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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/16/13

Guests: Bon Borelli, Amby Burfoot

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thank you for joining us this hour. The reason you cannot bring liquids into an airport and then unto an airplane, the reason you have to buy little bottles of shampoo and dump out your water and everything before you go through security is because of this. In the summer of 2006, a group of terrorists with links to al-Qaeda planned to board a bunch of different airplanes at Heathrow in London. All the planes were to be flying from Heathrow to the United States. And the way these guys were going to bomb those planes and make them crash into the Atlantic Ocean was by bringing soda bottles on board those planes that looked like they contained just soda or water, but in fact, they contained concentrated hydrogen peroxide and the other components needed to make hydrogen peroxide-based bombs. The Heathrow guys got caught before they did it, they got stopped. But it is now thanks to them that we have to buy humiliatingly tiny toiletries like this hair goo, right? It turns out it`s not just security in this case. It`s for a reason. Hydrogen peroxide-based bombs, they are something that al Qaeda has apparently trained in. The London bombings of 2005, the 777 bombings, those were al-Qaeda linked terrorists and those were hydrogen peroxide- based bombs on trains and buses in London. Those killed 52 people. Four years later, there was an American copycat. In 2009, a guy tried to buy a bunch of hydrogen peroxide from beauty stores in and around Aurora, Colorado. That peroxide link raised enough eyebrows that it led to the arrest of this guy, Najibullah Zazi. It turns out he was planning a bombing like the London transit bombs, but he was going to do it in New York instead, on the subway. Again, his plan was hydrogen peroxide. Bomb styles have different pedigrees. They`re associated with different groups, taught by specific means and being able to get specific about the type of bomb used both gives investigators something to look for in terms of looking for how and where that bomb was made. But it also gives them an investigatory thread to pull in terms of the bombs authorship, in terms of how the bomber might have learned to make that bomb or at least who the bomber might have learned it from. Sometimes, it works that way. And sometimes, that is the way they stop plots ahead of time. Sometimes, that is the way they find the bombers there after. But we learned today from investigators in Boston that bombs detonated at the finish line at the Boston marathon yesterday afternoon were bombs that had a signature that is the kind that might be much harder to read. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What we`re told by authorities, Andrea, is that they are crudely made. They appear to have been assembled inside a pressure cooker, and inside a pot like this. A pressure cooker is assembled the device. It includes a low power explosive. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, we have a little bit of new information. Actually, just in in the last couple of minutes from NBC News on this specifically. And I want to tell you what NBC has told us. Sources involved in the investigation are telling NBC News that the pressure cooker bombs in Boston were designed and placed to act, quote, "like a homemade claymore." Claymore, of course, is a powerful directional antipersonnel device, so they don`t spray in 360 degrees. They`re directional. So these sources are telling NBC News, these and other sources, telling NBC that the triggering mechanism appears to have included a battery pack and a circuit board, which are elements they say of a sophisticated triggering mechanism. Both of those elements of that triggering mechanism were recovered at the scene. Quote, "It appeared to be built from scratch, but with a sophisticated triggering mechanism. And, frankly, at the end of the day, all bombs are crude devices and it is the way they are triggered that can be sophisticated. They functioned as designed." Pressure cookers are exactly what you are thinking are. They are metal cooking pots that clamp the top down tight with a tight seal, thereby allowing you to cook food faster under pressure than if you were just using heat alone with a normal lid like a normal cooking pot. If it sounds like I am not a person who cooks, you`re right. But that is how pressure cookers work. To make a bomb out of a pressure cooker, you still need a explosively flammable substance of some kind to put inside it, but it is the fact that the pressure cooker can be tightly sealed, that`s important. It means that when you ignite that material inside the cooker, it doesn`t just burn like if it were out in the open, it goes boom. It`s in a tightly sealed container. It is under pressure. So, it explodes. And when it explodes, of course, the metal from the pressure cooker itself becomes shrapnel that can kill or injured people around beyond just the force of blast. It is a simple enough concept for how to make a homemade bomb that the idea of a pressure cooker bomb has been, well it`s been seen by law enforcement. It`s been used by bombers all over the world. Before the coordinated attack in Mumbai in 2008, that attack that lasted three hold days and involved multiple grenade attacks and shootings and a dozen attackers, two years before that Mumbai attack, there was another very horrible attack in Mumbai. Seven coordinated bombs going off within ten minutes of each other on commuters trains during the afternoon rush hour. It was a huge attack. Seven bombs all made out of pressure cookers, 209 people were killed, over 700 people were injured. By the time of that monstrous