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The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; Terrorist Link to Missing Malaysian Flight?; Sandy Hook Shooter's Father Speaks Out; Adam Lanza and Mental Illness

Aired March 10, 2014 - 11:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: No clues, no communications, no answers, the latest on the investigation into the crash of Flight 370, the growing mystery and new questions from experts about whether this could have been a trial run for an upcoming attack.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: His son killed 26 small children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, now, peter Lanza says he wishes his son had never been born, the shocking, gut-wrenching interview the first time this father speaks

BERMAN: And then the huge medical news raising huge questions, the simple test that can predict whether you will get Alzheimer's, the question is, do you really want to know the answer?

Hello, there, everyone. I am John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I am Michaela Pereira.

It is 11:00 a.m. in the East, 8:00 a.m. out West, those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

Investigators appear to be no closer to explaining how a jumbo jet could simply vanish into thin air. The U.S. Navy is now sending a second warship to help out in the search for Malaysia airlines flight 370. That flight, that plane, disappeared early Saturday morning, 239 people on board, including three Americans.

Hopes were dashed a short time ago when Malaysia's state news agency reported that a sample taken from an oil slick that was spotted in the South China Sea was not aircraft oil, but rather a kind of oil used by cargo ships.

BERMAN: And there have been other debris sightings but they have proven to be unrelated to the missing Boeing 737.

Right now, 40 ships, 34 planes and crews from 10 different countries all involved in this search.

PEREIRA: Chilling words from the father of the Newtown shooter, Peter Lanza is speaking out publicly for the first time since his son, Adam, went on that killing spree. He spoke out about it in "New Yorker" magazine. In part, he said, "With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat if he had the chance."

As you recall, Adam Lanza killed his mother, 26 children and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School before killing himself.

His father tells the magazine he might have overlooked some troubling signs about his son. This is a story we're going to speak more about, later this hour.

BERMAN: The "Blade Runner," Oscar Pistorius, breaks down and throws up as he listens to a pathologist give gruesome details about his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp's wounds.

Pistorius also broke into tears during testimony today. He admits he shot and killed her, but he says he thought she was an intruder. Of course, he is now on trial for murder.

Peruvian officials say they will extradite Joran van der Sloot to the United States in 26 years. First, he has to finish serving a 28-year sentence for killing a woman in Lima in Peru.

Van der Sloot is the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba. She has now been declared dead, though her body was never found.

Van der Sloot has not been charged in her death. He is accused of trying to extort money, though, from her family.

PEREIRA: A series of earthquakes hit off the coast of Northern California, Sunday, about 50 miles from Eureka in Northern California. One of them was pretty strong, actually, measuring magnitude 6.9.

So far, we haven't heard any reports of damage nor any injuries. Officials said there was no danger of a tsunami, but 6.9, that's something you feel.

BERMAN: That's serious.

All right, take a look at this. The pictures are shocking, but I've got to tell you, the outcome here, amazing.

The pilot of a small plane practicing touch-and-go maneuvers at an airport in Florida ends up touching a sky diver who was coming in for a landing, flings the sky diver to the ground.

The Cessna goes nose down into the dirt. Look at that there.

So, you look at these pictures and you think the worst automatically, right? No one was seriously hurt. They both ended up in the hospital with minor injuries.

PEREIRA: Minor injuries.

BERMAN: Crazy. PEREIRA: If you had been there, your heart would have stopped.

BERMAN: My heart stops looking at it right now.

PEREIRA: The pictures alone.

It kind of kills my idea of ever trying sky diving. I think that's over for me.

BERMAN: We want to zero in, right now, @ THIS HOUR on the desperate search for clues, days after that Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 vanished on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

How is that even possible, just vanishing?

PEREIRA: Investigators say they're not ruling out anything, a catastrophic mechanical failure, pilot error perhaps or even a terrorist attack.

Former NTSB vice chairman Robert Francis joins us from Washington. It's good to have you with us this morning @ THIS HOUR.

Bob, we know that you have been involved in several investigations following accidents, the explosion of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island, also the ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades.

I have got to ask you, when you hear that the Malaysian Air pilots didn't indicate to their tower that there were any problems, that they were having any issues, that there was no distress signal, what does that make you think? What's your immediate thought?

BOB FRANCIS, FORMER NTSB VICE CHAIRMAN: I guess my immediate thought is something similar to TWA 800 or to a UTA flight that was in Africa or Pan Am 103, that for some reason, the aircraft blew up and there was no signal. There was nothing.

And you've got to just go out of your way to try to figure out where it is. And that may take some time, but it hasn't disappeared forever.

