PoliticsNation, Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
July 17, 2014
Guest: Greg Feith; Nina Khrushcheva; Jay Rollins, E.J. Dionne, Janine
Davidson, Jim Cavanaugh, Jack Jacobs, Jay Rollins
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight`s lead, NBC news reports
Malaysia flight 17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. It is
unclear who launched the missile.
But here`s what we do know. The Boeing 777 was traveling from Amsterdam to
Kuala Lumpur when it crashed into eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.
This area has been the site of fighting between Ukraine and pro-Russian
separatists. Right now, the U.S. intelligence experts are trying to
determine if the missile was launched by Russians or rebels inside Ukraine.
There were 295 people aboard, including 280 passengers and 15 crew members.
The U.S. is investigating if there were any Americans on the plane.
President Obama and vice president Biden spoke to the Ukrainian president
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t have all the
details yet. I want to be sure of what I say. Apparently have been shot
down. Shot down, not an accident. Blown out of the sky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The plane had been traveling at 33,000 feet before it went down.
The wreckage stretches over nine miles and one rescue worker said at least
100 bodies have been found at the scene. Ukrainian officials are calling
it a terrorist attack and say the plane was hit with a Russian-made missile
system. But the separatists say it could have been the Ukrainian
government. And Russian media is even suggesting that President Putin may
have been the target the. Right now in the Ukraine it`s just past 1:00 in
the morning. There is a scene of true horror on the ground.
Joining me now are MSNBC military analyst colonel Jack Jacobs, former NTSB
investigator Greg Feith and former American airlines pilot Jay Rollins.
Thank you for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Colonel Jacobs, let me start with I don`t uh. NBC News says
intelligence officials have determined this was a missile. What`s your
reaction to that?
COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Almost undoubtedly a missile.
And we probably know exactly where it came from because we pass satellites
over the area almost continuously since the difficulties started between
Russia, and Ukraine and the separatists. We have been looking at it almost
continuously which is why the vice president could say with certainty that
it was a missile that destroyed the plane. And we probably know exactly
where it came from. It will be interesting to see when we decide to
announce where it came from because I think we already know.
SHARPTON: What kind of missile, Colonel, would this have had to be?
Because it was 33,000 feet in the air. What kind of missile is capable of
taking the plane down?
JACOBS: Well, most people have in mind shoulder-fired weapon that we see
from time to time on the battlefield. This was almost undoubtedly an
improved SA-6 or SA-11 of the type you see on screen. It has a slant range
of 72,000 feet which means from the point it leaves the ground to its
maximum effective range where it can hit a target is about 10 miles or so.
It`s radar guided. The target is acquire by radar and it is terminally
guided by radar. It`s got a proximity fuse. And that means that it
doesn`t are have to hit the target. The warhead can explode near the
target, maybe as far as 50 or 70 meters away and it can still damage or
destroy the aircraft. It`s usually fired against high-flying aircraft,
although because it has such a speed it can actually attack lower flying
aircraft. It is an older weapon, but clearly very effective. Particularly
against aircraft where it`s not being jammed.
SHARPTON: Greg Feith, you are an experienced investigator. What does the
ground wreckage tell you?
GREG FEITH, FORMER NTSB INVESTIGATOR: Reverend, one of the things the
investigators, of course, are going to be looking at now since this is a
criminal act. It is no longer a conventional accident investigation is
collecting that physical evidence that will support this crime. They will
be looking for fragments of the missile. They will be looking to see what
kind of damage was incurred to the aircraft that rendered it incapacitated
and the crew could not control the airplane. And then of course, because
of the volatile area, that is, the war zone that it`s in and the debris
that spread over nine to ten miles area, it is going to will be very
difficult for investigators to really have immediate access because of the
threat or risk to human life. So this is going to be a long process, but
it is a criminal investigation. No longer an accident investigation.
SHARPTON: Now, Ukrainian officials say this was the work of a book missile
system, a Russian-made anti-aircraft missile system designed to target low
and high flying aircraft. It can reach up to 72,000 feet.
Colonel, an AP reporter saw one of the missiles in a rebel area. Would
they have known how to use this?
JACOBS: Yes and no. It`s a very interesting question indeed. Yes, they
would have been able to use it. They were trained on how to used it. But
being able to use it on the one hand and having the kind of fire discipline
you expect disciplined troops to have is something else entirely.
