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Allies Bush & Blair Meet; Can FBI & CIA Work Together?

Aired April 16, 2004 - 13:59   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're seeing in Iraq is an attempted power grab by extremists and terrorists. They will fail.


O'BRIEN: A show of support. President Bush and his closest ally standing together on Iraq.

American intelligence in the war on terror, can the FBI and the CIA get the job done together?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to kill you, shut up!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move it! Get out of the way! Move it!


O'BRIEN: Art imitating life? A hit play in Egypt acting out some Arab frustrations with America.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Miles O'Brien. Kyra Phillips is off this Friday, and this hour of CNN's LIVE FROM... begins right now.

We start our new hour with a meeting of minds at the White House. When the minds are those of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the subject is Iraq. Consensus is, to say the least, expected. Today, though, the two stood shoulder to shoulder behind a concept the U.S. had cold-shouldered for a year, that is U.N. supervision of the upcoming return of Iraqi sovereignty.


BUSH: This week we've seen the outlines of a new Iraqi government that will take the keys of sovereignty. We welcome the proposals presented by the U.N. Special Envoy Brahimi. He's identified a way forward to establishing an interim government that is broadly acceptable to the Iraqi people.

The stakes in Iraq are clear. Iraq will either turn back the challenges to democracy or return to the camp of tyranny and terror. Iraq will either be an example of a region that is weary of poverty and oppression or it will be a threat to the region and to our own people.

Our nations face a stark choice as well, Britain and American and our allies can either break our word to the people of Iraq, abandon them in an hour of need and consign them to oppression. Or we can help them defeat the enemies of a free Iraq and build the institutions of liberty.

The prime minister and I have made our choice. Iraq will be free. Iraq will be independent. Iraq will be a peaceful nation and we will not waiver in the face of fear and intimidation.


O'BRIEN: Now for his part, Mr. Blair reflected on a brutal month for coalition forces, a month that's barely half over.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It was never going to be easy. And it isn't now. I pay whole-hearted tribute to the American and British troops and troops from all the different coalition countries and to the civilians also from many nations. We mourn each loss of life. We salute them and their families for their bravery and their sacrifice.


O'BRIEN: To get some more British perspective on this, we begin with CNN's European politic editor Robin Oakley joining us live from London.

Robin, good to have you with us. The prime minister comes to the United States at some political peril, doesn't he?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, he does indeed, Miles. There's not a lot in it for him. Every time he sees George Bush, the analysts say, the pollsters back in Britain, that his poll ratings drop each time.

And while it was good for George Bush to have his strongest allies there beside him, an election year, showing that the U.S. is not isolated on Iraq, very little dividend in it for Tony Blair. He had to come and show that he could demonstrate some real clout with the president as a result of his close association and backing on Iraq.

He needed to get some different words from the president on the Middle East, which to some extent he did. And he needed to get a greater commitment from George Bush to a role for the U.N. in Iraq in the time to come.

Not a lot of detail about from the two men about how they see the new U.N. resolution on Iraq. But very firm display of unity, determination to carry on and not to be deterred by any kind of terrorism or attack -- Miles. O'BRIEN: If the goal was to at least get lip service to the U.N. brokering of some kind of transfer of power to Iraqis, then Mr. Blair can come back to London and say this was a successful trip, can he not?

OAKLEY: Well, he can, yes. And he will be able to say that George Bush is now pushing more for a U.N. resolution. But we didn't get the details of that plan from Lakdhar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy, for the shape of the interim Iraqi authority that's going to take over.

Both governments committing themselves to it, but we don't know exactly what shape it will take. And as Mr. Brahimi himself has said, you can't start working toward elections in Iraq and getting democratic institutions up and functioning until you have sorted out the security questions.

There wasn't any detail from Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair today about exactly what they are going to do about the new round of insurgency, the kidnappings and so on, which are creating such chaos in Iraq at this time. So that's got to be sorted out first before they can create this new role for the U.N. -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All that in very short order. It's a tall order, indeed. Robin Oakley, in London, thank you very much.

Talking edges out fighting today as the headline from the hotbed we've been telling you all about, Fallujah. For the first time since U.S. Marines responded to a grizzly upsurge in violence there, Americans took part in face to face meeting with local leaders. They do not call it a negotiation, however. Marines are holding a nominal cease-fire, but a leader of the U.S. delegation warns time is limited.

Back in Baghdad, a U.S. general elaborates.


BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY: This is a tough town. And right now it's being surrounded by a bunch of tough Marines. We are hoping for a peaceful resolution. But if that peaceful resolution -- if these discussions do not bear fruit, then we are prepared to conduct offensive operations to complete the mission assigned to the Marines.


O'BRIEN: To the south today, heavily armed, highly vocal defenders of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rallied in the streets of Najaf while Sadr's militia and the man himself are facing the prospect of an unpleasant showdown with U.S. forces on the outskirts now.

