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tv   Meet the Press  NBC  December 15, 2014 2:58am-4:01am PST

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i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. this sunday, the senate's torture report. >> we have failed to live by the very precepts that make our nation at great one. >> the e report concludes that e cia failed to truthfully report to the president and the congress and the house. >> there is no truth to these rereports. >> and that the cia did what needed to with be done to prevent further attacks. >> we can did what we had to do to prevent another attack.
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>> i will be joined by former vice president dick cheney. and could drones be used in the future this the same way that terrorist attacks are p being used today. >> we will be seeing them used in many ways. and as a young black man, it is over time. >> why is there such distrust between police and african-americans. >> the belief that there is not going to be distrust is to deny humanity. >> i am joined by former adviser to the president david axelrod, and political correspondent helene cooper and correspondent
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andrea mitchell. >> and now it is "meet the press" with chuck todd. and now, no government shutdown this year and perhaps next year as well. now to the big story, the senate report on torture and some called it enhanced e report on technique. some call it the detail and the shocking indictment on the methods used on techniques used on detainees and no more defender of the tactics used former vice president dick chen cheney. thank you for coming back. >> good to be back. >> and let me start with a quote, you said that torture is something to be avoided and it implies that you have a definition of what torture is. >> well, torture to me, chuck, is an american citizen on a cell phone making a last call to the
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four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the trade center in the new york trade center. and it seems there is some difference of torture, and there is no difference, and we worked hard to stay short of that definition. >> what is that definition? >> the definition is the one provided by the office of legal counsel, and we went specifically to them because we did not want to cross the line that we crossed some international agreement, and they specifically okayed and authorized everything that we did. all of the techniques that were authorized by the the president were in effect blessed by the justice department opinion that we could go forward with those without in fact committing or the chur.
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>> and let me go through some of the techniques. majit khan subjected to rectal feed i feeding and feeding and it included ensure, and it included of hummus, and pasta and nuts and puree and rectally infused. is that meeting the definition of torture? >> it is not the definition of torture. >> and in your mind does it meet the definition of torture. >> i told you what meets the definition of torture is what men did with box cutters. i believe that is what is done with medical reasons. >> well, there is no evidence. >> if you look at jose rodriguez' book and he is the one who was running the program, he has done a very clear description of how the program operated with respect to that and i think that the agency has answered it in the response to the committee report.
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>> and you acknowledge that this is over and above? >> this is not something that was done as part of the program. >> you will not call it torture. >> it is not done in part of the program. >> we have amid al rajar and overhead handcuffing with hands over a bar for 22 consecutive days to braeak the resistance ad he had access to a diaper and no access to toilet, and was that acknowledged as part of the program? >> i can't tell from that specifically whether it was or not -- >> and page 53 of the e report. >> the report is seriously flawed, and they did not talk to anybody who knew anything who knew anything about the program and within the program and the best guide of what happened is the report that was produced by the three cia drirectors and th dep sis is of the cia when this program was understood taken and it lays out in clear terms what
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we did and how we did it in respect to trying to define that as torture i come back to the proposition that torture is what the al qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 americans on 9/11 and there is no comparison to what that is and what we did to the suspected terrorists, and it is not. >> some of these tactics did what is above and beyond what was approved. >> and this one, to abu zubaydah, and laid in a coffin-sized box and 29 hour, and then depth of 2.5 feet, and a height of 2.5 feet, and on page 22, is that going to meet the definition of torture? >> that is one of the approved techniques. in terms of torture, i guess what i do, and i was struck for example by the statements by bud daye and leo forcnis and
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captured by the vietnamese and subjected to extreme torture and all of them said that waterboarding was not torture, and you can look for various definitions, and we did what was required and making sure that we were not violating the the law, and the law as interpreted by the justice department and the legal department was clear and the techniques use and the president authorized that produced results and gave us the information that we needed to safeguard the nation against further attacks and to track down those guilty of 9/11 did in fact work. now the senate committee and the partisan operation and none of those involved and the -- >> with well, the the cia -- >> and chuck, chuck, if you will look at it, and look at what those who were involved of running the agency said, and chuck rodriguez who is a good man and what was said on the
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show, and i won't use the word on the show, because it is a family show, but it is a crock. and the whole report has not been released. >> and thousands of pages here and this is the executive sum i ri. >> yes, and go read what the directors of the agencies said about the report. they were extremely critical of it as were the republicans who were on the committee. >> does it plant any seed of doubt in your mind? >> no. absolutely not. >> no seed of doubt in your mind whether it worked or not? >> no, it did work. it absolutely did work. >> and what do you say to sulaiman abdullah, and khalid al masri and others folks who were detain and had the interrogation methods used on them, and they were later released and then
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they were later released a and no apology and what do we do? gaul ramon was frozen to death in cia custody and then he was a case of mistaken identity? >> well, the folks that were released on the battlefield, and 30% of guantanamo ended up back on the battlefield. today, we are concerned about isis, and terrible new terrorist group who is led by baghdadi who was detain and now he is back out, and now leading this this group. so i am more concerned about the guys who were e detain and then let out. >> and so 25% turned out to be innocent? >> where do you draw the line and how do you know? >> is that too high or are you okay with that margin of error?
