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updated 8/24/2011 12:36:55 PM ET 2011-08-24T16:36:55

Guest Host: Chris Jansing
Guests: Robert Bazell, Andrea Mitchell, Jim Miklaszewski, Stephanie Gosk, Alex Wagner, Peter Alexander, Pam Harlowe, Laura Howe, Dr. David Applegate, Bobby Gosh


CHRIS JANSING, GUEST HOST: The East Coast gets rattled.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Jansing in New York tonight, in for Chris
Matthews, and leading off with the East Coast earthquake.

If you`ve been watching TV, listening to the radio, or following
social media, you already know the headline. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake
hit the East Coast just before 2:00 this afternoon. Tens of millions of
people who think of quakes as something that happens to someone else,
something that happens to people on the West Coast, were jolted into a rare
and nerve-racking reality.

The quake was centered in Mineral, Virginia, in the northern part of
the state, but it was felt as far south as Georgia, as far west as
Illinois, as far north as Martha`s Vineyard, where President Obama is
vacationing. Even at 5.8, this was a powerful earthquake. And while there
are no reports of major damage, there may well be hidden structural damage.

In Washington, D.C., and in New York, people poured out of buildings
for an unscheduled mid-day break. The NBC Washington bureau was evacuated
for a time until it was clear to safely return to that building.

So we`ll have all the details and bring you live reports throughout
the hour here on HARDBALL.

And also, what would otherwise have been our lead story tonight took
place on the other side of the world, in Libya, where rebel troops
overwhelmed pro-Gadhafi forces and poured into his compound. The
victorious rebels fired their weapons in celebration and grabbed what they
could, but Colonel Gadhafi`s whereabouts remain unknown. We`ll get to that
story a little later on in the show.

But we begin with today`s earth -- earth -- East Coast earthquake.
Let`s bring in Bob Bazell, who is NBC`s chief science and health
correspondent. So Bob, how big a deal is this? I mean, we don`t -- we
don`t have these here on the East Coast.

ROBERT BAZELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do, but we don`t have them
that often, Chris, and that`s the point. A 5.8 earthquake is not a small
earthquake. Let`s not forget that the earthquake that struck Haiti, Port-
au-Prince, in January of 2010 was a 6.0, which is not that much bigger.

A lot of what happens after an earthquake depends on where it strikes
and what kind of shape the buildings are in that are right close by it. So
this is a powerful earthquake. No mistake about it. And it seems from all
the reports that we`ve heard that we`ve been very lucky. We hear there`s
been structural damage here and there, but not a single report of an
injury, which is really amazing.

This happened in something called the central Virginia seismic zone,
which is an area of the world that was formed when the Appalachian
mountains grew up 400 or 500 million years ago. So it`s not so active as
the western part of the United States, the Sierra Nevadas, which came up 30
million years ago and still is a very a active earthquake zone.

But the thing is, earthquakes in the east, because the ground here
tends to be much harder and older, cause the energy to dissipate much more
quickly. So that`s why the shaking was felt over such a wide area. In the
west, the earth is softer, so the energy gets more absorbed by the earth.
So it`s not felt as far away. But this is a big earthquake. We were very
lucky today.

JANSING: From what I`ve been able to tell -- and this is just
anecdotal -- it seemed like people, for example, on the west side of
Manhattan felt it more than the east side of Manhattan. Is that crazy?

BAZELL: No, that`s not crazy at all because it has to do with where
the rock formations are and that sort of thing under Manhattan, for
instance, and now the energy gets dissipated and what kind of building
you`re in and how the building responded to it.

But one -- there`s a couple -- one good thing about this, there was
one nuclear power plant, the North Anna plant, that was nearby. It shut
down properly. The generators are cooling off the rods as they should.
Everything is fine there.

But it shows us again that for things like older structures and -- or
nuclear power plants, bridges and tunnels, if they`re old -- earthquakes do
happen in the east. This should be a wake-up call that we -- it`s -- we
got enough things to worry about, obviously. We think about it all the
time. But there are Eastern earthquakes, and they can be severe.

JANSING: Yes, a spokesman at the White House says it shook pretty
good here. We know that it was felt on Martha`s Vineyard, although not
significantly, where the president is. We know the spires were affected at
the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the Episcopal cathedral there.
They evacuated all sorts of buildings, Union Station, shook the foundation
of the Pentagon, the Capitol, the House, the Senate.

So what happens now? Because these are not buildings that were built
to be earthquake-proof, obviously, especially in the nation`s capital. Can
they determine pretty quickly that these are all OK?

BAZELL: I think all those buildings have good engineering staff that
can come in and take a look and make sure nothing is going to fall down.
The reason that people do go running out of buildings when feel see an
earthquake is, of course, you`re worried not that the earthquake is going
to continue, that something is going to crack and fall down on your head.
Nothing --

JANSING: And we`re not used to it. When I lived in California,
people would sit and have dinner, continue dinner parties through
earthquakes.

BAZELL: And as a matter of fact, I was having lunch (INAUDIBLE) when
it happened, and I was sitting with a bunch of friends. And I said, That
was just an earthquake. And they said, You`re nuts. They maybe said that
to me for other reasons before, but --

(CROSSTALK)

JANSING: But this was a particular reason.

