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Guest Panel Talks About Iraqi Handover and War

Aired June 28, 2004 - 21:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After decades of brutal rule by a terror regime, the Iraqi people have their country back.


LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, the historic handover of power in Iraq comes two days early. Why the surprise change of date? And what happens now?

Joining us on the scene in Baghdad, CNN's Anderson Cooper. Also with us, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, host of "Face the Nation." Shoshana Johnson, a prisoner of war in Iraq last year. Senator John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and former Democratic presidential candidate.

As Iraq's next chapter unfolds, they're all next on "Larry King Live."

(on camera): Let's begin with Anderson Cooper, who's been on the scene for days now in Baghdad. How big a surprise was this?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It was a big surprise, indeed, Larry. I don't think any of us, when we woke up this morning, really anticipated this. We had gotten some word that there was going to be an event with Ambassador Bremer. Christiane Amanpour of CNN went to that event, but she wasn't told to bring a camera and she wasn't told what the event was going to be, nor were any of the other journalists who were present.

Of course we knew that the June 30th was the final date, the deadline date, and we'd had some word that the date might be moved up to June 29th. And all along, the coalition authority here has been saying, "Look, we don't want this to be a big event. We don't want this to be a very tradition-laden event like the handover of power in Hong Kong was. We want it to be a low-key affair."

But I don't think anybody, Larry, thought it was going to be this low-key.

KING: And was it the Iraqis' idea?

COOPER: Well, the -- they say now that it was -- the final decision was made by Iraq's new Prime Minister Allawi. Whether or not the exact details of how it came to be, I think, are not really clear yet. They say they've been working on it now for several days. But they do say the final decision was given to the man who is now running Iraq's government, Iyad Allawi.

He said -- when asked why did they move it up, he said he didn't cite security, as so many people have cited. He said, "Look, every day counts here. We're ready to take this thing. We wanted to move it up because, frankly, we're ready, and every day counts."

KING: Senator Warner, why do you think they moved it up?

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA, CHMN. ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I think the president said all along, when you're ready, let us know. And the president of Iraq was visiting in the Senate just a week or 10 days ago. We discussed with him the timetable, and he indicated when we're ready, we'll let you know. And it took place.

And I think it was a good step, because it showed the world, first, that America kept its promise. And secondly, in the likelihood that the insurgents were trying to plan something big for the 30th, it might well have set their timetable off and saved some lives.

KING: Now, Bob Schieffer, break it down for us what this means. This means now the Pentagon, the State Department runs things there? The sovereign government runs -- who runs what?

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS, HOST OF "FACE THE NATION": Well, I think it means -- in what the United States would like for you to believe it means is that the Iraqis are going to run things.

But Larry, we have to keep one thing in mind: This is a very good thing that happened today, but this is not waving a magic wand. American troops are going to be there for a long time, at least for another year or so. And they're going to have to be there in large numbers, because the Iraqis are simply -- nor is anyone else, at this point -- capable of maintaining security there and keeping the lid on as much as you can keep it on -- it hasn't been kept on very well so far.

But the Americans have to take the main responsibility in that. And they're going to be there for awhile.

KING: And Bob, is it the State Department now instead of the Pentagon that's running the American side of things?

SCHIEFFER: Well, yes. It will be now an American Embassy rather than an American Command Center there. And this will be like the American Embassy in other countries. This will be the largest American Embassy in the world, over 1,000 employees. I believe that's even larger than the American Embassy in Saigon during the Vietnam War. It's going to be an enormous enterprise there, under the -- under the stewardship, I guess you would say, of the new ambassador, Ambassador Negroponte.

KING: General Clark, what's your read on how ready they are? GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, FMR. NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, Larry, we know that the Iraqis are not ready to assume the security responsibility. The people there, the prime minister, and the others who are a part of the Iraqi interim council have been looking at the issues and talking the issues for a long time. So, they're more than ready to try their hand at it.

But the security issues' what's important here, and that remains firmly in U.S. hands, and we've got major problems to deal with, like the problem of Fallujah. When we came out of Fallujah and pulled back in April, we didn't know, but it was an experiment in trying to give the Iraqis control. It didn't work. We've got a hostile base there. At some point, we're going to have to go back in there and clean it up.

KING: Now, what about the story of NATO's involvement? What do you learn of that?

