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Coverage of the Boston Bombings; Talking with Area Journalists; Examining the Debris

Aired April 16, 2013 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Boston's journalists and photographers and writers, they're capturing this city like they never have before.

I want to show you the picture. This is the front cover of "The Boston Globe" this morning, and inside was an incredibly poignant piece I just wanted to share with you, It was penned by "Globe" columnist and Boston native Kevin Cullen.

It unleashes some rage and a lot of questions. Let me read you just the first couple of lines.

Quote, "It was as good a Patriots Day, as good a marathon day as any -- dry and unseasonably warm, but not hot like last year."

He goes on. "In an instant a perfect day had morphed into something viscerally evil."

Kevin Cullen joins me live. And, Kevin, the last time we talked, you were talking about Whitey Bulger and your book, and never in a million years did I think we would be having this conversation.

I read this column at 2:00 this morning. I can only imagine you penned it pretty late last night. Why did you write it?

KEVIN CULLEN, COLUMNIST, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Yeah. Well, I guess I wanted to try to capture what happened yesterday and what it meant to all of us here.

But also, this is obviously bigger than a Boston story. If you go down to the finish line there, every year, all the flags from the different countries, all the runners there, are lined on Boylston Street.

Boston is an international city anyway, but it's never more international than on marathon Monday, on Patriots Day.

And it was striking to me if you watched the first responders when they jumped out and they ran toward the bomb, and they had to pull the barriers back. They had to throw all those flags on the street on Boylston Street.

As I described it in my column, those flags almost looked like victims, that they were splayed on the street. And in some ways they were victims because, what happened yesterday wasn't an attack on the Boston marathon, it wasn't an attack on Boston or Bostonians, it was an attack on all of us.

BALDWIN: You know, one of the questions you ask and we don't yet have an answer, as far as whether or not there is a culprit or culprits are foreign or domestic, you write, could this be some lunatic from within the United States among us or could it be a foreign connection?

And I've had two conversations with two different New Yorkers today, having -- they've gone through 9/11, and they said, in their opinion, it would be worse if it was an American, some lunatic who did this.

Do you think it would matter to you?

CULLEN: I don't think it matters to the families that were victimized yesterday. I don't think it matters to the first responders who were traumatized by what they saw. I don't think it matters at that level.

I think the mindset of anybody that would do that, whether they're domestic or foreign, it's the same. It's dehumanizing the people they attacked.

I presume the person who did it may or may not have children, and some day that child might say, daddy, what did you do in the war?

And if that person's honest, they'll say, "I killed an 8-year-old boy. His name was Martin Richard. That's what I did during the war."

BALDWIN: It's heartbreaking, absolutely heart breaking.

If I may, I just want to read the final paragraph of your piece, Kevin.

Quote, :President Obama asked the rest of the country to pray for Boston. But we need more than prayers. We need answers. We need peace of mind.

And we'll never have that again on Patriots Day, ever, because somebody came out here on our Patriots Day and launched their own revolution."

Peace of mind, you say, looking ahead, impossible?

CULLEN: No, I don't think it is impossible. And I didn't mean to imply that whoever did this had won in any way, fashion.

I feel just the opposite. Walking around town today, it reminds me I was in (inaudible) in Northern Ireland when 28 people and an unborn child were murdered by terrorists.

I was on London on 7/7, the day after 7/7, the bombings, and what I saw in those places, in (inaudible) and London, I saw today. People are defiant.

They're mad, they're angry, they're sad, but they will not be beaten. If those guys, whoever did this, think they beat us, they don't know this town.

BALDWIN: They don't know Bostonians.

Kevin Cullen with "The Boston Globe," thank you and thanks for writing this piece.


ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, "AC 360": Thanks, Brooke.

Brooke, joining us now with some new information in the investigation, CNN analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes. and HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks.

Tom, let's start with the bombs, what we now know. We are now hearing these bombs were put in pressure cookers, likely involved a timing device. What do you make of that?

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, I'd like to know what the basis is that it is pressure cookers because the bomb characteristics look very much like a typical pipe bomb.

And a pressure cooker would act like that, and I know from other incidents that pressure cookers have been used, basically, to use for land -- excuse me, land mines in places like Colombia or in the Middle East.

I'm not aware of one offhand where a pressure cooker was used domestically, an actual crock pot or slow cooker, because a pipe bomb would be easier to use and just screw on the caps at the end of the pipe after you've inserted the explosive and the detonator and then placed it in a container that has other debris or nails or shrapnel and exploded that way.

So I'm not sure. I haven't seen the direct evidence that the pressure cookers were used that way, but certainly it would have acted with similar fashion to a pipe bomb.

COOPER: And, Tom, the reports that it was likely a timing device, not remote detonation through a cell phone, the significance of that?

