tv Alex Witt Reports MSNBC August 28, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PDT
you from msnbc world headquarters in new york. welcome to "alex witt reports." we've got a remarkable day across the country as thousands are making sure their voices are heard. right now dozens of voting rights alleys and protests are happening in multiple cities in honor of the 58th anniversary of
martin luther king's "i have a dream" speech. it's happening from washington, d.c. to arizona. ralleygoers are forming a united front against restrictive voting laws and sending a strong message to capitol hill. >> what's happening today is just disgraceful, the way we're being treated, and them denying us our rights to vote, which is automatic. >> clearly the people want to vote, and the way they want to do it is without impediments. these restrictions are for that. why did dr. king and john lewis go to the federal voting rights act in '65? because it knocked out all of the state laws. we are doing the same thing today with the same fervor. it will not come from biden down, it will come from the people up and you're seeing that demonstrated all over the country today. >> we've got a number of reporters covering today's
rallies. we're going to start in dc where we're covering the national action network voting rights rally. another welcome to you this hour. what are you seeing there? >> reporter: alex, to hear reverend sharpton talking about the pressure will come from the people, you get that sense on the ground where tens of thousands of people were expected to pour into washington, d.c. from across down and from across the country. and throwing back to the original march almost 60 years ago, it was a march for jobs and freedom. it was more than voting rights or social equity. and even though the center of it is about voting rights, there have been a wide spectrum of people from unions, folks who are calling for more social equity, and they're here today to make that statement. i want to refer back to what i heard the reverend jessie jackson say a while ago around the fight, it's about street heat, creating pressure from the street up and the folks in dc are doing just that.
>> i thank you for that. i was having a little bit of a technical difficulty hearing you at the end. i got the gist of it. i appreciate that. let's move to josh lederman, also in washington, d.c. let's talk about the turnout there, josh. what are you seeing? >> reporter: we don't have official numbers yet, but we were trying to give our best estimate and we saw about 10,000 or so folks from mcpherson square to the national mall. there's one person who is not here today, but who is still looming large over the day's events, the late john lewis. not only because that piece of legislation is named after him that so many here today are championing, but also because of the tradition that john lewis forged of attending rallies, of marching, of making what he called good trouble, and forcing people to confront these issues. i want to introduce you to someone who came up from north carolina for this rally.
she actually met her husband about 50 years ago at a rally. did you think 50 years ago that in half a century you would still be attending rallies fighting for some of the same issues that you were fighting for back then? >> no, i did not. and i think it is very disappointing. but what i realize, we were dealing mostly with a moment, and a moment means that we just did something in terms of trying to get a quick fix. and now we realize we have to put a movement behind it and that's based on our demands. whoever is opposing our rights and our justice, they are now not for us. i view that, because we're given dog food, they expect for us to bark. and we put those demands and stay on them and let them know how important we are and how concerned we are about these issues, that's when we'll get them passed and it will be permanent. >> what do you hope happens as a
result of your participation and the participation of all of the thousands of people who are here today? >> everything we're fighting for, all the bills and rights in terms of our voting rights, in terms of george floyd's bill, in terms of dealing with the civil rights and issues, all of those are being passed, talking about students, whether we're talking about interaction with the people, all of those will be understood. we're talking about justice and the same, i'm paraphrasing, it's a term that you make that the people who are most in need get the most constructive assistance. that's what we're looking for. >> thank you so much for joining us. this is just one of many events taking place here in washington today. on the other side of the national mall from where i'm at right now at the lincoln memorial, there's another make good trouble rally and concert going on as the americans across the country and cities from coast to coast are out making their voices heard today on voting rights. >> all kinds of good trouble across this country today. thank you so much for that.
let's go out west once again to nbc's jacob soboroff al that rally in phoenix where it is over 110 degrees or so. thank you for standing outside in the sun. you had a lot of energy with folks there the last hour. talk about what they're doing. >> reporter: and i should say about the heat, it's a dry heat, as the folks say, out here, alex. they are rallying and i've heard talk about turnouts, about 450 strong. let me give you an idea of what they're doing and what it looks like. they call this thing the protect your power rally, march on for voting rights. i'm going to put my mask on and not rip it, alex. come on in. i've got to be real quiet. we're going to give a quick live look. come on inside. it says the floor is full, proceed to the balcony to the right. come on in. what you're looking at right now are activists up on the stage.
