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Interview With New York Congressman Peter King; Crisis in Ukraine; Search for Flight 370; White House: No Lethal Aid to Allies in Ukraine; More Bodies Pulled from Ferry Wreckage; Talks on Long-Term Plan for Search Begin; Boston Marathoners "Take Back Finish Line"

Aired April 21, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, a critical moment in the search for Flight 370. The Bluefin-21 is scanning the ocean floor day and night and the coming hours could lead to a dramatic shift in the operation.

A massive attack targeting members of the feared al Qaeda affiliate. Were the deadly strikes prompted by this brazen video of the terror group first revealed here in THE SITUATION ROOM?

And do they have proof? Ukrainian officials now say they have direct evidence that Russian troops are trying to provoke a dangerous conflict and they're sharing that evidence with CNN.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the word. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This hour, the air search for Flight 370 is expected to resume even though hurricane-like storms are in the area right now. We're tracking the weather beneath the water. The Bluefin-21 drone is on its ninth mission to try to find any trace of the missing plane. It's expected to finish scanning the current search area within the week. Search leaders are weighing their options right now.

They will have critical decision to make very soon. We will have a live update from Australia in a moment. CNN's Miguel Marquez is standing by. And we have our team of experts right here in THE SITUATION ROOM following every new development in the search and the investigation.

Let's get the very latest from our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the area offering the best hope for finding missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 isn't turning up any wreckage so far.

And they're almost done searching this targeted zone. That is forcing investigators to reconsider their approach.


BROWN (voice-over): The Bluefin-21 back underwater today for its ninth mission. The area investigators are pinning their best hopes on is almost searched with less than a third still to go. It's a roughly six-mile radius search zone considered the most promising because pings possibly from the black boxes were detected near there as well as a final satellite handshake with the plane.

If nothing is found soon, the Australians say they will reevaluate if they're using the right tools, made the right calculations and are searching the right area.

KIM BEAZLEY, AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: You may also consider bringing in other underwater search equipment. All these sorts of things will be on the table if nothing is found in the next few days.

BROWN: That's because in the next few days, this targeted area is expected to be completely covered by the Bluefin. Last week, investigators announced the surface search would be over by now. But despite a tropical cyclone like a hurricane north of the search area and still no sign of debris, it continues.

Planes and ships scanned more than 19,000 square miles today. A U.S. chief accident investigator says lessons are being learned in the search for the missing plane.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: Water recoveries are notoriously difficult and very expensive and time-consuming. We continue to work on better recorder technology and better information coming from aircraft.

BROWN: Meanwhile, a technical briefing scheduled for passengers' families didn't happen today. Instead, families lashed out at a Malaysian diplomat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "We don't know at this point whether they're alive or dead. And you haven't given us any direct proof of where they actually are. We want our loved ones back"

BROWN: Investigators have few answers for families, but warn this search could go on for a long time.

BEAZLEY: At the outset, before we had the pings, there was an assumption this could take months and it was taking months in an environment in which we were prepared to take months. So, we will just keep going.


BROWN: And the effects of that tropical cyclone can also be felt in the search area. And this could cause potential problems.

Of course, visual searches can be tough in bad weather and it may impact the ship above the water, the Ocean Shield, but the Bluefin, itself, works well under the water and away from the weather. The big issue there is putting it down in the water and bringing it back up when there's bad weather.

BLITZER: Pamela, stand by for a moment. I want to go live to the staging area right now for the search.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is joining us from Perth, Australia, with the very latest.

What are you learning, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do know if nothing is found in the next couple days, as they work their way through this most promising area of the search zone, then they are going to basically reconfigure the search. They will go back to the drawing board, figure out if there's another area they can put Bluefin-21 down into.

At the same time, all the parties in this situation, 26 countries looking at how they can move forward if it takes a much longer time to search this area. Remember, this one area was arrived at because of that second ping from April 8 that was the strongest, clearest ping they had. The others were of poorer quality and they were -- based on that, once the pings went away, they had no more ability to go down and try to triangulate the exact location of the plane.

They're looking at now looking at this one area where the second ping came from where they believe the most likely location of the second ping came from. If they can't find it now, they will have to go back to the map drawing board, figure if it's something else they can do, and if not that, then they will to look for even a longer term plan months out, possibly multiple AUVs in that water searching hundreds if not thousands of square miles of ocean bottom.

