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Week's War-Related Events Reviewed

Aired July 7, 2007 - 19:00   ET


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: for all of us here. Thanks for watching. Enjoy your weekend. Good night from New York. THIS WEEK AT WAR starts right now with Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR, THIS WEEK AT WAR: A fast-moving campaign to capture those responsible for car bombs that could have killed hundreds in Britain goes global. Is the U.S. ready to head off a similar terror plot? And in Iraq, more evidence that Iran is behind the deaths of U.S. troops. THIS WEEK AT WAR right after a quick look at what's in the news right now.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you Tom. I'm Rick Sanchez here at the CNN headquarters here in Atlanta. Let's try and bring you up to date now on what's going on in the news. A massive truck bomb blows up in northern Iraq and the death toll continues to climb. The latest casualty report, 117 dead, another 265 people have been wounded. It happened in the mostly Shia town of Almali (ph).

Glad to be back in the loving embrace of family and friends. Freed BBC journalist Alan Johnson who is now back home in Scotland after being held captive for four months in Gaza. The 45-year old correspondent describes his ordeal as the quote psychological battle of his life, stop quote.

Music with a message for a global audience. The 24-hour music marathon Live Earth is rock on in 11 cities spanning seven continents. Organizers are hoping to reach two billion people, highlighting the environmental message of global warming and climate change. Critics say the concert lacks realistic goals and sends a mixed message of energy conservation. I'm Rick Sanchez, if news breaks, I'll break in and bring it to you. Until then, let's take you back to Tom now and THIS WEEK AT WAR.

FOREMAN: I'm Tom Forman and here is where we're going in THIS WEEK AT WAR. Michael Ware is in Baghdad where he reports the situation is increasingly dangerous, as Iran is now paying insurgents a bounty for each coalition soldier killed. At the Pentagon, Jamie McIntyre is looking at the latest reports from Iraq's battlefronts where things are going well, but commanders warn more U.S. troops may be needed longer. We'll ask Nic Robertson why a vital U.S. ally, Pakistan may be going downhill as religious extremists defy the government there.

But first to London where Paula Newton is following the car bomb investigation where British security failed to stop terrorists seen as above suspicion. And Jeanne Meserve here in Washington, DC is asking the open question, could the same plot have succeeded in the United States? THIS WEEK AT WAR.

Clean skin, that is the term used by terrorists to describe agents with no police record, no evidence of terrorist training and passport stamped with visas allowing them into the country they're assigned to attack. How can security forces separate these killers from the thousands of innocent immigrants that cross borders every day? In our London bureau, international security correspondent Paula Newton is with us and on the streets of London, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. Nic, when we look at these latest attacks in London, were these clean skins?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not entirely it appears. There appears to be evidence that suggests that British intelligence services MI-5 had in fact at least come across the names of at least two of these doctors before they sprang to the headlines with these attacks here. However, it's not clear if they had also come across some of the other doctors, but on the surface it does appear as if the majority of this group were as you described them clean skins.

FOREMAN: You mentioned on Thursday in your reports interesting insights as to why these guys got involved. Let's take a look.


ROBERTSON: According to U.S. intelligence sources, they were recruited by al Qaeda in Iraq because they were medical professionals. It starts with a personality type, quiet, unassuming, professional.


FOREMAN: Let's go to the map and keep those words in mind, quiet, unassuming, professional. This is where the attacks took place down in London and up north from here is where these people were working in these hospitals, quiet, unassuming professional lives that would not be noticed. So Paula, it's both an international and domestic incident, how do security forces deal with that?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They continue to do what they say is a lot of correlating, a lot of the surveillance they have going on and we've repeated it over and over again, some more than two dozen credible plots, thousands of people under surveillance. That kind of surveillance is the reason that a lot of these names had come up on these security databases. Now that they've seen this kind of action, now that they're gathering so much evidence on not just the suspects arrested but on a lot of other people, security officials here say it will open up pretty much a whole new line of investigation in terms of plots that may be still to come here in Britain.

