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AMERICAN MORNING

Democrats Wary of Obama's War Plan; Tiger Woods' Chooses to Remain Silent on Accident; Pirates Hijack Oil Tanker; Iran Defies United Nations; Iran Defies UN; Black Friday Effect; Dems Watching the Clock

Aired November 30, 2009 - 06:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, it is Monday, November 30th. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Joe Johns in for John Roberts. Here are the big stories we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes or so.

President Obama preparing for a possible surge of troops to combat surging violence and danger in Afghanistan. But some in the president's own party are already voicing their opposition to that buildup. We're live at the White House with new developments.

CHETRY: Tiger Woods taking a lot of heat and more questions this morning. The world's greatest golfer again choosing to say nothing about his Friday SUV crash. Police now being told that he is not talking to them. Tiger turning to the Internet to plead for privacy. We're live in Central Florida where a superstar is trying to stay out of the media spotlight.

JOHNS: And the holiday shopping season is in full swing now. Today is cyber Monday, so online shops are slashing prices to get you clicking and buying while you're at work using the business computer for personal use.

Plus, did retailers out on the red on Black Friday. Our economic experts will break it down in just a little bit.

CHETRY: We begin though with the countdown to President Obama's new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, a plan that's expected to call for an additional 34,000 U.S. troops with allies sending a few thousand more. But as the president prepares to address a skeptical American public tomorrow night, it's becoming clear that some members of his own party need convincing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: I do not believe we should send more combat forces at this time. That's been my position. Combat forces are where we are the ones doing the fighting without an Afghan partner. If we have Afghan partners that are fully involved in the fight, partnering with us which is on the job training for them, critically important. I can be more supportive.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: Our Suzanne Malveaux is the only reporter live at the White House this early in the morning. And, Suzanne, as we talk about the big challenges that the president faces in presenting his plan, some of them are right there within his own party.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, it's one of the main challenges, Kiran, that you know, the president faces. And what the president really has to do on Tuesday evening is show that there's a clear commitment on the side of the Afghan government here that there is a direct correlation between the increase in U.S. troops and also an increase in Afghan security forces.

On the one hand, you have U.S. trainers, additional equipment that can obviously help with building up that Afghan security force. But what about those tens of thousands of combat troops from the United States that are going to be directly involved in taking on the insurgents in this growing Taliban?

This could be kind of a murky ambiguous mission, if you will. That's what people are afraid of. That's what the challenges senior administration officials I talked to say, look, they understand that the president has to make it very clear what his mission is and that in fact the Afghanistan government has a commitment on its side and that there's going to be an exit strategy here. That they're not going to be tied down in something that is an unending and unyielding, Kiran.

CHETRY: And so, as the president gets ready to address the nation on this issue tomorrow night, what do we expect the president to say?

MALVEAUX: Well, there's certainly going to be some things that senior administration officials say are going to be very clear. First of all, we're talking about somewhere in the range of 35,000 additional U.S. forces that the president is going to call for. This is going to be a total of 100,000 or so U.S. troops that are going to be on the ground in Afghanistan.

The cost of this they're talking about $75 billion a year for this war effort, but they're also going to say that, look, NATO allies are contributing about 5,000 forces or so. And they're going to be clear benchmarks, some expectations from the Afghan government in terms of what they need to do alongside U.S. forces, along U.S. trainers, alongside U.S. trainers so that they can go ahead, move forward and make progress on their side. So that, yes, there is going to be some sort of time, some sort of exit strategy depending on whether or not those goals are actually met, Kiran.

CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning, thank you. And stay with CNN. We're going to have live coverage, special coverage of the president's speech. It begins tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

JOHNS: Other stories we're following this morning. As President Obama gets ready to announce a surge of troops into Afghanistan, a new report by Senate Democrats are saying, we didn't have enough people there after 9/11 and we let bin Laden get away. It's blaming the Bush administration for not capturing or killing the terror leader just three months after September 11th. The report says bin Laden was cornered in Afghanistan's mountainous Tora Bora region and was even expecting to die, even wrote his will on December 14th. But there were not enough troops in the area to stop him from slipping over the border into Pakistan where he's believed to be to this day.

CHETRY: The Senate will start the debate on its health care bill in just a few hours. Discussions are expected to last several weeks. Republicans are standing together all opposing the bill. In fact, Minority Whip Senator Jon Kyl is urging Democrats to throw out the bill and start over. Some moderate Democrats have said that they expect, that they will possibly help the GOP block the bill if the, quote, "public option or government-run insurance plan remains part of it."

JOHNS: Another big story this morning we've been following for a while.

