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Search Continues for Missing Malaysian Plane; Vice President Visits Ukraine; Miracle Teen Survives Five-Hour Flight in Wheel Well

Aired April 22, 2014 - 07:00   ET


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the families, some families from today will have the information that they've been dreading, but it will help give them closure. Many more families, of course, waiting uncertain about what's happening. We have heard from some of the crew members today, four of them in court, facing possible charges, arrested, saying that the ship had been listing, that they had a problem with trying to right it, that it was a historic problem with this ship, but also saying when they went to try to get to the -- went to try to get to the life rafts, they weren't able to reach them to deploy them. These details fresh today. Back to you, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That's interesting about a history on this ship of problems with is navigation. Nic, thank you very much for that. We'll follow up on that.

Meanwhile, tropical cyclone Jack is forcing authorities to call off the air search for 370 overnight. But the underwater search is still on going, and the Bluefin-21 is on its tenth mission with concerns that the hunt for the plane may be heading back to square one. Erin McLaughlin is in Perth with more. Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, that aerial search may have been suspended today but by the time they made that decision, four military planes were already in the air facing difficult, possibly hazardous conditions, conditions that didn't seem to have effect on the Bluefin-21, now, as far as we know, still under the water on that tenth mission. As of yesterday, it had searched about two-thirds of the very critical area, the areas designated as the most likely place that they will find the black box based on a limited set of information that they have.

But with most of that area now ruled out, officials beginning to ask, what next? There's been talk of a broadening of a search area introducing perhaps more underwater submersibles. A spokesperson for the U.S. Navy telling CNN that the key stakeholders are at the early stages of these discussions and they're planning for as far out as July. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Erin, thank you very much for that from Perth, Australia.

Let's bring in our aviation experts to discuss the developments, Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the Department of Transportation. She has also represented families and victims after airplane disasters. And also Miles O'Brien, CNN aviation analyst and a science correspondent for PBS. Good morning to both of you.

Let's start right where Erin McLaughlin left off in Perth, Australia, Miles. The U.S. Navy telling CNN that they are now in the early stages of talking about now how to proceed with the search on a long- term basis, planning as far out as July. What could those plans include, do you believe?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, more underwater searching. The problem is that it's a big ocean. It's deep ocean. And the Bluefin is right at the edge of its capability. It's done a fair amount of searching. There's still more to do. And it's not exactly specifically clear where those pingers might be. They've heard them. They think here in the right area. There's still a lot more to go. I think the level of patience that we all need and the families especially, it's a big challenge at this point, put it that way.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And patience is an important thing to note, Miles. They said, Miles, that there are two thirds of the specific search area has now been covered. Do you think that confidence is we waning on parts of the investigators and search crews or more pressure from the outside to look for what's next if this isn't it?

O'BRIEN: Oh, I think the people on the water as it were have a different kind of time frame than we all do. I think the amount of pressure that is here, and understandably given what has happened, doesn't jibe well with the reality. When you think about what happened with Air France and a two-year search, which actually only amounted to about 10 weeks of actual searching, I think that people have to readjust their expectations here. And that's a terribly difficult thing to say to families who have so many unanswered questions, a whole list of them, as a matter of fact.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about kind of -- about the families, Mary, but to -- button up the point Miles is thinking, what should the expectations be at this point? Let's see if this search area doesn't pan out, they cover it all, this is the area they've put so much confidence in. They put everything they had in it. They don't find it. What's the impact of that? What should the expectation be?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, the expectation, and this is based on other accidents and other sea searches for other wreckage, is that it's months. It's a months-long process. Probably a similar situation with the crash of Adam Air in the java sea. It crashed in January, and it was August before they were able to get the black boxes. They couldn't find any wreckage at first. They had to give rewards for people to turn in wreckage, and that was a much smaller search area.

