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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Flight 370 Report; Initial Flight 370 Search Delayed Four Hours; Toronto's Mayor To Seek Help for Alcohol Abuse

Aired May 1, 2014 - 12:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what, we're looking forward to some fresh thinking.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Jay Robinson and Denzil Minnan-Wong from Toronto, the Toronto city council, thanks for joining us.

That wraps it upper for us at this hour. I'm Michaela Pereira.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The latest shocker in the Malaysian Airlines mystery. Not only did it take 17 minutes to notice that that plane was missing from the radar, but no one even bothered to launch a search operation for another four hours. Malaysia's preliminary report on Flight 370 only adding to the anger and the uncertainty.

Also this hour, Florida swamped by more rain in one day than Seattle gets in seven months. Homes, cars, highways, simply washed away in the floodwaters.

And, what finally convinced Rob Ford that it's time for rehab? Hmm, was it the mayor's personal epiphany and acceptance of a problem? Well, could it have been perhaps instead the publication of these images, new images, lifted from yet another video allegedly showing the crack smoking Toronto mayor. You're going to see the images in just a few moments.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Thursday, May the 1st, and welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

The mysterious disappearing airliner. Nearly two months of information has seemed to be feast or famine. Literally weeks ago, when we just didn't know anything new about what might have happened to that plane, well that's completely morphed. A day like today has been a complete feast. We are learning a lot today.

Malaysian transportation officials, under tremendous pressure, are finally allowing the public to read a preliminary report on what happened before the plane vanished from, quote, "normal and routine," and what happened afterwards, which definitely was not normal, neither was it routine. And what looks on the surface of an enormous chain reaction of missteps and oversight, Richard Quest is with me, CNN aviation correspondent, also Michael Kay, pilot and retired Royal Air Force senior officer. First to you, Colonel Kay. Seventeen minutes before any even noticed an airliner with 200 plus people on board wasn't on their radar. Is that normal?

MICHAEL KAY, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's actually an emergency protocol, Ashleigh, by the FAA, which is called an overdue procedure. And what this is, is it's 30 minutes. That's the timeline that the FAA give for any reaction to occur on something that is expected that hasn't happened. For example, when Malaysia 370 went from Kuala Lumpur and was handed over to Ho Chi Minh on 120.9, there are 30 minutes for that aircraft to establish communication is in the normal bounds of what the journey should be before air traffic control agents have to take emergency action.

BANFIELD: Let me just say this. I don't recall on 911 how long it took air traffic control to be completely stunned by the missing four aircraft. But when I see 17 minutes, let's not even go to the four hours, Richard Quest, that it took for them to scramble some kind of search operation. Seventeen minutes and I don't know where a jumbo - well, not a jumbo, a 777 is?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Seventeen minutes is not an unreasonable amount of time.

BANFIELD: Shouldn't it be?

QUEST: Well, no, no, let me finish. Seventeen minutes is not an unreasonable amount of time in these vast distances in air traffic control. It does happen. It's at the wide - it's at the wider end. But it is an unreasonable amount of time, bearing in mind Ho Chi Minh saw the plane disappear from radar. It is quite clear - look, I've gone through this with a fine tooth comb. I mean the devil's in the detail here.

KAY: Well, at first we've got (INAUDIBLE) -

BANFIELD: And it is line by line.

KAY: At first it dropped --

QUEST: Look, look, look. At 21:04, the plane was observed on the radar screen. Nine seconds later, nine seconds later, about as long as it's going to take me to read this, at 13 the radar label disappeared from the radar screen

KAY: Let me just jump in. That that is the secondary surveillance radar label. That's the squawk (ph). That's the 2657 number.

BANFIELD: Right.

KAY: So that's not off primary radar.

BANFIELD: OK.

KAY: That's off secondary surveillance. QUEST: Right. But - so the air traffic controllers who are looking at this plane, there are two of them, there is the one in K.L., there's the one in Ho Chi Minh, they notice that this disappears. Then 17 minutes goes by and then he calls - they call back. Ho Chi Minh calls back and says we haven't - but it's not unusual.

