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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 29, 2009 4:00pm-7:00pm EST

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>> you think this is being orchestrated by mr. james? >> no, i don't think it's being orchestrated by mr. james. >> you think he's that powerful? >> i think mr. james is using his power po bombard the regents and administration to take action or he was going to break the story. >> mr. liggett, my thanks to you. i'm glad we were able to get your side on the air. i understand you'll be filing some paperwork now to make sure your coach can coach at the alamo bowl. we'll be following it. one against my thanks. suzanne malveaux is in "the situation room." happening now, the evidence again the suspect in the failed airline bombing. we have new information and how the u.s. is going to try to get justice. we're assistantsing by to hear from president obama himself.
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plus airline passengers exposed to revealing body scans, very revealing. does national security now trump individual privacy? we're going to show you exactly how it works. president obama's new year's resolution. he has a lot to do. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm suzanne malveaux, and you're in "the situation room." first, this hour the worldwide investigation into america's closest brush with airline terror in years. president obama is about to give the nation an update on that investigation, and right now we want to go to our homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve. what have we been learning today, new information about the suspect and how close he was to carrying out this attack? >> we've lind there's a bit of a hiccup in the investigation. the forensics continue on the bum that was cleverly concealed.
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the initiator assembly was a plastic syringe with a plastic film-like material. an fbi bulletin said preliminary it it had the presence of ethylene glycol, but a law infersment source says they have having trouble conclusively concluded that was the substance, because the syringe was pretty much destroyed when the suspect tried to light his bomb on fire. a former counterterrorism expert says it may make it more difficult to determine who exactly made this bomb. >> it does create a bit of a problem to figure out the work-back to figure out what these guys are up to. by contrast, on the landmines being used in afghanistan and iraq, the department of defense, and with the department of justice, they developed a very good system of being ability to bring the explosives back within
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24 hours to identify who's doing what. >> legal experts say even if scientists are not able to determine what was in the syringe it should not affect the legal case against abdulmutallab, because they have the rest of the bombs, the suspect's statements, and witnesses. a person familiar with the investigation says that none of the videotapes that have been reviewed by law enforcement have provided anything useful to the investigation. they were either started after the event, or the view was blocked. and the president will obviously being given statements within moments to give an update. i understand you have information that there's a meeting that is taking place right now. can you share a bit of details? >> sources tell me that homeland security secretary janet in napolitano is at this hour meeting with some high-profile
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security experts at the headquarters including former dhs stewart baker and fran tounzen, we don't know the agenda, but they've been summoned up there. >> thank you, jeanne. a dramatic new security move at the airports in canada now. no carry-on luggage is allowed on the flights. canada is limited carry-ones to items such as small purses, baby bags, cameras, coats, that kind of thing, in direct response to the failed terror attack on the northwest airlines flight. ed henry is joining us now. we are waiting comments from president obama. >> ed is in hawaii woi with the president. do you have a sense of what he's going to say, ed?
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>> reporter: what's happening is aides initially suggested we may not heard from the president after hearing from him yesterday. in the last hour we're getting a heads-up he will be speaking in the next few moments and people scrambling so quickly. ayou noted we won't have a livid i don't signal, but live audio, and then we'll get the videotape back to where we are here in honolulu in about 45 minutes or an hour. it gives you a sense of how quickly this is being thrown together. all the guidance is the president wants to give the american people an update on the reviews that the administration is currently conducting. one into the various watch lists whether the protocols need to be changed, wondering how a person in the database was able to get onto a plane, and secondly how he was able to get explosives onto a plane.
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we're being told the aides are saying the president will not announce a new policy, will not come out with new security guidelines or anything, but just wanted to update. i pressed the white house aide, is he coming out so quickly because of the criticism he's facing about not coming out sooner, maybe not connecting the dots, to prevent this suspect from getting on the plane. i was told that would be a misread, but he just wants to update the american people. we'll wait and see exactly what he says. >> obviously the complaints that the obama administration isn't sharing crucial information about terror investigations with members of congress. i spoke yesterday with the ranks republican on the house intelligence commit aye, peter hoekstra, and asked him about the briefings he was getting. here's how he responded. >> that's one of the most frustrating things over the last seven weeks. we've not been getting information on the attack at ft. hood.
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we haven't been get information on the d.c. five that were arrested in pakistan and no new information over the last 48 hours on the events and certains surrounding the christmas day attack. >> who do you want to hear from, from the administration? >> i want to hear from the director of national intelligence. i was in washington yesterday. i asked for the latest intelligence, the latest briefings. i was denied access to that information. >> what did they tell you? >> the dni has to open up. >> what did they say? >> they say there's an ongoing criminal investigation they're not prepared to share information with congress, all unacceptable answers. it's their responsibility to keep us currently and fully informed. they're not doing that. >> i want to bring back in ed. covering the bush administration, that was a similar criticism about president bush. the democrats were not getting information in a timely matter. senator hoekstra very
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frustrated. how do they deal with this? >> reporter: well, suzanne, we did some digging on that today. in fact, white house officials are insists that congressman hoekstra was briefed on christmas day, the same day as the terror attack, so they're confused to why he's making this an issue. i then went back and said, were you briefed? i have a specific name. we're told by the white house that the congressman was briefed by john brennan, who is the president's principal homeland security adviser. congressman hoekstra's office confirmed yes, he did have a conversation with john brennan at the white house, but they're claiming it was a brief conversation, did not get a lot of information, so they're saying it's not a briefing of republicans, just a conversation. so you're right to point to the bush years. this is feeling a lot like that, in that now all the of these accusations are going back and forth so quickly, that they can't even agree on who's being briefed. they're insisting it's just a conversation, not a briefing. it gets ridiculous after a while
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the back and forth, but i can tell you as well we're learning from white house officials that as early as tomorrow, the next few days, they say lawmakers on capitol hill will get another briefing from john brennan or other officials to get an update. congressman hoekstra's office keeps insisting in recent days before this incident on the various cases he discussed with you what they get is very limited. they want more information so they can get a better sense of what's happening. >> we're going to get back to you, ed, very shortly with the radio statement as soon as it becomes available. there is also a new push for airline passengers to undergo full body scans. it's controversial, this technology might discover hidden bombing before a terrorist can actually strike, but at what cost. we're going to show you how it works, talk about the price as well as the controversial privacy issues. i'm going to press a top
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spokesman from yemen about the suspect and his alleged links in yemen. the international custody battle over union shawn goldman. it may not be over. there's a new threat to his reunion with his dad. (announcer) we understand. you want time to enjoy the holidays.
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we are standing by to hear from president obama. new comments on the detroit violation. we're going to bring that to you as soon as it happens. the failed bombing of a
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northwest airlines jet. it puts the spot light on a new front on the line on the war of terror, that is yemen. al qaeda claims that the attack was in retaliation for alleged american strikeness yemen, and the government of yemen has confirmed that the suspect umar farouk abdulmutallab visited the country earlier this year. joins me now is mohammed al basha. thank you for joining us. we have a million questions for you. >> thank you for have been me. >> abdulmutallab he was in your country some time ago. what does the government know about his activities? what was he doing? did you have your sights on him? >> yes. he arrived the latest time was in august, 2009. he attended a language program, it's not a suspicious school. before that, he was in yemen between 2004 and 2005. i don't have the specific dates.
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the investigation is evolving by the minute, as you know. umar, according to the questionings carried on today by his classmates and administrative officials of the school, he was a friendly person, did not ring any alarm bells. >> no terrorist ties or network to al qaeda that the yemeni government knew about? >> we were not informed by any foreign agency that he was a member of any terrorist organization or any foreign entities that would make us think he was a suspect. >> some are suggesting that yemen now has such a serious problem with al qaeda that it is the third front in the war on terror, perhaps a third war even. how does your government see it? >> we acknowledge that we have a serious problem with al qaeda, and we've been addressing this problem way before it became a global issue. since 1992, we've been fighting. i call it the long war. al qaeda, we've been conducting strikes against them since that
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day, unfortunately, especially this year, with yemen's economic situation, we have -- oil price versus dropped, we have losses of 65% of oil revenue, in addition to that, 75% of the population is under the age of 25. furthermore, we also have 35% unemployment. so we're stripped for cash and fighting al qaeda. we see -- we continue to ask our international community to support us. >> tell us about the u.s. role. clearly there were strikes against al qaeda very recently, some members of al qaeda that were killed. did the u.s. lead in those air strikes and ground operations? >> the 17th of december operation, the 24th of december operation, were operations that the yemeni government is responsible for. we have the capabilities and we have the responsibility to defend our homeland. >> what were the u.s. roles? planes or boots on the ground involved? >> the u.s. has been supporting yemen since 9/11, training our
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forces, we have a strong intelligence corporation, but again the last operations and all the operations this year were carried on by yemeni forces. >> what about the u.s. role? how robust was the u.s. role? were there airplanes and soldiers involved? >> again, this was an operation carried on by the yemeni government. >> you cannot answer that question, i'm assuming? >> i think that was a straightforward answer. >> what about abdulmutallab? did he act alone? was he part of a terrorist cell? as he said, there are 20 more like him in yemen. what does the government know about the people behind him allegedly? >> the estimates for al qaeda operatives in yemen is between 200, 300 operatives in yemen. we're not sure yet what's his link? i think the al qaeda statement that came out recently saying that this is an attack in retaliation for what happened the 17th and 24th of december is
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unfounded, because we know that he bought the ticket a few days after that -- before that, so there's no link for the time being. >> so you don't believe the statement that al qaeda is connect to do abdulmutallab's attack there? >> they're going to benefit, whether there was a link or not. >> so it's propaganda from what you're saying? >> most likely. we've seen a lot of those statements from afghanistan and iraq, too. from the time being, we knew he attended school in yemen, and one of the morphs he was visiting we've been surveying and questioning some of the people there to see whether he has links or not. >> i want to press you on this point here, obviously the u.s. government does work with the yemen government as well as the president in taking on al qaeda. that relationship has strengthsened, but yet i talked with fran townsend, under the bush administration, she says she does not believe your leadership in the yemen government is really serious about going after al qaeda. i want you to listen to what she
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said. >> we pushed during the bush administration salah and his government very hard. there have been numerous attacks. there was a huge prison break. they have been unreliable partners, inconsistent. >> what assurances can you give us that the. of yemen is really serious about going after al qaeda? >> i think this frustrates a lot of the yemeni people i. first and foremost, because al qaeda is targeting us before they're targeting anybody else. we started this war in 1992, we're losing blood on the ground, yemenis are losing blood. the embassy attack people are talking about in 2008, we have lost eight brave soldiers that protected the exterior barrier of the embassy. the escape of 2006, that people are talking about, 20 were detained and kilt, three are still at large. make no mistake, we'll hunt them
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down. >> one more time, there are some senators who are calling for a preempt tiff military strike in yemen, they say that's the only way to go after al qaeda. does the government agree that that is a good idea? >> what i hope to hear from the senators and congress and officials here in washington is they're going to commit long term to help yemen in development assistance to provide us with the necessary equipment from helicopters, tactical equipment, and vehicles to aid our efforts to combat terrorism. we're in this together to the end of the road. >> preempt tiff military strike would not be something the yemen government would approve? >> absolutely not. >> thank you so much. >> thank you so much for having me. a near disaster aboard an airliner on christmas, tens of thousands of screeners on fresh alert. the nomination of a new administrator is still unconfirmed. what's the holdup? i'm going to ask the senator who engineered the delay. and a building comes crashing down in turkey with deadly consequences.
