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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  December 29, 2009 10:00pm-12:00am EST

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completely forgotten about and it went right through and we didn't realize it until we were on the plane. >> ricky, we are totally out of time, i am so sorry, because both of your stories are fascinating, we'll have to let you go, but thank you so much. thanks, larry, for letting me sit in tonight. it's time now for erica hill and "a.c. 360." >> candy, thanks. tonight we begin with breaking news. president obama calling this a case of both human failure and a failure of the system. failure to stop the alleged christmas bomber from getting on a plane. just hours after he says that, cnn learns the who and the how of a breakdown that frank ly wa never supposed to happen after 9/11. also ahead tonight, we have more breaking news. what we're learning about possible retaliation on targets in yemen. cnn's barbara starr, the first to report it, will join us shortly. plus, charlie sheen, up close, a history of violence and the allegations this time around. what he's saying about it now. we'll also hear from an expert
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on domestic violence who really will bring the story home. first up, our breaking news. new evidence that nothing has really changed. nothing has changed where, in fact, everything was supposed to change after september 11. tough to believe, but eight years later, we are still talking about connecting the dots and a failure to communicate. >> it's been 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 communi community, but was not effectively distributed to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list. there appears to be other deficiencies as well. >> not long after president obama spoke out, cnn learned specifically what he was talking about. and then a short time later, we learned why he came out to make that statement at all. why the urgency that essentially had him doing a 180. we'll have that angle for you in a moment.
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the why along with what's next, including the possibility of new air strikes on yemen. but first we want to get to jeanne meserve, who has the what. the repeated attempted by the alleged christmas bomber's authority to alert authorities about his son. hi, jeanne. >> hi. according to sources that are familiar with the family's discussions with the u.s., the father met face to face with embassy officials on at least two occasions. there also were several telephone calls and also written communications. we are told by a well-placed source that the cia was involved in some of those communications and that the cia repaired a report on what the father said about his concerns about his son's radicalization and possible trips to yemen. that report, we are told, was sent to cia headquarters in langley, virginia, but it was not disseminated to the wider intelligence community. and according to our source, if it had been, it might have been pieced together with other pieces of intelligence, which had been gathered by the u.s. and perhaps they would have gained a full picture and been
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able to thwart this attack. >> what about the cia, though? are they actually confirming the existence of that report? >> the cia is pushing back pretty heavily here. the statement -- the spokesman, rather, for the cia, put out a statement this evening that said, in part, we didn't have his name before then, before the meeting with the father. also in november, we worked with the embassy to ensure he was in the government's terror database, including mention of his possible extremist connections in yemen. we also forwarded key biographical information about him to the national counterterrorism center. but the cia is not saying if they forwarded all of information they had to ntct. the agency set up after 9/11. >> and that brings us straight to the next question, which a lot of people are wondering tonight. eight years later, after 9/11, there is not only that agency that has been set up, but billions of taxpayer dollars spent to overhaul this country's security, the communication between different agencies.
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this isn't happening, clearly. >> well, clearly, it didn't happen in this instance, and one can only guess it might be reflective of a larger problem. that is why the administration said, the president said clearly today, i am ordering a government-wide review of what we are doing here in terms of integrating this information, collecting this information. i want to know what we know, when we knew it, and who it was shared with. >> jeanne meserve, appreciate it. we are also learning more about why the president came back and spoke out again today, so soon after he addressed this issue just yesterday. a top administration source telling cnn his urgency almost purely a function of what the early investigation has turned up. how clear and how compelling that information was. this source also saying congressional briefings are set for tomorrow and mr. obama didn't want details dribbling out in advance. on now to the question of what next. we're hearing it could be retaliation. barbara starr has been working her pentagon sources. she is the first with the story.
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barbara, what are you learning tonight? >> erica, we already know some facts. first and foremost, there have been u.s.-backed military strikes in yemen this past month. what is next? strikes against al qaeda? more of them to come. senior u.s. officials tell cnn that the u.s. military and intelligence services with their yemeni counterparts are now looking at fresh target lists. if they can make the link, if they are determine that there are al qaeda targets to strike directly related to the northwest airlines attack, they will assemble this target list. they will be ready to go if and when president obama were to make the decision that he wants to engage in another round of strikes, erica. >> there's the question too, in terms of those strikes, as to how many people would be targeted? do we know how many al qaeda militants are operating or training in yemen right now? >> there aren't really good numbers. but a senior official says the
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ballpark they can come up with is that maybe there are now about 200 al qaeda operatives in yemen, a hard core at the center that's very well organized. they're looking to see how many of them they got in these air strikes that happened earlier this month, but there are also training camps now in that country and they are looking at the possibility that this nigerian man may have trained at one of those al qaeda camps in yemen, erica. >> there's also the issue of a general population in the country of yemen that is not exactly supportive of the u.s. and its policies. that, obviously, is a sensitive issue in terms of the u.s. dropping bombs or helping to drop bombs, potentially, in the area. how do you deal with that and reconcile those sensitivities? >> that has been the problem, as you point out, all the way along. why has al qaeda been able over the years to gain such a stronghold in yemen, because the yemeni government hasn't really gone after them. this summer, general david petraeus and john brennan, the head of president obama's top
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counterterrorism adviser both went to the yemeni government, presented them with intelligence and said, you have a serious problem. your country is threatened by al qaeda. since then, the president of yemen has agreed. so they are working much more closely together, but the real secrecy here is that they are not acknowledging the depth of the u.s. military's involvement in the strikes that have already happened and any possible strikes to come. erica? >> barbara starr for us tonight live in washington. thanks. we want to turn now to national security analyst, peter bergen, who is joining us as well. when we look at these strikes that barbara is talking about, peter, obviously, they have to be effective, essentially 100% effective, or for some of the reasons that barbara just touched on, they could do more harm than good. how do you go about making sure they're going to work and hit the targets as intended? >> the two strikes that already happened as barbara referred to on december 17th and december 24th seem to have been quite
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effective. the system is quite analogous to the situation where the united states is in pakistan, where it is doing strikes with essentially the agreement of the pakistani government. but has to sort of pretend that it's not involved, even though everybody knows that it is. because in pakistan and in yemen, the two most popular bases at the moment, the population is quite anti-american. this is a fact of life. the yemeni government has to balance the fact that it can't advertise its alliance with the united states too loudly with the fact that it needs money, it's a very poor country, to do many of its activities, and the fact that it too, to some degree, is threatened by al qaeda. >> but there are also -- i mean, you touch on that fine line and we talked about a little bit with barbara, pretending that the u.s. isn't involved. but it's interesting when you hear yemeni government officials speak out. the foreign minister telling the bbc, it really is up to western
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nations. they have this responsibility to monitor people, to let the yemeni government know what's going on, but then you mention this private deal that's going on with the united states, $67 million that the u.s. has pledged. how do you reconcile those two to make it effective and to make it worthwhile for the u.s. and hopefully to make yemen think it's worthwhile as well? >> well, yemen is the poorest country in the arabian peninsula and is in desperate need of money. that's one of the motivations here. but there is not a particularly new thing, by the way, erica. there was a u.s. drone strike in yemen in 2002 that took out some of the people involved in the "uss cole" attack and actually killed an american citizen that happened to be in the car that was targeted. it's not like this began a few months ago. this has been going on for some period of time. obviously, it's been amplified in the last several months, but there's been cooperation with the yemenese and alfrustrations
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with the yemenese for a long time. >> you can join the conversation right now. live on to the log chat happening at ac360.com. still to come tonight, what on earth is wrong with the intelligence community. we'll talk with a former top official to get some answers for you. and then the alleged bomber's path to terror, in his own words online. fevers, aches and pains feel better.