attack, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had put out this bulletin on the potential terrorist use of pressure cookers. Noting the pressure cooker bombs had been used in plots or in disrupted plots in Nepal and in France and even before the bombings in India and another incident. Department of Homeland Security with that bulletin showed this picture of soldiers in Malaysia with a bunch of confiscated pressure cookers. Here`s something that kind of hard to get your head around. This is a Web site I`m going to show from a Pennsylvania company that makes inert explosives. So, not explosives that are going to explode, but explosives that are otherwise real, and they make them for training purchases. They build products that look like and act like bombs and trigger switches for those things so that law enforcement and the military can train on how to recognize them and detect them and avoid tripping them, to learn how to disarm them. This company specifically sells not to the general public, but to agencies with a right clearance, they specifically sell, look, dummy pressure cooker IEDs to train on, as training devices, because there are so many of them around, it`s the kind of thing that people who work in explosives and ordnance disposal need to know how to deal with. People put explosives in pressure cookers and blow them up not using a fuse or a timer, but a gun shot. People do this in their backyards. You can see it on YouTube. Pressure cooker bombs are the kind of thing that have been around for a long time that people believe they can make relatively easily. Three summers ago, you might remember our coverage of al-Qaeda releasing a magazine that tried to inspire homegrown terror attacks around the world. Their first issue of this English language magazine included an article called, "How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom," which was hilarious on one hand. On the other, it also gave very specific instructions on how to make pipe bombs and also pressure cooker bombs. What we are now told is the type of bomb that blew up in Boston yesterday does not seem to be an al-Qaeda signature bomb. What seems to be important about it is that it`s a bit of a ubiquitous bomb, used all over the world by all different kinds of bombers for a long time now. A bomb that al- Qaeda has made deliberate efforts to try to insure as ubiquitously accessible to anybody, as any other bomb-making technique of any other kind, but it is one that has been around for a long time in a lot of different places. Look, there are a lot of bombings in the world. There wouldn`t need to be companies in Scranton, Pennsylvania, making fake bombs to train on if there weren`t a lot of bombs in the world. But in the United States, bombing attempts do not usually succeed. Not recently at least. We are used to attempted bombings that get thwarted or that fizzled. Since 9/11, for example, the New York City hydrogen peroxide bomb plot in 2009, the Times Square attempted bombing the following year, that was an attempted pressure cooker bomb, by the way. There was a bomb in a backpack packed with fishing weights for shrapnel. That was planted in Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane in 2011. It was discovered before it went off. There was the guy strapped with explosives who stormed the Discovery Channel in the fall of 2010 in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was killed by police. There was the attempted underwear bomber, and the attempted shoe bomber. There have been lots of attempts to bomb American targets in the dozen year since 9/11, but there had been almost no successful bombing attacks, one in which the explosives actually detonated and caused the intended damaged. There was one small homemade bomb that didn`t do all that damage to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin last year. It broke up the window sill. There was a mail bomb sent to the diversity directory for the city of Scottsdale, Arizona in 2004. That one did blew up. It did hurt the man who was the intended target, but other than those, attempts at setting off bombs in the United States since 9/11, there haven`t been in frequent. There have been a lot of tries, but they have almost never been successful. An uncomfortably large number of people are trying, almost nobody pulls it. Why were they able to pull it off in Boston? Does it say something important about the person or persons who bombed the Boston marathon, that they were able to successfully detonate bombs when almost every other plot in the last 12 years has been either dead or has been thwarted ahead of time? Is that lack or is that training and how do we tell the difference? And now that authorities tell us it was a pressure cooker bomb that went off, is that a type of bomb that too ubiquitous, too international, too generic, too widely understood. Too easily mastered to be able to point investigators in a specific direction in this investigation? Joining us now is Don Borelli. He`s a 25-year veteran of the FBI. At one time, he`s the assistant special agent in charge of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force. Mr. Borelli is now chief operating officer of the Soufan Group, a strategic consultancy. Mr. Borelli, thank you very much for being here. DON BORELLI, FORMER FBI AGENT: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: So, I don`t know anything about the subject of bombs. I`m trying to learn it as I go, to be able to report it. Did I say anything in that lead up that struck you? I think. BORELLI: No, I think you were spot on. I mean, the pressure cooker bomb is not a unique phenomenon. We`ve seen it. Like you said. In other investigations, plans to make these bombs are available online. It`s relatively crude, but it`s nonetheless