tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC April 25, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
predecessor did. they got through the day without harming each other or themselves, by finding things to agree about. finding good and honest things to say about each other and leaving all the rest for the next day on "hardball." that was a good thing to do. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us, "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. thank you for joining us. big stuff today and we'll get to all of it. big news out of the state department, the united states believes the syrian regime may have used chemical weapons on its people. also, president obama spoke at the memorial in west texas for those killed in the explosion of a fertilizer plant. we'll tell you what role then senator obama played seven years ago trying to prevent explosions
exactly-like that one in texas and why he couldn't. let's start in dallas, texas, it was a day of perform and circumstance and above all, bipartisan civility at the dedication of george w. bush's library and museum on the campus of southern methodist university. so much more than that. at its most fun, today was a wonderful opportunity to observe the hilarious challenge watching everyone obligated to speak at the dedication to come up with positive things to say about george w. bush. president obama tried complimenting his personal attributes like sense of humor. >> to know the man is like the man because he's comfortable in his own skin. he knows who he is, doesn't put on any pretenses. take his job seriously but doesn't take himself too seriously. >> president carter went with a self-deprecating anti-joke about the election which was
uncomfortable because it meant president bush probably shouldn't have been president in the first place. >> in 2000, as some of you may remember there was a disputed election for several weeks. finally, when president bush became president they had the inauguration in washington's own schedule. i think my wife and i were the only two volunteer democrats on the platform. >> it was left to bill clinton the political genius he is who teased on what was probably the best possible way to thread the needle. he went with the i really like your paintings approach. >> your mother showed me some of your landscapes and animal paintings and i thought they were great! really great. i seriously considered calling you and asking you to do a portrait of me until i saw the results of your sister's hacked e-mails. those bathroom sketches are wonderful but at my age, i think i should keep my suit.
>> if you're an ex-president attending the library dedication of another ex-president, you really are bound by the if you don't have anything nice to say axiom except if you can't say anything nice at all you're called to the podium you have to say something and it has to be nice. luckily we at "all in with chris hayes," we're not speaking at the dedication and on television and under no such obligation to say nice for the sake of being nice. today was the official birth of the revived george w. bush's reputation project, a project that should be smothered before it can catch fire. the strained niceties we heard from the podium in dallas today were nothing compared to the onslaught of bush apology. that the collective memories about the bush president's eight years is totally wrong is something of a tortured process.
there are two ways to go about it. one way focus on the personal. don't try to make an argument george w. bush was a good president. talk about how he was a nice guy and hope everyone's forgotten the iraq war and torture and financial crisis. for example, he once gave dana perino part of his sandwich, in a collection of favorite memories of george w. bush published on fox website, ferrigferriperino recounted this, i went with him on a rural event for a boy scout's jamboree. weather kept us in for two days and made it out and on the way home he insisted on sharing his peanut butter and honey sandwiches with me and the chief of staff, andy card. if it doesn't convince you he was a good and great man after all, if you're thinking, hey, that's nice but my best friend in fourth grade shared a
sandwich with me and he doesn't get a library and probably no way of convincing you of personal stories told by high level former aides. that's not the only thing employed by bush apologists. some are trying to rehabilitate his image through a careful project of omission. this is really great. in her column this week, miss rubin compared george bush george bush's record as president to barack obama, unlike obama's tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11. if you don't count the biggest terrorist attack ever in the history of terrorist attacks on american soil that took place on george bush's watch, there is still the anthrax attack of 2001 remains unsolved to this day. maybe those also fall under this mysterious first year immunity rule bush apologists like us to operate on when it comes to evalua evaluating george bush's record
on terrorism. when it comes to the economy they would like you to forget george bu george w. bush was still at the wheel in the back half of the crisis. and for his 7 1/2 years of job growth and prosperity. 7 1/2 years not quite how long he was in office. she is not lying about his presidency, carefully editing out the bad parts. >> there is another sector talking about his image. by his own former staffers and loyalists might be the most d damming part of his presidency yet. not that he made the right decisions, but that he made decisions, and that is what made him a good president. >> you go to the museum and you get to say, wow, that was a compelling time. i didn't realize how compelling it was when the president had to face this impossibly difficult decision. i'm glad he had the courage to make a decision.
