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Bombing Suspect Charged; Security Increased at U.S. Airports; Violent Protests in Iran

Aired December 27, 2009 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING for the 27th of December. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin, in for Betty Nguyen this Sunday. It is 8:00 a.m. in Atlanta, 7:00 a.m. in Nashville, 5:00 in the morning for those of you waking up in San Diego. Thank you for starting your Sunday with us.

We want to get right to our top story here. Take a good look here. We have a new photo and we're getting some new emerging details into this Northwest Airline terror plot.

This young terror suspect that you're looking at right -- guess what? He's the son of a rich Nigerian banker. So, we're asking, what went wrong?

HOLMES: Well, we know what went right in some instances on that plane, because a young Dutchman jumped to action on the Northwest Flight 253, getting details from him specifically about what happened.

Take a listen.


JASPER SCHURINGA, HELPED SUBDUE TERROR SUSPECT: I freaked, of course, and without any hesitation, I just jumped over all the seats and jumped to the suspects, because I was thinking (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he is trying to blow up the plane.


HOLMES: We don't have him live, so he won't be cursing on our air this morning. But that's all right. He went through a lot on that plane. You're going to meet the man who helped save hundreds of lives.

BALDWIN: Amazing. Also, in Iran, thousands of people are filling the streets there this morning.

Take a look. People on the ground -- they're telling us it is the largest crowd they have seen in Tehran in years. We're telling you why a religious holiday here is serving as a back drop for a very violent public protest. (MUSIC)

BALDWIN: But first here, some new details, new information as to this effort to bring down that Northwest Airlines flight with 289 people onboard.

Take a good look.

Twenty-three-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was officially charged yesterday and a senior administration official is saying that the father of the suspect here actually contacted the U.S. embassy in Nigeria with some concerns that his son might have been up to something.

Well, Abdulmutallab was actually on this terror watch list, and now, President Obama's advisors are looking at reassessing how the government uses those lists.

Now, a preliminary FBI analysis, they took a good look at that device carried by the suspect, it contained the stuff that's called PETN. It's the same explosive used by the so-called "shoe bomber." You know him as a shoe bomber, his name is Richard Reid. He tried to bring down a passenger jet back in 2001 with a similar stuff.

HOLMES: We have team coverage -- continuing team coverage of this investigation. Our Deb Feyerick is on the scene for us there in Detroit, at the airport. Sandra Endo is following airport security at Reagan National for us this morning.

Deb, we want to, once again, begin with you. And that is where so much of this investigation is taking place. Where are we?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, T.J., given the charges against this young man, he has remained surprisingly calm throughout this entire incident. Not only onboard the plane when as it was approaching the Detroit airport, he got up and went to the bathroom for about 20 minutes, came back to his seat, complained of a stomachache, pulled a blanket over his lap, and then moments later, detonated that device. Passengers say he was very calm as his pants were on fire, as was a wall of the plane.

When he was in front of the judge yesterday, also the same kind of demeanor, very calm. He smiled politely. He answered the judge's questions. He told the judge that he did not have enough money to afford his own lawyer -- surprising given that he comes from a very prominent Nigerian family. The judge did appoint a federal prosecutor.

The charges against this young man, that he carried on an explosive device and attempted to use that to bring down a plane, and as a result, all 300 passengers onboard.

Now, his father knew that something was wrong. The son had communicated with him about three months ago, sending him text message saying that he was living school in Dubai to go to Yemen. He said that he was going to get rid of his sim card and his cell phone so that no one would be able to reach him.

That's when the father, a prominent banker, reached out to the U.S. embassy, saying that he was very concerned that his son was hanging out with questionable people and that he was perhaps intent on taking part in jihad. Well, it definitely it seems that that was indeed the case.

This is a young man who traveled to many countries, including Dubai, Yemen, Ghana, we are now learning, before going back to Nigeria and boarding a flight that would ultimately take him here.

All of this is under investigation. How he was able to get the explosive material onboard that plane, how he was able to sit with it for a nine-hour flight before calmly detonating it, that too under investigation. Did it detonate or did it simply catch fire? Clearly, the damage could have been much worse had that device been more powerful -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Deb Feyerick for us on the scene in Detroit -- we appreciate you.

And this investigation goes from Detroit, it goes to Amsterdam, it goes to London, as well. Yes, that's where the suspect has ties there in London, lived there for sometime. Coming up, we'll have a live report from there.

