Return to Transcripts main page
Ft. Hood Suspect's Trail of Clues; United Pilot Busted in London; Bernie Madoff Auction
Aired November 11, 2009 - 07:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks very much for joining us on the Most News in the Morning on this Wednesday, the 11th of November, Veterans Day. I'm John Roberts.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry, and there are a lot of big stories we're going to be telling you about in the next 15 minutes.
First, a lot of finger pointing over who knew what about the Fort Hood suspect and whether there was a failure to pass on potentially life saving information. The FBI is now also searching a trash bin outside of the mosque where Major Hasan worshiped. We're live in Fort Hood with the latest details.
ROBERTS: Our Chris Lawrence is embedded with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan. Today, he takes us on a terrifying ride on the hunt for IEDs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They call this road "IED Alley."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can show you the world...
LAWRENCE: And, yes, there's a story behind this silly song.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... shining, shimmering, splendid. Remember what happened when you didn't sing it last time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: What did happen when they didn't sing it last time? We'll catch up with Chris and find out why these soldiers sing Disney tunes when they're out on patrol.
CHETRY: And too drunk to fly. That's the charge against a United Airlines pilot who had to be yanked from the cockpit by British police just moments before takeoff. He later failed a breathalyzer, and it's raising concerns about air safety and pilot stress.
But first this morning, government agencies are deflecting blame and finger-pointing over what could have been missed opportunities in the attack on Fort Hood. The FBI has searched a trash bin where the suspect, Major Nidal Hasan, worshiped. And it said it turned over other information about Hasan to the Army months ago but that the Army says, now, it did not learn of Hasan's e-mail to a radical Muslim cleric until after the shooting.
Our David Mattingly is live in Fort Hood, Texas.
And, David, tell us more about this potentially -- potential breakdown in communications over this suspect.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, we know that Major Hasan's activities on the Internet did catch the attention of a joint task force that was investigating possible terrorism activity. But the question is: how far up the chain of command did that information go?
MATTINGLY (voice-over): At a somber memorial service surrounded by families of the fallen soldiers, the president had strong words for alleged gunman, Nidal Hasan.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice in this world and the next.
MATTINGLY: As the families grieved, the FBI was going through trash outside Hasan's mosque in Killeen, Texas. And in Washington, growing questions about possible missed opportunities with the Pentagon saying it was never told of a terror investigation that uncovered Hasan's relationship with a radical clerk.
Senior investigative officials tell CNN Hasan communicated at least 20 times with Anwar al-Awlaki who had close relationships with two 9/11 hijackers. Investigators reviewed the communications, determined they didn't appear threatening and were consistent with Hasan's research as a psychiatrist.
Former Bush White House homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, says it's often difficult to put the pieces of different investigations together.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: It's very difficult for investigators to get all of that information in one place, especially when he's not the overall target of the investigation.
MATTINGLY: Hasan himself is saying nothing to investigators. He's under guard in the intensive care unit of this Army medical facility in San Antonio.
COL. JOHN GALLIGAN (RET.), MAJ. HASAN'S ATTORNEY: Let's ensure that the process is followed, that the investigation is complete, and that we proceed with the same kind of impartiality that we would want in any case involving anyone, including ourselves.
MATTINGLY: Hasan's attorney tells me that they have yet to receive any notice of the Army of any pending charges. He says he will also seek to have his client examined to make sure he is physically and mentally capable of participating in his defense -- Kiran.
CHETRY: All right. David Mattingly for us this morning -- thank you.
ROBERTS: The mastermind behind the Beltway sniper attacks in Washington, D.C., is dead. John Allen Muhammad received a lethal injection at a Virginia prison last night, and was pronounced death at 9:11 p.m. Hours earlier, Governor Tim Kaine denied his appeal for clemency. Family members of Muhammad's 10 victims witnessed his execution. Muhammad's accomplice, Lee Malvo, is serving a life sentence without parole.
CHETRY: New developments from Afghanistan on a story that we first told you about last week here on AMERICAN MORNING. NATO officials are now confirming that one of two missing U.S. soldiers in western Afghanistan has been found dead. A Massachusetts woman telling our Boston affiliate, WCVB, that the military has confirmed it's her brother, Army paratrooper Ben Sherman. Meredith Sherman says she's been informed that her brother drowned after jumping into a river to rescue a fellow soldier.
ROBERTS: President Obama meets for the eighth time with his national security team this afternoon. He is exploring options for a war strategy in Afghanistan. A military source says one idea calls for 34,000 new troops to be spread across southern and southeast Afghanistan, where much of the fighting is taking place. The Pentagon is said to favor that option.
CHETRY: Well, today is Veterans Day and we're honoring the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. It's marked on the anniversary of the end of World War I. Later this morning, President Obama will mark the day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
ROBERTS: In Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices a terrorist's weapon of choice. These deadly homemade bombs crammed with rocks, nails, spark plugs and anything else they can put in them have turned the roads in Afghanistan into minefields.
