'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, September 29th, 2011
ShowPlug1: Manhattan DA to investigate Pepper-Sprayings at #OccupyWallStreet + two unions join protest NY1's @ErrolLewis on news
ShowPlug2: Amid reports UAW may associate itself with #OccupyWallStreet - is US finally forming a real...Left? @SenatorSanders joins me
Showlug3: New GOP plan: cut Pell Grants, Heating Subsidies for the poor! Rep. @MaxineWaters joins me for the latest attack on...everybody
ShowPlug4: Roach Motel of counter-terror lists. How being acquitted doesnt get you off FBI list. EPIC's @GingerMcCall on the Catch-22
ShowPlug5: "If Sox win today, its only cause losing tomorrow will hurt more." Braves, too. BB's epic day w/Hou. Chron's @RichardJustice
ShowPlugLast: Worsts: Trying to make much union activity punishable by imprisonment, in Michigan, + Allen West's latest psychotic episode
I KNEW that was wrong: I'm joined on #OccupyWallStreet by NY1's @ErrolLouis - my apologies
#5 'Leftward Ho!', Errol Louis
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Leftward Ho!', Sen. Bernie Sanders
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Cold Cuts', Rep. Maxine Waters
# Time Marches On!
#3 'They Have A List', Ginger McCall
#2 Worst Persons: Bill O'Reilly, Al Pscholka (R-MI), Rep. Allen West
#1 'Wild Wildcard', Richard Justice
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Allen West, Counter-Terror Watch List, Economy, FBI, Labor Unions, Major League Baseball, NYPD, Occupy Wall Street, President Obama
Guests: Bernie Sanders, Errol Lewis, Ginger McCall, Maxine Waters, Richard Justice
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Manhattan's District Attorney to investigate the pepper spraying at Occupy Wall Street. New York City's transit workers union to join the protest march tomorrow.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTINE WILLIAMS: This is the union that runs the trains, the buses of New York City. This is the people uprising against evictions, unemployment, layoffs, you name it. Corruption going on Wall Street.
OLBERMANN: 38,000 members. 26,000 more retirees.
(Excerpt from video clip) WILLIAMS: People have finally woke up, and we're here, and we're staying, and we're not going anywhere.
OLBERMANN: And - waking up to a new possibility. In the streets of Lower Manhattan, is the country reforming a viable new left? My special guest, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Right-wing smash. Today's newest targets - cutting Pell grants for low-income college students, cutting heating subsidies for the poor. The roach motel of counter-terror watch lists. Names check in, but they don't check out. You can be exonerated, acquitted. You could never have deserved to be on it in the first place, and you still can't get off "the list." "Worsts," Allen West's trolley finally jumps the track.
(Excerpt from video clip) ALLEN WEST: The president is a Marxist because he believes in the separation of classes.
OLBERMANN: And Bill O. gives up. "I'm not real interested in policy on this program anymore." Also, baseball's epic night. Goats and heroes and horrible predictions, and all of them at once.
(Excerpt from video clip) DAN SHAUGHNESSY: I think the Rays are not going to win tonight. I think that the one thing that we have eliminated tonight is the Red Sox season is not going to end tonight. They live to play another day.
(Excerpt from video clip) DEWAYNE STAATS: 2-2 and a line shot, down the left field line. That ball is gone! And the Rays win it!
OLBERMANN: How could it ever get worse than the Fenway apocalypse? Oh, it could get worse. It could get way worse. It could get way, way worse. Couldn't it, sir? Now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) TOM HANKS: There's no crying in baseball!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, September 29th. 404 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Suddenly, Occupy Wall Street is Occupy Wall Street With the Help of Two Powerful Unions. Actually, make that three. Four? Possibly five. First, the Air Line Pilots Association associated itself with the movement last night. Now, the New York City transit workers have signed up to join the protests tomorrow, and in the United Federations of Teachers, the SEIU, and next, perhaps, the United Auto Workers.
Fifth story on the "Countdown," this while the pepper spraying incidents at Occupy Wall Street will prove to occupy some of the time of the Manhattan district attorney.
The unions first.
Transit Workers Union Local 100 alone has 38,000 active members and another 26,000 retirees. Spokesman Jim Gannon says, "It's kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students. They're voicing our message. Why not join them?" While the Auto Workers connection is - at this point - just a murmur we heard. According to New York's Village Voice, exuberant TWU worker Christine Williams was already on the scene last night.
(Excerpt from video clip) WILLIAMS: People have finally woke up, and we're here, and we're staying, and we're not going anywhere.
OLBERMANN: And while New York was hit by a brief but intense storm this afternoon, celebrities continued to turn up at Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to show their support, including the Princeton University professor, author and commentator Dr. Cornel West.
(Excerpt from video clip) CORNEL WEST: They are taking a stand for justice in the face of the greed of Wall Street. They are standing for the best of America. They're concerned about poor children. They're concerned about working people. They're concerned about peoples of color.
OLBERMANN: And New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance - the district attorney for New York County, that is - also concerned with Saturday's incident that saw NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna spray pepper gas on four protestors already confined in a plastic police pen, to say nothing of a second incident involving the same officer and the same caustic chemical. Vance's Communications Director Erin Duggan saying, "The district attorney's office takes all allegations of police misconduct seriously."
