tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC May 23, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PDT
worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism efforts. i recognize in our democracy, no one should just take my word for it that we're doing things the right way. >> while the president will argue that the use of drone strikes overseas continues to be necessary, legal and just. a new classified policy guidance signed by the president will according to "the new york times" sharply curtail the instances when unmanned aircraft can be used to attack in places that are not over war zones. countries like pakistan, yemen and somalia. the speech comes in response to calls for greater transparency over the targeted killing program and a mid rising international condemnation of u.s. covert actions as well as outrage over the deteriorating situation at guantanamo bay. where 103 of the 166 detainees remain on a hunger strike that has lasted over two months.
>> to advance his goal of closing the prison. "the wall street journal" reports that the process will begin with the transfer of some 30 nonyemeni detainees who have been cleared for release for several years, that would mark a significant step for an administration that has seen transferred slow to a standstill since president obama first took office. as part of the administration's bid at transparency, yesterday in a letter to congressional leaders, attorney general eric holder acknowledged for the first time, that the u.s. had killed four american citizens overseas. holder further admitted that only one had been targeted. killing in the 2011, killed in the 2011 drone strike were three other people, sammor khan, who grew up in queens, new york before leaving for yemen to become the creative force behind al qaeda's "inspire" magazine.
and another person was accidentally killed by a drone strike while eating with several friends at a cafe. perhaps holder's significant admission was the killing of the fourth american, jude muhammed, a 23-year-old who attended high school and college in north carolina and later went missing in pakistan in november of 2011. mohammed was apparently killed by a u.s. drone strike 18 months ago. despite the fact that as of yesterday, according to "the new york times," his name remained on the fbi's most wanted list. an fbi spokesman, kathleen wright said on wednesday, that it would be removed. joining me today, senior fellow at the center on budget and policy priorities and msnbc contributor, jared bernstein and heather mcgee head of deem 0s. and executive editor of msnbc.com and msnbc political analyst, richard wolffe and joining us from washington, is mark mazetti author of "the way
of the knife." >> an experiment that's lasted more than a decade, do you think we've learned anything from that experiment? >> we've learned how to use armed drones in hundreds of occasions. i said that a little flippantly. the the experiment has been in manhunting and killing that really from around 2008 on has been a pretty entense campaign. primarily in pakistan, but also in yemen and elsewhere. what the president is apparently going to lay out today. is some sort of framework that he hopes will last through the end of his term. and also, beyond his presidency. the question is this -- what you raise, is one of transparency. by moving drone strikes to this pentagon from the c.i.a., will that really mean far greater
transparency that what we see today? >> what does transparency mean when the qualifications for drone strikes include continuing imminent threat to americans? that seems so fungible what does that practically mean? if president obama is trying to lay a framework for his successors, that seems widely open to interpretation, doesn't it? >> many things could be open to interpretation. but one of the things that i think that they're trying to put tighter restrictions on is the criteria for who can be killed and when. as is widely known, the practice for some number of years in pakistan has been to carry out so-called signature strikes, these are strikes that are based on patterns of activity. that where the c.i.a. doesn't actually know the identities of the people on the ground who they're targeting. but they have based on intelligence, and through surveillance, some reason to believe that these people are engaged in militant activity. these are very controversial. they have led to civilian casualties and this is one of the, one of the aspects of the
targeted killing campaign that the obama administration is trying to, to rein in a bit with these new rules. >> mark, i want to open this up to our panel in new york for a second. richard. i think we must acknowledge that it is a big step forward, that the president is giving this speech. that holder has admitted that the united states killed four american citizens. i mean i think there are a lot of administrations that wouldn't even take that step, right? but then you read about the circumstances under which these americans were killed. you read from other people, accounts about how civilians in pakistan have been killed. i want to read an excerpt from what i thought was a devastating op-ed in "the new york times" today. a few days after obama's inaugural address, a c.i.a.'s operated drone dropped hell-fire missiles on kareshi's home in northeast waziristan. he was 13 years old. left with only one eye and shrapnel in his stomach. there was no militant present. a recent book revealed that mr.
