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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/29/15

Guests: Shayana Kadidal

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. Thanks, Chris. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The word "Madagascar" to Americans is almost a synonym for far away, for far away and remote and hard to get to. Madagascar is a big country, a big island, the fourth largest island in the world. But especially from our perspective, but really from anywhere, it is hard to get there. It is really far out into the ocean. You have to go 250 miles off the southeast coast of Africa in order to get to Madagascar. Madagascar is just one of those places on earth that is remote. It`s far out there. But once you are at Madagascar, you have to go another 600 miles out into the ocean. Out into the Indian Ocean before you get to a place called Reunion Island. La Reunion. They speak French there. I won`t try to speak with a French accent, but you can call it Reunion Island. By all accounts, Reunion Island is spectacularly beautiful. Some of the most spectacular and dramatic scenery on earth, known particularly for its water falls and its mountain jungle scenery. It`s just gorgeous. But Reunion Island is alone out there in the sea, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It is way out there on its own. And today, on Reunion Island, they were doing a beach clean-up of some size on the island, just cleaning up debris and trash on one of the nice beaches. And as part of that beach clean-up, they think they found part of the wing of a large airliner washed ashore, and Reunion Island is more than 4,000 miles away from the last location of the plane you are thinking about right now. It is more than 4,000 miles away from the last known location of the missing 777 airliner that went down somewhere almost a year and a half ago without a trace that Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people on board, that was more than 4,000 miles away from the site where this wing washed up today. But if this debris is from that specific plane, this will be the first of any kind as to what happened to the most mysterious air crash of our time. This piece that they found, they say it`s about nine or ten feet long. Officials say it appears to have been in the water for a long time them say it is encrusted with sea shells. But now, they need to final out what it is. It`s quite obviously, from a layman`s eye. It`s not from a large plane. If it does turn out to be a part from a Boeing 777, it seems very likely that it will prove to then be from Malaysia Air Flight 370. There just aren`t other lost aircraft of that kind, of that size other than the one that disappeared on March 8 last year. The plane disappeared about an hour artist took off from Kuala Lumpur on its way north to Beijing. Electronic transmissions from that Malaysia air flight showed it left the route it was expected to take, and instead, for some reason it headed south over the Indian Ocean. There is no explanation of why that happened. But after that turn, Flight 370 disappeared. Transmissions from the flight indicated the U-turn had been programmed into the onboard computer, 12 minutes before the pilots called in good night to the air traffic controllers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS: That would further indicate the U-turn was planned and executed in the cockpit before the controllers lost contact. That means the U-turn was premeditated. Programmed before it went down and executed only after the last radio call and after the transponders went dead. If the pilot entered that turn, why? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Why? That was a "Nightly News" report by Tom Costello from last year. That was ten days after Flight 370 disappeared. With so many people on board, with no satisfaction explanation for what happened or why, everybody has figured all along from the moment it was first lost, everybody has figured that the wreckage of the plane would explain it. That when we found the wreckage of the plane, that would be our best hope. Our only hope of understanding what happened here. A lot of countries join in the hunt for the wreckage, including the U.S. They searched for flight 370 with planes and shipments. They searched for it with special robotic submersibles that are capable of combing the sea beds for any signs of that lost plane. Because of the electronic signals that continued after the pilot said good night, because of what the track of the plane appeared to be from those signals, the search effort has focused here. You just see on the screen. It`s focused on this big vast stretches of very, very deep water off the coast of Australia. They`ve been dragging six-mile long cables, equipped with sonar sensors through 13,000 foot deep uncharted swaths of ocean, just this incredibly difficult search and it has gone on now for a year and five months. And they haven`t found it. They haven`t found it. They haven`t found any of it all this time. The lack of any physical evidence from that time has been a particularly cruel human misery for the families of the passengers. I mean, in the early days of the search, they had on contend with contradictory reports from Malaysian authorities about what exactly the plane did and which turns it made and when and whether the pilot and the co-pilot were being investigated. And the families waited through early reports of fuel slicks, and reports of debris that turned out to have nothing to do with that lost Boeing 777. At one point, all the excitement turned out to be a bunch of logs that had been lashed together. Another