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Fort Hood Shooting; Missing Plane

Aired April 3, 2014 - 21:00   ET


Michael Smerconish,

Xanderia Morris, Alonzo Lunsford, Mark Kimmitt, Robert Goyer, Greg Stone

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Michael Smerconish. Tonight, sources are telling us to standby for new information in the search for missing Flight 370. As soon as we get it, we'll bring it to you. We'll also look at the way that Malaysian Airlines is now beefing up its cockpit security and who better to address that subject, then the widow of one of the pilots who is flying United Flight 175 on September 11. She's advocating for even greater security on American planes.

But, I want to start with the tragedy at Fort Hood. We have just learned new information on the shooter. In a few moments, you'll hear exclusively from the neighbor who confronted the shooter's wife when she heard the news. And later, I'll talk to Alonzo Lunsford who knows the pain of a Fort Hood shooting all too well since he was one of Major Nidal Hasan's victims in 2009.

We still don't know the full picture of the alleged shooter's mental health. But as investigators assemble those facts, we do know that the mental health of our returning veterans is a matter of great concern. And here's just one reason why. Many of our veterans come home with posttraumatic stress disorder and substance issues and quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the law. One response has been the establishment of veteran's treatment courts, the first of which was created by Judge Robert Russell in Buffalo.

The idea is that veterans entangled in the justice system should appear in front of judges who have a unique understanding of their problems. There are now a few hundred of these courts across the country. And one such judge told me that he often sees cases where veterans have been over prescribed opiate-based pain killers by physicians who are not monitoring the soldiers to make sure that they don't become addicts. The soldier who'd becomes addicted when he returns often can't get more of the prescription and then turns to heroin. Such an addiction causes them to get kicked out of the military with the dishonorable discharge and then go out into the civilian community where they steal to support the habit and are labeled criminal junkies.

This judge told me it's a vicious irony as the soldier who served this country honorably is turned into a drug addict by his country and then tossed aside. Consider this. One in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. One in six veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from a substance abuse issue and research continues to draw a link between substance abuse and combat-related mental illness. These veteran treatment courts are trying to fix this cycle. They combined by-weekly court appearances with treatment for substance abuse and mental illness essentially putting the pieces back together in a structured environment.

Again, we don't know the motivation of the latest Fort Hood shooter nor his complete medical history. But any tragedy such as this is an opportunity to evaluate the unique circumstances faced by our service personnel as they reacclimate after oversee service.

Now, let's get started.

First Off tonight. He is not just a shooter, has a name and a face, Specialist Ivan Lopez was 34 years old, a husband, a father. Military officials say that he had a history of psychiatric disorders and was receiving treatment. We will never know exactly what was in his mind when he went to Fort Hood yesterday. What we do know is that around 4 p.m., he walked into a unit building and open-fire. And then he drove to another building and open-fire again. And when a female military officer approached Lopez, he shot himself in the head. That's what military officials are reporting. By then, Lopez had killed three people and wounded 16 others, all of them army personnel, his fellow soldiers.

We're learning who some of the victims are. Sergeant Timothy Owens, the soldier on the left died in the attack. He survived by his wife, his mother, and his two children. One of the wounded is Major Patrick Miller, a graduate of Syracuse University.

Tonight, there is some good news in this terrible story. Six of the wounded have been discharged from hospitals. Specialist Lopez was new to Fort Hood. His wife was at home yesterday in their new apartment when she heard that there was a shooting at the base, she was, as you'd imagine, decide herself with worry.

Xanderia Morris, a neighbor, who she'd recently met, was with her when she got the horrible news that her husband was the shooter. Xanderia Morris joins me tonight for an exclusive interview. Mrs. Morris, please walk me through your day yesterday and tell me what occurred.

XANDERIA MORRIS, NEIGHBOR: Well, yesterday, myself and some neighbors were around the courtyard discussing the events that just occurred and I just so happen to turn and look towards my building and I see Mrs. Lopez exiting her apartment with her daughter and she seemed as, as if she was distraught. And so, maving (ph) at necessary person, I just went up to her, you know, to try to assure her that everything is going to be OK and I walked her down to the courtyard and we all stood out there. And ...

