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Search Continues for Missing Malaysian Plane; Mystery Passengers on Malaysian Flight Examined; Yanukovych Claims He is Still Ukrainian President; Putin, Kerry Do Not Meet

Aired March 11, 2014 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All eyes on Florida this morning for the first Congressional election of 2014. It pits Democrat Alex Sink against Republican David Jolly in the state's 13th district which is in the Saint Petersburg area. The contest is widely seen as a referendum on Obamacare and could shape the way candidates from both parties campaign in midterm elections. Right now that race is too close to call.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, listen up. We have breaking news coming in right now about the missing Malaysian airlines flight 370. The two passengers who boarded with stolen passports have now been identified. One is a 19-year-old Iranian national who may have been trying to emigrate to Germany. The second passenger using a stolen passport is a 29-year-old and Iranian man again. His name is Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza. We're told both passengers made it into Malaysia using valid Iranian passports. Two weeks later, they used invalid ones. Authorities say they don't appear to have any links to terror, but there is now some more questions of this situation. CNN's Justice correspondent Pamela Brown tracking the latest developments from Washington. How are they making sense of this so far, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, in this particular case now the focus is on these security lapses, the fact that these passengers were able to board the flight with those stolen passports. At a press conference just moments ago, Interpol secretary and General Ron Noble says the more information officials are getting, the more they're likely to conclude it wasn't a terrorist incident. Noble says the two passengers who boarded doomed flight 370 with stolen passports are Iranian, as you mentioned, 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and 29-year-old Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza. We see pictures there.

When Mehrdad did not arrive as planned, his mother contacted Malaysian authorities to help track him down. Their flight originated and went in Qatar and then went into Kuala Lumpur airport. As you pointed out they were using valid Iranian passports and switched to the stolen passports, authorities said.

Now it seems like a suspicious coincidence that the plane went missing and two of the passengers on board using stolen passports, but again, Chris and Brooke, after pouring through airport surveillance video and thumbprints recovers, the airport authorities now say they believe there's likely a reason other than terrorism that caused that plane to vanish. BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Pamela, thank you. Still no plane. The search is widening this morning, dozens of boats and planes from 10 countries trying to help out in the search. We can tell you that China has just deployed ten high-resolution satellites. So far, not a single confirmed sighting. Saima Mohsin got a chance to join the air search for flight 370. She joins us now from Kuala Lumpur. Saima, tell me what you saw.

SIAMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, this is a C- 130 plane that goes out and carries out the regular search and rescue admissions. If you can just imagine the vast expanse of sea and ocean they have to cover on both sides of the Malaysian peninsula. That's 12,500 square nautical miles. It is huge. That's why the Malaysians are so thankful to the international effort that is supporting them. They have more than 40 ships scouring the sea searching for any clues. Mostly neighboring countries, but also countries like the United States, Australia and New Zealand coming forward, Brunei coming forward today as well. And on board that plane, the minister of defense telling me they will not give up hope. This is still a search and rescue mission.

CUOMO: Thank you very much. Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Mr. Tom Fuentes. Tom, it's good to see you again.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good morning, Chris.

CUOMO: Help me understand something about these passports, because it's confusing at least to me. So these two gentleman United States valid Iranian passports to get into Malaysia, but then just two weeks later they use these stolen passports. What does that mean?

FUENTES: Well, that's a great question, Chris. You know, and also how did they connect with the man who is in Thailand supplying the tickets, buying them using Thai currency, the Thai baht, and using these two passports. So how did they make that connection from this other gentleman. So the question is, have they located Ali? The search for this gentleman is important because they need to find out from him how does he connect with potential users of these stolen passports, how many others is he in possession of, what kind of a network exists that supplies these, and who are the people that they supply them to. Are they always supplying them to Iranian people who want to be refugees or seek asylum in another country?

So there's still a huge mystery about these two individuals that board the aircraft and their passports and Ali in Thailand who bought the tickets for them. It still does not rule in or out terrorism for even other people on that aircraft if they're not involved.

CUOMO: Understood. But let's stick with this parallel theme for a moment, because sometimes one problem leads you to another. And assuming these two men had nothing to do with a terrorist act that brought down this airplane, that's still a mystery, it's still eye- opening about lapses in security. Could it be they were effective in getting them to Malaysia but would not have worked going into China or Europe, and that's why they needed the fake passports which leads them into this other thicket which seems like some sort of human trafficking? Plausible?

FUENTES: Yes, plausible. And the reason for that is if you're traveling around the world, you're not going to receive the same scrutiny in many countries when you arrive or when you transit through their airports and go through security even as a transit passenger. That's one reason why there's a huge black market to get stolen or counterfeit passports that are European in particular.

