tv The Place for Politics 2016 MSNBC March 22, 2016 6:00am-7:01am PDT
democratic and open society and they are struggling with that this morning. >> we're looking at eu flags visible. >> that's the main route through the heart of brussels right into the european commission. if i'm not mace taken having taken some graduate classes right down that street the eu is right down and to the left, although the truth of the matter is there are krut democratic buildings on both sides. there's the eu capital right there, ec, european union headquarters which is about six, seven miles from the brussels airport. >> tom costello, thanks. we are just past the 9:00 hour east coast, 6:00 a.m. on the west coast and here is a recap of the story. the tragedy we woke up to this morning. the death toll stands at 26 from explosions this morning at the brussels airport.
11 of the dead. 15 of the dead were killed at a subway station. the first incident happened at the airport 8:00 a.m. local time in brussels, that was 3:00 a.m. on the east coast. a security source has told nbc news and this has been borne out by people who recognize the video that one of the airport explosions happened near check in desk 4, departure hall 1, less than an hour after the airport attack then came an explosion that hit the subway at the maelbeek station near that main building of the eu there has not been a formal claim of responsibility nor has there been anything since so we are hoping for the sake of the good people of brussels and
everywhere else that this is it, that this was a, while planned and multi-location, a finite attack those are the very familiar stanchions in the airport that we have all cued up around and the snaking of the security line when you arrive at the airport. the other word for that of course is soft targets. the front of an airport is where everyone kind of jams in. you've yet to be swept by security, you are often checking in. if you have actual humans behind a desk you're lucky, too often it's just lines to use a kiosk and then go through airport security. so that's where that video we're seeing now was taken. alan murbaum is on the phone with us now.
he's from the state of virginia, was at the brussels airport when he heard one of the explosions. alan, were you traveling on business, first of all, coming or going? >> it was a routine business trip coming into brussels. >> and, alan, how close were you and how did people -- how did people handle the initial shock of it and the aftermath? >> i was in the vicinity and people saw what happened and again to naturally disperse and await for the appropriate authorities to come and investigate. >> you didn't see anything untoward beforehand that you can remember now? >> no, i don't. >> and was there an attempt to gather all of us and talk to you? >> yes, we've been taken care of and people are keeping an eye on
what's going on and keeping us informed of what's going on. >> how does it feel in that city? >> well, you know, after the initial recognition of what had happened begins to wear off it's the terrible state of grief and mourning and anger. we hope that these things will not happen again, but we always hope that. >> we've been looking at some of the early pictures coming in of a very haunting scene underground at the subway station, equally haunting and smoky at the airport. everything looks just like a familiar airport backdrop except the fact that the ceiling tiles have come down and they are scattered on the ground and there's smoke hanging in the air and we see people on the ground. describe as best you can the
atmosphere in there. >> well, i mean, the atmosphere was to try to get the injured to a triage point, which once the security and medical communities arrived they've done that quite efficiently and to the best that they can, and to keep anyone who is not supposed to be there away from there. if you just follow the instructions of the authorities [ inaudible ] >> are you in brussels regularly? >> i travel in and out of brussels every so often. >> and have you -- are you there often enough to notice a change in past years? >> i would say that since the paris attack and the affiliation with brussels there has been an increased sense of security.
