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THIS WEEK AT WAR
Iraqi Police Come Under Investigation; South Korean Fire on North Korean Forces
Aired October 8, 2006 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, THIS WEEK AT WAR: Going from bad to worse in Iraq, are top officials rethinking the war strategy? The war of words, how the conflict in Iraq will factor into the U.S. elections just one month away now.
Plus, a North Korean nuclear threat. An attention getting ploy or a deadly serious pledge? I'm John Roberts with THIS WEEK AT WAR. Let's take a look at what our correspondents reported day by day. Monday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist traveling in Afghanistan said, Taliban fighters are too numerous to defeat on the battlefield and should be brought into the government. Tuesday, North Korea says it will hold a nuclear test but won't say where or when. Wednesday, the Iraqi government pulls a national police brigade off the streets of Baghdad after suspicion they had given death squads a pass. Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes a surprise visit to Baghdad and rips into Iraqi leaders saying political inaction isn't helping security. Friday, foreign ministers meet in London for talks on Iran's nuclear program on whether more talk or sanctions will force Tehran to back down.
Among our elite THIS WEEK AT WAR troops, in Washington, Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks on securing Iraq one neighborhood at a time. In Baghdad, Arwa Damon on a new surge in violence and Anderson Cooper on "The Killing Fields" in Africa. THIS WEEK AT WAR.
Did this bloody week in Iraq show the failure of the government there and put new pressure on the stay the course strategy of President Bush here? What is the strategy going forward? Joining me now from Baghdad, CNN correspondent Arwa Damon. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is at her post and with me here in the studio, CNN military analyst Major General Don Sheppard, U.S. Air Force retired. A new problem acknowledged in the Iraqi capital this week, police there may have been infiltrated by some of the people that they're supposed to be fighting. Here's part of Jamie McIntyre's report from Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now a brigade of Baghdad's police have been pulled off the streets on suspicion of involvement with kidnappings and murders. The police of the 8th Brigade will get new criminal background checks and face lie detectors in an effort to weed out militia killers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of State, made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Thursday. She leaned very heavily on Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to do something about these militias, basically saying he doesn't have a choice. He's got to get it done. Any indication that he's listening this time?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He might be listening, but the question is, is he actually going to be able to do something and should he decide to do something to actively go out and order his Iraqi security forces and the U.S. military to disarm these militias. If he's going to be able to do just that, he obviously is looking for a political solution. There are a number of these militias that actually are part of or have an alliance to parties that aren't his government. This gets into very sticky political territory. And that's what many people here want to see, is that action being taken to disarm the militias? As of now we're not seeing him doing that just yet.
ROBERTS: It appears as though there was increasing concern among many people about the way that this war is going. John Warner, the senior senator from the state of Virginia, who has always been a supporter of this Iraq war suddenly turned critic this week, saying that he thinks that the war is beginning to show signs of drifting sideways. Here's what he had to say, quote, in two or three months, if this thing hasn't come to fruition and this level of violence is not under control and this government able to function, I think it's the responsibility of our government internally to determine is there a change of course that we should take?
Barbara Starr, what's the sense there at the Pentagon? Are generals beginning to become concerned about the direction this war is taking?
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, I think there is no question but that they are and they are very concerned. I have to tell you, it has been some time since I have heard any general here in the Pentagon hallways be very cheerful or upbeat about Iraq. The tone, the climate, the atmosphere has changed here. It's very sober- minded, very much a feeling that this is going to be very tough in the months ahead. Remember, this is the time frame in which the U.S. military thought troops would be coming home. Now more troops are staying and it doesn't look very good at least through the first half of next year even unless there is a fundamental change on the ground and nobody is predicting that at this point.
ROBERTS: General Shepperd, for the most part, you have been upbeat about this war. How are you feeling now and in the contacts that you maintain in the Pentagon, how do you read the tone there?
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD, US AIR FORCE (RET): Yeah, my views reflect pretty much what Barbara just said John. I was upbeat after the election. I though we're going to be able to pull this off. I'm not depressed, but I'm very much discouraged. I heard no one that I talk to expressing optimism that this is going in the right way and so it's very, very discouraging to me. ROBERTS: How close to depressed are you?
SHEPPERD: I'm getting pretty close to depressed. What I hear is I heard the secretary of State, statements being attributed to her about a couple of months. I heard Senator Warner coming back, who as you said, has been a supporter of the war. He seems to be discouraged and I hear this couple of three months out of him. A couple three months can mean many things. It can mean you either get your act together or we'll disarm the militias or it could mean that we're going to start to cut out of here.
