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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
Petraeus Sex Scandal; Fiscal Cliff Compromise?; Obama Honors Military On Veterans Day; BBC News Director and Deputy Out; Falcons No Longer Undefeated; Still Cold, Still In The Dark; Retailers Opening Early in Thanksgiving; Parents Appeal For Release Of Journalist Son
Aired November 12, 2012 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: (voice-over): Sex scandal at the CIA. Lawmakers are now questioning who knew what and when about David Petraeus and his extramarital affair and whether it put security at risk.
ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hurdling toward the fiscal cliff. Lawmakers leaving the door open for compromise in Congress.
O'BRIEN: Road rage on the NASCAR track. A crash leads to a wild melee between pit crews on live television.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN (on-camera): That was crazy.
CHO (on-camera): It was crazy.
O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
CHO: Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho. John and Zoraida have the day off today. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. So glad you're sitting next to me.
O'BRIEN: It's so nice to be with you.
CHO: You know, people don't know this. We are old friends.
O'BRIEN: We are young friends but for a long time.
CHO: That's right.
O'BRIEN: Up first this morning, new details about that chain of events that cost the CIA director David Petraeus' job. He stepped down after he admitted an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The affair came to light in an FBI investigation that was triggered by Broadwell's threatening e-mails to a Petraeus family friend. Now, lawmakers are questioning Petraeus' version of the events, demanding to know why they were left in the dark about the FBI probe, and also any potential threat to national security.
Brings us right to CNN Barbara Starr, she's live at the Pentagon for us this morning. Barbara, good morning.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Well, as the days have mounted since Petraeus' resignation, so do the questions.
STARR (voice-over): Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are questioning the timing behind the revelation. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said an FBI employee told him in October about the Petraeus affair. By that time, an FBI investigation was already under way.
The FBI told the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on election night, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official. The White House says it was notified the day after the election and the president the following day. That doesn't make sense to House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY: It seems this has been going on for several months and yet now it appears that they're saying that the FBI didn't realize until Election Day, General Petraeus was involved. It just doesn't add up.
STARR: "The New York Times" reports the FBI actually started its investigation late this summer. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees were also caught by surprise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to investigate why the FBI didn't notify you before?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D-CA) CHAIRWOMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this is something that could have had an effect on national security. I think we should have been told.
STARR: The FBI was investigating harassing e-mails from Petraeus' biographer. The trail led to Paula Broadwell, who co-wrote "All In", a biography of Petraeus. Broadwell described her extraordinary access to the general earlier this year on CNN.
PAULA BROADWELL, AUTHOR, "ALL IN": At some point, I think he realized I was taking this research very seriously. I was sharing hardship with the troops and risk and so forth and decided to open up a little bit more access. But we had a relationship before I went there, as far as this dissertation was concerned, so it just took it to another level.
STARR: The end result was a flattering biography, summed up this way when she appeared on "The Daily Show" to promote it.
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": The real controversy here, is he awesome or incredibly awesome? STARR: Broadwell is a married mother of two. She's an honors graduate of West Point, a retired Army reserve major who served for 15 years.
Petraeus resigned Friday, admitting to cheating on his wife of 38 years, Holly, and citing, quote, "extremely poor judgment." A U.S. official says Petraeus was never the target of the investigation, and his communications were never compromised.
STARR: Now, Petraeus was scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill later this week, about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, a very controversial matter. He was supposed to talk about what he knew and when he knew it.
Now, it will, of course, will be his deputy, and it remains to be seen whether Congress will make the extraordinary step of issuing a subpoena to compel him to appear at some point -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Thank you, Barbara.
More, much more on the Petraeus scandal will happen later this morning on "STARTING POINT." I'm going to be talking with CNN military analyst James "Spider" Marks and retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt about that topic.
ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Fifty days left in 2012, 50 crucial days left until America goes over the so-called fiscal cliff and more signs this morning that we could see a deal. The big news this weekend was conservative pundit and "Weekly Standard" editor, Bill Kristol telling Republicans it was time to fall on their sword.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: The leadership in the conservative movement has to pull back, let people float new ideas, let's have serious debate. Don't scream and yell when one person says it won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.