FOREMAN: It's fairly astonishing, the amount of information that the security forces are able to collect. I want to point out this quote from an Anglican priest who apparently encountered some insurgents at the time in Baghdad and had some sense that this might be coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CANON ANDREW WHITE, ANGLICAN PRIEST: I experienced a long litany of how he was going to kill British and American people. It was during that meeting that he said to me, those who kill you will kill you.


FOREMAN: So this is something that he says he overheard from an insurgent type in Baghdad. Nic, how does security forces go from that, a conversation this guy had with another guy, to being able to connect the dots to uncover a plot?

ROBERTSON: That cleric did say that he told the British officials about the conversation, but not the details of it. And I think in hindsight, it's clear that had the details been passed on, it might have given intelligence experts here a little bit more to go on, something to scrutinize. I think that's part of the key for gathering intelligence is for anyone that's engaged with insurgents or anyone that can pass information. That information then has to be passed on accurately and fully to the intelligence services. That is certainly what they ask the public here to do. So that's one method of doing it.

The other is to work with international intelligence agencies. In Jordan, for example, where one of the people currently being held by British police, where he came from, worked closely with them as they already do and with other intelligence agencies and also in the past week, information does appear to have come out that at least two of the suspects were known to other Islamists here in the country, were known to have been quite radical. Again, that information provided to intelligence services earlier in a timely fashion is important. So there's a lot here about the British government and British police, the British intelligence services convincing people in all walks of life whatever their faith, whatever the degree of their beliefs, to come forward with information, Tom.

FOREMAN: Paula, it does seem like from the outside, it looks like they're looking at the entire population trying to locate people. Yet time and again the testimony that comes out on things like this suggests that law enforcement has had a long reason to look at a particular group of people or a particular community or a particular mosque and see problems. Is that what you see?

NEWTON: It's a fine line here between trying to protect those civil liberties and actually investigating. You have to understand that while the domestic and foreign spy agencies here in Britain keep files on lots of different people, they prioritize. It just happens to be but if they went through and tried to actually investigate everyone that turns up on their data base that might be of interest, they would literally run out of resources. I think as I said that as these plots are uncovered, and thankfully this one went the right way for authorities, that they'll have a lot of evidence to gather. The key thing here Tom is more data sophistication in terms of correlating that data, looking at different names, looking at different entry points in and out of the country and the technology will help speed up these investigations and give them more clues as to what's going on with the plots inside the country.

FOREMAN: Paula, one more quick question. There has been a substantial outcry from the Muslim community this time. Not simply saying the attacks were wrong but that the Muslim community should do even more to cooperate and catch people in their midst doing this sort of thing. Is that a good sign for law enforcement?

NEWTON: It is a very good sign and two years on, there were a lot of fractures in the community here between the Muslim community and the greater British community at large. I think I've heard a lot of people this week say they were gratified that the Muslim community came out quickly, came out strong and everyone is looking to that and saying they're very heartened about that. But it has to be said that right now, there aren't any British born and bred suspects so far that they've been looking at and that's also been of great relief to the Muslim community here in Britain.

FOREMAN: We'll see what happens. Paula, thank you so much, Nic as well. Still to come on THIS WEEK AT WAR, are Iranian agents paying insurgents to kill coalition troops? We'll go to Baghdad for the answer. And straight ahead, if crude car bombs can come so close to wreaking havoc in Britain, how safe are we from similar attacks here in the United States?

But first, it was a bittersweet homecoming last week for 250 soldiers from Nebraska's National Guard. After a 22-month deployment in Iraq, families were joyfully reunited. And then they paid sad tribute to those who didn't make it home. One of the fallen, Sergeant Germaine Debro, was killed in September of 2006 in Balad. Germaine's brother Maurice, said he was very moved by the ceremony.


MAURICE DEBRO, BROTHER: I didn't really expect that amount of people there. It shows what affect he had, how many people he touched out there.


FOREMAN: Sergeant Debro, or DB as he was known to his many, many friends, was 33 years old.



MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We've also taken some measures people will see, some they will not see and increased personnel, some of them obvious, some of them plain clothes, pushing out the security perimeter not only with respect to airports but also mass transit and train stations as well.


