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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/27/21



U.S. military forces have conducted and over the horizon counter- terrorism operation today, against an ISIS-K planner. Right wing media promotes drug for COVID as health officials warn against taking it.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Happy Friday, my friend. Thank you very much. Have a great weekend.


MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for being with us this Friday night.

You know, on top of everything else going on in the world tonight, we are tracking what could be a very, very dangerous hurricane that appears to be aimed right at New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, with potential landfall this weekend on Sunday. And, yes, you`re remembering correctly it would be 16 years exactly since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in that exact part of the country.

The hurricane is called Ida. It looks particularly worrying because it`s large already, because it is moving slowly. Because the storm surge and rainfall amounts associated with it are epic. And because it is due to track over some very, very unusually warm waters on the way toward land.

As a general rule of thumb, with offshore storms like this, the warmth of the ocean temperatures that the storm passes through on their way to land, those temperatures translate pretty directly to fuel for the energy of the storm.

So, again, I know a million things are going on now. It doesn`t feel like we`ve got the band width to handle another disaster, but here she comes. Hurricane Ida is going to be a big part of your news diet over the weekend, obviously, if you are in the path of the storm. You need to pay close attention to public warnings and evacuation orders. This is a big one. It`s one worth taking seriously. We`ll have more on that later on this hour.

Also, in Afghanistan, as we speak, it is just about dawn in Kabul after the ISIS suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. The U.S. military evacuation airlift was able to get another 12,500 people airlifted out of the airport in the past 24 hours, which is remarkable.

The large-scale evacuation effort, though, is expected to end soon. A huge long list of our Western allies have stopped their own evacuation efforts now and left entirely, that includes Great Britain and Germany and Spain and lots of our other close allies.

The United States military, that said, is still there. U.S. flights are still leaving. As the days of this evacuation order grows shorter, the White House is warning that the risk for another ISIS attack targeting the airport is very high and growing as more time passes. We heard the warnings all day today.

It makes sense. If ISIS thinks it wants to hit U.S. service-members again, they know the time is short to do so as U.S. service-members are on the way out. So, each remaining hour becomes more dangerous than the last for U.S. service-members who are still there.

I will tell you, just in the few minutes, within the last 10 minutes, we have received word that the U.S. embassy has put out another very specific warning. This is important because they put out a warning like this hours before the terrible ISIS bombing that claimed the lives of the service- members and the dozens of Afghan civilians.

Just within the last 10 minutes, the U.S. embassy put out another specific and urgent warning. U.S. citizens who are at Abbey Gate, east gate, north gate, or new ministry of interior gate at the Kabul airport now should leave immediately. Because of security threats at the Kabul airport, we advise U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates. Any U.S. citizens at any of named gates should now leave immediately.

Again, that`s new urgent warning just out from the U.S. embassy just moments ago. The death toll of Afghan civilians from yesterday`s attack has been revised up from this time last night. At this point, it`s 170, by some counts. It`s nearer to 200 by some other accounts. In any case, it`s absolutely intolerable.

The total among U.S. military service-members from the bombing stands at 13 with 18 injured. Of those American service members killed, 11 are United States marines, one is a U.S. navy corpsman, one is a U.S. Army soldier. The individual names of some of the service-members who are killed are starting to appear in some media sources.

The Pentagon is not expected to officially announce the names of all of those killed until this weekend. Until after the notifications of their families have been made. The notifications are expected to include personal calls from President Biden to the families of each service-member who was killed. We`ll expect Pentagon official notification to all those names once the notifications are done.

Today here at home, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has given an interview to "The New York Times", in which he has said for the first time that he does not intend to stay on the Supreme Court until he dies. Quote, "I don`t think I`m going to stay there until I die. I hope not." This is actually the first time Justice Breyer said such a thing.

Justice Breyer, in this interview, has also expressed for the first time, that he does understand that it matters who chooses his replacement. He expresses he understands it might not be ideal for his legacy if he were replaced on the court with say a right win justice who`s diametrically opposed to everything Justice Breyer stands for who can then spend the next 25 years on the country undoing everything Justice Breyer has accomplished.

I know those things sound like very elementary admissions. I prefer not to die in this job and it matters who replaces me. But Justice Stephen Breyer has never copped to understanding those things or placing value on those things before. It`s the first interview in which he talked about those things in those ways.

Democrats and liberals have been wondering -- wondering -- wondering is a nice word. Wondering, basically since Biden`s inauguration day why Justice Breyer was not retiring or stepping down while there is a precious window of a Democratic president to choose his successor. A very narrow Democratic Senate to confirm his successor.