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>> i am okay as long as we achieve the objective to not have is another terror attack, and i a am okay as long as we had the approval of the justice department, and it is okay. for 13 years we have avoided another mass casualty against the united states and we did capture bin laden and capture the main guys who have been responsible, and i would do it again in a minute. >> and if you say waterboarding was not -- why not -- >> well, to draw some moral equivalent of waterboarding of our justice department and what the japanese did with the bataan death march with the rain of the others and the c s and the man is a cheap shot to the draw war
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crimes with what was done in world war ii and what was done to the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks is a cheap shot. >> and is this why it was done at other sites? >> no, they are not american citizens, but they are unlawful combatants, and they are people who have committed unlawful acts of terror against the american people, and we put them in places to find out what they knew and to protect the country from further terrorist attacks, and it worked. >> and general petraeus said this about the troops about the interrogation techniques to the troop, and others say that we could use other information extraction the techniques, but it would be wrong. this is what senator mccain said. >> i know that some say that
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torture techniques distinguish that from our enemies, but all people possess basic human rights which are protected by the international conventions that the united states not only joined but for the most part authored. >> your reaction? >> my reaction is the same as leo theoharris who was a pilot shot down, a pilot, and said this week that waterboarding is not torture, and he also holds the medal of honor and as did bud day and subs subsequently made it clear that he does not believe that wa the terboarding is torture. >> and so if waterboarding is performed against an american by isis, is it or the cur?
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>> he is not going to be waterboarded, he is going to have his head cut off. >> and why don't you have -- >> chuck, you are trying to come up with hypotheticals, but when you come up with isis and anybody else, what they do is not waterboarding, but cut their heads off and what they did on 9/11 is brutal and bloody murder and it cannot be compared to with what we did in the enhanced interrogation program. >> and now there is a insinuation that has to do with jose padilla that said that you and usdoj used author iized enhanced interrogation techniques part of the techniques to avoid plots as a plot of dirty bomb plots was avoided due to intelligence.
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and this what the cia a said that other cables and other information said that those techniques played no role this the identification of jose padilla or the dirty bomb plots. and do you feel that they were telling you what you wanted to hear? what is the implication? >> well, the implication is just wrong. and again, the cia directors are making it clear that they got it wrong time after time after time. the foegs that -- the notion th not identified at the white house is not true. i sat in meetings with the cia and the example that the president did not know is a lie and it is not true. we we were in fact -- >> how was the president preefed? >> he with was briefed. >> by the cia or you? >> i was heavily involved as especially the national security council and conde. and the president write ss abou
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it in his book. >> well, three pages in his book he writes about it, but you were briefed directly, and he was briefed indirectly most of the time, is that fair to say? >> no, that is not fair to say. he and i met every single morning with the ci, and the director of the director of security, and that is where we got most of the information and that and the written pdb, and he authorized it and knew it, and the statement by the senate democrats for partisan purptss that the president didn't know what was going on is a flat out lie. in fact, it is a cheap shot piece of political business that was not bipartisan nor involving this any discussion of the people involved in the program. >> you have -- >> why would you give that credence? >> and let me ask you this, why would you have thumbed out in the cia the same intelligence community that didn't get it
