The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/18/14
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We have breaking news on the story of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.
Although there`s been a lot of heated speculation about the fate of that
plane and what might have happened to it, there has been very little news
since the plane was lost, in the technical sense of the word news, meaning
new information about what actually happened.
But tonight on “Nightly News”, NBC`s Brian Williams and Tom Costello
reported some actual new information which may not tell where the plane
eventually ended up, but it does give us more information than we had
before, potentially crucial information about what happened in the cockpit,
the sequence of events in the cockpit before the plane vanished.
This is new information tonight just reported by NBC News. Watch.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: We get the very latest on
the investigation including new details tonight on the crucial turn in the
flight from NBC`s Tom Costello in our D.C. newsroom.
Tom, good evening.
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brian. We knew whoever
made the U-turn in the plane did so with the help of the onboard computer.
Tonight, we`ve learned when the turn was programmed in – at least 12
minutes before the co-pilot calmly said good night to air traffic
controllers. That would further indicate the U-turn was planned and
executed in the cockpit before the controllers lost contact.
Tonight, NBC News learned Flight 370`s U-turn manually programmed
into the plane`s computer from the cockpit was transmitted via the ACARS
data system to the ground at 1:07 a.m. That means the U-turn was
premeditated, programmed before ACARS went down and executed only after the
last radio call and after the transponders went dead.
If the pilot entered that turn, why?
GREG FEITH, FORMER NTSB INVESTIGATOR: Some pilots will program in an
alternate flight plan in the event of an emergency. We don`t know what the
reason was for this particular flight plan, whether to go back to Kuala
Lumpur or take the airplane somewhere away from Beijing.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Coming up.
COSTELLO: At flight deck flight simulator in Anaheim, retired
American Captain Steve Wallenstein (ph) helped recreate in a 737 what we
know. Someone turned off the transponder with the flip of a switch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see I can press the button, ACARS, and
that would bring it up.
COSTELLO: They switched off, then disabled the ACARS data system
possibly by pulling the circuit breaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Circuit breaker would be on one of these back
panels behind the pilots.
COSTELLO: Easy steps for a pilot. Total time, 20 seconds.
Then, making a U-turn back to Kuala Lumpur.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to go back to Kuala Lumpur which is
behind us, so all I have to do is spin this knob for the heading around and
the aircraft will turn around.
COSTELLO: Sources tell NBC News whoever turned the plane programmed
the flight management system and knew what they were doing.
ROSS AIMER, RETIRED UNITED 777 CAPTAIN: This would be a very
elaborate scheme. They would have had very, very extensive training to
pull this off.
MADDOW: Again, that is the breaking news tonight from NBC`s Tom
Costello and NBC News managing editor, Brian Williams.
This is not speculation on where the plane might have ended up or
what in history might be allegorical to the disappearance of this plane.
This is concrete new information that NBC News has learned about what
actually did happen to this plane before it was lost.
Again, the key new development here is that when the plane turned
west, when that plane flew west, when it flew so dramatically off its
initial course, when it took that left turn instead of heading on its
initial course toward Beijing – number one, that turn was executed by the
flight management system which essentially means it was done automated
systems. It was programmed to make that turn. That much information we
actually knew last night.
What`s new now is the timing, that programming, that computer
instruction to the plane to make that turn away from Beijing, that
instruction had already been programmed into the plane`s computer before
the crew in the cockpit made their last voice contact with air traffic
controllers when they said good night. That hard left turn, what was
almost a U-turn off the plane`s planned course had already been executed as
an instruction to the plane while the pilots were still in contact with the
ground controllers. Yet the pilots said nothing about it to ground
The reason this timing can be pieced together, the reason we know
this timing of events is apparently because there was a burst of electronic
data from Flight 370 26 minutes after takeoff at 1:07 a.m. That burst of
data we`re now learning tonight, included information about that turn off
course being programmed into the computer.
So, at 1:07 a.m., we know that that turn was already planned. The
last contact from the cockpit, the last voice contact from the cockpit to
the ground controllers was 12 minutes after that point at 1:19. That`s
when they said good night. That`s when they gave no indication they had
anything planned other than a flight to Beijing. We now know the plane at
that point was already programmed to not go to Beijing.
