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tv   Martin Bashir  MSNBC  May 6, 2013 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT

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anywhere in search of a buck, only by thinking globally can we truly solve global problems. now a true global citizen, martin bashir. >> toure, thank you. good afternoon. it's monday may the 66 th. the conflict in syria is escalating as the world watches with increasing fear and trepidation. >> top syrian officials are calling the attacks a declaration of war. >> a declaration of war. >> many syrian rebels welcome the attack and israeli air strike against their common enemy. its goal isn't to topple president assad, but to stop weapons transfers to hezbollah. >> the israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of defense weaponry. >> the president needs to make it clear what we will do. >> the red line that the president of the united states written was apparently written in disappearing ink. >> i think a decision by the president is imminent.
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>> the israelis have to be vigilant. they have to be concerned. we will continue to coordinate with israel. good afternoon. it is a busy monday and we're watching several unfolding stories this hour. in boston one of the three friends accused of lying to the boston bombing investigators out on $100,000 bond. prosecutors have agreed to release robel phillipos to his mother's custody but must wear an ankle monitor. the nra wrapped up its annual convention, full of sound and fury, signaling its intractable opposition to any gun safety reforms. but vice president joe biden is keeping up the pressure. right now hosting a white house meeting with faith leaders on the issue. more on that story coming up, too. but we begin with flashpoint syria.
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and what they are calling a declaration of war. two israeli air strikes on syria in three days are raising concerns that the brutal and deadly civil war could broaden into a wider regional conflict. with at least 42 soldiers killed in the strikes, syrian leaders are vowing to respond to all options on the table. israel's iron dome weapon system is deployed and at the ready, and while israel hasn't confirmed the air strikes, the president says that our ally has a right to defend itself. >> i'll let the israeli government confirm or deny the strik strikes they've taken. what i have said in the past, and i continue to believe this, the israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of the advanced ed weaponry to terrorist organizations like hezbollah. >> all this comes as a u.n. investigator suggests syrian
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rebels may have used chemical weapons. yes, syrian rebels. a report the white house treated with skepticism. >> we have said, and i have said many times, we are highly skeptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons. we find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in syria was done by the assad regime. >> that said, the white house didn't move from its wait-and-see approach on those weapons, and the president's stated red line. some are growing impatient. just moments ago, senator robert menendez introduced a bill to provide weapons to some rebel groups. nbc's pete alexander joins us now from the white house. peter, the white house expre expressing a degree of confidence there that it was the syrian regime that used chemical weapons. i know you pressed jay carney today about this.
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how much more information do you think is needed to determine when the red line is crossed for this administration? what did jay carney say to you? >> reporter: yeah, the white house says it needs to be able to speak with certitude that that is its responsibility. what the american people would demand of this administration, especially given the past experience in iraq where faulty intelligence obviously played a large role in the u.s.' invasion of that country. the question that i posed to him is whether or not the u.s. would ever be able to meet this mark. would ever be able to accomplish this standard of evidence, especially given the fact that intelligence officials acknowledge even now that they're monitoring rebel websites for information. the whole issue of the use of chemical weapons is largely, martin, shrouded in ambiguity. what gas was used, whether that was one banned by international treaty, or something less virulent. whether it was ordered by assad or chemicals were ones used by a
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syrian unit operating under its own authorities. the white house acknowledges those challenges and its effort is to determine with some certainty before there's further action. >> peter, we got word in the last hour that senator bob menendez, of course, chairman of the foreign relations committee, put forth legislation to arm the rebels. what can you tell us about that? and this is an indication of frustration on the part of the house with regard to the administration, itself? >> reporter: well, we just reached out to the senator's office a matter of moments ago. he said, "the assad regime crossed a red line that forces us to consider all options. "you note he says he already crossed that redline. the white house would say it's unclear whether that red line has been crossed at this point. senator menendez is one, and a series of other members of congress, who even before there was discussion of whether, in fact, there was evidence chemical weapons have been used,
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who said the u.s. should be arming with lethal and nonlethal weapons vetted groups of syrian rehabilitate rebels. he's basically reasserting that with this bill. we reached out to the white house for some response but they stick by that they need more information. as the president weighs any response, he must consider the absolute powder keg that exists in the region. syria's patron, iran, has warned israel its air strikes are playing with fire. hinting that possible retribution. israel, meanwhile, indicates they have to prevent iran from sending sophisticated weapons to lebanon's hezbollah militia. ahead of a possible collapse of assad's regime. zoom in tighter, and you find concerns about al qaeda infiltration of syrian rebel groups. with every day of the conflict only adding to the desperation and vulnerability of the people living there.
