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John Allen Implicated in Petraeus Scandal; Petraeus Asked to Speak About Benghazi; Obama in Meetings on Fiscal Cliff; John McAfee Wanted for Murder; Loan Rates at an All Time Low; 30 States to Have GOP Governors; Obama Faces Cabinet Openings; Men of Power and Their Ethical Failures; U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Investigated; Gas Rationing to End in Jersey; Power Problems Continue in New York
Aired November 13, 2012 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, TV HOST, "DR. PHIL": ... boundaries, if a parent has not taught a child to self-control, they're the ones that are going to be running through the restaurant, eating off other people's plates, yelling and screaming and knocking into things and everybody's going to be staring at them.
Those parents that didn't do it right to begin with are the ones that are going to wear themselves out by the time the child is five years old. If you do it early on, then it gets easier later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAROL COSTELLO, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Thanks, Dr. Phil.
I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining me today. "CNN Newsroom" continues right now with Alina Cho.
ALINA CHO, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Hey, Carol, thank you very much.
Hi, everybody. I'm Alina Cho, in for Ashleigh Banfield today. It's 11:00 in the East, 8:00 in the West. We are so glad you're with us today and let's get started.
First up, we just can't call it the Petraeus scandal anymore. Today, the U.S. general in charge of allied troops in Afghanistan, the top commander, John Allen, is himself the subject of a Pentagon investigation of allegedly inappropriate communications with Jill Kelley.
Yes, that Jill Kelley. We're talking about the same Tampa housewife whom David Petraeus' then mistress Paula Broadwell apparently saw as a rival, a whole new chapter in a saga that since last Friday has been one bombshell after another. And so far, all of them have something to do with Kelley.
She's a volunteer military liaison at MacDill Air Force Base, home of the U.S. central command in Tampa, Florida. Kelley complained to the FBI last spring when Paula Broadwell, who was having an affair with CIA chief Petraeus, allegedly harassed her with jealous e-mails.
Petraeus admitted the affair with Broadwell, but denies any elicit contact with Kelley. So does General Allen who was scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing this very week to become NATO's supreme allied commander.
Today, that's on hold, but he will continue in his position as the investigation continues.
And all of that as the Pentagon digs through 20,000 to 30,000 pages of e-mails and other communications, many with Kelley over a two-year period.
Each revelation brings 100 new questions and my colleague, Chris Lawrence, joins me now from the Pentagon to answer some of them.
Chris, so many twists and turns in this story. It's hard to keep track, quite frankly. but let's begin with General John Allen. We're talking about 20,000 to 30,000 pages of e-mails, many of them to Jill Kelley.
It really seems like an incredible amount of e-mail traffic between a high-ranking general and a woman who really is just a volunteer for the military. How unusual is this? And what does it all mean?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, on the face of it, Alina, it's staggering that sheer amount of documents that you mentioned, 30,000.
We're told by a U.S. official that all 30,000 do relate directly to General Allen. But, when you peel back the layer a little bit, not all 30,000 may contain inappropriate content.
In other words, some of them may have been something simply as a name in the subject line or something mentioned in the e-mail, that there may be mixed into that a good number of legitimate e-mails between the two or concerning General Allen and some in there which they thought may be appropriate that they're going to take another look at.
Remember General Allen is telling defense officials that we've heard this morning that he's done nothing wrong and, although his nomination hearing has been postponed, they have left him in the position of ISAF commander so far.
CHO: And from what I understand from your reporting earlier, Chris, he'd already traveled to Washington for this hearing, right?
LAWRENCE: Alina, it was supposed to begin in 48 hours on Thursday morning. He was going up to the Hill. So, this really blindsided a lot of people, coming so quickly.
CHO: And all the while this -- while this is an internal Pentagon investigation, this other FBI investigation into Petraeus and Paula Broadwell continues and, last night, a pretty significant development, seemingly. As you know, Chris, the FBI conducted a search of Paula Broadwell's home in North Carolina. They were there for about four hours, carted out about six boxes, including her computer, a hard drive.
You see them there, last night. In fact, they didn't leave until about 1:00 in the morning. I guess the question is this. If this was simply an extramarital affair and nothing more, what in the world was the FBI doing there last night?
LAWRENCE: Well, we are told by a U.S. official that the FBI did go to Paula Broadwell's home, specifically to look for any classified information, but it was more along the lines of trying to button up any loose ends. And this official tells CNN that he does not expect there to be any criminal charges that come out of this.
