tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC July 9, 2013 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT
now. the one and only rachel maddow, back, looking tan, dynamic, and well rested. >> you're raising incredible expectations. >> you're glowing, you're jumping off the screen. great to have you back. thanks. cheers. i feel a little embarrassed but in a nice way. that's very flattering. thanks to you for joining us this hour. it's not really a tan. i'm blushing. chances are you maybe do not visit the site myspace that much anymore. this is what myspace looks like these days. they made it very fancy. in 2009, it was a less fancy myspace page that created a big problem for a republican senate candidate. this the band commander, a publicity shot for commander, the band. the handsome lad on the far left with the shoulder length hairdo, his name is chris hightower, mr. hightower sang vocals in this skulls with bat wings, met call band called commander. back in 2009 the lead singer for commander also had time to moonlight as campaign spokesman for a united states senate candidate. man named rand paul. it was his role in the rand paul senate campaign that led people
curious about mr. hightower to troll through his presence on myspace. and there it was soon this covered in addition to the tough guy band photos of commander, mr. hightower's site also included comments like this. posted on his myspace page. "happy "n" word day." that's in celebration of martin luther king jr. day that year. happy "n" word day posted alongside this photo on the myspace page of rand paul's senate campaign spokesperson. this stuff was reportedly posted there for a couple of years and was still just there waiting to be discovered once rand paul picked this guy to be the public face of his campaign for u.s. senate. once this was reported out, mr. hightower had to resign as spokesman for the senate campaign. that was a campaign rand paul went on to win. that embarrassment happened back in 2009, and part of the reason i think that issue stuck more than it might have with anybody else in politics is because this all happened only about a year after rand paul's father, ron paul as a 2008 presidential candidate had to answer for really overtly racist content in his ron paul newsletters in something called the "ron paul report." these were things congressman ron paul signed his name to and sent out for years to people who wanted to hear from the great libertarian hope.
this is a newsletter from february 1990. "boy, it sure burns me" it's written in the first person like that "it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro communist philanderer, martin luther king. we can thank him for our annual hate whitey day." from this ron paul report in october 1992. "if you live in major city you probably learned about the newest threat to your life and limb and your family. it's called carjacking. it is the hip hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos. what can you do? more and more americans are carrying a gun in the car. an ex-cop i know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately. disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible. such a gun cannot, of course, be registered to you, but one bought privately through the classifieds, for example." this continues "i frankly don't know what to make of such advice, but in my little town of lake jackson, texas, i urged everyone in my family to learn to use a gun in self-defense, for the animals are coming." some of this stuff bearing ron paul's name when he was a presidential candidate in 2008, the response from the then-republican candidate for
president was he had no idea who was writing these newsletters or what was in them. these ron paul newsletters that were written in the first person that everybody though he was writing, himself, and that he signed his name to. >> i have no idea. have you ever heard of a publisher of a magazine not knowing every single thing? the editor is responsible for the daily activities and people came and gone, there are people who were hired. i do not know any of their names. i absolutely honestly do not
know who wrote those things. >> the editor there is responsible. even though ron paul said he had no idea who was writing all this racist stuff in his newsletters, everybody around him and him there a little bit himself, they seem to know exactly who was writing this stuff or who should be blamed. ron paul's chief ghost writer, by name of lou rockwell, blame him. he was guy who was deal with this stuff, not me. though ron paul did everything he could do distance himself
from the racist the stuff in the news letters, though it was signed ron paul, as soon as ron paul retired from congress this year, he started up his ron paul institute, guess who he appointed to his board? lou rockwell, the guy they blamed for the super racist, the animals are coming newsletters. also on the board of ron paul's institute, a professor named walter block who says "the real problem with the civil war is the wrong side won and abraham lincoln was a monster." and it is become all that has happened already that you might be forgiven today if today's flurry of reporting about a rand paul senate staffer felt a little bit like deja vu. a conservative website in washington today, deep dived today into the background of a rand paul staffer who looks like this. you might have seen the photo today. yes. there we go. he does not wear this mask thing to work anymore, but he used to.
