Face the Nation Transcript March 16: Rogers, Donilon

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" from March 16, 2014. Guests include Margaret Brennan, Seth Doane, Bob Orr, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, Mark Rosenker, Rep. Mike Rogers, Tom Donilon, Elizabeth Palmer, Charlie D'Agata, Bobby Ghosh, Anne Gearan and Michael Gerson.

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, breaking news on Ukraine and the mystery of Malaysian Air Flight 370.

It's been more than a week since the plane vanished. But authorities now say they know why the plane went off course and it wasn't an accident.

NAJIB RAZAK: These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll have the latest from Malaysia and our team of CBS aviation experts, including former U.S. Air pilot Sully Sullenberger. Then we'll ask the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers what he knows about the plane's disappearance.

Then we'll turn to the other big story--the vote today in Crimea and the crisis over Ukraine. What can the U.S. and our allies do if Russian President Vladimir Putin tries to annex the former Soviet state? We'll hear from former Obama national security advisor Tom Donilon and a panel of experts about that and the other developments. Sixty years of news because this is FACE THE NATION.

And good morning again. As I said earlier, there is breaking news now on Ukraine. The Russian foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry have agreed in a phone call according to the Russian ministry, to seek resolution to the Ukrainian crisis through what the news release says, is constitutional reform in Ukraine. That is the sum total of our knowledge of this, it just came over the wires. Our State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan has more on this. Margaret, what have you been able to find out about this?

MARGARET BRENNAN (CBS News State Department Correspondent): Well, this is based off of press release from the Russian foreign ministry reading out a phone call between Lavrov and Kerry that just happened. And it's the first time that we've seen any sign of diplomatic give on the part of Russia. So that's why there is some excitement about it. But U.S. officials, U.S. diplomats tell me this is a longer term process. This doesn't seem to be an immediate solution. What we do know was put on the table in the past few days was this proposal from Ukraine that they would give more autonomy to Crimea. Maybe give more protection to minorities, language rights, tax reform there. That, however, would need to also be considered on an all Ukraine basis, not just the vote you're seeing happen in Crimea today. The Ukrainian constitution requires the whole country to vote on this. So these are things that are being put on the table. Immediately today U.S. officials are urging caution here that this does not mean there's an immediate deal but we're still working on our sources.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Does it appear that they may be stepping back just a bit from the break?

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's the first sign of any give on any diplomatic front. Also we have that announcement of sort of a pause in terms of dealing with the Ukrainian military until the twenty-first. That is a key date because that is when the Russian Duma is set to review this proposal to formally annex. So we might see some movement in the next few days, something short of annexation but it doesn't look like Putin is pulling back fully.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. Margaret, we're going to give you a chance to get off and get back on the phone and see what other details you can turn up on this. So we'll cover this as the details come in.

Now we want to go to the other big story, and that is the latest developments on that missing Malaysian jetliner. Today, authorities tell us they have expanded the search area even further, Seth Doane is in Kuala Lumpur this morning, has the latest on that.

SETH DOANE (CBS News Correspondent): Good morning to you, Bob. Yes, as this search is expanded by sea and by air it is now-- now also expanding significantly on land as well. And investigators here in Malaysia are increasingly looking at the people on board that plane. Over the weekend police searched the homes of the pilot and co-pilot. Inside this pilot's home they found a flight simulator which they confiscated and now investigators are evaluating that. Also ground staff and engineers, anyone who had contact with that plane are now caught up in questioning and caught up in this investigation. This, as the Malaysian prime minister over the weekend said that he believed that evidence pointed to a deliberate act, someone on board that plane deliberately cutting the communication system of that plane. We also learned that the plane may have flown much further than we originally understood. The prime minister said that the last signal from the plane came to a satellite seven and a half hours after it took off. And authorities have distributed a map that shows two arcs almost two giant corridors from which that satellite ping might have come. One stretching in a northern direction from northern Thailand through western China all the way to Kazakhstan, and then in the southern arc stretching past Indonesia and well out into the very deep southern Indian Ocean. This of course, Bob, expands this search from fourteen countries to twenty-five.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you so much, Seth.

