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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Dec. 7th

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Ed Markey, Martha Sugalski

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL ANCHOR:  It‘s Bush vs. Murtha in the war on Iraq.  The president said today we are doing great things in that country that are not making the evening news.  The Pennsylvania congressman says we are simply getting killed over there. 

Who is right? 

Plus, for the first time since 9/11, a federal air marshal shoots and kills a suspicious passenger. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to this debate on Iraq.  Who do we trust?  The president said we make mistakes, but we are making progress towards a defensible, democratic Iraq, or the Vietnam combat veteran from Pennsylvania who says we are being sold a bill of goods, not just on the case for war initially, but on the success of the war so far. 

And later in the show we will have the latest on the CIA leak case and tell you why special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was at the courthouse today. 

First, a 44-year-old American man has been shot and killed by a federal air marshal on a jet way at the Miami International Airport.  NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams joins us now.  Pete, do we know fully what happened yet? 

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT:  We don‘t have an accurate picture of precisely what happened yet.  We have some idea, but there are varying accounts.  This just happened within the past few hours so that‘s understandable. 

The plane is on the ground and it arrives from Medellin, Colombia and is about to take of from Miami to go to Orlando.  And the passenger in the back of the plane, who is apparently sitting with his wife, gets into an argument with her, stands up, and grabs his carry-on bag and starts heading toward the front of the plane. 

At some point, as he is working his way to the front of the plane, he claims he has a bomb on his carry-on.  There are federal air marshals on this plane; they hear that, they tell him to stop; they tell him to get on the floor. 

They see him reach into the bag and then they shoot him and he is dead.  As you said, he is American, he is 44.  We‘re told his name is Rigoberto Alpizar, we don‘t know where he is from.

There is also an account from a couple of eyewitnesses and others in the airline who say that as the man was headed towards the front of the plane, his wife was yelling out that he had mental problems and was off his medications. 

We don‘t know whether the air marshals heard that or not, but the federal officials here are saying that the air marshals followed the protocols to the letter and did precisely what they‘re told to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Maybe that protocol includes what we are watching now.  What you are watching here on your screen, live, is the Transportation Safety Officials detonating, blowing up the luggage that they have taken off the plane. 

They are going through the full course here and making sure even if the passenger had a mental problem that there is no political ambition behind any of what we are watching here.  Can you make anything of that, Pete, so far? 

WILLIAMS:  We are told by several law enforcement officials that they did not find any explosives, that there is no sign that the man had any explosives in his carry-on bag.  And remember, of course, to get on the plane, he would have had to pass through security. 

Here is the question we still don‘t know.  Did he get on the plane in Miami, passing through America airport security, or did he board the plane in Colombia on it‘s inbound leg?  That still isn‘t clear. 

We hope to know some more about that.  A spokesman for the federal air marshals‘ service is going to start answering questions here, probably in the next half hour. 

MATTHEWS:  All we know, in terms of the crime scene here, is that a passenger was unruly with his wife, he raced to the front of the plane, and he was claiming at the time out loud he had a bomb with him and reached into his bag.  What was the final triggering of the air marshals‘ decision to shoot and kill? 

WILLIAMS:  Two things, claiming that he had a bomb.  That alone wouldn‘t have done it.  But when he reached into the bag, that‘s what we are being told here by federal official, was the tipping point. 

I realize you were using it metaphorically, but at this point, by saying crime scene, officials are not indicating there was any crime here.  Of course there wouldn‘t be any charges against the man.  He‘s dead.  If he had survived, he could potentially face charges for making threats about bombs. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s a combination that you can‘t yell fire in a crowded theater.  You can‘t yell on an airplane, I assume.

WILLIAMS:  It‘s a federal offense. 

MATTHEWS:  In fact, I know those rules because they are posted so well, right? 

WILLIAMS:  Absolutely.  The second question would be did the air marshals commit any crime here.  And everything that we‘re being told is no, they did not.  You are seeing these taped pictures you referred to a moment ago of them detonating luggage on the tarmac in the airport area. 

We should emphasize that there is no indication that any explosives were found. 

MATTHEWS:  By the way, just by the very fact of them detonating these pieces of luggage, they believe there was probable cause for danger here and the initial action of the federal marshal on the plane in shooting and killing that suspect is backed up now by the further suspicion—right now demonstrating their suspicion this maybe a foul play situation. 

WILLIAMS:  Or they are just taking no chances, which has sort of been the default mode since 9/11.  If he did claim to have a bomb, they want to be certain that anything connected with his baggage is thoroughly checked and detonated.  That may be all that‘s happening there. 

I have not heard there is any other reason to believe there were explosives on the plane other than his claim. 

MATTHEWS:  We don‘t know whether the luggage being exploded in front of eyes right now is only the luggage taken on the plane by the suspect, do we? 

WILLIAMS:  We don‘t know that for certain, but there was a suggestion that that is what they would do earlier this afternoon. 

MATTHEWS:  That makes sense.  Please stay on the like here, stay with us, Pete Williams, justice correspondent for NBC. 

Let me bring in Neil Livingstone now.  Neil, you are an expert in this department.  I‘ll get to your full particulars in a minute. 

Let me ask you about this, the federal marshal, by the way, you are the founder and chairman of the Global Options, Incorporated, an international risk management and business intelligence company.  Thank you for joining us.  It seems to me this is the first time we have seen action by a federal marshal. 

NEIL LIVINGSTONE, TERRORISM & SECURITY ANALYST:  This is the first time in the history of the federal air marshal program, which is over 30 years old, and it had lapsed prior to 9/11, but has come back as a very, very aggressive program since that time.  First time that an air marshal has ever used his weapon in proximity to an aircraft. 

MATTHEWS:  Of course, it was deadly. 

LIVINGSTONE:  It was deadly and that‘s probably what you are going to see.  They are not taught to shoot the gun out of someone‘s hand or try to wound them.  If someone has a bomb and they are going to detonate it, you want to make sure they are totally incapacitated.  That usually means dead.

MATTHEWS:  Shoot to kill.  Do you know the protocol as to what we are watching here? 

LIVINGSTONE:  The protocol is—depends on the situation and the air marhshal‘s assessment.   You have to remember this is very much like a police officer using deadly force. 

This whole incident probably occurred in 10 seconds or less.  And he has to make a decision, as a man charges up the aisle, claiming to have a bomb, making a great commotion, reaching into his bag and then he‘s got to take the steps that are necessary at that point to take the situation under control. 

What he does is shoot the guy and he kills him.  That‘s the proper protocol and obviously it will be reviewed by his superiors and everyone that walks through it, just like when a policeman uses deadly force. 