We know that Paula Broadwell showed the FBI that there was classified information on her computer, but both she and David Petraeus have said that information did not come from Petraeus.
Paula Broadwell has a lot of other sources out there. And remember, she did have some security clearance as a former -- and really as a reservist and a military intelligence officer.
CHO: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, many thanks to you.
Members of Congress have expressed outrage over a lack of communication, to the point of saying their lack of involvement in this could be criminal. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: You do have a fiduciary responsibility to tell the chairman and the ranking member of both the House and Senate of the intelligence committee.
And, if they were not informed and it looks like Senator Feinstein was not informed, then something is grossly wrong. Those people have to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: A lot of questions about who knew what when.
Let's bring in CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She's on Capitol Hill for us. Dana, great to se you.
Congress, as you know, back to work today. They'll be holding this closed-door briefing today on that attack in Benghazi back on 9/11 and a hearing later this week.
A lot of people saying, you know, doesn't really matter that General Petraeus is not the CIA director anymore, that he should still appear, he should still testify. At this point, though, what are the odds that that's going to happen?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In public this week -- or, not necessarily in public, just in general this week, I should say, the odds of that happening, we're told, are not very high.
However, you're absolutely right that we are hearing from Democrats and Republicans that they think it is imperative to hear from David Petraeus about Benghazi because he had -- was the CIA director at the time of the attack and he had been there very recently and got firsthand information on what had gone on there.
So, definitely, we are hearing even from the intelligence chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, that she does intend to call him in to a closed-door session to kind of debrief him at some point in the near future.
CHO: Dana, I want you to listen to this because, just a couple of minutes ago, we heard from Senator Susan Collins. She talked about her desire to have Petraeus testify on the Benghazi attack. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: And I think it's absolutely imperative that General Petraeus come and testify.
He was CIA director at the time of the attack. He visited Libya after the attack. He has a great deal of information that we need in order to understand what went wrong, how this attack occurred, why Americans lost their lives, and most of all, what we can do to lessen the chances of this kind of attack on American citizens happening in the future.
UNIDENTIFIED: But, Senator, since you're on ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: All right, some more of what you were just talking about a moment ago, Dana.
Meanwhile, simultaneously, a lot of outrage that the House and Senate intelligence committees were not notified about this until late last week. Is that outrage continuing on Capitol Hill today?
BASH: It is continuing. And it will no doubt get escalate even more and the reason is just because, having covered this place a long time, that tends to happen when members of Congress come back into town.
They haven't been here, so they're going to come back to town. They're going to be talking to one another, talking to the press corps in the hallways and, in fact, members of the Senate intelligence committee are going to have a meeting this afternoon to discuss that very thing, to discuss what the chairwoman of the intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, publicly has said. She's very angry about the fact they didn't -- they weren't informed, how atypical that was.
And, as you mentioned at the beginning of this segment, even some members of Congress are saying that that was breaking the law because Ted Barrett, our congressional producer, found there actually is a specific law back to 1947 that says, dealing with these kinds of matters of national security, intelligence committee members, or at least the appropriate people here on Capitol Hill, as a matter of oversight, must be informed and that simply did not happen until after the FBI had already concluded that there was no national security risk.
But the question that people here are asking, what about all of that time while the FBI was looking into it and maybe they had suspected there was a national security risk? Why weren't we, the people who were supposed to have oversight on the intelligence community, informed of that possibility?
CHO: So many questions. More than answers and, when you hear the word criminal, Dana, of course, that gets a lot of people going.
All right, Dana Bash on Capitol Hill for us. Dana, thank you very much.
Many of the FBI protocols, we should mention, on reporting criminal investigations to the White House and others actually stem way back to the Watergate scandal.
An investigation back then uncovered abuses and mistakes and the Justice Department has since made changes.
CHO: Welcome back. Forty-nine days and counting until we reach the so-called fiscal cliff when the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will take place unless the president and congress can reach a deal.
As you can imagine, everyone wants President Obama's ear on this issue. And today, the president's going to meet with labor leaders.
CNN White House correspondent Brianna Keilar with a look at that.
Great to see you. A labor, of course, intent on making sure the president keeps his promise on those tax hikes for the wealthy. But what can we expect from this meeting today? We're talking about one hour with two dozen labor leaders. Is there anything that can really be accomplished?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I don't know anything really tangible is going to come out of this.
