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Interview with General Michael Hayden; Day 10 of the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial; Report: Plane Flown Toward Island On Purpose

Aired March 14, 2014 - 06:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Welcome back to NEW DAY. There's a lot of news this morning. Let's get to John Berman for the headlines.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN GUEST HOST: Thanks so much, Chris.

Breaking over night, Reuters reporting that the plane was deliberately being flown toward the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, citing radar data that's a few hundred miles northwest of the plane's last known location. Malaysian officials they cannot confirm this report but they do say that American experts are using satellites to try to find Flight 370.

This comes after a senior official told CNN there is a significant likelihood the plane is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. That's based on signals from the plane after it lost contact but apparently kept on flying as far as 2800 miles off course.

Now reports out of China also point to activity on the sea floor hours after the plane went missing nearly a week ago. The sea floor point, though, in a completely different area than the U.S. is now searching.

The crisis in Ukraine escalating this morning. Thousands of Russian troops are conducting war games along Ukraine's eastern border just two days before Crimeans vote whether to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian federation. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to head off that vote. He is in London right now for talks with Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.

Breaking over night from China. At least six people are reported dead after an argument between two vendors at a market in China's Hunan Province turned violent. Authorities say the suspect fatally stabbed several innocent bystanders and tried to flee. He was killed by police as they arrived on the scene.

We're learning more this morning about the suspected drunk driver who plowed into a South By Southwest Festival. Police say Rashad Owens will face two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle. His brother told the "Austin American Statesman" that Owens in Austin performing at a club under the stage name, "Killing All Beats." Two people were killed in Thursday's crash. Firefighters are giving the all-clear this morning after a leak scare at a Halifax, Nova Scotia, port. Four steel drums containing uranium hexafluoride fell more than 20 feet while being unloaded from a ship last night. Now that chemical compound is used to enrich uranium for use in nuclear missiles. At first authorities fear that there could have been a radioactive leak but all the employees were scanned. They all turned up clean and we are now told there was in fact no leak.

That's good news -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thanks, JB.

We return now to our top story, the search for Malaysian Airline Flight 370. There is new information suggesting the plane may have been deliberately flown toward a group of violence in the Indian Ocean.

Let's talk about this with General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, retired Air Force, also a contributor.

Thank you very much for joining us this morning, sir.


CUOMO: So let's just go through a checklist of what you believe are possibilities, probabilities or things that are more of a distraction. The chance this plane made a dramatic turn in course, do you believe that that is a good suggestion at this point from what we understand?

HAYDEN: Well, it's certainly one of the hypothesis that we should follow. It seems like we get one of those each morning as we try to sort out what happened to these unfortunate folks in that aircraft. There seems to be some evidence.

But, Chris, we have to keep in mind, none of this is definitive. These are data points that seem to suggest one direction or another. To the east of Malaysia, to the west of Malaysia, they've all got to be checked out to see which of those actually leads to the truth. But right now, isolated data points and a lot of theories.

CUOMO: Isn't it true that a dramatic turn like the one that is hypothesized could have been done by a pilot just as easily as it could be auto pilot?

HAYDEN: I think that's correct. But again, we don't know. Look, I learned in my old profession in intelligence that there's a difference between a secret which is something you work really hard to discover and is knowable and a mystery. This one may end up being a mystery.

CUOMO: When we think about the idea of terrorism, is there any reason to believe that it's more likely that this was a deliberate act versus a -- what they call a massive decompression event which is a big accident on board?

HAYDEN: Yes. And right now what you need to do is look at the background noise, look at the background chatter. I mean, it's not absolutely conclusive, Chris. But if this were a terrorist event, we would probably be picking up what we in the trade call chatter about it.

Look, after 9/11, the al Qaeda network went crazy with self- congratulatory messages. I'm sure American intelligence is looking for that in terms of known terrorist cells that to the best of my knowledge none of that has known up yet.

CUOMO: Are you aware of this growing speculation in the U.S. intelligence community about what was in the belly of the ship, demands about the cargo manifest, curiosity about whether there was cargo that was improperly stored that may have caused a mass decompression event?

