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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Wounded in Gunfight; Investigators Look into Background of Deceased Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect; Interview with Rep. Patrick Meehan

Aired April 22, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: That's it for "EARLY START." Thanks for being with us, I'm Zoraida Sambolin. CNN's live coverage of the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings continues on STARTING POINT with John Berman, live in Boston.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman in Boston this morning. Our STARTING POINT, searching for justice. Charges against the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings may come as early as today. A throat wound may keep him from talking, but that's not stopping investigators from trying to get some answers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARD DAVIS, BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: I am very, very sure that during this federal investigation we'll get to the bottom of the whole plot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Plus, the FBI questioned the other suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years ago, after a trip to his homeland. So did they miss an opportunity to stop him? We are live in Dagestan with the details there.

And today we remember the victims as one family prepares to lay their daughter to rest. This morning we're talking to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley about the case, and what the suspect is and is not telling them. Plus, Police Commissioner Ed Davis joins us with the latest on the investigation. And Congressman Patrick Meehan of the homeland security committee with what the FBI knew prior to the bombings.

It is Monday, April 22nd, this special edition of STARTING POINT, from Boston, begins right now.

So after a week like the city and this nation has ever seen, the country and the city picking itself up, dusting itself off this morning. We've seen some amazing sights around the city, even today, that we have not seen yet. And the buses here in Boston, those famous "T" buses that have a special message on the front of them right now. You can see it right there. It says "Boston Strong" on the front of the buses, such a wonderful, wonderful sight.

Meanwhile, the investigation still very much going on. 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he is in a hospital. He has been sedated and intubated. What are investigators finding out from him this morning? Our first report is from Pamela Brown here in Boston. Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the suspect is still in the intensive care unit, handcuffed to his hospital bed, with around the clock surveillance by law enforcement officers. As you mentioned he was intubated and sedated with serious injuries. As the investigation continues the focus today is on what charges he will face and when.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: One week after two deadly bombs exploded in downtown Boston, killing three and injuring 183 people, the only surviving suspect remains in serious condition at Beth Israel deaconess medical center. As federal prosecutors prepare to bring charges against him, law enforcement sources say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is unable to talk after a gunshot wound to the neck. Exactly when he suffered this injury is still unknown.

DAVIS: This is a very complex investigation, and it's hard to say exactly how he received that injury. There was certainly a shootout in Watertown. There were explosives thrown. So that's being looked into right now. It's hard to say exactly how it occurred.

BROWN: We're learning more about the tense moments right before Tsarnaev's arrest. This aerial video shows infrared images of him hiding out on a boat in the backyard of a home in Watertown. According to a law enforcement source close to the investigation, after 25 minutes of negotiations with FBI agents, Tsarnaev was apprehended as he was leaving the boat.

DAVIS: There were three Boston police officers that initially surrounded the boat. Other officers came and assisted, and we held that position until the FBI hostage rescue team could come in to place.

BROWN: In Boston's Copley Square crews are cleaning up the crime scene. Police announced a plan to have the area open soon.

Despite signs the city is slowly returning to business as usual, heartache remains for many. Later this morning, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, who was killed in the explosion, will be laid to rest in Bedford, Massachusetts. A memorial was planned for the third victim, Lingzi Lu, on Boston University's campus tonight. Her parents who traveled from China will be in attendance. Meantime, critically injured transit officer Richard Donahue remains hospitalized.

DR. RUSSELL NAUTA, CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY: This was a truly exsanguinating injury meaning that the officer's blood volume was almost entirely lost to the point of heart stopping.

BROWN: Now doctors are saying they are cautiously optimistic about his recovery.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: At 2:50 p.m. today, the exact time the first blast went off one week ago, all Massachusetts residents are being asked to observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims. And, John, this is certainly still a city in recovery. But you do get a sense that the city is resilient. You mentioned the "Boston Strong" signs. You see those all over the city. That's really been the motto since the attack and we're seeing that this morning on local buses. John?

BERMAN: All right, Pamela Brown here in Boston with us. Again, that moment of silence happens at 2:50 p.m. today.

