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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
FBI Checking Fingerprints of Two Passengers; Interview with Jon Huntsman
Aired March 10, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next breaking news in the disappearance of Flight 370. The FBI analyzing evidence from the two men carrying stolen passports on the missing Malaysian jet. Were the passengers with tickets purchased by an Iranian middle man involved in the plane's disappearance?
Plus what is the biggest weapon President Obama has against Vladimir Putin and why isn't he using it?
And Lake Michigan hit with record ice cover. Tonight live to the deck of a Coast Guard ice breaker trying to get the Great Lakes flowing again. It's an incredible thing you are going to get to see. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Tonight we begin OUTFRONT with the breaking news, the FBI tonight now running through its database of thumb prints for the two passengers who used stolen passports to board the missing Malaysia air jet that vanished over Southeast Asia three days ago.
What is incredible is that it is three days and there is still no sign at all of any parts of Flight 370 or of the 239 people on board that plane. The search is unprecedented. Right now, nearly three dozen aircraft, 40 ships from 10 countries are all searching and still not even the smallest sign of the missing jet.
Search and rescue officials now say they are going to expand the search area. Earlier there had been sightings of oil slicks, possible plane debris and what looked like a yellow life vest, but all of them turned to be completely unrelated to the plane. It's been a frustrating search and an agonizingly painful wait for the families of the missing.
Still there are so many questions unanswered. Beginning with this one, how does a Boeing 777 just disappear without a trace? Who are the two men believed to have used stolen passports to board that plane and was this an act of terror? We are getting answers to some of the questions tonight with some late-breaking developments on the two stolen passports and how those men got on Flight 370.
Pamela Brown has those breaking headlines. She's been covering this story and breaking them. Pamela, Malaysian officials have now shared I guess with the U.S. government some photos, biometric information of those two men? What else have we learned? PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. Investigators finally had some leads to work with. Right now, as you see the FBI is running through its database thumbprints of the two passengers carrying those stolen passports on the missing Malaysian jet. According to a law enforcement official, the thumbprints were taken at the airport check in and then were shared with intelligence and police agencies around the world by the Malaysian government.
A law enforcement official I spoke with says it will be running everything relevant that is shared with them against any records, cases, images, print and databases and coordinating with other agencies along with the Malaysian government to try to piece together who these men are and whether they are affiliated with the terror group of any kind.
But at this point, important to note there is no indication terrorism is a factor though it is not being ruled out. According to a law enforcement source I spoke with many times people using stolen passports are your garden criminals such as drug smugglers and Erin, more people than you may realize try to board planes with lost or stolen passports.
BURNETT: That's an incredible part of the story and I know you raised that it could have been something like drug smuggling or something totally unrelated to terrorism. But what else do they know about how the two men got the tickets and this now seemingly bizarre link to an Iranian middleman.
BROWN: Yes. Well, right now, we still know very little. Malaysian officials are only saying that the two men are not Asian. Now what we have learned though is that they bought their tickets, as you point out there, Erin, through a middleman in Iran. They were originally booked to fly to Europe on separate flights, but the booking expired so then they were rebooked on the same flight, Flight 370.
A middle man in Iran paid for these tickets in cash we've learned. Two days later the flight went down. As you know, Erin, there is still no sign of the wreckage. Until it is found we won't really know for sure what exactly happened. As one law enforcement official I spoke with put it, we are not much closer to knowing what happened now than we were 48 hours ago.
BURNETT: It is just incredible in this day and age. It is amazing. Well, thank you very much to Pamela. She's been doing all the hard reporting on this.
I want to bring in now the former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall and former chief of staff for the Department of Defense and the CIA, Jeremy Bash. OK, I really appreciate having both of you with us and you both know so much about this kind of a situation. Jim, you've been watching here. As Pamela was just say, it has been three days, almost to the minute. I mean, this headline first crossed at least that we were aware of at 7:30 Eastern Time on Friday. What do you think happened?
JIM HALL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, NTSB: Well, who knows at this point? This has to be a parallel investigation both looking at whether it's an accident or possibly a criminal act very similar to what we had to do with TWA Flight 800.
BURNETT: Right. And I know you obviously intimately involved with that and that was another situation where there were real questions as you were going through it, right, as to whether it was foul play or an accident and I know eventually ruled an accident.
