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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  August 18, 2021 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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in antibody tetors when you do the a third dose. >> that is tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. good evening. racing to put out the firestorm ignited by the debacle from afghanistan. the president told abc news that the military mission to get americans out of country, taliban permitting, could extend past august 31st. >> all troops are supposed to be out by august 31st. even if americans and our allies are trying to get out. they'll leave? >> we're going to do everything we can to get all americans out and our allies out. >> does that mean troops will
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stay beyond august 31st if necessary? >> depends on where we are and if we can ramp these numbers are to 5,000 to 7,000 a day coming out. if that's the case, they'll all be out. >> so americans should understand that troops might have to be there beyond august 31. >> no. americans should understand that we'll try to get it done before august 31st. >> if we don't -- >> if we don't, we'll determine at the time who is left. >> and? >> and if there's american citizens left, we're going to stay and get them all out. >> situation on the ground in afghanistan remained tense as the taliban now dig in and assert control over their country. our veteran chief veteran correspondent richard engel is in kabul again for us tonight. >> reporter: the u.s., did led evacuation is finally moving quickly and movingly from the military side of kabul airport. planes arriving and departing
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around the clock. it's a far cry from the bedlam monday when thousands of afghans broke into the airport, so desperate to escape the taliban. they clung on to the departing aircraft. now more american troops have been brought in for security. today, we watched troops get ready for a patrol. they're relaxed. they may be doing this for several more days and weeks. up to 15,000 americans remain in afghanistan along with tens of thousands of afghan who's may be eligible for asylum. this afternoon we saw hundreds of afghans being processed, waiting to start new but still uncertain lives. this base is much more orderly, much more secure. the biggest problem is getting here. because outside the perimeter, the taliban are in control. tuesday military asked them to keep back the crowds. the ban are doing it their way. firing in the air, sometimes
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beating afghans who try to approach. in jalalabad, afghans demonstrated carrying the flag saying it represents they will. not the taliban flag. they opened fire killing at least three demonstrators. overnight, afghanistan's new presumptive leader arrived in the country moving through taliban's strong hold city. he was deputy leader of the taliban when it hosted and protected osama bin laden while he plotted 9/11. former secretary of state mike pompeo signed a peace deal with him under president trump. a deal president biden implemented, rapidly pulling out american troops, triggering the rapid collapse of the afghan army and the taliban takeover. nbc news, kabul. >> meanwhile, president biden in that interview with abc news continues to defend his handling
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of the withdrawal from afghanistan, arguing, there was no way to pull out without risking turmoil. >> so you don't think this could have been handled better in any way? no mistakes? >> no. i don't think it could have been handled, we'll go back and look but the idea that somehow there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, i don't know how that happens. >> so for you that was always priced into the decision? >> yes. >> earlier today, secretary of defense retired general lloyd austin and joint chiefs of staff chairman general mark milley, two men who frng afghanistan also defended our drawdown strategy. general milley said this about u.s. intelligence leading up to the collapse of afghanistan. >> the intelligence clearly indicated multiple scenarios where possible.
