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School Principal Shot; Colorado School Siege; Day After Day Fire; Detainee Bill Passes; White House Press Briefing
Aired September 29, 2006 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Another school shooting today. This one in Wisconsin.
The principal of the Weston School shot this morning several times. A 15-year-old student at the school is the suspect who's in custody. Details are still unclear as to the principal's condition, but we heard from the Weston School district superintendent, a very emotional superintendent, just a short while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUPT. TERRY MILFRED, WESTON SCHOOL DISTRICT: He isn't the kind of principal who sits behind a desk to run the school. He is visible throughout the school and participated in many activities. He was injured because he was trying to maintain -- maintain control and protect the students and staff at Weston, all of whom who are -- who are grateful and safe as a result of his efforts.
As his staff, we are praying for his recovery and we hope that many people will join us. We are anxious for his return so that we can thank him in person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And that principal is now fighting for his life at a Madison, Wisconsin, hospital.
Just moments ago we also spoke with some students at the school who talked about the principal and the 15-year-old suspect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it wasn't for Mr. Klang, we don't know how many people would be shot. So, I mean, Mr. Klang...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we just want everybody to keep him in their prayers and in their wishes until -- just make sure he's OK, because she a really big part of the school. And even though sometimes we may get mad at him, he's just a really big part of the school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had mentioned this boy was troubled. Did anything happen in the last few days or since the start of school? What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had threw (sic) a stapler at a teacher. He got mad at him, because he told him he -- I don't know all that happened, but he got mad at him and threw a stapler at a teacher, and then almost hit Mr. Klang with a chair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And was he suspended or did anything happen to him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think he was suspended for a couple of days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And had he been back from his suspension? Or do you think his...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was back, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did he seem when he came back to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw them last night, actually, and, I mean, he seemed really happy. Like there was nothing wrong. So, I mean...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think he intended to do if Mr. Klang didn't stop him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be honest, I have no idea. I mean, I never thought Eric was capable of shooting anybody. So...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Students there talking about the 15-year-old suspect who had a troubled past. That 15-year-old suspect is in police custody.
Make sure you stay with CNN for more on this story -- Kyra.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the Colorado high school gunman put some of this final thoughts on paper. Police say that Duane Morrison sent a 14-page rambling letter to a relative in Colorado, apparently explaining what he was going to do. The Park County sheriff believes that Morrison knew he was going to die.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF FRED WEGENER, PARK COUNTY, COLORADO: This is not a suicide note or diary. It's referenced in the letter. However, many times the letter references suicide. This letter also clearly acknowledges his pending death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Morrison burst into a high school classroom on Wednesday and after a standoff he killed a 16-year-old student, then himself. A traumatized Colorado family did not get to speak to their daughter before she was killed by Duane Morrison, but Emily Keyes' loved ones were in her thoughts during that whole ordeal.
She managed to tap out a cell phone text message to her family, a message released today by authorities. Four words: "I love u guys." For more on the developing story, Fredricka Whitfield working it from the CNN newsroom.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, still on the note of this Colorado school shooting, some relief, but at the same time, not without some guilt.
A 15-year-old girl who was among the six female students who were being held hostage by Morrison told the "Rocky Mountain News" about the guilt that she was feeling, and she also spells out the kind of torment that she and the other students went through.
I'm going to read to you some of the quotes that the "Rocky Mountain News" has published.
Lynna Long (ph) says, "He began talking to our teacher, Mrs. Smith, and told her, 'If you don't do what I say, I'll shoot you.' He told us to get up and line up against the blackboard, our faces toward the wall, then he fired a shot. I think it was because some people weren't complying fast enough and he was trying to scare us."
"All the thing he said were so random. He asked us, 'Do you have water? What's your last name?' He asked us if we had cell phones. "You could hear the rustling of clothes and elastic being snapped and zippers being opened and closed."
The newspaper describes that Lynna (ph) knew that the other girls were being molested even though she was against the wall and was afraid to turn around.
She goes on to say, "I felt incredible relief, but I also felt guilty because I got to go free and there were three girls still inside there."
And Kyra, as you mentioned, Emily Keyes was the one young student who was shot and killed by the gunman, Duane Morrison, before he took his own life.
PHILLIPS: All right, Fred. We'll keep following the details. Appreciate it -- Don.
LEMON: Florida SWAT team members came face to face with a suspected cop killer this morning. The suspect hiding under a fallen tree and covered with brush was killed.
It all started yesterday when a man police still haven't identified fled the scene on foot when he was stopped for speeding near Lakeland. When two deputies pursued, he opened fire, killing one and wounding the other. The suspect was found this morning less than 100 yards from where he was last seen yesterday. The sheriff says the man had tried to hide in dense underbrush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF GRAY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: Ladies and Gentlemen, god will be the judge and the jury this time. We found the suspect.
