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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Official: Missing Malaysia Plane Was Way Off Course; Why Was The Plane's Transponder Off?; Interview with Congressman Mike Rogers; Republican David Jolly Wins Florida Special Election

Aired March 11, 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, dramatic new information about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The plane, hundreds of miles off course before it vanished. Questions tonight about who the co-pilot was letting into the cockpit.

Serious accusations that the CIA is spying on Congress. I'm going to ask the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee if it's true.

New revelations in the Oscar Pistorius trial. Tonight, friends are saying the "Blade Runner" has a very dangerous history with guns. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, where is the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? We have new details tonight on the disappearance of the missing airliner. Authorities are shifting the focus of the search hundreds of miles from that original flight path.

Tonight, four days after that flight went missing, there is still no sign of that the plane. We do know that the plane was way off course when it disappeared. This is according to a Malaysian Air Force official. Another significant development today is that the CIA Director John Brennan has refused to rule out terrorism as a possible cause. And we are going to have much more on that in just a moment.

But first, the international search for any evidence, anything at all of this missing plane of the 239 people on board. Now, here's what we know. I just want to show you, the passenger jet took off from Kuala Lumpur on Saturday at about 12:41 a.m.

As you can see, started heading off north across the Malaysian Peninsula towards Beijing. About an hour into the flight, as you can see, the transponder stopped working or was turned off. It's unclear. At that point right after it was turned off or stop working, the jet changes course. Flies back over the Malaysian Peninsula.

And this is really just on radar, 2:40 a.m., radar lost track of the jet. Now, just to give you a sense, radar is the only way they know where it was. The Malaysian Air Force is saying well the transponder was off. We are giving you this information because of radar tracking.

This island is called Pulau Perak. That's the last time there was any radar of this plane. Now to give you some context about this is, this is in the Straits of Malacca, the opposite direction, of course, from where the plane should have been headed. This is the gateway between China and the Middle East, really the rest of the world. It's one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

I say that so that you realize there are lots of ships in this water that could potentially have seen something explode in the sky or something come into the water. It's a very narrow strait, only 500 miles between the Malaysian coast and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which is the direction in which the plane was heading.

So how did this plane get so far off course? Was it a hijacking? Was it pilot error? Was it terrorism? We begin our coverage tonight with our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto who spoke with the director of the CIA, John Brennan, today. Jim, what did he tell you?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, in effect, what he said is that all of those possibilities still require investigation. That they're interesting. The transponder going off. The change in direction. Even for a time these people boarding the plane with stolen passports. That's now been eliminated. But the bottom line, he said is that they have not ruled out terrorism.

You know the clues are changing so quickly here that as he was giving this talk in Washington, I looked down on my Blackberry and saw the news had just come out that the transponder had been turned off. So I rose my hand, I said we have this new information. Does that increase your suspicion of terrorism? Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: On this issue of the transponder, there are a number of very curious anomalies about all of this and it's still a mystery at this point. Did it turn around? You know, were the individuals with the stolen passports in any way involved? What about the transponder? Why did it just disappear from the radar? There are a lot of unknowns at this point.

So which leads to sort of ramp and the speculation about what the reasons and causes of this are. But I think at this point, we have to again be patient and wait and let the authorities continue to investigate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Now, to be clear, U.S. officials continue to tell me and they do this consistently that they have no evidence at this point that this was an act of terror. But they are following down all these leads. For instance, when those men boarded the plane with the stolen passports, they checked their names against the U.S. terror database, found that there was no link to terrorism. They eliminate that as an explanation.

But there are still all these other unanswered questions. They're looking into those. The director as he said very clearly saying that they haven't ruled out terrorism as a possible explanation.

BURNETT: All right, well, Jim, thank you very much. Obviously, we need to emphasize not only has nothing ruled out, but you know, the situation and how we know it may change. You know, when things happened and the order in which they happened could be altered.

I want to go to Kuala Lumpur now. That is where Andrew Stevens is tonight. Andrew, we were just looking at the Strait of Malacca. One of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. If the plane had gone down there, many people say this strait is so busy, people might have seen it by this point. They should have seen it. I mean, what is the latest on this search?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the search actually has been going on in the Straits of Malacca for two days. It has had -- actually had U.S. warships in there. So they have had an inkling that there could have been something that they need to investigate in the Strait of Malacca. That search is likely to ramp up a lot now, Erin.

