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CNN Gains Exclusive Access To Fight Against ISIS; New Flood Watches Issued, 12 People Still Missing; New Flood Watches As Multiple Counties Evacuate; Jet's Engines Lose Power Mid-Flight. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired May 27, 2015 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. We're going to take you to the front lines in the battle against ISIS. We have new and exclusive video. Our reporter on the ground with Iraqi fighters are. Are they running or actually fighting?

Plus, the death toll rising from those record Southwest floodwaters. Nineteen killed, 12 missing at this hour.

And a chilling forecast of a lot more rain.

And a plane losing power at 39,000 feet. Both engines literally just died, they went out. No one even knows how it happened, or if it could again. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin OUTFRONT tonight with breaking news. New and exclusive video of an ISIS battle. Iraqi forces on the front lines as a firefight breaks out today.


Our reporter was on the ground with rare access. The Iraqis insisting a major offensive against ISIS is under way. But the U.S. has major doubts about that. Just days after the U.S. Secretary of Defense accuses Iraqi forces of running from the fight. Nick Payton Walsh just returned from the firefight. He was with an elite group of Iraqi soldiers who are part of the same division blamed for running from the fight in Ramadi.

And Nick is in Baghdad tonight. Nick, you were actually there, you know, one of the people could actually see what they could do, see what they're capable of. And what did you actually witness?

NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was clear from what we saw that those Iraqi special forces, all of them actually American trained, some trained here in Iraq, wanted to show us how keen they were to take the fight to ISIS. We saw them opening fire on ISIS positions. Quite sustained fire, in fact. And they wanted a very clear message for us and everyone in the United States, that they really do want to win this war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WALSH (voice-over): Iraqi Special Forces took us to their front

line. Defending the ruins of a house that a coalition air strike pushed ISIS out of. They have from the elite golden division. Their Ramadi colleagues part of the troops the U.S. said lacked the will to fight.

That line of buildings over there is ISIS' closest position. And yesterday during a thick sandstorm here, they used the cover of it to advance within 20 meters of here. When the sandstorm subsided, suddenly a firefight began.


We don't know why they start shooting this day what they may have seen. ISIS are few in number here, they say, but willing to die, and have a sniper nearby.

Or maybe they more want to show us and even Washington they very much do want to fight.


It's not logical and wrong, he says, of the American criticism, because anywhere, in Ramadi, Mosul or Biji, anywhere duty calls, we fight. Their gunfire grows and usually its mortars that ISIS fire back. So we pull out.


WALSH: Now key that fight there is for an oil refinery, it's to the north of Anbar, part of the operation to clean up because they want to cut off a supply route between that area. Erin, the question is I think less you've seen there about the skills of the fighters, they say they have the ammunition, they say they have the people. It's about political will, it's about does the Iraqi ministry of defense have the same script that it's reading off, that the Shia militia they fight alongside that it's reading off, do they all want to work together to defeat ISIS in the same way at the same time? Or is there going to be a lack of cohesion like we've seen in the past that allows cities like Ramadi to fall? As you saw, there are Iraqi Special Forces who do want to take the fight to ISIS -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Nick Payton Walsh as you saw literally on the front lines there. Those forces of course wanted to show that they were ready to fight. But the big question is out there, why are Iraqi troops running from the fight in so many cases, getting beaten by far fewer ISIS fighters?

Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Iraq's tattered military now planning its fighting to take back Ramadi from ISIS. But the Pentagon says it's doubtful. Soon after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter blamed the Iraqi army for losing the key western Iraqi town, arguing the Iraqis showed no will to fight. Some trace the loss of that will all the way back to 2003 when the U.S. disbanded the Iraqi army. Since then the U.S. has spent more than $25 billion to train and equip a new Iraqi force.

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The decision to disband the Iraqi army in 2003 was the single biggest mistake of the entire Iraqi campaign. It effectively removed 300,000 trained Iraqi soldiers who were willing to be part of the army of the new Iraq and we sent them away. They formed the insurgency.

[19:05:28] SCIUTTO: Later, many became senior commanders for ISIS. U.S. advisers were forced to build a new army from young, raw recruits. That army is split between Sunni and Shia soldiers. Some Sunnis with more in common with ISIS than their Shiite majority government. In 2006, Iraq's former prime minister turned that problem into a catastrophe.

