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NEW DAY

Flight 370 Search Goes Underwater; David Letterman Announces Retirement; Piecing Together Fort Hood Shooting; Mental Health and the Military

Aired April 4, 2014 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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ANGUS GRANT HOUSTON, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CENTRE AIR CHIEF MARSHAL: Australia agreed to lead the search and to provide support to the Malaysia investigation.

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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, the search for Flight 370 has now moved underwater. Black box locators sweeping the ocean. But they are only effective when in close proximity. So is this just another shot in the deep? The experts weight in.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New details on the man who opened fire at Fort Hood killing three. Those who knew him are speaking out. More is revealed about his personal struggle as well. And more about the soldiers whose live he cut short.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Extreme weather. Millions of people bracing for tornado outbreaks across the country's midsection. This is a day after twisters touched down toppling trees and cutting power. We're tracking it all.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Friday, April 4th, 6:00 in the east. We do have breaking news, a pivotal moment in the search for Flight 370. Pinger locaters are now in the water in the race to find the black boxes in a 150-mile target zone below the surface of the South Indian Ocean. Now remember, the shelf life for the batteries in these black boxes are about to expire. This comes as Australia takes charge of this unprecedented raise against time.

We have correspondents covering every angle. First, let's bring in Matthew Chance live from Perth, Australia -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, thanks. We're in a new phase in the efforts to try and find Malaysian Flight 370. As the search teams probe beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean in that race against time to find the missing airliner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHANCE (voice-over): Today, the underwater search begins. Two naval vessels now on location scouring a single 150-mile track within the new search area. The ships outfitted with the U.S. Navy's unmanned underwater robot and black box detector, Australian authorities say they're confident in their refined search zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The area of the highest probability as to where the aircraft might have entered the water is the area where the underwater search will commence.

CHANCE: But the "Ocean Shield" and HMS ECHO are racing against time as the batteries powering the black box pinger are expected to run out any day now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now getting pretty close to the time when it might expire.

CHANCE: Today, Australia announced they're a partner in the investigation with Malaysia and they're taking the lead in the search. This as 14 aircraft and nine ships are on the lookout for large objects that may be related to missing Flight 370.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're looking for something big. Unfortunately, all the leads we got from the satellites turned out to be other things.

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CHANCE: Australian officials say they are hoping still to find some kind of debris from the missing airliner on the surface of the Indian Ocean. But after 28 days, people are deeply frustrated because they still haven't found even a trace of Flight 370 -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: It sure seems it's all based on guess work still at this point. Matthew, thank you very much.

Australian authorities admit the location they've chosen to search is based solely on what they are calling the best data available. So what are crews up against this morning in the Indian Ocean? Let's get back over to Will Ripley on a boat monitoring the "Ocean Shield" off the coast of the Western Australia -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we know this search with the addition of this new high-technology is now a 24/7 operation. The listening equipment will be going throughout the day and an ongoing job. Weather conditions fair today similar to what we're seeing here just off the coast of Western Australia. The search zone about 1,000 miles from where we are right now. This is what they saw.

No white caps for searchers trying to get a visual spot of some sort of debris. The weather has been so unpredictable. So searchers are doing what they can with the conditions that they're facing as they continue hunting for clues in the disappearance of Flight 370 -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Will, thank you very much, off the coast of Western Australia for us this morning. Let's bring in Mary Schiavo to talk more about this. She was an aviation analyst and a former inspector general for the Department of Transportation and also, David Soucie, a CNN safety analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash."

Good morning to both of you. A lot to work through again this morning. I have to say, I have a lot of questions for you guys and I'm not sure there are any answers at this point. So we now have this new specified track that these ships are converging onto search and to begin the underwater search. This wasn't going to be done until they had found something concrete, Mary. Why are they doing this now do you think?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, because they haven't found anything concrete and they're very afraid and concerned that the batteries on the pingers may run out. And they certainly don't want to be in a position where they haven't found any debris. They will know for a fact that the batteries will have died and never had a chance to put those pinger locaters in the water and go to work. Sure they need a little bit of luck, but no one would rather that those pingers just sit on the shore, the pinger locaters.

BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right, Mary. David, the man in charge of the joint coordinating effort of this search, he said that this is the best area of highest probability as to where the aircraft might have entered the water. That's why they're going to be focusing their efforts there. We don't get a good sense of what they told us what they're basing this on. What do you assume they're basing this latest decision on?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I think what they're doing, Kate, is trying to narrow down the assumptions. They've accepted the math and that it can work. As you vary the assumptions, it varies a few points along that track that it's on. It refines it a little bit more because you're ruling out certain speeds that the aircraft might have been.

