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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Boston Bombing Creates Controversy; Economic Growth Rises; Boston Bombing Suspect Moved; Boston Strong; Devastated Town Salutes Blast Heroes
Aired April 26, 2013 - 08:30 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.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. We do have two big breaking developments in the Boston marathon bombing investigation. The U.S. Marshals Service confirming to CNN that suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been moved from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center here in Boston. He's been moved out of the city.
He is now held at a prison facility in Devens, Massachusetts, that's about 30 miles west of Boston, housed in the former Ft. Devens military base. This houses male offenders who require specialized or long-term medical or mental health care.
We've also learned that the parents of the Tsarnaev brothers have left their home in Dagestan and the mother tells us that her husband's planned trip to the United States has been delayed indefinitely because of what she calls health concerns.
This comes on the heels of new information that the brothers could have been planning another attack, this one in New York City's Times Square. They report he had plans to drive there on April 19th. That was the night they wound up in a shoot-out with police.
I want to bring in CNN's Miguel Marquez. He's been tracking the developments all night which included the breaking news that the suspect has been moved.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He has indeed. To this -- former military facility, 40 miles northwest of here. Look, there are still nine victims from the bombings at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. Their family, their friends were very upset that Mr. Tsarnaev was being cared for there. Authorities clearly wanted to get him out. It is a civilian facility, doctors were concerned that he wasn't well enough. In the last 24 hours, we knew his condition was listed as fair, clearly he has improved enough that they were able to move him the hour, hour and a half or so to this facility, which is sort of a perfect facility, a perfect situation for them because it -- they can house, you know, high-security individuals there in their medical facility.
They do have a lot of people who have long-term psychological concerns and could be dangers, so they feel comfortable moving him to this facility. He could get well enough to either stand trial, or at least the beginning of whatever the process is, then perhaps be moved on to somewhere else -- John.
BERMAN: About an hour outside of Boston, which no doubt, Miguel, a great relief to the families here.
BERMAN: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much for joining us.
Boston cab driver Jim Duggan says he is haunted by the fact that he gave the Tsarnaev brothers a ride shortly before their alleged bombing. We're learning more details about that ride. They -- this man says that he picked them up in the cab just one day before the attack. He picked them up at the Malden Train Station.
This driver says he liked to talk to customers, but this cabbie now regrets mentioning the Boston marathon as the brothers rode in his taxi. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM DUGGAN, BOSTON CAB DRIVER: And the little brother said, oh, marathon, really? And then the older brother got really angry with him, and I said, what's wrong? And the little brother said, hey, you know what? It's nothing, don't worry about it. Just pull over here, we'll get out here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Duggan says he dropped the brothers off in Kendall Square, that's in Cambridge, and was about to drive away when he heard screaming and pounding on the trunk. They left one of their bags in the cab. It was a heavy backpack, rather ominous.
Actor Matt Damon is a native of the Boston area. He's taking this attack personally. Obviously you can understand why. Speaking at Harvard University yesterday, where Matt Damon went, he said that each year his brother either runs the marathon or stands at the finish line with Damon's nephews. This year they were not there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Just really I think we're all still in shock. I certainly am still in shock and trying to -- trying to figure out what this all means and what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Damon also said the alleged bombers lived just blocks from his childhood home.
Yesterday, I got a chance to spend some time with a family recovering from the attack in Boston. Really an entire family. Kevin White and his mother, Mary Jo, both suffered injuries from the blast. They were just feet away from the first explosion. Bill White, the husband, the father, and the Vietnam War veteran who received a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, but it was Boston where he lost his leg. He remains in the hospital this morning, but this is not a family that is about to let their experience dictate their lives. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN WHITE, INJURED IN BOSTON TERROR ATTACK: My arm, this is where they pulled out the biggest shrapnel, right there. And then I have all these little BB marks all up and down here and all over here. This is -- you see all these round welts. And then over on this side there is more of them and then there is all up through here. This is where I got really hit the hardest.
So it's interesting, because they are -- when I went to the hospital, some of these actually had the round pieces of metal in them that looked like BBs basically. I will always have them to remember I guess. You know?
BERMAN: Some memory.
K. WHITE: Yes.
BERMAN: So 2:50 p.m. in the afternoon on marathon Monday.
K. WHITE: Mm-hmm.
BERMAN: What happened?
