tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC February 26, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PST
a nation split down the middle and the 2000 presidential election could be a house divided once more. today's hot-button issues, constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. we're going to examine the cultural divide that could take center stage in this fall's election. will president bush's support on a ban be a key wedge issue? >> february 25th, 2004, exactly 10 years ago today after then-president george w. bush made one of the biggest domestic policy announcements of his first term. he'd been elected in 2000. he was in the throes of his re-election campaign already. and on february 24th, 2004, so 10 years ago yesterday, he appeared in the roosevelt room at the white house to make a statement to the american people. this was not a press conference. it was not a big event with an audience like presidents sometimes do. it was just him and a microphone. watch. >> we're going to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment
to protect marriage in america. an amendment to the constitution is never to be undertaken lightly. the amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern. and the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance. >> national importance. the president of the united states calling for the constitution of the united states to be changed in order to protect the nation from the threat of gay people getting married. he wasn't saying, like, congress should pass such and such a law or in my view, i think the state should do this on the matter or my personal view on the issue is this. he's saying as a nation, we should change the federal u.s. constitution to keep gay people in their place. now, the idea of this happening, the idea that 38 states would sign on to a constitutional amendment, it was sort of farfetched. right? but 2004 was an election year,
and in an election year, you do what you can do. and that year republicans across country were very united on the substance of this issue. in 11 states across the country, that election year in 2004, republicans used anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives to try to drive up voter turnout for republican candidates and for the president's re-election. all 11 of those states that voted on the issue that year, all 11, 11 out of 11, voted against gay rights and 9 of those 11 states that voted against gay rights voted for george w. bush for president while they were at it. and indeed, george w. bush was re-elected president. but before that election had happened, he had promised them while he was running for re-election, he had promised that he would go for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. vote for me and i will change the u.s. constitution to protect america from gay rights. once he did get re-elected, though, eh, he kind of forget that. nothing. never acted on it.
republicans never got their federal constitutional amendment that they maybe thought they were going to get. they maybe thought that's what they were voting for when they voted for george w. bush's second term. the bush white house and bush re-election campaign got what they want out of that issue, anyway. right? for republicans, campaigning against gay rights, campaigning against the threat of gay people having equal rights was something that united basically all republicans. it excited parts of the republican base and made them turn out to vote even if they might not otherwise. and it's an issue that divided some democrats. it was a perfect cultural wedge issue for an election year in 2004. and the republicans knew that that was an issue that worked in their favor. it won them elections. you put the threat of gay rights on the ballot anywhere in the country, you campaign against that threat, you win. all over the country. as of ten years ago, at least. now, though, now, maybe not so much. >> mounting pressure from john mccain to apple, concern to super bowl organizers.
a growing chorus calling on arizona's governor to veto a bill that would let businesses turn away gay customers. is her decision near? >> that was the top story in the country today. republicans under fire in the great state of arizona for passing a bill that would allow businesses to refuse to serve gay people as customers. republicans under fire in that state for that bill, even from some other republicans. ten years ago, there was not republican-on-republican fighting on this issue. ten years ago this was a straight-up winning unifying issue for republicans. day were not only united, they had popular support for anti-gay positions. they were happy to take these positions publicly and to be known for them anywhere in the country. ten years later, though, it's an open and really interesting political question. as to whether those sorts of positions represent both the past and the future of the republican party, or whether that stuff is just the past? the question is whether republicans will continue to be how they have been on these
