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NEW DAY SUNDAY
First Video of What Appears to be Black Box; Putin Faces Growing Pressure Over MH17 Crash
Aired July 20, 2014 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Eight o'clock on a Sunday morning. I hope that it is treating you well so far. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.
PAUL: We want to start this hour with the crisis in Gaza, because it is growing deadlier by the hour.
BLACKWELL: Israel and Hamas are now blaming each other for breaching a two-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza neighborhood that was slammed overnight by shelling.
PAUL: That humanitarian pause as it's been called was coming at the request of the Red Cross. It called for a halt in fighting in order to reach the wounded in the overnight assault that's left at least 40 people dead, we've heard
BLACKWELL: We'll have more on the crisis there in Gaza. Wolf Blitzer interviews Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu live here on CNN in just a few minutes.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
PAUL: We want to bring you breaking news we're getting this hour on downed Flight 17 as we're getting our first pictures of what appears to be one of the black boxes.
BLACKWELL: Yes, this is new video in to CNN of what appears to be a searcher carrying the flight data recorder at the crash site there in Eastern Ukraine. It's either the flight data recorder or digital voice recorder. Right now, we're seeing the video. It appears was taken on Friday, recorded on Friday, two days ago. There's been a lot of concern and confusion over where the black boxes are, who has them.
PAUL: Reuters is reporting a Ukrainian separatist leader says pro-Russian rebels found parts of the black box. That has not been confirmed, we want to point out. BLACKWELL: And, of course, this discovery is coming as dozens of
bodies apparently from the crash site are being put onto refrigerated train cars until international specialists can arrive and examine them.
PAUL: Let's bring in CNN's Phil Black. He's standing near the crash site in eastern Ukraine.
BLACKWELL: Phil, what do you know, if anything, about the recovery of that black box?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So far, we've heard nothing official on this, Victor. And, you're right. There have been a lot of conflicting reports over this in recent days.
As recently as yesterday -- this was the last time as far as we know the pro-Russian rebels commented on this specifically. They said they had no idea where either the voice or data recorders were, because they said they have not been in any way disrupting the scene, not searching the site, not looking for anything, not corrupting it for possible future or likely future investigations. That's their public view.
We do know that that's not entirely true because on the ground, we've seen very clear evidence that the site has been disrupted in various ways. So, it's still very uncertain. We don't know where it is.
We've heard from the Ukrainian government they believe it's somewhere in Ukraine, but they're not being any more specific than that. So, it appears one of them may have indeed, one f them, may have indeed be found, as you said. But it is a very complex search and recovery operation, as we've been talking about both in terms of finding all the wreckage and particularly key items like those black boxes but also the victims.
That brings me really to why I'm here. For a lot of time we've been talking we've been broadcasting from the main impact site. Many, many victim's bodies have been found.
Where I am now this gives a sense of the scale of the search operation, too, just how big the search area is. We're about a ten- minute drive from the main impact site and we are here because this is a location where one of the bodies of the victims fell through into the home of a residence of this small town.
I can show it to you, the damage to the building is just there on the corner. The owner there tells us that her son was home at the time. He heard some large explosions in the distance, feared that the fighting between separatists forces and Ukrainian government forces had come to their village. He ran to the basement of his home and he's lucky he did, because a few moments later, the body of a woman crashed through the ceiling and they tell us there it remained for two days. So, it was only just recently removed.
It shows what a big job this is, in terms of finding all the victims, finding all the components, the spread of the debris across this region of eastern Ukraine, and the fact that it took two days to recover this body I think shows how inadequate this initial response has been -- Victor, Christi.
PAUL: And how utterly disturbing this whole scene is.
BLACKWELL: I cannot imagine, I cannot imagine this boy is by himself.
PAUL: And that poor woman, and oh, hopefully -- but you say they have gotten the body, she was there for two days, they've gotten the body and now, hopefully, she will be returned once they get through the whole process and we're still waiting to see what the process is.
Phil Black, thank you so much for explaining.
That was going to be my next question because he has had quite a morning. Earlier this morning, he was standing in front of a line of rebels with their guns drawn.
PAUL: So, it has been quite a morning at the scene and ten minutes away as you saw there. So thank you to him.
BLACKWELL: Let's bring in -- OK.
PAUL: Here we're seeing some of the, what is the scene right now. Remember this is 13 miles. You heard, of scene here -- of a crash scene and took him ten minutes to get to that house from the front line, where he had been earlier.
And that explains a couple of different stories that are coming in. One, you hear that the crime scene is being held by rebels but there are other people who have said there was looting and things going on initially because there was not anybody surrounding the scene as a whole. How could you, with 13 miles.
