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Bodies from Downed Airliner in Ukraine Returned to Home Countries; European Nations Stall on Sanctions Against Russia; Israel Angry Over FAA Flight Ban

Aired July 23, 2014 - 07:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": But chances for a ceasefire are looking increasingly dim. Flights from the U.S. into Israel still halted after a Hamas rocket came close to the airport. Israel pushing the U.S. to restart the flights. Michael Bloomberg now on a plane in a show of solidarity. We're following it now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A special edition of NEW DAY continues right now.

When it comes to MH-17, there's been so many examples of things being done wrong. I want to show you an example of it being done right here in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, obviously. Rows and rows of flowers, notes to the victims, notes of support to the families. Some of these people are in transit, they're travelers themselves. Many of them are not.

There's a national day of mourning today as they wait for the bodies to come. A second plane has now left Ukraine is on route here to Holland. CNN has it covered in all the relevant places, obviously in eastern Ukraine in the airport about an hour from where we are right now where the bodies will be received, and here where MH-17 began its journey in Amsterdam. We will bring you the latest news and information about these families because today is finally the first day of hope that they will get their loved ones back. Kate, John?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A national day of mourning in the Netherlands. Chris, we'll get right back to you. We're also following the latest coming out of the Middle East. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel today in hopes of brokering a ceasefire. Wolf Blitzer will have more on that and the rest of the developments on the crisis, including whether flights from U.S. carriers will be resuming any time soon ahead of, because, of course, there's an FAA ban in place right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Back here in the United States, President Obama taking some heat for making a fundraising swing out west with all of these crises facing the United States right now coming from overseas. So what do Americans think of the president's job performance in the midst of all this? We have the very latest numbers, brand new polling numbers, and we'll speak with the White House about these responses to the situations in the Ukraine and the Middles East as well. More on that later, but for now let's get back to Chris in Amsterdam. Chris?

CUOMO: This is the day that the victims of flight MH-17 finally start their journey home. Will it be all of them? Who are they? These are all questions that remain unanswered, but after days of these families having to watch the crime scenes be abused and the dignity of their loved ones be completely disrespected, this is at least the first step in the process of closure, and it begins today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel that the eyes of the world are upon us to do it right.

CUOMO: Coming home, at least 200 bodies recovered from MH-17 placed aboard a Dutch military aircraft hours ago and now on their way to the Netherlands. Once handed over to forensic experts, they will begin what's expected to be the difficult task of identifying each victim.

But more agony for the families this morning. European monitors now say that up to 100 bodies, nearly a third of the 298 on board, may be missing. They didn't arrive on the train from the crash site as expected, raising new questions about where they may be. The plane's two black boxes arriving in the U.K. this morning, but experts say getting to the actual wreckage is vital because the boxes likely won't hold the key to who shot down the plane and why.

HUGH DUNLEAVY, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, MALAYSIA AIRLINES: The crime scene, which is what MH-17 is, has been I think picked clean by the various groups that were in control that area. I think the entire site has been compromised.

CUOMO: U.S. officials now ramping up the pressure on Russia, briefing reporters on what they say is convincing intelligence that Russian militants shot it down accidentally. They point to this graphic showing the trajectory of the flight, U.S. intelligence picking up the missile launcher being turned on, then the vertical ascent of the missile and its heat plume.

The U.S. also releasing evidence of a buildup of Russian forces in Rostov City, releasing this satellite imagery of a military area just inside the Russian border where they continue to ship weapons, many headed for Ukraine.

Today former U.S. president Bill Clinton delivered the keynote speech at international HIV/AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia, on board flight 17 six leading aids researchers planning to attend.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We have to remind people that the people we lost on that airplane gave their entire lives to the proposition that our common humanity matters a hell of a lot more than our interesting differences.