>> he confronted some very difficult challenges. >> you don't get to have a do-over, as he said. he made decisions based on the best information he had at the time. >> he had the courage to make decisions and they were presidential decisions. >> that is true. they were presidential decisions. he made decisions because he was president. that doesn't mean they were good decisions. but this strength having made decisions regardless of the wisdom of those decisions is amazingly embodied in the george w. bush library itself called decision points theater, described as being an int interactive choose your own adventure game of big decisions made by george w. bush during his presidency. in the game, an audience of up to 24 people at a time gets to say what decision they would mak make. >> you can hear everything, the advice that all the different advisors gave president bush before each of these decisions.
you can hear the press hounding you to say, make a decision, what are you going to do? you don't have much time. >> it also gives people an understanding how decisions are made. one thing for certain, not my presidency alone where the president has to make tough decisions. every president makes tough decision decisions. >> this does not sound like the kind of thing that will make everyone realize what a great president george w. bush was. it sounds to me like the world's easiest video game. invade a country for no reason or don't for no reason. don't invade a country for no reason. celebrate john mccain's birthday while a deadly storm hits new orleans or don't. don't celebrate john mccain's birthday while a deadly storm hits new orleans. i could do this all day. torture people or don't torture people. don't torture people. deregulate and tax cut the country into financial ruin or don't tax cut the country into financial ruin. there is no reason to overthink the bush presidency.
it was just as bad as you thought. as bush himself might advise, when you're considering his legacy, go with your gut. joining us colonel wilkerson, former chief of staff, currently professor of government at the college of william and mary. what was your reaction to watching the perform and circumstance of the george w. bush rehabilitation reputation today? >> the biggest thing that hit me, because torture was the issue that made me go public in 2005 was when he stood in front of the library and said people will be able to come to this library and see we stayed true to our convictions. this at the same time a week ago the constitution project on detainee treatment released its report which answered two really big questions. did the united states torture? yes. resound lig so. and did it originate the decision there for at the top level? vice president and president.
yes, it did. i don't think that's something that represents my convictions and i hope to hell it doesn't represent the convictions of most americans. yet that's what he said the library was going to represent. >> what is he the most important thing to having been inside the administration and watching these vaunted decisions unfold, what is the most important thing for us to have learned or think about when we think about the bush legacy in terms of what we do going forward? >> you hit upon some of it. i teach presidential decision making post world war ii. when you make decision, you make good decisions or you make bad decisions, making no decision can be one of those, too. there were an awful lot of bad decisions in this administration. one of the things americans should take away from that is the apathy and general lack of knowledge about those decisions made for the american people is a contributing factor if not the
ov overriding factor of those decisi decisions being made. if we continue to be ap thet ic during that time i sub me we are during president obama's tenure, we will get more of this not less. >> there's news today from dianne feinstein, talking about calls for the administration to release prisoners in guantanamo. guantanamo is a perfect example of a decision made in a fairly ad hoc fashion, a lot of people captured on the battlefield and scooped up and living in guantanamo and we are living with that all these years later despite the fact it was repudiated at the pole als and still being held there after a decade and there are more and more detainees on a hunger strike, i'd like the administration to review the status of the 86 detainees from the past and see if they can be cleared for transfer in the
past. we are still living in the legacy as to decisions as to guantanamo bay. >> they are still being tortured and some force fed twice day. if you've never seen a demonstration of force-feed writing you're shackled to a chair and a tube is stuck down your throat to the stomach, you know that's torture. the torture is still going on and the residue is still going on. what has guantanamo done, the current administration says we won't ship them there, to bagram or somewhere elsewhere we know they will not be taken care of at all. >> colonel lawrence wilkinson, thank you for joining us from texas. i really appreciate it. >> thanks for having me, chris. george w. bush called himself the decider. up next, i'll talk with a person who made a truly courageous, some say unpopular decision as the bush administration beat the drums of war.