We found the suspect. He had dug in and was underneath a large, very large oak tree that had fallen over, completely covered by vines. SWAT team members -- and I don't ask their identifications or which agency they were from -- found the suspect while they were walking shoulder-to-shoulder through the thickest brush you can imagine in the state of Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The Polk County sheriff says the suspect was holding a .45 caliber pistol when he was shot. The gun apparently belonged to the deputy who was killed yesterday.
And Sheriff Grady Judd took time to praise the fallen deputy, Vernon Matthew Williams, known at "Matt" to his friends. Williams was 39 years old. He had been a deputy since 1994 and he leaves behind a wife and three children.
Yesterday, in fact, was his wife's birthday. In the words of Sheriff Judd, "Matt Williams was representative of all the law enforcement officers who put themselves on the line in this state and across the country."
PHILLIPS: One more weekend. Weary firefighters are hoping that's all it takes to finish off a fast-moving stubborn wildfire dubbed the Day Fire. Well, some crews have started calling it the Day After Day Fire.
CNN's Peter Viles is on the scene.
PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For 25 days it has outfoxed the firefighters, shifting in one direction, then doubling back. But it's when the wind blows that it gets downright mean. A fire tornado, two of them, broke out Tuesday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two of them! Two of them! Oh my god, the other one next to it!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They merged! They merged! Oh, it came out the back.
VILES: Roughly 200 feet high, the tornado jumped fire lines, threatening the mountain village of Lockwood Valley.
STEVE MUELLER, CALIF. DEPT. OF FORESTRY: It picked up cardboard boxes, chairs and other items, and stuff was just flying around. I've never seen anything like that.
VILES: Many residents packed up and left their homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just hope it's here when we get back.
VILES: The village was spared, but the Day Fire, so-called because it started on Labor Day, has now blackened a wilderness area the size of Chicago and is still less than 50 percent contained.
(on camera): The biggest challenge in fighting this fire has been the terrain. It is so steep and so rugged up in these hills, that when the fire flares like it is right now behind me, it's almost impossible to get in here with a fire engine or a bulldozer to fight these flames.
(voice over): When winds are calm, firefighters attack from the air, dumping water, even using a DC-10 to spread fire retardant. On the ground, hot shots, specially-trained ground crews, are doing what they can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now we're flying crews in, dropping them in. We call it coyote in and out. They stay in for three or four days. They live off of the supplies that are dropped there.
VILES: But when the fire jumped lines this week, it ran into valleys where firefighters had to fight back with hoses and bulldozers. More than 4,000 firefighters are now battling the blaze. This group just checked in from New York City.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's so dry out here, this won't go out.
VILES: On day 25, the fire itself was hard to find, but these firefighters know the Day Fire is not done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're a little tired. The fire lays down and it picks back up again. So it has been a long ordeal.
VILES: An ordeal with no end in sight.
Peter Viles for CNN, Lockwood Valley, California.
PHILLIPS: So, are firefighters going to get the help that they need this weekend?
Let's check in with CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf.
LEMON: President Bush calls it a strong signal to terrorists. Following the lead of the House, the Senate approved a plan last night for military commissions to prosecute terror suspects. The two plans are similar and details are being worked out today.
Here's CNN Congressional Correspondent Andrea Koppel.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don.
By a vote of 65-34, the Senate passed that military tribunal bill through last night, and today is the last day you can bet that you've got Republicans in both chambers who are heralding this passage of a key piece of anti-terror legislation, something that they're going to be able to take with them out on the campaign trail over the next six weeks before November 7th.
You've got -- and remember President Bush came up here yesterday. It was that important to him that this piece of legislation get through before they head out of town.
Republican leaders in the House and Senate have a ceremony that's planned for later this afternoon to highlight that success. But that's really the only photo-op that we're going to be seeing today from Republicans, at least that we know about.
It is the Democrats who have been having back-to-back press conferences all day long today. In particular, they are getting in their parting shots, criticizing Republicans, and in particular, the Republican-led Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: It's the most "Do- Nothing Congress" in the history of our country. We have worked less days and accomplished less legislation than the 1948 Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOPPEL: The "Do-Nothing Congress" has been the Democrats' mantra for months now, Don, as they try to tee things up for the final stretch of this campaign.
LEMON: Yes, and the president yesterday saying -- I guess feeling he needed to have a personal talk with those members so that they could get that bill signed.
CNN's Andrea Koppel.
Thank you very much for that.
Part of the best political team on television.
PHILLIPS: Well, a new book hits the headlines before it hits bookstores. Reporter Bob Woodward makes new claims about the war in Iraq. We'll have all the saucy details coming up in the NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: "State of Denial," it's a new book from Pulitzer Prize-winner journalist Bob Woodward and explores the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war. The book hasn't hit bookstores yet, but already some are predicting it could impact November's elections.
CNN's Mary Snow reports.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "State of Denial: Bush at War, Part Three" is claimed to reveal damaging secrets from inside the White House about the war in Iraq. One of those secrets Bob Woodward tells CBS' "60 Minutes" is that the administration isn't telling the full story about the amount of violence.