K. WHITE: Well, you know, from what I recall, we were close to the finish line, and kind of meandering, stopping, starting, stopping, starting, and suddenly there was this loud explosion, which to me sounded very metallic and almost like had an echo to it, and I saw this huge flash of light, blinding, and just dark.
BERMAN: This is a picture, right after the race. Show me where you are?
K. WHITE: I am right here, I kind of got blown away from the blast by about five feet and my father in the red, right here laying down, and my mother is right next to him, over, and then you can see that the blast happened right around there.
BERMAN: Mary Jo, I have to say it had to be terrifying.
MARY JO WHITE, INJURED IN BOSTON TERROR ATTACK: It -- the sound was just unbelievable. That was -- it's just like you were in another world.
BERMAN: And then the uncertainty. Not knowing for hours.
M. WHITE: Yes.
K. WHITE: That was -- that was the hardest part, I think. Just, you know, not knowing where they were, and calling around, and trying to find updates and just being kind of helpless and powerless. That was difficult.
BERMAN: The explosion goes off, and what happened to you? M. WHITE: It was -- the explosion and our clothes were torn off, and I could not find Kevin at all. My husband, Bill, was on the ground next to me. But I didn't know where Kevin was, I couldn't see him.
BERMAN: This -- this was in your --
M. WHITE: In my purse.
BERMAN: In your purse? What happened here?
M. WHITE: Yes. I won't be making any checks.
K. WHITE: That was the check.
BERMAN: Just a piece of shrapnel right through it?
M. WHITE: Yes.
BERMAN: And you have broken wrist?
M. WHITE: I have shrapnel in my left leg and in my face, and just a small break in one of my hands.
BERMAN: Tell me about your husband.
M. WHITE: He's doing remarkably well.
K. WHITE: He's in good spirits, given his condition. And health wise, the doctors are astounded at the progress he's made.
BERMAN: After everything that's happened, are you bitter at all? Angry?
K. WHITE: I'm -- not really. You know, it's one of those things that it was so unpredictable that it happened that, you know, one minute earlier, one minute later, it might not have happened, so it's really -- it's hard to -- I'm speaking for myself. I mean, obviously my father, his condition is much more serious. But I -- I don't sense that he's very bitter or angry.
M. WHITE: No, I don't think we're bitter. I mean, that's not our -- the way we live. And, you know, I think it's just a new day and we have new choices to make.
BERMAN: When you see the pictures of these two young men, these brothers, you winced, is it hard for you?
M. WHITE: I just think how did that happen to them? You know, how did they get so indoctrinated in something that they would think nothing of destroying so many lives.
BERMAN: If you could say one thing to this 19-year-old kid what would it be?
K. WHITE: I guess, you know, I would say for our family that we're going to continue on.
BERMAN: Will you ever go back and watch the marathon again?
M. WHITE: I would think so. Over time.
K. WHITE: Maybe. In the distance. Probably not from the same spot.
M. WHITE: Right. Right. Maybe a (INAUDIBLE).
K. WHITE: No. I think that we would definitely go back. It's not going to stop us from enjoying our life.
BERMAN: Such a remarkable family, and I should say, as we said, Bill White, whose leg was amputated, he is recovering in the hospital. He's had visits from President Obama and perhaps more importantly to him, several members of the Boston Red Sox have been to see him.
If you want to help the White family, you can go to our Web site CNN.com/impact. There is information about how to help them and a lot of victims from these attacks in Boston.
I should tell you that I am standing in front of the memorial here in Boston, at Copley Plaza, about a block away from the finish line of the Boston marathon. This has been a point of congregation in Boston since -- you know, since this area reopened to the public and this is a remarkable memorial. There are specific remembrances for each of the four victims here, the three killed in the blast, as well as Officer Sean Collier.
There's running shoes left here by all the people who ran the Boston marathon. Message boards, where people have been writing messages to the victims here and also lots and lots of stuffed animals and flowers and people have just been coming here since the wee hours of the morning. I've been here since before 5:00 a.m., and there were already people here, paying their respects.
It is such a poignant reminder of what happened here in Boston more than one week ago.
Let's go back to Christine Romans in New York with more of the day's top stories -- Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you, John.
The people of the small Texas community of West, devastated by a fire and an explosion at the local fertilizer plant, they gathered to salute their neighbors who lost their lives in that disaster.
CNN's Ed Lavandera attended the memorial service. He's there reporting for us live this morning.
Good morning, Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine.
