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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Bodies of Missing U.S. Soldiers Found
Aired June 20, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, two mutilated booby-trapped bodies found in Iraq, believed to be the two U.S. soldiers missing since Friday's attack on their checkpoint near Baghdad. Were their brutal deaths revenge for the U.S. killing of al Qaeda's chief in Iraq two weeks ago? We'll ask Major General William Caldwell, spokesman for the combined forces in Iraq and we'll talk with friends and family of the two soldiers believed to have been killed. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, sad news out of Iraq. Joining us in studio for the full hour with me is John Roberts, CNN's senior national correspondent. And we begin in this segment in Baghdad with Major General Bill Caldwell, a spokesman for the multinational force in Iraq. What can you tell us, General Caldwell, right up to date? What's the full story here?
MAJ. GEN. BILL CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE: Well, Larry, let me, if I could, first say our condolences go out to the families of those three soldiers that we lost here since Friday night as part of that operation. The two that obviously were missing and then specialist Babineau who was also on site with them. At this point we have recovered what we believe to be the remains of our two soldiers. We have taken them back already on the airplane, and they are en route back to the United States at this point, where we'll do further testing, DNA testing, to verify that it is in fact them.
KING: What has been said to their families?
CALDWELL: I have not talked personally, obviously, to the officers and the NCOs who showed up at those homes to talk with them, but we did explain to them that we do know that the bodies of those two soldiers did show signs of severe trauma, that the nature of this anti-Iraqi force element we're facing is one of a brutal nature and that the remains are going to require DNA testing for conclusive evidence that is in fact their loved ones.
KING: Will you tell us -- and John Roberts I know will have a question or two -- about where the remains were first spotted?
CALDWELL: Well, fortunately for us out there, Larry, as we were operating in that Yusufiya area, which is a very hot spot in Iraq, probably about the third or fourth most difficult area to operate in in Iraq, we had a lot of local Iraqis who came forth, really at their own peril, and provided us information about -- as they say 66 tips from the local Iraqis. And it was from one of those tips that they were able to point us exactly to the location where we found our -- what we believe to be our two soldiers.
KING: Were they in uniform?
CALDWELL: Obviously, because of the nature of the state in which we found them, it's difficult to make a positive identification of who they are at this point, and we'll send them back to Dover for further testing.
KING: John Roberts?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Major General Caldwell, I'm interested in a couple of things. First of all, the nature of the placement of the bodies with improvised explosive devices around them. There are some reports that the bodies themselves were booby-trapped. It's my understanding it's not the first time that this has happened with U.S. servicemen or women. There was a helicopter shoot down recently in which there were some booby traps laid. But it does seem to be a different sort of MO for the insurgency. And also, do you have any theories or explanations as to why the bodies were dumped so quickly and why the insurgents who kidnapped these two young men didn't try to extract some sort of propaganda value out of their kidnapping?
CALDWELL: Well, one thing we do know is that the 4th infantry division put a massive search on immediately after finding out that our -- we had two soldiers missing. In other words, we called it duty status whereabouts unknown at that point on Friday night, and by Saturday had literally almost moved 8,000 coalition forces and Iraqi and army, police, and security forces down in that location and clamped down the area. So the possibility for them to move them out of there almost became impossible at that point, and when you look at the amount of hours that were flown by both the United States Air Force and other aerial assets, about 400 flight hours of fixed wing, about 200 hours of UAVs and if you look over a 72-hour period, we were continuously monitoring the air with multiple intelligence sources up there looking around. When you look at the effort that was put in, I mean we lost I think you probably heard one of our - one coalition force and had 12 wounded in the efforts to find these two missing soldiers. We had a armored vehicle destroyed, another seven damaged. I mean, it was an intensive, concerted effort. There were secondary effects out of this, though, because it's a bad area. So we also turned up a lot.
ROBERTS: So I take it what you're saying is is the heat must have been on, or may have been on to such a degree that these insurgents didn't have a chance to try to make videotapes, try to get some sort of propaganda value out of broadcasting the condition of the soldiers. There's also been a suggestion that perhaps because of Zarqawi's death that al Qaeda in Iraq is somewhat splintered now and there may have been a, if you will, lack of sophistication on the part of the kidnappers here, that they didn't really know how to get the most out of what they had.
