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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
Russia Warned CIA and FBI about Bombing Suspects; Site of Bombing Re-Opened; Militant's Ties to Bombing Suspect
Aired April 24, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world on another very important development in the Boston bombings investigation. From Boston to Russia.
First, breaking news on an apparent intelligence breakdown involving the government and suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. We know that Russia warned the FBI about him. Now a government official says Russia also alerted the CIA about Tamerlan, asking the spy agency look into his shift towards extremism.
And tonight new reports the CIA recommended adding Tamerlan to a terrorism database. What happened next?
Also in Dagestan, the parents of the suspects were interviewed by officials at the U.S. embassy, and the father reportedly will be flying to the U.S. as early as Friday. Possibly to assist in the investigation.
At the same time, we're learning much more about the older brother's trip back home. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Dagestan and will join me live.
In Boston today, though, remembering one of the bombing victims. Thousands attended the service for slain MIT officer, Sean Collier.
And tonight in Copley Square some extraordinary scenes, incredible and deeply emotional sight, just a few feet from the marathon finishing line. A memorial to the victims, people leaving flowers and cards, and stopping to pay tribute to the lives so brutally taken and so many who were so badly wounded.
But we're covering this story around the world tonight with Nick Paton Walsh in Dagestan. Jake Tapper and Deb Feyerick in Boston.
Jake, I want to start with you. A day of increasing revelation, really, about a collective ball dropping possibly by the FBI and now it may seem the CIA.
JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": That's right. CNN learned that not only did the FSB. That's the Russian equivalent -- well, the successor to the KGB. Not only did the Russian FSB reach out to the FBI in 2011 and ask them to keep an eye on Tamerlan Tsarnaev and look into who he was, and whether he was an extremist that pose a threat, but the CIA also heard from the FSB.
And there are also all these questions right now about different watch lists that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was put on. And how come the system pinged for the Department of Homeland Security when he went over to Russia to Chechnya. But it didn't ping when he came back. A lot of questions from Congress for the intelligence agencies.
You know, piers, taxpayers pay hundreds of billions of dollars for a very expensive and thorough national security apparatus in this country. But I think we're seeing that still has a lot of kinks that need to be worked out -- Piers.
MORGAN: Right, Jake, and we've got some clips, I think, of John Kerry, Joe Biden and Jay Carney. Talk me through them. Because a lot of conflicting messages being sent by some of the top people in the American government.
TAPPER: Yes. They sure are. What you're going to hear from -- you're going to hear Secretary of State John Kerry talking about his views on the -- on Tamerlan Tsarnaev and whether or not he was trained overseas or domestically. Then you're going to hear Vice President Biden and how he characterizes the Tsarnaev brothers. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: 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.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: Why? People say to me, they surely know they can never defeat us. They can never overthrow us. They can never occupy us. So why? Why, whether it's al Qaeda central out of the FATA or two twisted perverted, cowardly, knockoff jihadis here in Boston? Why do they do what they do?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the act was cowardly, and it was terrorism. But --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Jihadists seem to indicate that he doesn't believe they're connected to a large, foreign --
CARNEY: I'm sorry. You're making assessments that I'm not going to -- engage in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, Piers, what you have there is the secretary of state suggesting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was trained in Chechnya, although the State Department walked that comment back and said that the secretary of state was not specifically referring to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but was referring in general to extremists who go abroad and are trained abroad. You can believe that or not. Then you have Vice President Biden describing them as knockoff jihadis, which seem to suggest that they were, as we've heard from other intelligence sources, self radicalized. That they were not affiliated with an outside group. And then you have Jay Carney at the White House suggesting that that interpretation I just shared is not necessarily the correct interpretation.
You have a lot of different conflicting messages coming from the administration about the details of this case. I think it reflects, to be generous, the fact that there is a lot of uncertainty about what exactly is going on, and I -- there was a lot of clean-up that had to be done by State Department officials and Jay Carney about the comments made by the principals, Mr. Biden and Mr. Kerry -- Piers.
MORGAN: Right. You're being more generous than I am. I think the whole thing has descended into outright chaos here and at the center of it, you clearly have Russia making a series of warnings to the FBI and the CIA about somebody who then blows up the Boston marathon. And they can talk their way around the houses on this, but that's what we're left with, isn't it, Jake?