BAZELL: But I grew up in California and I`ve been in Haiti and Japan,
so I knew exactly what it felt like. So this -- yes, you`re right.

JANSING: And does it feel different here? Because you and I were in
Japan, where there were so many aftershocks. And these were aftershocks 6
and higher, and it did have that rolling feeling to them. But it`s also a
situation where the buildings are meant to withstand that. So you feel
this rocking that goes on far after the earthquake is over.

Does it feel different on the East Coast, on the West Coast or in
Japan?

BAZELL: It depends where you are. And it didn`t feel that much
different than a standard earthquake. Although here in New York, it was
less than a 3 force compared to the 5.8. The people who really felt this
earthquake very strongly were the people who -- particularly around
Charlottesville, Virginia, the University of Virginia. They went running
out of the buildings in a big hurry. For them, this was a very big
earthquake. Fortunately, there was no major damage there and no injuries.
But they felt it very strongly.

Here, even though it`s being transferred through the ground
efficiently, it`s a long way away from the epicenter. So we didn`t feel
the kind of earthquake that you and I are used to from the aftershocks in
Japan, which, of course, were at 6.

JANSING: Are aftershocks almost assured?

BAZELL: They`ve already occurred. There`s been a couple aftershocks
of this one in the magnitude of 2, which are very small --

JANSING: Right.

MITCHELL: -- almost imperceptible. But they say -- the National
Geological Survey is saying that an aftershock of 4 or more would not be
surprising.

JANSING: Really?

BAZELL: Well, absolutely. That`s very standard for an earthquake.

But to get back to this other point, for nuclear power plants and
everything else that`s extremely dangerous, this is a wake-up call that in
the -- even thought we don`t have them as often, there are earthquakes
throughout the United States, including on the East Coast.

JANSING: And when you have something that`s this big -- when I say
this big -- comparatively, this size of earthquake has not happened in how
long? I have that somewhere.

BAZELL: Well, it was 1897, I think.

JANSING: Yes.

BAZELL: There was a 5.9 in the same area.

JANSING: So this is not something that has happened in a very long
time. Does that make us more vulnerable? Does it make it more likely that
there`ll be another --

MITCHELL: No, it doesn`t --

JANSING: -- one or will it be another 100 years?

BAZELL: No. But it was 200 -- you know, the last one just under --
over 200 years ago. And this one -- the Haitian earthquake, there hadn`t
been an earthquake in Port-au-Prince in 200 years. And 200 years in
geological time is the flash of an eyelash. Don`t forget we`re talking
about faults that were formed 400 million years ago. So 200 years is
nothing. So yes --

JANSING: And how long could the aftershocks go on, Bob?

BAZELL: They`ll go on for a while, but it`s very unlikely that
there`ll be another earthquake that`s as powerful as this one from this
region for a while. So I don`t think the aftershocks are in this case
something we have to worry about. I think it`s much more the idea of the
reminder that we are susceptible here in the East Coast to earthquakes.

JANSING: You know, you`ve got to put this thought though -- and I
don`t disagree with you because having been through earthquakes in
California and then in Japan, and you see the difference when you have
buildings that are meant to sustain them and you have people who have
prepared and who have retrofitted. Given, frankly, you know, the current
economic situation, I don`t see much happening on the East Coast. Do you?

BAZELL: Well, but -- yes, but it`s not a bad idea to look at old
buildings, to look at places where bricks are hanging over, because even
without an earthquake, a jolt of the subway line or something like that can
cause things to fall down -- so the kind of things that you would look for
to make sure that things are safe.

I would like to know that the Holland Tunnel, for instance, which
carries, you know, thousands -- hundreds of thousands of cars a day is safe
so that it can withstand an earthquake. I`d like to know that power plants
all do in an earthquake what the one near this one did today, which is shut
down safely, because as we`ve pointed out in other contexts, the Indian
Point power -- nuclear power point, which is north of here in Westchester,
has 6 percent of the U.S. population living within its evacuation zone. So
if it didn`t shut down properly, the consequences are unimaginable.

So maybe we should -- yes, the money`s not around for everything. We
can`t protect against every danger. But this is a reminder that that is a
danger that`s -- that we have to contemplate.

JANSING: Bob Bazell, thank you so much.

Joining me on the phone now, Pam Harlowe, the mayor of Mineral,
Virginia, which was the epicenter of the quake. And Mayor, how are you
doing right now?

PAM HARLOWE, MAYOR OF MINERAL, VA (via telephone): Everyone in town
is quite shaken up, but with a sigh of relief, so far, I`ve heard of no
injuries.

JANSING: Tell us a little bit about where you were, what you felt,
what you experienced.

HARLOWE: Actually, I was sitting at my kitchen table. We had ground-
breaking for our new town hall on Friday, and I had come home and sat at
the table to write thank you notes for everyone that helped us with that.

And fortunate that we`re starting a new building because our town hall
appears to be the worst hit building in town. Inside, the walls are quite
cracked. A lot of plaster`s fallen. The top of the building has a lot of
bricks that have become dismantled.

And the other damage -- all the old homes in town, I didn`t see one
that the chimneys were not broken. They all have old brick, and every one
of them has been broken off. There`s only one other building in town that
I have noticed that is unsafe to go back in, and that`s made out of
cinderblock. And it has a crack from top to bottom.

