Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Critical New Developments in the Search for Flight 370; High- Tech Drone Sent to Ocean Floor; Kansas Shooting Victims' Family Speaking Out

Aired April 14, 2014 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Jake, thanks very much.

Happening now, important developments in three major stories we're following.

A new phase -- the search for flight Malaysia Flight 370 moves deeper underwater, with an unmanned U.S. Navy sub.

Plus a shocking cockpit revelation -- why was the first officer's cell phone turned on?

Growing crisis -- violence flaring in Ukraine and tension between Washington m Moscow escalating.

What did President Obama just say in his phone call with Vladimir Putin?

Family's grief -- a woman who lost her father and son speaks out at an emotional and gripping news conference about the shooting at a Jewish community center.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following multiple critical new developments in the search for Malaysia Flight 370, now missing for more than five weeks.

Among the latest developments, searchers are scanning the ocean floor with an unmanned U.S. Navy submersible, the Blue Fin 21. And with daylight breaking in the area, the air search is about to resume.

Also, CNN has now learned that the first officer's cell phone was on around the time the plane vanished. Experts call that unusual. The phone was detected searching for a service by a Malaysian cell tower.

And officials are analyzing samples from a new oil slick discovered near the site where signals, possibly from the plane's black boxes, were detected.

CNN correspondents and analysts are reporting on all the angles of the story this hour. They're here in THE SITUATION ROOM. They're around the world covering the story only as CNN can.

Let's go straight to Perth, Australia.

CNN's Will Ripley is on the scene for us with the very latest on this critical new phase in this search.

So what's happening, Will, right now?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's 5:00 a.m. here in Perth, Wolf, and we're tracking several major developments expected today. The Blue Fin 21, that underwater submersible you were mentioning, is now, we believe, about halfway through its 24-hour mission. It is down close to the ocean floor, scanning for any possible debris. It's not expected to find debris on day one, but we won't know for sure until the data comes back on the ship. So by this time Tom Tomorrow, we could have more answers about what exactly is down there.

Meanwhile, we're about an hour away from the air search getting underway. But there are new questions about how much longer that air search will continue before the focus shifts entirely to the underwater search.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY (voice-over): Tonight, with hope fading that Flight 370's black boxes are still sending signals to the surface, this robotic submarine is now in the water, tasked with scanning the floor of the Indian Ocean, mapping the underwater landscape. The extreme conditions will test the limits of the U.S. Navy's Blue Fin 21.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patience. People need to have patience.

RIPLEY: The move comes nearly a week since searchers last heard pings coming from the flight data and voice recorders. With the batteries that power the pingers on those devices all but certainly drained, the Australian search team announced overnight it would stop listening for the pings and start looking for wreckage underwater.

ANGUS HOUSTON, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CENTRE: I would caution you against raising hopes that the deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle will result in the detection of the aircraft wreckage. It may not.

However, this is the best lead we have and it must be pursued vigorously.

RIPLEY: Even as the search continues underwater, tonight, new clues are emerging on its surface. Investigators say they spotted an oil slick discovered in the search zone nearly three and a half miles from where the pings were detected. Samples are now being tested to determining if they're from the missing plane.

Meantime, the chances of finding debris on the surface are growing slimmer, after weeks of, at times, turbulent weather, including a tropical cyclone most likely sending anything that was floating on the surface underwater.

With 11 military aircraft, one civil aircraft and 15 ships assisting in Monday's search, the parameters for the surface and air search are narrowing.

Still, with so much time having passed since the plane went missing, the surface investigation is now expected to begin wrapping up. Officials are now suggesting the organized search will keep its focus beneath the ocean surface.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

RIPLEY: We could see the air search tapering off later this week, Wolf, but we do know one thing is sure. The Blue Fin 21 has a lot of work ahead, work that is expected to be slow and grueling, but very important for the families of those 239 people.

BLITZER: Well, said.