It really won't I don't think. I really don't understand why Republicans don't take Obama's offer to raise taxes on everyone. Really the Republican Party is going to fall on their sword for millionaires, half of them who voted Democratic and half of them who live in Hollywood?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: All right, but the question remains, what would a deal look like and is there time left this year to put a deal together?
My guest says, yes, Jonathan Allen is a senior Washington correspondent for "Politico" who joins us from Washington this morning. Good to see you. Good morning. Let's talk a little bit more about that. This fiscal cliff is what everyone is concerned about. Talking about tax hikes and spending cuts that will affect 90 percent of Americans. I think everyone agrees there will be some sort of compromise, right? But what do you think it will look like?
JONATHAN ALLEN, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "POLITICO": I think likely you're probably looking at a short-term fix. It seems unlikely that they'll be able to get something done before they go home for the year.
But you're looking at a president who's calling for what he says is a balanced approach where you would raise some taxes, cut some spending to replace some of the things that are about to happen as part of the fiscal cliff.
Including the sequestration, including the expiring tax cuts, but you've got House Republicans who still say they don't want to raise rates on individual income taxes and other taxes, so there's still -- still some distance to be bridged between these two sides.
CHO: The president says he's willing to compromise, though and you heard what Bill Kristol said. It's time for Republicans to fall on their swords. So, I just want you to talk a little bit more specifics, if you had to look into that crystal ball there, who is going to give a little bit more in this negotiation?
ALLEN: Look, I think there's already been some give. We saw this in 2011, they came very close to an agreement, and they sort of blew up at the end, the gang of six had suggested there was more revenue available than the president was about to agree to, and he walked away from it.
And then Boehner walked away from it. So we've seen the outline of what a deal would look like, and it would be revenue above what most of the Republicans wanted. I think they're going to have to give something.
The question is where do they get that revenue? What taxes go up? Which people have to pay taxes now that aren't paying taxes now? We forget that there are a lot of corporations that don't pay taxes. A lot of them find ways around elements of the tax code. We call them loopholes.
So you know, there's a lot of negotiating room here for both sides. The other thing is not only is the president talking about compromise, he's talking about campaigning. Sounds like I was reading a report this morning.
I believe it was in "The New York Times." About how he's ready to go out on the campaign trail essentially to rally people around his view of a balanced approach.
CHO: The president, as you know, will meet with top congressional leaders at the White House on Friday. What do you think we can expect from that meeting? I mean, do you think there will be some real work there? Is this going to be a real starting point in terms of real negotiation?
ALLEN: I think this is really more about setting a tone for congressional leaders. This is more about telling them that he wants to strike a deal, that this is part of his early second term agenda.
That he was re-elected, that he wants to work with them. But generally speaking when you have a big photo opportunity to put congressional leaders into the White House, it's not about talking details. It's more about setting the tone and the parameters of the debate.
CHO: All right, Jonathan Allen, senior Washington correspondent for "Politico." Thanks so much.
ALLEN: Take care.
CHO: Coming up on "STARTING POINT," Soledad will talk to the man with no new taxes pledge. Grover Norquist, about whether the GOP will budge on this.
O'BRIEN: He may not be as agreeable to the budging as we heard over the weekend. Today of course, is a work holiday for many in honor of Veterans Day, which was actually technically on Sunday.
President Obama saluting America's military heroes. The president laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday, paid tribute to the sacrifice of service members. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this day we thank all of our veterans from all of our wars. Not just for your service to this country, but for reminding us why America is and always will be the greatest nation on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: The president also said that this is the first Veteran's Day in 10 years with no American troops who are serving in Iraq.
CHO: "The New York Times" says it's moving forward with its brand-new CEO Mark Thompson, despite a scandal rocking his former employer, the BBC.
The British broadcaster's director of news, Helen Bowden, is stepping aside, as is her deputy, Steve Mitchell, after a BBC report wrongly linked a former conservative politician to child abuse. The head of the BBC, George Entwistle, resigned over the weekend.
O'BRIEN: After winning their first eight games, the Atlanta Falcons are no longer the only undefeated team in the NFL. The Falcons fell to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Score was 31-27. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees looked amazing tossing three touchdown passes as he let the Saints to victory over the Falcons.
CHO: Who knew you were such a big football fan?
