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Pinger Locator Headed for Search Location; Assessing U.S. Role in Plane Search; New Version of Plane's Transcript Raises Questions about Investigation

Aired April 1, 2014 - 06:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It a half past the hour on NEW DAY. Take a look at your headlines right now, starting with breaking news. New numbers on just how many people sign up for Obamacare. CNN's Jim Acosta has learned that government officials expect to meet the target for enrollment of 7 million, far more than they thought would have even been possible a few weeks ago. Open enrollment for Obamacare officially closed at midnight.

Happening now near Washington D.C., a huge fire in an apartment complex under construction in Gaithersburg, Maryland. So far, no reports of injuries -- injuries, rather. But the building has been completely gutted. We're told it is still burning at this hour.

The FBI and the Justice Department are investigating whether high- frequency trading firms are rigging the U.S. stock market. For more than a year, CNN sources say federal agents have been looking into high-speed trading firms' activities, including whether they're taking advantage of information before it becomes public in order to gain an edge over competitors.

Medicare doctors breathing a sigh of relief. The Senate has voted to delay a scheduled 24-percent cut to their reimbursements. The $21 billion measure passed the House last week. It is the 17th temporary patch to a broken Medicare payment system. It will stave off the cuts for a year. President Obama is expected to sign that bill quickly.

Those are your headlines at this hour. Chris, over to you.

CHRI CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Mick, thank you very much.

Let's go back to our breaking developments in the search for Flight 370. The latest is this. A transcript of the final communication obtained by CNN shows something different than what we had been told before. Essentially, it's about the final words where they say, "Good night. Malaysian 3-7-0." That is different than what authorities had released previously. And that is what we're following on one side.

But on the other side, it's about the search. Back on today, much of it by air, but the search for the data recorders is largely by sea. Now that includes an Australian ship with a pinger locater from the U.S. Navy, which is the best hope of locating the black box before it is too late. Let's bring in Will Ripley. He's off the coast of Fremantle, Australia -- Will. WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, now the Ocean Shield is one day into its three-day journey to the search area in the Indian Ocean. And at this hour, the Australian defense force tells us the ship is running into some very rough weather.

We traveled just 12 miles off Fremantle, Australia to try to get a sense of what it's like out at the seas, and this was a calm day where our boat was thrown around violently. We had to hold onto the side just to be able to stand up. The wave looked pretty big to us.

But the captain says those were tiny compared to the waves the search ships are encountering right now, waves that can be as higher than several-story buildings, with winds and driving rain and almost zero visibility. So definitely dangerous and challenging conditions in the search zone. The big challenge for the Ocean Shield will be, once they arrive, beginning to put the high technology on the ship to good use, considering the search area is so big, but this technology a much smaller area to be able to effectively locate any jetliner debris -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: So they still need to narrow that down before they can get that very important technology into the water and put it to good use. Will Ripley, great reporting. Thanks so much, Will.

Meantime, the Malaysian transport minister is in Hawaii right now for meetings with several countries, including the United States. He's expected to ask U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for more assets to aid in the search. So what could the U.S. provide that it hasn't already?

Let's bring in Barbara Starr, who's live at the Pentagon -- the Pentagon for us. Barbara, what are they looking for that we haven't already offered up?

BARBARA STAR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the big question right now, Kate, I have to tell you. The Malaysian minister says he will meet with Chuck Hagel, the U.S. defense secretary, of course, in Hawaii. Everyone is there for a regional Asian ministers meeting. And he said yesterday in Kuala Lumpur that he wants to talk to Hagel about additional specific U.S. military assets that could be used if the operation becomes more complex. We talked about deep sea search and recovery.

Hagel's response, when he had a press conference here at the Pentagon later in the day, was "Of course, I'll listen to the minister. We'll talk about it. We'll do what they can."

But the question is what else could the U.S. send right now? It has that pinger locator out there. It has an undersea remote-piloted vehicle, essentially a small undersea drone that can map the sea floor and look for debris. But the key challenge, as we've all been discussing, remains the same. They have got to find some debris so they know where to look under the sea -- Kate, Chris.

BOLDUAN: Right now, it seems to me not a technological problem of assets. It seems to be a data issue, of actually narrowing down the search field.

Barbara, thank you very much. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us.

CUOMO: For the scrutiny of the investigation, which seems to be ramping it, and justifiably so, it is amazing how many objectively difficult factors and challenges, as you know, much better than I do, they face in this search.

BOLDUAN: It's amazing. I mean, we were doing a calculation this morning. The search area is some nine times larger for MH-370 than it was for the Air France flight. And that's just one bit of perspective to show what they're dealing with.

