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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  August 26, 2021 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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thursday night with our thanks for being here with us. on behalf of all of our colleagues at the networks of nbc news, good night. >> it was just over ten years ago, actually ten years ago almost exactly, and elite u.s. army ranger unit had gone on a mission, in a dangerous part of war doc province, it's just soft west of kabul. those elite rangers were on a mission to go after a senior figure in the taliban. they were inserted toe insertedt
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the decision was made that a second bolstering force would be sent in, basically to help them, bolster what they were doing and get them. the force was a considerable force, bringing with them a considerable amount of weaponry, skill, combat experience, almost unparalleled among the u.s. military. and that second force was sent in on one of these, a huge u.s. army helicopter. there were 38 u.s. pretty cynical on board that helicopter. it was ten years ago this month, august six 2011 and that night somehow it may have just been a lucky shot, with a low tech rocket propelled grenade, but somehow that gigantic helicopter with all those men on board was shot down. and the toll was absolutely devastating, everybody on board
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was killed. it was 22 u.s. navy seals. three u.s. air force airman, five u.s. army and national guard soldiers. seven commandoes from the afghan national art me, seven afghan commandoes and afghan translators, also u.s. military working dog that was assigned to one of the members of the seal team on board. 38 personnel on board, all 38 of them killed. that was the single deadliest combat incident in the history of the u.s. navy seals. that was the single deadliest combat incident in the history of u.s. special forces of all kind. it was the single deadliest incident in the entirety of the u.s. war in afghanistan, for u.s. forces. and at the time this happened, again, ten years ago this month, we were just about ten years into the war. at the time that helicopter was
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shot down the re-something on the order of 98,000 u.s. personnel in country, 98,000 u.s. troops. it was at a time where our troop presence was at its highest point, it's most sprawling point, we had more personnel there, and in more parts of afghanistan than we had in most parts of the war. that was ten years ago. today, the u.s. troop presence is at one of our smallest and most concentrated points, with 5000 or so u.s. troops concentrated basically exclusively at the airport in kabul, carrying a mission to evacuate americans, people affiliated with u.s. forces, afghan allies and others. and today, u.s. forces had their deadliest day of the afghanistan war since that devastating loss of those 38 men. today for most of the day the u.s. was associated with fee -- for most of the day, that told
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was 12 u.s. service members, ten u.s. marines and one u.s. navy corman, one additional service member for who we do not have a service affiliation. but tonight just as we are going to air the pentagon confirmed that it is not 12, it's 13, an additional u.s. service member has died. the number of u.s. service member is said to be 18, we do not know much about the severity of those injuries. getting a handle on the toll among the afghan civilians who bore even more of the brunt of this blast, that has been difficult to the point of impossible today. estimates of the toll among afghan civilians at the gates of the airport rages from oslo as 13, two as high as dozens, per apps 60 or more, they definitely include not just men but women and children, including some very young children. today the commanding general for all u.s. forces in central command, frank mckenzie, confirmed the toll among u.s.
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service members, and in so doing he is a reserved commanding officer and speaks in reserved almost clutched tones, but in confirming the toll today in briefing, the pentagon press corps today, he spoke at one point quietly and then unexpectedly human terms. about the actual work that the corman and marines were doing today when they were killed in the line of duty. he talked about the inherently dangerous nature of the actual person by person, hour by hour work of what it really means on the ground to run this evacuation airlift. the closeness, the hands on proximity of what they have been doing. >> it's taken a moment to describe the heroism of the marines, soldiers and sailors are exhibiting as they scream to people who are coming out of the year phil. this is close-up war. the breath of the people you are searching is upon you.
