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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Dick Cheney

Aired June 22, 2006 - 19:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much. To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States, and around the world, to bring you tonight's top stories.
Happening now, the Senate and the Pentagon say this is no time for a timetable on troop cuts. It's 3:00 a.m. in Iraq. The toll mounts for American forces, but the military offers dramatic evidence of a big success against the insurgents. He calls himself the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. It's 7 p.m. here in Washington, where Vice President Dick Cheney feels free to say whatever he wants. My exclusive interview coming up.

And a century ago, a massive earthquake destroyed San Francisco, a decade ago, another twisted freeways near Los Angeles. It is 4 p.m. in California. When will the next big one hit?

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm John King. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, U.S. troops in Iraq have their marching ordering from Washington. Carry on. The Senate rejected two competing Democratic plans to begin bringing the troops home and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shot down speculation there might be a forced reduction announced today. Our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre is standing by, but first up, our Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, one of those Democratic measures, offered by John Kerry, would have had all combat troops home by next year. That got just 13 Democratic votes. The other got most Democratic support. And that simply said that they would have a phased in troop withdraw begin this year.

Now, the debate though, in general, was really about teeing up the campaign for this coming November. And when it comes to Republicans, they made very clear during this debate, their strategy is what it was in 2004. That is to try to say that anybody, any Democrat, specifically Democrats, who say a time line is what is needed in Iraq is simply trying to -- or in the end would probably hurt America's security because they would, in the words of Republicans, give terrorists an idea of what the American strategy is in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: Both of these amendments, the amendment from the senator from Michigan, the senator from Massachusetts, would send a message which would indicate there's some wavering, some equivocation, here at home in supporting our president, the commander in chief.

And that goes to the basic credibility of the United States of America, which is on the line in these votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, Democrats aren't exactly united on the big issue that they debated, which is a time line for troop withdraw. They did try to rally around one single point, and that is they believe that Americans are fed up with what they call an open-ended commitment in Iraq, the status quo. They tried to pain Republicans as staying - they say staying the course, they are complicit in what they believe Americans see as a misguided Bush Iraq policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID, (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: But it is morally treasonable to the American people. Let me repeat that Madam President. That we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it's morally treasonable to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, Democrats say you look at the polls, it shows an overwhelming majority, certainly of Democrats, but even of Americans, in general, are with them on the issue of troop withdraw. The one pole says that the majority of Americans believe that they should come home, even within the next 12 months.

But talking to some Democrats who are really focused on getting Democrats elected in November, taking control, they hope, of the Congress, they believe that perhaps there was a strategic error in the way they framed this debate, about troop withdraw and not where they think they really can win, which is making this about President Bush and making this specifically his war and the need for accountability and oversight over the White House -- John.

KING: Interesting point. We'll see how this plays out between June and November elections. Dana Bash on Capitol Hill.

Dana, thank you very much.

The Pentagon says, don't save the date, there's no troop cut on the calendar. This comes as losses mount for U.S. forces in Iraq and for the insurgents. Let's go live for more to our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE McINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, General George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said today he remains confident that there will be fewer U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of the year than there are now, but he won't say how many fewer and how soon those troop cuts might come about.

Pentagon sources tell CNN that one idea under consideration is to hold back one or two brigades that were scheduled to rotate into Iraq. That would reduce the number of troops by between 6,000 and 10,000, depending on which brigades they selected. Again, no final decision.

This comes on a day when the U.S. military says it may have killed a terrorist leader who could have been involved in the planning of that assault that resulted in the murder, the brutal murder of two American soldiers last week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

McINTYRE (voice over): It was Friday, earlier the same day that that two U.S. soldiers were captured in a fight with insurgents, that the U.S. military took out what they say was one of the top five Al Qaeda leaders Iraq.

This video shows the car of Sheikh Monsour being riddled with gunfire from U.S. attack helicopters, after his car was tracked from the air, after he was spotted meeting with other insurgents in Yusufiyah.

In an interview with CNN's Paula Zahn the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq says there may have been a connection.

MAJ. GEN. BILL CALDWELL, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: He may have been involved in the planning of it. There are indications that perhaps that incident that occurred Friday night had been well planned out. But we killed him Friday morning south of Yusufiyah. And then our two American soldiers were captured late Friday night, 7:55 p.m. on Friday night.

McINTYRE: The military still can't explain how the three soldiers in a single HUMVEE were left alone to guard a bridge in Yusufiyah, one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq. That would violate standard doctrine that vehicles must travel in convoys of threes.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, CMDR., MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: General Thurman, division commander, has directed an investigation to answer exactly those questions. I can't shed any more light on it.

McINTYRE: Pentagon sources say that part of the investigation is to check out reports from local Iraqis indicating the American unit might have split up after the initial attack. Something the military has been disputing for days. Casey says conditions are improving in Iraq and that the death of Sheik Monsour coming on the heels of the killing of Abu Musab Zarqawi and his spiritual advisor, shows the insurgency is in disarray.

CASEY: They're hurt, but they're not finished. And they won't be finished for some time.

(END VIDEOTAPE) McINTYRE: One thing General Casey is clear about. He does not favor a timetable. It would tie his hands, give heart to the enemy, and undercut the new Iraqi government -- John.