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and, of course, the body count continues to rise. more than 70,000 and counting. for more, i want to bring in michael o'halon of the brookings institution. and here in new york, ayman, nbc correspondent. mike, in a column published a couple days ago, you wrote the following. "president assad has already killed tens of thousands of his own people with the most prbrut and indiscriminate attacks. the fact he might have harmed a few dozen more with sarin gas, while horrible, does not radically change the complexion of the conflict." i thought it was the president of the united states who said the use of chemical weapons would absolutely change the complexion of this conflict. >> hi, martin. well, in that piece, i argued for now trying to think of a way we should do more. so i actually acknowledge at a legal level, a political level,
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this does change things substantially. i was simply trying to underscore that at a military level, and in terms of human suffering, this is not a major development compared to what's already been going on. but you're right to point out, clearly, that the president had established this red line. he's come under some criticism for that recently. i'm not so sure he made a mistake. i think, you know, he's reminding people the use of chemical weapons violates the chemical weapons convention, geneva conventions. it makes it harder for russia to have any excuse standing by assad. so in that sense it creates new legal and political pressure. i'm not sure it changes the military situation that much. >> okay. so, mike, the white house now says it's highly likely that assad is behind the use of chemical weapons. but isn't the real challenge here, and i put this to both you and ayman, but mike first. isn't the real challenge, not the continuing murderous actions of assad, but having a coherent exit strategy for when assad is
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deposed? >> well, that's what i was really trying to get at in the column, martin. i try to argue that to a first approximation, a bosnia kind of model is what i think we need. it doesn't sound appealing, i acknowledge. ultimately we need a deal across the sectarian lines in syria, implemented by international peacekeepers including a modest fraction of americans in which the allowites would have a fraction of the country where they would be the majority and largely protect themselves. otherwise they're never going to give up the fight i don't believe. they're going to be viewing it as a fight to the death even if assad somehow goes into exile. if you want to get to a point where you can have any kind of negotiation, turn up the military pressure, but also provide this kind of a viable diplomatic end game for all the parties. that's what i was trying to get at with this idea of a bosnia model for syria. >> right. we talk about this red line, but isn't the exit as critical at this precise moment? >> i think it's safe to say that
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the post-assad syria is what everyone is most concerned about. and that is what has led to the paralysis now. as michael was just saying. >> i don't hear that being rehearsed by republican politicians demanding action from the administration. they don't seem to be talking about post-assad. they're talking about doing something now because the red line has been crossed. >> well, that's certainly the republican calculation. i think it's also the question is you can't start thinking about the day after without thinking about today. and i think they're arguing about today, the rebels are arguing about today. the opposition wants to focus about today. it's pointless. you keep kicking it down the road. if you would have taken this back two years ago, you would have started this conversation back then by saying, well, are we even going to have a post-assad syria? and opposition would have certainly said, yes. but here we are two years on, precisely because of the reason everyone is focusing about down the road and not today. >> right. michael, the secretary of state, as you know, is is traveling to russia. how critical is it that he secure some kind of support from the russians prior to the
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administration taking any substantive action against, in syria? >> well, i think he does need russia's greater willingness to go along, but i think we need to start not with russia, but with arab countries and nato countries who might be part of this overall policy i'm proposing. until russia is persuaded we're willing to turn up the heat enough to make sure assad loses, i think russia is going to stand by their man. assad is still their man. however heinous that may seem to us as a policy. and, you know, a lot of good military analysts don't necessarily think that the insurgents are going to win. we've talked about the inevitability of this, just because the arab spring deposed previous dictators. i see a war that's been stalemated for two years and i am not at all persuaded that russia is wrong when they think assad may hold on. kerry has to begin by finding a way to turn up the military pressure and also propose this end game. some kind of deal the allowites, minority group who are now in power, can live with. otherwise you're going to have a
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fight for many years even if we do start arming the rebels. >> right. final question to you, aim ayman. given the ease with which the israel israelis were able to target o' over the two attacks, missiles, munitions and so on. does that not completely delude the argument of any power where the administration may say, we may have problems with air dw s defenses in syria and can't actually expodite air strikes? is it the case that argument is moot? >> given the fact not only has this happened once but three times israeli jets were able to penetrate syrian airspace and not so much, not even firing at the jets but syrian air defense capabilities. the syrian air force didn't put up anything to try to intercept these jets. so i think it's difficult to say without knowing specifically what the syrian political calculation was. that means did the syrian government see the jets coming and decide not to do anything about it? that could have been a possibility for their own political calculations, but i think it's safe to say that the
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argument that syria has this robust air defense system, and has the ability to shoot down planes and it would be so difficult to impose a no-fly zone, i think it's moot for a very simple reason. you're using american planes, most likely american intelligence. on top of that, america's air forces and european air force is much more superior to what the israelis are using collectively. >> aim ayman and mike. thank you so much for joining us. and this moment we are following breaking news. the scene outside the federal courthouse, boston, where robel phillipos, one of three suspects charged last week with impeding the tsarnaev investigation, has just left the building. mobbed by a scrum of reporters. he was released today to the custody of his mother with ankle bracelet monitoring on $100,000 bond. and we'll be right back. ting?
