Face The Nation Transcripts March 23, 2014: Romney, Durbin, Ayotte

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

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, breaking news on the missing plane, as new satellite images are discovered; and Mitt Romney speaks out on Ukraine and American leadership. We'll get the latest on the search from our reporter on the scene and veteran pilot Sully Sullenberger and we'll talk to Dave Galo, who led the underwater team that found the wreckage of the Air France plane that had been lost at sea for two years. On Ukraine does Vladimir Putin want more than Crimea? And if he does, what will the West do? We'll talk to Mitt Romney who warned during the campaign about Russian intentions and we'll hear from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin just back from Ukraine and Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte who is there now. Plus, our panel of experts on those stories and the other news of the week ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, breaking news on the missing plane as news satellite images are discovered and Mitt Romney speaks out on Ukraine and American leadership. We'll get the latest on the search from our reporter on the scene and veteran pilot Sully Sullenberger and we'll talk to Dave Galo who led the under water team that found the wreckage of the Air France plane that had been lost at sea for two years. On Ukraine, does Vladimir Putin want more than Crimea? And if he does, what will the west do? We'll talk to Mitt Romney who warned during the campaign about Russian intentions and we'll hear from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin just back from Ukraine and Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte who is there now. Plus, our panel of experts on those stories and the other news of the week, sixty years of news because this is FACE THE NATION.

And good morning again, well there is actually some new information this morning on the search for that missing Malaysian plane, new satellite images, these from the French that show objects in the same general vicinity as the earlier satellite images. The search is now focused on an area about the size of Texas, some fifteen hundred miles off the coast of Perth, Australia. Our Holly Williams is in Perth this morning. Holly.

HOLLY WILLIAMS (CBS News Foreign Correspondent): Good morning, Bob. There is now a massive search taking place in the waters of the southern Indian Ocean, but what might be the wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which has been missing for more than two weeks. Yesterday the Chinese government released a blurry satellite image showing something around seventy feet by forty feet floating in the sea, fifteen hundred miles off Australia's West Coast. That's just eighty miles from where an Australian satellite, spotted two objects last Sunday. One of them is similar size. And the Malaysian authorities said today that a French satellite has also cited debris in the same area. The only possible human sighting so far was yesterday when the pilot of a civilian aircraft reported seeing several objects in the water, including a wooden pallet. Now that's an item commonly used in the cargo hold of passenger planes, but also in shipping containers. Australia Maritime Safety Authority has warned that there is no certainty, but these are the only credible leads in the search for the missing Boeing 777. Today a fleet of military and civilian aircraft from the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand combed a region of the Indian Ocean, the size of West Virginia in difficult weather conditions with lots of cloud cover, radar has proved ineffective. So they are relying on the human eye and they're flying just a few hundred feet over the water. It is extremely challenging work, in seas that are notoriously rough. Now more than half of the passengers on Flight 370 were from China, several Chinese ships are making their way to the search area and two Chinese aircraft will join the operation tomorrow.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, Holly Williams. Thank you so much, Holly.

And we are joined now by retired U.S. Air captain Sully Sullenberger who made that miraculous landing on the Hudson River five years ago. He's now a CBS News Aviation and sex-- safety contributor. Sully, what do you make of this latest situation? Should we be hopeful about this, these new images that we've seen?

CAPTAIN SULLY SULLENBERGER (CBS News Aviation and Safety Expert): Well, good morning, Bob. Everyone is grasping for any bit of hope they might be able to find. This is an extraordinary circumstance in many ways and with each passing day it makes it more challenging because of the combined effect of wind and current on what floating debris there may be. And if it turns out that this debris is part of the airplane which it might not then, of course, the searchers have to work backwards for several weeks applying in that wind and current information to try to find where on the ocean floor the aircraft may be, if that's where it is. Unfortunately, there were some missteps made very early on. Here we are three-- into the third week of the investigation and just now beginning to re-narrow the search to areas that are still as large as United States-- States so.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, this information keeps coming out in dribs and drabs obviously because some of it we're learning I guess when-- when the searchers find it, but it seems to me some sort of-- there's a problem with communications here. Do you-- do you sense that?

