tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC May 27, 2015 12:00am-1:01am PDT
tonight on "all in." >> an alarming number of shootings this holiday weekend. >> nine people are dead, and 3 in 32 shootings in baltimore's most violent weekend in over a decade. meanwhile, tensions flared in cleveland in the wake of the acquittal of two cops who shot and killed two cleveland residents. and the doj steps in to overhaul the police department. >> today, may 26th, 2015, marks a new way of policing in the city of cleveland. plus, the 500-year flood in texas. >> as the water receded we'll start to tow cars. to get those roads open again. >> a flash flood emergency in houston as the search for survivors continues and the state surveys the damage. >> you cannot candy coat it. this is absolutely massive. >> we'll go live to texas for the latest. then bernie's running. why bernie's got more support for graham, jindal, fiorina, kasich, and santorum combined. i sit down with filmmaker martin smith to discuss his
upcoming "frontline" episode "obama at war." >> our finger is on the trigger. >> "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. tensions are high in cleveland, ohio, tonight following the acquittal of cleveland police officer michael brelo in the 2012 shooting death of two unarmed black suspects. the verdict announced on saturday set off protests and fears of further unrest leaving cleveland's favorite son, lebron james, to step forward and urge calm. >> i think sports in general, no matter what city it is, you know, if something is going through a city that's very, you know, dramatic, traumatizing, any of that case, i think sports is one of the biggest healers in helping a city out. >> a city that is still mourning tamir rice, the 12-year-old boy shot and killed by a cleveland police officer this past november while holding a pellet gun. the acquittal after officer brelo adds only -- only puts more pressure on an already
tense relationship between residents and police. brelo was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter for his part in a shooting during which cleveland police officers fired 137 bullets into a car carrying two unarmed suspects killing them. the case became a symbol of the cleveland police department's pattern of excessive force. it led to a federal inquiry and resulted in a damning report paints a picture of ade apartment where excessive force and abuse is retune. city officials announced they reached an agreement with the justice department to address some of those abuses. >> i look at this agreement and the reform in it not as a program. this is not for us a program. this is, becomes a way in which we do business in the city of cleveland. as i said before, it becomes part of our dna. >> the decree subjects the department to some of the toughest policing standards in the country, some of which may also seem, frankly, quite modest. for example, as part of the agreement, cleveland police are
barred from using head strikes with hard objects like a gun against people who are handcuffed or restrained. they are instructed to use deescalation techniques such as verbal persuasion before resorting to force and told not to retaliate when individuals verbally confront or disrespect officers. joining me now, nina turner, former ohio state. nina, i have to say, i've been going through the report and some of the behavior which is now banned under the consent decree, pistol whipping someone or responding with violent force against a subject who's being verbally insubordinate, strike me as things that people shouldn't have been doing in the first place. >> well, amen to that, chris, but as my grandmother used to say, common sense ain't common, so we needed that kind of thing. it's unfortunate that they needed to spell that out in the consent decree, but here we are. >> you feel that there's any timing -- here it is what it's like watching from afar. the update in the tamir rice
last week, no progress made. reports the fact that those officers may not be been -- by investigators. you've got the brelo acquittal, huge protests. the mayor saying we signed on to this consent decree which looks like me an attempt to calm things down or take the air out of growing movement there might be in the streets. >> i mean, chris, timing is everything and in all fairness to the mayor, he and the department of justice have been working on figuring out this consent decree for quite some time, but it's necessary, we do want to let -- folks do need to know there are people in authority who hear their cries and something is going to be done about this. and the consent decree is the beginning of a long process. chris, you started reading already but there's something in the introduction that spoke to