i'm talking in my golf voice now. they're talking about their efforts on fighting for the right to vote here. you can see that everybody is social distanced. every other seat is taken. let's go back outside. you get an idea -- come with me right now. do you have a second? >> come on outside. we've got an idea of what it looks like. now let's hear from one of the people behind it. come on out. tell me your name. >> alejandro chavez. >> i know you had a rally outside and it's going to be 109 degrees out here today. are you pleased with the turnout? >> it's fantastic. the first floor is full. we're sending people to the balcony, which is fantastic. you can see that people are here, signing petitions, pastor
mackey of the church gave a fiery speech, the whole room was up and cheering. it's fantastic that people are connecting, but not just listening to the messages, but connecting to each other. >> are there items that you want people to take once they come here, in addition to campaigning for the for the people act and john lewis rights act, what's happening on the ground in arizona that necessitates this rally as being one of the big ones across the nation? >> it's everybody, not just one. you can't just be about phoenix. every city, community, precinct, that's where these votes are being challenged. people can text pledge on to 89799 and join us and be able to get in the fight and do all the different actions we take. it's not just about one issue. this is about all issues. that's why it's so important, it addresses every single issue. >> good to see you. thanks again. congratulations on the turnout today. just to echo what he said, and don't quote me, but i believe it
was thomas payne who said voting is the right by which all other rights are protected. in the united states of america, it's a refrain you'll hear over and over again. it's one of the world's most famous democracies, so to speak, with the least voter turnout amidst industrialized nations in the world that changed during the 2020 election because of the ability to have access to the polls by mail-in ballots. what are the mechanisms by which to protect that right to vote and they're having their own conversation inside here at this church in phoenix. back to you. >> jacob soboroff, thank you so much. it's true, we all want to have our voices heard. you and i have the benefit of having a microphone when we're at work, but it really counts the most at the ballot box. thank you so much. let's bring in the naacp president, derrick johnson, also the chair of the congressional black caucus, representative joyce beaty of ohio. welcome to you both.
we're now live here on the show. i welcome you guys. let's talk to you, derrick, first, and the significance of these charges today. tell me why they are so important now. you may have heard the end of what i was just saying with jacob soboroff, but it's really about giving each individual person a voice. >> the marches, the rallies, demonstrations are the events between the work. this is a way we can get people energized. we started last week and we will continue until we get voter protections adopted for targeted states because we need 50 senators to do their jobs. the house has done their job. the president needs the bill on his desk and that can only happen once the senators do their job. protecting the right to vote isn't a partisan exercise, it's an exercise to protect our constitution. >> 100%. >> can i just say -- >> go ahead, ma'am, yes. >> president johnson said, it's
so true. the congressional black caucus, we've been fighting for this all our life. it didn't just start today. we're glad with the thousands and thousands and thousands of people who are out here, we did our job this week on the floor. every single democrat. pushed by the 57 members of the congressional black caucus, cast that vote for the john r. lewis voting advancement act. so today we're galvanizing people so we can take it to the streets. we can go to the communities. democrat and republican communities. we're not leaving anybody behind, because this is our future and we're fighting for democracy. >> let me ask you, ma'am, about the house passing the john lewis voting rights advancement act. we know that bill now faces quite the uphill battle in the senate. how challenging is it for you as a lawmaker to push for progress, but also have to fight for rights that have been taken away? >> well, it's a battle that
we're willing to be in and part of that is because we have the naacp with us. they have a long history of fighting for justice. they were there 58 years ago when on august 28th, in 1963, we were marching for justice. you know, they're in our back yard now. so those who aren't with us, we're going to remember that. and you have to remember, getting people registered to vote is what we did. black folks got president biden elected. we have jim clyburn working with us. we have the entire congressional black caucus. we're going to continue to do what we do. we fight and we win. >> let's talk about what's happening in texas, derek. that sweeping election overhaul bill, it's passed the texas house. it is head to do governor abbott's desk for his signature. how concerned are you that this can potentially disenfranchise any potential voters, especially in the state of texas? we look at the census and it's
becoming more diverse. >> what we're looking at is a 1950 play. many legislative bodes are trying to take us back in time. we have a system where voters elect officials to oversee governance, not elected officials selecting which voters they want to participate. and that's why it's so important for us to adopt voting protection to say roll back legislative bills like in georgia, in texas, and across the country, to ensure that the democracy we proclaim globally is a democracy we realize here at home. as we mem morm lies those soldiers who went to afghanistan to protect this notion of democracy, we must also protect that notion here. we are losing our global standing because you have a set of individuals who are trying to politicize the administration of voting, trying to limit those can participate for a partisan advantage. this is not about partisanship.
