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CNN NEWSROOM

Suspicious Van Leads to Evacuations in Times Square; Amsterdam Airport to Add Body Scanners; Security Stepped Up at Airports; Snow Making Budget Problems Worse; What Factors Contribute to Radical Ideology?

Aired December 30, 2009 - 13:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Poppy, let me hand you over to my colleague. You're in great hands here with Kyra Phillips as we continue with CNN NEWSROOM.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Appreciate it, Tony. Thanks so much.

Poppy is with us there on the scene. She was actually working a story for us on the big New Year's celebration that's going to take place in Times Square. That took a bit of a turn once this suspicious van came about that authorities were interested in.

Mike Brooks on the line with us, too.

Mike, it looks like somebody just wanted a good spot for the celebration at this point?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Either that, Kyra, or one of the merchants had been loading, unloading for their business for a couple of days. Maybe put a plaque up there -- a placard with the NYPD so nobody would give them a ticket. And the vehicle has been here for quite some time. It looks like no hazardous material was found here, especially since, you know, we're hearing now from Poppy they're opening 42nd Street back up to pedestrian traffic.

So it looks like, you know, things are back to normal there. I guarantee you one thing, Kyra, they probably will tow this vehicle out of there as they start to clear the area for the New Year's Eve celebration tomorrow evening.

PHILLIPS; And if, indeed, there is a NYPD placard in that van and someone was trying to pull a fast one, I can guarantee you whoever owns that van is going to be in big trouble, Mike.

BROOKS: Most likely, you know. But sometimes you see that up there and in other cities around the country. So...

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Mike.

BROOKS: All right, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Poppy -- Poppy, I still have you on the -- yes, I've got you. Did you get the all clear? HARLOW: Yes. We just got the all clear from the cops here, NYPD. Big grin he gave me, Kyra. He said, all clear. We've got traffic now moving. People moving. Looks like we're all clear.

I'm going to walk towards that van and try to talk to some of the police officers. There you hear them.

PHILLIPS: All right. That's great. Yes, we're going to...

HARLOW: We're going to try and figure out what's going on.

PHILLIPS: That's great. Work your -- that is good news. Work your way over there. See if you can talk with someone, Poppy. While I have you, though, where we used to take you live all the time was over at the NASDAQ.

HARLOW: Sure.

PHILLIPS: You had reported that that was closed down, as well. Do you know if NASDAQ's reopened?

HARLOW: Yes, you know, Kyra, I'm standing in front of the NASDAQ right now. I'm going to just go try to open the door while I'm on the line with you. But it looks like the NASDAQ, from all I can see, looks like it is open.

Are you guys operating normally here? Yes. NASDAQ operating normally right now, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Good news. Excellent.

HARLOW: So it looks like an all clear on a very important scary day, but it looks like, from what we can tell, looks like an all clear.

PHILLIPS: That's great news. Poppy Harlow, once again, was working the changes that'll be taking place for the New Year's celebration coming up. CNN's going to be carrying that live.

And as you can imagine, in light of the terrorist attacks that have struck New York City, we all are extremely sensitive to anything that is suspicious, especially when it comes to a big celebration like New Year's Eve.

But it looks like we've got the all clear. The suspicious van, you can see NYPD, also members of the bomb unit there, have given the all clear. Everything opening up.

We're going to stay in touch with Poppy Harlow. Hopefully, we can get her back over to where the ball drop is going to take place tomorrow night so we can at least have a little fun now once the scare has subsided.

Poppy Harlow, thanks so much. Also to our Mike Brooks.

We're going to move on to another top story this hour. A shot that we haven't seen before from the plane that could have been blown out of the sky on Christmas.

From passenger Richard Griffith comes this look at the seat where a fellow passenger actually tried to set off that apparent bomb as Northwest Flight 253 came in for a landing in Detroit. Those tanks are fire extinguishers, by the way.

And privacy versus security. Until last week, privacy qualms slowed down the spread of body scans at airports here and in Europe. But in the wake of what happened on that U.S.-bound flight Christmas day, scans are back on the fast track. And privacy takes a backseat.

