was about. And I think
that was, you know, a pretty big surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other argument is that they went beyond the

JON STEWART, COMEDY CENTRAL: Why do we need to see this stupid, old,
boring CIA torture report anyway? We got to the bottom of this years ago.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: This government does not torture people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The United States of America is awesome. We are

STEWART: Who are we to disagree?

BRENNAN: In a limited number of cases, agency officers used interrogation
techniques that had not been authorized.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: They were deprived of sleep for
days, stripped naked, diapered, physically struck, constantly shackled in
isolated cells. Detainees were often subject to harsh and brutal

BRENNAN: None of these lapses should be excused, downplayed or denied.

STEWART: Who are we to disagree?


O`DONNELL: Today, CIA Director John Brennan rose in what some thought was
going to be a defense of the torture program, but instead he made explicit
his agreement with most of the criticism of the CIA in the Senate
Intelligence Committee report.


BRENNAN: The CIA was unprepared to conduct and intention and interrogation
program and our officers inadequately developed and monitored its initial
activities. The agency failed to establish quickly the operational
guidelines needed to govern the entire effort.

In a limited number of cases, agency officers used interrogation techniques
that had not been authorized, were abhorrent and rightly should be
repudiated by all. And we fell short when it came to holding some officers
accountable for their mistakes. None of these lapses should be excused,
downplayed or denied. In some instances, we simply failed to live up to
the standards that we set for ourselves that the American people expect of

To address the concerns identified, the CIA has implemented a number of
reforms in an effort to make sure those mistakes never happen again.


O`DONNELL: Director Brennan said more than once that there were times the
CIA did not tell the truth about the program.


BRENNAN: There were instances where representation at the program -- about
the program that were used or approved by agency officers were inaccurate,
imprecise, or fell short of our trade craft standards.


O`DONNELL: Unlike Dick Cheney`s "I`d do it again" chant, CIA Director
Brennan is glad that President Obama banned the use of EITs, enhanced
interrogation techniques, known of course in the rest of the world as


BRENNAN: I believe effective non-coercive methods are available to elicit
such information, methods that do not have a counterproductive impact on
our national security and our international standing. It is for these
reasons that I fully support the president`s decision to prohibit the use
of EITs.


O`DONNELL: The only real point of disagreement the CIA director has is


BRENNAN: The study`s contention that we repeatedly and intentionally
misled the public and the rest of the U.S. government rests on the
committee`s view that detainees subjected to EITs did not produce useful
intelligence, a point on which we still fundamentally disagree.


O`DONNELL: And to the crucial question of the day, if not the last two
decades, the director of the CIA said, the answer is unknowable.


REPORTER: Did the EITs lead to useful intelligence or did they not? You
said it`s unknowable. Which is it?

BRENNAN: What I said was that detainees who were subjected to EITs at some
point during their confinement subsequently provided information that our
experts found to be useful and valuable in our counterterrorism efforts.
And the cause and effect relationship between the application of those EITs
and the ultimate provision of the information is unknown and unknowable.
But for someone to say that there was no intelligence of value, of use that
came from those detainees once they were subjected to EITs, I think that is
-- lacks any foundation at all.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor at
Guantanamo bay and retired U.S. Air Force colonel, and Mieke Eoyang, a
former House Intelligence Committee staffer and a former defense policy
adviser to Senator Ted Kennedy.

Colonel Davis, this is not the Dick Cheney line of defense, I would do it
again. Dick Cheney says everything that is alleged in that report is
completely justifiable. Everything that the Senate found, you have the
director of the CIA saying it`s abhorrent, things found in that report.

When I`m listening carefully there, the area of disagreement between the
Democrats in that committee and the director of the CIA conceptually is not
that much. On most of the important points, they actually agree.

exactly right. And it was -- it was good to hear Mr. Brennan acknowledge
that you really can`t say that, as Dick Cheney has tried to make the point
that waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2002 had a direct relationship
to finding Osama bin Laden a decade later. So, it`s good to hear Mr.
Brennan admit that you can`t make that connection.

And, you know, while there may have been some good -- he made the point a
couple of times they did find some useful information. But for every
penny`s worth of useful information, we did a dollar`s worth of damage.
So, I think it`s right. It`s good that this has stopped.

I was disappointed though. I never heard him use the word "torture" and I
never heard him use the word "crime". That`s what these are.

O`DONNELL: And, Mieke Eoyang, it seems like that would be the step they
simply can`t go to for a bunch of reasons, including legal reasons at this
point. If the director accepts that word and uses that word, that could
create some legal complications.

