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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Date: February 26, 2015
Guest: Luke Russert, David Frum, Blake Zeff, Mona El-Naggar

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Next week. Now, there has been no official
announcement on this. Junior Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been campaigning
that the Republican leadership in Congress shouldn`t even allow a vote on
her on the floor.

But again, our sources telling us tonight that the Republican leadership in
Congress is blowing off Ted Cruz on this matter and Loretta Lynch will get
her vote to be the next Attorney General of the United States next week.

We`ll see. Watch this phase. That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you
again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell,
hello Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, you`ve been great about
pushing the Loretta Lynch vote in the Senate, and insisting that there`s
absolutely no reason for delay.

Finally, we have movement.

MADDOW: There is movement. And our sources tonight tell us that she`s --
it`s going to happen next week, no official word on that, but Ted Cruz is
saying it should never happen, we shall see.

O`DONNELL: We heard it from Rachel first --

MADDOW: Indeed --

O`DONNELL: A vote next week, that means she`s going to be sworn in at the
end of the week.


MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel. Well, with funding for Homeland Security
running out tomorrow night, Republicans in the house and Senate are still
arguing about exactly when they should surrender to the Democrats and
President Obama.

And Rand Paul is opening up a new campaign attack against Jeb Bush. Jeb`s
use of drugs when he was in high school.


Every mayor, governor, police chief, sheriff and police commissioner should
be concerned about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Funding the Department of Homeland Security --

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Is absolute insanity for Republicans if we
don`t vote on a clean bill. Maybe if their state was attacked, they`d
knock it off.

This is all about time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time is running out.

they make decisions, I`ll let you know.

PELOSI: It`s about time for them to grow up and pass this bill.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I want a commander-in-chief who will do
everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic
terrorists do not wash up on American soil, if I can take on a hundred
thousand protestors, I can do the same across the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The annual gathering of the Conservative Political
Action Conference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a job to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Men and women who are gathered here today are gathered
to fight for freedom in our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that job is not just to find the guy who can shout
freedom the loudest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people want freedom online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The future of the internet may have just been decided
in a landmark vote today by the FCC.

CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: On to important news now. The
Llamas are still on the loose --


O`BRIEN: Oh, doesn`t want to be caught, we should probably move on with
the news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the clock struck midnight overnight, pot became
legal in the nation`s capital.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: When Jeb was a very wealthy kid at a very
elite school, he used marijuana but didn`t get caught.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They basically think this is Jeb Bush`s race to lose.

PAUL: The law seems to target and seems to go after poor people, often
people of color. Three out of four people in jail are black or brown.

anniversary of Trayvon Martin`s death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today marks three years to the day since Trayvon
Martin was shot to death in Sanford, Florida.

OBAMA: It reminds us that the history of America doesn`t belong to one
group or another, it belongs to all of us.

O`BRIEN: I just want to go and meet the people. Obviously it`s a
politically charged situation.

STEWART: When does it air? When is it taken on?

O`BRIEN: Oh, never air.


I don`t know --

STEWART: Why don`t I just --

O`BRIEN: I`m dead last --

STEWART: Read it, because it appears right now --

O`BRIEN: Oh, it`s right there.


As you asked me, I saw it right there --

STEWART: It`s just you --

O`BRIEN: And I thought, there`s a reason you`re leaving.



O`DONNELL: For six weeks, house Republicans have been clinging to a
hopeless strategy for funding the Department of Homeland Security.

They have mistakenly believed until tonight that they could force President
Obama to sign a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security.

A bill which would include provisions that would nullify the President`s
executive actions on immigration.

They foolishly believed President Obama would sign such a bill because
funding the Department of Homeland Security is so important.

Of course, house Speaker John Boehner never believed any of that stuff, but
he had to publicly pretend that he believed it so that the amateur right-
wing of his party would not rebel against him.

As it happens, Senate Democrats successfully filibustered the house bill in
the Senate and have now forced Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell to advance a clean bill that Democrats can vote for and the
President can sign.

With 26 hours left before funding for the Homeland Security runs out, house
Republicans have stopped clinging to the wreckage of their failed strategy
and are finally offering a new idea; a time-out of sorts.

The house Republican plan is now to vote tomorrow on a clean, three-week
extension of Homeland Security funding, which if passed, will do nothing
more than delay the inevitable Republican surrender by a few weeks.

The Republican delayed surrender strategy would mean another few weeks of
the secretary of Homeland Security explaining things like this to the
Congress and the country.


JOHNSON: If you look at photographs of the immediate aftermath of the
Boston Marathon bombing, much of the first responder communications
equipment, portable radios, fire helmets, high visibility vests, response
vehicles, life saving equipment, and mass casualty supplies were things
paid for by grants from the Department of Homeland Security.

This is not just an inside the beltway political jousting. A failure to
fund the Department of Homeland Security fully has real impacts on public


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is "Nbc News" Capitol Hill correspondent Luke
Russert, also joining us, the senior editor of "The Atlantic", David Frum,
and "" political editor Blake Zeff.

