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Abbott "Very Confident" Signals Are from MH-370; "Ocean Shield" Crucial in MH-370 Search; Interview with Adam Schiff on Ukraine; Answering Viewer Questions About MH-370; Hillary Clinton Ducks Show, Jokes About It.

Aired April 11, 2014 - 13:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Washington.

Australia's prime minister is optimistic as the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 moves into day 36. Prime Minister Tony Abbott says officials are very confident -- his words -- "very confident," the signals that have been detected are, indeed, from the plane's two black boxes. He says the challenge is to get as much information as possible before the signals end.

Investigators say a fifth ping is probably not from the plane. It was picked up Thursday by a device dropped in the ocean from an airline before earlier signals were detected by a U.S. pinger locator towed by an Australian ship.

There's been no let up in the search for debris from the plane. Looking at the surface, 13 ships, 15 aircraft, they're assigned to today's search.

More now on what Australia's prime minister is saying about the search. He spoke earlier today in Shanghai.


TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We have very much narrowed down the search area. We're very confident that the signals we're detecting are from the black box on 370.

I really don't want to say anymore than that because I want to get the most up-to-date briefing between now and my meeting with President Xi later today. And as a sign of respect to China and its people and in particular the 154 Chinese victims and their families, I would like to save any more detail for the briefing with President Xi later today.

I want to say how honored I am -- we're now getting to the stage where the signal from what we are very confident is the black boxes is starting to fade. And we are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: The weight of the search of the missing Malaysia Airliner is resting on the shoulders of the 30-member crew manning the "Ocean Shield". To the families of the 239 people on board flight 370, the Australian ship represents a chance at what some believe could be closure. For others, it's simply the best chance of finding one of the greatest mysteries in modern aviation history.

Our Brian Todd is here for more on what's going on.

The specialists aboard that ship, walk us through what's going on now because they're trying to find these two black boxes.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've gotten some good access to the people of Phoenix International, the makers of the towed pinger locator. They're also, nine of them, are on board the "Ocean Shield" now and they're also the detection specialists. They're the ones listening for the pings. It is painstaking work. They have to have a finely trained ear, a finely trained eye. Not only are they listening for hours on end, they're also looking at monitors that have these blips on them that can show them the frequency of a ping, the consistency of a ping. A lot of the time, they're listening in total silence for hours. It's been described as tedious, meticulous.

I asked one of the people at Phoenix International, does it drive them stir crazy? He said, yeah, it can do that. They look forward to meal time because it breaks up the monotony.

But as you can see, this work is crucial. We're cringing on everything these guys are listening to.

BLITZER: What kind of rotation schedule do they have? How long can they basically keep it up?

TODD: They're working 12-hour shifts on board the "Ocean Shield". One shift goes from midnight to noon. The other one goes from noon to midnight. Who knows? It's indefinite. They've been out there since march 31st. Imagine that, Wolf, 12 hours a day, and you're just doing nothing but listening, most of the time in silence. You're hearing nothing because you're blocking out everything else. Could you sit there for 12 hours and just hear nothing --


TODD: -- and look at a monitor?


BLITZER: I admire these people who can. Obviously, as you point out, this is incredibly important --

TODD: Very important.

BLITZER: -- and those batteries are quickly, quickly dying, if they haven't died already. They might not be hearing anything anymore. They'll work on those pings from the original location and hopefully they'll find something. TODD: Hopefully, yes.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you very much.

We'll have much more on flight 370 coming up.

Also, other news we're following, including Hillary Clinton, taking a shoe-throwing incident in stride. What happened? Wow!

And as protesters continue to march in Ukraine, I'll speak with a U.S. Congressman, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, who's been there. What he says the United States needs to do right now to help Ukraine.


BLITZER: Right now, there's growing tension over the crisis in Ukraine. A U.S.-guided missile destroyer is now in the Black Sea. The "USS Donald Cook" arrival is part of a military effort to demonstrate support for Eastern European allies. It comes as NATO releases the satellite photographs of 40,000 Russian troops stationed near the Ukraine border. According to NATO, those troops are ready for combat.

Meanwhile, Russia's top prosecutor says he sees no reason to extradite the ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to Kiev. Ukraine's interim government in Kiev this week froze the bank accounts of Yanukovych and 66 others in his govnerment. Ukrainian authorities are telling pro-Russian protesters they won't be prosecuted if they leave the buildings they're occupying in some of those cities.

What's the next move for the United States, the next move for the Obama administration?

Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff of California.

You were just there a few days ago. So where's this thing going?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), CALIFORNIA: Hard to say. Clearly, Russia is prepared to invade. Whether they will use the pretext of some manufactured protests in the eastern part of Ukraine as a reason to invade, we don't know. Certainly, they're prepared. Some of what they're doing looks like it's for show. Other parts of what they're doing looks like they're very much ready to invade. I think we would do well to help Ukraine prepare if that happens.