BLITZER: We're told the weather is going to get much, much worse out there where the search is under way, almost like hurricane-like conditions. Cyclone, Cyclone Jack, as it's called -- give us a little sense of how bad the weather can be.

MARQUEZ: Yes, they're saying there's going to be heavy showers out there and the swells will get going. That will cause problems for Ocean Shield. Certainly, when the AUV comes up to the top, the Bluefin-21 and getting it connected to the ship and on to the ship itself.

As for the visual search, that will probably have the biggest effect on the visual search because the low cloud cover or whitecaps in the swells don't make their job any easier. They may put that off for a day or two until the storm goes by. But keep in mind, the visual search is already very difficult given it's been so many days since this airliner went down in this area -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Miguel Marquez in Perth for us. Thank you.

Let's bring in our panel. Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown is still with us, along with aviation our analysts Miles O'Brien and Peter Goelz.

The aerial search going on for six weeks-plus now, is it a waste? Should they just stop that?

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I think it's time to end it. I think the crews are getting tired. The planes are getting worn out. They have found nothing. It's unlikely they will find again with a new tropical storm coming in, and I think it's time to shut it down.

BLITZER: Miles, you agree?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes. Let's not forget this is dangerous work. God forbid something bad happens in this search, because these crews they're doing heroic efforts and they have to push themselves.

I think it's time to rethink that. Given the fact there's more uncertainty with the original search site, the data from which they are deciding where to search, really they're just searching in the ocean randomly at this point.

BLITZER: Pamela, what are you hearing from investigators? Should they be devoting more of their efforts underwater, what's going on underwater, in this limited space and basically abandoning this much bigger aerial search?

BROWN: Well, I think given we're a week in and there still hasn't been wreckage found, I think investigators are taking a step back and reevaluating their approach, looking at their strategy, what tools they're using and whether they should be focusing on the specific area where the second ping is.

They could retrace the arc, they could continue to work outwards from where that ping is or bring in other equipment.

BLITZER: Well, what other equipment, Miles, should they be bringing? The Bluefin-21 was supposed to be state of the art.

O'BRIEN: It is state of the art, but why not more? Why not more?

Again, I keep coming up with this idea, this effort, whether it's in the air, under the sea, or on the surface, could use a little more assets. Once they have identified the pings, you can have more than one Bluefin in sector, if you will, or other towed devices which have sonar capability. It's a big area and time is short. It's time to bring those resources in.

BLITZER: You agree, underwater resources, forget about the aerial search?

GOELZ: Yes. I think we need more probably towed resources. The Bluefin has worked as advertised, and it's done its job. But one of the things that's happened is, the ocean is deeper than we thought. It's gone down. They have extended its maximum dive depth to 5,000 meters. That may not be enough.

BLITZER: There's some speculation, you have been checking this, Pamela, that they should maybe hire some more private contractors to come in there seeing if they find nothing, this is going to drag on and on and on.

BROWN: Right. I think we could see a new phase in the search effort. We already have a private contractor with Phoenix International with the towed pinger locator as well as the Bluefin. But there is talk among investigators and stakeholders of the search to bring in other private contractors just like what we saw with Air France. That certainly happened. We could be seeing that with the new equipment we have been talking about.

BLITZER: At what point -- and it's a gruesome question -- do they issue death certificates for those on board?

O'BRIEN: I don't want to second guess this kind of thing, but it seems to me looking at the torment of those families, they need some closure. They need to start moving on with their lives. I mean, that's a difficult one.

BLITZER: Because you have worked with families in these kinds of investigations. I suspect if the Malaysian government were to say they're all dead, we have no evidence of them, we have no wreckage, we have no location, we don't have anything, but we believe they're dead, the families are not going to believe that. They're still going to believe their ones may be alive, the plane was hijacked and it's being hidden in some hangar some place.

GOELZ: Right. The issue of the death certificate may be too controversial.

But the reality is the families deserve additional financial compensation to carry them through. So far, they have gotten a $5,000 check. I think they ought to receive the amount listed under the Montreal Convention, take it from there and they ought to get it right away.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much. We're going to continue to follow this story. We will continue to follow this they and we will have more coming up later.