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more and more expansive and, unfortunately, the red line that the president of the united states written was apparently written in disappearing ink. >> al qaeda elements have a lot of control within the rebel movement. my concern is that by arming the rebels we could be strengthening al qaeda. >> u.s. leadership through intention and training and other things and coordination of their activities, which they're asking for, could be hugely helpful to bringing the regime down quicker. >> we have to make sure we all have all the facts and inve information. we can't be the sheriff for the whole world. we have our own issues right now. >> that makes it easy. joining us right now, msnbc political analyst, karen finney,
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and p.j. crowley, former assi assistant secretary of state for public affairs. karen, you heard there the range of arguments. senator bob menendez put forward a bill this afternoon. he's the democratic chairman of the foreign relations committee. as you know. are we seeing right at this moment the beginning of what next steps could look like? >> i believe we are, but, again, i think as the clips you were just playing indicate, there are still a lot of questions, and i think you have to give the president some credit for saying, let's take a breath here and make sure when we talk about vetting those rebel groups, how are we going to do that? how are we going to ensure we are going to be able to, you know, arm or whatever it is that we do the more moderate factions in the rebel groups, and not al qaeda? i mean, those are very serious questions. and the other -- >> but karen, but karen, ten years ago george bush heard the british had some intelligence on the purchasing of uranium and
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george bush said, let's go into iraq. i mean, what's the problem? >> right. we went into iraq and because we went into iraq and we completely screwed up in iraq and we completely let osama bin laden on the run and turned our eye away from afghanistan, we now have 66,000 troops, 8 of whom just lost their lives last week, because of that mistake. those guys might not still be there if we hadn't made that mistake in afghanistan. and now the fighting season is heating up. so we're going to see more american casualties. i think that underscores the importance of understanding why we need to get this as right as possible. >> absolutely. p.j., the arab nationalist daily paper said this today. "we are at the gates of a destructive regional war. and if it erupts, israel and the countries supporting it will shoulder full responsibility." i have to ask you, has the president in supporting israel's right to strike at syria, signaled the opening round of a regional war? >> well, martin, there are
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multiple wars that are manifesting themselves in syria. you know, there is the contest between the assad regime and the opposition. there is the presence of al qaeda, and there are also multiple wars involving israel with hezbollah, iran. there's the regional rivalry between iran and saudi arabia. so anything that we do has some potential benefits but can easily escalate any or all of those conflicts. >> karen, the war in iraq, as you know, is casting a long shadow over all of this. in "the new york times" op-ped, syria is not iraq. bill keller writes this "i admire president obama's cool calculation in foreign policy. it is certainly an improvement over the activist hubris of his predecessor, but in syria i fear prudence has become fatalism and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarge tragedy."