So I think that the authorities, you know, a lot of times they make statements just trying to get through the moment. I think they realize that they're in for a very long haul and the families are being more than patient but a little question answering would help. If the Malaysians would tell them the answers to the simple questions they've asked it would go a long way in helping them deal with this. BOLDUAN: On a topic specifically, one thing has come up in a recent press briefing that I just have to ask you about. There is now a discussion on some level of the and when they should issue and on what timeline death certificates and kind of approach that topic with the families of the passengers. Clearly, a complex issue, and that saying nothing about the emotional toll that will have on the families. What are the considerations, what should be the considerations of that?

SCHIAVO: Well, we face this also in the post 9/11 attacks in the United States because there were many families, and I know some, who did not get any remains for years and some never did. It was a very decision to decide when to issue the death certificates.

But the death certificates are very key to a lot of the next steps. You have to have them for various insurance policies. By the way, the airline is insured not only for its liability, for things it did wrong to take care of the passengers, but it has its own policy to cover it for terrorism, sabotage, criminal acts against it. And it all knows the ability to pay benefits is often triggered by the death certificate. So people should look at it as a formality that they have to have to get the benefits. But the search won't stop because they issue those. In fact, it will go on just as rigorously as before. But that's something that has to be done to trigger some benefits for the families.

BOLDUAN: That's an interesting clarification, Mary, that I didn't know before. Miles, I want to get your final take. You said that asking for patience from the families is about the hardest thing to do. I think we can all agree on that. But the families have put out this list of questions that have ranged from the very simple to the very technical. What do you -- what kind of information do you think families are entitled to?

O'BRIEN: Well, it's interesting the list almost matches what I'm interested in finding out. You know, there are two things to think about here. You have a criminal investigation. I think we can all agree sensitive material that relates to any sort of criminal activity that might be involved in this flight probably needs to be kept secret. But there's a whole body of information which can be released which is not going to change or affect a criminal investigation, simple things like air traffic control tapes, transcripts, what was said between Ho Chi Minh City Center and the crew, the maintenance records of the aircraft. These are things that are not going to effect the criminal investigation one way or the other. And it really would go a long way for the families specifically giving them answers, but also as a show of good faith from the Malaysian officials that they care about their needs at this point, because there's still a huge emotional issues here.

BOLDUAN: It seems -- that relationship seems to be getting worse and worse as every day passes. Miles, Mary, thank you very, very much. Chris?

CUOMO: Kate, right now Vice President Joe Biden is in Kiev meeting with Ukraine's president. They just finished a press conference there. This is of course a high-profile show of U.S. support. This as the interim government is struggling to hold on to eastern part of that country. They're having a big problem there.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We, the United States, stand with you and all the Ukrainian people on Ukraine united. And I'll say at the top, we do not recognize -- we do not recognize Russia's actions in Crimea.


CUOMO: A big part of the struggle is who is telling the truth. And on that score, Ukraine's government says it has proof Moscow's special military forces are operating inside the country. For more on this let's get to CNN's Arwa Damon. Sh'es live in Donetsk with more. Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. And we're in front of the Donetsk city hall occupied by those pro- Russian protesters, flying the Russian flag. No question here whatsoever where people's loyalties lie, which country they would whether be associated with. But this is one of the many reasons why Ukrainian authorities believe that Russia is trying to lay down the framework for a Crimea-like annexation of eastern Ukraine, and, they say, they have mounting evidence.


DAMON: Today Vice President Joe Biden extending aid to Ukraine's government.

BIDEN: We, the United States, stand with you and all the Ukrainian people on a Ukraine united. And I'll say at the top, we do not recognize -- we do not recognize Russia's actions in the Crimea.

DAMON: A strong vote of support amid a country divided. Tensions rising overnight as residents of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk told CNN. Armed militants seized the police station. This amateur video that CNN cannot authenticate, shows masked armed men on the rooftop after seizing another building in the town, the episode erupting in the wake of photos obtained by CNN on Monday showing men in green uniforms, supposedly operating in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials claim they prove organized Russian activity in the region.

