Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Pentagon Spent Millions to Research UFOs; CNN Probe Prompts Review of Puerto Rico Hurricane Deaths; Amtrak Crash Kills 3 and Train was Going 50 MPH Over Limit. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 19, 2017 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Now to a stunning revelation about our government and UFOs. You heard me, the Pentagon has been running a secret program dedicated to investigating UFO sightings like the one in this video, which was captured by a U.S. Navy fighter jet. The program started more than a decade ago and cost an estimated $22 million. And now one of the Pentagon's UFO hunters is speaking out about what he discovered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUIS ELIZONDO, FORMER MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: The purpose of the program, Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was designed to do just that. From a national security perspective identify those things that we see, whether we see them electoral optically. We see them with radar. We see them as eyewitness reports, through a myriad of different ways and avenues that we receive the information. And try to try to ascertain and determine if that information is a potential threat to national security. I'll tell you unequivocally that through the observation, scientific methodologies that were applied to look at this phenomena, that these aircraft -- we'll call them aircraft -- are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the U.S. inventory nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of. My personal belief there is compelling evidence that we may not be alone. Whatever that means.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's start there. I have with me James Fox. He's a documentary film maker who researches UFO sights. James, welcome.

JAMES FOX, FILMMAKER AND UFO INVESTIGATOR: Thank you for having me on the show.

BALDWIN: Just first in your research and your interviews, had you ever heard of this pentagon program?

FOX: OK, so let me extrapolate on what he just said. He's basically saying there are these structured craft that if we are supposed to be out there to identify them. But I had an interesting meeting with a general, General McPeak, fairly recently for an upcoming movie we are working on. And he basically said, well let's talk hypothetically for a moment here. If such an event did occur and if we scrambled jets to intercept that object, and we were unable to identify it, it would fly rings around our jets. Which is the case here from the video that you're looking at. That would constitute a national security issue. Therefore, it would remain classified. So, the fact that this material has come out -- is coming out, it is very encouraging. We may see a wave of transparency going on.

BALDWIN: Just so we are on the same page. You believe in UFOs. You believe we are not alone?

FOX: Well, I have traveled around the world for 25 years, interviewing high ranking military and government officials about this particular issue. Currently investigating a case that happened, they called this one of the pilots called this a 40-foot long tic-tac. Before tic-tac's were invented 1968, there was a case that happened in a landing case in 1964, which air force was investigating called the Sikora UFO Incident.

[15:35:00] So, this is nothing new to me. But the fact it's coming out is encouraging. And I think that we might see a bit of a following with other governments and more transparency.

BALDWIN: So, let me play some sounds from a Navy pilot who says he spotted one of these objects. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMANDER DAVID FRAVOR, NAVY FIGHTER PILOT (RETIRED) (voice): It's randomly moving north, south, east west, just random. You know, just stopping, going the other direction. Like you can do with helicopter, but a little bit more abrupt. It looks like 40-foot long tic-tac with no wings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Yes, so that's the tic-tac guy. Right, as you were saying that. I was thinking, well we actually have sound with this individual. Given this personal experience and security clearance, what does it say to you? And does any of it corroborate? You talk about all these general and other government officials you've spoken with. Is this all sort of a similar story?

FOX: So, well, yes, it is. And here's the thing. It basically says to me there are structured craft, we have known this for quite some time, of unknown origin, whizzing around in our air space, some of our very secure air space. When we do scramble jets to intercept these objects what baffles the observers more than anything else is lack of any wings, visible means of propulsion, exhaust vents. They have ability to hover, change speeds at high velocity, 90 angle turns at high speed, stop on a dime, accelerate to standstill to have a sight in the blink of an eye. We simply don't have that technology. And we haven't had that technology. So, what are we looking at? We have to do the process of elimination. If it's not us, if it's not the Russians, if it's not the Chinese and it's not people in South America, well who's left? And you kind of have to go like, you know. So that's kind of what they are insinuating at now. BALDWIN: James, have you seen any of this with your own eyes? Or

this is all just in myriad stories and antidotes from all these official people?

