CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Exclusive: Pressure Cooker Lid Found on Rooftop; Interview with Congressman Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania; More Tests Today On Ricin- Laced Letter

Aired April 17, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- provide critical evidence for investigators.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We're learning more about the lives of the lost. An 8-year-old boy who wanted peace for the world. A 29-year- old young woman with a zest for life. And a third victim, a Chinese grad student who just moved here last fall.

BERMAN: You had a chance to sit down with the grandmother of the female victim. Such a moving interview listening to this grandmother talking about Krystle Campbell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILMA CAMPBELL, GRANDMOTHER OF KRYSTLE CAMPBELL: Heart. Heart. My whole heart and soul, she it was. She made me feel that way. She made me happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: You get to hear from Grandma Wilma in a few moments.

BERMAN: Such a moving interview. It is Wednesday, April 17th this is a special edition of STARTING POINT live from Boston.

(MUSIC)

CUOMO: We are here in Boston, because this is where the story is.

And first up, brand new developments in the Boston marathon bombings. What could be proof of the power of the explosion -- national security analyst Fran Townsend reporting a pressure cooker, the lid found on a rooftop near the scene. This part of this new cache of photos that's been leased, showing the remnants of one of the detonated devices.

BERMAN: The remnants, the photos, they show wires, they show batteries, they show what appears to be a circuit board. "Reuters" says they got these photos from a government official who did not want to be identified. They turned over pictures along with images of a mangled pressure cooker, mangled pressure cooker.

In one photo, you can see what appears to be a cluster of BBs or pellets. Those BBs and pellets likely melted together by the heat of this explosion, which had to be really powerful. We now know that the second bomb was also in some kind of medical container -- metal container, although investigators are not saying what kind yet.

CUOMO: And they keep telling us, every bomb tells a story. We'll find out from our experts what this could mean.

We're also trying to learn more from those who lost their lives. The third victim, a Chinese graduate student, just moved her last fall, studying at Boston University. We're not learning her name, because that's what her family wants. They want to keep her name quiet at least for now.

The two other people who lost their lives, the 8-year-old boy that just stole our hearts and now 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, living her whole life just there in front of her. And with martin last night. Her babysitter talked about cherished moments she had.

Take a listen from Piers Morgan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAITLYN DOYLE, RICHARD FAMILY'S BABYSITTER: Every time I baby sat, it was my pleasure to babysit him. His sister is also a pleasure to babysit. She is adorable and they are great kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: All right. Last night, there was a candle-light vigil held in Martin's honor. People just packed a park. It was supposed to be at the church, they had to move it to the park because there was such an outgrowth of affection for him there in that Dorchester neighborhood.

BERMAN: As for the injured, at least 100 of 183 people taken to the hospital have now been released. That is some wonderful news.

We also know President Obama set to visit Boston tomorrow. He will speak at an interfaith service.

Now, we have been talking about this investigation for a while. We have this new exclusive information, could be very important.

We want to bring in Fran Townsend, CNN national security analyst, former assistant to President George W. Bush for homeland security and also counterterrorism.

And, Fran, the news is this. I'm going to hold this right now up. This is the lid to a pressure cooker. We now know that a pressure cooker was used in this, was one of the explosive devices. They found the lid of the pressure cooker on one of the buildings nearby. Explain to me the significance.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, the first hint about this really came at yesterday's press conference in Boston when a senior U.S. Secret Service official -- I'm sorry -- a senior ATF official stood up, talking about bomb fragments having been recovered in the walls of surrounding buildings and on rooftops.

And, of course, it raised the question in media -- well, what kind of things would you have found on a rooftop?

CNN learned this morning, right from the source, federal law enforcement officials, said they found the lid to the -- one of the -- to the pressure cooker device, on a nearby rooftop. It's significant, John and Chris, because, of course, we'll learn all sorts of things to potentially from the technical analysis. You will get bomb residue on it. You may get latent fingerprints. There's all sorts of technical data. You will understand the source of the blast when the lid blew off to that degree.

And so. it's -- it could potentially help investigators identify who was responsible, whether it's an individual or a group, and what their motivation was.

CUOMO: Now, we've heard about these before, Fran, right? Faisal Shahzad in the Times Square bombing, he had used some type of pressure cooker as part of the device. It goes far as part of the '70s. But was the window into the investigation, in terms of what -- how big is the universe of someone who could make something like this?

