THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
April 16, 2013
Guests: Bon Borelli, Amby Burfoot
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thank you for joining us this hour.
The reason you cannot bring liquids into an airport and then unto an
airplane, the reason you have to buy little bottles of shampoo and dump out
your water and everything before you go through security is because of
this. In the summer of 2006, a group of terrorists with links to al-Qaeda
planned to board a bunch of different airplanes at Heathrow in London. All
the planes were to be flying from Heathrow to the United States.
And the way these guys were going to bomb those planes and make them crash
into the Atlantic Ocean was by bringing soda bottles on board those planes
that looked like they contained just soda or water, but in fact, they
contained concentrated hydrogen peroxide and the other components needed to
make hydrogen peroxide-based bombs.
The Heathrow guys got caught before they did it, they got stopped. But it
is now thanks to them that we have to buy humiliatingly tiny toiletries
like this hair goo, right?
It turns out it`s not just security in this case. It`s for a reason.
Hydrogen peroxide-based bombs, they are something that al Qaeda has
apparently trained in. The London bombings of 2005, the 777 bombings,
those were al-Qaeda linked terrorists and those were hydrogen peroxide-
based bombs on trains and buses in London. Those killed 52 people.
Four years later, there was an American copycat. In 2009, a guy tried to
buy a bunch of hydrogen peroxide from beauty stores in and around Aurora,
Colorado. That peroxide link raised enough eyebrows that it led to the
arrest of this guy, Najibullah Zazi. It turns out he was planning a
bombing like the London transit bombs, but he was going to do it in New
York instead, on the subway. Again, his plan was hydrogen peroxide.
Bomb styles have different pedigrees. They`re associated with different
groups, taught by specific means and being able to get specific about the
type of bomb used both gives investigators something to look for in terms
of looking for how and where that bomb was made. But it also gives them an
investigatory thread to pull in terms of the bombs authorship, in terms of
how the bomber might have learned to make that bomb or at least who the
bomber might have learned it from.
Sometimes, it works that way. And sometimes, that is the way they stop
plots ahead of time. Sometimes, that is the way they find the bombers
But we learned today from investigators in Boston that bombs detonated at
the finish line at the Boston marathon yesterday afternoon were bombs that
had a signature that is the kind that might be much harder to read.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What we`re told by
authorities, Andrea, is that they are crudely made. They appear to have
been assembled inside a pressure cooker, and inside a pot like this. A
pressure cooker is assembled the device. It includes a low power
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, we have a little bit of new information. Actually, just in
in the last couple of minutes from NBC News on this specifically. And I
want to tell you what NBC has told us.
Sources involved in the investigation are telling NBC News that the
pressure cooker bombs in Boston were designed and placed to act, quote,
"like a homemade claymore." Claymore, of course, is a powerful directional
antipersonnel device, so they don`t spray in 360 degrees. They`re
So these sources are telling NBC News, these and other sources, telling NBC
that the triggering mechanism appears to have included a battery pack and a
circuit board, which are elements they say of a sophisticated triggering
mechanism. Both of those elements of that triggering mechanism were
recovered at the scene.
Quote, "It appeared to be built from scratch, but with a sophisticated
triggering mechanism. And, frankly, at the end of the day, all bombs are
crude devices and it is the way they are triggered that can be
sophisticated. They functioned as designed."
Pressure cookers are exactly what you are thinking are. They are metal
cooking pots that clamp the top down tight with a tight seal, thereby
allowing you to cook food faster under pressure than if you were just using
heat alone with a normal lid like a normal cooking pot. If it sounds like
I am not a person who cooks, you`re right. But that is how pressure
To make a bomb out of a pressure cooker, you still need a explosively
flammable substance of some kind to put inside it, but it is the fact that
the pressure cooker can be tightly sealed, that`s important. It means that
when you ignite that material inside the cooker, it doesn`t just burn like
if it were out in the open, it goes boom.
It`s in a tightly sealed container. It is under pressure. So, it
explodes. And when it explodes, of course, the metal from the pressure
cooker itself becomes shrapnel that can kill or injured people around
beyond just the force of blast.
It is a simple enough concept for how to make a homemade bomb that the idea
of a pressure cooker bomb has been, well it`s been seen by law enforcement.
It`s been used by bombers all over the world.
Before the coordinated attack in Mumbai in 2008, that attack that lasted
three hold days and involved multiple grenade attacks and shootings and a
dozen attackers, two years before that Mumbai attack, there was another
very horrible attack in Mumbai. Seven coordinated bombs going off within
ten minutes of each other on commuters trains during the afternoon rush
It was a huge attack. Seven bombs all made out of pressure cookers, 209
people were killed, over 700 people were injured.