CLARK: Well, we've been pressing for a long time to have greater international involvement, and certainly NATO's a logical place to look. But what we've gotten out of NATO is the sort of -- it's de minimis. It's some training. There may be some trainers on the ground. Germany says they'll do training, but bring them to Germany.

And so, the countries in NATO are still hobbled by their own domestic political constituencies, and they're trying to help the United States. Every one of these countries wants the United States to succeed. But there's only so much may can do politically given all that's gone before.

KING: Anderson Cooper, what would you...

WARNER: Can I add a word there, Larry?

KING: Go ahead, Senator.

WARNER: Yes, you know, in a way, I'm concerned, but differently than my good friend, the general. I visited Afghanistan just a short time ago, and there NATO volunteered, came in, and took up their work. But they're way behind in fulfilling the goals that they had set.

The member nations have not lived up to the contributions of the troops that were necessary. And you also have these conditions, which General Clark might explain, where each nation said our troops can only do this and that, but they can't do, say, some of the heavy lifting.

Now, that's, to me, a very bad way to start out. And if they're not doing the job in Afghanistan, I question how they're going to take on even this role that they've committed to do, and do it well, in Iraq.

KING: General, you agree?

CLARK: I do agree. I think NATO is really stretched to the limit right now, and the member nations will tell you that. They're all trying to help the United States. As I said, they don't want to see -- I agree with Senator Warner. I mean, we've got to be concerned about this. We need our allies on board to make this work. And we don't have them yet.

KING: Anderson, what's the mood now in Iraq?

COOPER: I think there's a lot of optimism. Of course, people are very tentative; some very, of course, skeptical. You know, there have been a lot of promises made that some Iraqis say have not been fulfilled on. And yet, I think they're willing to give this new government a chance.

We talked to people on the street today. They were generally happy. They were saying, "Look, we want a strong hand. We want strong leaders." This is a country that is used to, obviously, Saddam Hussein -- a brutal dictator, but a strong leader. They want that kind of strength, particularly in these days where security seems to be the number one issue people are talking about.

I mean, there are bombs going off. There have been mortars here going off just this evening. Dawn here is about to come, and that's the time a lot of these improvised explosive devices are set to go off. It's to kill Iraqis, to kill men and women and children, people on their way to work in the morning just trying to live their lives. Iraqis are sick of that. They're hoping this new government can take care of it.

But as your guests have pointed out, it is not going to be an easy task. The Iraqi security services have a long, long way to go. The U.S. Is trying to help, trying to get equipment to them now. General David Petraeus doing a very important job here. But it is a long road ahead.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll ask Bob Schieffer about this being an interim government. We'll also talk about two prisoners: one of whom may be already dead -- we're not confirmed that; and one of whom is in grave danger of being killed.

We'll talk about that and other things. We'll also include your phone calls. Don't go away.


BUSH: This is a day of great hope for Iraqis, in a day that terrorist enemies hoped never to see. The terrorists are doing all they can to stop the rise of a free Iraq. But their bombs and attacks have not prevented Iraqi sovereignty, and they will not prevent Iraqi democracy.



KING: Bob Schieffer, this is an interim government. Interim until when? SCHIEFFER: Well, until I think they've -- they scheduled elections for January. But it will be interim until they can get a government elected, and that's going to be no small task. Because, again, going back to what we've been talking about since the beginning of this broadcast, security. There has got to be peace. They've got to be able to maintain order. Some people are saying that's going to require even more U.S. Troops, and it will have to be U.S. Troops if NATO is not going to contribute forces. You've got to get the situation calmed down, get the security in place, and working reasonably well before you can have an election. But the goal, Larry, is to have an election come January. Let's hope we can get to that.

KING: Senator Warner, is it true that others, not just insurgents, not just angry people, are joining in this parade against us?

WARNER: Well, at our hearing on Friday, just a few days ago, deputy secretary of state and the deputy secretary of defense clearly indicated there's still a composite of mostly I think the majority are old Saddam hands and just disaffected persons who want to do the fundamentalism, turn back the whole state of 1,000 years. And then from time to time, leakage across the borders. But in -- Bob, I'd like to fill in Bob's answer here, milestones. In my judgment, the next milestone comes in let's say maybe 90 days. When the General Petraeus who is in charge of training up the Iraqi Army will have turned out at least some cavalry, and equipped them, and they've got good training, good equipment, now will those men or whatever the composition is, be able to do the job that our coalition soldiers are doing today. Will they go into harm's way to enforce the law, and take the risk, and if necessary go against the Iraqi brethren with full force?