Now Jeremy, two passengers with stolen passports on board. Now you have this link that an Iranian man happened to be the one who bought the tickets for all cash. Do you think foul play is a real possibility?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, CIA: Well, you can't rule anything out at this point, Erin. And two things are really concerning, first, their ultimate destination appears to be Europe. It wasn't merely that that they wanted to go to China. In fact, their final destination was Amsterdam and then for one passenger Copenhagen and then another passenger, Frankfurt.
So many terrorist plots have been directed towards Western Europe that we have to be thinking about that and that is exactly what I'm sure officials out the National Counterterrorism Center in Northern Virginia are thinking about right now.
BURNETT: Sorry, go ahead.
BASH: The second thing is obviously Kuala Lumpur has been a transit point for terrorism in the past. Two of the 9/11 hijackers ultimately were surveilled by the CIA in 2000 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They made their way to Los Angeles and then to San Diego before they boarded the faithful flights on 9/11.
BURNETT: That's just a fair point to raise. I think a lot of people maybe saying Malaysia that's not a terror center and as you point out, it actually has been an important point before. What about, Jeremy, the issue of group calling itself the China Martyrs Brigade. They've claimed responsibility. U.S. officials tell us that no group by that name has previously been identified. Would there have been a legitimate claim of responsibility by now if this were an act of terror?
BASH: Well, you would think that a terrorist organization would want to get a lot of propaganda value out of a major terrorist attack and claim responsibility, Erin. Now this group that you mentioned is not one that has been on the radar of U.S. Intelligence officials in the past. There have been concerns about wigger groups, separatist groups operating out of China and really trying to attack China.
So it's possible this is something that we are going to have to look into. But this is a little bit strange and again at this point, since we can't rule anything in, we also probably can't rule anything out.
BURNETT: Jim, what about the issue, when you talk about a group whether they would have taken responsibility or claimed responsibility at this point. Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general of the Department of Transportation said this could have been a trial run for a larger attack. Does that sound likely to you? If it were such a thing, would that explain why there at least to our knowledge had not been terrorist chatter prior to this and there is now no claim of responsibility?
HALL: Well, I'm sure this is something the FBI is actively looking at and exploring. And it certainly would not be unusual looking back at 9/11 and the practice runs that were used in the United States and the training at that time.
BURNETT: Jeremy, where do you think U.S. intelligence is focusing right now? Given this was on a Malaysian airplane in Southeast Asia, how much information do they have? I mean, are they getting full information?
BASH: I think U.S. Intelligence is probably scouring the entire manifesto of that airplane and matching it against databases. Second, they are taking the biometric data. The descriptions of the two individuals who boarded that aircraft with fake passports from the video surveillance at the Malaysian airport in Kuala Lumpur.
They are running it against all known databases of known terrorist organizations and trying to match descriptions and third, they are working closely with Malaysian authorities to see if there is other information about those two individuals, where they were staying at Kuala Lumpur, where they may have been at a hotel, looking at their check-in at the hotel, looking at credit cards, really run into the ground every detail about two individuals.
BURNETT: I mean, yes, Jim, to that point, does it -- do you find it strange that these tickets were purchased for cash? I mean, I suppose that could be, you know, some sort of a drug smuggling kind of scenario, as well, for sure, as well as other things. But I mean, these were purchased for cash all the way to Europe. That seems important.
HALL: The unfortunate thing here is that these aircraft were not equipped with deployable recorders so that were there an accident we would have the information immediately as to the location of the aircraft. That really should be unacceptable to the International Civil Aviation Organization, which has been looking at this issue for now almost a decade.
BURNETT: What do you mean deployable? No matter where a plane crashed we would have access to the, quote/unquote, "the black box?"
HALL: It's technology that used on our F-16, F-18 aircraft in the military. It is a deployable black box that ejects at the time of any impact and is designed to float on the ocean and send a signal of its location. It contains both the flight data recorder as well as cockpit voice recorder. That type of technology, which is very simple, which was used in the military, is a real crime that that is not on all of our commercial aircrafts that are flying overseas and over water.
BURNETT: When you present it that way, it certainly sounds like that. Thank you very much both of you. Appreciate you are taking the time, Jim and Jeremy.
OUTFRONT next, more of our coverage of the shocking disappearance of Flight 370. So up next we are going to talk exactly about how something like this could have happened, the likely scenarios we are going to walk through them including what happens to an aircraft when it explodes at 35,000 feet.