And joining us now from San Francisco, retired U.S. Air Captain Chesley Sully Sullenberger who made that miraculous landing on the Hudson River five years ago. He's now our CBS News aviation and safety expert. Here with us in the studio, two more experts. The former head of the National Transportation and Safety Board, Mark Rosenker, who is now a CBS News analyst, and security analyst and our own, Bob Orr, who has been covering this story since the plane went missing over a week ago. Well, Bob, you are making the point a while ago. I mean the more we get into this, the larger the area they're searching. You were saying we're now searching an area that goes from Kazakhstan all the way down to Australia.

BOB ORR (CBS News Homeland and Security Correspondent): Yeah, it's huge. I mean we're-- we're covering now a great part of the globe looking for a plane that looks large when you see it on a runway but connected to the-- or next to the Indian Ocean is just a speck. Bob, look, a week after this plane went missing nobody can tell us with any authority where it went or why it went where it did. And now it's just a painstaking process where patience is going to be required for people that want answers right now.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Sully, walk us through this thing. We're now told that they're investigating the pilot and the co-pilot. Why-- why-- why has the investigation in your view taken that turn?

CAPTAIN CHESLEY SULLENBERGER (CBS News Aviation and Safety Expert): Bob, this is already one of the most remarkable episodes in the entirety of aviation history and we're not, by any means, close to the end of it yet. But the aviation industry never willingly tolerates this level of ambiguity. You can be assured that great efforts, huge sums will be expended to solve this mystery, even though, it's likely to take months or years. You know absent finding the airplane, and having physical evidence to look at, absent finding and analyzing what's on the recorders, they have to look in every other way, an old-fashioned detective work trying to piece together this really puzzling situation.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You were an investigator, Mark, what should they be looking for now. Why is it they are just now getting around to looking into the backgrounds of the pilots?

MARK ROSENKER (CBS News Aviation Safety Analyst/Former NTSB Chair): Well, this is an extraordinary situation, as Sully said. We have not seen this kind of investigation held ever at least in the history that I have been involved in it. We need to see everything. Since this is now becoming more a look at a criminal or-- or terrorist-type of activity rather than accident and still accident is not off the table until we find a debris field, until we find a site where in fact the aircraft is on the ground, we do not know anything other than the kinds of information which has been provided us and provided, unfortunately, very late in the game by the Malaysian government. We learned something this morning, which we should have learned much earlier. From the Malaysian Airlines they told us that this had the appropriate amount of fuel, not anymore. Well, when you figure six and a half hours to get to Beijing then add some in for the alternate site, then add forty-five minutes in case you needed it in emergency. We're looking at anywhere between eight and eight and a half hours. That should have begun the process of trying to figure out where we might be looking during that period of time.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Sully, I want to ask you one of the things we have, we-- we now seem to know that the plane at one point went to forty-five thousand feet, which is beyond where this aircraft should be going and then went down to as low as twenty-five thousand feet. How would you explain that? What-- what does that suggest?

CAPTAIN CHESLEY SULLENBERGER: There are no operational reasons that I can think of that would explain it. There are reasons that one might end up in that situation but again I have no knowledge of what their motivation might have been of who was actually in control of the airplane with their level of skill or why these excursions of altitude would have taken place.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Or, Bob, maybe nobody was in control.

BOB ORR: Well, no, I think-- I think the evidence from satellite and radar, Bob, seems to show that somebody was flying the airplane and for quite a long period of time. That it changed course, it changed altitude. This didn't look like an airplane completely out of control by any means. The thing that you have to remember here is while we can't point to the pilots, and you can't point to a hijacking or a rogue pilot act. What I think we can say is whoever disabled those systems, if it was done intentionally, and whoever changed the course of that airplane and flew to a spot where they knew they had no radar coverage, there was some level of knowledge, some sophistication, knowledge about how that plane worked, how systems worked and how you would want to go about being undetectable.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mark, how is it that if this plane was, let's say, hijacked or if-- if it was going through all these contortions, wouldn't we have heard something from somebody's cell phone on that airplane?