HAYDEN: No, I'm not aware of the specifics having been out of government for about five years. But again, Chris, that's -- like I said earlier, a hypothesis that has to be run to ground. I mean, here's what you do. You line them up hypothesis, you take the data you know and drop that data into each of those hypotheses. And frankly, the one that makes the most sense of the data points you have, well, that's your favorite hypothesis at least for that moment.

CUOMO: Is it fair to dismiss right now the idea that someone flew this plane and landed in the Andaman Islands? I mean, wouldn't we have known that? There's an Indian naval base there. There's very little chance that this was an inside job by the Indians. Wouldn't we know?

HAYDEN: Yes. That seems a bit farfetched. And I fear the worst is true, that the people on board are already dead. But again, you have to follow these things to their logical conclusion. Look at this, explore it, but it seems very, very unlikely.

CUOMO: Do we know anything about Malaysian Airlines, with the practice in that part of the world in terms of whether they manifest cargo and whether they protect and store hazmat in their cargo the way we do here? Or is there any speculation there?

HAYDEN: Frankly, I don't know. But I watched your earlier piece here commenting on how the Malaysians are actually handling this. And they seem to be, I think fair to say, a bit overwhelmed by all of this.

And you know when you come right down to it, Chris, an awful lot of things in life are best explained by incompetence rather than malice and so we could have a systemic problem here in terms of how some of these gears is handled.

CUOMO: OK. So let's take a turn from -- that's a perfect segue from the idea of mistake versus malice. Now let's talk about that in the context of the allegations of Senator Feinstein about the CIA spying on the Senate. A little bit of a loaded question.

But do you believe that you can say with any confidence that there's no chance that the CIA was spying on members of the Senate? HAYDEN: Well, I mean, there is a chance that CIA looked after the fact, well, after the fact, at the data logs of computers that were used by Senate intel committee staffers and contractors. I think the agency has already admitted that.

Now if you want to call that spying on the Senate, I think that's a bit of a reach. But I think Senator Chambliss had this about right. Let's let all of the facts come out before we rush to judgment here.

CUOMO: What this does is it fuels concerns about whether we know enough about what the agency does. And for all of the respect of balancing the need for secrecy because we live in a more dangerous world than ever, we can't just have a rogue agency involved.

Is that fair concern?

HAYDEN: No, no. Absolutely fair concern. And there should be no secrecy between the agency and it's congressional overseers. I mean, the law is quite clear that Congress has to be kept fully and currently informed about all significant intelligence activities.

Chris, I don't think that's the issue here. The issue here is over the content of the Senate report prepared by Senate Democratic staffers and contractors over the CIA interrogation program. I think the agency's issue isn't that it's sensitive, isn't that it's secret, even isn't -- that it's embarrassing. I think the agency's issue is they think it's wrong.

CUOMO: And at the end of the day, you think the facts will show it wasn't spying, it's something short of that?

HAYDEN: It will be something well short of that. Now look, honest people may still object to what the agency did or didn't do. But I think we're being overly dramatic right now.

CUOMO: All right. Well, we don't want to do that.

Mr. Hayden, thank you very much. Appreciate the perspective on NEW DAY.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: All right, Chris, next up on NEW DAY, we have been telling you about our breaking news, the report that missing Flight 370 flew deliberately toward the Indian Ocean.

We're going to speak live with someone who lives on the very island that we're talking about, the Andaman Islands there in the Indian Ocean.

Also late-breaking developments in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. We're going to go live to the courthouse in South Africa where there are serious questions being raised about the way the evidence was handled at the crime scene on the morning that Reeva Steenkamp was killed.


PEREIRA: All right. Welcome back to NEW DAY. We'll of course bring you the latest on the disappearance of Flight 370 in moments. But we are looking at your other top stories including the legal drama that's unfolding in South Africa. The Oscar Pistorius murder trial is now in its tenth day. This morning we're hearing about bungled aspects of the investigation.

We've also seen a picture of Pistorius himself, shirtless. His shorts covered in blood the night he shot and killed his girlfriend.

