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Transcript: The ReidOut, 8/16/21

Guests: Nida Khan, Bobby Ghosh, Tom Nichols, Vin Gupta, Garry Pierre-Pierre


Taliban takes over Afghanistan after government collapse. Biden says the Afghan military collapsed. U.S. is sending additional troops to Kabul. Video shows Taliban at presidential palace. Military administration officials have claimed for years that we`ve been making progress on Afghanistan. Taliban religious scholar says, Taliban fight for belief while the army and police fight for money. President Biden makes first remarks after fall of Kabul. Thousand of Afghans rush to Kabul airport. Taliban spokesman vows not to punish those who helped Americans. COVID cases are surging in states with low vaccination rates. Humanitarian teams are racing against the clock after another devastating earthquake in Haiti with a tropical storm bearing down on an island already reeling from COVID, and the recent assassination of its president.


JOY RIED, MSNBC HOST: Cheers my friend, I appreciate you.

All right good evening everyone. And we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the un-pretty reality of the end of America`s longest war. And as we speak, the Taliban is in full control of Afghanistan. They even changed the name to the Islamic Emirate. It was an ending that few in the media at least anticipated given that coverage of the war had declined to a minimum over the last decade, even as thousands of troops remained in that country in harm`s way.

Now, it`s less clear what the Biden administration expected, though the president today indicated that the speed of the Taliban takeover took them at least somewhat by surprise. Now, in any case, the Taliban has now seized control of the country. Two decades after they were driven from Kabul by U.S. and NATO troops in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

The collapse of the western-backed Afghan government was part of the big unpleasant surprise. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani quickly fled. The Afghan flag has been lowered and devastating images are emerging from the capital city. Thousands of people swarmed the tarmac hoping to flee on a departing U.S. military plane at Kabul airport, while others clung to the side of the plane.

It`s among these scenes of chaos that President Biden today made his first comments on the crisis since the fall of Kabul on Sunday.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I stand squarely behind my decision.

We were clear-eyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency, but I always promised the American people that I would be straight with you. The truth is this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated. So what`s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed.

American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.


REID: By standing firm on his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the president also offered a visceral reminder of the living cost of war.


BIDEN: How many more lives, American lives, is it worth. How many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery? I`m clear on my answer.

We`ll end America`s longest war.

I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.


REID: Now, it is not, however, the end of the war for Afghans, many of whom are now fearing for their lives, either because they helped U.S. troops or because they had begun to enjoy the freedoms of living in a more modern era, an open society under the protection of American troops. Those who have to fear the most from the arch-conservative religious zealot Taliban are girls and women, including one of Afghanistan`s female mayors, who said to a British newspaper that she is waiting for the Taliban to come and kill her.

While the pressure is on President Biden to figure out how to free as many Afghans who want out as possible, this crisis wasn`t born eight days ago. It`s been a decades` long war that we have been steadily losing, and as the Washington Post reported in 2019, throughout those years, senior U.S. Officials failed to tell the truth, making rosy pronouncements that they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence that the war had become unwinnable. They note that U.S. generals almost always preach that the war is progressing well no matter the reality on the battlefield.

And while the Bush administration started and then largely abandoned the Afghan war to send most of the U.S. troops to Iraq, and the Obama administration, got Osama Bin Laden but still kept the war going, the current withdrawal plan was authored by the third president in line to fight the nation dubbed the death of empires, Donald Trump. It was Donald Trump who wrote America`s exit strategy and bragged about it. In fact, Trump campaigned on ending endless wars, a sentiment popular with Americans on the right and on the left.

But it`s how Trump negotiated the end of the war that set the stage for the problems that we`re seeing now. His secretary of state, Mike Pompeo sat down with the Taliban in Qatar after cooler heads prevented Trump from inviting the Taliban to Camp David for talks. He agreed to the release of some 5,000 prisoners and relaxed sanctions on Taliban officials. Many of those released prisoners went right back to the battlefield to fight for the Taliban. And the Washington Post reports that the deal left Afghan soldiers demoralized.

And after Biden announced his plans for withdrawal, basically picking up the Trump timeline and extending it by a few months, Trump said that getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do, though he`s now deleted that from his website.


At that time, in April of this year, the Taliban already controlled or were contesting up to half of the country.

Joining me now is Independent Journalist Nida Khan, Bobby Ghosh of Bloomberg Opinion Editorial Board Member and Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the Associated Press.