BLITZER: Tell me what you're recommending as far as U.S. action to deal with a situation like that.

SCHIFF: I'm recommending a couple things. First, that we assist Ukraine with intelligence information, military consultation, so they know what they're up against.

BLITZER: What about hardware?

SCHIFF: In terms of hardware, we, I don't think are in a position to help Ukraine win a struggle with Russia.

BLITZER: What about defensive positioning?

SCHIFF: I think that's more likely to provide an escalating with Russia than providing more information that would be valuable to them, given the time line.

The other thing that I think we can do is forward deploy some of our military assets to NATO countries in the region. They're very concerned that we won't come to their defense.

BLITZER: There are treaty obligations. If Poland or Lithuania, these are countries that are members of NATO. The U.S., like all NATO countries, is obliged -- if any NATO ally is attacked, it's like all NATO members are being attacked.

SCHIFF: That's right exactly right, under Article 5 of that NATO agreement.

BLITZER: You think Putin would consider attacking a NATO ally?

SCHIFF: I don't think so. But I know, because I was in Lithuania a few days ago as well, they're desperately concerned, and they want a greater NATO presence. They lived under Soviet domination. And I think we ought to reassure them, as well as send a message to Russia that, you know, we're prepared to draw a line.

BLITZER: Reviving that missile defense shield, is that something you support?

SCHIFF: The missile defense shield reportedly was more about Iran than about Russia. I'm not sure it makes sense to revisit that. Certainly, I think we ought to take steps either through naval assets, air assets or on the ground to strengthen our presence in the NATO countries in the region. And finally, Wolf, I think the sanctions need to be strengthened. And Europe has to be prepared. The preparation ought to be undertaken now to impose sector-wide sanctions if there's a further Russian incursion in Ukraine.

BLITZER: They're really dependent on Russian energy exports, oil, to Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Germany. A lot of these countries depend on Russian energy.

SCHIFF: Wolf, you're absolutely right, and this will be difficult and painful for Eastern Europe and Western Europe. But, at the end of the day, they've got to ask, how much is sovereignty worth. How much is it worth to stand up to Russia? They have the most at stake. So I think we need to be really working with them now, steeling them for some tough decisions that will need to be made if Russia invades. Because unless we can raise the cost for that kind of escalation, provocation, violation of international law, I think we encourage Russia to do it in other places.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks very much for coming in.

SCHIFF: You bet. BLITZER: It could be the biggest cyber security crisis ever. Why you need to make some changes to your accounts right now.

Also, it's now day 36 of what might be the greatest mystery in modern aviation. A panel of experts joins us.


BLITZER: The longer the search for flight 370 goes on, the more the questions are piling up.

Let's bring back our panel experts to get answers to things on your mind.

Our CNN aviation analysts, Mark Weiss and Peter Goelz; our CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes.

Stephen writes this, Tom, for you, who should be first to open and read the data from the planes black box if it's recovered, the Malaysians or the NTSB?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST & FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: I think the Malaysians have made it clear, they own the box, they're going to be responsible. But they've admitted to not having the expertise. So they're certainly going to have experts do it. Whether it's going to be the Australians and the NTSB together and examine it in Australia, that's a good chance. But they're going to decide who does it. They're not going to do it themselves.

BLITZER: Peter, Jay writes, how much pressure can the black boxes withstand if they're on the ocean floor? Could they be destroyed by the pressure?

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST & FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: They're rated to go down to at least 20,000 feet. So the boxes are OK at 14,000 feet.

BLITZER: Which is what --


GOELZ: These are heavily armored, heavily insulated. If we get them back, we'll be able to read them.

BLITZER: Mark, Charles asks, if the plane dipped, then went back to cruising altitude, what happens to the shortness of the fuel burn?

MARK WEISS, CNN AVIATION ANALYST & FORMER PILOT: Well, Charles, what you're going to do is at a lower altitude, you're going to burn a lot more fuel than you would at cruise altitude. The difference you would recover is going to be very different than you would at cruise altitude.

BLITZER: This is for Tom, from Michael, the last communication from MH-370 was spoken by the pilot. Were all previous communication from him as well? FUENTES: We don't know that.

BLITZER: Why don't they tell us?

FUENTES: I don't know why. Most people say it really doesn't make a difference. The captain runs the ship. He could have said to the co- pilot, why don't you take off, I'll handle the radio. He had just been approved by his check pilot, essentially promoted into the position as a qualified pilot. He may have asked the co-pilot to fly and the captain took the radio all the way through.