Remember this happened at 2:40 in the morning. That was the last known contact. The information that CNN has been getting here in Kuala Lumpur has come from a very senior royal Malaysia Air Force executive and he has been saying to us that this is what happened, the plane was last seen just over this tiny little island, basically a rock in the middle of the Straits of Malacca.

He won't give his name because he's not authorized to speak to the press, but we're hearing lots and lots of theories as everyone is hearing lots of theories. One theory doing the rounds here is that with the catastrophic failure in electronics or whatever, the pilots could have turned around to try to land somewhere. There are a few big air strips within that vicinity.

In fact, if that plane had indeed gone over that little island, it would have gone over a big tourist resort and could have landed there perhaps. It could have been circling around to go back into (Kael). So lots of unknowns at this stage.

BURNETT: Right. Obviously, many, many questions. All right, Andrew, thank you very much. I want to bring in Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff at the Department of Defense and the CIA.

Jeremy, you know, you just heard Andrew reporting from the ground, a theory there. That the plane may have been going back and circling. Some might say why weren't the pilots radioing down? Others saying maybe a mechanical failure could have prevented that. The CIA director refusing to rule out terror.

Yesterday as you know, the U.S. government was leading reporters away from terror as a possible cause. When you put all of this together, what does it tell you?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: First of all, we've got to figure out what we have excluded. We've excluded a catastrophic explosion on the plane. We've excluded a catastrophic mechanical failure. Basically we see right now that it was likely a deliberate act. That plane changing heading is most likely a deliberate act because if the Payne Stewart scenario had come about where the pilots were incapacitated by depressurization in the cabin, that plane would have flown straight, not turned around.

Second, the turning off of the transponder really has to be a deliberate act. There are three, four, five redundancies in the plane's system that would keep electrical power to the plane. Someone would have to deliberately turn that transponder off. And remember, Erin, that three of the four airplanes on 9/11, the hijackers turned the transponder off. That's something that I know our counterterrorism officials are thinking about tonight.

BURNETT: All right, now, Jeremy, what about this route though? I mean, if you put that together, you know, the plane turns around and it's heading back across the Strait of Malacca. I mean, where could it have been heading to? You've got cities in India. You've got Dubai. They're all far away. It only had 7-1/2 hours of fuel that would barely get to you Dubai. You look at that scenario of possible hijacking. It's hard to figure out what the goal was.

BASH: It's very difficult to know at this stage. We don't know if it was a deliberate act and again, it's a caveat. We don't know yet. We don't know if they were trying to take the plane down, whether there was a struggle or whether or not they were aiming for some other landing zone or some other target.

That's unknown right now, Erin. I think it's becoming more clear that this plane just didn't have an electrical failure and started to keep on flying straight. We know that that did not happen.

BURNETT: We're going to be talking to a pilot in a moment about what he thinks may have happened there. But Jeremy, what about the groups? Last night, you and I were talking about there have one group, a little known group in China that had claimed responsibility and that was not at that time being taken seriously by intelligence officials.

But when you say that this could have been deliberate, isn't it still bizarre that there was no terror chatter. No one has claimed responsibility. I mean, if it was a deliberate act, wouldn't that have happened?

BASH: Well, if there was a deliberate act, we first have to figure out, was it a pilot who was disgruntled? Were there psychological issues or was this an actual terrorist plot, you would think, Erin, as you noted that if it was a terrorist plot, there would be some claim of propaganda, some claim of responsibility.

The group that we were talking about last night, the Wiger group or the East Turkmenistan Independence Movement, those groups have conducted some terrorist operations against China.

But again, I'm not so enthralled by that theory because these passengers on the plane had many different destinations. Some of them were bound for Beijing. Some of them had flights to other places. It could have been the pilots wanting to do something deliberate. We just don't know enough at this point -- Erin.

BURNETT: Right, I know Ambassador John Huntsman on the show last night was saying he sure of those groups. He didn't think that those groups that may have engaged in terror in China had the operational ability to pull anything like this off. That was his view. All right, Jeremy Bash, thank you very much. Appreciate your taking the time.

BASH: Thanks, Erin.