CUOMO: CNN will be monitoring this situation in eastern Ukraine to see when that crime scene starts being taken seriously, and we will follow the bodies home here to the loved ones, and we'll take you live and they get the ceremony where they get the respect that they are received here in the Netherlands.

I'm joined by Eelco Bosch Van Rosenthal, a journalist here who works with Dutch TV on a program called "News Hour." And we see the show of support here. We know today is the first national day of mourning since 1962, 298 victims, over 100 of them from your country, but of the 17 million.


CUOMO: In the Netherlands, those 200 people represent all 17 million, is that true?

ROSENTHAL: That's true. I mean, when people say that everybody in this country knows somebody that was on that flight, it's no exaggeration, or at least you know somebody who knows somebody. It's not because the Netherlands is such a fairy tale-like village where everyone knows someone. It's just that it's a very small country. And the person living in my parents street in a small village lost his daughter and grandson. A colleague of a colleague lost somebody. And everybody here visiting this monument, I would say, has such stories.

CUOMO: And you have a horror within a horror. If this plane had gone down in the water, it would have been horrible to lose so many lives, but because of how this happened and because it remains unanswered, it takes it to an even different level, doesn't it.

ROSENTHAL: That's the thing. I mean, the plane I think was hit on Thursday. It's Tuesday now and the bodies aren't here yet. You have Dover Air and Dover Air Base where coffins come in way too often in the U.S., but it's an image you're almost used to, which doesn't make it any less horrible. We're not used to it, let alone 40 or 50 coffins come in five days after it happened. And there's still many remains in the field over there and people -- I mean, a couple of families will be comforted in one way that the east liar family members are here, but many others still have no clue what happened to them and even the identifying of the bodies may take weeks or months.

CUOMO: And you say the coffins. The coffins is progress in this situation, and you know I mean that in the most respectful way because of how they had been left there.

ROSENTHAL: Definitely.

CUOMO: How they had been disrespect. How does that change the dynamic of what you've had to watch going on in eastern Ukraine with the disregard for the crime scene and for the bodies?

ROSENTHAL: Well, I'm sure there's a sense of relief. I didn't lose a close family member but I'm sure the family members feel a sense of relief, at least the ones who family members come back here. And the response so far I think has been dignified, a lot of grief but dignified. No immediate calls for revenge, but people do want to know what happened, and they do need an investigation. They saw that people tampered with evidence on the spot and that is frustrating. Perhaps you have shown the foreign minister at the U.N. Security Council who expressed that frustration. And everyone here in Holland feels the frustration. And even when the coffins are back the story hasn't end and the story won't end for months.

CUOMO: So what do you do in terms of what you hear from the sovereign government about how they involve themselves going forward? Yes, they are rightfully in charge of dealing with the bodies and they should be dealing with that and dealing with it very well from what I saw on ground. But in pushing for answers and taking positions that will potentially be in conflict with a major superpower like Russia or maybe they will disagree with what the west is doing or Ukraine. What have you said about how active they want to be in getting to the bottom of this?

ROSENTHAL: Well, that story is starting to develop from here. First the bodies need to be back, and our prime minister has always stressed it. So we didn't even want to talk about further consequences or even talk about blaming Russia or even talking about blaming the separatists because he wanted the bodies here first.

Now you see the debate starting to develop. How do we deal with Russia? Have we perhaps underestimated Russia, Putin? Have we misunderstood Putin, and what does it mean, for instance, for economic ties? The Dutch have been -- the Netherlands has been one of the countries against further sanctions against Russia because we make a lot of money off Russia. That part of the debate is starting to change, but it will take a while.

CUOMO: That's the unspoken truth of so much of Russia, so much of Europe. It's so easy to say in the U.S. and the west we have to tighten the economic sanctions on Russia.

ROSENTHAL: We've had our economic crisis just like the U.S. The U.S. doesn't deal with Russia that much, France deals with, Germany. There's a lot of Russian money in London. The Netherlands, small country, pretty big when it comes to financial and economics. So these are consequences. But things probably cannot and will not stay the same because the country lost 200 nationals, so they demand a change.