KING: Jamie McIntyre, even the general is weighing in on this political debate.

Jamie, thank you very much.

President Bush wrapped up his trip to Europe today, with a new pitch for Iraq's fledgling democracy, and with the Iran and North Korea threats on his radar. CNN's White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has been traveling with the president.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, President Bush is heading back to Washington where he faces growing frustration among Americans who no longer believe in a U.S. mission in Iraq. President Bush is certainly hoping the support he got here overseas will diminish some of those concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: President Bush commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising against Communist rule, with a wreath at Budapest's Eternal Flame. His quick stop here to highlight this country's struggle for freedom and democracy as a model for the Iraqis to follow.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The lesson of the Hungarian experience is clear, liberty can be delayed, but it cannot be denied. The desire for liberty is universal.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush is hoping a 60-hour visit through Europe will buy him more time, resources and good will for the U.S. mission in Iraq. But now he faces increased threats from the other members of what he calls the axis of evil, Iran and North Korea. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley briefed reporters traveling with the president about the growing tensions.

On North Korea's threat to test a long-range missile, Hadley reported Pyongyang is ready, saying, "Preparations are very far along, so you could, from a capabilities standpoint have a launch. What they intend to do, we don't know."

Hadley admitted the U.S. missile defense system has limited capabilities to intercept long-range missile from hitting American soil, but refused to say whether it's been activated or will be used if Pyongyang carries through on its threat. Admitting, the way out is for the North Koreans to decide not to test this missile.

On the standoff with Iran, the administration's patience is wearing thin. Hadley says the U.S. and its European allies are getting mixed messages from Iran as to when it will respond to a package of incentives offered to convince the regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

While Hadley said it would be helpful to get a response before a series of scheduled meetings of the industrial nations, the first one slated for June 29th, Hadley ruled out trying to do this through an arbitrary set of deadlines.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Hadley reiterated that the international community is looking for a response within weeks not months. The hope is that there will be a clear course of action before President Bush returns to Eastern Europe mid-July for the G8 summit in Russia, where he'll meet with President Putin and other world leaders -- John.

KING: Suzanne Malveaux with the president.

And Jack Cafferty joins us now from New York.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: How you doing, John?

As the debate rages in the Senate about whether U.S. troops should pull out of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the decision to reduce troops would be made by the commanding generals there. The question, then, is this: Should the U.S. reduce its troop levels in Iraq? You can e-mail your thoughts to Caffertyfile@cnn.com, or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile -- John.

KING: And we will get the answers and I bet it's a good debate. We'll get the answers a bit later. Thank you, Jack.

Coming up, Vice President Dick Cheney for an exclusive interview here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Find out why he thinks Democrat strategy in Iraq plays right into the hands of Osama bin Laden. Plus, here what he says to those who call him the Darth Vader of the Bush administration.

Also, racing for disaster in Los Angeles, the next big earthquake is imminent according to scientists. We'll take you along the San Andreas Fault for a look at what could come.

And global warming: An alert, scientists tell lawmakers the Earth is hotter than it has been in 2,000 years. Are humans to blame? You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Happening now, new concern that Southern California may be overdue for a potentially catastrophic earthquake. CNN's Chris Lawrence is live for us from Los Angeles with details of a disturbing new study -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, they still don't know if it's coming tomorrow or 10 years from now, but this highly regarded new study confirms that LA is overdue for the big one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice over): The San Francisco Bay Area, 1989. North Ridge, California, in '94. Los Angeles? Now?

We're due.

LAWRENCE: New earthquake research published in "Nature" magazine confirms "The Big One" could hit today, tomorrow, next year. Even at the far end, it is projected no more than 75 years away.

DEBI KALB, SCRIPPS INST. OF OCEANOGRAPHY: It might be about a magnitude 8, as damaging as this 1906 rupture.

LAWRENCE: That earthquake killed 3,000 people in San Francisco. Large parts of Bay Area burned. Today the San Andreas fault is like an 800-mile scar on California.

Debi Kalb is science director at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where geophysicists found the fault's southern section has barely moved in more than 300 years.

KALB: If you have a six-foot fault the faults are pretty much locked in place. The strain is building up. It wants to rupture in an earthquake, build up, build up, build up until it positively can't take it anymore and you have an earthquake.

LAWRENCE: Los Angeles has been retrofitting thousands of buildings to withstand thousands of earthquakes.

ELLIS STANLEY, L.A. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS DEPT.: We don't have 100 percent compliance but we also have an opportunity now to go back and to look at where we need to shore up those particular things.

LAWRENCE: Ellis Stanley manages L.A.'s Emergency Preparedness Plan. He says they lost hospitals during the North Ridge quake, but are working to double current capacity during a disaster.

STANLEY: We have to get some laws change where one doctor from hospital A can go to hospital B and work, nurses can do that same thing.

LAWRENCE: A large earthquake on the Southern San Andreas could kill thousands and cause billions of dollars in damage, especially it started on the southern end, near Mexico.