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right on wmds in iraq are and why are you so confident that they are telling you the truth on this? >> because i though them, and i have known men for years that i have trusted intimately with the difficult problems they have dealt with. and jose rodriguez is one of the outstanding officers there, and i know what they were asked to do and i am perfectly co comfortable with that, and they deserve the praise and to be decorate and not harassed. can you imagine out there now as an officer of the agency and you were understo undertaking a difficult task and the president approved it and the department of justice approved it and then later some politician on capitol hill would come back to want a piece of your fannie, and it is a difficult proposition that this is even discussed. >> and this is ben emerson, a
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special envoy of the human right, and he wants a criminal probe. he says it is time to take action and the individuals responsible for what he calls a criminal conspiracy in the report should be brought to justice and the u.s. is legally obliged to bring them to justice. i know how you feel on this, should the president -- >> i have no respect for the united nations thor individual who has no clue and no are responsibility for safeguarding this nation or the bastard who went after americans here. >> and is there a pardon -- >> there is no pardon needed because there is no crime needed. who wants to sanction or satisfy some executive at the united nations who doesn't have any say or responsibility and a claim that some kind of pardon is required, chuck? this is a, again, i come back to the proposition, and i think that one of the things that i'm worried a isn't what thy d ied
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doing long term, and we have isis talking about attacking the united states creating a caliphate, and in a situation as bad of 9/11 when after the attack we had word that al qaeda wanted nuclear weapons, and now we are sitting here today, and castigating the cia for doing what the president ordered them to do and the justice department said was legal, and we are doing enormous damage to the relationship overseas with the friends and the allies who have supported us and working with us, and making it very difficult to go to recruit foreign agents to work with us because they are likely to be hanging out to politicians on capitol hill who have an ax to grind. and we are largely being in trouble with politicians with an ax to grind. and not with bipartisan approach, and not an approach which takes into account the
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people involved, but political view to trashing a very, very good program that work and saved lives and kept us from another attack. >> and a couple of questions. i want to play an interesting clip of you 20 years ago about iraq and saddam hussein. and take a lookment >> that is a very poll volatile part of the world and if you take down the central government of iraq, you can see pieces of iraq fly off and part of it the syrians would like to the west, and the eastern iraq, and the iranians fought over and to the north you have the kurds and they spin loose and join with the kurds in turkey, and then you threaten the kurds in turkey and it is a quagmire. >> and looking good there 20 year years ago. >> and how old were you 20 years a ago? >> 22 at the time. >> and you could argue that somebody today saying, that is what iraq looks like today, it
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might split up, and ungovernable, and pieces of syria and iraq and i mean, everything that you deskrcribeds happening today. >> so what is the question? >> i ask you, do you regret pushing saddam hussein out? >> no, no. a lot has happened between the time 9/11 for example happened, and we got to the point where we were very concerned about the linkage of the terrorists on the one hand and the weapons of mass destruction on the ther. and saddam hussein had nuke lcl programs going on and ten-year relationship with al qaeda, and all of those things came into play here. >> and the al qaeda stuff was questioned in here. >> and when it was the importance of going after iraq, i believe that we did the right thing and it was the right action then and i believe it now. >> and last question. rand paul or hillary clinton, and whose foreign policy are you more comfortable with? >> i don't think that either one
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of them is going to be president. >> and whose foreign policy are you going to be comfortable with? >> i am comfortable with my own views and i have been forthright with them, and i don't support either hillary clinton or rand pa paul. >> and how is your health? >> i got a new heart three years ago and my share even growing ba back. >> good to see you, dick cheney. >> thank you, chuck. and we will be back with a key member of the senate foreign relations committee, and it is s senator ron wyden and he going to be here. [ male announcer ] we know they're out there. you can't always see them. but it's our job to find them. the answers. the solutions. the innovations.