OUTFRONT next, we're going to talk more about this issue of the pilots. We're learning more about the co-pilot of Flight 370, why he allowed strangers to enter into the cockpit in a previous incident. We're going to talk to a pilot about what might have happened in that cockpit.

Plus, terrorism, is it to blame or not? The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee with the latest briefing is going to be OUTFRONT.

And we're going to learn more about Oscar Pistorius' dangerous history with guns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: So tonight, there are so many questions in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, where is it? And of course, why was it so far off course? Officials saying it was hundreds of miles off course.

So let's talk about this issue of the transponder. The signal's location of a plane to the ground. The transponder on this plane was about an hour in the flight turned off or stopped working. Just as it changed course.

Tom Foreman has been looking into this. Tom, this is what so many people say makes this extraordinarily suspicious. What have you been able to determine about why the transponder may have been off?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't why it was turned off, but I can tell you it's a very easy thing to do, Erin. The button for the transponder are right between the two pilots. They are easily reach. It's a very quick simple twist of the wrist and the transponders are off. What we also know is the simple fact that they have discovered this turn, this question of the plane going somewhere else has made the job of finding out what happened to it much more complicated.

Not easier and let me show you why. The reason it's more complicated has to do with the way they search things like this. You know, they break off into big sections. Well, up till now, they've been searching up here. But now that they've added these new sections, this is what they have to do. They basically have to grid this of off and mile by mile, hour by hour, planes have to go over this and knock off these grids just a piece at a time and eliminate them. How many square miles we're talking about I can't even calculate at the moment. I know when the air France plane went down and they had debris, Erin, within a couple of days, they searched 124,000 square miles.

BURNETT: Wow.

FOREMAN: To try to find the wreckage and it took two years. And it's not just over water now. Now, they also have to look at questions like, whether or not this plane somehow went over a wooded area, a little traveled area and it went down somewhere out in here if it went down and how they would find it there -- Erin.

BURNETT: I mean, and Tom, that's a fair point to make. As people say, if it was over land, wouldn't people know. Well, there's some incredibly dense jungle on that part of the world. There's also mountainous areas. I mean, you know, that would be not populated.

But if the plane is underwater, what happens then? And I guess, you know, that brings us back to the question of, it is bizarre at this point especially when we talking about this part of the world and this strait if it is indeed there. It's so busy with ships and you know, it is off the coast of Brazil wasn't anywhere near as highly trafficked in terms of ships that could see debris.

FOREMAN: Well, one of the things I want to point here that I think is really worth talking about. You mentioned this strait here. Yes, it's a very big deal. but you know, we don't know, Erin, based on this latest information, we don't know even if it kept going. What if the plane did not stop here? This is just last contact. If it keeps going this way, this thing was traveling about 560 miles an hour, had enough fuel for seven hours of flight. That could take it well, wee, well over the ocean and the search area expands infinitely.

But I do want to point out one thing about that strait, you are absolutely right. Hugely, hugely busy area and it's not terribly deep. Its average 65 to 75 feet, something like that, the maximum depth is 328. So it's not really deep. But that heavy travel blessing and a curse. The blessing is, a lot of ships out there, maybe be somebody sees something because there are a tremendous number of ships going up and down this channel. But that part is also means a lot of noise. And if they start toning sonar waves under the water, which is they have to do to listen for this. That's harder to do with big ships rattling by every few minutes.

BURNETT: Interesting point. That's a really interesting point.

All right, Tom Foreman, thank you very much.

I want to bring in Mark Weiss now, former airline captain who is flew the Boeing 777.

Mark, thanks very much for taking the time. You know, let's talk about the issue of the transponder first and foremost. Can you think of any reason why the pilot would have turned it off on purpose but not with any nefarious intent? MARK WEISS, FORMER AIRLINE CAPTAIN: No, not really. I mean, you know, the transponder is really a safety device. Of it enunciates your position to air traffic control. And it helps to protect the air space that you're flying in. The type of transponder that the 777 has and what would be enunciated on a radar screen would give you say, MH 370, it would give the altitude, the air speed, the direction of flight. So it kind of protects your air space and alerts air traffic control if there's an incursion into your air space. So, you want that protection all the time.

BURNETT: All right. So the transponder is off. We know at this point. Now, and that's also been picked up according to the Malaysian air force, that the plane was picked up far, far away from the point at which the transponder was turned off.

