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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Information on Couple Who Crashed White House State Dinner; A Piece of Afghanistan in Indiana; Interview With National Security Adviser
Aired December 2, 2009 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TODD: "Hopefully I can get tickets for the arrival ceremony. The state dinner is completely closed and has been for a while."
It doesn't deter Tareq Salahi, who mails Jones the following Monday: "Do you know what time we need to be there and which entrance we should go through?"
Jones later e-mails back: "It doesn't seem likely that she'd get tickets for the arrival ceremony." She e-mails the next day that the arrival ceremony has been cancelled and: "I am still working on tickets for tonight's dinner."
A Congressional source and an attorney for the Salahis' former lawyer confirmed the authenticity of the e-mails as reported by the Associated Press -- e-mails provided to the House Committee on Homeland Security.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Now, in the end, according to Jones and White House officials, the Salahis never got confirmation that they were on any guest list. And they say Jones left that message on Salahis' voice mail. Now, the Salahis have claimed they were on a guest list.
After the event, after Tareq Salahi thanks Michele Jones, Jones mails back saying: "You are most welcome" and that she was "delighted that you and Michaele had a wonderful time." And she ends it: "Much love, Michele" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You're getting, also, some new information on the charity they ran?
TODD: That's right. It's called the Journey for the Cure. And we've confirmed that for at least two years, that organization was never registered with the State of Virginia as a charity that could raise money. It led to a year long dispute between the couple and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. An official with that agency tells us they finally got the proper registration this month. Again, we've gotten no response yet from the couple's representatives to some of this information.
BLITZER: Brian, thank you.
To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, sharp criticism of President Obama's timeline for the war in Afghanistan and his plan to start bringing home troops in only 18 months. Here to defend it, the man who helped devise the new strategy. My exclusive interview with the president's top national security adviser, General James Jones. Stand by.
Also, Congress demanding answers about controversial new guidelines for mammograms. Outraged lawmakers share their personal stories and put members of a task force in the hot seat.
And lost reels for Marilyn Monroe -- the blond bombshell is seen smoking and drinking in newly discovered footage.
How much will collectors pay for it?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama's plan to turn around the war in Afghanistan -- a massive infusion of U.S. military forces. But that's only part of what the commander-in-chief believes is a viable strategy for victory. He's also ordering a civilian surge -- men and women whose mission is very different, but no less crucial to overall U.S. success.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about that when she testified today before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: And we will triple the numbers that we have on the ground by early January. We've also required all of our civilians to train at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, where our military PRT members train, so that we can, from the very beginning, start integrating our civilian military forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That training that the secretary spoke about is not only remarkable, it's very intense.
Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, visited the camp where it all happens.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a women's clinic, Afghan health care workers plead for American help with medicines and supplies. The room is dark. An American soldier guards the window. The workers are real Afghans, but we are in the heart of Indiana on a one week training mission for civilian volunteers from the State and Treasury Departments, USAID and the Agriculture Department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're late, they will leave. DOUGHERTY: It's all part of the civilian surge that President Obama says is vital to his new strategy. The U.S. is tripling the number of civilians in Afghanistan to about 1,000 by year's end. They serve in villages on the front lines unarmed -- protected by U.S. troops. This Military 101 course is designed to give them the tools they'll need to survive.
The State Department's Elizabeth Horst just returned from a year in Afghanistan.
(on camera): Those guys out there, when you're in Afghanistan, you have to go around with them at all moments, right?
ELIZABETH HORST, STATE DEPARTMENT: Correct.
DOUGHERTY: So how does that change the mission when you're a civilian mission?
HORST: It actually works quite well. We -- we always talk about the mission in advance. We know that there are security concerns. We plan it out.
DOUGHERTY: In another scenario, an Afghan official wearing a Hamid Karzai look-alike cloak discusses a clean water project with the Americans. Looking on, Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew.
JACK LEW, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: The key to this whole mission is that it's a civilian-military cooperation. Every -- every place where we go, every mission we undertake is worked out together and it's a -- it's a team effort.
DOUGHERTY: Michael Keays' experience in Afghanistan helped shape this training course.
MICHAEL KEAYS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE: The physical toll that it takes during the day just to do a simple meeting -- one or two meetings during the day, that would take one or two maximum in the US, takes the entire day because of all the planning that goes into it.