KALB: If it ruptured from the south to north, all the energy is going to go to the north and our friends in LA will definitely get whacked pretty hard.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: Scientists have buried hundreds of sensors in the ground, up and down the West Coast. Right now that gives them about a one-second warning before an earthquake hits. Over the next few years they hope to extend that to one minute, which may be just enough time to stop mass transit and shut off the electrical grid, possibly save some lives -- John. KING: Chris Lawrence, sobering study. Thank you, Chris, very much.

The Earth is the hottest its been in 400 years. That is according to some of the top climate scientists in the world. The study was conducted at the request of Congress and released online today by the National Academy of Sciences. Our Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton is standing by with the latest -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: John, today's study is the most comprehensive study to date of the global warming research. It was requested by the chairman of the House Committee on Science after questions were raised about the accuracy of previous studies on global warming.

Specifically, this one, it is know as the hockey stick graph, for it's shape here, indicating a sharp rise in the Earth's temperature in recent years. Today's study looked at that research and a number of other studies and concluded that yes, indeed, temperatures of the Earth, in recent decades have been on the rise. And responsible for much of this warming, human activity.

John, we've linked to the whole thing at cnn.com/situationreport.

KING: Interesting stuff. And you know, Wolf Blitzer is from Buffalo, he would know what a hockey stick is. Thank you, Abbi.

And still to come, are Republicans on the wrong side of history when it comes to same-sex marriage. That's what Dick Cheney's daughter thinks. I'll ask the vice president about it. Plus he answers the tough questions on the war on Iraq. And exclusive interview in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus cancellation frustration; one man hits a brick wall when he pulls the plug on his internet service. And it's all caught on tape. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Having a baby isn't what used to be. Medical advances are giving doctors unprecedented insight into fertility and fetal development, but where will this knowledge take us? CNN Miles O'Brien has our "Welcome to the Future" report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Infertility haunts more than 6 million U.S. couples. But doctors are hoping to reduce that number by learning more about how an embryo develops.

But with knowledge comes dilemmas. Where do we draw the line?

(Voice over): Doctor Mark Perloe is with a fertility clinic called Georgia Reproductive Specialists. Here they use prenatal genetic diagnosis, or PGD, to help couples conceive healthy babies. The procedure tests embryos fertilized in the lab for certain kinds of abnormalities. Only the healthy embryos are transferred back to the mother.

DR. MARK PERLOE, GEORGIA REPRODUCTIVE SPECIALISTS: PGD can screen for just about any disease where we know the sequence of the genetic abnormality, cystic fibrosis, cycle cell, other hemoglobin disorders.

O'BRIEN: Perloe says PGD could one day screen embryos for things like heart disease, breast cancer or diabetes. And that raises a lot of questions.

PERLOE: Which conditions are worthy and how should we decide which embryos would be transferred?

O'BRIEN: It could be even more complex in the future, as many believe PGD could also give doctors the ability to correct abnormalities by actually changing the embryos DNA.

PERLOE: Society has to play an important role in overseeing this. And setting boundaries and limits.

O'BRIEN: The technology isn't cheap. On top of the estimated $10,000 needed to cover the in vitro process, PGD costs another $3,000 to $4,000, and is not typically covered by insurance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Zain Verjee joins us now with other news headlines, making news -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN NEWS ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: John, a success for the U.S. military's fledgling missile defense system. We've just learned that an interceptor missile successfully hit its target about 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean, just off the Hawaiian Islands.

The test comes as North Korea is apparently preparing to test a missile capable of hitting the United States. But military officials say today's test of the interceptor had been planned for months.

There's a new development on a story that we reported on Monday. It involves authorities in Los Angeles County flying unmanned surveillance drones to watch for criminal activity from the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration is now temporarily grounding the aircraft. Sheriff's officials tested the drones for CNN and others. Now that angered the FAA, which says, basically, that the sheriff's first need authorized permission before flying the drones.

British Airways is the target of a price fixing probe by U.S. and U.K. officials. The airline says it's cooperating and that two senior managers are being suspended. Virgin Atlantic, United, and American Airlines say they are also cooperating with the investigation -- John.

KING: Zain Verjee, in Atlanta. Zain, thank you very much.

Just ahead, Vice President Dick Cheney in an exclusive interview. Find out if he has any regret about war in Iraq and what he says to critics who call him the Darth Vader of this administration. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Breaking news tonight out of Miami. Reports of a terrorism related investigation. Federal agents and S.W.A.T. teams are said to be on the move. CNN's National Correspondent Susan Candiotti joins us now on the phone -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, John. Yes, the FBI is confirming that there's an ongoing operation in the Miami, Florida area, which we're told is terrorism related.

Now, law enforcement officials are not revealing many details since operations are going on in one area in the city of Miami. The FBI does confirm to CNN that at least one search warrant is being executed and there are other operations ongoing, being conducted by the FBI and other agencies in the Miami area.

An FBI spokesman tells CNN that there's no threat to Miami or any other area due to these operation. Here's what FBI Director Robert Mueller told Larry King, in a taping, just a few minutes ago.

KING: Suzanne, I'm sorry, we don't have that sound.

CANDIOTTI: All right.

KING: Apparently a technical problem on our end. Continue.

CANDIOTTI: All right. What he did confirm to CNN is that there is an operation going on, that he can't reveal any details about this, but that more details will be made available tomorrow.