Our Chris Lawrence is embedded with the 82nd Airborne and he went out looking for IEDs with soldiers. He joins us live from Camp Eggers this morning.
And, Chris, what's it like for these soldiers when they don't know exactly where the next attack might be coming from?
LAWRENCE: It's stunning, John. I mean, that bomb could be two feet in front of you, two miles in front of you. It could happen in two week, two months. The pressure in some of these soldiers is unbelievable. And that's why we wanted to take you behind the scenes to show you, you know, where the mix of seriousness and humor how they are coping with this tremendous pressure every day.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): We cram ourselves into the back of a Humvee and roll out on highway one. They call this road IED Alley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): I can show you the world.
LAWRENCE: And, yes, there's a story behind this silly song.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Shining, shimmering, splendid.
Remember what happened when you didn't sing it last time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LAWRENCE: There's also an argument over who's the hottest Disney character.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an ongoing debate. I -- there's a lot of votes for Jasmine apparently, but I'm an Ariel man myself.
LAWRENCE: For the heck of it, I throw in a vote for Pocahontas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.
LAWRENCE: Soldiers know militants like to hide bombs in the irrigation canals so the convoy stops a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let's go.
LAWRENCE: We're only in this Humvee because two weeks ago, a bomb exploded and damaged an Abram. It happened right on this road, but some of the soldiers still get sick of the slow pace.
STAFF SGT. ANDREW JENNINGS, U.S. ARMY: I should get out and try and search every culvert and take five days to get anywhere and possibly get blown up myself outside of my truck, or maybe just go across and get blown up in the truck.
LAWRENCE: Out of Kandahar, we roll into a pretty remote desert. Dust everywhere, and the ride just keeps getting rougher.
JENNINGS: Try not too follow the roads, and these places like where we're going right now, it's -- you know, where they want to put them.
LAWRENCE: The conversation is all over the place. One minute bombs, the next breakfast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More Pop Tarts.
LAWRENCE: But as we finally get near the camp, there is one thing I still can't figure.
JENNINGS: The whole Aladdin song that we sing every time?
JENNINGS: It started out last deployment and we didn't hit one IED in 15 months. But, stopped singing it this time, we already hit one. So, we're bringing it back.
LAWRENCE: Reason enough to keep singing.
JENNINGS (singing): Shining, shivering, splendid.
LAWRENCE: We were -- we were lucky on that drive. We didn't hit anything. But those soldiers had been hit before. And again, they are making that drive every few days. So, that's why we've kind of wanted to show you that there is a lot of life that happens in between the big explosions and firefights that we always report. That's kind of what's happening day-to-day out there -- John.
ROBERTS: And as you say, though, Chris, you just never know. You know, you can drive down that road 100 times and in the 101st time, boom, something bad happens.
What's it like riding around in those MRAPs? Do they give you a sense of safety?
LAWRENCE: Yes, I mean, obviously, you know, you'd rather be in an MRAP than a Humvee, like I said. You know, there are MRAPs took a hit by an IED, so that's why we were in the Humvee that day. But it is -- it is cramped. You know, you can't get out.
It's dusty down there in the southern Afghanistan. That dust is everywhere. And it gets into the vehicles, you know, the windows don't come down.
So, it is not a comfortable ride by any -- by any stretch of the imagination.
ROBERTS: Chris Lawrence for us this in Camp Eggers -- Chris, thanks very much.
CHETRY: Well, still ahead, another drunk pilot arrested. A lot of people are asking what's going on after a series of embarrassing steps for the airlines. Peter Goelz, former NTSB managing director, he's going to be joining us live to talk about it.
ROBERTS: And Dede Scozzafava, New York's 23rd Congressional district -- she says after what happened to her before the election, her name is now a verb. You heard it being "Borked." Well, how about being "Scozzafavaed"? We'll be talking to her coming up. It's her first television interview since the election.
So, stay tuned for that. Nine minutes now after the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
A developing story now from London, where a United Airlines pilot has been arrested. Officers from Scotland Yard pulling him out of a plane just moments before takeoff. They say he was too drunk to fly.
Well, now, three U.S. pilots have been arrested in London on alcohol charges in just over a year.
Joining me now from Washington, Peter Goelz -- former National Transportation Safety Board managing editor.
Peter, thanks for being with us this morning.
PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING EDITOR: Good morning.
CHETRY: So, we've heard about a number of these incidents involving pilots and alcohol. Is that surprising to you? What do you make of it?
GOELZ: Well, it's a -- it's a serious problem. And it appears as though it's getting a little worse. And, you know, pilots in general, flight crews, are under tremendous stress these days. You know, for United, pilots -- they've had salary cuts, they've had furloughs, their pensions have been decimated but still drinking prior to flight is unacceptable.
CHETRY: How -- how is that sort of handled? I mean, how do pilots handle that? And why have we heard about these incidents? I mean, is it -- is it common to get a drink on your layover as a pilot?