SMERCONISH: In other words, at that moment, the word was out that there had been this terrible shooting but the news had not yet come ... MORRIS: Yes.

SMERCONISH: ... that her husband was the shooter?



MORRIS: So, she made a phone call then some friends or maybe they were family, they came over to console her as well. We were still on the courtyard for maybe about another hour and a half. And so, she decided she wanted to go up to our apartment to get something, and as soon as she made it up to the stairs by my apartment door, that's when they announced the name of the shooter which is Ivan Lopez, her husband, and she just broke down. And I did as anybody else would do. I ran and I comforted her and I escorted her into my apartment and I sit on the couch.

SMERCONISH: Where was the Lopez daughter at that moment and what was she doing?

MORRIS: Everyone came into my apartment. The little girl, he was in the courtyard with everyone and then when I brought her mom in, everyone else flocked in, you know, they all came in.

SMERCONISH: Did the daughter seem to comprehend with the news in the way that the mother had? I know that she's young.

MORRIS: No, no. I am glad that she didn't, you know, she didn't understand what was going on.

SMERCONISH: I understand that you learn from the wife that he had come home for lunch yesterday but that there was nothing untoward, there was nothing unusual that had occurred.


SMERCONISH: How familiar were you with Ivan Lopez? How often had you seen him, what were his mannerisms, was there anything unusual about him that you can share with us?

MORRIS: There wasn't anything unusual about him, you know. We were just neighbors. We were passersby's with smile and wave at each other and that's about it. They all -- the couple seem like they were extremely happy. They were always smiling and laughing and I can hear the toddler, you know, from upstairs, you know, running through the apartment playing.

SMERCONISH: After the news came and his wife realized that he was the shooter, did she say anything? Did she express shock? Did she say there were signs with -- there was a ...

MORRIS: She didn't say anything. She was just, you know, she was just emotional. She was a typical wife, grieving.

SMERCONISH: I take it that law enforcement then came on the scene and began questioning her. I understand that she's been cooperative with authorities.


SMERCONISH: Anything else that you think is relevant Mrs. Morris that we ought to know in terms of that unique interaction that you had yesterday?

MORRIS: I really don't, you know, I really don't have anything else to say on the matter because I'm still in outside and looking in.

SMERCONISH: I understand. You know, our heartbreaks not only for the victims, but you referenced the daughter, my heartbreaks for her and for the wife frankly.

MORRIS: Exactly. Yes.

SMERCONISH: For all of this (inaudible).

MORRIS: As a parent. Yes, as a parent. As a parent, you know, that's the last thing you would want for your child to see, you know, to see the other parent and all of a sudden your child will not see this other parent ever again. It's heartbreaking, I mean, my heart goes out to her and to all the other soldiers who, you know, who just went through this ordeal.

SMERCONISH: We agree on that for sure. Ms. Xanderia Morris, thank you so much for sharing your story.

The commanding general at Fort Hood said today, he believes psychiatric issues were a causal factor in this tragedy. My next guest is retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt. He is the former director of plans and strategy at Central Command. General Kimmit, thank you so much for your time. Is it unusual to the extent this could be a case of PTSD, would it be unusual that you would see it in case where there isn't combat service?

FMR. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, (RET.): Well, first of all, I think that your prior segment was instructive in the sense that I think it might be little too early to either rush to judgment or conclusions because with just so much that we don't know about what's going on here. We've had a significant number of soldiers over the year that have been diagnosed with PTSD but that's takes a trained clinician to actually make that determination.

SMERCONISH: General, is there something about the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan that lends itself to this diagnosis as compared to say the Vietnam era or is it just that we have a far better understanding in recognition than we did in the 1960s.

KIMMITT: No. Mike, I think this goes back for years and years. This is nothing unusual to the battlefield. It was called battlefield shock, battlefield fatigue in the old days. We saw this in Vietnam. We've seen this throughout the history warfare in -- warfare is an unnatural act, some people respond to it in manners that manifest themselves in PTSD. I think the fact that we're seeing so much with this in Iraq and Afghanistan isn't the severity of the combat, it is the fact that we had better diagnostic tools than we've had in the past.