BLACKWELL: Thirteen square miles and 34 square kilometers. And Phil Black there.
Also, Chris Cuomo reporting that there are major areas that are controlled, members of the international media are not allowed to walk into, vehicles, the public are not allowed to drive up into, but they cannot control the entire thing because there are some elements, as we saw here, that are outside of that area, such a large crime scene as it's described, the largest crime scene in the world.
Let's talk more about this, especially about the discovery, what appears to be one of the black boxes.
We've got CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo joining us now.
Mary, joining us yesterday at about 5:00 a.m. Eastern, the Malaysian transport minister said that he had the confirmation of cooperation -- I think those were his words -- from the Ukrainian government, as the airline would want to start this investigation. Well, now that we see that quite possibly this black box has been retrieved two days ago, detail for us the difficulty, when you're working with two governments, and one trying to get what is their property back from another that could be part of a really important investigation for the country that has custody of it.
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, yes, not just two governments, but also remember all the other governments who have lost citizens on the flight will be looking over their shoulders. So, Malaysia Airlines can't just take this and open up the data. What they're going to have to coordinate with the investigators, whatever investigative agency is going to take the lead, you know, be it the Ukrainians. I'd suspect that's not a good idea.
I think this international consortium that they have proposed is the best idea. Then, they have to have agreements on the protocol for the download, and to me, based on the picture, it's hard to tell, but it does look like it's the flight data recorder, not the whole thing, but it is the part that has the recordings, like the pinger apparatus, et cetera, is gone.
So, that would be a good sign, if it's secured. It's not in the hands of the separatists, who shot down the plane, taken hasn't gone to Moscow. So, they would coordinate with the next step with the chief of the investigation.
PAUL: All right. Let's go to counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd who is with us as well.
You know, she touched on this, but we've got prime minister, we've got the Dutch prime minister, who said he actually spoke with Putin, and gave him one last chance, he said, to help and make this right. David Cameron, British prime minister, has come out saying this is an outrage made in Moscow. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come out.
How can Russia, with everything that we have heard, deny that it has its hands somehow at the control panel here?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think Russia can deny what's happened here, but what I'd point out is, though, we've collected information over the past few days that directly points to Moscow.
It's similar to the information we collected, remember, in Syria, that indicated a yearn ago that Moscow was supporting Assad in the fight against rebels, and we had chemical attacks in Syria. Russia got off the hook on that one.
I would not underestimate Putin as conversations with the Germans and others to get off the hook this time. There's a lot of time for him in the coming days to figure out how to, for example, suggest that he's going to facilitate cooperation with the rebels.
BLACKWELL: Philip, we're just getting something in. The Ukrainian, I'm going to read it to you just as we're getting it, the Ukrainian -- Ukraine rather security service released a two-minute video of what they claim is an intercepted phone conversation between the Donetsk People's Republic "terrorists" as they call them and have called them for some time, discussing the MH17 black boxes, the alleged commander says "Moscow is very interested in the black boxes and urges his subordinate to find them urgently."
Your counterterrorism expert here, now knowing they believe and CNN cannot independently confirm the confirmation or the people who are speaking, but if this is accurate, your response to this report that there's this communication and the effort now to find this crucial piece of this investigation.
MUDD: Well, this is a relatively small sliver of the intelligence picture. There's a lot of other things I'd be looking at.
For example, the satellite imagery in the weeks beforehand to see if trucks had moved into the rebel-controlled areas. I would want to look in the days after the incident to see if the truck moved outside the area, for example. Can you see anything on the ground? That's a tremendous geographic area to look through.
I'd want to look through communications intercepts in the days after to see if people started talking about these kinds of things.
One thing though we haven't talked about that's critically important in the investigation, we're focused on collecting material from the site. If you're conducting these investigations, there is a ton of interviews that you want to do. For example, in the area where the plane came down, any investigator is going to want to talk to those villagers and say what did you see? Did you see plumes coming out of the airplane, for example?
The other critical question you're going to want to see and I don't think we'll have this one answered for years, if we can geo- locate where that missile left the ground, there are people in that area you're going to want to talk to. That's a critical piece of evidence.
What did they see? Did they see a truck come into the area? Did they talk to people on the missile battery what was happening there? There's a lot of investigatory activity we haven't seen yet.
PAUL: Mary Schiavo, and Philip Mudd, we thank you both so much.
You know, our Ben Wedeman calls it the worst fighting he's seen in Gaza in more than 20 years.
BLACKWELL: Next, Wolf Blitzer will sit down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about Israel's expanded ground invasion here, this incursion as they're calling it, and the rising death toll for both sides.