obama was informed about the erroneous target, but did not offer any form of redress. because in 2009, the u.s. did not acknowledge the existence of its own drone program in pakistan. >> i think you're being generous in saying that the president acknowledging what we already know to be true, is a big step. to be honest. and i think the president is, is giving himself, is trying to make himself look great by imposing what in fact are minimal controls in transparency on this program. we all need to understand, if this is going to be an honest speech, we need to understand that we still as a country believe we're at war and that at times of war, innocent people, including women and children will die. and that in this war, because we're not willing to put giant groups of troops on the ground, we can do it from the air, that increases the numbers of wrong targets which means women and children who will die and some
american citizens. and that we as a country, think that is okay, by the way the other part of the speech is we've got not a great plan for closing guantanamo bay, if we're not going to lock up people or put them through the trial system, the criminal justice system, then what we're going to have to do is kill people on the battlefield. right? those are the policy choices that we as a country have made that's the kind of die long we need to have because actually there's probably majority support. we need to be honest about that. and say this is what we're doing and this is somehow we're conducting ourselves. but war does lead to innocent people dying and we believe we're at war. >> heather that's -- the question about the conversation i think is a fair one. i don't think this has been discussed and i don't think we know what the american public is ready to accept. i would tend to degree with richard that i think there's some acceptance of collateral damage. but again, the idea that the drone program is precise and that ultimately it prevents us from putting boots on the ground, that's the argument for the drone program but then you
look at the number of civilian casualties and you know, lives are being lost. and where are we as a country in terms of acceptance of that? >> i think if you look at the public opinion polling, you will see that the american people have been very supportive of drones in general because they are fatigued by the idea of their brothers and sisters and neighbors being sent overseas. i do think, however, it's fair to say that at the end of the bush administration, we had a much more robust national conversation, that included the courts and groups like aclu, that included members of congress, that included people reading the newspapers and seeing the discussions about what are the parameters of war. if we have the forever war, where we are always on a war, at a war on a tan tick, which is terrorism, then when does it stop? if the battlefield can be in fact a cafe, are we okay with that? i'm afraid we haven't as a country reengaged in that
conversation. so many years after nic9/11 we d to do that. >> i think a not a large step, a small step. and a step in the right direction. even that is important. my view is that the american people don't want to hear about any of this. we just don't want to know. so the fact that the president is getting in our face a little bit and saying, look, this is what we're doing and there are aspects of this that are wrong. i agree with what richard implies, there's a lot more wrong than what we're going to hear about this today and i agree with mark's view -- what does sharply curtail mean. >> we have a chart of drone strikes in pakistan have declined since an all-time high in 2010. 2009, 254 strikes, by 2013, we're only halfway through the year, but 12 strikes, 48 strikes in 2012. how much of that is due to the fact that the administration has realized that these drone strikes in some ways maybe they are one step forward in terms of annihilating a target.
but two steps back in terms of the ultimate u.s. goals in the region in terms of fostering good will and/or radicalizing folks. >> i think there's some of that. as you said in 2009 and 2010, you see a tremendous spike in drone strikes in pakistan. and at some point do you have fewer targets and so there's going to be fewer drone strikes. but at the same time, you have seen in pakistan this tremendous backlash to the drone program. and in 2011, especially, great sort of divisions within the american government about the potential costs of the drone strikes. now even though we've seen the decline in drone strikes in pakistan, you've also seen last year, there was a big spike in operations in yemen. so some of the american operations have just short of shifted from pakistan to yemen. the obama administration really came into office and after a year in office, escalated the war in yemen and it's still
going on. >> ben, there's also the question, i mean i think when we talk about sort of, how much we are at the beginning of this conversationing or maybe in the middle as far as u.s. counterterrorism policy post 9/11, one of the reasons i think this conversation hasn't happened is because of the sort of political realities, which is to say republicans have had a very hard time figuring out their position on this, right? i mean they don't, when forced to articulate a counterterrorism strategy that's measurably different from the president's, they've been between a rock and a hard place. the president has had a fairly aggressive counterterrorism policy in line with republican hawkish goals and at the same time there are civil liberties infringements which have stoked the ire of a lot on the far right like rand paul, we know that senator john mccain is pleased the drone strike program is being turned over to the pentagon and being taken outs of the hands of the c.i.a. and yet yesterday he tweeted his indignation over the fact that we have killed four americans in
