'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
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Guests: Ron Allen, Madeleine Albright, Sharif Abdel Kouddous
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST: -- is up next with special guest, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you for that.
And thanks to all of you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Why did CBS News reporter Lara Logan get detained today? Why were she and her TV crew held by police today?
Why did CNN‘s Anderson Cooper get physically attacked today? This is the footage of him getting roughed up yesterday. Today, it happened again as the vehicle he was traveling in came under assault.
Why did an ABC News cameraman and producer get threatened with beheading today?
Why were FOX News correspondent Greg Palkot and his cameraman Olaf Wiig severely beaten and hospitalized today?
Why was ABC News correspondent Christiane Amanpour harassed and jostled on the streets? Why was her camera crew‘s car attacked?
Why was CBS‘s Katie Couric surrounded and overwhelmed in the streets?
Why was the BBC‘s Ian Pannell accosted by a group of men while he was reporting?
Why was his fellow BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes stopped and taken into custody by police for several hours before he was released?
Why were three Al Jazeera journalists taken into custody before they were released?
Why did Swedish journalist Bert Sundstrom of SVT Public Television disappear and then turn up in a hospital seriously injured with stab wounds?
Why are all of these journalists getting attacked? Why are all of these reporters being threatened and being hurt?
What‘s happening in Egypt right now is not about journalism. It is not about journalists. It is about the Egyptian people trying to topple their own government. So why are all of these reporters covering that getting attacked?
It is not fair to call what‘s happening on the streets of Egypt right now chaos. It is not fair to call it crisis. It is not fair to say this is spiraling out of control.
What is happening on the ground in Egypt is planned. It is a strategy. The Egyptian government is trying to stay in power. It is trying to beat a popular uprising against it and to hold on to power as long as it can.
And in order to do that, the government has made a strategic decision to use violence to get its way. First and most directly, it‘s using violence against the opposition protesters in the streets.
Fair warning: this video we‘re about to show you is short. It may be difficult to watch. If you want to turn away for a second, now is the time to do so.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: That video, which has turned up on the Internet in recent days appears to show an Egyptian police van ramming through a crowd of anti-government protesters at top speed. While difficult to watch, that is the easiest use of violence to understand. It is simply making it physically dangerous or even deadly to protest against the government. That‘s first.
But, second, it appears to have been the government strategy to make sure that what had been a non-violent protest movement turns violent. Why would the government want that? Why would they want a non-violent movement to turn violent? Because who would begrudge a government using force, even extreme force, to put down violent bloody mobs in the streets?
A government using force to put down a bunch of people doing this, on the other hand, that is seen as, frankly, less cool by the international community and generally by your own people.
So, the reason you saw everything go haywire in Egypt over the last 36 hours or so is because the government pulled out all of the stops to turn this into this. That is one side strategy in this. That is the government strategy for staying in power.
What‘s the other side strategy against that? How can the anti-government people, the opposition forces—how can they resist and survive that strategy and still try to win?
Here‘s how our own Richard Engel explained that last night, while overlooking a full-on street battle in Cairo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: They want everyone to be painted with a negative brush, that everyone involved here are people who want chaos and dissension, and that the president would then need to step in as a good leader to implement law and order. That‘s what the protesters think the scenario is and they expect after this, there will be a more serious crackdown, potentially martial law and even more use of the goon squads.
MADDOW: Richard, how the protesters win against the strategy like that?
ENGEL: I think they win by information and that‘s what they are trying to do. They have to counter this story. They have to tell people how it happened, how it really started, who is fighting. They have to remain non-violent—the protesters aren‘t doing a very good job of that. They feel attacked and then they have to defend themselves.
It is very difficult to win when you are pitted to a fight and then if you‘re drawn into a fight to try to maintain of air of being innocent and non-violent. I don‘t know exactly how you do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Remaining non-violent in the face of violent attacks by the people you are trying to defeat, that is almost humanly impossible. It‘s why we lionized leaders and movements that are able to large numbers of people t o do that, to stay non-violent even when they are physically provoked, to stay non-violent even when they are verbally assaulted, to stay non-violent is a central strategy of defeating the forces that are keeping you down.
The opposition to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt is not new. It has long existed in various forms. He‘s been in power as, essentially a dictator for a very long time.