TOWNSEND: You know, Chris, studies have been done looking at successful and unsuccessful terrorism plots in the United States.

And when you look, the perimeter really is striking. You start where the device exploded and work your way out. But time and again, what investigators found there is always -- these devices themselves are actually the final construction of it, near -- very near to -- within miles of the bomb site itself.

And so, the investigators will begin at the bomb site and work their way out, understanding that nobody flew in with this device. But it probably didn't come very far. They may not have even constructed it a car distance away. It's likely something that was carried by hand from someplace locally where they assembled it.

BERMAN: All right. Fran Townsend. Thanks to you. We'll talk more about this. We'll talk more about this lid. This new information you're giving us about the lid of the pressure cooker in just a moment.

Other news about these photos we saw overnight.

CUOMO: That's right. We know the government is asking for all of the photos you have. You call 1-800-CALL-FBI. And you give them photos if you have them. Why? Because we just heard about proximity.

So, let's figure out what can be seen in these photos that could be clues.

National correspondent Susan Candiotti is here in Boston following this.

Susan, what do we know now? SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris and John.

You've touched on some of it, of course, with Fran. Very important information that we can see now in the photographs, evidence that investigators have been picking up from the debris fields. For example, bits and pieces of the pressure cooker. A black nylon bag or a backpack that pretty much remained intact. BBs, ball bearings, nails, this kind of thing used as the shrapnel.

Now, these are things that investigators have been finding and they will take them, try to rebuild this device, track down the history of these components, and, therefore, try to track down who was behind this terror attack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Crime scene photos show what could be part of a pressure cooker used in the bombings. Other show charred wired attached to a battery. What appears to be a small circuit board, a half-inch nail and a blood-stained zipper pull tab, another that looks like a mass of ball bearing, BBs, intended as deadly shrapnel. Investigators are also combing through hundreds of photos from the scene, including this one, where a light colored bag sits next to a mail box. The before and after images capture its proximity of one of the two blast locations.

Authorities are scrutinizing every lead. The FBI needs help, after all, someone knows who did it.

RICK DESLAURIERS, FBI AGENT IN CHARGE: The person who did this is someone's friend, neighbor, coworker, or relative.

CANDIOTTI: Crime scene technicians found gun powder residue. Gun powder ignited inside the metal container, building pressure which caused the container to explode. As an explosive expert explains to Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence.

MIKE BOUCHARD, FORMER ATF OFFICIAL: Of course, in a crowd like this, since it was packed with people, those people took the brunt of the explosion and all the projectiles.

CANDIOTTI: A pressure cooker was part of a homemade bomb inside an SUV that fizzled in Times Square in 2010, planted by admitted lone wolf terrorist Faisal Shahzad, now in prison.

In Boston, authorities are convinced they will solve the case, but as of now, have no clue who is behind it.

DESLAURIERS: At this time, there are no claims of responsibility, the range of suspects and motives remains wide open.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: So these photos are now showing us what investigators have been collecting. They are looking for other photos. Again, Chris and John, so that they can see whether someone might have captured the moment when these bombs were planted.

Back to you.

BERMAN: All right. Those photos, such a key part of the investigation. That's why investigators all over are calling for as many of them as they can.

We want to talk about the investigation with Congressman Patrick Meehan. He is a key member of Congress, a Republican from Pennsylvania, the chair of the House Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee.

He was briefed about the marathon bombing yesterday.

Good morning, Congressman Meehan. Thank you so much for being with us.

I'm wondering if you can give us as much as you can about the briefing. What are you learning about the details of the device and how it was put together?

REP. PATRICK MEEHAN (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, you've done a pretty good job of putting together the kinds of information. The real key is now understanding what the bomb components may be and being able to verify not only it was a pressure cooker, but perhaps a particular type of pressure cooker, combined with information pulled from other kinds of oceans. It gives them a chance to go back.

You know, we have real information about the device and ability to identify maybe where it came from, who may have purchased it. That's the beginning of a trail that hopefully leads to some real conclusions.

BERMAN: Congressman, as part of the briefings what is the level of concern right now with a fact that a very dangerous person is clearly still out there?

