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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

The Making of a Terrorist; Battle on the High Seas Over Whaling; President Obama Breaking Transparency Promise?

Aired January 6, 2010 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: the making of a terrorist.

With charges leveled against the alleged Christmas bomber, we have new inside information, surprising stuff about how quickly top officials now believe this guy was turned into a violent extremist, al Qaeda's new methods of recruitment and brainwashing and who they are trying to reach now.

Also tonight, as the government plans a surge of air marshals, we take a look at what is and is not working in airport security. You have probably been patted down at airports. It turns out that is not worth much, much of anything, and the millions spent on fancy TSA machines wasted. We are "Keeping Them Honest."

And, later, "Up Close": We will speak with one of the men behind this high seas battle between anti-whaling activists and Japanese whalers, the latest round splitting one boat almost in half.

First up tonight: terror charges in the Christmas bombing attempt, a federal grand jury in Detroit handing up the indictment against this man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, 23 years old, a rich man, well-traveled, allegedly radicalized at an al Qaeda training camp in Yemen, reportedly, as you will hear only on 360, with some shocking speed.

The indictment says he boarded Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day with a bomb made of two explosives sewn into his underpants. And I want to show you the charges: attempted use of a weapons of mass destruction -- That's the bomb -- attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the U.S. That's a legal term for any aircraft in American airspace or with an American destination.

Other charge, willful attempt to destroy and wreck an aircraft within that same legal jurisdiction, also willfully placing a destructive device in, upon and in proximity to an aircraft, and two counts of possession of a firearm or destructive device in furtherance of a violent crime.

Now, all together, they add up to a potential life sentence. There's a lot of moving parts to this story in the criminal justice system, the counterterrorism community, and at the White House.

We are covering all of it tonight with senior political analyst David Gergen, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Frances Townsend, CNN national security contributor and former homeland security adviser to President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Jeff, a six-count federal indictment. What's next?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: He will be arraigned. He will not get out on bail. And the case will proceed, I assume, like Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. He is going to plead guilty.

COOPER: Why do you think he would plead guilty? Why wouldn't -- I mean, there are some who say he will try to make a mockery of the U.S. courts, that he will try drag this out as long as possible. So, wouldn't then he plead not guilty, if that is what his intention is?

TOOBIN: That is a possibility, I suppose.

But he has a responsible lawyer, the head public defender in that part of Michigan. I just think, when the facts are as obvious as these facts are, people tend not to go to trial. And I don't know when he will plead guilty, but I think he will.

COOPER: Fran, the U.S. is already saying that they got information from this guy as soon as the FBI started interviewing him, when they pulled him off the plane.

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's right, Anderson, but what we are hearing from FBI officials is that they spoke to him without giving him Miranda. As you would expect, they were interested in the disruption of any follow-on attacks. They then gave him Miranda.

And what I'm hearing from FBI sources is that he then clammed up, and actually became somewhat belligerent. And, so, while I agree with Jeffrey, given the overwhelming nature of this evidence, if he maintains a belligerent attitude, he may just force the government to walk the paces through the case.

COOPER: David, what are you hearing? I know you -- you had some inside information about al Qaeda and some of their recruiting tactics.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The -- I was told today, Anderson, by folks at the White House that they were -- they were quite surprised at the recruiting effort, how successful and how quick it was.

This young man, just like Mr. Hasan, was drawn in by the Internet, which one person called today hauntingly persuasive for people like him. But then he went to Yemen. He was only there for about four months. And, in that time, essentially, he was swept up, and he was brainwashed in an almost cultlike environment. And then they sent him forward on his mission, and it happened very quickly.

He was turned around and turned into this, in effect, a guided missile for the al Qaeda. So, the White House is trying to figure out now, how does this al Qaeda operation work? Is this similar to what's going on elsewhere? How sophisticated is it?

COOPER: That is pretty interesting, Fran. I mean, it also corresponds to, you know, his father coming forward and saying, look, my son has gone off the deep end, raising all these red flags about his son. He told CIA officials that in Nigeria, in the capital.

It is surprising to hear how quickly, though, this young man was allegedly radicalized.

TOWNSEND: Anderson, that's right, except, you know, we have -- there's been other reports that this was a guy who was disaffected for some time, including back to the time when he was in Yemen -- I'm sorry -- when he was being educated in London.

And we know al-Awlaki, the same radical preacher that David has just spoken about having radicalized him in Yemen also was preaching there at the same time. It will be interesting to see, as this unfolds, whether or not al-Awlaki, the radical preacher, and Abdulmutallab had contact when he was in Yemen.

So, it may be that this was a longer period of time during which he was susceptible to these radical ideas than we realize yet.

COOPER: Yes, he invited radical speakers when he was head of the Islamic Society at his school in England. That's what Fran was referring to.

You know, Jeff, you know there's been a lot of criticism from mainly Republicans, saying, look, this should have been tried -- not put into a civilian court. The military should have handled this. This guy should not have been Mirandized and read his rights and given the rights of an American citizen.

Would the process be very -- I mean, what would the process be if that had occurred, if he had been sort of taken by the military?

TOOBIN: Well, since there hasn't been a successful military tribunal for terrorism since World War II, we don't know.

COOPER: Not a single one?