CIA has worked very hard to avoid legal liability for its personnel. The
CIA really does have a challenge when it comes to prosecuting crimes like
this, people who have had access to classified information. In order to
try them fairly, you have to put that information in the record and that
leads to all kinds of complications in the trial itself. And so, I think
they want to try and avoid that if they can.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Colonel, when the director says that this -- some of
these cases were investigated and they did not find prosecutable cases, I
find that language interestingly careful. And it may be that they simply
didn`t have enough evidence to prosecute, or they wouldn`t have been able
to prosecute a case without revealing classified information that they did
not want to reveal. That, in fact, there could have been very damning
evidence there.

But the process of prosecution would have ended up revealing too many

DAVIS: Well, you know, Ronald Reagan presented the Convention Against
Torture to the Senate for ratification in 1998. In it, he said there`s no
justification whatsoever for torture, and that the signatories have an
obligation to either prosecute to those engaged in torture or send them to
a jurisdiction that will prosecute them.

So, you know, looking forward, not book, using the specter of secrets is
not an option. This is another area where the president needs to show some
leadership and live up to the commitments that we`ve made. And I think
given the choice between Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney, I would side with
Ronald Reagan on this. That torture is an abhorrent process, that American
needs to lead the way and we need to live up to our obligations.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Director Brennan on another big question of the
day. And that is exactly what did they use to piece together the trail to
find bin Laden.


BRENNAN: It is our considered view that the detainees who were subjected
to enhanced interrogation techniques provided information that was useful
and was used in the ultimate operation to go against bin Laden. Again,
intelligence information from the individuals who were subjected to EITs
provided information that was used in that. Again, I am not going to
attribute that to the use of the EITs. I`m just going to state as a matter
of fact, the information that they provided was used.


O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, it sounds as tepid a claim about this kind of
information leading to the capture of bin Laden. He does not say that that
information led to the capture. He simply says it was useful and it was

There`s all sorts of information in any investigation that`s useful. But
it isn`t decisive. And what Dick Cheney`s side of this argument has been
saying all along is oh, no, no, this information, the torture-obtained
information was decisive. Bin Laden would still be in hiding were it not
for that.

EOYONG: I think Brennan is blurring a difference between sources and
methods here. He`s saying the high-value detainees had really valuable
information that they used to find bin Laden. And they were sources of
that information.

But the real question the Senate was going after was, what was the method
that they used to elicit that information? In this case, the Senate was
looking at the question of whether or not the EITs were the method that you
had to use. And Brennan is not actually answering that question. He says
the answer is unknowable.

But when you look at the records, you can see that plenty of information
was gained prior to the use of the EITs themselves from those detainees.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what he said about these interrogation
techniques and whether or not they are torture.


BRENNAN: First of all, I certainly agree that there were times when CIA
officers exceeded the policy guidance that was given and the authorized
techniques that were approved and determined to be lawful. They went
outside of the bounds in terms of their actions as part of that
interrogation process. And they were harsh. As I said in some instances,
I`d consider them abhorrent and I`ll leave it to you to label those


O`DONNELL: Colonel, he`s leaving it to you to label those activities.

DAVIS: Well, President Obama already has. He said, we tortured some
folks. John McCain has said we engaged in torture. And once we`ve
admitted we engaged in torture, we have a duty to live up to our

So, this isn`t the end of the road. This is a starting point, and not an
end point.

O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, one thing I find interesting about the defenders
of the program is not one of them is saying we need that program now.
Let`s reinstate it immediately.

EOYANG: That`s right. Though Director Brennan is leaving open the
possibility that it would be used in the future, which I think is quite

What we`re seeing is not only are these a real stain on the moral character
of America, but they`re also not effective. They elicit false information.
They get -- detainees will tell you whatever you want to hear to get the
torture to stop. It also warps their memories. What we found is that it`s
really not the best way to get information out of them. We shouldn`t be
using them for a variety of reasons ever.

O`DONNELL: Colonel Morris Davis and Mieke Eoyang, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

DAVIS: Sure.

EOYANG: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, I asked the question, what is a computer? A
computer is a machine, we all agree on that now. But a computer used to be
a woman in some scientific research projects. The computers they used way
back when were actually women. That`s in the "Rewrite."

And Howard Dean is next with his reaction to just what happened tonight
with Democrats in the House.



WARREN: While this legal change could pose serious risks to our entire
economy, it will also make a lot of money for Wall Street Banks.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Governor
Dean, quite a spectacle tonight in the House of Representatives, watching
the reach of Senator -- Senator Elizabeth Warren across from the other side
of the Capitol, into the House, turning Democrats around, voting against

She clearly is the leader on this subject, at least, of that party.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: She is. And she happens to be
right. The problem with Wall Street was not cured by Dodd-Frank. And what
she`s talking about for -- because this is complicated stuff -- Wall Street
is a necessary institution in a capitalist society because it allocates
capital in an efficient way, to be sort of brief about it.