The NYPD and New York's Civilian Complaint Control Board had already announced their own investigations after seeing the video we just showed, and this second video that came out yesterday that also showed Officer Bologna firing pepper spray at another group that included a photographer named Andrew Hinderaker. Hinderaker was wearing a press pass at the time he was hit.
He told The New York Times he also saw police grab a woman protestor from behind the barrier and throw her on the street. After taking pictures, he walked away, only to encounter Bologna. Seconds later, the photographer said, "I felt something wet on my hand and my face. It started to burn."
The head of another union - the NYPD's Captains Endowment Association - insists Bologna's actions "were limited, they restored order, and were motivated by his concern for the officers under his command, and by public safety." The videos documenting Bologna's conduct suggest otherwise.
While the protestors suggest they may be around for awhile. Asked how long Occupy Wall Street will be active in New York, protestor Shon Botado said, "Indefinitely. Until change is made to the financial structure." Given that the inequity that he's talking about predates JP Morgan and the Gould-Fisk attempt to corner the gold market and Diamond Jim Brady eating three steaks at a time at Delmonico's, it could be a very long time, indeed.
For more on the story, the investigation and on the impact that Occupy Wall Street's having on New York City, I'm joined by Errol Louis, the political anchor with the NY1 News and the host of one of the finest local news programs in the country "Inside City Hall," and author - co-author now - of "Deadline Artists." Pleasure to see you, sir.
ERROL LOUIS: Great to see you.
OLBERMANN: The Cyrus Vance Jr. investigation - is Manhattan, New York County, DA - of the pepper spraying. Is it typical, atypical? What's the context of it?
LOUIS: It's a little unusual, but then again, this is a pretty unusual event. I mean, we were talking around in the newsroom. Nobody in their memory could remember when a white-shirt command officer - command level officer - My dad was a cop, actually, was retired as an inspector - they don't go out and do stuff that ends up on tape that looks like that. They're supposed to be there to be looking over the shoulders of everybody else and make sure that they don't get out of line and that things don't get out of hand. So, this investigation is serious. It would have to be taken seriously. It's not a run-of-the-mill case. It's gotten a lot of attention. These viral videos, they do make an impact.
I mean, every prosecutor, including Vance, would say, "No, this is the dispassionate, neutral administration of justice." But the reality is, you get 400, 500, 600 complaints. You get press inquiries from all over the world. It's time to assign somebody above the level of intern to look into the case.
OLBERMANN: Like the case several years ago where the protestor was clotheslined by the guy - by the officer - the bicycle incident. There was video of it, and it was very compelling.
LOUIS: And that was a rookie. He was still on probation, and he lost his job.
OLBERMANN: This is different, though.
LOUIS: This is way different.
OLBERMANN: Do you even - have speculation as to why this senior officer would have been involved in this under those circumstances?
LOUIS: Well, I mean, I can tell you, knowing some people - including family members - I mean, they, you know, they get into it. They remain cops even if they're bosses, and they see something they don't like, they want to take action. That's very much the sort of - the profession calls for it, and that's the spirit of the department. I think there may have been, if I were to speculate, sort of a misunderstanding because when you do protests - and the police cover protests all the time in this town. Labor protests -
OLBERMANN: One an hour.
LOUIS: Yeah, and it's usually - usually organized, and it's usually choreographed. You tell them we're going to march over here, this number of people are going to get arrested, and then we're going go back to where we started from and so forth. It looked like this was sort of a wildcat action. It looked like - and the cops say over and over again, "We didn't know that they were going to go to Union Square. We didn't know they weren't going to say on the sidewalk like we asked them to" - and that, apparently, is where all of the trouble began.
OLBERMANN: Well, having had family members in my family who were both cops and protestors, I know that's the original idea of the protest. You don't get the permit, you just protest and whatever happens happens.
LOUIS: Here's a little secret, Al Sharpton - who's led dozens if not hundreds of marches in this town, he says it in his books, so I'm not telling any secrets, but most people don't know this - never gets a permit. Just does what he does.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, just go.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of permits and choreography, the NYPD investigation, the Civilian Complaint Board, do these things have any teeth, or does the NYPD - with this newly-reveled capacity it has to shoot planes out of the sky - does it pretty much run this town now?
LOUIS: The NYPD does run this town to this extent. The Civilian Complaint Review Board, although it's been beefed up, although for the first time over the last decade is really all civilians now, it really doesn't have the kind of clout or the number of investigators needed to really go in. On the other hand, they also said the Internal Affairs Bureau is looking at this, and they do have power.
LOUIS: And they do have clout. So, to the extent that the district attorney is looking, they have all the power in the world. I mean, they have prosecuted cops, not successfully in recent times on some high-profile cases, but they can - they can indict you. They can send you to prison if they get a conviction.
OLBERMANN: You read this city very well. Are you surprised that after ten days of barely moving the proverbial needle that the Occupy Wall Street group got some traction? Because usually - you get about 12 hours, and if you haven't made a mark, you're out.