ROBERTS: Particularly deadly week this week for U.S. forces as well, more than 20 killed in just the past week, a lot of that in Baghdad, as well. Arwa Damon went out on an embed with U.S. forces. Here's part of what she reported on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON: The soldier was shot on that street corner, took a bullet through the arm and was immediately medivac'ed. U.S. forces then searched this home and found shell cases littering the rooftop. The soldiers say every time they hit the streets they roll the dice and with each step, the stakes seem to go higher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Arwa Damon, rolling the dice. Is that an effective military strategy?
DAMON: Probably not, but that is what these troops are facing each time and they say it in their own words. It's a very common expression. Each time they step out, they roll the dice. They take their chances. They don't really know what is waiting for them out there in these streets that every day are becoming even more dangerous and especially with these units that are coming back sometimes for a second or third time when you talk to those that have been here in the past. They are able to see for themselves how much the security situation has deteriorated. They're very aware of that.
ROBERTS: Barbara Starr, between U.S. forces and the Iraqi forces that are now stood up, there are some 440,000 troops available. Yet as Arwa keeps reporting and Michael Ware keeps reporting, the violence keeps increasing in Baghdad. What's the problem? Are the Iraqi troops effective? Is there just something wrong fundamentally with the plan? STARR: That's exactly what commanders want to know now. The calculation was when they had zero Iraqi forces, they had about 150,000 U.S. troops now, 300,000 Iraqi forces and still 140,000 U.S. troops. So it's a fundamental question of strategy. If you've got all those Iraqi forces, what is happening? Why can't you bring some of the U.S. troops home? What's the problem with the security situation and, John, that report this week that an Iraqi police brigade was taken off the streets of Baghdad underscores the problem. The Iraqi security forces simply not pulling their weight across the board. Some are but many are not.
ROBERTS: Perhaps some good news though that some problems are being identified. General Sheppard, Anthony Cordesman (ph), former Pentagon analyst, well-known strategist says that the battle for Baghdad is a decisive moment. He said, winning Baghdad won't win the war, but losing it will lose the war. Do you agree?
SHEPPERD: He's absolutely correct. If you can't bring security to your capital, you can't get the people's faith in the civilian government, which is the key to everything working in Iraq. Remember, this was a three-phase strategy. The Iraqi military was supposed to be trained. That appears to be going very well. But they were supposed to back up the Iraqi police. That's not going well and then the U.S. forces were supposed to disengage and help when needed. What you're seeing is U.S. forces being brought back into the fray. This is not encouraging and Baghdad is the key, John.
ROBERTS: It's just amazing, Don, that every week we talk about the same thing again and again and it doesn't seem to be getting much better. Arwa Damon in Baghdad, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon and Major General Don Sheppard, U.S. Air Force retired, thanks very much, appreciate it.
Now, a THIS WEEK AT WAR remembrance, Army Private Hannah McKinney was supposed to be home this month to celebrate her son's second birthday. Instead she's buried at Riverside Memorial Cemetery in California. McKinney was struck and killed by an American humvee in Iraq. She was 20 years old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT HEAVRIN, PFC McKINNEY'S FATHER: When she went to re-enlist, I was in this other room on my hands and knees saying "don't do it. Don't do it. They'll send you to Iraq."
BARBIE HEAVRIN, PFC McKINNEY'S MOTHER: She wanted to move on and provide for Todd. I think she thought her best shot was the military, because it was a sure bet for benefits.
M. HEAVRIN: When she was at Ft. Lewis, Washington, her whole wall in her kitchen was posted with love notes from Chris.
B. HEAVRIN: Like a wallpaper.
M. HEAVRIN: I said, my goodness, this boy loves her. He's really in love with my daughter.
B. HEAVRIN: They got married October 24th and she left for Iraq I think November 5th. She was proud to say she was in the army. I'm proud in another sense that she saw that she was fit for that kind of duty and that she felt like she could serve her country. Star, you're right. She would want him to be loved the way she would have loved him. She wants him to be loved and cared for. She wants him to know that she loved him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Military officials are investigating whether the humvee driver who struck McKinney may have been drunk. Well, the possibility of a nuclear North Korea is shaking the international community. Their long- range missile test failed in July and this week the reclusive nation made a new pledge. Is this a serious threat or just a political ploy? That's next on THIS WEEK AT WAR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: It would be a very provocative act by the North Koreans. They've not yet done it, but I think it would be a very provocative act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That's secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday warning North Korea to back down from its pledge to conduct a nuclear test. The secretive nation defended its right to become a nuclear power to protect itself from quote U.S. aggression." Is North Korea a bigger nuclear threat than Iran? Joining us now Richard Roth, senior United Nations correspondent and here with me in Washington our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre and Joseph Cirincione. He's the senior vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress. Here's how Jamie McIntyre reported on the situation on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: The U.S. has spy satellites trained on several potential North Korean nuclear test sites, including this one on the eastern coastline. Pentagon sources confirm there has been suspicious movement of people, equipment and vehicles that would tend to buttress North Korea's claim it's preparing for an underground nuclear test.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Joe Cirincione, what would be the impact of a North Korean nuclear test be? We're pretty sure that they have nukes, but would actually testing one put it on a whole different level?