TAPPER: Well, obviously, the Russians were concerned, otherwise they wouldn't have reached out. And according to intelligence official I spoke with last week, and reported, I believe, on your show, it's rare that Russia reaches out and asks the U.S. to look into a specific individual. It happens all the time with other countries. But Russia does not do it.
Now there is this other broader context, Piers, which is that U.S. officials are generally skeptical of the way the Russians regard the Chechens when it comes to that war and they think that they're trying to make -- they're trying to make the U.S. regard their enemies in Chechnya to be the U.S.'s enemies and U.S. officials don't want to do that. So maybe that skepticism had something to do with how seriously this request by the FSB, the Russian FSB was taken. We still don't know.
MORGAN: We don't. Jake, thank you very much, indeed.
As the investigation moves forward, so does Boston. Tonight, the site of the attack is open again. CNN's Deb Feyerick is there and she joins us live from Boylston Street.
Deb, pretty emotional down there tonight, it seems.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, it's been very emotional. It's been very emotional all day. And a number of people are coming simply they're leaving flowers and hats and stuffed animals, notes, cards. The primary message is, you will be remembered, we will not forget. We're in this all together.
And you know, there was a very -- what's so interesting is when you look all around, you can see, even behind the windows of the building were blown out back there. Investigators, forensic experts have been working this scene, this was a crime scene up until today. And they removed windows, they removed doors, they even removed a tree that they think one of the suspects may have touched. This is really where Tamerlan Tsarnaev left his -- left his backpack. And we spoke to a couple of girls who came back -- they were standing right here, and they were amazed at the twist of fate that allowed them to escape uninjured, while others were not so lucky. Take a listen, Piers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like it didn't happen. Sometimes it feels like it's all in our head and that we're going crazy. Because it doesn't make sense that we were standing right there, and we're here and we're alive and safe, and we're going to be OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: And the description that they gave, one thing that's very frustrating to them is that they can't really remember. It was almost a blur. They thought the blast come up from below and then all of a sudden they said it felt for like five to 10 seconds that they were just paralyzed, that they couldn't move, and then things started coming into focus. But not so much what was going on, but shapes and colors, and they saw people who had fallen and people who were wounded, and one of the girls said, you know, by remarkable twist of fate, it was the girl next to her who was badly injured while she just got really a couple of pieces of shrapnel in her leg.
So they're coming back, and they're clearly still so emotional. I asked them, you know, what now. What next? And they said, you know, they've got to remember their life before this happened. This will bring -- this attack has brought the city together, has brought friends together, strangers together. But what they will remember is just what their life was like before and try to get it back on track -- Piers.
MORGAN: Deb Feyerick, thank you very much.
Important to note, again, that over 40 people remain in hospital with pretty serious injuries from that bomb. Still extraordinary that so few died.
Halfway around the world, new details about an extremist who officials say may have influenced Tamerlan. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more on the story and joins us live from Dagestan.
Nick, the whole story now seems to be really focusing on what Tamerlan Tsarnaev got up to when he went back to Russia. What happened in Dagestan? Did he go to Chechnya? Is that relevant or was this all centered, perhaps around some radical extremists that he met when he was in Dagestan?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right, Piers. We don't actually know Tamerlan Tsarnaev met with radical extremists when he was here. We do know that from his YouTube channel, he posted a link to a video of a now dead Dagestani extremist called Abu Dujana. Abu Dujana was kind of the amir of an area here, which sort of sounded like the local almost Islamist mafia warlord to a degree, a group of militants who today I spoke to police about.
They showed me video of them in the words training with weapons, dressed in camouflage, learning how to make explosives through videos. One photograph of that of how you would construct a mobile phone-based detonator for a bomb.
The police chief also said to us that this particular militant group had foreigners working with it who came here to learn. He said that included Arabs and Turks, to quote him directly there. And I said, could it have included an American, and he told me -- didn't actually -- he couldn't exclude that. He also said it may include people of Dagestani origin who then went to live abroad.
So interesting potential for overlap there. But at this point, no clarity whether the two met or not. We also understand that Abu Dujana was a regular attendee of Salafist Islamist a mosque in the heart of Makhachkala where I'm talking to you from. This mosque also relatives have suggested may have been attended by Tamerlan Tsarnaev last year.
So there's no concrete link of him physically meeting or speaking. There's that link -- forgive the pun -- from the YouTube channel to the video of Abu Dujana, which does suggest at least Tamerlan Tsarnaev had an interest in this militant who lived in the same town as him and his father at some point last year -- Piers.
