PoliticsNation, Wednesday, August 17th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Wednesday show
April 17, 2013
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Kevin Cullen; Mark Potok; James Cavanaugh; Clint Van Zandt
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
Breaking news tonight, progress and confusion in the hunt for the
Boston marathon bomber. An FBI news conference was postponed late today
after bomb threat at the federal courthouse. Huge crowds that gathered
there after false reports in the media that a suspect has been arrested.
But NBC News can confirmed that investigators have some solid leads looking
at video that shows a man leaving a bag on a marathon route, here`s what we
Authorities are looking at this photo, giving an NBC affiliate in
Boston. It shows a bag left at the site of the second explosion. A photo
taken after it shows that the bag was indeed at the center of the
explosion. Investigators are also looking at surveillance video from the
Lord and Taylor department store.
One report says this video shows the man was on his cell phone when he
left the bag, which may help investigators track down his identity via the
local cell tower. For a time officials, were looking at these photos,
showing a man running from the scene. Officials now say he is just a
victim. But it shows how investigators are using video to try and break
In fact, we have some new video tonight where you see the first
explosion and hear the second.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
SHARPTON: These newly released FBI photos show the twisted pieces of
pressure cooker used to contain the bomb. Reports say the lid of the
pressure cooker was found on the roof of a nearby building.
In this video, you can see just how high the debris was thrown into
the air by the force of the explosions. It`s been a critical day in this
case with lots of information and confusion. So let`s get right to the
facts as we know them tonight.
Joining me now, live from Boston is Michael Isikoff, national
investigative correspondent FOR NBC News and James Cavanaugh, former
special agent in the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms and
explosives, who worked on the Atlantic bombing investigation.
Thank you both for joining me.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Good
to be with you.
JAMES CAVANAUGH, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT IN THE BUREAU OF ALCOHOL,
TOBACCO AND FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES: Thank you, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Michael, what`s the latest on what officials are actually
saying in this investigation?
ISIKOFF: Well, actually, we were hoping to hear them saying it just
about now that FBI press conference had been scheduled for 5:00 and we were
told it was postponed. Now it`s not clear if it`s going to be taking place
at all tonight. We are still waiting to find out and if ever there was a
need to have some clarity brought to the state of the investigation, it
would be today because there was so many conflicting and confusing reports.
All we know for sure is, number one, there`s been some significant
progress using these videos that Lord and Taylor video did -- does show, we
are told, an individual dropping off a bag at the site -- at the bomb site,
the site for the second bomb. That`s also the site where that NBC
affiliate video that we have seen before shows a bag about an hour before
the explosion and then the explosion takes place and that bag seems to have
been right at the center of it.
We still have no confirmation that that bag is -- did in fact contain
the bomb and we don`t know, of course, for sure if the individual dropping
off the bag is therefore connected with it. We`re not even sure that the
FBI knows who that individual was. There is a facial image of the man. We
have got conflicting reports about whether they have been able to identify
And certainly we know because the FBI has been quite clear on this and
has put out a statement. They have made no arrests. They do not have this
individual in custody. And the public certainly doesn`t know who it is.
SHARPTON: Well, I want to talk about that.
ISIKOFF: That`s where we are at this point.
SHARPTON: I`m going to talk about that, Michael, all of this
misinformation and some of the -- in a moment. I want to get to that.
But let me go to you a minute, James Cavanaugh. You are an expert on
bombs. You worked, as I said in the intro, in the Atlanta investigation.
You know these things.
NBC`s affiliate in Boston, they have photos of the bag left at the
site of the second explosion and is seen immediately after the blast. How
are authorities using this potential evidence? You`re the expert.
CAVANAUGH: Well, you laid it out correct, Reverend Al, and Mike as
well. And that photograph shows where that bag was placed, the photographs
later show that as the epicenter of the blast. It`s right next to a metal
trash container that, you know, kind of looks like a mailbox to a lot of us
but apparently it`s a trash can. And tight next to it, where that package
was, it was the seed of the blast that the bomb investigators are working
on. And you can see the debris field that goes off to the right of it, if
you were standing on the sidewalk and a lot of people were severely injured
there. You can see that in the early photographs. You mentioned, Reverend
Al, debris on the roof. You can see investigators going directly above on
ladders right there, probably uncovering the top of the pressure cooker and
maybe some people who were shielded by the metal mail box -- I`m sorry,
trash receptacle on the other side who didn`t suffer severe injuries.
So, that looks like, from just looking its photograph that were not
there at the scene, but just looking at the photographs, looks like the
epicenter of one of the bombs.
And Reverend Al, you said a critical point earlier and that was that
the FBI had a video from the store Lord and Taylor, a person dropping a
backpack. And maybe earlier, you mentioned, he was on the cell phone and
they are trying to track that tone through the tower to identify him.
SHARPTON: Now, how could they track that phone through the tower?
Tell me how that happens? Are you saying that they can find the cell
phone, try to pinpoint this person, where the phone came, supposed it was
one of these throw-away phones.
CAVANAUGH: Right. Well, they can know, you know, from the digital
technology with the phone company how many calls were being made at the
moment that the photograph was taken, from the video time where they can
know how many calls are being made at that time. There may be some process
of elimination. Some of the other calls could be further out. So, there`s
a chance they could say it`s one of these few numbers, one of these several
numbers and they might be able to narrow it down.
If they can, the commanders have to make a decision and that is, and
you got right to the point of it, maybe we ought to keep this close because
if we can narrow it down and I.D. the guy, we want to do that without, you
know, notifying the world. But, they can`t hold that forever because there
is bomber lose and if they can`t identify him within a reasonable amount of
time, they are going to have to gain public support by showing that
photograph and try to find out who that guy is.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you Michael, what do you have on the cell
phone? Do you know anything? Have you got any sources on this?
ISIKOFF: No, but I would think they would need to recover the cell
phone to really trace it to an individual. I think it would be hard based
simply on the tower because, remember, there were a lot of people in that
area during that time. That`s a lot -- and my assumption would be a lot of
them were on their phone calls making phone calls through that tower. So
there would be a lot of phone numbers to go through to weed out to find
that particular suspect to account for all of them.
ISIKOFF: But look, there`s a wealth of evidence in this case but it`s
going to take a long time to sort through. I mean, the biggest break could
be to identify the suspect and hope that it`s the suspect involved. The
way I`m told it would work is they would not initially make the -- if they
cannot identify from the facial image who that person is, they would first
distribute that image to law enforcement, federal, state, and local and say
have you ever seen a picture of anybody that looks like this and see if it
gets any hits. That almost inevitably would leak out at some point. So, I
think it wouldn`t be long period of time before they would seek the
public`s help if don`t get an instant hit on who that person is.
And then, you know, there`s the further question of matching it
together with the evidence and there`s a wealth of evidence, as I said
before, but there`s a lot of really hard work that is going in to trying to
first reconstruct the bomb and then also trying to piece together where the
elements of this bomb were purchased.
I will give you one example. I spoke this afternoon with a company
that made that battery pack that was found among the debris. It was a
(INAUDIBLE) battery pack that`s commonly used to power toy cars and trucks
and it`s sold in toy stores and in hobby stores. Tens of thousands, the
company told me, have been sold in just the past year. That`s a lot of
sales. And it`s going to be very difficult to take that battery pack,
which they have recovered, and then try to trace it to an individual
purchase. That`s just one example of the kind of really painstaking work
with this investigation that is going to entail.
SHARPTON: But James, give me the bottom line then. Has there been
any major progress today? I mean, are these guys moving forward? Let me,
as you answer that, show you, here`s an FBI photo of a bomb part, the
battery and wires. Then you have the FBI photo of bomb part -- the
pressure cooker. And then the photo of the bomb part of the electronic
component or what is known as a circuit board.
Now, how are these used in evidence? And bottom line from what you
have heard, do you think they have made any significant progress today?
