THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
April 19, 2013
Guest: Susan Musinsky
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: What began on Monday afternoon here in Boston, a
few blocks from where I sit, ended tonight in Watertown, Massachusetts,
just across the river, when the superintendent of the state police made
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. TIM ALBEN, MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE: We are so grateful to be here
right now. We are so grateful to bring justice and closure to this case.
To those families that lost loved ones or suffered injuries that they`ll
live with the rest of their lives, for a police officer, a young man
starting a career at MIT and a police officer with MBTA who almost lost his
life, and from neighborhoods that lived in fear for an entire day, we are
eternally grateful for the outcome here tonight.
We have a suspect in custody.
I want to thank all of the partners who worked tirelessly over the last
four days, including the FBI, the transit police, our brothers with the
Boston Police Department, U.S. attorney`s office, and the support that
we`ve gotten from our governor over the last four days.
We`re exhausted, folks, but we have a victory here tonight. But let`s not
forget those people along the way. Thanks very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After one of the eeriest days in the history of this city of
Boston, the first day on which it was legally shut down throughout the day
for the safety of the population, indeed, the entire area around here
surrounding towns, Cambridge, Watertown, were all shut down, people told to
stay home, don`t leave your homes, do not go to work -- after all of that
and after a suspect was in custody, the governor of this state spoke to the
state and nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Because of that extraordinary
collaboration and cooperation by all of these law enforcement resources and
assets and more to the point people, professionals, who brought their "A"
game, we have a suspect in custody tonight. It`s a night where I think
we`re all going to rest easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president will be addressing the nation shortly. You see
we are down to the White House briefing room waiting him. We are in a
noisy crowd here in Boston tonight.
You`ve seen the police being applauded in Watertown as they were leaving
the final scene of what became the strangest week in criminal pursuit that
this state and this city has ever seen. A day that ended with no suspect
in custody, we thought. The last press conference that the governor and
the law enforcement agents had this afternoon was to report that after a
day of locking down the entire city, they had found no one.
They then made the announcement people should feel free to leave their
homes but be careful. Transportation systems were reopened finally. The
entire subway system was closed all day for safety reasons. All of that
And then, shortly after all of that reopened, gunfire erupted again in
Watertown. I think we have some video ready for you to hear the sound of
the gunfire as it burst in Watertown, literally an uncountable number of
bullets. Listen to this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Watertown, NBC News` Erica Hill.
Erica, things have changed even before that. The president is in the
briefing room, we`ll go to the White House.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- in debt to the people of
Boston and people of Massachusetts. After a vicious attack on their city,
Bostonians responded with resolve and determination. They did their part
as citizens and partners in this investigation.
Boston police and state police and local police across the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts responded with professionalism and bravery over five long
days. And tonight, because of their determined efforts, we`ve closed an
important chapter in this tragedy.
I`ve been briefed earlier this evening by FBI Director Mueller. After the
attacks on Monday, I directed the full resources of the federal government
to be made available to help state and local authorities in the
investigation and to increase security as needed. Over the past week,
close coordination among federal, state, and local officials -- sharing
information, moving swiftly to track down leads -- has been critical to
They all worked as they should, as a team. And we are extremely grateful
for that. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all our outstanding law
enforcement professionals. These men and women get up every day, they put
on that uniform; they risk their lives to keep us safe -- and as this week
showed, they don`t always know what to expect.
So our thoughts are with those who were wounded in pursuit of the suspects
and we pray for their full recovery.
We also send our prayers to the Collier family who grieve the loss of their
son and brother, Sean. "He was born to be a police officer," said his
chief at MIT. He was just 26 years old. And as his family has said, he
died bravely in the line of duty, doing what he committed his life to doing
-- serving and protecting others. So we`re grateful to him.
Obviously, tonight there are still many unanswered questions. Among them,
why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities
and our country, resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out
these attacks, and did they receive any help?
The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers. The wounded,
some of whom now have to learn how to stand and walk and live again,
And so I`ve instructed the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and
our intelligence community to continue to deploy all the necessary
resources to support the investigation, to collect intelligence, and to
protect our citizens. We will determine what happened. We will
investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had. And we`ll
continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.
One thing we do know is that whatever hateful agenda drove these men to
such heinous acts will not -- cannot -- prevail. Whatever they thought
they could ultimately achieve, they`ve already failed. They failed because
the people of Boston refused to be intimidated. They failed because, as
Americans, we refused to be terrorized. They failed because we will not
waver from the character and the compassion and the values that define us
as a country. Nor will we break the bonds that hold us together as
That American spirit includes staying true to the unity and diversity that
makes us strong -- like no other nation in the world. In this age of
instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there`s a temptation to latch on to
any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions. But when a
tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so
high, it`s important that we do this right.
That`s why we have investigations. That`s why we relentlessly gather the
facts. That`s why we have courts. And that`s why we take care not to rush
to judgment -- not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly
not about entire groups of people.
After all, one of the things that makes America the greatest nation on
Earth, but also, one of the things that makes Boston such a great city, is
that we welcome people from all around the world -- people of every faith,
every ethnicity, from every corner of the globe. So as we continue to
learn more about why and how this tragedy happened, let`s make sure that we
sustain that spirit.
Tonight we think of all the wounded, still struggling to recover.
Certainly we think of Krystle Campbell. We think of Lingzi Lu. And we
think of little Martin Richard. Their lives reflected all the diversity
and beauty of our country, and they were sharing the great American
Finally, let me say that even as so much attention has been focused on the
tragic events in Boston, understandably, we`ve also seen a tight-knit
community in Texas devastated by a terrible explosion. And I want them to
know that they are not forgotten. Our thoughts, our prayers are with the
people of West, Texas, where so many good people lost their lives; some
lost their homes; many are injured; many are still missing.
I`ve talked to Governor Perry and Mayor Muska and I`ve pledged that the
people of West will have the resources that they need to recover and
rebuild. And I want everybody in Texas to know that we will follow through
with those commitments.
All in all, this has been a tough week. But we`ve seen the character of our
country once more. And as President, I`m confident that we have the
courage and the resilience and the spirit to overcome these challenges --
and to go forward, as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and
justice for all.
Thank you very much, everybody.
O`DONNELL: That was the president in the White House briefing room
addressing the nation on seems to me the conclusion of a week of terror in
It claimed a fourth victim today, MIT patrol officer Sean Collier. He was
killed last night by apparently according to the FBI`s view of the case the
bombers who planted the bombs in Boston Monday who were then on a wild
spree last night, involving a massive gun battle with police that began
almost 25 hours ago right now.
Joining me now from Watertown is NBC News Erica Hill.
Erica, just run us through what happened from the point the press
conference ended earlier tonight saying that we do not have a suspect in
custody, and to the point where the next press conference is announcing we
ERICA HILL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In that span, it wasn`t a huge span of
Just after 6:00, as you can hear, there`s a lot of excitement in Watertown.
This is a town where people have followed that rule to stay in their homes
to stay safe. It was eerily quiet as we watched officers in full gear,
going house to house. And there was a press conference -
O`DONNELL: Erica, we`re going to come back to you when we can hear you.
Right now, the celebration as it were of what`s occurred in Watertown --
Watertown obviously greatly relieved. The town was locked down all day.
People told that they, above all, more than anyone else in the region
shouldn`t leave their homes. They were the people in most danger. That
turned out to be absolutely true.
The suspect was found hiding in a boat that was covered -- a covered boat
parked on a trailer in a driveway in a backyard in Watertown. And that
capture occurred just a couple hours ago in Watertown.
We`re going to be joined by Michael Isikoff who has been in and around
Watertown throughout the day.
Michael, when was the point where it was very clear out there that this
really was the final closing in on the final suspect?
I guess we don`t have Michael Isikoff.
And, do we have Jack Cavanaugh?
OK. Mr. Cavanaugh, when you saw the investigation unfold this afternoon,
when did you have the confidence that we were in the final approach to the
JAMES CAVANAUGH, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: You know, Lawrence,
when the state police superintendent issues the order that people could go
back to a sort of normal existence but be on the lookout, you know, that
was the time we discussed some of our colleagues that citizens go back to
their house and their garage, they`re going to walk by their bushes,
there`s a chance this guy is laying in the bushes, hiding behind the
garage, stuck under a car, in the back of a pickup truck. And he could
very well be discovered shortly after that sound was up.
We discussed that with Chris Matthews I think earlier and Reverend
Sharpton. It is what happened, a citizen that noticed that blood trail and
There happened to be tactical teams from Boston police, Massachusetts state
police, ATF and FBI HRT, and they got there quick. I think it was
Massachusetts state police squad who engaged him in some gunfire, and FBI
HRT who came around the boat and was able to maybe deploy a flash bang or
two and get him out of there.
He is wounded in serious condition. Certainly, we thought he might bleed
out -- a concern because you can`t get up there so fast, but it is good
he`s alive. That`s a good sign.
He can be debriefed. He`s going to give up all his information, may help
stop the next one. You know, it`s about the next one now and about keeping
Boston safe and every other American safe by using leverage and information
we got out of this, putting it in our intelligence database, and with law
enforcement so it can`t happen again the same way.
O`DONNELL: James, I want to go back to that scene at the boat. I hope we
can put up some video showing just how big the police presence was on that
street where the boat and driveway was located because there`s two
different ways that kind of boat is stored for the winter, either with
empty drained tanks or with topped off full gas tanks. It seemed the
information t most people had prior to the arrest was that those gas tanks
were full, and that was, if true, one of the most serious worries that the
officers had approaching that situation with this kind of suspect, wasn`t
CAVANAUGH: Yes, it certainly is. I mean, all the gas tanks and, of
course, the problem that he might still have a bomb strapped on him like
his brother did. So there was a lot of risk involved.
But there also I think the commanders on scene have to weigh the risk of
whether or not this guy is going to bleed out and die. And, you know,
tactical teams practice, practice, practice, practice. That`s all they do.
They move quietly fast, they can get intelligence by looking from the
rooftops, night vision.
So I think they had a pretty good idea to slip up on him pretty quick and
grab him and weren`t in danger of blowing up a device. It`s risky the best
they can, they did a great job on that.
O`DONNELL: We got Michael Isikoff on the phone now at the house where the
suspect was apprehended, where you see the picture of that boat right now.
Michael, what`s the situation there now?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well,
the situation is there`s still FBI evidence technicians, police, quite a
presence in front of the house. They`re here to collect all of the
evidence that`s needs to be collected in a situation like this.
You can`t walk right up to the house. They`ve got us back about maybe 20
yards or so. But you get a sense of just what a major stakeout, hostage
situation this was.
Here we are, coming on almost two hours later, there`s still quite a large
presence here. I have also been talking to people on the street who
probably more than anybody -- I mean, everybody is just in joy and
celebrating in Watertown tonight, nobody feels it more than people on the
street like everybody else that was holed up all day started to emerge from
their homes after the governor lifted that instructions to stay inside
tonight at 6:00, then heard the gunshots and were ordered back into their
homes and realized it was right on their street that the suspect had holed
They were -- a lot of them were really frightened, really scared, didn`t
know what to think, what was going to happen. Some of them I was told, one
of the men I talked to said he and his girlfriend were on the floor the
whole night because especially when they do flash bangs, they are quite
loud. They were designed to startle the suspect and really rattled all the
homes around here.
O`DONNELL: Michael, I want to go back to that point where the massive
amount of gunfire broke out in Watertown tonight. I want you to listen to
that video, the audio we have of that on video. Again, we will talk about
it after we hear it one more time.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
O`DONNELL: Michael, I first heard it on the local channel that captured
it, it was stunning sound, hard to believe there would have been a suspect
left alive after that. Have you heard anything from law enforcement
officials about what happened in the burst of gunfire? As far as we can
tell, no one was injured by it.