Again, this is new reporting tonight from NBC and as a layman to
these matters just trying to stay up on what we know and not what we ought
to speculate about, here are my questions: number one, is it empirically
possible that the last burst of electronic data from that plane at 1:07,
the ACARS data that was transmitted from the plane at 1:07 a.m., does it
make sense that transmission would include this kind of information that
the plane`s computer was programmed to turn in a few minutes off course
away from Beijing? Does it make sense that that satellite transmission –
excuse me – that that transponder at 1:07 a.m. would include that data
about what was about to happen on the plane?
Number two, is there any way that the pilots might not have known
that the plane`s computer was programmed to make that turn at the time that
they said good night as if nothing was wrong? Is there any way that that
programming into the flight management system could have been disguised
from the pilots? Is there anything they should have checked that they
might not have noticed had they looked more closely?
And number three, if we understand from that last burst of ACARS data
that the plane was going to travel a new course, that it was going to bank
hard to the west and hit a bunch of waypoints along the way, that were
electronically programmed into that computer on the plane, waypoints
nowhere along the route to Beijing – well, then, why doesn`t that set of
information tell us more about where the plane was eventually headed? And
ultimately, where it ended up?
If that last burst of ACARS data effectively broadcast a damning map
that that plane was about to head off course, and wildly so, why doesn`t it
tell us more about where that plane eventually went?
These are empirical questions for which we should hopefully be able
to get empirical answers.
Joining us to help try is Greg Feith. He`s a former senior aviation
investigator with the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board.
Mr. Feith, thank you for being here.
FEITH: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I`m obviously a total layman when it comes to these matters.
We`re all trying to understand these things. Does it make sense to you
that the last burst of data, at 1:07 a.m., that ACARS data from the plane,
would have included this information about the planned route that the plane
was programmed to turn?
FEITH: What we don`t know, Rachel, is the entire route that was
planned in there. Typically, the flight crew when they`re pre-flighting
the airplane and they`re loading their original flight plan is, that is
their flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, they`ll pull up the data on the
FMS system. They`ll program in their route they were cleared for.
So, they`ll go from Kuala Lumpur airport via a specific airway to
Beijing. That`s their primary flight plan.
MADDOW: Do you program in each waypoint along the way?
FEITH: So you build this flight plan. Once you get to Beijing as
your final destination point, that will sit in there in the flight
management system as the primary flight plan.
A lot of pilots will program a secondary or a route two. Some of
them will actually mirror their primary and then alter a specific leg on it
if they have a problem so that they can go to an alternate airport, or some
will just build a return. So you could have a Kuala Lumpur, you go out to
a waypoint and return back to Kuala Lumpur.
Let`s say you had a fire on an engine right after liftoff, you know
you`re not going to fly around a lot, so pull this secondary or alternate
flight plan into the active flight plan, hit execute and the auto pilot
takes the Beijing flight plan, drives it to a secondary flight plan, and it
will drive this new one.
What we know is that somebody executed that secondary flight plan and
the airplane then turned left. What we don`t know is how they built that
route. To either come back to Kuala Lumpur or go off into a waypoint out
in the Indian Ocean?
MADDOW: Is it the sort of thing where it will vary from pilot to
pilot or maybe from airline to airline in terms of how pilots make
decisions about that plan 2 or plan B in that sort –
FEITH: Absolutely. Absolutely.
FEITH: Unless the airline standardizes it and says, you will build
two flight plans, you`ll have your primary and alternate for emergency
situations. A lot of conscientious pilots will always have a secondary
MADDOW: Is that the sort of information where we – there might be
stored data available either to Malaysian Airlines or somebody else about
whether or not this particular pilot and this particular first officer had
a habit or had a pattern of history of programming secondary flight plans
FEITH: And that`s an excellent question because that would be
something now that investigators could go back to the airline, talk to
other pilots that had flown with each of these pilots to see what their
habits were. One of the things we found in SilkAir was that when Captain
Tsu decided he was going to do something intentional with the 737 in
MADDOW: That`s the crash I should say where they believe it was
essentially pilot suicide.
FEITH: We started talking to other people to get a character study.
Is this the way he normally handled himself in the cockpit? Did he do
Well, we found on the day that he did, he took this airplane down, he
was out of character. He didn`t do things that he had normally done. And
I think that in the investigation of this event, they should be asking
those questions. They`ll be interviewing other pilots.
Is this the way the captain programmed the airplane? Is this the way
he operated? Is this the demeanor he had in the cockpit?
How about the first officer? Was he a dutiful first officer? Did he
know what he was doing? Did he always have, you know, proper procedures?