BALDWIN: Well, for now, let's talk airport security. You know, airports are ratcheting up security because of the incident onboard the flight. And that means, yes, some extra hassles for folks heading to the airports, traveling this holiday season.

Our Sandra Endo is following that angle of the story for us live this morning at Reagan National Airport.

And, Sandra, I am seeing maybe some -- some lines behind you. We know TSA is stepping up security. What can people expect not only, I guess, at the airports but on the flights?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, a lot of extra security. And you can see the line behind me. It has grown and it is inching along hour after hour.

And you really have to feel for a lot of the passengers flying out today because it's just going to take a lot of extra time to get to their gates. Security, as you mentioned, is beefed up in light of the Detroit incident and the Transportation Security Administration implemented new guidelines for passengers.

Now, some of those new rules are being kept under wraps. They want to remain unpredictable. But we do know that travelers traveling internationally into the United States will have to remain in their seats an hour before landing. They will not be allowed to have personal belongings or any blankets on their laps.

We also know that there's going to be extra gate security, as well as pat-down. So, passengers can expect to wait a long time before getting to their gate. So, that means airlines are suggesting that travelers check with their flights and airlines before heading to the airport and get here extra early if possible -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We definitely feel for people especially those coming and going out of Reagan this morning, because, as you're saying, you know, bring a little extra patience, get their ahead of time, bring your galoshes, apparently, huh, Sandra?

ENDO: Well, yes, unfortunately, that is what happened yesterday. A broken water pipe just added to all the travel chaos. And it really flooded the terminal C baggage claim area for U.S. Airways yesterday, and that cancelled flights, delayed flights. The water came ankle- deep in that section of this airport.

So, certainly, a lot of people are unhappy today as well, missing their flights yesterday and very grumpy this morning as well.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty much every possible negative experience I could have ever imagined has happened. And I've been traveling -- I am 26 -- I've been traveling since I was 11, and I never experienced anything like this in my life.


ENDO: Well, U.S. Airways has rebooked a lot of those flights starting at 10:00 a.m. this morning. But we've talked to travelers who have been rebooked three times already. So, certainly, a lot of frustration out here at the airport today and all across the country. So, bring your patience, as you mentioned, and make sure you allow for extra time if you can.

BALDWIN: Understandable frustration. We feel for everyone.

Sandra Endo for us at Reagan National -- Sandra, thank you.

And we all know, this story could have had a much, much different ending. After all, security somewhere along the line missed this explosive device on this 23-year-old. But, fortunately, for Flight 253, one very special passenger actually saw what was happening and took action.



SCHURINGA: I was on the right side of the plane and the suspect was on the left. So there were some seats in between. So, when I -- when I saw that the suspect he was getting on fire, and, you know, I freaked, of course, and without any hesitation, I just jumped over all the seats and just jumped to the suspects, because I was thinking (EXPLETIVE DELETED), he is trying to blow up the plane.

And -- so, you know, I was trying to search his body for, you know, any explosives. And then I took some kind of object that was already melting and smoking out of him and I tried to -- I tried to put out the fire. And then, when I did that, I was also restraining the suspect.

And then the fire started beneath his seats. So with my hands and everything, you see, I am a little burned, I put out the fire and then other passengers helped me as well. And, of course, I was screaming for water, water, because we really have to -- you know, fire in the plane is not that good, of course.


BALDWIN: A bit of heroism. That was Jasper Schuringa. He's actually from Amsterdam. He was on that flight on his way to Florida to visit friends. Sure many people on the flight grateful he was there.

Also, we want to let you know, be sure to watch, coming up here on less than an hour, "STATE OF THE UNION" later this morning, when Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano -- she'll be sitting down, talking about, of course, the latest on this investigation and the president's response to this attempted attack. The president is still in Hawaii on vacation.

You can watch John King and "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

HOLMES: Well, there is one thing homeland security is going to be focusing on during this investigation, whether the suspect acted alone. We're being told the explosive device on the plane can be traced back to Yemen, a Middle Eastern country well known for al Qaeda activity. This case similar to at least one -- other one we have seen not terribly long ago.

Let's take a look at that. And for that, let's bring in Peter Bergen, CNN national security analysts, joining us now from D.C.

Peter, always good to have you here.

Sometimes, oftentimes, we see attacks or attempted attacks, just automatic, before we even know details, people come up with the usual suspects and that's al Qaeda. But you see a reason that is an actual link to al Qaeda just because of the similarity and what we know about this attack, this attempted attack so far. What is it?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, on August 28th, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who is in charge of the security in the Saudi Arabia kingdom, was attacked by an al Qaeda recruit from Yemen, using PETN. PETN is exactly the same, the material used in the Detroit plot. Similarly, both of these attacks were concealing the PETN in their clothing, and both of these attack link back to Yemen.