GOELZ: Well, I mean, the FAA minimum rule is eight hours before flight, alcohol is prohibited. Most airlines have more stringent rules. For instance, United, apparently, has a 12-hour rule. Other airlines have greater, some less.
The general rule for pilots, what they call the bottle to throttle rule is don't drink 24 hours before you fly. But clearly, you know, some -- you know, 10 percent of the population, 12 percent of the population, have an alcohol problem. Pilots are not immune, and they may be under more pressure.
CHETRY: You know, it's been a tough year for pilots in general. In October, we talked about that Delta crew that landed on an active taxiway in Atlanta, instead of the runway.
CHETRY: And two days later, we had those two Northwest pilots who overshot their landing. They were out of communication and failed to respond to radio calls for more than 90 minutes. They claim that they were distracted because they were on their laptops. What's going up there in the cockpit and how concerned should flyers be?
GOELZ: Well, I think -- I think there should be a level of concern. You know, the whole structure of flying has changed. The airline industry has been in a downturn, profound downturn for a number of years. It's not getting better.
And pilots, you know, they -- flight crews are the key component. They are being worked harder. They're being paid less. They're under more stress.
And I think there is an issue. And I think you're going to see the NTSB and the FAA looking at the whole issue of pilot fatigue, pilot work rules, how do we optimize people's attention in these cockpits -- I think that's going to come up in the next months.
CHETRY: Do you think there's going to be more regulations in placed to prevent intoxicated pilots from getting into the cockpit?
GOELZ: Well, I think -- I think it's going to be more heavily enforced. And you know, the thing to remember on this is that this pilot was outed or turned in by the flight crew itself. And that's really, you know, line of defense.
These flight crews are extraordinarily responsible. If they see one of their own members, you know, who is not capable of flying, not capable of performing their own tasks, they called him out. It was the right thing to do.
CHETRY: I mean, we've seen other instances where it's been either passengers or in some cases the security guards that noticed. But a lot of these flights as we know are on auto pilot. And the automation makes it a little bit easier, and makes it safer, easier for pilots. Does this, like, add to a complacency element. I mean, it's like, okay, fine, maybe I'm a little bit hung over but you know what, I'm on auto pilot or is that not the case?
GOELZ: I don't think -- I don't think that's the case. But, but there is a challenge between how do you get -- how do you have the pilot, the flight crew's attention, focused on the operation of the aircraft when you do have these marvelous avionics which control every aspect of flight and do it so well. There is a real boredom problem, particularly on long flights.
CHETRY: And, you know, this was supposed to be obviously as we know, a cross continental flight there. Obviously people agree that pilots should not be intoxicated before they fly. But we talked about the effects of sleep deprivation. Some studies have shown that it's just as bad in terms of impairment as if you have been drinking alcohol.
Are there enough regulations in place to ensure that pilots are in tip-top shape when they get into the cockpit, that they had enough rest and that, as you said, they are not in a stressful or sleep- deprived situation as they take all of these people's lives, you know, into their hands while they are flying?
GOELZ: Well, and that's the key question. The new FAA administrator, Randy Babot, is looking at these rules right now. And the rules are very convoluted. But he's going to be issuing some new rules on flight and duty time, and the NTSB, the new chairman, Debbie Heresman, has said fatigue is their -- one of their top priorities.
And they are going to be looking at it. So, I think the issue of flight and duty time, fatigue, how do you manage your attention on long flights after a hard day, those are all issues that are going to be on the front burner in the coming months.
CHETRY: Well, Peter Goelz, thanks for your input today. We appreciate it.
GOELZ: Thank you.
ROBERTS: A lot of people would like a piece of Bernie Madoff. Now that he's in jail and you can't get to him, you can still get a piece of Bernie Madoff. It's the Bernie Madoff auction. Our Christine Romans has got all the details coming up. It's 17 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Good morning New York City. Taking a look now at Columbus Circle on this Veterans Day where it's mostly cloudy and 52 degrees right now. Later on today mostly cloudy, and a high of just 54 degrees. So it's only going to go up 2 degrees. Chilly out there today.
Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. The German carmaker Porsche is fighting the Crocs shoe company in court. At issue, use of the name Cayman for a line of rubber clogs. Porsche also has a product called the Cayman.
CHETRY: I do see that you could, you know, confuse the two.
ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely. Yes. Because crocs and sports cars look a lot the same. It's a 2-seat hard-top sports car. Doesn't that look like a shoe? It starts around $51,000, in case you could not tell the difference. Porsche accuses the Crocs company of a trademark infringement.
CHETRY: You know, the Caymans are like a littler, like a more slim line version of the Croc for the little kids.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Cayman is an island.
CHETRY: That too, take use there, Christine.
ROBERTS: But A Cayman is a type of like alligator-type creature so. Yes.
CHETRY: So crocs wins this, hands down.
ROBERTS: It's like a mini 9-11 too.
ROMANS: All right, well the recession may have put the brakes on auto sales. But one segment of the market is making a big comeback and that's a muscle car. Wall Street Journal reporting sales sports cars like the Ford Mustang, the Chevy Camaro, the Dodge Challenger, they were up 68% in October compared to last year. The formula that's working right now, a big engine, two-doors, a cramped back seat, flashy exterior, starting price under $30,000.