And fortunately, the high school and the middle school is about a half
a mile out of town, and all the kids were able to be evacuated and all
safely gotten home. Either the parents picked them up or they rode the
school bus. And schools are closed tomorrow. Today`s (INAUDIBLE) was the
seventh day of school, so we started back early. But now they`re going get
a little setback until they see if the buildings are structurally sound to
get the kids back in.

But we`re doing good, considering the magnitude of this earthquake.
And the plant shut down like it was supposed to. So that was one worry
that -- one concern we don`t have to have. Other than that now, everyone`s
cabinets have been emptied. It`s a good time to clean out your cabinets
because nature did it for us.

JANSING: Well, I like the way you think, putting a positive spin on
what had to be a pretty terrifying situation.

(CROSSTALK)

JANSING: Not many of us are used to this. I mean, did people just go
running out of their houses? Did you -- I mean, was there panic?

HARLOWE: Well, when it happened, actually, I had no idea what was
going on. We have heavy freight trains that come through here quite often
and they sort of rumble the earth a little bit when they come through.
That was my first thought, We`ve got a big train coming through. But then
it continued.

So I went to the back door, and all my neighbors were standing out in
the road. Everybody just left their homes and were out in the road. So
after I saw everybody here was OK, I ran up town in my vehicle, and that`s
the same thing that was happening up there. All the businesses and the
homes, everyone was out on the sidewalks. So I think everyone felt what
was happening.

JANSING: Give me a little sense of your town. How big is it? And
how well prepared are you for what will surely be a task ahead to get
cleaned up, and obviously, the financial implications of this?

HARLOWE: Oh, that`s a good question. We`re a small town. We only
have about 430 residents. The town is about one mile square size-wise. We
have lots of older homes that structurally are a little weak anyway. So
until everything is evaluated, we don`t have any idea how much it`s going
to cost.

The local grocery store, I went by there, all their shelves had been
emptied into the aisles. So it`s just going to be a lot of labor involved
to get things straight.

JANSING: We wish you well. You certainly have a positive attitude.
And thank you so much at this busy time for taking the time to talk to us.

HARLOWE: Sure. Thanks so much. Back to our cleaning!

(LAUGHTER)

JANSING: Mayor Pam Harlowe, right at the epicenter there of the
quake.

And let me bring in Andrea Mitchell. She of course, is NBC News chief
foreign correspondent, but she actually felt the quake today in Washington.
Andrea, you were on the air.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I was on the air. And I`ve now
been reminded that, in fact, this happened two years ago. I was with
Hillary Clinton in Pakistan and Islamabad, and we were broadcasting live
from there, and there --

JANSING: You had to be reminded of that?

MITCHELL: -- in the middle of the night -- yes. And everything
started shaking. But there, there was no one was saying, Get out, get out.
You know, there was no safety concern there.

But here, our technical managers just cleared everyone out. I mean, I
was here in this chair on the set. In fact, my computer was logged in.
I`m still finding all my notes from our broadcast. And all of a sudden,
everything just started rattling and rolling. And it sounded, as the mayor
there just said to you, like a freight train. We didn`t know what was
happening until smarter people told me exactly what was happening, me not
being a Californian.

And you know, I was just so struck by her spunk and spirit, and she`s
getting back to cleaning, you know, because we are so unaffected, really,
by it here in Washington. But there has been some damage, some damage to
historic buildings, most notably, the National Cathedral, which is just a
heartbreaking situation for all of us who love it. It`s about a mile from
here. And Luke Russert really grew up on that campus, went to school there
at St. Alban`s. And there has been really serious damage to the pinnacles,
to the spires that those stonemasons have worked for more than 100 years to
complete. So that is a sad moment, but no real damage.

And the president was briefed. He had a national security briefing
with FEMA and his national security team at 2:50 this afternoon from
Martha`s Vineyard, and he was told that there`s no real emergency in any of
these states. There`s a hideous traffic jam right now in Washington as
people try to get home.

JANSING: Yes, I mentioned a little earlier that somebody in the White
House said it shook pretty good. Is that a good description of what you
felt?

MITCHELL: It was more than just shaking. I mean, it just was
everything going at once. And I`ve talked to people in Virginia, also
people, by the way, in Colonial Williamsburg, where the foundation there
reports that all is fine in those buildings, which are the oldest buildings
in America, from 1607. They did not suffer any damage that they know.

JANSING: That`s amazing.

MITCHELL: The Capitol Police had a briefing -- it is amazing. The
Capitol Police briefing, which was I think at about 3:30 today -- their
briefing was that they were going to take several hours to go through the
most important buildings, other than the White House, you`d have to say,
the Capitol, and make sure that the Capitol itself and all the office
buildings -- some are older than others, as you know -- are safe.

There`s so much that is historic from the Brumidi frescoes in the
Rotunda on down. So there`s a lot to look at in terms of any structural
damage there. So they`re not letting people back in in any of those
buildings, the office buildings or the Capitol.

Chris Coons was the designated senator today. He was on the air with
Tamron Hall. He was getting out of the Capitol, out of the Senate. But
every day, one senator gavels the Senate down for a few moments so that the
session is really pro forma, so that there`s no recess, therefore can be no
presidential recess appointments. That is what the -- obviously, the
opposition party, the Republican Party, has demanded.