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and welcome back. more on the story that has dominated the news this week. the senate, what the democrats call the torture report. i'm joined by senator ron wyden, democrat from oregon, member of the senate intelligence committee and somebody who frankly was pushing your leader, senator dianne feinstein, to get this report done and be made public. senator wyden, welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you. >> first let me get your reaction to vice president cheney who obviously has not a lot of respect for this report. >> well, first of all, with respect to waterboarding and the vice president is obviously comfortable with it, i consider it to be torture. and just to correct the record when the japanese were prosecuted for using against our guys in world war ii, it was at the tokyo trials. i think it's important to set the record straight. >> well, let me ask you, though, he says this thing is partisan. that has been some of the
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criticism even from folks who agree with some of the conclusions who say you know what, though? you have no real chance to see reform at the cia because the cia can now easily dismiss this as a partisan report. >> facts aren't part ran, chuck. we reviewed 6 million pages of documents. the full report has 38,000 footnotes. and what we sought to do was very careful. and that is to take the statements, the cia made to the american people, made to the congress, made to the justice department, made to the president, and we compared it to their own internal communications in realtime. there are a mountain of contradictions. >> i understand that you used nothing but cia material, cia-provided material, but no interviews. the cia says, director brennan said that he would have been pleased to talk to senate investigators, that plenty of cia agents were even talking to the justice department. why didn't you take up the cia -- i know for a while they weren't giving you access, but eventually they said they were going to give you, and you guys
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decided not to take them up on it. why? >> it's a little more complicated than that. the report and the justice department inquiry went on at the same time. so we weren't able to interview the cia. so we thought that it was important to get materials that could be verified and documented. so we looked at the communications that cia officers were making in realtime about torture. now, during that period, everybody knew that we were having this inquiry, and certainly none of the people writing op-eds have come forward and said oh, we would have liked to be interviewed at that time, suffice it to say i'll speak for myself and my colleagues, we would be happy to have talked to them. >> do you think there should be criminal prosecutions? >> the justice department has been clear with respect to that that there are not going to be. i hope they'll review the new facts. but -- >> you want them to change their mind? >> i want them to review the new facts. but what i'm especially troubled by is john brennan, on thursday,
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really opened the door to the possibility of torture being used again. and that's why it's so important that our report come out. and what i intend to do with my colleagues right when we back is i intend to introduce legislation to make it clear, for example, that if torture is used in the future, there would be a basis to prosecute. >> director brennan fit to serve the cia? >> director brennan particularly on thursday said some important things and also left out some things that were important. for example, he indicated that he would no longer be using the terms with respect to torture that the information would be otherwise unavailable. that's a real vindication of the committee because we showed that we were able to find bin laden, find kfm without torture. so that was good. what i was troubled also about was that he undercut the panetta
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review. the panetta review really agreed with what the committee found. >> but i go back, director brennan, you're comfortable with him running the cia? >> not at this point. >> you think the president should fire him? >> i want to give him the chance to end this culture of denial, to deal with the misrepresentations, if he doesn't do that, we're going to have to get somebody who will. >> is there photographs in your report that you guys redacted? >> i'm not going to get into what was redacted. i lost some battles with respect to redactions, but i think the report does tell an important story, tells it accurately, and it is a particularly timely report now, given the fact that john brennan really opened the door to the possibility of torture. again, when he was asked, in effect, what he thought, he said that's for future time. >> is there more of this report that you think should be
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release? >> i would like to see the entire report declassified. >> senator wyden, thank you. >> thank you. let's get reaction from the panel. david david axelrod, andrea mitchell, dan senor. obviously the debate isn't going to end any time soon, but this is a pretty tough report. the facts in it are cia based. the conclusions, i understand, what vice president cheney was against, but the facts are pretty damning, and at least plant some seeds of doubt, does it not? >> well, look. i think the actual program, the integrity of the program, the report does not actually produce anything that undermines it. most of what is criticized in the report is what happened outside the program. these rogue operators. now, reasonable people can disagree on, you know, what happened in those rogue operations, but the actual integrity of the program, the actual totality of the program, it's indisputable that it pulls al qaeda operatives off the
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battlefield. >> if it's indisputable, john brennan said it's unknowable. even swron brennan who i think supports the program could not come to the conclusion that it's indisputable. >> well, what brennan said was unknowable, he says look, we got information. what's unknowable is if we could have gotten the same information had we not used these techniques. >> right. >> that's an experiment. how long do you want to try that experiment? ksm wasn't talking. they used the techniques, suddenly he was talking. maybe he had a change of heart or maybe the techniques worked. how long are you going to wait to see if he actually is going to talk? >> director brennan's view of this report, andrea. he obviously doesn't like how it was done. thinks, as he said, over the top when it comes to transparency. does he disagree with the facts? >> yes. at this lengthy, you know, hour that we spent with him, and he disputes thej@kfact that information on bin laden was obtained by other sources, by other foreign intelligence agencies, before any of the torture which he would not call