Tiger Woods stirring up a lot of attention with his silence this morning for a third straight time, failed to meet with police about that SUV crash outside his home early Friday. His lawyer now telling the Florida highway patrol, Woods will not be chatting with them any time soon, but the golf star did make a statement on his Web site saying he's embarrassed about this whole episode and needs some privacy right now.

Our Susan Candiotti is live in Tiger's Windermere, Florida neighborhood this morning.

Hi, Susan, what's going on?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Joe. Well, you know, by law, Tiger Woods didn't have to talk with police and he didn't. But why have them come out to the house more than once only to turn them away? Investigators say that's pretty unusual for such a minor accident.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Three times not the charm for investigators trying to get Tiger Woods to talk about his late-night driveway crash into a fire hydrant and a tree.

JON WERTHEIM, SENIOR WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": It is strange that we have seen these broken appointments.

CANDIOTTI: With questions swirling around him and the Florida highway patrol turned away three times that has a lot of people even more curious. He issued a statement on his Web site saying he wants to keep the incident a family matter.

"This situation is my fault," Woods says, "and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again." But what does that mean? Is he talking about an accident or something else? WERTHEIM: That's definitely the line that gets the yellow highlighter. That if this is a standard, just random occurrence, if he flukily (ph) has a car accident, you know, you're not quite sure why he's making promises if something will or won't happen in the future.

CANDIOTTI: Fact is, by Florida law, Woods didn't have to talk with police. Instead, he did only what he had to do, provide them his driver's license, registration and proof of insurance.

Woods' lawyer handed them over but investigators left the house without coming face to face with the biggest name in golf. Woods' agent gave CNN the following statement. "Although Tiger realizes there is a great deal of public curiosity, it has been conveyed to FHP that he simply has nothing more to add and wishes to protect the privacy of his family."

In his own statement, Woods also refers to his wife. Police say she told them she bashed out the SUV's rear passenger windows with a golf club to get him out of the locked car. "She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false."

Yet again, Woods doesn't explain what false assertions he means. Last week a story in the "National Enquirer" alleged Woods had been seeing a New York nightclub hostess. That woman arrived in Los Angeles Sunday to meet with Attorney Gloria Allred and denied having an affair with Woods when she was contacted by "The Associated Press."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Investigators might be getting a subpoena for Woods' medical records. And his lawyer's says that his client won't have anything more to say about this, leaving investigators and others to wonder what really happened that night -- Joe.

JOHNS: Susan Candiotti in Windermere, Florida. Thanks, Susan.

In about 20 minutes, we'll be joined by David Dusek. He's the deputy editor of Golf.com. He's got some interesting things to say about the impact of this incident on Tiger's career and his endorsements.

CHETRY: Seven and a half minutes past the hour. Other stories new this morning, the manhunt is on for a cop killer. Police in Seattle may be closing in on 37-year-old Maurice Clemmons (ph). He's a person of interest in the killing of four Washington State police officers.

The AP says shots were fired at a Seattle house where it's believed Clemmons could be hiding. Authorities say Clemmons (ph) had a 95-year prison sentence commuted by then Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee back in 2000. Huckabee's office says the commutation was based on the parole board's recommendation. All of the four officers killed were parents. The shooter opened fire without warning and police have yet to come up with a possible motive. JOHNS: Secret Service agents have now interviewed the Virginia couple that crashed a White House state dinner last week. The questioning took place Friday and Saturday. According to a senior federal official, no word on what was discussed. We're told agents may want to interview Michaele and Tareq Salahi again and may bring criminal charges against the couple.

CHETRY: And the price of 12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers piping and so on and so on will cost you more this holiday. Every year the folks at PNC Wealth Management measure the cost if you were actually to buy the 12 days of Christmas, all the items in the song. And this year the price tag to buy all of the gifts in the holiday carol, $87,403. It's about -- it's up about 800 bucks from last year. The main reason for that is the five golden rings because, you know...

JOHNS: Yes.

CHETRY: ... gold has been shooting up. They went more than a thousand dollars an ounce. So that's 43 percent above. But we were looking at some of the other --

JOHNS: It's amazing. I mean, think about that. That's why -- and you don't realize how many birds are in the song. There's a partridge in a pear tree.

CHETRY: There's turtle doves. But the other weird thing is that the most expensive thing --

JOHNS: What's up with that?

CHETRY: The most expensive thing that you would get here is the nine ladies dancing at $5,473 per performance.

JOHNS: Right.

CHETRY: It's the costliest item.

JOHNS: Ladies dancing is more than lords a leaping.

CHETRY: That's right.

JOHNS: It's gender discrimination, I think.

CHETRY: There you go. I don't know exactly how they calculate this thing, but we do it every year and we read it every year.

JOHNS: All right.