International correspondent Robyn Curnow is at the courthouse in Pretoria with the very latest for us -- Robyn.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Well, day 10 has all been about blood and bungling. Take a look at this.


CURNOW (voice-over): The second week of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial ending with a bombshell confession by former police district commander G.S. Van Rensburg.

GEN. GS VAN RENSBURG, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE OFFICER: When I heard that the firearm has been cocked, the ballistic expert was having the firearm in his hand without gloves.

CURNOW: But Rensburg who was present shortly after Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, revealing his investigation unit mishandled evidence. The Olympian's 9 millimeter handled without gloves by ballistics expert.

VAN RENSBURG: I ask him, what are you doing? And in return he said to me, and he was looking, and then he realized there was no hand gloves on him.

CURNOW: And a watch worth thousands of dollars went missing from this box, only after forensic experts and officers investigated the crime scene.

VAN RENSBURG: I said I can't believe it. We were just there. How can this watch be gone?

CURNOW: The defense grilling Van Rensburg on the importance of telling the truth.

BARRY ROUX, DEFENSE LAWYER: Of course you know as the commanding officer -- when you make a statement, you tell the truth in a statement.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over the past two days, the former commander recounted the moment he arrived at the crime scene in vivid detail. GEN. GS VAN RENSBURG, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE OFFICER: I ask him what happened, but he didn't answer me. He was in tears, and as I said, he was emotional.

CURNOW: More than 100 graphic photos were shown taken by the investigators. The Olympian photographed shortly from coveted (ph) blood in his garage soon after he shot Steenkamp dead. In court, Pistorius (INAUDIBLE) in hands.


CURNOW (on-camera): Well, the defense continues to try and discredit the police's version of events. They're also questioning just how peculiar the crime scene is. This is all about the credibility of this investigation. Back to you.

PEREIRA: All right. Robyn Curnow in South Africa. Thanks so much for that.

Next up on NEW DAY, we're going to have much more for you on the missing Malaysian airlines jet. We're following the breaking report that the plane was flown directly toward a group of islands in the Indian Ocean. When we come back, we're going to take you live to the Andaman Islands to talk to someone who lives on that very island.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We are following break news. Reuters is reporting that missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 was flying deliberately toward the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean before it vanished. Malaysian officials have not been able to confirm this, but CNN is trying to be everywhere this story is. So, we will be the first to take you to the Andaman Islands. Joining us by phone is Dennis Giles. He's editor of the "Andaman Chronicle." Can you hear us?


CUOMO: The speculation is that the airplane may have been flying toward your home and that there is a possibility it could have landed there. We know that there's an Indian naval base. We know that they have an airstrip. We know there are other airstrips on the island. Do you know anything about the possibility that a big plane, a 777, landed anywhere near where you live?

GILES: There is no chance -- no fat chance that any aircraft of this size can come to us on Andaman and Nicobar Islands and land in any island. As of now, there are four airstrips and all of them are owned by the Andaman and Nicobar command, which is India's only unified command. There are -- but there are speculations that the plane might have come to us, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The chances are, apart from these four airstrips, it cannot land in any other island. And if -- and with the kind of surveillance, regular and 24-hour surveillance done by Andaman and Nicobar command, there are no chances that such a big aircraft coming towards Andaman can be missed.

CUOMO: OK. So, Mr. Giles, let me repeat what you're saying just so we're clear. You're saying you've heard nothing about this and you would know because there are only a few airstrips, they are under mostly Indian naval command. So, it would be immediately discovered if a plane of this size were to land there. You've heard nothing like that.

Have you heard any reports of people who frequent the surrounding waters that they've seen anything unusual or there's any reason to believe something may have hit the water?

GILES: If you try to understand the Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands, there are around 572 islands. And out of that, around 36 islands are inhabited. The remaining, it's all isolated island. So, the monitoring is done by the Andaman and Nicobar command. I would like to correct you. It is not the naval command.

It is a flight command or a unified command under which the air force, navy and army come under a single command. And this also includes the --


GILES: All the vectors comes under a single command headed by the commander in chief.

