tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC September 5, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
and we still continue to have. so that is one of the reasons that this is important, that this has happened. >> katie, tracy, and jordan, thank you all very much for joining us good evening from washington, d.c. i'm chris hayes. my exclusive interview with secretary of state john kerry in a moment. and his response to a troubling new video obtained by "the new york times" which shows the moments leading up to the brutal execution of seven syrian government soldiers at the hands of syrian rebels. these are images which seem to buttress fears about what kind of rebels might be emboldened if the united states is to take military action against the government of syrian president bashar al assad. according to the "times" the video was smuggled out of syria a few days ago by a former rebel who became disgusted by the execution.
we would like to warn our viewers that this edited video, while not showing the execution, may be disturbing. in the video, the rebel leader, known as the uncle, recites a verse, translated by the "times." vows avenge against president assad and his allies. the seven prisoners are purportedly syrian government soldiers stripped of their clothes. the video was shot in april. in a portion of the video not shown here, the rebel leader executes the first with a shot to the head and the other gunmen killed the remaining prisoners. the rebel leader believes the government of president assad's father was responsible for killing his father in a 1982 government crackdown. further information about these rebels only makes the situation more troubling. the rebel group which boasts about 300 members has taken the name it shares with three international terrorist groups according to the "times." the leader has reportedly told fighters he wants to exterminate
the minority islam ic sect. further reminder that the syrian civil war is a mess of sectarian as well as secular interests. today secretary of state john kerry told me how he felt about being the public face of the obama administration's push for a u.s. military strike, and his reaction to the bush era characters of the iraq war. donald rumsfeld and others criticizing this administration. first i asked him about "the new york times" video. mr. secretary, thank you for making the time today. i appreciate it. >> happy to be with you. >> there's a shocking video by "the new york times" posted today. it's syrian rebels executing captured assad soldiers, gunshot to the back of the head, naked. if the u.s. attacks syria, do those men in those videos become by definition our ally? >> no. in fact, i believe that those men in those videos are disadvantaged by an american
response to the chemical weapons use because it, in fact, empowers the moderate opposition. we all know there are about 11 really bad opposition groups, so-called opposition. they're not -- they're fighting assad. they're not part of the opposition that is being supported by our friends and ourselves. that is a moderate opposition. they condemn what has happened today. and they are -- and we are busy separating the support we're giving from any possibility of that support going to these guys. >> how confident can we be, though, that that support can be cordoned off or quarantined in any way? >> it has been. there's a very careful vetting process that's taking place where people have to come out of syria. they spend a period of time. they have trained appropriately after being vetted. and then they go back in and the turks, the jordanians, the
qataris, saudis, emirates are involved. there are jihadists attracted to the chaos of syria. most importantly, chris, we're not remotely talking about getting america involved directly in between any of those forces. the president is not talking about assuming responsibility for syria's civil war. what the president is trying to do, and what we believe is important to america's national security interests and to humanitarian interests and to the interests of israel and jordan and lebanon and all of our friends in the region, is that you hold bashar al assad responsible for use of chemical weapons and that you degrade his ability to use them again and deter him from using them again. that's what's really important here. that's all that we're talking about in this. >> so i think the part of the
confusion or trepidation from folks is aside from that, what is the syria policy the day after the missiles land? is it the u.s. policy that we want the rebels to win? >> the u.s. policy is that we want assad to leave office through the geneva communicate process that's already been agreed on which the russians have signed up to. whereby there is a transition government put in place with a mutual consent of the opposing parties. that means the assad regime has to agree. the opposition has to agree. and that is the negotiation that russia and the united states have joined in mutually supporting to take place in geneva. but you can't get there while assad is in the state of belief that he is able to gas and massacre the people of syria into defeat. he will not negotiate. now, that's not the calculation of what the president has proposed in the military strike
he is seeking to get authorization for. that is specifically to enforce the international norm, almost a century old now, that came out of world war i out of the horrors of world war i whereby 189 nations have signed an agreement that we will not use chemical weapons in warfare. and bashar al assad joins with adolf hitler and saddam hussein as being somebody who has crossed that line. we are trying to enforce the international norm against that behavior, and that's all that this military strike seeks to do. >> in terms of the longer tragedy, though, you invoked hitler and saddam hussein before. i think there's confusion about how can this be a case if this is a munich moment, dealing with someone like that and there's a