O'BRIEN: The Giants can't win --
CHO: Coming up, recovery from superstorm Sandy inching along this morning, still very much a crisis for people living in the hardest-hit areas. If you live around this area, you know that. We're going to go live to New York's Rockaways coming up next.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. First there was Hurricane Sandy then that nor'easter rolled through. Two weeks after it all started people in the far Rockaway section of Queens still don't have electricity.
Not only that, it's very tough to get around. People there are out of food. They're out of supplies. They don't have medication. And in many cases, they're desperate for help.
Victor Blackwell is in far Rockaway this morning with an update for us. Victor, good morning.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Some very sad news for this community that we learned that overall in New York City the death toll from superstorm Sandy was increased to 43 and that additional person was from this community.
A 77-year-old man who died at the hospital from injuries he suffered after falling down the stairs after the storm. But, there is some good news for this community. The power came back on here, about two hours ago.
You can see over my shoulder the lights here, so there are still about 95,000 people, according to Lipa, across three counties, without power. In fact, on this side of the street, you can see there are lights, on that side of the street, not so much.
Let's show you some of the things that are here. We spoke with Dee who was here just a few moments ago about all the things that are piled up here in front of her home.
And she told us that volunteers are coming to drop off food, to drop off water, and kind of just leaving it here and it's creating a bit of a mess. We'll learn from Dee in just a moment. But if you look over here, they're also dropping off clothes.
And when we drove up we asked is this just garbage kind of piled up in the community? But there's a tarp there, and volunteers, people from across the city, are coming here just to drop of whatever they can.
But it's been sitting out in the elements. I don't know if you can see it. It looks like snow, but it's really mist, this deep, thick fog here. It's also making it very dangerous to drive around -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: It's hard to believe that we're starting the third week now and people are only now just getting their power on. What, what's the government, the state government trying to do in terms of relief because, I don't think everybody realizes the degree which people are hurting there still.
BLACKWELL: Well, yes, certainly still hurting here. And Governor Andrew Cuomo is working on a $30 billion package, submitting it to the federal government for relief to help with the transportation system, preparing the state for some type of catastrophe, there's no other word for it, like this in the future, so there aren't these long gas lines.
Now, we will find out because there's a lame duck session and there are these fights over spending, how much of that money will come in. But again the request will be for about $30 billion we're hearing from state officials.
O'BRIEN: Wow. It will be interesting to see if that actually gets approved.
Victor Blackwell for us this morning -- Victor, great to have you. We appreciate it.
CHO: All right. It's 15 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date on the news headlines.
What did they know and when did they know it? Lawmakers demanding answers from the CIA, the FBI, and the White House, about the events leading to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus. He stepped down on Friday after admitting an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. The affair came to light because of an FBI investigation into alleged threatening e-mails that Broadwell was sending to another woman, a Petraeus family friend.
O'BRIEN: Devastating blast to tell you about, seemingly coming out of nowhere. Authorities in Indianapolis are trying to determine what caused an explosion. This is the aftermath you're looking at, left two people dead.
Neighborhoods shattered. The blast and a fire ball leveled two homes. It happened over the weekend.
Dozens of other homes were damaged. Hundreds of residents had to be evacuated and the damage is estimated to be more than $3.5 million. They still don't know exactly what caused it.
CHO: Check out this flooding in Venice, Italy. The city surrounded by water anyway but this is getting a little bit ridiculous. Venetians and tourists having to slog through waist-high water. An astounding 70 percent of the city is flooded.
The Tuscan region, that's about 250 miles to the south, also dealing with flooding after intense storms moved through that area.
O'BRIEN: Did you see this brawl on the weekend? Wreck on the track leads to this all-out brawl happened on Sunday, NASCAR race in Phoenix. Jeff Gordon, he's number 24, intentionally takes out number 15, which is Clint Bowyer, in response to an earlier bump. When Gordon gets back to the garage area, Bowyer's crew comes after him. And the fight's on. Then Bowyer tries to confront Gordon at his hauler.
Crew members are like -- look at this. It is completely out of control.
CHO: I don't know Bowyer but you know I have met Jeff Gordon a few times. He's such a nice guy. It's hard to believe this would happen. But they get competitive on the track.
O'BRIEN: Wow, you think like ice hockey more than NASCAR for the brawling out of the vehicles.
CHO: That's right.