my heart which is mutual trust and accountability and respect and one that is enduring, and the key word is enduring because the african-american community not just in cleveland but all across this nation has been going through this kind of struggle the entire time. this state of emergency has been one for generations. african-americans just didn't have camera phones at their disposal. the cries of a people. you cannot have large swaths of a population that talks about a system that is unjust to them and not hear their cries. this is not brand new. this is not an african-american problem. this is not a cleveland problem. this is not a state of ohio problem. this is an american problem. and we have to do something about it, and it starts with cleveland. >> well, to the point of it not being brand new, i mean, in fact, if i'm not mistaken cleveland entered into a consent decree 12 years ago to reform patterns of excessive abuse in the police department which i got to say is a dispiriting historical nugget given what we're looking at today. >> i know, chris, but you know
what, this is the moment. this is the moment. we can't get do-overs. we don't have second, third chances on this because of what happened in cleveland and ferguson and beaver creek and all across this country. this is it. if we don't do this now, you know, you think we have problems, so i understand what happened in 2012, but this is the moment to get this right. failure is not an option. >> let me ask you this final question. my understanding, your son is a police officer, is that right? >> yes, he is. >> have you guys been having conversations about this? i mean, what have those exchanges been like? >> we have. i mean, chris, it's heavy. you know, he understands both sides of this. his dad was a police officer. he is one. and so he understands what his responsibilities are, but at the same time, he is a young african-american male who has been profiled over his lifetime, so has his dad and a whole host of african-americans. but he takes his service, his service to the community, and that's what this is. this is about public service to
protect and to serve. but it's been a very, very heavy time. and one other point i do want to make, chris, a mother told me today that her 7-year-old son -- because i was out there today -- her 7-year-old son asked this question, "why are they doing that to people with brown skin? i have brown skin." to the point that a young 7-year-old believes people with brown skin are targeted, out of the mouths of babes. we have to do something about this. this is the moment to change this, chris. we're going to get it done. >> nina turner, thanks for joining me. >> thank you. memorial day weekend was one of the worst for the city of baltimore in more than a decade. more than 30 shootings, 9 dead in a city still reeling from the unrest and aftermath of the death of freddie gray. traffic was briefly brought to a standstill today on a baltimore highway as protests continue a month after freddie gray's death in baltimore police custody. the protest led by pastor jamal bryant who gave the eulogy at gray's funeral. to fund a new juvenile jail but not allocate money for schools. the city just experienced its
worst month of homicides in 15 years. there have been 35 homicides in baltimore in the month of may alone making it the deadliest month in baltimore since 1999. according to baltimore police, many other city officials, there is a reason why. councilwoman mary pat clark said referring to the unrest surrounding gray's death, "it was an earthquake kind of time and i think we're dealing with the aftershock." joining me, matt taibbi, contributor at "rolling stone" wrote a piece titled "why baltimore blew up." i'm going to give you the argument i would be making if i was a conservative host. >> and they are making. >> this is what happens, you have riots, you have disrespect for the law, you have disorder, people burning and throwing rocks. the police get scared and spooked. they step back. into the vacuum, the thin blue line evaporates and get murder and mayhem unlike you haven't seen in 15 years. there's a certain kind of appeal to that story.
>> sure. that story is going to have headline appeal but it's a very small sample size kind of an argument. i think it's difficult to make that argument considering, for instance, what happened in new york in 2014 after stop and frisk was repealed. in fact, crime went down again. as it has been historically over across country for two decades. there's no real correlation to anybody, any criminologist can point to between specific techniques and the drop in crime or rise in crime. nobody is against law enforcement. they're against bad law enforcement. i think that's the issue in baltimore. what people are protesting for is a change to the abusive patterns of this kind of broken-windows policing. i think they can still effectively enforce the law without doing what they're doing. >> that's the question, right? i mean, there's been, in the kind of doctrine that a lot of people have adopted there's a connection between them, right? we talk about broken windows.