BERMAN: But the list of nos here, Bob, goes just beyond the no communication from the pilot.

There is no trace of where it may have gone on the radar. There is no debris field, despite this huge search right now. There's no signals from the so-called black boxes, the flight data recorders.

What does that tell you?

FRANCIS: It tells you that it is something unprecedented that hasn't happened before, but we're used to that happening in civil aviation.

I don't know what the answer to it is. I don't have anymore than anyone else a logical explanation except this happened in not a heavily populated part of the world or ocean.

And we are just going to have to keep looking until we find it.

PEREIRA: Does it surprise you, though, that it has been three days with nary a trace?

FRANCIS: Absolutely. It's unprecedented.

BERMAN: And what strikes me, Bob, is we have all heard you over the years speak with such measured reason. We've also heard other officials speak with such measured reason.

I don't remember words like unprecedented. I don't remember words like inexplicable. That's, I think, what has so many people confused here, how a plane could simply just disappear.

FRANCIS: I totally agree with that, and there are a lot of very smart people that are working on this who have experience, and nobody, I don't think, has come up with an answer that makes sense.

BERMAN: All right, we'll keep digging for these answers.

Bob, hang tight for a second. We want to come back to you in just a moment.

PEREIRA: It adds to the frustration, and that's something that we'll talk about, as well, when they're searching for clues.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, on board that flight that we were just talking about, Flight 370, Malaysia Air, there were two passengers on board that were using stolen passports.

The lack of any answers certainly raising questions about terrorism, we're going to speak to a former CIA agent about what clues he sees.

BERMAN: And then the father who says you can't get more evil than his own son, Adam Lanza's father with a soul-searching interview, did he miss warning signs that could have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre?


PEREIRA: People are still scratching their heads as search crews keep coming up empty, three days into the search for the passenger jet that simply vanished into thin air.

BERMAN: Two-hundred-and-thirty-nine people were on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We all know the name now.

The flight took off from the international airport outside Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 Saturday morning and then just vanished less than an hour later as it appeared to be cruising at 35,000 feet in calm weather.

Now, neither the pilots nor the electronics issued any kind of distress signal.

I want to bring back now former NTSB vice chairman Robert Francis in Washington. And now joining us from Irvine, California, is our intelligence and security analyst, former CIA case officer Bob Baer.

Bob, I want to talk about the security angle here. because one of the things a lot of people are talking about now are these two passengers who got on board this flight with stolen passports.

What kind of a red flag is that to you, and what else do you see here that might be a concern?

FRANCIS: Which Bob are you talking to?

BERMAN: Bob Baer.


It is a concern, because if you had somebody that's on a watch list, you'd want a stolen passport to get by security.

You'd especially need it if you were going to an onward flight, for instance. If a bomb was put on in K.L. to go through Beijing and then to Europe and blow up that flight, you'd want a European passport. You would -- you wouldn't have the same scrutiny, but again, that's just total speculation at this point.

PEREIRA: Because, Bob Baer, there's no -- there's several reasons why somebody could have a stolen passport. Drug smuggling, it could be somebody traveling for sex tourism, any number of reasons.

Is there something about this situation that has caught your eye that makes you think there could be a terrorism link to this missing plane?

BAER: The fact that there was no signal from the airplane, it is possible with explosives to blow up a flight in mid-air into small pieces as we know with Pan Am 103, with the Indian Airlines flight out of Canada.

But why a Malay Airliner? There is no political reason I can come up with unless it was an attempt to bring a bomb into the international system.

Now, what we do know about Kuala Lumpur was that the 9/11 plot, in a sense, started there because there was a meeting in 2000. Two of the hijackers left from Kuala Lumpur and went to Los Angeles and then San Diego.

But that's very tenuous link. And there is just no evidence of terrorism. Again, I can't think why anybody would want to blow up a Malay Airliner.

BERMAN: No, there's no evidence of terrorism, but right now, there is no evidence of anything, which is one of the problems.

BAER: Exactly.

BERMAN: CNN was talking to Mary Schiavo, earlier this morning, a former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

She was talking a little bit about some of the things that people are just thinking about when it comes to terrorism.

You mentioned Malaysia to Beijing, no reason for terrorism there. She brought up some history, history that talked about the idea have of maybe training. Listen to this.



The Bojinka Plot was a plot to take out 12 jetliners over the Pacific Ocean, and they were aiming for U.S. jetliners, but they did a trial run. And they did a trial run on a Philippine jetliner and they used fake passports.


SCHIAVO: And they didn't take credit because they didn't want anyone to know they were testing it, who it was. So there's no indication that that applies in this case, but there are similarities and that would be why no one was taking credit.


