Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Holiday Travel Update; Saudi Rape Victim Punished; Record Oil Price; Atlanta's New Narcotics Unit

Aired November 12, 2007 - 09:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody.

I'm Heidi Collins.

Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on Wednesday, November 21st.

Here is what's on the rundown.

A sloppy storm system gripping the heartland. Will the turkey be cold before you get there?

HARRIS: A judge orders a rape victim lashed and jailed. Now the woman's husband is speaking out.

COLLINS: He came to talk. Instead, he walked, the plastic surgeon who operated on a celebrity's mom just hours before her death.

The doctor is out -- in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: So, let's see. Where should we begin today, Heidi? Hmm. OK.

You and millions of other holiday travelers heading out right now for Thanksgiving. Planes packed, highways getting crowded, and gas prices high.

Wherever you're going, you can get up-to-the-minute information in our "Holiday Travel" update on the right of your screen right there. We have got you covered with reporters all over the country.

Susan Roesgen is in Chicago. Ed Lavandera is in Denver. Alina Cho is at the FAA command center in Virginia. And Jacqui Jeras is here at the weather center.

First, let's get you started with the latest information on weather. There he is, Rob Marciano.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: Now we want to take a closer look at what's happening right now on this big-time travel day. All four of those folks are watching the action for us.

Susan Roesgen is in Chicago. Ed Lavandera in Denver. That's good news.

Ed, we know you made it to Denver.

Alina Cho at the FAA command center in Virginia. And Jacqui Jeras right here at the weather center.

Let's go ahead and begin with Susan.

You know, Susan, yesterday when we talked to you, things were pretty calm where you are. Have they changed much today?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's getting busier. You know, Heidi, it takes a lot of work just to go home and rest on the Thanksgiving holiday.

Where are you going today, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. We're going to Sedona, Arizona -- Phoenix, Arizona.

ROESGEN: All right. Who do you have here? How many people have you got?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are my two guys. This is Ari (ph) and this is Noah (ph).

ROESGEN: OK. Well, have a safe trip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much.

ROESGEN: So, you know, you get out of the cab, then you get all of your stuff. This is the hard work part. And you drag it all over.

Hey, guys, how are you? Happy Thanksgiving.

You drag it all over in line for the skycap. You pull out the two bucks to pay the guy and two more bucks to tip the guy, and then you go inside and you see what? More long lines.

Now, much longer lines today, Heidi, than there were yesterday here at O'Hare. But the good news is the lines are moving.

So far, no major delays. So far, the bad weather that we're expecting is on hold. So far, things are looking good.

And one more thing to think about, Heidi. I spoke to the airport spokeswoman today and she said they have something new here for the security lines. She said if you brings perhaps an expensive bottle of perfume or some other liquid that you forgot about in your baggage, it's OK. You can still get through the screening process and then you can mail it back to yourself. If you have a credit card, all you need to do is take that item, pay for it to be mailed back to yourself, and that's on the other side of the screening process. So you see the lines here but they are moving. So far, so good -- Heidi.

COLLINS: I don't know. Susan, I've got to tell you, I had to do that one time. It was a nightmare! So be careful. Just don't bring that stuff along if you can possibly remember.

All right. CNN's Susan Roesgen coming to us from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport today.

Thank you, Susan.

HARRIS: And Ed Lavandera is at Denver International Airport.

And Ed, I've been away for a couple of days and now I come back and you're taking some crazy cross-country trip. Give us the view from Denver, if you would, sir.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Well, it's looking pretty good in Denver this morning, actually. Even though several inches of snow fell overnight, the flights seem to be taking off on time. The checkout counters from what we've been able to see here walking around this morning are running smoothly as well.

You know, if you've been watching us yesterday morning, you know we've got a long day ahead of us. We can show you the wonderful map that will show you what our adventure has taken us on this week.

We started in Los Angeles yesterday morning, made it to Denver, where we landed here 30 minutes delayed. But today is really the true test of endurance.

We've got flights here in a couple of hours from Denver. We couldn't get a direct flight from Denver to New York. If not, I would have done that. So we're connecting through Dallas.

And this is I think when the fun will begin. So we're going to Dallas and catching another afternoon -- hopefully making it into New York by about 6:00 tonight. And we'll keep our fingers crossed and see how at all goes today -- Tony.

HARRIS: All right. Our fingers crossed as well.

Ed Lavandera in Denver.