Democrats and liberals have been wondering why he hasn`t taken the opportunity to retire now. Since inauguration day, they are still wondering that today but with this interview, for the first time, Justice Breyer himself is at least publicly engaging with the idea that what he decide here matters for the country, and that maybe if he could take action personally to avoid there being a 7-2 conservative majority on the court for another generation, you know, that might be a worthy part of his legacy. Maybe. No rush. No one push. Nobody is pushing.

Since the existing conservative majority on the Supreme Court has ripped the guts out of the federal Voting Rights Act and successive rules, the fight for voting rights has become celebrate and more creative, including a lot of creative and desperate protest, demonstration and advocacy this summer. This weekend, we`re expecting large marches for voting rights in dozens of U.S. cities, including potentially tens of thousands of people marching in Washington, D.C., tomorrow. We`re going to have, again, more on that coming up later on in the show. But we are all watching all those stories.

Where I want to start with tonight, though, is with the story we have been working on for awhile now. A story you may have seen headlines about in recent days depending on what part of the county you live in.

For example, you live in Lafayette, Louisiana, your daily newspaper may be "The Acadiana Daily Advertiser". Here is the front page of the daily advertiser from this morning. You see the big front page picture. Their A-1 feature on the terrible bombing at the Kabul airport yesterday.

Next to that, on the right-hand side, right hand column, Tropical Storm Ida takes aim at Louisiana. The forecast says conditions are favorable to become a category 3 hurricane. It was from this morning. Forecast is now even worse. It`s now looking more like a category 4 hurricane.

Even with those two big stories, really, important stories on the front page. Look at what is their top story above the fold, above the fold, all four columns, all the way across the top. Don`t take horse meds. That`s their main story.

Public health officer and agricultural commissioner warn against taking livestock drug for COVID-19. That`s the top story today, even with everything else going on, in Lafayette, Louisiana.

And I have to tell you, some kind of local iteration of that story has run in more than half dozen states in the last few days. In Mississippi, a version of that story has been front page news in multiple papers this week. We`ve seen iterations of this same story this week in -- there`s two papers in Mississippi where it`s been front page and iterations of the same story in Kansas and Missouri and Alabama and Oklahoma and Texas and Arkansas and Florida and Tennessee. Those are just ones I happened to pull over the course of the week. I`m sure it`s happening in other states, too.

But it raises the question of why is it happening now. Why are all over the country but particularly in red states that are having huge COVID surges now, why is this thing happening with poison control centers having to come forward saying our calls are about this drug being taken for horses and cows and sheep, all of these warnings from local health officials warning against using this livestock drug or anti-parasitic drug as if it`s a COVID medicine, as it`s COVID preventive when it`s not. Why is this happening everywhere now?

Yesterday, the CDC put out a national advisory warning the whole country against taking this drug ivermectin for COVID, but also noting that lots of people and lots of states are doing it anyway. The title of the new CDC advisory is: Rapid increase in prescriptions and reports of severe illness associated with use of products containing ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Most of the new CDC advisory is sort of technical detail about what they`re observing about people misusing this drug that is properly used for deworming livestock or in the human for formulation to kill head lice or scabies or river blindness, which is caused by a parasite.

But this new CDC advisory ends with very specific advice for the public. Be aware that ivermectin has not been proven as a way to prevent or treat COVID-19. Do not swallow ivermectin products that should be used on the skin, for example, lotions and creams, or products that are not meant for human use, such as veterinarian products.

Also, seek immediate medical attention, or call the poison control hotline for advice if you have taken ivermectin or product that contains ivermectin and are having symptoms including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, fast heart rate, low blood pressure. Other severe nervous effects have been reported including tremors, seizures, hallucinations, confusion, loss of coordination, loss of balance, decreased alertness, and coma.

Yeah, be sure to call if you have taken this drug that doesn`t treat COVID but could put you in a coma.

This new CDC warning follows similar warnings from the FDA, much earlier in the year. Ivermectin is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Some of the side effects that may be associated with ivermectin include skin rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, facial swelling, limb swelling, neurological adverse events, including dizziness, seizures, confusion, sudden drop in blood pressure, severe skin rash potentially requiring hospitalization and liver injury.

There are similarly dire warnings even from the company that makes the drug, in its formulation for humans. There is no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19.

But those other warnings, those other cautions that this drug does nothing to protect you from getting COVID or help you get over it if you have it, those other warnings are months old. And they haven`t had a deterrent effect, particularly recently. This new CDC advisory, out yesterday, is explicit about the harm that is happening right now, about the rapid increase in negative consequences associated with people misusing this drug. Despite the warnings that have been out there for a long time, that no one should be dosing themselves with this thing.