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Absolutely. We're sure that they have some amount of plutonium. We're not sure how good it is. We think they have a device that could ignite that plutonium into an atomic reaction but we're not sure if it works. Neither are they. A test would vaporize all doubts. It wouldn't be a direct threat for us, very unlikely they would actually use the weapon on us or our allies. What matters is what happens in the region? What does South Korea, a country that used to have a nuclear program. Do they reconsider their nuclear options? Japan has ten tons of plutonium, could have a nuclear weapon in months of a decision to do so. Taiwan, similarly. Does India decide if it wants to restart its nuclear tests and of course Iran is watching to see how all this plays out and they could press ahead with their nuclear program.
ROBERTS: Could really ratchet tensions in the region. CIRINCIONE: Absolutely. It's that nuclear reaction chain that you worry about more than the direct use. It could send the nonproliferation regime into a final disastrous spiral.
ROBERTS: So Richard Roth, what are diplomats doing to try to prevent this? There's all this hand wringing over Iran's nuclear program and meanwhile, North Korea is seeming going unaddressed.
RICHARD ROTH, SR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: The Security Council issued a statement after a few days of talks that firm this statement and it tells North Korea, don't do it and if you do it, in effect, there could be consequences and this time china is saying if there is a test, China will not be able to protect North Korea from whatever sanctions plus the council elects to do.
ROBERTS: In terms of the language coming out of the State Department, listen to what Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill said about this on Wednesday. He said quote, North Korea can have a future or it can have these weapons. It cannot have both. Jamie McIntyre, that sounds like more than saber rattling. That sounds like blow this thing up. We just declared war.
ROTH: Them's is fighting words but I can tell you that, checking with Pentagon sources, we could tell you there is no indication there's any serious consideration of a military strike in North Korea. The most they're talking about is possibly some sort of naval blockade around the country to perhaps interdict illicit arms, increase trade sanctions. But I have to say also, back in 1994, when the secretary of Defense Perry drew up plans to strike North Korea over the (INAUDIBLE) facility, we had no idea at the time how close they came to recommending that.
ROBERTS: So could the Pentagon be closer than we think they are? They're just not saying as they were in 1995? ROTH: That's always a possibility, just like it's a possibility North Korea doesn't really have a nuclear weapon. But at the moment, there's no indication that anything other than tougher economic sanctions and perhaps a naval blockade would be something that would be considered.
ROBERTS: So Joe Cirincione, here we have the threat of more bad behavior on the part of North Korea following that string of missile tests over the fourth of July weekend. Is Kim Jong Il still trying to get noticed? Is he still trying to say, hey, I'm out there, why are you talking to Iran? You should be talking to me?
CIRINCIONE: The North Koreans are expert at creating bargaining chips out of nothing. He announces he's going to do a test and so now we have to do something to take that chip off the table. This is what happens when you blow the previous chances to negotiate. We could have cut a deal with him years ago. We were on the edge of doing that when the Clinton administration left office. Colin Powell, secretary of State wanted to continue that process. He was thwarted by some of the hard line elements.
ROBERTS: I remember I was at the White House that day and Powell said we're going to continue with the dialogue and then he came out into a hallway about an hour later and said, oh, no, we're changing our mind.
CIRINCIONE: And he got knee-capped on the way out. So we've had this divide in the administration ever since. Do we negotiate with them or do we overthrow them? Unless we resolve that, we're never going to be able to resolve the North Korean crisis.
ROBERTS: Richard Roth, China has been always been very reluctant to crack the whip on North Korea, but they seemed genuinely concerned this time around about this threat of a test.
ROTH: Yes. They're worried obviously if North Korea went nuclear and the impact. China also saying again look, we're not as tight with them as people think and don't have as much influence, but many countries here disagree due to China's historic connection, economic, flow of refugees. There's a lot of connections there. So China thinks, though, that other countries could also do more, maybe talking between the U.S. and North Korea directly. Russia raised that possibility with Ambassador Bolton and the U.S. delegate said behind closed doors, how many soldiers and people did you lose in effect in the Korean War? Things definitely got testy here.