DOUGHERTY: During a visit to Kabul, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledges the challenge.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: A lot of work that we're asking you to do is work that we think has long-term payoff. It may not be immediately apparent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And hold onto this braid.
DOUGHERTY: It's just a training session, but the faces tell the story. Building trust is going to be a long, tough job that guns can't do.
Jill Dougherty, CNN, Butlerville, Indiana.
(END VIDEO TAPE) BLITZER: Among the worldwide audience for President Obama's speech, American servicemen -- men and women in the front lines in this war in Afghanistan.
CNN's Frederick Pleitgen has their reaction.
FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the president announced a major escalation of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. troops in Kandahar got up in the middle of the night to watch. Many feel the troop increase is long overdue.
MSG TRACEY MARSHALL, U.S. ARMY: We're taking hits, you know, all the time. And I think the more soldiers, the better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We go to these certain areas and it -- it's worrisome. So the more people we have here, the more security you have, the more secure we -- our troops can be and safe.
PLEITGEN: Among the reinforcements, combat troops to push back the Taliban, especially in the volatile south and east of the country. But the president's plan comes with a proposed exit strategy.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These additional American and international troops allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll go here.
PLEITGEN: Captain Brandon Anderson knows just how rocky that road is going to be. He's trying to win over villagers in a Zabul Province as part of a larger counterinsurgency strategy.
CAPT. BRANDON ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY: We've learned a lot in -- in the Army in the last eight years in these wars. And in terms of operationalizing counterinsurgency and, you know, finding out and learning what winning look like -- looks like and how we get there, yes, you know, this is part of what we do.
PLEITGEN: But the meeting with the local village elder doesn't go well. He says he would not betray the Taliban, because he's scared, and, in end, refuses to be shown on camera out of fear of being punished by the insurgents.
(on camera): Many commanders here on the ground believe that this is the future of counterinsurgency. But talking to the villagers, what we've found is that they're still pretty afraid of the Taliban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll work together to help you stay safe.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): But without the support of these people, pulling out of Afghanistan could lead to a disaster in this already war-torn country.
1ST LT. LEWS STEVENSON, U.S. ARMY: I think the -- the thoughts on whether it's going to make a big impact would probably come when the troops start rolling in.
PLEITGEN: Here on the frontline, many soldiers tell us while they want to go home as fast as possible, they also want to succeed.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: 2009 is the deadliest year of the war in Afghanistan for U.S. forces -- 301 American troops killed so far this year. That's almost one third of the total -- 927 servicemen and women who've lost their lives in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion eight years ago.
Let's check back with Jack Cafferty for The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Thanks, Wolf.
Al Gore called global warming "an inconvenient truth." But suddenly a lot of people are asking what the truth really is. Suddenly, it's been dubbed Climategate.
A climate scientist at the center of a growing controversy over hacked e-mails is stepping down from a British University's climate research unit under a cloud of suspicion. Critics point to 1,000 pages of leaked e-mails and documents between this scientist and others which they say prove that global warming is not a threat. They say researchers are ignoring data that questions whether global warming is real and have conspired to discredit those who question the phenomenon.
Here in the United States, members of Congress want a hearing into research done by the climate change panel of the United Nations to find out if it cooked the books on global warming.
This is all coming right ahead of the global warming climate summit in Copenhagen.
What's that old expression, timing is everything?
The scientists who believe in global warming say their case is based on "all kinds of evidence" -- like what's happening to the ice in the Arctic. The White House insists climate change is happening, adding they don't think the science is in dispute anymore among most people.
But not everybody is convinced. A recent poll shows the percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening has dropped from 80 percent to 72 percent over the last year.
So here's the question -- do you think the scientific community has been honest when it comes to global warming?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's a big story, as you know, Jack. Only a few days before Copenhagen, too, so there's a lot of -- a lot of controversy.
CAFFERTY: Yes, there is.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thank you.
He helped devise a new Afghan war strategy. Now, he's here in our SITUATION ROOM to defend it from some very sharp critics. My exclusive interview with the president's national security adviser, General James Jones. That's coming up.
The New York State Senate votes on same-sex marriage after the assembly approves it.
Which way did the lawmakers go?
And decades after her shocking death, new footage emerging of Marilyn Monroe.
BLITZER: All right. We're just getting some new word on some new rules being implemented over at the White House in reaction to that infamous party crashing scene last week at the state dinner.
