Return to Transcripts main page
THIS WEEK AT WAR
Week's War-Related Events Reviewed
Aired June 17, 2007 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAMIE McINTYRE, CNN ANCHOR, THIS WEEK AT WAR: In October, 1991, three weather systems combined in the north Atlantic to create the worst storm in recorded history, the perfect storm. Events across the Middle East appear to be producing a diplomatic and military perfect storm that could well sink U.S. interests in the region. THIS WEEK AT WAR, right after a look at what's in the news right now.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rick Sanchez. Here's what's happening right now. U.S. forces in Iraq have found ID cards that belong to two soldiers missing more than a month now. This week, a group with links to al Qaeda said it killed specialist Alex Jiminez (ph) and Private Byron Foudy. The military says it cannot confirm that the soldiers are either alive or dead.
Panic grips Gaza as the militant group Hamas routs Fatah. Residents spent Saturday morning stocking up supplies, expecting the enclave's isolation. We'll be taking you there, as well. I'm Rick Sanchez. Let's take you back now to Tom Foreman, actually I think it's Jamie McIntyre who's doing the show and THIS WEEK AT WAR. We'll be back with news breaks.
McINTYRE: I'm Jamie McIntyre and here's where we're going on THIS WEEK AT WAR. Ben Wedeman reports on the west bank where the chances of a negotiated peace with Israel are being swept away by an all-out Palestinian civil war.
Nic Robertson is in North Africa where there's at least some hope of the end to the genocide in Darfur.
James Carifono of the Heritage Foundation on the legal issues surrounding Guantanamo where it's unclear if a series of court decisions could mean freedom for detainees. I'll report on Defense Secretary Gates' trip to Afghanistan where the war's taken a negative turn with more evidence Iran is shipping weapons to the Taliban.
And finally, we'll go to Karl Penhaul in Iraq where any hopes for an end to sectarian violence are sharply down, as a holy shrine is struck again by an insurgent bomb. THIS WEEK AT WAR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is what's left of the golden mosque in Samarra. For religious reasons, we can't take you inside the compound but from here you can make out the glint of some of the gold that once coated the minarets that were bombed by suspected al Qaeda insurgents. U.S. military commanders say that they believe it was an inside job. (END VIDEO CLIP)
McINTYRE: That was Karl Penhaul reporting from the al Askaria (ph) mosque on Wednesday. On a week where official reports put an end to claims that violence in Iraq had diminished since the U.S. troop build-up began. The worst thing that could have happened happened. Two explosions hit one of the most revered Shia mosques in Iraq and its last two minarets fell. When the golden dome itself was smashed in 2006, Iraqi, Shia and Sunni killed each other by the thousands. What will happen now? CNN's Karl Penhaul joins us by broadband from the city of Samarra.
Retired Brigadier General David Grange, a CNN military analyst, is in Chicago and Vali Nasr, a fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations is in San Diego. He's the author of "The Shia Revival." Well Karl, I guess the real question here is, are we going to see a repeat of what happened in 2006 with an increase in sectarian violence?
PENHAUL: That certainly is the big question of everybody's lips, Jamie. And the initial indications are that yes, there has been a sectarian backlash in the first 48 hours after those twin minarets were bombed. There were bombings of Sunni mosques, reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques in Baghdad, in (INAUDIBLE) province and then further down south in Basra. Little difficult because reports are sketchy coming in from the provinces, but we know reports of at least 11 Sunni mosques that have been bombed or burned in reprisal attacks. We've also heard reports of sectarian gun fights. Some authorities believe that the wide curfew that was clamped in place in Baghdad has been keeping a lid on some of that potential violence, Jamie.
McINTYRE: Karl, you said in your report that there are indications that is this is an inside job. What does that mean and what are the implications of that?
PENHAUL: Well, U.S. military authorities here told us is that they believe that security guards, Iraqi security guards assigned to protect the mosque actually smuggled in the explosives or allowed suspected al Qaeda insurgents to smuggle in the explosives. The reason they believe that is because there are 25-foot high walls guarding the mosque compound. There was no gun battle. There was no breach of any of the gates and so this is why they work on a theory of an inside job. Now 15 of the security guards were hauled in for questioning but 35 others then went on the run. Because their arrests had been ordered but instead of coming in to give answers, they simply went on the run, Jamie.
