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NEW DAY

High-Tech Search; U.S. Journalist Held in Eastern Ukraine; Violence Grows in Ukraine; Malaysian Authorities Don't Release Report on Flight 370

Aired April 24, 2014 - 06:30   ET

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


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama is in Japan this morning and attending a very formal state dinner with the emperor. Overnight, the president made comments on several key issues, including Russia's involvement in Ukraine, promising new sanctions if Moscow doesn't make changes.

He also weighed in on the island dispute between Japan and China, saying the U.S. would defend Japan but urged both sides to resolve the long-running dispute peacefully.

A medal object of interest found Wednesday on Australia's coast is not connected to flight 370. Meanwhile, the Bluefin-21 drone has now scanned more than 90 percent of the underwater search zone, still no sign of the missing jetliner. Officials are now planning the next phase of the mission which could feature sophisticated new equipment and an expanded search area.

The death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster rising yet again, 171 bodies have now been recovered with 131 other people still unaccounted for. The high school in a suburb of Seoul which many victims attended resumed classes today.

Also the investigation is ramping up. A South Korean lawmaker says renovations last year expanded the top deck of the ferry to make room for more than 100 additional passengers. Investigators are looking at whether those modifications could have made it more likely to capsize.

Chris, that's the very latest. That's kind of a big development in that ferry. They're going to need to find out if that caused it to be unstable.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That's true. That's a big question there. We'll have to be following that, I'm sure.

All right. Let's get back to what we're going to use to find this plane, Flight 370. You know, I guess the question could be playfully, is it time to fire the Bluefin, underwater drone scanning the Indian Ocean has completed more than 90 percent of the search. The question is better gear, too deep for the Bluefin, is it -- you know, are there other capability? It turns out we have them.

So, let's go through the possibilities with David Gallo. You know him. He was instrumental in the search for 447, Air France, and understands this stuff very we well.

So, the good news is there are other tools, right?

DAVID GALLO, CNN ANALYST: Yes. I don't know that we're done with the Bluefin. There may be other place where's it's applicable but we'll see.

CUOMO: But the main limitation is really about its strength at depth, right?

GALLO: That's right.

CUOMO: That's what we're talking about.

GALLO: Yes. That's right.

CUOMO: All right. So, it's deeper than they're anticipating. Is it their fault? No, because this is uncharted bottom that they're dealing with here in the Indian Ocean.

So, that leads us to the first other stronger tool, it's called the Orion. Tell me about it.

GALLO: Sure, Orion is a towed side scan sonar. Same kind of sensors as Bluefin but towed behind a ship by a cable. The advantage is you get real-time information back from the bottom of the ocean top ship.

You don't have to wait for the turn around for the vehicle to come back to the ship.

CUOMO: And 14,000 feet or so for Bluefin although it exceeded their expectations, right, and this one can go to 20,000.

GALLO: That's right, 6,000 meters which is about the deepest this place gets.

CUOMO: When you're dealing with another mile plus down there. It gives you some reach.

And any downside to using this one?

GALLO: You're up off the seafloor quite a bit so you give up a lit bit of resolution. So, it's not hugging the see floor like Bluefin does. In fact, that brings us to the next vehicle which is the REMUS, which is very similar to Bluefin.

CUOMO: So, tell us about the Remus.

GALLO: Yes, the Remus is just like the Bluefin. It's an AUV. It's the one we used to find Air France 447.

And the beauty of the Remus vehicle is that it hugs the bottom.

CUOMO: Hugs it.

GALLO: Hugs it, runs incredibly precise line. So, if you're mowing the line, incredibly precise lines with a lot of accuracy. Downside, you've got to bring it back to the ship. You've got to recharge it and download the data.

CUOMO: All right. So, the risk here is when you don't know what the bottom is, for sure, if you're hugging the bottom, you could bang into something.

GALLO: Always a risk. What we need here really more than anything else from the beginning is some good bathometric maps, topographic charts.

CUOMO: All right. Now, the last one really should be name Romulus if this one is going to be Remus. But it's Remora.

And what about the Remora?

GALLO: Remora is ROV, remotely operated vehicle. The beauty of Remora is that it's, again, hooked up to the ship with a cable. It's not really meant for search, it's meant for detail work. It's got high resolution cameras. We used it on Titanic and on Air France 447. But you got real time information that's got manipulators if you want to recover something. Very detailed work.

CUOMO: Detailed work, meaning what, it's slower?

GALLO: No, it's meant to be not towed around but you work in one spot. On board that ship there's a control center where the pilot engineers on one side with several people. You can use a satellite to beam those images right back to land. You can drive it from the studio if you want to --

CUOMO: So, it's going to sit in one place basically?

GALLO: If it's meant to. I found the aircraft and let's start looking around and doing a forensic study.