FOREMAN: Homeland security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Monday assuring nervous travelers that security was being beefed up in the U.S., even though there appeared to be no connection to the British attacks. But, if doctors could mount such an attack on Britain, what is stopping such people above suspicion from striking the U.S.? With me in our Washington studio, CNN's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve and Seth Jones, professor at Georgetown University and a terrorism expert at the Rand Corporation. Jeanne, what's the basic question, how does homeland security handle people above suspicion?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very difficult and thorny problem, obviously. They are trying to get more information about people all the time, to try and run them against terror data bases, see if they see any connections between these individuals and known terrorists. And the Patriot Act has given them a number of tools that they deploy, trying to keep track of people and things to try and detect something, but it's extraordinarily difficult.

FOREMAN: In a sense you're talking about some 300 million people in this country, most of whom are above suspicion. How do they get from the notion of having the tools that Jeanne mentioned, to picking the targets?

SETH JONES, TERRORISM ANALYST, RAND CORP: Well, I think one thing is that we see in past operations they radicalize in communities. They focus on key economic and military targets, targets like the World Trade Center, targets like the World Bank, the Capitol building. These are targets of key political and economic symbols that al Qaeda in particular has targeted.

FOREMAN: Let's take a look at something that you reported earlier this week Jeanne that has something to do with symbols.


MESERVE: In eight of the nation's largest cities, the Transportation Security Administration is deploying its so-called viper teams, made up of canine explosive detection units, air marshals and behavioral observation specialists.

CHRISTOPHER WHITE, TSA SPOKESMAN: We want to provide a very visible deterrent so they people know that it's safe to use these systems and people that may wish to do us harm know that we're out there.


FOREMAN: Jeanne, is this fundamentally for the terrorists to see or for us to see?

MESERVE: It is both. They definitely wanted to have a deterrent effect against the terrorists but they want to reassure the American public. They particularly wanted to reassure them around a holiday period where people would be traveling to celebrations. They wanted to see those things go forward, because they're always afraid that if they don't, the terrorists have in a sense won.

FOREMAN: Seth, one of the things that we've asked many times in this country is, why don't we have these attacks happening all the time? Enormous country, lots of targets.

JONES: I think there are two reasons. One is that it's so easy to target American -- especially American soldiers abroad. Afghanistan, Iraq, they have been a focus of targets. So if you're an extremist, you're based out of Europe or the Middle East, easier for you to go to target American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. And second, I think there have been increased barriers to travel to the United States, including ease with which it is to get visas that has made it more difficult.

FOREMAN: One of the questions you have raised has to do with the visa program, the notion that we still have nations that have sort of favored status and we make it easier for people to come in.

JONES: That's right. That is a significant vulnerability to the U.S. homeland security system. If you're a citizen of a country such as the United Kingdom or France and you're able to get a visa or you're able to get a passport, then you can get access to the United States quite easily. The visa waiver program is a major vulnerability to homeland security.

FOREMAN: Jeanne, does homeland security see it that way?

MESERVE: Oh, very definitely. Michael Chertoff has made this one of his campaigns. He definitely wants to tighten up the procedures that Europeans and others who are in visa waiver countries would have to follow to come here. They're talking now about the possibility of having people go online perhaps and fill out a questionnaire, days maybe even weeks before they traveled here just so they have some sense of who they are. And there's a constant push on visa waiver nations to try and get more passenger data records earlier so they could run names against databases.

FOREMAN: How do they handle all of this, though? We've already talked about the number of targets. This week we saw this enormous breakdown in the passport process, a relatively simple thing. Can they ever get to that level of protection?

MESERVE: Well, no. Everybody says it can never be 100 percent. We can never be completely secure. So what they're trying to do they say is install a number of different layers of security and the hope is that one of those layers will stop someone who is trying to come here and do harm.

FOREMAN: Michael Chertoff himself has said a number of times, one of the things we must do I guess is get used to the idea as a society that one day a shopping mall will be hit. One day a football game will be hit. Do you think that's a message he has convinced people are getting in this country?

