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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
9/11 Hearings Continue; Did Bush Persuade Countries to Stay Course in Iraq?
Aired April 14, 2004 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Scary scenario. The CIA couldn't stop them, and FBI couldn't catch them. Are things any better now?
GEORGE J. TENET, DIRECTOR, CIA: It will take us another five years to have the kind of clandestine service our country needs.
THOMAS H. KEAN, COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: Five years to rebuild. I wonder whether we have five years.
BLITZER: Stepping up to siege. But is a key enemy backing down? Some nations call for a pull-out. Did the president persuade this country to stay the course?
Sharon's plan. Getting out of Gaza but staying on in parts of the West Bank. Bush gives his blessing.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are historic and courageous actions.
BLITZER: Found alive, left alone for a week at the bottom of a ravine a little girl's amazing story of survival.
ANNOUNCER: This is WOLF BLITZER REPORTS for Wednesday, April 14, 2004.
BLITZER: A grim milestone in Iraq for American forces. U.S. officials say that more American troops have been killed in April, a total of at least 84 than in any month since the start of the war. That brings the total number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq to 688.
On top of this, there's no end in sight to the latest fighting that centered around the cities of Fallujah and Najaf. CNN's Jim Clancy is in Baghdad joining us now live with more developments -- Jim.
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, let's focus in on Fallujah where there are serious doubts tonight some of those fighters inside Fallujah really want to negotiate. Questions, too, about how long this cease-fire can last. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CLANCY (voice-over): As the fragile on again, off again cease- fire in Fallujah was extended 48 hours, the Iraqi Governing Council revealed its negotiator had come under attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was an assassination attempt -- two attempts on his life by the terrorists, of course. And the aim is to kill him and kill any hopes of ending this crisis.
CLANCY: The assassination attempts by gunmen inside the city occurred earlier this week. The key sticking points in the talks, getting those now controlling Fallujah to lay down their arms and leave.
AHMED CHALABI, IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL: I'm afraid if they left Fallujah they would be arrested right away. And of course they would not leave without their weapons.
CLANCY: Wednesday in Fallujah, Marines sand bagged their lines and replenished supplies. But it is unclear how long they will hold these positions and wait for stalled talks to produce a peaceful solution.
Iraqis watching the security situation told CNN there are increasing suspicions Fallujah has been used as a base of operations for foreign terrorists.
Despite widespread fears, suicide attacks that killed or wounded hundreds of Iraqis, two months ago, were not repeated in Shi'a Muslim commemorations last weekend.
The difference, U.S. Marines had surrounded Fallujah and a foreign fighters and former regime sympathizers were trapped. Also trapped, radical Shi'a leader Muqtada al-Sadr's whose armed militia overran police stations and government buildings from Baghdad to Basra last week.
A spokesman for al-Sadr admitted Wednesday that the leader of the al-Mahdi army had dropped demands for U.S. troops to pull back from around the city of Najaf and put his case instead in the hands of religious leaders in hopes of preventing his capture or death.
CLANCY: Some Iraqis want the coalition to keep up the pressure on al-Sadr and on Fallujah. Both of seen as long standing sources of insecurity and if left to fester now, they believe they will only come back to cause more trouble in the future -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Clancy in Baghdad for us tonight. Thanks, Jim, very much.
President Bush says he will provide the United States military with the forces it needs to end the fighting in Iraq. And the defense secretary is doing just that by extending combat duty for 20,000 American forces. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is joining us now with more details -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the last time the Pentagon extended the tours of troops in Iraq back in November, it said it was going to limit their service to one year and that would put some predictability in their lives.
But the unpredictable situation in Iraq has now prompted the Pentagon to back off that promise. CNN has learned that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved a request to have 20,000 troops remain in Iraq for three months at the request of U.S. commanders to deal with the situation there.
That means the U.S. is going to have to back off of its plan to draw down troops to about 115,000 by this spring instead maintaining a level of 135,000. The key units involved are the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. They will have to stay past their planned deployment.