drone strikes, not just one. >> the republican leadership lives in fear of the tea party and the fact is over the course of the past now years, they haven't had a coherent foreign policy of the result of the rise of people like rand paul on the right. surprising no one, i don't think we've been giving the president enough credit in this discussion. this is a process to insure that our national security policy is consistent with our laws and our constitutional values that he took on from the moment he got into office that started with a review of our interrogation policy, a review of our detention policy. the hard work on guantanamo that the bush administration never did. which was to figure out who at guantanamo is a threat to the united states. who do we have the evidence to prosecute. and now those people have been determined. we know who is safe to transfer. we've reformed the military commissions process, so that it's consistent with the constitution and now we can try war criminals as well. >> ben, i appreciate your robust defense. but i would say on gitmo in specific, the president has
basically let the transfer process languish. >> the person who was supposed to be in charge of the transfer process, there's not someone in that office. perhaps today he will annoyance that he's fast-tracking that. but the thing that's brought gitmo back into the news is that 103 people are trying to kill themselves by starving themselves to death. >> many of our european allies stepped forward at the beginning of the administration and made clear that they would allow transfers to their countries. one of the yemens who have been cleared. the pace of the transfer is going it take place at it was a slower pace than twab possible to do in europe. but republicans stood in the way of progress on this issue. the administration identified multiple prisons in the united states, places like thompson, illinois and standish, michigan, who were willing to build sup
supermax prisons. >> democrats stood in the way of those transfer, too. it was a complete collapse of political willpower to transfer people over here into secure institutions. you can determine how much you like. but the criminal cases have failed. the military commissions have been stymied by their own internal conflict and there's nowhere safe to transfer these people and none of this is happening in a vacuum. just yesterday there was the brutal murder of an active duty serviceman on the streets of london. who in europe is going to take these people? never mind in yemen. >> mark, i want to bring you into this conversation because i think the massacre, the killing of a british soldier on the streets in broad daylight in the afternoon underscores who we are fighting or the lack of clarity thereof in terms of who we are fighting. we look at what happened in boston. we look at ha happened in london. these are increasingly localized self-radicalized folks who are not part of a broader terrorist network. whose affiliation with al qaeda
may be tangential at best. it seems almost impossible to do it in this day and age. but it's incredibly difficult. for those reasons among many others, i think the president finds himself in what "the new york times" termed, a legal pretzel. the sort of folding in on yourself that you must do to be comprehensive in this situation. is difficult. to say the least. >> i think you're going to hear president obama talk this afternoon about how this, the threat has changed and al qaeda as it existed on 9/112001 is no longer there. but there are still other threats. now you know, the boston bombing should be obviously pointed out, would not have been stopped by drone strikes. and there is certainly concern in the intelligence community that in fact, drone strikes are having a radicalizing effect. radicalizing people who have would not have been so incline dodd carry out attacks. they might be now inclined to
attack in europe or in the united states. so this is a concern right now. is you know, is the, are the actions, the operations themselves, creating a possible you know, new terrorists and possibly increasing the threat? this is the balance that has to go on. think it's one of the things you might see president obama deal with today. >> mark, before we let you go. i want to ask, because we've done great reporting from overseas and pakistan. in terms of the u.s. relationship with pakistan, they are our bed fellow in our war on terror, quote unquote. and u.s. approval in pakistan is at 11%. is an incredibly difficult contentious relationship. the drone strikes have not made it easier. i wonder what you foresee in the next few years in terms of that relationship? can this speech, can a pivot in our counterterrorism policy change that relationship measurably? >> it's a fascinating question. it is the sort of intensely
dysfunctional relationship the united states has with pakistan. now pakistan has just elected a new prime minister who got elected, no surprise, on a largely anti-american platform. but he's going to have to lead and he's going to have to deal with the united states. one of the things the times reported today was that the c.i.a. was gradually going to be giving up drone strikes in pakistan and move those to the military. that would require some kind of a joint arrangement between the u.s. military and the pakistani military. that will be very interesting to see how that deal is made. because as we know pakistan has not publicly countenanced such drone strikes. so we'll see if a deal can be brokered. >> the "the new york times'" mark mazetti thank you for your time. after the break, new estimates say monday's devastating tornado in oklahoma caused up to $2 billion in damages. in the aftermath we're learning about how some of the people in those destroyed homes survived the storm. we'll hear their story coming up
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[ male announcer ] universal studios summer of survival. ♪ president obama will view the devastation in moore, oklahoma on sunday. the same day a memorial service will be held for the 24 victims of the tornado. officials say the twister damaged or destroyed 13,000 homes. impacting 33,000 people. to put that in perspective, the population of the city of moore is 56,000. meanwhile, we are hearing dramatic stories of survival. when the ef-5 twister struck, 22 people at the tinker federal credit union took shelt anywhere the bank vault. the tornado decimated the brick