it's somewhat more noticeable than in the past, but it's always been a free and open city where people moved about quite freely and what you would expect in a european city and i suspect that that's not going to be the case going into the next couple weeks and months. >> we're seeing even more new pictures now. it looks like a security checkpoint there. alan, finally, where are you from and what line of work are you in? >> i'm from the virginia area and i'm basically an engineer. >> okay. well, we want to thank you on this highly unusual day. we're glad you're safe. thank you for sharing your observations with us, alan merbaum state of virginia making a regular business trip through the brussels airport and area. as for us nbc's kelly cobiella
is in brussels for us. kelly, what can you add? >> reporter: brian, we are at the metro station, the maelbeek metro station where that second or third blast actually occurred, two blasts at the airport, a third one here earlier this morning at the height of the morning commute. first let me just set the scene for you, brian. the metro station is behind me a good distance, there's one entrance off to the left. of course, you can see tactical police here securing the scene, there are also investigators further down the street working more closely on the scene where the actual blast happened. we understand that when this happened there were many, many commuters inside, one witness told us that he heard the blast, everything went to black, when he was able to see again he saw many, many casualties. we now understand from rescue officials that perhaps more than
70 have been injured. the reports are that 15 have died at this scene. in terms of what's happening now, brian, we can tell you that there is quite a bit of activity in this part of brussels anyway. there have been different messages from employers, schools as to whether to stay in place, to leave your workplace to go home. the european union staff, for example, has been told to stay in place. we're very close to the european union commission council, their council building, this is the center of brussels and still actually quite active. a lot of traffic, there is very heavy traffic getting into the city, we heard sirens, saw rescue vehicles but at no point were any of the roads blocked until we got much closer to the scene, brian. >> kelly, the people of brussels must wonder what they've done to deserve all of this in the post
paris period because we saw that initial sweep, we saw the initial kind of shut down, everything was paralyzed, months go by then came word of the arrest, they're back in the news and now this. >> reporter: that's right. and just in the past couple of days officials and heads of government have been very clear about the possibility of another attack since the arrest of abdeslam on friday. but it's one thing to have those warnings and of course those warnings have been coming now as you mentioned for months, it's quite another to actually see it happening in your city. at a subway during rush hour. at an airport, you know, on a busy tuesday morning as people are flying into brussels, again, the capital of europe. there are lots of day travelers who come in from london and other parts of europe for the day to do business here and then
leaving in the evening. so to actually have it become a reality i think has come as quite a shock to a lot of people here, people are walking, talk being it, asking about t i was asked about it on a train on the way to brussels, a train that was turned around and sent back to france as we got just within 20 minutes of the city. so i think people are a little bit shocked at this point that it actually has come to pass despite all of the warnings. >> and there you are in the middle of a workday. it would appear fairly desolate behind you. is it unusual or just not the kind of neighborhood that would have a lot of pedestrian traffic? >> well, this should be a very, very busy neighborhood on a typical workday. as i say, we are in the center of brussels, the european union commission council is very close by, there are a lot of european union workers in this area, lots
of apartment buildings, businesses. and as i stand here there is a constant flow of traffic out of camera view just behind us, we are on a very busy street and there is quite a bit of traffic. there is a little bit of foot traffic. obviously the scene behind me has been completely blocked off. this would normally be a full street, brian. now given what's happened obviously a police line here and investigation farther on. but i did get the sense as i was coming into the city that there are quite a few people out and about. there were people sitting at cafes, there were people going to restaurants, there were people walking to and from work. obviously not a typical workday, but there is movement in this city right now. >> okay. good to hear it. kelly cobiella who has been able to make her way after some fits and starts to brussels.
>> we've been talking to pete williams who covers justice, tom costello who covers aviation and bit by bit they have been adding to this story, some by personal association, others by reporting. we have been talking to national security experts today, to investigators. all of these different components will go into looking at just what happened, what the explosives were, where they were placed and by whom. the video is coming in every few minutes, we get different views, a lot of it through social media, but this is all very familiar. you see the stanchions, the signage, in some cases moving sidewalks where everything came to a halt, the ceiling came down. those are ceiling tiles a lot of them from the drop ceiling from
the concussion of the blast, the shrapnel that went through the air, the death toll has today for a little over an hour at 26 from the attacks in the airport and of course in the metro stop. as i said, tom costello covers aviation for us and has more to report. tom. >> flemish television is as i mentioned about five minutes ago reported that an unexploded device believed to be a suicide belt was found in the airport and police are moving to detonate that or to take care of it separately. we don't know if this is the same incident but the belgian military called in to take care of some suspicious package or device at the airport. that may be one and the same, we are not clear on that. i can also tell you flemish television is now talking to doctors about the victims that they have seen. one of them a trauma surgeon, i
believe, from a hospital from luven about five miles or eight miles away from the airport reporting that some of the victims have nails embedded in them. in other words, it looks as if these improvised explosive devices contained nails and they are pulling nails out of the victims. another surgeon from yetta which is a suburb of brussels reporting at least one and maybe more victims who have had to undergo amputations today. the flemish television vtm is reporting that a nuclear power plant nearby has been evacuated as a safety precaution. that is a nuclear power plant being evacuated because of a safety precaution and french -- french now not belgian -- french security forces responding across the border to assist their belgian colleagues in a rather fast moving after mat at that of units across the belgian
countryside to the capital of brussels to help lock down and secure the capital of brussels as the entire country is now dealing with a significant terror event and alert and a search for more suspects. to drive this point home more about that unexploded device that they believe they found at the airport, possibly a suicide belt, that would speak to the very extreme possibility or likelihood i should say that a suspect a missing, a suspect that maybe got away, had anticipated detonating the device, didn't do it, whatever, that's the fear right now, at least one of them may have gotten away. also they are asking belgian media not to report on the ongoing movements of police units in and around brussels for obvious reasons. they don't want to tip off anybody else who might be out there as to the movement of police units, tactical units and for that matter the military because the military is now involved as well, brian.