It also means some other units such as National Guard units that are volunteers who have been there over a year will also have to stay, as well. Asked today about breaking a promise to the troops, one Pentagon official said we meant it when we said it but another one added this is war -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. Jamie, thanks very much.
Now to the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks that took aim today at the CIA saying the nation's spies were caught flat-footed by the terror onslaught. Let's turn to our national security correspondent David Ensor for more that -- David.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this staff report was quite sharp of the criticism of the Central Intelligence Agency saying that before the 9/11 attacks there was never a full complete report laying out how serious a threat al Qaeda really was.
ENSOR (voice-over): George Tenet was put on the defensive by a staff report from the commission charging that the director of Central Intelligence, quote, "did not develop a management strategy for a war against terrorism before 9/11."
TENET: When the staff statement says the DCI had no strategy plan to manage the war on terrorism that's flat wrong.
ENSOR: One commissioner pointed to the phrase in the now famous PDB, Presidential Daily Brief, of August 6, 2001, that says, quote, "We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack U.S. aircraft."
JOHN F. LEHMAN, COMMISSION MEMBER: All the king's horses and all the king's men in CIA could not corroborate what turned out to be true. And told the president of the United States almost a month before the attack that they couldn't corroborate these reports.
That's an institutional failure. And I'm here to tell you, there are going to be very real changes made.
ENSOR: In fact, President Bush said just Tuesday night that he is open for suggestions from the 9/11 Commission. The commission is considering whether to propose giving Tenet's successor more real power, hiring and budget power over the other intelligence agencies besides the CIA.
That power is currently held by the secretary of defense.
TENET: All I want to focus on is don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I've done it one way. It ain't the perfect way -- and within the structure that I lived in, the power of persuasion and cajoling is absolutely important because, you know what? At the end of the day you still have to lead. You can have all the authority you want it may not matter.
ENSOR: The commission leaders say they do expect to recommend changes in the intelligence community structure. They are hoping to talk privately with Tenet and many others to try to get the kind of ideas that might not come out in a public hearing -- Wolf.
BLITZER: David Ensor reporting with that. Thanks, David, very much.
The FBI director, meanwhile, Robert Mueller, that is, followed his CIA counterpart in the hot seat today. Telling the commission he's fixing things over at the FBI and warning against the creation of a new domestic intelligence agency.
Our national correspondent Bob Franken is covering this part of the story from Capitol Hill -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That warning really is the reason that you are seeing such assertive testimony from Mueller as well as the CIA director, George Tenet. There is a recommendation being that's considered by the commission that a new domestic intelligence agency be created, modeled after the British agency.
The heads of both agencies say that's a terrible idea. Mueller in particular.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT S. MUELLER III, DIRECTOR, FBI: I do believe that creating a separate agency to collect intelligence in the United States would be a grave mistake. Splitting the law enforcement and intelligence functions would leave both agencies fighting the war on terrorism with one hand tied behind their backs. The distinct advantage we gain by having intelligence and law enforcement together would be lost in more layers and greater stovepiping of information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: By stovepiping they mean the sharing of information, keeping it in the particular unit without communicating in the government, Wolf. That has come down as the biggest problem that the United States government has faced when it was trying to fight the battle against terrorism.
BLITZER: Bob Franken up on Capitol Hill covering the story for us. Bob, thanks very much.
How today's testimony will impact the 9/11 investigation? Commission member Jamie Gorelick, she will join us live. She has come under fire from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and she will respond to her critics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are historic and courageous actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush embraces a plan by the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. How it could impact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the U.S. election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what I'm holding on to right now. Is just that I'll be strong because he asked me to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Grieving families, they lost their loved ones on the battlefield.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't imagine having to survive like that for ten days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Small survivor. A young girl found alive after spending days at the bottom of a ravine.
BLITZER: Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is planning to pull out of Gaza while holding on to at least parts of the West Bank. Today he took his proposals to the White House and won the blessing of President Bush who labeled the plan and I'm quoting now, "historic and courageous." Palestinians have other words for it and for the turnaround in U.S. policy.
BUSH: I've been proud to call the prime minister my friend.
