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Missing Helicopter Found, Fate Of 5 Marines Onboard Unclear; Report: China's Hackers In Some U.S. Networks For At Least 5 Years; NTSB: Key Bolts Missing From Door Plug That Blew Off Alaska Air Jet; Sen. Sinema Speaks Ahead Of Doomed Border Bill Vote; ESPN, FOX & Warner Bros. Discovery To Launch Sports Steamer. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 13:30   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: This just in. Rescuers have located a military helicopter that went missing overnight but no word yet on what has happened to the five Marines who were onboard the helicopter.

The Third Marine Aircraft Wing posted online the aircraft was located in Pine Valley, California, earlier today.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: That's right. These Marines were flying in a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter when it was reported, quote, "overdue."

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is covering the story from the Pentagon.

Natasha, what can you tell us about the search here?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Brianna, the search had been centered around a very remote, snow-covered area of Cleveland National Forest, which is outside of San Diego.

And according to the Marines now, they have located that helicopter really in the vicinity of that area in Pine Valley, California.

But the question now is, what is the fate of the five Marines who were onboard? The Marine Corps has not said yet. They said search-and- rescue operations are still underway to find those Marines. And the condition of the helicopter was also not immediately disclosed here.

But the bottom line is that this helicopter apparently was flying from Nevada to California and it was on a training mission when it disappeared late last night.

Apparently, the last ping from the helicopter came in around 11:30 p.m. And then the California Fire Department was notified of this around 2:30 a.m.

They tried to go out to the scene, to try to figure out where the helicopter had potentially landed, but the conditions -- the weather conditions were simply too bad so they had to call off the search late last night.

They resumed that search early this morning. But it now appears that they have been able to locate that helicopter.

It's important to note this particular model of helicopter has been involved in about three different incidents over the last decade or so, including one in 2018 where it crashed again in California and killed all four Marines onboard at the time.

So right now, we still don't know what the fate of those five Marines are. They are continuing search-and-rescue operations. And the Marine Corps said they will continue to update us as information becomes available.

KEILAR: All right, Natasha, we know you will stay on that. Thank you so much for the latest there.

First on CNN, the systems that provide Americans the essentials of modern life, water and power, have been under attack by Chinese hackers for much longer than previously thought.

A new report reveals infiltrators directed by China's government have been accessing some U.S. infrastructure computer networks for at least five years.

DEAN: This revelation adds to the urgent message the FBI director sent Congress last week.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: China's hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc.


DEAN: CNN cybersecurity reporter, Sean Lyngaas, broke this story.

Sean, we learned a lot about China's access when the FBI director testified last week on the Hill. Tell us about what you found.

SEAN LYNGAAS, CNN CYBERSECURITY REPORTER: That's right. This report really shows us that the hackers were in the systems a lot longer than we previously knew.

They are kind of burrowing their way in. And at least five years ago, they started probing the computer networks of things like water treatment plants, energy plants.

And what they are looking for is a way to get from the more public I.T. systems that are out there to the sensitive computer networks that interact with machinery and keep the lights on and that kind of thing.

It is very much a long game that they are playing. And this report that CNN obtained that is out publicly really outlines the cat-and- mouse game that is going on with the U.S. government and with the Chinese hackers in critical infrastructure.

They've tried to evict them. They've come back. It's really an ongoing thing.

And it's all in the context of the U.S.-China relationship over Taiwan. For a long time, U.S. officials were warning us about Russian hackers that were doing something similar.

But now with the geopolitical landscape changing a bit with these sorts of unprecedented tensions in the U.S.-China relationship, we are seeing how cyber operations has come to the fore and how China projects power and how the U.S. is trying to call that out.


Now we should add that the Chinese embassy has denied these allegations and, in turn, as they often do, point their finger at the U.S. for conducting cyberattacks.

KEILAR: U.S. cyber officials have talked a little bit about what this could look like. But just worst-case scenario, I mean, if China infiltrates these systems, what kind of attack could they pull off and how would that affect the day-to-day life of Americans?

LYNGAAS: Well, that's a great question. And what we are seeing from the public reporting and from officials I talk to is it could -- it's a hypothetical, right?

But it's in the event of, say China invades Taiwan and the U.S. military wants to mobilize resources from Guam in the Pacific or some other U.S. territory, the transportation hubs and nodes there, those computer networks that run those things could get hit.

