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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

U.S. Delegation Arrives in Dagestan; Taking Back Boylston Street; "Biggest And Loudest"; Remembering Sean Collier; Boat Owner Speaks Out; No "Enemy Combatant" Label for Suspect; Deadly Flooding in the Midwest; L.A. Agrees to Pay $4.2 Billion; Uncle: Bombing Suspect "Brainwashed"

Aired April 24, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to Boston, everyone. At this hour, a delegation from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is in Dagestan trying to meet with the parents of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They're doing that with the cooperation of the Russian government.

Also, here this morning, it is a proud morning for Bostonians. Behind me, Boylston Street, which was the site of the marathon bombings, been a crime scene for nine days. It is open to the public this morning. Work crews were on the scene deep into the night.

They were cleaning up the streets, resurfacing the area where that first bomb went off so that police could really hand over the heart of the city back to its people. I had a chance for a little predawn walk on Boylston Street. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: This is the site of the first explosion. The first bomb went off right here at 2:50 p.m. on marathon Monday. They're filling it in right now so it's all closed off before the streets really open to the public this morning.

But let me show you something. Look at this building, Marathon Sports. The fourth floor, all the way up to the fourth floor here, they have windows boarded up. Those were shattered by the force of the blast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I should also tell you that on the ground this morning there were already flowers near the site of that first blast. Now we know how the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly built their bomb.

A New Hampshire fireworks shop confirms that Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought products containing about three pounds of black gun powder. He did that two months ago after asking the clerk for the biggest and loudest kit in the store. He did that in New Hampshire, a few miles north of here.

And happening later today a memorial here in Boston for one of the victims, at noon, Vice President Joe Biden will attend a service for Sean Collier. He is the MIT officer killed during the manhunt for the suspects.

Meanwhile later this afternoon, the House Intelligence Committee will receive a full briefing on the terror attack. And this morning, we are hearing for the first time from the man who found the surviving Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

He was discovered hiding in David Henneberry's boat and he's talking to CNN affiliate WCVV's Ed Harding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This boat is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My baby.

ED HARDING, WCVV REPORTER (voice-over): The Slipaway 2 was in Dave Henneberry's backyard as it always is in the winter.

(on camera): Did you see anything unusual about the boat?

DAVID HENNEBERRY, FOUND BOMBING SUSPECT IN HIS BOAT: Well, I put pads in between the -- the shrink wrap.

HARDING: Right.

HENNEBERRY: It's called the belly strap. I put roller pads, you know, rollers in there, and it stops the chafing. And two of those had fallen down to the ground.

HARDING (voice-over): At the time, he didn't think twice about it. And when word came to resume normal activity --

(on camera): So at that point in time what do you decide to do?

HENNEBERRY: Go out. Get some air. You know, and I said I'm just going to go put the pads back.

HARDING (voice-over): They were bugging him. So he went to the backyard to investigate the pads.

HENNEBERRY: No indication of anything. I know people say it's blood on the boat. If you saw blood and you went in. Not --

HARDING: Not true?

HENNEBERRY: Not true.

HARDING: Now the word is you saw the boat, you pulled back the wrapping, you saw a body, it moved and you called 911.

HENNEBERRY: No, no, no.

HARDING: No?

HENNEBERRY: No, no, no.

HARDING (voice-over): So he went to the garage and grabbed a stepladder.

HENNEBERRY: I got I think three steps up the ladder, and I rolled it up and I can see through now the shrink wrap, I didn't expect to see anything. And I look in the boat over here, on the floor, and I see blood and --

HARDING (on camera): A lot of blood?

HENNEBERRY: A good amount of blood.

HARDING: Yes.

HENNEBERRY: And I said, wow, did I cut myself last time I was in the boat a couple weeks ago and forget? No. You know, no. Then I just looked over there, and there's more blood on the floor. And I looked back and forth to those two spaces a couple times and my eyes went to the other side of the engine box. The engine box is in the middle there was a body.

HARDING: And at that moment, what did you do? What were you thinking at that moment?

HENNEBERRY: My God.

HARDING (voice-over): He couldn't see suspect number two's face. He was glad he couldn't see his face.

HENNEBERRY: Well, I know I took three steps up the ladder. I don't remember stepping down off the ladder. I think I just --

HARDING (on camera): And then you run in the house.

HENNEBERRY: Yes.