So they are actually in every day for a couple of seconds. He, being
close by from Delaware, was the guy today. And he actually held that pro
forma session, I believe at the Postal Service, which is an historic
building nearby.

JANSING: Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign correspondent, who was
probably talking about Libya at the time. There were a few things going on
over there --

MITCHELL: Exactly.

JANSING: -- and lived to tell the tale, we are happy to say. It`s
good to see you, Andrea.

MITCHELL: Yes.

JANSING: Thank you.

MITCHELL: Thank you.

JANSING: And coming up, we`re going to talk a little more about just
how prepared the East Coast is for a major earthquake. What are the
implications? We`ll be talking to the Red Cross right after this.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL.

How prepared are people and governments on the East Coast for
earthquakes? When the quake struck today, a lot of people just
instinctively rushed for the exits of their buildings. But was that the
right thing to do?

For that, we`re joined by Laura Howe, who is vice president of public
relations at the American Red Cross. It`s good to see you. I wonder if
you folks have been getting a lot of calls.

LAURA HOWE, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well, we have, and you know, here at
Red Cross headquarters, we felt it like everybody else. And I think, you
know, on the East Coast, a lot of us aren`t used to feeling earthquakes,
and so we sort of stopped for a minute and said, Wait a minute, is this a
truck going by? And when it was going on for an extended period of time,
then we knew what it was. But it`s certainly not something we`re used to
dealing with here.

JANSING: I remember the very first time I ever felt an earthquake. I
was out in California, and it started shaking. I realized what it was, and
I ran out to the newsroom. And as I`m running, they`re all diving under
their desks.

HOWE: Yes.

JANSING: Today, we saw people rushing out of buildings. What is the
right thing to do?

HOWE: Well, we always recommend that people duck, cover and hold on.

So, you need to get down on the floor, get under a sturdy piece of
furniture, like a desk, and hold on until the shaking stops. Once the
shaking stops, then it`s OK to go outside. But I think people sort of
looked around today because here in D.C. and on the East Coast, we`re not
used to it. So they had to think for a minute what they should do. And,
you know, people thought, should you get in a doorway? Should you run
outside immediately?

But the duck, cover and hold on is really the thing that we recommend
people do. And so if there are any aftershocks, or if you feel any of
those in the coming hour, that`s exactly what you need to be doing.

JANSING: You know, obviously, the big buildings, they immediately
have engineers going in and checking them out and making sure that they
were safe and that there was no structural damage, but in that part of the
country, there are a lot of much older homes obviously not meant to
withstand earthquakes.

For the average person who might be nervous right now, what should
they do?

HOWE: Well, I think they need to make sure that they do a walk-around
through their house, make sure that there is no major obvious structural
damage. That`s the kind of thing that you want to do after any -- any
quake just to make sure that your family is safe.

It really does remind us how people need to be prepared. We don`t
necessarily think about earthquakes here. When this struck, we were
actually spending the day here at Red Cross headquarters getting ready for
Hurricane Irene. So we`re used to those kinds of things. But between
Irene and between this earthquake, it really is a great reminder for
everybody that you need to know what to do during an emergency of any kind
and you need to have certain supplies on hand as well, so great reminder
today.

JANSING: Well, can we talk a little bit about that? Because that was
again one --

HOWE: Sure.

JANSING: -- of the things that sort of -- I mean, it hits you when you
live in California or live in a -- in, say, in Florida or North Carolina,
where they get a lot of hurricanes. But wherever you are in the United
States, what should people have in an emergency kit?

HOWE: Well, you know, the emergency kit needs to contain a few basic
things. It needs to contain some food and water. Three-day supply is what
we recommend. A battery-operated radio. Of course, a flashlight. Any
kind of family paperwork you need, basic medications that you might need,
things that would you comfortable and safe and healthy during an emergency.
Throw a first-aid kit in there.

So just some basic things. Keep it in your car. Keep one in your
house. It`s just good to have those things on hand. The other thing that
I would recommend -- because here`s what I saw today. As soon as this
happened, people went outside, and the first thing they did is they got on
their BlackBerrys and they got on their phones and they started trying to
find their loved ones.

And where`s my husband? Are the schools closing? What`s going to
happen with my kids today? So a big part of this is having a family
emergency plan and knowing what you would do, where you would go and how to
get in contact with each other, because immediately people found that the
phone lines were pretty jammed here. And so they couldn`t get calls out.
So we all standing outside of our building on text. We were on Twitter all
day, really trying to figure out where our families were and what to do
next.

JANSING: Well, Laura Howe of the Red Cross, I think you have probably
still got a busy night ahead. Thank you so much.

HOWE: We do. Thanks.

JANSING: And joining me now is Dr. David Applegate, the associate
director for natural hazards at the U.S. Geological Survey.

And I understand you got caught in some traffic trying to get to our
camera, huh? How was -- how was the ride over?

DR. DAVID APPLEGATE, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR NATURAL HAZARDS, U.S.
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: That`s right. It was -- it was a bit slow, a reminder
that there are all sorts of hazards involved here.

JANSING: Well, where were you? Did you feel it? Tell me a little
bit about your sense of this earthquake.

APPLEGATE: Well, I was as the U.S. Geological Survey`s headquarter,
which is out in Reston, Virginia, not too far from Dulles Airport. And --

JANSING: And you guys actually closed, didn`t you? I heard you
closed.

