'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, March 17th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Monday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 17, 2014
Guests: Greg Feith, Anthony Roman, Adrian Karatnycky, Zeke Emanuel, Vednita Carter
ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: Tonight, Vice President Biden heads to Poland for
talks about the continuing crisis in Ukraine, Obamacare passes an
undeniable numerical milestone, and we are learning even more about the
last communication from Flight 370, even as the plane`s final hours remain
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ten days of searching and still no sign.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We begin with Malaysian Flight 370.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-six countries continue to search for the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Missing for more than a week now and with questions
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In what is a criminal probe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish to be very clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no wreckage. We have no evidence of a crash.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are still investigating all possibilities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing is off the table.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The search effort has now been extended into two
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a vast expanse, 28 million square miles.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We begin with day 10.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten days.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Missing for more than a week now, and with questions
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now to the crisis in Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ukraine.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parliament today was working overtime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crimea`s parliament declared the region an
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then decided to appeal directly to Russia.
OBAMA: I believe there`s still a path to resolve this situation
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama`s comments today on the crisis in
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first on-camera reaction from President Obama.
OBAMA: I`m authorizing sanctions on Russian officials.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Announcing sanctions on seven Russian officials.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These sanctions are interesting. They`re dramatic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Putin know his own end game?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we know the end game?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or is he just making it up as he goes along?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do we go from here? There are some really big
OBAMA: We are imposing sanctions. We`re making it clear there are
consequences for their actions.
MELBER: Good evening to you. I am Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
We begin with breaking news on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. "The New York
Times" is reporting tonight that the plane`s first turn that diverted from
its original flight path was, quote, "carried out through a computer system
that was most likely programmed by someone in the plane`s cockpit who was
knowledgeable about airplane systems." That`s according to senior U.S.
Now, 26 nations are now involved in the official hunt for Malaysia Airlines
Flight 370, a mission that enters its 11th day. Of course with many
mysteries remaining, there`s still no defined search area. Instead
investigators are focused on this large area over a whole lot of land and
water. That`s an area stretching above and below the equator, by areas the
plane might have crossed while making its last satellite transmission.
We do know investigators believe the disappearance was a deliberate act.
That means it wouldn`t be an accident.
But there is still far more theory than fact in this ongoing mystery.
Today, officials indicated they`re investigating whether whoever was
piloting the jetliner after it went missing might have used something
called terrain masking. Now, that`s a process of flying below 5,000 feet
to avoid any kind of radar detection.
That type of flying, however, is extremely dangerous. It can cause not
only extreme sickness on board but also put severe stress and levels of
force on a Boeing 777.
Malaysian police have also removed a homemade flight simulator from one of
the pilots` residences. They searched over the weekend. That`s another
attempt to mine clues that are of course far from the official search area
for this missing plane.
Now, the simulator`s mere existence like a lot of details about this pilot
doesn`t shed much light automatically on the incident. But speculation and
misinformation has abounded on a story like this one. And that`s partly
because it -- well, it grips so much of the world.
And if you get your news from browsing tabloids online, you may have seen a
lot of speculation about one of the pilots` politics. He reportedly backed
Malaysia`s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. So, some new headlines have
been declaring that the pilot`s views were fanatical. And others asked
whether those views could have actually driven us to a hijacking.
Well, for that kind of case you would of course have to prove a hijacking
occurred. And that scenario has not been confirmed in any way at this
point. In fact, foreign affairs journalist William Dobson added some
useful context to all of this writing in "Slate" that Malaysia`s opposition
leader actually is trying to defeat Malaysia`s authoritarian regime through
elections, not terrorism, let alone revolution. And to be clear, quote,
"What we know is that the pilot of this plane is a fanatical supporter of a
non-violent man who supports a pluralistic and democratic Malaysia."
Moreover, friends of the pilot tell NBC News they can`t imagine their
friend would take over a flight under his command.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIER SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Can you imagine him ever
commandeering his own plane, putting his own passengers at risk?
SIVARASA RASIAH, FRIEND OF PILOT: I cannot for one minute imagine him
making that sort of decision.
CHRIS NISSEN, FRIEND OF PILOT: It just wouldn`t make any sense that he
would have anything to do with any sort of deliberate action on his part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, for more on the search and what we do know about this
timeline of Flight 370 we turn to NBC News correspondent Tom Costello --
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ari.
