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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Bob Dole; Interview With Anthony Zinni

Aired May 30, 2004 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 7:00 p.m. in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for "LATE EDITION." I'm Judy Woodruff. Wolf is away this week.
We'll get to my interview with World War II veteran and former presidential candidate Bob Dole and the terror attack in Saudi Arabia in just a few moments. But first, let's go to CNN headquarters for a check of the hour's top stories.

(NEWSBREAK)

WOODRUFF: We begin with Saudi arabia and an unfolding story. The man to be believed al Qaeda's top leader there is reportedly claiming responsibility for the deadly attack on an oil compound. At least 22 people were killed, many of them Westerners.

An Islamist Web site featured an audiotaped voice attributed to Adel Aziz al-Muqrin. He called the attack victorious, and said the body of an American was dragged through the streets. However, several American hostages were released early today.

Joining us now to talk about all of this and how his country is Nial Al-Jubeir. He is information minister for the Saudi Embassy here in Washington.

Mr. Al-Jubeir, first of all, 22 people killed, a terrible assault on this compound of many Westerners in Saudi Arabia. How could this happen?

NAIL AL-JUBEIR, INFORMATION MINISTER, SAUDI EMBASSY: Well, the intent of these criminals was to kill as many people as possible. They are looking for opportunity, and a housing compound is an opportunity. It is not the grandeur that we have seen before in Riyadh bombings, but -- armed men moving into a compound, taking hostages and then slaughtering them. That is the new face of al Qaeda we have seen. We're going after them.

The positive side is that we have rescued many, many more. We moved in after it became obvious that they were out there killing and slaughtering the hostages.

WOODRUFF: And yet, we are told three of the four militants escaped from Saudi security.

AL-JUBEIR: I'm not sure about that, whether escaped or not. That's the report that you're reciting. Our indication is one them got killed earlier on. Another one was in custody, and this is still unfolding. They are still combing through the building and the community to look for the terrorists, as well as the other terrorists who might be involved in it outside the compound. It is a big neighborhood to look forward. It's an early stage, and we're committed, and we know we will find them.

WOODRUFF: Let me read very quickly to you from what one analyst in London said. His name is Tip Ripley. He's with the Center for Defense and International and Strategic Studies. He said, "This is not somebody planting a bomb and running off." He said, "This is large numbers of armed men running amok in a very large city, which is unprecedented."

AL-JUBEIR: Well, I think the number is four. I don't know if "a large number of people" constitutes -- or if four constitutes, five constitutes a large number of people. It does not take much to come with an automatic rifle into a building and shoot innocent people. This is not a large operation.

It kills, it makes headlines, but unfortunately it's very difficult to guard against. It is very difficult to guard against anyone entering any building in this country and stop shooting and murdering people.

We are trying to locate these people. We're trying to go after them, and we've been successful. We've uncovered large car bombs that we defused, and I think this is just another step of how desperate they are.

WOODRUFF: But doesn't this say that Westerners are no longer safe in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, the intent of al Qaeda from the beginning was to go after the Saudi state and the United States. That was their first intent. They almost succeeded. Now they're trying to cripple the world economy by trying to send a message that foreigners are not safe in Saudi Arabia.

It is a message that has broadcast around the world, and that's what they're going for. I think they are safe, but it is a decision that each individual has to make.

WOODRUFF: Well, I know that the United States has asked Americans in Saudi Arabia to leave the country if they possibly can.

We also understand that the militants asked the people inside the compound, they separated people out, Westerners in one area and all others elsewhere. Is that your understanding?

AL-JUBEIR: That's the understanding we have. What happened, we have to confirm that. But these are the reports that we are getting.

What, in the previous attacks, when Muslims and Arabs were killed, it had a major backlash. The thinking that by separating them, they will able to separate the Muslim world from the non-Muslim world. But that's not working because a large number of those who were killed were Arabs, were Muslims, and they're targeting innocent civilians. They're trying to play on that split of culture, split of civilization, but it's not going to work.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Al-Jubeir, your government is known to be a wealthy government, a government with many resources. And I think many people are going to look at this and say, why weren't you able or why aren't you able to protect people other people who are in your country with your own security forces?

AL-JUBEIR: It is very, very difficult to put an armored vehicle in front of every building and in front of every office building in front of every school. That's something we -- if we have the resources, we'll definitely do it, but that's something we don't have the resources for.

This this wasn't a car bomb. These were people armed who stormed, shooting their way in, randomly killing people, and that's very difficult to do. It is similar to a drive-by shooting in any major U.S. city. It's very difficult to protect against these criminals.

WOODRUFF: Except that this area, I am told, is most strategic, in terms of oil reserves in the world. This is one of Saudi Arabia's most important oil areas. I mean, how do we know there's not an attack on your oil fields coming next?

AL-JUBEIR: The oil fields are further up north. They're much more -- they're protected. These are residential areas and office buildings they walked into.

It is similar to say when if you go against the U.S. military installation and you were to kill U.S. military, whether it's the recruiting office in any city, is that similar to attacking a U.S. nuclear installation? There is no difference -- there is a big difference, but unfortunately, their intent is to cripple, it is to frighten, it is to murder people, it is try to cripple the Saudi economy and the world economy.

WOODRUFF: And that's my question. Doesn't this spell uncertainty and worse in the oil markets in the days to come?

AL-JUBEIR: I think there will be an attempt to increase oil production, to help reduce the price of oil, is going to have a little bump here in the next few days. Our speculators are waiting and seeing what's going to happen. But once they realize that the oil installations are safe and they are protected, we should see a downspell in the price of oil.

WOODRUFF: How do you know they're safe?

AL-JUBEIR: We are secure. We know they are safe. We have been protecting the oil installations for over 50 years. We have been the victims of attacks from extremists, whether they are religious extremists or secular extremists, from inside and outside of the country, since the beginning of the state. So we have protected all these installations.

They are very safe. We have -- I think we're very confident that they will not be able to get to the installations themselves. So what they do, is targets of opportunities, civilians that work there. And that's what they're going for.

WOODRUFF: Does this tell you your government needs more help, in terms of securing sites, not only the oil sites themselves, but sites where Westerners and Saudis are living?

AL-JUBEIR: We are working on that. The question that we have is, how do you protect against a lone gunman, a foreign gunman, moving into an area, wanting to die committing murder? That is very difficult to protect against.

You can protect against car bombs. You can put barriers up against car bombs. You can protect against people trying to come in. But it's difficult to guard individual buildings the way that you're absolutely sure nothing's going to happen.

WOODRUFF: And again, an oil question, effect on the meeting -- OPEC was expected to meet this week. Will there be an effect?

AL-JUBEIR: I do not believe there is going to be a change. They are expected to meet. They are expected to increase the production, and hopefully that will bring down the price below the 40 mark.

WOODRUFF: All right, we are talking with Nail Al-Jubeir. He is a spokesman for the Embassy of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia here in Washington. Mr. Al-Jubeir, thank you very much.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thank you.

And of course, we'll be bringing you any updates or developments on this story as it unfolds. Just moments ago, we were getting the information about three of the four militants had escaped.

Coming up, from a war that produced what is considered America's greatest generation to the divisive war in Iraq. World War II veteran and former presidential candidate Bob Dole reflects on the differences between then and now.

And is Osama bin Laden plotting another terror strike against the United States? I'll talk with two important members of Congress.

And later, battle ready? A conversation with Retired General Anthony Zinni about his scathing criticism of the war in Iraq.

"LATE EDITION" continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: "LATE EDITION"'s Web question of the week: Will U.S. forces now serving in Iraq be remembered as the next greatest generation? Cast your vote at cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results later in the program.

But up next, a conversation with World War II veteran and former U.S. Senator Bob Dole.

You're watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Here in the United States, it is Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor those who served and died in war. This year, veterans of World War II are getting a special salute in the form of a new monument on the Washington Mall.

But Memorial Day 2004 comes as many Americans appear to be rethinking their country's decision to go to war in Iraq. Just a short time ago, I spoke with World War II veteran and former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole about the new memorial to his generation, the growing anxieties about Iraq, and more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Senator Bob Dole, thank you very much for coming by...

BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: ... on this Memorial Day weekend.

We all watched yesterday at the Memorial, as the World War II Memorial was dedicated. It was an extraordinary day. What did you come away with?

DOLE: Well, I just came -- you know, I was on the dais, on the podium there, where you could just see -- but I could never see the end of the people. It was like a sea of people.

