tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN May 19, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
protect them. make them feel that. that's very helpful to them at this point. they have nothing else. >> and take comfort that even though it seems like they are not getting information on the ground from egyptair, concurrently, the same time, independently of that, there's a massive effort with the cia, nsa, french authorities. >> they are on it. >> with other intel services trying to figure out what has happened. >> mike, christine, thank you. "the lead" starts now. welcome to "the lead". i'm jake tapper. i want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. this is "the lead." breaking news on the crash of egyptair air 804. egyptian officials say they have found the wreckage, life jackets and piece of plastic in the mediterranean sea. they are labeling their mission a search and recovery mission, not a rescue mission.
meaning that they sadly anticipate that there will not be any survivors. the egyptian government already acknowledging that they believe this is likely an act of terror. u.s. intelligence officials telling cnn their early theory is that this was a bomb that took down the plane. let me offer this caveat. this is a breaking and developing news story. we will tell you what authorities and investigators believe but often, especially early on after a disaster, based on new information, authorities change their assessments. here is what we know right now. egyptair flight 804 traveling from paris to cairo early this morning with a total of 66 people on board, 56 of them were passengers, including one child and two infants. ten of the 66 were crew members. we're learning that a group of families of those passengers are just arriving in cairo having flown from paris. now, moments before entering egyptian air space, according to greek officials, the plane made
abrupt turns and then plunged steeply shortly before disappearing from radar altogether. we're covering this story with cnn correspondents and terror experts here in the united states and across the globe. but first, let's bring in cnn aviation correspondent rene marsh. there's so many questions involving the final moments leading up to the disappearance this plane. if indeed this was a bomb on board, how big of a bomb would it need to be to bring down this plane? >> jake, at that altitude, 37,000 feet, it really wouldn't have to be that big of a bomb. a small amount of explosive could essentially tear that aircraft apart because of the air pressure at that altitude. but before investigators are able to definitively say what brought that plane down, they need to get their hands on the critical black boxes as well as the wreckage and not long ago, one airline official telling cnn they believe they have located that wreckage.
as distraught families rush to cairo airport for word on their loved ones, the u.s. navy has deployed a p3 aircraft to help in the search. officials believe this was likely an act of terrorism. >> translator: if you look at this situation properly, the possibility of a terror attack is more likely than a technical problem. >> reporter: at 11:09, the prlae takes off from paris to cairo. at 1:48, it checks in at the next control point. key island south of athens. the pilot is cheerful and thanks the air traffic controllers. 2:27 a.m., the first sign that something is wrong. despite repeated calls, the pilots do not respond. just two minutes later, the plane signal drops from the radar. greek officials say the aircraft plunged from its cruising altitude of 37,000 feet down to 10,000 feet when it disappeared
from radar. egyptair officials say the plane, a widely used airbus 320, was relatively new and the pilot, very experienced. >> he has 6,000 hours total flying hours, 2,000 of this type. good reputation and he was a colleague of mine. >> reporter: a u.s. official says the plane made stops at two places but was swept by security when it stopped in paris before leaving for cairo. this is just the latest incident for egyptair. in may, a man falsely claiming to be wearing a suicide vest hijacked a plane with 72 people on board. and in 1999, u.s. investigators said a deliberate act brought down an egyptair airplane near nantucket island killing more than 200 people on board. and then a russian aircraft
crashed after leaving sharma al sheik airport. overall, i can tell you that the department of homeland security, they are waiting for more definitive information before they take any action, if any. >> rene marsh with all of the latest, thanks. let's bring in aviation correspondent richard quest. thanks for joining us. the plane that went down is an a320. how common is this plane? how old was this specific aircraft? >> reporter: well, the plane itself is the absolute workhorse of global aviation for shorter flights. more than 8,000 have been ordered. there's about 5,000 flying in the air. it's a boeing rival. it is the 737. and jake, you just got a look out at the window at any
airport, particularly in asia, europe, even the u.s., you will see dozens of the a320 family all the way up to the a321. extremely popular and well-liked by the aviation industry and passengers and an exceptionally reliable plane and is the backbone of aviation at the moment. >> richard, stick around. i want to bring in paul cruickshank. paul, the working theory right now is that this was an act of terrorism. the house homeland security chairman michael mccaul said it's most likely an act of terrorism. have there been any claims of responsibility and who might potentially be behind this? >> jake, no claims of responsibility at all. no credible claims from terrorist groups from isis or al