and just in case it's not totally clear, those are not decorative stars on his wrestling mask. that is a confederate flag wrestling mask. this is a man who likes to be called the southern avenger. his real name is jack hunter, and it's not like mr. hunter has been hiding this persona under a bushel, right? here's his official website. brandon prominently with the southern avenger logo. his youtube page has the s.a., southern avenger logo. his twitter handle is all southern avenger. on fox business network, they tribe him as someone who co-wrote rand paul's book and is someone sometimes known as the southern avenger. have to talk to the producer that had to write that ciron. did that raise questions for you about why you booked this guy? this is the job that mr. hunter had before rand paul hired him to come to washington to be a senate staffer and to ghost write his book. mr. hunter was a radio commentator and he'd say things like "the term diversity has become nothing more than a code
word for not white. it's a shame just because we have fair skin we are always denied fair treatment." or this, "modern americans aren't wrong to deplore the millions of mexicans coming here now. a nonwhite majority america would simply cease to be america." or there's this one about how john wilkes booth's heart was in the right place. the southern avenger does regret that lincoln's murder automatically turned him into a martyr. he says he raises a personal toast every may 10th to celebrate the birthday of john wilkes booth, the man who shot lincoln. and that was how he was making his bones in the world. that was his public persona when rand paul hired him to bring him to washington. this problem, though, is not a paul family affliction. i mean, it is obviously a paul family affliction, but not them, alone. the southern avenger, same guy, was also hired by jim demint to co-write his most recent book. jim demint, of course, is no
longer a senator. he quit being a senator to run the heritage foundation. once he was there he decided the heritage foundation should write a big comprehensive study on why immigration reform is a terrible idea. he hired a guy whose doctoral dissertation had been about the intellectual inferiority of immigrants in the united states. imgrants do not have the same level of cognitive ability as native born americans. "no one knows whether hispanics will ever reach i.q. parity with whites but the prediction that new hispanic immigrants will have low i.g. children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against." by 2010 that same guy was posting on white nationalist websites like "alternative right" which is a full-on white power, white supremacist website posting there saying "hispanics are substantially more likely than whites to commit serious crimes." "these findings are not due to age differences or immigration violations or other statistical artifacts." he called it simply the reality of hispanic crime. this guy's entire background,
his whole record of public output, what he brings to the table as a potential hire, is this idea that you can qualitatively rank human beings intellectually by race. >> you have jews with the highest average i.q. followed by east asians, hispanics, then blacks. >> that's of course the racial hierarchy of i.q. this is the guy who jim demint hired at the heritage foundation. specifically to have that guy crunch the numbers on whether immigration reform was a good idea. lo and behold, using this young man's formula which assumes nonwhite immigrants just racially don't have capacity to contribute anything to this country. lo and behold, when you use that formula, the study concludes that immigration reform is going to be darn expensive since these people inherently are just parasites. that heritage foundation report which said that immigration reform would, therefore, cost
something like $6 trillion turned out to be kind of a mathematical laughing stalk before people realized it was written by the white supremacist guy. when that emerged, the analyst at heritage under jim demint was allowed to quietly resign. so the question, not just today, but persistently for the modern republican party is, is this embarrassing? i mean, sometimes it's embarrassing to them, right, and sometimes it's not. the guy with the myspace page and happy "n" word day and the lynching photo, apparently that was embarrassing, more embarrassing than commander was, and he had to be fired. when the republic an senate majority leader in 2002 said the country would not have had all these problems over the years if he just elected a segregationist president when we had the chance with strom thurmond, that was embarrassing and he had to lose his job. in 2007 when ron paul was
running for president, in addition to everything else, the newsletters and all the rest of it, he got donations from the clan leader who founded storm front, the nazi white nationalist web forum. that apparently wasn't embarrassing. ron paul did not return those donations and quite avowedly did not feel bad about keeping them. in terms of today's rand paul news, dave weigel reports today the confederate flag mask wearing southern avenger guy, that guy, that reporting on him as a rand paul staffer is not likely to affect his standing or his job in rand paul world. the staffer in question told the "free beacon" today he does not stand by some of the most inflammatory things he said but he believes -- he said he believed in the past but avowedly stood by them back at the time rand paul was hiring him in the first place and having him write his book. so at the micro level there's this unresolved question in republican politics about whether overt confederate white supremacist stuff is
embarrassing. whether people should be able to hold those views and also be active in mainstream conservative politics and mainstream republican party politics. at the macro level, though, beyond those kind of staffing decisions, there's also the larger strategic question of what the republican party wants to be. could the, should the republican party be just the party of aggrieved white people? even to the extent that it may stray occasionally into confederate territory, in order to do that, do you want that in order to maximize every possible white vote you can get out of an electorate that is less and less white all the time? does the party want that? or does the party want to try to have any multiracial appeal at all? and that overall strategic question looms every day over everyday decisions that republican politicians have to make right now.