building, almost everything collapsed or was wiped away entirely except for the vault and the unharmed 22 survivors inside. yesterday they described the violent scene just beyond its walls. >> even through the closed door, you could hear the disintegration of what we're standing in now. there was no doubt i think in any of our minds that the building was gone on the outside. >> msnbc's craig melvin has more from moore, oklahoma. craig, the stories are unbelievable. >> yeah. you know we continue to hear stories like that. harrowing stories of survival in moore, oklahoma. i want to show you something right now. take a look at skit in moothe s. that is a welcome sight, for most of the morning, thunderstorms, there was lightning and a flash flood warning that expired around 10:00 a.m. so as a result, folks have been able to get back out and start
to, start the clean-up process. sifting through debris. you can see some workers here. at what's left of a bowling alley. i want to show you, the before picture. of this bowling alley. this is, this is a bowling alley here in moore. and right now, again you're looking at what this thing looked like before the tornado struck. i had the opportunity to tour some of the bowling alley just yesterday. you can see one of the 13,000 structures that you mentioned in this town that's been damaged or decimated. and again, now the process of cleaning up, the process of recovery can continue. the very manies that have been used during that process are now back out on the roads. for the past three or four hours that was not the case. the first funeral happened at 10:00 a.m. local time today in central time. little antonia, eight years old,
we found out that she died at the plaza towers elementary school she died with her 8-year-old friend, emily. we're told through a family member that they actually died holding each other during the storm. her funeral is today, two more funerals will happen tomorrow. you mentioned the president coming on sunday, president obama will be here. talking to families, talking to survivors. and also talking to some of the first responders here as well. at this point, it's not clear whether president obama is going to be attending a memorial service, that's also set for sunday. we should, we should also note that this is actually the last day of school in moore, oklahoma. so a number of students have returned to school today. a number of students returned to get their things and also an open house as well for the parents and students. the first time that many of them have been back in those classrooms since the tornado. alex? >> craig melvin in moore, oklahoma, thank you for the update. before we go to break, jared, i
want to ask you, in terms of funding for this, we're hearing $2 billion worth of damages. as a budget guru here, i ask you, fema's budget i think for the year is somewhere around $11.3 billion, 11.4. does that seem like something that, that figure, do you think that that seems within general projections, as far as these things go? >> i think so. before i drop into bean-counter mode, let me just say the emotions of the tragedy are so deep there. and it's so important in that regard. that we amply budget for these disasters. historically we've often ignored the fact that these disasters are becoming more common, more expensive and more devastating. in recent years, we've thankfully turned the page on that and we're doing a better job of budgeting, even protecting some of those dollars from sequestration. which makes a lot of sense. so $2 billion initially, may be right. these numbers tend to go up as
you get into the depth of the tragedy. >> and if there need to be supplemental bills, i'm sure we'll be hearing a lot from our friends on capitol hill. we have to take a break, but when we come back, the senate passes the first key hurdle for comprehensive immigration reform. but like most businesses in washington these days, one giant step forward in the upper chamber, often leads to ten staggered steps back in the lower chamber. we'll discuss hope and progress and fear and loathing, just ahead. ♪ if loving you is wrong ♪ i don't wanna be right [ record scratch ] what?! it's not bad for you. it just tastes that way. [ female announcer ] honey nut cheerios cereal -- heart-healthy, whole grain oats. you can't go wrong loving it.
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that's not much, you think. except it's 2% every year. go to e-trade and find out how much our advice and guidance costs. spoiler alert: it's low. it's guidance on your terms, not ours. e-trade. less for us. more for you. . it took an endless stream of stories, about senators' ancestries on tuesday a vote of 13-5, the senate judiciary approved the bipartisan immigration reform bill "the new york times" called it the most serious and worthy attempt to fix immigration in a generation. while the legislation may have emerged from the committee with its core provisions intact there was one sticking point, an amendment from senator pat leahy that would have extended immigration rights to gay and lesbian couples. as the warnings piled up from republican senators that a gay rights provision would kill the
bill, democrats ultimately decided to set the amendment aside in the name of moving the bill forward. >> we now know that this is going to blow the agreement apart. >> i believe in my heart of hearts, that what you're doing is the right and just thing. but i believe this is the wrong moment, that is the wrong bill. >> much as it pains me, i cannot support this amendment if it will bring down the bill. >> i will withhold the leahy amendment 7 at this point. >> the democrats seemed disappointed, president obama doubled down on his support for the bill. in a statement on tuesday, the president announced the bill is largely consistent with his goals. quote, none of the committee members got everything they wanted and neither did i, obama said. but in the end we all owe it to the american people to get the best possible result over the finish line. the bill is expected to hit the senate floor in june. and legislation in the house will follow suit. although the lower chamber's reform bill is expected to be more conservative.