this is about our country, our democracy, and we will continue to fight and we will win. >> you continue, derek, because the fight has been going on for decades. i pose this question to you, representative beaty, tomorrow marks the 58 year anniversary as supporters of voting rights march in several cities, what is the outcome that you're hoping to see today? >> well, the outcome is to get people more excited to go out and get other people. first you have to get registered to vote. then you have to take people to vote. and we know, if you look back at history, there was a time that people said we would never have a black president. but we went to the streets and we marched. people stood in line for four and five and seven hours, and we elected president barack obama. we now have a vice president in the white house. people said we wouldn't have a president who would elect or pick a vice president. all of this came about because
of actions like today. standing together, standing in unity, speaking truth to power. and so that's why we're doing what we're doing today. >> and i'm very glad to have the two of you standing together. derek johnson, congresswoman joyce beaty of ohio. derek, you had one speech, you've got another one coming up. appreciate you making time for us on msnbc. we have breaking news to share on hurricane ida. thousands across the gulf coast are making last-minute preparations as this storm is taking direct aim at louisiana. it is expected to strengthen to a category 4 hurricane. officials along the gulf coast are begging people to evacuate. some are issuing mandatory orders to leave. in new orleans, the mayor issued a mandatory evacuation of the areas outside the levy system but the mayor says there isn't enough time to evacuate the entire city. at this hour is president is receiving a fema briefing on the federal efforts ahead of the
storm. we're going to bring that to you when it gets under way. let's go to nbc news meteorologist bill karins joining me once again. give me a sense of what you are watching and most concerned about, bill. >> most concerned with how intense the storm is going to get in the next 24 hours before landfall and if it's going to follow the path that we expect it to follow. any little wiggle or whatever else, because of the angle of approach to the southern louisiana coastline is a huge difference between morgan city gets devastated, grand isle, or possibly how much of the core of the storm goes into new orleans. new orleans may be on the edge of it or they may be in it. that's a huge difference if you're on the core of the hurricane or the fringe. here's one of the tools i use. this is zoomed-in satellite imagery. our satellite will take a picture every minute of the hurricane. so we can actually see the bubbling around the eye. you can see the eye becoming clear over the last six hours.
the bubbling is the top of the thunderstorms from above. as they get more persistent, that's the storm getting stronger and you can actually see the eye clearing out as it begins to rapidly intensify. the stronger the thunderstorms around the eye are, then the stronger the winds will get. so we are watching an intensifying eye. if you also watch this line, this red line, it's supposed to be the predicted path of the center. if it was right on forecast, that eye should be right over the top of that red line. it's not right now. it's about 15 miles north of that line. so it's not falling exactly what the forecast path is. that's the kind of things i'll be watching over the next 24 hours because the implications are extreme at landfall. even a 15-20 mile shift is the difference between one town getting crushed and another being spared for the most part. here's the latest from the hurricane center. we'll get the new intensity update at 2:00 eastern time, about 45 minutes away. the last update as 11:00 a.m. at
85 mile per hour winds. i think we'll go up probably to 95 or so with the next update. it could be a category 2 with the next update. they think by tomorrow morning this is a category 4 hurricane with landfall sunday afternoon somewhere south of homa. notice the shift i told you about? if you take that red line and shift it 10-15 miles to the east, we get much closer to a direct landfall toward homa and stronger winds in new orleans. that's why it's so important what happens now for what happens tomorrow. and then the storm will be a huge rainmaker, big flood threat, all of mississippi, from the coast northwards we could get a ton of rain. notice most of it follows that black line, which is the hurricane center, a couple are still drifting towards the east, toward new orleans, a couple are to the left. we like to take the consensus of all of these and we're really focusing on the worst impacts, and then the storm will head up toward baton rouge. the number one thing that kills
people in hurricanes is the storm surge and that is a grave threat with this storm, 10-15 feet along the coastal areas. notice the east side of new orleans, still 7 to 11 feet. that's a significant surge. after katrina the flood walls were built to hold that. new orleans will get a ton of rain, maybe as much as a foot of rain. to new orleans 99 pumps they have to get the water out of the city will be working hard to keep up with the torrential rainfall that will mostly be sunday night into monday morning. the final thing, here are the predicted winds. we'll get an update later this afternoon, but as of right now the winds are only supposed to be extreme south central louisiana, weaker as the storm goes inland, baton rouge and new orleans. we'll be fine-tuning all of this in the hours ahead. nervous times for sure for all of the people that have decided to ride the storm out in southeast louisiana, one little shift is a huge difference between what you're going to
experience. >> real quick, at least people are getting out today, is the weather okay for that? they're not dealing with bad weather today? >> there's showers and thunderstorms there, but nothing that would keep people from getting out. just traffic is a different story with some of the traffic jams they've been having. everyone that wants to get out today, that's been told to get out, has the ability to do so. and they can be able to do that probably until midnight or maybe even as late as 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. in the morning, there will be time to get out before the storm starts to arrive. >> thank you so much for keeping a close eye on that for us. new information a short time ago from the pentagon about the u.s. drone strike on isis-k and the fears that another terror attack at kabul airport is likely. we did it again.