APPLEGATE: That`s right. A lot of federal buildings did. I have to
admit the earthquake folks actually stayed there, stayed on the job.

We`re used to this happening to our offices out in the West Coast.
So, this was a bit of an unusual situation.

JANSING: So, what`s the first thing that you folks look for from a
technical standpoint?

APPLEGATE: Well, of course, we`re part of a partnership along with --
you know, we`re focused on the earthquake itself, how broadly it was
experienced, what are the likely losses.

We have a system called PAGER that gives us a quick look at what is
the likely fatalities, what are the likely economic losses from an order of
magnitude system. In this case, PAGER results were showing a green alert
for fatalities. We were not expecting a high likelihood of that, but we
were expecting some pretty significant damage.

It`s going to be -- this is a quake felt from all the way up in
Massachusetts down to Georgia all the way out to Ohio. There`s going to be
a lot of small damage that`s going to add up. We estimate it could be over
$100 million. It could even be up to $1 billion.

JANSING: Well, what`s the difference between earthquakes here on the
East Coast and out on the West Coast?

APPLEGATE: Well, the big difference is in how broadly they`re felt.

A magnitude-5.8 earthquake, as this one was, these happen on a fairly
regular basis out in California. The earth`s crust there is very broken
up. So the shaking will be felt in a small area.

Here, the earth`s crust, you know, we`re not at the edge of a tectonic
plate, where the plates are crashing against each other. We have very old
rocks. They`re very cold. They basically ring like a bell. So the energy
from this earthquake gets transmitted very efficiently over a very broad
area.

On top of that, you have thick sentiments that have accumulated on the
surface. So, that`s going to amplify the shaking even more. And so that`s
why you have a relatively small earthquake -- I mean, a moderate
earthquake, but this is -- this is an order of magnitude smaller than the
one, for example, that did so much damage in Haiti. And it`s several
orders of magnitude smaller than the Japan quake.

JANSING: You know, the funny thing -- it`s not funny, but the
interesting thing is that we`re in a place where you have so many older
buildings, especially around the D.C./Virginia area, and very few new
buildings, I`m guessing, that are built, as they are out on the West Coast,
to earthquake standards.

Are you surprised, though -- I don`t know how much you have had an
opportunity to hear about the damage or see the damage, but are you
surprised that it wasn`t more significant?

APPLEGATE: Well, I think we`re very fortunate that the event itself
was in a fairly rural area within -- within Virginia.

You`re absolutely right. These older buildings are the ones we`re
particularly concerned about. In fact, building codes for modern
buildings, they -- built into that are the seismic provisions from our
national seismic hazard map. We recognize that earthquakes are a national
hazard, that you can have damaging earthquakes in the Central and Eastern
U.S.

But, you know, these 19th century buildings that are unreinforced
brick come down quite easily. Even if the building itself doesn`t come
down, you can have failure of chimneys, parapets. You can get a lot of
what we would call non-structural damage. So the building itself is fine,
but you could have bookcases falling over, light fixtures.

That`s why the Red Cross mentioned, and your previous guest, drop,
cover, and hold on. Get under something sturdy, because odds are your
building may be OK, but you could still be injured by falling debris.

JANSING: David Applegate, who fought through the traffic to get on
tonight, we really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

APPLEGATE: Thank you.

JANSING: And up next, we will talk to a couple of our own
correspondents in Washington who felt the earthquake.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Welcome back.

Well, the nation`s capital definitely felt the effects of today`s rare
East Coast quake. Among other things, flights were suspended at least for
a time at all the Washington area airports, the Philadelphia Airport,
Atlantic City and a couple of New York City airports, JFK and Newark.

Now, it didn`t last long, but you know what the domino effect is when
they back up flights even for a short period of time. And when you`re
talking about major East Coast airports, that can resonate all through the
evening. So be happy if you`re not flying tonight or don`t know anybody
who is.

Let`s talk more about how D.C. was affected.

NBC`s Jim Miklaszewski there, Pete Williams.

Gentlemen, good evening.

Mik, let me start with you. How are things at the Pentagon?

JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, I was
sitting here at my plush NBC office here in Pentagon.

(LAUGHTER)

JANSING: Been there.

(LAUGHTER)

JANSING: That is the most gross overstatement of fact I may have ever
heard even on HARDBALL.

MIKLASZEWSKI: Yes. I`m just trying to make everybody feel better.

(LAUGHTER)

MIKLASZEWSKI: But -- so we were sitting here. And I was at my
computer when I suddenly felt this slight shimmer.

And, quite frankly, Chris, at that instant, I, like many other people
here in the Pentagon, thought, oh, my God, we have been hit again, because
it felt the same way here in the Pentagon as it did when American Flight 77
slammed into the building on 9/11.

But as it proceeded to shake and got ever more violent, the whole room
shook. Some books fell off our shelves on to the floor. I suddenly
realized, no, that`s an earthquake. I got up. People were running down
the hall. They were evacuating the Pentagon. Luckily, nobody here was
hurt. There was no severe damage, although there was some broken water
pipes on one of the upper floors that flooded an entire section of the
Pentagon, which is still shut down now on a corridor some couple of hundred
yards away from where we are.

And eventually they deemed the building otherwise safe, and everybody
was brought back in, no serious damage, and, of course, no injuries. But I
tell you, it did bring back some haunting memories of 10 years ago, Chris.

