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CNN NEWSROOM

Celebrities Behaving Badly; President Obama Speaks Out on Attempted Terrorist Attack

Aired December 28, 2009 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Making news right now on your national conversation: the Nigerian nightmare.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: That they're out to kill Americans.

SANCHEZ: As you board planes, as your Congress calls for action, as your president speaks to the nation, all of it coming to a boil right now.

LIEBERMAN: It is critical that the administration and members of both parties of Congress now close these gaps in our homeland security.

SANCHEZ: How do we stop an explosive we aren't geared up to detect?

More and bloodier street violence in Iran, and the candidate who lost the election now loses his nephew to it. Is Iran a powder keg?

Celebrities behaving badly. Charlie Sheen, his wife has him arrested. And there's said to be a knife involved. Ivana Trump, say police, completely out of control, I mean crazy out of control, on an airplane. Wait until you hear it.

My access becomes your access.

This truly national conversation for Monday, December 28, 2009, starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez with the next generation of news. This is a conversation. This is not a speech. And it is your turn to get involved, as we wait to hear from the president of the United States. He's going to be live with us in the next minute-and-a-half or so.

Here's the guy we expect that he is going to be talking about. This is a new picture just released a couple of hours ago. I want you to take a -- in fact, let's take this shot full, if we possibly can. Let's get a good shot of this guy. That's him. That's the newest picture. You probably haven't seen this one yet. Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab is who the president of the United States is speaking of right now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... attempted terrorist attack that occurred on Christmas Day and the steps we're taking to ensure the safety and security of the country.

The investigation's ongoing. And I spoke again this morning with Attorney General Eric Holder, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, and my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, John Brennan. I asked them to keep -- continue monitoring the situation to keep the American people and members of Congress informed.

Here's what we know so far: On Christmas Day, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit. As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, setting off a fire.

Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of passengers and crew, the suspect was immediately subdued, the fire was put out, and the plane landed safely. The suspect is now in custody and has been charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft.

A full investigation has been launched into this attempted act of terrorism, and we will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable.

Now, this was a serious reminder of the dangers that we face and the nature of those who threaten our homeland. Had the suspect succeeded in bringing down that plane, it could have killed nearly 300 passengers and crew, innocent civilians preparing to celebrate the holidays with their families and friends.

The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season.

Since I was first notified of this incident, I have ordered the following actions to be taken to protect the American people and to secure air travel.

First, I directed that we take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the traveling public. We made sure that all flights still in the air were secure and could land safely. We immediately enhanced screening and security procedures for all flights, domestic and international. We added federal air marshals to flights entering and leaving the United States. And we're working closely in this country, federal, state and local law enforcement, with our international partners.

Second, I have ordered two important reviews, because it's absolutely critical that we learn from this incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism.

The first review involves our watch list system, which our government has had in place for many years to identify known and suspected terrorists so that we can prevent their entry into the United States. Apparently the suspect in the Christmas incident was in this system, but not on a watch list, such as the so-called no-fly list. So I have ordered a thorough review, not only of how information related to the subject was handled, but of the overall watch list system and how it can be strengthened.

The second review will examine all screening policies, technologies and procedures related to air travel. We need to determine just how the suspect was able to bring dangerous explosives aboard an aircraft and what additional steps we can take to thwart future attacks.

Third, I have directed my national security team to keep up the pressure on those who would attack our country. We do not yet have all the answers about this latest attempt, but those who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know that the United States will more -- do more than simply strengthen our defenses. We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland.

Finally, the American people should remain vigilant, but also be confident. Those plotting against us seek not only to undermine our security, but also the open society and the values that we cherish as Americans. This incident, like several that have preceded it, demonstrates that an alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist.

As a nation, we will do everything in our power to protect our country. As Americans, we will never give in to fear or division. We will be guided by our hopes, our unity, and our deeply held values. That's who we are as Americans; that's what our brave men and women in uniform are standing up for as they spend the holidays in harm's way. And we will continue to do everything that we can to keep America safe in the new year and beyond.

Before I leave, let me also briefly address the events that have taken place over the last few days in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in detentions, injuries, and even death.