Now, assume that that it continues to hold to be true, you put those two things together, where do you fall as a pilot in terms of the theories that are out there, which is mechanical failure or hijacking or terrorism?

WEISS: Well --

BURNETT: Or pilot error, sorry.

WEISS: Well, I'm inclined to believe, and of course, you're not going to know this as everybody has said. It's all speculation at this point. But I'm inclined to believe that when you add up all the pieces that we know at this point, that the airplane deviated from its course, the transponder was off, there was no communication. And without having the voice recorder, the cockpit voice recorder and certainly the flight data recorder, you don't even know who was in the cockpit or who was let into the cockpit. Who was flying, whether there was a struggle. Whether somebody had a meltdown. So my thinking tends to be something a little bit more nefarious than just some type of mechanical problem, somebody trying to return to an operational field to have maintenance done on an aircraft.

BURNETT: All right. And Mark, let me ask you to your point about who was in the cockpit. You know, most people in the U.S. would say aren't those cockpit doors barred after 9/11? I mean, you know, overseas is not always, it's been my experience that's the case. And a woman on an Australian television program said one of the pilots from the flight 370 had invited her and her friend into the cockpit during a previous flight. This is a picture of them all together December of 2011. He didn't know the girls. They were teenagers. But he invited them up to the cockpit. So, you know, what does this tell you about the possibilities here?

WEISS: Well, it certainly opens up the possibility to what maybe nobody wants to think about. That somebody was allowed to enter the cockpit. And did something that we don't want to believe could have happened. That they took over the aircraft. They could have intentionally disabled the pilots and flown the aircraft to a destination either into the water or to somewhere on land that they wanted. That's not going to happen on a U.S. aircraft. And I think when you ask the question about whether or not this is something that people think about, if people are accustomed to what U.S. carriers or in many cases western carriers are doing for supporting the security of the aircraft, it's not necessarily the case around the globe. And people have to be aware of that.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Mark. Appreciate it.

WEISS: Thank you.

BURNETT: Still to come, the head of the CIA refuses to rule out terrorism in the disappearance of flight 370. The past airline disaster offer important clues tonight about where this airplane is?

And a senator accuses the CIA of spying on Congress. Wild speculation or is there something to it, all that ahead OUTFRONT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: So, we're following the developing story on the disappearance of Malaysia airlines flight 370 and the director of the CIA today left open the possibility that terrorism may have been why the jet with the 239 people on board varnished. It's the same believe that quickly followed the explosion of TWA flight 800 which you may remember crashed off the coast of New York's Long Island in 1996. It was on July, 230 passengers and crew lost that your lives.

In the days that followed, scores can of eyewitnesses came forward describing what they said was a streak of light. Moving toward the jet shortly before it burst into flames.

David Mattingly covered the TWA flight 800 crash extensively for CNN. He's OUTFRONT.

David, just like with Malaysia air 370, there was a lot of talk about terror immediately after TWA 800. It took a long time, a really long time, right, for investigators to determine the cause of exactly what happened.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at that time, there were dozens of eyewitnesses on the ground, even a pilot in the air that saw TWA flight 800 blow up in mid-air. Jet airliners just don't do that. So, it was a natural thing for people to suspect that terrorism might it be the cause, In fact, there was a great deal of preparation going on at every level of government up to the White House until the investigation was able to determine relatively early that there was no connection to terrorism.

They were able to do that because they were able to analyze the wreckage. They were also able to look at the data in the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. So far nothing like that has been recovered from this crash that's being investigated. In fact, the only thing that seems to being in common with be this flight compared to flight 800 was that there's no one of any credibility stepping forward to take responsibility for bringing it down.

BURNETT: And that's one of the shocking things. Everyone keeps saying God, if someone did this why are they not taking credit.

I mean, I know in the case of the flight 800, David, as you reported, that was a mechanical failure, hot summer day, air conditioning surrogate sparked, you know, something went horribly and shockingly wrong. But conspiracy theories are still out there about that plane.

MATTINGLY: This was an extraordinary investigation. It took months and it costs tens of millions of dollars for them to actually gather all the pieces. And they did something they've never done before. They took these pieces and put a large section of the plane back together. That piece of the reassembled plane is still in a hangar outside of Washington, D.C. I've seen it. I've been inside of it. And I've been inside the center fuel tank where they believe that the explosion happened.