I want to bring in Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. You know, while it appears right now that the suspect is in the hospital right now, he has been sedated, he is intubated, we want to find out what he may be saying to investigators at this point. Has there been any communication yet with the suspect?

MARTHA COAKLEY, MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, of course, I don't know that exactly. Keeping in mind, this is still a very active, ongoing investigation. People are focused on what he may be able to say, but there's also a lot of work going on by the federal authorities with state authorities on warrants that were done, on looking at social media. So this is still a very active, ongoing investigation. I'm sure what he is saying, if he is saying anything, is important, but it's not the only piece of the investigation.

BERMAN: But you can't confirm at this point that he is, in fact, responsive?

COAKLEY: I can't.

BERMAN: When he is able to communicate, if and when he is able to communicate, what are the first pieces of information you would like to know?

COAKLEY: Well, I'm sure that the federal government and the authorities are focused on, are there any other public safety risks right now? Contacts they have. Anything else that may -- that he may know about that causes an imminent risk to the public. That's got to be their first --

BERMAN: There's a discussion right now whether there will be federal or state charges. What's your sense of how that will come out?

COAKLEY: Keeping in mind this is a very integrated investigation, state, federal, we all worked together last week, we were all together Friday looking for them, doing the work, still doing that, there may be charges filed at both levels. Of course the federal government will always be able to determine if they go forward on their charges. It's happened in other cases and I'm sure there will be cooperation on it. Most likely it will be essentially a federal case.

BERMAN: There's some talk in Washington, Senator Lindsey Graham among others, saying that he should be treated as an enemy combatant, at least for a time, to get as much information as they can during the investigation. What's your feeling on that? COAKLEY: Well, I think, first of all, you need the right facts in order to be able to charge that. The federal government is still determining what was the motive of these two young men. Are they connected to anybody else? Until they do that work, until we finish this investigation, that question may even be premature, unless you have a basis for it.

I do think that the federal government has had a good track record in civil cases here, understanding what forum people should be in in order to get the best information. But I think we have to be confident. I am, having worked with them this week, is that they're focused on getting information they need to bring the appropriate charges. They can always be updated. And I think that they will make the right decision based upon what they know about this investigation.

BERMAN: We heard from the Boston police commissioner Ed Davis over the weekend that he felt that the brothers were planning another attack. Do you have any information on that?

COAKLEY: Well, certainly from what we know, that they had very calmly gone about their business after Monday, just a week ago, that when their pictures were released and it appears they accelerated activity, they were found with explosives on them, I think it's fair, although it's always going to be speculation, on the day we're planning to go back into the community and perhaps plan another attack. I don't know that for sure, but there's basis to think that might be true.

BERMAN: Last question, after this week, and after this investigation, which is really unprecedented in so many ways, what do you think the one thing that you're going to take away from it is, the one thing that was learned?

COAKLEY: I'll tell you the one thing that's so important is since 9/11, state, local, federal authorities have almost on a weekly basis been involved in our joint terrorism task force. That ability, when this happened, as Ed Davis said, to call the FBI, to call the state police, have everybody working with the public, trusting what we were doing, including the closing of Boston Friday, that work is going to have to continue. And I think it's one of the reasons that Boston was so successful in mitigating the damage here, in coming together as a community, in solving this and bringing these men into apprehension, the one who survived. But that work isn't done. It's going to continue.

BERMAN: All right, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, thank you so much for being with us this morning. I know you've been going to the memorials and services and you will continue to do so. I appreciate it.

COAKLEY: It's a tough week. This is a grieving week for everybody.

BERMAN: I appreciate it.

Meantime, investigators are examining the activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, including a trip that he took last year to Russia. He was on the FBI's radar for a short time in 2011 because of concerns about possible Islamic extremism. So the question is, did the agency simply miss the warning signs here? Joe Johns is in Washington with that part of the story. Good morning, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Investigators just have a lot to learn about this case. But there's already enough information for policymakers to start asking very basic questions. And the question being asked here in Washington is whether the FBI dropped the ball at the very start.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: In the search for how a suspected marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev turned radical, a big part of the investigation is focused on what role a six-month trip to Russia played and any contact he may have had with extremists in Chechnya where his family originally hails from.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R) HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think it's very probable that when he was in the region, it's a very dangerous region that are known for their tactics, that he possibly could have been trained at that point.