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escape taliban rule. the big six nato allies have now ended their evacuation missions. brittain, in fact, last to fly their troops out of kabul earlier today. u.s. forces committing to evacuation efforts until the withdraw deadline on tuesday. officials say they are getting the job done. >> 66 flights left out of kabul yesterday in that 24-hour period, with 6,800 evacuees. today i can report an updated total evacuation that is more than 117,000. the vast majority of which are afghans. of this total number, approximately 5,400 are american citizens. >> and just moments ago state department officials said they have heard from 350 americans who are still trying to leave the country and 280 americans who are not yet ready to leave. conditions on the ground remain treacherous. the airport is still under that
high security alert. troops are bracing for a second terror attack. americans are being advised to avoid the gates. a few hours ago the u.s. military launched a drone strike near jalalabad, officials saying they killed two people suspected of being planners of terror attacks for isis-k. of course, that group claiming responsibility for thursday's deadly blast at the kabul airport. 13 americans service members were killed, 15 wounded in that attack. just a few moments ago, the pentagon released the full list of those killed in action. some reports say up to 169 afghans were killed, more than 100 wounded. many of the survivors losing their families, as well as their chance to leave. let's go to dan joining us from the pentagon. welcome to you. officials just having released those names of the u.s. service members killed in thursday's attack at the kabul airport. what more do we know? >> it's a difficult list to look at. so many young men and women
there. there are several who are only 20 years old, including rylee mccollum of wyoming, who is married and his wife is expecting to give birth literally in three weeks. so you have service members who are infants when the 9/11 attacks occurred and when the u.s. involvement in afghanistan started, and here they are dying in the final hours of the u.s. mission. so a lot of heart wrenching details emerging. many just beginning their careers in the marine corps. there was one, an experienced staff sergeant, tyler hoover, who was a mentor to marines over the years as a staff sergeant and praised as a leader. he also died tragically in that attack. today at the briefing, major general taylor addressed this terrible loss. let's hear what he had to say. >> we grieve with the gold star families, friends and loved ones
of our fallen. they will be remembered and revered among americans who have served in afghanistan in operations freedom sentinel and enduring freedom. >> this was the most lethal attack for the u.s. military in afghanistan since 2011, and that gives you an idea of the scale of this and the tragedy. and, of course, that bomb went off by that suicide bomber in a really narrow area with a lot of concrete barriers that were designed to stop a car bomb or a truck bomb, and not designed for a large crowd milling around in that area. so a really horrendous chain of events. >> yeah, it's been gut-wrenching to follow. thank you so much. joining me now is oregon congressman, curt shrader, a democratic member of the house energy and commerce committee. welcome to you. i do want to start with your thoughts on afghanistan, how it's all played out during this gut-wrenching week. are you confident that all
americans who want to leave will be out by tuesday? we just got that number of 358 americans and we want to remind others there are some 280, those americans are hesitant to leave. some will have dual citizenship, they've got families in afghanistan. that may be what's contributing to the delay. >> i do feel, given the rate of evacuation that's currently under way by the department of defense and listening to the general's report, by the deadline every american that wants to leave will have that opportunity. the problem is, of course, there will be many of our afghan allies that will probably not be able to get out in time. give the defense department high marks, and frankly some of our commercial airline partners high marks for helping to make this massive evacuation remotely possible given the rapid decline in the defense forces in the
afghan army. >> do you think congressman has the responsibility to investigate the handling of this withdrawal? do you want to see hearings once this evacuation is complete? if you do, what kind of hearings and to address what questions? >> for me, the biggest issue is what happened with our intelligence. why were we not aware of the potential for this precipitous takeover by the taliban? i think everyone expected it would take months or longer, even potentially have some sort of coalition government, and then to have this debacle occur in a space of weeks is mind-boggling. and i think that's where congress will really want to get at the bottom of this. that's the biggest issue, i think, that set us up for this. and i think we need to evaluate training future middle eastern countries to defend themselves and we have to do more than just supply them with arms, and
