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tv   CBS Morning News  CBS  March 22, 2016 4:00am-4:31am PDT

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as been informed here in havana this morning about what u.s. officials say appear to be at least two explosions, one at the metro and one near the airport. many of the president's very top security advisers, including susan rice are here with him, and they're continuing to update the president about what they've learned. they've already been in contact with belgian authorities, and have planted -- stay in contact and offer assistance. now, we are expecting to hear from the president around 10:00
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a.m. he was already scheduled to speak in a national address to the cuban people, and we do expect for him to have to comment on these developments, and the latest of what we are hearing. now we also know that the state department is still trying to track down these reports, and account to the safety of americans. there have been a few reportedly injured but no one can verify that. the u.s. embassy so far is gathering information. they are in lockdown and they are telling americans in the area to stay where they are, to shelter in place. it's worth noting that brussels is home to a number of very key diplomatic missions, including the military alliance at to. now, as for what happens next, with the president, whether he continues on with his agenda, there haven't been changes that we know of yet from the secret service. as i said the president's supposed to speak. he's then also supposed to attend a baseball game here in cuba as part of his diplomatic
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outreach. we don't know yet if the secret service will allow him to go through with it. but so far, no major changes to his schedule. >> all right, margaret brennan there in havana. thank you. we should also note that security is beefed up in other european cities this morning after that brussels attack, and there's likely to be a similar response in major cities here in the u.s. we're in washington following that part of the story. jeff good morning first question however, any increased level of threat attacks here in the u.s.? >> well, no. according to u.s. officials that we've contacted this morning there is no threat against the u.s., and the u.s. posture remains the same at this time. the state department is still assessing whether there are any americans injured in these attacks, and u.s. officials are tracking the situation in belgium, and they're trying to assist where needed as they always do in cases like this. there has been enhanced cooperation since last
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november's attacks in paris, and coordination is primarily in sharing intelligence to help track suspects down. and we're going to see that again in this situation. expect to see stepped up security here at home today. it's a precautionary show of force in places like new york city where police are now stationed in front of the belgian consulate in manhattan this morning. the nypd is ramping up security on mass transit around city landmarks, as well. bridges and tunnels. when it comes to the d.c. metro system, it is, we're told there are standard response to increased security and visibility of police following an attack like this. even if it happens overseas as it did this morning. there are no reported threats to the u.s. at this time, as i mention, and the terror alert level has not been increased. and by the way, tsa administrator landed in brussels this morning. he is safe, we're told the department of homeland security works closely with major airports across europe, and we suspect that's why he was there
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in belgium today. the airport in brussels is not a major u.s. airline hub in europe, but some u.s. companies are concerned for their employees, as you might imagine. the airport attack was located in the check-in area reportedly near the american airlines area. american airlines has released a statement this morning saying, in part, all of our employees and contractors are accounted for with no reported injuries. delta and united airlines also issued statements this morning saying their employees are safe. some flights have been diverted to other airports, to amsterdam, for example, and upcoming flights to brussels have been suspended. gayle? >> all right thank you very much. cbs news senior security contributor michael morale is a former cia deputy director he's in washington. and juan is with us from salt lake city. good morning to you. michael i want to start with you first. we had a statement from the
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belgian prime minister who says what we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks. can we call these blind attacks when they were on a heightened security alert? and that this comes three days after the arrest of abdeslam? where they said they were expecting more attacks? >> i had two reactions to what happened this morning. one is, it's a reflection of how large -- how compartmented, how sophisticated the isis terrorist capability is in europe. after the first attack the investigation showed that these individuals had sophisticated bombmakers. they had bombmaking locations. they used cell phones individually, one at a time, so they couldn't be tracked. they had forgery capabilities to use passports to move back and forth between syria and iraq in europe, so very sophisticated capability. that's part of what you saw today. the other, i think, is the fact
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that this -- this particular attack, i believe, was something that they had in train, something that they had worked out that they accelerated given the arrest of salah abdeslam last friday. he was probably aware of this. they were probably concerned that he was going to talk to authorities, and they moved this up. those are the two things that struck me this morning. >> michael, what does it tell you, too, about their choice of attacks. the train station and the airport? >> they want to attack places where they create the most fear. right? so where people congregate, where people congregate every day and go about their daily lives, at airports and in subways is the perfect place for them to conduct an attack because it creates the most fear. >> juan zarate, why are belgium and france such shot spots right now? >> well, gayle, you have long-standing pockets of radicalization outside of paris,
