Ex-CIA Director David Petraeus will be testifying on Capitol Hill this morning about what he knew regarding the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Bengazi. The House and Senate intelligence hearings will take place behind closed doors. This will be the first time Patraeus will speak to government officials since he resigned last week over an extra-marital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Sources told CNN’s Barbara Starr that Petraeus wants to clear up "a lot of misrepresentations of what he told congress initially," and that he saw two streams of intelligence about the attack.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee also held a hearing on Thursday over Benghazi. California Republican Congressman Ed Royce is a ranking member of that committee and Chairman of the Terrorism Subcommittee. He joins John Berman on "Early Start" to discuss today's hearing.
Some Republicans have questioned whether Patraeus’ resignation was linked to what he knew about the attack on the diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Rep. Royce thinks his testimony today will be to clarify what he knew about it and clear the record of the CIA.
“I think the reason General Patraeus wants to testify,” Royce says, “is because he knew almost instantaneously that this was an attack linked to al Qaeda.” Royce says its important to questions why Patraeus and the White House would maintain the “line of argument” that a video was responsible for the attack in “the face of the facts.”
Israel engaging in ground warfare with Hamas in Gaza overnight. Israeli militants shelling more than 300 terror targets overnight. Sr. International Correspondent Ben Wedeman joins Zoraida on the phone from Jerusalem.
While officials spoke with Egypt Prime Minister, agreeing on a brief three hour ceasefire, Palestinian militants launched hundreds of rockets into Israeli territory for the second day. Two have hit Tel Aviv.
Wedeman says that a limited number of protests against Israeli police have sprung up around Jerusalem and the West Bank. Though there are several hundred protestors, he says it is relatively calm compared to protests in the past.
Whether war is in the near future between the countries, he says, “Certainly they have called up 16,000 reservists and there are apparently tanks on the move. Other equipment and heavy armor heading for Gaza, very similar to what we say in 1008-1009 last time…it does appear that they are preparing. ”
Twilight actress Elizabeth Reaser shares some of the best advice she's ever received.
NYU Langone Medical Center caught media attention during Superstorm Sandy when the hospital was forced to evacuate hundreds of patients, including infant babies, while the storm raged on. The center suffered extensive flood damage, and now a massive cleanup operation is underway. CNN was the first network to be allowed to have cameras inside to see the damage. Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen surveyed the damage.
The hospital was “ruined by more than 10 million gallons of flood water,” Cohen reports. It's been pumped out, but Cohen and her guide Richard Cohen, the Vice President of Facilities Operations, wear a mask because of the smell left behind. In the cellar, the water destroyed several million dollars worth of equipment in an MRI suite. On the first floor, the water was so high people could have almost been under water. A lecture hall “became a swimming pool.”
“NYU Langone has brought in hundreds of clean up workers,” Cohen reports, “some with specialized skills from around the country.” “Clean up is 24/7, expected to cost around $700 million.”
NYU Langone's Chairman of the Board, Ken Langone, was a patient at the hospital the night of the storm. He was recovering from pneumonia and walked out the building during the evacuation. “They woke me up and said we're evacuating,” Langone says. “And I said ‘fine.’ So I got up and brushed my teeth, put my clothes on and I said ‘let's go.’”
Now many rooms throughout the medical center are idle. Langone says he hopes they will be up and running again in about four weeks.
John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin tell you what’s trending on the web now on “Early Start”.
First: lie to win? The annual World’s Largest Liar Competition is underway in England. Each contestant is given up to five minutes to invent the best lie in the contest, which was founded in honor of a 19th-century inn landlord who was reportedly legendary for slinging the bull. But get this, lawyers and politicians are banned from the contest for having an “unfair advantage.”
And The Onion has declared its sexiest man alive. It’s none other than 29-year-old Kim Jong Un. Of course it is. The Onion says North Korean heartthrob is every woman's dream come true. He’s strong and sturdy and has a cuddly side.
Christine Romans is minding your business this morning. Hostess is dealing with a strike of 18,000 workers. With a deadline of 5PM yesterday for the bakers' union to get back to work not met, we are waiting on Hostess to put out a statement on whether they will liquidate all 33 plants or not.