i will admit is is not exactly fair to kick around the bush administration all night without letting them get defense. and we will have more. stay with us. changing the world is exhausting business. with the innovating and the transforming and the revolutionizing. it's enough to make you forget that you're flying five hundred miles an hour on a chair that just became a bed. you see, we're doing some changing of our own. ah, we can talk about it later. we're putting the wonder back into air travel, one innovation at a time. the new american is arriving. [ beeping ] ♪ [ male announcer ] we don't just certify our pre-owned vehicles.
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history. >> an uncomfortable truth spoken by former president bill clinton today at the unveiling of the new george w. bush library. let's bring in congresswoman barbara lee, and former special assistant to president george w. bush, debra glenn and the managing editor. >> you made this remarkably difficult decision to vote against the authorization for the use of military force within just a few weeks of 9/11. you were the only member of congress in both houses to do so. i wonder what your reaction was to watching the celebration of the bush presidency today at the library and all this talk about difficult decisions. >> chris, first of all, that resolution that came to congress was three days after the horrific events of 9/11, on 9/14, which tells you how much time the president and congress had to make decisions about a response to these very terrible
events. it was a blank check. it was a resolution written in a way that gave any president, president bush and now president obama the authority to go to war forever. of course, i could not vote for that. that gave the constituti constitution -- our constitutional responsibility over to the president. so while it may have been a hard political decision, it was clearly the right decision, based on our constitution, also based on what i worried about and that was going to war for a time that we don't know how long we're going to war for and we're still in this state of perpetual war. >> having lived through the bush years and having had to vote on things that were being fought out in the legislative branch during that period of time, are you disposed to look on the bright side today and look for the silver lining and say, you know, he was good on this, he was good on i don't know, funding for aids in africa or something like that? >> let me tell you, the facts speak for themselves. first of all, we went to war in
afghanistan and iraq. iraq, just look at that. the facts were misleading, they were manufactured. and they were wrong. we took our country into war and lost over 4400 brave young men and women. $800 billion, could be a trillion. look what's happened to our country and our economy. i have to say, i worked with president bush on the blood-alcohglobal hiv initiative. i'm hoping in his library he has those documents. it was the congressional black caucus that met with president bush and we laid out what could be a magnificent robust response to save millions of lives. i'm proud of president bush that he moved forward with us and signed the second global aids bill into law. there were many things i think hopefully were in the library that showed the relationship between the congressional black caucus and our global hiv aids
response. >> dillon, can i ask you, conservatives have had an interesting relationship to the bush presidency. during his presidency, he was remarkably popular with conservatives. he became to be less so in the second term. he has been written out of history in a way and his name never uttered. this seems like a moment of reembrace for conservatives of george w. bush. is that how you understand the trajectory. >> first, chris, i will say i wish you could be here in dallas. it's been a great day for the former presidents and a wonderful way to honor george bush and his family and those who have the privilege of serving with him. i gets to your question i'd say this is a person who's shunned politics since he's left office. he's not a political leader today, he's a public servant something he and his family, that's been a tradition he's lived his life about.