The problem is that much of what Wall Street is doing these days has very
little to do with creating jobs or allocating capital. And what a
derivative is is essentially a bet.

And about 15 percent of the derivatives are needed and good things because
it helps you keep risk lower when you`re making an investment. The other
85 percent, which amounts to trillions and trillions is simply a bet on the
direction of interest rates or markets.

It has no useful purposes. And that is where they get a lot of their
profits. The same with collateralized mortgage obligations, slightly a
different thing but they don`t hold the paper there.

The same with interest rate swaps. So, Wall Street has really failed us as
an institution. I think Elizabeth Warren is the one that`s calling --
calling them on it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what she said yesterday that started to turn
this vote around for Democrats in the House of Representatives.


WARREN: We put these rules in place after the collapse of the financial
system because we wanted to reduce in place that reckless gambling on Wall
Street could ever again threaten jobs and livelihoods on Main Street.

We put this rule in place because of all political persuasions were
disgusted at the idea of future bailouts. Why in the world would anyone
want to repeal it, let alone hold the entire government hostage in order to
ram through this appeal.

The reason, unfortunately, is simple. It`s about money and it`s about
power. Because while this legal change could pose serious risks to our
entire economy, it will also make a lot of money for Wall Street banks.

According to Americans for Financial Reform, this change will be a huge
boon to a handful of our biggest banks -- Citigroup, JPMorgan, Bank of
America. Wall Street spends a lot of time and money on Congress.


O`DONNELL: Now, Harry Reid is promising a debate on this in the Senate, a
Republican vote just sent this bill over to the Senate. Howard Dean, I
cannot wait to see this debate.

Because the most thankless possible role on this Senate Floor is going to
be a Democrat standing up there, trying to argue against Elizabeth Warren
on this subject.

I just can`t imagine what that`s going to look like.

DEAN: It`s going to be very, very tough. The belief that this could lead
to further bailouts is absolutely right as well.

The problem -- what they`re doing essentially is making it easier to use
Wall Street as a gambling casino. And that`s very bad for the county. And
it`s bad for Wall Street, I think, in the long run.

You know, I come from four generations of Wall Street. And my mother keeps
telling me, "You know, your father would be rolling over in his grave if he
saw what was going on down there now." It really is shocking.

And this is a mistake to do this. It`s not -- I don`t believe there`s
anything wrong with banks making money.

I don`t hate banks and I don`t hate Wall Street. I do really, really worry
that we are undermining our financial system.

Again, these banks are too big to fail. That has not been a problem that`s
been fixed.

If you do things like this, there will be another collapse and we will bail
them out again, and we`ll have no choice.

O`DONNELL: Let`s talk about Elizabeth Warren now, the power broker in the
Capitol. It`s fascinating to see her out there now, especially after Harry
Reid brought her into the leadership.

He had to actually create a new phony title in the leadership to bring her
in onto that so-called leadership team. And when you have one of those
titles, no matter how phony they are, the deal is, you get in line with all
the party votes.

You get in line with what the leadership says we`ve got to do on these
party votes. She doesn`t care about this title he gave her.


She`s going to go out there and Fight Harry Reid on the Senate floor on
this Bill.

DEAN: You know, the most interesting thing about all of this alarms is
that -- I bet you, there are some Tea Party people in the Senate that agree
with her.



DEAN: Now, whether they can dare to vote this way or not, I don`t know.
But the people who are the Tea Party people -- the Tea Party got started
because of the kinds of abuses that used to go on Wall Street.

And I don`t think they want to bail out banks any more than Democrats do.
So, this is going to be a fascinating vote when this thing comes up because
you may very well see that the Republicans can`t hold their votes together


O`DONNELL: I mean, I`ll tell you what this means in the Senate. When you
see this happen, what it means for leadership, what it means for chairman
who were trying to move bills in their committees, or Democrats who are
trying see if a bill can move and what will be the Republican committees.

They`re going to have to check with Elizabeth. No Democrat is going to
want to go out on that Senate floor again and run into opposition from
Elizabeth Warren.

DEAN: Right. And her points are well-taken. People characterize her as a
fire brand, and a raving liberal, and all those kind of stuff.

She knows this stuff inside out. Most people in Congress don`t know this
stuff because you can`t know. It`s unbelievably complicated and they have
zillions of other issues they have to know.

She does know this issue. And she -- not only does she have strong beliefs
but she knows what she`s talking about and that helps a lot.

