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Mosul Bomber May Have Worn Iraqi Uniform; Residents Returning to Falluja; Russia Seizes, Then Buys Massive Oil Reserve

Aired December 23, 2004 - 18:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Thursday, December 23. Here now for an hour of news, debate and opinion, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, who is on vacation, Kitty Pilgrim.
KITTY PILGRIM, HOST: Good evening.

Tonight, a new development into the investigation into the suicide bomb attack on a U.S. base in Mosul. In an interview with CNN, Brigadier General Carter Ham acknowledged the suicide bomber exploited weaknesses in the base's security.

That attack killed 22 people, 18 of them Americans.

Kathleen Koch reports from the Pentagon.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The top U.S. general in the Mosul region made a surprising revelation about what the suicide bomber at Camp Marez was likely wearing.

BRIG. GEN. CARTER HAM, U.S. ARMY: What we think is likely, but certainly not certain, is that an individual in an Iraqi military uniform, possibly with a vest-worn explosive device, was inside the facility.

KOCH: A spokesman for the multinational forces says after the explosion, investigators discovered the remains of a torso wearing the uniform in the mess hall and believe it to be the bomber.

But Lieutenant Colonel Steven Boilen (ph) insists they don't know if the bomber was a member of the Iraqi military or someone who stole the uniform, got it from a deserter or bought it on the black market.

The military also believes the bomber had help.

HAM: It is very difficult to conceive that this would be the act of a lone individual. It would seem to me reasonable to assume that this was a mission perhaps some time in the planning, days, perhaps.

KOCH: There is no word yet on whether any Iraqi National Guardsmen are missing. One military official explaining there's no reliable tracking system to keep count of Iraqi soldiers. And the U.S. military can't yet say how many Iraqi civilians work at Camp Marez or whether any of them were unaccounted for. Senior Pentagon officials defend the increasing practice of hiring foreign nationals like Iraqis to do nonmilitary chores on bases. They say it improves not just the economic status of average Iraqis, but their attitude toward Americans and the push for democracy.

Most also agreed it introduces risk.

KEN ROBINSON, MILITARY INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: If you outsource to the host country, in this case, Iraq, and you bring in local Iraqis, you bring into your security environment those who may threat threaten it.


KOCH: For now, the Pentagon is re-evaluating security at U.S. military installations in Iraq. Top brass concerned that the effectiveness of Tuesday's attack could prompt suicide copycats -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much, Kathleen Koch. And we will hear more from that interview with General Ham in just a few minutes.

Well, the military says the wounded Americans being treated in Germany have serious wounds, but they're all expected to recover. The American military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, received 35 casualties from Mosul, 28 troops, seven civilians. Nearly half of them are in serious condition.

The military says some of the casualties have already been flown back to the United States.

In Iraq today, three U.S. Marines were killed in fighting in the al-Anbar province west of Baghdad. The deaths came as American troops fought a fierce battle with insurgents in Falluja.

Today, some of Falluja's resident's returned for the first time since the U.S.-led offensive last month.

Karl Penhaul reports from Baghdad.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An estimated 250,000 civilians fled Falluja before the assault. Marines say about 500 returned Thursday.

Men of fighting age must show I.D.s and undergo fingerprint and eye scans, like immigrants arriving at U.S. airports.

Residents have been waiting 6 1/2 weeks to go back. Their patience is near breaking point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They took about five cars near the bridge and then they did not allow us to enter the city. I think this is a kind of propaganda only because no one entered the city of Falluja until now.

PENHAUL: U.S. Marines and Iraqi soldiers who stormed the city in November say they're trying to stop insurgents filtering back disguised as civilians.

Despite the November assault with massive U.S. firepower and thousands of troops, some of the insurgents never left. As refugees were returning Thursday, guerrilla fighters holed up in houses battled on. A Marine spokesman said U.S. Marines pulled back and called in air strikes to level the building.

Witnesses say one-third of Falluja may have been flattened by fighting since November. Some of those who returned Thursday found they had little to go back to.

To date, U.S. and Iraqi officials have given no accurate assessment of how many homes were destroyed and how many civilians were killed. For now, returning residents will pick up what pieces are left while the rattle of distant gunfire reminds them the insurgency has not been defeated.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Baghdad.


PILGRIM: In his interview with CNN, General Ham gave us a candid assessment of the capabilities of insurgents in Iraq. General Ham also addressed a question some Americans have been asking: whether we have enough troops in Iraq.