This current protest movement to actually get rid of him, this movement is about now nine days old. In nine days, can you grow a big, organized movement that is disciplined and capable enough to do what you need to win? One that is capable of staying non-violent when violence is the main tactic that is being used against them.
It would not be a miracle if that were true, but it would be close to a miracle.
The violence in Egypt right now is not a byproduct of the fact that there are anti-government demonstrations going on. The violence is not inevitable. It is a tactic that is being used by one side.
It‘s a tactic being used by the Egyptian government, and that is obvious to anybody who‘s there. It is obvious to anybody who is reporting what‘s happening on the ground there—which brings us back to this question, why are we seeing journalists getting attacked? Attacked in the streets, hunted down, rounded up, having their equipments smashed and confiscated, getting kick out of where they are staying, because the fact that they are there poses a risk to anybody else who is staying there?
Why are they being attacked? Because they need to be stopped. They need to be stopped from stating the obvious. They need to be stopped from showing what‘s happening and what they‘ve been reporting since it started, which is that the violence was started by the government against its own people in a last ditch effort to stay in power.
If you are the Egyptian government, that story has to be stopped. And as a result, journalism has to be stopped. And so, journalists have to be stopped.
And sometimes, that looks like this.
You do not attack reporters and cameraman and you do not ransack press offices because you are looking for good public relations, because you want to present your spin to the world about how things are going. You do it to stop journalism, damn the consequences. Because the real story that journalists are able to tell is so dangerous to your strategy to stay in power.
The Egyptian government is trying to win. The violence is tactical.
The danger to journalists is tactical.
Ominously, today, now that they have taken these steps toward stopping journalism, we saw them stepped up what they want to replace it, their own version of the story. Today, what looked like forced confessions started to run on pro-government TV in Egypt.
The Committee to Protect Journalists documented at least seven instances on state-owned television or on private stations own by businessman loyal to President Mubarak in which individuals describe elaborate foreign plots to destabilize Egypt. In several instances, they were described as “Israel spies,” naturally.
In one instance, a woman whose face was obscured confessed to having been trained by Americans and Israelis. She went on to say that the alleged training took place in Qatar, where, wouldn‘t you know it, the news network Al Jazeera is based.
Stopping the real journalism to make room for your own version of the facts. It is desperate, but this kind of thing has worked before.
One of our NBC News correspondents who is right in the middle of all of this joins us live from Egypt next.
MADDOW: Well, practically, every news outlet in the world is focused on what is happening Egypt. Egypt‘s own state-run television has been showing things like picturesque views of a bridge spanning the Nile, peaceful traffic scenes, or alternately they‘ve been showing bad, bad, violent, evil, criminal protesters who hate Mubarak only because they hate their own country and they‘re traitors and maybe they‘re Israeli or American or something. It‘s all been very Baghdad Bob.
But you know what happened today at state-run Nile TV in Egypt in the midst of all that propaganda? Today, the second in command quit. She said she could not take it anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAHIRA AMIN, QUIT EGYPT STATE TV IN PROTEST (via telephone): I‘m happy and liberated and relieved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you do that?
AMIN: I don‘t want—I don‘t want to be part of the propaganda machine of this regime. I‘m on the side of the people. And that‘s it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us about that. What kind of instructions were you—were your colleagues operating under through these days of upheaval?
AMIN: Well, I spent the day at Nile TV yesterday, and I was only allowed to air the pro-Mubarak rallies that were going on, as if nothing was happening at Tahrir Square. We weren‘t allowed to reveal any figures. There was a near total blackout. And I feel that this is hypocritical at this time, and I just don‘t want to be part of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Imagine the bravery it takes to do that. Amazing. Shahira Amin, formerly second in command at Egypt‘s state-run Nile TV, now she is an anti-government protester in Tahrir Square and somebody who is able to tell the truth about state TV censorship and propaganda.
I should also mention that one of Nile TV‘s anchors quit this week too for the same reason after 20 years on the air.
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Joining us now by phone live in Cairo is NBC News correspondent Ron Allen.
Ron, thank you very much for staying up with us into the wee hours tonight. Really appreciate it.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS (via telephone): Sure. How are you?
MADDOW: Good. Thank you.
What are you able to tell us, Ron, about the sustainability of the protests at this point? Do things seem to be waxing or waning heading into Friday morning in Cairo?