For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights. Each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days. And each time that has happened, the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people who are part of Iran's great and enduring civilization. What's taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country. It's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves. And the decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.

As I said in Oslo, it's telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

Along with all free nations, the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights. We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.

We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran. We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there. And I'm confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.

Thank you very much, everybody. And Happy New Year.

SANCHEZ: The president of the United States in Kaneohe, Hawaii, he's making some remarks about what has been described as a very, close to- becoming a tragic terrorist attack in the United States, saying he's going to order reviews now of all the lists, terror lists, the watch lists, the no-fly lists.

And, by the way, this suspect was not on the watch list, nor was he on the no-fly list, many people asking why.

Let me bring you back up to date on who we are talking about. For those of you catching up on this story now, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, 23 years old, from Nigeria, he is the guy that U.S. marshals believe tried to turn Christmas Day into a Christmas nightmare.

The FBI says the bomb material he allegedly smuggled onto a Northwest Airlines jet was enough to blow a hole in an aircraft, which could possibly have made the plane crash.

Now, this is the newest part of the story. I want you to take a look at this. It's from a Web site set up by a group calling itself al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, pictures of AbdulMutallab. He's smiling. You see an airplane.

We are not going to show you the Arabic-language text from the site, but it basically says that this group sent that man to blow up the plane on U.S. soil on Christmas Day, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, as it's known, by those who pay attention to such things.

When we come back, I am going to speak to our senior editor for Mideast affairs about this message that I was just bringing to your attention. It's important because it is the first time that we have heard of any organization doing what seems to be a claim of responsibility in this case. We will have it for you with Octavia Nasr.

Also, what you need to know about PETN. Is it a powder? Is it a liquid? And how do you ignite it?

Also, even more important, how do you detect it? And will it cause all to wait and wait a whole lot more at airport screening lines as of today?

And then what's up with Charlie Sheen, and, even more so, what's up with Ivana Trump? We will have that for you. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CALLER: Hi, Rick.

I think if your name starts or ends with Abdullah, Abib, Ahmed, Ahmajad, any of those names, you should not be allowed to fly into America. And, if so, you should be taken into a private room and do a body search and X-rays, so they totally know that you're clean.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Some people are perfectly comfortable with what that man just expressed. Others say that would be profiling and it might be un-American as well. It's an interesting argument. We are going to have the argument tonight here on CNN in a special segment we are preparing as a result of this action on Christmas Day. It will be on at 8:00.

Meanwhile, back to this new message posted on the Web today from a group that is calling itself al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It's about this man, again, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab. He's 23 years old. He's from Nigeria. There's his picture once again.

On the phone right now, our senior editor for Mideast Affairs, Octavia Nasr.

Octavia, you there with us?

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SENIOR EDITOR FOR ARAB AFFAIRS: Yes, Rick, I'm here.

(CROSSTALK)

NASR: And it is a claim of responsibility that was posted on the same Islamist Web sites, the radical Islamist Web sites, that we monitor on a regular basis.

And you and I have talked about it so many times. So, that's what makes us believe that it is authentic, it is coming from that group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that really involved Yemen, Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries.

(CROSSTALK) NASR: We have heard from this group many times before. And now they're claiming responsibility.

SANCHEZ: But let me ask you a question that I think a lot of people might be interested in -- certainly, I am -- the fact that Yemen seems to be upset. And when I say that, I don't mean about the government of Yemen, but I mean some of these forces, some of these dark forces within Yemen -- the fact that they seem to be upset with the United States and are now putting out these proclamations, you know, I almost see that as a good thing.

I almost see that as them saying, we're angry that you might be having an effect on us.

How am I possibly wrong there?

NASR: Well, what it is, is that the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia is a hot zone right now, clashes going on between rebel groups called the Houthi and the Yemeni forces and Saudi forces. And they're pounding -- the Yemeni forces are pounding these rebel locations on a daily basis.

So, basically, yes, this is a response to that. Now, the claim itself say that they believe the U.S. is aiding the Yemeni government in its fight against the Houthis and the al Qaeda.

SANCHEZ: And good, good, good, good, good, good. You see, this is a point that I'm trying to make, Octavia.