CAVANAUGH: Yes, I think they have, Reverend Al, are going to take
those items. They are going to forensically examine them for fingerprints,
as amazing as it might seen, we sometimes can get fingerprints of exploded
bomb parts for DNA, somebody is going to let the piece of skin or hair
there. It could have survived, there`s a chance, they will examine for
that. Tool mark examinations, other serial numbers like Mike was talking
about, you know, where the devices come from, the parts of the device to
track them back.
But that`s all going to happen and it`s pretty normal and they are
progressing on that but it`s more of an earth-shattering lead in a case to
have a video of a person setting the bomb down. That`s really, really
So, they have to make decisions just like Mike described. I agree
with Mike 100 percent. Can you identify the cell call or not? If you
can`t, if it`s a throw-away cell phone or too many numbers, but you can
identify to that, is there any other way you can identify the person? I
agree again. You distribute to law enforcement. The wider the
distribution, the quicker it`s going to leak. That`s the real world. And
then you have to put it out to the world. The commanders are going to have
to make those decisions on time moving forward. But, I think it is break
in the case. It`s a significant break.
SHARPTON: All right, James Cavanaugh, Michel Isikoff, thank you both
for your time tonight.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Reverend Al.
ISIKOFF: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Today, the false reporting that a suspect had been arrested
became a big part of this story. CNN led several news organizations in
suddenly reporting the false information early this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have
information one of our sources from our national security Fran Townsend,
Boston law enforcement source who tell me that an arrest has been made.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The suspect has been arrested in the
KING: I want to be very careful because people get very sensitive
when you say these things. I was told by one of the sources who is a law
enforcement official that this was a dark-skinned male. I`m making a
personal judgment, forgive me. But I think it is a right judgment. Not to
try inflame tensions, they say it is a dark skinned-male.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: According to the AP, the suspect has been
taken by U.S. marshals to a federal courthouse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are looking for obviously any kind of movement
if the suspect has in fact been brought there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, this was huge news. Big crowds, big crowds began
forming outside the courthouse in the belief that the bomber would soon be
taken there. While many news organizations were racing to air, NBC News
was careful and deliberate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What we`ve been told by several sources,
there is no arrest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: All of a sudden, the story on some other networks began to
change. Look at the banners on the bottom of the screen. They began
rolling it back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: We are getting from conflicting reports
about an arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: A third top federal law enforcement
official is saying to us now, that makes three, that is no arrests have
THOMAS FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There`s been no arrest and, in fact,
a suspect has not been identified by name yet.
KING: This federal law enforcement source that just communicated with
us says significant progress has been made but no arrest. Anyone who says
an arrest is ahead of themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A reporting error in a painful situation is bad enough.
Especially with victims and families and so much of the court eagerly
waiting to see who will be brought to justice for the murders in Boston.
Still, mistakes do happen and we all understand that. But there was
another part of this failure that deeply troubled me. It was what the CNN
reporter John King said when he was describing the person supposedly under
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I want to be careful about this because people get very
sensitive when you say these things. I was told by one of these sources, a
law enforcement official, that this was a dark-skinned male. I`m making a
personality judgment, forgive me, but I think is the right judgment, I`m
not trying to flame tension. They said it is a dark-skinned male.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Dark-skinned male, coded, offensive language. Here`s how
the "Washington Post" media writer Eric Wemple wrote about this.
In a story like this, reporters justifiably feel pressure to pass
along any and all details that they extract from their law enforcement
sources. After all, why wouldn`t you? Well, in this case you wouldn`t
because dark-skinned male is useless information that borders on
inflammatory. King apparently approached this tidbit with a mind set of
restraint, saying that he withheld certain details that he learned from his
killer source. So why didn`t he put dark-skinned in to the same basket?
If the police was searching for this individual, what assistance would the
dark-skinned description offer? Should King have mentioned that the
suspect had two eyes and a nose? Not two eyes and a nose but a dark-
These comments are very offensive and have no place in a discourse,
especially at a time when the Americans inspired by the example of the
people in Boston are coming together as one.