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outside of brussels. we focused a lot at cbs on the molenbeek neighborhood. these are decades worth of radical individuals who've been drawn to some form of the ideology that isis is now espousing. the problem, of course, now, gayle, is you have the isis accelerant. isis is now motivating actors, and as mike indicated, now training them in sophisticated ways of operating. training them in syria and iraq, then deploying them back. the one thing that's shocking to me is that you've had in the wake of the paris attacks, yet another sophisticated, coordinated attack right under the noses of european authorities, when they understood that there were these plots unfolding, and networks that were planning attacks. keep in mind, gayle, that belgian authorities had shut down the subway in november of last year precisely because they were worried about this kind of an attack. >> one brussels transit spokesman is now saying that the
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casualties at the metro station are 15 dead and 55 injured. that again is just at the metro station. this does not include the casualties at the airport. this attack happened in brussels, juan, but the french president this morning said the whole of europe has been hit. is he right? >> he's absolutely right. and the french have talked about the fact that they feel that they're at war. and these are scenes that are reminiscent of a wartime environment. unfortunately. and this is a problem for europe-wide. a problem for counterterrorism and intelligence officials who have to share information to understand these networks that are operating across borders rather fluidly. pockets of radicalization, all of these countries that are contributing to the potential threat, and certainly a problem moving forward as authorities try to ferret out other cells and activities that may be a threat not just in brussels, but in places like france and the uk.
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and so this is a europeanwide problem and u.s. authorities are going to try to do everything to help, and certainly to try to uncover what may be unfolding in the coming days. >> all right juan zarate, thank you so much. now let's bring in a reporter at politico europe who was outside the maalbeek train station when the explosion started and joins us now on the phone. tell us what you heard. >> so i was actually outside of the station after the explosions started. not quite at the time that it happened in the aftermath. i saw people being taken out of the station and being put down outside of the station on the main street in brussels that cuts through the brussels quarter, the european quarter. they were being covered in sheets. it was very difficult for police and ambulances and fire trucks to get through because of a traffic jam. rue de la waue is a one-way
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street and it was actually chaotic in getting help to the wounded. there were people milling around outside of the station. they had been moved on one side of the station around about 15 to 20 meters back and were filming what was happening. it was a chaotic scene. i don't know if people realized what had happened at that point. and now the street has been cleared. it's not being accessed by traffic except emergency services, and people are still walking around, still allowed to get around in the center of town but they're not allowed close to the station. >> victoria, it really took everybody off guard. you said you had warning from your employer, because after they had had the report from the airport you were told do not get on the metro. but most people did not know that. is that correct? >> it seems to be the case. the metro was not shut down. it was not -- at least for the first probably around 45 to 50 minutes the metro was still
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running, the trains were still running so people were catching public transport. we decided, made a decision within my reporting team to try and avoid the metro at all costs because we thought that it was not entirely unforeseeable that there would be another attack and if it was going to come it would come in this area because this is the area where all of the eu politicians are. >> there were reports that after the attack at the metro station sometime later there were controlled explosions, likely set off by the police. did you hear those? >> yes, we are hearing that, that there was some suspicious packages found in the vicinity of the european quarter, and elsewhere around brussels. we hear that there were controlled explosions, there have been, i believe, unconfirmed reports at this point of several explosions, in fact. >> zoya, how would you describe the atmosphere on the treat? >> right now i think people are a little bit shocked. it's not like we didn't see this coming because this has been
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happening within europe for awhile now. the terror attacks have been coming more and more frequently it seems. certainly in brussels, given that we had the brussels lockdown and the heightened terror level around about november when the paris attacks happened. people are in shock that this happened unlike previous brussels attacks the targets were very much a broader stroke of targets. so people at the airport, people on trains. i think people are shocked that this is finally seeming to get the average, everyday belgian, as well as the people who may for example, journalists and others who have been attacked in previous cases. >> to affect and scare the average everyday person. what can you tell us about the area where this happened? >> the area of maalbeek where the train was actually -- the train blast occurred is in the
