tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC June 4, 2013 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT
vacancies on the 11-member u.s. court of appeals for the district of colombia circuit. arguably one of the most important courts in the country, second only to the supreme court. as the president explained, there is a reason there are so many empty seats on such an important bench. >> one of the most important responsibilities of a president is to nominate qualified men and women to serve as judges on the federal bench. my nominees have taken three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my republican predecessor. this is not about principled opposition, this is about political obstruction. our legal framework depends on timely confirmations of judicial nominees. >> by appointing nominees to fill judicial vacancies, president obama is doing something that the u.s. constitution outlines as a part
of his duty as president. and yet, doing his job is something congressional republicans find outrageous and an abuse of power. last week, senators mitch mcconnell and chuck grassley accuse the white house of court-packing. the term court-packing harkens back to the day of fdr. president obama is of course not expanding the number of seats, he just wants to fill the empty ones. weirdly or perhaps not weirdly at all, not a single republican accused president george w. bush of court-packing when he appointed justices to the d.c. circuit court. if the wild transparently partisan assertions do not succeed in keeping the president it doing his job, chuck grassley, has lately been pushing a bill called the court efficiency act. which would completely eliminate the three seats the president is trying to fill. because, hey, for the second highest court in the land. who needs a full bench, anyway? it's not likely to matter to
republicans that the president's three nominees are all highly qualified lawyers and graduates of harvard law, or that with more than a third of the nation's judicial seats sitting empty, the country is facing a judicial emergency. it won't matter mostly because this is a crisis of their own making. president obama's nominees for federal courts of appeal have waited an average of 148 days for their confirmation votes. that is four times longer than nominees from george w. bush. the average wait time for a bush nominee to the federal district courts was 35 days. the average wait for an obama nominee? 102 days. president obama's first nominee for the court, kaitlyn halligan was filibustered by senate republicans, not once, but twice, after spending 700 days, that's two and a half years languishing in the nomination process. in the end, the white house ended up withdrawing her nomination. while partisan absurdity provides its own distinct brand of energy, in choosing to
announce this judicial trifecta, president obama is perhaps more inclined to take action because of the stakes at hand. according to the "washington post," whether or not the judges make it on the court to make or break president obama's second term agenda. they're the court is likely to rule on immigration reform, the affordable health care act and the future of dodd-frank financial reform. if obama runs into hurdles getting his nominees confirmed, that could trigger filibuster changes that could affect policy decades from now. joining me today, benjamin wallace-wells, editor for salon.com and an msnbc political analyst, joan walsh. "washington post" columnist and an msnbc contributor, jonathan capehart. and josh sparrow is the new politics editor at "business insider." and as such, josh, i will go to you first on this. i think it is fairly outrageous
as the long script probably indicated, that republicans are accusing the president of court packing when he's trying to just fill empty seats. >> sure and they've had to wait so long for the nominations to get through. but the person the president ought to be angry at is harry reid. the reason is the democrats have a majority in the senate. they ought to be able to confirm these nominees in a timely manner without input from the republicans. they can't do that because senate democrats decided they did not want to change the rules that govern the senate. they wanted to make tan the 60-throat threshold that gives republicans a veto power over everything, including judicial nominations. i'm honestly in general a little more sympathetic to obstruction on judicial nominations than in cabinet appointments, the president should be able to pick who he wants to work in the executive branch. the judicial branch is something supposed to be agreed on between the president and lemg slate tur. but when the democrats have a majority, they ought to be able to confirm the president's judicial nominees. >> i don't think the president should be angry at harry reid. i think he should be angry at the people holding up bipartisan
picks for these court appointments, purely to stymie his agenda and to stymie the judicial process. but i agree, harry reid did punt on filibuster reform when he had more of a chance. although there is now talk that maybe he will take it up again. precisely because this process has gotten so adulter eight ea. >> the senate could have passed rules. >> the obstructive rules in the senate that require a 60-vote threshold empower the individual senators and empower the senate relative to the house and democratic senators like the rules, even though they're bad for the democratic policy agenda, because they're good for you if you are a person who serves as a democratic senator. >> there's one other reason. and that is because they're prepared to be in the minority. thinking about what it's going to be like when they're in the minority. rather than thinking, we have the majority. what if we passed our agenda and changed people's lives and turned a generation into