Ed, appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: Want to get over to Alina Cho now. She is standing by at the FAA command center in Virginia for us this morning.

Alina, good morning to you. Tell us exactly what goes on there. What part of air travel is the FAA track?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, good morning. You know, this is really ground zero for American aviation. The men and women you see here at the FAA command center are really like traffic cops, managing those so-called highways in the sky. And the main thing that we're looking at today is volume.

Take a look at the screen behind me here. Each and every one of those red dots represents a plane in the sky. And right now, there are 5,500 flights in the air. That's close to the high end.

At about 12:00 noontime, we'll see about 6,000 flights. And that's at any one time. So we're talking about a lot of volume.

Now, one problem that we've identified in the past hour or so is that the airspace around Chicago and Cleveland is so clogged already that they are actually moving those flights into Canadian airspace. That allows some flights to the south to move into Midwest airspace.

Now, we do have some weather systems to talk about in certain cities like Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, maybe. Maybe some storms in Dallas and Houston.

But really what we're talking about, Heidi, is volume -- 2.5 million passengers on a day like today. That's 20 percent more than normal. And the planes are full at 90 percent capacity, so there is little margin for error.

COLLINS: Boy, that's for sure. You hit the nail on the head there.

All right. Thanks so much.

Alina Cho from the FAA headquarters there in Virginia.

Thank you, Alina.

HARRIS: Volume? Jacqui Jeras is monitoring traffic on the ground, traffic in the air. Volume? Volume, volume, volume is the word of the day, Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Volume.

HARRIS: Good morning.

JERAS: I know. Good morning.

And you put a little hiccup in there with bad weather and, unfortunately, it spells a lot of ugliness for a lot of people out there trying to travel today. One of our hot cities right now in terms of some of the worst of the weather across the country is in Memphis, Tennessee. And here you can see on our radar picture, right along I-40 here, really from Little Rock, all the way over towards the Memphis area along I-55 here, going north to south, and all of that wet weather in between, the rain continuing to come down at this hour.

We have a live picture out of Memphis to show you the conditions there, and you can see the wet streets. It's kind of misty in the downtown area right now -- 64 degrees is your temperature. There is a ground stop in effect at the international airport for the southeastern corridor, so basically if you're trying to get from the southeast to Memphis, which is a big northwest hub, by the way, you're going to be delayed probably for an hour. They're not going to allow your plane to take off to get there.

But if you're traveling from the west, it's going to take a little you longer to get there. And they think you will be clearing up by that time. So the worst of the conditions right now with all those planes on the ground at the Memphis International Airport.

We do have a couple of other delays to talk about at this time as well. Here's Philadelphia, a departure delay. So if you're leaving Philadelphia, about 30 minutes. Very minor delays here in Teterboro, and also in to White Plains.

Now, if you are traveling on the interstates by the highways, we want to check in on some of the big cities and see what is happening there. A lot of congestion. Even just picking up in the last 30 minutes or so in New York City, as indicated here by all of those red dots.

We want to go ahead and zoom in and show you some of that traffic here as we head toward the Manhattan area. This is the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and this is a time lapse animation that is showing you how the traffic has been moving along. So it has been slow-going.

We'll check in on a lot of other cities, including Atlanta, when I see you guys again at the bottom of the hour.

HARRIS: All right. Jacqui, appreciate it. Thank you.

All right. Let's see if we can put a button on all of this for you.

If you are hitting the road or flying the skies, make CNN.com your first destination. Your first. Check out our special report, "Holiday Travel," and get online travel kit with tips on where to go and how best to get there.

Plus, if you would, send us an I-Report showing us your travel experience so far. And when you get to your destination, send us an I-Report of you and your family so we can have some fun. That and more at CNN.com.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: Yes, exactly, holiday travel.

COLLINS: Closing in on the $100 mark. We've been talking about it for a while now. Oil prices spiked to more than $99 a barrel before retreating just slightly.

Analysts say $100 a barrel could be within reach today. What does this mean for your wallet and gas prices? Our Ali Velshi will join us just ahead for a little bit closer look at that ahead.

Meanwhile, a walkout by the plastic surgeon who operated on hip- hop star Kanye West's mother the day before she died. Dr. Jan Adams was set for an exclusively interview with CNN's Larry King, but here is how it went down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JAN ADAMS, PLASTIC SURGEON: What I really want to say is I want to thank you for this opportunity. Basically, I had come here to talk about things in the press that aren't accurate about me. But I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for the West family, and they've asked me not to go on. And I've said from the very beginning, I don't have a side in this, they are my side, and so I'm going to respect their wishes.