HARDING: And immediately call 911?

(voice-over): And told them there's a body in the boat. And when he got off the phone, he went right back outside.

HENNEBERRY: It hits you more afterwards when you think my God he probably slept last night. This guy could be -- you know, I don't know, it just -- it's surreal.

HARDING: In that instant, police responded and he and his wife were taken away.

(on camera): People are calling you a national hero, you know that?

HENNEBERRY: Incidental hero. I wasn't out on the prowl. I was out to see my boat and I stumbled across the suspect. That's, you know --

HARDING: But you -- you've contacted everyone, you did the right steps and it reached a successful conclusion. HENNEBERRY: It did do that. I guess, I did do that. I'm glad -- I'm just glad -- I hate to use cliches, words, but people got killed can get some --

HARDING: You know, in many ways, they do.

HENNEBERRY: You know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: What an amazing story. What an amazing story. This morning, suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's condition is said to be improving. He's been upgraded from serious to fair condition. He still could be moved out of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to another facility.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us today. He is back in New York. Sanjay, we hear fair condition. What exactly does that mean?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, these terms can be a little bit subjective, John. But basically what it means is that the vital signs that they've been monitoring for him are stable, and they're staying stable.

When someone is in serious condition he may have vital stable signs, but you still worry that they may become unstable sometimes. The patient is typically in the intensive care unit. I think in more of a lay perspective, it sort of means that look, the injury that he sustained no longer considered life threatening.

It's not to say that doctors still don't worry about things like infection, and the rest of his hospitalization. But it's sort of out of the woods from those initial injuries -- John.

BERMAN: We're also hearing, Sanjay, that he may be moved soon to a different hospital in the area. Does that indicate to you, again, that his condition may be improving?

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. You know, one of the things that you sort of think about if this were a situation that didn't involve an investigation, typically a patient like this might be able to be discharged to some sort of rehab facility, or even to home within the next several days.

So, certainly, you know, the situation is different here, but you wouldn't do that. You wouldn't take them out of the acute care setting no matter the situation, unless you felt that they were stable enough to do that. Not only to be in the new setting, but also for the transfer. They had to actually move the patient from one place to the other.

BERMAN: And of course one of the reasons also that he may be moved is right now in Beth Israel there are victims still there, victims of these attacks who are still being treated. We understand that some of the families there are upset that the suspect and the victims are being treated in the same hospital. This has got to create a very difficult situation for the medical personnel there -- Sanjay.

GUPTA: You know, it's a -- this is obviously a very unique situation, but oftentimes this sort of thing happens in big, urban city hospitals where you do have both the victim and the alleged perpetrator of a crime in the same hospital. You know, hospital I work, Atlanta County Hospital, that happens, and the system is often set up to be able to handle that.

Keep people in separate places, the medical staff doing their job as physicians, nurses, health care professionals. So it's -- yes, I think it's a psychological one, no question. And again, John, this is a wholly unique one in that regard.

But I think from the medical staff themselves, they take care of the patients and oftentimes they don't even have any interaction, even with the medical staff treating the other patients -- John.

BERMAN: Got to do your job one way or the other. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Really appreciate it.

We want to bring in former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He had such key insight to this, obviously worked as a key figure in the Bush administration. He's now an attorney in Nashville, Tennessee. Thank you so much for being with us, sir.

ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good morning.

BERMAN: Let me start off by asking you about an issue of should this man be treated as enemy combatant. The White House has been adamant that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect, will be tried as in the federal court system, not as an enemy combatant. Do you support that decision?

GONZALES: Well, from my perspective, the key is what is the best way for the U.S. government to bring this person to justice? And also to bring information which may help us prevent additional attacks in the future, and provide some level of closure.

Provide answers that provide some level of closures to the family. And so apparently the White House Department of Justice made a calculation that they can achieve both of these objectives by trying in our criminal court.

There are some complications if he's designated an enemy combatant for example that designation is going to be challenged by the suspect's lawyers, which will force the government to perhaps show its hand in showing why they believe he's an enemy combatant and they don't want to do that.

They do not want to do anything that may complicate a subsequent trial on the merits. So for a variety of reasons I think this makes sense.

BERMAN: What advantages would they have, though, or would they have had had they gone the enemy combatant route in terms of the investigation? GONZALES: Well, the obvious advantage is the ability hopefully to gather more information. Now, I say hopefully more information. It is possible that even in the criminal justice system that this individual is cooperating and providing information.