CUOMO: So, you don't use that one until you figured out where this thing is.

GALLO: It's not a search system, no.

CUOMO: And the difference between autonomous underwater vehicle and remotely operated vehicle.

GALLO: Well, remotely operated means you've got a surface ship with a team on board and they're driving that with a joy stick, driving the robot with a joystick, autonomous is a drone, you turn it loose. It runs its mission and comes back.

CUOMO: All right. Now, reality check. Do you believe it's about the tools right now?

GALLO: Yes. Well, it's the tools, it's the team, it's the plan. So, you've got to have those three things and you got to have luck, a little bit of prayer and off you go.

CUOMO: But do you think the reason they haven't found it so far is because of the Bluefin?

GALLO: You know, we've been in this situation for Air France. We were out there for months, didn't find it, people said it wasn't there, but, guess what? It wasn't there. So, it's hard to say where the plane is. They could have missed it. I don't think so. Only time will tell.

CUOMO: Still have faith in the pings?

GALLO: You know, that's the only thing we have to go on right now. If the pings aren't real, we have no shred of evidence that plane is down here in this part of the ocean. Not a shred of evidence, maybe the Inmarsat.

CUOMO: Do we have any reasonable basis to believe that the pings were not legit?

GALLO: I don't. It sounded like the right frequency, right rate. We put an awful lot of eggs in that one basket.

CUOMO: Well, that's true. A great counter to the question is, hey, if there's anybody who doesn't want to waste time looking in the wrong place, it's these people. They're putting their lives on the line and their reputations.

GALLO: Sure, right. That's right.

CUOMO: They wouldn't do it if they weren't sure.

GALLO: In fact, early on the ocean community was saying show us the evidence before we deploy our people and our technology.

CUOMO: All right. Kate, you're hearing David. You know, you got to have the right tools but team and tactics, just as important.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely right.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, an American journalist taken hostage in Ukraine. Pro-Russian militia say he's a spy. So, what's being done to rescue him? Our experts join us to discuss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Violence is growing in Ukraine as troops there begin making a big push against the Russians. They've regained control of a key building in the east and fended off an attack on a military unit. This comes though as the State Department looks to both countries, Ukraine and Russia, to release an American reporter being held by a pro-Russian militia.

Let's bring in Major General James "Spider" Marks, CNN military analyst who retired from the U.S. Army. He's a former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center.

Spider, thank you so much for coming in.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: My pleasure, Kate. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: So, let's talk about a war of words that really kind of flared up yet again overnight. You've got the Russian foreign minister pointing the finger at Washington saying that Washington is running the show, in his words, in Kiev. Also saying that any attack on Russian citizens in Ukraine is going to be seen as an attack on Russia itself.

Where is the Geneva agreement?

MARKS: Well, Kate, yes, it is quite a mess. And United States is caught in the middle here.

Clearly, let's start with your very last point. Russian citizens in Ukraine, first of all, Ukraine is autonomous up until the point that Russia annexed Crimea. So how can you have Russian citizens that are citizens of another country in Ukraine with the rights and privileges associated with Russia and not Ukraine? So, it's a bit of a mix. I think we're -- not us personally, but I think we're mixing some language up and diplomatically we've got to straighten that out immediately.

These are not Russian citizens. These are Ukrainian citizens with all the privileges associated with Kiev.

BOLDUAN: But Lavrov is saying, is making that statement, Spider, from them, perception seems to be more important than reality throughout this.

MARKS: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: That is a big problem.

MARKS: Yes. The story line is completely mixed. The other, I think, more important point is the government of Kiev really is in a tough spot and we know that. We, United States, has been ineffective up until this point to include our friends in Europe to help them out of this spot.

What we need to do is apply pressure in Kiev and say, look, you've got to get control of what's happening in eastern Ukraine. And at the same time, the Russians are saying to the United States, you need to tell Kiev to apply pressure to get things controlled in eastern Ukraine. This is a Kiev issue. This is a Ukrainian issue to try and gain control.

United States has leverage and has some ability to influence the activities. And I would suggest that the very first thing the United States can do is to go to Putin, can go to the Foreign Minister Lavrov and say, look, it's very provocative what's taking place in east Ukraine. We've got to unscrew that thing as quickly as possible.

But let's be frank. Get rid of your troops that are north of the border of Ukraine. That's incredibly provocative right now. Whether you think you have all the rights to do that and they do, Russia certainly can exercise its forces. But that is a provocative step. If that went away and disappeared for a while, this would bring the temperature down considerably.

BOLDUAN: When you talk about the U.S. needing to apply more pressure, overnight President Obama, when he was asked about this whole situation, he said that more sanctions against Russia are teed up and ready to go if Russia does not move towards working through this, working through diplomatic means, through diplomatic channels. It doesn't seem that Russia is ready to do that.