ROBERTS: I went by a Chrysler dealership in Manhattan the other day and I saw a Challenger and I said wow, that's an old '72 Challenger. It looks like it's in great shape. It's new. They look the same.
ROMANS: So they have the Challenger and the Charger. Our town's police department, that's the cars they use, that's their police cars.
ROBERTS: You live in such a hip place. But they don't have swine flu vaccine.
ROMANS: No, they don't. Get on that.
ROBERTS: No heavy lifting for many holiday shoppers this year. A new consumer report survey finds 36% of Americans plan on re-gifting this holiday season. That's up from 31 percent last year. Twenty- four percent in 2007. Recycling gifts is just one of the ways that people are cutting back. Nearly two-thirds say they will scale back travel plans and holiday decorations.
Let me just warn you if I could. If you are out there and you might receive a present from either of these two, they are avid regifters.
ROMANS: We didn't say avid. I said I have re-gifted.
ROBERTS: Everything they give away is re-gifted.
CHETRY: We give good stuff.
ROMANS: And you say that we also -- hey, you know. "I got this. I got this picture frame. It would look great in your living room, not mine. Here, you can have it," right?
CHETRY: But then does that count as her gift? Or do you give something else as well?
ROMANS: It counts as one of her gifts.
CHETRY: You know what my dad loves. We get a lot of wonderful books because we read books. I mean, we get -- interview a lot of authors. I give my dad these books. He loves them.
ROMANS: That's a good idea too.
CHETRY: He's a well-read person. Because he reads everything we read.
ROBERTS: I do that, too, but I get the author to sign it first. Then it's a signed copy.
CHETRY: Then it's an even more luxurious read.
ROMANS: Telling all of our secrets.
ROBERTS: I did that just yesterday. Christine Romans here "Minding Your Business" this morning.
ROMANS: Hi, talking about Bernie Madoff. Here is something, I guess it's kind of regifting. Bernie Madoff -- the things that Bernie Madoff gave to himself are now going to be auctioned off to pay off the people who he scammed. And I want to show you a few of these, these beautiful little bobble earrings up to $21,000 for these earrings. These are pre-Victorian diamond earrings, the most valuable of the Madoff items on auction there. Six pear and oval cut stones, total carat count is 10.
John, you could pick those up for a cool $21,000. Maybe, or maybe there will be a lot of demand for it, they'll be more. There is also a jacketed New York Mets team jacket, this estimate on this is $500 to $720. He had a satin jacket with all the team logos and the Madoff name stitched in large orange letters on the back. You know, when the Madoff story first broke, as a matter of fact, that jacket -- the owner of the team, was one of his investors, as a matter of fact and he also had these really great season tickets that were just auctioned on eBay for about 38 grand. That money also going to the victims.
The last thing I want to show you here quickly, in case you want to pick this up for your honey this holiday, Rolex watch, he had dozens and dozens of watch -- the guy loved watches. You know, there is some joke in there about doing time. I'm not sure. But $87,500 is the top end of the estimates for this one. This one ironically is a Rolex prisoner watch, known as a prisoner watch because of World War II British POWs loved this 1945 watch. So it's been called a prison...
ROBERTS: Back then it was affordable, right?
ROMANS: I'm not sure. Mano Blako, was -- I'm not a big watch connoisseur, but he had a big a lot of watches. But you could even get something like a $90 pen and paper stationery set or something.
ROBERTS: It's been a while since you have been to an estate sale. So, maybe this weekend.
ROMANS: Well, the reason I want to give you a quick morning because Time magazine had a great piece about how all over the country there are these little auctions that are saying they are Bernie Madoff memorabilia or Bernie Madoff items.
CHETRY: Fake Bernie Madoff auctions?
ROMANS: Well, who knows? I mean, yes. But they think they are trying to drum up support or drum up interest and traffic for regular estate sales. But the official one here is in New York, this weekend. And then his property -- there is another one in Palm Beach, November 17th for his property, the boats, the bull.
ROBERTS: So interesting. You know, except for people who might go to some of these Bernie Madoff auctions, if there is a sequinned white glove, that's among the items for sale, probably not his. 25 minutes after the hour. Dede Scozzafava coming up. What happened in New York's 23rd congressional district. She says her name has become a verb now. Stay with us.
CHETRY: Twenty-seven-and-a-half minutes past the hour right now. It's pretty easy to spot Senator John Thune on Capitol Hill. He stands head and shoulders literally above some of his colleagues. But that's not why they call him the giant killer.
ROBERTS: The South Dakota senator ousted Tom Daschle in 2004. That's where he gets the name. And now he's the fourth most powerful Republican in the senate. Our Dana Bash joins us live with part 3 of our AM original series, "GOP: The Next Chapter". Good morning, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. GOP officials tell us that John Thune is one of the senators most in demand by fund raisers trying to raise campaign cash for Republicans around the country. Beyond that though the senator who describes himself as a right of center common sense conservative isn't terribly well known, yet.