By the time of that monstrous attack, the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security had put out this bulletin on the potential terrorist use of
pressure cookers. Noting the pressure cooker bombs had been used in plots
or in disrupted plots in Nepal and in France and even before the bombings
in India and another incident.
Department of Homeland Security with that bulletin showed this picture of
soldiers in Malaysia with a bunch of confiscated pressure cookers.
Here`s something that kind of hard to get your head around. This is a Web
site I`m going to show from a Pennsylvania company that makes inert
explosives. So, not explosives that are going to explode, but explosives
that are otherwise real, and they make them for training purchases.
They build products that look like and act like bombs and trigger switches
for those things so that law enforcement and the military can train on how
to recognize them and detect them and avoid tripping them, to learn how to
disarm them. This company specifically sells not to the general public,
but to agencies with a right clearance, they specifically sell, look, dummy
pressure cooker IEDs to train on, as training devices, because there are so
many of them around, it`s the kind of thing that people who work in
explosives and ordnance disposal need to know how to deal with.
People put explosives in pressure cookers and blow them up not using a fuse
or a timer, but a gun shot. People do this in their backyards. You can
see it on YouTube. Pressure cooker bombs are the kind of thing that have
been around for a long time that people believe they can make relatively
Three summers ago, you might remember our coverage of al-Qaeda releasing a
magazine that tried to inspire homegrown terror attacks around the world.
Their first issue of this English language magazine included an article
called, "How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom," which was
hilarious on one hand. On the other, it also gave very specific
instructions on how to make pipe bombs and also pressure cooker bombs.
What we are now told is the type of bomb that blew up in Boston yesterday
does not seem to be an al-Qaeda signature bomb. What seems to be important
about it is that it`s a bit of a ubiquitous bomb, used all over the world
by all different kinds of bombers for a long time now. A bomb that al-
Qaeda has made deliberate efforts to try to insure as ubiquitously
accessible to anybody, as any other bomb-making technique of any other
kind, but it is one that has been around for a long time in a lot of
Look, there are a lot of bombings in the world. There wouldn`t need to be
companies in Scranton, Pennsylvania, making fake bombs to train on if there
weren`t a lot of bombs in the world.
But in the United States, bombing attempts do not usually succeed. Not
recently at least. We are used to attempted bombings that get thwarted or
that fizzled. Since 9/11, for example, the New York City hydrogen peroxide
bomb plot in 2009, the Times Square attempted bombing the following year,
that was an attempted pressure cooker bomb, by the way.
There was a bomb in a backpack packed with fishing weights for shrapnel.
That was planted in Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane in 2011. It
was discovered before it went off.
There was the guy strapped with explosives who stormed the Discovery
Channel in the fall of 2010 in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was killed by
There was the attempted underwear bomber, and the attempted shoe bomber.
There have been lots of attempts to bomb American targets in the dozen year
since 9/11, but there had been almost no successful bombing attacks, one in
which the explosives actually detonated and caused the intended damaged.
There was one small homemade bomb that didn`t do all that damage to a
Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin last year. It broke up the window
sill. There was a mail bomb sent to the diversity directory for the city
of Scottsdale, Arizona in 2004. That one did blew up. It did hurt the man
who was the intended target, but other than those, attempts at setting off
bombs in the United States since 9/11, there haven`t been in frequent.
There have been a lot of tries, but they have almost never been successful.
An uncomfortably large number of people are trying, almost nobody pulls it.
Why were they able to pull it off in Boston? Does it say something
important about the person or persons who bombed the Boston marathon, that
they were able to successfully detonate bombs when almost every other plot
in the last 12 years has been either dead or has been thwarted ahead of
time? Is that lack or is that training and how do we tell the difference?
And now that authorities tell us it was a pressure cooker bomb that went
off, is that a type of bomb that too ubiquitous, too international, too
generic, too widely understood. Too easily mastered to be able to point
investigators in a specific direction in this investigation?
Joining us now is Don Borelli. He`s a 25-year veteran of the FBI. At one
time, he`s the assistant special agent in charge of the New York Joint
Terrorism Task Force. Mr. Borelli is now chief operating officer of the
Soufan Group, a strategic consultancy.
Mr. Borelli, thank you very much for being here.
DON BORELLI, FORMER FBI AGENT: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, I don`t know anything about the subject of bombs. I`m trying
to learn it as I go, to be able to report it. Did I say anything in that
lead up that struck you? I think.