WOODRUFF: 140,000, I saw somewhere.

DOLE: Was that the estimate? Yes, and I don't know how many, the tens of thousands, and I could -- and you always pick out people -- at least I do -- in an audience. And there was a man on the front. About every 10 minutes, he'd go like this. He was tearing up about every 10 minutes. But it was people -- I met a family I knew from Kansas. They brought 15 people with them, just to honor their father.

So it was that kind of day, just a great day. The weather was wonderful. Somebody's looking out for us old guys. So...

WOODRUFF: This was a long time in the making. I read that it was 1987 when the idea first came forward. You've been very involved.

DOLE: Right.

WOODRUFF: Why did it take so long? And people keep asking, why so late? We already have a Vietnam Memorial...

DOLE: I know. WOODRUFF: ... we already have a Korea War memorial.

DOLE: Well, I really can't give you an honest answer. I think it was because we never thought about it. I mean, we came back, we went to school, went back to work, got married, and there are a lot of state memorials around.

But the story is, this fellow approached Marcy Kaptur at a picnic and he said, you know, why don't we have a World War II Memorial? So she...

WOODRUFF: She's a congresswoman from Ohio.

DOLE: Yes, she's from Ohio, a very nice lady. She came back and looked, and she said, we don't have one. So she -- the authorization wasn't hard to get, but then how do you get the money? Do you go to Congress? I remember Senator Bob Kerrey, my friend Bob Kerrey, said, "We don't want Bob Dole going around the country with a tin cup, you know. Why don't we just appropriate the money?"

Well, our view was, if we can't raise it, we shouldn't build it. And so the nice thing about this is that 92 or 93 percent of the funds are privately raised, not from the government.

WOODRUFF: You know, and yet, after all this work, you've got these architectural experts saying it's a disappointment, you have the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer writing...

DOLE: Yes, Charles.

WOODRUFF: He wrote on Friday. He was very tough. He said it's a failure.

DOLE: I know.

WOODRUFF: It's deeply inadequate. He said he felt sorry for the veterans.

DOLE: Well, I'm going to quote my good friend Maureen Dowd, who says she was one of those snobs who was against it at first, but she came down here and she met with the people. I think -- and Charles Krauthammer, he's a very inspirational guy, as you know, for anybody with a disability, and I think a lot of him, but I just don't agree with him.

I think if you go down there and get the reaction -- but it's really not for us. And this is going to be a living memorial. They're going to have concerts there. You probably could have weddings there. I don't know what the limits are on the Park Service.

But it's a reminder that, you know, as I said yesterday, some time in your life you may be called upon to make a sacrifice, and this was the big one. If you ever watched "Sanford and Sons," you know, this was the big one, the biggest thing in the 20th century. And there's families, children, grandchildren are going to live the next 50, 75 years. It's going to be a very busy, very popular memorial. WOODRUFF: You know, Bob Dole, for many Americans you are the embodiment of the sacrifice that this country made in World War II. What does it mean to you personally, to have this living memorial?

DOLE: You know, I thought about that. Maybe to me personally, I keep trying to think that people are going to go there and think -- and they can pray, they can laugh, they can talk, they can do anything, but they walk away with more respect for our country.

And we've had this chain of young people, men and women, way back before the Revolution, who are willing to give their life for their country or for their fellow man, and that's how sort of you feel.

Well, maybe it might help, maybe just a little bit. You know, you ask the average 18-year-old about World War II, they go, "What? What?" So maybe we can get that rekindled.

WOODRUFF: And I want to ask you about that, because we looked at the -- you know, we know that during World War II something like 406,000...

DOLE: Killed.

WOODRUFF: ... were killed.

DOLE: And many more than that seriously injured.

WOODRUFF: You know, today we're involved in a war. Eight hundred have been killed. Every life is precious...

DOLE: Every.

WOODRUFF: ... but the numbers are very, very different. People say, all right, we know what sacrifices we were asked to make during World War II, but today, other than the soldiers that are fighting...

DOLE: We don't make any.

WOODRUFF: ... what sacrifices are we making?

DOLE: Only the families and the soldiers and the men and women around the world, not just Iraq and Afghanistan.

But, you know, the one thing about World War II was that one out of 10 were in the military in uniform. One out of 10!

WOODRUFF: Right.

DOLE: And it may be even higher than that. Now, it's not that, and it's an all-volunteer army now. We had the draft then.

WOODRUFF: In fact, we were told it's a half of 1 percent of Americans are now in the military, compared to the 10 percent during World War II.

DOLE: And the big thing is, we were unified. And we got in late -- you know, in this war, in Iraq, we were first. In World War II, we were almost the last country in the world to get involved, because FDR had made a pledge not to send American boys to foreign soil.

But he made the right decision. He didn't have any other choice. Great Britain couldn't hold on without our help. And we might not have the won without American help, probably would not have won.

WOODRUFF: Should Americans today, with Afghanistan and Iraq, Iraq still under way, both of them still under way, should Americans be making more sacrifices?

DOLE: At least they ought to be visiting veteran hospitals. Memorial Day's coming up, and you've got D-Day coming up, and you've got July the 4th coming up, and you've got Veterans Day in November. Go visit a Veteran's hospital. I mean, little things. I mean, that's not a sacrifice. Some of these men sit there all day long without ever saying just "hello" to the people who are bringing their food and "goodbye." And maybe visit Walter Reed or Bethesda or write letters. These are just like -- they're kids, they're 18, 19, 20-year-old kids. And they, you know, it makes them feel good that somebody who cares.

I'm not sure -- I don't give up everything. You don't give up -- we just go about our work like, well, there's a little war going on...

WOODRUFF: Well, should the president be asking the Americans to make a sacrifice?

DOLE: I think it would help. But I don't -- but what do you tell them to do? I mean, that's...

WOODRUFF: Well, to visit the hospitals.

DOLE: Yes, that would be great. Yes, but that's my idea.

(LAUGHTER)

No, no. I mean, I think that would help. I mean, it'd be just -- and people would to it. I know the Senate wives are going to start going to Walter Reed Hospital to meet with the guys coming back and the men and women who have been wounded. So little things like that.

Maybe in the big scheme, it doesn't make and difference, but personally, when you say to somebody, "Thank you for your service," five magic words, you make their whole day.

WOODRUFF: Maybe some people who are watching today will hear this and act on it.

DOLE: Well, I hope so.

WOODRUFF: Bob Dole, it increasingly clear, no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The idea that the population there was going to greet Americans with open arms, that has not happened, for the most part.

Was it not just a mistake, but did the United States rush to war without having thought...

DOLE: I think that will be the one-point debate. It may not be weapons of mass destruction, it may not be liberators or -- it may be, should we have had more -- taken more time?

I don't mean for inspection. We had all these U.N. resolutions, and we had them all violated and ignored by Saddam Hussein. But I'm talking about at the executive, congressional level, more discussion.

In World War II, FDR could call the leaders down to the White House, Democratic, Republican, and he could tell them anything and it was safe. Now you tell somebody something, they're out on the tarmac repeating it to Judy Woodruff or somebody in the news. Now, maybe that's OK. But I don't recall every quoting what a president told me in private. And I think now we're sort of getting away from that.

But, yes, I think, I see a little glimmer of hope. When I see what happened yesterday in Saudi Arabia, it underscores what President Bush has said: This is a global war on terrorism. Americans were affected. I don't know how many. I haven't heard the latest news, and who knows what will happen, the Olympics. Who knows? We were worried about yesterday, the dedication.

WOODRUFF: But you still have Americans again, another poll, not only was it a mistake -- well, Americans are asked, do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war? Fifty-four percent now looking at what's going on and saying they disapprove.

DOLE: It'll just take one thing, one bit of good news. We're starting to have a little good news; if you get some good news, that'll change.

The American people, no question about it, they support the troops. You know, that's not politics. Everybody supports our troops -- Democrats. Just takes that off of the table. John Kerry's got a good war record. President Bush served. Take that off of the table. And, you know, it's too bad we had this thing going on in the election year.

But if things improve, those numbers will change.

WOODRUFF: But you had today 100 -- we just reported this -- 100 Iraqi policemen just disappeared in Najaf. You know, the ally, the coalition seems to be trying so hard to train and motivate the Iraqis themselves...

DOLE: They're scared. They're killing Iraqis. I mean, these people are intimidated. Look at what happened in the Spain, in the Spanish election.