The Pentagon tells us it is preparing to reduce the U.S. part of the
search. The USS Kidd will soon end search operations leaving only P8 and
P3 planes to search massive areas of water. And with no other country
finding any sign of the plane was ever on radar, the search zone is
shifting now to the south.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Just 500 feet above the Indian Ocean, a U.S. anti-
submarine hunter today searching for any sign of Flight 370. Also today,
more contradictions from Malaysian authorities. After first saying the
plane`s last automated data, or ACARS transmission, was turned off before
the last cockpit radio call, suggesting pilot involvement, today
AHMAD JAUHARI: We don`t know when the ACARS system was switched off. All
we know is the last transmission and we did not receive the next
COSTELLO: So here`s the latest timeline. At 12:41 a.m. Saturday March
8th, Flight 370 left Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.
At 1:07 a.m., it transmitted its last automated data burst, called ACARS.
The next ACARS transmission was scheduled for 30 minutes later. It never
At 1:19 a.m., the co-pilot radioed "All right, good night" as Malaysian air
traffic controllers handed the plane over to Vietnamese controllers.
Just two minutes after that very standard conversation, at 1:21 a.m.,
someone in the cockpit turned off the transponders that send speed,
location, altitude, and heading information. Soon after that, the plane
At 2:15 a.m., the last radar contact in the Strait of Malacca headed north.
Over the next six hours, the plane transmitted one ping an hour to an
orbiting satellite until 8:11 a.m. when the last ping was received. That
puts the plane somewhere along these two arcs as far north as Kazakhstan,
as far south as the deep Indian Ocean.
Australia is now taking over that search zone.
TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We will do our duty to the
families of the 230 people on that aircraft who are still absolutely
COSTELLO: Experts say turning off ACARS then the transponders then flying
the 777 for hours requires expertise, which is why there`s intense focus on
the cockpit crew.
DON BORELLI, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: What is a potential motive and
what can be learned from looking deeply into the background of the pilot,
the co-pilot, and anybody else on that plane that had the skill to fly it.
COSTELLO: Meanwhile, for the family of American Philip Wood, the wait is
SARAH BAJC, GIRLFRIEND OF PASSENGER: I don`t believe that the plane has
been crashed. I haven`t ever believed that the plane has been crashed. It
just doesn`t make sense to me. And I don`t feel like that`s the right
COSTELLO: Investigators continue to look at the backgrounds of everyone on
board, including an off-duty flight engineer. But his father tells NBC
News he was not a pilot, he was only a mechanic -- Ari.
MELBER: NBC News` Tom Costello, thank you very much for that report.
And for more we bring in a pilot and former NTSB investigator Greg Feith,
and Anthony Roman, former corporate pilot and also president of Roman
Associates, a global investigation firm. And two professionals who have
been on this story for us repeatedly. We thank you for that.
We`ve got the new "New York Times" report here.
Greg, weigh in on that for us.
GREG FEITH, FORMER NTSB INVESTIGATOR: I think right now when you look at
all of these stories that are coming out and these senior officials leaking
this information, that`s really upset the Malaysians to begin with, but
this information really I isn`t vetted. The fact that this turn was
supposedly conducted or at least initiated and executed by the FMS system,
it could have been done also by just the autopilot head itself.
The FMS system is the guidance system. You program in your route of flight
and in this case, it would have been to Beijing. It would have had to have
been reprogrammed and executed for this turn to occur.
The turn was only about a 20 degree bank. That would have been a standard
bank rate for an automated turn, whether it`s the autopilot or the FMS
directing the autopilot to make that change.
MELBER: So, just to slow down on that point because "The New York Times"
and several news outlets are going big with this, what you`re saying is
even according to the information released, it wouldn`t necessarily require
the kind of personal diversion of the pilot?
FEITH: It will require a pilot to have intervention. They`re going to
have to execute the FMS. So, they`re going to have to reprogram it,
execute it or use the autopilot to heading select and use that system to
fly the airplane.
But it takes a human to do that.
MELBER: So, does that make foul play less or more likely in your view?
And then to Anthony.
FEITH: I don`t know if it`s about foul play. It just says that whoever
was in that cockpit guiding that airplane had to make those deliberate
inputs to make that airplane turn off its course from Beijing.
MELBER: Well, and so, Anthony, the reason why I press on that -- and I
appreciate the note of caution. "The Times" is reporting it and everyone`s
looking at this story, every new shred of detail that we get, as the kind
of action that whether or not you understand everything Greg just said on
the details, the kind of action that makes this more suspicious.