>> tom, while you're talking we continue to run these pictures and a couple of things really stand out. the exterior picture of the airport, it shows what must have really been a heck of a blast to blow out more than one story worth of windows, people scrambling, the smoke is just beginning to come out. and second of the new video we have in the people who look to be near a jet way or a security checkpoint just -- just airline passengers, some of them with obvious facial wounds, they are not panicked, they are moving rather methodically and i think there's something that takes over where you kind of realized we made it through that we're alive -- >> that's the concourse, brian. you have passed through the main
con kours, gone through a shopping mall, that's what you're looking at there. so that's post security, after security and then you go down to the individual concourses to catch your flight. that's what you're looking at there. have been stood there so many times you're now back -- the video is mixed up -- we are now back again in that shopping area after security. so what happened is people who were already through security were clearly not going to go back into the departure lounge where the bomb occurred, they started making a beeline to get out of the airport down the concourses and out on to the ramp as quickly as possible. that's what you're seeing there as this mass of people, thousands of people in the airport for the morning push had to evacuate the airport rather rapidly. >> tom, what's the procedure for any of this to affect air travel in the united states? would that be a directive that would be sent out beyond be vigilant, which we always seem
to hear, would that be a tsa directive? >> what you may see today -- and let me underscore we don't have it yet, but what you may see today is homeland security advising -- i will ask pete williams to weigh in on this if he's still on our channel because he is more intimately familiar with how the workings if on here with homeland security but they may tell tsa we are going to take this to the next level. they could say, for example, we are going to ask everybody to take off their shoes and belts and coats where as normally tsa pre checked folks get a pass, they may do more random checks, dog patrols through the airport. keep in mind it is also the responsibility of the airport police in every city in america to handle the logistics of really going after potential terrorists and criminals and those right there, those are armed officers at dulles airport. you can see that she's got a high -- high powered weapon there. you will see probably more of those at various airports across
the country. we know that dulles seems to have ratcheted it up a bit this morning, miami says they are going to, i wouldn't be surprised if you see individual airports doing that on their own or perhaps even taking the lead from whatever homeland security advises. >> yeah, some of these are now the washington metro subway system shot this morning to show increased security. we will keep an eye out for that, any official communication regarding an increase, a bump up in security at domestic airports because the world has gotten smaller, all it takes is an incident in a foreign capital or foreign city like brussels. we are interconnected by air and all it takes would be that to feel if you are in the united states. don berelli remains with us.
don, what is the protocol here? what can come of a foreign incident? how long does it take to feel it here? >> i think you will feel it soon. as tom mentioned, i think it's likely that we will see an increase of police officers in and around the airport, probably outside in some of those soft target areas you will see more police presence. i would imagine it's already happening. but i just need to stress one thing, that this wasn't a failure of not having enough police officers, this was an intelligence failure that you could have had double the number of police officers at the belgian airport and it likely would not have changed the outcome of this. same with the subway station. this was a lack of the intelligence that where the authorities were caught kind of
blind-sided by this attack. you have to go back to four months ago when salah abdeslam was on the run and basically hiding in plain sight in this neighborhood and yet it took that long to unravel the network. it speaks to the level of logistical support and people that are willing to help these isis supporters that are living in belgium and all over europe and the european authorities are not aware of their existence. >> are you saying that they could have put some manpower on this, could have suspected that an attack was coming after the apprehension? >> well, what i'm saying is it takes a long time to build a robust and effective intelligence network. you need to have people on the inside giving you information. you need to have technical means to collect intelligence, you need to have cooperation with all of your foreign countries. i'm not saying that they don't have those things, but certainly
it appears that they don't have enough of them or it might have been a little too little too late to prevent this attack. >> don, because so many people come through new york, because we are in spring break season, explain to our viewers what -- and it seems specific to new york -- what the groupings are of city police cars zooming through the city streets often accompanied by a larger kind of panel van, they will stop, they will go, they will park, they'll get out, they'll dismount, they'll mount back up again. what is that designed to do and is it true that the circulation of that kind of thing and the tempo is increased after an attack like this? >> sure, it is true. and we talk about soft targets. so having that show of force, that mobilization of heavily armed and trained police officers going through the city and being next to those soft
targets is a deterrent so that somebody that would be trying to, you know, conduct the reconnaissance of a specific place, times square or grand central or what have you, they don't necessarily know when and how many police officers might be there on any given time so it keeps them kind of off guard a bit. but again, you see that in new york, but what you don't see a also a very robust intelligence network, the joint terrorism task force working with the nypd, all the federal agencies really to collect this information to stop these attacks before they get started. that's really where the bread and butter of law enforcement is even beyond the heavily armed police officers with the machine guns and so forth. >> all right. don borelli, thanks so much. msnbc contributor steve clemons was at the brussels airport this morning and he is with us now live.
