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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 28, 2009 11:00pm-12:00am EST

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he had been educated in london. as a result of his actions, all eyes today turn to yemen? yeah. after his failed apparent attempt to blow up northwest airlines flight 253 on christmas day, umar farouk abdulmutallab was taken into custody. he reportedly told the fbi that he had been trained and supplied with the explosives by al qaeda in yemen. u.s. officials telling nbc news they believe abdullah spent several months in yemen this year. in the typical grandiose language al qaeda in yemen calls itself al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. it is considered to be linked with al qaeda in saudi arabia. abc news reporting tonight that two guantanamo prisoners who were let out by the bush administration in 2007 and sent to saudi arabia are now leaders of al qaeda in yemen. do you remember the shooting of two u.s. military recruiters in arkansas back in june? the man indicted in that case was under investigation at the time of the shooting by the fbi's joint terrorist task force
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because he had recently traveled to yemen. major nidal hasan the soldier charged in the fort hood massacre last month is reported to have been in contact with a radical cleric who publicly praised hasan after the shootings. that cleric? based in yemen. last september ten people were killed when, at a u.s. embassy when it was attacked in a coordinated assault involving car bombs, rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons. that embassy was in the capital city of yemen. of course the u.s.s. cole attack which killed 17 u.s. sailors took place while the cole was docked at the port city of hayden in yemen. just four months ago a suicide bomber narrowly missed killing the counterterrorism chief in saudi arabia. the bomber crossed into saudi arabia with his bomb from yemen, you guessed it. the man who is thought to be the leader of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula appears in militant videos touting yemen as a good place to come get terrorist training especially if afghanistan and pakistan have
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become too awkward to visit. so if you've been paying attention to terrorism and al qaeda recently you have likely been paying attention to this poor, largely ungoverned, running out of oil, parched little nation called yemen. it's rather quietly become, after iraq and afghanistan and pakistan something akin to america's other, other, other war. then candidate obama called in the fall of 2008 for a shared security counterterrorism program in yemen. yemen also raised in the president's speech on the escalation in afghanistan. >> where al qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold, whether in somalia or yemen or elsewhere, they must be confronted. >> in september of this year, president obama sent his counterterrorism chief john brennan to yemen. general david petraeus the head of central command also made an unannounced trip to yemen at roughly the same time. and oh, yes. we've been bombing yemen, too. or at least in our government's words we've been providing the
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fire power for yemeni air strikes. as recently as christmas eve we bombed yemen. and a week before that we did it as well. the president authorizing cruise missile strikes at al qaeda targets in yemen. like our air strikes in pakistan these are something our government is reluctant to discuss in detail. the use of secret american bombing campaigns in yemen going back as far as 2002. but apparently it's rather dramatically escalated under president obama. reluctant to let that reality intrude upon his reverie onset with fox news this weekend senator lieberman of connecticut ignored the preemptive american military action that's actually been happening in yemen and called for preemptive american military action to happen there. >> somebody in our government said to me, in the capital of yemen, iraq was yesterday's war. afghanistan is today's war. if we don't act preemptively, yemen will be tomorrow's war. >> actually, yemen has already
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been today's war for quite sometime now, senator. i realize it's hard to keep up. don't let that get in the way of your sound bite though. today al qaeda in the arabian peninsula put out a statement taking responsibility for the attempted bombing of flight 253 managing again to pull off the patented al qaeda pr technique of seeming both scary and stupid. the statement said the attempted bombing over detroit was a response to the recent american air strikes in yemen. that sounds scary. right? the stupid part here though is that they got their dates wrong. the first air strike was on december 17th. the alleged bomber had already bought his ticket for that flight to detroit the day before on december 16th. so nice try anilist dirt bags but it's back to remedial propaganda class for you. with us in studio tonight is richard engel who has been to yemen several times and plans a return trip soon. great to see you. >> i hope i'm not an anilist