CUOMO: Good. That's very helpful, Mr. Giles, so that including the coast guard, there's one single command over the 570 some-odd Andaman Islands, 36 of which are inhabited. So, there's a lot of empty space there to follow, but you would know because there's one command and there is no report of anything in surrounding waters. There is no report of anything landing on the island.

Dennis Giles, thank you very much. We appreciate the information, because it's just as important to find out what is not true as what is true as we continue the search for this plane. Thank you for joining us on NEW DAY.

All right. So, we have his perspective from there. Look, it's important to do this. We're lucky at CNN we have the resources to get ourselves to the story in a situation like this. So, you just heard it. The man controls the local paper there. He's a reliable source. Only 36 of these 570 islands are inhabited. So, there's a little bit of gray area, but he says there's one command. They're only a few airstrips.

They would know if the plane had landed. They would know if something had hit the surrounding waters. He says he has heard nothing like that.

PEREIRA: But it doesn't mean the plane wasn't headed in that direction.

CUOMO: Absolutely true.

PEREIRA: So, that's still a big question.

CUOMO: Absolutely true.

All right. Let's take a break here on NEW DAY. As we come back, new questions. What does this new report about flight 370 heading toward islands in the Indian Ocean mean? You just heard our interview with someone on the islands. So, what's next? We're covering the investigation from every angle. We have our experts back.

PEREIRA: And of course, the agonizing wait for the families of the people on board. It has been a week. A whole lot of speculation. No answers. We're going to focus on the families just ahead.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Friday, March 14th.

We have break developments on the search for Malaysia flight 370. There is new evidence that points to a deliberate attempt to fly the plane toward a remote island chain in the Indian Ocean. Reuters is saying that they have radar data suggesting the plane flew a direct route toward the Andaman Islands. That's a few hundred miles northwest of the plane's last known location.

Now, moments ago, NEW DAY spoke with a journalist from the island who says there's quote, "no chance the plane landed there." That doesn't mean, as, Mich, you pointed out, that it wasn't flying in that direction. It doesn't mean that it was on auto pilot versus someone manually flying.

PEREIRA: Exactly. Now, all of this comes after U.S. officials confirmed to CNN that signals from the plane were transmitted to satellite hours after the last contact. Now, given how long those signals lasted, the plane could have flown up to 2,800 miles off course. One official says there's, quote, "a significant likelihood that the plane is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean." U.S. officials are now moving the "USS Kidd" there to help in the search.

Also this morning, reports out of China about seismic activity on the sea floor hours after the plane went missing.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, on top of all that, we're hearing reports this morning that key on board systems were shut down at separate times. The data reporting system was apparently turned off 14 minutes before the transponder which shows location and altitude. Now, some people speculate in the separate times indicate they were turned off on purpose, perhaps, not because of a technical failure on that plane.

CUOMO: theories flying left and right. Lots to dissect this morning. Let's get straight to Jim Clancy. He's in Kuala Lumpur with the very latest -- Jim. JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We just had a press conference. Not a lot of new information coming out of that one. They did talk a little bit about that turn back, when the plane changed course. The transponder quit working. Then, what we saw was a change in course. We were told by Malaysian military sources here that the plane was quite erratic as it began that new bearing.

And then, it's tended to fly just straight on into the Indian Ocean region. We're looking at the possibility that it may have gone four, five hours as much as 2,500 miles. Right now, the Indians are telling us the search area they're looking at in that area is 17,000 square nautical miles. When we look at that, that is a huge search area.

You've got U.S. warships, the "USS Kidd" on the way out there. You have Indian naval ships as well as airplanes from both the U.S. and India. But it's a terrific job that is in front of them. No new news on any other front right now -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: Yes. And given the fact that, so far, into this disaster. Normally, you're narrowing in on a search area. That's not the case here. It is widening. Jim Clancy, thank you so much for that.

So, meanwhile, what does the U.S. intelligence community have to say about all this? Let's bring back CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Michaela. Why is the search widening? There is some specific information.