time what they found was just the lid of a large box. And so, with that having happened over the course of this last year -- almost year and a half since something went down, there is a real sensitivity about this new find. All right. There`s real sense activity about this being another red herring, right? Because the people who have the most emotional stake in this cannot possibly stand another piece of false hope. But with that said, this does seem different tonight, because authorities believe they may have found at least part of a very large plane. Again, this is not near Australia, which is where they have been focusing their efforts. This is across the Indian Ocean at Reunion Island off the coast of Madagascar. It`s more than 4,000 miles from the last known Flight 370. Sources tonight tell NBC News that Boeing investigators have looked at pictures of the debris on Reunion Island and they say they believe that debris is from a Boeing 777. There is only one Boeing 777 missing in the world. And it is that one. That Malaysia Airlines flight that took off in March from Kuala Lumpur and never reached Beijing. Nobody is saying for certain that this is from Flight 370. But if this first clue of any kind in more than a year holds up, then the mystery of Flight 370, one of the greatest air mysteries of all time, if this holds up, then that mystery finally has begun slightly to unfold. Joining us now is Tom Costello, veteran aviation correspondent for NBC News. Tom, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for being with us tonight. COSTELLO: Sure. My pleasure. MADDOW: Can you -- first of all, let me know if I said anything that doesn`t comport with what we know now. And can you give us an update on the latest of what we know? COSTELLO: No, you`re absolutely right. Sources are telling me that Boeing investigators have looked at the photos. They believe it is a piece of a wing, perhaps a flap. They think it is a flaperon from a Boeing 777. And as you mentioned, there is only one Boeing 777 that`s missing right now, that is MH370, missing for the better part of 15 months. This is a huge -- a huge break. Investigators have been pouring over those photographs. And I`ll tell you, throughout the day, I was talking to many aviation experts who did not believe that this came from a 777. I talked to people within the government. The U.S. government who did not believe it came from a 777. They thought it likely came from an Airbus A- 310 which crashed about a thousand miles away from La Reunion Island in 2009. However, when investigators from Boeing looked closely at those photographs, they said no, we`re pretty confident, it`s a piece to a Boeing 777. So, they are now tonight -- you know, our sources are saying that they`re feeling more confident that it is unfortunately a Boeing 777 piece. And as you said, there is only one 777 missing. MADDOW: Tom, forgive my ignorance on this. But once investigators and experts are able to access not just photos and video footage of this piece of this debris on this beach in this faraway island, once they`re able to actually see it, will they be able to definitively able to tell what kind of plane it is from? Are there distinctive things about a piece of a plane this large that will definitely identify it in terms of what kind of plane it came from? COSTELLO: I got to say I think they`re about 98 percent there right now. MADDOW: Wow. COSTELLO: But what they really want to do before they absolutely sign on the dotted line, they want to see the serial number that`s embedded on that particular piece and they want to make absolutely sure. To be honest with you, they may have already done that. That may be why they`re feeling so confident tonight that this is likely from a Boeing 777. The French accident investigation board will have people on the ground there on this island very quickly. They`re going to be coordinating with the Australians and also with the Malaysians. I can tell you that tonight, just before I came on the air, the Australian command center, which has been in charge of the search for Malaysia 370, said that the fact this debris showed up where did it, would support the thesis that the plane went down in that primary search zone off the coast Australia. Why, you say? Because of the currents in the Indian Ocean. They do a counter clockwise movement. If could I draw a circle right there, right in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I would do that, and you would see counter clockwise, that`s what the currents do. And so, they believe it`s entirely possible that months, even more than a year later, it picked up debris and then dropped it over there at La Reunion Island. And what is staggering is the fact that they found this piece of debris just as you mentioned, covered in sea shells. So, part of their challenge now is to go back doing mathematical equations to try to determine exact whatever exactly have the ocean currents been like over the past 14 months and also look at sea life on that piece and determine, is there any telltale signs of where that sea life originated. That`s a big challenge. MADDOW: Wow. I mean, obviously, this is the first concrete clue they`ve got that the idea that they could essentially reverse engineer where it came from by figuring the currents and what`s one it, there`s a lot still ahead to this. But potentially, it did break through. COSTELLO: Yes. MADDOW: Tom Costello, NBC News aviation correspondent, Tom, thank you very much. COSTELLO: You bet. MADDOW: Appreciate it. It is -- this is one of those stories that it`s easy to mock in terms of how much attention it has received since that initial plane went down. And you can, it is almost turned into a meme I think because of that, because it got so much attention and then the news attention itself got attention for that. But ultimately, this is almost 300 people losing their lives. The question of motivation or of accidental cause is absolutely unanswered. There are not investigative threads that have been pulled that have led to anything on this. This is a legitimate mystery and a huge, huge human tragedy and this looks like the first step toward finally figuring it out, almost a year and a half later. Just a stunning story. We`ve got much more ahead. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve got lots of news on tonight`s show, including one presidential candidate, apparently turning out 100,000 people tonight -- 100,000? Not 100 people. Not a thousand people, 100,000 people. Not a typo. That story is ahead. Plus, a rare protest that can be described without much hyperbole as spectacular, jaw dropping and not a little bit confusing. Stay with us. Both those stories ahead tonight. Big show. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, there was a poll at the start of the summer of New Jersey residents asking them if they believe their governor, Chris Christie, would make a good president. In that poll, New Jersey voters by a huge margin said that Chris Christie would not make a good president, more than 30 points. Now, this was at the beginning of the summer. This was kind of a long time ago now. But this still stands as one of the single greatest moments that has happened on tape in the whole presidential campaign so far. This was in response to that poll and it was so freaking spectacular. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The polls in New Jersey right now say by a 65 percent to 25 percent margin, the New Jersey voters say that you would not be a good president. Now, they know you the best. Why shouldn`t we trust them? GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: They want me to stay. A lot of those people that 65 percent want me to say. And I`ve heard that from lots of people at town hall meetings. Don`t leave to run for president because we want you to say. KELLY: But they say you would not make a good president. CHRISTIE: Well, no. I think people hear the question they want to hear. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Well, no, I -- the question was, would Chris Christie be a bad president? People in New Jersey said yes. Yes, Chris Christie would be a bad president. It was very, very straightforward. I think people didn`t - - they wanted me to -- amazing. That happened at the very beginning of the summer. Chris Christie telling FOX News, it was all just a misunderstanding. People actually wanted him to stay. That turns out to be something that can be checked, that assertion by him today. Monmouth -- assertion by him in that interview. Monmouth University in New Jersey decided to check what Chris Christie said in that interview. They followed a few weeks later in the way that was specifically designed to clarify whether or not Chris Christie was right when he said that people in New Jersey saying he would make a bad president, they were only saying that because they like him so much and they wanted him to stay. They decided to check that. Monmouth went back and polled on the baseline question first. They asked New Jersey residents, do you think Chris Christie would or would not make a good president? And again, a huge majority of New Jersey residents, I mean, a really huge majority, this time by more than a 40-point margin, people in New Jersey said Chris Christie would not make a good president. But then, crucially, they asked the follow-up. They asked everybody who said, Chris Christie would not make a good president, they then asked them this follow-up question. Quote, "Do you say that because you would rather have Chris Christie stay in New Jersey or because you really think he would make a bad president?" Turns out, they really did mean it. It was not just that they wanted him to stay. They really, really, really think that Chris Christie would make a bad president, for sure. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: They want me to stay. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Oh, they do not want you to stay. We checked actually. They don`t want you to stay. That was the Monmouth University poll, which checked that question for Chris Christie earlier this summer. It was very funny. Well, now, Monmouth University is polling on Chris Christie and his presidential chances in New Hampshire which he has identified as key to his presidential campaign. Chris Christie, it turns out, finds the fact that Monmouth University is polling in New Hampshire, he finds that very annoying. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: I`ve never paid attention to the Monmouth Poll in New Jersey. I`ve never -- and, by the way, it`s the Monmouth University poll. Anybody really care? You think nationally people are on the edge of their seat waiting for the Monmouth University poll to come out? Please stop. And it is funded by a former liberal owner of the Asbury Park Press. So, you know, I mean, there are polls and there are polls, guys. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Chris Christie yesterday complaining about that stupid poll. Today, he was still mad about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Governor, you have said that Donald Trump hurts the credibility of the party. He was talking about entitlement. You say he hurts the credibility of the party. But, right now, you look at the polls -- for instance, the Monmouth College poll from New Jersey looking at New Hampshire. He is at 24 percent and, currently, you`re at 4 percent. CHRISTIE: Yes, so what does that mean exactly? You know, what has got to do with what he`s talking about? I mean, I don`t -- you know, I don`t understand. That I know there are lots of folks who are obsessed with polls right now. But that has nothing to do with the credibility of the things he said. I was asked a direct question at a town hall and I gave a direct answer. That`s what I do. No one asked about polls except for you guys. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nobody asked, that poll -- nobody cares. It`s -- Chris Christie really hates the Monmouth University poll. And that poll does show him doing really terribly right now in New Hampshire. He`s polling at eighth place in New Hampshire in the latest Monmouth University poll. He`s got 4 percent support. Honestly, he is not doing much worse in that particular poll in New Hampshire than he`s going in all the other New Hampshire polls. They`ve all got him around 4 percent or 5 percent pretty consistently. In all of the New Hampshire polls that are coming out right now, 4, 6, 5, 5, that`s the most recent for New Hampshire polls. Those numbers are terrible for somebody who is staking their whole presidential campaign on their appeal in New Hampshire. But, you know, in last Monmouth University poll in New Hampshire, Chris Christie isn`t really the story there. He is basically a footnote. The big story in that poll is obviously Donald Trump, who is not only winning New Hampshire in that poll, but look at the margin he is winning by. He`s winning by a double digit margin. There is only one other person even in double digits. And Donald Trump is double digits ahead of him. That poll put Donald Trump at 24 percent and Jeb Bush in second place at 12 percent. Donald Trump doubling the guy in second place, that is a huge lead. Actually because it is Donald Trump it is a huge lead. It`s very classy, beautiful. Very, very beautiful. And it`s not just in New Hampshire. Late tonight, the Reuters/Ipsos poll came out showing Donald Trump with a lead that big. Not just New Hampshire but nationwide now. It`s actually even slightly bigger lead nationwide. The Reuters/Ipsos poll tonight has Donald Trump at 25 percent nationwide. And Jeb Bush in second place with 12 percent. So Donald Trump nationally, more than doubling the second place figure in this new nationwide poll. Now, I should tell you that Reuters/Ipsos poll is an online poll. It is not generally considered to be as good as a telephone poll. All these polls have different methodologies and different sample sizes now, but it feels worth to it report all of them as they come out because nobody knows which polls are going to be included in the calculations by FOX News Channel when FOX News Channel averages five recent national polls in order to decide which 10 candidates they`re going to allow into the Republican debate next week. So, I mean, maybe they`ll consider this new Reuters poll. Maybe they won`t. I don`t know. They`re not saying. FOX will not say how they`ll cut people in and out of their debate. We`re just supposed to accept that they`re going to do it somehow and the candidates are supposed to accept it when FOX pronounces who is allowed to debate for the Republican presidential nomination and who is not. We keep trying to guess what FOX might do. Our best estimation of what FOX might decide is what we call our "who`s allowed to compete cable news derive random number generator". When we plug in the polls which FOX may or may not use to determine eligibility for the debate, it looks to me like there are basically eight places on the debate stage that are fairly safe right now. So, that means the candidates who can be pretty well assured they can get a spot in the first Republican debate include Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz. Those eight seats look pretty safe, depending on how FOX decides. But that leaves the whole rest of the field fighting it out for the last two places on stage. And up until today, this ridiculous FOX News ten candidate cut-off had meant that there were eight candidates battling it out for the last two seats on stage. Well, as of today, it will be nine candidates battling it out for those last two seats on stage, because today, the Republican candidate number 17 has filed his paper work the FCC. It`s my friend, Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia. He also ran for president in 2008. Jim Gilmore, full disclosure, I only call my friend on TV because his campaign sometimes answers the phone when we call them. That qualifies as my friend in this day and age. Jim Gilmore today filed his payments to become the 17th Republican candidate in the race. No word from FOX yet on whether or not they`ll let Jim Gilmore, presumably he`s not going to make the top ten, right? But is FOX going to let him into the second tier event, their also-ran kids table event that they`re doing before the real debate? I don`t know. I mean, if they don`t include him, there will be no justification for that. But who knows if they`ll let him in? The rules from FOX News, they may not be arbitrary. They may be very firm rules. But as far as we can tell, they`re secret and nobody knows who FOX News will let in and who FOX News is not going to let in -- either for the main debate or for both events, the kids table and the debate. And that is really how the Republican Party is choosing its presidential nominee this year. It is just astonishing. But did you hear what happened on the Democratic side tonight? Did you hear about that? It`s so good. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What happened is in the middle of everything, it wasn`t breast feed. It was breast pump. She wanted to pump in front of me during a deposition. DANA BASH, CNN: The way she described it was that she wanted to take a break so she could take the pump out. TRUMP: Not true. If you ask my lawyer who was there, he`ll say I`ve never seen anything like it. She wanted to breast pump in front of me. And I may have said that`s disgusting. I may have said something else. I thought it was terrible. She`s a horrible person, knows nothing about it. I see she is now great expert on Donald Trump. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m sorry. I don`t mean to interrupt your news feed of Donald Trump explaining how terrible and disgusting he finds breast feeding. Sorry. But if that is not what you`re interested in from a potential president of the United States, if that`s not what you`re interested in terms of how one of our major political parties is running its primary, well, I do -- I hate to interrupt. But I do have some very different news for you from the Democratic side of the presidential campaign. I`ve got two pieces of news on that. One small and one big. First is the news that Hillary Clinton announce that had she is going to make a speech Friday morning in Florida. This is her first big public appearance in Florida since the campaign started. But here`s the interesting part of it. In that speech, she is going to call on Congress to lift the trade embargo on Cuba. And she is giving that speech in Florida and, of course, lifting the trade embargo on Florida is a super controversial issue in Florida specifically. So, that is going to get a big burst of attention to Hillary Clinton, a big burst of controversial attention. It will be interesting to see how that is received and how she handles it. Stick a pin in it. That`s going to happen on Friday. In the meantime, though, tonight -- tonight is a huge night in the Bernie Sanders for president campaign. They`re calling tonight the organizing kickoff of the Bernie Sanders for president campaign across the country. We reported at the end of the show last night on one of the larger readings that is planned around this big Bernie effort tonight. We talk about it happening in Cincinnati. Because of the size of the venue they were planning for this meeting in Cincinnati, I assume that Bernie Sanders himself would be there. It turns out he`s not. Bernie Sanders is not doing any big personal appearances out in the world tonight. He is just on a video stream. But he has done to it more than 3,000 events, more than 3,000 Bernie for president events that happened or are happening all over the country. Here`s the map showing where all these events are. There are more than 3,500 across the country in all 50 states, organized in everything from meeting hall and big conference venues to people`s living room. I looked on the map near where I live in western mass and most of the events there seem to be already RSVP`d as totally full by the time I was checking earlier this evening. They`re doing more than 3,500 events across the country simultaneously and they say it got more than 100,000 people RSVP`d to be attending these various events tonight. A hundred thousand people? When Bernie Sanders first indicated that he was going to run, he got this really big grassroots response of people who wanted not just to donate to his campaign but to volunteer on his campaign. And I remember asking him on the show whether or not he felt like he was going to be able to handle the logistics of that much interest. And at the very beginning of his campaign, he did seem a little bit daunted about scaling up his campaign to be able to handle that many people wanting to get involved. But it`s been a couple months. Tonight, trying to pull off more than 3,500 simultaneous events with more than 100,000 participants, shows that they think at least that they have scaled up, they`re staffing in their infrastructure in their technical side enough that they can turn, they can start turning all of that interest in his candidacy into what they hope will be real momentum for his campaign. We shall see. But here`s where it all come together, because while the Republicans are completely focused on polling, because FOX News has decided national polling is how the Republican candidates are going to be allowed into or kept out of the presidential debate next week. Well, that focus on polling is happening on the Republican side, nobody is really watching the polls on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton obviously way out ahead. Still, honestly, the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination and you do see Bernie Sanders pop up and get closer to her here and there, in New Hampshire in one recent poll, or at some other state. But one of the things that has happened since Bernie Sanders has been running this unexpectedly hot campaign on the Democratic side, is that some smart pollsters have started to do head to head polling, general election head to head polling. For the various Republican candidates and they`re no longer setting up the various Republican candidates, just head to head again Hillary Clinton. They`ve started setting up the various candidates head to head against Bernie in the event that he wins the nomination. So, last week, PPP polled Bernie Sanders versus Jeb Bush as a general election match-up them show Jeb Bush beating Bernie by 7 points. They polled Marco Rubio against Bernie. It showed Marco Rubio beating him by 5 points. They showed a Scott Walker up against Bernie Sanders in a hypothetical general election, Scott Walker beating