I mean, this is a scenario that says that they have the button and they
have the rocket. But they don`t have any discipline. And we also don`t
know what the rules of engagement are either for the rebels or the Russians
in the region. So it is entirely possible that they saw a target and
ignoring completely a beacon that identified this as a civilian aircraft
pressed the button and let her fly. And you have a tragedy like this as a
result of good equipment and lousy discipline.
SHARPTON: Jay Rollin, you`re a pilot. And this is an area in eastern
Ukraine where a lot of fighting has been going on. It must have been a
very, very nervous situation for any pilot to even be flying over this
JAY ROLLINS, RETIRED AIRLINE CAPTAIN: Well, there is a question as to why
they were flying in the area. The FAA had put out a warning and had
prohibit American aircraft from flying in the area. I don`t know why the
Malaysians would have continued flying in that area. They are not under
the auspices of the FAA. But it wouldn`t seem to be a safe thing to do if
a major organization like the FAA had told its pilots not to fly there.
Having said that, there are arrangements in various hot spots around the
world, if you will. American Airlines continued to fly over Cuba, even
when we had a lot of disputes going on with the United States. but those
things are arranged ahead of time. And the passage has been cleared ahead
of time. Sometimes those countries have been actually paid a fee. And so,
in this instance where there is hostility going on and a major organization
like the FAA says it is not a good idea to fly there, it is surprising that
the Malaysians would continue to fly there. And yet there must have been
other aircrafts that has passed that area are as well.
SHARPTON: Now, you have flown 33,000 feet many times. You are a pilot.
Is there any warning, is there any way you would have known if a missile
was coming where you could have taken evasive action.
ROLLINS: No. Not unless the missile was coming from are the front of the
aircraft which is unlikely that you would have any warning whatsoever. I
suspect that when the missile hit no one on board knew what happened.
SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you, Greg. This is a site of a lot of
conflict. How does it make that investigation go?
FEITH: It is going to be very difficult, Reverend.
SHARPTON: And who would do the investigations, is another part of that
FEITH: Absolutely. The fact that the wreckage is in a very volatile area
and accessibility in to that area is very difficult, that`s going to
present challenges to whoever the investigative authority or authorities
are that gets into the area.
There`s been early report that even the cockpit voice recorder and/or
flight data recorder have already been absconded by somebody. So the
question is who and what intent do they have with that.
Because this is a crime, most likely and because we have had multinational
passengers on the airplane to presumably include 23 Americans, there`s
going to be a lot of different factions from the FBI to other similar
organizations around the world who are going to want to have access. The
question is how big a team do you put in there and how much risk are you
willing to take on to try to support a crime theory, if you will?
SHARPTON: Now, a lot of local people have been walking through the debris.
How will that affect the investigation?
FEITH: Any time you have a lot of civilians like that or in this case
possibly rebels of both sides, a lot of the valuable information that
investigators would need to support a crime theory or intentional act could
be disappearing as we speak. That`s an area that there is no security
there. They are going to do what they want to do. And if you have locals
who decide that they are going to try and salvage parts of the metal and
everything else for their own purposes, there could be very little
wreckage. And we have seen that in the past in these volatile areas. In
the jungle where parts of the plane have disappeared because the locals
have taken them. so there may not be a lot of good evidence, if you will,
that investigators will be able to work with.
SHARPTON: Colonel Jacobs, the United States is determined that this
airplane was shot down by this missile. But how would they determine who
shot the missile?
JACOBS: Well, it might be difficult, but it might not. It depends on
whether or not we have a good view of the border area at the time the
missile was fired. If we do, resolution can be very, very good down to
extremely small distances. Down to a foot or less even from some
satellites. And we ought to be able to tell from which side of the border
the missile was fired. And whether it was fired from the Russians or it
was fired by the rebels. It`s unlikely it was fired by the Ukrainians but
it very easily could have been fired by the rebels.
SHARPTON: Jay, would you as a pilot be able to determine at this point
whether or not there was anything at all the pilots could have done upon
impact? If there was no warning, I would imagine there was nothing they
could do at that point.
ROLLINS: No. Even if the pilots knew that there was a missile launched at
them, they would only have are seconds to react. In an aircraft the size
of a 777 airliner is not that maneuverable. And especially to move quickly
like, say a fighter might, and therefore you`re lumbering along. They are
going in a straight line. It`s an easy shot for a missile. And there is
very little that a pilot could do at that point.