TOOBIN: Not one that has resulted in a conviction like this, absolutely, in a case anything like this, not at all.

So, I mean, I think, when you talk about choosing between the two, you have to remember that we have a very tried, very effective federal criminal justice system, and nothing comparable in the military system that's been proven to work and upheld by the courts.

But, even if you had a military tribunal system, you couldn't get more information out of him, because he's not talking. And, presumably, we are done with water-boarding in this country. And having said he didn't want to talk, that would be respected, end of story.

So, in fact, in terms of what we really care about, getting more information, you wouldn't get information either way.

COOPER: David, we talked about accountability last night. Did the -- whoever you talked to in the White House today talk about, you know, anyone actually being held responsible, being fired for -- for failing to connect the dots?

GERGEN: Well, I think a number of people in Washington have been speculating Mr. Leiter, who runs the National Counterterrorism Center might well lose his job over this.

I was told today that he was safe. That suggests that there may not be a lot of firings in this whole thing. I didn't have the sense in talking to people today that that was -- that was coming. Instead, what I -- I also asked about a question Paul Begala raised on this program last night with you, Anderson.

And that is, was the president going to take any responsibility here? After all, he didn't insert himself into that list yesterday about taking personal responsibility. And I was told that he did in the meeting yesterday say the buck stops here, in effect, I take responsibility, and that he would publicly take responsibility.

So, this Brennan report that's coming out tomorrow may be accompanied by a statement, by the president saying, ultimately, at the end of the day, I'm the -- I'm the responsible officer here.

TOWNSEND: Anderson, that is precisely what I heard on my way over here from a senior administration official.

The report you are going to see from Brennan tomorrow is going to be very short, two or three pages, and no one's getting fired. That was the most recent information I got.

COOPER: No one is getting fired? No one is resigning?

(CROSSTALK)

TOWNSEND: Right.

COOPER: Interesting.

Fran Townsend, appreciate it, David Gergen and Jeffrey Brown as well. Thanks.

GERGEN: Thank you.

TOWNSEND: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: No one, it seems, is being held accountable.

Do you think putting this guy on trial is the right move? Let us know. Join the live chat now under way at AC360.com. I just logged on myself. Up next: a new airline scare. Fighter jets are scrambled, the entire security system apparently stretched tight. We have details on that.

And, tonight, we're investigating the TSA. Now, when you walk through the TSA screening, does it actually work? Well, you have probably been patted down, those fancy machines. Well, you are going to be disturbed by what our investigation found. We are "Keeping Them Honest."

And, tonight, President Obama making a campaign promise to negotiate health care reform out in the open, even on C-SPAN. Do you remember that promise? Well, now the CEO of C-SPAN is calling him on it, but is the president not living up to his promise? We have the "Raw Politics" and the plain facts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, yet another sign tonight of how edgy it is for people to fly.

A Hawaiian Airlines 767 returning to Portland, Oregon -- that is it right there -- after a passenger got unruly and, according to the TSA, made threatening remarks the and refused to stow his carry-on bag. Two F-15 fighters were scrambled. Authorities interviewed the passenger and companion, released them, and turned the case over to U.S. authorities.

Now, it wasn't the first scare this week. The entire system remains on high alert. Tonight, we are learning that the government is pushing to get more air marshals on airliners. In particular, immigration agents are being asked to volunteer because they have already got some of the needed training. Things are changing.

The real question, though -- and it is being asked from the White House on down -- is this: What works in airports? What doesn't work in terms of screening? Who is doing a good job, and who isn't?

Randi Kaye has been investigating the system. Tonight, she is "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Sunday at terminal C in Newark Airport, a man slips past a security checkpoint. A TSA worker is distracted and doesn't notice. Even when a passenger alerts officials, the TSA waits more than an hour before alerting airport police to the security breach.

If this was a real threat, that's precious time. And when the TSA tries to view security tape of the incident, it discovers the cameras are running, but not recording. And we have learned that's not unusual.

The union representing airport police tells us the TSA routinely informs them of illegal activity long after the fact. The TSA says it accepts full responsibility for the failure and has placed the employee involved on administrative leave.

The unidentified man? No trace.

"Keeping Them Honest," what's going on at the TSA, and who is in charge?

(on camera): The man nominated as its head has admitted improperly accessing a government database 20 years ago to run a background check on his ex-wife's new boyfriend. The nomination has also been held up because of Republicans' concern he would allow TSA workers to join a labor union. And there are other problems.

(voice-over): The TSA spent $30 million on its fancy puffer machines, which blow air on you to release explosive material. They didn't work and are being phased out. One security expert says TSA pat-down practices miss all sorts of things.

BRUCE SCHNEIER, SECURITY TECHNOLOGIST: Any pat-down that you experience that doesn't embarrass you physically is one that is not very effective.

KAYE: Even the agency's animals seem out of sorts. In Philadelphia, three of the TSA's bomb-sniffing dogs failed consecutive tests. The dogs were responsible for checking cargo at Philadelphia International. Ten other airport dogs did pass the tests.

REP. ROBERT BRADY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: They don't retrain them. They have got to retrain and recertify them. It's not the dog's fault. The dog can't say, "I can't smell a bomb."

KAYE: TSA's response? There are more than 700 dog teams at airports and mass transit hubs, and all are supposed to be recertified occasionally.