ANTHONY ROMAN, FORMER CORPORATE PILOT: No, I don`t believe it makes it
more suspicious. This type of aircraft has a very similar cockpit to
automated corporate aircraft and other jet aircraft of its class and
category. In this particular instance, this airplane is generally flown as
a matter of routine by its flight management system, and this will guide
the airplane to wherever it has to go along its waypoints.
Now, Greg is absolutely right. This could have been a manual or a semi-
manual turn, either way. Using the autopilot or manually turning the plane
using the flight controls.
However, the subsequent track that the aircraft flew following standard
navigation waypoints would strongly suggest that the navigation system was
reprogrammed and used during the course of this flight.
MELBER: And on that point, WNYC put together a map here, and we just
played of course some sound from a family member saying they believe or
hope that this plane landed somehow.
And on this map that we`ve seen here, you`ve got 634 runways in 26
countries where technically you might have that kind of landing. What is
the likelihood, though, of that? Greg?
FEITH: It`s very unlikely, almost impossible to even fathom. That`s a
large airplane. You`re talking a 600,000 to 650,000-pound airplane. And
while there may be a runway down there that can accommodate it as far as
length, trying to hide that airplane --
FEITH: -- or disguise it in some way once you got it on the ground would
be virtually impossible. It`s not like you could put it down in a jungle
strip and then hide it somewhere.
MELBER: Yes, and building on that point, I want to get your thoughts,
Anthony, "The New York Times" also contrasted this to other hijacking
scenarios including 9/11, where there were cell phone or other types of
communications from some of the passengers.
And "The Times" writes, "As far as investigators have been able to
determine there have been to phone calls, Twitter postings, Instagram
photos or any communication from anyone aboard the aircraft since it was
In your view, Anthony, how should we weigh that lack of evidence, so to
ROMAN: Well, it`s likely this aircraft flew above 10,000 feet. There are
varying reports of it being at 5,000 feet. It would burn far too much fuel
to have reached the waypoints that it reached at 5,000 feet.
So, based on investigative theory, we would conclude that the aircraft was
at a reasonably high altitude to increase its range. Jet engines burn much
less fuel at higher altitudes.
The cell phones just don`t work above 10,000 feet, or without of sight of
cell towers. Now, with regard to some of the other facts involved here the
CIA actually back in the `80s during the Cold War planned the theft of a
soviet aircraft with the participation of the Soviet pilot, landing it on a
prepared remote air strip to steal the secret technology of the time. And
they were prepped to camouflage the aircraft.
So, there is planning and precedent for this kind of thing. As remote as
it sounds, it is a theory that has to be kept on the table up until the
facts are laid out.
MELBER: Yes. And it`s a theory that as we know, when you look at a story
like this, with a complete question mark of this missing plane, people
around the world wondering about it, families wondering about it. There`s
obviously an intense emotional desire to hold out any kind of hope.
Although as you`ve articulated, a lot of reasons to be wary of holding out
too much hope.
Greg Feith and Anthony Roman, thank you. I`m sure we`ll be hearing from
And coming up, the LAST WORD on today`s theories about Flight 370`s pilots.
We`ll keep you posted on all of that later in the hour.
But first, what does Vladimir Putin want? We`re going to look ahead to the
speech he`s going to give tomorrow on Ukraine and Crimea sanctions.
And a milestone, a real one crossed in the Affordable Care Act.
All that and much more ahead.
MELBER: The Washington Nationals baseball team may have broken federal
law. How? Well, simply by trying to take photos of the team during spring
training in Florida.
The Nats launched a small four-rotor helicopter drone to take publicity
photos of the players. These were pictures that would have been impossible
for somebody to snap otherwise.
And the Nats forgot one important thing -- to get the required clearance
from the FAA. And the FAA is working on regulations for these kind of
drones. But in the meantime the agency has banned commercial use of them.
That`s partly because the FAA likes to get a heads-up before new flying
objects start whizzing around.
As for the Nats, a team official told "The A.P.", "No, we didn`t get it
cleared but we don`t get our pop flies cleared either and those go higher
than this thing did."
Well, maybe they don`t have to be good at arguing because everyone loves
And up next, Ukraine, Russia, and Vladimir Putin`s next move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: As I told President Putin yesterday, the referendum in Crimea was a
clear violation of Ukrainian constitutions and international law. And it
will not be recognized by the international community.