i think what you're going to see coming out of this library and over the course of the next hopefully many years, you will see a president leads by example working on those issues that the library stands for, education, freedom around the globe -- >> he's the last two term -- the last republican president. he had a huge legacy. how conservatives view themselves in relationship to him seems to have a really big effect on what conservatives are going to do. it seems like there was a period conservatives really want to reject him and now it seems like they're embracing him. >> i think you can err on both sides. i'm not sure they ever rejected him or embracing him that much today versus how they always handled the president. this is a guy who ran his first campaign on being a compassionate conservative. he governed sent riger right an
respected by those and i don't think there's a rift before and i don't think that it's being healed now. i think this day and looking forward is about stepping back and letting historians take a look at the record an american citizens drawing their own conclusions. the day-to-day pettiness of politics, i think he will try to stay out of. >> joy. >> i think the problem with that analysis is that the major movements within republicanism in the last few years have seemed to be a negative reaction to bush. you have that sort of tea party movement about bailouts. who instituted those bailouts, t.a.r.p., et cetera, that would be george w. bush. the revulsion that was attached to that got placed on barack obama but it was bush who started those policies. the other big movement you're seeing within the republican party, the libertarian wing of the party more isolationist, more skeptical of foreign wars, that would seem to be a direct repudiation of the neoconservative policies bush didn't run on in 2000 he fully
embrac embraced, i think pushed by dick cheney and the neo cons in the pentagon. george w. bush got taken off the trajectory of being the kind of republican he was before he was president. he got pulled into this neoconservative wing of the party that made him a disappointment to the third part of the party, evangelicals and delivered a not and never delivered a ban on abortion. he was pushed away. the one way he was embraced, the idea the media and culture d disrespected bush is a lot of the reason the right dislikes obama. >> conservatives on twitter. i understand if i were a conservative and i watched my opening, i would not like it either. i understand. what's interesting is that there is a degree to which he has been distanced from a conservative movement. if you attack george w. bush, conservatives get incredibly upset. congresswoman, i want to ask you a subsequent question and dillon, i want to ask you about this legacy question. one of the things president
obama said i thought was interesting he gave problems to george bush for trying to get comprehensive immigration reform done. one of the things interesting and clever about that, pointed out the fact in some ways the republican party has moved to the right after george w. bush, right? in certain ways the house republican caucus, your colleagues is the most conservative part of any major party we have seen in a very long time more conservative than george w. bush. is that how you understand the trajectory since then? >> yes indeed. there is no way i can say i have ever seen a more conservative congress. i've been here now 15 years. i am telling you, when we have an economy now with double-digit unemployment for example in the african-american community and latino community, not to be able to even bring up a jobs bill, a bill to create jobs to reduce unemployment, we can't even get this congress to talk about and move forward to create jobs.
i don't believe a more moderate congress, more moderate democratic kawasacaucus would b obstructionist as these tea party are. i serious. they're dug in. i think they came here to dismantle government, to -- >> i'm sorry, congresswoman, i wanted to get dillon in here because he's sitting there and i wanted to give him a chance to respond to this. you just said people are going to figure this out, my question is to you, as someone who worked in the administration, is he a great president? are you proud of what he did? did you stand by the legacy? >> i'm very proud of how he's governed and very proud of what he tried to do. this is a president that tried to reform social security, tough decisions. certainly, we're not going to re-litigate the wars, people will make their own decisions about that. he improved education in this country, we created a lower tax rate for the lowest income people in america and reduced taxes for millions of americans
an we got the economy moving. certainly, the economy hit speed bumps, listen. this is an imperfect science governing this great nation which is what makes us great. i think president bush is someone who will be remembered as not afraid to put his principles first and stand behind his principles. >> thank you very much for that. that is the defense i've heard. congresswoman i i'm sorry to cut you off, i did want to give dillon another chance. and i want to repeat about the use of millimeter force. you and i are in agreement and we'll talk about that and joy reid, thank you all so much and i appreciate it. thank you, dillon, for standing with the truck. i appreciate it. were chemical weapons used in syria? the department of defense is saying the tenement answer is yes and what that means and how the united states will respond, coming up. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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her was the news today. u.s. believes syrian regime used chemical weapons. this is big news and especially unnerving because of the red line the president described just last august. >> a red line for us is we start s seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. we have put together a range of contingency plans. we have communicated in no uncertain terms with every
player in the region that's a red line for us. >> today, secretary of defense chuck hagel confirmed the contents of a letter sent from the white house to a bipartisan group of senators. >> it states that the u.s. intelligence community assesses with some degree a varying confidence that the syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in syria, specifically the chemical agent serin. >> the headlines have been a little confusing what this all means which is why it's important to understand how we got to this point and the role played by john mccain, a very vocal advocate of u.s. military involvement in syria getting us here. two days ago, israel's top military intelligence analyst told an israel security conference syria had used chemical weapons against rebel fighters there and cited photographic evidence of people foaming from the mouth and other evidence consistent with the nerve gas serin.
