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Search for Malaysian Plane Continues; Obamacare Enrollments May Reach 7 Million; Convicted Israeli Spy May Be Released; GM CEO to Testify Before Congress about Faulty Vehicles

Aired April 1, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Jim, information has been hard to come by. And then every time we get it, it seems to contradict what we learned before. Thank you for that. Kate, over to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's continue the discussion right where you and Jim left off, Chris. We're joined now by David Soucie, a CNN safety analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash." He's a former FAA inspector. And Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general at the U.S. Department of Transportation, now an attorney who represents victims and families after airplane disasters. Good morning again to both of you.

Let's pick up right where Jim and Chris were talking about. When you look at the transcript and the fact that we now think we know what the final communication was from the cockpit, just those words don't tell us much though, it is baffling to me it has taken this long to get this final communication right. What do you take from this transcript?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I really do see something significant in the transcripts. When I look at the fact that every single time there was a command given, every single time a number was given, a transponder code, 2157 on the transponder code, he reads back his number, flight number, and that transponder code, every single time in the transcript except the last time.

BOLDUAN: What does that mean?

SOUCIE: Three possibilities I'm looking at. One is the transmission was interrupted midsentence -- unlikely because there would have been other interference in there. The other would be at that point the pilot -- 12 minutes before the last one. So at that time he could have said I'm going to take control of the radios or given the radios to the co-pilot. So I think that's probably the most likely. Or the other that there was some message getting communicated which is a kind of conspiracy theory and I don't think that's worth getting --

BOLDUAN: Let's not go there. Enough people are doing that without our help.

SOUCIE: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Mary, I want to get your take on this. It's important -- I think it's important to point out, the reason we are dissecting this is because there's very little information that the Malaysian authorities are handing out. So when they give something out like this, you have to take a look at it as closely as possible. One thing that still is also confusing to me is we're now also not sure who said that final communication.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Exactly. Three things jump out at me. One is the identification of who said it. And what you do in an investigation is you have persons familiar with the voices identify them, and you do that right off the bat, People who have flown with them, other persons in the company who are familiar with these two pilots voices. And you identify that right away. You can actually on the cockpit voice recorder tell exactly who it is based on where the microphone picks it up. So they didn't do that right off the bat.

Two, they made the transcript secretive and they told the families they'd never release it, and now they release it. So we're looking in there for clues as to why they're saying it's a crime. But we don't find any evidence in there. There's just a complete dearth of evidence in there.

And so finally, we're left to be Sigmund Freud about what is the meaning here. I agree with David. This pilot is very precise until the end, but I pick up irritation. I think the air traffic controller was garbled a few times and the pilots had to say again, repeat please. They gave their call sign waiting for further instructions. So the truth be told, who knows what's going on, but I see no evidence of a crime.

BOLDUAN: When you say right off the bat you bring in people who are familiar with the voices to identify who makes that last communication, the fact that we're now 25 days in and they still aren't sure, is that concerning to you, Mary?

SCHIAVO: Yes, because it's such a basic evidentiary thing to do. You have to know who's talking. And it's pretty easy as investigations go bringing in persons to listen and identify who it is. That doesn't even take high-powered equipment. It takes old fashioned gum-shoeing. Go out and get the witnesses and bring them in.

BOLDUAN: David, another thing coming out today, "Wall Street Journal" reporting that the shift in the search zone, really the shift in the investigation, it came simply because the investigative bodies were finally brought together to work -- it sounds like there's stove- piping going on in this investigation. I'm afraid to even say that, but does it concern you that it took so long for these groups to actually be talking to each other?

SOUCIE: You know, in an investigation, in anything really, you don't know what you don't know.


SOUCIE: And if they didn't know that they needed that expertise, then they wouldn't have asked for it. And they don't know what capabilities are out there. They're not really familiar with this type of search. Only a few people in the world are. So when you think about criticizing them, I've been criticized for not criticizing them, but out of having been there, I understand what they're going through. Like I say, you don't know what you don't know. And once you know, and you start bringing in, you start accepting help and being humble about it and saying I just don't know. I need some help. I think that they've reached that point. I really do.

BOLDUAN: David raises an important point in all of this, Mary, is the criticism towards the Malaysian authorities, is it fair criticism coming from pretty much everywhere, or is this criticism taking the focus off the main goal, which is simply looking to find the plane first and dealing with what happened in the cockpit once we have more data?

