The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/03/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chris, thanks. And thanks you
for joining us at home this hour. We do have a lot coming up on the show
tonight including Richard Engel joining us live on the ISIS story. We have
got some unexpected and good news out of Alabama tonight, we got a lot of
news, it`s a busy show, we will get to all of it. But as Chris mentioned
there, we do have some legitimately breaking news tonight, some upsetting
news, from the town of Valhalla New York. This is less than 30 miles north
of New York City, and one of the New York City area commuter rail systems
is called metro north, just after 7:00 Eastern tonight, a metro north
commuter train carrying hundreds of passengers apparently struck a vehicle,
an SUV that was stopped on the tracks. Transit officials at this hour, as
Chris just said, say that six people have been killed in this crash, the
driver of the SUV and apparently five passengers who were on board that
metro north commuter train.
These are some images from people on scene, from the scene of the crash.
There are reports tonight of at least ten injuries. MTA`s press release
that`s just come out a couple of minutes ago say there are at least 12
injuries. There is some ambiguity in terms of the number of injuries and
also the nature of the injuries. According to NBC reporting, already three
people have been brought to Westchester Medical Center tonight with
injuries that are being described as, quote, very serious.
Again, the confirmed death toll at this point is six. What we were told by
MTA is that one of the six confirmed fatalities was the driver of the SUV.
It was a female, and she was outside the car at the time of the crash, but
also in addition to her, five customers onboard the train.
Transit officials have obviously stopped service on that line between White
Plains and Pleasantville. They have also closed a highway nearby. The
Taconic State Parkway. Again, this is a crash between a commuter train, a
very busy, very crowded commuter train heading north out of New York City
and an SUV happen in the town of - near the town of Valhalla New York.
Multiple injuries, as yet the total number of injuries and the nature of
those injuries is unknown. But six confirmed fatalities.
Joining us now from the scene is reporter Gus Rosendale from our New York
Station WNBC. Gust, what can you - you tell us about the latest, and
anything that`s known about why this crash may have happened.
GUS ROSENDALE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rachel, I was talking to some of
the passengers just now on board. There were about 400 on that train. And
their account of what happened, really very depending on where they were.
I talked to one man who was in one of the last cars and he said he felt the
slight bump and he didn`t realize how serious the situation was until he
got out of the train. And I talked to one man who was about four cars back
and he says quickly smoke started to fill the train, and that these 400
passengers were pretty much on their own, they had to as the MTA put it,
self-evacuate. (INAUDIBLE). That they essentially had to smash the glass
to get out to escape what was happening there. The fire, and I think
you`ve been looking at some of those images, seems to have started a little
after the initial crash when the train ran into that jeep Cherokee, then
pushed about ten train car length back. So there was some delay before
there was - flames started to consume that first car.
In terms of a cars, we figured that (INAUDIBLE) from the scene, that there
was arms that come down across, and were down, so whether this was a case
of a car stalling and getting caught on the tracks, that all speculation at
this point. The one note that is interesting here is that the woman who
was said to be driving the car was apparently outside of the car when the
train finally hit, so (INAUDIBLE)
MADDOW: And Gus, we`re told that they, as you mentioned, that the train
upon hitting that car moved it ten train cars length, which is a very long
distance that would imply that this crash happens at least at some
considerable speed. Do we know if there were any other people inside the
SUV, other than the driver who as you say had exited the vehicle,
apparently, at the time of the crash?
ROSENDALE: We have not heard any reports of that. It sounds at this point
like the only person involved in that - was this …
MADDOW: And in terms of the passengers and their reaction, again, it
sounds like what you heard from passengers who survived this crash that
they didn`t have much communication, at least some of them didn`t have much
communication in terms of what to do, but they took it upon themselves to
kick out emergency - kick out the emergency glass, kick out those windows
in order to get themselves out?
ROSENDALE: Very well put. According to one person that I talked to here,
he said there was a short announcement from a conductor saying there was
some sort of - some sort of issue, and then there was no follow up. There
were no extended instructions on what to do. And so, again, what we`re
hearing from passengers here is that it was on their own to get out of the
train. And you are - absolutely, you were dealing with severe weather
conditions here. They have initially - were huddled outside of it, and
then - they brought to a local gym when they were trying to be reunited
with their families at this point. They described (ph) it like they were
on their own. They did describe it as orderly and not chaotic. Some
concerns that smoke spread and when there was - when you could hear that
explosion. We will hear how - become sort of a heightened situation, but
it is in the high fully - train at the Grand Central, you know that it`s
packed, there were quite a number of people who were standing when this
happened, and it sounds like these folks conducted themselves in an orderly
way during for what could have been a very, very chaotic and even worse
situation as we are looking at it right now.