That's when the next test occurs.

KING: And how will you bet, General Clark, what would you bet would happen?

CLARK: I bet that we'll have mixed results and probably won't like the results very much right now. We've hood a lot of different issues come up, and as Senator Warner said, you know, it's a matter first of getting good equipment. We put some of these Iraqi police into Najaf in April. They didn't have the right body armor, in fact they didn't have any. They didn't have any helmets.

They didn't have good weapons. And our own troops were having a hard time there, so the Iraqi police said, no. But had we given them that, there's still an attitude out there amongst some of them saying we won't fire our own people. And you can understand that in a way. But if this government's going to get a grip on its own country we're going to have to have Iraqis who are willing to take a strong stand and that may take awhile to develop that. So, I think the 90-day benchmark milestone is a good milestone to have, but I think we've got to be careful not to have heightened expectations. This is a long process.

KING: Anderson Cooper, from your reading there, how long? How long do you think the United States will be present there?

COOPER: I wouldn't put a time limit on it. I simply don't know, nor would really any general here. I've interviewed General David Petraeus as well as Ambassador Bremer here, they really put a time limit on it. They are very realistic, though. Petraeus, in particular, a remarkable officer he is. He says look, this is a long road ahead. What he is trying to do in the short term is flood these guys with equipment.

He's sending RPGs to the Iraqi police. He's sending thousands of Kevlar vests, as General Clark pointed out, these guys did not even have Kevlar vests. They're coming under attack. They're being shot at with RPGs and, you know, they're firing back with AK-47s, if they're firing back at all. What Petraeus is trying to do is not only build and fill them with equipment, but also give them a sense of morale, give them a sense purpose, and a sense of look, the United States, the Iraqi government is not going to abandon you.

When the rubber hits the road, you are going to have the support you need. They're also looking for leaders within these forces. Ambassador Bremer, who left Iraq earlier today said look, we made a mistake basically. What we did is we went for numbers, we tried to just get bodies into the Iraqi police uniforms, just get thousands of people on the streets. But really when the rubber hit the road they took off. What you need are just a key people, hundreds of key people, not thousands of just bodies. General David Petraeus is looking for those people. He wants people who can be leaders, who can grab the man to the left of him and right of him and say follow me, let's take care of this stuff.

KING: Bob Schieffer...

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just say one thing here. We've got 138,000 American troops right now in Iraq. This is the best army in the world, that has the best equipment in the world. And this force, as good as they are, we still have the kind of situation that we're seeing day after day, with the explosion after explosion, incident after incident. It's going to take at least a year, it seems to me, until we can have Iraqi troops trained to use this equipment that they're bringing in for them to use. Yes, you can get a few at a time learning how to use it. But this is going to take a certain amount of time. And until those troops can be trained, until we get to the point where we find out whether or not they are going to stand and fight, American troops are going to have to do the job. This is going to be really tough for awhile.

KING: Senator Warner, assuming that things continue with Americans dying on a kind of regular basis, and others, will this American election be a referendum on Iraq?

WARNER: Well, as you may recall, I was secretary of the navy, undersecretary for five years during Vietnam. And I saw the politics at home highly influenced by what took place in that distant land where many 10s of thousands of brave Americans were being killed and wounded. I remember it vividly. We're not there yet. This is not a coming of Vietnam. But the American people relieve every single soldier that dies or is wounded and has great compassion for their families.

I think they're going to give the president the real opportunity here to prove that with this turnover of sovereignty, we can keep our commitments, maintain our forces to support and coordinate the Iraqi forces as they are trained and go into place. So let's give it a chance. I want to -- one thing that cooper said I've got to correct it. When those Iraqi forces go in to harm's way, they'll do so, pursuant to orders from Iraqi officers, not General Petraeus, not an American officer. They've got to have their own Iraqis as they're commanders, and instilling them that esprit de corps to do what our forces and the coalition are doing today.

KING: And General Clark do you think it will be a referendum on Iraq, the election?

CLARK: I think Iraq's going to very heavily influence the outcome of the election, Larry. I think if you look at the opinion polling and people's attitudes, everybody wanted to support the president after 9/11. And a case was made out there that there was a connection between 9/11 and Iraq, that there was a danger of weapons of mass destruction being used against Americans and against the United States, and bit by bit over the last year, the evidence just hasn't shown that.