ALLEN: I think sustainability is a good way to put it, Rachel. There‘s a lot being said here about how long can this go on, how long can ordinary people muster the courage, energy, enthusiasm to go out into the square, to go out into the streets of other parts of other cities across the country, and protest.
Banks have been closed here. Schools have been closed. When you drive beyond Cairo, you see factories that are not working. You don‘t see the commerce on the highways. No buses and trucks.
So, the country, for all intents and purposes, has essentially ground to a halt. And that big statement means that a lot of individual lives are being affected.
On the one hand, you have protesters out there doing this, but people have to live. And this is like a part of the government strategy, is to divide and just wear down the opposition and wear down this country to the point where people just cannot go out there and do this anymore and then feel that they‘re risking too much to continue this fight.
MADDOW: Ron, I know that you returned to Cairo from Alexandria today. We‘ve been showing some images of what the protests look like in Alexandria. What can you tell us about the mood outside of Cairo and outside of the cities? Do the anti-Mubarak protesters seem to have support around the whole country?
ALLEN: Certainly, yes, there is support. Everybody has a horror story to tell about the regime one way or the other. In Alexandria, for example, a lot of people are rallying around the struggle, the fight of a family of a 28-year-old man who was killed by police, a blogger who had posted information about the police in his community, alleging there was corruption, drug dealing, that sort of thing. And he was beaten and killed in custody as an act of revenge.
And that‘s one of the small things that‘s happened, that has happened that‘s rallying people in individual communities.
But again, I think it just gets back to the question of sustainability. Can people continue to go out and do this in the streets? And I think they have every intention of doing it. There‘s—in terms of waxing or waning, I think it‘s up and down. But the momentum, I think, is certainly there with the opposition because despite the concessions that the government has made, despite the tanks and troops firing in the square today, people are still out there laying their lives on the line.
And tomorrow, Friday, the so-called “day of departure,” certainly a very—always the most sacred day in the Muslim world, another huge rally. And the expectation there will be that—there will be a lot of people in a lot of squares in a lot of places, not just in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Luxor, and I expect it to be a big, big day. A day of decision perhaps.
MADDOW: Ron, I am on purpose not talking about specifically where you are. And if you noticed, all of the other networks right now tonight, they‘re still covering this, are not talking about the explicit location of anybody who is reporting from Egypt. There‘s been a lot of restriction in terms of live camera shots. A lot of people, as you are joining us by phone, it‘s because it is very dangerous right now to be doing what you‘re doing, to be reporting from Egypt.
What do you expect in terms of the ability of western media and even Pan-Arab media to be able to cover what happens with what‘s expected to be that very large demonstration tomorrow?
ALLEN: It is very dangerous, Rachel. And one of the things that‘s happened today is that the live pictures of the square have been eliminated. So, it‘s hard to see what‘s actually happening. And a lot of us have pulled back to positions in the country and around the city, where we can essentially report to you and others around the world what‘s happening.
As a journalist in an environment like this you have to sort of strike a balance between getting as close as you can and being in a position where you can survive and being in a position where you are free to tell the world. A lot of equipment has been impounded. A lot of people have been harassed individually, beaten up and so forth.
That has not happened to me individually. But our strategy has been to try and be in a position where we can observe, report, talk to people about what‘s going on, and stay here because it‘s not an easy thing to do. In covering civil conflict around the world, these are always very difficult questions that journalists face.
But again, the bottom line is you have to kick your nose in it to really understand what‘s going on and to really talk to the people who are involved and to really see it because as you were saying in your open, there‘s a lot of propaganda and journalists are always tools of both sides. Here, yes, it seems that it is the government, that‘s really cracking down on us. Every time that we‘ve encountered a lot of hostility, personally I‘m saying now, it‘s been pro-government forces who feel that we are not telling their side of the story.
And the bottom line is that the government is the military, the government is the police, the government is the army—and those are the people who ultimately have the capability to squash this thing and to squash us at any moment if they choose to. So, yes, we‘re being very careful. We‘re keeping our heads down.
But ultimately, this story is not about us. It‘s about ordinary people whom you meet—mothers, fathers, workers on the streets, who just want a better life. And so many of them always say we want a better life for our children, and so many people have told me that they‘re willing to sacrifice their lives for the future.