FOX: That's the thing, it's a preponderance of evidence. It's testimonials from primarily military and government officials, also some civilian people as well.

BALDWIN: You believe them?

FOX: Absolutely. Why would they when we have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

BALDWIN: I got you. So, when people say to you, James Fox you are crazy, what's your response to those people?

FOX: My dad did. My father was mainstream journalist. He was my biggest skeptic for the longest time when I was producing films. Look, I'll be the first one to admit the vast majority of unidentified flying object reports are nuts. I'll be the first one to admit that. But there is a core, 5 or 10 percent that truly are made of credible observers of credible things. And those are the cases that we are focusing on and those are the cases that you're looking at with this UFO that they tried to intercept in 2004.

BALDWIN: All right.

FOX: But, yes, I know.

BALDWIN: I know, I was listening to the White House daily briefing on a day of you know tax reform passing, and there was a question to the White House spokeswoman about does the president believe in UFOS because of the news with the Pentagon, and the answer was she hadn't quite had the conversation yet.

FOX: I just met with John Podesta, he talked about inquiries in Clinton administration made. There was an executive order signed to release previously classified documents. Carter had seen one. Carter made inquiries. Carter tried to get stuff released. So, I would say if anyone could get stuff released, maybe Donald Trump if you are listening, President Trump, you could make an effort and try to get information out for the rest of us.

BALDWIN: UFOs, who would have thought. James Fox, thank you very much for your perspective. Good to have you on.

FOX: Thanks very much.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here on CNN, the Homeland Security Secretary is in Puerto Rico today as a third of the island is still without power. We'll show you how these people are coping months after that deadly hurricane.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: House Republicans are planning to add $81 billion in disaster relief to spending bill that would prevent a government shutdown. It includes aide to help hurricane victims like those in Puerto Rico. Today Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, is in the U.S. territory, along with housing secretary, Ben Carson. Their visit comes as Puerto Rico's governor call for a review of the death count from hurricane Maria. And after a CNN investigation pointed out discrepancies with the official death toll of 64. Bill Weir was in Puerto Rico right after Maria made landfall. He went back to see what the situation looks like now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When we first Deanna and Miquel in the hills of Aguas Buenas. They had just made it through the worst storm of their lives. But the fight for survival was just beginning. The Vietnam vet had a just few doses of insulin spoiling in a powerless fridge. When I went back a month later the transmission tower that nearly crushed them inside their home was back up.

(on camera): Wow, that's a good sign. Look at that, they got it back up. How are you?

(voice-over): Folks at the VA had seen our story and sent help. Miguel was resting, and Deanna spirits were high. I'm going to keep fighting she said. And then pointed up. They put a flag on top of the tower, but just before Thanksgiving her hope turned to grief and she wept atop the flag that's on the coffin. The aftermath was just too much for him. But will he be counted as a victim of hurricane Maria? After reporting by CNN and others, sparked an official review the fatality number could jump from 63 to over 1,000.

[15:45:03] But that is just one horrible puzzle to solve here.

(on camera): How the hell did you get the contract?

(voice-over): Whitefish, the tiny company promised $300 million to help fix the grid was fired just weeks into the job. The head of the island's power authority quit amid the scandal. And now as the Army Corps of Engineers struggles through jungle terrain a third of the island remains in the dark. About 20,000 blue roof tarps have been installed. But another 50,000 are waiting. But Puerto Rico is just one of dozens of disaster zones from the Caribbean to California. Nearly 5 million Americans have filed for federal aid in just the last few months. And among those begging for help is the guy in charge of helping.

BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: I haven't even been here six months yet. And what I hope to do is inform Americans about how complex this mission is. It might be a time to sit back and say, are we in charge of too much?