Nida, I want to start with you, because you and I were texting about this over the weekend as I was watching the coverage take place and you sent me an article that you had written in 2019 in which it sounded like you could have written it this weekend. You talked about the collapse of the war strategy and the fact that the Taliban had basically taken over half the country. Talk to me a little bit about the conditions that were existing before the withdrawal and the collapse of Kabul.

NIDA KHAN, INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST: Yes, thank you so much for having me, Joy. I`m really happy to be on your show, but it`s so unfortunate that it`s under these circumstances. You know, first and foremost, I want to give my thoughts at Afghani people, to the other foreign nationals that are there, you know, literally clinging on to any hope that they can, desperate for their lives. You know, you just showed the images of people jumping out of plane, the level of desperation and the heartache. I mean, you can`t even watch some of these videos. It`s so, so tragic.

And thank you also for highlighting that piece that I did in 2019 because, unfortunately, you know, we don`t pay enough attention to international news on a large level. You know, we might do a little bit of coverage here and there, there are tons of great reporters that are doing coverage, but they`re in the national conversation. It`s not raised to the level that it should be. And the piece that I did in 2019 was on -- it touched on the Afghanistan papers that you just mentioned and on the fact that civilians have been dying left and right from all ends of the spectrum for years.

In 2018, it was Amnesty International and the United States assistance mission in Afghanistan that said that the highest levels of civilians that were killed in Afghanistan was in that year, including the highest number of children that were killed, and at that time, just in the first half of the 2019, the Taliban gained more territory than at any other time since 2001. So it begs the question what everybody is asking now, what were we doing for the last two decades.

And the American people really need to hold our elected officials, our military officials and everybody accountable because we have not received a full accounting for the $2 trillion that have been spent, and instead, we`ve seen tens of thousands of Afghani civilians that have been killed, thousands of our own soldiers that have been killed, Afghani soldiers that have been killed and all for what.

You know, and, meanwhile, other people have been profiting off of this. We could get into a conversation about, you know, contractors and people that have made money from this, but instead of spending that $2 million over there, that money could have been spent here. And why have people like George Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, all the neo-cons in 2001 that brought us to this place, into this position, why have they all been able to walk off into the sunset? You know, George Bush is off painting somewhere. He gave Michelle Obama a piece of candy one time, so all is forgiven. I mean, it`s just outrageous that there`s no accountability for all of this madness that has been done.

REID: You know, and one of the things that`s been going on, Bobby, is there`s been a lot of sort of happy talk coming out regardless of the fact that even Liz Cheney said look, lots of presidents bear responsibility, she didn`t mention her dad`s administration, that quit the war to go over and fight in Iraq, and left very few troops behind after we`d actually made some successes.

But one of the things that has been going on is -- let me just play for you, these are from 2008, 2011, and 2016. These were various, you know, military leaders talking about how, in their view, the war was going.


MAJOR GENERAL JEFFREY SCHLOESSER, COMMANDER, 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION: The truth is that I feel like, you know, we`re making some steady progress. It`s a slow win I guess is probably what we`re accomplishing right over here.

LEON PANETTA, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We have not won. We have not completed this mission. But I do believe we are in the process of making significant progress here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen definitive growth and progress in a couple of areas.


REID: That`s not what I`m reading about the way things were actually going, Bobby.

BOBBY GHOSH, BLOOMBERG OPINION EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, you know, politicians and sometimes generals will say things like that because they`re speaking to a particular constituency and for particular political or some funding requirements. But the fact is we`ve had brave colleagues, journalists on the ground for the past 20 years warning repeatedly over and over again that things were going badly.

Plenty of nongovernment agencies, plenty of human rights organizations, plenty of independent observers were making the same comment over and over again. It won`t do now for any American administration, current or past, to claim that they were misinformed.


Plenty of sources of information if you only choose to pay attention to the ones that fit your own narrative, then the blame lies on you and not on what is going on in the ground.

It`s really disheartening, for instance, to hear President Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan now say, well, the Afghans didn`t stand in and fight. 66,000 Afghan soldiers and policemen have died in the past 20 years. 66,000 have died fighting the Taliban. It is dishonorable to claim that they didn`t do their part. That is -- to give you context, that is 20 times the American casualties in Afghanistan. These people have fought, fought bravely, fought to the best of their abilities. They were poorly trained, and by contractors who have very little oversight and very little accountability, and yet they fought.