SCHIAVO: I think the criticism is really just out of frustration. Granted, big, large scale air crash investigations take so many assets and they're so comp indicated. And you really learn, as David knows too, you learn by doing one after another. Case after case, you sort of learn things. And it's not speculation. You draw on your experience to know where to go in an investigation. And they didn't have that experience. Like I said, I don't see a lot of the -- you know, the jumping to conclusions, definitely occur on investigation, et cetera. But now that they have the joint task force with Australia, I do think they're reaching out for help. I just hope too many pieces of evidence haven't floated away.

BOLDUAN: That's a very important point, the one thing that could be the biggest problem here is just the time the passed before the left hand was clearly talking to the right. Mary Schiavo, David Soucie, thank you guys very much. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, we do have breaking news. CNN has learned the U.S. plans to release an Israeli spy named Jonathan Pollard sometime in the next two weeks. The move will be part of a deal to restart the Middle East peace process. Let's go live to the Pentagon and CNN's Barbara Starr. Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. This is all according to Israeli officials for now who say Pollard will be released before the Passover holiday which begins April 14. Who is Jonathan Pollard? For those who do not remember, he was a Navy civilian intelligence analyst arrested in 1985 serving a life sentence for passing secrets to Israel, for spying for Israel. This was one of the most contentious espionage cases in U.S. history because Israel, a close ally, has wanted Pollard back for years.

What apparently is going on now, in return for Israeli concessions, for a Middle East peace agreement with the Palestinians, the U.S. has been talking to Israel about Pollard. Israel wants Pollard back. Would the U.S. give him up in order to get a Middle East peace agreement?

There are a lot of hints behind the scenes talking to U.S. officials over the last couple of days that discussions at least are in the works. But there is a big wrinkle here. Many members of the administration, in the CIA, at the Pentagon, across the national security community, have been adamant for years, do not release Pollard. They believe he's a spy and she should serve his life sentence, many of them very much objecting to it. Now the question on the table, will the White House go ahead and give him back to Israel.

CUOMO: A lot of ordinary people will be surprised to hear that the U.S. is holding an Israeli spy in the first place. Thank you very much for the reporting.

We also have more breaking news this morning. CNN has learned White House officials are saying Obamacare signups are on track to reach their goal of 7 million. Open enrollment ended yesterday. CNN's senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is live from the White House with more. So they made the 7 million, and if so, that's great because -- Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's good because of those dark days that occurred back in October and November. Remember, Chris, the president almost pulled the plug on But you're right, a senior administration official says they believe after that surge on enrollment deadline day that Obamacare is now on track to hit 7 million people signing up, maybe even go past that.

And all of this coming after what was a huge crushing day for interest in in these call centers. Just want to tell you, 4.8 million people visited according to this administration official, and there were 2 million calls to these call centers where people can get help signing up. So all of that giving some optimism that they're going to hit that 7 million person target and go past it.

And I just want to point out, if you go to this morning, the site is different. You can't just go in and enroll in insurance starting today. You have to have started that process before midnight last night. But people who still want to sign up for insurance through the Medicaid program or CHIP, they can still do that, or if they started the process before midnight, they can do that as well. Over here at the White House, Chris, this is no April Fool's joke, or at least they hope not. They appear to have hit that target.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much, Jim. We appreciate it. Let's take a look at your other headlines. House lawmakers THIS MORNING are expected to give final passage to legislation providing aid to Ukraine and imposing tighter sanctions on Russia. This comes as Vladimir Putin is said to be pulling some Russian troops back from his border with Ukraine. Nearly 50,000 are deployed there. At the opening of the NATO today in Brussels, the secretary general says they cannot confirm Russia is withdrawing any of its forces from that border.

New tension this morning between North Korea and South Korea now that on unmanned drone has crashed on an island along the two nations' disputed border. The drone was said to be 10 feet long with a small camera attached. The crash happened hours after north and south exchanged artillery rounds.

In Washington today a closed door meeting between lawmakers and Secret Service Julia Pierson to discuss reforms after another black eye for the agency. Last week three agents were sent home for the president's overseas trip after one was passed out apparently inebriated. That follows a car crash during a detail last month, and of course the 2012 scandal involving agents and sex workers in Columbia.

For the first time Asiana Airlines is acknowledging that the probable cause of that fatal crash in San Francisco last July partly due to pilot error, this according to a filing with regulators. The airline is also blaming a faulty warning system for the crash, saying that the bad software design did not alert the crew. However, Boeing says the airplane is its systems were functioning as expected. So that is a bit of a development there from Asiana.