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dirt bag. >> no. that would not be you. i just know i'm sort of torn whenever we talk about al qaeda. on the one hand they are this massive threat to security everywhere they choose to strike. and a threat to all sorts of things that i hold dear and places where they don't strike in terms of their terrorist effect. on the other hand i think they're loons and it's hard for me not to make fun of them. >> i've met some of these militants, not those involved in these recent attacks but they live in a different world. it's a totally different mentality. they probably can't be reasoned with and can't be brought back. and a lot of them simply aren't very good. this young man who wanted to carry out this attack, the nigerian, a bit of a lost kid, went all over the world. in addition to that country, those countries you mentioned he also studied in togo and he's been all over the world. goes seeking out to the radicals, finds them, and they give him some powdered explosives and he fails to set them off. so it shows this very nature of
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al qaeda. it's a trans national movement. the u.s. for a long time has been focusing on finding a new home address. is it iraq or is it afghanistan? or is it yemen? this group doesn't have a home address. that is the way it operates. it operates in different countries. by the way, it has always operated that way. even the 9/11 attackers, we talk about it being launched from afghanistan. well really if you look at it they were based in germany, trained in florida, had operatives in boston. so it was always a fragmented organization and it still is today. >> that's part of the reason that i wanted to show that map the way we did about all of the different international connections that you could draw if you wanted to, to this event. the reason everybody is focused on yemen is because there is a sense that they have a safe haven there. >> sure. >> and that that allows for some degree of planning and projection of force that they couldn't do if they didn't have an essentially ungoverned space from which to operate. do you think that's a fair way to look at it?
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>> it is. and the problem with yemen, yemen by the way is a fabulous country. it is beautiful, one of my favorite countries in the middle east. the people are lovely. it has incredible architecture and history. but it is a tough place to govern. it is the poorest country in the middle east. it's covered with deserts, some very harsh mountains that are coming out of the desert. there are tribes that are semiautonomous in the country. they don't respect always the authority of the central government. they are well armed. there is an open arms market in yemen. by some estimates there are about three ak-47s for every person in yemen. so it is not easy for the central government to exert its authority in certain places. it also has the, some of the issues you mentioned. there is not a lot of water. they're also facing an insurgency by shiite rebels in the north, facing another insurgency by separatists in the south. when you have all of these strains on a government then there are pockets where the government simply can't reach. one good thing is the government is trying to help and they've
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carried out all of these air strikes against al qaeda militants including these two that you rightly pointed out came after the plot against detroit was already under way. >> came after he already bought his ticket. >> right. >> on the issue of the challenges within that country and the effect of our actions there, the reason that i sort of poked at senator lieberman a little bit there in the introduction is because i feel like he's essentially calling on the u.s. government to make yemen its next war. >> that is exactly right. it's not pakistan. it is not a rogue state. since 9/11 u.s. law enforcement, fbi in particular, has been working very closely in yemen training some yemeni special forces. it's a capacity problem. sometimes the u.s., i spoke with a yemeni official tonight whose livid at the way yemen is being characterized as this rogue state that doesn't want to cooperate. it's a poor state. they've been trying to help. they have trouble reaching a lot of areas.
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it doesn't get very much aid. it's not like countries like pakistan that get billions of dollars. it gets very, very little aid. and i think if you see going forward you're going to see more cooperation between the pentagon and the government of yemen, actually i was told that today by both yemeni officials and pentagon sources that this military offensive that's been going on for the last week or so is going to be continuing. >> and meanwhile, all of the amateur counterterrorists among us will be learning the difference, where aden is, where somalia is. >> somalia should be the next front. and then you could say it should be chechnya is the next front. there is no front in this kind of war. i think that's what people have to look beyond. >> richard engel, nbc news chief foreign correspondent, always great to have you on the show. thanks for being here. >> my pleasure. >> what do we know about the explosive that managed to get by the security screeners for the christmas day attempted bomb? how did it make it onto the plane?