And at the same time, there were those from the administration, and the policy board who were saying that Iraq would be a cakewalk. And that hasn't proved to be the case either. And so as the situation's more difficult, the need more it looks less compelling. Yes, the American people are going to hold the administration accountable for having gotten us in and trying to get us out. Everybody wants us to succeed in Iraq. There's no difference between Democrats and Republicans on that. The question is, will the American people feel that the -- this current administration is the best team or that the Kerry, president -- Senator Kerry and his team will be better at getting us out and doing the right thing in Iraq?

And I think that's going to be a huge issue in this election.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more. Don't go away on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night Bob Woodward and Senator John McCain.


PAUL BREMER, FMR. COALITION CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR: The future of Iraq belongs to you, the Iraqi people. We and your other friends will help. But we can only help. You must do the real work. The Iraq, your children and their children inherit will depend on your actions in the months and years ahead.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Joining our panel now from Chicago is Shoshana Johnson. You'll all remember Shoshana, the former POW held captive in Iraq last year for three weeks. Shoshana, we have late news today, Al Jazeera reporting it has received a statement on a videotape from a group of militants who claim to have killed Pfc. Matt Maupin, a U.S. soldier missing since April. The Pentagon says the tape is inconclusive and no one is confirming this. What's your reaction?

SHOSHANA JOHNSON, FMR. IRAQ POW: I'm very upset. It's hard to put into words exactly how this makes me feel. All I can do is offer my deepest condolences to his family if it does prove to be true. And pray to God that it isn't.

KING: You don't know him, do you?

JOHNSON: No, I don't. But, you know, as a soldier, we're all family. He's a soldier that went out to do his job in defense of myself, the entire country, and that kinship is something that you don't lose even though you leave the military.

KING: Anderson, any late word about him in Baghdad?

COOPER: No, Larry. What you said is what we have at this point. Pentagon saying it is inconclusive. A couple interesting things about this latest tape which has surfaced which has aired on Al Jazeera. You'll all remember this tape that first aired back in April after Specialist Maupin was first kidnapped, first taken hostage. This new tape, the first part of the tape in which you see Maupin, it looks very similar to that first tape, that April tape.

Whether or not it was shot at the same time, or whether it is, indeed, a new part of the tape is not known at this time. That's part of why it's inconclusive. Also, the person being shot, the Pentagon has said a person was shot on the tape, that much they know, his face is not to the camera, so they are not saying at this point that it is Specialist Maupin who was shot. But, of course, it is just a sickening thought that this might have happened. And of course it is something we have seen all too much of -- in recent weeks and months -- Larry.

KING: And Bob Schieffer, what do we know about the Pakistani American who apparently is being held with a threat to release prisoners or he'll be beheaded?

SCHIEFFER: It's a marine, is it not?

KING: Yes, a marine.

SCHIEFFER: Yes. I don't think we know anything. There's nothing new on that, Larry. We're kind of waiting for the next word on it.

KING: What does this...

COOPER: Larry, I can fill you in just a little.

KING: OK, Anderson.

COOPER: I can fill you in a little bit about that. His name is -- he is a marine, he's of Lebanese descent, his name is Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun (ph). He was missing for more than a week. He went missing June 19. That's when the Marines lost track of him. He didn't show up for duty the next day.

On this tape, the people who are holding him and dangling a sword above his head say that he will be killed. They did not give a firm time line on that. Often we've heard the 72 hours. They did not give a specific time line. His father, this corporal's father who lives in Tripoli, has spoken publicly, put out the word in Arabic saying basically, begging for his son's life.

It is remarkable when you think about it, these are people who are now taking Muslims, who are now taking a Pakistani man, as you pointed out, as well, as well as three Turkish hostages. It doesn't matter what religion you are. It doesn't matter who you are, or who you work for. They are taking anyone they can get and using these people for political ends as much as possible. The demands, the sort of charade that these demands have to be met, it is a charade. Their intent is to gain attention, to gain credibility for themselves within the terrorist community, Larry.

KING: Shoshana, as a former POW, late polls show that 54 percent of Americans now oppose the involvement in Iraq. How do you react to that?

JOHNSON: I'm very torn about it. Definitely I lost comrades. I lost 22 days of my life. You know, at times I don't think it was worth it. But I also saw Iraq, you know, and Nasiriyah before the attacks and I saw how badly this city, the country, was run down by Saddam Hussein. So, I tend to flip-flop across the fence. You know, I am definitely biased. I walk around with wounds in my legs from this conflict, and I lost, you know, incredible friends. So I'm not really the person to ask. I believe sometimes you have to just go on the street and ask the average American.