BLITZER (voice-over): And with that President Bush offered visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon what appears to be a major shift in long-standing U.S. policy on two of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He signaled a U.S. readiness to accept Israeli control of at least parts of the West bank including the retention of some Jewish settlements there.
BUSH: In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949 and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.
BLITZER: President Bush also rejected a long-standing Palestinian demand that Palestinian refugees should have a right to return to Israel.
BUSH: It seems clear that an agreed just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there rather than Israel.
BLITZER: Palestinian reaction was swift and negative. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei charged that Mr. Bush is the first U.S. president to legitimize Israeli settlements.
AHMED QOREI, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRIME MINISTER (through translator): If there's any violation in the land issue or any statement that encourages the building of the wall, he says that will destroy the peace process and leave nothing for negotiation.
BLITZER: Mr. Sharon also won the president's endorsement of his plan to withdraw from Gaza. That plan has come under sharp fire from hardline members of the prime minister's own cabinet and Likud Party.
BUSH: He's a bold leader. That's what people want. They want leadership.
BLITZER: And in this election year in the U.S., Mr. Sharon was equally effusive of his praise of the president.
PRIME MINISTER ARIEL SHARON, ISRAEL: You have proven, Mr. President, your ongoing deep and sincere friendship to the state of Israel and to the Jewish people. In all these years, I have never met a leader as committed as you are, Mr. President, to the struggle of freedom and the need to confront terrorism wherever it exists.
BLITZER: The Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry today sharply attacked President Bush's policy in Iraq saying there's a smarter way to accomplish the mission. Kerry responded to Bush's news conference last night. He's in New York City where he promoted his plan to expand college education to more Americans. Kerry said the way to ease the burden on American troops in Iraq and to American taxpayers is to bring in the United Nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why doesn't the president just come out and say I want the U.N. to be a full partner and the resolution that we pass will turn authority over to them? That's the argument right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: While taking questions from the audience at the City College of New York campus in Harlem Kerry came under attack himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People hate George Bush but by the end of your presidency people will hate you for the same things. You may fool some of the Americans that you are different from George Bush on this war but you're not fooling most of the world and you're not going to fool Iraqis.
KERRY: Let me say to you, sir, are you finished with your question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pardon me?
KERRY: I want to make sure you are finished.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can say more if you want. I'll be happy to.
KERRY: I have consistently been critical of how we got where we are but we are where we are, sir, and it would be unwise beyond belief for the United States of America to leave a failed Iraq in its wake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Appearing with Senator Kerry in today's event were New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Charles Rangle.
The FBI director faces a 9/11 commission critical of his agency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter how hard we work or how desperately we tried it was not enough. Victims and the families of 9/11 deserve better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: George Tenet fires back. Are his answers enough to satisfy the commission? I'll speak leave with one commission member, Jamie Gorelick. Also ahead...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We firmly believed in what he was going over there to do. You can ask anybody in the family. He was, like, gung-ho ready to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Coping with the new reality, U.S. soldiers not, repeat not, returning home.
Student charged. Police say she faked her own kidnapping. Now she'll face the legal system.
BLITZER: The panel probing the 9/11 attacks has sharply criticized U.S. intelligence agencies for failing to share their intelligence. One of the commissioners, Democrat Jamie Gorelick was a deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. She is now taking heat herself from GOP critics who say that a memo she wrote back in 1995 helped block that intelligence sharing.
The House judiciary committee chairman James Sensenbrenner wants Gorelick to resign saying she has, quote, "an inherent conflict of interest." Sensenbrenner adds this, "I believe the commission's work and independence will be fatally damaged by the continued participation of Ms. Gorelick as a commissioner. Jamie Gorelick is joining us now live. What say you to Chairman Sensenbrenner?
JAMIE GORELICK (D), COMMISSION MEMBER: Well, my chairman, Tom Kean and the vice chairman, Lee Hamilton, I think, have addressed this issue completely. It's a bogus factual issue. When you ask hard questions of people who are in office and who have been in office, they take offense.
BLITZER: Are you suggesting this is politically motivated?