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we're standing by to hear from president obama. in the meantime, brook baldwin is monitoring other top stories in "the situation room." what are you working on? >> imagine this story out of istanbul, turkey, the ceilings just collapsed.
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an official says concrete blocks just collapsed. one man was rescued. it happened in a low-income neighborhood. the brazilian family of a 9 years old boy says they will fight to regain custody. sean goldman was returned last week after a five-year custody battle. lawyers say they will proceed with the brazilian grandmother's requests that sean's wishes be heard. the supreme court has not issued a final ruling the the court reconvened in february. an alaska judge is refusing to keep a bitter legal battle over sarah palin's grandchild confidential. her daughter is seeking sole custody of her baby's son with former boyfriend, you notice the name, levi johnston. palin asked the judge to close the proceedings, saying the case could turn into a media circus, but the judge denying that
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request, siding with johnston. johnston pushed to keep this case open. he obviously is asking for shared custody. the whole thing playing out in public. >> thank you, brook. they can see right through your clothing to everything, and i mean everything underneath. our cnn's brian todd is shows us the admittedly intrusive. also ahead, he's been accused of putting the traveling public in danger with husband stalling tactics. i'm going to ask the senator why he put conversation of a new tsa chief on hold and what they thinks of democrats' plans to overright him.
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we are standing by to hear from president obama, new comments on the detroit investigation. we're going to bring it to you as soon as it happens. you are in "the situation room." happening right now, a gap in the defense against terrorism. despite warnings from his own father, the suspect in last week's failed attack was allowed back into in country. how policy on visas might change that. and security versus privacy. how far should airport screeners go to keep us safe?
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wolf blitzer is off today, i'm suzanne malveaux, and you're in "the situation room." we want to go straight to ed henry in whole with the president. the latest statement going to be released moments ago. give us a sense of what we expect to hear from the president today. >> reporter: what white house aides are high dpp lighting most of all is they expect the president to give an update of the two reviews. here he is. >> the increased screening and security of air travel to keep our country safe in the way of the attempted terrorist attack on christmas day. i announced two reviews. a review of our terrorist watch list system and review of our air travel screening so we can figure ute what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks. the reyous began on sunday and
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are now under way. earlier today, i issued the former guidelines for those reviews and directed the preliminary findings be forwarded to the white house by this thursday. it's essential we diagnose the problems quickly and dpeel with them immediately. the more comprehensive formal reviews and recommendations for improvement will be completed in the coming weeks. i'm committed to working with congress, our intelligence, law infersment and homeland security communities to take all necessary steps to protect the country. i wanted to speak to the american people again today, because some of this preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns. it's been widely reported that the father of the suspect warned u.s. officials in africa about his son's extremist views. it now a epps that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed so to
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get the suspect's name on a no-fly list. there appears to be other deficiencies as well. even without this one report there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. we've achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information, but it's becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have. had this critical information been shared, this could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. the warnings signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for america. now, the professionalism of the men and women in our intelligence, counterterrorism, law enforcement and homeland security communities is extraordinary.
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they were some of the most hard-working, most dedicated americans i have ever met. in pursuit of our security at home they risk their lives day in and day out. few americans see their work, but all americans are safer because of their successes. they have targeted and taken out violent extremists, disrupted plots and saved countless american lives. they are making real and daily progress in our mission to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al qaeda and other extremist networks around the world. for this, every american owes them a profound and lasting debt of gratitude. moreover, as secretary napolitano has said. once the suspect attempted to take down the flight, after his attempt, it's appear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions. but what's also clear is this -- when our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not
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shared and acted upon, as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could have cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred, and i consider that totally unacceptable. the reviews i've ordered will surely tell us more, but what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security. we need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system, because our security is at stake and lives are at stake. i fully understand that even when every person charged with ensuring our security does what they are trained to do, even when every system works exactly as intended, there's still no 100% guarantee of success. yet this should only compel us to work even harder, to be even more innovative and relentless in our efforts.
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i will do everything in my power to support men and women to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to keep america safe, but it's also my job to ensure our intelligence, law. >> announcer:ment and homeland security systems and the people in them are working effectively and held accountable. i intend to fulfill that responsibility, and insist on accountability at every level. that's the spirit guiding our reviews into the attempted attack on christmas day. that's the spirit that will guide all our efforts in the days and years ahead. thank you very much. just to recap, for those of you joining us, the president wrapping up, saying essentially there are two reviews under way, one for the terrorist watch list, another for airport screening. he was mincing no words, taking full responsibility, the administration, says this was a systemic failure as well as human failure that led to, in his words, a catastrophic breach of security that, of course, would impact security and that
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there were also lives at stake. so clearly the administration trying to wrap its appears around this, taking responsibility for this, saying as well that there are going to be a deadline that, in two days, he says this thursday he wants preliminary results from these two different investigations, these reviews, on what took place, what went wrong, and perhaps moving forward what could happen next. i want to bring in our ed henry who's with the president in hawaii. ed, it's not surprising this president put a deadline there. they likes to use deadlines, get people motivated and things moving very quickly. we know he's got people in place, including secretary napolitano meeting with others today and the days to come, to at least give preliminary findings in the next couple days, 48 hours. >> reporter: that's right, some republicans are calling for
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napolitano's to resign. what strikes me most is this president was so direct in saying, as you noted, there was a systemic failure that occurred, and also he says there needs to be, quote, accountability at every level. i think clearly this is the kind of statement that perhaps the. 's critics were expecting days ago, not today. clearly we did not hear from his homeland security secretary on sunday, that there had been mistakes, that there needed to be accountability, and also in his own statement yet, while the president was speaking more generally, he was not as strong as he was today, so that's significant. the other thing i would point to is how he is trying to personally stay above the political fray. we noted a short time ago there's been this back and forth about who is wrong, who is being briefed. you have congressman peter hoekstra saying he was not briefed. he was in fact briefed by john
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brennan on christmas day, and members going after hoekstra, because he sent out a fund-raising appeal for his campaign on this plane incident, saying if the policies -- le calls it the obama/pelosi weak-kneed policies are put in place, the country's security will be in jeopardy. i spoke to the campaign spokesman, he said look, no bones about it, he's already raising money, no contributions have come in, so you can see the political game being played out. >> i want to bring in candy crowley to talk about some of that politics. the president did acknowledge there were bits of information that were not shared that should have been shared, that this was a catastrophic breach of security here. what do you suppose the voters are looking for, when you you say 2010, how do you think they'll see the obama administration in ranking him in
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dealing with this attempt. >> i think the back and forth whether he should have come out in the first couple hours, and not coming out until yet pretty much goes away. it now becomes what did the president do? i totally agree with ed. what's happened is the president has come out fortsfully. it's reminiscent just giving that message to the american people he was on the job. i think the fact that we have seen him for two days in a row is the white house recognizing this is perhaps more important the safety, the american people perhaps more important suzanne, than job. it wouldn't take much to up security moms who were so important in 2000 and 2004. what voters judge is sort of the record. it won't be about today or tomorrow, but then what did he do?
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>> president bush relied on those security moms to get reelected because there was so much concern about a terrorist attack following 9/11. >> nothing more important that is your safety. it's one of the key things that the federal government is charged with. >> caped we'll be back very shortly. as the u.s. beefs up security, there's new interest in technology that allows full body scans of passengers. we're going to run through how they work and why some don't like them very much. new information about the american captured by north korea, a family's worst fears may be realized. (announcer) we understand. you need to save money.
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right now get a free 3g/4g device for your laptop. sprint. the now network. deaf, hard-of-hearing and people with speech disabilities access a spokesman for senate majority leader harry reid says he'll try to force the vote on the nominationer roll southers. the nomination is currently on hold for debate. the senate is quickly becoming a heated battleground over the agency that's charged with protecting u.s. ports. once again here's cnn's homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve with the very latest. >> reporter: 50,000 transportation security officers screen, inspect, question and observe at the nation's airports to keep dangerous people and items off planes. senator jim demint believes giving these bargaining
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collective rights to -- >> it would standardize things, much less flexible vgs much harder for the agency to adapt to changing threats around the world. >> reporter: harder, for instance, to react to something like the xmts day bombing attempt or the 2006 plot to blow up airplanes with liquid explosives. within hours of learning of that, the tsa ramped up security and temporarily banned carry-on liquids. the union representing 12,000 tsos, says demint's argument is rubbish, pointing out that employees of the border control, immigration and customs enforcement, federal protective service and others all have full union represent aches. >> no one talked about it when the cops and the firefighters went up the stairs at 9/11 at the world trade towers. no once talks about our two union members who took down the shooter at ft. hood. there was nothing in that you
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are membership that stopped them from doing their duties. >> reporter: barack obama wrote the union that giving tsos a bargaining right would be a priority. >> it's all about politics action payback to the unions. >> reporter: demint pushed the issue. >> how can bargaining rights enhance security at the airports. >> senator, the answer is collective bargaining and security are not mutually exclusive concepts. >> reporter: demint is holding up the confirmation of erroll southers to make his point, though he's been noncommittal on the issue, telling demint he wouldn't recommend mission that would compromise the safety and security of the flying public. >> i think the nominee understands the confirmation process and he doesn't want to say anything controversial, but ultimately once he's confirmed it's not going to be his choice. it's going to be the choice of the secretary and ultimately the
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choice of the president. the president's made it clear where he stands. >> senate majority leader harry reid now says that if senator demint hasn't changed his mind by the time the senate comes back in mid-january, he will take steps to hold an up-or-down vote on the southers nomination. jeanne meserve, cnn, washington. joining mess from gripeville, south carolina to talk about the access surrounding southers' nomination is senator demint. thank you for joining us. you heard jeanne meserve's report. clearly harry reid will be tracking this as soon as they return from the break. what would be your response, if any? >> we, he could have done that months ago. unfortunately the president has been downplaying the threat of terrorism since he took office. he waited eight months to even nominate someone for this position, and then he wanted him approved with no debate or no vote. the only thing i've asked for is limited debate and a recorded
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vote. senator reid could have done that months ago, but the fact is they've been working on other things and have not seen airport security as a priority. >> well, clearly they're working on the senate health care reform bill, which is obviously a big, big task ahead, as you can acknowledge, but coming back, is there anything you're going to do to counter this motion he's going to filed to cut off debate? >> well, i think the american people should be aware that the priority of the administration is to submit our airport security to collective bargaining with the unions, even though that's been prohibited since the agency was formed. the reason it's prohitted is the same reason for the cia, the secret service, the fbi, the coast guard, is there's a constant need to adjust and to be flexible, to use imagination to change things. we cannot ask a third-party union boss whether or not we can move a screener from one state to another. >> i want you to respond to --
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this represents 12,000 of the tsa's merely 12,000 officers. they say this is not an issue of security, there's no evidence that labor rights have any effect on transportation security officers. this is a dedicated workforce who see their jobs as important to the security of the nation. they point to union members who both acted after 9/11 in the ft. hood massacre as well, that these were union members, firefighters, police officers, who essentially acted very quickly and that it doesn't really -- your argument doesn't hold water here. >> well, my beef is not with union members, but with union bosses and the collective bargaining process. >> the union boss you were interviewing used the customs and border security as an example. we do have 12 million undocumented aliens in our country, and that agency has also had to deal with all kinds of charges of changing prices for parking.