issues. or are they going to leave that history behind? are they now going to change? open question. really interesting question. and today, in the news, that really interesting open question became very specific. because we are now officially on veto watch in arizona. as arizona's republican governor jan brewer decides whether to sign or veto a bill that was just passed by the republicans in the state legislature in arizona. stores could refuse to do business with customers who they believe to be gay. restaurants could refuse to serve you a peel if you're gay or they think you're gay. if the hotel clerk said something about doing business with you satellited their religious beliefs. any arizona business could put up a sign in their window that said we serve straight people only. on that bill, governor brewer has until saturday to make a decision. nbc reported earlier today that sources close to the governor says she's likely to veto the bill, but likely is no sure
thing. and while we're on veto watch in arizona, it turns out this is not just happening only in arizona. it's happening in other places, too. >> the arizona bill is on governor jan brewer's desk awaiting her decision on signing it or vetoing it. now a similar bill is under consideration in the georgia capitol. >> it's called the preservation of religious freedom act. this afternoon hearings in both the house and senate judiciary committees were held to debate house bill 1023. >> house bill 1023 would allow individuals, government employees to deny services based on religious grounds. >> so that's georgia. opposite side of the country. same thing going on. georgia republicans in both the georgia house and the georgia senate have introduced bills like the one in arizona, almost identical. which would allow businesses to discriminate. they said they wanted to do so because of their religious beliefs. both of those georgia bills were
debated in committee yesterday afternoon. the senate bill in georgia could reach the floor for a vote as early as tomorrow. and it's not even just arizona and georgia. turns out these bills are like the trendy new right-wing bill all around the country. in missouri, a republican state senator just yesterday introduced a bill that would allow missouri businesses claiming a religious objection to refuse to serve customers on that basis. in ohio, a bill like this has also been introduced there in the house. in nevada, a bill like this is making its way through pea. same story in idaho. a republican bill has been moved back to committee. republicans in oklahoma have proposed a bill like this. republicans in hawaii have proposed a bill like this. republicans in mississippi have already passed a bill like this through the state senate and it's now on the way to the mississippi house. republicans in utah are trying to pass this measure as an amendment. republicans in oregon are trying to get it on to the ballot. republicans are trying to pass legislation like this everywhere in the country and at lightning speed. so far, at least, though, it has
not yet worked. it's interesting, for a while it sort of seemed like these bills were going to pass everywhere, kind of under the radar. but in all the places where these bills have gone far enough to seem like they might become law, in all of the places where that's happened and they've attracted national attention, they have then gone away. it's like sunlight makes them fizzle up and die. earlier this month kansas republicans passed one of these bills by an overwhelming margin in the house, but then when it moved on to the state senate in kansas and a whole bunch of national headlines followed about what kansas was about to do, the bill in kansas was quickly killed before it even came to a vote in the senate. a few days later, wries of the nation descended upon the state of tennessee which was also takes up a bill like this. it looked like it had a good chance of passage. it started to get national attention and then the bill was abruptly delayed for a year by republicans in the state senate. the place that has gone the furthest thus far is arizona which is why right now all eyes
are on arizona to see if the republican bill there is going to pass or if it's going to meet the same fate as kansas and all the rest. republicans were really, really sure of themselves on this issue for a really long time. they knew campaigning against the threat of gay people having equal rights was great politics for them. sunlight made them grow. they wanted to be known for that in these issues. when they got national attention to their anti-gay fights they felt like it made them stronger, not weaker on this issue. being anti-gay used to unite republican politicians. it worked for them. it was a reliable vote getter. they used to put it on the ballot because they thought it would have coattails even in national elections. they used to know how well anti-gay politics worked for them all around the country. now, today, two questions. do republicans still think this can work for them the way it used to? and also, where did all these nearly identical discrimination bills come from all over the country, all at once?
