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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Stock Futures Turn Mixed; Deadly Flooding in the Midwest; Boylston Street is Back; Boston Bombings Suspect Speaks to Investigators; A Tale of Heroism in Watertown; Interview with Rep. Peter King.

Aired April 24, 2013 - 0830   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk more about this now with New York Congressman Peter King. He is a member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.

Congressman King, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, John. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: You have been briefed recently by the FBI, by intelligence services here on this investigation. The latest information we've been receiving is that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect is saying that he was self-radicalized by watching online videos and had no connection with any outside terrorist groups.

Is that still the information you're getting?

KING: That basically seems to be the story. But I don't see how we can accept that. Listen, they end up being the truth. But here's a person who is a mass murderer, here's a person who is -- barely can speak if speak at all. I don't see why he would be giving up any accomplices he may have or talk about any connections his brother may have had in Chechnya or Russia, so I think to me, what he is saying is such a small part of the overall picture.

This is an investigation that I think he wants for days, weeks and months, to be drilled down on every aspect, all their contacts. For instance, you just mentioned, John, about buying all those fireworks in the store. Now where do they keep them during the last several months? Did anybody else know about it? Did anybody ask why they were buying them?

So many questions. For him to say he acted alone, he and his brother acted alone, I think it's much too early to accept that.

BERMAN: We should indicate, no one is suggesting that people are taking Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at his word. Again, he is a suspect accused of mass terror plot here.

KING: Right.

BERMAN: This is just what he is saying and investigators are looking into it right now. Another piece of information we've been getting overnight, based on some of these briefings, we had been told that the FBI was contacted by the Russian Intelligence Service once in 2011, with concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. We now are getting indications that it was more than once. There was repeated contacts. What can you tell us about that, sir?

KING: Yes, it's a real discrepancy there. I got the impression from everything I've heard, so now that there was just one contact and the Russians didn't follow up, so I'm not sure. I know that Senator Burr has -- Richard Burr has referenced a number of contacts.

Again I think -- this is one of those discrepancies we have to, you know, drill down on to find out exactly when and how often you know, the Russians did reach out.

And, John, I think it goes beyond it may have been a mistake made. That can happen all the time. I think what we also have to look at here is do FBI regulations have to change? For instance, if it's true, that they believe that they could not keep an investigation open because there was a -- you know, not enough information and the file has to be closed and couldn't be reopened later on, you know, I think we have to look into that.

To me the FBI should be in much flexibility since we have these ongoing threats and it's very seldom that we're going to get a specific piece of information that's going to tie someone to a threat. It's always going to be, I think, bits and pieces. So it may well be the FBI is to review what its procedures and regulations are here.

BERMAN: That's one area. We have to clear out that discrepancy about how many contacts there were. No question about that, Congressman King.

KING: Right.

BERMAN: Another thing I want to ask you. There are some indications that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, they were followers at least online of Anwar aw-Awlaki, the American born cleric who then went to Yemen and since been killed. And of course that magazine "Inspire" which provides an online guide in some cases to building bombs.

It was as simple as watching these online videos of people like Awlaki and reading "Inspire" magazine. If it's as simple as following that, then become a domestic -- or a terrorist here in the United State and people up, how do you police something like that?

KING: Truly very difficult to do and I can tell you "Inspire" has had a real impact because it was written by an American Shamir Khan, and he understood American idiom. It was written in a very, almost colloquial way. And I know that that has had an impact in the number of cases. Now Shamir Khan and Awlaki had been killed and the magazine is not as effective as it was. But for a number of years, that was -- believe it or not that one magazine seems to be a main recruiter for young Muslims in this country as far as self-radicalizing. You know, that's difficult to -- obviously we can't stop people if it's really what they want to read. We can't stop people from saying what they want to say. But I think that can be factored in as to how much -- how much scrutiny, the local police or the FBI going to give to someone when there's other information.

I mean, you heart that the older brother is involved in radical activities from the Russians, plus you find out he's reading "Inspire" magazine, plus you find out he's being inspired by radical imams, then to me that's all we factored in as to the level of surveillance that he should receive.

BERMAN: What is the next step, sir, in this investigation?

KING: I would say to follow every possible lead. To follow -- and go to every phone call, every e-mail saying -- you know, go through the hard drives, go through everyone they've met. Talk to all of the family members and also what's happening in Russia could be very promising as far as finding out who the older brother met with when he was there. What radical groups he may have met. What training he may have gotten.

And also back home here, to find out all the contacts, all the contacts that these brothers had over the last several weeks. Also I think we should ask, did the FBI share information with the Boston Police? And should they do more of that in the future as far as, you know, what -- what they heard about the older brother. But I would say right now, it's just to drill down on every aspect involving these two brothers.

BERMAN: All right, Congressman Peter King, really appreciate it. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

KING: Thank you, John. Thank you.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, new pictures have surfaced showing the Boston bombing suspect exchanging gunfire with police in Watertown, Massachusetts.