JOHNS: When he got back from Russia, Tsarnaev started posting radical videos on a new YouTube page with an address that bore the names of prominent militant leaders among Islamist groups. And CNN has learned at one point the page included this video, since deleted from YouTube, of a jihadist killed this year by Russian forces in the same town where Tsarnaev went to visit his father in 2012. The group denies any connection to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that say to you, if anything?

DAVIS: Well, it's certainly a major point in the investigation.

JOHNS: In hindsight, many are asking whether the FBI missed a rising radical, having investigated Tsarnaev in 2011 after the Russian raised concerns about possible ties to extremists.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This man was pointed out by a foreign government to be dangerous. He was interviewed by the FBI once. What did they find out? What did they miss?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I want to know how the FBI or the system dropped the ball when he was identified as a potential terrorist.

JOHNS: The FBI says it interviewed him, his family, and looked for concerning phone and Internet activities and found no threats. After asking Russia for more information, Moscow did not respond. The FBI closed the case and moved on.

TOM FUENTES, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Thousands of these requests come in worldwide. You just don't have the resources to follow every person from then on for the rest of their life because they might be a bad guy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: But what's still not clear is why Tsarnaev was target his adopted city. One possibility, "The New York Times" reporting, his citizenship was delayed, perhaps because of the FBI investigation. John?

BERMAN: All right, Joe Johns in Washington.

Of course the investigation in Washington, here in Boston, right behind me where I'm standing right now is still the crime scene, still closed off. And the investigation stretches all the way to Russia's northern Caucasus. The suspect's aunt in Russia expressing complete shock this morning. A rebel group in the Republic of Dagestan denying any connection.

But the Tsarnaev brothers do have ties to the region. Tamerlan visited a year ago. Their father still lives there. And a YouTube video uncovered exclusively by CNN may hold some clues as to a motive. Nick Paton Walsh joins us now from Dagestan to explain what is in this YouTube clip.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Shortly after his return from Russia to the United States, Tamerlan Tsarnaev posted on his YouTube channel a link to a video of an extremist who was killed not far from where I'm standing by Russian special forces just last December.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: Is there a connection between this gun fight involving militant and police in Dagestan, and one of the Boston bombers? The YouTube page of deceased brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev suggests there might be. He put up a link to a video titled "Abu Dujana." The video was removed but CNN has now found it, and it shows this man. Abu Dujana is the name used by an Islamist militant, Gadzhimurad Dolgatov.

Russian special forces hit Dolgatov's hideout last December, an armored car brought in to kill as many as six militants inside, including Dolgatov. The grisly aftermath showing their heavy weapons, but also the heavy hand used to kill them.

Four months later, the marks remain of the tit-for-tat violence fueling militancy across this region. Neighbors told us the young man who once lived here seemed peaceful, ordinary. But in the dust lies a question, why did Tsarnaev's YouTube page link to rant of a militant who died here, in the town where Tsarnaev's father lives and Tamerlan visited just last year?

You can see just how intense the violence must have been. In here could be the clearest link yet between one of the alleged Boston bombers and the violence that's been gripping southern Russia.

A U.S. intelligence source told CNN that Tsarnaev brothers' social media accounts are being examined for possible links to extremists in the Caucasus, in case they reveal the darkest secrets of Boston. Why did the bombers do it? (END VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: Now that doesn't mean Tamerlan Tsarnaev and that militant actually ever met here, but they of course were spending some time in the same town. We're getting a fuller picture, too, of the kind of man who came back here last year for about six months. His aunt telling us that she was surprised at how he adopted the Islamic faith in America, how devout he was, how he considered the Islamic faith to be the center of his life here. Also, how he visited Chechnya twice to see relatives during that six-month period, , and interestingly, too, that how after slight older child (ph) round about aged 11, his family had left Chechnya because they were frightened of the oncoming second Chechen war. John?