BORELLI: No, I think you were spot on. I mean, the pressure cooker bomb
is not a unique phenomenon. We`ve seen it. Like you said. In other
investigations, plans to make these bombs are available online. It`s
relatively crude, but it`s nonetheless effective.
You pointed out the difference between the bombs that we saw for the
Najibullah Zazi plot where this person, Najibullah Zazi, went and had
specific training in Pakistan, Afghanistan, learned how to make the
concentrated hydrogen peroxide into TATP and was going to use that as a
main component. That takes training and, you know, a bit of practice,
which he did, he practiced making it in Denver, and then ultimately came to
New York. That plot was thwarted because of good intelligence.
This is a different situation here. These are materials that are readily
available. Hardware stores, sporting good stores. The plans are
One of the things that I think will be interesting you brought is, how was
-- what was the charging mechanism? You talk about circuit boards and
timers and setting, you know, a directional charge.
These are some of the things that add a degree of sophistication to a bomb
that`s otherwise crude. Normally, you can take one of these devices, you
can set it up, you can get something like an egg timer, a battery and a
wire and relatively crude, and set it and walk away, and if you wired it
right, it will explode.
But depending on what components are found, some advanced circuitry may
mean there`s a level of training this person had. I guess the folks at the
FBI laboratory that will be analyzing this will be able to know in short
MADDOW: I wanted to ask you about that actually. What we`ve heard is that
the evidence related to the bomb has been taken to the Terrorist Explosive
Device Analytical Center.
MADDOW: What is it?
MADDOW: TEDAC, at the FBI labs in Quantico. What happens there?
BORELLI: They will look, they`ll put and try to compare this bomb, the
signature of this bomb to other ones that they`ve seen to try to find there
are similarities, they will try to get a almost -- bomb makers tend to
follow a pattern. When they have something that works, they stay with it.
So, they`ll compare it to see if this looks like something similar to other
bombs that they`ve seen. They`ll try to do details analysis on the pieces.
So, for example, they may find just a shred of a wire. Well, when they
look at that wire under a microscope, it`s going to have particular, you
know, a set of marks. So that could be an investigative lead, maybe not
right now, but down the road.
So, for example, let`s say that they run a search warrant on a location and
they find a pair of wire cutters. They can take the wire cutters and look
and compare and see if these wire cutters cut the wire for this device and
now you`re linking a person or a place to a particular device. So, there`s
a lot of investigative leads that come out just by looking at the various
components of these bombs.
MADDOW: Obviously, you`re not directly involved in this investigation in
Boston. If you put yourself in the mind set of an investigator who was
heading up Joint Terrorism Task Force looking into this, would you have
been hoping for a more exotic weapon? Would that have been easier to trace
than something that is deliberately ubiquitous the way it is?
BORELLI: Well, I mean, a more exotic weapon that was effective would have
probably killed more people. So, thankfully, you know, the loss of life
and certainly don`t want to minimize a people that were killed, but if it
was a bomb made with TATP, higher explosive, more shrapnel, maybe set in a
different place where the shrapnel was going higher at head level, we could
have seen a lot more deaths and serious injuries.
So I think --
MADDOW: Uniqueness of this, though, is not -- this is not a unique, the
type of structure.
BORELLI: The more kind of plain Jane it is, the more readily available the
materials are in the open market. The harder it`s going to be to
backtrack, you know, specifically to where was this pressure cooker or
pressure cookers purchased. Where was this circuit board obtained? You
know, the more plain vanilla it is, it makes that search so much wider.
MADDOW: Don Borelli, formerly of the FBI, now chief operation officer of
the Soufan Group, it`s really helpful to have you here. Thank you very
BORELLI: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: I`m going to talk to you again about this if you wouldn`t mind
MADDOW: All right.
In terms of the latest information from Boston tonight, some of the basics
of what we know are the same as they were yesterday. But some information
has shifted in the past 24 hours.
As of now, the confirmed death toll on the blast is tree. We can name two
of the three who were killed. They are 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of
Medford, Massachusetts. She had been at the finish line yesterday to cheer
on a friend who was running.
The youngest victim is 8-year-old Martin Richard. He was in the crowd
watching the marathon with both parents, his older brother and his younger
sister. His mother and sister were both critically injured and are said to
be in tough shape tonight.
Martin Richard`s father has released a statement, quote, "My dear son,
Martin, has died from injury sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife
and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our
family and friends, those we know and those we have never met for their
thoughts and prayers."
The third victim killed has been identified as a Boston University graduate
student from China. Now, the student`s name has not been released, pending
permission to do so from the family. And we will honor that absolutely.