CNN's Jake Tapper spoke with Andrew Kitzenberg, the man who took those photos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW KITZENBERG, WITNESSED SHOOTOUT: As soon as I saw the two shooters and saw that it was gunfire, I ran immediately up the stairs to my bedroom on the third floor, and I also got my camera, right up against the windows and the glass. Continuing to take -- to take photos of the shooters and what was happening right in front of my bedroom window.

JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": Did you know that these are the brothers that were wanted?

KITZENBERG: Not initially.

TAPPER: You thought it was separate?

KITZENBERG: I just wasn't thinking marathon. I didn't make a separation. I just -- it didn't come into my mind until they started using explosives, and when they started using explosives that's what I knew was something much more significant and pretty much knew who I was looking at.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Kitzenberg used his iPhone to photograph the shoot-out. He also provided live descriptions of the gunfight on his Twitter feed.

Meantime, as those bullets flew in Watertown, Thursday night, one police officer came up with an ingenious idea, an attempt to keep himself and his colleagues alive, Drew Griffin picks up this incredible story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In a hail of bullets this Watertown police SUV became the decoy. Taking fire, a bullet through the windshield, side and back windows shot out. And according to the chief, all part of an instant decision made by one of its sergeants literally in the heat of the battle.

CHIEF EDWARD DEVEAU, WATERTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Oh, yes, there's serious gun fight going on, the second person on the scene, one of my sergeants, he pulled up, and he immediately gets at least one shot right through his windshield. So he is under fire as soon as he shows up.

GRIFFIN: As the two gunmen open fire, as bullets whiz past police officers, as bombs are flying, the sergeant decides to abandon the SUV and use it as a weapon.

DEVEAU: You don't plan for this, you don't train for this. He has the -- how you -- I don't even know how to describe it, the courage and the determination to keep fighting and he decides to put the car in gear, because of his car is taking the fight. They're shooting right at him in that car.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And as that police SUV was just rolling down the street with nobody in it, the suspects kept firing, thinking the officer was inside. He was actually escaping.

DEVEAU: And so they think he is still in the car, so they are unloading on the car while he is able to take up a position to decide, and start, you know, returning fire.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The SUV eventually towed away is riddled with bullets, the sergeant, who may have saved his comrade's lives, is a little concerned about how bad it's beaten up.

DEVEAU: And at the end he said to my captain, you know, I hope the chief is not mad at me, the cruiser is a little bit damaged. And I said, Sarg, are you kidding me? You know? They're going to be writing about you in the textbooks now. That was brilliant under very difficult situation to be able to think that through and be able to do that.

GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Watertown, Massachusetts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: That is quick thinking and some of just the most amazing police work that's gone on here over the last nine days.

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. We'll try to learn as much as we can from that.

Christine Romans is back in New York now with more on the day's other top news.

Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, again, John. A court hearing today in Canada on the alleged terrorist plot to attack a passenger train running between New York and Toronto. King and authorities say al Qaeda is behind the 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.

One of the first lawsuit has been filed in the Texas fertilizer plant explosion. Andrea Jones Gutierrez, a resident of West, Texas, are suing the owner of the plant for $1 million. She and her 14-year-old son lived in a nearby apartment complex that was destroyed. Gutierrez said they lost all their worldly possessions. The blast killed 14 people, injured 200, and destroyed at least 75 homes.

A homeowner in San Bernardino County, California, has been forced out because of a landslide. A broken water line beneath the house saturated the hill side, causing the dirt to slide to the bottom of the held. KABC-TV reports that slide under the home's patio. It's 40 feet wide, 10 feet deep, leaving the home in danger of collapsing.

Republican Senator Rand Paul issued a statement, saying his stance on drones hasn't changed, but they should be considered an extraordinary lethal situation. Paul has been taking heat for comments he made concerning the manhunt for the marathon bombing suspects. Here is what he told FOX Business Network.

"We shouldn't be willy-nilly. But if there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I'm not against drones being used to search them out, heat seeking devices being used. Later he added quote "if someone comes out of a liquor store with a women and $50 in case, I don't care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him." Earlier this year, Paul argued against drones in a 13-hour filibuster.

Former CIA director David Petraeus who resigned after admitting an extramarital affair has been named the next visiting professor at the City University of New York. He is one-year position begins in August. He'll lead a seminar, give talks, meet with students to discuss their research projects.

Petraeus' lawyer said the former director was approached by many schools and he chose this one for its diversity, location and class offerings.

Alex has been openly gay since high school and now the 23-year-old former college kicker wants a shot at the NFL. He might have been drafted last year but blew his chance with a disappointing senior season at Middle Tennessee State. He knows an NFL job is a long shot but says he's determined to give it his best.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, rising floodwaters forcing thousands from their homes. It's only expected to get worse. We're live in St. Louis next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. "Minding your Business" this morning a big drop in durable goods orders has turned stock futures mixed. March durable goods fell 5.7 percent; that is bigger than expected and durable goods are long lasting things like airplanes, cars, refrigerators, things built to last longer than three years. So it's a sign of people's confidence in the economy.

In the meantime, solid earnings for Boeing and those shares are up in the premarket. But Boeing didn't give a cause for all of those problems related to its 787 Dreamliner. That fleet is still grounded after battery issues earlier this year caused several emergency landings.