MORGAN: We now know that his father is coming over to America, possibly as soon as Friday. We thought his mother was, but that seems unlikely now. What is the investigators' view of these parents? Because they've both got asylum out of Dagestan and then they go back there. Do we read anything sinister into their activities?
WALSH: Incredibly itinerant parents and family. Very hard to piece together the motivation of why they chose to go one way or the other. When I spoke to the mother yesterday she was quite generous actually in her comments about the American government. I think perhaps they feel that the refuge they got there in the United States earlier and last decade was something they deeply appreciate.
They seem to have come back here. It seems last year. We heard from the aunt, because the father was badly ill and thought he may want, in her words, to be buried here. And then the mother came back at a later stage, almost switched out with Tamerlan, to continue looking after the father.
So it's very hard to put motivation between this globe-trotting that they often seem to do. But it does seem they came back here. We don't know if that's connected at all with the mother in terms of any charges she may have been facing in the United States. A complicated picture, certainly. But investigators, I'm sure, will have been poring over the parents to try and work out what they could tell them about the six months Tamerlan spent here.
We know he arrived in January. We know he met his aunt only in March. He was with his father at their house by May. But there are still gaps at the beginning of his trip. We don't know where he was the entire time while he was here -- Piers.
MORGAN: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much indeed.
Let's get to the second intelligence break -- bombing suspect. What happened? With me now is Congressman Adam Schiff, member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.
What is going on here? Has this just been a massive ball dropped collectively by the FBI and now the CIA?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: Piers, I don't think people should leap to that conclusion. Both because I don't think we've seen the evidence that that's in fact what happened. And because the investigation is still very early.
When the FBI got this information from the Russians, they went out, they did an interview, they did a pretty thorough look at this subject of the Russian concern. They then went back to the Russians and said, you know, we haven't been able to find anything. What have you got? You know, give us some guidance here. The Russians didn't respond, they went back to them actually a couple more times and got no further information from the Russians.
So what they did check out, they weren't able to verify in any way. And I don't think that should lead us to conclude that somehow the FBI dropped the ball. Also you know, these claims that there were multiple requests by multiple -- by the Russian government to multiple agencies, from what I gather, there were only two requests, and if they were not identical, they were nearly identical.
So I think people should avoid this rush to judgment of a bureau that frankly has been doing spectacular work in the investigation since the event. And I haven't seen an indication yet that they failed to do the work they should have before the event.
MORGAN: Senators McCain and Ayotte requesting that Homeland Security hold a hearing as soon as possible into this. And it would certainly seemed to me there were plenty of grounds to the very least have an inquiry, isn't it?
SCHIFF: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think Homeland Security should. And the intelligence committee investigations have really just begun. Both who get at what did we know about these brothers beforehand, what might we have done differently, what do we need to adjust in the future. But also, you know, the broader problem, which is we are seeing this increase in self radicalization.
I don't know, frankly, what would be more troubling, Piers, whether the brother went to Chechnya, was radicalized there, or, in fact, he was radicalized at home. That's almost a bigger problem to deal with. And what we may have to confront is that while we felt ourselves as somewhat immune from the problems that Europe has experienced with increasing alienization and radicalization of some of their immigrant community, we may be starting to see those impacts here at home.
MORGAN: Congressman Schiff, thank you very much indeed.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: Coming next, former CIA operative Bob Baer on what went wrong in tracking the bombing suspect. And my exclusive interview the family of a missing Brown University student wrongly accused of being one of the bombing suspects.
MORGAN: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev indicates that he and his brother were self-radicalized jihadists. But family members believe outside influences are to blame, including a mystery friend named Misha.
Joining me now is terrorism expert and author of "The Al Qaeda Factor," Mitchell Silber, also here is Matthew Rojansky, he's the deputy director for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and CNN contributor, former CIA operative, Bob Baer.
Bob, let me come to you. We've talked almost every night about this. From the point of view of the FBI, perhaps, dropping the ball. Now the CIA appeared to have also been warned about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. What do you read into this? I mean, has there been a fairly catastrophic intelligence failure here?
ROBERT BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's systemic, absolutely. There is no other way to describe it, as a failure. Immigrations didn't tell the FBI that he was leaving. Immigrations didn't tell the FBI that he was coming back. We don't know what the CIA told the FBI. But two warnings from Russian intelligence, you don't ignore. The FSB, the SVR, the two main Russian intelligence services, don't like the United States. They don't provide tactical intelligence. And when they do, you'd better listen.