democratic -- if this is a murderous thug criminal, what possible negotiated settlement can there be with him? >> the russians that are supported him, iranians and others have suggested that you could have an agreed upon settlement whereby you have a transition government, because it's in everybody's interest to preserve the state of syria and to have stability restored to the region with a peaceful transition. now, how do you achieve that if the parties, themselves, are unwilling to come to the table? you know, in the case of -- i don't want to go to other cases. let me just say that very simply, the president is not asking congress to authorize him militarily to engage in that transition. he wants to enforce the almost century-old prohibition against the use of weapons. would have some downstream impact on assad's military capacity? sure, but the purpose of that is to exclusively deal with chemical weapons. then, day after. the president is supporting,
united states is supporting the moderate opposition as are many friends of ours. france, england, others. many in the region are supporting the moderate opposition as they battle for the future of syria that will be democratic, free, and protecting all minorities. now, that is a fight that will go on for some period of time without the united states of america being engaged in the that fight directly. >> if we strike, if we strike assad, what happens if he uses chemical weapons? it seems we have then permitted ourself to an escalated punitive -- >> i disagree. first of all, let me make this clear. the president, and this is very important, because i think a lot of americans, a lot of your listeners, a lot of people in the country, are sitting there and saying, oh my gosh, this is going to be iraq, this is going to be afghanistan, here we go again. i know this. i've heard it.
and the answer is, no, profoundly, no. you know, senator chuck hagel, when he was senator, senator chuck hagel, now secretary of defense, and when i was a senator, we opposed the president's decision to go into iraq, but we know full well how that evidence was used to persuade all of us that authority ought to be given. i can guarantee you i'm not imprisoned by my memories of or experience in vietnam. i'm informed by it. i'm not imprisoned by my memory of how that evidence was used. i'm informed by it. so is chuck hagel. and we are informed sufficiently that we are absolutely committed to not putting any evidence in front of the american people that isn't properly vetted, properly chased to ground, and verified, and we are both convinced that what we are putting before the american people is in the security interests of our country and it will not lead to some further engagement. there will be no american boots on the ground.
this is not iraq. this is not afghanistan. this is not even libya. this is a very limited, targeted effort to reduce. to answer your question, what happens if, again? the authorization we are asking to allow for the opportunity so that assad knows, use it again, then you could get hit again. our belief is that will not happen. that assad will not strike back. he hasn't struck back once again israel when israel held him accountable for the use of certain missiles or preparation of the use of certain missiles. we're quite confident the russians and iranians fully understand the limitations of this potential action with respect to chemical weapons. and both of them have condemned the use of chemical weapons. >> isn't assad fighting for his life? he saw what happened to gadhafi. he knows -- >> he is fighting for his life, but that fight for his life is a fight that will be related to the opposition and to the days ahead in which the united states will not be on the ground and will not be engaged. our effort is to -- is to
preserve this international norm regarding the prohibition on the use of these terrible weapons. people saw the other day, chris, in this horrible scenes in the social media, of these children who were snuffed out at night in their sleep. parents, grandparents, everybody, killed by gas, by something that the world has condemned and said we will not use. now, if we don't stand up to that, together with the people who are prepared to stand up with us, and there are many, and the french are prepared to, and others in the middle east are prepared to, and our friends in turkey and others and poland and other places in the world. if we have more people prepared to stand up today and join the united states, than actually we could use in the limitations of this kind of action. if we don't do this, assad will have the message he can use these weapons with immunity. we will have turned our back on the next back of children, next back of parents. we will have turned our back on the international norm, lost credibility in the world and i guarantee you if we turn our backs today, the picture we all
saw in the paper today and the media of those people being shot, that will take place more because more extremists will be attracted to this because they will be funded as the only alternative in order to take on assad. >> quick clarification about that video. "the new york times" has posted on update to their piece on the video showing rebels executing syrian soldiers saying the video was made in the spring of 2012, not april 2013. coming up, more of my exclusive interview with secretary of state john kerry. we talked about how he feels about being the public face of this intervention and what it's like to be criticized by the architects of the iraq war. donald rumsfeld has said your leadership on this issue, the president's leadership has been feckless.