CHETRY: Still ahead, Iran is vowing to build ten more nuclear facilities. A slap in the face to U.S. diplomacy. Our Reza Sayah is live with the latest.

Ten minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Twelve minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

We do have some breaking news right now to tell you about. Another pirate attack off the coast of Africa. Naval authorities say that Somali pirates hijacked a super tanker carrying crude oil from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. This was a Greek-owned ship traveling about 800 miles off the coast when it was attacked late last night with 28 crew members on board.

It is believed to be just the second Somali pirate attack ever on an oil tanker. As we talked about last week, a failed attempt to attack for the second time the Maersk Alabama traveling in that same area. But when you take a look at how far away 800 miles off the coast, it shows you how pirates have been able to change their tactics, carry out these attacks further and further off the coast of Somalia.

JOHNS: It's very, very difficult to try to get a handle on the situation like that. Because there's so mobile and it's such a wide area, the authorities, even if they put a ship in, you know, every 10 or 15 nautical miles it'd still be a huge problem.

CHETRY: Yes.

JOHNS: All right. We'll be keeping up with that as the morning goes on.

A financial sandstorm in Dubai. Meanwhile, the city's main stock exchange took a pounding today closing down more than six percent. Today was its first day of trading after the financial arm of Dubai said it needed more time to pay back $60 billion in debt.

CHETRY: Well, Voters in Switzerland approved a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets, those distinctive towers on Muslim places of worship. The measure proposed by right wing parties passed with nearly 58 percent of the vote. Critics say the ban violates international law and guarantees of religious freedom. Switzerland is home to 350,000 Muslims.

Another developing story this morning, Iran's message of defiance. On Friday, the United Nations demanded Iran cease all work on its enrichment activities of uranium. Well now, Iran is not only refusing but actually vowing to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants which it claims will only be used to produce energy. The announcement was immediately condemned by the White House.

We're digging deeper on this story with the global resources of CNN. Reza Sayah is live in Islamabad. So what is the strategy for Iran behind this move?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, Iran is certainly raising the stakes with this announcement and sending out a very aggressive message that they're not going to back down to pressure coming from Washington and western powers. You think you have to look at the historic talks in Vienna about six weeks ago. That's when Iran was offered a deal brokered by the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, and that's when they had two options. They could either accept the deal that would send most of its enriched uranium out of the country in return for safe nuclear fuel design for medical research. That was an option that the Western powers and Washington would have been satisfied with and at least temporarily would have taken away the threat of Iran going after nuclear bombs. It at least brought about the potential of improved relations with the west.

Option number two was for Iran to say, no, we're going to keep our nuclear program as is and continue to enrich our own uranium without outside interference. According to our sources, there was a debate in Iran among Iran's hard line leaders, and clearly, the winner that has emerged is the faction that didn't want to improve relations with the West and wanted to keep Iran's nuclear program as is and continue to enrich uranium despite the threat of further economic sanctions and isolation by the international community.

So, Kiran, this an announcement. It certainly doesn't bode well for the path of diplomacy which US President Barack Obama says he's committed to.

CHETRY: Right, and, you know, the ball's in Washington's court now. So what can leaders do here beyond condemning this plan?

SAYAH: Yes, I think you can expect talks about another -- a fourth round of economic sanctions. But keep in mind that Iran has dismissed and shrugged off the possibility of economic sanctions. For the most part analysts say those sanctions have been ineffective because Iran has continued to make progress with its nuclear program.

The key is if they can deliver a tougher round of sanctions with Russia and China on board. Remember, Russia and China historically had been reluctant to be on board with tougher sanctions because Iran has been a valuable trade partner for them.

Also, don't be surprised if those who are more hawkish on Iran, including Israel, to start talking about military action as an option, which is certainly going to add more fuel to the fire, Kiran.

CHETRY: It is. Reza Sayah for us this morning in Islamabad. Thank you.

JOHNS: Black Friday brought out the crowds, but are they buying enough to make it count is the big question. We'll look into how holiday shopping fits into the recovery.

It is now 16 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Hot and cold -- that is the story of retail in the United States. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

The holiday shopping season is officially upon us as Black Friday gives way to Cyber Monday. So, how did the first weekend go is the big question. To help us answer that, we're joined by two of our favorite economic guests, Jacki Zehner is a founding partner in Circle Financial Group, and Bill Cohan is a contributor with "Fortune Magazine" and author of "House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street."

Thanks for coming in. Good morning. Happy Cyber Monday, as it were. I'm going to rush right over to my computer that CNN owns as soon as this is done and -- and start spending a whole bunch of money on Overstock.com. No.