HAM: I have enough U.S. boots on the ground. I do not have enough Iraqi boots on the ground. And ultimately to defeat this insurgency, it will be Iraqi security forces that will necessarily have to step up and assume an increasing and ultimately total responsibility for security in their own nation.

The development of Iraqi security forces has not been as fast as any of us would have liked. Having said that, some Iraqi security forces appear in Mosul and throughout the area for which we're responsible, have performed very, very well for some time, reaching back into -- into early this year.

Others, notably the police, early -- in mid-November, have not performed well at all, in a very disappointing manner.

The elements that make up the insurgents, both former regime elements and terrorists and religious extremists, are capable. They are very dangerous. They are very lethal, as we have certainly seen in the past few days. And they are also very adaptive in how they apply their particular brands of terror.

So this is an extraordinarily complex situation. It's one -- it is one that requires the application not just of military force, though there certainly is an important role for military force, but there's also an important requirement for economic reconstitution as security situations allow that. For assistance in the developing governmental systems at the local through national levels.

It has to be a multifaceted approach to defeat this insurgency over the long time, and the leading role has to be taken by Iraqis.

We have an opportunity here to help the Iraqi people achieve something that two years ago was unthinkable. And that's freedom and democracy. And the hope that they have and the brave Iraqis that have stepped forward, we owe them our best efforts and that's exactly what we're going to do.

We are going to see this mission through to successful completion. And in my view, we have no choice for America or for Iraq.


PILGRIM: General Ham also thanked the American people for the tremendous support they are giving our troops. And later in this show, we'll have our special report, "The Holiday Home Front." And tonight how you can help our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to call home for free.

Well, Iraq is not the only challenge facing this country overseas. Today the State Department criticized Moscow's takeover of the most productive oil fields in Russia. Critics say the takeover is just the latest sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin is turning away from democracy.

Ryan Chilcote reports from Moscow.


RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a murky story as dark as the oil that it's about that ends with the central government taking over a private business.

In the thick of it, one of the world's largest oil production units, known as Yuganskneftegaz, the crown jewel of the Yukos oil company and its former top executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The Kremlin seized and then last weekend auctioned off Yuganskneftegaz for some of the $27 billion-dollar tax debt. The buyer, a company called BaikalFinansGroup, about which little more is known than that it shares an address with a grocery store, in turn then sold to Russia's state-owned oil company, Rosneft. The details of the sale to Rosneft remain secret.

(on camera) The result, the Kremlin is now the owner of Russia's second largest oil company, one of the largest in the world.

(voice-over) The Russian president said it did nothing wrong; it's just business.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): A state company or let's say a company that is 100 percent state owned, has a right, just like other participants in the market has a right to participate in this kind of tender, and it took advantage of that right.

CHILCOTE: Yukos says the sale of its main subsidiary was illegal and that the BaikalFinansGroup was secretly representing the Kremlin's interests and allowed them to get around an injunction to stop the sales from a federal court in U.S. oil hub Texas.

Yukos says the sail was designed to re-nationalize Yuganskneftegaz and destroy their company because of what they call Mr. Putin's vendetta against its outspoken founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is now in jail facing tax evasion charges.

Ryan Chilcote, CNN, Moscow.


PILGRIM: Still to come, nearly two months after Election Day, the gubernatorial race in one state still hasn't been resolved. What is going on? We'll have a report.

And winter wallop. A deep freeze, record snowfall causing chaos on the roads. We'll have the very latest on that.

And American farmers blast the U.S. Border Patrol agents for simply doing their job. We'll have that story, too.


PILGRIM: More than seven weeks after the election, the race for Washington State's governor is still undecided. Now the latest recount has put the Democratic candidate in the lead for the first time. But, tonight, there are new indications that this race won't end anytime soon.

Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider reports.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Fifty days after the election and the match is still going on. Washington State governor's race. Republican Dino Rossi versus Democrat Christine Gregoire.

Round one: Rossi leads Gregoire by 261 votes out of nearly 2.9 million. That result triggers a machine recount.

Round two: Rossi leads by 42 votes. Rossi's ready to take over as Washington's first Republican governor since 1984.


SCHNEIDER: But Democrats demand and pay for a hand recount. Republicans scoff at Gregoire the grinch: "Dino Rossi won the election once, then twice. The Democrats are naughty, while Dino's been nice."

Round three: Initial results of the hand recount show Democrat Gregoire ahead by 10 votes. But, lo' and behold, more than 700 uncounted ballots turn up in heavily Democratic King County, which includes Seattle. The voters' signatures were not properly checked.

DEAN LOGAN, DIRECTOR, KING COUNTY ELECTIONS BOARD: There were mistakes that were made in this election process.