And I'm going to apologize to you, because I think I'm taking up your air time. But I will not be on the show and I will not discuss any of that. I'm going to honor their wishes, OK?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Meaning you won't answer any questions about anything?

ADAMS: None.

KING: All right. Then how will you -- will you ever answer a question? I mean, what -- where does this go?

ADAMS: Well, I will talk with them -- I will talk with them. When they're comfortable, then I'll be comfortable.

If they're never comfortable, then I'll never be comfortable. They are what is important to me. I said that from the start. And that is what I will continue to honor.

KING: And just a few things having nothing to do with them. Don't you want to speak out?

ADAMS: No.

KING: You don't want to?

ADAMS: No. I do not.

KING: All right.

But you came here to speak out?

ADAMS: That's correct, but I'm going to honor their wishes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Larry said just a few minutes before the show began, Adams got some sort of letter from the West family. It was apparently a threat to ask the California Medical Board to take action against him if he discussed their case on the show.

HARRIS: Word of a frightening medical mistake involving an actor's newborn twins. Celebrity Web site TMZ.com says Dennis Quaid's babies were given a massive overdose of a blood thinner.

TMZ says the twins are in intensive care at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. They're said to be in serious condition. According to reports, the twins were supposed to be given 10 units of the blood thinner heparin, but were accidentally given 10,000 units.

Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen will have more on this story next hour.

COLLINS: Outrage over a prison sentence for a Saudi Arabian rape victim. Her husband now taking the unusual step of speaking out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

COLLINS: A Saudi rape victim punished. The court giving her six months in prison and 200 lashes. Her husband speaking out now for the first time.

More from CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After days of intense media scrutiny over verdicts in a gang rape case, Saudi Arabia's government issued a statement of clarification. It begins, "We would like to clarify to the public that the Ministry of Justice well comes meaningful criticism."

We conducted interviews by telephone as we await Saudi visas. The victim's husband is speaking out to western TV for the first time, says he is angry with the judges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The king has called for judicial reform. We read about that in the media. They should say something to you. This means our judicial system needs to be reformed.

ROBERTSON: He says the case has thrown his 19-year-old wife into a state of severe depression, and accuses one of the judges of bias against his wife from the outset.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Even when he pronounced the sentence, he said, "You were involved in a suspicious relationship and you deserve 90 lashes for that."

ROBERTSON: In a six bullet-point statement of clarification, the government defends the court's decisions. On the critical issue of increasing the severity of the victim's punishment, it contends that she, as well as her attackers, had broken the law, but it did not explain why the judges decided to increase her sentence to 200 lashes, and at a six-month jail term.

Saudi journalist and women's right activist Epti Hal Mubarak (ph) told us women are angry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well this is extremely, highly frustrating and (INAUDIBLE) women activists (INAUDIBLE). There's nothing much we can do about it, just, you know, other than write about it or write petitions about it.

ROBERTSON: She says the rape victim did not break the strict law that bans unrelated men and women from meeting in private.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It shows clearly that they were in a public place, they were in front of a shopping mall before they were abducted.

ROBERTSON: This case, she says, reaffirms women's worst fears -- if raped, they have no defense in the law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you're out on the street, I mean, and you get raped, really there's no certain law that will correct things or bring justice. It does send a message of that sort.

ROBERTSON: It is rare in conservative Saudi society, where rape stigmatizes not just the victim but a whole family, that a husband is willing to go public. He says all he wants is justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I take Islam seriously and I don't like injustice. I see this as an important social issue.

She is my wife and, to me, marriage is sacred. You marry someone for good or for worse. And I love my wife.

ROBERTSON: Women's rights activists like Mubarak (ph) see little hope the sentence on the rape victory will be reversed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see (INAUDIBLE). And to be honest, I don't think (INAUDIBLE) the lashes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson is in London for us this morning.

And Nic, we saw how hard it was for you to get any type of information out of Saudi Arabia whatsoever. Do us a favor and give us some more context a little bit about the culture there, would you?

ROBERTSON: Well, certainly there's not a culture of complaining about the government. People are very concerned about speaking out about the government. They certainly wouldn't criticize the king, although the king of Saudi Arabia in this case does seem to be calling for judicial review. But typically people don't want to criticize the government.