KING: Biased against who?

JOHNSON: Against -- not necessarily biased against anyone. Biased in the subject. You know, I've been to Iraq. I lost these friends. Can I ever replace these friends? Never. They are irreplaceable people who gave their lives in defense of their country. I'd rather have them back here with me, you know. And no matter what this does for the Iraqi people, my friends' lives were worth more than that.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll get the thoughts of Senator Warner and General Clark. More with our panel, reintroduce the whole panel and take calls as well. Don't go away.


BUSH: Iraqi sovereignty is a tribute to the will of the Iraqi people and the courage of Iraqi leaders. This day also marks a proud moral achievement for members of our coalition. We pledged to end a dangerous regime, to free the oppressed, and to restore sovereignty. We have kept our word.



KING: Let's reintroduce our panel. In Baghdad is Anderson Cooper, CNN anchor, the host of "ANDERSON COOPER 360." He's been there the last several days. In Washington, Bob Schieffer, the veteran CBS news correspondent, moderator of "Face the Nation." In Chicago, Shoshana Johnson, the former POW held captive in Iraq last year. In Washington, Senator John Warner, Republican and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And in New York is General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and a former Democratic candidate for president.

Before we go to calls, I want Senator Warner and General Clark's thoughts on these public opinion polls concerning Iraq. Senator Warner, do they bother you?

WARNER: First, let me just say that how proud I am of the way Shoshana has handled herself, and our hats are off to you. We're proud of your service.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

WARNER: Now back to these polls, I like that poll in Iraq which said that the highest number -- I think it was in the 70s -- of supporting the new president -- whom I've met, he was in the Senate a week or so ago -- ad the new prime minister, who several of my colleagues have met personally. They've got a good team. So, that's the poll that I think, at the moment, is the most important.

KING: General Clark, what do you think of the poll in the United States?

CLARK: Well, I think that it shows that the American people are increasingly disturbed by this.

But Larry, if I could, first of all, I would like to compliment Shoshana Johnson, also. I met her last year. I think she's a remarkable person. She did a great job representing the feelings that so many of the men and women in uniform have. And I just want to say, as someone who wore that uniform for 34 years, my heart goes out to the families who are here in the states. We all want the men and women in Iraq to be safe and to be successful, and we're all doing everything we can to offer our opinions and our ideas to help that come true.

But I think the American people are -- as you suggest, Larry -- increasingly disturbed by what they've seen, because frankly, the execution of this -- what happened after we got to Baghdad just hasn't been very well done. And it looks like the problems have been underestimated, it's been underresourced, and I think we do need more American forces over there. We know we still got infiltrators coming in across those borders, and we've got problems in cities like Fallujah, as I mentioned earlier. And we are going to have to use American forces.

So, we always had a rule in the Armed Forces that when you use force, you should try to use it as decisively as possible. And that's what we haven't quite done in the case of situations like Fallujah. And I think we're going to have to recalculate that

KING: All right. Let's take some calls. Cincinnati, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry?

KING: Cincinnati, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry?

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: First of all, I'd like to say to Shoshana, thank you for what you did for America. Second of all...

JOHNSON: Thank you.

CALLER: ... I'd like to say I think President Bush is doing a phenomenal job. And third of all, I'd like to ask, Senator Warner, what do you think that when the Iraqi people get Saddam Hussein, what will be their reaction? What will they do, Senator?

WARNER: You know, it's a very good question. And let us make it clear that the current plan is that the new Iraqi government will have control over the trial and how they're going to portray what he has done, and then make him accountable. But the United States will retain the security over him, because it would be a terrible situation if he were to slip out and escape.

So, I think the Iraqi people are really anxiously awaiting to see how justice works in their nation, not only for Saddam Hussein, but dozens of others who associated and assisted in the horrible suffering that he inflicted on the Iraqi people. So, I think they're looking forward with great expectation to seeing how justice can work in their new country.

KING: Bob, would you expect that trial to be telecast?

SCHIEFFER: I don't think so, Larry. I wouldn't think so. But there's going to be a trial, and I think justice will be done.