CAPTAIN SULLY SULLENBERGER: And that's not an uncommon circumstance to find in these large endeavors. There are many countries in the world where there is not sufficient coordination between the civilian air traffic control organization and the military, radar, air defense organizations. There's little sharing of information. And then you add to that through regional concerns, suspicion, instability, border disputes, it makes it even harder to mount large scale investigations, large scale searches, that most of these countries can't simply not do by themselves. And if-- if one other good thing comes out of this, it would be more widespread use globally of the Interpol stolen and lost travel documents database. My understanding is currently only the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates make a one-hundred-percent check of passengers on that SLTD stolen and lost travel documents database and that's something that should be done globally to prevent people from boarding an airplane with a fraudulent travel document.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Is it possible that we're not ever going to know what happened here?

CAPTAIN SULLY SULLENBERGER: Well, unfortunately with the passing time, with each passing hour and day it becomes somewhat more likely that that may be the case or it may take many years. But, hopefully, some floating debris will be found that will be traced back to this airplane and then we can work backwards to find the point where it entered the water and began doing a search on the ocean floor to bring up as much wreckage as can be found, do a forensic analysis of that, and, hopefully, find the digital flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.

BOB SCHIEFFER: When do you think we'll reach the point where we'll stop searching?

CAPTAIN SULLY SULLENBERGER: It's unlikely that we'll reach that point soon unless there are simply no leads to follow. As we've said it took about two years for the wreckage of Air France 447 to be found in the deep waters of the South Atlantic after the 2009 crash. I think great efforts and huge sums will be expended to find this aircraft and to resolve this huge ambiguity.

BOB SCHIEFFER: If these satellite images prove to be part of the wreckage finding what is beneath the surface is the next step. Sully, we want to thank you for being with us this morning. But finding what's beneath the surface is the next step and there are only a few companies in the world who are able to do that. Dave Gallo who heads up special projects for one of the best, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, is with us here this morning.

DAVID GALLO (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution): Thank you, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: In 2011 nearly two years after Air France Flight 447 crashed off the coast of Brazil, the Woods Hole staff located the wreckage two and a half miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Special under water vehicles called REMUS 6000s mapped the ocean floor through a process called mowing the lawn. The same vehicles were then able to gather high-resolution photos of the jet's remains leading to the recovery of crucial flight data and the cockpit voice recorders.

Now, Dave, you've been there before. You've done this with the-- with the Air France plane. What happens if the satellite images--

DAVID GALLO: Yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --turn out to be wreckage? What-- what happens next in this search?

DAVID GALLO: Well, then this search turns-- we put it over to a team of scientists using models of the shape of the various pieces of debris can look at the currents, the winds, the waves, tides, all that stuff for the past few weeks and backtrack it. Hopefully, that will give us the X on the ocean where-- to begin under water search.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I'm told we have the search area narrowed down to about the size of the state of Texas.

DAVID GALLO: Yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Can you start the underwater search when the search area is that big or do you have to narrow it down?

DAVID GALLO: You know, Bob, you-- you could. But we-- we need to have a much better haystack than that. The Air France search was a forty-mile radius circle so it was about five thousand square miles. We're many times that size right now. I mean nothing is impossible but we do need to have some real good foundation for where we begin to look beneath the sea.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, when you locate things beneath the sea using sonar is that the next step?

DAVID GALLO: A sonar, yes, a very-- almost like, we go into that area and do something very akin to plowing a field. Very detailed long lines, we're using a sonar, identify the wreck and then move in with higher resolution equipment.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And then when you start going under water with your special vehicles, what-- what happens then?

