tv Larry King Live CNN December 30, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EST
>> the only unfortunate thing we can't play the whole thing. >> it's really long. it's good stuff. i was rocking out in my office earlier. >> almost as good as bob and the guys dancing here. >> nothing can top that. that does it for this edition of "360." thanks for watching. larry king starts right now. tonight breaking news. the terror suspect who allegedly got on a plane with a bomb was reported to the cia by his own father. did the agency drop the ball putting hundreds of lives on the line? president obama demands answers. >> a systemic failure has occurred. there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security. >> plus, the man who did what security couldn't. the hero of flight 253 is here.
what does he think now about being a last line of defense between a would-be bomber and a deadly plan? next on "larry king live." good evening. i'm candy crowley sitting in for larry king. his staff is still here, so we have a jam-packed show because we have breaking news. helping me walk you through that, jeanne meserve and ed henry in honolulu. he's covering, of course, the obama administration and the president out there on christmas vacation. let's get right to it. maybe a reset. where are we? what do we know today? >> the president came out and said pieces of information that have not put together, and we've discovered one of those pieces of information at least frchlt a very well-placed source we learned that the father of umar
embassy. when he went there, he conversed with cia representatives at the embassy. what we're told is that the cia people at the embassy wrote a report, and that report was sent on to cia headquarters in langley, but it was not distributed more widely to the intelligence community in the united states. what i'm told is that if that report had been disseminated more widely it might have been pieced together with other information that had come in. might not have been name specific. maybe it talked about a nigerian and a man of a certain age, maybe it talked about travel to yemen. we don't know yet, but it seems apparent that there was a failure to put these pieces togeth together. this cia report is part of it. >> we don't know if the cia report mentioned the suspect by name. >> the cia report did. it's the other intelligence. we're not sure. they might not have had a name. i have a statement from a cia spokesman who said we learned of him in november. we did not have his name before
then. >> so this seems to me a very familiar scenario here that we went through basically in that whole connecting the dots following 9/11. is there any -- you've been talking to sources all day long, some i assume are in the cia but you don't have to tell me and wouldn't, but what -- what is the sense you are getting here? is there some tension going on between these -- >> oh, yeah. i think there will be a lot of tension building between the different component. here's one reason why. the statement from the cia spokesperson he said we worked with the embassy to make sure he was in the database. we also forwarded key biographical information to him to the national counterterrorism center. they don't say if they forwarded all the information they had, but they're certainly pushing back here. yeah, i think we'll see a little warfare and it might get bloody. >> ed henry, of course the man
in charge of all of this is president obama. did you get the sense today -- i he mean, i was looking at it from afar -- that there was a little simmering anger with the president? is what jeanne reporting why it seems to be rat chetting up out there? >> i think it is clear for a number of reasons. the president's body language is firmer than yesterday calling for accountability. he didn't touch any of that yesterday. what happened between yesterday and today, just in the last few moments we learned from senior administration officials that basically late last night some new intelligence came into the white house basically suggesting, as jeanne is reporting, that all of the pieces were not put together by the intelligence community. what senior officials are telling us, is that squares exactly with what jeanne is reporting, if more dots had been connected and more people had been talking in different agencies, they believe they could have thwarted this terror
attack sooner. we're told by the senior officials that early tuesday morning today, the president went on a secure conference call with his national security adviser jim jones and others who told him about this new intelligence, and that is why the president came out and his aides say in the interest of transparency telling the american people there's more here. he wanted to get it out there, and that's why it came out, candy. >> as ed mentioned the president was out again today for the second day in a he row talking about this incident. we want to play you a little bit of what he said. >> secretary napolitano has said once the suspect attempted to take down flight 253, after his attempt, it's clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions. but what's also clear is this. when our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been so that this extremist boards a plane with
dangerous explosives that have cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred. i consider that totally unacceptable. >> so jump ball. is there more out there? i mean, is this going to be another thing where we go, i can't believe this? >> i think there are definitely other pieces there. he said there are bits and pieces. we found one bit. there's more. >> ed, do you get the sense that early on the white house sort of saw this as one of those lone wolf attacks or attempts, or do you think they -- why were they seemingly and they got criticized by republicans a little slow to put the president out there? >> reporter: well, a number of things. number one, they did initially tell us some senior officials they thought it was more likely to be a lone wolf. just in the last hour we've gotten senior officials saying now we're picking up maybe there is a link to al qaeda.
