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Bombings in Baghdad; Benghazi Probe; Israel Defense Chief Apologizes to Kerry; U.S. Announces Humanitarian Aid to Syria; New Video of Tarmac Death in Asiana Crash; NM Teacher Hailed as Hero for Talking Down School Shooter

Aired January 15, 2014 - 12:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Danny, Joey, thank you both. Appreciate your insight, as always.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our pleasure, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And thank you all. It's been great having you here in Los Angeles. I'm back live in New York tomorrow. But right now, AROUND THE WORLD starts. Stay with us.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: A day of extreme violence in Iraq, with seven car bombings exploding in Baghdad. My co-anchor and friend, Michael Holmes, has spent a lot of time there and, well, he is back there for the first time in two years.

Plus, dramatic new video of the confusion and chaos in the moments after the Asiana Flight 214 plane crash in San Francisco.

And a social studies teacher is now being called a hero after staring down the barrel of a shotgun and convincing an armed student to put down his weapon.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

Bombs, death, religious fighting, we're all talking about Iraq here again. It is spinning out of control. Just today, at least 36 people died in a wave of explosions. Car bomb after car bomb blew in and around Baghdad, one after another. Two of the bombs went off near a market that was full of people.

Also, in the provinces outside Baghdad, Iraq's military is fighting against militants who are being helped now by al Qaeda. Dozens of people, mostly civilians, have died there since early December. Parts of Iraq today look more and more like they did during the most chaotic days of the war.

My AROUND THE WORLD co-anchor and friend, Michael Holmes, he is in Baghdad right now. We also want to talk to Ambassador Nicholas Burns, career U.S. diplomat, former ambassador to NATO, professor as well at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Michael, I really want to start off with you here. You're on the ground. We've heard about these numerous explosions time and time again. Where were you? Where was the crew? How close were you?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, a couple of those bombs were not that far away from where we stand right now. A mile or two. You know, it just went on and on today, Suz. I can't tell you. I mean at last count we had nine explosions around the city today. Seven of them were car bombs. Two of them were IEDs. There was an attack on a funeral up in Baquba. A school teacher's funeral of all things. A man who died yesterday. Security forces say they stopped another four car bombs before they were detonated.

Our death toll at the moment, it goes up all the time. You just mentioned a figure there. Our figure at the moment is 49. I've seen figures in local media as high as in the 70s dead. And more than 100 wounded. And, you know, as you can imagine, when we're talking car bombs, the wounds are horrific.

And, you know, I did a story a couple of years ago on people wounded in these sorts of attacks in Iraq. It's just horrific. And there is a sense here that, you know, the place is heading down a very, very dangerous road. Perhaps to that all-out sectarian war that people fear so much.

MALVEAUX: And, Michael, I mean, you're the perfect person to talk to here because you were there during the height of that violence in the Iraq War. You were also there when U.S. troops pulled out two years ago. Give us a sense, when you're on the ground, you're talking to people and you see these things happening again, how does it compare to when you were there before?

HOLMES: Yes, in the really dark days of let's say 2006, when the sectarian violence was at its worst, I mean we used to have a white board up in the office just to keep track of the deaths. It was 75 one day, 80 the next. It was 42. These are bodies found in the street. Purely sectarian attacks.

It's not at that level at the moment. These are more this sort of asymmetrical warfare, if you like. These individual attacks. But the difficulty here when you report a story like this, Suzanne, and it's important to say this, you can end up standing here reciting a laundry list of this attack and that attack. Seven guys driving trucks with construction material today in Diyala province had their trucks stopped. All seven of them shot dead. It becomes a level of insanity. And to try to personalize that is difficult.

I've got a lot of friends here, a lot of people I've worked with over the last decade of covering this war who will literally say, and it's no joke, when they leave the house in the morning, they say goodbye to their families -


HOLMES: Not knowing if they're going to come back that night. And that's not overstating it. MALVEAUX: That is unbelievable. Michael, please be safe. We appreciate your reporting. Excellent reporting day in and day out there. It is obviously a very dangerous situation there. Please be safe.

Nick, I want to bring you into the conversation here. We know that one of Iraq's deputy prime ministers says that really it's the United States' responsibility to help Iraq fight al Qaeda. That we have a part, we play a part in this. Do you think that that's true?

NICHOLAS BURNS, PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, the United States is trying, as you know, Suzanne. The U.S. has said it will send armaments and military equipment to Iraq. It's trying to give military advice. But the most important thing is, Prime Minister Maliki needs to have a more effective way of reaching out to all of Iraq and of being president -- prime minister of all of Iraq, not just the Shia community, but Sunni community.