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while we have over watch in place, we still have to touch the close of the person that is coming in. i think you all can appreciate the courage and the dedication that is necessary to do this job. and to do a time after time. please remember that we have screamed over 104,000 people, i'd like to offer my profound condolences to the families of our service men and women afghan civilians who lost their lives today. we have put more than 5000 u.s. service members at risk to save as many civilians as we can. it's a noble mission. and today we have seen firsthand how dangerous that mission is. isis will not deter us from accomplishing the mission, i can assure you that. >> he says this is close up war. the breath of the person you are searching is upon you. we touch the close of the person who is coming in. general frank mckenzie today. the attack today came at the kabul airport after a warning from the u.s. embassy in kabul
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that was eerily, eerily accurate. i mean, uncannily accurate. this was the warning from the cavill embassy last night word for word quote, because of security threats outside the gates of kabul airport, we are advising u.s. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a u.s. government representative to do so. quote, u.s. citizens who are at the abbey gate, east gate or the north gate should not leave immediately. leave immediately. just hours after that very explicit warning. u.s. citizens at the abbey gate should leave immediately. it was hours after that directive when abby gates was in fact, where one of the two suicide bombs today detonated, exactly as that warning from the kabul embassy said it would. and while the days long crush of humanity bottlenecked at the
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gates of the airport has been an obvious soft target for a potential suicide bombing or other attacks for days now. how did the u.s. have intel that clear about the location and the timing of the threat? when u.s. persons needed to be told to leave immediately, how did they know when and where? we're gonna talk about that tonight. but also the question of who. because when the group isis claimed responsibility, isis-k, on the afghanistan affiliates isis, that is something that we have had repeated explicit warnings about from u.s. officials. warnings about that exact threat from that exact group that claimed responsibility for what happened today, those warnings started more than a week ago, and they came from u.s. officials up to and including the secretary of state, and even the president himself. >> we're also keeping a close watch on potential terrorist
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threats, at or around the airport, including from the isis affiliates and afghanistan who were released from prison when the prisons were emptied. and because they are, by the way, make everybody understand, the isis in afghanistan have been the sworn element of the taliban. >> there is complexity, and there's turbulence on the ground in kabul. it's very risky and dangerous, because there is a genuine threat from isis k. that is the reality of what we are up against. i'm not gonna sugarcoat that reality. >> how real is this isis threat? >> the threat is real. it's a cute. it's persistent. >> isis-k is a sworn enemy of the taliban. they have history of fighting one another. but every day we have troops on the ground, these troops, innocence ebullience at the airport, faced the risk of attack from isis k from a distance, even though we're moving back the perimeter
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significantly. >> we are sustaining the highest level of vigilance for an attack against the airport by isis-k, or another terrorist group. >> they're real, and significant challenges that we also have to take into consideration. the longer we stay, starting with the acute and growing risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as isis-k, an isis affiliate and afghanistan, which is a sworn enemy of the taliban as well. every day we're on the ground, is another day we know that isis-k seeking to target the airport, and attack both u.s. and allied forces and innocent civilians. >> it's hard to overstate the complexity and the danger of this effort. we're operating in a hostile environment, in a city and country now controlled by the taliban, with the very real possibility of an isis k attack. we're taking every precaution, but, this is very high risk. >> this is very high risk.
