Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama Makes All-Out Pitch for Iran Nuclear Deal; Police Update on Nashville Theater Shootings; Malaysians Say Wing Debris Came from MH-370; Al Qaeda's Master Bombmaker Threatens the U.S.; First GOP Debate for 2016 Presidential Primary. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 5, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BASH: They might have even more time to discuss policy issues at that earlier debate than the one in prime time.
TAPPER: Dana Bash in Cleveland, thank you so much.
That's it for THE LEAD.
I'm Jake Tapper turning you over to Brianna Keilar right now. She is subbing for Wolf Blitzer next door in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BRIANNA KEILAR, HOST: Happening now, breaking news -- movie theater shooting. Another gunman opens fire at a theater complex. Police say the shooter, armed with a gun and a hatchet, is dead after a battle with a SWAT team.
But what was in his two backpacks?
Defending the deal -- President Obama goes all-out to make his case for the nuclear agreement with Iran, saying the choice is between diplomacy or war.
But is Iran already busy with a cover-up of a suspected nuclear site?
It is part of the plane. Malaysia's leader says the piece of debris found on an Indian Ocean Island is, indeed, from the missing flight, MH370. It's the biggest break yet.
Will it help investigators find the airliner?
And taking on Trump. He's surged ahead of the pack and now Donald Trump's Republican rivals are fighting to keep up.
Can they trip up Trump at the first GOP debate?
Wolf Blitzer is off.
I'm Brianna Keilar.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news. KEILAR: Breaking news, once again, a gunman opened fire inside a movie theater, this time near Nashville, Tennessee. Police say he injured three people with pepper spray and may have wounded one with a hatchet. The shooter exchanged fire with one officer and then was killed in a clash with a SWAT team. A bomb squad is now examining two suspicious backpacks.
And a break in the MH370 mystery -- Malaysia's prime minister now confirms that the wing part found on a remote island near Africa belonged to the missing airliner. French investigators will now try to learn more from this debris.
And President Obama defends the nuclear deal with Iran, saying it will keep Iran from getting the bomb and it's the only alternative to war.
But will the president's tough language convince opponents or make them dig in their heels?
I'll speak with the president's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, and our correspondents, analysts and guests, who are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.
We begin now with the attack on a Tennessee movie theater.
I want to go straight now to CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.
What are you learning -- Pamela?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this was a very frightening situation for the moviegoers of "Mad Max" in Nashville, Tennessee this afternoon.
According to police, at around 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, a 51-year-old white male who lived in the area entered the theater. He was armed with a gun, with a hatchet, two backpacks, and apparently he was wearing a surgical mask, according to police.
He released pepper spray, police say. And at that time, a 911 call was made and people ran out to officers who were actually working a crash right near the theater, told them what happened. One of the officers went into that theater where "Mad Max" was playing. Apparently, there was an exchange of gunfire and then the gunman apparently went out the back door. That is when he was met with a SWAT team and was shot and killed.
Here's what police had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON AARON, NASHVILLE POLICE: The two women had been doused with chemical spray by the suspect. Their faces were blasted with pepper spray. Back to inside the theater with "Mad Max," the gunman apparently unleashed this pepper spray throughout the theater. And as additional officers, the SWAT team, entered that theater, it was very thick with chemical spray, with irritant. Gas masks were brought into those officers as they attempted to get this person into custody. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And he said the only person hit with gunfire was the gunman.
We know that ATF is responding to the scene, as well as the FBI. Of course, Brianna, they're going to want to figure out what was behind this, whether or not this could have been an act of terrorism and what the motive was here.
It's still too early to know anything in that regard -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Tell us about these backpacks, Pamela.
Have police been able to neutralize them?
BROWN: Well, police said at last check that they were going to detonate these two backpacks. So we know we had -- he had a backpack in the front as well as a satchel. They said they didn't know what was in there. The bomb squad did respond to the scene.
But at this point, we're not sure whether or not they detonated the backpacks, Brianna, and what exactly was in them.