steve, what can you report? >> i can tell you from the time that i left this morning at brussels airport after an incredible amount of chaos, brussels has shut down, locked down, and even in holland, i was on the last train leaving brussels today, it's taken five different trains to get into the airport i'm at now because there's such a high security protocol they keep mixing the trains and checking them inside the neighboring nation. this morning when i arrived just after the bombs went off there was a great amount of fear, but people were very orderly. the police and security services really were there almost immediately, some have speculated that there were special operations people just staged at the airport because it really did evacuate very fast. i've interviewed three or four people on the train who were with me at the airport, all of whom have different stories.
one was very close to the bomb attack and felt extraordinarily lucky, kept breaking out in tears talking about it. so it's been a very, very tense morning all the way around. when i got out of the airport and was back at the major train station, there was not so much security there until we began hearing rumors of the bomb blast that had gone off in the subway stations, then we were swarming with security and actually this train station really vacated, people left, because they knew that these kinds of globs of people in public places were dangerous. so you saw it sort of naturally happen. it's been a tense morning. after five trains a lot of stress, finally made it to amsterdam and i'm about to fly out. >> steve, it would make sense that they had a heightened population of law enforcement at the airport following the apprehension of the paris respect, it would also make
sense that they didn't have enough or the right intelligence to interrupt the explosion. >> i think that's right. i think what's interesting to me just from a subjective sociological perspective, i've been here since friday and basically arrived right before the actions against salah abdeslam and was at the brussels forum sponsored by the german marshall fund there. we had senator sessions, mike grow man, the president of the european commission, lots of nato people and security was rather light. anyone who has attended the munich security forum commented, wow, we have few security here until the salah abdeslam action took place, then security beefed up around us for a day and then it subsided again. what's really interesting in talking to average belgians and average dutch people, just people that are there saying what they feel as far as security at least from their day to day interaction with it is
that it puffs up in reaction and then it subsides to a point where it's basically invisible. there is a lot of frustration amongst the people. i don't know how much that perspective is shared but i do know that many people say just in the transportation issues i have had this morning people kept saying this is all going to be miserable today, tomorrow there will be no security was something i rel lateral heard from people. while i think you're absolutely right, i think there's another impression that people have is that in general belgium in particular has not had a kind of constant vigilance of the sort that people think they need to have. >> steve, one more question because i don't want to be the one after the day you have had that made you miss your plane and fail to get out of there and that is -- for americans who fly domestically and deal with the tsa, generally as someone who flies through different european cities, ports and airports, do
you feel as safe, more safe in europe because of the level of security, for example, european airports are famous for using manual pat downs which can be very effective. do you feel safer flying in and around europe than you do generally in the united states? >> i just flew through amsterdam security and i don't want to knock them and they did put my bag through an extra screener so i don't want to knock them, but when you compare the general american security i go through i feel that the level of attention is generally higher than it is when i go through here. i didn't remove my shoes, i didn't do this, i had -- i went through security in two minutes because i was very late to my plane, i told them i was about to miss my flight and they basically let me off very fast. so that's not something that would often happen in the u.s. and it probably should not have happened here.
so i don't want to use my own experience as a critique of security elsewhere. i think europe is generally good but not as good as the united states and when you get out of europe and go anywhere else in the world it's much worse. >> thank you. i hope the rest of your trip goes better and we can welcome you back to the states -- >> i just want to say one thing is that when i was in that airport this morning and talking to people here it's important to keep in mind that just scores of people were killed today in that airport, in that metro station, and i think that sometimes and it really hit me today how often we forget that human beings are really damaged permanently and scarred by what happened. so i just felt the need to comment after having gone through this today that it's important to keep in perspective that there's incredible humanity behind please tragedies. >> yeah, we try to do the very same thing, that all these numbers we report when we say a death toll of 26 there is moms,
dads, sisters, brothers, there are teachers, there are bosses, there are coworkers all learning, extended families, learning the absolutely worst possible news today and instead of numbers they are all names and identities and lives that were stopped just because they were walking through an airport or a subway station in brussels today. steve clemons, thank you very much for being with us. fran town send joins us, she was the adviser to george w. bush along with a lot of other posts in her life and career. fran, from a security perspective you tend to view stories like this, scenes like this differently than the average civilian. i'm curious what you make of
this. >> look, i think unfortunately what we're -- the lesson in today's tragedy is that all the disruption effort that we saw puts the paris attack -- post the paris attack isn't enough to really deny these groups their capability. brian, while people have talked about was this a reaction to abdeslam's arrest, i will tell you as a former senior security official the fact is there was a good deal of planning, training, communication, they had -- they needed equipment and explosives. this wasn't put together in the last 40, 48 or 72 hours, this had substantial manage behind it. now, that doesn't mean it couldn't have been accelerated if they feared being discovered after abdeslam's capture, but this was a network that took real time and planning.