The grad student was one of three friends who have been watching the race
near the finish line. Of the three who were standing together, one was
killed, one was unharmed and the other was injured and is now in stable
condition and Boston Medical Center as of tonight.
Of the 176 who were injured overall, 71 of the wounded remain hospitalized
tonight at Boston hospitals. Of the 71, 24 are in critical condition as of
Boston Medical Center has 19 patients. The hospital saying the majority of
them will require further surgery over the next several days.
Brigham and Women`s hospital has 15 patients, five of them critical. Mass
General has 12 patients, eight of them critical. Beth Israel has 12
patients, two in critical condition. Boston Children`s has three patients,
two in critical condition. And at Tufts, there are 10 patients injured in
the blast, thankfully, none with life threatening injuries.
At the site of the bombings as of right now, investigators have still
closed down a crime scene that measures about one square mile. You can see
that mark on your screen here. It`s a roughly triangular square mile, but
that`s how much ground they are now pouring over for evidence.
The Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the FBI director, Robert
Mueller and NSA Director Keith Alexander, interestingly, briefed members of
the House and Senate intelligence committees this afternoon.
In terms of what Bostonians are doing tonight, all across the city of
Boston tonight and in surrounding communities, there have been vigils and
public events. The largest of tonight`s vigil is taking place at Boston
Common, less than a mile from where the bombs went off yesterday afternoon.
Eight-year-old Martin Richard was remembered tonight at a vigil in his
local parish church at St. Ann`s in Dorchester. The doors were open for
official vigils tonight.
At the St. James Church in Somerville, doors are open, the Arlington Church
in Boston Proper, St. Paul Church and the North Street Community Church and
the Nazarene and Hingham. There are events tonight at Boston University,
at Brandeis University. At the Harvard Divinity School across the river in
Cambridge. People in Milton tonight gathering for a vigil for the victims
as well as a vigil for the marathon itself.
The White House announcing today that President Obama will travel to Boston
the day after tomorrow to speak at an interfaith service at Boston`s
Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The president branding the attack as an act
of terrorism, but adding officials don`t know, quote, "whether it was
planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or
if it was the act of a malevolent individual."
Finding out who did this may or may not start with that mile wide crime
scene that law enforcement is poring over as we speak for clues and
evidence. What officials are trying to get from the public, that`s next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AGENT RICHARD DESLAURIERS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: I urge anybody who
has any information pertaining to this crime to call 1-800-CALLFBI: This
is a tip line that we have set up to ready to receive tips that might come
in or leads that might come in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After the bombing at the Boston marathon yesterday, one of the
first things the investigators said to the public was, we need your help.
The tip line they set up is, quote, "For anyone who has information, visual
images and/or details regarding the explosions along the Boston marathon
route and elsewhere." Send us whatever information you have, in other
Quote, "No piece of information or detail is too small."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENE MARQUEZ, SPECIAL ATF AGENT: We would like to review any kind of media
that you have out there. That might give us additional investigative
DESLAURIERS: Importantly, the person who did this is someone`s friend,
neighbor, coworker or relative. We`re asking anyone who may have heard
someone speak about the marathon or the date of April 15th in any way that
indicated that he or she may target the event to call us. We ask that
business review and preserve a video surveillance video and other business
records in their original form.
Already, the FBI has received more than 2,000 tips as of noon today, many
of which have already been reviewed, analyzed and vetted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There were thousands of pictures taken yesterday before, during
and after the bombing. Investigators essentially saying they want all of
it. Do piece of information or detail is too small, do not self-sensor, do
not hold back. Send in everything.
In addition to calling 1-800-CALLFBI, people can also call any local Boston
police precinct and report information anonymously. They can also reach
the police department on Facebook or on Twitter. Authorities keep
stressing no piece of information is -- no piece of information, no detail
is too small.
When you think about it, that means they are not trying to avoid being
overwhelmed by a flood of information. They are in fact asking for a flood
of information and they are, in fact, getting a flood of information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The response has been amazing. They have and pardon me for
using a geeky computer term, three terabytes of video and still. I`m not
sure I know how to translate into how many minutes of video or how many
individual still pictures that would be. But needless to say, it`s a huge
amount of material and they say they`re going to look at all of it.
They`re asking people who are living the airport, people who were, who flew
into the race. They have people out of the airport asking them if they
have any picture that they want to share.
So they ask repeatedly during this morning`s news conference for pictures
and stills. So, obviously, they believe that`s a very, very important
source of evidence for them and they are pushing hard to get pictures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: By asking people for everything, by asking for people to send in
everything that might conceivably be related to the bombings, authorities
are saying implicitly that they`re not worried about being swamped or
overwhelmed, that they have the ability to mind this data and will make
something useful of it that will be worth more than the time they spend
sifting through it all.