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they're dealing with the collective bargaining of unions all the time, and not as effective as they should be, but there's a reason that collective bargaining was prohibited from the airport security. it is very different from a local police department. they're having to deal with international threats as we saw on christmas day. they have to constantly be changing, and there is no reason, no good security reason that we should submit this to collective bargaining. all it is is politics. the president promised the unions he would bring these 50,000 people into a union and it doesn't make any sense for security. >> senator, i want to turn the corner, if i may. there are a lot of politics being played out over the president's response to this attempted terror attack. you've been have i critical cal of the obama administration in terms of his response, but he's come out twice now, and the president said very clearly it was a systemic failure, human failure and a catastrophic breach of security.
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are you satisfied that the president, his administration is stepping up here and taking responsibility? >> well, that frankly is good news, is that the president, while other democrats are trying to find someone to blame for this, at least the president is saying it is the responsibility of his administration. my hope is that he'll change his focus from politics to real security. there's no reason that we should be focusing the attention of our homeland security agency and airport secure on collective bargaining with union bosses when we need to be upgrading to deal with threats all over the world. again, there is no security reason for collective bargaining right now. >> thank you, senator, for joining us in "the situation room." clearly come back in january, we'll see how this debate plays out whether or not there will be a debate. tang you very much, senator. >> thank you. well, his inauguration signaled a change in the face of american leadership.
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as his first year in office winds down, has president obama's election bridged the racial divide. iran's government takes a harder line than ever, as it tries to swell much antigovernment protests in the streets. its message -- no mercy.
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president obama is blaming a mix of human and systemic failure for allowing a would-be terrorist to board a u.s. airliner. in his stronger statement to date on the incident, mr. obama called the incident totally unacceptable and promised swift action. our democratic strategist jamal simmons and republican strategist kevin madden. i want to play a bit of what we hear just moments ago from hawaii. >> it's clear that passengers and crew, homeland security and
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aviation security took all appropriate actions, but what's always clear is this -- when our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon, as it should have been so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could have cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred. i consider that totally unacceptable. >> are you satisfied with the obama statement that he's taking responsibility? >> one of the criticisms that the president got initially was that he tried to tell the american people he was concerned about this incident. one of the most important aspects of being president is going beyond just telling the american public. i think with another statement, the second in two days, the president is now taking steps to show the american public he's very concerned, that the administration is taking swift, resolute steps to deal with what they think is a problem. >> jamal you said yesterday you
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had hoped he would speak in the 24 hours. are you satisfied now? >> i think so, but this is a process. it's not something when you can check the box and move on. the american public needs to hear from the president consistently and the administration and understand that everything is under control. once they lose confidence, it's a tougher thing to regain. right now they have a lot of confidence, the president can settle everybody down, he will keep doing it, i imagine. >> he said this thursday -- i was try to go figure out where are we in the week, in two days he wants preliminary results on his desk from homeland security and other agencies involved. do we expect any real information in such a short period of time, or do you think it's a way of reassuring the public? >> i think the president has set an artificial metric, but one that will at least give people inkrerchtive to start moving and get some answers. also, it's probably designed by the president and his
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administration to sent the message to the american public this is something that's ongoing, a constant search for answers and for an effort to help put in place more rules, more efforts to make sure this doesn't happen again. >> when i was in the clinton administration, i remember when the president would say something on television, it got everybody moving. there's nothing like that lightning bolt from the oval office. i do believe they'll find out something they don't know yet. >> the latest cnn poll showing here, how is he handling his job, and there's a clear difference when it comes to racial lines here. blacks say they approve his job 91%, whites approve 42%. it likely that president obama going into the next year and all of the challenges he has, particularly when it comes to african-americans, job loss, home loss, can he hang on to
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such a high approval rating? >> i expect he will, but i think what's interesting about the polls, if you look at it, is the trend line among those who have a personal investment in the race. the poll shows 91% of the african-americans support and approve the job the president is doing. when you dig into those numbers, you find the thrill is gone, that some people still feel like he's overpromised and underdelivered. that's probably the most troubling trend line for the president, there seems to be this growing awareness that maybe his policies are not living up to the promises he made as far as people's personal daily lives, even though he still has, among the african-american community, a great deal of personal affection with that population. >> jamal, is the patience going to run out and thing will start to look differently? >> on this, kevin is half-right. there has been a trend line down in terms of what's happening day to day, but overall numbers are up.
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i think people realize he's a human being, and he's been talking about the intricacies of policy, not so much the big, broad, forward-looking things he talked about in the campaign. i think those numbers will hold up steady. he only got 56% of whites -- 46% of whites and now down to 42. not that big of a difference. more on our top story. airline passengers exposed to very reselig body scans. does national security trump individual privacy. we're going to show you exactly how this works. plus the suspect in the failed airline bomb attack may have issued a lonely cry for help online.
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there's a lot of renewed interest right now in adding a new lair of security for airline passengers. it is called full body scans. our brian todd is in arlington, virginia, at a company that makes these scanners, and he tikes a look.
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>> reporter: according to an intelligence bulletin, the suspect in the christmas day incident umar farouk abdulmutallab, allegedly carried a device sewn into any underwear, anatomically congruent with a male organ. the question is how did he get past screening with that. whatever primary screening he may have had clearly didn't detect it. would secondary screening have detected that? that's why we're here. we're tess offices of rapiscan, they're the manufacturers of the security 1000. it's back scatter technology, essentially an x-ray machine that can see through clothing. can it detect something like that explosive? i'm going to run you through a screening of this. i'm going to hold this package of paper after my midsection for
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mod citi purposes. i do have a liquid container and knife concealed on my persons, and with the help of officials, they're going to take us through a screening. i'm going to first step into a machine here. you can hear it screening me. . just seconds after i step out my image comes up, you can see what i've got concealed. that's clearly a knife right here. what dan is going to do, he's going to identify that item. that's a bottle of nail polish remover. he's also identified the knife here on the back. what dan will do, the idea is he puts it on to an avatar figure, a person in a separate screening room from, identifies this
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material, bakley pinpoints where it is. that comes up on avatar figures at the actual screening location. they tell that person right there to look at these areas of the person's body for any potential weapons. the question, again, could this technology have picked up that weapon that umar farouk abdulmutallab allegedly had sewn into thinks underwear? we asked that of peter kant. >> we certainly believe so. the system is designed to detect the differences between they also have mike roar
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wave technology. it can also detect items on someone's person that could be weapons, explosives. he says in rapiscan's opinion that technology is not quite as relight for aviation screening, was aviation threats are more complex and people can high things a bit more easily in aviation on their person. so rapiscan does not recommend millimeter wave technology. however, some companies do use it. some airports do use millimeter wave technology and officials and experts have told us that technology could also have picked up that device on this suspect. >> interesting demonstration. brian is continuing his reporting at rapiscan. we're going to bring you more ahead on our show. happening now, could yemen be the next american target in a growing battle against terrorism? how the united states might retaliation for the failed attempt to blow up an airliner.
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he is a son raised amid privilege. his own apparent internet postings may provide a clue. and there is one screening method that would have been likely to intercept the explosive device used on that airliner, but its a very controversial one. wolf blitz are is office today. i'm suzanne mag rho, and you're in "the situation room." the investigation of last week's botched attempt to blow up an airliner keeping leading back to yemen. president obama had some strong comments moments ago. >> it now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not
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effectively distributed, so to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list. there appears to be other deficiencies as well, even without this one report, there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. we've achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information, but it's becoming clear that the system has been in place for years now is in and out sufficiently up to date to take full advance of the information we collect and knowledge we have. had this critical information been shared, they could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. the warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for america. >> the government there is almost engaged in a stepped-up
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battle and the u.s. is quietly involved in the fight, but is it ready to open a new front against terrorism. we have our correspondent standing by in dubai, but first we want to turn to barbara star. >> reporter: we have spent the day talking to military officials and a number of government sources. here as the bottom line. multiple sources tell us the u.s. military, and yemeni intelligence and security services are now looking at a number of targets in yemen. that if president obama westbound to order a retaliatory strike, they will be ready to go. here's what's so important.
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this is a collaborative effort between the u.s. and yemen. there's a agreement, a very private agreement with the government of yemen that the u.s. would attack only in agreement with the government of president salah in yemen. but here's the problem. the yemeni government doesn't have the capability, officials say, to do very much just yet. no one is talking about they previous air strikes, whether it was the u.s., but all indications now are leading to the fact that the u.s. is playing a very central role in these previous air strikes and is getting ready for possible additional air strikes if they can pinpoint the al qaeda targets, the people, the training camps, the al qaeda facilities that may have been directly responsible for the christmas attack. let me add one interesting item.
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a senior u.s. officials says it is now possible, they're looking into the possibility that this nigerian suspect did train at an al qaeda camp inside yemen. >> do we know how chlorothey are to pinpointing the of targets, so the kind of strike they're talking about can actually happen? is that a long ways away? >> reporter: that's what we don't know, how close they are to make pinpointing who may have been responsible for the attacks. what we can tell you is senior u.s. military and intelligence officials tell us they have identified several camps over the last months in yemen. part of these have been subject to these previous strikes that we've been reporting on over the last several weeks.