In an interview to air Sunday, CBS quotes Woodward of saying, "It's getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That's four an hour attacking our forces."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Bob Woodward book is always a bombshell event and the fact that the book is even called "State of Denial" suggests that perhaps he's going to be more critical of the Bush administration and his handling of the Iraq war than he has been in the past.
SNOW: Critics have accused Woodward of being too soft on the Bush administration in his last two books, while this new one is under lock and key until it hits the bookstores on Monday, the details he's purportedly revealed to CBS indicate it could be highly critical of the White House.
He tells "60 Minutes" there is intelligence being kept under wraps that the insurgency will get worse in 2007. And he reveals that Henry Kissinger, the secretary of state under Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War, meets often with the president and vice president as an adviser. Kissinger's advice, he reports, has been victory is the only meaningful strategy. Kissinger was traveling and could not be reached for comment. But in an interview with "LATE EDITION" in March, he made a similar argument.
HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I do not think that setting a deadline is a youthful strategy because then everything is working in the expectation of a fixed deadline in which the insurgents can simply wait us out.
SNOW: A senior administration official downplayed the book, telling CNN quote, "It doesn't appear to be anything new. The president has been very frank with the country about the challenges we face in the war on terror, how ruthless, violent and determined our enemy is." Some predict Woodward's claims might be felt in the November elections.
HOWARD KURTZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST:: When Iraq is such an overriding issue, in these House and Senate campaigns, undoubtedly it's going to have an impact and is going to provide ammunition probably for Democratic candidates running against Republicans to try to hang that war and its missteps around the neck of the Bush White House.
SNOW: But Woodward told CBS that President Bush is so certain about staying in Iraq, that he told key Republicans, "I will not withdraw, even if war and Barney are the only ones supporting me."
Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
PHILLIPS: Now let's talk more about the Woodward book and the recent controversy over a leaked national intelligence report. Retired Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks joins me from Washington. He's a CNN military analyst.
And just to set the story straight, the reason why we wanted to talk to you, Spider, you were one of the lead guys with regard to intelligence in Iraq.
So I want to get straight to some of the things that were mentioned in Mary's piece. Specifically, Woodward quoted as saying to "60 Minutes," "It's getting to the point now where there are 800, 900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That's four an hour attacking our forces."
Is that true?
BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the numbers are accurate. And I can't dispute those, Kyra. But the issue is, do we have the right strategy in place from a military perspective? But also, as you and I have discussed before, this is not a military exclusive solution.
The other elements of power have got to be in place. But in order for the strategy of to clear, hold and then build, to be in place, clearly it's going to take more time. It's going to take a heck of a lot more money. And you're going to need more troops.
PHILLIPS: Spider, here's my question.
MARKS: And that -- that's the sticking point.
PHILLIPS: But why wasn't all of that in place before the war started? I mean, this is the $50 million question.
You had phase one, phase two, phase three, phase four. You know, it seems this phase of the war is an absolute nightmare.
MARKS: Kyra, you go to the head of the class. That is the question.
The concern that we had early going in and shared by many is there was a lot we did not know about Iraq in those early days, during the planning in '02 and then the execution in '03. And in order to accommodate for those unknowns you need more troop strength. So that's a hindsight view at this point, that more troops early on certainly would have been advantageous.
Would it have prevented where we are right now? That is a hypothetical discussion. Who know where that would go. But I would tell you that the insurgency and what we see today is not and was not inevitable. It could have been prevented.
PHILLIPS: That's the sad part. I think that's where everybody's wondering, why wasn't that thought about more? Why are there leaders stepping back and saying, wow, we didn't realize the power of the insurgency? MARKS: Well, there were two additional divisions that we -- that we requested in our force flow early on in the planning, and both of those divisions were taken off. That would have been close to about 40,000 additional troops.
Certainly that would have been beneficial. And clearly, the task at hand for the soldiers and Marines on the ground is immense, and they are up to that task.
This Army, this Marine Corps, our service has never been better trained, more courageous and more capable. The challenge is, you've got to increase the top line. You simply need more. The service -- the services will not break, but there are fractures and fissures that are in place that need to be accommodated for right now.
PHILLIPS: All right. Now, we got our hands on the book, we pulled a couple quotes out of there that sort of blue us back after reading them.
I know you're not thrilled about a lot of things that are said in this book, but I've got to put it out there, and feel free to respond however you wish. And that is about Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the tension with his own military brass as everything's been going down. And also, other leaders in the administration.
Now, Woodward writes that Rumsfeld wouldn't return Condoleezza Rice's phone calls because he didn't consider her in the chain of command. And then he puts another quote in there in the book regarding how Joint Chiefs chair Dick Myers felt about Rumsfeld. And here's the quote.
"When Myers was exasperated, he called Rumsfeld that 'son of (blank)' and that" -- as you can see, that other expletive. "Half a dozen times people saw him just put his head down on a conference table in frustration, much as I had seen him do in his office."
I think that would make a lot of people right now extremely uncomfortable to know that this type of tension was building to the point where Richard Myers would use foul language and drop his head to the table.