Luke, you created today one of the great performance art moments in the
history of the speakership of the House of Representatives. Let`s take a
look at that.


funding runs out on Friday, are we less safe as a nation?

BOEHNER: If `ands and buts` were candy and nuts, everyday will be

RUSSERT: It`s going to be a clean DHS funding bill. Are you going to put
it on the floor? Are you going to kill it? Are you going to vote on it, and
have you even had this discussion?

BOEHNER: When they make the decision, I`ll let you know.


O`DONNELL: Luke, I am speechless. But can you translate for us? You know
the speaker, you`ve listened to him often, can you translate, if `ands and
buts` were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas, what does that
mean in --


O`DONNELL: Legislative terms?

RUSSERT: It`s something that the speaker often says when he`s --

O`DONNELL: Really? --

RUSSERT: Got his back against the wall --

O`DONNELL: He`s done that line before? --

RUSSERT: Yes, he`s said that --


RUSSERT: A few times when he has his back against the wall and we say why
don`t you pass essentially the way forward?

But I will say that the comparison I`ve used for John Boehner this week,
Lawrence, is really is Marshawn Lynch.

Which is that John Boehner has repeated the same thing over and over again
a variety of times, essentially that the house acted, the ball is in the
Senate`s court and they are awaiting to hear from the Senate.

Even though Mitch McConnell made his intentions known on Monday. So John
Boehner is doing exactly as he`s done since he started his speakership.

He is allowing for the conservative faction of his conference to beat their
chest, to scream and yell, to try and figure out a way to "stand up" to
the President regarding this issue of immigration in the past.

It`s been different issues, but at the end of the day, especially when
McConnell cuts this deal, we all know that John Boehner eventually is going
to have to take what McConnell is giving him from the Senate.

It`s just a question of when? It`s not a question of if. So in this case,
John Boehner today in his press conference was just sort of trying to move
it along, coming up with different Marshawn Lynchs and say the sort of same
thing over and over.

And then around 5:00 today, he came to the realization that, OK, we`re
going to have to do something because we don`t want to allow Homeland
Security funding to expire.

The one thing I will just point out, Lawrence, that came to my mind during
that press conference, if the shoe was on the other foot, and a Democrat
had done something like that over the issue of Homeland Security, the
outrage from conservative media, I don`t think anybody would have been able
to hear themselves speak, it would have been so loud.

But --

O`DONNELL: Well --

RUSSERT: It just shows you that this is the issue where they decide to
fight immigration, DHS, as one Republican said to me earlier in the week,
there`s two things Republican party is doing well, we lower your taxes and
we say we`re going to kill terrorists.

I don`t know why we`re giving away one of those two good things.

O`DONNELL: But David, David Frum --


O`DONNELL: Go ahead David.

FRUM: In 2011 and 2014 when Republicans forced debt ceiling battles over
issues that were not relevant to the debt ceiling, it was the Republicans
who were behaving in a way that was detrimental to American institutions.

That is not true this time. The predicate, the cause of all this is
President Obama`s executive amnesty.

That his determination to wave enforcement of immigration laws on a massive
scale and to issue Social Security cards to people who are not legally
entitled to bear them.

The Republicans are looking for a way to stop this. The -- what -- it is -
- what the President is doing this time, that is an attack on American

O`DONNELL: But David --

FRUM: And there is -- it is very --

O`DONNELL: But David, there`s a way to stop it. Why -- they`re going to
have a separate vote on stopping it, separate from funding the Department
of Homeland Security, that`s a way to stop it.

FRUM: The -- there`s nothing as you know from your days in the Senate,
there is nothing more traditional that Congress does than to say to the
President, you may not spend any money to do this, that, or the third

And Congress does that all the time. And that is what they are doing here,
is they`re attaching on the bill that is relevant to the U.S. citizenship
and immigration service.

They are saying no money may be spent to further this purpose that has
never passed the house --

O`DONNELL: Right --

FRUM: Never passed the Senate --

O`DONNELL: But Dave -- but David --

FRUM: It`s a solo act --

O`DONNELL: The votes --

FRUM: Of the executive --

O`DONNELL: But David, the votes aren`t there to pass that bill. So the
adult choice is to move to the next possibility --

FRUM: But --

O`DONNELL: Isn`t it?

FRUM: But the -- what the President has done here, he didn`t have the
votes either. And the President did something --


FRUM: That is clearly a prerogative of Congress. That he`s -- well, he is
not -- he is not exercising prosecutorial discretion, he is simply stopping
enforcement of a whole vast category of law and entering people into the
Social Security system who shouldn`t be there.


FRUM: And Congress is saying --

O`DONNELL: I get it --

FRUM: You don`t have the power to do that --

O`DONNELL: Let`s --

FRUM: And we`re looking for a way to stop it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to a Republican who understands your argument,
David, and who would like to stop all those things that you would like to
stop, but also recognizes that the Department of Homeland Security has to
be funded.

Let`s listen to what Peter King says about this.