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one of key things they're industrial trying to determine is whether they previous air strikes have taken out some of the leadership in yemen or whether they people have basically scattered, gone to ground, and now they have to start over, trying to track them down and find out where they may be hiding out, suzanne. >> barbara, thank you very much. clearly a lot of information there, and obviously the two governments getting much closer to potentially possibly going after al qaeda, and a clear acknowledgement from both governments that was under way. he was a son of a banker, raised with privilege, why would he turn toward extremism? there's a series of internet postings that may provide a clue. steve cole is a former "the washington post" journalist, writing for "the new yorker" and president of the new america foundation. thanks for joining us here. we take a look at the background of abdulmutallab, and he was from a privileged family, very
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highly educated, traveled the world. does this surprise you, the profile that he was the one who was responsible allegedly for this attack? >> it's a common profile, particularly among leadership and the talented sectors of the islamist radical movement, in fact it's the profile of osama bin laden and al zawahiri, both products -- both recruited at a young age into radical teachings, but also privileged to travel the world and start to visualize a world that crossed borders. while the attacker in this case was a much more junior member, like a lot of other suicide bombers before him, he seems to have gone from his home country to another place where he felt dislocated, and became recruited, and then sort of traveled from there into a wider war. >> i want to talk a bit about the dislocation you mention here. he has some postings online here, one very revealing about
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how lonely he was. he said, first of all -- is that typical? >> we've sieve semis narratives in the united states, where people have gone on shooting sprees at university campuses and the stories that got them there. the radical is as complex as a weather system. the push is being away from home, losing your sense of place, and the pull is the teachings and mentorship that some of these islamic organizations try to provide as a substitute for family and culture. >> what struck me are some of the things that seem to normal for a young man his age to be thinking of.
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he was worried about the s.a.t.s, scoring 12 hundred, he wrote in march 2005, it was a disaster. this is a very practical, westernized young man. how does he go from that to becoming potential a suicide bomber? how does that happen? >> it's a mystery. obviously not everyone who worries about the s.a.t. doesn't become a suicide bomber. it's dislocation, away from your own identity and purpose, and to be recruited. the pull part is equally important. once al qaeda groups find a recruit, they train and indoctrinate just as other military organizations do, to try to persuade them it's a righteous act, not an act of personal destruction. it takes time and an environment in which trust is built between trainer and trainee. >> you wrote a book in the 1980s about how al qaeda was born in yemen. that was before this suspect,
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abdulmutallab was even born -- rather, in afghanistan, not yemen. but he wasn't even born when you wrote that book. how is al qaeda different today? how is the new generation different than the one you wrote about in the '80s. there's a change, but not -- young men with a globalize the war has been the strength. but the pilots on the 9/11 planes were themselves similar stories in some cases. a young man raised in egypt goes to schools? yearny, goes to afghanistan, receives training and travels the united states. these are young men who feel comfortable in a globalized culture, but have been radicalized in a doctrine that wants to destroy that culture. >> steve coll, thank you for your insights. the explosive that the suspect allegedly used, why it appeals to terrorists, and why
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security officials are so concerned. plus an international uproar over china's execution of a british man who may have been mentally ill. asier way. create your own business site with intuit websites. just choose a style, then customize, publish and get found. sweet. get a 30-day free trial at
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iran ace hard-line government takes an even harder line, its president today downplayed sometimes deadly antigovernment protests as a play ordered by zionists and americans. it's calling for a harsh
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punishment of opposition leaders and arresting protesters while lashing out at the west for supporting them. our becky anderson has the latest. >> reporter: supporters of iran's government hell rallies on tuesday, demanding the arrest and punishment of opposition protesters, and amid chance of "down with america" iran's parliament speaker also took a hard line. >> translator: the islamic department demands security officials, including the intelligence ministry and judiciary system arrest these blasphemers and consider the harshest sentence without any forgiveness against these people who are antirevolution. >> reporter: iranian news sites reporting that at least a dozen opposition figures have been arrested, and hundreds of protesters. nobel peace laureate sharina says her sister was arrested
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after they had a conversation. she told the a.p. she was warned not to contact me. she is detained for the sake of me. she was need politically active nor had any role. on tuesday, iran's foreign minister shot back. >> translator: they should not get excited about a couple baseless statements made by some countries. if britain does not end its nonsense remarks, it will be slapped in the mouth. >> reporter: a foreign ministry spokesperson announced -- >> translator: some countries have fallen into miscalculation and they prefer to support several thousands who are rioting instead of the cooperation of the big 70 million iranian nation. this is a wrong move and in this regard the british ambassador
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will be summoned today. >> britain's foreign mince try office said he responded robustly and called on iran to respect the human rights of its citizens. becky anderson, cnn. bureaucratic finger pointing as the u.s. government trying to figure out how warnings about the accused bomber were actually warned. plus a chilling attempt at a world record. we have the cold, hard facts. well-informed people are considering chevy malibu. are you a cop? no. you didn't hear it from me,
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but this malibu, it offers better highway mileage than a comparable camry or accord. estimated 33 highway. i saw that on the epa site. so how come the malibu costs so little. it's a chevy. you have cop hair. now during the chevy red tag event, get an '09 malibu with o percent apr for 72 months. see red and save green. now at your local chevy dealer.
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brook baldwin is monitoring the other top stories coming into "the situation room" right now. hey, brook, what are you watching? >> this story out of iraq, at least five people are wounded in a car bombing in eastern baghdad. it is car exploded in a parking lot used by employees of the ministry of transport. the bombing comes after one weekend of attacks against badad and elsewhere. tern in pakistan, officials are pleading for calm as the victims of yesterday's bombing in karachi are buried. security very tight, as thousands of mourners jammed the streets. the attack on the shiite muslim procession killed 43 people and triggered rioting in retaliation. a lot of buzz on this. have you heard about this? after traveling to the southernmost tip of argentina, two men became the very first
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couple to married. they read large red ribbons in solidarity for those living with hiv/vire. you mentioned the cold hard facts. we're calling this the chilly challenge. an israeli magician entered the subzero ice cube in tel aviv today. his gold, to remain inside 64 hours. david blaine performed a similar stunt, you remember this? i was about 10 years ago in new york's times square. he lasted 58 hours. i don't know about you, hang you out in an ice cube not really my thing. brook, i've got to admit, i went to the eye bar in norway, in oslo, and you're only allowed to be there for 45 minutes. then they escort you out. we lasted for 30 minutes. >> they give you those big, thick jackets. >> absolutely.
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all right, thanks, brook. still the flu season, but the centers for disease control and prevention says the spread of h1n1 flu is declining. in the most recent report, only seven states reported widespread flu activity, down from 11 from the previous period. the h1n1 pandemic, no doubt one of the big newsmakers of the year, striking fear, a massive global outbreak all around the world. it began in mexico last spring. back then our chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta actually found the boy who came to be known as patient zero. >> reporter: as the number of cases of swine flu build around the world, everyone has been on the hunt for the source. >> we've long suspected the origin may have been on a pig farm, and now we're headed towards one about two hours north of mexico city. we think we may find where this virus started. we may also find edgar
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hernandez. people he's patient zero, the first patient to contract the virus. it's a village where everyone knows someone. i show edgar's pictures. his name is frederick, and he offers to take me. don't drop me. okay. so after hours of searching and driving, we're finally going to meet the little boy that everyone is calling patient zero. there he is. edgar hernandez, a little 5-year-old boy who got so sick. did you have a headache? >>. [ speaking foreign language ] >> he had a headache and throat. >> reporter: he was brought to this clinic where diagnosed possible as the first case of swine flu of this outbreak, so where did it come from? edgar's mom thinks she knows. a lot of people are saying the swine flu came from some of the pig farms. do you believe that? [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: that's what she
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hearing. >> reporter: no question we stumbled onto a controversy. the citizens of la gloria feels the pig farms got so many citizens sick, so we decided to pay the farm a visit. >> reporter: it's owned by smithfield foods. people in touj say they believe this is the source of the outbreak. >> we made our way to the hog farm, but the department of agriculture and the company says the tests they simply won't let us through security. they simply won't let us see the pigs. >> we just don't know where he got it. dr. sanjay gupta, cnn, la gloria, mexico. we'll bring you more of the top stories of the year as the week continues, as one of our stories that we're going to be focusing on. a favorite weapon of terrorists. they're tiny amounts of explosives that can have devastating results. we're going to show you why it's
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so dangerous. and could a controversial airport screening method have caught the man accused of trying to bomb that christmas day flight? plus, a spurned offer of marriage leads to a horrifying act of vengeance, now justice may be delivered eye for an eye. (announcer) we understand. you want time to enjoy the holidays. (announcer) we undeupbeat rock ♪ so i could hear myself myseas a ringtone ♪hone ♪ ♪ who knew the store would go and check my credit score ♪ ♪ now all they let me have is this dinosaur ♪ ♪ hello hello hello can anybody hear me? ♪ ♪ i know i know i know i shoulda gone to ♪
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be held in north korea, speaking out. and shocking new video just emerging allegedly showing an iranian police vehicle plowing into protesters. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm suzanne malveaux, and you're in "the situation room." well, clearly something went wrong with the explosive device allegedly used by umar farouk abdulmutallab on that flight, but the material in question is extraordinarily powerful, a weapon of choice for terrorists, our cnn senior international correspondent nic robertson shows us why. >> it doesn't compress down very well. >> reporter: what you are looking at is a bomb in the making. the white poud iris the explosive petn. six grams of it, just a tiny fraction of what alleged christmas day bomber abdulmutallab intended to use.
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>> if it goes off, it should blow a hole in the plate. >> reporter: at a remote farm in the english countryside, we're getting it's dangerous. not taking any chances. a little earlier in his lab, explosive experts sydney olympicford detonates a few grains. >> that was quite a big crack, though. >> reporter: the chemical in petn is hard to make our get your hands on. though it's an explosive, because it's not volatile, it's perfect for a terrorist on a long-haul flight. >> no, no, it wouldn't go off
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accidentally. if i were carrying a pocketful, suitably packaged, its blowing off would be the last of my worries. >> reporter: sources familiar with the investigation tell cnn the working assumption is that the alleged bomber, abdulmutallab, may have had some 80 grams of petn. >> that would probably by, if it were dry, closer tole 0 grams. >> reporter: is that enough to blow a hole in an acraft? >> certainly. >> reporter: we understand he was weighing the explosives in the groin area. can you imagine that you could someway sew them into an underpants? >> yes, yes, i've done it. no problem at all. >> reporter: it looks just like sugar, just like salt, easy to imagine how it can be hidden around the body. that's what makes petn such a challenge for airport security officials to detect.