FRANCONA: Prime Minister Maliki shares a lot of the blame here by getting rid of his senior army commanders, the ones who were competent. Unfortunately most of them were Sunni and they were let go at the expense of Shia cronies of the prime minister.

SCIUTTO: Then came the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011. Leaving the Iraqis with no military infrastructure, no equivalent of west point, a National Guard, or Pentagon to train and lead the troops. Morale is said to be terrible. Corruption rife. Many soldiers say they go unpaid for long periods of time. Others are stealing what pay there is. Last year, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi revealed the existence of at least 50,000 so-called ghost soldiers.

HAIDER AL-ABADI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: While our soldiers were fighting, some of them have been killed, these are people who receive salaries and are not present on the ground.

SCIUTTO: Now ISIS is reportedly digging in at Ramadi, setting booby traps and roadside bombs. To counter ISIS' massive suicide truck bombs, the U.S. is sending 2,084 anti-tank weapons to Iraqi forces who are fighting alongside paramilitary troops supplied and backed by Iran.


SCIUTTO: U.S. officials say the new government of Haider al- Abadi is doing a much better job than his predecessor of making the Iraqi army a national force, not just a Shiite force. The trouble is though this performance in Ramadi is very worrying and it will raise questions again Erin, about whether you need to bring U.S. forces in a more forward-leaning role. Forward ground controllers to call in air strikes or placing military advisers who are training those Iraqi troops behind the lines closer to the front lines to keep those forces in the fight. That's something the Pentagon has never taken off the table but the President has not made that decision -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim Sciutto.

And OUTFRONT now, former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd and retired General James "Spider" Marks. General Marks, let me start with you. I mean, when you hear this Jim reporting, terrible morale, corruption, they're not getting paid. The United States has spent $25 billion training. Money that largely appears, at this point, at this point, to be wasted, at least from what we're seeing on the ground. I mean, can the Iraqi forces overcome this and beat ISIS or not?

MAJOR GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): The Iraqi forces can overcome it. But right now there is no near-term solution that they're going to be able to provide. The sad thing is, Erin, is we invested this amount of money, more importantly we invested the lives of so many Americans. And it just hasn't worked out. Not because we went to Iraq, but because we left Iraq. We didn't shore up and ensure that the investment of time, money, and lives was going to work out.

BURNETT: Now Phil the U.S. says ISIS lacks the will, right? They've been running from the fight. We've heard reports of this time and time again. But ISIS is the opposite. They don't lack the will. They don't lack the motivation, they don't lack the leadership, they don't lack any of it.

PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: That's right. I mean, we've talked about half the story. We've talked about what the Iraqi military has done in places like Ramadi and how they haven't stayed for the fight, how they were surprised in the summer of fall last year. But I remember after the 9/11 attacks thinking about the predecessor to ISIS that is al Qaeda. We used to when I was at the CIA, listen to their communications. As you know now, CIA had a lot of detainees who were from al Qaeda. Let me tell you what they say. Among themselves. They are driven. The guys we picked up, very good leadership. Incorruptible. They felt they were inspired by God. In any sense of corruption would be a violation of what they've thought their sacred duty was. They are very courteous to each other by the way.

Even in difficult situations they wouldn't cut and run from each other because they felt a responsibility to share the sacred fight. The last thing I'd say again, when you think about this battle of wills between a religiously inspired organization like ISIS, and a corrupt organization like the Iraqi military, when we took al Qaeda guys down, like the ISIS guys, they would look at us one on one and say, we're proud of 9/11, we're proud we murdered 3,000 people, and if you let us out again we'll go back to the battlefield and do the same thing. These are people we held in our jails.

BURNETT: That's right,

MUDD: So when you think about a battle of wills over the course of years, you've got to consider that the guys on the other side, the ISIS guys, will not go home until they're in a body bag.

[19:10:12] BURNETT: And you know, it raises the question of if they're not willing to fight, is the U.S. willing to fight? I mean, Phil, that is a big question, right? The Iraqi forces aren't willing to fight for their own country. Why should the United States be fighting for them? We're frankly paying $25 billion to train them do it?

MUDD: Well, we shouldn't. We shouldn't fight for them, we should be with them. And that results in my judgment from a clear understanding of counterinsurgency strategy. If you look at counterinsurgency, if the home team doesn't have the will to take the fight to the enemy, I'm not talking about my judgment, I'm talking about a history of looking at counterinsurgencies. The away team, that is people like the Americans, can't win it for them. So we've got to be there in support, we've got to provide air support. But at some point you've got to take the training wheels off. Because history tells you, if the guys on the ground who are from that country, in this case namely Iraq, don't want to win the fight, we can't win it for them.