MADDOW: Gus Rosendale, reporter with New York NBC station WNBC. Gus,
thank you very much. This is very helpful for us understanding this. I
appreciate it. Joining us now is one of the passengers who was on this
train, Neil Rader. Mr. Rader, thank you very much for joining us. Can you
tell me where you are right now and where you were when the crash happened?
NEIL RADER, PASSENGER ON TRAIN: Sure, you may lose me because my battery
is very low. But I was on the train in the middle of the back of the
train. So, we did not feel as much of a jolt as the folks in front. We
evacuated. Right now I`m actually on a bus, we were waiting in a place
called the cliffs, but - in an hour and a half, now on a bus getting
actually, taken to a train station to try to get back home.
MADDOW: And you said you were in the middle back of the train, when it
happened to you. It didn`t feel that much in terms of the collision. Were
you able to tell at that point what had happened? Did you have instruction
in terms of what to do and what the train had just collided with?
RADER: No, there was probably that ten seconds or so that we were all kind
of wondering what happened. The train basically had a small jolt. And
then we were waiting and it basically stopped. There was a quick
announcement, and then it sounded like they tried to make another few
announcements, but nothing came out of the speakers, so probably a good I
would say three or four minutes went by until a conductor came running
through the train, looked like he was coming from the back up towards the
front. And then probably another four or five minutes later he came back
and that is when people started evacuating.
MADDOW: Mr. Rader, I don`t want you to speculate on something that you
don`t know about, but I will ask you in case you do know. We`re told that
five people onboard the train were killed in this crash, do you have any
sense from what you saw or what you experienced on the scene as to whether
or not those fatalities would have been just because of the force of the
collision, or was there a fire or explosion or something else immediately
after the crash that might have explained that?
RADER: It would be speculation, but from where we are, there was no one
injured, but as we were evacuating the train and looked up north, they
could see the smoke, they could see that something major had happened. So,
you know, I don`t want to speculate, but I would guess it was the folks in
the front car, or the front two cars, and the actual cars that we heard
were on the tracks.
MADDOW: Last question for you, Mr. Rader. I don`t know if you ride this
particular train, the - 44 out of Ground Central frequently, but whether
you have in the past or tonight, can you tell us how crowded the train was,
if there were standees, if it were the pretty packed commuter train
RADER: Yeah, I take this train very often - sometimes the 6:10, sometimes
this one. It was pretty crowded. It normally is. Almost every seat was
filled. Some three across, some two. I don`t recall that there were
people standing in our car, but there may have been one or two, but it was
MADDOW: Neil Radar, I know this is a traumatic experience. Thanks for
helping us understand what you saw and what you went through tonight. Good
luck tonight. Thanks, sir.
RADER: You are very welcome, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you. Neil Rader, again, one of the passengers onboard this
Metro North commuter rail train tonight, which has collided with an SUV
just north of New York City. You know, we got the initial news reports
across the wire that there have been a car/train collision. That`s not the
rariest thing in the world. You see these things frequently. There was an
audible gasp throughout our news room when the word came across the wire
that this car train collision had resulted in six confirmed fatalities so
far and multiple serious injuries on top of that.
Again, we don`t have a firm number on injuries, we were told 12 injuries by
the MTA. NBC reporting early tonight indicated that some of those injured
were considered to have very serious injuries. We`re obviously hoping and
praying that the death toll does not rise tonight, but again, the basics of
this accident, as we`re told, about 30 miles north of New York City, around
7 p.m. tonight, a crowded commuter train, an SUV on the tracks. We don`t
know why. The arms were down indicating that there should not be somebody
crossing the tracks. The female driver of that SUV was apparently outside
of the vehicle when the train collided with her vehicle. She, we`re told
was killed as were five people onboard that train. Patients - excuse me,
people self-evacuated. Some patients were taken to a nearby medical
center. Again, we`re told with serious injuries, but as the passenger who
just - we just spoke with told us, they were evacuated to a local rock
climbing gym called “The Cliffs” and now some of the people who survived
that train tonight, hundreds of people are now trying to make their way
home. We`ll keep you posted on this as we learn more, and keep an eye on
those casualty totals tonight, praying they don`t go up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: As promised, we`ve got lots to come on tonight`s show including
the nation`s top expert on infectious diseases, who`s going to be here as
the interview tonight. Plus, Richard Engel is going to be joining us live
on the situation today with ISIS, this terrible situation and ISIS and
potential retaliation tonight against ISIS by the nation of Jordan, that
developing story is next, please stay with us.