the idea is if you let people do things like graffitis, jump turnstiles, that leads to an at tuesday of permissiveness that needs to murder. >> right. >> you have to go upstream, what upstream means is grabbing people for minor offenses. >> right. what this policy eventually leads to, inevitably, is a situation where police are forced to go out and create hundreds of thousands of contacts with the populations in certain parts of certain cities. and what this does is it creates this endless stream of particularly misdemeanor arrests and offenses, people who are stopped in the street for things like on instructing pedestrian traffic, or obstructing government administration, riding the wrong way on the sidewalk on a bicycle. it creates hostility in the population. it's inherently adversarial and creates distrust in the communities. >> part of the reason the protests in baltimore have focused on the funding of this juvenile jail is of course the
back end of that system is building a court system and jail system to deal with all the people who may get nixed the first time for a misdemeanor then they have a warrant, an outstanding warrant, maybe they miss a court date next thing you know they're in juvi. >> it snowballs. first time you get one minor charge, next time you go to court. somebody has to take care of you when you're in jail awaiting bail. next thing you're taking money out of the school system to expand a jail system. it snowballs from there. the proactive policing policies create their own gigantic bureaucracies which have their own momentum and end up creating arrests in a way and creating their own kind of criminal subculture. >> but then come back to this original point, right, the idea that the baltimore police and commissioner batts basically has said this. he hasn't quite come out and said this.
basically we've taken a step back because you people, you know, didn't like what we were doing, you got in our faces, you videotaped, screamed at us. this is what happen when you take a step back. >> okay. there's an argument to be made maybe there's something going on in baltimore like that. that happened in new york as well. we had an almost exactly similar kind of slowdown in new york after the protests following eric garner incident and what happened? nothing. so i think it's very difficult to draw conclusions. >> the craziest thing is something you mentioned before as a parenthetical, no one knows what created 20 years of decline in crime. >> right. >> at the heart of this whole conversation is this huge sociological mystery. >> right. academics all across the country will tell you the same thing. >> yeah. >> we have no idea. >> no idea. >> why it's been dropping for two decades. the population, prison population has been expanding during this time and no one knows why crime is going down. >> matt taibbi. still ahead, record-setting rains in texas leave houston in floodwaters. are there signs emerging of another el nino? coming up, a democrat who
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when the cabin she was staying in with her husband, jonathan, and two kids was carried away in the rushing water. >> nigh sister will always be my sister. >> the conversation ended when laura thought she saw a light from a helicopter above there to rescue them. >> and i just expected to go to the wimberley high school the next day and find her, and then when she wasn't there, i knew something was very, very wrong. >> two families were vacationing together in a small texas town over the weekend when flash floodwaters swept their vacation house off the ground. house reportedly smashed into a bridge as it was swept downstream. today eight of the nine people who were staying there are still missing. in all 13 are listed as missing. 18 people are confirmed dead as a result of the severe weather in texas and oklahoma this holiday weekend. huge swaths of houston, america's fourth largest city, brought to a near standstill by severe flooding. mass transit, rail, and bus service was suspended while the houston independent school district closed all its schools and offices today. according to the weather channel, the houston metro area got nearly a foot of rain in 24 hours. city's downtown area was submerged while in of houston's roadways were completely flooded.