CUOMO: It's bigger, it's deeper, the weather's bad, and they don't have any of the information they had. So we'll keep following it, but again, you've got to keep your expectations in check.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the search for Flight 370 has not been the Malaysian government's finest moment. We all know that. The question is, what does the new information in these transcripts mean for how the investigation is perceived, especially by the families? We'll take you through it.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We now have the transcript of what pilots told air traffic controllers from the cockpit of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. What matters here is that the final words were not "All right, good night," but "Good night. Malaysian 3-7-0." Is that a big difference? Probably not. But it is a big difference in terms of how you may perceive the job investigators are doing.

For a take on that, let's bring in Tom Fuentes, CNN law-enforcement analyst, former FBI assistant director, and Mr. Jeff Wise, CNN aviation analyst and contributor to "Slate."

Jeff, we'll start with you. The contention would be when I hear these words, I don't think it's a meaningful distinction in terms of protocol or in terms of expressing the intention of the cockpit. But it does go to how are you doing your job as investigators. Fair criticism?

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, you know, it's hard to know what's going on. All we can see is the output of this process. And it's hard to understand something as simple as this, and they must have had this complete transcript from the get-go, why they would release something inaccurately and then revise it now. It's hard to fathom, and it certainly doesn't instill confidence. We've had a lot of cases of information being released or leaking out, and then it gets revised later on. It doesn't inspire confidence.

CUOMO: And Tom, it's also an issue of your confidence getting out in front of your competence. You get the transcript wrong. You then say you're not sure who's saying what in the cockpit, and yet, you deem the left turn, the infamous left turn as a criminal act and say you still believe strongly this was about human error and somebody doing something wrong. Where does their confidence come from when they didn't have the transcript right?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW-ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's true, Chris. I mean, they have created this ball of confusion from day one, you know, by not releasing proper information early enough. And then when they release information on a more timely basis, then they revise it every other day or three weeks later, in this case. And it does, it instills a lack of confidence, deservedly so, when they do this.

But I think a big part of this is just their really terrible media management. The way that they're conveying the results of this or the progress of the investigation has been really everything you should not do in a crisis management situation.

CUOMO: And I'll tell you, Tom, let's stay with you for a second. That could even be an apologist perspective, because while they may not be handling the message well, the question is what about the information behind the message? If it's true that they're not sharing data, that you have these Inmarsat people, you know, part of the alphabet soup of this situation here, saying, "Give us raw data. Give it to us. Let us analyze it," and they're not getting it. Then that's not about media management. That's about disclosure of information which is going to affect the timing of this investigation, isn't it?

FUENTES: Well, that's true, too. And, you know, the big part of that is, how are they conducting all of the -- the aviation, let's say, aspects of the investigation? I know the criminal part of the investigation has been ongoing since day one when the plane disappeared. They've changed the way they've described it, but the actual fact of the investigation has been ongoing.

But you're right: On the aviation side, when have the technicians been allowed to look at the data? When have they not? Who's looking at it? How much coordination is there? And, you know, that's a whole different story. And you're right: that may be also completely mismanaged. We're not sure, because of the lack of transparency, the lack of explanation. You don't really know what they're doing for sure, and people are guessing or relying on sources or dribs and drabs of information coming out.

And so you're right: the investigation itself could be mishandled at the aviation level, as well as any other level. You just don't know what to have confidence in terms of how this is being handled.

CUOMO: I'll tell you who deserves, Jeff, an apology are the families. In the beginning, me included, I was kind of writing them off as being hyper-emotional, as they should be in this situation. They're pushing for answers; the answers just aren't there. It's difficult for them.

But now the more we learn about the investigation and that there are two sets of data that they're having two different teams work on, it's causing delays, objectively, the families are now forced to bring out what they believe to be their own path. Their anxiety seems to be warranted, no?

WISE: Well, I can't think of anything worse, really, than being told that your loved ones are dead, definitely, there's no hope, get on with your lives, and then to have the Malaysians walk back from that. To say, well, no, actually, there's a little bit of hope.

And why are we being told this? We don't have any bodies or any wreckage.

"Oh, it's because of this mathematical model."

Well, what is the mathematical model?

"We can't tell you."

What is the data it's based on?"

"We can't tell you." It just seems to me unnecessarily cruel.

CUOMO: And we won't tell you. It's not we can't tell you, like we don't know; someone else is doing it. It's we won't.

Now, that leads us to something that is not about the Malaysians but is about this overall situation, which could be adding to the anxiety, certainly the delay. Disclosure by all parties involved. And I want both your take on this, as we end here.

