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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 01/07/15

Guests: Laith Alkhouri, Laura Haim, Ezra Klein, Joe Randazzo, SteveClemons, Laura Hain

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Rachel. We learned a lot about the suspects during your program. The news is continuing to break. Thanks, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Thanks. O`DONNELL: We`re going to continue our live coverage of the manhunt in France where one suspect is in custody and two are still at large. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just moments ago, masked men opened fire at the offices controversial satirical newspaper in France. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three masked gunmen stormed into the Paris headquarters of the weekly magazine "Charlie Hebdo". UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Killing at least a dozen people in the newsroom. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of them stayed in the car, the other two entered the building and began firing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A series of gunshots were heard, at least 30 rounds by some estimates. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Killing editor Stephane Charbonnier, his bodyguard and eight others. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Charlie Hebdo" has been very, very satirical in their approach to religion. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a long history and controversial history. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Its offices have been fire bombed several years ago because of satirical issues it featured, the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: French President Francois Hollande said this was a terror attack of exceptional barbarity. Nobody can believe they can act like this in France against the republic, against the very spirit of the republic, and get away with it. (CHANTING) (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: It is 4:00 a.m. in France and an intense manhunt is under way at this hour for the terrorists who killed 12 people and injured 11 at the Paris headquarters of the French satire magazine "Charlie Hebdo" or "Charlie Weekly". The attackers headed east right after the attack and this is the latest video from the scene of a police operation under way in the French city of Reims, east of Paris. Heavily armed police entered an apartment that French media reports belongs to one of the suspects. Just a short time ago, French police said the youngest suspect, an 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad has turned himself in and they`re still searching for two brothers, Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi who are in their early 30s. The three attackers wore masks and carried assault rifles. The attack took less than ten minutes. People climbed on to the roofs of buildings to make sure they were getting away from the shooting down below. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) O`DONNELL: Witnesses say the attackers yelled "Allahu Akbar" during the attack, which included shooting a police officer on the street when they were escaping. A witness caught that scene on video. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) O`DONNELL: That completely blurred figure you saw on the screen was the police officer being shot. The people who decide what you are allowed to see on American television have decided you should not be able to see that police officer. Clearly, I don`t know how those decisions are made. A witness who encountered the escaping gunman says they yelled, "You can tell the media that it`s al Qaeda in Yemen." Joining me now from Paris is NBC News foreign correspondent Bill Neely. Bill, what is the latest there? BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, it`s interesting. You mentioned that policeman -- the ironic thing is that the policeman who was shot at point blank range was a French Muslim policeman. What`s absolutely clear here tonight is that the French police know exactly who they`re looking for. They have released in the last couple of hours photographs of those two brothers, the Kouachi brothers and they have said that these men are armed and extremely dangerous and they`re asking the French public for their help. We know that one of the brothers was jailed for terrorist offenses ten years ago, jailed for 18 months. And we think the other brother was in Syria and returned in August of last year having done something in Syria, we don`t know what. But from the look of those videos, these are two gunmen who are quite at ease with weapons, the way they hold the weapons. If you saw one of the stills, there were 15 gunshots in very, very close proximity to one another, as if the person doing the firing had been very steady. They do things very calmly. And this is what eyewitnesses report, that these were two calm, almost trained professional, if you like, gunmen. But, of course, to say professional of a horror like this is not quite right. And police have also issued now the names of all of the victims. And, you know, the people who are in that editorial meeting were of a certain age. One of the cartoonists was 80 years old. He`s called Wolinski. I have one of his books on my bookshelves at home. He is a very, very well known political cartoonist. Another was 78. And he was given France`s highest award, highest civilian honor. So these were very well-respected, very well-known men and women who were killed in the most brutal fashion. But it does