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a very real possibility of an isis k attack. isis-k, from the president, isis affiliates in afghanistan, every day we're on the ground is another day where we know that ice is just seeking to target the airport, and attack both u.s. and allied forces and innocent civilians. which is exactly what happened. for weeks now, up to and including yesterday with those remarks from secretary of state anthony blinken, with overnight last night, that directive from the u.s. directive that all americans should leave the abrogated mediately because of a specific threat there. they have been on this as an increasingly explicit threat of something that could and would happen. they said that they believed it would happen at the airport, it will target u.s. forces, it would target innocent civilians at the airport, it would come from isis-k. the president was explicit that with each passing day that we kept going with these evacuation missions at the airport, and attack like the one we saw was more likely. would you read their they had
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been blindsided? no, of course not. they were sounding the alarm that this was the biggest threat to the states and it was getting to be a more dangerous threat as the day went on. they knew it was a possibility. the urgency about getting the airlift evacuation done and over with has been driven in part, but explicitly, by what today clearly and repeatedly reiterated, was the risk of exactly this kind of attack by exactly this attacker. >> we expect, we thought this will happen sooner or later, it's tragic that it happened today, it's tragic that there was this much loss of life. we're prepared to continue the mission. >> i thought this would happen sooner or later, we're prepared to continue the mission. general mackenzie speaking today, president biden late this afternoon in and adjusted the nation said the same but with a presidential exclamation
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point and also a very explicit threat. >> over the past few weeks, i know many of your tired of hearing me say it, we've been made aware by our intelligence community that the isis-k and arch enemy of the taliban, people who are freed when both of those prisons were opened, has been planning accomplice set of attack on the united states personnel and others. this is why from the outset, i've repeatedly said this mission was extraordinarily dangerous, and wife and so determined to limit the duration of this mission. as general mackenzie said this is why our mission was designed to operate in this way. operate under severe stress and
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attack. as i've been in constant contact with our senior military leader, around the clock, and our commanders on the ground throughout the day, they made a clear after -- we can and we must complete this mission, and we will. that is what i've ordered them to do we will not be deterred by terrorists. we will not let them stop our mission. we will continue the evacuation, i've also -- to strike isis-k, ss leadership in facilities. we will respond with force and precision at our time at the place we choose and in the moment of our choosing. here is what you need to know, these isis terrorists will not win. we will rescue the americans from them. we will get our afghan allies out. and our mission will go on.
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america will not be intimidated. for those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes america harm, no this, we will not forgive. we will not forget. we will hunt you down, and make you pay. i will defend our interest and people with every measure in my command. we will make you pay. and we will continue the mission to get our allies out even after what today was the most deadly day for u.s. forces in afghanistan since the -- that day ten years ago this month. joining us now is congressman jason crow, an army ranger in the 82nd airborne, he served in both the iraq war and afghanistan were. he serves on multiple
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committees. he has served on efforts to get a special visas for afghans who served with us. thank you for being with us, i know it is a tough day. >> it is a tough day and i join you in extending our sympathy to those we lost. >> i have to ask you just as a veteran, i've heard from so many friends today who are veterans, just about how this is something for which there isn't really words. the veteran community and military families are talking to one another about this. but it's a different kind of loss. >> it is a different type of loss, i had a friend who has been manning the gates that were under attack, and he survived the attack, thankfully. but this is very personal to all of us. and one of the things i have heard a lot from my friends in the last couple of weeks, and you indicated this in your league in, that this has been happening for 20 years. we have been fighting this war for 20 years. day in, day out.
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hundreds of -- over 2400 have given their lives. and this was a tragic day. no doubt about that. at the same time, we need to make sure we are having the tough conversation, that we are having right now, as a matter of fact. but why we have done this. why we are 20 years in the making. this is not a one-week problem, this is not a one month problem. this is a 20 year problem for our country. >> i am struck tonight by the explicitness of the recent warnings we have had from u.s. officials about an attack of exactly this kind. i am struck by the president saying the threat of exactly this kind of attack, which they knew is a real possibility, has been a big part of why he is committed to limiting the operation and getting out. i am also struck by his simultaneous and repeated commitment that we won't leave anyone behind.