Plus an inside look at the crew flying the plane when it vanished. Our own Richard Quest actually had the chance to speak with Flight 370s co-pilot just weeks before this disappearance.
And the record ice coverage which has the Great Lakes at a standstill tonight. An exclusive look at what they are doing to get water flowing. We have that coming up later this hour.
BURNETT: We are following the breaking news in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The FBI now running through its database of thumb prints for the two passengers who used stolen passports to board the missing plane that vanished three days ago.
The massive search continues. There is still absolutely no sign of the Boeing 777 or of the 239 passengers on board. Here is what we do know though right now. The plane took off from Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. local time, Saturday morning.
The flight pad was 2,300 miles slated for landing in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Around 2:40 a.m. though air traffic controllers had their last contact with the plane. The last known location is which what you're looking at right there, somewhere over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.
So what happened next? Tom Foreman is in Washington. Tom, so what are the possibilities of what could happen at 35,000 feet?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Erin. This jet took off without incident, flew to its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, and then vanished without warning. Of course, a terrorist bomb can make that happen. But radical equipment failure can do the same thing. Indeed, if a door or window failed at altitude, it could cause explosive depressurization and that can look very much like a bomb.
The pressure outside is so much lower than it is inside of a plane, that sudden change from a breach could actually cause the plane to start tearing apart, but even if that didn't happen, that opening would start drawing toward it everything in the plane, books, and papers, and cups, and blankets, anything that wasn't nailed down. Dust would be swirling through the air, a tremendous roar would feel the cabin, and the oxygen would be sucked out, too.
Everybody would be grabbing for those masks. On top of which, it's minus 66 degrees Fahrenheit out there. This area is much warmer. Instantaneously, it would turn into a freezing dense fog that would go throughout the entire cabin. And all of this can happen much, much faster than I've told you about it here in an explosive event within a half second or less.
That makes a huge difference in the cockpit, because that means the pilots have eight to 12 seconds in which they need to get on their masks and get control of the plane before they might suffer some sort of impaired judgment. They might possibly be having vision problems, and they could lose their ability to concentrate.
Remember, this is not just about losing oxygen. This is about the shock of a massive pressure change which can be very much like an explosion and can absolutely bring a plane down -- Erin.
BURNETT: That was hard to watch.
Joining me now on Skype, CNN national security analyst, Bob Baer. Bob, you saw Tom's reporting there. I mean, it's pretty frightening and obviously that wall, I think, makes it very sobering for people to watch. So, does this look to you like the work of an explosive device, or like he said, windows popping or something else?
BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I'll tell you what, you know, we're going to have to wait until we find the wreckage, and that will tell us for certain or actually a witness to this. In the meantime, a bomb would have the same effect. For instance, put against the skin with a particularly lethal explosive like PETN would cut a hole in the frame and break the plane apart.
A lot of these bombs are detonated by barometric switches. For instance, let's take the scenario. And its complete speculation is one of these people with stolen passports thinks he's carrying something else, gets on the airplane and puts his bag up the overhead and it reaches an altitude of let's say 35,000 feet, explodes, and plane comes apart.
These bombs have been around since the 1980s. They're almost impossible to detect. We know that the al Qaeda mastered bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has been practicing with these things. He did in 2010 (ph) with a cargo bomb that was discovered, thanks to a source. Is it possible that he was, you know, testing the system out of Kuala Lumpur and maybe hitting an onward flight? Yes, it's always possible, but again, there's just no evidence for it.
BURNETT: And Bob, it's pretty incredible, then you start to think of all the people involved and what we know about them and obviously it is all speculation, but people -- that's what people are going to do until there is real conclusive evidence. At 35,000 feet, what a plane -- I mean, I'm looking for the right word here, but melt in the air.
I mean, if they're looking in the right place and I know that's a big if, but is it a shock to you that they have found nothing, not a floating life jacket, not anything?
BAER: You know, we haven't even got into a 777 what it would look like if it exploded. Would it sink to the bottom of the ocean right away? An engineer would have to tell you that. But, I can tell you it'd break up into many small pieces. It would be very difficult to find. BURNETT: And how quickly would that happen, Bob? I mean, by just -- people on board, it sounds like Tom is reporting could happen within seconds, literally.
