tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 26, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
mainly on our roads in the bay area. >> thanks for joining us here at 5:00. nightly news is next. d rain and soon high winds across enough of the country to screw up travel across the country. and already it's a tough go for millions on the move for thanksgiving. birth control battle. the fight over obama care and religious freedom. it's headed to the supreme court. double agents. tonight a secret government plan exposed. how the u.s. turned guantanamo bay prisoners into spies and turned them loose. and a few good men and how they are changing a thanksgiving tradition forever. "nightly news" begins now. good evening.
it is already tonight a storm that stretches from the southern tip of florida up to nova scotia, and at its core, which is a moving target right now, it's dumping a ton of misery on several states. the timing of this storm could not be worse because of what it does on the ground and in the air to the business of getting around. 700 flight delays already, and this storm is just getting started. the satellite picture of the nation from space shows the expanse of it. tomorrow is the busiest travel day of the year. 43 million americans on the move. and while the storm is churning in the eastern part of the country, its effects, of course, will be felt all over. it's where we begin our coverage again tonight. nbc's tom costello is out in it in pittsburgh tonight. good evening. >> reporter: hi, brian. in fact, in this area we used to have -- or did have snow earlier today. now we've got just the bone-chilling extreme rain and cold out here. you mentioned the delays.
a hundred flight cancellations nationwide. we flew in today from atlanta, and we can tell you that it was a little bit of a rough go, and across the country everybody is struggling today. at the world's busiest airport in atlanta, a cold driving rain made for a miserable day on the ramp for robert cotton. >> you have to dress in layers. you never know how long you're going to be outside. >> reporter: inside, a rush of activity and just a handful of delays and cancellations. we're going to fly today atlanta to pittsburgh through the weather. we'll see how it goes. as the rain picked up, my flight was among those delayed. >> i do apologize for this delay, and i hope to get you out of here and get you on to your holiday as quickly as possible. >> reporter: waiting at the gate with me, stacy danko, trying to get home to youngstown. >> the flight coming here was delayed from texas. our crew is coming from memphis, which is delayed. >> reporter: but the wait didn't
last long. total delay in atlanta about 90 minutes. now headed for pittsburgh. trading the rain in atlanta for a winter landscape on approach into pittsburgh. the airport blanketed by about an inch of snow. >> never been this bad. we travel from school every year like this. never this bad. >> reporter: further north in michigan, a sheet of icy led to a multi-vehicle accident near flint closing i-75 for several hours. near whitehall, a dashboard cam caught this truck jackknifing and barely missing an already-stopped car. near roanoke drivers were met with ice a quarter inch thick. while on long island in new york, trooper frank bendario has seen this before. a holiday rush and treacherous roads. >> it's just going to be twice as congested, i would assume. and then factor in the weather and the flooding, it's probably going to create a lot of traffic and very slow going. >> reporter: and still 36 hours
till thanksgiving morning. yeah, the folks in new york and pennsylvania bracing for a lot of snow and a lot of rain. interestingly, i heard from quite a few parents concerned about their kids driving back from college. yet another thing to be concerned about. brian? >> absolutely. tom costello starting us off from pittsburgh, thanks. i want to take a look at live pictures from i-90 up in buffalo where they don't scare easily in winter. so the traffic is moving along, but we talk about the northern reaches of this storm. they're expecting 8 to 12 inches of snow before it's all over. tonight meteorologist janice huff has been kind enough to join us to look at where this is going and what's in store. janice, i understand the winds on the back end are going to make for kind of a second wave of flight problems. >> reporter: exactly. and that's going to come behind this system. the winds ahead of this system may gust up to 60 miles an hour in the northeast along the coastline. wind, rain, snow and now even the potential for tornadoes from myrtle beach down to jacksonville and from
tallahassee to tampa, florida, tonight, causing delays up and down the eastern seaboard. so our computer forecast model will track it through tonight. it's mainly rain from new york city down to washington, d.c. on the back edge is that snow band you spoke about that will produce anywhere from 8 to 12 inches maybe up to 18 inches of snow across portions of lake ontario. here it is 6:00 a.m. wednesday and we're still seeing big delays from new york city up to new england and more heavy rain moving through the region. it starts to taper off around 6:00 in the evening on wednesday, but the damage likely to be done by then because the storm's duration and how large it is too. potential for rainfall, 2 to 4 inches. there are flood advisories in effect as well. 6 to 12 inches of snow maybe even more than that, up to 18 inches over the leeside of the lakes in upstate new york that extends back into portions of ohio as well as pennsylvania. and in terms of wind gusts, right around 8:00 thursday morning we're talking about