Well, it was an impressive sight, as firefighters from around the state of Texas, descended on the Farrell Center in Waco to pay their respects to these fallen firefighters and the victims of the explosion in West.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Amid the solemn melodies of bag pipes, tears flowed and flowed. Thousands of firefighters and first responders honored the victims, killed in the earth rattling explosion, at a fertilizer plant in the small town of West, Texas. The flag-draped coffins were a poignant site, but it was the videotaped eulogies from family members that offered the most ripping emotion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a true here. Always one of the first to answer every call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was a strong, caring man. A good family man. He did everything for us. He never missed a sporting event of ours in his life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the friend that showed up to help you even before you asked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will love you forever, we will like you for always, as long as we're living, our son you will be.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rest in peace, and take care, sweet son. I love you.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot match the power of the voices you just heard on that video.
LAVANDERA: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the memorial service, the president honored the small town strength of a town like West.
OBAMA: America needs towns like West. That's what makes this country great, towns like West. You have been tested, West. You have been tried. You have gone through fires. But you are and always will be surrounded by an abundance of love.
SUSAN KNAPEK, WEST RESIDENT: It just looks like a bomb went off.
LAVANDERA: In the coming days, residents will begin moving back into evacuated neighborhoods, but homecoming for some, like Susan Knapek, won't be happening any time soon. She's lived in this house 19 years.
(On camera): This is just unbelievable.
KNAPEK: It's just. I'm just thankful I wasn't in that kitchen.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Susan Knapek's house is just 300 yards away from the blast site. Her son escaped with only scratches on his leg, but when you talk to Susan, you can sense how losing friends in the explosion and watching neighbors lose their homes is taking a toll.
(On camera): What does it mean to you to have so many friends out here helping you?
KNAPEK: There's no words. People have come up to this door, and we've been here, we don't even know, offered help. People have brought food. Offered money. People had come from out of nowhere and it's awesome. It just -- it warms my heart.
LAVANDERA: After the memorial service yesterday afternoon, President Obama spent more than an hour meeting privately with the victims' family members there before leaving in Marine One -- Christine.
ROMANS: All right. Ed Lavandera, thanks so much, Ed.
Better check where your cucumbers come from. More than 70 people in 18 states have become sick with salmonella poisoning after they ate cucumbers from Mexico. Federal officials say the bad cucumbers are off the market until the suppliers fix the problem.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, finger pointing in the wake of the Boston marathon terror attack. Are politicians and media personalities going too far?
You're watching STARTING POINT.
ROMANS: With any major event like the Boston bombing there is plenty of political blame to go around with lawmakers. Immediate personalities jumping at the opportunity to point fingers and you know get sound bites.
Here to help us take a closer look are Howard Kurtz host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" and Washington Bureau chief for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast" and Lauren Ashburn, "The Daily Beast" contributor and editor-in-chief at DailyDownload.com.
A lot of voice -- in fact there's a week went on, more and more people were opining both politicians and media personalities about this whole event.
LAUREN ASHBURN, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": But it was the week last week and that's when it seemed most appropriate. There was finger pointing, there was feuding and politicians were using this as an opportunity to raise their profiles.
HOWARD KURTZ, CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": We got a few precious days of unity and sense of community in this country after the Boston bombing and now people both in the media and in politics, you know, riling up their base, playing for ratings and clicks and rating --
ROMANS: Give me an example.
ASHBURN: One of the example.
KURTZ: Yes go ahead.
ASHBURN: Was Arkansas Representative Nate Bell, he tweeted last Friday, before the suspect was caught, "Boston liberals are cowering in their homes. I bet they wish they had an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine." He later after a call for his resignation said that he was sorry, not for the words, but the timing of it.
KURTZ: You had Fox's Bill O'Reilly taking on NBC's Tom Brokaw for saying that we should worry about the innocent civilians being killed by the U.S. drones. And what do you want to do, Tom, you want to invade Pakistan. And the host on MSNBC Alex Wagner sniping on O'Reilly, saying that his focus on Muslims and there's been a lot of that is one step from calling President Obama. But O'Reilly has never gone anywhere near there.
ASHBURN: Bob Beckel on Fox said, "Do we want to allow more Muslim students into this country? Should we take a break for two to four years?"
ROMANS: Let me ask you though, do you think the media was quiet and careful in the very beginning about tying the motive here to religion? Do you think that there was a sensitivity to that, that the right maybe has a point about saying that liberals in Boston were too -- too concerned about that?