SMERCONISH: In other words, if we had been able to recognize these signs in World War II amongst the greatest generation chances are there would have been a similar number of diagnoses made.

KIMMITT: Oh, I'd see even more. The battle, the combat to sustained amount of combat that we saw in places such as Korea in World War II first surpasses anything that we've seen inside Iraq or Afghanistan. It was called battle fatigue then, you were taken off the line, as soon as you started exhibiting normal characteristics, you were put back on the line, and I think that's one of the reasons. They are the greatest generation because they withstood so much sustained combat over the years. But probably had exactly the same types of experiences that we now categorize medically as PTSD.

SMERCONISH: General, I hear your point and I agree with it that there's so much that we still don't know about this case. But I want to ask with regard to this individual. In your mind, in your -- with your level of expertise, is his title commensurate with his age and his length of service? Is there anything unusual in that?

KIMMITT: Not really. What we saw as a case here where you have a gentleman that spent many years in the Puerto Rican National Guard then he came into active duty. When he came into active duty, he was immediately promoted private first class. Yes, he was a 34-year-old specialist, that's somewhat unusual, but I think it's reflective of the fact that he spent so much time in the National Guard before he came on to active duty.

SMERCONISH: I know that many are wondering why Fort Hood for the second time in just a couple of years.

KIMMITT: Yeah. Again, I think that is reflective of the size and the population of Fort Hood. It's the largest base that we have in the military. It has the largest population that we have anywhere in the U.S. military. I think it's just a sheer numbers and certainly nothing that comes out of the water in Killeen or the conditions down there. These are completely different sets of leaders, completely different units, then that were there in the time of Major Nidal Hasan. So I don't think that there's anything that can be conclusively pointed at Fort Hood as either leading towards or aggravating the factors to lead to this situation.

SMERCONISH: Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, thank you sir for your service and for your time tonight.


SMERCONISH: Yesterday shooting brings back painful memories for my next guest. He was shot multiple times during the first incident at Fort Hood. He says something could have been done to lower the risk of this happening again. And the ticking clock in the race to find Flight 370.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SMERCONISH: This poster is from the Real Warriors Campaign. It's meant to encourage servicemen and women to seek help for mental health concerns. It's part of the defense department's outreach to identify those who might be experiencing PTSD or other psychological problems. How we serve the health needs of our soldiers returning from war is our unfinished story tonight.

Again, there are more questions than answers tonight about the exact nature of Specialist Ivan Lopez has mental health issues. The shooting has reopened questions about how well the military supports the mental health of its troops. For many, the first thing they thought when they heard about yesterday's shooting at Fort Hood was, "not again."

The 2009 mass shooting by Major Nidal Hasan is still a fresh memory to those who lived through it. 13 people died, 32 were wounded. Another instance of a soldier turning on his fellow soldiers, Hasan was tried convicted and is awaiting execution. A chilling fact that we've just learned, Lopez and Hasan bought the guns that they used in their killing sprees at the same gun store Guns Galore near Killeen, Texas according to U.S. law enforcement officials.

My next guest was one of Hasan's victims. Former Army Staff Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford is joining me now. Mr. Lunsford, you just heard me make reference to the death sentence that Hasan was given. Is that ever going to get carried out?

FMR. ARMY STAFF SGT. ALONZO LUNSFORD: I personally don't think that they're going to put him to death. No. I don't think it's going to be carried out.

SMERCONISH: And why not and do you think he should be put to death.

LUNSFORD: Well, it's not going to be carried out because he's a parent for (inaudible), one. Two is because if you look at the time span that has occur with the trial and how things would be done right now, Hasan is an embarrassment to our military. He is an embarrassment to our country. And toward the whole course of the trial, a lot of times, he was treated as if he was a victim and we would just -- I'm not into that factor. And that's one of the things where I'm very, very upset about. But the good thing about this is that, at this point, at the end of day, I get to go home and lay down in my home beside my wife and look at my children.

He gets to hug a cold (inaudible). He would never see the light at day, he would not even feel a warmth from a woman's body and he will live the rest of his days wherein (ph) he is a failure in his active Jihad or whatever you want to call it.