MADDOW: People who carry out suicide bombings don`t end up in prison.
Right? By definition. Say what you will about being a suicide bomber, as
your personal life choice. Suicide bombers don`t have to worry about
getting arrested, or going to prison, or anything else that might happen
next here on earth. When you do get a suicide bomber put on trial and put
in prison, what that means is they did it wrong? As to the suicide part of
the suicide bomber job description. They failed. And that is the case for
this failure. Her name is Sajida al-Rishawi. She is an Iraqi woman, she
was married, she and her husband had close ties to al Qaeda in Iraq. Her
brother was one of the top confidents of the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq.
The guy - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S.
military airstrike in Iraq in 2006, but before he died in late 2005,
November 2005, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi orchestrated an al Qaeda in Iraq
bombing that had international shockwaves. Al-Zarqawi lead this group in
Iraq, but he was Jordanian by birth. And in that November, 2005 bombing,
he decided to extend the reach of his branch of al Qaeda beyond Iraq to
instead attack his native country. Al Qaeda in Iraq under Abu Musab al-
Zarqawi sent Iraqi suicide bombers into the cosmopolitan large, basically
safe capital city of Jordan, Amman, Jordan. And those suicide bombers set
off three nearly simultaneous bombs. When NBC News broke into its regular
coverage that day, with that special report of these shocking bombings in
the capital city of Jordan, part of what was so shocking about it for an
American audience particularly was the familiarity of the names of the
places that those suicide bombers blew up that day in Jordan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an NBC News special report. Here is Brian
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good day from New York. We`re coming
on the air to report apparently a violent series of bombings in Amman,
Jordan within about the past hour. Three different hotels, home to usually
a lot of tourists, a lot of westerners, military contractors, what have
you, the Hyatt Regency, the Radisson and the Days In, and we believe,
perhaps, in that order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Hyatt Regency, the Radisson and the Days In in Amman, Jordan.
That was November 9th, 2005. Now, in terms of who was responsible for that
attack, two days after the bombing on November 11TH, Jordanian authorities
announced they had identified the bodies of three suicide attackers. One
suicide bomber from each of the three hotels that was bombed.
Weirdly, though, at the same time, al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility
for those bombings, but they put out a list of four suicide bombers who
they said had been sent to attack those hotels. They put out a list of
four names, not three. Three other suicide bombers did succeed in their
mission. They were dead. They each detonated one bomb at each of three
hotels in Amman, in total those three bombers killed 57 people. They were
all Iraqi men, all sent by al Qaeda in Iraq.
But the fourth name on that list that al Qaeda and Iraq put out when they
claimed responsibility, the fourth name - what they called the fourth
bomber, that was a woman. She had apparently planned to take part with her
husband, specifically in the bombing of the Radisson hotel in Amman. That
was a bombing that killed dozens of people including 27 members of one
wedding party. But once they were inside that hotel, she either apparently
lost her nerve, or her bomb vest didn`t explode. After Jordanian police
arrested her, they then broadcast this spooky tape of her wearing some
version of some explosive vest showing how she had hidden it under her
clothes and demonstrating she said confessing how she planned to set it
off. So, she is a failure as a suicide bomber. She a wannabe failed
suicide bomber. After this televised confession, she was convicted in
Jordan, she is now the only woman on death row in that country.
Now she is not somebody who has become a widespread cause celeb in the
terrorist world. I mean some al Qaeda prisoners honestly are, the blind
sheikh, for example, or the MIT trained scientist who`s now at super max
jail in Texas. Some of them are celebrity prisoners. This woman, this
Iraqi woman in Jordan who failed that her part in otherwise successful
terrorist bombing campaign, she has not been a very high profile figure in
the terrorist world. But that bombing of those hotels in Jordan was
probably the most murderous international terrorist attack that al Qaeda in
Iraq ever carried out. Her brother, as I mentioned, was a top leader in
al-Qaeda in Iraq, and al Qaeda in Iraq has since morphed into this group,
ISIS. ISIS, which operates both in Iraq and in Syria.
So, because of that background, it was a surprise but not inexplicable when
ISIS decided that they were going to elevate this woman in this Jordanian
prison. They were going to elevate her from obscurity just within the last
couple of weeks, when they demanded her freedom in Jordan in exchange for
the life of two Japanese hostages held by ISIS, and possibly, a 26-year-old
Jordanian air force pilot who had been shot down over Syria, and his F-16
on Christmas eve, December 2004-2014 and was held by ISIS ever since.