And he needs to work on redrawing those alliances, reknitting those alliances with the Sunni tribal leaders in places like Anbar province and Fallujah and Ramadi. That's what was successful during the surge in 2007 and 2008. And it can be successful again if he gives the signal that he's going to listen to their concerns -- I'm talking about the tribal leaders now -- in order to combat al Qaeda, which is, of course, fomenting a great majority of this recent violence.

MALVEAUX: And, Michael, I want you to jump in here, if you will. Is that how the Iraqis see it? Do they believe that this is al Qaeda that's to blame? Do they think that that is what has to happen here?

HOLMES: You know, in all my years of coming here, or even during the bad years, I've never seen a more severe sectarian divide. Shia look at Sunni and say, they're terrorists, they support al Qaeda. Sunni are afraid to walk down the street in case they get randomly picked up by security forces.

Nick's nailed it there. You know, the main criticism here is that Nouri al-Maliki, when elected, he promised he would power share. He promised reconciliation. He had his fingers crossed behind his back, according to Sunnis. They've had none of that.

And, you know, I talked yesterday to Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister in the interim government, he is himself Shia, a secular Shia, and he said Nouri al-Maliki doesn't want proper democracy. He wants to run an authoritarian regime. And Sunnis are feeling angry about that. That anger, al Qaeda feeds on. And they've gone into these areas like Anbar and they've found some sympathetic ears. And that's the danger.

MALVEAUX: And, Nick, I want you to wrap this, if you will here, because this is the problem, right? I mean before the United States, U.S. troops, allied forces were successful because they had allied with the Sunnis. The Sunnis are now aligning themselves with al Qaeda. How do you change that? How do you break that apart so that Nouri al- Maliki has a chance?

BURNS: Well, he needs to listen to the concerns of the tribal leaders. The central government in Baghdad needs to be sensitive to local concerns. And make sure they're working on the real-life problems of the Sunnis who live in places like Anbar and north and west of Baghdad, which is, of course, a critical region.

And he needs to -- he needs to make the decision that he's going to be a national leader. And he's going to work with the Kurdish and Sunni communities. This is -- most of the violence can be attributed to this -- the new al Qaeda threat. But there's a way to fight it. And I think the way to fight it is to look back at what happened successfully when Iraq and the United States worked so closely together in -- from Baghdad to put down the Sunni rebellion of 2007 and 2008. There is that historical precedent at work.

MALVEAUX: Yes. And I guess the problem is whether or not the United States really has the kind of influence in determining what Nouri al- Maliki does, if he's an effective leader or not.

Ambassador Burns, thank you very much, Nick, as always. And my colleague and friend, Michael Holmes, please be safe.

We have learned now startling details about the investigation. This is into the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya. Now the Senate Intelligence Committee is now saying that 15 people who were helping the FBI investigation, they have been killed. The committee's report says it's not clear if the killings have anything to do with the investigation. So they're looking into that. The attack back in 2012 on the diplomatic compound, as you recall, left four Americans dead, including the ambassador.

I want to bring in our CNN justice reporter Evan Perez.

Give us a sense of what we're learning here about these 15 people. What was their role?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Suzanne, it's -- these are people who the FBI has tried to use to provide information, to try to figure out what happened on the -- during the attacks in the Benghazi consulate and the CIA annex there. As you know, the FBI had some trouble getting in there in the first place. Just, you know, took them a couple weeks to be -- even be able to get on the ground.

And one of the difficulties has been that the Libyan government does not control much of its own territory, including Benghazi. You have a lot of militias that are in charge there. And we know that in -- since those attacks in this past year, for instance, there have been hundreds of these attacks, there have been dozens of assassinations. And at least some of those appear to be people who have been trying to help the Americans get to the bottom of this, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: This seems rather alarmist. I mean, how are they responding, the FBI and those who are trying to get to the bottom of the investigation?

PEREZ: Well, you know, the FBI and the Justice Department has filed some charges against some people that they believe were responsible, were involved in the attacks. However, the big question is, you know, how much operational control came from other groups. Now, let me give - let's look at some of the other findings from this report that was issued by the Senate Intelligence report.

