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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Flight Delays from Spending Cuts to End; Tsarnaev Family Has Chechen Ties; Piece of 9/11 Plane Found; "We Will Finish the Race"; Inside the Emergency Room; "A Song for Boston"

Aired April 26, 2013 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: They caused some 3,000 flight delays. This bill gives the FAA permission to move money from another part of its budget to fund the controllers.

It's wiggle room in the forced federal spending cuts, the so-called sequester. President Obama is expected to sign it later today. Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash joins us now from Washington.

Dana, first for people there who may be online at the airport right now and are watching us on those airport CNN TVs all over the place, when is this going to take effect?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the FAA says that furloughs should be reversed fairly quickly. Right now as many as 1,500 air traffic controllers could be furloughed a day, but the transportation secretary can move that money into the account that funds their salaries rather fast. Of course, the president has to get the bill and sign it first.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the politics of this. Even though it passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly and very, very quickly, not all Democrats are pleased. Explain why.

BASH: That's right. I was walking the halls of the House today hearing a lot of House Democrats frankly curse under their breath and their frustration was aimed at fellow Democrats, both at the White House and in the Senate who agreed to fix the furloughs that delay air travelers.

Without trying to extract concessions from Republicans in areas where forced spending cuts are hurting the least fortunate like children who are head start programs and other things like that. Listen to part of my conversation with Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE TIM WALZ (D), MINNESOTA: I have a hard time going home to the Mayo Clinic and them saying why is cancer research money not restored? I think it's fair question to ask.

BASH: Cancer research and lots of other people who may not have a voice because they're not frequent travelers. WALZ: That's right. It is the out of sight out of mind. If you're on a plane a lot so you're irritated by this and now all of a sudden we're going to make an adjustment to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, other Democrats I talked to said, look, helping air travelers and doing it in such a bipartisan way is politically pragmatic. And something they really had to get off their plate to avoid getting distracted from issues they really want to be talking about.

Jake, I should note that as soon as House measures approve this measure that would change the law to make sure flights are not delayed because of spending cuts they, themselves put into effect, guess what they all did.

They raced to the airports to get home for the weekend. It's probably not an accident that of all of the effects of the forced spending cuts flight delays, the one that affects congressmen personally more than anything else, that's what got fixed.

TAPPER: Of course, members of Congress don't have a lot of children in the head start program. Thank you, Dana Bash.

From drug capital to food capital, don't miss Anthony Bourdain, "PARTS UNKNOWN." This week he explores the Colombia you have not seen before and shows us a new dawn for places that used to be controlled by ruthless cartels. The all new episode airs Sunday night 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.

What was so bad about living in Chechnya that made the Tsarnaev family flee to the U.S.? Our Nick Paton Walsh visits the childhood home of the bombing suspects' father where only rubble remains after bombing.

Plus one student's personal tribute to the victims in song.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live in Boston at the make shift spontaneous memorial in Copley Square, the site of the bombings. They are from a part of the world that is no stranger to terrorism and violence, the Tsarnaevs. Our Nick Paton Walsh has been following the family tree back to its roots in Chechnya.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heading into Chechnya, you feel the weight of two brutal wars for an independence Moscow would never allow. Its ruins rebuilt over the only upside of the Kremlin's heavy hand.

The Tsarnaev's family identity was forged here. We found their hometown from what is left of the family home. In its ruins lie the brutalized past the brothers must have grown up with. Tamerlan fled the town when he was about 11 before the second war began and this street was bombed.

(on camera): It's hard to be a Chechen without a tie to your homeland and these ruins bombed out in the first Chechen war are what's left of the family home of the father to the alleged Boston bombers.

(voice-over): Their great uncle remembers a devoutly religious Tamerlan from last year, but also then as children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They were this big, but I didn't see them after that and they weren't involved in that crazy stuff.

WALSH: I showed him Tamerlan's picture from online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): That's him. That's Tamerlan probably. He didn't live here so I can't say.

WALSH (on camera): The Americans say he is behind the Boston bombings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I saw them on TV. They said he was dead. I saw that. There he looks good, but I saw him on TV like this and that's it.

WALSH (voice-over): Since the war's intense repression inside Chechnya has pushed the violence across the region into Dagestan. Shootouts like this, which killed Abu Dujan a militant whose video Tamerlan posted a link to, are commonplace.

Police call them bandits using Jihad as a cover for criminality. Militants like Abu Dujan claim they wage Jihad against corrupt Russian police. This video police say shows them cutting the throat of a policeman in his home.