MARK ROSENKER: Well, certainly not the cell phones. The-- the cell phones began really--

BOB SCHIEFFER: They don't work at that--

MARK ROSENKER: They just don't work at that altitude. What I am really disturbed about is once this transition was not captured by the Vietnamese, once they, in fact, saw some kind of a turn and flying over Malaysia for more than an hour, perhaps as much as an hour and ten to fifteen minutes, where was the Malaysian Air Force? Where were they to not come up, doing interception and try to figure out what was going on. This is absolutely extraordinary to have an airliner fly over that area without the Malaysian Air Force trying to understand what it was.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Sully, could it be and I mean this is just conjecture and-- and-- and speculate, could it be the-- these pilots who were trying to steal this airplane or somebody was trying to just steal it and fly it to some point? I mean it-- it just I don't understand anything about this story.

CAPTAIN CHESLEY SULLENBERGER: Yeah. Many of the possibilities verge on a spy novel kind of situation. We simply don't know. Those things that you mentioned are theoretically possible. The real frustration is that we are learning more about this, as Mark and Bob have said very late in the process. And with the passage of time, it makes the variability in the search much greater. And it makes it much harder ultimately to find out what really did happen.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Bob, do you think it's possible we may never find this wreckage? May never find this?

BOB ORR: If you had asked me about that a week ago, I would have said no, we would find some debris, we'd eventually trace the debris back to the wreckage field. I think as time goes on, Bob, with an area this large to search, I think it is possible, as hard as it is to believe that we may never find the plane. And if we don't find the plane, if we don't find some kind of conclusive analytical evidence on the police side, I think there is a chance we might not know.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, I want to thank all of you this morning. Thank you, Captain Sullenberg-- Sullenberger.

And we're going to go now to Indianapolis where the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers is standing by. Mister Chairman, have you been briefed, what about U.S. intelligence agencies, are they playing any part in this or have they been brought in to it in any way?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS (Intelligence Committee Chair/R-Michigan): Sure, you can-- might expect that we want to find out exactly if there was some terrorist nexus or some other nexus that would rise concerns to our national security. And I can tell you just in the discussion you had with your panel, there-- now there's-- we're creating a big matrix from the plausible to the probable and nothing has gotten to the probable quite yet, meaning there's still investigation to be had. You're going to have to do a thorough investigation on everyone on the airplane now to make some determination and the very fact that it may have gone over Malaysia. And I don't think that that's really conclusive tells you, now you have a whole new wing of this investigation that has to open that will take an intense amount of time and it may lead to the biggest dead end yet. This plane still may be at the bottom of the Indian ocean and I think a lot of folks that I talked to believe that's probably the most likely, the most probable circumstances that, in fact, it is at the bottom of the-- the Indian Ocean. But you cannot quite yet rule out everything else because we don't have the physical evidence we need to come to that conclusion.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You-- you're an old FBI agent before you were a member of Congress and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Is there any doubt in your mind at this point that this was a criminal act?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: You know, from everything I see it's all built on speculation. And by the way, Bob, I-- I, that phrase, old FBI agent concerned me a little bit.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I'm an old-- I'm an old FACE THE NATION moderator so--

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Yeah. Exactly.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --an older one than you are.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Yeah. That when you add up to the plausible fact points, it certainly would lead an old investigator to say there is a lot more to that portion of the story which is why they seized the flight simulator, not that it was unusual necessarily that the pilot had a flight simulator, but they want to go through and find out, did you-- were you playing some scenarios on that particular flight simulator that might match up to some alternate activity on your flight path. All of that will be done through really intense forensic investigation to try to determine were-- were there-- was there preplanning. Think about it. If you're going to fly over countries that we know have radar, and you're going to try to do it in a way that either saves the aircraft or crashes the aircraft, there is a lot of planning that has to happen. And there-- if there was more than one involved, there is-- that conspiracy trail means that people had to talk to each other. All of those are potential gaps for our FBI agents and others who are involved in this investigation, Malaysian intelligence and police services to fill in those holes.

  • CBS News

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Face on Twitter