when the immigration reform bill got to the senate floor, 14 republicans in senate voted for it. there was all this pressure to have a big bipartisan bill on that vote so not only would it pass the senate but enough republicans would find their way to support it passing that it would look like both democrats and republicans, at least some republicans, could be unified around the idea that immigration policies should be driven by something at other than anti-immigrant animus. all the democrats are onboard, but only if some of the republicans could say yes enough to make it pass, maybe that would soften the party's image. that is how it got through the senate. but now with each passing day, it is looking less and less likely like it is going to get through the house because of republican opposition there. conservative media is essentially unified in telling republicans in the house they should not worry about trying to
appeal to hispanic voters or anybody else other than base voters back home in their districts. according to the "national review" today house republicans should put a stake through the heart of immigration reform. stop apologizing for who you are. let your freak flag fly. which side wins this argument? joining us now is my poor beleaguered friend, nicolle wallace, former director for the george w. bush administration, former senior adviser for the mccain/palin campaign. nicolle, apologize, but it's true. >> it's so awesome to come on ask mask guy, commando freak. next time if you could have a monkey on, it could just be better than all that. so you and i have talked a lot about george w. bush and my service to george w. bush and all the times we've come on. and i will always be proud to have worked for george w. bush, to have worked for the entire bush family. there is no issue on which he was more right than comprehensive immigration reform, and most recently, there was no statement that he uttered that was more wise, and i think a more important warning to the republican party than to do comprehensive immigration reform because it is the right thing to
do, not for political purpose. and when you head down the path, when you even leave the impression that, perhaps, your motive is political, this is what happens. you empower pundits and conservative talk show hosts who are powerful, like it or not, they are powerful in our world. but if your entire motive is political, then you hand them the power to influence the outcome. if your motive is to fix a problem -- let me just be clear. there is no more important political purpose for republicans than to show that we are competent and we can govern. so forget about what group benefits. we must show that we have competence because above all else, we're supposed to be the party that can fix things, that can do government better by making it smaller and smarter, more efficient. so this is an opportunity for republicans. this is an opportunity to show we can get the policy right. this is an opportunity to show
we are ruled by not just by political motive but by a desire to do the right thing. i reread his 2006 address to the nation where george w. bush made a call on -- it was on the congress, but it was really a call to his own party to stand with him and very few of them did. and that speech really laid out exactly where we are today in the senate bill. so marco rubio's office has built on all of the failures of our 2006 effort. they have put together a much better effort. they brought along the conservative sort of talking class as far as they can and to see it fall apart now would be a policy this disaster. the political consequences would be dire but they concern me far less than the consequences of getting the policy wrong and missing the opportunity to do the right thing. >> the pundits in the conservative media, on the conservative side were onboard. >> which was miraculous. >> it's over now. they've all flipped back. they really have. fox is against it. all the conservative talk show hosts are against it. while your arguments about how
george w. bush and other pro-immigration reform republicans have addressed this matter, including marco rubio to a certain extent are true, i remain fascinated by the arguments against. because the arguments against are really racist arguments. they're really about preserving the whiteness. >> you're talking about the political arguments. >> yeah. >> i really -- i -- i resent that politics were ever given any credit for being the motive for doing this. this shouldn't have been done because we were in a dire political -- that was never george w. bush's motive. >> a substantive argument is made about why we should do this. the argument back about why we shouldn't is an argument that has a really disturbing character. >> well some of them. i think you've highlighted the most disturbing ones. the argument to do this, you know, again, i've been in touch with senator rubio's office and the best argument for conservatives at a policy level who are uncomfortable with doing this is that the alternative is to leave 11 million people in the shadows. and forget that some of these people are serving in the military, that many of these people are important parts of