So they`re going to do a character study because with this new
information, as Tom said, this was premeditated. This wasn`t something
that was done on the fly because the ACARS basically recorded an artifact
that 12 minutes before, at least this flight plan, whatever it was, was
already in the system.
MADDOW: To be clear, though, it was premeditated that there would be
this second route, the route that did not two go to Beijing. It`s not
necessarily true that is nefarious. It`s possible that could have been
entered there, as you say, as some sort of emergency response plan B for
the pilot to activate in the case of some sort of unforeseen fire in the
cockpit or something.
So, we don`t know that this means motivation. We just know that it
FEITH: Because somebody would have had to execute to bring that
secondary flight plan up as the primary then.
MADDOW: Let me also ask you, we`re trying to match deliberation to
motivation to the question of who.
MADDOW: Is there any way that the information in that system, that
waypoint to waypoint to eventual landing point information in that system
could somehow be disguised to the pilots that they would not, when they
looked at it they would not see what it actually had said, or is it
something they could overlook? Is it one system among many that pilots
don`t check as closely as they ought to, or is that a crucial system that
they absolutely know what it says?
FEITH: Oh, they absolutely know it, because once you program the
flight management system, there`s an instrument called the PFD, primary
flight display. It will have a compass rose. It will have a magenta line.
So, whatever you planned in for your route, it`s your GPS map. So,
it will have a magenta line, a little airplane symbol. It will show the
track you`re going to fly.
If they begin to fly the track, and let`s say in this primary was
changed to the secondary, unknowingly, as soon as they got to the waypoint
where they had their last radio communication, they would have a hook in
their flight plan or in this magenta line showing that there`s a left turn.
That was what happened with Cali, Colombia, American Airlines found in Cali
years ago, where they have put what they believe was the approach to go to
Cali as they were coming in over the mountains.
They knew Cali was ahead of them, they could see the lights. But
they had mistakenly put the wrong identifier in the primary flight display
when they hit execute. The magenta line instead of going straight toward
Cali all of a sudden made a U-turn and got into a very big discussion about
what`s it doing, why is it behind us? It should be ahead of us, because
they had one identifier on their route wrong.
MADDOW: This is not a subtle system that there could be an –
FEITH: No, they`re going to see it, and with this left turn, it
would be presented on their PFD.
MADDOW: One last question for you, Greg. That is, I`ve been – I`ve
tried to be very small “C” conservative in terms of figuring out what is
real data, what`s knowable, and what is speculation. It`s very hard to
keep things straight because a lot of coverage on this is so hysterical.
If this information from the ACARS has told us what we`ve just
discussed about that FMS, that flight management system, if we got that
data and it told us that much, is it going to tell us anything else? Is
there anything else from electronic data from that plane that`s likely to
give us any further information about what happened, or in your estimation,
have we exhausted what we`re going to be able to extract from that data?
FEITH: I think all of the data that is possible has been squeezed
FEITH: Because as soon as the ACARS were turned off, the data part.
The box, itself, wasn`t turned off. That`s how we got the ping, six hours
of pings. So, the electronic balk was still active. It was just the data
Once we lost that, we lost the transponder. And then, of course, the
airplane went out of radar coverage and we don`t have eyes in sky, the
satellite data to track this airplane.
Now, it`s anyone`s guess and we will not get any more data. If the
airplane is found and we have a cockpit voice recorder and flight data
recorder, it may shed light, but the cockpit voice recorder overwrites
itself every two hours.
MADDOW: Every two hours, right. So this may be the end of the road
in terms of the data we get until we find that flight.
Greg Feith, former senior investigator with the NTSB, which of course
is considered to be the global gold standard agency for investigating
events like this – thank you for helping us understand this.
FEITH: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: Appreciate it, thanks.
All right. The intrepid Richard Engel is right where you might guess
he would be tonight. Right now, Richard is in eastern Ukraine, where
things are taking turn after turn for the more tense. What`s happening in
Russia and Crimea and Ukraine and with Richard Engel is coming up live in
just a moment.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Just for the sake of argument, let`s say that Texas seceded
from the nation. Governor Perry, take it away.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: When we came into the nation in 1845, we
were a republic, we were a standalone nation. One of the deals was we can
leave any time we want, so we`re kind of thinking about that again.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: At one point, what is now Texas was part of France. At
another point in history, it was part of Spain. From 1821 to 1836, it was
part of Mexico. It was Mexican Texas.
Texas was then its own country for a little bit less than a decade
before Texas ultimately became an American state.
