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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
U.N. School, Market Hit in Gaza; Dozens Reported Dead; Rocket Attacks on Israel From the Gaza Strip; U.S. Resupplies Israel with Ammunition; John Kerry Truce Bid Assailed; Ukraine Accuses Rebels of Laying Landmines Near MH17 Crash Site; Mapping the Wreckage from the MH17 Crash; House Votes to Sue President Obama
Aired July 30, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, AC 360 HOST: Good evening. Thanks for watching our special extended edition of 360.
Tonight, the war in Gaza marked today by a pair of deadly incidents at civilian locations at school which was being used as a U.N. shelter in a crowded market place. The U.N. saying evidence points to Israeli responsibility for the school attack. The circumstances are less clear for the market. The Israeli is saying that there was fighting in the area.
The administrative -- The Obama administration warning that Israel needs to do more to limit civilian casualties but also acknowledging that Hamas is hiding rockets in civilian locations. In any event, this was a very grim day in Gaza. Grim and we should warn you, rough to watch.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just over here, David (ph). Just really just over here which is just being hit. People are now scattering beneath in the streets below. Clearly, that humanitarian window is now closed.
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COOPER: Well, we'll bring you all points of view tonight and the latest from Karl Penhaul in Gaza City and Martin Savidge in Jerusalem.
First, Karl Penhaul who at that school today.
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KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jabalia, Northern Gaza around 5:00 a.m. The U.N. school turned shelter to 3,000 people just attacked. A U.N. employee took these cell phone images breathing heavily, he races classroom to classroom. Body count by flashlight, mutilated limbs swaddled in bloody rags.
We saw the shells when they hit and shrapnel was falling like rain. I was so scared and the school filled with smoke. We poured water in our eyes just to see, she says. One round crashed through the roof into the top floor.
I just want to give you a point of reference about how big this hole is. The diameter is about the length of an ordinary broom stick.
Another round ripped through the latrines in a classroom opening a hole about the same size as the other. Witnesses say this is some of the shrapnel that peppered the school. The U.N. says it repeatedly notified Israel and Hamas of the coordinates of the shelter most recently just eight hours before it was hit.
CNN asked the Israeli military if their forces fired on the school that was supposed to be a safe haven.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what we found is that there were mortars launched from nearby in the school. And there was a cross fire and indeed the idea to engaged those mortar firing. We are currently reviewing the outcome and the tragic footage that we've seen from this area. We haven't ruled out that it was a Hamas mortar that actually landed within the premises.
PENHAUL: But U.N. investigators tell CNN they have sufficient evidence to conclude Israel was to blame.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on the initial elements is that we have clear indications in the first assessment that we have at three projectiles hit the school. And on presenting and analyzing the pieces of shrapnel, we believe that we have all the elements in place to conclude that it was Israeli artillery fired.
PENHAUL: Israel has batteries of how it was aimed at Gaza. These huge guns are capable of firing 43 kilo or 100 pound high explosive shells, the entire length of the Gaza Strip.
Israel admitted misfiring a mortar into another U.N. school shelter in Beit Hanoun less than a week ago. But the Israeli military says the explosion could not have caused deaths.
A CNN visit showed multiple shrapnel marks and large quantities of blood. Hospital staff told CNN 16 civilians died in the incident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough is enough. Now, measures have to be taken. People who go to these places expect that they go there because they will be safe and here's the confirmation that it appears that there is nowhere where you can be safe and therefore measures have to now be taken by the Israeli defense forces to ensure a much better protection.
PENHAUL: The U.N. has also condemned Hamas for violating the rules of war and accusing its fighters of storing rockets in three other vacant schools.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever was the case with these weapons certainly cannot be used as a justification by any one to explain why another school in which people were sheltered -- this place people were sheltered had been targeted. PENHAUL: The Israeli military says it does not deliberately target civilians.
At the school gates, this bloody footnote to the tragedy. Donkeys and horses had ferry dirt poor families here when their homes turned into a battlefield. The war plotted in behind them.
Karl Penhaul, CNN, Jabalia at Gaza.
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COOPER: We should also point out the IDF. According to the IDF, Hamas has fired 140 rockets at Israel in just the last 24 hours. I want to dig deeper now on the reality of fighting war in one of the most densely populated places on earth and whether Israel has a greater responsibility that the man from the U.N. was saying to take that into account.