MATTHEWS:  It sure is an object lesson for everybody who travels, you don‘t joke, mess around or play any roles.  If you are going to pose as a split second as a dangerous customer, you could be dead the second second. 

LIVINGSTONE:  Absolutely.  This is the world we live in since 9/11.  And the consequences of inaction are so great.  I did a piece recently on suicide bombers, and the fact is when law enforcement or military look at people that may have a bomb, they have only seconds usually or a split second to react. 

Any effort that makes it look like he is going to detonate it, if the guy has a device to detonate a bomb, if a guy has a device in his hand, or if he reaches into his bag in this case, you have to take action, because if you don‘t and the guy really has a bomb, everyone is going to be dead. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get back to Pete Williams.  Pete, the extent of coverage, are you familiar with the extent of coverage of the federal air marshals program.  How many big planes that take off have one aboard? 

WILLIAMS:  They‘ve never said that for operational reasons.  But you would expect they would have them on routes they need them to be.  From Colombia, it is a no brainer why air marshals would be on that flight. 

Chris, we are getting just a little bit more information.  Another version of precisely what happened. 

Now we are told by federal officials here as they begin to go through their own after action reports, that what happened is the man made this claim and starts to work his way toward the front of the cabin. 

The air marshals confronted him and took him into the first class area to begin questioning him.  And while he was with them—in most planes, you have the entry point here and first class is to the left and coach and economy is to the right.

So he is in the first class section, and while he is in there being questioned, authorities tell us, the man started to run away.  He went on to the jet way and they told him to stop. 

He grabbed the bag, and that‘s when they fired the shots.  This resolves—this latest version we have—resolves the ambiguity about where he was shot.  They say now for sure it was on the jet way and not on the actual airplane. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Neil for a second here in terms of the M.O. or the practice.  Would it be more likely they waited until he got to the jet way to shoot him rather than try to shoot him while he is on the plane, which would be very dangerous.

LIVINGSTONE:  Now, what‘s going to be the triggering thing, as Pete said, is going to be if the guy looks like he‘s going to detonate something. 

MATTHEWS:  dangerous.

LIVINGSTONE:  No, what‘s going to be the triggering thing, as Pete said, is going to be if the guy looks like he is going to detonate something.  And in this case ...

MATTHEWS:  So they‘re reaching into the bag. 

LIVINGSTONE:  Reaching into the bag is a lot more probable cause, if you will, than running away.  And they had to make a decision.  And, obviously, we‘ve got new facts coming in.  If the guy is running away, did he, at the point, present a menace to either the airport or the possibility of detonating a bomb?  These are new facts and they‘re not as clear cut as the previous facts we had. 

MATTHEWS:  Pete, that must have been quite a spectacle to be on that plane observing this as a passenger in first class or in coach. 

WILLIAMS:  Absolutely.  And many of the passengers weren‘t aware that shots were fired until they heard about it later.  Some of them heard them, some didn‘t, because it happened out on the jetway, but I think, Chris, if this second version that we have now turns out to be the definitive one, you can see now the sort of the episode kind of ramping sequentially. 

First he claims to have a bomb.  Then he starts to try to get of the airport.  They stop him.  They take him into first class so things, you know, are now a little bit more under control, but then he runs away again, a second time.  So it amps back up again. 

And then they tell him to stop, he doesn‘t stop—or they tell him to get on the ground.  He reaches into the bag.  So you can see it‘s not a simple, you know, boom, boom, you know, a few seconds.  It‘s that it escalates, it dies back down, and then it escalates again.  So you can sort of see how this thing would build. 

MATTHEWS:  I wonder, Neil, if there is any way of monitoring air travel by people who have mental disorders?  I mean if this—go ahead.  You, Pete, if you have a thought on that, go ahead.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, I talked to a federal official earlier today who said that, you know, this, you know, is a big country, lots of people travel and some of them do have mental problems and some of them are traveling in probably a condition where they shouldn‘t be. 

They are off their medications, they‘re unstable, and it does happen.  They get unruly.  They get violent, and sometimes make threats.  You know, this one is, obviously, not that garden variety of what we are led to believe is what happened here. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a deadly situation.  Again, I want Neil Livingstone to run through what we know now about the protocols.  We are watching the detonation of—this is a real serious business.  They are taking this all the way to the limb.  They are making sure this guy has no political motive, no danger to posed anyone else because of the luggage he was carrying. 

Apparently all the luggage associated with him has been blown up now on the airfield.  We are watching most of it right now being blown up.  And, of course, we are watching a continued investigation.  Will those passengers all be grilled now through the night? 

LIVINGSTONE:  I don‘t think they will be grilled through the night, except those that might be able to help the factual issues, that saw something happening.  I would assume most of the passengers will be allowed to go on their way. 

But I think the two triggering things are here are one, he failed to -

if these reports are accurate, he failed to respond to the officers‘ orders to perhaps get down on the floor. 

Secondly, if he still had his carry-on bag with him, if they hadn‘t taken that away from him and he was reaching into it at that time, then he looked like he could still be a threat.  So those are probably the things that triggered this, and the air marshal or air marshals were probably justified in their action. 

MATTHEWS:  These air marshals—I know a lot of you are suggesting is top secret, but are these air marshals people—James Bond types, people that can handle a physical situation without using their gun?  In other words, they could tackle a guy and disarm him and put him in handcuffs?  In other words, they are pretty good of physical control of a suspect? 

LIVINGSTONE:  Absolutely.  But remember, there are female air marshals

too, and they‘re not all men, and they‘re not all big, brawny guys.  And so

but they are taught various types of hand-to-hand combat, ways of taking people down, bringing them under control, joint locks, things like that, same thing police are taught. 

And these guys have about the same profile as a cop in an ordinary city, and same age spectrum, same physical fitness standards which are not always as rigorous as they should be.  I mean, these guys spend an awful lot of time sitting on planes eating, you know, eating peanuts and so on.  They are supposed to keep in good condition.  I have seen a few that are not in the best condition. 

MATTHEWS:  Of course, you know, anybody who has been a police officer knows that the goal, of course, is to subdue the person without use of deadly force, but in this case, this person was threatening the entire plane. 

One of the things we were told about in the debate as this preceded this development of having federal air marshals is to shoot a gun, a pistol on an airplane would endanger all the passengers.  Is that true by the way, now that we are into this issue of firing a gun on a suspect on an airplane? 

LIVINGSTONE:  Well, remember, the plane was on the ground. 

MATTHEWS:  In this case.