What King`s word did is to make every dark skinned male in Boston a
suspect and that`s a shame.
SHARPTON: Building a profile of the bomber. What are the new details
telling us about what happened at the Boston marathon? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: It was a day of confusion and misinformation. Here`s what
It was a very active and very productive day at the crime scene.
Investigators have identified solid leads from video evidence, including
images of a person or persons carrying and dropping bags at the bombing
scene. Authorities say there`s footage of a man who they think may have
placed the bomb. Authorities say there is a footage of a man who they
think may have placed the bombs. They reportedly have the face but not the
name of a potential suspect on video leaving the bag near the scene of the
blast. An official saying the person was scene on surveillance camera from
a lord & Taylor department store. What is going on in these meetings
Joining me now is former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt. Clint, thanks
for being who are.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Good to be with you, Al.
SHARPTON: Clint, put yourself inside the office in Boston tonight.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
SHARPTON: Where are you and what are you doing and what is the team
VAN ZANDT: Number one, you take a deep breath and you feel really bad
that that information got out today, realize Al, that there are 60
different agencies involved. Some of those men and women in law
enforcement may quote, unquote "be some type of source for the media."
The last thing that investigators want, and you and I are part of the
media, but the last thing they want is a media feeding frenzy. We only
have to think back to Richard Jewel and the Olympic park bombing and the
absolute foot race that took place between the FBI and so-called
investigative reporters trying to track down Richard Jewel, his house, his
mother, all these other things. All that does is screw up an
So, for as long as the FBI is concerned, they would like the
proverbial cone of silence put over the investigation. They would like to
identify the suspect, see if we can link him to the forensic evidence,
build a case, make an arrest, get him in jail and then have a press
conference and say, we have the guy.
The last thing you want is the information linked in advance and
realized Al, there were a thousand people outside of the courthouse today
who at the very least wanted to get a look at these guys supposedly when
the authorities brought him in. That doesn`t serve the investigation and
you have an absolute right for that righteous indignation that you have
about that information being released without double or triple sources.
SHARPTON: Now, they call this solid leads. Help me out here.
Translate that for me. Are they watching someone now? I mean, what does
VAN ZANDT: For me, best case scenario is that authorities have
identified who that person is on the video camera who allegedly has his
hand on a bag or drops a bag that is believed to be the explosive. Then,
we have -- what investigators say we have him in pocket.
You know, we know who he is. We know where he is at. We are watching
him. We are monitoring his cell phones, his Internet activities. We want
to see if there`s anybody else involve, a co-conspirator. That`s the best
case. The worst case is, we are trying to find the guy before the media
finds him and interviews his neighbors, his families, and everybody else
and contaminates the information.
SHARPTON: But, profile who this might be for you? I mean if you are
in the room there, profile for me who this may be for you and where do you
think this bomber could be?
VAN ZANDT: Yes. Well, so far Al, we have no information to suggest
an international conspiracy. We know these so-called pressure cooker bombs
have been seen for years in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and places. We
know they were used two months ago in India to cause murder and mayhem.
But we also know that a U.S. soldier just outside the Fort Hood (ph) in
2011 was building two similar devices to attack members of the military.
So, whether that is someone -- you know, Al, you no longer have to get
a plane ticket to go to Afghanistan or go to a terrorist bomb building
school. You sit there in front of the internet and you can get all of the
information you need. So, whether this is a Timothy McVeigh, a single
interest, a lone interest type of individual, whether it`s someone
radicalized, whether it be political or religious. But Al, it would be
easy for one person to do it, easier for two. No evidence of a larger
group involvement whatsoever.
And Al, these bombs are so delegate that they were likely assembled in
the same immediate area otherwise, the bomber could have blown himself up
just by trying to drive them in a car from point a to point b.