There had been reports that Jordan was willing to trade her, they are
willing to trade that failed suicide bomber, that Iraqi woman in order to
get their own pilot back out of ISIS custody. NBC News reports tonight
that Jordan not only would have been willing to trade her, then also have
been willing to trade two other al Qaeda prisoners that they had on death
row in addition to her.
So, three al Qaeda prisoners, all convicted terrorists, all on death row in
Jordan, Jordan reportedly was ready to trade all three of them to ISIS in
exchange for ISIS returning that air force pilot.
But then after last week, ISIS uploaded a video apparently showing the
death of the first Japanese hostage, and then this weekend ISIS uploaded
another video apparently showing the death of the second Japanese hostage,
today ISSI uploaded another video that purports to show the death of that
Jordanian pilot. And what the video again purportedly show is that they
killed him not by beheading or by gunfire, the way they have killed other
hostages in previous videos, what the video today appears to show is that
they killed this young pilot by burning him alive while he was trapped in a
Whether or not the government of Jordan had actually expected to be able to
trade that Iraqi woman, trade Sajida al-Rishawi, and those two other al
Qaeda prisoners to ISIS in exchange for that pilot, whether or not that was
a real plan, and they really thought they were going to be able to do it,
no such exchange was ever made. And now, this is the story tonight: Now
Jordanian intelligence sources tell NBC News that Jordanian authorities
have made a request to the King of Jordan that Jordan be allowed to
retaliate against ISIS tonight for the death of their pilot by executing
those three al Qaeda prisoners in Jordan, the ones they had offered to swap
for him. If there`s now swap and they`ve killed him, can Jordan kill those
three al Qaeda prisoners?
Again, NBC News reporting tonight, according to intelligence sources in
Jordan that that request has been made to the king. King Abdullah of
Jordan is a very close ally of the United States. Not just in the sense of
his country, Jordan being a close ally of the United States, but him
personally. The king of Jordan went to high school in Massachusetts. He
was captain of the wrestling team at Deerfield Academy. He formed King`s
Academy in Jordan, modeled on a New England prep school and his experience
at Deerfield Academy. Before the ISIS video was posted today, he was
already in the United States, as he frequently is, taking high level
meetings with multiple different leaders in the United States government.
But after the purported execution video was uploaded showing this Jordanian
pilot, Jordan announced today that the king would be cutting short his
visit, he would be heading home to manage the situation, but not before
taking one last individual meeting, an individual meeting, one on one in
the Oval Office tonight, him and President Obama.
After this meeting tonight in the Oval Office the king will reportedly be
heading straight back to Jordan, which by all accounts is in absolute
uproar over this murder. The propaganda video that ISIS put out today
apparently showing this murder, it was really long. It was more than 20
minutes long. And the murder itself was embedded in this larger argument
that the propaganda video made, that Jordan is wrong to be participating in
the coalition of countries that are bombing ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.
So ISIS is trying to use this shock, torturous murder of this pilot as
propaganda, specifically as a way of turning the Jordanian people against
their government`s decision to participate in this military fight against
Now, the Jordanian government tonight is banking that this murder of this
pilot will actually have the exact opposite effect on Jordanian public
opinion. Look at this statement today, this is remarkable statement. Look
at this, it`s from the official government spokesman in Jordan.
“For any Jordanians who doubted the savagery of Islamic states, this is the
proof. He who thought they represent the true Islam, this is the proof.
Those who doubted the unity of the Jordanians in the face of this evil, we
will show them the proof. He who doubted that Jordan`s response will be
decisive, and shaking, and strong, the proof will come to them.
That statement, again, today from the official spokesman for the Jordanian
government. “Jordanian king is on his way home. Meanwhile that
international military campaign against ISIS continues including with more
Jordanian pilots. The Jordanian air force is participating in bombing ISIS
targets in Syria, not in Iraq. That has been the decision of most of the
Arab countries involved in this coalition. Today that Pentagon announced
nine new airstrikes in Iraq, five new airstrikes in Syria, all against ISIS
The United States was first in in this air campaign starting in August
under President Obama`s orders. Incredibly – I find this I incredible, I
know that I`m alone …
MADDOW: It`s quite incredibly, the U.S. government still has not formally
weighed in on this military action that we started in August. The U.S.
government still has not formally weighed in on this, let alone debated
what we are doing against ISIS in Iraq or Syria. There still has been no
move in the U.S. Congress to authorize that campaign of airstrikes or
debate it beyond the committee level.
