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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 10, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PST

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or does it sound more like the cynical machinations? if you want to defend torture, by all means, go ahead. but, please, i'm begging you, spare me any sermons about the law ever, ever again. that is "all in" for this evening. >> good evening, chris. thank you, my friend. and thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. ten weeks before barack obama was elected president of the united states, 2000 e8, 10 weeks before that, this man died. his name was urie nosenko. i apologize this is an old and really great picture of him. there aren't many great pictures of him. that's because he lived a deliberately mysterious life.
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he had been a spy, a kgb agent. but when nosenko died, he died in the united states. we're not even told what state he had been living in. the c.i.a., it turns out, had basically put urie nosenko an income and settled him somewhere secretly in the american south, 40 years ago. a month before he died, several c.i.a. officials dropped in on him for an in-person visit. this guy is living under and assumed name.
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nobody knows anything to tie him to the c. imt a. nobody knows his real flame, right? but a month before he dies, several senior c.i.a. officials show up on his doorstep in person somewhere in the american soit. and they brought with him to give to him an american flag. and they also gave him a personal, one-on-one director from the c.i.a. he thanked him for his service. by implication, the officers offered a final apology for the way he was treated after he defected to the united states in the winter of 1964. when he first expressed interest and was crossing over, or at
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least doing a little work for the c.i.a., if they could help him out with some kgb money that he apparently lost in geneva after a night with a prostitute and a bottle of vodka in 1962. in exchange for money, nosenko started offering little tidbits of information, including key information about russian spies who were working in various embassies. he had some curious information about how spies were spying drektly on the united states. he told the c.i.a. the spechk how the russians had gotten away with plantding those microphones in such a way that the american embassy had never detected them, even though they had been sweeping the embassy for bugs. so he's getting them really valuable information.
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in 1964, he decided to defect to the united states. and that is when things started going horribly wrong. in 1963, the c.i.a. had written an interrogation manual, basically where they would use torture techniques. they would even use things like hypnosis and drugging people into a stupor to try to get more out of them in an interrogation. a year before, when nosenko defekted, that was a year before as their guidelines. the other thing that happened right before he got there was
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the assassination of president john f kennedy. the man who killed president kennedy was lee harvey oswald. while lee harvey osa e wald had been, nosenko had bun one of the kgb officers who was assigned to interview him. he had viewed the soviet files on lee harvey oswald. frankly, the united states was losing our minds. not only in grief and in shock over this presidential assassination, but, also, obsessively trying to figure out if lee harvey oswald had acted alone. here was nosenko, brand new kgb defector.
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he had to know whether he acted alone or whether he was the agents of our great rooifrl. the agent of this foreign power and the information that he had was what lee harvey oswald had, in fact, acted alone. he knew from firsthand experience. that the soviets thought it was unstable, personally unfit for my kind of spy work, so they didn't put him up to anything. and in the winter of 1964, the c.i.a. decided that they didn't believe him. and they had this c.i.a. interrogation manual for how you interrogate people. they decided that they were going to use all of it. and so in 1964, they locked him
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up near williamsburg, virginia. they put him in solitary confine lt. they put him in a small, con kreet sell m he was left by wriegt, uninteryou wanted light. he was entirely alone. he had exactly zero contact with any other humans. he was given no sensory stimulus. he was giveble een nothing to read, nothing to occupy his time. he was giving purposely revolting food. when he did finally have any con tablgts, it was to abuse him. forcible repeeted body searches
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can't have the effect of being humiliated and degraded. but that's what the manual said would work. at the end of it, the cia concluded after endless interrogation and polygraph exams, they concluded that he had been telling the truth all along. he actually had nothing to offer. so, in 1967, they set him free with a new name. they let him resettle in some anonymous place in the american south. that was 1967. two years later, they decided he was legitimately a defector. eventually, the c.i.a. had realized that they haven't fixed this.
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what the c.i.a. had done was wrong. wrong. it was a bad idea. it was not only an embarrassment, but they were worried that if they did this again, they were going to continue making mistakes. that might be costly mistakes. so a few years later, the cia had done 1200 plus days of constantly sleep deprivation. the c.i.a. conclusion was that that entire operation, including the treatment of him over those 1200 plus days was an abomination. and the c.i.a. got rid of that interrogation manual.
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irt's a bad idea. we've tried it. it's a bad idea. there were almosts in the c.i.a. who wanted to bring the methods back from time-to-time. the cia found out about that officer doing that and disciplined the guy. the c.i.a. recommended that that officer be adds monoished for i believe e inappropriate use of interrogation techniques. so yes,it is there. but they knew, functionally, it didn't work.