All right, Will, thank you.

We're also learning of a baffling new twist that's raising new questions about the plane's disappearance and it involves a cell phone in the cockpit.

Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is working this part of the story for us -- Pam, tell us what you've learned.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this latest piece of information could be telling. CNN is learning from sources the co- pilot's phone was not turned off like it should have been. And adding to this mystery, it was on after the jet full of passengers disappeared.

It's information Malaysian officials shared with U.S. investigators and the aviation experts. And law enforcement officials we've spoken with believe this opens -- believes that this opens up even more questions about what was happening in the cockpit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Sources tell CNN First Officer Fariq Hamid's cell phone was on and searching for service roughly half an hour after all of Flight 370's communications mysteriously shut off, information, CNN has learned, that Malaysian authorities first gave to the U.S. a while ago.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It would be very rare, in my opinion, to have someone with a cell phone on in the cockpit. It's never supposed to be on at all. It's part of every checklist of every airline I'm familiar with.

BROWN: Sources say Malaysian authorities had told the U.S. that a cell tower near Penang, Malaysia, roughly 250 miles from where the plane turned around, picked up a roaming signal from Hamid's cell phone, suggesting his was the only phone turned on after the flight's transponder turned off.

One U.S. official told CNN, quote, "He could have tried to do something with the phone. We don't know." SOUCIE: You know, the interesting thing about that is that no other phone was connected to it. It's just specifically his cell phone.

BROWN: While U.S. and Malaysian officials caution there's no evidence the first officer tried to make a call with the phone, on Sunday, Malaysia's transport minister did not deny the possibility.

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MALAYSIAN TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: As far as I know, no. But like I said, that would be in the realm of the police and the other international agencies. And when the time comes, that would be revealed. But I do not want to speculate on that at the moment.

BROWN: When the plane first went missing, authorities said millions of cell phone records were searched, looking for evidence calls had been made from the plane, but turned up nothing. Still, if Hamid's cell phone connected with the there were, it only adds to the evidence that the plane turned westward from its planned path, and that the plane was likely flying low enough for a cell tower to pick up the phone's signal.

SOUCIE: So it does make me think that perhaps it was a little lower than the 35,000 feet that we speculated because of the fact it did make the connection. Typically, there's not even time to do that. But they were still high enough in which it just made enough -- just made the connection and there were no speaking or no long period of time.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BROWN: And, Wolf, what this information doesn't tell us, according to U.S. officials, is a motive and who was alive and who was not at the time that that cell tower detected the co-pilot's phone. Also worth noting here, the aircraft never had a cell phone system installed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Pamela Brown, stay with us.

I want to bring in the rest of our panel.

Our aviation analyst, the former NTSB managing director, Peter Goelz, along with our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes -- so, Peter, what does it say to you that one cell phone was on, this one belonging to the co-pilot in the cockpit, but apparently no one -- no other signals were picked up by any other cell phones?

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it really is intriguing.

I mean what was going on?

And, you know, if the co-pilot had followed the checklist and turned off his phone as the plane taxied out, why did he turn it back on?

And I think, boy, this is intriguing. But it does confirm, I think, further, that there was something going on in that cockpit. BLITZER: Because it's very, very strange -- you've got to admit Tom, that they pick up one cell phone out of, what, 239 people on that plane?

One cell phone is turned on?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. That's true, Wolf. And I just learned, about 20 minutes ago, from a Malaysian source, that the police obtained the phone records of both pilots the very first week, right away, when the plane went missing. And the record show that there were no phone calls made -- attempted or received -- during the period following the takeoff. And they are saying that it might be possible for some other company to pick up a roaming signal, but since no call is made, maybe not charge it back to the original phone company. But they're just not sure about that.

They're just positive, though, that the captain and the co-pilot did not send or receive a phone call once that plane was in the air.

BLITZER: Pamela, why are we learning about this now, week six of this?