democrats, and let them know that this is what we do when we're in power. rather than cravenly preparing to be, we know we're going to be in the minority soon. so we better protect minority rights. i don't agree with josh entirely that it's mainly harry reid's fault, but he deserves some of the blame here. >> given what's at stake, given that we're talking about the completion of dodd-frank, still an incomplete policy initiative. even though we're talking about the completion of health reform, it's a little strange that democrats have chosen in some ways to privilege this abstract objection. this structural objection, over what probably will be concrete policy achievements. don't forget, what's happening in the interim is that senior judges, retired judges, many of whom you know overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly who have been appointed by republicans are coming in, sitting on these cases. and the d.c. circuit has ruled pretty aggressively against some elements of dodd-frank. so there's, there's a little bit, you know, i think it's all
well and good that we're thinking about what will happen after democrats lose these, lose power. but at the same time, there's -- >> i don't know that we're all happily thinking about. >> but at the same time, there's something very concretely at stake in these debates. >> jonathan, the president is on the offense. when he was given his remarks today in the rose garden. you sense a certain amount of indignation. which is always sort of in the air when he talks about the hold-ups. the kaitlyn halligan nomination, the fact that is languished for 700 days. it's not just that, but also his agenda. i outlined at the end of the open, we're talking dodd-frank, immigration reform, specifically as it pertains to the dream act. we're talking about the affordable care act. these are, if there is a legacy, if there is an obama legacy, it is contingent upon this court push, continuing on with the effort. >> the indignation that you talk about, yes, he's perhaps worried about his legacy and his policy agenda as it relates to the court. but this is a president who has, from the moment he's walked in
the door, faced obstruction. whether it's list cabinet appointments, judicial appointments, his agenda, everything has met resistance. and everything he does, what he decides he wants to do, look at what's happening with eric holder. is it about eric holder? or is it about having a fight with the president? and i contend that the republican party has been about, from the moment he walked into the white house, let's go to war with this guy, no matter what he wants to do, and no matter how good it is for the country, let's just stymie him because we'll argue that he's incompetent, he's in over his head and we'll do everything possible to make that be a self-fulfilling prophesy. >> i think the court-packing thing, joan, is part of that, right? just say, just bowl this into the larger narrative of obama being the big-government guy. the overreach guy. >> the tyrant. >> when in reality, this is him fulfilling his duties as outlined in the u.s. constitution.
>> i'm sure josh did not mean to us a the word obstruction before, he meant to use the word judicial review, and consultation, but not obstruction. but right, it's been on destruction and it hasn't been about getting reasonable people on the bench or perhaps singling out somebody who may be is not as qualified or maybe a radical, whatever that would mean in this context. it's been about turning down perfectly qualified mainstream judges. and that is wrong. >> you know, josh, in terms of the picks that the president has made. sri srivinasen. as bipartisan as it gets, he served under both republican and democratic administrations, it seems increasingly that the president must almost pick republicans for high-profile nominees, whether it's the fbi head or someone in the s.e.c. who served in private equity. the idea that he would choose a flame-throwing liberal seems to almost be, or a liberal.
a capital "l" liberal would seem to beathema at this point. as we talk about blame for these judicial vacancy, the president has not pursued the nomination process, i think to the chagrin of a lot of folks in his first term as robustly as he might have. and it seems unfortunate given all the open seats that we, in the last three years of his administration, he is going to have to really make hay while the sun shines in an incredibly polarized partisan climate. >> i think this has been an especially big problem on the cabinet side. the when we had the irs scandal break, the irs had had an actinging commissioner for six months and the president had still not appointed a commissioner to replace him. it would have been a lot easier to get an irs commissioner confirmed before the scandal than after. and we've seen that for example with secretary of commerce, which twice during obama's administration, has sat vacant for a long time. not because the senate was sitting on it, but because he wasn't appointing. what the white house says is because the confirmation process
has gotten so grueling and obstructive, we have to do tremendously intense vetting in order it make sure that the nominees will get through. but i think they've gone overboard on that. >> i agree. >> it's put them in a difficult position to accuse the congress of on destruction, they can say hay you're not appointing people for these things. nd you're putting nominees through this gauntlet. they have to go through not only the confirmation process, but also this internal white house vetting process, which is very unpleasant. a lot of people who would be very qualified to serve in these sort of government positions are saying this is more trouble than it's worth. >> there is also the notion that republican congressmen are not helping the president with empty seats in their own districts. because they do not want the president to be appointing judges that are perhaps liberal-leaning or left-leaning or whatever. this is the lack of cooperation on this is so shocking and it's so transparent. but i ask the question, ben, you know, does the public care about this? i feel like this is a source of indignation obviously for the white house and people who care about a functioning judicial process in this country.