Today, I`m announcing a series of measures that will continue to increase
the costs on Russia and on those responsible for what is happening in
Ukraine. I`m authorizing sanctions on Russian officials, entities
operating in the arms sector in Russia, and individuals who provide
material support to senior officials of the Russian government.
And if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A few hours after President Obama made that statement today, the
Kremlin made it official on their Web site. President Vladimir Putin has
signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a, quote, "sovereign and independent
That follows Sunday`s referendum in Crimea where 97 percent of the people
voted to secede from Ukraine.
Now, tomorrow morning, Putin will address the Russian parliament where he`s
expected to recommend that Russia formally annex Crimea and there are
already reports that he will outline new sanctions of his own.
Foreign affairs reporter Josh Rogin broke a story on "The Daily Beast"
today that Putin will actually draw up his own list of retaliatory
sanctions which includes barring two U.S. senators from visiting Russia.
And that leaked Russian maneuver finally sparked -- well, some bipartisan
unity on the issue in Congress. Dick Durbin, the Democrats` number two in
the Senate, issued an official response and he said, quote, "My Lithuanian-
born mother would be proud her son made Vladimir Putin`s American enemies
list." And John McCain piped up with his trademark sense of humor adding,
quote, "I`d be honored to be on that list. I guess I`m going to have to
try to withdraw my money from my secret account in St. Petersburg."
Joining us now are: Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for "The
Atlantic" and MSNBC contributor, and Adrian Karatnycky, a senior fellow at
the Atlantic Council. Adrian`s a managing partner for the, I should say,
Myrmidon Group which advises companies looking to enter Ukraine.
Did I say that right?
ADRIAN KARATNYCKY, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Sort of.
MELBER: Say it.
MELBER: Myrmidon Group, let`s get it right first.
So, let me start with you -- the consequences here. We`ve heard some talk
about this being a relatively small number of individuals the U.S. is
currently targeting. And there you have Putin looking to do some sort of
ceremonial or more blockage back.
KARATNYCKY: Right. Well, you know, this is a sequenced set of sanctions.
The U.S. has made it clear and Europe has made it clear that they`re going
to ratchet this up as Russia misbehaves and ratchets up its pressure. So
this could accelerate over the course of weeks.
Tomorrow if he absorbs, you know, Crimea into Russia, that may trigger
another set of sanctions. If he menaces Ukraine on its eastern borders,
And I think, you know, yes, he can retaliate with some sanctions. But
frankly, the economy of Russia is the size of Italy`s. It is not a world
economic power. It`s a relatively modest power, apart from its energy and
apart from its nukes, which are very important.
But let`s not exaggerate what that means in terms of economic opportunity
and economic clout.
MADDOW: Yes. And that`s an argument Jay Carney made today, speaking on
behalf of the White House, about the fact that the Russian stock market is
being rocked. Your point being it`s not so large that can just withstand
Steve, take a listen to what Jay Carney said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Russian stock market has
decreased as a result of the actions that have happened. The ruble has
lost value as a result of this. And international investors who are
looking for safe places to put their money are surely reevaluating any
consideration they may give to putting their money in Russia, and in
Russian industries and the Russian economy. And those effects, those
impacts will only compound as time passes and Russia doesn`t reverse course
or engages in further provocations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Steve, your take on the measurable impact here in Russia.
STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think that what Adrian just laid out
is exactly right, that the overall size and scale of the Russian economy is
rather modest. I would compare it to the size of the Netherlands in my
But nonetheless, I talked to several former treasury secretaries in the
last two days, both Republican and Democrat, people who are in high
finance. And sanctions are messy and complicated. And there is a severe
chance of blowback.
So, while we may think that the West can stand strong by imposing penalties
on the Russian economy, one, these aren`t unilateral -- these are
unilateral sanctions largely or they`re French -- I mean European and
American sanctions but there are lots of outs that Russia has.
And in addition, I think Putin could take measures that cause pain inside
the United States. You have to remember that when superpowers deploy
themselves, whether with military power or economic power, there can be
blowback. And I think that`s part of the un-discussed element of our
actions that we`re taking today.
And I don`t know what our end game is. When does that point of escalation
that Adrian just referred to stop? And when is Putin likely to fold.
But when is the United States likely to fold? That is still I think the
big question mark here.
MELBER: Yes, you know, you say that. And Henry Kissinger`s piece in the
"Washington Post" made a similar point, discussing the fact that the test
of a policy is not where it begins, but where it ends.