Tomorrow President Obama`s nominee to be the new Secretary of Defense, Ash
Carter, he will have the first round of his confirmation hearings to be the
new head of Pentagon, and may be that might conceivably be a venue to
discuss our nation`s military strategy against ISIS. This ongoing war that
we are waging even though we never declared it and never debated it and
never voted on it.
Maybe the Ash Carter confirmation hearing wills be a chance to consider our
military strategy against ISIS, our relationship with our allies in
fighting ISIS. The risk to American pilots and personnel, in carrying out
these airstrikes and supporting that mission, and whether it is worth it,
because that mission is working. Or is that mission working? Maybe the
Ash Carter hearings will be an occasion to discuss that. But, you know, it
might not come up, we have not really focused on it as a country.
Meanwhile we know that ISIS continues to hold at least one American
hostage, a young woman she is 26 years old. We know that ISIS also claims
to be holding multiple other foreign national civilians, and we have now
seen just in the past few weeks, that they have decided that beheading is
not shocking enough, it`s not provoking enough, right? It does not upset
people enough anymore. Just in the past few weeks, we`ve seen them move
from beheading prisoners to this video, you`ll remember? Where they had a
child, a boy who appears to be about nine or ten years old, himself, carry
out the execution of adult prisoners?
And now they`re trying to up the terror level even further with this new
video that purports to show this young pilot being set on fire while he was
still alive, and while he was in a cage, unable to get away from the
And we`re absorbing this as news as it is happening, right, in this
country, but we`re having no political debate about this in this country.
And so, our decision making capacity as a country around how to respond to
something like this is thereby stunted. If you`re having a real binding
debate, that makes you come up with good arguments for what you`re doing.
And the need for good arguments is how you get to good decisions.
In the absence of that formal political debate in this country, which
unbelievably we`re still not having, we`re sort of left just as civilians,
as regular citizens, as observers to try to figure out what makes sense to
do here, right? What is ISIS`s strategy here? What are they trying to do?
What our best hopes for preventing them from achieving their goals, and is
what we`re doing already making any sense?
Tonight we await news from Jordan to find out what that country`s response
to be. What that country`s king`s response will be to this latest
provocation, the killing of one of their soldiers? That includes, tonight,
waiting for news from a Jordanian prison tonight about whether that country
has decided to execute three al Qaeda prisoners tonight including the only
woman that country has on death row.
In retaliation for ISIS`s murderous boast today that they have killed this
Jordanian pilot in the most horrific way possible. We await that news
Joining us now from Istanbul is NBC News chief foreign correspondent
Richard Engel. Richard, thank you so much for being here.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It`s a pleasure.
MADDOW: So, Richard, one of the unknowns here is the timing of the death
of this young pilot. It was interesting to see your report tonight on
nightly news that Jordan believes that this - the apparent killing in this
video might not have been right now, might not have been recent. Do we
know any more about that?
ENGEL: There were reports initially, so you had it exactly right. He was
taken captive by ISIS on December 24. There were initial reports on the
third and the sixth and also the eighth of January all coming from
Jordanian media, all siting Jordanian intelligence sources, saying that he
had already been killed. There were reports on Twitter in early January,
that first week in January, that activists from ISIS were tweeting that the
pilot had been killed and that he had been killed by burning. And I think
most - well, Jordanian officials now believe that he was, in fact, killed
in early January.
And if you remember, one of the key things that Jordan was insisting upon,
in order to make this prisoner swap for that woman, the failed suicide
bomber, Sajida al-Rishawi, is that Jordan was insisting on proof of life,
and they said we`ll hand over this woman and we`ll hand over two other al
Qaeda militants on death row as well in Jordan, but we want the proof of
life and that proof of life was never forthcoming. And I think now after
the video is taken - been broadcast, Jordanian officials are even more
convinced that it was filmed shortly after he was - shortly after he was
Also, I have seen the video, I wouldn`t recommend anyone watching it, and
the Internet has been pretty scrubbed of the video. It is quite hard to
find now, which is a good thing. When he was initially captured, he was
being dragged out of a body of water by several ISIS militants. He was
half naked, and he had a bruise under one of his eyes, and black eyes do
last a long time. But in this execution video, he had the same bruise
under the same eye.