ROBERTS: Jamie McIntyre, if we go back to the missile tests over the fourth of July weekend, there were a lot of angry words that were thrown back and forth, but essentially nothing happened. There were no consequences for North Korea. Would there really be any consequences if they were to explode a nuclear bomb?
MCINTYRE: There would be consequences, but again, the problem with the military option is that it risks all-out war in the Korean peninsula. The estimates in the Pentagon, that would be a million casualties including civilians because of the proximity of Seoul. So there would be consequences and one of the consequences might be as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld argued this week, a demonstration of the failure of the international community to be able to really influence North Korea's behavior and as Joe has pointed out, that could have a ripple effect as other people are emboldened to proceed with their programs.
ROBERTS: Joe Cirincione, do you think this is going to happen and if you do, when?
CIRINCIONE: The reason we're discussing it is we don't know. Yes, this could happen. I take this threat very seriously. I don't believe the administration has a coherent strategy for actually stopping this test. I think North Korea is going to string it out for a bit more, maybe a week or two, but if they don't get some sign that the U.S. is actually willing to come back and bargain, give them security assurances, economic incentives then I think they're going to pop one off.
ROBERTS: So your gut tells you that they're going to go ahead.
CIRINCIONE: That they're going to go ahead and they're going to say, look, India had six months of bad press on this (INAUDIBLE) Pakistan did it. We can do it, too. We want to be in the ninth nuclear nation. We're not getting anything by restraining ourselves. Let's see what happens if we actually go --
ROTH: By the way, they're not going to do it -- they get all the benefit of having claiming to be a nuclear power plus the benefit of having seen us step back from the brink if they don't test. I'm a reporter, not a fortune teller. My gut tells me no.
ROBERTS: (INAUDIBLE) people (INAUDIBLE) about Pakistan though and they still went ahead and did it. Not a comforting thought. Joe Cirincione, Jamie McIntyre, Richard Roth, thanks very much. From diplomacy to politics in the fallout from a bad week in Iraq, our war of words segment straight ahead. THIS WEEK AT WAR, stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Time and time again, the Democrats want to have it both ways. They talk tough on terror, but when it comes time and when their votes are counted, (INAUDIBLE) comes in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: President Bush on Tuesday trying to keep terrorism front and center in the political debate. Will the war in Iraq swing the upcoming congressional elections here in the United States or is it being crowded out this week by other news? Joining me in our "War of Words" segment, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux and with me here in the studio John Dickerson. He's the chief political correspondent for the online magazine "Slate." John's just written a book by the way. It's called "On Her Trail" about his late mother Nancy Dickerson" The subtitle is "TV News, First Woman Star." Well, John, since you're the new guest this week, let's start with you. Does the war in Iraq still matter or is it all about the page scandal on Capitol Hill and congressman, ex-Congressman Mark Foley?
JOHN DICKERSON, SLATE MAGAZINE: It still matters because there are going to be explosions on the television all the way from now until Election Day. That may not be the case with Foley. Foley is certainty titillating at the moment, but Iraq is a long-term problem getting worse and it's going to be here for these new members of Congress that are elected. They're going to have to deal with it.
ROBERTS: Right, but there are going to be investigations into the Foley issue. I mean, could that not keep the story going all the way through November 7th and keep Iraq off of the headlines?
DICKERSON: Sure, it'll compete, but what happens is we have video footage from Iraq and we also have the White House and Republicans desperately trying to talk about the war on terror, so that they in some ways, they don't want to talk about Iraq to be sure, but when they talk about the war on terror, the comeback for Democrats is certainly to talk about Iraq. So it's going to be with us certainly from now until Election Day.
ROBERTS: And certainly here on our show THIS WEEK AT WAR, we want to be talking about Iraq and Afghanistan and all of the other national security problems we're facing.
DICKERSON: Also when you ask voters in these polls, you ask them what their key issue is, it's Iraq.
ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux, the whole Foley scandal seemed to give President Bush a little bit of a break as he captured the headlines even though he was trying to break through. But the one thing it took off the front page was this new Bob Woodward book, very critical of the president's handling of Iraq. Do you think that the book is going to have any kind of a lasting impact, because it was bounced off the front pages so quickly?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, the White House certainly hopes that the book and a lot of those explosive headlines go away. It really was a gift for the president this week, and a lot of -- you saw in the beginning of the week administration officials coming out denying some of the accusations about the troop levels. We heard Secretary Rice, we heard from Card, all of them trying to downplay those accusations. So the White House is hoping that that stays off the front pages and that really was perhaps the only shining light they got out of this whole Foley scandal, this Foley fiasco. One person putting it to me this way saying, look, that was the best thing that could have happened to Secretary Rumsfeld. It's the best thing that could have happened to the White House this week.