It is so difficult for so many to accept the notion that, in today's surveillance society, with all the snoopy sovereigns, as we've been calling them, nobody saw this plane. Diego Garcia is a name that's great to say, but it is haunting. This huge U.S. outpost of intelligence sophistication that's in the region. How could nobody have seen this plane? Aren't you a little bit suspicious about that, about whether anybody saw it? Or I could say, didn't, how not? If they did, why aren't they saying it? A little bit?

WISE: Well, remember how Thailand came out with its radar data very late? They had the information. They said, "Nobody asked us." And then Indonesia, if it went south, it must have crossed over Indonesia. There's a big Indonesian radar installation right there.

CUOMO: India is so paranoid about Pakistan, it comes basically right down their coastline, you know, if the assumptions are correct. Tom, Diego Garcia is not a new name to you. It started as a logistics outpost, but now it's this much-celebrated, highly-funded surveillance outpost in that area. Could it be that there was information that people aren't sharing, because they don't want to let their capabilities be known?

FUENTES: I think it's possible. You know, we don't know what the range is on their over-the-horizon radar systems at Diego Garcia. We know that it's a huge base and we launch bombers from there to go halfway around the world on military missions. But, you know, whether their radars had something or not or whether -- and even if they did, why that would be withheld by the United States, I just don't know. I don't understand that.

Especially because the United States does not withhold anything from Australia and New Zealand. They're part of what's called the Five Eyes of completely trusted partners, which also includes Canada and the U.K. But Australia and the U.S. exchange everything. So the idea that somehow the U.S. would have information from that based and not share it with the Australians, I can't imagine that.

CUOMO: There's just so many competing interesting. I mean, you know, we'll leave it on that.

Tom Fuentes, thank you very much.

Jeff Wise, thank you.

But you know, we talk about trusted partners. Germany was a very trusted partner, too, and then we find out they're tapping the cell phone of the prime minister there. So you never really know what's going on. It is one of the confusions that creates anxieties for the family here. Are they getting all the information they could?

Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, it's been a search full of hopes, optimism and continued -- continually, we're hitting dead ends. Will Flight 370 ever be found? We're going to talk to an expert on ocean searches for her perspective.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

It took 25 days, but we now know just what the pilots on Flight 370 said to air traffic controllers. CNN obtained a transcript of their communications, including their final words, which we now know are different, which are "Good night. Malaysian 3-7-0," not what was previously said to have been, "All right, good night."

But there is no sign yet of any confirmed debris from the Boeing triple-7 and reports that a lack of coordination led crews to look in the wrong area for days.

Let's talk about this ocean search and where it leads. Colleen Keller is here with me. She's a senior analyst at Metron Inc. and a former operation research analyst for the U.S. Navy. And she was involved in the search for Air France Flight 447. Important, because it offers some very important perspective on where we are today.

Let's use some of our important animation to first look at the truly unprecedented international effort, assets and countries that have come into play. We've this on a day-to-day basis, Colleen, but it's important. We have ten military planes working today, nine ships, and seven countries coordinating. It does make you wonder how do you make it all work, how do you effectively coordinate all these nations all these countries to cover such a vast search area effectively? COLLEEN KELLER, EXPERT IN OCEAN SEARCHES: It's not an easy task, but the Australians are doing a pretty good job from what we can tell right now. You use the ships to stay in a general area, because they don't move very fast. The aircraft are doing more wide area searches.

BOLDUAN: They more cover the whole area and the ships just kind of try to stay in the zone that they think they're -- the best guesstimate they have.

KELLER: If you think about it, the ships are there to pick up wreckage. They don't have a very big scan area. But the aircraft can cover vast areas, and they can move quickly. So they try to use the aircraft to go far-flung, and then the ships delocalize where they think they're going to pick up wreckage.

And in terms of the aircraft, they try to consider how fast the aircraft go and how long they can stay on station and what sensors they use. So maybe a slower aircraft, they might put in the area closer to port so it doesn't have to -- you know, so it doesn't have to go out so far, and then the ones that can move faster, maybe the P- 8 is a little faster, it can go out to the farther areas and cover more ground than that farther area.

BOLDUAN: And when you look at we're now 25 days in, and you look at all of the assets and all the countries that are putting all this energy and resources in this search, at what point, from your expertise, in your knowledge, your perspective, do you think they decide that they can't sustain and they do start pulling back?

