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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  January 19, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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thanks so much. great discussion. thank you, guys. have a good one. and that is up for me or that is it for me, i should say. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. a wanted man who could explain the madness behind the paris attacks. he is already in a french interrogation room. what is he saying? i'm jake tapper. this is "the lead." the world lead. they found his dna in a terrorist's car, the one that dropped amedy coulibaly off at that kosher supermarket so he could kill jews. now the public may not know his name but french officials already have him in custody. could he be the key to stopping the next wave of terrorist attacks? kim jong-un called that recent stoner movie an act of war but the nsa may have fired the first shot in a digital war against north korea. back in 2010. plus investigators finally listening to airasia 8501's
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final moments before it lost contact. what they're learning from the pilots' final words. was it terrorism or something else? what was it? good afternoon. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we will begin today with our world lead. the counterterrorist dragnet tightening across europe with at least one possibly key suspect in custody. as security forces round up more suspects in belgium, for instance authorities making five more arrests. greek forces collaring four men, including an algerian now on his way to law enforcement in belgium. european streets remain dotted with military personnel over heightened concerns that as many as 20 sleeper cells could possibly be putting their terrorist plans into motion at any moment. this is all happening as french police get what could be a major break in this investigation. one of two men whose dna ties them to the terrorist who shot up that kosher supermarket is
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already in paris police custody today. today, a source familiar with the paris investigation says a man whose dna puts him in the same car, the one coulibaly used to get to the supermarket scene, is one of the nine suspected terrorists snagged in earlier police raids. now, it remains unclear if this still unidentified man drove coulibaly to that kosher supermarket, where he took hostages and killed four innocent men before french police ultimately took him down. french police also hunting for yet another suspect whose dna was found on coulibaly's gun magazine. all this as it's becoming increasingly clear that french intelligence failed to connect the dots and that could have helped them prevent this attack. let's begin right now with cnn justice correspondent pamela brown, who is live in paris. pamela these nine people held in custody, including the one whose dna links him to coulibaly, french police have until tomorrow to charge them one way or the other. is there any indication from paris officials what they might do?
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>> reporter: well if the suspects are charged, jake then they will have to appear in front of a judge likely tomorrow so at that point, we could find out who the suspects are. those that are not charged, we will not find out who they are. they are still looking at that 96-hour window of questioning. all of that as we learn about a series of missteps among french intelligence agencies leading up to the paris attacks. french authorities are focused on two people whose dna links them to amedy coulibaly. dna found on an ammunition magazine of his, and inside the car thought to have taken coulibaly to the supermarket where he killed four people. a source close to the investigation says one of them is already among the nine in custody in paris. his dna was found in that car. tonight, authorities are continuing to search for coulibaly's partner, hayat boumeddiene. but she is thought to be far away on the run in syria. >> this is obviously a larger
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cell cell. we have today mainly more than 4,000 european union citizens or residents involved in the jihad in syria and iraq. >> reporter: a series of communication lapses and delays by french intelligence agencies are shedding new light on why the kouachi brothers may have fallen off their radar. authorities began monitoring the brothers in 2011 but not their computers which sources tell cnn contain several videos and sermons of the american al qaeda cleric anwar al awlaki. then in february 2014 one french agency received an alert about one of the kouachi brothers' phones but didn't pass on the details to france's main domestic spy agency until four months later, when both brothers had already been taken off surveillance. >> there's no question that i think the failure to be able to
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have prevented the attack that took place in paris was an intelligence failure. >> reporter: in an exclusive interview with cnn, former cia head leon panetta said europe needs to be more aggressive with counterterrorism operations. >> the problem is in dealing with those in the various european areas where there is frankly less aggressiveness at going after these individuals when they return. >> reporter: as security is being beefed up across europe here in paris police are guarding potential targets like this news station behind me and jewish sites. in belgium, soldiers are patrolling the streets there for the first time in 30 years. tonight, belgian authorities are waiting for a 33-year-old algerian man arrested sunday in greece to be extradited in connection to the foiled plot by isis foreign fighters who allegedly wanted to murder police officers in belgium. several suspects believed to be linked to the terrorist cell are
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in custody, but a senior belgian counterterrorism official tells cnn the group's ringleader who is considered a key isis operative is still on the run. today in belgium, eu foreign ministers met today to discuss counterterrorism strategies. among them better information and intelligence sharing among eu countries and strengthening ties with muslim countries. jake? >> pamela brown in paris, thanks so much. let's go to phil black, live in brussels belgium. phil as pamela reported belgian police are waiting for this 33-year-old algerian suspect to be extradited from greece to get to belgium. they also have a man in custody, police believe he was the third person in that dramatic raid last week the only one who survived. cnn spoke to his lawyer today. what does he have to say about his client? >> reporter: well just an unfortunate coincidence.