And so it`s very distressing to hear -- I`m now in London, but to follow the conversation that`s taking place in Washington, where people seem to be rewriting history, rewriting facts as they play out on the ground, and pretending we could not have seen this coming. Yes, we could, yes, we did, we said so repeatedly. If people weren`t listening, it`s on them.

REID: Well, I mean, the one thing that I will say, I`ll stick with you for a moment, Bobby, that I think one person who didn`t stay and fight was the president of Afghanistan. I mean, he`s fled the country. He didn`t seem to stick around long to try to defend his people, and while you had a lot of brave Afghans who fought, obviously fought beside us who were now trying to quickly get out of the country.

It was really interesting piece by a guy named Carter Malcauzian, and he talked about the fact after speaking with a Taliban religious scholar, the difference between the Afghan army and the Taliban is that the Taliban fight for belief, for Janat, heaven and Ghazi, killing infidels, the army and police fight for money. The Taliban are willing to lose their head to fight. How can the army and police compete?

So it seems to me that one of the things -- I`m not obviously an expert in this, but as soon as the American backing and all of the infrastructure was gone, it wasn`t a hard conversion for the Taliban to take over. So I don`t know if that`s impugning Afghan fighters more generally, but it doesn`t seem like they had the same fight in them anymore, perhaps because they were demoralized.

GHOSH: You know, once you remove air power, then it becomes hard for ground forces. No American ground forces anywhere in the world fight without air cabal (ph). It`s a little unrealistic and unreasonable to expect other armies to do likewise. We in the United States have a professional army, people who go to war for salaries. It`s not unreasonable for Afghans to do likewise.

Could there have been stronger fighting, yes they could have. Did the president of Afghanistan send a terrible message by fleeing, absolutely, he did. Perhaps he remembers what happened to the last president who did not flee when extremists took over his capital. He was hung from a lamp post in Kabul. That`s not to suggest the current president should have done the same thing. And by the way, he is armed in Afghanistan. We helped prop him- up. We helped keep him in power despite has been profoundly unpopular, despite him being profoundly corrupt.

So, you know, yes. This is not necessarily an argument for the Afghans to be completely exonerated but we have to understand that they didn`t simply walk away from a fight. They were badly led, they were badly trained, they were badly let down by their own political leadership as well as by the United States.

REID: Jonathan, let`s go to the United States administration for a moment because I think one of the real casualties of this, and I would have to argue the Iraq war as well, is this idea of the United States nation building, right, going around, attempting sort of Iraq, sort of western style democracies in places where we`re fighting a war for another reason.

In this case, you know, the president was really blunt in making -- I was tweeting this earlier. It`s kind of ironic that he is the one kind of making the America first argument that we`re not going to send another troop to go and die in a country where it`s not clear what the mission is at this point since we`ve gotten bin Laden. What is the White House thinking now? Because, you know, there is a sense that they are working on trying to expedite visas. There`s talk of up to 20,000 people who could come out sort of under State Department auspices and getting out the people who helped us. But beyond that, what is the thinking on what our role would be there. Anyway, it seems like they pretty -- kind of pretty firmly that it`s to protect American interests and that`s it.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, the president was remarkably candid today, Joy, in his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan that we shouldn`t be nation building, he argued, that our mission there was to find Osama bin Laden, route Al Qaeda, force the Taliban out, and prevent Afghanistan from being a safe harbor for terror groups.


And he said, for over 20 years, for the most part that happened, and it was time to come out. And he said he was not going to, he said that emphatically. He was not going to ask a fifth U.S. president to be the commander in chief of forces in Afghanistan. Certainly, his decision to withdraw troops received a lot of criticism from both sides of the aisle and in the international community. He defended vociferously today his decision to leave.

Now, what he did not do was offer a defense of how the exit has taken part, and I think it would be hard to muster much of that. The U.S. officials acknowledged they were caught by surprise by how quickly the Taliban advance, yes, they blamed the Afghan forces for more or less laying down their arms for part of it. But they admit they were caught off guard and that led to these horrific images at the airport in Kabul today with people falling to their death, trying to cling on to an airplane as it took off from the airstrip there.

But we don`t expect a course correction here. The president was firm on that. Yes, he sent a few thousand troops there this weekend to help with the evacuations, to get U.S. personnel out, to try to get Afghan citizens, translators in particular who helped the U.S. for years to try to get them to safety. But there wouldn`t be a return to any sort of occupying force, to any sort of permanent presence. He made clear that`s not what he wants to do.