after last night's win over the warriors the houston rockets advised fans to wait out the storm as the game ended around 11:00 local time. a few hundred fans did. remained at the toyota center until early this morning. for years now texas has been suffering from a major drought. in the last few weeks hurricane-like rains but an end to that. the relief has come at a tremendous cost. joining me, charles hadlock. charles, what is the the latest there in texas? >> reporter: hi, chris. well as you mentioned, houston got hammered overnight with 11 inches of rain. 6 of those inches fell in just one hour alone. it filled this basin of the buffalo bayou just on the edge of downtown. it also spilled onto freeways and underpasses, trapping people in their cars. more than a thousand cars were stranded all across the city. the city has towed already 750 of them off the streets. two people, unfortunately,
drowned in their vehicles. a third was plucked -- a body was plucked from a tree. and then a fourth victim was found downstream in brays bayou southwest of here. that was part of a rescue effort earlier today. houston fire and rescue sent out boats to more than 500 people rescuing them. unfortunately, on one of them, the rescue boat overturned spilling them into the water. a second rescue boat was able to capture the firefighters and some of the victims but three of them were swept downstream. at least one body has been found. they're still looking for two other people. an elderly couple ages 85 and 87. the bad news is that more rain is expected, but the good news is, the water that's already here in buffalo bayou and other bayous around houston are beginning to subside quite a bit. so there's not going to be the travel problem tomorrow that there was today. it was gridlock as you mentioned. freeways were under water. but now all the main lanes are
open. houston is back open for business. school will be in session again tomorrow. and houston maybe can get back to normal tomorrow. back to you, chris. >> all right, nbc news reporter charles hadlock, appreciate it. thank you. joining us to talk about if the severe weather in texas is indicator of el nino, its return, radley horton, scientist at columbia university earth institute. so, i saw this news then i saw a bunch of people saying this is another indicator we may be in store for an el nino this year. i had seen people writing about a month or two ago saying we're getting some indications. what is el nino? and how do we know if it's coming? >> el nino is a global phenomenon, it's basically a situation where the upper ocean changes, the upper atmosphere changes all around the globe. it's almost like ringing a bell and the effect of ringing that bell changes in global energy are a shift in wind patterns, it moves the jet stream all over the globe. it turns places like indonesia and australia that normally get a lot of rain into areas that can have really severe droughts leading to crop failures, forest
fires. it's associated with droughts in india, droughts in northeast brazil. heavy rain in some other areas. it's a global phenomenon. >> okay. so how -- what role does this flooding play in how we calculate whether we are getting an el nino? >> so i don't think we can link this particular terrible flooding event to an el nino. on average, winter season in the southern u.s., you see more rain if you have a strong el nino. this time of year the link is not very strong. if we see the el nino, looks more and more like we'll see next winter, you're shifting the odds of above normal rainfall in the southern u.s. >> how often do these el ninos come? >> on average, anywhere between every three and seven years. >> every three and seven. it's not like a comet, right, so we don't know if it's coming regularly. what do we start looking for to sort of find out why are people increasingly confident that's what we're headed toward? >> we're looking for a few things. we're looking at surface temperatures in parts of the
tropical pacific ocean, especially the central pacific and east pacific along the coast of peru. so one signal is you start to see above normal water temperatures at the surface. if those water temperatures are also above normal with depth, then that starts to have some power. >> there's this sort of energy that's kind of burbling, right, getting hotter and hotter and send the patterns across the world. >> you get started quickly enough, you get feedback where the changes in the ocean impact the surface winds in a way that can reinforce the ocean warming so you can kind of lock into the pattern. that what gives you the predictability. >> there's been talk about the california drought, texas has been suffering a drought for a hill. how common is it places find themselves in drought and punctuated by intense flooding? >> this is, i say it's exceptional just how extreme we've gone into this heavy rain. parts of oklahoma have had 20 inches or manufacture of rain. extremely heavy rain events as we expect to see with increasing greenhouse gases. day after day this persistence. i heard there was a drought in the '50s in this region where
things turned pretty quickly from drought to wet but not this fast. >> radley horton. thanks for joining us. >> good to be here. isis' own version of shock and. christopher hill joins me to discuss. next, the second democratic candidate to declare for the presidential race, senator bernie sanders. ♪ one, two, three o'clock. four o'clock pop. ♪ five, six, seven o'clock. eight o'clock pop. ♪ ♪ nine, ten eleven o'clock ♪ ♪ twelve o'clock pop ♪ ♪ we're gonna pop around the clock tonight. ♪ ♪ put your glad rags on and join me hon' ♪ ♪ we'll have some fun when the clock strikes one. ♪ ♪ we're gonna pop ♪ ♪ ...around the clock tonight. we're gonna pop, pop, pop ♪ ... 'till the broad daylight. ♪ ♪ we're gonna pop around the clock tonight. ♪ pop in new tide pods plus febreze a 4 in 1 detergent that cleans brightens and fights stains. now with 24-hour freshness.