McINTYRE: Vali, so what is your reading of the implications of this? Is this another watershed event?.
VALI NASR, AUTHOR, "THE SHIA REVIVAL": In some ways, it is. If we looked at this and said that al Qaeda and the insurgency can carry out the same attack that they did in February 2006, again in June of 2007 and the United States surge and its policy since then have brought no more security to the same shrine, it is going to make the job of political reconciliation in Iraq much more difficult and I think in many ways, we are going to see a very rough road ahead for the surge and even before we arrive at September to give the surge its status report, we can say that already in the minds of the Iraqis, it's failed to meet muster.
McINTYRE: That was really underscored by a Pentagon report this week on Iraq stability and security which concluded that essentially the level of violence hasn't changed even though the surge is just now hitting its stride. David Grange, where does that leave us?
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think with this particular mosque, it's just another example of a strategy that was exposed about two years ago with al Qaeda taking on operations like this to try to increase the rift between different sects in Iraq and this is a continuation of that. What's surprises me is that though these are sites that should have Iraqi security, really not American security, but Iraqi security you would think that the robustness or the checks and balances would be in place to protect these kinds of places from being targets, but they continue to get hit. I think it takes us to a step backwards again. I do think some of the surge is now working from the reports that I get, anyway from commanders on the ground. And these are small advances of progress, not major advances.
McINTYRE: And they have been counter balanced in some cases set backs and what you are hearing now is the administration continuing to lower expectations about what's going to happen in September. Here's how CNN's White House correspondent Ed Henry reported on that on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After weeks of the White House promising a major September progress report on the increase of U.S. troops in Iraq, spokesman Tony Snow is trying to dial that back.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What I would suggest is rather than it's sort of a pivotal moment, it is the first opportunity to be able to take a look at what happens when you've got it up and running fully for a period of months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
McINTYRE: Karl Penhaul, are you getting signals in Iraq that U.S. commanders are going to want more time when that September time frame rolls around?
PENHAUL: A little difficult to judge from the area we're in, Jamie because we're north of Baghdad and as you know, that surge is essentially concentrated on Baghdad itself. But earlier this week, we were in the city of Baquba and that has become a stronghold for al Qaeda insurgents as they've moved from al Anbar province, as they've moved out of Baghdad and really what's happening there is one of the reasons that al Qaeda insurgents have been able to take hold there according to some U.S. officer sources on the ground, is because a lot of the resources they previously had have been diverted to Baghdad for the surge and so subsequently that allows leaks and gaps where insurgents can move in other areas outside the capital. And so, what U.S. military commanders have said is in the course of the next few days, they will need major new operations and a boost in troop strength in the city of Baquba to take on al Qaeda insurgents there and so whether it's working or not in Baghdad, nevertheless, that is leaving some gaps elsewhere in the country, Jamie.
McINTYRE: Vali, General Grange, quickly, from both of you, the surge hasn't produced results so far. Is it likely to in the next couple of months, quickly?
NASR: I don't think so because I think the surge has actually two customers. One is the American public and the Congress and how they see the effectiveness of the surge. The other one is how the Iraqis see the effectiveness of the surge. And I think in Iraq after this bombing, it is very clear that they no more secure than they were before and if there's a lack of a sense of security, there's not likely to be a political deal to follow.
McINTYRE: General Grange you have 10 seconds, take all the time you want.
GRANGE: Yeah. I think that it's localized results so localized Iraqi pockets do see some success. I do think this is a set back nationally but I'm -- you know, I really think you have to be positive and want to win this thing to get on with it and I think we will see some progress but it's going to take sometime.
McINTYRE: Thank you, Karl Penhaul, Vali Nasr and General Grange.
Coming up this hour, NATO forces have been holding off the Taliban spring offensive in Afghanistan but will Iranian weapons turn the tide? I'll have a report from Kabul.
And straight ahead, after a week of intensifying street battles, Hamas wrenches control of Gaza from U.S. supported Fatah. How will the world deal with an Islamic state in the Gaza strip?