Richard Quest is now in Kuala Lumpur.

Other news we're following, dozens of militant are dead in Yemen after a massive, unprecedented raid on an al Qaeda operation in the Arabian Peninsula. The operation comes less than a week after CNN first reported on these new videos from a group, videos that show high-value targets who may, repeat, may have been killed.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is joining us. He's got details.

Jim, what are you hearing about the size and scale of this attack?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Based on the way the Yemenis are describing it, it's really a scope we haven't seen before. It's a combination of drone strikes by the U.S., as well as ground forces, elite ground forces over several days from the Yemeni side confirming in effect the results of some of the attacks but also getting into gunfights with some of these al Qaeda-tie militants. The Yemenis are already claiming some successes. They say some 65 militants killed, 25 of them they're describing as mid and high ranking. I'm told by U.S. officials and other terror analysts you wouldn't have this investment in resources by the Yemenis and by U.S. as well if you didn't have high-value targets involved. There's no confirmation at this point that any of the very high targets have been killed.

One of the targets was believed to be this bomb maker for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ibrahim al-Asiri, and he's the one who was behind the Christmas underwear bomb, for instance, and also for refining shoe bombs to get them past airport security that led to a warning just a couple months ago. He's believed to be on that list, but certainly no information yet he was killed.

But certainly a tremendous scale of forces being allocated here. The Yemenis at least claiming some marked success.

BLITZER: The Yemenis worked closely with the U.S. on this operation. The U.S. drone strikes, those Hellfire missiles went in. Yemeni ground forces were part of it as well.

Here's the question. Was this attack, most recent attack, this drone attack linked to the release of the al Qaeda video that surfaced last week?

SCIUTTO: Officials won't make that connection. The timing is certainly interesting. It's also certainly true the Yemeni government after this bold public showing of force in effect by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was under pressure.

You could argue the U.S. was under pressure as well to show strength in response to this. Also it's possible some intelligence value was gleaned from this video you're seeing, particularly about the location of where these people, where these leaders were meeting. We do know this, that a lot of these operations over the last 48 to 72 hours were in that province you're seeing there with the meeting took place.

It's possible some intelligence value was gleaned from it. But I think for a raid of this scale, you would need more. The U.S. would need more. The Yemenis would need more. When it comes to U.S. drone strikes, the rules of engagement are very clear. Before a strike can take place, it has to be known the targets are a direct threat to the U.S. They can't just be tied to militant groups. They have to be a direct threat to the U.S. It's a very high standard.

BLITZER: I spoke in the last hour to Tom Donilon, President Obama's former national security adviser. He makes it clear this president is not slowing down at all in his determination to use drone strikes if necessary to go after targets who have targeted the United States. And the president personally, I assume, has to sign off on these kinds of strikes.

SCIUTTO: At this level, I think as well. I'm also hearing from a number of folks who watch Yemen closely this is a sign of strength from the Yemeni government. It's not particularly strong. It's under a real existential threat from the group, so it takes risks when it carries out operations like this. I think many terror analysts, watchers were encouraged by the scale of the operation and shows a commitment from the Yemeni government there have been questions about before.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us. Dramatic video and a dramatic U.S.-led drone strike against targets in Yemen.

Let's go to Ukraine right now, where new photos may show Russia's hand in stirring up the unrest in the eastern part of Ukraine, as deadly violence threatens that fragile so-called peace agreement.

Our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is joining us live now from Eastern Ukraine with the very latest.

Arwa, tell our viewer what's going on where you are.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Ukrainian officials are greatly concerned Russia is laying down the framework to annex Eastern Ukraine, the same way it did in Crimea and they say they have mounting evidence.

BLITZER: Arwa, let's talk a little bit about it, that evidence because there were new pictures released and the pictures show apparently Russian troops dressed in camouflage who are actually in Eastern Ukraine leading some of these operations going after these Ukrainian government facilities, these buildings in Eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainians are saying, the U.S. backs them up, this proves Putin and other Russian officials are simply lying when they say Russia was not responsible for at least part of this.

DAMON: Right.