we understand from belgian officials there were two explosive device that is went off in the airport, one in the metro station, there were unexploded devices that they did seize, we believe that they then conducted controlled explosions and that will give them information. they will be able to compare the explosives to those used in paris and in the paris attack you will recall there was a suicide vest abandoned and left behind. so they will be able to share information and intelligence from both scenes, be able to learn more about who perpetrated this. we know there has been no claim of responsibility yet, but it really does underscore the lethal capability of these networks in europe. >> yeah, that was what i was going to say. beyond the moving parts of the investigation and what thankfully we are able to do, we being the united states and
european and free nations all, you know, we have had a number of security experts say to us on the air just so far this morning, make no mistake, this is part of a strategic campaign to destabilize europe by isis. >> that's right. look, europe -- western europe faces a much more significant problem at the moment. if you just look at the numbers, purely the numbers, brian, in terms of foreign fighters, men who have gone over to syria, fought and come back, the numbers are far greater in western europe than, for example, the united states. you've got some very capable intelligence and law enforcement services in western europe, but in some respects i think the problem is overwhelming and unfortunately now the bad guys got one off today and as you said tragically you see the loss of life that's being suffered in
brussels. >> while you are speaking we're looking at our screen. two things of note, our number of the dead, the death toll has increased, we've been quoting 26. it's now up to 31. and there is a quote on our screen that says from the french prime minister, "we are at war." and, you know, we heard that kind of thing after paris, we hear it every so often, but it's -- it's nonstandard. it's a moving target. it's in slow motion, all those things that have been said about it. though you're convinced it is its own kind of warfare? >> you know, brian, i think we hear leaders say we're at war and the question is have they persuaded their populations that
that is the case? the thing that makes brussels different is the message now in western europe is paris wasn't a one-off. that was not sort of, you know, one -- as i would say one and done. it wasn't the anomaly. what europe now has to come to grips with is this wasn't limited. if they could pull off two of these sophisticated attacks in western europe they have a real problem and they are going to have to as we learned tragically after september 11th information sharing and intelligence sharing is the key and they're going to have to do that quickly, they're going to have to do it, really act transparently across borders in europe in order to be able to get the information in a timely way so that they can disrupt these sorts of things. >> former national security adviser fran townsend thank you very mh for being with us and being part of your coverage.
we've been calling this an asymmetrical attack, we've been calling this part of an ongoing isis strategic campaign against the nations of europe. earlier the belgian ambassador to the u.s. spoke about this terrible news of the attacks this morning. >> what was particularly worrying are two elements, the first one is that in those house searches a lot of heavy weapons have been found which was an indication that something was perhaps being planned for the next few days and our people in brussels knew about that, they were fully aware that they had to act and act swiftly. the second point which arose is that apparently new names have arisen, new names, new people who may be part of a network have come up to the surface.