SHARPTON: All right. Well, thank you very much, Greg Feith.
Colonel Jacobs and Jay Rollins, please stay with us.
Coming up, why would someone want to shoot down a plane with a surface to
air missile? We`ll have more on the investigation and we`ll go live to the
And how did we get there? We look at the rising tensions between Russia
and Ukraine. And President Obama called this a terrible tragedy. What
challenge does this president have to his foreign policy agenda? Stay with
SHARPTON: Ahead, much more on the Russian book missile system that may
have been used to bring down that plane. And what happens next with
American foreign policy? We`ll go live to the White House and the
Pentagon. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We are back with more on the shoot down of Malaysia Air flight
17. The attack is ramping up tensions, even more in a region torn apart by
war and rivalry between Russia and Ukraine.
The most recent crisis erupted in February when Russia planned to take over
the Crimean peninsula. Crimea officially broke away to join Russia in
March. Since then tensions have only gotten worse, hitting a new peak this
On Sunday a Russian man was killed by a shot fired from are the Ukrainian
border. The next day a Ukrainian military transport plane was shot down.
On Tuesday, 11 people were killed in Ukraine in a Russian air strike.
Yesterday, Ukraine alleges that Russia shot down one of their fighter jets.
And, today, the crisis spilled over to claim a plane full of innocent
Back with me now are Colonel Jack Jacobs and Greg Feith. And joining us is
Nina Khrushcheva, a professor of international affairs and the great
granddaughter of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushcheva.
Thank you both -- for all for being here tonight.
Let me go to you Nina. Let me start by asking you, who would benefit from
shooting this plane down?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, WORLD POLICY INSTITUTE: I can imagine that only the
separatists might think they benefit from that plane they shot down. It
could be a matter of -- because basically, none of them are well military
trained or not necessarily very disciplined people. And so, for them, it
could be a bragging right that they were able to use this big missile.
But I do believe that even they -- when they actually (INAUDIBLE) finally
realize that they, in fact, shot down not a military plane as they probably
thought they were shooting at, but a commercial plane of a foreign country
with many foreigners on board, people not involved, I`m sure even they got
chills down their spine. I don`t see anybody else who would benefit from a
SHARPTON: So, are you suggesting that maybe this was a mistake?
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I mean, it`s not a mistake. Somebody shot that plane.
SHARPTON: I mean in terms of a mistake that they didn`t think it was a
KHRUSHCHEVA: I don`t think they knew. It was one of those fogs of war
that they have been shooting at planes since Monday. And even before that
probably some eager person who was trying to show off to whatever, I don`t
know. Maybe they had a drinking bout the day before. God knows what`s
But as I said, it`s really not a disciplined group of people. Even they
were either separatists. But even if it came from the Russian side, I
can`t imagine these were orders of anybody high up in the military and
probably maybe was an undisciplined event that happened on some either on
the Russian side or pro Russian side, on the side of the border with
SHARPTON: Now, Colonel Jacobs, that`s really consistent with what you said
in the last segment.
JACOBS: Yes. You try to put yourself in a position of young people who
are not necessarily well trained enough to use the equipment. But not well
trained to integrate it into a battle who are not particularly well
disciplined, not particularly well led. And because we don`t know how
these troops are controlled at the lowest possible level what the rules of
engagement are. You can very easily see how this can be -- this tragedy
could unfold simply because people aren`t smart enough to be able to
control their own troops. And when you put sophisticated equipment in the
hands of people who can just barely use it but can`t integrate it into any
kind of battlefield operation, this is the kind of thing that happens. And
it`s liable, if not likely to happen again which is why the United States,
western countries said don`t fly over this area.
SHARPTON: Greg, let me ask you. Will they try to reconstruct this plane,
put it back together to determine where it was hit? I mean, how will they
proceed in the investigation?
FEITH: I think they are only going to put the airplane back together again
as far as a reconstruction is concerned enough to give them a level of
confidence as to what type of explosive -- as the colonel talked about,
this warhead didn`t necessarily need to strike the aircraft. It could have
been detonated in close proximity. So they may want to understand exactly
what part of the aircraft, the missile, had affected the most which
rendered it incapacitated.