BAER: It would be instantaneous. People would be thrown out. What they can tell you is people are thrown out of their seats, all their clothes come off. They die almost instantly or go into shock. And biggest piece of the airplane as we saw is Lockerbie (ph) is fairly small. And it could sink to the bottom. Remember with Pan Am 103 in Lockerbie, that thing was supposed to go off over the ocean so there'd be no evidence of it.
BURNETT: Wow. All right. Thank you very much, Bob Baer. We appreciate it.
Still to come, more of our coverage of flight 370. Our Richard Quest actually spoke to the co-pilot of this flight just weeks before it vanished. So, who is he?
Plus, two years after the murder of Trayvon Martin, protesters and lawmakers call for change tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would these changes to the law have saved Trayvon Martin's life?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that I think about it, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We're following the developing story on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and a crucial question was who was at the controls when something went terribly wrong. We're learning the co- pilot just switched to flying the Boeing 777. In fact, he landed one last month. You could see him right here on the right.
CNN's Richard Quest was with him and captured that landing on camera. Richard Quest is OUTFRONT. And I was just saying, you know, you obviously, have been covering this industry for a long time. But still, there's something kind of eerie about someone you spoke to being involved.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Extraordinary. Fariq Hamid, 27 years old. He had 2,700 hours as a first officer, which makes him moderately experienced first officer. He was transitioning from the (INAUDIBLE) fleet to the 777 fleet. He'd spent weeks, months in the simulators. What was interesting is this is one of his fourth or fifth landing actually on the plane, itself.
What I was very quite keen to ask him is how, actually, the plane itself handled compared to the simulator, because very often now, those pilots now will do the vast majority of their training in the simulator, and then right to the end, they move to the aircraft itself. He had a very experienced pilot captain next to him.
BURNETT: Yes. No question. I mean --
QUEST: And the same with the doomed aircraft 370. A very experienced captain.
BURNETT: I am still, though -- you know, you talk about the experience he had. It's still you would think about the stimulator question once you are actually flying with life and death in your hands versus simulator. It's not the same thing.
QUEST: No, no, because he'd been flying with the 737. And so, he'd been flying for many years. It's just that he was now on a different type of equipment, a different type of aircraft. The simulator is very realistic. I mean, I've flown --
BURNETT: Now, you covered the Air France flight, obviously.
BURNETT: The 447, which exploded on the way to Paris from Brazil. So, how similar is this search and rescue from that one? I'm specifically curious about this issue of, you know, we hear there's an oil slick and then there's a life jacket, then you hear there's a door and none of them are related to this plane at all. I mean, are they even looking in the right place?
QUEST: This is normal, I have to tell you. Air investigations and search and rescue really isn't designed for -- concentration of 24 hour news, because it doesn't happen -- nighttime. It's only just coming up to day light now in KL. So, just starting again. Absolutely. All they're looking in the right place. I am surprised by the fact that they were first of all looking on the western side of Malaysia and then they're looking around the eastern side of Vietnam.
Now, they've widened it to the middle of the gulf of Thailand. If you know which was the route it was flying, you are left wondering, do they know something we don't. Is there a fact that we're not being told yet? We don't know.
BURNETT: We don't know.
QUEST: But I do know that the waters are shallow in the Gulf of Thailand, 200, 250 feet or whatever. It's not that big of a body of water, a couple hundred miles across.
BURNETT: They'll find it.
QUEST: They will find it. I have no doubt about that.
BURNETT: All right. Richard Quest, thank you very much.
And still to come, more of our coverage of flight 370. The families of the flight's passengers are desperate tonight, all hoping for their loved ones, some clinging to some kind of hope, and why they still aren't getting any answers tonight.
Plus, the world looks to President Obama for a response to the crisis in Ukraine. But is it already too late for action?
And the great lakes like you have never seen them before. Tonight, we're going to go live on the deck of an ice breaker. This is pretty stupendous what you're going to see. We're excited to show it to you and it's coming up.
BURNETT: More of our top story tonight on the missing Malaysia Airlines jet. Three days after Flight 370 jet disappeared without a trace, with 239 passengers on board, relatives are still waiting to learn what happen to their loved ones. Nearly three dozen planes and 40 ships from 10 countries have so far failed to find the Boeing 777.
Jim Clancy is OUTRONT tonight in Kuala Lumpur, where relatives are anxiously awaiting for news.
Just the horror of that, experiencing of that, Jim -- 227 passengers, 12 crew, no answers. What are the families telling you?
