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American Morning

Iran Claims It Shot Down U.S. Drone; Obama Calls Pakistan's President About NATO Airstrike; Courting Cain; Payroll Tax Compromise; USPS To Announce New Plan; Assange Wins Right To Appeal; Syria Faces New Arab League Sanctions; High Winds Spark Fire Fears in Southern California; Courting Cain; New Clues in Murder Mystery; Iran Claims It Shot Down U.S. Drone; Radioactive Water Leak At Fukushima; Pastor Eddie Long Taking "Time Off"

Aired December 05, 2011 - 06:00   ET



ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Iran vowing an aggressive response after claiming it shot down a U.S. spy drone. American military officials only confirming one of their drones is missing.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Courting Herman Cain. Now that the candidate has suspended his campaign, his rivals are coveting what could be a game-changing endorsement.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do I look like a terrorist? I'm going to be 85 years old and I weigh 85 pounds.


CHO: An 85-year-old grandmother claims the TSA agents at JFK Airport pulled down her pants and strip searched her. Now she's talking about taking action on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ROMANS: All right. Good morning, everyone. It is Monday, December 5th. Ali and Carol are both off this Monday morning. I'm Christine Romans along with Alina Cho on this AMERICAN MORNING. Nice to see you.

CHO: Good morning. Nice to see you.

Up first, a highly classified U.S. stealth drone may be in the hands of Iran. Iranian officials are claiming that they shot down the drone after it invaded its airspace.

ROMANS: American military officials only confirming one of their drones is missing. Now Iran is vowing an aggressive response. Here is Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with more.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Alina, Iranian authority say they shot down a highly classified U.S. unmanned spy plane over their territory along the eastern border with Afghanistan. Iran says the drone they shot down is an RQ-170. That's one of the most secret drones in the U.S. military, and intelligence arsenal. It's a stealth drone that can fly largely undetected gathering intelligence and targeting information.

So far what is the U.S. saying? Well, it's saying, you've seen the NATO alliance in Afghanistan to issue a statement only saying this, quote, "the UAV to which the Iranians are referring may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators at the UAV lost control of the aircraft and have been working to determine its status."

That's the statement, but U.S. officials also tell CNN the flight crew operating the drone did report a loss of flight control before it went down. They are not saying it was shot down and they're not saying it was one of these RQ-170s.

So the key question now is, shot down or not, do the Iranians have their hands on classified U.S. intelligence technology, and if they do, the U.S. knows it's not getting it back -- Christine, Alina.

ROMANS: More than a few people saying that if the Iranians have it, the Chinese or someone else on the open market will likely have it. We still don't know where that drone is.

All right, President Obama called Pakistan's president over the weekend to offer condolences for the airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month.

President Obama says the air strike was not a deliberate attack on Pakistan. He and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari reaffirmed their commitment to the bilateral relationship between both countries.

CHO: Now to the courting of Herman Cain. The candidate suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday unable to overcome allegations of sexual harassment and a 13-year extramarital affair. Now his former rivals are scrambling for a potentially game-changing endorsement.

CNN's deputy political director Paul Steinhauser is live in Washington for us. So Paul, a lot of speculation this morning that Cain could endorse Newt Gingrich as early as today, what are you hearing?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: A lot of speculation. You know, on Saturday when Cain suspended his campaign, Alina. Newt Gingrich was quick to compliment him. They're both from Georgia. They're both friendly on the campaign trail.

We know this, at 1:45 today, Newt Gingrich, he has added a news conference up in New York City. We don't know why and we don't know if Herman Cain will be there. We're calling trying to find out what's going on.

You know, last week all eyes are on Herman Cain to see if and when he would drop out. He did suspend his campaign on Saturday. Now, we're checking on Herman Cain every day to see who and when he will endorse.


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am suspending my presidential campaign.

STEINHAUSER (voice-over): The ride is over for the Cain train, but Herman Cain promises he'll still make an impact in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

CAIN: I will be making an endorsement in the near future.

STEINHAUSER: New frontrunner Newt Gingrich was quick to compliment Cain.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I think he deserves a great deal of credit for having had the courage to run, the courage to have big ideas and the clarity to say them in a way that many millions of Americans found them very, very positive.

STEINHAUSER: Many Tea Party activists liked Cain and two candidates with support from the grass roots conservative movement hope Cain voters will come their way.

REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're going to go somewhere in the next week or so. That's going to happen. So I'm optimistic that we'll pick up some votes from there.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Herman Cain supporters have been calling our office and they've been coming over to our side.

I think part of that is because people see that I'm the Tea Party candidate in the race. They saw Herman Cain as an outsider, and I think they see that my voice would be the one that would be most reflective of his.

STEINHAUSER: Cain was slipping in the polls. He went from 23 percent in late October to just 8 percent in a new Des Moines Register survey of likely caucus goers in Iowa, the first state to vote in the race for the GOP nomination.

His remaining supporters may go to a bunch of the candidates, but the one who may benefit the most is Gingrich, the former House speaker, who is surging at the right time.

Without Cain in the race, Gingrich now stands at 28 percent in a new NBC-Marist poll in Iowa with the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, each at 19 percent.


STEINHAUSER: As for Gingrich, today, just before that news conference in New York City, he's going to be meeting with Donald Trump. Of course, he becomes about the fifth candidate now in the Republican side to meet with Trump who earlier this year himself -- with the bid for the GOP nomination -- Alina.

CHO: All right, never a dull moment. Paul Steinhauser live for us in Washington. Paul, thank you.

ROMANS: Democrats today will unveil a payroll tax cut compromise plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will introduce this proposal, which would extend a cut in the payroll taxes used to pay for Social Security.

It's a compromise between dueling plans rejected by the Senate last week. No word yet of specifics of the plan, but Democrats says that a hefty $200 billion price tag will be fully paid for. If they don't do this, the average Americans will have a $900 increase in taxes next year.

All right, a cash-strapped United States Postal Service would unveil as new cost-cutting plan this morning. Under the proposal, first class mail would no longer be delivered the next day.

The agency wants to change its national standard to two to five days from one to three. No word yet on when the plan could take effect. The Postal Service has racked up more than $5 billion in debt this year.

CHO: We have this just into our newsroom. Only minutes ago, we've learned that Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, won his chance to appeal against his extradition from the U.K. to Sweden.

He will make his case to Britain's Supreme Court. Assange is wanted for questioning over alleged sex crimes in Sweden. He's accused of sexually assaulting two women back in 2010.

ROMANS: Also new this morning, Syria facing new sanctions from the Arab league after it failed to meet a deadline allowing observers to monitor the government's response to protests.

On Sunday, at least 22 more demonstrators were killed. The number of deaths now reaching at least 4,000 since the government crackdown began in mid-March. Syria's government says it will survive sanctions.

CHO: Tens of thousands of people are still without power from last week's wind storms in Southern California. Forecasters are warning another blast of high winds could be a problem this morning.

That's raising some big concerns in fire-prone areas like Malibu and Western Los Angeles County. Three hundred fire fighters are in position this morning just in case.

ROMANS: Also in position this morning, Rob Marciano in the Extreme Weather Center. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIIST: Good morning, guys. It's going to be two days of fire danger and high winds across parts of Southern California. They had a break yesterday, but it was a long weekend of cleaning up.

So hopefully a lot of that debris has been moved off of areas that could be dangerous because winds today, 40 to 60 miles an hour potentially could take down some additional trees and power lines, but any debris that's left around, obviously is going to get blown around also.

And then it will calm down a little bit this afternoon and the winds come back again tonight. So today and tomorrow, critical fire danger across the coastal regions of Southern California and the canyons and dry areas there in some of the mountains around Los Angeles County.

Also, to the east of the system, a heavy snow again across parts of the Southern Rockies including most of New Mexico. Blizzard conditions potentially today, 14 to 20 inches of snow with this system, a less in degrees in Denver.

That's how bitterly cold this air mass is, and when you get that cold full of air, that just makes the Santa Anas worse. Meanwhile, ahead of the very slow-moving front, 58 degrees in New York City, 62 degrees in D.C. and 42 degrees in Chicago.

But in between, we also have a flood threat stretching from Cleveland all the way to the eastern parts of Dallas with heavier rain with a slow-moving system across the western Great Lakes, back through Cincinnati, across the mid-south.

Memphis, potentially you could see flooding with two to four inches maybe more of rainfall there and rain heavy is right now in Dallas, a cold rain at that.

Just northwest of Dallas and across the Red River, some snow falling with this system so you've got it all today. The best weather probably is across the northeast temperatures near 60 degrees. Enjoy it. Next week, downhill.