MARKS: Kyra, I can't comment on that. I wasn't present. I don't have a personal relationship with the sec def, nor the former chairmen. And so it would be inappropriate for me to say anything.
PHILLIPS: Did he ever frustrate you? Did the defense secretary every frustrate you? You were the guy right there dealing with intelligence. Did he frustrate you then? Does he frustrate you now?
MARKS: What frustrated me then was not him personally. I don't have a personal relationship with the man. And as the senior intel guy on the ground, my relationship was buried under -- under layers of a command and control structure. All great folks.
What concerned me most was that there were intelligence differences that were voiced, and in many cases decisions were made that were not supported by some of the input. And so you sit there and you go, they either have something we don't have, or clearly there are other factors that I'm not privy to that are coming in to the decision that's being made at his level.
PHILLIPS: The Bush -- or the book, rather, also quotes Bush as being obsessed with "scorecards" and "body counts." Woodward writes that a question the president often asked the military was, "They killed three of ours. How many did we kill of theirs?"
Now, is that the type of question the commander in chief asks his military leaders? Is that appropriate?
MARKS: Absolutely not the kind of question. So that goes to your question about appropriateness.
I never heard conversations like that, and I was present at the creation of most of this. And, in fact, Kyra, I need to tell you -- I get a little bit emotional when I think about this.
In the early days when we were in there, there were discussions about how do you measure? What's the metric of our success? And it was emphatic.
In the uniformed formation it was very emphatic. We're not talking about body counts. Don't stick it in your situation reports, don't stick it in your routine updates. Don't talk about it over the net, because we don't care about that. That's not how you measure success.
You measure your success in a number of ways, and those are the effects that you're trying to achieve. Not a body count. I mean, I don't know what his source is and, frankly, I would disagree with that completely.
PHILLIPS: General Marks, I'm eager to finish the entire book, no doubt. I know you -- are you going to read the entire book?
MARKS: Sure. Absolutely.
PHILLIPS: All right. We'll talk again, then.
PHILLIPS: I know this won't be the end of it.
And also, we are waiting for a briefing from the White House. We will take that live when it happens.
Also, a reminder that Bob Woodward will join Larry King to talk about his new book on Monday night right here on CNN. As always, "LARRY KING LIVE" begins at 9:00 Eastern.
And a reminder. This weekend on CNN, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, why he says the war is not a mistake. We've got the exclusive interview, the candid comments. You can watch "Rumsfeld: Man of War," CNN Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8:00 Eastern.
LEMON: All right. Straight now to the newsroom and Fredricka Whitfield with some breaking news for us -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Well, Don, we've been hearing rumblings over the past few days, maybe even weeks, that there might be another message coming from the number two man of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Well, apparently, a new tape -- you're not looking at it right now, but a new videotape has been posted on the Islamist Web sites, and our experts are looking through it, trying to authenticate it, trying to translate it, trying to decipher what kind of message is being sent and just about when it may have been recorded and what might be promised on that tape.
We continue to look at it. And when we are able to decipher it, we'll be able to bring more to you -- Don.
LEMON: All right.
Fredricka Whitfield in the newsroom.
Thank you very much for that breaking news.
Well, stay tuned to us.
Straight ahead, ambushed in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot move! Please, help me!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm taking fire! 10-4. Come back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need help!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm fixing to get killed, god damn it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Man. Not a soldier or Marine, but a contractor trapped in his own truck. His chilling story just ahead in the NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: And we're monitoring the White House briefing right now. We'll take you there live. Waiting to see if there's any mention made of Bob Woodward's book that's already making headlines. "State of Denial" is the title. It's going to go on book stands. You'll be able to get your hands on it. And he talks a lot about the war in Iraq and the criticism surrounding the leaders that have made certain decisions, specifically Sec-Def Donald Rumsfeld.
LEMON: But, first a developing story. And we go straight to the NEWSROOM. A new al Qaeda tape from a leader there. Fredricka Whitfield monitoring it for us.
WHITFIELD: Well, we're getting some indications of some of the things that the number two man, al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri, may be talking about on the tape, which we continue to look through, through our translators and other experts. The video you're looking at, however, is file.
But apparently new tape is on an Islamic Web site. And it's expected that al-Zawahiri is talking about Pope Benedict, President Bush and Darfur. We don't know exactly in what context he's talking about these things, because again, our translators and experts are going through the tape to make sure that it is authentic -- being authenticated, for one, and then try to decipher exactly what's being said. And when we get more information on that, Don, we'll bring that to you.
PHILLIPS: All right, thanks so much, Fred.
And like we mentioned, Tony Snow addressing reporters right now. We want to take that White House briefing live.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... who do not subscribe to their vision of the world, a vision darkened by fear, murder and hatred.
And we stand by the Iraqi people, who are rejecting this message of violence and hate in favor of peace and freedom, men like the tribal leader of Al Anbar, who this week called for al-Muhajer to turn himself in and who is working to rid Anbar of terrorists.