The Amsterdam airport where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly brought explosives onto Northwest Flight 253 says it will have more than a dozen body scanners up and running in three weeks. Let's get the details now from CNN's Phil Black. He's in London -- Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kyra. They're -- they reckon about 15 full-body scanners are going to be operating at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport within three weeks to scan all passengers traveling to the United States.

No surprise, this is a direct consequence of that attempted Christmas-Day bombing. Authorities there say they believe it's necessary because that attempted attack has shown a flaw in existing security procedures.

The suspect there was screened by a metal detecting gate. But the bomb or the weapon he's accused of carrying contained no metal parts. Take a listen now to the Dutch interior minister on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUUSJE TER HORST, DUTCH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): All aspects of security investigated in detail. But the detection gates are able to detect metal, which is why we carry out samples and -- and do body searches. This system, of course, is not watertight, which is why, meanwhile, we have decided to start using body scanners on flights to the States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Privacy concerns have slowed the roll out of these scanning machines in countries around the world. What do these images show? Who gets to see these images?

But Dutch authorities say they can get around this, because their machines will be automated. Software will screen the images. And only when there's a suspect reading will a security staff member then take a look -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Phil. Thanks so much.

And at this point air travelers stand to be scanned or frisked, limited to one carry-on or none, and told to sit still for an hour before they land. CNN's Richard Quest surveys a patchwork of precautions with a single overriding goal. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Slow and steady. The pace passengers face from check-in to plane. With only one piece of hand luggage now allowed, passengers bound for the U.S. undergo lengthy searches at security, which include a final pat-down before boarding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can I tell you? What can I say? I cannot change my ticket. I have to try to go and try to be safe.

QUEST: Airlines also have the discretion to enforce a rule that requires passengers to remain seated one hour before landing with nothing in their laps.

SIMON CALDER, TRAVEL EDITOR, "THE INDEPENDENT": What we will see, I think, is initially these rules applied only to transatlantic flights. They could gradually be expanded.

But we're also going to see faster moves towards the complete body scanner. That enables security staff to look at the whole person to see if they have, by any chance, any kinds of explosive devices either strapped to their body, or -- and this is what really worries these security professionals -- concealed within their body.

QUEST: And Schiphol Airport is first out of the gate to move from voluntary to mandatory full-body screenings for transatlantic flights with its 15 millimeter wave scanners. Schiphol currently has three automated scanners, requiring no manned operators. The remaining 12 will switch from manned to fully automated operations within the next three weeks, thus helping to solve the privacy question.

Manchester Airport in the U.K. has been trialing body x-ray scanners since October, the same kind already in use at airports in the U.S. and at Ben Gurion in Israel.

Like it or not, this is the future: technological advances to increase airport security and safeguard passengers. But there's more. Nemesysco, based in Israel has developed a new profiling device using voice analysis; essentially, a lie detector.

The company's founder, Amir Liberman, believes terrorist intentions can be detected with a few simple questions requiring yes or no answers. Liberman is convinced the technology would have been able to single out Umar Abdulmutallab.

This is about identifying the terrorist, not what he or she is carrying under their clothes.

AMIR LIBERMAN, NEMESYSCO: What our system can provide is the additional layer that looks inside your soul, so to say; looks for the intentions to cause harm.

Just think about it from -- from their perspective. I am now in the queue, going for a mission. I am very nervous. I am very paranoid. I have this extreme emotional state that I want to succeed, and I fear -- I fear detection. It's a very unique state of mind.

QUEST: For now everyone is going through longer additional checks. Extra rules to reassure and reinforce passenger safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think about that guy who has, like, the leg. How could you prevent that? X-rays, or what do you want? Everyone having a shower before going into the plane? That's crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like honestly it's all a thing about chance. I guess every little thing reassures you psychologically. But it's really all about chance.

QUEST: And it's to avoid leaving things to chance that things are changing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, let's talk about how things are changing. Richard joins me live now.

Richard, you're the man of the world, the world traveler. What have you seen differently recently in your travels?

QUEST: It's not so much what's different in terms of -- because there's always been the ability to search. Kyra, it's the size and scale of the operation.