LIVINGSTONE:  Yes, it‘s a lot safer to shoot on the ground.  Now, there is something called frangible ammunition, which is ammunition that doesn‘t have the—it a stopping power up close but it doesn‘t have the same power to punch holes in things as say ordinary ammunition has.  So what they want to do—using a weapon on board a plane when its up at altitude is a very, very dangerous thing to do.  You only do that in an extreme situation.

MATTHEWS:  Did the air marshals now carry pistols that are capable of subduing a suspect but not damaging the compartment? 

LIVINGSTONE:  It‘s more the ammunition that they use. 



MATTHEWS:  And they have that? 

LIVINGSTONE:  Yes, they have ammunition that is going to be better, just as our Delta Force Commandos do if they have to take down a plane at some point.  They have special ammunition that is less likely to jeopardize the passengers ...

MATTHEWS:  And decompression, of course. 

LIVINGSTONE:  ... decompression of the aircraft.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s bring in someone else.  Hang in there, Neil. 

Martha Sugalski is a reporter with NBC, the NBC station WTVJ in Miami.  Martha, thank you for joining us.  We are told now that he was—that this suspect before he was killed was being interrogated by an air marshal in the first class compartment of that airliner and made a break for it and put his hand into his luggage in a way that might have suggested he was about to detonate a bomb.  What more do you have on this tragic incident? 

MARTHA SUGALSKI, WTVJ-TV MIAMI:  Well, as you said, what I do know is that that plane was supposed to leave at 2:18 but the process of pushing back from the gate, about 10 minutes into that, that‘s when the husband and wife began to argue in the back of the aircraft. 

The husband said he wanted to get off.  He tried to push his way to the front of the aircraft and saying that he had a bomb in his carry-on and that‘s when those two air marshals stopped him and said, you know, we need to talk to you.  And from what I have been hearing, is that he ignored those pleas by the federal air marshals and that‘s when he was fatally wounded.   

We are also hearing from witnesses that she was—the wife was trailing her husband as he was moving to the front of the aircraft and she was saying hey, he has a mental illness and he‘s off his medication.  So that‘s something that witnesses are saying throughout all of this chaos, that that is what the wife was saying in her pursuit of her husband. 

MATTHEWS:  Martha, there is—I guess the big news you just gave us, is we didn‘t realize there were was federal marshals on the plane.  Do we know if that is the norm yet, carrying two marshals as well as—first of all, I didn‘t know there was one.  Now I know there‘s two. 

SUGALSKI:  Yes, no, since September 11th, as you know, the Federal Air Marshal Program has been beefed up and they do travel in teams.  So at this point, we know that there were two of them on board, but one made that fatal shot to this 44-year-old U.S. citizen, who allegedly was making the threats on board this plane as he was pushing his way to the front of the aircraft. 

MATTHEWS:  Was that passenger who was killed today around 3:00 --

2:00, was he killed on what we call the jetway between the plane and the terminal? 

SUGALSKI:  That is—there are some conflicting reports with that, Chris.  Initially we heard that it was happening in the jetway.  You know, we all have to go through that jetway, that area to get onto the aircraft.  And many times as you are getting on board, you can take a little bit of a peak and the cockpit door is open.  You can see the pilot.

At this point though, we are hearing now the shooting happened in the plane, you know, just ahead of the first class section, but we are not sure at this point.  We have heard both.  We‘ve heard it was in the jetway and then it went back to being actually on board the aircraft itself. 

MATTHEWS:  Are the passengers being held for witness purposes?  Are they all being held or some of them?  What‘s happening right now to the passengers? 

SUGALSKI:  We understand at this point that the body, in fact, is still on that aircraft and all 111 passengers have been taken off the aircraft and are in the process of being questioned.  At this point, there was some concern to see if there was anyone else involved in all of the chaos that ensued on board this plane. 

But at this point, they are all being processed, they‘re all being questioned.  I do know from sources that apparently when the people were being taken of the plane, they were told to put their, you know, hands, you know, up in an orderly fashion to get off the aircraft, because, obviously, officials wanted to make sure that no one else was a part of any of these threats. 

MATTHEWS:  Do we know for sure that the passenger who had the apparent mental disorder was an English speaker?  Are we sure of that?

SUGALSKI:  Not sure at this point.  I know that he is 44 years of age and is a U.S. citizen.  At this point, unclear as to whether or not he is an English speaking ... 

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m just trying to figure out if there was a communications problem that added to this, that led to this tragedy this afternoon.  Thank you very much, Martha Sugalski of WTVJ down in Miami. 

Let‘s go to back to terrorism analyst Neil Livingstone.  The training of these fellows, just so we were—it‘s one of the few times you have a reason to go back and try to figure out what‘s on that plane.  A lot of us who travel a lot, like I do, always wonder when we think about it, who else on the plane is on our side and who might not be on our side?  These men are—they tend to be men or women or both? 

LIVINGSTONE:  The majority are men. 

MATTHEWS:  They tend to be people that are of a military type, in other words, in good shape, mentally and physically to stay awake the whole flight and be ready to move. 

LIVINGSTONE:  They go through a very rigorous screening program to make sure they don‘t have mental problems or other things that would disqualify them.  And then they go through a very strong training program so that they are taught to handle situations like this and they‘re taught very rigorous firearms skills as well. 

MATTHEWS:  And they‘re checked out on pistol use, and what else do they have?  What other weapons do they have?  Handcuffs, obviously.  What else have they got?

LIVINGSTONE:  I think ...

MATTHEWS:  Blackjacks?

LIVINGSTONE:  Well, I think that they carry pistols, and I think that the other things that they carry are probably not made public at this point.

LIVINGSTONE:  I think...

MATTHEWS:  ... blackjacks?

LIVINGSTONE:  Well, I think that they carry pistols and I think that the other things that they carry are not made public at this point.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we can assume it‘s something you can subdue a person with, without shooting them on an airplane, right?

LIVINGSTONE:  Well, I think most of the...

MATTHEWS:  ... like mace?

LIVINGSTONE:  Well yes.  Most of the things that they‘re taught to deal with are unruly passengers that have had too much to drink. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s an old problem. 

LIVINGSTONE:  Old problem.


LIVINGSTONE:  But you know, this is the one case in a million that you don‘t see very often.  It‘s someone who really potentially is a threat to the aircraft and to everyone on it, who says: I‘ve got a bomb.  And you cannot make a judgment and wait and say: well, maybe he is mentally ill.  If you do that, that could be a plot by the terrorists just to get a little more time.