ROBERTS: It's terrible and good all at the same time but, Suzanne, didn't the White House look a little flat-footed in trying to beat back some of the allegations in the Woodward book, particularly this meeting on July 10th where George Tenet and Cofer Black came over in July of 2001, apparently had this meeting with Condoleezza Rice and said, you got to believe us. It looks like there's going to be a terrorist attack. The White House initially said, well that meeting never happened and then had to come back and say, yeah, it did but it was pretty much routine.
MALVEAUX: That's absolutely right. Secretary Rice as well as the White House officials saying they didn't recall such a meeting even happen, those two months prior to the September 11th attacks. Then they had to amend the message and say, OK, that message, that meeting actually did occur, but it wasn't the kind of thing that they ignored that Rice passed it along to some of the other White House officials but, yeah, I mean, there was a sense that they were struggling in the beginning. Also Card, as well, a former chief of staff saying that the statements were correct, accurate in the book, that he was calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, but that it wasn't put in the larger context so you've got to wonder here, they're definitely parsing the language, saying it wasn't a campaign to get rid of Rumsfeld but certainly there were calls for his ouster.
ROBERTS: Certainly. A lot of people disputing what Woodward put in his book but that people like Andy Card saying everything he said about me was pretty close to true even if maybe the context was a little bit off of what reality was.
But John Dickerson, Woodward's big claim in this book is that the president misled the American public on Iraq. And it seems to be in tune, his claim, with public opinion. A recent CNN poll found when asked is the Bush administration deliberately misleading the public about how the war is going, Opinion Research Corporation poll found 58 percent of people said yes. So the president's obviously got a bit of a problem here.
DICKERSON: He has a big problem and here's what the real damage the book does. One, is it's not in a vacuum. There are other books that talked about incompetence in this White House and there are 825,000 copies of this book. The tonnage of this boo is a very big deal. On the question of misleading, it suggests the president's misleading not only the public but the bigger harsher claim is in the title "State of Denial," the idea that the president is in a state of denial and doesn't understand the facts in front of him. That's the harshest charge for the White House to knock back.
ROBERTS: And it was reported at the very top of this segment, the president going back to his tried and true tactic that he exercised very well in the 2004 campaign, to hit the Democrats hard on the issue of national security and paint them as soft on terrorism. Let's take a look at what the president said in Reno, Nevada, on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I want you all to remember when you go to the polls here in Nevada, what political party supported the president to make sure we had the tools necessary to protect the American people and which political party didn't?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So the president there by inference saying that the Democrats voted against his military commission. They voted against allowing him wiretaps to pursue terror, so he's the better guy to look after national security as are the Republicans. But take a look at this particular number from our CNN poll, who would you be more likely to vote for, a candidate who supports Bush, 37 percent or opposes Bush, 57 percent. Suzanne Malveaux, it looks like President Bush is a drag on his party.
MALVEAUX: You know, it was interesting too is that the president's megaphone might as well have been turned off this week because he was trying out this new language, this rhetoric to try to hit the Democrats as hard as possible alleging that they're weak on terror but essentially that message was drowned out by the Foley accusations as well as some of the other things that came together, the Woodward book, the NIE. You've got kind of almost this perfect storm, where the president is trying to talk about immigration, education, the economy. None of those messages really getting through to the American people.
And the big question is going to be in the next four weeks whether or not they are going to hear what President Bush has to say or all of these other things are going to come together and essentially keep the Republicans, the conservatives, his base, away from the polls.
JOHN ROBERTS, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John Dickerson, the Democrats, for the past week, have pretty much just sat back and watched this all unfold.
What kind of shape are they in going into this fourth, last week of the campaign?
DICKERSON: They're in fine shape. The Republican Party is shooting at itself, and particularly the leaders in Congress. One of the things the president may have been trying to do to pierce that fog is, for the first time, he said Democrats are the party of cut and run. He's used that expression before, but never that construction. And that's about as harsh as it gets from a president.
ROBERTS: It's interesting that the Republicans are the ones with the circular firing squad this time around. That's usually the realm of the Democrats.
DICKERSON: That's right.
ROBERTS: John Dickerson, Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much.