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olford believes meant his lack of training meant he couldn't detonate the bomb. that means he probably didn't make it. >> on the one hand he's been given, a high-value substance. on the other hand seems to be left to his own efforts. >> reporter: is it easy to make for the average person? >> the average person, probably not. >> reporter: back at the farm, olford's crude six-gram bomb is about to show what petn can do in the hands of professionals. very impressive. it's gone through? >> it may have burnt away. >> reporter: this is what six grams of petn does to something twice as thick as a fuselage. just six grams. that's pretty damaging. that was a tiny amount, easy to
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sort of hide about a person. >> yeah. >> the alleged bomber had much more than six grams, and he smuggled it on board an airliner. but he didn't have the expertise to detonate it. >> nic robertson is joining us live from london. knick, as best we understand, why didn't the suspect's bomb go off. can you explain that to us? >> reporter: you need something that really creates enough energy inside the explosive to make it go off. that's quite difficult to smuggle those components on an aircraft. okay. he can stitch this powder, or maybe made into a paste in his underwear, but we heard about a syringe, so what he was trying to create was perhaps, according to our expert some kind of ignition that would then spark, let's call it a fuse or detonator cap, whatever it was, that would then explode thinks
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explosives. it seems that part of the mechanism didn't work properly. the main reason our expert believes that that was the case, because he believes these things should go off 90% of the time is he probably didn't have any training on this initiation procedure, nobody had given him that specific training, but that's the tough part to, to detonate the explosives, have a big enough device to detonate 80 grams as it was in this case, suzanne. >> do we know how difficult it is to get this petn? >> reporter: there's only one that we've been told that you can get it, and even then it's hard to get this material. explosives experts would have this, you know, about them, it's the sort of thing they would have in a cupboard. so they can get it from some devices. most people would have to make it, start from scratch, and you would need to be a well-trained
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chemist. the core ingredient itself is hard to find. if you went to a supplier and started asking for this core ingredient, red flags would go up immediately. you would have to be a very well-trained chemist, would have to have a supply of the chemicals that's not going to trillinger suspicion, so it will be difficult to make if you're living in new york or london. if you happen to be in yemen where petn has been discovered in al qaeda camps, you're a bit freer to do what you will with them. >> if you were someone asking for that chemical would you be suspected of terrorist activity, because it's so rare? unless you're obviously a chemist to try to get something like that? >> that's what our expert believes. you know, he wasn't about to tell us which chemical it was or where to go to try and obtain it. he doesn't want to let that information get out in the public domain widely, any more widely than it exists on the internet and other places. but as we know from some of the
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cases, abdula zazi, the same with some of the terror plotter in britain, triggered suspicious because they purchased large amounts of hydrogen peroxide, that's a subs you can boil it down essentially and use it as a main constituent. so the notion is, if you are buying something like that, it's going to flag a big warning signal to authorities, especially if it's in quantities that will make substantial amounts of explosives. >> nic robertson, thank you very much. there's one screening method that may have caught the man accused of trying to bomb the christmas day flight, but it's a very controversial one, or sandra endo explains. >> reporter: it's one which may be necessary to combat terrorism. the question is, are travelers willing to bare it all. some call it a digital
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strip-sear strip-search, a full body scan at airports. security experts say it may have detected the explosived concealed in the underwear of that alleged terrorist, but some air passengers we spoke with are in disbelief about calls to make every passengers gel a full body scan. it shows the outline, but also specific body parts. does that concern you at all? >> absolutely. no, i wouldn't want to have that at all. >> they're taking extreme measures, so a body scan that's just -- it's -- it's inappropriate. >> 19 airports nationwide use body scanning, usually for secondary screening, but at six airports in the united states, it's used for primary screening. rep congressman david chafeit is
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leading it -- >> i don't know that you need to get my 8-year-old daughter naked to secure an airplane. >> an outraged chaffetz got a big passed to limit it to only secondary screening, and he believes only suspicious-acting or red flagged travelers should be scanned. >> i don't want to give up too many civil liberties in the name of safety and security. >> reporter: a spokesperson says it could be a win/win for security and harried passengers. is it possible that this technology is so good travelers can keep the jackets and sweaters on and have the process work more efficiently? >> some passengers say they're willing to electronically bare it all in the name of safety. >> to have a secure flight is better than to be concerned about invasion of privacy. >> i'm sure for safety reasons i would be more than happy to go into that.
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>> right now passengers do have the right to rye fuse a scan, but would get a pat-down instead. the tsa says 98% of passengers choose to get the scan when it's at the primary point of screening. we're going to have much more on how they body scanners work. brian todd is standing by to give a demonstration. multiple warnings about the pan who's accused of trying to blow up the plane. how were so many signs missed.
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brook baldwin is monitoring the other top stories. hey, brooke, what are you watching? >> first around afghan commander says six militants were killed in a battle in northern afghanistan it lasted about two hours, the militants fled the area leaving behind weapons and bodies of their com rats. this one out of argentina. severe flooding has killed three people, and three days of relentless rainfall and illegally built canals are being blamed. the governor of the province says a criminal investigation is
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now being launched. >> okay. thank you, brooke. his own father alerted american authorities to his behavior, so how did the suspect in the failed xmts day bomb plot make it onto a flight? >> just a few minutes ago, he can kemp the father met at the embass, and that there are several follow-up phone calls, so more contact than we actually knew. today a senior u.s. officials familiar with the father's warning admits that there is a system for reporting that data,
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but not a system for taking action on that information. with imaging still fresh, the state department is analyzing how warnings from the suspect's father that his son might be under the influence of religious extremists fell through the cracks. spokesman ian kelly insisting department staff did what they were supposed to do, send a cable from the embassy in nigeria to the national counterterrorism center in washington, the braintrust of all federal agencies fighting terrorism. could the state department have pulled the suspect's visa which allowed him to visit the u.s. anytime? no, kelly says, it's an interagency decision, but the bureaucratic finger pointing has begun. a u.s. government official familiar with how the embassy cable was handled in washington, telling cnn -- just one of
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hundreds of reports that the center evaluates daily. not enough to warrant putting the suspect on a no-fly list or revoking his visa, but in may british authorities did refuse a visa and put him on a watch list. a britain source tells cnn is because he lied on a student visa application, claiming he went to a bog gus college. that information, however, was never passed on to u.s. authorities, he says, because it wasn't linked to terrorism. >> i think we have to ask why wouldn't our allies have shared this information, even if it was not terrorism related. if this individual lied on their visa application in their visa application process, why wouldn't they have shared that with us? because frankly if an individual is known to have lied to another immigration authority around the world, i would want to know that. >> reporter: already the state department is pointing to some possible loopholes that might allow someone to fly even with a
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revoked visa, information that a visa has been pulled goes into a databa database. that's communicated to other u.s. agents, but no automatic notification goes into airline databases. >> that kind of explains the loophole, the gap. you brought up something very important in the beginning. can you just reiterate what you're learning? >> yes, we can say it appears there was more contact than we knew about between the father and the u.s. embassy. a senior u.s. officials is saying there was one physical meeting where he went into the embassy, that we are aware of, but there were several follow-up phone calls. >> suggesting perhaps there was multiple contacts. thank you very much, jill. a marriage request is rejected, leading to a horrifying act of vengeance. now justice may be delivered according to an inchant formula. a latest excuse in china sentence shockwaves through britain. pilot, and traverse
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a spurned offer of marriage, now justice may be delivered by anchle formula of an eye for an eye. arwa damon has a shocking story. >> this goes the story -- what viewers are about to hear and see is disturbing. >> she used to be the family jokes terr, her mother's favorite. but a chilling act of violence ruined the 22-year-old's face, destroyed her life, killed her spirit. >> translator: i can't sleep without fear. whenever i try to sleep, i see the whole brutal act in front of my eyes. >> reporter: it all happened here in the small village outside lahore. her attackers live across the street and are family. her cousin wanted to marry her.
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>> translator: my family refused, because my eldest sister was already married into their family and she was being mistreated. >> reporter: this is the brick kiln where the family work. a month and a half after the proposal she was on her way home with her brother and elderly father. >> five people justified out and they want they were going to kill me. >> reporter: her brother says he was helpless,hood at gunpoint. >> translator: we begged them to take mire sister's gold earrings, but they told us to keep quiet or they would kill us. >> reporter: it was the man who wanted to be her husband who held the knife. >> translator: they want, we will kill you. since your mother did not accept our marriage proposal, we are going to leave you in such a state that no one will want you. >> reporter: she says he sliced off her nose and slashed her
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ears. she lost consciousness. she came to at the hospital, only to confront terrible news. her mother had died from the shock of seeing her youngest daughter's mute lated face. the police have so far arrested three of her five assailants, two brothers will already been tried and convicted. her case was heard at this court. the judge ruled her attackers were to be subjected to the same mutilation. like fasila, they are to have their ears and nose cut off. this unusual sentence is in accordance with the pakistani penal code, a blend of british and islamic laws. >> i have no doubt in my mind, i think they are guilty, have committed the offense and rightly punished brrp villagers and local leaders say they support the decision. they believe it would act as a deterrent.
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she takes us along to her first visit to the site of the attack. >> i am so afraid. but the vivid memory is too much for her she says that she and her relatives still live in fear of the family of the attackers that they will come after them again in retaliation. susan. >> tragic, tragic story. thank you, arwa. an american man believed to be held captive in north korea and his family is speaking out about his plight. rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
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an execution in china is sparking outrage in britain. the man put to death was a uk
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citizen whose mental condition was in doubt. our cnn's phil black has more details. phil? >> susan, britain is furious that china proceeded with the execution. they believe they did everything they could to convince china that this is a vulnerable man who deserved mercy, but in the end, it wasn't enough. akmal shaikh is described as delusional and duped into becoming a drug mule. they say he lived on the streets of poland where he dreamed of starting an airline and becoming an international pop star with this little song. news of the execution has triggered great anger in britain. prime minister gordon brown appealed directly to china to show mercy. i condemn the execution of akmal shaikh in the strongest terms and am appalled an disappointed
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that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted. i am particularly concerned that no mental health has been undertake even. the administer was summoned to the office, and the minister said he had a difficult conversation with her. >> we provided evidence of bizarre behavior by mr. shaikh over a long period of time. but the courts refused to undertake a medical assessment. by any standards of human rights in the 21st century, that cannot be acceptable. >> reporter: he was convicted of trafficking up to four kilograms or nine pounds of heroin, and china says it is an internal criminal matter and the independent of its judiciary must be respected. >> translator: the the course of the trial, his rights were protected. >> well, while this should not
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cause problems between british and chinese relations. britain says it will continue to have a relationship with beijing, but this case will impact that relationship. >> china account s for 75% of te world's executions. this is according to amnesty international. 1,718 of the executions were in china. and iran had the sexest highest with 346 followed by saudi arabia with 102 and the u.s. with 37 and pakistan with at least 36. of the 58 countries that have the death penalty, only 25 actually carried out executions in 2008. well, he is the american man believed to be held in north korea and we are learning new details about who he is and what he is doing there.