BURNETT: Right. Go ahead, Spider.

MARKS: Erin, if I could jump in, I want to put a spotlight on that. I mean, he's absolutely spot-on. The notion of a counterinsurgency is exactly what Iraq is dealing with right now. This is a civil war. And the government forces have to be able to address the ISIS threat as if it was a counterinsurgency. Which would require a professional force that's probably twice as large as it is right now. Which is about 60 people to one uniformed individual. So, that gives you a population of about 30 million. You need about 1.3 million forces that are on the ground. Not across the border, but are in very key areas. And the Iraqi military simply is not there. So there was a buildup it has to take place, but the key thing is, there has to be a shared view of what is important, what's critical, and everybody has to rally around it. ISIS is doing it, the ISF is not.

BURNETT: Right. And of course, the big question is what the United States should do, and whether the United States should keep bankrolling the Iraqi security forces. Thanks to both.

Next, with rain expected to pound, much of this country for days, new flash flood watches are about to go into effect. Already evacuations ordered in multiple cities in the U.S. We have that breaking headline, next.

Plus, scares in the skies. A plane's engines, both of them gone midflight, just completely out. And there is another plane that had a near-miss with a volcano, almost literally flew into the mountain, and no one knows why.

And the massive IRS data theft, $50 million in fraudulent tax returns filed. They have about 100,000 American social security numbers tonight. Who did it?


[19:15:44] BURNETT: Breaking news on the extreme weather slamming the United States. A new flash flood watch going into effect for large parts of Texas and Oklahoma. There are also tornado watches in many of these areas. And orders to evacuate under way in multiple cities. This is a deadly day. The body of a 31-year-old man was found today in Houston along the entrance ramp to a highway. And at this hour, another 12 people are missing.

Ana Cabrera begins our coverage OUTFRONT.


ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rushing to the water's edge.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: FBI and police are over there, they told us there is one dead body, one live body in the water coming down this way.

CABRERA: A nearby worker prepares a rope to throw to someone believed to be in the still-tumultuous Blanco River.

(on camera): Are you prepared to make a river rescue of some sort?

BRANDON ORELLANA, VOLUNTEER RESCUER: Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. I was in the army six years. Combat water survival.

CABRERA (voice-over): Hoping for a rescue while bracing for a recovery. A scene playing over and over as the south copes with several days of widespread flooding. In the end this one turns out to be a false alarm. In the hard-hit town of Wimberley, the search for the missing continues. Seventy four-year-old Dayton Larry Thomas is among them. Friends are fearing the worst.

LYDIA GILSEN, HAYS COUNTY RESIDENT: He will be really missed. I mean -- yes. It's very tragic. Just knowing how he died. We think he died. He's missing right now.

CABRERA: Gayla McNeil barely made it out of her home. As water raced inside, busting walls and windows and smashing furniture in every direction.

GAYLA MCNEIL, HAYS COUNTY RESIDENT: By this time up to just nearly chest deep.

CABRERA (on camera): And you're trying to wade your way through the water?

MCNEIL: Yes, we waded up to my husband's truck was already starting to go down, float down the river. And my car was up a little higher so we got in there.

CABRERA (voice-over): Her car was soon surrounded by water. Then the air bags went off.

MCNEIL: I couldn't get out. I was driving. And my husband was able to get out on that side. And this man just appeared and pulled me out. Because I couldn't get out otherwise.

CABRERA (on camera): Right. Who was this man?

MCNEIL: His name is Chance. That's all I know. CABRERA (voice-over): McNeil, like so many others, has left with

a muddy mess to clean up. And little that's salvageable. Texas officials say more than 4,000 homes may be damaged or destroyed and Mother Nature isn't finished. A dam in Midlothian, just south of Dallas is threatening to burst. Holding tight for now but more rain is in the forecast.


CABRERA: The Blanco River behind me, which has already done so much destruction here in Wimberley, is finally receding. But other rivers are still rising. In fact, we're watching the town of Wharton, Texas, just southeast of here, where people are now evacuating because the Colorado River is continuing to rise and expected to reach above flood stage sometime in the coming hours. There's also possibility of another two inches of rain in some parts of Texas tonight. And there's simply nowhere for all that water to go -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Ana, thank you very much. Pretty terrifying. In just a moment everyone, we'll going to show you how the flood can literally go from nothing to a 40-feet foot surge in seconds.