especially given the weight of the topics at hand and the case loads. but does this, i mean given where we are with the white house and sort of scandal month or scandal season, does, is this a counterpoint to that? >> i think basically the answer is a qualified no. i think basically the public does not care a great deal about this. i think what the public does care about, though, are those issues that we talked about. you know, i think the public does care about health care reform. i think the public does care about financial reform. and if the president can make a case that look, this is not just a kind of abstract debate, these are not just you know, people that you have never heard of before and will never hear from again. but this is you know, actually what's at stake is these things that the public has you know supported. i think that then maybe you could see a change in public opinion. >> i think the public also cares, barack obama does better when barack obama fights. the public likes him better, his approval rating rises when he fights. they like him less when he seems mired in scandal. or he seems mired by his opponents. he's reaching out ineffectively,
basically. so i think there's a positive for him. whether or not people are keeping track of oh, wow, a third of those judicial seats are empty. i'm outraged. it's a big deal, america. and people should care. but i think he's right to put the focus on it. and he's right to fight. because he is, they have tied him in knots. >> and this is something the white house has talked about before. this is coming an an opportune time in so far as we're getting decisions handed down by scotus in the next couple of weeks that will change in many ways the face of this country, depending on what the decisions are and it's a renewed sort of understanding of how important the court is in this day and age, jonathan. >> yes, yes. we were just told that that was going to be the last point. i didn't know you were going to come to me. >> i'm going to come to you and ask you, i think the public likes when the president draws attention to that. >> the public likes that and i agree with what joan said. they like it when the president fights. remember, this was a guy who ran
for re-election when the economy was in the toilet. unemployment was high, the republicans were saying that he was a failed president. and yet they saw, the american people saw that he was quote trying. he was trying his best, despite the obstacles. now you know, when he sits back and doesn't do anything and he tries to be reasonable and tries to be the adult in the room. >> that never seems to really work for him. >> it doesn't. but when he gets out there and fights it reminds people who he is. they get to see him and he looks like he's having a whole lot of fun. and it's easy to have fun and look like you're having fun when you're right. >> you know, there's also not a big enough villain. it's not like there's a newt gingrich out there. >> chuck grassley isn't enough of an enemy? >> john boehner? >> he's shrinking by the day. >> the incredibly shrinking republican opposition. something tells me there will be more from that side as the week goes on. after the break, confessed
wikileaker whistle blower, bradley manning and p.j. crowley next on "now." hoo-hoo. hoo-hoo...hoo-hoo. hoo-hoo hoo. sir... i'll get it together i promise... heeheehee. jimmy: ronny, how happy are folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico? ronny:i'd say happier than the pillsbury doughboy on his way to a baking convention. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
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a humanist who wanted to make the world a better place, telling the court his client was young, a little naive, but good-intentioned in that he was selecting information that he thought would make a difference. the government seeking a life sentence for a man accused of aiding the enemy. disagreed. in the words of prosecutor captain joe morrow, this is a case about a soldier who systemically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them on to the internet in the hands of the enemy, material he knew, based on his training would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk. at a pretrial hearing in february, manning, now 25, admitted to providing over 700,000 afghan and iraq war documents and state department cables to the wikileaks website while stationed as an army intelligence analyst in iraq. manning pleaded guilty to ten of the lesser 22 charges leveled against him. those charges carry up to 20 years in prison. but the u.s. government has continued forward with all charges and no plea deal is in