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breaking news coverage, new facts on the table tonight about just how hard the father of the alleged christmas can bomber tried to warn u.s. intelligence about his son, the son he feared was becoming radicalized. also, incredibly, outrageously, sadly, you name it, how that vital piece of information did not make it on to the desk of someone who maybe could have kept him off a plane. all of this happening eight years, billions of dollars, one massive new cabinet department since 9/11. so many changes on those charts, but apparently so little real change we're learning tonight. except 86.3% more shoe removal at the airport. joining us now, national security contributor, francis townsend, homeland security adviser to president george w. bush, and patrick goldberg, who has made a career out of highlighting airport security insanity. fran, it was your job to make
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sure all these different agencies were talking to one another. so many people seeing these dots were not connected so many years after 9/11. how does that happen, at this point? >> i share the american people's frustration and anger over this. of course, it should have been shared. now, what we've learned during the course of the evening is, though, some of the information the cia gathered was shared, but not all of it. and that may have been because it was fragmentary. sometimes information comes in in in dribs and drabs and you don't recognize the significant of it right away. that may plain why some of this information that now looks critical, looking backwards, now that we understand the plot, didn't look important at the time. >> but fran, shouldn't there have been a red flag. the fact this man goes in and says, my son is becoming radicalized, i'm worried about it. he sits down with the cia. these aren't just random people coming in saying, you know, the guy next door looks a little shady. >> you're absolutely right.
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and that information should have been shared. but in the larger context, understanding the role of yem skpn the role of explosives, fragmentary evidence that you didn't realize may have been related to this particular individual may not have been shared, but we still need to understand and fix that. this is not just the cia, you have the national counterterrorism center, whose job it is, it was created to connect these dots. the director of national intelligence will have to answer to why they didn't do their job either. >> and one of the other things that's come up, jeff, i want to throw this to you. as we mentioned, you sort of made a career out of pointing out some of the many issues and inadequacies with airport security. we look at how many people knew about this, fran touched on them, we knew the dots weren't connected. when you look at security in a post-9/11 world, are we any safer in the skies or at the airports than we were on september 10th, 2001? >> i still tell people, it's
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safer to fly than drive. that's still true. but what i hope for is that one day the american government will level with us and say, you know what, it's not entirely safe to fly. it's not entirely safe to do anything in this environment. i think that as a general proposition, my rule is that if the terrorist makes it to the airport, it's probably too late to stop him. that's why, talking to fran, you know, that's why the intelligence work and the military work and the law enforcement work are so important, because if these guys make it to the airport, everybody that's been through an airport knows that the tsa is a somewhat flawed model. you can't really count on the system that's been built to stop these terrorists. >> fran, when you listen to some things, i want to move on to what happens next here. barbara starr talking about the possibility of retaliatory strikes in yemen. how much broader do you think the war on al qaeda could get at this point? and is this the best way to go about it by moving on to retaliatory strikes?
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>> erica, i wrote an op-ed piece in "the washington post" today on this very point. i will tell you, while we ought to move cautiously, we have tried about everything one can try in trying to convince the yemeni government to build its own capability. to take on these threats because they are self-interested. and we've given them economic aid and civil aid and soft power and we've tried it all. so there's going to come a point where they're not just a threat only to the united states, but as we've heard earlier, there was a threat -- an assassination attempt against the head of saudi security that failed. but that also emanated out of yemen. our consulate in yetta was attacked several years ago, guns coming from yemen. we've seen repeated threats both to the united states and to our allies in the region. so we're going to have to act with those allies to try to deal with this problem. >> jeff, in your research that you've done, is the u.s. prepared to broaden this war to
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this point, this war on terror, and be able to support that? >> that's the biggest question of all. but, again, it's very important to remember, we've been engaged in these operations in yemen since 2002. it might be new to a lot of people around the world, but the american government has certainly been engaged, but, yes, you of course an excellent question. are the american people, are the democrats in congress right now ready to say, in addition to what we're doing in iraq, in addition to ramping up in afghanistan, in addition to all of the complicated work that needs to be done in pakistan, are we ready to ramp up in yemen as well? we might be have to be ready to ramp up in yemen as well, but it's an open question to me whether we have the will and fortitude to try it at this point. >> and actually saying it out loud, that changes the game a little bit. thank you for your insight. and a quick footnote for you. we're actually just learning now that the tsa has extended for another 24 hours the security measures put in place following that attempted terror attack on christmas day. among those regulations, requiring airlines to pat down
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all passengers boarding planes bound for the u.s. and inspecting their carry-on bags. just ahead tonight, what web postings reveal about the alleged christmas bomber and his apparent journey from westernized values to radical islam. and a bit later, a shocker in the sarah palin/bristol palin/levi johnston saga. they're all involved and we've got the update. xxxxxxxxx
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we have been focusing tonight on the path to an intelligence failure, the kind of that might have ended with hundreds of american fatalities, in fact, not just american fatalities, others as well, had that alleged christmas bomber succeeded. there is also the path that he took from child of privilege to allegedly soldier of al qaeda. and some of that story now coming to light through postings online. randi kaye has that angle. >> reporter: one of his first online postings to the islamic
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forum appeared in february 2005. it reads, "my name is umar but you can call me farouk." the more than 300 postings paint the alleged christmas day bomber as a lonely teen, someone who felt isolated and lost between his muslim faith and sinful temptations of the secular war. farouk, 1986, writes, "i have no friends, not because i do not socialize, i feel depressed and lonely." dr. gerald post studies terror suspects and the online world. >> this is a man who was struggling between the temptations of the west and the strictness of the koran and finding himself failing. >> authorities have yet to verify the postings were written by abdul farouk abdulmutallab, but the information matches what we already know about his personal history. the user name is farouk1986, a
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combination of the accused bomber's middle name and birth year. kasim rafik knew him in college in london and describes him as humble. >> he never came across as anyone who looked -- our conversations mainly centered around football. >> reporter: but the posts show he had more than football on his mind. the loneliness led to sexual desire. he tried fasting to avoid what he called evil thoughts. the poster also wrote about life at an elite boarding school in togo, africa. that's where this young man first met abdulmutallab. he remembers him as devoutly religious. >> h he was a friendly person, socialable. >> reporter: the latest posting from july 1985, where he writes from yemen where he was learning arabic, "the yemenis are so
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friendly and welcoming." one posting march 2005 includes his strongest words related to the iraq war and former president george bush. it reads, "why not forgive bush for invading muslim lands and killing my muslim brothers and sisters, all the people who do me wrong, because surely allah's torment is enough for them." but are those the writings of a man that four years later would sew enough explosives into his underwear to bring down a jetliner. loneliness, confusion, and a desire to belong may have preyed on umar abdulmutallab. randi kaye, cnn, new york. >> digging deeper now, peter bergen is back with us, along with former commander of the "uss cole," and an outspoken opponent of releasing guantanamo bay inmates, begun during the
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bush administration, some of whom reportedly worked with the alleged bomber in yemen. peter, as you look at the picture that has been painted by these postings online, a young man grappling with his muslim identity. was abdulmutallab a prime candidate for al qaeda recruitment q recruitment? >> there is no prime recruitment? the mastermind of 9/11, spoke several languages, a my sonlg mist. one of the pilots on 9/11 was someone who drank and socialized and was a fun guy. the fact that this guy was lonely to me is neither here nor there. he chose his path for reasons that we still don't really quite know. >> and hopefully we'll be learning more of that as we learn more and this proceeds, because, of course, he is still
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alive. i want to read to you a part of a letter that was written today to the president on behalf of lindsey graham, john mccain, and joe lieberman. "we write to express our deep concern about reports that the administration is planning to transfer six yemeni nationals currently being held in guantanamo bay, cuba, to the custody of the government of yemen. we request an immediate halt to the transfer of all detainees to yemen until the american people and the congress can be assured of the security situation in that country." there are just under 92 prisoners at guantanamo at this point, 91 of them yemen. is that a reasonable request? >> i think it's very reasonable and i think it's a very good precautionary move. at this point, not knowing what the situation is in yemen, to e repatriate 60 detainees, clearly it's time to take a pause and say, keep them where they are. let's see how the situation
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continues to develop and then make a long-range determination whether or not it's in our national interest to continue to release these detainees from yemen. clearly, in the past, they haven't proven their ability to govern their country, so it really doesn't make sense to be sending all these yemeni detainees back? peter, we should point out that two detainees released in november of 2007 were actually saudi nationals. two men who have been linked to al qaeda and the arabian peninsula, the group who has claimed responsibility for this aled failed attack on christmas day. again, from saudi arabia, where they were sent to a rehabilitation, not from yemen. it is a yemen-specific problem. >> commander liphold knows this better than i. but on the "uss cole" attack, not one prisoner escaped from people involved in the "cole" attack, it was two. not that the yemeni government doesn't have much of a grip on its own country or its own prison system.