and they were continuing an investigation but others have asked the white house for its response to the revelation. the aforementioned letter from the white house was the official response to the senators. chuck hagel traveling in the middle east basically read the letter to reporters. he added this. >> the decision to reach this conclusion was made within the next 24 hours. >> senators john mccain and lindsey responded, senator mccain, i think it's pretty obvious a red line has been crossed. senator graham, it's a red line that has been crossed. if it's a red line that's been crossed, the next question, what the heck does that mean for u.s. involvement. joining us, from time international, bobby, can we start with this phrase some degrees of varying confidence, having gone through iraq wmd, i think all of us are extremely attune dollars to the intelligence problems here. what should we make of the
phrase we have determined with some degree of varying confidence chemical weapons were used? >> we have to conclude we're not 100% sure. chemical weapons are not very subtle. serin in particular is not very subtle. the fact that kind of language has been used suggests to me very small amounts were used, this is not even something as bad as the tokyo subway serin gas release. >> when saddam hussein used chemical weapons against kurds during his reign in the 1980s? >> that is correct. it seems john kerry said there were a couple of instances where it looks like the gas was used. the president, in his letter, also talks about sendi sending -- asking the united nations to investigate. it suggest this is enough circumstantial evidence this was used but not quite yesterday conclusive proof, a, it was used
and b, who used it? was it the rebels against the government? the government against the rebels? was it an independent commander gone rogue? was it accidental? there's still a lot of gray in this mix before we get to red lines. >> the president in the white house, unnamed officials have been very careful talking about it that way. one unnamed official given history of assessments related to weapons of mass destruction. it's very important we're able to establish this with sent and able to present information in a way that is airairtight. my next question is what does red line mean? i've been trying to figure it out all day. the use of chemical weapons is a red line. what is on the other side of thread line? >> that's the multi-billion question. for the obama administration it is very clear there are no good outcomes to any kind of military involvement by the united states. not even of the nature we saw in libya, not even imposing a
no-fly zone. the administration has gamed every scenario out, our reporting suggests, and none of those scenarios leads to a conclusion satisfactory from the american point of view, from the point of view protecting american interests. john mccain would like the creation of some kind of safe zone protected by american or international arms where rebels can from where rebels can launch against bashar assad but many military strategists said that doesn't make a lot of sense. the red line doesn't add up to much. until there is international consensus and international action, nothing really can be done. there's not international consensus, the russian and the chinese have said repeatedly, that they will not allow an international military action. will the russians care that gas was used maybe once or twice? maybe, may not be.
i'm not sure. >> i should note, a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around were being utilized was the quote from the president. >> whole bunch. >> bobby ghosh from "time international". thank you. this day calls you. to fight chronic osteoarthritis pain. to fight chronic low back pain. to take action. to take the next step. today, you will know you did something for your pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is a pain reliever fda-approved to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain.
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that's president obama today at the memorial service for those who lost their lives at the fertilizer plant in west texas. behind me, a man who is trying to stop explosions in s what happened. >> and a pitch from john fogarty who tells us the website, they don't work for you.org is worth another look. i couldn't agree with you. two were so frustrated from the senate's rejection of the background check on guns did this. this is depicting the faces of gun violence and 45 senators who voted against doing something to
stop it. following the opening slides are 45 separate screens, pairing each no vote with a child killed by gun violence within the past year. a stark personalized message accompanies each slide. senator cruz doesn't work for kids like jesse. senat senator, he itkamp. these senators don't work for you. every once in a while people get frustrated and try to do something that makes a difference. and from the city of boston, they released their may cover in a tweet earlier and the image went viral. the cover features sneakers forming the shape of a heart and a power effectively "we will finish the race."