This bearded man is said to have been photographed in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, but the Ukrainians say he was also working for the Russians in 2008 in the Republic of Georgia, wearing an elite Russian special forces patch. The photo's part of a dossier compiled by the Ukrainian government and endorsed by the U.S. CNN encountered the bearded man more than a week ago but can't confirm the authenticity of the images. Some are poor quality.

The Ukrainians say the Russian involvement in the east is widespread, but CNN has not seen any evidence that these men are operating under orders from the Kremlin.

(END VIDEOTAPE) And at the same time, Michaela, the Russian foreign minister himself have scoffed at the various allegations and pro-Russian protest leaders throughout eastern Ukraine have told us there are no active duty military Russian soldiers on the ground here.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Arwa Damon in Ukraine. Thank you so much for that.

Let's look at the rest of your headlines at this hour. Breaking news, a French news agency is reporting Sherpas on Mount Everest is cancelling the rest of the climbing season in the aftermath of the deadly avalanche Friday. At least 13 guides were killed. Three people are still missing. Without Sherpa support, climbs to the top of Everest are nearly impossible. Meantime, CNN has just obtained new video of that avalanche. Look at this. Climbers and guides were setting up ropes for the route when suddenly a big piece of ice came off the mountain. This was the single deadliest accident on Mount Everest in its history.

As we mentioned, President Obama is flying to Asia later today. He is set to meet with leaders in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines to show commitment to regional allies. The trip was slated for last October but delayed because of the government shutdown. Before his arrival the president will stop in Washington state and meet with victims' families from last month's mudslide.

The Obama administration must release key portions of a top secret memo justifying the use of drones to kill American citizens abroad. Federal appeals panel issued the ruling Monday in connection with the freedom of information request about the death of Anwar al Awlaki, an American citizen and suspected Al Qaeda terrorist killed in Yemen in 2011. It's unclear when the memo would be made public.

A new twist in the issue of student loan debt, a report says graduates are going into default when their co-signers of private student loans -- for private student loans die or file for bankruptcy. Many times a parent or a grandparent has their name on the loan, and when they pass away or run into some sort of financial burden, the student borrowers are then getting called to pay the loans in full. Consumer officials say borrowers should ask their lenders to release the co-signers in those cases. That would be a terrifying piece of news to get.

CUOMO: The reason they have to get the co-signer is because they weren't deemed eligible on their own. You can't discharge student debt in bankruptcy, which is something very frustrating because that's what businesses do. Businesses when they have trouble, they go into bankruptcy, they reorganize, tear up all the contracts they don't want, but education isn't given the same --

BOLDUAN: And we've discussed, the student loan crisis is something that does not get enough attention and there's no quick fix, but there needs to be a fix because it is -- the amount of debt that is crushing students in community college is unbelievable.

CUOMO: And it's a big BS flag to wave with politicians. They are like education is the future. If they don't change how you pay and get to school, and how costs are rising, then they don't mean it.

Coming up on NEW DAY, sure, it's amazing that the teen stowaway survived for hours in the wheel well of a plane, no question. But this isn't not just about his survival. It's also about security. How did the kid get in the wheel well in the first place? We will examine.

BOLDUAN: And we're also going to go INSIDE POLITICS where the White House has again delayed a decision on the oil pipeline that has become quite the political hot potato. Is there a valid reason for the delay, or is it, as Karl Rove has said, a stupid, purely political move?


CUOMO: Welcome back. Doctors call it a miracle. Security personnel call it a major foul-up. That teen stowaway who survived five hours in the wheel well, investigators want to know how he got that close to the plane in the first place.

Joining us now is former Bush Homeland Security advisor and CNN national security analyst, Ms. Fran Townsend.

Fran, they know exactly how he got him. We have video of him jumping over the fence and getting onto the plane. The real question is, why did you let that happen? What's the answer?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the answer is we know exactly how he did it after the fact. And that's the problem you're talking about, right?

