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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Bombing Suspect Moved to Prison; Boston Carjacking Victim Speaks Out; Carjacked by the Tsarnaevs; Surviving Bombing Suspect is Sitting Up and Writing

Aired April 26, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The victims at Beth Israel Hospital no longer haunted by his presence.

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

The Boston bombing suspect now in prison, moved to a federal hospital, behind the walls of an old military fort, while half a world away, his parents are on the move too, but not to the U.S.

He was maimed for life in Boston, but he still helped put authorities hot on the trail of the suspects. Hear what he saw when he looked into the face of Tamerlan Tsarnaev moments before the blast.

And we know him only as Danny, the man who police say was carjacked by the suspect and somehow escaped to tell about it, how he's coping after the most terrifying 90 minutes of his life.

Good afternoon. I'm Jake Tapper. We're coming to you live from Copley Square in Boston, where thousands have been drawn to a growing memorial of the victims of the Boston Marathon terror attack. CNN has learned from a law enforcement official that investigators are up to their elbows right now in a landfill about an hour south of here, near Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's former dorm room.

They're looking for his laptop. A source also says that investigators believe each brother had a remote-controlled detonate, but those have not yet been found. At least part of that information came from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, before he was Mirandized, but he has since clammed up, according to our source.

Meanwhile, victims and family members no longer have to tolerate being in the same hospital as the surviving Boston bombing suspect. Authorities transferred Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to a prison hospital about 40 miles away on the grounds of a decommissioned Army base. He had been at Beth Israel Deaconess since his capture recovering in the same hospital as several of the people he's accused of trying to kill.

As I mentioned, I'm standing by a makeshift memorial in Copley Square, and 264 people were wounded in the terrorist attacks here last week. And 30 are still in the hospital. And, of course, there are the victims who died in the bombings. Let's take a moment to remember them, as always, 8-year-old Martin Richard. His mom and sister were also terribly wounded. And 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, she cheering on a friend at the marathon. And 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, she was a Boston university grad student from China. And lastly, 26-year-old Sean Collier, the MIT police officer allegedly gunned down by the suspects while they were on the run.

I want to go now to our Jason Carroll, who is outside the Devens Federal Medical Center, the prison hospital where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been transferred.

Jason, what can you tell me about how he was handled once he arrived there?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we're told it all happened some time around 5:00 a.m. this morning. And as soon as Tsarnaev was brought here by U.S. Marshals in handcuffs, he was put through something called the intake screening process.

The first step of that is he's strip-searched. And then following that he's given a psychological evaluation. He's also given a medical evaluation. And then there is something else that he goes. It's through called a social intake screening. And during that process, he's basically told about all of the rules at the facility that he's going to be housed here.

And then he's fingerprinted. He -- then official takes a DNA sample from him. He's also photographed at that point as well. All of that material then turned over to the FBI. And, Jake, I'm told that entire process lasted for just about an hour, before they then transferred him to his cell.

TAPPER: And, Jason, what can you tell us about the cell that he will be housed in?

CARROLL: Well, because he's a high-risk offender, he is put in a restricted section of this facility. The entire facility can house about up to 1,000 inmates. But in this special section where he's held, that can hold up to about 30 inmates.

And in this special section, the cell is pretty basic. We're talking it is a steel door. I'm told it has a slot that food goes through. Basically, he's got a toilet in there. He's got a sink in there as well, a very basic cell where he's housed.

TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

We're digging deeper into what U.S. agencies knew and when they knew it about the older bombing suspect's movements. We know that Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Russia last year, into the Chechnya and Dagestan area, came back in July. Now a federal official confirms to CNN that a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official who was assigned to Boston's joint terrorism task force did get a heads up about Tsarnaev's return, but it is not clear whether or not he flagged it to his colleagues.

I want to bring in CNN analyst and former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes.

Tom, can you explain how border officials interact with terrorism task forces? Are they part of the task force?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Jake. They're absolutely part of the task force.

They're sitting side by side with every other member of the task force, which would be obviously the FBI agents, but also state police, city police, county police, other federal agencies, from DHS, the State Department. Every one of these concerned agencies and the U.S. attorney's office typically will have representatives that are sitting there, side by side, literally.

And they each would have access to all of the databases that may come into play from their own home agency, as well as the databases of the terrorist watch centers and screening centers. There is a variety of databases that come to play, especially because each agency also has its own individual guidelines for things that they're trying to keep track of as well.

So everybody is sitting side by side. There's no stovepiping. There's no keeping information within one agency and not sharing it. Every member of the JTTF has to go through the screening process to be cleared and given a top secret security clearance. That enables to read the FBI traffic that is coming in, other intelligence traffic that comes in, so that there is no restriction that we're cleared with clearances and you're not, so you can't look at it. None of that happens on the JTTF. Everybody has the same clearances or above and has access to all of this material.