But again, the physical evidence, especially the remnants of that missile,
as the colonel described earlier, they are going to want to find those
remnants only to see if they can backtrack exactly whose missile it was to
determine the origin.
SHARPTON: Nina, let me go back to you in terms of Russia and the rebels.
I mean, are they rebels under Russian control? Are they getting missiles
from Russia? I mean, how close are the Russians controlling the rebels or
are the rebels now outside of Russian control if they ever were?
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, they were under Russian control and probably more so
early on. Because I think in earlier parts of the crisis, Vladimir Putin
didn`t decide -- let me put it this way. He hasn`t decided yet how he`s
going to play out the situation with the rebels in Ukraine. So they were
certainly either controlled or assisted. And there was always hope for
them that Russia may take them under its wing exactly the way Russia did
take Crimea in March.
But it became increasingly clear that Putin wasn`t going to take over
(INAUDIBLE) and their surrounding regions. In fact, there were calls for
Putin being a traitor from the (INAUDIBLE) at all. And I think it
escalated back because it seemed Putin was sort of backing away from the
conflict and trying to blame it on the Ukrainian government saying well,
you need to negotiate with the rebels. I have nothing to do with that.
But after this person, one person was killed on the Russian side, I think
that somehow really gave another -- put more air into those rebels` wings
and also probably made Russia much more concerned about its fight with
Ukraine that Putin didn`t want to have a military one. But now it`s
escalated as of Sunday. And I think that`s where we are at.
SHARPTON: Now Putin said, Nina, that this would not have are happened had
there been peace in the area. Not directly blaming Ukraine for the
shooting down of the plane, but saying they caused the overall atmosphere
and therefore they are responsible for what`s happening.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, and this is Putin`s trademark. He`s basically standing
as if he`s not involved in any of this, as if he didn`t start any of this.
In fact, in November, when he convinced Russia -- convinced -- sorry, then
Ukraine`s president to cancel the association agreement with the European
union and go with Russia. So he`s directly responsible for any of this
regardless of how much ordering he`s giving to those rebels and Ukraine or
So this is a very Putin thing to do, to step back and say, well, this is
Ukraine`s problem. We, as a great Russia should held them. And once
again, I think it is very telling that he was from all the leaders he was
the last one, in fact, to speak. Barack Obama spoke to the people.
President Poroshenko spoke, the Ukrainian president. And Putin was the
last one to speak and said actually that he would assist in the
investigation. So I wouldn`t be -- you know, I wouldn`t be holding my
breath thinking that Putin is going to in tie and helpful for this
investigation. Because he is trying -- he will try to take it to his own
SHARPTON: All right, Nina Khrushcheva, and Greg Feith, thank you both for
your are time tonight.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Jack Jacobs, please stay with me.
Coming up, if the Malaysia flight was shot down it would be the first time
a military strike brought down a civilian airliner. President Obama speaks
about the tragedy. What will this mean for his foreign policy in the
region? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: NBC News reporting tonight the Malaysian plane was shot down
with a missile, something we have seen happen before. In 1983 a Korean
airline flight was shot down by a soviet fighter jet after it strayed into
Russian air space. It crashed into the ocean, killing 269 people on board.
In fact, shooting down civilian planes happens with disturbing frequency in
this part of the world.
In 1993 separatist rebels used missiles to shoot down three separate planes
in the former soviet Republic of Georgia.
And in 2001, the Ukrainian military accidentally shot down a Russian
airplane over the Black Sea. That`s the history behind today`s tragedy.
Coming up, the challenge for the Obama administration. What should the
President do in response? How will it affect U.S. relations with Russia?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: It looks like it may be a terrible
tragedy. Right now we are working to determine whether there were American
citizens on board. That is our first priority. And I directed my national
security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The
United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what
happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all
the families of the passengers wherever they call home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: President Obama today offering assistance to the Ukrainian
government. Since the start of the crisis in February, President Obama has
warned President Putin against any military intervention in Ukraine. Many
Republicans have called for a stronger response warning military force.
Some even attacking the President as weak and blaming him for the crisis.