CALDWELL: Well, what we do know is, you know, on this past Friday morning, we took out Sheik Mansour (ph), probably one of the top five key operatives here in Iraq, another member of the al Qaeda in Iraq network, who operated out of the Yusufiya area himself. We know he's also a prime media person. So we may have in fact started disrupting that unknowingly as early as Friday morning when we went down, took down Sheik Mansour. So that entire network probably became very disorganized by Friday night. Whatever operation they had planned, did not go as well as they had hoped.
KING: General, has this in any way affected morale?
CALDWELL: You know, Larry, we are always saddened by the loss of any innocent civilian and any American soldier or coalition force that we lose. No question. But I think what we proved was in the army we have these four warrior ethoses. And one of them is we will never leave a fallen comrade. And if anything, that just demonstrated to our young men and women out there who are getting at it each and every day that we will never leave them and we will never forget them by this intensive search they saw launched to find our two missing soldiers.
KING: Were any -- was anybody killed in the search?
CALDWELL: We did lose one American soldier in the search, and we had seven wounded.
KING: Do you see this as revenge for the killing of Zarqawi?
CALDWELL: Larry, you know, for a long time the anti-Iraqi forces here have always stated they would like to get -- seize American soldiers as hostages. I mean, it's a threat that we're constantly faced with. I'd be speculating to say whether or not that was a direct result. We had not seen any intelligence per se to indicate that that kind of activity would occur right there, but it's something we're always aware of and know can occur.
ROBERTS: Major General Caldwell, it's John Roberts again. The military has strict protocols to try to prevent such an event as happened on Friday night from occurring. Soldiers are not allowed to travel alone. Vehicles are not allowed to travel alone. The situation as we understand it is when the checkpoint came under fire, one Humvee chased after the insurgents into an orchard, leaving the other one behind. Were those protocols followed during that engagement on Friday night?
CALDWELL: John, obviously, the division commander is looking into this entire situation, just like you would anytime we lose an American soldier out there, to ascertain if there's any tactics techniques, and procedures we need to change or modify and so they're looking at this one very closely. There were not two Humvees there initially and one left, as been speculated. We believe we just had the one vehicle down there at the checkpoint at the time that this occurred. But the division commander is thoroughly looking at this, and you can be sure that just like in every other situation, he's going to make whatever modifications, adjustments, changes that need to occur to ensure we don't have that same type of situation occur in the future.
ROBERTS: Do you expect that there's going to be any modifications as a result of this or at least a restatement of the guidelines?
CALDWELL: I think they've got a pretty good procedures and policies in place. The question is ,was it properly followed in this situation? And they're looking into that very closely.
KING: One other thing. What do you make of the postings on the Internet by the terrorists concerning this brutal slaying?
CALDWELL: We really can't tell at this time and we're looking at it closely, whether or not in fact they were directly responsible for it. Doesn't surprise that they would come up and say that, but we can't either confirm or deny it at this point, that they were responsible for the deaths of our two soldiers.
KING: Thanks, General. Good talking to you.
KING: Major General Bill Caldwell. John Roberts will remain with us. One note tomorrow night, nine Democratic women senators. They're going to make a major statement tomorrow. They're all going to be on LARRY KING LIVE tomorrow night. The nine Democratic women of the United States Senate will all be with us tomorrow night. And the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, will be with us on Thursday. And we'll be back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALDWELL: Coalition forces have in fact recovered what we believe to be the remains of our two soldiers that have been missing since Friday night. Our heartfelt prayers go out to both the families and friends of our two soldiers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom was a good boy. It just touched me that one of our own -- it's a little different when it hits close to home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now in Madras, Oregon is Brianna Keilar. Brianna is the CNN correspondent, Madras the hometown of the late, presumed late PFC Thomas Tucker. In Houston, Texas is Ed Lavandera, CNN correspondent. And Houston is the hometown of PFC Kristian Menchaca. In that regard with us also in Houston is Sylvia Grice, the cousin of Private Menchaca. Her mother is the sister of Kristian's mom. Kristian spent some years living with the family. And Gabriela Garcia, who is Private Menchaca's cousin and Sylvia's sister. You see both of them. Let's start with Brianna. Why is it so troublesome to get anyone in Madras to come forward to talk about Tom Tucker?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point understandably, Larry, the family is asking for privacy. But we've spoken to some family friends off camera, some on camera yesterday, but today they are wishing to remain silent. They say -- one in particular said that the family has asked him not to say anything, and they say they're respecting the family's wishes. They're going to wait until the family issues some sort of statement before they go ahead and speak with the media.