in a new interview with cnbc, bernie sanders had an interesting response about hillary clinton and bill clinton. >> when you hustle money like this, you don't sit in restaurants like this. you sit in restaurants where you spend hundreds of dollars for dinner. that's the world that you're accustom to and that's the world view that you adopt. i'm not going to condemn hillary and bill clinton because they made a lot of money. that type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world. >> he formally kicked off his campaign with a rip-roaring speech in his home state of vermont today which he called for among other things public financing in campaigns. we're going to bring you all the sights and sounds shortly. sanders acknowledged to cnbc he faces long odds against hillary clinton. he insists those odds are not insurmountable. >> i fully concede that i can enter this race as a major underdog. no question about it. as i said before, though, don't
the issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time. it is the great economic issue of our time. it is the great political issue of our time. and we will address it. >> it is official. independent senator bernie sanders is running for president as a democrat. he kicked off his campaign in earnest today with a speech in his home state of vermont calling for single payer health care system, increase in the minimum wage to $15, reforming campaign financing, and overturning citizens united, rethinking u.s. trade policy, breaking up large financial institutions, making higher education free, taxing carbon to address climate change, and expanding social security. >> today we stand here and say
loudly and clearly, enough is enough. this great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires. >> sanders had a sort of soft launch for his campaign late last month and got off to a surprisingly strong start, social media enthusiasm, fund-raising, raising more than $1 .5 million in just the 24 hours after he announced his run. still, sanders is obviously the david to hillary clinton's goliath in the race for the democratic presidential nomination. as reflected both in her massive organizational and fund-raising advantage, and in the current polling. which shows clinton with the support of 64% of democratic voters, and sanders at just 7% behind two democrats who appear unlikely to enter the race. now, it doesn't mean sanders doesn't have a real constituency. when you measure in terms of actual voters as this chart from
the "washington post" helpfully shows, sanders has nearly as much support as a republican candidate of all combined. does he have a chance to win? joining me from the sight of sanders' kickoff speech in vermont is john nichols, correspondent for "the nation." give me a sense of the scene. there was a ton of people. what struck me was, bernie sanders is familiar to people who are progressives in the u.s. you see him on this network as a gadfly. here he is in a big crowd, the cheering, the signs, the whole thing. >> yeah. it really was. they had a theme to it. this is a waterfront, mayor of burlington 30 years ago worked to keep open and make sure it was a great public space, and they filled that public space today.
if you were here at about 4:30, 5:00 this afternoon, you saw people literally flooding into the park. police were estimating a better part of 5,000 folks. and it was a remarkably robust and energetic rally. >> okay. so the real question here is, you know, does he have a chance? what is this race going to look like? you're a very savvy chronicler of american politics. despite i think maybe your rooting interest in a person you also politically vibe with. what's your read on this? >> sure. look, bernie sanders says that this race would require a political revolution for him to get the democratic nomination and obviously to go on and win the presidency. i don't think that's a casually chosen set of words. a political revolution means everything changes in a big way. now, their theory, if you talk to the sanders aides and campaigners, is that they go
very, very strong into iowa and new hampshire, the traditional first states, they get better than expected showings there, they poll some wins in caucus states early on, then they look for a real showdown in a big state like michigan, perhaps. again, quite early on. and they go for it. they go for that shock appeal moment. but all of those things are, again, posited on the notion they've got to -- they basically have to start a prairie fire that would be epic and relatively unprecedented in american politics. >> a big part of this is, to me, bernie sanders says he doesn't want to attack hillary clinton, that's not why he got into this race. i understand that. i think it's admirable in certain ways. but the way that you win when you're running a certain campaign is you have to attack the front-runner. the political logic of that is very, very difficult to avoid. do you see that changing as we go on in this campaign?
