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Interview With Congressmen Cedric Richmond And Richard Hudson; "I Got A Bear In My Truck!"; Jodi Arias Jury Gets The Case; Analyzing A Plane Crash; President Obama Gives OSU Commencement; Game-Changing Moment In Syria; Senators Pressure Obama On Syria
Aired May 5, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. A look at our top stories right now this hour. Syria is blaming Israel for an attack on military research center, and a Syrian official is calling it a declaration of war.
In northern California, a fun night out has taken a tragic turn. Last night, a fire ripped through a limousine carrying nine women. More than half of the passengers didn't make it out alive. Details straight ahead.
But first, authorities are right now again searching the apartment of Boston suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Earlier this week, a source told CNN investigators found explosive residue in Tsarnaev's Cambridge, Massachusetts, apartment.
Susan Candiotti joins us live from Boston. So, Susan, what is different about this search now?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The FBI isn't saying exactly what they are looking for, Fred, but they do have people back at the house where Tsarnaev lived. That's the older of the two brothers, who our sources tell us, is believed to have constructed the bomb in that apartment where he lived with his wife and young child. And as we have also reported quoting sources, bomb residue was found in at least three areas. The kitchen sink, the kitchen table and in the bathtub.
So as to whether they are going back looking for more evidence of bomb residue, we don't know, but they are in there looking for more evidence. And they have people wearing hazmat suits that are conducting that search right now. Crime scene technicians. So we'll wait to hear more about that and how long that search will be going on, Fred.
Meantime today, I interviewed in a very rare interview, the father of one of the exchange students from Kazakhstan who told me that he met with his son in this country and met with his in jail. His son, you'll recall, is Azamat Tazhayakov. And he said that he met with him in jail separated by a window after the FBI had interviewed his son for a total of a hundred hours over the past several days, ending that interview with him on Friday. He said his son has denied any direct role in the bombing, and in fact, he is not charged with that. He is charged with obstructing justice. In other words, he's accused of trying to hide evidence involved in this case. Specifically, the FBI said he threw out at the very least, a backpack filled with fireworks emptied of gun power. Also had Vaseline in that backpack. Threw it in a Dumpster and the FBI ended up finding it in a landfill. Now, both men are charged with that.
His father said that it was one of the others students who held on to the laptop that belonged to Dzhokhar, who is of course charged in this case with a direct role in the bombing. But his father tells us his son is not convinced yet because he hasn't seen all the news coverage that Dzhokhar really had something to do with it. And insists that his son cooperated fully with the FBI and when he was told they were looking for him, he said he stayed in the apartment when they eventually raided it on Friday, April the 19th. He has a hearing coming up next week, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right.
CANDIOTTI: And there is one other person who has a hearing tomorrow. One of the other students who is also charged with lying to investigators. His attorney tells us he will be asking via court papers that he, the American student, be released on bond because he said doesn't pose a flight risk, he won't run away. And also he is asking for a GPS monitoring system on him, that he has no danger to this community. Fred, it's a busy day.
WHITFIELD: It sure is indeed. Thanks so much for all those updates. Susan Candiotti there in Boston.
All right. On the West Coast, a night out turns tragic when a fire breaks out in a stretch limousine carrying a group of women. It happened last night on a bridge near San Francisco. Police say five of the women were killed unable to escape the burning car. CNN's Nick Valencia is following this story. This is horrible. And one has to figure out why is it half of them could get out of the vehicle and the other half couldn't.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We understand from the CHP there were good Samaritans at the scene pulling people from the limousine. That could explain why half of the passengers did survive while the others didn't.
New information we learned a short time ago from the California Highway Patrol is that the five that were in there - actually, let's step back a little bit. The fire -- where it started, it was believed perhaps it started inside in the passenger area. Well, according to CHP, they tell us they believe it started in the rear, in the trunk or perhaps even underneath the vehicle. I called the coroner's office to try to I.D. the five killed in the fire, Fred. They tell us they were so badly burned it could take several days before they are I.D.ed.
As far as those that did survive, the names were released just a short time ago. We were unsuccessful in reaching them. But we do know that they were all Northern California residents, all under the age of 48. Part of the investigation of the CHP will be trying to figure out where they were going to and where they were coming from. As you mentioned, it was a night out, Saturday night. Spontaneously burst into flames. There's a lot of questions that are unanswered right now.