CHO: We thank you for the nice weekend as well, Rob. Thank you.

Coming up, a fierce face-off at "Occupy D.C." Why police brought in a cherry picker to remove some of the protesters.

ROMANS: A big win and a big scare. Fans trampled on the football field after thousands pushed their way on to the field, they went over to take down the goal post. Details straight ahead.

CHO: This story really got our attention. The 85-year-old New York grandmother who claims that TSA agents at JFK Airport went way overboard. We'll tell you what happened and what she plans to do. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 11 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING on a Monday. It is 14 minutes after the hour.

An hour's long standoff between police and "Occupy D.C." protesters. Those demonstrators were given just one hour to dismantle an unfinished wooden structure that they built inside a park.

ROMANS: And then when they refused to leave, police moved in with a cherry picker. Here's Athena Jones with the details.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alina and Christine. After more than nine hours and an intense standoff between "Occupy D.C." protesters and police came to an end with 31 arrests total from throughout the day.

It began in the late morning when police ordered demonstrators to take town a structure they had erected overnight. Police said that there were safety concerns regarding the structure and that it hadn't gone through the proper permitting process.

And so demonstrators refused to take town the structure. Many of them occupying it themselves. Some climbing on to the roof where they held on for hours. They led chants with the crowd of demonstrators here who have been camped out in this park since early October.

Many of the demonstrators in the crowd threw food and water to the people who were on the structure over the course of day. Ultimately, police used a cherry picker, a giant inflatable cushion, two ladders, various ropes and harnesses to get the last protesters off of the roof of the structure.

The process of getting these demonstrators off of the structure was at times dangerous because of the safety concerns and structural integrity concerns with the building. At one point you had police warning people, warning cohorts to stop because of concerns one of the rafters might break. But ultimately, they were able to get all of the protesters off the structure, 31 arrests here in this park, McPherson Square, a few blocks from the White House. Back to you, Alina and Christine.

CHO: Athena Jones, thank you very much.

Ten people injured at the Oklahoma State football game over the weekend. Did you see these pictures? They were getting trampled.

ROMANS: They were so happy. Obviously they didn't want anyone to get hurt, but it did not turn out wet.

CHO: Thousands of people obviously stormed the field. This was a postgame celebration. Fans rushed the field, tearing down a goal post. Victims taken to the hospital with various injuries, include two with ankle fractures. The Cowboys beat their rivals the Oklahoma Sooners 44-10. And that's why the fans were so happy.

ROMANS: Well, a very big game and it got the best of them. U.S. investors looking to Europe this week, the European Union looking to overcome its debt crisis. French President Nicholas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet today to discuss a possible new EU treaty. The big question, can the euro be saved? CNN's Nina Dos Santos is live in Paris. And to say they're scrambling to fix it, I feel like it's going to be such a long process and there is so much peril for investors and politicians there.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, such a long process. And according to senior Euro-crats in Brussels, they only have about five days left to solve all this, Christine.

What we have got is this initial summit going on, a bilateral summit between France and Germany, and essentially because they're the richest countries and the biggest economies in the Eurozone they're calling a lot of the shots here.

What they're going to be do is they're going to be setting up some sort of legislative framework that will encourage other euro countries to exert more budget discipline, essentially to balance their books and to stop them from overspending.

The key difference of opinion between France and Germany here is that Germany on the one hand wants this to be, let's say, automatic, an automatic process, and one that would involve severe penalties for countries that overspend. On the other hand, France says it's want a more softly-softly approach, one that wouldn't impinge upon these individual countries' sovereignty.

But, as you said, what is crucial here, the help of the global economy. And just a note we should also mention here to show how important it is for the United States, we'll also have the U.S. treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, arriving here in Paris in two days' time to talk with the French finance minister and with other European senior figures. And then at the end of the week we'll have the final summit of the entire year for these EU heads of state in government. It's expected that we'll see some kind of grand plan to solve this crisis that threatens to enter its third year, Christine.

ROMANS: Oh, my. Nina, thank you, from Paris.

CHO: Also new this morning, Vice President Joe Biden is in Greece. He will be meeting today with that country's president and the new prime minister, Lucas Papademos. The agenda, of course, Greece's crumbling economy and how to best implement the EU's controversial bailout plan.

