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YOUR WORLD TODAY

U.S. Patrol Heads of Fresh Violence in Iraq; Israel Launches Deadly Raids Into Gaza; South Africa Remembers Last Apartheid President

Aired November 1, 2006 - 12:00   ET

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


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Iraq edging towards Chaos. What will November bring after a very deadly month for U.S. troops?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The senator's suggestion that the men and women of our military are somehow uneducated is insulting and it is shameful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Election outrage. President Bush demands an apology from his old Democratic adversary as the war of words over Iraq gets nastier.

GORANI: And a defender of apartheid, the "Great Crocodile" of South Africa, dies at age 90.

Hello, and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.

I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

From Iraq, to South Africa, wherever you are watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: Well, it's been a very bloody and deadly month in Iraq, Jim, as both civilians and troops bear the brunt of a raging insurgency.

CLANCY: As rival factions are vying for power, Iraq's Interior Ministry says more than 1,200 Iraqi civilians were killed during the holy month of Ramadan.

GORANI: Now, on Wednesday alone, a string of mortar and bomb attacks battered the capital and other cities. At least 27 people were killed. In one incident, a roadside bomb exploded at a busy intersection in central Baghdad.

CLANCY: In another, a bomb was placed on a busy Tigris River bridge. Officials say at least five bodies were pulled from the Tigris River south of Baghdad.

And then north of the capital, police say at least 40 travelers are missing and feared abducted.

GORANI: Well, the U.S. military death toll has also reached record levels.

CLANCY: October the fourth deadliest month for U.S. troops since this war began. One hundred five soldiers losing their lives.

GORANI: CNN's Arwa Damon follows a U.S. patrol as they go on a night mission to head off fresh violence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is what the pitch black night looks like to U.S. soldiers. The naked eye can't see more than a few feet, but for the troops with night vision, the cover of darkness is their greatest advantage.

The platoon's mission, to catch insurgents as they bury roadside bombs. To avoid detection, no one is allowed to speak. Crucial radio calls are barely audible whispers. And every few hundred feet the soldiers stop, crouch and scan the horizon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check his fires to the north. Direction to the south.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The south.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to scan for any individuals to the south -- over.

DAMON (on camera): As the platoon was passing through, another unit spotted a man ducking into the fields just as the men walked by. They've now gone back to check it out.

(voice over): They find nothing and continue to move toward their stakeout point, taking the long route through fields and farmlands to make sure the insurgents aren't on their trail. It takes almost an hour for them to reach their hiding spot, less than half a mile away from where they started.

Tonight, it's the top of a berm that provides an overwatch of one of the main roads leading to their base. The troops take cover in the dirt and prickly brush, eyes on the road looking for any sign of movement.

At the beginning of the month, they were hit on these roads a number of times. No casualties. The U.S. military says it is operations like these that have rendered roadside bombs in this area 70 percent ineffective, meaning they are found or they go off causing no damage.

They wait and watch for hours. But on this night, all they hear is the eerie howling of dogs. It's tedious work. Often the rewards are elusive. But it's the nature of the fight in this battle zone.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Yusufiyah, Iraq. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: Coming up just a little bit later on our broadcast, the war in Iraq and the upcoming U.S. midterm elections. Americans going to the polls next week. Bill Schneider will be here to report on how the war could affect voters' decisions -- Hala.

GORANI: All right.

Now to one of the deadliest Israeli raids into Gaza in months. Troops, backed by tanks and air power, launched what Israel called pinpoint strikes to destroy rocket-launching sites. Palestinian leaders call the operation a "massacre".

Let's bring in Ben Wedemen in Jerusalem for details on what happened today -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Israeli officials, Hala, say that this is the biggest operation in Gaza since June 25th. That's when Palestinian militants kidnapped Gilad Shalit, an Israeli army corporal.

Now, I was down near the Gaza-Israel border today, and even from that distance we could tell that this was not your usual Gaza skirmish. OK. And, of course, this operation that went on in Beit Hanun today was -- actually, even though it was large, it was not what was expected. Today we heard the Israeli security cabinet saying that, in fact, they've decided not to launch a much talked about offensive in Gaza for the time being -- Hala.

GORANI: Now, depending on what newspaper you read, what report you see, the defense minister in Israel, Amir Peretz, is either going to launch that wider offensive a little bit later or stick to that plan of keeping it pinpointed.

What is the general consensus on what might happen in the future with regards to Gaza?

WEDEMAN: Well, actually, there's a good deal of disagreement within the Israeli government as to what to do. Some of the senior generals in the Israeli army would like to launch this major offensive.

Peretz, apparently, is not convinced that it's such a good idea at this point. And really, there are two areas in Gaza that are a source of concern to the Israeli government.

One, of course, is the area around Beit Hanun, from which, according to the Israeli army, since the beginning of the year 300 of these homemade Palestinian rockets, Kassam rockets, have been launched. Another area of concern, of course, is what's known as the Philadelphia Corridor, which is on the southern end of the Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt.

The Israelis say that since the disengagement, since the pullout of their forces from Gaza last summer, late last summer, that lots of weapons and explosives have been smuggled under this border. And for that reason they'd like to close it to put an end to this smuggling, but that will require another large operation, which they clearly haven't decided to undertake just yet -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Ben Wedemen live in Jerusalem there on that Israeli raid on to Gaza. Many levels, many angles to pursue, political and military, as well. We'll keep our eye on that.