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could our extreme caution, do you think, is that what's happening here? >> i don't think we're ever going to have an exact answer to that. i think, with regard to caution, it may be the case that certain options that have been previously on the table are now not on the table. certainly it is the case, i would think, p.j. would agree, because you have other proxy wars going on, we can't let iran and hezbollah be seen to have some kind of a victory. we know assad is going to have to go. but, again, i think the long shadow of iraq is also, i mean, think about it, we just had the ten-year anniversary. the thing that stuck out in my wind was paul wolfowitz saying we weren't prepared for an insurgency, we didn't really know, right? so we have to make sure we don't just think about the days leading up to and whatever action we take, but what happens the next day and the next day and the next day? and what are the implications of that? are we going to, you know, does it become a broader regional conflict? do we then end up in a situation where we get sucked in much more
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deeply than we initially anticipated? >> you're agreeing with karen? >> i am agreeing with karen. we get preoccupied with tactics here. no-fly zone. arming the rebels. of course, everyone excluded boots on the ground. ultimately it's for what purpose? if we are militarily entering this conflict to militarily depose bashar al assad, a worthy objective, but then we become a combatant, and as colin powell said in the context of iraq, we take op ownership of syria on the ground. i think the president is right to be cautious. i think he's going to have to make some adjustments -- >> 70,000 people dead already in that nation. the potential of chemical weapons being used by this president against his own people. >> absolutely. >> and the conflict that's been ongoing for two years. >> i think as a political matter more than a strategic matter, the president is going to have to do something differently. his credibility is being challenged here. that probably point s toward soe kind of broader arming of the
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opposition. even there, think back 25 years. we gave stingers to the mujahadin in afghanistan then held our breath for 20 years wondering where they've all went to. >> then we discovered. karen finney, p.j. crowley, thank you both. coming up, the nra and its biggest mouths share their nazi obsession with the world. yes. stay with us. >> i've come up with a new advertisement for new york. we all know "i heart new york." i'd like to show you my new advertisement nr it, new slogan. there it is. "you will love new york." time for "your business" entrepreneur of the week. alex garza runs four pizza franchises. garza says latino customers are attracted by the friendly
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from the war of northern aggression, to a texas-sized nra convention. here are today's top lines. let them be damned. >> the political and media elites who scorn us, let them be damned. >> the nra elected a new president, choosing alabama lawyer jim porter who still calls the civil war the war of northern aggression. >> we call it the war of northern aggression. >> he's known around the nra as reasonable jim. >> the freedom of all mankind is at stake. our souls are at stake. >> all the lawrence o'donnells and rachel maddows pound the message over and over. >> there's been a shooting at houston intercontinental airport. >> were they purchased or were they illegal? oh, if they're illegal, i can guarantee you this is a setup. >> we will never back away from our resolve to defend our rights and rights of all law-abiding american gun owners. >> i am surprised the first gay
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athlete was in basketball. >> jason collins is the first american athlete in a major sport to come out. >> i would have thought it would have been hockey, you know, because it's so close to figure skating. >> i always thought it would be the guy in football who hikes the ball. i mean, he's already in that position. >> with the new gun background check plan, it would allow people to perform self-background checks. the way the plan works is, it doesn't. >> uh-oh. mr. mayor. look what we have. >> wants to ban public displays of legal tobacco products. >> he wants to control what you drink, what you eat, how much you eat. >> don't make me do it. >> it's very, very funny. as you can see, i'm really laughing right now. >> what's up with that? ♪ what's up with that ♪ what's up with that >> glenn beck thinks playing the nazi card is going too forward. >> i've come up with a new advertisement for new york. you will love new york. >> the guy who uses more
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swastika props than the history channel. >> let them be damned. >> let's get to our panel. angela rye, political strategist, principal of impact strategies. bob shrum, democratic strategist and professor the atat nyu. welcome to you, both. let me show you a picture taken by a "bloomberg news" reporter. an attendee at the nra conventions, his shirt reads "shove gun control up your --" then shows a symbol of your party. there were no democratic speakers this year at the convention. can you explain how we got here? >> look, the nra over time, and really this goes back for decades, they opposed reasonable gun control. but they might as well rename themselves the national republican aux sillry. right now they and the tea party have a veto over the gop. i think there's going to be an electoral price to be paid for this. we're seeing it in the polls. we're seeing it in the effort i think michael bloomberg is going to make. he's going to go out there and