And, in fact, his aides have said the swift collapse of the Afghan government the recent days actually affirms their decision to leave, basically making this argument, that if we were there for 20 years, White House aides say, and this is what we got, we spent 20 years, and trillions of dollars and to see the Afghan forces get overrun in a matter of weeks, what we would have done, what difference would it have made to spend another six months to a year. So there`s no second guessing the decision to leave but there is some questions being asked about how they chose to do it.

REID: Yes. And I think the main point now is what they do next in terms of making sure the people who want to get out.

I want to very quickly, before we lose you guys, play a little bit of Taliban spokesperson, I mean, they`re definitely feeling pretty good about things so they`re off doing T.V. Spokesman Suhail Shaheen did an interview with our great colleague, Ayman Mohyeldin, earlier, claiming that they`re not going to punish those who worked with the Americans. Take a listen.


AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: But will you punish those who worked with the Americans?


MOHYELDIN: Will you punish those that worked with the Americans.

SHAHEEN: We will not punish them and we will not force an arrest to them, to their property and to their life. It is our policy. We have issued an official statement in this regard.


REID: It would seem that it is in the interest of this Taliban government if they want to not be an international pariah to not openly start going after people who helped Americans, at least that`s what you would assume. But I want you to speak to that because it`s hard to believe that when you know the history of the Taliban.

KHAN: Oh, please, exactly, like we`re supposed to believe him and believe the Taliban? We`re already seeing reports of him going door to door, even harassing journalists that were reporting on this, people that were helping the United States and other western forces that were there. So we`re already seeing a huge backlash. This is why we`re seeing so many Afghani people literally trying to run for their lives.

And it`s so tragic, it`s so sad, and it`s the innocent civilians that are always caught in the middle of this. You know, it`s something like 2.8 million refugees in the world are Afghani refugees, basically about one in ten. And let`s remember during the Trump years, we lowered the refugee admission to the lowest possible level that it ever had been and also many European countries had shut their door to refugees and sent them back to places like Afghanistan, and that was before all of this happened.

So I cannot even imagine what`s going to take place afterwards. In countries, you know neighboring countries like Pakistan has something like 1.4 million Afghani refugees, Iran has about a million, and now you`re seeing a huge influx that`s going to be going there as well too. And you`re talking about destabilizing those countries even further and that entire region. It`s just horrible all around.

REID: Yes.

KHAN: And I just really wish that the American people will hold our leaders more accountable and for the younger people that are watching to remember that all the anti-war protests and the people who did speak out in 2001 were instantly labeled unpatriotic or un-American. I was called a terrorist sympathizer, like all kinds of crazy things. And now, look, 20 years later suddenly everybody is like, oh, we shouldn`t have gone in.

REID: And by the way, again --

GHOSH: And, Joy --

REID: Yes, very quickly. Go ahead, Bobby.

GHOSH: Yes, it`s worth pointing out that we should take no comfort in the idea that the Taliban will behave in one way or another, because, otherwise, they will become international pariahs. Becoming pariah suits them perfectly and want nothing more than to be left alone to run their country to the ground. They do not care about being part of any international community. They do not care about aid. They do not care about foreign investments.


REID: Yes.

GHOSH: We should not expect them to behave in what we would consider a rational behavior.

REID: Well, we will definitely be watching. Unfortunately, that sounds pretty realistic to me.

Nida Khan, Bobby Ghosh, Jonathan Lemire, thank you all very much.

And up next on THE REIDOUT: the politics of the end of the war in Afghanistan, and the brazen, but probably predictable hypocrisy from the right.

Plus: Pfizer makes its case for a third COVID vaccination shot, as the fight continues to get even -- as the fight continues to get even one shot into the arms of millions of Americans.

And if not for Afghanistan, the devastation in Haiti would be the biggest story in the world, more than 1,000 lives lost in Saturday`s earthquake, just the latest in a series of crushing blows for the Caribbean nation.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not repeat the mistakes we`ve made in the past, the mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interests of the United States, of doubling down on a civil war in a foreign country, of attempting to remake a country through the endless military deployments of U.S. forces.


It is not what the American people want. It is not what our troops, who have sacrificed so much over the past two decades, deserve.


REID: In his remarks on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden acknowledged that, as commander in chief, the buck stops with him.

But as he faces attacks from the right and unrelenting criticism from the media, it`s important to remember that this withdrawal, again, didn`t begin under his administration. It was Biden`s predecessor who not only set the plan in motion, but who continued to defend it over just this summer.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I started the process. All the troops are coming back home. They couldn`t stop the process.