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and we have disagreed in the past on this show about the recidivism rate of the detainees, but whether some people it's 14% or 4%, that's immaterial. clearly the situation in yemen is such that it would be fairly irresponsible, i think, to just willy-nilly return people to a place with what we've just seen in the last few days. now, i don't know enough about the cases of these guys we're talking about, the six that are being released. apparently their habeas corpus hearings were coming up. my guess is that these guys are probably some of the -- the ones that there are less concerns about. but nonetheless, i think it's reasonable to say, let's have a pause here and let's see what's going on in yemen before we do anything precipitous. >> and when it comes specifically to the country of yemen, you alluded a little bit to this, commander liphold.
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there's been so much talk about the government and how frankly unstable it can be, depending on the way the wind is blowing. the foreign minister telling the bbc, we need western nations to do more. but the u.s. has stepped up, pledging $66 million in 2009, that's up from $4.6 million in 2006. but sometimes the remarks from the government seem to sort of be waveringing. kplarnd liphold, how willing of a partner do you think the government of yemen is when it comes to a fight on terror, when it comes to fighting and eradicating al qaeda in their own country? >>ic you can look at the track record. despite u.s. attempts to try and help yemen out, they have not proven themselves to be a reliable or trustworthy partner. even today when you look at it, yemen is only responding, because suddenly the heat's being applied to them and the president is realizing that it could be his skin or his neck jont line by these terrorists
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that are trying to destabilize various parts of the country. i think we have to realize that we can push as much money and training as we immediate to to try to help the government combat them on the peninsula. but unless president saleh allows these forces to get trained and get equipped to go into the country and take over the tribal regions that are giving free reign to al qaeda, that we're not going to be able to be effective and we'll end up in the same awkward position that we were in 2002, where we'll be conducting unilateral operations ford to safeguard our national interest. and we'll do it with or without the yemeni cooperation. >> appreciate both you being with us tonight. just ahead, actor charlie sheen facing assault charges. you'll hear the 911 call from his wife, who told police she thought she was going to die. we'll also dig ginto the actor'
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history of alleged domestic violence. and remember octomom? we'll take a look at 2009's most amazing medical headlines. let me take this. wait, there's no such thing as a projector phone. no, it's the lg phone and projector. there's no such thing as an lg phone and projector. ta-da. what ? the man said "ta-da" ! introducing the lg expo smartphone and lg projector. only at at&t. (announcer) we understand. you need to save money. are you a cop? no. you didn't hear it from me, but this malibu, it offers better highway mileage than a comparable camry or accord. estimated 33 highway. i saw that on the epa site.
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tonight we are counting down the top songs of 2009. that, of course, "i got a feeling" by the black eyed peas. apparently a favorite of kevin here too, our floor director. coming up, sarah palin's family secrets. a judge's ruling could make them fair game in bristol palin and
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levi johnston's custody battle for little baby tripp. but first, randi kaye joining us with the 360 bulletin. >> shocking new video out of iran tonight, posted on youtube. it appears to capture police ramming vehicles into a crowd of protesters, running over at least one. the images were apparently shot sunday during violent anti-government demonstrations that left at least eight people dead. a, quote, mildewy odor in tylenol pain capsules sparks a voluntary recall. some people experienced nausea, pain, vomiting, also diarrhea. those who purchased the capsules should stop using them and contact mcneil for a refund or replacement. the popular supplement ginkgo biloba has no affect on alzheimer's. a new study out today shows the supplement has nothing to
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prevent memory decline. and in tennessee, a christmas miracle, as a policeman's badge saves his life. officer joshua smith was shot at point blank range christmas eve by a man he pulled over for drunk driving. desperate to staunch the wound, he was shocked to find there wasn't a wound at all. police say without his steel police badge, the gunshot could have killed him. instead, he spent christmas opening gifts with his kids. >> i guess he got everything he wanted for christmas, huh? >> that's a miracle. >> you can join the live chat happening now at ac360.com. plenty of discussion tonight with all the breaking news we've been bringing you. also ahead tonight, the medical stories of 2009 that amazed, that outraged. among them, the octomom. yes, nadya suleman. eight babies, and createded a new noun for the english language that we're still talking about.
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plus, actor charlie sheen's latest run-in with the law. the actor facing new charges of domestic violence. the allegations are ugly, they are on tape in a disturbing 911 call. and it's not the first time he's been down this path. we'll take a closer look at sheen's troubled past. intuit quickbooks online p9 organizes your business in one place, and helps you stay on top of your business anytime, anywhere. get a 30-day free trial at intuit.com.
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♪ just dance ♪ just dance . >> the third most popular sign of 2009, "just dance," but lady gaga. that's according to billboard and also a "360" favor. we're counting down to the number one hit. and the top 25 songs, all rolled into one. the kids use the "m" word, we're
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calling it the "a.c. 360" monster mega "mash-umash yup pu. in tonight's "360" follow-up, we want to look back at some of the stories dr. sanjay gupta covered for us that really stood out. stories that more than made news, they ignited national conversations and in some cases bitter debates. sanjay, this first one is, while some people may really want to forget, impossible to forget. nadya suleman, also known as the octomom. we see her in this photo from tmz while still pregnant with eight babies. she delivered them in late january, but what followed was a hailstorm of controversy that didn't just happen among the civilians, there were plenty of people in the mental community who found this just ridiculous and insane on so many levels. why was it so controversial? >> the ethics of this was being debated, still being debated in many ways. and in many ways showed how many
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lax laws there are when it comes to exactly what we're talking about here. at issue is you have a 33-year-old woman who is getting ivf, in vitro fetterizatiortili. in nadya's case, they implanted six eggs, and this is being debated in many ways. there is one state that has introduced a bill to try and prevent this from happening again. do you have any idea what that's called? >> no. there's an actual bill for this? i had no idea. >> yeah. it's called the octomom bill. the attitude towards it will become a little more stringent. >> let's move on to actress natasha richardson. a tragic death in march. she had a head injury, fell on the ski slope. i know you covered this story very closely, seasanjay, you we to canada to retrace her steps. >> i was really fascinated by this as a neurosurgeon, but also trying to figure out how someone like this and natasha richardson
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is cared for in the situation. she's on a slope, falls? hit and hits her head. it wasn't a dramatic fall. that could have been the first problem, no one took it that seriously, including her. she had what's called an epidural hematoma. that means blood was collecting between her brain and her skull. and that can happen in people have what seem like rather inokous falls, but they always have this period where they're knocked out and they wake up and seem like they're fine. it's called a lucid interval. >> in april of this year, the beginning of a pandemic, of course. now, it's the h1n1 virus, but it's already carving a deadly path in mexico. you were right there, on the scene, following this as the story was unfolding more swine flu. and of course, we're still talking about it now, sanjay. >> i will remember this as long as i'm a journalist, maybe as long as i live.
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we were hearing in april about this deadly virus that was sweeping through mexico and some of the numbers that we were hearing were prettying staggering. up to 70% mortality rate, meaning seven out of ten people who were contracting this were dying. we were also hearing that a lot of these people were in the prime of their lives, 20s, 30s, and 40s compared to what we normally hear about with seasonal flu, the elderly and young people are most affected. they predicted half the country would become affected and that it would sweep the world. it has become a prevalent virus, but not nearly as deadly as people thought, which is obvious good news. >> one of the most controversial stories this year actually happened recently, those recommendations from a government panel about people no longer needing routine mammograms starting at the age of 40. talk about backlash and a firestorm over this one, sanjay. this is one i manage imagine, too, we could still be talking about into 2010. >> yeah, this task force essentially made a recommendation that women between the ages of 40 and 49 no
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longer need routine mammograms. that's the language. and the backlash started almost immediately. the the department of health and human services was backtracking from this within a day. it was clear that people were, a, confused by this, and b, very concerned about the impact this might have. the hard part, i think, as a journalist and also a doctor was this idea that somehow you are placing a value on "kpx" number of mammograms and was it worth to get those mammograms to save someone's life. insurance companies may follow suit after these guidelines and say, if they're not recommended, should we pay for them. and 30% of women who should get mammograms already don't get them. this could be another reason why they don't. i think there was a lot of confluence of factor there is. >> and that was a lot of outrage, because this comes up as we're in the middle of talking about health care reform. sanjay, i have an idea that 2010 may be as equally busy for you. >> i'll be right there.