But let's turn our attention to Afghanistan now, where NATO troops are dealing with a resurgent Taliban. NATO commanders say troops have raided a terrorist refuge, killing three insurgents and detaining another. The incident took place in eastern Khowst Province.

NATO's top commander says success over the Taliban will take time. General David Richards told "The Financial Times" the force didn't have enough troops for an early victory.

CLANCY: The white face of apartheid in South Africa has died at the age of 90. The president, P.W. Botha, became the chief defender of apartheid by brutally suppressing the nation's black majority through strikes and street protests. Some 4,000 people lost their lives to the police and military forces under his rule.

Our chief Africa correspondent, Jeff Koinange, joins us now by broadband from Johannesburg with a little bit more.

What was the reaction in South Africa today among young people and the people of his generation?

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, among young people, a lot of them seem to have forgotten that it was just 12 years ago this country was finally declared independent. Twelve years is a long time.

The headline themselves very muted. For the most part, all they said was "The Great Crocodile" -- as P.W. was known -- "is Dead." That simple.

Some of them were even hidden headlines. You had to look for them.

There was some reaction in the streets. We actually attended a function where former president Nelson Mandela was receiving an award from Amnesty International, just about the same time probably the autopsy of P.W. Botha was being conducted. So an ironic twist, because P.W. is the man who refused to release Nelson Mandela from jail unconditionally.

As you well know, he presided over one of the most repressive part of the apartheid era when he declared that state of emergency, 1986. Tens and tens of thousands of people being detained.

On this day, Jim, literally 12 years after independence, people just wishing to move on with their lives. CLANCY: How will P.W. Botha's memory be -- I mean, he was seen as the man even the white majority, that majority of the minority in South Africa said, you know, history, time, just wasn't on his side and that's why he was pushed out.

KOINANGE: Jim, the fact that he never apologized for what he did, the fact that he went on the record -- in fact, when President Mandela was still president, he went and visited...

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We are breaking into YOUR WORLD TODAY, and we welcome our international viewers at this time.

Want to get directly to the White House, where you see Tony Snow giving the White House press briefing.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he's insistent on pointing fingers at the president or whatever rather than simply saying -- look, it's real simple. I mean, you and I and everybody in this room have said things that we didn't intend to say. And when it offends people, you say, "I'm sorry."

"I didn't mean to say it. I'm wrong."

And he hasn't done that.

All he has to do -- it's really easy -- say, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend the troops."

But, instead, there's always: I'm not going to apologize for going after the president.

Fine.

But there are troops out there who are clearly unhappy. I mean, you've seen it today. You've got a number of Democrats who are stepping up saying he needs to apologize. So don't take it from me; take it from members of his own party.

QUESTION: Does the president actually believe that Senator Kerry intended to criticize the troops?

SNOW: I don't know. Intention or not, as you've seen it, when you say things publicly, you've got to answer for them. I've had to do it. You guys were pouncing on the vice president last week over something.

Senator Kerry's words were pretty straight forward. And if you listen to the tone of voice in which he said them, it's hard to construe them as a joke. It didn't sound like he was trying to make funnies.

But again, look, this is simple. I mean, there was an insult delivered to troops, whether it was intended or not. And the way you clean the slate is say, "I didn't mean to say it; I'm sorry."

QUESTION: But there's been a lot of dissection of this, including by you, frankly, yesterday, who described this as a pattern. So it seems to me that it's important as to whether the president believes that he actually meant to malign the troops.

Because you've heard Senator Kerry said he didn't mean to. And he claims the president knows he didn't mean to.

SNOW: I don't think it really matters what the president thinks Senator Kerry intended to say. What matters is what Senator Kerry needs to say for members of his own party, to the American Legion, to Amvets, to a number of other organizations who have come out and simply said you need to apologize for what you said.

It's not hard.

I'm sorry. I mean, this is helpful advice to say, "I'm sorry, I messed up. Please forgive me."

QUESTION: (inaudible) vice president and we went after the vice president and (inaudible) what he said, nobody said, "I didn't mean to say that." The vice president didn't say that.

SNOW: Yes, but you said, "What did you mean to say? Why did you say it?" And again...

QUESTION: And we got a clarification.

SNOW: You did. The vice president actually talked with reporters about it.

QUESTION: Let me ask you this, though. Because, in reading the transcript, it's pretty clear Senator Kerry was in the middle of going after the president when he said this. You don't agree with that?

SNOW: No, I don't, because if you look at it -- look, he had the warm-up period where, apparently, he was trying to tell jokes. And then he said, "Let's talk about education." And you have the transition.

Now, usually, when somebody says, "Let's talk about education," that doesn't mean that means that he's ready to fire off the rib- ticklers; it means that it's time to start talking about a serious topic.

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: Have you looked at the tape?

QUESTION: Sure.

SNOW: I mean, does it look like he's trying to tell a joke?

QUESTION: (inaudible), obviously, a nebulous thing to figure out. You can read the transcript, which -- he obviously dropped what -- it looks like the prepared remarks should have been, "just ask President Bush," assuming these are correct, the prepared remarks.