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torture took place on abu zubaydah. other confirming sources indicate that he was lying. the question is, could they have gotten it from other ways? and he says that it was unknowable whether or not that information, that train of evidence. what he also disputes is whether this analysis, based on memos, can lead to the proper k conclusions. what analysts do is look at lots of different pieces of information and that the senate investigators looked at it too linearly. but let me just say, the former director, i think many would say, as the vice president said, should have been interviewed, they were not worried about prosecution. they were willing to come forward. i think there are other issues here, for instance, jose rodriguez. this report would not have happened had jose rodriguez not, in contradiction to what the white house lawyer, the justice
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department, and the cia was ordering to do, had he not destroyed the videotapes of those interrogations, that is what tipped it over, and there was a 14-1 vote -- >> at the time they started the investigation, no doubt. >> and there was a lot of pushback and resistance to getting the facts that they needed from the republicans. >> now, david, you were in the white house when the president essentially decided despite where so many in your base wanted you guys to go prosecute somebody, hold somebody criminally responsible. even some saying you've got to go get the vice president. do you think president obama did the right thing in not allowing the justice department to investigate, to see if we have rogue agents, perhaps, that went above and beyond? >> the justice department did look into it, chuck, but i think he did the right thing in rejecting what was the major call, which was for a commission that would go back and essentially accent rauate the rs of every player. we've had a big national airing
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of this. his view, as he expressed the other day, is is that we have to move forward and learn from this. let me just comment on brennan because i watched that press conference that you were at, andrea, very, very closely. what i heard, the vice president invited us to talk to the former directors. he said abhorrent things were done and the cia was unprepared to run such a program. he said at the end of the press conference that he strongly leaved that this was on balance, not a good program for the country because it violated our relationships. it spoiled our relationships overseas with our allies, and the efficacy of the data of the intelligence we got was in question. in fact, one of the points that we apparently derived from some of these coerced was that the war in iraq, that there was a link between saddam hussein and al qaeda, which was one of the pretexts for going into this war. there's not -- he did not back up the vice president's points
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here. >> helene, obviously there are a lot of people, the vice president brought it up. i've even had some democrats who are in support of the report brought it up said releasing this has put american's intelligence capabilities has shackled us a little bit. are you getting the sense from people you talk to? >> not so much. that is much more of sort of when you look -- i mean, david touched on this just now. you talk about the reaction around the world. there's a lot of chatter right now about, you know, the united states trying to have things both ways. and there's this belief that we're at the same time that you saw former vice president cheney sitting here saying again and again that this wasn't torture, you know, just because, you know, so we're going, for instance, in china, there's a whole -- this has been a huge case, a huge -- the reporting in china has been huge all week looking at the united states, talking to us about human rights and lecturing us on this, that and the other and looking at what they're doing within the united states, you know. the idea that we don't -- yeah.
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>> but we're the only country. >> that would release it. >> this is what makes america america. >> it really is. >> for better or for worse, it's what we do. >> once they released the report, it's another thing to release those graphic details, those very vivid descriptions which i do think will have implications for americans fighting men and women overseas on the battlefields to provide that fodder for our enemies, you know. >> here's the question, dan. is it the release of that information that endangers those troops, or was it the practices that endanger them? i mean, what the vice president seems to be saying is we did bad things in dark places, but what's wrong is that we told people about it. >> and we did things in dark places that resulted in us disrupting mass casualties, terror attacks. that part is disputable. all that brennan said is we're not sure other things would have worked. >> pause there. last word. >> we've not had these tactics for six years. so we haven't had a major attack in six years. >> you know what we have been doing? we've been using drones to blow up terror operatives.
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>> by the way -- >> so you're not going to answer that question. >> okay. >> i'm answering the question. >> david and dan, the good news is, you guys provided a segue to our next segment [ woman ] i've had it with my moderate to severe plaque psoriasis... the frustration... covering up. so i talked with my doctor. he prescribed enbrel. enbrel is clinically proven to provide clearer skin. many people saw 75% clearance in 3 months. and enbrel helped keep skin clearer at 6 months. [ male announcer ] enbrel may lower your ability
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set's the mood. have your entire house within reach, even when your devices aren't. introducing relay by wink it's like a robot butler, but not as awkward. as promised, we'll be getting to the drone war in a moment. getting to the drone war in a moment. but up next, race i was thinking about htaking this speed test from comcast business. oh yeah? if they can't give us faster internet or save us money, they'll give us 150 bucks. sounds like a win win. guys! faster internet? i have never been on the internet and i am doing pretty well. does he even work here? don't listen to the naysayer. take the comcast business speed test. get faster speeds or more savings, or we'll give you $150. comcast business. built for business.