We're not back to what -- we are back to a situation where everybody getting on a transatlantic flight, the last point of departure, is now being patted down.

Now, to their credit, the airports have done a stunningly good job. Delays are only about an hour, an hour and a half and getting less. But the future is, without doubt, that there will be more pat- downs. There will be more single -- and I think for regular business travelers, they're going to find they're going to perhaps be slightly dismayed when they're not allowed to take their carry-on, their briefcase, their purse and Uncle Tom (ph) coffee and all. It's going to be one bag to be searched, and you're going to be patted down.

PHILLIPS: Now aren't body scans an issue for the European Union? I mean, we did receive a statement from the BAA. And it says the introduction of the full-body scanners would actually require a change in the European legislation. The European Commission is actually meeting member states next week. And we're going to watch the outcome of those discussions closely and respond accordingly.

That's what they have said with regard to what has been the issue of the law.

QUEST: The only word I can say, having looked at this now for four or five days and spoken to authorities, is there is confusion. The Europeans say there is absolutely no reason why individual countries cannot introduce the scanners, which is exactly what the Netherlands has done today. So I'm bewildered and betwixt (ph) as to why some people are saying there still needs to be, if you like, a European regulation. It doesn't make sense to me.

What I think is happening, Kyra, and if you'll allow me to move into a little bit of speculation, I think a lot of countries and a lot of airports have hoped for a fig leaf of regulation. They've hoped somebody else was going to carry the can for enforcing this. Because there are real privacy concerns. But the truth of the matter is tonight, they are very firmly on the back burner.

Those body scanners are arriving at airports. There will be more of them. And, frankly, they will be coming sooner, rather than later.

PHILLIPS: Well, and now there's this talk about having these chemical trace detectors in all the airports around the world, as well. What have you heard about that? What's your take on that?

QUEST: Well -- well, you know, you've got to judge between time it takes. The so-called puffer machines, they're the ones where you stood. It went "Shhh," and it fired a bit of air at you, which was then read by detectors and filters. They actually took between 15, 20, sometimes longer seconds.

And they're not -- they were very reliable at detecting, but they were extremely complicated machines. And people had to walk into cubicles. It wasn't the most effective way.

They're still around. But probably the future, the future really rests in a variety of these machines. We're all still going to go through the metal detector. There may be some that will then have the puffer machines with the air. Some will go to body scanners. And I think it is -- and then, of course, ultimately, there's the right to pat down.

But I think what will -- for travelers, you'll never really know which experience you're going to get until you get there, and that, perhaps is ultimately the best safeguard to keep terrorists, if you like, off beam (ph).

PHILLIPS: And that doesn't even include all the new technology that's been presented in the past year and what we're going to see coming up in the new year.

QUEST: Just to briefly say, I mean, you're absolutely correct. And don't discount, Kyra, the -- what I call the allow (ph) method of security. Where you question people: Where are you going? Who are you seeing? What -- that personal intervention. Now, it's not realistic globally, because, you know, in terms of the sheer numbers. But that profiling is going to be very much on the cards as well next year.

PHILLIPS: That's true. I mean, it's amazing what you can figure out about somebody when you look them straight in the eye and watch their palms sweat.

Richard Quest, thanks so much. Always great to talk to you.

We want to get your thoughts now. Which airport security measures would you favor and why? Body scans, pat downs, swabs, K-9s, all or none? Tweet us at KyraCNN. And I'll share them in just a bit.

Cold and snow. More of it today in parts of the country. And removing it from streets and highways is getting to be a costly burden for a lot of places. We'll take you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, looks like Texas Tech, the Red Raiders, will not have their head coach for the Alamo Bowl as it takes on Michigan State this Saturday. Word is out now that Mike Leach has been fired as the head football coach there at Texas Tech.

Apparently, the school handed down that termination letter to his attorney today just before the two sides were to appear in Lubbock, Texas, in a courtroom for the hearing on the coach's suspension.

Just to give you a little background, as you may remember, receiver Adam James had come forward and alleged that Leach twice confined him to a small, dark space during practice after the player was diagnosed with a concussion.