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in 1988, the c.i.a. deputy director testified that treatmented objected by the c.i.a., not because it's wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective. again, they were in a position to know they had tried it. that was not the aclu testifying to congress, right? that was not a human rights watch. that was the cia testifying to congress about something in which it had experienced. they know why you don't torture people. they knew what they were talking about. that, aparentally, during the last presidency, they forgot. one of the more remarkable things we had never seen before
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that got published for the first time today in the senate intelligence committee torture report was this memo from november, 2001. this is november, 2001. right after the 9/11 attacks. we had never seen this memo before today. it was written by c.i.a. lawyers and the office of the general council e sell. and they wrote a policy decision must be made with regard to u.s. use of torture. and they were thinking prospectively. the skrrks ia did not have prisoners in custody at this point. but in the abstract, thinking
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about getting new prisoner after 89 e 9/1, they decided that they thought they might want to start torturing people. so they better come up with a way to justify it. torture is what they called it themselves. we didn't exactly have anybody on staff who knew how to do it. the closest thing we had were the training programs in the u.s. military that were designed to help our troops, u.s. troops, who might e may be captured abroad to some terrorist group somewhere. we had these training programs that would help them survive somebody else torturing them so
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those programs, that is where the cia won't to help develop what they specifically called a torture program. they captured two psychologists who help service members survive torture techniques. and, basically, they asked the sigh kolgs to do that training in reverse. to come up with ways not to survive that kind of torture, but to come up with ways to impose that kind of torture. james mitchell and bruce drezen had no experience in intelligence work. they had no experience in al-qaida or any related terrorist groups. they have no relevant cow e
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culture experience, but people would soon be kaet e getting captured by the krirks a,a. cia. niert one of them had conducted an interrogation, ever, in the real world. never. no experience. and the cia hired him. we didn't have a torture bram. now, they also needed somewhere to operate. you might have previously heard it described as the salt pit or as the dark prison. it was in afghanistan. more than half of the 119 prisons held in the c.i.a. looked at today, more than half spent at least some of their time at cobalt at the salt pit. to run that facility, the cia sent over to afghanistan, quote, a junior officer on his first
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overseas assignmented. and once there, once set up, at that facility, they kind of freelanced. the krerks ia kept few formal records. now this junior officer obviously wouldn't seem to be the obvious candidate. for this 180 degree turn in american policy and this big new thing we're going to do, you wouldn't think we're going to pick a guy over seas before. but this june i don't ever officer was sent off to run the salt pit. before he was sent off to run the salt pit, other officers at the cia had proposed that that
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junior officer shouldn't be allowed to access classified information because of his lack of honesty, judgemented and maturity. even before he got sent other there. that is who they put in charge of the prison by more than half the people who were held by the c.i.a. the c.i.a. director, michael hayden assured congress that only the best of the best were involved in this very delicate, very well-thought out program. he told congress in 2 0e 07, all of those involved in the questioning of detainees are carefully chosen and screened for demonstrated professional judgment and maturity. however, well screened this june yor officer was, who was running this cobalt facility, in november, 2001, a pentagon advisor visited that siet and couldn't hope to be warden of
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that facility, he has little to no experience with interrogating or handling prisoners. but, never theless, he was put in charge. in november, 2002, ordering that the prisoner be shackled to rest on the bare con kreet floor. the man was wearing only a sweatshirt as the officer said that the rest of his clothing be removed. the next day, the guards found the man's dead body. an internal cia review autopsy suggested that he likely died from hype therm ya. ordered the guy to shackle the wall half naked, the officers in charge of cobalt was aufred a $2500 cash reward for his
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consistently superior work. we knew before today that the c.i.a. had tortured people. what we did not know today was exactly how they did some of it and exactly how much of it they did and how much they tried to conceal it while they were doing it and after. but the other thing we didn't know is just what mess they were as they tried to invent this program out of cloth. this did not organically happen. it was a departure from what that previously decided as an agency. we want to start torturing people now. let's start a program. now, i doubt there's any good way to run a torture program. but all of these assurances that this was so carefully done, so
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well thought out, so professional, so carefully monitored to extract only what we needed under e under the most highly-controlled circumstances. it wasn't like that. it was chaos. and the report today started one station chief writes back to headquarters in december, 20003. of he writes back to headquarters about whom we know very little. they don't even know who we have. they have custody of who's in charge without knowing who they were or why they were there. people who have been treated with these techniques for months while they weren't actually being questioned about anything. nobody knew why they were there. it was chaos. it was not just a torture program. it was a very poorly-run torture program.