BLITZER: That's a good question. We would love to know who was doing most of the talking. If they release an audiotape so we can all hear it. It's not confidential or anything at this point.

Here's a question from Joe, Peter, for you. Could deep silt in the wreckage area hamper images of debris?

GOELZ: It could. It's going to -- it could be very challenging for smaller pieces. And the remote vehicle has to be very careful in deep silt. Because even the slightest bit of propulsion from it can stir up the silt. It's going to be a painstaking task once they identify the wreckage and once they start to get into it. It's going to be tough.

BLITZER: You're a 777 pilot, Mark. This question is a good one for you. What would the passengers have seen at 4,000 feet at 1:00 a.m.? Would they have any idea the flight went that low?

WEISS: Depending on the time of day that it would have been at 4,000 feet. 1:00 in the morning? They would only see the terrain outside and wonder what the heck was going on.

BLITZER: They would see water.


BLITZER: But in the middle of the night?

WEISS: Depending on what kind of lighting would have been outside and whether there was a moon available.

BLITZER: That's a good point.

Here's another question, from Rick, for Peter. If Malaysia scrambles their planes, why do they then have a three-day SAR effort to Gulf of Thailand?


GOELZ: That's one of the great questions. Now, my understanding is the government has denied scrambling any jets. But in retrospect, we're going to look very carefully at the opening weeks and first week on whether the correct information passed on to the search-and-rescue people to get the job done or were agencies within Malaysia holding back. BLITZER: We're getting reports from "Reuters," among others, that the left hand of the Malaysian government apparently wasn't talking to the right hand. There was tension between civilian aviation authorities in Malaysia and military aviation authorities.

FUENTES: Another issue is, if they scrambled jets and they went south looking for the plane and found nothing, then they would have to go back and say maybe we were wrong and we still need to look in the Gulf of Thailand. I think that's the other side of this. If they sent planes for nothing, then they were kind of forced to look at what is the most logical area from the ground.

BLITZER: Mark, we got this one from Ken. Why don't we have digital pingers that would transmit a unique digital code that would identify it from being from a specific aircraft?

WEISS: What a great idea that would be. And hopefully, one of the take-aways from this accident will be having a unique identifier on the boxes, absolutely.

BLITZER: There are a lot of take-aways from this investigation.


BLITZER: But as usual, we learn great lessons from this particular case.

Tom Fuentes, as usual, thank you very much.

FUENTES: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Mark Weiss, Peter Goelz, thank you, all of you.

Hillary Clinton maybe used to watching her back but, in Las Vegas, she had to watch her head. This is really shocking and awful. We have the details.


BLITZER: A quick check on Wall Street right now. Looking at the big board, you see the Dow down 116 points. Worse than expected earnings appeared to trigger the sell-off.

Some are calling it the worst security hull. It's called the Heartbleed Bug and has a lot of sites eagerly scrambling to patch it. It could affect everything from your banking to Gmail. Changing your password is strongly recommended but only for sites that have been updated. You can go for a list of sites that have been fixed.

And just into CNN, a federal appeals court ruled against SeaWorld in a case stemming from the death of a female trainer. SeaWorld was appealing citations issued by OSHA. OSHA restricted how humans interact with killer whales. In a 2:1 decision, the judges denied SeaWorld's appeal. The concerns about killer whales in captivity was the focus of the CNN Films documentary "Black Fish" and included the story of the trainer's death in 2010. Hillary Clinton has spent a lot of time dodging questions about a possible presidential run in 2016, but as Brianna Keilar shows us, at a speech in Las Vegas, Secretary Clinton was judging more than just questions.




CLINTON: What was that? A bat? Was that a bat? Is that somebody throwing somebody at me? Is that part of Cirque de Soliel?


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was Hillary Clinton making jokes after a woman hurled a shoe at her during a paid speech in Las Vegas to the Institute of Scrape Recycling Industries.

CLINTON: I didn't know solid-waste management was so controversial.


KEILAR: The hurler, who slipped in without a ticket, was immediately subdued and taken into custody.

It's not the first time objects have been thrown at a politician. An Iraqi journalist chucked not one but two shoes at President Bush during this news conference. And protesters in Egypt threw tomatoes at then-Secretary of State Clinton's motorcade. The latest incident nowhere near as threatening.

CLINTON: Thank goodness she didn't play softball like I did.


KEILAR: Perhaps an item for her new memoir, which her publisher said, this week, will come out in mid June. Until then, expect some more dodging from Clinton, not shoes, but questions about her presidential ambitions.

CLINTON: And I am thinking about it.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: An awful situation.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Washington. I will be back 5:00 p.m. in "The Situation Room."

NEWSROOM with Don Lemon starts in 60 seconds.