Leach was suspended after that by the university, actually, on Monday, while the school continued to investigate the allegations that he might have mistreated this injured player. Now we're getting word that Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach has been fired.

All right. It's December in Vermont. That means it's cold. But this cold? The temps have been pretty brutal. Trucks actually -- that were supposed to spread the salt and sand are completely useless. It's just too cold for the salt to actually melt the ice. And the wind is blowing the sand off the roads.

And then in Indiana the drivers seem to be a bit jolly this week. Maybe it's the special vodka cocktail that's being used to melt the snow and ice there. That's right. I said vodka. You're taking a look at the mix here. Actually, it's the leftovers after the distilling process. The product is called magic salt. It actually works at 35 degrees below zero.

I don't know if you'd want to drink it, though, Karen Maginnis. You know, as desperate as you may be, as cold as it may be, as much as you like vodka.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You'd have to be pretty desperate to do that.

PHILLIPS: Yes, you would.

MAGINNIS: I think so, yes. It looks like it would be a mess afterwards to kind of clean that up. I guess you do the best you can with those roads, as messy as they are.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: All right. Karen, thanks.

If those sub-zero temperatures across much of the country aren't giving you a headache enough, well, take a listen to this. Getting to work on a snowy day could soon become substantially harder, thanks to some serious budget problems facing state and local governments.

Let's get that part of the story now from Alison Kosik in New York.

What can you tell us, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kyra, when it comes right down to it, many of the services we depend on come from state and local governments. I'm talking about everything from public schools to snow removal. And that snow is making the budget problems even worse in many areas.

The storms that have hit the Midwest and East Coast in the last couple of weeks resulted in huge snow removal bills, leaving officials scrambling to figure out how they're going to afford to clear the roads later in the season.

Now there's an article in the "Wall Street Journal" showing that Maryland's State Highway Administration has already spent more than $27 million just this year on snow removal. But the agency's annual budget for that is just $26 million.

Virginia has similar problems. But because snowplowing is such a huge issue for many voters there, state officials are refusing to cut back on that service. The "Journal" reports that the state DOT has stopped mowing and picking up litter, closed highway rest stops and laid off 450 employees.

But when it comes to easing up on that snow removal, unh-uh. It's a no go, Kyra. They won't do away with that.

PHILLIPS: All right. Well, that's good, Alison. Thanks.

KOSIK: Sure.

PHILLIPS: At what point does a child become a radical? We're going to look at the hometown of the suspect in the airline bomb attempt to try and figure out some more clues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Top stories now.

An all clear in Times Square after a bit of a security scare. Police blocked off a section of the famous square and evacuated some buildings after a suspicious van was spotted there. That van is believed to have been in the area for about a day or two.

Blistering comments from Dick Cheney aimed at President Obama. He says that President Obama's reaction to the botched terrorist attack on Christmas day is proof the president, quote, "is trying to pretend we are not at war." The former vice president also describes President Obama's approach to the incident as low key.

In Somalia, word that a potential terror attack on a jetliner may have been averted last month. Authorities say that a man tried to board to fly to Mogadishu with chemicals, liquid, and a syringe. He was arrested by African peacekeeping troops before that flight even took off. The flight's final destination was Dubai.

African Union authorities think that there is a link between the Somali and Detroit incidents. Detroit suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab grew up in Africa. And as a child he gave little indication that he'd be a terror suspect in his early 20s. But his Nigerian hometown is fraught with religious tensions and no stranger to violence.

CNN's Christian Purefoy paid a visit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the small mosque once attended by Umar Abdulmutallab, the man who allegedly tried to let off a bomb on board the Detroit flight on Christmas day.

The last time Abdulmutallab came here to pray, his neighbors say, was in August this year, just before he went to Yemen. Everyone here is shocked that he is now the center of a global terrorist alert.

(on camera) Was he a devout Muslim?

(voice-over) "He would be the first to prayers and the last to leave," says the local imam. "But he didn't mingle. He liked isolation."

At the prestigious local school he attended, which does not even teach religion, this son of a wealthy Nigerian banker is remembered as well behaved and popular with his classmates.