Are they right?
Joining us now is Michael Leiter. He`s an MSNBC and NBC national security
analyst. He`s former director of the National Counterterrorism Center,
which is a really big deal.
Michael Leiter, thank you for being here.
MICHAEL LEITER, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: I feel like asking for all the information in the world is asking
for so much information that you can`t conceivably get anything that might
be useful. Why are they so confident they can data mine this stuff?
LEITER: Well, they`re not going to data mine it perfectly, I`ll tell you
that right now. If you look at what happened in London around July 7, 2005
when they had bombings, there were hours and hours of videotape. It took
the British months to get through that.
Now, the FBI and U.S. intelligence community is better at that. Technology
is advanced. But it`s going to take them a while to get through this.
They`re going the start as close as possible to the event, to the
explosions and move out from there. So, my nat data first and then slowly
but surely, they`ll get through the rest of those photos, the rest of that
And over time, but it will be weeks. They will have a better sense of what
might be connected to other factors, like the bags that they think carried
the bombs. Things like that otherwise they would miss. So I think it`s
great, get this now, because it`s difficult to be preserved otherwise.
MADDOW: Is this -- is that an approach that has evolved over the past 12
years? Is that not the way they would have approached this before 9/11?
Before we had this huge investment in intelligence since then?
LEITER: I think two things have really changed. First, we simply didn`t
have access to all this video and photo technology that is ubiquitous
today. There are far more official video cameras out there, in hotels and
restaurants and people are walking around with iPhones. Everybody is
videoing this event. Is there a loved one crosses the finish line?
The second is a much greater ability to deal with these massive amounts of
data and the technology there has absolutely improved and the U.S.
government and the intelligence community has been on the forefront of
adopting that technology.
MADDOW: Is there a risk they`re asking for too much? You think about the
sort of assessments we made in what went wrong in missing 9/11, not knowing
it was going to happen, the warnings that happened ahead of there. They
got lost in the haystacks. Is there still a risk?
LEITER: There`s a risk they`re going to get lost with too much, but --
MADDOW: It`s outweighed by that.
LEITER: It is, because otherwise, they`ll never have it.
You know, restaurants, hotels, routinely delete these recordings after a
couple of days or even a week. So, it got to get it now, preserve it and
eventually, they`ll get to it.
MADDOW: One though that we just spoke about with Don Borelli, we just got
new news tonight through NBC, sources telling NBC that the triggering
mechanism on the devices, while the devices themselves may not have been
the world`s most sophisticated bombs, the triggering devices involved,
circuit boards may have otherwise been a little more sophisticated than
we`ve previously been led to believe. Is that important to the
LEITER: I think it`s mostly because circuit boards could be more easily
traceable than other components of the explosive device, you know, ball
bearings, you might be able to trace them, but they`re pretty common.
Backpacks, maybe similarly so, but circuit boards generally have some
signatures that you can track back to a specific item where it was made and
potentially where it was purchased.
So, in that sense, I think it`s probably --
MADDOW: It doesn`t necessarily indicate something specific about the
bomber, any level of training, anything like that, but it could help you
LEITER: No, exactly. And I would just say, the point of sophistication --
LEITER: The most sophisticated device is one that works and that is where
these guys or this person succeeded.
MADDOW: Michael Leiter, I am supposed to good night you right now, but I
don`t want to. I have one more question to ask about a thing that I was
going to report without here. Will you stay and I`ll pay you or something?
LEITER: I think you do any way.
MADDOW: Oh, good. Hold one moment. Corporate masters. We have to pay
them a little bit more. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is a picture of castor beans. From castor beans comes castor
oil, which has many uses including in the polyurethane industry and, if you
must know, as a laxative. When you mash castor beand to get castor isle
oil, there are a bunch of different byproducts, including a deadly poison
ricin. If you can acquire castor beans, in other words, you can acquire
one component of one of the most famous do it yourself poisons.
Ricin is not easy to make, but it is theoretically at least makeable with
things that are not illegal to obtain in their initial state. With the
country glued to the investigation of the relatively low-tech explosives
that wrought disaster at the Boston Marathon yesterday, late this
afternoon, news broke that a letter addressed and sent to the Washignton,
D.C. office of Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker was screened in an off site
mail facility before it reached the U.S. Capitol and the letter tested
positive for ricin.
It is now being tested by the FBI to make sure it was not a false positive.