And I just keep my fingers crossed, very honestly, about what's going to happen between now and November. Certainly, they're going to try to do something, maybe they forgot who it helps. Does it help Bush or Kerry if we kill Americans? I don't know.

WOODRUFF: But given what is going on on the ground, do you think the president's stated goal of a free and democratic Iraq is a realistic and achievable goal now?

DOLE: In a year, no. Two years, no. Five years? Maybe. Ten years? OK. But we're still working on ours after 200 years. We're not there. We still have segregation in places. We still don't have enough food, enough health care for some people. But it's not going to be an American democracy.

But if you have -- if you elect your leaders in free elections, that's a big step forward.

WOODRUFF: And are you saying U.S. troops?

DOLE: Yes, right.

WOODRUFF: I'm asking, do U.S. troops have to stay there that long, until it...

DOLE: Well, I'll give you a good example. When I stood up on the floor and supported President Clinton in 1995 to send troops to Bosnia, they said one year. They're still in Bosnia. There are 1,300, 1,500 American troops. It's cost us $29 billion. Nobody ever says anything about it.

No, we're going to be there a long time.

WOODRUFF: And when Americans were -- this is our Quinnipiac University poll -- Americans were asked, is it likely five years from now Iraq will have a democratic government or some dictatorship, 50 percent a dictatorship, 36 percent a democracy.

(CROSSTALK)

DOLE: Yes, I don't think we're going to have to wait five years to find out about that question. I think that question will be resolved in the first six months.

And I do think -- Iraqis, you know, they've been intimidated...

WOODRUFF: But do you agree with that pessimistic assessment, that...

DOLE: I think it is pessimistic. I'm a little more optimistic. Taking Bush out of it and Kerry out of it and politics, I think the Iraqi people, once they get a little taste of liberty, freedom, free elections, voting for somebody -- but they have all these religious differences too.

I think they've got a good -- at least a pretty good choice for prime minister, and that may help.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you, Bob Dole, about the retired General Anthony Zinni. He's a registered Republican.

DOLE: Right.

WOODRUFF: Is out there being critical of this war, saying it was a failure, saying people should be held accountable.

There's now a retired Marine general, in The Washington Post this morning, writing a column, saying the vice president, Secretary Rumsfeld and others at the Pentagon need to leave the administration, that they are responsible for the failures of this war.

DOLE: Well, I think they need to be held accountable. I don't think you need to leave.

But obviously, you know, whether it's the prison scandal, whatever it was, you don't stop with the corporals and the sergeants and the first lieutenants or whatever, you go up the chain. You know, you can always go down the chain and scapegoat somebody, but if there's somebody at the top involved, they ought to go, no matter...

WOODRUFF: But if it was Vice President Cheney, who was arguing this war was going to be a success, should he be held accountable?

DOLE: Well, I don't think we know that yet. I think it will be a success. That's where I -- you know, it's not easy.

I mean, I look at World War II, the D-Day landing, when people were all over in the wrong places and were killing each other with friendly fire, you talk about mistakes being made, on a massive scale.

And here mistakes are being made. I mean, war is hell, as -- you probably remember who said it, but it's not a pretty thing. You can't plan it. You can't -- somebody can change it very quickly.

We're dealing with an enemy that can play hide and seek, the al Qaeda. They don't have an army. They don't have trenches. They don't -- we don't know where they are. It's a different kind of war.

WOODRUFF: And one other thing. The last three presidential elections, we considered this, the candidate who was the active-duty veteran -- you know this very well -- was defeated. George Bush...

DOLE: Yes, I should have won in a landslide.

WOODRUFF: ... in '92, you in '96, Al Gore in 2000.

What does that say about...

DOLE: It says you don't win on your war record. I mean, I think people -- I think they respect the fact that you're a veteran, but not everybody could be a veteran. I think sometimes you can overplay your hand. I always worried about that in '96, particularly if it's not visible that you have a disability or something.

But when you look out in a big crowd of people, there are a lot of people that are teachers and there are farmers and there are others, you know, they made their effort, they just weren't in uniform. So you've got to be a little careful of overplaying what I did in World War II.

WOODRUFF: You think maybe that's what John Kerry has done in this campaign?

DOLE: I think John needs to watch it. I mean, I think it's fine. I've had a lot of titles, but the one I'm most proud of is veteran. But I can't wear it on my sleeve, and it's a very fine line.

But who's going to quarrel with John Kerry's war record? You know, I think it's up to this guy, who's a veteran, he's got a record that speaks for itself. And I'd just tell him to, you know, talk about something else.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about something else that's going on here. You know this town very well. You know the way the Congress works.

DOLE: Or doesn't work, yes.

WOODRUFF: Or doesn't work, at times. And right now there is a dispute going on among Republicans over spending and the deficit.

DOLE: Yes, we're spending too much.

WOODRUFF: You've got four holdout Republicans in the Senate saying they're not going to vote for the budget, because they think the deficit is just off the charts. It's going to be something like $420 billion, 450 billion by the end of this fiscal year.

Who's right in this argument?

DOLE: Well, you know, the one criticism I made of the war memorial is we spent too much money, even though it was private money, $175 million. It started off at $70 million.

But I think the ones who want to restrain spending are right. I mean, I'm not going to -- I don't know all the details. I haven't talked to the real Senator Dole, who has a vote. I don't have a vote; Elizabeth does. But that's been the one weakness that I've seen over the past three and a half years.

You know, Reagan always said, you've got to cut taxes, and then you cut spending. Well, it didn't happen in every case. And he said, well, it doesn't make any difference, because you generate all this new revenue. That was the Laffer Curve and all those theories.

I'm one those people like Senator Pete Domenici. We were always what they call deficit hawks, and we were sort of made fun of by some of the party.

But you've got to watch the spending side. And when you start watching the spending side, you're going to pinch somebody. Some group out there is not going to like it. And then it's politics again.

WOODRUFF: So you're on the side of those four who are...

DOLE: I don't know who the four are, what the real issue...

WOODRUFF: And your wife, by the way, voted on the other side.

DOLE: Yes, well, I'll probably be in trouble when I get home.

(LAUGHTER)

But no, I think generally, I'm just speaking generally, pork is bipartisan, and there's a lot of that spending going on. But, again, we've got to watch it. I mean, we've got to watch it.

I mean, you know, people pay taxes, and they want us to spend their money wisely. And we can't -- the government can't do everything for everybody.

But I don't see John Kerry worry about spending. He would probably spend more. So I think when it gets down to which party is better on that area, obviously Republicans win.

WOODRUFF: All right, coming in with the Republican finale there.

DOLE: That's right, finally one...

WOODRUFF: Former Senator Bob Dole, very much part of this Memorial Day weekend and dedicating the World War II Memorial. Very good to see you.

DOLE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

DOLE: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And coming up next, we'll get a check of what is making news this hour, including an update on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's effort to push through his Gaza withdrawal plan.

Then, America on alert: Two members of Congress weigh in on the possibility of another terrorist attack.

You're watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: You are looking at a live picture of a Memorial Day tradition here in Washington, Rolling Thunder. Every year, thousands of mainly Vietnam War veterans ride through the city on motorcycles, as part of a campaign to highlight the issue of prisoners of war and U.S. troops missing in action.

The United States marks Memorial Day weekend amid new warnings of a possible terrorist attack this summer. Joining us from Los Angeles, California Republican Congressman David Dreier. He is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. And here in Washington, California Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman. She, too, is a member of the Homeland Security Committee, as well as ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

Congresswoman Harman, to you first. Before I talk about the terror threat here in the United States, what about what has just happened in Saudi Arabia over the last day and a half? You have an al Qaeda group taking over a compound; 22 people dead. What does this say to you about what's going on?

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, for anyone who thinks that the al Qaeda threat has diminished, witness Saudi Arabia yesterday. And wanton killing, not just of Americans but of Westerners general. A little boy was shot. A school bus was shot up. A Westerner was dragged through the streets.

And I predict we're going to so more of this from around the world, and we may well see it in the United States in the near term. It's a very serious time.

I just want to say one more thing, Judy, because it is Memorial Day weekend, and I was at the World War II Memorial yesterday. Our soldiers are on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq right now, and our thoughts need to be with them on this Memorial Day, and our support needs to be with them too.

WOODRUFF: No question about it.

Congressman Dreier, and about Saudi Arabia, should the Saudi government -- should we expect them, as Americans, to be doing more to protect the United States citizens and other citizens in their country?

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, absolutely. We know that the Saudis had been victimized by terrorist attacks, and this is another terrible example.