TRUMP: Twenty-one years is enough, don`t we think? Twenty-one years. They couldn`t stop the process. They wanted to, but it was very tough to stop the process.


REID: Joining me now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and the author of a new newsletter, "This Land," and Tom Nichols, contributing writer for "The Atlantic," one of my favorite contrarians, Tom.

I want to go with you first.

I find it ironic, right? The one thing that sort of Trump-curious liberals liked about him and found un -- not objectionable about him was this thing he would say about no more endless wars. They agreed with that, right?

And now it is ironic in a way that it`s Biden -- let me play this for you. This is Biden voicing the non-sort of white nationalist version of America first pretty bluntly in his interview with CBS -- with CBS. Take a listen.


QUESTION: But then don`t you bear some responsibility for the outcome, if the Taliban ends up back in control and women end up losing the rights...

BIDEN: No, I don`t.

Look, are you telling me that we should go into China because -- go to war with China because what they`re doing to the Uyghurs, a million Uyghurs in the west in concentration camps?

The responsibility I have is to protect America`s national self-interest, and not put our women and men in harm`s way to try to solve every single problem in the world by use of force.


REID: I mean, like it or not, Tom, I think most Americans agree with that.

TOM NICHOLS, "THE ATLANTIC": And that`s why we`re pulling out.

I mean, the criticism here is that Biden is screwing up the execution of an idea that everybody wants to do. And I -- and I think he`s going to have to own that. I think this will be a case study in a bad policy execution of a good policy for a long time to come, because the more immediate things about, are there enough -- did we get enough people out, are there enough planes, these are things that are within Biden`s control, and he can`t lay them off on his predecessor.

But Biden is right that the American people, insofar as they seem to care about this, or when they choose to care about it, have consistently said for three or four, really, if you count the end of Bush`s administration, that, to every president, we want you to leave this place.

And every president says, well, I`d really like to, but I can`t because of bureaucracy and alliance issues and military advice and so on. And Biden finally just said, OK, I`m going to give you what you want.

And now there are people saying, well, I didn`t really want that. I didn`t know that pulling out was going to look like this.

Well, there was no version of this that ended differently. There were versions of it that may be ended with less bloodshed and less horror and less just chaos on the ground. But the Taliban taking over this country again, that was what the American public, whether it realized it or not, that`s what they said they preferred over staying there.

REID: Yes.

And also, the Taliban, it`s not like they`re different now than they were before. This is how they are, right? So this is what one should have expected.

David, the thing that is very difficult to listen to is Republicans screaming that there should be -- Kevin McCarthy ripping the strategy, calling for investigations. He won`t even investigate the January 6 insurrection.

Some other random Republican, Jeff Van Drew, saying Biden, Kamala Harris and Speaker Pelosi all should resigned. Rick Scott, the guy who took a bunch of money -- his company took a bunch of money from Medicaid and Medicare and Tricare, serious questions of Joe Biden`s removal from office.

None of these people care about this. It`s hard for me to listen to, because you had 16 House Republicans vote against more visas for Afghan allies. They didn`t want those people to come here. Now they`re acting like they care so much about them.

You had the -- Mike Pompeo posing in a picture with the guy who`s now running Afghanistan, saying, look at this great deal that we put together.

This was Trump`s policy, and they loved it. Now they`re deleting all of their tweets, and even Trump is deleting his -- there it is. There`s Mike Pompeo.

Your thoughts, David?

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course, Trump last year, wanted to have a summit with the Taliban on 9/11 at Camp David. And people thought, well, he finally was talked out of that.


For 20 years, the American public has been fed nothing but lies -- I hate to say that -- nothing but lies about Afghanistan about what we could do there and what we couldn`t do there.

You referenced this earlier on in the show, the story "The Washington Post" in 2019. Doug Lute, who was the Afghan czar for both the Bush, George W. Bush administration, and Barack Obama, in 2015 told government interviewers, we don`t know what we`re doing. We have no clue. We`re devoid of a fundamental understanding of what`s happening in Afghanistan.

And he was the guy in charge.

And so now we get to this point where none of those Republicans who are speaking out now, and I would say many of the Democrats actually too, never cared about the steady flow of lies that was -- I have to say this -- was bipartisan. It happened during the Obama/Biden administration as well that Joe Biden was part of.

So I think we have never had an honest debate, an honest discussion in this country. So we`re not prepared to look at what`s happening now, which is horrific. And I feel for the Afghans. And I do think there are questions about the implementation of this policy.