But he was saying, "the president lives in a state of denial." And then he goes to another one that he obviously botched.

My question is, is there a difference in your mind? Because the AMVETS and the American Legion and everyone who's calling for Senator Kerry to apologize would be if indeed he maligned the troops. If he was just going after the president, that's a different story. SNOW: OK, a real simple question: Do the following words malign the troops?

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make the effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Those are the words. It's not the intention. We're not sitting here trying to do mind-reading. We're not playing the what-if game.

Do those words insult the troops? Apparently troops believe so.

And again, how hard is this? You say something; it's not what you meant to say. You apologize. You say, "I'm sorry."

And instead, you know, he's coming out and accusing Republicans of dirty tricks.

SNOW: I mean, this is helpful advice. We're trying to help you out. We're throwing you a lifeline, buddy. Just say you're sorry. It's not hard.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Lifesaver, Tony Snow.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: There's one follow on that.

QUESTION: We believe that.

QUESTION: Have you thought about...

SNOW: (inaudible)

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Have you thought about sending Senator Kerry a gift basket?

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Tony, Kerry's spokesman put out the prepared text as...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... apparently, he was supposed to say it.

SNOW: Yes.

QUESTION: They also put out a quote that said -- about Kerry not choosing to go on the campaign trail for a number of stops, saying, "We made a decision not to allow the Republican hate machine to use Democratic candidates as proxies in their distorted spin war."

SNOW: Look, they're committing acts of hate and accusing us of being hateful.

I'm not trying to be hateful to John Kerry. I like John Kerry. When I was at Fox and at "Fox News Sunday," we had a perfectly cordial relationship.

Like I keep saying, this should not be hard. Everybody in public life has had an occasion where they've said something they wish they could take back. So what you do is you simply apologize.

And, instead, it's, sort of, emblematic of the approach that's been taken to this election, which is, "While we won't deal with the substance, we will call Republicans names."

Look, we didn't say it. We didn't arrange the press conference. We didn't tell him to call "Imus." I mean, all these are things that Senator Kerry decided to do. And it seems to me that, again...

(LAUGHTER)

... I don't know how much simpler this can be. This is one of those things that happens.

QUESTION: What impact do you think it will have on the election in six days? And what are you telling Republican candidates to do with this?

SNOW: I'm not telling Republican candidates anything as far as what to do with it.

I mean, you have heard me talk in recent days about how important it is to get people to focus on substantive issues. And, again, it's striking that in the war on terror -- winning the war on terror -- Democrats have decided, they're not going to tell you what their plan is.

Well, it's the most important issue; why not tell you what the plan is?

There are clear differences when it comes to dealing with the economy. Those are things that people are going to care about. I don't know what impact this is going to have. You know, I'll leave that to pollsters and others who are making prognostications.

QUESTION: Would you call this an unnecessary distraction from talking about the issues?

SNOW: Look, I don't know. You're asking the questions. You decide. You asked me whether you think it is.

Look, it's one of those issues that I think in some ways -- the troops need to understand, not only do we support them, but most of the people who are in the battlefront today volunteered for service knowing what they were getting into and knowing what the cause was.

You can't say, "I support the troops but I hate the cause," because that's why they signed up. And you've got men and women who are risking their lives for what they consider a noble cause, which is not only defeating Al Qaida and defeating terrorists abroad, but also creating conditions that are going to allow people in that part of the world to brush aside terror as an unnecessary distraction to building a better life through a free and democratic society.

QUESTION: Last thing, following on his question: Do you think that the president believes that Senator Kerry was somehow minimizing troop sacrifice in Iraq by this statement?

SNOW: Again, I think Senator Kerry's statement is what it is. I haven't heard the president try to characterize it that way and I don't think he would.

Again, this was a statement that seemed to talk about the nature of the troops. You know, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

I mean, the statement is what it is. I don't think it's necessary to try to expand it.

QUESTION: Tony, two questions. First, we haven't heard Rush Limbaugh apologize directly to Michael J. Fox, but the president has accepted his apology.

Why is that acceptable? And John Kerry's comments today...

SNOW: Well, there are a couple of things. Number one, Rush Limbaugh is not the head of a political party, nor was he a former presidential nominee. The second thing he said, is if I got it wrong, I apologize. That's what he said. And so he's saying that if the facts are...

QUESTION: John Kerry said, "I botched the joke," which is: I got it wrong.

SNOW: OK. But you know what? If you're a troop in Iraq, if you're somebody serving in Iraq and you heard this, do you really think, "Oh, he botched the joke"?

Why don't you just say, "I'm sorry; I'm sorry, guys; I'm sorry"?

QUESTION: The president sat for an interview with Rush Limbaugh today. Why hasn't he called on Rush Limbaugh to make that same kind of apology to people who have Parkinson's disease? SNOW: Because, again, Rush Limbaugh has made his comments.

I love the diversion, but we're talking about -- there is a difference between -- OK, the apology game. Rush has said, if I got it wrong, I apologize. So he's saying if he got the statement or the facts wrong, he apologizes.

My question is: Why hasn't Senator Kerry just said I'm sorry? That to me seems to be a much simpler and direct question that has to -- and furthermore: Why won't anybody on your team simply say, "OK, we've got to win; here's how we plan to win"? Just give a plan.