DAVID GALLO: Well, then-- then once the wreck is identified you want to almost do a forensic analysis in place using the best cameras, the best robots, it's all the same thing you have to have the right technology, the right team, the right game plan and-- and a little bit of luck, a lot of prayer and then off you go.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm-- I'm looking on the screen now we're seeing some-- what exactly is that?

DAVID GALLO: That torpedo-shaped thing you see in its launch pad, it's called the REMUS 6000. It's one of the most sophisticated under water robots on Earth we've got. We used three of those on the Air France survey, search. They cover about twenty-five square miles a day. So it's slow going but the last thing you want to do is go over a spot, miss the aircraft, and then go on to the next spot.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And how far are we from that right now?

DAVID GALLO: It's--

BOB SCHIEFFER: I mean obviously we haven't found it yet.

DAVID GALLO: Yeah, it's frustrating, Bob, because, you know-- and I don't want to hope against the hopes and prayers of the families by hoping this is wreckage from the plane. But we're a ways away, you know. And Air France, it was a two-year process. It wasn't all spent at sea, but a lot of thinking, a lot of-- of things going on, decide who goes and does what next. But, you know, we're at the beginning of that. We're in here for-- it's a long haul from here to there.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And what do you know about the ocean floor at this particular place if it turns out this is where the wreckage is?

DAVID GALLO: The place at it is-- is a horrible place to do any kind of work. It's-- the waters are incredibly rough. I've spent time there in sixty-mile-an-hour winds and thirty-foot waves. But the sea floor beneath is relatively smooth and flat. It's an underwater volcanic mountain range. And it's much simpler to work than the Air France area.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So right now what do you think the chances are that there-- there is something--

DAVID GALLO: I'll put it this way. You know we're looking for some very small needles in a-- in a-- bits of a needle in a very large haystack. But if you have the confidence of the governments, confidence of the families, and again with the right team, the right technologies, nothing is impossible. So I'm confident given those things, it's impossible to say when because we don't know where to start and when to start.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I know you volunteered your help. Has anybody said we need you yet?

DAVID GALLO: Not-- not yet, Bob. So we're in standby mode. We've offered through the State Department and to the Malaysians directly. So we'll-- we'll wait and see.

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

DAVID GALLO: You're very welcome.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in a moment.

The crisis in Ukraine, this morning, the head of NATO's military command says the Russian forces who are amassed at the eastern border of Ukraine are very, very sizable and very, very ready to use his words. U.S. military estimates put the number of Russian forces at twenty thousand. Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is joining us to talk about that and other news this morning from San Diego. Good morning, Governor, and welcome back to FACE THE NATION. During the campaign, and I want to start with this, you took a lot of heat for saying that Russia was our greatest geopolitical foe. In the third debate, the President came down pretty hard on you about that.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (2012): A few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America you said Russia. Not al Qaeda, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War has been over for twenty years.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm sure, Governor, you're tempted this morning to say, I told you so, but do you really believe that what happened in Ukraine had anything to do with what President Obama has or hasn't done?