Again, from the CDC health advisory: Examples of recent significant adverse effects reported to poison control centers include the following. An adult patient presented with altered mental status after taking ivermectin tablets of unknown strength purchased on the Internet. The patient took 5 tablets a day for five days to treat COVID-19. The patient was disoriented, had difficulty answering questions and following commands. Symptoms improved with discontinuation of ivermectin following hospital admission.

Also, this is a good one, an adult drank an injectable ivermectin formulation intended for use in cattle. In an attempt to prevent COVID-19 infection, this patient presented to a hospital with confusion, drowsiness, visual hallucinations, tachypnea, which is rapid breathing, also tremors. The patient recovered after being hospitalized for nine days.

Nine days! Nine days in the hospital. Drinking injectable ivermectin formulated as an injection that you would shoot into a cow. Nine days in the hospital, at a time when I`m sure that hospital bed was not needed by anyone else, right?

Why is this happening now? Why is this happening now? I mean, to those four individuals described in the CDC advisory, but why is it happening in such large numbers. What is going on right now to drive this?

And to put it on all these front pages across the country. To have poison control centers in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, all these states coming forward in the past week to say, they are inundated with calls, from Americans dosing themselves with these meds that don`t treat COVID-19 and don`t prevent it. The meds are making people sick and in some cases putting them in the hospital.

It is not that this is just getting covered now. There is a big upsurge in this happening now. Pre-pandemic national prescriptions for this drug, ivermectin, which again, does have some legitimate uses in humans, for things like a bed infestation of head lice or scabies. Pre-pandemic there were about 3,600 human prescriptions of this drug, per week, nationwide, about 3,600.


Now? According to the CDC, for the week ending August 13th, it`s not 3,600 prescriptions a week. It`s 86,000 per week now. A 24-fold increase from the pre-pandemic baseline, for a drug that neither treats nor prevents COVID and can make you very sick and potentially kill you. Why is this happening?

Interesting story, it turns out. Do you remember this? This was last summer, July 27th, 2020. Looks like a normal bunch, right? Doctors in white coats standing at the Supreme Court. Why are they there? No idea.

But, you know, it`s a nice setting, looks very official. They are all wearing white coats, the same white coat in fact with a local logo on them. It is from something called America`s frontline doctors. It would later emerge that this group was convened by conservative activists who wanted to make it seem like then president Trump wasn`t against doctors exactly, and against medicine in science, in his continuing bizarre statements about COVID, and how it was going to go away on its own like magic.

Conservative groups wanted to make it seem like President Trump wasn`t siding against doctors, he was just siding with some different doctors, with some different science, as represented by these folks, inexplicably standing on the steps of the Supreme Court. And with a permit from the Tea Party group, set up by a conservative activist group in support of President Trump, this group, Americas Frontline Doctors, gave a press conference where they announced that COVID was no big deal.

You definitely don`t need to stay distant from anyone else, or with wear a mask, because COVID is no big deal. And if you do catch, don`t worry, there is a cure. They said. COVID can be cured with a drug called hydroxychloroquine, which is an anti-malaria drug. But don`t let the detail screw you up.

The sort of star speaker that day was this doctor, who said, I know you people want to talk about a mask. Hello, you don`t need a mask, there is a cure, it`s called hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine and zinc.

Then president Trump re-tweeted a video of that doctor`s press conference. The White House arranged for a white coat summit, from members of that group, to meet with Vice President Mike Pence in person. You will recall he was the head of the White House coronavirus task force. He met with that group.

It later emerged, thanks to roughly after five seconds of sleuthing by everybody over the age of 6 with access to a complex tool called Google, it later emerged that the doctor who led that press conference, the one who said, you don`t need a mask, just need hydroxychloroquine, she maintains that ovarian cysts are caused by people having sex with demons in their sleep. What happens if you wake up in the middle?

Also, vaccines are all designed to make you no longer religious. That`s what vaccines are for. And the U.S. government, beware, is run by reptiles. Oh, I`m sorry. No, not by reptiles, but by reptilian people who look like people but rip the mascot, there`s a lizard underneath.

Also, you shouldn`t trust Western medicine because Western medicine is made with alien DNA. You don`t want alien DNA mixed in with your good DNA, right?

When that proved to be the background on America`s Frontline Doctor group, when that proved to be the background on those folks, President Trump confronted with that information said he was still with him. To him, they were impressive.


REPORTER: The woman you said was a great doctor in that video that retweeted last night said that masks don`t worry and there is a cure for COVID-19 both of which health experts said that`s not true, she`s also made video saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens and that they`re trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, maybe it`s a sign, maybe it`s not, but I can -- I can tell you this. She was on air along with other doctors. They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine and I thought she was very impressive.


MADDOW: Very impressive. What are you saying, you`re in favor of demon sex and reptilian overlords, you liberal media alien DNA loving mask wearers?