This is a big kickoff for President Obama, having meetings this week. Today, he's meeting with labor leaders, also liberal leaders. Tomorrow, he's meeting with business leaders.
Obviously, he needs to span the interest of these interests, I should say of these groups, as he tries to work out a deal with Republicans and then he'll be meeting with the top Democrat and the top Republican in the House and the Senate here at the White House on Friday.
So, this is really him, we're told by White House officials, listening to the concerns of some of these labor and liberal leaders. And what they want is to make sure that taxes on the wealthy increase, too, obviously, if that's going to be a part of averting this fiscal cliff. It's also very important to note what they don't want to happen. They don't want changes to entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.
But the bottom line is, if President Obama is able to strike a deal with House Republicans, it's kind of like almost all of the parties in play here, all of the stakeholders who are lobbying for the president's ear and want something out of this deal almost all of them are likely going to be unhappy.
So, I think a big part of this meeting is about keeping all of these folks onboard and at least making them feel like he's listening to them.
CHO: That's right. We're going to give a little bit. You better give us a little, too, right, is the bottom line?
CHO: Meanwhile, you mentioned that meeting with business leaders tomorrow, that the CEOs of G.E. and American express will be there and they've been saying a lot, obviously big supporters of the Republicans, saying a lot that they can't do any hiring, can't do any spending because of this gridlock with the fiscal cliff.
And yet, we're not really hearing from small business leaders, which we heard a lot about on the campaign trail. Do they get a say in this?
KEILAR: I think the White House would say that small business leaders do get a say in this. Now, tomorrow, it is the bigger companies. You're right. Pepsi will be here, chevron will be here, Xerox will be here and some of these business leaders are folks who did support President Obama in his reelection.
The hope here for the White House is that some of these leaders who are actually supporting an increase in taxes for wealthier Americans, some of whom would be businesses that that will perhaps give some House Republicans some cover to say, OK, you know, business, if some business is behind this, maybe we can go along with it.
I think the White House right now feels like they have a lot of leverage. I'll tell you I spoke with a Republican source who didn't think the support of some of these business leaders is really going to convince the House Republicans that they need to budge on increasing these tax rates.
CHO: Well, somebody's going to have to budge, right? We don't have much time left, 49 days.
Brianna Keilar at the White House. Thank you.
CHO: Welcome back. John McAfee, does that ring a bell? Your computer could be a McAfee product. The millionaire is now wanted for questioning in the murder of an American ex-patriot in Belize. McAfee left the Internet security firm he founded back in 1994, and after that, he moved to Belize four years ago.
Police say the victim, Gregory fall, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the back of his head at his home over the weekend.
In an interview with "Wired" magazine, he says he knows nothing about the death of his neighbor and he says, when police came to search his property, he hid by burying himself in the sand with a cardboard box over his head so he could breathe. He says, if they find him, they will kill him.
Richard Roth is following all the developments for us and he joins me now. This is such a bizarre story, Richard. What's the latest?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: It's not the only wild story going around these days. Well, according to the writer for "Wired," he had another phone interview earlier today with McAfee and he says in these tweets that McAfee is saying, "Power was just cut to the house I'm in; I think this is it."
And in a later tweet, "I will not turn myself in. The police have set up roadblocks across the country to trap me in."
He is described as a person of interest, no formal charges against him. The police telling CNN over the phone that someone was detained for questioning, but no formal charges made against anyone.
Now, another writer, Jeff Wise, told CNN earlier today that when he talked again to McAfee and spent a lot of time with him he and others who came in contact with this former security expert were apprehensive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF WISE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY COLUMNIST: I'll put it this way. Listen, we're all innocent until proven guilty, but the people in his community were frightened of him. I was frightened.
The last time I visited him, he invited me to spend the night at his house, stay for dinner, and yet the hairs on the back of my neck were up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: He definitely had entanglements, contentious arguments with a lot of people there in Belize, but no formal accusations yet.
CHO: Yes, I read that interview. It's bizarre what he says. He thinks he's being framed by the government.
Meanwhile, he also says he loves his country, doesn't want to leave Belize. He's believed to be inside the country, right, Richard?
ROTH: Not that far from Mexico, if he decided he didn't love Belize that much.
CHO: Tell me more about his relationship with the victim. Because when you're looking at these cases, obviously, if he's the prime suspect, you have to consider motive. Would he have had a motive?