BOLDUAN: Michaela, thanks so much. Let's take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, GM's CEO is set to apologize again for the huge recall as she heads to Capitol Hill. But is it enough for the families of those killed because of faulty ignition switches? We're going to speak with the mothers of a teen who are now suing GM.

CUOMO: And on inside politics, the Obamacare magic 7 million number, did they reach it? And where is the magic, is it in signup or young signup? The real deal ahead.


CUOMO: In just a few hours, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will go before Congress to answer for her company's recall for millions of cars with faulty ignition switches. Those switches have been linked to 13 deaths. And 16 year old Amber Marie Rose was the first of those victims. Her 2005 Chevy Cobalt slammed into a tree, and when it did, her ignition was off, her airbag disabled. Laura Christian is Amber's birth mother and Terry Dibattista is her adopted mother. They're going to listen to Barra's testimony, and joining us now from Washington. It's good to have both of you with us. And just to explain to the audience, Laura, you became reunited with your birth daughter a year before her death, and obviously, Terry, you had been raising her all along. And now unfortunately you two are united in your sorrow over what happened here. Is that all correct?

LAURA CHRISTIAN, BIRTH MOTHER OF AMBER MARIE ROSE: Absolutely. Absolutely. We were reunited one day exactly to the day she day.

CUOMO: One day?

CHRISTIAN: I'm sorry. One year.

CUOMO: Good. I feel good about being right for it, but was really matters here is it is a horrible situation to bring you together, especially after reuniting so shortly before her death. And we can see by your t-shirts this has now become a cause about who you are. So let's talk about why it matters. You got to meet with the CEO of GM. She wasn't there when this was first starting, the situation, but she is apologizing for it now. Do either of you care about the apology?

CHRISTIAN: Quite frankly, no. Nothing is going to bring back Amber or the other loves one who have lost their lives. CUOMO: Another clarification, the suit that you had against GM had been settled. You now want to set aside that lawsuit because you believe the new information about the switches demand a new look at the situation and what took your daughter's life, is that correct?

CHRISTIAN: That is correct. In actuality, I did not settle at that time. That was not something I was looking at. But at that point, the information about this had not become public. We did not know that GM knew that these, you know, ignition switches were faulty, that they were defective. And it's only now recently that they're finally bringing this out.

CUOMO: Now, when this happened and your daughter's life was taken, part of the pushback on the lawsuit was, well, hold on a second, we don't know what happened here. There were extenuating circumstances. Your daughter was alleged to have been under the influence at the time. She was traveling at a high rate of speed. Do you think it matters what your daughter was doing or do you think the only thing that matters was how the car reacted to an accident?

TERRY DIBATTISTA, ADOPTED MOTHER OF AMBER MARIE ROSE: To be honest, the car didn't know that she was drinking or anything like that. The fact of the matter is we bought the car for the safety features. She made a bad decision, but because of the car and the airbags not deploying, that's why she's dead.

CHRISTIAN: The EMTs told us that had her airbags deployed that she would have been alive. She may have been injured, but she would have been alive today.

DIBATTISTA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: And hearing those kinds of words, obviously are going to stay with you for the rest of your life and carry this cause as if they were your child. We get that. And then it becomes, why did this happen? Do you believe that GM made a money decision based on whether or not to change these money switches weighing how many people might get hurt or die versus what it's going to cost us?

CHRISTIAN: Absolutely.

DIBATTISTA: Absolutely.

CHRISTIAN: Back in 2005, I did some research that showed that these cars had issues, power steering, fuel pump, and something to do with the airbags back them. And what I had learned that there was an acceptable loss of life, basically if that recall cost them so many millions to settle, just a few other death cases cost them so much less, then it became a business decision for them.

CUOMO: What does that mean to you?

CHRISTIAN: To me, it means that they don't value the customers they say they do. They're not looking at this from a human perspective, that these are real people and real loved ones. If their children had been involved in any of these accidents or, god forbid, that one of their children was hurt or dead, I can guarantee you this would have happened a whole lot sooner.

DIBATTISTA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Terry, what Lauren says is probably 100 percent accurate. They actually do value human life, they put a dollar figure on it to figure out what it may cost them. And when I say they, do you believe it goes beyond GM? It seems like we hear about it on a regular basis where it's Toyota or Firestone, or the Pinto back in the day, that car companies have been allowed to make money calculations and wind up just dealing with the eventualities.