not seem that the French police know exactly who they`re hunting, the manhunt very much on. O`DONNELL: Bill, what do they know about how long the suspects have lived in France? Were they born in France? NEELY: It appears they were. They seem to be of French Algerian extraction, but they were born in Paris, at least that`s what we hear from some anti-terrorism experts. The French police have not given detailed biographies. And also remember, reports that one of them have returned last year from Syria. French police estimate that around 300 French nationals are in either Syria or Iraq at the moment fighting for ISIS. So, this is a big problem in France, in Germany. And, of course, these suspects would be anywhere at the moment. They were heading north of here at speed, along motorways. They could be in Belgium by now. It`s not just a French issue. This is a northern European manhunt. O`DONNELL: Bill Neely, thank you for staying late and joining us on this incredible day. Thank you very much. Joining me now from Washington is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, what are we learning in Washington from the FBI and from the defense and intelligence sources who are looking at this? NEELY: Well, a couple of things. Number one is as soon as the French authorities got the names the U.S. was going back and looking to see if there was any possible connection between this attack and people in the U.S., and they say tonight, they haven`t found any -- that they`ve been looking at their databases and don`t see at this point any contact between the suspects in France and people in the U.S., that`s thing one. Thing two is whenever you have an event like this, the intelligence community takes the amount of material it`s been collected, they sort of hit the pause button and look back before the event to see if they can find things that in retrospect would indicate some kind of warning for this attack. And they say that they cannot. So, it`s an all hands-on deck affair to try to help the French and do what they can and make sure there are no other attacks in the offing. A couple of other points here, there`s been a decision not to raise the terror threat level in the U.S. You know, Lawrence, over the years, that has sort of evolved in the early days of the terror threat level. It was kind of raised based on sort of general jitters. Now, the policy is, the threat level isn`t raised unless there`s some specific intelligence indicating there`s an attack planned on the U.S. And because there isn`t any, they`re not going to change the terror threat level. A couple of other -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Pete, go ahead. WILLIAMS: Well, I was just going to make a couple of other points here today that as is typical with something like this, when you have rapidly unfolding events, you get a lot of contradictory information. It`s still not entirely clear what the French authorities believe these three people did. It seems pretty clear from the videos that the two older ones were involved in the shootings, but what`s the role of the third suspect. That`s never been very clear. And at one point today, just to indicate the confusion here, at one point, one French official has said there had been an arrest and that was retracted. Earlier tonight, two senior U.S. counterterrorism officials told NBC News that one of the suspects had been killed and the two were in custody. But now, they say the information that was the basis of that account couldn`t be confirmed. And from what we know now, that appears to had been wrong. So, it`s just been a day like that. O`DONNELL: Pete Williams, thank you very much for staying late with us tonight on this. Thank you, Pete. WILLIAMS: You bet. O`DONNELL: Tonight, France raised its terror alert to the highest level. That was called attack alert and bolstered security at media offices, places of worship and public transportation hubs. Joining me now is Laith Alkhouri, he`s a senior terrorism analyst at Flashpoint Global Partners, and MSNBC law enforcement Jim Cavanaugh. Laith, what`s your reading of the evidence so far? LAITH ALKHOURI, FLASHPOINT GLOBAL SR. ANALYST: Well, there has been a number of confusing details emerging, whether from French authorities, from American counterterrorism officials. You know, they indicated that at some point, one of the attackers was killed. At another point, that he was arrested. A third point that he handed himself in. So, there`s a lot of speculation. But we know that based on all the details that have come out, that the two individuals, the two brothers remain at large. And that one of them might have travelled to Syria last year and that he might have returned unnoticed. O`DONNELL: What do you make of the one thing they said to bystanders, tell them -- tell the press that it`s al Qaeda in Yemen? ALKHOURI: Well, reportedly, right, because we cannot completely ascertain that`s exactly what`s said. But if it`s based on that -- let`s retract back to March of 2013 when al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released "Inspire" magazine number 10, in which it had a hit list, and one of the names on that hit list was Mr. Charb -- O`DONNELL: I think we have this will hit list. There it is. There`s the wanted list that they put out there. And one of the names on there -- ALKHOURI: Is the editor of the newspaper. So, again -- O`DONNELL: Along with, by the way, Salman Rushdie and people they have been after for years. ALKHOURI: For years and some of those individuals were featured actually in "Inspire" magazine`s first issue that included the names of