ROMANS: We're watching the next phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections. Egyptians will vote in runoff races for the lower house. The two-day process ends tomorrow. It comes one week after Egyptians cast ballots the first time since the revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. Moderate and more conservative Islamic parties earned in the majority of seats during that vote.

CHO: Over the weekend in Russia's parliamentary elections, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin United Russia Party holding a slim majority in those elections, bringing in fewer votes than expected. The party could lose as many as 60 seats in Russia's parliament. Russian police cracked down on election protesters. About 100 people were arrested in Moscow.

ROMANS: It's a celebration of the arts. The Kennedy Center honors five stars of stage, screen and music, and the gala happened in Washington yesterday. This year's honorees were Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Sonny Rollins, Meryl Streep, and Yo-Yo Ma. President Obama on hand to toast these extraordinary individuals. He also saluted Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the most amazing thing about Yo-Yo Ma is that everybody likes him. You've got to give me some tips.


OBAMA: It's remarkable.



ROMANS: I would say the first tip, stay out of politics.


ROMANS: The president also thanked the honorees for sharing their talents with the world.

CHO: You know, Meryl Streep is playing Margaret Thatcher in an upcoming film called "Iron Lady." I saw it recently. It is extraordinary. I encourage all of you to go see that film when it comes out in December, this month.

Still to come this morning, 10 murder victims dump and the shores of New York's Long Island. Coming up, the new clues that could point to a serial killer.

ROMANS: And something we haven't seen since 2009, Tiger Woods back in the winners' circle.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 20 minutes after the hour.


ROMANS: Welcome back. "Minding your Business" this morning. U.S. stock futures are higher following frankly a stellar week with U.S. markets last week up more than seven percent. A move like that is rare, folks. Whether the markets continue their run depends on negotiations in the Eurozone where leaders are working feverishly to save the euro.

And pushing European markets up this morning, the unveiling of new austerity measures over the weekend by Italy's new prime minister, Mario Monti. Italian borrowing costs are falling this morning and that's a good sign, a sign of confidence from investors that the country is moving in the right direction to balance its budget.

All right, French crude prices are up above $110 a barrel this morning. That's the type of oil most used in Europe. It would take a big hit if the region decides to slap Iran with oil sanctions because of the country's nuclear aspirations. So you're seeing oil prices up in Europe but also up at home.

Here at home as well, the price of home heating oil is expected to rise 10 percent this winter. The energy information administration says unrest in the Middle East, particularly Libya, is partly to blame for this year's increase. The average cost for this winter's heating season from October through March is supposed to be about $2,500.

All right, gas prices, though, down nine cents in the past two week, despite an increase in crude oil prices. The weekly Lundberg survey says the drop is because of lower demand due to hard economic conditions. Right now the average price for regular gas is $3.29 a gallon.

Another big weekend at the box office for the latest "Twilight" movie, "Breaking Dawn, Part I." After topping sales for the third weekend in a row, the vampire movie has now brought in more than $247 million so far in the U.S.

AMERICAN MORNING will be right back after this break.


CHO: Courting Herman Cain supporters. The Georgia businessman may be out of the Republican race, but his endorsement could help decide who wins it, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ROMANS: All right, welcome back. It's about 30 minutes past the hour. Time for this morning's top stories.

A highly classified U.S. stealth drone may be in the hands of Iran. Iranian officials say they shot down a drone after it invaded its airspace along the Afghanistan border. American military officials only confirming one of their drones is missing, but they maintain they do not fly over Iranian airspace. Iran is now vowing an aggressive response.

CHO: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will unveil a payroll tax cut compromise plan today. It is a compromise between the dueling plans rejected by the Senate last week. No word yet on specifics, but Democrats say it includes a, quote, "serious way to pay the more than $200 billion price tag."

ROMANS: And Newt Gingrich the one to watch in the GOP race with about a month to go before the first votes of the 2012 campaign will be cast in a crucial Iowa caucuses. In a new NBC/Marist poll, Gingrich is leading the pack in Iowa. But Mitt Romney is still ahead in New Hampshire with 39 percent. Gingrich pulled in 23 percent.

All right. Turning to politics and the fallout from Herman Cain suspending his presidential campaign, allegations of sexual harassment and then a report of a long time extramarital affair which denied -- too much, though, for the candidate to overcome. And this morning, speculation is swirling about who he'll endorse and when.