So, I think it's quite plausible -- we see here on the right, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. I think it's quite plausible that the same al Qaeda cell in Yemen did both attacks. And, in fact, according to a Saudi Arabian official, he thinks that the widespread publicity about the way this attack was done and the fact that it could be done in an airport was something that the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actually then implemented.

HOLMES: Well, how then, as well, Peter, do they get a hold of this guy? This kid in a lot of ways, how do they get to him? Because some people think maybe just the propaganda out there about al Qaeda and militants and this kid could have radicalized himself. But obviously, he had some means. But also, it seems he lived in this nice place, comes from a nice family, went to school in London.

So, how is it that al Qaeda could get to him? How does it work?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, terrorism is often a bourgeois endeavor. I mean, it tends to be -- you know, people who are very poor concentrating on being very poor. It's actually, you know, terrorist groups in general throughout history are being -- recruited middle class, being led by middle class. Al Qaeda itself, after all, is run by the son of a Saudi billionaire. His deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian surgeon. Any -- Mohammad Atta, the operational commander of 9/11, son of a lawyer, spoke four languages, Ph.D. from a German university.

So, in fact...


BERGEN: ... the profile of this guy is much more similar to what, you know, al Qaeda recruits are. Because, by the way, you need to be able to speak English, you need to be reasonably well-educated. This guy had a degree in engineering, which might have had some, you know, impact in his involvement in terrorism and an ability to construct a device or take construction.

HOLMES: Have we not been paying enough attention -- and by that I mean, in a general sense? Because so many people, certainly, in the security field -- I mean, you guys know certainly what has been going on in Yemen. But do you think the government and the rest of the world has been paying enough attention to what has been happening in Yemen? And do you think this situation now will force them to?

BERGEN: Well, remember the Fort Hood case, T.J.


BERGEN: You know, the cleric who, just this week admitted in an interview with al Jazeera that Major Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, had asked him if it was OK to kill fellow soldiers. So, that's data point number one.

Obviously, the USS Cole attack in Yemen in October of 2000 killed 17 American soldiers. I mean, Yemen has been the subject of interest by American investigators for some time.

But the important thing here is if, indeed, this does lead back to the -- to the Yemen cell. Most of the attacks that we've seen in the past have been in Yemen or in Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni affiliate there has not been able to do out of the area operations like al Qaeda central on the Afghan-Pakistan border. And this would represent an out of area operation and a significant one.

HOLMES: But this would be a big deal then, maybe they are branching out.

Peter Bergen, we appreciate having you. As always, thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

BERGEN: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, T.J.

We are talking about Iran in turmoil. Protesters there take to the streets and the results are deadly. We are getting new information, new pictures. We'll get that coming up in a live report.

Also, who will prosecute this man in the white t-shirt? A tough as nails attorney has been on the job for three days. Our very own Avery Friedman is joining us with some insight as to whether this prosecutor is up to the task.



We're going to give you a snapshot, if you will, on the weather situation around the country, beginning in the Great Lakes, where we still have some snow falling. It seems like it just never going to end. And the reason why is because we got this area of low pressure that's hovering just over parts of the northeast. And then it's giving us more of a northerly breeze, and the breeze moving across the Great Lakes is going to give you -- you got it -- some snowfall.

Light to moderate snowfall can be expected, certainly not on the magnitude of what we had just over the last week or so in parts of the eastern seaboard or in the Northern Plains. But it's still going to give you that light dusting of snowfall and then may give you few delays in places like Chicago, back in Detroit, even in Indianapolis. Low clouds, light snow, even some wind, about 15 to 30 minutes in some places, certainly not a major catastrophic event in terms of your snow, but still enough to give you a few headaches.

In San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, we've got some low clouds, some wind and some rain, and that is all due to a frontal boundary that is moving in from the Gulf of Alaska, and it's pulling that front from west to east. That's going to bring you some scattered showers along the coast, but in the high elevations, look for some snow.

And then, when you get into Boston, take a look at this, this low is going to be giving you some scattered showers, and you better believe that might also provide a few delay to the low clouds and the wind and the rain, 30 minutes to an hour or so possible.

That is the latest on the weather situation -- as always, we got a lot more coming up straight ahead here on CNN SUNDAY. See you in a few.