BANFIELD: OK.

QUEST: It's not unusual.

BANFIELD: You've lost me because I don't know how long - and, of course, you can't jump on every unusual circumstance -

QUEST: Correct.

BANFIELD: Or you'd never get your work done. However, how often does it happen that an aircraft just disappears from radar and then reappears say a few minutes later? Is this standard?

QUEST: It's not -- it's not - it's not standard.

BANFIELD: OK.

QUEST: It does happen in some more remote parts of the world that the aircraft might. But there are protocols, as you rightly point out, to prevent it from becoming a crisis. Those protocols are, the plane has to report in every 10 minutes. The protocols, if you haven't heard from an aircraft within a certain amount of time, you're supposed to -- 30 minutes. The real shocker in all of this is later (ph).

BANFIELD: Is the four hours - four hours. Someone explain to me how it takes four hours -

KAY: Can I just - can I just pick up there, what Richard's point - well, Richard's point is absolutely spot on there. Can I just pick up on the graduated response? Because it goes back to your 17 minute point. There is a graduated response in emergency protocol. It's called the distress cell (ph). As Richard quite rightly pointed out, when a radar controller sees something untoward, i.e. the squawk (ph) dropping off the radar, they go to what's called a distress cell.

In that distress cell you have high frequency radio, you have cell phones, you have a lot of measures that allows you to reach out, not on VHF or UHF radio, but reach out through other means to try and get in touch with either that aircraft or an aircraft in the corridor. And then you speak to the military.

BANFIELD: I need -- I need - I need a simple answer to a frustrating question. Four hours before anybody went out to help 200 plus people who'd been missing. And you yourself got confirmation from the prime minister of Malaysia that their military had them on radar.

QUEST: Well, right. The question of - the question of communications between the military and the civilian, that is something that we don't fully understand yet either in this situation or in other situations in other countries. I think -- they were not all - I have to say, they also weren't helped by a confusing piece of information. Once or twice Malaysian Airlines threw into the pot that they knew where the plane was and it was in (INAUDIBLE).

BANFIELD: Was that a mistake or is that standard?

QUEST: A mistake.

BANFIELD: Just flat out - but these kinds of mistakes happen.

QUEST: Yes.

BANFIELD: This isn't an egregious mistake?

QUEST: No, not an egregious mistake.

BANFIELD: OK.

QUEST: The really egregious mistake is that at various points during the four hour process, somebody senior in a radar center didn't say, I don't know what is happening but I know something is going wrong.

KAY: (INAUDIBLE).

BANFIELD: Something going wrong. OK. So I don't get a chance to see cargo manifests ever, but now I have one and I've flipped through it and it's actually fairly plain English. The cargo manifest on this plane, it is something that the families argued, fought, cried over, wanted, a month and a half later. After the break, we're going to dig into the report, tell you what was in the cargo and these two gentlemen, who know a lot more about aircraft and what cargo means, are going to tell you whether there's anything, anything at all suspicious, unusual or telling about the cargo, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We are talking about that data dump released today by the Malaysian government. It's a preliminary report into the events of March 8th, a date that will be remembered by so many because it was a day Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur with 239 souls on board and then no trace. Since then, as you know, nothing. No wreckage, no emergency signals. Essentially not a clue 55 days into this mystery. Richard Quest and Michael Kay are back with me.

Part of the issue has been, give us the information, anything you might have, this simple stuff that's usually released like a cargo list. And now we have it.

Richard Quest, I know you've been looking through it. Does anything stand out?

QUEST: Well, I mean the - obviously, besides the mangosteens, but we've been told by the authorities there, the police told us, they've interviewed almost (ph) the farmers. But we're also told about these batteries. These -

BANFIELD: The lithium. QUEST: Yes, the lithium. And it says the package contains lithium ion batteries. But the airline has made it quite clear numerous times that they knew they had lithium ion, they were packed properly, they were packed in the way they were supposed to be and they were in the rear of the aircraft.

