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Families Angered At Treatment Of Victims; Interview with Madeleine Albright; Kerry Seeks Gaza Cease Fire Amid Rising Casualties

Aired July 22, 2014 - 07:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We're live here at the crash site of MH17 in Eastern Ukraine. We're putting up the breaking news banner because we've just had the most sustained longest and most violent sounding shelling we've heard since we've been here. We're told by military nearby it's less than ten kilometers from the site right now. It's a place that has been a hot zone of fighting, might have been rockets, might have been artillery.

Whatever it was, it was loud and forceful even here. Now this goes to the context of what brought MH17 down. It also goes to the feeling of insecurity that will shape what gets done here to figure out the answers on the ground. The Malaysians are here right now with the OSCE doing their first check of the crash scene. This does not help matters in terms of breeding security.

We will keep you up to date on what's going on as this shelling continues. However, there are other developments as well. A train overnight left Donetsk and made it to a place called Kharkhiv. This is very important for families. Why? The bodies are on that train. We don't know how many. You're hearing numbers, 282, 275.

The OSCE, Dutch authorities have not been able to count the bodies because of the conditions they are held in and the difficulty of being near them and getting it done, but now they will be able to. Now they will be able to DNA test and most importantly, now they will be able to put bodies in coffins. That may sound small in the context of me telling there's ongoing warfare, but to the families that bit of dignity will mean so.

Also on that train the black boxes that will hopefully download some information. Won't tell us who did this and why and will give us more information is a step in the right direction. For us here on the ground your focus is not about the boxes, is not about the overlying politics of the conflict. It's about the families and what's been lost because those were 298 innocent people who had no role in anything going on here.


CUOMO (voice-over): As the bodies of 282 victims finally began their long journey home, now precious possessions left forgotten in a pile on the platform. From the instant MH17 was destroyed fathers and mothers and daughters and sons have been disrespected. Pawns in a political game, their bodies left to rot in the hot Ukrainian sun for days.

(on camera): When you see these white flags, every one of them, these little pieces of ribbon crudely placed, that's where a body was or still is.

(voice-over): They are unlikely guardians, early on more interested in showing force than compassion.

(on camera): The reason I'm keeping my voice down is because of respect for what this situation is and respect for the people who are in control, the very volatile people and they are using their weapons and firing in the air.

(voice-over): Even now as the world screams its outrage, it does little leaving families of the dead from across the world to beg for help.

SILENE FREDRIKS, MOTHER OF CRASH VICTIMS: Bring my son home. I can do nothing but wait.

CUOMO: Brice Fredriks was on board MH 17 along with his girlfriend, Daisy Ullers headed to Bali after the loss of her mother. Now Brice's mother says she will bury them together.

Andre Anghel was a 24-year-old medical student headed for vacation just before MH17 took off, his sister sent him a text.

ALEXANDRA ANGHEL, SISTER OF MH17 VICTIM: I said please be safe, kiddo. I love you. I hope he saw it. I just want him to come home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want to tell the rebels who are controlling that crash site?

CUOMO: Flight attendant, Sanjid Sandhu wasn't supposed to be aboard MH17 except for a last-minute shift swap.

JIJAR SINGH SANDHU: I would like to appeal to them, beg them if they happen to find my son's body, please release it. They may have their fight, let them fight as they want but be human.

CUOMO: Lives taken in mid-air, dignity taken the moment they crashed into a battlefield controlled by a self-appointed prime minister. He says he was told to leave the dead in the sun uncovered for days by international monitors. The monitors say this is untrue.

As the train pulled off despite both sides calling for cease-fire fighting resumed nearby. Ukrainian fighter jets rocketing rebel targets, a reminder of who cost 298 innocents their lives.


CUOMO: The shelling, the insensitive and the lack of dignity, that's the worst of it, but also this morning we saw the local villagers just quickly show, they gathered with local priests. They were Christians and had their heads covered. They were praying for those who were lost here. They were praying that there are answers about who did this.

John, as I bring it back to you, you've been in situations of conflict before. You know what it's like, but for these families who had nothing to do with this, 298 people, have just crash landed in the middle of a battle. It made an almost impossible situation something that now they don't even know when they will be start to get answers for themselves and the faster that happens, at least some people will get some solace.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: There hasn't been the opportunity to mourn the way that these families deserve for their loved ones who as you say were simply caught in the middle of something they have no involvement in at all. All right, Chris, thanks so much. A lot else going on in the world right now -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Certainly is. We'll get back to our top story. Really appreciate the personal look at this, the victims and the families, et cetera.