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>> sanjay, thanks. plenty of stories that got you talking there in 2009. and one more that still has people chatting this year. charges that actor charlie sheen assaulted his wife. she says he threatened to kill her without leaving, quote, any trace. sheen denies those charges. we have the details as well as the 911 call. that's still ahead on "360." plus, a child custody battle between bristol palin and levi johnson going public. the details on the dispute and why levi wants it all out in the open. congestion and sore throats. so you can feel better. congestion and sore throats. [ crowd gasps ] [ announcer ] if you think about it, this is a lot like most job search sites. - they let everyone in, - [ crowd groans ] so the best people can't stand out.
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and artistry, one of the world's best-selling beauty brands. which makes amway global the online... health and beauty leader. and worldwide, amway has over 8 billion in annual sales. for your opportunity to be part of this success... and to start making more money for yourself, contact an amway global independent business owner... or visit amwayglobal.com. turning our attention now to the charlie sheen domestic abuse case. the actor today denying he put a knife to his wife's throat and threatened to kill her. sheen is on bail tonight after his arrest on christmas in aspen, colorado. an arrest for domestic violence and assault charges. meantime, his wife claiming sheen not only threatened to kill her, but said it could make it happen without leaving, quote, any trace. perhaps even more disturbing, an up close look tonight shows when it comes to charlie sheen,
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accusations of abuse are nothing new. >> charlie sheen's wife called 911 on christmas day. she told police he pinned her to a bed, held a knife to her throat, and threatened to have her killed. allegedly saying, "i have ex-police i can hire who can get the job done." sheen was arrested and charged with assault, menacing with a deadly weapon, and criminal mischief. in the affidavit, police say sheen denied striking his wife or threatening him with a knife. this is not the first time the actor, who first burst on to the scene in the vietnam war drama "platoon," at the center of scandal. in 1990, while dating actress kelly preston, he allegedly shot her in the arm.
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he later told "playboy" magazine, it was a complete accident. and sheen was the only public name that was released during the trial of heidi flooish. he pleaded no contest to battery charges. sheen entered rehab in 1998 after alleged drug overdose. >> he's my husband, so -- >> and who could forget his very public, very nasty divorce from former bond girl, denise richards. richards abruptly filed for divorce in 2005 while pregnant with their second child and filed a restaining order against him, claiming sheen tried to kill her. sheen called the claim baseless. they had a prolonged custody battle over their two daughters, sean and lola, and sheen objected to them appearing on her reality show. none of this has seemed to hurt sheen's career. he is still one of the highest paid actors on television.
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>> i figure three's a charm, four's a restraining order. >> reporter: and his character remains many viewers of his own bad-boy image. >> a popular actor unscathed by his history of alleged reckless, perhaps violent behavior following his most recent arrest, sheen's representative released the following statement. "do not be misled by appearance. appearance and reality can be as different as night and day. it would benefit everyone not to jump to any conclusion. we want to dig deeper now with dr. charles sophie, medical director for the los angeles county department of children and medical services. as we just heard in this piece, it's not the first time charlie sheen has been accused of abuse. it is possible for someone who is, perhaps, a repute abuser to actually change? >> well, i don't know this case specifically, but in general, if someone is going to stay in denial, they're not going to get some help. but if they are open to addressing some of these issues, absolutely, changing is all about owning it and knowing it and really moving forward.
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but you first have to be able to own it. and owning it means you really step up and say, i am responsible for those kind of behaviors and i want to change them. >> and if a person is responsible for those behaviors, of course, the trickle-down effect can be enormous. not just the victims, but also others who may not seem to be initial victims, but children here. you were the medical director of l.a.'s department of children and family services. brooke mueller and charlie sheen have 9-month-old twins. how are kids affected when it comes to domestic violence in the home? >> you've got to first remember that domestic violence isn't just something physical. it can be emotional, it could be neglect. so children are attuned to all those kinds of signals, energies, loud voices, et cetera in a home. so parents need to be very careful and be very aware that their children are sponges. they're hearing this, they're worried about it, they know the tones of your voices. so please be aware, because there is a huge trickle-down effect on your family. >> and when it comes to this incident, i know you're not
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specifically familiar with this case, but we're learning more details about that night. as we just heard charlie sheen's representatives saying, look, you don't want to jump to any conclusions here, you need to hear everything out, hear both sides. there are reports now that his wife is recanting perhaps her story. would it be normal in cases of domestic violence, generally speaking, for a victim to change their story? >> absolutely. oftentimes, domestic violence is referred to as intimate partner violence, because a lot of this stuff happens in intimate relationships, which then leads either the perpetrator or the victim to recant what has happened. they feel guilty, they don't want to get their loved one in trouble. they don't want to disrupt their family. but that's part of the problem. you need to expose this to begin to get the healing that has to happen. >> why is this such a serious problem in this country? this is obviously an actor getting a lot of attention. but domestic violence, if you look at some of the number, almost 5.5 million women abused each year, 85 to 95% of the
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victims female. why is this such a problem? >> i think it goes back to the original statement of intimate partner violence. it's a relationship that has gone awry, that is off to a start that is really not solid. and it allows people, they think the responsibility and the ability within that confines of a marriage or a relationship that's intimate to be abusive and that's never okay. >> why can't more women leave, though? since they tend to be the primary victims here? >> well, women are tied into this. they sometimes are not predominantly the person in power, they may not make the money, they may not be the person who runs the household. women are at a disadvantage in some of these situations. i've had to go into some homes and remove women and psychiatrically hospitalize them because they are a danger to themselves by staying and all allowiallo allowing their children to be a part of this and not keeping them safe. women and power struggles in a home are at the core of a lot of domestic violence domestic disputes. >> for families struggling with
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domestic violence, the holidays can be particularly tough. log on to ac360.com to learn more about how that added stress can trigger violence. also, some of the warning signs to look for. still ahead, james arthur ray. what newly released documents are revealing an the self-help guru's past and what he allegedly did when people felt ill during his high-priced seminars. and that custody battle over sarah palin's grandson is taking a new turn and it's a victory for levi johnston. those developments just ahead. but first, lady gaga taking us to break with "poker face," the number two song of 2009. 
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a little boom boom by the black eyed peas, the number one song of 2009 according to billboard.com, which wraps up our 2009 top hits countdown. thanks so much for playing along. so what do they all sound like mashed together? i'll give you a hint, it's really good. we'll play it for you in a second. first, we want to get you caught up on some of the important stories we're following tonight as well. randi kaye back with another "360 bulletin." >> newly released documents show long before that fatal sweat lodge incident in october, people were falling ill at self-help seminars led by ray. no charges have been filed in the sweat lodge incident. an alaska judge has denied bristol palin's request to keep the custody fight with her son's
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father private. levi johnston is seeking shared custody of 1-year-old tripp and is asking for the proceedings to be made public. and which celebrity would americans most like to have as in next-door neighbor. there's a poll for everything, including this. the first family came out on top, followed by sarah palin who tied by ellen degeneres and her partner. the poll also asked about worst possible neighbors, and nadya suleman and her brood topped the list. jon and kate gosselin were right behind octomom. and sarah palin made the worst list as well, coming in third. top three was elvis, i think, and trump and oprah. >> for the worst or the best? >> the most favored -- come on, most favored neighbor. >> they all want the rich neighbors, interesting. >> they have a lot of parties and stuff. this would be a good one to play at a party. tonight's shot, throughout the night, we've been counting down. we have the top four songs for
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you from 2009 according to billboard dbill bo billboa billboard.com. check up this mash up of the billboard 25. it is dj ear worms united state of pop 2009. ♪ >> the and the only unfortunate thing about this is that we can't play the whole thing. >> that really is too bad. >> it's really long, but it's good stuff. i was rocking out in my office earlier. >> almost as good as bob and all the studio guys rocking out. >> almost as good as them dancing to "single ladies." now with a nice little break for
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everyone, but there is plenty of serious stuff coming up at the top of the hour. what we're learning tonight about the intelligence failure and perhaps failure to communicate. all of that which may have allowed a bomber onboard a u.s. airliner. i feel congestion, p9right around here. my congestion is so bad right now i really am looking forward to getting relief. i've never used afrin before. relief! oh, it's like night and day. can i keep this? (announcer) afrin. why suffer?