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why didn't it blow up? will this alleged terrorist have to live out his remaining days with the shameful nickname of the yunt pants bomber? that is coming up. but first, as joe lieberman hufs and puffs suggesting america's fourth simultaneous war in asia, democratic congressman eric massa has pointed out on the floor of the house that christmas eve marked our 3,000th day in the afghanistan war. it was also the 30th anniversary of the russian invasion of afghanistan. which did not end well for anyone. except maybe the people we're supposedly fighting in our afghanistan war now 30 years later. anniversarys, let's just get this decade over with and start a fresh one. hey? sometimes the little things in life feel like our biggest enemies. [dripping] [shower running] they can be damaged... they ce olen.
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the fbi says their preliminary analysis of the substance that burned but didn't explode on northwest airlines flight 253 on christmas day, is that it was something called petn. these images obtained by nbc news showing petn packed into the alleged bomber's underwear. petn is a white, powdery substance that is really, really, really explosive. umar farouk abdulmutallab reportedly smuggled about 80 grams of petn in his underwear onto that flight that was due to land in detroit.
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now, how powerful is 80 grams of petn? consider this for reference. this is an internet video which claims to show the explosion of less than 80 grams, actually 50 grams of petn strapped to a poor little defensiveless tree. [ explosion ] >> convicted shoe bomber richard reid attempted to use petn as well during a trans atlantic flight back in 2001. the petn in his case was formed into part of his shoes. richard reid was stopped by passengers and crew members while he was trying to light that petn explosive on fire. the thing about this type of explosive is you usually need some sort of physical detonator to set it off. but it can technically also be ignited through a chemical reaction which is probably why the alleged christmas bomber reportedly had a syringe on him loaded up with an as yet unknown liquid which he was apparently trying to combine with the explosive powder.
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the combination of that failed explosion and quick acting passengers appears to have stopped the bombing attempt. but could the petn have been detected in any of the beyond metal detector screening devices that have been put into use at some u.s. airports? that's a good question. next question? would you be willing to have tsa employees see you in your birthday suit every time you flew if the answer to that first question was "yes?" after the failed christmas bombing attempt the tsa immediately instituted some new restrictions on passenger behavior in flight like preventing passengers from leaving their seats one hour prior to landing and prohibiting passengers from having blankets or pillows on their laps an hour before landing. passengers may also be prevented from accessing their carry on bags during that same time period. have these new rules been in effect before christmas day would they have prevented this attack? more importantly, actually dramatically more importantly,
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could these new rules realistically be expected to prevent the next attack? or will we all end up flying only if we can endure being naked and sedated for the entire trip? joining us now is an author and security expert. thanks for joining us tonight. really looking forward to talking to you about this. >> thanks for having me. >> is there any reason to believe these new tsa rule changes would help prevent the next attack? >> well, of course not. i mean, the attacks are designed to get through whatever we're doing. so the liquid bombers use liquids. now we screen liquids. this is a new powder bomber using a powder. they will look at what we do and do something different. it's sort of a magical thinking about the last hour, it's not a more dangerous hour. it's the hour this guy happened to choose. i'm not sure why the next guy can't choose the first hour. or a different material. or maybe even not an airplane. so you are focusing on the tactic. it might make us feel a little
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better but won't make us any safer. >> in terms of the explosives, should we be able, technically should we be able to stop something like petn from making its way onto a plane no matter who brings it on? are we capable of stopping an explosive substance like that from ever being on an airplane? >> you know, probably not. there are more things we can do. they're very invasive. they're going to be sloppy. they aren't going to work very well. they'll be very expensive. money could be spent better elsewhere. in the end you probably can't totally prevent this from getting on an airplane. the good news is it's surprisingly hard to make work. you know, we've had two terrorists try and fail to ignite this stuff. there have been no other attempts that we know about. so, you know, it looks scary. the video is scary you showed. but this stuff is really hard to work with. >> it has been, of course, about three days now since this incident. we're looking at a similar attempt really to what we saw with richard reid with the shoe