So the fact they boarded the flight out of Qatar to go to Malaysia if they were using their Iranian passports, that is one of two airlines in the world that Interpol is allowing access to their database. So the Qatar airlines that they took that would have screened their passports and determined that they were valid, which they were.

So the flights from Malaysia out are still a question mark as to, OK, now we know they have these stolen passports. How did they get them from the gentleman in Thailand? What is the connection that hooked them up?

So CUOMO: some legitimate valid security questions ongoing that are separate and apart from what happened in this airplane, especially in that area of the world where terrorism is on the rise. Is it true, Tom that most of the talk about a terrorist act is working off the idea of a test plot, that that's been a theory. What is a test plot, and do you believe that that's something worth investing in?

FUENTES: Everything needs to be looked at. I don't personally buy that theory because if you're doing a test plot you don't blow the aircraft out of the sky to do it. The idea is to test the system, see if you can board the aircraft with the travel documents you're using, see if you can introduce certain materials in your luggage, carryon or check in. You're testing the system, and it's been done in other cases.

But during the test, you don't actually do the act because as a result of doing this, there's a great possibility that security measures will be tightened up, that countries will be put under pressure to do more to check passports on outbound passengers. Currently, you have 1 billion tickets a year issued for flights without a check being done. Only a couple countries even check these passports for people leaving the country.

CUOMO: That's obviously something that has to change. That's a good point you made there. You're going to hear about the test plot. The best reason to dismiss that theory is exactly what Tom said, they wouldn't have tested the system in a way that winds up revealing how they snuck on in the first place. So that's why the mystery really does continue there. But Tom, thanks for clearing that up and helping us understand this passport security issue, appreciate it.

FUENTES: Thank you, Chris.

BALDWIN: Chris, thank you.

The Senate has approved changes to the way military deals with sex assault allegations. The Bill passed 97-0. It would prohibit the use of the soldier's positive record in their defense. And all of this comes just a couple of days after the Senate defeated a measure that would have taken prosecutions away from commanders. The House could act on the measure or incorporate into a larger defense bill.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: A high-raking army official must tell a military judge today if he wants to make a plea deal. Monday the trial of Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair came to a temporary halt. The judge believed military brass might have meddled in the case and denied Sinclair a chance to plead to lesser chargers because they were worried about the political consequences. An Army captain says Sinclair forced her to have sex and then threatened her life.

CUOMO: Listen up, a pivotal day in the investigation into the New Jersey governor and bridge-gate. Attorneys for two former staffers, they're going to try to get their subpoenas quashed. They're going to argue and try to convince a judge that they don't have to turn over text messages and other private communications to investigators because to do so would incriminate themselves.

BALDWIN: Colorado made about $2 million in recreational marijuana tax revenue in the month of January. This is the first month it was sold legally there. The state taxes recreational pot at about 29 percent. Combined with taxes and fees on medical marijuana, Colorado made a total of $3.5 million from pot taxes. Also keep in mind, though, a huge chunk of the money will go to keep kids away from marijuana.

CUOMO: Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley is listed in good condition this morning as collapsing on the bench during last night's hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Just 31 years old. He underwent a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat six months ago and then missed a game when the problem occurred just last week. They're checking on the situation.

PEREIRA: Our thoughts with him for sure.

Let's take a look at what's in the papers this morning. We start with Tuesday's "New York Times," how Boston is preparing for the marathon next month. Overall tighter security after the bombings last year left people killed and injured. However, law enforcement officials are encouraging people to come out and celebrate a show of the city's resilience. About 9,000 runners more are expected than last year.

New York apparently launched and then scrapped the problem of New York-New Jersey Port Authority Chairman David Sampson. They subpoenaed records Friday and withdrew the subpoena Monday. He has been scrutinized in the wake of the George Washington bridge scandal.

And in "The New Haven" register, the United Methodist church is now calling off a church trial for a pastor who oh officiated his son's same-sex wedding. Officials announced Monday that Reverend Thomas Ogletree, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School, will not be defrocked. Instead, he'll participate in a public forum on the issue of gay marriage and the church.

BALDWIN: And to Florida we go where hundreds will be marching to the state's capitol demanding the repeal of stand your ground, the law there that some Florida lawmakers are looking closely as what they consider this loophole. Instead it would allow people who fear for their lives the ability to fire a warning shot at their attacker. And 11 states are considering adopting or maybe even strengthening their stand your ground, 12 more deciding whether to weaken or repeal them.