BERMAN: Now, again, everyone's just scratching their heads here. No one is saying this is the case, but Bob Baer, do you think it is significant that right now there's been no claim of responsibility?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, if the plane was blown up by accident, if it was a trial run, these so-called May 15th devices, which are very sophisticated. They hide the explosives inside the lining of a, for instance, Samsonite suitcase and they're well-contained, these explosives, hard to detect.

Is it possible someone was just testing this thing out on this feeder flight? Absolutely. You can't exclude that. And I'm sure people are looking at it right now.

PEREIRA: And so that's where the intelligence on the ground comes into play, because, obviously, if that is the case, a plot would have had to have been hatched in some back room somewhere. Talk about any radical groups that you are aware of in that area of the world, in Malaysia.

BAER: Well, you have all Al Qaeda there for certain. You have large immigrant communities. You have Salaafi communities. You also have, for instance, Chinese Muslims are in that part. There are resistance groups there that are attacking the Chinese government. As we know, this knife attack a couple weeks ago.

There's all sorts of possibilities. But it's when you start running down those possibilities, you really do get lost without evidence. We need to find that airplane to see if, in fact, it was blown up. Now, I don't think we will know until the wreckage is found.

BERMAN: All right, Robert Bear, Bob Francis, thank you so much for being with us. Again, the remarkable thing here is we still have so many questions and not any answers. No sign, no trace. We will keep on it, of course.

PEREIRA: Till they find that plane or any trace of it.

BERMAN: What can you do?

PEREIRA: Yes, exactly.

BERMAN: All right, ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, the Newtown shooter's father opens up about his infamous son for the first time. He talks about he, along with many others, missed the warning signs that that something was very, very wrong.


BERMAN: All right, welcome back, everyone. For the first time since that heartbreaking day in Newtown, Connecticut, the father of the Sandy Hook school shooter, he's talking about his son. And I've got to say, the words, they're just - they're heartbreaking.

PEREIRA: At times it's difficult to read. Peter Lanza tells "The New Yorker" that Adam would have killed him in a heartbeat. And he said this about his son, quote, "You can't get any more evil. How much do I beat up myself about the fact that he's my son? A lot."

The magazine reporter spoke about that interview in New York early this morning.


ANDREW SOLOMON, NEW YORKER MAGAZINE: He wishes that he could go back in time and fix what went wrong. He's a kind, decent man and he's horrified that his own child could have caused this destruction.

Whenever Adam was being strange or peculiar, he thought it was just the Asperger's. And he didn't look past it. But Adam saw a huge number of psychiatrists and psychologists and none of them detected hints of violence.


BERMAN: We want to talk about this with psychologist Jeff Gardere and our very own Ashleigh Banfield, the anchor of "LEGAL VIEW". Ashleigh covered the shootings in Newtown when it happened; Ashleigh also lives in Connecticut, not far from where this all happened.

Jeff, I do want to start with you here because there's so many lines, so many statements in this article which jump off the page. Peter Lanza says, "You can't mourn for the little boy he once was." When you first read this, what did you sense?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, that this young man, Adam Lanza, had been transformed from an innocent boy who may have had issues with Asperger's and was dealing with that and parents who were dedicated to him to now someone who was uncontrollable, someone who did not want to admit that he had issues, someone whose Asperger's might have even masked a deeper schizophrenia and depression. He was no longer, Adam Lanza as a young adult, was no longer this little boy that Peter, his father, adored, loved, dedicated his life to.

PEREIRA: And you can hear in the article as he writes, which is so interesting, almost that that transformation from little boy to this really, really troubled young man. I get a sense that he feels he could have done more. But he also feels that he didn't see - and he says it right here in the article - he didn't see violence in this young man. On the page, it seems like it's screaming that he was going to be violent.

GARDERE: What I admire about Peter is that he does take responsibility. He does say, as you're saying, that there is more that he could have done. He should have recognized the signs more. And I guess that's for us as parents now who deal with the issues to have this sort of a learning curve.

He says that he wishes he could trade places with the parents who lost their children on that fateful day. So this is a man who has survivor's guilt as far as the fact that he's still around. He would trade places in a minute.

PEREIRA: Ashleigh, I want to ask you about this because I know you live not too far - you're a resident of Connecticut, you live not too far from some of these people and have had a chance to talk to a lot of the families.

I, when I read this, I thought to myself, there are going to be people that are going to vilify him as the parent. He should have done more. How dare he. How dare he. Is that the sense that you got in that community from talking to some of the people?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, "LEGAL VIEW": You know, I got the sense -- this is one of the hardest bookings that I've come across, to try to get Peter Lanza to speak. He lives nine minutes away from me. My friend lives on the same street as Peter Lanza. And it was one of those situations where everybody kind of felt like he was as much a victim in all of this as everyone else.