But we have never given a real damn collectively as a nation about what`s going on there, about the war, even the warriors who served who come back to silence and without much coverage in the media that we`re all a part of.

It`s -- but to see the Republicans out trying to exploit the lies, the ignorance, the uncaring just to score political points, while Afghans are truly in a troubled condition, I want to say, Joy, I`m surprised.

REID: Yes.

CORN: But I`m not.

REID: Yes, surprise is dead, along with irony.

I mean, look, the RNC had a piece up that you now get a 404 page error that was touting the withdrawal, right? So, it`s kind of difficult to see it.

I just want to know, what is the -- what`s the over/under on how fast the pivot goes, Tom, from we have failed the Afghans to you can`t bring 20,000 of those people here? They`re Muslim, right?

NICHOLS: That`s a sucker bet, because it`s already happening.

You know, there are Republicans already saying can`t bring those people here, you know, they -- that you can`t flood the United States with these terrible immigrants.

And the idea that the Republicans will make hay, I mean, that -- out of this -- is as predictable as a sunrise.

Part of the problem -- and I think this is the problem that Biden faced, and I think, really, I will even say that Trump faced -- the American public pretty much wanted to make decisions about this war based on wherever they think their political opponents weren`t.

REID: Right.

NICHOLS: And their biggest concern was, well, if the other guy might get credit, and this is something that makes me look like I`m agreeing with somebody else, then I have got to pick the other thing.

And the American -- the American public does not have a stable set of preferences about this, other than a kind of general reflex of getting out.

I will take issue with David about one thing about the lies. People like General Lute said this stuff in public. This wasn`t like some secret conclave behind the doors of the Pentagon. And the American public sort of shrugged and went, OK, well, there`s no more terrorist attack, and it`s all being done by volunteers, and I don`t want to think about it. I`m -- I have -- I have TV to watch.

REID: Yes. And we`re...

NICHOLS: And that is -- that really is on us.

REID: And the reality is, the way you know about it is that, after we got bin Laden during the Obama administration, most Americans didn`t give Afghanistan another thought, until right now, when they`re looking through their politics to see, how do I need to feel about this, based, as you said, on where your politics are, just like with the vaccine.

It`s just bananas. It`s where we are.

David Corn, Tom Nichols, thank you both. Really appreciate you.

Still ahead: important new information about the vaccine, booster shots, as U.S. health officials warn that unvaccinated Americans are -- quote -- "sitting ducks" for the potentially deadly Delta variant.

Stay with us.



REID: As the latest COVID surge rips through communities in all 50 states, the number of hospitalized children reached a record high over the weekend. And the number of hospitalized people in their 30s has also hit new highs.

The surge is most concentrated in the South, which has some of the lowest vaccination rates. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, called the unvaccinated people sitting ducks for the Delta variant. Collins said he wouldn`t be surprised if the nation sees 200,000 cases a day in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Texas, which is already facing a dire lack of ICU beds, requested five mortuary trailers from the federal government one day after the Texas Supreme Court backed up Republican Governor Greg Abbott`s idiotic mask mandate ban, temporarily halting orders in two counties. But the Dallas School District says it will continue with its order, despite the court`s decision.

And in yet another sign of how toxic and violent the fight has become over basic safety measures like masks, a standoff in front of Los Angeles City Hall over the weekend turned into a brawl between anti-vaccine protesters and counterprotesters.

"The L.A. Times" reports one man was stabbed. And a reporter for the local NPR station tweeted that he was shoved, kicked and his eyeglasses were ripped off his face.

Joining me now is Dr. Vin Gupta, critical care pulmonologist and health policy expert.

We have been down this entire road, Dr. Gupta. I was joking with my team that you have sort of become my TV primary care physician, I feel like we`re on TV so much together.

We have gone from being both in horror at the death toll to watching people beat up journalists and try to rip people`s masks off their faces over their disbelief that COVID is real.


I just as a physician have to get your -- how does that hit you?

DR. VIN GUPTA, CRITICAL CARE PULMONOLOGIST: Good evening, Joy. Great to see you.

You know, I`ll say this. I`m hopeful about what full approval of the vaccines, especially Pfizer by Labor Day will mean. Dominos, Joy, will fall. It`s going to allow the military to more comfortably mandate the vaccine, school districts, colleges, universities, other organizations.