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that's how he explains his presence at that property at the time it was raided by police and you're right, it was a dramatic raid. two suspects were killed there. but he says he was not involved in international terrorism. he was there at that time because he was doing a favor for his mom. he says his mom had asked him to drop off a pair of nike running shoes to one of the men who was subsequently killed during the police raid. he says he was there when suddenly the police arrived. he said the police started shooting first and he was shocked to see these other two men pick up weapons and return fire. he says he had no idea they were involved in terrorism. he didn't really know them. he escaped by jumping out a window. that was when he was arrested. he's 25 years old, lives in brussels. he works as a security guard. his lawyer says he never had any trouble with the law, has no interest in extremist islam and has never been to syria or anything like that. but despite that he remains in
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custody tonight and along with four other belgian nationals, he has been charged with plotting this very serious terror attack the authorities say, targeting police officers on the streets of belgium. jake? >> phil black in belgium, thank you so much. i want to bring in republican congressman mike turner a member of the house intelligence committee. he joins me on the phone right now. congressman, thanks for joining us. why did french intelligence do you think, fail to translate this intelligence into an operation to stop these terrorists? what was the breakdown? >> i think certainly we don't know at this point. there certainly is a reluctance at times to take action while you're trying to balance the critical information you're receiving of those who might be involved in terrorism with people's individual rights and also not taking action too soon. but at the same time you have to balance coordination of this. that's what certainly the 9/11 commission said after we did the investigation of what had occurred here in the united states. you also have to make certain
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you have the cross-collaboration of your own intelligence and policing forces so that you have the most critical information to be able to take action. >> what it sounds like from various reports is that french intelligence following the kouachi brothers determined that they had turned to basic crime, counterfeiting and kind of just decided to stop following him given that they didn't think they were involved in islamic extremism. it turns out at least according to some reports that that counterfeiting was specifically to fund the terrorist attack. how can intelligence officials, how can law enforcement tell such a thing? >> that's one of those things i think are cross-jurisdictional also. when you have someone who is involved in any criminal activity and at the same time that you have enough information that indicates that they could be a terrorism threat you certainly want to put that at the top of your list and take action on any criminal activity because they certainly can hold them accountable, even prosecute them for crimes unrelated to terrorism even if your
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underlying concern brought them first to your attention based upon the terrorist threat. >> congressman, one of the things we've heard is they simply do not have in france enough members of the law enforcement and counterterrorism community to monitor all of the hundreds of people who went from france or other parts of europe into syria, fought alongside al qaeda, the al nusra front, or isis and came back. do we in the united states have enough people in law enforcement and counterterrorism to follow all of the people coming back from the battlefield in iraq and syria? >> we are certainly ahead of the curve here. we certainly have dedicated a significant amount of resources but you bring up a very good point here and that is the coordination of resources through all of western nations. these terrorist organizations coordinate and communicate and coordinate their resources and their deployment without reference to any international lines. and our ability to work with the french to work with our nato partners and to work with our
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own intelligence agencies and security forces is really critical. i think this gives us an opportunity with what's happened in europe to re-evaluate how we do that coordination. many times there's information, for example, that the eu has. we are members of the eu. that is not shared with nato or the united states because we're not members. i think this is an opportunity for us to revisit how do we all make certain we have the most actionable information to lessen the threat. >> congressman, we have seen people rally in solidarity with paris, of course but we have also seen in the last few days protests against "charlie hebdo" depicting muhammed on its cover, inside its pages, including today in chechnyia, yesterday in niger where there was loss of life yesterday in pakistan. what do you take from these scenes? >> you know i think this is in sharp contrast to today's celebration of the legacy of martin luther king where we celebrate his legacy of tolerance and peace.