Are sanctions enough? Do you think at this point? There are -- I'm not also asking what other good option there is because there doesn't seem to be a good option here.

MARKS: The sanctions are a good option. The fact that sanctions -- additional sanctions are teed up is troubling in that that ball should already be down range.

BOLDUAN: OK.

MARKS: We should be very, very aggressively in a position where we're, for lack of a more descriptive term, viscously attacking Putin and the oligarchs, right in the pocket book and making them feel some incredible pain because the time limit is now truncated. Normally, economic and financial sanctions, Kate, have a longer tail, it's going to take time for the effects of those to be felt. Putin will react to pressure he sees and can feel right now. That's a financial piece, that's a diplomatic piece, we're working that.

But that clearly is a military piece and we're beginning to increase those pressures. I think what we could do additionally military is increase our presence and naval capabilities from the Black Sea and, certainly air force. These are all NATO participants, not just the United States, and additional aircraft capability that could attack, and has a very -- it sends a very clear message to Putin that his actions are being watched, we're monitoring, and we have the capability to respond militarily.

BOLDUAN: And, Spider, caught in the middle of all of this not only the people of Ukraine who are having to live through this, but also now you have reporters that are getting caught up in this.

We have an American journalist, Simon Ostrovsky, who's being detained by pro-Russian separatists. He has doggedly reported on this situation from the very beginning. Some of his reports we've highlighted on CNN air.

What can or do you think should be done in this situation? It's unacceptable that he would even be detained to be caught a lesson because he was being -- because he's doggedly reporting on a situation. What can the U.S. do other than say we condemn it?

MARKS: You're right, Kate. It's absolutely unacceptable. We've been down, sadly, this path before. BOLDUAN: Yes.

MARKS: So the United States clearly has to establish who is in control on the ground. That goes back to the issue of what is this interim government in Kiev capable of doing. That needs to be sorted out immediately.

And so the diplomatic channels of the United States is taking right now are the right ones, which is tell us what are the individual charges. What did he do that requires you now to impound him, to put him away? Why did you arrest this individual? What are the charges against the individual? How can we now address those? Again, you want to try to lower the temperature a little bit, get everybody to breathe through their nose. So this is not simply an additional piece of escalation.

But it's descriptive of the turmoil and chaos as we try to sort it out in terms of our intelligence perspective. Do we really know who the actors are and can we differentiate, and then what can we do to share this information with Kiev to help them through this problem? Clearly they've got the lead this is sovereign territory for them. They have to be able to get their arms around it. And we have to be able to lean in and support it as best we can.

BOLDUAN: Diffusing that situation, diffusing the situation at large, that's obviously the priority. How to do it, there's no easy answer at this point. But at least you're helping us through it. Major General, great to see you. Thank you.

MARKS: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course. Chris?

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, a slap in the face of the families. The Indonesians have a report on flight 370 and they're not sharing it. Why? We're going to speak with Sarah Bajc, the partner of a passenger who is leading the charge to get it released.

(COMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Malaysian authorities say they've completed a preliminary report on the disappearance of Flight 370 was they refuse to release it publicly. This is like salt in the wounds of already frustrated family members who have been beg for information from the Malaysian government from the very beginning.

Joining us now is Sarah Bajc, partner of Philip Wood, American on board mh370. Sarah, good to see you. I wish we had better information about what was going on. But let's deal with why we do not. Two pieces of news. The first, a preliminary report. This deals with recommendations going forward and not necessarily things specific to what we understand about the disappearance. But still could be relevant, could be interesting. What did they tell you about why they won't give it to people like you?

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF MH370 PASSENGER: We haven't actually been given a reason why they're not -- why we are not being given the report. But I find it fascinating that they seem to be choosing to treat us as if we are the enemy as opposed to an interested party in helping to solve this mystery.

CUOMO: Now, you're very familiar with this part of the world. You've lived there a while. You were moving to Kuala Lumpur during this. You know the culture. How much of this do you believe is cultural, resistance to being challenged, resistance to being expected to disclose things not on their own terms?

BAJC: I think a good deal of it is that. It's called face. We have to save face when we live in southeast Asia, or northern Asia for that matter. Often what will happen if you're just in a daily cultural environment, if you back somebody in a corner they come out biting. So, you know, probably we need a fresh start here.

For the most of this -- this case projecting -- progressing forward we've been sitting on opposite sides of the table. They have a briefing, they tell us what they know and we ask them questions. That's just kind of broken. I think we need to start from scratch and sit down and have a positive dialogue. There's a group of the families who have come together who are really developing as leaders within the group and we would like the chance to sit down and talk and have access to that report. We'll sign confidentiality agreements and maybe not release it to all families until we understand why they weren't even allowed to be sent to us.