Let's go back to our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian -- Dan, what are you learning?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, Jim Messina, who is a deputy White House chief of staff, has said that the White House has been conducting a review. And at the end of the review, they have determined that the White House did not do everything that it could have done to assist Secret Service. So they're coming out with these new policies, first of all, saying that during any of these official White House events, there will be a White House staff member stationed physically at the checkpoint with the United States Secret Service.
Also, guests will be checked off the list by White House staff. And the Secret Service will continue to ensure that all guests have been properly cleared before entering the White House.
Also, guests' names who are not on the guest list will be assisted by White House staff present at checkpoint for appropriate resolution. And, as always, the Secret Service will provide security and remain ultimately responsible for controlling all access to the White House.
Clearly, this has been an embarrassment for this administration, not only just from the pure story line of this, but also from safety concerns. And the White House saying we could have done more and we will do more -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So it seems that the White House is acknowledging, Dan, that someone from the office of the social secretary should have been at that gate, together with members from the Secret Service, with a list, to make sure that only those on the list go through. LOTHIAN: Right, not mentioning the office of the social secretary, but clearly saying that someone from the White House should have been out there. And, as you know, Wolf, if you've been to any of these events in the past, there's always someone out there from that office with that clipboard, with the names, checking them off. If there's a problem with the Secret Service, you can go to that person and double check. And that person, at least according to the White House, was not there on that night. And, of course, we know what happened.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Dan Lothian, thanks very much.
There's going to be hearings on this tomorrow before the House Homeland Security Committee. We're going to have coverage of that, as well.
Let's go to Fredericka Whitfield.
She's monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Fred, what else is going on?
WHITFIELD: Hello again, Wolf, and everyone.
A defeat today for supporters of same-sex marriage in New York. The state senate killed a bill that would have legalized gay marriage in the state. The vote was 38-24. The measure was supported by the state assembly and Governor David Paterson. Supporters are vowing to bring the issue back for another vote.
And scientists say an Italian man who lost his forearm in a car crash has been successfully connected to a robotic hand without actually being attached to it. Doctors implanted electrodes in what remained of the man's arm, allowing him to control the robotic limb with his thoughts and even feels sensations in the artificial hand.
Researchers say it is the first time a patient has been able to make complex movements with a mind-controlled prosthetic.
And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered plenty of questions today about the Obama administration's new strategy for Afghanistan. But at one point, the focus changed to a much lighter subject -- the engagement of Secretary Clinton's daughter, Chelsea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, please give my heartfelt congratulations to the youngest Clinton on her decision to -- to make a monumental move in her life.
CLINTON: Thank you. It was a very long, thoughtful process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: twenty-year-old Chelsea Clinton announced her engagement to longtime boyfriend Mark Mezvinsky last week. The couple is expected to get married next summer.
So congrats to them on their impending nuptials -- right, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. Long-term. They -- they knew each other in high school. So that's a -- a long-term relationship...
WHITFIELD: That's cute. So I guess that means they met at Sidwell Friends?
BLITZER: She went there. I don't know if he went there, but I know that they -- they knew each other in high school and...
WHITFIELD: That's cute.
BLITZER: ...they both went to Stanford University. He's two years ahead -- older than she is, I think -- or maybe three years older. Two years, I think so...
WHITFIELD: Very cute. You know so much, I have a feeling you're going to get an invitation to the wedding.
BLITZER: I don't know about that, but they're a good couple, a nice, cute couple.
WHITFIELD: Yes, that's sweet.
BLITZER: So congratulations to both families.
He recently said there are only about 100 -- 100 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.
So why is the U.S. building a force now of 100,000 U.S. troops?
I'll ask President Obama's national security adviser, General James Jones, in an exclusive interview. Stand by.
Plus, mammogram outrage on Capitol Hill -- lawmakers demanding answers about some controversial new guidelines.
BLITZER: Reaction to President Obama's newly announced Afghan war strategy has been loud, sometimes sharp, especially over the plan to begin drawing down U.S. forces in July 2011. Today, the president's top advisers are defending the timeline.
BLITZER: And joining us now, General James Jones. He's the president's national security adviser, a former commandant of the United States Marine Corps, former supreme allied commander in NATO.
General, thanks very much for coming in.
GEN. JAMES JONES, USMC (RET.), NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Thanks, Wolf. It's great to be here.