something that jeanne meserve already reported in detail yesterday, but we're picking up more about that tonight. the second point is initially they didn't put the president out because they said look, the homeland security secretary janet napolitano just mentioned, she'll be out there on sunday. you talked to her on sunday's "state of the union" and pressed her on some of this, and i was stunned that she talked about the system working and never quite said there needs to be accountability. some things went wrong. i've been pressing white house officials today, why didn't she say what the president said on sunday what the president said. they said she cleaned it up on monday. she did. it seemed they didn't acknowledge the obvious. there were specific problems, that dots were not connected and maybe heads will roll. it's clear the president said it today and gave the intelligence community a deadline of thursday. it's clear some heads will roll, candy. >> she couldn't have said what the president said today because they were vietnam vacuuming up
information from the intelligence community. she couldn't have gone that far, certainly as ed says. she might have been a little bit more transparent about the system. >> saying this was just one man certainly was a problem. wasn't her best moment as we all know. we'll hear from former government insiders and get their reaction to today's revelations next.
we have a couple of experts here as you know. we have breaking news about this christmas day incident, which was almost catastrophic in the skies over detroit. with me is frances townsend who served as chief antiterrorism and homeland security security add visor for president george bush. jack rice, former cia officer and journalist so we're kind of colleagues. okay. what is your take on what happened here? you've worked inside the cia. i to tell you that right off the bat, i don't understand why on sunday the homeland security secretary didn't seem to know that this man's name had popped up in a cia report, and the president didn't really allude to it until today. is it possible they didn't learn until last night or this morning that there's a report in langary? >> yes. i think that's really the problem here. i think that's the case.
if we look back at what we have done over the last eight years, we turned this world upside-down deciding to reorganize the government and spend billions of dollars and do amazing things, but this fundamental problem exists. the inability to take a piece of information and put it out there in a place where everybody else can grab it and connect it to something. it's not just about acquiring things. that's one of the things the agency does. it has to be about analyzing them and saying what does this mean? if all we're doing is acquiring things for their own sake, there's no point. as a journalist you understand this. if you go and do an interview, but the video camera doesn't work, the interview doesn't exist. if you have a camera and you miss everything, it's the same thing with this. if they don't provide it out there and analyze it and understand what it means, it's completely irrelevant. the cia or somebody fundamentally dropped the ball here. >> these are people who want to protect the country. this isn't people who sort of
walked into a bureau accuratetic job. some put their lives on the line. what is wrong here that eight years after 9/11 we set up this multi-billion dollar agency so they can connect the dots and they don't? why not? >> two things, candy, i think are worth mentioning here. the level of the experience at the cia is dramatically reduced. it's a much younger work force. more than 60% of the their work force has come in since 9/11. you have a less experienced work force. that's one. none of it makes it any less horrific it didn't he happen. the second is to the point of analysis, that's what the national counterterrorism center was created to do. john brennan, president obama's homeland security adviser was the first chief of that unit and helped to put the rules in place. john understands very well the importance of this information sharing, but it's not just a question of information systems. it really is a question of will
and breaking the cultures and requiring the sharing. it's incredibly frustrating so many years after september 11th with so many changes in place we still have this. >> why do you have to require sharing? these people are sworn to protect the united states, whether they're dia or cia or fbi. >> you understand on the inside here in d.c. one of the things that happens inside the beltway and sometimes it's about a need-to-know question. certainly on the intelligence side. that sort of stays with the culture that i think is broken, because it's our information. we will figure out what this means, and we will determine whether or not we're going to share this out. that is a failure. it really has been in the past. i know they have try heed to fix this, and they've talked about fixing this and spent billions of dollars saying they're going to fix this. this is reminiscent of what we were all talking about on september 12th of 9/11 and every day there forward. >> they're not making widgets here.