apparently their ability to defend their own country or their willingness is not the same as it would be for an american. >> we'll let that stand for now as we move to infrastructure. i know that you were among a group of moderate democrats that demanded a vote on the infrastructure bill before passing the budget resolution, and that's all set in motion that $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. you voted for that after being assured that the house will indeed take up the infrastructure bill by september 27th. i'm curious, what went on behind-the-scenes in the negotiations there, and where do you stand now? >> well, the nine of us, which eventually became ten, and frankly a little more, just felt it was critical for america to have a big win at this point in time. we've just seen with afghanistan, the covid surge, i think americans want to know what's going right in america. i'm very proud of the work that
congress did in 2020 to save american businesses, jobs, keep families together, and now here in 2021 with the covid surge and what's going on, americans want to know we have their back again. and i think this infrastructure package, it creates 2 million jobs every year over the next decade and really gets at building back our transportation infrastructure, making sure water and sewer systems are up and running, expand broadband, and we do the energy resiliency piece. my goodness, this hurricane driving down on louisiana right now or wildfires in oregon, we need all of these things down. we need a huge shot in the arm for folks to do that. that was the genesis of the discussions. we stayed in constant contact with one another for the three weeks we were out from the beginning of august up until the vote that we had here just a week ago or less than a week ago. and i think that was -- that
gave us the ability to hang together, stay together, we knew what each other was getting involved in, we knew who was interviewing who, we knew what the negotiations were with each of us by the administration and by the leadership offices. so we worked together throughout this and that gave us the ability to be together and drive hard to make sure we get the infrastructure bill done, september 27th, and we won't have to vote for anything coming out of the senate that's not above what they're able to pass. so those are two huge wins for the american people, get the job done. >> i spoke with your colleague from nevada, steven horseford in the last hour and he said i believes the democratic party is coalescing. and we know there have been moderates versus progressives on this. do you agree with that statement, is the democratic party in lockstep on this ultimately? >> i think on the infrastructure package, yes. i think many republicans are. obviously a huge bipartisan vote
coming out of the senate, 69 senators, 19 republicans, along with all the democrats voted yes on this bipartisan infrastructure bill. my problem solvers caucus that i helped form ten years ago, out of frustration with leadership for being too partisan, actually helped develop the core of this package. when president biden's talks fell apart, we had our package out there, 29 democrats, 29 republicans, and the house supported it. that got the interest of some of our senator friends. they picked it up. the president got excited and here we now have the ability to actually pass a huge bipartisan package that everyone is really in favor of. and it's frankly paid for. that's a big deal. >> let me ask you about covid as we move to the coronavirus pandemic, specifically that which is happening in your back yard. we have "the new york times" reporting oregon is returning to strict mandates as it faces its worst virus surge. the national guard has been
deployed, health care workers are pleading for help. now the state is ordering masks for everyone who gather closely in public, even outdoors. as you look at this, can you explain why things have gotten so bad in oregon and how are your constituents responding to this surge? >> well, i'm a veterinarian in real life so i deal with lots of contagious diseases in my life, and what i have seen is as these bugs, if you will, the viruses circulate, states like oregon, we were largely protected and had one of the lowest death rates and still have one of the lowest in the country. we practiced good hygiene, wore the masks, we did everything we were asked to do, at least the vast majority of the population. we were spared some of the other horrendous outbreaks, but this virus circulates and we're a mobile population and, unfortunately, it has gotten stronger, the delta variant is
much more contagious, small amounts of it can cause disease, even among younger population that was here before. pretty much insulated from the serious issues. so i think as a result of our relative installation, now we're suffering because we're one of the last vulnerable populations out there. and there are unfortunately swaths of oregonians who have decided not to get vaccinated. we should all get our vaccines. it's not a political issue. this is just public health and what i've been practicing for 33 years. >> oregon congressman and veterinarian, it's good to see you. thank you so much, sir. we are keeping a close eye on the rallies for voting rights in washington and across the country. we're going to take you live to one of them next. and new ways for them to reach you... is what business is all about. it's what the united states postal service