The terrorists weren't in Iraq. We know that now. There was really a small band of them along with the mujahedeen which became al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as we know. But we have known for 10 years now that these really bad terrorists, the guys we really should have been going after a long time ago, are in Yemen. We knew that a long time ago.

So, the fact that we are now seemingly or the U.S. government seemingly now is putting an emphasis on there and that some of these folks are mad at us for putting an emphasis there, I can't help but see that finally as the United States maybe going militarily in the right direction in this war on terror.

NASR: You're right about al Qaeda being everywhere, Rick. It's very true.

And this is the al Qaeda of modern times, let's say. This is al Qaeda that is not centralized anymore. It doesn't rotate around Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri alone. These are like franchise groups, local groups. So, yes, in Yemen, you have al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. You also have them in North Africa. You have them in Iraq, as you said.

You have them in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And you have them also elsewhere as sympathizers of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. So, nowadays, you have these groups that will carry out attacks in the name of al Qaeda. And al Qaeda will claim responsibility and will take the work exactly as we saw in this statement. Immediately, they embraced the guy and hailed him as a hero who carried out a heroic attack.

But the most important thing, I think, about this statement is what they talk about when they mention the bomb, the explosives. They say that they created a new kind of explosive and they tested it. They tested it passing through security and they tested it on the plane.

So, they say, although there was a malfunction at the end, and the attack wasn't carried out completely, but they see it as a success, just because they passed through security and they were able to carry it out as far as they were able to.

SANCHEZ: We are going to be talking a lot about PETN, not only now, but also during our 8:00 show tonight. So, stay tuned to this.

And let us only hope and cross our fingers that this organization somehow left a way that we can trace them, some kind of calling card, with this message that we have received here at CNN within the last hour or so.

Octavia Nasr, thanks a lot for your insight and input on this still developing story.

Lots to talk about today, including a look at this explosive he reportedly tried to use. Once again, see that right there? That's that PETN that I have been talking about. It's almost like nitroglycerin. You only need a little bit. Several ounces, they say, can almost blow up an entire car.

I want to show you a video example of what we're talking about. Watch this. That was just a tiny bit of the stuff. But here's the worst part. PETN is very difficult to detect.

By the way, I should probably tell you what you're watching here. I guess that would be important, right? This is -- Angie, help me out here. This is part of an experiment that one of our correspondents has done, right?

I know. It looks like kind of puny. It looks like a firecracker or something. It's not. It's going to be part of a larger explanation we that are going to give you later on in this newscast.

Also, if you don't swab it, use a dog to detect it or an image scanner or a puffer machine, most of which are used on luggage, but not on passengers, you won't even know it's there.

Here's another important question. Why wasn't AbdulMutallab placed on a no-fly list or at least some kind of watch list after his father told authorities that his son was capable of becoming a suicide bomber?

And now today's huge development, AbdulMutallab has admitted that he was being trained in a very place that the Obama administration has been hitting hard for the last several weeks now. We're talking about Yemen once again.

Yemen is going to come into play here a lot. It's seen here on this map that we have put together for you. There it is once again at the heart of the war on terror and once again worth taking a close look at.

Here to do that for us now, CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Yemen, eulogies for those killed in a recent air strike on al Qaeda hideout. U.S. officials privately acknowledged they have provided secret intelligence on several al Qaeda targets to Yemen's government, but won't say if U.S. fighter jets or armed drones were involved.

All of this happened before the suspect in the attack against Northwest Airlines Flight 253 claimed he traveled to Yemen and was given bomb-making materials there -- a claim that has the U.S. worried. Al Qaeda in Yemen has already been the focus of secret U.S. military and intelligence operations for months.

General David Petraeus sounded a warning about Yemen earlier this year.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR. , U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: That's where al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has established its headquarters. This is a concern.

STARR: And with tribal rebel movements on the rise in Yemen, the central government can't fully control the country, al Qaeda has found a new safe haven.

JON ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: There is a very real sense that the central government is losing control over most of the country, that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is setting up bases hosted among tribes.

STARR: Look at the map and you see the potential for disaster. Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen are within striking distance of Saudi oil facilities. Hundreds of cargo ships pass the coastline each year. They come through the Suez Canal in one direction and the Indian Ocean in another, ripe targets for attacks.

