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Boston Bombing Investigation Continues; Interview With Congressman Mike McCaul; Doctor: "Remarkable" So Many Victims Survived; Dagestan Militant Ran Bomber Training Camp

Aired April 24, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tears for the victims, serious questions for the feds.

I'm Jake Tapper, and this is THE LEAD.

We now know that the suspected mastermind of the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks was on two separate terrorist databases -- lawmakers demanding to know why red flags did not fly sooner.

Also, how the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, saved lives in Boston -- the unexpected connection between the two tragedies.

And they were -- quote -- "twisted, perverted, cowardly knockoff jihadis." Those were the vice president's words today describing the accused Boston bombers. Did he reveal too much by speaking from the gut?

A final goodbye to a fallen officer, the final life claimed in a rampage of terror. Once again, we're coming to you live from Boston where a memorial for MIT police officer Sean Collier wrapped up earlier not far from us here on the campus in Cambridge. Collier was gunned down in his patrol car Thursday night, police say, by the brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon.

Police came by the busload today to pay their last respects and Vice President Joe Biden spoke, evoking his own personal tragedy.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know from experience the sense of dread that reliving the moment in the last nine days almost hourly of the moment you learned the fate of your child.


TAPPER: After Vice President Biden spoke, singer James Taylor took the stage and sang "Shower the People" with some help from the MIT a cappella group. Officer Collier is, of course, one of the four people allegedly killed by the bombing suspects, the other three, 8- year-old Martin Richard -- his family is planning a public memorial in the weeks ahead -- 29-year-old Krystle Campbell. She was at the race to cheer on a friend. And 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, she was a Boston University grad student from China; 39 victims remain in the hospital as of this afternoon, one of them in critical condition. We heard some contradictory messages today from the Obama administration about this terrorist investigation.

While Vice President Biden was speaking at Officer Collier's memorial, he had harsh words for the two suspects accused of killing Collier and those three others.


BIDEN: They can never defeat us, and whether it's al Qaeda central out of the FATA or two twisted, perverted, cowardly knockoff jihadis here in Boston.


TAPPER: Did the vice president get carried away there by calling them knockoff jihadis? From a certain angle, that seems to apply they were just unaffiliated wannabes.

Press Secretary Jay Carney today at the White House briefing would not touch that during his briefing today.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the act was cowardly and it was terrorism.


QUESTION: -- seemed to indicate that he doesn't believe they are connected to a large, foreign --

CARNEY: Seemed to -- I'm sorry. You're making assessments that I'm not going to engage in.


TAPPER: But another member of the Obama administration, Secretary of State John Kerry, may have also gone overboard in talking about the suspects. Here is what Secretary Kerry said during a trip to Belgium.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We just had a young person who went to Russia and Chechnya who blew people up in Boston. So, he didn't stay where he went, but he learned something where he went, and he came back with a willingness to kill people.


TAPPER: Now, that sounds like the opposite of what Vice President Biden was saying. Kerry seemed to be implying that the older suspect was trained during his trip to Russia.

I asked the State Department about this. A senior State Department official seemed to be trying to distance Kerry from his own comments saying the secretary was only expressing broad concern about radicalism in general rather than giving any new information or conclusions.

Now to the investigation and the new information we're learning about the two suspects, still no cause of death determined for the older suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but law enforcement and national security forces are now telling CNN he was on two, two different terror databases. Those sources say he was not on a no-fly list, but there was a flag in one of the databases to ping authorities if he tried to leave the country.

And apparently the system did ping when he went to Russia last year, but the flag in the system expired while Tsarnaev was over there and then there was no ping on his return trip. We're also learning more about what the pair may have been planning next, police in New York City saying the brothers may have intended to flee there.


RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: They may have been intent on coming to New York, but not to continue what they were doing. The information that we received said something about a party or having a party.


TAPPER: Police Commissioner Ray Kelly of New York City says that information came from the interviews with the surviving suspect. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains hospitalized in fair condition. Sources say he has been communicating with investigators.

He is in the same hospital as several victims, where they are still recovering, and prosecutors say the families are not happy about that. Tsarnaev could be moved in the coming days to a different state facility.