And there's a very big stigma for the family involved here about coming out in the public. And this is such a rare case and it is drawing from Saudi society a lot of comments, particularly from women -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Well, yes. I was just going to ask, it really does make you wonder what the general reaction has been among women in Saudi Arabia. ROBERTSON: Well, you know, I talked -- I've talked to a couple of women there, and what they've told me is, yes, the activists, the sort of more politically aware, they're talking about it. They're motivated to try and do something about it. But they say there aren't any sort of big national women groups to get a movement, to get a big groundswell, and to sort of have a bigger voice in Saudi Arabia. They're very small groups of women. But it is, nevertheless, creating a lot of -- a lot of heated debate among the sort of intellectuals and liberals, and they want to spread that more broadly through the rest of the female community there -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Maybe this is a first step for some of them.

All right. CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson from London this morning.

Nic, thank you.

HARRIS: Oil prices shoot up again, ready to cross the $100 a barrel mark. So what then?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

COLLINS: Oil prices rise to another record level, closing in on $100 a barrel. So what does it all mean for you?

Well, Gerri Willis is "Minding Your Business" this morning with more on this.

We're trying to focus on the holidays, but, boy, it's tough when we know that we're really going to see it in our wallets.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: That's right. You know, crude oil prices hit a record high in electronic trading overnight, hitting $99.29, almost a hundred bucks a barrel, and that is up considerably from where it settled on Tuesday. Take a look at where it closed -- $98.03 a barrel, up a whopping $3.39 from the previous day.

Now, what is driving oil to the hundred buck mark? Well, the sinking dollar, speculation of another Fed rate cut, worries about inadequate supplies. But most of all, it's worldwide demand that is fueling prices higher. And where oil goes, so must the price of gasoline.

Take a look at this, where the national average for regular self- serve gasoline is, $3.09 a gallon. That's up 27 cents from a month ago, and prices are expected to go higher, as much as 20 cents a gallon higher.

My advice, don't pay for the higher octane premium gas if you're buying gas today. Most engines are designed to take regular unleaded. So it's a waste of money. And now is the time to get a gas rebate card, one that offers a rebate of at least three percent on purchase. Two good ones out there we've discovered, Discover's Open Road Card and Chase's Perfect Card -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Well, that's interesting. And as I said, we are trying to focus on the holidays, but after Thanksgiving obviously we have the Christmas season. More travel, more people on the roads.

How do we save money on travel without actually breaking our wallet at the pumps?

WILLIS: Well, I think you've got to think about what you're buying and where you're buying it, and making sure you get the best price. At the end of the day, so many people are using premium gas in their cars. And I've got to tell you, most engines don't require it. Even if they do, you probably won't hurt your engine. You really need to check your user's manual to make sure you're using the right gas, but don't pay higher if you don't have to.

COLLINS: All right. We'll be looking into that one definitely. Some good advice.

Thank you. Gerri Willis, appreciate it.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

HARRIS: Dog-gone oil prices.

COLLINS: Yes.

HARRIS: A hundred dollars a barrel. Gas prices going -- I'm sorry, we are on television, aren't we?

OK.

COLLINS: You're bitter. Down right bitter.

HARRIS: In the NEWSROOM this morning -- well, look, slow-going for those hungry for turkey. Blame it on some foul weather, particularly in the Midwest. Travel trouble update in just minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: All right, let's take you to the New York Stock Exchange. Boy, the big bell to start the trading day. Sounding just moments ago towards the opening moments of the trading day. We really need to build on this. C'mon, yesterday, 51 points to the good. We'd like to get away for the big Thanksgiving holiday weekend. With a really positive day of business news.

Right out of the gate, we're down 18 points or so. But there's still plenty of time. The business today, we can turn this around. And we're up oh, my. What happened? 18 to 82? What the heck just happened here? All right. We are following all of the numbers throughout the day, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: Heidi, if I can, just before we went to the opening bell, we were down 18 points. We go to the dog on big board down 82 points.

COLLINS: What did you do? Quit talking about it.

HARRIS: I got to stop talking about it because I jeopardize every time I say something. The goal of 15,000 by the end of the year.

Anyway, good morning, everyone, welcome back.

COLLINS: We abandoned that a long time ago.

HARRIS: Oh, we did?

COLLINS: Yes, a long time ago.