effective. You pointed out the difference between the bombs that we saw for the Najibullah Zazi plot where this person, Najibullah Zazi, went and had specific training in Pakistan, Afghanistan, learned how to make the concentrated hydrogen peroxide into TATP and was going to use that as a main component. That takes training and, you know, a bit of practice, which he did, he practiced making it in Denver, and then ultimately came to New York. That plot was thwarted because of good intelligence. This is a different situation here. These are materials that are readily available. Hardware stores, sporting good stores. The plans are available. One of the things that I think will be interesting you brought is, how was -- what was the charging mechanism? You talk about circuit boards and timers and setting, you know, a directional charge. These are some of the things that add a degree of sophistication to a bomb that`s otherwise crude. Normally, you can take one of these devices, you can set it up, you can get something like an egg timer, a battery and a wire and relatively crude, and set it and walk away, and if you wired it right, it will explode. But depending on what components are found, some advanced circuitry may mean there`s a level of training this person had. I guess the folks at the FBI laboratory that will be analyzing this will be able to know in short order. MADDOW: I wanted to ask you about that actually. What we`ve heard is that the evidence related to the bomb has been taken to the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center. BORELLI: TEDAC. MADDOW: What is it? BORELLI: TEDAC. MADDOW: TEDAC, at the FBI labs in Quantico. What happens there? BORELLI: They will look, they`ll put and try to compare this bomb, the signature of this bomb to other ones that they`ve seen to try to find there are similarities, they will try to get a almost -- bomb makers tend to follow a pattern. When they have something that works, they stay with it. So, they`ll compare it to see if this looks like something similar to other bombs that they`ve seen. They`ll try to do details analysis on the pieces. So, for example, they may find just a shred of a wire. Well, when they look at that wire under a microscope, it`s going to have particular, you know, a set of marks. So that could be an investigative lead, maybe not right now, but down the road. So, for example, let`s say that they run a search warrant on a location and they find a pair of wire cutters. They can take the wire cutters and look and compare and see if these wire cutters cut the wire for this device and now you`re linking a person or a place to a particular device. So, there`s a lot of investigative leads that come out just by looking at the various components of these bombs. MADDOW: Obviously, you`re not directly involved in this investigation in Boston. If you put yourself in the mind set of an investigator who was heading up Joint Terrorism Task Force looking into this, would you have been hoping for a more exotic weapon? Would that have been easier to trace than something that is deliberately ubiquitous the way it is? BORELLI: Well, I mean, a more exotic weapon that was effective would have probably killed more people. So, thankfully, you know, the loss of life and certainly don`t want to minimize a people that were killed, but if it was a bomb made with TATP, higher explosive, more shrapnel, maybe set in a different place where the shrapnel was going higher at head level, we could have seen a lot more deaths and serious injuries. So I think -- MADDOW: Uniqueness of this, though, is not -- this is not a unique, the type of structure. BORELLI: The more kind of plain Jane it is, the more readily available the materials are in the open market. The harder it`s going to be to backtrack, you know, specifically to where was this pressure cooker or pressure cookers purchased. Where was this circuit board obtained? You know, the more plain vanilla it is, it makes that search so much wider. MADDOW: Don Borelli, formerly of the FBI, now chief operation officer of the Soufan Group, it`s really helpful to have you here. Thank you very much. BORELLI: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: I`m going to talk to you again about this if you wouldn`t mind coming back. BORELLI: Sure. MADDOW: All right. In terms of the latest information from Boston tonight, some of the basics of what we know are the same as they were yesterday. But some information has shifted in the past 24 hours. As of now, the confirmed death toll on the blast is tree. We can name two of the three who were killed. They are 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of Medford, Massachusetts. She had been at the finish line yesterday to cheer on a friend who was running. The youngest victim is 8-year-old Martin Richard. He was in the crowd watching the marathon with both parents, his older brother and his younger sister. His mother and sister were both critically injured and are said to be in tough shape tonight. Martin Richard`s father has released a statement, quote, "My dear son, Martin, has died from injury sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met for their thoughts and prayers." The third victim killed has been identified as a Boston University graduate student from China. Now, the student`s name has not been released, pending permission to do so from the family. And we will honor that absolutely. The grad student was one of three friends who have been watching the race near the finish line. Of the three who were standing together, one was killed, one was unharmed and the other was injured and is now in stable condition and Boston Medical Center as of tonight. Of the 176 who were injured overall, 71 of the wounded remain hospitalized tonight at Boston hospitals. Of