And I want to read part of that and his view of the sort of contrasting
approaches here. Kissinger says, "Putin is a serious strategist on the
premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are
not his strong suits nor has understanding Russian history and psychology
been a strong point of U.S. policymakers."
And, Steve, Kissinger goes on to argue something that I think is relevant
to what you were just saying, which is where the off-ramp?
CLEMONS: Well, I think that`s a very important point. And the other thing
is we`re talking just about Ukraine here. At the height of the Cold War
with the Soviet Union, the former Soviet Union, if you had 15 or 16
different bridges in dealing with Russia, whether it was an agricultural
trade or nuclear negotiations or dealing with trying to get people out of
Russia, if one of those would close down or be complicated you would have
other communications points.
It`s worrisome to me that we`ve targeted people around Putin in such a
direct way because we have other things that we have to do collaboratively
with Russia in the world other than deal with Ukraine.
And so, when you throw all of your eggs into the basket of trying to
manipulate or move Russia over this box on the chess board, and you`ve
ignored the other elements of the chess board, it begins to make me worry
that we`re not seeing that bigger strategic picture and haven`t really
identified a strategy to move Russia.
KARATNYCKY: I think we can`t count on Russia to be a partner in any of the
big picture issues when Russia basically transgresses territorial integrity
in the heart of Europe.
There`s another country bordering on a NATO country in Moldova, and there`s
a district called Gagauzia (ph) which on February 2nd had a referendum
saying that if Moldova moves into the European Union, they`re going to
break away and join Russia and they`re asking for Russian protection.
So, we can have a cascading effect of changing borders, Russia making
territorial, new territorial claims.
The last thing is on strategy. I don`t think he is a great strategic
thinker. I think he is a person who understands how to use power and who
And here I would say, taking tough positions against Putin will lead him to
compromise. If he sees the West vacillating, he will move forward and he
will be relentless. If he feels some pushback, he will negotiate, he will
respect that pushback, and I think that he`s not a madman. We can find
some kind of a compromise.
MELBER: Right. I understand that.
I think ultimately the test of that policy will be whether those actions
are felt by Putin. Not all of the talk that we hear in the United States
but -- we`re out of time.
But in the U.S. sometimes we have the bombast over the actions. Putin`s
going to measure the actions over the speeches although he`s got his own to
Steve Clemons and Adrian Karatnycky, thank you very much for joining me
CLEMONS: Thank you.
MELBER: And coming up -- what the Republicans got wrong for the Affordable
Care Act. We don`t have time for all the things they got wrong but we do
have time for a pretty big numerical one that happened today. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The idea that the federal
government should come in and create a one size fits all for the entire
country never was going to work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only six people signed up for the health care law on
its first day. That`s right. Six people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If enough people don`t sign up for these exchanges the
rates on these exchanges are going to be astronomical.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six? I mean, you couldn`t make this up. If I had said
six, they would call me crazy, racist. Who knows what they would call me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not just a broken Web site now. It`s a broken
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: They don`t know the number of
enrollees. They don`t know who`s signed up and who hasn`t. They don`t
know who`s got insurance and who hasn`t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In total 248 people enrolled in Obamacare nationwide by
the end of day two.
BOEHNER: I don`t think this is ever going to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Only six people, you guys. Well, not really. In the spotlight
tonight new numbers and some good news for Obamacare. You have heard those
Republicans. Their bleak predictions about the ACA in misleading ads like
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The affordable care act, I`m going to have bureaucrats
telling me what kind of services I`m going to qualify for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But alas, today was another chapter in the reality-driven
Obamacare backlash fact checking because numbers. Today the health and
human services department reported that ACA marketplace enrollment numbers
hit the five million mark. There are just two weeks to go until the
enrollment deadline. And while numbers are rising, the White House isn`t
taking anything for granted here. That`s why the campaign has been
everywhere from "Between Two Ferns" to "Web M.D." to going inside the paint
with a man nicknamed LBJ. Well, not that LBJ. They also call him king
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: The deadline to enroll is March 31st. So sign
up now. You never know when you might take a hit. Spread the word and get
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining us now to spread the word, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, former Obama
health policy officer and author of "Reinventing American Health Care."
Welcome, sir. I hope you`re an LBJ fan.
DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, FORMER OBAMA HEALTH POLICY OFFICER: I love it. It`s
MELBER: Now, let`s start right here with something that goes to the
politics of this, and then of course I want to get you on the policy as
But first, the latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows something
pretty interesting. Take a look at this. Forty-eight percent of Americans
would rather vote for a Democratic candidate who supports fixing and
keeping the ACA compared to 47 percent who would vote for a Republican
supporting repeal. And that`s in of course what has been an arguably rough
midterm environment for Democrats. Do you think, do you argue that part of
what`s happening is the facts are catching up with the most negative horror
stories about the ACA?
EMANUEL: Yes. I think it is the case that people are beginning to realize
there are some benefits here to the affordable care act. Young people can
stay on their parents` plan. People can get on Medicaid. Millions of
people can get coverage through the exchange even if they have a pre-
existing condition. And there`s other things which don`t get the headlines
like quality improvements and cost control. And I think people are
beginning to realize this thing is good.
But like every piece of big legislation, you need adjustments. In
Massachusetts in the few years since they`ve had their plan they have had
six major adjustments to their bill. So I think Americans are getting to
MELBER: And doctor, on the policy, what happens here after this big
deadline of March 31st? What happens to someone who wants to get care
EMANUEL: Remember, March 31st is the deadline, and there`s a really good
reason to have a deadline. People all by nature work towards deadlines.
And if you don`t put in a deadline people will postpone and kick the can
down the road as long as they can.
That is a real deadline. And I don`t believe the administration is going
to move it. What that deadline means is if you don`t get insurance by
March 31st, first of all, you`ll be subject to the penalty. While you
think that`s not big, it`s going to increase over the years. Two, you
won`t be able to get insurance until November 15th, 2014. So you will be
going for more than seven months without being able to buy insurance unless
you have a life-qualifying event that`s a technical term for things like
you have a birth or you get divorced and you need to buy insurance. Or you
move states and you need to buy insurance. But you are out of luck if you
don`t buy insurance before the deadline of March 31st. That is a real
barrier, a real limit.
MELBER: And your view of the five million number significance, because it
is way more than, say, the six people that some on FOX News were talking
about, but it is to be fair short of where the administration wanted to be.
EMANUEL: So the congressional budget office, when they were projecting
things, thought we would be at 7 million by the end of open enrollment on
March 31st. Even if we have a terrific next two months, we`ll be short of
that. We`ll probably be at maximum 5.5, six million people. But that, by
all estimations, is first of all enough to keep the exchanges stable.
Second of all enough to make sure that next year`s premiums, which are
important, are not going to zoom up. They may go up just because of
natural inflation in health care, but they will not zoom up. In other
words, the exchanges are stable. And that`s I think a very good sign.
I should also note California alone has more than a million people signed
up through their exchanges. So that is a big, big number. And of course
between California and Texas and Florida those are the three biggest states
in terms of absolute number of people who are uninsured who need to be
MELBER: Yes, it`s a big market. The national market is something we
measure for all sorts of policy reasons. The local markets are where most
of the competition occurs. And of course the states that have been more
cooperative have seen some of those benefits, which may be a policy
argument for continuing down the path.
Zeke Emanuel, thank you for joining us tonight.
EMANUEL: Thank you. Nice to be here.
MELBER: Appreciate it.
Now, coming up, the illegal sex trade in the U.S. and why it is actually
not what you might think it is.
And later, we will have more on the theories and the latest breaking news
on the two pilots who flew flight 370 before it disappeared.
MELBER: Senator Mitch McConnell`s campaign posted a two-minute video of
staged photo of him at work and smiling and generally being amiable. Now,
why would they publish what amounts to footage from the cutting room floor?
Several reports say it`s so that super PACs can use that video without
officially coordinating with the campaign. That would be against the law.
And parodies of the video are now all over the internet. Like this one.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
MELBER: Better than the real commercials.
Now, the videos have spawned their own hash tag on twitter, McConnelling.
And Jon Stewart and the "Daily Show" writers got right into the act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: We put a million songs to this.
Because it`s funny (bleep). Give me another one.
Here`s the secret. It works with every song. It works with every song
that has the word "eyes" in it.
It goes with almost any body part.
It makes no sense!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: McConnell was of course asked about the new hash tag today and he
said quote "it`s nice to have some fun occasionally." That`s the spirit.
Now, coming up we do have the latest details on the missing Malaysia
And next, this is an important one. What you don`t know about the sex
trade in America.
MELBER: When you look at crime and violence against women, there are key
parts of criminal networks that are very hard to track. Sociologists call
these hidden populations, groups of people who hide their identity because
they`re afraid of stigma or prosecutor.