other cartoonists, Danish cartoonists, who also depicted Prophet Mohammed in their cartoons that is viewed offensive to many Muslims around the world. O`DONNELL: Jim Cavanaugh, what do you make of what you`ve seen on video about the way they handled these weapons, the weapons they were using. How would you obtain weapons like that in Paris? JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT: Right, I think it would be a little bit difficult to get them just normally in Paris, looking at Kalashnikovs, and then, you know, the tactical vests, vests that one of the actors was wearing. I think the way they acted, Lawrence, looked to me like one or both had been in a conflict area. You know, they carried these rifles comfortably. Not highly trained military like of a Western nation. They weren`t that kind of people. They didn`t move like that. But they moved as people that had been in conflict before. They weren`t scared away by police officers who came in bicycles or in vehicles. They knew they were going to win that fight with rifles. But they`re bumbling as well. I mean, they went to the wrong door. The one guy lost his shoe. You know, highly trained military operatives would tie their shoes. They would have the right door. You know, they -- O`DONNELL: Jim, as you`re saying that, we just saw the video of one having to stop and pick up his shoe as he`s getting in the car. CAVANAUGH: Right, right. O`DONNELL: Jim, we also have a report indicating that in that black car that we`re seeing in the video, one of them left an ID by mistake. And that`s part of how they got tracked down. CAVANAUGH: Right, exactly. You know, shades of Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani terrorist in Times Square who bumbled the bomb. He made this contraption that wouldn`t detonate and left his keys in the car. So, this is where these guys sort of fit, it looks like, in that -- in the realm of they`re not one crazy lone wolf actor like Hassan in Ft. Hood who acts alone, radicalized on the web. And they`re not dispatched by core al Qaeda like 9/11. They`re in the middle somewhere. Contacts maybe in Syria or North Africa, maybe they`ve traveled there and been in a conflict area, they are a little maybe self-radicalized or contact radicalized. A little wolf pack, but they`re very, very deadly. O`DONNELL: Laith, when I saw this manhunt developing today, one of the things I was saying here in the office is the French police are superb at this kind of work. It is very, very hard to escape their chase in France. ALKHOURI: Well, yes. The French authorities are actually extremely capable, except that you can`t really protect everybody. In any country, really, you can not protect everybody. In the case of the attack in France today, the target was pretty much a soft target. Even if there was some security out there, you know, a couple of guards and a couple of policemen cannot prevent heavily armed gunmen -- O`DONNELL: The armed policeman guarding them was the first person killed as they approached. ALKHOURI: Exactly. And they had very high caliber rifles that could kill dozens of people in a couple of minutes. So, what does that tell us, though, about France`s gun policy? I think that`s a discussion for another time, but it`s important to look at how did they obtain their weapons. Who provided them? Who helped them? You know, going back in their communication trail, how were they able -- did they communicate with people, individuals outside the country? Did they indeed travel? Did they communicate with commanders of fighters on the ground somewhere in the jihadi spot? O`DONNELL: The fact that they got the location wrong indicates that someone else gave them the location information. It looks like they had maybe never been there before. ALKHOURI: That`s a possibility, and also, you know -- O`DONNELL: Or maybe just working off the address. ALKHOURI: And not knowing exactly what -- O`DONNELL: Jim Cavanaugh and Laith Alkhouri, thanks for helping analyze this for us tonight. Really appreciate it. ALKHOURI: Thank you. CAVANAUGH: Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama responds to today`s murders in Paris. And one of the brave editors who decided to publish the cartoons that provoked those murders in Paris today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: That was the Agence France Press newsroom in Washington, D.C. today holding the "Je Suis Charlie," "I am Charlie" signs. But are you really Charlie? Can you be Charlie, if you do not dare show the cartoons that got 12 people murdered in Paris today? That is why those people were executed. Cartoons -- cartoons that included depictions of the founder of Islam. The killers said we have avenged the prophet. They said that. Those were their words. The killers didn`t want those cartoons to be seen by anyone, and they are not the only ones. Most major news organizations in America will not show those cartoons. Some perform the self-censorship right before your eyes by showing a photo of the editor of that magazine holding up the magazine, but then cropping the photo so you can`t see what all the fuss was about. You can`t see why that man holding that magazine was murdered today. I will not be presumptuous enough to hold up a sign, a card saying "Je Suis Charlie" and I will not be able to show you the cartoons that got some very brave people killed today. But I will be joined later by one of the brave American editors who has decided to republish all of those cartoons that led to the murderous madness in Paris today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PHILIPPE VAL, FORMER EDITOR OF CHARLIE HEBDO (through translator): I`ve lost all my friends today. They were not vicious people. They just wanted us to live happily. They were people who wanted humor to play a role in their lives. That was all. That was all. I just can`t comprehend it. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Stephane Charbonnier, the editorial director of "Charlie Hebdo", once said, "I would rather die standing than live on my knees." He died standing today for the principle of freedom of expression. He was 47 years old, not married. He had no children, which he cited as one of the reasons he felt free to risk his life making jokes about the founder of Islam. Two years ago, he told the "L.A. Times," "I`m more likely to get run over by a bicycle in Paris than get assassinated." He also told "The Times", "If one person is injured or killed, it doesn`t mean all of France will be put on its knees. It`s not Islam attacking France. It`s one person attacking another person. That`s all." Bernard Maris, an economist, was apparently visiting the magazine office today when he was killed. He was a frequent contributor to the magazine, writing on the name Uncle Bernard. He was 68 years old. Tonight, French police released the name of the other victims, Jean Cabut, a cartoonist who the French newspaper called one of the giants of the genre. He was 76 years old. Bernard Verlhac, a father of four, said he`s been drawing cartoons since he was 13 years old. He once said the best cartoons give rise to laughter, thought and set off a certain kind of shame. He was 50 years old. Georges Wolinski was an 80-year-old cartoonist. In 2011, he said, "My job is to look for ideas. I spent all my life looking for ideas, like a pig looks for truffles." "The L.A. Times" says Wolinski`s drawing, quote, "encompassed a wide range of subjects, but he specialized in contemporary sexual mores with a focus on women and current affairs." When asked about death, he said, "I want to be cremated. I told my wife, you will throw my ashes in the toilet, that way I will see your ass every day." Today, his daughter posted this photo of his office. Joining me now is Laura Haim, White House correspondent for the French network Canal Plus. Laura, I want to mention some of the other names that have just been released by French police. Michel Renaud, he was apparently a guest there at the magazine today. Franck D., it says he was a special protection service, that may have been the person who was guarding the office, who was killed first. And then Ahmed Merabe, a police officer apparently himself Muslim. Laura, tell us about this magazine and its place in French media. LAURA HAIM, CANAL PLUS: This is a very special magazine for the French. All the men who worked there are dead today wanted to do journalism and they wanted to do serious journalism, but they also wanted to make people smile about real issues. France is completely traumatized by what happened. It`s the journalists which has been killed today. The French people cannot understand why there`s so much horror, terrorism strike against journalism. And people really wanted to change the world and will live in freedom -- freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom to be able to do whatever you want and to say whatever you want. O`DONNELL: Laura, we see thousands of people in France today, in Paris holding up the sign "Je Suis Charlie". Was that the feeling? I suspect it wasn`t the feeling about the magazine before today. HAIM: It`s the feeling that something has changed in France. I know in the United States, you see France as a beautiful country with a lot of women, wine, French, this is completely over. After today, it`s more over than ever. France is facing a very difficult crisis about its identity, about terrorism, about very serious issues, about the far right, which is rising, about Muslim population which does not have job, which doesn`t know how to do, about young people who are going to Iraq, to Syria, and are coming back to France to strike the French society. In the United States, you have 9/11. In France today, a lot of people are saying it was again of 9/11 for the press, but also about freedom -- against freedom and against democracy. O`DONNELL: Laura, what is -- what is your guess about what will be happening in France over the next couple of weeks in terms of a political reaction and a societal reaction to this? HAIM: I think we`re going to see for the moment a lot of people united. Again, this is a shock so you`re going to see like tonight thousands of French people demonstrating. You know that French love to demonstrate. They`re going to stand side by side, to show to the world that the French people do not want terrorism in the street. Then you`re going to have a lot of political questions. Francois Hollande, the French president, does not have good ratings at this moment. It`s between 15 and 20 percent. The far right is rising in the past months. People have a lot of anxiety about the Muslim population, as I said before, how they are going to be integrated and how this country is going to face terrorism. So, there`s going to be a moment of grief, but also a moment of how are we going to resolve this crisis? What`s going to happen next? And what are we going to do about terrorism and the fight against terrorists. O`DONNELL: Laura Haim, I`m very sorry about the attack that your country suffered today. And thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. HAIM: You`re welcome. O`DONNELL: Coming up, how the American press has responded to these murders today. A former editor at "The Onion" will join me. And Ezra Klein is here to talk about what his Web site as dared to do today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: In November 2011, the "Charlie Hebdo" offices were fire bombed the day after the magazine released one of its covers with a cartoon of Mohammed. While the bomb rubble was still smoking, Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed in today`s attack, stood in front of his blown-up officers, holding up the cartoon that provoked the bombing. Most major news organizations in this country including this network, the Associated Press and "The New York Times" had decided not to show any of the cartoons that led to today`s murders. The cartoons can be seen online at, the "Huffington Post," "The Daily Beast," Gawker, BuzzFeed and Bloomberg. Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor for the "Washington Post," confirmed to THE LAST WORD tonight that that newspaper will publish a cartoon from "Charlie Hebdo" on tomorrow`s editorial page. It will be the same cartoon that provoked the bombing in 2011. It depicts Mohammed with a headline saying "100 Lashes If You`re Not Dying of Laughter." Joining me now is editor-in-chief and MSNBC political analyst Ezra Klein, and former editor of "The Onion," Joe Randazzo. Ezra, you decided to republish all of these cartoons today. How did you decide to do that? EZRA KLEIN, VOX EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: You know, I`d like to tell you it was this big decision, that we had a big meeting, and we thought through the changes and the risks and the questions, but it -- honestly I spoke to my editor, as I saw "The Post" before it went up. It never occurred to any of us not to publish it. Our job is to explain news stories like you. You can`t explain this news story without showing people what this magazine did, what it published, what it wrote about. So it was -- it was such an obvious that we actually, I have to be honest, did make a call. I actually talked to my editor before I came on to make sure I wasn`t missing a link in the chain. But I do want to make one point here because I think it speaks for at least my mindset on this, which is that I don`t really agree that this was about the cartoons and the way people are saying it is. I don`t think this is about the cartoons any more than a rape is about what the victim is wearing or a murder is about the street the person is walking down. Many people see these cartoons, many people do not go on mass killing sprees. And this was about the lunacy of the murderers who did it. And if they hadn`t gone to the offices of this magazine, they might have blown up a bus, they might have gone on a different kind of killing spree. But I think that saying it`s about the cartoon is a little bit within their frame. And these are people who wanted to kill. You saw that when they went out and shot a policeman point blank. These were killers. And I think that there was an excuse here about cartoons but I don`t believe really that was at the root of it. O`DONNELL: Well, you know, in a motive in crime investigations, the first place the police go is they ask the people who did it why they did it. They told us very clearly today why they did it. They said they were avenging the Prophet. So I get your point, Ezra. I don`t see why my judgment should override what the killers actually told us. But, Joe Randazzo, this was a tough one for you. I`m going to read something you wrote today as a former editor of "The Onion." You said, "Twelve people were murdered at the offices of `Charlie Hebdo,` a French satirical newspaper today, apparently for doing the very thing `The Onion` does, satire." But, Joe, they did one thing that "The Onion" hasn`t done. They actually included images of Mohammed. JOE RANDAZZO, FORMER EDITOR OF THE ONION: Yes. Well, as far as my recollection goes, there hasn`t been a time when "The Onion" has run an image of Mohammed especially not for any inflammatory reasons. So I do think that there is a -- that there is kind of fine line that has to be walked, which is a sensitivity to the cultural preferences of your readership or anybody in the world versus the freedom to publish anything you see fit in a free society. So there -- while "The Onion" has poked a lot of fun and called out radical Islam, I don`t remember a time when it has run an image of Mohammed. Not for any particular reason beyond that I just don`t recall it having come up. O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, did you have any -- I mean, the way you described running these cartoons seems very simple and clear. And I get it. But I`m wondering if at Vox you considered any sensitivity issues, as Joe just referenced about these cartoons. KLEIN: Yes, I think that`s a real issue. I think the thing about free speech, and I think we all should be aggressive about affirming people`s right to publish these cartoons in any context today of all days. But the thing about free speech, right, is that what makes it -- what is so great about it is you don`t have to endorse all of it, right? In unfree speech, there is a sort of implicit endorsement often by the state. In free speech there isn`t. And so to me, I think that these cartoons had a category change around today, right? A week ago, a month ago, two months ago, I might not have a published them outside the context of a news story. I think a lot of them, you know, arguably were in bad taste. But today they became a news story. And the point about publishing them was not to rile readers up, it was not to poke fun at a religion, it was not to make