WEIR: After a career as an emergency manner in Georgia and Alabama, Brock Long was tapped by President Trump right before one of the most destructive summers in American history. But he's been there long enough to say that FEMA is broke, and the system broken. Many of his 19,000 personnel have worked such long hours. They've hit a pay cap and will have to give back overtime.

(on camera): What does that do for morale? Are there people who are essentially working for free?

LONG: We've got to fix that problem. And I've been very vocal within Congress. I mean, you know, yes, it impacts morale. We cannot do this alone. Any time FEMA is the first responder and primary responder, like we were in Puerto Rico, it's never an ideal situation. But I do believe, for example, with Puerto Rico, that we kept that island from complete and total collapse.

WEIR: You think so?

LONG: I do.

WEIR (voice-over): But things are so dire there now, 10 percent of the island has evacuated to Florida. Stephanie and Victoria are among the quarter million Puerto Ricans who have fled so far. They are grateful to Miami's St. Thomas University for taking them in, but they're worried about an entire future in flux.

(on camera): Do you feel like Americans on that island? Do you feel like second class Americans?

STEPHANIE ROSANO, PUERTO RICAN WHO EVACUATED TO FLORIDA: It's like we feel we aren't a priority, you know, we aren't being taken care of we deserve to be taken on the island.

VICTORIA ROSANO, PUERTO RICAN WHO EVACUATED TO FLORIDA: And we need the help. We are really needing the help.

WEIR: So, when president Trump goes to Puerto Rico, for example, and throws paper towels to storm survivors, what sort of message does that send and how are you graded on that?

LONG: You know what, President Trump has been incredibly supportive of emergency management. At one point we were day-to-day conversations with the White House. And he is highly involved. He calls me directly. He's very engaged. His message to me is help people. And expedite the processes to do so. People are excited and asking, hey, what about me back here. He picks it up, he throws it, and the media captured it and can spin that story anyway they want, but I was in the room. He generally cares about the people in Puerto Rico, about the people in California, about the Americans in Texas and Florida as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Bill Weir thank you so much. Keep shining that spotlight on Puerto Rico.

Coming up next here, we'll talk live to a couple who arrived moments after the train derailment in Washington state, and did their very best to help the people who were trapped and injured, including one man who was actually pinned under the train. Stay with me.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Speed is believed to be a major factor in that deadly train derailment in Washington state. Investigators now say that Amtrak train making its first run on a new route from Seattle to Portland was going 80 miles an hour in a 30 mile an hour zone. The train derailed as it came to a sharp curve near that bridge over press over I-5. Several of the Amtrak train cars plunging to the interstate during the busy morning rush-hour commute. Three people died, more than 100 others were hurt. And one man who had been so eager to ride this inaugural train said the crash was, quote, like being inside an exploding bomb. He and his wife had to climb out the window of one of the train cars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEVERLY HEEBNER, TRAIN CRASH SURVIVOR: All of a sudden it was just crash and there I was down -- the train went like this.

CHARLIE HEEBNER, TRAIN CRASH SURVIVOR: After getting myself upright and my legs unfolded, I saw her legs and I reached down and I shook one. And she shook it back. I said, are you, all right? She said, I think so.

BEVERLY HEEBNER: There was this body lying there, I mean, it was -- he had -- hardly had any clothes on. The clothes had just been ripped off him and he was obviously dead.

CHARLIE HEEBNER: I think we were lucky to be getting out of here alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Gosh, how awful. Some of the first responders to that train derailment were actually just people riding along on the interstate. Several commuters rushed to rescue and comfort injured passengers' moments after that crash. Join me now, two of those good Samaritans, Daniel Konzelman, and Alicia Hoverson were driving to work together when they came upon this derailment as it happened there on that overpass. Daniel and Alicia, thank you so much for being with me. Just reading your story, you are incredible humans for doing what you did, you know, yesterday.

[15:55:00] Can you just begin with -- did you come upon -- when you were driving along I-5, had it already derailed, and you came upon it with the train cars dangling?