Joining us CNN Military Analyst retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. I appreciate you being with us.
First of all, at the school just from the size of the craters there, the openings that would be artillery not mortar?
RICK FRANCONA: That looked like artillery. The Israeli's have the 155 self propelled that he pointed there. That's a gun howitzer and it would do that kind of damage.
COOPER: Amnesty International is saying point blank it's irresponsible to use artillery -- long-range artillery which is less accurate than other forms in such a densely populated area. Is there a standard here?
FRANCONA: It's a pretty accurate system and if you listen to what the spokesman said, he said they were responding to mortar fire coming from that area.
COOPER: Right, from the vicinity.
FRANCONA: So, the Israeli's have a counter-battery radar in other words it was tracks at trajectory of incoming rounds so they know where to put the fire back on them. What they probably didn't do was to check those coordinates to make sure that they weren't firing on a school.
COOPER: So, because the U.N. is saying, "Well, look, we gave the GPS coordinates 17 times to various, you know, member of the IDF."
COOPER: How would that actually work? The person actually guiding the -- or aiming the howitzer would double check coordinates?
FRANCONA: Well, he would check the coordinates but how does he check it? He probably goes into some database and if it hasn't been updated or it doesn't get to the firing unit then they don't know. So, it's like any other large organization. You got a lot of things happening at one time. They're engaged in a war. Information is going this way, going that way.
COOPER. But is an artillery shell -- I mean, how -- You're saying it is -- it can be precise?
FRANCONA: It could be pretty precise, yeah, based on the firing tables and all that, yeah. The Israeli artillery is very accurate. It's a U.S. system and we can put first round on target.
COOPER: There is obviously also the incident in the marketplace. It sounded like a number of smaller ammunitions. I don't know if those were mortars or what. And again, we don't know ...
COOPER: ... frankly who fired them.
FRANCONA: That looked like mortars and if you look at the footage, you saw that there was one explosion behind the market where we -- there was a secondary explosion with a lot of black smoke.
FRANCONA: That was probably the target they were aiming at because that would have indicated some sort of fuel or some sort of hydrocarbon that gave off that smoke.
COOPER: Now, the IDF repeatedly says, "Look, we warned people in areas to leave an area as soon as we call the house, to call or even put a less ammunition, a knock on the door, they call it to get people to go out." Is that standard operating procedure in any other part of the world?
FRANCONA: I've never heard of it until the Israeli's came up with that. We would drop leaflets and say we're, you know, we're going to be operating in this area. But to actually drop a dud round on someone's roof, I have not heard of that. That's uniquely Israeli and that's kind of going the extra step. The problem is, Anderson, in this densely populated and we've talked about this before, there's nowhere for them to go.
FRANCONA: And ...
COOPER: They go in ...
FRANCONA: ... if they go from one place to the other, any kind of military operation in that area is putting them at risk. And as we can see, you know, there are multiple engagements all over the Gaza Strip at any given time. So, it's almost inconceivable that they would be able to find -- you just can't move people back and forth.
COOPER: The 3,300 people who were in that U.N. school had actually been told to leave an area farther north for their own safety and they did that. They were internally displaced and there are some 220,000 people that -- 85 or 86 different facilities are around about now.
FRANCONA: Because those the -- The targeted -- The initial targeting that they were told to leave, that was planned probably several days in advance. We're going to operate in this area. These other targets are propping up as the battle progresses.
COOPER: And so, it's -- For Israel, they want to try to respond as quickly -- I mean, if the Hamas sets up a rocket battery to fire some mortars, they're going to move that relatively quickly so there's a time issue that Israel wants to get ...
FRANCONA: The standard concept is shoot and scoop. You fire and you move.
COOPER: That's by Hamas?
FRANCONA: By anybody. So, what you want to do is get that outgoing round out as fast as you can, otherwise you're just going to be blowing up dirt.
COOPER: Colonel Francona, thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.
Now, the latest from Jerusalem and where Martin Savidge who joins us now.
So, the U.N. has the laid the blame squarely on Israel for this incident at the school and I think we just lost Martin on the satellite. We'll try to reestablish contact with him. There's a lot more ahead. Well, I'm told we now have him back. How is Israel reacting? What's the response from Jerusalem?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson.
