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Security Council Calls for End to Fighting; One-on-One with Rebel Leader; Crash Site of MH17 Still Unsecured; American Officials Say Russians Have Been Training Rebels

Aired July 21, 2014 - 08:30   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Here's the question, what is the major intelligence lesson for the U.S. from what has happened here in Israel over the past two weeks?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, clearly, these missile defense systems work. And they're worth our investment. And they're worth deployment. Again, a lot of this can -- is discouraging certainly to those rocketeers in Gaza who are firing these missiles because they don't have a very successful hit rate. And it's not because they're not trying to kill civilians in a huge and aggressive way. They are. But between iron dome and I think the Israeli's position that they're going to try to defend themselves and get after these missile nests, if you will, in Gaza, has been successful.

And it's a two-pronged approach, which tells you every problem, Wolf, needs to have this multilayered approach. You can't just do one. You can't just build a missile system. That's not going to work in and of itself. Hugely successful, but won't work by itself. You have to have this other, I think, operation to clean out those rocket nests all at the same time. And so I think this is an important lesson for us as we look at all of the challenges around the world. You can't just do press releases and announcements, put one type of a system in and hope it's done. It takes all of these things, all at the same time, including good decisions, up to these events, to try to avoid these kind of civilian disasters.

BLITZER: Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, thanks, as usual, for joining us.

Let's go back to Kate and John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Wolf.

Next up for us on NEW DAY, tough questions for the pro-Russian rebel leader. How he responded to allegations that it was his people that shot down Flight 17, his people now impeding the investigation. Don't miss his one on one talk with our Chris Cuomo, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, here we go with the five things you need to know for your new day. At number one, the U.N. Security Council voting today on a resolution condemning the attack on Flight 17 and demanding access to the wreckage.

Israel will not confirm or deny Hamas has kidnapped an Israeli soldier. Over a dozen Israeli soldiers and about 90 Palestinians were killed in the deadliest day of the Gaza conflict.

Fire crews fighting an uphill battle in Washington state and Oregon against 21 uncontrolled wildfires. They burned nearly a million acres and destroyed at least 150 homes.

The TSA is increasing its security fee. Starting today, you will pay $5.60 for all flights. Congress approved this increase as part of the deal to reduce the deficit.

And at number five, a special day. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan will be awarded the Medal of Honor today. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts held off a surprise assault by the Taliban in 2008 after being injured by a hand grenade.

We do update those five things to know, so be sure to visit newdaycnn.com for the latest.

We want to head back now to Chris, who's on the ground in eastern Ukraine, giving us an idea of what is happening there as the investigation hopefully continues.

Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: War is what's going on here right now, Mic. It is active once again. Here is the latest information.

Ukraine says that it has regained control of the airport in Donetsk and the road leading to it. They say they are still in the active stage of their counterterrorism offensive that's going on here. There is heavy shelling. Residents are told to stay inside. A nine-story building near the rail station has been damaged. Again, reports of fire and a local market has been badly damaged and local militants say two civilians have been killed.

Now, local militants are under the control of a man who is a self- appointed prime minister. That means he was not elected. The president was elected by the entire country of Ukraine. President Poroshenko. However, he is the man in charge. That would put him as the man in charge of the group of militants who may have shot down MH17.

So we went to him and asked him the hard questions of this situation. He was defiant and he has his own theory about what happened. Here's the interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDER BORODAI, DONETSK PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Yes, it is true, so to speak. These items resemble the black boxes very much, but I cannot officially declare that these are the black boxes. We do not have the experts that can say, yes, it is them and not anything else.

CUOMO: So please answer the allegations, Ukraine and western intelligence authorities say that there was a tweet connected to the DPR that said that your forces had taken control of a Russian missile system that it took from Ukraine, that they intercepted conversations bragging that they had taken down the plane. So if you have the tweet and the conversations and the pictures that all point to your forces, how do you deny that it was your forces that brought down the plane?

BORODAI: It is very simple to disprove it. All of the information that comes through the Internet, in my opinion, is practically all lies.

CUOMO: So the tweet is fake. The conversations that they say they intercepted are fake. The picture of the missile system moving back across the border, is that fake as well?

BORODAI: I am telling you again, we have never been in possession of even a single Buk system. I can list all of the means of defense that we have in our possession. All of these means of defense are capable of crashing only the low flying targets.

CUOMO: There's a new report that Russia is helping train your forces from a base not far from your border. Is that true? Is Russia helping train your forces to fight against Ukraine?

BORODAI: I will not comment on this question. You should ask Russia this question.

CUOMO: But why no comment, Mr. Prime Minister, when you're in control of Donetsk, you would know whether they're helping or not. Why wouldn't you tell me?

BORODAI: You know, a question that is addressing the Russian Federation, I do not have the moral right to answer because at this moment I am speaking as a representative of the Donetsk People's Republic. I consider it not quite right.

CUOMO: This site, four days it's been and bodies are still there, in the sun. You can imagine if it were your family member how you would feel about their body being out there for so long. Why were they allowed to stay there so long? Why weren't the bodies taken care of and given dignity sooner?