So every airport has an outer perimeter, and they have outer perimeter security. But the question is, at this particular airport, can you watch the full perimeter 24 by seven? Usually the answer to that is no, which is why large airports like Newark -- remember, we had that case where a guy jumped over a fence. And what happens is, there's a camera and electronic system. It then feels the sensation on the sense, directs the camera to look at it and directs security people to look.

We don't really understand what happened here. We now know that this young man jumped the fence in the darkness. They have now video of him on the tarmac approaching this plane where he got in the wheel well. But they're going to have to go back and understand what was the outer parameter security at this airport? Why didn't security officials pick it up at the time it happened to prevent this young man from getting inside the plane?

CUOMO: I'm still not getting it. People secure perimeters all the time.


CUOMO: Prisons, businesses. You put cameras up there. You pay someone to watch. And when someone jumps over, you notice.


CUOMO: I mean, this is not a sophisticated situation.

TOWNSEND: It's not.

CUOMO: And it's not the first time it happened, not just the people randomly jumping over the fence, but stowing away.

You know, it's interesting. One of the defense (ph) I'm picking up online is, this, like, never happens. All right, so statistically, according to the FAA, since 1996, there have been 105 stowaways in 94 flights worldwide -- 105, 94 flights worldwide. That's pretty small.

You know what, though? It's a lot more than you've had of 60-year-old ladies that you're making take off their shoes and all their clothes as they go through your scanning devices. Why aren't they paying more attention to this and checking the wheel wells?

TOWNSEND: Well, Chris, it's the right question. I think it's going to get more attention. Though you do have to say, for one, it's a very dangerous thing. Less than 25 percent of those who climbed in those wheel wells have survived to tell the story. So we know, one, this kid is very, very lucky to be alive and may have long-term permanent damage as a result of it.

But this is a solvable problem. That's your point. And why haven't, for the billions of dollars that we've spent on airport security, why haven't we solved it? And it's the right question. You know, I think people would say to you there are easier ways if you're a real bad guy of actually getting into an airport, getting on a plane and actually wreaking havoc. And this is not a method that they've identified as one used by terrorists. And so, I think it's gotten less attention.

CUOMO: Well, that's the frightening part, is that you only recognize things after you get burned by them.

TOWNSEND: That's right.

CUOMO: You know, it's just a silly thing to do. When you've got my 11-year-old getting padded down in an airport. And like, they can't -- the perimeter security, it's too hard to keep them from jumping the fence. What? You can't stop someone from jumping a fence?

TOWNSEND: Well, and because, of course, jumping a fence -- the stowaway in the wheel well is kind of not the real issue, right? I mean, what we ought to be asking the security officials is, well, if a terrorist jumped a fence and planted a bomb in the wheel well and didn't get on it, that's the problem.

Look, they're going to have to go back and do a lessons learned and understand at various airports, at a tier one airport like JFK or a Newark, they do parameter security one way. At smaller airports, they don't have that resource, but they have to understand what they need to do to prevent this problem.

CUOMO: Right. And I do hope -- one of the things they usually do is punish the person who did it to send a message I hope that does not happen this time. This troubled kid. He did something wrong, no question about it. But his intent was clearly just to escape as opposed to do anything malevolent.

Anyway, Fran Townsend, appreciate the perspective, as always.

TOWNSEND: Good to see you.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, Flight 370 families furious again at the Malaysian government after officials canceled a briefing Monday. We're going to be talking with the partner of an American passenger about her frustration and the heartbreak that continues.

Also ahead on Inside Politic, President Obama leaves today for a week long trip to Asia. But before he leaves we're going to see if Americans are feeling any better about the job that he's doing here at home.


PEREIRA: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY. Here's a check of your headlines.

They are still searching for survivors, even as the death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster rises; 108 bodies have now been recovered. Officials say divers can't see their own hands, but they're searching 24 hours a day for the nearly 200 still missing. Seven crew members from the sunken ferry are in custody, including the captain who's facing a series of criminal charges for his role in it.