joining us now is dana liebelson, reporter with "mother jones" magazine, doing great work covering these so-called religious freedom bills in arizona and georgia and around the country. thanks very much for being here. >> thanks for having any. >> you've been reporting on these bills popping up all across the country. are you able to tell where these are all coming from? or is everybody just having the same idea all at once? >> you know, it's funny, a lot of the different lawmakers are pointing to other lawmakers saying, hey, i got the idea from ohio, from tennessee. if you dig into this more, i think you find there's a lot of actually national conservative groups who are kind of working, pushing this legislation. in some cases even writing the legislation. and although we haven't found sort of one group that's behind all these bills, i think there's definitely a correlation. >> it seems just watching this from a national perspective, it seemed to me like kansas was the place that was most likely to pass it. there's been kind of a purge in
kansas legislature where they got rid of a lot of republicans who weren't on the conservative side of the republican party. obviously sam brownback has been a crusading anti-gay republican politician for all his time in public life. i thought kansas would do it. kansas balked and decided not to. arizona is very close. can you tell how close they are in georgia? are they likely to move it as far as arizona has? >> sure. well, i think with the arizona bill at first people didn't really realize what the arizona bill did because it doesn't specifically say anything about same-sex couples the way the kansas bill does. however, as people sort of look more into the language of the bill in arizona, they realize it can be used to sort of justify any kind of discrimination. so once we saw what happened with arizona, i think when the georgia bill came around, it got national attention much quicker and, you know, last i heard one of the representatives who introduced that bill in kansas was, i mean, in georgia was thinking of offering amendments to it to make it less discriminatory. >> in terms of the overall idea of, like, the title of these
bills and the ways they're being marketed, a lot of states have bills explicitly protecting religious freedom on the books above and beyond, of course, the federal constitutional protections for religious freedom that we all enjoy. the idea of doing this through state legislation isn't a brand new legal concept. what is it about these laws that is novel? what is different about these new measures? >> right, so people who defend these bills say, hey, there's nothing new to see here. these are the same old religious freedom restoration acts we've always had. in fact, the bills we've seen proposed in the last couple months have this very distinct provision where they allow people and in some cases like the case in arizona, businesses to use religion as a defense in a private lawsuit. so to give you an example of how that might play out, you know, let's say you live in a state where it's illegal to fire someone because they're gay. now, if one of these bills passes, that company could turn around and say, oh, hey, i think homosexuality is a sin, therefore i'm going to fire you and i don't need to abide by this law.
so, you know, that lawsuit provision is a big deal. >> i know in some of the cases, in some of the states where they've been considering this, the lawsuit provision works in such a way not only can you not sue somebody for discriminating against you, but if you do, you have to pay their legal fees as well as your own so it's almost a punishment for even complaining about being discriminated against. it's fascinating stuff and fast-moves story. dana liebelson, reporter for "mother jones." nice to see you. >> thanks for having any. the federal prosecutor's investigation of the george washington bridge scandal in chris christie's new jersey has taken a turn today. we've got that story ahead. john wisniewski is here as well. and there's something that's about to be big news concerning the fbi. that's coming up tonight in a big story that we've got ahead. it's right at the end of the show. you will not see it anywhere else. we've got a big hour ahead tonight. please stay with us. oh, but first, "one more thing." on veto watch out of arizona.
as we await word on whether or not arizona governor jan brewer will sign that state's discriminate against gay people it's okay with us bill, well tonight, delta air lines became the latest company to put out a statement condemning the legislation in arizona. delta air lines now joining americanairlines, southwest airlines, apple, intel, verizon, at&t, along with both of arizona's professional basketball teams, the nba's phoenix suns and the wnba's phoenix mercury. all of these organizations are now coming out publicly and saying please veto this bill. will governor jan brewer listen? veto watch continues. stay with us. we'll be right back. fortunately, you've got listerine®. unlike brushing which misses 75% of your mouth, listerine® cleans virtually your entire mouth. so what are you waiting for? it's time to take your mouth to a whole new level of health. listerine®... power to your mouth™.