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center of tune. it is where the european institutions, the european commission and the european council are located one stop away from those places. within roughly a 500 meter walk. on the other side of rue de la loi is the center where the u.s. embassy is. there are several embassies around the station. so this is right in the heart of the quart er where you've got diplomats, eu folks in general. so it really is the heart of the european quarter of brussels. it very much was meant to target the people who work in the eu institution. >> a very important point, the eu has been critical in terms of the refugee crisis. nato has been critical in terms of the fight against isis and terrorism. we should also note as zoya has been pointing out the level of shock and concern and now what will be a fierce response from
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european governments. at this hour the french prime minister saying we are at war. we have been subjected for the last few months in europe to acts of war. so, europe clearly after the attacks in november, in france, 130 people dead. this morning now, it has spread to belgium, with reports of at least 21 people killed at this hour. dozens wounded. 11 dead at the airport. and 10 dead at a metro station. we are continuing to follow this breaking news here at cbs news. >> you had the french president saying we are at war. but you have the belgian prime minister also saying we feared what has happened. we were hit by blind attacks. which is raising many questions this morning, considering that this attack happened days after the arrest of abdeslam, and they feared, authorities had feared that there were going to be more attacks, and the country was on high alert. >> let me bring michael back in. with all that's happened today, where did security forces --
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security and investigators go from here in terms of dealing with isis? how does this -- how does this change what they do? >> let's look at this objectively, anthony. isis' goal is two fold. one is to maintain their safe haven in iraq and syria, spread their ideology, spread their caliphates to other parts of the world. and then secondly, to conduct attacks in the west that create fear, possibly to drive us out of the middle east. that's -- those are the two things they want to do. if you look at the first one, we're having some success shrinking their caliphate in iraq and syria, but they are growing rapidly in the west of the world. probably have more territory today, around the world, than they did at any time. and, they've conducted now attacks in paris, san bernardino, and now in brussels. so, i would say they're winning,
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right? they're winning, and we're going to have to find additional approaches to try to undermine them. >> all right michael thank you so much. we're going to have much more ahead on this morning's brussel terror attacks. right now however we're going to take a break for your local news.
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cbs cares. "cbs this morning" continues in a moment. i'm anne-marie greene with a look beyond this morning's headlines. pope francis made his debut on instagram just in time for palm sunday. allen pizzey reports. >> reporter: pope francis abandoned his prepared palm sunday text to compare what he called indifference to migrants and refugees arriving in europe to those who washed their hands of jesus ahead of his crucifixion. making use of the wider audience the special day provided is typical francis. and this weekend he embraced another way to reach out, instagram. a sign-up he called beginning a new journey. he picked up 1 million followers in 12 hours. the pope already tweets in nine languages, including latin, to more than 25 million followers. he doesn't type his own tweets.
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usually quotes in his speeches but approves every one. his instagram pictures will be chosen by a senior media adviser according to deputy vatican spokesman greg burke. >> you're not going to see pope francis with a selfie stick here saying welcome to my home. but he knows how that can be important. he knows the importance of getting the image out. >> pope francis is the second most followed world leader on twitter behind president obama. there's a certain irony to the leader of an institution that generally addresses change at a glacial pace having an online following that would be the answer to the most fervent prayers of those celebrities who measure their words in social media hits. and this for a man who labels social media both mental pollution and a gift of god. it's one of the great enigmas of this pope. >> the way he acts. the way he talks. the way he reaches out to people, is a great, great change. and the papacy will never be the same. >> reporter: but he still hasn't
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made a major impact on church reform or the sex abuse scandal, catholic writer robert micken says. >> i think he's been given a pass on this because he's been such a wonderful, inspiring figure. but we're now in the fourth year of the pontificate and i think he's got to address this or it could very much damage his pontificate. >> reporter: and it will take more than the common touch and record breaking numbers on social media. allen pizzey, cbs news, vatican city. >> "cbs this morning" continues next. i'm anne-marie greene.
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griego. breaking news in brussel good morning, everyone.
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i'm frank mallicoat. >> i'm michelle griego. we're following breaking news in brussels where at least 21 people were killed this morning in a explosions at an airport and a busy metro station. all flights into brussels have been canceled and public transit throughout the city is on hold. >> we're going to keep you updated all through the morning as information comes in. >> reporter don champion reports reporter: moments after the deadly explosion, people could be seen running through a smoky hall inside brussels airport. at least two explosions one reportedly carried out by a suicide attacker rocked the departure hall just after 8 a.m. local time. >> several exits closed down, all the luggage stays here. >> reporter: afterwards airport workers led passengers to the tarmac outside the airport. >> walked through a mess, a load of stuff, glass, smoke, water dripping from the ceiling. we had to walk through puddles and we


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