JANSING: Yes, here in New York as well. You know, you feel shaking
and one of the first things you think is, what`s going on?

And I have to say, Mik, when I heard where it was centered, the
Pentagon was one of the first places that I thought about, because that is
such a sprawling complex. Is it still like the biggest office complex in
the country? And, I mean --

MIKLASZEWSKI: It`s the biggest low-rise office complex. It is a huge
building.

And the fact is that it is made of solid concrete, built just before
and during the opening days of World War II. To be able to withstand the
impact of that airliner on 9/11 and just take out a small section of the
building is testament to the sheer strength of this building.

But the fact is that this building, it shook like a Jell-O mold on a
plate. That`s what it felt like.

JANSING: Let me bring in Pete Williams as well.

And, Pete, aren`t you right by the Homeland Security folks? I mean,
give us a little sense. I mean, you start to think about places like the
Pentagon and Homeland Security, and are they functioning, are they damaged?
What`s happening to folks there?

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we`re right across the
fence from them quite literally here, Chris. We`re both located in the
same parts of Washington for the same reason. We`re at a high point in the
city.

We`re at a high point so our transmitting can reach the whole city for
our affiliate. They`re at a high point because they`re jammed into
buildings that were built during World War II to house a Navy intercepting
and code-breaking facility.

But they`re right across the street. Employees there started running
out of the building on their own. There was no formal evacuation order at
first. Essential personnel stayed in, but all over town, kind of different
responses. People seemed to leave buildings on their own. There were
formal evacuations as the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and adjacent
buildings there.

And then it was just a matter of hours, as building inspectors went
around and decided whether the buildings were safe to open. Most of them
are open again. But kind of strange -- the U.S. Capitol closed, but right
across the state, the Supreme Court never closed, never stopped operations.

But in the meantime, federal officials, federal workers have been sent
home by the hundreds of thousands. Traffic is snarled all over the
Washington area. And to make matters worse, the Washington, D.C., subway
system, the Metro, many of its trains are operating at slower-than-normal
speeds because they`re trying to inspect the track at the same time the
trains are running.

So it raises some real questions about what the city would be like if
it were actually evacuated for real. But for the most part, it was more or
less business as usual. Now, tomorrow, we will see what happens, whether
all federal employees will come back as scheduled. Some of the National
Mall places will -- may or may not be open tomorrow. The Smithsonian says
they are trying to decide and inspect their buildings, some of which are
very big and old.

Similar questions about the national monuments and memorials on the
Mall, the Lincoln, the Jefferson and so forth. A lot of inspection has to
be done there, too.

JANSING: Yes, let`s hope that`s all OK. I`m thinking about all the
people who are planning this week to be the first --

WILLIAMS: Yes.

JANSING: -- to go see the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.

So, Pete Williams, thank you.

WILLIAMS: If it -- if it happens. Because of the hurricane. it may
be put off.

JANSING: Well --

(LAUGHTER)

JANSING: And then we have the hurricane coming. You`re right.

WILLIAMS: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

JANSING: Pete Williams and Jim Miklaszewski on a very busy Tuesday,
guys, thank you so much.

(CROSSTALK)

MIKLASZEWSKI: You bet, Chris.

JANSING: And up next: a different type of earthquake. It was in
Libya today, the rebels storming Moammar Gadhafi`s compound in Tripoli.
But where is he?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There were big developments in Libya today, as rebels stormed Moammar
Gadhafi`s compound in Tripoli. Gadhafi`s whereabouts, however, are still
unknown. The rebels, though, seem to have the momentum.

For more on today`s news, let`s bring in NBC News correspondent
Stephanie Gosk, who is on the phone from Djerba, Tunisia.

And I was on the air, Stephanie, earlier today around 10:00 Eastern
Time when the rebels broke through the western gate, and then it went from
there. Describe the assault as you know it.

STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, what
they did, coordinating assault and what we`ve been learning about the
rebels over the last six months is there aren`t a lot of coordinated
assaults. But in the last week or so, that`s exactly what we`ve seen. And
it was a coordination at all the gates of the compound -- in one account,
thousands of rebel forces surrounding the compound, and they engaged in a
brutal firefight for hours, but then eventually prevailed.

And you only will to look at faces of the rebels to realize how
significant and important it was for them today, practically speaking
because this was one of the last bastions of control in the city for
Gadhafi loyalists. But also symbolically and psychologically, this was
Gadhafi`s home. This is where he gave speeches. This was the center of
his power.

It was also a military compound and in a lot of ways a fortress of
his. And by taking it over and going in and raiding it and looting it, it
was a symbol of the end of his more than four decades reign.

But there`s a lot of questions that remain. First and foremost, where
is Gadhafi himself? Is his son? How much supporters he still have around
the country, particularly in places like Sirte, his hometown. This is
where his tribe is from. There`s -- you know, last week, they`ve fired two
scud missiles out of Sirte. There`s a large military presence there. So,
there could still be quite a battle there.

And there are still battles in places ongoing within the capital.
Most significantly a number of journalists, more than three dozen, or
almost three dozen are basically held inside one of Tripoli`s hotels
surrounded by a number of loyalists that are using that kind of as their
last holdout and using these journalists really as human shields.

JANSING: Stephanie Gosk, thank you so much.