O`DONNELL: Yes, this isn`t one of the -- we`ve seen many times over the
years, the gadfly in the Senate on one side of the Iowa or the other --

DEAN: Right.

O`DONNELL: -- who just obsesses about certain things no one takes
seriously. They know, "Oh, he`s just going to get in our way on this.
We`ll weight him out," that kind of thing.

Everyone there knows she knows more about this subject than any other
senator. And she is probably, in very short order, going to know more
about most subjects than any other senator.

DEAN: You know, the most -- one of the fascinate things here is this is
such a Washington thing.


DEAN: So, they wanted to get this bill through. It`s necessary to get
this bill through. And yet -- so, they put stuff in there that they think
maybe nobody will notice or nobody will care.

Well, they ran into the wrong person because Elizabeth Warren did notice.
And she does care. And we should all care as well.

O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

DEAN: Thanks for having me on.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, prosecutors did not get indictments against police
officers in Ferguson or on Staten Island. But a criminal defense lawyer
says he could have gotten an indictment in both of those cases.

He`ll tell us how he would have done that. He will join me later.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, another episode of "On This Day in History."
This one, starring the woman who told us what we`re actually looking at
when we look up at the stars.


I`ve been telling you this week about the K.I.N.D. Fund as I always do this
time of year, the Kids in Need of Desks Fund. These desks, these desks
that we have built in Malawi in Africa and then delivered to African
schools that have never seen desks, where students have never seen desks,
where the teachers have never had desks.

You`ve been contributing to that K.I.N.D. Fund and helping us raise so far
a total of $7,936,595. That has been just an incredible burst of
generosity from you over the years to get us to this point. Also, talked
to you this week about the importance of girls` education and why we added
a girls scholarship fund to the K.I.N.D. Fund. Because high school is not
free in Malawi and in other African countries.

And girls are usually the kids in the family who don`t get the tuition
money if the family has any tuition money to send one of the kids to

And so, we have created a fund just for sending girls to school in Malawi.
There`s an urgent need to get more girls in school and we`ve crossed -- as
you know, this week, as I`ve told you already, we`ve crossed the million-
dollar mark on that fund.

We are at $1,057,792 for girls scholarships. Malala talked this week when
she received her Nobel Prize about the importance of girls` education in
the world.

And she talked about, in the developing world, the situation where the
leaders, some of them are affluent people, send their daughters to school.
But no one else gets to go to school in those countries.

That`s actually the way it was in this country not that long ago. If you
go back to the turn of the century, 1900, 1910, there was actually a book
written back then by a Harvard professor saying that education was harmful
to girls, physically harmful to girls that it would interrupt and mess up
their reproductive health.

And so, the history of girls` education was a difficult one in this
country. And I`m going to tell you more about that difficult history of
girls education in this country next in the "Rewrite."


In tonight`s "Rewrite," computers. The definition of the word "computer"
had to be rewritten to apply to machines. Here is a photograph of the
first Harvard scientist who used computers constantly in his daily work.
That`s Professor Edward Charles Pickering, in the necktie there, in 1913,
outside the Harvard Observatory, with 13 of his computers.

Long before computers were machines, they were women. Those women made
records of the data observed by Professor Pickering and some astronomers,
all men, who did the manly work of gazing at the starts and photographing
them through Harvard`s powerful telescope.

The work of managing the resultant photographs and data and doing the
calculations and the computations necessary for the data to form a pattern
and tell us something about the universe fell entirely to women -- women

It didn`t start that way. Professor Pickering had a young Harvard man
doing that work for him, that computing.

But Professor Pickering was so frustrated with the quality of the young
man`s work that he once said his maid could do a better job. And so,
Professor Pickering fired the young Harvard man and replaced him with his
maid, Williamina Fleming, who did a better job, even without the benefit of
a college education.

Williamina Fleming actually turned out to be so good that she was
eventually appointed curator of astronomical photos, photos which are the
raw data sheets with which we have mapped the universe.

After being dazzled by Williamina Fleming, Professor Pickering then hired
only women as computers. To manage his team of computers, he hired Annie
Jump Cannon who was born on this very day in history in 1863, which is why
Annie Cannon is being celebrated today, on her birthday, with today`s
Google Doodle.

Well, a Google Doodle, seen around the world, is not nothing. But like
most women in Science, Annie Cannon has never been given enough credit for
her work.

Annie studied Physics and Astronomy at Wellesley, a women`s college not far
from Harvard. When she was a young girl, Annie`s mother actually got her
interested in Astronomy.

Annie`s parents fully supported her educational pursuits in the day when
college was a rare choice for girls, even for wealthy families who could
afford it.

Just seven years before, Annie started college at Wellesley. A Harvard
professor published a book entitled "Sex in Education," which theorized
that women simply couldn`t bear the strain of education, the physical
strain, that all of that cognition, all of the computing that a young woman
would have to do in college would actually interfere with the young woman`s
reproductive health.

As it happened, Annie Cannon never married and never had children. She was
devoted to the stars.

Using Professor Pickering`s telescope, photographs of stars, Annie Cannon
classified more stars than anyone else, anyone else in history -- over half
a million stars.

She actually created the classification system, "Four Stars," that was
formally adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1922. And it
is the classification system that the world still uses today.

It is called the Harvard Spectral Classification. If Annie Cannon had been
a man, if Annie Cannon had been Professor Anthony Cannon, it would have
been called the Cannon Spectral Classification.

Annie Cannon died at the age of 77 in 1941. The National Academy of
Sciences did not admit its first female astronomer until 1978.

Happy Birthday, Annie Cannon. And thank you.


O`DONNELL: The staff of the Congressional Black Caucus walked out of their
offices this afternoon, and onto the steps of the Capitol, to protest the
police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

More than 150 staffers protested quietly before Senate chaplain, Dr. Barry
Black, led them in prayer. Several members of Congress joined them.

Coming up, a defense attorney in California who says he could have gotten
an indictment in the Ferguson case and in the Staten Island case. Let`s go
into that next.



O`DONNELL: That demonstration was in London last night where people
protested the NYPD killing of Eric Garner. In an update in the "Washington
Post," a public defender in Oakland, California wrote about the Missouri
grand jury that chose not to indict a police officer in the killing of
Michael Brown, and the Staten Island grand jury that chose not to indict a
police officer in the killing of Eric Garner.

He wrote, "I know exactly what it takes to get an indictment. I could get
one in either case. In fact, I am ready, willing to fly to any town in
this country to get an indictment in any case where a police officer kills
an unarmed civilian. It`s just not that hard.

Joining me now is that public defender, Seth Morris, of Alameda County,
California. Seth, tell me about -- demystify this grand jury process where
everyone is saying "Oh, it`s so hard to go in there and present a case
against a police officer that the grand jury naturally sympathizes with."

And it`s so difficult for them to return an indictment against a police
they naturally sympathize with.

SETH MORRIS, PUBLIC DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure. Well, thanks for having me
on, Lawrence. But, in a lot of ways, these cases are easy, easier than
normal cases.

You know who the shooter is. You know where and when the event happened.
And you know the intent.

I mean, in both cases, one where you -- when an officer or any person takes
a firearm, points it at another person and unloads six rounds into that
person`s body, including two rounds into that person`s head, their clear
intent is to kill.

Likewise, if you put your arm around someone`s neck and take him to the
ground until they stop breathing, your intent is to kill. So, there`s
really not a lot of questions left.

What the prosecutors did to these grand juries is they presented the
defenses. They presented mitigation and they brought the -- what would be
the defendants into the grand jury room that explain their actions.

That`s exceedingly rare. That`s an aberration of the process. My clients
are never asked to explain what they did in front of a grand jury.

Because the point of a grand jury is to indict. The role of the prosecutor
is to indict. The defendant can explain himself at trial.

But a prosecutor should never be explaining away the actions of someone to
a grand jury. It`s just completely incomprehensible, an abdication of the
prosecutor`s duty.

O`DONNELL: And in both cases, as far as we can tell, and one -- we can
actually read what the grand jury said -- the prosecutor said.

There was absolutely no hint of a suggestion that a police officer, after
killing an unarmed person, would have any incentive to say anything that
wasn`t absolutely true.

MORRIS: Right, right. Remember that when police officers are involved in
shootings, they are immediately provided counsel before they give any
statements to investigators. That`s usually the arrangement that the
police union has constructed as part of their service. On the contrary,
when a non-police officer is arrested for a shooting, the police do
everything they can to avoid bringing in an attorney into the interrogation

And the Supreme Court -- if you look at the case law, it`s actually
extremely difficult to protect the Sixth Amendment Right to counsel. We
have the Miranda warnings but someone has to clearly invoke their right to

"Please bring me a lawyer. I don`t want to talk unless I have a lawyer."

If a criminal suspect says, "I think I want a lawyer," the police can
continue questioning them. So, it`s a completely different process and
it`s unfair.

These men, who happen to be police officers, should be held accountable,
just like anyone else.

O`DONNELL: Everyone should read Seth Morris` article in "Washington Post."
Seth, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

MORRIS: Thanks very much, Lawrence. I appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Chris Hayes is up next.


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