But Iraq's most powerful Shiite, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, is warning Americans not to set foot in those holy cities. The stubborn instability in Iraq comes as a surprise to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He admitted as much yesterday while expressing regret about breaking a promise to U.S. troops stationed there. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre explains.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The decision to keep 20,000 troops Iraq three more months is a tacit admission the Pentagon was overly optimistic about how calm Iraq would be one year after the war began.

In yesterday's Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was more candid, admitting he didn't foresee the staying power of the insurgents.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I certainly would not have estimated that we would have had the number of individuals lost in -- that we have had lost in the last week.

MCINTYRE: April has been the deadliest month of the war, with nearly 90 Americans killed and more than 540 wounded, more than half of the deaths coming in the past week. The Pentagon estimates during the same time between 1500 and 2000 enemy fighters have been killed. But those figures are not released to avoid the mistake of Vietnam, when body counts were cited as a measure of success.

The decision to hold 20,000 troops in Iraq for three more months will affect some 40 Army units, including 11,000 soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, 3200 from the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and about 6000 Guard and reserve troops.

(on camera): Rumsfeld said he regretted having to extend the stay of troops who have been promised they would only have to serve a year in Iraq. He said the current plan is to replace them with fresh troops if higher troop levels are still needed by the summer.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


O'BRIEN: So does this lay the seeds for a long-term problem of recruitment and retention? We'll talk about that issue, hear from both sides. A high-ranking military official will join us, as well as an expert who has studied the problem of retention and recruitment very closely. That's coming up a little later in the program. So stay with us for that.

News across America for you. Fledgling liberal radio network Air America temporarily back on the air in Chicago thanks to a New York judge. Multicultural Radio Broadcasting pulled the plug on Air America in a contract dispute. But a temporary restraining order will keep the radio hosts talking in the Windy City at least until a court hearing on Monday.

The National Rifle Association wants to become a news media giant itself, starting with a radio station and an Internet talk show focusing on, you guessed it, guns, and politics, too. The move allows the group to sidestep political spending limits. And little Ruby Bustamante will nurse her fractured knee at home. The five-year-old, who survived 10 days on dry noodles and Gatorade, ate ice cream while being wheeled out of the hospital. The girl was trapped in a ravine following a car accident that killed her mother.

The probe into September 11 could entirely change the hierarchy of the U.S. intelligence system. The White House says today it is considering the creation of a new post to oversee all U.S. intelligence agencies. During recent testimony to the 9/11 panel, the FBI and CIA chiefs addressed the wall between the two agencies that is creating a dangerous communications gap.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve has more on what's being done to try to bridge that gap.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Smith Brandon International, a security consulting firm, is a mixed professional marriage. For 10 years Gene Smith was a CIA agent, Skip Brandon is a 23-year veteran of the FBI.

SKIP BRANDON, SMITH BRANDON INTERNATIONAL: There are times when it can be a bit like the War of the Roses.

GENE SMITH, SMITH BRANDON INTERNATIONAL: There's absolutely a difference in culture.

MESERVE: A difference that dates back decades. From the get-go the FBI saw the newly-formed CIA as a threat to its turf.

RON KESSLER, AUTHOR: When J. Edgar Hoover was FBI director, he actually ordered the FBI agents not to talk to the CIA officers.

MESERVE: The rivalry persisted. FBI spy Robert Hanssen was not detected before 2001, some say, because the FBI insisted the mole must be inside the CIA. More recently, the CIA did not share results from the Cole bombing investigation in a timely fashion, impeding FBI tracking of two 9/11 hijackers.

(on camera): Until the Patriot Act there was also a high legal wall between intelligence and law enforcement agents. In addition the FBI and CIA had different domains, missions, and tactics.

(voice-over): Gene Smith, the former CIA agent, sees herself as an independent undercover entrepreneur who looks at the big picture. Skip Brandon, the former FBI agent, is more of a public team player oriented toward a specific result. But for nine years they have collaborated successfully..

BRANDON: There are sometimes on projects we go both ways and then at the end we push them together. And I think it works pretty well, maybe the same thing can (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the CIA be the FBI.

MESERVE: Though that isn't in the cards, the FBI and CIA are sharing more with a new Terrorism Threat Integration Center, for instance. The 9/11 Commission has talked about building an entirely new domestic intelligence agency like Britain's MI-5.

A bad idea, say Smith and Brandon.

SMITH: It's putting a dog and an alley cat in a smaller box. They need the room to roam.

MESERVE: To roam, they say, and do their respective jobs.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


O'BRIEN: Shocked and disappointed. Families react to the news that their sons, daughters, husbands and wives won't be home this spring. You'll hear from some of them straight ahead.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Sean Callebs in Washington. Still ahead, an ambitious government plan to encourage the private sector to share its operational secrets in the name of safety. Is it working? We'll explain.