KELLER: Well, that's a very difficult question, and typically what they do is they cover the whole area to a certain level of probability of success of the search. It's actually a term that we use in math to dictate when you would stop. You know, you get to 50, 60 percent coverage and it's like, well, we've done a really good job here. We haven't seen anything. We're getting diminishing returns on every additional sortie that we fly out there, so it's probably time to quit. And then they would go back out if they'd had any new information.

Here, we haven't had any new information in a while, and the area is so big, we'll never achieve that probability of success. So it's really a question of just how much will they have and how much money they have to continue.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you another question. But I also want to throw up another animation that we have of just how much the search area has moved since the beginning of this.

There we have the white. That's where it really began. Then it shifted over a bit, and now we have the red search zone. To -- I would say the untrained eye, that seems like it shifted quite a lot. Does that concern you or is that common in a search such as this?

KELLER: It does concern me a bit. It tells me -- we call that the kid playing soccer thing, where the kids are just running around after the ball and there's no strategy. BOLDUAN: Not what you want to hear.

KELLER: Yes, unfortunately. I mean, they're trying to be desperate to find something. So we understand that. But a methodical search will take all the evidence you've got and just methodically cross off the areas until you've really checked everything you can.

BOLDUAN: And wars raised today, again, the transport minister from Malaysia said that he wanted to -- they were going to request from the United States more assets, specifically looking at deep-sea search and recovery. From your expertise and you look at the search zone that we still are working with here in such a vast area, does that -- what do you think the U.S. hasn't offered that they could now? Is there something missing out there?

KELLER: Well, we only have one Bluefin-21 unmanned underwater vehicle in theater, and we had several on the Air France search. And I know there's more in the U.S. and around the world. So we could additionally bring more submersibles in. If it's going to transition to an underwater search, there are more assets that we could bring in. There's also another towed pinger locator. We only have one in theater. I'm not really sure why we don't have two. Although it doesn't look like we're going to get a chance to use them.

BOLDUAN: It doesn't seem it. They need to know where to put it in.

KELLER: Right.

BOLDUAN: Because they get put in even once.

KELLER: All of this stuff, they need to know where to put it in. But it sounds like they're intending to go underwater, whether or not they find any debris, which is going to be a very daunting search.

BOLDUAN: Maybe where that kid's soccer analogy comes into play once again.

Colleen, stick with us. We're going to have you back in the show. I want to talk -- we're going to compare in our next segment that we do the search areas between the Air France flight search area and the search area for Malaysia Flight 370. It just shows what huge challenges they're facing. Want to get your take on how to tackle that. We'll have much more on that, Colleen. Thanks so much -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. We will do that indeed. We're covering a lot of news this morning, including more on the search for Flight 370 and that massive GM recall. Let's get to it.


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The final transmission comes at 1:19 and 29 seconds, "Good night, Malaysian 3-7-0."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The search and recovery operation is probably the most challenging one I have ever seen. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obamacare open enrollment officially over. Many running into some technical glitches.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is a technical problem that the tech team is on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: GM now admits problems in its key ignition, nearly a decade before this recall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of hard to believe those kinds of things.


CUOMO: Good morning to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. You are watching NEW DAY this Tuesday, April 1st. Now 7 a.m. in the East this morning.

It is not debris but documents making news in the search for Flight 370. The transcript of the final words from the cockpit contradict what we were told weeks ago. Officials now cannot even be sure who said the words that were said, but still insist that the jet's unexpected left turn was deliberate. Let's get the very latest from Jim Clancy, who obtained the new transcript. He's in Kuala Lumpur -- Jim.

CLANCY: Well, you know, as you said, Chris, they've made this public. And what it really shows, more than anything else, is that this was an entirely normal dialogue between the control tower and the pilots inside the cockpit of Flight 370.

It started at about 12:27 in the morning. A voice in the cockpit saying, "Ground M-A-S 3-7-0. Good morning, Charlie 1. Requesting push and start."

By 1 a.m. in the morning, the plane is aloft, and the cockpit of Flight 370 says, "Malaysian 3-7-0 maintaining level 3-5-0," meaning 35,000 feet.

And then that final transmission, not "All right, good night," but this, at 1:19 and 29 seconds in the morning, "Good night. Malaysian 3-7-0."

And there we have it laid out. There was confusion over what was said. Officials even confirmed that it was, "All right, good night." But now we have the transcript in our hand. One of -- one of the small bits of evidence, hard evidence that there really is in this entire mystery -- Chris.

CUOMO: Well, Jim, information has been hard to come by. And then every time we get it, it seems to contradict what we learned before. Thank you for that.

Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Now let's continue the discussion. Jim, where you left off. We're joined now by David Soucie, a CNN safety analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash." He's a former FAA inspector.