However, I`m concerned about the winter ahead, and what do I mean by that? Will you in certain zip codes, Joy, be able to get the care you and your family speaking to all of your viewers out there in the zip codes in the southeastern United States, will they be able to get the care that they need and deserve if they need ICU level care. And what do I mean by that? Elective procedures now across the country, here in the Pacific Northwest are being delayed again, and people are tired of that.

Also what we`re noticing is the rise of other health threats are real and emerging in a big way. Respiratory virus, a big virus that can affect kids, usually December to February is causing children`s hospitals across the country to fill up with RSV patients.

So, this is a really critical time here for us to rethink, well, how do we think about care rationing in the ICU? Especially how might that motivate the unvaccinated to get vaccinated? This is where these types are key.

We should be thinking about the same paradigm for organ donation, responsible choices. You can`t get a liver if you had been drinking in the last six months.

REID: Yeah.

GUPTA: Well, it turns you shouldn`t -- you should be fully vaccinated if you get these advanced things like ECMO, dialysis, You name it, we can go into greater detail, but we need to have that paradigm.

REID: And to think -- you have to think that way. I`m looking at a "Huffington Post" headline. This is -- in Dallas County, there are zero ICU beds, not a few but zero ICU beds left for children.

You`re right, it`s getting harder for people, if you break your leg or have a heart attack, you`ve got to compete with COVID patients who I`m still watching video, you was watching Vice News video today of people with COVID denying they have COVID, and still saying they won`t get the vaccine.

Given that, how are we even going to move to the point of us doing booster shots when we can`t even get people to take the first shot?

GUPTA: Well, I think this is important, and this is why Pfizer and Moderna need to stop with the press releases and confusing the American public saying everybody needs a booster shot, and this is where public health needs to be clear here.

So, for all your viewers out there, Joy, we need to be clear about who needs the third shot, gotten two shots of a vaccine. I believe that you`re fully vaccinated with two shots for the vaccine, Pfizer and Moderna in this case. That third shot, we need to have an inclusive definition who is -- who has an immunocompromised medical condition. So, that`s somebody who had solid organ transplant, that`s in the high doses of medications, it`s the poorly controlled diabetic of which there are many across the country. That`s an immuno-compromising medical condition.

For the rest of us who are otherwise healthy, less than 65, you do not need a booster shot, and I agree with global health agencies that we need to be vaccinating the rest of the world.

REID: Yes, please send some to Jamaica, I was there not long ago, and barely like 3 or 4 percent vaccinated and they take COVID very seriously.

The last thing I have to ask you about, there have been a few breakthrough cases that have become news stories that turn people against getting vaccinated, the Southwest Airlines pilot who was flying back and forth, he was doing extra flights. He was young, he had taken, you know, both shots.

What do you say to people who say, well, see, that guy got vaccinated, and now he died of COVID?

GUPTA: I saw that story, and that`s an incredibly sad story, and that`s a one in a million case, in the case of an individual young, otherwise healthy, two shots, Joy, that happens one in a million times based on data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The incidents of breakthrough infection across 25 states, just testing positive was a rare event, one in 10,000 cases, much less ending up in the hospital.

So, that was a rare tragic event. These vaccines work, we need to trust in that, we need message on the broad data. And lastly if I may, research just came out, Joy, for everybody living in the country, since everybody is exposed to wildfire smoke, you in New York, me in Seattle, wildfire smoke diminishes, your immune system`s response, makes people more predisposed to infection with COVID.

What we need here is we need more people to think about quality of masking. We have talked about three ply masks, now we need to be thinking about KN95 masks. So, I know people talk about this, and I`m happy to answer questions off live. But KN95 masks, quality masks are vital.

REID: That is what I have now. I have moved up. I was doing the doctor mask under my clothe mask matched to my outfits but now I`m going with the KN95. And for planes, I go N95, I`m sorry, I go all the way when it comes to flying on a plane.


You got to be careful. It`s better to be masked than to be intubated. Think about that for a second. Listen to Dr. Gupta. Don`t be listening to your TikTok, whatever, people that you think are experts.

Dr. Vin Gupta, thank you very much. Really appreciate you.

And up next, humanitarian teams are racing against the clock after another devastating earthquake in Haiti with a tropical storm bearing down on an island already reeling from COVID, and the recent assassination of its president.

We`ll be right back.


REID: Haiti is facing yet another calamity. This time, a devastating earthquake on Saturday. It toppled buildings, homes, hospitals, and historic cathedrals and it also sent traumatized Haitians who survived the 2010 earthquakes into the streets where many remained for fear of aftershocks.