BLITZER: Retired general.
JONES: Exactly, yes. (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: Although once a Marine, always -- always a Marine, is that right?
JONES: That's absolutely right.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about the president's new strategy. He says in about 18 months, the U.S. will start to withdraw forces from -- from Afghanistan.
How long will it take to get all the troops out of Afghanistan?
JONES: Well, as -- as the president said, it's conditional on the situation on the ground at the time. But what -- the intent is to start the process. It -- it is not a cliff where everyone leaves at the same time, but it is certainly an intent to be able to transition a lot of the responsibility for -- for the management, the conduct, the government of Afghanistan back to Afghans.
And -- and that's the -- that's -- we're going to use the time between now and then to set the conditions to materially change the way the Taliban is operating on the ground and to enhance the -- the governance qualities of the Karzai government and to work with our friends across the border, the Pakistanis, to eliminate the safe havens.
BLITZER: Right. Just to be clear. So right now, about 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: It's going to go up to about 100,000.
BLITZER: Starting in July 2011, though, the number is going to go down.
BLITZER: But it's unclear how quickly that number will go down.
JONES: Well, it -- it will be a transition, but it will be based on -- on conditions at the time. But it's clear that -- that we think that this is an achievable goal and that's what the president has decided and that's what we'll do.
BLITZER: Because in this original recommendation, the general, Stanley McChrystal, sent to the president -- this was months ago -- he thought the U.S. would have to spend years and years in Afghanistan to get the job done. JONES: Well, that's been part of the problem with -- with our mission in Afghanistan. By the way, not just us, the 42 other sovereign countries -- is that it's been rather open-ended. And so the president decided to narrow the mission in -- in terms of time and -- and focus a little bit and to give -- give some incentives to President Karzai and the Afghan establishment to start taking control of its own destiny.
BLITZER: The theory being if you don't put some deadline on it, there's -- there's not enough pressure. People just sort of...
JONES: Right. And...
BLITZER: ...we'll keep it open forever.
JONES: Correct. I mean we -- we can't want this more than the Afghans do. And -- and we think they want it. And we're -- we think that we can, with our allies by this -- this flow of forces, set the conditions that will give them time and space to achieve those goals.
BLITZER: How did you come up with the July 2011 target date?
JONES: Well, it was based on, as you know, an exhaustive review that's gone on for several months. And we coalesced around that -- that date based on military estimates and -- and political guidance, decision-making by the president. And we have decided using the departure time as 1 July of '79 (ph) because, Wolf, you have to remember, we put 33,000 troops in 2009. So we -- we figured we could assess our -- our performance on this strategy starting 1 July of 2009, going to 1 July of 2011. That's a two year time frame in which we hope to effect about half a dozen things that have to -- have to turn our way.
BLITZER: Because some of the pundits have suggested there's politics at play here, looking at political calendar, not just the military strategy.
You're a military guy.
BLITZER: In all the meetings that you had in the White House Situation Room, was there ever a discussion of politics?
JONES: I never heard it.
JONES: Not -- not on this issue.
BLITZER: So you...
JONES: Now, there's...
BLITZER: ...you... JONES: You know, there were discussions about what's supportable in the Congress and so on and so forth. But not -- not a political- based discussion on -- on dealing with a flow of forces and the lives of our troops on the ground. That's correct.
BLITZER: So -- so the notion that this July 2011 would be a year before the Democratic presidential convention in 2012 there...
BLITZER: ...you categorically reject all that?
JONES: That, categorically, was never mentioned in -- in our Situation Room.
BLITZER: How did you come up with the 30,000 number, because General McChrystal, I think, wanted 40,000?
BLITZER: You came up with 30,000.
How did you come up with 30,000?
JONES: Actually, he's going to get 40,000. And the way he's going to get 40,000 is we're going to put in 30,000 U.S. troops. NATO is, we think, going to contribute anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000, at least, to start, maybe even more. There's been a lot of enthusiasm in NATO for the way we've done this and the collaborative way we've done this. And we -- we'll see on Thursday and Friday of this week the results of the foreign ministerials conference at which this will be rolled out.
And then, in order to get the Afghans involved in it, we asked General McChrystal to ask the Afghans for about a 5,000 man -- a 4,000, 5,000 man Afghan force. So in RC East and RC West, which is the two main areas that the U.S. is involved in, he will have roughly 40,000.