But right now it is a race against the clock. And intense search and rescue on for potential survivors. At least nine of the 12 people missing in Texas are in Hays County. Hays County has been completely devastated from flash flooding. Officials have already recovered three bodies. But the severe weather on the way, obviously going to make this even more dangerous. You have life and death here literally on the line.

And OUTFRONT tonight, Will Conley, the Hays County commissioner. Commissioner Conley, I appreciate your taking the time. I know this is a difficult time for you. And as I said, you were racing against the clock. You've got nine people missing. Are you still hoping that you can find some of those people alive?

WILL CONLEY, HAYS COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Yes. First of all, Erin, thank you for having me. And our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends that have already lost loved ones. We are frantically in a search and rescue mission looking for the nine identified people that are missing. We are doing that by river, by land, and by air, covering miles and miles of the Blanco River here in Wimberley Valley in the San Marcus area.

BURNETT: I mean, you look at the images here, Will, it's incredible. I mean, you've got homes completely destroyed, lifted off the foundations, swept away. Roads gone. I mean, these images are incredible. The speed at which this happened is almost impossible for people to imagine. Have you ever seen anything like this?

[19:20:12] CONLEY: No, nobody has ever seen anything like this, Erin. This has been a historic event for our community, for the Blanco River and for the state of Texas. We had a wall of water, a tsunami, if you will, that came down and took out everything in its path. And from -- we've lost over 70 homes totally, 1,400 homes have had property damage. Cedar trees, cypress trees, and pecan trees that have been here for 400, 500, 600 years, that have withstood thousands of floods, are now gone. We probably have about 10 percent of the lush vegetation that we normally do on the Blanco River still standing.

BURNETT: And now you have more rain coming. I mean, what could that mean for you?

CONLEY: We're very vulnerable right now. So we are preparing for the worst. And hoping for the best. Our grounds are saturated. The river is still up. So if we were to receive a small amount of rain, we could be right back into an emergency situation in regards to floods.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Commissioner. Thank you very much.

CONLEY: Thank you.

BURNETT: You know, he's talking about the record that he's seeing, a 44-foot surge. He describes it as a tsunami.

I want to bring in our meteorologist Chad Myers OUTFRONT now. And Chad, I mean, you just heard what he said, I mean, he's talking about a 44-foot surge all of a sudden, I mean, you got more weather coming.


BURNETT: And it seems like even a little bit more rain could mean an incredible flood.

MYERS: Sure. Think about a funnel. And that's what happened here. The funnel, you put water all around the funnel, all of a sudden it has to go out one place. The bottom. And that was Wimberley. That was San Marcos. This was the area that we talked about. This is what the weather has looked like for many, many days. Tropical moisture coming off the Gulf of Mexico. And it just rains day after day after day into Oklahoma, Texas, Little Rock, all the way down to Shreveport, 10 inches, this white area, that's 20 inches of rain just this month. There's not one place on the planet that can absorb that much water before it starts to run off. So, here is the deal. We are going to get more rain before it stops.

But I believe by Sunday the bulk of this rain is over. So, we get through this time, we get through the next few days, we have so many rivers that are already out of their banks. We have flash flood watches, flash flood warnings here, watches here around Austin because there's nothing for it to do except run off. One hundred and eighty five river locations across the south and the plains now at or above flood stage from what we've already seen in May. I can't imagine if we get anymore rain showers in May. But at least it looks like the beginning of June should dry out.

BURNETT: All right. So, when you talk about the Blanco River, right? MYERS: Yes.

BURNETT: You talk about the commissioner, he's saying, you know, you had a five-foot level. And then all of a sudden in a couple of hours --


BURNETT: It was at 44 feet. How does something like that happen so quickly? Because obviously, you know, you're talking about a lot of rain, but you're talking about, you know, a few inches of rain in that time. But the surge is 40-plus feet.