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one of those was an outright taliban takeover following a rapid collapse of the afghan security forces in the government. another was a civil war. and a third was a negotiated settlement. however, the time frame of a rapid collapse, that was widely estimated and ranged from weeks to months and even years following our departure. there was nothing that i or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days. >> now, congressional leaders are asking the white house for a briefing for the so-called gang of eight. the top leadership. and some are already planning investigations of what went down here and why. this was also the day word came out to the public about a third
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booster. anyone with a moderna or pfizer vaccine can get a third one eight months later. three studies showing decline in our immunity rates against the virus persuaded them to make this move toward boosters, although fda has yet to sign off on it. meanwhile, an israeli study shows pfizer's booster can improve immune ages 60 and older. they're also reviewing date on people who received the one and done johnson & johnson vaccine. >> right now, the fda is now looking at the j&j, the approval, the eua, and how that would fit in. we're not forgetting at all about the people with j&j. >> president biden also escalated over school mandates today. the president said he directed the education department to use
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all means necessary to help local officials enact those measures. well, with that, let's introduce the starting line on this wednesday night. the national political correspondent for the "new york times." retired four star u.s. army general barry mccaffrey, decorated veteran of vietnam. former cabinet member, former member of the national security council, and the founding director of columbia university's national center for disaster prepareness. he advises us on public else. also a professor of pediatrics at the albert einstein college of medicine. given the topic at hand, i would like the begin. but 15,000 americans left in afghanistan. what do you make. president's comments of staying beyond 31 august, if necessary. and i don't mean this any way but seriously, are we asking the
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taliban or telling the taliban about getting the people through the cordons to the airport? >> you went right to the heart of the matter. i was shocked at president biden. i've had more experience. i got provoked into that answer about staying beyond 31 august, if we have to get the americans out. we do not want to be putting down red lines in public. chris donahue who is now going in as a direct negotiator to the taliban military get through these things. it could possibly be that the majority of americans will be out by 31 august. it sounds highly unlikely that 18,000 interim rhetters and 20,000 commandos and 30,000 people who work for the u.s. directly, and ngo's, would all get out with their families and prior to the end of the month. this is something, that air
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field is now strongly defended. nobody but nobody is taking on, training marines and paratroopers, but they can close down the interdisk. we won't expand the foot print. we need to talk privately to the taliban. we're going to get out of there without fighting and get out of there with all the americans and as many afghans as we can feasibly transport. >> lisa, this biden administration is getting dragged and roasted in ways and with severity that they are not used to. visually, people point to the big mistake over this past weekend. and that was showing the president all alone at the conference table at camp david, while the world seemingly melted around him. he was on video link with among other people, the vice
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president, the pentagon, and places around the world. but it was reminiscent of that photo of donald trump signing a blank piece of payment at walter reid during his hospitalization. let's talk about the communication shop. politico is reporting tonight, they're going to adjust their communication strategy and make it more in line with, you'll forgive me, but this botched evacuation that we're all witnessing. >> that's exactly right. the initial approach was to change the time frame of what they were talking about here and get people to focus on the 20-year time frame. something generally americans are supportive of. most american don't want to remain in afghanistan. rather than the somewhat disastrous four or five days. that has been very unsuccessful and i suspect that president's comments in the interview that he always anticipated this chotwick drawl is not going to help.
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his public statements in april and july where he talks about a secure and orderly transition, that the taliban takeover was inevitable, don't comport with that argument. and i don't think it will do much to mollify his critics within his own party. multiple congressional committees, i believe we're up to four, are talking about looking into how this came to be. and the administration recognizes that they need to really bolster their communications outreach and how they're handling the situation. they're making a lot of calls, private call to allies. abroad and at home and i think we'll see a much more aggressive push going forward. the question is whether this is something at this point that can be particularly undone with just communications. it seems like congress is on a track to dig into this and they will have to be ready for those hearings potentially.
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>> doctor, over to you. i've been eager to get you on the record on the topic of booster shots. does eight months seem about right to you as a public health physician? what do the people watching tonight need to know? >> yeah. so let me try to unpack that. before i do, let me say that this unbelievable catastrophic military and political crisis in afghanistan is not without its public health ramifications as well. one way or another, this will get solved and we'll be leaving behind an unbelievable crisis. specially for the girls and women. 15 million of them. in afghanistan once the taliban tully takes over. to get to your question, i think this question of a booster shot has been a little whip sawing. last being i was on the air talking about how only people
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who are immunocompromised should be getting a booster shot or a third shot if they've gotten the moderna or five versions. today, i was on a briefing call with the white house earlier. now we're moving to a different agenda which has to do with the race between the virus and the vaccine. and with delta, we are going to see an increasingly immune response. what the government is trying to do is anticipate a period of time roughly eight months after your last shot, when your immune levels from the vaccine may be, and i say may be diminished enough to leave you more vulnerable. in the meantime, no one is questioning the fact all the vaccines currently available in the u.s. are able to protect against hospitalizations and