The Israeli is maintaining that the activities that took place in and around the school, they're still investigating but they believe that their initial early analysis is that this was apparently mortar fire that there are forces on the ground received and they were responding to that. And that was the reason that there was firing in and around that school.
They cannot say whether the school was deliberately targeted by their forces on the ground or inadvertently hit. But Israel has always maintained if its troops are fired upon it will fire back. This could be an incident of that they say.
COOPER: And certainly Israel says they do not directly, you know, intentionally target civilians. I just talked to the ambassador and he said that repeatedly. What are they saying about U.N. claims that they were told 17 times about the school and its location given its GPS coordinates?
SAVIDGE: Well, first, the Israeli military and the Israeli government both have said that they are horrified and shocked to see the civilian casualties that they had seen say in the last 24 hours. They also blamed directly Hamas regarding the 17 times. They do point out that there is a hotline between the United Nations and the Israeli military. They are often talking about who and where and how many people.
However, they also say that just because information is shared at a command level does not mean and in the reality of a fight on the ground that the troops on the ground know exactly the same thing that they know at the command level. It is possible that there were some miscommunication. They're still investigating.
COOPER: And what are you learning about the attack on the market earlier today?
SAVIDGE: The market attack, the answer we get from the Israelis is again something we've heard before. A line that they say it is possible. Remember, this was during what was described by Israel as a humanitarian pause, a window. During that time Hamas was continuing to fire rockets, Israel says, against Israel. And so, Israel maintains its got a right to respond. It has said that it's possible it could have been rockets falling back onto Gaza that had been fired against Israel that triggered that market explosion.
It should be pointed out that Israel is saying that in the last 48 hours, they have noted that it appears that UNRWA, the United Nations and civilian areas of shelter have come into play here. They say they believe this is a deliberate strategy. In other words that in some way Hamas is trying to either lure Israeli forces to fire on these facilities or is trying to directly implicate Israel forces. They say in a case of the attack that took place on the hospital in Gaza as well as the refugee beach camp, they say that was tied to Israel. Israel claims it had nothing to do with it. They think this is in part a deliberate strategy to blame Israel for civilian deaths in which Israel says it had no part.
COOPER: All right, Martin Savidge with the update from Jerusalem. Martin, thank you.
We obtained new video of the incident in the marketplace. It is graphic, hard to watch. Do you think it's important to see what people on both sides of the conflict are dealing with?
COOPER: Welcome back.
While I'm warning you what we're about to show is graphic and maybe hard to watch, you heard Israel's Ambassador deny that his country's military deliberately target civilians. He was talking about the mass causalities at two kinds of places perhaps the only two left in Gaza where people not only can but often must gather, a bomb shelter and a marketplace.
Now, before we show you the video of the marketplace incident that occurred today. I do want to say that almost every one who watches it is going to see it through his or her own prism. And that's to say we're not showing it to make a point about the rightness or wrongness of the war or one side or the other. Instead, we just want to show you the beat by beat reality of what ordinary people face when war comes to one of the most densely populated places on earth. In this case, an open air market in Northern Gaza where hundreds of people were shopping when explosions began. A camera crew from the Al Manar Media Agency recorded the scene. Officials in Gaza say 17 people were killed. Again, I want to warn you the video is graphic but we do think it's important to see.
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COOPER: With those images beaming their way around the world, we learned today that Israel put in a request for more U.S. ammunition. Our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr joins us with the latest.
Barbara, what have you learned about -- about this request?
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the Pentagon is calling this a resupply of ammunition to the Israeli forces. They are very adamant here at the Defense Department that this is not an emergency. Israel is not running out of ammunition. But clearly, they need to add to their stockpiles and so they've come forward with this request, very few details available, we know some of it because it's coming out of an existing U.S. stockpile already in Israel. The U.S. maintains about $1.2 billion worth of weapons and ammunition inside the Israel in case Israel needs it. Some of it is going to come from theirs and some of it is going to be supplied by the U.S. Defense Industry.
COOPER: Yeah, I think a lot of people didn't realize that the United States stores that amount of weaponry and armaments in Israel already. But is this a direct result of the decrease stockpile because of fighting in Gaza?