you have seen architects of the iraq war from the bush administration coming out and criticizing the administration, criticizing the policy. how do you respond to seeing the architects of the iraq war come and criticize you, personally, criticize the president? his answer when we return. okay. it's easy to erase any recent travel expense i want. just pick that flight right there. mmm hmmm. give it a few taps, and...it's taken care of. this is pretty easy, and i see it works on hotels too. you bet. now if you like that, press the red button on top. ♪ how did he not see that coming? what's in your wallet? ♪ we go, go, we don't have to go solo ♪ ♪ fire, fire, you can take me higher ♪ ♪ take me to the mountains, start a revolution ♪ ♪ hold my hand, we can make, we can make a contribution ♪ ♪ brand-new season, keep it in motion ♪ ♪ 'cause the rhyme is the reason ♪
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more of my interview with john kerry is coming up. he has a few things to say about the criticism leveled at him by the people who brought us the iraq war. no two people have the same financial goals. pnc investments works with you to understand yours and helps plan for your retirement. talk to a pnc investments financial advisor today. ♪ we believe it can be the most valuable real estate on earth.
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international community is not supportive is a reflection of a fact that the so-called commander in chief has not been ing a acting as a commander in chief, not provided leadership. >> because the specter of the iraq invasion haunts everything involving the debate to launch air strikes in syria, i decided to ask secretary of state john kerry what it's like to have the architects of the war based on lies criticize him and the president. i asked what it's like to be the person who's the leading spokesperson out front for an attack on syria. you have made this case more strenuously, passionately, more out front than anyone in the administration, i think it's fair to say. given the experience you had in vietnam, and given the experience of the iraq war, how do you feel about being the public face of this intervention? >> i feel confident that what i am doing is informed by my own lessons of war, and informed by
my opposition to war, but informed also by my years of supporting certain military actions when they're important to the security of our nation. i believe this is important to the security of our country. i believe that if we don't do this, that we will have sent a horrendous message of permission to a man who has already shown his willingness to use weapons of mass destruction. i believe if we don't stand up, our friends in the region, jordan, will be more fragile, potentially at risk, israel will suffer the greater potentiality of these weapons falling into the hands of hezbollah, that iran will feel emboldened. iran, whom we are already in a major confrontation with over the potential that they may be developing a nuclear weapon. iran will read this, and they could read it in the wrong way which could create an even more dangerous confrontation down the road. so, chris, you know, i've thought a lot about this. i know the lessons of war. i don't believe this is taking
america to war. i believe this is enforcing a very limited military action, not going to war, that will, in fact, stand up for the notion that you should not use chemical weapons. something we -- and by the way, we've protected our troops with this prohibition. in world war ii, in vietnam, in korea, in both iraq wars. people didn't dare use chemical weapons against our troops because they know there's a prohibition and that would unleash even greater rath of our nation. we need to stand up for that same principle now. >> in terms of the lessons, and because the american public is so informed by these last 12 years, donald rumsfeld as said your leadership on this issue, the president's leadership has been feckless. you have seen architects of the iraq war from the bush administration coming out and criticizing the administration, criticizing the policy. how do you respond to seeing the architects of the iraq war criticize you personally, criticize the president? >> i don't pay any -- it doesn't make a difference to me.