MESERVE: I don't know how he feels about it. I would say that I don't think they have. I would say that most experts who I talk to fully expected by now that we would see a suicide bomber in this country, that we would see a vehicle bomb in this country. We have not seen it. And they're amazed by that frankly. FOREMAN: And Seth, what do we do with our assessment if that sort of thing happens? It's too easy to say if there's one strike and it's successful, we somehow lost the war on terrorism when some day it's going to happen.

JONES: That's correct. It will happen. I think one thing we have to focus on and the attacks in London and the Glasgow airport demonstrated this quite clearly, is the international nature of the threat. And that means this threat could come from Iraqis, from Moroccans, from British citizens as well as it could come from Americans. That means focusing on cooperation among the intelligence and police agencies from these countries, because they're going to have information that we don't have and we will have information that they don't have. That means not just sharing among our CIA and FBI, but among international countries as well.

FOREMAN: Jeanne, we're going to give the last word to you here. How much encouragement is there in the fact that there's more talk now from the Muslim community saying we must actively engage this, more talk from a lot of communities saying whatever differences we have, this stuff needs to stop around the world?

MESERVE: Well, I think there is some reason for hope in that, but it certainly doesn't give great comfort because you know there is still other people preaching a very different philosophy, a very dangerous philosophy and a philosophy that says target the U.S.

FOREMAN: Thank you very much Jeanne, we appreciate it, Seth as well.

Later in this hour, echoes of history. What lessons, if any, does the tragedy of Vietnam hold for the war in Iraq? Stay tuned, it is a hot topic. And straight ahead, increasing evidence that Iran is working against the coalition in Iraq. We'll go to Baghdad for the latest on that. THIS WEEK AT WAR.



MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These American soldiers might not know it, but they have a bounty on their heads, according to U.S. military intelligence. A senior U.S. military official tells CNN Iran's Kuds (ph) force is offering reward money to Iraqi militia who kill American GIs. The Kuds force is an elite unit of Iran's revolutionary guard.


FOREMAN: Michael Ware on Tuesday with a report that puts Iranian activities in Iraq in a more sinister light than ever before. He also reported that fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah militia were brought in by Iraq to train Iraqi insurgents. Michael joins us now from Baghdad and to discuss this and all the other news out of Iraq, CNN military analyst Brigadier General David Grange, U.S. Army retired in Chicago and senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. First, let's get this out of the way. The Iranian foreign ministry in "The Los Angeles Times" on Tuesday responded to allegations that Iran brought Hezbollah fighters to Iraq by saying quote, it is another silly and ridiculous scenario brought up by Americans based on a baseless remark of a person. It is a sheer lie, and it is ridiculous. Michael Ware, what's your response to that?

WARE: My response is what else do we really expect them to say? This is the precise point of using proxies in Iraq. The idea is that inevitably when the people who are working with them are finally killed or captured, you need to be able to sever that link. That's why Iranian Kuds forces themselves, the officers aren't carrying out these activities. Yes, they're in Iraq. We know that. Many of them have been detained. And the Iranian embassy is full of them here in Baghdad right now. They're not the ones on the ground with the para- militaries. It's these (INAUDIBLE) And indeed what we know and hasn't been revealed before is that the Lebanese Hezbollah man who has been arrested, this operation's commander, has said that it was indeed the Hezbollah leader Said Hassan Nasara (ph) who personally sent him, not to Iraq but to Iran. There he spent a year training Iraqis ready to go back and fight Americans. It was the Iranians who then said can you go over the border?

FOREMAN: Let's take a look at the maps so everybody has a perspective on this. When we look at Iraq and it's immediate proximity to Iran, we're talking about people being trained here, sent into Iraq to fight or in some cases coming in from Lebanon over here where Hezbollah is based and passing through Syria or over Syria into Iraq to fight. These would be the proxies you're talking about in Hezbollah. Jamie, the Pentagon has been saying some version of this sort of thing has been happening for quite sometime.

JAMIE McINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Just on Friday in the latest briefing from one of the commanders in Iraq, Major General Rick Lynch, again cited the number of Iranian munitions that are found. He was asked if anyone had been detained specifically from Iran. He said no, but he still pointed a very accusing finger at Iran. Clearly he's convinced that Iran is continuing to be what they call an unhelpful influence in Iraq.