TAPPER: Tom, since the FBI interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and found nothing on him in 2007 or at least nothing derogatory, was there really any reason for this border official to sound the alarm that he was back in the U.S. or do you think that there was no reason for him to do so?

FUENTES: No, that would be speculating now on what -- when that case was closed, if there is no additional derogatory information, if he's put in the TIDE database, that's 50,000 names -- I mean, 500,000 names, literally, so you wouldn't automatically have a notification on half a million people's movements for the rest of their lives in an FBI database.

What would have been required is additional information from Russia to say, hey, he came here and met with our bad guys, we have got him walking into our surveillances, we're monitoring his cell phone traffic here in Russia, we're monitoring his e-mail traffic here in Russia. Here's what we found, and, oh, by the way, we decided for whatever reason, which would be a mystery, not to arrest him and he's on his way back to your country.

Normally there is no way for the U.S., the FBI or others to know what he did in Russia unless the Russians actually passed that back and say what he did. TAPPER: Tom, Russian President Vladimir Putin was answering reporters' questions yesterday and he said this -- quote -- "Since the Tsarnaevs did not live in the Russian Federation, they came to Russia from Kyrgyzstan and only appeared here occasionally while residing in the United States, the Russian special services, to my great regret, were not able to provide our American colleagues with information that would have operative significance."

What is your take on that? Deconstruct and translate that from what you know of Putin and the Russians.

FUENTES: My interpretation would be that he's saying that his own special services did not find out about Tamerlan or realized that he was in their country doing that, but they would have if he met with the people that they have been watching.

So the particular cell, Abu Dujana, and his associates who show up on Tamerlan's YouTube video that he has on his YouTube account, that group was under 24/7 coverage, some coverage by the Russian services. They don't have to contend with First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, probable cause. These issues don't -- it is not the same there. So they're able to monitor completely the movements of the group, which eventually in December results in them killing Abu Dujana and his main people in Dagestan.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Fuentes, thank you so much.

FUENTES: You're welcome.

TAPPER: Jeff Bauman awoke last week to find his legs amputated after he had been caught in the blast. As soon as he could, he grabbed a pen and wrote, "Bag, saw the guy, looked right at me."

Bauman realized he had come face to face with one of the suspects and he helped kick into high gear the search for Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Now he's speaking out about his ordeal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): This haunting image of Jeff Bauman has become one of the iconic images of the April 15 terrorist attack.

QUESTION: Are you thinking at that point you're going to make it?

JEFF BAUMAN, BOMBING VICTIM: Not really. You know, actually when Carlos picked me up and threw me into the wheelchair, then I was, like, all right, maybe I am going to make it, but before that, no way. I thought I was done.

TAPPER: The 27-year-old Bauman recently shared what was going through his mind at that moment with local radio station WEEI.

QUESTION: Did you see what had happened to you? Were you aware of what had happened?

BAUMAN: Yes, yes. Yes. I kind of just -- I don't know. I just toughed it up at that point, you know? Yes.

I mean, I was definitely hurting. But I was sad. I was -- that someone would actually do that.

QUESTION: Yes.

TAPPER: Bauman's legs were shredded, but his memory was pristine. And he described Tamerlan Tsarnaev to law enforcement.

BAUMAN: I was with my girlfriend's roommates and we were having a great time. We were watching the runners. Everyone was having a great time. And just that one guy, you know, he didn't look like he was having a good time.

So he was right next to me at that point. And he had a bag and he had his glasses. He had kind of like a leather like sweatshirt type of deal. And, you know, it is warm out. He's just an odd guy. He just struck me odd. And that's what I remember of him.

And then next thing you know, I hear fireworks and I'm on the ground, you know?

I was still conscious when I was being transported from the blast site to the hospital. And the whole time I was -- when I was in the hospital, I was giving descriptions of the guy, the first guy, the guy with the hat and the glasses, the aviators and the 5:00 shadow.

TAPPER: So, what did he think when he heard that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been killed?

QUESTION: What about when you found out that the guy you saw was run over, literally, by his brother?

BAUMAN: Yes. What I thought was, he's dead and I'm still here, you know?

TAPPER: Still here and already thinking of others. Here he is giving an 18th birthday present to Sydney Corcoran, also wounded in the hospital.

QUESTION: You don't sound angry. You don't sound pissed off. Can I ask you what your feelings are about the men who did this to you and so many other people?

BAUMAN: Yes, I'm pissed obviously.