I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst.

Let's talk about first of all, this intelligence sharing issue. We heard about it after 9/11 and now we're hearing about it again, that one agency had information, but other agencies did not know about it.


So this is an issue now. It's a little bit the opposite of the stovepiping, where there is so much information coming in through so many different agencies. You mentioned just two databases. There are probably up to about a dozen. Only one of them is very, very serious. That is the terrorist watch list and that means you are not getting on the plane. So all of these different databases have different standards.

One of the fixes if there is to be one and after this and after all the evidence comes in would be, is there a way to ensure that the information on them is based on the same standards? Because clearly what happened is his name fell off the list. He wasn't pinged on the way back. And so we're still trying to determine what -- if 9/11 was a dearth of information, this may be one of those instances where there is so much information and that not that it wasn't shared but also that the standards were different for each of them.

That's what we're trying to discern, is what watch list were you on? He was not on the big one. If he had been on the terror watch list, that is the one that triggers FBI, DHS, and all of them. That one should be small. You don't want a lot of people on a terror watch list because you're going to lose the real threat.

TAPPER: Still, on its face, the Russians reach out to the U.S. in 2011 and they say this guy is an extremist. He is coming here to do bad things. Check him out. The FBI goes. They check him out. When he comes back from the trip that the Russians are warning about, theoretically should not the FBI have known?

KAYYEM: Right, if they knew he had come back from the trip. That is the piece we don't know is did the ping not occur on the way back soon enough to notify the FBI?

To make clear, this is a standard issue, sort of unifying all the standards. Even if the FBI had been notified, was it enough to trigger an investigation? You're going to see a lot of questions about notification vs. investigation. This sounds very technical. No one wants it to be technical. That is why some of the fixes probably will occur. And you're going to starting to see that from the Intel Committee.

TAPPER: All right, CNN homeland security analyst and "Boston Globe" columnist Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much.

Some lawmakers call the Boston bombing investigation deja vu all over again. They want to know how the older suspect managed to pull off the attacks despite being put on the FBI's radar back in 2011.

Joining us live from Washington, D.C., is Congressman Mike McCaul. He's chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Thanks for having me.


TAPPER: We know you were briefed on this investigation yesterday by members of the intelligence community. What if anything have you learned that would make you think the FBI did not go far enough when it investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev back in 2011?

MCCAUL: Well, you're right. They did have a Russian lead saying he is an extremist, going to travel outside the United States to join up with underground extremists.

They do put a lead on him for several months. They close the lead. It's the travel issue that has become kind of the big question here in terms of who knew what and when. The fact is the FBI told us several days ago they did not know that he traveled to Russia at that time. The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano testified that a flag did go up on their database, which is a different database.

You basically have the Department of Homeland Security with the information he's traveling to the Chechen region and the FBI not knowing about that. And the question is, was that shared with the FBI within the joint terrorism task force? That's a very, very important question because as you pointed out, connecting the dots after 9/11, that is what it is really supposed to be about and we thought we had fixed this.

TAPPER: Now, one of the things that's been questioned is whether or not there should have been a FISA warrant. That is basically a request to be able to spy on him because there is a reason to believe that he is acting as an agent of a foreign country or foreign power or terrorist group.

Do you, Congressman, know of any reason, substantive reason, why he should have been, not just in 20/20 hindsight, but at the time why there should have been a FISA warrant granted to surveil Tamerlan Tsarnaev?

MCCAUL: Now, remember that the FBI closed their investigation, finding no derogatory information.

I was a federal prosecutor who actually applied for FISA warrants. There was not the predication in my judgment to establish he was an agent of a foreign power at that time. But just like you, I am very concerned about his overseas travel.

And the narrative -- I loved the way you juxtaposed the vice president and the secretary of state, very different versions, but the narrative that almost immediately there is no foreign connection here when the FBI has just begun its investigation, they have just started to look at this guy's computer records. They're sending a team over today, a U.S. team over to interview witnesses in the Chechen region.

So for anybody to come out and say there is no foreign connection at all I think is highly premature and I think very irresponsible.