MADDOW: NBC News correspondent Ron Allen live in Cairo tonight—and as he says, staying there. Ron, thank you. Stay safe. Really appreciate your time.
MADDOW: I will just tell you personally that I‘m so plugged into the way that news is getting out of Cairo and Egypt. Our whole staff and the way we‘re covering this is different than the way we usually cover everything because of the restrictions on information getting both into and out of Egypt. That as Ron is giving us first-person confirmation of the way he has been harassed as a journalist in Cairo and by whom I‘m having this instinct, even though I‘m live on camera talking to you, like excuse me for a second, I actually have to tweet that, because that‘s the means by which people are getting this information out there in a—in small-tech ways even as we‘re broadcasting nationally right now.
I will also say, I need to beg pardon for a moment of earnestness. In this critical moment, for the world journalists from all over the news media are doing their finest work. It‘s urgent. It‘s brave. It‘s responsible. It‘s important.
It doesn‘t mean, though, that there aren‘t some folks that are completely embarrassing themselves. We have a very important reminder coming up about responsibility versus the alternative. And yes, we have tape.
We also have the interview tonight with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
It‘s all ahead. Please stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: Those who want a caliphate and those who want communism or a new world order, they all need the same thing first: unrest and chaos. This is unmistakably planned.
Unrest could spread like wildfire across the Middle East and into Europe. We‘re already seeing it. It‘s called the coming insurrection.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Will democracy take shape, or will a radical Islamic caliphate soon form?
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE: We need the army to keep Egypt from moving in the direction of an Islamic caliphate.
BECK: One word—caliphate.
The caliphate is driving some.
This isn‘t driven by the caliphate.
All Islamic governments would unify under a caliphate.
That‘s a caliphate. Saudi Arabia, God help them, I don‘t know what happens to those guys. But you can call it a new world order or a caliphate, but the world right now is being divvied up and the uber left and the Islamicists and the global elites are moving in the same direction.
ERIC BOLLING, FBN: Here‘s the caliphate. This is where the Muslim Islamists held a great portion of the United States—or the world, I‘m sorry, spreading all the way into Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: What is happening in Egypt is one of those great reminders of how important the press is. When whether or not the press is able to do its job is one of the determining factors in whether a revolution succeeds or fails.
For Americans, I think it is a day to be proud that we have a constitutionally protected free press. However, just because the media is important to the outcome of an event like this does not mean that an event like this brings out the best in all the media. Por ejemplo, our friends Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity across the street at the FOX News Channel, they seem to be having a hard time this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Here is Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood want this. We‘ve got this. This is their official memorandum from the Muslim Brotherhood about the—about their plans for North America. We showed you in their own words that their goals include the transformation of America into an Islamic state, the destruction of the Western world. Well, I want to show you their branches or spinoffs that they‘ve created, operating in the United States. Here in America, they are spreading their influence here through these organizations and internationally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We called this segment “Seriously?” for a reason. On Glenn Beck‘s show in the afternoon on the FOX News Channel, what you need to know about what‘s going on in Egypt, is that it means America will be forced to become an Islamic state—start hoarding food, or whatever.
On Mr. Hannity‘s show in the evening, it is almost better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: The Obama administration‘s policies are being viewed through and actually articulated and now implemented through influence operations that the Muslim brotherhood itself is running in our own country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Muslim brotherhood you keep hearing about in Egypt—actually, it‘s the implementation arm of the Obama administration. Here at home, as long as you‘re watching Sean Hannity‘s hour on FOX News at night, at night, alone, with the lights off and a flashlight under your chin.
That same Hannity guest who says the Muslim Brotherhood is secretly running the Obama administration, or whatever, the Web site “Think Progress” caught up with him this weekend. They asked him exactly who in the Obama administration is secretly in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood. Naturally, he named names.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAFFNEY: John Brennan, who is the homeland security adviser to the president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s complicit in this creep of Sharia law?
GAFFNEY: He‘s absolutely daft on what the nature of the threat is and is insistent upon using Brotherhood-front organizations as sources of information, as vehicles for reaching out to the Muslim-American community.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has said that these sorts of groups are “sources of wisdom,” as he puts it, to the United States government.
Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, is incessantly meeting with Muslim Brotherhood front organizations and I think has in the past, if not today, employed people associated with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, the director of national intelligence, the president‘s homeland security adviser, and, of course, al-Janet al-Napolitano, they‘re all Muslim Brotherhood, don‘t you know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I have here a list of the names of 207 persons who are known by the secretary of defense as being members of the communist party!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Egypt is a big complicated and important story. For some folks in the media, including some folks reporting at FOX News, it is really bringing out their best work. And I mean that uncynically. But also, there‘s Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. God bless them.
MADDOW: A week ago, Tuesday, the western world was just about as shocked by the massive protests in the streets of Egypt as we were by the hammers coming out against the Berlin Wall in 1989.
But is this a Berlin Wall falling kind of moment? Is this something that not only changes the country where it‘s happening but it changes the whole region, the whole balance of world power?
If it is, we will frankly only know it in hindsight. It is hard to tell what resonance this has on the rest of the world while it is still happening and before it resonates.
Even though we talk about the Arab world or the Middle East or sometimes even the Muslim world as if it is a unified thing, it is not. There‘s no equivalent of a Soviet Union unifying these diverse countries the way that the Soviet Union did the Soviet bloc.
The connection between protests in one Arab country, between one Muslim country and protests in another is as yet untested. But the protesters themselves are making that connection.
What happened in Tunisia is being named by the protesters themselves as the spark that set them off. “The New York Times” reporting on Egyptian protesters this weekend, quote, “Playing on the long-standing chance of Islamists that Islam is the solution, saying instead Tunisia is the solution.”
The BBC reported on the January 25th protests in Egypt that one of the chants heard on the street was simply, “Tunisia, Tunisia, Tunisia,” which then morphed into “Egypt, Egypt, Egypt.”
Here‘s demonstrators in Algeria two Saturdays ago. The protester on the left is draped in the Algerian flag, the protester on the right in the Tunisian flag. Here‘s more from Algeria, both the Algerian and Tunisian flags in the streets.
When student protesters in Yemen called on their president to leave office, NPR says they chanted “Get out, get out, Ali, join your friend Ben Ali.” Ben Ali is the deposed leader from Tunisia.
A Facebook page calling for protests in Sudan says, quote, “Our brothers in Tunisia did it and so did our brothers in Egypt. It is about time for us.” These guys are making the connection explicitly.
So is this a Berlin Wall moment? Is what happens in Cairo going to catalyze movements in other countries that may topple other governments or risk that? Tunisia led to Cairo. What does Cairo lead to?
We do not know yet, and there‘s no risk - there‘s no percentage in conspiracy theorizing about it, and there‘s a lot of risk in conspiracy theorizing about it. Things turning bloody in Cairo, though, will not help its chances of resonating in other countries.
If the view on television of the Berlin Wall coming down had looked more like the left side of your screen, these scenes from Cairo, if it had looked more like that instead of what‘s on the right side, instead of the jubilance we saw in Berlin, if it had looked as bloody as Tahrir Square looked last night, the Berlin Wall falling may not have been a Berlin Wall falling moment either.
Here‘s something though that‘s getting lost. Even as everybody goes to their regional maps and tries to show the connections between the different protests in the different countries, if, as the protesters say, this all started in Tunisia, that Tunisia is the inspiration, it is worth noting that it‘s not like things in Tunisia are settled and all hunky-dory.
It‘s not over in Tunisia. Protests continued after the president left there. The transitional government, only weeks old, has already been shuffled and reshuffled and reshuffled.
Last week shopkeepers, armed with sticks and knives, fought with protesters in the capital. News reports said it wasn‘t clear whether the protesters were demonstrators still unhappy with the transitional government or gangs loyal to the exiled former president trying to keep the chaos alive.
This week, a synagogue was reportedly set on fire in Tunisia. Students were evacuated amid rumors that a gang was rampaging through schools. The interior minister said a mob of thousands of people attacked his ministry. All of which led him to charge that members of the security force are engaged in a conspiracy to undermine the very new, very fragile country that is Tunisia.
And even as this transitional government tries to hold on, formerly exiled leaders, including seemingly very popular Islamist leaders, are returning to the country.
Tunisia may be the model in terms of toppling an unpopular dictator. It may be the model for protesters. But Tunisia is no model yet. At least, it‘s not a completed model yet for what ultimately becomes of that revolution. It is still as yet unresolved. We don‘t yet know what happens once even that dictator is gone.