MYERS: I'm talking about a lot of rain that happened over the entire river basin. Two things happened here. We have the basin, which is large, and there's hills behind this area. So, it rained in the hills and all the water wanted to come down. Plus, there's very little topsoil in this area. Very little. So there's not even feet for it to get into. There's inches of topsoil before all of a sudden you get to limestone. Ask somebody in Austin, how their basement is. They don't have them. You just build on a slab because it would cost you thousands of dollars in dynamite to try to blow out a basement. They just don't do this, even in Oklahoma where I live, they don't have a basement.

You know, it would be great to have a basement where there's tornados but, you know, it doesn't happen, it's just too hard there. So, we went from down here to up here, and then back down. The rise of the river, this rise happened only in two hours. And it happened because of a couple of things. The ground saturates and then all of a sudden the water goes up. We didn't get saturation here but it's not much to saturate. Two or three inches and the water starts going down and it becomes a mudslide, and all of a sudden it goes up, the river rises and the river did go up. Now, all of a sudden you take all that water and you push it up a hill. And it has to come down into one spot. Then you have a problem.

Here's the river basin for Wimberley. All the way through here. All the way down through here, we have San Marcos and also have the Blanco River. And right through Wimberley, right there, that is the funnel. That's the funneling effect that really got them in trouble. Get you closer. There's the river right there. Two coming together, two basins coming together, and all of a sudden you push all that water through one place, it goes up 30 feet in two hours.

BURNETT: That's incredible. The convergence comes in one place and you're low ground.

MYERS: Absolutely.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much to Chad Myers.

And OUTFRONT next, two mid-air scares. One plane losing power to both engines in midflight. Dropping thousands of feet. Two hundred people onboard. The other almost crashing into a volcano. That's next. And the IRS hit by a massive cyber-breach. Who stole taxpayers'

personal information? We'll be right back.


[19:29:01] BURNETT: A serious scare in the air at 39,000 feet tonight. A major airline trying to figure out why both engines on an airbus failed. That means there were no engines operating. The incident happened over the weekend. It was a Singapore Airlines flight. By the way top-ranked airline in the world. That plane was bound for Shanghai. There were 194 people on board that plane. It was just south of Hong Kong when the two engines both lost power. At that point, the plane started to descend. The pilots were rushing desperately to try to restart the engines. So how did this flight lose power to both engines? And could it happen again?

Rene Marsh OUTFRONT.


RENE MARSH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Singapore Airlines Flight 836 with 194 on board was flying over the South China Sea bound for Shanghai when both engines went out. The sudden loss of power at 39,000 feet as the jetliner passed through bad weather. Within seconds, the aircraft dropped nearly 13,000 feet.

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: The pilot has to basically put the plane that's now lost the power and its engines in a dive. And that wind going through those engines spins the turbines and helps the pilots get a relight. But even with a relight, getting your engines actually going again, you know, the fuel is burning, you have to be able to sustain those engines. So, it's a really tricky maneuver.

MARSH (voice-over): Singapore Airlines says the problem started about three and a half hours after departing from Singapore. They say one engine regained power while pilots worked on the second.

SCHIAVO: It is something that they're trained to do. And in all cases, on all planes, there is a point at which the manuals say, don't try any more diving restarts, just look for a place to put it down. And set it down.

MARSH: This is the latest of several incidents involving Asian Airliners. In February, both engines on a TransAsia flight lost power. Flight 235 crashed into a river in Taiwan. In December, AirAsia Flight 8501, an Airbus 320, disappeared from radar and crashed into the Java Sea minutes after the pilot asked for clearance to climb in altitude to avoid bad weather.

And Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared without a trace more than a year ago.

But as for Singapore Airlines, its safety record is one to brag about. This year, it was rated one of the top ten safest airlines.


MARSH: And, Erin, this was a brand-new plane. Not even a year old. The airline says it found no anomalies with the plane's engines, but bad weather like severe downpour of rain that could cause the engines to flame out. But it's not clear if that's exactly what happened here.

A full investigation is now under way. Nevertheless, we should point out that aircraft was put right back into operation just a few hours later -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's just incredible. And then when they restarted the engines they continued, they didn't stop and land anywhere else.

All right. Rene Marsh, thank you.

OUTFRONT now, our aviation analyst Miles O'Brien, along with our safety analyst David Soucie.

Miles, let me start with you. What do you think happened here? I mean, when Rene goes to these other examples I think it's fair to note everyone's been saying planes should generally avoid these kinds of storms, these kinds of thunderstorm cells. So this plane didn't, went through it, engines failed. Then they continued on their route when they restarted them. They didn't even stop.