Finally, this: President Bush will welcome Croatian Prime Minister Ivo -- and forgive me if I pronounce it improperly, maybe one of you knows -- Sanader -- is that? -- Sanader -- I got it right; thank you -- to the White House on October 17th, 2006.
The meeting will provide an opportunity for the president and the prime minister to strengthen further the partnership between the United States and Croatia.
The president looks forward to discussing cooperation in the war on terror and stability in Southeast Europe with the prime minister, as well as U.S. support for Croatia's NATO and European Union aspirations.
QUESTION: Will there be a bill signing if the House and the Senate gets it worked out on tribunals?
SNOW: Not scheduled yet. No, it's not going to be today.
SNOW: If we do it -- rather than making a promise, I don't anticipate it being today or over the weekend. We'll try to get to you as soon as we actually have it something to give you.
QUESTION: There's something I want to ask you about the Woodward book, because he's asserting that the White House is not being honest with the American public. And he's talking primarily about attacks on U.S. and allied troops, that the number has been increasing while the Defense Department has been keeping it's (inaudible) insurgency's been growing, that there has been a Defense Department report saying violence will begin to wane in 2007.
Your reaction to all this?
SNOW: There's a whole lot of stuff here. You know, in a lot of ways, the book's certainly cotton candy -- it, kind of, melts on contact.
We've read this book before. This tends to repeat what we've seen in a number of other books that have been out this year where people are ventilating old disputes over troop levels.
Bob Woodward's a guy who comes up with details other people don't have, but it's worth, sort of, taking a look at a lot of these things.
Now, when it comes, for instance, to the issue of assaults on troops, this is something on which the president's regularly briefed and people know about it.
SNOW: Nobody's tried to mislead anyone about it.
Secretary Rumsfeld did say that one of the things we're trying to go do is to document more carefully and exhaustively what is going on. And in that, where he was saying that we're taking all sorts of different things from a stray bullet to a full-on attack, I believe he compared it to apples and bananas. And Mr. Woodward found it stunning that the president would compare -- that the secretary of defense would compare such stuff to fruit.
The fact is, he is saying that we are now taking any kind of action that may be directed at American forces, and the president is informed of that. But there's no intent to mislead.
And, furthermore, maybe even the more important point -- I'll let you finish up here in a moment -- the idea that the president somehow has been either talking about this or looking at it through rose- colored glasses -- at one point Mr. Woodward talks about an intelligence assessment the president has, and said, "Just two days earlier" -- it contradicted something said two days earlier -- well, you all happened to be there two days earlier. It was at a press conference in Chicago when the president was talking about the war.
Here's what he said. He said, "The central front in the war on terror is Iraq, and I know Iraq is on the minds of a lot of people here in Chicago. It's hard work. It's hard work because we face an enemy that will kill innocent people in order to achieve an objective, and their objective is to drive us out of Iraq so they can have safe haven from which to launch attacks against modern Muslim nations, so they can spread their ideology of hate. They want to believe that capitalist societies and democracies are inherently weak."
Later on he says, "There's been a lot of sacrifice in the war on terror. People have lost life. We've lost obviously a lot of lives here in the homeland, and we lost lives overseas. I think of Corporal Ryan Cummings," who is from the Chicago area.
The president, contrary to the assertion, was not, in fact, painting a rose-colored picture. He has been saying that it's a tough war, it's a long war, it's a war that's going to outlive his presidency.
QUESTION: Let me follow up on this cotton candy a little bit, because -- well, let me just clarify. So when Woodward asserts that the number of attacks has been going up but that the Defense Department kept that secret, is that just untrue? SNOW: The Defense Department -- what he's saying is that classified documents -- classified briefings remain classified.
The president is aware of the reports that he gets. And there is a shifting situation, and sometimes the attacks go up and sometimes they've gone down.
SNOW: As you've also noted that there have been fluctuations in casualties.
If you take a look at recent events, what's happened? The terrorists have been shifting to civilian targets.
But, look, let me put it this way. The president, as he said, worries every day about what's going on in the war and how best to fight it. And the last thing he ever wants -- and many of you have dealt with him -- when he asks questions, it's not to sugarcoat something. Instead, what he's trying to find out is exactly what the situation is. That means he is looking for the best data he can get.
The idea that there is a cover-up, you've got correspondents there. There's news about this each and every day. It is absolutely no secret that people are targeting American troops, as well as civilians, over in Iraq, and that there is a determined enemy. That's what the president's been saying.
And one final point, and then I'll -- a couple of weeks ago, the president was being accused of trying to scare people. Now, all of a sudden, he's accused of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Neither one is true.
What the president's trying to do is to serve effectively as commander in chief and get good readouts from people in the field.
QUESTION: Woodward also reports that Abizaid said that Don Rumsfeld's lost all credibility. That's not cotton candy, is it?
SNOW: No, that's gossip and I will let the generals handle that.
QUESTION: Two things, Tony.