But, say, just for the sake of argument, that pseudo-secessionist
Texas Governor Rick Perry got his way and Texas decided to go back to one
particular era of Texas` good old days. Back to the country it used to be
part of right before it became a republic and then an American state.
Let`s say, just for the sake of argument, that Texas decided to become part
of Mexico again.
If Texas decided to once again become part of Mexico – obviously,
there would be a lot of consequences for Texans. They would lose their
U.S. citizenship. They would become Mexican citizens. They would, you
know, start using pesos instead of dollars and all the rest.
But it would also have pretty big consequences for what remained for
the rest of us in the United States of America. Obviously, if Texas went
back to Mexico, the USA would shrink. We would shrink geographically and
we would shrink by about 26 million people.
Also, our ethnic composition as a nation would change. If Texas left
the country, the United States would lose about 1/5 of our entire national
population of Latinos – 10 million Latinos would no longer be Americans if
Rick Perry got his way and the state of Texas seceded.
And whatever that would mean for Texas and for newly enlarge Mexico,
it would be a really big deal for the rest of the United States, right? I
mean, that would have profound implications, for example, on American
national politics and the balance of power between the two parties and all
the rest of it.
Today at this speech in the Russian parliament, Vladimir Putin
announced the Russian equivalent of Mexico taking back Texas. He announced
that Russia is re-annexing Crimea. Reabsorbing into Russia territory that
used to be Russian before it became part of Ukraine 60 years ago this past
In so doing, Russia has obviously grown itself geographically. It`s
taken something away from Ukraine and added that something into its own
territory. But in so doing, it has also removed from Ukraine the most pro-
Russian part of Ukraine.
One of the ways that Russia has tried to retain a sphere of influence
in the world is by propping up and rewarding and favoring pro-Russian
leaders in countries that are nearby to Russia. Remember that the protests
that lit the fire on this tinderbox, right, those protests that started
this international crisis, they were about the president of Ukraine, the
pro-Russian president of Ukraine, this guy, Yanukovych, refusing to sign an
economic deal that would bring his country closer to the European Union.
He rejected that deal to bring Ukraine closer to Europe and instead
said that Ukraine would take even more money from Russia and would bind
itself even more tightly economically speaking to Russia. The outpouring
of outrage against that decision in Ukraine in the capital city of Kiev
started in November with that decision about rejecting Europe in favor of
Those protests went on for weeks and then months and then escalated
into violence and fire and they sent the pro-Russian leader of Ukraine
fleeing in the night, dumping his files and his receipts and his ammunition
and everything else in the mote surrounding his palace, perhaps forgetting
that at least some of that stuff might float and the mote`s not all that
deep and some people in Ukraine know how to hold their breath and dive.
As despotic and corrupt as that pro-Russian leader Yanukovych might
have been, he was, in fact, elected democratically in Ukraine as recently
as the year 2010.
And you want to know why that guy was able to win in 2010? He was
able to win in 2010 because Crimea was part of Ukraine during that
election. He was the pro-Russia candidate and in Crimea, that`s where
Ukraine`s pro-Russia voters live.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN KOTKIN: Yanukovych won a real election in 2010. He won by
half a million votes. He won Crimea by a million votes. So Yanukovych is
president of Ukraine because of the votes in Crimea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Well, if what Vladimir Putin announced today comes to pass,
then nobody in Crimea is ever going to be voting in another election in
Ukraine. They`re going to be voting for Putin for the next 50 years in
elections in Russia.
And while that might be very exciting to Russia in the short term,
that prospect apparently brought people to tears in Putin`s hours-long
speech in the parliament today. He received dozens of standing ovations.
Thunderous applause as he talked about taking Crimea back for Russia.
And that might be very exciting in the short term, but what that
ensures in real political terms, what Putin just did today, is guarantee
that Russia`s neighbor to the west, the large and influential nation of
Ukraine, will never again have a pro-Russian leader.
And that`s not only because Russia just marched across the border and
took part of Ukraine, took part of them as a nation, which has a way of not
making friends with your neighbors, but it`s also because of Ukraine`s new
shape. With Crimea missing, Ukraine has much less of a pro-Russian
population than it used to have. Russia will never again enjoy having some
pro-Russia kleptocrat like Viktor Yanukovych as president of Ukraine, that
neighboring anymore. They will never again have anybody else pro-Russian
running that country next door.