Joining us this morning live from Washington, Republican strategist Karen Hanretty, and Jim Geraghty, a columnist for "The National Review Online."

Welcome to you both.

Speculation now is that Cain will endorse Gingrich maybe this afternoon. You know, Jim, if that happens, how much does it help Gingrich? There's a conventional wisdom that this Cain endorsement is a potential game-changer. But hasn't Gingrich already gained all of the -- all of the support from the people who are fleeing the Cain camp?

JIM GERAGHTY, COLUMNIST, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Yes. The Cain bandwagon is significantly smaller than a month ago. Having said that, look, at some point, there's been this speculation the race will come down to Mitt and not Mitt. And obviously, this will be consolidation around Newt Gingrich as the not Mitt.

Now, before I go on, I should point out, I am hearing he will not be endorsing today, this is after "Politico" reported earlier this morning that he would be endorsing.

ROMANS: So, you're saying he's not going to endorse today?

GERAGHTY: Yes. Right now, Herman Cain is hoarding his cats, simultaneously endorsing and not endorsing today at the same time.

ROMANS: Well, Karen, one reason he can do that is he can stay in the media. The media's been talking about this and not other things for a very long time because Cain has been sort of all of the energy on the Republican side. So, dragging it out, some would say, would -- I guess that would go right in the playbook.

I want to look -- we're just four weeks until the Iowa caucuses. I want to look at these numbers, new numbers from "The Des Moines Register." Gingrich has been first with 25 percent. Then, Ron Paul, and Romney at 16 percent, down from 22 last month.

But let's take a look at a few key numbers. There were 8 percent who said they'd vote for Cain, 11 percent are undecided. And, Karen, 60 percent say they're willing to change their minds.

It's still very fluid there.

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This is a very fluid race. And you know, I don't think that Herman Cain is going to be a game-changer in this primary election. You know, and the other thing is, let's keep in mind, he sent -- after he announced that he was suspending his campaign, he sent out a fund-raising e-mail encouraging people to show their support for him by sending him donations.

So I don't think he's going to make any sort of announcement anytime soon, which is -- and I don't think he's going to have much of an impact in Iowa.

You know, I think there are not high expectations for Mitt Romney in Iowa. He has not spent a lot of time or money there. He doesn't have to win Iowa. I think if he came in second, that would be certainly enough for him, particularly as he goes on to New Hampshire.

The question is, how is he going to perform in New Hampshire? That's a state he does absolutely have to win. He has spent a great deal of time and money there, and that's what he's really banking on.

So, you know what? I also think -- don't forget, we've got a couple, two more, or at least one more debate before the end of the year. We have two more debates before the New Hampshire election.

And I think that, you know, aside from some major national event taking place that would really put the spotlight on one of these two candidates, the debates could further define the candidacy of these men.

ROMANS: Jim, let's talk about New Hampshire what it means for Romney. I want to look at the newest numbers from there. This is an NBC/Marist poll. Romney's got 16-point lead over Gingrich, Ron Paul and Huntsman at third and fourth.

Huntsman's strategy in New Hampshire, do you think he could surprise people here? I want to tell you something, there are some of the, I guess, moderate Republicans on Wall Street who's been saying they're looking at the Gingrich rise and saying why couldn't that be Jon Huntsman?

GERAGHTY: It is. It seems like everyone's gotten their chance to the flavor of the month. There's about a month left. Perhaps Jon Huntsman, you know, moment to rise will come between now and then.

It's worth noting that New Hampshire is an open primary, at east in the sense you don't have to be a registered Republican. If you're an independent, you can vote in the Republican primary in New Hampshire. And as we all know, there is no real Democratic contest this time.

So, a lot of independents who last -- you know, last cycle might have voted in the Hillary/Obama fight are going to be voting in this one. And if Jon Huntsman is sort of the Republican for folks who are not into the Republican Party, then you could see him carrying a lot of that vote and perhaps, you know, getting close to a third and winning a three-way race.

Having said that, you know, that's not necessarily a natural sales pitch to South Carolina, the following state and not necessarily a natural sales pitch for Florida afterwards.

So, the path for Huntsman is difficult. One thing going for Mitt and I think Karen put it pretty well. Iowa is not a must-win. The good news for Mitt is the purpose of New Hampshire is to refute Iowa. You very rarely see the same man win twice.