O'BRIEN: The Pentagon announced this week that it is keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq for three more months, perhaps more. Adam MacDonald and Matthew LeBreton are among those who are staying. They're serving in the 94th Military Police Company, that's an Army Reserve unit that has been in Iraq for almost a year already. Their parents spoke with our Soledad O'Brien earlier today on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Sharon, I want to start with you. Can you give me some details about when your son first learned that he was going to be deployed longer and what he said?

SHARON MACDONALD, SON SERVING IN IRAQ: Well, he learned on Saturday. He called us Saturday night. We were at the Lebreton's house for the evening, because we were going to spend Easter with them. And we actually found out from another soldier who called home before Adam actually called home, because she said that some of the soldiers couldn't bear to call home and tell family members, and he was very tired, said he didn't get any sleep, and was very disappointed, and so were we.

O'BRIEN: You say very disappointed. Richard, describe how he sounded. Was he upset? Was he angry? Was he just frustrated?

RICHARD MACDONALD, SON SERVING IN IRAQ: Well, he sounded tired. You know, the boys were in -- at the Customs Office, and they were processing to, you know, leave to come home, and the buses were waiting outside for them. And during that process they were pulled away, you know, from the station and told that they are not going home. So these guys, you know, mentally were home. They were homeward bound, and they were just abruptly pulled away from that. And all of those boys over there were pretty upset and pretty shocked.

O'BRIEN: You say boys, but of course there were women, too. Francesca, in fact, it was really just a matter of hours before they were officially supposed to leave, before they heard the news about staying, and we've read reports about some of the soldiers throwing out some of their stuff because they thought, I'm out of here, I'm gone. Tell me a little bit about how you son Matthew reacted when he heard the news that in fact he'd be staying as well.

FRANCESCA LEBRETON, SON SERVING IN IRAQ: Well, I didn't get a call from Matthew. Matthew was so upset, and he couldn't bear to call me to give me the news, because he was afraid of how I was going to react. So he called a neighbor to let them know that they were on hold, and that neighbor called me. And...

O'BRIEN: And how did you react?

LEBRETON: I completely -- I just fell apart. I just felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. The soldiers were so close to coming home after being extended once. They really thought they were on their way home. They were waiting for the buses, and then all hope just left them when they were told they were on hold.

O'BRIEN: Wayne, your wife says she fell apart. What was your reaction? Are you angry? Are you frustrated?

WAYNE LEBRETON, SON SERVING IN IRAQ: I'm terribly frustrated. I was in South Carolina when I got the call, and my wife sounded very, very upset and depressed when she gave me the information. And I was expecting I'd spend a week in South Carolina playing golf, and I expected when I got home on Saturday night that I'd be getting a call from my son Matthew, saying that he was in Ft. Drum, New York. And to find out that they were set back again for the second time, it was extremely demoralizing to me, and I know how the troops feel as well.

O'BRIEN: I know that you all have a very strong support network within the 94th, soldiers there. So I hope that you're all going to be able to help each other get through this really disappointing and difficult time. Our best to all of you.

Thank you so much for talking to us. I know it's a difficult topic to broach. So we sure appreciate it.


O'BRIEN: Are there enough troops to do the job in Iraq and other hot spots? It depends on whom you ask. We'll talk about it with an Army officer and a former assistant secretary of defense, that's later on LIVE FROM...


O'BRIEN: Thanks but no thanks. That's the reaction so far from businesses to a new federal program designed to protect them from terrorists. Why the reluctance, you ask? We'll turn it over to Sean Callebs. He's got the answers. Hello, Sean.

CALLEBS: Somewhat involved story, Miles. But in the wake of 9/11, a federal commission has, of course, been poring over what mistakes were made, leaving the nation vulnerable to an attack. But one government plan designed to protect thousands of private businesses, such as factories, banks and power plants, is off to a slow start.

The Department of Homeland Security initiated the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information Program two months ago. It encourages companies to voluntarily provide confidential information, information on potential susceptibilities in say, security systems or operations.

In turn, the government is promising to use this information to protect them and develop security standards. The government program has a budget of nearly $4 million and about 30 employees. To date, only two companies and two trade associations are seeking assistance from the Department of Homeland Security.

The DHS says it is too early to be disappointed.


BOB LISCOUSKI, HOMELAND SECURITY ASST. SECY.: I would argue that there's probably more of a public good benefit behind sharing the information to the government. But as we begin to aggregate it and it's going to be one of those issues where the more we get, the better off we'll be, we'll be able to share much better information back with the private sector so they can protect themselves.


CALLEBS: So why is this important? Well, consider this: a full 85 percent of the nation's infrastructure is in private hands. Some in the private sector are worried the government will use this proprietary confidential information for other purposes.

And this is what Laurence Brown with the Edison Electric Institute has to say, quote: "Given the way they wrote the regulations, the low participation rate is the natural outcome. To be fair it will never be easy to convince industry that the government will keep their information confidential. That was always a hard sell, but the way regulations are written, it is well nigh impossible"

He went on to say, and we quote again here, he is "disgusted and disappointed" by the PCII regulation -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. Sean Callebs in Washington, thank you very much.



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