O'BRIEN: One of the biggest travel challenges can be figuring out a way to stay online when you're on the road. More and more, though, there are ways to get Wi-Fi to stay connected wherever you are.
And Alison Kosik has more on that in today's "Road Warriors." Good morning.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
You know, there are a multitude of ways to get online when you're traveling beginning with your smartphone. Apps like Wi-Fi track and free Wi-Fi. They can track down the closest wireless hot spots and figure out which ones are strongest and help you find ones that are free.
You can also buy your own hot spot and take it with you. You can get them from most mobile providers and they link to available network and then share data with nearby devices like wireless connections at home.
Another alternative, let me just show you this one first, the mobile hot spot is this one, it's the black part. So it's mobile --
CHO: Is it expensive?
KOSIK: That's a good question. I'll have to get back to you on that. But it's small and convenient. And you know what, who cares about the price if you can get what you want?
KOSIK: OK. You can also get a USB Internet stick that works for just one device like a hot spot, taps into the provider's mobile network and charges you monthly. Here's the stick right here.
O'BRIEN: That's great.
KOSIK: Everything portable and nice.
CHO: I have a jet pack. You don't have a jet pack, Soledad? O'BRIEN: I have my-fi which is kind of like jet pack.
KOSIK: I need to get one. I need to get with this. You guys already have this stuff.
OK. A few mobile networks and apps even help you tether your phone, and that means you can hook it up to your lap tap and the cell phone connects you to the Internet. Check with your cell phone company if they offer that option.
And if you're somewhere with only a hard line to the Internet, you can plug in to Apple Airport Express, that is this here, you see it's small as well. It turns one phone line into a wireless signal for up to 10 connections, so sadly there's really no excuse now for not getting your work done while you're traveling.
O'BRIEN: I don't have Internet. I can't possibly get anything done.
CHO: No worry.
O'BRIEN: Can I keep this?
KOSIK: Enjoy, ladies. There you go.
O'BRIEN: Oh, I like that.
CHO: Alison, thanks so much.
CHO: All right. Coming up: a look ahead to the opening bell on Wall Street. After what was really a rough, rough week for your 401(k). That's next.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We're minding your business. U.S. stock futures are up, indicating that the markets will be opening higher this morning. Lots of volatility, though.
CHO: That's right. Lots of volatility. That's why this is such good news. The markets are going to be about.
Alison Kosik in for Christine Romans, talking about the fiscal cliff and the markets and everything. Good morning.
KOSIK: Good morning. It is one of the certainties of the markets these days and volatility because of the looming fiscal cliff. The S&P 500, which is the best indicator for your stocks and your 401(k) fallen about 2.5 percent since Election Day.
This week, though, we're going to get several reports on the manufacturing sector and those are going to give us an update on the health of the economy, drawing attention away, maybe, from the gridlock in Washington over the fiscal cliff.
And Europe's debt crisis is also in focus this week. Greece's parliament passed a budget for 2013 last night. This is a key step that gets the country closer to $40 billion in additional bailout money from the European Union. And today, eurozone finance ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss the next step for Greece, and the overall debt problems in the region.
Add one more to the list of stores opening early. Toys "R" Us announcing it's opening early on Thanksgiving night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Forget Black Friday. It now all happens on Thursday. So that's an hour earlier than last year. The retailer says it's focusing on electronics sales, including its own tablet devices for kids.
Target and Walmart, they're also opening up earlier on Thanksgiving night this year.
You know, people want this, though. I mean, we're laughing about it, but the customers are demanding it. And the stores are bringing it. And we're laughing that you're going to be eating turkey and running to the stores, but a lot of people are going to be out there doing it.
O'BRIEN: They'll start having like a big table and you can get fried turkey in a basket, and snarf down dinner --
CHO: You know what? It makes sense.
O'BRIEN: No, it doesn't.
CHO: If you're eating dinner, I mean, I'm not one of those people, but if you're eating dinner wouldn't you rather go at night rather than wake up at 4:00 in the morning? Or you do every day.
CHO: Woke up at 3:00. All right. I'm just saying.
KOSIK: What's a good way to work off your meal? No. No one's sitting around watching TV.
O'BRIEN: Where was all the hostility that happened on Thanksgiving Day.
KOSIK: There you go. You can duke it out in the stores.