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all of those things are coming together into what's feels like a very difficult decision tree about what to do hour by hour and day-by-day. what do you hope to happen here? balancing those risks and the commitments that we've made. >> there is no doubt that this is hard. and it is easy to sit here in the comfort of a living room, and to monday morning quarterback this. but my time as private crow, i think back to that time, as a paratrooper, and it is hot and it is dusty. they were screaming and bomb blasts and gunshots. you are largely sitting here with 18, 19, 20 year old privates and lance corporal's, thinking, i need to figure this out. under very, very difficult circumstances. so there is sometimes a huge gap between intelligence and the information we know and how we can put that into practice on the ground. and that is no reflection on our men and women because they are doing an incredible job. we are asking them to do almost
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impossible things sometimes. but it is hard and it is imperfect. and it is dirty. and that is why it is important, as we've hit sit here on the hill, in washington d.c., and we have conversation about policies, we have to understand that downstream, is an 18 or 19 year old that has to carry it out. so what i hope is that we actually have the tough conversations, we learn from it in the long term. in the near term we need to protect our troops. we need to expand the perimeter that is necessary to protect them. but we do have an obligation to get u.s. citizens out and as many afghan partners out as we can. and that is the mission. i do not believe that that should have a calendar deadline, i believe we should hold until we accomplish that mission. >> we know from talking with your staff, that you and your team have helped push through hundreds and hundreds, more than 1000 evacuation and visa requests just over these past ten days. given that hands on work that
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you have been doing, what do you think the american people should know? what can you tell us about how you see the scale of the task that remains? how hard it is going to be to get it done? i know you said it shouldn't be a certain date on the calendar, it should be about getting the mission done. tell us about that scale and the enormity of what you are talking about in terms of what remains. >> the scale is obviously very challenging. we know we have a certain number of american citizens, i will not say that number for obvious reasons. we do not want to jeopardize certain folks. but there are americans who have said that they want to be evacuated from the country. i think it's also important to note that there are american citizens who say they do not want to leave the country. we cannot force them to leave. there are some folks who want to stay. and there are others that we don't know. they didn't inform the state department that they are there. and that is tough, challenging work.
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so that is three categories. in addition we have our afghan partners, we have our visa holders, priority one into folks. at risk in vulnerable populations. we are trying to sort them out as quickly as we can, it's tough and challenging. that's also why, as you know rachel, i have been sounding the alarm, saying let's start the evacuation. we would be in a very different position right now if we started the evacuation of our afghan partners than we are right now. and that doesn't change the position we are in right now, it just makes it more challenging. that's why i said we have to get it done. >> if this mission has to go, i mean -- we are in august now. and it ends augusta he first. but in order to get it done, the way you are describing, to get not only americans but visa holders, those siv holders and applicants, if that took to the end of september, the end of november, the end of the year, with happy okay with you?
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>> i don't think it needs to go that far. i think if you look at numbers we are well in excess of 100,000 people who have been evacuated. the numbers are very high, 10 to 20,000 today. we actually have a sense of the numbers we are talking about, there are a certain number of american citizens and visa holders and applicants and their families. i believe we can get that down in a matter of weeks. i don't think there is a path to get that done between now and the end of the month. that is why i think we must make sure we are focused on the mission and the actual numbers, as opposed to a date on the calendar. but i am not talking about a mission that goes on in perpetuity or even months. i think that we can do this but we have to be legitimate about it and it is not without risk. >> colorado congressman and congressman jason crow, thank you for your time, i know there are a lot of demands on your time right now. i appreciate you spending some of it with us. >> thanks rachel. >> joining us now is retired
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u.s. army colonel jack jacobs, i recipient of the medal of honor for his service during the vietnam war. i appreciate you making time today. i know you have been making sense of this reporting from what you know on the ground. thank you for making time tonight. >> my pleasure. >> first of all, let me just put to you, some of that sound we play just a moment ago, about these explicit warnings, that not only was this explicit place going to be targeted, likely targeted, but it was going to be targeted by this group. and that with each passing day, the threat was going to get more extreme. what was the nature of that intelligence and why was it so spot on? >> well, there were three ways that this confirmed itself. one was that we are constantly listening to phone conversations of targeted people. people who might turn out to be terrorists or who we know maybe