MATTHEWS:  We just got word there‘s going to be a press conference by the transportation officials of our federal government who are in charge of protecting our airports in 10 minutes. 

Do you ever try to imagine whether the role play, the lethal role play by that federal marshal in that airplane down in Miami this afternoon—what role federal marshals would have played had they been present on 9/11?  Could they have stopped the horror of 9/11? 

LIVINGSTONE:  Of course they could have stopped 9/11.  If you had marshals on board the plane—remember the bad guys were believe on 9/11, were armed at most with box cutters.  And a pistol is always...

MATTHEWS:  ... but didn‘t they have four or five lugs with them?  Guys that are just sort of big, strong guys from Saudi?

LIVINGSTONE:  Sure.  Well, the real issue and Chris, is whether you can recognize who the air marshals are.  Unfortunately, that‘s one of the weaknesses of the program.  I fly almost every week and I can always pick out the air marshals.  They go up and usually flash their credentials, get on the plane first, and they‘re sitting there when I get on board the plane. 

If I‘m a bad guy, I‘m going to get up and take them out first.  And so, I think the program needs a little more low key than it is today.  So that those guys can respond.  And I think on 9/11 they could have—if there were two air marshals aboard every one of those planes.

MATTHEWS:  If there were two?  If there were two, but there were five bad guys on those plane.  One smart guy and four lugs whose job it was to subdue the passengers.  The four guys and the one was to be the pilot.  You think an air marshal could have handled all five of them?

LIVINGSTONE:  I think so, with a weapon.  And I also think the pilots now can be armed if they choose to do so and we have a reinforced cockpit door.  I think we‘ve taken the steps that are going to make it very difficult to hijack a plane.

MATTHEWS:  The big thing, you hit it there.  That pilots don‘t come back into the plane to go to the bathroom anymore.

LIVINGSTONE:  Well they do, but remember they put the drink cart in front of the—to block it.  And no one else is permitted to come up there.  You can‘t loiter by the restrooms anymore, things like that.  There are good procedures today to deal with any potential threat on board an aircraft.

MATTHEWS:  Neil Livingstone, stick with us.  We‘re going to be getting this press in just a minute.  We‘re going to be hearing from the Transportation Safety Administration in a couple of minutes to hear what really happened down there.  We are putting it together in pieces.  We might get the whole puzzle completed in five minutes.  Stick with us on MSNBC.  We will be right back with more HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  We‘ve got a news conference coming up any minute.  You‘re watching right now on MSNBC, the residue now, the detonation of passengers‘ luggage in Miami International Airport because this afternoon at approximately 2:00 Eastern time, a man was killed, who was a suspected bomber, actually. 

A man apparently with a mental disorder who talked of having a bomb in his bag.  Reached into the bag and at that moment, was shot by one of the two federal air marshals aboard that flight arriving from Medellin, Colombia.

What a terrible situation, but it appears to be one of those tragic coincidences of a country at alert for possible terrorism and a man with a mental problem who was apparently acting out his problem in a way that suggested big danger to the federal air marshal aboard.

They tried to subdue the person, they tried to calm him down, to bring him under control.  That failed, he broke for it, reached into his bag and at that moment they shot and killed this gentleman.  He is a 44-year-old American.  We are going to find out a lot more in a couple of minutes. 

It looks like three minutes from now, we‘re going to have a press conference, carried out by the Transportation Safety Administration, who are in charge, of course, of protecting our airports and our airways as well.  I‘ve got Neil Livingstone with me right now, he‘s founder and chairman of Global Options, an expert.

Just to review and set the table again, as we say here.  What happened here in terms of the protocol of what a federal air marshal‘s expected to do?

LIVINGSTONE:  Well the federal air marshal, like a police officer, has to make a very quick decision as to how to handle the situation.  In this case, there were probably two triggering events.  One that the guy apparently didn‘t follow orders to get down and to probably keep his hands out in the open.  The second that he apparently reached into his bag.  At that point, the marshals made the determination that he posed an imminent threat to the plane and they shot him.

MATTHEWS:  Because an explosive device could kill many, many people.

LIVINGSTONE:  Could kill everyone on board the plane, even though in this case the plane was on the ground, it could have very far-reaching consequences.

MATTHEWS:  Had the federal marshal, without taking his side in what will have to be the base of an inquiry—had the federal marshal not acted and there had been an explosion, he would have been blamed.

LIVINGSTONE:  If he were still alive.  The fact of the matter is, he probably would have been killed too.  So his life, like everyone else‘s, was at stake.  And so certainly he would have been blamed if there had been some kind of incident on board where people were killed or injured and he had frozen or not taken appropriate action.

MATTHEWS:  And you informed me a couple of minutes ago that the rule of engagement is to shoot to kill?

LIVINGSTONE:  Shoot to kill.  There is an old diddy that Delta uses when they take down a plane, our Delta force people.  It‘s two to the body, one to the head makes you good and dead.  And that was because a terrorist that is just wounded are capable of still detonating an explosive can still carry out his or her attack.  And so, you want to shoot to kill because you want to incapacitate that individual so that they cannot detonate the bomb or pull the pin on the grenade or whatever it might be.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s so cinematic in a way, as tragic as it is, that someone might in their last couple of minutes of life, would reach over and pull a plug. 

LIVINGSTONE:  Well you know, I was talking with someone who was in Iraq not long ago and a suicide bomber came up the street, turned right into their building and they opened fire on him.  And when they got over to the car, they said that his thumb was still trying to press the detonator and they had to shoot him again, and he‘d already been shot like five or six times. 

MATTHEWS:  He was still automatically, almost by his nervous system, still trying to accomplish his mission.

LIVINGSTONE:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re looking the suspect right now.  That‘s the 44-year-old American citizen, Rigoberto Alpizar, who was traveling from Medellin, Colombia today and the plane landed at Miami International Airport, one of the great airports of this country.  And you‘ve got to admit, one of the most international airports I‘ve ever been in.  It‘s very pan-American.  And this incident occurred as the plane had landed, it was on the airfield. 

He had a dispute with his face, who‘s standing right below him there.  He‘s suffering from a mental condition, he‘s bipolar, which I want to learn about that as the day progresses here. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s suffering from a mental condition;  He is bipolar, which I‘m going to learn more about that as the day progresses here.  He is bipolar and he began to yell that he had a bomb in his bag.  He was taken into a situation in the first class compartment and interviewed, but broke away from the interview, apparently reached into his bag, yelled something and it looked like he may well be ready to detonate the bomb, the explosive device that would have killed everyone.  The federal air marshall, acting lickety-split, shot him to kill him.  Will this be in the training manual?  I expect it will. 

LIVINGSTON:  Yeah.  You have to remember, once again, this is the first time an air marshall has ever used deadly force on board an aircraft.  And this is an old program; it‘s been around for decades.  You can bet this is going to be analyzed 18 different ways.  There will be an inquiry and if the air marshall turns out to have done everything by the book, obviously it‘s going to be in the training manuals. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re watching right now as reporters have gathered quickly at the international airport down in Miami.  Obviouslly the weather is a little warmer down there than it is up here.  I expect—how many air marshalls are there traveling in the air right now? 

LIVINGSTON:  No one knows, because we don‘t have enough air marshalls for all the planes, so you have to keep the bad guys guessing.  The presumption is, there may be an air marshall on board.  But we don‘t have enough air marshalls for all the planes. 

MATTHEWS:  You would think that if they were of limited number—which everything is on this planet, of limited number—that they would be on the big planes traveling the big distances.

LIVINGSTON:  Actually, I travel to New York from Washington every week and I almost always see two air marshalls on the shuttle.  And no matter what shuttle I‘m on—

MATTHEWS:  Do you wink?  How do you know them? 

LIVINGSTON:  If you travel as much as I do—I think I‘ve had 85 trips this year already by plane—you can pick out the air marshalls. 


LIVINGSTON:  First of all, they often get on the plane first.  They go up and show their credentials and get on board before anyone else. 

MATTHEWS:  So they‘re sitting there as you get into the plane, you go, I get it. 

LIVINGSTON:  They are of a certain age and their certain look. 

MATTHEWS:  Military style—military cut? 

LIVINGSTON:  Generally, yes.  Young men, for the most part—although there are women.  And they generally tend to be around 30 years old.  They sit—there‘s always one in first class, if not two, because they control the front of the aircraft.  And that‘s an issue that the airlines have raised, is they are losing two revenue seats in the front of the aircraft, which are their big revenue seats where the nondiscretionary passengers are.

MATTHEWS:  But doesn‘t it—if you are someone, a bad guy—you call them a terrorist—and you get on a plane, and a lot of planes only have a few first class seats.  Some of them only have like eight, some may have 12.  They don‘t have big compartments like they do on some planes.  Wouldn‘t that limit the number of possibilities, if you were a terrorist, in figuring out which one was which, if they‘re all in first class?

LIVINGSTON:  It is one of the problems you can see with the program right now, is that they are not as discrete as they should be.  What you want is, if there is a hijacker or hijackers on board, you want those individuals to have to guess who the air marshalls are on board the aircraft.  I think today, if you watch very carefully and so on at an airport the boarding process, if you know something about how this program works and so on, most of it has already been in the media, then you can pick out the air marshalls.  I think that‘s one of the deficiencies of the program. 

MATTHEWS:  Yeah, I can see, what, a Stephen Segal-type movie, where they just come in and shoot the air marshall.  Just like that.

LIVINGSTON:  That‘s what you don‘t want to happen, is that they—I‘m in the security business and you don‘t want the body guards to be so noticeable that they get shot first and then they shoot the subject.  And that‘s also the problem with the air marshall program.

MATTHEWS:  Mary Schiavo (ph) joins us right now.  She‘s a former Department of Transportation inspector general.  Mary, thank you for joining us on quick notice.  What do you make of the situation as you see its contour so far? 

MARY SCHIAVO, FRMR DOT INSPCTOR GENERAL:  So far as it has unfolded, the air marshalls did literally what they have to do under federal regulation.  They always do travel in pairs, so it‘s not surprising if there was more than one who did fire on the suspect.  When I was inspector general, I had federal armed law enforcement officers—the federal policy is you only draw your weapon when absolutely necessary to defend deadly situation and you must shoot to kill, no warning shots allowed.  So they performed what they had to do. 

It‘s unfortunate this person was—apparently had a mental problem, was ill, but that has happened before, too.  So this is not the first time that situation was encountered.  And we‘re—this is looking more like El Al-style security—El Al air marshalls have shot and killed persons in flight to stop a terrorist attack. 

MATTHEWS:  This is an El Al flight? 

SCHIAVO:  No, I said this is like El Al-style security.  El Al has had to do that.  They have had to take people out in flight to save the plane.

MATTHEWS:  Sure, Israeli airlines—I‘ve flown it.  They‘re very tough on security.  Let me ask you about what this tells passengers about what a hair-trigger situation they face, if they decide to fool around. 

SCHIAVO:  Absolutely.  You make an extremely good point.  I was on a flight last week where someone had to be taken off.  Passengers have to understand that flights are life-and-death situations—and they always were—but after 9/11, you really can‘t cause disturbances.  You need to take your medication.  If you have problems—this is not the first time someone with a supposed bipolar disorder—the altitude affects it, the pressurization effects it.  You really need to consult, if you have these problems, because these are hair-trigger situations, particularly if someone says the word “bomb,” because the TSA is very sensitive to that.

Last week they anounced they had difficulty still spotting explosives, finding explosives—that‘s why they let some sharps back on.  So it‘s a very, very difficult situation.  You have to remember, federal air marshalls, if they draw their weapon, they only shoot to kill. 

MATTHEWS:  We are talking about the shooting, the deadly shooting by a federal air marshall—one of two aboard a flight arriving from Medellin, Colombia, at Miami International Airport this afternoon around 2:00, where the passengers are still available, I guess.  The body has yet to be removed. 

Let me ask you about the detonation of the baggage.  Even after it became clear, I guess, today—if I say I guess, I guess I‘m not sure—that the passenger was suffering from a mental disease, why do you believe they went ahead and detonated the baggage? 

SCHIAVO:  They must.  That‘s their procedure, whether he was ill or not, you risk not only passengers in the airports but federal law enforcement officials if they just opened it and looked in.  They really had no way of knowing, and that is standard procedure.  Usually they call the bomb squard to take it off of the airport property.  But they do that; that‘s their procedure and that‘s the way they have done it since before 9/11.

MATTHEWS:  Are you satisfied we have enough air marshalls to do the job that we saw done today, when necessary?

SCHIAVO:  No, we don‘t.  We don‘t.  It‘s been publicly released.  They have about 2,000.  But on 9/11, we had 33, something I complained about when I was inspector general.  We have 28,000 flights in the U.S. today, so we don‘t have enough.  But this will go a long way to reminding people that, even 2,000 can—sometimes they can be present when something‘s urgent and necessary.  So 2,000 is better than 33, but I think that we need more. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you again—my most recurring question—could we have stopped 9/11 with the firepower we saw today? 