KING: Do you know, Brianna, what the authorities have officially said to the family?
KEILAR: No, we don't know at this point. We have some limited interaction with the Oregon National Guard representative who is serving as a liaison between the Tucker family and the media. But even so, that National Guard representative isn't really coming out and being on camera with us, either.
KING: Was Private Tucker well known throughout town?
KEILAR: Yeah, this is a town where only about 5500 people live within the city of Madras. It's one of those small communities where everybody knows each other. So anytime you talk to anyone, they know somebody in the family and they're familiar with what's going on. They're been following this. And they have a lot of very good positive things to say about both the family and about Tom Tucker, Larry.
KING: Ed Lavandera in Houston. Houston is much bigger than Madras. What's the reaction there to the loss of Kristian Menchaca?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, when the news -- when his name first surfaced here, this was a city that was dealing with all of the flash flooding yesterday. But even through that, something that was consuming virtually everyone's morning commute to work, I think through that was this night that was cutting through an emotion here in Houston. And it is a city, even though it is a city of millions of people, that I think was paying very close attention to what was happening with Private Menchaca's family.
KING: Sylvia Grice, a cousin of Private Menchaca.
SYLVIA GRICE, COUSIN OF PFC KRISTIAN MENCHACA: Hello.
KING: How hard is the family taking this?
GRICE: Well, very devastated. It is a great loss to us. Kristian was a great person, and he was very much loved by all of us.
KING: Gabriela, one of Kristian's uncles Tim McKenzie was very critical of the United States government this morning. Would you react to that?
GABRIELA GARCIA, COUSIN OF PFC KRISTIAN MENCHACA: He doesn't speak for Kristian's family. He's (INAUDIBLE) ours.
KING: He's what?
GARCIA: His views are not ours.
KING: Oh. So you disagree with him?
GARCIA: Well, he does not represent our family, nor does he represent Kristian Menchaca.
KING: Kristian just got married, didn't he?
GARCIA: Yes. Not too long ago.
KING: Have you seen his wife?
GARCIA: No. We never did get an opportunity to meet her. It was very recent.
KING: Have you heard word from the government at all as to when the body will be home?
GARCIA: They said two to three days.
KING: How were you informed?
GARCIA: Well, there's a soldier at his mother's house, and he's there, keeping them -- keeping her informed of any kind of information. The moment that they found the bodies, he was there, and he's going to stay there until they confirm that the one they found is him.
ROBERTS: Gabriela and Sylvia, it's John Roberts here with Larry and my extreme condolences to you for your loss. I'm sure -- as a parent of a young boy I know how difficult it must be to lose a family member to war. What was the family's thoughts about the fact that Kristian was going off to fight in Iraq?
GRICE: We were shocked. When he told us, when he had made his decision, obviously, we had a lot of concerns, and -- but his mind was made up. And he was that kind of person. When his mind was made up, he followed through with everything.
ROBERTS: Why did he join the military?
GRICE: A lot of different reasons. He was very proud to serve his country. He -- the camaraderie, the structure.
GARCIA: The challenge.
GRICE: The challenge. Absolutely.
ROBERTS: Did you support his decision to go to Iraq?
GRICE: Absolutely, 100 percent.
KING: Does his mother say she was against the war, Sylvia?
GRICE: His mother did not say she was against the war. She had the concerns that every parent has for their son going off to war. Don't go, what if. There's always the what if in the back of your mind. And as a concerned parent of course, she would have wanted for him to stay. But his decision had been made and we supported him.
KING: What can you tell us about him, Gabriela?