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bomber who is now convicted and sitting in federal prison. are there things that we should be doing in response to incidents like these that are, in your view, more rational, more directly getting at the problem than what we have done? >> what i want to avoid is focusing on guessing the next plot correctly. we're really good at defending what the terrorists did last time and pretty terrible defending against what they're going to do next time. it's not the same. i want to pull money back from targeted security measures into things like investigation and intelligence. think about the liquid bombers. they were arrested in london before they got to the airport. it didn't matter if they were using liquids, solids, or gases, targeting airplanes or shopping malls or crowded movie theaters. they were arrested. that's the benefit of investigation intelligence. this guy should have been denied a visa. what happened to he was informed on by his father? why aren't we following up on those leads? that is far more important than building up airport security just in case we happen to guess
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the next plot correctly. >> i think the strategy has been to try to do everything, to try to do the police side and the intelligence side at the same time as we're trying to harden ourselves as a target. you've been a critic of sort of security theater of things that don't really make us safe but make us feel safer in places like airports. is it your belief that we actually reassure ourselves to our own detriment, that it actually does some harm that we should be doing things like having these rules about when people can go to the bathroom and having these types of screening machines that we've got at airports? >> i think it does some psychological harm. it's often a lot of expense. a lot of these new security measures, extra screening, new machines, is money that could be spent elsewhere so we're wasting money for a bunch of years we were sheep like and willing to go along with anything the tsa invented. they take away our liquids.
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we might complain but we'll do it. now we're getting into measures that are going to annoy the airline's bread and butter, their business travelers. if people have to check luggage because they can't bring on more than one carry on, if they can't use laptops, read their electronic books, i think the airlines will start losing money so it will be to our detriment. it certainly isn't making us safer. because it's so focused on the tactic and the target and it's not general. general is where we'll make ourselves safe. >> author and security expert bruce schneir, thanks very much for your time tonight. i read your blog religiously on issues like this and i think you've done a lot to open up people's minds in terms of thinking about this strategically. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. okay. this is iran this weekend. this weekend. six months after the government in iran claimed it won a landslide victory in the latest election. tonight on the interview i'll ask if this is what the beginning of democracy looks like or whether this is what the end of democracy looks like. that's next. stay with us.
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if you have a second, watch this video. this is kind of amazing. this is eyewitness video, not shot by journalists but by participants and observers in a street war that is being fought by an opposition movement all over the nation of iran. i would say that the iranian protest movement that riveted the world this summer is back but it's probably more accurate to say it never went away.
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it started with that country's disputed presidential election in june. that sparked weeks of protests and months of government crackdowns. this weekend a religious holiday and period of mourning for a cleric who died a week ago brought the opposition back out into the streets again in huge numbers, bolder than ever. as you can see here, to dramatic effect. the government of iran will not allow journalists to report on what is happening on that nation's streets, and so i have to tell you we cannot independently verify these images. the protesters are in effect reporting on themselves, getting word out to the rest of the world over youtube. the government's response appears to be its most violent yet. at least eight protesters reportedly killed in clashes with police around the country this weekend. among the dead is believed to be the nephew of mir hussein mousavi the man the protesters believe won the presidential election back in june. hundreds of protesters have been arrested and just today activists say authorities have
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rounded up at least seven prominent opposition leaders. we've seen many videos from iran since the protests began six months ago, amateur videos uploaded to youtube and thus reported out of the country. but the images out of iran this weekend include scenes like this, what look like members of iran's militias penned in by an angry crowd and reportedly pleading for forgiveness. there's also this one. one of a policeman raising his helmet in what looks like a gesture of surrender. there's also this one of protesters apparently beating a member of the besige while others in the crowd protect him some shouting let him go. we ask the protesters might not be winning now, if the mullahs might actually fall. joining us is the president of the national iranian american council, a contributor to the