For instance, one of the things they say was that this -- these attacks were preventable. That the State Department could have heeded some of the warnings that came from intelligence agencies, that came in the months before this attack. So they could have done some more to improve security. Another of the findings is that they -- the attacks were organized, but not necessarily preplanned. And this is a big question that has swirled around the controversy over Benghazi, whether or not the administration could have done more to anticipate this.


PEREZ: That there was also another finding that there was a security team that was nearby, and whether or not they were told to stand down, the findings from this committee is that they were not told to stand down. They got there as soon as they could. And also that the administration made some confusion with its own --


PEREZ: Talking points and its own response to the controversy, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Evan Perez, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Still a lot of questions around that attack, still.

Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

An apology now to Secretary of State John Kerry after he was called obsessed and -- obsessive, rather, and messianic by one of the U.S.' closest allies. Is this apology even enough?

Plus, the U.S. spy agency is using secret radio technology to tap into computers that aren't even connected to the Internet. Those allegations, details on "The New York Times" report straight ahead.

And, better stock up on almonds, because nut prices continuing to rise. Ahead, we're going to tell you the five things that you're going to be spending more on and less on in 2014.


MALVEAUX: Israel's hawkish defense minister eating some humble pie today. He is now apologizing for describing Secretary of State John Kerry as being obsessive and messianic. Well, Ben Wedeman is joining us from Jerusalem.

We should point out, Ben, the defense minister's comments were published in a leading Israeli newspaper. Hasn't denied making these remarks.

So what is behind this, first of all, how does he explain it, and why the apology to follow? BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, actually, he didn't say these remarks to an Israeli newspaper. A journalist overheard him say these remarks and then they were published.

He didn't deny them, of course, as you said, but the context is that he's a fairly hard-liner in a fairly hard-line government which is unhappy about the fact that John Kerry is basically saying we need to start from the 1967 borders when we're looking at reviving the peace process.

And many of these officials have said that the 1967 borders, as far as Israel is concerned, are a nonstarter.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, and Elise Labott yesterday told us that, you know, there's a lot of tension because of these comments, because of these talks that are going on, and a lot of tension here. Do you think the apology is enough to move forward now with these critical peace talks he's engaged in?

WEDEMAN: Well, it's interesting that normally when dealing with its Israeli ally, the United States is fairly careful, but in this case, they came out very strongly, and very angrily, reacting to these statements.

The apology was made after a fairly late-night meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the defense minister, and I think the affair may be coming to an end.

Secretary Kerry, who's now in New York, seems to have turned the other cheek, as is appropriate for a peace maker. And he came out and said, you know, we just can't let one set of comments undermine that effort, and I don't intend to. So I think he's letting bygones be bygones. And he himself is clearly determined to push ahead with this effort.


WEDEMAN: Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: It takes a lot of effort, turning the other cheek. Ben, thanks. Appreciate it.

Secretary Kerry, focused right now on Syria, as a matter of fact, he spent the day at a conference in Kuwait where Western and Gulf nations pledged close to $1.4 billion in new aid for those affected by the Syrian civil war.

$380 million will come from the United States. That raises the total American commitment to $1.7 billion for humanitarian assistance.

And a trial could be coming soon for four defendants accused in that deadly attack inside that shopping mall in Kenya. At least 67 people were killed when gunmen stormed the west gate mall in Nairobi in September. You might recall that. A terror group based in Somalia with ties to al Qaeda has claimed responsibility. Four gunmen, they are believed to have been killed in the mall, and the four people in custody are accused of helping orchestrate that attack. A hearing to see if there is enough evidence for the trial has been continued and will continue until tomorrow.

In Indonesian, the volcano that is refusing to quiet down. Take a look at those pictures, really amazing.

Scientists, watching this mountain, saying it erupted more than 30 times yesterday, just happened yesterday. So far, more than 26,000 people who live near that volcano, they've left. They left their homes. They're trying to keep a safe distance. A thick layer, as you can see, black and grayish ash covering everything in that community.

New details about the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco, a new video now showing fighters being warned twice that a body was lying on the runway, and twice that body was run over.

We're going to have a live report, straight ahead.


MALVEAUX: Now to a stunning new video, this was taken moments after the Asiana jetliner crash in San Francisco last summer.

Now, this is what it shows. It shows emergency responders actually being warned twice that a body was lying on the runway, and it was a teenager who survived the crash, but then died after being run over by those rescuers.

We're going to get details from Dan Simon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop, stop, stop! There's a body right -- there's a body right there, right in front of you.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chilling new video obtained by CBS News giving us a rare, up-close look from a firefighter's helmet-cam, the chaotic moments first-responders encountered after Asiana Flight 214 crashed landed in San Francisco last July.