And at the end of the investigation, they were able to determine that it was because something as simple and as complex as old faulty wiring causing a spark inside that mostly empty fuel tank igniting those fumes and causing the explosion.

And yet today, after all that extraordinary effort, there are still people who strongly believe that this flight was brought down by a missile. And nothing is going to change their mind. There are even greater unknowns right now for the Malaysian flight and we're just beginning to try and figure out what happened.

BURNETT: Absolutely. All right, David Mattingly, thank you very much. It is sort of a lesson there that are always going to be questions for some and just how incredibly difficult it is to figure out what happened. And in that case, look at how much of the jet they had. At this point, we have no idea where this jet is.

Still to come, anger boiling over tonight with families of loved ones growing desperate for news about flight 370. The horrible anguish they are experiencing waiting and still in some cases holding out hope.

And President Obama is in New York tonight for a major fund-raiser. But things could get pretty awkward with his host. We have a Special Report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: New developments in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 today.

We now know the plane was traveling hundreds of miles off its planned course. That is its planned course as you see, transponder turned off. We do not know why. And then the plane changes course. Disappears well, well off where it was supposed to be.

There are no answers at this point as to where that plane is now or how it went missing. The wait for news has been completely agonizing for the families of passengers and crews. Among them three American citizens, including Phillip Wood, his brother told CNN yesterday that the family is, quote, "just relying on faith."

David McKenzie is in Beijing where many of the waiting family members have gathered.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the hours turning into days, the pain spills out. "I can still call my son's mobile phone", this man cries out. "You need to search for him quickly."

Meetings with airline officials are tense. At times angry. Hundreds of family members want answers. But there are few to give.

PAUL YIN, GRIEF COUNSELOR: It is not the final closure. I think any ray of hope however remote or however improbable, many of these people are still hold on to it.

MCKENZIE: Airline officials have pledged to send close family members to the staging ground of the search in Malaysia. But few of them want to go. Not until the plane is found.

FATHER OF YAN LING, DAUGHTER WAS ON FLIGHT 370 (through translator): I'm not going home until I know what happened. We've lost loved ones, and they need to answer our questions. When are you going to tell us? And what are you going to do? We still don't know if they are alive or dead.

MCKENZIE: As the extraordinary search effort continues, dozens of planes, boats and nations haven't been able to give these family members what they want to know, an answer of any kind.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: It's that not knowing that is the worst thing for these families. Hundreds of them are in this hotel near the airport in Beijing. More than 150 people onboard that missing plane were from here in China. But a dozen nationalities at least and all across the world people wanting to know why, wanting any kind of news, even if it's bad news, even going to the length of trying to call the cell phones and thinking maybe their loved ones are alive -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. David McKenzie, thank you very much.

My next guest understands those families' anguish. Matthew McConkey's friends (INAUDIBLE) boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Saturday morning.

Matthew, thank you for being with us.

I really can't fully imagine what you're going through losing your friends. You've known them for over six years.

What can you tell us about them?

MATTHEW MCCONKEY, FRIEND OF COUPLE ON FLIGHT 370: Thank you, Erin. I mean, it's the reason I'm here, because I sort of feel it's a bit of a tribute to my friends. Never gone through anything like this before and I hope to never go through anything like this again and I hope nobody I know goes through anything like this.

Fantastic couple, Muktesh (ph) himself, a nut, always friendly, always had a big smile, always up for doing something. So we had a lot of fun times together. Worked very hard in everything he did. Traveled a lot for work but very much a devoted family man, loved Shamo (ph). When you'd have a group of guys out and guys joking around or whatever, there was no joking about Shamo. He was very much in love with her.

And as parents, nothing was more important to them than those kids. Everything they did was surrounding those kids. You'd go to their house and it was covered with pictures of their boys who were absolutely adorable.

BURNETT: Where are the children? Obviously, they were not with their parents on this trip which I believe was a vacation.

MCCONKEY: Yes, it was a vacation. Thank God. Muktesh and Shamo were taking a well deserved couples vacation in Vietnam. And so, they had left the two boys with her mom back in Beijing.