SMERCONISH: Mr. Lunsford, you were shot seven times and yet I understand that perhaps the most permanent of your injuries is actually the PTSD from which you suffer. How does that impact your life on a day to day basis?

LUNSFORD: Well, it does to have altered in factor in my ADL or my active daily living. But because my upbringing in my training is that I'm not going to sit here and cry over what was taken away from me on the 5th of November 2009. I celebrate what I was still able to do. Along with the PTSD, the blindness in my left eye that was -- that's part of the nature of injuries that I sustained that day, but there are programs out there that the army and other civilian factors have in place to help the service member to deal with PTSD and other factors coming from combat or combative situations that involves trauma.

SMERCONISH: When you first heard the news yesterday, what ran through your mind?

LUNSFORD: Anger, disbelief, and just wonder, you know, it has been basically five years since that shooting occurred and here it is the same base and looking at the time and amount of people that were killed or the amount of fatalities. And you have to wonder, five years later, have we learned anything from the shootings that have happened with us, what progress has been made. Now, there has been some that's been made but is there a room for more, yes it is. By then, it pushed you in the mind that after our shooting, everyone or a lot of facts from saying "Well, we need to do this, we need to do that."

Well, a lot of those things has not been done to this point. And being said we have -- in the down part of the war, that gives you a tendency to get lax, i.e. where we're downsides by military. Well, this military budget cuts. That's what we're -- absolutely what we need to do at this point, we need to be (inaudible) military, we need a restructure. We need to look at lessons learned and see how we can fix it and make us bigger, fast, and stronger so that we won't get caught the way we were caught during 9/11.

SMERCONISH: Is there something specific, something tangible that you would suggest that would be done that could have prevented the shooting like occurred yesterday?

LUNSFORD: Yes. One of the things is that the NCO support chain is your core. We are the backbone in the military. What we need to start doing is -- are taking more emphasis on (inaudible) training. And each NCO need to know each one of their soldiers is in their squad, in their platoon, the good, bad, and different to answer that out (ph). And so much to the point is not just by knowing it by their ranking in their last name. You need to get actively involved in their lives because when you do that, you can get the maximum productivity out of your people.

And also, you let a soldier know that they care. It maybe a situation where a soldier is having some difficulty at home or maybe have some challenges when they're coming back from theater that they openly may not tell you. However, we need to be able to recognize the nonverbal cues so that we can understand that there is an issue or problem going on.

To equate that, you have to be -- to reassure the soldier. If you come to me, being your NCO or squad leader, or your platoon sergeant, or your commander for that matter, don't feel like you (inaudible) me with the issue of concern that you're putting your career at risk. Because by regulation, if it's not a matter of life in my eyesight or you plan on harming yourself or others, then you can receive that. But even in some cases, if you do expressed that you're going to feel like you're harming yourself or you want to harm somebody else, then therefore, we can help you so that you can get passed that and get back to your normal self. And then we need to be able to recognize truth. Truth is, one, everyone that deploys, you're not going to come back the same way you were when you left. There at the compound, there were multiple deployments back to back.

We need to understand to stop putting a window of days when a soldier returns from theater and they out process or redeployed to the SRP that they have 25 days to return to duty if they're guard or reserve. Act to proponents (inaudible) ...

SMERCONISH: I want to ask you a quick question.


SMERCONISH: You heard me asked it to General Kimmitt but you're the man who was shot seven times by Hasan, is there something special about Fort Hood or is it just that it's the army's largest post that's essentially a small city?

LUNSFORD: Well, it's a mixture of a lot of different factors but it's not just the base itself. It's just unfortunate if you have to have two shootings that occurred at one base. So, I would not say that Fort Hood is a bad place. I would not say that some of the army did at Fort Hood is a better place because not Fort Hood itself. We have to look at the fact that's overall military wide, not just army, but all proponents to see how we can fix this so that we would not have it to reoccur it.

SMERCONISH: Alonzo Lunsford, thank you sir for your service to your country.

LUNSFORD: And thank you for your support as well sir.

SMERCONISH: A combat milestone for the first time at decade but it's no mission accomplish. Malaysia's updated cockpit security and one 9/11 widow says it's not nearly enough.


SMERCONISH: Time now for Headlines Redefined. The headlines that got the story half right.