SCHNEIDER: Too late, Republicans say. They get a court order barring the county from counting those ballots.

CHRIS VANCE, WASHINGTON GOP CHAIRMAN: We know of hundreds and hundreds of people around the state who say they voted for Dino Rossi and their votes weren't counted. But we didn't think we could do anything about that because there was a statutory deadline.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats call Rossi the accidental governor elect and charge, instead of accepting the results, he is "throwing a hissy fit and crying fraud."

Democrats appeal to the state Supreme Court which ruled unanimously on Wednesday that King County should count the valid disputed ballots. Democrats smell victory, but try not to show it.

CHRIS GREGOIRE (D), WASHINGTON GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I leave the decision about conceding to Mr. Rossi. I've been called on many times to concede.

SCHNEIDER: Now it's the Republicans' turn to complain.

ESSEX PORTER, KHJO REPORTER: They may be asking the court to throw the election and to have the election done over.

GREGOIRE: This is beginning to sound familiar.

PORTER: A lot of folks in Washington -- it is beginning to feel like another Florida 2000.


SCHNEIDER: Reporter: Round four could come at any moment, as soon as the results of the hand recount, including those disputed ballots, are announced.

The secretary of state is expected to certify the result next Thursday. Republicans say voters then have 10 days to contest the results. The Democrats say that law is vague.

Kitty, more rounds to come.

PILGRIM: Can't wait for that. And, Bill, we'll see you a lit bit later in the broadcast.

Bill Schneider. Well, let's turn now to an escalating battle along this country's southern border, and it could affect how much you pay for your food in your supermarket.

A lobbying group representing farmers in California and Arizona is complaining that it doesn't have enough workers, and, incredibly, the Western Growers Association is blaming the Border Patrol, which is simply doing its job.

Casey Wian reports from Yuma, Arizona.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every morning before dawn, busloads of Mexican farm workers pass through checkpoints in southwestern Arizona. Border Patrol agents inspect their green cards. Then, they're on their way to the fields. Here grows much of the nation's lettuce, broccoli and other vegetables. But, this year, many buses are only half full.

ALONSO TURADO, ALTI CUSTOM HARVEST: We don't have enough people to work.

WIAN: Alonso Turado supplies workers to big farms. Last year, he ran 11 crews. This year, just seven.

TURADO: We lost maybe like 50 percent of our people that are going to work in the construction.

WIAN: But the trade group representing California and Arizona farmers blames the Border Patrol. The Western Growers Association accuses Yuma area agents of cracking down on illegal alien farm workers and scaring away legal workers at the same time.

The group has tried to pressure the Department of Homeland Security to have the Border Patrol, in effect, stop doing its job. Instead, this week, agents arrested 232 illegal alien farm workers in buses on back roads that tried to evade checkpoints. The Border Patrol says that's standard procedure, not a crackdown.

MICHAEL NICELY, BORDER PATROL STATION CHIEF: We're certainly not going to shut down our checkpoints or diminish our enforcement effort because some growers are being inconvenienced by their illegal workforce being picked up by the Border Patrol.

WIAN: Agents are investigating which farms hired the recently arrested illegal aliens.

(on camera): The Western Growers Association claims members have only been able to harvest 30 percent of their crops in recent weeks because of a farm labor shortage. The group also says that prices of some key crops, such as lettuce, will soar.

(voice-over): But Border Patrol agents suspect those warnings are a political ploy to win support for a guest worker program. Farm lobbyists have been pushing hard to keep that idea alive, one reason the farmer worker shortage has pushed wages here up about 15 percent.

PHILIP MARTIN, AGRICULTURE PROFESSOR, UC DAVIS: If the workers did not come, we would expect wages to rise and we would expect mechanization to take place.

WIAN: But, so far, lettuce-picking machines haven't replaced farm workers, largely because about half are illegal aliens who find no shortage of farmers willing to hire them.

Casey Wian, CNN, Yuma, Arizona.


PILGRIM: Well, that brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. What do you believe is the best way to solve the farm worker shortage -- to raise wages, allow more illegal aliens or mechanization? Cast your vote at, and we'll bring you the results later in the show.

Also ahead tonight, our special report, "Holiday Homefront." Many Americans are helping U.S. troops overseas keep in touch with loved ones at home and you, too, can help. We'll tell you how coming up.

And then, a deadly storm dumps almost two feet of snow across parts of several states. We'll have the very latest on where this dangerous system is moving next.

That and a great deal more still ahead here tonight. So stay with us.