for immigration reform, the biggest question facing lawmakers is how much to concede in the name of progress, and whether the end truly does justify the means. heather we talked about collateral damage casualties in the name of war in the a block. the beginning part of the show. i wonder what you think about the proceedings on tuesday as far as the provision for gay and lesbian couples? >> i think it's a really, it's a really hard moment. i actually have a lot of friends whose lives are directly affected by this issue. i'm hopeful there will be another time through the courts, maybe in another session, but i think it's very difficult. i think there are a lot of problems with the bill. i think it's essential that we get to immigration reform. i think there are a lot of problems and palpable unfairnesses about the way it's been crafted. it's kind of miraculous to have seen a senate committee actually pass something on a bipartisan basis. >> ben, we have word that the white house was pressuring leahy to drop that amendment. and i guess that's all in the
name of practicigmatismpragmati? the broader question of whether or not pelosi and the democrats embrace the house version of the bill, which would be even less progressive than the senate version of the bill. >> both sides are going to have to give a lot of ground here to get this passed. and neither party can have a poison pill. both parties had poison pills, amendments that killed the bill the last time around when the bush administration tried to get this passed. but i think all the huffing and puffing you saw in committee, the political theatrics are going to be very important to getting republicans to support this legislation at the end of the day, i've talked to democrats and republicans in the house who think that the whole bill will go down several dimes before final version of it passes. so that republicans can say -- we strengthened the border security. protections and we voted against a version of the bill, amnesty. that we didn't like. >> isn't it also somewhat partly based on the notion that the supreme court may hand down a ruling on doma and major between
gay and lesbian couples and that will afford, in some perhaps in some way affect the provision of the broader, provisions regarding gays and lesbians in the immigration reform bill? >> and i think ultimately it would be a more real debate we could have if there were a serious possibility that any republicans would step forward and support this atted end of the day. i think the numbers weren't there and the administration knows that ultimately this is the signature accomplishment of the second term that has the highest likelihood of passing. and they won't see it derailed under any conditions. as long as that earned path to citizenship is preserved within the legislation. >> richard, i wonder how much we are going to be talking about the secure border? i mean if you actually look at the statistics, 651 miles of fencing. 21,3 94 border agents, 300 towers, ten drones, a partridge in a pear tree and net migration from the u.s. to mexico, zero. >> i think i've pointed this out before on this show, there are
these things called planes that go over fences. and that's actually how a lot of quote unquote illegals undocumented stay here, they overstay their welcome. there will be a lot of talk about it. there will be a lot of posturing about the dang fence and everything else and that's fine. if we get to where we need to get to. by the way, let's just step back a little bit. we're talking about giving the president some credit for the whatever speech he's going to give. >> don't go out of your way. this thing, this thing is huge. okay? this is what joe biden would call a big deal. because competitor health care -- >> paraphrasing. >> compared to health care reform, which was also a big deal this is going through at a time when republicans are talking about the president as a tyrannical despot, about floating the idea of impeachment and all of these supposed scandals, this is going through with more bipartisan support by a huge order of magnitude compared to health care. this will get through. the pain is going to be there because we're going to have to be listening to these redig
louse speeches for days if not weeks on end. it will be go through and it will be a big, sprawling thing. not a small thing at all. >> speaking of health care, jared, there's now a lot of i believe it was congressman labrador who is now bringing up the idea of whether or not -- >> a dogged pursuer. >> pardon the pun. >> the whether taxpayer money used in the nation's health care law will be used to pay for people who came here illegally. nancy pelosi -- >> more dog m&ma -- >> you got to stop with that. nancy pelosi has pushed back saying, pushed back saying there will be no resources used to pay for treatment for illegal workers, undocumented workers who are here. i wonder practically if that's true, how that's going to actually work. >> i think that can be made to work and i think that the democrats will stick with that. and i thought ben made a great point about the more progressive concessions you make, the easier