My -- my simple question, I guess, for you is when we were going through all the information that -- that was delivered to us, we looked at something and ran into a conflict, or at least it looked like that. Five percent increase in overall spending, yet shoppers on average spent less on their purchases compared to a year ago. What does that mean? What does that tell us?

JACKI ZEHNER, FOUNDING PARTNER, CIRCLE FINANCIAL GROUP: Well, I was at the mall on Friday and Saturday, and clearly a lot of people were out shopping. I think it was estimated around 195 million people went shopping on Black Friday, up from about 170 million last year.

JOHNS: So volume of people in the stores?

ZEHNER: More people there but spending a little less, about $50 less from -- from last year. And I know the stores that were busy, highly discounted items, people looking for bargains, buying what they need. But, you know, the luxury retailers or anything that wasn't on sale, it was empty.

JOHNS: Got it. All right. So, the next question is about overextending yourself versus living within your means, which is sort of the constant rub, if you will, the friction that's out there. Are we going to see a little bit more balance from now, you think going forward? Have people started changing habits that's going to remain with them once we get out of the recession?

WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, "HOUSE OF CARDS": I don't know about changing habits, Joe. I mean, it shows that Americans remain as hardwired as ever to buy and to shop, and now they're being very targeted about what they're buying, they're being very focused about trying to get those bargains that may be out there before other people get there.

I just hope they are aren't using their credit cards to, you know, reload up on debt because one of the -- the nice things that there can be said about what's happened in this financial crisis is people have personally started to delever, personally started to reduce the amount of credit card debt they have, and to reup on that front doesn't -- doesn't do them any good.

JOHNS: But if we're so accustomed now to these bargains, that we run into the stores and buy, when they go back up to full price, are people just going to stop paying that? COHAN: Yes. Sure. Why would you -- why would you pay full price? Unless you're my wife, why would you pay full price unless -- if you didn't have to?

JOHNS: But the question is will the stores realize that they can't go back up to full price?

COHAN: I think the stores are very, very smart and they're very good about getting people in there by focusing on whatever it is, 72- inch big screen TV that they figure people want and can get at hundreds of dollars off. And I think the idea is to force the traffic into the stores and see what else that hard wired gene comes up with while they're there.

JOHNS: All right. Now everyone is watching the stock market bounce back from March. The S&P 500 up -- up around 21 percent or so. But there are we celebrating too early? You know, there are some people out there saying, oh, it's over. Let's roll again.

ZEHNER: I think we are celebrating too early. We've had a massive recovery. You know, a lot of people, myself included would say this doesn't make a lot of sense. As mentioned, the deleveraging process continues. The consumer is still hunched over. It's hard to imagine where growth is going to come from and a lot of the -- what we're being driven by now is cost cutting, so -- but the earnings are just not there.

And I -- I continue to be very concerned about sort of the quick recovery and would look for a pull back.

JOHNS: Yes. There's also the question about the housing market in there. You -- you see conflicting -- again -- information in the newspapers, suggestion of a double dip housing recession, what have you.

What about housing and -- and how does that affect the rest of the story for us?

COHAN: Well, you know, first of all, there's -- there's commercial real estate, which is, you know, tangental to the housing market, also in big trouble. You know, what -- what people --

You know, if people feel good about the value of their home, they feel good about whether they can keep their jobs and have their jobs in the future, then they'll spend money. But if they feel poorly about the value of their home, if they're worried about their job, as many people are and, you know, and should be.

I mean, you know, 10 percent plus unemployment, 17 percent plus people out there not looking for jobs any more, who feel like their jobs have maybe gone away on a permanent basis. People like that aren't going to be spending a lot of money, Joe, and that's going to take a long time before people recover from that and want to start spending again.

So I'm not -- I'm not as sanguine as, you know, the -- the, you know, the rise in holiday sales numbers would suggest.

JOHNS: Got it. All right.

Thanks. Bill Cohan, Jacki Zehner, thanks so much for coming in, and let's hit the computers.

ZEHNER: Spend, spend, spend (ph).

JOHNS: Back to you, Kiran.

CHETRY: And let's hope William's wife slept in today, otherwise you got some explaining to do.

All right guys. Thanks.

Well, still ahead, we're going to be talking to David Dusek from Golf.com. We're also going to be joined by Thomas Ruskin. He is a former NYPD officer.

We're going to be talking about the Tiger Woods crash, the impact on his career and endorsements and why the police are still wanting to talk to Tiger about this accident. Do they have any type of leeway in doing this? If he decides not to talk, where can they go from here?

Twenty-five minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

The Senate starts debate on its health care bill in just a few hours.

CHETRY: That's right. But already the number two Republican in the chamber, Senator John Kyl is telling Democrats that the bill is no good. He wants to start over. And even with an uphill battle in front of them, Democrats are already watching the clock.