Back in December, when the TSA inadvertently posted its screening procedures manual online, a leak that might aid terrorists, five employees were put on leave. Just yesterday, in Bakersfield, California, the airport was evacuated, shut down for five hours, after two TSA workers found what they thought were traces of explosives on a bag and bottles. They complained they felt sick after smelling fumes from the bottles. It turns out, the bottles contain honey. Officials are still puzzled.

On its Web site, the TSA says its vision is to -- quote -- "continuously set the standard for excellence in transportation security," a vision that, to some, seems blinded by mishaps and confusion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And, I mean, let's be clear. There's a lot of TSA personnel working very hard to try to keep us all safe.

But this is -- there are mistakes happening all across the world in security.

KAYE: Right. It certainly isn't just the TSA.

And we have one crazy story to share with you out of Slovakia. The airport police there, they tried to test their security system. But things didn't go so well. They put explosives in a passenger's backpack, but bomb-sniffing dogs only found one. The airport police were distracted. And, apparently, well, they just forgot about the other one, and the passenger ended up flying to Dublin with it.

It wasn't connected to a detonator, so it wasn't dangerous. But this poor guy's house, Anderson, was raided. He was arrested briefly...

COOPER: Yikes.

KAYE: ... when he landed in Dublin, because they forgot they had left an explosive in his backpack.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

All right, Randi, tonight, "Keeping Them Honest," thanks very much.

Up next: Will President Obama back away from a campaign promise to put the final bargaining over health care reform in front of the cameras on C-SPAN? We have the "Raw Politics."

And, later, "Up Close": the inside story behind this deadly -- potentially deadly confrontation in the icy arctic waters. Look at this video. This is an anti-whaling ship getting rammed by a Japanese whaling vessel, lives of people and whales hanging in the balance. One of the boats in this clash broke into pieces, the bow sheered off -- the dramatic video. And we will talk to a man on one of these boats ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Raw Politics" tonight: health care and transparency.

From the get-go, President Obama promised the health care debate would take place in the open, including the negotiations that are central to writing a bill. He even spelled out how the transparency would happen, not once, but at least five times. And feel free to count along with me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It will be televised on C-SPAN. I can't guarantee you it will be exciting.

Broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN, so that the American people can see what the choices are.

And we are going to do it all on C-SPAN. It is all going to be televised.

All this will be done on C-SPAN, in front of the public. We will have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that's just five times. As promises go, it's pretty explicit.

So, why, then, as Democrats prepare for the last key phase of health care negotiations, where they merge the House and the Senate bills, are Democrats ignoring C-SPAN's actual request to cover the negotiations live?

C-SPAN sent a letter to Democratic leaders last week -- as of tonight, no response yet from lawmakers or from President Obama.

Joe Johns joins me with the "Raw Politics."

Joe, I mean it does seem odd. The president talked a lot about transparency, clearly said he wanted to see this on C-SPAN.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is simple. This has obviously been very hard so far, and it will be a lot easier than having a big televised event.

The White House is just sort of making the case that this issue has already been vetted, vetted for two years. They also realize that, if they did have televised hearings, it would just give the opposition another platform, Anderson.

COOPER: But, again, it's just a case of, you say one thing when you are running for office -- and this happens on both sides of the political aisle -- and then something else very different when you are actually leader.

From the Republican perspective, you know, there were some backroom deals. Republicans say the Democrats were essentially buying votes, at Senator -- you look at Senator Ben Nelson, whose state of Nebraska ended up with a deal where they -- they don't have to pick up the tab for expanding Medicaid.

Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a supporter of the public option, his state ends up with a $10 billion grant for community health centers. So, do Republicans have a point here?

JOHNS: Well, yes. It's also a question of political realities. It is pretty clear the bill is not going to get significant Republican support.

And what the Republicans are pretty much going to miss out on now is the opportunity to score some points and grandstand for the base. And they are still also getting to the point where they can claim the president is breaking that campaign promise.

But, to be fair, the president made that promise before the Republicans said they would filibuster the health care bill. So, either way, this gives an opportunity for them to accuse those Democrats one more time of the secret deal-making you were talking about on health care -- win-win for them, pretty much.

COOPER: Yes. Nancy Pelosi was asked about this by a reporter, about not having these negotiations on C-SPAN. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well...

(LAUGHTER)

PELOSI: ... there are a number of things he swore on the campaign trail.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes. I mean, ouch.

Why -- why would the speaker sort of whack the president like that?

JOHNS: Well, definitely. It sounded like the speaker was having a little fun at the president's expense.

And, you know, in a way, she is right. When you make promises about transparency, like Mr. Obama did on the campaign trail, you have got to expect that they could come back and bite you. The administration has admitted, sure, there have been miscalculations all the way through this health care debate, starting with their failure to sort of figure out how militant the opposition would be.

A Democratic analyst told me, the White House never really expected to get the kind of public pushback that they have gotten so far.

COOPER: So, does the president have lasting damage for being, you know, for transparency before he was against it?

JOHNS: Well, sort of short-term/long-term. Short-term, probably not. Fights over congressional procedure generally go absolutely nowhere. And the president and his party are likely going to get what they want when they pass their bill.

Long-term damage, though, could be a different story. Clearly, it looks, it appears like the president has gone back on his word. So, if this is about political capital, he spent a lot on this one. The question really is whether he spent more than he's got.

COOPER: All right, Joe Johns, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Let's turn again to CNN senior political analyst David Gergen for tonight's insider briefing.

David, we should point out, worked for the Clinton administration during its struggle to pass health care reform in the '90s. He's also worked for Republican administrations in the White House. I talked to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: David, you went through this with the White House, with the Clinton White House. They were also accused of being -- of not being transparent, of being overly partisan.

I mean, what do you think the fallout is going to be for the Obama administration and the Democrats in general this time around?

GERGEN: Well, so far, Anderson, they have had a remarkable lack of success in bringing the public along on this health care bill. And it seems to me that is their biggest problem right now. They have got the Democrats pretty much. And I think they are going to be able to resolve a lot of these differences behind closed doors.

This whole effort to say, put it on C-SPAN, I sort of don't think is going to go -- make that much difference to the public. What the public is really concerned about is, is this plan going to work? How much money is it going to cost me? How much -- is the government really going to be able to run this right? Am I going to lose my health care? -- the more substantive issues.

And, on those issues now, there has been no movement in the polls that I have seen in the president's direction, which means we could have, for the first time in our lifetimes, major social legislation passed in the teeth of public opposition.

COOPER: What did they do wrong? I mean, they supposedly had learned the mistakes that had been made under the Clinton administration of trying to do health care. You have President Obama elected saying -- a lot of people saying they want health care reform.

They now are on the brink of having some kind of health care reform, and, yet, as you say, this is in the face of public opposition.

GERGEN: Anderson, I -- I think that, in -- they may have overlearned the lessons of the Clinton administration by essentially assigning almost all the responsibility for writing the bill, the health care bill, to Congress.

It inevitably got drawn into the vortex of what's -- especially in the House, is a lot of partisanship. And, very importantly, the summer was a turning point for this. When those tea parties got started up, and the people started throwing bricks at the health care plan, the White House wasn't quite prepared for that. And they had -- the month of August was a lost month for them.

And by the time the president came back, went to the Congress to give that speech, he was able to, I think, staunch the flow of bleeding, but he wasn't able to turn opinion around in his favor. And I -- I think the White House itself now realizes that one of the things they have got to get straightened out here in the future is, -- they -- they're -- they're -- they can be really, really good when they are all together in the White House. But, when they scatter for holidays, as they did in August, and as they did again with the -- with the December bombing by the bomber in Detroit, they tend to be a little slower off the mark, and they can lose some of the momentum.

COOPER: Maybe no holidays next year.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: No.

COOPER: We will see.

David, thanks -- David Gergen.

GERGEN: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, still ahead tonight: a 360 dispatch from what appears to be the new front in the war on terror. We will take you inside Yemen for a firsthand look at where and why al Qaeda is thriving, real reporting you will only see on CNN.

And a daring escape caught on camera: An inmate breaks free from a chain, runs off -- how it ended coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Still ahead: a high seas battle. A small boat from an Animal Planet show is hit. It was split apart after apparently being rammed by a Japanese whaling ship. We are going to talk to the captain of the crew coming up.

First, though, Erica Hill has a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the 89-year-old white supremacist charged with killing a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., died this afternoon at the federal prison in North Carolina where he was awaiting trial. A prison official says James Von Brunn suffered from chronic congestive heart failure, as well as other health problems. He was 88.

At least six deaths are now blamed on that arctic chill that began across much of the country this weekend, and even lower temperatures are on the way. CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano says the Souths will get a -- South, that is, will get a second blast of arctic air later this week. And those temperatures will be about five degrees colder, just what you want to hear.

Snow, meantime, is the problem in the Midwest, where a blizzard warning is in effect for parts of South Dakota. You can already see the wind there. Up to nine inches of snow is expected in the Chicago area.

One of the most powerful Democrats in the Senate is retiring. Senator Christopher Dodd, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, announcing today he will not seek reelection to a sixth term. Now, this comes just one day after Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who has served in Congress for nearly 30 years, announced he won't run again either.

And also not seeking another term, a man who is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. His reason, something we have heard before from politicians and something Senator Dodd apparently doesn't agree with.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BILL RITTER (D), COLORADO: I'm no longer going to be a candidate for reelection in 2010. It allows me to concentrate on the things that are and should be most important to all of us, taking care of my family.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Now, there's nothing more pathetic, in my view, than a politician who announces they're only leaving public life to spend more time with their family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: We should mention, six Republican senators have also announced they are retiring.

And here in New York City, check out this daring escape on Staten Island. It was actually caught on camera by our affiliate WABC. An inmate, there you see, somehow breaks free from a chain linking prisoners being led out of a police precinct. Makes a run for the ferry terminal. They caught him, though, on a train...

COOPER: Yikes.

HILL: ... a few minutes later, apparently held him in the conductor's car until they -- the cops could get him.

COOPER: Wow. There you go.

As always, you can join the live chat happening now at AC360.com.

Coming up, a "360 Dispatch on the ground in Yemen where not many outsiders visit. Our Paula Newton just got into the country and shows us why it's become a new staging ground for al Qaeda.