This is certainly a very bizarre situation. And -- but fortunately, no one was seriously injured -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Pamela Brown, thanks so much.
And joining me now to talk more about this, we have CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez, and CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's a former FBI assistant director -- so, Tom, you have a suspect who was wearing this surgical mask on his face. He was armed with a gun, a hatchet or an axe and pepper spray.
Was it -- what is your take on this?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think the fact of the mask, obviously, was that he knew he was spraying this chemical and maybe he was trying to prevent it from choking him.
As far as the hatchet and the gun, you know, it just seems kind of like such a disjointed type thing, to be bringing in all these different pieces of equipment.
And the fact that he didn't kill anybody makes me wonder if maybe he didn't intend to kill anybody except himself.
You know, you have people at a theater sitting next to you, in front of you, behind you, how do you miss, you know?
And it didn't sound like he took a lot of shots at anybody except the police.
So, you know, whether this was suicide by cop and he just wanted to wait until the police came and engage an officer, later engaged the SWAT team and be taken out that way. But it surprises me, other than the one injury to the person with the hatchet being hit in the shoulder that he had...
KEILAR: That he didn't do much more damage.
FUENTES: Yes, exactly.
KEILAR: That's surprising to you.
KEILAR: Evan, you have officials who are saying at this point that they don't know why he targeted this particular movie, "Mad Max." They have confirmed he is a 51-year-old white man. And you have ATF and the FBI assisting in this investigation.
Where do they go from here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first things first. I mean one of the things that the police said is -- at this press conference -- was that upon looking at one of these backpacks, they were not comfortable with what they were seeing. So first -- first things first, it's trying to figure out, to make sure that these -- whatever he was carrying in there has been detonated, has been secured, to make sure that there's no danger.
Now they're going to try to go to his home, to try to figure out whether there's any clues there. And, obviously, there's a great danger, based on what they're seeing just in this backpack, that that might be booby-trapped. So that's going to take a few hours. They're going to try to figure out whether or not, you know, he told anybody about his plans, whether or not he wrote anything down. They're going to interview his friends, his family members, all of these things, it's going to take several hours before the FBI and the ATF can rule out other theories here.
KEILAR: They're not comfortable, Tom, with what's in the backpack. That makes sense.
Would they have been able to get any sort of glimpse into this or are they just going to be uncomfortable with this backpack and another bag that he had with him?
Are they just going to be uncomfortable with that and detonate it even without knowing what's inside because of what's happening?
FUENTES: Well, that's a good question. I think the last of comfort may be that they had a robot that took an x-ray of this and...
FUENTES: -- and they saw wire sod, you know, containers inside of it that made them suspicious and decided that's it, we're going to use the robot, remove it, put it in a bomb containment vessel of some kind, take that out to a safer location, go ahead and blow it, then go through the pieces later and try and see how it was built and what the detonation wires and other explosive material was contained in it, and then do that with the second device.
KEILAR: You had the recent shooting at Lafayette at another movie. And it just -- in the scheme of things, obviously, this isn't -- we're talking a couple of shootings here. These are the latest in a string. You had one in Aurora, Colorado years ago, not too long ago.
What is going on here?
PEREZ: You know, I have to tell you, I went to the movies on Sunday afternoon with my wife. And, you know, I thought about it. I thought about (INAUDIBLE)...
KEILAR: I think about it, now, too, Evan.
PEREZ: You know, it hadn't really, really ever entered my mind before now. And do you have to think about it.
And we know from previous -- from previous incidents like this, that these shooters, that these people study previous incidents. We know that the shooter in Newtown, for instance, studied the shooting in Aurora, Colorado in the theater. We don't know whether this man was looking at other previous incidents, but we know from previous incidents that they do tend to do that. So that's obviously something that the FBI profilers are going to be looking at, behavioral scientists who study this stuff because, frankly, it's very -- it's almost impossible to stop this kind of thing.
KEILAR: Tom, Evan, thanks so much.