SHARPTON: Great point, as always. Clint Van Zandt, thank you for
joining us tonight.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you, Al.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, a furious and passionate President Obama
slamming the shameful Republicans who voted against 90 percent of the
Plus, new incredible stories of survivors from the Boston attacks and
the heroes who saved them. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: As the investigation continues, we are learning more from
the victims and heroes of Boston. Chris Jansing has been talking to people
there. She is next.
SHARPTON: Today, there`s been a lot of public focus on the
investigation into the blast in Boston but we must not forget the personal
toll that these attacks have taken.
Graduate student Lindsey Liu of China identified as the third victim
of the bombings today. She was studying math and statistics at Boston
University and loved blogging about the meals she ate here in the United
The Chinese government expressed their sympathies today in a statement
saying, our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this terrible
But in the midst of the despair, we are hearing tremendous personal
stories of survival too, story like Beth Roche. She drove from Indiana to
Boston to see saw her daughter Rebecca compete in her first marathon. They
took this picture together on Sunday just moments after Rebecca crossed the
finish line. The first blast went off, leaving Beth with her shattered
kneecap but her injuries were the least of her worries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH ROCHE, BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS SURVIVOR: I saw Becky`s friend
walking -- she was hopping into marathon sports and she this blood coming
out of her leg and I was so sad and then I didn`t know where my kids were.
I didn`t know where my husband was. I didn`t know where my daughter was.
She had just finished. She had just finished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Thankfully Rebecca was safe and reunited with her mother.
The injuries are devastating. But survivors are now actively searching for
the people who saved their lives.
Sidney Caucer (ph) and a 17-year-old high school senior pictured here
moments after the attack had just one request for her aunt when she woke up
from surgery to repair her ruptured femoral artery. Find Matt, she said.
We would all like to thank him.
And the parents of Jeff Bellman (ph) pictured here have been desperate
to get in touch with that man in the cowboy hat.
Carlos Aradando (ph) who rushed to their son`s side moments after the
blast, the man in the cowboy hat, he saved Jeff`s life. I`ve got to talk
to this guy, Jeff`s mother told reporters.
The stories of heroism and survivor continue to inspire Americans as
we still try to find out just what happened on Monday afternoon.
Joining me live in Boston is MSNBC Chris Jansing, host of "Jansing &
company." She went this afternoon to talk to people in Dorchester, the
hometown of the youngest victim of the Boston blast, 8-year-old Martin
Chris, thanks for being here tonight.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST, JANSING AND COMPANY: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Tell us, what was the mood in Dorchester today?
JANSING: Well, I should first say that this is a very strong
community and you can`t help when you get there to notice that. I spent a
lot of time today at the community center, spent a lot of time at a local
play ground. The kids are out of school. It`s spring break. But, there a
lot of moms were there with their children spending time together and they
talk about how important it is for them to be together at this time. But,
I would also say that the shock of what happened here a few days ago is
wearing off and giving way in many cases just to deep sorrow, to heartbreak
and the reality is setting in.
Several of the mothers told me that their children have been waking up
in the middle of the night. They have been asking them now the top
question, you know, where is Marty? Why can`t he play baseball with us?
And so, this is a community that is going to be together. They are going
to be strong together, but they a lot to face going forward, Rev.
SHARPTON: How have these mothers said they handled trying to talk to
their kids about this? How do they rationalize and explain to little
children why their friends are gone?
JANSING: They talk a lot about heaven. A couple of the mothers said
to me they were afraid they didn`t know the right way to do it. Martin was
a member of St. Anne`s parish. And I was also there. A lot of people
coming and laying flowers. A few of the mothers told me that father Sean
who is the pastor there has a great way with kids and they were thinking
about going over there and asking father Sean to talk to them about what
happened to Martin but it`s a conversation no parent should ever have to
SHARPTON: Now, you spoke with some people in Dorchester, talking
about prayers. And one man said he felt compelled to say a prayer for
Martin. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I found myself getting emotional watching the news
coverage on the TV about Martin. And it just broke my heart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: He could be any kid, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I actually took a picture off the wall in my
house and showed my wife with big brown eyes and big ears and said, that
could be me and I went to my prom, I played high school sports, I enjoyed
my childhood and here`s an 8-year-old kid that`s never going to enjoy the
things that you will a of us enjoy. And it just breaks my heart and I was
hoping to come to the church and say a prayer for him and his family and
maybe that would help me heal a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Wow. That is -- is he representative of a lot of the
people you`ve talked to today in Dorchester?