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as to the issue of content and objections and protests we also have to look very closely at what we are dealing with is islamic terrorism. that terrorism which will kill someone over their opinion or their statements or their beliefs or their freedom of expression just cannot be tolerated and must be actioned. >> congressman mike turner republican from ohio member of the house intelligence committee, thank you for your time. appreciate it. police killed two terrorists and arrested one at this house in belgium last week but what about the man behind the operation? the hunt for the ringleader. that's heating up. are police any closer to finding him? discover card. hey! so i'm looking at my bill and my fico® credit score's on here. we give you your fico® score each month for free! awesomesauce! wow! the only person i know that says that is...lisa? julie?!
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officials say they are ready to evacuate the american embassy in sanaa, yemen at a moment's notice. nine people were killed today and more than 60 wounded in violent clashes between yemeni government forces and iran-backed shiite rebels accused of trying to stage a coups. the growing instability could create an even larger safe haven for al qaeda in yemen which claimed responsibility for the "charlie hebdo" slaughter in france. let's go to cnn senior international correspondent nick paton-walsh. how stable is the cease-fire and what caused this latest round of fighting? >> reporter: for now, the cease-fire is holding but what's absolutely key are the talks going on behind closed doors, and the hope that tomorrow somehow the sides who were on the streets slugging it out in an artillery duel frankly, will now find some sort of negotiable
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compromise at the table which means they can remove themselves from positions they currently occupy that's the houthis. it all started really jake because the chief of staff was abducted 48 hours ago by the houthis. that made some officials concerned they could be next on the houthis list. they put in security measures. the houthis didn't like the closure of some of the roads the presidential guard closed. clashes started, no one knows who began them but that led to the artillery duel i was talking about over the presidential administration. a bid for a cease-fire but frankly, as the p.m. left those talks of a cease-fire he was attacked. it all seemed very precarious but now dark has fallen and we have an eerie quiet occasionally
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punctuated. it may hold but all rests on those talks happening right now. >> the u.s. has helicopters standing by in case they need to evacuate the u.s. embassy there. is it really that unstable that the u.s. might have to evacuate the embassy? >> reporter: i think post-benghazi the u.s. obviously are very cautious and have everything in place in the event this does spiral out of control. i have to say i was at the embassy about seven, eight hours ago. they were pretty calm. they said their numbers hadn't really been decreased because of the situation here and even their konsconsular services were open. the problem is the physical process is extraordinarily tenuous. so many different groups want to get their way out of this particular compromise and if it begins to falter or fail there are also a lot of not particularly well command and controlled military on the streets. the question is if the table talks do generate does
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everybody go home. that's a big question. every day this country slips into chaos is a better day for al qaeda and the guys behind the attacks on "charlie hebdo." >> thank you nick. please stay safe. boko haram kidnapped 80 hostages over the weekend in northern cameroon but word today that 24 of them have been rescued. that still of course means 56 remain in the hands of the vile terrorist group. many captured were women or children. there are renewed concerns the islamic organization is expanding its reach. cnn international correspondent diana magnay is live in johannesburg with all the latest. what details do we have on the operation that freed some of the hostages? >> reporter: we know this was the largest kidnapping that boko haram has conducted on cameroonian territory. it's done plenty of cross-border raids before but since the beginning of january, it's really upped the tempo, targeting military installations
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and this time targeting two villages and taking 80 people hostage. cameroon has 7,000 troops up in the far north precisely because of the threat boko haram poses. one of the battalions the mobile intervention battalion, clearly gave chase to the boko haram militants as they fled back towards the border and managed at some point to secure the release of 24 of those hostages but as you say, 56 are presumably still in the hands of boko haram somewhere in that border region where boko haram has holed itself up where nigeria, niger, chad and cameroon all meet and also on the islands of lake chad. >> what do we know about these 56 many of them women and children still being held captive? is boko haram making a demand for ransom? do we know anything about their status? >> reporter: well boko haram certainly hasn't said anything yet, as is their want.