SCHIAVO:  Absolutely, without a doubt.  We could have stopped 9/11, not only with the firepower we saw today, but we should have stopped 9/11 at security, with proper security procedures.  Absolutely.  I have never wavered from the statement that 9/11 should have been and could have been stopped. 

MATTHEWS:  So Mohammed Atta should not have been been able to get on a plane up in Portland, Maine? 

SCHIAVO:  Atta faced very, very—literally, none.  Mohammed Atta really faced no security when he went through the Portland airport.  It was astonishingly bad—stunningly bad.  The equipment, the whole lack of emphasis on security whatsoever.  And of course at that time, no chance at all that he would have faced an air marshall because at that time they only flew on special flights, mostly international flights and usually on special circumstances:  VIP escort—sometimes they only flew for training. 

On that particular day, on 9/11, he really faced no security. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the training of federal marshalls on these planes, because it seems to be a lonely job, a tedious job.  But perhaps once in your career, if you are not lucky, you have to make the decision that those federal marshalls made today down in Miami—at that plane we‘re looking at right now—to kill somebody.  Would you recommend this career to someone young, in their 20‘s?  It sounds like a brutal career in terms of mental alertness, there were qualities of judgment that are required on a splilt second, and all those other factors we can now imagine.

SCHIAVO:  Absolutely.  And the agents have raised some of these concerns.  I mean, kudos to the agents about the long stretches of boredom, the difficulties encountered in the traveling—they even complained about being forced to comply with some sort of a dress code, because they need to blend in, as today‘s flight points out.  And so they face a very dificult job.  It‘s extremely difficult.  And the ideal situation is they never have to do it. 

But obviously what‘s going to happen now—it happens whenever there is a federal law enforcement shooting—there will be an inquest to determine if deadly force was properly used.  It appears that it was, but there will be an inquest to determine that.  They will have to go through that.  They will undoubtedly not be flying, and those particular officers involved.  So even after this instance, their actions will be questioned once again. 

Very tough job, and no, I don‘t imagine after today, lots of people will be lining up for it.  But you never know, and we do need more. 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know.  Sometimes this kind of drama makes people aware of a position they wouldn‘t have normally been aware of. 

Let me get back to Neil Livingston about that.  Mental acuity, how does an agent, whose job it is to sit on an airplane for a mindless length of time—perhaps seven- or eight-hour flight—and at the same time be ready in the seventh hour to make a judgment of life and death in seconds?

LIVINGSTON:  It‘s very hard to do, particularly if you are on a long flight, you‘ve had something to eat, it‘s late at night, you fall asleep. 

But they‘ve got to be prepared to go

LIVINGSTONE:  And if they nod of, they have to be able to react very, very quickly.  They are supposed to stay alert.  We know it may be impossible on every flight all the time. 

But quite frankly, I have yet to see as much as I travel, an air marshal that I picked out that has been doing something that they shouldn‘t be doing or sleeping on the plane.  They seem to be very, very well trained and very well supervised. 

MATTHEWS:  Mary you happy with the screening?  We just had a report by the 9/11 commission in regard to this whole question about who gets on airplanes and who doesn‘t. 

Are you happy with the screening that says you just have to flash a driver‘s license which we‘ve all learned you can get without being a legal citizen or legal resident?  Are you happy with that screening system? 

SCHIAVO:  No, I‘m not.  Even before 9‘11 many people were examining the issue of whether everyone should travel with passports or special screening for people who are not U.S. citizens. 

Of course that doesn‘t‘s solve the problems either.  Now we have U.S.  domestic terrorists and in some cases because of illegal entry.  But it‘s a multi-faceted program.  We need emphasis and better computer backup.  We need to know who the people are and to keep better records.  And that‘s one of the problems they are attempting to solve. 

They have improved.  I have to say that the T.S.A. has definitely improved homeland security on coordinating the law enforcement data bases from various states and from around the globe. 

They are now able to do things and to pick up persons—had some experience with that situation a few weeks ago, where they picked up someone who was wanted for sometime.  They are better able to do that. 

We need more definitive identification and what we really need is a fingerprint or something more permanent.  We have to have some sort of a scan that will positively identify.  The capability is there for fingerprints, but we have to get it. 

MATTHEWS:  You might as well be showing your Mickey Mouse Club card to get these airplanes because these driver‘s licenses don‘t mean a thing.  Let me ask about the capabilities and the seriousness of other countries in dealing with this. 

Colombia, for example, this guy is bipolar, he has a mental disorder, whether it was evident or not when he boarded the plane, would somebody have stopped him, necessarily, if they saw a man a somewhat disorderly fashion, getting on the plane down there in Colombia? 

SCHIAVO:  Probably not, the flight attendants and the airline have that capability too—usually they are looking for people who are drunk, or people who pose a threat. 

If his medicine wore off in flight, and as I mentioned, flights have an effect on some of the bipolar and other psychotic type medicines, he could have been fine getting on and deteriorated during the flight, but they have little power to do that, unless they have some sort of a suspicion and ordinarily people who are sick, even if you have the flu, you don‘t volunteer that. 

They don‘t have a lot of leeway to do that unless you are noticeably acting drunk or strange. 

MATTHEWS:  Any minute now, we are going to be hearing from the Transportation Safety Administration, their officials.  We are going to hear from hem in Miami.  We are watching the press now gather, waiting for this press conference to find out exactly what happened on that airline as it landed at Miami from Medellin, Colombia.

A man was shot dead at the age of 44, an American citizen.  He was causing quite a threat to that plane by talking about having a bomb in hand and then reaching into his bag in a way that suggested he might have been about to trigger that.  He was then shot dead by one of the two federal marshals aboard. 

LIVINGSTONE:  The problem is airlines are concerned about their liability issues and some airlines have been sued for not letting people on board the aircraft. 

Richard Reid, the so-called “Shoe Bomber,” when he tried to get on board the flight from France to the United States, he was denied boarding the first time, because he was behaving very erratically. 

As one of the passengers said, that can‘t be a terrorist because he looked so much like a terrorist, nobody would be that stupid.  The amazing thing was he came back the next day and they put him on the flight. 

MATTHEWS:  He was the one with the dangerous shoes? 

LIVINGSTONE:  That‘s right, he had a bomb in his shoes.  He was trying to light the explosive in his shoe or detonate it. 

MATTHEWS:  Wouldn‘t you think that would stand out, a shoe that was carrying a bomb would look different than a regular shoe? 

LIVINGSTONE:  He had those big trainers on, athletic shoes that had been hallowed out. 