the 71, 24 are in critical condition as of this hour. Boston Medical Center has 19 patients. The hospital saying the majority of them will require further surgery over the next several days. Brigham and Women`s hospital has 15 patients, five of them critical. Mass General has 12 patients, eight of them critical. Beth Israel has 12 patients, two in critical condition. Boston Children`s has three patients, two in critical condition. And at Tufts, there are 10 patients injured in the blast, thankfully, none with life threatening injuries. At the site of the bombings as of right now, investigators have still closed down a crime scene that measures about one square mile. You can see that mark on your screen here. It`s a roughly triangular square mile, but that`s how much ground they are now pouring over for evidence. The Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the FBI director, Robert Mueller and NSA Director Keith Alexander, interestingly, briefed members of the House and Senate intelligence committees this afternoon. In terms of what Bostonians are doing tonight, all across the city of Boston tonight and in surrounding communities, there have been vigils and public events. The largest of tonight`s vigil is taking place at Boston Common, less than a mile from where the bombs went off yesterday afternoon. Eight-year-old Martin Richard was remembered tonight at a vigil in his local parish church at St. Ann`s in Dorchester. The doors were open for official vigils tonight. At the St. James Church in Somerville, doors are open, the Arlington Church in Boston Proper, St. Paul Church and the North Street Community Church and the Nazarene and Hingham. There are events tonight at Boston University, at Brandeis University. At the Harvard Divinity School across the river in Cambridge. People in Milton tonight gathering for a vigil for the victims as well as a vigil for the marathon itself. The White House announcing today that President Obama will travel to Boston the day after tomorrow to speak at an interfaith service at Boston`s Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The president branding the attack as an act of terrorism, but adding officials don`t know, quote, "whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or if it was the act of a malevolent individual." Finding out who did this may or may not start with that mile wide crime scene that law enforcement is poring over as we speak for clues and evidence. What officials are trying to get from the public, that`s next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AGENT RICHARD DESLAURIERS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: I urge anybody who has any information pertaining to this crime to call 1-800-CALLFBI: This is a tip line that we have set up to ready to receive tips that might come in or leads that might come in. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After the bombing at the Boston marathon yesterday, one of the first things the investigators said to the public was, we need your help. The tip line they set up is, quote, "For anyone who has information, visual images and/or details regarding the explosions along the Boston marathon route and elsewhere." Send us whatever information you have, in other word. Quote, "No piece of information or detail is too small." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GENE MARQUEZ, SPECIAL ATF AGENT: We would like to review any kind of media that you have out there. That might give us additional investigative leads. DESLAURIERS: Importantly, the person who did this is someone`s friend, neighbor, coworker or relative. We`re asking anyone who may have heard someone speak about the marathon or the date of April 15th in any way that indicated that he or she may target the event to call us. We ask that business review and preserve a video surveillance video and other business records in their original form. Already, the FBI has received more than 2,000 tips as of noon today, many of which have already been reviewed, analyzed and vetted. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There were thousands of pictures taken yesterday before, during and after the bombing. Investigators essentially saying they want all of it. Do piece of information or detail is too small, do not self-sensor, do not hold back. Send in everything. In addition to calling 1-800-CALLFBI, people can also call any local Boston police precinct and report information anonymously. They can also reach the police department on Facebook or on Twitter. Authorities keep stressing no piece of information is -- no piece of information, no detail is too small. When you think about it, that means they are not trying to avoid being overwhelmed by a flood of information. They are in fact asking for a flood of information and they are, in fact, getting a flood of information. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: The response has been amazing. They have and pardon me for using a geeky computer term, three terabytes of video and still. I`m not sure I know how to translate into how many minutes of video or how many individual still pictures that would be. But needless to say, it`s a huge amount of material and they say they`re going to look at all of it. They`re asking people who are living the airport, people who were, who flew into the race. They have people out of the airport asking them if they have any picture that they want to share. So they ask repeatedly during this morning`s news conference for pictures and stills. So, obviously, they believe that`s a very, very important source of evidence for them and they are pushing hard to get pictures. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: By asking people for everything, by asking for people to send in everything that might conceivably be related to the bombings, authorities are saying implicitly that they`re not worried about being swamped or overwhelmed, that they have the ability to mind this data and will make something useful of it that will be worth more than the time they spend sifting through it all. Are they right? Joining us now is Michael Leiter. He`s an MSNBC and NBC national security analyst. He`s former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, which is a really big deal. Michael Leiter, thank you for being here. MICHAEL LEITER, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: I feel like asking for all the information in the world is asking for so much information that you can`t conceivably get anything that might be useful. Why are they so confident they can data mine this stuff? LEITER: Well, they`re not going to data mine it perfectly, I`ll tell you that right now. If you look at what happened in London around July 7, 2005 when they had bombings, there were hours and hours of videotape. It took the British months to get through that. Now, the FBI and U.S. intelligence community is better at that. Technology is advanced. But it`s going to take them a while to get through this. They`re going the start as close as possible to the event, to the explosions and move out from there. So, my nat data first and then slowly but surely, they`ll get through the rest of those photos, the rest of that video. And over time, but it will be weeks. They will have a better sense of what might be connected to other factors, like the bags that they think carried the bombs. Things like that otherwise they would miss. So I think it`s great, get this now, because it`s difficult to be preserved otherwise. MADDOW: Is this -- is that an approach that has evolved over the past 12 years? Is that not the way they would have approached this before 9/11? Before we had this huge investment in intelligence since then? LEITER: I think two things have really changed. First, we simply didn`t have access to all this video and photo technology that is ubiquitous today. There are far more official video cameras out there, in hotels and restaurants and people are walking around with iPhones. Everybody is videoing this event. Is there a loved one crosses the finish line? The second is a much greater ability to deal with these massive amounts of data and the technology there has absolutely improved and the U.S. government and the intelligence community has been on the forefront of adopting that technology. MADDOW: Is there a risk they`re asking for too much? You think about the sort of assessments we made in what went wrong in missing 9/11, not knowing it was going to happen, the warnings that happened ahead of there. They got lost in the haystacks. Is there still a risk? LEITER: There`s a risk they`re going to get lost with too much, but -- MADDOW: It`s outweighed by that. LEITER: It is, because otherwise, they`ll never have it. You know, restaurants, hotels, routinely delete these recordings after a couple of days or even a week. So, it got to get it now, preserve it and eventually, they`ll get to it. MADDOW: One though that we just spoke about with Don Borelli, we just got new news tonight through NBC, sources telling NBC that the triggering mechanism on the devices, while the devices themselves may not have been the world`s most sophisticated bombs, the triggering devices involved, circuit boards may have otherwise been a little more sophisticated than we`ve previously been led to believe. Is that important to the investigation? LEITER: I think it`s mostly because circuit boards could be more easily traceable than other components of the explosive device, you know, ball bearings, you might be able to trace them, but they`re pretty common. Backpacks, maybe similarly so, but circuit boards generally have some signatures that you can track back to a specific item where it was made and potentially where it was purchased. So, in that sense, I think it`s probably -- MADDOW: It doesn`t necessarily indicate something specific about the bomber, any level of training, anything like that, but it could help you find it. LEITER: No, exactly. And I would just say, the point of sophistication -- MADDOW: Yes? LEITER: The most sophisticated device is one that works and that is where these guys or this person succeeded. MADDOW: Michael Leiter, I am supposed to good night you right now, but I don`t want to. I have one more question to ask about a thing that I was going to report without here. Will you stay and I`ll pay you or something? LEITER: I think you do any way. MADDOW: Oh, good. Hold one moment. Corporate masters. We have to pay them a little bit more. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is a picture of castor beans. From castor beans comes castor oil, which has many uses including in the polyurethane industry and, if you must know, as a laxative. When you mash castor beand to get castor isle oil, there are a bunch of different byproducts, including a deadly poison ricin. If you can acquire castor beans, in other words, you can acquire one component of one of the most famous do it yourself poisons. Ricin is not easy to make, but it is theoretically at least makeable with things that are not illegal to obtain in their initial state. With the country glued to the investigation of the relatively low-tech explosives that wrought disaster at the Boston Marathon yesterday, late this afternoon, news broke that a letter addressed and sent to the Washignton, D.C. office of Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker was screened in an off site mail facility before it reached the U.S. Capitol and the letter tested positive for ricin. It is now being tested by the FBI to make sure it was not a false positive. None of the postal workers were exposed to