PILGRIM: All this week, we're honoring Americans from all parts of the country spreading holiday joy to our troops overseas. And, tonight, a program that allows Americans to purchase calling cards online so that our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan can call their families for free.

Now, from Killeen, Texas, Peter Viles has the story of one of those phone cards and a soldier with a remarkable Christmas spirit.



KIMO HANSEN, U.S. ARMY: Hi, little sweetie. What's up?


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From half a world away, a father calls to tease his 16-year-old son...

KIMO HANSEN: What's up with the deep voice?

BRETT HANSEN, FATHER IN IRAQ: What are you talking about? VILES: ... calls to check in with his 12-year-old...

KIMO HANSEN: How about your skateboarding?

SEAN HANSEN, FATHER IN IRAQ: I'm getting better.

VILES: ... calls to tell his 10-year-old that she's smart enough to beat her big brother in chess.

KIMO HANSEN: You learn really quick, and it wouldn't surprise me at some point if you beat Brett before, you know, the end of the year. You're really good.

VILES: When Dad is fighting in a war and Kimo Hansen is flying dangerous helicopter missions in Iraq, every call is precious.

BOBBI HANSEN, HUSBAND SERVING IN IRAQ: It means everything. I mean, it can make your whole day.

VILES: This call was a gift of the American people through a program created by the military and AT&T to send prepaid calling cards to the troops.

MAJ. GEN. KATHRYN FROST, U.S. ARMY: There is no better way to connect the front lines to the home front than to provide that prepaid calling card. We believe it's the best care package available. There's nothing like hearing a voice on the other end of the line to reassure, to motivate and inspire.

VILES: Through, the Web site of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Americans have donated $1.3 million to help troops call home from phone banks like this one in Iraq. Radio station KLBJ in Austin, Texas, raised $70,000. The governor of California and his wife raised more than $150,000.

Kimo Hansen won't be home for Christmas. He'll open his gifts alone.

KIMO HANSEN: Oh, I think I'm just going to open them just by myself. I think I'm going to just -- like I told Kayla, I was just going to play some Christmas music and then just open them up by myself.

VILES: But there's no self pity here. Even while fighting a war, this soldier found a way to surprise his wife at Christmas.

BOBBI HANSEN: Kimo! Oh, my gosh.

KIMO HANSEN: What is it?

BOBBI HANSEN: You know, I don't -- it's a little white box, Kimo. You're good with these little boxes.

KIMO HANSEN: I'm telling you. What's in it, though?

BOBBI HANSEN: Yes, I'm -- I'm getting to that. KIMO HANSEN: Are you? OK.


VILES: A diamond ring and a phone call to remember.

KIMO HANSEN: I'm just gratified and blessed to have a wife like you, Bobbi, and a mother on top of that. You're a terrific...

BOBBI HANSEN: OK. Stop now. You're going to make me cry.

VILES: Peter Viles, CNN, Killeen, Texas.


PILGRIM: What a terrific way to support our troops this or any time of the year.

So here again is the address. We'd like you to have it. You can donate calling cards for our troops overseas. It's And you just click on the link that says help our troops call home. Or if you'd like, you can call a number. It's 1-800-527-2345.

Still to come, building democracy in Iraq. Former coalition adviser Noah Feldman says we have no choice but to stay in Iraq and complete our mission. And he's my guest next.

Also the big chill. A dozen people are killed as freezing weather and heavy snows sweep across the Midwest. We'll have the latest.

And then there are new rules for airport screeners tonight as millions of Americans pack our airports his holiday season.


ANNOUNCER: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT continues. Sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: In a moment, we'll have the latest on a deadly winter storm that is disrupting the holiday travel for millions of Americans.

First, though, let's look at some of the other top stories.

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a new warning about the painkillers Celebrex and Bextra. The FDA is urging doctors to limit prescriptions of the drugs. Both of them have been found to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Another painkiller, Vioxx, was pulled from the market in September after it was linked to a higher risk of heart trouble.

A federal court in Houston has convicted two men in a deadly human smuggling case. Nineteen people suffocated in the back of an unventilated tractor-trailer last year as they tried to cross the border near Victoria, Texas. Prosecutors said the two men helped to load more than 70 illegal aliens into the truck. Each man could be sentenced to life in prison.

And rescuers in Massachusetts have called off their search for five missing fishermen. The fishermen were on a scallop boat which capsized Monday in choppy waters and freezing temperatures off of Nantucket. It was the worst loss of life aboard a single vessel in New England since the "Andrea Gail" crew died in 1991 in the so-called perfect storm.