That interview can be seen at 9:00 Eastern time tonight, on the on "Larry King Show." So, again, at this hour, we are not able to reveal many details of this operation, but as we get more information, needless to say, we will bring it to you -- John.

KING: Susan Candiotti, for us in Miami. And to reiterate Susan's point, as we get any more information about this, we will bring it to you throughout here in THE SITUATION ROOM, or throughout our programming this evening. And always remember to stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

In a White House that has seen it's share of controversy, Vice President Dick Cheney is and has been one of most divisive and contentious figures. He doesn't do interviews often, but he sat down with me today for an exclusive, at-length interview at his home here in Washington.

It happened at a time when the president's political fortunes are looking up, at least a bit. And just a short while before the Senate voted to reject Democratic calls for a time frame to start troop withdrawals from Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Vice President, thank you for your time. A lot of ground to cover, so let's get right to it.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK, John.

KING: The Democrats will put on the floor of the Senate today a proposal. They don't have the votes, but they say this administration's policy in Iraq has failed, and the leading Democratic proposal would say, Let's have a partial withdrawal -- they call it a redeployment -- and then require the administration to put forward a plan.

Now, they say this is not "cut and run," it's not retreat, but they say three years and three months later, it is time for the administration to tell the Iraqi government, You cannot have this indefinite American security blanket. You need to do a better job of preparing your own people to take over security. What's wrong with that?

CHENEY: Well, it's wrong in many respects, John. First of all, they're wrong; we're making significant progress. We've had major success on the political front, in terms of three national elections last year by the Iraqis. They've stood up a brand new government under a new constitution for the first time ever. We've got a quarter of a million Iraqis now in uniform, equipped, trained, in the fight. So there has been significant progress made, with respect to what's going on in Iraq.

What the Democrats are suggesting, basically, you can call it withdrawal -- you can call it redeployment, whatever you want to call it. Basically, it is in effect validates the terrorists' strategy. You've got to remember that the Osama bin Laden-types, the al Qaeda- types, the Zarqawi-types that have been active in Iraq are betting that ultimately they can break the United States' will. There's no way they can defeat us militarily. But their whole strategy, if you look at what bin Laden's been saying for 10 years, is they believe they can, in fact, force us to quit. That ultimately we'll get tired of the fight, that we don't have the stomach for a long, tough battle and that we'll pack it in and go home.

If we were to do that, it would be devastating from the standpoint of the global war on terror. It would affect what happens in Afghanistan, it would make it difficult for us to persuade the Iranians to give up their aspirations for nuclear weapons. It would threaten the stability of regimes like Musharraf in Pakistan and the Saudis in Saudi Arabia. It is absolutely the worst possible thing we could do at this point; it would be to validate and encourage the terrorists by doing exactly what they want us to do, which is to...

KING: You say -- excuse me for interrupting -- you say validate and encourage the terrorists. The Democrats say they're tired of validating what they view as a failed policy. And as you know, some Democrats want to go even further -- Senator Kerry wants to have a complete withdrawal within a year or so. Jack Murtha, an old friend of yours, with whom you have sparred recently in the House, he says, Look, when President Reagan realized the policy in Beirut was failing, he withdrew the troops. Call it cut and run, if you will. When President Clinton realized the policy in Somalia was failing, he withdrew the troops. Again, some might say, `cut and run.'

He says this war is costing $8 billion a month, $300 million a day. There's no end in sight. And forgive me, but he says you don't have a plan, so let's not have more kids killed.

CHENEY: He's wrong. I like Jack Murtha. He's a friend. We did a lot of business together in the past when I was secretary of defense and he was chairman of the Defense Appropriation Subcommittee. But the instances he cites, Beirut in '83 and Somalia in '93, is what bin Laden cited back in 1997 or '98. He made speeches where he, in effect, argued that the Americans didn't have the stomach for a fight, that ultimately the terrorists would win, al Qaeda would win. And he cited as evidence of that what happened in Beirut in 1983 and Somalia in 1993. That's my point.

The fact of the matter is that we are in a global conflict. It's not just about Iraq. It's -- we've seen attacks around the world, from New York and Washington all the way around to Jakarta and Indonesia over the course of the last five years. Our strategy that we adopted after 9/11, of progressively going after the terrorists, going after states that sponsor terror, taking the fight to enemy, has been crucial in terms of our being able to defend the United States.

I think one of the reasons we have not been struck again in five years -- and nobody can promise we won't -- but is because we've taken the fight to them. And if Jack Murtha is successful in persuading the country that somehow we should withdraw now from Iraq, then you have to ask what happens to all of those people who've signed up with the United States, who are on our side in this fight against these radical, extremist Islamic types of bin Laden and al Qaeda.

What happens to the 12 million Iraqis who went to the polls last December and voted in spite of the assassins and the car bombs? What happens to the quarter of a million Iraqis who have gotten into the fight to take on the terrorists? The worst possible thing we could do is what the Democrats are suggesting. And no matter how you carve it -- you can call it anything you want, but basically it is packing it in, going home, persuading and convincing and validating the theory that the Americans don't have the stomach for this fight.

KING: You disagree with the Democrats' plan, but they are stepping in to a political environment which the American people clearly -- some have anger, some have dissatisfaction, some have doubts about this war and the administration's plan for this war.