the back page was just as intere interesting. it was ready to be shipped out and they asked in facebook posts for runners to submit their shoes and they had an interview of each one who donated and some featured online in a special section that will go out next week. the boston marathon will be back and so will i. the third awesomest thing on internet today, switching gears a bit here, this man claims his sheer handsomeness got him kicked out of saudi arabia. he is a dubai based fashion actor, photographer and poet, in other words, a real catch. news broke last week, three men were deported from saudi arabia after being deemed too good looking by the regulation police. he posted a connection on facebook along with a smiley
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we may not all live here in texas but we're neighbors, too. we're americans, too, and we stand with you and we do not forget and we'll be there even after the cameras leave. >> that was president obama in his second texas speaking engagement of the day. first, he was in dallas to muster some nice words about the legacy of president bush at the opening of the bush library and traveled to waco at the memorial of the victims at the west fertilizer company. these two speaking engagements are not just geographically related, a thread that runs through until now untold story of the bush administration how it went about defeating the kind of regulation that would have strengthened federal oversight for the plant that blew up. we pieced together this story. here's what happened. in the wake of 9/11 there was
tremendous concern about the vulnerability of chemical plants that stores fertilizer. the epa knew it posed risks for the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and it made headlines across the country. 2.4 million people could be killed or injured in a chemical attack against a u.s. chemical plant in a densely populated areas and a recorder could easily enter more than 60 plants sto storing catastrophic amounts of chemicals and it represents the third highest risk of fatalities from possible terrorist attacks. to bush administration officials, christine todd whitman head of the environmental protection agency and tom ridge head of homeland security came up with a plan to deal with the vulnerability. whitman believed the epa was already empowered to expand it under a section of the clean air act and she and ridge worked out a deal to do know. that is until the son-in-law of
former vice president dick cheney walked into the room, a guy by the name of phillip perry at the time the general couple of white house budget and office and he made it clear the bush administration would not support granting regulatory authority over chemical authority to the epa. perry claimed the proposal was tantamount to overreach and they would need congress to specifically authorize it. kristin whitman and tom ridge rebuffed figured out the thing to do was go to congress and ask for the authority necessary. whitman writes in their book, it's my party, too, the battle for the gop of america, although tom and i agreed such legislation was necessary, strong congressional opposition led by some republicans on the senate environment and public works committee and house energy committee to giving epa even the modest statutory authority made it difficult to secure administration support for a meaningful bill.
basically, the bush administration from above pulled support for that bill because the chemical industry does not want to be regulated by the erkepa. fast forward to 2007, and perry, dick cheney's son-in-law is at the department of homeland security as council. what he managed to do in an appropriations rider is slip in industry friendly language into the bill that moves the task of regulating chemical plants from the environmental protection agency to the department of homeland security. dhs is given none of the tools it would need to do that. the washington monthly wrote a great piece on this in 2007, perry reworked the language to get it added to a spending bill in a confidence committee where the dhs would have nominal authority to regulate the chemical industry but also have its hands tied where required. let's recap. the bush administration's own
cabinet secretaries come up with plan to regulate these chemical plants. it is stymied by perry once. the bush administration sides with the administration when brought before the congress and in a back room maneuver, perry does the chemical agency's maneuvering by moving it to dsh the chemical industry thinks they can more easily manipulate. now, go ahead to six years. the west fertilizer company is storing more than 1300 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by dhs. it does appear now not only did dhs literally have no idea the west fertilizer company was storing ammonium nitrate, according to congresswoman betty thompson, democrat from mississippi, they did not know it existed until it blew up. here's what makes this incredible. in 2006, when a bill was introduced in this senate to make chemical plants safer, a bill blocked by republicans, the young senator who introduced
that bill was this man. >> that chemical plant security is another, where the chemical industry has been resistant to mandates when it comes to hardening their sights. there has been resistance from the chemical industry. it is again an ideological predisposition that says regulation is always bad. stay out of the marketplace. i am a strong believer in the free market. i am a strong believer in capitalism. i am also a strong believer there are certain common goods, our air, our water, making sure that people are safe, that require us to have some regulation. >> so given that the bush-backed legislation that moved oversight of big places storing fertilizer from epa to dhs, given that's the law of the land and given republicans in congress are not going to change it, the
administration has been considering just recently granting the epa the original authority christine todd whitman wanted way back in the first place. of course, the chemical industry lobby hates this. look at this. in february, 10 republicans and one democrat teamed up with a bunch of chemical industry groups to fight this proposal tooth and nail. here's a letter from the group to members of the congress reads in part we have concerned of the epa's arbitrary application of the general duty clause as well as the potential for future expansion of the general duty clause to regulate the security of chemical facilities. here's the best part. check out the signatories on the bottom. we highlighted two of them for you. the fertilizer institute and international institute of ammonia refrigeration. we'll be right back with the person who inherited the mess that was the bush epa, lisa jackson joins me next. can actually see like a human, using stereoscopic cameras.