HARRIS: Good morning, I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi, everybody, I'm Heidi Collins.

Obviously today, the story is the travel. In fact, millions of you are on the move today. Thanksgiving travel expected to set an all-time record. Feels like we say that every year but whether you're hitting the roads, the rails or the skies, we do have you covered.

Let's check in, first off, with meteorologist Rob Marciano who is watching the weather for us. And you know, Rob, I'm really proud of you. I think this is your third day in a row of appearing in NEWSROOM. It's nice to have you.

HARRIS: He showed up to work.

COLLINS: I'm sorry. (INAUDIBLE). They're telling me that in my ear.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Look, don't expect a lot of room to stretch out on your flight. Are you watching from the airport right now? AAA says almost 5 million of you are expected to fly this Thanksgiving. Live now to New York's noisy LaGuardia Airport and senior correspondent Allan Chernoff. Allan, what is the view from LaGuardia?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, the view here, it's perfect. Don't you love telling good news? We've got a great news story right here. Have a look at this board. The American Airlines departure board, every single flight on time. Just spectacular. And come over here. Have a look.

Normally, this time of day, you'd have a line snaking across through that hallway of people waiting to go through security. No line at all. TSA opened here at 4:30 in the morning. We beefed up staff and by 25 percent for today. And back over here, American Airlines has extra kiosks and also at every check and counter, there's a ticket agent so there is no waiting to check in your bag.

But the most important thing of all is the weather today. We spoke to the general manager here at LaGuardia and he told us that he is exceedingly pleased with how things are going so far. Let's have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN KROEPPEL, LAGUARDIA GENERAL MANAGER: The good news also was the weather has been helping us today.

CHERNOFF: OK. Well, tell me about the weather situation. I mean, how badly can that mess you up and how is it helping you today?

KROEPPEL: Today, it's helping us because the only place we have some real delays is in Chicago area, but it's not bad. It's only about 15 minutes because of rain. If you had a major snowstorm at any major metropolitan area that would cause ground stops which basically domino through the system and a heavy snowstorm in, let's say, Dallas or in Chicago could affect flights here at LaGuardia.

CHERNOFF: But today?

KROEPPEL: Today, the weather is good through the country. We're staffed and ready for this and the flights are moving on time at LaGuardia today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHERNOFF: Well, I can't tell you how long it's going to last. But so far, as he said, Tony, everything running smoothly here.

HARRIS: Oh, we love a good news story. Allan Chernoff for us in LaGuardia in New York City. Appreciate it. Allan, thank you.

COLLINS: Let's go ahead and see how Ed Lavandera is doing on his cross-country trek now. He is with us this morning from Denver which is a very good sign. Ed, I know you got to get through security as all the people are kind of whizzing past you there. So, tell us how things are going.

LAVANDERA: Well, we're going to check in here right before we start going through security. You know, Heidi, the best part about getting a report from down here and people are going to staring at you and they're wondering why you're talking to yourself because they don't know that the camera is 50 yards away from where we are. So, they all think I'm from outer space or something.

But anyway, the line from what we've seen here is about ten minutes to get through security watching other people get through. But you can see here, the officials are well prepared to handle a crush of people here. About 15 rows here that they can handle people. There's also like six checking agents here with they're checking identifications and all ten lanes are open as well. So, they are really trying to get people moving through here as quickly as possible. Denver International is known for having some incredibly slow security lines and one of the thing that they wanted to improve on this week was try to get people through here in at least 20 minutes. Two months ago, there had been reports they were taking some people 45 minutes to get through the security lines but they are quickly moving people. So, we'll see -- we'll check in with you on the other side is what we'll do -- Heidi?

COLLINS: Thank you, Ed. Also, I'm curious to know, any idea if there has been an update on that baggage system that they had put into place at CIA? Forever ago, it seems like it was all automated. It was the fancy schmancy (ph) thing, are they still having trouble with that, do you know?

LAVANDERA: I haven't heard. I've flown out of here several times and haven't had any problem. We just checked our luggage a little while ago. If my luggage doesn't show up in New York tomorrow, I'll let you know.

COLLINS: All right, Ed, very good. We'll be watching you. Thanks. Ed Lavandera in Denver's International Airport for us this morning.

LAVANDERA: All right, see you later.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, if you are hitting the road or flying the skies make cnn.com your first destination. Check out our special report "Holiday Travel" and get an online travel kit with tips on where to go and how to best get there. Plus, send us an I-report showing us your travel experiences. So far, because that could be fun for us. That and more at cnn.com/holidaytravel.