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do something in 2014 and 2016 that has not been done by anybody else to nearly the same degree and i suspect with nearly the same affect. he's going to go after the people who kowtow for the nra, refuse to vote for the simple background check in the senate, i think he's going to get some of them. >> okay. angela, i'd like to play, again, a clip we heard earlier, glenn beck comparing new york city mayor, mr. bloomberg, to hitler. take a listen. >> i've come up for a new advertisement for new york. we all know "i heart new york." i'd like to show you my new advertisement for it, new slogan. there it is. "you will love new york." >> angela, why is so much of their language about the need to fear the government, to be in trepidation and anxiety of government? >> well, martin, what's even more frightening about this politics of fear that they continue to utilize is the very
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fact that hatred is the foundation for it. to compare mayor bloomberg to hitler, when there's an overwhelming population of jewish people in new york city and, of course, throughout the country, it's so offensive and it brings back unnecessary memories of a genocide that happened under hitler's watch. to restrict gun violence, to ensure people are safe in their homes and their communities, actually flies in the face of everything hitler stood for. this is a mayor who's fighting to ensure communities throughout the country, whether rural or urban, and his organization that he's created, are working diligently to ensure that we're all protected. it's the exact opposite of that and it's very nasty. >> okay. professor shrum, something else to fear is the zombie apocaly e apocalypse. at the convention, you could purchase a bleeding zombie for target practice, just not this one. its name is rocky. and "buzz feed" reports the nra told the makers to stop selling it because of its, in their
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words, uncanny similarity to the president. what would possess someone to make a product like that, professor shrum? >> angela's right. it's hatred. there's a huge amount of the kind of fear mongering and hatred of barack obama that's out there. we see it in a lot of different ways. we've seen him, for example, put with a nazi, with a swastika, put on things held up at tea party rallies. look, the nra can remove that grotesque thing. you know what they can't do? they can't bring back the 3,900 americans covered in blood killed by gun violence since the newtown massacre. they're profiting off them and the gun manufacturers who support them are profiting financially. i think it's a disgrace. it's unbelievable the most powerful country in the world can't exert even minimum power to do what angela was talking about which is keep our city
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safe. >> it's extraordinary. >> keep our streets safe. >> you know, professor shrum and angela, let me play, everyone, video to professor shrum's point of a shootout in ohio. officers pulled over a man for a routine traffic violation. he gets out of his car with an ak-47 and immediately begins firing. the man was shot and killed, but not before wounding two police officers. it's shocking video, and it's hardly surprising, professor shrum, that police officers throughout the country want to see some kind of gun safety legislation. that's what they face every day. >> right. and so do 90% of americans. because they want to be safe in their own homes. they want to be safe on their own streets. and for lord's sake, they want to see their kids safe in schools. but all of this talk that we hear from the nra fuels the paranoid fantasies of people like the guy in that truck. we don't know much about him. of people like timothy mcveigh. there's a really disturbing poll
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from fairleigh dickinson last week that say 44% of republicans in this country believe we'll need an armed revolution sometime in the next several years to protect our liberties. that has come about, i think, those attitudes come about partly because of resentment to the president. partly resentment that he's there at all. but mostly because the paranoid fantasies have been fed by the nra, by the tea party, and by groups on the far right who have no respect for truth and no respect for common decency. >> angela, final word to you. having seen that individual with an ak-47 jump out of a car and start firing indiscriminately. >> martin, i mean, what we don't know is why he did it. what we do know is he was able to do it in part because we have not been able to pass restrictive measures to ensure that people can be safe in their own communities. all because republicans don't want to give the president a win. is this really worth it? >> tragic. i should say that that was a
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semiautomatic ak-47. angela rye, professor bob shrum. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> thank you, martin. coming up, the gop and fox news with benghazi on the brain. stay with us. >> it's not the gun. it is the individual. a gun has power for good or evil. depending on whose hands that gun is in. it is merely a reflection of what is in those hands. lindsey! i just discovered these new triscuit are baked with brown rice and sweet potato! triscuit has a new snack? no way. way. and the worst part is they're delicious. mmm, you're right. maybe we should give other new things a chance. no way. way. [ male announcer ] we've taken 100% whole grain brown rice and wheat, delicious sweet potato, and savory red bean... and woven them into something unexpected. the new brown rice triscuit line; with sweet potato and red bean varieties.