Bob Dole and Jane Harman have both put it absolutely right here, Judy, and that is, we are in the midst of a global war on terrorism. This is a threat we have faced here in the United States on September 11th of 2001.

Thank God, through the efforts that we have in a bipartisan way, working with Jane and the president and others, we have been able to keep these attack off our soil. But as Bob said just a few minutes ago in your interview, the threat of an attack here is one that is looming.

I'm reminded of the cover of the Economist magazine that came out the week after the March 11th attack that took place in Madrid, when it showed on the cover the playing cards. And it had Jose Marie Aznar with a red X through the playing card with him. And then it had playing cards with President Bush, Prime Minister Howard and Prime Minister Blair. And the caption was, "One down, three to go."

And so it is true, there will be an attempt to try and disrupt this election in the United States. I mean, we've seen indications of that. WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask Congresswoman Harman about that. Do you think that they are, the al Qaeda are going to try to disrupt this election in order to get President Bush out of office?

HARMAN: Well, I think our working assumption has to be that they are going to try attacks, that they are plotting attack now against us. The election cycle is an obvious thing for them to focus on, but they may try to attack before the hand-off in Iraq. That would seriously keep our eye off of that ball.

My problem is that we're not as ready as we need to be here. Our homeland security effort is still on its start-up phase. It's not just about money. It's about the absence of an adequate strategy, an integrated national strategy for homeland security.

And it's almost three years after 9/11, and we have been distracted in Iraq. Poor post-war planning has kept us bogged down there. I thought the cause was right, but the execution after the war has been poor.

And now it's important for the president, every single time he speaks, to start out with what we're doing to keep our homeland -- our hometowns safe.

WOODRUFF: And what about that, Congressman Dreier...

DREIER: Well, Judy, I think...

WOODRUFF: This week you've got the seven terrorists whose pictures are in front of every newspaper and on every television screen in America. Attorney General Ashcroft telling Americans to be on alert. What should Americans be on the alert for?

DREIER: Well, let me first say that Abu Hamza was arrested on Thursday in London. And, as I said just a moment ago, we've spent huge amount of money, and we have successfully since September 11th, 2001, kept terrorist attacks from U.S. soil.

I think it's important for us to note that Iraq is part and parcel of the global war on terrorism. We're continuing to see al Qaeda presence in Iraq. And I do believe that as we look toward...

WOODRUFF: But my question is about the United States...

DREIER: Well, but I'm just basically responding to Jane's point here. I believe that, frankly, really the proof is in the pudding. We have, in fact, been successful at putting together a strategy in ensuring that we don't have terrorist attacks right here in our homeland.

More needs to be done. I will acknowledge that more needs to be done.

So what is it, Judy, that Americans need to be do? They need to continue to be very vigilant. I mean, obviously, we're looking at Memorial Day events here, tomorrow in Los Angeles that I'll be participating in.

Everyone, whenever they're in any kind of public fora, obviously is concerned. And we've got events coming up, with the G-8 summit coming up, the meeting that will take place in Europe, the anniversary of Normandy and all.

WOODRUFF: Congresswoman Harman.

HARMAN: Well, Iraq wasn't part of the global war on terror, in terms of an al Qaeda presence, before our military action there.

DREIER: Well, there are conflicted reports on that.

HARMAN: The world has become more dangerous. So let's make that clear. And we did take our eye off of the ball, in terms of homeland security efforts in the last two years as we have had this difficult task in Iraq.

What Americans, I think, should expect is a more coordinated campaign from their government. The government tripped over itself this week, with respect to a homeland security warning.

It's not just about the messenger, it's about the message. Our citizens need to be better prepared. I remember the civil defense drills in the '50s. I can't even get a modest $10 million program funded for California, New York and Washington, those areas of the country that I think that will be the focus of the next attack to train schoolkids on what to do.

WOODRUFF: And in fact...

DREIER: Well, the fact of the matter is...

WOODRUFF: ... the White House was reprimanding the attorney general for getting out front on this story. Tom Ridge, the homeland security secretary, not part of that announcement. It was confusing, was it not?

DREIER: Well, I don't think there's anything confusing about the fact that we are en masse working on trying to tackle this global war on terror.

I don't happen to believe that Iraq was a distraction. I do clearly believe that Iraq was part and parcel of this challenge.

And the thing that's very troubling -- and you were talking about this issue of the campaign itself -- is the real politicization. I think Democrats and Republicans agree, I suspect Jane will agree with me, that the speech that Al Gore made this week was really beyond the pale. It went over the edge, with the kind of extreme, strident language that it was using.

And one Democrat said to me that really we're seeing politics played with war here, and I think it is unfortunate. I think we are in this thing together, and we're trying to coordinate. This is uncharted waters for us. I mean, we've never faced this -- the United States of America -- the kind of challenge that we have since September of 2001. And frankly, again, we are doing well in having kept it off of our soil.

WOODRUFF: All right. I hear you.

We are going to take a quick break. And we're going to continue with our discussion with terror threats here in the United States and more on the war in Iraq.

Meantime, don't forget the Web question of the week: Will U.S. forces now serving in Iraq be remembered as the next greatest generation? Vote now at cnn.com/lateedition.

And next, we will continue our discussion with Congressman David Dreier and Congresswoman Jane Harman.

More "LATE EDITION" straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: On this day, in their honor, we will raise the American flag over a monument that will stand as long as America itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: President Bush speaking at the dedication of the World War II Memorial here in Washington. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

We're talking with Republican Congressman David Dreier of California and Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, also of California.

Congresswoman Harman, what about the point David Dreier was make before the point, that the war on terror really is, at its heart, it's in Iraq?

HARMAN: I just don't buy that. President Bush told us that we were fighting terrorists abroad so they wouldn't come here. They are here.

Iraq was not the fly paper for the war on terror before our military action. Our failure to plan adequately for the post-war period made it into fly paper. Our failure to predict the insurgency has caused untold problems: suffering, loss of life, loss of resources. So I don't buy that.

But I do buy another point David made, which is that we're in this together. The terrorists are not going to check our party registration before they blow us up in America, and we need to solve this problem together in America, starting with acknowledging the fact that mistakes have been made. I'm still waiting for President Bush, George Tenet and others to say, "Mistakes have been made on our watch. This is how we're going to correct them. And among other things, we're going to restructure our intelligence agencies into one community so that we can check our sourcing, check our analysis and make sure it's accurate."

DREIER: Judy, we will...

WOODRUFF: Why won't that be done, Congressman Dreier?

DREIER: I mean, I will tell you that we are clearly in this together, in this global war on terror, and I will tell you that there has in fact been planning.

I'm thinking about tomorrow night on A&E, there's going to be this great movie that Tom Selleck is in, that Lionel Chetwin (ph) did, on Eisenhower and the Second World War. And they were talking about fact that there were many, many challenges that were faced at that time.

And this talk about details of post-war planning and an exit strategy -- we are in the midst of a global war on terror. Iraq is part and parcel of it. And June 30th is a very important date.

The president very clearly stated his five points last Monday night, all the way from the handover to elections, through security, building international support, the infrastructure construction that needs to take place in Iraq.

What we need to realize right now is that we are very, very fortunate that Dr. Allawi is going to become the prime minister. Now, this is not a CIA-installed person. This is something that's really being done at the behest of Lakhdar Brahimi, who is the U.N....

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about that, because there was confusion over the last few days about whether it was going to be Dr. Allawi. And what we heard it originally from the Iraqi Governing Council and at first Mr. Brahimi at the U.N. and the the Bush administration said, we don't think so, and now it is. And now we understand there is in-fighting over who the president is going to be.

Who is in charge?

DREIER: Judy, I will tell you what has happened. There is an Iraqi interim government, the IIG, which is going to be put into place. And, you know, this is really a founding. This is a new experience that is taking place there.

And Iyad Allawi is a very courageous individual. I mean, Saddam Hussein, a quarter of a century, unleashed his secret police, the Mucrad (ph), against this guy. And he has the support of Shiite clerics. He is someone who I believe is going to be very, very strong in putting together...

WOODRUFF: I'm going to turn this back to Congresswoman...

DRIER: ... with those 26 ministers.

WOODRUFF: I want to turn it back to Congresswoman Harman with the question, the president says full sovereignty for the Iraqis. What does that mean?

HARMAN: Well, first of all, this is not about what we think, this is about whether the Iraqis will accept whatever this interim government.

Full sovereignty has to be the deal. Partial sovereignty would not persuade the Iraqis, I don't believe, that they have a responsibility now for their future.