ROTH: Well, sounds like a familiar neighborly argument. Barking dogs, it may have come down to that. We may not know for sure.
The neighbor shot in the head complained that the dogs of McAfee were very loud, barking, had trespassed on his property, McAfee said that the dogs were poisoned Friday night according to one of the interviews he did with "Wired."
CHO: And the government says that's categorically not true.
CHO: Richard Roth following the developments for us. Thank you very much.
CHO: All right, have you noticed that interest rates have hit record lows? So now may be the time to take advantage of the moment and refinance or buy that new car.
Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at that. Alison, I have to tell you I am now in the process of refinancing my home for the second time in two years. Last year, sailed through the process. This year, they keep asking for more and more documents.
So, the good news is, interest rates are lower. The bad news is, little harder to refinance, isn't it?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is and you're one of the people who is taking advantage of these historic rates and the Fed has promised to keep rates low until 2015.
But, Alina, would you believe that three out of four Americans are not more inclined to take out a loan, even with these lower rates. That's according to the new research from BankRate.com.
So, what if you do want to get a loan with one of these low rates? What's the -- you know, how do you go about doing that?
So, we asked Greg McBride. He's the senior financial analyst with BankRate.com and here's what he had to say.
First, good credit is key in this whole process. A score above 700 could even get you an interest rate below the inflation level and that means you could essentially be borrowing money for free.
But your credit score isn't the only factor that lenders consider in this. Proof of income, that's important. And you'll also need a sizable down payment if you're looking for a home or car loan. Now, if your credit is less than stellar, there are ways to improve it. Disputing errors on your credit reports and paying down your debt, those will both boost your score.
One of the most important things you can do when considering a loan, yeah, go ahead and shop around. It's tedious, but try to get at least three quotes before making your decision because you know what, Alina?
Doing all that extra leg work could wind up saving you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
CHO: All right. Great advice as always, Alison Kosik, great to see you, live from the New York Stock Exchange.
"Motor Trend" magazine has named its car of the year and you're probably thinking Porsche, Mercedes, BMW. No, the staff unanimously, rather, picked the Tesla Model S.
It's the first time that an electric car has ever won that magazine's top honor. An electric car, you know the ones you plug in? "Motor Trend" calls the Model S as "smoothly effortless as a Rolls Royce." How about that?
They cost anywhere from $50,000 to nearly $100,000, still a bargain compared to a Rolls Royce.
Here's something that might come as a shock to you. The U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer in about five-to-eight years and will be energy independent by 2030.
That's the latest estimate from the International Energy Agency. What the agency calls a "dramatic reversal" will occur in large part because of the recent resurgence in oil and gas production and the push to make cars and trucks more fuel-efficient.
All right. It's that time again. Let's take a quick check of the New York Stock Exchange Big Board.
Currently, the Dow is up about 64 points. Markets have been open for about two hours. We will continue to monitor it throughout the day.
CHO: All right. Welcome back.
Can you believe the presidential election was a week ago? One week ago? Well, Republicans aren't exactly bragging about what happened a week ago today. But somewhat overlooked in their second-straight presidential election loss is a surge in GOP governors. Listen to this. Once all of the winners take office, 30 of the 50 states will have Republican chief executives, the most in 12 years. They'll be meeting tomorrow in Las Vegas.
And CNN's Wolf Blitzer will join me to talk about the state of the states and the state of the GOP.
Hey, Wolf. Great to see you.
I want you to watch the screen here because Louisiana's Bobby Jindal is taking over the leadership of the Republican Governor's Association. You know that. He's bringing some tough love to the party.
Listen to what he told "Politico." Quote, "We cannot be, we must not be the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys. The reality is, we have to be a party of solutions and not just bumper sticker slogans."
He called on Republicans to stop being the stupid party. As my friend Soledad likes to say, a "come to Jesus moment" for the GOP, Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Well, they certainly thought they were going to win the presidential race. They went in convinced that all the so-called mainstream polls were wrong, that they were oversampling for Democrats and under-sampling for Republicans. If anything, the mainstream polls, including our own CNN/ORC poll, we under-sampled the number of Democrats that would show up. Democrats were clearly much more enthusiastic than Republicans. And the Republicans and Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, recognizes this -- they have a problem right now. They have a problem recruiting minorities, whether African-Americans or Hispanics. They have a problem with women out there. Certainly, the two Senatorial candidates didn't help the Republican brand talking about rape and abortion and all of those controversial comments. There's a lot of other problems the Republicans have right now, and this is one of those moments they have to reassess where they're going.