The bottom line, expects say, al Qaeda in Yemen may now be able to attack the United States.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The important thing here, is if indeed this does lead back to the -- to the Yemen's 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 area operations, like al Qaeda central on the Afghan-Pakistan border, and this would represent an out of area operation and a significant one. STARR (on camera): U.S. officials won't talk about their involvement in the airstrikes, because the goal now is to make it look like the Yemenis are in the forefront. But make no mistake. Officials say Yemen needs U.S. help to fight al Qaeda, and time is of the essence.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: All right, so a lot going on, on this day. With the new security clampdown in effect, what's it like to take an international flight these days? We are going to have a firsthand account for you.

And speaking of air travel aggravation, if you have been in an airport during a blizzard, during a security scare, you know how short people's fuses are when they get delayed. Wait until you hear what Ivana Trump screamed at not just officials, not just flight attendant, but little children.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: All right. Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

I'm trying to give you as much information, as much detail as I possibly can with this still developing story. And soon I will hook you up with some of the folks who are sending out tweets that are making Rick's List that I'm going to share with you, officials, newsmakers.

But here's some news you can use about what you can expect the next time you travel as a result of this terror attack. Long lines are already being seen in large measure because of the stepped-up security, also obviously because it's the holidays. The Transportation Security Administration has released new guidance as well on what to expect.

Here's the list. They say you may see an increase in gate screenings. You may see more hand searches, or pat-downs, as they are often called. There is no change right now officially as to what you can or can't take on a plane. But you should allow extra time to get through security.

Now, if you're flying into the United States from another country, you need to get to an airport an hour earlier than before. And there is also some talk about actually not being able to use the restroom an hour before the plane lands.

So, there is a lot of new information out there. And I want to get you through it.

CNN producer Jamie Gray flew from London to Washington yesterday. We have asked him to join us.

Firsthand experience that I had this morning just flying from Atlanta to New York, I didn't see anything that significant. Now, this may not be a good time to judge it, because it's kind of a strange time. Business flyers aren't out there. Families and tourists are out there. What did you see on your flight from London to here?

JAMIE GRAY, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Rick, I saw -- initially, I got to the airport at around 9:00 for my 11:30 flight, which is about the time I normally arrive. So, I didn't really do anything out of the ordinary there.

I did notice a lot more people at the check-in. But that could have been because it was holiday time. But that could have been also because people were taking extra time getting there an hour earlier for their check-in.

But it seemed that the airline had laid on some extra check-in staff to handle that. So, I got through check-in quite quickly, got through security.

SANCHEZ: What about on the plane itself?

(CROSSTALK)

GRAY: On the plane is where I noticed the major differences from normal flights.

I flew on Virgin Atlantic. They normally have a sky map feature on the plane, where you can look on your seat-back, and it shows you the position of the plane, the speed, altitude, time to arrival, et cetera. They shut that off.

They also have an onboard phone, which you can swipe your credit card and make phone calls to the ground. They turned that off. And they had also disabled a texting -- a seat-to-seat text messaging service that they also have. That was disabled as well.

SANCHEZ: Did it seem to you like the flight attendants were more vigilant, maybe even apprehensive? Some of them that I have spoken to in Atlanta, where I live, where there are many Delta flight attendants -- and answer this as well as you answer that. Were people allowed to use the restroom as frequently as we normally see people getting up during a long flight to use the restroom?

GRAY: Well, there was restrictions. We had to stay in our seat for the hour, the first hour and the last hour. And for the final 40 minutes, we had to have our seat belts on. So, we couldn't use restrooms the final hour.

SANCHEZ: Did they announce that?

GRAY: Yes, they announced that.

SANCHEZ: Did they really hold people to it? Look, you know the saying. When you have got to go, you have got to go, right?

GRAY: Yes. I didn't see anybody get up to use the restroom. I was sort of -- actually, I was kind of dozing through the last hour of the flight, so I wasn't really too vigilant.

SANCHEZ: Oh.

GRAY: But I didn't see anybody getting up to use the restroom. I think everyone understood that this rule was in place for a reason. And they were going to adhere to it.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: How do they rationalize or explain that? I'm not sure. Just curious here. What's the difference between not letting you go to the bathroom in midflight and not letting you go to the bathroom in the first hour or the last hour? I'm not sure I see -- why?