But that group of folks promoted and championed by the Trump White House, they ended up becoming a cause celebre on Fox News Channel or Fox News Channel`s primetime hosts, expressed outrage that group of doctors, their claims about the fake cures for COVID were being taken down by Facebook and other social media platforms.

With that sort of a boost from the sitting president of the United States and the vice president of the United States, but also from the biggest conservative media platform in the country, the doctors in that group would go on in following months to leading an anti-vaccination traveling national road show.


Their founder, a doctor named Simone Gold allegedly took part in the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. She was arrested and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct. NBC News reports while she`s been released on her own recognizant awaiting trial on the charges, she headlined an anti-vaccine rally the past weekend in southern California.

And now, NBC news, "Time Magazine", and several outlets are reporting what the America`s Frontline Doctors fiasco appears to have morphed into now is a scam to market horse paste, to market livestock deworming and anti-lice medicine to people who believe, that for some reason, they shouldn`t take the COVID vaccine. To people who believe there is a cure for COVID. There must be a cure for COVID but the man is trying to keep it secret but you can find it at a veterinary clinic.

And, OK, maybe we said it was hydroxychloroquine before, that was the cure. But we`re not talking about that anyone now we say it`s ivermectin.

This is from NBC News today. Quote: The website for America`s Frontline Doctors directs people to speak with an MD. Their website called Speak with an MD through a button that reads, contact a physician. The America`s Frontline Doctors logo is prominent on the Speak with an MD home page.

The home page advertisers consultations for $90, and fills prescriptions through Ravkoo pharmacy, an online pharmacy that America`s Frontline Doctors advertises as a partner, which provides the option to have that prescription delivered to your door on the same day. On a intake form viewed by NBC News, prospective patients are asked, what medication do you prefer? The user is then presented with three options. Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine or not sure. Because what other option is there?

Here is more from "Time Magazine" today. Quote: On the America`s Frontline Doctors website, people looking for COVID-19 medication, are told to contact a physician and they pay $90 for a consultation. That link takes customers to the Website Speak with an MD, where customers are asked to submit payment information and told that one of the frontline doctors will call them in a few days.

The group describes Speak with an MD as a telemedicine service with hundreds of physicians trained by America`s Front Line Doctors.

In reality, the actual service is something called Encore Telemedicine, a company that connects patients to doctors willing to write prescriptions. Since 2015, it appears to have been run out of a home by a golf club in suburban Georgia, according to its business registration.

The orders made through Encore Telemedicine then go to Ravkoo, this digital pharmacy in Auburndale, Florida, whose address appears to be a dilapidated white structure near strip mall. Ravkoo was supposed to either mail the medicine or call it into a local pharmacy. The cost of the medicine is applied on top of the consultation fee. It varies widely from $70 for the medicine to $700, according to customer comments from America`s Frontline Doctors customers. It`s not clear how much America`s Frontline Doctors get from each patient referral. The services marketed on the group`s website for $90.

But if you go direct for a telemedicine consultation, the consultation is charged just $60, a $30 difference. America`s Frontline Doctors declined to comment on whether they receive any financial benefit from the referral. The group has been trying -- the group has been using the system however to sell hydroxychloroquine since at least last fall.

So, they moved on, from warning you about the reptile people and the threat of the demon spawn, careful who you have sex within your sleep, because you never know. They moved on from that, to promoting hydroxychloroquine as the secret cure to COVID. And when that petered out, they kept up the scam, telling people definitely do not take the vaccine, because the vaccine will kill you, and don`t wear a mask. And now they are telling people to pay them a considerable amount of money to take this potentially dangerous and also worthless drug, and leave you without a considerable amount of money in the process.

But they will hook you up with a prescription, hook you up with an online pharmacy to fill the prescription, just keeping them out every step. And maybe someday, in the mail, possibly, you will get your headlights and cattle worms pills, or maybe not. Customer complaints would seem to indicate that they do not always follow through either with the consult or sending anything in the mail after you pay them.


But stoking the conspiracy theories and lies about COVID and stoking demand for this quack cure as a consequence, whether or not you can directly profit off of it. Turns out you can directly profit off of it. But they have an effect beyond that. Groups like this, and conspiracists like this, and snake oil salesman like this, have driven a huge surge in people trying to get prescriptions for this drug, which doesn`t work against COVID.

But they have also driven so much of the demand for it, that aside from trying to talk doctors into prescribing it, or finding doctors who will prescribe it, people are also taking matters into their own hands, trying to source it themselves without a prescription, trying to source it, say, at the local feed store and a veterinarian formulation, if you can`t get someone to give you the human formulation by hook or by crook.