Coming up, securing Iraq one neighborhood at a time.
Brigadier General Spider Marks maps out the urban terrain when THIS WEEK AT WAR continues.
But first, after a year in the war zone, it's home sweet home for 100 members of the Army's 473rd Quartermaster Company. Tuesday's welcoming ceremony at Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, Georgia was doubly rewarding for Sergeant James Rank, whose 27th birthday was marked by a surprise visit from his mom, who traveled to Georgia from St. Louis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENDA BINTZ, MOTHER OF SERGEANT JAMES RANK: He's been over there for a year and today is his birthday and he doesn't know I'm here. So his wife and kids couldn't be here, so I'm here for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Bintz said her son is looking forward to catching up on lost time with his family. And who could blame him?
ROBERTS: Amidst a new surge of violence in Iraq, a continuing question -- how do U.S. and Iraqi forces wage the battle for Baghdad and provide the security that Iraqis need?
CNN military analyst, Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, U.S. Army, retired, is back with us. Spider, this is being called the decisive engagement of this war and it's an incredible challenge.
Walk us through it, if you would.
BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: John, let's get right into Baghdad.
What we see here is a city a little over five million folks identified some key points. You've got the airport out here to the west, the Green Zone, the international zone, if you will. And these are the forward operating bases where the coalition forces conduct their operations from.
In red, what you see is where the preponderance of the attacks are routinely occurring within this city.
Now, what we want to walk through is just kind of get down into a little more detail. Let me show you where the religious facilities are located, where the hospitals are located.
ROBERTS: These are mosques and churches?
MARKS: They are.
Now, let's take it down a little deeper. I'm going to run-into Sadr City. I'm going to show you some imagery that we just received of a U.S. convoy, identified here in blue. When this thing gets a little more fine, what we'll do is we'll come down this street heading east into Sadr City.
ROBERTS: Now, this convoy, this is a patrol going in there to try to secure some of these neighborhoods?
MARKS: Based on what you can see in the imagery, this is about a company of U.S. soldiers. We've got M1 Abrams tanks. We've got the lead vehicles up here protecting the rest of this convoy. And this convoy is trying to impose its will on the enemy and trying to affect conditions on the ground.
Let's look at what this ground looks like, John.
Within this city block right here, there are 36 buildings, little passageways, a couple alleyways. You've got a road that's back here. When we take it out a little further, John, and you go eight blocks by four blocks, you now have 32 of these 36 building squares. That gives you about 1,100 buildings. And then further back you have a zone with about a total of 76,000 buildings.
ROBERTS: And that's only...
MARKS: This is... ROBERTS: And that's only a portion of Sadr City?
MARKS: That's just a small portion. This is where the insurgency lives. This is where the sectarian violence brews. This is what the American soldier on the ground and Marine on the ground has to make a difference in.
ROBERTS: When I first came into Baghdad during the war, we came in this way, along this main boulevard into Sadr City, which was then Saddam City.
MARKS: It was.
ROBERTS: Back then it was pretty calm. A completely changed landscape now.
MARKS: Absolutely. It is completely more complex because of the different elements that are involved. This is the type of fight that the soldiers and Marines are in.
ROBERTS: So when you take a traditional army into an area like that -- I mean you've got -- you come in with the Abrams tanks, you come in with Bradley fighting vehicles, you're fighting urban warfare with heavy machinery, heavy weapons.
Is that the way to fight this type of battle?
MARKS: You have to have that capability. One of the lessons learned that we've taken from the Israeli experience is that you can make a difference with heavy equipment. You have there is dismount in order to make a difference when you're on the ground if you're trying to embrace the citizen on the ground and trying to make a difference in a number of different ways.
If you want to kill them, you can kill them in a whole bunch of ways. If you want to embrace them, you've got to get out of that vehicle.
ROBERTS: Right. Although, as the Israelis proved in the Lebanon engagement, that strategy didn't work particularly well.
MARKS: The Israelis did not do what I think they probably should have done, and in retrospect will evaluate they should have done, which is get that combat power up there quicker.
ROBERTS: Quickly, Spider, because we're almost out of time here, the American military goes in for a little while. But these guys are dug in. They're living in there.
So what kind of disadvantage is the U.S. military at when it tries to go in to secure an area like this?
MARKS: A tremendous disadvantage in that we're identified and we're different. The key is what type of intelligence and what type of relationships so you can get that intelligence do you have with the man on the street. That's the key. That's what -- that will help us turn the corner.
ROBERTS: A formidable challenge, though.
MARKS: It is.
ROBERTS: Spider Marks, as always, thanks very much.