Here are your headlines. In the Middle East overnight, more air strikes and ground assaults killing civilians and soldiers. There are reports a hospital in Gaza was shelled killing five people. And the Israeli military says a kindergarten was struck by a rocket fired from Gaza. Luckily no one was inside at the time of that. As the death toll rises rapidly in the conflict, President Obama says the U.S. would provide $47 million in humanitarian assistance to the region.

Former New England Patriot star Aaron Hernandez expected back in court for a status hearing in his 2013 murder case. This hearing could determine whether the Patriots will have to turn over scouting reports on the former tight end including a psychological profile. The Patriots have resisted efforts by defense lawyers. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to three murders.

Copies of former IRS official, Lois Lerner's e-mails once deemed lost forever might actually be retrievable. That's what an IRS lawyer appeared to indicate in a closed House hearing last month according to Republican Congressman Darryl Issa. Seems to contradict testimony by IRS Commissioner John Keskinan. Lerner run the division, accused of targeting and improperly scrutinizing Tea Party groups tax exempt status applications. So maybe not irretrievable as one previously thought.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the finger pointing and propaganda battle now intensifying in the investigation of Flight 17. Coming up, former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright will be joining us to talk about the plane disaster as well as the conflict in the Middle East.


CUOMO: We're live at the crash site of MH17 in Eastern Ukraine. The two sides are actively fighting right now within ten kilometers. We've been hearing very heavy artillery shelling. That is a reminder of the conflict that has to be resolved here and then behind us the crash site itself a reminder of how much there is still to do and how time is of the essence. So what do we do to get this investigated? What do we do to stop the conflict? Can we do anything?

A few people better to have this discussion with than Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, former ambassador to the U.N. Madam Secretary, you could not be better credentialed to have this discussion. Thank you for joining us.

Let's begin with the specific tragedy. MH17 had no role in this conflict. Was certainly brought down, crashed in the middle of a battlefield. What can be done to get more international experts on the ground to investigate before any chance of making a strong case for what happened disappears?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Your reporting on the individuals is so moving and really makes the tragedy even clearer in that innocents are completely tied up in what is one of the most disgusting discussions that I've heard in terms of the lies that are being put forward by President Putin and the propaganda that the Russians are putting out about this.

I think that what has to happen is the investigators do have to get in there as quickly as possible. The Security Council has passed a resolution to that effect. We need to make available all the information that we have on all of this and keep pushing and then also there has to be additional action by the Europeans who are meeting today in terms of raising the level of sanctions and matching those that President Obama has already put on.

CUOMO: You've heard about the bodies. There's really no reason to go back into that. It's given enough pain to the families and loved ones already, but I have to tell you, Madam Secretary, villagers are collecting parts of this plane and piling it up in front of their homes, literally picking them out of their gardens. This is not the way this is to be conducted and you know what will happen.

Over time they will say, well, you can't really tell what happened. We don't really have the plane. Should the United States be more active in actually physically being here? Should the U.N. by now have a presence on the ground other than leaving it all to the USCE, which is a great organization, but they are not in the business of investigating crash sites? What more actions should have happened yesterday?

ALBRIGHT: I do think that there needs to be a larger international presence there. Unfortunately, we have too much knowledge of things like this. Some of the massacres that took place during the war in the Balkans where we were in fact able to get agreement to be able to go in and make sure that these horrible fields are properly guarded, and I think that there does have to be additional pressure, and the U.N., as I said, does have a Security Council resolution.

I do think it would be important to get some international forces in there in order to make sure that this tragic field is not desecrated even further, but the issues here are that a lot of it, as you have reported, has already disappeared. It's interesting to see what the black boxes say, but the bottom line is I do think that the U.S. needs to publicly present the information that we have.

Frankly, I did this during the tragedy in Srebrenica. I brought in information to the Security Council and showed it. The same thing when the Cubans shot down the unarmed Cuban-American planes. We have to provide the information so that Putin's lies are not the ones dominating the propaganda.

CUOMO: OK. So Madam Secretary, let's give every assumption in favor of what the United States thinks happened here. Even if all of that is true, can you name me two things that the United States or the international community could do to Russia that would change the disposition of Vladimir Putin in terms of how he's conducting himself here or in Syria or in the other international situations where he seems to be a chalk in the wheel of progress?