This is not a case of politicized intelligence, which would have occurred if it was a Chechen leader living in the United States. There are a couple or one in the Gulf. Yes, they do try to frame them. But simply a man of 26 years old, they had something firm in order to come to the United States. And that was ignored by the system. And we do need congressional hearings because we should have gotten over this after 9/11. The stove piping has gone on. There is an inability to have a unified database that people are actually looking at this and are forced to act when a red flag goes up, like going back to Dagestan, going back to the front.
MORGAN: Right. I mean, Mitchell Silber, if you just take the basic facts that we now know and this is Monday morning quarterbacking, I know. But they're still facts. We now have this 26-year-old who has been reported by the Russians to the FBI, and the CIA as a potential threat in America and in Russia. And a number of warnings. None of which are acted on. Then he goes back to Dagestan for six months, he's married with a young kid. And just disappears.
All of this put together looks deeply suspicious. And then he goes and blows up the Boston marathon. This is pretty shocking, isn't it? It is to me. MITCHELL SILBER, AUTHOR, "THE AL QAEDA FACTOR": It is. I mean, for a U.S. intelligence and law enforcement, the fact that he went outbound to Russia, Dagestan, generally that's a very difficult thing to detect. The actually moving outbound of someone going overseas. However, it's the return back to the United States that's really -- that's the moment when the red flag should have gone up.
If he had been identified previously by the FSB, and that information had gotten to the U.S. intelligence community, when he came back, when he hit customs and borders at Logan Airport or wherever it may have been, at that point he should have been pulled aside and members of the JTTF should have been brought in to interview and find out what happened while you were away for six months. That's a long time to be in Russia and Dagestan.
MORGAN: It certainly is. Let's turn to you, Matthew Rojansky. You're an expert in this area. Originally all the focus was on Chechnya, but it may be the other than the fact that they are of Chechen ethnicity, this got nothing to do with Chechnya at all. It could all be focused on Dagestan and extremists there.
MATTHEW ROJANSKY, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Yes, I think that's right, Piers. It's not only Dagestan, though. It's the entire north caucuses region. And indeed if you look more broadly virtually into the Russian Internet, it's the space in which Russian Muslims who make up about a fifth of Russia's population, so you're talking about tens of millions of people, many of whom are disgruntled with the way that Russia has treated Muslim minorities. They create the type of content that we're hearing over and over now was in the YouTube playlist of both the Tsarnaev brothers.
And then when you're physically on the ground on the front as one of your guests said, I think the opportunity to be inspired by that, even if not yet radicalized, is quite real.
MORGAN: In terms of the kind of terror that goes on in Dagestan, we heard earlier this character called Abu Dujana who has since died, he died last December. But certainly he would have been around and operational at the time that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was in Dagestan. And clearly up to all sorts of terrorist activities, including using foreign people and these forest training camps and so on.
It almost is reminiscent of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, isn't it? So it's quite -- likely, I would say, to surmise that Tamerlan has been hooking up with people, at least affiliated to this character.
ROJANSKY: You could imagine a number of scenarios. The fact of the matter is always going to be the Russians would have known more or at least would have had the opportunity to uncover more when he was on their soil, he was speaking their language, he was among their citizens, and they absolutely have assets on the ground in Dagestan, as you'd expect them to do.
The question is, what did the Russians convey to the United States? Was the broader relationship in a place where that information would have actually been listened to. Irrespective of the stove piping questions. Were we even in a place politically where we were going to take warnings from Russia seriously or we were going to say, this is your problem, it's not our problem, and were they going to do the same thing? I think that's the big problem in 2012, the relationship was a mess.
MORGAN: Bob Baer, we now know that apparently these devices at the Boston marathon were set off using a remote very similar to a toy remote. When you put that together with the pressure cooker, which we know has been talked about a lot on al Qaeda magazines and so on, and you talk about the way they have constructed these devices, the way they have set them off, the very casual manner they stayed around to watch their handy work.
Putting it all together, these are not novices, are they, or at least the older brother is not a novice.
BAER: No. I mean, Piers, look, you don't set off that many explosions without having tested this stuff. It's just a fact. You know you talk to anybody who deals with it. Yes, you can make one bomb, you can blow up a toaster at home with a cell phone. Yes. On and on and on. It's all sort of Hollywood fantasy.