gusts between 35 and 45 miles an hour from boston down to new york city. and of course the big thanksgiving day parade is going to happen here in new york city on thursday. and there's a threshold in terms of the winds. and it will be very, very close. macy's will let everyone know whether those large balloons will fly, but definitely by thanksgiving day the weather is a lot calmer across the country. we can't wait for that. >> hopefully everybody will be where they need to be by then. janice huff in the weather center will keep an eye on all of it. janis, thanks. in other news, obama care is back at the supreme court. this time the question is about religion and whether this new health care law can require companies to offer contraceptives. our justice correspondent pete williams joins us from our washington bureau tonight with this latest challenge to the law. pete, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. the supreme court has already ruled that corporations have free speech rights. now it has agreed to take up a big question it has never answered before. do private companies also have freedom of religion?
the oklahoma family that owns the hobby lobby with more than 550 arts and crafts stores nationwide employing 13,000 people says the company is founded on religious principles. >> we believe wholeheartedly that it is by god's grace and provision that hobby lobby has been successful. therefore, we seek to honor him in all that we do. >> reporter: but the company says providing insurance coverage for contraceptive measures like the morning-after pill is the equivalent of paying for abortion, violating its religious freedom. a similar claim comes from a pennsylvania woodworking company owned by a mennonite family. but does a company even have freedom of religion? the lower courts are divided. >> everybody agrees that some organizations and companies have to have some religious freedoms. take a church, take a religious hospital. the question we don't know is how far does that go? does it go to a craft store that happens to have religious owners? >> reporter: religious institutions including churches
and other nonprofits have won exemptions from the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage, but for-profit companies face stiff fines if they fail to comply. >> freedom of religion is more than what you have in your head, and when you go to a church service. it's where you work, your family and your whole life. that's exactly what the framers of the constitution had in mind to start out. >> reporter: defending the law, the obama administration says nearly half of all pregnancies in the u.s. are unintended costing health care $5 billion a year. and women's groups say access to contraceptives is not just about birth control. >> all contraceptives can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by up to 50%. given that we have very few weapons against ovarian cancer, this is one that's very important for women. >> reporter: the court will probably hear this case in late march with a decision some time before the end of june. brian? >> pete williams in our d.c. newsroom tonight. pete, thanks. overseas in afghanistan, the deal for what happens after u.s. combat troops leave next year is
suddenly on very shaky ground tonight. afghanistan's president hamid karzai upping the ante now, making new demands in a meeting with national security adviser susan rice, saying he needs more concessions to let american troops stay in his country even on a noncombat basis. deal or no deal, the americans still on the ground are in a tough spot preparing to come home with so much work still ahead. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has our report tonight from forward operating base gamberi in eastern afghanistan. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. this deal does seem to be in jeopardy. and for american troops on outposts like this one and others like it, it's personal. they and their families are trying to determine whether american forces will still have to deploy to this country in the future or whether the war in afghanistan will truly be over next year. soldiers from the 10th mountain
division lock and load and roll out, heading down to what may be the most chaotic border in the world. the crossing to pakistan. only about half the people in trucks are screened at all. this is supposed to be one of the main routes out of afghanistan for tons and tons of american supplies, but sometimes the pakistanis close this border crossing to u.s. equipment. it's closed right now. other times it's just too dangerous. there was a suicide attack here a few days ago. captain kevin bolt is responsible for monitoring the crossing and worries what might happen if there's no u.s. presence and the afghan troops he's training aren't ready to handle it. >> we definitely want to make sure we get the most out of the time and blood and sweat spent in afghanistan. >> reporter: major general james mcconville from the 101st airborne is the commander of about 10,000 troops in eastern afghanistan.
he took us on a chopper ride to show progress. we flew over bases mcconville has shut down. the general from boston ran 58 last spring. it's down to 13 now. the rest transferred to the afghan army and police. we landed at one run by an afghan general. he told us his forces are still dependent on mcconville for a whole lot. >> we need further air support. we need further training. we need intelligence reports. >> reporter: when does that final parenthesis go on the war? it opened 2001. it closes when? >> i don't know. i don't really know when the actual end is. what i know is we're on a positive path. a positive trend right now for the afghans having really a true opportunity for a future.