Tonight, people across much of the Midwest are digging out from more than a foot of snow, and dozens of travelers are still stranded along parts of Interstate 64 in Indiana.

Now some people have been stuck in their cars since last night. The Indiana National Guard has rescued many motorists. Other drivers are turning on their engines periodically to stay warm.

Indiana's governor has declared a state of emergency in several counties. Now this storm is blamed for 11 deaths in four states.

Some of the heaviest snowfall was in Scottsburg, Indiana, which recorded 30 inches. High winds are also causing the snow drifts, some as deep as five feet. Now this storm system has delayed flights in Atlanta, Chicago, Ohio and elsewhere.

Meteorologist Orelon Sidney joins us from the CNN weather center with the latest on the holiday weather. Not very cheerful, Orelon.


PILGRIM: All right. Thanks, Orelon Sidney.

Well, one flight delay today had nothing to do with the weather. An American Airlines plane set take off from Richmond, Virginia rolled off the runway, got stuck in the mud. Airport officials say the pilot underestimated his turning radius. All of the 129 passengers and five crew members aboard were evacuated. No one was injured.

Airport security may also affect your holiday travel plans. New patdown procedures are in effect tonight after hundreds of women complained they were being groped during the screenings.

Brian Todd has the report.


TODD (voice-over): Even when delicately done, this move has made some female airline passengers cringe. One of them, a former congresswoman, recently chose to drive more than seven hours rather than fly and endure it.

HELEN CHENOWETH-HAGE (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I thought, you know, this is pretty aggressive and invasive, to pat a woman's torso down, especially around the breast area.

TODD: Many complaints like that from female passengers have prompted the Transportation Security Administration to issue a new order. As of Thursday, screeners are not allowed to routinely touch passengers between their breasts during pat-downs. They can only touch the perimeters of the chest, backside, and abdomen.

MARK HATFIELD, TSA SPOKESMAN: Like good partners, we listen to our traveling public, and we're looking at how to make this a little bit more comfortable.

TODD: More comfortable, but will we be more safe? Screeners were ordered to conduct more frequent and thorough passenger searches back in September, after two plane crashes in Russia believed to have been caused by Chechen women who carried explosives on board.

(on camera): With the procedures changing again, one screener at Boston's Logan Airport tells us they're getting mixed signals about which rules were more effective. If the new pat-downs are just as safe, he says, it means the old procedures weren't even necessary. Full pat-downs are still allowed if an alarm goes off when a passenger is being wanded or irregular clothing is being detected. Women are giving the new procedures mixed reviews.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're a little strange, but it was not invasive at all. She was very polite, told me what she was going to do. It was very quick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They always come dangerously close to where you think they shouldn't. And this time, most times, they tell you that, if they're going to pat in a sensitive area, they'll use the back of their hands. But this woman, I guess, in the rush, she just kind of patted wherever she needed to.

TODD: Some screeners believe those areas can be searched tactfully with the use of so-called ETDs, explosive trace detection machines. Screeners check material with handheld devices, then run the swabs through those machines. ETDs are in place in every U.S. airport, but are now only being used on luggage.

A TSA official tells us ETDs cannot be used on passengers because they get contaminated by body fluids and other substances from the skin. And he says, if they tried to modify the machines and use them on passengers, it would dramatically slow the screening process, John.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


PILGRIM: Well, the deadly attack on our troops in Mosul illustrates the high cost of fighting terrorism and building democracy in Iraq. And my next guest says nation building requires a new humbler approach by the United States. Noah Feldman is the author of "What we Owe Iraq, War and The Ethics of Nation Building." And he's the former senior adviser to the coalition provisional authority in Baghdad. And Noah Feldman joins me here in the studio. Thanks for being here.

NOAH FELDMAN, AUTHOR: It's my pleasure. PILGRIM" Are we nation building or are denying we are nation building. What are we doing right now? It's almost impossible to say, isn't it?

FELDMAN: We're a little more confused than we should be. If we managed to create good security on the ground we would be able to see nation building occurring. Because we would see the draft constitution would be put into effect. We would see elections. We would see political debate in the country. And that's all crucial to successful national building process.

But if you can't stop people from being blown up, Iraqis and Americans, then it's very difficult to do the business of nation building.

PILGRIM: Noah, you're a constitutional expert, you're on your way to Iraq. I'm struck by an anecdote in your book that was very telling. You were trying to bone up on the language. You were trying to get as much cultural information as you could on the flight going over. And people on that flight were reading about the reconstruction of Japan and Germany. They were stuck in the past. You say that's a glowing example of what went wrong. Is that it? Or is there more to it?

