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tv   Larry King Live  CNN  December 28, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EST

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not a scare in the air. same flight from amsterdam to detroit. disrupted and attacked on christmas day. what sparked the security alert this time? and then controversial remarks from the homeland security. >> everybody is traveling today. if you get past security.
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>> larry: the airlines flight that was the target on christmas day, the security scare today. and larry, it's the dramatic de ja vu that be began shortly afternoon. there's word inbound coming to detroit, where on board the pilots have declared and it
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revealed. and coming from the same city of or wry jin, amsterdam, and discovered the flight. and and eventually federal authorities revealed that it was a passenger and without this dramatically different and passengers were called off. but it shows you, larry, that two days after the attack, the
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nerves are high and and it turns out and going back and forth and fairly innocent and in 250u today's modern world nick robinson, you're in london where the suspect and and very, very devout and a trusting point that the teacher told you about. and students in the classroom
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told apart from the taliban and raised eyebrows and came on the air to london. the student after three years of studying here, very concerned that he's getting radicalized. his parents worried about people. he was meeting here who were bad people, they believe, and information today, we're learning here, media reports that we track down and reports and in the past year and was turned down the british home office won't confirm or deny this report. they won't knock it down and it seems to be a picture emerging here. his teacher had concerns about it. his family had concerns about it. officials had concerns about him. so while police are still investigating the apartment that he lived in here for three
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years, we learned from the security services in britain, trying to make sure friends that might be perp operating similar terror attacks. this department goes on. but the picture of a man who was getting more and more emerging here, larry. >> martin, i understand that the government wants to get a dna sample of the suspect. why? >> we are not exactly clear on that, larry. they are going to be in court tomorrow making that specific request, asking if they can get a dna sample from the 23-year-old. why they want it, we don't know. perhaps we'll get an answer to that. >> larry: cheas ts situation at the airport in london, nick? has it doubled? and with the delays and
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traveling to the united states and you can certainly expect that process, larry, and, of course, the security at these airport security officials, very, very concerned and now have another set of possibilities that they have to deal with perhaps the possibility again wearing some kind of garmin that may have some kind of explosives and and and and passengers on board.
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and and remaining 2:53 and get up and in an emergency could be escorted for laboratory and larry, these days. >> former governor watch us tomorrow night. how people are reacting.
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that's next.
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>> larry: on the phone from ottowa, there's a journalist on the phone what is the reaction
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in nigeria to all of this? >> well, it's shame. what they have done to the country. and the focal point is between her and the father. the father did report that the son is becoming radicalized. and who did this terrible deed. this sort of thing should be dealt with with the nigerian family and looking towards the
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father as a way forward, larry. >> many of them knew us back there when i was home and in the '90s and his father was very, very sentimental. he cares about the community and his family. you see him everywhere, award shows and different honors. the doctor they call him is a honoree degree. he's a very good man and cares about everything and i consider him a hero because he warned the embassy of the united states. he went to the united states embassy, and i don't know if my kid had a radical idea if i would go to the principal at the school. he was a really good man and was concerned like he is for the community in nigeria.
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>> larry: is he heroic in your country? >> he's well-known in the country. the head of a major bank who is, you know -- you don't find alot of people like that in our country anywhere. we're known for internet fraud and drug trafficking and so many bad things. this is one good guy. >> larry: christian, how was the suspect screened, do we know, at the nigerian airport before going to amsterdam? >> reporter: well, the investigation is continuing. from what the authorities are
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saying, he bought the -- somebody bought the fikt in ghana, and then he boarded the plane on the 24th to go on a flight via amsterdam to detroit. he sneaked back in is the words of the information minister on the 24th to take that flight. so we don't know if he met anyone while here, but he certainly didn't want to get caught by authorities or getting contact with his family, which shows the rift. even though his father by all accounts is a very, very religious man, and as kimmy was saying, the real disparity -- the thing about this is nigeria is a country with 70% of people living under $1 a day, and yet this guy had everything. his father is a very wealthy man. so what is the motive behind this? it's not poverty, larry. >> larry: is the family or the
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father saying anything now? >> reporter: the first thing i spoke to on a condition of am knit at the and the person is very very close to the family. they told me that they're really concerned about his welfare and concerned about all the charges that might be coming because there is a charge of trying to blow up an airline. if anything is coming, they're very, very anxious and they will speak. i mean, when i say they will speak, you know, the father is not in seclusion of any sort. he made a statement to the associated press the other day, and they just are worried. he disowns the family according to this family member and move moved around the word to london
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to egypt to dubai and yemen. >> larry: what is the white house saying? we'll find out in 60 seconds.