Maybe this is the Berlin Wall falling. Maybe this is Tiananmen Square. We do not yet know, and we will not know until it‘s over. But it is worth being precise about the details of what we‘re talking about in the meantime.
Joining us now is former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. She‘s chair of the National Democratic Institute and the Albright-Stonebridge Group. Madam Secretary, thank you so much for taking time to join us tonight.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER UNITED STATE SECRETARY OF STATE: Great to be with you, Rachel, and terrific coverage. Thank you for asking me.
MADDOW: Oh, well, thank you for the compliment. We‘ve had word tonight - the “New York Times” has reported tonight that the administration is negotiating with Egyptian officials for Mr. Mubarak to step down immediately, handing over power to his vice president for a transitional government.
The U.S. Government is saying - taking some distance from that “New York Times” report. But it made me want to ask you, why would another government in this kind of circumstance do what the United States wants in this kind of a negotiation?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the truth of the matter here is that it‘s up to the Egyptian people to decide what is going to happen. And I do think that that‘s a very important point.
The administration has been making that point over and over again, is that the Egyptian people are the ones that are speaking. They need to be able to have their voices heard.
And you know, Rachel, there are a number of different ways to go about this. And certainly, the way that you‘ve been reporting that the Egyptian government is acting is definitely not the way to get involved in a transition.
President Obama has talked about the necessity of a peaceful transition. And we know that there are different methods of doing this.
For instance, round tables or caretaker governments or interim governments that, in fact, have a set of duties that they need to perform, is lift the emergency measures and prepare for new elections and have an independent electoral commission and monitoring of elections.
So we know that there are different ways to do this. And beating people up is not the way to do it.
MADDOW: President Obama has been - and Secretary of State Clinton have been very clear that they want a transition to begin now in Egypt and that they want the government to not use violence to try to hold on to power.
Neither of those things is happening. What kind of consequences can the United States insist on given that Egypt is already not doing what they want?
ALBRIGHT: Well, frankly, this is not a story that the United States can control. I mean, this is definitely the Egyptian people, and they are being remarkable.
If you think about the way that they protested for a number of days peacefully, really voicing their views, I think your introductory comments about how one thing affects another - clearly, they were influenced by what was going on in Tunisia.
But each of the countries is a bit different. There are different circumstances. And again, you pointed that out, that we need to understand fully what is happening in each one.
And here the Egyptian people, huge numbers of young people who have felt that they didn‘t have any dignity, didn‘t have the capability of speaking, were not having any part of any economic miracle, are the ones that are out there.
And one hopes that the violence can go away and that there can be a peaceful way of demonstrating that the Egyptian government will react to positively.
MADDOW: If the violence continues to get worse, I‘m thinking specifically about the large-scale protests that are expected just a few hours from now, Friday after prayers in Cairo, if the bloodshed gets worse, what are the international community‘s options to try to stop another Tiananmen Square, to try to stop large-scale state violence against citizens?
ALBRIGHT: I think it‘s actually - I hate to say this - very difficult, because the international community can make statements.
A number of the leaders have already spoken about this including, obviously, President Obama and other leaders and to make it very clear that this is an unacceptable way to behave.
But ultimately, you pointed out, that the peaceful approach to this is the only way. And Egypt is a great country with an incredible history.
And one would think that the statement that President Mubarak made that he was a great patriot, that he would get the picture, that this is not the way to make sure that Egyptian - Egypt as a country is respected, but it‘s very hard for the international community to interfere.
This is an Egyptian issue and the Egyptian people are speaking very loudly. Which is why, frankly, all your points about the journalists are so well taken. This story has to be out there.
An awful lot is happening through the social networks. But the journalists play a very important role. And our government has said that it‘s unacceptable for journalists to be beaten up.
And you are all very much a part of this story. And getting the story out is very important.
MADDOW: Madam Secretary, if - because Egypt has been such a major recipient of U.S. aid, obviously most of it military aid, but in general in terms of the total amount they get from us, it‘s a ton.
They get - we only give more money, as far as I understand it, to Israel. If there is a new Egyptian government, is it feasible that the U.S. could insist on secularism in that new government as a qualification for continued aid and close relations?
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think people need to understand where the aid story begins. And it begins with the Israeli-Egyptian peace deal, Camp David, where in fact there was a way saying both Israel and Egypt would get assistance and it is very much linked to that.
