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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
Latest on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17
Aired July 18, 2014 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: LEMON: Hello everyone. It is 11 p.m. on the East Coast and this is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
You're going to look now at the site of the crash of Flight 17 in Ukraine, and we are the first network on the scene. And I really have to warn you that what CNN is finding there, very disturbing, bodies still lying in the field, wreckage and personal effects scattered for miles around.
CAMEROTA: Good evening everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Meanwhile, the world demands answers and justice for the 298 people who died. If Russia supplied the weaponry, what should the US do and what will the international response be? We will ask our experts about all of that.
But right, now, let's get right to the crash scene because human remains and pieces of the plane are still scattered across six square miles of farmland near this village in the rebel-held area of Ukraine. CNN's Phil Black is live for us at the scene. Phil, you are the only network correspondent there. Tell us what you're seeing.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can see behind me what remains of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, its passengers, crew, their belongings and baggage (inaudible). It is spread out over an incredibly wide area here. The landscape is marked dramatically by big pieces of wreckage like the one behind me. It is marked more pointedly by the many white pieces of cloth tied to sticks which were driven into the ground. They mark the locations of the many bodies that are still yet to be collected. And there are many of them. These are people who, before their moment of death, had no connection to the ongoing crisis and the violence here in Ukraine.
So, it is dramatic. It is terrible. It is still very much under the control of the pro-Russian rebels here. There is a small emergency worker contingents that are beginning some sort of recovery effort. But what we are not seeing are the big numbers of highly qualified people that are needed at a disaster site just like this in order to secure the site, recover those bodies properly with dignity, processing them, ensuring that their families get them back. And of course, those needed -- those people who'd be needed to mount sophisticated enough investigation to determine precisely what happened here.
CAMEROTA: Phil, we just talked to Mary Schiavo who said that it would take 1,000 people to do it adequately. Can you tell us what you're experience was like to get to that scene?
BLACK: It was pretty tough because, as I've said, this is a war zone. It is territory that is very much occupied by the pro-Russian groups, a lot of checkpoints. They are heavily armed. We passed convoys of their military vehicles that they have acquired, from armored personnel carriers to armored vehicles with missile batteries attached to them and so forth, regularly checked at checkpoints, terrible roads accessing this location.
It is very remote, that's the other challenge. Even in the event that the groups here decided to allow wider access to Ukrainian authorities and groups of people to come in and really see what's going on here, actually mobilizing those forces, getting them through this very remote location would be very difficult and would take a great deal of time.
So, what we're saying is that after a day and a half, it will be two days soon, the scene here has not changed a great deal. It hasn't been secured. Nothing has really been looked at very closely, the bodies remain, and there is really no reason to believe that that scenario is going to be changing at any stage, certainly not over the next coming days.
CAMEROTA: The challenges seem insurmountable at this point. Phil Black, thank you for that report. Now, let's bring in CNN's Aviation Correspondent, Richard Quest again, and Military Analyst, Lieutenant Colonel, Rick Francona. Good ahead, Richard.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I think what you're going to see in the next few hours, certainly today, is sheer unmitigated anger. And it's going to come from those countries which have lost the largest number of people. It's going to come from the Dutch and Netherlands. It will come from Australia. And with that pressure, ultimately, that will force a change or that will force something to come to. It may be the Dutch that eventually have to lead a coalition to go in here and sort this out.
CAMEROTA: Because they lost 198 ...
QUEST: Absolutely. But it's going to be anger that's going to drive this forward.
LEMON: The world is looking at us right now. What should the US do, because US official said that the missile that shot down this jet came from a Russian-made (inaudible).
LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICK FRANCONA, MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think it's pretty clear. It came from the Russian-made system. I guess we have to figure out who supplied that system. And yes, we've heard a lot of speculation that it come from Ukraine stock, that it comes from the Russians itself. I'm leaning toward the Russians itself. It just makes more sense because you just don't pick one of this up and shoot. You guys have trainings. There is more Russian involved in here than I think we're seeing.
CAMEROTA: Can you tell us more about that, colonel, because what makes this so sophisticated, this technology?
FRANCONA: Well, this is a tracked vehicle and it's carrying a radar. It's carrying a lot of electronics, all the communications gear, and it's meant to go out across rough roads and rough terrain. If you take any electronics and bounce it around like that, you need a lot of maintenance and you need people that are skilled to operate it.