they're so discredited by their own judgments it's hard to see they have a judgment today that is relevant to this. i'll listen to people whose judgment i clearly trust and respect, but with respect to this particular moment, from the moment that i had been sworn into office, i've been working with our allies, working with the opposition to define the ways in which we can guarantee that weapons are not going to the worst actors out there. the ways in which we can guarantee that the future of syria will be a democratic future, but also to guarantee that we are not presenting to the american people the same shoddy intelligence that was presented to the american people back in iraq, that we do not make that mistake, that we will not put american boots on the ground. we will not take over a war that is a civil war in which the united states clearly has no
business being directly involved. >> can i ask about that? >> we're not going to do that. >> we -- can you unilaterally declare that you're not taking responsibility for civil war when the rebels on the ground are going to see this american intervention as possibly a door opening to further intervention and that is going to affect the way they conduct themselves. >> we have made it crystal clear to them. we make it crystal clear now in every same that we have made. this action has nothing to do with engaging directly in syria's civil war on one side or the other. it has to do with enforcing a norm of international behavior that has protected people against chemical weapons and it is one of the things, chemical, biological, nuclear warfare, we have decided as a world we are going to protect people against those weapons, and this measure
that we're asking the congress to authorize will have a profound impact on the judgment of the north koreans and the iranians and others as to whether or not the united states will stand up for the policies that it adopts, and whether or not the united states when it says something means what it says. >> is the president calling members of congress, democratic members of congress to get them to vote yes on this? >> the president will be directly communicating to the members of congress. the vice president. we are all engaged in trying to define with clarity what this is, but also, chris, what it is not. it is not iraq. it is not afghanistan. it is not even libya. there will be no american boots on the ground. we are not sliding through a back door into a war. we're not going to war. >> the president -- >> we're taking a limited military action to enforce a very important -- >> will the president address the american people to make that case, himself? >> i am confident the president
will address the american people. >> finally, your colleague and friend, and the man who took over your seat, ed markey, yesterday voted present. he was so apparently unpersuaded by the testimony you gave in front of that committee. what is your reaction to ed markey voting present. >> he hadn't had a chance to read the intelligence report in its entirety. he didn't want to read the public version. he wanted to read the full version. my hope is when he feels fully informed he'll make the right decision. >> thank you so much your time. >> thank you. >> john kerry making the administration's case for a military strike on syria, talking about a wide range of issues in our interview today exclusively in the state department. joining me, lawrence wilkerson, former chief of staff for secretary of state colin powell. adjunct professor at the college of william and mary. it's obvious the way iraq weighs over this. parallels to colin powell going out and working for him when you were selling the war on intelligence. i don't want to say there are parallels in the falseness of the intelligence.
what do you think when you watch him talk about the iraq experience? do you think we've learned our lesson? >> in some ways, perhaps. in other ways, not. my first reaction, this is in no way meant to be cold. it's meant to be the exact opposite. what's the difference between a child dying of sarin gas in night, or in the morning, or at night with phosphorous? personally as a soldier, i'd rather die of the sarin gas than the other two. people are dying in syria from other causes than chemical weapons. i have a problem with this from that point of -- >> you question drawing a ring around the class of weapons and the way the civilized world, if we can use that phrase, has basically said you can't do this. >> the reason we have the ban, and the success we do with members of the convention is because they aren't very good weapons. that's the real reason.