they're trying to protect the country. i just think it's appalling. >> it is appalling. we continue to see the sort of bureaucratic turf battles that impede the sharing process. we've seen a real struggle between the director of national intelligence, denny blair, who oversees the national center and director leon panetta. there's lots of friction. it's an open wound here in washington. you know, boy, the american people are right and congress is right to be frustrated if those sorts of personal turf battles between two agencies impede them getting their jobs done. >> okay. 15 seconds each. magic wand. first thing the president does? >> first thing he does is he forces an answer out of this. he has to figure out who made the mistake on the front end and all the way up the chain. chief of station back at langley, why wasn't this spread? who dropped the ball? somebody clearly did that. >> the president was angry
today. we have to get to the bottom and understand why the ball got dropped so we can fix it. >> serious stuff. thank you all so much. at least one member of congress is calling for the homeland security secretary's resignation. it's dan burton, and he's here. our primetime exclusive in 60 seconds. while i was building my life, my high cholesterol was contributing to plaque buildup in my arteries. that's why my doctor prescribed crestor. she said plaque buildup in arteries is a real reason to lower cholesterol. and that along with diet, crestor does more than lower bad cholesterol, it raises good. crestor is also proven to slow the buildup of plaque in arteries. crestor isn't for everyone, like people with liver disease, or women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant. simple blood tests will check for liver problems. you should tell your doctor about other medicines you are taking, or if you have muscle pain or weakness. that could be a sign of serious side effects. while you've been building your life,
plaque may have been building in your arteries. find out more about slowing the buildup of plaque at crestor.com. then ask your doctor if it's time for crestor. announcer: if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. welcome back to "larry king live" where we're covering the constantly breaking news about the christmas day scare in the skies over detroit where a would-be terrorist tried to blow up a plane. fortunately he did not. i want to bring in from i understand analysis congressman dan burton, republican of indiana. obviously, he's a member of the foreign affairs and oversight and government reform committees. let me ask you this one blanket question. what is your reaction to the news coming out tonight about the cia report sitting in langley about this suspect? >> first of all, once again, i hear people in the
administration, in the media trying to make the cia the scapegoat. this report was made from nigeria some time ago, and i can't believe, since we now have a director of intelligence, that the cia didn't give that to the director of intelligence. if that information was dishe sem natured to him, it was his responsibility to make sure that all the intelligence agencies had that information. this guy was on the watch list. that's one of the reasons why i called for janet napolitano's resignation, because as the head of homeland security she should have made sure that anybody that was on that watch list was disseminated around the world so that they were watching for them and making sure they were cleared and checked thoroughly before they got on an airplane. they did not do that. that's one of the reasons she should be replaced. i don't think she has the experience to do the job. >> as i understand it, there are about a half million people on the watch list.
is it realistic to think that we would know where they all are at any given time? >> no, it's not realistic to know where all of them are any one given time. if you disseminated that information around the world to the various intelligence agenci agencies, they through the computers we have can alphabetically go through and check whether somebody is getting on the plane. this is not rocket science, and to say where there's a half million of them, we can't check them all, is just kicking the ball down the road. we have to check these and keep them off of american planes so they he don't kill hundreds of thousands of people. >> he was not on the no-fly list, in fact, and probably if his name turned up. >> that makes no difference to me. the cia talked to his father. his father went there and told them that he was a risk. they sent that information to langl langley. i believe that information did go to the director of
intelligence. that information, because we put that director of intelligence in place, was supposed to disseminate that information all over the place to every intelligence agency. we did that right after 9/11 because the cia and fbi weren't talking to each other, and so that's why the director of intelligence was created. this information was sent to cia, and i do not believe leon panetta or the cia would have kept that from the director of intelligence. if they got it to him, i'm confident he would dishe sem natu disseminate it to homeland security. he should have been checked thoroughly before he got on there. not to mention he didn't have luggage and bought a one-way ticket and paid cash and he came from nigeria and he came through -- imean, come on. he should have never been on that plane. >> representative burton is staying with us, because i have lots more questions for him. we'll be joined by political observers. who do they think is to blame,
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welcome back to "larry king live." as promised congressman dan burton is sticking with us. also joining us out of los angeles ben stein, economist. he served as a speechwriter for presidents nixon and ford and is a columnist for "fortune" magazine. from new york, mark hill, associate professor at columbia university and nationally syndicated columnist. finally, joining me here in d.c., peter beinart, senior political writer for the daily beast and professor for the city university of new york and author of "the good fight, why liberals and only liberals can win the war on terror and make america great again." we're out of time because you are all way too well credentialed.
moving along you've written a book that sounds just right for this time. what do you make of what's happened today and the news that a report was at the cia about this suspect? >> well, clearly, this problem of sharing intelligence continues to be a major issue but i think the larger context here is that as we move further and further away from september 11, concerns about terrorism receded on both sides of the aisle. the balance between privacy and security tipped back toward privacy. that vote in the house on not allowing these body scan machines was a totally bipartisan vote. democrats and republicans didn't want to. now that we've seen the threat again is quite serious i think you'll see the balance tipping back a little bit the other direction. >> congressman burton, i wanted to get back to you just on one thing we were talking about earlier. i know you want janet napolitano to quit as homeland security secretary but homeland security department was put together under the bush administration with some foot dragging albeit. it has been eight years since 9/11.