LOUIS: This is true. I think they got - I've seen at least one article suggesting this - they got a boost from the NYPD, frankly. They were being ignored. That pepper-spray incident and the video that came from it has gotten them on the front page of newspapers all over the world. So, maybe it was calculated, maybe it was luck, maybe it was foolishness on the part of the NYPD, but they are on to something that maybe they weren't going to be on to.
OLBERMANN: And now the involvement of the unions. That's - that's the direct product of the attention, you suppose? It wasn't going to happen otherwise?
LOUIS: I don't know. You know, that's an interesting question. I mean, some of the unions that you ticked off - I mean TWU Local 100, they went on strike in violation of state law, and shut down this city a few years ago.
LOUIS: So, they have always been - that's very much their tradition. SCIU has also been one of the more militant unions.
LOUIS: These are sort of the ones that you could expect. Now if you start seeing some of the trade unions - the construction trades and some others come out - that would be big news. I don't know if this is them, you know, sort of throwing a little bit of a half-hearted lifeline there. But this is all taking place just a stone's throw from the United Federation of Teachers, one of the most powerful unions in the state. Their headquarters is right down there.
OLBERMANN: If they get started, then we are halfway to the "Communale."
Errol Louis, political anchor at the NY1 News and Host of "Inside City Hall," co-author of "Deadline Artists." Again, thanks for coming in.
LOUIS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: With labor unions and progressives organizations now joining Occupy Wall Street, and similar "Occupy" protests planed around the country, the possibility exists that - together - they might be synthesizing something this country seemingly has not had in decades - an active, motivated left coalition to counter the right wing. I'm joined by one of the leading progressive voices on Capitol Hill, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent of Vermont. Senator, thanks again for your time tonight.
BERNIE SANDERS: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Is that what is happening here - dare I say this - an American left is forming?
SANDERS: Well, I certainly hope so. The middle class is collapsing in America today. Poverty is increasing, and institutions like Wall Street have enormous power over our economy and political life. So, we desperately need a coming together of working people to stand up to Wall Street, corporate Americans, say "Enough is enough. We need to rebuild the middle class in this country. And you guys can't have it all."
OLBERMANN: How long do you think it's been since we have had an active viable left, even one comparable to the right? Is it Reagan, pre-Reagan? Is it Vietnam era?
SANDERS: It's been a very, very long time, Keith. There's no question about that. But what I appreciate about what's going on New York City right now is there is a spotlight being focused on Wall Street. We desperately need that. If we're going to get out of this recession, if we're going to create the millions of jobs that we desperately need, we need real Wall Street reform. I mean, right now - a lot of people don't know this - you have six financial institutions, the largest six banks in the country, who control 60% of the assets of the United States of America. After we bailed them out, because they were "too big to fail," three out of the four largest financial institutions actually became bigger.
SANDERS: So, if we are going to create a situation where capital is going to flow into the productive economy, into manufacturing, into rebuilding our infrastructure, into transforming our energy system, rather than continuing the casino-type games that Wall Street is playing right now, we need a lot of pressure on Wall Street. No question about that.
OLBERMANN: So, give me a read in that context about Occupy Wall Street. I mean, I have always had a theory that nothing has ever changed for the better in the history of this world without somebody starting by saying, "Hey, this is wrong. I don't know how to fix it. But this is wrong," and we just need to keep saying, "This is wrong," until everybody is saying, "Okay, let's get together and fix it."
SANDERS: Absolutely. And focusing attention on Wall Street is exactly the right thing to do. Let me give you just one other example, Keith.
In the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill, we managed to get a provision in there, which allowed for an audit of the Fed during the Wall Street bail out. What we learned - amazingly enough - is the Fed provided $16 trillion - $16 trillion - in low-interest loans to every financial institution in this country, and to central banks all over the world and large American corporations.
Now just think about what would happen if the Fed today said, "We have to deal with unemployment. We are going to make billions of dollars in low interest loans available to small businesses to those institutions in America that are actually part of the productive economy producing products, producing services and creating jobs." So, I think focusing on Wall Street, ending their speculation, demanding that they participate in the productive economy, helping us create the millions of jobs we desperately need, breaking up these behemoths, which are strangling our economy, is exactly the kind of attention that we need to be focusing on.
OLBERMANN: Well, all right, those folks who have been out there now for more than a week and a half, sometimes I think must I think feel like they are on the moon in terms of the media attention they are beginning to get it. But in terms of people taking it seriously, I am not sure the mainstream of the country is yet. You are a respected figure in the United States Senate, which is a rare thing. What would your message be to them directly, who are out there right now involved in Occupy Wall Street?
SANDERS: My message is - reach out to working people. Reach out to the unions. Reach out to the middle class. Bring people together, demanding real Wall Street reform so that the function of Wall Street is to provide capital to the productive economy, create jobs that we desperately need, rather than continue to engage in speculation and casino-type activities, i.e. real, real Wall Street reform.
OLBERMANN: Last point. There is an Occupy protest scheduled for the 6th of next month in Washington. Do you welcome them coming to the Capitol? Would you attend? I mean, they have already asked me. I'm sure they would rather have you.
SANDERS: Any attention that we can play - pay - to the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street ought to - what the Fed is not doing, I think, is deserved attention. So, I will, you know, see if I can be there. But I think focusing attention on this issue is enormously important.