But when you're under fire, a running gun battle and you're throwing explosives out of a car, lighting them with a cigarette lighter, with I don't know how they lit them. And these things go off, it just doesn't happen. Unless you've had some sort of experience, or you've been in a combat area.
The Special Forces will tell you that most people freeze when shooting starts. These people didn't. They ran, they moved. They evaded. They held back a police pursuit. They had some sort of either ice water running through their blood or they had some sort of experience.
MORGAN: Right. And, Mitch Silber, would you go along with that? It certainly seems to me that these are people who have had either very good training or they just are unbelievably freakishly good at getting information from the Internet. But you've got to say the former is the more realistic, isn't it?
SILBER: Well, you know, "Inspire" magazine had a specific issue devoted to how to make a device out of a pressure cooker. And, in fact, here in New York City, back in November of 2011, we had an individual follow that recipe to a T. And in his apartment in Hamilton Heights, the upper west side, was building a bomb in the kitchen of his uncle per se. And that bomb was going to be a pipe bomb.
And essentially, you know, following the same type of recipe that the two brothers might have followed. So they may not have had experience overseas, but they probably did test it out somewhere else. We have seen other examples where Najibullah Zazi who was going to attack the New York City subway in 2009, he experimented in a hotel room in Colorado, how to make a hydrogen peroxide device. So individuals do want to try this out beforehand before they actually launch their plot. MORGAN: Right. Let's take a short break. When we come back, let's try and drop some more dots in Boston, see if there is a connection there to Tamerlan Tsarnaev's radicalization and that of his younger brother. We're going to talk about this mysterious character, Misha. That's after the break.
MORGAN: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev indicates he and his brother were self radicalized jihadists. But family members believe outside influences are more to blame, including a mystery friend named Misha. Joining me now is terrorism expert and author of "The Al Qaeda Factor," Mitch Silber. Also here is Matthew Rojansky, the deputy director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and CNN contributor Bob Baer.
Let me go to you, Matthew Rojansky. One of the problems now, I guess, is now you've had this terrible atrocity in Boston. Will the Russian authorities be that keen to try and establish that this could all have been predicated by activity in Dagestan?
MATTHEW ROJANSKY, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I think the last thing the Russian authorities are likely to do at this point is to reveal whether it's true or whether it's simply speculation that something could have been done on their part to stop the attack. I think it's much wiser from the Russian perspective now to simply look forward and say, look, we'll help you unravel and investigate what actually happened. If that means they've got to conceal opportunities that they had that they indeed missed or that they intentionally suppressed, I think they're going to do that.
But looking forward, I do think it's in the Russian interests, as well as the U.S. interest to ensure that we're talking and sharing intelligence. That, after all, was the whole point of the reset back in 2009, that our officials ought to talk to each other, because we're on the same side of a lot of these important problems.
MORGAN: Right. But it seems to me that the Russians were trying to talk to the American intelligence authorities but they weren't getting very far. Mitch Silber, if it isn't the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev going back home to Dagestan, getting into bed with messy terrorist-related people, and then coming back with his new tricks and blowing up the marathon -- if it turns out that he and his brother were self radicalized right in the middle of Boston, what is that going to send as a message to the American people going forward?
MITCHELL SILBER, AUTHOR "THE AL QAEDA FACTOR": I think it's a very disconcerting message. I think most Americans, since 9/11, when they think of terrorism, they think of it as a threat that emerges from overseas. So the idea that two individuals may not have linked up with anyone overseas, may only have radicalized via the Internet, that is an issue that raises a lot of issues. Number one, from an intelligence perspective, how do you detect that? The signals for that are very faint.
And if the signals are very faint and law enforcement is going to have a tough time detecting that, what does that mean from a civil liberties perspective? How deep is the American public going to allow intelligence agencies and law enforcement to try and detect it before we have a Boston type event?
MORGAN: Bob Baer, this mysterious Misha, the family friend of the Tsarnaevs, that the two brothers' family insist was more to do with the radicalizing of Tamerlan -- he's of Armenian descent, a recent convert to Islam. He encouraged Tamerlan to quit boxing. Could this be a complete red herring, or could there be some merit to the argument that it was somebody like that over here that radicalized this young man's head?
BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that almost inevitably it's a combination of the Internet, reading the newspapers and some sort of influence of somebody who has been through this and thought through it and talked about the justice of it. I think in all of these cases, there's some -- it's either a cleric or somebody who has really thought through things. And you know -- and then go back to Dagestan. I mean, the -- what are the chances of him showing up, going to the mosque, and not finding somebody, a Salafi, who shared his views?
I think if you're in the middle of a conversion like this, you reach out and you want to talk to people. You want to confirm your opinions. Who would have -- may not have not known about Boston, but certainly had encouraged him to follow the path of Jihad. I think -- I don't think we can just say he stayed at his father's place and had no contact with these people. It's just not likely.
MORGAN: Matthew Rojansky, the Chechen rebels have been quick to distance themselves with this, saying look, our quarterly quarrel is with Russia not America. But there presumably would be elements of their rebellious force who wouldn't mind destabilizing America in some way.
ROJANSKY: No question. You have to remember, coming out of the 1990s, actually most of Chechnya was quite convinced the United States was fully backing the Russians in committing the atrocities that they did in the course of that war. And likewise, frankly, despite the deteriorating relationship between Moscow and Washington over the past decade, the belief among many Chechens was the west is backing Putin as he engages in these heavy handed repressions in the so-called insurgency period of the war.
All of that would have been a part of a kind of received narrative that both of the Tsarnaev brothers, but in particular the older brother, who would have been a little bit more aware while all this was happening, would have gotten from family and friends, as well as from Internet videos and things like that. So it makes them as individuals -- at the very at least, it's very clear, psychologically, these guys are vulnerable to that type of radicalization as part of their identity. It sort of is who they are, what they have inherited.
MORGAN: Matthew Rojansky and Mitch Silber and Bob Baer, thank you all very much indeed.
Coming up, my exclusive interview with the family of the family of the missing Brown University student falsely accused of being one of the Boston bombers. His brother and his sister join me next.
MORGAN: New development tonight in the search for a missing Brown University student who was falsely labeled as being one of the Boston suspects in the days after the attack. Sunil Tripathi, who vanished in March. Earlier today, Police said the body of a young man found in the Providence River may be that Sunil.
With me now exclusively is Ravi and Sangeeta Tripathi, his brother and sister. Thank you so much to both of you for joining me on what must be an incredibly difficult day after a very, very difficult week for you. First, let me start with this development, that a body has been found in the Providence River. Do either of you know whether that may be your brother?
RAVI TRIPATHI, BROTHER OF MISSING BOSTON UNIVERSITY STUDENT: First, thanks for having us. And as of right now, those are all unconfirmed reports and that's as much as we know, unfortunately.
MORGAN: It's obviously been a harrowing few weeks for you. He disappeared on March the 16th. Do you have any idea yet, from all of the inquiries, investigations that you've established? And I'll show some of the video you made soon about the search. Have you any idea what may have happened to him or why he disappeared?
SANGEETA TRIPATHI, SISTER OF MISSING BOSTON UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Our family and friends have been working tirelessly, night and day, looking everywhere for him, getting the word out, alongside the police-led investigation. And we have just been looking and working everywhere, and just praying that Sunil is okay.
MORGAN: There were reports, Ravi, that he suffered from depression. Is that true?
R. TRIPATHI: He never was clinically diagnosed. But his close family and friends -- we definitely knew he was having some problems, you know, with his mood. And we -- it kind of bound us together. We all came and communicated with him as much as possible. And both our nuclear family and our extended family had extensive contact with him, which is part of what makes this disappearance just so troublesome for us and so unknown.
MORGAN: What's made it so much worse for you as a family is that his name was linked in the last week to the Boston bombings, without any reason whatsoever. He had nothing to do with it. I want to play -- before we get into it, I want to play the video you've put together as a family, a clip from this, to establish the kind of man that he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I miss you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give us a call.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi Sunil.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want you back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, sunny, we miss you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are incredibly missed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, sunny, my second year classes are over. Can't wait to tell you all about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, dude. We miss you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: It's been gathering huge traction on social media, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. But in the middle of all this last week, suddenly this appalling news slur on your brother that he may have been one of the Boston suspects. Sangeeta, what was your reaction when you heard what was happening on social media, was driving it?
S. TRIPATHI: Yeah, it was incredibly painful for our family. This was coming at a time after 34 days of pain in our family and worry. And we, you know, knew unconvincingly that this was not Sunil, especially when we saw all of the video footage and surveillance that was being released. We were absolutely sure. And it was just very difficult to have the events of that night unfold so aggressively with language that was not based on any actual evidence at all.