Just yesterday he placed new sanctions on Russia. He has clearly not
wanted to get involved in overseas conflicts. But today, will this tragedy
Joining me now from the White House is NBC News White House correspondent
Kristen Welker. Kristen, good evening. And tell us, what`s the latest?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have some
breaking news at this hour, Reverend Al. I can tell you that President
Obama, who is in New York right now attending two fundraisers upon arriving
in New York placed a phone call to his national security team. He also
called Secretary of State John Kerry. In both phone of those calls he
discussed the tragedy of the downed Malaysian Airlines flight. And in
speaking with his national security team he said that the goal right now is
to get international investigators to Ukraine, to the region to help out in
the investigation as quickly as possible.
And Vice President Joe Biden earlier today said that Ukraine had accepted
the U.S.`s offer for help in its investigation. And he said that those
international investigators are ready to move immediately. And now,
President Obama, again, when he spoke from Delaware earlier today, you just
heard him say that the top priority is determining whether there were, in
fact, Americans on board that flight.
WELKER: I can tell you that behind the scenes here at the White House,
senior administration officials have been working urgently to try to
determine that very fact, to figure out if there were Americans on board.
As you pointed out this comes just a day after President Obama announced
the stiffest sanctions yet against Russia for ramping up the crisis in
Ukraine. Senior administration officials say that Russia has escalated the
crisis in part by providing more heavy arms to the separatists.
And there is deep concern on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue at this hour
that this could be the work of Russian separatists. And I emphasize that
because of course they don`t know who is responsible for bringing down this
plane. But lawmakers on Capitol Hill expressing concern including
Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein who said if this is the work of
separatists, if there is any link to Russia, that would be incredibly
concerning and would clearly add new tensions to an already incredibly
fraught situation between the United States and Russia, Rev.
SHARPTON: Well, Kristen Welker, we thank you for your time tonight. And
certainly this is a great tragedy.
SHARPTON: And we are certainly also concerned to find if any Americans
were on board. Now I would like to bring in the Washington Post`s E.J.
Dionne and Janine Davidson, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign
Relations. Thank you both for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be here, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Janine, how could today`s news affect the American policy?
JANINE DAVIDSON, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, I think the first
thing we have to figure out is how this happened. I mean, all signs --
probably a miscalculation. Now, that doesn`t mean -- it could be the
Russian separatists. It could be, you know, we aren`t quite sure. We`ll
find out. But even if it is the Russian separatists, even if it is, it
seems like it could still have been a miscalculation. And that`s important
to understand. It doesn`t seem like there is much motive to want to shoot
down an airliner. If they thought it was a military transport plane, you
know, you know, that was probably what would have been happening.
And so I think the first order of business is figuring out what happened
and why. Will it change the order? It could. It could very well. I
mean, I think, it`s important to understand that just yesterday we
announced a new level of sanctions that are definitely going to bite. And
so, my sense is that the President will want to know what`s happening, know
how this happened, see what the level of sanctions pressures are and then
to see whether or not even, you know, the degree to which Vladimir Putin
has control over the people who will turn out to be responsible.
SHARPTON: E.J., you know the President has been walking a tight rope on
this issue. What might have changed in President Obama`s foreign policy
DIONNE: Well, I think that he has to pursue toughness and restraint at the
same time. As Janine said, we`ve got to be very clear on what happened
before we know exactly what to do. But I think what may have changed is
that it may be easier to get the Europeans involved in even tougher
measures against Russia. Let`s assume, and we don`t know everything yet.
But let`s assume that this was the rebels in the Ukraine using Russian-
provided weapons. That is a huge problem.
Hillary Clinton just a little while ago was on Charlie Rose`s show and
said, Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this. So, there
should be outrage in European capitals. The Sun, the Murdoch tabloid has
its headline on tomorrow`s paper in London, "Putin`s Missile." And I think
certainly ratcheting up the sanctions on Russia is a real possibility.
Putin`s got to take some responsibility for arming the rebels, even if --
and Janine may well be right -- that this was an accident. This is not the
kind of accident that ought to happen.
SHARPTON: But Janine, when we hear what E.J. is saying that Mrs. Clinton
said, the President has been asking Europe to get involved. And they have
been very reluctant to do so thus far. Does this put added pressure on
this? Will it change things in Europe?
DAVIDSON: I think E.J. is absolutely right. I mean, when you look at
what`s been happening in Europe, you have the Eastern Europeans who have
been very, very worried and critical in asking for help. And we have
indeed, NATO has reinforced, the stance in Poland and in the Black Sea, and
Romanian. And that`s all very good. Meanwhile, the Western Europeans have
been sort of like, yes, this is going to be tough for us economically.