And also through the criminal process, you often have a situation where the suspect, in exchange for a more lenient sentence may be more cooperative in sharing information.

So the information that we desperately seek in this particular case may be obtainable through the criminal justice system. But I think the presumption is that it's easier, you have more time to gather information if you designate someone as an enemy combatant.

BERMAN: You worked for so many years during the Bush years trying to learn the lessons from September 11th and implement the changes from those lessons. I know we're in the early stages here, but what do you think the lessons are from the Boston marathon bombings?

GONZALES: Well, that we are safer today than we were on 9/11, but we're not safe yet. I think many of us who worked in the Bush administration, we've gone around the country sort of telling people that, you know, that America is safer, but we're not yet safe.

I've always believed that it was never a question of if there would be another attack. It was a question of when would there be another attack and we've done a lot. The government has done a lot.

Congress has given the government additional tools to protect America, but we have to be lucky and we have been lucky. Obviously, the law enforcement has done a tremendous job in protecting America, a tremendous job in apprehending this particular suspect.

But we still have some very serious challenges in the world, and when you live in a country that cherishes our freedom so much in an open society, it presents very difficult challenges for both law enforcement and our intelligence capabilities, but again, we have to move forward.

Hopefully, America can live life as normally as possible, but we have to be vigilant about the challenges that exist against the United States.

BERMAN: Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Appreciate your insight, sir.

GONZALES: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: Let's get to Christine Romans in New York with the rest of the day's top stories. Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John. We're keeping an eye this morning on a court hearing today in Canada in the alleged terrorist plot to attack a passenger train running between New York and Toronto. Canadian authorities say al Qaeda is behind that plot. Two suspects are being held without bail. One is due in court in just a couple of hours. His alleged accomplice had a hearing yesterday.

Dangerous flooding turns deadly in the middle of the country. Here swollen rivers are already to blame for four deaths. Governor Jay Nixon declaring state of emergency in Missouri after flash flooding drenched many parts of that state.

According to the National Weather Service rivers in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi and Michigan, all in danger of flooding, even more rain, some snow even expected in that region today.

A multimillion dollar settlement for two women injured during the manhunt for ex-cop Christopher Dorner back in February. The city of Los Angeles has agreed to pay Maggie Coronza and her mother, Emma Hernandez, $4.2 million.

They were delivering newspapers when the LAPD mistakenly fired on them while they were inside their truck. Hernandez was shot twice in the back. Coronza was injured by broken glass. The "L.A. Times" reporting this morning both have recovered. John, back to you in Boston.

BERMAN: All right, thanks so much, Christine. Ahead on STARTING POINT, as we continue to explore the Boston marathon bombing investigation, could the Tsarnaev brothers really become so radicalized, just on their own, just from watching videos?

Former CIA Director Ambassador James Woolsey joins us live. You are watching STARTING POINT.

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BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. Live here from Boston, behind me what was the crime scene, Boylston Street, now open for business for the first time since the bombings.

This morning investigators are looking into Tamerlan Tsarnaev's online influence, asking a lot of questions, including whether an al Qaeda in Yemen web site helped him to build the bombing. Here's CNN's David Mattingly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eye witness photographs capture the violent street shootout and the last moments of a desperate and dangerous Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

A federal law enforcement source tells CNN Tsarnaev's own brother conveyed to investigators he was not only the mastermind behind the Boston bombings, but he was motivated by a jihadist call for retaliation for so-called attacks on Islam, a self-made radical, with a wealth of information at his fingertips.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Estimate that there are over 8,000 web sites that are -- that have very extremist radical ideology.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Eight thousand?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over 8,000 web sites.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Donna Jamback studies the reach and impact of online Jihadist sites.

(on camera): How many of these offer explanations or instructions on how to build weapons?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of them do.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A senior administration official says investigators are trying to determine if the online "Inspire" magazine, published by al Qaeda in Yemen, could be one of the sites possibly providing the blueprints for the bomb Tsarnaev used. But there are doubts that Tsarnaev could have built the devices successfully without some kind of training.

BOB BAER, CNN ANALYST: The fact that five of his bombs went off is an extraordinary piece of luck or he knew what he was doing. I don't see any middle way.