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massachusetts, appeared this afternoon before a federal judge who ruled that phillipos must remain under home confinement with his mother and wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his movements. we're joined now by michael isikoff live with us from washington. mike, last week prosecutors said this young man was a flight risk. now they're letting him go on $100,000 bail. what happened? >> exactly. and it's also worth noting, martin, actually he was facing the most serious of the charges of those three men. the lying to federal investigators in a terrorism investigation carried a maximum of eight years in federal prison. the other two who are charged with obstruction of justice were only facing five years. so when we first saw the charges, it looked like this was the one that they were most concerned about because he had been -- he had lied, according to the fbi, in the initial interviews, took four interviews before they felt they finally got the right story from him.
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but i think at the end of the day they "a" had no evidence that he or the other two had any prior knowledge of the bombing, itself. he clearly had some able defense counsel, able to present the 17 affidavits to the judge about his good character. they made the case he was confused and terrified when confronted by the fbi. did not have the advice of counsel. >> right. >> and finally told the story that the fbi was satisfied with. so you put it all together and, you know, however inexplicable, bizarre and indefensible the behavior of he and the other two students may seem, given that there is no evidence that they were actively accomplices to tsarnaev or had any knowledge of the plot, we have to look at this in a little different light. >> okay. so mike, what about the other
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two young men who were arrested due to their friendship? the two kazakhstan nationals accused of throwing out actual evidence in the case? what's next for them in this process? >> they're going to have a probable cause hearing coming up in another two weeks, and i think that's going to be interesting. that's normally what we would see. unless they work out a deal similar to this. >> they, of course, remain in custody. >> and they remain in custody and they're foreign nationals. so i think it's going to be a little harder for their lawyers to get, to work out the same sort of deal as phillipos got. but, you know, they'll have -- there will be an fbi agent who will take the stand, will lay out the evidence we heard in the complaint and perhaps more. as you know, that complaint only gives a portion of what the fbi has learned. but, again, still no evidence that they had any prior knowledge of the plot. the laptop computer, as we
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pointed out last week on a number of occasions, did get turned over. that was seriously -- that was clearly the most serious piece of evidence in that room. so while their behavior is hard to defend, given the timeline of what they could have done by alerting police -- >> yes. >> -- it still doesn't add up to making them accomplices or co-conspirators in the boston marathon bombing. >> finally, mike, and briefly, if you can, what of tamerlan tsarnaev's widow, katherine russell? the house was searched over the weekend. there have been stories there was something on her computer. any developments in relation to her? >> what i'm told from a senior law enforcement official is the fbi is neutral on whether she had prior knowledge or information about what her husband was up to. they have not resolved that question.
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they have a lot of questions to ask her, and they're not satisfied. they've gotten the full story to date. it's not clear just how much she's cooperating at this point. so i think that that's very much an open question and she's the next one to be, for us all to be watching in this case. >> we will continue to rely on you for reporting. michael isikoff, as ever, thank you, mike. >> thank you. next, benghazi, yes. meals on wheels. head start programs. cancer screenings. no, we don't care about those. just benghazi. that's ahead. first, jackie deangelis. >> stocks trading at a narrow range today. the dow losing five points. s&p gaining three. the nasdaq losing 14. that's it from krncnbc. first in business worldwide. [ male announcer ] susan writes children's books.