A US Army Campral System, we send US Army soldiers for 26 weeks to learn how to maintain and use these systems. So, you don't just give this to a rebel group and say, "Here. Here's a weapon system for you." You need to provide the training that goes with it.
CAMEROTA: Richard, what do you think when you see Phil Black there in that empty field and he is virtually alone, and it seems as though, as you're saying, nothing will happen for the next few days. I mean is this ...
QUEST: Does any want blood? Horror, horror, you know, we are looking at the most -- the results of a heinous, wicked act. We told early, that what you -- we used the word, "Enormity," now. The true meaning of the word enormity is the graveness of the crime. And that's what you are looking at.
FRANCONA: In Ukraine, in those fields.
LEMON: The new audio recording is obtained -- I want to make sure it's from CNN by Ukrainian officials, right? And this captured the rebels describing how they received the same type launcher from Russia. Let's listen to (inaudible).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You know, it depends on where it came from, Russia, Ukraine. But when I saw that video, I think my reaction is (inaudible) listen, this could very well be legitimate. But it is really ...
FRANCONA: It's convenient.
FRANCONA: Not only this. The other recording, right after the shot down, we get that first recording then we get this recording -- and we've talked about this. And then we had that video of the missile launcher being driven away. All this comes just as perfectly. And I stand ...
CAMEROTA: But what does that mean, the fact that it's too convenient for your taste? You mean that the Ukrainians are feeding this out to cover something else?
FRANCONA: I don't know. It just -- I'm saying it's convenient. It's just I spent 28 years in doing the intelligence (inaudible) and it never works that easy.
LEMON: Yeah (inaudible).
QUEST: What we're looking at in many ways is all -- not just this picture, for example. If you show this in a novel or film, you'd say it couldn't happen this way because real life is much messier than. So, I don't know whether it's genuine or not and I take huge respect from the colonels views with the experience. So, I'm listening very closely to what you're saying, sir.
LEMON: But, Richard, we've been sitting here and we covered 370 and you could not write that either. I mean, you know, sometimes it's ...
FRANCONA: The Pentagon did say they have no reason to dispute this. And, you know, I'm just saying it's convenient.
CAMEROTA: It's a fact.
LEMON: All right.
CAMEROTA: We hear you.
LEMON: Yes. Stick around guys. We'll get back to you. Thank you very much. You know, among these 298 people who died on Flight 17. A group headed to an international AIDS conference in Australia. Bill Clinton reacted to that in an interview with CNN's Anna Coren.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: So, it's awful. I mean the -- those people are -- they're really, in a way, martyrs to the call that we're going to Australia to talk about. And I think all I can say about it now is what President Obama, what our government say, we need a way to make any definitive statements until we know exactly what happened. But it was sickening and I hope they will know and I hope they will know soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Sickening. You know, one of those AIDS workers was Glenn Thomas who works for the World Health Organization. His friend, Vittorio Cammarota, joins us now via telephone. Vittorio, I'm extremely sorry for your loss. How are you doing?
VITTORIO CAMMAROTA, GLENN THOMAS' FRIEND: Good evening. You know, I'm in a very sad moment and if you can imagine, you know, I'm devastated. Still unbelievable to think that Glenn is not there anymore.
CAMMAROTA: He was a good friend, a great colleague. And, you know, it's very hard.
LEMON: Vittorio, when did you hear the dreaded news that your friend, Glenn Thomas, was indeed on the flight? CAMMAROTA: I actually heard it yesterday morning -- my yesterday morning. I'm in Pakistan. So, I knew he was traveling but I didn't know exactly on which flight he was. And then in the morning, I heard from my colleague engineer that he actually was on that flight. So, it was a shocking news and, you know, it's still very hard to believe that he's not there anymore. We have worked together for over eight years when I was at WHO. We shared an office.
And Glen, you know, was a great colleague, great professional. He was able to bring into work, you know, special -- he had a special logic towards life. You know, he was a very smiley and, you know, always extremely positive. So, it was a great experience working with him.
LEMON: You know, everyone has love ones, right? And I'm wondering how they're doing. I understand that he leaves behind his partner, Claudio, and his twin sister, Tracey. How's the family dealing with this?
CAMMAROTA: Well, you know, I spoke to his family last night and they're completely devastated. You know, it's hard to believe that you're flying and, you know, it happens -- or what happened. I mean we will know later what was, you know, what are the real reasons. But it's hard to believe that, you know, you're going there. Glen was flying, you know, and he said to the AIDS conference, he was going there for work. And basically, you know, I mean he gave his life to his profession. So, it's very hard for all the family. They are terribly devastated.