So, you know, as this whole thing unfolds, while there's the uncertainty of where is the aircraft and whatever, you know, the family's having to deal with the grief of, you know, in all likelihood losing their daughter and their son. But all of the energy and the focus is right now on these two children, and protecting them from the outside world as much as they can right now and trying to figure out a path forward.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Matthew, thank you very much.

MCCONKEY: You're welcome.

BURNETT: And joining me now is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers.

Great to have you with us, sir. Really appreciate your taking the time.

I know you've been watching the developments and getting briefed on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

John Brennan says the CIA isn't ruling out terrorism. Look, there are so many theories on the table. You've been briefed.

What's your view on the situation now?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, we see no evidence that it is terrorism. Unfortunately, we don't see evidence that it's much of anything. We can't get any good determination about what happened to the flight based on the collection points that our intelligence services are engaged in today. BURNETT: Has the search mission been handled properly? I mean, it's got to be frustrating a plane goes down with 239 people, transponder gets turned off, plane changes directions and we have no idea at all at this point of anything.

ROGERS: Yes. And you know, not knowing its direction at the time that they lost contact is incredibly frustrating. And there hasn't -- you know, the Malaysians have not been fully cooperative in making this a scientific search pattern using all the assets very wisely. So, you start out in one place and you're 500 miles away the next day. That tells me they've got a lot of gaps to try to fill and hopefully, that will come together.

I mean, obviously, you want some closure for the families and we need to get access to the airplane to get some forensic evidence to try to make a determination to see where we go next.

BURNETT: Two men were traveling on stolen passports. Obviously, we reported extensively on that. We have no idea if they were involved in the disappearance of the flight. Interpol, though, has a database of 40 million stolen or lost passports.

According to Interpol, last year, passengers boarded planes more than a billion times without their passports being checked against the database. That is stunning.

ROGERS: Yes, it's a huge problem. Maybe this is a catalyst to try to get the problem fixed. And this is relatively easy to fix but you have to have the international community to cooperate.

And you know, there are organized criminal groups who partake in the thievery of these passports and/or purchase of them and repurposing them. It's a fairly significant business internationally, which causes problems. A lot of it is human trafficking or moving drugs and other things. But it also leaves open this gap that where terrorists could fill in.

And that's why so many are concerned, including me, and would like to push out some international solution pretty quickly.

BURNETT: So, Chairman, let me ask you, though, about the situation overall. Given there's so many questions and so much uncertainty. But that there are some pretty terrifying prospects on the table, right, which may or may not be true whether that includes as an option, or whether that includes hijacking as an option.

Have there been any changes in the United States in the past few days in response to this, given that there are some are saying, well, look, maybe this was a one-off. Maybe this was a dry run. Maybe this is something that there would need to be a response to.

Has there been one?

ROGERS: Well, you can imagine when something like this happens and there are questions we just can't get answered that the intelligence community is going to run through its worst case scenarios up front. You want them to do that. You want them to assume that this was a dry run and there might be other activities, what kinds of things would we look for, what kinds of changes would we make.

So, those things have to happen. They are happening. And they should continue to do that even though, again, I want to be very clear, there is no glaring evidence yet that there is any terrorist activity involved in the flight.

BURNETT: All right. Chairman, I want to ask you about another big story today. Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Committee, was saying she thinks there has been CIA surveillance of what's going on in the Senate, right? She's obviously your counterpart over on the Senate Intelligence.

ROGERS: Right.

BURNETT: So, John Brennan today categorically said nothing could be farther from the truth, we wouldn't do that. Beyond the scope of reason is how he described that. She says, of course, it would violate the Constitution.

Do you believe, John Brennan, that he didn't do it?

ROGERS: Well, I have faith in the I.G. system. And the I.G. referred something to the Justice Department when it came to believing that there may have been criminal charges on behalf of the CIA. I don't know.

I have immense respect for Dianne Feinstein. We work well together between the House and the Senate Intelligence Committee. If she takes to the floor to make a statement about something she feels strongly about, I can guarantee you there's more there than a simple floor speech.

So, I don't know all the facts. Clearly, we need to get to the bottom of this very quickly so we can de-escalate what appears to be a very unproductive and I could argue damaging exchange.

I was a little surprised that the director took out so strong, given that the I.G. had referred a case. Maybe it was best not to be out there talking about it.

BURNETT: Right.