First, to get off Woodward for just a second, when the president, yesterday, said that there are some in Washington who feel that we should not go on the offensive in the war on terror, can he back that up and say who those people are, when they...
SNOW: I think what you can do is you can take a look at the comments -- and this will be, kind of, a centerpiece as we look forward. "Centerpiece" is probably the wrong word. It's going to be a key issue in the campaign ahead -- of what you do in fighting the war on terror. Do you move aggressively against the enemy, or do you say, "We need to move out"?
That is one of the key points of cleavage between the parties. And, you know, one of the things the president -- and what I think we're going to find are clarifying moments where people won't have to declare what they really mean.
QUESTION: That's not really what I asked. I mean, I asked when people have said they don't want to be on the offensive in the war on terror?
SNOW: Well, and I'm giving you a characterization.
Does somebody say, "I don't want to go on the offense"? No. But if somebody says, "I wish to strategically redeploy to Okinawa," I think that would be construed as not being on the offense.
QUESTION: On the offense in the war on terror?
SNOW: On the offense in Iraq.
And as far as the war on terror, take a look at the vote yesterday. You had a vote on Hamdan legislation: 160 Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against a program that allows us to detain high-value targets, to question them and to bring them to justice. That's a clear difference in the way you fight it.
There have been votes on the terror surveillance program. There are very clear differences.
So the question is, if you don't want to do those things, if you don't want to listen to terrorists, if you don't want to detain them, if you don't want to question them, if you don't want to bring them to justice, then tell us what you do want to do.
QUESTION: Well, first of all, is that really an accurate description of the (inaudible) vote?
SNOW: I'm telling you what the bill does. If you vote it, that's what you're voting against.
QUESTION: Then, second question, this Blackwill memo about the need for more troops, what's the rationale for not listening to that...
SNOW: Well, number one, it's not true.
As a matter of fact, if you take a look at a Jerry Bremer interview on "Meet the Press" earlier this year, what was played back to him was a conversation with Tim Russert that was contemporaneous with a presentation by him and Bob Blackwill of their proposals for having more troops in it.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld a while back was asked about this and he said the following. He said, "Just before he left, he sent a memorandum to me indicating that he thought there should be more troops. And it was within a matter of weeks before he departed. I said that, and sat down with General Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and said, 'This is a reasonable proposal from a reasonable person. Let's look at it.'"
Jerry Bremer also said in the "Meet the Press" interview that that's in fact what Don Rumsfeld did. Toward the end of the interview, he was asked about it. He said, "He sent you a memo saying 'I will consider this.'" This is Tim Russert to Bremer. Bremer's answer: "He said he'd received it and would consider it, and he did consider it."
There is a chain of command, and the chain of command involves a lot of people, and the president will get differing advice. But the idea that somehow the president rejects or ignores advice is simply wrong.
And so what you have here are people making serious determinations. Donald Rumsfeld is the secretary of defense, and in the chain of command he is the person who will make the recommendations.
What you have not heard, I don't think, are the generals involved in the theaters saying, "I asked for something and I didn't get it."
Tommy Franks' book is replete with discussions of that. And you can ask the generals in the field, because the president has said it over and over again, "If they ask for it, they'll get it."
QUESTION: So what was the reason for not going with that suggestion?
SNOW: The reason for not going with the suggestion is that the generals and the military commanders had suggested a different course of action.
But on the other hand, if you take a look at the arc of troops during that year, guess what happened. More troops were added during the course of the year.
As a matter of fact, by the time elections occurred in late 2004, I think the troop level had risen from about 100,000 at the beginning of the year to about 160,000.
The president has also made it clear that he continues to respond as commander in chief to developments on the ground and to requests from commanders.
QUESTION: But it does seem to raise a question that if someone whose credibility -- presumably the president trusted Paul Bremer, his choice to run the operation there after Jay Garner, who had also apparently, according to Woodward's reporting, asked for a much sizable -- much greater in number force, about 300,000, for the postwar reconstruction period -- when the president constantly says to the American people that he listens to those commanders and does not make decisions politically about troops levels and then you hear from these seemingly credible sources that they did, in fact, want more -- and Bremer said he asked for more and didn't get it, there seems to be a disconnect.
SNOW: Well, first, you're mixing apples and oranges, to keep the fruit analogy going.
For instance, Jay Garner was talking about 300,000 Iraqi troops. He was talking about training up 300,000 Iraqis. They thought that they may be able to take remnants of the armies, and they were not available.
But I'm glad you raised the Jay Garner question, because there was also some concern that he had done a briefing and nobody asked questions. That's because the proposals, in fact, had been before people for a long time. It had been vetted. It had gone through the principals. The president and everybody else were familiar. And what General Garner was presenting was something that they had known and seen.
Jerry Bremer was in charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He was not in charge of military operations. Others were in charge of those.
And his recommendations were something -- again, Donald Rumsfeld said, "He's a serious person. We'll take it seriously."