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taking a stand to protect voting rights as we give you a look at congresswoman joyce beaty with whom we just spoke from ohio. rallies have formed in several major cities, including washington, d.c. there are at least six events scheduled there today. it's bringing together activists, organizers, community leaders, all of whom are calling on lawmakers to step up and strike down all restrictive voter laws. >> if they can't do the right thing, they should at least do something for self-preservation. clearly the people want to vote. and the way they want to do it is without impediments. these restrictions are for that. that's why martin and andrea king and i are calling, and yolanda and the lewis family are calling for people to pass the john lewis act federal. >> we know who that was, of course, our good buddy reverend al sharpton, who is also the chair of the national action network. shaq brewster at the king center
in atlanta. welcome. what are you hearing from some of the participants at the march going on there? >> reporter: well, let me first tell you that dr. bernice king is on stage speaking. this is part of the second round of the rally we've been watching. the crowd has thinned out a little bit as we enter hour five of this rally. it started with a much larger crowd that marched for about an hour and then came back. organizers say things will pick up once rapper ludacris takes the stage. i'll show you this sign right here. 11780, that's the number that might be familiar to you with the call that president trump made to a local georgia official. they're saying that's the need for the voter right advancement act. that's the john lewis voting rights bill that has passed the house, and they're also talking about h.r. 1. and the reason why they say is because here in georgia, back in
march the governor passed a restrictive voter rights bill and they need the help from the federal government to go and counter against things like the restriction os drop boxes that was passed or the limits to some early voting hours, advocates of that law will say it expanded early voting hours to some rural areas. these are people who feel like they're under attack. take a listen to how they put it to me. >> that makes it difficult for everybody i know that works, works at night. it was easy for them to vote because they worked at night. all these things that a lot of black and brown people have to deal with, you know, all of these people that believe in the big lie would like to eliminate for us. >> we need change, we need it to be fair, safe, and there's no reason it can't be. i'm over 65, i get a ballot mailed to me every year just based on my age, that's safe and secure. i can track it. that should be available to
everyone. >> you know, i want to thank -- >> president biden has just been briefed by fema on hurricane ida. take a listen, everyone. >> nights and weekends for a long time now. hurricane ida is coming fast on the heels of a tragic flooding in tennessee, tropical storm henri and you've all been part of the covid-19 response for so many months now. you've been overwhelmed, but you don't show it. you've been incredible. thank you. ida is turning into a very, very dangerous storm. i need not tell you. just got another briefing from the hurricane center and it's heading straight for louisiana. this weekend is the anniversary of hurricane katrina, and it's a stark reminder that we have to do everything we can to prepare the people in the region to make sure we're ready to respond.
administrator griswell, you and i have spoken extensively about this. we were together yesterday and we spoke to the governors of louisiana, alabama, and mississippi, to ask what they need from us before the storm arrived. and i've already signed an emergency declaration for louisiana to make sure we're ready for the surge response capability to deal with whatever comes their way, our way, but it's their way. we've deployed 500 fema emergency response personnel in texas and louisiana, in addition to 2,000 fema personnel already supporting our covid response in the region. and we've pre-positioned food, water, generators and other supplies in the area. power restoration and mobile communication support teams are also en route. we've also closely coordinated
with electric utilities to restore power as soon as possible and to support your response and recovery efforts. and above all, i'm urging the people of the area to pay attention and be prepared. i want to say it again, pay attention and be prepared. have supplies for your household on hand. follow the guidance from local authorities. and if you have to move to shelter, make sure you wear a mask and try to keep some distance, because we're still facing the highly contagious delta variant as well. administrator, i'm going to turn this over to you in a moment here to give an update on the latest steps we're taking, and i want you to know what more -- i need to know everything you think we need to be able to do. if we haven't gotten the authority for it, tell me now. we'll get it done. most importantly, i just want to say to all of you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
everything you're doing to prepare for this dangerous storm is going to mitigate the impact and potential natural disaster's results that are going to be visited on so many people in the region. the work you're doing is vital and you all know it. so administrator, let's you and i have a conversation, tell me what you need and what's going on. >> thank you, mr. president. as you probably heard from director graham, we are beginning to see the rapid intensification of the storm. what we're doing here in the nrcc and i would like to welcome you to the nrcc, this is the heart beat of your federal family that has come together to support the people of mississippi. >> i've been there, remember? >> i know. and now you see it full and active. >> i can see it. you guys are the best. >> they are.