Plus, we're looking in the future again tonight in our "What's Next" series. Our talk with designer Isaac Mizrahi about what's coming next in fashion and design and find out what three things he cannot live without. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In Yemen, officials reported the arrests of three more al Qaeda suspects today, and I want to show you where this occurred. The operation unfolded in Amran Province, which is northwest of the capital, Sanaa. It's the latest in a series of raids since the accused Christmas-Day bomber was tied to Yemeni extremists.

Now, as we talked about earlier, at the time this Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab spent in Yemen was critical to his radicalization. It's become a hot bed of extremism.

I want to come over here to the map and show you some of the key points as to why that is. Yet, this is where Yemen is, right here, right below Saudi Arabia.

Now, what you may not realize is that Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden. His family comes from a region called Hadramut (ph). It's a province right there. He still has a large extended family who live in that area.

Yemen is also where, I should point out, we've been attacked before. Back in 2000, al Qaeda bombed the USS Cole, which is right here in Aden Harbor. Now, since that bombing, Yemen's largely unsecured border with Saudi Arabia has made it an easy place to enter, and because there are large, unpopulated swaths of desert, it's a relatively easy place for al Qaeda to set up training camp.

You can check out this border right here. I mean, very long border here with Saudi Arabia.

Now, Yemen is considered a police state, and the government says it's committed to fighting extremists, but that's easier said than done. It's an unforgiving place. Not many outsiders visit.

But our Paula Newton just got into the country. Here's what she found in tonight's "360 Dispatch."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flying into Yemen, it's hard to shake the instant comparison: the jagged mountains, the unforgiving terrain reminds you so much of Afghanistan.

And on the ground, it's easy to figure out why al Qaeda is staging a comeback here. This is a deeply conservative, religious country where poverty is found in every corner and crevice.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab singled out this language school in the capital, ostensibly to improve his Arabic and refine his knowledge of Islam just months before he boarded Flight 253 to Detroit.

(on camera) So, we're here at the language institute where Abdulmutallab came, and authorities believe that this was a cover for him. We're going to go in right now and see if we can find anybody who knows him.

The institute's director tells us he was shocked by the Christmas-Day bombing attempt. Abdulmutallab, he says, was quiet and devout.

MUHAMMED AL-ANISI, LANGUAGE SCHOOL DIRECTOR: I get, like, afraid or scared when I realize that al Qaeda member was here in our school or lived in our hostel.

NEWTON: Because you wonder what could have happened while...?

AL-ANISI: Of course, he could have exploded the institute.

NEWTON (voice-over): Now, take a look at Abdulmutallab's view of the old city of Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, a place where Yemeni authorities now believe he nursed his extremism and may have found a way to express it.

(on camera) The institute is now convinced that Abdulmutallab was using their language school as a cover and that he knew what he wanted when he came to Yemen. He wanted to mix and mingle in this chaotic environment.

We're here outside the old city gates of Sana'a, the capital. And remember that here, the 9/11 attacks were celebrated as a victory for jihad.

Some people allege that Abdulmutallab knew that, if he wanted to perpetrate some kind of an attack, he could find the means to do it right here in Yemen.

(voice-over) American Linda Shen has been living in Yemen for four years as an Arabic student and Web designer. She says she's not surprised Abdulmutallab would choose this country. He wanted material support for a terror attack.

LINDA SHEN, ARABIC STUDENT: Yes, I have met people and I would not be surprised that he would do something like. I just was surprised that he -- you know, such a quiet guy, it would be him.

NEWTON (on camera): In terms of trying to get something like an explosive, though, that's even...

SHEN: It's not difficult. I mean, if I wanted to, I can get a hold of explosives, if I wanted to. In Yemen. Easy.

NEWTON: And all these things, do they make it a prime choice for al Qaeda to try and settle in here?

SHEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. The chaos. You know, the -- you know, the lack of government control. Absolutely. I mean, you see the terrain in Yemen. Oh, it's a haven. If you're hiding in some mountains with the tribal control, nobody can get in there.

NEWTON (voice-over): And yet, only now, it seems, are Yemeni special forces speeding through the country on a hair trigger, on the hunt for al Qaeda operatives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Paula, a lot of people here calling Yemen the new front in the war on terror, but leaders say they've been warning about this for years? NEWTON: Absolutely, Anderson. You know, the Yemeni officials told me, "Look, we've told three administrations that al Qaeda is a problem here and that they need to be able to help us with some intelligence from the military" and aid support, quite frankly, Anderson.

What's interesting here is that the Yemeni government can't be seen to be a puppet of the United States. You know, Anderson, we're going right back down that road again we're going down in Pakistan. You can help, you can aid, you can get that intelligence in, but you can only go so far. And that is because of the anti-Americanism that still remains quite deep here.

And you know, Anderson, think about this. We just had a report that said that intelligence in Afghanistan really has not been very effective for almost a decade. Yemeni officials telling me still, when we ask Americans what do you know about Yemen, what do you think the biggest reference is, that Chandler from an episode of "Friends" decided he was going to escape from Yemen in one episode.

They -- you know, one side of the mouth, they're laughing. On the other, they're thinking, how are we going to expect some good support from our western allies and how far behind the 8-ball are we right now with these al Qaeda cells?