QUESTION: But it gives the impression that if more troops are requested by people of significant authority -- and I understand he says military commanders, and I understand that Bremer's a civilian. But for him to not respond to that when he...
SNOW: Well, wait a minute...
QUESTION: ... constantly says however many troops are needed will be provided raises a question about does he really provide enough troops when clearly adding more troops at that time would have been politically unpleasant.
SNOW: Permit me to explain the chain of command. A civilian...
SNOW: No, because what you have just created is a straw-man argument and I think it's worth being honest. If you want to talk about people listening, you also have to talk about those who are tasked with making those recommendations.
Now, Jerry Bremer, precisely because of his position, was...
QUESTION: (inaudible) a recommendation if he wasn't...
SNOW: He made such a recommendation. That's different. He made such a recommendation. Whether it was in or out of his lane, it was listened to. The fact is that the president does listen to recommendations.
Let me give you a different example.
Earlier this year -- not so long ago -- you people were asking me, "Is it true they're going to be down to under 100,000 troops before the end of the year?" I mean, politically, that would be great. If the president can say to the American people before Election Day we're down under 100,000, that would be great.
Instead, what the president and the commanders have said is, no, the battlefield requirements indicate that we're going to need 140,000, at least into the first quarter of next year.
The president is not sitting around trying to make political judgments about this.
Not only is that irresponsible, it's not the way he operates. He doesn't sit around and try to take a look at the latest poll numbers to figure out what you do when American lives are at risk and when the operation needs to proceed. He considers all of the recommendations laid before him.
And as you might also know, look, this is a war. And you're going to have a lot of really smart people with completely different opinions. And, quite often in a book like this, you're going to see people who are on the losing side of arguments being especially outspoken about their opinions that nobody listened to them.
As a matter of fact, the average Washington memoir ought to be subtitled, "If Only They'd Listened to Me."
And so, you have a situation in which a lot of people are going back through that. Which is fine. Because these are smart people and they also want to win.
QUESTION: Can I follow on one more general question? Did the president every direct any members of his senior staff to avoid using the word "insurgency"?
SNOW: I honestly don't know. I have never heard it. I'll go back and try to get guidance because I've been here since May. I'll tell you, in that time, that has never -- he's used the word.
QUESTION: But we're going back to...
SNOW: I know. And I'll try to find out.
I don't know. I'm not prepared to answer the question. QUESTION: Tony, can we go back to -- it seems like you're saying that Bob Woodward's book is inaccurate, where the administration didn't seem to have any problem with his books in the past that painted a very good picture of the administration.
Are you saying this because you're on the losing side of the argument now? Because you're being very defensive about what's in that book. And yet you're not saying the attacks are down.
QUESTION: You're saying that's a classified report.
SNOW: People are trying to attack our troops; that's no secret.
QUESTION: Are they higher? Are you in a state of denial? Can the American public really know what's going on there?
SNOW: I think the American people get a pretty good sense. The American people have a sense.
Look, every day, there are casualty reports that are public record. When people die, those are public record.
And some of the definitions of attacks -- I'll tell you what. I'll try to find out what I can do to provide in terms of specificity.
But it is no secret that especially in Baghdad, you have people who are trying to make Baghdad the central front of the central front of the war on terror. And you will expect people to commit attacks.
What does that mean? That means it's a war. And that in this particular time, people are trying to go on the offensive.
It also means that our people are alert and trying to defend themselves. It also means they need adjustments.
What happens is that we are trying to provide the best equipment, the best protection, the best medicine.
Again, perhaps I've been missing it, but all I've been hearing from you guys from the time I've been here is, "Isn't it true it's getting worse?"
The fact is you've got a war. You have a conflict. People are going after people.
QUESTION: But, Tony, it's three and a half years in. And you're losing approximately the same number of American forces every day. You're losing far more Iraqis.
Is it not getting worse?
Understanding that that is one metric. But are you seeing any metrics, are you seeing any factors that say things are going fantastically, other than those elections?
SNOW: Several things. The problem is, whenever you talk about metrics, the thing that the American people are focused on, that makes sense, is Baghdad.
So if I'd sit around here, I don't want to get accused of, sort of, putting on a clown hat and pretending that everything is rosy in Iraq, because it's not.
You know that in a number of provinces life has in fact returned -- or assumed a normality that it's never had before. But let's face it.
QUESTION: The same provinces are in bad shape...
SNOW: Exactly right.
QUESTION: ... as they were three and a half years ago.
SNOW: Well, yes, the insurgency isn't going to give up. The people who are trying to commit acts of terror, they're not going to give up.
And the other question you have to ask yourself is, are we in it to win? And the answer is yes.
And to we think -- it is worth reminding everybody, that in the face of this kind of violence, 12 million people voted and risked their lives.
As a matter of fact, what you saw in places like Ramadi were voting level going from the teens up into the 70s. That's remarkable. That's remarkable in an area that's known for its terror.
So they know what the score is. They know what the stakes are. They know what the dangers are.