STARR: Well, you know, this gets into the politics and the optics of the whole thing. The Pentagon officially will say "No. This has nothing to do with that Israel asks for ammunition resupply all the time." But here is the fascinating fact if you will. It was just last week that Israel came to the United States saying it needed a resupply. And one official telling look me, "Look, over the last three weeks plus, they have certainly decreased their available weapon supply due to the fighting in Southern Israel and Gaza."
COOPER: And what kind of ammunition are they talking about?
STARR: We're talking about a 120 millimeter mortar rounds and 40 millimeter ammunition rounds for grenade launchers. That's the public part that we know about. But as I say, there is an additional list that has not yet been made public, a much more extensive list of the resupply of the ammunition that Israel says it needs.
COOPER: Barbara Starr, I appreciate it. Thank you. Well, for more on that story you can go to cnn.com.
Coming up, Secretary of State John Kerry under fire from several fronts over his efforts to broker a Mideast cease-fire, I'll speak with a columnist for an Israeli newspaper that says that Kerry actually pushed both sides toward an escalation. Next.
COOPER: Secretary of State John Kerry's work to broker a ceasefire in the Middle East has been met with strong criticism from the Israeli public where support for the war tops 85 percent in one recent poll. Critics include some columnist who say that Secretary Kerry's effort have been doing more harm than good.
Joining me now are CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and Ari Shavit, Columnist for Haaretz newspaper and author of the new book "My Promise Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel."
Ari, thanks very much for being with us. I want to start by reading part of a recent column you wrote on Secretary Kerry. You said and I quote, "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ruined everything." And then you went on to say, "The Obama Administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of it are friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinian and the Israeli's toward an escalation that most of them did not want."
What exactly did Secretary Kerry do that in your opinion basically pushed the escalation?
ARI SHAVIT, COLUMNIST, HAARETZ: Anderson, let me start by saying with this terrible evening, a terrible day that we had. I'm a proud Israeli and I think Israel is right to defend itself. But I am horrified by the pictures that we've seen this evening. And my heart, my heart goes out to the innocent victims in Gaza and to so many Israelis or victims of this terrible tragedy.
Now, this has to do with what you asked me about. I belong to those Israelis or in the minority who do not want to see an escalation and do not want to see the Israeli army, God forbid, conquering Gaza. It's a difficult battle we have back home because 85 percent of Israelis want to move on. The right wing ministers are very aggressive. And it's a great battle to prevent further escalation that would lead to total catastrophe.
So, it is within this context that the moderate Israelis are looking for American leadership. And I think the few that these Israelis have is that there is a misreading of the map. The only way to stop this terrible carnage that we see today is to have assertive diplomacy building the alliance of the moderates that will lead to some sort of solution. The alliance of the moderates is the moderate Arabs mainly Egypt but also Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Gulf countries and the moderate Palestinians lead by Mr. Abbas in Israel.
COOPER: And so you see John Kerry basically as having at one point though he supported the Egyptian process basically the next that within 24-hour period flipped over supporting a process that's supported by Turkey and cut it out? SHAVIT: Exactly. The tragedy and never mind the details. The tragedy, the specific tragedy, within the greater tragedy was that it was perceived. Never mind the details. It was perceived as if he is not giving the Egyptian option. This is not an Israeli but the Egyptian option enough support. I believe that if America will lead this coalition of moderates, this is the only way to end this terrible tragedy now and actually to have a kind of political solution that will give hope for the people of Gaza by giving them much more life and the (inaudible) prosperity while demilitarizing Gaza.
The only way to do it to prevent this horrible violence is this assertive diplomacy and a political, economic alliance between these ...
COOPER: I'm sorry. You don't believe John Kerry is giving that assertive alliance. I do want to bring in David Gergen.
David, what about that? Is that a fair assessment? And certainly it is the perception among many Israelis that John Kerry has done more harm than good here.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there is a perception among many Israelis and, you know, it's a perception that is shared among some American columnist on this that Kerry purposely put on the table. The most recent one favored Hamas too much. And Ari's argument is that it led to the collapse of the middle and the extremist came to power and grew in power on both sides both in Gaza and Israel. And I respect Ari. His book here has got great reception in America.
But what is -- I'm sorry, what I can't understand, Anderson, and even here with Ari. Ari basically has wrote in his column, if there is more offensive, there is more blood, its going to be -- we should blame it on John Kerry. And A, I don't think that's fair. But B, I don't understand why Israelis are targeting John Kerry and brutalizing him the way they are from left and right with the government part of this. And in fact, they're making it so personal and making it almost impossible for America to play a leading role among moderates.