(on camera) So he mixed with children from all backgrounds here, Christian, Muslim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, that's right. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, other religions. Because we have other nationals here in Nigeria in the schools.

PUREFOY: Do you have Americans in this school?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we have Americans. There were all decent (ph) Americans.

PUREFOY (voice-over): But outside the school, there was violence on the streets.

(on camera) The city of Kaduna sits on one of the longest religious fault lines in the world, separating a Christian sub-Saharan Africa and a Muslim Northern Africa.

In 2000, nearly 1,000 people were killed in Kaduna after religious riots.

And in 2002, thousands were displaced after the Miss World competition was to be held here. It was canceled after tens of mosques and churches were burned.

Growing up in Kaduna, Abdulmutallab was certainly no stranger to religious violence.

(voice-over) Nobody in Kaduna that I met publicly supports Abdulmutallab's actions. But he is certainly not alone in his resentment against the West.

"The West promotes immoral values," says this trader.

"It's wrong for the West to support the Israelis to kill Muslims," says another.

Extremism is not taught here, insists Imam Dumawa. There is no attempt to justify suicide attacks. Abdulmutallab must have learned his radical ideas in his studies abroad, he says.

But he warns many similar young men from wealthy families studying in the Middle East are often returning with dangerous ideas.

"There are sects abroad that are trying to trap and brainwash our children," the imam says.

The question that concerns many in Kaduna now is whether Abdulmutallab may not be the last young Nigerian to fall prey to radical and violent ideology.

Christian Purefoy, CNN, Kaduna, Nigeria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Their son lost his life serving in Iraq. And once hers is over she wants to keep him company for eternity. Only problem, the V.A. is saying no way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A woman who had eight kids at once, the sudden death of a famous actress, and a pandemic that sent waves of panic around the globe -- they're just some of the medical stories that dominated the headlines this year. A recap now from CNN's Erica Hill and chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERIC HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, this first one is, while some people may want to forget it, really impossible to forget. Nadya Suleman, also known as the Octomom, we see her here in this photo from TMZ while still pregnant with eight babies. She delivered them in late January, but what followed was, of course, a hailstorm of controversy that didn't just happen among us civilians. There were plenty of people in the medical community who found this just ridiculous and insane on so many levels.

Why was it so controversial?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and the ethics of this was being debated, still being debated in many ways. It really sort of, I think, in many ways showed how many lax laws there are when it comes to exactly what we're talking about here.

At issue is you have a 33-year-old woman who is getting IVF, in vitro fertilization. That's when they take fertilized eggs and they implant them in a woman's uterus. In Nadya's case, it was actually six eggs that were implanted and this is still being debated in many ways. There is even one state that has introduced a bill to try and prevent this from happening again. You have any idea what that's called?

HILL: No, no. There's an actual bill for this? I had no idea.

GUPTA: It's called the Octomom bill. I think the attitude toward it will become a little bit more stringent and maybe even some bills within organized medicine and outside as well.

HILL: Let's move on now to actress Natasha Richardson. A tragic death in March. She had a head injury, she fell on the ski slope. I know you covered this story very closely, Sanjay, actually went up to Canada to retrace her steps.

What did you find out in this story and what did it teach us?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I was really fascinated by this, certainly as a neurosurgeon, but also trying to figure out how someone like this, Natasha Richardson, is cared for in this situation.

What happens is she's on a slope, she falls and hits her head. Sounds like she fell just from being on a bunny hill, so it wasn't some sort of dramatic fall. And that could have been the first problem in the sense that no one really took it that seriously, including her.

She had what's known as an epidural hematoma. You don't need to remember that name, but basically it means that blood was collecting between her brain and her skull. And that can happen in people who have what seem like rather innocuous falls. But they almost always have this period where they're knocked out, then they wake up and seem like they're fine. That's called a lucid interval and it's something that doctors are sort of trained to look for. That could be a key warning sign.