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look back at the kidnapped girls, we have heard little about their fate. there was discussion about some kind of cease-fire in negotiations with the government about setting them free. that was clearly scoffed at by the head of boko haram, who then said most of them had been married off. this spate of kidnappings continued. that was last april. it's gone on all the way through. so the most that we can expect is that the girls presumably some have been married off, possibly some of the boys have been forcibly recruited to help in boko haram's growing insurgency an insurgency that really is gathering pace across borders now, not just in the northeast of nigeria but beyond that. that is why the government has now committed some 2,000 troops to help cameroon in its efforts to fight boko haram and that is an effort that really the international community is trying to broaden out so that it's not just cameroon and chad joining forces but that all the
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regional powers actually manage to get together and bring a more coordinated multi-national joint task force to the problem of combatting boko haram. >> something needs to be done more than 1300 killed by boko haram since 2009. diana magnay thank you so much. coming up on "the lead" investigators across the globe working to untangle the jihadist web that struck in paris and was hours away from attacking in belgium. we are just now learning some new information about that terrorist network and we will bring you that breaking news, those developments, next. ♪♪ is it the insightful strategies and analytical capabilities that make edward jones one of the biggest financial services firms in the country? or is it 13,000 financial advisors who take the time to say thank you? 'night jim. gonna be a while? i am liz got a little writing to do. ♪♪ it's why edward jones is the big company
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welcome back to "the lead." we have breaking news to share with you in our world lead. the combined police forces of an entire continent are focused on finding one man, the alleged ringleader behind the foiled belgian terrorist plot to kidnap and kill police in that country. let's go right to cnn terror analyst paul cruickshank. paul there has been a lot of attention on this guy caught in greece who is now being extradited to belgium. what can you tell us about him? is he the ringleader?
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>> jake i was just speaking to a senior belgian counterterrorism official. the guy that's being extradited an algerian towards belgium, is not the guy that they suspect is a key ringleader in the plot. but they haven't completely discounted the possibility he also played a significant role in this plot. they want to find out a lot more about this guy, the role that he plays. he may have had a connection to the belgian morroccan operative they suspect was the key ringleader in this plot. he remains at large, still a threat. he's believed to have connections back to the isis leadership in syria. the belgians are increasingly sure that the senior leadership of isis signed off on this plot jake. >> i also want to bring in cnn counterterrorism analyst phil mudd.
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phil i want to ask you about french intelligence today. it seems as though some clear signals were missed. they got a tip but it took them four months for them to share it with other law enforcement officials in the french government and in that time the kouachis effectively disappeared. what explains the kind of lapse, are they just overworked too few law enforcement and counterterrorism officials and too many people to track? >> that would be my initial reaction. there are some key questions here. you mentioned one, the gap between acquiring information from one agency and passing it to another. one of the big questions i have we have seen multiple reports about travel through oman to either yemen or iraq back in 2011. how you miss travel on a target like this is a significant question in a security service. we are missing a huge piece of the puzzle and that's what we'll find in the investigation. that is you're triageing in the security service every day. say you have several hundred
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targets, more targets coming in every day from yemen or iraq. when those targets come in you have to have some come off the table. here's the question. what else was on the table that led them to drop surveillance on this target and is that one of the explanations for why this target was missed over time. >> how long do you think intelligence agencies should monitor someone when they first get a credible tip? >> that is -- i hate to tell you, that is a terrific question. here's the problem. when you're talking about travel to either yemen, iraq out to a war zone in 2011 and we are now in 2015 you do not follow targets for three or four or five years. i just didn't witness that. if someone's going over there for training they are going to come back and typically act. i mentioned before triaging. if they don't act, say a year passes two years pass three years pass an operations manager is going to say how many resources are we going to spend on somebody when we don't have information that suggests they are going to stage an operation.
