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CAMPBELL BROWN

Blood in Iran; Investigating the Northwest Airlines Terror Attack

Aired December 28, 2009 - 20:00   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): Tonight, the questions we want answered.

Why was this guy on a plane on Christmas day? Why wasn't he on the no-fly list, period? Even his dad said, watch this guy.

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Clearly, this individual shouldn't have been able to board this plane carrying that material.

SANCHEZ: So, after all the money and years spent, what will it really take to protect Americans?

CALLER: Hi, Rick. I think if your name starts or ends with Abdullah, Abib, Ahmed, Amajad, any of those names, you should not be allowed to fly into America.

SANCHEZ: Should we talk about the one thing that could have stopped this guy, but we're all afraid to say it, profiling? Tonight, we will tell you what we know, facts, not speculation.

Plus, could violence like this be the end of Iran's Islamic revolution? Blood on the streets broadcast worldwide, uncensored on the Internet.

Also tonight, celebrities behaving badly, from Charlie Sheen to Ivana Trump, they get into serious trouble over the Holloway weekend. We will tell you what happens now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now.

In for Campbell Brown, Rick Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez. And let's do it. Let's do the "Mash-Up."

Our top story tonight, al Qaeda claims responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing, as the president tries to convince the country that he's on top of this situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A counterterrorism official says that two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners are among the leaders of al Qaeda's branch in the Arabian Peninsula, the same group that is now claiming responsibility for the attempted terror attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abdulmutallab's name was among half-a-million in a federal terrorism database, put there after his father, a Nigerian banker, told the U.S. five weeks ago that he was worried his son was becoming radicalized and might consider a suicide attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the bomb smuggled onto the Northwest flight, sewn into the crotch of the suspect's underwear. In this photo, the pact of actual explosive powder was removed from charred and singed underwear and displayed separately. It is a 6-inch-long packet of the high-explosive chemical called PETN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama interrupted his vacation in Hawaii today to outline a series of steps to make sure what happened on Christmas Day doesn't happen again.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And you saw those pictures in there. Allegedly, the explosive-laden underwear worn by the suspected terrorist, I want you to take a look at it right now. There it is.

CNN has just obtained that picture from a government source, and there are others. We're going to be talking to experts to find out exactly how much of this explosive could have been contained in there. They're just in to CNN once again. And we are going to show them to you and talk about them in just a little bit.

Tonight, the White House is in full damage control mode. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is dialing back her comments that -- quote -- "The system worked" on Christmas.

First, I want you to listen to what she told Candy Crowley -- that was yesterday -- on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAPOLITANO: One thing I would he like to point out is, is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified.

The whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly, and effectively went very smoothly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: The system worked is what she said. Today, the administration appeared to walk that back somewhat.

Here's Napolitano again this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAPOLITANO: That's a phrase taken out of context. The comment is being taken out of context. Our system didn't work in this instance. What I said is moving forward, moving forward, moving forward, once the incident occurred, once the incident happened, we were able with the systems we do have to notify the 128 flights in the air, the 128 flights in the air to immediately put in place safety procedures, notify law enforcement, as well as airports on the ground domestically, internationally, and check-in procedures and additional screening procedures.

We're obviously moving as quickly as possible to look at all of the information coming in. How did this individual get on the plane? Why wasn't the explosive material detected? An extensive review is under way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: We are going to examine for you who this suspect is, what went wrong, and how close he came to blowing the plane right out of the sky.

Over to Iran now, where protests have turned ugly. And, tonight, the government is rounding up and arresting top leaders of the opposition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: The clashes are the deadliest since the violence that followed June's presidential election. And a nephew of Iran's opposition leader reportedly was among the dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sunday's deadly crackdown on a Muslim holiday when violence is forbidden has raised anti-government anger to fever pitch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things are indeed getting more tense. And no video illustrates it better than what you are looking at right now. One of the security officers is saying I'm sorry, but the protesters continue to taunt them, demanding one of them to say that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is -- and excuse my language here -- a bastard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, Iranian authorities arrested more prominent activists and tightened restrictions on Internet use.

OBAMA: The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens. We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Unbelievable pictures that are coming out of Iran tonight and what the martyrdom of a presidential candidate's nephew might do to escalate this situation.

Reza Sayah is going to join me to take this apart for you.

Here at home, the father who won his son back in that bitter Brazilian custody battle is describing their emotional Christmas Eve reunion. Here's David Goldman on NBC's "Today Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GOLDMAN, FATHER: He didn't ever, ever once say I don't want to go with you. I don't want to be with you, anything whatsoever. He had no resistance at all.