WHITFIELD: I understand they are trying to figure out what was so combustible, why did this vehicle go up in flames. But was it sudden or was this an issue of a slow burn? Any of the survivors, have they talked about smelling something burning and then next think you know, it was out of control? Any details like that?
VALENCIA: Police say according to witnesses, that it did burst suddenly. It suddenly combust. All of a sudden -- you saw the pictures there. You're looking at a photo right now. It's just very telling that flame coming from the rear of the limousine. We asked the CHP if they can get us in contact with the limousine company. They said they don't have that information. I'm sure those are questions that will be posed to this limousine company that took this group of women for a Saturday night out of fun. It didn't end that way though, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, wow. Lots of questions. Nick Valencia, thanks very much. We'll allow you to get some more reporting in this afternoon. We'll check back with you. Thanks so much.
A youth soccer referee was allegedly punched in the head by a player. The injury later put him in a coma, and now the ref is dead. Ricardo Portiollo passed away last night in a hospital in Utah. Police say a 17-year-old player punched the ref after getting a yellow card in a game last weekend. At first Portillo seemed okay, but when he got to the hospital, doctors found he had serious head injuries. Portillo's family says they are devastated.
The teen player is in juvenile detention. He was charged with aggravated assault, but he could now face more charges now that the ref died. Later today at 5:00 Eastern time, we'll be talking to a veteran soccer ref who talks about growing tensions on playing fields.
In Syria, explosions lit up the sky over Damascus. Syrian officials are blaming Israel for attacking the country's military research facility. This report comes after Israel allegedly carried out an air strike against Syria last week. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Fred Pleitgen, Syria's deputy foreign minister says the attack represents an alliance between Islamic terrorists and Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAISAL AL MEKDAD, SYRIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: This is a declaration of war. This is not something that is strange, but we deal with this on several occasions. And we retaliated the way we want, and the retaliation was always painful to Israel. And they will suffer again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The Israeli military is not commenting on the report, but they have deployed two rocket interception batteries to northern Israel. And starting today, Israel will not allow civil aviation flights to use air space over some parts of the country. Israel says it is not meddling in Syria's war but protecting itself from Hezbollah militants.
Back in the U.S., there is a glimmer of hope on the fire lines in southern California today. Rain is in the forecast. And fire has scorched 28,000 acres, but it is more than half contained right now. Thousands of homes are still threatened. The forecast also calls for isolated thunderstorms, bringing with it the chance of fire, which could be caused by lightning.
All right. Everybody wants answers in the Boston bombing case. Members of Congress are trying to get some this week. I'll tell you what they are doing.
And where is the last place you expect to see a bear? How about behind the wheel of your pickup truck? I'm talking to the guy who owns this particular pickup truck who got up close and personal with this black bear.
WHITFIELD: On Thursday, the House Homeland Security committee will hold hearings on the terror attack in Boston. Lawmakers want to know more about communication between federal agencies, and they want to look ahead. What can be done to prevent another potential attack?
Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana joins us now from New Orleans. Good to see you. And Congressman Richard Hudson, who represents North Carolina, is joining us from Washington. Good to see you, as well.
All right. So, you both sit on the Homeland Security committee. I want you to listen first, however, to what Senator Dick Durbin had to say on CNN earlier today. He believes one answer to preventing attacks is in the pending immigration legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), MAJORITY WHIP: It's hard to believe 12 years after 9/11 we are having this conversation. But you put your finger on it. There is not enough coordination between these different agencies so that we know someone should not have been readmitted to the United States.
Our bill addresses that directly. We have 11 -- up to 11 million people coming forward to register. So we know who they are. That is going to make us more secure. I mentioned the border security. We are also dealing with this whole exit/entry visa issue, and we're having verification in the work place. At the end of the day, immigration reform starts to do things that should have been done long ago and makes it an absolute priority of this government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Congressman Hudson, you first. Is he right? Does immigration play a role in preventing another potential Boston type bombing? REP. RICHARD HUDSON (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Absolutely. That is a big part of it. Especially when you look at one of the three friends of DzhokharTsarnaev who was arrested. We are finding now, at least there are news reports he overstayed a tourist visa. So that is a prime example where we need to do a better job of tracking the people who are here in this country who may overstay visas. Because frankly, when you look at the illegal population in this country, over 40 percent are here because they overstayed a visa.
WHITFIELD: So, Congressman Richmond, how do you see it?
REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), LOUISIANA: Well, I think we do have a problem with people overstaying their visa, but when you talk about self-radicalization in this incident, I don't think immigration reform is necessarily the key to curing it. We have a number of issues in the country in terms of people and self-radicalization and the views that they hold.
So, I would not hold immigration reform out to the public as being a cure-all for instances like this because I still think that we live in a dangerous society. We can't cut homeland security. And the sequester plays a part in it also. I think it's a little bit more comprehensive than Senator Durbin makes it appear. So, no I don't agree with that.
WHITFIELD: So, Congressman Richmond, what questions will you have this week when we all hear reportedly that Russian officials asked the FBI to investigate the older brother. They did, but then the investigating didn't continue upon Tamerlan Tsarnaev's return from Chechnya. What kind of questions do you want to pose this week?
RICHMOND: Well, the questions I want to pose this week are those you just raised, which is why wasn't he continued to be investigated? What did they look into? What did they find? Why did they stop? And all those things.
The problem I think we'll have is we won't have the proper officials there to respond because it's still an ongoing investigation. The FBI, the CIA and everybody will probably not want to comment on it.
So, part of it -- and we in Congress, have to do is, we probably need to let them take the investigation and let it run its course. But we do have a role as oversight to make sure that these type of things don't happen. There was a -- we let the American people down this time. And we need to figure out why and we need to make sure it doesn't happen again.
WHITFIELD: So, Congressman Hudson, who is invited to answer some of these questions if, just as the congressman just mentioned, the investigation is ongoing? So, perhaps CIA and FBI officials would not necessarily be available for this type of hearing, this kind of Q&A at this juncture? Who is going to be there?
HUDSON: We've got representatives from those agencies who will be testifying. I don't have the witness list in front of me. But I think it is important we begin looking into this. We have an important role of oversight. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked, including did these brothers act alone? What were the circumstances that led Tamerlan to be radicalized? We need to look at the information sharing that goes on between the agencies. There may be changes that we need to make in the law that when you look at how information shared among agencies.
And frankly, the biggest piece is we need to look at what information is shared with local and state law enforcement. And are we doing a good enough job from a Homeland Security standpoint of sharing information?
WHITFIELD: Weren't they some of the same questions that came out of the 9/11 Commission? I mean, do you feel satisfied that the resolutions, what was learned from that commission and those studies was put into place or simply ignored? Which left gaping holes for something like this to happen?
HUDSON: I think we learned a lot of lessons from 9/11. I think one of the biggest lessons was you have these big bureaucracies that stovepipe their information and don't do a good job in sharing. I think we've made very good improvements. But in the case of Homeland Security, we've created a monster-sized agency and tasked them with coordinating. And there's still a lot of work to be done. When you talk about issues like the immigration entry and exit information, you also look at the counterterrorism center and what kind of information they're looking at. Is that information being shared? Is there a nexus that needs to be there that isn't there? Those are the questions we ought to be asking to see what kind of lessons we can learn to improve and continue to get better.
WHITFIELD: All right. Congressman Hudson, Congressman Richmond, thanks so much for both of your time. And later on today, we'll actually be talking to two of the original members of that 9/11 commission to get their take on what they think may have potentially gone wrong and what was resolved post 9/11. all right, thanks so much, gentlemen. Appreciate that.
All right. He came back from the back of the pack to win at the Kentucky Derby. Find out why this win was extra special for the people of Kentucky.
WHITFIELD: It was a soggy race and a real nail-biter. I'm talking about the run for the roses, the Kentucky Derby. Here's Joe Carter from Churchill Downs.
JOE CARTER, HLN SPORTS: Well, on a very rainy day, a favorite finally wins the Kentucky Derby. It happens to be a Kentucky-born and Kentucky-bred horse. Orb rallied from the back of the pack to win the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby. It's a first for both jockey and trainer. Orb is running red hot right now, having won five races in a row, including the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby. JOEL ROSARIO, FIRST EVER KENTUCKY DERBY WIN: This race is really special. I can see all these people here that know me. It's something really unbelievable to see it. Like right now, you know, did I win the Kentucky Derby? It's like a dream.
SHUG MCGAUGHEY, ORB'S TRAINER: The way it's going to change my life is I'm not going to worry about it any more.
MCGAUGHEY: Because I worried about it for a while. I might not let anybody know that, but inside that thought was always there.
CARTER: Some other notable finishes, the only female jockey running in the race, Rosy Naprovnik aboard My Loop (ph) finished fifth. Fifty- year-old jockey Gary Stevens aboard Oxbo (ph) finished sixth. And Golden Cents, co-owned by Rick Pitino and ridden by Kevin Krigger, finished in 16th place.
So, now on to Baltimore and the preakness. If Orb can win there, we'll be one win away from our first Triple Crown winner in 35 years.
Joe Carter, CNN, Louisville, Kentucky.
WHITFIELD: All right. And a strong jobs report on Friday pushed the Dow up past the 15,000 mark for the first time ever. But some investors still have questions about what's next for the markets and the economy. Among them, Warren Buffett. He is one of the world's richest men and advisor to President Obama. Our Poppy Harlow caught up with Buffet and asked him about the markets and the economy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Fredricka. I talked to Warren Buffett here at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, where tens of thousands of faithful investors flock to hear from the Oracle of Omaha himself.
We talked specifically about the stock market. Given the record high we've seen for stocks recently, does he think the market is overvalued right now? He said as long-term investor, he doesn't look at what the market is going to do in week, in a month or in a year. But he did note that because of current Fed policy, because of these low interest rates, it is pushing assets up accredits the board, including stocks. We also talk about jobs and immigration.
HARLOW: Is there any policy, anything that can be done on the policy side that would increase job creation at a more rapid rate?
WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: Well, we could apply way more fiscal stimulus, and that would have some effect. There isn't much to do on the monetary side. But whether the --
HARLOW: Would you support more stimulus? BUFFETT: Well, the down side of that stimulus would be greater than the (INAUDIBLE). you don't want to take something that makes you feel extremely good just because of that fact without considering the consequences. So, I really have no great recommendations in terms of policy.
HARLOW: Immigration reform is front and center right now in Washington. And I wonder, do you think immigration reform is critical to the economy? What is the impact on this economy if we see immigration reform derailed? Does it matter?
BUFFETT: I think immigration reform it derailed, I think people will continue to have great doubts about the efficacy of Washington. I think there is great sentiment for it. I think it probably will pass. Exactly in what form, I don't know.
HARLOW: Is there anything specific you think needs to be included in immigration reform in this country? For the economy?
BUFFETT: Well, I think net immigration over the lifetime of the country has been an obvious boost to the country. And we can find problems with it. But this is a country of immigrants. I think we should be a lot smarter in terms of the quotas we establish. It's crazy not to encourage all kinds of people that can benefit this country by bringing them over.
HARLOW: We also talked about income and inequality. Buffet says he believes the growing gap between rich and poor in this country is having a negative impact on the U.S. economy. At 82 years old, the question of succession, obviously, came up. Still no word from Buffet, though, on who will succeed him to run Berkshire Hathaway. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Poppy.
A driver gets the surprise of his life when he finds a bear, no joke, behind the steering wheel of his pickup truck. Find out why he stuck around and actually videotaped the whole thing instead of running away.
WHITFIELD: A six-year-old girl is in critical condition after her teenage brother shot her. It happened in Oakland Park, Florida. Police don't know if the 13-year-old shot her by accident or on purpose. They are trying to talk with him - police, that is. We do know the children were home alone when the shooting happened. CNN affiliate WSVN says the parents may face charges.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. holds on to his World Welter Weight title. He scored a unanimous win over Robert Guerro in last night's fight there in Las Vegas. Mayweather says he'll fight five more times and then retire. He's undefeated. His win earned him a guaranteed $32 million. That amount could hit $40 million depending on ticket and Pay-Per-View sales. Wow! Congrats to him.