First stop, this comes from "March was the First Month without U.S. Fatalities in Iraq or Afghanistan in 11 Years." And that's true and that's great news that March was the first month after a 133 straight months where there are work casualties. And remember, just how bad things were at different points. With regard to Iraq, November of 2004, we lost a 137 soldiers in one month. With regard to Afghanistan, August of 2011, we lost 70 soldiers in one month. But don't mistake this good news for believing that all is now well in Afghanistan. Election season is underway. As a matter of fact, the process to replace Hamid Karzai gets into effect this coming Saturday and recently, the Taliban has taken up its violent game several notches. There was a shooting incident just two weeks ago with the finest hotel in Kabul, nine diners were executed. We entered Afghanistan to read that country of al-Qaeda and their Taliban enablers but the risk remains that this may yet again be a safe haven. And so, here is the headline I to put on that story, "Still to Soon to Say 'Mission Accomplished'."

Now, on number two. From the political website The Hill, "Senators want U.S. to Reject Iran's Emissary to the United Nations." Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has selected Hamid Aboutalebi to be the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations. The problem is this guy has links according to U.S. intelligence sources to those who took over the embassy in Iran in 1979 and held all those Americans hostages for well more than a year of their lives. It's a set back amidst otherwise positive signs with regard to our dealings with the Iranians.

You remember that a President Rouhani and President Obama had a 15- minute phone conversation last September which was the first direct conversation that we've had with the Iranians since 1979. As a matter of fact, a tweet that is believed to have come from the Twitter account linked to President Rouhani even wished Jews a happy New Year. But now, comes this news. And the only way to interpret this news is as a thumb in the eye of diplomacy at a time when we are still rightfully concerned about the Iranians developing their nuclear capability.

So, keeping in mind how many days the Americans were held hostage, here's the headline I to put on this story, "444 Reasons to Say No". And the last headline is from today's New York Times, "Ruling Hints more Campaign Finance Dominoes may Fall".

So there's an Alabama businessman and he's name is Shaun McCutcheon and he likes to give a lot of political money to Conservatives and to Republican candidates. As a matter of fact, he'd like to give even more political donations to those whom he supports. But he was held in check by limitations on the amount of giving that he or anybody else could contribute.

So he went to the Supreme Court, all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States and argued that the limitations that he was facing were unconstitutional.

Yesterday, in a five to four ruling, a ruling that broke along ideological lines like so many others do. Here's what the court did, the court struck down the cap in the total amount that an individual can give within a two-year cycle.

That's the so called aggregate limitation. That was stricken but the court left standing caps on donations that can be made to individual candidates. And I don't like the inconsistency of this. I don't like the inconsistency in saying, "Well, you can only give $2,600 to a federal candidate in the primary and in the general election." But you can give as much as you'd like in the aggregate. Like the tax code, I think that makes no sense. And in reading the Supreme Court opinions, it was Clarence Thomas who said that there's great inconsistency in all of this and we ought to throw out all of these caps.

So my preference, shy of the public financing of elections and maybe it's time for us to consider that would be a system where individuals can spend whatever they want to spend so long as there is full and immediate disclosure. The headline that I to put on this story, "Maxed out No More".

To the mystery of Flight 370, Malaysian officials announced changes to security aboard their planes. But is it enough? How secure is that cockpit?


SMERCONISH: Welcome back I'm Michael Smerconish.

March 7, 2014 doesn't seem that long ago. Russia was flexing her muscles in Ukraine, threatening to take Crimea, the Oscar Pistorius trial was just getting underway in South Africa, my 76ers have lost only 16 games in a row, and eventually lose another 10 and tie in NBA record.

Much has happened. But one thing has not changed. On March 7th, we knew as much about the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as we do now. And that was the day that it vanished. You know, I've been thinking about that, I've been trying to put myself in the position of the families of the passengers, the families of the crew.

My only frame of reference is how I feel when I don't hear from wife or one of our kids when they're supposed to call. The families of Flight 370 are still waiting for a phone call while praying and hoping against the odds that it might still bring good news. And yet, we have no reason to believe that closure is coming soon. The search for missing Flight 370 is proving more and more difficult everyday. 10 search planes, nine ships and they're all looking for what one oceanographer has called a "needle in garbage patch". He's talking of course about the vast Indian Ocean.