I mean, what do you think happened?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, taking MH-370 aside, you know, you can connect the dots to some really bad weather, monsoon season. This was a lot of precipitation. Of course, 39,000 feet, we're talking about probably frozen precipitation.

The crew should have put its anti-ice mechanism on so that the engines would not be adversely affected by that. That will be part of the investigation, did they do that? Did the machine itself or the engines somehow, did they fail? The airline is saying so far not, the plane was put right back into service after inspection.

It is possible that, you know, there's not a limitless amount of water you can put into a jet engine but for it will douse, before it will flame out. That could be the case here.

BURNETT: So, David, what I'm curious about, first of all, they fail. You know, it's a miracle in many senses they were able to restart them. They didn't stop at an intermediate airport, right? They continued all the way to Shanghai. Tested the engines, nothing's wrong, plane goes back in the air.

That's terrifying for a lot of people, right? I wouldn't want to be on that plane right now. There are 1,000 Airbus A330s in operation. Delta, U.S. Airways use this jet. I know this concerns you.

What can be done to make sure it does not happen again? Which is a tough question, because we don't actually know what happened.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: These kind of problems, they can't be replicated, are the most difficult to fix and the most difficult to make the safety decision down the road, as you're saying. If you can't duplicate it again, what else do you do? Do you go ahead and fly it, do you not? These are the decisions that have to be made.

Now, to Miles' point about the investigation, he made very good points about the environment. What you look at as an investigator is what is it that's common to both engines? If there's something common to them.

The only thing I can think of on board the aircraft that's common is the fuel itself and Miles touched on that about the water, if there's water in the fuel. I think that's what he was talking about. Or water through the front of the engine. But -- so, that's common.

The other thing that's common is the fuel transfer. Now, there shouldn't have been fuel transfer at this point during the flight either. Those of the things that you would look at to see if a fuel transfer valve had gotten stuck or when you're transferring fuel from one engine to the other. The fuel source is unique. Each engine has its own fuel source unless it's transferred.

So, that's the first thing I'd be looking at. Now, when you talk about should you continue the flight, or should you return to the other airport, what you're looking at there is the additional risk, if you've done everything you can do.

Now, remember, on these engines, you know exactly what's going on with them, whether it's vibration, whether it's anything. So, when you're confident that there's nothing else going wrong with the engines themselves, that's one thing and that's what they did.

[19:35:04] But there's more to it than that. And we all know that. That's where the risk comes in.

BURNETT: All right. And let me ask you, Miles, about the other story that is just shocking. Weather also being blamed now for an Air France flight. This jet was trying to avoid the storm and almost flew into a mountain, into a volcano. That was on its actual route.

Pull-up alarm began to sound. They were able to actually ascend just in time, which avoided a complete and utter disaster of flying into a mountain.

Does this shock you that this would have happened?

O'BRIEN: Well, it's interesting that they were in an area, anywhere in close proximity to this mountain, at altitude that would put them in that kind of harm that would put them flying into the side of the mountain if something bad happened.

BURNETT: They were low, 9,000 feet.

O'BRIEN: They were low, they were trying to thread their way through thunderstorms. They were looking very carefully to get out, avoid the thunderstorms, which is a good technique.

But you have to remember, it's very easy to focus on that weather radar on your instrument panel and forget to look out the window occasionally and see where you are. Situational awareness is important for pilots. In this case, it appears they lost situational awareness.

BURNETT: Yes, just terrifying. Two very terrifying stories in both cases.

Thanks very much to both, David and Miles.

And OUTFRONT next, a major, major breach. More than 100,000 American taxpayers. Tonight, have your personal and financial information stolen? And we have now found out who was behind it. We have that breaking headline next from the man breaking the story.

And the D.C. mansion murders. We are learning more tonight about the man charged. We have breaking news on how well he really did know that family.


[19:40:40] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight. The theft of more than 100,000 American tax returns traced to Russia. Sources telling CNN tonight the massive cyber attack which allowed criminals to steal the personal information of all of those American taxpayers originated in Russia.

Our Chris Frates broke the story and he's live in Washington.

And, Chris, what are you learning?


So, what we're learning is IRS believes this breach did, in fact, originate in Russia. I'm told by sources who have been briefed on the breach that's what's happened.