>> it's not going to happen, chris. at least as best i can imagine. i've covered bernie sanders going back to his early congressional races, and the fact of the matter is he just doesn't do the personal attacks. he loves the issues. he gets very intensely into them. you heard this speech today. it was a, you know, very, very hardcore issue-oriented speech with a lot of detail, lot of nuance. and the fact of the matter is i think that bernie sanders believes that in the expected six debates with hillary clinton, hitting very, very hard on the issues is maybe the best way to corner her. but i just don't think you're going to hear the personal hits that i think a lot of people expect in politics. it's really not his style, and also i think, frankly, he wouldn't deliver them very well. >> right. i read the speech today, i watched the speech then i read it, and there was a lot in it that i personally like and agree with profoundly.
it was interesting to note, to me, an omission. you can obviously nitpick any speech, what's not included. given the news out of cleveland today, given what's going on with baltimore, there really was no mention as far as i could tell, reading it a number of times, over-policing, mass incarceration, these issues. it struck me as a missed opportunity particularly when you're thinking about trying to build some sort of coalition within a democratic primary to take on somebody like hillary clinton. >> i couldn't agree with you more, chris. i think that's right. the senator referenced exceptionally high unemployment among african-american youth, and clearly in the context of the very class and economics-oriented speech raised that concern and issues that speak broadly to a lot of folks. this is a candidate who attended the march on washington in '63, who organized for civil rights who actually has a lot of history here. frankly, i think he's going to need to and probably be very
pleased to give a speech where he goes hardcore into these issues. they cannot be unaddressed. >> i think we're going to see it increasingly as more central in the presidential campaign even when we get to the stage of the two nominees. john nichols there in burlington, vermont, which looks like a real tough gig, john. >> it's tough, hard night in burlington. >> enjoy. thanks a lot. still ahead, did defense secretary ashton carter make a gaffe when he said the iraqi forces showed no will to fight isis or was he simply telling the truth or, you know, both? i'll ask the former u.s. ambassador to iraq. when a moment spontaneously turns romantic why pause to take a pill? and why stop what you're doing to find a bathroom? cialis for daily use, is the only daily tablet approved to treat erectile dysfunction so you can be ready anytime the moment is right.
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noted by "newsweek," the pope missed tv blockbusters like "friends" and "american idol" but was spared reality tv like "jersey shore." what he might have seen just in time, the series finale of "newhart" which offered a classic ending with protagonistic louden innkeeper wakes up into his previous sitcom "the bob new heart show" in which his character was psychologist bob hartley. >> wake up. you won't believe the dream i just had. don't you want to hear about it? >> all right, bob. what is it? >> i was an innkeeper in this crazy little town in vermont. >> my theory, hear me out, the pope saw that and said there's no way they're ever going to top this, swore off tv forever. iraqi forces are launching a major campaign to take back the city of ramadi, key area isis militants seized last week.
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iraqi forces are launching a major campaign to take back the city of ramadi, key area isis militants seized last week. one official told "the new york times," the u.s. strategy has been to work with iraqis to -- state department official telling "the times" the ramadi offensive involved 30 car bombs including 10 that were each roughly the size of those in the oklahoma city bombing which killed 168 people and took out entire city blocks in the iraqi city. just you read that and you just gloss over it, but think about that for a moment. imagine the sheer horror and fear of those watching ten oklahoma city-sized bombings happening in quick succession in the heart of the city and think about what would go through the minds of the iraqi soldiers watching and caught in the ensuing chaos and blood. all that is, of course, quite
intentionally. isis has been highly effective in employing these tactics, bringing massive shock and awe campaigns to the cities they're in the process of capturing. president obama described the fall of ramadi as a tactical setback, knowing it would not change. over the weekend defense secretary ashton carter questioned the ability of iraqi security forces to take on isis. >> what apparently happened was that the iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. they were not outnumbered. in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. and yet they failed to fight. they withdrew from the site. and that says, to me, and i think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the iraqis to fight isil and defend themselves. >> those comments prompting vice president joe biden to call the iraqi prime minister reassure him of u.s. support in efforts to retake ramadi. earlier tonight i spoke with former ambassador to iraq