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terrorists, or are in the chain of command of terrorists organizations. so we have been listening. second, we received credible information from afghans we know who passed this information to us. and then further confirm by conversations with our allies whose afghan friends confirm what we have already heard, and what we learn from our afghan friends. and that is why the administration, the military establishment, was so certain that something like this was going to happen. and they predicted it quite well. >> colonel jack, the president issued a very explicit threat to the perpetrators of the attack that claimed so many lives, he said, we will hunt you down and make you pay. he is essentially ordering a new mission and he said explicitly that he has ordered u.s. military commanders to develop a plan to attack isis-k, this group that has claimed
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responsibility. that is a new mission for u.s. forces in afghanistan. >> yeah. >> on top of the new mission, what do you make of that? >> we are going to do things from over the horizon, we will identify where they are if we can, assembly areas, ammunition stores. locations of leadership and what those positions are. and then attack them with long distance precision munitions. but because we are not on the ground anymore, it becomes extremely difficult for us to exactly pinpoint where all of these things are. we are not going to be able to rely on people on the ground, afghans on the ground, even, to tell us what is going on. we are going to have to listen to lots and lots of phone conversations, go up a lot of blind alleys. we got osama bin laden after missing him a number of times. it took us a long, long time to get him and we finally got him. i think if the government has decided that we are going to make these people pay, we will
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find the people who gave the order and make them pay. in the meantime, however, we have got a bigger problem of trying to find pockets of these people and destroy them before they -- before they do something else. the cells of them. it's a very difficult group to track down. they grew as big as they did, principal e as a function of using cast offs from the taliban. taliban soldiers who left. they are fed up with the taliban and then joined isis-k. they will at some juncture have to assemble in various places. and if we find them we can target them. but at the end of the day it's the leadership we want to get and that may take a long time, rachel. >> retired u.s. army col. jack jacobs. it's good to speak with you, too often, on terrible days like this. but your expertise is priceless. >> thanks so much.
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named marcus yam, mr. yemen's of foreign correspondent he's an award winning photojournalist working for the los angeles times. he's joining us live from kabul. mr. yam plans to remain their reporting on the situation in the country. just yesterday he was at the site of today's bombing outside the gate of the kabul airport. marcus yang thank you so much for taking pence to be with us tonight, i know this is not an easy time difference, or indeed an easy time. >> thank you for having me on the show. >> so, u.s. officials up to and including president biden had repeatedly warned that crowds at the airport might be targeted by an isis terrorist attack. when you've been there in recent days, when you've been among the crowds at the airport, what was it like? did it seem like it was a soft target for a potential attack? did it seem like those warnings
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were warranted on the ground? >> first of all, i generally stay away from crowds. and yes it seems like those warnings were warranted. the crowds are unchecked. there are thousands of people filling around. [inaudible] i usually keep in mind the fact that there is a potential for something like this to happen. we fear that something like this would happen for a while now, even amongst us journalists. and i feel like yesterday, last night, we basically, unfortunately, saw it happen. >> i know that you don't to put yourself too much at the center of the story, but i also know
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that you and a colleague were beaten up by taliban figures last week while you are covering an anti-taliban demonstration in kabul. they did ultimately let you go, but i wonder if you could tell us about that a little bit, and what we should understand about how the taliban is moving among people, whether there are checkpoints in fact serve any security purpose at all. what it is like on the street. >> things are constantly changing on the ground, every day. the taliban, as of yesterday, or the day before yesterday, has issued a lot of media accreditation. and now, with this media accreditation were supposed to be able to move around easier and avoid any aggressive confrontations with security forces, or from their fighters
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in general. but we have yet to see things go smoothly, for example, i've had fighters tell me that i still cannot do my job. i still cannot take some pictures and checkpoints, just because, you know, it doesn't matter if i have this media accreditation. and some fighters recognize it, some don't. it's a mixed bag. it's not a complete standard basically. and, when it comes to my experience of being beat up, and assaulted by taliban fighters, and i think a lot of that has to do with the fact that, taliban are using a lot of at-home fighters, and the fact that they are not actually made for, they're not trained for crowd control. they're not trained. a lot of them have never dealt with journalists, media. that's one of the factors that plays into it.