TAPPER: Lastly, Congressman, do you know of any facts emerging from Dagestan, Chechnya, Russia, of what exactly Tamerlan Tsarnaev was doing there?

MCCAUL: I think as the Secretary of State Kerry mentioned, I think there's some concern that he could have been trained over there. And the reason I say that is because the explosive devices that he used were highly sophisticated devices.

And quite frankly the way they handled him so professionally with the tradecraft, we are very concerned that there is a person or persons out there who trained him to do this. Whether that's overseas or in the United States remains unknown. But we sure hope to get to the bottom of it. I do intend to hold congressional hearings on this issue, so we can find out, number one, how did this happen, what went wrong, and then how can we fix it to prevent it from happening again.

TAPPER: Congressman McCaul, thank you so much for your time.

Still ahead, we will show you a terrorist training camp where Islamic radicals learn to build bombs. And it just happens to be in the same country that Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited last year.

But, first, I will take you inside a hospital where victims of the Boston terrorist attacks are still fighting to recover. Hear their inspiring stories next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD live in Boston.

They saw victims by the dozens gruesome injuries, unimaginable grief, but doctors at Boston area hospital say what struck them the most is how emergency drills paid off to save lives when a real life crisis hit home.

Earlier today I spoke with Dr. Ron Walls from Brigham and Women's Hospital where nine patients are still being treated.


TAPPER (voices-over): Since 9/11, hospitals around the country have prepared themselves for worst case scenarios to come rushing through their E.R. doors. But for Dr. Ron Walls, chair of the department of emergency medicine here at Brigham and Women's University in Boston, the lessons that prepared him for the Boston bombing were much more recent.

DR. RON WALLS, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Communication and coordination is everything. Ideally we work where we have one patient comes in as a trauma patient we have a really high -- highly trained team around them that works beautifully together and they take amazing care of that one patient. What happens when you multiply that by 20?

One of the real clarion calls for us was the Aurora shootings and that was the second sort of deliberate event if you think of that as a deliberate event that set the stage for these good outcomes. What happened in Aurora was that they got -- these people were transported by police vehicles, private cars and they got all the patients in one hour. That's a very unusual circumstance and it made us wonder could we do that if we got that kind of influx? Could we handle it?

So we started looking more specifically at how do we handle an unexpectedly large number of critical patients in a very short period of time? We always had that and we had tested it, but what Aurora did for us is it crystallized a specific question and that specific question was could we take 23 critical patients in one hour? We had never answered that.

TAPPER: Until last Monday when they answered almost to the letter.

WALLS: I heard the sirens. It was almost like every siren in the city started up at once. I never heard anything like it. I've been here 20 years. It's fortunate we had thought about this the way we thought about the Aurora arrivals because that's really what happened. In fact, we got 23 patients in a little over an hour.

TAPPER (on camera): The exact same number?

WALLS: The exact same number.

TAPPER: You still have nine patients here from the terrorist attack. How are they doing?

WALLS: We do. We still have nine and they are doing amazingly well. I mean, these are really serious injuries, these are life- changing injuries. The patients that we have in hospital now predominantly have orthopedic injuries, really significant blast-type orthopedic injuries so they've been having procedures initially for limb salvage, to try to save the limbs and now, they're into the phase where it's more about the healing and reconstruction to restore their limbs to functional activity.

And so far, we still just have the one amputation. So, we're very pleased with that.

TAPPER (voice-over): Nine patients remain here today, most in good condition. But even for professionals like Dr. Walls, the scenes of that day take a toll.

(on camera): Was this the worst thing you'd ever seen?

WALLS: I have seen injuries like that individually but never collectively to get that many patients with those injuries. They were really dramatic injuries. We've seen things like this but seeing that many at once was a totally unique experience that I hope I never have again.

TAPPER: We have in our brains photographs of them at their best. You and the hospital staff, you have images of victims not at their best, at their most vulnerable, at their most desperate.


TAPPER: Does that stay with you forever?

WALLS: I guess it will. It's too soon to tell. I guess we're not to forever yet. I certainly have patients that passed that stay with me forever.