DANIEL KONZELMAN, HELPED RESCUE PASSENGERS FROM DERAILED TRAIN: Yes, we were headed south on I-5 and the train was actually parallel to us, probably 45 seconds before we came to the bridge where the accident happened. So, I was aware that there was a train on that track and when we came to the bridge I knew pretty much exactly what had happened when I saw the train hanging off the bridge. And sort of understood how serious it was.

BALDWIN: Whose call was it to actually pull over and run towards this disaster? ALICIA HOVERSON, HELPED RESCUE PASSENGERS FROM DERAILED TRAIN: It was

Daniel's. We just pulled to the side of the road and Daniel was like, do you want to go help, there is no one down there right now. And we, yes, let's go. So, he put on his boots, I put on a rain coat and we just started sprinting up on to the fence where we saw people.

BALDWIN: Can you tell me about the people you saw and what they were -- were they crying out "help?"

KONZELMAN: Yes, it was kind of an eerie situation. I think a lot of the people were in shock initially and not a lot of people were screaming or yelling. Everybody was sort of just --

BALDWIN: Quiet.

KONZELMAN: Quiet. Yes. And nobody -- there were no sirens at that point either. So, it was pretty quiet and eerie initially.

HOVERSON: People were more confused. Kind of walking around, didn't know what happened.

BALDWIN: So how did you -- I understand you at first were able to help some people, what, out of some of the cars through the windows. Tell me what you did.

KONZELMAN: So, initially some of the people had already gotten out of the cars. So, Alicia immediately started escorting them down to the freeway and making sure they were OK. A lot of them were freezing cold so she got them blankets. I was able to get into some of the cars and I had a flashlight with me because it was totally dark, and the people that were OK, I just left them there for the paramedics to get them out on the gurney or using ladders. And then just kept working my way through the train cars with a flashlight. By that time, there was a police officer there with us. Who was able to go through the train.

BALDWIN: Wait a second, you actually got inside the train cars? You didn't get in the dangling cars?

KONZELMAN: No, I didn't get into the one that was hanging off of the bridge that most of the news reporters have gotten footage of. I was on the other side of the tracks on the trains that went into the woods. They were propped up against a tree and I was able to kind of climb up the tree and jump across in through one of the broken windows as well as another gentleman who came with me. Then he gave -- officer T.J. Rodriguez probably five minutes later followed us in, and the three of us were able to make our way through probably four of the cars on that side and clear them out.

BALDWIN: Still incredibly dangerous nonetheless. Because you didn't know at any given point if one of the cars could, I don't know, move or broken glass. Everything. I understand, Daniel, that you actually -- did you calm someone? Did you help someone who was pinned underneath one of those cars?

KONZELMAN: Yes. It took us awhile because the accident was so large, it took us awhile to sort of figure out where the people were, but there were -- (INAUDIBLE) everybody that was inside was killed or pinned beneath that car. So, when I got to that -- those victims there wasn't a whole lot we could do because they were pinned. So, I was just able to sit with them and grabbed the gentleman's hand and just talked to him and kind of rub his back and just tried to make him as comfortable as I could in that time.

BALDWIN: Just thinking about what you would have wanted, you know, in that time and just being calm and talking to them and touching them. Alicia, what did the people tell you, those who you helped down the embankment and down to come to safety? Were they even speaking? Did they describe how this happened?

HOVERSON: Yes, there were some people -- most of the people I talked to initially were very confused and didn't know what was going on. They were asking me questions as to where they were, if their family was with them. I just got to calm them down and as there were more people coming out of the crash, there were some people entirely intact and they were helping me calm others down. I expect that each individual I was talking to was telling me a little bit about their story, where they were going. If their family was on the train. Who they were waiting for. A couple of kids who were waiting for their dad to come out of the train and that was a really hard thing to experience.

BALDWIN: How awful for these families to have to deal with this. Especially upon the holidays. Alicia and Daniel, you are incredible people. Thank you so much for jumping in and helping. I appreciate you joining me here today. Thank you all so much for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts now.