Now, it's interesting how the thieves got the information. They were able to obtain taxpayers' personal information from elsewhere. They were then able to use those Social Security numbers, addresses, to log in to the IRS website and get the tax returns of about 100,000 taxpayers.

Once they had those tax returns they could then use that information and they could use that information on the tax returns to get a fraudulent refund. And the IRS has learned that they had $50 million of fraudulent refunds that went out the door before they were able to catch this scheme.

Now, the IRS says its criminal unit is investigating. They also say that their inspector general is looking into this. They've notified the Department of Homeland Security as well.

Now, Erin, the data security at the IRS has been a problem for the agency since 1997. In fact, the independent inspector general last year said it was the number one problem facing the agency. So, they're going to have a lot of questions on Capitol Hill. In fact, Senator Orrin Hatch said today that he wants to bring the IRS commissioner to the Hill to answer questions to get explanations for what happened and who's to blame, Erin.

BURNETT: So, Chris, this is pretty terrifying for people. Because you want to know if you're one of the people whose Social Security number was stolen, because obviously whoever has it can now use it for anything else, right? The credit cards, whatever it might be.

Has the IRS told those 100,000 taxpayers, everyone one of them, this happened to you, and these people know? Is it possible someone watching doesn't know and it was you?

FRATES: Well, the plan is to notify all those taxpayers. Actually, it's even bigger than 100,000. These thieves tried to access the files of 200,000 taxpayers. They were only successful in 100,000 of those cases.

The IRS says they're going to notify all of those people that they have information out there, personal information, like Social Security numbers, that was used to attempt to access the accounts. They're also going to give the 100,000 people whose security was breached and whose tax returns were taken, they're going to give them free credit counseling so they can check their credit reports and look for any kind of activity that shouldn't be there.

BURNETT: All right. Of course, this is just the beginning of a long and horrible process of identity theft.

Thank you very much, Chris Frates, breaking the news on that story tonight.

Next, more breaking developments, this on the D.C. mansion murders. We have new details at this hour about how the man charged with the horrific murders actually knew the family.

And on a much lighter note tonight, Jeanne Moos proving that no matter how sophisticated the car may be, it still helps when a human hits the brakes.


BURNETT: Breaking news on the D.C. mansion murders. We are learning new details about the prime suspect in the brutal torture and killing of a wealthy Washington family. A source tells CNN Daron Wint has a history with that family having worked for the family's iron works business. And he has been charged with first-degree murder in connection to the quadruple homicide.

Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT live in Washington with the latest as you're breaking the story tonight.

Pamela, what are you learning about this time at the family business? What was he doing, what did colleagues say about him? Tell us everything you know.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Here's what we're learning. That he worked for -- Daron Wint worked for the family's company, American Iron Works, more than ten years ago. I've been speaking to sources, to his former colleagues.

I'm told that he had a reputation of not being a very good employee. In fact, one person told me that he had a bad attitude when he worked at the company. And he was a welder there, we're told he helped with welding. During that time apparently his positions kept changing within the company because he didn't like working with other people, I'm told, from these former colleagues that I've been talking with.

So, he didn't have a good reputation to say the least. We know that he left in 2005. He left American Iron Works in 2005. What we don't know is whether he was fired or whether he left on his own. So that is still looming question, Erin.

BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible, though, that you've been able to determine a link. I know, Pamela, that you've been reporting on when Wint was arrested he was with other people, as many as five other people. And maybe -- they had -- people in the car with him when he was found, they brought him into custody and released them.

So, who are police investigating right now since we know, from your reporting, that they believe he didn't do this alone?

BROWN: That's absolutely right. So, what we're learning here is that they do believe there are more suspects. And they are still looking at the people who were in the car with him.

We know that among the people in the car were his brother, his cousin.

[19:50:03] We know one of his cousins worked in American Iron Works. We don't know if it was the same one in the car with him.

And we also know that police are investigating two women who were in the car. One of them allegedly admitted to police that she purchased money orders believed to be the money that was dropped off at the home while the family was being held hostage, $40,000, apparently the money orders were $2,500 each.

They have not been charged with any crimes, but I can tell you that police are monitoring them, are keeping their eyes on them. And you can expect more arrests to come in this case. Like I said, they do not believe Wint acted alone -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Pamela, thank you very much.

This is just breaking, the newest details on that story tonight.

I want to bring in Daron Wint's former attorney, Robin Ficker, on this story. He's been in touch with Wint's family since he was taken into custody. Good to have you on, again, Robin.