BROWN: Well, I can tell you that, as I said in the piece, Wolf, that Malaysians had handed over that information over to U.S. investigators a while ago. And there had been some reporting out over the weekend insinuating that a phone call had been made. So we did some additional digging.

But I just want to reiterate here, Wolf, that this was information, again, coming from the Malaysians. So they could be privy to other information that U.S. investigators just don't know about.

But at this point, it's believed that it was just the co-pilot's cell phone that connected with that tower.

BLITZER: Because, you know, and all of us know, all of us who fly -- and, Peter, let me go to you -- whenever they say turn off your cell phones, most people do that. But a lot of people don't that for whatever reason. And so it's really strange that only one cell phone was picked up. That raises a lot of questions.

What about the other cell phones?

And is there an answer to that?

GOELZ: Well, there isn't an answer. And you're right, Wolf, I mean people -- surveys have shown upwards of 30 percent of the phones on planes are not turned off and devices are not shut down, as requested. So it raises further questions on the mystery of what was going on in this cockpit.

BLITZER: You know, the other point is that -- and let me bring Tom into this, because, Tom, you know the Malaysians. You've worked with them. You worked with them when you were at the FBI. You still have your contacts over there. They're really slow in releasing these details. Sometimes they come out way, way after the fact. Why does that happen?

Why can't they just be completely transparent and share these kinds of details with all of us?

FUENTES: Well, this part of the case, which is a criminal case, that's just the way their rules are over there. They're not transparent. And what's repeatedly come out over time has been more or less leaked out or come out through a source when they've worked with another agency or told other people about what they were looking at. So this is not direct information from them, from -- at the official level, that there was a roaming charge, you know, shown for this phone at that time.

And the question about why there were no other phones, you know, is another good question.

But again, a cell tower, if it picked up, you know, usually that's relayed back to, at some point, back to the main phone company, which has that account with that phone number. And the information is -- this phone was shown to be roaming on such and such a network at such and such city. And you see that. I see that on my bills when I travel internationally and -- whether I make a call or not.

So in this case, though, when the police obtained the records early on, they don't see any roaming charges from another service or from another tower or city. They only know for a fact that no call was made or received by those two phones.

BLITZER: And, Pamela, I just want to make sure that we're clear on this. And all the U.S. sources you're talking to -- and you're talking to a lot of them -- there's no suspicion as a result simply of this cell phone trying to make a connection, that the co-pilot may have done anything wrong?

BROWN: Right. At this point, nothing is being ruled in or out. There's not necessarily any additional suspicion as a result of this information. Again, this was Malaysian data shared with U.S. investigators.

And as one of my sources said, he could have been trying to use his phone. We just don't know. Just because there was a ping or a detection from that cell tower doesn't mean that he would have been able to make a connection if he was trying to use his phone. So there's still a big question mark as to whether or not he was.

But as Tom said, there's nothing in those phone records indicating that a call was made from the first officer, from the captain and anyone else on that plane.

BLITZER: How much confidence, Peter, do U.S. officials have in what they're learning from Malaysian authorities?

GOELZ: I think they've got pretty good confidence at this point. I mean I spoke to some folks at the NTSB over the past week and they feel as though they have been fully informed. They feel the information has been accurate and that the Malaysians are digging in to get this investigation, you know, concluded. But, boy, it is an uphill struggle.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

All right, guys, stand by.

We're going to have a lot more on this story coming up, including a closer look look at the U.S. robot -- the sub that's searching deeper than ever for Flight 370.

Can it succeed where other high tech devices so far have failed?

Plus, a family reacts to the horror of that Jewish community center shooting. They lost two loved ones. Now they're speaking out in emotional terms at a remarkable news conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then they were ambushed. He was with us for a wonderful 14 years. He had a really full life for a 14-year- old. And we were very blessed. It's about us who are living and it's about loving and caring for one another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The hunt for Malaysian Flight 370 entered an important new phase today. Brian Todd is joining us with a closer look at the high- tech drone searchers that just -- that are being sent to the bottom of the Indian Ocean right now.