This is from "The Sun Herald" in Biloxi, Mississippi this week. The headline, that front page story I showed you some moment ago. Quote, excuse me, coastline home and garden supply in Gulfport, can`t keep ivermectin on their shelves according to one employee. The stories now having a difficult time finding the product because all locals suppliers are out. When we get it, it is sold out almost immediately, and every time we try to order, it`s back ordered, the employee said. All of my suppliers are running out.

Feed Sack Farm and Garden supply in Vancleave, Mississippi, also cannot keep supply and their shelves, according to a manager, who said they`ve also had trouble buying the drug from suppliers. Interest in ivermectin began at that store about three weeks ago. Quote: They want to be on the safe side in the long run, but I don`t recommend it because we sell a for dogs and horses and cattle, said the manager.

Fazzio`s Home and Farm Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, also said they`ve sold a lot more of the veterinarian medicine in the past months. Kevin Fazzio, the son of Fazzio`s owner, says, quote, we sell it as a cattle wormer. I know we sold a lot more of it in past couple of months. It`s definitely gone up.

A manager at the George County Co-Op in Mississippi said over the last few months they`ve seen a sharp increase in ivermectin sales. Quote, oh yes, we`ve seen a lot more. They say my aunt wanted me to get it. I warned them that they don`t need to be taking it for personal use. In the back of my mind, I know what they`re using it for, the manager, said. I tell them, this is going to hurt your kidneys or your liver, especially your liver. That`s all I can say.

God bless that manager at the George County in Co-Op in Mississippi warning people about the kidney and liver damage to come, from people taking cheap formulations of an anti worm medication. By that is not just that you are friendly, conscientious feed store clerk is trying to help out. The Mississippi health state officer has been doing his bit to.


DR. THOMAS DOBBS, MS STATE HEALTH OFFICER: This has now become an online phenomenon. This is like the new hydroxychloroquine. So, you know, the data -- they`re -- it`s curious, you know, specialists in the field see it adds no value. Internet pundits think it`s salvation for all. So, what randomized controls have been done show it doesn`t work.


MADDOW: That was Mississippi State Health Officer Tomas Dobbs speaking on August 11th. As time has gone on, though, for the course of the month, he keeps getting asked. He`s getting a little exasperated with it every time it comes up.


DOBBS: Please work with your doctor. This is medical treatment. You wouldn`t get your chemotherapy at a feed store. I mean, you wouldn`t treat your phenomena with your animal`s medication. It could be dangerous to get the wrong doses of medications especially if it`s meant for a horse or a cow.


MADDOW: Mississippi state health officer. Like I said, this is not confined to one part of the country where some rumor went wild. It`s all over the place now. Here is the governor of Arkansas trying to talk people off the same ledge.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: The Department of Health advises people to never take any medication intended to treat animals and to only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician. And Dr. Romero might have additional items to say about that, but I think it`s got to the point where it`s important for us to make that public announcement that you have to be careful and not take that which is designed for large animals.


MADDOW: It`s got to the point where I seriously have to do this.

Just like hydroxychloroquine, which is a fine medicine for some things, but it`s not effective against COVID. Just like that drug was inexplicably promoted by the Fox News Channel, particularly its prime time host, as well as by former President Trump, a bunch of people on the Fox News Channel, including all of their primetime hosts, have all promoted the idea that people should take ivermectin as a COVID therapeutic or as a preventative, even as they have repeatedly cast out on vaccinations, which are a preventative.


This drug has also been promoted by people like Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who brought in a guy who called ivermectin a miracle drug and had that doctor testified at the Homeland Security Committee about it.

It has been promoted inexplicably by the popular podcaster Joe Rogan, for some reason. Okay? It has also been promoted by the snake oil online sales folks who brought you the threat of demon sperm and alien DNA, with the endorsement of then President Donald Trump, since he like the look of them in a white coat more than he like the look of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

All of that has been building for months now. What we are seeing right now, though, is a huge spike just in recent weeks in people taking these livestock medications, people being so desperate that they are taking animal formulations of this stuff. So much that it is sold out now even online.

And what`s driving it locally and immediately, these last few weeks appears to be a couple of things. Number one, I am very sorry to say, it appears to be driven in part by the tidal wave of new infections and people getting very sick and people dying, particularly in the South and particularly in communities where people do not want to take the vaccine. I mean, it is one thing to not want to take the vaccine when you think that COVID is a hoax, when COVID is killing people all around you and in your family, perhaps you would still like to think that the COVID vaccine is a hoax.

But desperation and fear may yet drive you to try other things. And the charlatans and the profiteers in the anti-vax movement is happy to sell the other things to you, in that instance. So part of it, it appears to be driven by increasing desperation by people who are experiencing COVID sickness and death in their lives.

But there is another thing fueling it, too. Specifically in recent weeks, and I do not want to point any fingers here but it starts with F and rhymes with Acebook.