a political point. It was to try to explain what had happened in this incredibly horrible crime in Paris. And once they made that transition from being what they were to being part of the core of this incredible international terrible story, that made the decision a lot easier because I don`t think at that point the act of publishing, the message of publishing them, was about the message they carried. It was about doing the job we felt we needed to do to explain to readers what was going on. O`DONNELL: Well, it`s going to be fascinating, Ezra and Joe, to see what happens after you at Vox have put these up. "Huffington Post" has put them up. "Washington Post" is going to have one in the print edition of the newspaper tomorrow. And that`s going to be a big moment because every other time in the last several years that anyone has run any kind of image of this kind anywhere in the world, Denmark, France, wherever you are. There has always been some kind of protest reaction including some very, very large protest reactions around the world at different times. And Joe, you have to wonder, what`s coming next here. RANDAZZO: I don`t know what`s coming next. I mean, you know, I think Ezra put it really well. You know, I was flipping through, as it were, the images on Vox today, and it never occurred to me that Vox would have been one of the sole publications to print them. I mean, the tragedy here is that they`re images, they`re cartoons, you know? I don`t think they have to mean anything. And I think centering so much of our discussion on what is the response going to be, is this OK, is it not, given that there are very real safety concerns that were illustrated graphically and horribly and violently today, I think by centering our discussion solely on that gives them much more power than they need to have. And I think if we allow ourselves to kind of dwell in this fear, then the message that these three killers were trying to send that I don`t believe they sent on behalf of Islam as a whole is given much more strength than it deserves. O`DONNELL: Well, Ezra, to some extent, there`s a certain amount of the mission is accomplished. When most news organizations in America absolutely refuse to show these cartoons in anyway. That was the objective of the murderers today. KLEIN: Yes. Insofar as there is, there is certainly a sense of intimidation. And you saw different editors tweeting about something, and writing publicly about something that I think is really real, the fear of safety. Right? The question of how do you balance what you think you need to do for your audience or what you think you need to do in your idealism as a member of the free press. And your fear of depriving the families of your employees of a father or mother. But nevertheless I think that more people have seen these images today than ever would have in the absence of this act. And I think that there`s been an encouraging affirmation of a free press here. And I hope internationally. O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, I`m glad it wasn`t a tough call for you at Vox. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. And Joe Randazzo, thank you very much for joining us tonight, too. RANDAZZO: Thank you. KLEIN: My pleasure. O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama`s reaction to the attack in Paris and we will go back to France for another live report on the manhunt that is under way right now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Hundreds of people gather in London`s Trafalgar Square tonight to honor the victims of today`s attack on the staff of "Charlie Hebdo." It was one of many vigils around the world tonight. And the United States journalists from around the world were among those who gathered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. And in New York City at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, hundreds came to New York City`s Union Square holding signs and pens aloft. We`ll be back with more live coverage of the hunt for the two killers still at large in France. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact that this was an attack on journalists, attack on our free press, also underscores that these terrorists fear freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But one thing that I`m very confident about is that the values we share with the French people a belief -- a universal belief in the freedom of expression is something that can`t be silenced because of the senseless violence of the few. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Steve Clemens, the Washington editor-at-large of "The Atlantic" magazine and an MSNBC contributor. Steve, John Kerry and the president gave these kind of pro forma statements. Didn`t seem like there was really much they could say today that would be particularly helpful in these circumstances. But what`s really helpful to the French is what`s going on backstage in Washington, particularly now at the NSA. This is when those big silos of data, communication data, including French communication data that Edward Snowden has revealed they`re collecting could be valuable to the French. STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE: I think you`ve nailed it, Lawrence. And I can guarantee you that behind the scenes we are looking at every bit of associational intelligence that we can find on those that have been identified as the alleged killers in this. Looking for every relationship they have, every phone call they`ve made, what they`ve spent money on, where they`ve traveled to. And putting a map together of the digital