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a sweeping chaise sectional at the unheard of price, now just $399. with luxurious styling and so affordable, $399. from jennifer. tonight we begin with breaking news. president obama calling this a case of both human failure and a failure of the system. failure to stop the alleged christmas bomber from getting on a plane. just hours after he says that, cnn learns the who and the how of a breakdown that frankly was never supposed to happen after 9/11. also ahead tonight, we have more breaking news. what we're learning about possible retaliation on targets in yemen. cnn's barbara starr, the first to report it, will join us shortly. plus, charlie sheen, up close, a history of violence and the allegations this time around. what he's saying about it now. we'll also hear from an expert on domestic violence who really will bring the story home. first up, our breaking news. new evidence that nothing has really changed. nothing has changed where, in
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fact, everything was supposed to change after september 11. tough to believe, but eight years later, we are still talking about connecting the dots and a failure to communicate. >> it's been 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 to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list. there appears to be other deficiencies as well. >> not long after president obama spoke out, cnn learned specifically what he was talking about. and then a short time later, we learned why he came out to make that statement at all. why the urgency that essentially had him doing a 180. we'll have that angle for you in a moment. the why along with what's next, including the possibility of new air strikes on yemen. but first we want to get to jeanne meserve, who has the what.
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the repeated attempts by the alleged christmas bomber's father to alert american authorities about his son. hi, jeanne. >> hi. according to sources that are familiar with the family's discussions with the u.s., the father met face to face with embassy officials on at least two occasions. there also were several telephone calls and also written communications. we are told by a well-placed source that the cia was involved in some of those communications and that the cia prepared a report on what the father said about his concerns about his son's radicalization and possible trips to yemen. that report, we are told, was sent to cia headquarters in langley, virginia, but it was not disseminated to the wider intelligence community. and according to our source, if it had been, it might have been pieced together with other pieces of intelligence, which had been gathered by the u.s. and perhaps they would have gained a full picture and been able to thwart this attack. >> what about the cia, though? are they actually confirming the existence of that report? >> the cia is pushing back pretty heavily here.
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the statement -- the spokesman, rather, for the cia, put out a statement this evening that said, in part, we didn't have his name before then, before the meeting with the father. also in november, we worked with the embassy to ensure he was in the government's terror database, including mention of his possible extremist connections in yemen. we also forwarded key biographical information about him to the national counterterrorism center. but the cia is not saying if they forwarded all of the information they had to the ntct. that was the entity set up after 9/11. the purpose was for it to connect all of the intelligence dots collected across the u.s. government. >> and that brings us straight to the next question, which a lot of people are wondering tonight. eight years later, after 9/11, there's not only that agency that has been set up, but billions of taxpayer dollars spent to overhaul this country's security, the communication between different agencies. this isn't happening, clearly. >> well, clearly, it didn't happen in this instance, and one can only guess it might be reflective of a larger problem.
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that is why the administration has said, the president said very specifically today, i am ordering a government-wide review of what we're doing here in terms of sbe grintegrating t information, collecting this information. i want to know what we know, when we knew it, and who it was shared with. >> jeanne meserve, appreciate it. we are also learning more about why the president came back and spoke out again today, so soon after he addressed this issue just yesterday. a top administration source telling cnn his urgency almost purely a function of what the early investigation has turned up. how clear and how compelling that information was. this source also saying congressional briefings are set for tomorrow and mr. obama didn't want details dribbling out in advance. on now to the question of what next. we're hearing it could be retaliation. barbara starr has been working her pentagon sources. she is the first with the story. barbara, what are you learning tonight? >> erica, we already know some facts. first and foremost, there have been u.s.-backed military strikes in yemen this past
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month. what is next? strikes against al qaeda? more of them to come. senior u.s. officials tell cnn that the u.s. military and intelligence services with their yemeni counterparts are now looking at fresh target lists. if they can make the link, if they can determine that there are al qaeda targets to strike, directly related to the northwest airlines attack, they will assemble this target list. they will be ready to go if and when president obama were to make the decision that he wants to engage in another round of strikes, erica. >> there's the question too, in terms of those strikes, as to how many people would be targeted? do we know from intelligence agencies, at this point, barbara, how many al qaeda militants are either operating or training in yemen right now? >> there aren't really good numbers. but a senior official says the ballpark they can come up with is that maybe there are now about 200 al qaeda operatives in yemen, a hard core at the center that's very well organized.
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they're looking to see how many of them they got in these air strikes that happened earlier this month, but there are also training camps now in that country and they are looking at the possibility that this nigerian man may have trained at one of those al qaeda camps in yemen, erica. >> there's also the issue of a general population in the country of yemen that is not exactly supportive of the u.s. and its policies. that, obviously, is a sensitive issue in terms of the u.s. dropping bombs or helping to drop bombs, potentially, in the area. how do you deal with that and reconcile those sensitivities? >> that has been the problem, as you point out, all the way along. why has al qaeda been able over the years to gain such a stronghold in yemen, because the yemeni government hasn't really gone after them. this summer, general david petraeus and john brennan, the head of president obama's top counterterrorism adviser both went to the yemeni government, presented them with intelligence and said, you have a serious problem. your country is threatened by al
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qaeda. since then, the president of yemen has agreed. so they are working much more closely together, but the real secrecy here is that they are not acknowledging the depth of the u.s. military's involvement in the strikes that have already happened and any possible strikes to come. erica? >> barbara starr for us tonight live in washington. thanks. we want to turn now to national security analyst, peter bergen, who is joining us as well. when we look at these strikes that barbara is talking about, peter, obviously, they have to be effective, essentially 100% effective, or for some of the reasons that barbara just touched on, they could do more harm than good. how do you go about making sure they're going to work and hit the targets as intended? >> the two strikes that already happened as barbara referred to on december 17th and december 24th seem to have been quite effective. the system is quite analogous to the situation is quite analogous to the situation where the united states is in pakistan,
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where it is doing strikes with essentially the agreement of the pakistani government. but has to sort of pretend that it's not involved, even though everybody knows that it is. because in pakistan and in yemen, which are the two most important al qaeda bases at the moment, the population is quite anti-american. this is a fact of life. the yemeni government has to balance the fact that it can't advertise its alliance with the united states too loudly with the fact that it needs money, it's a very poor country, to do many of its activities, and the fact that it too, to some degree, is threatened by al qaeda. >> but there are also -- i mean, you touch on that fine line and we talked about a little bit with barbara, pretending that the u.s. isn't involved. but it's interesting when you hear yemeni government officials speak out. the foreign minister telling the bbc, it really is up to western nations. they have this responsibility to monitor people, to let the yemeni government know what's going on, but then you mention this private deal that's going
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on with the united states, $67 million that the u.s. has pledged. how do you reconcile those two to make it effective and to make it worthwhile for the u.s. and hopefully to make yemen think it's worthwhile as well? >> well, yemen is the poorest country in the arabian peninsula and is in desperate need of money. that's one of the motivations here. but this is not a particularly new thing, by the way, erica. there was a u.s. drone strike in yemen in 2002 that took out some of the people involved in the "uss cole" attack and actually killed an american citizen that happened to be in the car that was targeted. it's not like this began a few months ago. this has been going on for some period of time. obviously, it's been amplified in the last several months, but there's been cooperation with the yemenese and frustrations with the yemenese for a long time. >> and a lot of practice for the u.s. government walking that fine line.
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peter, stick around. we'll come back to you a little bit later in the program. and a reminder to our viewers, you can join the conversation right now. log on to the live chat happening at ac360.com. still to come tonight, what on earth is wrong with the intelligence community? we'll talk with a former top official to get some answers for you. and then the alleged bomber's path to terror, in his own words online.