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death. maybe diminishing prospects of protecting against an infection or even contagious infections. in the meantime, i think the government is trying to get ahead of the curve and be ready to administer third shots as needed. >> general, back over to you. first of all, when we hear from an expert like the doctor who is refocusing our attention to include the rolling public health crisis that we are witnessing in afghanistan, that gets our attention. for our viewers, tell people about the kind of leadership they can expect. you have nope secretary austin for a long time. they've known afghanistan for a long time and you invoked his name earlier. talk to us about the general of
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the 82nd airborne. >> right. and what they can do is talk to the taliban fight here are now ringing the evacuation airfield. he is a remarkable, eerily talented officer. i've known him for years, national security studies, as a young guy, they made him the personal assistant secretary of defense. he knows afghanistan and he knows the mores and customs. so i think that's a real plus. i think the air field operation will work just fine. what won't work just fine is the siv's or other categories through taliban perimeter. we had a u.s. embassy there with 4,000 people in it and they couldn't process these siv's for over a 84. now there is a handful of them,
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they're trying to sort it out. so that's going to be a problem. the focus has to be, get the americans out. get the nato civilians, the ngo's, and then see who else we pick up. this will go on for two, three, five years. they'll be coming out to iran, pakistan, central asia republics, then we can hopefully get them back into the u.s. the taliban hold all the cards. i'm sort of empathetic to the governor's challenge. when biden ordered a drawdown, 2500 troops. it is hard to imagine with all the americans and the interpreters, we're going on sneak you out of here because we think it will collapse. and i don't think anybody understood it would go under this quickly. the political surrender from village level all the way to the
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ghani government. >> lisa, back to you and your beat. is it us or does biden suddenly seem more defiant on the virus and vaccinations? being more direct, at least, taking on these republican governors who are endangering lives by one way of looking at it to stay on brand? >> he is remarkably defiant on both issues. we saw it today. this direct blaming of republican and republican governors really marks a shift for the white house. at the beginning, biden entered office with a lot of talk about building bridges and bipartisanship and the administration was very reluctant to directly blame republicans for the vaccination rates. clearly that has changed and you see him going directly at people like governor ron desantis in
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florida. in part, that's because the administration is hoping to continue pressuring private businesses is local jurisdictions to increase mask requirements, vaccination rates, rather than having to impose their own mandates. it is also a slightly easier approach. they aren't in the thornier political position of with holding funding from states completely, or with holding funding from school districts that say don't impose a mask mandate. something that could put them crosswise with other interests, like the teacher's union which has been a strong ally. in some way, they are more of a target but there is some truth when you look at hospitalization rates and all of that. so it is both a political approach and a bit of a policy
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approach. >> doctor, last word goes to you. what are your logistic concerns about getting shot number 3 in arms, and i'm guessing, you hope that by example, the anti-vax communities will see people getting their third and wonder, perhaps again, whether or not they ought to get their first. >> well, one would hope, but i don't know. i think the administration was caught off guard by the strength of the anti-vaxxers' resistance. and secondly, by this extraordinary combination of breath taking ignorance and incredible craven politics. opportunistic politics, expressed by governors in texas, in florida and elsewhere. and i don't know what will have to happen to make these people yield to science and to the objective capability that we need to have in order to get
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this pandemic under control. it is calling for a strategy that we haven't really considered. the more pressure that president biden could put on these governors who rout of control and helping us lose the fight against the pandemic, the better. and i think he should up the amps on these strategies and keep pushing this as hard and as often as he can in my opinion. >> hard to believe but that is where we are. we could not have had three better guests to start this discussion. we're so appreciative of our starting lineup tonight. coming up, more from the president on the collapse of afghanistan as this white house again faces criticisms from both sides of the aisle. and later, republican governors, texas, florida, tennessee, arizona, all trying to keep masks off the faces of kids in the classroom. how the white house plans to further push back.
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investigations on the chaotic withdrawal and intelligence failures will keep afghanistan front and center in the coming months as the administration tries to pass biden's economic agenda. remember, they're talking about fellow democrats here. back with us tonight, eugene robinson and mike murphy, strategist for the center for political future at the university of southern california. short answer, they have discovered one. he is also co-host of the hacks on tap podcast. gentlemen, good evening. and eugene, i would like to begin with you by reading a quote from our mutual friend, matthew dowd. he writes this. the response by the gop and so many democrats in d.c. to events in afghanistan underlines what i have been saying for years. gop feel no shame. democrats feel shame way too quick liflt biden is right in
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what he is doing. support him vigorously. eugene, what do you make of that sentiment? >> well, i think his line about republicans feeling no shame and democrats feeling shame too quickly is certainly right. we've seen it time and time again. and i think there's a bottom line question. do you or do you not think it was time for the united states to leave afghanistan after 20 years? should we have stayed or should we have left? if you think we should have stayed, don't have to say for how much longer. but if you think we should have stayed, then maybe you have a point to make. if you agree with the basic premise that we should have left, then i think president biden, maybe he sounds defensive, maybe he sounds self-justifying but i think he's right. i think there's no graceful way to lose this war.