Meantime, South Korea says it's detected increased activity at North Korea's main nuclear test site. Seoul has stepped up military preparedness in response. The north has already said it wouldn't rule out another nuclear test. The last one was over a year ago.

It has been 46 days now and still no sign of Flight 370. This morning the air search for the missing Malaysian Airlines jet is suspended because of bad weather related to a cyclone in the area. The Bluefin- 21, the unmanned sub, is scouring the ocean floor for the tenth time. So far it has covered nearly two two-thirds of the area where the pinger locators picked up sound from what were thought to be the black boxes.

OK. Got to tell you about Netflix news, friends. Prices are about to go up. The video company says in the coming months subscription plans for new streaming customers will rise $1 to $2 per month. Existing customers, you can calm down, currently paying $7.99. That's going to stay the same for now -- the ominous words, "for now". The streaming service has nearly 36 million subscribers in the U.S. and 48 million worldwide. I wonder if this because of the imminent second season of "Orange is New Black" coming. And I figure more people are going to want to get in and watch the show.

BOLDUAN: Tried this once before. CUOMO: Is that as big an earner for them as the "House of Cards"?

PEREIRA: I don't know. I'm just excited about it.

BOLDUAN: I mean, I think I come from a skewed perspective of the people I hang out with. Everyone was into "House of Cards".

CUOMO: I watched all of the "Orange is the New Black".

BOLDUAN: I remember that.

PEREIRA: Like a two-day thing.

BOLDUAN: Will you pay the extra?


CUOMO: I don't know. You know what? It doesn't matter what I want. I'll get overridden by my kids and wife. That's happening more and more.

BOLDUAN: Michaela?

PEREIRA: No, I an existing sure subscriber, so I'm good.

BOLDUAN: So for now. I got it.

CUOMO: I like it. I like Netflix. I gotta be honest about it.

PEREIRA: Me, too.

CUOMO: All right, speaking of honest. Doesn't get more honest than John King. Let's get Inside Politics on NEW DAY with the man himself, J.K.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know the secret, Chris. You're going to override the kids on TV choices. You just have to stay up late when they go to bed. That's when you watch "House of Cards".

CUOMO: Except I can't because I do this gig, John.


BOLDUAN: Exactly. Taking all of these notes down.

KING: All right, we'll be back to you guys in a few minutes. Let's go Inside politics this morning.

With me to share their reporting and insights, Juana Summers of "Politico", Robert Costa of "The Washington Post".

Let's start, ladies and gentlemen, with the one number that matters most this year when it comes to the mid-term elections. That's the president's approval rating. Gallup has put up its quarterly review. You look at the chart there. That's from day one of the Obama administration. He started at 63. He is at the end of quarter 21. The president has been in office now for 21 quarters. Can you believe that -- at 42.4 percent.

So Juana, the question is, if you're a Democrat you want them closer to 50 percent. In a mid-term election, history tells us a president in the low 40s means his party is going to take a beating come November. What's the biggest concern at the White House about trying to nudge that up?

JUANA SUMMERS, "POLITICO": I mean, the White House obviously is seeing these numbers are dragged down from the rout of the health care law (inaudible) with the announcement last week of 8 million enrollees.

They are, I think, very optimistic these numbers will go up and that the president will not be a drag on his party. But the question is just how much better do things get, what happens perhaps and this tour to Asia he's about to embark on. (inaudible) help out those Democrats in vulnerable states who are trying to weigh the decision on whether or not it's smarter to cling closer to this president or perhaps distance themselves.

KING: And the last time we went through this, Robert, in the six-year context, the second-year president, the six-term -- six-year itch mid- term, they call it, with George W. Bush. He was about 38 percent. And he could not move the numbers. The Iraq war unpopularity was going up, and Bush, no matter what he tried, he just couldn't move the number.