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absent of bilateral security agreement, you know, is the military leader as our country, i can't ask young men and women to serve in a country without the protections afforded by a bilateral security agreement. >> but this is -- you indicated earlier, this is not something you really want to do. >> meaning? >> withdraw. >> no. absolutely not. >> would it feel like a loss or defeat? would you feel defeat? >> no. i would not. i mean, i think i can speak for those who have served in afghanistan. just as we did in iraq. i, you know, the young men and women who served in iraq and are now serving in afghanistan have
accomplished their mission. they have set back al qaeda in very significant ways. they have built an institution, the afghan security forces, that can, given the proper political structure around them in afghanistan, sustain a stable platform in that country. but, you know, we can't deliver a political outcome, and so i don't consider it in any way a defeat for the united states military, if, in fact, we don't achieve a bilateral security agreement. >> that's the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in an interview with nbc's jim miklashevski today while en route to afghanistan. that was them on the plane. general dempsey saying there he does not personally want u.s. troops to totally withdraw from afghanistan, but if there isn't a signed agreement between our government and the afghan government about u.s. troops staying on, then all u.s. forces will leave. this year. the chairman saying today that
after 13 years of that war, u.s. troops accomplished their mission in afghanistan and it would not be a defeat to leave. something really specific seems to have led to today's big news about the war and the end of the war. this is defense secretary chuck hagel. this is him last october in brussels at nato headquarters. he was there meeting with all the other people who have his same job and all the other nato countries. it was the meeting of the nato defense ministers. at that meeting late last year, defense secretary chuck hagel told all the other defense secretaries in nato that by the next time they all got together, the u.s. and afghanistan would likely have signed a deal to arrange for some number of u.s. troops to stay on in afghanistan even after the nominal end of the war this year. he told the other defense ministers when we next meet in february, we expect that by then the president of afghanistan will have signed this deal. well, that next meeting in february is tomorrow. tomorrow chuck hagel is meeting
again with all of those other defense ministers from all the other nato countries. the next meeting is tomorrow and the president of afghanistan has not signed that deal even though the u.s. had told those defense ministers we expected that by now it would be a done deal. it seemed like the afghan president was going to sign it. the deal was finalized and put in writing in november. the afghan government convened a loya jirga for all the tribal elders in afghanistan to weigh in on it and resoundingly said the afghan president should sign that deal. the afghan president has not signed that deal so now chuck hagel is going back to brussels. he's going back to meet with these defense ministers tomorrow and there's no deal like he said he thought there would be. and if there is no deal to keep u.s. troops there after the end of this year as the chairman of the joint chiefs said to jim miklashevski today, if there is no deal, there will be no u.s. troops in afghanistan come january 1st. the white house double underlined that saying we cannot and will not have troops on the ground without a signed deal.
the president, himself, apparently triple underlined that today in a direct one-on-one phone call with hamid karzai, president of afghanistan, after which the white house released this statement. frankly, if you're used to reporting on this longest war in american history, this is kind of a breathtaking thing to see. look. the president asking the pentagon today to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the united states not keep any troops in afghanistan after 2014. this does not mean for sure that every single american service member will be gone from afghanistan by january 1st. but it means that that is now a possible outcome. the u.s. military will now plan logistically to make that a realistic option. that is no small feat given we have been there in numbers as high as 100,000 strong plus innumerable contractors for the length of time that it takes to
raise a teenager. getting out of afghanistan after being there so long is, itself, a significant military and logistical undertaking. today president obama ordered that the planning begin for the number of u.s. troops in afghanistan to drop over the next 9 months from 34,000 where it is right now to zero, no looking back. now, the pentagon is also planning for other options, for the options of not just leaving zero troops there but the options of leaving anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 troops there as a residual force. karen deyoung in the "washington post" pointed that out this week. it's possible there will be a residual force. part of the planning there. as chuck hagel flies off to brussels and the chairman of the joint chiefs flies off to bagram and the president calls hamid karzai directly and the statement goes out from the white house today that no agreement between us and afghanistan on troops staying means the zero option is alive and in play. with all of that happening right now, the possibility of the
new jersey. new critical piece of information about where federal prosecutors are looking for criminal wrongdoing in that scandal. also the man in charge of new jersey's legislative investigation into the scandal and the christie administration's role in it is going to be joining us next. and still ahead tonight, a story that you will not hear anywhere else, but it's about to become a big deal for the fbi. it's a story that is both spooky and it is about to be a big national story and you are going to hear it first here. that's ahead. stay with us.