And the Ukrainians say in those pictures they released that are part of a dossier that was presented to the U.S. that the U.S. then endorsed, for one example, they have still photographs of a man they say were taken both in Slavyansk and in Kramatorsk in Eastern Ukraine. But they also have photos dating back to 2008 allegedly of this man that were taken in Georgia.

Ukrainian officials separately also gave us exclusive access to other evidence that they have. In one of these cases, they showed us a man being arrested. Whilst he was arrest, in that same room Ukrainian officials said they found explosives, and they also said they found and they showed us his military I.D. When it comes to the Ukrainian perspective, there's absolutely no doubt in their minds that Russia, Moscow is directly involved in what's happening in the eastern part of the country.

Some people we're talking to, we're hearing them have Russian accents. One individual saying, yes, he did come from Crimea. But that being said, there's no evidence we have seen on the ground of anyone being under direct orders from the Kremlin. That being said, though, Wolf, the self-proclaimed mayor of Slavyansk, for example, he had what he believed to be a fairly rational explanation for all this and he says, look, I'm a former military man, myself, and when all this happened I put out a call to all of my friends. They all have military experience and they're former military men, themselves. They came to respond to rescue us. They were from Russia and from other part of the region as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: Arwa Damon in Eastern Ukraine for us, where it's an extremely tense situation. More on the story coming up later this hour.

Chemical weapons, meanwhile, may have once again been used by the Syrian regime stirring up memories of the Obama administration's so- called red line last fall. Syria's civil war marks a very grim three- year anniversary.

Warning to our viewers, some of the video you're about to see may be very disturbing.

Our foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM watching this part of the story.

What is going on?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, even as weapons inspectors are in Syria trying to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, the U.S. and its allies believed the regime continues to use poisonous gas on the battlefield. Question is, are they going to do anything about it?


LABOTT (voice-over): A poison gas attack on a Syrian village on April 11. Infants gasp for breath behind oxygen masks at this makeshift hospital. Other men suffocating and foaming at the mouth appearing to have ingested a toxic chemical, at least two killed, dozens more wounded.

The symbol for chlorine painted on the barrel bomb used in the air attack in this opposition video. The video could not be verified by CNN, but the U.S. says it's suspicious.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical, probably chlorine, in Syria this month in the opposition-dominated village of Kfar Zeita. We're examining allegations that the government was responsible.

DAMON: U.S. officials and Western diplomats tell CNN they have indications Assad's forces launched the strike and several others in the past several months. The regime, they say, has both the chemicals and means to deliver them by air while the opposition does not.

The regime says the gas was used, but blame the attack on the rebel group al-Nusra, which has links to al Qaeda. These pictures of the aftermath of a chemical weapons attack at the hands of the regime shocked the world and so the U.S. threatened military action. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?

LABOTT: President Obama backpedaled in favor of an agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. While chlorine isn't as deadly as the sarin gas used last year, its use as a weapon of war is against international law and poses a dilemma for the U.S. as it struggles to rid Syria of its chemical weapons and deal with the war in which it has lost control. The Obama administration said it needs definitive proof before deciding how to respond.

PSAKI: We take all allegations of the use of chemicals in combat used very seriously. We're working to determine what has happened.


LABOTT: Now, chlorine technically isn't one of the chemicals Syria is required to give up under U.N. Security Council resolutions, but using it on the battlefield is against the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria is a party to.

It's a catch-22 for the U.S., Wolf, because they want to get rid of the worst chemicals and they don't want to end Syrian cooperation on that because they have seen some progress. Another thing is, the question becomes, Wolf, if the U.S. says poisonous gas was used as a weapon of war, the question becomes, what are they going to do about it? That decision hasn't been made, a real debate going on now throughout the administration on how to respond.

BLITZER: Truly is. All right, Elise Labott, thanks very much.

Just ahead, a potential drone strike in Yemen, a possible chemical weapons attack in Syria and the unrest in Ukraine, we're going to discuss it all. Former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter King, there he is. He is joining us live.

Plus, his actions are being described as -- quote -- "akin to murder." We're taking you live inside the South Korean ferry crash investigation like no other news organization can.


BLITZER: "CROSSFIRE" won't be seen tonight, so we can bring you coverage of the mystery of Flight 370 and other urgent stories we're following here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

From the major raid on al Qaeda in Yemen to deadly crisis in Ukraine, there are new threats that are emanating from around the world. Let's discuss some of those threats.