What are you learning, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we got -- just got access to the operators who run this drone. They acknowledge this is a very difficult job for that vehicle, but they say it's very much up to the task.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Its manufacturer calls it Bluefin-21. It's technically known as an autonomous underwater vehicle, or AUV. But for the people who run it, it's...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically a smart torpedo.

TODD: And right now it may be the best remaining hope for finding wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We were given exclusive access behind the scenes at Phoenix International, the company which runs the Bluefin, to see just how it works.

While it may launch from the side of the a search ship, the Bluefin is actually operated by remote control with help from a satellite. Its job, not to listen for pings, but to map the ocean floor and look for debris. To do that, it can use two different payloads, which have to be swapped out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This particular payload section is the acoustic section.

TODD: First, the Bluefin uses side scan sonar and an multi-beam echo sounder, detectors that bounce sound waves off objects on the ocean floor that aren't natural. If those are picked up, the Bluefin can then be brought to the surface. The sonar technology gets taken out, and high-tech cameras are put in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a high-definition black-and-white camera capable of three frames per second.

TODD: Together they can create a detailed mosaic of the ocean floor. The operators are confident, if wreckage from Flight 370 is down there, the Bluefin will find it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The technology on the AUV is good enough that we can resolve something that is -- as small as a microwave, perhaps even smaller.

TODD: But it's not an easy or fast process. It takes the vehicle two hours to dive to the bottom, 16 hours to search a 15-square-mile section of the floor and two more hours to return to the surface. Then it takes another four hours to download and analyze the data collected. That means just one mission of the Bluefin-21 takes at least 24 hours to complete, meaning the search could drag on.

DAVID KELLY, PRESIDENT/CEO, BLUEFIN ROBOTICS: Given the size of the search area, that could take six, eight weeks. It's a weeks and months' type of problem to cover that amount of area.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now at the end of that period, if there is a successful find, the next step would be to send deep-diving remotely-operated vehicles, ROVs, to actually pick up wreckage and possible grab the black boxes, if they can find them. The Remora-3, made by Phoenix International, has manipulator arms that can do that. It picked up wreckage from Air France 447 in the Atlantic. And that was more than 12,000 feet below the surface -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A very technically complicated mission. On a typical mission to the bottom for the Bluefin, Brian, is any of it preprogrammed, or do they sort of do it freelance style?

TODD: They tell us they do a little bit of both, Wolf. People at Phoenix say it's got a program in it to run a certain distance, a certain length and height off the ocean floor. For other specific movements, they speak to it acoustically from the ship, but it cannot send data back to the ship in real time. That's the one drawback. They've got to bring it up, analyze the data once they recharge the batteries, and then send it back down.

BLITZER: Good explanation, Brian Todd. Thank you. So if the searchers are right, the wreckage for Flight 370 may be under about three miles of water. For more on the challenges of hunting for anything at the bottom of the ocean, we're joined by oceanographer Ellen Prager. She's joining us from Miami.

Ellen, first of all, was it right to send that Bluefin-21 down now and effectively give up on the batteries for those two black boxes?

ELLEN PRAGER, OCEANOGRAPHER: Well, I think the team really didn't have a choice. I mean, at this point, if those pings are really coming from the black box, they need to start looking for the wreckage on the bottom if they're not going to get any more signals from the black boxes.

BLITZER: How good is this Bluefin-21 in finding -- let's say there's a black box at the bottom there in this area, whatever relatively small area it is, how good would it be in finding one of those black boxes?

PRAGER: Well, what it's really going to be looking for is any sort of wreckage. It's not going to be looking specifically for the black box. What the side scan sonar will do will be create a map of the bottom. Essentially, if you were looking at the land from above it and you were looking at the topography of the land, think of that underwater.

So what you're going to be looking for, once you process the data is does anything look non-natural, manmade? And then, if you can start to find a debris field, then within that debris field or wreckage you would look for the black box. So they're really just looking for something that looks manmade on the bottom.

BLITZER: Are you surprised in this day and age they can't send those signals live, stream it or whatever back to the surface; they've got to bring it back and then they've got to spend four hours reviewing the data?

PRAGER: You know, Wolf, that's one of the most frustrating things about working in the ocean, especially in deep ocean, is that we're pretty far behind space technology, and you can't stream data from a vehicle like an AUV back up to the ship. Some people are working on things called blue-green lasers to try and figure out how to do that. But yes, just think how much faster this process would be if we could do it.

BLITZER: Are you -- are you hopeful that they're going to find something within the next few weeks, based on what you know about the bottom, the floor of this ocean, where it is right now?

PRAGER: You know, for those poor families waiting to hear something, I sure hope it is. But we don't know. I mean, if you run into technical problems, you have weather delays, I'll tell you, if you work in the ocean, anybody who works in the ocean knows things go wrong. So I sure hope for the families that it's sooner rather than later, but it could be a very long time. You know, just the process of what they call it, mowing the lawn, just creating that mosaic, and then you've got to send a camera down, and then you've got to start going down there and recover the wreckage. And at those depths, it's a really difficult job.

BLITZER: How much of a problem is the silt on the floor of the ocean?

PRAGER: Well, you know, it could be a problem or it could be good. It's a problem if the debris and wreckage has sunk into the silt and covered it up.

But on the other hand, I've been a geologist for a while, and if you find disturbance in the silt, that could be something you might be able to see on the side-scan sonar. So say you have something that falls down, thinking you had, like, an asteroid impact. Obviously, not that big, but on a miniature scale you might create a sort of disturbance and the sentiment around the wreckage. And you could probably see that in the side-scan sonar.

So bad if it's covered up, good if there's clues that there is something manmade down there.

BLITZER: So it might even be useful. This oil slick that they found...

Prager: It could be.

BLITZER: This oil slick that they spotted, they've brought some oil. They're now taking a look to see if it could be oil coming from this airliner. That shouldn't be very hard to determine once they get some chemical analysis. Right?

PRAGER: Well, that's my guess. My guess is they've taken a water sample. They're going to bring it to a lab, and what they're going to look for are the hydrocarbons in the oil, evidence of jet fuel.

Obviously, the chemical composition of jet fuel, the hydrocarbons are going to be different than, say, boat fuel. So they're probably looking for the signature of jet fuel in that -- in that water sample.

BLITZER: So bottom line right now, Ellen, give me your analysis of where we go from here?

PRAGER: Well, I think it's a waiting game. I think we've got to just wait and see what comes up on the side-scan sonar, and there's a great team of people who are working with the technology. And they're also going to be very good at producing these images and looking at what looks natural and what you doesn't.

And that can be a very hard thing to do, especially if the bottom topography is rough and rugged. But best guess is once they start looking at those images, it's just going to take time. Hopefully, it's down there and again get -- get the family some news. BLITZER: Hopefully you're right. Ellen, let's wait and see. Appreciate it very much, Ellen Prager, oceanographer, helping us better appreciate the challenges that await this search.

Coming up, we're going to see how the passengers' families are reacting to today's news about the search for the missing jet. Stand by for that.

But up next, there are new and violent developments unfolding right now in Ukraine. President of the United States calling the president of Russia. What happened in that phone call? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We'll have more coverage of the mystery of Flight 370 in a few minutes, but we're also watching important developments in and around Ukraine right now. Developments that are so alarming, President Obama called Russian president Vladimir Putin today. Not only is there a new flare-up in violence in eastern Ukraine, the Pentagon today revealed a Russian attack jet made 12 threatening moves near a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea.

Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is watching all of these late-breaking developments for us. What is going on, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, his is a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia unlike any we have seen in years. That Russian jet flying threatening close to the USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer deployed to the Black Sea. Now, it flew by as you said, no fewer than 12 times, coming as close as a few hundred yards away.

We're also learning that a Russian frigate is now shadowing the Donald Cook. These moves (AUDIO GAP) intended to send a message from Russia to the U.S. as violence grows inside the Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: In one eastern Ukrainian town after another, pro-Russian militants storming government buildings and seizing them at gunpoint. As Ukrainian forces responded, the sides exchanged gunfire, killing at least one. Today, Russian president Vladimir Putin said he is alarmed by the violence. But U.S. officials place the blame firmly on him and his government.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Russia continues to engage in provocative actions in eastern Ukraine. The mere presence of the troops, in addition to what else they've done inside Ukraine, creates a threat of destabilization within Ukraine.

SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Unfortunately, the fact is that the arms seizure of buildings in six eastern Ukrainian towns yesterday and several more today mirrors the tactics that Russian forces used in the early stages of the Crimea invasion. SCIUTTO: It's a charge Russia, however, flatly denies, describing the protests as peaceful, and accusing the U.S. of orchestrating the demonstrations that overthrew Ukraine's previous pro-Russian government.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (via translator): This is hypocrisy beyond any limits.

SCIUTTO: Today, the White House confirmed that CIA director John Brennan was in Kiev over the weekend, saying that the visit was part of a broader trip to Europe. Still, the tensions are extending far beyond eastern Ukraine. Today, a Russian warplane flew by the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea at close quarters 12 times. The ship's attempts to reach the Russian cockpit went unanswered.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: U.S. officials are still focused on finding a diplomatic way to de-escalate the crisis, and this shuttle diplomacy continues. Secretary Kerry going to Geneva this week to meet with the Russian foreign minister Lavrov. We also have Vice President Biden is going to Kiev next week. He'll leave on the 22nd. All the while, U.S. officials warning of more sanctions and further military maneuvers if Russia escalates, which they accuse Russia of doing right now. But those additional steps, Wolf, have yet to materialize.

BLITZER: That's a really, really tense moment right now. Jim, stay with us for a moment. I want to bring in Fareed Zakaria into this conversation, host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria: GPS.

So the Russian planes -- you know, this doesn't happen by accident. They are effectively buzzing a U.S. warship that is in the Black Sea right now. That's a major, major provocation.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, GPS: That's a major provocation. It's a major shift. This is really how things seem to happen during the Cold War, and it was routine and there was an almost agreed upon pattern of behavior. But for 20 years, this has not happened at all.

Of course, the most important thing that is going on, as you said, the tension is about the fact that there are these armed thugs, groups that are occupying about 10 buildings in parts of eastern Ukraine. What is going to happen there? If the Ukrainian army goes in and clears those buildings out and if there is bloodshed or violence, will the Russian army, 40,000 Russia troops wading across the border in Russia, will they move in on the pretext of protecting Russian speaking nationals? If they happens, will we then escalate with that round of sanctions that Jim was talking about?

BLITZER: This was an extremely tense situation. Jim, you're there. Show us where the areas are that are causing so much concern right now.

SCIUTTO: Well, I will, Wolf. And this is what worries U.S. officials. If you look at the pattern, here are the protest cities now in the eastern part of the country, and you can see that they occupy three of the regions here. And you heard Ambassador Power there talk about what is happening here fitting a pattern that happened down here in Crimea before Russia effectively annexed it. You had those thugs down here taking over buildings, pro-Russian forces, et cetera. The Russians used that as an excuse to come in. You had that referendum; now Crimea in effect part of Russia.