Does that mean the brakes are now off, in terms of Ukraine, what`s
left of Ukraine formally allying itself with Europe against Russia?
That agreement with Europe, that agreement that Yanukovych said no to
back in November which started all the protest and started this whole
fight, there`s now reporting today that the new government of Ukraine is
going to sign a precursor to that deal, now going to sign the deal with the
European Union as quickly as Friday. It would be a precursor to the full-
scale economic deal between Ukraine and Europe that the pro-Russian guys
said no to.
Why would they say no to that now? They`re not pro-Russia anymore.
And this won`t be a military arrangement between Ukraine and Europe.
This is not the same as them joining NATO, for example.
But economic issues and military issues never stay strangers for very
long. And military issues all of a sudden today became very important as
to what`s about to happen next here.
In his speech, in this hour-long emotional chest-pounding speech
before the Russian parliament today, Vladimir Putin talked about the fact
Russia had been able to take over Crimea without bloodshed. He crowed
about how Russia had been able to do that, quote, “without one single shot
Russia said that this morning about not one single shot being fired
and then this afternoon, shots were fired. The Ukrainian military
announcing today, quote, “Russian military representatives started shooting
at Ukrainian military servicemen.” Ukrainian military said one Ukrainian
soldier, a lieutenant, was killed in Crimea when his base was stormed by
military forces that seemed to have been Russian even though they did not
explicitly identify themselves that way.
According to the Ukrainian military statement, quote, “The attackers
were dressed in military uniforms of the armed forces of the Russian
Federation but without insignia. They were armed with automatic weapons
and sniper rifles.”
There have been some deaths associated with protests in and around
what Russia is doing to Ukraine in Crimea. But today would seem to be the
first day of this crisis as a military conflict.
The Ukrainian prime minister announced today, quote, “The conflict is
shifting from a political to a military stage.” He said Russian soldiers
have started shooting at Ukrainian military servicemen, and that is a war
Ukraine then followed that announcement by the prime minister by
issuing orders permitting Ukrainian soldiers to start using their weapons.
Quote, “In connection with the death of a Ukrainian serviceman, Ukrainian
troops in Crimea have been allowed to use weapons to defend and protect the
lives of Ukrainian servicemen.”
So far, everything that`s happened has happened without Ukraine
firing back. That`s why you keep hearing diplomats from around the world
and politicians from around the world praising the restraint of the
Ukrainian government for not shooting back, for not giving Vladimir Putin
the military provocation and excuse that he wants and needs in order to
unleash a full-scale shooting war military assault on Ukraine.
But the Ukrainians, though, now saying their soldiers can start
firing their weapons is that restrained phase of this conflict coming to an
end? Does what happened today make it more likely Vladimir Putin is going
to push further, beyond Crimea, into eastern Ukraine, into what was looking
like a wider war?
John Kerry was asked about that prospect today. He said, quote,
“That would be as egregious as any step that I can think of that could be
taken by a country in today`s world.” That is the kind of language that
you don`t necessarily expect from somebody whose job is being a diplomat.
“As egregious as any step that I can think of that could be taken by a
country in today`s world.” Unsettled.
What is to stop Vladimir Putin from doing it, though? Is that what`s
about to happen next? Now that Putin is calling Crimea essentially a done
deal, he says, it`s part of Russia, redraw the map. Is he going to stop
there? Is eastern Ukraine next?
Joining us live from eastern Ukraine is NBC`s Richard Engel. That`s
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the administration prepared to do if
Russia invades east Ukraine?
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, you know, we made it very
clear that that`s a hard line. I`m not going to go into the details except
to say that that would be as egregious as any step that I can think of that
could be taken by a country in today`s world, particularly by a country
like Russia where so much is at stake.
Now, I hope that`s not going to be the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Secretary of State John Kerry today saying that a Russian
invasion of eastern Ukraine beyond what they`ve already done in Crimea
would be as egregious as any step that I can think of that could be taken
by a country in today`s world.
Joining us now from eastern Ukraine is NBC News chief foreign
correspondent Richard Engel.
Richard, thank you very much for being with us here, particularly in
the middle of the night out there. Really appreciate it, man.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Not a problem.
We were just in Crimea, and we left there to come to east Ukraine to see if
the story is shifting here. There have been protests here over the last
several days where people are also asking for a referendum to join up with
This is not quite as pro-Russia as Crimea, but it`s quite pro-Russia.