MEEHAN: Well, I think there's -- there's a great deal of interest in part of all of the law enforcement officials getting to the bottom of this. But you really don't know who the perpetrator is. I was a prosecutor and was involved in numerous homicide prosecutions, and other kinds of investigation. If you really just have to let the facts and evidence tell you the story and follow those logically.

Remember that it took about six days using images from -- that were collected from all over films to be able to identify the bombers in London, and I think you've got to give those investigators who are piecing together. This is significant information in terms of the make of the bomb. I think you will have literally hours upon hours of film to review. Together, you may begin to piece step by step, important critical connections that then allow you to move further away from the crime scene and towards who might be responsible for putting those components together.

CUOMO: And on that point, Congressman, any more confidence in whether or not this is lone wolf or a particular organization, domestic, foreign, any kind of guidance on that?

MEEHAN: Yes. Well, that's -- you know, you don't know what you know until you know it. Any kind of expert would tell you that you can see signs associated with any kind of group like that. We did hearings and "Inspire" magazine, which was the voice of one of the al Qaeda affiliates, and the first issue they put out over the Internet, it talked about how to build a pressure cooker bomb. So, you would follow that and assume, well, it's al Qaeda.

At the same time, this is information that's publicly available on the Internet and the kind of thing that anybody who was a lone wolf, a domestic terrorist.

So, you can't draw conclusions, you have to follow the evidence.

CUOMO: All right. Congressman Meehan, thank you for bringing us up- to-date. We appreciate the information.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: I want to bring our analyst, really. They've been giving us terrific information all morning. CNN Security analyst Fran Townsend and Juliette Kayyem who've been with us all morning, telling us how significant this evidence is.

And, Fran, I just want to start with you, because you brought us the information, the information that the lid of the pressure cooker was found on a building right near the blast.

TOWNSEND: Yes, John. Look, we had the pictures overnight as many of the bomb components and talked about the kind of forensic evidence. Of course, that sort of technical information is exactly what investigators need to make that the next step to identifying who actually planted the bomb.

The lid itself, because of the size and centrality of the bomb, the top of the device that actually exploded and caused all the massive injuries and gives it a greater life of producing real proof, real evidence for investigators about who is behind the perpetration of this horrible tragedy.

CUOMO: And, Juliette, on a completely non-forensic level, somebody had to buy it, right?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN ANALYST: Exactly. So, as Fran has pointed out right, you know, there's going to be a lot of evidence from the lid itself. And one of them is going to be -- this had to be purchased somewhere. And so, what the FBI is doing and what it has been doing since essentially 9/11 is it makes, it has a lot of contacts within the private sector, goes to places like Costco and Walmart, that sell devices like this, or even small hardware stores.

But I do want to pick up on the sort of forensic thing on one point. We talked on Monday a lot about how good and effective the response was, and I had said, getting the runners off of the street right there was important. The reason why, as Fran pointed out, is they really did preserve a lot of evidence. They were able to get people off, then you secure the eight or ten blocks, and then you now can pick up all of the little pieces. So, it really -- the success of the investigation really is tied to how well trained the officials were on getting everyone off to preserve the crime scene. That's really a lesson of 9/11 as well.

BERMAN: And some of these offices on those blocks still closed today. People are being very patient.

KAYYEM: Yes, this is incredible to see, for those of us who live here. This is sort of Grand Central of Boston. This is where the turnpike hits, this is where the hotels and offices are. And to see it shut down like this, it's going to be a while.

BERMAN: All right. Juliette Kayyem and Fran Townsend, our thanks to both of you.

CUOMO: And also, the longer it takes, the more opportunity there is for people, 1-800-CALL-FBI. You can see how important videos, photos are, to find that moment, maybe somebody has it, when that bomb was placed and who placed it there. So, please, 1-800-call FBI. Keep that number in your head.

When we come back on STARTING POINT, we're going to continue to analyze all the brand-new information that's come out in these photos about this pressure cooker and figure out what it means going forward.