NBC reporter Ben Collins has plunged into that slimy underworld of how this stuff is being promoted and sold and weaponize against the ill. He joins us next. Stay with us.



MADDOW: We have got some breaking news for you right now that we just received word, I am just going to read this to you verbatim. The following statement is attributable to Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

U.S. military forces have conducted and over the horizon counter-terrorism operation today, against an ISIS-K planner. The unmanned air strike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. Nangarhar Province is in far eastern Afghanistan, the capital of Nangarhar province is Jalalabad, which is a probably a city you have heard of.

Back to the statement from CentCom, initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties.

Again, this is breaking news, this has just come out within the past couple of minutes from U.S. Central Command. This is the only information that we have got at this point. This comes following a few recent developments that may be relevant here. Obviously, President Biden said and pointed terms yesterday in his evening address to the nation, that the U.S. would hunt down the people responsible for that bombing yesterday.

We will find you, we will make you pay. He said that he had directed U.S. military commanders to develop a plan to strike back at ISIS-K, ISIS Khorasan, the ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan that claimed responsibility for the attack at Kabul airport.

We did, just moments before we got on the air tonight, we`ve got a new pointed warning from the U.S. embassy in Kabul, advising U.S. citizens to leave the airport vicinity immediately. This was the same sort of warning from the U.S. embassy that preceded, by a matter of hours, the last ISIS-K attack at the Kabul airport, that killed so many Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members.

But again, after that attack, after the warnings of that attack from U.S. officials, after the attack happened, after President Biden said that we would find those responsible and make them pay and that he was telling U.S. military commanders to come up with a plan for doing so, after another very pointed warning of another potential attack, tonight, just a last few minutes U.S. military saying that they tracked down and killed a planner, presumably the attention here is that this is one of the planners behind the Kabul airport attack.

Again, this is breaking news, just happening right now helping us understand, joining us by phone I believe is NBC News correspondent covering national security and Pentagon, our own Courtney Kube.

Courtney, thanks for joining us. I know this is breaking right now, thanks for helping us understand.


So we know a little bit more about this, Rachel. At this point, this was someone who was an ISIS planner and involved in planning for future attacks by ISIS. The individual was riding in a vehicle at the time of this drone strike, the U.S. military is confident that they took out this person. Apparently, he was with some sort of an associate. They`re saying that right now they don`t have any reports of civilian casualties in this. In fact, they were in a vehicle and they were in an isolated area at the time.

So this occurred in Nangarhar Province, which is in eastern part of Afghanistan, east of Kabul. And it has been known to have an ISIS-K presence for several years now. In fact, it is an area in which there has been a lot of fighting between ISIS-K and the Taliban, believe it or not. So, it is not a surprise that this would be where they might try and find someone who might be involved in the planning or the command and control, or someone who is in more of a leadership position of ISIS. So it`s not a big ISIS present overall in Afghanistan, it is estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 to maybe as much as 1,200 total fighters.


But what we have learned from just this week that was just a small number of fighters, ISIS can carry out a spectacular attack and a very deadly attack that we saw at Kabul airport yesterday, Rachel.

MADDOW: Courtney, there has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks as to whether or not the U.S. would maintain offensive capacity in Afghanistan, even after withdrawing U.S. troops. And President Biden has spoken very confidently about and over the horizon counter-terrorism capability, to strike counter-terrorism to strike terrorist targets at America`s choosing, at the time and place of our choosing. What do we know about the over horizon nature of this attack, they described it as a drone strike.

Is this is sort of thing that could have been done with no U.S. troops inside Afghanistan, or is this the sort of drone strike for which it matter that their U.S. troops on the ground?

KUBE: So, this was part of that across the horizon presence that you mentioned, or over the horizon presence. So basically, what that will look like is the U.S. will have a number of air assets, largely unmanned, that will be parked in a couple of neighboring areas. And when they have we when there is a U.S. military presence still in the country right now, there is still about 5400 troops right now at Kabul airport. But they are not really gathering intelligence in the same way that the U.S., even with 2500 troops and their only a month or two ago, before the drawdown was really completed.

The troops were at Kabul airport, they are focused on one mission and that is evacuation and maintaining security around the airport. People may be surprised to know that prior to the drawdown, when the U.S. still had a presents a larger presence in Afghanistan, they shared a lot of intelligence with the Afghans. And the Afghan military actually provided a lot of intelligence on groups like ISIS-K. That is one of the things that will be lost in the loss of the Afghan military presence in and in the Taliban takeover.