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>> larry: as you might imagine is president is keeping up with all of this while in vacation on hawaii. ed henry, what a tough job you have, but somebody has to do it. >> reporter: that's what a always say, larry. it's a tough job on the beach. they're saying today -- obviously, you know, they were very concerned initially, and what was happening behind the scenes is quite fascinating because initially reporters were calling the white house has the scene played out in detroit. some saying we hear there's a northwest flight that is having some trouble, could be a terror incident. others call reporters say we hear there's a delta flight having a terror scare. initially the white house thought there were two planes
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having a problem. it turned out that delta and northwestern in the process of merging there was only one flight. it was apparently a sick passenger. so all they did was get the president once they established the facts, they gave the president a secure briefing. he understood that it really wasn't a major scare, and they moved on. we hear the president in the next couple of days may for the first time address publicly the terror incident on christmas day. he's not said anything. he's been under pressure from republicans to address the public and reassure them the public is safety. they put the homeland security secretary out there, but now they say the president early part of this week might have something to say about it to reassure the public as well, larry. >> larry: ed, is he enjoying this vacation? >> reporter: we hear from his aitds he's getting a lot of family time despite the briefings as well. it's part of the job. it's 24/7. today he got a chance to go to a private beach area with his wife, his kids, some family and friends. so he's mixing a little bit of
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work with pleasure. this is a very serious story and they're treating it seriously, but he's had a long year and trying to give him family time as well, larry. >> larry: was he asked to comment about the statements made today about janet napolitano, the homeland security secretary saying that the response worked in connection with the incident? >> reporter: he hasn't been asked because we haven't got close to them yet. yesterday he was playing golf. they didn't let the division cameras near that. critics say they don't want pictures of the president golfing while this is playing out. today on the beach we couldn't get tv cameras near him as well. he wants some privacy. if he makes the statement in the next couple of days, we'll be shouting questions to get a reaction. janet napolitano raised questions when she said on cnn today that everything worked well. she was he referring in fairness to the fact everything worked well with the crew and passengers aboard that flight once this played out, certainly a lot of people wonder before that played oit, out, conversations this man allowed on the flight let alone with the explosives.
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the administration is facing a lot of tough questions, laurie. >> larry: that's ed henry. the passenger whose sickness triggered today's alert and police response at the detroit airport has been released from the custody of the customs border patrol and joint terrorism task force. he was making a connection through detroit and was allowed to continue to an unspecified destination. his name is not released. what's the latest travel guidance from the tsa with heightened security measures in place. we'll give you tips on our blog and we'll show you what's happening at airports around the country. we'll do that next. >> larry: let's discuss airport security. we'll check in with detroit. let's go to the l.a. international airport at the tom bradley international terminal at l.a.x. he was making a connection through detroit and allowed to continue through an unspecified destination. what's the latest travel guidance from tsa? give me some tips at our blog at we'll show what you is happening around airports around the country and we'll do that next. ? does your phone do searches for "human" on the web,
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>> larry: let's discuss airport security. we'll check in with detroit. let's go to the l.a. international airport at the tom bradley international terminal at lax. cara finnstrom is there reporting for cnn. what's the security measures like at lax? >> reporter: well, larry, as you can see, huge crowds. this big crowd behind me, the line stretches out the door and down to the next terminal. these folks are having an extra wait today.