FUENTES: Well, it means that it could have been carried out by one person, go to one location, place the device there with a timer set to go off at approximately 3:00 p.m., then go to the second location and place the device and then walk away and be gone when both go off.

So that's a possibility, depending on how heavy the backpacks were that maybe had the amount of explosives in them, if that's how they were transported.

So you could easily have conducted this attack with one or two people doing it.

COOPER: Mike Brooks, in terms of future sporting events, security of future sporting events, any large gathering of people, it is in many ways a miracle that this has not happened before this in a movie theater or something like this, with a backpack bomb.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, you're right, Anderson.

We just had the Final Four here in Atlanta, right next to CNN Center where I am here, and, you know, I was talking to some security personnel here in Atlanta this morning and we were saying, you know, we're glad that that didn't happen here because of the mass amount of people.

And Centennial Olympic Park, you know, Tom Fuentes was running the show back in 1996 when the bomb went off right across the street from here.

And I was in D.C. with the FBI joint terrorism task force running down leads in reference to that case.

But I think you're going to see a lot of vigilance and I think that's the key word right now, Anderson, is vigilance.

Sometimes I think we have become a little complacent here in the United States, but something like this is a vigilance alert to people across the country.

COOPER: Tom Fuentes, appreciate you joining us, Mike Brooks as well.

We're going to talk more about the investigation and also this story now about American Airlines stopping all flights until at least 5:00 p.m., trying to get more information on exact causes of that.

They say it is a computer glitch. Details ahead.


BALDWIN: Un Boston, we are getting some news as far as American Airlines is concerned.

We know that they have grounded their planes until at least 5:00 Eastern time tonight.

Let's go to Maribel Aber in New York with more. Maribel, what do you know?


Well, as you mentioned earlier, the airline reported a problem with its reservation and booking tool, American noting that it was experiencing intermittent outages. That's what they're calling it.

Just want to get you some stats here. American estimates that it flies about 275,000 passengers a day, receives more than 239,000 reservation calls and also flies per day about 3,400 flights.

According to their website, they're saying here, "American's network system is experiencing these outages.

"At this time, we are in a system-wide ground delay that will last until 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.

"As we work it resolve this issue as quickly as we can, we apologize for any inconvenience."

Just, Brooke, from a corporate standpoint here, American Airlines is bankrupt. It's in the process of merging with US Airways, but two things I do want to let viewers know here.

If you are a passenger, there is no charge for a reservation change if your plans are flexible.

Second point here, they will give a full refund if your plans are not flexible.

And we have reached out to American, to see how many people have been grounded and find out more information. So stand by for that, Brooke. That's what we know.

BALDWIN: OK. As soon as you get that, Maribel, we'll put you in front of the camera and pass that along to possible travelers today. Thank you very much.

We have heard now from the president. He spoke late this morning.

We know, of course, that the White House is very deep involved in this hunt to find the person or persons responsible for the travesty that happened yesterday at the finish line of the Boston marathon.

What we have now just heard from the vice president, Joe Biden, we will play that clip for you right after this. Be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to our live coverage from Boston, our continuing coverage of the Boston area bombings.

CNN's Jim Acosta just recently spoke to Vice President Joe Biden. Let's briefly check in with him.

Jim, what did the vice president say?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We caught up with Vice President Joe Biden as he was heading into an event to honor former congressional staffer Gabe Zimmerman, the staffer gunned down in the shooting that also wounded former Congressman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.

That event is going on now. The vice president is speaking right now.

As he was heading into that event, we threw a quick question at Mr. Biden about the events up in Boston, what, if anything, he knows about the investigation. And he acknowledged that the government at this point doesn't have any hard information as he called it in this case. Here is what he had to say.


ACOSTA: Mr. Vice President, any comment on what is happening in Boston right now?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We're going to get to the bottom of this. We don't have any hard information yet, but I can assure you we will find out who did it and bring them to justice.

ACOSTA: No sense as to whether this is domestic or foreign-based?

BIDEN: Not yet.


ACOSTA: And you can hear there, as the vice president was walking away, the words, "not yet."

He doesn't know yet whether or not the attack up in Boston was domestic or foreign-based, but he said what he said just a few moments ago, inside this event honoring Gabe Zimmerman, the government will get to the bottom of this. He's assuring Americans of that.

And, Anderson, from being on Capitol Hill all day long, talking to a variety of senators, a lot of senators are expressing the same thought. They just don't know what happened in Boston. They are grappling for answers like everybody else.

COOPER: Yes, it may be a while before we know.

Very active investigation on multiple fronts, both here, in Boston, in Washington, around the country, and really around the world. A lot of resources being pulled into this.

Jake Tapper joins me now. You spoke with an E.R. doctor who was on the scene at the end of the marathon, and lives were saved because triage areas had already been set up because it was the end of the race.

JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": It is really an incredible story. There were so many doctors and nurses who had volunteered.

We spoke with one of them, Dr. Christina Hernon. She works at UMass Memorial. She talked about the experience, her seventh Boston marathon, volunteering, and she talked to us about her experience tending to these patients who had injuries she was not expecting.


DR. CHRISTINA HERNON, UMASS MEMORIAL HEALTH CARE: Every single patient there is vulnerable, and injured as they were, had at their side a doctor or a nurse or a medical student or an athletic training student, all these volunteers, who wanted to be nowhere -- nowhere else -- other than at the side of that injured, vulnerable patient.


COOPER: You know, it really bears repeating, just the courage of the first responders and citizens, and doctors and nurses, but also just regular citizens, who ran toward the blast to roll up their sleeves and do whatever they could.

TAPPER: And that's incredible and that's exactly what she talked about, in the interview which we'll play a little bit more of coming up on "The Lead" at 4:00 Eastern, is there were all these doctors and nurses.

These are not people who are used to wartime situations ...

COOPER: Right.

TAPPER: ... and people called out, "We need doctors. We need nurses. We need help." And they all ran outside into the danger.

COOPER: I just talked to a doctor who was himself running in the race, turned right around and went to help people.

Jake is going to be on just in about 15 minutes from now, I guess, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern for his program. He's going to be taking over coverage, so we look forward to that. I'll see you in just a moment.

We're going to be talking to a "Boston Globe" photographer who was covering the race and found himself on a completely different kind of story, next.


BALDWIN: You know, here in Boston we're talking to all kinds of different people about what they saw, what they heard yesterday at the finish line for Boston's marathon when the two explosions occurred.

We've heard from people who ran the race, from family members who were standing by. We've talked to doctors here at hospitals, but we're also hearing from the journalists who were here covering the great city of Boston.

Don Lemon actually caught up with one of them, a senior photojournalist with "The Boston Globe."

Don, tell me about his pictures.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, it's amazing. As you know, many times we'll be standing here interviewing and the story will unfold in front of us. We capture something on tape that is unbelievable.

That happened to Dave Abel who, as you said, is a senior reporter and photographer for "The Boston Globe." Take a look at my interview with him earlier.


DAVID ABEL, "BOSTON GLOBE" REPORTER AND PHOTOGRAPHER: One of the worst things I've ever seen in my life, things nobody ever wants to see.

I saw people dying. I saw mangled bodies. I saw a lot of blood, broken glass, a lot of pain.

LEMON: Yeah, people dying.

I see that you saw, in the video, there of people being carted away, and this has really affected you. I can tell.

ABEL: Yeah. Yeah.


ABEL: You know, we cover a lot of things as reporters and we -- it takes a little while for us to figure out the effects of it and I'm sure this has affected me.

I think the images that I saw sort of seared into my brain.

LEMON: How many people do you think you saw who were injured? How many people you think you saw who had died and lost limbs?

ABEL: So I was basically adjacent to a large group of people that had been knocked down. A lot of those people had lost limbs, they were bleeding profusely, and a lot of them were just in pure agony.


LEMON: And as we stood there in front of that barricade with all the Mylar and all of the trappings of the marathon still here, still up and running, really, Brooke, what he said to me -- I thought it was really poignant -- he said, "This is the unfinished marathon."

And he doesn't know if it will ever be finished.

BALDWIN: You know, Don, I also just wanted to ask you, because I know you've been here in Boston all day long and I just flew in from New York a couple hours ago.

And the two things I noticed in the airport was, one, for obvious reasons, an upped security presence, a lot of police around, but two, I saw a lot of people waiting at their gates in the turquoise and yellow Adidas marathon jackets.

And it really is a show of solidarity and community. And I'm just curious if you've been out and about in the city, have you noticed the same?

LEMON: I have. I have been out and about in the city and talking to a lot of people, a lot of people coming up to us saying, hey, listen, this doesn't happen in the United States, this doesn't happen here in the Back Bay.

And one thing that I thought was also very interesting that a runner who was there with his two children and his wife, said to me, you know what? I never really thought about it, but this is what terrorism feels like. We're afraid. We're scared.

And they want to get out of here and they want to go back to Ohio and get back to a normal life.

BALDWIN: The sheer definition just being terrorized.

But as another reporter from "The Boston Globe" told me, it is also about bouncing back.

Don Lemon in Boston, Don, thank you.

We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: You know, in stories like these, sadly, as journalists, we tend to cover a number of these tragedies that hit cities across the country and around the world.

I am always amazed and impressed and truly inspired by the people who run into the burning buildings, run toward the smoke.

We witnessed that just yesterday here in Boston, not just EMS or firefighters, but ordinary people.

Take a look at these iReports.

And that does it for me. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live today in Boston.

Jake Tapper takes it from here. Jake?