We`re not quite sure.
And this has been really, really hard for the Obama administration. Now I
think what we`re learning, I mean, if this tragedy says anything, it says,
look, war zones are dangerous places. And this is happening right in our
backyard. It`s about a three-hour flight from where we all live. And
something has to happen. We have to resolve this conflict. So, I
definitely think it gives the Obama administration a little more leverage
to get the Europeans on board.
SHARPTON: You know, E.J., you have covered a lot of presidents. And
clearly this President has a confluence of foreign affairs issues on his
plate. Every president has a full plate. But there is a real confluence
of issues here.
DIONNE: No, I mean, I think he has about four or five plates in front of
him. When you heard people talking today. You weren`t clear whether they
were talking about what was happening in Gaza or what was happening in
Ukraine. Meanwhile there were negotiations with the Iranians. I mean,
this is a very messy time. And I think the President -- you know, I think
the President has pursued reasonable policies in these places, as you and
Janine said, he has been trying to get the Europeans to be tougher on
Putin. But I think he ought to use this as an opportunity to present to
kind of represent to the world his foreign policy and the underlying
toughness that he has here.
There are things we can do and things we can`t do. A lot of this conflict
is not Obama`s fault. And I really hope that we don`t go really political
on day one and start blaming people for the strike. No American politician
fired a missile at that plane. But I think the President can use this to
say, look, here is what I`m doing. He gave a foreign policy speech earlier
this year. I think he could really use another one to sort to give general
tragedy to what I`m trying to do to sort of keep this chaos in the world
from really harming us and to try to bring some order here.
SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne and Janine Davidson from the Council of Foreign
Relations, thank you for your time tonight.
DIONNE: Good to be with you, Reverend.
DAVIDSON: My pleasure, thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, a live report from the Pentagon. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: NBC News reporting tonight the Malaysian plane was shot down
with a surface-to-air missile. But who fired it?
Joining me now is NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski.
Jim, what can you tell us tonight?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC NEWS CHIEF PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you are
exactly right. U.S. officials are still pouring over all the intelligence
to try to figure out exactly who was it that fired the shot that brought
down that Malaysian airliner. Were they Ukrainian separatists or were they
the Russian military? But no matter who pulled the trigger it was still a
Russian weapon. U.S. spy satellites detected some heat signatures,
infrared satellites that detect things like explosions or missile launches.
So, they detected the first launch of this SAM, a surface-to-air missile.
And then the subsequent impact when it exploded as it heat the airplane.
And so, they have been working on that theory all day long. But again,
they are still trying to figure out exactly who fired the shot. And
earlier this week, there was a Russian cargo plane that was brought down in
Ukraine by a similar missile system. And that is really what contributed
in part to President Obama`s decision to clamp down and impose even tougher
sanctions against the Russians just yesterday.
SHARPTON: Well, Jim, thank you, this is very interesting. Thank you for
your time tonight.
Joining me now is MSNBC`s law enforcement analyst Jim Cavanaugh. Jim, from
a law enforcement perspective, how do they go about investigating on the
ground what happened?
JIM CAVANAUGH, NBC NEWS LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Reverend, just like
any criminal investigation or big investigation of a downed airplane you
want to get to the scene. The debris holds a lot of forensic answers. But
I would just caution, you know, you`re not going to get many answers that
we normally think about because, you know, a missile shot it down. So,
there were no answers on the plane on board the aircraft, in the possession
of passengers, terrorists, or an accidental cause.
The answers are on the ground at this SAM missile launch site. And like
Mick just reported from the Pentagon, our intelligence agencies and
satellite agencies know and picked up the heat signature. So, what you`ve
got to understand, we pick up the heat signature, we know the exact GPS
location of that heat signature. So, what we do know based on what Mick
just reported is we know whether that was in Ukrainian territory or that
was in the country of Russia. So, we know that because they know where are
the signature is.
SHARPTON: Jim Cavanaugh, I want you stay right there. We have much more
coming up with you and our panel. Stay with us. We`ll be right back with
more on our breaking news. What will happen on the ground in Ukraine over
the next 24 hours?
SHARPTON: It`s now nearly 3 a.m. in Ukraine, what will we see in the
ground in the morning? That`s next.