HOLMES: Well, one of the big stories we are watching this Sunday, tensions in Tehran, a massive crackdown under way there. Police are patrolling the streets of Tehran in an effort to put down anti-government rallies that have been popping up during a major religious observance.

CNN's Reza Sayah is live from our international desk.

Reza, these pictures have been something else we have been getting out of there.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, T.J., we've covered a lot of protests ever since the disputed election on June 12th. Based on what we are seeing on these videos coming on Internet Web sites and based on what we're hearing from our witnesses, these are the most intense, most emotionally-charged protests we've seen in the past few months. These protests are falling on a major religious holiday in Iran, the religious holiday of Ashura. What we're seeing there is unprecedented.

It's a new video coming in to CNN. How intense were these protests? Intense enough that protesters literally attacked vehicles, motorcycles, belonging to security forces and set them on fire. Let's see if we can see some of that video.

You are looking at protesters that started protesting around 10:00 a.m. this morning. There you see some vehicles belonging to security forces, again, attacked by protesters, set on fire. These protesters met with a huge number of security forces throughout the day, according to witnesses we were speaking to. Some of the security forces, according to witnesses, carrying guns and firing their guns.

Now, according to an opposition Web site, at least three people were killed during the Sunday protest. We are about to show you a picture that's graphic in nature. If you don't want to watch this picture, this is your chance to turn away. But this picture is reportedly -- OK, now, we're getting word that we don't have the picture, but the Iran desk did get a picture -- picture of purportedly one of the victims that was shot and killed during the Sunday protest, according to an opposition Web site.

Fars News, Iran's state-run news agency, denies anyone was killed during these protests. But based on what we are hearing from witnesses what we're seeing with these graphic pictures, graphic video, there was some extreme violence throughout the day.

There was a little bit of a respite in the middle of the day. Now, our witnesses are telling us that activity is picking up in the northern portions of Tehran. So, we're keeping our eyes on that.

Two events quickly converged on Sunday to make this an emotionally charged day. Sunday marked the seventh day after the passing of the Ayatollah Montazeri. He, of course, is the dissident cleric who was a fierce critic of the regime, and a huge opposition figure. He passed last week.

It is a Shia custom to commemorate someone seven days after their passing. And Sunday is also Ashura, which is a religious holiday, major religious holiday.

And there you see more videotape of protestors setting vehicles on fire.

So, a lot of activity, T.J. and Brooke. We're keeping our eyes on things. We'll bring you more information as it becomes a available.

HOLMES: All right. Reza Sayah, we appreciate you keeping an eye on all that stuff for us. Before you let you go here, Reza, go ahead and describe for us. We do have that picture now you were calling for, and we do want to warn our viewers here again...


HOLMES: ... to turn away here if you don't want to see this. It's kind of graphic. But still, Reza, we want to bring our viewers, really, the best idea we can about what happened.

SAYAH: Let's take a look at it. Now, we have, if you noticed, covered the picture because it is graphic. We got this in the Iran desk just a few hours ago. And, again, it is purportedly one of the victims who was shot and killed during the protest on Sunday. As you can see, the victim is being carried away by fellow protesters. We also have a video of other victims allegedly injured, being taken away.

Again, Iran's state-run news agency says there was no one killed. But it's pictures like these that paint a different picture. These protests throughout the past few months are getting more aggressive on the part of the protesters, tensions escalating. These, again, some of the most intense protests we've seen in the past few months, guys.

HOLMES: All right. Reza Sayah, keeping an eye on things. We certainly appreciate it. And by all means -- the more you get new information and new -- certainly, those new pictures, by all means, let us know and we will bring those to our viewers. Thank you so much.

You are watching CNN SUNDAY MORNING. A quick break, we'll be right back.


BALDWIN: It is the season for giving, and one Maryland couple is giving the gift of joy by sharing their indoor train garden.

HOLMES: Yes. For more than a decade now, they open the display to the public during this time of year. And our photo journalist, Bethany Swain, has this story in today's "Giving in Focus."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think my collection would grow this big.

JUNE STURGEON, TRAIN GARDEN HOST: It started out little section, little section, little section.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twelve hundred people came here last year.

STURGEON: He has been collecting since he was a child and he just decided he wanted to build a train garden. I said OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had quite a collection at the time. So, I wanted to share it.

So, we built a building so we could set the trains up and give her back her closet.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Santa I'm going to see.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it took me several years to put them up.