isn't there some joint culpability here that in eight years we have still failed to be able to get these agencies to talk to each other, as we have said for years, to connect the dots? isn't this a joint responsibility? >> well, we did create and pass a law to create the head of the intelligence agency, the director of intelligence. he was supposed to coordinate all of the intelligence agencies so there was no break between the cia and the fbi and dia and homeland security. i believe he has carried that responsibility out. that's why i say i can't believe the cia got this information from nigeria in a report and didn't tell him about it and if they told him about it, it's his responsibility to disseminate it to the other agencies. that's why i think janet napolitano dropped the ball by not making sure this guy was watched and wasn't on that watch list so they'd watch him very closely. >> just to make clear, you don't know for sure leon panetta saw
this report. you're assuming that he did. is that correct? >> well, his responsibility, he is ordered to report to the director of intelligence and i know leon. i served with him in the house. i don't think he would not do that and i think his subordinates would not keep him in the dark. >> let me veer back with ben stein because of something that peter just said. ben, i would love to hear how you feel about those imaging body scanning intrusive what do they call that, digital strip search. how do you feel about those machines? >> it's perfectly fine with me. i travel almost every day. i'm on airplanes literally more than i am at home. it doesn't bother me a bit. it does bother me a lot we old people are not allowed to use the bathroom for an hour before we land. that's going to be very tough on us old people. you know, i hear all this talk about the director of this, the head of this. look, the responsibility lies with the bureaucracy, with these guys lower down, gals lower down in the bureaucracy. i worked in a bureaucracy for several years after i got out of
school. i know what the bureaucrats are like. they've got lifetime tenure. nobody is riding herd on them. nobody is very motivated. it's a lifetime gig. and nobody really feels that heped up to do anything. they don't usually get the smartest, sharpest people there are, and we shouldn't be entrusting our lives to people with this level of motivation and competence. i'm afraid we are. >> admittedly, we do not know exactly what happened here and who had what and all of that. >> exactly. >> but from what we know now what is your assessment of what went on? >> my assessment is there is enough blame to go around for everyone. this guy had a visa. he shouldn't have had a visa in the first place. that's a state department issue and can really open up a very provocative conversation about whether the distribution of visas should become a law enforcement issue. there is also the fact this guy was on a watch list but didn't make it to a no-fly list.
also, the guy had a bomb strapped to him and somehow made it through airport security. there is enough to go around for everyone. it's too reactionary to call for napolitano's firing. that isn't the actual issue. the issue is the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. part of it is bureaucracy. part of it is incompetence and part of it is the lack of leadership in the tsa and cia and state department right now on this issue. >> let me play for you all a little bit of the president. he came out today with a wholly different tone really than yesterday and i want to play just a little bit and get your reaction. >> there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. we've achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks but it's becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have. >> ben, let me quote you back to you.
last night you said about the president's statement yesterday, and that was the statement from today, but yesterday when you heard his statement you said, it was as if someone said after pearl harbor, okay. we've all got to be vigilant against of japanese and germans. did he do better today? >> he did. maybe i am a fool for saying this but i hate the idea of him talking about these national security issues while wearing a polo shirt or whatever he is wearing. it seems it is emblemattic of the fact he is not taking it seriously enough. >> oh. >> this is an extremely serious matter. i'd like to see him address it with dead seriousness. we are at war with people trying to kill children, women, innocent civilians. let's approach it with extreme seriousness. maybe it's all right he's wearing a polo shirt but let's approach it with extreme seriousness. >> time-out. i know you all want to jump all over this. i can hear you groaning. we've got to take a break. we'll be back with everybody right after this.