it is to get this important bill over the goal line. i agree with richard about the magnitude of what a deal this is. but i also add especially relative to health care reform this is a political plus for both parties. so republicans also have to kind of really find reasons to be against this when they've got their leadership saying, folks if we want to stay in power, we need this to support this bill. i think the, if you think of comprehensive immigration reform, of the type progressives like being up here. maybe the senate takes it to around here. the question is -- >> that is a big question. as we talk about the political paraphrasing, david axelrod, kabuki theater of all of this, there's a question that once you sort of put these progressive things in there as decoys, but is the ultimate bill true to progressive priorities? or the prospects of reform? >> i actually think that the health care issue is a real travesty. first of all, what labrador is saying is that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes, which we know is actually not
true. the most undocumented immigrants have paid payroll taxes for a long time. >> which they don't benefit from. >> which they don't benefit from. secondly we know once they go on the path to citizenship. they'll be responsible for back taxes. so the idea of someone who is working in this country, most likely in a job that, let's be honest here, the employer has decided to not offer health care benefits, because that's, we don't see a lot of outrage about republicans saying wirks don't employers offering health care any more. what is a low-wage worker supposed to do? pay for his own cancer treatment? this is a question about what kind of country we want to be? if the republicans want to say that someone who has been paying taxes and is a part of the american community has to fund their own mris and preventive treatment. >> which is completely untenable. >> i don't understand what kind of country they're trying to build. >> and even with regard to emergency services, if you don't have papers and we're you're hit by a car, we're going to depart you. >> i hate to say it, but you're
describing the country we have right now. that's the state of affairs as it stands. and one of the great things about health care reform, it takes us to a much better place in terms of insurance. the idea of exempting this group from that, i agree with heather, is not good economics and not good health policy. but it's important politics and i don't see how you get from here over to the legislative goal line without that restriction. i could be wrong, but that's how i see it. >> i don't like real politique. that's what this is. coming up, he sign off with axoxo on gossip girl, but now penn badgley has signed on to play cult music hero, jeff buckley. we'll talk with badgley about his new film and its complicated real-life characters when he and director dan algrin join us ahead. [ female announcer ] doctors trust calcium plus vitamin d to support strong bones. and the brand most recommended by... my doctor. my gynecologist. my pharmacist. citracal. citracal. [ female announcer ] you trust your doctor.
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gossip girl, but now, actor penn badgley is showing the world his music chops. we will talk to penn about his new film and what it's like to play the late, great jeff buckley when he joins us on set, coming up next. i think farmers care more about the land than probably anyone else. we've had this farm for 30 years. we raise black and red angus cattle. we also produce natural gas. that's how we make our living and that's how we can pass the land and water back to future generations. people should make up their own mind what's best for them. all i can say is it has worked well for us.
the music who died young. the estranged father, the tortured artist, the idol. daniel ailgrent's latest film, "greetings from tim buckley" tells it all. both celebrated musicians, tim and his son, died too young and hardly knew each other. it takes us back to tim's life in the 1960s and follows jeff in the 1990s as he comes to terms with his father's legacy.
>> jeff buckley. we're putting together a concert celebrating your father's music. >>? is jeff, this is tim's son. >> that is spooky, you look just like him. >> i didn't know tim had a son. >> neither did he. >> that's cool. >> you should use that in one of your father's songs. >> ready? >> joining me now, actor penn badgley and the film's director, daniel allgrant. i will tell you that the building is dpluter with excited people, women and member, that you are here. let's talk about jeff buckley. he's a big figure to some folks in terms of music and musicology. but in some circles, he's totally unknown. i wonder were you a fan before you took on this role?