So, that would suggest that the video was taken not very much longer after
he was captured.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Some of those timing issues, and this question
about whether or not Jordan was essentially trying to negotiate a prisoner
swap, knowing that he potentially had already been killed, having gone
through all of this with this back and forth with ISIS, floating that
they`d be willing to trade these prisoners, do you have any news or any
insight into this decision about whether or not they`re going to kill those
three al Qaeda prisoners basically as retaliation?
ENGEL: Yes. Actually, I have been told it is not three, it is six.
ENGEL: It is Sajida Rishawi, plus five others. And that it could take
place in a few hours, that it could take place after the Fajr prayers,
which are the early morning prayers across Jordan and across the Islamic
world. So, that would be – well, just around sun up which in this part of
the world comes in about three hours from now.
Whether they actually go through with them, we will see, but Jordan seems
quite intent to do it, carry out the executions of Rishawi and five others.
MADDOW: Richard, from what you understand about ISIS and how they tick,
where they came from, what they`re goals are, what do you think the impact
would be if Jordan goes ahead with that decision? Obviously, it would be a
dramatic decision. It would be an understandable. But how do you think it
ENGEL: I think in Jordan, it will resonate well. I think there are a lot
of people tonight demanding action and justice. You mentioned earlier
imagine if this was an American pilot, what the visceral reaction would be
in the United States.
So, I think the king is playing to his tribal audience. He`s playing to
the population, in the town where this young pilot, his hometown called
Karak (ph). There was some attacks after the video emerged on government
buildings. Some people went out and tried to set some government buildings
So, there was an angry reaction among the pilot`s relatives and extended
family. That didn`t spread nationwide and it was contained, but that is
something that the Jordanian king is very concerned about. He doesn`t want
to seem weak. He doesn`t want to look like he was off on a world visit to
Washington while one of his pilots was facing the worst death imaginable.
MADDOW: NBC News chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, Richard,
super valuable reporting tonight – thanks. Thanks very much. It`s good
to have you here, thank you.
Sobering stuff, obviously, incredibly sobering and terrible story, but I
think it`s important new development that Richard just reported here, which
is that, again, according to his sources, he is hearing that it is not
necessarily that Jordan is considering executing the one al Qaeda prisoner
that we had been told. They were thinking about swapping for their pilot
who ISIS now says they have killed. We heard later that it might be that
they were thinking about executing her and two other al Qaeda prisoners who
are on death row in Jordan.
What Richard has just reported tonight is that the plan in Jordan may be
that it is six prisoners, the female suicide bomber from the Jordanian
suicide bombings in November 2005, who they had publicly said they were
willing to swap for that pilot, plus five other al Qaeda militants in
Jordanian custody, whom may be killed within a matter of hours in
retaliation for that pilot`s death tonight.
We`ll know more as the night progresses. Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK, check this out. That very recognizable black door right there
with the 11 on it, that`s 11 Downing Street in London. The British prime
minister lives next door at 10 Downing, but this is next door where the
Chancellor of the Exchequer lives. The job is roughly equivalent to our
Earlier this morning, the press gathered at 11 Downing Street, because
inside, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was meeting with New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie. According to the schedule announced ahead of
time, Governor Christie was supposed to walk out that door with the 11 on
it and then deliver brief remarks to the press. That`s why there was a
bank of microphones set up there in the foreground. That is what was
supposed to happen.
This is what happened instead. Governor Christie, his wife, the Chancellor
of the Exchequer all come out of 11 Downing Streets, they shake hands for
the cameras, hello, thank you very much, they exchange a few pleasantries.
And then Chris Christie, watch what he does. OK, I really enjoyed speaking
with you, hmm, yes, all right. And now the microphones – wait, hold –
wait – but!
Governor Christie makes a B-line in the other direction, away from the
cameras and the reporters as they shouted questions toward him and he
walked away pretending he couldn`t hear.
Governor Christie was supposed to make brief remarks to the media after
that visit that was on his schedule in black and white, but he apparently
decided to bag it and go for a walk.
Then, this was the scene a few hours later when Governor Christie took a
tour of Shakespeare`s Globe Theater.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: No questions today.
REPORTER: In your meetings, did you discuss the Islamic State at all?
CHRISTIE: Is there stuff that you didn`t understand about new questions?
REPORTER: Governor, would you put troops on the ground to fight ISIS?
REPORTER: Is there a reason you won`t take questions today?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Is there a reason you won`t take questions today? We`re only here
because you said you`d take questions.
Chris Christie dodged the press on three separate occasions today. There
were three press avails listed on his London schedule, he bailed on all of
them. Governor`s office explained they changed their mind.