But the big thing that changed is the narrowing of the mission and the focusing on the timelines. And with those -- with that happened -- once that happened, General McChrystal was able to say, well, you know what, I can do this with 30,000 U.S. instead of 40,000.
BLITZER: And he can live within that time frame of between now and 2000 -- July 2011?
JONES: Every -- every member of the uniformed chain of command and the civilian chain of command has agreed -- agreed to this.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: Just weeks ago, General Jones said there were only about 100 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.
So why is the Obama administration massing 100,000 U.S. troops there?
I'll ask General Jones about that and more, as my exclusive interview continues.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Tiger Woods, a golfing champ with a squeaky clean image and now apologizing to his family and friends for "letting them down."
What prompted this intensely private athlete to make such a public mea culpa?
The debate over climate change is reaching a boiling point. The fight is now focused on some very embarrassing e-mails from leading climatologists suggesting dissenting views should be squelched.
And the holiday season in the Obama household, in the words of the first lady. That's coming up.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But first, more of my exclusive interview with the president's top national security adviser, retired Marines Corps Commandant General James Jones.
We talked about taking on Al Qaeda, the role of Pakistan and the cost of deploying tens of thousands of additional forces to Afghanistan.
BLITZER: The additional NATO troops who are coming and the NATO -- there's about 40,000 NATO troops right there -- who pays for their deployment in Afghanistan?
Do their governments pay it or do the U.S. taxpayers pay?
JONES: Their -- their governments pay -- pay for their deployments. Now, there are certain countries that do not have the wherewithal, smaller countries. And -- and the U.S. government can make a decision on its own to support those countries. But by and large, the larger troop contributing nations are all paid for by the -- by their -- by their own governments.
BLITZER: Here's what the president said about fighting al Qaeda. I'm going to play a little clip. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Our overarching goal remains the same, to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. The goal, to defeat al Qaeda. This is what you told our John King on October 4th on his show "State Of The Union." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: The good news that the Americans should at least feel good about in Afghanistan is that the al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Less than 100 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and the United States needs 100,000 troops to fight less than 100 al Qaeda operatives?
JONES: Well, the -- the mission is obviously to keep it that way. The fact remains that al Qaeda is still operating on the other side of the border in Pakistan, is planning attacks against the United States. We have been working very closely with the Pakistani government to make sure that one of the -- they understand that one of the preconditions of our success over these next 18 months is -- is that they have to tackle that particular situation. They have to rid themselves of that cancer that exists between those two countries.
BLITZER: But the U.S. troops in Afghanistan are not going into Pakistan.
JONES: Exactly right, but Pakistan can do an awful lot that there, and we're working with them to make sure that that happens. On the other hand, in Afghanistan, we do have an insurgency. We do have al Qaeda sympathizers. We have the Taliban that's actively trying to -- if they could they would overthrow the country, and we have a -- a compact with the Afghans to try to give them a better future and -- and what we've said and we've done this now for eight years, we're going to be there for at least two more years, and then we're going to transition to make sure that they can take over their responsibilities and develop the kind of Afghanistan that they want in their future.
BLITZER: Because it sounds -- excuse me for interrupting. Less than 100 al Qaeda guys in Afghanistan and the United States needs 100,000 forces, it's still -- I'm not seeing the rationale for fighting 100 al Qaeda guys with 100,000 U.S. troops.
JONES: We're not just fighting al Qaeda. We are fighting insurgents and we're fighting insurgent organizations that have ties to al Qaeda, and if we weren't there, would recreate the situation that we had ten years ago or more than eight years ago now that would allow them to organize, train, recruit and launch attacks on the United States and allies.
BLITZER: How big of an enemy force is there?
JONES: The --
BLITZER: How many guys is the U.S. planning on fighting in Afghanistan?
JONES: The estimate -- the estimate in Afghanistan is about 27,000 right now.
BLITZER: 27,000 Taliban, al Qaeda sympathizers, plus 100 or so al Qaeda operatives themselves?
JONES: Correct, correct.
BLITZER: But the Taliban is different than al Qaeda because there are all sorts of suggestions from President Karzai and even the U.S. wants to negotiate with the Taliban, pay them off, if you will?