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have been advised by Malaysian Airlines and others that they should prepare for the worst. But there's no way for them to prepare for this. They are coming on some additional flights being put out by Malaysian Airlines to bring the Chinese from Beijing here to Kuala Lumpur.
Remember, the Chinese make up almost two-thirds of the victims who are aboard this aircraft, more than a dozen nationalities. But to focus on the Chinese, you know, we don't see them when they get here. The families are kept away from the media.
But in Beijing, that is not the case. You can see on their faces the pain that is etched there, the agony, the agony of having lost someone, yes. The agony, though, of not knowing what has happened to them.
This is a mystery that only deepens because there is no evidence of how their loved ones got on a flight and vanished into thin air. Now, a lot of them coming here, a lot of them perhaps wanting to feel closer to loved ones. Malaysian Airlines say at some point they are going to take them to the crash site, to the location of the jetliner when it is found.
But, you know, thus far there is nothing to report. They are coming here. They are searching for their loved ones, perhaps. They are searching more than anything for answers.
And the truth tonight, this morning here in Kuala Lumpur, Erin, is that there are no answers here. We are still waiting for that to come as they expand, as you said, the search area. We are hoping that they will get some answers. They will get some closure -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Jim Clancy, thank you very much. I want to bring in former presidential candidate and former ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman.
And, Ambassador, obviously, we don't know what happened to this plane yet. I want to emphasize our sources are now waiting to see (AUDIO GAP) away from the terror connection, and possible the stolen passports related to smuggling operations instead.
But, you know, yesterday, Rupert Murdoch tweeted something that caught our attention. He wrote, "777 crash confirms jihadists turning to make trouble for China, chance for U.S. to make common cause, befriend China while Russia bullies."
What's your reaction to that?
JON HUNTSMAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, thank you, Erin, for having me.
My reaction is this. We have a huge opportunity regardless of the outcome here, regardless of what is found to shore up the counterterrorism collaboration between the United States and China. We have tried in years past in terms of information sharing and intelligence sharing but we haven't gotten far.
And this is a perfect opportunity to take stock of those groups that ought to be monitored and looked at and better understood where we have a capacity where they have collection capabilities and regional knowledge, and we probably ought to shore up that capability. But I think we are well-served not to jump to any conclusions with regard to specific groups. It was a co-chair flight with respect to Southern China Airlines. Therefore everything has to be on the table.
China has experienced a bit of domestic terrorism out in Xinjiang for example, although it has been very regional, until most recently where we have seen an incident in Beijing, the Jeep incident this last fall and certainly the attack by Uyghur separatists at the train station in Kunming just last month.
So, the capabilities of those who traditionally operated in the Far Western Regions of Xinjiang certainly are improving, but I think suggesting that they are in anyway involved in this would be well- beyond their operating profile and certainly well beyond their technical capabilities.
BURNETT: All right. Interesting point. So, you are saying obviously a huge opportunity from U.S. and China. But at least from your understanding, not something that some of these independence groups like the Uyghurs, which our viewers may have heard today as mentioned, that they wouldn't be ready to do that at this point.
HUNTSMAN: Beyond their operating regional profile and certainly beyond their technical means at this point.
BURNETT: Ambassador, I wanted to ask you something else you know a lot about. Obviously, when you talk about China, you might say your biggest strategic -- I don't know what word to use -- partner, ally, foe, whatever it might be at the moment, might be Russia with that border and, obviously, they have a lot at stake with what's going on with Russia and the Ukraine.
Ukrainian prime minister coming to the United States, interim prime minister, tomorrow -- Wednesday, I'm sorry. What should President Obama do to diffuse the situation? Is it possible?
HUNTSMAN: Well, we have some cards to play. I think when you get right down to the economic relationships, that's where the focus ought to be. We're not going to go to war anytime soon with respect to Crimea.
We can shore up our alliances with NATO. That has to be done. The set of relationships with Europe have pretty much been left in the dust in recent years. That needs to work better.
But when you look at the natural gas trade in the region where half of Russia's trade is with European partners and almost all of that is natural gas.
HUNTSMAN: And all of those relationships are negotiated on a bilateral basis whereas oil, for example, is pretty much determined and governed by a different type of market place, the United States would be very well-served by putting together an LNG, liquefied natural gas strategy.
We're probably two to three years away from being able to do this.