You know, America has been Israel's best friend. We stand up for Israel. Again, we just learned tonight, a moment ago, Anderson, in your show that Israel is asking us to resupply ammunition. Why then go after your best friend and humiliate him and brutalize him in the way he's being treated in the Israeli press and to a degree by the government?
COOPER: Ari, what about that?
SHAVIT: So, first of all, let me say where I stand. I'm the greatest supporter of that great alliance between your great democracy and our frontier democracy. I am deeply grateful for everything America has done for my country. And by way, I am sometimes more pro-American than many of my American friends. I think America saved the world in the second half and in the -- true, to 20th century. And I really pray that the America will go on leading the world into 21st century.
So, I'm grateful. I respect. I admire America. And by the way, I share totally Secretary Kerry's vision, values, ideals to hope for two-state solution. We are totally on the same page.
I think that what happens is that in times of crises when you see the catastrophes eminent and you try to prevent what we've seen now which is going on, which is so horrific throughout the country. You really try to -- in these sense, it's a cry of despair. So many moderate Arabs and moderate Israelis are actually want a new way that will turn the wish to end the violence into a realistic, assertive diplomacy that will be realistic.
So, if anyone is offended, I really understand it and I'm deeply sorry for that. That's not the idea. I really think that they align first of all as Israelis, America is saving us, America is supporting us, America created -- supported, I am done with this saving but America, there's no other country in the world where America is so admired and loved. This is really a debate within a family and within people and the countries and nations that I think loved each other very much.
COOPER: David, do you think ...
SHAVIT: I think that we as Israelis have the duty to be grateful. I hope that some Americans will listen to what their friends, their closest friends, in the Middle East had been saying to them for sometime.
COOPER: David, do you think it's gotten so personal that at this point John Kerry can no longer be a mediator here?
GERGEN: I worry about that. I think there is going to come a time, I hope sooner rather than later when we actually get a cease-fire. And at that point, it's going to be very important for United States to be at the table to help lead those negotiations and the man the president's going to want there is John Kerry. And if he's seen as such a lawsome figure and he's been so brutalized, I think it may -- I think it makes his job a lot harder. And I think to go to Ari's point which I support the general point that what we want to do is encourage bridges along the moderates and strengthen the moderates on both sides.
I think that's absolutely right. I don't think that the way he's been brutalized as a way to get there.
COOPER: Unfortunately, we ran out of time on this but Ari Shavit, I appreciate you being on. We would like to have you on again. You're a good voice to have and David Gergen as well. Thank you both very much.
GERGEN: Thank you.
SHAVIT: Thank you.
COOPER: For more on this story and others, you can go to cnn.com. Coming up, unsafe conditions near the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, preventing investigators from getting close enough to do their job. Remember, these investigators for the first time have the capabilities to collect the human remains that are still out there. Today's CNN's Nick Paton Walsh managed to get to the crash site, what he found there, next.
COOPER: For the fourth in a row, investigators have not been able to reach the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came down to earth taking 298 lives with it when it was shot out at the sky. As the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels fight for control of Eastern Ukraine, the conflict has prevented Dutch investigators from entering the crash site, conditions unsafe. And now, Ukrainian officials are warning about possible landmines in the area.
Our Nick Paton Walsh though did manage to get safely to in and from one part of the site. Here's what he found.
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NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The road isn't easy past shelling eerie separatist checkpoints but where it leads is harder still. Imputing nothing surely could spoil lies a horror still unresolved.
Twelve days since MH17 was blown out of the sky. It remains here, a monument to cruelty. To how 298 souls, some shipped in parts away on a separatist train have yet to find complete rest.
Questions left. What or who else did they love, what do they feel in their last moments?
The silence in these fields is that of a tomb like sorrow and loss have isolated it from the wall around it. But you really have to stand here and see the things that people want to take with them on holiday and horrifyingly even now, smell the stench of decay to understand the urgency for relatives of those who died who must feel to get inspectors to this site and get some kind of closure.
In the hour, we were there, no separatist, inspectors, or Ukrainians soldiers at this site, just distant smoke that explains why the inspectors large convoy has not for the fourth day running got here.