sight. at yesterday's white house briefing, jay carney, declined to comment specifically on the case, but made clear the administration's stance on leakers. >> broadly speaking, not referring to any specific case, leaks of sensitive national security information, classified information, can be very harmful to our national security interests. >> in february, manning denied having any intention to aid the enemy. instead, manning told the court that some of the things he saw during his time in iraq made him want to quote spark a domestic debate of the role of the military and foreign policy in general, and cause society do re-evaluate the need and even desire to engage in counterterrorism and count counterinsurgency operations. the u.s. government maintains the trial will prove that the raid on osama bin laden's compound in pakistan revealed that information leaked by manning ended up in the hands of the country's number one enemy. proving that was manning's
intention will be tricky. as "the new york times" writes, there's no doubt that manning did most of what he's accused of doing. the crucial issue is how those actions should be understood. joining us now, former assistant secretary of state and former spokesman for the state department, p.j. crowley. p.j., it is always a welcome sight to see you on the tv screen, thank you for joining us today. >> pleasure, alex. >> let us talk of bradley manning. you know about this case than anybody in this room. i think the position that the government is now in is a curious one. they effectively have rejected manning's admission of guilt and are pursuing this notion under the espionage act that he aided and abetted the enemy. i think, a, that's going to be hard to prove and b sort of sparks this whole discussion about what is aiding the enemy in the 21st century and with the internet. and you wrote in an op-ed in the "guardian" back in april, don't make a martyr of bradley manning, these were not the actions of a whistleblower, but
rather a window shopper in a classified database. tell us more about that, p.j. >> the wikileaks case is unique. because of the volume, 700,000 documents, many of them classified. and the scope in that the documents touched on literally every relationship the united states has with another country. around the world. bradley manning's actions did put real lives and real careers at risk. at the same time, i can't sit here and say that it had a strategic impact on the united states. >> and the other question is, the role of the internet here, right? i mean it's effectively a huge town square and bradley manning nailed up some information in the middle of the town square. but whether he precisely intended on that information falling into the hands of osama bin laden, is a completely different argument and one it would seem to be really hard to make unless you can jump inside the mind of bradley manning. >> well, sure. and it is you know, technically
enabled this to happen and technology has shown us how this is going to have an impact. you know for some time. your normal leak involves one country, a small set of documents, it works its way through the news cycle fairly quickly. obviously this san archive with hundreds of thousands of documents, it's now searchable. it's in the public domain. it's used every day by journalists in terms of their coverage of u.s. foreign policy. so it's going to have an impact for some time. you know, the charge of aiding the enemy is a very interesting one. because you know, this war on terror, whatever you want to call it that will linger for some time. is more about psychological impacts. a battle of narratives, if we're going to say that bradley manning and releasing this information aided the enemy. well you know, what about the perpetrators of abu ghraib? you know they obviously gave great comfort and incentive to the enemy. what about those who are responsible for the burning of the koran? that action you know caused a
halt in what was a nascent political negotiation among the united states, the taliban and afghanistan. so the government wants to make this charge, that this is now going to be the, you know the standard when information makes its way into the public domain, it has potentially serious consequences. >> josh, pj brings up a good point there. terry jones, is terry jones aiding the enemy? if you look at incendiary actions taken that radicalized people or caused violence, helped the enemy as it were. that's a fairly broad umbrella, if they, if they sort of charge, if they successfully charge manning with it. >> the underlying act that bradley manning -- no terry jones committed, while stupid, was not a kril. bradley manning is a cuesed of a serious crime and also accused that the under -- >> he's admitted to that crime and they can take him on 20 years for that crime. they're trying to prove that he's aiding the enemy.