And consider this, it took 60 years to find the HMAS Sydney, it took 80 years to find the Titanic and they were much larger than the comparably tiny Boeing 777.

The Australian Prime Minister described the task ahead.


TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: This is probably the most difficult search ever undertaken, the most difficult search ever undertaken. Even though we are constantly refining the search area, even though the search area is moving north, it is still an extraordinarily remote and inaccessible spot.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SMERCONISH: But how long will it take? It's a race against the clock as the battery in the block box is expected to run out on Sunday. And that could make an already difficult task, seemingly impossible.

Greg Stone and Robert Goyer are here. Greg knows just how much we don't know about the ocean. He's an ocean scientist who specializes in undersea technology and exploration. Robert is the Editor-in-Chief of Flying Magazine. He says that even if the searchers are in the right area it's no guarantee that they're ever going to find anything.

Mr. Stone let me begin with you. The Boston Globe says you are the swashbuckling Indiana Jones of the sea. Which means you're the perfect person for me to ask, how much or how little do we really understand of Ocean geography?

GREG STONE, OCEAN SCIENTIST: We know more about the back side of the moon or the surface of Mars or what's going on Venus than we do about a detailed map of our own sea floor. We, you know, for example there are vast long ranges in the ocean. And some them we visited, most of them we haven't. Some of them we only know exist because satellites detect heavy gravity over certain parts of the ocean and we know when there's heavy gravity there's got to be more mass. So the actual topography of the sea floor is not very well-mapped.

SMERCONISH: Speaking of maps, you gave us a map, could you explain. We're going to put up on the screen or if you could pop that up and have Mr. Stone explain to us. What exactly are we looking at?

STONE: You know, and this is a map that my organization put out this year with some other groups and it's going to be published in a forth coming issue of Marine Geology.

And what it shows is that the Indian Ocean has a variety of kinds of places on the Sea floor. I'll put them into three categories. One is abyssal plains, which is sort of the light grey areas you see there. And those are all around 12,000 feet and it's really thick mud, very flat vast pouring kind of areas. The other places are the trenches which plunge down to 20 to 25,000 feet. And those are the darker colors. And these are the deepest places in the ocean. And then you've got all of the topography, all the features in the seafloor, which include mountains and ridges and plateaus, it's really quite a magnificent structure down there. But even with this map that we're putting out with partners this year, there's still a lot of detail that remains unknown.

SMERCONISH: Robert Goyer, as we look at that map, I understand that you think potentially this search is still taking place in the wrong area. How could that be the case?

ROBERT GOYER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, FLYING MAGAZINE: No, I never said that it's taking place in the wrong area, no Michael. What I've said is that I think that they don't know what area they should be searching in exactly.

And I think that the fact that they move the search up, it shows that they were trying to create a better area based on some assumptions they made about the airplane's flight path, about its altitude, about winds. So they were really making guesses, and this is a brand new guess.

I have a very low level of confidence that the airplane is anywhere near the search area that they're in right now. If they have more information than they're giving us, then that's good. But based on what they filled us so far, very low confidence they're even looking in the right place.

SMERCONISH: OK. Respectfully, that's how I began the question when I said I understand that you're dubious as to whether we're searching in the right area. What assumption might have been made that would cause you to think it could be else where?

GOYER: No, I apologize. What I'm saying actually is that I don't know that it might be else where because it might be exactly where they're looking. But I don't think that there's any good evidence to show that it is where they're looking. It could be anywhere in the South Indian Ocean, based on what they've told us.

There's just not enough information to go on. It's too gray in area to be able to pin it down to any specific area and all they've done is to try to find it in a -- they're looking in an area that's vast. And I think it's based on some assumptions that if they are founded at all in any fact, they haven't shared with us what that fact is.

SMERCONISH: Mr. Stone, what explains the funding disparity for a research of the sea versus space, you made reference to the dark side of the moon or maybe I'm just thinking of Pink Floyd. Is it because there's no way to generate revenue from exploration of the floor of the ocean?