It could be an effort to delay and slow and confuse people in the U.S. while, half a world away, China is invading Taiwan.

It is a scenario but it's an increasingly likely scenario given where we are in the global landscape, unfortunately.

DEAN: It's very unnerving.

All right, Sean Lyngaas, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Prince William makes his first public appearance since the announcement of his father King Charle's cancer diagnosis. What we are learning about the prince's return to his royal engagements.

Plus, the big news for sports fans out there. A new streaming service is set to launch this fall, and it may have very big implications for how we watch everything from football to hockey.

Stay with us.


[13:41:01] DEAN: The NTSB says it's still not clear why four critical bolts were missing from the Boeing 737 Max-9 that lost its door plug midflight. The Alaska Airlines jet was at 16,000 feet when the blowout happened.

And now a preliminary report says it appears the bolts that hold the door plug in place were originally installed but then removed.

KEILAR: Which is incredibly alarming, especially if you consider it could happen again.

We have CNN aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean, here with us on the NTSB findings and what Boeing is also saying.

This report is preliminary but, as I mentioned, there's a -- it's kind of alarming that this could happen again because you have the chair of the NTSB raising that specter.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is a bombshell really from the NTSB. Essentially, this investigation has focused on the door plug bolts from the start.

There were four bolts, like this one here, that are in the side of the fuselage of the Max-9. They hold the door plug into the airplane.

There are two at the top of the door plug and two at the bottom. Both Alaska and United Airlines said they found planes in their fleets with loose bolts. But now the NTSB says Alaska flight 1282 was missing all four bolts.

How were they able to tell? Investigators recovered the door from a backyard in Portland and brought it to a lab in D.C. for inspection. The NTSB saw damage patterns that show the door plug move up and out.

They also noticed a lack of damage around the bolt holes, meaning that the bolts were not there.

Here is the smoking gun from the NTSB report. It says, "The four bolts that prevent upward movement of the door plug were missing before the door plug moved."

One more amazing detail here. The NTSB says the plane flew for two months without the door plug bolts.

Meaning it was essentially a ticking time bomb with a fuse set last September at Boeing's factory when the plane was still being built. Boeing removed the door plug to do repair work on some nearby rivets.

This was the photo taken when the work was completed. And the NTSB says it shows the door was put back but the bolts were not.

Here is what NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said on CNN this morning.


JENNIFER HOMENDY, NTSB CHAIR: There is no way that this plane should've been delivered with four safety critical bolts missing. There's a problem in the process. We are digging in. We are not just digging into what's going on at Boeing but we are also digging into FAA's oversight of Boeing as well.


MUNTEAN: This only poured gas on the FAA's and Boeing's quality control. The head of the FAA told Congress yesterday that it now has two dozen inspectors at the 737 factory.

No finding of blame or probable cause yet. That will come out in the NTSB's final report.

Right now, Boeing's CEO Dave Calhoun says, whatever the final report says, Boeing is accountable for what happened. He says an event like this must not happen on an airplane that leaves our factory.

DEAN: Well, that's certainly true.

This final report you are talking about, right, could take a year to get?

MUNTEAN: Yes, 12 to 18 months.

DEAN: So what more could we learn once that comes out and what else could they dig into? But also have they gotten to what they need to get to, to make sure everyone is safe now?

MUNTEAN: Right now, the planes have been inspected by airlines themselves after this 19-day emergency on grounding ended.

The thing that will come out in the final report is who was responsible for putting the bolts back after the door plug was taken out at the Boeing factory back on September 1st, 2023.

It's still sort of unclear. And that is not in the preliminary report. Was it the responsibility of Boeing or was it the responsibility of Spirit AeroSystems, the contractor that builds the fuselage of the plane, which was called back to do some of that work?

KEILAR: Pete, thank you so much for that.

Let's go straight to Capitol Hill where Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is on the floor ahead of this border bill vote where it is expected to fail.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ): -- to solve the nightmare my state has lived for over 40 years. So I got to work.

My Republican colleagues chose Senator James Langford, my partner on the Homeland Security Border Management Subcommittee. We have worked together for over five years on strong border policy.

