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Video: Abdulmutallab arraigned

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    >> 2%.

    >>> in a federal courtroom in detroit , michigan, today, the man accused of trying to blow up a passenger jet on christmas day and kill everyone onboard made his first appearance today to face the charges against him. our justice correspondent pete williams was there and is with us from detroit tonight. pete, good evening.

    >> reporter: brian, umar abdulmutallab spoke briefly during his hearing. he was here to formally face the charges which could carry a sentence of life in prison in he is convicted. u.s. marshals escorted abdulmutallab in and out of the federal courthouse surrounded by extra security from a federal prison 45 miles away . he walked into the courtroom, despite having what federal officials say are severe burns on his legs caused when the explosive device caught fire in his lap on the plane. he told the judge he's taking pain pills, but his lawyer, a public defender , said he was clear-headed enough to follow the proceedings. in a barely audible voice, abdulmutallab said he understood the charges and the maximum penalty. his lawyer entered a plea of not guilty for him. outside several dozen members of the muslim american community voiced support for the prosecutors.

    >> i feel like it's so important for us muslim americans to send out the message that we do not condone terrorism. we do not support terrorism in any way, and terrorism is not a part of our religion whatsoever. no matter what you may hear, no matter what terrorists may say.

    >> reporter: but some former justice department officials say he shouldn't even be here. he should have been declared an enemy combatant to be questioned at length without a lawyer.

    >> it's fundamentally misleading to tell the american people there is no compromise in our ability of intelligence. let's acknowledge we are going to get intelligence not as expeditiously by classifying him as a suspect.

    >> reporter: officials said he talked his head off and he stopped answering questions after about 30 hours of questioning, but before he asked for a lawyer. deputy national security advisor told "dateline" nbc that he began talking the moment he was arrested.

    >> that opportunity to press him very aggressively provided us very useful intelligence right out of the box.

    >> reporter: abdulmutallab's father was not here in court today. he is the nigerian banker who first told the u.s. he feared his son was becoming radicalized, but two lawyers hired by the family were here to observe.

    >> pete williams in detroit for us tonight. pete, thanks.

    >>> now we turn to the

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