these indications we got them out of last week. that is why i said they have been working like hell all over the weekend, day and night, but as you see still a dramatic situation took place today. >> that's interesting. we're going to return to that, but remember what he just said, he talked about the house searches and he talked about heavy weapons. that was belgium's ambassador to the united states. again, more on that after this. let's go to tom costello with an update on transportation. tom. >> a couple of issues. first of all, that unexploded what they thought was a suicide belt at the brussels airport, that has now been detonated. we are told either by police units or by the military that has been taken care of. there was also report of at least one kalashnikov rifle that was found near presumably a dead attacker it he airport. within he talks about heavy
weaponry we have had this report immediately and now flemish television reporting there was a kalashnikov found at the scene. we can also tell you there has been some concern about the nearby nuclear power plant. i reported about 15 minutes or so ago the vtm was talking about them evacuating that. that is nonessential personnel only. nonessential personnel only being evacuated from that nearby nuclear power plant. if you ever flown into or out of brussels and especially out of brussels as you take off and lift up out of the airport you see that nuclear power plant not far at all from the airport. i think it's in the neighborhood of billboard or very nearby t that has been evacuated except for nonessential personnel did sh rather essential personnel. nonessential personnel are asked to go home or to leave. we are also told that there will be some limited train service in the brussels area starting up again this afternoon but i underscore limited. and several taxi drivers are
now -- have been picking up people who have been literally streaming and walking down the highways out of the brussels airport because there was no place for them to go, no way to get out, have been picking them up for free and taking them to wherever they needed to go, trying to be of assistance. that reminded me of 9/11 and how all those ferry boat operators on the hudson picked up people who were stranded and tried to get them across the water, myself included on that day. some of that same sentiment, some of the same kind of coming together, that spirit taking hold there in brussels as well. by the way, also several of the surgeons are again emphasizing the terrible state of the injuries that the victims have suffered. we continue to have reports of amputations and we continue to have reports that the bombs apparently were loaded with nails. brian. >> what a terrible ghoulish business. tom costello, thanks.
our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has rejoined us. richard, i want to go back to what the ambassador said. he talked about the house to house searches. what was after paris and that was part of a real roll back of civil liberties. it was some emergency measures. police in france and belgium entered, i don't know, i lost track of the total, hundreds of private dwellings. he also mentioned they have names and they found heavy weapons so that's kind of the blessing and the curse. that they made discovery, but it also was a marker that a lot more was planned. >> i think europe is aware now of how profound this problem is. that you don't have thousands of your nationals go and join and fight with isis and come home
and not have repercussions from that. this is an explosive problem and i think we're seeing the consequences of it. i was talking to a senior u.s. counterterrorism official a short while ago. when i asked him is this the start of a wave of attacks in europe his answer was, quote, likely. so u.s. officials have watching this closely, they are not encouraged by what they're seeing. there is a suspicion that this was the action today of an isis cell. that they don't know how large the cell is, how many other members are out there. that's something that i know the u.s. is looking at right now and probably working very closely with their european partners. but they believe this was a sophisticated attack, coordinated and the work of a cell of still yet undetermined size. >> well, was i accurate about the suspension of civil
liberties being a temporary thing or is that going to be the new normal? >> well, it's a double-edged sword. i was in paris after the attacks and i saw a lot of police on the ground, they were going to the predominantly muslim neighborhoods and they were basically stopping anyone they thought looked suspicious, putting them up against the wall or up against the light post and frisking them and sometimes handcuffing them and doing it in a way that if you were innocent would have left you feeling targeted, would have left you feeling persecuted. so heavy handed security measures that are directed against one particular community may have some intelligence value, but it may also have if not used properly the opposite effect of people -- of driving suspects underground, of creating more sympathetic accomplices. >> richard engel, thanks for
that. brian carol is with us, he is a communications consultant from washington, d.c. who happened to be on a subway car en route to downtown brussels this morning when he heard this blast. brian, take the story from there. >> hi. yeah. i was actually on the train this morning that was attacked. i had -- i don't usually take the metro, but i had to be downtown for a conference this morning. and i got on the station at shoe man, which is right in the heart of the european corridor, one station down is maelbeek. as we were approaching the station there was a massive explosion which could be felt throughout the entire train, immediately the heights turned off, the electricity shut down, the whole train shook and everyone instantly dropped to the ground, it was clear we were being attacked. and we -- you know, we got on
the ground for a few minutes, there were multiple rounds of explosions heard and multiple [ inaudible ] and eventually i was right next to the door and some other passengers came to try to open the door but of course the train had shut down so together manually pried open the door. personally i was -- i think we were all scared to death, didn't know what was going on. it wasn't clear to me at the time whether there was an attack happening on the train itself or if it was happening at the station. so i had a moment of hesitation, should i get off this train? i didn't know if they would be waiting for us on the other side. or should i stay here and hope that it goes away. i made -- i eventually made a run for it. the whole station was smoky, there was glass everywhere, it was clear that there was -- damage had been done and we -- as i ran out the exit, the exit had been -- you know, it was shattered and [ inaudible ] -- i
think that some of the other -- i don't know what happened at the time, but since then it seemed that some [ inaudible ] the actual cars had been exploded. i think that [ inaudible ] -- >> brian carol, we're suffering from some cellphone break up there, but we got most of the story. a harrowing one it is. more than one last. also not knowing if -- exactly where the attack was taking place, in the tunnel or at the stop or on the train that was moving. imagine the -- the terror of knowing it's happening on your train, yet the odd good fortune compared to others who didn't make it that you were apparently uninjured. but we want to thank brian carol for making contact with us by