The west sometimes in their rhetorical sites as they train and recruit in the words Chechen's wars begat a cycle of violence that doesn't stop, it just spreads.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Nick Paton Walsh now joins me live from Dagestan. Nick, we know the parents of the Tsarnaev brothers have left Dagestan. Do you have any idea where they're going and whether or not they still plan to come to America as they previously said they would?

WALSH: Jake, when I spoke to the mother this morning she wouldn't elaborate on where they're going, but simply said they were leaving Dagestan to get a bit of privacy really after the intense spotlight, not only the media, but also FBI and Russian security investigators talking to them at length.

One issue for them is the health of the father Anzor. He did say quite regularly he wants to go to the United States and was supposed to have already been on his way there, but health apparently has slipped in the past 24 hours. He has not been in at all good condition so they're delaying any flying I believe until his health is actually improved. The mother, a separate story. She wants to be there, wants to be involved in the burial of her son, which should be happening in the days ahead once U.S. officials release the body.

But of course, has this outstanding issue to do with the arrest warrant over there, which may slow her progress. Off camera talking to me she seems a little concerned about what that might potentially do -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Paton Walsh in Dagestan, stay safe.

Still ahead, it's an eerie thought, the cell phone of a bombing victim ringing in his pants pocket as he is in the middle of surgery. One emergency room doctor tells of the longest day of her life helping victims who poured into her hospital last Monday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Some more breaking news as the nation recovers from this fresh act of terror here in Boston a reminder of the most devastating terror act ever on U.S. soil. Part of the landing gear of one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11 more than a decade ago has been apparently found in Manhattan.

It was found wedged between two buildings in Lower Manhattan. Police have shut the scene down and are investigating as we speak, odd bit of news there. We spent close to two weeks here in Boston. I'm surrounded by tributes left here at a makeshift memorial.

But this image on your screen may best represent the strength and heart the city has shown on the cover of the new issue of "Boston" magazine dozens of colourful running shoes in the shape of a heart. In the middle it says we will finish the race.

The cover went viral literally minutes after it popped up on Twitter and is spreading the love for the city with each retweet and Facebook share. Joining us is John Wolfson, editor-in-chief of "Boston" magazine.

Were you surprised by this huge reaction to the cover of your magazine? Yesterday, it was everywhere and today.

JOHN WOLFSON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "BOSTON" MAGAZINE: Completely off guard. My fondest hope for this would be that the people of the city would embrace it and look at it as a symbol of healing and hope. I had no idea it would have this kind of resonance nationally and even internationally.

TAPPER: How did the idea come to you? Obviously, you guys were going to bed, it was Monday. You were supposed to go to bed Wednesday. You got an extension until Friday.

WOLFSON: Right.

TAPPER: You took out one article and changed the cover.

WOLFSON: Right.

TAPPER: How did the idea of the heart with the running shoes come to you?

WOLFSON: We had a couple different teams working on ideas. First, we needed a new story and then needed to figure out a way to illustrate the story. We looked at a couple different options, maybe a tattered olive wreath that a winner might wear, a runner's bib fashioned in the shape of a heart.

Suddenly our Deputy Design Director Liz Noftle and our Design Director Brian Strubel came up with this idea what if we created the heart out of the actual shoes people wore? It was a great idea. The second I heard it I knew that was it and I knew that had to be the story as well and not just an illustration.

TAPPER: Yes, I think one of things about it is that there have been so many horrible images.

WOLFSON: Right.

TAPPER: This is a heart warming image and it really does reflect not only the love that the city has created for itself, the support for itself, but also how the nation feels about Boston right now.

WOLFSON: That's right. I think we understood just from a purely timing standpoint we'd be further along in the story, but we're the hometown magazine here. We wanted to send a message of love moving the conversation forward and we just thought this was the appropriate way to do it.

TAPPER: Thank you. Well, congratulations on a great issue. John Wolfson, the "Boston" magazine web site on the shoes goes live on Tuesday. People can submit their own stories and photos of your own running shoes. The magazine cover will be sold as a poster with all proceeds going to the "One Fund for Boston."

She was in the emergency room when the wounded started coming in, praying that her husband wasn't on one of the stretchers. A doctor shares her story and her nightmares that nearly came true on the day of the Boston marathon.