BANFIELD: There's a note - I was just looking right on one of the actual manifest documents and it says, "this package contains lithium ion batteries."

QUEST: Yes.

BANFIELD: "The package must be handled with care and that a flammability hazard exists if the package is damaged. Special procedures must be followed in the event the package is damaged to include inspection and repacking if necessary." That's normal, isn't it?

QUEST: That's right. And we have no evidence whatsoever that those wasn't -- that wasn't followed. I don't believe that the batteries, at the moment, without any further evidence, are relevant.

BANFIELD: I don't have the poundage, but I know it is in the hundreds if not thousands of pounds, but -

QUEST: It's two - it's two and a half - 2.4 - 2,500 kilograms.

BANFIELD: Which is a lot. Is that normal?

QUEST: Yes.

BANFIELD: OK. So not so unusual.

What about this passenger list? I've just had it handed to me. I'm not sure that I can make anything of it, other than, Colonel Kay, we've got every single name, their nationalities, ages, gender, the class they were flying and their seat numbers. How does this help anybody?

KAY: There's a lot of - there's a lot of data that's included in this preliminary report and there's more data coming out. There's important bits of data and there's data that doesn't really - is irrelevant in terms of what it is that we're trying to - we're trying to research and investigate.

The really interesting bit for me is, when you look at the lithium batteries and you talk about the cargo hold, the context of that conversation is in a fire or a mechanical failure. It's, how could something in the cargo hold have contributed to this investigation in a way that might have brought the aircraft down? There's a really interesting bit (ph) on the timeline, Ashleigh, of 23554 (ph) and it tells us in the preliminary report, just in here, that Malaysian ops center informed Kuala Lumpur that 370 was in normal condition based on a signal download and giving a coordinance.

Now, that's really interesting to me because the signal download is what ACARS does. It gives the condition of the airplane. We know that ACARS is programmed differently by every airline in terms of the information that it gives. For example, an airline can program an ACARS as it lifts from the ground and the wheels travel to program a quick ping to the airlines to say, everything's normal.

The interesting bit, Ashleigh, here, is that it says it's in normal condition. There's two questions that that raises, how does it know that it's in normal condition, because the ACARS was switched off and that facility, it was only the handshake of the engines that was available. And if it was in normal condition, would that have implicated the other emergency protocols that were used afterward?

BANFIELD: This report that's been released, and I don't think you can really make out what I'm holding here, just - you know, it's difficult to make out with the lighting a white page, but it's -- Colonel Kay, it's five pages. It's five pages. And I have not had a chance to look at all of the preliminary reports in other air disasters but they reach into the hundreds of pages. Why only five pages?

KAY: I don't think we should be surprised by five pages.

BANFIELD: Why not?

KAY: Because of the nature of this investigation is unprecedented in terms of, we don't know where the aircraft is.

BANFIELD: Which is why I thought we'd have more.

KAY: Well, what it's broken down to is it's broken down the history, it's broken down as a rescue and rescue, and then it's broken down into that safety recommendation in terms of real-time tracking. So, I think we shouldn't be disappointed about what it contains, because I think it was always going to be shallow. It --

BANFIELD: You know what, I'm disappointed - I'm disappointed in what it's not containing and -

KAY: And that's the key.

BANFIELD: Sadly, Richard Quest had to leave. He's got a big interview that he's actually conducting right now, but he himself has it confirmed on the authority of the Malaysian prime minister himself that the Malaysian military tracked this plane after it disappeared from the civilian radar.

Why is there no mention of that, it's a biggie, in this?

KAY: National security, Ashleigh, that's why, because --

BANFIELD: National security? He told Richard Quest on television.

KAY: I'm not defending. What I'm saying is that there is incredible sensitivity about the national security elements of Malaysia's air defense that has been exposed to the whole world.

BANFIELD: This is the tip of the iceberg, isn't it? We're going to get a lot more. KAY: We can go through this a lot more.

