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Boston Marathon Terror Attack; Interview with Don Borelli, Former Member of FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force

Aired April 16, 2013 - 06:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN viewers around the world. Our continuing coverage of the chaos that struck Boston yesterday. You watch it. You hear it.

The bombs that marked the Boston Marathon. Two explosive devices. A nation now recoiling from another terror attack on American soil.


BOB O'DONNELL, BOSTON MARATHON SPECTATOR: An awful thing right at the finish line, right at the point where a lot of people were, you know, just coming in.


CUOMO: SWAT teams are going by. The urgency here continues. The FBI, of course, heading up the search for whomever was responsible for this act of terror.

This morning, the question of how they exploited a potential gap in the security of this city and this marathon.

We welcome you back here now. I'm Chris Cuomo, just outside Copley Square.

This is where the explosions happened, as over 25,000 people were involved in this from over 100 countries. This cultural event known as the Boston Marathon marred by the two explosions. This city now, nothing here is over.

You hear the sounds of sirens as this investigation continues. People are fighting for their lives this morning because of what happened yesterday. The investigation continuing SWAT teams and different types of federal agencies that are trying to contain the situation, pick up all information.

The toll obviously always told in human loss. We know there are close to 150 people who are gravely injured. Three lives lost.

One picture we'll show you this morning, an 8-year-old boy lost his life here. "The Boston Globe" identifying him as Martin Richard. He's holding a sign of his name, a beautiful young boy here with his family -- his mother, his sister, and his daddy. His daddy was running the race.

They walked out to the sidewalk to give him that hug of congratulations. Little Martin lost his life. His sister gravely injured. His mother, as well.

In the hospitals right now, 17 people still in critical condition, 25 in serious condition. We've heard of having forced amputations. Some people dismembered at the scene. A need for more surgery to fight ongoing. Fortunately, if we can use that word, in Boston, the medical and trauma staff so topnotch that so much life is being saved that could have been lost.

Who's in charge of the investigation? The FBI now. It is a criminal investigation, of course.

Overnight federal, state and local law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant at an apartment in Revere, Massachusetts, about five miles from Boston.

Why? We're not sure.

We believe that they went out. They left with bags of evidence. It could be a couple of reasons for that. One, specific information that they may have gotten from a man who is in the hospital right now. No word as to his definite connection to the event. Also, they could be looking for trace materials from explosions.

Bombs tell a story. And how they go off, how they're made, and what they're made of. They show us windows into the sophistication of who could have done something like this. And what was needed to do it that we can trace to any type of desire and process of acquiring what was needed, the ingredients for this bomb.

Now, as you can hear, the sounds of this mostly just a very busy part of downtown Boston. Other than traffic on this avenue that was just opened, very quiet. Why? The investigation.

The National Guard patrolling the streets. Many different federal agencies all trying to figure out what happened, casting a very wide net, collecting cell phone data. All types of closed circuit televisions.

But as we said in the beginning, this is about what happened to the people. The people who are still fighting for their lives.

We have Poppy Harlow. She's at one of the hospitals that's been treating people all night, overnight, to make sure they stay alive.

Poppy, thank you for joining us again this morning. What's the latest from there?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, as you said the people fighting for their life. I was just looking and I watched a young man and a young woman cross the street and walk in to Brigham and Women University and I thought God bless them, because they are going to help some of these people today, 144 people. That is the current count of those injured from this devastating attack. Three fatalities, 17 in critical condition. Another 25 at this hour seriously injured.

The beautiful young boy that you mentioned, Martin Richard, who lost his life, he is among many children who were at this event. Eight children are still considered injured. We don't know the level, the severity of their injuries at this hour. We can also tell you that 10 people, Chris, have had to undergo amputations.

And when you talk about the range of injuries, you're talking about such a wide array. Everything from scrapes and bruises to severe, complex amputations that will require multiple surgeries, and looking at the ages, what it appears from doctors that we talked to overnight, is that some as young as two years old have been injured and are being treated. Some as old as 71 years old are being injured and are being treated.

Multiple doctors say they have seen some injuries like this. Of course they've had to do amputations. But never before have they seen the quantity or the rush into their E.R. that they had to see last night, describing the shrapnel that they had to remove from the limbs. Often, it's been the lower extremities where most of the injury has occurred because of the IED-like devices that exploded, Chris. That's what they're dealing with currently at this hour at this hospital and at hospitals across Boston.