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daily beast, and the author of "treacherous alliance." thanks very much for being here. good to see you again. >> thank you for having me, rachel. >> we haven't seen constant, large scale opposition activities since this summer but it does just seem to persist. it keeps happening. it's not going away. can you help us understand what this weekend means about the strength of the opposition? >> well, rachel, as you pointed out earlier on, this movement actually never went away. we may have not paid sufficient attention to it but it has always been there. and their way of protesting and the way of defying the government is not necessarily just by organizing big demonstrations like this. they've been continuing to defy the government throughout this period but precisely when there are holidays like this, sanctioned protests, and when the government itself wants people to go out on the street, that gives them the opportunity to be able to do so in much larger numbers and a certain level of protection. i mean, the government will have
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a very hard time telling people not to come out on the most important shiite holiday of the year. >> what can you tell us about the strength of the opposition movement, about who in iran, what sectors of society, what groups of people, even what geographic parts of the country are places from which the opposition movement is drawing its support? how strong is the movement? >> well, let me put it this way. the fact that six months after the fraudulent election the protests are continuing and actually in some ways gaining momentum, is an indication that this movement isn't going anywhere. it's not going away. it's still there. it's still challenging the government. it's still depriving the government of any sense of normalcy. and in a way by virtue of not having been defeated they have scored a major victory. >> as i said, it's impossible to verify the authenticity of these videos that are coming out of iran. it's also hard to believe they aren't authentic given the content.
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i know that you've noticed some differences in the types of scenes that we're getting brought out of the country on these videos posted to youtube, some differences in what we're seeing compared to what we saw earlier, for example over the summer. what looks different to you? >> a lot looks different. again, you're absolutely right. all we can see is images but also by talking to people there are a couple things that stand out. one is the boldness of the protesters. if you take a look at these images you probably notice that unlike this past summer in which a lot of the protesters were actually covering their faces, now it's actually the security people, the security personnel that tend to be covering their faces. the besieged are covering their faces and not the other way around. furthermore there are more scenes of people from the security forces surrendering, giving up, turning to the demonstrators, to the protesters, and we didn't see that, at least not in these numbers, back in the summer. so the morale of the protesters seems to be quite high whereas
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the morale of the security personnel seems to be plummeting. >> president obama today made a statement in support of the protesters. let's just hear a little snippet of that. i'd love your reaction to it. >> the united states joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent iranian citizens. for months the iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights. each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality. even on solemn occasions and holy days. the united states stands with those who seek their universal rights. >> do you think that president obama is hitting the right note there? is there any risk to him making this sort of statement? >> there would be a risk if he was too explicit in saying he is siding with a particular political faction. what he is saying is that the united states stands with those who are seeking their universal rights, which is always the case. the united states is on the side of human rights.
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i think the statement was a positive one. what is needed is to have more frequent occasions in which the president is talking, speaking out in favor of human rights and condemnation of human rights violations. there was a period, particularly during the negotiations between the united states and iran, in which there was a perceived silence and that caused a lot of confusion and a lot of people in the protest movement started to ask themselves if the united states actually is supporting them morally. i think the statement today was positive. it needs to be more frequent. it needs to be a constant part of the vocabulary when talking about iran. >> president of the national iranian american council and contributor to the daily beast, great to have your insight. thanks so much. >> thank you. so baggage handlers joining a union. scary, right? that is what one leading conservative senator says he is most worried about in the wake of the attempted airplane bombing on christmas day. unionization. that and other awkward republican attempts to revive the glorious fear years coming up.