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in recent weebks, the failue of grand juries to induty ploorchs for killing unarmed african-american men in ferguson, missouri, and new york city, as provoked outrage and dismay. yesterday tens of thousands gathered in cities across the u.s. to protest those killings and the treatment of black pen by law enforcement. in new york, protesters shut down the brooklyn bridge for about an hour, and two police
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officers were assaulted and sent to the hospital. to help us understand why there's so much distrust between african-american men and police officers, we brought together three people with firsthand knowledge of the situation. l.a.p.d. police chief charles beck, civil rights attorney constance rice, and aqul, an african-american man who has been on the right side of the law but the wrong side of some cops. >> as a young black man, it's reported constantly, a couple times, three, four times a week, you know. for no reason whatsoever. >> we recruit from the human race. you know, because of that, we have all the foibles that humanity suffers. >> the cops are evtotally many under fear. ms. rice, can i tell you, i'm scared of black people. i'm afraid of black men. what do i do? >> when a police officer approaches a black man, he comes into that situation with these
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prejudices that has been implanted into his mind for many years. >> we have spent, you know, 500,000 years developing these fight-or-flight instincts to protect us. and to think that those fight-and-flight instincts aren't going to be present in police officers is to deny humanity. >> put your hands on the hood. and lights on you and everyone driving past can see you. humiliation at another level. >> the community had great fear of the cops. and the cops had great fear of the community. >> they asked us the question, have we ever been arrested for n.i.p.? i said, well, what's n.i.p.? it's the "n" word in public. just for being black. >> my job was to break down the fear and build the trust. >> one of the police officers actually, with his flashlight, commenced to hit me in the head. so i asked him, what was he doing? and he told me to shut up and
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just take it. >> what they were saying to me was that my actions may not look right to you because you don't understand, i'm scared. when people are scared, they have a hyper-reaction. they overreact. >> there needs to be systems in place so that the police officers have to conduct themselves in a way no matter who they're policing. >> it was very important to change that attitude. we have made tremendous progress. i think you have to build trust every day. policing can't just be about an absence of crime. it's got to be a presence of justice. >> these things that happens to black men is something no one should go through. >> all in their own words. it's a tough conversation. but you know what? maybe we need to have uncomfortable conversations like that.
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when we return, back to the war against terrorists. and the u.s. drone program that many see as being every bit as and the u.s. drone program that many see as being every bit as wrong as the get to the terminal across town. are all the green lights you? no. it's called grid iq. the 4:51 is leaving at 4:51. ♪ they cut the power. it'll fix itself. power's back on. quick thinking traffic lights and self correcting power grids make the world predictable. thrillingly predictable.
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worse and worse.rthritis, i had intense joint pain that got then my rheumatologist prescribed enbrel. i'm phil mickelson, pro golfer. enbrel helps relieve pain and stop joint damage. i've been on the course and on the road. enbrel may lower your ability to fight infections.