welcome back to "larry king live." we were in the midst of a conversation that ben stein kicked off by suggesting that the president did not appear at least to be as serious as he needs to be about this terrorist threat whereupon there were groans from two people. so let me start with you, mark. do you think the president has been projecting -- because we all know that it matters what image you project. do you have a problem with the image projected from honolulu? >> from a matter of pure political strategy, certainly he has not projected the strongest image. waiting until monday to be seen publicly talking about this issue was a problem. having gibbs and napolitano say
the system worked, however they tried to backtrack on sunday, was a political mistake. it would also be a mistake to agree with ben and suggest that somehow because the president comes out with a polo shirt rather than a neck tie that he isn't serious on terror. he has been hawkish on iran, sent troops to afghanistan. he has launched strikes in yemen. he's followed the bush blueprint almost word for word in terms of military action. i can't imagine having any more military gravitas than he has right now. >> peter, you have to admit at some level with napolitano and gibbs the impression that you got coming away was, well, you know, everything is safe and fine and there wasn't, you know, this was christmas weekend and i talked to a number of people who were frightened. do you think the administration has handled this badly? has projected the wrong image whether it has to do with a polo shirt or how long he took? >> i think it was a big misjudgment and it was this. there was no other news this week. congress is out. there is nothing going on. this is all there is to talk
about. >> you don't think this would have been huge news? >> but if it happened in january when health care was back and we were moving toward health care it wouldn't have blocked out the sun like this. i think that's part of the reason besides napolitano's bad performance that they really got behind the 8 ball. i think what obama did today was the first move to suggest they're getting on top of it because by showing he is angry, he's showing he takes this seriously. secondly he is sending a subtle message, this is the problem of my bureaucracy that i'm going to ride herd on not the problem of my political appointees which is where the focus had been before. >> congressman burton let me get you in on this. how do you think the president has done? >> this issue should blot out the sun. we're talking about american citizens on a plane with a terrorist and they're not calling him a terrorist. they're calling him everything but a terrorist. this guy was trying to kill americans. he's tied in with al qaeda. this is not an -- even if we were talking about health care or a cap and trade or anything
else, this is number one because this is a security of american citizens. and i don't agree with what the gentleman just said. this is an issue that the president should focus on. this country should focus on, janet napolitano should not be saying terrorist attacks are man-made disaster. that's ridiculous. this is something we all ought to focus on right now in the congress and in the white house because this terrorism thing is not going to go away. it's going to get worse. it should be the number one issue we're dealing with. >> it's a war, candy. it's a war. i'd love to hear the president say, it's a war. not a war against muslims. not a war against any particular country but a war against evil, sick, warped, crazy, murderous people and we're going to fight it the way we fought the nazis. >> that's right. >> everybody is going to come back. we have to take another break. and we will see what else they've he got to say.
a mermaid darts in dark hollow... light drips in shimmering scale... did i merely see a girl that day... and drm the glorious tail? but i'd still recommend you visit belfast... before you leave northern ireland. i'm afraid some of the events over the past couple months have suggested that old paradigm, the need to know has maybe been receded in some of these organizations because it doesn't appear to me there is a willingness to share that kind of information that we need to make america as safe as we want it to be. >> suggestion by the former secretary of homeland security that we are, seem to be back at square one. peter, you think there are large implications of what's happened. everyone is safe but there is an implication for some other policy. >> well, there is a huge
implication for obama's desire to abolish gitmo, which i support by the way. the problem is a very large number of those guys are yemenis now. they would go back to yemen. two of the people allegedly involved in this plot supporting this guy were people let out of gitmo by george w. bush. the yemenis are not very good at dealing with these people when we send them back. it's going to make it that much more difficult for obama to deal with the guantanamo bay problem. >> they could end up in illinois though. >> some are supposed to go back to yemen very soon. >> or saudi arabia who has expressed interest in working more cooperatively. yemen is absolutely terrible at sustaining prisons. >> the saudis haven't done a good job either. >> no i agree but that might be another option. i think the real issue is will obama cave to the pressure of the right? whenever an issue like this happens he becomes more hawkish. we saw this with afghanistan. he ends up sending 30,000 more
troops because of the allegation that he was dithering. we will suddenly cave now and not close guantanamo out of some mass produced fear from the right which isn't legitimate. >> it is totally legitimate to keep these guys in prison forever. i don't care whether it's guantanamo or illinois or downtown manhattan as long as they keep them in prison forever. none of these guys seem to have left and founded a charity to do micro-lending to people in small villages in india. these are very bad people. we want to keep them in prison. my humble thought again is a bureaucracy is something you don't know unless you've been in it. it moves like sludge. it moves very, very slowly. the idea that the same people in this bureaucracy are also going to be handling our health care, our carbon tax credits, our cap and trade, all this other stuff is going to be handled by these faceless, unresponsive bureaucrats, is quite frightening. >> congressman, i think you're probably cheering. >> well, i am. ben, you and i are blood brothers. let me just say that regarding napolitano i don't believe that she is qualified.