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so everyone with a muslim sounding name should stand in a
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separate line at the airport and the tsa shouldn't have anyone in charge of the agency, because the guy who could be in charge of the agency might unionize the baggage handlers. better to have no one running the tsa than that, right? what decade is this anyway? we'll talk about some of the strangest responses to the christmas day bomb attempt. plus, it's good riddance day in manhattan. i'm here in manhattan. we'll explore the possibilities later on. first a few holy mackerel stories in today's news. apple sold about 20 million iphones this year. next year, sales are expected to double. i'm no communication device expert but i am pretty sure that's what people call a success. nowhere has that success been more impressive than in new york city where it seems the iphone has replaced the monthly metro card and the far away subway stare as the most necessary inconvenient tool for city living. but the retail success of the iphone has turned into data overload panic faster than you
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can say 3-g. the excellent website consumerist first reported yesterday that at&t stopped selling iphones on its website. but only to people who wanted one shipped to new york city. could this be a really insulting blame the victim low tech way to deal with at&t's data overload problems? here in the city that never stops downloading, data sucking iphones have reportedly overloaded data networks and caused delays in service and dropped calls. when asked about the mysterious halt on iphone sales to new york city, a spokesperson for at&t would only say this. quote, we periodically modify our promotion and distribution channels. which may be businessees for, give us 24 hours to make this slightly less embarrassing which at&t did. first by blaming the sales blackout on an effort to reduce fraud and then by resuming the sale of iphones to new yorkers. good move, at&t. they may have figured out there
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is no app for calming down angry, uncompromising new yorkers that doesn't involve barricades and horses. now for some very real, very blunt honesty in advertising. every single republican senator opposed to the health reform bill when it was voted, every single republican senator opposed the health reform bill when it was voted on on christmas eve. that includes the 24 republicans who voted for george bush's medicare prescription drug expansion in 2003. now, that expansion in 2003, unlike the reform bill that's currently being debated, added tens of billions of dollars to the deficit and this makes for awkward politics because many republicans are citing worries about the deficit as their reason for voting against health reform now. how do you explain the inconsistency, voting in favor of bush's deficit ballooning bill and voting against obama's deficit neutral bill? how do you explain that inconsistency? it was explained rather well by utah republican orrin hatch this weekend.
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mr. hatch told the associated press that back when they were voting on the medicare expansion, like six years ago, he said, quote, it was standard practice not to pay for things. end quote. i literally had to double check and do some digging to be sure someone was not punking senator hatch with that atry bugs, but apparently he was not being punked, he said it to a reporter. back then, quote, it was standard practice not to pay for things. in the bush presidency with the republicans in charge in congress, it was standard practice not to pay for things. this is going to make the 2010 campaign so much simpler. and finally, senator jim bunning of kentucky, like every republican senator opposes health reform. just before the christmas eve vote in which the bill survived a republican filibuster the senator said, quote, i believe we need to reform health care but this bill is not the answer. so to senator bunning, health reform was important enough to press release against but it was
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not important enough to show up and vote against. senator bunning's hometown paper "the courier journal" in louisville reports jim bunning was the only senator to not show up to vote on the health reform bill. why did he not show up? because, quote, the senator had family commitments. as opposed to the 99 other senators who all along planned on spending christmas eve at the office. the "courier journal" put it best. they called the no show on health reform a cap on a year of unusual incidents. for example, senator bunning has missed 21 votes this month alone including a vote on the defense spending bill which included provisions that he sponsored. senator bunning also missed a bunch of votes in january. senator bunning also weirdly predicted the death of a supreme court justice who for the record did not die. and he swore at a reporter when pressed on the issue of his bad, bad polling numbers. senator bunning will not seek re-election next year, which
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the american people should be assured we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your families safe and secure during this busy holiday
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season. >> president obama today announcing efforts to step up security at the nation's airports and on its planes. but when 23-year-old umar farouk abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate explosives onboard that northwest flight on christmas day, he was targeting an aviation system that currently doesn't have a chief of security. that's because president obama's nominee to run the transportation security administration, the tsa, that nominee has been held up by the minority party in congress, specifically at least in part by south carolina republican senator jim demint. jim demint's big complaint about the nominee? a man named erol southers who runs the police force at the l.a. international airport. his big complaint is he might let the tsa baggage screeners unionize and bargain collectively for better working conditions.