More than 1,400 people have died and that number is almost certain to rise.


The 7.2 magnitude quake hit the southwestern part of Haiti, which is roughly 80 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. According to the "Miami Herald", earthquake victims with broken bones and open wounds filled a hospital courtyard in a rural coastal city. A former government official told the paper that hospitals were at capacity.

More than a decade ago a similar quake left nearly a quarter million Haitians dead and 1 million displaced. The quake comes one month after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise left the country mired in political instability.

Joining me is Garry Pierre-Pierre, founder and publisher of "The Haitian Times".

And, Garry, just please layout what the current status is in Haiti, particularly in Port-au-Prince.


Let me remind our viewers that we met for the first during 2010 when I was covering the earthquake for you. You were at "The Root" at the time. Thank you for having me again.

REID: Oh, at "TheGrio", at "TheGrio", but we love "The Root", too, but I was at the competition at "TheGrio". I don`t want them texting me.


PIERRE-PIERRE: Sorry about that. But right now, Port-au-Prince is largely intact. Nothing happened in Port-au-Prince, and thankfully because Port-au- Prince is teaming with people and last time half a million people or so died, a quarter of a million people died.

But this time it is in the southern part, as you said in your intro. What is going on right now, there`s a rush to try to save people who are stuck under the rubble. As you can see, people are using their bare hands, trying to really get to folks who are still alive. Now, international rescue, some are on the ground. The Chileans are on the ground, the Cubans are on the ground, and the Americans are on the ground. So there is really help coming up for that region.

And so right now, you mentioned about the political situation. It is tenuous at best. We are not sure how strong the current government is in managing this crisis, and so we`re looking and taking our cues from them because that`s what they`re saying. They want everybody to follow their lead. Until they ask for something, they ask us to stand by.

REID: Well, that is the challenge, right? Is that you did have this coup, right? You had the president assassinated. You have the new Prime Minister Ariel Henry who declared a one-month state of emergency, but how trusted is the government at this point?

PIERRE-PIERRE: Well, not very well trusted at any point for that matter. You know, the government doesn`t have any capacity. As a matter of fact the government had to negotiate with gangs so they could allow free access to the southern regions to access those injured and presumably dead.

And so, it is really unsure. We are hoping, and we`re really praying that the government will show the world that it has some capacity to manage this crisis because this is on top of another existing crisis. We have the COVID.

REID: Yes.

PIERRE-PIERRE: You know, in the first block before me you were talking to Dr. Gupta about COVID. Well, COVID is still in Haiti as well.

REID: Yes.

PIERRE-PIERRE: So there`s a lot of crisis happening at the same time right now.

REID: And a lot of Americans, you know, whether they are -- have Haitian American friends or just care about humanity would love to help, but it is difficult to figure out how to do it.

What are the trusted entities and agencies that people should be thinking about if they want to help?

PIERRE-PIERRE: Well, we have -- we have a Haitian time at least five organizations that we have known, we have worked with them over the years, some over 20 years or more. And so, we can stake our reputation that these organizations are reputable. They will do great job.

So I don`t remember them off the top of my head, but they`re on our site. They are doing work. They`ve been doing good work in Haiti, and so we trust that once they have the resources they can execute the plans.

REID: If you would tweet out or post on your site, as you just said, I will retweet that because people are constantly asking me how to help.

Garry Pierre-Pierre, my friend, we need to talk on positive circumstances one day. Haiti is a beautiful country and we are praying for everyone there.

Thank you so much, my friend. I really appreciate you.

All right. Up next, Biden administration officials are sounding the alarm about the grave threats to voting rights all across the country. We`ll be back after this.



REID: Before we go tonight, an update on the fight for voting rights. With Republican legislatures across the country moving to restrict those rights, Kristen Clarke, head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, told a House Judiciary Subcommittee today that it is critical for Congress to pass voting rights legislation.


KRISTEN CLARKE, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The progress that we have made is fragile, as we watched the current resurgence in attacks on voting rights. For the Justice Department, restoration of the Voting Rights Act is a matter of great urgency. Congress has broaden enforcement powers and must act now to restore the Voting Rights Act, to prevent us from backsliding into a nation where millions of citizens, particularly citizens of color, find it difficult to register, pass their ballot and elect candidates of choice.


REID: Ms. Clark also warned that the current round of gerrymandering could result in more suppression unless Congress acts now to protect voters.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

Stay here with MSNBC tonight for the latest on the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.