GORELICK: I actually have no explanation for it. We're just going to put our heads down and do our work...
BLITZER: You did write this memorandum in '95 that helped establish the so-called walls between the FBI and CIA.
GORELICK: No, and again, I would refer you back to what others on the commission have said. The wall was a creature of statute. It's existed since the mid 1980s. And while it's too lengthy to go into, basically the policy that was put out in the mid nineties, which I didn't sign, wasn't my policy by the way, it was the attorney general's policy, was ratified by Attorney General Ashcroft's deputy as well in August of 2001. So we are just going to move on from this. This is not a basis for resignation.
BLITZER: Listen specifically to Ashcroft said yesterday during his testimony when he announced that they had declassified that memorandum. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Although you understand the debilitating impact with the wall, I cannot imagine that the commission knew about this memorandum so I have had it declassified for you and the public to review. Full disclosure compels me to inform you that the author of this memorandum is a member of the commission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That would be you, of course. Were you blindsided, not necessarily you personally, but the whole commission when Attorney General Ashcroft released that memorandum yesterday?
GORELICK: All of us were. He declassified it on the 10th. And brought it to the hearing yesterday morning. And talked about it and we had to ask for it and then he distributed it to us. It, you know, I -- honestly, I'm just not going to even give any credit to this. It's just...
BLITZER: And I take it you're not going to resign from the commission?
GORELICK: I'm not going to resign from the commission. And you know, the commission staff is going to treat this fully and completely. I announced the beginning of the hearing before he showed up that I was recused from the review of any actions while I was there. All of the commission members have some government experience and everyone is subject to the same recusal policies. You could have had a commission with nobody who knew anything about government and I don't think it would have been a very helpful commission. I'm comfortable with where we are.
BLITZER: How unusual is it for a government witness in this particular case, the attorney general, to come before the commission and inform you at the same time he's informing the whole world that he's got this declassified memorandum?
GORELICK: Wolf, let's talk about -- we had really interesting hearings over the last two days. I'm just not going to talk about this. It's not worth it.
BLITZER: Well, let's move on and talk about some of the other substantive issues that did come before the committee. What about, forget about the Ashcroft criticism and Sensenbrenner, what he's saying, but what about the whole issue of allowing the CIA to talk to the FBI to talk to the INS, there are substantive issues that have prevented that from happening dating back to abuses by the FBI going back in the 70s and earlier.
GORELICK: That's right. And the Patriot Act which I supported knocks down a lot of those constraints. Basically it says that it doesn't matter if the FBI is developing grand jury material, it still nevertheless has to share information with the intelligence community, and without going into the details, a lot of those barriers are gone and it's a good thing.
BLITZER: Is it a good thing that there is no domestic intelligence agency today along the lines of MI-5 in England?
GORELICK: Well, that's one of the issues that we really are exploring. We explored it in detail today with Director Mueller and Director Tenet. This is a tough, tough issue for us because as a country we're not used to having domestic spies. And we don't like that notion as a country. So the question is, can you keep these two enterprises separate and yet have them operate really effectively when you have a threat that operates both abroad and in the United States? This is a tough, tough issue.
BLITZER: We know that there were problems in communicating between the FBI and the CIA in the past before 9/11 and going back earlier, but since 9/11 are you satisfied where this level of communication is right now?
GORELICK: I don't even think our witnesses -- our administration witnesses, the FBI and the CIA are satisfied. I think they would say to you and they've said to us, we made a lot of progress. But we are not where we need to be. And here's how we think we can get there. The problem for us, and I think it was best articulated by Chairman Kean is, people have told us that before. We've had, since the mid 80s, we made a counterterrorism center to bring everyone together. Then in '89 we put detailees in from all the other agencies. Then in mid 90s we said, OK, we'll make the deputy director of the CIA center an FBI agent. At each point along the way everyone has said we've turned the corner and we've really done it this time, only to find out that we haven't. So that's the hard question for us is have we got it right now.
BLITZER: We'll wait for the committee to come up with -- the commission to come up with some conclusions end of July. You still have a lot more work.
GORELICK: We certainly do.