GARCIA: He was very reserved, 23 years old. Before he left, he was just as reserved but carefree. The last time we saw him, he was a lot more confident, more self-reliant. He's always been loyal but even more so. And I think that's part of the reason he also joined the army, because of the loyalty.
KING: So he changed?
GARCIA: Yes. He grew.
GRICE: He became a man.
KING: This is so hard. Ed Lavandera, have you made any contact with the mother?
LAVANDERA: We haven't. I've been speaking with many of the extended relatives that are here in the Houston area. He grew up in this neighborhood just north of Houston. And his family paints a very moving picture of what this young man overcame here in this neighborhood. They said he battled gangs, drugs. He was raised by his mother, didn't really know his father. And to hear them speak about developing that kind of confidence and becoming a man, when you hear these relatives speak like that, it is incredibly moving.
KING: Brianna, do you know when the remains of Thomas Tucker will return to Madras?
KEILAR: No, Larry, we don't have that information at this point.
KING: Is the city planning any kind of memorial?
KEILAR: We asked people that around town today and they said that just having heard the news this morning, they're still very much in shock and one woman in particular said she was expecting that there might be some services in the coming day or so but right now she said people are just only, really starting to begin to grieve and they don't even really know what to do with their emotions, Larry.
KING: Thank you all very much. Thanks for being with us. We know this was very, very difficult. We really appreciate it. When we come back, John Roberts remains and we'll be joined by a panel that will include Arwa Damon, our CNN correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Weisskopf of "Time" magazine, and Congressman Chris Shays and Congresswoman Jane Harmon. All that ahead. We'll also include your phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIO VASQUEZ, UNCLE OF PFC KRISTIAN MENCHACA: I used to see him before. He was a boy. I mean, he just wanted to have fun. And after he came back, at the end of April, beginning of May, was when he said I'm ready, I'm tough, I can do anything they ask me to do. That's what I'm there for to defend his country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An early withdrawal before we completed the missions would say to the United States military, your sacrifices are going in vain. There will be no early withdrawal so long as we run the Congress and occupy the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now joining us from Baghdad is Arwa Damon, the CNN correspondent who's been on the story from the get-go. Remaining with us here in New York is John Roberts, CNN senior national correspondent. And joining us from Washington, Michael Weisskopf from "Time" magazine. He's their senior correspondent. He lost a hand in Iraq in December of 2003 and is author of the forthcoming book "Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57." What's a ward, Michael?
MICHAEL WEISSKOPF, TIME SR. CORRESPONDENT: It's the amputee center at Walter Reed, Larry, where I was the first reporter ever to receive treatment after being wounded in a war.
KING: It's that kind of ward.
WEISSKOPF: Ward, yeah.
KING: All right. We'll start with you, Michael, and then go around. What do you make of this story of the two boys, the other one that was killed before they were tortured and killed and the subsequent reaction to it?
WEISSKOPF: It tells me a lot about what's happening in the insurgency movement in Iraq right now, Larry. Clearly, this was an effort to demonstrate bragging rights by the new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. This kind of brutality is the trademark for his organization. It is -- comes after Zarqawi's death and a obvious grab for power by this man. This is an organization, even within it the so-called council of holy warriors, which is small in number, but large in shock effect and dramatic emotion and certainly seizing and mutilating the bodies of American soldiers is quintessential al Qaeda stuff.
KING: Before we get John's thoughts, Arwa, what's the latest in Baghdad? What's the government saying about this?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Iraqi government hasn't really actually come out with an official statement just yet. Perhaps they are just taking a back seat for now, you know, letting the U.S. military come forward and tell the story. When the story first came out, it did come out from Iraq's ministry of defense and actually the ministry of defense was very quickly quieted by the Iraqi government. It does not really fall into their court to be breaking this story. So we haven't really heard anything from the government just yet, perhaps just stepping into the back, allowing the U.S. military to take the lead in telling this story given that it is two of their own.
KING: John Roberts, what does this do to public opinion, the way they were killed. Will it affect polls?