the fabric of the community. these aren't 11 million people living somewhere else. these aren't 11 million people not living in your state. these are 11 million people living in everybody's state. living in everybody's town. where if they get into a car accident, their motive, their incentive is to leave the scene because they're undocumented. this is a disservice to everybody. everybody in this country that thinks that allowing 11 million people to live in the shadows is the right thing to do. it's on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of this debate, whether republicans or democrats. >> why can't republicans better self-police about keeping the really overtly racist side of this argument at least under wraps? i mean, the problem with the jim demint thing is remarkable. jim demint, takes over, leaves the senate in order to become more powerful he thinks at heritage. brings on this guy really from the deep and dirty corners of the internet. you have to go to places where you're worried about the safety of your future online shopping adventures when you go find out this stuff. >> yeah. >> and really tried to make that
the centerpiece of the anti-immigration argument. among republicans. they're not arguing with democrats. this is an argument between republicans. >> it has been since 2006. >> ron paul, jim demint, really deep, dark stuff there persists and it's not going anywhere. >> and the only way to stamp it out is to shine a light on it, as you did quite expertly. and to prevail. i mean, george w. bush is going to attend a nationalization ceremony tomorrow. i was in contact with his office. and he's not trying to weigh in to the politics of this or the legislative process. he made a grander and a greater effort than anyone has in a very long time in 2005 and 2006. but i think that to line up behind marco rubio and the 13 other republicans who voted for it in the senate, to line up behind paul ryan who in the house has been extremely constructive, cares about comprehensive immigration reform, he has complete credibility with the most conservative republicans in our party and the most conservative
republicans in the house and, you know, the hope for people like me who care about the future of the republican party, doing the right thing and then reaping the political benefits after doing the right thing is that those voices will prevail. >> we'll see. it's going to be -- >> you're on it. masks, monkeys, and bands. >> next time there will be monkeys. >> there must be monkeys. >> nicolle wallace, you're a dear friend for doing this. former communications director for george w. bush, and former senior adviser for mccain/palin. it's great it have you here. thank you so much. we'll be right back. [ whispering ] uh! i had a nightmare! the house caught fire and we were out on the streets. [ whispering ] shhh. it's only a dream. and we have home insurance. but if we made a claim, our rate would go up... [ whispering ] shhh. you did it right. you have allstate claim rate guard so your rates won't go up just because of a claim. [ whispering ] are we still in a dream? no, you're in an allstate commercial. so get allstate home insurance with claim rate guard... [ whispering ] goodnight.
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to help support regularity! i want some... [ woman ] hop on over! [ marge ] fiber the fun way, from phillips'. december 19th, 1998, a date that will go down in u.s. history. >> the vote was in. william jefferson clinton has been impeached by the house of representatives on at least one article. it will go to the united states senate. >> december 19th, 1998, president bill clinton impeached in the house. after the house impeached president clinton, that's kind of like being indicted, having charges brought against you, it was on to the senate to see if he would be convicted of the charges. president clinton hanging in the balance surrounded himself with an "a" team of lawyers. president clinton survived that senate impeachment trial. what do you do for your second act after you help to save a
presidency? well, you help save the next presidency, too. it is not that weird in washington that some of the a-team of lawyers who helped keep president clinton in office in his impeachment scandal went on after that to help president bush and vice president cheney defend them in their -- defend themselves in their own political scandals. washington lawyering is sometimes partisan but not always. sometimes you're just the guy who gets the call, the guy who everybody calls when the rich and politically powerful are in really big trouble. when trouble strikes, the people in charge, trouble has this guy on speed dial. so yeah, now, trouble has struck again and that same lawyer who kept bill clinton from getting impeached, who got the call from vice president cheney, who got the call from president george w. bush, that same guy got the call again from a governor who's in really big trouble, and that story is coming up. [ karen ] did you lock the front door?