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when michael hayden, then the director of the c.i.a., when he sent that thank you letter, thank you for your service, that implicit apology and that folded american flag to a dying nosenko somewhere in the south in the summer of 2008. we're sorry we tortured you. we know it was wrong. we thank you for your service to this country. when he dispatched that banquet of senior cia officials, to go apologize to that man in the last month before he died, somewhere in the south in the summer of 2008, it was right before the president shl election, i hear. imagine what was going through e through his mind. george w. bush was about to leave office. the next president of the united states was either going to be the war hero republican senator who had been shot down over vietnam, taken prisoner and
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tortured brutally for years. whether or not he had become a clarion voice to ban torture. his whole rise had been kick started to the moral, strategic abominations of the war in iraq, war on terror and these disgusting revelations about torture. it was either going to be john mccain or barack obama looking ahead from that late summer, 20078. at the c ix a, i am sure if one thing they thought they knew for sure was that there were going to be prosecutions for what they had done. you had to believe that fween obama and mccain, that accountability was going to
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come. so in those last couple weeks, they got right with nosenko. they got right with him in the last few weeks of his life. and now, it turns out, 6 1/2 years later, this is as right as we're ever going to get with any of the rest of them. no pros kugszs, no named officers, no named policymakers who signed off on it. even jessen and mitchell. they turned 24e78s into a company and collected $81 million in taxpayer money for their services in designing the torture program. plus they got a guarantee of legal immunity if they ever needed it. this is the only reckoning we're ever going to get. how can that be?
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in washington today, ofly there was this huge furer over the release of the torture report. when one big thing takes over washington, you've got the headlines for tomorrow's paper and all of this. on days like this, when there's one megastory, lots of other things can happen in the background and not get much noticed. today, one of those things that happened very quietly was surprisingly sane and constructive. a concrete advance towards something that seems like a good idea. believe it or not. that's coming up. stay with us.
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president barack obama sat down with msnbc's jose diez balart. look. >> we took some steps that we're contrary to who we are, contrary to our values. and some of the tactics that were written about in the report were brutal. as i've said before, constituted torture. and that's not who we are. and so although i am concerned about potential ramifications overseas and we've taken precautionary steps to try to mitigate any additional risks, i think it was important for us to release this so that we can account for it. so that people understand, precisely why i banned these practices as one of the fist acts i took when i came into office.
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and, hopefully, make sure that we don't make those mistakes again. >> make sure that we don't make those mistakes again. president obama speaking again tonight. that aired tonight on telemundo right after the torture report was released today. senator john mccain who he, himself, survived torture in vietnam. he gave a much-awaited an passionate speech that set the tone for much of the day today. >> i know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good. i know that victims of torture will lead to intentionally misleading information. i know they'll say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering. this executive summary orr the committee's report makings clear
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that acting without conscience isn't necessary. it isn't even help vl in winning this strange and long world -- war we're fighting. we should be grateful to have that truth affirmed. >> we should be 0 to have that truth affirmed. is this it? the report was released today with a big thump. and partisan consequences and political consequences and moral consequences are really yet to be seen. what comes next here? what is next on msnbc. thank you so much for being here. >> good to be here. >> it has been a day to immerse ourselves in the data. all of this documentation involving going through today. first of all, let me just ask you why was this so hard to get releeszed? they cannot release anything unless the cia signs off on it. and this had to be ne gauche yat ne gauche ne gauche yated by the white house chief of staff.
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she's leaving the committee's chairmanship as republicans take over. so she was determined to get it out before january when they change hands. >> that was part of -- we spent some time today trying to flex this out as to whether or not this was true. had this waited until january, past this week when this congress wraps up, would it never have seen the light of day. would the republicans have taken control of the thereby control senate intelligence committee. >> i interviewed her tonight. she said that was her fear. and that this was the first instance of disgreemt between her and chandles. they'd been working pretty much on a bipartisan committee.
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these committees have always been bipart san. i remember bob kerry today who pointed out that this was the most partisan he's ever seen. as it turned out today, it was very much divided. when you saw the authorization for this investigation back in 2009, it was 14-1. they all agreed it should be done. >> hear's a question i have on this. this is just a real politic question. which is just the sublt at which i am least good, real politic. john mccain, obviously, speaks from a position of incredible privilege on this sublt. and speaks with eloquence on the subject and speaks with a consistency which is absolutely unimpeachable. why is that not influential on members of his party. >> they don't seem to be focused on the moral question which he
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has arctic lated at the center of his objection. he sponsored the aent torture legislation. to take a step back, the argument from the cia reporters is that they were doing what the white house wanted them to do. it was days after 9/11. they were told you screwed up. you did not connect the dots. don't let that happen again. there's going to be another attack. you've got to stop another instance where 3,000 americans will be murdered. there was no winking and nod that was the fierce terror of the times. >> they also maintain particularly the former c.i.a. director spooeking out, that they were not only authorized to do it, that it was effective and, therefore, it should be kept secret.