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what about the guy who came in last month from syria or iraq or yemen. to me that's one of the fascinating aspects of this. what were these operatives waiting for. why didn't they operate. i suspect one of the things the investigation will show is that investigators said we can't follow these guys around forever, if we're not certain they are up to something. >> paul cruickshank, the estimated number of foreign fighters who have returned from iraq and syria to france is roughly 500. how can they even prioritize targets in a pool that big? >> it's about 200 to france more than 500 for the whole of the european union. you're right, it's very very difficult to prioritize to figure out who you're going to watch and it's really as phil was saying more of an art than a science. often the information is very fragmentary indeed. in belgium we have just seen a very significant counterterrorism operation, the thwarting of what belgians now believe was a major ambitious terrorist attack possibly
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against a sensitive target in belgium. it was a big counterterrorism success from the belgians. but that's telling me just in the last few minutes, there are concerns there's still a danger out there in belgium that some of these cell members are still at large. they haven't got the whole cell yet. while they have disrupted the main thrust of the plot they believe that others may have access to weapons and may try to launch an attack for the death of their comrades in the operation you see on the screen in verviers last week. >> given that news paul just said about the fear this belgian cell that was raided has connection to other terrorist cells throughout europe what steps would counterintelligence -- sorry, counterterrorism officials in europe be taking right now that they weren't already taking? >> boy, the first is the intense interrogation of the people in custody because they know the answer to a couple of questions. let me give you the two i would ask. neither of which have anything to do with what just happened in paris and belgium. first, are there any other
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imminent attacks. speak now. the second this is the piece that will take months to sort of investigate, who else is out there. terrorism in my world was not a game of threats or of locations that might be targeted. it was a game of people. any interrogation of a subject is going to include the preliminary question not of what just happened but of who else is out there, what are their names, where are their travel routes who else have they connected with in terms of acquiring weapons, explosives, money, so that i can go out and find them. i want to interrogate those guys immediately about other people. i suspect when you're seeing other raids across europe the same questions are being asked of everybody who is being brought in by services in places like germany, spain, italy, et cetera. >> thank you both so much. in other world news just how did president obama know for certain that north korea was behind the recent sony hack? according to the "new york times" the u.s. has been spying on north korea's computer networks for years. how do they do it? that's next. ♪♪ nineteen years ago, we thought
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welcome back to "the lead." in our money lead it's going to be a showdown tomorrow night. president obama giving his first state of the union before house and senate both in republican control and the president is already getting pushback from the gop on his proposals to cut taxes for the middle class to be paid for by tax increases on the wealthy. here are some of the ideas to be laid out in tomorrow's state of the union address. a $500 credit for married couples, increasing child care credit to $3,000. white house correspondent jim acosta joins me now. just to be frank, do any of these tax cuts or tax increases have any chance of becoming law? >> reporter: i don't think so at
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this point unless there is some hope for a grand bargain to resurrect itself over the next couple of months. i think it is doubtful. as you know republicans are calling the president's tax plan a non-starter at this point but white house officials are responding by saying some of these ideas had gop support in the past and the proposals are a starting point in the negotiation. we have to watch for that. but stay tuned, even though the white house has already shared much of what will be in the president's state of the union address over the last couple of weeks, a senior official told me today there are some surprises in store so a teaser there. the white house says the theme of the president's speech will be middle class economics. the address will be filled with pitches from the president for all of the tax breaks you mentioned for middle income earners. those credits plus the free community college idea mr. obama has already talked about, we showed this up on screen they add up to over $200 billion. the president would pay for that with new taxes on the rich and fees on big banks that come to more than $300 billion. jake we did learn one other thing today about the president's state of the union
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message. the white house announced that alan gross, the american who was freed from a cuban prison as part of that deal to normalize relations between the two countries, he will be in the first lady's box as the president defends his position on cuba as well. >> cnn will have special coverage of president obama's state of the union address beginning at 7:00 eastern tomorrow night. more world news now. we learned today why president obama seemed so sure of himself when he blamed north korea for the sony hack. it turns out that the national security agency has been tapping into north korea's computer network since 2010. cybersecurity experts wonder just how the u.s. government could be so sure and so quickly that north korea was behind the hack on sony entertainment computers. now we know. all of this of course first reported by the "new york times." pentagon correspondent barbara starr has been digging into this story today. what have you learned? >> reporter: well jake the "new york times" has laid out quite an interesting scenario that since 2010 the national security agency was basically