And so, there's almost this sort of -- you know, I don't know if there's conscience or subconscious on the part of folks up in the Granite State, that if whatever Iowa picked, we can't pick that guy, because if we do, we're just rubber stamping their selection, and maybe more important four years down the road.

So, you know, the best way to win New Hampshire is to lose Iowa.

ROMANS: Well -- go ahead.

HANRETTY: You know, one thing to add to that is Huntsman could actually turn out to be a spoiler in New Hampshire for Romney. If you have independents who look at Romney and Huntsman and they think, OK, Huntsman is the kind of candidate I would like -- that could actually siphon votes from Romney and that could help Newt Gingrich.

So, you know, again, Huntsman isn't going to win New Hampshire, but, again, he could be very influential in the races going forward, because if Mitt Romney lost New Hampshire, I think that would suck a lot of energy out of that campaign.

ROMANS: Yes, certainly getting exciting. This part of the election process, these are actual real people making who are decisions about candidates. I know a lot of it has to do with how organized the campaigns are in the different states and like, but this is where it starts to really get interesting in the caucus process. And just 26 days.

Thanks, guys. Jim Geraghty and Karen Hanretty, thanks to both of you this morning.

CHO: Well, there's a frightening new theory in a string of unsolved murders. New York City police say a remote beach on Long Island has long been a dumping ground for murder victims. The victims, mostly prostitutes, vanish without a trace.

CNN's Susan Candiotti has details.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a year since police discovered the bodies of four sex workers wrapped in burlap, disposed of like garbage in heavy brush along a desolate stretch of highway near Long Island's south shore. From December to April, 10 victims eventually were found. One had vanished 15 years ago -- all women, except for a toddler and a man.

Each grisly discovery begging a question -- that one man is answering.

(on camera): Hi, Commissioner. Good to see you again. Susan Candiotti.

(voice-over): Retiring Suffolk County, Long Island Police Commissioner Richard Dormer has a new theory.

(on camera): Commissioner, what is your theory now, almost a year after the bodies were found of how many killers there are?

RICHARD DORMER, COMMISSIONER, SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE: We're leaning towards the one serial killer scenario.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): One killer because of his targets. Victims in the sex trade, in their 20s, hidden in the same general area. Seven months ago, investigators had a different theory, that there was more than one person responsible.

THOMAS SPOTA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SUFFOLK CO.: There is no evidence that all of these remains are that of a single killer.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): What drew you to the conclusion, however, that you didn't have before?

DORMER: There was a male found with the group. Now, that certainly was different. And then there was a toddler found.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Because the man shown in this police composite was dressed in women's clothes, Dormer says he probably also was a prostitute, linking him to the other victims. As for the toddler, found seven miles from the remains of his likely mother. Police theorize she was also in the sex trade.

DORMER: We find out it's, you know, not unusual for a sex worker to bring her toddler along, if she can't find a baby-sitter.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Do you have a profile who you think this person?

DORMER: No, we don't. In this case, we believe that this person is organized. He's an organized killer, rather than disorganized.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Organized and a local.

DORMER: Well, it's obvious that somebody, whoever this is, knows the area.

CANDIOTTI: The suspected killer did not dismember every victim. Dormer says that's not unusual.

DORMER: They can change their M.O., and it's possible that he changed his M.O.

CANDIOTTI: For the first time, police are not linking Shannon Gilbert to this case, also a prostitute. It was her disappearance last December that led to the discovery of the first four bodies.

Gilbert remains missing. Police plan another search for her and the serial killer.

(on camera): Do you think he'll slip up?

DORMER: They always do. It doesn't matter how smart they are, or how organized they are, they always make a mistake.

CANDIOTTI: Which means he could strike again.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Suffolk County, Long Island.


ROMANS: All right. An 82-year-old grandmother from Long Island says she's considering filing a lawsuit against the TSA after allegedly being strip-searched at JFK Airport. There she is.

Lenore Zimmerman was preparing to fly from New York to Ft. Lauderdale last Tuesday when she was traumatized by two female TSA agents.


LENORE ZIMMERMAN, CLAIMS SHE WAS STRIP-SEARCHED BY TSA: I have a defibrillator, so I don't go through the machines. I asked them to pat me down. They took my pants down and then they took my underwear down.