Really, there could be more al Qaeda operatives in this country right now, Anderson, than there are in Afghanistan.

COOPER: Wow. Paula Newton, stay safe there. Paula, thanks.

Coming up next, a battle on the high seas, a whale-hunting ship and anti-whaling activist collide. Who's to blame and what damage is done? Dramatic video ahead. Stay tuned.

Also, Richard Heene, remember him? He's speaking out for the first time after his guilty plea, defending himself and -- get this -- refusing to admit that that whole thing was a hoax. You'll hear the video ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We've got some dramatic video to show you: a clash in the Arctic Ocean, caught on tape. Take a look. A small boat on the right has anti-whaling activists on board. They're from the Animal Planet show "Whale Wars." The large boat colliding with it is a Japanese whaling ship. One person on the smaller boat, the Ady Gil, was injured. Everyone got off the boat before it sank, before it was totally disabled.

The crew of the Ady Gil says the whaling boat rammed it in an unprovoked attack. The crew of the Japanese ship says they couldn't avoid a collision. The Ady Gil crew got in their way and were harassing them.

Joining me now by phone is Paul Watson. He heads the organization that owns the Ady Gil. Paul, you were actually on another ship that rescued those on the Ady Gil. What happened?

PAUL WATSON, PRESIDENT, SEA SHEPHERD CONSERVATION SOCIETY: Well, I'm on the Steve Irwin. We have three vessels down here: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Barker (ph) and the Ady Gil. Now the Ady Gil was actually stationary in the water at the time, and the Shonamaru did a complete turn and targeted it and cut it right in half, just came right through, firing its water cannons at the same time. Very aggressive attack, and it's a miracle that nobody was killed. There was one person injured.

But they did it deliberately. And we have six different camera angles on it. So I don't think they can argue that it was anything but deliberate.

COOPER: We're looking at the video now. There's people on board this Ady Gil. The Ady Gil is what? It's a smaller ship that you guys launch in order to stop Japanese ships from killing whales, correct?

WATSON: Yes, it was our harpoon interceptor vessel. It was 78 feet long. It's a very fast boat. In fact, it holds the world record for circumnavigating the globe under the name "Earth Race."

And it just came down here. It was being very successful in interfering with their operations, and the Japanese made a decision to take it out.

COOPER: You think they consciously were trying to take out that ship?

WATSON: Yes, this is the second attack they've done in this campaign. A couple of weeks ago they came after the Steve Irwin with their water cannons blazing, trying to destroy our helicopter.

COOPER: The Steve Irwin, that's the ship that you were on, obviously named after the late Steve Irwin. And the -- we're seeing water cannons and we're seeing video also from the show "Whale Wars" from Animal Planet, which documents your activities. How -- I mean this is -- how aggressive does this get out there?

WATSON: Well, it's pretty hostile. The Japanese are targeting endangered whales in an established whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium. They're poachers, and we're trying to stop them.

And we're not down here protesting whaling. We're trying to stop illegal activities. And we're at a real disadvantage, because they're trying to injure or even kill us. And if they do their government will justify and defend what they're doing. We have to do what we do making sure we don't injure anybody and we don't break the law.

COOPER: And in this video we're seeing, we're seeing folks from your organization throwing some stuff at the Japanese ships. And we're seeing you guys being bombarded by water cannons in return. What are you throwing at the Japanese ships?

WATSON: Rotten butter bombs. Stink bombs.

COOPER: What are stink bombs? What's the purpose of that?

WATSON: It makes it very difficult for them to continue their work on the deck, because it makes the deck stink quite badly. And we're just disrupting their operations, trying to slow them down, trying to prevent them from killing whales.

And we've been successful. Over the last three years, we've cut their quotas in half, and they haven't made a profit. And we keep this kind of economic pressure on them, I think we can bankrupt them and shut them down. So that's their objective.

COOPER: and they're hunting whales because in Japan, they eat whale meat, yes?

WATSON: There is a small market in Japan. It's hardly considered a major industry, but they want to kill 935 Mickey whales, 50 endangered humpbacks and 50 endangered fins. And we have been successful in cutting those quotas in half.

COOPER: And what's happened to the Ady Gil now? Is it going to be salvaged? Or...

WATSON: We're in the process right now of trying to salvage it. The first priority is to remove the fuel so that we don't cause any pollution and then salvage what we can. But the vessel is sinking. Half of it's already sunk, and the other half is taking on water. There's no way that no way that we can -- we can bring it back. It's just not seaworthy at all.

COOPER: Paul Watson, I appreciate your time. Stay safe out there. Thanks for being with us.

WATSON: Thank you.

COOPER: Ahead, our series, "What's Next?" Isaac Mizrahi telling us what's next in fashion and design. He discusses his new ventures and the three things he cannot live without.

And Richard Heene speaking out for the first time since his guilty plea. He denies the balloon drama was a hoax. You're going to hear the interview ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, we continue our series, "What's Next," where we talk to leaders from a wide range of fields about the new developments they see ahead in the coming decade.

Last night we talked to inventor and innovator Dean Kamen about health care, technology and science. Tonight, we shift focus and turn to fashion and design. An obvious choice for an interview, designer Isaac Mizrahi, whose output is vast and varied. He's designed everything from clothing for Target to a cheesecake. We talked earlier. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It's interesting how the human eye changes. I mean, you look back at TV shows from -- I recently saw an old episode of "L.A. Law" which I guess is from the early '80s.