Plus her name isn't Caroline, but her voice is just as sweet. One local student will join me live with her song for Boston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper here in Copley Square in Boston. You're looking at live pictures right now at Copley Square where throngs have gathered around this makeshift memorial for the Boston marathon terror attack victims in an effort to remember what the victims and their families have gone through, but something else to consider. What about the medical teams, the doctors, the EMTs? How are they coping in the aftermath? What if they were missing their own relatives while saving the lives of those injured?

Joining me now is Dr. Leana Wen, she is an emergency room physician working at Massachusetts General Hospital the day of the terror attack. She also works at Brigham and Women's Hospital. You were at Massachusetts General Monday. What happened?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: It was a horrific day. We had no idea what was coming. It was 3:00 and we heard that there were two explosions. We didn't know where. We had no idea how many people were coming to us.

TAPPER: How many people came?

WEN: It seemed like dozens and it was. It was probably nearly three dozen patients in two hours or so.

TAPPER: Was the hospital ready for it? I had heard from Dr. Walls from the Brigham and Women's Hospital that because of all the drills the hospitals here have been running since 9/11 you were unbelievably prepared.

WEN: Technically and medically we were ready. We had done drills. We knew what to do with each individual patient who came in. But I've never seen trauma like this before. The volume and the nature of the trauma were really chilling and really shocking.

TAPPER: And on a personal note you hadn't yet heard from your husband while this was all going on and then you hear a cell phone ring. You reach into your pocket, but it wasn't your cell phone ringing.

WEN: Yes. So we actually live just a block away from here from Copley Square and my husband had told me that he was coming to watch at the finish line. And then we heard the explosions happened. So while I was treating patients I had no idea whether the next patient was going to be my husband.

I thought, I mean, I really thought because there was blood everywhere. I thought there was a good chance that the next patient I'd be seeing on the stretcher would turn out to be my husband.

TAPPER: But he was OK.

WEN: He ended up being unharmed, but I couldn't reach him for hours because of phone lines being full and all of these things.

TAPPER: One of the things that Dr. Walls told me is that he talked to his protege who works in Colorado and dealt with the Aurora shootings. And he said, what's one piece of advice? He said, we took care of our people, the emotional trauma that they felt.

But you can always do more. It still wasn't enough. Have you found that or are the doctors and nurses and others who work at the hospital still dealing with this and struggling with it? WEN: Absolutely. I know that I certainly do. I have nightmares and whenever I hear sirens or the loud speaker or the ambulance going off, I think about Monday and it is something I know I'll have to do better at. I need to take care of myself and our colleagues in order to -- for us to take care of our patients going forward.

TAPPER: Well, thank you for the work you do, Dr. Wen. I'm glad you're OK. Keep up the great work.

WEN: Thank you.

TAPPER: After September 11th, Americans found themselves falling in love all over again with Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," but in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, it is a Neil Diamond classic gaining new found popularity as a symbol of bean town pride.

Sales of "Sweet Caroline" shot up more than 500 percent over the past week. The song is a stadium tradition at Fenway Park during Red Sox games. Diamond says he plans to donate royalties to the "One Fund Boston" for bombing victims.

Coming up next, remembering the victims through music. One local student writes a moving tribute and she will join me next and she will sing it live right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back. I'm Jake Tapper standing here at Copley Square with this makeshift memorial and I'm here with a special guest that we have. Steffi Jeraldo, a student at the Berklee College of Music wrote this beautiful song. Boston has been dealing with this tragic affair in many ways. Why did you write this song?

STEFFI JERALDO, STUDENT, BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC: Well, I felt so heartbroken and so traumatized by everything that happened and so I wanted to give back to Boston and try to help in any way I can.

TAPPER: What did you draw upon when you wrote this song? What was going through your mind? What was the message you wanted to deliver?

JERALDO: That in times like these we need to stick together and, you know, especially as a musician I feel like we have a gift and we should share that with everyone and if you can reach someone, you know, that's all that matters.

TAPPER: All right, well, we're going to ask you to play us off the air with your beautiful song. It's called?

JERALDO: It's called "Song for Boston."

TAPPER: "Song for Boston," and I'm going to stand here and hold the microphone while Steffi Jeraldo performs this beautiful song for Boston.

JERALDO: All right. Here we go.

(SINGING)

TAPPER: That was incredible. Steffi Jeraldo (ph) from the Berkley College of Music singing her song for Boston. Thank you so much. That was really wonderful. It brought tears to the eyes of many people in the audience. I'm now going to leave you in the able hands of Mr. Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM.