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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Costa Concordia Ship Righted; New Pictures of Navy Yard Shooter; Navy Yard Shooter's Troubled Past; Naval Secretary Orders Security Review; Recent DOD Navy Base Security Audit.
Aired September 17, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Also, for the rest of the time this week, we're looking at Colorado, for weather change. The good news is the sun seems to be out and strong. That will help the weather improve, help things dry up. The requirement is obvious. Many people are returning to their home to find nothing left. Hundreds are still unaccounted for. Remember, a lot of these areas were remote. The floodwaters in Colorado are slowly receding, but some of that runoff is heading directly toward Nebraska and to very flood-vulnerable towns. We'll show you time-lapse video here as well.
Now, another story. The Costa Concordia off the coast of Giglio, Italy. 20 months ago, the ship went down. They've righted the ship. Look at the time-lapse video. Amazing.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Just so remarkable to see. You truly get the idea of what a mammoth task that was.
CUOMO: It's huge because it's a very sensitive Marine area. Remember, 32 people lost their lives there. A lot of emotions go with the raising of this vessel. Now to see if they can get it out of there and also they can finally do a real investigative search inside the vessel, see if there's still anybody in there unaccounted for.
BANFIELD: That's the sad thing. It's remarkable to look at that picture, Chris, but at the same time we know there may be two bodies still in there, two families who are waiting to find out. That's tragic knowing it's been over a year and a half submerged under water.
We'll keep our eye on the top stories for you. We're back live here in Washington, D.C., after this break.
CUOMO: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of the deadly shooting at the Navy Yard. That's where we are this morning, Ashleigh Banfield and I, Chris Cuomo.
We just got new pictures of the shooter in the past hour. His former housemate gave them to us. We interviewed her this morning. She wanted to develop a picture of the man she knew in a different way than the events of yesterday. She said he was pleasant, that he loved being around the Buddhists, but that he was upset over not getting paid for a contracting stint he had just done in Japan, and that he said he was frustrated about that and he wasn't getting enough benefits and there was a bitterness there. His former housemate also said his behavior had changed recently. She believes he may have put sugar in her gas tank. We're seeing there may have been a gradual shift.
We do know that regarding the status of the people who matter the most, the victims, three people are in the hospital and we hear they're recovering, that they're doing better, conditions are proving. One was shot in the head. She was very lucky to be alive.
BANFIELD: With that defensive wound on her finger as the doctor told us. The one I felt very distressed about was one of the metro police officers. It's not clear whether that officer is going to ever regain the use of his legs but that he is in good spirits according to his family and doctors. But, boy, that's hard to hear.
CUOMO: Two first responders were hit for sure. We know their response in this situation certainly avoided more violence, more killing because that was clearly the aim of the shooter yesterday. We are marking their condition, reaching out to their families, hoping everything is going to continue to go well for them and they can get out and continue with their lives.
BANFIELD: One of the things you were mentioning, this unusual -- we look for any kind of insight, any kind of detail we can when we learn the identity of the shooter. Within the hours after learning the identity of a shooter, everybody tries to pinpoint why. What is the motive that would lead him to this building, that would lead him to kill 12 people until he himself was gunned down? And perhaps those who know are those who lived with him, worked with him, considered him a friend.
Our Ed Lavandera is in White Settlement, Texas, one of the places where the shooter spent a lot of time.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron Alexis' life here in Ft. Worth, Texas, seemed to revolve around the Happy Bowl Thai Restaurant here on the west side of Ft. Worth. He was stationed not far away as a naval reservist here in Ft. Worth, and this is where the folks here who met him and spent a lot of time talking to him during the last four years say this is what he considered his family. They didn't really know much about his biological family. He never really spoke about them, they say. But he got to know a lot of people.
The owner of the restaurant met him at a Buddhist temple. The image a lot of people here have of Aaron Alexis is someone who spent a lot of time at the temple, seen chanting and meditating, a far contrast to the violent image we saw carried out in the Washington, D.C., Naval Yard. As well as the information we've learned about the arrests for gun violence, one in Seattle and another here in Ft. Worth. An interesting juxtaposition that the folks here, friends that had befriended Aaron Alexis over the last few years are struggling and grappling to put together.
But one of the things that really stood out to one of his friends was there was a dispute over money with a defense contractor that Alexis was working for. One friend said he was involved in a dispute, didn't feel he was paid properly for some work he had done. But they also said in recent months before he had left the Ft. Worth area to continue working with the defense contractor that he had seemed to kind of shy away from everyone, spent a lot of time locked up in his room and didn't really come out and talk to anyone anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FRIEND OF ALEXIS: He didn't come out of his room much. Played a lot online games where they were shooting all the time. We were joking about that sometimes because we were like, his computer screen was lifelike, big and, wow, it's like he's shooting people a lot.
LAVANDERA: We do know that federal investigators are very interested in hearing what his friends here in Ft. Worth had to say. Investigators spent several hours meeting with the owner of the restaurant and other friends. We do know they've been in contact with other friends and other folks in the area, trying to piece together who this man was and trying to find clues at to what could possibly have been the motivation in this attack.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Ft. Worth, Texas.
BANFIELD: Ed reporting from Ft. Worth for us, thank you.
It's such an unusual circumstance in that suburb of White Settlement around Ft. Worth where these friends are mystified by this behavior of this shooter.
CUOMO: A lot of questions about who he was and how he obviously changed. But an even bigger question is how he got military clearance.
We'll take a break now. When we come back, you'll want to hear what's in his past. We'll go live to the Pentagon. Barbara Starr has more about what this might mean for the state of security at United States naval bases. We'll be back.
BANFIELD: Welcome back live from the Washington Navy Yard. I'm Ashleigh Banfield along with Chris Cuomo.
And this beautiful sunny day belies what happened just one day ago, roughly 26 hours ago.
CUOMO: There are new developments in the story. One critically important to the central questions here about how the shooter got clearance, military grade clearance, to be in the building behind us. We want to get to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon because there is new reporting on this.
Barbara, the word is that there will be a review of security, that that's what the secretary of the Navy is saying. Tell us about it. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right. Chris, Ashleigh, good morning. The secretary of the Navy, the civilian top leader of the U.S. Navy, Ray Mabus, now is expected to order later today a full security review of all Navy and Marine Corps installations. He wants to do two things we're told. He wants a quick look at everything to make sure that all of the physical security requirements are being met. Are people doing their jobs at those security gates, at the checkpoints? That's the first thing. Then he wants a longer look. Are the correct requirements in place? Are there other personal or security measures that need to be instituted to ensure safety? Much like we saw at Ft. Hood in 2009 after the shooting there, the military taking a very serious look to see what else needs to be done. But this is centering a lot on the physical security at these types of installations like the Navy Yard, the deeper, perhaps more pertinent question at the moment is clearances. How do people get security clearances that allow them legal access to these bases if they are such troubled individuals and if they're going to carry out these terrible acts of violence? So there's a big additional part of this to come. What were the security clearance procedures that allowed this man to have legal access to this base? Chris, Ashleigh?
BANFIELD: You know, Barbara, let's get that even bigger because there is a report, a government audit, that is in the process of being released to the public about cutbacks that may have actually increased the security risks in installations like the building behind me, that actually at one point it's listed allowed 52 felons access on a regular basis to installations like this. What about that audit, and is that a direct result that we're seeing today, what secretary maybe may bus is doing?
STARR: You're asking me questions that, as journalists, we don't have clear answers to. To be transparent to all the viewers, we don't know the answer. First, I think Secretary Mabus would have certainly ordered this review regardless of any other report. This is very standard procedure, and even if it wasn't, the Navy would want to take a very fast look at security procedures. Now they're going to move forward and try and look at what the security clearance procedures are. That's the second part of this.
BANFIELD: Boy, and a very big part of it.
Barbara Starr, doing a great job digging out the details from the Pentagon for us. Thank you, Barbara.
CUOMO: Probably, at the end of the day, as we look down the road, we've done a lot of this type of reporting, it can't just be about money. You have private contractors involved. There are systems in place. There are always are going to be mistakes that are made. But the question is, how closely are we checking? Who are these private contractors doing this important work? There are places to save money and places to not. If anything positive comes out of this, it will be the analysis of how you do security at places like this.
BANFIELD: What Barbara underscores, it's so important that the secretary would have ordered these reviews regardless of that audit, more than likely.
We'll take a break now. When we come back, Ashleigh has been saying all morning the people who matter the most are the victims. We'll talk to Dr. Janice Orlowski. She's in charge of the care of three of the people who are recovering this morning, including first responders. We'll tell you their stories and the latest updates after the break.
BANFIELD: Welcome back live at the Washington Navy Yard. I'm Ashleigh Banfield along with Chris Cuomo.
This rampage yesterday came just as the Pentagon's inspector general was wrapping up what we've been talking about, this audit of naval base security. Specifically costs and who gets in and who stays out.
One lawmaker who has seen this audit at this time says it's pretty disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE TURNER, (R-OH), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: It said that in the inspection report that the people who worked there were at risk and, in fact, cited 52 felons able to get through the system inappropriately. It said that the system that was currently utilized by the Navy did not meet federal or DOD standards and it actually made a recommendation that the system that the Navy was deploying immediately cease to be used.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. Let's bring in Dana Bash now at Capitol Hill.
Dana, if you can hear us, obviously, you know, we've heard what Congressman Turner has to say before. Now it's got new relevance because of what happened at the Navy Yard. What do you think is shaping up in terms of a battle over security?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. As soon as this inspector general report becomes is public, it's going to hit home even more if it is, in fact, this damning as is Congressman Turner says it is. You know, one of the questions that was asked of him in addition and some of the things that I've been hearing sort of chatter about is whether or not the sequester, those forced spending cuts that start at the beginning of the year, if that contributed at all to this. And you know, what I've been told is the answer is absolutely not because contractors have been used for years and years really since the end of the Clinton administration. That's when it started to expand. So it's a security system, in particular, not necessarily who was getting through the system, meaning if it's a Pentagon employee or a contractor.
CUOMO: Dana bash live for us on Capitol Hill. Thank you for that. It is the not the last we're going to hear about that battle, not only that battle but the gun control battle, as well.
A lot more ahead. We're back right after this.
BANFIELD: Welcome back live in Washington. Chris and I have been focusing a great deal on what went wrong here yesterday with the shooter. And the focus is more importantly on those who lost their lives. We're just getting word of the new names of the victims that have been released. We've had several names already released and now getting new ones: 51-year-old Arthur Daniels of Washington, D.C.; 51 years Mary Francis Knight of Reston, Virginia; 58-year-old Gerald Reed of Alexandria, Virginia; 54-year-old Martin Bodrog of Annandale, Virginia; and 52-year-old Richard Michael Ridgell of Westminster, Maryland. It's distressing to read those names but they are far more important in this story than the shooter.
CUOMO: The families of those lost here, the families and those who were injured, and the survivors who just live the nightmare, our hearts and prayers go out to all of them.
We want to end with an image here, from Ashleigh and I, Navy Strong, something birthed after the Boston bombings. Now the Navy must find resolve to overcome what happened to its and its workers -- Navy Strong.
BANFIELD: This image just coming up on a building adjacent to the Navy Yard where we are right now.
Thanks for joining both Chris Cuomo and me. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Stay tuned. Wolf Blitzer is coming up with continuing breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. And welcome to this special edition of NEWSROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Washington where we are all focused this hour on is the victims of the Navy Yard massacre. All were identified just moments ago.
We're also getting new information about the gunman, and the pressing question, how did a man with a violent past get security clearance into such a sensitive military site?
Here's what we know right now. The shooter, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, was involved in eight instances of misconduct while serving in the U.S. Navy.