the united states continues to use depleted uranium, white phosphorous, wouldn't join the land mine ban. that's not to be cold. >> the secretary said something that is contentious i don't believe this is taking america to war. what's your response to that. >> that's the most frightening thing i heard in the interview. the enemy has a vote. when we drop bombs, cruise missiles, high-performance aircraft with pgms or whatever, the enemy has a vote. let's say it unfolds exactly the way secretary kerry explained it. a very light strike. two or three days of cruise missiles and pgms. and we say, mr. assad, don't use chemical weapons again. what if he shrugs that off and continues to march and even maintains his present position and even possibly wins? what do we do then? i guarantee you the united
states will want to have another vote in that. if we were to do what my party wants to do, john mccain, lindsey graham and others, and conduct robust strikes. 78 days like we did against milosevic in kosovo. what do we do then when syria, not libya, libya was a pariah of africa. syria is in the heart of an incredibly strategic region. what do we do then? to we put boots on the ground? >> what about this argument we basically to have enforce a norm but maintain an odd equilibrium to force both parties to think they can't win and go to the negotiating table in geneva. >> the equilibrium that killed 100,000 people already. i see this as being a vicious civil war fueled by saudi arabia and others furnishing arms. i'm not opposed to what kerry said, himself. we need to tell the american people there's a high potential for us having to go all the way. a lot of time, a lot of money, resources and boots on the ground. >> quickly, having been inside the armed forces, having been inside state, what is planning
inside those buildings looking like now? >> i suggest it is probably very hectic, but i don't think either at the pentagon or at state anybody is looking beyond this more or less punitive strike, and that's wrong. because we probably are going to go beyond it. >> retired army colonel, lawrence wilkerson. thank you so much for your time. >> thanks for having me. coming up, the president lobbies members of congress to get them to vote yes, i'll be joined by a congressman who's lobbying hard to get them to vote no. stay with us. cs, you know. i got this. [thinking] is it that time? the son picks up the check? [thinking] i'm still working. he's retired. i hope he's saving.
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dianne feinstein, barbara boxer, nancy pelosi. >> oh, i mean -- >> have strong feelings about this being the correct action. and i think, you know, people really need to look hard at what this is standing up for and also what it is not as an action. >> joining me now is congressman alan grayson, democrat from florida, member of the house foreign relations committee. he opposes any intervention in syria. so much so he owns the domain name don'tattacksyria.com. karen finney, former spokeswoman, director of communications at the democratic national committee who now hosts "disrupt with karen finney" at 4:00 p.m. eastern weekends here on msnbc. congressman, it seems very
unlikely to me there's going to be many republican votes in the house for this. given the character of the conservative grass roots on this issue. it's going to come down to democrats to pass this. don't you think so? >> i don't think there are votes on the democratic side, either. the current whip count shows the democrats running 4-1 against this in the house of representatives. republicans running more than 10-1. the votes simply aren't there. it's understandable. people of america don't want this attack. it's not our responsibility. >> you're going to have a conversation with nancy pelosi in the next few days in which she's going to say to you, not i think implausibly, if this vote goes down you're destroying the last three years of this president's administration, you're destroying his political capital and frittering away any opportunity to get any meaningful legislation passed because you will have essentially declared your own
party's president a lame duck. >> no, first of all, leader pelosi does not whip on issues of war and piece. secondly, the president, himself, said his own credibility is not at stake. i accept that. third, as soon as this blows over, we're going to have a hullabaloo about the budget. >> you don't think there's a carryover effect? >> no. >> karen, do you agree with that. >> i don't. i would like to believe it. i think there's no way to think that republicans, even -- i mean, look at how the republicans, even the ones who support him on the strike have to use, like, the first 2/3 of the time that they use to say they support the strike to criticize the president. right? so there's no way they won't try to use it against him. we can't view this in that context. it's more important that the president did come to congress. i think from the lens of history, that's going to be a much more important thing than whether or not he wins this vote
or doesn't win the vote. this is a really critical moment in our history on this issue. >> karen, this is dianne feinstein who supports the president's proposal here talking about her constituents and the fact they largely oppose it. she says "it weighs on me, no question, because i'm very constituent-oriented, but you see, then they don't know what i know. they haven't heard what i heard. i like to believe now after 20 years i have some skill in separating the wheat from the chaff." that's a weak argument to go back and sell to your constituents. >> it is. here's the thing, chris. you got to the heart of this in your interview with secretary kerry. i actually believe the president and secretary in terms of the credibility of the intelligence they have. i believe they believe this would work. i don't think in others of us believe air strikes are going to solve the problem. remember, this did not start as a civil war but as part of the arab spring. jobs, the economy, people wanting a better life. assad very wisely turned it into a civil war and turned it into a
sectarian war and brought in all this proxy war so that he -- he knew he needed the support. one air strike i don't think solves what is now a much larger problem. >> is there anything you saw in your interview, in the interview with secretary of state kerry, that you find compelling or convincing? >> not at all. listen, most people understand this is simply not our problem. this is not our problem to solve. >> that sounds -- >> there's nothing we can do -- >> i have to say, that sounds morally obtuse to me. >> sorry. >> i'm being totally honest. >> that's how the american people feel. overwhelmingly so. the calls are running 100-1 against intervention. >> the american people can be wrong about things. >> no, listen, they're not wrong about this. they have a right to decide. they're the ultimate vote here. at our website that you mentioned, 50,000 people came to our website in no time and signed our petition against this. the calls are running 100-1 against this. the polls don't show something. the polls say the public is 2-1, 3-1. it's the intensity of feeling. people don't want war.