little ft. lee, new jersey, and its mayor mark sokolich have been at the center of the bridge lane scandal involving the chris christie administration from the very beginning. it was not until yesterday we learned ft. lee mayor mark sokolich met with federal prosecutors as part of their criminal investigation into the christie scandal. it's never clear what's going on in any formal criminal investigation until there's an indictment or some other public explanation of what prosecutors have been doing. by design it's a mysterious process. but the news before now about the u.s. attorney's investigation into the bridge scandal had made it seem like
maybe that investigation was focusing not so much on the bridge. maybe it was focusing more on the allegations about how the christie administration has dolled out hurricane sandy relief money and whether or not the allocations have been based on something other than need, whether they've been based instead on politics. we knew, for example, that the federal prosecutors office, the u.s. attorney's office and fbi agents had interviewed town employees in hoboken, new jersey, as well as the mayor of hoboken, about that mayor's claims that she was essentially shaken down by members of the christie administration. told that her town wouldn't get additional sandy relief funding unless she approved a for-profit development in hoboken that was favored by some reason by the christie administration. so we knew that federal prosecutors were looking into that. we knew that federal prosecutors had conducted interviews on at least those sandy funding allegations. interestingly, we also had statements from two of the figures who were directly involved in the bridge lanes
shutdown. david weinstein and bridget kelly. we had statements from both of their lawyers that they had not yet been subpoenaed by the federal prosecutors. okay. so if they're not getting subpoenas but hoboken is, does that mean that the federal criminal inquiry was not looking at the bridge lanes and was instead looking at sandy funding and other parts of the scandal? no. it turns out because now we know that federal prosecutors have also interviewed the mayor of ft. lee. of course, whose town was turned into a parking lot by those bridge lane closures. so overall, we're not going to know until they tell us what exactly is happening with the federal criminal investigation into what happened in new jersey. but now at least we know that they're talking to ft. lee as well as talking to officials in hoboken. that's what we know about what's happening with the federal prosecutors side of this. what's happening with the state side of it? what's happening with the state legislative investigation into this scandal? joining us now is new jersey assemblyman john wisniewski, co-chair of the legislature
select committee that's investigating the bridge closure and related matters. mr. chairman, nice to see you. >> rachel, good it be here. thank you. >> i know you are not involved at all in the federal prosecutor's investigation into what the u.s. attorney is doing, but do you have any comment on the fact or any reaction to mayor sokolich meeting with the u.s. attorney on friday it. >> i think what it says is the u.s. attorney's office is doing their due diligence. there have been lots of allegations swirling around what mayor sokolich said and what happened in ft. lee. so i think they're talking to the source. they're talking to the person who first raised the argument that this was being done for political retribution in his letter that was sent off during that bridge closure. major sokolich made that allegation, so i think they're doing their due diligence. to what end? neither you or i could really understand what they'll do, as you pointed out until they actually decide to do something with it. >> i know that your special counsel who's advising your side
of the investigation has met with the u.s. attorney's office and has talked about making sure that these two investigations, your own and the federal criminal one, don't step on each other's toes. is it clear to you what you have to do to avoid impeding any sort of potential federal criminal prosecution here? >> well, i think reid schar, a former u.s. attorney out of chicago has a very good understanding of how they're going to operate. and as a consequence, what we need to do to make sure we're not impeding or interfering with their investigation in any way. he's very confident in the way that we're proceeding. he's not interfering with anything that they've got planned. and we're going to continue to seek his advice and counsel as we move forward, but obviously we do not want to do anything that's going to impede a federal law enforcement investigation into any aspect, whether it's the bridge or any other issue. >> i know that you are still reviewing and still receiving documents related to the last round of subpoenas -- >> thousands of pages. >> are they still -- do you know when you will have them all? in terms of what extensions
people have asked for? >> i think that we'll know at some point. we're getting documents produced on a rolling basis. >> uh-huh. >> so every couple days we'll get some more in. so it's hard for me to say now that we're at 10% or 50% or 75%. at some point in time, those people who are delivering them on a rolling basis will say, you've got everything now, and then we'll really go into the issue of have we gotten everything? are there privilege issues that they've raised or are there redactions that might be in the documents that we want to check into? so we won't know until we're further down the road. but it's a very time consuming process. there's literally thousands of pages of documents. some which may be of interest and some which clearly are responsive because they mention george washington bridge. they mention ft. lee. but other than that, really have no bearing on the investigation. >> so how do you manage, as co-chair of the investigation,
how do you manage the work flow? do you read stuff as they come in? as things come in? does the special counsel sort of organize the reading of it and show you things that you ought to see? how does it work? >> i'm pretty particular about how this happens, and so i know the u.s. -- i know reid schar is looking at the documents. i make sure i look at them all so i have a firsthand understanding of what's going on, what's coming in, what's not yet in which is probably just as important. >> on the matter of david samson, specifically, you told "star-ledger" after reviewing some of the documents you've received so far from david samson, you say he's intimately involved in the operations at the port authority. he's the chairman of the port authority. the "new york daily news" called for him to be fired. the executive director of the port authority today said that david samson in his opinion does not have the moral authority to stay on in -- >> i read that. >> -- his role as chairman. what did you mean when you described him as intimately involved in operations? why is that important?