BLITZER: Jamie Gorelick, thanks very much for joining us.
GORELICK: My pleasure.
BLITZER: The president's news conference, did he convince the critics?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for this man. And I support him. I just don't support how he's treating the soldiers right at the moment. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ahead, reaction from military families back home to the president's prime time address.
Continued death, chaotic violence, has the war in Iraq become a quagmire for U.S. troops? Up next two United States congressmen debate the issue.
Later, families of the fallen, when the casualties of war hit way too close to home.
ANNOUNCER: From our studios in Washington, once again, Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
More now on the situation in Iraq. There are new developments in the standoff between U.S. forces and the radical Muslim cleric, also new developments in the kidnapping crisis terrorizing foreigners in Iraq.
BLITZER (voice-over): Najaf, possible progress in the standoff with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militia has been on a multicity offensive. A spokesman says Sadr will drop conditions for negotiations with the coalition if senior Shiite clerics approve.
U.S. forces are massed outside Najaf vowing to capture or kill Sadr who is wanted in the death of a pro-American cleric last year. At the same time, military officials are downplaying his significance.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: He's absolutely marginalized. He does not represent very many of the Shia in Iraq or anywhere else, for that matter.
BLITZER: Baghdad, another rocket hit the Ishtar Sheraton Hotel, home to international journalists and contractors. It struck the 12th floor causing some damage but no injuries. It's the second such attack on the hotel in less than a week. Also in the capital, one of two kidnapped French TV journalists reemerges. Both men were released by their captors after being abducted Sunday.
France, along with Japan, is advising its citizens to leave the country because of escalating violence. And Russia is arranging voluntary evacuations for Russian contractors in Iraq.
BLITZER: Meanwhile, there are now unconfirmed reports that two more Japanese citizens have been kidnapped in Iraq. Three others held since last week. The subject of Iraq dominated President Bush's news conference last night. Among those listening closely, the families of American military personnel.
CNN's Brian Todd has their reaction.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At home, an audience divided over the performance of a president who has held fewer formal news conferences than any in modern history.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people of our country are united behind our men and women in uniform.
TODD: Tuesday night's event came at a time when the president has taken a swarm of criticism over the worsening situation in Iraq.
BUSH: There's no question it's been a tough series of weeks for the American people.
TODD (on camera): How this news conference played among families with a stake in all of this of course depends on who you talk to. Predictably, those with loved ones in Iraq looked for certain things beforehand from President Bush and latched on to what they could.
In Southern Pines, North Carolina, Missy Schwartzfager is a long way from her husband, serving in a National Guard unit in Iraq. She took keen interest in the president's resolve to meet the June 30 deadline to hand over power in Iraq.
MISSY SCHWARTZFAGER, WIFE OF U.S. SOLDIER: It's what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear June 30 and how firm he is on that deadline. That comforts me a lot to know that that can happen.
TODD: Not as patient, the McDonald family of Franklin, New Hampshire. Their son Adam part of the Army's 94th Military Police Company in Iraq that just has just had its scheduled return for this month canceled.
SHARON MCDONALD, MOTHER OF U.S. SOLDIER: He talk about just keeping them safe. That's the only part I just have such a hard time with. They have been there too long.
RICHARD MCDONALD, FATHER OF U.S. SOLDIER: I voted for this man and I support him. I just don't support how they are treating our soldiers right at the moment.
S. MCDONALD: I would like to tell him, bring the 94th Company home.
TODD: Opinions also divided among those for whom it too late with loved ones killed in Iraq.
JOHN WROBLEWSKI, SON KILLED IN IRAQ: Some of the messages that he said and some of the points that I think that he made were excellent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We went there in false pretense. The president said, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and we are not finding them.
TODD: Reviews of a president's performance as jagged as these troubled times.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: Joining us now with their take on President Bush's policy on Iraq, two members of the U.S. Congress, Democratic Rahm Emanuel Illinois of, Republican J.D. Hayworth of Arizona.
Congressman Hayworth, let me start with you.
What do you say to those family members who are now about to be told 20,000 U.S. troops who were about to leave Iraq are going to be extended for another three months?
REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R), ARIZONA: Well, I don't think there are any words that can console people who are obviously and rightly concerned about family members.
But I think the president struck exactly the right note last night with his last comment. This is a president who means what he says. I was in Iraq three weeks ago. I can tell you the troops with whom I met, the men and women in uniform, are determined to get the job done and then and only then come home. And morale is high.
And I also heard something else important, that the attacks would increase in frequency and ferocity as we approached the June 30 deadline. That's exactly what the president said last night. And I think if there is solace and comfort, it is the solace and comfort that we have the best-equipped, best-trained military in the world and these men and women are doing their jobs. It is a war environment. We have won the war. Now we must win the peace.
BLITZER: All right, Congressman Emanuel, did the president convince you last night?
REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Well, Wolf, no.
Two things. One, the president I think made a case for why we're in Iraq. He did not make the case for how we're going to get out of Iraq. And that I think is the fundamental problem. He made -- at one point, it was about weapons of mass destruction. And that field goal got moved. Then it was the epicenter of the war on terror. That field goal got moved. And now it's about the theater of terror.
And my case is, at no point did he at all give a case or a plan for how we're going to win it and how we're going to come home. And I think what the problem is, everybody agrees we support our troops. And everybody wants the president to succeed here. We have too much at stake. The point is platitudes and short statements of high rhetoric without a plan fall short of what we need at this point.
BLITZER: Congressman Hayworth, what is the exit strategy?
HAYWORTH: Well, first of all, it's very clever for Rahm to offer the notion of high-blown rhetoric. Certainly, this president is not guilty of that. He just simply lays it out as he sees the case. He is not given to fits of fancy rhetoric. He just lays it on the line.
The bottom line is this. Unlike previous wars and in stark contrast to Senators Kennedy and Byrd and quite frankly the young cleric in Iraq, al-Sadr, this is not Vietnam. You don't have politicians trying to micromanage a conflict half a world away. The people in charge are the generals in charge, rather than the politicians in Washington.
While we, the elected leadership, can give shape to a policy, it is the people on the ground who are making the decisions, as befits a professional all-volunteer military. So we don't need soup to nuts planned out. In fact, what we do have is a timeline now to get the Iraqis back in charge. The June 30 date is sacrosanct. We will see the Iraqis take sovereignty again and we will provide security.
BLITZER: Congressman Emanuel, go ahead.
EMANUEL: Yes, Wolf.
I mean, A, June 30 will be seen as a success if it's legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqis, not if it's an imposed government. And the legitimacy of that government on June 30 is everything to the success of that handover. B, we're not going home after June 30. We're going to still have well over 100,000 troops there. And C is how we bring that peace so we do come home is what was missing.
And let me add one thing, J.D., to this. The fact is what Senator Kennedy said about Vietnam is a healthy debate to make sure we don't get stuck in a quagmire. And the folks over in Iraq, those guys, those terrorists there, no disrespect to Senator Kennedy, they don't really give a hoot what Senator Kennedy says at the National Press Club. They're doing it because they have a view...
HAYWORTH: Well, it is kind of interesting.
EMANUEL: They have a view that we disagree with. But we have a healthy -- and it is important to have a debate so we do not allow policies to direct -- to get us into a quagmire. And that is a welcome thing, even though we disagree. That is a democracy.
BLITZER: Hold on one second, now.
HAYWORTH: Here is what is important to remember. I just need to make this point, Wolf. Here's what is important to remember. In a worldwide situation -- and, no doubt, folks are watching with interest the statements we make -- we do champion debate and differences of opinion.
EMANUEL: That's right.
HAYWORTH: I respectfully disagree with Senators Kennedy and Byrd and the cleric al-Sadr, who say this will be a quagmire. That is a difference of opinion. And the fact is, we will finish the job. And what I heard from the men and women in Iraq, I hear from my own constituents three words: whatever it takes.
EMANUEL: Wolf, one thing.