HARRIS: Atlanta's new Narcotics Unit and a warning to drug dealers a year after a police killing. The story in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: A New Atlanta Police Narcotics Unit, the result of a drug raid that killed a 92-year-old woman, one year ago today. Her grieving family plans to sue. Joining us now is Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington. Chief Pennington, great to see you.

RICHARD PENNINGTON, ATLANTA POLICE CHIEF: Good morning.

HARRIS: Well, it's great to have you here. Last year, you said the killing -- I got it right here. Katherine Johnston, 92-year-old woman in her home. Tore at the heart of the community. How was that expressed to you? I mean, you said it. How was that demonstrated? How was that expressed to you?

PENNINGTON: Well, it was demonstrated to me going out into the public community meetings, at the church meetings, just hearing it from the residents, complaining about how they were mistreated by some of the narcotics officers, how they were treated by some of the police officers that worked in the precinct. HARRIS: Now, before we talk about some of the changes that you made with the Narcotics Unit, you have to sort of tell us what all of this meant to you personally, as a man who spent (INAUDIBLE) -- you spent most of your life in adult life in law enforcement.

PENNINGTON: Yes, that's true.

HARRIS: D.C., there in New Orleans trying to clean up corruption there and now you've got -- what is this major corruption case in the Atlanta Police Department. And the killing of this woman, 92 years old in her home, and then you hear this from the community. How did it resonate for you personally?

PENNINGTON: Well, it resonated for me personally because normally, I'm always on top of corruption.

HARRIS: Yes.

PENNINGTON: There's signs, warning signs there. I didn't see any. I had been the chief over four years.

HARRIS: So, you didn't see this coming?

PENNINGTON: No, no, I didn't see it coming. I had been here four years as chief and normally, you can get a sense of whether or not your department is corrupt based on complaints from citizens. People that complain about narcotics, drug units and vice units, and so on, I didn't get that.

HARRIS: Did you feel, in some way, shape or form, you had somehow failed?

PENNINGTON: No, I didn't feel that way because, first of all, I thought we had mechanisms, systems and mechanisms in place to detect that. We had a pretty aggressive Internal Affairs Unit but the complaints weren't coming in about that type of activity. And so, I was really surprised when I went out to the public after the shooting occurred and started to get a sense.

HARRIS: And you started to hear what was coming back.

PENNINGTON: Yes.

HARRIS: (INAUDIBLE) which we will get to in a moment by this whole idea of engaging in the community. But let's talk about some of the changes you're making with the Narcotics Unit because what I'm hearing is that, a lot of departments around the country are watching you right now with some of the changes you're implementing because it perhaps will be a blueprint for law enforcement communities all around the country.

So, the first thing you did, I suppose, you should increased the actual size of the Narcotics Unit. Talk to us about what you about did there and why you did it.

PENNINGTON: OK. Well, first of all, there's a large appetite for drugs in Atlanta region. And so I doubled the size of the Narcotics Unit even though the shooting occurred. It didn't curtail the amount of narcotics that come through our community. So, I thought it was important to double the size of the Narcotic Unit.

HARRIS: From what to what?

PENNINGTON: We went from 15 to 30 and that's for major drug investigations and mid level drug investigations. We still have the street level people out there but I thought it was important because the number of large number of drugs that are coming into our community.

HARRIS: How about the training? I mean, I understand this is stepped up ingenious training.

PENNINGTON: Oh, yes. The training is probably one of the best training programs in the nation. We brought in the Drug Enforcement Administration. We brought in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, we brought in the high intensity drug area intensity group and still, we brought all these activities in, and we put our collaboration.

HARRIS: To make your team better?

PENNINGTON: Make it better. Make them more knowledgeable about what to look for, how to investigate drug complainants and we changed our surveillance activities. Our search warrant activities. Our no knock activities.

HARRIS: Let's talk about no knock. Because that is at the center of this. This was a woman in her home who thought the knuckle heads were coming in to rob her, so she grabs a gun to defend herself, fires a shot, and the next thing you know, she's shot dead.

PENNINGTON: Right.

HARRIS: And this was based on the fact that the folks and the officers were entering her home on a no-knock warrant. What have you done here?