qaeda. there's been a denothing about . by point of comparison, when that metro jet went down over the peninsula, they put out a statement that same day. isis is very quick to put out statements over social media. does this delay mean perhaps it wasn't isis? investigators will be looking into that. if it's terrorism at all. when you look at these international terrorism groups, the group that is most capable of pulling off an attack like this is not isis. it's al qaeda. al qaeda has been developing new types of explosive devices to try to beat airport security. they have ibrahim al asiri and they are also experimenting with
surgically implanting bombs into human beings, according to recent intelligence, jake. concerned that al qaeda is sharing that information with affiliates, such as al shabab in somalia. with that group we saw in february of this year, an actual bombing of a somali airline, flight 159, which took off with a sophisticated laptop bomb inside, fortunately it went off not at a high altitude. only the bomber was blown out of the aircraft. the plane managed to get back down on the ground. they found more laptop bombs. after that, there was another attempt in somalia. you're looking at perhaps the scenario of al qaeda possibly being responsible for this. but early stages. because right now, jake, there is no concrete evidence that this is terrorism. that is just a working theory. >> right. >> they want to put me on the phone in that theory. >> richard, one way that these
investigations are conducted is looking at similarities with past aviation disasters. given what we know and your knowledge of other previous airline disasters, which one does this most resemble as of right now? >> well, if you're talking about the possibility of a mechanical issue rather -- versus a bomb, then you're looking at air france 447 and you're being looking at airasia over the java see. in both of those cases, the aircraft fell out of the sky at altitude. this was flying at 37,000 feet. and it just literally stops. the profile of the aircraft just stops. now, we've heard these reports of supposedly swerving pieces, 90 degrees to the left and then to the right and that's starting to look less likely. it's starting to look more as if -- though it's the plane
breaking up. those are the two for mechanical. if it is terror and the bomb or device got on in paris, then you're talking about a very different security issue here. charles de gaulle, you're into a completely different league to anything we saw with sharm al sheik. u.s. officials are looking at the information to see if this could have been a bomb. if that's the case, how could explosives have gotten on board the flight if it was screened in paris which is supposed to have intense security? more breaking news on this tragedy when we come back. oudairy or artificial flavors., so we invented a word that means that. shmorange! and it rhymes with the color of our bottle. hey, baby, make it your first word!
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including three children. if this was indeed an act of terrorism and we do not know it to be that yet, but if it were, that would make it the third large-scale attack affecting paris in the past year and a half. cnn correspondent atika shubert is live now from paris at charles de gaulle airport where flight 804 took off wednesday evening. what are you learning? >> reporter: well, what airport officials are telling us is that they are at the highest level of security here and they have been for months. remember, of course, as you pointed out, they had those terror attacks in november and the brussels attacks and they've taken extra steps to make sure that the security is as ratcheted up. what they've done, for example, is that when we go through screening, check for any liquids, laptops, that kind of thing, that's what personnel here at the airport go through before they are included in any of the security areas as well.
we also know that personnel are screened by police, they are screened every few months ago and in december the airport here at charles de gaulle actually removed dozens of employees from their post because they feared that they may have links to radical islamist groups and so they removed them from their jobs that allowed them to have access to secured areas. what they are looking at now is whether or not there were any weak links in that security chain. >> atika shubert at charles de gaulle airport, thank you so much. let's bring in richard quest and paul cruickshank. also joining me now, cnn safety analyst, david soucie and mary s schiavo. mary, let me start with you. this plane had two prior stops but then, of course, after landing in france had a security
sweep specifically in paris before this doomed flight. since investigators are working on the working assumption, on the hypothesis that this appears to have been terrorism, how easily could someone have planted a bomb on the plane after this mandatory security sweep after touching down in paris? >> reporter: well, it also depends on what kind of a bomb. there are sort of two different vectors, of course. anybody who would be loading the bags on the plane, who would be doing any of the maintenance on the plane. when the plane comes into the airport -- that he is based on the u.s. standard because the u.s. required enhanced security back in 2014 because of these new less detectedable bombs that were be acquired by aqap and then at that time the plane has to be swept when it comes in. they look in the can you be boards in the various carts and seal off the trash bins and it's quite extensive.