And we do have information coming into us from what's going on there in Nashville. A gunman dead after this attack at a movie theater/ We'll bring you the latest information as we get it in. Again, this is ongoing.
I want to turn now to the nuclear deal with Iran. President Obama today made a strong pitch for the agreement. He said the alternative may be war.
But amid the furious debate here in Washington, there are signs that Iran may already be trying to cover up its nuclear tracks.
CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has the latest.
What are you seeing -- Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, we heard, as you said, a president uncowed by doubts and questions about this Iran deal, painting it as a choice simply between diplomacy and war, dismissing charges that Iran can cheat.
But today, CNN learned Iran may be trying to do that just that, attempting to sanitize one of the most sensitive suspected nuclear sites.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am stating a fact.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Today, the president made an impassioned, even defiant defense, of the Iran nuclear deal, attempting to dissuade skeptical lawmakers from blocking the agreement.
OBAMA: I've had to make a lot of tough calls as president. But whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls. It's not even close.
SCIUTTO: But the skeptics got new ammunition today. CNN has learned that the U.S. intelligence community believes Iran is attempting to clean up one of the most sensitive suspected nuclear sites -- the military installation at.
After new commercial satellite imagery showed heavy construction equipment, including bulldozers.
The president dismissed the possibility that Iran can hide nuclear activity.
OBAMA: Nuclear material isn't something you hide in the closet. It can leave a trace for years. The bottom line is, if Iran cheats, we can catch them and we will.
SCIUTTO: A senior intelligence official familiar with the imagery in question tells CNN that the IAEA, the international agency responsible for inspecting Iran's nuclear sites is, quote, "familiar with sanitization efforts and the international community has confidence in the IAEA's technical expertise."
Many lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, aren't convinced. They take particular issue with the fact that the administration has not released details of agreements between Iran and the IAEA and won't confirm if U.S. officials even read them.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Why now will you not give us the documents that exist that are so important to all of us, relative to the integrity of this?
WENDY SHERMAN, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: We don't have the documents, in the first instance. We don't have them. So we don't have them to give to you.
I didn't see the final documents. I saw the provisional documents, as did my experts.
SCIUTTO: For the president, however, the choice remains clear.
OBAMA: Let's not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon. (END VIDEO TAPE)
SCIUTTO: This is the satellite imagery in question. It shows the site. And this is what's been identified as analysts. You see new structures here and here. You see a vehicle here, which may be a bulldozer. You see some rubble here and here.
The judgment of the U.S. intelligence community is that this is an attempt to sanitize some of the efforts here.
Now, as the president said, though, Brianna, you can dig, you can bury all you wants, but the nature of nuclear material, particularly enrich uranium, is it sticks around for a long time. We're talking millions of years. And they say that they're confident in the IAEA's ability, despite activity like this, to detect that kind of activity, if it happened there.
That's the president's position. That's the administration's position.
KEILAR: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks for that report.
Joining me is the assistant to the president. He is also deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, coming to us from the North Lawn of the White House.
Ben, thanks for talking with us today about this. I do want to ask you about the Iran deal. But first, we're also following this movie theater attack in Tennessee. And I'm wondering if you can share any information that you have learned or if the president is monitoring -- is this situation?
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Well, Brianna, in these types of circumstances, it's really the local officials on the ground who are the tip of the spear in responding to this type of event. They will have, obviously, the most current information about what exactly is happening there.
At the same time, we're always in coordination with the FBI and local officials when there are incidents like this. Lisa Monaco, the president's homeland security adviser, is regularly following these types of in -- incidents. And she can provide updates to the president as news going forward.
KEILAR: OK. And I do want to move on and talk about the Iran deal. The president made his pitch today.
Is he confident that he's going to have the votes that he needs for this to survive?
RHODES: Yes, Brianna, we're very confident, first of all, because this is a good deal that achieves the objective of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Insofar better than the alternatives, as he laid out today. He's made clear he'd veto any Congressional effort to block the implementation of this deal. We're very confident that we can hold that veto, with the Democratic Caucus in the House and also the Senate we're focused on.