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this is normal during the holidays. when you pair it with all the extra screenings, these people have to wait a little longer. look behind me here, larry. you see these huge boxes. international travelers toting big pieces of luggage and big boxes of gifts to take home. i spoke with one woman going home to the philippines tonight, and she brought six large boxes. she says she just got her two hours earlier than she had planned because she wanted to make sure she got it all through screening. a couple other notes, larry. the international travelers see their luggage and carry-ons go through x-ray machines a couple of times, and also go through more of the personal hand checks. so additional screenings of the luggage, and they tell us through the security checkpoints they'ring seeing more of the pat-downs of passengers. >> larry: thanks, cara. robert is chief executive officer for wayne county, michigan. what did we learn from the events of christmas day, robert?
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>> at this point there's definitely a heightened awareness. you saw from the flight today, larry, that people are taking and the airlines are taking all sorts of precautions. the individual in the bathroom was not responding to directions or commands from the flight staff. as soon as the plane landed it was segregated and they checked all the passengers and luggage, and the individual was taken into custody. >> larry: martin, how are peach reacting to this long delay? are they bracing in or a little ticked? >> reporter: i think a lot of people are willing to put up with delay if it means they gain extra security and be safer in the air. as much as people might not like standing in line or the prospect of not making a flight, the alternative is there could be an attack or threat to their safety. as we found in many, many cases previous, passengers are willing to put up with a lot when you're talking about the issue of security. also, we should point out that the person involved with the scare that took place this afternoon has now been released by authorities.
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that would be a clear indication there was no crime. but as we say here, people are really putting up with a lot. they aren't complaining and know what's at stake. >> larry: robert, the airport is under your jurisdiction, is it not? if so, how are you involved in these increased measures? >> well, the airport police work with -- we work well with federal officials and the fbi and customs and all the rest of the federal agencies here. it's a coordinated effort. with something like an incident that just happened, many times or police are the first ones that arrive the on the scene, especially a plane and board it. we try to coordinate with the federal officials and work together very, very well. >> larry: what are you saying, robert, to passengers arriving at the airport? >> well, at this point there might be a little bit of a delay in terms of there's going to be obviously especially international flights you have
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customs inspections and they make sure that the inspections are going to happen and might be a little bit delayed. people are willing to go through that, and i think that we don't really hear a lot of complaining or anything like that. the old adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. people are willing to go through the delays and are willing to let that happen right now. >> larry: are they willing at lax, too? are they acting well in view of this? >> reporter: yeah. you know, larry, there are huge crowds here, but it's been very calm and orderly. you can take a look at these crowds. once in a while we've heard someone shouting across the room to maybe a family member, and that's been it. it's been very calm. we haven't heard any frustration, and as we talked with travelers, that was the sentiment echoed. it is a little inconvenient and we had to plan to get here a little bit earlier, about the we're glad to know that all these extra security measures
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are taken and we feel safer because of that. >> larry: thanks to all of you. by the way, with the latest travel guidance from tsa now, you can get details at our blog what exactly did the homeland security secretary say that caused such a bit of a dust-up? you'll hear for yourself. is it nothing, or is it more important than that? it's all next. ... gecko: good driver discounts. now that's the stuff...? boss: how 'bout this? gecko: ...they're the bee's knees? boss: or this? gecko: sir, how 'bout just "fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance." boss: ha, yeah, good luck with that catching on! anncr: geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.
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>> larry: our subject for the next half hour is terror. tom fuentes was assistant director of the fbi he's office of international operations from 2004 through 2008. he's a contributor for cnn. back with us here in l.a. is harry humphries, counterterrorism expert and founder of the global studies
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group and former navy s.e.a.l. in new york harvey custom ner. finally in washington jack rice. now is a practicing toernl and journalist as well. janet napolitano was interviewed earlier on cnn's "state of the union." this was her bottom line. watch. >> 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
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take some special measures in a lot of what had occurred on the northwest airlines flight. we instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas both here in the united states and in europe where this flight originated. so the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectually went very smoothly. >> larry: tom, has she been taken out of context a little here? >> well, i think possibly, larry. you know, she's referring to what happened after the individual started the fire, and the response that was made on the aircraft by flight crew, by the passengers, by the authorities once the plane touched down. in fairness, yes, that's true in the aftermath or during and after the situation, everyone acted very well and helped solve the problem. the other issue of how that material got on the airplane in the first plane is a separate issue. >> larry: would that have been her responsibility, since it didn't occur here, harry? >> no. i think that this is an
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international obligation. all countries that are involved in international transport have their own specific obligations within their own borders. the secretary was definitely taken out of context. she definitely was referring to the same thing i always referred to, an aware-flying public taking charge. this is the greatest defense working for us right now. >> larry: if that had gone off, what would have happened? >> if it was initiated high water, the aircraft would have been destroyed instantly. >> larry: and everybody killed? >> absolutely. >> larry: what's your read on this whole thing, harvey? >> i agree with what partially was said before. i think she was referring in part to what happened on a plane, larry, and then what happened after. quite frankly to say that the system worked when everybody was watching that it didn't work because this guy got on the plane, there was a breakdown in communications in terms of intelligence that we had on him. after all, his father made a call. what happened to that
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information, larry? why wasn't that used? he paid cash for a ticket. he had no checked-in luggage. he had all the signs there something should have been done, and quite frankly we're responsible for what happens here but what happens over there when they come into the united states. those are the agreements we have to have with foreign nations na fly into this country. we live in a dangerous neighborhood, and our people are at risk. so i don't think the system really worked in its entirety. certainly the passengers did. larry, do we really want that homeland security is going to be in the hands of passengers on the plane or public citizens? it's it incumbent for our government to take matters into our own hands? >> larry: jack rice, what do you think when the action is happening on the plane? what's supposed to happen?
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>> she would like to rephrase this without question. you think about the problems that we have as harvey just described. i mean, when you find out that a father makes a suggestion. when you have somebody on a watch list, when you have somebody who pays cash in a third country in ghana and then goes through nigeria up through amsterdam, all of these are questions that should have at least raised some flags. the problem is when she turns around and says it all worked well, people jump to conclusions and say you can't shine this up. there were fundamentalal mistakes made, and they have addressed. at least big picture we shouldn't lose sight and our minds and assume the world is coming to an end. there are very few incidents like this, and thankfully it ended positively. at least it wasn't as negative as it could have been. >> larry: we'll be right back this panel will be with us the rest of the way. don't go away. and volkswagen even covers scheduled maintenance at no cost. it can't be that easy. [ engine revs ]
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>> larry: we're back with this outstanding panel. tom fuentes would you say with this incident there was luck involved as we look at airport as cross the country and monitoring them as they handle security on this busy night in america? luck involved, tom? >> i think -- of course. the device didn't explode and the plane didn't crash and the people didn't die. that's a lucky break, because the materials to do it were on board and it could have happened. >> larry: harry, you agree it could have happened? >> absolutely. because of the positioning of the detonator relative to the base explosive, we were very fortunate in that it did not detonate high order.
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>> larry: harvey, are things getting worse? >> larry, i can't say they're getting better but i don't think they're getting better. we're facing a new kind of terror threat than we did prior to 2001. al qaeda has morphed into a very loose, configured group of individuals. we don't know yet how this is going to play out, whether or not we had a he direct link to al qaeda, whether he was trained by al qaeda. that needs to be seen. but larry, it's much more difficult when you have people all over the world carrying passports from 50, 60 different nations that want to do us harm. this is a monumental task for law enforcement both on the state, local, and federal level. it speaks to the issue when his father made the call. when a worked for a federal agency gathering intelligence, we had 22 people we were watching and we were able to sit on 22 people 24/7.
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when you have 500,000 names on a list, larry, and you get tens of thousands of tips, pieces of information, how duo officially check out each one? that's the problem that will bite us in the butt. >> larry: jack rice, that seems insurmountable. >> part of the problem is we don't have exclusive authority and oversight of everything we're going through. let me give you within example. i flew out of kabul, afghanistan a week and a half ago. from there i was in delhi and dubai to washington, d.c. how much oversight do you think homeland security has or the president has when it comes to these issues? we're dependent on a lot of different people. we still shouldn't lose sight of exactly how many flights are going out. over the last ten years the bureau of transportation estimates about 99 million flights that have touched the
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united states, sort of coming and going over the last tennessee years. only six are tied to terrorism-related issues, four from 9/11, richard reid was one of them and this one. if you think about it statistically the chances are to say unlikely doesn't do it best. the sky is not falling. we need to be careful about that. >> larry: is there a dangerous we're overreacting based on the statistic jack just gave us? >> i think it's lessons learned, and we need to examine at all times if there was a failure. we don't want to say that because the statistics are in our favor that we can't look at the incident and see if anything else can be learned. there's a very good point made there. you have all of these aircraft traveling all over the world like a giant rubik's cube. at some point it touches the united states. what we need is for the relationship in those countries that they do abide by these stringent security that we would try to employ here in the united
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states. that means tsa working in all of those countries around the world to ensure that as much as possible the other countries follow the same security measures that we would like to be -- have in place. >> larry: harry, don't you think we're all in the same boat? >> we certainly are. it's an international issue. each nation must take responsibility for the security of the passengers leaving or coming into their nation. >> larry: one bad link can hurt the whole thing. >> as we saw in nigeria. >> larry: if you have one country that is lax -- >> in this particular case i would say lagos was the weak link in this system. >> larry: there's a hearing in michigan. the federal government will seek a dna sample from the government. for what reason do you think? >> larry, the dna can tell them -- trace where he habben possibly. does he have any other connections. forensic evidence would be
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gathered every place this guy was. does he have a cell phone? check all locations he's talking to. science is a big help for us in the 21st century, and certainly it's going to overcome or these myriad of different links that we have to look at. so, you know, where has he been? who has he met? his apartment, what we gathered there on any computer evidence that we could get, any other kind of leads that this guy has come in contact through over the last month or two. >> jack, what do you make of the yemen connection? >> obviously, it's a big concern. when we think about al qaeda, one of our other guests mentioned this the real problem al qaeda has there's not one ability to say i take out that leader everything changes. these are organizations that sort of work together, and they work together out of convenience sometimes. sometimes they may be somebody who uses the name because it gives them power, the ability to say we're bigger than we really
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are. the really problem we have with yemen is in yemen it's getting worse and worse. this is based upon sources i have here. this has been happening over several years now. you look at the recent attack in saudi arabia. that started in some ways out of yemen, our ability to deal with that country has got more and more difficult. let's face it. it's not just yemen. we can take a look at nigeria, somalia, afghanistan, pakistan. and other places around the world. that is one of the real problems that we have dealing with al qaeda and al qaedaesque organizations. >> larry: those terror watch lists, what do they really mean? we'll discuss that later. we'll be back in 60 seconds. ♪ happy anniversary
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wow! [ grunts ] oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. aah! [ door opens, closes ] wow. what's the occasion? [ male announcer ] relax. pam helps you pull it off. >> larry: as we mentioned earlier, homeland security secretary janet napolitano was interviewed today on cnn's "state of the union." candy pressed the secretary on the efficiency of the databases for screening out potential
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terrorists. watch. >> here's someone who's father came to the u.s. embassy and said i'm worried about his ties and i'm worried he's becoming increasingly militant. he's on a list, but no one looks at him more closely apparently than any other passenger. it seems to me there's all these computer lists and this one has suspected ties and this is the no-fly list. is there a way to merge this information so that he could have popped up some place? >> there's no suggestion that -- he was on what's called a tie heed list, can has half a million plus names on it. there's no suggestion that that was not shared information. the issue was was there enough information to move him to the more specific lists, which would require additional example or indeed being on no-fly status it. to date it does not appear that there was any such information to move him from that tied list which was shared to a more
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specific list that would require different types of screening at the airport. >> not even a father coming in knowing what his son has been up to and reporting this to the u.s. embassy is enough? what puts you on the watch list, if that isn't enough? >> well, indeed, you can -- let's not get into that, because for one thing, we need to ascertain exactly who said what to whom and when. but also you have to understand that you need information that is specific and credible if you're going to actually bar someone from air travel. he was on a general list with over half a mill people and everybody had access to it. there was not the kind of credible information in the sense of derogatory information to move him up that list. one of the things we will be doing over the next weeks is really looking at those watch lists procedures in a lot of
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this occurring and saying, okay, do those need to be changed? they've been in place for a number of of years. do they need to be adjusted in a lot of this event? >> larry: another program reminder, america's first director of homeland security, tom ridge, is our special guest tomorrow night. your calls are next. stick around. #ñ#ñ#ñ#ñññññññ
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and we're being asked about the
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screening process it seems that everything was done that should be done. he was screened in amsterdam and the united states authorities have not sent information back down the line. there has to be a reason. where everyone is being patted down i can tell you flights today from britain to the u.s., some of them left three or four hours late. >> larry: you're familiar with watch lists. can you break down how they work or how they don't work? >> larry, with watch lists we are entering the twilight zone. the fact is 500,000 people on
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one list, tens of thousands on another, and a few thousand on the famous no-fly list. the crucial part is not how you get on them but how you get off them because remember, there are many americans who are on one or other of these lists who are desperate to try and get off them. this is all about a balancing act. and the real problem is the sheer size and scale of the problem.
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in several airports throughout the united states in a voluntary basis, uses what we call a millimeter wave system, which actually looks under the clothing of an individual. so you're looking at a nude body. >> larry: can i turn it down if i don't want it? >> you can turn it down presently. as i said, it's voluntary. you know, in the airports that have the system. >> larry: what do they do if you don't do it? >> well, in a situation where our level is at today, you'll probably get patted down, which is a much slower line. so the full-body scanner, image scanner, would be the quickest way to get through. >> larry: tom, what are we coming to? >> well, we're coming to the age-old question of balancing the privacy of one individual against the general security of the public. and as mentioned with that particular machine, the technology exists to screen passengers to the greatest extent. they get close examination of
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does it have the resources to buy enough machines, to train enough people and hire them to operate those machines? and in this case if you're going tone sure the safety then you're going to have to demand that every passenger goes through it, whether they like it or not, and that it not be just a voluntary system. so are we prepared for that? advil cold & sinus camry received 5 star crash safety ratings. but only malibu has onstar. big deal. i'll just use my phone. let's say we crashed. whoops, your phone's gone. onstar automatic crash response can call to see if you're ok. if you don't answer, they can automatically send help. i think i'll ride with you. now during the chevy red tag event, get an '09 malibu with 0 percent apr for 72 months. see red and save green. now at your local chevy dealer.
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>> larry: you're looking at l.a.x., the los angeles international airport, one of the largest in the united states and one of the busiest.
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that's a live shot on this sunday night. and you're watching a special sunday night edition of "larry king live." let's take a call. atlanta, hello. atlanta, hello. >> caller: yes. mr. king? >> larry: what? >> caller: since his father is a prominent nigerian, reported him to the american authorities, why was he not placed on the no-fly list? >> larry: harvey, why wasn't he immediately placed on the no-fly list as soon as the father reported animal. >> well, as said before by some of our guests, you know, it depends on the information that i think his word should have been looked at much more carefully than other tips that do come in. >> larry: jack, harry was just telling me that our agents sometimes go through practice runs, try to break security. are they often successful?
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>> it has happened multiple times where they are successful. look, i got grabbed when i was on my way in to delhi from afghanistan because i fit the profile of a drug runner. yeah. nice, huh? but the thing they put me off and i sat in a glass cubicle for about 3 1/2 hours. so we need to think about the prospective end of this. think about what happened. we had specific intelligence regarding what the father said, regarding how this was paid for, one-way tickets, all sorts of things. but the problem is our reaction here is we take all of that intelligence and we decide what
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we're going to do is check the underwear from a woman who's flying out of kiokuk, iowa or out of akron, ohio. and his credit card and back into nigeria and they are suspicious and it's true about those flags being added to the mix. >> right now we're going on a one way and the only way and i gather. thank you all very much for outstanding


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