We all root -- let me make it clear. We want America to succeed. And, in that case, we want the president to succeed in Iraq. To do that, we need a plan, a plan that gets us the peace there, so we can reunite families here at home. And that's what was missing. And no speech or no rhetoric that is short of that will get there. We'll see if the events unveil what I still believe -- and I'll say...
BLITZER: But, Congressman Emanuel...
EMANUEL: Let me just say this. In Bosnia and Kosovo, East Timor, policies are as protective as a Kevlar vest. They help protect the troops. We don't have that policy to help protect our troops. That's what missing in this effort right now.
BLITZER: The president, Congressman Hayworth, seemed to be appealing to the United Nations last night, specifically Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy, to come up with plan to handle the transfer of sovereignty on June 30 to the Iraqi people.
HAYWORTH: Well, the president has said on many occasions, despite some difficulties with the U.N., they obviously play a supporting role.
And last night, as you point out, envoy Brahimi was called upon by the president. And, indeed, the news today that you have reported has to do with the timeline that's laid out, as envoy Brahimi also talked about the interim government, men and women of integrity. And it's not a matter of reinventing the wheel. I would remind you, there's a provisional government in place, along with a provisional constitution.
This is not child's play. This is not done with a snap of the fingers. But this is not Vietnam because you don't have a president trying to micromanage what the folks on the ground in our professional military can do. We understand this is a war on terror. And whatever it takes, we'll finish the job.
BLITZER: All right, 10 seconds, Rahm Emanuel. Go ahead. You get the last word. EMANUEL: First of all, yes, there's a big difference. In Vietnam, they were never trying to blow up buildings here. They were never trying to blow up in Europe. That's No. 1. And it is a healthy debate. And don't try to ally Senator Kennedy with anybody over there. That's not smart and it's not right.
BLITZER: All right.
EMANUEL: No. 2, we need a plan. And June 30, I'm fine with asking the U.N. to participate, because it has to have a legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people, so it works.
BLITZER: We're going to have to leave it right there. The two congressmen...
HAYWORTH: Let's finish the job. Let's finish the job.
BLITZER: Rahm Emanuel, J.D. Hayworth, as usual, this debate -- and it is a healthy debate -- will continue.
April is now the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq, sobering news for American military families.
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COURTNEY GARMON, MOTHER OF ANTOINE HOLT: What happened to my baby was senseless. And they should know. They should know.
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BLITZER: Coping with casualties, how different families are dealing with the same loss.
Story of survival. A little girl is found alive in a roadside ravine 10 days after a car crash that killed her mother. Her amazing story, that's coming up later.
First, though, a quick look at some news making headlines around the world.
Vice President Cheney met with China's President Hu and other top leaders in Beijing and urged them to push North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program. Officials say Cheney presented the Chinese with information suggesting the North Koreans may already have stockpiled a small number of nuclear weapons.
South African election today. President Thabo Mbeki was one of the first voters as South Africa held elections today. Mr. Mbeki's African National Congress is expected to win a strong majority. Preliminary results are expected late tomorrow.
Nose for novelty. What do you do with a nose cone from a Concorde? A bidder from Italy plans to decorate his home. He bought the distinctive airplane part for $200,000 in a British Airways auction of Concorde memorabilia. Another winning bidder may use a toilet cubical designed for the now retired supersonic airliner as an outhouse.
And that's our look around the world.
BLITZER: There's a report an Italian hospital stage in Iraq has been killed. Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic-language television network, says it has received a tape the hostage takers say shows the death. The network says it will not broadcast the tape because it's simply too gruesome. Al-Jazeera said the tape was accompanied by a statement from a group calling itself the Mujahedeen Brigade, which claims to be holding four Italian hostages.
A tape of the four hostages was shown on Al-Jazeera Tuesday. According to the network, today's statement says the other hostages will be killed one at a time until Italy gives into its demands, which include pulling its 3,000 troops out of Iraq. CNN has not seen the latest tape and has no way to determine whether it is authentic. Italian officials say they can't confirm the Al-Jazeera report and they also say they hope it's not true.
Now to the impact of the surge of violence that's left April the deadliest month for U.S. military forces in Iraq.