Are you feeling the economic recovery? New data suggests it's been good for the rich and not so good for the rest. The recovery during the first two years after the recession, the wealthiest seven percent of households saw their mean household net worth jumped 28 percent hitting more than $3 million in 2011, investments like stocks are the main reason for that jump.

Meantime the housing market was flat, that hurts basically everybody else. The lower 93 percent, their mean household net worth fell four percent to an average or mean of $133,000.

All right. Developing overnight, severe flooding turning deadly in the middle of the country; swollen rivers are already to blame for the four deaths in the Midwest. Governor Jay Nixon declaring a state of emergency in Missouri; flash flooding swamping part of his state.

CNN's Jim Spellman is live in St. Louis. Good morning Jim.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you Christine. It sure does not feel like spring here in St. Louis. Cold, blustery, windy morning and take a look at the Mississippi River. There is two lanes of road and then there's this boat docked here, none of this usually underwater. It's about five feet above -- above flood levels at this point. It could have gone another four feet. That was the projection last week. So some good news there, the river is cresting here in St. Louis. It will crest in other communities in this part of the country right now. They feel guardedly optimistic that they're not going to see widespread damage from it here.

Up in Fargo, North Dakota, the story is warm spring temperatures melting snow. They are getting the sandbags out and getting ready to do what they need to do to be ready for their flooding up there in Fargo.

As you mentioned four people dead so far from this flooding, a fifth person missing up near Peru, Illinois. She was last seen on Friday in aerial photographs stuck, surrounded by water near her vehicle. They hope that they can get to restart their searching once this weather clears up a little bit. This is the story all throughout the upper Midwest down into the south -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Jim Spellman live for us this morning. Thanks, Jim.

Still ahead, Boylston Street opening up to the public again today. We're live in Boston right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back.

New details this morning about what may have been the motivation behind the Boston marathon bombings this comes as Boylston Street site of the explosions once again open to the public this morning. Workers spent the night cementing and scrubbing to get things back to normal, a new normal I guess in Boston.

Miguel Marquez is live for us this morning in Boston. And it's -- it's a really touching scene behind you this morning as those streets open up Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very touching and a great sense of relief here as well. This is the memorial. Everything that was along Boylston, which was closed for so long was all brought here to Copley Square. Look at the shoes here; people literally giving the shoes off their feet to the victims, the memory of the victims.

I want to show you one thing over here real quickly if I could. Very, very sweet, on a park bench here, it's a square, a baseball in memory of Martin for Martin Richard, the eight-year-old who died, from Brandon age two and below it a band believe in Boston.

We're seeing that video that we shot overnight of the street, Boylston Street and the site of the first bombing. They're replacing bricks, they're replacing the cement and on the window of the shop there, "Boston Strong", which is a very touching thing to see all over the city right now.

The other thing that we are learning is more from the hospital bed of the younger Tsarnaev brother who survived. He is telling investigators that it was Iraq and Afghanistan that fueled their anger; that they had no communications, no radicalization from outside the country, that they were self-radicalized in that sense. And that videos from the likes of Anwar al Awlaki, the American cleric who was killed by U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year was where the group got a lot of their sustenance from.

And it's -- this was very much a -- a self-radicalized situation they are saying. Whether or not that can be believed is something that investigators are checking out and trying to figure out.

It's also the case that -- that he may be moved from Beth Israel Hospital because the victims, their families, their friends, have complained now that he's being held in the same place as they are being treated. So doctors are trying to work with law enforcement to figure out how soon they can move him out, which may happen in the days ahead -- back to you.

ROMANS: Miguel, what are folks telling you about you know coming to the scene, walking around Copley Square, going to Boylston Street? Are they -- are they just trying to have some closure, are they trying to remember the victims? What are people telling you about -- about what they're thinking this morning?

MARQUEZ: Well it's a little bit of everything. I mean, it's a lot of business, people just sort of going up and down Boylston, it's nice to see traffic up and down it again. A lot of folks are saying look it's a nice, it's just nice to get back to normal. The trains are running again, the -- the -- the stops are open, the traffic is running, you can get up and down the street, you can get across the city as well very easily. And coming here, it's just -- you know, there's a lot of hugs, a lot of smiles and a lot of people are just gathering and reflecting.

ROMANS: All right, Miguel Marquez. Thanks so much Miguel.

With the city on lockdown last week and the marathon bombing suspects still at large, a Boston police officer -- a Boston police officer showed what it really means to protect and serve. He delivered milk to a Watertown family that desperately needed it for their 17-month- old son. The family snapped this picture of the officer and posted it on Facebook. It has since gone viral having been shared on Facebook and Twitter some 10,000 times.

STARTING POINT is back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: And that's it for STARTING POINT this morning. I'm Christine Romans. CNN's continuing live team coverage of the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings, continues right now with Wolf Blitzer in Boston.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Christine.

Before the sun rises, Boston tries to vanquish the nightmare. City workers scrub away blood stains and remove bricks scarred by last week's bombing. Boylston Street reopens to pedestrians and inches toward a new sense of normalcy.