And the people of Iraq -- and Prime Minister Maliki made the same point today -- are determined to get the freedom that they want and deserve. And we are going to go ahead and prosecute the battle.
I think what everybody's arguing -- and it's understandable -- is, yes, it's tough. You've got bad guys and they're going to fight. And we're going to fight back.
QUESTION: Just a couple more.
Andy Card told ABC today that in fact he did recommend that Don Rumsfeld resign -- the president, that they were looking at the entire Cabinet.
QUESTION: Why wouldn't the president accept that recommendation? Can you confirm that that, in fact, happened?
SNOW: I tried to get through to Andy. I'm not going to contradict something Andy has said.
What Andy was tasked with doing at the beginning of the new administration...
SNOW: I didn't ask the president about it today. I was trying to talk to Andy directly. And as you know, he's out giving speeches on the West Coast, and I missed him.
But there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
He was asked to take a look at everybody, including himself. And it's typical, as a matter of fact, quite often in administrations at this point people are asked to submit their resignations.
The president's commander in chief. He picks.
Now, what is said in the book -- and there have been people in the building who have talked to Andy today. There are two characterizations that at least I can say on good authority are incorrect, which was, number one, that he was bitter about what was going on in Iraq; and, two, that he left as a bitter man. Anybody who knows Andy Card knows that there's not a bitter bone in his body.
PHILLIPS: Tony Snow getting a lot of questions, as expected, today from reporters there in the briefing room about Bob Woodward's new book, "State of Denial." A lot of quotes slowly coming out of that book that goes on sale Monday -- some of -- like, CNN and some other institutions, we got our hands on that book and were able to get some of those quotes.
Also taking a look at the "60 Minutes" interview that Bob Woodward has already done, and something that he did say in that interview: "It's getting to the point now where there are 800, 900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day, that's four an hour, attacking our forces."
It's quotes that like in this book that -- it's stirring up journalists and it's forcing them to ask a lot of tough questions as always, even more so today to Tony Snow, about the truth behind numbers, the truth behind various quotes in this book.
And you can hear more actually from Bob Woodward. He's going to join Larry King to talk about his new book on Monday night, right here on CNN. And as always, "LARRY KING LIVE" begins at 9:00 Eastern.
And a reminder this weekend also, the other side. CNN Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, why he says the war is not a mistake -- an exclusive interview, candid comment. You can watch "RUMSFELD: MAN OF WAR" on CNN Saturday and Sunday evenings, 8:00 Eastern.
LEMON: Plus we've been talking about that al Qaeda tape, that al-Zawahiri tape that is supposedly out now. Well, we're getting new information on that tape. We'll share it with you right after the break. More from the NEWSROOM straight ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Welcome back to the NEWSROOM. We've been hearing now for a couple of days about this al-Zawahiri tape, an al Qaeda leader, apparently Osama bin Laden's second in command. That tape is out now, appearing on some Islamist Web sites on the Internet. We're going to talk about that tape with Laura Mansfield. She's a terrorism expert.
And you predicted this tape a few days ago, Laura. Have you seen it yet?
LAURA MANSFIELD, TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, actually, we have seen it. The tape is 17 minutes, 51 seconds long and as promised, it addresses -- the first two minutes of the tape address President Bush directly, and then the remainder of the tape addresses the issues with the pope and also makes mention of the situation in Darfur.
LEMON: Let's talk about the first part of the tape where he addresses President Bush first, and he uses some very strong language here. First, he criticizes President Bush about the secret prisons he talks about, and he said he calls bush a "deceitful charlatan" and "you know that you should be releasing our captured. That is a duty."
Did you hear that part of the tape?
MANSFIELD: Yes I did. He seems to be really focused, the first part of the tape, about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his capture. He insists that although the U.S. administration says they've received valuable information from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and some of the other captives -- and, again, keep repeating Khalid Shaik Mohammed's name -- that the information is not, has not, been a benefit to the United States.
He accuses Bush over and over of being a deceitful liar and asks him why he can't tell the American people about the disasters that the troops are facing in Afghanistan and Iraq, and about the real reasons for invading Iraq.
LEMON: Right, Laura. And it goes to say "the murderer and spiller of Muslim blood," stated that he has secret prisons and then moves on.
LEMON: What does he have to say about the pope?
MANSFIELD: Well, we're just starting to get in to that portion of it. What really interesting is the difference between the first portion of the tape and the second portion of the tape. The first portion has Dr. Zawahiri looking what appears to be an office with a light behind him, probably from a Chromage (ph).
And the second part of the tape, where he's dealing with the pope, the lighting is totally different. He looks almost greenish. It's against just a plain sheet background, which may actually be outdoors because of the way the wind seems to be blowing it. In the areas where he is speaking about the pope, obviously he's criticizing the pope's comments about Islam and we'll have more on that in a little while.
LEMON: Yes, Laura Mansfield, thank you very much. The second in as many days, al Qaeda tapes coming out. Yesterday it was Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. Today it is al-Zawahiri. We'll have more, right after the break.
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