CUOMO: All right, Poppy, thanks. Please keep us updated there.

A lot of people still fighting for their lives. And we have to follow them and make sure they make it through. Lots of thoughts and prayers with people this morning.

You spent as much time in Iraq as anybody as I know when we were working together at ABC. These types of bombs, these explosions knocking limbs off, very common there and a little bit of a window into what they're looking at in the investigation.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. You know, I was speaking to someone who was right at the scene of the explosion last night, someone with experience in law enforcement here, but also overseas. And he was telling me it felt very much like that. As he was looking around in the seconds after the blast, the scattering of people away from the blast, so reminiscent, he said, of Iraq. And also the nature of the injuries he was seeing.

He said it reminded him of a crude device, perhaps, because all the injuries from the knee and below, he was telling me. But again, you know, not the type of thing you're used to seeing in the United States.

Chris, there's so much going on here this morning. You know, we've seen National Guard convoys drive right behind us. We saw those SWAT teams pass by in their vans. Not a common sight at all in Boston, but a reminder that this investigation is very, very active right now.

And overnight there were developments. There was a raid at this apartment building in Revere, Massachusetts, about five miles from where we're standing in the heart of downtown Boston right now.

Investigators were seen leaving with what we imagined are bags of evidence from that search. We're told no one's under arrest from that search. But again, certainly very, very interesting.

Our Susan Candiotti is following the investigation as part of our team coverage of this event. She has that part of the story. What do you know this morning, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John and Chris. Yes, we'd certainly like to know more about what happened in Revere. As you know, we were on the scene for several hours. That's how long authorities were there getting there around 5:30 in the afternoon, spending until about 2:00 in the morning there, as you said, removing some bags of materials.

The question is, was that -- and checking out an apartment in that building. The question is, is that connected to anyone who was injured or was a part, believed to be a part of this alleged attack, this terrorist attack?

Now, we are looking in to reports, certainly we know from a law enforcement official, that they have questioned someone who was described as a Saudi national who had one of his legs wounded who remains under police guard at the hospital, who was, of course, injured in the blast. No one is saying that this person is being called a suspect at this time. But certainly it is someone that they have been talking with.

Also, they have issued a BOLO -- a be on the lookout. This being issued to various law enforcement groups by the FBI, telling people to be on the lookout for someone who is described as a dark-skinned or a black male, possibly with a foreign accent, who was wearing a black backpack, and a black sweat shirt, who may have been trying to gain access to a restricted area.

As we have indicated at this time, no one is yet taking responsibility for this attack.


RICK DESLAURIERS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: This will be a combined federal, state and local effort. It will be an ongoing investigation. It is a criminal investigation that is -- has the potential, is a potential terrorist investigation.

ED DAVIS, BOSTON POLIC COMMISSIONER: This cowardly act will not be taken in stride. We will turn every rock over to find the people who were responsible for this.


CANDIOTTI: I was also speaking with someone in the intelligence community who said that it's interesting to take note of the timing of these two blasts. Why did the attacker or attackers choose to blow up these bombs at the finish line? Now it is when a large number of people who run these marathons and finish in a certain average time, four hours into the race, are completing the event. But it's also curious to note: why didn't they choose, perhaps, to strike at the beginning of the race when you had the greatest number of people at that starting line?

Regardless, that's what they're trying to figure out as they look at whether people might have had problems getting to where they wanted to be, to blow up these bombs. But certainly at this point, they're most interested in looking at those devices, picking them apart, that might give them clues about who built these bombs -- Chris and John.

CUOMO: All right, Susan, thank you very much. Obviously, we've got people in place all over the place trying to gather as much information, such a rapidly developing investigation. We'll be back to Susan for sure.

We're going to be joined by Don Borelli out of New York. He's the CEO of the Soufan Group and former assistant special agent in charge of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Don, thank you very much.

We're trying to get an understanding of what's going on. We know that this is obviously being done by JTTF here. We know no one's taken responsibility for this. So moving what backwards, process of exclusion, how is the process and procedure of this investigation moving forward?