FOREMAN: Jamie, broadening the picture out now to the question of the number of U.S. troops there to fight against all of these forces, wherever they're coming from the general also said something fascinating to you in an interview. Let's take listen to this about the idea of reducing the number of U.S. troops there.


MAJ. GEN RICK LYNCH, CMDR, MULTINATL DIVISION CTR: There would be a mess Jamie. It would be a mess. Those surge forces are giving us the capability we have now to take the fight to the enemy. And the enemy only responds to force and we now have that force. We can conduct detailed kinetic strikes. We can do (INAUDIBLE) searches and we can deny the enemy the sanctuaries. If those surge forces goes away, that capability goes away. And the Iraqi security forces aren't ready yet to do that.


FOREMAN: Jamie, how afraid are the generals that now with General Petraeus in command, they are moving in the right direction that things actually are making progress but that the clock in Washington has just run out?

McINTYRE: You saw that comment from General Lynch. It followed the one on Thursday from General Mixon, his counterpart to the north. There's a united front from front line commanders who are urging patience with the surge. The biggest fear now is that the surge is going to be successful in the short term and then the troops are going to be pulled out. It's all going to go back to the way it was. That's what they're warning about now and basically say they're not paying attention to what's happening in Washington, but they can feel the heat of the disillusionment in Washington, the impatience with the policy and they're very concerned that the rug might be pulled out from underneath them just when they think they have a strategy that's working.

FOREMAN: Another big defection this week, Senator Pete Domenici from New Mexico, another Republican had this to say. It is the Iraqi government that is failing to make even modest progress to help Iraq itself or to merit the sacrifices being made by our men and women in uniform. I am unwilling to continue our current strategy, yet another big leader saying we can't wait until the fall to see how the surge is doing. General, how big of an issue will this be for the men on the ground who have been told the surge will be respected by the politicians in Washington at least until September?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): Well, it will be a big deal to the troops. If they don't believe that the political leadership, the elected leadership or the people themselves are not behind this current strategy. It amazes me when people say it's time for a new strategy. A new strategy was just implemented. And yet there's some debate going on of not giving it the time it needs to work. There are small pockets of success. Let it run its course a little while. These things don't happen overnight. It is starting to work. They have a good strategy. They have good leaders in there. They're all in agreement. They don't have to pull from one area to another hot spot back and forth as they used to do. Now they can surge throughout a big area, do something and hold the area and transition to Iraqis and build that confidence. It must be given some time to work.

FOREMAN: Michael Ware, you've had some of the most pessimistic outlooks at times that anything can be done to make things better, but you're on the ground there. You see the so-called surge at work. Would you say to the politicians here, yeah, give it until September, see how it works out or would you say, look, we've waited and waited and waited. Maybe you're doing the right thing to change now?

WARE: What I would say is quite the contrary. I would say that, you know, I'm sorry, but American forces took this country. A set of circumstances emerged and whether you like it or not, whether you're for or against this war from the beginning, whether you're for or against the surge now, I'm sorry, America has very little choice but to stay and for the long-term. I mean, this country is broke. America's enemies are emboldened and stronger. Their spheres of influence are increasing as a direct result of U.S. presence here and the ongoing war. And what, you want to turn around and pull out and leave it behind to them? If that's what you want to do, I mean, if America wants to pull out now, the question is, is America ready to pay the price?

FOREMAN: General Grange, what do you think that price would be, very briefly?

GRANGE: I think Mike's right on. I think that right now, many of our adversaries smell blood and they have positioned themselves through a very detailed and thoughtful strategy on how to negate the proudness of America to cause us to have to pull out as early as possible and take advantage of that void. I think you would really look at again, whether you like the war or not, you would look at some type of an expanded regional conflict if that in fact happened.

FOREMAN: And Jamie, very, very briefly, what happens if we do start pulling out right away? Is that the sense around the Pentagon, that there would be a much, much bigger problem in the future?

MCINTYRE: That's the argument. But the counter argument, of course, is that the result is going to be the same, whether the U.S. stays or not and that the U.S. ought to consider cutting its losses and moving out of there, and that no amount of time is going to make that much difference. Of course, the real problem is nobody really knows which one of those scenarios will play out.