But at the same time, he was in a great deal of pain. I mean, what he just had experienced is -- it's unfathomable. It is very real, because he's here. And I can hold him now and I can hug him and I can tell him and look him in the eye how much I love him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has he called you dad yet?

GOLDMAN: No, he hasn't. He hasn't really -- he hasn't called me anything. And he's -- I think he's struggling with that. We will heal and we will enjoy and live and love and share and cry and laugh and learn as father and son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Over now to the balmy shores of Hawaii and what appeared to be a security scare for President Obama that put reporters on red alert suddenly. It turns out it was much ado about -- well, a little one.

Here's how the story unfolded as CNN's Ed Henry filed one of the very first reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's been quite a buzz here in Hawaii all of sudden because the president cut short a golf game. His motorcade raced from the golf course back to the rental home on the north side of Oahu. And the traveling press pool saw a lot of police activity, an ambulance leaving that rental home.

What I have just confirmed with White House aides is that nobody from the first family -- that's most important thing to note -- nobody from the first family has been injured. Thankfully, it turns out that there was just a minor injury at the compound. We understand that a child basically cut his chin, needed some stitches, and it was the child of somebody who was golfing with the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And that brings us to the "Punchline" from the good guys at JibJab. Behold their take on 2009.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: That is the "Punchline." And there you have your daily "Mash-Up."

Coming up: warnings, red flags and missed opportunities over this plot to blow up Flight 253. But why was the man flagged as a possible terrorist allowed on the plane to begin with? Why wasn't he put on a no-fly list? We're going to have some answers that may surprise you on this.

Also, new pictures obtained tonight by CNN. This is the actual bomb, the underwear bomb, if you will, carried on that Detroit-bound airliner. Just got those. And how is the U.S. responding to that terror threat from Yemen now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, FELLOW, CENTER ON LAW AND SECURITY: There are signs that al Qaeda has now a growing presence inside Yemen. It's really becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Here's what we want to know tonight about the suspected terrorist who almost blew up a plane on Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He's a 23-year-old Nigerian who had a multiple-entry visa to the United States. That's important.

His father, a successful banker, had warned authorities about his son weeks earlier. So, the question now becomes quite obvious. What was or wasn't done with that information that was received from his father? Was he at any point put on a list?

I have got some information I want to take you through, a series of lists that they use for terrorists. List one, this is called the TIDE database. It has about a half-million people on it. He was on that list. But, again, that's the very first list. I want to show you list two now. All right? This is called a terrorist screening database. This one has about 400,000 names on it. He wasn't on that list, as we understand it.

I want to show you another list now. This is list three. This is called a selectee list, only 14,000 people on this list. And what it essentially does is, it makes a secondary screening, as you see written on the bottom of that, mandatory.

In other words, you show up at the airport, and they say, wait a minute. Come over here. They take you aside and they do a secondary screening. Now, here's really the most important list of all. This is list four. This is called the no-fly list.

You don't get on an airplane if you're on this list, not a lot of people on it. As you can see right there, there's only 4,000 people that are on this list. Those are the facts, as we have been able to gather them for you.

Now, let's try and get an explanation of this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Here now, terrorism expert Paul Cruickshank and CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend, who was President Bush's homeland security adviser.

Fran, let me start with you and let me cut right to the chase. What is the threshold for this no-fly list? It would seem that's the one we wanted this character on, right?

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, Rick.

And what it turns out is, that list is restricted only to those who we believe to be a risk to aviation security. As you can understand, there are different thresholds for each of the different lists that you have gone through, and this one has the fewest number of people on it because, unless you really have specific and credible information that an individual is a threat to aviation security...

SANCHEZ: Well, what could be more of a threat than his own father, who seems to be a real reputable guy, an honest banker, who is a distinguished individual, according to everybody who knows him, who goes to authorities and essentially says, I'm worried about my son; he's been radicalized, and I fear that he might become a suicide bomber?

My goodness, what more could we have asked for than that?

TOWNSEND: You're absolutely right, Rick. And this is clearly a fumble.

Actually, I have been interested that we haven't seen more outrage on the part of the administration. This clearly was a mistake. We know from our allies around the world, specifically in Saudi Arabia, that this is the most credible information. You want to encourage families to report the radicalization of the sons in their family.