OLBERMANN: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, one of the few people in office to say anything about this subject, and saying it wonderfully as always. Thank you, Senator.
SANDERS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Because trying to rob them of their Medicare and Social Security is not enough, the Republicans are now going after Pell Grants for poor students and heating subsidies for their poor grandparents.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Congresswoman Maxine Waters on the latest proposed atrocities by the far Right, cutting Pell Grants for poor kids and heating subsidies for cold adults.
Guilty, even if proved innocent, the FBI counter-terror watch list from which there is no escape, not even if you're not guilty.
Even if you can't tell Evan Longoria from Eva Longoria, you already heard about the kaleidoscopic night of heroes and goats in baseball, now what's next?
And which of TV's unintentional comedians said this, "Once in a while" - gave it away - "Once in a while, we'll have an explosion, we'll have a pie fight. You become a caricature if you do it all the time." Hint, he's already a caricature. "Worst Persons" ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Just when it seemed House Republicans couldn't get any more heartless, they unveil a plan today that would literally leave millions of low-income Americans out in the cold, proposing cuts to heating subsidies, job-training programs and education grants.
Our fourth story on the "Countdown" - the Republican's proposed measure reads like a how-to guide to dismantle this nation's already endangered 75-year-old safety net. The Republicans would now block implementation of the 2010 Health Care Reform, cut off funding for both National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood, also slash heating subsidizes for the poor by $1.3 billion - that's nearly a third of the subsidy budget - and make it harder for low-income students to qualify for Pell Grants. Right now, 9 million Americans depend on those Pell Grants to access higher education.
House Republicans plan to wrap the measure into a larger omnibus spending bill in coming months, setting the stage for another months-long battle between their party and the White House. And they already are revving up the spin machine. They claim they aren't cutting vital services here, they're actually protecting them.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, of Kentucky, telling the Associated Press "To protect critical programs and services that many Americans rely on - especially in this time of fiscal crisis - the bill takes decisive action to cut duplicative, inefficient and wasteful spending." Cutting in order to not cut, Congressman Orwell.
It's as if the Republicans have stopped trying to come up with even plausible-sounding excuses for why they don't look out for the nation's most vulnerable. And in some ways, they don't have much to lose on this front. Already polling showing that just seven percent of Americans think Congressional Republicans favor the so-called "have-nots" over the "haves." I'm surprised it's that high. And that was even before they introduced this bill.
President Obama fares slightly better. About one in three Americans thinks he prioritizes the "have-nots." No political leader, however, is seen by the majority as prioritizing the country's poorest. So much for all that rhetoric about the government favoring low-income Americans and inciting class warfare. Joining me now, Representative Maxine Waters, the Democrat of California, member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Always a pleasure, Congresswoman, thanks for your time tonight.
MAXINE WATERS: Thank you, Good evening.
OLBERMANN: This is not tea partiers introducing extreme legislation. In fact - of all things - the tea party Caucus opposed this. What does that tell you about how mainstream - the mainstream Republicans - how extreme they have become?
WATERS: Well, it speaks to the fact they have become extremely, extremely harmful to the average American and, particularly, the poor people and people in need. You said it in your introduction.
How can you - in this country that supposedly cares about seniors, cares about the most vulnerable - how can you cut the home-heating program? I mean, this is a program that seniors - in particular, the frail elderly - depend on. In the wintertime, you have seniors who are alone in their apartments who have no money for heat and they depend on these subsidies and now they are going to cut them. It is just unconscionable.
This draft piece of legislation that they put out for the year 2012 - this is the Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill - comes as a surprise in the way that they're doing it. It's not even had a hearing. It looks as if they're gonna bypass the regular order of Congress and move forward with all of these cuts, not only to the low-income heating program, but also in Pell Grants - as you mentioned - education and all throughout the bill, they have defunded everything that have anything to do with health-care reform that they refer to as Obamacare.
OLBERMANN: This all amounts to - I don't even know, I was gonna say borderline sadism - I don't even know if it's borderline. I think it's just sadism against people who can't fight back. At what point are Democrats going to call it that and campaign on that and run these self-serving Republicans, who are there to defend the rich, out of town?
WATERS: One of the things I want my party, the Democratic Party, to do is to go into communities that are hurting. Go into rural communities, as well as the urban communities and say to the people, "You are not being represented by the persons that you have sent to Congress."
Many of these areas that are suffering, who have representatives who don't deal with their economic need, don't deal with their health needs - they get away with it and the Democratic Party is not taking it on. We are not educating them. We are not shining a light on the lack of representation that they have in their communities.
I think that we have to change our strategy and we have to get into these communities and we have to let people know they are organizing you, telling you somebody is burning the flag and getting you all fired up, but what they don't tell you is they're not supporting money so that you can live a little bit longer and have a better quality of life.
OLBERMANN: The Harry Truman quote from 1948 suddenly comes to mind, when he said, "How many times do you have to get hit over the head before you realize who it is that keeps hitting you over the head?" I mean, isn't that the premise here? To sell this to - to people who think they're somehow - they're going to win the lottery next month, so they want to be on the side of the rich? Is that what we're dealing with here?