Our Jim Acosta is tracking the story for us from Washington this morning. Hey, Jim!

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran and Joe. You know, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have a few Maalox moments between now and Christmas, and it wouldn't be because of the Thanksgiving leftovers.

The Senate, as you said, is scheduled to begin debate later today, around 3:00 this afternoon, on a final health care reform bill. But the real question that's looming over Capitol Hill is whether the debate will ever stop.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You are hereby pardoned. ACOSTA (voice-over): If only the president could get a pardon for health care reform, his signature initiative that's in danger of being plucked to death in the Senate. Already, calls to delay the bill are coming in, including one from a key Republican, once a close colleague of Mr. Obama's in Congress, who argues there are more pressing issues to tackle.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: The war is terribly important. Jobs and our economy are terribly important. So I -- this may be an audacious suggestion, but I would suggest we put aside the health care debate until next year.

ACOSTA: Democrats are staring at their calendar with dread after hoping to wrap up their work by December 18th, less than three weeks from now. Congressional leaders are warning members they may work weekends right up to Christmas, fearing any delay on health care will kill the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to go ahead and conclude this debate. To stop now would be stopping on the edge of I think significant reform, which is so important for the country.

ACOSTA: And any amendment could drag down the bill in the Senate, from anti-abortion Democrats who want to restrict spending on abortion to party conservatives who want to water down the public option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be very reluctant to support legislation that does not have a strong public option.

ACOSTA: Some Democrats aren't even sure the bill lowers health care costs, one of the president's chief objectives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to cover the uninsured, yes. But don't want to do it in a way that's going to drive up the cost for folks who currently have it. That's one of the biggest complaints that I hear from people.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And with time winding down, health care will have to share the spotlight. There are congressional spending bills to keep the government running, an upcoming climate change summit in Copenhagen. And unemployment, the one issue many Republicans hope to ride right into next year's midterm elections.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS: The number issue in this country is jobs. Getting people to work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And now that the debate is moving forward, Democrats will need 60 votes to stop it. And the political obituary for health care reform has been written before. Democratic leaders have had plenty of chances to leave it for dead, but there are no signs they are backing down now.

And, Joe and Kiran, you heard of the miracle on 34th street. They will need a miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue to get this bill to the president's desk.

CHETRY: All right. We'll see how it goes. Jim Acosta for us this morning. Thanks.

JOHNS: Crossing the half hour, checking our top stories. Rush Limbaugh is proving once again he's still the life of the Grand Old Party. A new poll by "60 Minutes" and "Vanity Fair," found 26 percent of Americans think he's the most influential conservative. Glenn Beck was second with 11 percent of the vote. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin came in third with 10 percent.

Big bucks for bullet trains. It looks like there will be stiff competition over federal money for a high speed rail system. States have asked for $57 billion in funding for high speed rail development, far more than what's available. The Federal Railroad Administration will begin handing out $8 billion in stimulus money in late January or February. There's possibility for several billion more under consideration in Congress.

A new study says early detection and behavior treatment can dramatically improve the quality of life of children with autism. Researchers at the University of Washington studied 48 autistic kids who began getting treatments as early at 18 months old. They say within two years their IQs increased by an average of close to 18 points and 30 percent of the kids were re-diagnosed with a less severe form of autism.

CHETRY: Amazing. Well, it's 32 minutes after the hour right now. Back to the story that everybody is talking about this morning.

Gold great Tiger Woods and his car accident right in front of his Florida home, Friday. Tiger is not talking. He did release a statement, though, to his Web site. Police though have been told that he has nothing more to say to them. Meanwhile, there is a lot of speculation about what really happened in the moments before and after that accident, and whether there is another woman in the middle of the mess.

Meanwhile, police have released tapes from a 911 call that a neighbor made moments after the crash. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

PARAMEDIC: What happened? What's wrong?

CALLER: I have a neighbor, he hit the tree. And we came out here just to see what was going on. I see him and he's laying down.

PARAMEDIC: Hit a tree? You mean he was in an auto accident?

CALLER: Yes, there was an auto accident, yes.

PARAMEDIC: Is he unconscious?

CALLER: Yes.

PARAMEDIC: OK. Are you able to tell if he's breathing?

CALLER: Uh, no, I can't tell right now.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CHETRY: So with all the rumors swirling around, Woods right now, could this incident impact his career and all those lucrative endorsements? And also what are investigators investigating at this point?

Joining me now David Dusek. He's the deputy editor of Golf.com. And for more about what police may want to know, former NYPD detective Tom Ruskin joins us on the phone in just a moment.

But let me start with you, David. Thanks for being here this morning.