>> reporter: but no u.s./afghan deal means mcconville and the general and the tens of thousands of men they command are in limbo. afghanistan's future and the legacy of america's longest war are now open questions. analysts here say karzai is probably negotiating, but he also risks losing the most powerful backer this country has ever had. brian? >> richard engel live from afghanistan for us tonight. richard, thank you. still ahead for us this evening, secret agents. a plot right out of "homeland," a name from the beatles and a real life thriller exposed. and later, hold the phone. who is that on the other end of the butterball hot line?
it's the kind of thing we never know about while it's happening because we're not allowed to, but tonight we are learning more about a secret area at guantanamo bay called penny lane where after 9/11 the cia took a sizable risk. we get more on the story from our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. >> reporter: hidden only a few hundred yards from the guantanamo prison's administrative offices a top secret compound of cottages now abandoned, but ten years ago, following 9/11, code named penny lane. an ironic allusion to the beatles song just as gitmo was code named strawberry fields. in fact, what went on at penny lane was more like "homeland" than a magical mystery tour. >> it's not a trial. it's a quick execution you're facing here. you'll be tortured first. >> i'll tell you everything you want to know, chapter and verse, but i can't go back. >> you will do both. >> no, i won't. >> yes, you will. >> no, i won't!
>> reporter: just as in the tv series, the cia tried to turn hard core guantanamo detainees into double agents and infiltrate them back into al qaeda. >> it would be irresponsible for the cia or other intelligence organizations not to use these detainees to help protect the united states against future attacks. and that might well include using these operatives as future agents to disrupt other attacks. >> reporter: the prisoners were enticed with penny lane's special accommodations. real beds and mattress, private kitchens and showers, even pornography for those who asked, and they were paid millions of dollars from a secret account code named pledge. but there was always a threat that once back home, they would turn back again into terrorists and attack the u.s. >> i think it was a very ill conceived program for them to think that because these are some very hard core individuals and many of whom have been released by both administrations have gotten back in to fight us and our allies, unfortunately. >> reporter: former officials say the cia even considered
sending some pakistani former guantanamo prisoners back to the u.s. on student visas to help track down a u.s. terror cell. that idea was apparently dropped and there's no evidence that any of this ever worked. by 2006 the entire project was abandoned. penny lane remains. eight overgrown cottages a testament to the desperate mind-set after 9/11. andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. we're back in just a moment with something we said here on the air last night that got a response from earth orbit.
cbs news announced today it's imposing a leave of absence on "60 minutes" correspondent lara logan and her producer max mcclellan after their reporting on benghazi was revealed to be wrong and based on a witness who lied. an internal cbs news report says that was knowable before the piece aired. and msnbc and alec baldwin have had what they're calling a mutual parting of the ways.