GRAY: That's a good question.

I think you would have to ask the airlines that. I think just keeping people is just so they then can't be in the restrooms doing anything out of the ordinary.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I suppose. Well, some people are saying it's more of a stopping the grandstanding, so to speak. If, heaven forbid, the plane were to crash on U.S. soil, it would make a much bigger impact internationally. It would be a bigger story.

GRAY: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: But, of course, that's for the airline folks to figure out.

How apprehensive did it seem to you that either the flight attendants or the pilots were in the wake of this situation?

GRAY: I think the crew from start to finish, the ground crew, check-in crew, the crew on board the plane were all -- they all handled it very well. They kept us -- you know, they kept explaining the reason for our delay, kept telling us -- they were keen to stress that it was beyond their control, it was due to the new security regulations.

And I think, yes, they contributed to a sense of calm.

SANCHEZ: Jamie Gray, you know, good segment, thanks for bringing us up to date on those observations. You know, I think in the end, a lot of folks watching this newscast right now are most interested in what they are going to experience when they fly next. And it's good to be able to share that with us. My thanks to you. Appreciate it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK O'CONNOR, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY LAB: Use a thief to catch a thief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: It is chilling how one piece of luggage can be turned into a deadly vehicle for an explosive. Our homeland security team has been along to the testing grounds with a covert team of screeners. See what they learned about our nation's security measures. Look at those pictures.

And, hey, you little bleep, bleep, sit down and be quiet. Sound like something you've thought about saying oh, say, on a plane? Well, she did and she did it in some very strong terms. She wasn't even nice about it. Now this celebrity millionairess is in some big trouble for it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Let me start you off with a look at what's going on with "Rick's List." And you know with "Rick's List" we often put down different lists that we take a look at throughout the day to see who the newsmakers are and what they're saying -- either to us or indirectly.

Here's an interesting tweet we want to share with you that we have found from Senator John McCain, using the situation in Iran to take a shot at the president of the United States. He writes, this is "Rick's List": "Violence in Iran continues. Where is the administration? We must stand up for the Iranian people."

There again, Senator John McCain, a part of "Rick's List" as we bring it to you as we check what newsmakers are saying and then share it with you.

Meanwhile, you have a guy on a terrorism watch list. They let him on an airliner. And not just that, they let him on an airliner with a bomb strapped to his leg. Let's face it, obviously someone either goofed here or the system needs a-fixing, either here or overseas, maybe both.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are looking at the technology. We have deployed new technology in some airports. The question is, would it have detected this material in the way he had hidden it on his person? We're ascertaining that. We're ascertaining why it was that he was not flagged in a more specific way when he purchased his ticket, given the information that we think was available -- allegedly was available.

And that's -- moving forward, we need to go backwards and say, what happened here, what do we need to change, what do we need to do to make sure that passengers are safe moving forward?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: As we heard the president just a short time ago, he has ordered two reviews to try to determine how this even happened and how these lists can be improved.

Now I want to see a place where this is occurring. It's Atlantic City, New Jersey. This is one of the places where our guys are trying to figure out what their guys are doing to try and blow us up. Here's our homeland security correspondent, CNN's Jeanne Meserve.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Airplanes blown to smithereens all in the name of science and security. But wait, this story really begins at the Transportation Security Laboratory in Atlantic City, where Patrick O'Connor builds bombs for the government.

O'CONNOR: This is a real explosive that I have here in my hand.

MESERVE: O'Connor has built hundreds of improvised explosive devices disguised as electronics, footwear, even an innocuous-looking stack of DVDs. The designs evolve based on intelligence about the bombs terrorists are building.

O'CONNOR: Usually use a thief to catch a thief. And that's what we do here.

MESERVE: Some of the bombs are detonated in old planes to test whether a similar device could bring down a flight. Others are put in luggage and run through screening machines. If the bombs are not detected, scientists try to close the security gap to beat the terrorists.

SUSAN HALLOWELL, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY LAB: It's a game of cat and mouse. We understand what they're doing. They understand to some measure what we're doing. And we counteract that with better-improved technology.