>> is there an intense standard here as there is with treason? it's my understanding he wasn't charged with treason because there was no ability to demonstrate that he was intentionally attempting to strengthen terrorist organizations and undermine u.s. interests and presumably because he did not have that intention. but the aiding the enemy standard, my understanding is that the standard is lower. they don't need to prove intent. they just need to show that it was useful to the enemy. >> let us speak of okay, there are five different conversations to have here and i think one of them is, you know, who is culpable here, right? and ben, i'll read this quote from the "guardian" as well. manning is accused of aiding the enemy because he posted the information to internet where al qaeda could read it. you might start thinking is the enemy is the internet itself. that's obviously sort of a, not an exaggeration, but the notion that the internet is involved in this, and is a sort of lawless area, makes the prosecution of this that much more difficult. >> and it also lowers the bar
for actually aiding the enemy. you know, he didn't have to acquire osama bin laden's email address. and ship this, ship this trove off to him. you know wikileaks you know, made it possible for him to broadcast this broadly, fairly easily. there's a couple of other things going on here though, that are interesting, one thing that's kind of amazing to me is there weren't other people like bradley manning. that bradley manning was the only one. this is a war that involves a whole lot of people. with complicated feelings about the war. with various levels of security clearance. and the fact that we've only got manning suggests that the kind of complicated set of security measures and classifications that the melt undertakes to protect what it deems important information, is kind of working. and i suspect what's really going on here, is that they're trying to make sure that that wall is, is upheld. you know and that if people are going to breach it and it doesn't seem to be crazy to think that there were a lot of
people within the military in iraq who thought about doing something like what bradley manning did. that they would be a little bit scared. that they would see a really extreme prosecution and kind of hold back. >> well clearly he's being made an example of. and i think -- >> much like aaron schwartz was made an example of. >> and when pj sakes let's not make him a martyr. the government is making him a martyr by extreme prosecution and terrible treatment. amnesty international has called his treatment torture. solitary confinement, sleeping naked. and abusive situation that doesn't seem to be called for by the security risk he poses in custody. >> and pj, you've had words of course, regarding bradley manning's treatment, calling it ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid. why has the government not learned -- why has the government not acted in a more moderate fashion relating to this case? i mean i think it touches on issues of national security, but also sort of war-time mentality
and our very conflicted opinions regarding the nature of the wars we're now fighting. >> to the government's credit. after i said what i said, it did change bradley manning's treatment. he was transferred from quantico to fort levinworth. more consistent with the pretrial confinement that any inmate has under the prumesumptn of guilt, innocence until proven otherwise. i wish they would take a more expansive view of this particular case. because this case, the president came into office wanting to reset you know global perceptions of the united states. this case is being watched across the world. because, just so because it has had an impact in a lot of different places. >> the government has missed the opportunity to accept the plea bargain. accept a very significant punishment and move beyond this particular case, the longer this
goes on, it will challenge the credibility of the united states in the eyes of many around the world. >> it's interesting, that when we talk about coverage of this case, it is in many ways getting more coverage, jonathan around the world than it is actually i think here at home in the united states and certainly the press coverage has been stymied in large degree because they've made access very difficult and not getting transcripts and so forth. that seems to be changing a little bit. but this is an important case for the global stage and for the national dialogue. >> it's a big story on the international stage because there's 700,000 documents out there. and you've got governments wanting to see, well what are they? meaning us, the united states. saying about us, what have they done? i mean, as a journalist. it's terrific to have all of this information out there. but i can imagine for the government, for the state department, for the defense department, for the executive branch, to have all that information out there is you know, goes from embarrassing to terrifying. i'm sort of conflicted about the
whole bradley manning thing. because again as a journalist i'm all for more information is better than less. but when you've got someone who has taken an oath to protect this country, you know, preserve the constitution. >> the fact that he was in the armed services and did this. >> going through and harvesting all of this information and then shopping it around -- i'm sorry, i can't get with bradley manning on the whole, you know i'm doing this because i love my country. >> i think that's kind of an inflated argument about bradley manning's motivations. but pj, i think it's worth noting that in some ways we are distracted about the statements that the government issued, is that bradley manning has blood on his hands, in fact the people who have the blood on their hands in all of this. are the people who have shot civilians on the ground and not announced that, there's been no transparency about that that's where the blood is. and i think one of the more unfortunate sides of this is we have gotten distracted as far as the fundamental conversation and agreement we need to come to
relating to counterterrorism strategy and national security. >> well the reality is that has bradley manning put lives and careers at risk? real lives and careers? yes, he has. and for that, he should be punished. i think 20 years is enough and i think 20 years sends that firm message to those in government that they have a responsibility to protect the national interest, to safeguard classified material and not go down the same route that bradley manning did. >> we will be watching it. not live, of course, but with transcripts, pj crowley, thanks as always for your time. >> all right, alex. coming up, elite covert killing squads are not the stuff of fiction, but of fact. we will discuss dirty wars and the world's battlefields, when "the nation's" jeremy scahill joins the panel, next. [ female announcer ] the best thing about this bar it's not a candy bar.