WATERS: Well, one of the things I know that we are doing is - we are allowing people who have great needs to not know and understand how government is working and who's working in their behalf. And poor people in many of these rural areas who truly do not have representation and have right-wing conservatives and even these tea party people who claim to be representing them, but distracting them on issues that have nothing to do with their well-being are getting away with it. And we've got to do something about it.
Let me just tell you, you just talked about what is happening up on Wall Street and how the left is organizing against the abuses that have been perpetrated on all of us by Wall Street and I want to tell you - this is gonna grow. And it's not only gonna grow in relationship to the big - "too big to fail" operations. It's gonna grow because people sitting out here, wondering where their next meal is gonna come from, where their jobs are gonna come from - unemployment at 9.1%, 16.7% in African American communities, 11.3% in Latino communities - they cannot - we cannot - sit and allow this to continue to go on without speaking up and without getting involved and saying, "Something is wrong with this picture."
And the Republicans, who are leading the bandwagon for dismantling government, they're inflicting great harm on this economy. They are going to cut jobs. When you cut jobs, there's less money. You can't stimulate an economy by cutting the jobs. You cut all of these jobs that they are cutting, even in this bill, alone, you're going to feel the pain of that in our economy. And so, people are going to rebel against this.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. Representative Maxine Waters of California. As always, Congresswoman, great thanks for some of your time tonight.
WATERS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: How do you get yourself removed from a FBI terror watch list from which nobody gets removed? Guilt is guilt and innocence is also guilt. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The FBI's counter-terrorism watch list, the one you cannot get off of, no matter how guilty you are not. Next.
First, the "Sanity Break." And on this date in 1942 was born Ian McShane, Blackbeard in the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. Also, "The Parrots of the Caribbean" movie they're coming out with next week. And for 49 years, one of the most consistent actors here and in his native England - from "Lovejoy" to "Deadwood" to "Dallas" to "Disraeli." And we're very happy to say a "Countdown" viewer of long standing. So, happy birthday, Ian McShane.
"Time Marches On."
I'd quote him from "Dead Spin," but - from "Deadwood," rather, but we haven't started swearing yet. Yeah, there's a reason I'm distracted. It's two bear cubs wrestling with dad watching in the corner. "Hey, Boo-Boo, stop messing around the picnic baskets." In the end, they called a truce without declaring a winner. Aw, but really, when was the last time you saw the Cubs win anything anyway?
Also in sports, one more game on the schedule - the Brother Elephants and the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese league. I don't think it's playable. It's foul. The really foul part? The guy dropped his young daughter while going for the foul ball. Little girl's fine, but I can't say the same for the drive home with the missus. I think this look translates into all languages, and that was before her team, the Brother Elephants, blew that nine-game lead in the Wild Card race to the Monkeys.
Speaking of monkeys, here's a monkey riding around on the back of a mountain goat who's walking on a tightrope - You had me at the mountain goat. If this is real, it is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life - right here on the 17 mark - or is it? That's right. Let's increase the degree of difficulty. Put the goat on a vase - all right, little higher. The monkey does a handstand. You monkey have a nice handstand - do that handstand. I said does he have a license? If a monkey doing a handstand on a goat, who's balancing on a vase on a tightrope doesn't do it for you, my friend, nothing ever will. Unfortunately, the monkey later tested positive for performance-enhancing bananas.
"Time Marches On."
Real sports - as in the extraordinary night of baseball and the extraordinary repercussions it could have in one city where two World Series in eight years is suddenly not enough - plus the terror watch list where innocence is no excuse next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: "Arthur Murray's Dumont Dance Party" will not be seen tonight, so we can instead bring you "Countdown," live each weeknight at 8:00 P.M. Eastern, 5:00 P.M. Pacific and now in color.
When it comes to a criminal trial, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard the prosecution must meet to secure a conviction. And acquittal means you're not guilty. When it comes to counter terrorism, reasonable suspicion is all it takes to keep a suspect on the government's terrorist watch list indefinitely.
In our third story on the "Countdown," FBI files obtained through The Freedom of Information Act document now how people who have been acquitted of terrorist charges, or had terrorist charges dropped in court, can still be barred from planes or subjected to tight scrutiny at airports, border crossings and even traffic stops.
According to The New York Times, there are 420,000 names on the list including some 8,000 Americans with no official procedure that would allow them to find out if they're on the list or challenge the charges against them if they're on the list. The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed the suit that saw the info released. We'll talk to one of the group's attorneys in a moment.
Other groups are also speaking out. A counsel with the ACLU called the watch list system "a star chamber, a secret determination that you have no input into that you are a terrorist. Once that determination is made, it can ripple through your entire life, and you have no way to challenge it."
The FBI reviewed 224 pages requested in the FOI suit and released just 92. Many of those had blank spaces for redactions, others would leave most readers blank, like this one: "Typically, the FBI only nominates subjects of predicated investigations for watch listing. However, certain circumstances may arise in which the FBI determines a person who is not the subject of a predicated investigation warrants watch listing because that person poses a threat. This may include, in limited circumstances, the subject of a closed FBI investigation."