If you look in recent days, for instance, just today, you had Angus King, an Independent senator from Maine, coming out in support of this deal. You've had, in recent days, people like Chris Murphy and Tim Kaine, very prominent senators, coming out in support of this deal. So we're confident that we'll be able to move forward.
KEILAR: Do you think you'll be able to win over Senator Cardin, for instance, Senator Schumer?
RHODES: Well, we're going to try to win over everybody we can. And so we've been in regular contact with Senator Schumer, Senator Cardin and a host of other people in the House and the Senate. We'll keep briefing them. We'll keep getting them answers to this question -- their questions.
We believe the more people know about this deal, the more likely they are to support it.
KEILAR: I want to play something that the president said a little earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It's those hard-liners chanting "Death To America!!" who have been most opposed to the deal. They're making common cause with the Republican Caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: He seems, Ben, to be really be picking a partisan fight right there with those comments. But at the same time, one of the biggest hurdles that the administration that you're facing is with Democrats, is with the president's own party.
[17:15:12] RHODES: Well, we've had solid support from Democrats in congress since this deal was announced. I think the fact of the matter is, as the president said in his speech, the Republicans have signed up and come out in opposition to this deal, so many of them, before they even read it, before we even sent it up to the Hill. So we're used to some reflexive partisanship on these issues. We're expecting there to be very strong Republican opposition, as there has been on many of our foreign and domestic policies, but we're confident that there's a growing base of support among Democrats in both the House and the Senate for this deal.
KEILAR: Why do you have so many Democrats who are opposed to this, though?
RHODES: Well, Brianna, I don't think we have so many Democrats who are opposed to it. If you look at the people who have come out and taken positions, it's very clearly a vast majority of those... KEILAR: I mean, in fairness, Ben, this is what you're working on. This is what you guys are working on, and the arms that you're twisting, and the phone calls that you're making, when you have big names like Senator Schumer and Senator Cardin and a number of other Democrats in the House, as well as the Senate who have these reservations.
What are their concerns? And, you know, how do you address those concerns?
RHODES: Well, first of all, the people you mentioned have not come out...
KEILAR: Or they have reserved, having an idea of what is on the table here. And it has been at this point a couple of weeks. They have reserved judgment, and they are making up their minds. They've not rallied behind the president right away. They obviously have concerns.
How are you -- how are you dealing with that and acknowledging that there are reservations on your side of the aisle, as well?
RHODES: Well, look, we think it's entirely appropriate that people want to take the time to get briefed, to examine what is a very detailed agreement. We've had them Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, like a number of House Democrats, Adam Schiff on the Intelligence Committee, the ranking member there, Sandy Levin, a very senior member in the House, come out for this. Several senators have come out for this in recent days.
So the people who are declaring their position on this, in terms of the Democrats, are very much coming out in support of this deal.
But again, if people want to take time to study this, this is very technical, we believe the more people know about the facts, the more likely they are to support the deal. So we're very comfortable with the notion that people want to get briefed by nuclear experts like Ernie Moniz, look at all the angles. And we think at the end of the day the support will be there.
KEILAR: Can you give us, Ben, some insight into something that we are just hearing about, Jim Sciutto reporting that Iran is attempting to clean up one of its suspected nuclear sites before international inspectors arrive there. There's satellite imagery that shows heavy construction equipment in the area. This includes bulldozers.
Can you give us a sense of what they're up to?
RHODES: Well, first of all, I won't comment on intelligence reports. What I would say is this. In the deal, we're at 24-7 at their nuclear facilities. When you're talking about Parchin, the facility that you mentioned, we are referencing actions that Iran took well over a decade ago, that we blow the whistle on.
We put out a national intelligence estimate that was declassified to determine that we found that they'd undertaken these efforts there. This is about looking at what they did in the past.
And again, what the president made clear today is that you cannot sanitize nuclear materials. In some cases they leave traces for thousands of years. It's radioactive material. So again, this is not the kind of thing that you can hide in the closet or even run over with a bulldozer. We'll get the access we need in suspected sites, whether it has to do with their past work, but importantly about their future work, so that we can detect any effort by Iran to cheat.
But again, I don't think that Iran is going to be able to clean up in a couple of weeks in Parchin, something that they weren't able to try to clean up over the last decade. We've blown the whistle on those activities. We're going to get access necessary to look into it. And going forward, we're going to have the ability to verify that Iran cannot pursue a nuclear weapon.
KEILAR: So whatever this may be in the scheme of things, you're saying it's negligible?
RHODES: Yes, absolutely. Look, every day people are going to come forward with different arguments against this deal. The bottom line is look at the inspection regime. The declared nuclear facilities that we're monitoring. We're there 24/7. We're there -- enriching uranium. We're looking at their whole nuclear supply chain. And if there's a suspicion site in Iran, we can get access to that site even if Iran objects. And they cannot hide nuclear materials in the closet. Or sweep them under the rug.
RHODES: This stuff will that we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for a very long time.
KEILAR: Ben, I am -- I am sorry to end it there. I think I cut you off probably about a sentence or two short. We do have to go. Thank you so much for talking to us.
We have breaking news. There is a press conference under way in Nashville following this attack in a movie theater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stephen has agreed to make a brief statement to you all. He's not going to entertain any questions. He's going to make a brief statement, and then he's going to turn around and walk away. He's doing this today so that his privacy is maintained and his family is not disturbed or bothered today or in the coming days.
[17:20:04] Again, Steven has agreed to make this statement now. No questions. And then when he's done, he's going to turn around and walk. OK, sir.
STEVEN, ATTACK VICTIM: The only thing that I would like to say is I'm eternally grateful -- excuse me -- for the Metro Police Department for their fast response today, and the fact that no one else got injured other than the person who did this. I would ask anyone to pray for his family, because he obviously has some mental problems or something else. My family does not want any kind of 15 minutes of fame. We were not
looking for any of this. We did nothing to bring this upon ourselves, and I'm very, very grateful that no one else got injured here today, other than the person who perpetrated this.
Again, I just want to say I'm eternally grateful for the Metro Police Department for the absolutely phenomenal job they did coming here, the speed with which they got here when they were called and the emergency medical technicians.
And I'd also like to thank all of the citizens who have gathered around us, helped my daughter when we were pepper-sprayed. That kind of gives me a little bit more faith in humanity again.
I really don't have anything else to say. I know you all like to have a lot of questions answered, but there's nothing that I can answer. I have no idea why this gentleman decided to attack us. He is, from my understanding, no longer able to answer those questions.
In the coming days that come ahead, please direct all of your inquiries to the Metro Police Department, so that they will find out what they can about this gentleman or TBI. Or whoever handles these kind of things. I don't know. I just don't want to be involved in any of this kind of stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were inside the theater at the time?
STEVEN: No questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all.
KEILAR: All right. A press conference there coming to us from Nashville. We believe that may have been a victim or certainly someone who knew some of the victims there in that movie theater in Nashville where the alleged attacker appears to have been -- to have been killed.
He was -- we're just learning one of eight -- one of eight victims that was in the movie theater at the time.
And he apparently is the one who suffered the lacerations with the hatchet or the ax, which we understand that the perpetrator in that attack was wielding. So as you can see, he's standing there before reporters. He's in pretty good condition, considering that was the injury that we understood to be the most severe of the injuries sustained there by those inside of this movie theater.
We're going to continue to follow this. It is developing there outside of Nashville, the latest in this string of movie theater attacks. We'll be back with more of that in just a moment.
But next we are working on some of that breaking news. And let me tell you this. Ahead, we have today's breaking news in the MH-370 investigation. Malaysia's prime minister says the plane part that washed up on the beach is from the missing airliner. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[17:28:00] KEILAR: We're following breaking news. Today's dramatic revelation from Malaysia's prime minister that the debris found on a remote island off Africa does indeed come from the airliner that's been missing for nearly a year and a half.
I want to get the latest now from CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh -- Rene.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, Malaysia's prime minister told the world there is no question the piece was from MH-370, but tonight drama behind the scenes. Sources tell me crash investigators are calling the announcement premature. I'm told experts looking it the debris have not found anything yet to definitively link it to MH-370.
NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: The aircraft debris found on Reunion -- Reunion Island is indeed from MH-370.
MARSH (voice-over): Malaysia's prime minister for the first time uttered words families of the 239 people on board MH-370 have waited 515 days to hear.
RAZAK: We now have physical evidence that, as I announced on 24th March last year, Flight MH-370 tragically ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
MARSH: But the French prosecutor working on behalf of families of four French citizens was not ready to say for certain the piece of the wing called the flaperon, found on Reunion Island, belonged to MH-370.
SERGE MACKOWIAK, PARIS DEPUTY PROSECUTOR (through translator): There is a very strong supposition that the flaperon actually does belong to the Boeing 777, of Flight MH-370.
MARSH: There's more investigators hope to learn from the flaperon. We went to an aviation forensics lab in Maryland to find out.
Joe Reynolds worked on high-profile aviation crash investigations like ValuJet and Air France 447.
(on camera): Let's talk about those tears here.
JOE REYNOLDS, CRASH INVESTIGATOR: Very helpful to know whether things came apart because of a lot of force, impact, or whether they broke up because of, let's say, fatigue in the air.
MARSH: That analysis is not done with the naked eye, but heavy-duty microscopes.
REYNOLDS: It has a rotating capability to scan the object, which is in right now.
MARSH: The pattern in this 3-D image will tell a story.
REYNOLDS: Every time it bends or breaks, it forms a little tiny mark. And that way they can see where it was an instantaneous break or something that happened over time.
MARSH: Now that investigators may have a piece of the MH-370 mystery, they are tasked with answering not only where, but how the jetliner went down.
MARSH: And it's worth noting Boeing put out a statement today, made no mention that its representative on the ground has confirmed without a doubt this is MH-370. Most people will agree, this probably is a part of the missing plane. The problem is experts looking at it say they don't have that definitive proof just yet. We do know tests will continue on this piece tomorrow -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Rene Marsh, thank you.
And I want to get more now from our experts. We have David Gallo. He's the director of special projects for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and he's also a CNN contributor with us. We have Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Traffic Safety Board, a CNN aviation analyst. And we have CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest along with Tom Fuentes, who is a former FBI director, and a CNN law enforcement analyst.
Gentlemen, we're going to take a quick break. We've got many questions for you. We're going to be right back with more on MH-370.
[17:36:16] KEILAR: We have breaking news. Malaysia's prime minister says a wing part discovered on an island beach near African last week came from Flight 370, the airliner that disappeared nearly a year and a half ago.
Experts in San Francisco started examining this part, the flaperon today. A French prosecutor is being a little less definite, saying that there's, quote, "very strong suspicion" the debris came from the airliner.
Let's discuss all of this with our experts, bring folks back in here. Richard, first off, with the expectation that this is indeed -- and we're hearing this from the Malaysians -- this part, from this plane. How significant is this?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It's significant in the sense it gives closure. It allows those families, those who choose to accept this evidence, to realize that the flight did indeed, as the Malaysians say, end in the southern Indian Ocean and that all those on board perished at sea.
And that is no small feat. That's no small undertaking, they can state (ph) that. But it doesn't go any further than that. And that really is -- it's both -- look, Brianna, it's both, at one and the same time, incredibly significant and at the same time not that significant, because it doesn't tell us what happened or where.
KEILAR: Because it's just one piece, right, Peter?
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It's just one piece. You've got a dozen or more investigators poring over it. They are not going to make a statement until they're 100 percent sure. The prime minister was confident that this is...
KEILAR: The Malaysian prime minister.