DON BORELLI, FORMER MEMBER, FBI JOINT TERRORISM TASK FORCE: Well, there's a lot of investigative work being done right now. I was watching some of the folks from the medical side talk about triage last night. And I think you can use that same term for the investigation, and what the JTTF in Boston is doing right now and that is triage.

They're getting so much information from physical evidence collected at the crime scene. The remnants of the bomb, trying to put together the bomb and figure out what that signature is, and who might have built it, and where those components came from. You've got video cameras. You've got public calling in with leads.

So you're getting this mass amount of information and trying to sort through it. With that said, I definitely take last night's events particularly the search of the apartment, whether it was obtained by a search warrant, which means that probable cause had to be obtained before a judge would issue that warrant, or it was obtained by voluntary consent. Either way, that's a positive development.

In addition, while we're reluctant to say what the official status is of this person that's in custody, it's certainly curious that police reports that, you know, he's under heavy guard. He's being questioned at length, which possibly means that he's being questioned under the public safety exception, where they're trying to get information as to any more bombs, anybody else that may be involved in this investigation, that kind of the intelligence gathering has also been ramped up by virtue of these interviews.

CUOMO: Don, interesting point you made. John, I know you want to pick up on about this probable cause. If that was what it was, it was an exercised warrant. That means they are working off information. But there's still a lot of questions and different ways they can go, right?

BERMAN: Obviously, it could be voluntarily as you said, Don. They could be questioning someone who said, sure, go ahead, look at my apartment. But the fact that they took out bags of evidence.

What kind of evidence do you take out of an apartment when you're searching it in a situation like this? We talking about hard drives from computers?

BORELLI: We're talking about all of the above. Hard drives from computers can be important. Of course, any manuals that look like they pertain to making bombs, any physical evidence, tools, electronic components, types, powder, anything that could be connected to this investigation. It's going to be a pretty broad, I think, interpretation of what investigators would be allowed to take.

BERMAN: All right. Don Borelli, former member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force -- thank you so much for joining us this morning.

There is so much to talk about with this investigation.

Coming up right here on CNN, CNN's live, extensive team coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, including, we're going to hear about the response from the White House. What they did last night. What they did overnight. What they are promising to do today. What actions they'll take as this morning progresses.

CUOMO: We do know anybody who is here in Boston can tell you there are agencies that you rarely see in place in the big city canvassing the area right now looking for clues, doing their best. When we come back, we'll find out the latest about what they believe may have triggered this attack.



GOV. DEVAL PATRICK, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We are all coming together to do everything we can to get to the bottom of this.


BERMAN: Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick right there. Welcome back to this special edition of EARLY START. We are following all the breaking news in the aftermath of the terrorist attack that literally blew up the Boston Marathon. Welcome to our viewers in the United States. Welcome to our viewers all around the world.

New overnight, state, federal, local agencies spent hours searching an apartment in Revere, Massachusetts. That's about five miles from downtown Boston. We do not know if any arrests were made there.

CUOMO: We do know that one of the three people killed in the twin bombings has been identified. You've been hearing about him since this started, the eight-year-old boy. His name, Martin Richard, the family from Dorchester. The whole family had been here to watch the daddy run the marathon. They all went out to the sidewalk for that big group hug in celebration and something terrible happened.

This little boy lost his life. His sister lost her leg. And the mother is also fighting in the hospital this morning. Just one family's story that was torn apart in this normally bustling downtown area, normally cultural explosion and celebration, not tragedy like what we had yesterday. Six blocks square shut down as authorities investigate overnight.

You could see them canvassing different agencies working together, leaving the scene. We've heard about at least one search. Bags of evidence out. The scene still secure, watching National Guard patrolling.

BERMAN: Yes. We can see very much the investigation going on right behind us as National Guard convoys pass behind us. SWAT team vans have been driving by. And as you said, a six-block area on Boylston Street, a key business area, shopping area. The Boston Public Library is shut down this morning. Still very much a crime scene going on right here in Boston. But, this isn't just a story about Boston right now. It's very much a national story.

And President Obama, overnight, getting briefed by his homeland security and counterterrorism advisers on the response and the investigation into these explosions. The president directing his team to make sure that all federal resources are available to support these efforts. President Obama is promising, you heard the words last night, the full weight of justice for those responsible for bombing the Boston Marathon.

That was speaking last night at the White House. He also said that the U.S. would find out who did it, and the U.S. would find out why. The president was also reaching out to leaders of Congress saying this is the time for unity among Americans.