HILL: In April of this year, the beginning of a pandemic, of course. Now it's the H1N1 virus. It started carving a deadly path in Mexico. You were right there on the scene following this as a story was unfolding for swine flu. And, of course, we're still talking about it now, Sanjay. GUPTA: You know, I will remember this, I think, as long as I'm a journalist, maybe as long as I live.

We were hearing in April about this deadly virus that was sweeping through Mexico. And some of the numbers that we were hearing were pretty staggering, I mean, 70 percent -- up to 70 percent mortality rate, meaning seven out of the ten people contracting this were dying. We were also hearing a lot of these people were in the prime of their lives, 20s, 30s and 40s as opposed to what we normally hear about with seasonal flu, which is young people and older people the most affected.

They predicted half the country would become infected. They predicted it would sweep the world. And it has become a prevalent virus but not nearly as deadly as people thought which was obviously good news.

HILL: One of those controversial stories this year actually happened just recently, those recommendations from a government panel about women no longer needing routine mammograms starting at the age of 40. Talk about backlash and a firestorm over this one, Sanjay. This is one I imagine, too, we could still be talking about into 2010.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, you know, this task force essentially made a recommendation that women between the ages of 40 and 49 no longer needed routine mammograms. That was sort of the language. The backlash as you mentioned started almost immediately. The Department of Health and Human Services was backtracking from this within a day. So it was clear that people were, A, confused by this; and, B, very concerned about the impact this might have.

The hard part, I think as a journalist and also a doctor, was this idea that somehow you were placing a value on X-number of mammograms and was it worth to get those mammograms to save someone's life. I do think that an important point was brought up about this. And that is that a task force makes recommendations about women not getting these routine mammograms, and insurance companies may follow suit and say, well, if they're not recommended, should we pay for them? And for women, 30 percent of women who should get mammograms already don't get them, this could be another reason why they don't. And so I think there was a lot of confluence of factors there.

HILL: That was, I think, a lot of the outrage. Especially, because, of course, this comes up as we're in the middle of talking about health care reform.

Sanjay, I have a feeling 2010 just may be equally as busy for you.

GUPTA: I'll be right there with you.

HILL: All right, Sanjay, thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: We've got some breaking news on the alleged bomb attack that happened on Christmas Day. Jeanne Meserve working these new details for us.

Jeanne, what do you have?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, we have been told that on Christmas Day in the immediate aftermath of the attempted hijacking, not all of the airline pilots who were in the air flying were notified of what had happened at the Detroit airport. They were -- according to the Allied Pilots Association which represents about 11,000 American airline pilots and other aviation sources, the only pilots who were notified were those who were flying into the U.S. across the Atlantic.

Let me read you a quote here, "The TSA should have mandated that information about this security event be passed on to all airborne flights. Instead, TSA specifically directed airlines to implement security measures for inbound transatlantic flights. Not for flights coming in over the Pacific. Not for flights coming in from the Caribbean. Not for domestic flights here in the U.S."

Now, contrast this with what Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Sunday morning about how things had worked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: One thing I'd like to point out 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 to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight.

We instituted new measures on the ground and screening measures both here in the United States and in Europe where this flight originated. So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly and correctly and effectively went very smoothly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: Now, the Allied Pilots Association says it believes that every pilot in the air and those who were about to take off should have been notified at what the situation was so they could take the appropriate measures on board their flights and be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

They point out that al Qaeda's history was that it attacked in multiple times, that more than one flight might be at risk. Look at 9/11 where actually you saw demonstrated that time and notification could be of the essence. Because Flight 93 knew what was happening, the crew and the people on that flight had some sense of what to do when things started erupting on that flight.

So the Allied Pilots Association says this, "Clearly, we have seen a large-scale communications breakdown concerning this terrorist event. It is essential in times like these that we act swiftly to ensure our crews are prepared t thwart any terrorist attack." We have been in touch with the TSA to ask them for an explanation of what happened. They referred us to the FAA; the FAA said securities decisions like this are the responsibility of the TSA. We've been back in touch with the TSA; we have yet to get a response from them. We'll be waiting for it to see what they have to say -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, let us know. Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, thanks for that.