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after this latest threat to bring down an airliner you might think that the whole opposition to labor unions issue would be an embarrassing reason to leave the tsa without a leader. if you thought that would be embarrassing you'd think differently from senator jim demint. sunday on fox news mr. demint was asked to join the conversation about president obama's handling of terrorism whereupon senator demint volunteered his own thoughts on labor unions for baggage screeners. >> chris, i am concerned because it's related to another issue we're dealing with now in the senate. the administration is intent on unionizing and submitting our airport security to union bosses, collective bargaining. this is at a time as senator lieberman says that we've got to use our imagination. we have to be constantly flexible and outthink the terrorists. >> outthinking them apparently means making sure they have lousy benefits, the baggage handlers that is because obviously they're the issue here. not to be outdone here was congressman peter king of new york who i must say was very nice to me when i ended up on the same plane as him one time.
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here is how peter king reacted to the christmas bomb plot news on fox news this saturday. >> there are situations like this where we are afraid of being accused of profiling. the fact is while the overwhelming majority of muslims are outstanding people, on the other hand 100% of the islamic terrorists are muslims. that is our main enemy today. >> a hundred percent. you do the math. if you're starting to feel like maybe this is more about politicking than about counterterrorism, consider this being taken to its logical conclusion by conservative talk show host mike gallagher speaking, you guessed it, on fox news. >> there should be a separate line to scrutinize anybody with a name abdul or ahmed or muhammad. >> and if somebody's middle name is hussein? what do we do then? the fear card turned up in the michigan governor's race, too, when congressman pete hoekstra, the republican candidate for
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governor in the great state of michigan governor's race, too, when congressman pete hoekstra, the republican candidate for governor in the great state of michigan, took the occasion of the christmas day bomb plot to send out a fund raising letter. a fund-raising letter specifically asking people to send him money because of the christmas day bomb plot. he said "i understand the real and continuing threat radical jihadists pose to our great state of michigan and our great nation. i have pledged i will do everything possible to prevent these terrorists from coming to michigan. please send me money. i wonder if he could have raised more money if the bomb had actually gone off. joining us now is a person i can assure you would do everything in her power to defend michigan, professor melissa harris-lacewell. thank you for interrupting your holidays in new orleans and joining us. >> happy to be here. >> pete hoekstra sent out a
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fund-raising plea saying there was this bomb plot. please send money because onlyky project you. i thought it was a joke at first is there no line of political decency that people are worried about crossing? >> the notion that the gop would have worried about politicizing terrorism is clearly a seven or eight-year-old worry. we're clear that what the gop sees as its clear, sort of ability to attack the obama administration is on this question of national security and terrorism. they can't, as you were just speaking about earlier go after him on the economy. they handed him a tanking economy. they did so apparently because it wasn't common practice to pay for legislation in the previous administration. so it's sad, but there is a way in which this terrorist plot, which did not actually take any american lives -- they saw, i
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think at least some members of the gop, clearly saw this as a holiday gift. an opportunity to once again put terrorism on the agenda someplace where they think they are strong. >> i agree with you in the sense that i believe that republicans would love to make national security and terrorism a political issue. they feel like that would help them in 2010. and at the same time i am completely mystified as jim demint. he is a rising star in national republican politics. what he does other republican senators do soon there afteafte. here he is proclaiming that real issue in the tsa is labor unions. he is blocking the head of the tsa, the head of airline security. there has to be a political cost to that. >> maybe our first question should be maybe what's going on in south carolina. this is our second south
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carolina legislator making real news this year. the other thing is a position towards working people, right? what does it mean that you think we're safer if the people who work for us in airports are less well-paid, have fewer benefits, have less security? it's a bit like saying let's be sure that we put our children with child care providers who are not unionized and -- oh, actually we do that, right? we put our children with child care providers who, in fact, don't get good benefits. it's a backwards way of thinking that the people serving the thing most precious to us, our children, our lives, in airports, that they would be paid insufficiently, they would have less job security. exactly what we want is the opposite. there are arguments on both sides about unions. clearly the idea that we are safer if our baggage, you know, handlers are paid less is ridiculous.