Author Joe McGinniss has died. Best known for "Fatal Vision," a 1983 book he wrote about the murder case of a former green beret. McGinniss made headlines again in 2010 when he moved next door to Sarah Palin's Alaska home in order to do research his book "The Rogue." Palin threatened to sue him but never did. McGinniss died Monday after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 71 year old.

PEREIRA: Let's take a look at what is trending, and we begin with Kiss. They've rocked the stage for four decades now. But now Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are rocking the grid iron as co-owners of the L.A. Kiss arena football team.

After 27 years, a woman is looking for the mother that left her in a Pennsylvania Burger King. She was abandoned as an infant in a bathroom wrapped in a red sweater. She has now posted a photo and note on Facebook hoping the people will share the picture and help her locate her biological mother. We're going to keep an eye on that story.

It was kind of a shocking and I'm going to say uncomfortable season finale of "The Bachelor." This is a spoiler alert. Between Clare and Nikki, who did Juan Pablo pick? Kind of Nikki. Juan Pablo had the ring, but he didn't propose to her. Can you do that? He told her he wasn't sure he was ready to go, but still wanted to date her. Nikki went on to accept his final rose. I guess congratulations were in order?

CUOMO: Negative on that.

PEREIRA: Will you accept this final rose?

PEREIRA: I would.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You know who doesn't care about this at all is science. Meteorologist Indra Petersons, she's sure isn't somebody who would indulge in this type of reality TV.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Never. I heard spoiler report, and this was TiVo-ed, you guys. This was about 8:00 or 9:00 last night. I was in bed. I did not want to know this.

PEREIRA: I warned you.

PETERSONS: I know, but what am I supposed to do? Mute you. I'm devastated, just so we all know.

CUOMO: Don't worry, it's all fake.

PETERSONS: Yeah, right. But since I'm mad, I'm going to make the rest of you guys mad, too, right? Enjoy your beautiful day because I am taking it away. That is right. That's what you all get.

What did we say? 70s D.C. Enjoy that. You're going down to 30s by Thursday. New York 60, not so much -- 27 degrees in a couple of days. This is how I feel. That's how the rest of y'all are going to feel.

Warm air making its way into the northeast. It's lasting for, like, a day or two, guys. Why? Because we're talking about a system kind of making its way across the upper plains and Midwest today.

But look at this, I mean, New York City today, talking about temperatures 12 degrees above normal. D.C., 19 degrees above normal. St. Louis seeing 79 today but dropping to 39 by tomorrow. That is a 40 degree temperature drop thanks to the system that's already out there kind of hanging out in the Midwest and the upper planes, making its way into the Ohio valley overnight tonight bringing some light snow -- several inches there. And then by tomorrow, making its way to the Ohio valley. Tomorrow night into the Northeast in through Thursday.

As far as how much we're all expecting, there are going to be some heavy amounts and strong winds out there, but bulk of it staying again upper portion of New York all the way in through Maine. Talk about Chicago, several inches there. Even Detroit could see about seven inches. But I'm mad, so then all the rest of you will be mad.

PEREIRA: Some sort of white flag, a peace offering, anything?

PETERSONS: I even knew it was coming. But there's nothing I can do. I'm like, "This doesn't help. This doesn't help." There's nothing.

CUOMO: Breathe in, breathe out and give back those 101 Dalmatians.

PETERSONS: Don't bother me tonight.

CUOMO: Ice queen coming over there.

BALDWIN: She's like, "And for that, 30 degrees."

CUOMO: Yes.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here on NEW DAY, Ukraine's ousted president says he is still the president despite what happened in his country. We will talk to our own Christiane Amanpour, what she thinks about this coming up.

CUOMO: And ahead, sleepless in the Senate. You're looking at live pictures from the Senate chamber in Washington --

BALDWIN: Still going.

CUOMO: -- where Democrats are doing an all-nighter on something that's going to help you maybe, climate change. Will it change or anything or is this just the latest chapter in a bad book about political theater? John King goes inside politics coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Welcome back. No backing down for ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. I (sic) spoke a little earlier this morning from his exile in Russia. He says he is still the president despite an interim government currently in place.

Now, this comes as Russia's lower parliament says it will discuss Crimea joining the country. Crimea declares it's forming its own army to defend itself. Let's talk about this with Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent.

So Christiane, first, just good morning to you.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I want to get to this canceled Kerry-Putin meeting in just a second. But first, just on Yanukovych, we see him, you know, flanked in Russia by Ukrainian flags. Tell me, at this point, who is listening to him?