ROGERS: But we have to get this thing -- we very so much work to do, so much you know, facts to find when it comes to other cases counter- terrorism cases, foreign intelligence collection. We'd better get to the bottom of this quickly.

BURNETT: And, Chairman, Ukraine obviously is a huge issue. The president is going to be meeting with the interim prime minister of Ukraine tomorrow, coming to the United States.

But, obviously, the interim prime minister is, you know, the states calls him the interim prime minister. You know, the parliament put him in power after there was -- I know people are touchy about the word used here but Russia calls it a coup. Either way, it was crowds on the street that got the elected guy kicked out.

Should -- does Putin have a point that this was a coup and the United States is now supporting an interim prime minister who is not democratically elected?

ROGERS: Hard to believe the Russian point of view when you have troops who basically pushed out and have taken over military bases in south Crimea. You have a huge and growing problem. I think where the legal problem is going to get questionable is if they -- the south Crimeans -- or the Crimean peninsula votes on Sunday o be part of Russia, to secede --

BURNETT: Right.

ROGERS: -- from Ukraine and join Russia, that creates a whole host of problems. What I think we have is a very long problem.

This is not going to heal overnight. There's going to be diplomacy and other aggression I think before this is over. I don't think it will break into big military exchanges.

I do think there could be skirmishes.

So, I think the next month and a half, I think we know what's going to happen on Sunday and the referendum is going to be really interesting and it's going to be a challenge for the -- I think the diplomatic relations between our European friends, this new Ukrainian government and how we contain, if you will, Russian efforts for influence in the region.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. Chairman Rogers, we appreciate your time.

ROGERS: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Important person to talk to tonight.

Still to come, the Oscar Pistorius trial. New revelations about the Blade Runner's past behavior with a gun and President Obama answers the tough questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, FUNNY OR DIE: I have to know, what is it like to be the last black president?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Seriously? What's it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And now, let's check in with Anderson with a look on what's coming up on "AC360."

Hey, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin.

Yes, about 12 minutes from now, we are tracking all the latest developments of missing Flight 370. We're going to dig into what could have made the pilots change course so radically mid-flight.

I'm joined by several aviation experts, as well as a former FBI assistant director to try to lay out the investigation where it is now, where it's going and possible causes.

Also, anguished families waiting for any information on their missing loved ones. We'll take a closer look at some of those who are missing. We're learning more about them. Including one father who left behind his wedding band and his watch for his young sons should anything happen to him on his trip.

Plus, certainly isn't the first air mystery we've seen. We'll take a look at past catastrophic air accidents. Planes simply vanishing and how investigators back then were able to locate clues sometimes years later. We'll talk to those who are involved in some investigations.

Those stories plus the latest on the Oscar Pistorius trial -- all that at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, thank you very much. Looking forward to seeing you in just a few minutes.

And now, we're going to talk a little bit about Oscar Pistorius. You know, the focus of his murder trial shifted today from forensics back to the athlete's history with guns. And this is a pretty tortured and bizarre story.

The one-time Olympian seated next to a green plastic bucket today. He was seen there because he was unable to stomach the gory description of his girlfriend's death during yesterday's testimony.

Robyn Curnow has been on the courtroom every day. She's OUTFRONT in Pretoria for us tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Oscar Pistorius calm and composed as he walked into court. A stark contrast from the Olympian we saw yesterday, crying, gagging, repeatedly throwing up as the state pathologist detailed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp's final moments.

The testimony so gruesome -- the judge cut the live video feed.

Today, Pistorius listened intently as the pathologist contradicted the athlete's claims the couple went to bed by 10:00 and were not fighting the night she died. He testified Steenkamp had eaten about 1:00 a.m., two hours before the shooting.

A friend of Pistorius also taking the stand. DARREN FRESCO, FRIEND OF OSCAR PISTORIUS: We had met on a breakfast run and subsequently became very friendly thereafter.

CURNOW: Darren Fresco testified about an incident the court heard about last week, where Pistorius lost his cool after an officer stopped them for speeding and touched his gun.

FRESCO: He started telling the officer, now your fingerprints are all over my gun. So if something happens you are then going to be liable for anything that would happen.

CURNOW: He then went on to paint Pistorius as reckless with guns.

FRESCO: Without prior warning, he shot out the sunroof.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you say anything?