CUOMO: Now, of course, the Malaysians don't have the marked cornered when it comes to poor communication as a government entity. But it is becoming a little confusing. That's why I ask the culture question because we also have it with Indonesia. They say they have a report about what they were able to figure out about this flight. They, too, don't want to release it publicly. It would always be the assumption that it's because it would compromise a criminal investigation. But we don't see the basis for that here that's apparent anyway. What do you make of that one?

BAJC: Well, if indeed they have a report that contains such sensitive information that it would compromise an investigation then of course we should see it. That's all the more reason to see it, so that the investigation can move forward with foresight and concerted and qualified effort. So them just holding this little report to their chest doesn't really solve a problem at all, does it?

CUOMO: And the idea of -- they had promised the Malaysians, we're going to have a team of experts, you will get to talk to these experts, they will come and explain what we understand and why. Any idea about when that's going to happen?

BAJC: My guess is probably no time soon. Partly because I'm not sure they really have experts and if they do I'm not sure the experts have anything they can tell us. Realistically we don't necessarily believe they're withholding any new information other than facts that we've already asked for.

But we will continue to push and I think you're seeing a much more concerted family effort already. You're having more and more different family members on CNN. Thank you very much for having all of these people interviewed, so you get a well-rounded story. And I hope that the investigators realize that they will get a lot farther, both in the investigation and in the public opinion, if they work with us instead of against us.

CUOMO: Frankly, this is a main proposition of the job, right? One of the reasons that CNN goes there to a story like this is to be able to have presence and push for these types of things. It is unusual. This isn't just about driving narrative. Especially when it comes to these 26 questions. I have a copy of them that we keep on the desk. I'm just -- I mean this with all due respect, I am not impressed by the questions. They don't seem accusatory or anything. A lot of them are factual information requests. Any new guidance on whether or not they will answer any of them?

BAJC: Well, we are hope that they will. Again, we would like to be able to sit down with them and have a dialogue instead of going back and forth through the media really. But we're also extending our reach now. There is a subset of questions, including new ones, that are much more technical that we will be bringing directly to Boeing. Boeing has a shareholders meeting next week.

And if we're not getting information directly from Malaysian airlines and from the Malaysian government we might as well go directly back to the source. Boeing is a publicly traded company in the United States and this puts them in a position of a little bit more fiduciary responsibility.

CUOMO: I understand that. Certainly they have certain disclosure properties. As a company they will have different rules as well. But there are really two main pressure points here. One is pushing for the completeness of an open investigation that not only have specific relevance to 239 families and victims but over-arching security concerns.

Then of course it's the toll on the families. The worst thing for you all is indecision, is not knowing and the vulnerability of that. And I guess what I'm hearing from you and others is that every time it's inconsistent it makes you hurt more because you really don't know where your loved one is. Fair?

BAJC: That's very fair. And then it's aggravated by the poor personal attention that's being paid to some of those family members that are genuinely, genuinely hurting. We really just want the Malaysian government to, you know, to walk their talking about this point. I'm tired of them saying how much they care about our welfare and then really doing nothing about it.

CUOMO: Well, Sarah, we will remain committed to the story. When we can help, let us know. Thank you for coming on with us. I know it's not an easy conversation for you to have.

BAJC: Thank you.

CUOMO: So, while we have this going on the Malaysian side of the investigation, the search for the actual plane is continuing every minute right now and we will bring you the latest on that as well as the latest on the ferry disaster. The numbers will there are changing once again and in the wrong way. President Obama's trip over seas is also ongoing. What's happening with that. Let's get to all of it right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have prepared for the possibility of applying additional sanctions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These new sanctions by the U.S. on Russia are ready to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bluefin-21's mission nearly complete.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything pointed to this area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 14 have now been charged with abandoning the ship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Horrific images of a possible chlorine attack in Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did this 15-year-old kid survive?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The super cold probably threw his body into a state of almost hibernation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. Breaking news out of Afghanistan. Three American volunteer doctors have been killed in an attack outside a children's hospital in Kabul. Another American also shot being treated for her wounds currently. The shooter reportedly a hospital security guard. Joining us now is CNN's Barbara Starr. Barbara, what was this about?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, for those Americans still trying to help in Afghanistan in the private sector this is a just - really such a tragic incident. It looks like the three hospital workers were killed others also killed and injured at this hospital is in downtown Kabul. You saw the aftermath pictures right there. Killed by a hospital security guard.

This is a major hospital in Kabul that is run by a non-profit organization. They have 100 beds and serve about 37,000 patients every year. So you can see the kind of vital services that this hospital provides to the people of Kabul and the people of Afghanistan who have so little. Trying to figure out what happened.

Another incident where someone who works for Afghan security forces apparently is shot and killed. These people, we saw something similar just a few weeks ago in eastern Afghanistan when an Afghan security official shot and killed two American journalists. Just before that, also, a French journalist shot and killed in a Taliban attack.