but that's a requirement for each of the flights bound for the u.s. it can be different and it varies country by country and once that sweep happens, they put the baggage on. remember, the u.s. concern for enhancing security out of paris and other european airports in 2014 were these bombs that were liquid that would be concealed in laptops and cell phones and so the enhanced security included turning on your electronics and you couldn't board with one that didn't turn on. >> richard, since authorities are becoming so well-versed on the kinds of bombs that are being devised, we saw this more than a decade ago with shoe bomber richard reed, are there specific places that the bomb would be more damaging if it was brought on board?
>> oh, absolutely. no question about it. you know, if you're going to put a bomb on a plane, god forbid, you want to get it at the structurally weakest point of the aircraft and also as close as you could, for example, to the fuel tanks, which is why, for instance, the metrojet bomb was so significant because in that case it's believed to have come on board in a soda can and it was detonated over the wing and, of course, the fuel tanks are in the wings themselves and the belly tank of the aircraft. so, yes, if you're wanting to bring down the aircraft, that's the place that you aim for. however, one does need to point out, it's not as straightforward as that because these aircraft are built to withstand some pretty phenomenal forces that they will take just in the normal course of aviation. somalia, for example, we spoke about earlier, it's a good
example of how much force they can take. but if you blow up the fuel, that's a different matter. in the case of the aircraft, this plane went to tunis and back through cairo where it should have been swept and sealed before going up to paris and since it was at an eu airport, entering an eu airport from a noneu destination, it should have been swept and all of the panels should have been resealed by the crew who would have inspected them. this is what european airlines would have done before the plane would have departed. so the aircraft itself is one aspect to it, jake. the question, as mary rightly points out, what passengers or others may have put on the aircraft is something else. >> and david, go into more detail, if you could, about what exactly is happening to that airplane after arriving from a
noneu country into paris during that security sweep. how extensive would that be? >> well, there's some question about that. mary brought that up as to various countries have different requirements. if it's going into the u.s., it gets a very detailed sweep and the requirements going into the country before it leaves again, that's what determines how much depth they go into. they check under all of the seats but there's some hidden areas as well that you can get into and i'm not at liberty to go into too much detail but there are areas that are hidden. there's a way to get something, even as small as richard pointed out, even a small pop can, those areas are searched very well and drug through the entire process. >> richard, paul, david, mary,
thanks so much. after a russian plane was brought down in egypt last fall, last october, egyptian air officials took months -- egyptian officials. not egyptian air. why were they so quick this time, the officials, to say that terrorism was likely indeed the cause of the crash. we'll go into that next. twell what if i told you that peanuts can work for you? that's right. i'm talking full time delivery of 7 grams of protein and 6 essential nutrients. ever see a peanut take a day off?
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search and recovery operation under way. in the mediterranean where airline officials say the wreckage has been spotted. at this point, u.s. and egyptian officials believe the cause of the crash was likely, likely terrorism and not technical error, although i would offer the caveat that often early information coming from authorities in times like this is not always accurate and often it's not as updated. arwa damon is live from cairo international airport where flight 804 was scheduled to land. arwa, why do egyptian officials believe it was likely an act of terrorism? >> well, it's based on the information that they have at hand and that is that there was no distress call from the pilot or co-pilot, that they were both very seasoned.
they had clocked thousands of flight hours between the two of them and they have no cause to suspect that the aircraft itself may have had some sort of technical or mechanical malfunction that would cause it to so suddenly plummet so quickly without giving the pilot the chance to make any sort of distressed call. that being said, it's not entirely unprecedented that a plane would completely disappear from the sky. it's a phenomenally rare occurrence and the altitude that the aircraft was at, 37,000 feet, that's according to aviation experts one of the safest points in any flight. >> we're losing arwa damon's transmission. let's bring in breaking news now
if we can. we now have new information coming in about the egyptair debris field. let me get right to cnn aviation correspondent rene marsh. what are you learning? >> jake, we've been talking a lot about this debris and that's going to be a critical part of this investigation. earlier today, we know the vice chairman of egyptair told cnn that the wreckage from egyptair 804 had been found about 150 nautical miles north of the egyptian coast. now this breaking news, greek officials say it is not. i repeat it is not the wreckage of the plane. so at this point, wreckage from egyptair flight 804 has not been discovered. the search continues. but that is the breaking news here. of course, that is going to be so critical in piecing this all together, not only the wreckage and black boxes but the headline is greek officials are now saying they have not found the wreckage of this plane.