BANFIELD: As I said, Richard Quest had to leave. Michael Kay is going to stick around.

In about 10 minutes we're going to listen to and discuss the audio, clear audio recording of the cockpit conversations with air traffic control.

It is not the recorders, those presumably are at the bottom of the ocean, but that recording communications between pilots in the cockpit and air traffic control before there was no conversation anymore.

You're going to hear them. Colonel Kay, who's a pilot, is going to weigh in on the clarity and whether there's anything giveaway, anything at all.

Also, another huge story, the Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, is taking a step that many people felt he should have taken a long time ago. He is going to rehab.

And happy anniversary, because it was one year ago this month, it's May, that this whole mess began with the first alleged crack-smoking video.

And guess what? There's another video.

We're going to talk to the Canadian reporter who has actually seen video one and video two and has spoken with the people who took them.

She'll describe it for us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: News flash, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has finally decided to head off to rehab. He made this big announcement right after word came out of another -- yes, another -- video allegedly showing him smoking crack.

These are still images of the video which is being reported by "The Globe and Mail," a newspaper in Toronto, and they show Mayor Rob Ford with a metal pipe in his right hand.

This video was allegedly shot on Saturday night. CNN has not been able to confirm what the mayor is doing in these pictures.

Mayor Ford released this statements just hours after the Canadian newspaper published the photos. Quote, "I have a problem with alcohol and the choices have made while under the influence.

"I have struggled with this for some time. I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as mayor to seek immediate help."

Moments ago, Rob Ford's brother, Doug Ford, also on the city council, gave an emotional statement to reporters in Toronto, acknowledging tough times are ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG FORD, MAYOR ROB FORD'S BROTHER: I love my brother. I'll continue to stand by my brother. And his family throughout this difficult journey. Please join me and keep rob and his family in your prayers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Rob Ford's attorney say his client is still running for re- election despite all of what we are reporting to you right now.

Joining us live is Robyn Doolittle. You may recognize that name because she's been at the forefront of the reporting on this story. She's an investigative reporter with "The Globe and Mail" newspaper, author of the book, "Crazy Town -- The Rob Ford Story."

Robyn, I feel a little like this is Groundhog Day. because you and I have joined each other on the air a few times, not the least was a year ago when you were contacted the first time about a reputed crack- smoking video.

You watched that video, and yet you have been approached one more time. You have watched the second video. Could you describe for me what you saw on this second video?

ROBYN DOOLITTLE, REPORTER, "GLOBE AND MAIL": Yeah. It's almost a year to the day actually, which the most bizarre part of this.

There's actually three videos this time. And, again, I viewed it with my colleague, Greg McArthur, who is an investigative reporter at "The Globe." And they vary in length. They're between a minute and some of them are five-and-half minutes.

They're in -- they're shot in the basement of Mayor Rob Ford's sister's house. His sister, Kathy Ford, is an admitted drug addict who's had trouble with the law.

And he's also pictured alongside a man that looks very much like Alexander Sandro Lisi, and if you recognize that name, it's because he was charged with extortion last fall in connection to trying to get the crack video after that scandal sort of came to a peak.

So there's no audio on the recordings. The recorder wasn't working with the iPhone. But you can kind of see him ranting in the way that he does in the footage. He's talking wildly on his cell phone while bobbing back and forth and gesturing sort of like this essentially.

And then in one of the -- in several of the shots, he's holding this pipe. It's a long, copper pipe that could be used to smoke crack by modifying it ever so slightly at the end.

In the photos on TheGlobeAndMail.com right now, you can see that they've affixed an aluminum dome over the bowl of the pipe that which we understand is to melt a crack rock. We, of course, have no way to know what is in the pipe, but you can see from his behavior that he is clearly impaired. He inhales. He exhales and as he exhales he's shaking his hand.

BANFIELD: Robyn, what you just said is so specific, because all the way along I've been looking at that pipe saying it kind of looks like one of the pipes you would use to smoke dope, as well, marijuana.

