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Military.Com: U.S. Marines On Ship Drank Water Contaminated With Diesel Fuel In 2016; Pentagon Cancels Drag Show At Air Force Base; Police Believe 3 Bodies In Rubble Of Collapsed Building; Sherpa Rescues Climber From Mt. Everest "Death Zone" as Climbing Season Ends With 12 Dead. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 01, 2023 - 13:30   ET



JIM LAPORTA, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, "THE MESSENGER": I still don't understand how the Navy is concluding that this occurred. So they're admitting that it occurred.

But since 2018, they told me there's no records on it so, therefore, they can't say that it occurred. So I'm not sure if they're taking my word for it or if they found documents or talked to someone.

On the other issues, it's, yes, servicemembers have been trying to get documentation from the ship. In several instances, Marines and sailors who are now veterans have asked the ship themselves for documentation and the ship has not provided any documentation for that.

The real hero of this story is there was this Navy corpsman who was assigned to a Marine reconnaissance platoon. And he was very concerned about his Marines drinking and bathing in this contaminated water.

So when he saw an email go out that said there's fuel in the water, he decided to print that email out and slip it into the medical files for his Marines.

That's really the only document that I have. To this day, I still don't have any documents from the Navy that show that this happened.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: They are complaining about concerns about fertility. There have been concerns -- respiratory concerns. There have been concerns about rare cancer. I mean, these are very serious concerns that they have.

But also what strikes me about this, Jim, is that this is one of many stories of toxic exposure in the military.

But there seems to be a theme, whether it's on the "Boxer," whether it's this fuel leak we saw last year in Hawaii that poisoned many military families, whether it's Camp Lejeune water, whether it's burn pits, the theme is there seems to be a culture of denial that you are describing.

Why isn't that being addressed so that they don't have this expensive problem that they have with all of these cases?

LAPORTA: You're right. A trend that I picked up on from talking to these "Boxers" over the last five years is that, just mere days after this incident occurred, the leadership on the "Boxer" said, hey, this water is safe to drink. But yet there's the smell of diesel fuel across the ship.

You think about how many uses we have for water, like in our everyday lives. We use water for laundry. We use water for brushing our teeth. We use it for just drinking.

Well, that was no different on the "Boxer." It was in everything. But they're being told it's safe to drink.

Well, the Navy has admitted in other investigations of contaminations on, say, the "Nimitz." The Navy doesn't have a mechanism for testing whether or not there's fuel in the water on a naval ship.

So even though the Navy is saying to sailors of the "Boxer," hey, this is safe to think, they don't have the ability to test for that.

So I'm not sure -- I actually still don't know how the leadership on the "Boxer" came to the conclusion that the water was safe to drink.

KEILAR: Yes, it's a huge question.

It's a great report. Thank you for sharing it with us. I do encourage our viewers to check it out in its entirety at

Jim LaPorta, thanks for your time this afternoon.

LAPORTA: Thank you.

KEILAR: Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: On the schedule at an Air Force Base in Nevada today, a drag show. That is, until the Pentagon stepped in to cancel it, saying that the event meant to kick off Pride Month is not a suitable use of resources.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is live for us at the Pentagon with this story.

Natasha, what more are you learning about this decision?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Boris, so this would have been the third drag show that this Air Force base, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada would have hosted since 2021.

And it was abruptly cancelled this week when Pentagon leaders intervened and ordered that it not move forward.

Now, all of this seems to stem from a commitment that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made during a House Armed Services Committee hearing back in March that the Department of Defense does not support or fund these kinds of drag shows on military bases and installations across the country. He was grilled on this by Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, who

questioned both him and chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mark Milley, about why these drag shows were occurring on these bases in a way some conservative policymakers have argued is not appropriate.

Here is that exchange.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): At Nellis Air Force Base, you had the drag show Nellis on June 17th. Who funded these things, Mr. Secretary?

GEN. LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Listen, drag shows are not something that the Department of Defense supports or funds.

GAETZ: Why are they happening on military bases? I just showed you the evidence. Why are they happening?

AUSTIN: I will say again, this is not something that we support or fund.



BERTRAND: So this drag show would have been performed at this air base in order to mark the start of Pride Month, which, of course, begins today.