Let me bring in Bobby Ghosh, who is the "Time" magazine international
editor.

You know, she talked about the symbolic importance of this. And even
over the last six months since this fighting has gone on, you know, we`ve
seen this video of Moammar Gadhafi going around in this golf cart and, you
know, that`s where he has made pronouncements from.

So, where is he?

BOBBY GHOSH, TIME: I think he`s smart enough to know that is the
first place they would look. I think his instinct would be to head south.
The east and west are both taken essentially by the rebels. He can`t go
through the sea because any European country he wants to land in will
immediately hand him over to the international court.

So south is where the desert is. South is where there are more places
to hide. South is where the rest of Africa is and places in Africa where
he is popular and well liked.

So I think every instinct of his would be to head south. The big
question is, was he able to get out of Tripoli? Because even the way out
was blocked by rebels last week when they began to come in.

JANSING: Yes. And I think the other question is, is this really
over? Even if it seems to be militarily -- is it over until we know where
Gadhafi is?

GHOSH: I think it`s over in the way that when Baghdad fell in 2003,
it didn`t matter that Saddam remained at large for another seven months.
What was important was the regime had fallen. I think we`re pretty close
to that in Tripoli. I think another day or two, if the rebels can keep
their momentum going, they can get the majority of his army to surrender,
then Gadhafi`s exact whereabouts may not matter so much. He may be in a
rat hole just as Saddam was, but his regime has fallen.

JANSING: Well, they`re certainly making plans for what to do after
this. There are going to be a series of meetings. Already, we have heard
from the transitional council, they`re talking about the money they`re
going to need, the international support, because they`re worried about
food and water and medical supplies, the kind of basic stuff.

So what`s next? Even if we don`t know where he is and there are
apparently still random pockets of fighting?

GHOSH: Well, the important thing is that these rebels, unlike let`s
say the uprising we saw in Egypt and in Tunisia, these actually have
something like a government. The transitional National Council has had six
months to prepare for this and have had help. They`d been in touch with
Western governments, with the U.S. government.

So, they have a certain amount of expertise and a certain amount of
organization. It may not be terrific, but it is there.

So, it could be easier for them to get the ball rolling than we`ve
seen elsewhere.

JANSING: Is this going to be perceived do you think here, or
certainly internationally, as vindication for Obama`s actions in Libya and
as you well know and our viewers certainly know, there`s so much criticism
from people like John McCain that the U.S. wasn`t doing enough?

GHOSH: I don`t think internationally, certainly not in Libya --
people are not thinking of the U.S. right now. I think years from now,
anyway, months from now, when people look back, that might be the
conclusion for the U.S., did they make the right call. Right now, it`s all
about the rebels. Right now, it`s about finally freeing this country from
Gadhafi`s rule after 42 years.

Who exactly gets how much of the credit, that is something for the
historians to work out.

JANSING: What`s your gut tell you? We`re going to find Gadhafi soon?
Is he going to be in a bunker somewhere seven months from now?

GHOSH: I don`t think it will take seven months. I think we`ll find
him sooner. And I think he will be found hiding like a rat.

JANSING: Bobby Ghosh, good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

GHOSH: Thanks.

JANSING: Up next, switching gears to local politics. Republican
presidential candidate Rick Perry -- get this -- comparing African-
American`s struggle for civil rights with the GOP`s fight for lower taxes.
We`ll break that down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: We are back.

And Rick Perry has recently been receiving scrutiny for beliefs
expressing his 2010 political manifesto. But a comment about civil rights
over this past weekend has managed to overshadow that book completely.
Perry was in Rock Hill, South Carolina, this past Saturday. He was asked a
question about the significance of the civil rights movement and sit-ins.
He gives this winding answer and then ends up comparing the civil rights
struggle to Republicans` fight for corporate tax rates.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America`s gone a long
way from the standpoint of civil rights and thank God we have. I mean,
we`ve gone from a country that`s made great strides in issues of civil
rights. I think we all can be proud of that.

And as we go forward, America needs to be about freedom. It needs to
be about freedom from over taxation, freedom from over-litigation, freedom
from over-regulation. And Americans, regardless of social and economic
background is, they need to know that they can come to America and you got
a chance to have any dream come true, because the economic climate is going
to be improved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: So, does Perry really believe African-Americans` struggle
for civil rights is comparable to the GOP`s fight for lower taxes?

Joining me now to talk about this is MSNBC political analyst and
"Huffington Post" reporter Alex Wagner.

OK. Is this ignorance? He was asked about the friendship nine sit-
in, so maybe he didn`t know what it was, so is it ignorance of the civil
rights? Complete insensitivity?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think -- well, I do think it
demonstrates a certain if not profound insensitivity to the struggle that
minorities, the black experience in America, especially at this time.

I mean, if you look at what`s happened to minorities, if you look at
the disparity between rich and poor, you know, the numbers from the census
show that white Americans make, on average, 20 times more than black
families, 18 times more than Hispanic. You know, one of the things Dr.
King fought for was social and economic justice. For him to tie, you know,
corporate tax rates to the civil rights movement, again, I think
demonstrates a profound insensitivity to at least the struggle if not the
teachings.


JANSING: And this is just the latest. I mean, when you look at this
series of quotes from the book, some of which he`s backing off on, you have
to sit back as a political analyst and say, is he too far off even for the
GOP?