CUOMO: And you will have to see an exercise of patience at least immediately, I would suggest, because in all likelihood you don't have everybody back yet and you're going to have to have access to that site and have real forensics experts to go in and do the best they can to completely sweep that scene of anybody's loved one.

ROSENTHAL: Which may take months.

CUOMO: And to do that you'll have to have comfortable relations, so it will be tricky. Thank you so much. I look forward to covering this with you going forward and I appreciate the insight this morning. And I'm sorry for any friends or anyone you know that's been lost in this.

ROSENTHAL: Thank you.

CUOMO: John, to you?

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Chris. "We make a lot of money off of Russia," that comment in that interview there, hang on to that for a while. Why? Because European leaders got together in the wake of the tragedy to discuss expanding sanctions against Russia for backing the rebels in Ukraine who are accused by many now of shooting down flight 17, sanctions with teeth, real repercussions. That is what many expected from the Europeans, but that's not what's happening here, at least so far not at all.

So why not? Why not take a stand? What are they afraid of? Joining us to talk Rana Foroohar, CNN's global economic analyst, and also a very important person at "TIME" magazine. Rana, thanks for being with us here. I think a lot of people in the United States are frankly shocked that after this tragedy, 298 lives lost, they thought they would see action, strong action from the Europeans, finally, but no.

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMY ANALYST: No. And this comes down to economic interests as we were just hearing. Europe gets most of their gas from Russia, 30 percent. It's largest single supplier. They do a lot of trade with Russia. European banks and European multinationals are deeply embedded in that economy, and I think frankly Europeans have been reluctant to pull the plug on those relationships. Everybody thought that this would be the change moment.

BOLDUAN: That's the thing. We've talked about this before as the Ukrainian crisis was unfolding. When are they going to do something, are they going to do something. But if this tragedy can't move those countries together to actually take a hardline against Russia and say we won't take it anymore, what is?

FOROOHAR: What will? And that's the big question. You know, if you look back, Europeans have a history of coming together in good times. Everybody was on board with the euro in 1999 and not so much with the European debt cries a couple years ago. And what tends to happen is each individual country has their economic relationship that they are trying to protect. Europe has always had trouble coming together as a bloc and standing firm in these types of situations. I do think though that there's a real conversation going on now in Europe about energy policy.

BOLDUAN: That's what this comes down to.

FOROOHAR: That's what this comes down to. And really the sanctions already in place against individual and companies have hurt Russia at the margins, no question, and growth is below one percent right now. But in order to really kick Russia into a true recession and really cripple their economy you have to put embargoes on energy. And that also in turn hurts the European countries. But it's not impossible. You're already beginning to hear talks about certain kinds of plans that could move Europe to more energy independence. Ultimately the U.S. might be able to play a part in that, but not immediately.

BERMAN: But there's such reluctance here, there's such economic fear. You see it in front France. They have sold warships to Russia, which they haven't delivered yet. But the Russia president says we're going to go ahead and deliver these warships -- the French president. The French president says I'm going to deliver the warships. Why? Because if we didn't, it would cost up $1 billion.

BOLDUAN: Tone deaf seems kind.

FOROOHAR: Absolutely, and the French have a bad history of being in bed with countries doing bad things during these types of crises. I think it's not really significant to the Russia economy in the sense that they are an arms exporter themselves, but it is really symbolic. Really you don't want to be selling warships to Russia at a moment like this.

BOLDUAN: If the United States had closer ties, if the United States was as tied to Russia economically like the European countries, do you think the United States would be making as strong a stand as they are now? Is everybody so economically focused, motivated?

FOROOHAR: If we were getting 30 percent our gas from Russia, yes, I think it would be trickier. This is one of the reasons we keep hearing more and more about energy independence and the U.S. shale boom. It's incredibly valuable. The U.S. has become the go-to country in terms of energy supplies because of issues like this.