But according to Department of Defense officials, these kinds of events will not move forward in the future because they believe they are not a good use of DOD resources.

Now we should note that Secretary of Defense Austin did release a statement marking the beginning of Pride Month.

He said that, "As secretary of defense, I remain dedicated to making sure that our LGBTQ-plus personnel across the joint forces can continue to serve the country that we all love with dignity and pride this month and every other one."

He went on to thank them for their service. So Lloyd Austin here, he has expressed support for that community many times in the past.

But obviously, the Department of Defense now rethinking whether they want to allow these kinds of drag shows and related events to take place on these bases going forward -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: An interesting decision there.

Natasha Bertrand, thank you so much, from the Pentagon.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Officials are now using a drone to further assess damage to that partially collapsed apartment building in Iowa, especially as concerns grow that it could come tumbling down at any moment. We just received an update on the situation there. We'll share it.

Plus, one officer got a major surprise during a traffic stop when he saw his squad car being driven away. We'll show you what happened when CNN NEWS CENTRAL returns.



KEILAR: This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL. And here's a look at some of the top stories that we're following at this hour.

The CDC is reporting new birth rate statistics for the year 2022. Although birth rates among women in their mid-30s and 40s ticked up, the teen birth rate, which has been falling for more than three decades dropped to a record low.

The CDC says that in 2022, there were 13.5 births for every 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. That is down from 13.9 in 2021.

In Milwaukee, a man charged with stealing a police cruiser back in December is under arrest again for stealing another police cruiser.






KEILAR: That was his squad car. This happened Tuesday at a traffic stop. Police say that Daniel Barton saw that unlocked cruiser with its motor running and off he went. He was later caught hiding in a gym.

And P. Diddy is suing the company that co-produces DeLeon Tequila for racial discrimination. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Diddy said that for nearly a decade the company knee-caped sales growth on DeLeon, a premium brand that he co-owns.

He claims that one executive told him, if he were Martha Stewart, his brands would be more widespread. The liquor company denies the allegations and says that it will vigorously defend the company.


SCIUTTO: Well, the police chief in Davenport, Iowa, says it is now believed three bodies remain in the rubble you see there. This of an apartment building that partially collapsed four days ago now.

Loved ones of those still missing, including this man, Brandon Colvin, continue to demand they be found first before any further demolition of the building.

Officials also revealed an inspector has resigned over an administrative error in the labeling of the building permit. The official had visited the 100-year-old building just three days before those six floors suddenly dropped.


MAYOR MIKE MATSON (D-DAVENPORT, IA): A professional engineer in February stated the building was not in eminent collapse. The same engineer who reviewed the repair work that needed to be done in May and did not come to the conclusion that the building had to be evacuated.


SCIUTTO: CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Davenport.

Adrienne, a big question here, why did it take so long to search that rubble for these three people who were missing? Their loved ones understandably upset.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Jim, there are so many questions and we received answers from the mayor of the city in the last 30 minutes or so.

One of the main questions, the timeline. The mayor says they are still working on the timeline and trying to determine the best and safest way to demolish the building.

Listen to what he said about that.


MATSON: Do I have regrets about this tragedy and about people potentially losing their lives? Hell, yes. Do I think about this every moment? Hell, yes!

I apologize for me getting a little wordy here. Any tragedy of any sort particular to this city that I'm in charge of -- and believe me, this is on -- this is on me. And there are people that are talking about other people.

It's me. You talk to me. And some are. And I'll take that. And I'm going to stand here and continue to take that.


BROADDUS: So that was the city's mayor speaking. He was responding to a question I asked. My question was, do you have any regrets? That was his response.

He also said they're reaching out to experts to determine the best way to take the building down that symbolizes dignity.

Because, again, there are now three people still missing. Earlier in the day, we were telling you five. We learned at least two people have been accounted for. One in Texas, another locally.


But also believed to be under the rubble here is Brandon Colvin. He's the father of an 18-year-old who's supposed to graduate on Saturday. His 18-year-old son has been sleeping on the pavement every night since this collapse, Jim, just behind me.

SCIUTTO: That's got to be agonizing for them. It is good news that some of the missing have been accounted for elsewhere and safe.