MESERVE: Machines are not the total answer.

ROBIN KANE, ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, TSA: At the end of the day the technology detects very specific threats. It does not detect a terrorist.

MESERVE: But better machines would be a valuable tool. Scientists do a high resolution cross-section scan of a peanut M&M to show us how they might some day be able to ferret out explosive material by examining its density and granularity.

Others are trying to crack the problem of detecting liquid explosives by capturing and measuring the vapors emitted from a homemade concoction concealed in a bottle of cold medicine.

HALLOWELL: Well, I can't tell you what's in the Nyquil bottle, but it's something that's really bad that we need to keep off the airplanes.

MESERVE: Not all the work being done here will lead to better bomb detection. But some might. And it could prevent something like this.

(on camera): Researchers here practice something they call "bagology." They will take a piece of luggage like this and run it fully loaded through a screening machine to try and figure out what sorts of ordinary objects set off false alarms. That way, they can eliminate those false alarms, making airport screening more efficient as well as more effective.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Atlantic City, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: His reputation on screen tarnished by his behavior off, Charlie Sheen picked up for alleged domestic violence -- again. Also your comments on screen. And don't forget, the other way that you can participate in this "National Conversation," call us in the United States. The number is 1-877-742-5751.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

Tiger Woods may have a lock on the celebrity scandal of the year, but suddenly bringing up the rear, Charlie Sheen. Here's the set-up of what happened with Charlie Sheen on Christmas, no less. An all- nighter with his wife, as in all-night party/fight, concluding with a call to 911 around 8:00 in the morning. That's about the time most parents are watching their kids open their presents.

11:20 a.m. Sheen is booked for second-degree assault, menacing and criminal mischief. He spent the rest of Christmas Day in jail. Sheen is due in court in February. Police are saying some sort of weapon was involved but they won't say precisely what type of weapon it was.

Then there is Ivana Trump, also making our list of celebrities behaving badly. As I read the police affidavit describing what she did on a plane, well, you and I would both be embarrassed for her, trust me. As you read this yourself.

We have asked Brooke Baldwin (ph) to look into this for us. And she joins me now out of Atlanta, sitting in the chair I normally sit in, to tell us what -- I mean, this is a crazy read. It's almost like there was something really wrong with her. Why did she...

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Something going on, yes, we don't...

SANCHEZ: She was so irritated.

BALDWIN: She was so irritated. And you know, you think of her irritation, let me explain what happened, Rick. But also keep in mind what a weekend, you know, for airlines, to security, add Ivana Trump to the mix, you know her, billionaire Donald Trump's first ex-wife. We're going back to Saturday afternoon. Location, Palm Beach International Airport. She's 60 years old. She was sitting on a plane. She was headed to New York's La Guardia Airport.

Now according to reports from the sheriff's department, what Rick was alluding to when he was reading this thing, Trump became so belligerent and aggravated -- their words -- toward passengers, the flight crew, and particularly targeting these children, she was physically forced off the plane.

So take a look here, take a look with me. We have a little map for you, this is a seating chart. This is Flight 2377, Ivana Trump was sitting in first class, seat 1D, so the right front hand. In fact, I was reading a blog from flyertalk.com, a guy purportedly -- a passenger said she had the whole row to herself just to get a little bit of privacy, OK?

So as the plane, from what we hear, started pushing back from the gate, the pilot got a call from his crew reporting a, quote/unquote, "disturbance," a disturbance in first class. Now Ivana Trump, according to authorities, was yelling profanities at kids who were on board apparently, you know, running up and down the aisle. They were screaming. So what did Ivana Trump do? She screamed back.

SANCHEZ: Yes, hey, hey, hey, by the way, by the way, note to Ivana, that's what kids do.

BALDWIN: Yes, kids do tend to scream. Not all kids like to fly. Maybe -- Rick, you have kids, you know, maybe you're empathetic sometimes. But according to the sheriff's department, she didn't just scream, she was yelling profanities. I can't exactly say what she said, but I'll say this, she was yelling, quote, "you little 'beepers,'" and "shut the 'bleep' up." Fill in the blanks.