Look, he lost his ex-wife. He lost his child. His child is one of the greatest monsters in the history of America. He has met with the families of the other children who were killed. He's bearing an extraordinary amount of guilt. No one knows what the shoes of Peter Lanza are like. And I think there are many who identify at least with the extraordinary grief that man is going through.

BERMAN: It's hard to talk about it but there are fair questions here. I mean, he did not talk to his son for two full years. He talks about this in the article. Would it have made a difference, Jeff, had he just gone over to the house? Is he culpable in some way? Are parents ever culpable?

BANFIELD: Well, he said he tried. He said he was rebuffed.

BERMAN: Well, no, he said his ex-wife told him not to come. She didn't stop him. He didn't knock on the door and she didn't throw him out.

GARDERE: And I think that's what's going on here. That is part of the guilt that perhaps even though he was reading messages from Nancy, his ex-wife, kind of like, "Stay away, I've got this, I've got this under control," which she didn't. When he knew that his son, Adam, was actually on gun ranges, that there were guns in the house, that that's the way that she felt she could connect with him, he knew something was fundamentally wrong.

But I think with all parents, and we have to put a human face on this, with parents who see something like this going on with their beloved child, they go into denial mode. Or they just stay away because they feel they can't control it.

BANFIELD: Someone's got to tamp down those who want to vilify this man. In hindsight, this is a breeze.


BERMAN: Is it vilifying here? I do think you have to ask these questions.

BANFIELD: But let's not forget - prior to this shooting, who was Adam Lanza? He was just a troubled kid. He wasn't a homicidal maniac who everyone was ignoring. That's really important in this equation to remember. Peter Lanza hadn't seen his grown son for two years.

I can name you untold people that I work with who haven't seen their children in five years. And he was not a homicidal maniac in anyone's opinion, in doctors. And by the way, Peter said in this piece, "How could I live this close to New York City where there are the best medical professionals in the world and no one saw this?"

PEREIRA: To that end, Jeff, I think there's no argument we need to be doing more in terms of getting people who need it the right access to mental health in this country. Because we've talked about -

GARDERE: That's right.

PEREIRA: We don't even like to talk about it in polite company. That's the reality; it's a terrible reality. And when you have a family that's in the middle of the divorce, which I think further complicated this situation - not vilify people that are divorced - but it further complicated the communication between the two parents -

GARDERE: That's right, not having the two parents.

PEREIRA: And then Nancy also didn't want to admit that things weren't OK. And that was a real problem here. She was alone, essentially/

GARDERE: And the major issue that we're seeing with young people who have schizophrenia, who may, perhaps, have some sort of an autism spectrum disorder. And by the way, they're not violent individuals.

PEREIRA: No, they're not. GARDERE: It wasn't that part of him that acted out. We believe it was more of the schizophrenia. The cases are virtually impossible. You cannot --

PEREIRA: No two are alike, right?

GARDERE: That's right. And you cannot get the children into hospitals when they need to be in hospitals.

BANFIELD: And children. We're not talking child - we are not talking about a child in Adam Lanza. We are talking about an adult who was being monitored.

GARDERE: A young adult.

BANFIELD: A young adult but an adult who's being monitored by his mother. There's only so much you can do forcing yourself upon a child, let alone a grown child.

GARDERE: And he was in total denial. He didn't want to admit that he may have had some sort of autism, didn't want to admit that he might have schizophrenia. So there it made the treatment even much more complicated because he just couldn't stay on medication, nor did he want to take it.

PEREIRA: That's where mental illness is always so much more tricky. When you have diabetes or cancer, you can see the symptoms, you can know how to treat it. This is very - this is a very different --

BANFIELD: By the way, did you all see in this piece the warning that he gave to parents across America?

BERMAN: He said he wants everyone to know that it could happen to them.

BANFIELD: Terrifying, really terrifying.

BERMAN: It's the pain that really jumps off the page here. And we'll leave you with one last thing here. He says he will never tell anyone whether he gave his son, Adam Lanza, a funeral.

Guys, Jeff Gardere, Ashleigh Banfield, thank you so much for being here with us. Great discussion.

PEREIRA: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, here's a question -- is television ruining your life? Not because it's bad, no, no, no. Because it's so good. John Berman, is there too much good TV out there these days?

BERMAN: In addition to our show, we're talking about here. And here's the question for you, if you knew you were going to get Alzheimer's disease, would you tell your girlfriend? Would you tell your boss? Think about this. There's a medical breakthrough that raises serious questions for all of us.