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>> the idea that that's your winning political argument, a chance for an anti-union argument is that there's was an attempted bomb blot is ridiculous. melissa harris-lacewell, thank you for talking with us and allowing us to see your analogy live on television. coming up on "joicountdown" keith olbermann looks at the best in the year. next on this show, forget the champagne what you really need for new year's eve is a giant shredder. guy: mmmm! chef: we're kind of excited about it. announcer: campbell's healthy request. ♪ my love what have i done ♪ ♪ my burden is too heavy ♪ ♪ we have more ♪ life goes on ♪
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supports your health in 4 ways it helps your natural cleansing process helps lower cholesterol. promotes overall well being and provides a good source of natural fiber try metamucil, in powders, capsules and fiber singles. until life shows up with hungry. or, you can follow the weight watchers plan entirely online and learn life skills that put you in charge. sign up for free right now and see how 31,000 food options give you options, and 1,800 recipes keep them fresh, so when life comes knocking, you can learn to live it, and lose weight and keep it off. sign up for free right now and get living. weight watchers online. stop dieting. start living. you want time to enjoy the holidays.
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we turn now to our destruction correspondent kent jones. hi, kent. >> hi, rachel. this long, rough year is about to come to an end. it's time to throw some stuff overboard, get rid of it. happy good riddance day.
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today in times square, people were encouraged to write down anything that weighed them down and shove that piece of paper in an industrial shredder. or you can whack them with a sledgehammer. >> don't forget the hammer. >> instant karma reversal. >> this year we have a lot of people wanting to say good riddance to job hunting. things that have to do with the recession. >> with this in mind, i surveyed the rachel maddow staff and found out what most people would like to shove into the shredder of history. some of the most popular, bernie madoff, mafia wars, carrie prejean, jon, kate, jon & kate plus or minus eight. religious people who wanted to cure gay people. michelle obama's arms are arms not guns. the words confuzzled and hella. the appalachian trail. all nazi references not about actual nazis.
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transformers ii, audience 0. the snuggie, anything you can wear ending in "e." >> sarah palin. tea bag, meaning anything other than a bag containing tea. and because we have the kind of staff we have, number one, the new york yankees. 2010's going to be awesome. >> i love the fact people were shredding drunk twittering. cocktail moment for you. >> sure. >> today the lake champlain bridge which goes between new york and vermont was imploded safely and beautifully. watch. watch it. i know that stuff gets imploded all the time. but i could watch safe implosions all day long. an end of the year kind of satisfaction.
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watch. one more time. one more time. >> go! into the shredder. >> that does it for us. thank you, kent. "hardball" is next. bye-bye. close call. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in new york. leading off tonight, whose fault. how did a 23-year-old nigerian man whose own father reported suspicions about him to the u.s. embassy manage to purchase a transcontinental airline ticket bound for the u.s. with cash? checking no bags, and get past security with a syringe sewn into his underwear and explosive taped to his legs? some republicans are already pinning the blame on the obama administration. janet napolitano didn't help saying the system worked. what's it like when it doesn't work? who created the watch list, however, the system we're using
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right now? weren't they put into effect during the bush administration? two members of the house homeland security committee, one republican an one democrat, will debate that point. and it is a hot one. at the top of the show. is yemen the new sanctuary for al qaeda? the terror suspect we are talking about set off alarm bells with his father when he dropped his studies and disappeared into yemen. add to that the u.s.-backed air strikes against al qaeda and yemen earlier this month. is this the latest danger area? i'll talk to two former cia operatives about how the terror threat is heading. anyway, plus, who you going to call? myth busters. we'll talk to -- about two of the president's biggest myths tonight. also, the president didn't speak public about the foiled terrorist attempt until today.

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