Don't I look like a terrorist? I'm going to be 85 years old and I weigh 103 pounds. And they strip searched me.


ROMANS: She says she also suffered a cut on her leg during the search. The TSA denies she was strip-searched, insisting proper procedures were followed. But they apologized to Lenore for the, quote, "unpleasant screening experience."

CHO: Also new this morning, it's the first win for Tiger Woods in two years. Call it vintage Tiger. Woods rolling in a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole yesterday for a one-stroke victory over Zach Johnson in the Chevron World Challenge in California. It's the fifth time he's won the event, which he happens to host. Afterwards when asked how he felt to win a tournament again, Tiger said, "Awesome."

ROMANS: All right. The Green Bay Packers are still undefeated, barely. The New York Giants came close to handing the Super Bowl champs their first loss of the season yesterday. When Eli Manning tossed a late touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks, and D.J. Ware ran in a two-point conversion to tie the score at 35-35.

But the Packers marched down the field in the final minute and Mason Crosby hit a 30-yard field goal in the final seconds, to give the Packers their 18th straight win, dating back to last season, 18. Final score, Packers 38, Giants 35.

CHO: Well, if one of those teams makes it to the Super Bowl, they'll see her. It's official. The NFL says Madonna will be the featured performer at this year's Super Bowl half time show. Fifty- three-year-old material girl will collaborate with Cirque du Soleil and Jamie King for the big gig. Madonna will be the first female entertainer to host live the half time show since Janet Jackson back in 2004. Remember that?

Super Bowl XLVI is February 5th, in Indianapolis. By the way, two days after her movie release.

ROMANS: That's right. Some great planning there on the part of -- what do they call her in England? Madge.

CHO: Madge.

ROMANS: All right. Still to come, the end of the Iraq war, sending thousands of soldiers home for the holidays. These happy reunions ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

It is 42 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Welcome back. Forty-five minutes after the hour. All this week, CNN is going in depth examining the final hours of the Iraq war. Thousands of U.S. soldiers have already come home and will be spending the holidays with their loved ones.

ROMANS: Right. They've already started arriving at military bases here in the states like Ft. Hood in Texas. Our Chris Lawrence was there for some of the tearful reunions. He joins us live from the Pentagon this morning. It's actually amazing to see the end of a war. I mean, these men and women are saying, the war is over for me. Now, I'm going home and starting again.

LAWRENCE: Yes, that's right. I mean, Christine, Alina, no matter how many times you see these reunions, it just never gets old. One wife explained to me, after nearly a year of being the taxi driver for the kids, having to be good cop and bad cop, sure going to be nice to have her husband home.



LAWRENCE (voice-over): At the first glimpse of her father in nearly a year, Alexandria Frey showed us just how fast a 14- year-old can move. She started high school while her dad was gone. Her mom had to do everything alone.

MICHELLE FREY, HUSBAND BACK FROM IRAQ: It has been a very long time, but it's over.

LAWRENCE: Is there any way to describe what it feels like to have your dad back after so long?


LAWRENCE: What did you miss most about it?

ALEXANDRIA FREY: He was more like my best friend.

LAWRENCE: Now, you've got your best friend back?

ALEXANDRIA FREY: Yes. I have more of a bond with him than anything. So, yes.

LAWRENCE: Enjoy your time.

The last few hours of waiting were the toughest. Then, the plane full of soldiers finally landed, and the troops got a welcome home fit for rock stars. Christmas wishes were answered. The fight in Iraq finished. For Sergeant Major Eric Frey, it's bittersweet.

SGT. MAJ. ERIC FREY, JUST BACK FROM IRAQ: In one sense, I feel happy that it's over with and that we're getting all of our troops out, then you kind of look back at the sacrifices that our soldiers have made, our family members have made.

LAWRENCE: Both in blood and money. At one point, the U.S. was spending $5,000 per second in Iraq. The war took nearly 4,500 American lives, and 32,000 troops came home wounded, but these are some of the last Americans to leave Iraq, and they won't be going back.

MAJ. MIKE IANNUCCULLI, U.S. ARMY: It's my third deployment. First one with both of these guys, and it was a lot harder, but it just makes it that much sweeter coming home.


LAWRENCE (on-camera): Yes. There's a little over 10,000 troops left in Iraq right now. That number is literally changing by the hour. All of them have to be out by the end of December, although, most will be out in the next couple weeks well before Christmas -- Christine, Alina.