SANCHEZ: Oh my goodness.

BALDWIN: Fill in the blanks.

SANCHEZ: To children.

BALDWIN: So the flight attendants, they had tried offering Ivana Trump some headphones, hey, you want to move to another seat, maybe get away from the kids. She said no. It didn't necessarily satisfy her. So get this, her belligerence actually prompted the pilot to turn the plane around, head it back to the gate, call the sheriff's department, arrived within minutes.

They tried to verbally get her to agree to get off the flight. She refused. So after a couple more attempts to get her off the plane, they to physically, Rick, physically escort Ivana Trump off that plane.

SANCHEZ: Well, and the bleeps didn't end with the kids, it didn't end with the passengers. It continued with the flight attendant, continued with the authorities who had to take her off the plane, and then the authorities in the terminal who tried to get her out.

By the way, if I had done this, if you had done this, if the average person had done this, they probably would have been charged or disciplined somehow.

BALDWIN: You would think. But not in her case. She -- you know...

SANCHEZ: They just let her walk away.

BALDWIN: They let her walk away, walked to her driver. The driver presumably took her home. No charges. The FBI, you know, they were notified. They said, hey, thanks, but no thanks, we don't want to proceed any further with the case. So the bottom line for her, I don't know if she got to New York, apparently the plane did turn around.

In fact, one of the bloggers -- this is sort of a little sweet twist of irony here, one of the bloggers said as they were flying to La Guardia, they saw Donald Trump's plane parked at a nearby gate.

SANCHEZ: That was a lot of bleeps later though.

BALDWIN: Some bleeps later perhaps.

SANCHEZ: Thank you. Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: You're welcome.

(VIDEOTAPE OF PROTESTS IN IRAN)

SANCHEZ: In the middle of these protests, a young man was shot and killed, run over. His uncle was the man who lost the presidential election that they are protesting. The violence in Iran gets extremely personal for the opposition leader.

And who is that on her way to the valet? Well, you definitely know the famous brother but you may not know her. Can you guess who she is? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Have you seen what's going on in Iran? Take a look at the bloody pictures.

(VIDEOTAPE OF PROTESTS IN IRAN)

SANCHEZ: All right. I want to tell you something, the body that you just saw there on the ground is said to be that of prominent opponent in Iran's ruling regime? Remember Ali Mousavi? He is the one who ran against Ahmadinejad. That's Ali Mousavi on the right. On the left, his uncle, former presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

All right. Let me clear this up again. The one on the left is obviously the guy who ran. The one on the right is his nephew. The man who ran against the regime last summer may have won the presidential election only to have it stolen away.

Here's what happened to the nephew. Witnesses are saying that he was outside his home in Tehran when an SUV drove up and ran him over. A group of men got out and shot him, made absolutely sure he was dead. After that, government officials reportedly seized the body and warned the family not to hold a funeral. What this tells most people watching is that the Iranian regime is getting more and more desperate and perhaps for good reason. Have you seen the demonstrations? There is a harder edge than what we saw there, even last summer.

They are cornering riot troops, burning their motor bikes, shouting the word "kill" to this regime of Islamic clerics in power for 30 years. It is getting a little dicey. Let's listen.

(VIDEOTAPE OF PROTESTS IN IRAN)

SANCHEZ: All right. Let me quickly tell you a few more things that have happened in the last couple of hours. The Iranian regime has banned demonstrations, it is now reportedly arresting opposition leaders, including three top aides to the man whose photo we showed you, former presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

The White House is watching this very closely. If you were with us, you heard the president of the United States during this news cast strongly condemn the unjust repression and, quote, "iron-fisted brutality" of the Iranian government. He also said the United States has deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people, but this is Iranians' situation.

We are going to continue to watch the story. We trust you'll continue to watch us as we bring you up-to-date.

Have you seen the type of damage that the explosive PETN can do? How do you know how easy it is to make something lethal out of it? Nic Robertson has tried it. He joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: I've called on Nic Robertson, our expert, to take us through this. I want him to explain to you what PETN is. And Nic joins us now live.

Nic, are you there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rick.

Yes, the PETN, it looks just like sugar, just like salt, it's a fine powder, it's white. If you saw it sitting on a kitchen counter, you would have no idea that it was a very dangerous explosive.