O'BRIEN: Thank you, Alison.
FBI apparently was investigating over the summer, yet the White House said it did not know about the affair involving the CIA director until after the election. The timing of that revelation and other questions in this bombshell scandal, we'll take a look at those coming up.
CHO: The Petraeus affair shakes Washington. Key lawmakers are now questioning why they weren't told, even though the FBI had been investigating for months.
O'BRIEN: An American journalist believed to be held hostage in Syria. His parents in an emotional appeal for his release.
CHO: And the new coach of the L.A. Lakers. It's not the guy everyone's been talking about. How about that? Not Phil Jackson. We're going to tell you who.
Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. Good morning. I'm Alina Cho.
O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien. John has got the day off, Zoraida's got the day off. It is 29 minutes past the hour.
The nation's capital still reeling from that abrupt resignation of the CIA director, David Petraeus, because of an affair with his biographer. It's triggered some new questions some new questions about the FBI investigation, and demands from lawmakers concerned about a possible breach of national security.
CNN's Barbara Starr is following those developments for us. She's live at the Pentagon.
So, Barbara, let's talk about that. The timing of this investigation. It has some lawmakers very unhappy.
STARR: It does, indeed, Soledad. And they're unhappy in no small part because they were so surprised by it. Many lawmakers on the Intelligence Committees, both the House and the Senate, saying they had no clue until last Friday when it really -- when it all came to light, and happened.
By all accounts, the director of national intelligence, Petraeus' boss, didn't know about it until election night, the White House was informed the next day. The president, the day after that.
How do you have the FBI looking into the affairs of your CIA director and the president isn't told about it? These are some key questions on Capitol Hill. The intelligence committee saying they're supposed to be notified of any critical development in intelligence. They didn't know about it.
Listen to Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Do you think you need to hear from Petraeus?
FEINSTEIN: We may well. And we may well ask. I think that's up to the committee. I think we should have this first hearing, which is the way they wanted to set it up. And then the committee will make the decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: She is talking about Petraeus' once expected appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday to testify about the attacks against U.S. consulate in Benghazi, a very controversial matter. Petraeus was supposed to come down about what he knew, and when he knew it about that.
Now, of course, it will be the acting director of the CIA who will appear. A political question in Washington, will Congress subpoena Petraeus at some point? Feinstein indicating it still could happen, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: All right. Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon -- thank you, Barbara. Appreciate it.
CHO: President Obama honoring America's veterans in a wreath-laying ceremony to mark Veterans Day. The president marked the solemn occasion at Arlington National Cemetery, applauding the service of those who have gone above and beyond to serve their country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Today, a proud nation expresses our gratitude. But we do so mindful that no ceremony or parade, no hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: The president also pointed out this is the first Veterans Day in a decade without Americans serving in Iraq.
O'BRIEN: In New York City, they marched in the annual Veterans Day parade. This year is a little different, though. The United Veterans War Council which organized the parade promoted the event as a rally for storm victims, collecting winter coats for those who have been displaced by superstorm Sandy.
CHO: So great that they did that.
People in American West still digging out after a major blast of winter. Parts of Utah, including Salt Lake City, were hit really hard with snow.
Our Alexandra Steele is here with a look at that. Fifty-one inches, Alexandra? Good morning.
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. Wow, what a banner start to the season, right? Snowbird, 51 inches. So, if you're a skier or boarder in the West, Snowbird doesn't open until the 17th.
But, boy, certainly, maybe this is a harbinger of things to come, right, after a lackluster year last year. Certainly beneficial for so many out West.
Look at some of those, bountiful, to say the least, right, 31 inches, Salt Lake, 15 inches.
So certainly the snow has been -- what happens is this very strong front, with a lot behind it, a lot of energy, now mostly just a rainmaker, even some severe weather yesterday. On the back side of it, though, very cold temperatures, dropping just expediently quickly.
As we look here we're going to watch this front push eastward, and we're going to see ahead of it very warm temperatures. For those of you in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, warm day, a little bit above average. But behind it, temperatures about 10 to 20 degrees below average. And then, Pacific Northwest, our next storm system coming in. So, hey, potentially a harbinger of things to come.
Thursday, here's the front, moving through -- you can see it -- moves through the East Coast, right along that 95 corridor on Tuesday, and with it, temperatures dropping off just as they have farther west, like places like Chicago, 70 yesterday, 36 degrees today. That's really indicative of this front and what's behind it.