As we try to recover from that, let's bring in - from Washington - Ginger McCall, a lawyer with EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Thanks for your time tonight.
GINGER McCALL: Thank you very much for having me.
OLBERMANN: So, never mind "innocent 'til proven guilty." This thing is guilty even after you've been proved innocent?
McCALL: Yep, you may still be assumed to be guilty and included on the watch list even after you've been acquitted, even after your case has been dismissed.
OLBERMANN: And that's presuming you know about it, because - obviously Orwellian is such a cliché. I already used it once in the show - but here's a list you can't get off of even if you shouldn't have been there. Is it also true that law enforcement can't tell people on the list that they are in fact on the list?
McCALL: Absolutely. In these documents, we saw that there are three separate handling codes for law-enforcement interaction with people who are on the list. And every single one of those codes says absolutely do not let this person know that they are on the list. The list is federal property.
OLBERMANN: So, this is the perfect circle, then. This is, I mean, this is the ACLU's nightmare - your nightmare, my nightmare - and in fact, it is Catch-22. If you're too crazy, you can't fly. But if you tell anybody you're crazy, then you must be sane enough to fly.
McCALL: It's true, and it's even worse than that ACLU quote suggested, because what's not mentioned in that quote is the fact that you may not even know that you're on the list. So, not only can you not petition for redress, it's very difficult to actually get removed from the list. But you probably don't even know if you're on it, because law enforcement is expressly told not to let you know.
OLBERMANN: And is this the same - are we still in the same stage we were in six or seven years ago where a name on the list means everybody who has that name is conceivably subjected to this sort of extra scrutiny? If - there are, unfortunately - for America, there aren't any other Keith Olbermanns, but, if there - anybody else bearing your name, you were on the list, all 400 of you might be subjected to being investigated?
McCALL: I'm not sure if it would be all 400, but we've certainly seen a lot of instances where there was a mix-up with a name, a person who had a same, or similar, name to someone who was on that list who was also included on that list then.
OLBERMANN: All right, so the ACLU opposes it, you - EPIC - oppose it, but where are the elected officials, where are the Congressmen and the Senators, even just on bringing light to this, never mind actually taking a stance on something?
McCALL: It's difficult. You know, we really need to get more public support behind this. You know, we see the Patriot Act continue to be renewed. There's a real fear in this country to do anything that would be considered against national security policy, but we need to have a balance in this system between national security and civil liberties. And people need to create that sort of pressure on their elected officials.
OLBERMANN: Do they keep the balance swung in the opposite direction, not for any level of security, but because - once this thing would be opened up and people would find out they got on to these lists by rumor, innuendo, hearsay, typographical errors - somebody, you know, putting the wrong list page in the wrong order - that there would be lawsuits until the end of time?
McCALL: Yeah. I mean, there is a real problem with accountability here. With transparency would come accountability, and that's why we want greater transparency about this list.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, practically speaking, other than calling the Congress, what do you do?
McCALL: Well, calling Congress is always a good start. We'd like to see more oversight about the list, how many names are on it, how many names are added or removed every year. We'd like more transparency about the removal - way that you can get your name removed, the procedures behind that. You know, we just - we really need more oversight and more transparency. The list needs to be more in line with the protections of the Privacy Act. And the Privacy Act is the law that allows people - if the government has a database - to go to that database, to say to the government, "I want to know what information you have about me," and then to correct that information if it's wrong.
OLBERMANN: Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, EPIC. Thank you, and good luck on this issue.
McCALL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Fenway-pocalypse, the indomitable Tampa Rays and the stricken Atlanta Braves, and all at once. Baseball's big night ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Funny that Boston baseball fans are ready to burn down Fenway Park because the Red Sox blew a nine-game lead in the pennant race last night, while things are calmer in Atlanta, because the lead the Braves blew was only eight and a half games. What happened? What will happen? And the greatest line ever about the plight of being a Red Sox fan.
First, the "Worsts." You don't want to know how just how far it's gone. This Michigan legislator wants to put teachers in jail for saying they like their union, next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Probably the single best day of baseball in 25 years, followed by the hangover that is threats, recriminations and the prospect of anticlimactic playoffs, next.
First, because - for these guys - every day is like blowing a nine-game lead, here are "Countdown's" nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze to Bill O. the clown, super genius.
Possibly to make up for his fluffing of Roger Ailes of Fox News, Howard Kurtz at the Daily Beast released outtakes from his piece, including this gem from O'Reilly on what O'Reilly puts into his show: "I'm not real interested in policy on this program anymore. We used to do that, but it just didn't resonate. Policy is very complicated, and TV just doesn't have the time."
Policy's too complicated? Saves more time for demonizing immigrants, doing body-language segments, having more women on with large breasts and, of course, scotch. But wait, there's more:
"Once in a while, we'll have an explosion - we'll have a pie fight. You become a caricature if you do it all the time." Once in a while evidently means he does not come to your house, knock on your door and have a pie fight on your porch. And who needs to become a caricature when you're celebrating your 35th anniversary as a caricature?
Runner-up - Michigan State Rep Al Pscholka, of Stevensville. He is the sponsor of one of the nastiest pieces of legislation to come down the pike in a while, even in Michigan, which was taken over by the Republican fascists quite a while ago.