>> when we first looked at the documents that were made part of the committee's record when david wildstein testified, we saw some references where chairman samson sent an e-mail, essentially expressing his frustration, anger at pat foye, having talked about this issue of the lane closure. then there's another e-mail that says samson's going to help us retaliate. i think the documents that have come in subsequently shows an individual who's involved in the day-to-day details of the port authority. clearly this was one of the operations of the port authority, albeit one that was done improperly or perhaps, you know, not proper motive. so it really raises the question of exactly how much did he know about this operation? how much did he know about the planning? how much was he involved in the preparation of the story that bill baroni gave to the transportation committee? >> are you finding that chairman samson was in close communication with the governor's office or with other top officials in the christie administration? >> well, i think one of the things i've noticed is the port
authority no longer was really an independent agency. it seem to be being an adjunct, a desk in the office. it's troubling because this agency is not supposed to be a captive of any one state's governor's office. it takes it to a different area of accountability when you have that happen. >> accountability should go both directions. >> absolutely. we need greater accountability in this agency. that's the only way this will be stopped in the future. >> john wisniewski. co-chair of the select committee investigating the bridge closure. more to come. stay with us.
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do you personally dislike homosexuals? >> of course. they're disgusting. what sorts of people are they? how can you go -- i don't -- i never knew what they were doing. what they do is terrible. disgusting. but i was willing to ignore that if there was proof that how he's born, abnormal. but now the proof is not there. >> that was the president of uganda speaking yesterday right after he signed the kill the gays bill for that country which is a matter we've been watching ever since american anti-gay
evangelical activists suggested that law to ugandan legislators in 2009. after we covered that bill for so long, it looked like it was gone for a long time, but the bill came back and it was, in fact, signed into law yesterday. now, though, it is no longer a kill the gays bill. it's just a jail the gays for life bill or jail the gays for life law now in uganda. last week president obama cautioned the ugandan government if president museveni signed the law, it would complicate the united states' relationship with the country. now that he's gone ahead and signed it, it's a burning question as to whether or not anything is going to change between the united states and uganda including how much foreign aid we give them. u.s. foreign aid to that country is $485 million in this current fiscal year according to the state department. today in congress, there was a move toward answering that burning question about what happens next when the chairman of the senate judiciary committee patrick leahy said he
would oppose any further aid to the ugandan government. he said, "until the united states has undergone a review of our relationship." secretary of state john kerry did say yesterday the u.s. would begin an internal review of our relationship and engagement with uganda including assistance programs. meanwhile the "wall street journal" reports other countries are not waiting. norway, denmark and the netherlands announced they'll withhold further aid to the nation of uganda because of this issue. it was a big deal when hillary clinton gave her human rights day speech in 2011 when she said for the united states, gay rights are human rights and our country will consider gay rights issues when dealing with other countries around the world from this point forward. but that speech was not just a big deal for hillary clinton as a figure in american politics. hillary clinton as a potential political candidate. she was speaking as secretary of state and that was a big deal for u.s. foreign policy. what we're seeing right now,
today, is a test of whether or not that was just talk or whether that is the new u.s. foreign policy and what happened in uganda is actually going to have consequences. whether something's actually going to happen. watch this space. [ male announcer ] this one goes out to all the congestion sufferers
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to pick somebody in uh to run the fbi for the next ten years, he picked a republican. james comey is a republican. he was the number two official in the justice department. but in that job, he was not, if not a dissenter, someone who would stand up when something seemed wrong. he's the story of literally racing through washington, racing to the hotel room of john ashkroft to try to stop alberto gonzalez from trying to get john ashkroft to sign off on one of dmes inbush's surveillance programs while ashkroft was in intensive care profoundly ill and in his hospital bed. james comey raced across washington to john ashkroft's bedside and arrived there just minutes before alberto gonzalez in an effort to protect the attorney general. here's how he later told the story.