CUOMO: And certainly, you feel it here in this city. People came together in a unique way. It is always when we see one of these situations, the worst brings out the best, and people, but let's figure out what happens next. How do we figure this out? Certainly, it's emanating from the White House.

We have Brianna Keilar. She's standing by there for us with the latest. Brianna, what do we know now?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Chris and John. Well, obviously, the key steps for the administration here is trying to figure out who and why, two questions that, at this point, are still very much unknown. As you mentioned, John, President Obama received an update overnight from one of his homeland security advisers. We know that he will be briefed later this morning by that homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, as well as by the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, and his other senior members of his team. He did find out about this initially around 3:00 p.m. eastern time yesterday. He took to the podium a little after 6:00 p.m., promising that the U.S. will respond.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn't jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But, make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this, we'll find out why they did this. Any response -- any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.


KEILAR: The White House released a photo of President Obama on the phone with the FBI director yesterday, flanked by Lisa Monaco as well as his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, but conspicuously absent from his comments in the briefing room yesterday was a mention of the word that this is an act of terror or terrorism. Now, talking to aides behind the scenes, they say, indeed, this is terrorism.

They say any time you have multiple explosive devices, it is an act of terror. It's going to be treated as such. But, it just sort of goes to the point, Chris and John, that it is very important for President Obama to be careful about how this is characterized. The lesson that certainly was learned after Benghazi when he said there was an act of terror but it became a political football and people were wondering if the administration really had a clear grip on the facts.

BERMAN: Brianna Keilar at the White House. Words do matter, and the president clearly choosing them very, very carefully. Brianna, our thanks to you.

CUOMO: There has been pushed back was not using that word a suggestion that the president wasn't being as hard as he needed to be on our perceived enemies, but you have to understand, there is a third way through this type of situation. It's not left or right. It's legal. And when something is terrorism, it requires a certain objective proof in the Department of Justice.

So, you don't want to handcuff yourself, so to speak, before you know everything that's going on. Obviously, just want to figure out who did it. And the investigative, obviously, goes along with the human here. This is not over. The injuries for people still fighting in the hospital.

BERMAN: Not over in the hospital. Not over on the streets here as we have seen this investigation developing right around us all morning. And all morning, we will be covering this as it develops.

Stay with us, because these injuries that we've seen, they're being compared to injuries like we've seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're going to talk about how these injuries might be treated when we come back after the break.


BERMAN: Welcome back to our live team coverage of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. I'm John Berman live in Boston this morning.

CUOMO: I'm Chris Cuomo here with John. We're learning here that the bombs reminiscent of what's being made in Iraq. We're learning that people on the ground here yesterday with experience at war wound up putting those skills to the test right there, saving lives in the hospital. Doctors treating it the same way as if it were a war zone. How do you help these people stay alive going forward?

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is joining us right now. Elizabeth, what can you tell us -- excuse the noise -- what can you tell us about the types of treatments specific to these injuries, the fights that are going on right now?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, last night, you and I spoke with nurses who were there on the scene. They were at the tent near the finish line when they heard the explosion, they ran out. They said glass and blood were everywhere. They saw many people who had lost limbs. Let's take a listen to what they had to deal with.


STEPHEN SEGATORE, FIRST RESPONDER: I treated both a double amputee. I treated a young child and I also treated a young woman and a cardiac arrest. I think the best scenario was that everyone turned from a, you know, this is a marathon. We're going to treat cramps, dehydration from that to, all of a sudden, everyone who had trauma experience came to the front.

Everyone who didn't went to the back. And let us do our, you know, do our experience and trauma care and we got everyone who we could to the centers.


COHEN: So, their job yesterday was to get IVs into people, stop the bleeding, and get them onto ambulances. Now, we know that there are 17 people in critical condition, many more in the hospital. There have been at least ten amputations in area hospitals -- John, Chris.

BERMAN: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, our thanks to you.

There are people fighting for their lives in hospitals right now. This morning, 17 in critical condition. There's an investigation unfolding before our very eyes right here this morning in Boston. We will be talking about that all morning as our live team coverage continues. That is all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

CUOMO: And I'm Chris Cuomo. Stay with CNN. We'll be covering this all day giving you the latest.