Bernie Sanders by only 1 point. But when it came to a general election head to head match-up between Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, it turns out that Bernie Sanders wins by 10. So, that was last week PPP. And this weekend, CNN did the same head to head polling. And the head to head polling for Hillary Clinton shows her beating all the Republican candidates by really big margins, as you can see here. She`s beating Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, beating Donald Trump by a mile. That same poll also did head to head polling on Bernie Sanders versus the same candidates. And it turns out, Bernie sanders in the CNN national poll beats them all too. Bernie sanders beat Jeb Bush by 1 point. He beats Scott Walker by 6 points. Bernie Sanders beats Donald Trump in the latest CNN poll nationwide, latest CNN poll nationwide has Bernie Sanders beating Donald Trump in a hypothetical general election match-up, has him beating him by 20 points -- which is more than Hillary Clinton would beat Trump by in the same poll. Nobody is watching the polls on the Democratic side, right, for good reason. It is a totally different race, right? It`s way too early to watch that sort of thing in any case. Honestly, it`s way too early to be watching on the Republican side of things either and nobody would be if it were not for FOX News insisting that that is the obscure and irrelevant criteria by which candidates will be allowed or disallowed from debating. But those are the stakes right now, one week out, which means that on the Republican side, we are at the start of a one-week long political death match between these three eight candidates, plus my boyfriend Jim Gilmore - - these nine fighting out for the last two spots. They`ve got one week to fight it out for the last two spots and all but two of them will effectively have their candidacies ended next week, thanks to FOX News. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, what are we looking at here? Look at this. Is this a meeting of the northwest bungee and trapeze society? Perhaps it`s casting auditions to be the next Spiderman. Cirque du Soleil Al Fresco jayvee team? Maybe this is one of those David Blaine escape from the hammock while dangling in the midair over a pool of crocodiles things. What this is, what`s going on here it turns out, it started last night, it is still going on right now. It is kind of big news and nobody really knows what to do about it. But that story, the explanation for what that is, is straight ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, there is going to be a funeral tomorrow at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. And a funeral is always bad news for someone. But this is a particularly very, very sad case. You might remember the legal case of Omar Khadr. Omar Khadr was the youngest person held at Guantanamo. They picked him up in Afghanistan when he was 15. They then held him at Guantanamo for a decade. In the Omar Khadr case, the Pentagon ended up appointing a defense lawyer for him, a military lawyer who was instructed, was ordered to give Omar Khadr the best legal defense possible. When the military assigned a lawyer for him, they picked a good one. He was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy. He was dogged and serious in mounding the defense in that case. Ultimately, his defense strategy is how Omar Khadr was finally released from Guantanamo after a decade. He got out in 2012. But then this month, about a week and a half ago, that excellent military lawyer who worked successfully only remarkable case, he died. He died at the age of 44. Lieutenant Commander Bill Keebler died from cancer. It was reportedly a very aggressive cancer that was first found in his appendix. He leaves behind a wife who is a navy lawyer. He leaves behind their 12- year-old son. Commander Keebler will be buried at the U.S. naval academy after tomorrow`s service, 44 years old when he died. Now, when Guantanamo was in the news, it is usually about trying to close it or maybe it is something about one of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo. This is neither of those stories. This is about the Commander Keebler`s death from cancer, and several other people`s deaths and a number of people who have recently gotten very sick. And this is something that could be coincidence, it could be a random occurrence but it also could be very scary. The navy has announced that they will open an investigation into claims that a large and apparently disproportionate number of people like Commander Bill Keebler, young and healthy people, who have worked at Guantanamo, or who have served in the military there, specifically as part of the military commissions, they are investigating what seems to be an unusually large number of those people getting diagnosed with very grave illnesses or dying from them. The Center for Constitutional Rights has a number of lawyers who have served on cases at Guantanamo. They have now compiled what they say is a list of more than 20 people, civilians and military personnel, including a number of lawyers, who they say have become in their words, gravely ill after spending time living and working at Guantanamo on the military commissions. "The Miami Herald" reports a lawyer in the Navy reserve, a lawyer who work at Guantanamo on one of the military commission bases there, this week filed a explain listing the name of seven military and civilian person who have worked at the compound at Guantanamo in recent years and who have since been diagnosed with cancer. "The Miami Herald" itself has started compiling its own list of cancer cases who have been diagnosed