KING: OK. To Ormond Beach, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello. General Clark, last month, General Larry Ellis said our soldiers were not adequately equipped for heavy warfare. More recently, another general, Paul Eaton, said the Iraqis are not being trained adequately and behind schedule to take over as soldiers and police. Why is there still a problem with training and equipment, and where did that $87 billion in Iraq aid go to?

CLARK: Well, the $87 billion, a lot of it did go to help the United States armed forces cope with the costs of war. But a decision was made that they wouldn't use so many of the heavy armored vehicles, like the tanks and the Bradley Fighting Vehicles, because they are disruptive inside urban areas to the ordinary life of the Iraqis. And the wheeled vehicles, like the trucks and the humvees, most of them aren't armored properly to be able to withstand the fight.

So, there's some rethinking going on in the Army. As far as the Iraqis were concerned, Paul Eaton was right, they weren't given the right equipment. But hopefully, that's going to be fixed right now.

KING: All right. Shoshana, do you feel that you were well trained and properly equipped?

JOHNSON: I definitely feel that I was well trained. Equipment, that -- that's hard to say. I had proper equipment to do my job as a cook, but then again, I had a flak vest that was able to stop shrapnel but not stop bullets. There's a lot of things that need improving in the Army. I hope that they take a good look at what happened in Iraq and fix those problems. Unfortunately, soldiers lost their lives because of these things, and I don't want to see it happen again.

KING: Fountain Valley, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Mr. King.


CALLER: Hi, this is for you and also for the panel. Given recent criticism of America's prior ability to liberate Iraq in 1991, for whatever reasons it was not pursued then, what do you believe has changed since '91 that will make the liberation for Iraq successfully happen in 2004, 13 years later?

KING: Bob Schieffer, you have a thought?

SCHIEFFER: Well, we'll have to see what happens. I think it's going along now. I think we're doing better than we were. I think what happened today is very good, because we -- the more we can put an Iraqi face on this, the better off it's going to be. It's just going to work better that way.

We have also gotten sort of approval now from the NATO nations -- even though they agreed only to train, not to send in troops at this point -- but we are putting more of an international face on this.

Larry, what has to happen here -- and I think the viewer raises a very good question -- in my view, what has to happen, this has to be the civilized nations of the world taking on these thugs and thieves that are causing this trouble. It cannot be the United States of America against the Muslim world. The more we can make it the civilized nations of the world against this group, the better off we're going to be. And I think what happened today moves us a little further down that road.

KING: Anderson, the president said that the Iraqi people have their country back today. Do they feel that way?

COOPER: I think so. I mean, it's hard to really get a sense of what all Iraqis are thinking all around the country. What they are able to do, which they weren't able to do under Saddam Hussein, is complain. And they're using that right to the fullest extent. You go anywhere, people will complain about the electricity, about the power, about water -- really about anything -- about unemployment.

But I do think that there is a sense that something has changed here in these last 24 hours. It may not feel -- they may not hold on to that sense for very long; this may just be sort of a honeymoon period for the new government.

What they want to hear in these next few days is what is this government -- what is prime minister Allawi going to do differently? How are they going to put an Iraqi face on this? And how are they going to do with this insurgency, which is morphing, which is changing, which is becoming more and more deadly in some respects every day.

KING: Mexico Beach, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, thank you, Larry. Earlier, Senator Warren said that...

KING: Warner.

CALLER: ... he -- I'm sorry -- said just that he felt it was just a few isolated cases where terrorists were coming across the border and mingling in with insurgents. And two hours ago, Mr. Anderson Cooper, on his news show, interviewed in length a "TIME" reporter that said over the last six months, that terrorists have been coming through the border like a sieve, because when we went to war with Iraq, we dismantled the army. And the terrorists have been coming in, and they can't even distinguish between the two. Maybe Mr. Cooper could elaborate on that interview he had with the "Time" reporter.

KING: Anderson, you want to explain, then Senator Warner can comment.

COOPER: Yeah, I talked with "Time" magazine's Michael Ware, who has spent time with these various insurgents groups in and around Fallujah. What he said, and it was really a chilling interview, we're going to have more about it on my show tomorrow night, he said basically that the insurgent movement inside Iraq is changing. Where it may have been Saddam Fedayeen elements, Ba'ath Party elements one year ago, they are now linking up increasingly with these international, with these foreign fighters, these jihadist terrorists who have come in.