MATTHEWS:  Air Jordans that had been filled with detonating device? 

LIVINGSTONE:  Exactly.  That‘s why they check your shoes. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s funny, but it‘s horrible.  The idea of sitting next to someone and noticing their shoes are different and wondering what exactly is going on. 

In this case, this group of passengers aboard this plane coming into Miami and landing there, were listening to a fight between a husband and wife which must have been quite a spectacle.  At which point the husband raced towards the front of the plane. 

He was subdued by two federal air marshals and then sent down and began to question him, according to our reporter in Miami.  At which point he broke loose from them, reached into his bag and did something to suggest, maybe just that, that he was going to blow up that plane. 

At that point, one of the two federal air marshals, reached in and pulled out his gun or her gun and shot him dead.  What a dramatic moment for some people to have watched on that plane. 

LIVINGSTONE:  It certainly was.  And as we heard as well, a lot of passengers weren‘t even aware of what was going on.  This incident, when it really came down—probably came down very quickly—came down the decision to fire. 

They may have tried to talk to the man for a minute, subdue him, get him under control, and it may have seemed like a relatively ordinary incident. 

You have to remember they were still on the ground, too.  So there was still the possibility of taking the man off the plane and taking care of him.  But then the situation deteriorated, apparently, the second time.  And that‘s when they made the decision to shoot him, because he did not obey the officers‘ orders and he apparently reached into his carry-on luggage in a way that would suggest he would be detonating an explosive device. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s see how this purports to the legislative intent from congress.  We‘ve go Edward Markey, Democrat from Massachusetts, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, a ranking member. 

Congressman Markey, is this the way the law is intended to be carried out as we watch today? 

REP. ED MARKEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS:  The air marshals have a responsibility to protect passengers on planes and they had to exercise their best judgment. 

It is a rare incident, but when it happens, these air marshals are hired and committed to the protection of the public safety. 

MATTHEWS:  I was surprised, we‘re all learning everything today, there were two of these assigned per airplane.  Do we have enough per flight? 

MARKEY:  We don‘t have enough air marshals to, in fact, ensure that every flight in the United States has one.  They are on flights that are considered to be high risk and also on other random flights across the country, but that‘s a budget that should be increased, without question. 

Obviously what happened today could happen anywhere in the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this air marshals program proceeding along the course we expect it to?  This today in Miami at 2:00 this afternoon was the first time, apparently, we are told, that an air marshal has had to use firepower, use lethal weaponry to subdue someone, in this case killing them dead on the spot.  Is this working the way you hoped it would when you legislated this program? 

MARKEY:  It is working.  These men and women are very dedicated.  I speak to them frequently on the flights as they are waiting on the flights.  I can identify who they are and they are a committed group of people. 

But the air marshals themselves believe the program is going backwards.  They are, in fact, protesting, along with the flight attendants, the decision by the Bush administration last week to allow scissors back onto:  scissors that can be turned into two knives in the hands of a potential terrorist.  And the air marshals are protesting this decision. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is lobbying for scissors on airplanes? 

MARKEY:  That is the inexplicable part of all of this.  As far as air marshals and flight attendants and the families of the victims of 9/11 are concerned, the safeguards have been working.  We haven‘t seen incidents.  What happened today was very rare.

Why would we make it possible for people to bring very dangerous instruments back into the passenger cabin and make the job of air marshals and flight attendants even more difficult? 

MATTHEWS:  The weapon used by the 9/11 terrorists was a box cutter. 

That seems to be less dangerous than scissors. 

MARKEY:  Mohammed Atta and the other nine terrorists who hijacked the two planes in Boston that destroyed the World Trade Center used box cutters.  There is no difference in terms of the lethality of a box cutter and a scissors that is taken apart that is four inches long that could kill an air marshal or a flight attendant and then wreak whatever additional havoc they want on that plane. 

I think it‘s a bad decision and taking the whole system backwards.  If we need more screeners, we should find the money for more screeners, but we shouldn‘t be taking dangerous, lethal sharp instruments off the protected list and allowing them into the passenger cabins.  It only makes the decisions which air marshals have to make even more difficult. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Markey, are air marshals indemnified?  In other words when they make a decision to shoot to kill like this, are they protected against litigation?  Are they protected in this very difficult decision that was made this afternoon?

MARKEY:  You know that‘s a good question, Chris.  I can‘t tell you the answer to it.  I just don‘t know.  I‘m sure if they‘re acting in good faith.

MATTHEWS:  ... in this very difficult decision that was made this afternoon.

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  You know, that‘s a good question Chris, and I can‘t tell you the answer to it.  I just don‘t know.  I‘m sure if they‘re acting in good faith, I‘m sure if they‘re acting with all of the best intentions that they are protected, but I just can‘t tell you the extent to which they are given full legal protection.

MATTHEWS:  Air traffic is international, Congressman Markey, and of course this flight was coming from Medellin, Colombia.  Is there an international protocol, is there real international enforcement, I should ask, with regard to screening passengers?  This guy apparently suffered of a mental illness, a bipolar patient out of control on the airplane. 

Would there have been a way to make sure he wasn‘t out of control when he entered the plane.  Are we sure that Colombia and the other airports around the world are operating in an intelligent fashion?

MARKEY:  Again, one of the most serious criticisms which the 9/11 Commission leveled on Monday of this week is that we still do not have an integrated one-stop shopping terrorist list, that can be checked to make sure that before people get on to planes, before they fly, they have been checked. 

Unfortunately, in too many instances, they begin to fly and then the checking is still going on.  And that was a very, very, one of the top three criticisms, which the 9/11 Commission had of the Department of Homeland Security. 

MATTHEWS:  While we have you, Congressman, what was your reaction to the 9/11 Commission report yesterday that talked about—it gave sort of high school grades to various categories of reform, which we‘ve seen since 9/11.  And it gave the president‘s—the administration, I should say, a lot of F‘s.  Could you talk about where you saw the problems still in airline safety?

MARKEY:  Well again, we don‘t—the Bush administration still does not require the screening of six billion pounds of cargo which is placed on passenger planes, under the feet of passengers who have taken off their shoes and had their own bags inspected.

That six billion pounds of cargo goes onto passenger planes every year in the United States, uninspected.  They‘re lowering the standards for bringing scissors and other dangerous sharp instruments into the passenger cabin.  And rather than asking for more screeners, for more technology, they‘re saying that we can‘t afford it. 

But unfortunately, 9/11 was a warning to our country, it was a hard attack and we should put the prevention in place that avoids the second heart attack, the second terrorist attack.  The 9/11 Commission was saying that that has not been done.