BLACKWELL: Welcome back. Just before the break, we told you that we were going to send
things over to Jerusalem as Wolf Blitzer would sit down live with prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, having a few technical difficulties, but we can tell you that the two of them are sitting together right now.
PAUL: They are in Tel Aviv.
BLACKWELL: Yes, in Tel Aviv.
PAUL: They're having the conversation.
BLACKWELL: That's right. We're going to try to flip that and have it on tape very soon. So stay with us for that.
But we're going to continue with the breaking news from the crash site of MH17. I think we have the video of what appears to show the recovery of one of the black boxes from this plane that was as many believe shot down on Thursday.
We still have with us CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo.
And, Mary, we also have with us -- give me that again? Mark Hertling who is with us as well.
Mary, we know the Malaysian transport minister announced yesterday he'd be en route to Kiev to lead this investigation there. What is the time that it will take? Give us an idea of how long it will take to get what is essentially the property of the Malaysian government, this black box.
SCHIAVO: Well, once they get there, it just depends on whose hands this black box are in. It's technically the property of the airlines, by now their insurance company because they pay off on the aircraft. And so, technically, they own it, but the investigators have the right to get the data and to use it until the investigation is done.
So, what they'll have to do is designate someone, an agency -- hopefully, the best in the world. But they're going to have to designate someone to actually take the black box and download the data.
Now, that process, once started is very fast because it's downloading computer data. But you can't just plug it into any computer and download it, or you can lose the data. So, they're going to have to decide who would do that. The logical would be Australians since they lost so many citizens on the board, they have the capability. The NTSB has volunteered, the French BEA can do it, the British can do it.
So, they're going to have to decide who's going to do it. I don't think the Malaysians themselves have enough technical capability to do it. So, they'll have to get somebody else in there to do it and they'll probably fly it to the lab of that country's agency to do it. For example, if it's the NTSB, they will fly it back to
Washington, D.C., and do it there, so there's no possibility of losing data.
PAUL: Mark, I want to talk to you, because we know that you've been in Iraq during the search there. I wonder if you have an opinion as to whether commercial flights should be flying over conflict zones at all.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), U.S. ARMY: Well, no, they should not. This was an interesting dynamic, as you know, the NOTAM, the notice to airman, went up to 32,000 feet. The airplane was above that so they determined they were safe.
But any time you have conflict like this, where there is the capability for using high technology equipment, you want to stay out of the area, and that's what occurred during the entire conflict in Iraq until the skies were cleared and we determined that aircraft could fly.
There was an incident, interestingly enough, in Iraq, when we were there in Baghdad in 2004 when a commercial flight was shot down by a group of rebels, as it was taking off from the airport, from the Baghdad airport. But the interesting piece about that, it was a handheld device, so the aircraft was not that high up, and that's the critical piece about how the aircraft determines where they fly and how.
BLACKWELL: General, before you joined us, we reported that Ukraine security service released this two-minute video, in which they claim it's intercepted a phone conversation between the Donetsk people's republic discussing the MH17's black boxes and a commander saying that Moscow was really interested in getting them, knowing about their whereabouts, and urged the subordinate to find them quickly. Of course, CNN can't confirm the authenticity of that.
But what precautions can be in place now to stop what at least the State Department is concerned about, parts of the plane being taken across the border into Russia? Is there anything that could be done there?
HERTLING: Well, Victor, the best way to do this is to secure the area. The question is, who's going to do that? The Ukrainians certainly aren't going to send forces in there because of what's occurred previously with Russia.
Russia has somewhat of an upper hand in this, as we all know, because they are controlling what's going on in the area. My engagement with Russian military back when I was commander of U.S. Army in Europe was, you know, they don't do things on their own. They are always getting orders from above and it's a very centralized system. There are no independent operators in the Russian military.
So if all these things are, in fact, occurring, there are people that know about it, and whereas you can't always confirm, you know, first reports are always wrong, the fact that the Russians are asking for the black box, that could be a wrong report. It has to be confirmed, but truthfully, my experience is, I don't doubt that very much, that that is, in fact, occurring right now.
PAUL: All right.
Hey, we're going to take a quick break here, both of you, if you would stay with us here. We have so much more to discuss and we're back in just a moment. Stay close.
PAUL: Well, Ukrainian officials accuse pro-Russian rebels are trying to hide evidence that a Russian-made missile shot down Flight MH17.
PAUL: Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing growing international pressure to get the rebels to lay down their weapons and allow investigators full access to that crash site of which they do not yet have. One hundred ninety-three of the victims were from the Netherlands, including a young man with dual U.S. citizenship. The Dutch foreign minister says he's furious at reports that some of the bodies were moved, even dragged around that crash site.