MARKS: Thank you.
ROBERTS: From the challenges of securing Baghdad to rebuilding it, a scathing report to Congress last week highlights widespread reconstruction failures. We'll get insight from the man behind the report.
That's coming up next.
But first, a look at those who fell in this week at war.
ROBERTS: The Navy has unveiled its newest aircraft carrier. Named after the 41st president, the USS George H. W. Bush was christened on Saturday during a ceremony in Newport News, Virginia. President Bush delivered the ceremony's main address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this proud day, the children of George H.W. Bush bless their father's name. The United States Navy honors his name. And the ship that bears his name sails into this young century as a symbol of American strength and freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: The former President Bush, who won several medals for his Naval service during World War II, was on hand to receive the honor. The USS George H. W. Bush will have more than 5,000 crew members when it's commissioned and fully operational.
Now to a report card on the rebuilding efforts in Iraq.
Does the United States get a failing grade?
Joining us now, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, who, in the past, has warned of the triple threat of violence, corruption and mismanagement.
At the end of September, you delivered a report to Congress in which you said 13 of 14 major projects built by the American contractor Parsons were sub-standard.
What's going on, Stuart?
STUART BOWEN, INSPECTOR GENERAL, IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION: Lack of oversight of Parsons in particular and the failure of Parsons to execute its responsibilities to oversee the subcontractors under its charge.
But let me put this in context, John. Sure, Parsons has fallen short. But my office has visited over 70 sites across Iraq and upwards of 75 percent of them have met construction expectations.
So there is some good news. Admittedly, Parsons has fallen short.
ROBERTS: Right. And there was one really huge piece of bad news, this $72 million police college.
What was the problem with that?
BOWEN: There was a whole -- a litany of problems, John, the most significant being the failure to install plumbing adequately in the eight barracks buildings, which resulted in break downs and really a complete endangerment of the infrastructure.
ROBERTS: There was water dripping all over the place, sewage running through the college, as well. There was one room, I heard, that was so wet it was dubbed "the rain forest."
BOWEN: Yes, the dean out there who, to his credit, brought the problems to my office's attention, named that room "the rain forest" because the breakdown was so significant that the sewage was pouring through the ceiling and through the light fixtures.
ROBERTS: Now, something like that could be seen in a humorous light, but there's really nothing funny about this, because that college was supposed to be the centerpiece of the effort to rebuild Iraq's security infrastructure.
BOWEN: Well, you're exactly right, John. This is why I was so disappointed about what my office has found out there.
I was there two weeks ago, two weeks ago yesterday, and spent four hours visiting every building that's been constructed there. And most of them are either inadequate or non-operational. Indeed, two will have to be torn down simply because the money ran out.
It's essential that we get this right. We have to get this right. The security piece is an essential component of what's going on in Baghdad and the police college is a key part of it.
ROBERTS: When it comes to the police college, who dropped the ball? Was it the contractor? Was it the Army Corps of Engineers, who was supposed to have oversight? Was it a combination of the two?
BOWEN: It was a combination of the two. And some of the problems were laid in how the contracting was done. It was divided among separate contractors, separate contracting entities. Then those different contractors didn't execute adequate oversight. They didn't meet their milestones. And then the Corps of Engineers did not account or hold them accountable adequately.
ROBERTS: All right, as we said at the very top of this, and you have said before, the violence in Iraq is really hampering the reconstruction efforts. The violence seems to keep getting worse.
So is that further hampering the reconstruction efforts? Is it getting more and more difficult or is it about the same as it was before?
BOWEN: It's getting more and more difficult, but it's a problem that has hampered the reconstruction efforts for the last 18 months, something that we have -- my office has repeatedly reported on in our quarterlies and unfortunately the Baghdad police college was supposed to play a role in getting officers and policemen trained and out on the streets. It's in a difficult situation right now.
ROBERTS: So are you joining the chorus of voices who are saying you've got to do something to get this violence under control?
BOWEN: My job is to oversee how the reconstruction money is being spent.
ROBERTS: Yes, but you make suggestions, too.
BOWEN: Well, and part of the reconstruction effort is to advance the security installations that are being established in Iraq. And that's why I shed the light of oversight on this particular project.
ROBERTS: Stuart, always good to see you.
Thanks for your candor.
BOWEN: John, thanks.
Good to be with you.
ROBERTS: Appreciate it.