SANCHEZ: You know, Paul, I almost think to a certain extent -- thank goodness nobody got hurt in this deal, I almost think it's like turning the lights in a room and suddenly you get to see all the cockroaches.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: The fact that this organization al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is now coming out today and claiming responsibility, calling it a heroic attack, their direct quote, by the way, seems to tell us that, OK, these are the bad guys. These are the guys that we need to really be focusing on, maybe more than we're focusing on Afghanistan and Iraq.

CRUICKSHANK: That's absolutely right, Rick. This group is al Qaeda's affiliate in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. There are signs that al Qaeda has now a growing presence inside Yemen.

It's really becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda in recent months. And this claim of responsibility, I think, is a credible claim of responsibility for this attack. In recent months, they have been making statements, threatening statements about targeting American aviation, American airports.

Just a few days ago, before Christmas, there was a threat from one of their operatives in a speech he made to tribal elders within Yemen. So this may well be al Qaeda launching an attack from Yemen, Rick, against the United States.

SANCHEZ: Well, but there's a difference between is and may be. And here's what I want to know, and I think this is what Americans want to know. Is there at this point or are you confident, Paul, as an expert in this field that there either is or will be a quid pro quo that matches this attempted terrorist who tried to blow up this plane with this group claiming responsibility in parts of Yemen, that they physically either trained him, assigned him to this?

CRUICKSHANK: That does seem to be what we're seeing in this attack, that he was sent from Yemen. He says that he was trained over there, he was given this bomb in Yemen. He said that to the FBI, according to reports.

Now, al Qaeda over there in Yemen recently were responsible for a very similar sort of attack in Saudi Arabia against an official there, a prince over there, where they used this same explosive, PETN.

So, this group does have a track record in using this explosive. They now say they want to attack the United States more and more and target American airliners, Rick. And that's very, very concerning.

SANCHEZ: It looks like this administration is trying to let the Yemenis be the front guys on whatever operation we're doing out there. Can either of you give us any sense of what we're doing and maybe further to the point what we should be doing if we're to confirm this quid pro quo, that these guys in Yemen actually put this guy up to this, he accepted the assignment, and tried to kill innocent people?

TOWNSEND: Rick, I will tell you, going back before 9/11, the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, in 2000, where we lost -- tragically lost 17 American sailors, since then, we have seen two attacks against our embassy in Sanaa. The guns used in the attack against our consulate in Jeddah also came out of Yemen.

This attack that was just mentioned against Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the head of the Saudi internal security and counterterrorism force, this is a continuing problem. And the time for polite diplomacy has long passed. We have poured tens of millions into Yemen to build counterterrorism capability. And obviously it hasn't had results.

And so what really needs to happen as far as I'm concerned is Yemen needs to be told quite clearly either you're going to solve the problem inside your borders that's a threat to the U.S. and its regional allies or allow the U.S. and international community to come in and do it for you.

SANCHEZ: Paul and Fran, my thanks to you both. Great insight, great conversation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: This has got to be the craziest tale in this story so far. The terror suspect allegedly hit explosives in his underwear. And here's the picture of that bomb, as we have been showing it to you since we received it just really moments ago.

How do you protect against someone who is willing to do that? Is profiling the answer?

We heard from plenty today who say, yes, we may need to go in that direction. That's exactly what we have got to do, they say.

We are going to get the answer and debate on that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

I'm going to be taking you through a series of pictures now. Today, a law enforcement official told CNN the suspected terrorist had hidden explosives in his underwear, enough explosives that he could possibly have blown an Airbus 330 right out of the sky.

Here are some photos just in to CNN. Those are the underwear. FBI says the substance that he used was known as PETN. The government has been testing PETN and other explosives in a transportation security lab in Atlantic city to see what it can do to a plane. Take a look. All right, that's just a demonstration. Here's another one. CNN's Nic Robertson shows us what just six grams of PETN can do, six grams. He did that demonstration earlier today. Now, let me put this in perspective for you. That was six grams, right? This is 80 grams. I don't know if you can see the line right there. That's where it is. That's what 80 grams is. This is what this suspected terrorist was said to have hidden, this amount, in his underwear.

Tom Fuentes is joining us now. He's a CNN contributor and a former assistant director with the FBI. Mike Brooks is a CNN law enforcement analyst.

Thanks to both of you.

Let me start once again first and foremost by showing that picture that we received tonight. This is the actual picture that we have received from government sources of what is described really as a bomb, I guess partially ignited.

Mike, start us off. As we look the at this picture, tell us what PETN is.

MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Rick, PETN is a high explosive. You can find it by yourself, by itself, or if you look at -- we have heard of Semtex, which is explosive that Tom will tell you is also used in the Middle East quite a bit, also was used by the Republic -- IRA over the years. And that's made of up RDX, another explosive, and PETN. But PETN also is used in det cord in a military application.

SANCHEZ: But it's essentially what, a powder, right, as I understand it?

BROOKS: It can be a powder or basically -- or a plastic explosive. We hear about plastic explosives. It can be that...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: And plastic would mean what, kind of like a muddy substance?

BROOKS: You can have a combination of both and use plasticizers to make it into something you can mold. I mean, Rick, PETN on its own, you can take it. You can hit it with a hammer. If you light it, it will basically melt.

In and of itself, it's not susceptible to heat, shock or friction. And let me just kind of put it in perspective for you. Richard Reid, you remember the shoe bomber?

SANCHEZ: Of course.

BROOKS: OK.

SANCHEZ: I was on the air the day that he tried to blow up that plane, as a matter of fact. BROOKS: Right. And we talked about that on air.

Inside, he hollowed out his tennis shoe and he tried to light it, but he couldn't get it lit because he was trying to set it off. You have to have an initiator. Now, this PETN was the main charge in this explosive device on this plane, on the Northwest flight, as well as Richard Reid's, OK? But you need something to kick it off.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: That sounds like that's the...

BROOKS: That's the problem.

SANCHEZ: I have been reading -- since this incident happened, you can't -- I think all of us have -- you can't help but immediately and do as much research as you can. People compare it to nitroglycerin, which is something us older guys remember growing up as kids. It's not nitroglycerin, but it's similar to nitroglycerin.

(CROSSTALK)

BROOKS: Not really, Rick, because nitroglycerin is susceptible to heat, shock, and friction.

Now, Richard Reid, he used the initiator in his bomb with the main charge of PETN. He used triacetone triperoxide, which is susceptible to heat, shock and friction, as is nitroglycerin.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Tom, let me bring you into this conversation, because it seems again, and this is the thing that Americans are wrestling with right now, like this stuff, PETN, is very difficult to detect under normal conditions at an airport, correct?

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Oh, yes, absolutely correct, Rick.

SANCHEZ: And if it's very difficult to detect, in other words, you have to have one of those blowers -- I think we have all been in those now -- where you go into this square box and they blow something at you, hopefully making these powders go out so then they can detect them or a dog or a full imaging screen of you -- most people don't have those done when they go through airports.

So with this threat out there, do you as an FBI guy believe that we need to change our screening procedures?

FUENTES: Well, I think it's pretty clear that there's going to be a need for more screening devices, the training to operate them, the number of personnel to use them at airports.

And they're not talking about United States airports, but all over the world for all of the flights that eventually would land in the United States. I think some comments have been made recently that this is a wakeup call to Americans. Frankly, I hope Congress is still awake when the legislation for appropriations come in for the bill to buy these machines and hire the people necessary to operate them. That's what it's going to take.

SANCHEZ: Did we drop the ball, Tom, especially in light of what we are hearing today from this organization in Yemen, claiming responsibility for this, and the possibility that some of the people within this organization may have been, Tom, people that we had detained and let go?

FUENTES: Well, that's true, Rick. The Saudi Arabian government has a policy administered by Prince bin Nayef, who was almost assassinated last August 28, but they have a policy to take some of these individuals and try to rehabilitate them.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: How's that working out?

FUENTES: Well, works for some, doesn't work for others, as we have seen.

But something also that should be noted here is that we're criticizing the government of Yemen, which is a very poor country. It's probably one of the poorest countries in the world, much less the rich neighborhood that it resides in.

But what happened originally is, the Saudi Arabians were not that aggressive against al Qaeda initially. And many of the -- as we saw from the 9/11 attack, how many Saudi nationals went to Afghanistan and went to the camps.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: We're down to 10 seconds. But consensus between you two that we have been too soft perhaps?

(CROSSTALK)

FUENTES: Well, what I will say, Rick, is when Saudi Arabia decided to crack down following three bombings in May of 2003, many of those Saudis crossed the land border into Yemen. And that's been a continuing problem for the Yemen government.

Obviously, there were many there before when the Cole bombing happened two years earlier, but many are there now and the government is trying to crack down. I know that's been off and on from many perspectives.

BROOKS: And, Rick, somebody has to be held accountable to why he had a visa in the first place and wasn't put on one of these lists. As the president said today, he was in the system.