Peter King, Congressman from New York, is joining us. He's a member of the House Homeland Security Committee as well as the Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do you have any doubt that Russian troops, Russian paramilitary forces, Russian intelligence operatives, were directly responsible for the unrest in eastern Ukraine?

KING: Wolf, I have no doubt at all. Based on our own estimates, based on the NATO commander, based on people on the ground, based on journalists and just based on what happened in Crimea, I have no doubt at all that Putin an the Russians are behind this. This is part of their concerted effort to take as much of eastern Ukraine as they can, either by diplomatic pressure, or if they have to, by ultimately using troops claiming they're going in to protect the Russians in eastern Ukraine.

BLITZER: So what should the U.S. do about it?

KING: There's no easy answer, Wolf. But I think again, I can be critical of the president up until now. But let's go forward to the future. One, we should make this more a priority. We should make it absolutely clear that we're going to all we can do increase the exporting of liquefied natural gas, that we are going to work with our allies to lessen their reliance on Russia. We have to go much higher, I think, on the list as far as sanctions, going after sanctions.

And make it clear to investors around the world this is not something we're going to give Putin the exit ramp. We're in this for the long haul. We are going to have a concerted energy policy, a concerted economic policy, to keep Russia from expanding or trying to create this new empire. We should be having more military maneuvers with NATO countries in eastern Europe, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, also Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, to make it clear that we are in this.

We -- in many ways, to is to me like 1946, where Churchill and Truman realized there was a new -- not a new, but there was a Soviet government that we could not work with. I think we have to right now let Putin know we put him in that category and we will take whatever economic and diplomatic actions necessary and provide the military hardware and training to our NATO allies.

BLITZER: Ben Rhodes, the president's deputy national security adviser, told our Jake Tapper earlier today that lethal military equipment from U.S. to Ukraine is not a good idea. It wouldn't bring parity to the situation, he said, could escalate the situation right now. He said that is not the right course. Do you support the U.S. providing lethal military equipment, weapons in effect, to Ukraine?

KING: I would be skeptical right now only because what happened last week. I don't know how much the Russians have infiltrated Ukraine. I don't know how much either the Ukraine military or Ukraine intelligence forces have been infiltrated by the Russians. But I would give it to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, any of those countries in the -- along the perimeter of Ukraine and Russia.

BLITZER: All those countries you mentioned are NATO allies. Ukraine is not a NATO ally.

KING: Well, listen, if I thought it would work, I would say, yes, we should give them the military hardware. My only concern right now is whether -- is how much control Ukrainian government has over its military.

Last week when the Ukrainian army went in with their tanks, they surrendered, basically, in a matter of minutes and just turned them over to the sole Russian elements there. So I -- I -- that's my concern, would be who in the Ukraine is with us; who's with the Russians?

BLITZER: Let's talk about these -- the latest U.S. drone strikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula targets in Yemen. Based on what you know, and I know you're a member of the intelligence committee, the House Homeland Security Committee. Did they work? Were they successful?

KING: I -- I'm not at these briefings. If I did, I wouldn't be able to discuss them with you, only to say that, if these reports are true, if they are accurate, then I say the president is doing the right thing.

To me, last year, we actually slowed down on our use of drones. And sometimes the president seems apologetic about using them. But Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the most lethal element in the entire al Qaeda network. They're the ones who have the most capacity. They have people like al-Asiri, who is the leading bomb maker in the terrorist world. They are the ones who have made it their goal to attack the U.S. and to attack U.S. interests.

So whatever we can do to decimate the al Qaeda leadership in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leadership, and to weaken them, that's a step, a very strong step in the right direction. So I hope these reports are true, and I hope that we have gotten as many of them as possible.

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers some video, that brazen video that the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants, they posted it themselves. It was pretty high-definition resolution. They were pretty proud. Their faces were seen. It looked like this was almost like a recruiting video for future terrorists. You saw the video, didn't you, Congressman?

KING: I did. It actually had the No. 2 man, and the No. 1 man in al Qaeda in the -- al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Masri, was there. And that was very brazen putting that out. Really showed defiance.