JANSING: Yes, without a doubt. And I think it`s helpful. You know,
they`ve seen the people coming and leaving flowers and candles. And they
saw -- the people I talked to today were amazed, by some estimates, 1,000
people came to the memorial last night in Dorchester and it does help. It
helps them to know that people care. It helps them to know that people are
feeling their pain.
One little boy who is in a stroller just turned 3-years-old looked at
me and he said they ran out of candles and his mother said, you know, he`s
trying to understand what all these people are here for and talking about.
And so, you know, it does help them that they see so many people just
coming. The man you just saw, (INAUDIBLE), he drove, then he got on the
subway and then he walked with his wife more than an hour to get to that
church to pay his respects.
SHARPTON: Wow. I want to bring in "Boston Globe" columnist Kevin
Kevin, thanks for being here tonight.
KEVIN CULLEN, COLUMNIST, BOSTON GLOBE: Thank you, Al.
SHARPTON: The stories of heroism by the first responders are nothing
short of astonishing. But you write that they don`t want to be singled out
for what they did.
CULLEN: Yes. Actually, that fire house sale is two blocks from here.
And actually, I just finished up with Chris last night and ran the two
blocks to talk to these guys. Engine seven and tower ladder 17. And I
guess it kind of shows you how small or big city this is.
When these guys go out to the scene the other day, when they went
among the people on the ground, they recognized these people. One of the
guys on engine seven, his daughter is in third grade with Martin. And he
looked at Martin. And he looked at Bill, his dad. And he knew him. The
guy that was driving engine seven, they call him chauffeur. That`s what
fire fighters called the driver. The chaffer of engine seven, his daughter
baby-sat martin. That`s how small this is.
Eddie Kelly, the one of the firefighter, his daughter is in the same
Irish-step school, step (ph) school as little Jenny Richard who lost her
So, this is how small -- this is how much this hurts here. But those
guys, they worked as hard on strangers as they did on their neighbors and
their friends. And I have to tell you, Al, it was cops, it was
firefighters, it was EMS people, and just ordinary people. There was race
officials, just ordinary guys that you mentioned, Carlos. I know Carlos.
Just ordinary people -- I tell you whatever the force is behind -- who put
that bomb there, they don`t match up anything to the force of the people
that went over those barriers and helped those people.
SHARPTON: Now, you wrote in the column how you were saying these guys
were heroic and they just felt they were doing their jobs for those that
they knew well or those that were strangers.
CULLEN: Yes. I mean, they really do. Like I said, Eddie Kelly is
the head of the union. So, he brought me in to the station, but these guys
didn`t want their names in the paper because they didn`t want to show
anybody up. But I know them. I knew two of them personally before I even
met them the night. But like I said, they look at this -- and the other
thing is, two of those fire fighters I talked to are combat veterans and
you know, they served their country over there. They served the city over
here. And I can`t tell you enough for both. I`m proud that they work for
SHARPTON: NBC Kerry Sanders spoke with a firefighter who helped save
lives on Monday. Here`s what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was in pain. She was scared. I`m not sure
how old she was but she looked very young to me. She said, I`m scared.
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: As I look at this picture, I
see a burley hero, you, not just helping somebody but comforting somebody.
What do you see?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody hurt. You know, people say, you know,
who do you get to, you know, who you get to, who do you help? It`s one
patient at a time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I see somebody hurt. That`s what we are really trying to
show America. These people -- these first responders are just trying to
respond and do the job that they were committed to do and I think that is
hero we can. Kevin?