QUESTION: May I ask you about a plan to win, then?

SNOW: Yes.

QUESTION: There is a report in today's New York Times that Central Command had drawn up an analysis showing that the U.S. in Iraq is one step closer to chaos. The situation in Iraq is one step closer to chaos. This was drawn up before the president said in his last press conference we are absolutely winning.

Was the president aware of this report saying Iraq is closer to chaos before he told the nation we're winning?

SNOW: I don't think he was. But you know what you're probably not aware of is that these are done regularly and that was a snapshot taken at the height of the Ramadan violence.

If you got the same report last week, you would have found out the national sectarian incidents from the 21st to the 27th dropped 23 percent; casualties nationwide dropped 23 percent; incidents of sectarian violence in Baghdad dropped 23 percent; sectarian killings in Baghdad dropped 41 percent.

You had a snapshot at a single point; when it was violent.

SNOW: But the president understands that in a war on terror, where we have not lost a single combat engagement, he's made the point: The only way we'll lose is if we give up; if we walk out before the job's done.

He's got confidence in the troops. He's also got confidence in the fact that the Iraqi people, out of their own self interests, know that they have to tamp down sectarian violence. And they got to go after Al Qaida which is busy trying to foment the sectarian violence because they understand that, if you get a failed state in Iraq, they have a launch pad.

QUESTION: But just be clear: When the commanders on the ground tell the president, in the large picture, we are stepping closer to chaos, he believes that can also be a picture of winning?

SNOW: Yes. Because you know what the president understands? Do you understand...

QUESTION: Devolving into chaos is the same as winning?

SNOW: No, because what you have just done is you've attached your interpretation to a single chart.

It doesn't say devolving into chaos. And, furthermore, I've just told you since then you've had a pretty dramatic reversal.

Does this mean that now that you've had national sectarian incidents, casualties from sectarian violence, incidents of sectarian violence in Baghdad and all down 23 percent, and the deaths and casualties down 41 percent, that you do a victory lap?

No, it's a war. And sometimes things get worse and what you do is you adjust to make sure that you win.

QUESTION: You say that John Kerry is the head of a political party. That's obviously wrong.

SNOW: Well, he was the titular head -- that's right; Howard Dean is the head of the party.

QUESTION: Because he doesn't have anything anymore...

SNOW: That's true. You're right. Howard Dean is -- I stand corrected.

QUESTION: Isn't the administration and the Republicans trying to exploit this Kerry flap to turn the focus away from the handling of the war in Iraq, which does not reflect, necessarily, well on Republicans, and toward the president's insistence that the Democrats can't be trusted...

SNOW: No, actually the people have been diverting attention on this -- John Kerry.

Again, John Kerry called the press conference yesterday. It was colorful. It was kind of cool.

He calls in to Imus today. We're not the ones who've been fanning the flames on this.

QUESTION: Hammer this home...

SNOW: The president made a comment about it.

The idea -- I think that you will have to concede that the greater passion and temper on this has been coming from the Kerry camp and not the president's camp.

As for the war on terror, as I've told you before -- as I've told you before -- we're not only happy to talk about what's going on in the war on terror, we're also happy to talk about what's not going on.

You see, the president -- the president understands the fight. You've got a military component; you've got to do that. When the president proposed the Patriot Act -- which, among other things, allows local police departments to know based on intelligence gathered abroad that there's a terrorist cell in your neighborhood -- the president proposed that. Democrats voted against the act.

When it came to the terrorist surveillance program, pretty simple: You got a terrorist cell here in the United States talking to their terror masters abroad, and we wanted to find out what they were talking about. The majority of Democrats say we don't like the idea.

When it came to a program that would take the worst terror masters off the battlefield, but them in confinement, question them -- detain them, question them, bring them to trial, a majority of Democrats voted against it.

So the question is: OK, you're against all those things. Many of you did not vote to finance the war (inaudible) and all that.

Then the question is: What are you for? How do you intend to win this thing if you don't want to be listening to terrorists, if you don't want to be detaining them, if you don't want the Patriot Act?

What on Earth do you want to do? And that ought to be a central question in this debate: What's your plan?

And when it comes to...

QUESTION: So you and other Republicans are gleefully jumping on these comments by Senator Kerry...

SNOW: I did not bring Senator Kerry up once in any of these briefings; you did.

QUESTION: But the vice president -- you've just released, a short time ago, excerpts of what he's going to say, six or seven hours from now. And he's going to jump on John Kerry.

SNOW: I actually haven't read his comments. I mean, you can read them -- show them to me -- but I haven't read them yet.

QUESTION: Basically, you cited the vice president before, as an example, what he said last week about a dunk in the water.

Some human rights groups interpret that to mean the vice president -- they interpret that the vice president was condoning waterboarding and that he was condoning torture.

The vice president came out, spoke to reporters and said that's absolutely not what I meant. He never apologized to anyone, if they took it wrong or anything like that.

And you basically said: Look, people took it the wrong way. He did not condone that. John Kerry is now saying: That's not what I meant.

Why won't you take him at his word, like you wanted with the vice president?

SNOW: I'll tell you what I did, is I actually took the vice president at his word and recited it verbatim.