FELDMAN: That was a big part of the problem. History provides good analogies, but each country is distinctive. And in this case, we, as a government, and as a nation, did not pay enough attention to the particularities of Iraq. And specifically to the fact that because it was a police state, once you eliminated the government, ordinary people were not going to follow the law. And they were not going to spontaneously design a new government for themselves unless they felt that someone was in charge. We need to do that. And that should have been clear from an understanding of Iraqi politics and culture.

PILGRIM: The fact we didn't declare ourselves in charge may have just been sensitivity on our part, in that we didn't want to come in and take over and be aggressive, overly aggressive. But now you are saying that may have been a mistake. Maybe a well-intentioned mistake.

FELDMAN: It was well-intentions, but it was also naive. It suggest that if there's nobody in charge in a government, the natural reaction of people is to get together and form one, instead of the natural reaction of people being to get involved in looting. I mean, in a blackout, in any country you can sometimes find looting because there's a sense nobody is in charge. So, I don't mean to say that this particularly Iraqi, but every government has to provide law and order. And there was no government there.

PILGRIM: Leading up to the elections, we've seen an increase in violence and in fact the attack in Mosul was horrifying and the fact it may have been an internal thing is even more scary.

Does this affect the whole way you form a government, that you move forward? Is this going to affect the elections and the formation of government?

FELDMAN: These sorts of attacks are very detrimental to any formation of operating government. Because think about how an election is supposed to work. They're supposed to be campaigning. They're supposed to public meetings. They're supposed to be discussions. None of that can happen if attacks like this happen. And if an attack like this can happen in a U.S. base, which should be one of the places in the entire country, just imagine how ordinary Iraqis feel who are not surrounded by guards or protection of any kind.

PILGRIM: I was struck, you were talking about constitutional development and how you are supposed to have these big meetings and you can't even meet, can you, in large groups?

FELDMAN: You can't. If we want to get Iraqi politicians together we do it as a surprise meeting behind closed doors or in the green zone, which is the most fortified American area. It's very difficult to have a public debate if you can't actually see face to face. People can have the right to assembly and we've given them the right to assemble. But they don't have the actual chance to assemble.

PILGRIM: What's your prognosis? Will Iraq achieve a certain workable form of government and will it be democracy in your opinion?

FELDMAN: It still has a chance. If we're able, ultimately, to suppress the insurgency while also offer a political option to the Sunnis, who right now feel disenfranchised from the process, then it's possible to see a government that represents all the different constituencies in the country. And that shares power and that holds elections and it respects basic rights. That government will not be a full-fledged western style democracy, but a prodo-democracy. And it will have a big Islamic component. The largest political parties, those who are going to do the best in these elections are the Shia political parties who say that they are Islamic Democrats. They believe in Islam and they democracy, and they say they work together.

PILGRIM: In forming the laws and the constitution, which you're working on, how do you get the Islamic sort of mind-set into a democratic mind set? I mean, this seems like it's difficult.

FELDMAN: It's a challenge. On the other hand, look at Iraq. The most senior religious official, Ayatollah Sistani is the strongest pro-Democratic voice in the country. He's the who keeps on saying, let's hold elections. He's the one who keeps on saying, this should be a democracy. So what we're seeing is that in some countries in the Muslim world, if you let people vote, they will choose politicians who say they want Islam and that they want democracy. And that they want to work out the tensions between that for themselves. We can't force anything on them if they perceive, though, democracy is compatible with their values then it really has a chance to work still.

PILGRIM: That's a great criticism. Are we forcing democracy on Iraq in your opinion? FELDMAN: You can't force democracy on anybody because it involves choices for one's self. If we had said to the Iraqis you can't have a state where Islam plays a big role they'd say, well, the heck with you. We're not interested in hearing your view of democracy. We want our version of democracy. But I think that we're doing a reasonably good job of standing aside and letting the Iraqis make their own political choices. The problem is that they have to make those choices in an environment of no security. That's where our responsibility really does come in. Because we're the ones with the army, we're the ones with the chance of actually creating security in the country. They can't do that on their own.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much for explaining it to us tonight, Noah Feldman. Thank you.

Still ahead here tonight, "Securing America." Author Stephen Flynn tells us this country is still too vulnerable to radical Islamist terrorism and he's my guest next.


PILGRIM: My next guest says our government is simply failing to protect us from terrorism. Stephen Flynn has written a book about it and he calls it "America the Vulnerable." He's a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and joins me now. Thanks very much for joining us.