FRESCO: Apologies for my language, my lady, but I asked him if he feels (EXPLETIVE DELETED) mad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?

FRESCO: He just laughed, my lady.

CURNOW: Pistorius denies that shooting took place. And his defense took the friend to task, questioning why his version of events is so drastically different from the athlete's ex-girlfriend's claims of what happened that night.

SAMANTHA TAYLOR, PISTORIUS' EX-GIRLFRIEND: Oscar and Darren were pretty anxious and a little bit irritated with the policeman, and so they laughed and then Oscar shot a bullet out the sunroof.

BARRY ROUX, DEFENSE LAWYER: I'm trying to understand how it is you have two people in a car that can differ so dramatically about when and where and why the shot was allegedly fired.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Not only did Oscar Pistorius' friend contradict other witnesses, he also seemed evasive, unsure of himself, unsure of his own testimony and statements under cross-examination. His performance on the stand void buoyed it seemed the defense team. They left the Pretoria high court at the end of the session with smiles on their faces and his friend will now appear again for further cross- examination tomorrow.

Erin, back to you.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks so much to Robyn.

And we have breaking news now, a very important political race tonight. CNN is ready to make a projection in the special election for House seat in Florida's 13th district. This encompasses part of St. Petersburg. And we can now project that Republican David Jolly has beat Democrat Alex Sink. Now, the reason this reason this race is important, many believe it is a crucial bellwether for the midterm elections in November.

Dana Bash is there in St. Petersburg tonight -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I'm at Alex Sink's, the Democratic candidate's headquarters. And she just came out, she's speaking behind me. She is conceding this race.

And as you said, the reason why there is such a national focus on what's going on here is because it has been kind of a testing ground for both parties on several fronts but most importantly on the message of Obamacare, what Alex Sink has been saying at the behest of the Democratic Party is that she is still for Obamacare but that she thinks there should be some changes, there should be some reforms to it.

And that is something that she's been pushing, something that Democrats were and still are hoping that other Democrats in tough races in the big midterms in November can use. It didn't work for her here, but it's also important to note that this is a district that has been held by a Republican or was held by a Republican until he passed away for 43 years.

So, the winner as you said is David Jolly. We expect him to come out and speak at his headquarters down the road in a short while.

He actually was an employee of the late Republican congressman for a long time. He is somebody who has been saying that he wants to follow in his footsteps. There's no question that helped him here.

But also when you're talking about the national perspective, he as you can imagine has been campaigning against Obamacare, saying he wants to repeal Obamacare but also with a twist. He's been really pushing harder than other Republicans the idea of replacing it, of not just taking await health care law but making sure there's something else in place.

So, those are the two kind of opposing messages on a national level that the parties have been testing. But in this particular case the Republican one, whether or not that it's going to be able to be something that will be a bellwether for what happens in November is an open question.

But certainly, all of the results are going to be analyzed, particularly the millions of dollars that have poured in here from all across the country -- Erin.

BURNETT: Absolutely. All right. Dana, thank you very much.

A very significant race as the Democrats and Republicans battle daily over what the count will be and who will have control of the Senate.

Still to come, President Obama answers some serious questions, kind of.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: President Obama takes on Zach Galifianakis' joke for joke on the actor's talk show "Between Two Ferns." Galifianakis is known for insulting his guests and banking on extremely awkward moments. But the president had a zinger of his own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GALIFIANAKIS: It must kind of stink, though, that you can't run three times.

OBAMA: Actually, I think it's a good idea. You know, if I ran a third time, it would be sort of like doing a third "Hangover" movie. Didn't really work out very well, did it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Apparently, the appearance was the White House's way of selling Obamacare to young people. It's pretty awesome appearance I have to say. The president was not shy to plug Obamacare. Though, today, we learned the administration is closer to meeting its targets. Another 842,000 people enrolled in health care. However, participation among young people remains stagnant. Maybe more appearances with the ferns will help.

Speaking of ferns, before we go, a reminder, don't miss Dr. Sanjay Gupta's double down on medical marijuana, "Weed 2: Cannabis Madness", starts tonight. "Cannabis Madness", sorry, starts tonight at 10:00 Eastern and Pacific. I must love the rhyme too much.

Thanks so much for watching as always. We hope you'll watch. It's an absolutely fantastic show.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360", though, starts right now.