Now, you just heard a source telling Pamela that Daron Wint worked at American Iron Works about ten years ago. He worked there as a welder. What she was able to ascertain is he's been described as not a good employee and his position within the company kept changing because he wouldn't work for anyone.

When you hear that, what's your reaction?

ROBIN FICKER, FORMER DARON WINT'S ATTORNEY: Erin Burnett, where were you ten years ago? That's a long time. People don't hold grudges for 10 years ago.

He had a job as a welder. He didn't need to kill anyone to get money. He was able to hold a well-paying job.

They should start looking at the people who worked for the victim, the male victim just recently who knew he had a lot of money to throw around. They should look at people who were the recipients of all those phone calls that Mr. Savapoulos made from his home. They should look at people who've been convicted of very violent crimes against people and animals.

They should look for the guy who had short hair, who was well- groomed, who was driving the car of the deceased male victim. They should look elsewhere because it's not Daron Wint. They should look for people who've had recent connections with him and recently were the recipients of the money.

BURNETT: So, let me on that point, Robin, let me just jump in and follow up on that point you're making, because as you know, "The Associated Press" is reporting that there was something more recent, only a few years ago, in 2010, Wint arrested with a machete and a BB gun just outside the American Iron Works building. Those charged were dropped. He did plead guilty to a lesser charge. That obviously that was just a few years ago.

So, that's another issue at American Iron Works with Daron Wint.

FICKER: He pled guilty to an open container. No prosecutor in their right mind is going to diminish a machete charge to an open container unless there was no weapon there. That was made up out of whole cloth.

The -- he doesn't like pizza. He doesn't eat pizza. That's what his family members told me. So I think that this pizza DNA is a red herring. It is like the FBI hair cases that were discredited.

BURNETT: So, on this pizza issue, you've spoken to Wint's family. They're the ones who told you that he doesn't like pizza. In a sense, it seems like a silly thing to be talking about, but it is core of the case because that's what his DNA was found at the house.

So, what are you trying to suggest? That the DNA was planted there. I mean, his DNA was found on the pizza. That's the fact that we have.

FICKER: It's questionable DNA. They got the results way too quickly to be reliable. Why haven't they found anybody else's DNA in that house, on the victims, around the house?

BURNETT: Well, they could have -- they could have, of course, sir, right? But Daron Wint, because he's had so many issues with the law, his DNA was in the system.

FICKER: Well, his DNA was in the system but they must have found fingerprints that would match-up in the house. People were being held captive for 12 -- 14 hours, others were going to the bathroom. They were walking around. They were touching windows, maybe the TV.

What's talking the police so long to come up with answers in this case? Maybe it's because the mayor doesn't want to hold another press conference right away to make it look like something is really happening. There was a rush to judgment on Daron Wint. What's taken them so long to find out who the other people are that were supposedly involve?

BURNETT: That's a very fair question. And I appreciate your time again.

Robin Ficker, thank you.

OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos with the latest safety technology in cars. Of course, you know, I am not a big believer in the whole self- driving thing, ands is why. We'll be back.


[19:58:17] BURNETT: A safety demo gone terribly wrong. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is how not to train your car dealership staff about a safety system meant to protect pedestrians. It's OK. No one was badly hurt. No one event went to the hospital.

The staff at this Volvo dealership in the Dominican Republic will probably be a little less trusting of technology if it wasn't the vehicle's fault. This was no evil car with its mind, like the one in the movie "Christine", moving down people on purpose.

Volvo is still looking into it, but tells CNN that the dealership apparently thought the car was equipped with a radar and camera system that scans for pedestrians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then automatically activates the car's full braking power if the driver fails to respond in time.

MOOS: So what happened with a driver behind the wheel at the dealership. The good news is that according to Volvo, the pedestrian

detection system did not malfunction.

The bad news is that the car wasn't equipped with a pedestrian protection system.

And for thinking it was when it wasn't, and letting the staff stand there, Volvo blames the mishap on human error.

Once during a demonstration for the press of Volvo's automatic braking system failed, Volvo attributed that to a battery problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a mishap in the testing here.

MOOS: Others have challenged the pedestrian detection system for laughs. Even using humans dresses as dummies.

But that was nothing compared to the crash course these guys got.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: I test drove one of those things and I prefer the brake.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.