DIBATTISTA: I totally agree. I think they have put their bottom line over anyone's life and the safety of anyone. And it's being proven that this is what's more important. And that is not right. We buy these vehicles because we honored GM and we trusted in them, and you can better believe it won't happen again.

CHRISTIAN: That, if you don't mind. This goes to your point that it's not just GM but it's other car manufacturers as well. When for instance with GM, if they made $3 billion last year and the ultimate fine they would pay a $35 million, that seems like a reasonable thing for them to go for, you know, trying to cover it up. There needs to be reform regarding that and there needs to be reform the way the data's reported. Regarding Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal's legislation, I fully support. I think we need to make sure that that goes through.

CUOMO: I think the question is whether or not politicians are the right end point for this. They're probably not unaware of how companies operate. There's certainly a lot of lobbying dollars that go to politicians. The question is, will it become a criminal investigation.

Let's end on this. You make a very important point. This is not about money. It's about life, and there is no price on life, let along someone so young. Tell the audience who your daughter was. Amber Rose is not just a statistic. She was a young girl with a future. Tell us about her.

DIBATTISTA: Amber was 16 years old. She had -- she was very smart. She had already taken her GED. She was working full time. She was -- the day that she died, she due to get a promotion, she was doing so well. She was going to be starting college in the fall to support what she was doing, and she actually was working with Laura at a title company. And she had her whole life ahead of her. She was full of life, and everybody loved her.

CUOMO: She was blessed that she had two moms in her life who loved her very much and were supporting her, and you continue to do that to this day by taking up the cause that you believe cost her life. So thank you for joining us. Let us know how it goes going forward. We'll stay on the story.

CHRISTIAN: Thank you.

DIBATTISTA: Thank you. CUOMO: All right. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Chris, thank you.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, what can satellite photos of the Air France crash tell us about the disappearance of flight 370? Our satellite expert is going to take a closer look at that.

And also ahead, is there a job in Congress that's more attractive to Paul Ryan than being president?


PEREIRA: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY. Let's take a look at your headlines.

A sudden shift in the final words that we heard from the cockpit on Malaysia flight 370. CNN has obtained a transcript of the last communication showing the final words were, "Goodnight Malaysian flight 370." Who spoke those final words is still unclear. In the meantime, a report this morning suggests crews spent days searching in the wrong area because of poor coordination.

Breaking news, CNN has learned the U.S. is make plans to release Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. intelligence analyst jailed for nearly 30 years for spying for Israel. His release would be part of a deal to try and push forward the Mideast peace process. Pollard is likely to be set free sometime within the next two weeks before Passover.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifies before the House today. She's expected to address why it took the company a decade to recall some 2.2 billion vehicles due to faulty admission switches. And 13 deaths and 31 crashes have been linked to that defect. Meanwhile, GM is recalling 1.3 million more vehicles for a sudden loss of power steering. That brings GM's total to nearly 7 million recall for various issues this year.

The death toll from a massive landslide in Washington state is expected to go up again. Right now it stands at 24. Many of the dead have been identified, heartbreakingly, including this four-month-old baby. The body of her grandmother was found just a few feet away. And 22 people now listed as missing. Most of them lived on the very same road. So again, when you talk about the impact of what this has done to that community, a very small mountain community is the Cascade mountains --

BOLDUAN: Wiped out.

PEREIRA: It's not just knowing somebody that was affected. More than half of your community is gone.

CUOMO: And it's important to stay on it because the need will be great going down the road.

PEREIRA: Absolutely. CUOMO: You get over that wave of wow, look what happened, and people forget. They have to rebuild and that's when they need help the most. Thanks for keeping that in the public's head.

Let's get to INSIDE POLITICS. Mr. John King, J.K., how are you?

JOHN KING, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm doing all right. My Red Sox are not going to be undefeated.

BOLDUAN: It's like ground hog day with you two.

KING: It's 161-1, that's what I'm going for here. Driving our day INSIDE POLITICS are those big Obamacare enrollment numbers. With me this morning to help get through this and share the reporting is Nia- Maliki Henderson of the "Washington Post," Peter Hamby of CNN. Let's start with these numbers, and let's show our viewers. Again, Republicans are going to say they're cooking the books or we don't know how many of these people had health insurance before. But look at this number. In the first month while we were going through the Obamacare website disaster, 106,000 people signed up. They are going to hit, maybe even surpass by a little bit 7 million by their deadline last night. Eight or 10 states are going to extend the deadline for several more weeks. So when it comes to the numbers, they got there.