But this is Governor Christie who loves talking to the press more than he
loves life. I mean, the whole point of this junket to Britain is to get it
covered by the press.
The problem, of course, is that yesterday on this junket, the governor
became the biggest story in American politics in a bad when he suggested to
reporter that it was a parent`s choice whether or not they should vaccinate
their kids against diseases like the measles. He insisted that it should
be a parent`s individual choice. Cue, giant 19th century American measles
outbreak that breaks out at Disneyland.
Governor Christie`s office walked back his vaccine choice comments after he
made them yesterday. He then completely avoided making any further
comments on the subject today. Actually, he avoided making any comment
about anything today.
But the conversation that Chris Christie inadvertently started and
apparently now regrets starting has gone off in a sort of hard to believe
direction starting with this from his fellow 2016 presidential hopeful,
Senator Rand Paul. He`s a doctor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`ve heard of many tragic cases of walking,
talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was yesterday on CNBC. Today, Rand Paul tried to take that
back by in his own inimitable way by saying he never said that thing he
said. The senator`s statement today, quote, “I did not say vaccines caused
disorders, just that they were temporally related. I did not allege
causation. I support vaccines,” he said. “I received them myself and I
had all of my children vaccinated.”
He then posted pictures of himself getting a vaccine today. Pay attention
to what I said yesterday, when I said kids, quote, “wind up with profound
mental disorders after vaccine”, I wasn`t actually saying anything at all
about vaccines you crazy liberal media.
But the Rand Paul and Chris Christie vaccine denialism stuff that happened
yesterday has now caused, today, what apparently is going to be the first
litmus test moment of 2016 presidential campaign, at least on the
Watch this. This was the scene earlier today when Republican senator and
potential presidential hopeful Marco Rubio emerged from a Senate hearing on
Cuba, not on vaccines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Senator, should children be vaccinated for measles, and do you
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Yes, absolutely.
REPORTER: Should it be mandatory for children to be vaccinated?
REPORTER: Absolutely. Unless they`re immune suppressed, obviously, for
medical exceptions. But I believe that all children, as is the law in most
states in this country, before they can even attend school, have to be
vaccinated for a certain panel.
There is absolutely no medical science or data whatsoever that links to
those vaccinations to an onset of autism or anything of nature. So,
absolutely. All children in American should be vaccinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Notice how he is looking right at the camera while he is saying
that? Use this in an ad, use this in an ad, use this in an ad.
Should kids get their vaccinations is now a legitimate and interesting
question to ask Republican politicians. Legitimate and interesting because
we don`t really know what they`ll say. I mean, before Chris Christie and
Rand Paul jumped into the deep end yesterday, I`m not sure we knew this
would be a hard question.
But now, in 2015, Republican politicians have to prove they understand that
stuff, because some of the most high profile among them apparently don`t.
And so, today, in Republican-ville, it went like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, do you believe that parents should be required to
vaccinate their children under law? And is this something that Congress
should step in on? Or do you think this is an open question –
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don`t know that we need
another law, but I do believe that all children ought to be vaccinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The top Republican in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner,
holding his weekly press conference today. That was the first question he
got from reporters in his weekly presser. It was also then the second
Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal today, he proactively without
being asked, put out his own statement on the subject today, saying he
supports kids getting their vaccinations.
It is sort of astonishing this is a question in mainstream politics for
supposedly mainstream politicians. But this is now a question in
John Boehner, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, planting a flag on the yes, get
your shots side today.
Ted Cruz, I kid you not, today when he was asked about it, said it`s a
state`s rights issue.
Carly Fiorina, who wants to run for president as well apparently her
comments on the subject today included the assertion that, hey, measles
just isn`t that bad a big thing.
I can`t believe this is a topic of discussion and disagreement right now
among mainstream politicians, but apparently this is. Hold that though.
MADDOW: So, our guest for “The Interview” tonight is the nation`s top
authority on infectious diseases, somebody please call Senator Rand Paul
and ask him to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM MURPHY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Should parents have their children
DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT: Vaccines save lives and the best way to prepare is to
protect their children from vaccine preventable diseases?
MURPHY: Dr. Midthun, yes, or no? Yes?
DR. KAREN MIDTHUN: Yes, I have three children they were all vaccinated on
time with all of the recommended vaccines?
MURPHY: Dr. Robinson?
DR. ROBINSON: Absolutely?
MURPHY: Dr. Fauci?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIH: Definitely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dr. Fauci is Dr. Anthony Fauci. He`s the director of National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH. That was him
testifying today in the House, with other leading medical experts about
this newly controversial issue of vaccines that should never be
controversial at all.