So, Boston, the 60s today, and even tomorrow. But then, Wednesday in the 40s, Syracuse, 70s today, 40s tomorrow, and through Wednesday and Thursday.
You know, similar scenario from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, so much colder air behind this cold front, right. That's the main. Big picture, can you pick it out? Pretty clearly, right, there's the warmth, there's the front, and much cooler temperatures, even in Minneapolis, only 28 degrees today. And, look, even far south of (INAUDIBLE), you can see from Oklahoma City, points west into south Texas.
So guys, big cool air coming in, no question about it, and temperatures dropping off. You know it when it's passed, temperatures dropping of 20 degrees.
CHO: Wow. We're going to know and we feel it.
CHO: All right, Alexandra, thank you.
O'BRIEN: Sunday night football action, the Bears and Texans in Chicago. Houston's Arian Foster had a big night. He rushed for 102 yards on 29 carries, scored the game's only touchdown. Texans defense was all over Jay Cutler. They napped two interceptions before they knocked him out with a concussion right out of the game. Final score there was: Houston, 13, and Chicago, six.
CHO: Another big news in the sports world. The L.A. Lakers have hired a new coach and his name is not Phil Jackson.
O'BRIEN: No surprise.
CHO: Me, too. You're looking at him there, that's former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. He will replace Mike Brown who was fired last week. D'Antoni had signed a four-year deal with the Lakers.
Now, ESPN says Lakers management really wanted Phil Jackson to return for his third stint as coach. They even met with him over the weekend but the two sides could not come to terms on a new deal for Jackson. Apparently, he wanted a limited travel schedule. And he wanted a two- year deal worth $10 million.
O'BRIEN: And control. Always comes down to that money, control and travel.
CHO: They are not willing to budge on that. Anyway.
O'BRIEN: So didn't happen. So, congratulations, coach Mike. You're the new coach.
Fallout now to talk about over the David Petraeus scandal. It's continuing to grow this morning. Key members of Congress want to know why they weren't in the loop while the FBI was investigating the CIA director's affair. We're going to talk about that straight ahead as we continue right here on EARLY START.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.
David Petraeus' shocking resignation continues to raise questions from members of Congress, with some saying they should have been alerted earlier amid concerns of a breach of national security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEINSTEIN: We received no advance notice. It was like a lightning bolt. The way I found out, I came back to Washington Thursday night, Friday morning, the staff director told me there were a number of calls from press about this. I mean, this is something that could have had an effect on national security. I think we should have been told.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: The retired four-star general released a statement on Friday where he announced his resignation. He said this, "After being married for more than 37 years I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable both as a husband and the leader of an organization such as ours."
Back now with us this morning, Richard Socarides is former senior adviser to president Clinton and writer with the NewYorker.com. Oliver McGee is a Republican strategist. He's also author of "Jumping the Aisle."
Nice to see both of you. Thanks for talking with us.
Oliver, I'm going to start with you. We know that the time line somewhat. We know the FBI was first sort of figured out the affair in the summer. That Broadwell was interviewed on October 21st. She is the other woman, if you will.
James clapper, though, the director of national intelligence, wasn't told until Election Day. The president apparently not notified until Wednesday.
What -- do you see, as some do, some kind of scandal in the timing itself?
OLIVER MCGEE, AUTHOR, "JUMPING THE AISLE": Well, I think that what we're seeing is the question about transparency and disclosure in public management. Usually, the best strategy is to bring it all out, take your bath very early, use executive judgment, which is really empathizing with all parties involved, so that we don't have a look into politics of personal disruptions and things of that sort.
The question here of whether we have a national security problem with regard to one's personal life is still debatable. Right now, what I'm seeing going across airwaves is there is no national security breach.
But, ultimately, the general is in service as a hero, and that in that, he was really looking at what I wrote about in my book "Jumping the Aisle." It's not me the person, rather we the people, who are responsible, for we the lawmakers who are accountable. In that sense --
O'BRIEN: But do we the people need to know -- I mean, it seems like there's no actual security breach, and "The New York Times" quotes an official today that says the FBI was basically taking its time for a couple of reasons, to do it very carefully, and also to just make sure they wanted to know if there was any kind of evidence of security breach.