ISAAC MIZRAHI, FASHION DESIGNER: Yes.

COOPER: And at the time, I remember thinking...

MIZRAHI: Don't pretend you weren't born. You were around.

COOPER: No, no. I can't remember the exact year. You look at it now, and it seems incredibly dated. I mean, it's the shoulder pads, and it looks absurd. And yet, I mean, we're wearing things now which 20 years from now, we're going to -- I'm going to look become on this suit and think, "I can't believe how I could have worn that."

I don't understand how the eye changes.

MIZRAHI: Well, I don't either, except I bore very easily. So when I see something that looks newish or that looks amusing, as opposed to dull, you know, I want to kill myself for being so bored, I go with it, you know?

And watching young people or watching, like, interesting, crazy people is a good way to see what's coming, do you know?

COOPER: Do you think -- you think about the future a lot?

MIZRAHI: I do. Yes, I do, and sometimes, the less I understand something, the more I like it. I -- I was involved recently at the 92nd Street Y, which is a venue in New York where people speak. And I spoke with Ashley Olsen. Do you know who she is? She's a younger lady.

COOPER: One of the Olsens.

MIZRAHI: Right.

COOPER: Of course. I'm obsessed with the Olsens.

MIZRAHI: Me, too. I'm obsessed with them. And there she was. And she literally was wearing, like, a hospital gown and tights and like...

COOPER: She was not wearing a hospital gown.

MIZRAHI: She was wearing stilts and like a tiara and a hospital gown. I thought this is the chicist thing. I don't understand it, but I'm obsessed with it from now on.

COOPER: Does fashion make sense to you? Does it -- people look at what's on the runways, and we all say that stuff looks ridiculous. No one could actually wear that. MIZRAHI: I don't know. It depends on the house you go to. If you went to -- to, I guess, to Chanel, I think everybody on the run situation expected to be worn by somebody. You know?

If you go to Dior, I don't think anyone expects anyone to wear that stuff. And it's great, and it's quite influential.

I'll tell you, as a designer, I never look at it. I get, like, upset if I look at it, you know? At others, what others do. I get upset with it. And I work with stylists, luckily, who say, you can't do that because someone did that already. You know what I mean? Or, sometimes a bad stylist, oh, you should do that, because you did it already.

COOPER: Well, I remember the movie "Unzipped," which is a great documentary, 1996, about you -- sort of the development of one line, one season.

MIZRAHI: Right.

COOPER: There was something. I can't remember what it was.

MIZRAHI: Nanook of the North.

COOPER: Nanook of the North was the look that you had watched a movie. And that was sort of the inspiration, but somebody else at the same time, unbeknownst to you, also kind of did a Nanook of the North.

MIZRAHI: Jean Paul Gautier.

COOPER: Right.

So in terms of business, you have your own line?

MIZRAHI: Yes.

COOPER: You have a Liz Claiborne line. You have a store that's opened up.

MIZRAHI: That's right some great.

COOPER: You have QVC that you've been on for a long time.

MIZRAHI: Mm-hmm.

COOPER: You have the Target line.

MIZRAHI: Yes.

COOPER: I mean, you have -- you're in -- fingers in a lot of different pies.

MIZRAHI: I also hopefully, you know, I'm involved in television, as well.

COOPER: Right. MIZRAHI: I have this new talk show and for me, as I said before, I bore so easily, right? And I never claim to be a master. I'm not Henry James or something, you know? You, I'm not you. I think you're a master of something, you know what I mean? And I'm not. I just like to be diverted. I have a need to be diverted a lot. And I get crazy ideas.

You know, I had this idea. They said, "Oh, you should design product for the launch of QVC." So I did plaid things: plates and, you know, throws and cheesecake, a plaid cheesecake that went on a plaid platter.

COOPER: Plaid cheesecake?

MIZRAHI: Yes. And it's beautiful. And I'm telling you delicious.

COOPER: I'm told we actually have some of your cheesecake.

MIZRAHI: You do?

COOPER: I believe so.

MIZRAHI: Who says? Wait, look, there it is. It -- has it come down to room temperature?

COOPER: Wow, really is plaid.

MIZRAHI: Ye. And it's beautifully wrought, is it not?

COOPER: It's beautiful.

MIZRAHI: It's a beautifully done...

COOPER: How is that...

MIZRAHI: Well, it's like -- I'll tell you what it s.

COOPER: Is that plaid edible?

MIZRAHI: Yes, of course. No, I think you can get killed. Crazy? Of course it's edible. That's the idea.

COOPER: I'll just cut us a piece while we continue.

MIZRAHI: Well, you go on, you can eat, because I think you need to bulk up, Anderson.

COOPER: Cheesecake...

MIZRAHI: Where I am going to be a supermodel by spring.

COOPER: Are these your drawings?

MIZRAHI: Yes, they are. These are my drawings of my dog.

COOPER: That's great.

MIZRAHI: Thank you. I draw my dog obsessively.

COOPER: We ask everybody who we're talking to for this "What's Next" series what three items can you not live without?