phone. malcolm nance remains with us. malcolm, the same question i asked richard engel. anything stand out to you from the ambassador's statement what the yield was from the house to house searches, the fact that names and he seemed taken aback by the number of heavy weapons that those house to house searches exposed. >> yeah, it's absolutely fascinating. this tells us that isis had a very, very deep strategic network operating within europe and was using belgium as a base of operations in some respects. the very fact that he mentioned heavy weapons shows that this attack and other attack which could come could be much, much worse. we understand also that there may have been an ak-47 found at the airport and that the bomber decided to fire off his suicide
bomb vest instead of going in a gun attack like we saw in paris which could have produced more casualties, in fact. right now on social media on the dark web isis's fan boys and supporters are cheering these attacks. as a matter of fact, there's one tweet that's going around right now that says, oh, slaves of the crew sausader crusaders, there are more belgians to come. so this network is obviously deeply ingrained and we won't know whether it's going to pop up in germany or netherlands or italy but right now europe needs to be on maximum alert and they need to understand like the prime minister said that they are dealing with a strategic network here. >> and what do you use -- what do you convert that knowledge into? how does that help you? >> well, for the most part it's certainly the intelligence that we're getting on the ground in belgium is going to tell us the depth of these network systems.
as a matter of fact, i don't like to use the word network now in europe i like to use the word constellation of networks because isis operates in this hybrid sort of terrorist cell structure where you will have one team that's operational, that does all their own logistics, gets their own food, water, shelt shelter, guns -- they maybe in direct communication with three or four others, logistics, manpower coming from syria or not africa and then there may be five or ten others who have absolutely no connection to that cell. i think that's what we've seen today. we've seen that these cells are operating in a compartmented fashion now and that is good operational security on isis's part because it makes intelligence collection extremely difficult. again, europe is going to have to start -- i'm sorry -- international liesing the intelligence operation of collecting communications, collecting the forensic material
and gum shoeing this problem in order to break any future attacks. >> what are the other countries in the continent that you're worried about? >> well, to tell you the truth there have been several attacks that have been thwarted. italy had a plot over two months ago where they captured 16 people that they believe were from bosnia with heavy weapons, ak-47s, hand grenades. so italy is at risk. and italy is actually a pipeline from north africa for many of the refugees who come out of libya. libya and which is of course the number one exporter of bodies. so as those people flow through europe they're going to a disparate area of places. they go to spain, there are very big cells that have been broken in spain, the netherlands has a problem with this, norway, scandinavia, sweden, norway, denmark. so all of these countries have a problem and that's why we need an international effort.
>> all right. malcolm nance, thank you as always. earlier this morning while we've been on the air, while today has beeninterview on the subject. >> from your time as secretary of state, you know that area very well. you know belgium well. what was your initial reaction when you heard this news? >> well, it was just terrible horror. the idea that terrorists are continuing to strike at the heart of europe and now brussels and the number of casualties from what looked to be fairly sophisticated, coordinated attacks is deeply distressing. we've got to stand in solidarity with our european allies as they have stood with us on so many occasions. we have to intensify our efforts
to find and prevent terrorists from ever doing this again. it's going to be a long challenge because of a lot of factors, including, you know, the easy accessibility to powerful explosives and the mobility of terrorists in today's world. but we've got to be absolutely strong and smart and steady in how we respond. >> secretary clinton, it's savannah guthrie. as you well know, we aren't yet aware whether or not isis is taking responsibility for this. if isis directed this, or if isis merely inspired this. nonethels, i think we all agree isis is really at the heart of this. and if you were president today, what would we be doing differently to try to get at this root cause? >> well, savannah, you're right that we're not sure yet, but it's also true that, you know, we have been confronting the
threat of terrorism for quite some time. and this is the latest terrible manifestation of it. we have got to tighten our security. i talked about our visa system and our passenger name record system. when i was secretary of state, we often had some difficulties with our european friends because they were reluctant to impose the kind of strict standards we were looking for. that's after paris has changed, and we need to do much more to tighten things up. i know our security professionals are working to do that. but it's unrealistic to say we're going to completely shut down our borders to everyone. that would stop commerce, for example, and that's not in anybody's interest. we have to do a much better job in coordination with the europeans on tracking and
following anyone who has any connection with terrorist activity or terrorism. >> secretary clinton, when the european union was established, borders became basically invisible. anybody could travel between different countries in europe incredibly easy. do you think europe is going to have to reconsider that now that we see how easily terrorists have moved, for example, between france and belgium and other countries? >> you know, matt, i think they already are reconsidering it. the dream of a whole free europe is one that should not be walked away from. it was an essential development after the horrors of world war ii. but we do have to be realistic about how people move from place to place. and it's been my understanding that the europeans are looking hard at how to better protect their borders internally, and of
course, they are coping with this extraordinary wave of syrian refugees and refugees from other parts of the middle east and south asia. they have labored to do that in an appropriate way, but that, too, poses extra burdens on them. so this is a time for us to reaffirm our solidarity with our european friends and allies. individually, and for nato to support them as they struggle with how best to defeat the terrorist threat. >> secretary clinton, this is obviously a time to think about what the proper policy response it, what the law enforcement responaunonse is, but i keep thg about someone sitting at he and watching these images and thinking about europe and our friends in western europe and wondering, could something like this happen here? is this something that people should fear?