The prime minister of the Netherlands and Australia, both of them say it's time for Putin to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK RUTTE, PRIME MINISTER OF NETHERLANDS (through translator): I am late for this news conference because I just had an intense telephone conversation with the Russian president. I told him that he has one last chance to show the world he means to help. He must take responsibility now towards the rebels and show to the Netherlands and the world he does what is expected.
TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Australia takes a very dim view of countries which facilitate the killing of Australian, as you'd expect us to. We take a very, very dim view of this, and the idea that Russia can wash its hands of responsibility because this happened in Ukrainian air space just does not stand serious scrutiny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: In a front page editor in Britain's "Sunday Times" headlines "This is an outrage made in Moscow", Prime Minister David Cameron says, this is a quote, "If President Putin does not change his approach to Ukraine then Europe and the West must fundamentally change our approach to Russia." Excuse me.
He ads, "This is not about military action, plainly, but it is time to make our power, influence and resources count."
Let's bring back CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo, counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd, and retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
PAUL: Thank you for being with us.
Philip, I wanted to ask you about President Putin. There are so many people he should speak out, that he should do something. But what does he do without incriminating himself? And is there any sense of what he wants?
MUDD: I think there's a couple things he can do. One is to talk about giving access to the site, for example, and talking to the rebels about ensuring there is site access.
I note one of the most critical factors we've talked about in the past day or two is Angela Markel. She's been cautious on this. Remember her country and the rest of Western Europe is dependent on energy supplies from Russia. So, I think despite what the Congress says and the president says, we've got to look at the Western Europeans as they try to balance their economic dependence on Russia with ensuring that they respond to the populous and put pressure on Putin.
But, again, he can talk about things like peace talks, he can take the pressure off by saying he'll create an avenue for access to the site. I think there's a lot he can do. I wouldn't be too quick to say he's cornered. I don't think so.
BLACKWELL: General, give us an idea of how you rate the response from the international community thus far. I mean, taking into consideration all that is there, the rebels that are there, the conflict that is going on, but we're seeing and hearing a lot of statements and political leaders but no real flush there of --
BLACKWELL: -- of action or troops, and the fight over this area, but how do you rate how the international community has responded thus far?
HERTLING: Well, I think the people of the international community are responding very well. They want something to happen very quickly and they're pushing their governments to do it.
Prime Minister Cameron's statement in the editorial this morning is a perfect example. But what I think you still see is Russia controls this area. This is beginning to become their worst nightmare, because Ukraine has been leaning toward the West for the last several years.
Remember, Victor, in 1990, when the wall came down, there were 16 members of NATO. Now, there are 28. Ukraine wants to be a part of that.
So, all of these things are Russia's worst nightmare. There are more and more Europeans going away from them.
This whole operation of putting separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine was an attempt to leverage that and regain some territory. So, the people of Europe really have to stand together and it can't be just for a short period of time. It can't be just until this problem is solved. There's got to be more of a strategic vision of how do you deal with Mr. Putin and his Russian Federation?
PAUL: Mary, real quickly. We know the NTSB and FBI went to Kiev in an advisory role. We have a forensic expert there, a general investigator.
Do you have any indication of what their involvement is going to be?
SCHIAVO: Well, their involvement is going to have to be by invitation. And then, of course, obviously, for example, for the NTSB, they're not armed, they can't go to the area without the permission of, you know, apparently the rebels, who shot down the plane, letting them through.
So they're at the mercy of the host country, but once there, they're very capable of organizing and getting right to the heart of the matter in a hurry. Of course, you know, I have to mention on Pan Am 103, which was of course the bombing, not a shoot-down, so much went on behind the scenes. There were 15,000 interviews and eventually, of course, they did get the perpetrators, there's a long story there, but that can be going on right now, and it is going on, without a doubt.
And so, I think that part of the investigation here, given what's already gone on at the crash site, the behind the scenes investigation and the real forensics and the seeking out of evidence and witnesses is probably going to be very, very valuable, maybe even more valuable than the wreckage at this point.
PAUL: All righty.
BLACKWELL: All right. Phil Mudd, Mark Hertling and Mary Schiavo, thank you for joining us this morning.
PAUL: We appreciate your insight.
MUDD: You're welcome.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
And make sure you stay tuned in for Wolf's interview with Benjamin Netanyahu. That is coming up shortly. He is sitting down with him and speaking right now.
BLACKWELL: Yes. And at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, be sure to watch Candy Crowley's interview with Secretary of State John Kerry. The two will cover the conflict in the Middle East and of course the crash of MH17 in Ukraine.
PAUL: "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" starts right now.