christopher hill. i asked him about isis and its developing sophistication. >> first of all, it's important to understand with respect to ramadi, they had something like 120 fighters so this is not high-intensity warfare. this was really amounted to an iraqi army that just wasn't up for it. now, why the american secretary of defense points that out publicly, well, it's hard to say but i think it reflects a considerable amount of frustration with them. but i don't see really the overall gist of this is that somehow isis is on the ascendency. i think it reflects a low point for the iraqi army and frankly for some of our strategy in terms of training up the iraqi army. >> it strikes me the issue here is deeper than training, right? i mean, the idea was that there's some technocratic solution in terms of we can train these troops, but it seems to me there's a deeper question
here about whether these individuals want to possibly die for whatever it is they are fighting, particularly if they have no faith in the state for which they are dying or the state will be able to hold those gains once they make those sacrifices. >> well, i don't think this largely shia army has much faith in the idea that the sunnis are going to sort of come together with them and live happily ever after together. i think there's a view in the shia army that why should they be fighting for sunni land? after all, the sunnis have made it abundantly clear that they'd like out, they'd like their own state. so i think it is essentially, as you suggest, kind of a fundamental political question. haider al abadi, the shia prime minister has done his best to do outreach to the sunnis but i don't see sunni willingness to live under shia. that's an essential problem with iraq and by the way, an essential problem for a long, long time. >> that does seem to be the issue we keep kind of lapping around, right, because what we saw in ramadi isn't different
from what we saw in mosul. we're going to train them or form a new government and this one is going to really be the inclusive one. we keep hearing the same kind of slogans and mottos about what the iraqi state should be. somehow it doesn't develop. you have to sort of wonder at what point you try something else? >> well, i mean, i don't think we're ready to sign on to dismembering the iraqi state. i mean, show me a change of international borders there, and i'll show you another war. >> right. >> so i'm not there yet, but i'm certainly there with the idea that the sunnis have never accepted a shia-led iraq. after all, it would be the only shia-led state in the entire arab middle east. you have to remember even though the sunnis are only some -- the arab sunnis, that is, are only some 20% of iraq. they feel a kind of strategic depth going right back into morocco because they only -- only sunnis run arab governments in the middle east with the exception of syria. so there's a real problem there.
there's been a real problem for a long time. this sectarianism didn't just start recently. it's been around. and i think we have to deal with it maybe a little more honestly and not just think this is some simple political problem of sunni outreach. >> yeah. and i also wonder how -- how you understand the sectarian tensions that are so at play here. there are kind of two ways of thinking about it. one is they reach back forever and there have been conflicting around these doctrinal differences of all time. the other, chaos, war, and destruction, people get rather tribal, everyone of every kind of background -- if the u.s. government fell tomorrow, you'd find americans getting ex extremely tribal very quickly. that's what's going on here. >> you put your finger on it. the issue has been around a long time. it doesn't mean they've been at each other's throats a long time. what happens, when you take civil authority away, albeit a hideous authority away in the form of saddam hussein, people convert to other loyalty. in the case of iraq, they
reverted to a sectarian sense of loyalty. so clearly there has to be some rebuilding of the state but the problem is the sunnis just don't accept the indignity of living under the shia. they resent this concept. that's why we have not had a lot of support from other arab countries all of whom are sunni and none of whom regard the ascendency of the shia in iraq as being good news by any stretch of the imagination. >> former ambassador to iraq, christopher hill, always a pleasure. thank you. >> thank you. stunning story of what the obama administration's war machine faced with the ascent of isis. that's next.
were there plans for how to react to the fall of mosul to isis? >> well, no. there were not because, of course -- they said, look, there were several things that surprised us about isil. the degree to which they were able to form their own coalition, both inside of syria and inside of northwestern iraq. the military capability that they exhibited, the collapse of the iraqi security forces. yeah. in those initial days, there were a few surprises. >> general martin dempsey admitting the pentagon did not have a plan in place when isis
took the city of mosul in june 2014. he's featured in the latest documentary "obama at war." shows an administration coping with the rise of an islamic state. and the president faced with the grim reality. i'm joined by producer martin smith. okay, martin, having worked on this for a while now -- >> yep. >> -- you know, i keep wondering what was it like in the situation room when the person had to come in and say, mosul has fallen? or a week ago when someone had to come in and say, 120 isis fighters just took ramadi? >> right. it's not good news. i mean, what -- yeah. i mean, there have been, you know, one surprise after another for many months now. even before the fall of mosul, remember, that fallujah fell in january of 2014 then it was june that mosul fell. it wasn't as if no one saw them coming.