Senator Langford has joined me at the Arizona border to see the crisis firsthand. Senator Langford is an incredibly smart, earnest, conservative

lawmaker. I know he was chosen by his conference because of his expertise and knowledge of border security policy and his reputation as a serious, conservative lawmaker who cares deeply about getting policy right.

As we started the negotiations, Senator Langford laid out four policy pillars the Republican conference needed to secure the border.

Number one, asylum. Raise the asylum standard and close the loopholes. so cartels and economic migrants can no longer exploit the system.

Number two, safe third country. Ensure people who live safely in another country don't backlog our system because they do not qualify for asylum.

Number three, close the border. Create a Title 42-like authority to shut down the border when our system is backlogged and overwhelmed.

Number four, parole. Stop the administration from giving migrants at the border a free pass into our country.

Over the course of nearly five months, we worked every single day, navigating intricate and difficult policy decisions to meet these four pillars.

And when we hit bumps, I reminded everyone at the table about what was happening on the ground at my border, what real life looks like in Arizona.

Because I knew that those four key pillars were necessary to secure the border and solve the crisis.


KEILAR: You are hearing Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema there, one of the negotiators in this bipartisan compromise that we are expecting a key procedural vote on in the next hour, where we are expecting it ultimately to fail,

This coming after former President Trump expressed his dismay about this bill.

And she is clearly very frustrated as she is speaking there on the Hill ahead of the vote. We will be monitoring what she is saying and we will bring you the vote ahead as well.

We will be right back.



KEILAR: A seismic move. Three of the biggest companies in sports broadcasting are teaming up to create a streaming sports service. ESPN, FOX and Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of CNN, are planning to launch their new platform in the fall.

DEAN: It doesn't have a name or price yet, but it does have practically every sporting event under the sun, NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, FIFA World Cup game, NASCAR, more.

Joining us is Andrew Marchand, who is sports media columnist for "The Athletic."

Andrew, it's great to see you.

Is it surprising that all of this would come together like this?

ANDREW MARCHAND, SENIOR SPORTS MEDIA COLUMNIST, "THE ATHLETIC": A little bit. When you look at what's happening in the media space, we are seeing a lot of big companies try to partner, especially to compete with tech.

But these are three of the giants in the sports industry with ESPN, TNT and FOX. You mentioned the events that they had.

So it is a little bit of a surprise to see these three, because they are not frenemies but they're rivals.

But when you are trying to compete with tech, you are trying to figure out the future, you work with the people that can help you get there if you team up.

KEILAR: How is this going to change the viewer experience, Andrew?

MARCHAND: You point out they do have a lot of great events. The baseball playoffs, the NBA playoffs, football, Monday Night Football, the Super Bowl.

The issue is they don't have everything. For example, this Sunday, the Super Bowl is on CBS. If you had this great sports arrangement, you still wouldn't get the Super Bowl.

That is on broadcast TV. There are ways to get it. You could also get Paramount Plus if you wanted to get CBS that way. So that is one issue.

Another issue is March Madness. It's on Turner and Warner Bros. Sports. But some of the games are on CBS.

Another example, where if you have the service, you wouldn't get everything, which is really the problem for the sports fan trying to figure out how to see their games and the teams that they want.

DEAN: That's it, right? In an ironic way we are reverting back to traditional cable where you bundle a bunch of things together.

So the question becomes, is this a win for the providers that put this deal together, for the fan? Bob Iger, the head of Disney, is saying that it's good for both.

MARCHAND: It is, maybe. We have to see where it goes. In the near term, I'm not sure if it's such a win for fans for two reasons.


Number one, we don't know the price yet. It's probably going to be in the $40-$50 range, because it will be mirrored after what these networks get in their cable deals.

So the price point is going to be pretty high. It's going to be between what a regional sports network gets, which is in the $30 range for your local teams.

Let's say you are in New York and want to watch the Yankees. The local teams direct to consumer are about $30, and something like YouTube, which is $72. So it's going to be in that sweet spot in the middle.

So it could be a win. But the bigger question is where it goes from here and what it leads to.

DEAN: Well, we shall see.

Andrew Marchand, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

MARCHAND: Thank you.

DEAN: And stay with CNN NEWS CENTRAL. We are just minutes away from a showdown on the Senate floor and a key vote on the bipartisan border bill.

Right now, you're watching Arizona Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Kyrsten Sinema, one of the chief negotiators of that bill, give quite a speech on the floor.

We will be right back.