it's not that they're tired of war, it's they're disgusted with war and anything that looks like a war. that's exactly what this is. they can't micromanage this. this is going to backfire. everybody knows it, everybody sees it except for the people in washington, d.c., and that's why the people are going to stand up as they have and dictate to the representatives exactly what the outcome is here. >> karen? >> you know, chris, i'm not comfortable with the idea that we think it's not our problem when over 100,000 people have been killed. we've been talking about the use of chemical weapons. we're talking about insidious ways that this man is killing his own people. that we should care about that, but i just don't think that the air strike, and i hope that this is what the majority of americans are saying when they say don't do this, that the air strike in and of itself is going to solve that problem. not it's not our problem. certainly we should care, but certainly, you know, is the air strike the way to get us to the geneva process that the secretary was talking about? i don't think it is. i think a majority of americans recognize that the chances that this becomes a, you know, we get sucked into mission creep, are so high that we want better
assurance of what we're really trying to do here. we don't think an air strike is going to solve it. >> listen. it is true that people understand that this is not going to work. it's not going to solve anyone's problems and that it's expensive and it's dangerous. also people understand that we've got 20 million people in this country who are looking for full-time work. 40 million people who can't see a doctor when they're sick. >> that doesn't mean we can't care about children being gassed. for heaven's sakes. >> we're not going to be able to solve that problem. >> i'm agreeing with you on that. i don't agree that the american people don't care that children are being killed or that people are being killed by their leader. >> listen, what they want above all is for us to solve our own problems. not being the world's policeman, not be the world's judge, executioner and jury. that's not what they want. they want us to work on solving our problems and meeting our human needs. >> karen, the point that the congressman made before about intensity -- >> yeah. >> -- as opposed to polling i
think is a key one because i really am having a hard time figuring out how this vote goes through in the house. >> yeah. >> and precisely because of that dynamic. it's not just the polling. i remember covering the immigration fight on the hill in 2006, 2007. when you're getting 1,000-1 calls, 100-1 calls that affects how members think of the vote. >> every member of the house has to think about how they're going to go home and explain this with 2014 coming up. when they're looking at call sheets and where the numbers are running, you've heard a lot of members i think are genuinely put in a tough spot because they want to support the president but don't necessarily think this is the right thing to do and they know their constituents don't want this. absolutely. i think this vote is going to be a very, very tough one. i don't think the president is going to get it at this point. from what i'm hearing it doesn't sound like the votes are there. but i just want to say, i believe that the american people can say, it's horrible what's going on over there, military strikes are not the right answer, and we've got plenty of problems to solve here at home. i don't think that those are
mutually exclusive to each other. >> we'll note the politics here that vice president joe biden and former secretary of state hillary clinton considered to be the likely front-runners in democratic field are staying far away from this. former secretary of state endorsing it through an anonymous spokesperson the other day. congressman alan grayson. and karen finney, host of "disrupt with karen finney" on msnbc. if you missed my exclusive interview with john kerry, go to allinwithchris.com. a new book has ray kelly on the defense over his controversial surveillance operations. i'll talk to the authors. coming up. constipated? yeah. mm. some laxatives like dulcolax can cause cramps. but phillips' caplets don't. they have magnesium. for effective relief of occasional constipation. thanks. [ phillips' lady ] live the regular life. phillips'. like carpools... polly wants to know if we can pick her up.