BERMAN: All right, Nick Paton Walsh for us this morning in Dagestan. Really putting the pieces of the puzzle together out there. Our appreciation, Nick. Joining us now from Philadelphia is Congressman Patrick Meehan. Patrick Meehan is on the homeland security committee, a Pennsylvania Republican. He's been getting briefed about the investigation here. Congressman Meehan thank you so much for being with us. You've heard us report today so far, and of course over the last several days, that the Russian intelligence agency did ask the FBI to look into Tamerlan Tsarnaev way back in 2011. The FBI looked into him. They didn't find anything alarming, they say. They asked the Russians for more information. That information never came. Did the FBI, as so many people are asking this morning, did the FBI drop the ball here?

REP. PATRICK MEEHAN, (R) PHILADLPHIA: Yeah, that's certainly the question of the hour. And it's going to be one that's going to be pursued, I think, aggressively by members of Congress. What we have is a circumstance, as you said, where the Russians are reaching out to us, but it's the information that was developed in the aftermath of the, you know, the original scrutiny, after, you know, he's cleared the first time, then he travels to Russia. So, the question becomes what kind of a process is in place, that after an original inquiry, if there are people that come to the attention of, you know, the FBI, about concerns of their terrorism, what are the procedures to do, you know, appropriate follow-up, and where are the limits to the extent that we want to continue to have the government monitoring the actions of, you know, Americans.

BERMAN: When he applied for citizenship, again, last year, the Department of Homeland Security put that on hold. They did not grant it to him. So obviously someone in the United States government was still concerned here. Again, was that another missed opportunity to follow up on concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev?

MEEHAN: Well, it appears, to the best of my knowledge, the reason that he wasn't given that was because of what was presumably a domestic violence incident beforehand. That was one of the distinguishing things from his brother, who had no kind of, you know, prior criminal activity. That may have been what would have been the cause. Not, as I understand it, any kind of information that suggested that there was continuing concern about his, you know, potential for terrorism. BERMAN: And Congressman Meehan, you have been outspoken on the issue of social media and investigating social media when it comes to possible ties to terrorism. CNN has learned exclusively about some of these Youtube videos that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been posting right there. What more could investigators do, or could have done, perhaps, to find out what was in these videos, and tie them to possible concerns about this man?

MEEHAN: Yes, well now we're going back, because hindsight is 20/20. And the real question that we held hearings on was the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security was out there monitoring what was e-mail discussions that are taking place in the, you know, in the effectively the public sector, because the information is there. But what degree of privacy should people be entitled to?

And I think this is going to be a question we're going to consider as we move forward in light of what, you know, what occurred here. But it would seem to be, once you have probable cause, so to speak, the FBI has an original concern that was generated, what is -- what are the procedures for following up on specific information that is put out into the public domain. That is what apparently happened, and certainly we can see now was missed but was there any procedure for the FBI to follow up on the activities of somebody over the internet after they've effectively been cleared?

BERMAN: All right, Congressman Patrick Meehan, Republican for Pennsylvania. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. Appreciate it.

MEEHAN: Great to be with you. Thank you.

BERMAN: So this is where we stand this morning. This is where we stand in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation this morning. Right now, we're waiting to hear if formal charges will be filed today against surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Meanwhile the marathon finish line on Boylston Street still remains a crime scene. It is still closed this morning. A funeral is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. eastern time this morning for Krystle Campbell. One of the three people killed in last week's terror attack. And at 2:50 p.m. this afternoon, that's the exact moment the first bomb went off last week, bells will toll across Boston for 30 seconds as the city pauses to remember the victims.

And coming up at 7:30 eastern, we will speak to Boston police commissioner Ed Davis about the latest in the investigation. He has been right at the center of the whole thing. We will find out where it stands this morning.

And then just ahead, in the days after the deadly marathon bombing, suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev returned to his college campus, acting as if nothing happened. We will hear from the students who spoke with him. They are deeply disturbed this morning about these conversations.