(CROSSTALK)

BROOKS: How was he in the system? SANCHEZ: Is it the $60,000 question that the president of the United States and his administration is going to be trying to answer, I think, not just tonight, but for several weeks.

My thanks to both of you for being with us.

Profiling now, it's a dirty word for civil libertarians, but today we have heard from a lot of people who say go ahead, give some passengers extra screening based on foreign-sounding names even or ethnicity or religion. Will profiling actually keep us safer? We are going to get answers from security experts in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: It's a dirty word for civil libertarians, but today we've heard from a lot of people who say go ahead, give some passengers extra screening based on foreign-sounding names even, or ethnicity or religion. Will profiling actually keep us safer? We're going to get answers from security experts in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. Who should and who should not be screened, and how much should they be screened when arriving at airports? Listen to what some Americans are saying in light of this terrorist scare. This is a viewer who called my show earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIEWER PHONE CALL: Hi, Rick. I think if your name starts or ends with Abdullah, Habib, 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 VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Some of you would say you agree with that gentleman. Others of you would say no, that's profiling.

Joining me from Washington, Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who takes a hard line on this issue. And in Los Angeles, Edina Lekovic of the Muslim Public Affairs Council who says hold on a minute before you start prejudging people.

My thanks to both of you for being with us. Edina, let me begin with you. What do you think of that gentleman's message you just heard?

EDINA LEKOVIC, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Look, I think it's understandable that people are jittery in these times, but we can't allow fear and paranoia to cause us to engage in bad policing, and that's exactly what racial profiling is. It doesn't work. It's unconstitutional, and it's discriminatory. And on top of that, it's got two fatal flaws. The first is that it actually undermines our security because it lulls us into a false sense of confidence that because we profiled people based on name that we think we've got our bases covered. Well, Richard Reid, Timothy McVeigh, Jose Padilla, that wouldn't have worked for any of them.

SANCHEZ: Let me bring Cliff into the conversation.

LEKOVIC: It undermines -- hold on, let me bring up the second point, which is that the second fatal flaw that it undermines the trust in law enforcement by the very people who we need most, which is those communities that are being profiled or that are potentially being targeted.

SANCHEZ: OK, fair enough. Cliff, your shot.

CLIFFORD D. MAY, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Yes. Nobody who is serious is saying what that caller is saying.

SANCHEZ: OK.

MAY: Racial profiling I totally disagree with. What I do think we have to do it's only practical is terrorist profiling. In other words, if you look at terrorists, you will find they have certain characteristics in common and that should raise alarm bells.

SANCHEZ: OK, like what? OK, like what kind of characteristics? Name some for me.

MAY: Well, OK, for one thing, they're going to be young. For another thing, they're mostly going to be male. For another thing, they're going to have spent time in countries where Islamist terrorism is being preached and practices, places like Yemen, where Farouk Abdulmutallab have spent from August, I believe it was, until December. That should have been a big sign. Will they be Muslim? Yes, because Al Qaeda doesn't recruit many Catholics, Lutherans or Jews for all these reasons.

SANCHEZ: OK. Well, you just named religion. You named ethnicity, and you named geography.

MAY: And let me add this. And behavior as well. When you take the whole mix, you can find certain things about.

SANCHEZ: So you're saying -- so let's be clear. Let's be clear in this conversation, because I think that's what we owe to our viewers. You're saying that someone who arrives at an airport and is from a certain country and is from a certain religion should be screened extra based on the fact that --

MAY: Not necessarily -- no. You have to add a few things. For example, in this particular case, you have somebody who bought his ticket with cash. That should have been a sign who had no luggage. That should have been a sign. By the way, in this case, his father said he was radicalized.

SANCHEZ: OK.

MAY: In other words, you got to put all this into the mix.

LEKOVIC: Let's go back to the original signs.

MAY: Look, we're not -- no one is saying we should racially profile, and no one is saying that it should only be about religion. But let me tell you what a friend of mine who's a Muslim who I travel with said. His name happens to be Talibani. With a name like mine, they should ask me a few questions because it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to figure that out.

SANCHEZ: Well, what do you make, Edina, of what Cliff just said? And, you know, he's not saying just go after people ad infinitum, but he said there are certain classifications that we should check and people should be OK with that. You say what?

LEKOVIC: Right. The minute that you nail down race, religion, ethnicity, country of origin as factors that lead to profiling is the minute that you spell out exactly what the violent extremists need to avoid in order to plan their next terror attacks. First, we started -- hold on --

SANCHEZ: But Edina -- no, you hold on, I want to ask you a question. I want to ask you a question very direct. I think people will understand this.