I sense now that they're really anxious to reach out to Hispanics, Alina, because, all of a sudden, Lindsay Graham, the Republican Senator from South Carolina, is teaming up with Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senator from New York, for comprehensive immigration reform. All of a sudden, that's on the agenda right now. Certainly, the comments that Mitt Romney made during his effort to get the Republican presidential nomination about self-deportation or for illegal immigrants, that came back to haunt them.
They've got a lot of problems, a lot of reassessing to do. And what Jindal is now saying and others are saying it, it's time to take a better look where the Republican Party stands.
CHO: Yes, particularly when you look ahead to 2016, never too early to do that, right, Wolf? And you look at states like Texas that could be in play, which seemed unbelievable just a couple of years ago.
Meanwhile, let's talk about the Democrats, because, as you know, generally, there's a little bit of musical chairs that goes on in the cabinet in the second term. And that is the case this time around. Widely expected that U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, going to be secretary of state. That could be a very ugly confirmation hearing. And Senator John Kerry talked about as defense secretary, Wolf? BLITZER: Yes, there's been reports that John Kerry, who I always assumed wanted to be secretary of state, could be the next secretary of defense. Leon Panetta has made it clear he's ready to move on and go back to California after all these years in Washington, former CIA director, now the secretary of defense. I don't know how long that will last.
But if Kerry is nominated to be the secretary of defense that does leave Hillary Clinton's job at the State Department open. And Susan Rice was always -- at least I always believed she was the front-runner until those controversial comments she made about the Benghazi killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans on those five Sunday talk shows. And the Republicans really have been going after her. And if the president stands firm and nominates her to be the next secretary of state, it will be a bruising confirmation hearing, there's no doubt about that. My sense is he probably wants her to be the secretary of state. But we'll see if -- how that confirmation process will go forward. The Democrats do have the majority in the Senate. I think it's going to be 55 if you bring in both of those Independent Senators, Bernie Sanders, Angus King, from Maine, 55/45. But there could be filibusters. Who knows? In the Senate, anything important to get done, you always need 60 votes. So we'll see what happens on that front.
There's going to be -- there's an opening, as you know, at the CIA right now. With General Petraeus --
-- gone, who will be the CIA director? This whole national security team is going to require some reshuffling. It's a major headache that the president has, but that's why he's president of the United States, commander-in-chief, dealing with these kinds of issues.
CHO: That's right. And John Allen, for now, keeps his post. We'll have to see what happens with that investigation.
All right. Wolf, great to see you as always.
And be sure to join Wolf today at 4:00 p.m. eastern time in "The Situation Room" right here on CNN.
CHO: Men of power and their fall from grace. Their ranks are legend. The latest and greatest is former CIA Director David Petraeus, the case often involves sex. The big question is, why in this age of 24 hours news and social media do they take that one fatal step that brings them down?
Martin Savage now with some possible answers.
MARTIN SAVAGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Politics and sex scandals are nothing new in the U.S. In fact, they date back to our country's beginning.
DAVID BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Oh, of course. I mean, look, if we wanted to see what our founding fathers' behavior was like in Philadelphia in 1776, we may not like all of the answers.
SAVAGE: More recently, President John F. Kennedy's affairs were notorious. Lyndon Johnson was such a man with the ladies that he allegedly had a buzzer installed in his congressional office to alert him when Lady Byrd Johnson was on the way.
Journalists never reported on such things back in the day, but that eventually changed. So did technology. And recently, it's the digital footprint of dalliances that has led to some spectacular falls.
Remember Congressman Anthony Weiner? He tweeted a photo of his privates. When the story broke, he denied it, claiming his Twitter account had been hacked. Eventually, he 'fessed up and resigned.
ANTHONY WEINER, FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN: I apologize first and foremost to my wife and to my family.
SAVAGE: There was client number nine, aka, Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New York and former CNN anchor. When investigators followed his money, it revealed he spent thousands as a regular client of a call girl. He, too, stepped down.
ELIOT SPITZER, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR & FORMER CNN ANCHOR: I've acted in a way that violates the obligations to my family and that violates my or any sense of right and wrong.
SAVAGE: And now comes General Petraeus, done in by a simple click of the mouse.