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in the new film "dirty wars" jeremy scahill chronicles his search for the real story behind america's ever-expanding war on terror. that story, which plays out in drone strikes and night raids by elite special forces on distant battlefields, takes scahill from iraq and afghanistan to dwremen and somalia. much of the film focuses on the increasing use of the joint special operations command, or jsoc. the most covert unit in the u.s. military. it operates in the shadows of war and remained virtually unknown to the american public until the raid on osama bin laden's compound. which was carried out by a jsoc unit known as s.e.a.l. team 6. >> nato claimed that the women killed in guard ez were the victim of honor killings. bound and gagged by their own families. you saw the u.s. forces take the bullets out of the body? i believed the family.
but that wasn't enough. for me, or anyone else. who were these men that stormed into daoud's home? and why would they go to such horrifying lengths to cover up their actions? >> the elite force created in 1980 as an elite hostage rescue team has grown under the bush and obama administrations, jsoc members now number close to 25,000, operating in over 75 countries with an annual budget of o'er approximately $8 billion. the release of the film comes weeks after president obama defended his administration's counterterrorism strategy in a speech last month. >> america's actions are legal. we are at war with an organization that right now would kill as many americans as they could, if we did not stop them first. so this is a just war. a war waged proportionally in last resort and in self-defense. >> the documentary also focuses
on the u.s. decision to put anwar al alaki on a kill list. a water shed event in america's seemingly endless war. joining me now, jeremy scahill. >> great to be with you. >> let's talk about jsoc. this force, i will read an excerpt from the "washington post" series, "top secret america" which touches on this top secret community. dana priest writes, the two presidents have asked jsoc to mount intelligence-gathering missions and lethal raids mostly in iraq and afghanistan, but also in countries with which the united states was not at war, including yemen, pakistan, the it has its own intelligence division, drones, reconnaissance planes, even dedicated
satellites, in combat, they wear no name or rank i'd fires. >> when president obama first came into office, he campaigned on a pledge to end the war in iraq and to try to roll back the way that bush and cheney had prosecuted the war on terror. early in his administration he was briefed on the capacity that jsoc had. what ended up happening is that jsoc became the counterterrorism policy, not just the implementers of it, but policy itself. these are guys used to operating in shadows with little or minimal effective congressional oversight and they have a streamlined pipe to the commander-in-chief. president obama is in charge of all u.s. military forces. but often in his administration speaking directly to the commenders of jsoc on the ground. when an american flagged vessel was taken early on in obama's administration in somalia, the mersk alabama, the first time an american vessel had been hijacked in 100 years. obama was directly in touch with the people on the the ship that was going to take out the pirates and s.e.a.l. team 6 was deployed in kenya at the time and went out into the ocean and
shot the three somali pirates and rescued the american commander. i'm told by my sources after that happened. obama embraced jsoc and was in awe of their capacity and started to give them broad authorizations to conduct what are called kinetic operations in a variety of countries, particularly in yemen. really intensified, what was large anonexistent u.s. war in gem yemen, giving in a '09 and continuing to this day. >> how did you get access to this? >> it was sort of trang series of convin strange series of coincidences. i had written a book and at events i would get approached by big guys with beards who came up and said, i don't like your politics at all. you liberal commie, whatever. but you're right about blackwater and i started to meet guys who were operators in jsoc. guys who were s.e.a.l.s or former s.e.a.l.s. delta force guys and instead of
being a jerk and saying i'm against the war. i would say, you want to get a beer? >> that's always a good strategy. >> i started to get those units. i knew because i had been covering wars for over a decade, that's all i've done in my adult life. i knew about special operations forces, i didn't know the nuance of who jsoc was until i started investigating night raids and came upon a story where a team of commandos had raided a house where they thought ied manufacturing was going on. the americans had bad intelligence, they ended up killing three women, two of whom were pregnant and a senior afghan police commander who had spent his entire career fighting against the taliban and instead of sorting owning it we got fed bad intelligence, they dug the bullets out of the women's bodies and told their commanding officers that he had stumbled upon an honor killing. the world wouldn't have known about this but for admiral william mcraven, the commander at the time of jsoc showing up in this village, with sheep
offering to sacrifice them and give money to the family and a photographer snapped some photos of mcraven on the scene. this wasn't known to the world yet. this was two years before osama bin laden was killed and i started investigating who was this man with a patch on his shoulder and crazy-looking watch that i've never seen before. started to ask people about it and learned that this wassed guy who was running the most secretive force within the u.s. military and from there, we sort of reverse-engineered an history and went back to figure out what they had been doing over the years that we hadn't been paying attention to. >> you hear the story about u.s. operatives taking bullets out of the bodies of dead, pregnant women and we think that's not us, that's not our country, that's not what we should be doing. at the same time the president gave his speech at the national defense university last month. i wonder what you make of it. i think the part of it that i applaud is a, he's trying to be transparent and the fact that it became clear to me that he is wrestling morally with these questions. and is that enough?