All right. And this, pretty unbelievable. This story is trending. A man could hardly believe his eyes when he went out to his truck and found this right here, a bear inside. So the guy who owns the vehicle grabbed his cell phone and started recording. That's what everybody does these days, right? He didn't sound scared about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got a bear in my truck. He seems friendly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trying to wave at me. He just waved at me, little bear in my truck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: What? He seems friendly? He's waving at me? This is Evan Nielsen right now joining us from Reno, Nevada. So you got to explain yourself on this one, Evan. Most people would be terrified to see a black bear in their truck. You were like, cuddly soft, I got to shoot video, really, tell me your initial reaction.
EVAN NIELSEN, FOUND BEAR IN HIS TRUCK: Well, I'm an outdoors' enthusiast. I haven't seen a black bear in the wild since moving to California. So the first thought was it's a beautiful bear in my truck. I want to remember this and get some pictures. He was in the truck. I felt safe outside the truck. He was having his way with my Toyota and it got to be quite the scene for a bit in my house.
WHITFIELD: So now that truck is barely drivable. Let me ask you this, how do you think that bear got in your vehicle? Do you think it actually opened the car door? Was there a window open? What happened?
NEILSEN: The bear definitely opened the door.
NEILSEN: It's a type of handle that the doors were not locked, the windows were up, but it's a type of handle -- we saw paw prints and scratch marks on the door. With a little down pressure he could have pulled the door open, and we think once he got in just the pressure of the door getting pushed out just snapped back in on him.
WHITFIELD: This is right outside your house in your driveway. Was there food in the car or truck or something? Why do you suppose this bear wanted in?
NEILSEN: There was no food in the truck. We think he was a pretty young bear, probably the first winter away from mama, just trying to figure out his way the first year, first summer/spring in the area. They go looking for food everywhere. He's just curious. If you found a car you can get into and thought he might find something. WHITFIELD: And he did. So then the wheels were in motion as you're taking this video and you're marvelling at this beautiful black young bear, but then weren't you thinking how am I going to get this bear out of the car? What did you end up doing? What happened after the videotape stopped rolling?
NIELSEN: Well, Fredricka for the first couple of minutes we were just wanting to take pictures and enjoy the moment. Quickly, we realized there was this frightened bear and he wanted to get out. So we realized we had to -- reality kind of snapped us back into thinking straight. Called the -- first of all, I tried to open the door myself to let the bear go and he had done enough damage to the truck that the door didn't open.
So I kicked it shut for fear he might lunge out or lunge forward at me. We called Truckee Police Department. They deal with the situation a few times a year so they came out. They helped us out and got a little plan together. They were the ones that actually opened the door and set the bear free.
WHITFIELD: OK, so the bear went off into the wilderness. So the Truckee Police never thought that they would find a bear in your truck. Thankfully, everything is OK and you survived the moment. Thanks for being with us, Evan for sharing your story. I don't know. I don't think I would recommend to other folks to do what you did, to try to open that door and play nice with the bear? Keep your distance next time.
NEILSEN: Yes. He was a good-looking bear, just wanted to get as much time with him as I could and be as close to him as I could. If it happened again, probably do it the same way.
WHITFIELD: Well, hopefully you're just as quick on rolling that videotape and sharing it with us. Thanks very much. I'm glad the bear is OK, as well, you and the bear.
NEILSEN: The bear is OK.
WHITFIELD: Evan Nielsen, thanks so much from Reno. Appreciate it, all the best.
All right, some legal stories want to tackle coming up. Jodi Arias' future is now up to the jurors. They got an earful of closing arguments on Friday, more than seven hours worth. Both sides said Jody is a liar.
WHITFIELD: Jodi Arias' fate is in the hands of the jurors who resume deliberations tomorrow, this after a four-month long trial full of drama. Jurors got the case Friday after intense closing arguments. And Ted Rowlands brings us up to date.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, the jury only had about an hour to deliberate on Friday before going home for the weekend. They'll be back on Monday to continue before they started their deliberations, they sat and listened to more than seven hours of closing arguments.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): For two days with her life on the line, Jodi Arias sat and watched as both sides argued how they believe she killed her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.
JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, she is a liar.
ROWLANDS: Prosecutor Juan Martinez told jurors that Arias planned Alexander's 2008 murder driving from Northern California to Arizona armed with a knife and a stolen gun. He says after having sex with Alexander, she attacked him when his guard was down while he was posing for these photos in the shower.
MARTINEZ: She knew. She absolutely knew and had already planned it. She knew she was going to kill him.