>> okay, that was unfortunate. we were just hoping to hear more from fema director, with the president listening as well, to what fema needs as we prepare for hurricane ida as it is lurching across the gulf of mexico across those very warm waters and taking aim right now at the gulf coast of louisiana. we are going to stay on top of this. if we get that hooked back up for you, we will get that to you as well. otherwise, we'll certainly be covering it through the next hour and 15 minutes through this broadcast. let's go to the breaking news we've been focus on, as just a few minutes ago the pentagon just fully released the names of the service members that were killed in kabul during the terror attack on thursday. as u.s. forces commit to evacuating afghans right up to the withdrawal line. let's bring in the former permanent representative of nato and now chair of international defense practices at bgr group. mr. ambassador, thank you for
joining me. we are running out the clock on this mission. what kind of negotiations do you think are likely to be taking place behind-the-scenes right now to ensure u.s. troops get out safely? >> i think the immediate task is to deal with the taliban and tr understanding of how these next several days are going to play out. we have already seen a decrease in access by afghan civilians to the airport. that was undoubtedly coordinated with the taliban, but we are also going to need some time and space to recover or to evacuate the 4,000-some american service men and women who are still there. so the next couple of days we will be transitioning from the mass evacuations that we've been watching and largely successful mass evacuations of now over approaching 120,000 people, and transitioning to the evacuation of the military assets themselves. >> okay. ambassador, you have several
nato, also g7 countries, who say they want to get more evacuees out after the full u.s. withdrawal is completed on tuesday, but then there are the questions about whether the taliban has even the most basic expertise to try to keep the airport functioning. i mean what do you see as the big challenges when this window closes on tuesday? >> well, it is hopeful that we might be able to make -- to have some sort of workable arrangement with the taliban to continue evacuations after the 31st. look, the taliban isn't even a government yet. it is still an insurgency, a group of insurgent leaders. they are in the first days of the next chapter of the history of afghanistan, and they've got to form a government. and as they form that government, they confront multiple simultaneous crises, not only the security crisis because the islamic state is an enemy of the taliban just as it is to us, but also a health crisis. covid is in its third or fourth wave in a population of 38
million of largely unvaccinated afghans. there is a hunger crisis. there's persistent drought that has hit the country. finally, the taliban face the very practical reality that they're broke. so this is a government not yet formed, in transition, that faces at least four or five crises all at the same time. >> ambassador, i'm curious about the swiftness with which we saw this drone strike that the pentagon reports took out two isis-k planners, these leaders, right? it was one of these over-the-horizon, so it was launched from somewhere outside of the country of afghanistan. how does that come together? we do have taliban leaders who have condemned this strike. they did that just moments ago. they have told nbc news afghanistan is now an independent country, and if there's any issue we are here to handle it. this is direct violation of the sovereigty of our country. but would that indicate that the taliban had nothing to do with
helping the united states track down these isis-k fighters? i mean how does that happen? >> well, i found the strike here over the last 24 hours very encouraging on two counts. first of all, it demonstrates that the u.s. intelligence network, some combination of signals intelligence, communications and so forth, and perhaps even human intelligence has come together to precisely locate in time and space one of the islamic state cadre. and then the second part was our ability to demonstrate effectively that we can strike such targets once the intelligences queues them up, we can strike them from outside afghan borders, which is a critical element of the biden plan once we withdraw. so this over-the-horizon capability was demonstrated. i thought it was effective, and it should be reassuring to us that we will be able to keep our eyes on the terrorist threat that might evolve in afghanistan, but it also may serve as a deterrent effect for
any terrorist elements who think they can operate with impunity in afghanistan. >> i'm curious about going forward though, sir. are americans going to just have to get used to the idea of the taliban as the legitimate government of afghanistan? and, if so, is there any way to hold them to their word and have them not return to their brutal, tyranical rule? >> well, certainly we have in the international community hold some leverage on the taliban, and their legitimacy has yet to be decided. they clearly own the country, control the country in a military sense, but there's more to governing than that. the degree to which they're able to reach out to other afghan parties, non-taliban parties, they've been in discussions with some previous leaders of afghanistan, president karzai, abdullah abdullah, the former chief executive. if they're able to form an inclusive government and abide by international standards of governance and human rights, then i think there's a lot of space to work with this new