>> rene marsh, thank you so much. a reminder, as i said at the top of the show, often the early information given by authorities immediately after tragedies needs to be updated and sometimes it's contradicted by other authorities. after the paris attacks, security was stepped up at charles de gaulle airport. our next guest says that if this plane crash turns out to be terrorism, it shows that the extra precautions were insufficient. the ranking member of the house intelligence committee will explain that, next. ♪
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theory that a bomb may have blown up this plane with 66 people on board. next comes the investigation. joining me now to shed more light on that is congressman adam schiff, top democrat on the house intelligence committee. thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> u.s. officials believe that it's likely that it was an act of terrorism. they say that they are not sure yet but it's likely, they believe. why do they think that? >> in fact, i think some of those officials who have been quoted are getting ahead of themselves. at this point, we still can't corroborate the theory that terrorism brought it down or there was some structural problem with the plane. we have the aspiration we've seen time and time again not only of isil now but of aqap still very potent and determined to bring down aircraft. the reality is we don't have hard evidence that this was terrorism yet. we don't, for example, have either wreckage to examine or
photographs that are dispositive or intelligence that is specific. it's premature to say that is the lead theory. >> even before this accident -- and this accident notwithstanding what caused it, do you think that security at airports in europe is adequate? >> well, i still have real concerns about our security at home and i think our security is the best in the world. they have tried before paris, after the paris attacks to harden the defenses at those airports to take a second look at airport employees, to look at access to aircraft of people who work at airports. >> they just had to fire a bunch of employees for suspected ties to experienced groups. >> exactly. they have taken steps if in fact this turns out to be terrorism, then i think it will have to call on us and probably regardless of what happens, to re-examine our own security procedures. the challenge for us is to make sure that we have the best defense possible but we're not having excessive delays that are
unrelated to security. but i'm still concerned, frankly, with the fact that we don't have a better track record when we test tsa going through security and i still think there are vulnerabilities in terms of airport employee vendor access to aircraft without a thorough vetting of all of those people with access. >> a lot of americans are wondering -- again, we don't know if this was terrorism but there have been a number of major and horrific acts of terrorism in europe in the last year. france, belgium and elsewhere. there are many americans who wonder if it's safe to travel to europe. what do you tell them? >> i tell them that i still go to europe. i brought my family to europe just about a month and a half ago. >> and it's just you, not secret service agents surrounding you. >> just me. my family and my wife and kids. i felt it was safe enough to do that. there is certainly risks. there are people within isis that are plotting but we have to
put those risks into perspective. i always say there's a greater risk every time i get on the l.a. freeway than when i get in an aircraft or go somewhere like europe. >> let's take a look at the list of previous stops that this specific aircraft made before arriving in paris. the day before, the plane had been in cairo, in eastern africa, in tunisia. do those places ring any bells for you? >> absolutely. really up until now -- and we're awaiting the results here, but our primary concern was in airports in just those places. >> right. >> coming out of the middle east, out of north africa, we had a lot of questions about airport security. we've tried to work with our partners overseas to help them harden their defenses and if in fact this was an explosive not placed in one of those places but placed on the bomb in paris or a passenger that got through security, maybe with one of these bombs it's more difficult
to detect and aqap has never stopped working on those, if that's the case, it says a lot more about isis or al qaeda's capability and a lot about the work that we have yet to do to harden our defenses. that would be a shocking conclusion. >> we haven't heard a lot about aqap, al qaeda and the arabian peninsula in a while. isis has really been in the forefront of media discussions and american's fears. but aqap is still very, very feared. there's still a lot of concerns about it among american national security officials, specifically for their bomb-making ability. >> absolutely. they still have the premier bomb makers in the world. and there are clips in the news, still very active and more territory than in a long time and nonetheless, the only reason
isil is the fact that the choice of the egyptian aircraft. that is, i think, more of a target for isil perhaps than aqap. aqap is much more interested with isil on top of the terrorism. egyptair said earlier that they found the wreckage of this plane, life jackets and pieces of plastic floating in the sea. but now, the top safety official of greece says in fact they have not found anything. so what happened? what is the mix-up about. we will ask the vice president of egyptair coming up next.