You know, Congressman Peter King, Richard, says essentially he thinks there's more to this. That maybe there's more of a conspiracy behind it. Let's play a little clip of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It seems to have been going on for several months yet now it appears that the FBI didn't realize until Election Day that General Petraeus was involved. It just doesn't add up, and you've got this type of investigation, the FBI investigating e-mails, the e-mails leading to the CIA director, and it's taking four months to find out that the CIA director was involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Congressman King is not the only person who said, hmm, suspicious.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: Well, there are definitely some questions that need to be answered. I'm not sure that that's exactly accurate that the FBI didn't know until right before the election, because they were involved in the investigation last summer. But, it may be that the FBI just sort of didn't know what they had, and it wasn't until they spoke to the principals, which was right before the election, exactly what they knew.
But one thing that's clear is that Congress should have been informed simultaneously with informing the president. I mean, I think that Congress is rightfully concerned that something of this nature was going on that they didn't know about it, especially, you know, the leaders of the committees involved with intelligence should have been told earlier.
And you never want a member of Congress hearing about this in the newspaper.
O'BRIEN: Yes, Dianne Feinstein seems really, really angry.
SOCARIDES: And rightfully so.
O'BRIEN: And a lot of that, I think, is because we know there's going to be a testimony about Benghazi, which would have been front and center involving Petraeus, and now, I guess might not be. Do you think he's going to, he's going to testify? I guess he could be called to testify.
MCGEE: That's the $100,000 question right now, Soledad. And it's perfectly valid question to raise. Congress has subpoena powers to be able to find all answers to the questions that they are asking. In that sense they're using executive judgment because that's -- they're trying to ask questions so that they can ultimately do their service, which is to be oversight. They're the board of trustees and essentially they have to ask those tough questions and monitoring oversight of the executive branch as well as across all government.
O'BRIEN: Oliver, thank you very much.
MCGEE: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Richard Socarides, writer for NewYorker.com. And Oliver McGee is a Republican strategist. Thanks to both of you.
MCGEE: Thank you.
CHO: All right. Soledad, thanks. It's 45 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date.
Congressional leaders are demanding answers about the sudden resignation of CIA director, David Petraeus. His downfall was apparently rooted in jealousy. The FBI uncovered Petraeus' extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell when a Petraeus family friend complained the mistress was sending her threatening e-mails.
A partial recount in the hotly contested race for Florida's district 18 Congressional seat narrows the gap a bit between Republican congressman, Allen West, and Democrat, Patrick Murphy, but it isn't enough to trigger an automatic recount. Murphy is still ahead by a margin of more than half a percent. West's campaign manager is vowing to take legal action.
O'BRIEN: Wow! That's an interesting race to follow, isn't it?
Right. A devastating blast to talk about. Kind of came out of nowhere. Authorities in Indianapolis say they're still trying to determine what exactly caused this explosion that left two people dead, a neighborhood in ruins. The blast, and then, the fireball subsequently leveled two homes.
It happened over the weekend. Dozens of other homes were damaged. Hundreds of residents were evacuated. The damage is estimated to be at more than $3.5 million.
CHO: "The New York Times" says it's moving forward with its brand-new CEO, Mark Thompson, despite a scandal rocking his former employer, the BBC. British Broadcasters director of news, Helen Bowden, is stepping aside as is her deputy, Steven Mitchell, after a BBC report recently linked (ph) former conservative politician of child abuse. The head of the BBC, George Entwistle, resigned over the weekend.
O'BRIEN: Big, big, big, big giant, big debut for the new James Bond film "Skyfall." Did anybody here see it?
CHO: Not yet. Yes.
O'BRIEN: Hauled in nearly $88 million at the box office this weekend. It's the biggest opening ever for a Bond film. Adele sings the title song. It just also (INAUDIBLE).
CHO: Take it. All right. Coming up, mystery surrounds a missing American journalist thought to be held hostage in Syria. Coming up, his parents make an emotional appeal and why some say that clues found in a video just don't add up. We'll be live with Arwa Damon from Beirut in just a moment.
CHO: All right. Look what we have here. Soledad, you're going to look at what's happening.