For example, if it's going 450 knots, it would be this point, 400 would be this point. When it shifts, it means to me they've exhausted those particular assumptions, not necessarily that they completed the search in those areas. Let's go onto the next assumption and see what that brings us. Bringing the search area up to the direction that it's going now. I'm pleased that those pingers are in the right place and moving forward.

BOLDUAN: Mary, there's a reason that they haven't deployed these assets quite yet. There are limitations to what they can do. Does this feel like a Hail Mary pass at this point?

SCHIAVO: Well, somewhat. Certainly for the sake of the families and the sake of the investigation, you wouldn't want to not try it. Yes, they didn't use them up to this point because they didn't have any debris field. Without a debris field, it's a bit of a Hail Mary. Sometimes, as the old saying goes, they'd rather be lucky. At least they have them in the water where the best information they have are. Beyond that, there really isn't anything better you can do. BOLDUAN: Yes, at this point, the Hail Mary is probably fine at this point by many folks. David, the Australians are also saying that they are very unlikely to bring in another pinger locator at this time. Some might think if you are going throw one pinger locater at this, why don't you throw five at this? Wouldn't this also increase your chances? What do you think of that?

SOUCIE: You know, I think it probably would. But at this point, the time's limited. All the assets they've asked for and put there are there. I think they expected to have some kind of debris field at this point. At this point, the assets that are there -- we've got the wheels on the ground in other words. I'm encouraged by the fact that least we're moving forward with the investigation.

BOLDUAN: The families are the ones who really need encouragement and answers. I want to lean on your expertise in that area for just one final question. You've represented families after disasters. The families now asked to hear communications between the cockpit and air traffic control. The investigators have denied that request. What do you think of that decision? Do you think that the families deserve to hear that at this point?

SCHIAVO: Yes, absolutely. I think they're mistaken in not giving the families all the information that they have. It's easy to sequester the families, put them in the room and play the tapes for them. After September 2011, that was done. It was tough on the families and anyone could opt out, but almost everyone wanted to hear it because they want to know. And I think that's their number one desire, they just want to know. It could be handled very effectively and discreetly. By denying them that, they're going to have more and more questions and frustration.

BOLDUAN: That's been one of the constants that we've been hearing from the families from the very beginning of this. David Soucie, Mary Schiavo, good morning, guys. Thank you so much. We'll be back with you -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Kate, we have new information for you about the shooting at Fort Hood. There are strong indications an altercation with another soldier is what sparked the violence. We're also learning more about the shooter and piecing together his past including his military record and struggles with mental health. George Howell is live at Fort Hood with the very latest -- George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. The more information we get about Lopez, the more you start to see these two personas juxtaposed together. One persona, people who knew him, knew him as a good person, a good soldier, but investigators are looking into the picture of a mentally unstable man who went on a shooting rampage.

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HOWELL (voice-over): Officials are now looking into the moments before Evan Lopez set off on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood saying it could shed light on the Iraq veteran's motive. LT. GENERAL MARK MILLEY, COMMANDER, FORT HOOD: There may have been an altercation with another soldier or soldiers and there's a strong possibility that that in fact immediately preceded the shooting.

HOWELL: But officials say there's no indication he targeted anyone specifically. We also know Lopez was undergoing a variety of treatments for depression and anxiety and PTSD. Doctors prescribing the 34-year-old medication including the drug, Ambien and anti- depressants. Those who knew him say Lopez was an extraordinary human being with lots of values. Co-workers are in disbelief.

SGT. MAJOR NELSON BIGAS, PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD: He was one of my best soldier in the organization.

HOWELL: Lopez, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter lived in this apartment. One neighbor said she spoke to him just hours before the shooting.

IESHA BRADLEY, NEIGHBOR OF SPC. IVAN LOPEZ: He didn't seem like, you know, the type that would do what he did.

HOWELL: Another neighbor was with Lopez's wife the moment she found out the shooter was her husband.

XANDERIA MORRIS, NEIGHBOR OF SPC. IVAN LOPEZ: She just broke down. I did what anyone else would do. I ran and I comforted her.

HOWELL: Around 4:00 p.m., Lopez armed with a .45-caliber handgun like this one opened fire killing three and injuring 16. The gun purchased at the same gun shop where nearly five years ago, Major Nidal Hasan bought the gun he used to shoot and kill 13 people at the same place.

FORMER SGT. ALONZO LUNSFORD, 2009 FORT HOOD SHOOTING SURVIVOR: You have to wonder, have we learned anything, what progress has been made?