BASH (voice-over): He walks through the airport unnoticed. But this anonymity may not last forever. John Thune is a Republican on the rise. A freshman senator already in the GOP leadership. He runs the Republican's weekly strategy session where they plot their Obama opposition.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: It's a pretty critical time.
BASH: We tagged along as he made his way there.
THUNE: It's probably the most candid assessment that we have in a given week.
BASH: To look at this image is to understand part of his appeal for the GOP. A young guy from South Dakota, in a leadership of veteran southerners.
THUNE: How you like my buffalo?
BASH (on camera): Did you do that?
THUNE: No. I did not. Actually, it was a guy from Rapid City who wanted us to have it.
BASH (voice-over): He presses his prairie sensibilities.
THUNE: It's very easy here in this bubble to get bogged down in the, you know, the Washington speak. There are just basic sort of common sense principles that I think make sense and that people understand. One is you can't spend money you don't have. Two is when you borrow money, you have to pay it back.
BASH: Thune argues Republicans can only rebuild by uniting around the promise to control spending and mean it.
THUNE: We have to walk the walk. We have to get serious about this massive amount of spending that's coming through Washington.
BASH: His big push now, returning unused bailout money.
THUNE: The T.A.R.P. program right now has over $300 billion of unspent funds. Why not end that program and apply it to the federal debt?
BASH: Thune is popular with Republicans, but for Democrats his presence still stings. In 2004, he defeated Democratic leader Tom Daschle in a brutal campaign.
BASH (on camera): You know what your nickname was?
THUNE: What? Tell me.
BASH: Giant killer.
THUNE: Giant killer, OK. Yes, sorry.
THUNE (voice-over): He started in the Senate with Barack Obama, and the two share a love of basketball. At 6'4", Thune is considered one of the Senate's best players.
BASH (on camera): Did you ever play?
THUNE: People think we have. I'm still waiting for my invitation to play.
BASH: You haven't gotten invited?
THUNE: No. Go figure.
BASH (voice-over): There is already buzz in some corners about Thune running for president himself in 2012. He won't go there.
THUNE: Right now I'm very focused on reelection.
BASH (on camera): No trips to Iowa in the near future?
THUNE: No. I may go across Iowa, but it will be to get somewhere.
BASH (voice-over): For now, you'll see Thune running here near the Capitol, for now.
BASH: First Thune has to win reelection next year. South Dakota Democrats are already trying to paint him as a hypocrite, saying Thune beat then Democratic leader Tom Daschle by blasting him as a Washington insider and now Thune is the one climbing the national GOP ranks.
The problem for Democrats is they don't have a candidate to run against Thune yet and he already has $5.5 million in the bank -- John.
CHETRY: There you go. That's a big leg up. Dana Bash here for us this morning, thanks so much.
And tomorrow we're going to switch from the Senate to the House. We're going to get an in-depth look at Republican Whip Congressman Eric Cantor. Always outspoken, is he the one to watch in the GOP? That's tomorrow here on our "A.M. original series "GOP, the Next Chapter."
ROBERTS: Crossing the half hour now and checking our top stories this Wednesday morning, Facebook may have been hacked apparently by some users with a beef about what they see as weak security on the website.
The hackers known as "Control your Info" took over nearly 300 Facebook groups, warning that anyone with vicious intent could do the same.
CHETRY: The lights are back on in Brazil after a massive power failure last night left millions of people in Rio de Haneiro and San Paulo in the dark. A CBS News report this weekend said a recent power outage in Brazil was the work of hackers.
Bazillion officials insist that last night's power failure was caused by a malfunction at a hydroelectric dam on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.
ROBERTS: And E.T. phone Rome? The Vatican exploring the possibility of alien life in the universe. Astronomers, physicists, biologists, and religious leaders wrapping up a five-day conference there. They discussed what effects life beyond the earth would have on the Catholic Church and Christianity in general.
But the director of the Vatican observatory said the main focus was on the scientific perspective.
A CNN exclusive now. When she dropped out of the race for New York's 23rd Congressional district, Republican Dede Scozzafava touched off a war within her own party. She stepped aside to back a Democrat and successfully scuttled the candidacy of the conservative Doug Hoffman. Now Republicans in the state assembly have stripped her of her leadership role there. Dede Scozzafava joins us exclusively this morning for her first national television interview since the election.
You joked in an interview you did with "The Washington Post" recently that your name has become a verb, that what happened to you in the 23rd Congressional district race was you were "Scozzafavaed." What is it like to be Scozzafavaed?
DEDE SCOZZAFAVA, (R) NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: Well, you know, I'm not sure, and when I heard that being used I had to chuckle a little bit.
But it certainly was a difficult race and, you know, I think the lesson that has to come out of it is we need leadership that's going to make sure that the party is strong going forward and that independent voices are heard from all ranks of the party.
ROBERTS: How bad did the attacks against you get? And how did you feel about it personally?