The key question, Judy, at least as I see it, with regard to sovereignty, is, who makes decisions about U.S. troops? Are they under U.S. command solely? Can we move them around? Or can the Iraqi government or this new interim council tell them to leave or tell them what to do? I don't think the Americans, I don't think this administration will accept an Iraqi...

WOODRUFF: Do you have an answer on that, on who it's going to be?

HARMAN: Well, I think, the answer that the president gives is, the United States will make those decisions, in which case our troops will be separate from the government of Iraq, and that may, to some, mean partial sovereignty.

DREIER: Judy, it is very obvious that we...

WOODRUFF: So is that still full sovereignty?

DREIER: It's very obvious, Judy, that we are working in concert with the IIG in Iraq now. And it is very important for us to realize that there are going to be an excess of a thousand Iraqi involved in the consultation process with the IIG as they proceed with their work, come June.

So the question that Jane has just posed, are the Iraqis going to, in fact, be involved in this? The answer is an overwhelming yes, all the way across the spectrum. That is the structure that's been put in place.

And it is something, you know, there is a plan, contrary to what so many people have tried to put forth. It's a challenge, it's difficult, not easy at all, but there is a plan.

WOODRUFF: Very quick last question to both of you, just a one- word answer. How long are U.S. troops going to remain in Iraq, Jane Harman?

HARMAN: It's unknown, but let's not forget the U.N. The U.N. has a role here too, which we...

DREIER: Absolutely, and that's something the president...

WOODRUFF: David Dreier, how long?

DREIER: ... has acknowledged. It's going to be years to come.

Jane and I will agree on one thing, and that is, tomorrow night, we're looking forward to a Laker victory here in Los Angeles.

HARMAN: You bet.

WOODRUFF: All right. That we can get you two to agree on.

DREIER: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Congressman David Dreier, Congresswoman Jane Harman, thank you both. It's very good to see you.

DREIER: Always good to be with you.

WOODRUFF: Still ahead, does the United States have an exit strategy for Iraq? I'll talk with a critic of the Bush administration's decision to go to war, retired U.S. Marine General Anthony Zinni.

"LATE EDITION" will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Just ahead, we'll get a check of the hour's top stories and more with retired U.S. General Anthony Zinni.

Then, a badly injured lieutenant was rescued on the battlefields of Italy. Who does Bob Dole owe his life to? We'll talk to the man who pulled him to safety more than 50 years ago.

"LATE EDITION" continues at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." I'm Judy Woodruff, filling in for Wolf, who's away this week.

In a few minutes, I'll talk with retired General Zinni. We'll have a conversation about the U.S. mission in Iraq and more. But for right now, let's go to CNN headquarters in Atlanta for a check of the hour's top stories.

(NEWSBREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, now we want to turn to Iraq, where there was a deadly ambush today. Gunmen opened fire on a convoy of vehicles. CNN's Harris Whitbeck is in Baghdad. He joins us now live with the very latest -- Harris.

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. Information is just starting to trickle in on this incident. We do know that a three-car convoy, a convoy made up of SUVs, sports utility vehicles of the type generally used by Westerners, foreigners who are operating in Iraq, was attacked on a highway in Baghdad. We know that at least one person was killed. According to an Iraqi police officer that CNN spoke to, it is believed that the person that is confirmed dead was an Iraqi driver of one of those cars.

Shortly after the attack, a crowd gathered, started chanting. They also started to set fire to at least one of those vehicles. U.S. soldiers arrived on the scene. They were there for quite some time. Again, conflicting reports on exactly what happened and what happened to the other occupants of those three vehicles. Eyewitnesses are telling the Associated Press that some Westerners might have been taken away by the assailants, and police are telling us that a gunfight did ensue between Iraqi police and apparently some of the assailants. Again, details are sketchy at this hour, because this incident happened not too long ago and we will have more as we learn more -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Harris Whitbeck, thank you very much. Joining us with the very latest on that attack on a convoy. Thank you.

Well, joining us now here in Washington is a man who says the invasion of Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time, retired U.S. Marine Corps general and the former commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command, Anthony Zinni. He's also co-author of the new book, "Battle Ready."

General Zinni, good to see you.

GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI (RET.), FORMER CENTCOM COMMANDER: Good to see you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: How do you sum up how the war in Iraq is going right now?

ZINNI: Well, it's not going well. I think most of the expectations that we laid out, much of the promise that we put out for the Iraqi people, I think what we anticipated on the ground in terms of reception and the ease of which this might be done is all not panned out.

WOODRUFF: And who's to blame?

ZINNI: I feel it's the civilian leadership in the Pentagon. They were responsible for the planning. Our troops once again were magnificent. They did their part. Unfortunately, the military is stuck now, and we are looking for a way out of this. And I mean in a way to make sure that Iraq succeeds. That's key.

WOODRUFF: One of the -- I know that among other things, you say in the book, you said you saw in the leadup to the Iraq war and its later conduct, you saw "at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility; at worst lying, incompetence and corruption." That's very tough language.

ZINNI: Well, I was disappointed. I mean, first of all, I felt we went in with a strategy that was wrong. There were other priorities. I feared we would get distracted from the war on terrorism, the real war. We had the Middle East peace process. We had the situation with our relationships out there, with Iran and many other problems.

And this has pulled us off of that. We went in without a plan. We went in with a rosy estimate of what we would face and how we would be greeted. Didn't pan out. We went in with an organization responsible for the political and economic reconstruction that did not do well. We replaced the leadership there, Garner with Bremer, in the middle of the operation. And the decisions made on the ground, disbanding the army, de-Baathifying to a certain point. Too much trust in the exiles that obviously have not panned out.

WOODRUFF: Well, you original -- the point you made just a moment ago, that it distracted us from the war on terror, we just had Congressman David Dreier, who's a loyal Republican, saying Iraq is at the center, at the heart of the war on terror.

ZINNI: Saddam wouldn't -- didn't have al Qaeda in there like is in there now. Obviously, they would have wanted to eliminate him and create a theocracy in there. Certainly, I didn't object, as I said before the war, to military action against Saddam.

It was not the time. He was contained. He could wait. We didn't need our military bogged down here. We still have business in the hills of Pakistan, the hills of Afghanistan that are not being taken care of, and we have a relationship, a set of relationships in this region that have been broken badly. And as we saw in Saudi Arabia, we have problems out there that go to the core of who attacked us on 9/11. And this involvement in Iraq has drawn us of off, has actually given the terrorists another battlefield to engage us on.

WOODRUFF: You think it's made it worse. Let me quote to you, though, what General Richard Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs, had to say, or let you listen to what he had to say. He was asked about the criticism that you've made, among others. Here's what he had to say a few days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: They either weren't there or they don't know, or they're working another agenda. And I don't know what that agenda might be. It is not helpful to have those kind of comments come out when we've got troops in combat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: That comment from General Richard Myers.

ZINNI: Well, first of all, to tell me I wasn't there -- I was the commander in chief of U.S. Central Command for three years, a deputy for a year, and the component that led the Marine component for a number of years before that. I was the Middle East envoy. I would say I know a little bit about the region and a little bit about the situation in Iraq and still maintain contacts. You know, this idea that you have to be quiet and let things go. Our troops are in combat. They deserve the very best, the best equipment, the best organization, the best training. They deserve the best planning and leadership from the Pentagon. And if it isn't there, and you see that your country and your troops are involved in what we're seeing unfolding every day here, you have an obligation, I think, to speak out.

I have no agenda. I -- my political party is the Republican Party. I was one of the veterans for Bush. This administration had me as part of it for a while.

WOODRUFF: You supported President Bush...

ZINNI: Very much so.

WOODRUFF: ... when he ran for election...

ZINNI: Yes, I did.

WOODRUFF: ... four years ago.

ZINNI: Let me -- you've also argued, though, General Zinni, that there should have been -- I don't -- let me not put words in your mouth. Three hundred thousand troops before this war? You were arguing for more troops than what went in, is that right?

I felt we should have gone in initially with more troops than we did.

WOODRUFF: All right, well, let me ask you to listen to something President Bush said last Monday night at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Here's what President Bush said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we'll maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Is President Bush wrong?

ZINNI: Well, I think what we have lost by not going in with sufficient troops right from the beginning is we lost the momentum. Those additional troops that we had in in the plan before this one that was executed were not there to defeat the Republican Guard or the Iraqi army. We knew that wouldn't be difficult. It was to freeze the security situation.