WAGNER: Sure. You know, this is also not the first time Rick Perry
has shot his mouth off. We have the stories about him wanting to kneecap
Ben Bernanke. Rick Perry marches to the tune as his own -- walks to the
beat of his own drum.

I think that there is a real concerned on the part of the
establishment GOP that he`s not ready for primetime, that he`s really got
to walk back some of his rhetoric. This certainly doesn`t do anything to
improve that image, especially, you know, we`re about to see the unveiling
of the MLK memorial in Washington. And as I said, the country is facing
particularly difficult economic -- particularly difficult economic climate.

Have we seen any sort of symbol from the Perry camp that this is maybe
not something he should have said? No, not as of yet.

JANSING: Yes. You even have people like Peter King saying you can`t
be calling Bernanke a traitor and you can`t be questioning whether or not
Barack Obama loves America, that type of thing. So, there`s a Republican
who`s saying that.

Let me play for you also something that Mitt Romney had to say,
because this really I think speaks to the larger sort of GOP theme here.
Let me play this for you.

We don`t have it?

All right. So, I`m going to read it. I have to put my glasses on,
though.

WAGNER: Go ahead.

JANSING: All right. Romney on corporations at the Iowa state fair --
"Corporations are people, my friend. Of course, they are. Everything
corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it
goes? Whose pockets? People`s pockets. Human beings, my friend."

Is this a theme that we`re going to hear?

WAGNER: Yes, what I don`t understand -- I mean, a couple things
there, Chris. One is the GOP has shown a resilience. You know, every time
someone says, hey, that`s not appropriate, Mitt Romney got all sort of
blowback for saying corporations are people, too -- and yet it doesn`t
create pause. There is -- seemingly, they are well to go too far ends of
the earth to demagogue these financial issues.

And we forget perhaps sometimes that Dr. King`s teachings, the civil
rights teachings led to the establishment of Johnson`s Great Society
programs, which was government taking a role to decrease the gap between
the haves and the have-nots. That is -- those are the very principles that
Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have called into question with their own
economic policies.

I mean, it is I think hypocrisy on a level that we have not seen yet
in American politics.

JANSING: And you got to wonder, does it create an opening for
somebody else to get in here?

WAGNER: Right.

JANSING: You know, despite that they may say no, no, no, could Chris
Christie get in? Or, you know, we heard Marco Rubio, you know, he was
invited to the Reagan Library to speak. So, he`s going to be there. You
have to wonder if there`s an opening for someone who is not Sarah Palin.

WAGNER: Well, sure. I mean, I think that`s why you see every week,
well, someone else could get it. That`s why Paul Ryan has to kind of keep
coming back to the stump to say "I am not running for president." I mean,
there`s a real, I think, hunger for someone who is not a very far right
conservative, but who can speak sort to the conservative fiscal principles.
And that person is not yet on the stage I think for a lot of Americans.

JANSING: All right. Alex Wagner, good to see you. Thanks for coming
in.

WAGNER: Thanks, Chris.

JANSING: And when we come back, the latest on the East Coast
earthquake.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

And once again, the big story of the day, the East Coast earthquake.

Joining me from just outside 30 Rock, NBC`s Peter Alexander.

A 5.8, not that much probably compared to what you might have thought
when you`re living out in California. But what`s going on there in New
York? Because people, you know, I think it`s the whole 9/11 thing. And,
you know, Pete Williams and Jim Miklaszewski were addressing this in
Washington.

You know, when it first starts to happen, you don`t know what`s going
on and it`s a little scary.

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there`s definitively an
added sensitivity in this part of the country. Certainly, here in New York
City, we could use a duck-and-cover lesson every child in California learns
when an earthquake hits. You duck and cover, getting beneath your desk or
somewhere else.

Here, instead, people are unsure of what happened. They rushed to the
streets. Some running down 50, even 60 flights of stairs to get there.

What if nothing else this revealed is that we`ve changed the way we
communicate. Some people learning about the quake by Twitter before they
even felt it, seconds or even a minute later. And others trying to reach
loved ones at home, but no longer using home phones. They tried on the
cell phones, and those, Chris, suffered serious congestion for a period of
time. There were some urgent moments right after this quake took place as
few people were able to reach each other because of the call -- cell
service lines -- Chris.

JANSING: Give us a sense of what you saw in just the minutes after it
happened. You know, it was kind of weird in New York actually because it
did seem like certain parts of the city didn`t feel it at all, other parts
of the city felt it pretty good.

ALEXANDER: You know how this goes. Sometimes, people say what are
you talking about? And others that`s never crazy. I felt it anything like
it.

I felt it. I`m from California. It was familiar. It`s certainly not
familiar in this part of the country. As I ran to the window -- which
frankly is what you`re not supposed to do, but I wasn`t sure what it was
initially -- I saw a lot of people looking out windows of the other
skyscrapers throughout this area, looking to see other people`s reactions.
You can tell from all the wide eyes that we didn`t know what the heck was
going on or certainly a lot of people didn`t know what was going on.

The good news, if there`s anything tonight, Chris, it might be an easy
commute home. A lot of people left work early today.

JANSING: Thanks, Peter Alexander. And that`s going to do it for
HARDBALL. Thanks for being with us. We`ll have another live edition in an
hour.

Now, Al Sharpton.

END
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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