BORODAI: You know, it's a fantastic story. The thing is, that as soon as members of OSCE arrive, they notified us that if we start moving the bodies then we will be responsible. It got to the point where it resembled, if not a horror movie, then black humor. When an old woman comes to our rebel groups and says, look, there is a body of a headless man fell through the roof straight on to my bed, please take this man away, but the rebels say, no, because they are following instructions.

CUOMO: Can you guarantee that international help will be allowed in right away now?

BORODAI: Yes, of course. We give these guarantees. We invite them here and are waiting for them to be here as soon as possible.

CUOMO: Understand why I'm asking. They call this the biggest crime scene in the world right now. Two hundred and ninety-eight people were killed, maybe as part of a conflict they had nothing to do with. And those families had to see the bodies of their loved ones rotting in the sun. So they're angry too. And it's hard to see it. And that's why I wanted to ask you why you weren't taking care of it sooner. People want answers about what happened up in the sky because those people, as you know, did not deserve to die.

BORODAI: I understand. I am trying to get rid of the fog of war and want to make you understand that we were trying to push for these bodies to be collected as fast as possible.

CUOMO: I want to give you one last opportunity to answer this question. The belief of the western community and of Ukraine is that a Russian missile brought down this plane. And there is suspicion that it had something to do with fighters from your region. What do you want to say to people who believe that?

BORODAI: What can I say? I have addressed this topic many times, but I am under the impression that myself and my colleagues are not being heard. Let's look at the real facts. Firstly, we didn't have any motive to target this plane. But for Ukraine, our enemy, the crash of this plane is very beneficial.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: The motive would be the ongoing battle here, that's what everybody is focused on and trying to figure out how MH17 wound up becoming the latest casualty, literally crash landing in the middle of a battlefield. We're looking at dark smoke coming from the hillsides here. The violence has resumed. We don't know which direction the shelling is going.

And, Kate, as I give it back to you, you know, the responsibility for the violence that brought down MH17 will be borne out over time by fact. But it is so important for this investigation to be done the right way to get those facts. And the first question, the answer that you heard this self-appointed prime minister answering was, he has what they believe to be the black boxes. Why did he take them? What is he going to do with them? He says he'll turn them over to an independent body, but that has yet to happen.

Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: They can't get on the ground because of the violence that those rebels are involved in. It's a difficult situation, but important answers that you were seeking. Chris, thanks so much. We're going to get back to Chris in just a second.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Dutch experts have arrived at the crash site of MH17. You're seeing some video right there. But how much access will they really get in the rebel controlled areas? We're going to talk to a counter terrorism expert about that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. There are a growing indications according to American officials that Russians have been training the rebels accused of shooting down MH Flight 17. So, the question now, what will it take to find definitive proof and can those responsible be brought to justice? We want to ask those questions of Philip Mudd, CNN counter terrorism analyst and former CIA counter terrorism official. Philip, you know you have a lot of experience dealing with these types of groups. Militias, non government actors, for lack of a better word, thugs. What will get them to get out of the way of this investigation and allow it to move forward the way it needs to?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTER TERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think we'll see them get out of the way of this investigation. That is because you've have to define the question more broadly than we defined it over the past day or so. That is not just access to the site. You have to ask them for access to three categories of people and they're not going to give that access. In any investigation, you're going to want to talk to the military personnel who were in the unit that fired the missile. Number 2, you're going to want to talk to the villagers in the area in which that plane came down. You want to ask them what kind of plumes, for example, they saw from the plane. And most interesting to me, if U.S. intelligence can define narrowly the location from which that missile was shot, I want to talk to villagers in that location and say, did you see any trucks come in, did you see any trucks leave, did you hear any people talking? The chances, I think, that the militants will allow that kind of access are about zero.

BOLDUAN: And Phil, I want to ask you what more do you think the intelligence community knows that hasn't been made public to this point? I ask that because Secretary Kerry came out really strongly yesterday with some pretty strong proclamations including that Russia, they have information that Russia has been training these rebels, including on these missile systems, that these missile systems have been brought over from Russia to Ukraine for the pro Russian rebels. If this is what the secretary is confident enough of to come out and talk about on the Sunday talk shows, what else do you think they have information on, what else do you think they know that they're not able to tell us yet?

MUDD: Let me tell you something, my guess is they know quite a bit. The reason is quite simple. The guys at the CIA now running the analytic program are the same guys I grew up with when I joined in 1985. I know how they think. One of the things they're thinking about is not replicating the errors, believe it or not, of the Iraq WMD problem. You do not want to put the secretary of state and the president of the United States in front of a camera talking about the quality of intelligence about the rebels without a high level of confidence, and that is things like satellite imagery of the actual missile system. Maybe intercepted communications like what we've heard the Ukrainians talk about. The problem in this case, let me be clear here, is dividing between capability. Did the Russians give the rebels the capability to take this shot and intent? Did the Russians want the rebels to use the missile system in a way like this? It is very difficult to get intent information in the intelligence world. BERMAN: There are a lot of American officials who say, though, merely giving them that capability puts blood on their hands, puts blood on Vladimir Putin's hands. We're hearing stories right now about training camps on the Russian side of the borders where these pro- Russian rebels have been trained with how to use these weapons. Do you think that there is any possibility they would have the know how to shoot these things without direct Russian training?