CULLEN: Well, the other thing, Al, when they went there, I mean, I
asked these guys, what did they think? They didn`t know if there were
going to be secondary explosions. And the two guys that served overseas,
they were both Marines, they were convinced that the biological weapons or
something like that.
So, they said it. They called it it`s the pucker test. I said,
what`s the pucker test? They said that`s when a certain part of your body
tuckers up and they said they had to fight through that and basically
accepted that they might die there but they just do what they have to do.
That`s what they trained to do. But, I think it is more than training. I
think it`s something that is buried in the heart of every cop, every
firefighter, every emergency service worker in this town and we saw it on
display the other day.
SHARPTON: Amazing. Some thought it was biological weapons but they
weren`t and some even civilians helped out.
Kevin Cullen from "the Boston Globe" and Chris Jansing, host of
"Jansing & company," thank you both for your time tonight.
CULLEN: Thanks, Al.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the first lady on what we can all learn from Boston.
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`ve learned today the first lady will join the president
as he heads to Boston tomorrow. They will take part on a memorial service
honoring the victims and survivors of Monday`s tragedy.
Earlier today, the first lady spoke about the attack for the first
time. And she reminded us that this tragedy has brought out the best in
the city of Boston.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: What happened on
Monday was a reminder that in times of crisis here in America we respond
with courage and grit and selflessness. That`s exactly what we saw from
the people of Boston and from all those who rushed to aid the victims,
especially the police officers and firefighters, the first responders, and
our men and women in uniform. And that is the spirit of Boston but it is
also the spirit of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And you better believe that`s a spirit that can`t be
SHARPTON: As authorities continue to investigate the bombings in
Boston, they will be looking to history to solve the case and unfortunately
they have a lot to go on.
In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, six people were killed. In
the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, 168 lost their lives. The Unabomber Ted
Kaczynski killed three people in a series of bombs. One person was killed
in the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Olympic.
Each of them a tragedy, but they may provide clues for today`s
Joining me now are Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern poverty
law center and also editor for the intelligence report and "hate watch."
And by phone, Evan Kohlmann, NBC News terrorism analyst.
Evan, let me start with you. What do you notice about the type of
event that the bombers chose, a marathon? What does that say to you?
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST (via phone): Well, look. I
mean, it`s very difficult to pin this on one group or one cause right now
but if you do look at the targets here, at least in my opinion, this
doesn`t show an extreme right-wing group or white supremacist group.
There`s no doubt that these kinds of groups have gone after marches
and parades and this kind of thing in the past, but (INAUDIBLE) notice from
civil rights marches, they have been tied to some predicament political
cause or some particular event that is significant to one supremacist or
white men extremist. And aside from the fact that, you know, Monday was
Patriots Day, it`s difficult to see how it would the Boston (INAUDIBLE) fit
into their agenda.
Another thing, of course, looking at the actual device that was used
here, it was apparently was built using pressure cookers. No one has a
monopoly from that technology, it does happen that al-Qaeda and Yemen has
very recently been urging people to build their own homemade bombs using,
guess what, pressure cookers, in fact titled under an article name "how to
build a bomb in the kitchen of your mom."
So certainly, you know, there are a lot of questions out there. But
you know, some of these facts look furious, at least be term as potential
culprit that we are looking at.
SHARPTON: No, they have an article, "How to build a bomb in the
kitchen of your mom."
Mark, you`re the expert on extremist right-wing groups. Evan brought
them, up. Do you agree with Evan? Is this the type of talking to right-
wing group we choose in your opinion, of do you agree with Evan, you don`t
know or you don`t think so?
MARK POTOK, SENIOR FELLOW, THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, I
agree with Evan. I think he`s right on. When you look at the target, you
know, what do those people at the Boston marathon really have in common?
You know, they are not -- they don`t represent the government, they don`t
represent the IRS. It was tax day, of course, on Monday. They are not a
particular minority group. You know, they are not black people, brown
people, Latinos, Muslims, and so on. It seemed to me that the thing that
the targets had in common was that they were Americans.
So, I think Evan is right. We don`t know where this came from but it
does seem difficult to understand the targeting. And if you look at the
kinds of actions that radical right wing groups have carried out in the
past, they attack targets that you can understand, a federal building, a
gay nightclub, black church, those kinds of things.
SHARPTON: And we don`t have any of that here and you don`t see the
data that is significant as well.
POTOK: Well, the data, I think, is insignificant for the following
reason. Patriot`s day is important on the radical right but it`s the date
of April 19th that they care about. That`s the date of the Oklahoma City
bombing, of the end of the wake or debacle of the beginning of the American
Revolution, of the start of the war zone, ghetto uprising and a few other
historical events that are important to them.
April 19th, of course, us Friday, Patriots day is celebrated in
Massachusetts on the third Monday of April and that`s why in Massachusetts
and only Massachusetts Patriot`s Day was celebrated on a Monday.
SHARPTON: So we don`t know. I won`t to keep them, besides we don`t
know and we are not fingering anyone. We are all trying to find out what
Evan, what will the investigators be looking for here? And also, I
want to ask you about this letter that we sent to President Obama. But,
what will the investigators be looking for here? Let me ask you that
KOHLMANN: I think some of this stuff we already have a good clue
about. The Boston PD as well as the FBI had put out a general call for
anyone with video footage of the end of the marathon or any part of that
area to come forward and present the footage. And I think that`s really
what they are looking for right now.
You know, if there were suspicious packages that were the source of
these explosions, still left in the air. And it`s a very concentrated
urban area in Boston. There were a lot of cameras. There are a lot of
people with their own private cameras. The assumption is that somebody
Now, as far as the ricin letter goes --
SHARPTON: Any chatter from overseas or anything like that.
KOHLMANN: I`m sorry. What is that?
SHARPTON: Will they be listening for chatter from overseas or
anything like that?
KOHLMANN: You bet. In fact, that`s one of the things that the U.S.
government is doing right now. The law enforcement level as well as the
intelligence level, they are looking to see what terrorists groups are
saying about this and what supported it. And in fact we already have one
group, a very prominent group, the prophet by the Taliban that come out and
said, we had nothing to do with it.
SHARPTON: Yes. They already said they didn`t.
I`m out of time. I will have to talk to you about the letter another
Thank you for your expertise, Mark Potok and Evan Kohlmann. Thank you
both for your time.
We will be right back.
SHARPTON: The response to the Boston marathon attack reminded us that
this country doesn`t run away from challenges. As Americans, we have the
courage to stare it down and yet in Washington that added to the solely
Late this afternoon, 46 senators blocked a bill on universal
background checks. That included six Republicans who had supported
background checks in the past. And they did it all while the families of
Newtown victims looked on the senate gallery.
Today, standing with the relatives of Newtown and with Gabby Giffords,
the president blasted those senators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had an obligation to
try. And this legislation met that test and too many senators failed
those. I`ve heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for
this legislation was somehow misplaced. A prop somebody called them,
emotional blackmail somehow left said.
Are they serious? Do we really think that thousands of families whose
lives have been shattered by gun violence don`t have a right to weigh in on
this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this
So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.
Everybody talked about how we were going to change something to make sure
this didn`t happen, again. Just like everybody talked about how we needed
to do something after Aurora. Everybody talked about we needed to do
something after Tucson.
And I`m assuming that the emotions that we`ve all felt since Newtown,
the emotions that we`ve all felt since Tucson and Aurora and Chicago, the
pain we share with these families and families all across the court who
have lost a loved one to gun violence, I`m assuming that`s not a temporary
thing. I`m assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do
something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty
words. I believe we are going to be able to get this done. Sooner or
later, we are going to get this right, the memories of the children
demanded and so the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I would have love tonight to ask the senator, how could
they vote against background checks? I would have love to question the six
Republicans who supported background checks but now changed their mind, was
it that the changed their mind or was it that the nation change presidents
and you are so committed to giving him a defeat you would sacrifice the
safety of your constituents?
Thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "Hardball" starts right
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