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itself hacking into north korea through china. north korea's access to the internet runs directly through china. they apparently according to the "times" placed malware in that connection and that allowed them to see what the north koreans were up to. this of course long before the sony hack merged last year. officials telling cnn's brian todd that the u.s. did not warn sony ahead of time about this that what the u.s. saw essentially happening in north korean cyberspace were the typical kinds of phishing denial of service attacks that the north koreans were engaged in. nobody clearly saw the level of the cyberattack against sony. i have to say, i don't know that it's at all clear if the nsa saw that would they tell a commercial company like sony because it would have revealed their own secret program to hack into north korean cyberspace. so think of it as espionage on so many levels going so many
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ways but all taking place online apparently. jake? >> barbara, we had the national intelligence director for this country, james clapper, on in november. this is around the same time of the sony hack. does his office acknowledge him having any conversations with his north korean counterparts on intelligence matters? >> reporter: well what they are saying is that if he of course made that trip to north korea to try to secure the release of three americans being detained there, and he did succeed in that they say he did not raise any other issues that that was his sole focus and he didn't want any intelligence issues of this sort apparently to get in the way of trying to get those americans home. >> barbara starr at the pentagon thank you. when we come back investigators finally closer to figuring out just what caused airasia flight 8501 to crash into the ocean. they have now listened to the cockpit voice recorders. what did they hear? plus the new england patriots investigated for possibly allegedly cheating in
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. in some other world news today, investigators can now rule out at least one theory about what brought down airasia flight 8501. today they revealed that there is no evidence that the plane crash was an act of terrorism. they are basing that on cockpit voice recordings taken from the flight's black boxes. they found nothing, nothing indicating any voices in the cockpit other than those of the pilots and there were no signs of an explosion. so just what did bring the plane down and what did the pilots say in those final moments? i'm joined by cnn aviation correspondent rene marsh. what can you tell us? >> at this point, we missouri the transcripts of the pilots' conversations are still being transcribed so we still don't know what the pilots' final words were. recordings of the pilots in the cockpit, though have allowed investigators to take one theory off the table but many critical
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questions remain unanswered. indonesian investigators say they do not hear gunfire or explosions on airasia flight 8501's cockpit voice recorder. but what brought down the plane still remains a mystery. >> translator: the voice from the cockpit does not show any sign of a terrorist attack. it is only the pilot sounding very busy. >> reporter: the airasia flight was traveling through severe thunderstorms when it crashed. the question remains, was weather, mechanical failure or human error to blame? >> we want to make absolutely certain before we rule anything out for sure or rule anything in for sure. >> reporter: former fbi agent christopher voss investigated the crash of twa flight 800. >> if it's not a terrorist problem that brought this plane down that means they potentially have to look for other manifestations of that problem, either another flight crew or other airplanes. there has to be a hidden danger for other planes that are still
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flying. >> reporter: the doomed flight was an airbus a-320 with more than 3500 in operation worldwide. meanwhile, the painstaking search for bodies continues. two more found sunday. but the waterlogged remains are decomposing and only 53 of the 162 on board have been recovered. >> translator: due to currents the divers couldn't even reach the bottom which constrained our operation. >> reporter: divers were able to pull up debris like passenger seats but the fuselage remains at the bottom of the java sea. it's the largest piece of wreckage at nearly 100 feet long and is believed to hold some of the missing bodies. the transcript of the pilots' conversation is about halfway complete. investigators hope to finish this week. but before they draw any concrete conclusions, they will compare what they heard to information on flight data recorder which essentially gives details about how the plane's systems were
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functioning. the debris also tells a story so they will consider that as well and we also are told next week they will release a preliminary report. so hoping for more information in that report. >> rene thank you so much. appreciate it. up next on "the lead" first it racked up key oscar nominations, now is raking in huge bucks at the box office. we will tell you about "american sniper's" recordbreaking weekend and how the movie's success could shake things up in hollywood. vo: 85 percent of people who travel will go someplace they've already been. where's the fun in that? it's time to find someplace new. book the hotel you want with the flight you want and we'll find the savings to get you there. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] you wouldn't ignore signs of damage in your home. are you sure you're not ignoring them in your body? even if you're treating your crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis an occasional flare may be a sign of damaging inflammation. and if you ignore the signs, the more debilitating your
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welcome back to "the lead." the pop culture lead now. when you hear about a movie breaking box office records, it tends to feature some type of super powered guy in tights like batman or spider-man or ironman. but it is the story of what many consider to be a real life american hero that shattered expectations this holiday
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weekend to become the biggest january opening in history the oscar nominated film "american sniper" earned an estimated $105 million at the box office this weekend. it stars bradley cooper as former navy s.e.a.l. chris kyle. kyle was a military sharpshooter in iraq and afghanistan. his claim to fame was that he was the deadliest sniper in american history. >> let me ask you a question, chris. would you be surprised if i told you that the navy has credited you with over 160 kills? >> so does this film's success signal a shift in america's appetite for war-based films? i'm joined by brent lang senior film and media reporter for "variety." i recently got a chance to talk to the film's star bradley cooper. he said what makes this film different from other war movies is that it focuses less so on the war itself and more so on the soldiers and the battles they face when they return home.