Then homes destroyed by rising floodwaters in the Midwest. We will go live to one of the communities fighting to stay above water. You're watching a special edition of STARTING POINT live from Boston. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Christine Romans in New York with today's other news. Heavy rain turning deadly across the Midwest. And it's still coming down. Six states were hit with flash flooding over the weekend. The Grand River is at a record high, hasn't crested yet. Roads across Illinois were flooded after rivers burst their banks. So far flooding is blamed for at least three deaths. CNN's Jim Spellman is in Peoria, Illinois for us this morning. Jim, what's the story there?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. You can see the waters coming up here. This is not too unusual here but it's got about another two feet to go. So far these sandbag levees are holding. They hope that remains the case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SPELLMAN: From North Dakota to Indiana, to Mississippi. Flood watches and warnings throughout the middle of the country as rain water from torrential spring storms barrels down rivers and streams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So far it's held.

SPELLMAN: In Peoria heights, Katie Eden (ph) hopes these sandbags and this pump will protect her home from the rising Illinois river.

What's it like to know your home's at risk?

KATIE EDEN (ph), RESIDENT: It's scary. I've had family lose house to floods, so I mean I know what to expect. But it's -- it's scary.

SPELLMAN: At the end of the block, neighbors Gail and Jerry Sheshetti (ph) knew their home would be the first to flood. They spent the last few days removing all their possessions knowing they would likely never move back into their home of 13 years.

You were prepared, but what is it like to actually watch your home go under water?

GAIL SHESHETTI (ph), RESIDENT: It's devastating. It's hard -- you know, you can't put it into words. It's devastating.

SPELLMAN: A few miles down river in Peoria, the water is expected to hit levels not seen since the 1940s.

MAYOR JIM ARDIS, PEORIA, ILLINOIS: We've had a lot of close calls to that. But this is the first time since in 60 years that it's going to surpass that mark.

SPELLMAN: The pumps are running and the sandbag levees are built. Now it's a matter of waiting to see exactly how high the floodwaters will rise.

You're really hoping to dodge a bullet here? LARRY NAILON, BUSINESS OWNER: I think we will. With the levees that they've built, that hopefully keeps it back, as long as it doesn't get any higher than what they've said, predicted, we'll be -- I think we'll be good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SPELLMAN: You can see how they've laid the sandbags around some of the buildings on this side of this sandbag levee, pumping out water as they go. It's about all they can really do for some of these older buildings in the downtown part of Peoria. The good news in Peoria is that there are no homes in this flood area, just businesses. So nobody's going to lose their home. But, business, as you know, definitely in jeopardy here. Especially if they get more rain and the water comes up higher than they project.

ROMANS: I'm telling you, Jim, eight months ago I was standing there in the Midwest with bone dry, bone dry fields where they were praying for water. And then torrential spring rains, of course, they don't like the water to come down this way.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, Boston shut down on Friday, as police searched for the bombing suspects. How much did that cost the city? Who's going to pay for it? That's next on STARTING POINT.

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ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, "Minding your Business" this morning. Stock futures pointing to higher open. It would be a rebound from big losses last week. Dow up 74 point right now, and opens for real in two hours.

Meanwhile, $333 million: that's one estimate of how much it cost to shut down Boston for the day. The area produces $325 billion worth of goods and services every year. That's a little less than a billion dollars a day. The ninth largest GDP in the country and Friday everything stopped. Businesses, public transit, colleges, shopping centers shut. Now many people were at home. But others couldn't be busier.

Thousands of law enforcement officials, hospital workers, hotel employees, they worked overtime. Now there are insurance claims businesses can file for terrorism related losses if it's covered under their policy. It's going to be difficult, though, for a lot of small businesses to get back that revenue and meet their payroll.

Back to Boston now where John is. John as you know right around that area for a whole week there were a lot of businesses shut down people had to their payroll even though they don't have any money coming in.

BERMAN: They're still shut down. They expect to open hopefully over the next couple of days. And they have a five-point plan in place for that that they will unveil shortly. Meanwhile ahead on STARTING POINT, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis joins us with the latest in the investigation, and what, if anything, authorities are learning from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev this morning. Then, after the marathon bombings, he hid in plain sight on his college campus. We will hear from the students who interacted with Tsarnaev all while a massive manhunt for him was under way. You're watching this special edition of STARTING POINT live from Boston. Stay with us.

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