The United States reviews its assistance policies all the time.
That is part of what goes on. And there are ways to condition assistance. But I think that people need to understand what the genesis of the assistance is.
But obviously, it is one of the tools that is in the national security toolbox in terms of affecting the behavior of a government.
Now, the other part that I think is really important to think about is that there are numbers of groups that are demonstrating. Among them are Muslims who want in fact to be part of a peaceful government.
And I think something that has not been mentioned is the example, for instance, of Indonesia. Suharto, who had been a dictator, was ousted in the late ‘90s, and he was replaced by a moderate Muslim secular government.
And so it is - you know, people talk about the Iran model, but there is the Indonesian model. And I think that where we should be looking for various groups within Egypt that are part of what is known as the people‘s parliament, that they‘re already talking about how to create a government that would be inclusive with secular Muslims in it that would obviously allow women to vote and do some of the things that Secretary Clinton talked about in her speech at Doha.
MADDOW: Do you have an assessment of where the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood right now would fall on the sort of continuum between Iran and Indonesia as you spelled it out?
ALBRIGHT: Well, they are actually also not a monolithic group. As you mentioned, you know, the Muslim world is not monolithic. And there are those who are willing to give up terrorist - or the use of force.
And if they are to be members of any government, they would have to in fact abide by the rules of using peaceful means to operate.
And I think one of the issues here has been that the Mubarak government, by dividing the political situation instead of kind of saying the Muslim Brotherhood is illegal, the only choice is the Muslim Brotherhood and violence or us, has made it very difficult for these middle-level groups to operate.
You mentioned that I was chairman of the board of the National Democratic Institute. We have been working within Egypt for a long time in terms of developing various aspects of civil society and talking to various and dealing with opposition groups who are prepared to participate in a fair and free election.
The thing that started this off was that the last parliamentary elections were completely fraudulent. And so whatever mechanism is used has to insist on free and fair elections monitored internationally and having an independent electoral commission.
And if Muslim groups, including part of the Muslim Brotherhood, will give up any violent means then I believe - I said this in a study I did with Congressman Vin Weber on the Council of Foreign Relations in 2005, that if you give up violent means and are prepared to be part of a secular government, then one has to have an inclusive system that allows various groups to exist.
MADDOW: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright helping us make some news tonight in terms of potential diplomatic means forward. Thank you very much for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.
ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: MSNBC‘s Egypt coverage is going to be really good in the next hour on “THE ED SHOW” with my friend, Ed Schultz.
Ed‘s going to be talking with a photojournalist who was physically attacked today in Cairo and has a really dramatic story about it to tell. Stay tuned for that. We‘ve got more ahead.
MADDOW: Joining us now live by phone from Cairo is a senior producer for “Democracy Now”, Sharif Abdel Kouddous. Sharif, thank you for staying up late with us. I really appreciate your time.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS, SENIOR PRODUCER, “DEMOCRACY NOW” (through telephone): Thank you having on again, Rachel.
MADDOW: What have you seen in the past 24 hours, Sharif? What can you tell us about the strength of the protests and the level of the violence now?
KOUDDOUS: Rachel, I‘m actually speaking to you from the heart of Tahrir Square right now. Yesterday, I was here when the pro-Mubarak thugs they call (UNINTELLIGIBLE) entered Tahrir Square.
What we saw yesterday was a coordinated campaign of violence by the Mubarak regime to try to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people of the street that were taken by the pro-democracy forces here in Egypt.
And the level of violence was severe. I mean, you can‘t walk 10 yards here in Tahrir without seeing someone bandaged, without seeing someone in a cast, without seeing someone cut up or bleeding.
I was in a - there was a makeshift hospital here that‘s set up inside a mosque. There‘s stab wounds. There‘s gunshot wounds. These are men, women, children.
I spoke to one woman who was tending to a boy who couldn‘t have been older than five or six years old. He had a big bruise on the right side of his face. And I asked her about him and she said, “He‘s a revolutionary. He‘s fighting for his future.”
So people here are resolute. There‘s many people here in Tahrir right now. They‘re defiant in the face of this brutality and resolute in defending Tahrir. Tahrir means “liberation.” And what they say here is “Liberation square until liberation.”