DAVID DUSEK, DEPUTY EDITOR, GOLF.COM: Sure.

CHETRY: I know this story has really dominated the headlines, all of the newspapers, on the front page of "USA Today," "New York Post," "New York Daily News."

I mean, technically on its face, isn't this just a single car crash outside of his home?

DUSEK: But this is also we're talking about the most iconic sports figure and one of the biggest celebrities on the planet. So nothing is sort of self contained. Nothing is ever going to be allowed basically in this sort of media environment that we're in with Twitter and the Internet where news travels explosively around the globe. Nothing ever is self contained when it comes to celebrities. And Tiger Woods is a celebrity. It's just absolutely enormous.

CHETRY: So he released a statement on his Web site that reads in part. He said, "The situation is my fault. It's a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity and many false, unfounded and malicious rumors circulating about me and my family that are irresponsible."

DUSEK: Right.

CHETRY: So he's sort of touching on the fact that people believe or at least it's being rumored that there's more to this than a simple car crash.

DUSEK: Right.

CHETRY: Does it end with that statement.

DUSEK: Well, I think Tiger hopes it ends with that statement. But at the same time, when Tiger Woods -- he's not really speaking, does not come out and really address these things head on, that creates something of a vacuum. And right now that vacuum is being filled by a lot of rumors by a lot of tabloid style journalism that's going on out there. A lot of which, he has worked his entire career to stay out of. The name of his yacht is Privacy. This is the last thing in the world that Tiger Woods really wants to deal with. This tabloids and rumors, things that go beyond his control.

Legally, from this stand point, we know all the reports that he's done, everything that he is obligated to do. And I know that your next guest can probably speak to that a little bit more.

More than anything else Tiger Woods just probably wants this to go away, focus back on his family, make sure that everybody, you know, in his circle, is taken care of at this point. That's what he works basically every day to do, along with making himself the best athlete, you know, one of best athletes on the planet.

CHETRY: Well, we talked about the malicious rumors, and he addressed them himself. One of them is this "National Inquirer" reporting that Woods has been seeing a New York club hostess named Rachel Uchitel. She denied having an affair with him. But she's also obtained an attorney, a high-profile attorney, Gloria Allred, and released her own statement, where she went on today say that this is unfounded, but I understand how it would cause strife in a marriage.

So then you throw her into the mix and Gloria Allred into the mix, who is not afraid to get press conferences and speak about this. What does that do to this situation?

DUSEK: Well, I mean, it just muddies the waters even further. And at this point, you know, again, Tiger Woods is not really saying a whole lot. Not getting out in front of cameras and not really sort of addressing these things. His silence becomes his voice. And with the other woman supposedly involved in this sort of situation, obtaining a lawyer with other things going on that are beyond his control.

Again, Tiger was probably the ultimate control freak. You don't have a game. You don't sort of base your entire life. I mean, the guy is going to turn 34 on December 30th. His entire life basically -- remember, this was on television, three years old hitting golf balls. He's won 71 professional tournaments, 14 major championships. Everything about his life is selfishly viewed, sort of say, controlled so that he can do and dominate his sport to the best of his ability. This is now beyond his control. So what does it do? It just adds one more layer of complexity to the situation that he really does not want.

CHETRY: And I want to bring in right now Tom Ruskin. He's the president for CNP Protective Investigative Group, a former NYPD officer investigator for 21 years.

Thanks for being with us on the phone this morning, Tom.

One of the things I want to ask you about is what police would be looking for at this point. This would be a minor single car accident that happened right outside of his home. He provided his driver's license, proof of insurance, other things. Why are they continuing to try to talk to him? What do they want to know? TOM RUSKIN, FMR. NYC POLICE DETECTIVE INVESTIGATOR (via telephone): They would like to know how it happened. I mean, police have an obligation to determine how this accident happened. If it was a malfunction of the car, if the gas pedal or the steering or the brake system of his Cadillac was defective, police want to know that to alert the car manufacturer. Plus, they have an obligation under the law to investigate any accident similar to this. And at this point in time, their accident recreation team will be dealing with the investigation.

CHETRY: So if Tiger is refusing to give an interview and his wife is refusing to talk to them any more than what they've initially said, what's the next course of action for investigators if they need to pursue this?

RUSKIN: Well, I mean, they'll be dealing with his attorney at this point in time. He's under no obligation under Florida law to give an interview and neither is his wife. But remember, a neighbor saw certain portions of this. Other people may have witnessed it. They'll be taking measurements to determine if he tried to stop before hitting the hydrant, and then hitting the tree. The amount of speed he was traveling at the time. And they'll also be looking -- they have possession of the car now. So they'll be looking inside the car at the shards of glass to see if there's any blood in there.