profile of these individuals. And I`m sure that we`re working with them. I mentioned earlier today on TV, it`s just a few months ago when the minister of Defense of France was here. He met with a number of us and talked about France`s concerns that they were seeing increased connections and efforts between different fragmented groups in Africa and in Europe to try to connect with ISIS. And so that was an example of at least the kind of sharing that was already going on government-to-government. But I`m sure that we`re doing the kinds of things that you`ve nailed in your comment. O`DONNELL: Steve, I suspect at the end of this story, whenever it is, we may never know just how much of a contribution is made by American intelligence information, if any, to solving this or bringing more details to how it all happened. CLEMONS: Well, I think, you know, the character of the U.S. intelligence establishment in most cases is to stay beneath the surface, behind the scenes, and not to disclose information publicly because it compromises perhaps means, methods and sometimes it signals to other parties what we can know. It was highly unusual, for instance, when we identified North Korea as the culprit in the hacking of Sony. That almost never happens. And so you`re right, we may never see what we come out with because you don`t want to disclose too easily to others out there. You want to have them continue to engage in the patterns of communication that they`ve got. O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, thank you very much for joining us tonight. CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence. (on camera) Coming up next, a live report from France on the search for the two suspects who are still at large. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: At this hour, police in France are looking for these two brothers as suspects in the terrorist attack in Paris today. The search has taken police about 100 miles northeast of Paris. The latest on that search is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: It`s about four minutes away from 5:00 a.m. in France. A judicial official has confirmed to the Associated Press that the two suspects are still at large in the deadly attack at the offices of the French weekly "Charlie Hebdo." French authorities released photos of the two brothers, 32-year-old Cherif Kouachi and 34-year-old Said Kouachi, both born in Paris, who are considered armed and dangerous. A third suspect, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad surrendered to police earlier tonight. Bill Neely is live in Paris. Bill, what do we know about the suspect who surrendered to police? Do we know where he surrendered and why he surrendered? Was he basically cornered at that point? BILL NEELY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don`t -- we haven`t got official confirmation that he was even the suspect who was named initially by police. But we know the man who turned himself into a police station is 18 years old. He turned himself in -- in the Ardennes region so up near the Belgium border. And supposedly he turned himself in because he saw his name mentioned on social media and decided to go to the police station. But none of that has been confirmed by police. What police have confirmed, and it`s quite clear now, they are looking for these two brothers. One of whom was convicted 10 years ago of terrorist offenses, of trying to encourage a group of men to go to Iraq to fight U.S. troops. And the other brother, we believe, who returned from Syria in August of last year. Paris tonight is a city in shock at the worst terrorist attack in 54 years here. It`s a city fearful because these two men, the two gunmen pictured in the videos are still on the loose. People are fearful that they might strike again. But it`s also a city defiant. Tens of thousands on the streets here showing solidarity with the journalists and with the magazine "Charlie Hebdo." O`DONNELL: We`re also joined again by Laura Hain. She is the White House correspondent for the French network Canal Plus. Laura, what do you think the reaction will be in France to what we now know to be the fact that both of these people who are being searched -- trying to be caught now are -- were born in Paris. These are native born Frenchmen? LAURA HAIN, CANAL PLUS: It`s not going to be surprising for the French people because they know that it happened before, it happened in Toulouse a few years ago with a young kid who was raised in France, who went against the synagogue, who murdered kids. And people were expecting this kind of attack. In the past six months, people -- politician people, reporters were describing how French people were preparing attack against journalists, against Jews, against different symbol of democracy. So the French people are not surprised. The French people are shocked. The French people want to be now united. And the French people are going to look very closely at what`s going to happen in the next hours. How the people are going to be arrested. What the French police is going to do. Is there going to be a battle between the French police and those two guys. Are they going to surrender? Are they going to fight against the cops. A lot of questions at this moment. French is resilient and French people at this moment just want to show to the world how they are united in the fight against terrorists. O`DONNELL: NBC`s Bill Neely in Paris and Laura Hain, thank you very much for joining me tonight. HAIN: You`re welcome. O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes now continues our live coverage. END