Pscholka's SHB-4052 is now out of committee, and it includes a small punishment for any teacher in Michigan who conducts either union or political business over, say, public-school email servers - a fine of up to $1,000 or a year in prison. You send an email saying the union is opposed to - I don't know, beating students with cat o' nine tails - whatever the Republicans have in mind next - you could go to jail. In theory, if you send an email that includes the phrase, "I think the union is wrong about this," you could go to jail. Way to take care of the people who are trying to turn your little rat Republican kids into potential human beings.
But our winner - the foremost failure of America's educational system - his self-appointed holy godliness - Congressman Allen West of Florida. His latest target? The President of the United States, Joe Stalin.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Do you think that President Obama, that the result - the negative result of his policies and the destruction in his wake, is inadvertent because he's inept? Or do you think - as some people increasingly believe, and as Rush Limbaugh has suggested - that this is intentional?
(Excerpt from video clip) ALLEN WEST: It is intentional, because - it's intentional because this is who the president is. The president is a Marxist, because he believes in the separation of classes. We have never heard of a president in the United States of America speak as he is. And when you have a national leader - you look throughout history - when you have a national leader that demonizes a certain segment of a society and attacks them, it has never ended up well. And yet, that's what we have. He is a socialist, because he believes in nationalizing production -
OLBERMANN: Congressman Goober, Ronald Reagan raised taxes on the richest people 11 times. I don't know if you realize this, Mr. West, but Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.
And 51 years ago, when Dwight Eisenhower was ending his term, taxes on the richest were 91 percent. And if you could pry yourself away from the mirror long enough, Colonel, maybe you'll remember that Eisenhower was a Republican like Richard Nixon, under whom the rate was 70 percent.
I know, I know. Reagan, Eisenhower, Nixon - Congressman, you think these are all mythical characters, and that the only reality is those four imaginary little men who follow you around all day and night, each of whom stands about two feet tall and smokes a corn-cob pipe, and will always sing "Walk Like an Egyptian" while you're trying to sleep - you think that's the only reality.
That and all those Marxists out there. Groucho Marx and musician Richard Marx and Mark Schattner and Marx - Congressman Allen West of Florida, seriously, you're in desperate need of professional help. Please, please get it. Today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: On September 3rd, the Boston Red Sox had what was estimated to be a 99.6% chance of making the baseball playoffs. The Atlanta Braves chances were 96.5%.
But, in our number-one story - as the great former Boston sportscaster, Clark Booth, observed 25 years ago this month - the permanent mindset of New England baseball remains "If the Red Sox win today it is only because losing tomorrow will hurt more."
Apparently, that's also true in Atlanta. Atlanta and St. Louis were tied for the National League wild card this time last night. Then St. Louis coasted over the Houston Astros behind a complete game shutout by Chris Carpenter.
Atlanta had a tougher matchup. They played a National League team called the Philadelphia Phillies. Holding a 3-2 lead in the ninth, Atlanta's rookie closer Craig Kimbrel allowed a sacrifice fly to Chase Utley to tie the game, which went to the 13th. Philadelphia's Hunter Pence - formerly of Houston, 'til they gave him away - drove in the winning run on a little flair towards second. Cardinals' clubhouse was watching and there was much rejoicing.
In the American League on September 1st, the Red Sox had been in first place in the Eastern Division - half a game ahead of the New York Yankees - and in the wild card, nine games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. But, we've all heard about that meteor that could hurdle from space and destroy life as we know it. It hit the Red Sox.
Last night they were tied with Tampa for that wild card. The Sox were facing the last place Orioles. The Rays were playing the first-place Yankees. It seemed as though Boston would hold on, especially when the Yanks jumped out to a 7-0 lead and the Red Sox were holding a 3-2 lead when a rain delay in Baltimore stopped play. At that point Boston Globe sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy - the man who popularized the curse of the Bambino - went on to the Red Sox broadcast and said the worst thing he could have possibly ever said in a million years.
(Excerpt from video clip) HEIDI WATNEY: What do you think the odds are that the Rays rally in this game?
(Excerpt from video clip) SHAUGHNESSY: I think the Rays are not going to win tonight. I think that the one thing that we have eliminated tonight is the Red Sox season is not going to end tonight. They live to play another day.
OLBERMANN: No sooner said than - with two outs in the eighth - the Rays scored six runs and then, with two outs and two strikes on him in the bottom of the ninth, Tampa's Dan Johnson - who hadn't gotten a base hit since April 27th - tied the game with a pinch-hit home run. Back in Baltimore, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up the lead on a double to Nolan Reimold and then Robert Andino stepped up to the plate.
(Excerpt from video clip) DON ORSILLO: Andino to left field, in comes Crawford, can't make the catch, he pops up. The throw to the plate is going to be off the mark. And the Orioles walk off with the win!
OLBERMANN: Carl Crawford, actually the best $500 billion ever spent in baseball free-agent history. Literally, three minutes later in Tampa.
(Excerpt from video clip) STAATS: 2-2 and a line shot, down the left field line. That ball is gone! And the Rays win it!