MADDOW: Is there any reason to believe that, I guess any reason to
guess either way or to understand either way whether or not Putin is likely
to stop at the border of Crimea, whether he is likely to push further into
ENGEL: It depends how he`s going to push any further. And I think
it would be silly to assume that this is over, that Putin is going to be
somehow satiated with having taken over Crimea and that he`s going to
forget about the rest of Ukraine. For Russia, for Putin, this is all about
Ukraine. There was a change of government in Kiev. Russia does not want a
hostile NATO-friendly country right on its border.
But does that mean that Russia will be sending tanks over the border
to liberate, in its understanding, this part of the country? Or will there
be cyber attacks? Will there be sabotage? Will there be attempts to look
for provocations that would force Russia to have no alternative but to come
to the defense of certain pockets of Russian-speaking areas?
So, I think there`s a lot of ways that this could go, but I
definitely do not think that Russia is just going to take Crimea and then
forget about the rest of Ukraine.
MADDOW: On that issue of provocations, we`ve talked about this
before, Richard, and today, there were shots fired in Crimea. Ukraine is
saying one of its Ukrainian service members was killed by Russian troops at
a base in Ukraine. Is that a potential turning point? Obviously, it could
just be an isolated incident, but do you think that`s important in the
ENGEL: It appears it may have been an isolated incident, and that is
a very vague language because this actual incident is still quite vague.
We`re not entirely sure who fired these shots. There`s a situation
where you have several hundred Ukrainian troops who are still on their
bases, and they are effectively prisoners on these bases. They`re watched
24 hours a day. They`ve been, a lot of them, disarmed, and there was an
incident today, a violent clash in which some masked gunmen went on to the
base and three people were shot, one of them was killed.
And they were shot by people who were wearing uniforms and a mask.
We don`t know, and I was just in Crimea. You don`t know exactly who people
Are these Crimeans with Russian nationality? Because some Crimeans
already had Russian nationality.
Are they Russians who are living in Crimea? Are they Russian
soldiers who newly arrived? Were they Russians who were there before on
their bases? We don`t exactly know.
The Ukrainian government certainly took this as an enormous
provocation and said that its soldiers now have the right to defend
themselves. But they are vastly outnumbered. If they try and fight their
way out of it, we`re talking about a few hundred people backed up by a few
thousand more who have mostly gone home or given up their weapons. Then
you could have a – you know, a real massacre of the remaining Ukrainian
That`s a potential provocation, but there are many provocations. You
could have – there were clashes in this city – I`m in Donetsk – a few
days ago between pro-Russian civilians, anti-Russian, pro-Kiev civilians,
militias that are both on the streets. You could have a variety of
provocations, not just those few hundred troops that are holding out, that
are almost like hostages on their bases in Ukraine, although that certainly
is a flashpoint.
MADDOW: Yes, the prospect – imagining like if you had a family
member in Crimea who was a Ukrainian soldier who was still there, I can
imagine how freaking stressful and upsetting that must be to imagine the
way they`re getting out of there if at all.
ENGEL: Their parents sometimes will come to the gates and bring them
food and ask how they are. So, they are – these are the people who won`t
give up. They refuse to change their sides. And there is agreements under
way to try to get some safe passage for them out of the territory, but some
of them don`t want to leave. They believe that their land has been stolen
MADDOW: If you`re looking for a next flashpoint, that`s a very, very
NBC News chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, as always,
Richard, grateful for you staying up until the deathly hours of the night
for us. Thanks for being here, my friend.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. There continues to be some interesting questions about
American diplomatic power in countries where we have a lot of influence
with our money but not a lot of influence in other ways. A weird
experiment in American diplomacy involving money and science is coming up
right at the end of tonight`s show.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: A little bit outside the scope of national attention,
there`s been quite a bit of civil disobedience in the great state of
Georgia this year. Not Georgia the nation as in Russia, but Georgia the
state as in right here. Folks have been protesting a lot of different
state law-making in Georgia, laws about gun control and about public
education, among other things. People have been getting arrested in
But the civil disobedience that went on today inside Georgia`s state
capitol was a little bit different – a little different because of the
subject of the protest, the size and the drama of the protest and also
because of who exactly got hauled off in handcuffs, really dramatic footage
out of Georgia coming right up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The Ebenezer Baptist Church is the church in Atlanta,
Georgia, where the father of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was the
pastor. Ebenezer Baptist is the church where Martin Jr. was baptized as a
child and he himself as one point became co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist
church with his father.