STURGEON: It's basically is an all-year thing.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: And here it comes again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each year, I put at least 100 hours in here.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: There is James. He is right there with his eyes moving.

STURGEON: We leave it up all year long.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We control the heat in here. And in the summertime, we have a dehumidifier in here to take the moisture out.

It's built better than the house. Santa Claus is here every night until Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We come every year, at least once a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least that many.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been looking forward to it for about three months now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a tradition with them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our first time. It's absolutely wonderful. I just can't imagine the effort and the time that turned Mr. and Mrs. Sturgeon have put into this. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a train we added this year that has 30 cars on it.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: That is a long train.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it runs the whole lengths of the board.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the outside decorations are as beautiful as the inside decorations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know when it's lit and it starts flashing, they can come in and have a good time.

STURGEON: We love it. That's why we do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lights my heart up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Such a wonderful thing to do for the community.



HOLMES: Hello, again and welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BALDWIN: And good morning I'm Brooke Baldwin in for Betty again today. It is the 27th of December, thank you for joining us this morning.

HOLMES: Now first to Iran where security forces have to launch a massive crackdown after thousands of protesters hit the streets. Take a look.

And witnesses say protesters set a police motorcycle on fire. They have reportedly been shouting anti-government slogans, including death to the dictator. Three people have died in the clash as looked police these demonstrations taking place as the holy period of Ashura wraps up.

Now protestors in Iran, these are coinciding obviously with this holy day. We heard our Reza Sayah describing it a little earlier. But the word Ashura literally means 10th because it's observed on 10th day of the first month of the Islamic year.

Ashura marks a public expression of grief and mourning during which observers flog themselves in the back with chains. The ritual is meant to connect them to the suffering of Amah Hussein, a saint who was killed in the 17th century. Shiite Muslims believe he's the grandson of the prophet, Muhammad.

BALDWIN: We are learning even more this morning about this effort to bring down that flight, that Northwest Airlines flight with 289 people onboard that flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Take a good look. This is the 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who was officially charged yesterday -- actually he was on a wheelchair, still severely burned from that device.

Now, a senior administration official says the father of this young man contacted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria because he was concerned and had some concerns that his son might have been radicalized, might have been planning something. Abdulmutallab was on a terror watch list and now President Obama's advisors they are looking at reassessing how the government uses these lists.

From a preliminary FBI analysis, they have found the device carried by Abdulmutallab contain the same explosives used by Richard Reid -- remember he was the so-called shoe bomber. Reid tried to bring down a passenger jet back in 2001.

HOLMES: And we are following these developments across the world today. Our Sandra Endo at Washington's Reagan National airport, just one of the spots where security is tighter today and really tighter at all airports. Also our Phil Black live in London where the suspect lived also went to school.

We want to start with Phil. Phil, I guess where are they in this investigation?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, T.J. for the second day now, British police have been searching the property behind me here on Mansfield Street in central London. This is where the suspect lived while studying engineering here in London between September of 2005 and June 2008, just last year.

British police say they are working very closely with U.S. officials to piece together the background to these attacks. Essentially piecing together his life here in London to determine to what extent he could have influence the impact -- impacted his decision to carry out this attack, essentially to what extent was he radicalized potentially while living in this city.

Two things have emerged that we know. It was from the U.S. Embassy in London, that the suspect obtained his multi-year -- multi- entry U.S. tourist visa. And we have just learned that after leaving the United Kingdom, he applied to come back here again on a study visa. This was just in May this year, but he was rejected on the grounds the college he claimed to be studying at was a fake-- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Phil Black for us on the investigation in London. We'll turn to another part of this story, we go to our Sandra Endo. She's live at Reagan National Airport. A lot of people today are sitting at airports, sitting and waiting, a lot of that happening right now as people try to get to where they're going. And a lot of this has to do with that beefed up security. We haven't changed the terror, the threat alert level. However, that doesn't mean that security hasn't changed. What are you seeing there?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot more security here, T.J. We saw bomb-sniffing dogs out here. And also police just patrolling this area. And you can see the line behind me, it's been long all morning long but a little progress, that's the shortest we've probably seen it all morning.

But travelers can expect long lines at airports across the country today. Security is certainly beefed up in light of the Detroit incident and the Transportation Security Administration has implemented new guidelines for passengers. Some of those new rules haven't been revealed, because they want to keep it unpredictable.

But we know that passengers traveling internationally to the United States will have to remain in their seats about an hour before landing and they will not be allowed to have any personal belongings or blankets on their laps. We also know that there'll be extra pat downs and gate security checks as well for a lot of travelers out there. So many major airlines are recommending their travelers, make sure they check with your carriers before you get to the airport and of course get here early -- T.J.