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the last thing i want is to feel like someone is giving me a sales pitch, especially when it comes to my investments. you want a broker you can trust. a lot of guys at the other firms seemed more focused on selling than their clients. that's why i stopped working at my old brokerage and became a financial consultant with charles schwab. avo: what kind of financial consultant are you looking for? talk to us today. i tthan probablycare moreanyone else.and we've had this farm for 30 years. we raise black and red angus cattle.
so when president bill clinton was impeached in the house in 1998, when they impeached him in the house and senate did not convict him, which is why he got to stay on as president. when all that was happening to the clinton presidency in 1998/1999, president clinton hired a lawyer named emmet t. flood to defend him. when vice president dick cheney and his chief of staff were sued by valerie plame wilson for leaking her identity and ending her career as an undercover cia operative, cheney hired for his defense that same lawyer, emmet
t. flood. when pressure was being put on the white house counsel's office, the man he chose to defend him against that steady stream of requests was same guy, emmet t. flood. there's a long nonpartisan history of politicians hiring high-end specialist lawyers to save them when things start to go south. for much of our nation's recent political history, the lawyer that the high and mighty have turned to when things seem to be headed not just south but for the very deep south is this handsome fellow emmet t. flood. the latest politician who had to make the dreaded call, get me emmet t. flood, is virginia's beleaguered governor ultrasound, bob mcdonnell. he's hired emmet t. flood to represent him in the federal and state corruptions that center on governor mcdonnell's acceptance of gifts and cash and merchandise for himself and his family. and you know, it is probably a good thing for governor mcdonnell right now he is
improving his legal representation since the lawyers he has had working for him are leading to news stories like this. "an attorney for governor bob mcdonnell on monday vigorously defended the governor against allegations his children had taken large quantities of food and household supplies from the governor's mansion to their college dorm rooms. but hours later governor mcdonnell's office released documents showing the governor on friday repaid the state nearly $2,400 for said items that his kids charged to the taxpayers that the lawyer said were no big deal. $2,400 of humus, hint of lime chips, toilet paper, body wash and deodorant items." "the roanoke times" has the list as gatorade, paper towels, laundry detergent, cold cuts, microwave foods, chips and energy shakes. from a health food store we're told the governor's lot at taxpayers' expense included a
digestive system cleanse, cherry flavored sleep elixir and variety of vitamins charged to the governor mansion's visa card. when the "washington post" reported in june on bob mcdonnell buying his digestive system gastrointestinal cleanse and making the taxpayer pay for it, he denounced it as false and misleading. he's quietly paying the state back while still insisting he's right to take it or insist his lawyer said he could have it without paying. now he's going to pay for it anyway, well, because now he has a really fancy expensive new lawyer giving him different advice? governor bob mcdonnell's term in office ends officially in january. smart bookmakers everywhere are taking bets on whether or not he makes it that far.
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tell your doctor right away if your mood worsens, you have unusual changes in mood or behavior or thoughts of suicide. anti-depressants can increase these in children, teens, and young adults. cymbalta is not for children under 18. people taking maois, linezolid or thioridazine or with uncontrolled glaucoma should not take cymbalta. taking it with nsaid pain relievers, aspirin, or blood thinners may increase bleeding risk. severe liver problems, some fatal, were reported. signs include abdominal pain and yellowing skin or eyes. tell your doctor about all your medicines, including those for migraine and while on cymbalta, call right away if you have high fever, confusion and stiff muscles or serious allergic skin reactions like blisters, peeling rash, hives, or mouth sores to address possible life-threatening conditions. talk about your alcohol use, liver disease and before you reduce or stop cymbalta. dizziness or fainting may occur upon standing. take the next step. talk to your doctor. cymbalta can help. this is pelican bay state prison.
it's located on 275 acres on the north coast of california. about 13 miles below the oregon border. pelican bay state prison is named for the shallow bay on the pacific coast that sits just a few miles west of this supermax prison facility. pelican bay as a prison is laid out in a pretty unique way. the grounds and operations of the prison are divided between two main compounds. the butterfly wing structure you see on top there, see it's two different sort of setups? butterfly setup you see on top houses half of pelican bay's 2,800 prisoners, the general population wing. prisoners are allowed to interact with each other and exercise in an open yard. the other half of the prisoners are locked up in the x shaped secure housing unit you see there at the bottom. everybody housed in that part of the prison, everybody there is in solitary confinement locked into 11 x 7 foot cells for 22 hours a day.