the statements she has been making are not reassuring to the american people. she calls terrorist attacks man-made disaster. now, everybody in america knows we're in a war against terror except she's not commenting about it. when she talks about it, she says things like the system worked. she says things like this was a man-made disaster when it was a terrorist act. >> congressman, a lot of this trouble dates back to the bush administration doesn't it, as well? is it fair to go after her all the time? >> well, we're not in the bush administration. that was a long time ago. we are now in the obama administration and napolitano is in charge of the security of this country. homeland security. and if she can't do the job, and if she's making statements like she has been making not reassuring the american people and letting people on the watch list get on planes because they don't disseminate information that they should she should be replaced. that's it. >> but, congressman, that hasn't been confirmed.
we don't know if the cia had information. it's pure conjecture only from you. and if we were to reduce people -- i'm saying the -- you sfad the cia director had information he would have given it and suggest that he did not have it. we don't know. cnn just reported it, sir. >> we don't know whether it was distributed. we don't know nearly enough to suggest napolitano should resign. it's absurdly premature. >> if we were to reduce people to sound bites george bush said mission accomplished. george bush said brown was doing a good job when people were drowning in katrina. we don't reduce people to a sound bite and their worst political moment. the system itself is broken. it's dysfunctional. you can't isolate that with napolitano. >> that is why we came out with the director of intelligence to coordinate all of this. and that's his responsibility. >> i'm going to have to have a quick show of hands from all of you. who believes that anyone on the
top levels gets fired over this or is this just a big bureaucratic mess? anybody getting fired? >> i think -- >> nobody. >> some lower level person will be fired but the bureaucracy will still be just as incompetent and will run more of your lives every day. >> i hope it changes. >> they should staff these departments with what if not bureaucrats? political appointees? it is an odd statement. >> lively, energetic people who are motivated. >> i'm sure people of the cia would be heartened to hear you don't think they're he lively or care about the security of the country. >> i don't care if they're heartened or not. they're clearly screwing up. >> more later. this argument will continue i suspect for several months and to the question can we take the politics out of this? i don't think so. we will be back in 60 seconds. thank you to all my guests. dan burton, ben stein, mark bernard hill and peter beinart.
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welcome back to "larry king live." he helped tackle the terror suspect on flight 253. what he did on christmas day may be even more remarkable given today's turn of events. now that he's had some time to think about everything we want to ask him how he's feeling now about this very close call. jab per jasper, it certainly looks as though this suspect did have tieing with al qaeda. did anything like that occur to you when you lept over some seats and tackled this guy? >> no, not at all. first i thought it just might be
a crazy guy to actually carry a firecracker onto the airplane. it came as quite a shock when i heard he had ties to al qaeda. >> we will have a lot more with jasper when we come back. we have to take a quick break. he will be back with us on the other side. all my business information is just a phone call away-- to my wife... who's not answering. announcer: there's a better way. 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.
female announcer: from jennifer, a sweeping chaise sectional at the unheard of price, now just $399. with luxurious styling and so affordable, $399. from jennifer. look who is sitting in for anderson cooper tonight. it is my friend erica hill. what are you working on up there? >> hey, candy. great to see you. we'll continue to cover the breaking news which you've been on top of all hour long including the missed signals, the lack of communication, what some are calling the frightening incompetence of america's intelligence agencies to stop the would-be christmas bomber from ever getting on that plane. just how can it be eight years after 9/11 that one intelligence
agency has information on someone and fails to share it with others? we're keeping them honest tonight. also breaking, those signs of escalation. cnn learning the u.s. and yemen are now talking about possible retaliatory strikes in that country. that would have global implications. we'll talk about that and also the reality of this with our terrorism analyst peter bergen. plus, we're closing in on the end of the year so will check in with dr. sanjay gupta and look at the most important medical stories of 2009, what they could mean for everyone and their health as we move into the next decade. that and much more at the top of the hour. >> i'll have to stay and watch. thanks. we'll see you at the top of the hour. we are back now with jasper shuringa. one of the things that occurs to me is i think everybody wonders what they would do in a situation such as you faced. would they sit in their seat because they were too frightened? did any of that go through your head or did you think this guy may be in trouble?
or what was going through your head when you did this? >> well, first i had no clue what was happening. first it was just a bang and trying to look around like where is the bang coming from. it took a couple seconds before somebody screamed, fire, fire. so we looked to the left, and then we saw this person sitting in the seat all the way at the left side of the aisle. he was on fire, and a normal person would stand up. he wasn't standing up, so then i knew this guy's trying to do something. so, yeah, i directly knew that this is, yeah, a bomb attack. >> were you afraid? you just went over and -- >> well, i think at a moment like that there's so much going on in your mind that you're not afraid and don't think and just jump. it's just a reaction.