But first, THIS WEEK AT WAR remembers senior airman William Newman of Highland, Tennessee was killed late last week as he tried to disarm an improvised explosive device just south of Balad, Iraq. Newman's foster parents say that despite a tough childhood, he was always determined to succeed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY STEPHENS, FOSTER FATHER: I reflect back on every difficulty that he's faced through his life and he did it with such incredible dignity and such personal confidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
McINTYRE: Newman was a member of the Air Force's explosive ordinance disposal team of the 15th civil engineer squadron. He was 23 years old.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hamas TV showing Fatah forces marched out into the streets of Gaza at gun point. The Islamic militant group's radio station trumpeted victory, declaring this is the beginning of Islamic rule in Gaza, the first step to establishing an Islamic state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
McINTYRE: Atika Shubert's report on the battles on the streets of Gaza on Thursday. The U.S.-backed Fatah movement still controls the west bank, but they have dissolved the unity government with Hamas and declared a state of emergency. Is this simply an internal struggle among Palestinians or are there real dangers for Israel and a potential policy disaster for the United States? Bed Wedeman joins us from Nablus (ph) in the west bank and at the CNN center, our senior editor for Arab affairs, Octavia Nasr. Ben Wedeman, did anyone see this coming and what are the implications of this startling new reality in the Middle East?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jamie, I think it was apparent in January 2006 when Hamas really trounced Fatah in the parliamentary elections. The people began to wake up to the fact that Hamas was not just another faction. It was a very well organized faction. It goes -- it went very deliberately about running its election campaign. And we saw from the fighting that has taken place in the last week but really going back to last year, that in almost every confrontation they had with Fatah, they roundly beat them. They were much better organized, better equipped, better trained. Me and my cameraman (INAUDIBLE) went to a training facility for the Hamas executive force. That was the militia they formed there and we saw that they were training very seriously. This was not a random, sort of unorganized body. They clearly knew what they were doing and I think it slowly dawned on people that Hamas is a group that doesn't just do suicide bombings. It's a very serious political group and poses a challenge to both Fatah and also, to Israel, as well.
McINTYRE: Octavia Nasr, the big question is what does it mean? What does it mean for the future of the Palestinians? What does it mean for Israel? What does it mean for U.S. interests in the region?
OCTAVIA NASR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Arab world is shocked right now because they see the Palestinians not just divided ideologically but divided physically. You have a Gaza strip that is supported by Iran and Syria that is under the control of Hamas with that threat of the Islamic fundamentalism creeping through and you have Fatah in the west bank supported by the U.S. with ties to Israel and especially in the Arab world right now, experts are very, very concerned. They're very worried. They say they have never seen anything like this before. And again, the ideology is split is now translated into a physical split and that is very worrisome.
McINTYRE: Let's listen to what Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator had to say on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: I believe what's happening, what's happening in Gaza, what's happening in Gaza is not isolated from what's happening in north Lebanon and the (INAUDIBLE) refugee camp and what's happening in Beirut. It's a bigger picture in this region. This region is approaching the eye of the storm. I think Palestinian blood is being used now to fuel this eye of the storm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
McINTYRE: So, Ben Wedeman, what is the bigger picture? What are we seeing here? What are the influences that he's referring to?
WEDEMAN: I think what's worrying Mr. Erakat and others is of course that this is the first time in modern Arab history that an Islamic military, revolutionary movement has overthrown the accepted order. And that's certainly worries regimes just as the regime in Egypt, the monarchy of Jordan and other Arab regimes. And so, I think that this is really sending shivers throughout all of these groups. It's providing an example to groups like the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, the Islamic action front in Jordan. It is an example that if politics don't work, there is a military avenue that they can follow so, of course, many Arab regimes are terrified by what has happened in Gaza.
McINTYRE: And Octavia, one of the things that the United States, obviously, is worried about is that Gaza could become a sanctuary for radical Islamists for a breeding ground perhaps for al Qaeda. What's the prospect of that happening and what if anything can the U.S. really do about it?
O. NASR: Arab experts are warning already saying that we should not look at Gaza in isolation. You should look at it in a big picture of the whole Middle East. You should look at what's happening in Iraq, for example and the influences of countries such as Iran and Syria in supplying insurgency with weapons, with fighters and so forth. You look again at Lebanon and the power that Hezbollah has yielded last year, for example, all with the support of the same countries, Iran and Syria. And the U.S. is worried, but also, a lot of regimes in the Arab world are very concerned. And basically, they're saying that the U.S. should be able to look at the big picture. As a matter of fact, they say the U.S. ought to look at the whole picture instead of focusing only on Gaza and the west bank right now. That there are events in Lebanon that the U.S. should be paying attention to and trying to resolve before they become a much bigger problem because if Lebanon becomes a bigger problem added to what's happening in the Palestinian territories and the trouble in Iraq, and then they say the situation might reach a point of no return.
McINTYRE: Ben Wedeman, it certainly looks like everything the United States has tried to do there has backfired. They encouraged Israel to withdraw from Gaza. They encouraged the elections that brought Hamas to power. Even the non-lethal aid it provided to Fatah seems to have only emboldened Hamas. Is there anything the U.S. can do to influence event there is? WEDEMAN: That's a very good question, Jamie. The United States has been following a policy here that's really led to multiple problems. As you said, they encouraged democratic elections and surprise, surprise, look what happened. Hamas won. And of course, Hamas didn't win because it cheated in the elections. Hamas won because Fatah has so horribly mismanaged affairs in the Palestinian territories, was so corrupt that people were desperate for a change.
Now, when they went out and voted, I don't think they voted for what's happened which is basically a civil war. But back to the United States, they have many people would tell you they've adopted these grand schemes for introducing democracy to the Arab world, to try to encourage their favored regimes but it's come at a very high price and the regimes that they backed are clearly very weak and don't have a lot of popular support so that's what we see today. These American grand plans in the Middle East are collapsing.
McINTYRE: The Gaza strip certainly is a hot spot that's not going to be cooling down any time soon. Thank you again Ben Wedeman and Octavia Nasr.
Later this hour, how just fooling around on a river is helping wounded veterans regain some balance in their lives.
And straight ahead, the U.S. is ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran, saying there is undeniable evidence of Iran shipping weapons to the Taliban. Is the Afghan army strong enough to win against a stronger enemy? THIS WEEK AT WAR will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLAS BURNS, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: It is quite surprising because as you remember, the Iranians had said they were the mortal enemies of the Taliban in 2001 and 2, but there's irrefutable evidence the Iranians are now doing this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
McINTYRE: And what they're doing according to Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns on Wednesday is supplying arms to the Taliban, fighting NATO troops in Afghanistan. But does this make any sense? Iran and the Taliban have been enemies for years, split by both politics and religion. Does Iran now want the Taliban to retake Afghanistan or is this a case of Iran supplying arms to anyone willing to take on the U.S. and its allies? Joining me, Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org. Well Kareem, what's up? What's going on here? What is Iran's motivation in potentially supplying arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan?
KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTL PEACE: Well, it's a great question, Jamie and it's not unprecedented that Iran would act against its own national interest to spite the U.S. but this is really an egregious case. As mentioned previously, Iran almost fought a war with the Taliban less than a decade ago. The Taliban is a Sunni fundamentalist cult which is largely opposed to Shiites. Iran is a Shiite country. So even by Iranian standards, this is really egregious and I'm doubtful that this is an official Iranian edict to rearm the Taliban.
McINTYRE: Coming back to that in a minute but John Pike, let me ask you, what -- how significant are these weapons? Could they actually turn the tide of battle? Could we see Iraq-style insurgent tactics being employed in Afghanistan?
JOHN PIKE, DIRECTOR, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: No time soon. No time soon. They were sufficient enough that the U.S. government is going to complains about it publicly. But the situation in Afghanistan's very different from the situation in Iraq. A different set of problems, different set of challenges.
McINTYRE: One thing they did find were these explosively formed projectile, the armor piercing munitions that have been so deadly in Iraq.
PIKE: What we have seen over the last several years is that every summer when the fighting season opens up, when the weather makes it easier for them to move around, an escalation in the quality of the weapons, quality of the tactics, larger units. It is an insurgency that is growing in sophistication and we probably have not seen the end of that.
McINTYRE: You mentioned whether or not the Iran central government was involved. Let's listen to what Defense Secretary Robert Gates said about that and it's interesting to hear how the U.S. government is not quite unequivocal on this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Given the quantities that we are seeing, it is difficult to believe that it's associated with smuggling or the drug business or that it's taking place without the knowledge of the Iranian government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
McINTYRE: OK. Hard to believe but that's not the same standard as poof.
SADJADPOUR: Well, Jamie, we're in an age of slam dunk intelligence so even these days when the U.S. government makes the assertion that it's irrefutable, I think we have to take it with a grain of salt. I think that, is it plausible, is it possible that Iranian arms are finding their way in the hands of the Taliban? Absolutely. There's tremendous drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Iran and it may be well that the Iranian receivers of these drugs are refilling the trucks with arms to go back to Afghanistan. But I'm very doubtful that this is an official Iranian government policy to rearm the Taliban simply because they're opposed to the Taliban. They almost fought a war with Taliban and they don't want to see the fall of Hamid Karzai's government. McINTYRE: One thing that Defense Secretary Gates suggested that Iran's simply playing both sides.
PIKE: Well, I think that it would make sense for Iran to be trying to get influence in Afghanistan. After all, Iran was trying to influence the situation in Afghanistan long before the Soviets showed up, long before the Americans showed up. After we eventually leave, Iran is still going to have to deal with Afghanistan. And unfortunately right now in Afghanistan, one of the ways of winning influence and winning friends is by helping them with their arms supply and so, I think that it's entirely plausible that the revolutionary guard has said that my enemy's enemy is my friend and if they're beleaguering the Americans in Afghanistan, well, we'll get a seat at the table by re-supplying them.
McINTYRE: Meanwhile, Afghanistan is insisting publicly, Hamid Karzai, that he doesn't think it's happening because he wants to maintain good relations with Iran. What is his motivation?
SADJADPOUR: Well, Hamid Karzai, if you listen to his statements over the course of the last half decade or so has always been very critical of the U.S. ally Pakistan. Pakistan has been the one that's been fuelling the Taliban and arming the Taliban and that Iran is by and large played a very constructive role. So it's very difficult for U.S. officials to make assertions that Iran is funding the Taliban and arming the Taliban when the Afghanis themselves are denying it.
McINTYRE: And John, where does this go? Does the U.S. really have anything to do about Iranian arms flow?
PIKE: Who knows? Iran obviously is not bringing arms in overtly. They're doing it clandestinely. The United States, we would hope, has a significant clandestine presence in Afghanistan and so the thing that you know about Afghanistan is that there are a lot of clandestine operators over there doing things we don't know about. I don't think we know where this is going to winds up because we don't know where it came from.
McINTYRE: Iranian weapons aren't the only obstacle to success in Afghanistan. As I reported last week when I accompanied the Defense Secretary on a fast inspection tour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
McINTYRE: Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Kabul under cover of darkness, his stop in the war zone unannounced for security reasons. American commanders were anxious to show off a sign of progress. U.S. troops training Afghanistan's first elite commando unit. These troops behind me are training to be commandos, Afghanistan's best, but one of the problems in training Afghan forces is the high illiteracy rate here. Ninety percent of women and 70 percent of men can't read or write. That means, while you can teach them to fire a gun, it's hard to teach them to use the other weapon of modern warfare, the computer.
Can all of your soldiers read and write? LT. COL. MOHAMMAD FARID AHMADI, AFGHAN ARMY: No. Unfortunately. There is a literacy problem in my battalion.
McINTYRE: Part of modern warfare is computers, modern communication. How do you deal with that if not all your soldiers can read and write?
AHMADI: My leadership corps is playing significant role. They know computers. They can read the maps. So far, I didn't have any problems working with integration with the coalition forces.
MCINTYRE: As in Iraq, the strategy in Afghanistan is for the Afghan forces to take over. One thing we heard is we want them to be even bigger. Can they do the job?
SADJADPOUR: The Afghan forces I think is quite difficult. Afghanistan definitely is similar to Iraq. It needs outside help and I think not just from the United States but broadly speaking from NATO and European forces, as well.
MCINTYRE: John, last word.
PIKE: I think we are going to be able find Afghanistan on the map for many, many years to come. We are not going to get out of there any time soon.
MCINTYRE: Thank you, Karim Sadjadpour, John Pike.
Coming up, more peacekeepers may be headed to the Darfur region. Is it a diplomatic break through or will the innocent continue to die when Sudan breaks yet another agreement?
And straight ahead, will accused terrorists go free because of this week's court rulings? We'll hear both sides in this conflict of civil rights and wartime necessity. THIS WEEK AT WAR.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Rick Sanchez right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. We're going to take you back to THIS WEEK AT WAR in just a bit. First a look at what's happening right now. New questions about the fate of U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq.
The military reported today that a raid last week on an insurgent safe house turned up the men's army I.D. badges. Troops extensively searched the area and found no sign of Special Alex Jimenez and Private Byron Fouty.
Thoroughly routed in Gaza, Fatah fighters are taking their revenge on Hamas now in West Bank. A different place. Gunmen stormed the parliament building and other Hamas-run institutions. Dozens of abductions have been reported.
I'm Rick Sanchez. Two of the big stories that we're following, there's a whole lot more your way, and let's now go back to Jamie McIntyre and THIS WEEK AT WAR.
MCINTYRE: Should the president's wartime powers allow them to detain a legal U.S. resident indefinitely without charge? This week, a federal court ruled, no. So what's the balance between detainee rights and the safety of U.S. citizens? Here with me, James Carafano, he's a retired Army lieutenant colonel and senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and Jennifer Daskal, she's the senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. Here's a quote from the federal appeals court ruling on alleged terrorist Ali al-Mari on Monday.
"To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, even if the president calls them enemy combatants, would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution and the country."
Jennifer, that seems pretty unambiguous. I take it you see this as a big victory?
JENNIFER DASKAL, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Yes. It was a huge victory. Here we have one of the country's most conservative courts reminding the president that even he is not above the law. The president was claiming the authority to be able to detain any civilian in U.S. custody based on his say so that this person was an enemy or associated with the enemy. That is an unprecedented assertion of the executive power.
MCINTYRE: James, the ability to detain anybody sounds kind of scary. Is this a scary prospect?
JAMES JAY CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I don't think so. I think the president would agree with all of us he shouldn't have the right to detain anyone, any time on his own whim. That's not what this case is about. There were constitutional liberties we have. If we are born American citizens, become naturalized American citizens or permanent legal residents and there are people that come to the country, given rights by the Congress so it's a technical question of what rights is al-Mari due?
Nobody says he shouldn't have a hearing, nobody says he should be detained indefinitely but the question is what rights does he have under the law? That is what's at stake here and I think it's actually a fairly technical issue and not really a great constitutional challenge.
MCINTYRE: Jennifer, you have come back from Guantanamo. Are there in fact some dangerous people there and how does the U.S. government deal with that without trampling over rights?
DASKAL: Absolutely. There may very well be extremely dangerous people in Guantanamo and should be held accountable and they should be held accountable in a court of law that will succeed in holding them accountable. Five and a half years ago, the president announced the creation of military commissions.
Five and a half years later, there's been one conviction by guilty plea of somebody who's now returned to Australia to serve out just a nine-month sense. Compare that to the federal courts. In this five and a half year timeframe, the federal courts have successfully prosecuted hundreds of terrorists including dozens of international terrorists who are behind bars, who are locked up, who are no longer a danger.
MCINTYRE: Jim, what if they use the laws that are applied in criminal cases and other protections of the court to prosecute these people?
CARAFANO: It's a great question. And Jennifer and I actually want the same thing, we want people to have the legal rights and we also want the country to be protected so it's doing both. Protecting national security and ensuring individual rights. Most of our legal systems including our Uniform Code of Military Justice, our (inaudible) legal systems are designed to protect the individuals' rights first and then we layer on top of that whatever national security concerns
We are saying here what's more appropriate is you build a system first to look after national security and then add whatever due process things you have to do later. And the government should have an option on which to do because after all, there are intelligence issues, there are just people that they may not want to try because they're too dangerous to even risk a conviction.
So the government should have the flexibility to do that as long as they meet their human rights, legal rights. It's just a different legal system.
MCINTYRE: One of the things that really bothers people is this word "indefinite." The idea that you're indefinitely there and don't have access to all of the legal remedies that you might. I think -- I mean, what happens if someone goes through this process, do they still -- do they get out of Guantanamo or might they still be held in Guantanamo?
CARAFANO: Let's talk about Guantanamo. I mean, nobody is held indefinitely at Guantanamo. Everybody that is there has a hearing to determine if they should be, if they're a danger and every year another hearing to determine if they should still be detained.
DASKAL: I respectfully disagree. The detainees at Guantanamo, most have been there for five and a half years and they have never had a meaningful review by an independent court of the basis of their detention. The reality is that the government's put forth this -- created these military commissions and the president has stated that even if detainees are acquitted by the military commissions, he could continue to hold them.
MCINTYRE: Meanwhile, there's a growing chorus of people calling for Guantanamo to be closed. Let's hear what Joint Chiefs chairman, the former joint chiefs chairman Colin Powell said, quote, "I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow but this afternoon. I would close it and I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system."
Is that right?
CARAFANO: I don't care. I don't care if they close Guantanamo. They've got to do some things. They have to keep the detainees safe and secure. They have to give them access to lawyers, they have to keep the people guarding them safe and secure and protect them. They have to collect the intelligence that they legitimately have a right to collect. I don't care where. They could do it at Guantanamo, they could do it at any other place.
MCINTYRE: Do you agree with that point?
DASKAL: I absolutely agree. I also think that Guantanamo should be closed as Colin Powell continued to state, the continued operation is doing the United States more damage than good.
CARAFANO: But that ...
DASKAL: It's a recruiting grounds for terrorism.
MCINTYRE: We have to leave it right there, thank you, both of you. James and Jennifer.
Still ahead, Sudan agrees to let thousands of additional peacekeepers into the war torn region of Darfur but is it too late to stop the genocide? We'll have a report on that from Nic Robertson on the Sudanese border. But a look first a look at some those that fell THIS WEEK AT WAR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: For too long, the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that's complicit in the bombing, rape and murder of innocent civilians. The world has a responsibility to end this genocide and to hold accountable those perpetuating the violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: President Bush speaking by satellite to the Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday. This week, a ray of hope in Darfur as Sudan agreed to allow 19,000 troops to bolster overwhelmed African Union peacekeepers. But will it be enough for will Sudan break this agreement as it has broken others?
CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is joining me by broadband from the village of Gosbieda (ph) in the nation of Chad, close to the border with Sudan. Nic, I guess the real question is we have heard about troops going into Sudan before. It hasn't worked out. What's different this time, if anything?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's different, at least as judged by aid officials and diplomats here is an incremental, a tiny incremental movement in the position of the Sudanese government saying it will allow the hybrid force, a sort of UN, European Union and African force. The questions are, though, the Sudanese still want a predominantly African force, they still want an African to lead the force and there are a lot of problems still ahead on this issue.
MCINTYRE: To the extent that people are aware of the intricacies of what's going on in Sudan, they're understanding is that there's widespread suffering, widespread deaths. Is there really any prospect of that turning around?
ROBERTSON: If, and it is a big if, some of the aid officials here I've talked to said they are hopeful this incremental movement by the Sudanese can begin to move in that direction and change the dynamic by putting a peacekeeping force inside Darfur but the reality is nothing is going to change, nobody is expecting anything to change for at least the next couple of years and they are providing and anticipating the need for humanitarian supplies for at least that length of time and nobody's even talking about the return of what is 2 million refugees back to their homes in Darfur.
MCINTYRE: Now, you're in the neighboring country of Chad. Describe what you're seeing there. What's the situation there across the border?
ROBERTSON: Well, the real change here in Chad is they have a quarter of a million Darfur refugees, most came across the border 2003, 2004, 2005 but what's happened here in the past less than a year the number of internally displaced Chadians, they haven't crossed an international border, they're called IDPs, there are about 150,000 now. Nobody anticipated that so many Chadians would be forced out of their homes by similar forces to those in Darfur.
The people here will call them the Janjaweed. It's more complex than that. There are ethnic issues and rivalries here in Chad, there are issues between the farmers and the herdsmen over the use of land but what's happened is there has been turn to violence here in Chad. Now 150,000 Chadians displaced, needing help. Gathering around the areas where all the Darfur refugees already are stretching the resources of the areas.
MCINTYRE: That really raises the question of what extent do you think this might spread to other parts of the region?
ROBERTSON: What's happened in Chad so far, the incursions or the actions by the militias that have driven these people out of their homes, about 10,000 were driven out of some villages not far from here a couple of months ago, is that the incursions are getting deeper, that these actions are getting deeper inside Chad. The potential is for it to get further into Chad and there's also the potential for conflict across the border, just a few months ago, the Sudanese army and the Chadian army, the Chadians in hot pursuit of rebels across the border actually came to shooting, Sudanese were killed. This was a battle between the Chadian army and the Sudanese army and that could have escalated and took actually the king of Saudi Arabia to get the president of Sudan, the president of Chad together and get them to agree to deescalate. Jamie? MCINTYRE: Well, Nic, thank you very much. And I know you'll keep watching this story for us. Again, thank you, Nic Robertson, reporting from chad.