KING: It`s absolute insanity for the Republicans if we don`t vote on a
clean bill.

If the Senate sends us a clean bill, we have an absolute obligation, not
just a political obligation, but a moral obligation to vote on that.

To be defunding the Department of Homeland Security at a time when the
terror threats are greater now than any time since 9/11.

To me, it`s just living in a -- it`s a fantasy world, a delusional world,
the time has come for a decision to be made after this come to a vote.

Just put it on the house floor, people can vote any way they want. I have
no doubt that a solid majority of the House of Representatives would vote
yes. Just give us democracy and let us vote.


O`DONNELL: Blake, he is absolutely right, isn`t he? If you put that on the
house floor, it would pass.

RUSSERT: Yes, and I`ve spoken to --

O`DONNELL: Luke --

RUSSERT: Some --

O`DONNELL: Let me hear from Blake on this.

RUSSERT: Oh, I`m sorry.

BLAKE ZEFF, POLITICAL EDITOR, SALON.COM: Well, yes, I mean I think the
problem for David`s argument, and I think David comes from a good
philosophical place here, it`s a difference of opinion that you and I might
have with him.

But the problem for David and people like him is that Mitch McConnell
disagrees with him. Yes, Mitch McConnell, Mitch McConnell said the game is

OK, we played this little stunt, we tried to appeal to our far right base
and you know, if the deadline is coming, we got to stop the game.

And so Mitch McConnell is saying, let`s do a clean funding bill. So
there`s no other option but John Boehner anymore.

David could talk about how this is about President Obama`s immigration
order and all that kind of stuff.

But something about President Obama anymore, Mitch McConnell chose
President Obama`s side over John Boehner`s side.

O`DONNELL: Luke Russert, how many Peter Kings are there in the Republican
house and how many people not facing reality as Peter King would describe
them, are there --

RUSSERT: Well --

O`DONNELL: In the Republican house?

RUSSERT: I sort of asked leadership aides and a few members a few days ago
what they thought the number would be if in fact a clean Homeland Security
bill that went through the end of September would go on the floor.

The number I got was at least 65, maybe as high as 75 or 85. So there`s no
doubt they could have moved it forward.

But it would have violated the Hastert rule which is of course, the rule
that says whenever you have a GOP majority, you want to get the majority in
the majority before you put something on the house floor.

And that really has been kind of the story of the Boehner`s speakership, is
that he does not want to violate that Hastert rule until a last possible

One last thing that I would tell you though, about this whole fight,
Lawrence, I find fascinating is, here you have the new Republican majority,
they`ve literally spent two months on Keystone and this, and more likely
they`re not going to spend most of March on this and a Medicare doc fix.

So any type of big bulled new types of ideas they were trying to show the
American public have really been pushed to the back burner.

And a lot of senior Republicans have told me that`s what they hate about
this the most, that they`re not having opportunity to express what they`re
for. It`s just going from crisis to crisis.

O`DONNELL: OK, we`re going to take --

FRUM: And President Obama also had --

O`DONNELL: Quickly, David, quickly.

FRUM: President Obama also had the option of putting the Department of
Homeland Security first, and he didn`t. He put it second to his quite
lawless, now struck down by federal court executive amnesty.

That was his top priority, Homeland Security was second for him.

O`DONNELL: And will --

FRUM: So, he is not the responsible adult here.

O`DONNELL: We will hear more speeches like that on the house floor as they
go through the surrender process. So Dave, we`re going to -- we`re going
to be back with more on this.

Before we leave, I just want to -- one thing about this so-called Hastert
rule, and Luke, I`m just saying this for the audience, I know everybody in
Washington calls it that -- it`s not a rule.

There is no rule of the house that says this. It was just Denny Hastert`s
preference, his political preference when he was speaker, and there`s
nothing that binds any speaker on that.

RUSSERT: It`s not in the constitution --

O`DONNELL: Right or --

RUSSERT: Perfect --

O`DONNELL: And there ain`t no rule book of the house either. We`re going
to take a break, coming up next, Rand Paul wants to know why Jeb Bush wants
to put people in prison for doing exactly, and I mean exactly what Jeb Bush
did in high school. Smoke a lot of pot.


PAUL: He used marijuana but didn`t get caught, didn`t have to go to
prison. I think it shows some hypocrisy that`s going to be difficult for
young people to understand.



O`DONNELL: Scott Walker says as president, he could absolutely handle the
Islamic State because as governor, he actually had to handle some labor


WALKER: And for years, I`ve been concerned about that threat. I want a
commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the
threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil, if
I can take on a hundred thousand protesters, I can do the same across the


O`DONNELL: A Walker spokesman was then, of course, forced to tell
"National Review" that the governor was in no way comparing peaceful,
protesting American citizens to the beheaders of the Islamic State.

What the governor was saying was, when faced with adversity, he chooses
strength and leadership according to his spokesman.

Up next, Rand Paul opens up a new campaign attack against Jeb Bush. And
Jeb Bush admits to smoking a lot of pot in high school and getting away
with it.