STONE: Well, Michael. I think its two things. One is that we are, you know, we're basically terrestrial animals, humans, right? So we've got great maps of the lands, because that's where we spend most of our time living. And we've also looked up at the heavens and had inspirational dreams of exploring that we look at it every night. But the oceans' opaque and most people don't spend much time in the ocean. So its value has not been realized, it's not been thought up, even though the ocean is the life support system of the planet, it's the lungs of the planet.

It's really what keeps -- it's what makes the earth a nice place to live. And you said at the top of this segment that some scientist, I'm not sure who has said, "It was like searching for needle in a garbage patch."

Well, you know, that's actually quite true. The ocean -- for example plastic, every piece of plastic that's ever been made still exist. And it was first made about 1909, and most of it is in the ocean. And we got these dryers that concentrate the plastic.

And it was interesting to me that early in the search, the satellites were picking up a lot of debris and garbage in the ocean. And, you know, I've been down at the bottom of the ocean. And I've been to places that no one has ever been to before. That has not seen the light of day for billions of years, and when I get there, I find plastic on the seafloor. So we really do have a problem with trash in our oceans and something that you do see in the deep sea.

SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, thank you. Greg Stone and Robert Goyer, we appreciate you're having been here.

How long would you guess that it takes to storm a cockpit? I'll show you a shocking demonstration.


SMERCONISH: Malaysian Airline officials have introduced stricter measures for pilots now requiring crew members to enter the cockpit whenever a pilot is alone. That means something as simple as a pilot's bathroom break will require the attention and action of the rest of the crew, but is that even enough?

I want you to watch a clip from this dramatization which shows how long it takes for someone unauthorized to get in to that cockpit.

SMERCONISH: Two seconds. That video was brought to me by Ellen Saracini and if her name sounds familiar, it should. Her husband victor was the captain of United Airlines Flight 175, which was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center on September 11. Ellen is advocating for changes in cockpit security to Congress and she's joining me now.

So I reference what the Malaysians are saying that they don't want someone in there alone, with regard to our airlines, what is it you think we still need to do?

ELLEN SARACINI, WIDOW OF CAPT. VICTOR SARACINI: We need to make sure that a breach at the cockpit can't happen. Right now, what we have is a fortified cockpit door. We see in the video that once you get in to that, that door locks and there's no one that can get in there. So we have a case scenario like we had on September 11the where the cockpit is commandeered and we have an aircraft used as a weapon of mass destruction.

SMERCONISH: Post September 11, the cockpit doors were reinforced, that was Congress which mandated it, right?


SMERCONISH: You'd want secondary doors. What's a secondary door?

SARACINI: A secondary barrier is a light weight gate that gets locked into place just during those times in flight when the cockpit door is open. The door has to be opened for their meals, for their bathroom breaks and for rest facilities.

So during those times, we're vulnerable to have reached to the cockpit. So the secondary barrier, once it's mandated, it would be on 100 percent of the airplanes, it would work 100 percent at the times.

A study was done and they were evaluating the security outside of the cockpit door and the study said that look what happens when you look at that video. That is the most robust form that the airlines have today. The airlines use flight attendants as their security procedure.

SMERCONISH: I flew a week ago and when the pilot came out to go to a bathroom break, I noticed that the food cart was put across the aisle in the front of the airplane. Presumably, is that what they're using as a secondary door right now?

SARACINI: Absolutely. The TSA says that they have to do a procedure. The FAA, the TSA, they all realize that there's an issue when that door opens up. So they said that they have to do a procedure. And they give the airlines carte blanche what they want to do. So some just have a flight attendant standing there, some use the cockpit -- in front of the cockpit they pull out the cart and they use a flight attendant.

But we see what happens, that is not a good way to be able to make sure that a breach does not happen. And we see that in the video. That cart is top heavy. It can be pulled over in a second.

SMERCONISH: Ellen, your husband's employer, United, I guess now continental, in taking new delivery and delivery of new aircraft. They initially were going to have the secondary doors. They promised you, right? That the secondary doors would be included and then something happened and then they took them out. What do you of that?