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three awesomest things on the internet today beginning with norway's latest and greatest export to the world. these two guys are norwegian talk show hosts known as ylvis. lucky for us they sing, too. their latest single just dropped. if all of your knowledge of norwegian culture comes from that, friends, you're about to get an education. ♪ dog goes woof ♪ cat goes meow ♪ bird goes tweet and mouse goes squeak ♪ ♪ fish go blub and the seal goes ow, ow, ow ♪ ♪ there's a sound that no one knows ♪ ♪ what does the fox say ♪ ding, ding, ding ♪ what's the fox say ♪ pow, pow, pow ♪ what's the fox say
>> oh, that's weird. what does a fox say? reaction from the internet has ranged from proclaiming this the song of the summer to oh my god, please make it stop. the second awesomest thing on the internet takes a closer look at the gold standard in the documentation of elite nuptials. "the new york times" wedding section. a guy sifted through 60,000 announcements over the past 30 years and poured all that data into a wedding program calling it wedding crunchers. chart the popularity of keywords using announcements. word debutante getting few mention over the years while terms like hedge fund have gained in popularity. the two brides who operate a gas station together in omaha twerk down the aisle. the third awesomest thing on the internet today takes us to d.c.'s national zoo, where today officials revealed a panda cub born last month is in fact a girl panda cub. second piece of the puzzle? who's the baby daddy?
due to the magic of modern reproductive panda science, there are two possible fathers. tian of d.c. and gao gao of san diego. betting money was on the strapping gao gao who has five little ones. zoo experts considered tian tian. the "new yorker" reports during panda bear sexy time, tian tian stands there like a man who opened a large box from ikea and has no idea what to do next. time for the official "all in" paternity test, tian tian, or -- >> you are the father. >> [ bleep ]. [ bleep ]. [ bleep ]. >> with five kids running around already, you know san diego's gao gao is doing the happy dance right now. find the links for tonight's #click3 on our website, allinwithchris.com. we'll be right back.
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may 2008, a group of women in the bronx organized a mother's day boycott in protest of the killing of sean bell. he was a 23-year unarmed black man who was killed the morning before his wedding after five new york police officers fired at least 50 bullets into his car. the announcement for the protest against police brutality posted on the group's website read, "this boycott was set for may 11th 2008, mother's day. there will be no shopping for cards, flowers, clothing, shoes or dining out. spend time with mom at home. seven her dinner or buy her flowers from a black-owned business. we can be effective if we unite in the name of our children." that note, peaceful expression of grief and anger in a wake of a horrible injustice was enough to get agnes johnson who helped organize the boycott flagged and written up by the new york police department's secret spy unit called the demographics unit created by new york city police commissioner ray kelly and retired cia veteran in the weeks and months after the
attacks of september 11th. their blockbuster new book "enemies within: inside the nypd's secret spying unit and bin laden's final plot against america" pulitzer prize winner journalist matt apuzzo and adam goldman detail how they got caught up in a dubious legal surveillance operation in the country. nypd own mini cia. starting in 2002, nypd officers in plain clothes were regularly dispatched to sports, cafes and shops, sit to take notes, cataloging the name, appearance, ethnicity of people accused of being nothing more than being muslim. in order to be able to spy as freely as possible, nypd would designate entire mosques as a, quote, potential terrorist hub and everyone inside is potential suspects. allowing themselves the ability to spy without a whiff of specific criminal activity. they infiltrating muslim student groups at colleges and one point designated a brooklyn park a, quote, location of concern, simply because middle-aged albanian men would hang out in the afternoon and play chess. over the past decade the demographics unit secretly monitored muslims in new york
city. demographics unit was renamed to the zone assessment unit and it is still operational. get this. in 2012, the nypd admitted the unit had not been responsible for uncovering any terrorist plots, had led to zero arrests, and not a single leak. coming up, i'll be joined by the authors of "enemies within." stay with us. joining me now, pulitzer prize winning investigative reporters for the "associated press" matt apuzzo and adam goldman. authors of the book "enemies within: inside the nypd's secret spying unit and bin laden's final plot against america." how is this legal?