MUDD: I do not. I think the Russians were probably culpable in not only providing the system, but training. But you have to distinguish in the intelligence world between what you think and what we know. I've been burned so many times in intelligence saying look, we have 90 percent of the picture, this is what the last corner of the puzzle looks like and realizing you got it dead wrong. That said, though, my guess is behind the scenes a couple of things are happening. One, this intelligence picture is pretty clear. There is going to be additional indications that will come in, but I'm sure the secretary of the state and the president have very little concern about the quality of the intelligence. You don't get out and talk like they did without high quality intelligence. The second thing, and this is really interesting. We spent decades, that is the United States government, after World War II, developing a capability to follow Soviet missile systems around. This is the bread and butter of U.S. intelligence. A, the U.S. knows what happened here. B, the U.S. knows what intelligence capabilities the Russians have. And, c, Putin knows that we know. This game is over in the intelligence world. We got the goods and Putin knows it.

CUOMO: Well, Philip Mudd, its Chris Cuomo in Eastern Ukraine. I don't know if you can see what's behind me, but talk about the difference between what you know and what you can show. What I'm showing right now is a completely unsecured crime scene where anybody who wants to can just walk right around it, unless the militants are here and want to show a force instead of show respect for the dead. My question is how does the U.S. or any intelligence force allow this to happen? You can't say you don't need the site. Of course you need the site. This is where the plane is, this is where all this important forensic information is, and it does seems like they're relying on their intelligence over the human intelligence of caring about the dead, and that if you didn't need to be here, how do they not come? How are the western authorities not on the ground here, giving dignity to the dead and helping the families of MH-17? Aren't you surprised by this?

MUDD: I'm a bit surprised, but Chris I'm being clear. I'm not saying that what is on the ground isn't important. I'm saying that there's a whole variety of other stuff that I believe will be used eventually in a court. That might be a criminal court in Europe, that might be a criminal court in Manhattan. I believe, and you can mark this on the CNN calendar, sometime in the next five to ten years, that long, somebody from the Ukrainian opposition is going to be in a court of law answering for murder. That said, to answer to your question, having been in situations where you're putting people in harm's way, and in my case whether its Afghanistan or Iraq in my own life, there are people who are dead on the ground, this is a tragedy for the families, but you have to be careful about putting somebody else in harm's way and stepping back and saying, "Why did I get a monitor killed? Because I moved too quickly." I understand there is a tragedy here, but there is also responsibility of the people putting boots on the ground to say let me not get somebody else killed.

CUOMO: I hear you, but you know that the U.S. puts people on situations that are a lot hotter than this. I mean, I'm well aware of what it is. I'm sure you are, too. They go to a lot of hot situations. They're not here and it is making a huge difference. And if it is true that Vladimir Putin understands this, and is allowing this to be secured this way and is allowing international pressure, what does that mean in terms of how you have to look at the urgency with which we deal with Russia?

MUDD: I think the urgency is high and I believe the urgency is going to shift very quickly from what we have been talking about in the past few days, that is the intelligence picture, what we know about the scene, what we know about Russian provision of this stuff to what happens in Europe, especially tomorrow. We can talk all we want from the White House and the Congress about sanctions, but my -- in my judgment, the question is going to come out of Germany and that's whether Angela Merkel and the rest of the Germans who are energy dependent on the Russians are going to have the stomach to do what the president is pressing him to do. The secretary of state has come out with tougher and tougher words. The game is on now, the intelligence noose tightened around Putin's throat. Are the people going to follow through? I'm not sure.

BOLDUAN: Philip, one thing that we have heard from many guests this morning is that the top priority should be for Ukraine to regain control of this area in Eastern Ukraine. That's clearly a priority for the United States and our western allies. In the absence of that happening very quickly, how do you operate successfully on the ground to try to not only investigate what happened with this crash, but then bring people to justice?

MUDD: I think the investigation is going to be very difficult. You talk about the vast amount of space that you have to look at. You have to comb through that so carefully and to think that over a few days, with only episodic access to the site, that you can do anything like that was done, for example, in the Lockerbie tragedy years ago when Libya shot down a plane over Scotland, to think you'll get that quality of investigation I think is already out the door. But to my mind, that does not impact the fundamental question about whether there will be sufficient information at some point down the road, to bring people to justice. And, again, I think the question will not just be physical access to the site, in the world of investigation that is interviewing witnesses. Some day those witnesses are going to talk to an investigator and I know my brothers at the FBI, I served there for four and a half years, they will never forget. Those interviews, whether its this year or its in 2024, those interviews are going to happen and somebody is going to go behind bars.

BERMAN: Let's hope those interviews happen sooner rather than later and there is investigation progress sooner rather than later. Philip Mudd, thank you for being with us. We really do appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. BERMAN: Stay with us for the very latest on the other big news story

of the day as well. The crisis in Gaza. We'll have much more on that straight ahead.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Thank you for joining us this morning for the very latest from Ukraine and Gaza. Its time to turn to "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello. Hey, Carol.