OLBERMANN: And - just like that - the postseason matchups had been decided, and Fenway apocalypse and the Brave-less new world were history. Let's bring in Houston Chronicle columnist, MLB Network Insider Richard Justice. Good to talk to you, Richard.
RICHARD JUSTICE: You're taking a little too much pleasure from this, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All my friends are with the Red Sox, or at least they were when the show started. This - this - this was not the single-best day in baseball history. That's the arrogance of now suggesting that. I understand people's exuberance about it. But - it's the best in at least a quarter century, right? At least since the epic games of the 1986 postseason, right?
JUSTICE: Well, it was great because it was scheduled -
JUSTICE: - and you look at the start of the day, and you said, "Hey, this is going to be fun." And when it was over, I was probably like you. I was saying, "Now, wait a minute, let me digest everything I just saw here." Dan Shaughnessy's next book will be to point out that Carl Crawford - three minutes before Longoria's home run - dropped the ball. Longoria hit that home run into a place in the wall that was carved out so Carl Crawford could hit home runs there when he played for the Rays.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, but it's not just that. Because Dan Shaughnessy's next book - I mean, he is the one who pushed the Babe Ruth jinx, the curse of the Bambino. So, absolutely, clearly - in Boston - the new curse is the curse of the Shaun-bino, right? I mean, it's his fault because he said that. He never does that. He's never like that. He's not a - he's not a Red Sox rooter, apologist, or anything else. He jinxed them. It's his fault, isn't it?
JUSTICE: Yeah, and you could see it coming. Ten days ago, probably when this month started, you and I both said, "No, this won't happen." They'll make it interesting. La Russa had a meeting with his guys when they were ten out and just said, "Hey, play respectable. You gained respect of all of baseball all year by overcoming adversity. Don't ruin it now."
But about ten days ago, you - knowing how this game plays out - you said, "It's not can happen, it's gonna happen." Because this game failure, this game eats away at you like no other. You have all day in your hotel room to think about your failures and then you got to go out and play again and try to overcome them. It's - it's - it's - it's why - it's the best game on Earth.
OLBERMANN: But it's not magic, and it's not curses. It can snowball, but the collapses would seem to be - as collapses go - relatively easily explained. My two theories and agree with me, or correct me if you will. Fredi Gonzalez - great man and great manager of the Braves - just overused his bullpen into the ground. The kids had nothing left. And he kept starting Derek Lowe about six months after Derek Lowe should have retired. And the Red Six pitching staff broke, and every one of the Red Sox hitters was out there, each pitch trying to hit the proverbial ten-run home run.
JUSTICE: Right, and I think in previous choke jobs, you look and there's a knucklehead factor. These are two of the great organizations in baseball. Smart general managers, smart managers. Yeah, you're right, Atlanta lost its two best starting pitchers. Lowe didn't win. Uggla didn't hit. The bullpen was just worn out.
And in Boston, that great rotation, that thing that lead them right through the season, it went - it went away. It - Clay Buchholz got hurt. Josh Beckett had a couple of bad games, and then the bullpen blew a couple of games. All things that are explainable, and when you start looking for people to blame - look, sometimes there's no one to blame.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, you don't need dramatic comeback - you don't need a team coming in - you don't need the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers and a 30-point margin being overcome. You can - incremental things can create that kind of drama, which is why baseball is better than the other sports. But, one thing - one plan about expanding the playoffs, and putting an extra round in there to increase the number of wild cards, or have a wild card play-in game - did that just get crushed by the drama of last night of the regular season, last night? Did we mercifully kill that thing off based on what happened last night?
JUSTICE: I don't think so. I think the TV partners want it, so it's probably going to happen -
OLBERMANN: Screw the TV partners.
JUSTICE: A month ago, we didn't think there would be this. I think when you add in two more playoff teams, you know, you have more moving parts, they're probably - we will have more excitement. But I don't know that we're going have another night like that one. That is just magical, and thanks to the MLB Network and ESPN we could watch it all and digest it all.
OLBERMANN: Okay. Predictions - no times for explanations. Just pick a team. Yankees/Tigers.
OLBERMANN: I disagree, Tigers. Rangers/Rays.
OLBERMANN: Okay, we agree on that. American League pennant then, you've got - I got Tigers/Rangers. You've got Yanks/Rangers. Who wins the pennant?
JUSTICE: I like the Texas Rangers.
OLBERMANN: Okay, we agree on that. Phillies/Cardinals?
OLBERMANN: Phillies, agreed. Diamondbacks/Brewers.
OLBERMANN: National League pennant?
OLBERMANN: I think Brewers. All right, so you've got a Texas/Phillies World Series. Who wins the World Series?
OLBERMANN: Okay. I got the Texas/Milwaukee series. I like the Brewers. We'll see how it turns out.
JUSTICE: Well, I like the - we all like the Brewers. That's the thing, you could make a case for eight teams here.
OLBERMANN: I know, we'll see it. Richard Justice, national baseball correspondent of the Houston Chronicle, also of MLB Network. Great thanks, Richard.
That's "Countdown" for this, the 60th day since the Republicans' debt-ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs? Where's our credit rating? And where is Carl Crawford's refund?
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.