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>> marcus yam, foreign correspondent, live in kabul tonight. while we've been talking we've been able to show some of your recent works, some of your photos including the aftermath of some of these incredibly bloody attacks. take care, stay safe, i know you're planning on staying there as long as you can. thank you for your work. thank you for joining us tonight. >> i appreciate it. thank you. >> all right. as we've been talking about the group that claimed responsibility for today's attack, isis-k, or isis course on, they're essentially the afghanistan affiliate of the islamist state, legally claimed responsibility for today's killings on the group's news channel. and u.s. officials have been warning, not just that there could be an attack on u.s. forces and civilians at the airport, but that it would specifically come from this group. who is this group? why did the u.s. have such clarity that this was the group that was going to attack and attack exactly like this? what does that mean for the next few days forward president biden now says will be
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retaliation against that group? and for the continuing evacuation effort which continues, another 7500 people airlifted out even today, even with all of this, even with those photos of people that you just saw in the aftermath of today's attack, people bloodied and injured at the gates at the airport evacuation efforts continue. joining us now is counterintelligence analysts, who studies these things intensively. mr. cory, thank you for being here with us tonight, it's been a long time since we've seen you, it's always bad news wherever you're gonna be here to talk about this thing, but i appreciate you being here. >> thank you so much for having, me rachel. >> tell me about what you make of u.s. officials warning the public, warning, explicitly, over and over again in recent days that an isis k attack, isis attack at the airport targeting u.s. personnel, targeting civilians, just like we saw today, that it was not only a threat, but there was a
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severe threat and an increasingly likely one. >> look, isis has demonstrated over and again that it is masterfully opportunistic especially when it comes to of vacuums of power, in fact some of the chatter that i've been looking at just before the attack, talked about how isis was poised to launch attacks, specifically because two of its enemies are out of the picture. that is the afghan security forces, and of course, the u.s. troops. now that they are out of the picture, they only have one more enemy left, and that enemy is extremely busy right now trying to control afghanistan all over again. trying to put logistics in place. but the other point is as isis is taking advantage of this power vacuum, it's also realizing that it can attract fighters from the ranks of the taliban by showcasing the group
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as weak, as unable to govern as also a group that is naturalistic and sitting at the negotiation table with the west, sitting at the negotiation table with tyrants in the region aka having an office in qatar. so, isis has mastered this technique before and we are seeing it unfold again. the last point i would say is that isis has been operating in afghanistan for over six years now, and this is a lot of time for it to recruit fighters, and galvanize support. it has launched some of the most deadly attacks that we have witnessed in afghanistan,, whether adam ward at a hospital, whether at funerals, whether at places of worship. this comes absolutely as no surprise that there had been warnings and unfortunately those attacks happened.
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>> isis and the taliban, are they going to go to war in afghanistan? is isis, this isis affiliate, is it strong enough, motivated enough and resourced enough that they can challenge the taliban takeover of afghanistan? i think, we from a distant we tend to lump these groups together, but they are enemies, what is their conflict going to look like? >> isis will absolutely butt heads with the taliban, it has been doing so. in fact, over the past five years, it's been conducting regular assassinations against taliban commanders, as well as footsoldiers. in a range of places. not only where isis is concentrated today in afghanistan, which is in the east, but also it has targeted them in places like gunned are, in places like kabul. and other provinces of afghanistan. isis has been doing that. what has been keeping it at bay, mostly, or the afghan
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commanders and the u.s. forces. now that they are not in the picture or the calculation, isis will undoubtedly launch more strategic attacks targeting painful spots for the taliban. that will include some of the infrastructure that the taliban needs to govern. of course, kabul airport is case in point. >> last question for you, as president biden threatens in no uncertain terms of the people who carried out this bombing will pay, they will be hunted down and they will pay, is it possible that the taliban is going to help the u.s. in targeting isis, if the u.s. decides to launch some kind of assassination of leadership effort? or some other major violent counter-terrorism offensive here? is this something that the taliban and the u.s. actually have common cause to make? >> there is certainly common cause. i don't see the taliban, the
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u.s. forces, having some sort of joint operations together. but i do believe that the taliban is going to put extra resources to target isis, specifically in the east of the country. that goes from the taliban to showcase that it is capable, actually, of acting as a de facto governing body and afghanistan, that are ragtag terrorist group is not going to do the work that empires like the british empire, the soviets and the americans were not able to accomplish. it's going to put extra resources to showcase its strength, to try to uproot isis from afghanistan, i don't think though that the u.s. and the taliban will be communicating on the results of the counter measures to target isis. i do believe that the u.s. is going to use air power as much as possible, in addition to eavesdropping on communication
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at large. but i think the taliban are going to rely on human sources to bring the intelligence in order for them to know the locations of the isis cells, and target the. >> laith alkhouri, counterintelligence analysts and the advisor, thank you for taking the time, thank. you >> thank you so much, rachel. >> the enemy of my enemy is my friend, in this case the enemy of my enemy is an enemy and it is the whole world full of enemies in this case. just an absolutely terrible day and afghanistan. we have more ahead tonight. stay with us. stay with us do you struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep? qunol sleep formula combines 5 key nutrients that can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up refreshed.