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let's bring in lisa jackson, form formerly of the epa. who should being regulating these plans? epa or the department of homeland security? should we have a stake in that battle? >> first, let me express sympathy of the 14 families mourning dead today and the over 200 folks who have been injured. to answer your question, it absolutely matters. firstoff on the whole, this is about the role of government, something we've spent now years hearing conservatives, republicans in the house saying we need to get rid of the epa
because it's stymying and the role of government is to step in when things like this happen and the role of the epa is to monitor the toxic abuse. i started my career 22 years ago working on cleaning up toxic clean up as a chemical engineer. there's expertise there that isn't being used for neem of the country. >> that's what is so surprising about the aftermath of west texas when i heard about how much the department of homeland security is supposed to be looking after this. there's not an institutional memory inside the department of homeland security doing this type of thing. you would expect the epa an important breaks to haureaucrac the capacity to do. >> not only bureaucracy but they have environmental science and engineers the most of any agency
except for nasa. there's lots of talent there. i want to be really clear. christie whitman, when she was administrator worked with her counterpart in the cabinet, tom ridge. there was no problem working with the department of homeland security and secretary janet napolitano. we need to use the authority we have now because i'm afraid just like gun control, there's a lot of nodding and gnashing of teeth and no one will change anything. although this appears to have been a tragic industrial accident, what if it wasn't? what about the plants out there so susceptible to terrorism that would be very similar to this? >> that, i think, is a really important point, like in the aftermath of newtown, people say a background check wouldn't have prevented newtown necessarily but lots of other gun violence in america. and the same here, this is an opportunity for us to look at how do we oversee chemical plants.
i have learned following the story we don't maybe oversee them in the most optimal way because the chemical industry fought very hard to make it that way. >> they use two things against the people. this isn't about epa or department of homeland security. these are the american people who didn't realize because they didn't have access to information what they were living next to, where their children were going to school. there's two things the industry does. first, they piece around regulation so no one sees the full picture. that's clearly part of what happened here. epa had some information and homeland security had some, i'm sure the state had some amount. not enough resources. they also keep information from the public. you know, they say, while we can't give this information out because then terrorists will use it, and right after this accident, the industry started to make sure epa didn't release information on what kind of chemicals were at this plant and they hid it behind homeland
security. when people have information, they protect themselves. >> lisa jackson, former epa administrator, who did an incredible job, if you don't mind my saying, at the epa. great to have youh us tonight. that is "all in" for this evening. rachel maddow now. >> everybody within the sound of our voices, i want to say, if you missed what chris just said about the chemical plants and how that went haywire during the bush administration, stay up and wrap the rerun. >> thank you. >> thank you for staying with us the next hour. there is a lot going on in the news tonight, even if you're only talking about the news tonight from texas. there is a lot to get to. we're going to start tonight right here, in san diego, california, in the fancy rancho santa fe neighborhood in san diego, california, where in march, 1997, the local sheriff's offiot