who work at the military commission site. The specific part of the Guantanamo base over the past seven years. "The Herald" says, so far, they know of nine people from that relatively small group of working age healthy people, they say they know of nine people who have been diagnosed with cancer from that group, lymphoma, brain cancer, colon cancer, cancer first found in the appendix. And three people from the very small group have died from cancer just in the last 13 months. There`s Marine Lieutenant Commander Bill Keebler, who died this past Friday. The Pentagon appointed defense lawyer from Omar Khadr, his funeral will be tomorrow. In January, it was Army Colonel Robert Cotell. He was an Afghanistan combat veteran. He earned a bronze star. He had also worked at the military commissions at Guantanamo. He died of cancer in January. He was 52. In June of last year, it was Marine Major Joshua Kirk. Major Kirk had been valedictorian of his high school class. He got a law degree at UVA. He was an Iraq War veteran. And then he worked at Guantanamo. He died last year of cancer at the ripe old age of 35, 35 years old, and 44 years old, and 52 years old. And all these other serious illness and cancer diagnoses among these relatively young, healthy, working age people, all of whom worked at the military commission site at Guantanamo. What`s going on here? Most prisoners at Guantanamo don`t go on trial at all, right? A select few have been tried in this ad hoc military commission system that the Bush administration invented and the Obama administration has half heartedly kept going. But it is a whole court system. A whole justice system invented just for this purpose. And such as, it has a lot of problems. Not the least is logistical. They set up this justice system on a U.S. Navy base on an island nation, on Cuba, in a country that does not want us there. It is not like the lawyers and other people involved in this justice system can just stay at the holiday inn and meet their clients like normal. What they did at Guantanamo to make this thing possible was that built lawyers and other personnel involved, they built them a little tent city. It`s a tent city in kind of a trailer park on base. It`s on Guantanamo and it`s specifically for the military personnel and civilians and the lawyers involved in those commissions. They set up this little tent city in 2008. These military commission cases, they all take years. And the people working on those cases, just logistically, they final it hard to come and go, as often as they might want. They`re totally dependent on the military for transportation and everything for obvious reasons. So, working on a military case means to a certain extent living in this tent city compound, which happens to be in an old air strip which who knows, where who knows what was on that site before the tents and trailers there. One of the complaints was that this may have been a place they dumped jet fuel. Some components of which are known to be carcinogens. A few hundred people have lived and worked there. What seems like a disproportionate number of them have died in quick succession from cancers at a young age. A larger number has been diagnosed with cancer or with other serious illnesses. The complaint to the Pentagon from this navy reserve lawyer, reportedly asked that that compound at Guantanamo should be evacuated. That those lawyers and all those other personnel out there should be taken off that site while an investigation happens into what`s going on there. Well, the Navy says they have opened up the investigation but they`re leaving the people there. They`re not evacuating anyone. At least not yet. Joining us now is Shayana Kadidal. He`s a senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Mr. Kadidal and the center have been working on a number of cases involving prisoners at Guantanamo. Thanks very much for being here. Appreciate it. SHAYANA KADIDAL, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: In terms of what I`ve explained there, that`s what I`ve gleaned from the few news reports that we got about this and from the complaint that know of. Is that basically how you understand it? KADIDAL: It is. So nine cancer cases about, a dozen other odd problems, things like thyroid issues, unexplained growths. Out of a pool of 200 people who have spent an awful lot of time down there in Camp Justice. MADDOW: And is it fair to describe them as working age, relatively healthy, robust people? KADIDAL: Yes, you point out that the cancer cases area all typically -- are all younger people, which is not typical of cancer. I think we also haven`t found any pattern, although we`ve looked at people having served previously in toxic zones in Iraq or Afghanistan being exposed to chemical weapons destruction, or depleted uranium or anything like that. We haven`t seen that. What they have in common is that they all serve in the Camp Justice. So we haven`t seen this incidence of cancers before 2008, which is Camp Justice, that tent city that you referred to, opened up. You know, beyond that, the office building where commission counsel work in has itself had to have been closed for a while, about two years ago, I believe in order to be remediated for toxic mold and potentially also asbestos issues. You know, the place is covered with signs that say do not drink the water out of here under any circumstances out of the taps. So, you know, there are a lot of signs that there may be problems there. And the military itself is saying, look, we are -- you know, looking in to whether there are carcinogens. You know, just that language shows that, you know, obviously, there`s an issue that needs