i. >> i think the net result of the obama presidency on a counterterrorism front is he'll go down in history as the president who legitimized and systemized a process by which the united states asserts the right to conduct assassination operations around the world. he's trying as hard as he can to make it legitimate. i think that he largely has sold liberals on the idea that this is a cleaner, more effective way of waging war. but at the end of the day, i think that cheney and company are probably having a good chuckle over this somewhere. because it's going to keep the doors open for the kind of war that they like to wage during their administration. >> joan, what do you think of that, that he sold liberals -- >> i've written about it. there is actual polling that shows when you poll liberals and say do you believe in targeted assassinations? do you believe in aspects of this foreign policy. and you don't say obama support it is or it's his policy. they say, no, we don't, no, that's horrible. and then when you, with a control, that's the control group. then you have another group of people who say they support
obama and you describe the same policy. and say, that's been embraced by president obama and the people who didn't like it, before they knew that he did it, like it. and i find that, i mean we don't agree on everything. but i'm with jereny on a lot of this stuff. because i find this normalization of secrecy, and this expansion of the president's powers chilling and i find the fact that the people who normally would be expected to be peace activists or demanding more accountability and transparency are kind of like -- we like the guy. >> the difference between democratic and republican missiles. >> but you know, jeremy, i have to ask you, you were interviewed at the "l.a. times" this week. when you were in the field reporting on this stuff on one hand you are supposed to be an objective journalist. i can't imagine the emotion and the sense of, because of americans doing this to innocent civilians, children, pregnant women, there is got to be some
sense that one needs to apologize or make amends. and you wrote, or you said, essentially you become an ambassador of your country. whether you agree with the policy or not. that's how you're viewed. i did start saying to people, i'm sorry for what happened. and some people have criticized for that saying it's not journalistic. >> i think that we are viewed that way. if i'm going to be the only american that these people who have their family wiped out in a missile attack or night raid, if i'm the only american they're ever going to meet, a feel a moral and ethical responsibility who says to them we're sorry this happened and i do it all the time. i am honest and i was trying to be transparent. >> i was surprised that mcraven was offering goats. but that's not policy, right? >> and they weren't hosting it as a press conference, they were going there to try to prevent a riot from happening. secretly. it was only because this photographer snapped a picture of him that we even knew he was there. >> if there's one thing that we can get from this, you know, for the sake of civil liberties and, is greater transparency. at least there's now the events
that we took out al alaki as well as several americans. >> people who watch the film will come out with a very nuanced view of anwar al awlaki and his son. >> he was radicalized by u.s. policy and crossed a line in life. >> the film "dirty wars" is in theaters this friday and available on demand on june 14th. jeremy scahill, congratulations on the film. coming up, new jersey governor faces a tough test. his options for filling the state's newly vacant senate seat, just ahead. asional have constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating? yes!
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important. if the vacancy occurs 70 days, more than 70 days before a general election, then the voters vote in the general election for the senate replacement. which is, that's the situation now. but here's what's also happening. if the vacancy occurs less than 70 days before the june 4th primary, which is now, the election would not be held until 2014. unless christie calls for an earlier special election. so today maybe we'll find out what the governor wants to do about this. >> john, the last word on chris christie? >> i think he's going to make a boring pick. there are only two republicans who have won state-wide elections in new jersey in the last 25 years, one is christie and the other is christine todd whitman, who is the only person who could be a competitive candidate in the general election. but christie can't name her, she's too high-profile a moderate. he wants to make a safe pick. maybe even someone who is not an elected official right now.
>> thank you to my panel. that's all for now. "andrea mitchell reports" is coming up next. 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. a new take on an old favorite. congestion, for it's smog. but there are a lot of people that do ride the bus. and now that the busses are running on natural gas, they don't throw out as much pollution to the earth. so i feel good. i feel like i'm doing my part to help out the environment.
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