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just told authorities that they have not found wreckage from the plane. the vice president of egyptair air, ahmed adel is joining us now. it sounds like the information has changed. is this wreckage not in fact from the missing plane? >> yes, sir. we stand corrected on that. we have received some initial information right before i was going into an interview with christiane amanpour through an official ch official channel that they found the wreckage and then later on after they got close to what they thought was the wreckage of egyptair, they realized it is not our aircraft. >> what is the latest in the search for wreckage? >> the latest is we stand corrected on finding the wreckage because what we identified now is not parts of our plane. the search and rescue is still going on and it will continue early morning tomorrow. >> how large an area are you looking at where the plane might
have gone down? >> we are not -- egyptair is not conducting the search and rescue. i got that information from the greek authorities and from our military authorities that are involved in the search and rescue. so we will have to wait until they give us any new information to come up with. >> we're told that the working theory right now with u.s. officials is that this is possibly and maybe even likely the result of a bomb on the plane. does the evidence you have, as of now, back that up or contradict it? >> neither nor. it does not back it up or contradict it. everything is on the table. we are waiting to gather all of the information that we can and then we'll move forward from there to see what really happened. what i can tell you now, the chairman of the egyptair and myself, we were at the gate waiting for our paris flight today. it had 14 of the rest of the
relatives of the lost aircraft and they were put into their hotel rooms right now and we're going to have an early-among meeting for all of them tomorrow morning. >> were there any passengers on board the flight that raised any red flags in retrospect with american officials, european officials, egyptian officials, anyone? >> on which one? the one today? >> no. the one that is missing. >> no, not that i know of. >> how extensive was the security that the plane went through and the sweep after it landed in paris before it took off again? >> as i mentioned, with christiane earlier today, we have very tight security procedures that we have to do when we land in the base and before taking off from our base which is cairo and when we land in paris and before taking off from paris. it's done by the cockpit crew, they have a check list that they have to go through, the cabin
crew has a check list that they have to go through. the security crew has a check list to go through. so it's business as usual. we did not get any red flags. >> you just mentioned some relatives of those who were on board this missing flight, arriving in cairo. have you met with them? what are people from egyptair telling these poor souls? >> we have met with them. i would rather not disclose anything that we are telling them now to respect their privacy. we're going to have a briefing with them tomorrow about all of the information that we know and then we're going to make a press release right after the briefing. >> ahmed adel, president of egyptair, thank you for your time and best of luck in your search. >> thank you, sir. good-bye. let's bring in cnn correspondent tom foreman from our virtual room. a tragic story and so many questions surrounding this
crash. tell us what we do know at this hour. >> here's what we do know right now. look at what happened. this was a plane that took off at 11:09 in the evening from charles de gaulle airport. it's supposed to be about a four-hour flight, simple enough, over here to cairo. at 1:24 it went into greek air space. about 40 minutes later, as it passed into egyptian air space, they could not reach the plane anymore and then there were reports of erratic movements of the plane as it disappeared from the radar. the official you just spoke to, jake, talked about the idea of gathering all of the information that we can. he said that very casually but it's a tremendous amount of information that they have to look at. first of all, they have to review with this plane exactly what you were asking him about, where was it on the ground over the past several days, who had access to it, did anybody find a way to circumvent all of those security measures if, in fact, this is what happened, if it was
some sort of an attack on the plane as well. then they have to look at the people on board the plane, he mentioned the crew that they have there. you have a cockpit crew, two people up there, five people working the cabin back here and then three security officers. every one of these, you have to find out who they knew, who they talked to, how they got to the airport, what they were carrying to make sure there was no breach anywhere in the system or that nobody had a reason to do anything unusual. and then, you have to look at the aircraft itself if you can find some of the wreckage. you have to get down here to the mediterranean ocean which could be difficult to find things as they get below the surface and you have to look at the remains of what you find if this plane in fact crashed. obviously, the data recorder, voice recorder and then you have
to look at the plane. do you see problems where the engines had something go wrong with them or some sort of explosion? the bottom line is, it was traveling about 565 miles an hour and it went down somehow. many, many clues to look at before they know why. >> such a tragedy. tom foreman, thank you so much. first, why hillary clinton now says that donald trump is not fit to be president. that story, next. to tokyo. live in tokyo. when you airbnb, you have your own home. so, live there. even if it's just for a night.