And Rand Paul wants to know why Jeb Bush thinks pot users, pot users like
him, the ones who don`t get away with it, should go to prison.



PAUL: When Jeb was a very wealthy kid at a very elite school, he used
marijuana but didn`t get caught, didn`t have to go to prison. I think it
shows some hypocrisy that`s going to be difficult for young people to
understand why we`d put a 65-year-old --


PAUL: Guy in jail for murder, for marijuana --


PAUL: What I`m talking about, there is not the hypocrisy of well, it`s the
hypocrisy of evading the law because the law seems to target and seems to
go after poor people, often people of color.


O`DONNELL: That was Rand Paul talking about Jeb Bush`s drug history on
"Fox News" last night. Tomorrow, both Rand Paul and Jeb Bush will address
the Conservative Political Action Conference where Rand Paul has won the
straw poll for the last two years.

Back with me, Luke Russert, David Frum and Blake Zeff. And David Frum, how
is that line of argument going to go over with Republican primary voters?

FRUM: The Republican party is divided on the marijuana issue, so it may
draw blood. But let`s remember that Rand Paul is here advocating.

He is not a friend to the groups that he is speaking for. He is not a
friend to young people and the people of color when he wants to make
marijuana completely legal.

And the consequences of legal marijuana are very dangerous, and they are
life-changing and they are going to fall on the people who are going to be
exposed to all kinds of life risks if it is made easier to start taking
drugs, easier to keep using drugs.

O`DONNELL: Blake Zeff, what I find --

ZEFF: Yes --

O`DONNELL: So fascinating about this line of attack is that, it is the
obvious side of it, of the -- look at this guy, he gets away with it then
he wants to put other people in prison for what he got away with --

ZEFF: Yes.

O`DONNELL: There`s also a very clear line of attack here about Bush

ZEFF: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Just Bush life privilege --

ZEFF: Absolutely --

O`DONNELL: In general. High school is not exactly the way we describe the
school. This is Andover, this is one of the -- you know, the elite, most
elite boarding schools in America, where he was.

And let me just read to you where -- this was all revealed in the "Boston
Globe". Let`s just read this description of Jeb`s pot use at Andover.

And this is from Peter Tibbetts who was a classmate of his, and the "Globe"
reports it this way. "The first time Tibbetts smoked marijuana, he said
was with Bush and a few other classmates in the Woods near Pemberton

"Then a few weeks later, Tibbetts said, he smoked hashish, a cannabis
product typically stronger than pot in Jeb`s dormitory room."

"The first time I really got stoned was in Jeb`s room, Tibbetts said, he
had a portable stereo with removal speakers and put on Steppenwolf for me.

As the rock group`s signature song, "Magic Carpet Ride" blared from the
speakers," Tibbetts said he smoked harsh with Bush. He said he once bought
hashish from Bush, but stressed in a follow-up e-mail.

"Please bear in mind that I was seeking the hash, it wasn`t as if he was a
dealer, though he did suggest I take up cigarettes so that I could hold my
hits better after that first joint."

Blake Zeff, who taught you how to hold your hits better when you were in
high school? --

ZEFF: Unfortunately for me, Jeb Bush was not there when I was in college -

O`DONNELL: Which --

ZEFF: I wish he were --

O`DONNELL: Presidential candidate taught you how to hold your hits better?

ZEFF: I think Rand Paul would probably be a good teacher of that, but
certainly he wasn`t.

O`DONNELL: Good --

ZEFF: But I need it -- but your point is a good one, he is bringing up
this whole idea of elite privilege.

I always think it`s kind of funny because Rand Paul of course is the son of
a Congressman and doctor. He is hardly some guy who had to, you know, work
his way up from boot straps.

But the other bigger point that I think you`re getting at, I`m sure is what
David Frum thinks is that, this feels to me like -- about more than

This is Rand Paul taking a shot at Jeb Bush who is the big dawg in the
establishment lane of the GOP primary, right?

Tomorrow he`s going to be speaking at C-PAC which is very much a far right
crowd, that`s kind of Rand Paul`s home crowd.

The libertarian types, tea parties. And it`s like hitting a pi¤ata, going
after Jeb Bush, the candy falls out with the far right crowd, I think Rand
Paul really doesn`t like Jeb Bush and sees this as another opportunity to
just hit the guy and score some points with his base.

O`DONNELL: And Luke Russert, Jeb`s brother had maybe the most charming
answer to the drug question by any candidate when he said, when I was young
and foolish, I was young and foolish.

Jeb is not quite so good at poet, what he said to the "Boston Globe" about
this was, "I drunk alcohol and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover.
It was pretty common."

Luke, how do you see this particular line of attack playing out by Rand

RUSSERT: Well, it`s interesting because I think the real purpose of it is,
he`s trying to grow the GOP brand and he`s talking about criminal justice

Which is something that we`ve heard inclines(ph) up on Capitol Hill from
some Republican lawmakers. And think about Washington D.C. where I am
right now, which we just legalized today.