government. but it is simply too soon to tell. >> how much does financial leverage have to do with holding the taliban to what they say at least publicly at this point? you have "the washington post" reporting ten days ago the biden administration froze billions in afghan reserves. do you get the sense, sir, that cash can be used as leverage to get them to comply? >> it is one element of the leverage, not the only one, but it is important because with cash you pay salaries, with cash you can provide humanitarian assistance, keep schools open, keep health care running and so forth. so cash still makes afghanistan run even under the taliban. there's other forms of leverage as well though. taliban leaders wish to be removed from the sanctions list, which has long been held by the united nations, and, fundamentally, at least the afghan taliban are telling us, they're signaling that they want to be a responsible member of the international community. they don't want to be a pariah
state as they were when they last ruled more than 20 years ago. so there is some leverage that can play out here. >> former ambassador douglas lute, thank you so much for going through what we are watching right now unfold in afghanistan. appreciate your time, sir. >> and for all of you, we do have this breaking news. we are awaiting a new update on hurricane ida. it is due our way in the top of the hour, as we bring you new video just taken today. it is a bumpy ride in that cockpit as the hurricane hunters flew right through the eye wall of the storm. hurricane ida is undergoing rapid intensive indication at this hour. it is forecast to strengthen into a category 4 storm by landfall, winds topping 130 miles per hour. that is the potential there. ida will hit coastal louisiana, ironically, on the 16th anniversary of hurricane katrina. let's go back to the white house. nbc's heidi przybyla is standing by there. we know president biden got the briefing from fema. i have to say the briefing cut
out on us, so i have to count on you to bring us more of what was said than we were able to hear. >> reporter: we are still awaiting details but we know what the expectation was based on a statement that the white house put out that he was going to be getting this read-out about the fema staff, 2,000 of them, that has already been deployed to the area, working with the department of homeland security. these are to supplement what is going on locally there, alex. you mentioned the anniversary of hurricane katrina but here is the situation on the ground right now. we have a vicious hurricane barrelling towards the same coast where katrina hit 16 years ago except very different situation. governor john bel edwards says that we were not able to do some of the evacuations, particularly from hospitals, that would have been so necessary. why? because of covid and because of the fact a lot of the hospitals that they would be evacuating to are full. so this adds another layer of complexity on to this operation
for both local and federal officials. we would expect to hopefully get more information out of the white house about specifically what the contingency plans are for not only moving people out of the area, the evacuees who, by the way, are at risk of carrying covid into other parts of the state. i know that is also a concern for the governor. so you have a crisis on top of a crisis here given that this does come, alex, in the midst of a major covid surge in the state. we are told that louisiana has seen its highest daily death rates, reaching that level just this week. >> i mean talk about a full plate right now. we have the president also dealing with everything in afghanistan. what is the latest perspective from the white house? comfortable certainly not the word. how about confident. do they feel confident they are going to get every american out that wants to get out? i think the last total was 350,
heidi, this by tuesday? >> reporter: they say that they are confident. they say that the timeline remains the timeline. they say that they are in touch with a majority of those individuals, alex, however, this operation has been complicated by the fact that, let's be honest, the president wanted to pull off this mission without any fatalities. that did not happen, and so now we have a dual mission here, which is to try and get all of our people out without any more fatalities and to punish those who were responsible for this. we got a briefing this morning from the pentagon where they were a little circumspect about whether the bad guys, as they put it, that we took out in a drone strike were the same bad guys that planned the attack on the airport. so this is a complex issue given that there will be a lot of questions to this administration about whether we got the right bad guys, right. we are sticking to this
timeline, so there's also questions, alex, about whether there will be additional strikes before that tuesday -- before we hit that tuesday deadline. so they are watching these scenes of chaos playing out at the airport, and we are looking at the numbers from this evacuation. they are now acknowledging that we are in what is called the retrograde phase, which is pulling our people out, pulling our equipment out. so we're winding up this mission, but it is in the words of the white house the most dangerous part of the mission because the pentagon said this morning that the same threats that the president was briefed on yesterday, which were very serious, very credible and potentially imminent, remain the same today. so we have thousands of people, alex, who view these departing flights as really their last ticket out of what could become a short-term hellscape here with the taliban tin