MATTINGLY: CNN analyst Bob Baer believes Tsarnaev could have had personal contact and training with Jihadists when he visited his parents in Russia early last year. Social media may provide a clue. After returning to the U.S., a video of an Islamic militant known as Abu Dujana was posted and then removed from Tsarnaev's YouTube Channel.

BAER: He listened to somebody there, maybe got some sort of training, or at least watched people build this stuff. Something, there's something we're missing. I just have an uneasy feeling about it. But, not having the facts, I can't, you know, assure you 100 percent.

MATTINGLY: A U.S. government official tells CNN's Tsarnaev's brother claims they had no contact with any foreign terrorist organization. An online preachings of Anwar Al-Awlaki were a likely influence, but as hard answers behind his radicalization prove elusive. There is no doubt in Tsavraev's ability to conceal his sinister plan to those closest to him, his parents and even his wife.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reports of his involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Our thanks to David Mattingly for that. Family members tell CNN that the elder brother, Tamerlan Tsavraev, was becoming increasingly radicalized in his devotion to Islam and he may have influenced they say by a friend. The surviving brother has told investigators that the two acted alone with no outside assistance or influence from foreign groups. Joining us now from Washington is former CIA director and chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Ambassador R. James Woolsey. Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate it.

AMBASSADOR R. JAMES WOOLSEY, CHAIRMAN, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Good to be with you.

BERMAN: One of the things we are hearing, that the brother, the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsavraev is telling investigators, not sure if we should believe him or not, but what he is saying is that the brothers became self-radicalized here in the United States by watching online videos. Does that seem believable to you, sir?

WOOLSEY: Yes, largely. I mean, this seemed to be what happened to Major Hasan who killed the 13 of his fellow soldiers in Fort Hood a couple of three years ago. It seemed to be what happened to the underwear bomber who was only caught by alert passengers and crew on an aircraft after his father went to the State Department and said my son is extremely radical, watch him.

We don't look very good in terms of one part of the U.S. government talking to another. The people who looked the best in the last few days are the Mounties in Canada. They kept track of these two guys for two years and were able to arrest them before they blew up a train between Toronto and New York.

BERMAN: If it's as simple as being radicalized by watching online videos, how do you police that? How do you go about stopping that from taking place in another city in another few months?

WOOLSEY: Well, I think one has to -- as much as they had in this case. They had the Russians come to them with information about it and what they did was conduct an interview and asked him if he was a terrorist. He said no, and they said, well, OK and closed the case.

But if they stayed with it, they might have seen that he had bought these pyrotechnics, black powder, fireworks that he apparently used in the bombs, they might have seen his -- something about what he was doing on the web, what he was watching.

They would have known about his trip to Russia. But the Department of Homeland Security apparently didn't talk to the FBI and the CIA, and the FBI never got a foreign intelligence surveillance act, a warrant, which seemed to me would be one possibility. This is a case of government agencies not working together and not even communicating with one another.

BERMAN: So many years after September 11th now, when there was so much concern about agencies communicating with each other and now yet again, we are hearing about possible communication problems. What does that say to you?

WOOLSEY: Well, there was a directive from the Justice Department back in the Clinton administration that made it hard in some of these cases even for one part of the FBI to talk to another, much less the CIA and FBI to talk to one another.

Some of those things got straightened out after 9/11 and people thought by establishing a director of National Intelligence who would oversee all intelligence in the country. A job now held by Jim Clapper. That that would solve the problem, but here we have agencies that are not really part of the intelligence community.

The FBI, partially a little bit sometimes, Department of Homeland Security, not, and I don't know. It makes one wish that we could go down to New York and draft Ray Kelly to come run all of this operation for us in Washington because he's doing a terrific job in New York.

BERMAN: Take that as a nomination. Sir, James Woolsey, thank you so much for being with us. Ambassador, really appreciate it.

WOOLSEY: Thank you. Good to be with you.

BERMAN: STARTING POINT is live from Boston. We will be back here in just a moment. Stay with us.

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BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, the latest from here in Boston. We'll give you the updates on the investigation and also tell you about the city of Boston, back on its feet. Boylston Street, which is the site of the marathon bombing is open once again to the public today. A full nine days after those bombings.

Also, a public memorial today for slain MIT Police Officer Sean Collier. We will talk to two police chiefs about this slain officer and also get their take on the investigation. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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