BRINKLEY: E-mail traffic is -- it's amazing that e-mail is still being used in such a careless and reckless fashion because it's just evidence against you.
SAVAGE: Modern science can also play a role. Remember President Clinton and the DNA discovered on a certain blue dress belonging to a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.
SAVAGE: So if technology makes hiding an affair almost impossible, why do powerful people still think they can get away with it?
BRINKLEY: It's about narcissism and the will to power. And people that strive that mightily, and they start believing their own press. They start feeling omnipotent.
SAVAGE: But, of course, they aren't omnipotent. And the general's fall from grace comes with collateral damage called families.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CHO: All right, Martin Savage joins us now from Atlanta.
Marty, it was like a walk down memory lane. But we, in the media, love to build these people up and tear them down, don't we?
SAVAGE: Well, and it's not just the media. I think it's part of our society. We love celebrity. And we celebrate it. We love to see people rise and then, when they fall, well, we're very happy to watch that, as well.
Some have argued here that it's really not the public officials have become more dastardly, it's that, as a society, we have grown, well, maybe more hypocritical, more prudish, that we look at these public officials -- and in many cases, they were serving as well as public officials. Their fall was, of course, a private matter between husband and wives and their families.
So should we have let these people go because they were so good over something that was private? I think that's something that society is going to debate for some time.
The case obviously can be made for General Petraeus. He was the head of the CIA, for that matter, and you would have to wonder if there was any possible security breach there. So his departure is not, perhaps, the general rule here. But otherwise, these were people who were thought to be effective public officials who now left because of a very private, very bad private handlings -- Alina?
CHO: Great story. Great reporting.
Martin Savage, thank you.
CHO: The David Petraeus sex scandal has snared the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan. John Allen is now under investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to Jill Kelley. Yes, the same woman who claims she received threatening e-mails from Petraeus' mistress, Paula Broadwell. And we're not just talking about a couple of e-mails. Pentagon investigators are coming through 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents.
With me now is retired U.S. Army general and CNN contributor, "Spider" Marks, joining me via Skype from Virginia.
General Marks, great to see you.
When you look at the sheer number of documents that they're looking at, 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, how do you react to that? What was your first thought?
JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, RETIRED U.S. ARMY GENERAL & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, if true, if it is that type of volume of traffic, this is one busy guy spending a lot of time talking to an honorary ambassador between the community and Tampa in the Air Force base. He's got a lot of discretionary time on his hand and, frankly, that's not the case. So it's very, very troubling to see that an individual like this would at least put himself in a situation where the perception can be nothing but bad and end up wandering down this path of trying to find out what's wrong. It could be entirely innocuous, but that needs to be determined and we're going to have to spend time and money figuring that out.
CHO: That's right. And for now, it remains an internal Pentagon investigation.
Meanwhile, you've been in the trenches. You're a career military man. You've been everything from a platoon leader to a commanding general. I want to talk a little bit about morale. As this investigation continues, General Allen continues in his post as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan overseeing 68,000 troops there. Does this compromise his leadership skills at all? And what does it do to morale?
MARKS: Well, let me answer that on a couple of levels. First of all, activities like this, and the possibility that there might have been indiscretions like this from the very top guy gives a lot of fodder to those young troops. And so right now in a very cynical way and a very sarcastic way they're having fun with all of this, which is truly unfortunate because this is the senior guy. I can tell you what the forward operating base communications look like right now, and they're extremely colorful. And so what it does for the senior commanders, they are still in the room with the boss and they're going to look the four-star in the eye and say, look, sir, we're on your team until given an order that directs us to do otherwise, you're the boss. You're in charge. We're here to serve and to make right. We're also here to provide input and continue to fight this fight.
Let's not forget, we're in combat in Afghanistan. The senior leaders are going to hunker down and make this right. They're not going out of their way to protect the boss but the single most damaging thing about all of this is the four-star is now distracted. He's now concerned about how he's coming across to his subordinates and the rest of his team, and his contemporaries and the governance part of Afghanistan, the civilian leadership and the Department of Defense, he's now concerned whether he has credibility. Until relieved of command, either through proper channels or, sadly, if there's something else to this, if determined, he needs to drive on, and he will spend time worrying, which he should not, about what his reputation is. That's unfortunate.
CHO: You know about the inner workings of the military. Talk about credibility. What point, even if it's found there was no wrong doing on part of general Allen, do you look at him and say, you know, he has a reputation problem and he may be howl step down.