BERMAN: Sometimes sacrifice takes sacrifice, which I think some of the European leaders need to be thinking about.

BOLDUAN: Great point, John.

BERMAN: Rana Foroohar, great to have you here with us, appreciate it.


BERMAN: Let's take a look at some of the other news today. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone, 14 minutes past the hour. Here's a look at your headlines. A split decision from two federal appeals courts on a key element of Obamacare. One ruling says insurance subsidies can only be awarded through state-run health exchanges, not the 36 administered by the federal government. Hours later a second court ruled people can get subsidized coverage through both insurance marketplaces. The dispute is likely to be decided by the Supreme Court. Count on CNN to have more on this. We'll have more ahead on our program here.

A political outsider now a step closer to the seat at table in Washington. Former Reebok CEO David Purdue just defeated veteran Congressman Jack Kingston in a Republican Senate primary runoff in Georgia. Purdue will now face the Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in November in a race to succeed George Senator -- Georiga Senator Saxby Chambliss, who is retiring.

Some new developments for you into the investigation of the illegal chokehold death in New York City. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton now ordering a thorough review of the NYPD's training procedures after the death of Eric Gardner. That man was killed in a chokehold and died while police attempted to arrest him Thursday. The review will focus on the use of force and how officers are trained for a takedown. And word is also that Bill Bratton, who's a former LAPD chief, is going to send some of the officers out to Los Angeles for training there because he feels that some of the training practices there have been updated.

That's a look at your headlines, guys.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Michaela. Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to have much more on the tragedy of MH-17 but, first, the FAA has put at least a temporary ban on flights into and out of Tel Aviv after a missile lands quite near the airport there, but is the United States government about to reverse that decision? We're going to go back live to Wolf Blitzer on the ground in Jerusalem for the very latest


BLITZER: Welcome back to NEW DAY. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting live from Jerusalem. The Secretary of State John Kerry, he's here in Jerusalem right now. He's working on a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. Let's see how much progress he can achieve.

All this comes after U.S. and European airline carriers have canceled all flights to and from Israel after a rocket from Hamas in Gaza fell about a mile or so away from the country's main international airport. That would be Ben Gurion International Airport outside of Tel Aviv. The FAA instructing all American carriers to suspend service for 24 hours, but U.S. Airways now says it plans to resume flights to Tel Aviv tomorrow pending FAA approval.

Let's dig a little bit deeper. Miles O'Brien is joining us, he's our CNN aviation analyst. So the next few hours the FAA has to decide to lift the restriction or to keep going. What's your analysis, Miles?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it's a war zone, Wolf. That's what we're talking about here. There were Hamas rockets that landed a mile from the Ben Gurion airport, and that's a great concern.

This is a threat we thought more about historically. This is the shoulder-fired heat-seeking missile kind of threat that we're talking about. When aircraft are on short final, or just taking off, low to the ground and slow, that's been the concern over the years. What's kind of interesting is the Israelis have responded to this because they have been targeted. They were targeted in Mombassa, Kenya, in 2002 and have equipped on most of their aircraft, or they claim all of their aircraft, with anti-heat seeking missile technology.

BLITZER: The missiles though -- the rocket that came in about a mile or so from Ben Gurion airport, that came in from Gaza. It was not one of these shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles; it certainly wasn't a much more sophisticated surface-to-air missile that brought down the Malaysia flight.

And the Israelis are pretty upset. They think that it's very secure to fly into Ben Gurion. They clearly hope the FAA reconsiders, although they acknowledge that there was one of these rockets that did land about a mile or so away.

So what are the chances of these rockets that come in, the Iron Dome has intercepted about 80 or 90 percent of them. What's the chances it could hit a commercial aircraft?