HOWELL: Sergeant Timothy Owens, one of Wednesday's victims was working as a counselor when he was shot and killed. His mother says the death of her 37-year-old son still hasn't sunk in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a good person. Why would they shoot a good person that was helping them?

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HOWELL: Three people killed in the shooting and 16 injured. It looks like of those 16, all will survive the shooting. Three of them were in critical condition, but we've learned just yesterday that those three have been upgraded to serious condition.

PEREIRA: All right, George, those families in that community grieving. We see the weather is really kicking up behind you. Make sure you take shelter if it gets gnarly out there.

Let's take a look at more of your headlines now. Starting with news breaking out of Eastern Afghanistan, a veteran Associated Press photographer is dead. An AP reporter wounded when an Afghan police officer allegedly opened fire while the women were sitting in their car. Anja Niedringhaus was killed instantly. Reporter Kathy Gannon was hit twice. She is receiving medical attention we are told. Police say they have a suspect in custody.

Key parts of a CIA interrogation report are closer to being made public. The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 in a closed door session Thursday to declassify it. A final decision now rest with the White House. Two Republicans who voted against declassification called the report one-sided and partisan.

Wall Street is waiting anxiously for the March jobs report set to be released by the Labor Department in just about two hours' time. Analysts surveyed by CNN Money, predicts the economy added 213,000 jobs last month, an increase from February. They are also predicting the unemployment rate will drop to 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent. We will bring those numbers to you live at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

David Letterman calling it quits. How about that? The 66-year-old dropping the bombshell on his audience last night during the taping of "The Late Show." They responded with a standing ovation. He says his last show will be sometime next year. As he pointed out, he has been a late night host for almost half of his life, 32 years. The longest run ever. It's become more than just your career.

BOLDUAN: It has become his life. Talk about the next chapter?

PEREIRA: I know.

CUOMO: He retired one year after Johnny Carson did. He's 67. They had the store owners and people that own businesses around the Ed Sullivan Theater saying how great he's been for them over the years. What do you think gets the gig?

BOLDUAN: Is it time for a woman?

PEREIRA: A woman.

CUOMO: Really? Named Craig Ferguson.

BOLDUAN: I always thought that was a wonderful woman's name.

CUOMO: I'd like the idea of a woman. That was a strong idea. Strong.

BOLDUAN: Tina Fey --

CUOMO: Tina Fey.

PEREIRA: We're morning people.

CUOMO: Let me ask you this celebrity, why do you take yourself so seriously?

BOLDUAN: The worst late night host ever.

CUOMO: All right, we're going to take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, Fort Hood's families we want to keep them in focus because they are reeling from another massacre. Five years ago, they were promised never again. But is that doable? Especially once you know what too many troops are dealing on base. We will tell you.

BOLDUAN: Also, the underwater search for Flight 370 is now underway. They are now below the ocean surface in the south Indian Ocean, but are they close enough to detect the black box.

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CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Fort Hood, it's one of the most secure places there is. Or is it? It's a legitimate question right now because of the combination of this tight community and the soldiers that are dealing with deployment. Actually, will that make it unsafe no matter what they do? No matter what the procedures are. But the procedures that were in placed, were they followed?

These are all the questions that we're dealing with right now. Let's dig into it with retired Major General James "Spider" Marks. He's a military analyst with CNN and former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center.

Spider, it's great to have you as always.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Hi, Chris. Good morning.

CUOMO: Yesterday, we discussed what we were getting in early reporting that this seemed to have been an altercation between the shooter and someone else that got out of control.

Soldiers are going to fight. They're just regular people. They're going to get into it with each other like anybody else. What is the protocol when something like that is going on? Is there a specific procedure in place to deal with it?

MARKS: Oh, yes, leaders jump in and say break it up, dudes. Let's act like adults and let's get about the task. Your emotions might be on the surface, but like anything else, if you -- if you're not mature enough to handle it, leaders need to jump in, break it up, go to your corners. We can settle this some other way, and let's not let this happened.

CUOMO: And I ask because there's been a suggestion that it got out of control. So the question is, was there anybody there to stop it. What does that really tell us? That's really not telling us so much about the specific event, but it goes to the general question about whether or not these changes that were supposed to be put in place at Fort Hood after 2009 were. There were a lot of budget constraints, there was a lot a administrative, red tape that came into play.