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continuing now with our breaking news coverage, new facts on the table tonight about just how hard the father of the alleged christmas bomber tried to warn u.s. intelligence about his son, the son he feared was becoming radicalized. also, incredibly, outrageously, sadly -- you name it -- how that vital piece of information did not make it on to the desk of someone who maybe could have kept him off a plane. all of this happening eight years, billions of dollars, one massive new cabinet department since 9/11. so many changes on those charts, but apparently so little real change we're learning tonight. except 86.3% more shoe removal at the airport. joining us now, national
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security contributor, francis townsend, homeland security adviser to president george w. bush and jeffrey goldberg of the "atlantic monthly," who has also made a career out of highlighting the insanity of airport security. fran, it was your job to make sure all these different agencies were talking to one another. o so many people looking at this tonight and seeing that these dots were not connected so many years after 9/11. how does that happen, at this point? >> i share the american people's frustration and anger over this. of course, it should have been shared. now, what we've learned during the course of the evening is, though, some of the information the cia gathered was shared, but not all of it. and that may have been because it was fragmentary. sometimes information comes in in in dribs and drabs and you don't realize the significance of it right away. and that may explain why some of this information that now looks critical, looking backwards, now that we understand the plot, didn't look important at the
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time. >> but fran, shouldn't there have been a red flag? the fact this man goes in and says, my son is becoming radicalized, i'm worried about it. he sits down with the cia. these aren't just random people coming in saying, you know, the guy next door looks a little shady. >> erica, i'm not excusing it. you're absolutely right. and that information should have been shared. but in the larger context, understanding the role of yemen and the role the kinds of explosives, fragmentary evidence that you didn't realize may have been related to this particular individual may not have been shared, but still we need to understand and fix that. this is not just the cia, you have the national counterterrorism center, whose job it is, it was created to connect these dots. the director of national intelligence will have to answer for why they didn't do their job either. >> and one of the other things that's come up, jeff, i want to throw this to you. as we mentioned, you sort of made a career out of pointing out some of the many issues and inadequacies with airport security. we look at how many people knew
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about this, fran touched on them, we knew the dots weren't connected. but the fact that this guy was still able to get on a plane, when you look at security in a post-9/11 world, are we any safer in the skies or in the airports than we were on september 10th, 2001? >> you know what i always tell people, it's still safer to fly than drive. that's true. but what i hope for is that one day the american government will level with us and say, you know what, it's not entirely safe to fly. it's not entirely safe to do anything in this environment. i think that as a general proposition, my rule is that if the terrorist makes it to the airport, it's probably too late to stop him. that's why, talking to fran, you know, that's why the intelligence work and the military work and the law enforcement work are so important, because if these guys make it to the airport, everybody that's been through an airport knows that the tsa is a somewhat flawed model. you can't really count on the system that's been built to stop these terrorists.
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>> fran, when you listen to some things, i want to move on to what happens next here. barbara starr talking about the possibility of retaliatory strikes in yemen. how much broader do you think the war on al qaeda could get at this point? and is this the best way to go about it by moving on to retaliatory strikes? >> erica, i wrote an op-ed piece in "the washington post" today on this very point. i will tell you, while we ought to move cautiously, we have tried about everything one can try in terms of trying to convince the yemeni government to build its own capability. to take on these threats because they are self-interested. and we've given them economic aid and civil aid and soft power and we've tried it all. so there's going to come a point where they're not just a threat only to the united states, but as we've heard earlier, there was a threat -- an assassination attempt against the head of saudi security that failed. but that also emanated out of yemen.
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our consulate in jetta was attacked several years ago, guns coming from yellen. we've seen repeated threats both to the united states and to our allies in the region. so we're going to have to act with those allies to try to deal with this problem. >> jeff, in your research that you've done, is the u.s. prepared to broaden this war to this point, this war on terror, and be able to support that? >> that's the biggest question of all. but, again, it's very important to remember, we've been engaged in these operations in yemen since 2002. it might be new to a lot of people around the world, but the american government has certainly been engaged, but, yes, you ask an excellent question. are the american people, are the democrats in congress right now ready to say, in addition to what we're doing in iraq, in addition to ramping up in afghanistan, in addition to all of the complicated work that needs to be done in pakistan, are we ready to ramp up in yemen as well? we might be have to be ready to ramp up in yemen as well, but it's an open question to me whether we have the will and fortitude to try it at this point.
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>> and actually saying it out loud, that changes the game a little bit. jeffrey golalberg, fran townsen, thank you both. thank you for your insight. and a quick footnote for you. we're actually just learning now that the tsa has extended for another 24 hours the security measures put in place following that attempted terror attack on christmas day. among those regulations, requiring airlines to pat down all passengers boarding planes bound for the u.s. and inspecting their carry-on bags. just ahead tonight, what web postings reveal about the alleged christmas bomber and his apparent journey from westernized values to radical islam. and a bit later, a shocker in the sarah palin/bristol palin/levi johnston saga. they're all involved and we've got the update. it has more cargo space than pilot, and traverse beats honda on highway gas mileage too. more fuel efficient and 30% more room. maybe traverse can carry that stuff too. now get 0% apr for 72 months,
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we have been focusing tonight on the path to an intelligence failure, the kind that might have ended with hundreds of american fatalities, in fact, not just american fatalities, others as well, had that alleged christmas bomber succeeded. there is also the path that he took from child of privilege to allegedly soldier of al qaeda. and some of that story now coming to light through postings online. randi kaye has that angle. >> reporter: one of his first online postings to the islamic forum appeared in february 2005. it reads, "my name is umar but you can call me farouk." the more than 300 postings paint the alleged christmas day bomber as a lonely teen, someone who felt isolated and lost between his muslim faith and sinful temptations of the secular world. farouk, 1986, writes, "i have no friends, not because i do not socialize, i feel depressed and
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lonely." dr. jerrold post studies terror suspects and the online world. >> this is a man who was struggling between the temptations of the west and the strict preceps of the koran and finding himself failing. >> reporter: authorities have yet to verify that the postings were written by abdul farouk abdulmutallab, but the information match what is we already know about his personal history. the user name is farouk1986, a combination of the accused bomber's middle name and birth year. kasim rafik knew abdulmutallab in college in london and describes him as humble. >> he never came across as anyone who looked concerned. our conversations mainly centered around football. >> reporter: but the posts show he had more than football on his mind. loneliness led way to sexual
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desire, leading to, quote, minor sinful activities, leek not lowering the gaze, which he saw as his religious duty. he tried fasting to avoid what he called evil thoughts. the poster also wrote about life at an elite boarding school in togo, africa. that's where this young man first met abdulmutallab. he remembers him as devoutly religious. >> he was a friendly person, socialable. >> reporter: the happiest posts are from june 2005, when farouk1986 writes from yemen, where he was learning arabic. "the yemenis are so friendly and welcoming." one posting march 2005 includes his strongest words related to the iraq war and former president george bush. it reads, "why not forgive bush for invading muslim lands and killing my muslim brothers and sisters, all the people who oppress the muslims and all people who do me wrong, because surely allah's torment is enough
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for them." but are those the writings of a man that four years later would sew enough explosives into his underwear to bring down a u.s. airliner? >> there's something very desiring about the path of destruction. >> reporter: loneliness, confusion and a desire to belong may have preyed on umar abdulmutallab. randi kaye, cnn, new york. >> digging deeper now, peter bergen is back with us, along with former commander of the "uss cole," and an outspoken opponent of releasing guantanamo bay inmates, begun during the bush administration, some of whom reportedly worked with the alleged bomber in yemen. peter, as you look at the picture that has been painted by these postings online, what we just learned from randi here, a young man, grappling with his muslim identity. was abdulmutallab a prime candidate for al qaeda recruitment? >> there is no prime candidate for al qaeda recruitment, because there are
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all sorts of people that are being recruited. the operational commander of 9/11, he was somebody who spoke several languages, a misogynist, phd in urban preservation, ironically. one of the pilots on 9/11 was somebody who drank and socialized and was a fun guy. so there's no -- the fact that this guy was lonely, to me, is neither here nor there. that doesn't make him a prime target. he chose his path for reasons that we still don't really quite know. >> and hopefully we'll be learning more of that as we learn more and this proceeds, because, of course, he is still alive. i want to read to you a part of a letter that was written today to the president on behalf of lindsey graham, john mccain, and joe lieberman. "we write to express our deep concern about reports that the administration is planning to transfer six yemeni nationals currently being held in guantanamo bay, cuba, to the custody of the government of yemen. we request an immediate halt to the transfer of all detainees to yemen until the american people and the congress can be assured of the security situation in that country."