the poison. Joining us once again, because I made him stay, is Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Michael, do you have any perspective for us on what a test for ricin is and whether or not this is something to worry about? LEITER: So there are three basic tests. There`s the initial screening, that proved positive. There`s a field test, that proved positice, and there`s a final test, which is a lab test and that takes about 24 hours. What I would stress is that false positives in those first two are relativity common. It doesn`t mean that we don`t have to be concerned about this, it doesn`t mean that the final test might not be positive, but in my time as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, we saw fairly routinely false positives in the field test and things prove not to be ricin in the end. MADDOW: And again, we have no idea what the lab test is going to say, but is ricin one of the things that more frequently gets false positives than other things that we hear about? LEITER: It`s fairly common. We`ve seen more ricin than we do things like anthrax, but basically powder in letters is a very common occurrence. People don`t hear about it much, but obviously after an event like this, it gets a lot of publicity. MADDOW: Michael Leiter, MSNBC and NBC national security analyst, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. I owe you. Thank you for staying. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you are not a person who runs marathons, one of the jarring things about the official program for the Boston Marathon this year is that it is mostly full of ads for other marathons. So, like the Kansas City Marathon, which is about running a marathon and also eating barbecue. The Bermuda Marathon which can be run in January because Bermuda has very nice weather. Six different half marathons in six different American wine country regions. There is a ladies only half marathon at Niagara Falls where they put right in the ad that the porta-potties are really nice, because since there`s no men in this race, they can put flowers in the urinals. It is easy to forget if you`re not a runner, that marathon running is a whole big culture and industry and if you are going to run something like the Boston Marathon, it is likely the case you have been training your whole long life just to be able to do this on race once. You are quite likely someone who is going to do it again. Some people do run 26.2 once in their whole life, but a lot of people run 16.2 miles as often as they can. So often they have a preference on the porta-potties. In the days immediately after 9/11, New York City stepped up security in a really visible way. There were soldiers in the train stations and airports carrying military rifles. You could not miss the very visible response. They stopped playing baseball everywhere in America after 9/11. When the games resumed later that month, you had to go through new security checks to get into the stadiums and at first, it took a long time to get everybody searched and into their seats because the extra checking was new and we are not yet good at it, but at least a baseball stadium is in a contained place. Even in those scary days, a stadium seemed like a place you could make secure if you we went to enough trouble. New York City even hosted a World Series after 9/11 that year. But something like this, something like a marathon route. It`s 26 miles long. This is not nearly so easily locked down and secured. These pictures are of the New York City marathon which happens every year in November. In Chicago and Fargo and Bermuda and Niagara Falls where ever, marathons everywhere tend to be profoundly open, public events. Marathon crowds crowd in close. They slap runners high-fives. They offer the runners water and orange slices. In 2001, New York City just had a few, short, crazy weeks after the terrorist attacks to figure out whether or not they were going to hold this kind of race. The New York City Marathon, across 26 very open miles, right after 9/11. In 2001, New York decided not to cancel. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As maybe people across the country don`t know, but Sunday is the New York City Marathon, 30,000 runners, with over 100,000 spectators. Can an event of that size and magnitude be adequately protected, Mr. Mayor? MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK CITY: Darn right it can be, just the way the three World Series games were. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us what kind of security you have in place? GIULIANI: A lot. We never tell the kind of security we have in place. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What kind of security for the marathon? A lot and no, whether he not you what it is. Heading into the 2001 marathon in New York City, again right after 9/11, runners were warned not to take the orange slices or the water from strangers along the route as a security precaution. New York City held its breath and the runners shoved off from Staten Island, out through the boroughs, and then into Central Park. The race came off great. It came off safely. We do not yet know why the Boston Marathon was attacked yesterday, killing three people, injuring more than 170 people. It could have simply been chosen as a site where it could be guaranteed that there would be a lot of people. It could have been chosen as a symbol of something or other. It was Patriots Day in Massachusetts. It was tax day for the county. This week has any number of other anniversaries that might be meaningful to somebody who wants to kill people for some reason. It could have been an attack on Boston specifically. It could have been an attack on America generally, and this is just where it happened to hit. But in the immediate