HUNTSMAN: But we should be talking about this today, which is to say you begin exporting to some of the major markets of Europe and displacing trade that Russia does, which is the only thing to my mind that really does hurt Putin who is trying to create a Eurasian empire where Moscow really is at the center.
BURNETT: And, you know, it's interesting. You brought up the point of natural gas. And, obviously, you know, the top importers of Russian gas are all in Europe, as you point out.
The United States, also as you say, in order to have this liquid natural gas, we have a lot of natural gas, but to transport it, we have to use ships turn it into liquid, we don't have the ports. You know, it's going to take time. I understand your point.
But there's another issue besides time, and that is should the United States be exporting something so strategically important. Senator Ed Markey, quote, said, "We should not give away the domestic, economic and national security rewards of our natural gas boom and then just hope that the market reduces the risk of international conflicts."
There are people who really think that exporting the stuff is a bad idea. Is he wrong? HUNTSMAN: Well, there are some who certainly feel that way. I would -- I would submit to you that we live in a free market economy. We are the leaders in terms of international trade. When we lead people tend to follow.
If we remain isolated and protectionist, the rest of the world tends to do that as well. So, something as important as the energy markets, I think we are very well-served by producing it, keeping the costs low, exporting for purposes of global stability because I think that's really what we are getting out here. Exporting LNG as a means of promoting global stability, which is exactly what would happen with respect to Western Europe.
BURNETT: And before you go, what about China? Obviously, when you look at countries that buy energy from Russia, China is right up there. It's Europe and it's China. Is China going to say, go ahead, do whatever the heck you want in Crimea? We don't care. Please just keep the gas line?
HUNTSMAN: They are concerned down deep about what's happening in Crimea. You don't talk about referendums without Chinese going about ballistic, with respect to the Taiwan angle. So, they're very conflicted right now and it provides an opening for the United States maybe to up our game a little bit with the Chinese on regional diplomacy.
BURNETT: That is a really interesting point, not one that I've heard anyone make.
Thank you so much, Ambassador. Appreciate your time.
HUNTSMAN: Thank you.
BURNETT: Record breaking ice is bringing America's great lakes to a standstill tonight. And that is tonight's number, 93 percent. That is how much of Lake Michigan is covered in ice according to the National Weather Service at this moment. The last time a lake was this frozen was 1977.
Take a look at these satellite images from the past couple of weeks. I mean, it's just stunning when you think about it.
Ted Rowlands is OUTFRONT and he went out to see it and show it to you on a Coast Guard ice breaker. He is OUTFRONT.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On board the Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay on the first day of what they call the breakout.
Commander John Stone and a crew of 20 have the daunting job of breaking through the near-record thick ice in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, so these ships can start moving after a winter of hibernation.
CMDR. JOHN STONE, U.S. COAST GUARD: Getting the shipping industry moving with all the goods we are carrying, coal, iron ore.
ROWLANDS: Last year, more than 90 million tons of product moved through the Great Lakes. The James Oberstar is scheduled to leave this week. If this were a normal year, the Oberstar would get into Lake Michigan through Green Bay, but because the ice is so thick there, it's going to have to turn around in Sturgeon Bay and go south.
Today's mission is to not only clear a path to Lake Michigan but also to create a turning basin so the Oberstar other ships can turn around.
LT. JASON STANKO, U.S. COAST GUARD: Without us breaking a path out here and carving the turning base there is no way that they would even be able to leave the pier.
ROWLANDS: More than 90 percent of the Great Lakes is covered in ice, the most in 35 years.
We shot this incredible aerial footage last week. From above, you can see how much work is ahead for the Coast Guard's fleet of ice breakers as the Great Lake shipping season begins.
The best way to get through the ice is to ram into it with the Mobile Bay's 670 tons of weight.
STONE: You combine horsepower and weight and force yourself on the ice and try to break the ice and try to force yourself through.
ROWLANDS: It takes several hours but eventually the Mobile Bay is able to cut a new path to Lake Michigan.
ROWLANDS: But, unfortunately, Erin, they were not able to cut a big enough area for these big ships to turn around. The ice was too thick. So, tomorrow reinforcements, the Mackinaw, a ship twice as big as the one we are on now will be here. And together, they'll cut that area to get these ships out to Lake Michigan later this week.
BURNETT: Ted, thank you very much. It looks like Ted has cloud puffs behind him. That is how the ice looks, incredible.