There is a report that was really a sort of catalyst for legalization,
which was when there were drug possession arrests in Washington, this was
in the "Washington Post", even though blacks and whites use it equally,
nine out of ten of the arrests were for blacks.

So I think Rand Paul is trying to tap into that and a byproduct of that is
what? Going against Jeb Bush, saying, you know, arrest you know, a 65-year-
old white guy for -- a 65-year-old man rather, for medical marijuana.

Kind of showing this aged difference in this idea that Jeb Bush is trying
to overreach here, at least legally to pander to a base and he is not
having a realistic view of it --

O`DONNELL: Is this --

RUSSERT: So I didn`t think --

O`DONNELL: That Rand Paul version of this --

RUSSERT: I should also say Rand Paul, more so than other candidates, has
been throwing the hammer down at his opponents.


RUSSERT: And he is not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this isn`t nightmare --


RUSSERT: Holding back at all --

O`DONNELL: David --

FRUM: This is --

O`DONNELL: Frum --

FRUM: This is --

O`DONNELL: A quick last word for us --

FRUM: This is nightmare version of GOP extension. The way you want to
extend the GOP brand is by making healthcare more available.

By speaking for that, not by saying we`re going to make drugs more
available. The libertarian message purports to be the solution to the
Republican problem.

It is the Republican problem. What the party needs is a healthcare and
middle class economic message, not a drug message.

O`DONNELL: David Frum gets the last word on it tonight, thank you David
Frum, Luke Russert and Blake Zeff, thank you all for joining me tonight.

FRUM: Take care.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next --


O`DONNELL: One of the Islamic State fighters who has been photographed
beside a beheaded corpse used to have only one dream, becoming a fitness
instructor with his own fitness studio.

The extraordinary story of how that dream turned into fighting for the
Islamic State is next.



media outlets that are reporting that this suspect has been identified.

At this point, I`m not in a position to either confirm or deny that the
individual named in these reports is the individual that we`re searching


O`DONNELL: The "Washington Post" and the"Bbc" have confirmed the identity
of the man known as Jihadi John. A masked British man seen here just
before the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

Former friends have identified Jihadi John as a Kuwaiti-born British man in
his mid 20s from London named Mohammed Emwazi.

According to the "Washington Post", he is a University of Westminster
graduate with a computer programming degree.

The identification of Jihadi John follows the arrest in the raiding(ph) on
Wednesday of three Brooklyn men on charges of conspiracy to provide
material support to the Islamic State.

A fourth man is in custody today and he`s being questioned by federal
agents in connection with the alleged Brooklyn conspiracy.

Also today, Canadian law enforcement officials said six people from
Montreal left Canada last month and are likely headed to Syria.

The best current reporting on how young middle class men are moving from
dreams of career success to fighting for the Islamic State has been done by
Mona El Naggar in the "New York Times" with a company video on the "New
York Times" website.

Joining me now is Mona El-Naggar, a video journalist for "The New York
Times." Mona, this article that you wrote for "The New York Times,"
entitled, --


-- "From A Private School in Cairo to ISIS Killing Fields in Syria,"
absolutely stunning.


When I read this news -- I read it, I knew we wanted to talk to you about
it. And it`s the case study of -- his first name is Islam, --

EL-NAGGAR: Correct.

O`DONNELL: -- Islam Yaken.


O`DONNELL: And I just want to read your introduction to this. This is an
amazingly tight paragraph that takes him from what was his life, you know,
into the Islamic state.

And you begin by quoting his father, who you found and was able to talk to.
And his father said to you, --


-- "You have to understand, I am in pain. My son is gone." Mr. Aly raised
his son, Islam Yaken, in a middle class Cairo neighborhood, with tended
gardens and trendy coffee shops, and he sent him to a private school where
he studied in French."

"As a young man, Mr. Yakan wanted to be a fitness instructor. He trained
relentlessly, hoping that his effort would bring him success, girlfriends
and wealth."

"But his goals never materialized. He left that life and found religion,
extremism and, ultimately, his way into a photograph where he knelt beside
a decapitated corpse on the killing fields of Syria, smiling."


That is as -- and then you lay out in great detail how that all happened.
How did you, first of all, get this story and get all these people who knew
him to agree to be interviewed.

EL-NAGGAR: Right. Well, Islam Yaken was, fortunately for us, very vocal
through his social media -- on his Twitter account, Facebook, at first.
And he would just post --


-- pictures and tweet out where he was, what he`s doing. And, of course, a
lot of people that shocking. And local Egyptian media became sort of
became aware Islam Yaken and what he was up to.

And there was a bit of focus on his specific case because it was out there.
And so, I was intrigued, you know, by his sort of -- I was intrigued by --
well, how did he get there, really.


And that`s what made me pursue the story.

O`DONNELL: And his father was very disappointed when he became not so
religious during his body building pursuits.

EL-NAGGAR: True. I mean, his father used to sort of push him to pray and


EL-NAGGAR: -- and, you know, because he wasn`t very observant.

O`DONNELL: Does his father now regret that he pushed him to pray.