The Afghan military no longer has them as a partner together and share intelligence with. So now, the U.S. will have to rely on and they won`t have the human intelligence sources that they have the, ground so they will rely on overhead, signaled intelligence that intercepts satellite constellations, you know, they have the ability to get things from overhead. But they are nowhere near the same picture they used to have. So I guess the short we have saying it is, they still have eyes on but the picture is much bloodier than it was six months or even a year ago.

MADDOW: And, Courtney, are we even expecting that this, what you are describing, as a drone strike on a vehicle carrying a man said to be an ISIS k planner, involved in planning for future attacks. That is a pretty specific description about what the pentagon says happened in Nangarhar province tonight. Do we expect that this is an opening act, do we expect that this is stand-alone? Should we expect there to be additional attacks like this, additional targets?

KUBE: So there are likely additional targets that exists that the Pentagon is continuing to develop on. But in a case like this, this is going to be a policy decision on the White House. They are going to have to make the decision on how they want to respond to this attack in Kabul airport yesterday.

This is a very real, what we are hearing about tonight is a direct retaliation for what occurred at Kabul airport. The U.S. has not been regularly taking counterterror strikes in Afghanistan. In fact, the last one we know about was in February of 2020, a year and a half ago. So this is a very direct retaliation for what happened at Kabul airport.

The Biden administration is going to have to make a decision about how they want to respond. They want to take out something like this that is a retaliation, it may have an impact on future planning and future operations. But this is not going to decapitate ISIS in any way, in that country. T

his is a response to send a message. Or do they want to do something bigger? Do they want to do something that would really have an impact on ISIS separation going forward?

And the next big question they`re going to have to answer is, do they want to make a bigger splash here, do they want to do it while there is still 5000 U.S. troops on there, or do they want to wait?

U.S. troops are still on track for a full withdrawal by August 31st, just a couple of days away. But again, one thing that viewers should know is it is very clear that this specific strike tonight, this specific drone strike is a direct retaliation against ISIS-K, for the attack at Kabul airport yesterday.


MADDOW: Courtney, let me just ask you one last question. Looking at this map although I was speaking, I was struck by the location of the Nangarhar province and the fact that it is a border province right up against the Pakistani border. So much of the strategy and the difficulty of fighting this war against the Taliban and other extremist militants Afghanistan over all these years has been the coarseness of that border and indeed, the support in Pakistan for so many of the fighters who sought refuge there and essentially we`re able to refuel, resupply, and shelter there, even while there were tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan looking for them.

Is this the sort of thing happening in that part of eastern Afghanistan that the U.S. talks to Pakistan about, that they have to deconflict with Pakistan or might that created diplomatic situation with that country?

KUBE: So, as long as they are staying on the Afghan side of the border, they do not generally conflicts in any kinds of operations. What is going to be difficult going forward here is the fact that the Taliban have now taken over Afghanistan. And they are, in many cases, particularly in Kabul right now, they are aligning with the Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network, another terror group, they have very strong ties to the Pakistani intelligence services, the ISI.

So now that the government is going to be very intertwined with Pakistan, it is going to be once again across roads for the Pakistani government and U.S. relations. Will Pakistan help the U.S.? Will they, you know, be a partner or will they align more with the Taliban and then potentially other nefarious groups? Al Qaeda and others?

I mean, if the most recent history is gives us any signal of what might happen here, in many cases, the Pakistani intelligence services have not aligned with the U.S. states -- they have aligned with the Haqqani network and others. Just to give you a sense of something I`m sure that our viewers are very well aware of, the -- that was launched out of Nangarhar province in Jalalabad, into Pakistan and as we all know, Pakistanis were not given any kind of heads up that the U.S. relaunching that rate.

And again, since we are just talking to what happened on the Afghan side of the border, most likely there was not a heads up to the Pakistanis before the attack.

MADDOW: Yeah, the long term consequences of all of these things, the way these things play out overtime becomes more and more opaque with all of these pieces changing, all of these dynamics changing at once. NBC`s Courtney Kube, thank you very much for short notice. I have a feeling that we will talking you again as we have more information about this over the course of the night.

KUBE: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Again, Courtney Kube helping us break that news which we have just learned from spokesman for Central Command, the United States government, the United States military has retaliated for the ISIS-K, ISIS Khorasan attack on the Kabul airport yesterday. That attack it said to have killed 170 to 200 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members.

President Biden said last night that the United States would find those responsible and make them pay, a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan in Nangarhar province tonight has reportedly killed an ISIS-K planner, according to Courtney Kube`s reporting, one involved in planning for future attacks.

We`ll have more as we learn more. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So we have a crackerjack reporter at NBC News called Ben Collins. And Ben covers three beats, disinformation, extremism and the internet. It`s kind of a standard workday for Ben, it`s kind of dark day.