ALBRIGHT: What has to keep happening is tightening the screws in terms of the sanctions resolutions and moving forward on that. He does not want to be fully isolated, and that is what is happening. His economy is not in good shape in the first place, and we have to make clear, we also need to shame and blame publicly and perhaps begin some kind of a procedure that takes us to the International Criminal Court. These are war crimes.

The bottom line though is we have to keep putting the truth out there, but it's not easy. There's no question. The other thing that I do think I have to do if we keep forgetting about if I might say so, this is a horror, and there's no word that describes it properly, but we also have to remember that Ukraine itself needs help.

We need to help the Ukrainian military, but we also need to help the Ukrainian economy. They have a new president who needs to put his country back in shape. This is a very large country of over 40 million people, the largest landmass in Europe, and we have to make sure that it can survive what are just horrendous conditions.

CUOMO: And there's no question about that, Madam Secretary. A lot of the people where we are right now wish they were not under the control of the local militias, but Ukraine's government is not strong enough to help them. They certainly do need outside help. Thank you for your perspective.

Unfortunately, this is not the only situation that demands your attention. Wolf Blitzer, of course, is in Israel following the situation there, again, another escalating situation, another matter for international intervention. Wolf, please, take the conversation.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Chris, thank you very much. Madam Secretary, there's a horror story going on here as well, as you well know. More than 2,000 Hamas rockets and missiles have come into Israel. There are now these underground tunnels from Gaza into Israel, infiltrators getting through there. Brutal battles.

Israel has launched major, major not only air and land strikes, and a lot of Palestinians have died in the process, many of them children and civilians. So here's the question. What can the United States, what should the United States do about it?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that Secretary Kerry is doing everything that he can. He's in Cairo. The point here is there has to be some kind of a cease-fire, a cease-fire that Hamas has to accept because in the past, Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted times of cease-fire, and it's Hamas that has not accepted it.

I do think that the point has to be made that if rockets are being shot at Israel that Israel has a right to defend itself. But the question is of bottom proportionality. And we frankly know, you do, Wolf, there has to be a way that Palestine is recognized. That there's a two-state solution. That the various points that have been put on the table are met.

We do care about the security of Israel, but it cannot have that security if there's not a two-state solution. And I think Secretary Kerry has done an amazing job in pushing, but ultimately it has to be the political will of the parties to bring this to the table, but now there has to be a cease-fire.

BLITZER: Are you suggesting, Madam Secretary, that the Israelis are overreacting to the provocations, missiles and rockets coming in? Are they going too far when you use the word proportionality?

ALBRIGHT: I do think it is hard to watch the number of Palestinians being killed, innocence. It is hard to dispute the fact that as Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, in fact there are innocents being put in the way in order to act as shields, but the bottom line is I think this is hurting Israel's moral authority.

I do think that it looks as though they are overdoing, which is why I think there has to be more emphasis on the fact that they have accepted the cease-fire. And then try to figure out who has any influence over Hamas in order to get them to accept a cease-fire. They say they will not accept them until the rockets stop and to them that's the only way to stop everything, to have to cease-fire.

BLITZER: I look back on your days of Secretary of State under President Clinton. You guys were very close to a two-state decision between the Palestinians and Israelis, unfortunately not close enough and we see the results happening since then. Madam Secretary, thanks as usual for joining us.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Wolf, for being there.

ALRIGHT: Let's go back to Kate and John in New York.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Wolf. Very important from what we heard there on both fronts. Thank you very much. Coming up next on NEW DAY, a new CNN/ORC poll shows that many Americans believe that Russia is directly linked to the downing of Flight 17. We'll talk with Senator John McCain coming up with how involved he believes the United States should be in the investigation going forward.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: Next up on NEW DAY, more of top coverage of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 crash. We'll talk to Senator McCain about everything happening overseas. Huge stories with huge implications.

Plus, we're going to get reaction from Fareed Zakaria and to Wolf Blitzer on the ground.


CUOMO: Breaking news, we are live at the crash scene in Eastern Ukraine. Finally the many of the bodies have begun the long trip home.

The black boxes are finally in the hands of investigators. New accusations and new fighting making getting answers for grieving families even harder.

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. Also breaking, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo. Can he stop the bloodshed? The violence escalating, 27 Israeli soldiers killed and the death toll for Palestinians now approaching 600.