After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, his widow
requested his record recording of the final sermon at Ebenezer Baptist
Church be played at his funeral.
Ebenezer Baptist Church still stands now. It`s part of the Martin
Luther King Jr. national historic site which also includes Dr. King`s
boyhood home and his grave site. It`s in the Sweet Auburn District of
Atlanta, which is just east of downtown.
The first time I ever drove across country when I was a teenager, I
remember going there to see the grave site of Dr. King and I remember
looking in on the church and not knowing until I saw it that the church was
still an active church, that it still has a congregation, that it`s still
I don`t know what your job is, but it is hard to imagine a more
humbling job in the world than being the pastor of the church where Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor, right, and his father before him.
But there is a man who has that job now. His name is Dr. Raphael G.
Warnock. And today, Dr. Raphael Warnock was arrested at the Georgia state
This is a report from local Channel 46 in Atlanta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Inside the senate chambers and outside the doors, dozens
of people erupted in cheers, chants and sat down on the floor. Some were
arrested this morning and even more late this afternoon during coordinated
protests. The man in the middle of this crowd getting arrested is the
reverend for Ebenezer Baptist Church, Reverend Raphael Warnock.
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: So we made this statement. We`ve come to his
office because in a real sense, we feel this is more serious than simply
refusing to accept the expansion.
REPORTER: Warnock made statements to the media about why Georgia
needs to expand Medicaid. He says its 600,000 Georgians are not covered by
the Affordable Care Act and aren`t poor enough to receive Medicaid in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta today was
one of roughly 40 people, 40 people who are arrested at the Georgia state
It didn`t just happen all at once, like a lot of big protests do.
People were arrested in the morning, at the Senate chambers as you see
here. Then, more people were arrested in the early afternoon. Then, more
people were arrested thereafter. It went on all day today at the Georgia
Lot of the protesters were elderly people.
You know, the Moral Mondays protests that have happened for almost a
year now in North Carolina? Well, Moral Mondays are not just for North
Carolina anymore. As of today, they`re not just for Mondays anymore.
We reported a couple weeks ago on the proposal by Georgia`s
Republican Governor Nathan Deal that Congress, he says, should overturn a
law signed by Ronald Reagan that says if someone turns up at an emergency
room in an American hospital and they are in need of emergency medical
treatment, the hospital must treat that person.
If you can manage to get yourself to the hospital in the middle of
your heart attack or in the middle of giving birth, the hospital cannot by
law turn you away and not treat you. They have to treat you now, stabilize
you medically and figure out how to pay for it thereafter. That`s law.
A few weeks ago, Nathan Deal said that law should be overturned,
Reagan was wrong. Hospitals should be able to turn you away if you show up
at their door and you need treatment.
You`ve heard of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. Nathan Deal is
proposing kind of a bad Samaritan change in the law.
But the reason he`s doing it is because Georgia rural hospitals keep
closing, a ton of them, to the point where some advocates in the state of
Georgia are saying that state could soon be at risk of having third-world
levels of health care availability in the state`s rural counties.
A big part of the problem is that people on the poorer end of the
economic spectrum in rural Georgia just don`t tend to have health
insurance. The state has a really high rate of uninsured kids in
particular. If the Good Samaritan Ronald Reagan law says hospitals have to
provide care even if you don`t have insurance – well, surprise, providing
care to uninsured people who don`t have money to pay the bills is not a
sustainable plan for most hospitals.
Luckily, the state of Georgia has just been a way to get health
insurance to 600,000 Georgia residents who right now don`t have it. You
want to stop all the hospitals from shutting down in the state? Well, turn
their uninsured nonpaying patients into paying patients who do have
Under the Affordable Care Act, 600,000 Georgia residents would get
health insurance. And the federal government would pay all the costs for
that for the first three years. After the first three year, the federal
government would cover at minimum 90 percent of those costs.
But Georgia`s Republican Governor Nathan Deal says he won`t do it.
Republicans in the Georgia legislature today took up a bill to essentially
affirm that they don`t want to do it either, that those 600,000 Georgians
should not get coverage.
And so, today, the Moral Mondays protests that started in North
Carolina and have spilled over into neighboring states, today they not only
spilled over into Georgia, but Moral Mondays spilled into Moral Tuesday.
And the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church today was one of the people
taken away in handcuffs, in protests they say will continue.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said gays are born that way and it has been
proved. It`s been proven that they`re born that way.