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serious, sometimes fatal events including infections, tuberculosis, lymphoma, other cancers, nervous system and blood disorders, and allergic reactions have occurred. before starting enbrel, your doctor should test you for tuberculosis and discuss whether you've been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. you should not start enbrel if you have an infection like the flu. tell your doctor if you're prone to infections, have cuts or sores, have had hepatitis b, have been treated for heart failure, or if you have symptoms such as persistent fever, bruising, bleeding, or paleness. enbrel helped relieve my joint pain. but the best part of every journey... dad!!! ...is coming home. ask if enbrel, the number one biologic medicine prescribed by rheumatologists, can help you stop joint damage. and welcome back. taking on the threat posed by terrorism is now one of the top priorities of any american president. and president obama has adopted
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a different approach from his predecessor, george w. bush. while he has gradually withdrawn u.s. troops from iraq and afghanistan, he has rapidly escalated america's drone war. it's a highly controversial tactic aimed at taking out terrorist targets without military casualties. butity count itcritics argue it thousands of innocent civilians in yemen and pakistan. here's our chief foreign corresponde correspondent, richard engel. >> reporter: it's become the weapon of choice in the war against islamic terrorists. a u.s. drone flies over a target thousands of miles away. the cia tracks the location, receives authorization, pushes a button, and a small missile is fired. but some are asking whether years from now we'll debate drones the way we're debating torture. >> the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles that you refer to as drones in the counterterrorism effort has done tremendous work to keep this country safe. >> reporter: the cia's
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clandestine fleet of armed drones has become central to its counterterrorism mission. the secretive nature of the program means no one can tell for sure how many of the estimated 3500 people killed mostly in pakistan and yemen were insurgents and how many were innocent civilians. >> in u.s. public opinion, there is greater support for killing people than torturing them. >> reporter: why? >> it's hard to know why. i think we believe that individuals we can see with this high technology precise discriminate weapons platform is better at identifying who they are. but in fact, most of the individuals who we kill, we have much less information about than the individuals -- the 119 captured. >> reporter: mike azenco has been following and criticizing the drone program for years. >> one of the reasons the cia became so active in drone strikes was out of concern that they would be prosecuted for torture. >> reporter: so they were worried about holding them and torturing them and decided, eh, it's better just to kill them
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instead? >> this is what the cia's response to the torture report makes very clear. >> reporter: in the past 12 years, the u.s. has launched hundreds of drone missions. about 50 under president bush, an estimated 400 under president obama. >> the use of drones is heavily constrained. america does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists. our preference is always to detain, interrogate and prosecute. >> reporter: polls show about 70% of americans support the drone program. why? why is it more acceptable and more popular to kill people than to hold them and torture them? >> antiseptic drone strikes, which is the video image you see from the pentagon, torture is something we feel directly and personally and we think is morally wrong. >> reporter: but there is nothing antiseptic about a missile that hits a village. so as officials do the rounds to
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admonish the previous administration for condoning the secret torture program, they will do well to keep in mind that old saying about glass houses and stones. >> richard engel is in studio with me now. richard, first of, it's good to have you stateside. >> good to be here. >> december visit here. what's creating more terrorists? the bush interrogation program or obama's drone program? >> creating more terrorists? >> yeah. >> it's very hard to know. people are radicalized -- >> there's worry that both do that. that both can radicalize people. >> there's a whole history of why people are being radicalized. it goes back to u.s. support for israel, what's considered to be a war against islam. but the drone war is certainly part of it. the torture program is certainly part of it. i don't know if you can say one is more influential and creating more of a problem than the other. >> now, you were telling me before, and you didn't bring it up in the piece, that there is -- there's obviously various ways that the drone program is
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used, you know, going after a known terrorist. there's no other way to get them and they kill that terrorist. but then there's something you say that are called signature strikes. tell me about em this. >> these are probably the most morally problematic. and there's a desire right now to criticize the previous administration for its morally questionable practices. this administration is carrying out some morally questionable practices. >> signature strikes. >> signature strikes are those. so there's two ways to carry out a drone strike. the -- you follow the target. you know who that person is. you know more or less what they've done or what they're accused of doing. you watch them for weeks, months. you find the right location, where they are. you order the drone strike. and they're killed. or they get away. signature strike is very different. signature strike, you follow a target, but you don't exactly know who that person is. you just know their signature, their profile. and if they have the profile of a terrorist, that's good enough. so if a vehicle, a pickup has
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four or five people in it, they're driving from a known al qaeda headquarters, they look like terrorists. but we don't know exactly who they are. >> this is where we're going to find out -- ten years from now, we could find out we killed innocents. >> and i know people who are involved in these kinds of programs, and they're worried about that saying well, we're being asked to do this. we're being told it's legal. are we going to face some sort of persecution and prosecution down the road? >> richard engel, chief foreign correspondent, as i said, good to have you here for your december visit. stay safe, my friend. big battle in washington over the weekend. big battle in washington over the weekend. >some cool things to pass onto oyour kids: your super heroes. your fashion sense. your love of reading. your uncanny ability to
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find parking spots. your fear of people who are different? not so much, the more you know.