LEMON: Yes. And we can hear it in your voice and we feel for you. Vittorio Cammarota, thank you very much. Again, we're sorry about the loss of your friend, Glen. Take care of yourself, OK?
CAMMAROTA: Thank you. You too.
LEMON: Thank you very much. You know, and another of the people lost on that flight was 25-year-old, Karlijn Keijzer, a champion rower from Amsterdam and a chemistry student at Indiana University. And joining me now by phone is her former roommate, Rachel Weigler. Rachel, thank you for joining us. How are you doing this evening?
RACHEL WEIGLER, KARLIJN KEIJZER'S FORMER ROOMMATE: Well, as well as can be expected.
LEMON: You were roommates and good friends with Karlijn at Indiana University. Is that correct? How did you hear about this accident?
WEIGLER: Yes, Karlijn and I were roommates when I moved to Bloomington to take a job, and she was in her third year working on her Ph.D. at IU in Chemistry. I was at work yesterday when the news came on, that simply said that the Malaysian Airlines flight had gone down. And then shortly thereafter, I saw that the flight was out of Amsterdam. And that, you know, you kind of have that moment that, you know, you just feel like something really bad has happened.
And so, I knew Karlijn was going to be traveling. She was going on a holiday with her boyfriend, Laurens, to Indonesia to visit friends. And so, I went straight to Facebook and pulled up her Facebook page and, you know, the first thing on there was a picture of her and Laurens at the airport that morning. And then right above that was Karlijn's sister posted about -- it simply said, "Karlijn and Laurens were in line for the 12:00 a.m. Malaysian Airlines flight. We don't have any additional information," and that was it. And it -- like your heart just sinks into your stomach, and that thought, it was devastating.
LEMON: I can't even imagine. You know, there are many people watching and I'm sure you want to pay tribute to your friend. What was she like? Tell us about her.
WEIGLER: You know, you can't -- the moment you mention Kalijn to any of her friends or anybody who knew her, they automatically smile. You can't talk about Karlijn and not smile. She was a light to everybody she knew. She was always happy, you know, she would -- we would sit and drink a glass of wine and eat cheese and just talk about how great it was to be alive and in love and happy. And she was beautiful and smart and funny and she was 100 percent genuine friend, you know. She always told you what you needed to hear, not what you wanted to hear. But you never doubted that she cared about her friends and her family, was a huge part of her life as well. When she was in the state, she was Skyping with her mom and dad and her sister, you know, everyday.
WEIGLER: So, I can't even imagine how devastated they are right now.
LEMON: Well, I had to tell you again that I'm really sorry for your loss and for the family as well. If we can do anything, please let us know. It sounds like that she and I could have been good friends, "What you needed to hear instead of what you've wanted to hear." Thank you very much, Rachel.
WEIGLER: My pleasure.
LEMON: All right.
CAMEROTA: There are 298 of those stories.
LEMON: Yeah, 25 years old.
CAMEROTA: And so beautiful.
CAMEROTA: It's really nice to see the pictures and to hear a friend remember her.
LEMON: It's hard to do that, sometimes you just don't know what to say. I hate to even ask the questions. But, you know, when -- sometimes, I think it helps to -- when we get it out and talk about it.
CAMEROTA: It does -- I mean, I've heard they want to tell the story of the people they've lost. LEMON: Yeah.
CAMEROTA: We'll be back with much more.
LEMON: Don Lemon back with Alisyn Camerota here on CNN. And in the wake of the crash of Flight 17, the world is watching Vladimir Putin and debating what to do now if Russia did indeed provided the weapons that brought down that plane. CNN's Foreign Affairs Correspondent Reporter, Elise Labott, has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Even as the investigation gets underway, the United States is laying out the case. Russia's support for rebels in Eastern Ukraine is at the root of this tragedy.
SAMANTHA POWER, AMBASSADOR, UNITED NATIONS: While it may take us some time to firmly establish who shot down a plane filled with innocents, most council members and most members of the international community have been warning for months about the devastation that would come if Russia did not stop what it started, if it did not reign in what it unleashed.
LABOTT: With casualties from about a dozen nations, the shoot down of Flight 17 has turned Ukraine into an international crisis. The Prime Minister of Australia, which lost 28 citizens, says Moscow is fueling it.