It's a scary book. I've read it cover to cover. It's a difficult message to absorb and yet an important one. Let's start with what's been done just recently. The intelligence reform bill. What is your assessment of that measure and will it help to protect us going forward?

STEPHEN FLYNN, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN THE VULNERABLE": There's little question that we have to get our intelligence house in order. We've seen with the 9/11 commission's report just how badly broken things are. But I think it's important Americans understand that it will probably be years before we get the kind of specific intelligence that allows us to respond to the kind of threat we have. We're talking at least 5 to 10 years. In the interim we have to deal with the reality that we still have an enemy out there who wants to target us and will act in probably the next five-year window, almost certainly in the next five-year window. You have to look around and say what is valuable to us and what is vulnerable and how do we protect it. That, we really haven't done much, we haven't done near the work we need to do on it.

PILGRIM: Some of the chilling data you come up with is on our nation's ports. How do you assess what's going on there?

FLYNN: Well, there's been some progress in that we've now got it on the radar screen and there's consensus not just here at home but abroad that we're all tied to this together and we have to adopt some standards. The reality on the ground in terms of the capability we have to police what moves through the system remains a daunting challenge. There are about 18 million containers in circulation at any given time. These are the forty foot by eight foot by eight foot boxes that carry up to 32 tons of goods and they move around the world and jump from trains to trucks to ships like Leggo blocks being interchanged. They are manufactured in the retailing sector and there's very little security in the system. Virtually everybody involved in the industry knows it's wide open. There's concern not just that this could be the poor man's missile, but it also would be, if something happened, our response would to be shut trade down to sort it all out. That's the big message when I say where we're failing at. We're failing to make your society more resilient to the inevitability of these attacks, to be able to respond that we have the intellectual, the emotional and physical preparation for coping with terrorists, so we don't lose our heads when these attacks happen as they inevitably will.

PILGRIM: That's a great point. You know, all the way up to the election, there was some discussion that something might happen to derail the election. I remember sitting and talking to you about this and yet nothing did happen. And so shoulders dropped and people focused on Christmas and yet do you think that the focus has gone away from an attack, that the chances of attack are lessened because it did not happen when expected?

FLYNN: I think whoever is the new next secretary of homeland security will have to deal with this issue of complacency as we move every month and year away from the 9/11 event. But I really think that the focus on the election on political events like our conventions is misdiagnosing what the real threat is. Osama bin Laden has been quite vocal about this lately, which is really economic warfare. Going after the things we depend upon for our way of life, our transportation systems, our finance networks, our energy system, these are the new targets of tomorrow. Not just political conventions, not targets like the Capitol and White House. We can't go into this episodic response. We have to think about how we make this a natural part of our life without losing our heads, without surrendering our civil liberties, without disrupting our marketplace.

PILGRIM: I was involved in a few conversations recently where people said we're now greatly relieved that the Osama bin Laden focus is now on Saudi Arabia because of the most recent tape. Do you think that that tape takes the focus off of the United States or not?

FLYNN: I think we really have two sets of issues here. We always have to be worried about the specific tactical decisions made by al Qaeda, our current threat. But the fact is al Qaeda has become a movement away from an organization. We recognize in the intelligence world somewhere around the order of 30 imitator groups operating in about 60 countries. So what's clear and 9/11 illustrated is that a very low cost attack on our critical infrastructure and civil society you can get a big bang for your buck. It's the warfare of the 21st century. Still today we're spending about a nickel on every dollar we spend on traditional national security. The election where we missed, I think, both candidates, was to treat it as, if we do it over there we don't have to fight it here. We heard two different versions of how to do that. The reality of the world we're in is we have to do it in both places. We have to have a defense as well as an offense. PILGRIM: Stephen Flynn, author of "America the Vulnerable." Thanks so much.

A reminder to vote in tonight's poll. What do you believe is the best way to solve the farm worker shortage? To raise wages, allow more illegal aliens or mechanization? Cast your vote at and we'll bring you the results in a few minutes.

Ahead, also, a new development in the governor's race in Washington state nearly two months after the election. We'll have that story when I'm joined by two top political journalists next so stay with us.


PILGRIM: I'm now joined by two of our favorite political journalists. Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" and Bill Schneider, CNN senior political analyst: Thanks for joining us, gentlemen. Bill, let's start with you. I know you have something new on the Washington state recount stuff.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. Since my earlier report, the Associated Press is now reporting that Democrat Christine Gregoire has won the hand recount for governor of Washington state by a whopping 130 votes. This is the third count in that race. And the first time the Democrat has been ahead and, by law, the final recount in that race.