>> i told my security detail i needed to get to george washington hospital immediately. they turned on emergency equipment and drove very quickly to the hospital. i got out of the car and ran, literally ran up the stairs with my security detail. >> what was your concern? you were in obviously a huge hurry. >> i was concerned that given how ill i knew the attorney general was that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that. >> right. okay. >> i was worried about him, frankly. so i raced to the hospital room, entered and mrs. ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed. mr. ashcroft was lying down in the bed. i immediately began speaking to him trying to orient him as to time to place and to try to see if he could focus on what was happening. it wasn't clear to me that he could. he seemed pretty bad off. >> that's james comey talking
about his time in the justice department under president george w. bush. that was how he earned a national reputation for being a guy who wouldn't just go along to get along. right? that's how he earned his reputation for being willing to do the right thing even when it meant bucking authority, in this case, bucking alberto gonz lens and andrew card and taking a very politically difficult stand within the administration. thanks in part to that reputation that he earned under the previous administration, james comey was nominated last year and then confirmed last year to be the head of the fbi, the head of the federal bureau of investigation. and now the federal bureau of investigation has a problem. "the new york times" a few months ago used the freedom of information act to pry loose these records of the fbi. records about the 70 people who fbi agents shot and killed over a roughly 20-year period. from 1993 to 2011, fbi agents shot and killed 70 people and shot and wounded 80 people. so 150 shootings altogether. and every one of those
instances, the shooting was reviewed by the fbi itself internally. and in every one of those instances, all 150 of those shootings, the fbi determined that the shooting was justified. 70 people killed, 80 people wounded. 150 people in total shot by fbi agents. every single one of them ruled by the fbi to be a justified shooting. they're 150-0. they're batting 1.000. and maybe fbi agents are angels. or maybe god has assigned individual perfect angels to guide every single bullet ever fired by an fbi agent. ever. so that those bullets only ever go exactly where they want to belong every time. but the fact is that no one else really reviews fbi shootings other than the fbi itself, other than this internal review board. they're federal agents, right? nobody prosecutes them for shooting people. nobody .looks into their shootings, except the fbi itself. and unless you believe in the perfect theory of fbi angel
bullets, you better believe something is wrong at the fbi. even when games are rigged they do not go 150-0. that's not a real record. that's not actually found in nature. nobody is sfoezed to be above the law in this country, even the fbi. and there is something wrong, something obviously wrong with the way we are handling fbi shootings, if every one ever reviewed in the last 20 years has been ruled justified. in january, fbi director james comey announced the bureau had completed its shooting review in this man's death. he was shot while being questioned by the fbi and other law enforcement authorities back in may. i'm going to show you a couple of photos which i warn you are a little graphic and might be disturbing. but from these photos taken of that young man's body in the morgue, it appeared he was shot seven times including once in the top of the head. law enforcement officials have said that the man was himself unarmed when the fbi shot and killed him. and although the fbi's report on
this man's shooting is reportedly ready to go, according to james comey, he says the report on that shooting has been completed. it still has not been released. the fbi even blocked the county medical examiner from releasing the autopsy report in this case, even though it was completed and ready to go. and again, these images are graphic, i'll warn you again. but the reason we have to count these bullet holes again in order to try to figure out what happened here is because the fbi won't let that autopsy report be released. the county is happy to release it. the fbi is stopping them from doing so. the reason we have those photographs taken from a morgue because a friend of the dead man took those photos himself when he went to identify the body and then he brought the photos to the dead man's father. and it was the dead man's father who then released the photographs publicly, demanding answers about why the fbi had shot and killed his son. why he had to get shot apparently seven times including the top of the head, when he himself was unarmed. and that is where the story goes from sort of weird and worrying