The question you've got to ask is: Why are you trying to explain it away rather than ask the simple question?

QUESTION: That's not explaining it away.

SNOW: Well, it's...

QUESTION: You cited the example of the vice president and said, last week: You all jumped on him.

SNOW: What did I do? I read the vice president's exact words. And, look, Harold Ford has come out today and said, please -- I don't think he said "please," but he said...

QUESTION: The vice president's own words were, he was asked a question about a dunk in the water -- is that OK?

SNOW: Yes, and he said it was a no-brainer. And then he's explained that. And I read back the words precisely. So I've read back the words.

Why doesn't Senator Kerry, rather than saying, I meant to put in the word "us" -- and you try to put in "us" here -- left out the word "us"; "And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Where does "us" fit into that? You don't -- us -- I don't understand. I mean, it just doesn't stand here...

QUESTION: I'm not here to explain his words. But you were saying the vice president...

SNOW: It's up to him to explain his words. And so what they've done now is say, he didn't say what he meant to say. Fine. Then just get out and say, I messed up -- not merely that I botched a line -- follow it up.

Because apparently, a lot of people are pretty ticked off about this. And what they say is, it came across as an insult to us. And the way you deal with it when you make an insult, is you say you're sorry.

QUESTION: Today you put out a pretty tough statement about the Siniora government, saying that Syria needs to watch it, essentially. How concerned are you that there is an effort to topple the Siniora government, that democracy there?

SNOW: We think it's important. Let me put it this way. We are committed to the success and the stability of the Siniora government and we want to make it clear to everybody in the region that that's a priority.

The president talks often about the importance of a young democracy in the region, young democracies. Lebanon's clearly one. Iraq is another. And we're absolutely committed to it. Because we understand, again, the power of an example is something that everybody in that region's looking for.

And if you have the example of a stable democracy that's able to fend of terror -- in the case of Lebanon, from Hezbollah -- then you have an opportunity to create an entirely different set of circumstances in the Middle East, all of which are going to be good for us.

QUESTION: We understand the good parts of democracy, but why did you put out this statement? Are you concerned -- there have been reports about arms smuggling and what-not...

SNOW: No. We're making it clear to everybody in the region that we think that there ought to be hands off the Siniora government; let them go about and do their business.

QUESTION: Tony, two questions. The first, you say that you wanted to see Democrats engage in a more substantive way on Iraq. And yet, when Democrats do that, their ideas are either rejected out of hand, as was the case with Biden's idea of partitioning Iraq, or in the case of Murtha, he had Republican members of Congress effectively accuse him of being a coward and say that the idea doesn't reflect reality.

So when you have substantive proposals -- re-deploying troops is a substantive proposal, partitioning the country is substantive -- why not engage? Why dismiss out of hand?

SNOW: Well let me put it this way -- no, we didn't dismiss it out of hand.

When it came to Jack Murtha, when we talked about what they called "phased re-deployment," we made the point that if you leave an Iraq without reference to the conditions on the ground, that's the same as walking away from the fight and leaving a vacuum that could be very dangerous. That's a serious argument.

And when he said that his phased re-deployment would be to Okinawa, we pointed out that that puts ships at a very great distance away from the action.

So the point here is that we did take them seriously.

When it came to Senator Biden talking about partitioning, I gave you the reasons for that. This was not dismissed out of hand.

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: But then, OK, were you here when I also talked about the reasons why it would be a nonstarter? OK, so that was a substantive response.

And, look, Joe Biden is a guy that I consider a serious guy.

So the answer is we haven't dismissed them out of hand, but that to me also does not seem to answer the question. And here's the thing -- I've been pretty precise about it -- what's your strategy for winning? What's your strategy for victory? And neither of those are addressed by the proposals you just mentioned.

GORANI: All right. We're going to leave that news conference there.

Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, answering reporters' questions. Among other things, saying that he believes John Kerry should apologize for remarks he made yesterday about U.S. troops that John Kerry says were meant for the president.

We're going to be speaking to Tim Walz, a Democratic congressional candidate from Minnesota who will not be using John Kerry's help on this campaign, just a few days before these crucial midterm elections. We'll ask him why.

Stay with us. A lot more ahead.

You're with YOUR WORLD TODAY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CLANCY: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY, I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani -- here are some of the top stories we're following for you this hour. Palestinian leaders are accusing Israel of waging all-out war after one of the deadliest raids in Gaza in months. Troops and tanks backed by airpower enter the northern town of Beithhanu (ph) before dawn. Seven Palestinians were killed in what Israel calls pinpoint strikes to destroy rocket launching facilities. An Israeli soldier also died in the operation.

CLANCY: November off to a violent start in Baghdad. Bombs and mortars killing ten people, two of them police officers in four separate attacks. In the latest incident, two civilians were killed when an SUV exploded near the entrance to the defense ministry. Police also collected ten unidentified bodies from across the capital. Some of them had gunshots to the head and showed sign of torture.