Dr. Fauci is our nation`s top expert on infectious diseases and he joins us
tonight for “The Interview”.
Dr. Fauci, thank you so much for taking time to be with us tonight.
FAUCI: Good to be with you.
MADDOW: So, you obviously come at this not from a political perspective
but from a scientific perspective. I have to ask if you are worried about
the scientific and public health consequences of this becoming a
politically controversial issue.
FAUCI: Well, I certainly hope that it doesn`t, Rachel, because – I mean,
this is something that is a scientific public health issue. We have this
outbreak currently. This is not something that we should take lightly.
Measles can be a serious disease, and it`s really unfortunate when you have
a highly contagious, infectious disease, a highly effective vaccine, with
really a very safe vaccine, and yet children are not being vaccinated.
You know, it just does not make any sense. It`s not a trivial disease.
I`ve heard people say, well, measles is a relatively mild disease. You can
have serious complications, middle ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis
and even death.
So, we can completely suppress it, the way we did in this country. By
2000, there were essentially no measles cases in the country. And with
then with children not getting vaccinated, we`re seeing the outbreak that
we`re going through right now.
MADDOW: I think, because of ideological leanings and political constraints
that derive therein, the argument that we are hearing now from some
national leaders, or at least want-to-be national leaders, is that vaccines
are a good thing but they ought to be voluntary, they`re not for everybody,
that each individual parent ought to make their own case and the government
shouldn`t prescribe this.
From a public health perspective, why is it important that these things
shouldn`t be just an individual family`s individual decision?
FAUCI: Well, for two very important reasons. First of all, it`s for the
protection of the child, the individual child. But also, we have a
communal and societal responsibility to protect society.
And when you do vaccines in which certain members of society, such as
babies who are less than 12 months old, children who have underlying
conditions like leukemia, people on chemo therapy was suppressed, they
can`t get vaccinated. So, in our mind as a public health official and an
infectious disease physician, I believe we have a responsibility to society
to protect those children by making sure we don`t have outbreaks. And you
make sure by essentially vaccinating every child that can be vaccinated.
That`s pure simple public health principles.
MADDOW: Dr. Fauci, there`s obviously a segment of the population that
thinks that they shouldn`t get these vaccinations for their kids. I don`t
believe those folks are bad people, by and large. But their theories about
vaccines are, as you say, turning out to be a really bad problem for public
health in our country.
What do you say to those folks? How do you explain it to people who are
driven by fear about these things, even though those fears aren`t
FAUCI: Well, what we try as best as we can is to get them the scientific
and evidence-based information as to why the reason that they may have a
problem with vaccine is not a valid reason. And, you know, one of the most
glaring examples of that, Rachel, was that years ago, a claim that has been
completely discredited that measles vaccine is associated with autism. And
a lot of mothers understandably and fathers were frightened by that. Since
then, it`s been clear that that was fraudulent data that was completely
discredited. Yet, there`s still that lingering feeling, unrealistically
and not based on scientific data.
So, what we try to do is to try to make sure people, when they do make
their individual decisions, they make it on a real solid, scientific data.
And, hopefully, when people do that, it will be patently obvious that they
really should vaccinate their children.
MADDOW: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases, our nation`s leading expert on infectious
diseases, Dr. Fauci, I know your time is valuable. Thank you for being so
clear and for being here tonight.
FAUCI: Good to be with you, Rachel.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`ve been following this breaking news story tonight about a
fatal train crash north of New York City. Total number of fatalities at
this point is six. We`ve got the latest, including some new video from the
scene, right after this.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: I want to update you on this breaking news we`ve been following
tonight about a fatal train crash in New York state. We`ve just gotten
this video, apparently from a passenger onboard that packed commuter train
when it crashed into an SUV near the town of Valhalla, New York, about 30
miles north of New York City.
James Barnett posted this video showing the immediate aftermath of the
crash that killed the driver of the SUV that the train hit, as well as five
passengers on the train. There are also reports of at least 12 injuries,
including apparently some that we`re told are serious.
We`re told tonight that about 400 passengers self evacuated from the train
cars after this devastating crash. Officials have stopped service along
portions of that train line and they`ve also closed a nearby highway, the
Taconic State Parkway.
But, again, this tragic story out of Valhalla, New York, tonight, at least
six deaths and multiple injuries from this crash between a commuter and an
SUV that for some reason was on the tracks.
Stay with MSNBC tonight for the latest. Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD
WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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