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itchy twitter finger. "when will we get tough, smart and vigilant? great hate and sickness." cnn has learned that it's the working theory that u.s. officials are operating under right now that this may have been an act of terrorism. hillary clinton today in an interview with chris cuomo says that trump does not, however, make the u.s. safer. she said quite the opposite. jeff zeleny is in chicago. jeff, i guess what surprises me about her saying that mr. trump is not qualified is three weeks ago when i asked her the question she said it was up to the voter. she wouldn't weigh in. today, she was unequivocal. it seems like there's a strategic shift here. >> jake, there is a shift indeed. and partially that is because time is getting on here. she is now fully engaged in donald trump. one adviser told me today she wants to stop his growth, his
expansion and stop any voters who have doubts about him from changing their mind. she wants to freeze all of those doubts in place. >> it does appear that it was an act of terrorism. >> reporter: hillary clinton says the loss of egyptair flight 804 is a stark reminder of global threats and dire consequences of this presidential campaign. >> once again, it shines a very bright light on the threats that we face from organized terror groups and it reinforces the need for american leadership, for the kind of smart, steady leadership that only america can provide. >> reporter: sitting down today with cnn's chris cuomo, clinton saying in no uncertain terms she believes donald trump is not fit for the job. >> do you think that donald trump is qualified to be president? >> no, i do not. >> reporter: her strongest words yet against trump saying for the first time he's unqualified. >> the kinds of positions he is stating and the consequences of
those positions and even the consequences of his statements are not just offensive to people, they are potentially dangerous. >> reporter: hours earlier, well before intelligent officials weighed in, trump also saying that the egyptair liner was a terrorist attack, writing on twitter, when will we get tough, smart and vigilant? great hate and sickness." but clinton says the sharp rhetoric is making american's fight against terror even harder. >> when you run against the united states, the entire world is listening and watching. so when you say we're going to bar all muslims, you are sending a message to the muslim world and you're also sending a message to the terrorists. >> reporter: visiting her home town of park ridge, illinois, clinton made clear she has one rival in the presidential race, not two. she said her competition with bernie sanders is over. >> i will the nominee for my party, chris. that is already done, in effect. there is no way that i won't be. >> reporter: she says she's
confident that the party will unite, despite sanders' pledge to fight all the way to the democratic convention in july. >> where does that confidence come from? >> well, in part, from my own experience. i went all the way to the end against then senator barack obama. i know the intense feelings that arise particularly among your supporters as you go towards the end. >> reporter: sanders supporters have made their feeling against clinton clear. >> senator sanders has to do his part. that's why 2008 is so pertinent here. i did my part but so did senator obama. he made it clear, he welcomed people who had supported me. >> reporter: after the final primary contest in june, clinton says trump will help bring democrats together. and jake, that may well be true but senator sanders still has
nine more contests to go. he's still fighting to win them. how their own relationship evolves here is going to answer that question if it does bring the party together. >> interesting. jeff zeleny, thanks. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i now turn you over to jim sciutto in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news, focus on terror. an egyptian airliner vanishes over the mediterranean. officials say the likelyist cause is terrorism. search for wreckage. a search is under way for debris and clues that can tell investigators what happened to the airliner. what can the cockpit and flight recorders reveal about the plane's final moments? and american help. the u.s. deploys a long-range patrol aircraft to aid in the search. the president has been briefed and u.s. investigators are ready