GORANI: Also it sounds like a rematch of the 2004 U.S. presidential race. George Bush and Senator John Kerry are squaring off over Iraq. Mr. Bush says Kerry insulted U.S. troops by implying they're uneducated or undereducated. Kerry says he misspoke and that his comments were, in fact, aimed that president, not the troops. Kerry won't back down from what he says was a botched joke. But Democrats in tough mid-term election races aren't taking any chances. Many have told the senator from Massachusetts to stay away from their appearances in this final week. One such candidate is Tim Walz who is running for the 1st District Congressional seat in the state of Minnesota. Thank you for joining us. Did John Kerry cancel or did you cancel his appearance?

TIM WALZ, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, thanks for having me. The senator chose not to come today and the reasoning was that we've got a positive campaign here in southern Minnesota that's been focused on the issues and I think the senator wanted to make sure that that is exactly where the focus remains on solving America's problems. GORANI: What do you think the senator meant when he said what he said about U.S. troops? Do you think it was a botched joke?

WALZ: Well, I can't speak and know what the senator was trying to say. I do know that this scandal of the day type of mentality is not something the people out here and I'm a long way from Washington out here in southern Minnesota, they want to talk about the real issues. They know the story of the day today is, is that October was one of the deadliest months we had in Iraq and we're no closer to a solution and that's the part that is frustrating out here that they see this as one more step towards dividing us, one more step to a political goal, but not to real solutions for America. So, I can't say what the senator was thinking but I think people out here really don't care that much because results matter more than words.

GORANI: You must think they care that much if his appearance was canceled. It must mean you must think his appearance would have hurt you and your campaign.

WALZ: Well, again, I can't speak whether it would have or not. I think my campaign has been based on a grassroots populism and desire for change and I know that the Republican National Committee has spent a lot of money out here against me, a high-school teacher and former National Guardsman running against a six-term incumbent and I'm winning and they're putting out a lot of this same type of stuff and it hasn't worked. So, whether that would work or not, I don't know...

GORANI: You're just being cautious.

WALZ: I don't -- I suppose. I don't know if cautious is the right word. I think I'm being just pragmatic and when the senator said he wanted to step away from this thing, our message is still going to be the same. I am going to have a rally and my friend Martin Zeller is going to be playing some music and I'm going to be rallying the troops to get out and vote for me and that's why we are ahead in this race. So, I think the people are tired of the Washington talk on it.

GORANI: Let me ask you this, a Kerry aide said this is now a test of whether Democrats are able to fight off an orchestrated PR attempt by Republicans there's to put you Democrats on the defensive. So, by distancing yourself from John Kerry are you not automatically putting yourself on the defensive by admitting it might hurt you to have you appear and support you?

WALZ: Well, I didn't really, like I say, I didn't have a choice in the matter one way or another and the senator decided to go with this. I am perfectly fine with this. I campaigned this entire campaign with my friends out her, with the support of the people that I built -- a great campaign that's based on this grassroots populism for real change in Iraq, real change in the economy to benefit working Americans and a solution to the health care crisis and those types of things. I can't really say. I guess it's always nice it have friends and always nice to be on CNN, but the fact of the matter is, is that I'm trying to get a job here to help the people in southern Minnesota and this country solve problems. So, the rest of this becomes insider baseball that I don't really -- I'm removed from it a long way. I will just keep running on my message and November 7th they'll tell us where we'll go.

GORANI: Alright and where do you think we'll go then November 7th?

WALZ: Well, I think we'll have a new Congress and I think that Congress' job today is more clear than it was yesterday. This country is divided and it's divided over issues that do not matter. We need to find real solutions. Our troops are no safer today in Iraq than they were yesterday. We have 47 million people without health care and that's still true today. So, November 7th is going to be a test for Democrats, not to just win elections. It's can reunite this country, can we get America's promise moving in the right direction, can we get beyond these political flavor of the day scandal types of things and that's what I'm going to do.

GORANI. Alright. Thanks very much. Tim Walz, Democratic Congressional candidate from the state of Minnesota. Thanks so much for joining us on "YOUR WORLD TODAY".

WALZ: Thanks for having me.

GORANI: And for all the latest news on the U.S. midterm elections be sure to check out of our website -- cnn.com/election. Jim?

CLANCY: Well, October, of course, has been noted here many times. Very tough month for U.S. troops in Iraq. It was already one of the deadliest ever and the military just announced that a soldier and marine were killed in addition to the toll that was published last month. It pushes the number of fallen U.S. forces for October now to 105. Senior Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr checks in on some of the loved ones who have been left behind.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: In Alabama, hundreds pay their respects to 19-year-old Private First Class Steven Bicnel. Among the mourners, his pregnant 18-year-old widow. He was killed in an IED attack north of Baghdad. 103 Americans lost their lives in Iraq during October -- the fourth deadliest month of the war. Across America, there are hundreds, if not thousands of grieving families, friends and neighbors. Why was last month so deadly? Commanders believe the rise in attacks was tied to the holy month of Ramadan.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IRAQ SPOKESMAN: Traditionally this is a time of great celebration, it has instead, been a period of increased violence.

STARR: All of it leading to this admission.

CALDWELL: The violence, is indeed, disheartening.