JONES: Well, there may be a process of reconciliation and reintegration which the Afghans will subscribe to and that we will help to facilitate, but the criteria has got to be that the arms have to be laid down and they have to be able to join the legitimately elected government. We are -- we have -- we have enabled the Afghans to have a -- a chance at a better future, just as we did the Iraqis. It is now close to time for them to decide that, you know, whether they want this and to what degree they want it.
BLITZER: Just as you negotiated and made deals with the Sunni insurgents in the al Anbar province in Iraq and started paying off some of the tribal leaders and others, you're prepared to do the same thing with the Taliban in Afghanistan?
JONES: We're prepared to try to provide the Afghan people the same opportunities, Wolf. All polls that we have in Afghanistan show that the Taliban's popularity is less than 10 percent, and -- and I having been there for several years and having spent a lot of time focusing on this problem, I'm quite sure that where we are now is that the Afghans are trying to figure out who is going to win this. At the end of the day who is going to prevail, and I believe that with this plan that the president has recently adopted that the opportunities for us being on the prevailing side are significantly enhanced.
BLITZER: But John McCain and other critics are saying that by having a date certain or at least a deadline for getting out you're basically telling them, don't worry, the United States is leaving. They are going to be gone and they should get ready for that.
JONES: Well, they are going to be there anyway because it's a -- the Taliban is a -- is not only a -- a political organization but it also has a violent arm to it, so that's the reality that the Afghans of the future are going to have to deal with. The -- the date is one that -- which signals a transition, not an end, a transition, and what we want to do is do everything we can so that by the time we get to that date is have enough elements, good governance, reduced safe havens in Pakistan and much more capable and effective and visible Afghan national security force, better integration of an economic recovery plan and an Afghanization plan that shows how much of Afghanistan the Afghans themselves can control, and gradually turn over increasingly parts of their country to their sovereign rule.
BLITZER: We know there are plenty of al Qaeda guys in Pakistan right now operating in Pakistan.
BLITZER: But we also know that there are some operating in other countries like Yemen and Somalia if you take a look over there. Are there more al Qaeda operatives in Yemen or Somalia or Afghanistan?
JONES: Well, our best information is that al Qaeda is feeling increasingly uncomfortable in Pakistan and -- and as you -- as I mentioned our goal is to make sure that they are very uncomfortable in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and we have evidence that they are moving, at least in some part, to Yemen and Somalia. They -- this organization will always seek the ungoverned spaces or the areas where they perceive they can operate under the radar, so if we can get them out of -- of the Afghan/Pakistan region that would be good, but this is an organization that has to be tracked, and we're tracking it wherever they go.
BLITZER: So is the U.S. going to go after al Qaeda in Somalia and Yemen?
JONES: We will be working with other governments to make sure that they understand what's happening, just as we're doing in Yemen right now. The Saudis are obviously very concerned. Al Qaeda is not exactly welcome in any one place in this world, and if we can do anything to make them uncomfortable and not allow them to survive anywhere we're all be safer for it.
BLITZER: Somalia is basically a failed state. The U.S., as you remember, you're a military guy.
BLITZER: The U.S. has had some experience in Somalia. There is a government in Yemen. Is the government of Yemen working with the U.S. to crush al Qaeda in Yemen?
JONES: We're in the formative stages of a relationship. Obviously we have a very close relationship with Saudi Arabia. We are sharing information with other governments to make sure they understand where this -- this organization might be going, and there's a growing network that is really global about this kind of organization that -- that is increasingly effective in real-time intelligence transfer and real-time arrests of very, very bad individuals that exist as well.
BLITZER: There's really no government in Somalia so they have free reign. Let me repeat the question. Are there more al Qaeda operatives in Somalia and Yemen right now than they are in Afghanistan?
JONES: Not yet, but it is something that's worrisome in the sense of if we're really successful, as we expect to be in Afghanistan and Pakistan, they will ultimately want to go somewhere, and we -- we need to track them when they do.
BLITZER: And when you say track them, does that include military operations, drones, all sorts of activities as the U.S. does in Pakistan, for example?
JONES: By whatever means. This -- this is a threat to our national security, to the people of the United States and to our friends and allies, and as I said, it's not just us. There's a growing international consensus that everyone has to participate.
BLITZER: More of the interview coming up tomorrow. The second half of the interview focuses in on Pakistan, the security, the safety of its nuclear arsenal and Iran, is Iran building a nuclear bomb? I asked that question flatly to the national security adviser, and you'll be -- might be surprised to hear what he has to say. Two of the urgent matters on the president's plate. A lot more coming up tomorrow in our interview with the president's national security adviser, General Jim Jones. That's coming up tomorrow.