MORGAN: They were calling your brother a bomber, weren't they?
S. TRIPATHI: They were. There was a lot of language on social media. There was also a lot of language on regular media. And you know, it just really reminded us of how powerful these platforms are and how much hurt they can do when they're not linked to evidence. It was just a very difficult night. It was a very difficult night for our family and friends.
MORGAN: Right. Ravi, I heard your mother was taking 50, 60 calls in the middle of the night, all from media wanting information. You know, really hard-core activity by the media, trying to establish if your brother was one of these suspects, purely from Internet traction and rumor that he looked like one of them.
R. TRIPATHI: I think that's one of the most troubling things for us, is that there was no evidence of anything, other than someone sitting at a computer looking at these blurry images released by the FBI and Sunil's pictures, and saying, oh, this must be the guy. And it was -- it was an incredibly hard night between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. We as a family received literally hundreds of phone calls.
And it was very -- as well as watching our Facebook page that we have been helping coordinate our search just get plastered with these baseless allegations.
MORGAN: Sangeeta, the horrible irony is you had been using social media so effectively to try and find out what happened to him, and then this medium that has been so useful to you suddenly became an implement of real torture for you and your family.
S. TRIPATHI: It's true. In the first week after we set up the page, we had over a quarter million views, and people were using it to download flyers for Sunil, to do many, many different things to organize our efforts. It's very difficult for our family. We're a very private family. It was very difficult to be so public with Sunil's story and with our lives. But we knew that we needed the public and we needed everybody.
And it was hard to see the other end of that spectrum through the course of that night. And we really just tried to stay focused and support each other. And the next morning, when the FBI released the names of the two suspects, we came back strong, unfroze our Facebook page, and really tried to redirect all of that negative energy back to, you know, a more productive way forward, that's a little more sensitive to how fragile our communities and our country and our families are.
MORGAN: Ravi, we have to obviously all hope and pray that the body that was found in the Providence River is not of that Sunil. If it is not he, and he is still out there somewhere, and by chance maybe watching this interview right now, what would you like to say?
R. TRIPATHI: Well, I would say to him that we love him, and we miss him greatly. And we are now again using our social media to try to encourage people to lend messages of support to him by taking a picture -- writing a message on their hand, taking a picture of it, and uploading it to our Facebook page. And we're hoping this support will keep us going.
S. TRIPATHI: And Piers, we would love to ask you yourself, you know, you have been covering a lot of pain through the course of the past week and a half in Boston. We would love you to -- if there is a marker or a pen somewhere near your hands, to take one minute, write a word or two on your hands, whether to people in the Northeast, our family, Sunil, anyone that needs a hand, and just sort of give that energy back. This is really where we're trying to send our messages and our spirits moving forward.
S. TRIPATHI: And help us bring everybody together, our communities together to be supportive of one another.
MORGAN: I will get a marker pen and I will do that for you before we come off air. That would be my great pleasure.
S. TRIPATHI: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: As I say, I hope you just get good news about the discovery of this body, that it isn't your brother. I hope that he turns up. And I hope you can be reunited with him. It has to be an absolutely agonizing time for all of you. And compounded by the misery of people accusing him of being a bomber when he had nothing to do with it. But thank you both for joining. I really do appreciate it.
S. TRIPATHI: Thank you, Piers.
R. TRIPATHI: Thank you very much, Piers.
MORGAN: Coming next, I will talk to the lawmaker refusing to apologize for comparing pressure cookers to guns.
MORGAN: Before we get to our next guest, I said I'd do this for Sangeeta and Ravi Tripathi on behalf of their brother who is still missing. And it's a simple message. It just says "Find Sunil." And I very much hope they're able to. >
Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield is standing firm, refusing to apologize for a joke he made about assault pressure cookers that clearly mocked the push for more gun control in America. He's been criticized for making the joke so soon after the Boston bombings. And State Senator Stacy Campfield joins me now.
Mr. Campfield, what was this all about? Why did you do this?
STACEY CAMPFIELD, TENNESSEE STATE SENATOR: Just pointing out the hypocrisy of the left, how they push for gun control ten seconds after Sandy Hook shooting. And yet when something else happens, they refuse to say that hey, it's not an inanimate object; it's actually the person. So when people go on and say, we have to get rid of guns, we got to push for gun control, it's just ridiculous. It's like pushing for pressure cooker control after the explosion.