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there are just under 200 prisoners at guantanamo at this point, 91 of them from yemen. is that a reasonable request, to keep these particular prisoners at gitmo for the time being? >> i think it's very reasonable and i think it's a very good precautionary move. at this point, not knowing what the situation is in yemen, to repatriate 60 detainees that an inner agency review board that has determined now can be released with probably some pressure from the white house, clearly it's time to take a pause and say, keep them where they are, let's see how the situation continues to develop, and then make a long-range determination whether or not it's in our national interest to continue to release these detainees from yemen. clearly, in the past, they haven't proven their ability to govern their country, so it really doesn't make sense to be sending all these yemeni detainees back? peter, we should point out that two detainees released in november of 2007 were actually saudi nationals. two men who have been linked to al qaeda and the arabian
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peninsula, the group who has claimed responsibility for this alleged failed attack on christmas day. again, from saudi arabia, where they were sent to a rehabilitation, not from yemen. it is a yemen-specific problem. >> well, commander liphold knows this better than i. but on the "uss cole" attack, there were not one prisoner escape from people involved in the "cole" attack, it was two. not that the yemeni government doesn't have much of a grip on its own country or its own prison system. and we have disagreed in the past on this show about the recidivism rate of the detainees, but whether some people think it's 14%, like the pentagon says, or i think it's 4%, that's immaterial. clearly the situation in yemen is such that it would be fairly irresponsible, i think, to just willy-nilly return people to a place with what we've just seen in the last few days.
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now, i don't know enough about the cases of these guys we're talking about, the six that are being released. apparently their habeas corpus hearings were going to come up. they're probably low-hanging fruit. they're probably not the most -- there are about 100 yemenese detainees. my guess is that these guys are probably some of the -- the ones that there are less concerns about. but nonetheless, i think it's reasonable to say, let's have a pause here and let's see what's going on in yemen before we do anything precipitous. >> and when it comes specifically to the country of yemen, you alluded a little bit to this, commander liphold. there's been so much talk about the government and how frankly unstable it can be, depending on which way the wind is blowing at times. we mentioned earlier the foreign minister telling the bbc, we need western nations to do more. they have a responsibility in this fight. but the u.s. has stepped up, pledging $66 million in 2009, that's up from $4.6 million in 2006. but sometimes the remarks from the government seem to sort of be wavering.
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commander liphold, how willing of a partner do you think the government of yemen is when it comes to a fight on terror, when it comes to attacking and frankly eradicating al qaeda in their own country? >> well, i think you can look at the track record. record. despite u.s. attempts to try and help yemen out, they have not proven themselves to be a reliable or trustworthy partner. even today when you look at it, yemen is only responding, because suddenly the heat's being applied to them and the president is realizing that it could be his skin or his neck on the line by these terrorists that are trying to destabilize various parts of the country. i think we have to realize that we can push as much money and training as we need to to try to help the yemenese government combat al qaeda on the peninsula. but the reality is, unless president saleh allows these forces to be developed, get trained and get equipped to go into the country and take over
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the tribal regions that are giving free reign to al qaeda, that we're not going to be able to be effective and we'll end up in the same awkward position we were in 2002, where we'll be conducting unilateral operations in order to safeguard our national interests and we'll do it with or without the yemenese government cooperation. and we'll do it with or without the yemeni cooperation. >> appreciate both you being with us tonight. just ahead, actor charlie sheen facing assault charges. you'll hear the 911 call from his wife, who told police she thought she was going to die. we'll also dig into the actor's history of alleged domestic violence. and remember octomom? how could you forget her? we'll take a look back at 2009's most memorable medical headlines. dr. sanjay gupta is here. strange or serious, it definitely had us talking. would you like a pony ?
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a crippled tree... whose apples grew... on a branch in eden. but if you don't make it, there's always tomorrow.
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♪ tonight we are counting down the top songs of 2009. that, of course, "i got a feeling" by the black eyed peas. number four on billboard.com and apparently a favorite of kevin here, too, our floor director. coming up, sarah palin's family secrets. a judge's ruling could make them fair game in bristol palin and levi johnston's custody battle for little baby tripp. but first, randi kaye joining us with the 360 bulletin. >> shocking new video out of iran tonight, posted on youtube. it appears to capture iranian police ramming vehicles into a crowd of protesters, running
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over at least one. it will images were reportedly shot sunday during violent anti-government demonstrations that left at least eight people dead. a, quote, mildewy odor in tylenol arthritis pain capsules sparks a massive recall. they expanded a limited recall of its 100-count bottles after people experienced nausea, pain, vomiting, also diarrhea. those who purchased the capsules should stop using them and contact mcneil for a refund or replacement. the popular supplement ginkgo biloba has no affect alzheimer's. a new study out today shows the supplement has nothing to prevent memory decline. u.s. sales for ginkgo biloba hit a whopping $9 million. and in tennessee, a christmas miracle, as a policeman's badge saves his life. officer joshua smith was shot at point blank range christmas eve
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by a man he pulled over for drunk driving. desperate to staunch the wound, he was shocked to find there wasn't a wound at all. police say without his steel police badge, the gunshot could have killed him. it actually blocked the bullet. instead, he spent christmas opening gifts with his kids. isn't that a great story? >> i think so. i guess he got everything he wanted for christmas, huh? >> it's a miracle. >> not too bad. >> you can join the live chat happening now at ac360.com. plenty of discussion tonight with all the breaking news we've been bringing you. also ahead for you, the medical stories of 2009 that amazed, that outraged. among them, the octomom. yes, nadya suleman. eight babies, and when she did that, she created a new noun for the english language that we're still talking about. coming up, dr. sanjay gupta explains why. plus, actor charlie sheen's latest run-in with the law. the actor facing new charges of domestic violence. the allegations are ugly, they are on tape in a disturbing 911 call. and it's not the first time he's been down this path. we'll take a closer look at sheen's troubled past.
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♪ just dance ♪ just dance >> the third most popular song of 2009, "just dance," by lady gaga, that's according to billboard, and also a "360" favorite. we're counting down to the number one hit. and we're topping it off with
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the mega number, all the top 25 songs, all rolled into one. the kids use the "m" word, we're calling it the "a.c. 360" monster mega mash up. in tonight's "360" follow-up, we want to look back at some of the stories dr. sanjay gupta covered for us this year that really stand out. stories that more than made news, they ignited national conversations and in some cases bitter debates. i checked in with sanjay about that earlier. sanjay, this first one is, while some people may really want to forget, impossible to forget. nadya suleman, also known as the octomom, we see her here in this photo from tmz while still pregnant with eight babies. she delivered them in late january, but what followed was a hailstorm of controversy that didn't just happen among the civilians, there were plenty of people in the mental community who found this just ridiculous and insane on so many levels. why was it so controversial? >> the ethics of this was being debated, still being debated in
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many ways. and in many ways showed how many lax laws there are when it comes to exactly what we're talking about here. at issue is you have a 33-year-old woman who is getting ivf, in vitro fertilization. that's when they take fertilized eggs and implant them in a woman's uterus. in nadya's case, they implanted six eggs, and this is being debated in many ways. there is one state that has introduced a bill to try and prevent this from happening again. do you have any idea what that's called? >> no. there's an actual bill for this? i had no idea. >> yeah. it's called the octomom bill. i think the attitude toward it will become a little bit more stringent and maybe even some bills within organized medicines and outside as well. >> let's move on to actress natasha richardson. a tragic death in march. she had a head injury, fell on the ski slope. i know you covered this story very closely, sanjay, you went up to canada to retrace her steps. what did you find out in this story and what did it teach us? >> i was really fascinated by this as a neurosurgeon, but also
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trying to figure out how someone like this and natasha richardson is cared for in the situation. what happens is she's on a slope, she falls and hits her head. sounds like she fell just there being on a bunny hill. so it wasn't some sort of dramatic fall. and that could have been the first problem, in the sense that no one really took it that seriously, including her. she had what's known as an epidural hematoma. you don't need to remember that name, but basically it means blood was collecting between her brain and her skull. and that can happen in people who have what seems like rather innocuous falls. but they always have this period where they're knocked out and then wake up and seem like they're fine. it's called a lucid interval and it's something doctors are trained to look for. that could be a key warning sign. >> in april of this year, the beginning of a pandemic, of course. now, it's the h1n1 virus, but it's already carving a deadly path in mexico. you were right there, on the scene, following this as the story was unfolding for swine flu. and of course, we're still talking about it now, sanjay. >> i will remember this as long
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as i'm a journalist, maybe as long as i live. we were hearing in april about this deadly virus that was sweeping through mexico and some of the numbers that we were hearing were prettying staggering. up to 70% mortality rate, meaning seven out of ten people who were contracting this were dying. we were also hearing that a lot of these people were in the prime of their lives, 20s, 30s, and 40s as opposed to what we normally hear about with seasonal flu, in which older people and young people are the most effective. they predicted up to 90 million people would die. they predicted it would sweep the world. it has become a prevalent virus, but not nearly as deadly as people thought, which is obvious good news. >> one of the most controversial stories this year actually happened recently, those recommendations from a government panel about people no longer needing routine mammograms starting at the age of 40. talk about backlash and a firestorm over this one, sanjay. this is one i imagine, too, we could still be talking about into 2010. >> yeah, this task force essentially made a recommendation that women between the ages of 40 and 49 no
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longer need routine mammograms. that was sort of the language. and the backlash started almost immediately. the the department of health and human services was backtracking from this within a day. it was clear that people were, a, confused by this, and b, very concerned about the impact this might have. the hard part, i think, as a journalist and also a doctor was this idea that somehow you are placing a value on "x" number of mammograms and was it worth to get those mammograms to save someone's life. i do think that an important point was brought up about this, and is that that a task force makes recommendations about women not getting these routine mammograms and insurance companies may follow suit. and say, well, if they're not recommended, should we fay for them? and for 30% of women who should get mammograms already don't get them, this could be another reason why they don't. so i think there is a lot of confluence of factors there. >> and that was a lot of outrage, because this comes up as we're in the middle of talking about health care reform.