HOLMES: Yes, that's a big detail for a lot of people and a change on the flight, because we know the suspect allegedly got up and went to the bathroom for a while right before the -- that the plane was going to land in Detroit, also used those -- those blankets saying he wasn't feeling well, that he was sick and so he used those, so that's a big change for our people on those flights.

Also folks there at that particular airport unfortunately, you've been calling this kind of an insult to injury, all they are having to go through. And then it was, I guess, another little chaotic and a little disaster that happened there that caused even more delays.

ENDO: Oh yes, absolutely. A broken water pipe erupted yesterday filling terminal C of the baggage claim area for U.S. Airways here at Reagan National Airport and it really filled the area in ankle-deep water. It cancelled flights, delayed passengers, grumpy passengers this morning trying to get to where they want to go. And certainly a lot of passengers we talked to were definitely frustrated.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were not telling people what was going on. We didn't even know there was a flood until it was too late to get to a plane at another gate. And that's why I am disgruntled. I mean, just a lack of communication. All they had to do was announce to people and let them know what's going on, they didn't do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it hasn't been too frustrating yet, once I get to the ticket counter and maybe if they say -- that they can't help us out or figure it out, maybe that would be frustrating. But doing ok right now, we're just trying to make it work.


ENDO: Some people trying to take everything in stride, which is a good attitude to have if you are traveling today. And U.S. Airways has rescheduled a lot of those flights starting at 10:00 a.m. here this morning. And some travelers we talked to had to rebook their flight three times before they got an actual seat on a plane.

So definitely allow for a lot of patience and a lot of extra time if you're heading to the airports today -- T.J.

HOLMES: You know all that matters is that you get there safely, so no matter how long it takes. Sandra Endo, for us this morning, thank you so much.

And we want to tell our viewers, be sure to watch CNN's "State of the Union" at the top of the hour. We've got a treat this morning, we've got Candy Crowley, guest hosting, our Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano is going to joining her. She'll have the latest on the terror investigation.

And also the president's response to the attempted attack; again, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN just a few minutes from now.

BALDWIN: Now, tomorrow the man accused of trying to blow up that jet over Detroit with 289 people aboard is set to be in court. This 23-year-old was formally charged yesterday. But -- get this -- the prosecutor, the U.S. attorney handling this case has been on the job for three days. Civil rights attorney our legal eagle, Avery Friedman joining me now this morning to talk about the little legal aspect of this whole story, joining me from Cleveland.

Avery, good morning just to see you. Let's just first start with the fact that Abdulmutallab, of 23 years old, is in a wheelchair because he's had all of these burns on his legs, in wheelchair and a preliminary hearing yesterday, tell me about these two formal charges that he's facing.

AVERY FRIEDMAN, LAW PROFESSOR: Well, good morning to you, Brooke.

Yes, the charges are very serious. They are two felony charges that interestingly enough came about as a result of 9/11. These are Congressional enactments which makes it a felony, number one, to try to destroy or set fire on a plane and secondly to bring an explosive device. So at this point there are two charges. But Brooke, we are looking for additional charges which we will be seeing in the next couple weeks.

BALDWIN: All right, so charges aside, this story has so many different angles. Just in terms, it seems to me jurisdictions, you have Nigeria, where he hopped on a plane and then, one plane initially and then Amsterdam and then Detroit, yet this will be prosecuted in a federal courtroom in Detroit. Why is that?

FRIEDMAN: Well, because Congress created what's called Special Airplane Jurisdiction. In other words, if anyone tries to do what the defendant in this case did, the federal courts have jurisdiction here in the United States. Even if it occurred outside the borders of our nation, it still would have jurisdictions.

Here there's no question about it Brooke, the fact is that this behavior occurred on U.S. soil, it will be prosecuted in the United States courts.

BALDWIN: And it will be prosecuted by a woman who had...


BALDWIN: ... her job for three days now?

FRIEDMAN: Three days, yes.

BALDWIN: Senate confirmed her for three days, Barbara McQuade, tell me about her. Is she up to task?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know this is, think about the paradox of this. On the same day that Abdulmutallab lit his leg and crotch on fire accidentally, was the same day that the U.S. senate confirmed Barbara McQuade as the new United States attorney. She will be the one in charge of the prosecution of Abdulmutallab.