God save and protect us, the sign asks. Not here still reeking of jet fuel. But you can see the heat of the inferno they fell from the sky in. Strangers have tried to mourn. The scene of this crime has been abandoned, evidence tampered with. What must be shrapnel holes visible in the cockpit remains. A wallet emptied. A cell phone looted.
Traces of daydreams that fell from jet stream into a war who's daily horrors drown out that which took their lives, who's blind hatred has yet to find space for the mind and dignities they deserve.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Grabovo, Ukraine.
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COOPER: Traces of daydreams that fell from the jet stream, Nick wrote. Even though Nick got in and as we've been reporting the conditions at and around the crash site have kept international investigators from visiting now for days.
Joining us is Michael Bociurkiw. He is the Spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, he's in Donetsk.
So, Michael this is now the fourth day in a row. You haven't been able to get to the crash site. I can imagine the frustration you and the others feel. What happened today?
MICHAEL BOCIURKIW, SPOKESMAN FOR THE ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE: Very frustrating, Anderson.
Today, what we did -- because such a state of flocks and security wise of the crash site as we did -- what we call (inaudible) the road, we did a reconnaissance of patrol only two cars to test possibility of a Northern route. We -- there's a Southern route that we're very, very familiar with that has been very secure up until a few days ago. But now we're, you know, kind of expanding our options if you will so that in case the traditional route we've been taking doesn't hold up we have other options.
Now, also as, you know, Anderson, tomorrow marks two weeks, two weeks since that plane tragically came down over Eastern Ukraine. So, despite the odds and a lot of talks happened again today and in fact there are talks happening right below me with the rebel groups. We're going to try a very robust attempt to go out to the crash site. Quite a few cars, quite a bit convoy with as many experts as we can take, take with us. But again, Anderson, we can't stress enough that safety is now our number one priority, we don't want to add anymore victims to what has already been attached to this very tragic incident.
COOPER: And again, I mean, we've said this every night but it does bear repeating for viewers who don't understand this, that the importance of this right now is not just to get to the crash site but you actually have the personnel with you for the first time to be able to start collecting the remains of victims that are still out there and start the process of getting them to the Netherlands where they can be identified and get them back to their families which would be an extraordinary thing.
BOCIURKIW: Absolutely. We have the personnel. We have the equipment. The logistics are in place and certainly the real passion of -- especially on behalf of the Dutch experts that are with us, we see them everyday, you know, breakfast and at the hotel, and they just obviously can't wait to get out there. And, you know, the other thing, Anderson, that is happening because as we've been talking it's such a, you know, unusual extraordinary set of circumstances, is there are days where actually journalists do get out there and I think your own crew got out there tonight.
BOCIURKIW: And they realize that in a way they're kind of stayed focused to this whole thing too. So, they've been calling in or texting with up-to-date reports on what's happening out there at the site. And that's really extraordinary and we actually thank them publicly in our press for today and encourage them to keep this coming because every, of course, every bit of information that we got feeds into our security analysis on whether it's safe to go there or not.
COOPER: Ukrainian officials warned that the rebels have set a firing positions as well as landmines on the access roads to the crash site. Has that information also been relayed to your team? Are you -- Do you know if that's true or not?
BOCIURKIW: There's a lot of information coming at us. And it's often difficult to sort out fact from fiction. But, Anderson, the one thing we are really hammering both here and in Kiev is that in order for us to get there and to do that work that you just described especially with the human remains is guns need to be put down. The checkpoints need to disappear. There should be no question whatsoever as to our intent.
And, you know, the worst thing that could happen right now two weeks into this crash is that, you know, there's a shifting front line over that crash site that makes it so unpredictable that we won't be able to access it. So, again everyone knows that the stakes are very, very high at the moment and that we need that kind of bubble of tranquillity and confidentiality and security with which to do this very, very urgent work.
COOPER: Michael Bociurkiw, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
BOCIURKIW: Thank you. Thank you Anderson.
COOPER: As we've mentioned before the break, investigators haven't been able to get to the crash site for four days. There is information to be gleamed just from how and where the wreckage fell.
A Wall Street Journal catalogue had mapped some of the debris. Based on that map, I spoke with CNN Safety Analyst David Soucie to see what the debris fill can tell us. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, David, lets take a look first at the map, at the various crash size. What can you tell me? I mean, they're very spread out.