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there is no graceful way, nonchaotic way to leave afghanistan. you don't sneak 15,000 americans and untold tens of thousands of afghan collaborators out of the country without anybody noticing. without that having an impact. you don't, the taliban was stronger than it had been in 20 years, and it is very clear that the afghan army, i know they fought and a lot of them died defending their idea of afghanistan. in the end, they were a paper tiger and they collapsed and this is the result. that's the basic question. do you think we should have left or not? >> indeed, he is energized on this point and said tonight, this wasn't joe biden abandoning our friends and allies. they were abandoned by their
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government. the leadership in afghanistan. hell, the president got on a plane and left the country behind and maybe someday, we can ask him about that if we find him in the south of france. i got one for you though. what in your view looked worse? the sacking of our own capital by our own people or the botched evacuation from afghanistan? >> well, that's a close one. i would have to say the sacking of our own capitol. you have to go back to the red coats for that. make no mistake. this is a disaster in afghanistan and there's been a tremendous amount of damage. my friend matthew was debating the song the white house wants to sing, in the big picture, it was time to leave afghanistan and most people agree. what biden owns and doesn't want
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to take response for. at least is doing it reluctantly, is that it is on his watch as we left afghanistan. i believe and i think a lot of national security people do. if the 6,000 troops we have there now holding that airport, really, holding the runway at the airport had been there earlier, the taliban would have slowed the advance. i think that's what the white house thought would happen with all this faulty intelligence. now we're all leading the leaks from the intelligence saying, wait a minute. we knew it was this scenario and biden didn't want to listen. so you can debate the big picture. he owns this and this is bad. parenthetically, the europeans are hopping mad. the way it was conducted and the way they were briefed and warned was nonexistent. it was a mistake which is the last thing people were expecting from joe biden who ran as someone with great experience in
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this area. >> as i've tried to point out. we had a great airport, it was called bagram air base. we shut it down and now we're at the mercy of this one metropolitan airport and its one runway. one way in and one way out at the mercy of the taliban. to our viewers. both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. we'll fit in a break. coming up, when we continue our conversation. how the president and some school districts are fighting back against some anti-masker, duly elected american governors when we come back. n governors whene wcome back. [grunts] ♪ ♪ [grunts] pnc bank believes that if a pair of goggles can help your backhand get better... yeah! ...then your bank should help you budget even better. (laughing) virtual wallet® is so much more than a checking account. its low cash mode feature gives you at least 24 hours of extra time to help you avoid an overdraft fee. you see that? virtual wallet® with
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politicians want to force you to cover their base. one thing i will say taking this on, even though it is not proven to be effective. they want you to do it. >> not proven to be effective. the governor mock mask wearing. the president vowing to use the power of the federal government whenever, wherever he can to counteract these anti-mask mandates. as we said, he's ordered the secretary of education to help him get it done. still with us, eugene robinson
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and mike murphy. as the doctor put it, so craven. so ghoulish. i know i have asked you various forms of this before. when did it become on brand for republican governors to cast aside any seeming custodial function in their states? and push policies that promote illness and can cause death, all to earn thor of the base of a twice impeached retired politician in florida? >> well, i'll start with the weasely footnote to say not all republican governors have gone down the crazy path. even asa hutchison. it is not all this bad but desantis is now the drum major for super spreading. clearly bill nyi the science guy
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doesn't have to worry about losing his job. governor of florida who just thinks being a militant on this is a fast path to the republican presidential nominee. i think he's making a mistake. i think he is making it too simple. he ought to keep an eye on his re-electricity in florida where he is slightly behind in the polls to two different opponents. so i think it is shrewd for biden politically to tike this with the political weapon of, you want to close the schools? do you want to own that? that's what most people are most afraid of. when schools close, people can't to go work and the economy tanks. so you know, desantis is making a big bet but i'm not sure it is a smart one. and he has trump looking at it. you at any time want to lose the bet but you didn't want to win too big, you would get shot. you get a little publicity.