And, you know, whether or not there's a connection between that video and these attacks, we'll have to wait and see. But again, if there were, I commend the president for doing it. But again, there wasn't a sort of slowing down in our use of drones over the last year, based on published reports. I think the president -- sometimes, again, he's apologetic and I think in some cases has set too many restrictions on the use of drones. But if this attack, in effect, was carried out, then it was definitely the right thing.

BLITZER: Peter King, the House Homeland Security Committee. Thanks very much, Congressman, for joining us.

KING: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our national security analyst Peter Bergen and CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom, who's done extensive reporting from inside Yemen.

You have no doubt, Mohammed, that the release of the video the other day, first seen here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and this drone strike by the U.S. while cooperating with Yemeni forces on the ground, that there was a connection?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every Yemeni official that I've spoken with, Wolf, in the past three days has said that there was a direct correlation, because the Yemeni and U.S. governments, who have so vigorously gone after al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the past few years, because they were so embarrassed by this brazen tape, as you call it, showing AQAP leaders sitting there in Yemen, looking very comfortable, basically thumbing their nose at the U.S. and the Yemenis. Because of that the Yemenis and the U.S. have to strike hard and have to strike fast and have to make a point that this will not be tolerated.

The fact is, though, we don't yet know if any high-valued targets in the AQAP organization have actually been killed, and the real work now is going to be determining through DNA testing whether or not they were able to get some of this core leadership in this organization and whether that would be blamed (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BLITZER: If there was a high-value target, the master bomb maker, or someone along those lines, Peter, I assume that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, themselves would release some kind of statement mourning his death, let's say.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I mean, think about when bin Laden was killed. You know, Al Qaeda, itself, released a statements in five days, mourning him and saying he was a martyr. So typically these organizations will release some kind of statement if one of their leaders was killed relatively quickly.

BRAZEN: Why would they do a brazen video like that, knowing it would so anger the Yemeni government, the U.S., that they presumably would join together and take this kind of action?

BERGEN: I guess people do stupid things sometimes, right. I mean, you know, it seemed like a good idea, probably, at the time, trying to show we're still in business. Despite the drone attacks have been -- more than 90 drone attacks. They had actually killed a lot of leaders of the group, more than 30 under the Obama administration. And maybe, you know, this is to show we're still in business.

BLITZER: The Yemeni government, itself, in their statement that they released, it was an interesting statement, Mohammed. You read it, as did I. They said that there were some innocents who were also killed in these U.S. drone strikes, I think three civilians. Right?

So the question is, how much damage did that cost the U.S. and the Yemeni government when civilians are killed?

JAMJOOM: Huge amount of damage. In that attack you're talking about right now, Wolf, that was on Saturday. They announced that ten militants had been killed in the drone strike. They also announced that three civilians had been killed in the same drone strike.

Well, that's an unacceptable percentage when it comes to Yemenis, and Yemenis, by and large, are upset with the fact that so many innocent civilians are killed because of collateral damage. This is also something that becomes quite dangerous for the Yemeni government, that it's used as a recruiting tool for AQAP and because it fuels anti- American sentiment.

This is one of the reasons why the Yemeni government doesn't want to talk that often about the drone strikes. But right now, they're in a situation where they're desperate. The economy is faltering. They needed much help from the international community, and they want to look like they're a good partner with the U.S. when it comes to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BLITZER: Like the criticism, the latest drone strikes show President Obama has no inclination to back away from the use of drones with these Hellfire missiles that he deems appropriate (ph).

Thanks, very, very much.

Just ahead, new arrests in a deadly ferry disaster. CNN is bringing you closer to the scene of the desperate search operation. Stand by for that. Kyung Lah is there, on the water.

And discussions are now under way for the next phase of the Flight 370 investigation. Our own Richard Quest, he is now on the ground in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


BLITZER: Right now, we're taking you closer than ever to the scene of the deadly ferry disaster and the difficult search through the wreckage. The death toll is now up to 87. More than 200 people are missing, many of them teenagers.

CNN's Kyung Lah is on a boat near the shipwreck off the coast of South Korea. She's joining us live right now with the very latest -- Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're one of the ships just outside of the exclusion zone. And I want to give you a slow look at the horizon. Take a look as my cameraman, Scott, takes a look all the way across. You can see the number of ships involved in this. And as we take in -- you a little bit closer, what we're looking at right there, that is where the search is going on right now.