ROWLANDS: Family members of Travis Alexander broke down while Martinez showed crime scene photos showing the brutality of the killing in which Alexander was shot in the head and stabbed nearly 30 times.
MARTINEZ: He was killed in three different ways. A stab wound to the heart would have killed him. Obviously, the slitting of the throat would have killed him and the shot to the face would have killed him.
ROWLANDS: Martinez warned jurors not to believe a word of what Jodi Arias told them during her 18 days on the witness stand when she claimed she killed Alexander in self-defense and can't remember the details because of PTSD.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it you have no memory of stabbing Travis?
JODI ARIAS, ACCUSED OF KILLING TRAVIS ALEXANDER: I can't really explain why my mind did what it did.
MARTINEZ: She's acting the part and she's lying. She is making it all up. She has lied to everybody. It doesn't make any sense. None of it makes any sense as it relates to premeditation.
ROWLANDS: Defense lawyer, Kirk Nurmi, argued that the idea that Jodi Arias went to see Alexander to kill him doesn't make any sense saying if she planned to kill him she would have done it right away when she got there instead of spending the day with him having sex and taking photos.
KIRK NURMI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She could have shot him right there if that was her plan. She didn't, doesn't make any sense if this is a premeditated murder.
ROWLANDS: Nurmi also attacked the victim, Travis Alexander, saying he not only abused arias but was a pedophile. He played a portion of a phone sex tape when he compared Arias to a 12-year-old girl. NURMI: Who says that? You cannot write that off to the heat of the moment. That is sick and that is wrong. You can't put any spin on that.
ROWLANDS: Combined, both sides argued more than seven hours. Prosecutor Juan Martinez had the last word.
MARTINEZ: In this case, Travis Victor Alexander was slaughtered by this woman. Slashed his throat, she stabbed him in the heart and then she shot him in the face and all of that thinking about it in advance. Thank you.
ROWLANDS: Fredricka, there are four different verdicts the jury could come back with. Two of them are first degree murder verdicts. If they come back guilty on either one of those, Jodi Arias is looking at a possible death sentence. Second degree murder is also on the table with the potential sentence of 10 to 22 years in prison and there's manslaughter with potential sentence of seven to 21 years. Of course, it could also come back not guilty -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Ted Rowlands, appreciate that.
All right, it is a dramatic video of a horrible plane crash, but it can also provide valuable clues to investigators. We'll have an aviation expert analyze it for us.
WHITFIELD: It's a terrifying plane crash caught on video. A private cargo plane crashed near Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. All seven crew members were killed in that crash. You see the videotape there.
Want to bring in John Nance. He is an aviation expert and analyst for ABC News. He is in San Juan Island in Washington State. All right, so John, as we look at this -- it's just horrific and it just looks like slow motion, but that's realtime seeing this giant cargo plane flying and then suddenly just kind of takes a dive and slowly soars and then crash to the ground.
It's difficult to know at this point what happened because they're still investigating. But just from your vantage point as an expert, what do you think happened? Was this an engine failure issue?
JOHN NANCE, AVIATION EXPERT, ABC NEWS: No. I doubt seriously it will have anything to do with engine failure here. I think basically what we are looking at is the fact -- I say fact, speculation that the cargo in the airplane probably shifted as it rotated to take off. That happened before a few times in history.
If that happens and enough stuff moves back in the airplane, it can move it out of the center of gravity envelope. In that case it's going to be difficult, if not impossible for the crew to keep the nose down, keep enough forward air speed over the wings. The problem is what you saw in this video, if there is not enough air speed over the wings you basically become a big piece of medal.
WHITFIELD: Wow. This is a civilian flight. I've been on military cargo planes and they strap everything down for that very reason to prevent any large cargo shipment, vehicles from shifting on that plane. Wouldn't that be the case even if this were a civilian cargo flight?
NANCE: Yes, Fredricka, you can absolutely guarantee the load masters on this had everything down or in other words had it tied down. And they had it tied town I'm sure in accordance with the books, but the fact is that if one thing breaks away, a chain breaks and a cascade starts, one vehicle goes into another which goes into another, there are many different scenarios. But what we see here is evidence of an airplane that cannot get its nose down no matter what the crew does. That's why they stalled and ended up literally falling out of the sky.