to intensely weird and worrying. because the man who was killed by the fbi in this condo in orlando, florida, he was an immigrant from russia. he was living here legally. but his family is still in russia. and when he died, his family held his funeral in russia. and the friend who had identified his body in the morgue and took those photos in the morgue to give to the man's father, he attended the funeral in russia. he left the u.s. to go to the funeral in russia. even though he's legally allowed to travel in and out of the united states, after that funeral, he was not allowed back into this country. the dead man's girlfriend is also an immigrant from russia. after interviewing repeatedly, the fbi had her locked up in an immigration detention facility in florida and then had her deported to russia, even though federal immigration officials say that she was here in this country legally and should not have been deported. another one of the dead man's friends was an immigrant from tajikistan. the fbi searched out and found an old case that stepped from a verbal argument in a bar fight.
they sought out a man and asked if he would please like to press charges. the man agreed to press charges at the fbi's request and bingo, that's what they wanted. that allowed the fbi to have that guy from tajikistan arrested and put into jail. the charges about the argument h ehad been in were flimsy at best, dropped within a month. but it didn't matter, during the month they put the guy in jail, his visa expired and he missed a court date to appeal to extend it. they never let him out of jail, they just deported him out of this country back into tajikistan. so the dead guy is dead, shot by the fbi under questioning, himself unarmed but parentally shot seven times while in the presence of multiple law enforcement agencies. so the dead guy is dead, his girlfriend and his two friends who were also questioned by the fbi on the same matter have all now very quickly been deported
or kept out of this country since the fbi killed the guy. and the fbi still says oh, no word on what happened here. the dead man in this case is ibrahim totachev. the other details were printed in "boston magazine." boston has an interest in this case because a friend with one of the boston bombers. there's question whether these men may have also been involved in a triple murder two years before the boston marathon was bombed. if that triple murder in the boston suburbs had been solved before the marathon, could the bombing have been prevented? should the guy who allegedly orchestrated the marathon
bombing have already been in jail if that triple murder had been solved? but in the wake of the marathon bombing and the wake of that high profile case, did the fbi botch the questioning of an unarmed man connected to the main suspect in the marathon bombing? did they then prevent the release of information on his shooting and then deport everyone who could conceivably talk about it? and will the fbi under this new director exonerate itself again in this shooting the way they have exonerated themselves in the 150 shootings before this one? will they even let us know one way or the other? and how on earth does anyone around the world or any of us here at home look at what we know about this case so far and say that the idea of innocent until proven guilty applies to everyone in this country, even to emigrants. this is going to be a new investigatory piece, which is going to put a hot national spotlight on this story. the fbi told us the release is now in the hands of the department of justice. so yes, we're waiting on fbi director jim comey and his reputation for doing the right thing even when it's hard. but if this is now in the hands of the justice department, we're also now waiting on attorney general eric holder.
this story has not yet been the focus of a lot of national attention, but it's about to be. finally. good wednesday morning, everybody. right now on first, major recall. general motors is facing an expansive recall for a faulty ignition switch found in well over a million cars. and it's also being linked to 13 deaths. tarking her time. arizona governor jan brewer isn't rushing to veto an anti-gay bill. lucky dog, a california couple walking their dog finds gold rush coins worth over $10 million. plus the number of people with health care goes up, while the number of overweight kids goes down. and the first reports of taxes raised pr the sale of legal marijuana are in. we have