ROBERTS: You know, Larry, it could be a 50-50 split. You could see a situation in which the brutal kidnapping and murder of these two individuals and the desecration of their bodies could harden many people's resolve to say we have to stay in Iraq, we have to beat these guys, we have to respond, and we have to get rid of the terrorist insurgency in Iraq. And then there are probably just as many people on the other side, and I imagine that Congressman John Murtha would be among them, who say this is another reason why we need to get the troops away from Iraq, get them deployed outside of the country, because they are the target. They are the reason that these groups are fighting. So I think it's probably split right down the middle.
KING: Historically, Michael Weisskopf, why are they so brutal?
WEISSKOPF: There has been civil strife, clashes between the two main religious groups, Shia and Sunni, for centuries. And they have been dominated by tyrants such as Saddam. And Saddam of course ruled by terror, and that became a kind of culture in Iraq. His two sons were brutal lieutenants of his. And the way you maintain control is often through this horrific abuse of human nature and people respond in kind. It becomes a bit contagious.
KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll be including your phone calls. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night, the nine Democratic women of the United States Senate. Senator Clinton and others. They'll all be with us, all nine Democratic women senators. Regis Philbin on Friday and Thursday night. We are diversified, Robert Mueller, the head of the FBI. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. John Roberts, does this portend more to come?
ROBERTS: It would seem to fulfill a promise that was made by Abu Ayyub al-Masri or Muhajir, whichever name you want to use, who is the new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq who said shortly after he was named as the successor to al-Zarqawi, that the program of terror that was set down by al-Zarqawi will continue, the beheadings will continue, the killings will continue.
And it's a terrible tragedy anytime anyone is killed in battle by bullets, by bombs, but it's another thing when a soldier is kidnapped and beheaded and his body left out there for all to see. And it shocks people in the West.
You know, these are the old ways of the ancient world, and it's not something that people in the West are used to. And you asked me before, could it change public opinion? I'm sure among some people they will say we don't want our children to be a part of that. But then again, other people will say this just really sort of solidifies our resolve that we have to finish this.
KING: Michael Weisskopf, how does this end?
WEISSKOPF: Well, if you see this as a raging fire, the question is whether it's out of control or can be still contained, and the hope is that -- by those in the administration that the fire will burn itself out. Others believe it will keep raging until it destroys everything on the ground.
The question, of course, for us is what's being debated in the Senate right now, and that is how long do we stay the course? And will we be better off years from now pulling out than we are today? And will the fire be contained before we pull out? And once we do pull out like in Vietnam, how long will it take for these very tribal animosities to end up rearing themselves again and consume the country?
KING: Arwa, what will be the impact on the government in Iraq the new government?
DAMON: Well, it really depends, Larry. I mean, these kinds of incidences, the fact that soldiers were killed, as tragic as it is, is really an awful part of what is now daily life here. Violence literally is a part of daily life. Bombs, bullets, assassinations, ambushes like the ones that did see that happened Friday night that led to the deaths of these two soldiers.
They're such a part of this abnormal life that exists in Iraq right now that the government is surely to come out, condemn what happened, renew its vows that it will go after insurgent groups, renew that great promise that it made to the Iraqi people of security and stability that will eventually allow U.S. troops to withdraw, but it really is just a part of what has now become normal here in Iraq.
KING: Let's include some calls. We go to St. Petersburg, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Yes. I have several questions. First of all, my condolences go out to all three families. Very little has been said about the one that was murdered. Mostly all the concentration has been on the two soldiers that were captured. Furthermore, I would like to know why the president has not come out and made some kind of comment on this?
KING: OK. Michael Weisskopf, do you think -- well, he'll probably -- do you think he'll make one soon?
WEISSKOPF: It's a big decision, when the president responds like this. And because he -- in a way his voice is need in order to serve as condolence to the parents, but every time he comes out like this is in a way -- affirms the importance of the insurgency and horrific acts like this. So he has to be very careful not to play into the hands of the people who really perpetrated this.
KING: John, don't you think the public expects him to?
ROBERTS: In certain circumstances, yes. But the president can't come out every time there is a death of a serviceman or woman in Iraq and acknowledge it.
KING: No matter how horrific?
ROBERTS: It all, again, depends on the circumstances. Perhaps if you had a massive loss of life with a helicopter or a transport plane downing, the president might mention something about it. But as Michael said, he has to be very judicious about this because it does give more credence to what the terrorists are doing and if the president responds personally to a tragedy such as this it may embolden them to try to do this more often.