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final plot against america." how is this legal? >> well, it's hard to say whether it's legal or not legal. it's one of those things like waterboarding, indefinite detention, guantanamo bay, warrantless wiretapping that were created post-9/11 in that post-9/11 framework where the laws were rewritten and the rules were rewritten. there are lawsuits out challenging this right now. we haven't seen any indication this is purely illegal. it certainly goes farther than what the federal government could do. you know, for instance, i'm sure some of your listeners have at one point sat in a restaurant and perhaps watched the "state of the union" and talked about it. documents we've shown the nypd would write down, we were at this restaurant and heard the president talking about his "state of the union" address and here's what he said. >> we have a map showing south asian sports locations and arab sports locations. that was created by this unit. then also a writeup of a
restaurant, a pakistani restaurant, has a small room downstairs. the floor was covered, fliers for local community events. bangladeshis and indians. this looks like profiling of the crudest form. >> the muslim community says that's what the nypd was doing, targeted. if you were a muslim, from syria, egypt. regardless of whether you're an american or own one of these businesses, or arrested, you would be targeted. the nypd was literally trying to map the human terrain of the five boroughs. >> so what is the -- take the devil's advocate argument here. my understanding from your book is that they would go to events open to the public, take notes open to the public, in the same way a reporter like myself has done hundreds if not thousands of times. what's wrong with police going to big public events, going to
restaurants anyone could walk into and just gathering information? >> well, i mean, that is certainly what the nypd says. under their rules, they're allowed to go to any place the public can go to. the difference what you can do, we can do, and write down what we hear, i don't have the authority to throw anybody in jail. i don't have the authority to keep people off airplanes or search them. that's what when you see government collecting information, even information that might be in the public domain, that's why people should be concerned here, and, you know, certainly you have the ability to go out -- the nypd can go to where the public can go. under their rules, they're allowed to keep it in police files if it pertains to criminal activity. either they're not following that rule or anywhere there are muslims there's a possibility of criminal activity.
>> adam, i think one of the most fascinating aspects of your reporting shows that forget about your constitutional concerns. your moral qualms with this. it doesn't look like it was very effective. there's this great anecdote, hector bardecia who took over the demographics unit in 2006. kind of a whistleblower on this. said "one frequent destination the police officers are setting out was the kabul kabob house in flushing, queens. when asked if they suspected a threat that should be reported up the chain of command, he was told they were conducting routine follow-up visits. a look of a report showed nothing worth following up. he realized in the hunt for terrorists his detectives gravitated toward the best food." this operation wasn't actually tracking or catching anyone. >> no, in the end they were doing things for the sake of doing them. this is what the nypd has become. it's made very few cases. this intelligence division has become a true intelligence division. it's out gathering intelligence
on the community, and it's not taking that information and finding criminal cases. >> and it's a lesson that more intelligence doesn't always mean better intelligence. which i think is a pretty important rule. matt apuzzo and adam goldman. author of the book "enemies within." thank you so much. that is "all in" for this evening. the "rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening, chris. thank you. congratulations on the john kerry interview today. that was a huge deal. >> thank you. >> well done. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. congress famously works at this very pretty building. the united states capitol building. right down the national mall from the washington monument. it's around the corner from the white house. it has that iconic dome. this is where the floor of the house is, where the floor of the senate is. it is where some of the work of the u.s. congress gets done. more of the work of the u.s. congress gets done, though, not in that building but instead at