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we see how it works out. i wouldn't go long on it. >> i'm going to read you what governor abbott tweeted today. and i'll see mike's weasely footnote and raise him one. governorability, by the way, has covid. he goes after -- joe biden goes after republican governors tougher than he does the taliban. he wants to take dubious legal action against republican governors, but he won't end force the immigration laws passed by congress. this is just a public service. i'm not sure you knew this was about immigration. >> yeah, right. exactly. he should just shut up at this point. he has covid. i hope he's fine. i hope he doesn't have symptoms. if he does, i hope they're mild. if they're not mild, i hope he recovers. but he has availed himself of at
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least two vaccines, some reports are that he's had a third and he's been given regeneron. his office said the treatment that is not universally available but it was available to him. and so, yeah, he will be just fine. and meanwhile, he is trying his best to keep schools and businesses and everybody else from simply requiring masks which will keep other people who don't have the ability to avail themselves of all these multiple treatments. they're just trying to keep people safe. and he won't allow it. again for political reasons. it is shocking and at this point, there's very little that shocks in our politics. but abbott is really shocking. it is like he's in a race to the bottom desantis.
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as i said on this show, i don't think there's an absolute bottom but there is that direction. and i think abbott nudged ahead of desantis this week in terms of where he's headed. >> yeah. if this isn't rock bottom, it will do until he gets here. i was not expecting joe stalin to make a cameo appearance but there you go. two long time friends of this broadcast. thank you both for hanging out. coming up, a former u.s. intelligence official here to talk about just how it is that afghanistan fell so far so fast to those guys. fast to those guys.
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across afghanistan with lightning speed, the cia warned that the country could rapidly collapse. at least that's what we're being told now. earlier today, a senior u.s. intelligence official told nbc news, and we quote, we consistently identified the risk of a rapid collapse of the afghan government. this was less an issue of afghan military came builts and more a reflection of afghan leadership, cohesion and willpower. that that the afghan government unraveled even more quickly than we anticipated. indeed, as we mentioned earlier this hour, general milley said nothing he saw indicated the country would collapse in the space of 11 days. back with us, and for good reason, jeremy bash, the former chief of staff over at cia and the pentagon, and jeremy, any of your former colleagues think this would happen so quickly? and/or, are they surprised to
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see it now? >> well, first, i don't think anyone inside the intelligence community really believes that this was an intelligence failure. because for the last year and a half, the intelligence community has been warning that the taliban would take over afghanistan if the coalition left. in fact, in early april of this year, the intelligence community released the annual worldwide let the assessment just days before president biden made his announcement announcing the withdrawal. . in assessment they said the afghan government would struggle to keep the taliban at bay. well, boy, were they right. now, i think what's fair is that it is unclear at this hour whether or not the intelligence assessments presented the national security principles were specific as to the timing that kabul will fall. to be fair, an intelligence assess kmt get the big picture right. the afghan national security forces are weak. they will ultimately crumble.
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to get the timing right, 11 days or 11 weeks, is difficult. what you're fundamentally assessing is are the forces, not do they have the capability, the weapons, the size, but are they motivated? do they have courage and will? that's a very difficult thing for an american intelligence community to assess. now we see the main planning assumption that the biden restriction operated under, is that they would have several weeks to maintain an embassy, process visas and evacuate. that turned out to be not the proper planning assessment. and we see what has unfolded. >> they sure have a lot of ak's on the streets. some of the pictures coming out looks likes every grown male is carrying a weapon on the streets of kabul. let me ask you what's next for the 15,000 american souls, and many, many more thousands of afghanistan -- afghans who would like very much to get out of
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there. what is our leverage? how do we enforce our will? are we asking, as he asked general mccaffrey, are we asking the taliban or telling the taliban what we like and what we would expect to do? >> we're telling them. and it is backed by the force of the 82nd air borne. my hat goes off to the united states military. they were told, leave the country but don't leave too quickly. in fact, come back in forceful and i talked on a senior pentagon official and he said it has been a couple of chaotic days but thank good know, no american has been kill. they've managed to secure the airport. they evacuated in 48 hours, burning down all the documents and all the materials that had collected in that building for many, many years. they got over to the airport and they are now processing several hundred, maybe up to a thousand a day. they've had 6,000 people leave afghanistan. so if we're looking at a
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population of say, 30,000 people who were going to want to leave ultimately, that's several days, maybe several weeks worth of work. and i think the president was absolutely correct in his interview on abc to say that we will probably have to stay beyond august 31. he didn't want to telegraph it but i think that's our only option. that's what we should embrace. we've got troops there to do that and that is what u.s. policy should now be. >> who knows, maybe:00 renew the c-17 program for the what it is and has proven to be over there. it is our life line right now. jeremy bash, i can't thank you enough for bringing your expertise and taking our questions on tonight's broadcast. coming up, new evacuations in california as one wildfire grows eight time in size.