>> when you got to the suspect, what was he doing? did he say anything? did he do anything? >> well, he was still sitting, and he was getting on fire. and he was still holding the device, the bomb right there, and he was still holding it in his hands. i had to like rip the bomb out of his hands, and i remember him looking at me, staring at me, and he was -- he was just being afra afraid. it was just a very weird, weird situation. >> so he seemed afraid as you were going after him? >> yeah. he seemed afraid, and he was not easy letting go of the bomb, no. >> do you close your eyes at night and revisit that moment? >> not yet. >> not yet. so you've been pretty peaceful since then? >> luckily i've he been peaceful
so far, and i hope i will keep it like that. >> well, it is an amazing story, and i know there are a lot of people awfully happy you were there. jasper, we really appreciate your being with us tonight. >> thank you. >> another flight 253 passenger and witness to the terror is going to join us next. you are watching "larry king live."
so your entire family was on this plane. let me ask you first, rochelle, your feelings now about what jasper and others did now that you've had a little time to reflect on what happened. >> first and foremost, i want to say thank you to jasper, because you're a hero, and we just -- from my family i also -- we're so thankful that you did what you did, and the other passengers who helped because your brave ry saved us. so thank you. i'm grateful rilt now. >> that must feel pretty good, jasper. let me ask richelle the same thing i asked him. when you shut your eyes, do you relive this, or have you found a certain calm after that storm? >> you know, with children being home and they're seeing snow for the first time and just so many
new things, our focus right now is just on the fact that we're here and we're able to live these moments with them. so i can't say he i've necessarily relived it. however, i did have a connecting flight after the flight from amsterdam to detroit, and the at that moment i definitely relived it. >> that must be very nerve-racking to get on a plane again. but you're with us tonight for which we are grateful. you also saw something strange happen when the man -- the fire started and everyone raced for him. what was it that you observed? >> well, as this was all going on, i just happened to look over and about ten seats ahead of me was to the left-hand side was a man with a camcorder, and he was
filming the entire thing. it was definitely a little out of the ordinary. i mean, i don't know why he was standing up, and we were supposed to be seated. and he was filming it. >> we ought to just tell everybody that jeanne meserve has reported tonight that the fbi says it has analyzed a number of videotapes that were shot by passengers on that flight, and none has proven particularly useful to the investigation. nonetheless there's a lot of co-motion and someone is filming it, and although in this day and age we shouldn't be too surprised since everything shows up somewhere eventually. let me ask you, jasper, as you look back, have you thought about, okay, take another flight? have you talked to any relatives? they must see you have gotten some fame. >> i've definitely talked to my family, and i think we're all like richelle. we're just very happy that we're all still alive and that we're living for another day. of course, for everybody it's
quite a big shock that a person can like that -- tries to take out our lives. that's just -- that's just unimaginable. so, yeah, my family is very happy that i'm still here and that we can see each other more. >> probably more focused on the fact that they can talk to you now than the fact that you helped wrestle this man to the ground. let me ask you because so many little bits and pieces are coming out now, in particular the photos, i don't know if you've seen them, of the underwear where he had strapped in -- you can see it there if you look at a monitor where he had strapped in the explosives. do you have any reactions when you see this story? i mean does it seem surreal to you as you look at that jasper? >> it does actually, because i just saw the device for the first time actually, and so i was trying to -- when i was interrogated by he the fbi i was trying to think what i was
actually holding, because like it was very -- it was very thick. i just -- but it's -- it was like what the actual object is. but it all happened so fast. it's just like everything just happened in a blink of an eye. but, yeah, it's quite scary to have held a bomb in your hands. it's not something you do every day. >> what did you think about the security in amsterdam? you've had time to reflect on that, too. did you look back and say how did this guy get on and gone through in your head what you had to go through to get on the plane? >> yes. well, unfortunately when i thought about, we were talking about him, my family and i, and the security was nothing compared to how it is in the united states. we walked through and did not have to take our shoes off. also, my mother had a water