EL-NAGGAR: You know, I didn`t ask him this very specific question. You
know, the father is really --


-- sort of struggling with the entire situation and -- but he does -- he
did -- you know, I remember ember he -- you know, he`s sort of struggling
with his own feelings really.


And one of the things he`s struggling with is, well, how did his son get


And to what extent did he sort of, somehow, contribute to this, just in how
he raised him really.

And he said, you know, at one point, he`s like, "You know, this is," -- I`m
trying to remember exactly what he told me but he said basically like, "You
know, this cannot mean that I failed as a father. Everyone is responsible
for this. The system is responsible for this. The leadership is
responsible for this."

And what he really was trying to say is that there are so many different
factors that have basically pulled his son toward this -- in this
direction, toward ISIS eventually.

And he couldn`t face the fact that he could have, somehow, possibly been
entirely --


-- responsible for how he raised his son and how his son ended up with

O`DONNELL: You do mix in all the various elements in the article,
including religion. And there`s something you touched in here that I have
not read specified in any other kinds of accounts of this.

And that is the kind of sexual repression that these young boys are living
with. You refer to it as -- in the piece, you say, --


"There are some more delicate subjects not often publicly-debated, let
alone dissected, like the increasingly conservative thinking that defines
the faith for many Muslims today, or sexual repression among young people
who are taught that their Physical and emotional desires Can bring them
eternal damnation."


And we see, later in the piece, as he becomes religious that -- well, he
used to chase girls and proudly talk about actually having had sex with
girls -- he then will push his friend, --


"We have to walk faster so I don`t have to look at that woman walking in
front of me."

EL-NAGGAR: Right. I think, sir, that -- what we`re talking about earlier,
the -- being pulled in different directions and trying to really figure out
like sort of what moral code he wants to observe and live by.

It manifested itself in this issue of women as a young guy. You know, a
lot of young men everywhere are like, you know, thinking about women and
like pursuing women, not pursuing women, --


-- what`s the best thing to do and not to do.

O`DONNELL: And what is their --

EL-NAGGAR: And this is like a common thing for young men.

O`DONNELL: And what is their religion telling them about women at that
same time.

EL-NAGGER: I mean, well, the religion is telling them broadly that they
should not be in a relationship with a woman unless they`re married to her.
I mean --

O`DONNELL: His mentor he eventually starts to follow lectures that, if you
see women in class and school, and you become fond of them and you never
say a word to them, you have still sinned.


O`DONNELL: That`s how repressed this is.

EL-NAGGAR: Right. And that`s very ultraconservative view. So, some, you
know, religious leaders may not go to that extent --

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

EL-NAGGAR: -- but they would still tell you that, --


-- you know, if you`re in a relationship with a woman who you are not
married to, that`s a sin.

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

EL-NAGGAR: Of course, this particular religious leader has sort of taken
it to the next level and saying that just, you know, merely looking at a
woman or just, you know, --

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

EL-NAGGAR: -- platonically falling in love with a woman is still a sin,
which is a very difficult lesson for a young guy to process and live with.

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.


And, at the same time, incredibly Difficult for them, in the culture
they`re in, to move into a more western view of this. And so, there`s just
this incredible frustration that they`re --

EL-NAGGAR: There is an incredible frustration, but it`s also happening in
a certain context. The context of a region that`s mired in conflict and

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

EL-NAGGAR: And that`s a very important component.

And, also, in a country where, at one point, these young men, you know, had
this very strong sense of hope -- there was a revolution, there was this
brief moment that really sort of motivated people and made them feel like
they could matter, that they -- he could be a somebody, he can really sort
of, you know, change his life, take charge.

And then that sort of collapsed.

O`DONNELL: And what do we know about -- all of that, I think, I can

And the part that I haven`t heard anyone describe is how we get from that
recruitment point to, now, you`re a member of this fighting force, --


O`DONNELL: -- to it`s now your turn to behead someone. That actual act is
so strange that there are all sorts of soldiers who would absolutely refuse
to do it.

They`ll say, "Well, you know, that`s not the way we`re going to do this."

EL-NAGGAR: Right. So, I mean, from just, you know, speaking and reporting
on the story, I mean, basically, I mean, we have to look at this as stages.

You know, the Islam Yaken, who started as someone who`s slightly
dissatisfied with his life and turned to religion is not the same Islam
Yaken who is engaged in this fight in Syria --


-- with ISIS that`s committing, you know, these murders and killings. So,
there`s a progression there.

When, you know, when he turned to religion, he was looking for some sort of
definition in his life. And he adopted this very ultraconservative view
that made it very uneasy for him to sort of cope and live in the society
and be happy.

And when he -- you know, when he was waiting for sort of a political
transformation, he had a vision of an Islamic state in Egypt.

And that did not happen, and the country sort of turned around and went in
the opposite direction.

He became very sort of desperate and looked for something else. And, at
this point, --


-- you know, I mean, he sees what`s happening in Syria. He`s thinking
that, maybe there`s some kind of calling there, maybe he can go fight the
forces of Bashar al-Assad, then, you know, be sort of a constructive force
against evil.