prisoners held there are allowed solitary very limited exercise in a cement yard that's known as the dog run. these guys are alone. that x-shaped secure housing unit at pelican bay is one of five secure housing units in the state of california. secure housing unit and the acronym is s.h.u., so they're called s.h.u.s. most prisoners in the s.h.u.s are in long-term isolation. at pelican bay most of the prisoners in solitary confinement have been there for at least five years. it was from that unit at pelican bay that last month a group of prisoners in solitary confinement put out a statement announcing that they would be going on an indefinite hunger strike. and yesterday the day of that planned hunger strike, prisoners from pelican bay were among 30,000 california prisoners who refused meals at the majority of the state's prisons. 30,000 people. yesterday was the first day in what the prisoners say will be an ongoing protest against long-term solitary confinement
in that state. that was yesterday in california. 30,000 prisoners starting a coordinated hunger strike that they say will go indefinitely. also, yesterday, at around the same time, a federal judge in washington, d.c., made a ruling on a hunger strike of a different kind. a hunger strike that is now going into its sixth straight month. since february, over 100 prisoners being held at guantanamo have been refusing meals in order to protest their ongoing open-ended detention. in response to that hunger strike, the military has decided to forcibly stop them from hunger striking. half the prisoners on hunger strike at guantanamo are now being force fed by u.s. navy doctors and nurses at the facility. and yesterday it was a federal district court judge who ruled against those prisoners. the prisoners had asked the court to intervene to stop the forced feedings. judge gladys kessler did not rule the forced feeding, itself, was legal or illegal but found her court lacked any legal
jurisdiction to get involved. any legal jurisdiction at all to end the forced feeding program at guantanamo. she wrote, "no court, justice or judge shall have jurisdictions to hear any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial or conditions of confinement of an alien who has been properly detained as an enemy combatant." courts are constrained by a lack of jurisdiction to rule on whether or not these prisoners should be forced to undergo a procedure that the judge calls a painful, humiliating and degrading process. degrading process. deemed degrading not only by this judge, but also as she points out in her ruling, by the medical profession. specifically the ama, the american medical association, the largest group of doctors and medical students in the country. they say that force feeding is in direct violation of the core ethical values of the medical profession. they say doctors shouldn't
participate in it. essentially the largest association of doctors in the country says that it is not possible for a doctor to act ethically as a doctor if you are also administering forced feeding at the direction of the government. another letter was sent to president obama by a group of over 150 doctors arguing that these military doctors at guantanamo bay are being put into a serious conflict of interest, essentially, with these orders to force feed the hunger strikers. they're asking that the prisoners receive independent medical assistance from medical professionals who do not have to take orders. for these medical professionals, what is happening at guantanamo bay twice a day, the forced feeding of prisoners protesting their own detention, it runs counter to ethics inherent to the medical profession. as this hunger strike continues, that sort of pressure from the medical profession continues to build along with it. and while the federal court ruling yesterday could not stop the force feeding from going forward, it very overtly acknowledged this growing worry and criticism from the medical
community. this judge also in this very short four-page ruling also did something very, very blunt. she put this whole issue into the lap of the one person who she says can act to change what is happening there. and announcing that her court essentially has no standing to rule on this case, this federal judge closed her ruling with this. she says "even though this court is obligated to dismiss the application for lack of jurisdiction, and therefore lacks any authority to rule on the petitioner's request, there is an individual who does have the authority to address the issue. the president of the united states as commander in chief has the authority and power to directly address the issue of forced feeding of the prisoners at guantanamo bay." in other words, president obama, the ball is now in your court. what happens next here? fast heaf and minty fresh breath. i'm the next american success story. working for a company where over seventy-five percent of store management started as fast heaf and minty fresh breath. hourly associates. there's opportunity here. i can use walmart's education benefits to get a degree, maybe work in it, or be an engineer, helping walmart conserve energy. even
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look at the current situation where we are force feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike. i'm willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it's worth being passionate about. is this who we are? is that something our founders foresaw? is that the america we want to leave our children? our sense of justice is stronger than that. >> president obama made those remarks in may, and that exact statement from president obama has now been quoted in a ruling
from a federal judge. the judge has stated in her ruling that president obama may be lamenting the fact that we are force feeding people at guantanamo, but president obama, alone, not the courts, but the president, alone, has the power to end that practice if it should be ended. is that true? joining us now is rosa brooks, she's a professor at georgetown law. she's a senior fellow at the new america foundation. professor brooks, thanks very much for being here tonight. it's nice to see you, rosa. >> good to see you, rachel. >> judge kessler says there is an individual who does have the authority to address this issue, in describing president obama. do you think that she is right in that? >> oh, absolutely. president obama is the commander in chief. it's the executive branch that's made a decision to resort to force feeding of detainees at guantanamo, and if president obama is extremely unhappy at that state of affairs, he can certainly change it.