O'BRIEN: I think there's no question, Wolf, the Iron Dome, the Israeli missile defense system, makes Ben Gurion probably as safe as any airport in the world despite the tough neighborhood that it is in. But coming on the heels of what we saw in the Ukraine, airlines throughout the world, regulatory bodies, are rethinking what their risk levels should and should not be as they fly into these dangerous parts of the world.

Should their aircraft be equipped, as El Al aircraft are, with the flare devices which can spoof a heat-seeking missile? And you're right, those rockets were not nearly as sophisticated as a heat- seeker, but sometimes when particularly a civilian airliner is targeted, as we would expect that to be the case in the case of terrorists, sometimes you get lucky and you have a really bad day.

BLITZER: That's certainly one of the concerns. The three major U.S. carriers flying to Israel -- U.S. Airways, United, and Delta -- I heard reports, I don't know if you had, that some of the crew members were not necessarily thrilled about flying into Israel at a time when these rockets and missiles, about 2,000 of them, have come from Hamas and Gaza into Israel. So they were asking volunteers, but there were plenty of pilots and co-pilots, crew members, who were ready to volunteer and do this flight from New York or Philadelphia to Tel Aviv.

How much of a problem is that for Delta, let's say, U.S. Airways and United?

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, I think, it's certainly up to -- we should always allow our flight crews to make these decisions, to either not fly or not fly (sic) into particular areas. The captain should have that kind of authority, and if they don't want to fly that particular flight, they should be entitled to do so.

A lot of this has to do with transparency, Wolf. When somebody is flying into Ben Gurion airport, it's no secret that you're flying into an area that has an ongoing conflict. It has rockets in the area. And also, on the other side of it, has a tremendous security system, an apparatus, intelligence on the ground as well as the Iron Dome as it's called, the missile defense system. So some of it is just making sure that the crew and the passengers know what they're getting into, which was not the case for the Malaysian flight over the Ukraine. People on that flight didn't really know where they were and what the risks were.

BLITZER: What the Israelis are now doing, Miles, and you'll be interested, and you have to get a map of Israel. In the southern town of Aylot, right down the southernmost part of Israel near Sinai, they have a large Air Force base, but it is being reconverted, part of it, for commercial aircraft I think within the next day or two if the FAA keeps this ban on flights coming in and out of Ben Gurion airport. They're going to make available this new lawn, this major air base in the southern part of the country outside of Aylot for United, U.S. Airways, Delta, if they want to fly there, and then bus the passengers from there up to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or someplace else.

I think that is the works right now, not only for U.S. carriers but European carriers like Air France or Lufthansa, if they want to fly, continuing servicing Israel. Let's see what happens to Ben Gurion airport in the meantime.

Miles, thanks very much. Let's go back to Kate and John in New York. There's no doubt, Kate and John, that, from the Israeli perspective, a lot of Israelis are very angry about this FAA decision. They say in effect it amounts to a victory for Hamas.

BOLDUAN: It doesn't seem at this point, Wolf, either that the FAA is going to be ready to change their decision quite yet, no matter what Israel says. Wolf, thanks so much. We'll be getting back to you.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we have two huge issues on the president's plate, the Mid-East crisis, as Wolf was talking about right there, and also this shootdown of Flight 17. The White House Deputy National Security Adviser is going to be joining us to talk about how they are responding to bolt situations.

BERMAN: And the latest assessment of President Obama's performance. How do Americans think he's handling these major issues affecting so much of the world?


PEREIRA: Almost half past the hour. Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here is a look at your headlines.

Two flights carrying some 40 bodies from the MH-17 disaster are in the air on their way to the Netherlands. Relatives and members of the Dutch royal family are on hand for the arrival of those planes at an air base in Eindhoven. U.S. officials are working off the theory from pro-Russian rebels shot down that jet by mistake. Right now the plane's black boxes are in the hands of U.K. investigators. Intelligence shows Russia is still sending equipment and weapons to separatists -- as many as 20 vehicles Tuesday alone.