That is a lie. That`s what`s called a lie. It is not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It has been five years since anti-gay activists from the
United States made a trip to Uganda. Five years since we learned that
America`s far right anti-gay bizarro world had turned into an export
Three American evangelical activists traveled to a nation of Uganda
for a three-day anti-gay conference in that country in the year 2009.
While they were there, they spoke to a group that reportedly included
Ugandan legislators. The American anti-gay activists urged the Ugandans
that they should have zero tolerance for homosexuality and for gay people.
The Americans told them that gay people are dangerous, but there`s no need
to respect the rights of gay people because frankly, no one has to be gay.
Gay people can become straight people if they want to, because
there`s a cure for homosexuality. It`s gay people`s choice whether or not
they want to avail themselves of that cure. So, if they don`t, you really
can blame them for being gay because they could be straight if they wanted
to be straight.
The Americans explained to the Ugandans that if you gave gay people
an inch, they will take a mile. You have to show them zero tolerance. Gay
people really are out to get you, they told the Ugandans, you have to stop
Those American anti-gay activists presenting themselves as experts on
sexual orientation. They said they spoke on the basis of reason and the
latest American science.
And their American activism exported to Uganda worked. Legislators
in that country, including some who reportedly attended the anti-gay
conference with these experts flown in from America, legislators, those
Uganda legislators began pushing for new and extreme punishments for being
gay in their country.
The first version of their bill established death by hanging as the
sentence for the new crime of homosexuality. The Americans who had
exported their pseudoscience to Uganda which resulted in that bill, they
said they were shocked by the drastic nature of the resulting legislation,
the “kill the gays” bill.
Those American activists tried to distance themselves from what they
had rocked but the Ugandans we talked about it said those American
activists had, in fact, inspired the law.
Uganda`s “kill the gays” bill eventually died after a wave of
international condemnation. That was 2009.
But last month, a new iteration of that bill came back. And Uganda`s
president, somewhat unexpectedly signed into law the new version of the
bill, the revised version doesn`t include the sentence of death for being
gay, but you can still get life imprisonment. You can also get seven year
in prison for attempting to commit homosexuality or for promoting
And when he signed that bill into the law, the Ugandan president
brought up, unprompted, the same kind of bonkers for science nonsense that
those Americans activists had exported to that country back in 2009.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOWERI MUSEVENI, UGANDAN PRESIDENT: For somebody to be a homosexual,
it`s a combination of some genetic, but mainly external factors, like the
influence and so on and so forth. We don`t want anybody to interfere in
our internal affairs. Finished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Finished. The Ugandan president said he was done, he
wouldn`t reconsider his position and signed it.
American officials including both Secretary of State John Kerry and
his predecessor, Hillary Clinton and President Obama himself have all been
outspoken on this issue, warning Uganda to not to do it. The U.S. gives
Uganda a ton of foreign aid. And after President Museveni signed the anti-
gay law, President Obama said the U.S. would review that aid money and our
whole relationship with Uganda.
We don`t yet know what that review is going to mean, but “BuzzFeed”
has a scoop today about something else the U.S. government is apparently
now doing to try to turn this thing around. Secretary of State John Kerry
now says the U.S. has a new plan to send actual scientists to Uganda so
they basically can explain the gay, to try to undo some of the nonsense
quackery that was passed off to these folks, as if it were cutting edge
Speaking today at a forum hosted by “BuzzFeed”, Secretary Kerry said,
“I talked personally to President Museveni and he committed to meet to some
of our experts so we could engage him in a dialogue as to why what he did
could not be based on any science or fact which is what he was alleging.”
“He welcomed that and said happy to receive them, the scientists, and
he said we can engage in that kind of conversation. Maybe we can reach a
point of consideration.”
So, after American anti-guy evangelical activists exported their
views to Uganda back in 2009, holding them out as the latest in American
science on this issue of how God can make you straight, can the U.S.
government undo that damage now by exporting actual science, actual
scientists to try to clean up the mess those other Americans left behind.
Our government is apparently about to embark on a rather fascinating
experiment in real science and real diplomacy in a faraway country that a
number of Americans had a real hand in really, really screwing up.
The issue of what the United States government can do to try to undo
some of the damage that Americans did in Uganda has been a very open
question. I don`t know exactly who Secretary Kerry is planning on sending
over there, who the scientists are going to be who go over there and how
they`re going to be received in Uganda, but this is a new one in the annals
of the diplomacy.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Thanks for being with us.
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