"up late with alec baldwin" on msnbc has gone to bed early. it lasted only five episodes and is no more. baldwin received a raft of bad publicity after a tirade and some subsequent run-ins with paparazzi. pope francis is getting a lot of attention tonight for the mission statement he issued for the catholic church he'd like to see in the future. it was a kind of summary of a lot of things he's been saying lately. he writes that the church must reform itself and pay more attention to the poor. he also wrote the church must, quote, abandon the complacent attitude that says we have always done it this way. notably, he does go on to make clear the church doctrine on issues like abortion will not change. elsewhere on the pope's schedule this week was a meeting with vladimir putin who we should note showed up to meet the pope 50 minutes late. back in this country, environmental officials are conducting a damage assessment after a towboat carrying 100,000 gallons of fuel sank in the
mississippi river after striking something in the water along the way. it's now leaking fuel into the water. a stretch of river in eastern iowa is closed to barge traffic while they try to figure out how bad this leak is and how to contain it. because we had reason to believe they would be watching us, last night on this broadcast we asked the crew of the international space station to do us a big favor and to try to take a picture of a house in australia as they fly overhead at 17,000 miles an hour, give or take. and it looks like they're going to try to oblige. today the nasa flight engineer on board the space station replied to us on twitter, quote, that is a tough picture to take, but we will give it a try. the house in question is the guinness record holder for the most christmas lights at just over half a million. so we naturally figured it would be visible from space. and we couldn't help but notice, using one of the many international space station web trackers that our loftiest viewers have flown over
australia tonight since we've been on the air. so our hopes are high. well, she was born the daughter of hippies 43 years ago this coming thursday. so please join us in wishing happy thanksgiving, a happy birthday, and a happy thanksgiving. her name is happy thanksgiving because hippies just used to think that way and because otherwise she would have been named tracy or something more conventional. when we come back here tonight, a thanksgiving first. real men talking turkey.
finally here tonight, it was 150 years ago today that president lincoln signed a proclamation marking a national day of thanksgiving. and ever since then, turkeys have been scared and, in the days since the invention of the phone, people have been calling the butterball hot line. this year there is something new you might notice on the other end of the line. and we get that story tonight from nbc's kevin tibbles. >> reporter: folks, if your turkey's still in the freezer, you're in big trouble, but don't panic. talk turkey. >> butterball turkey hot line. how can i help you? >> reporter: for years there's been a helpful voice on the other end of the line to deal
with turkey-tastrophies. carol miller's been doing it since the early days. >> since 1984. if you do that math, it's like 29 years. i was a sweet babe, though. >> reporter: this year butterball has decided it's high time someone else answered the phone too. >> butterball turkey talk line. this is r.j. how can i help you? >> reporter: yes, a man. men don't just do the carving any more. butterball says 42% of them play a role in cooking turkeys, too. what's a typical male caller say aside from help? >> first of all, you got to tal. what's a typical male caller say aside from help? >> first of all, you got to talk them down. you got to talk them off the ledge of turkey crisis. there's really no crisis that we can't handle here. >> used to be just women and an occasional guy would call. now we have about 25% of our callers are male. >> reporter: but before ladling up the advice, you have to show your stuffing at butterball university. teacher, how many different ways are there to cook a turkey? >> many, many, many, many different ways. >> reporter: my favorite, of
course, is grandma's way, in the oven, golden brown, a work of art. here everyone has their cooking skills tested too. i thought the guy was just there to cut the meat. >> well, there's nothing wrong with being the carver, but many men are actively involved with the food preparation, the actual roasting of the turkey, the side dishes. we're in changing times, kevin. >> reporter: although when it comes to turkey, some things never change. >> isn't that looking great? >> reporter: that's delicious. >> get your hands off of there. >> reporter: now that's a thanksgiving tradition. apparently tasting isn't for a couple more days. kevin tibbles, nbc news, naperville, illinois. and that is our broadcast for this tuesday of thanksgiving week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
good evening and thank you for joining us. i'm jessica. >> and i'm raj mathai. >> and three accidents in san jose in the last 48 hours. two have died. this is one of the deadliest years on record for pedestrians in the bay area's biggest city. the most recent happened last night on monterey road. the other two on sunday. now police are trying to determine if anything anyone could have done to prevent these accidents. chris is joining us from san
jose. >> reporter: hi there, raj. police say the investigators will look at things like lighting and other conditions, speed, whether drugs and alcohol were a factor. but as far as the accident that left a 14-year-old girl here in the hospital, if speed was a factor they would not be surprise. there's two-thirds of a mile between stoplights and in between are two schools and a youth center but just two crosswalks. he says he's lucky his cars were unoccupied the two times they were totalled by people coming by. >> i've seen a lot of close calls. >> on sunday night something did happen. a 14-year-old high school freshman was struck by a mini van across from the school. police say the girl was talking on her cell phone as she crossed the dark roadway. this year 24 pedestrians have been killed by cars, the most i