PENNINGTON: Well, first of all, I've changed our procedures about no-knock warrants. In the past, when Miss Johnston was killed, the first line supervisors would review the no-knock warrants and then they would be taken to a judge. Now, it has to be approved and reviewed by a higher level ranking police official. At least a major and above. And so, that was the first thing I had to change because I didn't like the way the first line supervisors were looking at the no- knock warrant, sign it up and then taking that directly to a judge.

HARRIS: One final question, the two officers who pled guilty. And I know that they cooperated there, probably more indictments to come in all of this. What are your thoughts? A year later on the officers who, the city of Atlanta employed who were involved in this? What are you thoughts?

PENNINGTON: Well, my thought is first of all, I want to make it perfectly clear that 99 percent of my officers do an outstanding job each and every day. And we do not condone what those other officers did. We don't train our officers to lie. And those officers, I believe that all they had to do was just tell truth. And when the investigation first happened, all they had to do was come forward and say, we made a mistake and then we could of dealt with it. But they lied. They tried to change the story. Try to get the informant to change their story and as a result they ended up pleading out.

HARRIS: You feel you're moving forward, last though, you feel like you're moving forward in a positive way?

PENNINGTON: Yes, I do. And the reason I say that is because we still trying to meet with the community. Tonight, we're having a candlelight vigil at one of our community churches and invite the community out and extend the volume and branch to the community and let them know that we're really sorry about what happened and we don't condone that type of activity.

HARRIS: And I know you got to hurdle the face of your own. I know that the family is going to sue and that you're going to be named in that lawsuit as well and I won't ask you about that because you won't give me an answer about that anyway. But its great to see you and happy holidays.

PENNINGTON: Same to you.

HARRIS: Thanks, I appreciate it. Yes, thank you.

COLLINS: A bad rap. Hip hop artist, T.I. says police violated his rights when he was arrested on weapons charges last month. Clifford Harris, his real name, is accused of trying to buy unregistered machine guns and silencers but he wants a judge to throw out the evidence. His attorneys say his car was searched illegally. They're also questioning whether his detention and police interviews were handled properly.

Prosecutors on Michael Vick case are worried with all of the suspended NFL stars legal problems. There might not be enough money left to care for his pit bulls. They're asking a judge to freeze almost $1 million. Vick agreed to pay for the dogs care as part of his plea deal on federal dog fighting charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced December 10th and still faces state charges.

Home is apparently where the hole is. Just ask the so-called mole man of Fresno, California.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Most of us would call it a hole in the ground but its home, sweet home to one man. Derrol Nail of affiliate KMPH explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DERROL NAIL, AFFILIATE KMPH: Home for Bruise Stacy is where the hole is.

BRUCE STACY, THE MOLE MAN: Mole man and, you know, they will call me golfer man or whatever, too.

NAIL: The 50-year-old homeless carpenter built a 10-foot deep, 200-square foot underground fortress himself.

STACY: I've use mostly a hammer and shovel and a pick.

NAIL: It took two months of hard work and he even built green.

STACY: I find all of the nails and the plywood and the beams and the 2 x 6s and roofing material all thrown away.

NAIL: Plywood boards make the roof and it has...

STACY: Torch down roofing so when it does rain it doesn't leak through.

NAIL: A ledge is where he sleeps.

STACY: So, it stays really nice underground, like it's probably 75 degrees always, you know.

NAIL: And in a corner, the kitchen, but don't come over for dinner. Bruce doesn't like visitors. If the police or some strangers come to the front door then Bruce just jumps through his emergency exit here and then just slides this board out of the way and pops up out of the hole and goes running down the highway. You don't have to worry about anybody trying to take over your home?

STACY: Except for the rats, yes, that's about it.

NAIL: Bruce loves living underground. He has built six such holes over the past two years but there's one big draw back.

How do you keep the place clean?

STACY: Well, that, my friend, is the hard part. The hard part of my program.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Stacy may not have his home for long. He says state workers plan to bulldoze the place pretty soon.

HARRIS: You arrive at your Thanksgiving destination. Your bags don't. A travel expert on coping with lost luggage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the run down. Your trip to Thanksgiving dinner to grandma's house. A messy storm in the heartland might make you tardy for turkey.

COLLINS: Oil just heading for the $100 a barrel mark. How high will they go?

HARRIS: And there's more Africa than famine and war. "Ebony" magazine's year long look at the Africa you don't know. The magazine's senior editor live this Wednesday, November 21st. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2013 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.