SHARPTON: Back now with my panel, Colonel Jack Jacobs, Jay Rollins and Jim
Cavanaugh. Let me go to you first, Jim. What`s next? What can we expect
to know by the time we awaken in the morning?
CAVANAUGH: Well, I think you are going to see what your feed is showing
there Reverend Al. That there`s a public safety officials certainly from
Ukraine on the scene. But the area is still reportedly is in control by,
you know, pro-Russian rebels. The colonel can speak to that extensively.
But I think they will recover pieces of the plane and probably evidence
that it was struck by the missile. But I think we should be reasonable to
ourselves that there is not going to be any great criminal forensic answers
on the plane if it was struck by a surface-to-air missile from a vehicle,
you know, in the hands of either Russian military or pro-Russian rebels.
So, the answer is going to lie really on the ground, the satellite images
and what the diplomats can arrange with Russia. And just as a final
thought, Reverend Al, you know, I think the White House has been very cool
on this and that`s what it needed. And, you know, direct talks with the
Russian president. And, you know, get those missile batteries back across
and at least in the hands of the Russian military and the colonel, I think,
could comment well on that as well.
SHARPTON: Colonel, let me ask you this. Even if the Russians didn`t shoot
it down directly, we have heard that they supplied weapons. How important
will that be going forward?
COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it`s very important to
everybody. The rest of the world. But you know, Putin is tone deaf. He`s
got 65 percent of his population support just about everything he does. He
doesn`t care very are much, evidently, about what the rest of the world
thinks about him. And evidently so far he`s impervious to any of the
economic constraints we placed on him. I can`t imagine that he`s going to
act in a responsible kind of way. I don`t think you will going to get very
much support from the Russians in investigating this. I think it is
unlikely he`s going to try to pull back any of this weapon and put them
under the control of the Russian army and leave the rebels without any
In short, I don`t think that very much is going to change from the Russian
standpoint and that`s going to be very unsatisfactory to the west.
Somebody earlier made an interesting point. It may have been Nina
Khruscheva who said that what this may wind up doing is invigorating the
Europeans who so far have been very lukewarm to restrictions to be placed
on Russia. It may get them all fired up to participate with the United
States in stronger constraints on the Russian economy. But, you know, the
Europeans have very strong economic ties to Russia, particularly in fossil
fuels. They`ve got long-term oil and gas contracts and so on. And despite
the fact that we really wish the Europeans would get serious about putting
some restrictions on the Russians. Unfortunately, I don`t think you will
going to see much of it.
SHARPTON: Jay Rollins you have been a pilot a long time. And this is
heart wrenching to look at that these pictures. But you, as a pilot who
has flown all over the world, this must really even affect you even more
JAY ROLLINS, U.S. NAVAL AVIATOR (RET.): Well, it`s a great tragedy,
Reverend Al. And unfortunately when you lose 295 innocent people that
didn`t even see it coming, it is an extreme tragedy. And I do believe that
ICAO the International Civil Aviation Organization will be attempting to
get in there and investigate to try to determine what ought to be next.
You know, at some point there were discussions about equipping airliners
with anti-missile technology. But I don`t know if that will be the answer
in this case. They did talked about that when the shoulder missiles were
becoming popular. But it`s a very big problem. And I`m sure that most
carriers will be ending all travel in the area now.
SHARPTON: What are the investigators asking tonight, Jim Cavanaugh?
CAVANAUGH: Well, they are trying to build on the information Reverend Al
that the government has publicly provided that it was a missile launch.
So, if they can get to the scene they will going to want to look at that
airframe, a fuselage, you know, the damage, blast evidence that might have
struck the aircraft. The black boxes which seem to be from public reports
in the hands of pro-Russian separatists, I doubt that if we`re going to see
those. They will be taken by the Russians and will never be released, so.
And not that there would be necessarily anything on them anyway. Because
if the missile struck the airplane and, you know, there wouldn`t be much on
the black box anyway.
SHARPTON: We don`t know what happened yet, Colonel. But whatever happened
is so despicable and unthinkable in the 21st Century. Innocent people like
this. And it`s a tragedy -- it`s a tragedy beyond words. I want to thank
Thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Transcription Copyright 2014 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
MORE FROM POLITICSNATION
Add PoliticsNation headlines to your news reader: