Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


This Week at War

Aired November 4, 2006 - 20:00   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Delia. Thank you very much for following this story for us. I'm Carol Lin at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Join me at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for a complete wrap up of the day's news. THIS WEEK AT WAR starts right now.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN HOST: What is the impact of the war in Iraq on the U.S. elections? A special THIS WEEK AT WAR, "The Iraq Effect."

From my vantage point in and around Baghdad we will look at a war that has stretched longer than the U.S. fight in Europe in World War II.

And from the Pentagon to the congressional campaigns and the politicians' war of words, we'll explore a conflict that has cost the military almost as many U.S. lives as were lost in the 9/11 terror attacks.

I'm John Roberts in Baghdad. With THIS WEEK AT WAR, "The Iraq Effect." Let's take a lack at what our correspondents reported day by day this week on the eve of the election. On Monday, from the Pentagon, word that more Iraqi security forces may be required before U.S. forces can be reduced.

Tuesday, the Iraqi prime minister and its slap of the United States orders checkpoints removed from around Sadr City in Baghdad. Wednesday, a new poll finds half of all Americans consider Iraq extremely important in next week's congressional elections.

Thursday, the U.S. military reports a drop in Iraqi violence. With bombings at a seven-month low after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Friday, national intelligence director John Negroponte arrives in Baghdad for talks with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. Among our elite, this week at war troops, Arwa Damon in Baghdad, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, and military analyst Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks in our Washington bureau.

A special edition of THIS WEEK AT WAR, "The Iraq Effect."

What did I see and hear in my travels around Baghdad and Iraq? And what did I hear from members of the U.S. military?


ROBERTS (voice-over): "The Iraq Effect." Few people know it better than the soldiers of the 177 Stryker Brigade. Now in their 16th month of deployment. In August, they were three days away from going home when they got new orders. Another four months in Iraq.

SGT. RUSSEL RAVEN, 172ND STRYKER BRIGADE: The saying was the Invisible Man just kicked us. And they didn't like it. Everyone lived in denial. It took a couple of weeks really for everyone to kind of accept it and just deal with it.

ROBERTS: The 172nd was transferred from Mosul in the north to the dangerous neighborhoods in Baghdad. Thrust into the middle of an emerging war between Shiite and Sunni militias.

LT. COL CHUCK WEBSTER, 172ND STRYKER BRIGADE: This violence between the Iraqis is very tough. It's tough to get business done. And tough to determine who the enemy is. And that needs to be addressed.

ROBERTS: On these deadly streets everyone is a potential enemy. And nothing is left to chance. When a helicopter spots a gunman, the Americans swarm in. In this case, it was only a toy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until you pointed at me, and then I'm going to be very angry.

ROBERTS: The ultimate solution to the security problem lies with Iraqi forces. Who every day work joint operations with the Strykers. Publicly, American commanders say they are getting better.

WEBSTER: I drag Iraqi security forces with me everywhere we go to give them that credibility. To give them that power or that ability to get between them.

ROBERTS: Yet, privately, these American troops admit the Iraqis are still a long way from taking over. Soldiers often dessert their posts, U.S. advisers say, and AWOL rates among some units can reach 40 percent. The Iraqis complain the U.S. hasn't yet given them what they need. Not enough heavy weapons or armored vehicles.

According to some accounts, it may take years more. And the Iraqi army is just one part of the equation. Iraqi police form another.

National police are being pulled back and retrained after one brigade was suspended. Suspected of involvement in the sectarian violence that is slicing this country apart.

Infiltration of the forces by Shiite militias is an ongoing problem. We hear talk from the Americans of death squads operating in police units. The country's top cop, interior minister Jawad al Bilani (ph) says there are problems, but he denies the death squads.

CAPT. MATTHAIDESS, 172ND STRYKER BRIGADE: You can be in a mosque or be in your house. But don't be running around with weapons at night is a bad thing.

ROBERTS: But unless and until Iraq's leaders show the political will to crack down on Shiite militias driving much of the violence, the sectarian warfare will only increase. Off camera, they use the words "ethnic cleansing" to describe what's happening here. Shiites and Sunnis each attempting to drive the other out of neighborhoods.

And U.S. troop are increasingly caught in the middle. Just minutes after I left this Stryker unit, a sergeant from their sister company was gunned down in a similar clearing operation. He was just days away from going home. One of 105 soldiers who paid the ultimate price last month for "The Iraq Effect."


ROBERTS (on camera): And joining me now in Baghdad is CNN correspondent Arwa Damon. Arwa, you have been here for 3 1/2 years, you have seen this whole situation here unfold. In your estimation, where is it all heading?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, what we are seeing right now is an entire nation falling apart. We are seeing the fabric of Iraqi society coming apart. We are seeing people living in an increased sense of despair.

We are seeing militias on the streets which right now by all means and for most people have more credibility at least militarily speaking than the Iraqi security forces. We are seeing a smokescreen of an Iraqi government putting forth this national reconciliation program. And as one Iraqi woman put it, she's living in such a degree of hopelessness she can't actually put that into words.

ROBERTS: When you look at all the aspects of this. The military aspect of it. The Iraqi government, the sectarian violence on the streets, the militias, the insurgents and the terrorists. Can this situation be solved without some significant shift in the plan on the ground?

DAMON: There has to be a shift, John. There absolutely has to be. All we have seen right now have been mutations of plans passed. And those obviously have not been working obviously. Iraqis, this is not what they wanted. This is not the kind of life they were dreaming of when they saw the statue of Saddam Hussein come tumbling down three and a half years ago.

ROBERTS: So much promise then. So many problems now. Arwa Damon, thanks very much.

Coming up, senior political analyst Bill Schneider and how the Iraq effect hits home far congressional candidates. And, throughout this hour, the voices of U.S. troops here in Iraq.


PFC. ART TINAJERO, 166TH ARMORED BATALLION: Obviously that is very frightening because you never know what is going to happen. You can be driving down the same road that you've been driving for, I don't know, a long time, next thing you know you get an IED blow up.

ROBERTS: How do you face it every day?

TINAJERO: You have got to keep telling yourself that you can't allow the fear to take the best of you. So you stay disciplined.

LT. COL. MICHAEL INFANTI, 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION: What I attribute it to was a year of training prior to coming over here. Soldiers missing weekends, holiday, time with their families. Missing soccer games with their kids. Take them out for trick or treating and all that other kind of stuff. Because they were training. Their spouses not exactly happy. But they understand it. They all get off the airplane in September '07 back in Fort Drum and it was all worth it.


ROBERTS: The Iraq effect on public opinion. March 2003 support for the war, 72 percent. It has fallen by more than half. I'm John Roberts in Baghdad. The question is how will what's happening here determine what happens on Election Day? From coast to coast American voters and their representatives are feeling the fallout from the war. We asked our CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider to take a look at the Iraq effect on American politics.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chris Shays is a moderate Republican often at odds with the Bush administration, but he supports the war in Iraq. Now he's struggling to survive in his Connecticut district, where many voters are angry about the war.

REP. CHRIS SHAYS, (R) CT: I want them to know my position. I want them to know what I am doing about their anger. And in some cases, we agree, and some cases we don't.

SCHNEIDER: Diane Farrell, his Democratic opponent accuses Shays of betraying his constituents.

DIANE FARRELL, (D) CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The war is probably more than any other issue galvanized in people's minds the fact that he is just no longer the independent that represented them in the past.

SCHNEIDER: Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is also under pressure to show he's independent.

ANNOUNCER: Special interest tax breaks to staying the course in Iraq. Mike Fitzpatrick just goes along with George Bush and the special interests. And we get left behind.

SCHNEIDER: The congressman's response?

REP. MICHAEL FITZPATRICK, (R) PA: I do slightly depart from the president's policy on Iraq. I'm one of the members of the Republican Party who does not favor permanent bases in Iraq.

SCHNEIDER: The Republicans are trying to throw the Democrats on the defensive by arguing, we can't just get out.

SHAYS: Whether or not al Qaeda was there before, they are there now.

FITZPATRICK: I think it's bad policy to let the terrorist enemy know when we are going to be leaving any particular area in the Middle East.

SCHNEIDER: Fitzpatrick's opponent Patrick Murphy claims special credibility on the issue.

PATRICK MURPHY, (D) CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I have been there. I've seen war. Nineteen of my comrades didn't come home with me from the 82nd Airborne Division.

SCHNEIDER: Murphy defends the idea of timetables.

MURPHY: When I was in Baghdad, we had timetables for everything. We had timetables for the elections. We had timetables to pass the constitution.


ROBERTS: Bill Schneider joins us now from our studio in New York. Bill, what's the outlook for those two races?

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Right now - it's very difficult to defeat an incumbent member of Congress, but right now, both of those races are rated as toss-ups by every analyst.

ROBERTS: What is it that's motivating the voters in those two states? Is it the overall situation here in Iraq, the cost of the war, the casualties? Which is it?

SCHNEIDER: All of the above. It's the casualties, but even more pointed is the fact that Americans don't see an end to this. They don't see a way out. They do not see president Bush's plan or strategy for victory. And they see no prospects of Americans coming home any time soon. Without that kind of outlook for victory, or at least an end, they worry that these lives are being squandered.

ROBERTS: And Bill, how are both parties dealing with the Iraq effect? From our perspective, it looks like Republicans on defense, Democrats on offense, which is the better position to be in?

SCHNEIDER: Definitely the Democratic position, because people are angry and they are responding to an anger. Republicans have understood now that the war is a central issue. So they are trying to go on the offensive and say what's the Democrat's plan? What's their strategy? Do they have a plan for victory in this war? But what they are discovering is that a lot of voters say you know, we are not electing a president. George Bush is still going to be president for the next two years. This election is a midterm election, and all we need to do is make a statement.

So a lot of Democrats are saying, we don't have to come up with a plan. We just want voters to express their anger with what is going on. ROBERTS: At any rate, Bill, later on in the hour, we'll ask Democratic Congressman John Murtha what the plan is. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.


ROBERTS: What are the pictures from the war that are burned into memory? Coming up, images of Iraq. And presidential historian Robert Dallek in his own words. But first, some of the fallen in THIS WEEK AT WAR.


ROBERTS: "The Iraq Effect." Where did the war dead call home? More than 240 came from both Texas and California. More than 100 from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and Illinois. Eleven other states count 50 or more fatalities each.

I'm John Roberts in Baghdad. What images will American voters carry into the polling booth on Tuesday? In our special THIS WEEK AT WAR, "The Iraq Effect", we dug into our photo files and talked with historian Robert Dallek about the pictures and words of war.


GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons.

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: This administration was able to tie together images of 9/11 to its case for going to war against Iraq.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

DALLEK: This was the image. This was the image to strike fear, anxiety, create a sense of need to fight in Iraq. To make some sacrifices there.

BUSH: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.

DALLEK: After 9/11, there was a certain eagerness for revenge. The initial phases gave Americans a sense of triumph. Shock and awe. The statue of Saddam Hussein being torn down in Baghdad. That's a positive image.


DALLEK: The image of voters holding up the purple dye showing their enthusiasm for democracy. Those are the images they want you to see. The image of a functioning democracy.

The looting was a symbol that we weren't in control of Baghdad. Wait a second, what is going on here? Are we going to have anarchy now?

BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies, have prevailed.

DALLEK: These public images which may work temporarily, and may win you some votes at the moment, if it doesn't prove to be a reality, it's going to open you to ridicule.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: You go to war with the army you have. Not the army you might want, or wish to have at a later time.

DALLEK: Abu Ghraib is very unfortunate. It's a war of images, so this gave insurgents a chance to use Abu Ghraib as a powerful propaganda tool.


RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT: I think they are in the last throes if you will, of the insurgency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's plenty of evidence civilians were killed in ka Haditha. Twenty four bodies were counted.

RUMSFELD: Last evening, U.S. forces killed Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the leading terrorist in Iraq.

BUSH: Our goals are unchanging. We are flexible in our methods to achieving those goals.

DALLEK: What's happened now is that the public looks at the daily scenes of carnage in Iraq, and what it sees is failure to achieve quote, unquote, "victory."

Rhetoric, language cannot trump reality.


ROBERTS: Images from the past three years and seven months here in Iraq. And every day events here echo across the U.S. political campaign. Coming up in our war of words segment, I'll get both sides of the debate from Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter and Democratic Congressman John Murtha.

I'm John Roberts in Baghdad, THIS WEEK AT WAR, "The Iraq Effect."


LIN: Good evening, I'm Carol Lin. THIS WEEK AT WAR continues in just a moment, but first a look at what's happening now in the news.

A prominent minister has been ousted from the church he founded. The Reverend Ted Haggard has been called up in a scandal involving an alleged male prostitute. Well, today the board that oversees his New Life Church dismissed him as a pastor. We are expecting a statement from Haggard tomorrow. Heartbreak in mourning, California. Hundreds of people have gathered today to pay their last respects to the longest serving firefighter to die in the huge wild fire last month. Tomorrow, thousands are expected at a public memorial for all five firefighters killed in the blaze allegedly set by an arsonist.

A strict curfew goes into effect this weekend in Baghdad and two other provinces plagued by violence. The government fears possible chaos after the verdict is read in Saddam Hussein's first trial. That's expected just hours from now, and CNN is going to bring it to you live.

"The Army Times" wants President Bush to replace Donald Rumsfeld. In an editorial to be published Monday. The newspaper says Rumsfeld has lost the support and respect of military leaders. The paper does not have official ties to the military.

Tonight at 9:00 Eastern, it's LARRY KING LIVE and comedian Steve Bridges joins Larry for the hour. He's portrayed two presidents and even Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. That's coming up at 9:00 Eastern. I'm Carol Lin, another check of the headlines in about 30 minutes. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

ROBERTS: Here in Baghdad, you can feel the impact of the war every day. But what's the impact on the political debate in Washington and around the United States? We want to hear from two dominant voices in the Iraq debate. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, and John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania.

First let's go to Congressman Hunter, I want to share with our viewers the results of a recent CNN poll conducted October 27th through the 29th just a few days ago. When asked should the U.S. change strategy and tactics in Iraq, 68 percent of Americans said they either want a complete overhaul or major changes.

Earlier this week, you announced you are going to take a run for the White House in 2008. As commander in chief, how would you handle Iraq? Would you make significant changes from the plan on the ground now?

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R) CA: Well I don't think I have to wait for that run to weigh into this debate over policy and strategy. I sent a letter to the president and to Secretary Rumsfeld a week and a half ago. That said this, we have 114 Iraqi battalions that we've now stood up, trained and equipped.

Right now, you've got the major fight going on in Baghdad and a couple of other areas, the best way to stand up to military, and that's what we are doing right now in this three-step process. We stood up a free government, we stand up a military, and then we leave. And standing up the military is the second step, it's the one we are in right now. And my recommendation is that we send a large portion of those 114 battalions, Iraqi battalions, trained and equipped into this fight in Baghdad. It gives them unit cohesiveness. It develops their leadership. It gives them combat effectiveness, and the best way to produce a military force that's efficient is to put them into combat operations.

And I'll tell you something else about the Republican -- the Iraq effect. I've been listening to your show, I think that Senator Kerry's words have had an effect on this debate. My son who did two tours in Iraq, the last in Fallujah as a marine said the other day looks like the Democrats have provided their own October surprise. If you saw that statement coming out of the Minnesota National Guard who are with the troops. Who are there in Iraq, where they mocked Senator Kerry, I think the Republicans who weren't going to go to the polls, now have a little resurgence of initiative in terms of going to the polls. Taking on the Democrats. I think this is going to be an election that has not dampened as much as you predicted.

ROBERTS: A recent assessment from the U.S. military showed a meter of the situation in Iraq. And that that meter is pushing towards the red zone. Pushing towards chaos. Despite all of the best efforts of the U.S. military and the efforts to stand up Iraqi forces. Because that meter is moving in that direction, continues to move in that direction, does there not need to be a significant shift on the ground here?

HUNTER: Well, the whole point is that the way that you develop an effective operating military force is by putting them in military operations. You've got about 35 battalions that are in the fight in and around Baghdad right now. Iraqi battalions. You take another large tranche of those battalions, some which are down in areas where there is no danger right now, a very benign environment, you truck them up to Baghdad, you get them in the fight. That develops their leaders, that develops unit cohesiveness and makes them into a combat force.

ROBERTS: Let me get you to give me a quick grade on how you think things are going in terms of U.S. military operations and the Iraqi government and reconstruction. Very quickly if you can.

HUNTER: Sure, very quickly, I think it's a tough, hard difficult and dangerous work. I think it's necessary. And I think if you show wall to wall coverage of Iraq of flaming humvees, you are always going to have some dampening effect on the population.

But I think most Americans understand. The Republican Party built our national defense capability that is second to none. We put over $100 billion a year more than the Clinton administration did. Not counting Iraq and Afghanistan into defense. They know they can rely on Republicans for national security. I think that's what they are going to remember when they go to the polls on Tuesday. And I hope that every American remembers John Kerry's statement and votes republican.

ROBERTS: Congressman Duncan Hunter chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck in 2008 by the way.

HUNTER: Thank you, John, appreciate it.

ROBERTS: Now the other side of the Iraq effect divide. Congressman John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania joins us. Congressman Murtha, give me a quick grading of where you think the operations in Iraq are in terms of the U.S. military, the development of the Iraqi government, and reconstruction here.

REP. JOHN MURTHA, (D) PA: Yeah, well let me say that I hear winning, I hear victory, I hear democracy. Those are all goals, those are not strategies. I hear no strategy. The other day I heard the majority leader of the Republican Congress say it was the military's fault, and he blamed the military for the problems we are having in Iraq. And just today I saw a statement by General Sanchez, former commander in Iraq who said the military does what it's told to do. They try to develop a strategy. Here's the problem we have in Iraq. We have a reactive situation where they are protecting static positions. Where the enemy controls the initiative.

And our troops are caught in a civil war. That things have gotten worse every day. You are over there, when I was over a couple of times at first, you could walk the streets. You could drive through the streets. The last time I was there, you couldn't drive. They flew me from the airport five minutes away to the Green Zone. The government is protected by the Green Zone.

Most of the Iraqis want us out of there. The American public only 27 percent support the policy. We are spending $8 billion a month, $11 million an hour.

Now, when I'm out on the campaign trail and when I'm out talking to people, they tell me we've got all kinds of problems. We've got Medicare, we've got health care, we've got educational benefits, none of those things can be solved until we work this out in Iraq.

ROBERTS: The way that things are in Iraq right now with the U.S. troops in many places being the only thing that is stopping this country from tipping into all-out civil war, wouldn't a redeployment of U.S. troops at this point be disastrous?

MURTHA: John, I don't believe that. Just because the White House says that, just because a lot of people say that, I don't believe that. I believe the Iraqis say in the polls, it would be more stable when the Americans redeploy. When we get rid of the occupation.

There's no question in my mind that there's only a few al Qaeda there. It's Sunnis fighting Shias, and we're caught in between. And we are providing the fodder for al Qaeda to recruit people. So there is more terrorism in Iraq than there was before we went in.

Last year when I spoke out in November, there were 400 incidents a week, 400 attacks a week. Now there's 800 attacks a week. We have had 130,000 people on the ground for 3 three and a half, almost four years now. And so it's gotten worse rather than better.

Oil production, electricity production, potable water, all those things are below pre-war level. So we haven't made the progress we need. Our troops deserve an achievable goal and an achievable policy and an achievable strategy, we don't have that. ROBERTS: You heard what Congressman Hunter was talking about a couple of minutes ago the botched joke that John Kerry made earlier this week in which Republicans have said he was disparaging U.S. troops by saying if you don't have a good education, you get stuck in Iraq. Senator Kerry said he really meant, he was talking about President Bush, but has that impacted the Democratic Party negatively at the most critical time in this election?

MURTHA: Well, it was a distraction. It was unfortunate that Senator Kerry would make those comments. I'm sure none of us, you look him in the eye, everybody believes that Senator Kerry didn't mean to disparage the troops. All of us are inspired by the troops. The hardships they are going through. The suffering the families are going through. The psychological problems they have when they come home.

All of us appreciate that, all of us try to support. As a matter of fact, most of the Democrats in Congress voted against going to war because they felt they couldn't trust the president. I voted for it. I made a mistake. And then when it comes to the funding though, only 22 Democrats voted against the funding.

So they voted against the war, but then they turned around and voted for the funding. So they voted for the funding, most of them, because they know we want to support the troops. National Guard units, almost every combat unit in the whole country has been already deployed. And all we can deploy now are individuals from individual units.

So, if we are going to rehabilitate -- if we are going to reestablish our credibility in the Middle East, we have to do that by redeploying our troops and let the Iraqis work this out themselves.

ROBERTS: And I've heard from a lot of troops as they prepare to rotate out after a year in Iraq. Even the Stryker Brigade that got extended a few months, are they suddenly get the word they have to stay a few months more? Congressman Murtha thanks very much. Appreciate your time, sir.

At the heart of the Iraq effect is what plays out here every day. A hundred forty thousand plus members of the military pushing forward their mission. Straight ahead, military analyst General Spider Marks maps out what's happening on the ground.

"The Iraq Effect." Dollars and cents. For 2002, the U.S. Congress appropriated $2.5 billion for the war. For 2006, that soared to almost $102 billion. Total, close to $320 billion.


"The Iraq Effect," U.S. troop levels from 150,000 in May of 2003 down to 115,000 in 2004. Fluctuating now around 144,000.

I'm John Roberts in Baghdad, as voters and politicians weigh the "Iraq Effect" in the final countdown to the U.S. midterm elections, what is the military side of the equation? Helping us map that out, CNN military analyst Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, U.S. Army, Retired in our Washington bureau

Spider, on the eve of the election, where are the U.S. forces in Iraq right now?

BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY, (RET), CNN ANALYST: John, let me take you to the map and show you where the U.S. forces are located. I'm going to show you their forward operating bases and their camps as they exist in Iraq right now. As you can see, they extend from close to the border of Kuwait, all the way up to Mosul and out to K2 which is an airfield out in western Iraq. That's where they are currently located.

ROBERTS: And what are the options, Spider, if they needed to move the troops around, how could they move them?

MARKS: Well John, I think what's really important is the discussion always concentrates around the number of boots on the ground. So if the number of boots physically on the ground does not increase, how do you increase boots in very specific locations? Let me show you a possibility on where U.S. forces could be concentrated to achieve maximum effect on the ground.

These are four specific locations. They are representative of where U.S. forces should be concentrated and could be concentrated based on conditions on the ground.

Now what that provides you is what I would describe as an oil stain effect. That is to say you crack the nut when you went into Iraq, now you achieve a presence in some very specific locations. I recommend these four, and then you work your way out. Concentrate forces inside, and then work to make adjustments and fixes on the ground from the inside out, John.

ROBERTS: And what has been the difficulty, Spider, in the war, and up until present with these long lines of communication throughout Iraq. And also in and out of Iraq.

MARKS: John, what many fail to realize is this is a very large area of operations. Support comes out of Kuwait in the form of air traffic up into Baghdad, and that's about 300 air miles.

Additionally what happens is you have to take a look at what the ground lines of communication look like. Coming out of Kuwait up through Nasiriyah and then into Baghdad along the Euphrates or north of the Tigris, that's about 400 miles. This is a very large, very long exposed line of communications for convoys and vehicles to make it from Kuwait where the support is up into Baghdad.

And then additionally, John, you have traffic out of Qatar and elsewhere in the greater Southwest Asia region into Baghdad and also of significance is a large amount of support out of Central Europe, or our presence in Germany. And that flies in many cases directly into Mosul. So the theater of operations is more than just Iraq itself. ROBERTS: We also want to bring in our CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. And Jamie, looking ahead, this report from the Iraq study group headed up by former secretary of state James Maker is expected to release its results which will suggest some changes in the future. That'll be coming out in the next couple of weeks. What's the sense at the Pentagon, is there a major change coming, they're just waiting until after the midterm elections?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are really waiting to see what Secretary Baker comes up with. He's holding his cards pretty close to the vest. He's been getting a lot of dire assessments from people on the ground. And what the administration is sort of warning against is a major course correction. They haven't said that they will automatically adopt whatever the Iraq study group comes up with there. They are really waiting to see what they propose.

ROBERTS: And Spider Marks, what do you think is in the cards here? Redeployment of current forces. Adding more U.S. troops, perhaps just accelerating the pace at developing Iraqi forces?

MARKS: John, I don't think it's a withdrawal. It's certainly not a cut and run as many have said, and I doubt very seriously that it's a dramatic increase in the aggregate numbers that are on the ground.

What I do think is going to happen is the numbers are probably set right now, there may be a little adjustment upwards. And the mix of those forces may change as we've discussed before in terms of the number of forces available to do additional training for Iraqi forces, because that's the key.

And the other piece is there may be some adjustments in terms of where they are physically located on the ground. Again, as we've discussed in some degree of detail.

ROBERTS: Jamie McIntyre, the Baker report is expected to suggest intensive diplomatic engagement with America's enemies. That being Syria and Iran. That so far that concept has been anathema to this administration. But because the situation on the ground, might they be forced to talk with Iran and Syria?

MCINTYRE: Well, they certainly might be forced to consider a lot of options that they have found unpalatable in the past. Simply because the trend hasn't been good. We saw this week that the release of an internal briefing slide that indicated Iraq sliding more toward chaos and away from peace. And while the U.S. military said that was a single-day snapshot, it still was indicative of a trend where they see things in the short term getting worse, not better.

ROBERTS: And that Baker report as we said coming out some time after the midterm election. Some time in the next couple of weeks, and of course we'll be covering that here on THIS WEEK AT WAR.

Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, Spider Marks, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

MARKS: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: We won't know the full impact of the "Iraq Effect" until the votes are counted after Tuesday's election. Some Iraqis say they already know how we got this far, through mistakes and miscalculation. I'll talk with foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari in just a moment. But first, more voices from U.S. troops in Iraq on THIS WEEK AT WAR.


CPT. HARRY LEE SHERWOOD, 172ND STRYKER BRIGADE: Well, this was my chosen profession. I knew this was going to be, I really want to be home, but this is what I do. It's OK. I talk to my family a lot. We have e-mail and all that stuff. So it's not as bad as it could be.



ROBERTS: Voting is a responsibility for all of us. For families who have lost loved ones in the Iraq War, this election carries with it special weight. We've profiled some of the men and women killed in Iraq, and have spoken with their families. We check back with some this week, asking how their loss may effect their vote.

One was Julio Tejeda of New York. His step-son, Staff Sergeant Ryan Tejeda, assigned to the third battalion, fifth marine regiment was killed in April of 2003 in northeast Baghdad.


JULIO TEJEDA, STEPFATHER OF STAFF SFT. RYAN TEJEDA: Tuesday morning when I go to vote, I am going to think it out. I'm going to remember him more than ever.

It's time to change. It's time to think about it.


ROBERTS: There's also Yolanda Cuming. Her son Kevin was with the First Squadron, Seventh Cavalry Regiment, First Cavalry Division out of Ft. Hood, Texas. He was killed when his patrol came under attack in August of 2004. She says she doesn't like any of the election choices.


YOLANDA CUMING, MOTHER OF PFC KEVIN CUMING: Losing Kevin left me a different person. And you will never be the same anymore. You know, you just, you lose your child.

I am confused about it, because although I do believe we should be there, but then how many more soldiers will get killed doing this? So, I don't know, nobody has really an answer. Finish this war, and bring the troops home. That's what I want to hear. That's what most Americans want to hear. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Gold Star families feeling the "Iraq Effect". From the home front to the warfront now. In recent days, Iraq's leadership has repeatedly been at odds with the United States. Flexing its muscles, anxious to demonstrate its independence to the Iraqi people.

And one Iraqi minister, a true friend of America has been uncharacteristically critical recently about how the White House and the Pentagon have handled Iraq. On Wednesday, I sat down with Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd to ask him about the ways in which the administration has contributed to "The Iraq Effect."


ROBERTS: Mr. Zebari, in a recent interview you said regarding the violence in Iraq, that had our friends listened to us, we wouldn't be where we are today.

HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: We've been warning the administration for quite some time. The easiest part was to get rid of Saddam. That we are ready to help, to contribute significantly. But when the CPA was established, in fact, they wanted to run the country. And the Iraqi role was not a major role.

ROBERTS: Your statement, Mr. Zebari suggests that mistakes were made. What to you was the biggest mistake?

ZEBARI: The mother of all mistakes was changing that mission from liberation occupation. We were screaming for God's sake, don't do it. Even we who have been supportive of this effort of regime change, really, our position would be untenable because the idea of occupation is not acceptable.

ROBERTS: When comes the point when you must ask them to go?

ZEBARI: The point will come definitely whenever the Iraqi forces are ready. Whenever we have sufficient control.

ROBERTS: And when is that?

ZEBARI: When is that?

ROBERTS: That's the question everyone wants to know ...

ZEBARI: That's the problem. Look at the last three years. OK? The last three years have been one of error and trials. OK?

ROBERTS: More errors?

ZEBARI: More errors, I believe.

ROBERTS: Let me ask you for a very frank answer on this, the presence of coalition forces in Iraq, is it a security factor? Or is it an aggravating factor? ZEBARI: I personally believe it is a security factor. That important. The stakes are too high. And the security of the entire region depends on success of Iraq.


ROBERTS: Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari. Up next, some personal observations on THIS WEEK AT WAR, "The Iraq Effect." But first, another voice from U.S. troops in Iraq.


LT. TONY THIES, 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION: During the day, everybody's really nice. Waves, kids come out and everything. We pass out soccer balls and things like that. It's at night where it kind of gets exciting. Like I said, just down the road one of my soldiers got killed by an IED.


ROBERTS: With the midterm elections almost upon us, there is much for voters to consider in the next couple of days.

A few things to consider now, from the Iraq perspective.


ROBERTS (voice-over): On the streets of Baghdad, and in the towns and villages that surround it, the overwhelming impact of the "Iraq Effect" on ordinary people is fear. Fear of death squads that roam the streets killing and kidnapping. Fear of militias engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing to drive either Sunnis or Shiites from the neighborhoods. Fear of government forces they don't trust to keep them safe.

This Sunni woman claims national police kidnapped her brother at a checkpoint. She appeals to American troops for help.

U.S. soldiers attempt to get between the warring sides and restore security, but despite the American efforts, people here feel far less safe now than a year ago.

COL. JIM PASQUARETTE, 1ST BCT 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION: Personally, yeah, it's frustrating. I'm a U.S. Army officer. We like to think we can leap tall buildings with a single bound, and it's unrealistic.

ROBERTS: More than 2,800 U.S. troops have died in that frustrating mission to establish peace here. Soldiers like Sergeant Will Mock, 23 years old from Harper, Kansas. CNN's Arwa Damon met him two years ago on his first tour of duty here. Mock was a confident leader who genuinely believed in the idea he could help make Iraq a better place.

SGT. WILL MOCK, KILLED BY IED: Something that when I was a little boy I had heard my grandfather once say. And somebody's got to do it. I guess I'm that somebody. ROBERTS: Sergeant Mock came back to Iraq three months ago. Assigned of the dangerous neighborhoods of eastern Baghdad. His mission ended on October 22nd when he was killed by a roadside bomb.


ROBERTS (on camera): We sometimes get lost in the numbers, but behind each and every impersonal statistic is a face, and a life. Thanks for joining us in our special THIS WEEK AT WAR, "The Iraq Effect." I'm John Roberts reporting from Baghdad.

Be sure to stay with CNN for the latest on the war in Iraq. And our "America Votes:2006" election coverage.

LIN: I'm Carol Lin and here's a look at what's happening right no w in the news. The Reverend Ted Haggard is out of the job. The overseeing board of the church he founded dismissed him, citing sexually immoral conduct. A Denver man claims Haggard paid him for sex over a three-year period.

People in Baghdad and two other Iraqi provinces will wake up to a ban on all foot and vehicle traffic. It's meant to prevent violence after the verdict is read in Saddam Hussein's trial that is expected hours from now.

And now it's your turn to choose the news. Is there a particular story that you want to hear more about? E-mail us at Or send us your video or webcam suggestion. At Now coming up next on LARRY KING LIVE. He's portrayed two presidents. And even Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Comedian Steve Bridges joins Larry for the hour.

And I'm Carol Lin at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Join me at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for a complete wrap-up of the day's news. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines