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Train Suspect Interrogated in Paris; 3 Americans Killed in Kabul Suicide Attack; Migrants Stuck at Macedonia Border; Hospital Closes Pediatric Heart Surgery Unit. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 23, 2015 - 07:30   ET



[07:30:49] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, North and South Korea leaders are in their fifth hour now on the second day of meetings to try to prevent a major confrontation. But that's happening as North Korea has already doubled its artillery forces on the front line, an estimated 70 percent of their submarine units have left their bases. And South Korea's part, they've recalled six fighter jets ahead of schedule from military drills. We'll keep you updated on that story throughout the morning.

And as we reported at the top of the hour, the man accused of trying to attack a European train is being interrogated by anti-terror police right now. Three Americans and one Brit took him down before he could do any harm. And this morning, French media is identifying him as Ayoub el Khazzani.

Investigators are trying to determine where he traveled in the months before the incident. Officials say the suspect met with French ISIS fighters while in Turkey. But, now, they want to know if he actually made it to Syria.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: So, let's talk about some of the new information coming out this morning with Tom Fuentes, CNN military analyst and former assistant director of the FBI.

Tom, so good to have you with us.

So, first of all, this latest information we're getting this morning, French media reporting the suspect is claiming that he found the weapons and only wanted to rob these people. He was on a moving train. What credence do you give to this alleged claim from allegedly the suspect?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I give none. But I guess some people might want to believe that, but I think it's pretty incredible that he would have that kind of equipment with an AK-47, a nine millimeter pistol, knives, you know, other things, box cutters.

So, I think the idea that it was just a robbery, you know, even by itself would be a very terrifying, much less a full blown terrorist attack. PAUL: Let's talk about these possible links to French ISIS fighters

in Turkey that he may be linked to. Talk to me about how focused people should be, authorities should be on Turkey itself. We know that it has been the end point to Syria to travel through it. But do -- is there a belief that people are now training inside Turkey itself?

FUENTES: I haven't heard that they're training in Turkey. But I think the idea of all of these individuals traveling in his case from Morocco to Spain to Turkey, it just shows the tremendous problem and vulnerability, particularly in Europe because of proximity to Turkey, Syria and Iraq, that so many of their citizens or their nationals have made the trip over. And we're not sure if they get through Turkey into Syria and do training or not. But it's almost impossible to track all of the hundreds and hundreds of individual who have traveled from Turkey into Syria and Iraq.

PAUL: Well, this happened on a train where people could not get out if need be. How vulnerable are train systems not just there but in the U.S. to something like this?

FUENTES: Oh, they're completely vulnerable. We don't have the kind of security checks either pre-boarding or in the ticketing process, much less the boarding process to get on a train that we have with airplanes. So, it's a much easier target to get on.

In Europe particularly, you just have so much train traffic. The network of trains, you know, it's the preferred method of travel by most Europeans for nearby countries. In this case, Amsterdam to Paris, you know, it's very logical to use a train instead of an airplane. And they're much more vulnerable.

Also, you know, with regard to a train, compared to, say, a movie theater, the people are trapped. There's no running off the train if it's going 100 miles an hour down the tracks. So the people are sitting ducks for a guy like this to come out of the bathroom on the train, AK-47 in hand and ready to go. You're stock. You know, thankfully, these American heroes, you know, really prevented a massacre.

PAUL: No doubt about it. All right. Hey, Tom Fuentes, always appreciate your insight. Thank you, sir.

FUENTES: Thank you, Christi.

[07:35:00] PAUL: Of course.

BLACKWELL: We've learned more about these three Americans who were among those killed when a suicide bomber blew up his car in Kabul on Saturday. We've learned that all work for the U.S. contractor DynCorp International. Police say their convoy was targeted. Taliban is denying responsibility for the attack.

Let's go now to Anna Coren, who's following the story from Hong Kong. She has the latest for us. So, a denial from the Taliban, anyone claiming responsibility? ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, not at this

stage, which is quite unusual. A spokesperson for the Taliban said they certainly had no involvement in this attack. Now, it was only a few weeks ago that they claimed responsibility for an attack at the international airport which claimed the lives of five people.

So, if this was this part of the Taliban, certainly they would be claiming responsibility. This is something they boast about and take enormous pride in. So, people are wondering is it a hard line faction of the Taliban which may claim responsibility in a couple of days or perhaps a splinter group in Pakistan.

So, all of these questions really remain unanswered at this stage, Victor. But we know that this car suicide bombing caused just hideous damage in the center of Kabul.

As you say, 12 people were killed, three of those U.S. contractors from DynCorp International. They've just released a statement saying their thoughts and prayers are with the victim's families. They're refusing to disclose any more information due to privacy concerns. But they did release that statement just a short time ago.

We know they were working with the coalition forces on the ground. There are only 10,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan at the moment. But obviously these U.S. contractors helping out the forces and providing a great deal of support. It looks like this suicide bomber was definitely targeting their convoy of SUVs.

As you say, this took place at rush hour so the number of casualties was extensive. More than 60 people injured. It took place outside a hospital of all things, a private clinic where people were queued up to see the doctor. So, people living work, many people in their cars, hence the extent of the damage I should say.

But, look, Victor, this is the latest in a wave of violence sweeping across Kabul. And there are serious concerns, you know, that the government and the afghan security forces can really protect the people of Afghanistan, Victor.

BLACKWELL: It has been a concern for sometime now.

Anna Coren, reporting for us. Anna, thanks so much.

PAUL: I want you to know this is a really powerful emotional story we're going to bring you in a second. Kids crying from hunger, adults tearing through police lines. We're headed to a no man's land of sort on the border of Greece where war refugees are trapped in miserable conditions. You want to see what's happening with these families.

Also, a decision from hospital officials after a CNN report sheds light on their disturbing mortality rate. We'll tell you what's happened.


[07:41:56] BLACKWELL: Unimaginable, rockets and shelling in the rebel city -- rebel-held city there in Syria, of Douma. It killed at least 34 people. There were more blasts after the initial attack Saturday northeast of Damascus.

And according to reports, a lot of the people are still buried under all of this. Thousands of refugees most fleeing that conflict in Syria are trying to move further into Europe. We've got a map here that shows the most traveled routes. The migrants once stranded in Greece. They've stormed through police lines at the Macedonia border on Saturday and they've been camped out without shelter since Macedonia sealed its borders Thursday.

Arwa Damon takes you there.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the pain of parents who thought they were saving their children, hardly able to comprehend this is the Europe they risked their lives for.

"We are so scared for our kids", Fathum (ph) sobs on her husband's shoulder, as he cradles their five-month-old.

There is little shelter from the torrential rains and no one to help them. What was an easy crossing for refugees most from Syria's war is no more. Macedonia declaring a state of emergency Thursday, temporarily shut it down, leaving them abandoned, crushed against the razor wire on the Greek side.

A gentle comforting touch often all a parent can offer their child. Few thought they would be degraded to this degree.

Ibrahim al-Masri pulls his daughter off his shoulders.

"Look at this girl," he says. "In Syria, she was an angel. Now she is homeless and treated like an animal. She is feverish and listless."

(on camera): People here are so angry. So upset. They can't believe that this is happening to them. In Europe, everyone who we've been speaking to here has been stuck in these conditions for the last four days.

This woman is pregnant. This man has had two heart surgeries. And over there a woman who says her child is also running a massive fever.

(voice-over): Macedonian police open the border for a few at a time. They stumble through, tightly gripping their children's arms. Some collapse and are carried off. Panic swells. Young men throw themselves across.

Other refugees decide to make a run for it, bolting through any opening they find, darting across the fields, as Macedonian police launch this.

In the chaos, families lose each other. This woman got her son across, but she was pushed back.

[07:45:00] "He's gone, I don't know, I can't see him," she sobs. She's not alone in her soul-wrenching agony.

Their hardships were supposed to end in Europe. Instead, along this border, echoes of misery too profound for words.

Arwa Damon, CNN, on the Greece/Macedonia border.


PAUL: I just cannot imagine what it's like for all those people. >

Shifting gears her real quickly. A CNN investigation is discovering a disturbing mortality rate at a Florida hospital. How that hospital has responded now.

Plus, are North and South Korea inching closer to a conflict? The latest on the massive military buildup in the Korean peninsula this morning.


PAUL: Well, a hospital in Florida has closed its pediatric heart surgery program after the deaths of nine infants. This move comes in the wake of a year-long CNN investigation. Our report found from 2011 to 2013, the mortality rate for pediatric surgery at St. Mary's Medical Center was more than three times the national average. The hospital has criticized our report, called it misleading.

Here's CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just weeks into life, this tiny baby, Layla McCarthy, needed heart surgery. Here at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, Dr. Michael Black performed a delicate procedure to widen Layla's narrow aorta, a defect she had since birth.

[07:50:05] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just made it seems like he was the last person to do this.

MATT MCCARTHY, LAYLA MCCARTHY'S FATHER: There was very like no sweat, don't worry about it. It is a walk in the park.

COHEN: But the surgery was a disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I looked at her, and her legs had started, they had stiffened up a lot. And they started going in almost a tabletop position.

COHEN: After the surgery, Layla was paralyzed.

Here she is today. The McCarthy's had no idea that their daughter's tragedy had a disturbing back story, one that no one had told them. Just three months before Layla's operation, a baby had died after heart surgery by Dr. Black, and five months before that, Alexander Mercado had died. And a month and a half before that, Kiari Sanders had passed away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrible that you go into a program like that, and they can be dishonest with you, and they don't feel a need to tell you what's happened there before.

COHEN: One week after the surgery that left Layla paralyzed, Amelia Campbell died after heart surgery, then Parish Wright a few months later and Landen Summer for eight months after that.

The hospital and the heart surgeon, Dr. Black, rejected requests for an on camera interview, so we tracked down the CEO David Carbone to give him a chance to explain.

(on camera): Hi, Mr. Carbone, it's Elizabeth Cohen at CNN. Hi, Mr. Carbone, it's Elizabeth Cohen at CNN. How are you, sir?

Sir, we want to know what the death rate is for your babies at the pediatric heart hospital in your program.

(voice-over): He also wouldn't answer the parents' question, why did so many babies die at St. Mary's?


PAUL: And Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now. Elizabeth is just telling me he resigned this week?

COHEN: That's right. David Carbone resigned and the hospital shuttered its program this past week as well.

PAUL: But they defended it initially.

COHEN: They did defend it initially. They put out a press release saying that CNN is wrong and that they had a risk adjusted mortality of 4.7 percent. But they never explained what numbers they used to get to that 4.7 percent. So, we can't really check those numbers.

PAUL: But they did blame us for their closing down.

COHEN: They blamed the media.

PAUL: They blamed the media.

COHEN: They blamed the media, so when they closed down, they said, they put out this statement. They said the inaccurate media reports on our program had made it significantly more challenging to build sustainable volume in our program, and then Dr. Black's attorney put out a statement that said, "Dr. Michael Black remains in good standing on the medical staff at St. Mary's Hospital."

PAUL: So, I'm looking at these families and what they've gone through and I have to think that -- the fact that they shut down they say something in the family's favor if lawsuits are brought.

Are lawsuits brought?

COHEN: You know -- yes, lawsuits have been brought.

PAUL: They're brought.

COHEN: Yes, correct, civil lawsuits and the McCarthy family who we met at the beginning of the piece, they're family has filed a suit, Keri Sander's parents have filed the suit, and the hospital has denied all wrongdoing. Now, those suits are at the beginning of the process. So, they haven't been adjudicated. They haven't been settled. It will be interesting to see, you know, what happened.

PAUL: You say a state panel of experts have reviewed this hospital.

What did they end up recommending?

COHEN: So, the chair of the panel recommended, and this is back -- you know, a year and a half ago or so recommended that they stop doing the complex surgeries on any child, and that they stop doing any surgeries on babies. So, no surgeries on babies, no complex surgeries on any child and they didn't abide by that, and the hospital said to us, look, it was a recommendation, it was not a mandate, they continued to do the surgeries and the children continued to die.

PAUL: My goodness, Elizabeth. It's such a compelling piece, and I know that these families are very grateful for it. Thank you so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right. We have been following this break news all morning.

North and South Korea are increasing the military presence. The fighter jets, the artillery forces, the submarines are all on the move this morning, and this is happening as the two sides are meeting to try to prevent a potential shooting war. The latest at the top of the hour.


[07:58:05] BLACKWELL: So, there was spygate, and then deflategate and then who knows what after that.

A former coach Tony Dungy revealed this this week -- listen -- Peyton Manning was so worried about the New England Patriots cheating when he played for the colts that he would not talk strategy in the locker room, and according to one Indianapolis sports reporter, the Colts still sweep for bugs when they visit Gillette Stadium in the locker room.

PAUL: I am interested to know what you said about that, because you played for nine years?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Yes. Look, there are two sides to every story, right? I mean, there had never been any reports that they actually found bugs in the Patriot's defense, and even with deflategate, this is going on for months and months. There's no hard evidence that the Patriots cheated.

So, nonetheless, they have been involved in scandals, and the biggest sports scandal in sports history and we wanted to know what you thought, and you give us some comments.

Jake, you said, "Deflategate is probably the dumbest sports scandal of all time. Can't believe it is still being talked about." We like that one.

Aunt Nae-Nae said, "Jerry Sandusky, Penn State assistant football coach, child sexual abuse scandal."

Susan said, "Biggest scandal Bruce Jenner receiving ESPY award for bravery."

PAUL: Wow.

COY: Remember, a lot of people thought Lauren Hill, the college basketball player, should have received that.

Anthony said, "Bruce Jenner, not feeling freedom to live in truth for more than 60 years due to often cruel, bigoted world."

Nicolas, "For me, it's the 1919 Chicago Black Sox." They threw that World Series game and got paid from it.

Mitch, finally, says, "Patriots cheating biggest scandal."

PAUL: Wow.

COY: Yes. So, a lot of great responses as well. We love having you join the show and using your insight. A lot of heated debates about what the biggest sports scandal was.

PAUL: Well, and heated debates about all of those scandals still live on as well.

Coy Wire, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Coy.

WIRE: You're welcome.

PAUL: All righty. Thank you so much for spending your time with us this morning.

BLACKWELL: Your NEW DAY continues now.


PAUL: All right. It is just about 8:00, in case you haven't checked the clock lately. We are so grateful for your company. I'm Christi Paul. BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's good to be with you.