Divers have a number of lines that they've made into the inside of hull. They have gotten into the cafeteria area where most of the students are.

This is difficult, challenging, and it is also a painful search.


LAH (voice-over): A grim, heartbreaking discovery in the search for passengers and crew on board the sunken ferry in South Korea. Nearly two dozen boat bodies were found Monday as hundreds still missing. The divers search the cold, murky water for more victims.

South Korea's president had harsh words for the captain and crew members of the doomed Sewol.

PARK GEUN-HYE, PRESIDENT, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): The actions of the captain and some of the crew are absolutely unacceptable. Unforgivable actions that are akin to murder.

LAH: The ship's captain and two others are already in custody, and Monday prosecutors announced four more arrests.

Captain Lee Joon-seok was officially charged with five criminal activities, including abandoning ship. And although Lee wasn't on the bridge at the time of the accident, he was also charged with failing to slow down while sailing (ph) the narrow route and making a turn excessively.

But the arrests bring no comfort to parents, many now attending their children's funerals. More details emerged over the weekend when authorities released a radio transcript revealing dramatic dialogue showing the chaos and confusion aboard the floundering ship. A crew member tells the traffic center, quote, "Please notify the coast guard. Our ship is in danger. The ship is rolling right now."

When one of the centers advises getting people into life vests, the crew member replies that it's, quote, "hard for people to move."

Another traffic service center asks, "Are the passengers able to escape?"

A crew member replies, "The ship listed too much, so it is impossible."

The transcript revealed the center also said, quote, "The captain should make the decision to make people escape, since he had a better understanding of the situation."

Captain Lee has said he did not initially order an evacuation, because the water was too cold and the currents too swift to safely jump ship.


LAH: What you're looking at live back here on the Yellow Sea at the search site of this ferry disaster, that's a crane. It is an extraordinarily large crane. We saw it close up just a few seconds ago. And that crane is eventually going to be brought in to try to help lift the 6,000-ton ferry off of the floor, out of the water. It is a difficult process.

What's happening now, though, before that does happen, Wolf, they're trying to get to all of the people who are inside. It is difficult work. This water is cold. There are a lot of waves, and it is very challenging -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Indeed. It is. Kyung Lah, thank you so much.

Just ahead, CNN's Richard Quest, he's now in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There he is. He's standing by live. He's asking some tough questions about the Flight 370 investigation. We'll talk to Richard right after this.


BLITZER: We're learning more about the long-term planning that's underway right now in the Flight 370 investigation.

CNN's Richard Quest is now on the ground in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. He's joining us live.

Richard, what are Malaysians saying to you? Do they think they're looking at the right place?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're looking at the place where they have the best information. And that, as we know, goes back to the Inmarsat handshake and which correlates almost identically to where the Australians heard the pings in the south Indian Ocean.

So, if you look at it from a purely circumstantial point of view, Wolf, yes, they are in the right place and it's a matter of time and effort before they found the necessary proof of that. The briefings that I've been having here, the people I've been talking to, they say there is an extremely high level of confidence and credibility in that Inmarsat data.

Now, when you say, why don't they make it all public, why don't they, you know, haven't they released more about it? There really isn't much more they add to it, other than to say that the necessary experts have looked at it, have reviewed it.

And here's what's interesting, Wolf. That there is a commonality of view, whether the NTSB, AAIV, Inmarsat, the local official, they all agree on that which they are seeing and where they believe the plane's remains are.

BLITZER: Let me play a little clip for you, Richard. This is the father of one of the passengers on the plane speaking in Chinese through a translator. Listen to this emotional clip.


WEN, FATHER OF MH370 PASSENGER (through translator): We don't know at this point whether they're alive or dead. You haven't given us any direct proof of whether they actually are. We want our loved ones back. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Very heartbreaking, obviously. What are the Malaysian authorities doing to deal with the heartbreak of these families, which continues now six weeks-plus into this investigation?

QUEST: The families' arguments -- or at least some of them -- are essentially this, since there's no wreckage and since there's no proof, there is still the possibility of their loved ones being alive.