QUESTION: Yes.

BAUMAN: But, I mean, it's in the past, you know? You can only look forward. I had a lot to live for before, and I got a lot to live for now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Jeff Bauman says he is recovering well and going to occupational and physical training. He also says he cannot hear very well. But he is looking forward to getting his strength back. Our best wishes to him.

Coming up, he pulls over to make a call and comes face to face with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Now the carjacking victim is telling every detail of his ordeal, including their conversations about girls, iPhones, and his split-second decision to make a break for it.

Plus, what kind of road lies ahead for the bombing victims? One Marine who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan knows exactly what they're going through and he is trying to help. He will join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: (AUDIO GAP) from the makeshift memorial that has sprung up here at Copley Square in Boston, you see the mementos, teddy bears, Boston Red Sox hats, baseballs, people writing wishes, pray for Boston, prayer for Boston. You see the graves here for the four who were killed here, Sean Collier, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, and 8- year-old Martin Richard.

It's been amazing in the last couple days to see the citizens of Boston and others, visitors come here and pay their respects. It's almost like a holy place as people come here, holding their children a little tighter, holding their loved ones a little closer here in Copley Square.

We're learning for the first time today about the carjack victim and his 90 minutes of terror. He was held captive on that night, that horrible night, Thursday night, and it was his bold escape by the man that calls himself Danny that helped put police on the suspects' trail, as you might expect he is still shaken by the entire ordeal.

We talked to someone who has been helping him deal with his brush with death, one of -- a colleague of one of his former professors.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PROF. JAMES FOX, ADVISER TO CARJACK VICTIM: He wanted his story to be out there.

TAPPER (voice-over): Northeastern University criminology professor Jim Fox tells us the story of Danny, who only wants to be identified by his American nickname.

(on camera): So, walk us through what happened. He was driving that night and he pulled over.

FOX: He was driving up Brighton Avenue. He was pulled over. He had a text message and you don't want to text and drive. But while he was pulled over another car came up from behind, a sedan, one of the -- as we now know -- one of the alleged bombers got out.

TAPPER: Tamerlan, the older brother.

FOX: Tamerlan got out, knocked on the passenger window. Danny couldn't hear what he was saying, rolled down the window a bit to hear, Tamerlan then reached inside, opened the door, pulled out a gun, got in the passenger seat and pointed the gun at Danny.

He said to him, "Did you hear about the bombers in marathon?" Danny said, "Yes". He says, "Well, I'm responsible and I just killed a Cambridge cop."

TAPPER: Danny does a number of things to try to convince Tamerlan subtly that his life should be spared. He emphasizes that he is from China. He emphasizes that the Chinese are very good to Muslims.

FOX: Right.

TAPPER: He downplays how much the car cost.

FOX: As long as that drive continued, over an hour and a half, there was interaction. There was talk about cell phones and CD players and girls. He became a person, and that was critical to his survival as well. But then Tamerlan asked, how much gas do you have in the car? And it did seem that they wanted to know how far they could drive with the gas that they had and they needed gas. So they found a Shell station.

The next stroke of luck for Danny and perhaps for the rest of us was that the gas pump did not take credit cards. Cash only.

TAPPER (voice-over): When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went into the gas station to get money from the ATM, Danny saw his chance to escape.

FOX: One of his abductors was inside the shell station. Tamerlan was sitting in the front. He didn't have the gun poised. It was in the side pocket. So in short order, Danny undid his seat belt, opened the car, and ran to the rear of the vehicle crossing the street to the mobile station.

TAPPER (on camera): He runs in and takes refuge, tells the employee there what's happened and the cops come.

FOX: Right. He even hides in the storage room.

TAPPER: In fact, it's through the GPS in Danny's car that the cops locate the Tsarnaev brothers.

FOX: Right. Tamerlan in fact asked if there was a GPS in the car and Danny said no. Well, there was.

TAPPER: It was that quick thinking lie that led authorities to finally locate the brothers. But amidst the carnage and heart break of this attack, Danny does not see himself as a hero.

FOX: To him the heroic ones were those that came to the aid of people who were suffering at the marathon and the police. He was just trying to save himself.

Now, inadvertently, it appears that he may have saved countless other lives. We now believe that the two brothers would have gone to New York, perhaps set another bomb in Times Square. Who knows how many lives would have been lost? (END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: A remarkable story.

Fourteen of the Boston marathon bombing victims have had to undergo the trauma both physical and psychological of losing at least one limb. Few of us can really understand what that's like, so enter Marine Sergeant Gabe Martinez who lost both legs after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day 2010. He came to Boston to deliver a message of hope to victims of the terrorist attack like Celeste and Sidney Corcoran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't do anything right now.