GOELZ: The Malaysian prime minister. He was not going to give up control of this investigation. He needed to make a statement. He wants to move on.
KEILAR: What's with the difference between what he's saying and what France is saying? Is this just perfunctory caution?
GOELZ: I think it's a little bit of caution. It's a little bit also the tradition of an Annex-13 investigation. You've got the introduction of a new country into this investigation. That was really not probably necessary. They could have shipped the part to Australia, and we could be beyond this.
KEILAR: So David, this is the first piece from MH-370, but you would expect at some point, right, that there's going to be more. What will that look like? How widespread? We heard one expert from Australia say this could -- we could see pieces on the shores of Tasmania.
DAVID GALLO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Sure, that's true, Brianna. But the question is whether out there between the impact site and Reunion Island are those other pieces. And they could be any place in the Indian Ocean. They could be -- if they got trapped on the inside of the gyre, they could well be in the center part of the Indians Ocean.
KEILAR: Does this mean, though, when you look at where this piece washed up, I know a lot of the other pieces you're saying could be in other places. But does this mean that the search area was the correct search area before?
GALLO: Yes, I don't think -- I don't think this changes the search area. That was based on the satellite handshakes. Now, they'll want and hope that somehow this piece, the forensics will lend support to the impact being off the west coast of Australia. But I don't believe it's going to change that at all, and those ships and men are out there -- women are out there right now, looking for the main body of wreckage.
KEILAR: Tom, the big question here is whether this was a criminal act. Many investigators think this was purposeful, what happened to this plane. Will this piece of the plane help in that at all?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Probably not. The reason is if there was a bomb on that plane there would be explosive residue. There would be other indications of fire or some disaster, but most of that would be inside the cabin, inside the airplane. A piece of wing that's to the rear of the plane or to the middle of the plane and extended exterior to the plane, it falls off in the ocean, and we may not know why. But if you remember, you know, some of the earlier plate crashes, you know, the broken half...
KEILAR: You need the black box or the interior of the plane to give you more...
FUENTES: You need the rest of the plane.
KEILAR: All right. Tom Fuentes, Peter Goelz, David Gallo, Richard Quest, thanks to all of you.
And coming up, why is the most hunted man on earth suddenly going public? Stand by for new details about al Qaeda's notorious bomb maker.
[17:45:05] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Al Qaeda's notorious bomb maker has suddenly gone public.
CNN's Brian Todd has been digging up new details -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, tonight U.S. intelligence officials and others who have tracked Ibrahim al-Asiri are telling us he is as dangerous as ever tonight. Analysts say he's working more sophisticated bombs, planning more attacks on America, but he's also just made a move that's not only bizarre, it may also expose him to a kill strike from U.S. drones.
TODD (voice-over): He's known to operate in the shadows. A master bomb maker on the run, but Ibrahim al-Asiri seems to have broken his cover to write an article. He disputes an Al-Jazeera documentary which alleged that al-Asiri's group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, sometimes colluded with the former Yemeni president, quote, "Are all of us spies?" wrote a person believed to be al-Asiri. Analysts say al-Asiri may have just let his ego get the best of him and is taking a huge risk.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: He thinks that he needs to sort of correct the record here, but quite extraordinary that he's doing this. He's basically the most hunted man on earth.
TODD: Al-Asiri has got a U.S. bounty on his head of up to $5 million. A U.S. counterterrorism official tells CNN he's a close ally of AQAP's new leader, Kasim al-Rahimi.
Analysts say U.S. intelligence will be tracking this piece of writing, looking for couriers who transported it, anything that could take al- Asiri out. He's believed to have masterminded the 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomb plot, the 2010 printer cartridge bomb attack, both targeted aircraft heading to the United States. Both almost succeeded. And analysts say he's learned from his mistakes. KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: It's a safe
assumption that Asiri is still working to device a device that will make it through U.S. or Western security protocols.
CRUICKSHANK: More sophisticated than devices that he's developed before. New generation of underwear devices, shoe bomb devices. There's even intelligence suggesting the group is looking into surgically implanting explosives into human terrorist operatives.