SCOZZAFAVA: The attacks were pretty vicious, especially since it was coming from people that identified themselves as Republicans. So that was difficult to overcome.
But hopefully a lesson can be learned and we can move forward and make the party stronger and understand that there are many voices that make a party, but we can all agree around core principles -- less government spending, less government interference in the lives of others, lower taxes, and working on eliminating the deficits.
ROBERTS: Something that drives people crazy in the build-up to an Election Day, but it seems to be fairly effective are these robo- calls, and you said that some of the robo-calls about you were really, really nasty. What were they saying?
SCOZZAFAVA: Some of the ads were very vicious and some of the robo-calls and some of the calls that were being placed, yes -- using language such as "she's a homo-lover, she is a child killer," and that language was coming from people that identified themselves with the Republican Party.
And it was difficult. And again, what I hope we can do going forward is make sure that the party is unified and we can agree on core principles.
ROBERTS: You ran as a moderate, but Republicans that we talked to after you dropped out said, hey, she is anything but a moderate. She is left of many Democrats. Are you?
SCOZZAFAVA: That's not true. My positions are very compatible with the former Congressman John McCue. If you look at my background, I would have been a no on cap and trade. I was no on the state budget which increased spending, increased taxes. I do not agree with the repeal of the 2003 tax cuts. I am for the elimination of any sort of estate tax. If anyone looks at my record and really looked at my platform, that is not true.
ROBERTS: There were several prominent people, as you said, several prominent Republicans who came out against you, Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, Sarah Palin as well. Is there one person's criticism, and some got waved in the realm of vitriol. Is there any one person's criticism that really hit you hard?
SCOZZAFAVA: Well, it wasn't as much the criticism. It was just that they had no understanding of who I was and no understanding of really the issues that drove the district and no understanding of the former congressman that served there as well.
So, for people to come out and be endorsing a candidate in a race in a place that they knew nothing about, I thought it was pretty disingenuous.
ROBERTS: Democrats lobbied you very heavily to support the Democratic candidate Bill Owens. You were called by everybody from Bill Clinton to Andrew Cuomo to Chuck Schumer. Are they still in contact with you? Are they supporting you now that you are running into even more heat from the state GOP party?
SCOZZAFAVA: Well, right now my job is to serve in the state legislature, and we have very serious issues here in New York. and that's what I'm focused on.
But the one thing I can say is at the end of the day the decision was mine, nobody else made the decision. And it was based on what I thought was in the best interests of the district.
I represent Fort Drum and the tenth mountain division, and the conservative candidate indicated that he was not willing to provide the type of funding to that base that has become very, very important to that area.
ROBERTS: And what kind of effect do you think what happened to you is going to have in the midterm elections next year? Will moderates in the Republican Party have a target on their back? One of the races that's often talked about in terms of what happened to you is the race in Florida between Charlie Crist and the conservative Marko Rubio.
SCOZZAFAVA: I hope not. I hope that races can revolve around the needs of the district that the people are running to represent. I think that's the most important thing, and the focus on every race.
You're never going to have perfect ideology. If you are, you're never going to move forward because no one's going to be thinking independently.
So I think the most important thing is that people run in districts, they understand the issues that -- from the area that they are trying to represent, and they go forward with a platform that really is reflective of the district that they are running for.
ROBERTS: Quickly, you plan to stay a Republican, correct?
SCOZZAFAVA: I do.
ROBERTS: All right, Dede Scozzafava, assemblywoman from New York, it's great to talk to you. Thanks so much.
SCOZZAFAVA: Thank you.
CHETRY: We talked about some of the risk factors of many different diseases, one of them being obesity. Now is there a bigger link between obesity and cancer? Our Dr. Gupta joins us with some answers.
It's 38 minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back the to the Most News in the Morning. It's 41 minutes past the hour.
Researchers now think that they found a direct link between your waistline and your chances of getting cancer. To break down the numbers we're paging our Dr. Gupta for today's fit nation update.
And Sanjay, it's a new report that found out that 100,000 cancer cases each year are linked to obesity. What is that link?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the link is actually after you control for all other sorts of factors -- smoking, age, gender, all that sort of stuff -- they are finding that obesity, carrying excess body weight, is directly linked to cancer.
What is interesting about this, I think people have known anecdotally for some time that this was true. What's different here today, Kiran, is that the numbers have never -- to quantify this has always been hard to do. It's pretty complicated research.
You got to take these people that have cancer, look at their body weight, their body mass index overall, and then start reducing these other factors, the smoking, the age, the gender, and figure out how much of an impact is there really.
And what they were able to do at the American Institute for Cancer Research was actually stratify by cancer as well. So take a look at some of the numbers specifically, for example for endometrial cancer, about half, 49 percent of them are in some way linked to carrying around for much body weight.
A quarter of kidney cancer at the bottom there, and pancreatic in the middle.
And they just looked at seven cancers overall, Kiran, some of the other ones where colorectal cancer, gall bladder cancer, breast cancer, all of those as well having some sort of link to obesity.