From Iraq to Africa -- I'll talk with my CNN colleague, Anderson Cooper, about his travels this week in Africa, turning the spotlight to how war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has cost literally millions of lives and enormous suffering.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The United Nations estimates more than 1,200 people die a day from malnutrition and disease, which is why it's been said that in Congo, this peace looks an awful lot like war.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ROBERTS: Does the world overlook the tragedies of war if they play out in Africa?
The humanitarian crisis in Darfur often grabs the headlines, the United Nations debate and the attention of celebrities like George Clooney. But CNN anchor Anderson Cooper was in Central Africa this week, turning his camera in another direction -- on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I spoke to Anderson earlier about his week at war.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ROBERTS: Years of warfare have created a casualty count that far exceeds what we've seen in Darfur.
COOPER: Yes, it's shocking. I mean and three to four million people, about three-and-a-half million people, those are the estimates of the number of people who have died in the last eight years in the conflict here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
People not necessarily -- I mean they're directly -- they're killed in fighting, but the majority of those people who are people who have died of malnutrition and disease, which are directly a result of the fighting and the changes that it's created in this country.
Three or four million people, I mean it's a staggering figure and it makes it the deadliest conflict that the world has seen since World War II and yet virtually no one knows about it. It's gotten -- it's received very little attention, very little attention certainly outside -- outside of Africa. And I think that's one of the things that's frustrating for people here and upsetting is that they sort of feel like they are on their own, even though now the U.N. has a massive relief effort here. It's the largest U.N. peacekeeping operation in history, 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers here, with a very sort of robust mandate.
Also, a major effort for the largest elections the U.N. has ever tried to successfully get underway. Two main candidates now in a runoff election that'll happen in a couple of weeks.
But, you know, some very real questions, though, about how much change will really occur even after the elections. And there's the very real possibility that the violence will continue.
ROBERTS: And as desperate as the situation is in the refugee camps in Congo, how desperate is it for people outside of the refugee camps?
COOPER: I mean life here is incredibly hard and it's, I mean you sort of have to be here for a while to really fully comprehend it. I mean this is a predator state, as a lot of the NGO experts will tell you. This is a state, a country in name only. I mean the government here -- the governments, over the last 30 or so years, have done very little to actually improve the lives of the people inside the Congo. Often, they seem to be out for their own good.
You know, the Congo is the richest country in Africa. It has huge natural resources -- gold and diamonds, coltan and cassiterite, things which are very valuable now in high tech industries. And the Congo supplies a lot of those minerals and those metals to the world. And yet the people here receive very little of the profits from those things. The needs here are so great and the dangers here for people are extraordinary. I mean tens of thousands of women have been raped, maybe even hundreds of thousands have been raped. There's no -- very few jails. There's no court system, really, to speak of. Rapists rarely, or if ever, are prosecuted. And the women's lives are forever changed. Most of the rapes are gang rapes, many of them occurring to children.
It's hard, you know, every category of society that you look at, the needs are simply overwhelming here. The U.N. certainly has a big job ahead of them and it's very unclear what's going to happen after these elections, if peace really will continue.
But as one aide worker said to me a short time ago, you know, it may be peace here, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. The violence continues in the daily lives of these people.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ROBERTS: Anderson Cooper in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
And don't forget that Anderson has got a one hour special coming up tonight, "THE KILLING FIELDS: AFRICA'S MISERY, THE WORLD'S SHAME." You can see that at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up, why next week will determine the face the United Nations shows the world.
Stay with us.
ROBERTS: The news this week was dominated by the Congressional page sex scandal. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan didn't get much of a mention, though they raged on, oblivious to the news coming off of Capitol Hill.
According to the Web site, Iraq's coalition casualty count, 23 U.S. soldiers and two from other countries died in the first six days of October. That's an average of a little more than four a day.
Iraqi civilians and security forces keep dying there at an alarming rate, as well.
And now in Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO forces are fighting and dying, commanders say a military victory is impossible.
The conduct of our members of Congress and the protection of young people who serve them is extremely important, to be sure. But as the nation focuses on investigations, politics and punishment here in America's capital, we cannot afford to lose sight of what's going on a half a world away.
Here's what we'll be watching for next week. Monday, the United Nations is expected to formally name its next secretary general, with South Korea's foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, the near certain choice. Kofi Annan's term expires at the end of the year.
Also next week, the United Nations Security Council is expected to tackle possible sanctions against Iran after its refusal to abandon nuclear development.
And on Thursday, a somber anniversary. It has been six years since the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed.
Thanks for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR.
I'm John Roberts.
Straight ahead, a check of the headlines.
Then "CNN PRESENTS: THE KILLING FIELDS: AFRICA'S MISERY, THE WORLD'S SHAME."
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