None of the postal workers were exposed to the poison. Joining us once
again, because I made him stay, is Michael Leiter, former director of the
National Counterterrorism Center. Michael, do you have any perspective for
us on what a test for ricin is and whether or not this is something to
LEITER: So there are three basic tests. There`s the initial screening, that
proved positive. There`s a field test, that proved positice, and there`s a
final test, which is a lab test and that takes about 24 hours. What I
would stress is that false positives in those first two are relativity
common. It doesn`t mean that we don`t have to be concerned about this, it
doesn`t mean that the final test might not be positive, but in my time as
the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, we saw fairly
routinely false positives in the field test and things prove not to be
ricin in the end.
MADDOW: And again, we have no idea what the lab test is going to say, but
is ricin one of the things that more frequently gets false positives than
other things that we hear about?
LEITER: It`s fairly common. We`ve seen more ricin than we do things like
anthrax, but basically powder in letters is a very common occurrence.
People don`t hear about it much, but obviously after an event like this, it
gets a lot of publicity.
MADDOW: Michael Leiter, MSNBC and NBC national security analyst, former
director of the National Counterterrorism Center. I owe you. Thank you for
staying. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: If you are not a person who runs marathons, one of the jarring
things about the official program for the Boston Marathon this year is that
it is mostly full of ads for other marathons. So, like the Kansas City
Marathon, which is about running a marathon and also eating barbecue. The
Bermuda Marathon which can be run in January because Bermuda has very nice
weather. Six different half marathons in six different American wine
country regions. There is a ladies only half marathon at Niagara Falls
where they put right in the ad that the porta-potties are really nice,
because since there`s no men in this race, they can put flowers in the
It is easy to forget if you`re not a runner, that marathon running is a
whole big culture and industry and if you are going to run something like
the Boston Marathon, it is likely the case you have been training your
whole long life just to be able to do this on race once. You are quite
likely someone who is going to do it again.
Some people do run 26.2 once in their whole life, but a lot of people run
16.2 miles as often as they can. So often they have a preference on the
In the days immediately after 9/11, New York City stepped up security in a
really visible way. There were soldiers in the train stations and airports
carrying military rifles. You could not miss the very visible response.
They stopped playing baseball everywhere in America after 9/11. When the
games resumed later that month, you had to go through new security checks
to get into the stadiums and at first, it took a long time to get everybody
searched and into their seats because the extra checking was new and we are
not yet good at it, but at least a baseball stadium is in a contained
place. Even in those scary days, a stadium seemed like a place you could
make secure if you we went to enough trouble. New York City even hosted a
World Series after 9/11 that year.
But something like this, something like a marathon route. It`s 26 miles
long. This is not nearly so easily locked down and secured. These
pictures are of the New York City marathon which happens every year in
November. In Chicago and Fargo and Bermuda and Niagara Falls where ever,
marathons everywhere tend to be profoundly open, public events. Marathon
crowds crowd in close. They slap runners high-fives. They offer the
runners water and orange slices. In 2001, New York City just had a few,
short, crazy weeks after the terrorist attacks to figure out whether or not
they were going to hold this kind of race. The New York City Marathon,
across 26 very open miles, right after 9/11. In 2001, New York decided not
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As maybe people across the country don`t know, but
Sunday is the New York City Marathon, 30,000 runners, with over 100,000
spectators. Can an event of that size and magnitude be adequately
protected, Mr. Mayor?
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK CITY: Darn right it can be, just the way the
three World Series games were.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us what kind of security you have in
GIULIANI: A lot. We never tell the kind of security we have in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What kind of security for the marathon? A lot and no, whether he
not you what it is. Heading into the 2001 marathon in New York City, again
right after 9/11, runners were warned not to take the orange slices or the
water from strangers along the route as a security precaution.
New York City held its breath and the runners shoved off from Staten
Island, out through the boroughs, and then into Central Park. The race
came off great. It came off safely.
We do not yet know why the Boston Marathon was attacked yesterday, killing
three people, injuring more than 170 people. It could have simply been
chosen as a site where it could be guaranteed that there would be a lot of
people. It could have been chosen as a symbol of something or other. It
was Patriots Day in Massachusetts. It was tax day for the county. This
week has any number of other anniversaries that might be meaningful to
somebody who wants to kill people for some reason. It could have been an
attack on Boston specifically. It could have been an attack on America
generally, and this is just where it happened to hit.