and how did you sort of wrap your head around someone who is well known, and not that well known. >> i was a fan, very much. a lot of the concerns that people ask me about, you know, taking on such a complicated and misunderstood legend who to some people is completely unknown. i guess for as far as preparation goes, the thing i was most concerned with was just i mean playing somebody who is a person you know, who is dead, who is an artist, such a singular talent. i was kind of aware of the weighty karmic thing. more than the -- you know like the media's speculation of him as a person. >> or me playing him. >> well he actually existed on earth and existed on earth not that long ago there are plenty of people that remember jeff buckley playing in like local clubs on the lower east side and the east village. >> dan, what brought you to the story? >> well what brought me to wanting to make a movie about
this was just the fact that it was about a father and a son, that just wasn't going to be about jeff buckley. because that story is someone else's story to tell. i mean if they want to. what made this interesting to me was it was about parents and children and the fact is, if you don't realize that you can both love and sort of hate your parents at the same time, then you really can't get on with your life in my view. and that's whey wanted to make this story sort of about. i mean that's, that was my take on what, what made this not just about the exquisite music of these guys, but about something that everyone could latch on to, even if they weren't fans of these people before. >> i would say, as someone that used to edit a music magazine. i am ashamed of the fact that i did not know that tim buckley was jeff buckley's father and was not really familiar with tim buckley's work. >> you're not alone in that. i think that somewhere along the way, the publicists and the people who were controlling his music didn't have the ability to
keep his music out there. everyone knows bob dylan, but no one knew who tim buckley was. not no one, but relatively speaking. it was a lovely way to sort of introduce people to the exquisite writing that he really did for such a long period of time. i mean -- so jeff was this beautiful way of sort of introducing him and also showing, showing us what you can do when you have someone like that looming over you. >> penn, in terms of actually music in the film, you sing all the songs. ben labolt is prone to singing in the shower as am i and on commercial breaks, but neither one of us is taking on the role of a legendary singer/songwriter. tell us about your history as a singer. is this something that you have been, like have you been working in music, on music, interested in it? had you thought of yourself as a singer before you took on this role?
>> i think that anybody who sings, sings, period. anybody who plays music and has it in them it just is. whether it's your career and you work on it or whether it's just a hobby you keep secret, toor me it was a hobby that i because of my acting career sort of kept necessarily secret. you know i always sang and this was a great opportunity to, to show myself what i could do more than anything. you know i mean the thing about it was that it was not easy by any stretch. it was very difficult. but it did come naturally. you know, it's like the whatever music i have in me was, it help immediate sort of like shine on that little slice of jeff. he was a much bigger pie. >> i would also say, jeff buckley, there's so much anguish in his music and then there's also like a lightness and a vulnerability. i mean in terms ever like channeling that. >> that was the quality that i was touching with the most, how sort of weary and heavy he was, that was something i suppose, i
don't want to say i could relate to it. that sounds sort of macabre. >> the obvious follow-up is why, what's going on? the cameras are not rolling, no. but -- >> i think like musically speaking, artistically speaking, creatively speaking, those are the qualities in life that gives somebody that kind of soul. and that was what i was trying to show of him. you know, his sort of quiet, yeah, it was anguish, it was a lot of misdirected anger and i think, i think he was very lost in a certain way at this point in his life. but he was finding something. >> when you grow up and your father's not there, you got to figure out what kind of guy you want to be when you grow up. you have to figure it out on your own, it's heavy. >> at some point in the film it seems like he doesn't want to think about the fact that his father wasn't present. >> no, who wants to talk about that? it doesn't make for light
conversation with a pretty girl, you know. >> well, yeah. it depends. >> well my dad wasn't around, so let's go out. >> we have to leave it there, unfortunately. but i'm really psyched about this movie and congratulations on making it. i think the world needs to know more about jeff buckley. heather mcghee wants to learn more about them, and maybe we'll be treated to a rendition, there you go. columbia house. >> the film is greetings from tim buckley. available on itunes on demand and select theaters. penn buckley and dan allgrant thanks for joining us. thanks to our panel. i'll see you back tomorrow at noon when i'm joined by maggie haberman, wes moore, ben smith, the new yorker's john packer and a dude named david axelrod. until then, you can follow us on twitter@now . "andrea mitchell reports" is coming up next.
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right now, the new war on terror, president obama is preparing to deliver the first major national security speech of his second term. addressing a pair of highly controversial issues. c.i.a. drone strikes. and the still-open prison at guantanamo bay. in london today, after the gruesome murder of a british soldier in broad daylight, prime minister cameron vows to never give in to terrorism. >> what happened yesterday in woolidge has sickened us all. on our televisions last night and in our newspapers this morning, we have all seen images that are deeply shocking. the people who did this were trying to divide us. something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger. >> this woman spoke to one of the suspects before the police arrived. >> he told