TODD: He's tried a version of that before. In 2009 al-Asiri placed a bomb inside the body of his own brother, who tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia's counter terror chief. The bomb killed al-Asiri's brother. The Saudi official survived. The attack made Ibrahim al- Asiri something of a legend in jihadist circles, and him going public could be a strategy from AQAP to compete with ISIS for recruits.
AARON ZELIN, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: So far the Islamic State is still winning this. AQAP is behind. They don't produce as much information and they don't have the same type of network on Twitter. And therefore possibly putting a figure like al- Asiri out there is a way for them to get more buzz.
TODD: But which group is more of a threat right now to the U.S. homeland? Tonight a U.S. intelligence official tells me ISIS is more of a threat for immediate small-scale lone wolf style attacks which they would inspire from afar. As for spectacular mass casualty attacks, this official says al Qaeda and its affiliates like Ibrahim al-Asiri and AQAP, they remain the top threat -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Brian Todd, thanks so much.
Coming up, new details coming in about today's attack in a movie theater in Nashville, Tennessee.
[17:52:52] KEILAR: Donald Trump and his top nine challengers are getting ready for the first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign.
CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is in Cleveland -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the name of the game in prepping for any debate is to expect the unexpected. But it's a whole different thing when the unexpected could be Donald Trump.
BASH (voice-over): The biggest event at this Cleveland Arena these days is usually when the man on the mural across the street plays -- NBA star LeBron James. But all these satellite trucks are lined up for a political sport. The first Republican 2016 presidential debate.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not reality television.
BASH: Sources close to the nine GOP contenders sharing the stage with the unlikely frontrunner Donald Trump insist he will not be their focus.
RUBIO: All of us who are running owe voters an explanation about who we are and what we plan to do if we're elected. And that's what I plan to focus on.
BASH: As for Trump, he insists he wants to focus on issues.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not looking to hurt anybody. I'm not looking to embarrass anybody. If I have to bring up deficiencies I'll bring up deficiencies. But certainly I am not looking to do that, I'd rather go straight down the middle. You don't know what is going to happen.
BASH: And tries to lower expectations politician style.
TRUMP: I have never debated. My sort of -- my whole life has been a debate. But I've never debated before. These politicians all they do is debate.
BASH: The question is whether the man who retaliated against an opponent by reading his cell phone number on live TV can help himself.
TRUMP: I don't know if it's the right number. Let's try it, 2-0-2 --
BASH: Trump's hard-charging lawyer warned maybe not.
MICHAEL COHEN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP CORPORATION: Looked what happened to Lindsey Graham, not even in the debate. Look what happen to Rick Perry, not even in the debate. If you attack Donald Trump he's going to come back at you twice as hard.
BASH: But while Trump may be the most entertaining Jeb Bush may have the most to lose. He is still the favorite among many establishment Republicans and this is a critical chance for him to prove he is worth the record $100 million plus he raised.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the -- I'm -- my dad is the greatest man alive. If you don't like it I'll take you outside.
BASH: That shaky performance at a New Hampshire forum earlier this week has some backers worried. Not to mention the stumble yesterday when talking about funding for Planned Parenthood.
[17:55:05] BUSH: You could take dollar for dollar, although I'm not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women's health issues.
BASH: But his campaign is trying to stay on message in a new cheeky way. The Jeb Bush Swag Store. Selling things like this vintage tank top.
BUSH: This was a serious decade.
BASH: I spoke to a Bush source, Brianna, just a little while ago who said that, of course, even if Donald Trump says he is not going to go after anyone, they do expect the moderators to kind of tee it up for either Trump or Jeb Bush to go at one another. Particularly since they're going to be next to each other. So they say if that doesn't happen it could be television malpractice -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Malpractice. I like that. Dana Bash in Cleveland. Thank you.
Next a gunman opens fire inside a Tennessee movie theater. What was in the backpack that he was carrying?