TONY ABBOT, PRIME MINISTER, AUSTRALIA: The idea that Russia can somehow say that none of these has anything to do with them because it happened in Ukrainian airspace frankly does not stand up to any serious scrutiny.
LABOTT: Will international outrage be a tipping point forcing Putin to rethink his backing for the separatists?
PROFESSOR ANGELA STENT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I think by really creating this long story in Eastern Ukraine, unleashing this hybrid war, destabilizing the country, I think probably Russia has taken on more than it realized it were. And this has now gone out of control.
LABOTT: That said, President Obama leaves Putin with a choice.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: He and the Russian Government have to make a strategic decision. Are they going to continue to support violent separatists whose intent is to undermine the government of Ukraine, or are they prepared to work with the government of Ukraine to arrive at a ceasefire and a peace that takes into account the interest of all Ukrainians?
LABOTT: The Malaysia Airlines tragedy could be a wake up call for reluctant Europeans to get behind the US plan to strengthen sanctions against Russia. The question, though, will that force Putin to back down or make him even more determined?
STENT: They maybe will wrap it down a bit. But I think the Russian Government remains to make it very difficult for this new Ukrainian Government to function as an effective government and have control over its own territory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And of course (inaudible) Elise Labott. She is with us along with Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, Ambassador James Woolsey, the Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. And I apologize for calling you Woolsey before -- Woosley before. And then Stephen Cohen, the Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies at Princeton and at NYU.
CAMEROTA: So, Mr. Woolsey, let's start with you because you were saying that you don't think that Vladimir Putin cares that this is an international crisis now or cares much about the what the international community thinks. Is there any way to make him care?
JAMES WOOLSEY, CHAIRMAN, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: I think there is. The sanctions aren't working. Our sanctions are quite modest and the European sanctions are virtually nonexistent. But we can try something new. Natural gases now, about five times cheaper than oil, so material that's made out of natural gas, let's say liquid like methanol with an M and alcohol, to drive cars on would be substantially cheaper than gasoline by a recent MIT study. It'd be about a third cheaper.
If you can reduce people's driving cost by 33 percent all over the world per mile and do it at the same time, you are driving a price of oil down to let's say $60, $70 a barrel. Mr. Putin has some very serious problems because he exists. His dictatorship exists basically on oil and gas. Gas is complicated, but oil is a pure cash count for him. And he's taking it out of your pocket and mine in order for us to be -- need to drive a third more expensively than we need to and in order for him not to have a real economy that makes anything useful. All he really does is pump oil and gas. And if we can get a much better price for that oil all over the world, within the worldwide oil market, we could make Mr. Putin -- I think we can get his attention.
CAMEROTA: There you go. Elise, is that the answer to getting Putin's attention if the downing of 298 innocent civilians isn't?
LABOTT: Well, I think it's going to be a whole range of things out. I think it's going to be not only on the economic fund. And you see that if this could go two ways, it could increase this cooperation with the investigation and, you know, and the speed for Ukraine, or he could face international isolation.
And it's not just economic. Is he going to say NATO kind of encircled him and support some of the members were? We've seen some moves in Poland and other countries. But if NATO starts encircling Eastern Europe and making it very uncomfortable for him to take over, you know, these designs on some of these other territories that is looked out, I think that that would make it very difficult. And I do -- I don't -- I do think that President Putin does care in some ways about international opinion. I think if he finds himself really isolated from the whole international community, as he did so today at the United Nations, I think ultimately that would bother him. But it is true that it would be in the pocketbook and that's not just on the energy sector. That's on the defense sector. There's a big timber industry in Russia and there's also the financial sector which the US and the Europeans are starting to hit.
LEMON: Yes. Stephen, I want to ask you this because I'm going to get to your article. But then I'm reading something here that says, "It may take months, even years, but Putin's recklessness is bound to catch up to him. When it does, the downing of MH17 may be seen as a beginning of his undoing." And that's from Businessweek, a writer from Businessweek. But your article in The Nation is, "Kiev's Atrocities and the Silence of the Hawks." The question is how would the rest of the world be allied against Russia or Putin or you don't see it that way?
STEPHEN COHEN, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF RUSSIAN STUDIES, PRINCETON, NYU: There's two problems here. I repeat what I said before. A war has been going on in Ukraine against the Eastern Cities by the government we support in Kiev. It is unreported here. That's the other half of this equation.