When attorney general Eric Holder took over the justice department in 2009,
there were no reliable government studies on how prostitution actually
worked in the U.S. Prosecutors said it was just too hard to get reliable
information from those largely hidden populations of pimps and prostitutes.
So in 2010, the justice department commissioned independent research from
the urban institute to tackle the issue. Researchers spent three years
interviewing convicted pimps and sex workers in eight U.S. cities. The
research was just released in what the "New York Times" is calling a
landmark report that could fill the wide gaps in the understanding of how
the underground sex trade works. The report found that many pimps are
deterred from certain behavior based on police punishment such as avoiding
drug dealing and pimping for minors because of harsher punishment.
Prosecution is an underground business it turns out with many mainstream
tools. Half of study participants said they conduct business online and
pimps recruited on craigslist, a quarter of pimps said they use business
cards for one example. And coercion by pimps involves non-violent acts
according to the study such as fraud, social and romantic pressure and
confiscation of property.
Now, while the researchers are focused on this data, not necessarily policy
prescriptions, the report is a key contribution to a wider debate about how
police approach prostitution pimping and sex trafficking in our country.
And without being -- without seeing the fact that any side of a
prostitution transaction is illegal in most of the nation.
There is something new here. The idea that reformers say women are being
incorrectly categorized as criminals in this underground economy when they
are actually victims, coerced into crime or trafficked as property.
Joining us now is Vednita Carter, founder and executive director of
Breaking Free, an organization that works on these issues in Minnesota.
Tell us your reaction to the report and how you`ve worked on these issues.
VEDNITA CARTER, FOUNDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BREAKING FREE: Well, Breaking
Free works with 400 to 500 women and girls a year that pretty much want to
get out of the life, and we help them do that. But I have read the report.
And the report, most of it is really pretty realistic. It`s pretty true of
outside of pimps saying there`s no violence and of that sort and recruiting
women and keeping women in the life, there is very much violence.
But one thing that I say that people need to really understand, the real
inherent violence is just the act itself. Women have to be with between
one to maybe 20 to 40 guys a day. And that in itself is an act of
violence. The human body wasn`t built for that kind of torture is what
CARTER: And many pimps have groups of women that work for them. I`m
talking about five, ten, fifteen girls at a time. And they all have quotas
that they have to make before they come back to him. And their quotas can
be anywhere from $200 a night to $1,000 a night. So there`s a lot of money
to be made for a pimp in that.
MELBER: Yes, Vednita, you mentioned that. And that again goes to that
idea of how law enforcement and how in policy conversations we classify
this. I want to look at a 2013 article that came out in the FBI law
enforcement bulletin which described how sometimes in police investigations
they begin with what they think will be a prostitution case of prosecution
and then they find they`re actually arresting sex trafficking victims and
reading from the article, in over 100 arrests most of the women expressed
prostitution was not their career of choice. In one study 88 percent of
the prostituted women surveyed stated they wanted to leave the sex trade
In your view, how much of our understanding of this issue should be about
sex trafficking rather than the crime of female prostitution?
CARTER: I`ll tell you what we believe. What I believe, what breaking free
believes, is that prostitution and sex trafficking are pretty much one and
the same. If a woman is being trafficked, she`s being trafficked I`m going
to say from the same part of Minneapolis. That`s trafficking.
People oftentimes think of sex trafficking as women coming from other
countries. But there are women sex trafficked right here in our own towns
and our own cities and states. And so we look at prostitution and sex
trafficking about an individual being bought and sold. That`s what the
bottom line is. They`re being bought and sold. It doesn`t matter if she`s
called trafficked or prostituted.
And we work with women from other countries as well as domestic women right
here from the city, St. Paul and Minneapolis. And they both have something
in common. That is that they both have been bought and sold and that they
both wanted out. That is not what they wanted. And didn`t know how to get
out and it was very difficult for them to get out of the life.
MELBER: Yes. And just briefly, why do you think that is? You make the
comment that perhaps Americans sometimes see this more when we look outside
our country than within it.
CARTER: I think because we have a little bit more passion, our compassion
for foreign women. Because many times their circumstances might be
different to us in many ways. They`re brought from Japan over to the
United States against their will or they`re lied to. They`re told they`re
going to make a lot of money. But we don`t realize those very same
situations happen right here in our owned country.
Women are made promises. They aren`t always told this is what they`re
going to be doing. There is a lot -- I mean, you look at the woman and I`m
going to say "Pretty Woman," the movie, "Pretty Woman," That movie really
did make a lot of young women believe that there`s a lot of money to be
made in this industry.