Adrienne Broaddus, in Davenport, thanks so much.


SANCHEZ: An incredible rescue at 29,000 feet. How this man carried a climber on his back down from the Mount Everest's Death Zone.

And later, how the drug Ozempic may have an additional hidden benefit.

CNN NEWS CENTRAL returns in just moments.



SANCHEZ: The 2023 spring climbing season on Mount Everest has been one of the deadliest in years. It ends with 12 people dead and five still missing.

Now climbers know that there are serious risks associated with reaching the summit. When things go wrong, they usually do not end like this.

One man narrowly survived, thanks to an amazing rescue. Last month, and a Nepali sherpa guide hauled him down from what's known as Everest's "Death Zone." That gray thing you see on the sherpa's back, that is the man.

The guy who was assigned to another climber when he spotted him in distress, clinging to a rope and shivering. Keep in mind, temperatures in the area can drop to -86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The sherpa carried him down nearly 2,000 feet. The helicopter then took the climber to base camp. The rescue, in total, took about six hours.


GELJE SHERPA, NEPALI SHERPA WHO RESCUED MALAYSIAN CLIMBER (through translation): It was important for us to rescue him, even from the summit. Money can be earned anytime. Left like that, he could have died. It saved his life by quitting the summit.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: We want perspective from someone who has been there. Conrad Anker is a professional mountain climber that has climbed Mount Everest three times. He actually lost his best friend to the extreme sport. Their story is featured in the documentary, "Torn."

Conrad, thank you so much for sharing part of your afternoon with us.

I am really curious about this Death Zone. What is it like up there?


Yes, the Death Zone is defined as altitude above 8,000 meters or 27,000 feet. At this elevation, the body is on very short notice.

SANCHEZ: Conrad, can you hear me?

ANKER: I can hear you.


SANCHEZ: So yes, it seemed like we had a quick glitch there.

You're saying the body is on short notice. What does that mean?

ANKER: When you are in the Death Zone, your body is in the state of necrosis. You are dying. We are not meant to function there.

You can get out of the elevation quickly, if you know how to climb, you have the experience, you have a tremendous amount of oxygen.

But as soon as you stop moving, the clock is ticking. A lot of the people that parish are on the summit, dying of exhaustion. They just don't have it in them anymore. They become a liability to the other climbers with them.

SANCHEZ: That makes what this sherpa did even more amazing. He climbed something like 1,900 feet for six hours with a human being strapped to his back.

Talk to us about the challenges that he faced, not just the physical, but the mental ones as well.

ANKER: Yes, Gelje Sherpa is the man, along with his teammates, that effected this rescue. He turned back his own expedition to rescue this man.

So, one, you are carrying live weight. So it is very heavy. It requires a lot of coordination and skill to not trip over yourself as you descend down.

So the benefit of having a helicopter there brings -- a helicopter makes access easier. But that's also part of the downfall is that these helicopters brought some more people to the mountain.

SANCHEZ: As we are watching this video, I am amazed that the gentleman survived. This sherpa clearly knows what he is doing.

It fascinates me, the drive that folks like you have for these altitudes. You have had several close calls. In 1999, you were buried in an avalanche. As we noted before, you lost one of your best friends.

You also suffered cardiac arrest at one point when you were on the Himalayas. You are lucky to be alive. And yet, you continue climbing.

What is it that leads you to pursuing this?

ANKER: I don't know. That is the big question.


It my -- it's where I am happiest. I get a chance to challenge myself in a really natural setting. The connection I have with other people that we're working toward a mutual, identifiable goal. One that is sort of intrinsic in nature.

But we have to trust each other 100 percent. In that dynamic, how I interact with people, it makes it all worthwhile. It is made extra painful because it is a very dangerous pursuit, as this Everest season shows.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it is an incredible endeavor.

We are grateful to you for sharing, not only your experiences up there, but the perspective that you have of why you pursue it.

Conrad Anker, thank you so much for your time.

ANKER: Yes, appreciate your time.

SANCHEZ: Of course.


KEILAR: Well, it is all up to 100 Senators now. The debt ceiling bill in their hands, as well as the health of our economy. So how soon could it be on the president's desk with only four days left before a default?