Was he bleeding before the accident? Was he bleeding from the accident? Was anyone else cut? When she got hit, when she supposedly broke out the back of window, his wife, they'll be looking to see if she got cut. And what other forensic evidence they may be able to obtain from the car itself.

CHETRY: To what end, though, because they don't necessarily believe the story that he's telling about how the crash happened?

RUSKIN: Well, I mean, what they are looking to do at this point in time, they don't have him. As David very eloquently put, in the absence of a vacuum, the police are going to have to conduct their investigation by who they can speak to and what they can do physically with the car and the scene itself. And also determine what he may have been doing at 2:00, 2:30 in the morning leaving his home and where he may have been going.

They can subpoena his cell phone records. The suspicious question in my mind is how his wife was able to know that he was in an accident down the block before anyone else seemed to know.

CHETRY: All right. One final question, just quickly, are they able to subpoena hospital records if they want to see the nature of his injuries? Are they able to do that?

RUSKIN: Well, they can definitely subpoena them if his lawyer fights that subpoena, or the hospital fights the subpoena based on HIPA rules and regulations is another question yet to be determined. But, you know, that will probably be released to the police relative to his injuries from this accident.

CHETRY: All right. Thomas Ruskin for us this morning. Thank you so much, as well as David Dusek. We appreciate it.

Joe?

JOHNS: Kiran, administration is thinking about announcing very soon in fact, help for homeowners with trouble with their mortgages. Gerri Willis will be along in just a bit with the details.

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JOHNS: Talking about spending money. That's what I'm talking about, anyway. I love shopping. I don't love shopping. I know, what kind of guy...

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CHETRY: We're always talking about -- everyone wants to know, how did Black Friday turn out? You know, did things work out for retailers?

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GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Not so much for the retailers, but really well.

JOHNS: Wait, wait, "Minding Your Business." We're supposed to say that.

WILLIS: Oh, right. Let's do that instead. Let's do that instead.

OK. Well, let me tell you, this is an important story, because we talked a lot about making home affordable. The program the government has to help people who are worried about going into foreclosure. Well, it's not been very successful.

Let's take a look at the numbers. Basically, we've had 650,000 trial modifications. That means they are not even permanent. And only less than two percent were made permanent after three months. You know, the administration thought they were going to do 4 million of these deals. Not so much.

As a matter of fact, in the third quarter alone, almost a million foreclosures were put in place. So here's what the administration is doing to try to fix the problem and make their program work. They are going to give more resources to borrowers. They're going to partner with organizations that can help them make these modifications happen. They are going to give more transparency on the part of loan services and require them to get more information to the public.

Well, what went wrong, I mean, you look at these problems and you think, wow, why can't we get this right? Well, it's tough. First of all, there's a lot of paperwork that has to be filed. And there's a big dispute out there about who's doing a good job of tracking the paperwork and giving in what needs to be gotten in by the deadline. There's not enough income to make payments in some cases. You know, the problem was that people couldn't afford their mortgages. Now the problem is people have no income because they are unemployed.

Some people have too much equity in the house. And, of course, for banks in some cases it's better to foreclose and modify, they make more money.

JOHNS: But the institutions said they were going to do this, and, what, they are finding that they can't do it or they really don't want to do it, which one is it?

WILLIS: I think it's a combination of things. I think that banks realize they more money if these people go into foreclosure. They say, for their part, they're saying, hey, we can't get the paperwork in. People are not sending the paperwork that we need. And you know from consumers, the consumers are saying, we're sending in the paperwork. You're just not processing it.

JOHNS: Wow.

CHETRY: Very interestingly, we talked about that story where the judge erased the debt of that one family because he said that he felt the banks were not working them in good faith.

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WILLIS: But that's a one-up solution. It's not a solution for everybody --

CHETRY: Although, people wish it.

JOHNS: Great law, great law.

CHETRY: Gerri Willis, Minding Your Business, thanks so much. It's the Monday after the long holiday weekend and a big cold front is actually marching East. Most of us were enjoying this nice unseasonably warm weather.

JOHNS: Absolutely, and now, you're talking about snow?

CHETRY: That's a changing now.

JOHNS: Come on.

CHETRY: Rob Marciano with the details up next. Forty-five minutes past the hour.

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CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A beautiful live look at Washington right now, the capital building. It is 53 degrees. It is staying at that temperature but some rain in the forecast. In fact, in just a couple of hours, at 10:00 Eastern time, even though it's going to be raining, the Capitol Christmas tree is going to be arriving in Washington. It will be decorated with about 5,000 ornaments made by people from Arizona; that's where this year's tree was grown. JOHNS: I've actually been inside that building many times when the tree showed up, watching it coming through the window, and it's always that seems like a rainy overcast day.