SANCHEZ: Do you have to put liquid on it? And how do you ignite it?

ROBERTSON: You know, that's one of the interesting things that we learned today, Rick. I mean, people have talked about this stuff as being volatile, but we were with this really experienced explosives expert, and he put a few grains of it on this metal anvil, got out a hammer and he was whack, whack, whack, whack with the hammer.

It's hard to bump it and make it go off. And that's one of the things that makes it so good for a would-be suicide bomber to pack it in his underpants or wherever he is going to put it, and tote it around the world on planes, because he can bump into wherever he likes and it's not going to go off.

But to make it go off, you need an initiating charge. And that's the tough thing to achieve. But what this explosive expert showed us in the field today, something he literally cooked up right there in the field in the English countryside, he got it to bang and show how a tiny amount can be very destructive.

SANCHEZ: Well, here's my problem with this stuff, and here's what frightens me about it as we look at this demonstration that he did for you. We've been showing others throughout the show. I mean, the only way that you could detect this at an airport, as I understand it, is with one of those Puffer machines or with a dog, or with a video imaging, or with a pat-down search where they actually feel it and see it.

Other than that, going through that metal detector that we all go through, that's not going to detect it, right?

ROBERTSON: That's not going to detect it, and that's part of one would assume the reason al Qaeda or whoever has developed this thing, because it gets around the sort of known security apparatus at airports right now.

It doesn't have a big smell in and of itself. Yes, if you have got a chemical analyzer, one of these Puffer machines, it will pick up that chemical signature. But you and me standing next to a passenger who has got his pockets packed full of this stuff, we're not going to smell it, Rick.

Again, this is one of the beauties of it and this type of operation. I'll tell you, the explosion that you're showing, there with the amount of explosives fits literally in the top of this pen. And that is a tiny fraction of what the alleged bomber had on the aircraft. And it literally bent double -- bent a big hole in this metal plate, and this metal plate twice as thick as what you'd find on a skin of a...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Yes. I read last night that 100 grams of this stuff can blow up a car, and 100 grams ends up being about 2.5 ounces of -- 2.75 of an ounce, which is about up to there on my finger on this cup. Yes, that's scary, Nic. Thanks for brining us up-to-date on the dates. I understand you're going to be filing a report for Anderson Cooper tonight at 10:00. I'll look forward to seeing it.

Demolition crews must be an awful lot like mail carriers. What's that they're saying about neither snow, nor rain, not even whiteout conditions can top them apparently? That's a bridge. Bye-bye, bridge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SANCHEZ: Ah, for the holidays and family traditions. A Sanchez family tradition, we roast a pig in our backyard, and we invite friends and family to feast and dance. On Christmas Eve, that's what we do. On Christmas Day, we open presents, only one at a time, mind you, while listening to Kenny G. That's how we do it.

Then there are other people's traditions, like duct tape and blowing up a bridge? Here's "Fotos."

First the duct tape. There's a time and a place for everything, including horseplay. This is neither. Watch these uniformed sheriff's department officers strapping one of their colleagues to a chair with duct tape, and then shoving him chair and all into an elevator. It was late at night at the county jail. You mean they're sheriff's department officials and they didn't know that they were being videotaped while doing this? Maybe that's why all of them are former sheriff's department officials. Yes, the sheriff fired them. Merry Christmas.

Watch the bridge, don't blink, and...

(VIDEO OF EXPLOSION)

SANCHEZ: ... ka-boom! That's the warmest thing to happen today in Lake Champlain. The historic Champlain Bridge is no more. It spanned the New York/Vermont state line since 1929, and was closed for good this fall. It wasn't safe anymore, they say. This was, of course, a controlled demolition. In the spring, they say, they'll clean it up. Spring cleaning, how appropriate.

SANCHEZ: And who is that walking out of Alan Wong's Restaurant in Honolulu last night? Photographers waited for an Obama to emerge and were not disappointed. That is Maya Sotoero-Ng. She is the president's half sister on the mother's side. She and her husband had dinner with the first family. I wonder what's in the doggy bag?

Suzanne Malveaux joining us now. She is in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Suzanne.