What is your basis of understanding as to whether or not they did what they were supposed to do to make the place safer? MARKS: Oh, I think, following 2009, Chris, the army and the military has this thing called a stand-down. When there's a significant event like this, in the event Nidal Hasan back in 2009, I mean, incredibly tragic. the army has a stand-down and everybody gets involved. They try to figure out what went wrong. There are multiple results that come from that. It's a multi-layered report.

It's almost I guess in the particular, it's like crowd sourcing. OK, everybody. We're going to address thing. So, post-2009, I need to tell you, there was a full court press to get it right, and to make sure that all levels of security, according that particular vertical, as a result of Hasan thing, that we were getting at particularly correct.

So, I don't think there was a budget issue that followed that that might have caused the folks at Fort Hood to take a recommendation and put it off to the side a little bit so we get the budget to address it. I got to tell you, I think they jumped on that. And it was across the Army.

In this particular case, I think we're going to find out as you have a very troubled young man who was able to put a weapon, legally purchased downtown and bring it on post. Because his car was registered, he was a soldier in good standing, had a great record. The real issue is, as you and I had discussed, is, what was his mental condition?

CUOMO: That's right. And how good a safety net is there, how many people are checking, what's the responsibility of those people, and how are they able to communicate what they know to others so that, you know, guns aren't purchased by people who are unstable.

You know, and the list of recommendation you had -- the military needs to work on its ability to identify potential threats on basis. They should coordinate with the FBI to learn how to identify threats, share information among agencies and commanders about poor reports, have stricter vetting for people seeking access.

There was a question about how well they were able to implement these. They're not easy things to implement. But do you think that this situation is more proof that just like in society at large, we have to do better at monitoring people who are mentally unstable to make sure there's a safety net there.

MARKS: Oh, absolutely. We've called it -- we've labeled it PTSD. Is this a disorder or is this an illness or is this a wound? Arguably, the military is -- when you're deployed, it's traumatic and it's stressful. You happen to come back, do you have a disorder, or do you have a very deep-seated illness that needs to be addressed across the board? We have rules that are difficult to gain that access.

Now, in this soldier's case, this is an example of where the system worked. He self-declared that he had a problem, albeit it was not the exact problem that he probably has. But he was in the system. He was being evaluated. He had had a psychiatric evaluation. He was in the process. The protocol was wrapped around him. Sadly, we couldn't accelerate the diagnosis so that it was post- traumatic something, there's a disorder or illness, that's a discussion for a later time. But it's important what we label things.

CUOMO: We're going to talk to a forensic expert, a psychologist expert who worked on the Hasan case about whether he thinks the diagnosis, protocols, and the period of review are adequate with what's going on in the military because, you know, you look at this guy's case, this shooter, he was under evaluation for a long time for PTSD. This had been going on since 2011.

MARKS: Right.

CUOMO: You know, between his own self-reported illnesses and all that. So, we're going to cover that side and see whether or not the safety net was in place. How that translates into what we know happens in the rest of society, because as you well aware, Spider, the suicide rate. Yes, it's during wartime. And yes, all stressors go up during war time.

But it's from 2004 to 2008, the rate has increased so many fold more than it has the rest of society. Yes, it was during wartime. But that's something we have to deal with, when you have 25-plus suicides a day and you look at this situation as a suicide, you have a problem that you have to figure out to rectify. So we're going to be getting into those issues.

One of the solutions is what I want to end with here, Spider. There are going to be calls, we're hearing them already and they're getting louder, that the troops on base should have weapons and if they had, this would have stopped sooner with less bloodshed. Do you agree?

MARKS: Absolutely not. No, that would have exacerbated this. You would have had gun fight -- you would have more casualties, folks driving by in their cars. That's an -- I don't know who's making this recommendation, but let's have a conversation with him. Absolutely empathetically no. Bad idea.

CUOMO: Another reality to deal with is once again, the name Guns Galore. That's where the last shooter in 2009 got his gun, even though a lot of people felt, you know, he wasn't of right mind, and now it's happened again. Not the gun store's fault because they didn't know, but something we have to deal with.

Spider, thank you for the perspective as always.

MARKS: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the search for Flight 370 expanding now below the ocean's surface. Locators detecting the plane's black box -- trying to detect the plane's black box are now in the water, but are they even close to where the missing jetliner went down? Also ahead, we don't know what she looks like. Army officials won't even release her name. So, who is the woman being called a hero for doing what she did during the Fort Hood shooting?

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PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY on this Friday. It's half past the hour.

Let's take a look at your headlines now. The underwater phase of the search for Flight 370 is now underway. Pinger locators are in the water, with search teams hoping to detect the signal from the missing jetliner's black box.