So it could be larger much larger than that if you look at cancers across the board, but this is sort of quantifying I think what people suspected for some time.
CHETRY: Do we know the whys and do we know what we can do about it to reduce the risk?
GUPTA: Right. Yes. And it's sort after good news/bad news thing because we're sort of figuring out the whys and maybe the potential fixes as well.
It turns out when you're carrying around too much body weight you also have a lot of extra estrogen in the body. And that goes for men and women alike. And we know that estrogen can often be the fuel for lots of cancers. We think about it with regard to breast cancer, but there are other cancers that estrogen can fuel as well.
Also when we are carrying around too much weight our immune system tends to be a little bit diminished. It's harder to fight off infections, but it's also sometimes harder to fight off cancer-causing cells. These cancer-causing cells are sometimes sort of pushed away by our immune system.
And finally, people who are obese are more likely to have something known as oxidative stress. Think of that as sort of rusting that's going on in the body. And that rusting can cause minor mutations within your DNA and that can also be the genesis of cancer. That's the bad news.
The good news is the study goes on to say that just 30 to 40 minute as day of exercise, treadmill or stationary bike or something, can reduce your risk of breast cancer, for example, by about 30 percent. So, you know, it's easy to sort of try and fix this.
CHETRY: That's amazing. That's really good news, actually.
One note, it's good to have you back. You turned 40 and you disappeared.
GUPTA: Right. I was thinking about taking the entire decade off. But I've been traveling a lot. I was in four countries in a few months, and wrote a book. So yes, good to be back, though.
CHETRY: It is good to have you back. And then you're heading on the road once again. A special programming note, by the way, Sanjay is actually going right from here to Fort Hood this morning. He's been granted special access to visit some of the soldiers who were wounded in Thursday's deadly shootings.
And he is going to get a chance to talk to them, hear exactly what happened in their own words, and then we'll hear from Sanjay about that tonight 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific on "A.C. 360."
Great to see you, Sanjay. Thank you so much.
GUPTA: Thank you.
CHETRY: And that's only on CNN -- John?
ROBERTS: Sanjay turns 40 and disappears. Most of us turn 40 and begin to fall apart.
And on that point, Deepak Chopra has got a new book out talking about reinventing your body, resurrecting your soul. It's all about the mind or soul-body connection and how what you think and how you feel may actually affect your health. We'll talk to him coming right up.
It's 45 after the hour.
ROBERTS: Sanjay turns 40 and disappears. Most of us turn 40 and begin to fall apart.
And on that point, Deepak Chopra has got a new book out talking about reinventing your body, resurrecting your soul. It's all about the mind or soul-body connection and how what you think and how you feel may actually affect your health. We'll talk to him coming right up.
It's 45 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: It's 48 minutes past the hour right now.
Investigators are digging through the Fort Hood suspect's past. We're talking to those who worked with and worshiped with Major Nidal Hasan because there are so many questions about the alleged shooter but they all boil down to why?
ROBERTS: I had a chance to speak with Deepak Chopra; he's one of the pioneers of mind/body medicine and author of the new book "Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul." I asked him for his reaction to the shooting.
DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, "REINVENTING THE BODY, RESURRECTING THE SOUL": I think any time a person is fanatical about their religion -- doesn't matter what the religion is -- then they are suspect. We are a strange species, we kill our own kind and most frequently in the name of God.
The world is right now are very troubled place so there's centrism, bigotry, hatred, prejudice, war, terrorism, religious fighting. But you know, the danger in situations like this is when somebody like this man does a crime...
CHOPRA: ... then everybody that belongs to that religion is somehow associated with that, you know. Tomorrow a Christian bombed an abortion clinic and killed a few people, we wouldn't blame all Christians. So we have to be careful that we don't go after them.
ROBERTS: How do you see this? Do you see this as some people Pete Hoekstra the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said to us that he thinks it's an act of terror, was it mental illness, was it stress, culture clash? All of those thrown in? How do you see it?
CHOPRA: I don't think it's an act of terror from everything that we've heard but there is always a context in which these situations arise. And that context if we start to examine that context hopefully we can prevent these situations in the future. It doesn't excuse what happened, but you know, people like that are mentally slightly deranged, emotionally retarded, not developed and find recourse in religious identity because that's all they have.
ROBERTS: You have a new book out that we wanted to talk about, "Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul." It is another exploration of the mind-body connection which you believe so strongly in, in that the way you think can actually affect your health.
CHOPRA: Yes. It's more of the soul-body connection than the mind-body connection. And two disciplines which are very interesting were responsible for me thinking about this book. The first is called Neuronal Plasticity, which means, that you can train your mind to actually change the structure of your brain.
And the second discipline is called epigenetic which says that environmental factors, personal relationships, social interactions, lifestyle, can actually regulate the expression of your genes. You know, 60 percent of your genes are the same as in a banana; 80 percent of your genes are the same as in a mouse; 98 point something percent of the genes are the same as a monkey.