BERMAN: Also, we're going to talk to investigators and find out what they're learning now about everything about the investigation, digging the BBs, the nails, all those things out of the walls. We're also watching other news happening right now, including security concerns in Washington about a ricin letter sent to a senator and also at the funeral of former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

You're watching a special edition of STARTING POINT live from Boston. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: New this morning, tributes and protests as great Britain bids farewell to the "Iron Lady," Margaret Thatcher.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Baroness Thatcher received full military honors in a service at St. Paul's Cathedral after a procession through the streets of London. Queen Elizabeth attended today's funeral service along with British Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Several representatives of the U.S. were there, including former vice president, Dick Cheney, and former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. Security had been a concern after Monday's bombings in Boston, but fortunately, there were no issues. Early tests show a letter sent to a Republican senator from Mississippi did contain a lethal biological agent, but more tests will be conducted today to confirm if it was, indeed, ricin. The letter was addressed to Republican senator, Roger Wicker. It was intercepted before it reached his office. Authorities say it had a Memphis post mark. They don't know who sent it. Wicker now getting extra security.

Senators begin voting this afternoon on amendments to a gun control bill. The bipartisan deal on expanded background checks is expected to be among the first votes, along with the proposal to ban sales of military-style assault weapons. The debate could last for two weeks or more.

New developments this morning in Kaufman County, Texas where police are trying to solve the murders of the local district attorney and his wife. Former Kaufman County justice of the peace, Eric Williams, is accused of using his computer to send a threat to police. The message allegedly imply that another attack would take place if police did not meet the writer's demands. Bail has been set at $3 million for Williams who remains behind bars this morning.

Venezuela turning violent after a close presidential election. At least seven deaths reported in protest. Hundreds of supporters of Henrique Capriles upset with the government's refusal to recount the vote. He lost to late President Hugo Chavez's cosen successor, Nicolas Maduro. Just a few decimal point. Capriles claims there were many election violations.

On Wall Street, what a different can week make. Last week, stocks hit several highs several days in a row. Now, down one day, up the next. The Dow plunged 266 points Monday, then rallied 158 points yesterday. Today, Dow futures are down again. This comes amid mixed global economic news and this earning season as well.

Bank of America shares falling three percent pre-market trade. The bank made more than $2.5 billion last quarter, but Wall Street expected better.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (on-camera): Ahead on STARTING POINT, Chris Cuomo sits down with the grandmother of one of the victims, Krystle Campbell (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heart. My whole heart and soul, she was in. And she made me feel that way. She made me happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: His full interview with Wilma Campbell, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Welcome back. We are live in Boston. I'm Chris Cuomo with John Berman. Part of CNN's continuing coverage of the attacks at the Boston marathon. New information, a pressure cooker lid found on a roof near the Boston marathon finish line. We're going to take you through, talking to our analyst about what it could mean in the investigation.

BERMAN: We have brand new images that came to us overnight as well, giving a different view, what we have not seen of the aftermath of the marathon bombings. We're going to take a look right after the break.

CUOMO: And new information about the 183 victims. Some who've been taken home. That's good news. And we're going to have presser information. We're going to go live to one of the hospitals and find out what's happening to those who are still being treated.

BERMAN: You're watching a special edition of STARTING POINT live from Boston. More information straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman.

CUOMO: And I'm Chris Cuomo. We are live here in Boston. We start this half hour with brand new developments in the Boston marathon bombings. CNN national security analyst, Fran Townsend, reporting a pressure cooker lid has been found on a rooftop near the scene.

BERMAN: A rooftop near the scene. And this, new photos just released also show the remnants of one of the detonated devices. They show wires, they show battery, what appears to be a circuit board. (INAUDIBLE) says that a government official who did not want to be identified turned over these pictures. We got our first glimpse of them overnight. These are brand-new, along with the images of that mangled pressure cooker.

And in one photo, you can see what appears to be a cluster of BBs, pellets. They were likely melted together during the heat of the explosion. We also now know that the second bomb was also in a metal container, although, investigators right now are not saying what kind yet.

CUOMO: The investigation is moving quickly, but information will come when it comes. We're also learning more about the third person whose life was taken in these attacks. A Chinese grad student who was studying at Boston University. We're not releasing her name because we're respecting her family's wishes. They want it kept quiet.

BERMAN: We want to bring in Fran Townsend, a CNN national security analyst, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, an assistant to the president. She broke the news just a short while ago of this key finding now from investigators from the crime scene behind us. They found the lid of the pressure cooker use as a bomb nearby on a rooftop.