And from the Malaysian authorities and, indeed, the Australians and everybody who touched this story, that is the difficult dance that they have to deal with, because on the one hand they have to acknowledge and provide the information when they request it, things like the credibility of the Inmarsat data, why didn't the emergency locator transmitters go off? What do we know about search and rescue? And then on the other side, those families that are now asking about interim payments, death certificates.

I can tell you in the last day or so, insurance companies in Malaysia have now made it clear that they will start to entertain insurance claims, even though no bodies or no wreckage has been found. And what it demonstrates, Wolf, is the significance of finding wreckage for certainty, but also how to move the process forward without seeming to be insensitive and delicate or downright wrong as they do so.

BLITZER: Richard Quest on the scene for us now in Kuala Lumpur. We're going to check back with you tomorrow, Richard. Thank you very much for your excellent, excellent reporting.

Just ahead -- running fast and moving on, Boston holds its first marathon since the bombings. We're going to check in with a survivor we've been following. How is she coping one year later?


BLITZER: One year after the Boston marathon bombings, 36,000 runners raced across the city today to take back the finish line. It was another triumph over terror and honor of the victims and the survivors, including one woman CNN has been following all year.

CNN's Poppy Harlow is in Boston now with her story.

It really is an amazing story, Poppy. Tell us all about it.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has been an honor to get to know her, Wolf, and, you know, to watch Heather Abbott walk is amazing in and of itself. But to watch Heather Abbott run tall and hard on her prosthetic leg shows us all, I think, how much good really does triumph over evil.


HARLOW (voice-over): That is courage.

HEATHER ABBOTT, BOSTON BOMBING SURVIVOR: I feel great. It was so nice to cross that finish line.

HARLOW: Heather Abbott running in the tribute race only a year after the marathon bombing mangled her lower left leg and stole her ability to walk on her own.

(on camera): Marathon Monday, what does it mean to you now?

ABBOTT: It's sort of a celebration, I think, for me of all that I've been able to accomplish this year and a time to start new memories.

HARLOW (voice-over): This is a day she refused to miss, even running the last half mile of the marathon with the woman who helped save her.

As Abbott walked into the Forum restaurant last year, one of the bombs exploded. She never made it inside. This year, she's bravely back.

When we visited Abbott in November, she showed us her four prosthetic legs.

ABBOTT: This is my water proof leg. I wear this one in the shower.

HARLOW: This one for running, another for flats, and another for high heels.

(on camera): How does it feel to put those high heels on?

ABBOTT: It feels great. It's just a part of my life that I didn't have to give up.

HARLOW (voice-over): She was fortunate to get human-looking prosthetics matched to her skin tone down to the freckles and creases on the heels.

(on camera): What's that meant to you?

ABBOTT: When I meet people that don't know me, I don't want them to focus on my leg. If it doesn't look real, they are going to.

HARLOW (voice-over): Despite Abbott's strengths, there are still very painful moments.

ABBOTT: You know, there are some downtimes that have been a little bit lonely or made me have to stop and think about what happened and my loss.

HARLOW: As for the alleged bombers, she refuses to think about them.

ABBOTT: I don't want to give them time. I don't want to give them an identity in my mind.

HARLOW (on camera): Are you angry?

ABBOTT: I'm not angry, and I don't know if that's just an emotion that I have yet to feel or if I will never feel it.

HARLOW (voice-over): And just like Boston strong, Heather strong. (APPLAUSE)


HARLOW: Heather strong, indeed.

What a day here, Wolf, watching her do that. And not only has she accomplished all of this, at the same time she has gotten officially certified to be a peer counselor for other amputees to help them just the way so many people helped her. She's also fighting for other people to be able to get those human-looking prosthetics -- something that she says helped her so significantly in her recovery.

I have a sense this is just the beginning for Heather Abbott, an amazing woman who's been generous enough to share her time and her story with us.

BLITZER: Thank you so much for sharing it, Poppy. What a wonderful story, indeed. Thank Heather from all of us.

Thanks to Poppy Harlow for that report from Boston.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead and tweet @WolfBlitzer. Certainly tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

Please be sure to join us again tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can, of course, watch us live. You can DVR the show, so you won't miss a minute.

That's it. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.