>> in terms of the controversy surrounding this issue, obviously the judge is moved by the prisoners' pleas that this is something that is both demeaning and cruel. is there legal clarity on the issue of whether or not this is the appropriate policy, whether or not this is something doctors legally can do and this is something prisons ought to do? >> no, there isn't. there's a substantial difference of opinion, and i'm not entirely unsympathetic to the physicians at guantanamo bay who i think are in a difficult situation. i mean, i think one perspective is, look, we have an ethical duty to prevent these detainees from harming themselves. that they may be detained for a long time, maybe indefinitely, maybe not. we'll see in the future. but death is irreversible and we have an ethical duty to keep them safe even if that means force feeding them. on the other hand, you know, there's obviously a very compelling argument to be made, an argument with which, as you say, the american medical association agrees which is that if you have an adult who is not
mentally ill who says i do not -- i choose to -- i would rather starve than live out the rest of my life, potentially in these conditions when i've been cleared for release but can't be released, don't we have an ethical duty to respect that individual's wishes? i think it's a tough situation. i'm inclined on the side of if that's what they want to do, then we should respect that, myself. but i think it is a tough one. >> it is interesting when you hear the prisoners' advocates explain and hear sometimes from the prisoners, themselves, explaining why they chose to make this decision. they are tieing it very explicitly to the loss of hope, that their detention is going to be anything but indefinite. a loss of hope that anything might change that would clear up their futures. do you think that that affects both the strategic and the ethical consideration here. >> i think it does. i mean, i think that the argument for keeping someone alive against their will is obviously strongest when you can make an argument that that person is not of sound mind or
body. you know, that their untreated mental illness or something like that and things are going to get better for them. these people are saying, look, i've been here for 11 years in some cases. every indication could be i could be in this little cell for the rest of my life though the united states says i'm not dangerous, some cases i'm innocent, and i could be released. i'm stuck here. what a kafkaesque situation. to me, it seems pretty rational, frankly, a human being in that situation might say i would rather be dead. >> or take the most extreme possibility of protesting i could in order to dramatize my plight. >> you know, i was physically there during the president's speech, the speech that judge kessler quoted. in fact, i also was sitting directly in front of medea benjamin, the heckler he referred to when he talked about the young lady who interrupted him and i tried to slither down in my seat. i was there and i saw him.
i was there and i saw him and think he clearly on the one hand is constantly wrestling with this morally, it is weighing on his conscience, but i had the same reaction with the president, wow if that bothers you, you can with the stroke of a pen end that. >> and there is the broader framework in which it all fits in what was the major framework of the speech, which is the idea of closing guantanamo. the president has said clearly he wants to do that. he has not been able to do that because he has been blocked. what we have from the new initiative is that the president wants to appoint two new senior envoys, one from the state department, one from the pentagon. the state department has their, very capable guy who has already been to the prison. pentagon has not gotten around to appointing the envoy yet. i mean, you worked for the pentagon. is there resistance between the relationship of the political side and the military side on
this. >> no, i don't think so, i think that everybody in the executive branch wants guantanamo closed. i think it is hard to find somebody who will take this job, frankly. it is a thankless job with minimal likelihood of success. and i should add, to be fair to president obama, there is one political actor in this country who can easily change this if they feel like. and that is congress. the relationship that judge kesler referred to that deprived federal courts of the jurisdiction, was passed in 2006 by the u.s. congress. if congress wants to let the courts adjudicate those conditions they certainly could. and the legislation that makes it not impossible, but extraordinarily hard for the president to release even those into the united states, potentially, those detainees who have been found to present no
danger. that is also congress. this is a travesty that is very much of our own making in this country. and it is costing us a tremendous amount in terms of international legitimacy, and arguably, it is creating a risk of terrorist attacks than if we took the risk of releasing in a moderate way, these detainees. >> rosa, thank you very much for being here. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back. for their family. that's why i created the honest company. i was just a concerned mom, with a crazy dream. a wish that there was a company that i could rely on, that did all of the hard work for me. i'm jessica alba, and the honest company was my dream. [ male announcer ] legalzoom has helped a million businesses successfully get started, including jessica's. launch your dream at legalzoom today. call us. we're here to help.