KING: Arwa, has the government in Iraq made public statements?
DAMON: Other than what we initially heard from the ministry of defense in which they're the ones that actually broke the news that these two bodies had been found before the military could release that information themselves, other than that the government has not said much just yet.
And probably because it was in certain ways inappropriate for them to be breaking the news about U.S. soldiers. They have taken something of a back seat in this. But we can assume that in the upcoming days they will come forward, they will renew their promises to continue operations, and there are operations in that area that are ongoing to try to root out the insurgent cells that exist down there in that same area, the Triangle of Death.
KING: Michael, shouldn't they say something?
WEISSKOPF: There must be a certain amount of jaw dropping going on here, Larry, because on a daily basis, maybe many times a day, there are events of equal horribleness really imposed upon ordinary Iraqis, and their families grieve just as the families of the soldiers in this case grieve.
And there is a certain symbolic bomb effect of something like this because it effects a couple of U.S. soldiers, but the Iraqis see it on a daily basis. And they may see in this case, they may think of it in this case as a U.S. affair, something for U.S. politicians and office holders to deal with, not them.
KING: We're going to take a break, and when we come back, we'll spend some moments as well with Congressman Chris Shays, Republican of Connecticut, and Congresswoman Jane Harmon, Democrat of California. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: The enemy's effort to plunge Iraq into chaos will not succeed. Slowly freedom is gaining ground. The Iraqi people are emerging from three decades of brutal repression and claiming their right to stand among Democratic nations. SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: This war has taken too long. It's too expensive and cost too many lives and too many soldiers injured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Congresswoman Jane Harman on Capitol Hill, what's your read on these killings?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Oh, tragic. Three families and 25 other families have suffered grievous losses. But we need to resolve now, Larry, to change our strategy in Iraq.
I would call it cut and win. I think we should be redeploying troops now on a schedule set by the generals, focusing on achievable political objectives.
And I should add one more thing. It's time to have regime change at the Defense Department. A new secretary of defense will help change our strategy, and then we will win and honor those deaths and honor the people who still serve and honor our country.
KING: And Congressman Shays, Republican of Connecticut, how do you see it?
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Well, my heart goes out to the Menchaca family and the Tucker family, but Larry, we attacked Iraq, we obliterated their army, their police and their border patrol. I don't see how we can leave until we replace and give them the security to protect themselves. And so we made huge mistakes in the beginning, but when we transferred power in June of 2004 and have been training their police and their border patrol, let me just say that only 42 percent of the Iraqi people are now protected by their own people. And I don't think we can leave and set timelines until we cover more of the territory with Iraqis.
KING: Jane Harman, do you think you're going to see more of this?
HARMAN: I think we're going to see more of it regardless of what we do, but that's why we need a new strategy in Iraq. We did create a failed state. Chris is exactly right. We have a moral obligation to leave the place in better shape than we found it.
But we're not achieving that. Sadly, these deaths will be replicated, more to come, unless we change the strategy. That's why I say, start redeploying now.
I'm not talking about a deadline. Let the generals decide that. But focus on political objectives, helping this government deliver services, helping this government disarm the Shia militias, and helping the Sunnis buy into this government. Those objectives will cut down the insurgency, enable this government to succeed. Then we leave, achieving the success we have dreamed of. KING: Before we get the thoughts of our panel, Congressman Shays, can you cut and win?
SHAYS: What we can do is doing what we're doing. Train more and more Iraqis so that they can replace our troops. But to leave before they can do that and to leave the remaining American troops with less of their fellow Americans there to help them I think doesn't make sense. So I mean, we have a clear difference.
You know, what I'm concerned about is this has become a Republican-Democrat thing. I mean, if you're Joe Lieberman, you're attacked because you believe that we need to complete the task. And I just don't understand why it's gotten so political.
KING: John Roberts, are you more pessimistic or more optimistic?