I've been in Somalia. I've been in Iraq right after the Gulf War. When you have chaos, when you have no authority, you have to go in and seize and protect the infrastructure, make sure there aren't revenge killings, lawlessness, the kind of chaotic environment you're going to find in a state that's been taken apart.

We felt those additional troops were necessary to freeze that situation so that we can then get in place the kinds of security measures and forces, created with the Iraqis, brought in by coalition partners, that could allow us then to move on to reconstructing the country.

We lost a lot of momentum because we weren't protecting the infrastructure.

Look now. The borders are porous. The road networks are -- there's been another convoy attack now on the road in Baghdad. If you line up to go into the green zone, you're at risk. I mean, my God, that's where we are headquartered.

I don't see that we have sufficient troops for the protection of the environment and the infrastructure out there.

WOODRUFF: What do you say, General Zinni, though, to those who say, look, we may have made mistakes, as Americans may have made mistakes, but we're there, our troops are at risk, it's not helpful to have this kind of second-guessing right now.

ZINNI: Well, I agree with the fact that we can go back and hash out what went wrong. Somebody ought to be held accountable, that's my point.

Looking forward is critically important now. We can't repeat the mistakes. If we don't look back at the mistakes, we're in danger of repeating them.

We have a dangerous month coming up here. We need a U.N. resolution. We need to ensure that Brahimi and Bremer create some sort of interim government, when we pass sovereignty on the 30th of June, that is acceptable to the Iraqi people. Their job is going to be to see this through to January and elections.

My God, that is a short period of time. Educate the electorate, build political parties, understand the people of Iraq -- to understand the kind of government they're going to have, the kind of governmental structure. If we don't get this right in the next three or four or five weeks, we are in terrible shape.

In addition to that, we have to put Iraqi security forces on the street that are credible. I just understand in Najaf 100 police have just folded and went away. We've got a long road to go down here, and we can't afford to keep making mistakes.

Look, I'm the last one that wants to look back. Mistakes were made. I believe in accountability. But if we don't want to look back and we want to sweep that under the carpet, all well and good. Then look ahead and make sure we start making some good decisions with good people who know what they're talking about.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to be do a little more looking back and ahead with retired U.S. Marine General Anthony Zinni. We'll be back. We have to take a break. We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Just ahead, more of my conversation with retired U.S. Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni about Iraq and the war on terror.

And there's still time for you to weigh in on the Web question of the week. Will U.S. forces now serving in Iraq be remembered as the next greatest generation? Vote now at cnn.com/lateedition.

You are watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We're talking with retired U.S. Marine Corps general and the former commander of U.S. Central Command, Anthony Zinni.

General Zinni, I do want to look ahead with you. We were just talking about looking ahead. But looking back for a moment, you say people should be held accountable.

ZINNI: Right.

WOODRUFF: Who?

ZINNI: Well, I believe the civilian leadership in the Pentagon. Now, exactly who...

WOODRUFF: Secretary Rumsfeld?

ZINNI: Starting with the secretary. And that's the president's decision as to how that's handled.

But I think the American people need an answer as to what happened with the intelligence and the rationale, why wasn't the planning sufficient? Why wasn't the decision-making structure on the ground sufficient to make the right calls?

WOODRUFF: What about higher than the Pentagon? The president, the vice president?

ZINNI: The president laid out the objectives and what he wanted to do. He receives the intelligence, and he directs that a strategy and a plan be put together. I felt the president was ill-served in this. You know, he doesn't do the planning.

I actually object to those who said that the president on his speech the other night should have laid out specifics in the plan. That's not the role of the president. The president gives strategic guidance, sets the goals. It is up to those in the cabinet responsible to provide him with the plan. They should be talking about the specifics.

WOODRUFF: You supported him in the last election.

ZINNI: Yes, I did. WOODRUFF: Do you support him for reelection?

ZINNI: Well, I certainly -- can certainly support this president, but I will have difficulty supporting it if this Pentagon leadership is still in place. I couldn't.

WOODRUFF: In other words, if the same people are still there, you couldn't vote for George Bush again...

ZINNI: I -- I couldn't.

WOODRUFF: ... in November?

General Zinni, what about going forward? You've talked about -- you compared Iraq to Vietnam in some ways. John McCain, for one, has said it's not Vietnam. He's been very emphatic about that. He says in Vietnam, you had an outside power supporting the country. You don't have that in Iraq. He's also said you got more -- you got more people dying in Iraq -- in Iraq -- or rather in Vietnam in one week than you've had in a year in Iraq. There's no similarity, he said.

ZINNI: Well, first of all, what I'm clear to say is that there are many -- in many ways this is not similar to Vietnam. But in the ways it is similar is in the strategic lessons learned.

When you go into a situation like this, make sure the American people are clear on the rationale. We had the Golf of Tonkin incident, which we later found out was not exactly as presented. Here we have weapons of mass destruction and the case for association with terrorism.

In Vietnam, we went in piecemeal, we dribbled in, we didn't understand what we were getting into. We had a flawed strategy, the so-called domino theory. Here, we had this strategic belief that we were going to be received with open arms, we would change the Middle East, that the road to Jerusalem was through Baghdad.

We went into Vietnam without sufficient planning, without our operational objectives being sound. Body count, decisions on the ground to use individual rotation instead of unit rotation.

We've made some bad decisions on the ground here. We have people like Ambassador Bremer, who I have all the respect in the world for, he should be given a medal for what he's done for this country. But he was thrown in at the last minute. He made decisions like disbanding the army, de-Baathifying too deeply.

We've had an association with the exiles that has not worked to our interest. And now we can see the problems.

You know, you can draw similarities on these two, not only Vietnam but other places. Sure, the exact facts and geography and casualties are not the same.

But you know, when we're talking about foreign policy in a region of the world that we have to change and we have to bring into the 21th century, we ought to make sure the lessons of history are learned and we don't have to reapply them or relearn them.

WOODRUFF: You just mentioned the argument being on the part of the administration that the road to Jerusalem led through Baghdad. You believe just the opposite.

ZINNI: Just the opposite.

WOODRUFF: That you have to do something about the Middle East before you can fix Iraq, so to speak.

Well, right now, you see what's going on on the ground in the Middle East. You've got the Israeli prime minister trying to get his cabinet to -- and others to go along with the pullout from the Gaza Strip. What do you see right now there on the ground, and does it give you hope?

ZINNI: Well, I'm not sure what I see. I mean, obviously, on the surface, the pullout from Gaza, the removal of the settlements could be a good thing, a positive thing. It is not negotiated. It is not -- it is a final status issue that has not been mediated through. So it's a unilateral decision.

Will it work? What's left behind? Where did those settlers go? How does it fit in the bigger piece of what the final status issue looks like? Are we creating a fact on the ground, as opposed to negotiating toward that? And if we do, will it be fair and balanced in a way that it will be accepted by both sides?

So, the jury's still out on this. But the issue is that, whether it's right or not, in this part of the world, this is the most important issue. In this part of the world, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is the key to everything else. We may not like that. We may not agree with it. But it is a fact. Our commitment there to get this thing resolved would do more than any other single thing in helping us in all the other issues.

WOODRUFF: But is that commitment there right now, on the part of this administration?

ZINNI: You know, it needs to be stronger. I certainly believe that the president and secretary of state and others definitely want to get this thing resolved, but it needs to be stronger.

WOODRUFF: You were chosen as an envoy...

ZINNI: Yes, I was.

WOODRUFF: ... to that part of the world.

Very quickly, can peace be accomplished with the leaders in power right now, Mr. Arafat and his prime minister, Mr. Sharon?

ZINNI: I was disappointed in Arafat. He had every opportunity. We laid it out for him. He failed us and his own people, in my mind.

Now, whether Prime Minister Sharon can get there, I don't know. He at least agreed to begin the process when I was there.

WOODRUFF: All right. We are going to leave it there. Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, former commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command.

ZINNI: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much. It's good to see you. We appreciate your coming by.

ZINNI: Thank you, Judy. Appreciate it.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

And coming up, a check on what is making news at this hour.

And later, a veteran, a politician and a former presidential candidate. We'll talk to the man who saved his life.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: On this weekend of celebration and honor of and by America's war veterans, the faces of some of those still held prisoner in Iraq.

Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

Joining us now, three veterans from three different wars but with shared prisoner-of-war experiences: In Mobile, Alabama, retired U.S. Navy Admiral Jeremiah Denton. He is a former POW during the Vietnam War.