STARR: About twice as many army troops as marines died in October. It is the army that has been in Baghdad on deadly patrols mainly against Shia death squads and militias. The Marines are in western Iraq's Al-Anbar province where Sunni insurgents are also carrying out lethal attacks. How are the troops being killed? In Baghdad, sniper attacks are on the rise. Lieutenant General, Peter Chiarelli, the core commander, says the total numbers are elevated and the effectiveness has been greater. Troops are also being killed by catastrophic IEDs, roadside bombs that kill three and four troops at a time. Some are filled with chemicals that result in fireballs on impact. Twenty-year-old Lance Corporal Eric Hurtsburg also died in Al-Anbar province in October, still, his mother is unwavering in her support.

MOTHER OF ERIC HURTSBURG: The war was going on when he was joined. He knew what he was going to get into. I am so proud to have had him for 20 years and everybody should go home and hug their kids tonight because they're loaned to us for a very short time.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Alright, well, we haven't talked about Lebanon in awhile. Of course, there was that conflict there this summer.

CLANCY: A war, really.

GORANI: But, Hezbollah is flexing its political muscle in that country again.

CLANCY: What it's doing really Hala is its flexing its muscle, but more its really trying to force its way to gain more power from the elected government in Beirut, otherwise it's threatening they're facing massive street protests. But is this move -- go ahead.

GORANI: We'll ask this question. Straight ahead, a short break. Is the move simply to distract attention from imminent charges in last year's assassination of Rafik Hariri. That and more after this.

You're with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CLANCY: A power struggle looms large in Hezbollah. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowing his supporters would take to the streets are force the government out unless it agreed to give the pro- Syrian, pro-Iranian movement more power. Now that drew a swift response from the White House. It said it was, in its words, "increasingly concerned by mounting evidence that the Syrian and Iranian governments, Hezbollah and their Lebanese allies, are preparing plans to topple Lebanon's democratically elected government.

The White House warned what it branded manufactured protests and pressure would violate standing U.N. resolutions. Lebanon's politicians say the power ploy aims to prevent disarming Hezbollah on one hand. And more importantly, perhaps, it aims to head off an international criminal court that could charge Syrian and pro-Syrian Lebanese in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Haiiri and others.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY (voice-over): In September, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah brought out hundreds of thousands of his supporters as he celebrated a self-proclaimed victory over Israel. Tuesday Nasrallah warned those supporters were ready to face the pro-Western alliance that controls Lebanese politics today.

We are able, with our political allies, from tomorrow morning to go out and surround the parliament and topple the government and impose early elections on the whole country, Nasrallah said. But he added that wasn't his preferred strategy. He would prefer political negotiations, and he gave Lebanon's elected leadership two weeks to agree.

It was a bare knuckles challenge to the pro-Western March 14th alliance that saw hundreds of thousands turn out more than a year earlier. They were there to protest the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and demand Syrian troops get out of Lebanon.

Nasrallah and his backers in Tehran and Damascus appear confident now is the time to force a national unity government that would give Hezbollah decisive powers. Hezbollah has handed out hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from Iran to help Lebanese rebuild after their homes were destroyed in the disastrous month-long war with Israel last summer.

Syria and its allies want to head off calls to bring the cases of the murdered former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and other anti-Syrian voices who were assassinated, before an international criminal court. Nasrallah's demands for more political control were matched by confidence that a much-awaited prisoner exchange with Israel was drawing closer.

The negotiations are ongoing, Nasrallah told Lebanese TV, and we have reached the exchange for exchanging ideas or, more accurately, exchanging conditions. Nasrallah used the interview to once again deny it was his order to kidnap two Israeli soldiers that sparked the month-long war that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese and caused billions of dollars in damage.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: All right. One of the most outspoken politicians in the March 14th pro-democracy movement is in Washington today. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt holding talks with U.S. officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Jumblatt blot spoke with us a little bit earlier about his Washington visit, and politics back at home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALID JUMBLATT, LEBANESE DRUZE LEADER: This administration helped Lebanon to be freed from the civilian occupation. Now we have to inform the court, the court which is to bring to justice the people who killed Rafik Hariri. This is why now we are ahead of time, because this court should be formed before the ultimatum of Nasrallah. Nasrallah is threatening to block the court. Nasrallah is just thinking to defend the Syrian regime. We have to form the court before he delivers his ultimatum, that's the issue.

CLANCY: While you have been in Washington Hassan Nasrallah has been on television saying he is prepared to bring hundreds and hundreds and thousands of his supporters out into the streets to surround the parliament, to surround government buildings and force down the pro-Western, pro-democracy government unless he gets a deal that would hand Hezbollah more power.

JUMBLATT: If he does it, it would be a mistake, because he might ruin the so-called national consensus, which is supporting and have supported the Hezbollah, and is somewhere indirectly, or directly supporting the Syrian regime; I don't the Syrian regime, or part of it, to be bring to justice, as for the murders committed against the prominent Lebanese. Among them, Rafik Hariri. It's going to be a terrible political mistake.

CLANCY: A terrible political mistake, but few would argue that he doesn't appear to be in a position to wield that power on the streets, behind the scenes. He's also hinting that he has the negotiations at its stage where soon he will deliver the Lebanese prisoners held by Israel, as well as Palestinian and Syrian prisoners. Isn't this going to put him in a very strong public position?