ROBERTS: Well, it's not my job to be either pessimistic or optimistic. But I would like to ask Congresswoman Harman, how is it, Ms. Harman, that the Democrats can't speak with one voice on this? You have one group who says stay the course. You have another group who says start redeploying at the end of this year. You have another group who says everybody out by July 1st, 2007. Even Senator Harry Reid today said, I think that even though we have at least two positions, I think if you look at them closely they're both basically the same. You know, this is back to the repeated criticism of Democrats, that it's like herding cats to get you all on the same page.
HARMAN: Well, I don't think that Democrats are speaking with such different voices. I sat on the floor for most of the 10 hours last week, and I think every Democrat who spoke wanted to change the strategy. That's what I'm talking about. That's what we're all talking about. We may differ...
KING: You have different ways to do it, right?
HARMAN: ... about precisely how to do it, but this strategy has failed, and sadly these additional deaths are testament to the failed strategy. These folks were honorable. We should honor their sacrifice by changing the strategy, cutting and winning.
KING: Michael Weisskopf, do you see any light at the end of this tunnel?
WEISSKOPF: Well, I hear one side talking about cutting and winning, the other side staying for a while and winning. The question in my mind is what does winning mean? And interestingly, that's an issue not really defined or discussed in the Congress today.
Is winning having a Jeffersonian kind of democracy? Is it just some kind of confederacy of three major ethnic groups? Is it keeping al Qaeda out of Iraq? These are larger issues that need to be determined.
SHAYS: Larry, could I jump in?
KING: Congressman Shays, go ahead.
SHAYS: Winning is the following. We eliminated their police, their border patrol and their army. We need to replace it so this newly elected government -- that their elections have put our elections to shame. Seventy-six percent of the Iraqi people voted in the last election. They have a viable government. They have a coalition government.
What we can't do is leave before they can protect themselves. And when I ask Iraqis -- I've been there 12 times -- every time I ask them their biggest fear, it's that you will leave us, that you will leave us before we can grab hold of democracy and defend ourselves.
KING: Hold it. Hold it. Arwa, you're in Baghdad. Is that correct?
DAMON: It's not so much a fear of is the U.S. going to leave, but it is to a certain degree in some areas, actually, because of the sectarian violence that is happening now and because of the lack of faith that there is an Iraq security forces, the U.S. has found itself in a position where it's kind of playing go-between. It's go-between the Iraqi people and Iraqi security forces.
When a police officer knocks on an Iraqi citizen's door and the citizen is going to answer, they actually don't know if that's a real police officer or a member of a militia.
KING: We only have 30 seconds.
DAMON: It depends really...
KING: Thanks, Arwa. John, you wanted to say something?
ROBERTS: I was just going to say, you know, that the complaint that Congressman Shays alluded to was a complaint that I heard on March 23rd, 2003, as the company of Marines that I was going through southern Iraq with during the actual invasion was going through these little towns, and the townsfolk there said please don't leave us behind, because if you do the bad guys are going to come back and kill us.
HARMAN: But, Larry, being target practice in a civil war is not winning. What we have to do is stop the insurgency and stand up this government, let it deliver services. That's what winning is.
KING: Thank you all very much.
When we come back, Anderson Cooper will join us with a little preview of tonight's big show. Thank you all as a panel.
Tomorrow night, the nine Democratic women of the United States Senate. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: The vice president and president of Iraq said, we want a timetable for you to get out. I think that'll send a signal to the rest of the world, that we're finally serious about the Iraqis taking over.
President Bush himself said it's time for the Iraqis to step up.
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: The strategy there needs to be to win, not to withdraw. Withdrawal follows victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: What was it like actually giving birth? I mean, you had two children through adoption. What was it like?
ANGELINA JOLIE, UN AMBASSADOR: We ended up having -- she was in breach. I ended up having a cesarean, so it was very quick. It was -- and.
COOPER: Brad was in the operating room?
JOLIE: He was in the operating room, yes, yes. And we had amazing doctors and everybody was so lovely. And you know, you're just -- because you're there for the birth, which I wasn't for my first two kids, you're just suddenly terrified that they're not going to take a first breath.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Anderson Cooper joins us. The interview with Angelina Jolie will be airing in about eight minutes. Got to ask this. You're talking more about the interview than the interview. Are you getting a little tired of it?
COOPER: I'm ready for the interview to actually just, you know, play out.
KING: What's on tomorrow night?