Fifty-four percent of the American people say it's a mistake, 55 percent say things are going badly in Iraq, 53 percent in our polling say the American people actually support a timetable. Why is it that the administration has failed to articulate to the American people that -- the American people don't think you have a plan, sir. CHENEY: Well, they're wrong. We do have a plan. It's there for anybody who wants to take a look at it. The Democrats have repeatedly made this charge. It's simply not the case. There's a good plan in place. We are making significant progress. This is a long-term fight. I think there are a lot of people out there...

KING: Let me jump in -- that one of these points here is, is it wrong -- you say it's wrong to publicly set a timetable. And I understand the argument for that. You'd cue off -- cue the terrorists to what you're going to do.

Has the Iraqi government been told, privately, you need to meet certain benchmarks, training your troops, improving security, by a date certain, because the American people are not going to pay for this forever?

CHENEY: No, I think they know full well that we're expecting them to take on more and more responsibility. It's one of the reasons the president went to Baghdad recently. And all of our conversations with them, they know what we're trying to do and they've stepped up to that task and that responsibility.

Fact of the matter is that obviously we've lost a lot of people. Wish we hadn't lost anybody. But the heavy casualties are being taken by the Iraqis. There are a lot more Iraqis being -- becoming casualties in this conflict at present, because they are now in a fight.

Again, I come back to the basic proposition. What happens, in the global war on terror, if the United States bails out on Iraq? And that's exactly what withdrawal is. You know, you're going to take your troops before the conflict is over with.

You're not going to complete the mission if we follow the Democrats' advice. And, in fact, we will have set up the situation in which the al Qaeda types can win. They have a plan to establish a caliphate that stretches from Spain all the way around to Indonesia, to kick the Americans out of the Middle East, to destroy Israel, to take down most of those regimes in that part of the world. And they will do anything they can to achieve that objective.

But ultimately, what they're betting on is that we don't have the stomach for the fight, and we can not afford to validate that strategy. We can win -- we are winning -- but we've got to stay at it.

KING: You acknowledge this past week that the administration and you personally underestimated the strength of the insurgency. As you know, even friends of the administration, supportive of this war, have criticized the administration, saying that not enough troops would be sent in at the beginning. You have a unique perspective on this.

You were the defense secretary in the first Gulf War; you're the vice president now. In the first Gulf War, it was the Powell doctrine -- you're going to put U.S. troops at risk, so go in, in overwhelming numbers with overwhelming force so that there is no doubt. Secretary Rumsfeld prefers the leaner force, more mobile force.

As history looks at this, is one early lesson is that the Powell doctrine trumps the Rumsfeld doctrine?

CHENEY: I don't think so. I think you've got to look at each individual circumstance and figure out what makes sense in terms of the kind of forces you'll need to bring to bear, what your enemy's capable of, what your goals and objectives are. I think you have to be very careful about generalizing from one conflict to the next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: We want to bring you up to date now on breaking news into CNN tonight. A terrorism-related investigation in Miami. Back to our correspondent Susan Candiotti in just a second. But first though, we want to bring you this comment from the FBI director Bob Mueller about this terrorism-related investigation underway this hour in Miami. Mr. Mueller speaking just a short time ago to CNN's Larry King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: We do have an ongoing operation in Miami. We are conducting a number of arrests and searches. And we'll have more about that when the operation is concluded, probably tomorrow morning.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Big concern?

MUELLER: I don't want to get too much -- because it's an ongoing operation, I really can't get into the details. But whenever we undertake an operation like this, we would not do it without the approval of a judge. We've got search warrants and arrest warrants and the like. And so yes, it's a concern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Another CNN exclusive, the FBI director, Bob Mueller on Larry King just a short time ago. That taping, you can see that entire program tonight at 9:00 p.m.

Susan Candiotti, you heard the FBI director there talking about a number of arrests, a number of searches under way. What more can you tell us?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Well some new information since we last spoke, John. A law enforcement source tells CNN that no weapons or bomb-making materials have been found so far. They also say that this operation and investigation apparently has revealed the plan of some kind of terrorist activity. We do not have any details about what precisely that terrorist activity is.

However, an FBI spokesman tells CNN that there is no threat to Miami or any other area in the ongoing investigation. So again, FBI confirming that at least one search warrant is being executed. Other operations going on being conducted by the FBI and several other agencies in the Miami area. As you know, John, CNN's security watch team is covering the story from many angles and that security watch team will continue to do so throughout the night. As we get more details, we will tell you about it.

KING: And Susan, help me. I know you're in the most frustration position a reporter can be in. You're trying to get source reporting on a very sensitive operation underway. We know it's terrorism related. You noted no bombs or bomb-making materials were found. Do we know anything at all yet about the genesis of this investigation?

CANDIOTTI: Only that according to one of our affiliates, that the operation has been going on for some time. And as you correctly pointed out John, we are of course getting more information, but it has to be vetted, it has to be confirmed and quite frankly because of the sensitivity of what is going on right now, we are being asked not to reveal too many details about it. Clearly there is security to be concerned about at this time. But as we're able to tell you about more, we will.

KING: And Susan, we're getting more information here, so excuse me if I can interrupt you for some time, because they're telling me information as well. But do we know anything that we can reveal about the geographics in Miami area, where this search is underway, or are we withholding that because of the ongoing operation?