AMANPOUR: Well, look obviously the Russians are upping the ante. I mean, again, Yanukovych is not in Moscow. We're not sure how much coordination between he and the Kremlin. But clearly with this whole upping the ante of the referendum being drawn up much earlier than anticipating with even more sort of Russian-based news and information being fed into Crimea, and with all these sort of illegal machinations around their parliament and all sorts of issues that they're doing, this is simply upping the ante.

He came out today and incredibly said that he was still the president, that he would be going back to Kiev, he said, just as soon as humanly possible. This, of course, as the new interim prime minister of Ukraine, Turchynov, is going to be in Washington meeting with members of the U.S. administration tomorrow.

So clearly these, you know, war of words and war of righteousness, if you like, being waged in public. And Yanukovych also said he threatened to bring his claims right to Washington, to the Supreme Court and members of Congress as well as the administration because he said that the Ukraine interim government is illegal and it shouldn't be helped by the United States. So this is the atmosphere.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the Ukrainian leader meeting with President Obama. That happens tomorrow. A meeting that did not happen, we've now learned, is between Vladimir Putin and also U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. That was supposed to happen yesterday. Hearing from Kerry, he was basically saying he needs to know that Russia's willing to come to the table, you know, take their diplomatic solutions seriously.

So here we are. What's the next move?

AMANPOUR: Well, this is an extraordinary development in the annals of diplomacy that both sides are being briefing and leaking against each other, and it seems now that the Russians are trying to humiliate Secretary Kerry in releasing and making public some of this conversation.

Obviously, the United States and Europe are trying to figure out ways, not only to make it more difficult for Putin -- in other words, here in London today, members of the U.S. and EU officials are discussing increased sanctions on Russia but not on Putin, on other individuals and other entities.

And also, they've got to figure out a way to try to get President Putin to climb down from this mountain of righteous indignation that he has managed to put across and attempt to claim Crimea. They have to figure out a way to makes sure that Crimea has enhanced (ph) autonomy, some kind of interim solution to make it less bad than it is right now.

Because if indeed what happens during the referendum does happen, that's going to be much, much more difficult for the U.S. to then get all sides to pull back.

BALDWIN: Just quickly, let's assume that Putin will not climb down that mountain. I mean, what then? What greater overarching --

AMANPOUR: Well, look. Let's be very frank. There's no massive measure to stop him. There's no military or martial measure whatsoever to stop him. There's only diplomacy and economic pressure.

Vali Nasr, who used to be a State Department official is now dean at Johns Hopkins has written a very interesting article about pressure that could be brought in the energy front. For instance, the U.S. has all this natural gas and energy. Perhaps laws need to be rewritten to be able to export that. And yes, it might take time to get it to Europe, whose biggest producer and supplier is Russia. But perhaps you can do it on floating barges, et cetera. Plus perhaps Iran, if it comes in from the cold and this nuclear deal is signed, which is desperate to export its large, huge reserves of oil and natural gas, could make up for the Russian supply to Europe.

This is what it's all about, Brooke. Putin thinks he has Europe by the short and curlies because of their dependence on oil and natural gas.

BALDWIN: Christiane Amanpour, we'll be watching all of these countries interwoven, the diplomacy, and, of course, again, the referendum in Crimea five days away now.

Christiane, thank you so much.

Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Brooke, coming up on NEW DAY, has Obamacare reached turning point? Before you throw something at the television, hear what is in a brand new CNN poll on the topic.

Plus, why is the president being interviewed by a comedian? Inside politics is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PERIERA: Almost half past the hour here and welcome back to NEW DAY.

We'll take a look at some breaking news right now.

Two passengers used stolen passports to board Malaysian Airlines flight 370 have now been identified. One is 19-year-old Iranian national Pouria Nour Mohammad. He may have been seeking asylum in Europe. The other, a 29-year-old Iranian named Delavar Sayed Mohammad Reza.

CNN obtained (ph) the i-Report photo of these two men before They have surveillance video of the two men believed to have been taken the day the flight went missing. Authorities with Interpol do not believe they have any connection to terrorism.

Jurors in federal court Monday saw videos of Osama bin Laden's son-in law warning of more plane attacks in the wake of 9-11. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is standing trial in Manhattan for charges including conspiring to kill Americans. Prosecutors say he was a top-level al Qaeda operative. In the video, Saluiman gave -- warns Muslims not to board planes and says, quote, "The storm of airplanes will not stop."

Congress has some tough questions for General Motors about a recent recall over 1.6 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The defect has been linked to 13 deaths. But despite first learning of the problem back in 2004, G.M. only issued the recall last month.