I think the remarkable thing about being a trained, experienced sort of expert caregiver is that when you see these people, they're on the brink. They're right at the edge -- maybe the edge between life and death or the edge, between sort of a good life and bad life. And pulling them back from that is a really powerful experience.

So it gives you a very good feeling that you used your skills and knowledge to help those patients in the right direction. We don't feel helpless in here. We feel like it's our mission to get them back.


TAPPER: For more on how you can help the bombing survivors, go to

Up next, it's a part of the world rife with poverty, instability, and terrorism. Now, the FBI wants to know what Tamerlan Tsarnaev was doing in Dagestan.

And later, they raised $20 million after the bombing. So how do you divide up that money among the victims? My interview with attorney Ken Feinberg who is in charge of the One Fund. That and more after this.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live in Boston.

The people of Dagestan are no strangers to terror. For years, Islamic insurgents have been running a ruthless campaign against security forces in the region.

Now, U.S. authorities want to know what bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was doing there last year and who he may have met with during the six-month trip he took outside the United States.

Our Nick Paton Walsh reports.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Dagestani militant Abu Dujana in a video one of the alleged Boston bombers Tamerlan Tsarnaev posted on his YouTube Channel. Russian special forces killed Abu Dujana in a shootout last December in Dagestan and we don't know if they ever met Tsarnaev.

But Dagestani police have revealed to CNN the small time militant ran training camps for bomb-making that foreigners came to. Police gave us images of Abu Dujana's group training in the woods.

This one explains how to mix and prepare home-made explosives almost anywhere. And the group's pictures suggest they learned to use a mobile phone as a detonator. The local police chief who helped hunt him down Abu Dujana says the militant trained foreigners.

ASKHABALI SAUERBEKOV, POLICE CHIEF, KIZIL YURT (through translator): We do not have audio or visual confirmation but we do have information confirming that Abu Dujana met with foreigners.

WALSH (on camera): What did the foreigners learn in the woods?

SAUERBEKOV: I can't talk about the number of foreigners but they met to exchange their bandit experience. They are Dagestanis who have taken citizenship elsewhere and come here to meet in the historical motherland whose roots are here.

WALSH (voice-over): Could that have included Americans?

SAUERBEKOV: It's entirely possible but I know there were Arabs and Turks among them. Whether there were Americans, I don't know.

WALSH (on camera): The police told us that Abu Dujana was often observed coming here to the heart of Makhachkala, to this Salifist Islamic mosque behind me which itself denies any links to extremism. It is possible, though, that Tamerlan Tsarnaev last year also prayed here.

SAUERBEKOV: Of course, the (INAUDIBLE) mosque is their mosque, where all the Wahhabists go. Our technological work gives us operational information that Abu Dujana went there, met people, and agitated. Not once but many times.

WALSH: There are reports that Dujana was observed at the mosque and he was observed meeting Tsarnaev. Do you know this?

SAUERBEKOV: I really can't answer this. For different reasons, I can't answer. You understand me?


TAPPER: And Nick Paton Walsh joins us live now from Dagestan.

Nick, is it possible -- is it possible that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was linked to these insurgents in Dagestan?

WALSH: It's entirely possible. They were in the same city at the same time. Tamerlan Tsarnaev linked to a video of Dolgatov Abu Dujana from his YouTube channel. But at this point, we have no proof that they met or were in actual contact at all. Circumstantially, it's entirely possible and you see the wealth of evidence there that suggests it. You believe the allegation against Tamerlan Tsarnaev what Abu Dujana knew could perhaps be useful.

But I should point out, U.S. officials are investigating what social media suggests about any links to extremism here in the Caucasus, but there is no concrete link established between them yet apart from that on his YouTube channel, Jake.

TAPPER: All right.

Nick Paton Walsh in Dagestan, thanks. Please stay safe.

Up next, how do you put a price on a lost limb or the life of a loved one? That's the impossible task attorney Ken Feinberg will face when he decides how to divvy up $20 million in donations among the victims of the Boston marathon terrorist attacks. I asked him about it. And we'll talk about that in a little bit.

And later, he works for the Department of Homeland Security but he's also a victim of the Boston bombings. Hear his incredible story.

Stay with us.