But you're a totally different species. We are the only species that can actually self-regulate our genes.
ROBERTS: So how do you do it?
CHOPRA: Well, there was a study in the National Academy of Sciences that looked at 500 genes that are influential on things like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, inflammation, which is about 80 percent of our health care budget, by the way.
And within three months people who were able to manage stress, produce an internally generated state of euphoria, have good relationships, exercise and follow healthy diet, they influenced the regulation of 500 of these genes.
ROBERTS: So is this a suggestion then that preventive medicine, healthy lifestyle, counseling, some of the things that are being talked about in this era of -- area of health care reform, could be beneficial in not only keeping people healthy but lowering the cost of medical care in this country in?
And also, if you look at the health care reform bill, thank God they voted for it, it's more about insurance reform, it's not about health care reform. And if you really want health care reform, then cut out 2.5 million unnecessary surgeries, arthroscopies, back surgeries, all kinds, hysterectomy.
ROBERTS: So you're saying thank goodness that they passed this bill. Obviously, you were a supporter of but it doesn't go far enough?
CHOPRA: It doesn't go far enough.
ROBERTS: So what would you include?
CHOPRA: I think we would have better policing of unnecessary procedures because there's a lot of waste; over $100 billion just on unnecessary cardiac surgery; $700 billion on unnecessary lab tests.
ROBERTS: So do you think that we're eventually going to see health care reform or do you believe it will die in the senate?
CHOPRA: I think there are four times as many lobbyists in Washington just on health care as there are a number of Congressmen so President Obama, God bless him, has a very uphill task.
ROBERTS: Not exactly optimistic that something is going to get done.
CHETRY: Yes, there you go. He has an uphill battle and he can climb it.
CHETRY: Great to see Deepak, by the way. He came here (INAUDIBLE)
ROBERTS: He's always an interesting fellow to talk to and to hear from. And I'm telling -- he is his own book of the month club. Because he just -- he released that book last month. He's got another one coming out in a few days.
CHETRY: What did you ask him, does he just keep writing the same book and put in a different cover?
ROBERTS: He says he flies on a lot of airplanes and he's is constantly writing.
CHETRY: Hey, if he's got of nerve and it can all come out on paper good for him. ROBERTS: Well, it's 50 something books and it's still coming out like a flood.
CHETRY: There you go.
Well, still ahead, caught on tape, a big rock slide. There it is.
ROBERTS: Look at that.
CHETRY: Don't want to be traveling that road when that happened. We're going to talk more about where this happened; our Rob Marciano tracking extreme weather for us today.
CHETRY: There's a look at Atlanta, Georgia this morning. If you're only happy when it rains then you're happy in Atlanta where it's raining; 57 degrees. A little bit later, set for showers and some winds; 57 degrees for a high today in Atlanta.
That's where our Rob Marciano is. Check out that video Rob. That was unbelievable. Where was that rock slide?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Poke County, Tennessee basically in the Smoky Mountains. Actually, since you mentioned it let's go ahead and pull that up; definitely some impressive video.
Come on. There you go. Highway 64, there it is. Connecting basically eastern Tennessee to western parts of the Carolinas there.
CHETRY: No one was on the road, right, at the time. Why was the camera there shooting that?
MARCIANO: They had this, the second one of the day so basically they had a slide earlier. And cameras got out there, just to kind of cover that part of the story and they thought this was going to go so they just roll tape as we say in the business and waited.
ROBERTS: That is one massive rock right in the middle. Watch. Here it comes. It's right behind the trees. Look at the size of that rock, right there. Like a tank.
MARCIANO: The entire mountainside, basically sliding. This is -- remember we had one about a month and a half ago in the same area along the interstate. That certainly the shot of the day.
We're looking at rain across parts of the Carolinas up to the Delmarva. This is going to become an issue I think through not only today, tomorrow but also on Friday; three to five inches in some spots. Four to seven inches possible across parts of the lower Carolinas and then also across parts of Jersey, Maryland, Delaware here the next 2 1/2 days, wind and rain.
This could be a stronger storm for these folks than when Ida came onshore originally yesterday morning. So, that will be interesting, not officially Ida but certainly remnants thereof.
Some of the rainfall from this thing could have triggered that landslide there in eastern Tennessee. Not an official word on that. Certainly it didn't help the case -- John & Kiran.
ROBERTS: I know up here in New York, Rob, that we really need the rain because God knows we haven't had enough crappy weather this year in New York.
MARCIANO: No. Because you love it so much we're bringing you more.
ROBERTS: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Fifty-eight and a half minutes.
Continue the conversation on today's story goes to our blog. Thanks for joining us this morning. We'll see you back here bright and early tomorrow.
Meanwhile the news continues.
ROBERTS: Continue the conversation on today's stories goes to our blog at cnn.com/amfix.
Thanks so much for joining us this morning. We'll see you back here bright and early again tomorrow.
Meanwhile the news continues, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Heidi Collins. Heidi has lot of special guests for Veterans Day today. Hey, Heidi.