MARKS: Absolutely. It's very, very true what you just said. The concern is -- we used to have this expression in the military, boss, you're burning too much daylight on me. In other words, you're paying too much attention to me. There are a gazillion things we have to do and now I'm on the phone with you about some imprudent activity on my part, potentially. That needs to be off your list of things you need to care about. And at some point, what really has to happen -- here's where you get a little bit emotional -- that four-star, if this gets as to far down the road, if it's a cul-de-sac where there might be an exit, he needs to raise his hand, say, look, boss, you're spending too much time on me. Let me get oust the way. I'm a distraction and I can't allow myself to be a distraction. That's a very personal thought process that that commander needs to have, personally, with his family and contemporaries and buddies and boss.
CHO: Looking in your crystal ball there, up or down, if you had to guess, do you think General Allen steps down?
MARKS: I think -- I have no additional data, Alina. This is very, very difficult. If this continues on for another week and a half or so, he needs to continue to drive on in Afghanistan, maybe until his change of command. But that's it. He shouldn't go forward. He's been nominated or his nomination to be the supreme allied commander in Europe is on hold. I can't prognosticate on that. Some needs to say we need to move on. There are great folks in uniform that can take those jobs tomorrow.
CHO: I lied. One last question.
CHO: As you know, Congress, holding a briefing today and a hearing later this week on the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi. A lot of talk that -- a lot of people saying, it doesn't matter that General Petraeus is no longer CIA director, he needs to get in and testify. He's the one who knows what happened. He's the one who knows if there was a security lapse. What are your thoughts on that?
MARKS: Well, he certainly can be subpoenaed by Congress. It wouldn't surprise me if he is subpoenaed. And I believe he should raise his hand and move forward.
Now, there are so many things buzzing around about Dave Petraeus and his affair with Paula Broadwell, he probably has a defense attorney saying, look, we have to be cautious because, personally, you may be at risk based on anything you say. That's the only caution. But I certainly hope he has an opportunity to testify, to shed light on what he knows. And clearly he was at the center of this.
But, Alina, when you said you lied, you had no intent to deceive, and that's important.
CHO: OK. Always colorful commentary coming from you, Spider.
Thank you so much.
MARKS: Thank you. Absolutely.
General "Spider" Marks.
Thanks for joining us.
CHO: As we wrap up, we don't want to forget the people affected by Superstorm Sandy. We have an update. Today, a good sign. Gas rationing is set to end in New Jersey. Still some power problems in New York, however. The Long Island Power Authority, LIPA, says it expects to restore power to many customers today but only, they say, if it's safe. Residents are understandably very angry over the pace of the repairs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just dark and cold. That pretty much sizes it up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the management's unprepared for this. At the end of the day, this was a monumental task.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like going on and on. End it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You start to get aggravated. We deserve better than this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is promising to hold utility companies accountable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW CUOMO, (D), GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: I'm going to do a thorough review/investigation and a very serious one, and they will be held accountable for past performance. And then we also have to get smart about this and we have to make sure that we're prepared for when this happens again because I believe this will happen again. And I think anyone who says, well, this was a once-in-a-lifetime, this is once- every-100-years, that is denial. And I think it's a serious mistake and I'm not going to govern this way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Cuomo has put the price tag of the disaster in New York around $30 billion. And he says he's going to ask the federal government to pay for most of it.
This quick note. If you want to help, head to our web site, at Impact Your World. Go to CNN.com/impact.
Today, I want to end the show with the oxford dictionary's word of the year announced this morn. But not the American version's of the year, which, by the way, is "giff," those animated pictures on the Internet, or so I'm told. I like the English version much more. Take a look at this. "Omnishambles." "Omnishambles." That means a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations. And given all of the scandalous news just over the past couple of days, it's a word that David Petraeus, Lance Armstrong, Todd Akin and probably a couple of others may want to look up.
Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Alina Cho.
NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL starts right now.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We're taking you around the world in 60 minutes.
Here's what's going on right now. High-ranking military officer gets caught up in the scandal that brought down General David Petraeus. General John Allen is under military investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate e-mails to Jill Kelley, the woman whose complaints led to the resignation of Petraeus. General Allen is the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. He was nominated to become NATO's supreme commander as well. He has denied any wrongdoing.
So, how are these people linked to the scandal? How are they all connected? Follow us. We're going to try to explain this.