But in the immediate sense, what happened yesterday was an attack on the
highest profile moment of the highest profile event of a relatively low-
profile unique culture, which is the marathoners, the endurers, the whip-
thin, test of limits, addictive contenders doing something that`s not much
like anything else in our American culture. In our instant rewards world,
marathoners are after a gratification not just delayed, it is a form of
gratification that most of us have a hard time believing can conceivably be
But that difference fosters fellowship among marathon runners and that has
fostered culture and that has fostered now, even a whole economy that you
wouldn`t know existed unless you went looking.
This is a runner named Amby Burfoot. He won the Boston Marathon in 1968.
Ambi Burrfoot is still running Boston Marathons. He was less than a mile
from the finish yesterday when the explosions hit there.
It is almost impossible to believe that this attack targeted the marathon,
as the marathon specifically. ut even if the marathon was hit as a symbol
of something else, it was hit, and hit directly, in a way that mean the
world to a whole community of people who run.
Amby Burfoot wrote today in "Runners World," "This wasn`t just an attack
against the Boston Marathon. It was an attack against the American public
and our democratic use of the streets. We have used our public roadways
for annual parades, protest marches, presidential inaugurations, marathons,
and all other manner of events. The roads belong to us and their use
represents an important part of our free and Democratic tradition. I trust
and believe that will not change in the future. Not in Boston, not at the
Boston Marathon, and not in other important public events. Yes, we must be
ever-vigilant. We cannot cover our eyes and ears and pretend violent acts
don`t threaten our great institutions. But," he says, "But our institutions
did not become great by following a path of timidity and cowardice. We can
only hope that when pummeled (ph) as the Boston Marathon was today, it will
rise again stronger than ever."
Joining us now is Amby Burfoot who celebrated his 45th anniversary of
winning the Boston Marathon yesterday. He was three quarters of a mile
from the finish line yesterday when his wife called him with the news of
the bombing. Amby Burfoot is editor at large of "Runner`s World" magazine.
Mr. Burfoot, it`s very good to have you here tonight. Thank you so much for
AMBY BURFOOT, EDITOR AT LARGE, "RUNNER`S WORLD": Thank you very much,
MADDOW: Is that your finisher`s medal that you`re wearing from the
BURFOOT: This is my finisher`s medal. Even though I did not finish the
marathon, I was stopped at three quarters of a mile from the finish
yesterday. We were able to finally pick up our bags and our medals today.
And I`m wearing it proudly, and I wanted to tell you and everyone that I`m
not wearing it for myself, but really to honor those people who we lost
yesterday and who were so injured yesterday.
They were in that particular location for only one reason. Because they
were supporting the marathon and us runners and that makes them part of our
family of runners and we want to remember and honor them. With this medal,
with all of our medals and our thoughts and prayers.
MADDOW: When I saw you writing today, in "Runner`s World," writing that the
attack yesterday was an attack against the Democratic use of the streets,
wanted to ask what that means to you as a runner and what that means to all
of us more broadly as we were thinking about how to respond to these
attacks and not be terrorized by them.
BURFOOT: Well, I was writing that not primarily as a runner because I`ve
been running through the streets of America for 50 years. And as you do
that, you begin to generalize for a larger picture and I began to think,
you know, these races, they`re not sporting events like the Red Sox and
Patriots. They`re more like a July 4th parade or a civil rights march or
street theatre. I feel that Americans have the right to enjoy and use and
discourse in our great streets and great squares. And Times Square, the
Boston Common just in my backyard here, these are important places for us
to be able to go to safely.
MADDOW: As a marathoner, somebody who`s been so involved in what seems at
least from the outside like marathon culture, not even sure if that`s the
way you think about it. I top out at two miles myseld, then I fall down.
As a marathoner, as somebody who`s been so involved in running for so many
decades, when you think ahead about the future here, do you imagine these
events looking different in the future as we try to balance safety and
freedom, as we try to balance safety and the kind of joy these events are
associated with for you?
BURFOOT: Well, certainly, we`re thinking about that now and in the fall, we
had Hurricane Sandy canceling the New York City Marathon at the last
moment. So we had New York and Boston back to back. It is weighing heavily
on our minds now.
There are going to be people, let`s face it, great runners, who are going
to decide not the spend 3 or $4,000 to fly across the country to a big
urban marathon where they might feel threatened. But I`ve talked to a lot
of runners in the last 24 hours and I would say 99 percent of them,
including myself, are more resolved to come back to Boston to run it next
year than we ever have been before because we want to reclaim the city and
the streets and we also want to thank the city and its supporters and
rooters (ph) who have been so much in our background and supporting us
through the years in this wonderful event.