MORGAN: What other things can you do with a pressure cooker other than kill people?
CAMPFIELD: You can cook food.
MORGAN: Right. What other things can you do with a gun other than shoot things?
CAMPFIELD: Other than shooting. I guess you can use it as a walking stick. You can hunt with it. You can go target practice. You can do all sorts of things.
MORGAN: You use a gun as a walking stick, do you?
CAMPFIELD: You. I guess theoretically you could. You could use it as a hammer if you really wanted to. But what's that have to do with anything? We're talking about an inanimate object that does nothing by itself. It does absolutely nothing by itself, just like a pressure cooker does absolutely nothing by itself. Now that gun control has failed, Piers, I'm wondering when are you going to move back to England. Because everyone in Tennessee is dying to know.
CAMPFIELD: I'm going to hang around and just see if people can't grow enough courage in this country to face the reality of your gun violence problem.
But in terms of what you did here, you don't think it's inappropriate, insensitive to be cracking jokes about pressure cookers when so many people were killed and seriously wounded? Fourteen people had amputations. You think this is a joking matter, do you?
CAMPFIELD: The joke was really about the left and how they push for gun control on inanimate objects. It's like pushing for, I mean, spoon control for obesity. It doesn't do anything.
MORGAN: You're likening spoons to guns?
CAMPFIELD: Well, I'm likening it into the impossibility of controlling someone's actions just because -- or thinking their actions are controlled by inanimate objects. They aren't.
MORGAN: So you're comparing, say, the slaughter of 20 children in Sandy Hook with an AR-15 assault rifle or the murderous activities of these two bombers at the Boston Marathon to a spoon. Is that what you're telling me, senator?
CAMPFIELD: No, what I'm saying is people who -- like yourself who try to perpetrate that a gun, an inanimate object is actually what killed the people, instead of saying it was the person with the gun, is very similar to someone saying, a bomb killed someone, instead of a person who constructed a bomb and blew it up.
MORGAN: Do you believe that the answer to gun violence is that more people should be armed?
CAMPFIELD: That's statistically what's always proven to be the case. Usually where you have gun control, places like south side of Chicago, New York City, that's where your highest gun crimes are. It's proven time and again, whenever you try and get rid of guns, violent crime goes up.
MORGAN: Right. So presumably your answer to what -- presumably your answer to what happened in Boston is that more people should carry bombs around, is it?
CAMPFIELD: Well, I don't have a problem? Like I said, you're not going to be able to stop violence by getting rid of the inanimate object. You're not going to get rid of -- criminals are still going to have guns.
MORGAN: That wasn't my question.
MORGAN: My point is, if you believe the answer to gun violence is more guns --
CAMPFIELD: Bombs are already illegal. Aren't bombs illegal already, Piers?
(CROSS TALK) MORGAN: The whole point -- a lot of guns are illegal. The whole point of the gun control campaign wasn't to grab your guns or anybody else's guns. It was to try to make military --
CAMPFIELD: -- try to do like Australia did. Australia did the exact same thing.
MORGAN: Yes, and it worked in Australia.
CAMPFIELD: And then they took everybody's guns away.
So you're in favor of taking everyone's guns away?
MORGAN: They did a buyback. Are you familiar with what a buyback is?
CAMPFIELD: Is that what you're in favor of, Piers, is taking everyone's guns away like Australia?
MORGAN: No, I'm not in favor of taking anyone's guns away. No, I'm not. I've never said that. It's a complete lie.
CAMPFIELD: Like the Australia plan?
MORGAN: I love the Australia plan. Do you know why? They have not had a single mass shooting since 1996 when they brought in their gun control measures.
CAMPFIELD: You know, wait, there hasn't been a single mass shooting in anywhere but gun free zones in the last 50 years, except for one, Gabby Giffords. So, if you're looking for gun free zone success stories, there aren't any. Actually, they have the opposite effect.
CAMPFIELD: Why don't you come back on after the next mass shooting and you can tell me -- come back on after the next mass shooting and explain to me again how jubilant you are that your country brought in not a single gun control measure, not even background checks. You people don't even want to have a check on who sells a gun --
CAMPFIELD: They don't work. The criminals are going to get the guns.
MORGAN: It's complete and utter lunacy.
CAMPFIELD: Gun control doesn't work.
MORGAN: -- because there will be one, and it will be down to people like you. That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper will start in a few moments.