CNN's Eric Philips tells us the story of some of the pain some of the families are facing.
ERIC PHILIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two Marines, an airmen and a soldier, different faces, different stories, same tragic outcomes.
GARMON: What happened to my baby was senseless.
PHILIPS: Her son was just 20 years old, Airman 1st Class Antoine Holt of Kennesaw, Georgia. Military officials say the husband and father was killed Saturday when his tent was hit by a mortar round at the Balad airfield in Iraq; 20-year-old Lance Corporal Phillip Frank is seen in this home video spending his last Christmas with his family in Elk Grove, Illinois. The U.S. says the Marine was killed Thursday by hostile fire near Fallujah. His family was notified Easter Sunday morning. Frank was a newlywed, married in August. He enlisted after the terrorist attacks of September 11.
GEORGETTE FRANK, MOTHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: He said, I want you to remember no matter what, no matter what happens, I am doing what I want to do.
PHILIPS: Twenty-two-year-old Army Specialist Justin Johnson of Rome, Georgia, also enlisted after 9/11, though he had only been in Iraq a shot time. Officials say he died when his patrol car hit a roadside explosive. JANICE JOHNSON, MOTHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: He truly believed in what he was going over there to do. You can ask anybody in the family. He was like gung-ho, ready to go.
PHILIPS: Nineteen-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Torrey Gray was, too. In fact, the Illinois native was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was shot and killed Sunday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to make sure that everyone in America stands behind our president and that we have to resolve and finish what we started in Iraq.
PHILIPS: Finishing the job she says is the only way to validate the deaths of her son and other fallen troops.
Eric Philips, CNN, Atlanta.
BLITZER: And our deepest condolences to all those families.
A small child with a strong will to live. Her amazing story, that's coming up next.
BLITZER: Rescuers say they are simply amazed a little girl survived a car accident that killed her mother and left her alone in a ravine for several days.
CNN national correspondent Frank Buckley has her story in Los Angeles.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Workers repairing guardrail found the wreckage first, then the girl. Five- year-old Ruby Bustamante had survived a plunge down a hillside and 10 days in the elements.
OFFICER BOB CLARK, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: I couldn't imagine having to survive like that for 10 days and without any help and a small child like that. It is amazing that she was able to live that long.
BUCKLEY: Ruby's mother was nearby. Authorities believe Norma Bustamante survived the initial collision. Family members say Ruby lived on dry noodles and Gatorade that were in the car. Ruby and Norma were reported missing on April 4. At a news conference, some family members said police didn't do enough to find the mother and child.
ROSE LOPEZ, AUNT OF RUBY: This is an outrage. Someone needs to be held accountable for this. There is no excuse for this young mother to have been left out there to die and the child have to go through such a horrific ordeal. BUCKLEY: CHP officers say they receive a car of a possible car over the side in this area, but found nothing. Indio police officers, who were handling the missing persons case, say they understand the family's anguish, but they were actively investigating.
Ruby meanwhile survived the ordeal with only cuts and bruises. She is expected to make a fuel recovery.
DR. WEBSTER WONG, RIVERSIDE COUNTY HOSPITAL: Suffice it to say, she is smiling, watching TV. She is happy to be surrounded by her family again and happy to be here at Riverside County.
BUCKLEY (on camera): In short, she is physically fine. But hospital officials say they are keeping a close watch on the little girl because Ruby also understand that her mother died.
Frank Buckley, CNN, Los Angeles.
BLITZER: Now to follow up on a story we brought you, prosecutors have charged a Wisconsin college student with two misdemeanor counts of obstructing officers. Audrey Seiler's disappearance from her University of Wisconsin apartment last month launched a major search. Police concluded she faked the kidnapping after they saw a videotape of her buying items she said her abductor used to restrain her.
Still ahead, the hits just keep coming for baseball great Barry Bonds.
BLITZER: The San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds hit his 661st career home run last night, passing the record of his godfather, legendary slugger Willie Mays. The shot blasted into San Francisco Bay, where it was caught by the same kayaking fan who nabbed Bonds' home run the night before.
"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.
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