That`s part of what`s going on there. And he thinks he`s fighting for a
just cause. As soon as --

O`DONNELL: No, I get all that.

EL-NAGGAR: Right. And he gets to Syria --

O`DONNELL: And I get the taking up arms. And I don`t get the --

EL-NAGGGAR: But as soon as you`re in Syria, things change.


EL-NAGGAR: And, now, you`re -- you know, the dominant sort of group is
ISIS. He joins ISIS and he becomes indoctrinated with, you know, even more
conservative, even more radical views of what his role should be as a
Muslim, and how to define his religion, and how to live by his religion.

And he takes it all the way. And, basically, --


-- within that sort of militant ideology, anyone outside of their very sort
of specific definition of Islam is considered an infidel.


O`DONNELL: Mona El-Naggar, --

EL-NAGGAR: And, you know, I mean -- you know, the vast majority of Muslims
clearly would not, --

O`DONNELL: Of course, yes.

EL-NAGGAR: -- you know, see that as being the proper definition of their

O`DONNELL: Exactly.

EL-NAGGAR: But, with this one, you know --

O`DONNELL: Mona El-Naggar, thank you very much for your report.
Thanks for joining us tonight.

We will link to this very important "New York Times" article on our Web

EL-NAGGAR: Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, Texas sportscaster, Dale Hanson, has a deeply
personal response to some high school basketball fans holding up signs that
said "White Power."

And Robin Williams` daughter, Zelda, does her first television interview
since her father`s death. That`s coming up.



Senator James Inhofe is Chairman of the Senate`s Environment Committee, and
he insists that climate change is a hoax. And, today, according to Senator
Inhofe`s logic, he proved it.


SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: In case we have forgotten, because we
keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the
Chair, do you know what this is?

It`s a snowball. And that`s just from outside here. So it`s very, very
cold out, very unseasonal. So, here, Mr. President, catch this, uh-hmm.


O`DONNELL: No, Senate rules say absolutely nothing about throwing
snowballs in the Senate chamber.

Coming up, at a Texas high school basketball game, the fans for one team
held up signs saying, "White Power."

That got the attention of legendary Texas sportscaster, Dale Hanson, who
delivered a deeply personal response about his own experience growing up
with racism all around him. That`s next.


Dale Hanson is back with a guest rewrite of sorts. Dale Hanson is well-
known to Texas sports fans, having done 33 years as the sports guy at WFAA
TV in Dallas.

Dale Hanson first appeared on this program when we showed you his very
positive reaction to college football player, Michael Sam, revealing that
he is gay, just before the NFL draft.

Something happened at a recent high school basketball game in Texas that
Dale Hanson felt compelled to comment on. The game itself was worthy of TV
coverage since it took three overtimes for the Flower Mound Jaguars to beat
the Plano East Panthers, 75 to 73.

But Dale Hanson wasn`t interested in what happened on the court. Dale
Hanson wanted to talk about what the Flower Mound High School fans did
during the game.

They held up two signs beside each other, one sign saying, "White", the
other sign saying, "Power." Dale Hanson had a very personal reaction to
that, including the memory of growing up under the spell of racism.


DALE HANSON, TEXAS SPORTSCASTER: That basketball game in Flower Mound a
week or so ago with Plano East has changed some of the rules now, but it
hasn`t changed nearly enough.

Kids on the Flower Mound side were seen holding up signs saying, "White
Power." And too many parents and, apparently, others who care, tried to
defend what you cannot defend.

Some parents actually argued that it was just a mistake. They had five
signs, grabbed two, and they just, accidentally, when held together, said
"White Power."

Louisville school officials say now, it was no accident. And how could it
have possibly been. They`re taking their signs away.

But there`s a history in Flower Mound. When my granddaughter, who went to
Louisville High, would be at a game in Flower Mound, she and her friends
would hear the chant, "Welfare babies, do you know who your daddy is,
because we know ours."

I feel sorry for people who find their value in the value of their home or
the money they have. But I don`t blame the kids as much as some of you

Maybe because I used to be one of those kids. I was raised in a small Iowa
farm town that had only one black family in the county and raised by a man
who used the "N" word like it was a proper noun.

I think I was 12 before I realized the "N" word actually wasn`t the first
name of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Elston Howard, and so many more.

My dad always referred to the black athlete and any person of color he
didn`t know that way, but he loved the Matthews Family. Henry and Billy
Matthews were good people. The whole family was.

My dad always said they were different. The one black family he knew were
good people. All the others he didn`t know, they were the bad people.

The ignorance in that reasoning, if you think about it long enough, will
twist your mind. And it twisted mine.

Kids have to be taught to hate. And its our parents and grandparents, and
our teachers and coaches, too, who teach us to hate.

Kids become the product of that environment. I was and they are.

The kids who hold the signs and chant their racist slurs -- and it`s not
all of them, it never is, but their ignorance perpetuates the stereotype of
all of us in Texas as a racist, ignorant people.