MADDOW: Amby Burfoot, editor at large of "Runner`s World" magazine, winner
of the 1968 Boston Marathon, and as close as you could get in his case to
being a finisher this year. Mr. Burfoot, thank you for being with us
tonight. I really appreciate it and what you wrote today for "Runner`s
World," I think reached a lot of people who wouldn`t otherwise be thinking
about reading "Runner`s World." But I think what you wrote today meant a
BURFOOT: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you. All right. While the tragedy in Boston yesterday has
dominated today`s news, some very important politics are underway in
Washington and it turns out tomorrow is going to be a big D deal, capital D
deal, bid deal, tomorrow in Washington. We`ve got that next.
MADDOW: As the country`s attention stays focused on the after math of the
bombings in Boston, in Washington what it worth paying attention to right
now is the background checks for gun sales vote. Right now, a clear
majority of the United States Senate supports the Manchin/Toomey amendment.
Fifty-two senators on record for it, 40 senators are on record against it.
That should be great news for people who want expanded background checks to
be part of the nation`s response, right? After Newtown, right? It`s got
clear majority support to expand background checks. Except the Republicans
are filibustering it so majority won`t matter. Those 40 senators who say
they are voting "no" are not committed to voting against the background
check amendment on its merits. They are voting against allowing there to
be a vote on the background check on the amendment. They are voting to
filibuster. A majority is in favor, so they are voting to use a filibuster
to block a majority rules up or down vote.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake waited until right in the middle of the most
intense coverage of the Boston bombings last night, he waited until just
before 9PM eastern last night to announce, quietly, silently, in fact, on
his Facebook page that he will vote against background checks. Eight in 10
of Jeff Flake`s constituents in Arizona support background checks. But he
said last night, or rather wrote to his Facebook page quietly last night,
that he`s going to vote "no." In fact, he`s voting to block there from
even being a vote. He`s voting to filibuster, quietly.
That was last night around 9:00 p.m. Then today, hey look, Arizona
Senator, Jeff Flake showing up to speak at a ceremony dedicating a room in
the United States Capitol to Gabriel Zimmerman. Gabe Zimmerman was an aid
to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. He was one of the six people killed in
the shooting at that Congress on your Corner event in January 2011 in
Tucson, where Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was also shot. Gabe Zimmerman
was killed trying to protect Gabby Giffords.
Today, a day after he said he will vote against even allowing a vote on
expanded background checks, Senator Flake showed up, and spoke alongside
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly at that event. These two had spent the day
support for the background check amendment on Capitol Hill. Jeff Flake
says he will vote it -- block it, excuse me, from even getting voted on,
thus far at least.
The Republican filibuster is due for its test tomorrow afternoon. Watch
this space (ph).
MADDOW: We have new pictures and new details this hour about the devices
that were detonated in yesterday`s attack at the Boston Marathon. We did
not have these at the top of the hour, but we have them now.
This is what is left from one of the bombs that investigators recovered
from the crime scene at the Boston Marathon. According to a joint FBI/
Homeland Security document, they are saying definitively that one of the
bombs, one of the devices, consisted of a pressure cooker that was
concealed in a backpack.
Here is a picture of what may be the backpack. But investigators are now
saying that while the second device was also housed in a metal container,
and I`m going to quote here, "currently there is insufficient evidence to
determine if it was also a pressure cooker. The fusing system and method
of initiation for the two devices are unknown at this time."
This also appears unclear if what you are looking at in this picture, that
we just showed you, is the pressure cooker device as it seems, or maybe
this is the we`re not quite sure it was a pressure cooker device, but this
is part of the debris that they are showing us in terms of what is left
over from the bombs.
NBC has also learned in the last hour, that the two Boston Marathon bombs
appear to have each contained tiny nails. Nails that are described as
smaller than the ones you might use to hang a picture, they`re more like
brads (ph) or fine nails according to one of the people who`s assigned to
the case. We`re also told that the devices themselves appear to have been
delivered to the scene in two bags.
Earlier tonight, Sources involved in the investigation told NBC that the
triggering mechanism on one bomb appears to have included a battery pack
and a circuit board. Elements that have been recovered at the scene.
That`s important. A sophisticated triggering mechanism, at least
relatively sophisticated mechanism, NBC`s Michael Leiter telling us earlier
this hour, may be of less importance in narrowing down a suspect in terms
of level of expertise, or level of training, but it may be more important
in terms giving investigators physical clues to trace to their source to
find out how the bomb was assembled and where the pieces came from that
allowed the bomber to put it together.
Keep it here at MSNBC. Obviously the story is still developing tonight.
We will keep you posted as that happens. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD"
with Lawrence O`Donnell. Lawrence is reporting from Boston tonight. Stay
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