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so far, just this year, 1.3 million acres in california have burned. today another wildfire showed thatted in size. still not contained. the fire threatens many homes as thousands are on the run and forced to evacuate. our report from nbc news
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correspondent jake ward in grizzly flats, california. >> reporter: overnight the caldor fire just outside sacramento exploded. doubling in size. >> this area is extremely hard for to us get into. >> reporter: in california, some 31,000 residents are under evacuation orders. at least two civilians were injured which remains entirely uncontained. >> we are seeing generational destruction of forests because of what these fires are doing. this will take a long time to come back from. >> reporter: gusty winds and dry drought conditions creating a dangerous situation. destroying numerous homes and property. this classroom used to among to the elementary school students in this small town. it is a remind per wildfires don't just touchdown in remote areas. increasingly they are sweeping through our lives. residents racing to get out and make their way to safety. >> it is sad, what's happening. >> it is hurting my heart right
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now. as i'm driving up here, this is the last time i'll ever see this area, it will be a heart break. >> reporter: these satellite photos from space show the ash raining down. in nevada, firefighters face another difficult night ahead. >> indeed they do. our thanks to jake ward for that report from the field in california tonight. coming up for us, remembering a man who told the stories of those unable to speak for themselves.
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last thing before we go tonight, we mourn the death of a giant named joe galloway. joe was quite simfully ernie pyle of the vietnam war. he was a war correspondent who covered combat at ground level and alongside the men he grew to love. he routinely referred to himself as a noncombatant but more than once when it was do or die, he was hand ad weapon and he used it. he was born sue a military family in texas and as a young 24-year-old journalist for united press international, he arrived in vietnam where he covered the first major engagement with the north vietnamese. the battle in 1965. it was a test of the new
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american military concept of air cavalry. it became a halacious ground fight. when the brutality was over, 499 blerns killed, wounded or missing. the lieutenant colonel was the commanding officer. galloway and more lifelong friends, back in the u.s., later co-authored the book, we were soldiers once and young. easily one of the best accounts. vietnam war. it was later made into a feature film. galloway was portrayed by the actor barry pepper. years after the battle, joe galloway was awarded the bronze star for valor for disregarded his own safety to rescue two gi's after a napalm strike. he was the only civilian so decorated by the u.s. army in all of the vietnam war. joe was brave and direct. brutally honest and always modest. he was always all about the soldiers he covered on the
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battlefield. one side note here. for the cover of their book, joe and hal moore chose a photo of a brave platoon leader named rick riskerla. a natural leader, a silver star recipient who survived the battle. rick came home to the u.s., earned three college degrees, built a live for himself, became head of security for morgan stanley. he evacuated over 2,000 people from the world trade center on september 11th. where he was killed while heading tim stairwell when the building collapsed. so another way of putting it, a few days from now on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we'll be marking his death just as we remember the great joe galloway tonight. gone at the age of 79. that's our broadcast for this wednesday night with our thanks
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for being here with us on behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of nbc news. good night. >> thanks to you at home for joining us. we're gonna start tonight with a story, when i start to tell the story you are going to think that you know where it is going. you're gonna think that you know where it's going to end up. i'm telling you, you are wrong about that. this is an amazing story. it happened today. it does not end where you think it does. i don't mean this as a weird cable news tees. i'll just say, i believe it is my experience of having done this show for 13 plus years and knowing what matters to people en


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