Her son lost his life serving in Iraq and once hers is over she wants to keep him company for eternity. Only problem? The VA is saying no way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Top stories now.

Could body scanners like these prevent another terror attempt on an international flight headed to the U.S.? Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport says it will begin using them next month to check all passengers heading to the States. That Northwest flight was almost blown up on Christmas Day, it came from Amsterdam.

Tens of thousands of protesters return to the streets across Iran today, but these demonstrators showing support for the country's hard line government. Some protesters called for the execution of opposition leaders, others held up signs promising to sacrifice their blood for their Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

Well a standoff between two media giants could wind up costing you. FOX's parent company News Corps wants Time Warner Cable to pay higher fees. If they don't, you could miss out on seeing shows like "American Idol," "The Simpsons," even the NFL playoff games. The current contract is set to expire at midnight on New Year's Eve.

When specialist Corey Shay was killed in Iraq last year, he was just 21 years old, single, no kids. Only his mom to mourn him. She buried him in a veteran cemetery then sought a waiver from the VA so when her time is up she can be with him again, forever. The request? Denied. Seems you can only get a waiver once you're dead.

Well, Denise Anderson is fighting to change that policy and two lawmakers are pushing a bill as well to help her in her battle. Denise joins us live from our Boston bureau.

Denise, tell us about Corey, the son, the soldier. He was quite a young man.

DENISE ANDERSON, MOTHER: He was. He was a very big-hearted soul.

He was 21. When he came home from leave, he even took time off of his busy schedule coming home, because he only had a certain amount of time to spend at home. He went to his school and gave a speech at his school. He'd do anything for anyone. Never said no to anyone. Did his duty over in Iraq. And I even spoke with his lieutenant over there who said Corey was one of the most outstanding soldiers that he's ever met. He had a big heart, big as the world. And if anybody knew him, they would know what kind of person that he was.

PHILLIPS: So, Denise, tell us what happened November 12th, 2008.

ANDERSON: Corey was in a compound area, full uniform, and his lieutenant was in speaking with Iraqi officials. And an Iraqi soldier came in and Corey and his troop was standing around just guarding the area. All of a sudden the Iraqi soldier just started firing and Corey was the first one to get shot. He had three head shots and three body shots. I was told he got killed instantly. Another soldier passed away also and six other United States soldiers were wounded before they could take down the Iraqi soldier.

PHILLIPS: How did you get the news, Denise, that your son had been killed?

ANDERSON: By my daughter. I wasn't home at the time, and the United States Army were parked out front of my home. I got a call from my daughter. She was in hysterics. And I came home, and then I became hysterical.

And then the police showed up and the fire engine showed up and everything, and it was just chaotic. It was chaotic. But knowing that my daughter had to hear that first really hurt.

PHILLIPS: Wow. Does it ever get any easier, day by day?

ANDERSON: No, it doesn't. It doesn't get easier.

And I just want to tell the people out there that I'm not doing this for attention. I'm doing this for my son. No mother wants to see their son buried alone. I want -- that's why I want to be with him. He wasn't old enough to be married, to have children. That's why I want to be with my son.

PHILLIPS: We pointed out that you did seek a waiver to be buried with him, but under the VA's policy, you actually have to die before you can go for a waiver like that. It's got to be somebody else that does it for you, like your daughter or someone of that sort.

We did get a statement from the VA, and I want to go ahead and read that. "The VA empathizes with Ms. Anderson and all the parents who want to be interred with their veteran son or daughter. The VA's primary mission is to serve the needs of our nation's veterans. The Department has and will continue to consider all requests by parents to be interred with their children. The VA works hard to balance these requests with the need of preserving sufficient burial space in our national cemeteries for veterans."

Is that enough for you right now?

ANDERSON: Not, it's not enough for me. They interred my son in a deeper debt. I am not taking up any space from any other deserving veteran. And I respect all veterans, and every veteran that I come up with I shake their hand and thank them for their service, especially after my son joined the Army.

It's not enough. Because I need to know if I can be buried with my son so I can move on with my life, my daughter and my husband. I just need that peace -- peace of mind, just knowing that I can be buried with him so I know that he's not alone for eternity.

PHILLIPS: We will follow the outcome of what happens with the Corey Shay Act. It's a bill that would allow the burial privileges for moms like you, and Senators Kerry and Representative Barney Frank both pushing for that bill. We'll follow up.

Denise, thanks so much for talking with us.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

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PHILLIPS: New Hampshire police investigating what maybe the nation's first case of gastrointestinal anthrax. One woman is in critical condition. The CDC is conducts tests on spores that were found in a ministry building near the University of New Hampshire. State health officials are trying to track down dozens of people who attended a drumming event at the building. It's unclear whether the spores were pushed into the air by vigorous drumming.

Pushing forward on what might be terrorism's new frontier. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen -- that's how a retired federal agent rates the risks. We'll get his view of the country at the top of the hour.

Plus, preventing attacks versus privacy rights. Body scan technologies taking off at airports just days after Detroit. What do you think about it? And what security measures do you want to see pre-flight? We will check out the tweets.

Well, the church does not recognize him, but his cyber fans sure do. Jesus Malverde -- not to be confused with Jesus -- was a infamous criminal who some consider the Mexican Robin Hood. Drug traffickers also consider this guy their patron saint. So if you are old school, you can visit shrines to him around Mexico or if you are more hip, you can logon to the Facebook fan page and just leave a message. Here is one post, "Oh powerful Malverde, protect us from the feds and don't let the cops grab us with more than 5 grams of pot..." Not quite the lord's prayer.

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PHILLIPS: After more than two years in captivity in Iraq, freedom for a British man. Peter Moore is undergoing medical tests after his release in Baghdad. Moore, is a computer expert was one of the five British men seized by militants in May 2007. The kidnappers later killed three of the men and released their bodies; the fourth captive is also believed to be dead. It is a glimmer of hope for the family of a American missionary believed held in the country of North Korea. The government has admitting they are detaining an American citizen. Robert Park is a Korean-American from Arizona with a passion for helping those in need.

Our Mary Snow has the latest now on his family's efforts to free him.

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MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea's news agency did not identify the American citizen it is holding, but the family of 28-year-old Robert Park believes it is him and said in a statement they are now working with the State Department and members of Congress.

Park is a Christian missionary who had been working in South Korea. And friends say he was focused on the plight of people in North Korea. In recent days, his parents told San Diego's CNN affiliate KFMB their son had indicated he willing to risk his life for his missionary work.

PYONG PARK, FATHER OF ROBERT PARK: He said: "I am not afraid to die. As long as whole world, all -- every nation pay attention to North Korea's situation, my death is nothing." That is what he said.

SNOW: A South Korean Christian group reported that Park entered North Korea last week country with a letter to Kim Jong Il. The State Department has not confirmed that report.

Here in the U.S., some friends got e-mails from Park with copies of the letter to North Korea's leader. In it, he says he has a message of Christ's love and forgiveness and asks to please open up your borders and close down all concentration camps.

John Benson ordained Park in Tucson, Arizona, in 2007. He says he last spoke with Park six weeks ago.

JOHN BENSON, FRIEND OF ROBERT PARK: He also told me that there was something going on in the works, but he didn't get into any details, you know, and that there was a possibility is the way he said it, there was a possibility that he may go into North Korea. And, you know, of course, that is -- it's alarming.

SNOW: And while friends offer prayers, one expressed a bit of a relief that North Korea announced it was holding a U.S. citizen.

DOUG MARTIN, FRIEND OF ROBERT PARK: The fact that they have acknowledged that they have someone is a good thing, because I think generally they would not acknowledge someone if they were going to kill them. But what the North does with him, who knows.

SNOW: Earlier this year, two American journalists faced a sentence of 12 years of hard labor after being arrested along the North Korean-Chinese border. They said they accidentally strayed into North Korea, but were later released after former President Bill Clinton met with Kim Jong Il.

(on camera): The State Department did not release a name, but a spokesman for the State Department says the U.S. will continue to work through the Swedish embassy, which handles diplomatic issues for the U.S. with Pyongyang to seek consular access to the U.S. citizen being held.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

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