And just about anybody you talk to here, Iraqi officials, U.S. military officials will tell you the borders are a sieve, the borders are very open, it is very hard to stop people who are coming in at this point. The Iraqi border patrols are not up to snuff. The U.S. military do not have enough personnel on the borders. People are coming in in droves. They are going to these spots like Fallujah, which, according to reporters who have been there, is becoming more and more like a little Taliban-run city. Record stores there can no longer sell music. They can only sell religious tracks, religious music.

So these jihadist terrorists are certainly linked up with the Iraqi elements of the insurgency, and according to this "Time" magazine reporter, Michael Ware, who has spent time with these groups, that is a very ominous development, indeed, because they see this -- they see Iraq as the front line in a global jihad against the United States.

KING: We'll take a break and have Senator Warner comment on that. As we go to break, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld talks about Saddam Hussein. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going to happen to Saddam Hussein, when he'll be handed over, how he'll be handed over?

Are the Iraqis ready to handle him yet?

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Nothing other than that they obviously, as a sovereign government, have asked us to retain physical custody, but they have the responsibility for him, as of today.




SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is critical that the president get real support, not resolutions, not words, but real support of sufficient personnel, troops and money, to assist in the training of security forces in order to be able to guarantee a rapid, real transition, and most importantly in order to be able to provide adequate security on the ground.


KING: Senator Warner, you want to comment on what Anderson Cooper had to say about the "Time" reporter?

WARNER: Yes. And I think the caller posed a good question. And my response, maybe I should have tightened it a little bit. There are leaky borders, no question about it. The infiltration sort of ebbs and flows. But the testimony that came before my committee, Armed Services, last week from the top experts still said that the bulk, the majority of the insurgency was brought about by ex-Saddam Hussein thugs and criminals and others.

But nevertheless, you can't discount the important factor of those that infiltrate across the borders.

You know, we were just looking at that piece with Senator Kerry. You ask yourself, well, all right, Senator, true, we'd like to get that help. And our president has reached out repeatedly and sought that help. But I don't think it's going to come until those nations, for example France, that has a large Muslim population, view the instability if it continues in Iraq, and the threats out of Iraq of the instability as causing problems at home. Then in their own self- interest they will come forward and be more responsive.

KING: Lonoke, Arkansas. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry?

KING: Yeah.

CALLER: Hi. You have a great show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: My question maybe is for General Clark.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: This is regarding Fallujah. This is really making me nervous. Is the Iraqis going to be in command of Fallujah, or are the United States still going to take charge? Can't we just go in and get these people? Because isn't Fallujah going to become the next terrorist kind of the cell part of this? Thank you.

CLARK: I think it's a very good question, Larry. And that is the problem. The Americans were there. Our Marines were there. We did ask the Iraqis to go in and take charge. We formed a Fallujah brigade. But frankly, it's mostly colluding with the people who are there right now. And this is something that has to be reckoned with. What we'd like to do is have Iraqi soldiers and police, with the Americans, when it's time to go back into Fallujah. But the clock's ticking. We can't afford to allow Fallujah to become a real base camp for the international jihadists linked up with the local thugs. We're going to have to go in there pretty soon.

KING: Silverton, Ohio. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Good to hear from you.


CALLER: This is for the general and the senator. And the question I have is, with the citizen army we have, the National Guard being the regular army now, there's been a learning curve, which didn't exist in Vietnam, because we had soldiers from World War II and Korea training us. And I noticed that at the top end of the cadre, the generals and them, I noticed many have the Kentucky rifle, but few of them have the wreath that shows they were in actual combat. Do you think it's a learning curve for these generals?

KING: General Clark, is it?

CLARK: Well, it is. And it's not just the National Guard generals. It's also some active duty generals, that this is their first combat action. But we've got a very, very good training program. This is not like any army that you've ever seen before. All of the Army, including the National Guard and reservists, officer corps, have been through very intensive leader development from the time they've come in all the way up through the ranks. We're good.

KING: Bob Schieffer, why has this been such a problem? With this good army, with 138,000 there, why does the other side apparently get away with so much?

SCHIEFFER: Well, this is just my own personal view, and I reached the high rank of first lieutenant during my military service, so I'm not exactly a military expert. But I believe, Larry, that we didn't go in with enough people at the beginning. I think we needed a larger force there in that very beginning, when the Iraqi soldiers were fading back into the woodwork and back into the population, they abandoned all of these ammo dumps around the country. I'm told that many of those ammunition dumps are still unguarded. That's where a lot of this explosive material is coming from that is being used now.