We have Admiral Denton -- we're having a little audio problem there. We're trying to get it worked out.

In Boston, Ned Handy, he is retired from the U.S. Air Force, and he is a former World War II POW. And here in Washington, Ron Young, Jr., U.S. Army, retired, and former POW in the war in Iraq. He also is a CNN contributor.

Welcome, gentlemen, all three of you.

Again, we're trying to get Admiral Denton with us as soon as we can.

Ned Handy, let me begin with you. This Memorial Day weekend, what does it mean to you?

NED HANDY, FORMER POW: Excuse me. Now, is the video on? I'm not seeing a video screen here.

WOODRUFF: We can -- you may not see anything...

HANDY: OK, so you're all set?

WOODRUFF: We can see and hear you. HANDY: OK, good.

WOODRUFF: Tell us what...

HANDY: I'm sorry. Give me your question again.

WOODRUFF: Tell me what this Memorial Day means to you.

HANDY: Well, this Memorial Day, perhaps even a little more than all the preceding ones, being right close to the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, and for me the 60th anniversary of the year that we were shot down and I lost two close comrades at arms who were on my crew, it's a time, as with every Memorial Day, for me to get away.

The parades are wonderful, you know, the barbecues are wonderful. But for me, I have to get away, maybe go into a church, and think about what happened and what I should be doing since I survived.

WOODRUFF: We hear you, Ned Handy.

And I think joining us now from Mobile, Alabama, retired Admiral Jeremiah Denton, who of course was a prisoner of war for seven years in Vietnam.

Admiral Denton, Memorial Day, a special meaning for you?

JEREMIAH DENTON, FORMER POW: Well, I think I share the same gratitude, that belatedly we are giving tribute, with many of them deceased, to the World War II veterans who indeed were samples of the so-called great generation.

I believe the veterans are -- all veterans are delighted at the way this wonderful event has been transpiring, but I think all veterans would also now regret the note introduced by General Zinni and CNN in placing this debate before the whole world with a disaffected, very critical general whom I can't believe the Marine Corps is very proud of. I don't know what happened when he retired. But I regret that sour note.

WOODRUFF: Well, we did just hear from General -- retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, and earlier in the hour we heard from former United States Senator Bob Dole. Both of them, of course, having very different views of this war in Iraq.

Let me bring in Ron Young right now, who of course was in the Army in Iraq, taken prisoner of war.

Ron, you were born not only after World War II, you may have even been born after Vietnam.

RONALD YOUNG, JR., FORMER POW: I was born in '77.

WOODRUFF: '77. Vietnam was behind us then.

Memorial Day to you, does it have the same meaning as it does for these other two?

YOUNG: It does. It's definitely a time to be able to think about your comrades in arms. You know, I've lost some close friends over there. And this is a deeply emotional weekend for all of us.

Yesterday being able to be at the World War II Memorial unveiling, I mean, I sat there and actually started weeping just because, I mean, it was such a moving event, and to see all these veterans that had gone through more or less kind of the same things we did. You know, being afraid, not knowing if you were ever coming back, and being shot at and thinking that, you know, any day you were going to die.

But to see all these guys being held up as heroes in their rightful place in our society, it was an unbelievable and touching event.

WOODRUFF: Ned Handy, you were taken prisoner. As you said, your plane was shot down in World War II in Italy. Tell us...

HANDY: In Germany.

WOODRUFF: In Germany. I misspoke. Tell us a little...

HANDY: We were a little southwest of -- I'm sorry?

WOODRUFF: Tell us a little about your experience.

HANDY: Well, we were flying out of England in the pre D-Day massive effort by United States 8th Air Force to prepare the way in all respects for the invasion of Normandy. And the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for the German Air Force was trying to take advantage of our flying so many heavy bombers over Germany, to shoot down as many as they could. It was sort of their last-ditch effort. And they got us on Tuesday, April 11th. As I said, a little southwest of Hanover they shot us down.

WOODRUFF: Your 13 months as a prisoner of war...

HANDY: Right. We were captured, most of us, immediately. It was spring. There were -- I'm sorry.

WOODRUFF: Just tell us in a few words about your experience as a prisoner of war.

HANDY: Well, as a prisoner of war in Stalag 17, the 4,300 of us there, of whom 1,200 were from this new group that got shot down in those three weeks that I'm speaking about, we were under the command of the Luftwaffe. And the Luftwaffe took rather more -- they had a higher opinion of us than did the German army, the Wehrmacht.

Now, in our camp, we had maybe 30 or so Wehrmacht guards who were under the command of the Luftwaffe. All the same, they took whatever opportunity they could to give us -- to harm us. I got badly beaten up, pistol-whipped, by a Wehrmacht guard. But my main activity there was a tunnel project. I got into a tunnel project about 20 minutes after I arrived, just by happenstance, and that was my life in Stalag 17.

WOODRUFF: And I'm sure there's much more to tell about that.

HANDY: Right. Judy, I just might mention that I have this book, "The Flame-Keepers," to be released on D-Day. It's a book about my experience in Stalag 17, and mostly about the tunnel project, of course. It's by myself and a friend, a long-time friend, Kemp Battle (ph). We started the book 30 years ago, but we finally finished it just now.

WOODRUFF: Well, congratulations on finishing it, and I know there's so much more to say about your experiences as a prisoner of war.

I also want to hear -- we also want to hear from Admiral Denton and of course from Ron Young. We're going to talk to them, continue our conversation in just a moment, with our guests.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our conversation on this Memorial Day weekend with three former prisoners of war: one from World War II, one from Vietnam, and one from the war in Iraq.

I want to turn to our Vietnam prisoner of war. He is retired Admiral Jeremiah Fenton, joining us from Mobile, Alabama.

Admiral Denton, seven years and seven months, people can't even imagine what it is like to survive as a prisoner for that long. Can you give us any sense of how you managed to hang in there?

DENTON: Well, I fall under the category of, there are no atheists in foxholes, and I was in that category, and I believe I have to give a lot of credit to God, because I, before this experience began, could not have performed the way I did, nor could most of the other prisoners, if they didn't have some help from the Lord himself.

I think there is a similarity between Vietnam -- I agree with Senator McCain that there are many dissimilarities, including the fact that the stakes involved here involve not only the Mideast but its oil, and we can't do without that oil. In Vietnam we could do without it, but we can't this time. So it's very important that we win this.

WOODRUFF: You're referring to Iraq. I do want to ask you, though, about when you went on television -- the North Vietnamese put you on television in 1966 for an interview, and with your eyes you blinked in code the word "torture." How did you know to do that?

DENTON: Well, I think it was, again, rather an inspiration from above, but the important part of the interview -- and the reason I got the Navy Cross for that-- is that they tortured me to say one thing before the television cameras, and I managed to find the guts to say the opposite of what they wanted me to say. There were many other interviews which didn't turn out as well, with some other people.

But in general, all the POWs performed in Vietnam with almost unbelievable loyalty and endurance, and they hated to get letters from home telling them that the cause may go down the drain because of what the media and academe were saying against the war.

The same thing is happening in Iraq. I'm getting hundreds of letters from soldiers saying, how can they say that, it's nothing like they're picturing what's going on, they're only portraying the little bad things that happen. Bad things happen in wars all the time. But we've done amazingly well.

And if it's looked at objectively, they have. It's almost miraculous, what the military have been able to do in so little time, and so much good already having been done for the Iraqis.

WOODRUFF: I do want to ask you all about Iraq today, but before I do, I want to get to Ron Young. I mean, many of us saw the news coverage of your release, or when you were recaptured, I should say, and made free by American troops in Iraq.

During your -- how long was it in captivity?

YOUNG: Twenty (ph) days.

WOODRUFF: More than 20 days. How bad was it?

YOUNG: In the very beginning, it was extremely bad. I mean, the Iraqis actually took us and they beat us on the side of a riverbank when they took us in, and then they drug us through the streets, while Iraqis would come out and spit on us and things like that.

And they took us to the guards, where they started our interrogations, and of course we have a lot of information as pilots that they want to get from us, and they were bound and determined that they were going to get it. You know, luckily they weren't as smart as they thought they were, and we were able to go around a lot of the things they were asking us.

But after we were put in the prison, about five days later, we became treated much better.

WOODRUFF: Ron Young, just quickly, what do you think of the coverage right now of the war in Iraq and how it's going? What -- and what, 130,000-some-odd U.S. troops are going through over there right now?