KURTZ: I think there has been maybe too much sensitivity on this question of Islamic jihad, but at the same time, when -- when mainstream media reports a story that says that there is no evidence to suggest that they had the connection anywhere else, that's where the facts are, but yes there is this anti-Muslim sentiment building up in the media and among some politicians.
ASHBURN: In the very beginning on Twitter especially. People were saying be very cautious about what you tie this to, and if you tie it to religion and you tie it Muslims as a whole. And then as the week went on, before the bodies were buried, we started hearing the anti- Muslim chatter.
KURTZ: Ann Coulter is saying "We should put all mosques under video surveillance as if they were in places of worship, the places of terror plot hatching."
But you know, what strikes me, I was so glad to see John Berman a few moments ago do the story with a -- do a story with a couple that were injured in the bombing.
KURTZ: "The New York Times" with the front-page story. Because I had the sense that 90 percent now is profiles and psychoanalyzing the Tsarnaev brothers.
ROMANS: The guys right.
KURTZ: And taking the spotlight away from where it should be.
KURTZ: Where the people who were -- who were killed and maimed and wounded in the awful attack.
ASHBURN: What about eight-year-old Martin Richard? I wrote a piece in "The Daily Beast", where I talked about all we're hearing last week and a little bit this week, is the -- all about the guys and not about the people whose lives were harmed by this.
Now, we're starting to see that more, we've been watching it on CNN the last couple of days, I know Brooke Baldwin had said earlier in the week that she wished we could talk more about the victims. But there was so much news all across the country that it became impossible.
KURTZ: But do you -- do you think critics have a point in saying that too many mainstream media types in talking about this 19-year-old Tsarnaev were saying well, he's just a mixed up kid.
ROMANS: People call him the teenage, he's the teenager.
ROMANS: It almost humanizes him it's a way. But the terrorism suspect is what he is, right? 19 years old or not but terrorism suspect is what he is.
ASHBURN: On "60 Minutes," -- on "60 Minutes" if you -- you saw this, they found his girlfriend, who said how can you not love him? And it really -- they were trying to humanize him and show his good side. You had three of his wrestling buddies come and say this is not him. This is not what he's all about.
KURTZ: Yes everyone, I don't want to be reading all those stories. I'm tired of them.
ASHBURN: Yes, I'm done.
KURTZ: The focus should be on people who were hurt, not the guy who allegedly set the bomb.
ROMANS: And there was a woman, a very brave powerful woman yesterday who gave a press conference from her hospital bed. And said I don't even know how to pronounce their names, I'm not thinking about them, I'm trying to get better.
Howard Kurtz, Lauren Ashburn nice to see both of you.
ROMANS: Have a great weekend. ASHBURN: Thank you.
ROMANS: Right ahead on STARTING POINT, brand new GDP numbers into CNN. We're going to break down what they mean right after the break.
ROMANS: "Watching Your Money "this morning; just in to CNN the U.S. grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter. Consumer spending, the biggest driver rising at the fastest pace since late 2010 but the government is spending less and what we're spending money on is housing and services related to housing.
The overall number is a solid improvement. You can check out the fourth quarter of 2012 a slim increase of just 0.4 percent. You want to see better growth than that. Although economists now are telling us they don't expect this 2.5 percent rate of growth to continue into the current quarter because there was such a big uptick, probably because of spending after Hurricane Sandy and cold weather in much of the country. They are wondering if there is going to be a little bit a spring swoon in economic growth. We'll have to wait and see.
Stock futures meantime holding steady right now. All three major averages are lower the Dow is off about 41 points in the futures trading, but the market is posting solid gains for the week. The Dow coming into the opening bell about a half hour away, the Dow is up 153 points since Monday's open.
STARTING POINT back in a moment.
ROMANS: That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans with a quick reminder that my weekend show, "YOUR MONEY", will focus on the Boston bombings this weekend. And we have new times. We're on Saturday 9:30 a.m. Eastern and then again at 2:00. You can watch us Sunday, of course, always at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on "YOUR MONEY".
Right now, continuing team coverage of the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings continues with Jake Tapper and Brooke Baldwin in Boston.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Terror suspects on the move. This morning, U.S. marshals whisk accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev out of the hospital and into his new home at a federal prison.
"NEWSROOM" begins right now.