ISIKOFF: No, and we haven`t really heard. I mean, there`s so many
unanswered questions about what happened here tonight and last night as
well. And it still seems inexplicable that he could have held out that
long, that he could have terrorized this entire community by himself, one
guy. Massive police hunt for him, yet he was able to survive this long and
even when he`s holed up, holed out as long as he did.
The fact that they had to resort to flash bangs, they`re loud noises
designed to really rattle somebody in a situation like him. And yet
wounded as he was, the guy still held out. So exactly we have to --
O`DONNELL: Michael, I`m sorry, I have to interrupt. I am going to Pete
Williams with breaking news for us at this hour.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, I don`t know if
you discussed this much, but the Obama administration has made it very
clear tonight how this man will be put on trial.
They insist he will be put on trial before a regular civilian court and
that -- and you heard a little reference to this during the news
conference. He will not be given a Miranda warning, won`t be told about
the right to remain silent. Once he is physically able to answer
questions, they will begin to answer questions under new federal procedure.
And Mike Isikoff, who you`re talking to with, is familiar with this as
well, he has reported on its development, the government will invoke
something called the public safety rule. It`s a court ordered, judge made
rule that says when there`s an imminent threat to public safety, when you
need to answer questions to make sure there`s no additional threat, nobody
else, no co-conspirator, no outstanding plots, you can ask someone
questions without Miranda warning and answers are admissible in court.
Now, nobody knows how long the rule will last. It starts to fade the
moment you invoke it, probably 48 hours is the outer limit. The
questioning will be done once it begins by something called High Value
Detainee Interrogation Group. This was set up by the government and it
consists of members of the FBI, CIA and Defense Department. They`ll do the
After that 48-hour or whatever how many hours of public safety exception
expires, then the government will have to give the Miranda warning, and, of
course, what happens in many of these cases, certainly was true of the so-
called underwear bomber, people continue to answer questions. Omar
Abdulmutallab initially resisted, then decided to talk and did. Faisal
Shahzad decided he wanted to talk.
So, they will proceed in civilian court. They made it very clear. This
will be somewhat controversial. As you know, there are some Republicans in
Congress who think that terrorist acts in the U.S. should be punished in a
military tribunal before military commission.
It is complicated in this fact because he is an American citizen. But the
Obama administration`s policy is civilian courts for terrorist acts in the
O`DONNELL: Pete, how thick is the case law on this not using the Miranda
warning? How many instances of this do we have that have gone through the
WILLIAMS: Well, it has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. So there`s
no doubt that the public safety exception exists, the government has used
it before. They exercise it at the beginning and again with Abdulmutallab.
So, that is there -- you can understand it.
In a terrorism case, it certainly makes sense. You`re trying to find out
are there other plots, are there co-conspirators, are there bombs out there
somewhere that they need to be worried about? There`s public safety
consideration and the courts recognize it.
So it is pretty hearty. It would I think stand up if challenged in court.
O`DONNELL: NBC News` Pete Williams, thank you very much for joining us and
thank you very much for your steady guidance throughout this difficult
WILLIAMS: Very kind of you. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
We are going to take a break, back with much more from Boston.
O`DONNELL: Our live coverage continues from Boston. I am joined on the
phone from Watertown where the suspect was apprehended by Susan Musinsky.
SUSAN MUSINSKY, WATERTOWN RESIDENT (via telephone): Sure, yes.
O`DONNELL: Susan, as I understand it, you live -- your house is right
behind the house where the suspect was apprehended?
MUSINSKY: No, I am about seven houses away, like two kitty corners. You
have to go around two bends. But there`s a house in the middle that
blocked my view of that house.
O`DONNELL: OK. And what did you hear tonight?
MUSINSKY: We heard a bunch of gunshots. What I tell you, when the ban was
lifted, so when the governor got on and said here is what the plan is, you
know, my first thing was I`m not going out, but right after the ban was
lifted, came back.
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