sense, what happened yesterday was an attack on the highest profile moment of the highest profile event of a relatively low- profile unique culture, which is the marathoners, the endurers, the whip- thin, test of limits, addictive contenders doing something that`s not much like anything else in our American culture. In our instant rewards world, marathoners are after a gratification not just delayed, it is a form of gratification that most of us have a hard time believing can conceivably be gratifying. But that difference fosters fellowship among marathon runners and that has fostered culture and that has fostered now, even a whole economy that you wouldn`t know existed unless you went looking. This is a runner named Amby Burfoot. He won the Boston Marathon in 1968. Ambi Burrfoot is still running Boston Marathons. He was less than a mile from the finish yesterday when the explosions hit there. It is almost impossible to believe that this attack targeted the marathon, as the marathon specifically. ut even if the marathon was hit as a symbol of something else, it was hit, and hit directly, in a way that mean the world to a whole community of people who run. Amby Burfoot wrote today in "Runners World," "This wasn`t just an attack against the Boston Marathon. It was an attack against the American public and our democratic use of the streets. We have used our public roadways for annual parades, protest marches, presidential inaugurations, marathons, and all other manner of events. The roads belong to us and their use represents an important part of our free and Democratic tradition. I trust and believe that will not change in the future. Not in Boston, not at the Boston Marathon, and not in other important public events. Yes, we must be ever-vigilant. We cannot cover our eyes and ears and pretend violent acts don`t threaten our great institutions. But," he says, "But our institutions did not become great by following a path of timidity and cowardice. We can only hope that when pummeled (ph) as the Boston Marathon was today, it will rise again stronger than ever." Joining us now is Amby Burfoot who celebrated his 45th anniversary of winning the Boston Marathon yesterday. He was three quarters of a mile from the finish line yesterday when his wife called him with the news of the bombing. Amby Burfoot is editor at large of "Runner`s World" magazine. Mr. Burfoot, it`s very good to have you here tonight. Thank you so much for your time. AMBY BURFOOT, EDITOR AT LARGE, "RUNNER`S WORLD": Thank you very much, Rachel. MADDOW: Is that your finisher`s medal that you`re wearing from the marathon? BURFOOT: This is my finisher`s medal. Even though I did not finish the marathon, I was stopped at three quarters of a mile from the finish yesterday. We were able to finally pick up our bags and our medals today. And I`m wearing it proudly, and I wanted to tell you and everyone that I`m not wearing it for myself, but really to honor those people who we lost yesterday and who were so injured yesterday. They were in that particular location for only one reason. Because they were supporting the marathon and us runners and that makes them part of our family of runners and we want to remember and honor them. With this medal, with all of our medals and our thoughts and prayers. MADDOW: When I saw you writing today, in "Runner`s World," writing that the attack yesterday was an attack against the Democratic use of the streets, wanted to ask what that means to you as a runner and what that means to all of us more broadly as we were thinking about how to respond to these attacks and not be terrorized by them. BURFOOT: Well, I was writing that not primarily as a runner because I`ve been running through the streets of America for 50 years. And as you do that, you begin to generalize for a larger picture and I began to think, you know, these races, they`re not sporting events like the Red Sox and Patriots. They`re more like a July 4th parade or a civil rights march or street theatre. I feel that Americans have the right to enjoy and use and discourse in our great streets and great squares. And Times Square, the Boston Common just in my backyard here, these are important places for us to be able to go to safely. MADDOW: As a marathoner, somebody who`s been so involved in what seems at least from the outside like marathon culture, not even sure if that`s the way you think about it. I top out at two miles myseld, then I fall down. As a marathoner, as somebody who`s been so involved in running for so many decades, when you think ahead about the future here, do you imagine these events looking different in the future as we try to balance safety and freedom, as we try to balance safety and the kind of joy these events are associated with for you? BURFOOT: Well, certainly, we`re thinking about that now and in the fall, we had Hurricane Sandy canceling the New York City Marathon at the last moment. So we had New York and Boston back to back. It is weighing heavily on our minds now. There are going to be people, let`s face it, great runners, who are going to decide not the spend 3 or $4,000 to fly across the country to a big urban marathon where they might feel threatened. But I`ve talked to a lot of runners in the last 24 hours and I would say 99 percent of them, including myself, are more resolved to come back to Boston to run it next year than we ever have been before because we want to reclaim the city and the streets and we also want to thank the city and its supporters and rooters (ph) who have been so much in our background and supporting us through the years in this wonderful event. MADDOW: Amby Burfoot, editor at large of "Runner`s World" magazine, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, and as close as you could get in his case to being a finisher this