MATTHEWS:  Not to beat a dead horse, Congressman Markey, but why would you need a pair of scissors on an airplane?

MARKEY:  That‘s the question I think that all Americans will be asking as they fly during this holiday season.  They put their loved ones on planes.  Why should an air marshal have to look across the aisle of someone who is pulling out a pair of scissors and wondering whether or not they are a potential terrorist.

It‘s a question that they haven‘t had to ask for four years and beginning on December 20, five days before Christmas, once again, air marshals will have to worry about box-cutter like devices, sharp scissors being in the hands of individuals on planes.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Congressman Edward Markey, a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.  Thanks for joining us, Sir. 

Let‘s go right back.  We‘ve got a new person joining us right now, who really knows what they‘re talking about in this particular question of how this air marshal behaved in shooting to death this passenger, this 44-year-old American passenger coming in from Colombia—Medellin, Colombia, into Miami Airport this afternoon.

Jamie Smith.  Jamie, let me ask you, tell me about the behavior of our air marshal this afternoon. 

JAMIE SMITH, FORMER AIR MARSHAL INSTRUCTOR:  Hi, Chris.  The air marshal, when he‘s on the aircraft, they‘ll work in teams and the air marshal is looking for three things in order to be able to engage the threat. 

He is looking for opportunity, capability and intent.  He is looking to see if the passenger in question has the opportunity to commit harm.  In other words, is he in proximity to the cockpit or in proximity to do some damage to the aircraft?  The capability side, he‘s looking to see, does the passenger in question possess the ability to commit the harm, in other words, does he have a weapon?


SMITH:  The third thing...

MATTHEWS:  ... well here we have the wording, bomb, “I‘ve got a bomb.” 

That is the weapon, isn‘t it in this case, simply the wording?

SMITH:  Well that hits the third point, and that‘s the intent.  Did he manifest the intent to commit harm.  If you verbalize the fact that you‘ve got a weapon like that, like a bomb, that pretty much takes out all three of those: opportunity, capability, and intent.

MATTHEWS:  Because all he had was a bag and words he spoke.  He didn‘t have a bomb, apparently, he simply said he did.

SMITH:  Right.  And then—you know, it‘s the unknown.  What you‘re looking for on the aircraft, the way we trained the air marshals was, as they‘re moving throughout the cockpit or is moving throughout the cabin of the aircraft, you are looking at the hands of the passenger in question. 

If they bring out a weapon, such as a pistol or a knife.  That‘s an obvious weapon and you can respond to that with lethal force.  But if you‘ve got something like a bomb, it will be concealed in a bag, if you can get it on board the aircraft, which is not hard to do.  And it‘s the unknown.  You can trigger the device without actually having to put your hands in the device.  It can be anywhere on your body.

MATTHEWS:  What do you do—what do you tell people to do in training when they have a passenger who is making wild threats like that, with no real evidence except he has a bag in his hand.  How do they know what he has, how do they know how quickly to subdue them?  I mean, should they shoot him the minute he says, “I‘ve got a bomb,” or wait for his hand to move?

SMITH:  Well, on that you‘ve got two different types of passengers.  You know, as far as the threat passengers, you‘ve got people that are just unruly, you know, that are drunk.  And then in that case, you‘re going to subdue them and take their seat belts and hook them bodily down to their seat so they can‘t do anything, can‘t hurt anybody. 

But when it comes to somebody that is—you know, it‘s obvious that they are going to damage the aircraft, they are going to damage the passengers, then what you‘re talking about then is, you‘re watching the hands of the guy, you‘re giving him orders and you‘re trying to get him to get down on the ground so that you can subdue him or get down in the aisles because these aisles are 21 inches wide. 

And if he does not respond, then it‘s the shoot situation comes to that point, especially if you‘re in the air.  As far as the firing inside the cockpit—if you shoot a hole through the skin of the airplane, the airplane is not going to disintegrate.  It‘s not going to come apart in the air.  So, you‘re looking at the hands of the guy and if he makes some motion with his hands that leads you to believe that he is about to trigger a device...

MATTHEWS:  OK, Jamie we‘ve got to go.  Jamie Smith, thank you much for joining us.  One of the trainers of these federal air marshals.  Now we‘re going to have this press conference down in Miami to tell us, as best they can tell us, what happened this afternoon on that flight coming in from Colombia.  Here in comes.

JAMES E. BAUER, AGENT IN CHARGE OF FEDERAL MARSHALS:  James E. Bauer, b-a-u-e-r, I‘m the special agent in charge of the Federal Air Marshal Service Miami field office.  Director Bobby Parker, p-a-r-k-e-r, Miami-Dade Police Department.  ASAC Andy Apollony, a-p-o-l-l-o-n-y. 

Oh, I‘m sorry, forgive me.  I thought you could hear me.  I‘m starting over, OK, I‘m going to speak up big time this time.

My name is James E. Bauer, b-a-u-e-r, I‘m the special agent in charge of the Federal Air Marshal Service Miami field office.  Also with us today here are Director Bobby Parker, p-a-r-k-e-r, the Miami-Dade Police Department and ASAC Andy Apollony, a-p-o-l-l-o-n-y of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Also here is Federal Security Director Rick Thomas, TSA, in charge of TSA‘s operations here at Miami International Airport.

We‘re going to make a short statement about what happened here today and then I‘ll take a few questions.  However, I want to caution you that this investigation is still underway.  So we really don‘t have all the answers to all the questions that you might want to ask of us.

May I start?  At approximately 2:10 this afternoon, American Airlines flight 924 was boarding at gate D42, it was in boarding process.  An individual later, tentatively identified as Rigoberto Alpizar, age 44, was boarding that aircraft as well. 

At some point, he uttered threatening words, that included a sense, in the effect that he had a bomb.  There were federal air marshals on board the aircraft.  They came out of their cover, confronted him and he remained noncompliant with their instructions.  As he was attempting to evade them, his actions caused the FAMS to fire shots and in fact, he is deceased.

The Miami-Dade Police Department responded to this event, and in fact are conducting the shooting investigation.  The FBI also responded to this and that a crime was committed aboard an American carrier aircraft and they have jurisdiction in that matter, and to see whether or not there‘s a nexus to terrorism. 

I will also tell you that the plane was cleared of all passengers and the possessions that were in the deceased‘s possessions have been examined by Miami-Dade Police Department bomb squad and have been cleared.  There were no explosives involved, that we‘re aware of, at least on this plane.

We have an investigation underway.  There is no reason to believe right now that there is any nexus to terrorism, or that indeed any other events are associated with this one.