Thank you so much to our Ted Rowlands.
And still to come, the stand your ground law will be forever linked to the shooting deaths of Trayvon and Jordan. Tonight, their mothers are demanding that law be repealed.
And what did this snake swallow? Jeanne Moos has the x-ray photos.
BURNETT: And now, let's check in with Anderson with a look at what's coming up on "AC360".
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin.
Yes, the top of the hour, we are obviously following major developments in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We'll have the latest details on the investigation. What could be behind the plane's disappearance?
Plus, we'll take a look at some of the 239 people who are missing. We'll speak to the brothers of Philip Wood, an American who was on board that flight. They are still holding out hope.
Also, an emotional day at the Oscar Pistorius trial. The star athlete known as the Blade Runner became physical ill, throwing up with autopsy details were revealed about his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. We will take you inside the courtroom, get perspective from our equal justice team, Mark Geragos and Sunny Hostin.
We will have the latest on the situation in the Ukraine.
Those stories, plus the latest, all of that at the top of the hour -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Anderson, we'll look forward to seeing you in just a few moments.
Well, it's been two years after Trayvon Martin's death and protesters are still fighting Florida's stand your ground law. In fact, today, the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis teamed up to protest to end Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. They argue it gives killers the excuse to shoot and kill and ask questions later.
In a moment, you're going to hear from Lucia McBath, whose son was killed by Michael Dunn because he was playing his music too loud.
But, first, David Mattingly is OUTFRONT.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two years after the death of Trayvon Martin, Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law remains untouched. And in spite of demonstrations in the state capitol streets, it might stay that way except for one unlikely partnership.
(on camera): What are you trying to change here?
DAVID SIMMONS (R), FLORIDA STATE SENATE: We are trying to make a very good law even better.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Republican Florida State Senator David Simmons wrote Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Democratic State Senator Chris Smith continues to fight it. Together, the two are now pushing to clarify the rules on who can be protected by "Stand Your Ground". (on camera): Would these changes to the law have saved Trayvon Martin's life?
CHRIS SMITH (D), FLORIDA STATE SENATE: Now that you think about -- now that I think about it, yes. If George Zimmerman followed the law in the amendments that we are putting forward, yes, it would have saved his life because he wouldn't have gotten out of the car. And Trayvon Martin would have gotten home and enjoyed his Skittles and iced tea, and the world would have been a better place.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): The amendment in the Florida State Senate requires law enforcement to create standard rules for neighborhood watch, including training to avoid confrontations. It also aims to clarify who is not protected, by defining what it means to be the aggressor.
SIMMONS: The defense of "Stand Your Ground" is not available if, in fact, you are the person who provokes the use of force.
MATTINGLY (on camera): If your changes had had been in place, George Zimmerman would be in prison now?
SMITH: Yes, with the jury's conviction. It would give the jury an opportunity to convict him.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): But the amendment doesn't come close to a repeal. You still do not have a duty to retreat before using deadly force to defend yourself.
Trayvon Martin's parents believe lives will still be lost.
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: The amendment says that you can shoot and kill someone and not be held accountable. So, it is making our children feel unsafe.
BURNETT: David is in Tallahassee tonight.
I mean, David, do the demonstrators feel like they are making progress? We have heard so much about the law, a lot of people made it a cause to get rid of it, but it is still there.
MATTINGLY: So many people we heard from today want this "Stand Your Ground" law repealed. They're not getting anywhere trying to get that done in this legislature. They feel like their efforts may have to be concentrating on the next elections and perhaps getting some new state legislators in that are more sympathetic to their cause.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, David. We appreciate it.
You know, as David has been reporting on this, ever since the beginning covering the Trayvon Martin trial.
Earlier today, I spoke with Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis and I asked if she was pleased at the turnout at the rally that David went out today.
LUCIA MCBATH, MOTHER OF JORDAN DAVIS: I was overjoyed. I didn't expect that many individuals would show. But very, very pleased with the turnout today.
BURNETT: Now, listen, this is something the whole, as you know, is talking about. And what I'm curious about is in state of Florida, where stand your ground has become sort of a front and center issue for the country, 65 percent of voters supported "Stand Your Ground," 18 percent wanted it revealed, 16 percent said it should be modified.
I mean, those numbers have got to be frustrating for you. How are you going to get the support to change that law, to repeal that law?