year. Mr. Burfoot, thank you for being with us tonight. I really appreciate it and what you wrote today for "Runner`s World," I think reached a lot of people who wouldn`t otherwise be thinking about reading "Runner`s World." But I think what you wrote today meant a lot. BURFOOT: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. While the tragedy in Boston yesterday has dominated today`s news, some very important politics are underway in Washington and it turns out tomorrow is going to be a big D deal, capital D deal, bid deal, tomorrow in Washington. We`ve got that next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: As the country`s attention stays focused on the after math of the bombings in Boston, in Washington what it worth paying attention to right now is the background checks for gun sales vote. Right now, a clear majority of the United States Senate supports the Manchin/Toomey amendment. Fifty-two senators on record for it, 40 senators are on record against it. That should be great news for people who want expanded background checks to be part of the nation`s response, right? After Newtown, right? It`s got clear majority support to expand background checks. Except the Republicans are filibustering it so majority won`t matter. Those 40 senators who say they are voting "no" are not committed to voting against the background check amendment on its merits. They are voting against allowing there to be a vote on the background check on the amendment. They are voting to filibuster. A majority is in favor, so they are voting to use a filibuster to block a majority rules up or down vote. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake waited until right in the middle of the most intense coverage of the Boston bombings last night, he waited until just before 9PM eastern last night to announce, quietly, silently, in fact, on his Facebook page that he will vote against background checks. Eight in 10 of Jeff Flake`s constituents in Arizona support background checks. But he said last night, or rather wrote to his Facebook page quietly last night, that he`s going to vote "no." In fact, he`s voting to block there from even being a vote. He`s voting to filibuster, quietly. That was last night around 9:00 p.m. Then today, hey look, Arizona Senator, Jeff Flake showing up to speak at a ceremony dedicating a room in the United States Capitol to Gabriel Zimmerman. Gabe Zimmerman was an aid to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. He was one of the six people killed in the shooting at that Congress on your Corner event in January 2011 in Tucson, where Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was also shot. Gabe Zimmerman was killed trying to protect Gabby Giffords. Today, a day after he said he will vote against even allowing a vote on expanded background checks, Senator Flake showed up, and spoke alongside Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly at that event. These two had spent the day support for the background check amendment on Capitol Hill. Jeff Flake says he will vote it -- block it, excuse me, from even getting voted on, thus far at least. The Republican filibuster is due for its test tomorrow afternoon. Watch this space (ph). (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We have new pictures and new details this hour about the devices that were detonated in yesterday`s attack at the Boston Marathon. We did not have these at the top of the hour, but we have them now. This is what is left from one of the bombs that investigators recovered from the crime scene at the Boston Marathon. According to a joint FBI/ Homeland Security document, they are saying definitively that one of the bombs, one of the devices, consisted of a pressure cooker that was concealed in a backpack. Here is a picture of what may be the backpack. But investigators are now saying that while the second device was also housed in a metal container, and I`m going to quote here, "currently there is insufficient evidence to determine if it was also a pressure cooker. The fusing system and method of initiation for the two devices are unknown at this time." This also appears unclear if what you are looking at in this picture, that we just showed you, is the pressure cooker device as it seems, or maybe this is the we`re not quite sure it was a pressure cooker device, but this is part of the debris that they are showing us in terms of what is left over from the bombs. NBC has also learned in the last hour, that the two Boston Marathon bombs appear to have each contained tiny nails. Nails that are described as smaller than the ones you might use to hang a picture, they`re more like brads (ph) or fine nails according to one of the people who`s assigned to the case. We`re also told that the devices themselves appear to have been delivered to the scene in two bags. Earlier tonight, Sources involved in the investigation told NBC that the triggering mechanism on one bomb appears to have included a battery pack and a circuit board. Elements that have been recovered at the scene. That`s important. A sophisticated triggering mechanism, at least relatively sophisticated mechanism, NBC`s Michael Leiter telling us earlier this hour, may be of less importance in narrowing down a suspect in terms of level of expertise, or level of training, but it may be more important in terms giving investigators physical clues to trace to their source to find out how the bomb was assembled and where the pieces came from that allowed the bomber to put it together. Keep it here at MSNBC. Obviously the story is still developing tonight. We will keep you posted as that happens. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Lawrence is reporting from Boston tonight. Stay with us. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END