SARACINI: Well, Legacy United installed the secondary barriers on their aircraft, on a lot of their aircraft, and then a merger happen with Continental and United. And the new planes that came on board that Legacy United had ordered, they ordered with the secondary barriers. And continental management said we don't want them.

SMERCONISH: Why? Have they explained to you why they didn't want them?

SARACINI: They said to me it's not a cost issue. It's not weight issue. It's simply is that it is not mandated and they are following the guidelines by the TSA. And TSA's guidelines say, "You just have to do a procedure." So because they don't have to, they're not going to.

SMERCONISH: OK. So now I know you're very active in the Congress and you've engendered a great deal of support, where does that stand?

SARACINI: Well, we have two bills. Mike Fitzpatrick dropped one in the House, it has 57 co-sponsors. And I went to Senators, my senators Toomey and Casey. Casey dropped the bill and Toomey came right on board, we have bipartisan bills in both House and the Senate. We just have issues where it's not moving. I've been down since last March. It's almost been a year since the House bill dropped. And nobody is moving on putting this bill on the floor.

SMERCONISH: Is there opposition to this bill that would mandate secondary doors? SARACINI: There is unfortunately. And don't know why there is, but the head of the T&I is in the House and they are not allowing this bill to come out for a vote. Congressman Shuster is the Congressman who is in the head of T&I. Congressman LoBiondo is the head of the subcommittee on aviation. He has released it to the T&I committee and it's not moving anywhere.

SMERCONISH: People who are watching and agree with Ellen Saracini can pick up the phone, can send an e-mail, can get onboard and encourage their member of Congress to be supportive of you. Thank you for what you're doing. It's nice to have you back.

SARACINI: Good seeing you.

SMERCONISH: Lots of theories as to what happened to Flight 370 and airline officials don't seem to know anymore than anybody else.

So I walked into central park, went across the street and asked folks, what do you think happened?


SMERCONISH: For the families of the missing on Flight 370, the past 28 days haven't been a singular and solitary hell. We can't know what its like to be their shoes. For the rest us watching and wondering, this mystery has been like no other. I hear all the theories all day long on radio. So I thought for television, I go across the street to Central Park and ask people what's their take on the airplane. Here's what they told me.


SMERCONISH: I think it's a huge cover up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's just an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that it may have like a Bermuda triangle effect possibly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somewhere or some person is covering something up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it was mechanical. I think somebody has something to do with it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody intentionally turn it around -- turn them around and intentionally crashed the plane.

SMERCONISH: It seems that everybody has a different theory about what happened to the plane, what happened to Malaysian Flight 370, and I'm just curious as to what your thought might be. Do you have a thought?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the terrorist took it inside, they took it and then -- that's why we couldn't find it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been theories of what? It's like been sucked in a black hole, like I had to hear the black hole thing, which is sort of ridiculous or I mean if it landed somewhere, there would -- it would be tracked, it would traced. I mean most likely it went down and that's it.

SMERCONISH: Because it seems that everybody has a theory or a thought as to what happened to the plane. What's yours?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that it crashed in the ocean. But I do think that somebody on board had something to do with it.

SMERCONISH: What's your thought? What happen to the plane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so all the TV programs are trying to bring back their good shows, you know, ABC's trying to bring back loss to counteract heroes being brought back in, and I think it's NBC. So I'm pretty sure this is all a advertising scheme to promote loss, because I mean it's the exact same plot as the first episode.

SMERCONISH: Are you serious?


SMERCONISH: What happened to the plane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happen to plane? I think the pilot have taken in somewhere and landed ...

SMERCONISH: Deliberately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deliberately, sure.

SMERCONISH: Are any of these theories or hunches?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to think that it was a mechanical issue, certainly. I hate to think that there was a malicious intent or some kind of human error, but I guess that's possible of course.

SMERCONISH: What happened to the plane?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really have no idea. I can't imagine what those families are going through. They have the same information that we have, because with all the conspiracy theories, some information you get a hope that there is debris, you know, you don't want to hope that that's how it ended. But it has some question for the families. I really - it's such a mystery, I can't believe it.


SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish. I'll see you back here tomorrow night. CNN's Special Report: The Mystery of Flight 370 with Don Lemon is coming up.

But first, Chicagoland starts now.