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the brand i trust is qunol. during the january 6th attack
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on the u.s. capital, a person participating, and women aim ashli babbitt, was shot by a capitol hill police officer. she and others were in the process of smashing in the glass window in the door, trying to force their way into
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where members of congress were sheltering from the mob. since that day, the name has been withheld of the officer of the person who fired the shot. over fear that the officer may be singled out for retribution. after the attacks, white supremacists first and then other far-right groups not only did demand the name of the officer who fired the shot, they did that alongside increasingly ghoulish efforts to try to turn ashley babbitt into a martyr. images pretty soon started turning up on far-right social media outlets of something they call the babbitt flag, showing an outline of a woman in front of the capital. and then you see that drop of blood. there are several versions of that flag, some with tagline's, with the word vengeance. meaning vengeance for her. also see the star of david on
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the building, there, presumably to suggest that the government is controlled by a jewish conspiracy, so we need vengeance on the jews, or whatever. that far-right and white supremacist attempt to turn actually babbitt into a martyr, who must be avenged, who must be the cause behind which we organize the race for -- that started from the very bleeding edges of far-right white supremacist online discourse. and then it creeped into the conservative mainstream, amplified by conservative pundits and conservative members of congress, and then eventually former president trump, who he started at his post presidential rallies, demanding to know the name of the police officer who fired the shot. shouting, who fired ashli babbitt, is a regular feature of his rallies now. so now we know the answer to that question, because the
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officer who shot ashli babbitt, who -- chose to speak to msnbc with lester holt. my name is michael bird, i'm a lieutenant for the united states capitol police. >> for months he has lived in hiding, he says, over this moment. his decision to use deadly force against the rioter ashley climb through a barricaded door that leads to the house chamber. in the months since he's been the target of threats. >> can you give us the nature of some of those threats? >> they talk about killing me. cutting off my head. you know, very vicious and cruel things. >> he says officers barricaded the door, what he considered the last line of defense. >> i had been yelling and screaming as loud as i was, please stop, get back, get back. we have our weapons drawn.