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plus a school on wheels trying to make sure that the homeless kids donts lose out on an education. would you like a pony ? yeah ! ( cluck, cluck, cluck ) oh, wowww ! that's fun ! you didn't say i could have a real one. well, you didn't ask. even kids know when it's wrong to hold out on somebody. why don't banks ? we're ally, a new bank that alerts you when your money could be working harder and earning more. it's just the right thing to do. (announcer) we understand. you need to save money.
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how you could start saving. a retired schoolteacher has a unique program to tutor homeless kids. our cnn photo journalist greg hanes introduces to us the "schools on wheels" which is part of the giving in focus series. >> there are 1.5 million children who are homeless in the united states. >> there are 290,000 kids homeless in california. >> homeless children are the most vulnerable children in our society. >> i mean, it is a lot going on, because you are struggling to do good in school, and you worried about where you are going to stay, where you are going to go. >> homeless children move around all of the time, and sometimes three, four, five times a year. the longer they are homeless, the further behind they fall in school. >> it is the job of every child in america to go to school and
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learn. it is also the job of every homeless child. >> now, out of all of the schools that you have been to, do you like this one the best? >> the kids were making fun of me, because they had beds, and i didn't. >> can you tell me something that is gigantic? something that is enormous. >> many of the homeless kids if they fall through the cracks, that i will be homeless themselves. >> this is a program that provides free academic tutors for homeless kids from kindergarten up through 12th grade. we have volunteer tutors who go to where the child is living at, either the shelter or the the hotel or the foster home. >> i'm a documentary maker. >> chief financial officer. >> volunteering for three years. >> my first year as a tutor. >> they tell you be encouraging
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and to go to school. >> they help you. >> it is the heart and soul of school on wheels is the volunteers. they are there to tell them that just because you are in this situation now, doesn't mean you always have to be >> i am doing better in all of my subjects and getting straight as. >> my name is joey and i'm 10 years old and when i grow up, i want to be a lawyer. >> my name is ali and i'm 9 years old and when i grow up, i want to be a doctor. >> my name is miranda, and i'm 14 years old and i want to be a crime scene investigator. >> my name is moses, and i'm 5. i want to be a rock star. >> happening now, president obama acknowledges airline security failures made a christmas bombing attempt possible. this hour, he is make urgent new promises about the investigation. so what if the bombing suspect had undergone a full body scan like this one? well, we will show you how this technology can detect the most
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carefully hidden explosives. an american missionary is believed to be held captive in north korea right now. his family is clinging to hope, and hanging on every word from the communist government. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world, wolf blitzer is off today. i'm suzanne malveaux, and you i'm suzanne malveaux, and you are in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- president obama says that the kind of mistakes that almost allowed an airline terror attack to happen are unacceptable. he spoke out a short while ago only 24 hours after his first public comments about this failed christmas bombing. now, in remarks from hawaii, the president set some new deadlines and sharpened his tone. right now, we will listen to the entire statement. >> good morning. yesterday, i updated the american people on the immediate steps that we took, the
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increased screening and security of air travel to keep our country safe in the wake of the attempted terror attack on christmas day. i announced two reviews, a review of our terrorist watch list system, and a review of the air travel screening so we can find out what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks. those reviews began on sunday. they are now under way. earlier today, i issued the former guidelines for those reviews and directed the preliminary findings be provided to the white house by thursday. it is essential to diagnose the problems quickly and deal with them immediately. the more comprehensive for mall reviews and recommendations for improvement will be completed in the coming weeks, and i am committed to working with congress and the intelligence and law enforcement and homeland security communities to take all necessary steps to protect the country. i wanted to speak to american
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people, again, today, because some of the preliminary information surfacing in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns. it is widely reported that the father of the suspect in the christmas incident warned u.s. officials in africa about his son's extremist views. it now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed, so as to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list. there appears to be other deficiencies as well. even without this one report, there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. we have achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attack, but it is becoming clear that the system that is in place now for four years is not sufficiently up to date to take advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have. had this critical information
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been shared, it could have been compiled with other intelligence, and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. the warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for america. now, the professionalism of the men and women in the intelligence and counterterrorism and homeland security communities are extraordinary. they are the most hardworking and dedicated americans i have met, in pursuit of security at home, they risk their lives day in, day out in this country and around the world. few americans see their work, but all americans are safer because of their successes. they have targeted and taken out violent extremists and disrupted plots and saved countless american lives, and they are making real and daily progress in the mission to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al qaeda and other extremist networks around the world, and for this, every american owes them a
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profound and lasting debt of gratitude. moreover has secretary napolitano said, once the suspect attempted to take down flight 253 and after the attempt, it is clear that passengers and crew, and our homeland security systems and the aviation security took all appropriate actions, but what is also clear is this, when the government has information on a known extremist, and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been, so that this dangerous extremist boards a plane with explosives that could have cost american lives is extreme and should not have occurred. the reviews i have ordered will surely tell us more, but what is apparently clear is that there is a systemic humor errors that led to this catastrophic breach of security. we need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in the system, because our security is at stake and
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lives are at stake. i fully understand that even when every person charged with ensuring our security does what they are trained to do and even when every system works exactly as intended, there is still no 100% guarantee of success, yet this should only compel to us work even harder and be more innovative and relentless in the efforts. as president, i will do everything in my power to support the men and women in intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to keep america safe, but it is also my job to ensure that the intelligence and the law enforcement and security systems and the people in them are working effectively and held accountable. i intend to fulfill that responsibility and insist on accountability at every level. that is the spirit guiding our reviews into the attempted attack on christmas day and that is the spirit that will guide our actions in the days and
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years ahead. thank you very much. i want to bring in ed henry who is with the president in hawaii, and i also want to bring in our homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve. i will start with you, ed. obviously the president is under pressure to speak. he did yesterday, and he has spoken out again today, and what is the sense that you are getting of talking to the officials there in terms of updating the public. why is that necessary today? >> well, suzanne, officially the white house aides say that the president wanted to give that update and assure the american people, but you can't wonder if the public criticism of slow to attack was influential at all. he was more aggressive than yesterday, and just 24 hours where he was talking about human and systemic failures and flaws in the system, a nnd we have to move quickly to correct it. that is a quicker posture than two days ago. we heard sunday, homeland security janet napolitano say, i
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thought it worked very well. and she backed it up monday saying that once it happened things worked well and the president repeated that as well, but you have to wonder if the administration wonders if the statement today about account bt and what went wrong had not been made a couple of days ago, suzanne. jeanne, with the president, what did he mean when he said there were bits of information available in the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together? >> well, it is interesting, because we have been told repeatedly by people throughout the government that this individual was not on anybody's radar screen until the father went to the embassy and the father spoke to them, and passed the information on and so on, but the intelligence agencies have been going through and combing through everything to try to find out if there was anything that they missed, and it would seem to me given the way that the president was taken, and the specifics they
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have seen they have clearly found something, and something there that should have been pieced together and wasn't, and he was preemptively getting out in front of a bus, and i have to admit that is speculation that is about to hit. >> well, then, let's bring in ed here. do we expect that we are going to hear from the president in the coming days? perhaps there is more information that is imminent? >> well, suzanne, 24 hours ago white house aides suggested it is unlikely to hear from the president any time soon because he is going to vacation. but it is hard to speculate when he is coming back, but jeanne is write, there is a lot of behind the scenes going on and the president said a deadline of thursday, and 48 hours and for intelligence officials to come back to him with preliminary findings of what went wrong. that suggests that as jeanne notes, there is information kicking around and they want answers, because something is coming out to suggest serious flaws as the president himself
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noted, and in fairness to the president, he is saying he wants to get ahead of it and correct it. he is obviously taking a much more aggressive tone than we saw two days ago. >> sure, ed. there is some fast-moving developments. i want jeanne to listen to what the spokesman from yemen told us in "the situation room" about what the yemeni government is doing. >> for the time being, what we know on ground is he was in yemen, and he attended that school, and one of the mosques in the old city we have been surveillancing and questioning some of the people that are there to see where he has links or not. >> the people you are talking to, jeanne, there is obviously a close connection between the u.s. officials and the yemeni officials involved in the investigation. how strong is the role? is there a close tie or link between the two governments to work together? >> well, that is hard to say. there is a cone of silence falling over the investigation and has to do with trying to pull all of the strings and find
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out who he is connected to, and don't want to give away to us or anybody else exactly what they are finding. i would say that the ambassador was disingenuous when he said he didn't believe there was any tie to al qaeda and yes, ma'ammen and we know about the claim of responsibility yesterday, and u.s. officials said in response to that that there is a link there and what they are trying to establish now is how tight the link is, and that is what the ambassador is talking about, and they are talking about people and doing surveillance and trying to put the pieces together. >> and jeanne, we will come back to you as we get more information and the story unfolds. senator jim demint is defending his move to put a confirmation vote hold on erroll southers for tsa chairman. he says he wants to debate unionization of tsa employees. >> well, the american people should be aware that the priority of the administration
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is to submit our airport security to collective bargaining to the unions even though it is prohibited since the agency is formed. the reason it is prohibited is the same reason for the cia and the secret service and the coast guard, is that there is a constant need to adjust and be flexible and to use imagination and change things. we cannot ask a third-party union boss whether or not we can move a screener from one station to another. >> a spokesman for senate majority leader harry reid told cnn that he intends to force a confirmation vote on southers' nomination when the senators return from the winter recess in january. demint called reid's announcement grand standing. a year before 9/11 al qaeda shojed americans by attacking the "u.s.s. cole" in yemen. i want to ask about al qaeda's growing strength there. north korea says they are holding a american, and why the parents of the american mish
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concerns are being raised about an intelligence report saying that iran is trying to import more than 1,300 tons of purified uranium from kazakhstan. according to the associated press it says that $450 million deal could be completed in a matter of weeks. the a.p. says that the deal was brokered by the kazakhstan employees on their own. such a deal would be in
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violation of the u.n. security sanctions and iran has not responded to the a.p. report. there is disturbing video today of a government vehicle plowing into a crowd of anti-government protesters in teheran sunday. in the wick of the increasingly violent demonstrations, parliament is calling for the harshest punishment against the opposition leaders. some have been arrested and the movement of others is being restricted. the president ahmadinejad is down playing the protest as a play organized by americans and zionists, and criticized britain for supporting the opposition movement. as many as eight people have died in the most recent violence in iran. an american missionary is believed to be held captive in north korea right now. the communist government is announcing it is holding a u.s. citizen for illegally entering the country. the man's appearance matches robert park of arizona. our mary snow has more on the story. mary, what do we know? >> well, suzanne, the family of
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robert park issued a statement within the past couple of hours since they are convinced it is him. they received reports on christmas day that he had crossed over to north korea. the news agency did not identify the citizen it is holding in north korea, but the family of robert park believes it is him. they are now working the state department and members of congress. he is a christian missionary working in south korea and friends say he was focused on the plight of people in north korea. in recent days his parents told our san diego affiliate that he was willing to risk his life for his missionary work. >> he said, i am not afraid to die as long as the whole world, every nation pay attention to north korean situation, my life is nothing. that is what he said. >> reporter: a south korean group reported he entered the country with a letter to kim
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jung il, and they have nconfirmd that report. but there are copies of the letter to north korea's leader. he asked for christ's forgiveness and asked him to please open up the borders and close down concentration camps. he says he last spoke with park six weeks ago. >> he also told me that there was something going on in the works, but he didn't get into any details, you know, and that there was a possibility is the way he said it, possibility that he may go into north korea, and, you know, of course, that is alarming. >> reporter: while friends offer prayers one expressed a bit of a relief that they were moholding u.s. citizen. >> the fact that they have someone is a good thing, because generally they would not acknowledge someone if they were going to kill them. but what the north does with him, who knows. >> earlier this year two american journalists faced a
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sentence of 12 years of hard labor after being arrested along the north korean border. they said they accidentally strayed in, but they were released after former president bill clinton met with kim jong-il. as far as what the state department is saying, they have not released a name, but a spokesman for the state department says that the u.s. will continue to work through the swedish embassy which handles diplomatic resolutions with pyongyang, and having spoken to several friends of mr. park, and they are very, very concerned tonight. suzanne. >> well, i see some tense moments right now. thank you, mary. a young boy abducted to p brazil and he finally made it back to the united states last week, but his step family in brazil says they will fight to get him back. and passenger privacy and national security and how a controversial screening device might have intercepted the explosives smuggled into that airliner.
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brooke is following the other top stories coming in. >> well, iraq is taking a step to boost its oil output. they signed an initial agreement to develop one of the biggest oil fields. under the 20-year deal, the country would produce 120 barrels a day for 13 years. although the field was discovered in 1973, it is partially developed with 13 wells drilled. israel's prime minister presented new ideas for restarting middle east talks with israeli president hosni mew
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bark today. he would not give specifics, but he said that mr. netanyahu appears serious about resuming the talks in palestinians. egypt often act as a diplomat in these talks. an american contractor detained in cuba is the first since the man's arrest on the 5th of december. a woman said that a consulate official met with the unidentified man on monday, and cuba is claiming he is procolliding communication groups to dissident groups. a lot of people are following this story. turns out that the international custody battle may not be over. sean goldman was returned to the u.s. with his father just last week after a five-year fight in brazil's courts and now lawyers say they will proceed with the brazilian grandmother's request that sean's wishes be held in
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court. that request was initially denied but now the court reconvenes in february and will decide. but still, suzanne, before that, it will be ironed out. >> that is a story that many of us have been following, brooke. and clearly not over yet. >> it is a tough one. >> yeah. we are learning more about the northwest bombing suspect's link to yemen. that country is a front line to the war on terror dating back to the bombing of the "u.s.s. cole" and they talk about the threat in yemen right now. and president obama's admission of failures that almost led to another airline attack, and why he felt he needed to send a tougher message to anxious americans.
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the investigation of last week's botched attempt to blow up a u.s. airliner keeps heading back to yemen. the government there is engaged in a stepped up battle against al qaeda insurgents and the u.s. is quietly involved in that fight, but is it ready to open up a new front in terrorism? i want to go to the pentagon correspondent barbara starr. i spoke to the ambassador to the yem yems, ma'a yemenny ambassador, and they are looking for help, what do we know? >> well, suzanne, this is far from over. u.s. military and intelligence
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officials are clearly preparing for the next round. >> reporter: what did president obama mean when he said this about the failed christmas day attack. >> we will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable. >> reporter: a senior u.s. official tells cnn that military and intelligence experts as part of an already existing effort against al qaeda are looking at possible targets to strike in yemen if the president orders retaliation for the attempted bombing of northwest airlines 253 an attack that al qaeda in yemen says it organized. the u.s. official says quote, we'd do it if we could tie it back to the right people. easier said than done. the first problem, finding who is responsible. the u.s. believes that al qaeda members scattered after recent air strikes may have killed several members, and those air strikes were aimed at hitting al qaeda even before the northwest
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airlines attack. if there is retaliation now, would the u.s. or yemen conduct the strikes? the whole u.s.-yemeni relationship is under raps. officiallies the u.s. won't say who carried out the secret strikes and there is a secret agreement with yemen to keep it quiet one american official says, but a growing number of u.s. military officials say that the yemeni military doesn't have the ability to do it on its own. so, it may be that u.s. ship-launched cruise missiles, fighter jets or armed drones would be used to end the retaliation strike, but it won't be made public and all of this underscores that the u.s. military is ur jenly t ll ll lly trying to help train them to fight. they spent $55 million to help train them, but this year, $65
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million, and more than a 37% increase. the head of the u.s. intelligence this year made it clear why it is so clear. >> yemen is reemerging as a jihadist battleground. attacks will increase in the next year. >> reporter: there are a number of training camps, and that is part of what is on the target list. suzanne. >> thank you, barbara. this is cnn breaking news. i want to bring in jeanne meserve, breaking news on the investigation of the airline attack, and what the president may have referred to when he said intelligence lapse. what can you tell us? >> yeah, he was talking about shards of information that had not been shared and information he felt could have been pieced together in time to put this individual on a no-fly list. i have talked to a single source, suzanne, but a well-placed source who says that the father of umar farouk
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abdulmutallab says that a report was done at the cia agency and sent to the headquarters, but not disseminated within the wider intelligence community and according to the source i am speaking to, the feeling is that if that had been meshed with other not named specific information, but other information that had been gathered by other intelligence agencies they would have put the pieces of the plot together sooner. >> this is a bigger intelligence flaw than we thought earlier, because we found out that the father went to the state department, and the consulate's office and we did not know that he directly spoke to a cia officer about concern over his son. >> right. i can't tell you whether this was a face-to-face meeting or something that happened over the telephone, but i am told that there is a conversation between the cia and the father, and the cia prepared the report.
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we have not gotten comment from the cia and we have been trying for more than an hour to get a comment from the obama white house, so let me couch this, this from a single source, but from a well placed source telling me this. >> so we know that the intelligence had direct information coming from the father of the suspect about the father's concerns here, and this is beyond the state department, but within the intelligence community that had direct information? >> that is my understanding, it must have been something a little more in-depth than the information that the state department was aware of and something prepared by an intelligence agent for an intelligence usage and it went to the cia and did not go any further. we are trying of course to get comment from all of the parties involved and flesh it out fer ther, but that is all we have. >> obviously, we will come right back to you as soon as the details come to us. we will have much more on the story right after the break. boss: ah! thank goodness you're back.
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cnn's jeanne meserve has learned from a reliable source that when the father came to the nigerian embassy, a report was prepared for the cia, but not disseminated to all agencies. jeanne will be back after she gets more information, and u.s. counterterrorism officials are trying to see if there was any connection between two detained yemen men in saudi arabia. they say they are affiliated with al qaeda. a recently released report says
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that of 520 detainees, 27 engaged in terrorist activities since the release and 47 suspected of participation in a terrorist attack. and i am joined now by the warship of the "u.s.s. cole"'s commander. thank you for joining us. i want to start out with the breaking news that jeanne has. does it surprise you that we are learning that not only the father went to the state department and the kouns lat office in nigeria saying that he had concerns with the son being radicalized, but he met with the cia and the intelligence agency actually knew about the concerns? >> it is not surprising and in fact, disappointing. i believe that the intelligence community is in a awkward position right now. unfortunately, there is a mindset create twhed when the
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administration came in how they would operate and how they would work to secure the nation's borders outside throughout the world, and quite frankly, if you look at the cia, they are very demoralized right now, and they have long faces, because their actions are being questioned in the manner they were trying to be safe is conducted by an administration who is conducting a criminal investigation. so they are erring on the side of caution and not as aggressive for fear it may not work out and they will be questioned about how it came about them, and what they did with it. >> we have heard the criticisms about that, and one of the things that is interesting here is that the two detainees who were released from gitmo in 2007 who now claim a leadership role in al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, they were released under the bush administration. so do you hold the bush administration accountable as well for the lapses? >> well, you have to look at the bush administration had almost
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800 detainees cycled through guantanamo bay, and they made as best judgment they could through an interagency process in place today which determines once an individual down there no longer represented a threat to the u.s. interests or allies or no longer of intelligence value, could they be safely repatriated? we got through the low-hanging fruit and now down to the crunch. the people hanging there now that the current obama administration is working with is that they have had to parse out what to do. when the president came in what he did was he raised the level of acceptable risk that we are willing to tolerate in order to try to close guantanamo bay on that one-year time line. >> where are the 90 to 100 detainees who are yemen and now in gitmo should go? >> right now, they should stay there. the facility is serving a purpose on the war on terror and
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it is also an intelligence collection center and where we brought high level taliban and debrief them and find out how they trained and conducted the operations because once you understand them, you can defeat them. >> you dealt with them after the bombing of the "u.s.s. cole" and 17 of your own were lost. what is the situation in yemen, and they are running out of water, and they have a war they are fighting and secession issues, and what is the united states dealing with in yemen? >> it is tenuous situation, and right now the president is trying to hold a fractious country together and he has tribal issues and clearly the saudi arabian government has intervened, because they don't want al qaeda leaving from yemen and operating north. there was an attack on the prince who was in charge of the counterterrorism in that country similar to what was attempted on
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the northwest 253 flight. so clearly, we have to work closer with the government. president sullah of yemen has to allows us to work closely with the sources to build them up and have a solid counterterrorism force there so they can in fact defend their own country. >> you are a commander and you know what is it like to lead, and president obama has called for 30,000 additional troops in afghanistan to go after a potential threat for al qaeda in afghanistan, and is that appropriate to go to afghanistan or yemen? >> well, you have to focus, because the border region between yemen and afghanistan is critical. it will be critical to rout out al qaeda there. we have to give yemen ability to rout them out of the border
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there in the peninsula. >> thank you, sir. it is the technology that some believe could have prevented the botched terror attacker on the u.s. airliner. a closer look at the full body scanning machines, and why they are so controversial.
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female announcer: from jennifer, a sweeping chaise sectional at the unheard of price, now just $399. with luxurious styling and so affordable, $399. from jennifer. >> we are following breaking news at this hour. word that the father of the northwest airline bombing suspect met with someone from the cia. our own jeanne meserve broke the story and she is digging for more and working the phonings right now. we will have her come back for a quick update, but the failed bombing is also renewing interest in adding a new layer of security for airline passengers, and that is full body scans. brian todd is in arlington, virginia, and he has that part
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of the story and at a company who actually makes the scanners. hey, brian. >> hi, suzanne. investigators focusing in on how that suspect got on to the plane allegedly carrying that explosive. some experts believe that machines like this one could have prevented that. new pictures of the explosive itself, and how it was apparently hidden are only ratcheting up the concern. >> reporter: in stark detail an fbi intelligence bulletin obtained by cnn shows pictures of the bomb carried on board northwest flight 253 by umar farouk abdulmutallab, and the main ingredient was sewn into his underwear to possibly avoid screening. i asked deputy steven mchale, how much of a problem is this concealment for officials? >> it is a huge concern he got on to the plane. you have to look at all of the intelligence systems up to the
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screening. >> reporter: whatever screening he had in amsterdam did not detect the explosive. could secondary screening have picked it up? there is the secure 1000 and the tsa has ordered 150 of them for u.s. airports. i go through one with a liquid knife, and this scan with back scatter technology can see through my clothing and i have covered my private areas. the knife and area are pinpointed on avatar creatures, and it will tell the screeners which part to search. by phone we asked peter rant of this manufacturer could it have avoided the explosives to get on board christmas day? >> we think so. it certainly detects s the differences between human and non-human materials. the machine picks up materials such as explosives allegedly
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used here. >> reporter: another technology available is millimeter wave machines. it is not as sensitive, but some experts say it could have detected the explosive. now, the amsterdam airport, cnn we have learned has those millimeter wave machines, but they are not using them on a widespread basis and because of privacy concerns, they are waiting for european officials to set rules for those, and rapid scan says that the privacy concerns have been addressed with u.s. officials. suzanne. >> we are following the breaking news. the father of the suspected airline terrorist talked about his son with someone from the cia, but according to the source, a report was never circulated. our own jeanne meserve, and she is working the phones and she will be back with more information on the breaking news. medicare.
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it doesn't cover everything.
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this is cnn, breaking news. to our viewers, i want to give you the latest on the breaking news. our own jeanne meserve broke this news moments ago and essentially the father of the suspect of that attempted airline attack, not only notified the state department of his concerns that his son was radicalized, but also talked to somebody at the cia, but that person did not relay or transmit a report to other intelligence officials. clearly, there was some sort of disconnect in the communications, and so this very much a breach of what the president talked about, the systemic as well as human error involved in this. i want to bring in the best political team on television to talk about this. senior political correspondent candy crowley. cnn contributor david brody, and
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white house correspondent for the christian broadcasting network, and democratic strategist mow sister publicati "time" magazine. there's a lot going on we learned in the last 30 minutes or so. jeanne meserve breaking much of this information. i want to first go back to president obama out of hawaii earlier today, which seemed to hint and suggest that this was much larger than what we had initially suspected. let's listen. >> the reviews i've ordered will surely tell us more, but what already is apparent is there was a mix of human systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security. we need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system, because our security is at stake and lives are at stake. >> any jump in. how serious is this a problem for president obama if it looks like the intelligence, a cia agent had some information that was not passed on to other intelligence agencies about the
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potential threat of this suspect? >> i would suspect this is actually harder on the cia than it's going to be on president obama at this point. i don't think people will hold him responsible for someone in an embassy, a cia agent in an embassy, not passing along a report. it sounds like the agency itself didn't put this report outside the agency. so here we are eight years after 9/11, when the whole problem was that no one talked to anyone else and now it appears people still aren't talking to each other or they didn't take this seriously. one of those two things happened. >> i'm struck by the same thing. after 9/11, how many times did we hear the phrase connecting the dots? and eight years later, we're still finding out we don't know how to connect the dots. the whole point of establishing a department of homeland security in fact was to -- to create some place where all of this could come together. and u. know, i don't know if it's that the system hasn't been designed right or if the system is just not capable of this. >> i think -- i agree. i think this is an opportunity
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for the president here, and a real good one. it's kind of in his wheelhouse. it's bureaucratic in nature in the sense that he can get in there and say, look, we have systems in place. we're going to work on this. i mean, this is what he does best typically. he's kind of methodical in nature, if you will. but i think the danger here is if he looks back too much to the bush administration and starts to lay blame, you know to look back at the eight years or so, i think politically he has to watch out in that regard. >> i think that's right. i was going to say the same thing. this really is an opportunity for this administration to say -- and the president began to say that in his remarks yesterday, that, you know, what there are some problems here. intelligence organizations are not talking to one another. we've got to fix this problem. and if he comes across as strong and decisive, tit is a real goo opportunity. >> and a little bit angry today. a little -- it was more than just forceful. so you saw the president that could on occasion kind of get -- you know, mr. cool could kind of get a little angry.
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i think that's what the american people would actually like to see. i mean, if this is yet -- jeanne meserve for more breaking news. jeanne, what do you have for us? >> i told you earlier, suzanne, about hearing from a well-placed source that the cia had a report done after it talked to the father of this young nigerian, and that this report went to cia headquarters at langley but was not disseminated to the wider intelligence community. i have now been told by a source that this is indeed what the president was referring to in his speech this afternoon when he talked about shards of information not being put together. i asked the white house for comment, and i got this back from an administration official. as the president's statement made clear, there was information held by the u.s. government in various places and in various forms that could have and should have been assessed,
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annual ialyzed and correlated w other information in a way that would have allowed us to disrupt the attempted terror attack before the suspect boarded an aircraft bound for the u.s. what we have is a situation where the feelings individual, organizational failing and systemic and technical and we ended up in a situation where a single point of failure in the system put our security at risk and goes on to say that the president is doing everything possible to correct this. now, what we understand is this report from the cia in nigeria that was held at langley, that what was needed, according to our source, was for that to be disseminated more widely so it could be pieced together with other intelligence that had been picked up by united states and perhaps other intelligence services, that would not name a specific source of intelligence but perhaps if they had this information about this kid, it could have been pieced toxgt together. but the intelligence community is pushing back a bit. we have a comment from an intelligence official saying the guy's father gave the son's name and passport number. that was disseminated. he said his kid might have
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connections to extremists in yemen. that, too, was disseminated. i'm not aware of a emergencyic piece of intelligence somehow withheld that would have put abdulmutallab on the no-fly list. this intelligence official goes on to say, have any of the people who have supposedly seen this report put -- that mean the report done by the cia in nigeria pointed out the bit of information that would have gotten abdulmutallab on the selectee or no-fly list, could they explain how that would have worked even after the fact? so a little push back there from intelligence. this official saying that they did share the name and passport number, but my source telling me that there was more information that had been put together that was held by the cia that was not disseminated so the pieces could not be put together, and this attack could not be stopped. and the white house statement certainly isn't pushing back on the facts of that. >> jeanne, i just want to make sure i'm clear on this, that, that report was at the cia headquarters in langley, virginia, is that my understanding? >> that's my understanding, that it got to the cia, but it sat
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there for five weeks and didn't come to light until after the events of christmas day. >> okay. jeanne, thank you so much. excellent reporting. i want to throw it back to our panel here. we know that this information made it to the cia headquarters in langley, virginia. does that notch this up a level? >> well, sure, because john podesta's sitting over there as cia director now. did it get to him? who decided not to december iss it? i'm sorry, leon panetta. i'm sorry, it's late. i think the other problem here is it misses the point that this particular information would not have put him on the watch list. the question is, could you have added this information to something someone else knew? and that's where perhaps there was a failing. >> and i was also struck by the president's language. he kept referring to this person as a known extremist. and not a potential terrorist. and i'm wondering if there is also some clue there as to just what exactly this information
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was pointing to. >> i think you he may need to clarify that. i think that also can be taken as somewhat of a weakness when it comes to some of the language. why wasn't he called a terrorist? and goes back to his statement the first day of the president when he said allegedly this guy to set off a device inside a plane, where does allegedly come from. i think this was his law constitutional professor persona coming to a little bit. so i think he needs to be careful here a little bit about how he presents this in the future. >> go ahead. >> but the point was already made that the president did show a little built of anger, a little bit that he was upset with these events as they're unfolding and i think he's absolutely right to feel that way. i think most americans feel that way. the fact is we have seen already some intelligence officials, unnamed intelligence officials over the past couple of days, say things like, hey, look we have lots of these tips every single day. we can't follow up on absolutely every single one.
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the president came out and said, that's not good enough. we need to follow up on all of this. we need to be able to connect these dots. >> and he set a deadline. >> that's right. >> covering president bush, president bush obviously talked a lot about the intelligence failures. there was a lot of concern about that. do you think that this rises to the level where we may see someone have to leave the administration? >> i don't see it. >> i don't see it either. but we still don't know kind of what we're dealing with, whether this was some glaring mistake by someone high up or it just was, again, a mixture of human error, bureaucracy. you know, that sort of thing. you just have no idea. >> not to make it too political but the white house correspondent cap is coming on here and i'm thinking to myself, in january we're going to see a whole lot of congressional hearings about this system failure. what does that mean politically for this white house? it is a good thing politically because if you roll in health care, health care, i'm not going to say is going to take a back seat, but it will share the spotlight and that may be a good thing for this administration as it relates to the conference committee on health care.
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>> one other thing that i find interesting is that sunday, when janet napolitano did an interview on "state of the union," i asked her, so here's a father and he goes to the embassy. she said, well, we don't know what the father said or exactly who he spoke to. well, this was sunday. the incident happened friday. it's taken until tuesday for the president to come out and say, okay, you know, there's some systemic problems here. i'm not really sure why it took from friday to tuesday for the president of the united states to not be able to find out, okay, who in this embassy -- we knew it was the embassy in nigeria, talked to this guy? are there billions of people in the embassy? i'm not sure whether that points to something. >> who do we direct the questions to and perhaps republican fire to, homeland security or intelligence? real quick. >> it sounds like it's more on the intelligence community at this point. >> mo? >> i think that's probably right. i think there's going to be a


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