But you're saying it was modified in some way, that it was more in line with the protocol on smoking crack?

DOOLITTLE: Yeah. So there's a couple things we did. So, in our story, we spoke with Kathy Ford's ex-partner, who's in a legal battle with the major, but he identified with unsolicited information what Kathy Ford's crack pipe looks like. And that's this one.

And so basically, it's a long, marijuana pipe, I guess, or a pipe that could be used to smoke marijuana. And our understanding is you can put the rock in the end, cover it in aluminum foil, tie an elastic around that. And then if you cook it, it will melt the crack and then that's how you use it. There's ash involved in there in some capacity.

The individual who sold us or was trying to sell us the video identified himself as a crack and heroin dealer who was in the room who shot the footage. He says that it is absolutely crack.

There is some question about whether the smoke that the mayor blows out of his mouth is thinner, indicative of crack cocaine. The bottom line, as he inhales and exhales, his right arm starts to shake. I think that that's really significant.

But at the end of the day, like, we don't know what is in that pipe. We do know that this man has admitted to smoking crack. We do know that his sister has a history with the drug and --

BANFIELD: And that's the Kathy who you were just mentioning, his sister Kathy.

Let me just ask you. You said there's no audio on the video that you watched. Is there no audio or the reputed -- and you'll have to clarify this for me, as well. I'll just say alleged. The alleged drug dealer who was there shooting the video there and then showing it to you, have they been withholding the audio until they can get this six- figure payment that they're purportedly asking?

DOOLITTLE: I mean, they're drug dealers. I'm not saying they're the most trustworthy of individuals. But when they held up the phone they turned up the volume and it's just kind of like a static. And the phone looked a little busted, to be honest, yeah.

BANFIELD: So it was only within a very short period of time that "The Globe and Mail" -- by the way, an extremely reputable newspaper, it's like sort of "The New York Times" for anybody in America who's wondering. It's considered to be one of the --

DOOLITTLE: It's the national paper in Canada. BANFIELD: Right. It was only within -- what -- a number of hours that Rob Ford's camp -- I don't know if he was advised on this or not, but came out with these pretty clear statements about needing help.

But, weirdly, needing help, yet again, for alcohol and choices. No admission of drug use, no admission of bad behavior, bad associations. No reference at all to the actual photo of holding what looks like a drug-related piece of paraphernalia. Nothing. It sounds like it's exactly the same story all over again from last year.

DOOLITTLE: It's very significant that he is actually saying he is going to go away and get help and take a leave. That's huge, and I think it's likely influenced by an election that's going on now.

I can't get into his head. Maybe he has had a moment, but certainly, political strategists that I've been speaking with are thinking, if he's serious about wanting to run for re-election, he can't just continue on. The significance with the most recent video was it was shot a matter of days ago. It was shot Saturday morning.

And this is the first time that the public has actually seen physical evidence of the mayor of Toronto holding drug paraphernalia or paraphernalia related to drug use.

BANFIELD: Yeah.

DOOLITTLE: So he couldn't just kind of ignore it at this point.

BANFIELD: That's the understatement. You just can't ignore it at this point.

And I can't imagine the conversations going on not only at the local level amongst his colleagues, hearing his brother saying that on city council, but also on a national level.

Because you know what? This is besmirching of the reputation of my fine country, Canada.

You're doing great work, Robyn. Thank you so much for taking my phone calls at 3:00 in the morning and then also coming on the show to talk about your great work.

DOOLITTLE: Thank you for having me. Any time.

BANFIELD: I think we'll talk again soon, Robyn Doolittle joining us, newly with "The Globe and Mail," by the way, switched over and she's their new hire. Great work and congratulations.

Next, digging out and tallying the damage along Florida's Gulf Coast, if you think this is bad, just wait until you see what these pictures look like now that the water has receded, simply remarkable.

And a deadly explosion at a Florida jail overnight, how those floodwaters may have contributed to what happened and how there is a death toll.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)