>> well, savannah, i think we've got to recognize that the threat posed by the modern incarnation of terrorism is one that we have to be vigilant against. and i know that americans have every reason to be frightened about what they see and what happened to us in san bernardino. and remember, the terrorists are trying to undermine the democratic values that are at the root of our way of life. we cannot let them succeed. so we have to, you know, intensify our efforts to keep america safe and to work with our friends and allies to help them be safe as well from these threats. >> you know, it seems, secretary clint clinton, that information is so vital when it comes to combatting terrorism, and that is why perhaps, perhaps you hear some people say when you get a
key suspect like the one who was taken into custody in brussels last friday, maybe you should use some enhanced techniques to get information out of that person. it also may be why if you look at this country in the wake of the san bernardino shootings that you just brought up, a lot of people say, wait a minute, apple, you have got to unlock that phone that was left behind by one of the shooters because it's crucial that we get that information. is that just simply a logical step that people take after events like this? and do you agree with it? >> you know, matt, i think it is certainly understandable that people would be asking those kinds of questions. you know, as to waterboarding, you know, our country's most experienced and bravest military leaders will tell you that torture is not effective. it does put our own soldiers and increasingly our own civilians
at risk, but we do have to give law enforcement and intelligence professionals all the tools they need to do the job to keep america safe. and they don't need to resort to torture, but they are going to need more help. and you know, just yesterday, i said with respect to the question about the cell phone, i just can't believe that we can't find a reasonable path forward here, trying to help our law enforcement professionals get the information they need both to follow up on attacks and most importantly to protect them. and that, you know, the privacy and safety of people who can lose their lives or be injured in an attack has to be weighed against the privacy and safety of our information. and i just still believe there's got to be a way for our great tech companies and our law
enforcement professionals to figure out how to deal with that. it appears from the early reporting on the capture of the terrorist suspect in brussels that one of the ways he was tracked down was through the use of his cell phone. and we also know that terrorists are not stupid. they are quickly adapting. and the more they use encryption to communicate, the more difficult it's going to be to figure out what the heck they're up to. so we've got to work this through. consistent with our values. >> all right, secretary clinton, we appreciate you joining us this morning. thank you for your time. >> as we said, we have been on the air, of course, the "today" show has been talking to a number of newsmakers. people are calling in. this will necessarily become entwined with the presidential campaign by the close of the day, we will have reaction, i'm
sure, from all of the candidates for president. and if you have been watching throughout, you have noticed when we have mixed in new imagery, we have been receiving, mixed with the kind of shocking headlines at the bottom of the screen, 31 dead in brussels attack. french prime minister's quote, we are at war. the same kind of things, it was true then after the paris attack. it remains true now. it's just an asymmetrical kind of slow motion war, and not the kinds of wars we have become familiar with. indeed, more than one of our experts this morning during our coverage has said this is a strategic campaign by isis to destabilize europe and then some. and that is what we're witnessing here. we heard the ambassador to the u.s. talk about the
house-to-house searches, what they yielded, the names they learned, the heavy weapons they found. it's chilling stuff. and those house-to-house searches came as a direct result of the paris attacks. here we are at 10:00 eastern time. 7:00 a.m. on the west coast. 10:00 in the east, and here is what we know. at least 31 people have been killed today. 11 killed at the brussels airport. 20 more killed at a subway station. the mayor of brussels is reporting at this hour, best they know, 106 people have been injured. the first incident took place 8:00 a.m. local time in brussels. that was 3:00 in the morning east coast time, while america slept. a security source says one of the airport explosions happened near check-in desk number four, departure hall on