JUMBLATT: He is strong of course. He has rockets. He has the prisoners. He's backed by the Iranian government and by the Syrian regime. But he needs a national consensus inside if he want to go to this order of (INAUDIBLE) inside Lebanon. It is going to be quite difficult for him and tough for him and for everybody.

CLANCY: Is there going -- if he brings his forces out into the streets, what happens with the pro-democracy forces, the March 14th movement?

JUMBLATT: I wish he's just playing on words, but if he wants to bring his forces, I mean, his people on the street, we also can do the same thing. What will happen later on? Nobody know. It's better to keep on dialoguing and exchanging conversations instead of bringing people to the seat.

CLANCY: Well, what are the issues you think then are behind it? You say, No. 1, the Hezbollah leader wants to block a court that would bring to justice the Syrian or pro-Syrian Lebanese who have been accused in all of this case but the question of disarmament and the end of a government within a government.

JUMBLATT: The main issue is the courts. The main issue is the court, and because the court might be fixed in the next couple of weeks, this is why Nasrallah gave this ultimatum.

As for the weapons, nobody in the past, nobody now thought about disarming Hezbollah by force. We thought that we could incorporate Hezbollah inside the Lebanese government and -- sorry, the Lebanese army. Well, it would take some time, the commissioning. But the main issue of the court, he wants to prevent international justice to judge the Syrian regime, or part of it.

CLANCY: Where does this leave Lebanon today? Is the democracy in Lebanon at risk?

JUMBLATT: The democracy is at risk. There is the ultimatum of Nasrallah is just he's pronouncing a coup d'etat. The Cedar Revolution, or the spring of Lebanon of 205 is at risk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JUMBLATT: the Cedar Revolution or the spring of Lebanon of 205 (ph) is at risk.

CLANCY: All right, our thanks to Walid Jumblatt for joining us. He's going to travel next to U.S. and the U.N. for talks with officials there about that international tribunal.

Meantime, at home, wire reports from the Associated Press and Lebanese media telling us that there has been an explosion in west Beirut in the area of the Corniche Mazraa. Now that is an area -- a very commercial, trendy area of west Beirut where a major police barracks is located. Details are still coming in. We're going to follow that story.

More tension as this confrontation looms between the pro- Hezbollah, pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian forces in Lebanese politics and those that are more pro-western. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: All right. We're going to have more on that explosion in west Beirut in a moment, but, first, the information superhighway is switching gears here. It's expanding at supersonic speed. Perhaps you plan to surf the Internet once you finish watching the show.

CLANCY: But did you know that -- how many Web sites exactly you can now visit on the Internet? Your road is becoming a little bit wider, not only faster, try 100 million sites.

More from Daniel Sieberg.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How many Web sites do you visit on an average day? Is it five, 10, 25 or more? It seems there's an endless stream all little, square portals, all vying for our attention. Now the number of pitstops on the information superhighway has apparently reached a worldwide high point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are now 100 million Web sites with domain names and content on them. More than a quarter of those 100 million sites, 27 million, to be exact, have been created in the first 11 months of 2006.

SIEBERG: Miller attributes this explosive growth to ease of use, lower cost and the blog generation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have to be a technologist to be able to create a Web site.

SIEBERG: When Web tracking firm Netcraft began counting the number of registered domains in 1995, they started at 18,000. So how did we get to 100 million? Well, let's switch in reverse for just a minute. Think the first Web page was a search engine, the library of Congress, a newspaper, porn perhaps?

REBECCA GRINTER, GEORGE TECH COLLEGE OF COMPUTING: When the Web was started it was started as a mechanism for sharing high-energy particle physics data.

SIEBERG: Weren't expected that, were you? It was the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, credited as the inventor of the Web back in the early 1990s. Not long afterwards, this research tool shifted to the science of making money.

GRINTER: Once it made that transition, once people started seeing all of these technologies not just being something that you could use for work, but something you could use for recreational purposes, then all sorts of other things started to change.

SIEBERG: Business aside, why the need for us to contribute more noise on a personal level?

GRINTER: I suspect there are a few people that create content quite creatively, but that there's a whole other class of people that create content in response to the fact that someone else has created content.

SIEBERG: But within those groups, there's clearly a sense of the digital me, even if no one is watching or reading. For others, it's a status symbol. Some parents, celebrity and otherwise, are already assigning their newborns a URL.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The web address is being seen as an identifier and tremendously useful both in your personal life and if you're inclined to start a business.

SIEBERG (on camera): While that 100 million number may seem a little staggering, for the most part, all of that growth is happening in the background. As the Web continues to grow, we follow, or is it the other way around?

GRINTER: That sort of how people engage with the Web is that they actually don't feel overwhelmed by it because the web is starting to be worked into our everyday lives.

SIEBERG (voice-over): In fact, the trick can be untangling yourself from its grasp.

Daniel Sieberg, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: All right, that has to be our report for this hour. We do want to bring you up to date on the situation in Lebanon. We reported on an explosion in west Beirut a little bit earlier. That's turned out now to be a relatively minor incident, rocket-propelled grenade fired at the building housing the Internal Security Services.

GORANI: In west Beirut now, the damage appears superficial and no injuries have been reported.

All right, thanks for watching YOUR WORLD TODAY. That's it for this hour. I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. "CNN NEWSROOM" is up next for viewers in the United States. Everyone else, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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