MIZRAHI: Oh, my God. Three items. All right. Well, one, I know, is my -- is my bridge program on my computer.

COOPER: Bridge? Really?

MIZRAHI: Yes. Because that's what I do when I get really bored; I play computer bridge. That's one thing.

The other thing is, let's see -- oh, I have a beautiful scarf that's this perfect weight. It's not too heavy. Sometimes a cashmere scarf can be too heavy. And it's not too light. And it travels well. I refer to it as blankie. I take it with me when I travel.

And what else can't I live without? My new orthotics. I got new orthotics for my shoes.

COOPER: Suddenly, I feel like we're in Miami Beach in the '70s.

MIZRAHI: I know. I know.

COOPER: I have a nice scarf and orthotics. Have some more cheesecake.

MIZRAHI: Have some more plaid cheesecake. Sorry, what else?

COOPER: Thanks so much.

MIZRAHI: Thank you. It's a pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: In terms of what's next in retail, Mizrahi said to expect online shopping to grab even more of the market. Actual stores with salespeople won't disappear, but he says that retailers that are best at serving customers online are going to have the greatest success.

Tomorrow, we continue our series "What's Next" with a look at education. I'm going to talk to Michelle Ree, chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools. She was tasked with transforming the troubled system more than two years ago. Her tough tactics have earned her a lot of praise, some criticism, as well. We collected questions from kids around the country for Ree. That's tomorrow on "What's Next" on 360.

Let's get caught one some of the other stories right now with Erica Hill and a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson late word into CNN tonight, Hanes is ending its ad campaign with actor Charlie Sheen. In a statement from the company, which reads in part, "The commercials were suspended, effective December 28, the first date possible after Mr. Sheen's Christmas-Day arrest."

A spokesman went on to say that, given the charges, domestic violence, the decision was, quote, "a standard, straightforward call."

A lawyer for Roman Polanski today asking a Los Angeles judge to sentence the director while he remains under house arrest in Switzerland. A hearing will be held later this month.

Polanski, of course, fled the U.S. nearly 32 years ago before being sentenced for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

A 360 follow tonight: NBA commissioner David Stern indefinitely suspending Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas without pay. The move comes today after Arenas pointed his index fingers as if they were guns at his teammates, days after he violated NBA rules after bringing actual guns into the Wizards' locker room, triggering a criminal investigation.

In a statement today, Arenas said he was sorry and understands why the league took action.

And Richard Heene, science detective and Balloon Boy's dad, talking again to Larry King, just days before heading to jail after his recent guilty plea in the case. Heene insists the stunt that captivated the nation was not a hoax. Here's what he told Larry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD HEENE, PLEADED GUILTY IN BALLOON BOY HOAX: We had searched the house, high and low and -- I'm sorry.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": It's OK.

HEENE: And after I saw him in the craft and Bradford told me that he was inside, I at first didn't believe Bradford. And I told him that perhaps he's around. I just saw him. And...

KING: Sum and substance, you believe your son informs the craft?

HEENE: I knew he was in the craft.

KING: You didn't know it.

HEENE: No, no, no, in my mind. In my mind.

KING: Oh.

HEENE: There was no other place 'cause I visualized him. I yelled at him to not go in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Come on. What?

HILL: Are you not...

COOPER: Are you kidding me with those...?

HILL: Are you saying you don't believe him?

COOPER: Come on.

HILL: You didn't think he was genuine?

COOPER: Fake tears, really?

HILL: Look how upset he was, Anderson.

COOPER: And that is literally the way he fake-cried during that stupid interview.

HILL: Didn't he and his wife meet in an acting class, if I remember that correctly?

Heene says he pleaded guilty to save his wife, Mayumi, from being deported to Japan.

COOPER: Poor Mayumi.

HILL: You can see the entire interview Friday night here on CNN. And I personally thought it was interesting he chose to spoke to Larry King and not Wolf Blitzer, who was of course, in for Larry on the night of that -- well, on that infamous night a couple of nights ago, the same night that little Falcon himself uttered one of your favorite lines of 2009. Here's the gem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. HEENE: Say hi to Wolf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, guys.

FALCON HEENE, BALLOON BOY: Who the hell is Wolf?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Mm-hmm.

COOPER: The only true words that little boy spoke during that interview.

Erica, time for tonight's "Shot." Remember when you were a kid and there were certain things you weren't allowed to do like jump on your bed and do back flips? Well, there's a reason for that, and we found a teenaged girl who learned that lesson the hard way. It's tonight's shot. Check it out. It's from Metacafe.com.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Whoa!

COOPER: I actually hadn't seen that video. That hurts.

HILL: And that's why the doctor said no more monkeys jumping on the bed.

COOPER: Yes. Wow. I hadn't seen that video. It's quite...

HILL: Want to see it again?

COOPER: Well, just the falling part. Yes. I don't want to see the -- I don't need to see the success one again. I guess we have got it cued up. All right. Do we?

HILL: And impressive back flip until, you know it backfires.

COOPER: I'm not sure I can watch this.

HILL: Oh, you can. Ooh.

COOPER: Terrible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yet I laugh. I don't know why.

HILL: She gets up. That's the important thing.

COOPER: She's not going to try this again any time soon, I'm sure. And don't try that at home.

More news at the top of the hour. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)