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if it was nothing to be ashamed of and it was effective and it was wise and we should do it again, the argument that we should therefore not talk about what we did -- >> well, at the same time, they're arguing that they didn't keep it secret. they say they briefed the members of congress whom they were permitted to. but then there's that nasty little mope moe in there saying that we asked the krchlt i.a. asking well, shouldn't we hold a principle's meeting and have the whole cab net team in? they said no, we don't want to do that. colin powell will blow his stack. >> you have to keep it away from him. this thing that we're so hugely proud of. >> it's not over. there's a morale issue, a diminished ability to work with president foreign ministries.
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and, you know, no prosecutions from eric holder. things were done in this program that need to be explained further. >> an dree ya mitchel, thank you. i know this is not a great time of night to get you here given your day. >> always a pleasure. >> we've got lots more straight ahead. please stay with us.
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my conscience tells me that only i, as president, have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book. >> there are things that presidents can do in america that nobody else can. there is a new surprisingly compelling push for our current president to do something you really would not expect him to do. and that story is coming up. stay with us. ur other allergy s. so you can breathe easier all day. zyrtec-d®. find it at the pharmacy counter.
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now, therefore, i, gerald r. ford president of the united states, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by article ii, section ii of the constitution, have dwranted and by these presence do grant a full, free and absolute pardon onto richard nixon for all offenses against the united states. >> president gerald ford a month after he took office, september, 1974, announcing a full and unconditional pardon for the previous president of the united states, richard nixon, for his offenses against the united states. what ford did there, that was a preemptive pardon. no charnls had been brought against president nixon. so what ford did was name nixon's actions as offenses against the united states. but then he basically said that
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the person who committed those offenses could get away with them without prosecution. ford basically said he did it, but because it it wouldn't be good for the country if he were prosecuted, he pardoned him. >> only i as the president have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book. my conscience tells me it is my duty not merely to proclaim domestic tranquility, but to use every means that i have to insure it. >> pardon is not a denial that crimes were committed. a pardon is implicitly an acknowledgment that crimes were committed, etch as the person was going to be allowed to escape 230r mall judgment for having kmited those crimes. in 1977, in his first full day,
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it was president jimmy carter who issued a blanket pardon to men who had dodged the draft. jimmy carter didn't say that evading the draft wasn't a crime, he said it would be in the nation's interest if men who committed that crime not be prosecuted for it. so they won't. in 1974, 26s nixon doing the pardoning. 1974, nixon pardoned william calley who had been convicted of murder for his role in vietnam. at christmas in 1992, poppy bush pardoned. after prohibition ended, f.d.r. pardoned a man who was convicted under the prohibition laws.
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president taft, occasionally, issued pardons pause they didn't think a real crime had been committed. but, more aump, people are pardoned because a real crime was committed. the head of the national american civil liberties union, carried out by the george w. bush administration, documented by the senate intelligence committee today, in the case of torture, anthony rumera, the executive director of the aclu, proposes that george w. bush should be pardoned. they should be pardoned for crimes relating to torture. they should be pardoned because torture is a crime. as long as it is documented and nobody gets pros cue itted for it, that weakens the sentence that realistically, it is legal.
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at least pardon them so america is on the record naming what they did as criminal. joining us now for the interview is anthony rumera, executive director of the aclu. >> hi, rachel. great to see you. great to be with you. >> was that a fair, basic summary of the argument that you're making? >> yes. let's step back. what a terrible day for merk. 6,000 pages long that detail excruciating detail just how we betrayed our most fundamental values. that who we are as americans were betrayed by the highest levels of our government and carried out by low-level government officials. and the idea that we have purposely and consciously engaged in torture is true that should make every american shudder.
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they continue to say we did the right thing. it was moral. it was legal. it was effective. they have no sense of remorse. no sense of how much they've betrayed who we are as a people. so i feel a great sadness that we're here today. squl i'm very sorry to interyou wanted you there. i have been feeling that exact same thing today. the thing that i'm very worried about is that we've gotten to a point now where we have named it and we have attempted to shame it. now there is this record of praise for torture. >> absolutely. our president is mumbling. when he says it was torture in my mind.