Sixteen-year-old Ye Meng Yuan was accidentally run over twice by fire trucks. Her family has since filed a wrongful death claim against the city. In particularly blunt language, it accuses first-responders of deliberately and knowingly abandoning the teen where they knew she would be in harm's way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop, stop, stop! There's a body right -- there's a body right there, right in front of you.

SIMON: Does the new video prove the tragic accident could have been avoided?

There's also this. Another camera appears to show a firefighter directing a truck around the victim.

CHIEF JOANNE HAYES-WHITE, SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT: We're heartbroken. We're in the business of saving lives and many lives were saved that day.

SIMON: This video may be crucial in understanding what happened to Ye, who the coroner says survived the crash, but died from injuries she suffered after being run over.

At the time, officials said Ye's body was obscured by foam and couldn't be seen by the trucks, that combined with the chaos of putting out the fire and rescuing victims.

MAYOR EDWIN LEE, SAN FRANCISCO: I will say this. It was very, very hectic, very emergency-mode at the crash site minutes after the airplane came to rest and there was smoke inhalation and people were coming out of the fuselage as fast as they could.

SIMON: The spectacular crash of Asiana Flight 214 was captured on amateur video and on surveillance cameras, the Boeing 777 descending too low on landing, crashing into the seawall and cart-wheeling across the runway, tragically claiming the lives of three passengers and ejecting flight attendants from the aircraft on impact.

A court may eventually have to decide whether fire crews in this video were negligent and should be held accountable for the teenager's death.


MALVEAUX: Dan Simon is joining us live from San Francisco airport.

And Dan, the first question I have here, when you listen to the video and you hear the fighters, the EMS guys saying there is a body, right? They warn there is a body on the runway. Does that indicate at all, suggest, that they knew that the victim was already deceased? Do we know if that is the suggestion there?

SIMON: You know, that's a very important question, and I can't answer that with any certainty. And I'm not sure anyone can. I haven't seen the videotape in its entirety, and it's not clear if the tape would even reveal that.

What I can tell you is that the family alleges that the fire department did not take the adequate steps to prevent this tragedy. In effect, they allege that the fighters were sloppy and careless.

At this point, the fire department is not commenting publicly about the videotape, Suzanne. All they have said, they don't comment on any pending litigation.

I think it is important, Suzanne, though, to remember that there were many heroic fighters that day who did save lives.

But as for this incident, I think there are some questions in terms of why did it take so long for this videotape to come out. And clearly, there is a perception here that fighters or the fire department is not being fully transparent with respect to this incident. So they have some questions still left to answer. MALVEAUX: All right. Dan, keep asking those questions. We'll bring them on as soon as they decide they're going to respond to all of this.

Thank you very much, Dan. Appreciate it.

We're also turning to this. A mix up in Missouri, where Southwest pilots landed the wrong airport Sunday. Were they actually distracted by a third person who was in the cockpit?

Investigators, they're trying to answer that question today, because the plane landed at a small county airport just about seven miles from the main Branson airport where it was supposed to go and came within a few hundred feet of sliding down an embankment.

Southwest says it let an employee ride in the cockpit jump seat, and it's perfectly legal, but the FAA rules state that the pilots, they can't chitchat. They've got to be all about business when they're taking off and landing. Though those pilots, they are now on paid leave, they are investigating.

Police in Roswell, New Mexico say the 12-year-old who opened fire in the middle school may have warned some classmates to stay home before yesterday's attack. Two children were wounded after the young gunman began firing in the gym with a .20-gauge shotgun. But more students could have been shot if it weren't for a social studies teacher, John Masterson.

During a vigil last night, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez said that that teacher risked his own life, convincing the student to put down his weapon.


GOVERNOR SUSANA MARTINEZ (R), NEW MEXICO: Mr. Masterson, who is a hero, who stood there and allowed the gun to be pointed right at him, for him to talk down that young boy, to drop the gun, so that there would be no more young kids hurt.


MALVEAUX: Just absolutely heroic.

The 12-year-old is in state custody now. Investigators searched his locker, his home, looking for any kind of motive. The 11-year-old boy who was shot, well, he's in critical condition. And the 13-year-old girl, thankfully, she is in stable condition.

President Obama, about to make some major changes at the NSA, not surprising.

We are also learning about a secret NSA technology that might make your private computer files not so private after all.

We've got details, coming up.