the administration was getting warnings all along. from the ambassadors in the region and iraqis. maliki's government was saying, look, we need more help, things are falling apart. >> there's a variety of questions we're confronted with as we look at this situation. and that are presented both in the last film you did, which is about the rise of isis, and this one. one is, are we doing the right thing? you know, is the strategy -- is there a strategy? is the strategy being pursued? and then the deeper question is about the limits of american power in the region which is can things actually be done which is the much harder question. much easier to say, well, if we'd done x, y, and z. the harder thing is to say, maybe we can't really -- >> yeah. look, there's a lot of monday morning quarterbacking going on. it's very easy to take shots at the president. as palmyra falls, ramadi falls, as mosul fell, you can say, we
should have done this and if we had done that, that wouldn't have happened. we don't know. there's no sort of control in the experiment that shows you what would have happened if we had done something differently. so our film really lays out a narrative, and i think that's the contribution of putting everything in context and seeing who was saying what and when. and going back to 2011 in the midst of the arab spring. everybody was optimistic. everybody in region said assad had months to go, he would fall. he opened fire on the demonstrations. showed his willingness to be as brutal as his father, perhaps more so. and tens of thousands, now a couple hundred thousand are dead. we lay out the -- it's really in a sense about the president at war with himself because as you say, it's a very difficult -- >> yeah. >> -- series of decisions he has to make. do you arm these rebels? you know, do you draw a red line? what do you do now that you've drawn a red line?
so we take you through that narrative and put it all together in one place. and i think that's the -- there's a synthesis in that. >> there's a through line in this white house's approach in this conflict, now we can say spans the border, whatever is left of the border which has been essentially eviscerated. it's basically not getting sucked back in. that's seems to be the guiding ethos here. >> absolutely. he came to office with that promise, we're not going to do this anymore, let's not do stupid stuff, right? we had a president who reacted very quickly. the previous president. the decider. here, you know, this president mulls these decisions very carefully, very deliberately. and people will say, certainly the syrian opposition that wanted support from the united states will say, he's at fault for that. but he's educated by -- he took the lesson of iraq.
he took the lesson of afghanistan. and these are not -- and our record of going into these countries whether it's moammar gadhafi or saddam hussein, it doesn't turn out very well. so we have decades of experience really in the middle east that show that we don't really know how to fix these things. >> that, i think, is the most sort of profound thing that sort of looms all over this entire enterprise. a fantastic piece of work. as was the last film you did. everyone should check it out. martin smith. thanks for your time. "obama at war" premieres tonight on pbs. check your local listings for details. that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" begins now. good evening, rachel. >> good evening, chris. thanks, my friend. >> you bet. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. houston, texas, may be on higher ground in all sorts of metaphor call or even spiritual ways but in a purely geographic sense i mean to cast no aspersions on houston, in order to say that houston is a low-lying city.
houston is technically about 50 feet above sea level. it is very flat. really, really flat. one of the things that is unusual about houston as a large city is that it is crisscrossed by basically a network of small rivers. and we're sort of used to big cities in america being built around one big body of water, right, like chicago on the shores of lake michigan or new york city along the mighty, mighty hudson, or san francisco the city on the bay. st. louis and minneapolis on the mighty mississippi. but we're used to a body of water being a figural focal point for large cities and the way they're laid out. in houston, that very, very large american city is instead crisscrossed with a series of small rivers that in houston they call bayous. and it's a reminder that even though houston is in texas, houston is about as close to new orleans as it is to dallas-ft.