CANDIOTTI: We are withholding some of that. We can tell you it's in the Liberty City area of Miami. Some of our affiliates are reporting, WFOR specifically, that this involves a low income housing project there. Beyond that, we are not revealing anything else.

KING: And Susan, I'm told while you were speaking that one law enforcement source telling CNN that the information we're getting so far is that this investigation is related to domestic terrorism. Is that consistent with the information you're getting there?

CANDIOTTI: It is. Yes, this would be a domestic operation that they are looking into. And we do expect to learn more about it. Obviously there is, for various reasons, whenever there is an operation going on, the safety and security of the people who are involved in that operation obviously needs to be protected. That is why we're responsibly trying to put out as much information about it as we are able.

KING: And Susan, just for viewers just joining us and seeing our breaking news coverage, and let me first preface this by saying, please understand that Susan is holding some of the information because of the sensitive of this information, but Susan, recap what we do know about this investigation so far.

CANDIOTTI: Yes, what we know is that it is terrorism related, that a search warrant is being -- at least one search warrant, the FBI confirms, is being executed in the Liberty City area of Miami. That there are other operations going on at this time. This is being carried out by the FBI And several other law enforcement agencies working together in the Miami area.

FBI spokesman tells CNN that there is no threat to Miami or any other area due to these operations, and that, according to a law enforcement source, that no weapons -- no weapons or bomb making materials have been found so far and that this operation did involve an investigation into the planning of some kind of undescribed terrorist activity.

We do expert more details and FBI Director Mueller has said that they will be able to reveal more about it as this investigation is concluded.

KING: All right. Susan, I'm going to let you go for now. Susan Candiotti, our national correspondent, doing great work for us tonight in Miami. I'll let you go to continue your reporting. We're going to take a quick break here in THE SITUATION ROOM, plus please stay with CNN.

Again, a breaking news story tonight in Miami. One law enforcement source telling us a domestic terrorism investigation underway. The FBI director telling CNN exclusively a number of raids underway, searches underway in the Miami area. More on this story as we get it. We're going to take a quick break. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM.

I'm John King in Washington. We're following tonight a breaking story in Miami, a terrorism related investigation underway. The FBI director, Robert Mueller, telling CNN exclusively a number of raids and searches underway in the Miami area. Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti tracking information.

A source is telling us so far there's no threat to anyone in the Miami area. Susan reporting no bombs or bomb making materials have been recovered, at least so far in this search. A breaking news situation underway. We will continue to track it here in THE SITUATION ROOM and throughout the night on CNN.

For now though, more with my exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney. His thoughts on global threats and politics here at home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: One of the key issues facing the world right now and the Bush administration is North Korea. It has a missile on a launchpad. Apparently, our intelligence suggests it may test that missile any day now.

Former Defense Secretary Bill Perry, who served in a Democratic administration, writes an op-ed in today's "Washington Post," saying: "Mr. President, take it out. Launch a military strike. Take that missile out. You will destroy not only the missile," he says, "but a launchpad that is capable of launching nuclear weapons."

Why not? CHENEY: Well, I think that -- you know, I appreciate Bill's advice.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I bet you do.

(LAUGHTER)

CHENEY: And I think that, at this stage, we are addressing the issue in a proper fashion. And I think, obviously, if you're going to launch strikes at another nation, you better be prepared to not just fire one shot.

And the fact of the matter is, I think the issue is being addressed appropriately.

KING: Do we know what's on that missile? Is it a satellite? Is it a warhead? Is it a test?

CHENEY: We don't know. That's one of the concerns, is that this is a regime that's not transparent, that we believe has developed nuclear weapons, and now has put a missile on a launchpad, without telling anybody what it's all about. Is it to put a satellite in orbit or a simple test flight?

They will obviously generate concern on the part of their neighbors and the United States, to the extent that they continue to operate this way. As the president has made clear, this is not the kind of behavior we'd like to see, given the fact that the North Koreans do have a nuclear program and have refused to come clean about it.

KING: And what do we know about their capabilities? Some have said this new longer-range missile could reach Guam, perhaps Alaska. Others say, no, it might be able to reach Los Angeles, and there are some who think maybe even right here, Washington, D.C. What do we know?

CHENEY: Well, we -- this is the first test of this particular type Taepodong-2 missile. We believe it does have a third stage added to it now. But, again, we don't know what the payload is.

I think it's also fair to say that the North Korean missile capabilities are fairly rudimentary. I mean, they're -- they've been building Scuds and so forth over the years, but their test flights in the past haven't been notably successful. But we are watching it with interest and following it very closely.

KING: I want to ask a quick question about another international standoff, which is Iran's nuclear program. The president in Europe yesterday said, Iran should hurry up with its response. It shouldn't wait months. It should get an answer in days, or weeks, at the most.

As you consider that confrontation, many experts have said your options are limited because of the way the Iranians have built their nuclear program. Many think that it is invulnerable, if you will, that it is protected from military strikes.

I know the president has said, diplomacy first; it would be the Security Council next, if the Iranians don't accept this proposal on the table.

But, when you look at the contingency planning, are you confident that, if it came to it, the United States has a capable military option of taking out that program?

CHENEY: As the president has emphasized, John, we are pursuing the diplomatic option. We think that's the right way to go.

But he has also made it clear that nothing has been taken off the table, and I'll leave it at that.

KING: I want to bring you to some domestic issues here at home. I have spent a fair amount of time in recent months in court with your former chief of staff, Lewis Scooter Libby, who, of course, is charged in the CIA leak investigation.

One of the things that his defense has introduced as evidence is this. It's a copy of this "New York Times" article that started all this, by Ambassador Joe Wilson. And these scribbles are allegedly yours. Is that a fact?

CHENEY: John, I am not going to comment on the case.

It's -- I may be called as a witness. Scooter Libby, obviously, one of the finest men I've ever known, he's entitled to the presumption of innocence. And I have not made any comments on the case up until now, and I won't.

KING: Let me ask you one question, one more question about that, then. You say you may be called as a witness. The president urged everyone very early on to cooperate in this investigation.

Does that mean that, if you are called as a witness, that the administration would, under no circumstances, cite any privileges, either to shield you from testifying about certain issues or protect certain documents or anything like that?

CHENEY: Well, you're getting into hypothetical now, and I'm not able to answer that. We have cooperated fully with the investigation from day one.

KING: Let me ask you another question. Your daughter recently wrote a book in which she discussed her role in your campaign, but also her decision, some time ago in her life, to come to you and Mrs. Cheney and disclose that she was a lesbian.

And she has issues with the Republican Party on the issue of same-sex marriage. And she wrote this: "If the Republican Party fails to come around on this issue," same-sex marriage, "I believe it will find itself on the wrong side of history and on a sharp decline into irrelevance."

Do you agree with your daughter Mary on that?

CHENEY: My -- I've got great love and affection for my daughter, obviously. I think it's a very good book, and I'd recommend people read it.

KING: I'm going to make another attempt at it.

The president urged the Senate to vote on this constitutional amendment. Senator Frist, a leader in the party, someone who may run for the presidency, brought this amendment up. Is that a mistake?

CHENEY: I made my views known a long time ago, John, that I think that the fact that the states have traditionally been the ones that regulate marriage is a procedure that I think is the right way to go.

I think that it ought to be a state matter, a state function. That's not new to anybody. The president sets policy for the administration, and I support the president.

KING: I want to close by asking you a few questions about yourself and your image, and one of them flows from that.

As you know, some of your old friends say, where is the Dick Cheney, the sarcastic Dick Cheney, the practical joker Dick Cheney? And your critics say, Dick Cheney has become this dark, nefarious force in the administration that believes in secrecy at all price, that believes congressional oversight is a nuisance. True?

CHENEY: Well, I don't think I've changed any.

I think I have been very consistent over time. I think, partly, it's important to remember how significant 9/11 was. And we are now engaged in a constant effort, obviously, to protect the nation against further attack.

That means we need good intelligence. It means there have to be national security secrets. It means we need to be able to go after and capture or kill those people who are trying to kill Americans. That's not a pleasant business. It's a very serious business. And I suppose, sometimes, people look at my demeanor and say, well, he's the Darth Vader of the administration.

It's the other thing that's working here, John -- I'm not running for anything. My career will end, politically, with this administration. I have the freedom and the luxury -- as does the president -- of doing what we think is right for the country. And the advice I give and the positions I take on issues are based upon that fundamental proposition: we're doing what we're doing in Iraq, in terms of here in the U.S. with the terrorist surveillance program and so forth because we think these are essential policies for the nation to follow. We're not trying to improve our standing in the polls, we're not out there trying to win votes for ourselves. Neither one of us will ever be a candidate again. We're doing what we think is right. And I'm very comfortable with that. KING: You're also a human being, though. Your poll ratings are lower than the president's, you have an image that I think it's fair to say is not positive with the majority of the American people. That doesn't trouble you at all?

CHENEY: There's a great sense of freedom, when in fact you don't have to worry about the polls. We don't worry about the polls -- they go up, the polls go down. The fact of the matter is, we're doing what we think is best for the nation. And that's what the American people elected us to do. I think ultimately, in the final analysis, the history will judge this president as a very successful, very effective leader. And I'm proud to be part of his team.

KING: Mr. Vice President, thank you for your time.

CHENEY: Thank you, John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Vice President Dick Cheney, earlier today. Now back to our breaking news tonight. A federal terrorism related investigation under way in Miami this hour. The FBI Director Bob Mueller telling CNN that there's a number of searches and raids are under way in the Miami area. We are told by law enforcement sources a domestic terrorism related investigation. Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti has been tracking developments in this story. She joins us now with new information.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John as we told you repeatedly about this ongoing investigation. We now have a statement that's just been released to us from the U.S. attorney's office in Miami. Let me read it to you.

Earlier today the FBI, in conjunction with federal, state and local authorities, executed arrests as part of an ongoing investigation into a terrorist-related matter. The individuals arrested posed no immediate threat to our community. A press conference will be held in Washington, D.C. and in Miami on Friday, tomorrow, to provide additional details.

So, John, after we have been reporting this for quite some time now, FBI director Mueller has talked about this publicly on "THE LARRY KING SHOW." We now have that official statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Miami. Also, a new quote from the FBI. Adding that the search warrant and ongoing law enforcement operations being conducted in the Miami area are being carried out by the joint terrorism task force in Miami, which includes of course federal, state and local authorities.

There have been several arrests, we're being told. That the documents in this case are currently sealed. That is why even though more information is out there, it is being withheld at this time. Again, no threat to Miami or any other area involved in this operation at this time. But as we said John, we do expect to have all of it revealed tomorrow in new conferences both in Miami and in Washington, D.C. Of course CNN's security watch team is continuing to cover this story from as many angles as we can find.

KING: Susan Candiotti, I appreciate your reporting. We will continue to check in with you tonight as developments warrant. I want to tell our viewers, yet again, in such a sensitive situation like this, especially with ongoing operations, sometimes, and you can hear it Susan's voice, we have to be very careful about what we can report from our sources because we can endanger the lives of law enforcement officials and others if we report some information at an inappropriate time. We will continue to check in with her.

On the phone now is Pat D'Amuro, CNN security analyst and the former assistant director of the FBI in New York. Pat, sketchy details as yet as this unfolds.

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: I'm on the telephone John, I'm out in Long Island.

KING: You're out in Long Island. Pat sound kick, can you hear me?

D'AMURO: Yes I can, John. How are you?

KING: I'm doing great. Sketchy details so far, but I hope you can hear what Susan Candiotti said. There are some sealed documents in this case, some arrests being mad, more information tomorrow. Bob Mueller, the FBI Director, telling CNN's Larry King a short time ago, a number of raids and searches under way in the Miami area, and we're being told, at least by one law enforcement source, to look at this as a domestic terrorism related incident. How does that get your mind working?

D'AMURO: Well John, a domestic related incident is very different from an international terrorism incident. In international type terrorism cases, the FBI would usually utilize their national security type tools, what we call the dark side tools. Conducting different types of tools that go to a separate court to conduct those investigations. In a domestic terrorism case, it is handled purely on the criminal side. So there has to be a judge involved before any search warrants are issued or arrest warrants are issued. It's handled very differently on a domestic matter than it is on a international terrorism matter.

KING: And Pat, the statement from the U.S. attorney in Miami, other information that we are receiving, our source is saying no imminent threat to the community, yet documents seized, other materials under seal tonight, we are told. That would suggest to me that this was an intervention because of a tip of some plan under way, but not something imminent. Does that make sense?

D'AMURO: That's correct John. It's always been about prevention and trying to stop a terrorist attack. What I would assume in this case is that they must have had some type of threat, some type of information that individuals were involved in an organization that wished to cause harm to our national security. The intervention was probably looking for some documents or something to show what these individuals were going to try to attempt. D'AMURO: I appreciate your thoughts tonight. We may check in with you as the night progresses. Pat D'Amuro, CNN's security analyst, helping us out with this breaking news story. A terrorism related investigation in Miami tonight. We will continue to follow this one story. And always remember stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

Stand by in THE SITUATION ROOM and up ahead, should the U.S. reduce troop levels in Iraq? The politicians are debating it. What do you think?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Jack's in New York now with the Cafferty file. Hi Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: How you doing John. The question is should the U.S. reduce troop levels in Iraq?

Jay in Nashville writes, " We should get our troops out of Iraq now. It's no longer our fight. We accomplished removing Saddam Hussein from power. Now it's up to the Iraqis to shape their country and we should stay out of it. Our presence there now just looks like unwanted occupation and it's a recruiting tool for the terrorists."

Gerald in Gadsden, Alabama, "Reduce? No. Just the opposite, we should increase our troops to the level required to complete the mission."

Susan in Moab, Utah, "Our mission there is 'accomplished,' or so I have heard. Of course we should get out of there. How about we build a couple of forts near the border, withdraw to there, and then let the locals duke it out."

Alex in Denver writes, "Reducing U.S. forces in Iraq before the objective is completed would be disastrous to the cause. We must maintain our course, despite what the defeatists in our own county believe."

David in Arlington, VA, "Absolutely not. Iraq didn't eve have a permanent government until a short while ago. The new government needs time to establish itself."

And W. rights, "Why move all those troops when they are so conveniently located next to our next conquest?" I presume he means Iran, John.

KING: Jack, those e-mails I think pretty much reflecting the divide in the country on this issue.

CAFFERTY: I think so.

KING: Jack Cafferty for us in New York. Jack thank you very much, have a great night.

And remember, we're continuing to track a breaking story in Miami tonight, a federal terrorism related investigation. Susan Candiotti, our national correspondent, reporting a number of documents under seal, arrests made as well. Authorities promising more information on this in the morning.

Our course our correspondents continuing to work it tonight. We will bring you on CNN throughout the evening the latest on this investigation, a domestic terrorism investigation in Miami. Law enforcement sources saying there was no imminent threat to the community. But a number of arrests were made and apparently a number of documents under seal. The FBI Director Bob Mueller telling CNN's Larry King exclusively, talking about this case. That will be on CNN later tonight.

Continue to follow us on this case and thanks for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm John King. Wolf Blitzer will be back right here tomorrow. Up next at the top of the hour, PAULA ZAHN NOW, Paula.

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