LEMON: What do you mean, they got -- say again or ...
COHEN: The Kiev Government which we support which kingly powered illegally when it opposed the elective president in February, as you remember, we backed it and that government has been bombing the cities of Eastern Ukraine which are predominantly Russian-speaking cities and which have look to Putin for protection. That's the backdrop to the shooting down of this airliner.
COHEN: But let's go to something else. We sit here and we talk about isolating Putin internationally, and that's been President Obama's policy. They said to Obama, "What are you going to do about Putin?" And he said, "We're going to isolate him internationally." Nice job. Putin was just in Latin America.
COHEN: He was at what they called the BRICS meeting. 400 billion people were represented there and they were lined up to sign contracts with the Russians. Putin gathered -- now, this was before the shoot down. The shoot down is going to have an impact. But when we talk about the international community, we're talking about the United State and its neighbor allies. We're not talking about China, India, many countries in the Middle East, several countries in Latin America. You need -- if you really got to talk internationally, Putin cares enormously about international opinion.
CAMEROTA: OK. COHEN: And he's even any European man. He's a fluent German speaker. He has brilliant relationship with the Chancellor of Germany. This may spoil that. But he cares about international (inaudible) he doesn't define the world the way we do as the United State and Western Europe.
CAMEROTA: Governor Richardson, what do you think is the answer to getting Putin's attention?
BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW MEXICO: Well, I do agree with the energy side. As a former energy secretary, I traveled that region. I think what the US can do, which was another one of your questions, is allow the export of American natural gas and petroleum, which you can't do now, to countries in the Eastern Europe, the NATO, and countries that recently joined Europe (inaudible) terminals that would not make Europe and Eastern Europe so dependent on Russian natural gas.
Secondly, I would put some of our missile systems in Poland to get that going again. And I think the community in Europe would welcome that. But third, I think the United Nations -- I was UN Ambassador. I think this is going to be a forum on this issue that just happened, this tragedy of unspeakable proportions, the issue of public opinion, condemnation, of what has happened. And again, we have to get the facts. Some credible entity has to say, "This has what happened," and that doesn't happened yet.
CAMEROTA: Well, it's a challenge. I mean it's obviously very hard to get to the crash site as our correspondent has shown us. But stand by everyone please because we have more questions for you. Could this escalate and what can NATO do as Governor Richardson was just talking about? We'll explore that more when we come right back.
CAMEROTA: A senior state department official says that the shooting down of Flight 17 is a "Game Changer" in Russia's relationship with the international community. So back with us are Elise Labott, Governor Bill Richardson, Ambassador Jim Woolsey, and Professor Stephen Cohen.
LEMON: Professor, I want to ask you this. The observers think that Vladimir Putin is really had the upper hand in all of these, strategically at least in Ukraine and on the global stage. Do you think the President has looked infective? Is that a fair assessment about his reaction to this and also before with Crimea?
COHEN: Well one opinion is if Obama had been tough with Putin in Syria or Crimea, this Ukrainian thing would have ended. I think that's wrong. My view is that American policy toward Ukraine and that part of the world in general, and specifically Russia, has been unwise for 20 years and it's now led almost inexorably to this Ukrainian crisis.
My hope was in voting for Obama twice that he would change policy, but he continued the policy. The policy has as its spearhead pushing NATO toward Russia's borders along with missile defense as Bill Richardson mentioned, and eventually to taking in Ukraine. That was the whole plan and it's come to this.
Until that -- by the way, there is a ray of light. And I do...
LEMON: (inaudible) course.
COHEN: Everybody knows what the negotiating points are all sides, everybody knows what it is. We don't have to go in it. They've been talking about it for months. Today the rebels said, and we don't know which group of rebels, because as Chris Cuomo reported, there are several groups, that we wanted to declare as humanitarian ceasefire so that the wreckage of the plane can be properly attended to. If Kiev says, "OK we agree," we will have a cease fire tomorrow. And if they have a cease fire tomorrow, the diplomats will start talking and they already know what to talk about in this crisis because the alternative is a terrible cold war and maybe a hot war.
CAMEROTA: Governor Richardson, you have been a diplomat, what do you think of that scenario?
RICHARDSON: Well I agree with Professor Cohen that the US-Russia relationship is very important and nonetheless it has not gone well. I do think that we're at a very critical stage where in the remaining years of the Obama administration, is it got to be mended or get better? I have my real doubts. But I think we've got to deal with the situation at hand. And I do think Putin listens. He has been hit by sanctions. We announced economic sanctions limited right before this tragedy happened. The potential of additional sanctions could happen not just sector by sector by the US, but I think a key player here is Germany.
If Angela Merkel who is a leader in the European Union, a major player in their commercial and trade with Russia, steps up sanctions on Russia should this impasse on this tragedy continue. I think it's got to make a big difference but what we also need to notice that we now have 11 countries that are got to be including France, including Britain, including Australia, including the Dutch that are severely affected by this. There's got to be intensive pressure for the International Community to act. And this is why I think President Putin needs to cease the moment and realize that he can't forget about what happened. He can't put it under the rugs ...
LEMON: And also there's going to be pressure too from families who are seeking justice and this because ...
LEMON: ... there are so many lives lost, James, so many counties including one American, how do the victims families pursue justice especially if it's, you know, in a war, it was shot down, how do they pursue justice?
WOOLSEY: They can try through the international court system but this is not going to affect Putin's behavior. Putin thinks he has our number. He's been dealt with very, very flaccidly by President Obama. And I think that he probably feels like he's got a bit of a problem here, this aircraft got shot down and he'll make a little bit of nice here and there and turn things into other directions to look at. He does not worry about what we think or do anymore.
LEMON: This is not a big enough problem to make him to -- and make him change his way.
WOOLSEY: It's a big problem for the people who died and their friends and relatives, and it's a big problem in terms of international norms. But for him, it's something that I think he will, over the course of the next few week, brush aside. He can veto anything that comes at him from the Security Council of course. And I just think it would be nice if the expectations that he's going to listen to the West, listen to us, come a changed man, it would be nice if those things occurr. I think the chances are very, very low.
LEMON: Hey Elise, you know how this goes. I'm sorry to cut you short here but, war crime?
LABOTT: I think war crime is a very specific definition of the laws of war. Certainly, some people might see this as a terrorist attack and the question is what happens down the line. Does the US start to consider? Does the International Community start to consider these groups a terrorist organization? And does, with Russian support for this groups, does Russia even become a state sponsor of terrorism?
I think President Putin is going to start to maybe rethink his support for these rebels. I think that this might be getting a little out of hand and I don't think this was his plan A, so to speak.
CAMEROTA: Elise, gentlemen, thank you so much for all of your insights.
LEMON: When we come right back, investigating the crash of Flight 17 is no easy task and it's made that much more difficult in the middle of a war zone. We're going to talk about that with our experts.
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. Investigators have a mammoth task ahead of them when they reached the crash sites.
Joining now is David Soucie, CNN's Safety Analyst and author of "Why Planes Crash". Also Mary Schiavo, Former Inspector General with the Department of Transportation. She's now an attorney for victims of transportation accidents. And Mark Dombroff, an aviation attorney and former head of the Justice Departments Civil Aviation Unit.
CAMEROTA: Mark I want to start with you. I don't have to remind everyone that this is Malaysian Air's second tragedy in the past few months. Can they survive this?
MARK DOMBROFF, FORMER HEAD OF DOJ CIVIL AVIATION UNIT: Well, I think having been involved with a number of air carriers who've gone through multiple accidents, it takes tremendous toll on the company, on the employees, on the families. I think clearly we have compounded that by the fact that they're still dealing with Malaysia 370. And I think time is going to tell whether or not they can in fact survive it, not just this is a business, but also as an institution.
LEMON: I want to get to back to that crash scene, can we for a moment. It's just unimaginable and as you point it out, Alysin, it's so eerie because it's so quite but they're no right there on the plane, what are we looking at?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, it's interesting because we've talk about this a lot that this 150 pound payload from the missile taking down this huge aircraft. And even missile experts are saying that's really not how that missile is designed to work. It's for smaller aircraft, it explodes at launches shrapnel at it and it'll disable the aircraft where it has to crash land. But to take it out the air immediately out of 480 mile an hour...
LEMON: But would that big chunk that's behind though...
CAMEROTA: What are we looking at?
SOUCIE: Yes, well what we're looking here is this is the back of the aircraft. This is what that little actuator is, the silver actuator in the picture where we're looking through the square hole right there. What that is the horizontal stabilizer actuator. So the back of the airplane, that's the plane in the back of the airplane, the whole tail of the aircraft which controls the up and down of the airplane and also the routers in that area.
So this explains so much to me because if the missile did impact right there at that spot, which by that looking at this, it did. It would have taken the whole tail of the aircraft off which would have pitched the aircraft down immediately.
CAMEROTA: What do you see when you look at this aftermath.
MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, US DOT: Well, the same thing and it's very similar to KKL 007 because in that shoot down, the same kind of missile. The missile actually didn't hit the plane, it exploded very close to the tail again and took out the controls. And even after that missile exploded at the shoot down on that plane, they had both engines still functioning and they have a little bit of cockpit voice recording after that so, I think David might have hit it.
LEMON: OK, Mark, I want to ask you this. Let's talk a little about the investigation -- there are two that are going to be on for Malaysian Airlines. How they deal within investigation in a foreign country different -- it's different -- quite different than on American soil? DOMBROFF: Well, significantly different in two respects. One is we're dealing with an investigation in a hostile area. A number of years ago, there was an accident outside Saigon during the final days of the war. And the investigators had to be flown in during daylight hours only and they had heavy security while they conducted the investigation, and then were flown out before it became dark.
I think we're dealing with a similar situation in a sense that we have hostile forces, we have control of the situation in their hands, and the investigators are pretty much at the mercy of those forces. In terms of the investigation itself, I think we've a number of references to -- Annex 13 -- ICAO Annex 13 in the way the investigation is structured. From that perspective, it's likely that the investigation is going in fact proceed under ICAO Annex 13 lead by the Ukrainians, although certainly they have reached out and indicated they'd like it to be international investigation.
I think it's more likely than not in this situation that will in fact ultimately see an international investigation with participation by a number of countries.
CAMEROTA: Mary, beyond the people who'd launched the missile, is anyone else at fault here? Will the families be able to seek any recourse because this was a dangerous zone that the plane was flying over?
SCHIAVO: Well, that would depend on the fact that come out in the days or hopefully it will -- we'll get some facts in the days and months ahead. And that will depend on what was known. Was the airplane clocking (ph) the correct codes, was there any attempt to communicate, was it the right place where it support to be, was it at the right altitude? And if it didn't do anything wrong, then that will certainly mean that they will have a difficult time. The families will have a difficult time proving liability.
CAMEROTA: But of course, we need the black boxes to answer all of those things that you've just post, don't we?
SCHIAVO: Not necessarily. No. The black boxes would certainly help but you can reconstruct a lot of that evidence from different radar tracings, from information, from, you know, simply reports of what people have seen. So, if they don't get the black boxes, they will be able to proceed with the investigation and certainly, find a multitude of fact but the black boxes help.
LEMON: Is that for -- real quickly before we got to break. Six miles, somewhere around 6 square mile areas is that standard as, you know...
LEMON: ... is that big for.
SOUCIE: ... a break of about 30,000 feet would be that are larger actually.
LEMON: All right, stay with us everyone. Stay right here. Up next, the families of those onboard demand answers from Malaysian Airlines.
We'll be right back.
LEMON: Welcome back. The heartbreak almost unimaginable for the families of those on board Flight 17.
Back now with David Soucie, Mary Schiavo and Mark Dombroff.
CAMEROTA: Mark, I want to start with you. Where do the families go for recourse here?
DOMBROFF: Well, I think there is obviously differences between the discussions we had months ago with respect to Malaysia 370 and this one. I think that one, there are lots of unanswered questions already. This one we know that the aircraft -- it appears we know the aircraft was brought down by a missile.
The airline, any airline has a contract with its passengers to deliver them from point A to point B safely. If they breach that contract, for any reason, unrelated to fault, there's responsibility under an international convention for essentially approximately $150,000 plus in United States dollars.
Over and above that in this instance since the international convention provides that if the cause of the accident were the actions of a third party, there can be no greater recovery than that $150,000 plus against the airline. Malaysia Airlines, it certainly would appear would be limited to that contractual number.
Obviously, somebody -- some creative folks, lawyers can sue the manufacturers -- there's no basis to believe the manufacturers did anything wrong. Quite frankly, there's no basis to believe that Malaysia Airlines did anything wrong.
I think the obvious people to go after the wrongdoers here, whether it's the Russians, whether it's the Separatists, whomever it maybe. Obviously there, there are problems as well. There is sovereign immunity with respect to the Russian government and the Separatists, whether or not their organization is problematic.
LEMON: But how do you do that when you're going after a, you know, a rebel group?