And so they got in it with the intent of hopefully making millions. I have
not met one woman yet, and I mean this, I have not met one woman that made
millions of dollars a year. But I have talked to many pimps that have made
a lot of money off the women. They barely see anything. But there`s just
a misunderstanding, or people don`t understand the into dynamics of this
issue. So they --
MELBER: Yes, well -- go ahead, I`m sorry.
CARTER: I`m sorry. No, it`s just that people have to understand, there`s
no real difference between sex trafficking and prostitution.
CARTER: They are two of the same.
MELBER: And that`s a point that comes through in the report and some new
data here that`s a tough read but pretty fascinating.
Vednita Carter, thanks for joining us tonight.
CARTER: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: Coming up, the last word on the new theories about the pilots of
MELBER: The investigation may focus on the two pilots and new reports out
tonight that the plane made a turn programmed into its flight computer.
MELBER: "The New York Times" is reporting tonight that senior American
officials believe Malaysia airline flight 370`s first divergent turn was
actually programmed into the plane`s computer system. That focuses even
more attention on the plane`s pilots. And a new you tube video appears to
show those pilots going through airport security. Now, NBC News has not
yet verified this video`s source or timing.
Earlier today, Malaysian authorities said they believe it was the co-pilot,
27-year-old Fariq Ab Hamid, who last spoke those known words from the
plane, "all right, good night." It was just two minutes after those words
were said that the transponders in the cockpit were turned off.
Joining us now for the last word on all of today`s developments is Jim
Cavanaugh, a former ATF special agent in charge and an MSNBC law
Good evening, sir.
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Happy St. Patrick`s day,
MELBER: Happy St. Patrick`s day. Yes, indeed.
Now, what do you think, though, of this new "New York Times" report? Does
it make it in your view from your investigative background more likely that
there was some sort of human-caused problem here?
CAVANAUGH: Yes. A human hand turned the plane and did this series of
events. We know that from the evidence that`s been released by the
Malaysian government and the reporting on it. But I would bracket what we
know now, the radio call from the co-pilot, the transponder two minutes
later, the manual press in of the new direction and western travel, and
then the ACARS system is disabled. And then Japanese air pilot makes
contact with the cockpit by radio and says he only hears murmuring. The
Japanese pilot believes it`s the co-pilot. And that`s sort of left out of
So, this thing is bracketed by two radio calls. The last one sort of
unintelligible. If there`s a tape of that on the surface vessel or plane,
it should be retrieved and enhanced.
But anyway, turned by a human hand. The next question is what`s the mind
operating the hand? Is it attached? Is it behind it with a gun or a knife
or somehow coercing that hand? And that`s what the investigators need to
MELBER: Right. And that go -- I mean, you raise that point. That goes of
course to the technical piece of this. That a lot of the reporting
reflects the use of the technology, the autopilot function or something
that was done by someone experienced. But that doesn`t necessarily mean to
your point it was done by free will.
I also want to flag something on the way these investigations work
internationally. There`s been these hurdles for cooperation. They become
more glaring as the search has continued. Today, some military analysts
were telling the "Wall Street Journal" that governments continue to view
one another in this region with a suspicion characterized by historical
enmity that make them disinclined to share data even in a crisis. The
mistrust includes nearby neighbors in China which includes them being
That`s something you may know a lot about but a lot of other folks don`t,
which is that this is a crisis. There are people`s lives in the balance
from many different countries, and yet that doesn`t necessarily spur the
kind of cooperation we`d like.
CAVANAUGH: Right. It`s really sad. You know, we have all these lives
lost, these families being ripped apart. And we have this, you know,
jumbled mess, command operation on the ground. It`s tightened up somewhat.
The facts are sort of tightening up now better than they were last week.
But yes, it`s a mess.
But you know, this is a mystery because he it was intended to be so. The
actors intended this to be a mystery. And whether that is suicide, which
is a likely cause here, or greed or terrorism or another event, it was
planned this way and planned maybe to never be found or be discovered once,
you know, the completion of the criminal act ended. So.
MELBER: Right. And planned that way and as far as we know not claimed or
advertised in any way to the extent that it goes into the criminal or
Jim Cavanaugh, want to thank you for your time tonight. You get the last
CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: I am Ari Melber in for Lawrence O`Donnell. You can find me on
facebook at facebook.com/arimelber.
And Chris Hayes is up next.
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