MITT ROMNEY (2012 Republican Presidential Nominee): Well, there's no question, but that the-- the President's naivety with regards to-- to Russia and his faulty judgment about Russia's intentions and objectives has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face. And unfortunately not having anticipated Russia's intentions, the President wasn't able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you're seeing in the Ukraine as well as the things that you're seeing in Syria. We-- we really need to understand that Russia has very different interests than ours, this is not fantasy land, this is reality, where they are a geopolitical adversary. They're not our enemy. But they are certainly an adversary on the world stage.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, should we have known this, should we have anticipated it, because it-- it caught a lot of people by surprise it seems to me?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, there may have been some people surprised but there are many, many others who predicted that Russia would try and grab additional territory and certainly when we saw the demonstrations going on in Ukraine, we recognized that Russia has a major base in Sevastopol in Crimea, there was-- couldn't be a surprise to folks that Russia might take the opportunity to grab that territory. After all we-- we see reports saying that the Russian soldiers came in without Russian insignia, that their trucks didn't have Russian insignia, this had been prepared for some time. And we certainly could have taken action early on, we would have had far more options to try and shape events to keep Russia from moving in. For instance, working with our allies-- allies around the world, to develop the sanctions, communicating those to Russia very, very clearly, at the same time saying, look, we're not going to interferes with your base in Sevastopol, nor your influence in Kiev. These kinds of things had the potential of keeping Russia from-- from making a devastating move, one that changes the whole political landscape-- landscape rather, of the entire world and certainly that of Eastern Europe.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, we had put on some sanctions now, they don't seem to have done much good. You're saying if we had done it earlier, how-- how actually would we have done that? And-- and are the sanctions they put on now, do we need stronger sanctions?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, let's-- let's step back. I think effective leaders typically are able to see the future to a certain degree and then try and take actions to shape it in some way. And that's, of course, what this President has failed to do and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well. They thought resetting relations with Russia, handing out gifts to Russia would somehow make Russia change its objectives. Well, that certainly wasn't the case. Had we from the very beginning of the demonstrations in Crimea, excuse me, in-- in Ukraine, had we worked with our allies and said, look, let's talk about the kinds of severe sanctions we would put in place if Russia were to decide to move and had we then communicated that to Russia beforehand, not put in place the sanctions, but communicate, look, Russia, stand down here. Don't you think about grabbing territory or these are the things that will have to happen. These are the actions we will take. And by the way, Russia, we're not going to interfere with your base in Sevastopol and so forth. Had we communicated those things there is always the potential that we could have kept them from invading a country and annexing it into their own?

BOB SCHIEFFER: So what would be your advice to the President now? What-- what should we be doing now and what do we do next? For example, what are we going to do if Putin decides to move those troops that he's got poised on the border into other parts of Ukraine?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, given the fact that there's a real potential that-- that Russia might be thinking in that direction, we need to communicate with our allies. What actions would we take? Tell Russia before they've acted, say, look, Russia, if you do these things, these are some of the things that are going to happen. And, of course, you keep other options on the table as well. Right now you do the kinds of things that are only available to you after something bad has happened which options are typically far less effective. But you do put in place the sanctions. You do strengthen our relationship with our friends, particularly, in Eastern Europe. You welcome those that seek entry into NATO to join NATO. You rebuild our military budget. You don't shrink our military budget at a time like this. You begin cooperation-- military cooperation with nations in Eastern Europe that want that cooperation. For instance, you reconsider putting in our missile defense system back into the Czech Republic and Poland as we had once planned. And, as you recall, we pull that out as a gift to Russia. Look, these are the kinds of actions you take and the President is taking many of those. I'm saying what he should have done from the very beginning was have the judgment to understand that Russia was not our friend, that Russia had very different ambitions and interests than we did and that you have to stand strong. And by the way, the President's actions in Syria I believe are one of the things that led to the-- the kind of aggressiveness you're seeing from Russia today.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Have we reentered the cold war?

MITT ROMNEY: No, we haven't entered that-- that level of, if you will, cold conflict. But we certainly recognize that-- that Russia has very different interests than ours. That Russia is going to push against us in every possible way. They have been doing it. Look, they-- they blocked for many years the toughest sanctions against Iran. They stand with Assad and Syria. They stand with Kim Jong-un in--in North Korea. They-- they link with some of the world's worst actors. They've sent a --a battleship into the Caribbean and to-- and to Cuba. They-- they harbor Edward Snowden. All-- all these things are designed to say, hey look, we're pushing against United States. They are our geo-political adversary. They're not our enemy but they're an adversary on the playing field of the world. And-- and this is a playing field where we're going to determine whether the world is going to see freedom and-- and economic opportunity or whether the world is going to see authoritarianism and Russia and Putin wants to be an authoritarian and that's not something that the world needs or wants.

  • CBS News

Comments

Follow Us

Face on Twitter