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if crimes didn't just happen. it's almost as if we talk about crimes, we don't talk about criminals. there's no accountability for people who broke the law. now, the president may very well decide it's not worth the political fall out. i happen to disagree with him. i prefer prosecutions. i said that to him. the only time i ever met the president, i said please hunt one head, sir. hunt it famously if you want to make sure this never happens again. he decided otherwise. he's the president. now, the question is if he's watching the clips, he can not believe that he's closed the pandora's box of torture. it's up for grabs again. whenever we have another terrorist attack, whenever we have another debate, whenever we have another rick perry in the white house or gov northerly chris christie, they're going to resurrect these arguments all over again. no one's been held askountble. no one's been charged with crimes. and so lamentably, i've come to the point, if you're not going to prosecute them, label them as
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criminals and pardon them. glaze this big letter c on their chest which they'll refuse to e to wear. but label them as criminals. tell them that i pardon you. it's better for the country. we're going to move on. but what you did is wrong. unlawful. unhealthy and never geng e again to be repeated. if you repeat it again, the future architecture of torture will be held acounselble. this president can not believe that he's finished the job. this pandora's box is wide open. the reason why it's wide open is because he refused to take the necessary steps to make this country grapple with the fact that it wasn't just a bad decision or a couple of rogue soldiers. it was unlawful, unconstitutional, illegal, bar baric pra practices of individuals who dare offend our conscience and tell us that they did right by us. come on. we know better.
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lots going on in the news today. totally unrelated of the torture report. stay with us. we'll be right back.
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on capitol hill, congressional staffers were feeding pages into a scanner one after another. the members of congress reached a last-minute deal to to the a spending bill that will keep the government funded. before the house can vote on this deal, though, all of today's last-minute compromises and tweaks had to be consolidated into one piece and scanned into one bill so a bill can be printed and distributed before tonight's deadline. they needed it done by $11:59 p.m. tonight in time for thursday. they scanned fast err furiously all evening. we have just been told that the
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so the big news tonight, late-breaking news out of washington tonight is congress might have a deal to avert a government shutdown on thursday. they might. we'll see. it's down to the wire. but if congress is able to achieve that very basic business of keeping the lights on, big if.
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if the house can pass it and the senate can pass it and it happens in time, that might also pave the way for something actually kind of constructive to happen. i know it's impossible to believe, but this might happen. the clay hunt suicide prevention act named after marine corporal clay hunt who served terms in arack and afghanistan. 22 veterans a day commit suicide. that is how corporal clay hunt lost his life as well. this bill to boost anti-suicide efforts for our vets, it has carried broad bipartisan support since it was introduced this summer by congressman tim walls of minnesota. for weeks now, veterans have been pressuring members of congress to get this thing passed even though they can't pass anything else. today, speaker boehner met with clay hunt's parents and announced the support for the bill. then the bill hit the house floor and passed by a voice vote. it passed the house. now on to the senate with almost no time yet for the year, for this whole congress. sources in the senate tell us
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tonight that senate leadership is trying to schedule a vote on the clay hunt bill as soon as they can 37 but again, there isn't much time left to do all the things they have to do. and it's got to be this week or it will be back to square one and they will have to start all over. time is short and the river rises. there really is not much time at all to resolve all the stuff they have to do and all the stuff they're going to have a hard time explaining if they don't do it. time is very, very short. watch this space. we've made hiring anyone from a handyman to a dog walker as simple as a few clicks. buy their services directly at no more calling around. no more hassles. start shopping from a list of top-rated providers today. angie's list is revolutionizing local service again. visit today.
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using invokana® with a sulfonylurea or insulin may increase risk of low blood sugar. it's time. lower your blood sugar with invokana®. imagine loving your numbers. ask your doctor about invokana®. >> we need to release this so that we can account for it so that people can understand precisely why i banned these practices as one of the first act is took when i took office, and make sure we don't make those mistakes again. >> president obama speaking about the forchur report just released by the senate. tomorrow is one of those day where is if you read the print
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copy oif newspaper, or even if you don't usually, you might want to tomorrow. just the headlines tomorrow. this is going to be one of those landmark days. this is going to be one of those i remember where i was kind of days. a save the paper kind of day tomorrow. . right now on first look, incredible details, torture and what the president called a brutal response to september 11th, the fall will have out and way forward. >> and the war on terror continues on capitol in fighting and defeating isis. and we'll wrap up will and kate's u.s. tour. and extreme video of the day. bracing for backlash, reaction to the creatia torture report. here's andrea mitchell. >> for