The concern here is that if Russia, as Fareed said, uses this same excuse of the thugs taking over buildings, violence, threats to ethnic Russians in the building to do the same here, look at this big chunk of eastern Ukraine. If it's not officially, say, annexed by Russia, that if Russia tries to exercise its control here, possibly through a federalist move approved by the Ukrainian government, that's a massive chunk of the country that falls out of control of Kiev and more into the Russian sphere. And that's really the worry for officials now, that Russia is setting up this in here for what has already happened down here.

BLITZER: And for all practical purposes, Fareed, the Russians accusing the U.S. in effect of fomenting a lot of this. Pointing out John Brennan, the CIA director, was just in Kiev. Joe Biden this weekend is heading over there. President of the United States making these phone calls. So that's an old Cold War tactic as well.

ZAKARIA: Absolutely. The Russians have a completely alternative narrative, which is that NATO has been an aggressive force, pushing towards their border. Now what you have are American special ops and CIA forces trying to take Ukraine over.

But the crucial question that we don't know the answer to is how will the Ukrainians react now? Because what is happening in phase one, Putin was testing the West, testing what would happen when he annexed Crimea? Now he's testing the Ukrainians. Will this government actually take control over its own country? Will it do it at the cost of angering the Russians?

I don't think there's a master plan here. He pushes and he pushes and he waits to see what the response is.

BLITZER: Will Putin respond to intensified U.S. and European sanctions?

ZAKARIA: If there are energy sanctions, he will as sure as hell respond because of course 70 percent of the Russian's government revenue comes from oil, natural gas, minerals, things like that. We have been very reluctant -- by we, I mean really the Europeans have been very reluctant to do anything like that. And by the way, that could cause an economic crisis of kind of Lehman like --

BLITZER: In Germany, they depend on this kind of energy supply from Russia.

ZAKARIA: Well, the shock that this would produce, even the news of it, I think, could have a huge impact. So, we have to be honest. These things would be very painful if we were to do serious sanctions, the kind that would matter to Vladimir Putin, they would matter to every American as well. BLITZER: Well, Jim, how far is the administration, based on everything that you're hearing from your sources, willing to go in ratcheting up the economic, political, diplomatic sanctions?

SCIUTTO: Well, we know that they are preparing them, as Fareed mentioned, sector sanctions. We know that they are ready to go if the president decides to pursue them.

We also know they have other responses ready to go. When I spoke with Secretary Hagel last week, he said the commander of NATO and Europe is preparing military options in response. Again, we're not talking about attacks. We're talking about further maneuvers here. Perhaps more war planes, more ships, more exercises, that kind of thing. So they have those options now. The question is, when do they pull the trigger on those options? As Fareed mentions, when you start to talk about sector options, those costs are spread around Europe. Because when you look at the pipelines coming from Russia into Ukraine, into Europe, multiple pipelines carrying their energy supply in, once those sanctions are in effect, it's not only Russia that suffers. It's Europe, and those of course are our prime trading partners as well.

BLITZER: Yes, Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. Fareed, thanks to you as well. It's a serious, serious crisis right now.

By the way, be sure to watch FAREED ZAKARIA GPS every Sunday here on CNN. You can catch the program 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Also, 1:00 p.m. Eastern Sundays.

In a little bit, we're going live to Kuala Lumpur to hear how the Flight 370 families are reacting to today's major developments as far as the search is concerned.

But up next, a remarkable woman. She just lost her father. She just lost her son to a senseless hate crime, and has something to say to the whole world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been very personal to us, obviously, but because there is so much outpouring, we didn't want to hide and not let people grieve with us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our special coverage of the mystery of Flight 370 will continue in a few minutes. But there's other urgent news you need to know about.

A white supremacist, one-time Ku Klux Klan leader could face the death penalty for a series of what authorities are calling hate crime shootings near Kansas City. Police say Frazier Glenn Cross killed a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center and a woman at a nearby Jewish assisted living facility. Onlookers heard him shout a Nazi slogan "Heil Hitler" when he was arrested and taken away. Investigators say Cross illegally used what's called a straw purchaser to obtain his guns.