MCBATH: I think it's going to be a collective effort, I think there has to be a lot of mobilizing, coalition with organizations, of course, we have Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We have National Action Network, we have Dream Defenders. We have a lot of collective organizations that are coming together now, and they are forcibly making the country look at the changes that need to be made with the law.
So I think it's going to be a matter of educating the public, educating the citizens, and how they can really get involved.
BURNETT: And, Lucia, "Stand Your Ground" law obviously wasn't used in the defense in your son's trial or, of course, by George Zimmerman. So, if the law is repealed, how specifically do you think it would make a difference for boys like your son?
MCBATH: I think definitely repealing the law makes a difference, because it shows the citizens of the United States that we care about the safety and the preservation of life for all individuals. I think what's happening now is that we have children that are afraid to walk the streets, everyone now says, you know, am I Trayvon? Am I Jordan? Can this happen to me?
So repealing the law, most definitely I believe will make people believe that they're much safer in society, and they're able to carry on their lives without the fear of gun violence?
BURNETT: And what about Michael Dunn, obviously expected to be retried on first degree murder charges for killing your son -- how confident are you that he will be retried and convicted of that first degree murder charge?
MCBATH: Well, I have to believe that he will be convicted. Of course, I won't be able to say what's in the juror's heads and their thoughts as they're deliberating over my son's charges, but I have to believe that enough is enough. I have to believe that the citizens of this country completely understand what's happening with the gun culture. I have to stand and believe that I know that there will be vindication for Jordan. BURNETT: And, you know, last time we talked you were at the White House with the president. And, you know, we were talking about Jordan and the context of the president's new initiative, My Brother's Keeper, you know, to help young men of color, so that they don't feel that people are looking at them funny when they're walking down the street, people assume they're up to no good.
You were referred to by name by the president, when we spoke then, you haven't yet spoken to him. At this time, have you talked to limb or anyone from the administration about that project?
MCBATH: Not as of yet. I hope that some day soon, I will be able to talk with President Obama and the administration about these initiatives. I would really love to be involved in that, and I think it's going to be very, very big needed, well-needed step in the country. And I look forward to being able to be a part of that process.
BURNETT: It was a pleasure to talk to Lucia.
OUTFRONT tonight, take a look at this x-ray, what did this snake eat? Jeanne Moos is next.
BURNETT: So, a pet boa constrictor was forced to go into a knife because of something it ate. Jeanne Moos, of course, has the story.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wondering where that missing towel went? Maybe it's in the snake?
DR. JULIA SHAKERI, VETERINARIAN: Pretty much this entire length of the snake had towel in it.
MOOS: Veterinarian Julia Shakeri should know, she surgically removed the towel to a two-inch incision, pulling it out inch by inch, with the help of (INAUDIBLE)
The pet boa constrictor's name is Killer, but the towel could have killed him.
SHAKERI: It causes an obstruction, which is life-threatening.
MOOS: The doctor thinks a live rat the snake was being fed was clinging to a towel, so both ended up down the hatch. It's roomy down there.
The other day, we saw a snake swallow an entire crocodile. We've seen dogs like Hanna mistake a golf course for a main course.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seven, eight, nine.
MOOS: Had to have nine golf balls from her stomach.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was that your belly?
MOOS: While Penny here preferred pennies. She swallowed 75 of them. Plus, change.
This poor guy was used as a drug mule, carrying cocaine filled condoms.
(on camera): And as for a towel, a towel is perfectly an appetizer, compared with what people insert and ingest.
(voice-over): Instead of plugging into the wall, imagine plugging in an electrical cord into your very own rear socket.
But don't expect to pass the salt, or the egg beater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I accidently fell on an object. That's probably the most common accidental story you hear.
MOOS: Three doctors compiled x-rays of 100 objects in their book "Stuck Up!", from a cassette tape to a tuna can, rolled like a cigar, to a light bulb. The TV show "Scrubs" accurately portrayed one popular removal technique.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we need to do is thread an angioplasty balloon pass the bulb, inflate it and then pull.
MOOS: From a Barbie doll to a handgun, nothing quick about this draw.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was not loaded.
MOOS: A concealed weapon, even a snake wouldn't carry.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This kid has a light bulb up his butt or his colon has a great idea.
MOOS: -- New York.
BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) is a heck of a lot smarter than those disgusting people.
Thank you so much for joining. We'll see you again tomorrow.
"AC360" starts right now.