I think our problems there came out of the beginning, and in those early months when they simply did not have a large enough force on the ground. We had a force large enough and fast enough to get to Baghdad very quickly. But it was not large enough to keep the peace (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they got.

KING: Shoshana, what do you think?

JOHNSON: I think that we didn't have a good enough plan. We did not secure the borders properly. We did not destroy these ammo dumps when we went through. We just went straight to Baghdad like if that was the whole mission. No. You have to take control as you go, and keep control. It wasn't about enough men, because we are more highly trained -- excuse me. We are better trained than the Iraqis. We are trained -- one soldier equals 10 of theirs, quite frankly. So I don't think it was a situation of more manpower. I think it was the plan that was flawed from the beginning.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. Sorry, go ahead, John.

WARNER: You know, I've been through all the hearings and the debates on what was the right number of troops. But I'd like to have Wesley Clark comment on this one. Do you know, just on the eve, General, the Fourth Division, which was due to come in through Turkey and come down in a sort of a pincers movement down through that Sunni Triangle, and hook up with those forces coming in the south, that was blocked. And that fourth I.D. had to go all the way around and come in, and finally they did pick up a lot of the heavy lifting and the tough fighting after Baghdad fell. But had that plan gone forward, would not those force levels, that issue be a moot one today?

KING: I've got to get a break. General Clark, you want to respond quickly? CLARK: I think that would have made a big difference, Senator. I think we really needed those troops to come through Turkey and help us.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments. Get in a few more phone calls. Don't go away.


KING: Anderson Cooper has to leave us. Anderson, you're doing a great job. We'll be watching you every night. Thanks for your reporting.

COOPER: All right. Thanks, Larry.

KING: Let's take another call. To Reno, Nevada. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: I saw "Fahrenheit 9/11" this weekend, and it has shaken to the core every faith I had in George Bush. My question is, has your panel seen it and if they haven't, are they going to watch it? And what effect do they think it will have on the election?

KING: Let's run down. We'll start with Senator Warner. Have you seen it?

WARNER: No, I have not but I expect that I will go, because I think it's an interesting part of America's fabric how this one film so quickly could have caught the imagination of so many people. I think our president has done the right thing, is leading strongly. I'm not speaking just as a partisan here. Stop to think, the day after 9/11, we all stood and thought we were going to get hit again. But we haven't. So certainly a lot of the things that we're doing are the right things.

KING: But you expect -- the question was about the film. Do you expect to see the film?

WARNER: Yes, I think I have an obligation to go and see it.

KING: Foolhardy to criticize something you don't see or praise something you don't see. Either way, it's kind of ridiculous unless you see it. General Clark, have you seen it or going to see it?

CLARK: I will see it. I haven't seen it. I generally know what Michael Moore's point of view is.

KING: Bob Schieffer, have you seen it?

SCHIEFFER: I have not and I had not planned to go see it. But now that it is having such an impact, when it had this big weekend, I think I need to go see it. So I am going to see it and just check it out to see what's there. KING: Shoshana, are you going to see it?

JOHNSON: I'm not sure. Some of the things in the film I know is very painful for me to watch.

KING: Yes, they are.

JOHNSON: People have to understand that I lived through part of this. And I'm glad Mr. Moore got a chance to show his film. I know there was a lot of people that were against it but, what's the point of showing another country how to be a democratic society, if we stomp out someone's first amendment rights?

King: Hope Sound, Florida. Quickly.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. Now that Iraq has turned over to the interim government, and we know it's going to take a long time to get it settled, what do you think both the Republicans and Democrats can do to show a more united front here in the United States to gain back some of the respect we've lost to the other countries?

KING: I think I'll bring it up, because we only have 20 seconds. Partisanship I think will continue, don't you think, so, Senator Warner and General Clark?

WARNER: Well, it's always been a part of the American political scene. But I do believe it's more intense today than I've seen it in the 26 years I've been in the Senate.

KING: We thank all of our panel. Always great having them with us. We'll call on them again and we'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, more on the turnover in Iraq. Our special guests are Bob Woodward of the "Washington Post" and Senator John McCain of Arizona. The start of another week. The start of another week of "NEWSNIGHT" and that heralds in, of course, another week with Aaron Brown. What a great way to begin a week, to know that we have six, no, five nights with that man.


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