LEKOVIC: Sure.

SANCHEZ: If the preponderance of people on a terrorist watch list are from country X, is it not smart to check people from country X a little more carefully?

LEKOVIC: But there is no preponderance. That's precisely the point. Look at the list of people who have been engaged. Richard Reid from the UK, one after another --

SANCHEZ: You don't think -- you don't think people on the terrorist watch list tend to be from the parts of countries in the Middle East, for example?

LEKOVIC: No, that's precisely what the violent extremists want us to buy into. If we had paid attention to the parents in this case -- and this is the pattern that we've seen in these last three cases. The case of the five men out of Virginia, the case of the Somalis in Minnesota, and this case, you have parents who are reporting suspicious activities and suspicious thoughts from their children.

SANCHEZ: But we're not talking about parents.

LEKOVIC: They're stepping forward and we're ignoring them. That's a problem.

SANCHEZ: We should have followed up, but that's not the question. Cliff, you get the last word. MAY: Well, here's the main point, Rick. Right now, what we're doing at airports, who really knows, is we're looking for weapons. And if they're sewn into underwear, it's going to pretty hard to find them.

Looking for weapons is not the way you do this. Looking for terrorists is the way you do this. And so you have to know as much as you can about terrorists. And if you've got a lot of behavioral, background, geographic and other signs that somebody may need more questioning and more screening, then you give them a little more questioning and screening and no reasonable person will mind that.

LEKOVIC: Right. The focus on behavior, not on race or religion.

SANCHEZ: We'll leave it at that but there's obviously a lot of gray area here. And that's why I'm glad we had you guys here to take us through this.

I really enjoyed the discussion. I think a lot of people did as well. Good points made on both sides. My thanks to you both.

MAY: Thank you, Rick.

LEKOVIC: Thanks, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Great pictures coming up. One of those controlled explosions where demolition experts take down a huge bridge. And then some delicious dirt. Celebrities behaving badly. Yes, we'll have it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. In a few minutes, we're going to talk about some of those celebrities behaving badly this holiday season.

First, there's more must-see news that's happening right now. And here, my hero, Randi Kaye, with tonight's "Download."

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: My question to you, Rick, is you're feeling pretty safe here in New York while you're here?

SANCHEZ: Thus far.

KAYE: Yes? Good. All right.

Well, that makes sense, because despite the recession and cuts to the police force, crime in New York City continues to fall. Crime is down 11 percent this year, and the murder rate is the lowest since the early 1960s. With just a few days to go, 2009 is on pace to be the safest year in New York City history, at least since reliable records were kept.

Over the weekend, holiday movies shattered box office records. The sci-fi extravaganza "Avatar" --

SANCHEZ: Loved it. KAYE: Oh, Rick loved it. There you go. Earned $75.6 million trumping the debuts of "Sherlock Holmes," "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" -- I love that one that, too. "The Squeakquel."

SANCHEZ: No.

KAYE: No? You didn't see that one, huh? Also is complicated. The diverse array of high profile releases over the holiday weekend set a record with an estimated $278 million in weekend box office revenue. That broke the previous record set back in July 2008 on the weekend "The Dark Knight" was released.

Eighty years of history came crashing down this morning in upstate New York. Take a look. Check it out. The 80-year-old Lake Champlain Bridge between Vermont and New York -- wow -- came tumbling down this morning.

SANCHEZ: It's amazing how they do that.

KAYE: It's it cool. Vermont's governor actually detonated the explosives. The aging and unsafe bridge fell right into the lake, and once it's cleaned up construction of a new bridge will begin this summer.

SANCHEZ: Yes, they're going to leave that there. They're not going to clean it up until spring actually.

KAYE: You know a little place for the fish to --

SANCHEZ: That's how I clean, by the way. Later.

KAYE: Just blow it up.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Randi.

Straight ahead, stars behaving badly. CNN has received the emotional 911 call and you're going to be hearing it perhaps here for the very first time of Charlie Sheen's wife after an apparent domestic incident on Christmas morning when she calls authorities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE MUELLER: My husband had me -- with a knife and I'm scared for my life and he threatened me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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SANCHEZ: Welcome back. The last couple of days we've seen some celebrities pretty much losing it. Charlie Sheen and Ivana Trump acting out. First, CNN has received now the frantic 911 call made from Sheen's wife. This is Christmas morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE MUELLER: My husband had me -- with a knife and I'm scared for my life and he threatened me.

OPERATOR: OK, are you guys separated right now?

MUELLER: Yes, right now we have people that are separating us, but I have to file the report or else --

OPERATOR: Are there other people there? Does he still have the knife?

MUELLER: Yes, he still does.

OPERATOR: What's your name?

MUELLER: Brooke.

OPERATOR: And what's your husband's name?

MUELLER: It's Charlie Sheen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: We've reached out to Charlie Sheen's representatives. They released a statement out saying, "Do not be misled by appearance. Appearance and reality can be as different as night and day. It would benefit everyone not to jump to any conclusion."

Joining me here in the studio is John Ridley, founder of ThatMinorityThing.com, and Carlos Diaz joining me as well from "Extra." Thanks, gentlemen.

Carlos, I'll begin with you. You've been digging on this story all day long. What have you learned?

CARLOS DIAZ, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": Well, the 911 tape as we found out in the Tiger Wood's scandal is pretty damning to Charlie Sheen. We know when you have actual audio, it's a story. It's a story on the Internet until you have actual audio that there's proof that there is something going on, you know, on Christmas day.

The bottom line, though, is that now she's recanted her story and authorities are saying that we're not going to know if he's even going to be charged until February.

SANCHEZ: But isn't that --

DIAZ: There's a lot of --

SANCHEZ: I don't mean to interrupt.

DIAZ: Sure.

SANCHEZ: But just going back to my old cop beat days as a reporter for many years in Miami, as you know...

DIAZ: Right.

SANCHEZ: I recall talking to police officers who said it's quite common for spouses to recant in cases like this.

DIAZ: Right.

SANCHEZ: And oftentimes police ignore that and go through with charges anyway.

DIAZ: Right. And, you know, the main point of the 911 call is that she confirms that there are people in the house with him, so what did these people see? So there are obviously witnesses, which as you know, you usually don't have in domestic violence cases. So you have witnesses in this case that saw what went down in this house in Aspen, and, you know, they are asked to testify --

SANCHEZ: He could be in trouble.

DIAZ: He could be in trouble.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Hey, John, Charlie Sheen is, what? One of the highest paid guys in all of television.

JOHN RIDLEY, FOUNDER, "THATMINORITYTHING.COM: Yes. He makes almost a million bucks an episode, 22 episodes a year, $22 million.

SANCHEZ: How is this going to hurt him?

RIDLEY: I don't know if this is going to hurt him.

SANCHEZ: Really.

RIDLEY: This is not so much of a surprise for Charlie Sheen. He's done this before, this kind of thing allegedly with this incident.

SANCHEZ: Right.

RIDLEY: Has been convicted of these kinds of things before, has had problems with drugs, alcohol, prostitution, things like that.

SANCHEZ: You mean to say he'll continue acting, sign another contract and keep doing his thing?

RIDLEY: I think unless this turns out to be a really vicious incident or some other incident after this, really vicious one different from Tiger Woods where he's got this good-guy image.

SANCHEZ: Speaking of good guy/bad guy, who knows, this is -- just came out of the blue. I want to tell you about Ivana Trump. Ivana Trump, right?

She's on a plane, commercial plane to New York. She starts cursing at some children because they're apparently making too much noise. They're kids. She screams at the flight attendant, and I don't mean screams. I mean uses a very foul language, as foul as you could get. You can imagine it, that's what she used. Then they have to calm her down. She gets even angrier, asked by authorities to exit, taken off the plane, apparently physically according to officials and continues then using more expletives with law enforcement according to the affidavit later on.

First of all, Carlos, why wasn't she charged?

DIAZ: Well, that's the key. It's -- you're taken off the plane, and then, of course, you have to figure out what went down. But the key for Ivana Trump is you might not want to make a big stink the day after someone tries to blow up a plane landing in Detroit. That might be something that you want to look into.

SANCHEZ: You're going to be --

DIAZ: Keep quiet.

SANCHEZ: You're going to end up in the news no matter what. Is this surprising? Done in ten seconds, John.

RIDLEY: Sure. I'm surprise that Ivana Trump is flying commercial. That's what's surprising to me and clearly when you have rich people flying with the regular people, they don't know how to behave. The rich people don't.

SANCHEZ: That's an interesting point. By the way, we reached out to Ivana Trump and her representatives. She did not make a comment. We also asked her to appear. She did not want to do that it appears either.

My thanks to both of you guys.

Up next, anti-government protesters take to the streets in Iran. Could violence like this be the end of Iran's Islamic government? We've got the pictures that are just truly amazing.

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SANCHEZ: Anti-government protesters taking to the streets over the weekend fighting back when security forces went after them. Three hundred people have been arrested so far. Will freedom be strangled in Iran, or will something else happen?

I had a chance to talk with one of our own experts, Reza Sayah, CNN's man in that part of the world who happens to be in Atlanta tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Reza, how is this different from some of the protests we've seen in the past?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, the intensity is increasing. And all you have to do is listen to the slogans.

When I was back in Iran right after the elections on June 12th, the opposition movement was chanting protests disputing the elections. Now you look at the slogans and you listen to them. They're directed very aggressively at Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. One piece of dramatic video that came into CNN posted on a Web site over the weekend really illustrates how aggressive and intense things have gotten. The video shows protesters surrounding what appear to be some terrified uniform security forces. One of the security personnel who was bloodied is saying I'm sorry, I'm sorry. But the protesters continue to taunt. One protester is wagging a finger demanding the security personnel to say that Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, and excuse my language here, is a bastard. So that really shows you how nasty, how venomous this conflict has evolved between the opposition movement and this hard- line regime.

SANCHEZ: It makes me think, though, it makes me think of two things as I listen to you explain that. A, is there a possibility that for the first time we're seeing the protesters get the upper hand on some of these forces trying to stop them? And the other thing that comes to mind that I'd like you to address is, where is this leading to? Where is this possibly going to end up?

SAYAH: Well, that's difficult to predict. I don't think anyone was able to predict that we'd be here today, so it's tough to predict where this is going. So what you have to do then is look at the facts, look at what's happening now. We have two sides that are simply not backing down. They're digging in and getting more aggressive.

One is the opposition movements that despite a six-month vicious, brutal, sometimes deadly crackdown by the government is not going away. In fact, they're gaining momentum. And then we have the regime, the hard-line leaders now led by what many say is a militarized state, the revolutionary guard. They haven't really been creative. Their strategy has been to use brute force to crack down, but the fact is they haven't been able to stop this opposition movement.

Where is this going to lead? Is this regime going to topple? That's difficult to say. But what we can tell you there's serious turmoil in Iran right now. This political crisis seems to be continuing without an end.

SANCHEZ: Reza Sayah with a handle on that situation for us there as you see some of the pictures develop in Iran. Obviously, a story that we at CNN are dedicated to and are very much going to stay on top of. Thanks so much, Reza.

SAYAH: You're welcome.

SANCHEZ: "LARRY KING LIVE" is next right after tonight's "Guilty Pleasure." How do you open a wine bottle if you don't have a corkscrew?

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SANCHEZ: "LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up. But first, tonight's "Guilty Pleasure," the video we just can't resist.

Did you ever try and open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. Well, CNN's Jeanne Moos found a Frenchman who used his shoe.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He may not be the world's greatest wine connoisseur, but this Frenchman sure knows how to pop his cork. And we don't mean the usual way. We mean without a corkscrew. Call it the cork shoe technique.

He's the toast of the Internet for his sure-footed effort to open what surely wasn't the first bottle of the night. Go ahead and laugh. Twenty seconds later, this Frenchman had that bottle uncorked. His feet is the subject of Internet instruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, YOUTUBE)

NARRATOR: How to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew.

Step one: Stick a screw into the cork.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Ranging from using a screw and a hammer to a hammer and a beater from a mixer. Well, that method ended and the cork being shoved inside the bottle.

Others recommend using a sharpie. This method is best if you're planning on polishing off the whole bottle. If caught without a corkscrew, a wine professional might resort to a tree.

(on camera): Or you could try using the phone book. Who says the Internet has made the phone book obsolete? Try doing this with a laptop. You know a nice red goes very well with the yellow pages.

(voice-over): Funny, when they did it, it looked so easy.

(on camera): Do you think because it's cheap wine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nada.

MOOS: I'm exhausted.

MOOS (voice-over): So my producer, Richard Davis, took over.

Champagne corks are much bigger and easier. Even sword play works.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.

MOOS: But here's a method that leaves you more screwed than a corkscrew. We tried whacking the floor. We tried the bottle and boot technique, but the cork wouldn't budge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, YOUTUBE)

NARRATOR: Eighty-five percent of the world's wine corks come from Portugal. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Yes. Well, ours was the cork from hell.

RICHARD DAVIS, CNN PRODUCER: This is really frustrating.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: That's it for now. I'm Rick Sanchez. Campbell is back tomorrow. Thanks so much for being with us.

Here now, the king, Larry starts right now.