President Obama paid tribute to the victims during a combination Passover and Holy Week prayer breakfast earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers. No one should ever have to fear for their safety when they go to pray. And as a government, we're going to provide whatever assistance is needed to support the investigation. As Americans we not only need to open our hearts to the families of the victims, we've got to stand united against this kind of terrible violence which has no place in our society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Turns out, all three shooting victims were Christians. They were not Jewish. In a remarkable display of bravery today, members of the family that lost the son and his grandfather went before TV cameras to talk about what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MINDY CORPORON, SON AND FATHER WERE KILLED IN KANSAS SHOOTING: And I feel confident, from what I heard, that they didn't feel anything. They didn't know what was coming. They were ambushed. So it's going to be really hard and I wanted to tell people that last night at the vigil. This isn't easy. People keep saying, how come you're so strong? And I'm strong because I have family, I'm strong because I have faith.

I know that God did not do this. I know that there are evil, evil actions. But what we do have is each other and we have love and we have prayer and we have friends and family. Our phone is ringing off the hook. People from high school and college and people from around the United States and all of you here want to hear what we want to say.

You know, it was a horrible act of violence and my dad -- our dad and my son were at the wrong place at the wrong time for a split second. And we want something good to come out of this. We don't know what that's going to be. So we want people to let us know if they think that something good has come from it.

WILL CORPORON, SON AND UNCLE OF SHOOTING VICTIM: We do have a strong family and, boy, it's being tested. We don't know why bad things happen to good people. Nobody does. We choose not to focus on the why or what happened or -- it really doesn't matter to us. The fact remains that, you know, two of the people that we love the most in our life are now not here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Deepest, deepest condolences so those families. During our next hour, we'll go live to Kansas for the latest on the investigation. We'll also speak with an expert on why a man with such a long history of racism, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, patriot in short, was walking around and able to do such a heinous, heinous deed.

Just ahead, we'll have the latest on the search for Malaysia Flight 370, the air search that is resuming with daybreak. We'll also go live to Kuala Lumpur for new reaction from the families of the passengers. One woman explains to us why she's not mourning or grieving.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The families of Malaysian Flight 370 passengers are closely watching all the new developments in the search for the plane now missing 39 days.

Our senior correspondent Joe Johns is joining us from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Joe, you spoke with one family member who really opened up to you. What did she say?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: One of our CNN staffers did, yes, Wolf. A wife of a crew member reached after the latest news told CNN there is too much speculation. She simply does not know what to believe. She said there's not a shred of evidence so they are still hoping and praying, she said. They are keeping their fingers crossed. Carrying on with their lives in the northerly routine as hard as that might be.

She said, and here's this quote. "My husband is a crew member, so deep down in my heart, in my mind, I believe he's just gone to work. He always used to travel for long periods of time. So I'm not mourning. I'm not grieving. I'm taking this casually. I just think he's gone to work again. That's the only thing that keeps me going. That's how my children are dealing with it, too." Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Joe, a lot of the family members, they've been reluctant to discuss the missing flight. They -- many of them have remained mostly silent. Explain what's going on here.

JOHNS: Well, I think it tracks with what the wife of that one crew member said. Other things they've been saying, when they talk about this, is frustration, for example, with the briefings. Some have suggested the briefings are only a waste of time. And most family members who've expressed an opinion to us have told us that they just want some evidence about the flight -- the fate of the plane before they make any concrete statements -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, many of those family members just saying, show us the wreckage, we'll believe that until you have some wreckage, they're not going to believe it. They don't want to believe it which is totally understandable from their perspective.

All right, Joe, thank you. Joe Johns is reporting from Kuala Lumpur.

Coming up, we'll have the latest on the search for the missing plane, in the air, on the sea, deep underwater. We're getting new information.

Plus, we're going to go in-depth on that shooting at a Jewish community center in Kansas and the suspected gunman, long accused of spewing hate.