But that ignorance will be replaced someday by the wisdom they learn, when
they live in the real world, when they meet the people who don`t look like
them, didn`t grow up the way they did, the people who make this life worth
living, they will change.

Not all of them. It never is. But they will change. I did a long time
ago. They can, too.

But not if we try to defend what you cannot defend. And not if we stay
silent and think taking their signs away is doing enough.

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who
watch them without doing anything -- Albert Einstein.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, Robin Williams` daughter gives her first --


-- television interview since her father`s death. That`s next.



Last year, the organization, American Atheists, was not allowed at CPAC.
This year, they got a booth and speaking slot.

Reporters say, atheist Republican, Jamila Bey, got a tepid response among
the mostly Christian conservative audience.


G.O.P. candidates. Let`s do this as Americans, one and all. Thank you.



O`DONNELL: Hmm, I wonder why they didn`t embrace her. What could it be.

We`ll be right back with the first TV interview of Robin Williams` daughter
since her father`s death.


"He was one of a kind, kind, gentle, and funny beyond belief. Shocking."

That was a text I received from a dear friend of Robin Williams the day he
died six months ago. Robin Williams` 25-year-old daughter, Zelda, has now
done her first television interview since her father`s death with NBC`s
Kate Snow.


important to him.


KATE SNOW, NBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You wrote last summer that your
father was one of the kindest, most generous and gentlest souls you`ve ever

And I want to quote what you wrote. You said, quote, "The entire world is
forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his
absence. We just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again."



SNOW: Is that why you`re doing this.

WILLIAMS: I don`t think it`s sadder in general that he`s gone. I mean, I
think a lot of people feel his absence. But, for me especially, yes, it`s
going to take a lot of work to --


-- allow myself to have the sort of fun, happy life that I had.

SNOW: When everything happened last summer, --


-- I`m curious how it felt to be you, because it seemed like everybody was
so stunned by it.

And there was so much outpouring of --


-- I hope there was outpouring of support to you. Did you feel that.

WILLIAMS: It is not something that`s even easy --


-- to put into words, for as much as I love words and have a lot of faith
in them. There was an enormous outpouring of love from --


-- every corner of the world. And it`s not to say that people didn`t know
dad. They knew a dad that he was proud --


-- of them knowing, because he was --


-- an incredibly kind and incredibly caring man. And he was also very
private and very calm and very subdued. And so, --


-- the side of him that people know and love and that is attached to their
childhood is the characters that he had so much fun being.



WILLIAMS: And that`s what`s important. And I do think that`s what a lot
of people will hold on to. Dad`s not going anywhere. Of course, it`s
lovely when people say things like, --


-- "My condolences." But, for the most part, it`s nice to have just --


-- our private life be our private life.

SNOW: You know, I lost somebody to --


-- suicide, too, so I know that there`s often that, sort of, "Why did this
happen," question.

WILLIAMS: I don`t think there`s a point.

SNOW: Because you`ll never know.

WILLIAMS: No, and it`s not -- it`s not important to ask because it`s --

SNOW: It`s done.


SNOW: Because that seems to me, like what --


-- all the people who knew your dad as a fan, all the people who loved him
and his work, when it happened, everybody wanted to know why, how could
this happen.


WILLIAMS: Diseases are, until we find out exactly how they work, we don`t
have an explanation. So, there is no -- there`s no one that can offer --

SNOW: That`s not going to hang on to.

WILLIAMS: No. A lot of people who have been through it and lost someone,
the ones that I found that have gone on to lead very -- to lead very full
lives, found that they just had to know that there`s no point questioning
it, and there`s no point blaming anyone else for it.

And there`s no point blaming yourself or the world or whatever the case may
be, because it happened. So, you have to continue to move. And you have
to continue to live and manage.


SNOW: And while it won`t be easy for her, on Friday night, Zelda Williams
will honor Robin Williams and his legacy of giving back by presenting an
award to her father and his teammates at the Challenged
Athletes Foundation, who joined him in a triathlon every year.


WILLIAMS: Dad was an extremely athletic person. Like people --

SNOW: Huge biker, right.


WILLIAMS: Oh, yes.

SNOW: Huge biker.

Robin Williams met his teammate, Rudy, when he was just 10.

WILLIAMS: They were on Team Braveheart.


And Rudy is a wonderful paralympian. He just won the gold last year. He
would do the swimming leg, --


-- tag dad in, dad would do the biking leg, and then he`d tag in Scott
Tinley, who`s an Ironman.


And that was the team.


SNOW: Zelda remembers her dad, always taking people under his wing.

WILLIAMS: He would meet guys there that were not participating, that had
just lost limbs, and was just there -- you know, maybe a family friend
brought them because they were depressed or because they needed to witness
something remarkable.

And he would go and talk to them. And he`d be like, "Next year, I want you
to do this, bud."

He`s done charity for as long as he had to, with all the ability to do it.
That was what his favorite thing, other than comedy, really was.



O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


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