Meanwhile, we're watching some other important stories up on Capitol Hill. There's outrage over those mammogram guidelines, lawmakers demanding answers about the controversial new guidelines.
Scandalous video surfacing on the internet showing Romania's president doing something. We'll tell you what's going on.
BLITZER: A controversial recommendation on mammograms went under the microscope today. The chair of a government task force appeared on Capitol Hill to answer questions from concerned lawmakers, so house members wanted to know why the panel decided to tell women in their 40s they no longer need to get yearly screenings on a routine basis. Joining us now from Atlanta, our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.
It's caused a huge uproar out there, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly has including on Capitol Hill. Most of the members of congress present at today's hearing questioned these new guidelines, but members of the task force fought back. They said that they -- that their findings were in the name of science and statistics.
COHEN: Lawmakers began with their personal stories about breast cancer, a congressman who lost his aunt, another whose wife had breast cancer. Congresswoman Sue Myrick said she can't understand how a federal task force could suggest women in their 40s don't need regular mammograms.
REP. SUE MYRICK (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Because to me it's sending the wrong message to women. It's saying you don't have to be vigilant. You don't have to take care of yourself. You don't have to do preventive care, and the reason that concerns me is that I'm a ten- year breast cancer survivor. I'm one of those that persevered literally to find, you know, my own cancer because I knew something was wrong with my body.
COHEN: According to the recent report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, mammograms are highly inaccurate. For every 1,000 women in their 40s who get mammograms, two cancers are found and 98 false positives are found. The report says women then need to have invasive procedures to check out a positive mammogram, and they worry unnecessarily when the mammogram turns out to be wrong. The vice chair of the task force defended the group's guidelines.
DR. DIANA B. PETITTI, U.S. PREVENTIVE SERVICES TASK FORCE: Cancer is a terrifying prospect and carries special emotional weight because of the consequences of the diagnosis have in the past involved not only death but the prospect of mutilating surgery.
COHEN: And one congressman did defend the task force.
REP. JOHN SARBANES (D), MARYLAND: But to put our head in the sand and not look at the science it seems to me would be a serious mistake.
COHEN: But most who testified on Capitol Hill today were critical saying the recommendations could put women in danger.
JENNIFER LURAY, PRESIDENT, SUSAN G. KORMEN: We know that mammography is an imperfect tool but instead of stepping away from it, we must close the technology gap and come up with better methods.
COHEN: Now in addition to those false-positives I mentioned, another down side of mammograms is the radiation that they emit, and there was an analysis that came out today that said that women who get mammograms starting in their 20s and get them frequently may be at an increased risk of breast cancer because of the radiation but more studies need to be done. Wolf?
BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.
About to go on sale on eBay lost footage of Marilyn Monroe that a collector tracked down to the woman who shot it half a century ago. Let's go to our Abbi Tatton.
Abbi, where was this home movie shot?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it was in a New Jersey apartment sometime in the late '50s, Marilyn Monroe seen relaxing with friends in this yellowing 16-millimeter film. Monroe is seen smoking, drinking wine and being silly in the words of collector Kia Morgan who heard of the film while investigating a documentary investigating the theory that Monroe was killed because of an affair with President Kennedy. The woman who shot the footage in her 20s who wants only to be known as Gretchen at this point for sake of her privacy says apart from once loaning it to FBI investigators it's been packed up in a box and forgotten. This week she is putting the film's copyright up for sale on eBay. Morgan the collector bought the physical film for $275,000. Wolf?
BLITZER: Wow, all right. Thanks very much for that, Abbi.
Other scandalous video surfacing on the internet. Did Romania's president actually slap a child? He says it's all a hoax.
Tiger Woods says I'm sorry, but for what? The scandal surrounding one of the greatest athletes of all time.
BLITZER: Let's get back to Jack for the Cafferty file.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is do you think the scientific community has been honest when it comes to global warming?
Keith in Virginia writes, "No real scientist will say right now that climate change we see is due to anything humans are doing or ever did. What they should say is that we still, with our super computers, cannot predict the weather nor our influence on it. What these scientists did is reprehensible and unethical. What Al Gore is did manipulate the facts for his own gain."