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take a listen. >> hopefully we tell it accurately. other service men and women will say wow, that's actually something that i can relate to. it's about the struggles that people go through being at war and being at home because more military vets are coming back than ever before because of medical advancements and we have to take care of them. and that's -- if there's any message at all, that would be a little keyhole into the world of a vet and their family as importantly. >> do you think that focusing on those struggles is part of what made this film more appealing? is it just the patriotic rah-rah this film also in some ways represents? >> no i think that's exactly why the film was so successful. i think bradley cooper just summed it up beautifully. if you look at it early films about iraq and afghanistan like "rendition" and even "the hurricane lockhurt locker" did not do very well at the box office. i think a lot of that is they
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were in some ways more polemical and films like "american sniper" and "lone survivor" are more personal. i think that allows them to have a much more universal appeal. warner brothers saying this is a film that is playing like gangbusters in blue states and red states. it's playing well in all 50 states. that's the kind of success you saw last weekend. >> the film which is a really powerful movie also it stayed above the political fray in a lot of ways. it didn't take a position. it wasn't about whether or not we should have been there. chris kyle was there and he was doing what he feels he was sent to do. but the movie has had its own fair share of controversy. over the weekend, actor seth rogen compared "american sniper" to the fictitious nazi propaganda movie. seth rogen has been criticized for his statements. could these criticisms actually be helping the movie in terms of
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its box office? >> you know i think it actually is helping the movie, just based on online comments and articles i have written about "american sniper" i can tell you that a lot of people are supporting this film because they feel that it's almost their patriotic duty to do so. they feel that by buying a ticket they are showing that they are supporting american service men and women. >> do you think there is something to the way they have marketed the movie also that may have raised viewer interest? it's marketed differently than previous war movies. >> absolutely. they really marketed this film as a story, as an action story. if you look at early trailers they have bradley cooper trying to decide whether or not to shoot someone who may have an ied. they racheted up the tension but they also did emphasize patriotism the posters have an american flag waving quite prominently in the foreground and they emphasize the relationship between chris kyle and his wife which allowed them
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to get an audience that was 43% female. not a small feat for a war film. >> the timing of the film couldn't have been better for the academy awards of course. do you think the success of this is going to help them? >> i think it is. if you look at it going into this weekend, the best picture contenders were among the weakest in history. no film had crossed $100 million when nominations were announced. well "american sniper" just shot past that mark. it's going to make $200 million or more it's going to be the film that all of the people tuning in have seen and you can't say that about films no matter what their merit, like "boyhood." they're just not that kind of popular success. >> hollywood loves success. thank you so much. appreciate it. that's it for "the lead."
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i'm jake tapper. join me tonight for a cnn special report an inside look at the three men behind the french terrorist attacks and the female suspect still on the loose. that's 9:00 eastern right here on cnn. now i turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, terror vacuum. al qaeda's most dangerous affiliate is ready to take advantage of the bloody chaos in the capital of a u.s. ally. troops stand ready to evacuate the american embassy. on the run. after bloody attacks and counterattack raids, police connect the dots across europe and the middle east looking for a terror cell mastermind. first strike. we have new details on how the u.s. broke into north korean computers long before the devastating cyberattack on sony pictures. and black box. we are hearing for the first time what was in the crucial recorder recovered from the airasia crash scene. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."