MADDOW: Sharif, do you personally feel safe in Tahrir Square? And how did you make the decision to be there overnight tonight versus where else you could have been in Cairo?
KOUDDOUS: Honestly, Rachel, this is probably the safest place for me right now in all of Cairo. We‘ve seen a crackdown on journalists across Cairo right now, on the streets outside of Tahrir.
Journalists are being detained. Journalists are being interrogated. We‘ve also seen a crackdown on human rights workers, workers from the Hashem Mubarak(ph), who has no relation to Hosni - Hashem Mubarak(ph) human rights workers have been detained.
Amnesty International folks have been detained, as was Human Rights Watch. That‘s the reports I‘m getting inside here. But inside Tahrir, you know, the people here welcome journalists.
And the so, you know, I feel much safer being actually here than out on the streets of Cairo.
MADDOW: Sharif, it‘s an important point that there‘s a very different reaction to journalists from the two different sides in this conflict. Let me ask you about a third side, which is the military.
Has there been any change in the willingness of the military top intervene, either to keep peace or to take one side in the conflict?
KOUDDOUS: Look, what happened yesterday - you know, I‘ve been always saying that the people here were always convinced that the army wouldn‘t harm them. I still think that‘s true.
But what I don‘t think they ever imagined was that the military would let these thugs come in on horseback, on camels to attack them, to throw rocks at them, to throw Molotov cocktails at them and to lay siege to this place to try and force them out.
Having said that, the military did intervene when machine gun fire opened last night. And I watched running battles today on the outskirts of Tahrir between pro-Mubarak forces and pro-democracy forces launching rocks back and forth at each other.
The military blew smoke out of a tank and fired gunshots in the air to try and quell it. But overall, they kind of have a standoffish position here.
But there are also, you know - there‘s infiltrators here in Tahrir who are kind of like spies inside here. And once in a while, they‘ll get caught and you‘ll see having been roughed up a little bit.
And they show that they have police ID. You know, they pull out the national - the cards show police ID. And the people take them to the military to be taken into custody, so they are working together.
MADDOW: Sharif Abdel Kouddous, activist and senior producer for “Democracy Now.” Sharif, I would not have volunteered that you were calling us from Tahrir Square. I know you felt safe in volunteering that. Please stay safe. Please stay in touch with us.
KOUDDOUS: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Thank you. All right. Making one really complicated thing about Egypt makes sense by using two pictures, next.
MADDOW: Sometimes, it‘s easier to just show it rather than trying to explain it in words. Let‘s check this out. This graph shows what happened when Egypt shut the Internet down on Friday. Thunk(ph).
This is not a ski slope. This is a cliff. They turned it off.
Yesterday, they turned the Internet back on. Here‘s what that looked like. Same Y axis, same scale. Watch. Boink. The hunger for free expression as free as it‘s going to get right now in Egypt.
Here‘s one very specific reason it matters. These photos come from what amounts to an emergency field hospital that was set up yesterday in Tahrir Square, after pro-Mubarak forces attacked the protesters there, something that was just described to us by Sharif, but this is being able to see it.
People got seriously hurt, who need stitches and tourniquets and worse. Because the government turned the Internet back on, somebody in Cairo was able to upload these, to post them in real time on Facebook so we now have this documentation, this evidence that these people are really hurt and they really need help.
Appreciating the importance of tech and communications in a crisis like this, though, does not mean you have to romanticize it or assume that its benefits always redound to one side.
For example, when the government plugged the Internet back in, they also restored cell service. Then, the cell phone company, Vodafone, said the government forced them to send unsigned text messages about how honorable people will give up this whole revolution thing.
Twitter watchers also report very suspicious activity. Suspicious accounts popping up yesterday like this one saying this isn‘t a revolution, it‘s the media uprising a disaster, saying, “Watch out for the dangers of sedition,” signed just another one of the many average Egyptian citizens whose pro-Mubarak Twitter account seems to be created at exactly the same time.
But through all the new lies and the noise, here‘s what it looks like now. If this revolution has a prayer of winning, it will be with information and with nonviolence, because when it‘s your real injuries and it‘s the government‘s fake text messages, the world can see the difference.
As we come to you tonight, what looks to be like a very long day of protest is just dawning in Egypt and the whole world is still watching.
That does it for us tonight. Thanks for being with us. Now it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW.”
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