CHO: So, we'll be seeing many, many, many, many, many more reunions.

ROMANS: You know, are a lot of people going to stay in the military or are they going to be transitioning to civilian life? I mean, is it a mix?

LAWRENCE: It's a mix. Some people who have gone multiple deployments say they feel they've done their time. They're going to try to take a break now, but I've talked to a lot of service members who say even if they had plans to maybe get out, the economy right now sort of changed that equation. They're saying maybe this isn't the best time. I'm going to re-up for another four years and see how it looks a little later.

CHO: Interesting.


CHO: Makes sense. All right. Chris Lawrence, thank you very much.


CHO: Forty-eight minutes after the hour. New safety concerns this morning at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Coming up, another sign that the earthquake and tsunami disaster may have poisoned the Pacific Ocean. We'll have more on this when we return.


CHO: Ten minutes before the top of the hour. Here's what you need to know to start your day.


CHO (voice-over): Iran claiming it shot down a U.S. a spy drone like this one along the country's eastern border with Afghanistan. American military officials only confirming one of its drones is missing. The Iranian government is not releasing any pictures of the recovered aircraft.

Democrats will propose a compromise plan to extend the payroll tax cut today. The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee says it includes a, quote, "serious way to pay the more than $200 billion price tag."

A major leak of radioactive water at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant. Some 12,000 gallons of contaminated water found gushing from a purification facility. Some of that tainted water may have leaked into the Pacific Ocean.

Mega church pastor, Eddie Long, says he's taking some time off to work on family issues after his wife of 21 years filed for divorce. The split comes more than a year after four young men accused Long of pressuring them into sexual relationships when they were teens. Long has denied the allegations. A civil suit was settled earlier this year.

Louisiana State and the University of Alabama will play for college football's national championship next month. Alabama beat Oklahoma State for the number two spot. It will be the first time in the 14-year history of the bowl championship series that two teams who met in the regular season will face each other in the title game. Undefeated LSU is the only team to beat Alabama all year.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHO (on-camera): That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back after this.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. The "Next List" is a new CNN program focusing on some of America's most creative minds. Every Sunday, Sanjay Gupta profiles people on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. And this week, Sanjay visits a graffiti artist. Illustrator/toy designer, Tristan Eaton, in the third dimension.


TRISTAN EATON, ILLUSTRATOR/TOY DESIGNER: My name is Tristan Eaton, and I designed the daddy. Danny is a toy made by Kidrobot. It's the combination of the devil and bunny (ph). It's designed to be a blank surface for artists that collaborate on it. So, every time that it comes out, it's designed by a different artist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Customizing toy community has grown immensely, just pretty much been a part of it from the beginning.

EATON: Everywhere, there's a major city where there are creative people, we'll find art toys now, Tokyo, all parts of Europe, South America. They're everywhere now.


ROMANS: Very cool.

CHO: Yes. I've seen these toys. They are very cool.

ROMANS: Have you?

CHO: Yes.

ROMANS: Collaborative toy market. Interesting. All right. You can catch the "Next List" each Sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern time right here on CNN.

O: The late-night comics are sure going to miss Herman Cain. "Saturday Night Live" had some fun at the expense of the now former presidential candidate. Have a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you still deny the allegations that you had an affair with Ginger White?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's garbage. The truth is that Ginger White and I are friends and, yes, I gave her money, because that's what friends do. Seth, you and I are friends, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, take some money.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you know that money ain't free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I'll just give it back to you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, what I want everyone to know is, I love my wife. We are close to each other as any couple that I've ever known. So, four days after these allegations came out, I scheduled an appointment to talk to her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, we had an intimate productive discussion while she glared at me and listened to Mary J. Blige.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's when you told her about the affair?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one said nothing about an affair. Come on! I am innocent until proven guilty. That's what this country is all about. Now, if I can't have that, I may as well go on and move to labibya


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you mean Libya?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I think I mean labibya. You know, the Momo Gadhafi place.




Still to come, they could be the costliest car crash in history. You better see these pictures. Eight Ferraris, three Mercedes all involved in a one big pileup in Japan. We're going to tell you how it happened and how much damage was done.

CHO: What are the odds?

ROMANS: I know. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's about 56 minutes past the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)