Later on THIS WEEK AT WAR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you get out here, you feel whole again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woo-hoo!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: This may look like just plain fun for you. For these wounded vets, it's part of the healing process. THIS WEEK AT WAR.
MCINTYRE: Sutures can close the open wounds. Surgeons can remove the bomb shrapnel but there are some things broken in war that are subtle and difficult to repair. Self confidence. A willingness to try new things. In Washington, DC, a group of kayakers is working with veterans to heal some of these invisible wounds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need a boat?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We work with wounded service men and women.
UNIDENTFIFIED MALE: I think the thing to do is set up here and then we're going to slide you in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We teach them to white water kayak.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And these are all somewhat adjustable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See if that helmet is going to fit you OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be a good fit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The volunteers enjoy it I think as much as we do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woo-hoo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It gives them a sense that they can take on new challenges.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snug that underneath you like this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To learn how to do fun and exciting new activities despite having been wounded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My injury happened six months ago. I was over in Falluja this past year.
SARAH ANDERSON, TEAM RIVER RUNNER VOLUNTEER: For the amputees, once we get them outfitted properly in a kayak so it fits so they can control it properly, they really are no different from anybody else that sits in a boat on the water. It really levels the playing field for them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you get out here, it's -- you feel whole again.
CPL CHAD WATSON, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: It's tough. It's like no matter how strong you are, or whatever, you go too far one way, you turn circles. By losing my leg, it is like I challenge myself. To show I can, I guess. To show myself I can still do it.
ANDERSON: Great to see them get in a kayak and just see a big grin on their face when they experience success.
WATSON: Getting back out and doing things again feels good. Feels really good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cold?
MCINTYRE: That's really greet see. Straight ahead, the inside story on why General Peter Pace didn't get a second shot at being chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
But first, a military salute to Father's Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to wish my father Thomas Robertson of Philadelphia a happy Father's Day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy father's day, dad. I love you. Miss you. I'll be back soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to say happy father's to my father, Bob Heil (ph) in Clayton, New Jersey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy Father's Day to my father, his name's Kelvin (ph), in Miami, Florida. Love you. I'll be home, soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: And now, a final thought.
When Bob Gates took over as president of Texas A&M University in 2002, one of the first things he did is fire the popular football coach, R.C. Slocum. Slocum was the winningest Aggie coach ever but had just completed the lackluster 6-6 season which brings me to Peter Pace. Unceremoniously not renominated for a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Now lots of pundits have read this as a weakness on the part of Gates, kowtowing to the Democrats in Congress. Some have said it's political correctness tied to Pace's statement that he personally believed that homosexuality was immoral.
But here's my insider view having watched Gates close up for a few months now. The ex-spymaster as pragmatic and tough an infighter as you're ever going to find and like his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, he is exerting firm civilian control of the military.
Now while President Bush willing to reappoint Pace as his chief military advisory despite the failure of Iraq strategy, Gates intervened and used prospect of tough, congressional hearings as a convenient way to shove Pace aside.
As Gates himself said, he is no stranger to contentious confirmations and he doesn't shrink from them but Gates is decisive when it comes to firing people. After the Walter Reed scandal, he shocked the army secretary by sacking him.
When he thinks it's your time to go, you're gone. Doesn't matter how many winning seasons you have had. Just ask former Aggies' coach R.C. Slocum.
Turning now to some of the stories that we'll be following in the next week at war. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet with President Bush at the White House on Tuesday.
The chaotic situation in Gaza is certain to be high on the agenda. Also on Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is slated to appear under subpoena before a House committee investigating prewar intelligence on Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Don't put down any bets on her showing up.
And on Friday the president of Vietnam will visit the White House to talk with President Bush. It's the first time a Vietnamese leader has visited the U.S. since the war ended 32 years ago.
Which is a welcome reminder that in time even the most bitter of enemies can sit down in pace.
Thanks for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR, I'm Jamie McIntyre. Straight ahead, a check of the headlines, then CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: "How to Rob a Bank."
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com