COOPER: We'll have John Kerry on tomorrow, actually. And Cher is also on tomorrow, interestingly enough.
But yes, no, it is a fascinating interview, and it's really -- not only are we kind of taking people on a journey into Angelina Jolie's life and her family life and her passion, but we're also taking them on a journey into the lives of some 15 million people around the world, refugees, children.
KING: Today is World Refugee Day.
COOPER: Today is World Refugee Day. These people's lives who most people will never get a sense of what their lives are really like. And it's something -- we're kind of showing you in a very visceral, real way taking you to the front lines of this crisis and showing you the things that Angelina Jolie has seen and which have really shaped her life and her family's life.
KING: What makes her fascinating?
COOPER: You know, I think she's just a combination of things. I didn't know her personally, had never met her before, but she's smart, she is well informed, she's funny, she's -- despite being in the midst of this cult of celebrity, she's very down to earth and very focused on trying to, you know, just make a difference in -- however she can.
KING: She's also, as she was when on this program, at times in her life a little wacky, wore the blood of Billy Bob.
COOPER: Well, I remember, I read the transcript of when she was on your program, and she showed like the blood on the thing, and I guess it was -- you were asking was it like a finger prick and she was like yes, something like that.
But that Angelina Jolie -- I never met her back then, but that's not the impression I got of her now. And what she talks about in the interview is how her life has changed, and really it is through this work that she's been doing.
When she started going to Sierra Leone and met a 3-year-old child who'd had their hands cut -- literally cut off by rebels, you know, she talks about going back to her life in Hollywood and kind of seeing it all differently.
KING: Why do you think the public is so fascinated with her?
JOLIE: You know, I think it's a mix of things. Obviously, she's incredibly beautiful. She's had this fascinating tumultuous life and you know, doing as you said some kind of wacky things in the past.
And yet I think the public is fascinated by people who evolve and change before their eyes. And I think she seems to have evolved. And again, I don't know her personally, but she seems to be, you know, changing, and I think people like watching that and feel part of it in some way.
KING: Let's show another clip from the interview. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOLIE: You start to think, how do you deal with trafficking? How do you deal with civil wars? How do you deal with them? You start to realize it's all that so many of these people -- and it happens in countries where people are vulnerable and desperate and don't have the resources and don't have any option for any other kind of life and probably don't have an education.
So you start to realize like this is where we need to invest our money, which we all kind of know that. We need people not fighting over resources. We need them all to have enough. We need there to be basic education for everybody. Because there are proven statistics on how that changes your life. How your chances of getting AIDS, your chances of everything, as a woman or as a man, even getting the child soldiers, just your chances of having a more solid life.
COOPER: Education is key.
JOLIE: If you're educated. And so for that, and then just basic resources that people need to survive, like food and shelter. There would be less violence, there would be less of all the things going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You know, we should have reshown our interview tonight. What a difference.
COOPER: Maybe this weekend you should reshow it.
KING: That's a thought.
COOPER: I read the transcript of the interview. And to -- to prepare for this interview and it was like a different person in many ways. I mean, the level of commitment to something other than her own life was significant.
KING: Do you think, frankly, there's a kind of -- the interest in her is not in refugees?
COOPER: Well, look, of course, most people are interested in the details of...
KING: Brad Pitt.
COOPER: Right, of course. There's no doubt about that. But I think she knows that and yet she still tries to kind of shift that focus as much as she can.
I mean, I think it's why she came, frankly, to do the interview on my show. She knows I'm interested in refugee causes, I work a lot in Africa, and she knew we would be you know, doing, you know, a serious look at the stuff that she's been doing and talk about her family as well.
KING: Is it all taped or are you going to do a live wraparound?
COOPER: I'll be live, and we have live reports from people in refugee camps around the globe. It should be interesting.
KING: See you in three minutes.
COOPER: OK, thanks, Larry.
KING: Anderson Cooper. And we'll give it to him in three minutes. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night we're in Washington with the nine Democratic women of the United States Senate. We're in Washington Thursday with the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller and then back in L.A. Friday with Regis Philbin. That's it for tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Anderson Cooper, "A.C. 360" with Angelina Jolie is next.
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