Pamela, "Well, migratory animals and insects changed course, satellites show the ice in the arctic is melting, oceans are heating up, polar bears are drowning, so I'd say, yes, scientists are being honest. What do independent scientists have to lose? Do they have more to lose than politicians who are in the pockets of big oil and big coal?"
Guna in Jamesville, New York, "Global warming's been taking place ever since the last ice age. Unless the climate remains the same forever, and that's not possible, it's bound to warm or cool. We're in a period of warming. Unless you'd like another ice age we ought to just accept it. This is not to say she shouldn't clean up air, water and trash before we poison ourselves. If we don't do that soon we won't have to worry about the climate anyway."
Dee in Massachusetts, "Something smells funny here. I always thought scientists wanted to find the truth, naive me. The apparent effort to suppress inconvenient information is disturbing. Hope they look into it, and recheck the reported observations that were the basis for the green revolution."
Ron writes, "Absolutely, the only question is, how much is the climate changing? Should we wait until billions are starving here in the U.S. and around the world before deciding we should have done something years ago?" And David says, "Man induced global warming, don't hold your breath. Americans are supposed to turn themselves into hunter gatherers and return to the rice paddies while the rest of the planet tries to achieve Al Gore's lifestyle. How inconvenient!"
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog, CNN.com/Caffertyfile. A lot of extremely intelligent responses to this, Wolf, and it occurred to me this question is absolutely at the upper limits of my ability to comprehend the answers.
BLITZER: Yes. That's a very important story, indeed. I don't think -- but you understand it, absolutely.
CAFFERTY: You didn't hear a word I said.
BLITZER: I did, I heard every word, upper limits and understanding. I know it was cold when I woke up in New York City this morning.
CAFFERTY: There you go. That sums it up.
BLITZER: 20 years after the fall of communism presidential elections in Romania are feeling the YouTube affect. The video showing the president's violent side is dominating the final days before the vote. Let's go back to our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton who explains.
Abbi, what's in this video?
TATTON: Wolf, imagine you're a president running for re- election, what's the worst possible video that could come out in the final days? How about one that appears to show you punching a child in the face? Well, that's what's been happening in Romania. This video here, that's the president Traian Basescu, and there in the orange on stage. In this video he appears to lash out and punch a child. This is footage shown endlessly on Romanian TV stations largely sympathetic to his opponent, there it goes again. President Basescu is taken to his campaign website to say, this is dirty tricks. This is a fake. He's posted this slow motion version in which the child gets hit again and again with an expert asserting that extra frames have been added on a computer to make it only look like the child is getting punched. Jim, a former U.S. ambassador to Romania, following all of this says, true or not the bare knuckled personal attacks show 20 years after they overthrew communist dictatorship Romanians learned the messy methods of American democracy. The run-off vote is this weekend. We'll see how he does. He's still been insisting that he didn't strike the child again in a press conference today.
BLITZER: A lot of people looking at that, especially in Romania. Thanks very much for that Abbi.
Tiger Woods' public relations nightmare, new allegations of an extra marital affair and voice mail allegedly from the golfer to a mistress.
And the first lady gets personal, talking about what the holidays mean to her and her family.
BLITZER: Today the first lady reflected on the holiday season and her family's past, present and future.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I'm a family, Christmas and the New Year has always been a time to reflect on our many blessings to rejoice in the pleasure of spending time with our family and our friends, and to renew our commitment to one another and to the causes that we believe in. And I wanted to continue that part of the tradition during our first holiday season here at the white house. And this year's been filled with an infinite number of blessings for me and my family. And I say this all the time but every day I am honored to be this nation's first lady and from the day that my family arrived here, I wanted the American people to share in our journey, to share in the history and the excitement that makes the white house such a special landmark in this nation. We're focusing our efforts this year on two very important causes. We're supporting local food banks and the toys for tot program. Hunger is on the rise here in America hitting its highest levels in nearly 15 years. A recent report released by the USDA reveals that, in 2008, an estimated 1.1 million children were living in households that experienced hunger multiple times over this year. And of course, no child in the United States of America should ever go to bed hungry and no family in this country should have to worry that they won't have food on the table, not just during the holidays, but every day.
BLITZER: The first lady announced a federal program that will provide Americans with resources to help combat hunger in their own communities. She urged people to logon to serve.gov. Mrs. Obama voiced support for the toys for tots program.