to be taken seriously. MADDOW: The people who have -- the thing about Guantanamo and overarching things nobody ever thought it would be there and operating in this way for so long. The people who have been there longest without a break, of course, are the prisoners. I know that Guantanamo as a site is big, it`s about 40 or 50 square miles. But is there a concern for the prisoners too. Is that the same part of the base? KADIDAL: There are different concerns. Every prison in America I think is sort of a health disaster with tuberculosis and also other issues being common place. But, you know, as a lawyer working in a prison, you don`t expect where you lay your head down or the office where you work in the field is going to be making you sick. And that`s what we are seeing here. It is particular to this runway I think. There are other issues for detainees and I think their medical needs are neglected which exacerbates problems from not so serious to some very sometimes, but this is a little unique I think to the folks working on both sides in the court and the military commissions process. MADDOW: It is -- I mean, obviously, it`s anecdotal information we have got but it is startling. Cancer clusters are notoriously hard epidemiologically to sass out, but there is acutely toxic or carcinogenic pollution there, they ought to be able to find it. Do you have confidence that the Navy is going to look into it aggressively? KADIDAL: I think they`ll look into it. What I don`t have confidence is that they`ll be transparent about the results. So, let me just give an example. I meet with a client down there very regularly. I mean, we -- you know, we are allowed to bring food in, we used to share food with him. It turns out he is hepatitis C positive, transmitted by saliva. Sharing food is not a good idea with a client that has -- but the military never bothered to tell us about it. So, my real worry is they don`t with transparent about the results. I mean, look, it`s easy to test the runway to see what`s in there, right? MADDOW: Yes. KADIDAL: It`s easy to do a very detailed epidemiological study of a small controlled group of 200 people. But will the military tell us? I don`t have confidence in that. I`d rather much see the EPA, or CDC take the lead in the investigation for that reason. MADDOW: That seems like a doable or at least admirably specific damage. Senior managing attorney at the Center of Constitutional Rights, Shayana Kadidal -- thank you for helping us understand this. It is a startling story. Thanks for helping us understand. KADIDAL: Thanks. MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, this is not that lion story. This is the over lion story. This is the only video we have seen of an animal that`s on the loose of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There`s some dispute what it is. But journalists have settled on describing it like a lion-like animal. This was first spotted nine days ago. City cops and animal control have been searching for the lion-like animal for nine days since it was first seen. After nine days the thing must be hungry. Well, now, apparently, the new local tactic to try to catch it is to put out a bunch of these cages. Have a heart style cages. Animal control used them for big dogs like big Marmaduke-sized dogs. They have decided maybe it was a pet rather than a wild animal that got loose. So, for bait in the cases, they are using people food. "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" reporting today and us confirming today the bait contains, quote, "a mix of turkey, chicken, summer sausage and McNuggets." Animal control officers telling us the summer sausage and nuggets were included for their aroma. Big cats are obviously supposed to eat fresh red meat, but apparently animal control officers believe that the price with contact with humans is they develop a taste for table salts. We`ll keep you posted. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: For the last few days, there`s been an ice breaker ship parked along the river in Portland, Oregon. It`s an ice breaker that`s been leased by Shell Oil as part of their effort to drill the arctic for oil. Now, this ice breaker sprung a leak three feet long when it was up in Alaska. So, they had to ship it to Portland, Oregon, to get repairs before it can return to the arctic and rejoin Shell`s efforts. Well, when this ice breaker arrived at Portland over the weekend, it was greeted by a sea of protesters in tiny boats, mostly people in kayaks. The ice breaker was able to get in to port, though and presumably it`s got its repairs done now, we guess. It does now need to get back out to the Pacific Ocean so it can sail to the drilling site in the ocean so Shell can do its drilling. Specifically in order to do that, this ice breaker needs to leave the location where it is now and pass underneath this bridge, the St. John`s Bridge to get access to the ocean. Well, early this morning, when it seemed like Shell`s ship was ready to leave, this is what happened at the St. John`s bridge -- look underneath the bridge. More than dozen people dangling off the bridge, basically forming an aerial blockade. These activists repelled over the side of the bridge this morning and they are hanging there. They say they have enough supplies to last a few days. They say they are not going anywhere. The ship is essential to Shell being able to drill the Arctic, and right now, in order to do that the ship will have to face a human gauntlet in order to get out of Portland. The story was fascinating from the beginning. It gets better every day. Watch this space. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END