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republicans on capitol hill have set the stage once again this week for yet another round of hearings on benghazi. on wednesday, the house oversight committee led by chairman darrell issa will hear testimony from three witnesses that republicans have described as whistleblowers. they say these witnesses have been silenced in a white house cover-up that left four americans dead. we're joined now by democratic strategist julian epstein and by jonathan capehart of the "washington post." good afternoon. julian, there was a time when the benghazi story had more to do with the president but now i get the feeling the target may have changed a little. just take a listen to republican congressman jason chaffetz. >> secretary clinton. secretary clinton. >> she's made it sound, congressman, like she really had very little to do with it. it sounds like she was doing her best to get around that, right? >> what boggles my mind, 4 1/2 months after the fact secretary
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clinton had the gall to come here and perpetuate things we know as common knowledge are simply not true. >> julian, you used to be the director of the oversight committee. how political is this hearing? because first they said this was the president's greatest failing, but now they seem to have their eyes on 2016 and the potential candidacy of one hillary clinton. >> well, it's very, very transparent, and unfortunately, this committee did not used to be as political a committee as it is today. it's very clear the republicans believe hillary clinton is is unstoppable. they're seeking to scandalize her. if past is prologue, this committee has been ineffective when it came to the fast and furious investigation, solyndra investigation. they didn't have the goods. they don't have the goods in this case. i don't think they'll be effective. very quickly. there are three issues. the question is to, the most important thing is to remember the operation in benghazi was a cia operation and the security decisions were driven by the cia wanting to keep the operations under cover. second, the questions to the special forces and whether to
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engage them, pickering and others have shown this were made by special forces, not by political officials. third, the question about the talking points after the attack. the question as to whether or not this was a street demonstration or terrorist attack. look, general petraeus at the time according to many, "the new york times," much of the reporting all pointed to a street demonstration. it wasn't until later that they showed that it was, in fact, likely a terrorist attack. although we still don't have the facts on that. even if that is true, it doesn't pro prove anything. >> i'm still trying to -- >> we still -- we all know al qaeda exists even though it's been decimated. even if it turns out it was a terrorist attack and the initial intelligence was wrong, what is the import of that at the end of the day? >> fox news produced a story about mrs. clinton. it raises the claim she tried to prevent the state department's own team from responding to the benghazi attacks. but the state department's former head of counterterrorism
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has denied this claim. so where does all this go from here? >> well, it's going to be a he said/she said, it seems. look, fox news and the republicans and chairman issa have an agenda. one is to embarrass the president. and two, clearly, it seems it's to embarrass former secretary of state hillary clinton. and julian laid out the case better than anybody could about why this isn't really going to go anywhere. and why this is clearly yet another opportunity for darrell issa to try to, i should say, embarrass the president, embarrass secretary clinton. >> julian, can you tell me what the white house is actually supposed to have covered up in this alleged conspiracy? what is it? >> well, that is the extraordinary thing. again, if anybody should be on the hot seat right here, martin, it is general petraeus. because as i said, this was a cia operation. first and foremost, it was a cia
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operation and the decisions made about security were driven by in large by the cia. according to everything that we understand. the theory here is that the white house was somehow trying to say that this was a street demonstration, not a terrorist attack. because it had a narrative that it had largely defeated al qaeda. well, the white house never said that. the white house has always said that we have not defeated al qaeda, we have decapitated al qaeda, made a lot of progress. it seems to me, at the end of the day, if you were to show the thesis the initial intelligence was wrong, it doesn't prove anything. this is extraordinary from a republican party whose president led us into a war based on faulty intelligence and missed the most important intelligence facts in our history, namely the 9/11 attacks. >> julian, forgive me, but please don't mention history. jewulian epstein and jonathan capehart, thank you so much.
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exactly ten years and here is president george w. bush delivering his state of the union address in january of 2003. >> the british government learned saddam hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from africa. >> those 16 words became the cornerstone for president bush's decision to invade iraq in march of that year. and it's interesting that he chose to rely upon british intelligence to justify his decision. and so today we have a similar set of circumstances. this time in syria. and once again, the british are talking about chemical weapons. the uk's foreign secretary, william hague, speaking in the house of commons last month, said of syria, "they should take heed that the world is watching and those who order the use of chemical weapons or participate in their use must be held to account." the british are moving ever closer to the conviction that president assad of syria has
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been using these weapons of mass destruction. and the current president of this country is not naive, but neither does he approach this as an -- threat. >> we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. we don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened. and when i am making decisions about america's national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapons use, i have to make sure i have the facts. >> whatever is proven to have happened in syria, it is surely an enormous relief to this nation that it's led by a president who doesn't believe the first thing he's been told by the british, but needs real evidence before he takes action. and that, by the way, that's not
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leading from behind. that's leading full stop. thanks so much for watching this afternoon on this monday. chris matthews and "hardball" is next. a gun in every hand. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. the nra wants you armed. they want you carrying a gun. preferably in way that everyone can see. you know, like in the cowboy movies but better than cowboys, they don't want you walking into some saloon trusting some damn side arm. they want you armed for god's sake. no man should be without a semiautomatic handgun or rifle, without an assault reppen in your hands, you're not really an american. a true american is ready at all times to fight this country's elected government if it gets out of line. this is the nra's america. guns for everybody. gun shows for

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