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: They're very spread out, Anderson. And what we've learned from looking at this is the fact that the aircraft was on the trajectory something like this. And then that's when the missile struck up in this area. And then the aircraft made a pretty sharp turn over to the left. We'll talk about why that ...
COOPER: So, it actually continued flying?
SOUCIE: It did continue to fly. Only the back part of the aircraft, the front part of the aircraft is still over in here.
COOPER: You can actually see the various parts on the plane that were hit.
SOUCIE: Right. Right. We can show you that here. This is the aircraft and from what we can tell, it looks like the missile exploded somewhere in this region here. And there's debris all along the way, the shrapnel, and the entire aircraft, the entire aircraft is ...
COOPER: Well, this is the kind facility that doesn't actually directly hit. It basically detonates.
SOUCIE: About a hundred meters from the aircraft exploded ...
COOPER: Right. The shrapnel explodes.
COOPER: So, let see, they actually found all these different pieces. This is the left wing tip.
SOUCIE: The left wing tip. Let's talk about this a little bit because the debris -- the shrapnel took this left wing and made it where it just moved. It didn't come off but you can tell that it had been moving because this was not an instantaneous break-off. This happened overtime.
So, it happened first but then lost the structural integrity that's why the aircraft made that sharp turn to the left.
COOPER: So, gradually this wing actually ripped off?
SOUCIE: At the very end, just before it hit.
SOUCIE: This is kind of over by the rest of the airplane.
COOPER: There's also a tail section.
SOUCIE: Yes. In the tail section, this is important for a number of reasons. Originally, we thought that the tail section had come off in flight first. But because of its co-located with the main structure of the aircraft, it's likely that the tail section stayed on the aircraft for quite well to come as it came down. And you can see now the box structure that takes the horizontal stabilizer through here is cracked pretty significantly through there, indicating that this happened not as a result of the shrapnel but as an aerodynamic maneuver.
COOPER: Will the aircraft have depressurized right away?
SOUCIE: Immediately. Immediately. Yes, because we'll talk about that up in the front here.
COOPER: The cockpit area. SOUCIE: Yeah, the cockpit area. In the cockpit area, we see a lot of evidence. This is a very significant piece of area for number of reasons. One, as you can see the wiring and you can see that this is the E and E compartment, Electronics and Equipment bay. And in that, what -- If you'd find a transponder, the ACARS boxes, even though the black box maintains that information, it's important that the EPROM chips, that memory is retrieved from these as well.
COOPER: And also the cockpit in the lower -- actually that the -- some of the windows near the cockpit, right?
SOUCIE: Yeah, that's right, that's right. Before we move on though, this is a very difficult part also because there could very well be still human remains in this area that ...
COOPER: This would have been though the -- what the first class or the business class.
SOUCIE: Yeah, the business class and the cockpit area.
COOPER: I'm so starting to see it.
SOUCIE: And then this is a really interesting piece to look at as well. I understand this is really difficult for people to see in here. But we do this so that we can help investigators on the ground determine where the human remains might be. But you can see in here that this was so significantly hit. The shrapnel is very, very close together that's how we know that the missile went off somewhere towards in front of the aircraft.
COOPER: This is the -- with the flight deck window?
SOUCIE: Yes, this is the window. This is the cockpit window right here. And you can see it's been almost literally cutout by the debris ...
COOPER: But these pieces here are pieces likely of shrapnel.
COOPER: Actually went from the missile, the missile sort of perforated along lines
SOUCIE: It is. It has little diamond shape cuts in it. So, when it explodes, it sends little tiny small pieces about this big of shrapnel.
COOPER: So, I mean, some of the people onboard this aircraft would've been killed by the shrapnel itself.
SOUCIE: Significant number of people would've been. Because of where it hit, it hit straight along that -- the passenger area. So, that front part of the nose came off, the rest of the aircraft continued to fly.
COOPER: Just terrifying.
SOUCIE: It really is. And if we go back to the map, you can see again now looking at it and knowing what we know that the aircraft was struck somewhere in this area here. Now, this is about eight miles from here to here.
SOUCIE: So, this is where the aircraft was struck, you can see that the front of the aircraft, there's pieces between the nose of the aircraft and the aircraft itself that we found here. Then the nose of the aircraft landed here. This is that difficult area with the wiring, and then the aircraft made a left hand bank, left hand turn and ended up here where the tail went along with it and broke off. And the tail and the main body of the aircraft ...