WHITFIELD: In general, this is a conflict region. This air base Bagram is still very much in a hot zone. You know, the pilots generally try to climb as quickly as they can for safety reasons. Can this potentially play into whether there is a shift of the cargo into the plane that, scenario you already painted?
NANCE: It could easily do that. If the crew pulled the nose up high enough to get a good clean getaway, as rapidly as they could, to climb as rapidly as they could, it's going to create a greater deck angle. That would play into the hands of a situation where there was a weak chain or weak link somewhere. This isn't definitive. It's all speculation at this point. We will get the voice recorder and flight recorder. I do think that is what we are going to find.
WHITFIELD: John Nance, thank you. Tragically, seven crew members were killed in that crash. Thanks so much for helping us to understand what potentially could have happened. John Nance, aviation expert, thank you.
All right, will Israeli air strikes in Syria compel the U.S. to get involved? Will there be mounting pressure this week? I'm talking to our own Candy Crawly, host, of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
WHITFIELD: President Obama gave the commencement address at Ohio State University today. He urged the buck eye graduates to be active citizens and he told them they should not give up when they fail at something because nothing worth doing happens overnight. The president has close ties to the university. He held a rally there to kick off his re-election campaign a year ago today. He also got an honorary doctorate.
Now to the Middle East where with events are ratcheting up tensions in the region. Today, another Israeli air strike rocked a Damascus suburb hitting a scientific research center. An act a Syrian official calls a, quote, "declaration of war by Israel." This after Thursday's Israeli air strikes in that country and there is a suspicion of use of chemical weapons in Syria. Candy Crowley hosts CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." So Candy, you have to wonder if this will put more pressure on the White House to do something about the ongoing civil war. Congressman Peter King was on your show earlier and he urged caution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: I have real concerns. So much time has gone by and to, unfortunately, to a large extent al Qaeda elements have a lot of control within the rebel movement. My concern is by arming the rebels, we could be strengthening al Qaeda.
So whatever arming we do, and obviously Assad is evil and it's in everyone's interest he go. We have to make sure the arms are not going to end up in the position of al Qaeda supporters. Nor should al Qaeda be in position to take over this movement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Are we closer to what president Obama said would be the, quote/unquote, "game changer" for the U.S. to get involved in Syria? Will there be pressure perhaps this week for the U.S. to get involved?
CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION": On the game changer, that was the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad. That the U.S. believes has happened. The response from the U.S. from the Obama administration has been we're still looking at it. We're not completely sure of the intelligence whether it is true that there has been some use of chemical weapons, but their first move is going to be toward gathering up a coalition.
This is not something the president wants to get involved in. Partly for some of the reasons you heard congressman king talk about. That is that even though there has been pressure all along, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, a lot of folks says the U.S. needs to arm these rebels. As this war has continued for almost two years, it has gotten more complicated. It served as this magnet for al Qaeda operatives.
Right now, the groups with the biggest success do happen to be tied to al Qaeda. So it becomes dicier for the U.S. to supply weapons. The bar is high if you have to guarantee they won't fall into al Qaeda hands and after the war is over, al Qaeda won't be in charge.
I don't think there is a president who will act hastily. He needs folks within the region to lead this effort. They left open the possibility they might arm the Syrians, but they waited this long. I don't think this is something they are just going to jump into.
WHITFIELD: Candy Crowley, thanks so much, host of "STATE OF THE UNION."
CROWLEY: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And it's official you should giggle big at least once today. People all over the world are doing that. I'll tell you what makes this day so laughable.
WHITFIELD: The poet Maya Angelou said, quote, "I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh." Well, if you can't laugh today, you are missing out on World Laughter Day. The idea is to promote world peace through laughing. It started in India back in 1988 by a yoga master who also started the Worldwide Laughter Yoga Movement. It is contagious.
It is funny seeing other people laugh. Followers say laughing promotes joy in your inner self. There is, of course, a medical benefit, too. It reduces stress and improves the immune system, agreed. Good chuckles, good medicine.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks for joining us. I'll see you back here 4:00 Eastern Time when we'll have a close-up look at Prince Harry who is paying a special visit to the U.S. this week. Right now, time for "YOUR MONEY" with Christine Romans.