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bird, owning his hand and gun visible, targeted a figure trying to climb through a window and fired a single, fatal shot. [noise] hitting ashli babbitt, she was 35 years old, on air force veteran, trump supporter and qanon follower. >> you see her out there for a considerable amount of time. we're waiting for him? >> i was taking a tactical stance, ultimately hoping that commands will be complied with. and unfortunately they were not. >> when you fired, what could you see? where were you aiming? >> we are taught for aiming for a center mess. the subject was sideways and i could not see a full motion of her hands or anything. so, it was her movement, you know, cause the discharge to fall where did. >> and what did you think this
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individual was doing at that time? >> she was posing a threat to the united states house of representatives. >> she was posing a threat to the united states house of representatives. that is lieutenant michael bird of the united states capitol police. coming forward, identifying himself, speaking on his terms, talking about what happened not only on that day but the attacks and threats against him. joining us now is ryan reilly, justice reporter for the huffington post. he's been following the january 6th rioters and their ties to far-right movements from the very beginning. thank you ryan, for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> tell us a little bit about the role that lieutenant bird, who is now identifying himself publicly, and the shooting of actually babbitt have played in far-right circles online since the attack. >> it has been a real motivating force, someone has rallied four on the far-right,
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and obviously the factor that cannot be removed from this at all is the race of the officer who shot ashli babbitt. that is just a tremendous factor. i would say it is amazing how quickly this alliance between the police and the republican party broke down, both on january 6th was january 6th and more broadly with donald trump. the idea that donald trump made himself this law enforcement candidate, the guy who has the cops back, he's now attacking a police officer and demanding his name when it was a violent rioter who broke into the u.s. capital and went into one of the most sacrosanct and sacred chambers of congress, through a broken window, it really is just amazing to see those attacks. and i think it's an important thought experiment to do here -- just think for a moment how the right and republicans and trump would have reacted, had an officer say, in some random city, last summer, who is
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perhaps off duty and guarding, say, a local liquor store. had that officer shot someone who broke into a random liquor store, what we are talking about here is the most important spot of democracy in america. it's about the transfer of power. what is astonishing is the quickness of the abandonment of support for law enforcement, simply because of political ties. and so much of the political movement supports what she was all about, which is trying to stop, with this delusional belief that the election had been stolen, and that is really widespread on the republican party. that is something that they see is justified. >> given the way that that narrative has taken shape around her and around her killing on january 6th, and the way that president trump, first among all of them, has been demanding demanding the identity of this officer in a very frightening way. we talked about the threats
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that he has had. what do you make of his decision to identify himself, go on camera and say, this is me, this is where i work, this is what happened? >> it's a bold move, and you can think about why he was deciding to do that. because he stood up on january 6th and he was standing up in. and i think that he believes he saved lives and i think if you look at the video, that was that final line of defense. if the rioters had broken through that line of defense, they would have had direct access to members of congress. so i think that he really wants to stand up. and i think the threats more broadly are something that is getting more attention as we go on. i can report that there are some prosecutors that were working on january 6th who have received threats and that is something that the fbi is looking into and urging someone to look into when they receive those threats. but because there is this huge political movement bubbling up on the right, of someone who was formerly on trump's
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campaign, who is organizing this rally next month, to gather people who have been locked up, the supporters of people have been locked up. these are some dangerous folks. and overall they have been caught on video and they believe in these delusional conspiracy theories and in many cases have expressed their desire to continue fighting this battle. so for someone to frame it so close in trump's orbit, who literally pushed around a golden idol of trump at cpac, to come in and now declare that we want to attack cops out of jail, it is a mind-blowing scenario of what -- it is supposed to be about the idea that they are backing criminals who are caught on video attacking police officers. that is really just astonishing. that was a major attack during the campaign, that the vice
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president was supporting bail funds for people who were charged with more minor crimes. and now we have had a total flip on that. everything has just thrown off and it is amazing how quickly the tables have turned. >> ryan riley, justice reporter for the huffington post, thank you for joining us, it's good to have you here. >> thanks very much. >> i'm just going on that reporting there, fbi looking into threats against prosecutors. that is news. stay with us. with us and you need it here. and here. and here. which is why the scientific expertise that helps operating rooms stay clean is now helping the places you go every day too. seek a commitment to clean. look for the ecolab science certified seal.
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you a heads up that we would we're going to have a special report tonight on a new disinformation fueled surge in this latest, really dangerous snake oil nonsense about covid. we obviously held that special report tonight because of the events in afghanistan today. but we will bring that report tomorrow night. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. good evening, lawrence. >> good evening, rachel. i know you think you will bring that report tomorrow night. but who knows what tomorrow might bring to change the course of any -- its, during covid i've been saying we can't use the word plan for anything we're talking about in our future. it's an idea that i might do something, i think in this news environment, it's the same thing. as long as this evacuation is going on in afghanistan, we, you know, can guess what we're