O'BRIEN: Lots to talk about this morning. We're going to continue to talk about General Petraeus, of course. His star has now tarnished by that affair. Dozens of questions, though, surround the resignation of General Petraeus as the head of the CIA. We'll talk to Gen. James "Spider" Marks and Brigadier General Mark Kimmett this morning.
And as we approach that fiscal cliff, are we any closer to any compromise or will our tax dollars go up? Grover Norquist, he's the man with that no tax pledge, he'll weigh in with us this morning.
Plus, he's a business mogul who created a music label, fashion lines, Russell Simmons, though, is also about helping the nation's veterans. We'll tell you how he's helping them cope the post-traumatic stress disorder.
And she's one of the stars of the new movie, "Lincoln." Actress Gloria Reuben joins us live to take a look at the critically acclaimed movie about our 16th president.
CHO: Wow. You've got a lot.
O'BRIEN: A lot happening this morning. CHO: Yes. Look forward to that.
Parents of a missing American journalist in Syria are in neighboring Lebanon this morning. They're making an impassioned appeal for their son's return. They say 31-year-old Austin Tice was in Syria, on his way to Lebanon, when they lost touch with him last August. In September, they say he appeared blindfolded, held at gunpoint, on a video posted on YouTube.
But there are a lot of key questions about the authenticity of the video. Here's why. Videos like this are usually shared through extremist websites, not on YouTube. Also, what his captors are wearing would normally not be found in Syria.
Our Arwa Damon is in Beirut. She joins us now live. So, Arwa, Austin's parents talked to reporters a short time ago. I want to get to that in just a moment, but first, all of these discrepancies that just don't seem to add up, you cover this region for a long time. What do you make of it?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what a lot of people are saying is that this is, perhaps, a video that was somehow fabricated. Many people believe that he is, in fact, in the custody of the Syrian government, although, the government, itself, has been denying any information on his whereabouts, whatsoever.
What we do know is that when he was last heard of, he was on the outskirts of Damascus in an area known as (INAUDIBLE). The family, of course, has been trying to obtain whatever information it can about his whereabouts. You can just imagine how difficult this news blackout for them has been.
CHO: And let's talk a little bit more about that. What more did they say about their son's return? They made an impassioned appeal.
DAMON: They most certainly did, and they were quite poised while they were making this appeal. This is a very straightforward appeal and that is for any information whatsoever on the whereabouts of their son. And here's a little bit of what they told journalists earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Austin is a cherished son and beloved brother. If he were your son or your brother, I ask, what would you do to find him and return him to your family?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON: Now, they did say that they have reached out to the Syrian authorities both directly and indirectly and have not resulted or seen any sort of concrete leads from that. They have also, of course, been speaking to various rebels, opposition activists, inside Syria trying to retrace their son's footsteps.
But at this point in time, they quite simply say that they have no information whatsoever on who is holding Austin and what it is that it would take for him to be brought back safely home.
CHO: It's just incredible. Normally, the captors will come out. The video is pretty clear-cut. It's just a mystery. Having said that, Arwa, I know that you got word of some new developments out of Syria. What can you tell us about that?
DAMON: Yes. New developments with regards to Syria, actually, out of the capital of Doha (ph), and there, there have been some fairly intense meetings. And the U.S. has been very involved in them, behind the scenes, as have other western and gulf nations trying to bring together a new Syrian opposition government per se.
What they have managed to form is something that they're now calling the Syrian national coalition. Its head is a former imam of a very well-known mosque in Damascus. The two other deputies also very well- known, respected individuals when it comes to the opposition.
The hope is that this new coalition will be able to provide a unified front for the Syrian opposition, one that can then take the critical steps of gaining international recognition, gaining finances, and perhaps, eventually down the road, even military support for what is happening inside Syria.
CHO: Arwa Damon live in Beirut for us. Arwa, thank you, as always.
And today's "Best Advice" is coming up next.
CHO: All right. It's two minutes before the top of the hour. We wrap it up as always with "Best Advice." And today, from Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA KAEPPELER, MISS AMERICA: I think two pieces of advice that sort of go hand in hand is one, to not let your adversity define you or not let your past define the possibilities for your future, but through that, appreciating your past and appreciating where you come from and embracing that to help that become the woman I have become.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Good advice. And that's EARLY START for a Monday. I'm Alina Cho. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.