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i spent 23 years as a deputy united states marshal and i've been pretty well banged up but the worst pain i've experienced was when i had shingles. when i went to the clinic, the nurse told me that it was a result of having had chickenpox. i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. on the front page of "the new york times" today, the front page, this bombshell of a story was dropped today without much warning. the united states may leave no troops in afghanistan. the united states considers faster pullout from the afghan war. the times is -- it would instead be the way we left iraq, which is all u.s. troops out, everybody home. that would be a really big deal
if that happened. this past december, the outgoing defense secretary leon panetta took a good-bye trip before he left office, before going home to whatever it is, his walnut orchard in california, or whatever. he accepted a good-bye speech. one master sergeant asked the secretary of defense a rather profound question that i have had tacked up on my office wall. the master sergeant said looking at the long-term plan, my understanding that the drawdown is not completely pulling out. so can we expect that five, ten years from now our children will still be serving that region of the world? and he said maybe, at the end of the longest war in american history, a war lasting 13 years, yeah, maybe, looking ahead, master sergeant, your kid may be serving in that stew, too. he told the master sergeant that
day, "we'll have an enduring presence that will continue in afghanistan." the size of that enduring presence will be something the president is going to be considering. but now, based on "the new york times" this morning if the size of that enduring presence will be zero, that would be a really big deal and a huge scoop for "the new york times," but where did they get that scoop from? is that true? the sourcing is attributed to sources in washington and kabul. is this story being handed to the times by the white house as sort of a trial balloon? is this the case of the obama administration trying to gauge the public on this potential big change in plans? is this scoop being handed to the times by somebody in the
administration who is fighting for this so-called zero option against resistance in the administration but they want to use the front page of "the times" as leverage, which is in favor of doing is this way? is the obama administration not really intending to move forward with the option at all, but maybe leaking it as a possibility for scaring the afghan government for a strategy? if that is the strategy it may be worth checking on whether or not we can all be sure that the idea of leaving troops in fashion may be more scary? everybody thought the iraqi idea was scary, too, but they were glad to see us go. we tried to scare them with that and they clapped. the times says they hold a range of views on how quickly the u.s. should leave afghanistan. so maybe it is not just one of those scenarios, it is a bunch of them mixed together. but this is a really big deal, particularly to the hundreds of
thousands of american families who have had somebody there in these past 12 years fighting. until we float this possibility it is hard to know how real a possibility it is. earlier, one chairman said he is assured by the administration officials that the time is wrong and there is no zero option under consideration. he said that officials have assured him that u.s. troops will stay in afghanistan after 2014. do you believe him and his anonymous sources or do you believe "the new york times" and their anonymous sources? and do you personally believe the united states should keep troops in afghanistan past the end of next year? past the year 13 of the war, and into the year 14 of the war and beyond all that? all of this floating may be designed to see what type of reaction the public will have. and the only people that think what is wrong with the afghanistan war is that it has not been long enough. this is the time for those folks to make their case, i look forward to hearing it.
now it is time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. today was a 13-hour court day in the george zimmerman trial. and tomorrow could be the last day of testimony. >> the defense in the george zimmerman trial continued outlining its case this morning. court is back in session in the george zimmerman trial. >> by calling a forensic pathologist. >> their third day of calling witnesses to the stand. >> to analyze the gunshot that killed trayvon martin. >> testimony has just wrapped up from a forensic pathologist. >> the defense turns to the forensic pathologist for the evidence of the shooting. >> the muzzle of the gun is against closing -- >> that is part of the firing process.