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every senator in this body should be put on record whether he or she believes that it's constitutional for a president to disregard, to ignore federal immigration laws. and grant blanket amnesty to millions in defiance of both the laws on the books and the voters. let me say this to anybody who is listening at citi. i agree with you, dodd/frank isn't perfect. it should have broken you into pieces.
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>> welcome back. the panel is here. cruz and warren, by the way, they both voted no. we had bipartisan support for this deal, andrea, bipartisan opposition. strange debedfellows. >> indeed. it was so interesting that i was watching c-span on a saturday night, ridiculous. >> we all probably were. >> 40 votes against this, 20 and 20. the two party wings. and you've got afterwards people are not being very -- you know, vocal with democrats against elizabeth warren. there's a lot of angst about that. this was a deal negotiated by harry reid and barbara mikulski, and she went against it. let's just talk about ted cruz for a second. bob corker, orrin hatch, lindsey graham, putting out statements criticizing ted cruz because, they say, he kept the senate in and gave the democrats, gave the white house, confirmation votes on nominations that they wouldn't have had if they had gone home a couple of days ago. >> it's interesting, both cruz and warren went about their opposition in different ways. david axelrod, i want you to
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respond to this. an anonymous aide saying this. if this party can't accommodate its clinton era folks and its warrenites, we're headed for trouble. do you think this party can unite those two wings of the party? >> i do if secretary clinton comes out. >> move towards elizabeth warren. >> and i think she will. let me say one thing about ted cruz. i think he was delighted to be attacked by washington. >> sure. >> he got everything he wanted out of that. >> by the way, two years ago when ted cruz shut down the government, everybody said cruz is finished. his career is finished. he's overshot. and republicans were saying this is going to be damaging to our prospects in 2014. well, we did just fine in 2014. >> look at the 2016 primary. >> ted cruise, i think, will be very competitive in the republican primaries. i'm not saying i'm for cruz. i'm simply saying it's difficult to say that this has set him back. and it's also difficult to argue that it set the party back. >> what if clinton becomes elizabeth warren -- >> she doesn't have to become warren, but she has to have a
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more popular economic forum. >> helene, what does this mean for how washington will work in 2016? is this just a preview of crazy things to come? >> of course, it's going to be even crazier. i'm really looking forward to the security battle. yeah. i wouldn't want to work there, but i also wouldn't want to see how -- >> you're not the only one. >> -- they shut down this agency that's going to end up being enforcing all of our border controls which i think is going to be very interesting to see how the republicans tie themts up in that. >> by the way, if you're president obama this morning, you're getting most of your budget, and they're sort of doing a happy dance over there at the white house. >> they're pretty happy. >> i think they got more than what they expected. >> yes. but i think even more interesting is why is andrea spending her saturday nights on c-span? the second time in a row that you've told me this. >> but this program set me up for "homeland" tonight. >> david, go ahead. >> let me just point out, dan, i think 2016's much different than 2014. if ted cruz makes a stand on
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immigration, i think he's going to doom his party for one more presidential cycle. >> look, i agree. i'm not saying cruz is our ticket. it could be barry goldwater before it's all over. i'm simply saying the politics for him in the republican primary poll -- >> i totally agree on that. >> right. >> very quickly, speaking of republican party, this morning jeb bush does an interview with an old miami staple, grown up in miami, michael putney was the tim russert of miami politics and all this stuff. he's retiring. congratulations, by the way, to michael. he gets this interview and jeb announces he's going to release all these e-mails, write a book. that's a guy running for president, no? >> i think he's going to run. and by the way -- >> six weeks ago, now i do. >> this is fascinating -- republicans have not had a primary like this in decades. it's wide open. a lot of 800-pound gorillas in the race. >> look at the jim baker quote. >> that's all for today. quite a show. we'll be back next week, because if it's sunday, it's "meet the
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press." breaking news this morning on "early today," a hostage situation is under way in sydney, australia, where a gunman is holding shoppers inside a cafe. one of the most lucrative movie franchises of all time has been compromised as part of a massive hacking of sony pictures. and has the cia been thrown under the bus by the recent torture report? it is monday, december 15th. "early today" starts right now. good morning. i'm milissa rehberger. breaking news, terror in sydney. a gunman is holding hostages inside a cafe in australia, he's reportedly making demands through social media. so far five people have escape. the daring getaway played out earlier on tv. >> we're going to show the pictures, this is what happed

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