PILGRIM: So there are no more chapter to this saga?

SCHNEIDER: Not necessarily. The vote will not be certified until next Friday. And Republicans are arguing, as I reported earlier, that they have 10 days for citizens to challenge that count and Democrats are saying, maybe not. This could go on, if the Republicans choose to challenge it.

PILGRIM: All right. Let's move on to another domestic issue, which is the whole entire domestic agenda going forward. We've had such serious news out of Iraq lately. It has just claimed the headlines and the attention of the American people, yet we have a strong domestic agenda that must go forward. Social Security being one of the big issues. Ron, do you think we'll be able to move forward on this or will Iraq continue to claim our attention?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Events will determine how much attention Iraq claims. If Iraq continues to dominate the news to the extent it has especially with this kind of difficult news it does create complications for the president. One of the clearest powers of the presidency is the ability to set the public agenda. Especially to move the media toward focusing on what he is concerned about. Obviously, that is enormously diminished by what's happening in Iraq. And Iraq is also exerting a cost or exacting a cost on his approval rating. Especially among Democrats. The president is in an extraordinary position where in the period between re-election and inauguration, his approval rating has sunk below 50 percent, down about 15 percent among Democrats. That gives them less leverage in pressuring Senate Democrats, some of whose votes he will need to get to 60 to pass the key elements of his agenda.

PILGRIM: Bill, Bush nominee Alberto Gonzales is in the spotlight because of a memo he wrote to his White House legal counsel talking about new definitions of torture and the Geneva Convention provisions which he called quaint and talking about special people for war on terror, special rules for war on terror. Do you think this will be a big issue going forward?

SCHNEIDER: In his confirmation hearings, of course it will especially because new documents, not pictures this time, but documents have come to light showing that there was much more widespread and systematic use of interrogation tactics that even the FBI doesn't use against suspects all over Iraq in various places, not just in Abu Ghraib. This is bound to come up in the confirmation hearings. Mr. Gonzales, as the White House counsel, appeared to justify the use of some of these questionable tactics. He said he wasn't certain that the Geneva Convention would apply to a war on terror which is not a war against another country but against some kind of a broad, amorphous movement. And there might have been a systematic policy. So all of this, all of this is going to come out in his confirmation hearings.

PILGRIM: The ACLU releasing several thousand pages of documents in which FBI agents complained about the prisoner abuse starting in 2002. The Abu Ghraib incidents are not going to go away, are they?

SCHNEIDER: No. Absolutely not. And that looks like just one part of this problem.


BROWNSTEIN: I think also, you know, with Alberto Gonzales it's fascinating. I suspect that in the end he'll be confirmed at attorney general, as an Hispanic choice there will be Democrats reluctant to oppose him even if they have objections. But this may only be round one. He's someone who is considered on the short list for a potential Supreme Court nomination someday from the president and these issues may be something that we hear about now and also later.

PILGRIM: Do you think that there should be some sort of Senate inquiry into the Guantanamo Bay situation? Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat visited the detention center in Cuba this week and he told reporters that Gonzales should face questions about -- from the Senate judiciary committee and also should there be more inquiry into this issue?

BROWNSTEIN: Kitty, it's really a broad question. We now have obviously unified Republican control of both Houses of Congress and the White House. There has been an ongoing issue about how much oversight these -- the Republicans have been willing to impose on the president, how much willingness to ask tough questions of the administration. It's been -- it's varied enormously. The -- at various points last year, House Republicans complained that Senate Republicans were being too aggressive in monitoring and holding hearings on the Abu Ghraib situation. So I think there's a real division of opinion within Republican ranks. Some argue that holding these kinds of tough hearings are only embarrassing to the administration and provides ammunition for its enemies. Other believe that this is what's necessary to prevent problems from festering and growing worse and that ultimately the Congress has this responsibility. I don't think that's been settled at all.

PILGRIM: Which will be discussed going forward. I'm afraid we must call it quits there. Ron Brownstein and Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Still ahead, tonight's poll results. A preview of what's ahead tomorrow. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Here are the results of tonight's poll. 68 percent of you believe that raising wages is the best way to solve the farm worker shortage. Five percent say allow more illegal aliens. 26 percent say mechanization. Thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow and we'll have our special report Holiday Homefront on the many Americans spreading joy to our troops overseas. Also the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize Wangari Maathi is our guest and Salvation Army Commissioner W. Todd Bassett joins us to talk about Target's ban on red kettles outside its stores. Good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.


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