But good news for consumers, the one thing you need to know about your money, is that mortgage rates have hit record lows. "Rates are falling because investors are worried about the economy, so they're throwing money into the bond market and out of the stock market," Romans says. "But those rates are so low...you might have to go and see if it's time to refinance again."
Hard hit residents of Staten Island are dealing with the third week of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Nick and Diane Camerada are two of them. CNN’s Mary Snow talks to the Cameradas about how they are coping.
While others in his community were anticipating a visit from President Obama to survey the damage there, Nick's mission was “keeping the heat on in his family's Staten Island house.” Snow says Nick “was more concerned with working on the boiler he was able to rig up just Wednesday to provide heat.”
CNN first caught up with the Cameradas last week as Nick described his harrowing experience.
“I went through the most pain that I ever went through in my whole life,” Nick had said, “from being electrocuted trying to get back into my house to watching everything, all my possessions and my family practically almost dying.”
Friends and relatives of the couple have been offering help since then, even delivering gasoline for the generator.
The Cameradas plan to rebuild their home, Snow reports. “But they say the 19- thousand-dollars they've been told they can get in government aid won't be enough—and feared the President wouldn't see how bad the damage really is.”
Nick says everything's all cleaned up now, but “it wasn’t pretty like this” the last few days. “They cleaned up now because the president is coming down to see the progress that was made down here.”
The Cameradas were able to speak about their struggles to President Obama once he arrived. Obama said he was committed to helping them out. “I'm gonna stay on it,” Obama said. “I’m not gonna be a stranger and suddenly forget all about it.”
They say they’ll see if Obama keeps his word on their road to recovery. “We’re gonna see the real Barack Obama,” Nick says, “his true colors.”
Snow says the Camerada’s “home still has no electricity and they learned of a potential setback. The gas line may be shut down while repairs are made, leaving them in the cold once again.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) joins CNN this morning to discuss how President Barack Obama defeated opponent Mitt Romney in the presidential election on Tuesday. Blackburn argues that the president’s success lay in his campaign’s ability to convince voters that the economy is improving.
“I think the Obama campaign convinced people that jobs and the economy were getting better,” the Romney campaign surrogate argues, adding that she disagrees with the direction Obama has taken the economy. “But with voters all across the country, what we saw was jobs and the economy was the number one issue.”
Blackburn also argues that she is unsure of where “things kind of ran off the rails” for opponent Mitt Romney, but claims that Hurricane Sandy halted the former governor’s momentum.
“The point is President Obama won this race,” Blackburn adds. “Those of us in the House need to help him be a better president in the second term than he was the first term.”
President Barack Obama won re-election on Tuesday, defeating Republican Nominee Gov. Mitt Romney after a long and grueling presidential race. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) joins CNN this morning to discuss the president’s victory and to argue that now that “the election is over, it’s time for governing” not politics.
“It’s time for people to get serious about getting things done, putting Americans back to work,” Nutter says, adding that higher education and encouraging businesses to invest are also important. “Let’s put the politics aside – the point scoring politics – and let’s deal with real people, real personalities, real leadership and commitment to making things happen on behalf of the American public.”
Just for one night, President Obama and Mitt Romney celebrated their differences with humor instead of contempt. The candidates were all smiles at the Alfred E. Smith Charity Dinner in New York last night, aiming only to win applause and laughter and not a key demographic. Democratic Analyst and Fmr. Senior Adviser to President Clinton Richard Socarides and Editor-in-Chief of RedState.Com Erick Erickson joins Zoraida Sambolin on “Early Start” this morning with their take on the light and civil exchange.
Socarides says “it’s fair to say that they are putting that on.” “This is deadly serious moment in this campaign, and while they can be funny because it makes them look good,” Socarides says, “they’re not that happy with each other right now.”
Erickson says the event is still worth it. “I think people like to see that the politicians do get out during the day,” and then “go do a worthwhile cause at night and poke fun not just at each other, but they also poke fun at themselves.”