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sanjay, i have a feeling that 2010 may be equally as busy for you. >> i'll be right there. >> sanjay, thanks. plenty of stories that got you talking there in 2009. and one more that still has people chatting this year. charges that actor charlie sheen assaulted his wife. she says he threatened to kill her without leaving, quote, any trace. sheen denies those charges. we have the details as well as the 911 call. that's still ahead on "360." plus, a child custody battle between bristol palin and levi johnson going public. the details on the dispute and why levi wants it all out in the open. hi, may i help you? yes, i hear progressive has
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turning our attention now to the charlie sheen domestic abuse case. the actor today denying he put a knife to his wife's throat and threatened to kill her. sheen is free on bond tonight after his arrest on christmas in aspen, colorado. an arrest for domestic violence and assault charges. meantime, his wife claiming sheen not only threatened to kill her, but said it could make it happen without leaving, quote, any trace. perhaps even more disturbing, an up close look tonight shows that when it comes to charlie sheen, accusations of abuse aring nothing new.
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>> reporter: charlie sheen's wife called 911 on christmas day. she told police he pinned her to a bed, held a knife to her throat, and threatened to have her killed. allegedly saying, "i have ex-police i can hire who can get the job done." sheen was arrested and charged with assault, menacing with a deadly weapon, and criminal mischief. in the affidavit, police say sheen denied striking his wife or threatening her with a knife. this is not the first time the actor, who first burst on to the scene in the vietnam war drama "platoon," has been at the center of scandal. in 1990, while dating actress kelly preston, he allegedly shot her in the arm. sheen later told "playboy" magazine it was a complete accident. in 1994, sheen was the only celebrity client whose name was publicly released during the trial of hollywood madame heidi fleiss. in 1996, adult film actress
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heidi ashland accused sheen of throwing her on the floor and splitting her lip. he pleaded no con toast the battery charges. sheen entered rehab in 1998 after alleged drug overdose. >> he's my husband, so -- overd. who could forget his very public, nasty divorce from former bond girl denise richards. richards filed for divorce in 2005 while pregnant with their second child and filed a restraining order against him claiming sheen tried to kill her. sheen called the claim baseless. they had a prolonged custody battle over they are two daughters, and sheen objected to the girls appearing on the reality show it's complicated. none of this, though, seems to have rurt sheen's career. he's one of the highest paid actors on television. >> i figure three's a charm, four is a restraining order. >> and his character on the sitcom "two and a half men" reminds many viewers of his own bad boy image. a popular actor unscathed by his history of alleged reckless and
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violent behavior. following his recent arrest sheen's representative released the following statement. >> we want to dig deeper now with dr. charles sofie. as we heard in this piece, it's not the first time charlie sheen has been accused of abuse. is it possible for someone who is perhaps a repeat abuser to actually change? >> well, i don't know this case specifically, but in general if someone is going to stay in denial, they're not going to get some help. if they're open to addressing some of these issues, absolutely. changing is all about owning it and knowing it and really moving forward. but you first have to be able to own it, and owning it means you step up and say i am responsible for those kinds of behaviors and i want to change them. >> and if a person is responsible for those behaviors,
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of course, the trickle-down effect can be enormous, not just the victims but others who may not be initial victims, but children here. you were the medical director of children and family services. brook mueller and charlie sheen have 9-month-old twins. how are kids affected when it comes to domestic violence in the home? >> well, you know, you have to first remember that domestic violence isn't just something physical. it can be emotional. it could be neglect. so children are atune to all those kinds of signals, energies, loud voices, et cetera in a home. parents need to be very careful and be very aware that their children are sponges. they're hearing this and worried about it, they know the tones of your voices. please be aware, because there is a huge trickle-down effect on your family. >> when it comes to this incident, i know you're not specifically familiar with this case, but we're learning more details about that night. as we just heard, charlie sheen's representative said you don't want to jump to conclusions here. you need to hear everything out, hear both sides. there are reports now that his wife is recanting perhaps her
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story. would it be normal in cases of domestic violence generally speaking for a victim to change their story? >> absolutely. oftentimes domestic violence is referred to as intimate partner violence, because a lot of this stuff happens in intimate relationships, which then leads either the perpetrator or victim to recant what has happened. they feel guilty. they don't want to get their loved one in trouble and disrupt their family, but that's part of the problem. you need to expose this to get the healing that has to happen. >> dr. charles sophie tonight, thank you. james arthur ray. what annually released documents reveal about the self-guru's past and what he did when people fell ill during his high he-he priced seminar. that custody battle taking a new turn, and it's a he victory for lee vee johnston. those details are just ahead. first, lady gaga taking us to break to break with "poker
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face." the number two song of 2009. ♪ can't read my poker face
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note note note boom boom ♪ boom boom boom ♪ got to get that ♪ >> boom boom pow by the black-eyed peas is the number one song of 2009. what do they all sound like mashed together? i'll give you a hint. it's really good. we're going to play it for you in a second. first, we want to get you caught up on important stories we're follow willing tonight as well. randi kaye is back. >> newly released documents show that long before that fatal sweat lodge ceremony in october people were falling ill at self-help events led by james arthur ray. it ranged from broken bones to blacking out and witnesses told investigators ray failed to summon emergency help.
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no files have been charged in the sweat lodge incident. an alaska judge has denied bristol palin's request to keep the custody fight private. he's seeking shared custody and ask the case be conducted in public to protect him from the former alaskan govern wror who he described as powerful with a reputation for being vindictive. which celebrity would most like to have as a next door neighbor. there's a poll for everything. the first he family came out on top followed by sarah palin who tied with ellen degeneres and her partner. the poll asked about worst possible neighbors. get this. octo-mom nadya suleman and her brood of 14 children topped the worst list. jon and kate gosselin were right behind octo-mom with their big brood, and sarah palin made the worst list as well coming in third. >> how about that? >> top three was elvis and trump and oprah.
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>> for the worst? >> for the most favored neighbors. >> they want the rich neighbors. interesting. >> they have a lot of parties and stuff. this would be a good one to play at a party. tonight's shot throughout the night we count down the top four songs for you of 2009 according to billboard.com. check out this mashup of bill board top 25 that our good friend jack ray found on youtube. it is d.j. ear worm as united state of pop of 2009. ♪ ♪ even if the sky is fall down ♪ ♪ down down down ♪ down down down ♪ so baby don't worry ♪ all right all right ♪ if it knocks you d