YOUNG: Yes, ma'am. I really believe that some of the coverage is a little disoriented as far as -- I think that -- you know, I owe my life to an Iraqi guy who was very sympathetic to our needs. And there are a lot of Iraqis that are very happy that we're over there. And they watch CNN, and they understand the reasons that we invaded their country, and that we want to liberate them and give them this huge gift of freedom.

Also, you have to report accurately what's going on. You know, I understand that side of it. But there are some really amazing things going on, as far as children being able to go to school, electricity to a lot more people than have ever had it. And it's just a truly amazing thing, what we're doing.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly to you, Ned Handy, as you look at the war under way right now in Iraq, is that something that you are comfortable supporting?

HANDY: Well, I think the jury is out on a number of issues in the mix, but overall of course I support our troops. That's the important thing. Every one of those brave men and women over there. They're there, I support them, I pray for them. I wish them success and a safe return.

WOODRUFF: And, Admiral Denton, you have made it clear you have a problem with anyone who would criticize the war in Iraq. But what about the point that General Zinni made, that Americans and anyone in a situation like this needs to learn from mistakes that are made?

DENTON: I didn't say anyone who criticizes the war shouldn't. But I believe for a former unified commander to be used as -- on a pulpit to challenge the authorities who have made decisions which are not provably bad by him is a disgraceful thing.

We should give credit and attention to those who are voted into power, appointed into power to do the things they're doing and allow them to do the best job they can do. The troops are tired of hearing they support us. They say they want to hear that they support our cause, for which we're prepared to die.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Jeremiah Denton, prisoner of war in Vietnam. Ned Handy, a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. And Ron Young, a prisoner of war in Iraq during the war that goes on to this day.

All three of you, we're very proud of you, and we thank you so much for joining us.

Just ahead, the results of our Web question on whether U.S. forces now serving in Iraq will be remembered as the next greatest generation.

And the man who saved Bob Dole's life in battle -- we'll talk to Bob Dole and Frank Carafa about the day they'll never forget.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us once again, former Second Lieutenant Bob Dole and Sergeant Frank Carafa, who -- the two of you served together in Italy. Senator Dole, this man was very important in your life.

DOLE: Oh, no doubt about it. He and a guy named Ollie Mannon (ph), on the day I was wounded, April 14, 1945. I went out to get my radio man, Ed Simms, and get him back. He died later. But getting back to safety, I got hit.

And these guys looked after me, and I'm not sure what they did because, you know, I was sort of semi-conscious. But he's just a great guy, and he's -- we've been communicating all these years, the last 60 years.

WOODRUFF: So this was in Italy in -- where in Italy?

SGT. FRANK CARAFA (RET.): Yes. April 14th...

DOLE: Up in the northern part.

CARAFA: Northern part of Italy, up the in mountains.

WOODRUFF: What happened?

CARAFA: Well, Lieutenant Dole took out a patrol. There was an enemy with machine gun emplacements (ph) in his house. And the company commander said, being our platoon was in reserves, told us to take a squad of men out and see if we can get rid of those machine guns.

I had more experience than Lieutenant Dole did, so the company commander said for me to take the patrol out. But being the soldier that he is and was, he thought it was his job to take the squad out, and he did. And all hell broke out.

He was not hit just by ordinary small-arms fire. When I got to him, and he was about approximately 60, 50, 60 yards away, I didn't have no intentions of going after him. About 10 yards from where I was, I seen one of his men squirming. And I don't know what came over me, but I think it was an act of God that I went out and I dragged him back.

DOLE: That's dragged me back.

WOODRUFF: Lieutenant Dole...

CARAFA: No, that was before.

DOLE: Oh, before me.

WOODRUFF: Right.

CARAFA: Before him. There was four more -- three other men that I dragged back. And the lieutenant was the leader of the platoon. He was way up front. He was the last man I got.

When I got to him, he was sprawled out, and his arms were spread out. When I pulled his arm, I thought I moved him a foot. His body didn't move. He was open from his chest right down to his groin. I started crying because I thought I moved him and he didn't move at all. I was 140 pounds at that time, and he was a six-footer.

WOODRUFF: So he was grievously wounded.

DOLE: I was 190.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: And you pulled him...

CARAFA: No, I didn't pull him.

WOODRUFF: ... and he was grievously wounded. And then what happened?

DOLE: That's when you put the big M on my forehead.

CARAFA: No, that was later.

DOLE: Was that later? OK.

CARAFA: So I rolled him. I think, maybe I damaged -- did more damage to him than I realize. But I finally got him back. And there was a Sergeant Kuschek.

DOLE: That's Stan Kuschek.

CARAFA: I said Stan, I says, do you have any morphine? Because that's all we could have done for him. We gave him up, to tell you the truth. He says yeah, I've got some. I says give him a shot of morphine, put an M on his head, an M on his forehead.

WOODRUFF: Meaning?

CARAFA: Meaning...

DOLE: They don't want to overdose you with morphine. So they took my blood and put an M on my forehead, so anybody that came along they know I had a shot.

CARAFA: Right. So they know he had a shot of morphine. And I told Sergeant Kuschek to make sure they get him down to medics right away, because I thought he was gone, you know.

DOLE: I was -- I mean, I didn't...

WOODRUFF: Were you conscious?

DOLE: It was one of those near-death experiences. I thought of my little dog and my girlfriend and my parents. You know, you kind of race through your mind. And I don't remember what happens throughout this.

CARAFA: Yes. What happened is when I grabbed his arm -- I mean, I was scared, and I didn't want to -- as long as I could possibly reach him, I grabbed his arm, and when I grabbed his arm, he gave out a shriek.

DOLE: It hurt. I guess.

CARAFA: I imagine so. And he passed out. I was happy that he did pass out.

WOODRUFF: But if you hadn't come along, what would have happened? I mean if you hadn't...

CARAFA: Well, I don't know. I mean, I feel it was an act of God. You know, you hear people say the wrong place at the wrong time...

WOODRUFF: You were in the right place.

DOLE: I'm glad he was there. That's the point.

CARAFA: I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

DOLE: A friend in need. And when you're sort of semi-conscious anyway, you don't know where -- and I couldn't move my arms or legs, and I thought they were gone. I thought my arms were gone. And I think it was Frank or Stan lifted my arms and put them back on my chest, then I knew my arms were okay. But that was a long time ago. And...

WOODRUFF: This man is very special to you.

DOLE: Oh, he's a great guy, yeah. Good man.

CARAFA: Well, I'll tell you the truth. I had this platoon for 16 months myself. I was acting platoon leader. And when he came over, I didn't like him because he was taking over my men. And I've trained these men...

WOODRUFF: Now we get to the good stuff.

CARAFA: ... in Colorado. But the very first day he took over I gave him all the equipment that the lieutenant should have. And he says to me, you run the platoon as is, and I'll just come in.

DOLE: I'm just hanging around.

WOODRUFF: Right.

CARAFA: And when I heard that, I said thank God they sent me a man like this. Really. Because mostly you get these 90 days wonders.

DOLE: Well, I was a 90-day wonder, Fort Benning, the last 360. Right.

WOODRUFF: This is it. But he was fantastic. And the fellows were crazy about him. Because he was a regular joe. You know?

WOODRUFF: Well, it's an incredible story. DOLE: It's a great story.

WOODRUFF: It's a great story. And a lot more people than he is are grateful you did what you did.

DOLE: Thank you, Frank. Thanks for your service.

WOODRUFF: Frank Carafa.

DOLE: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, both.

Bob Dole and Frank Carafa, the man who literally pulled him to safety, saved his life, pulled him off the battlefield during World War II.

And now time for our "LATE EDITION" Web question, which asked, will U.S. forces now serving in Iraq be remembered as the next greatest generation?

Well, here is how you voted. Seven percent of you said yes, 93 percent of you -- I'm sorry. Let's turn this around. Ninety-three percent of you said yes. My apologies. I am told that the numbers were transposed on there. Seven percent of you said yes, I am told. Ninety-three percent of you said no. Almost 1,500 people voted. And a reminder, this is not a scientific poll.

But I just want to add a postscript. I am sure that that in no way suggests that the American people do not support the troops the soldiers in Iraq.

Well, that is your "LATE EDITION" for Sunday, May 30th. Wolf is going to be on the shores of Normandy, France, next Sunday for the 60th anniversary D-Day commemorations.

And be sure to join me Monday through Friday at 3:30 p.m. eastern for "Inside Politics."

Until then, thanks for watching. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.

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