COOPER: So, pieces were dropping off.
COOPER: But then the plane was still in the air?
SOUCIE: Yes, and this is the big challenge for investigators because everybody says why in this corner of the area and get in there and investigate ...
COOPER: Right. That's a huge area.
SOUCIE: That's a huge area.
SOUCIE: Eight miles. There's still debris we can see from the satellite images here which have not been looked at. No one's even been in this field. And so now we've given this to investigators, the Malaysians have given us great thanks to all source analysis who provided these satellite images to us. So, we're helping them right now try to figure out where it is that they need to focus ...
COOPER: It's extraordinary to see it. David Soucie, thank you very much.
SOUCIE: Yeah. Thank you, Anderson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Coming up tonight, we have breaking news out in Washington. A vote in Congress to sue the president. Dana Bash has details. Next.
COOPER: To upgrade more breaking news with so much going on in the world right now from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the conflict in the Middle East to unrest in Ukraine, you might think Congress would have its hands full dealing with those issues. Well, you'd be wrong.
The Republican-led House made time today to address something else entirely, approving a resolution authorizing House Speaker John Boehner to sue the president over Obamacare.
Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash joins us now. So what's happening now? What's going on?
DANA BASH, CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're not really sure what happens next, Anderson. This was just the first step and we're not sure actually if the lawsuit is going to take time and even go into the courts. Because what's happen is the House has approved a resolution authorizing the lawsuit, then they're going to set up a legal team. And then that legal team is going to determine when and where to put that lawsuit and it get a little lost, I think that's the point here because this is kind uncharted territory.
It's unclear whether or not whatever court the House goes to, the judge is going to accept this whether they're going say that the House Republicans have legal standing to wave this suit at all. But you know what? Even if a judge does take the case, it's unclear how long it could take. It take -- It could take months, it could take years and not be finished until after the president leaves office.
COOPER: How does it even work? I mean, does someone have to serve the president with a subpoena?
BASH: Don't take it's quite that dramatic but again, it's going to be a question before we even get to that kind of situation about whether or not a court will even accept it.
COOPER: So, I mean, just -- let's at look the politics, how serious is this? Is this just the latest politics in both sides or just a sign of the polarization in Washington?
BASH: Well, if you listen to House Republicans they say "No. It's not about politics. This is not about the GOP versus Barack Obama." It's a constitutional struggle between the two branches of government. The House defending against the president, they say is abusing his power but let's get real. Of course this is political. We're three months away from the midterm election and midterms tend to be all about motivating the base and conservative voters are highly motivated by the notion of President Obama's executive overreach.
But you know, Anderson? Democrats are doing their best to take political advantage too. They're sending out e-mails to the donor list as fast as they can write them. They're raising money off the prospect of Republicans not just suing the president, but they're warning that this is just a prelude to Republicans trying to impeach the president.
Now, you probably heard John Boehner saying that's not going to happen. It's just a Democratic scam but some conservatives are saying that that the president should be impeached. In fact, if you look at the vote count today, there were about a handful of Republicans who voted no it's not because they don't want to sue the president as that they think that's not going far enough.
COOPER: But suing the president is different than impeaching the president.
BASH: Very different because there's a very clear constitutional explanation for how a Congress should impeach the president and we've seen it happen before. Suing the president again is it seems to be the way that they're doing this and relatively uncharted territory. They want the third branch of government, the federal courts, to determine whether or not the executive branch really is over reaching when it comes to the power over the legislative branch.
COOPER: It does sound like something that now they can just campaign and saying, "Look, well, I voted to sue the president whether or not this thing actually even happens even if this takes years and years and years." which I mean as we know the court system seems to work. But anyway ...
BASH: You said it.
COOPER: All right, Dana, thanks very much. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back.
You're looking at a live shot of Gaza City tonight almost 5:00 a.m. even though overnight not quite 24 hours ago just a little around almost exactly 24 hours ago some shells landed at a U.N. school sheltering some 3,300 people which we've been showing just the last few moments, the last hour or so throughout the various areas in Gaza. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
Thanks very much for watching our continuing coverage. That does it for us. I appreciate you watching the two-hour special.
CNN tonight starts now.