But this new, weird, and increasingly dangerous trend of people pushing sheep dip, cattl e dewormer, horse dewormer, scabies cream, ivermectin, as if it is a miracle cure for COVID. It is unfortunately hitting all of Ben Collins is beats these days.

One of the big groups pushing disinformation about this drug is a pro-Trump anti-vax group called America`s Frontline Doctors. Their founder was arrested after allegedly participating in an attack on the capital on January 6th. And while promoting ivermectin as a cure for COVID is something of a standard Fox News primetime segment these days, the misinformation and promotion of it turns out to be a lot bigger online, particularly in gigantic Facebook groups I had no idea existed.

But they have created a whole ecosystem to push this stuff and to support people`s decision to use it, instead of, say, getting vaccinated.

Ben Collins, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.


MADDOW: So one thing that I have been trying to nail down here, is what is driving of the sudden increase in this as a phenomenon, right? We have seen the hydroxychloroquine. We have seen other stuff promoted as miracle cures for COVID in the past. We have seen our colleagues at the Fox News Channel, sadly, promote these seriously. But why is this ivermectin taking off right now?

COLLINS: So, it comes at the end of the year, barnstorming, from groups like America`s Frontline Doctors, who were, by the way, selling ivermectin on the side through consultations as well. So they stirred up a bunch of interest in this thing by going, literally, church to church or school to cool, all throughout the country. And saying, you cannot trust the vaccine, don`t inject something, in just something. Take something else. And the thing they have decided to ingest is ivermectin, but a solid as pills. That is a normal thing to take. You figure people are comfortable with bills.

The problem is demand got so high that these people on the Facebook group were desperate to find it anywhere.


And they found it at the feet store.

MADDOW: In terms of these Facebook groups, Facebook has taken pains to say they have done more than anybody to counter COVID misinformation and they don`t allow ads for pharmaceutical drugs or this sort of stuff. And they take down this information whenever they find it.

Your reporting suggests that Facebook may actually be the single largest dynamic right now, promoting the stuff, encouraging people to try it, encouraging people to not give up if people try to talk them out of it, telling people how to dose, where to get it, what to do if they feel sick from getting it. It does feels like these Facebook groups are, more than anything, driving this phenomenon right now, once those groups created the demand in the first place.

COLLINS: Yeah, it`s Facebook and Reddit. Facebook has this one group that has over 25,000 members called Ivermectin MD team. He would think that there are doctors and they are giving advice. But the commenters are not doctors. They are just random people trying to same the same or space as everyone else.

If you get the paste version of this, it tastes truly terrible. They cannot stand a taste of it, it`s very bad, so they try to find other ways to deal with it, through injection or other means I can`t talk about on television. It is grim stuff and people are overdosing because they have no idea what a milligram is versus a gram.

They are taking a lot. And that`s why you see these calls to poison control centers throughout the country.

MADDOW: And, Ben, you mentioned Reddit they are being another source of misinformation, sort of accelerant for this. You`ve recently reported that some other people on Reddit have taken a more constructive or maybe destructive approach trying to on why or read it, so that the groups on Reddit promoting this to have to confront reality.

COLLINS: Yeah, the thing you have to remember is that the majority of people are not like this. They are not looking around for horse medicine. And that is true for every online community whether it`s Facebook or Reddit or whatever. Reddit had been overrun with people trying to brigade other communities, telling people to take ivermectin. Regular people have stood up, saying two executives that this is enough. We have to stop this.

Executives responded in kind and said, guess what, we are not going to do anything. This is all about discourse and discussion. That old trope that you hear from Silicon Valley executives. So these users banded together and have taken over the ivermectin sub-Reddit, that used to be people talking about putting it on crackers, so it would taste less bad. So there is a bit of a triumph here and maybe a playbook for the future as. Well

MADDOW: Ben Collins, senior reporter at NBC News, covering disinformation and the Internet -- Ben, thanks for helping us understand this. Congratulations on this reporting. You finally made it make sense to me.

COLLINS: Thank you. Thanks a lot.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: This is just one of those Friday nights and it is likely to be a very busy news weekend again. Again the breaking news this hour that the U.S. military has retaliated, has launched a strike against ISIS-K, ISIS Khorasan, in eastern Afghanistan, in retaliation for the ISIS attack that killed so many U.S. service members and Afghans at the airport yesterday. Also, we are watching what is a large hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans specifically. Hurricane Ida is going to be a huge deal over the course of this weekend. You need to keep an eye on it. We hope that it turns and it doesn`t end up on the track that it looks like it is on tonight. And if you are in the path of Hurricane Ida, please, please pay attention to local evacuation warnings and forecasts. Heed these warnings, it is a big storm.

All right. That`s going to do it for us for now.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD". Jonathan Capehart is in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Jonathan. It`s a big night already.