CHETRY: That's November for you, right?

JOHNS: Exactly.

CHETRY: And that's usually how it shakes out this time of year.

JOHNS: So, Rob Marciano in the Weather Center at Atlanta, and are we really talking about some snow?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just some spots. You know, you talk about rain when the Christmas tree comes in and give you a little snow just gets you in the mood. I don't want you to get depressed about that.

You know what, there hasn't been a lot of snow for this year across the Great Lakes which typically sees some lake-effect snows by now. We haven't seen much. We'll see a little bit as just cold front begins to drift off towards the East. It's not a very strong one, but it will drop temperatures, and it will bring some moisture in places like Boston, New York, down through Philly and D.C.

It's not going to rain a ton. Showers will increase throughout the day today, and then the front will pass through tonight. The back edge with Southern edge of this thing will kind of put the brakes on and hang around for a little bit while longer, and that will create more heavy rain across parts of the south.

If you're doing some travel today, Boston, New York, and Philly will see some rains because of the low cloud or delay because of low clouds and rain in D.C., Atlanta, and Houston as well. Again, temperatures behind in the front in the 40s for high so that is chilly but not unusually cold than 50s. Sack hurricane season today is the last day. These are the track of the storms that roll through the Atlantic over the past hurricane season, ending of course with Ida, late season tropical storm there across the Gulf Of Mexico, and this was of course below average.

For tropical storms, we saw nine, we average 11; hurricanes we saw three, we average six, and major hurricanes we did see two of those; although, they didn't last terribly long, so a quiet season, we haven't seen this few hurricanes or storms, I should say, since 1997, so we'll take that and see if we can't carry it over until next year. I doubt that will happen, but if El Nino sticks around, then maybe we'll be blessed once again.

CHETRY: Yes, we've certainly been blessed with above average temperatures this past week at least, so all good things come to an end.

JOHNS: Unfortunately.

MARCIANO: That's right. December is tomorrow. CHETRY: Thanks, rob. Still ahead, we're talking about the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. They are now working overtime to prepare for possible reinforcements. We're going to have the latest on that. It's 51 minutes past the hour.

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CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Fifty- four minutes past the hour right now.

It could be President Obama's most anticipated speech to date. Tomorrow night, he'll announce a new strategy for Afghanistan and a possible troop increase to back it up. Reinforcements, those on the frontlines, are eagerly awaiting and prepping for. Our Frederik Pleitgen can has the story now from outside of Kandhar.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tens of thousands more American soldiers in Afghanistan lead to a basic question. Where will they stay? Tech Sgt. Nicholas Caldwell is building a new road at Camp Wolverine in the south. He says the navy and air force engineers are working overtime to expand the base.

TECH. SGT. NICHOLAS CALDWELL, U.S. AIR FORCE: We're working hard. We're doing it as much as we can. It'll be nice if we can get some help.

PLEITGEN: The base commander staff says they've been told to prepare for an increase from currently 1800 soldiers to about 5,000. Navy Lt. John Critch is in charge of construction. New roads, a new air fields, more housing unit, and a tight schedule.

LT. JOHN R. CRITCH, U.S. NAVY: Twenty soldiers is one toilet, so many soldiers to a shower. There's no way -- you know, we're still doing a lot of that right now just to get ready to bring in the mass of troops.

PLEITGEN: The workload is huge, and subcontractors don't always perform. Lt. Critch says this Afghan contractor he caught on camera showed up with a few men and some wheel barrels, and only managed to lay a tenth of the agreed upon concrete and even that needed to be torn up because the quality was poor. Set backs, the military doesn't need anywhere in Afghanistan.

Bases like this one in Kandahar are already overcrowded, and many soldiers wonder allowed where to put the new arrivals?

Much of Camp Wolverine looks like this. They call this moon dust, and the engineers are trying to clean it up.

CRITCH: We'll put concrete in there and then will back fill this whole area and then we'll come across the top with rock.

PLEITGEN (on-camera): Right now we're standing at the perimeter of the base, and some expansion is going to happen in this construction, but most of it is going to be right over here. As you can see right now, not much of the space is occupied, but only a couple of months from now, this will be full of tents, containers, and all sorts of other living quarters for the many soldiers that will be coming in here.

And that means more work for these men who have to make sure there's space for every new soldier on the battle field. Fred Pleitgen CNN, camp wolverine, Southern Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: Frederik, thanks.

JOHNS: Still to come, President Obama facing criticism from Democrats over his plan for Afghanistan. Plus, new details emerging about Tiger Woods and his crash outside his Florida home. All of that and more in 90 seconds.

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