SGT. GABE MARTINEZ, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Right now, yes. But I'm telling you, with all my heart, you are going to be more independent, you know, than you ever were.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so glad to hear that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Marine Sergeant Gabe Martinez joins me here in Boston.

As I said this morning, thank you for your service.

MARTINEZ: Appreciate it.

TAPPER: Really appreciate it. Thank you for your heroics now helping with the people like the Corcorans. We saw just a three-minute YouTube clip.

But tell us what it was like to experience that. What did you tell them and how are they doing?

MARTINEZ: That was three minutes ago. Probably a long, lengthy hour of a visit with them. And, you know, I went in with other heroes and we just went in there and basically just coped with them. And told them everything will be all right.

And being that I have the same injuries as the mother Celeste, it really hit home and I was able to kind of relate to her on a personal level and just give her that hope, because, you know, everybody can say you'll be all right, you'll be OK, but it really hits home when somebody can really relate to what you're going through.

TAPPER: Well, when I look at you and I think oh, yes. He doesn't have his legs, but you seem to be doing pretty well.

MARTINEZ: Not too shabby.

TAPPER: I could see that being reassuring. Tell me what she is going through because you were there at one point and it must have -- it can't have been that you dealt with it as well as you're dealing with it right now. What is it like in those initial dark days?

MARTINEZ: As an amputee, I wasn't born this way so when it happened, questions just raced through my mind. Am I going to be dependent or independent? Am I going to, you know, how is my life going to be? And so all of the questions racing through her mind right now is how she is going to be, what's the next step? What do I do now? Am I going to be all right?

And you could say you'll be all right but until I walked in that door and told her you're going to be all right, you're going to do great things, you're going to get back to doing hair like you love, every piece of information I was able to muster up I gave to her.

And so just to, kind of, give her that hope and just let her see that I'm a living testament to what I'm saying.

TAPPER: And, in fact, if this had happened 20 years ago or 30 years ago perhaps you not be able to deliver such a positive message but the technological and medical advances in prosthetics are so remarkable. How -- tell me about a normal day for you. How debilitated at all are you from -- compared to when you had your legs?

MARTINEZ: Really not at all. It's like putting shoes on in the morning. Wake up in the morning, do my stretches, maybe a couple pull-ups and just get about my day. As soon as I'm cleaned up I put my legs on and go from there. I wear my legs all day, do whatever -- anybody else would do, go to the grocery store, go out for dinner and whatnot.

TAPPER: You're, in fact, training for the Paralympics.

MARTINEZ: I am. That's why the pull-ups are in the morning.

TAPPER: Unbelievable. You're an inspiration. Thank you so much and thank you for sharing your story with the victims of this horrible tragedy.

MARTINEZ: Certainly.

TAPPER: We should mention you're with the team Semper Fi.

MARTINEZ: Semper Fi Fund is the people who made this happen and there is a mentorship program just in place.

TAPPER: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. God bless you.

Coming up, marathon runners give up their shoes to show their solidarity with the bombing victims. But how did this magazine get all of those sneakers?

And Congress rushes through a bill to end the air traffic control nightmare, but do those lawmakers have selfish motives?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Breaking news now into CNN. We're learning new details about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger Tsarnaev brother, was transferred to a new hospital today in a prison in Devens, Massachusetts. We've now learned that despite his injuries, he is reportedly sitting up and writing.

Our Ashleigh Banfield joins us on the phone with more details.

Ashleigh, what are you hearing?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, I've been speaking with law enforcement sources in the hospital and they told me that the transfer happened at 3:30 in the morning. And that's not a surprise considering that this was probably one of the more cloak-and- dagger events due to the amount of press that was everywhere. The 3:30 a.m. transfer happened.

Because he was in good condition to do so and the law enforcement officers actually in the presence of the suspect said it's been a couple days, Jake, since he has been sitting up and he has been doing a substantial amount of writing since he arrived at the hospital last week.

Here is a perhaps more unusual detail. The suspect has been receiving mail. The law enforcement source that I spoke with would not say where the mail was coming from. But there were several people who sent mail to this suspect at this facility. He did not get it. They turned it over to the FBI for analysis. But there you have it -- people reaching out to the suspect while he was at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital for this last week.

TAPPER: All right. Ashleigh Banfield, great stuff. Thank you so much. Much more to cover from here in Boston, but we want to quickly update you on the flight delays caused by the forced spending cuts and some good news for travelers. Thousands of air traffic controllers will head back to work soon. Today, the House of Representatives voted for a bill ending the furloughs that went into effect Sunday.