And so who would have thought, now she is -- although she's only been confirmed three days, the fact is Brooke, that she is an experience experienced federal prosecutor, especially in national security issues. She is as good as it gets and she will head the prosecution team here.

BALDWIN: She will need to be. Barbara McQuade that's a name we will all be familiar with.

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: ... we know Abdulmutallab will be back in court tomorrow. Avery Friedman, thank you so much, nice to talk to you.

FRIEDMAN: Good to be with you.

HOLMES: That is amazing that this case falls on her and she is just getting the job.

BALDWIN: And the same day she finds out she gets this top seat as U.S. Attorney...

HOLMES: Oh my goodness...

BALDWIN: I hope this whole thing goes down.

HOLMES: I am sure she will do a fine job...


HOLMES: ... we can imagine, your first on your gig...

BALDWIN: You've got to be a tough, tough lady, yes.

HOLMES: We'll see what happens with that. I'm also waiting to see, and a lot of folks are literally crying over football.

BALDWIN: Poor Gators. HOLMES: Poor Gators because they're losing their coach. Now, this is a huge shocker in the world of sports. Yes, Urban Meyer steps down as the head coach at Florida. We will explain why coming back.


BALDWIN: Checking your top stories. Thousands gathered across Asia to remember the deadly tsunami that hit; it was five years ago yesterday. About 250,000 people were killed when a 9.2 magnitude earthquake triggered all these massive waves. The hardest hit region, remember, Indonesia's Aceh Province. Yesterday crowds flocked to prayer services in mosques and mass graves just to remember some of the victims.

And in Pakistan, a drone attack killed 13 militants in the nation's tribal region. In fact the local intelligence official is saying U.S. forces carried it out but the U.S. did not comment on drone attacks there. The reported target was a house in North Waziristan. A Taliban commander is said to be among those dead.

And Gator fans, sorry about this. Urban Meyer, coaching his very last game with the Florida Gators, Sugar Bowl by this New Year's Day. Meyer announced he is resigning as head football coach just yesterday because of some undisclosed health concerns. His resignation comes after a disappointing loss to Alabama at the SCC championship game.


HOLMES: Investigators now asking pretty much the same questions you probably are. Who, if anybody, dropped the ball here? Also how did the explosives get on that plane? And one of the biggest worries out there, are terrorists getting a stronger foothold.

Tom Fuentes, a CNN contributor and former FBI assistant director of international operations joins us this morning from San Francisco. Tom good to have you as always.

Let's start with that question a lot of people are asking, who dropped -- is it that simple -- who dropped the ball?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think anybody dropped the ball. He went through appropriate security. I don't know if any security in the world, at least the regular security would have detected him. PETN is a powdery substance. The igniter is a liquid chemical and only takes an ounce or two of that probably to make it work properly. The fact that it did not go off as he probably intended it is fortunate for all of us. I don't think that there is any criticism that can be made of the security in Amsterdam.

HOLMES: Ok Tom. That's some scary stuff a lot of people just heard there. What it sounds like you are saying, we cannot stop this guy. There is no way to stop him from getting onboard with what he. You're not going to catch a powder and unless you take something out and check every -- and smell and sniff and test every single liquid, he's going to get it on board no matter what. FUENTES: Well, you just said it, it can be stopped but are we willing to pay the price in terms of the boarding process for passengers to do it. It sounds terrible but if you strip search every passenger and hand searched every piece of luggage check in and the carry-on, if you went through those kind of measures, short of a strip search, hand search, pat down search of every passenger to try determine what is hidden under their clothing, these techniques are so intrusive and would be so upsetting to the public that I don't know that we're going to be willing -- or anybody is going to be willing to implement them.

And I think the lines would be out the door and down the street at major airports trying to accommodate those kinds of searches.

HOLMES: Oh, my goodness.

FUENTES: So it's not impossible but just on a routine basis with millions of travelers flying everyday, it is going to be quite a challenge.

HOLMES: Tom how about this, and I'm going to stick with this for a second because I know so many of our viewers or travelers will be interested in this. Will we see a day -- should we see a day -- how much would it help if they did make every single passenger check their bags, you can't carry anything on?

FUENTES: I just don't see that as being possible. People are traveling with small children that need attention. People need their medication. You have diabetics that possibly need a syringe on a 10- hour flight to be with them.

So you're not going to be able to exclude everybody or you're going to have a large segment of the population that just will be unable to fly. And I don't think anybody wants that. It's just a question of balancing extreme measures with the safety of the flying public.

HOLMES: What else do we know about this stuff, PETN? How serious of an explosive is this? How much damage could it have done? And also how easy is it to get?

FUENTES: It's related to nitroglycerin. It's a very powerful, almost military grade explosive, extremely powerful, even on a small quantity. So it's a very dangerous explosive. It's very stable in terms of it could be safely carried out around and not worry about going off prematurely, at least from the bomber's perspective. It's a white powdery substance that can be easily hidden on a body to carry on an airplane.

HOLMES: And so last thing here, quickly for me, Tom, the TSA says they are not going to change. They're telling passengers to do anything differently or pack differently; is there any change that you see possibly as far as the traveling public?

FUENTES: I think TSA are the experts in this area of what their capacity is and what the resources they have and how many people available at every airport not only in the U.S. but throughout the world to check passengers before getting on a flight that is going to travel to a U.S. destination.

So you are talking about, you know, potentially requiring a massive amount of not only people to operate and do these searches, but also the machinery necessary. The gas machines that do the swab analysis for chemicals and residue of explosives, all of that is doable, but it would be expensive, and something like -- they could not turn that on overnight.

HOLMES: All right. Tom Fuentes, always good to have you. We appreciate your insights and your expertise. You enjoy the rest of your day out there on the West Coast.

FUENTES: Thank you T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Quick break. We're right back.


HOLMES: Reynolds.

BALDWIN: Hi Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, you little weirdos, what is going on?

BALDWIN: Hey you.

WOLF: Hey. Let's talk about some weather. You know we have a sure -- we have a sure big weather story people. We're really following two big weather stories.

Let's get right to it. Let's start of with what we have. In parts of the Great Lakes you see some scattered snowshowers in places like Chicago back over to say, Buffalo, New York. And even up in the northeast we're going to see some rain.

And now toward the West, we see yet another storm system. The thing is what is all of that going to mean for you? I'm about to show you what it's going to mean for you. What's it going to mean is some delays.

Out in Boston, low clouds, rain and wind can give you about 30 minutes to about an hour delay in Boston; could be something kind of similar for you in Chicago, Detroit, even into Indianapolis due to low clouds, light snow, wind. Not as bad as we've had but still enough to give you a little bit of a headache at the airport; about 15 to 30 minutes delay.

And out west that storm we showed could give you some delays in San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon, and maybe even in Sacramento and some of the smaller airports and say St. Louis (INAUDIBLE) went back over towards say Santa Barbara. Just keep that in mind.

That's a quick look at your weather. Let's send it back to you guys.


BALDWIN: Yes. Great.

WOLF: Yes, you guys. Both of you.

BALDWIN: Yes. That's us.

WOLF: Not individually, but collectively. Two.


BALDWIN: Reynolds, thank you.

Well "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley coming up at the top of the hour.

But first we do have a quick check of the morning's headlines. I want to thanks Brooke Baldwin for hanging out with us this weekend as well.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

HOLMES: Thank you for being here.

BALDWIN: Your work is not done, you want to pick this story here?

BALDWIN: You want me to do it? You can you do it.

HOLMES: Please you go right ahead.

BALDWIN: Checking the top stories. Government protestors -- there we go camera three -- clashed with security forces in Iranian capital Tehran today. The crowds have gathered for a major religious observance. Since the disputed presidential elections back in June 12 there, protesters have turned public gatherings into rallies against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

HOLMES: The suspect in that Northwest plane bombing attempt has been charged now. The 23-year old man appeared before a judge in a wheelchair yesterday, his legs burned in that alleged attempt to destroy flight 253 as it approached the Detroit airport on Christmas Day.

Also some new rules out there for air passengers in effect after this incident; some airlines won't let people leave their seats for the last hour of the flight. You can also expect stricter limits on carry-ons. Also you're going to see some more searches, so this is probably going to slow you down quite a bit.

And we're going to wrap up here with a story that is going to really rattle specifically Florida fans, but really the entire football world. We are talking about the head coach at Florida; Urban Meyer there, he has stepped down. Yes, really at the height of his coaching career; certainly the height of Florida football.

Calling it quits yesterday because of undisclosed health concerns. He's going to coach the last game as a Gator at the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day, but he is not saying what the health concerns are. A lot of people will remember, it was not too terribly long ago that Coach Meyer after he coached the team against Alabama at the SCC championship. Had to check himself into a hospital because of some kind of chest pains and also exhaustion so we wish him the best.

But right now, I need to hand it over; "THE STATE OF THE UNION" and Candy Crowley.