SCHIAVO: Well, because United States has anti-terrorist statutes and if a group is a terrorist group, you can bring actions against them. But you're not really are aiming for them, you're aiming for their bank accounts. Obviously, somebody is funding them. Look at the equipment that they have...
LEMON: Got you.
SCHIAVO: ... and so what you do is go after the terrorist and their funders. LEMON: So I want to ask you. You know, when you fly, sometimes they will say, you know, just for an example, this airline, if the Delta, as you know, northwest and that they didn't have anything to do with this. You know, what I mean? And it's called code sharing, correct?
LEMON: What does that -- does is have to do -- anything to do with compensation or with taking responsibility or some exposure to both?
SCHIAVO: It can. I'll use a real example...
LEMON: But this one was code-shared?
SCHIAVO: Many people code share, yes. There are people code-shared on this. That just means you bought a ticket on one airline and you're flying on another and often a liability is extended to both airlines. If you could bought ticket on one and then fly in another, in some circumstances, both airlines will share liability to pay the damages.
CAMEROTA: And David, you also think that Ukraine could have done more to alert airlines not to fly in this region?
SOUCIE: Certainly, they could have. They already had a restriction of 21,000 feet. They expanded it to 32,000 feet. Why didn't they go more after they had -- that was done before they had three or four aircraft shot down in that region. So, the NOTAM System, the Notice to Airmen System which is part of ICAO and...
LEMON: They just shot one down that morning, right?
SOUCIE: Yes, yes, that's right.
And so with that activity, Ukraine should have been more responsive about reporting that and there's a digital system that sends this NOTAMs out digitally to the pilots, the airlines, everybody who might be flying in that region.
LEMON: All Right.
CAMEROTA: Did it take Malaysian Airlines a long time to release the passenger manifest with this one? Did it seem like we waited longer with this Malaysian Airlines in this one?
SOUCIE: Longer with Malaysian Airlines?
CAMEROTA: Yes. We were waiting to find out about the passengers. It took -- it seemed like it took longer.
SOUCIE: Yeah, you mean with 370? Yeah? With this one, it took longer.
CAMEROTA: With this one.
SOUCIE: You know, I don't think there was extraordinary, you -- they make -- they make efforts to try to reach them first before they just send it out. You don't want to put (ph) it out like they did in Malaysia 370 with a text, so...
LEMON: Interesting to me though, I mean, you know, having -- all of us having live through here. It feels to me though, even though the source on that information is coming quicker, you know, we don't have the information from the...
SOUCIE: We have an airplane.
LEMON: No, no. I mean information from Malaysian Airlines.
SOUCIE: Oh, I see.
LEMON: And from the representatives is what I mean.
SCHIAVO: Well, I do think they learned some lessons and they learned that secrecy is not the way to go when you're trying to deal with an international air crisis and that seemed to be their modus operandi after 370.
LEMON: True. The families are waiting for information (inaudible) have you now? We're getting list...
LEMON: ... of names and we're talking to family members already...
SOUCIE: Yes. Their experience to how to handle this.
LEMON: We'll be right back, everyone.
CAMEROTA: And we're back with our experts. Mark Dombroff, can you give us your final thoughts on this?
DOMBROFF: Sure. I think that within the next 24 hours, we've got to see some order brought to the scene for the benefit of the families and the victims, and we have to see some direction with respect to the investigation itself. We haven't seen either one of those yet.
LEMON: David Soucie?
SOUCIE: We need to see an official delegation in accordance with ICAO rules taking the responsibility investigation out of Ukraine's hands and into the international.
SCHIAVO: I go one step further. These are victims of a heinous crime and if they don't respond to it and to recover their remains, the civilized nations of the world will offer military and police support.
LEMON: Yes. It sounds like you guys were all talking about order and organization, right? CAMEROTA: But there's not much indication that that will be happening in the next 24 to 48 hours. And what changes?
LEMON: Yes, yes. It's so good to have all of you. And it's especially good to have you here, Alisyn Camerota...
CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thank you.
LEMON: And I really enjoyed being with you and...
CAMEROTA: It's great to work with you.
LEMON: They're enjoying the new format and we're enjoying it as well. And wished it was a, you know, a happier story that we're covering.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
LEMON: Thanks to everyone here. CNN's coverage of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine continues throughout the night and the weekend here on CNN. I'm Don Lemon.
CAMEROTA: I'm Alisyn Camerota. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. Have a good night.