FOREMAN: It seems like that's always the problem. Jamie, Michael, General, thank you all.

Later in this hour, the lessons of history. Does a memo on the Vietnam War shed a disturbing light on today's struggle in Iraq?

And straight ahead, is Pakistan poised on a knife's edge between Islamic extremism and military rule? THIS WEEK AT WAR will be right back.




ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the pre-dawn hours in Pakistan's capital Thursday, troops were moving in, strengthening positions around the besieged Red Mosque. Then this -- explosions echoed around the darkened city, set off by the military, a warning to up to 1,000 radicals in the mosque to surrender.


FOREMAN: CNN's Andrew Stevens reporting on the standoff between radical religious students and the Pakistani army in Islamabad on Thursday. To give some perspective on how serious this standoff could be, the Arabic word Taliban means student. And many of the conservative fanatics who took power in Afghanistan came from conservative religious schools in Pakistan. Joining me again is senior international correspondent Nick Robertson in London, who had a terrific report on CNN International this week, a SPECIAL REPORT called Pakistan, The Enemy Within.

Let's listen to a moment where he talks about these schools.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): There are thousands of madrasses like this one in Pakistan and hundreds of thousands of children attend them. That worries former Pakistani police officer Hassan Abbas.

HASSAN ABBAS, FORMER PAKISTANI POLICE OFFICER: According to all accounts, about 10 percent to 15 percent of murders in Pakistan are involved in militancy, support of Taliban, in terrorism, religious extremism.

ROBERTSON: Abbas, a fellow at Harvard University and an expert on Madrasses, has no doubt some turn students into terrorists.

ABBAS: Hatred for minorities, hatred for all things un-Islamic is being entrenched, being pumped into the minds of the kids every other day.


FOREMAN: Nick, how can Pakistan tolerate schools that are teaching that message within their national borders?

ROBERTSON: In some places, because the religious leaders who run those schools and fund those schools are in political partnership with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. He, if you will, uses them for his means to maintain political power within the country. They use that umbrella of cover to teach whatever they want in those madrasses.

I asked last September Pakistan's prime minister about the Red Mosque that the siege is around. I asked him why don't you do something about it? I talked with Mullah Abdur Rashid Gazi (ph). He said that they support sending young students to Afghanistan to fight U.S. soldiers there. And I asked the prime minister how can you support this religious school just a few miles from where we live? And he said we will deal with it. We will deal with it.

They didn't for the longest time, Tom.

FOREMAN: Let's take a look at the map and give people a reminder of exactly the region that we're talking about here and why this would matter. If we turn to the map, you can see that Afghanistan does, in fact, border right alongside Pakistan, Islamabad up here, one of the areas we're talking about. This is why it's so important to U.S. forces, because there's a sense that the enemy is free to train as much as they wish in that area. What can Pakistan do about this now though, Nick? There's an effort to shut down this one school, but this is a very delicate balance for President Pervez Musharraf, isn't it?

ROBERTSON: It's been a problem, to be fair to the government in Pakistan, it's been a problem that's been faced by previous governments there, where they try to influence some of the very radical teachings that go on by saying teach languages, perhaps English, teach mathematics, each some sciences, teach some other subjects. But don't preach and teach jihad. And they've had a very negative reaction from the majority of these madrasses.

In the past, for the government, the madrasses are a great fix, because they educate hundreds of thousands of children who cannot afford to get into schools. That takes pressure off the government. But when it comes to influencing the madrasses on what to teach, the madrasses just say stay out of it. This is our affair. And the governments have very little luck influencing any of them, Tom.

FOREMAN: Is there any hope at all for outpourings of international aid to countries like Pakistan, to say, look, we will pay for you to establish secular schools all over the country and take away that need?

ROBERTSON: You know, the United States does that already. It's funding, putting millions of dollars into schools in the tribal area. That area along the border of Pakistan-Afghanistan that the Pakistan government doesn't fully control, fully administer. They're spending money. The United States is spending money to put schools there to essentially replace some of these madrasses.

But it will take a much huger influx of money to educate the millions of children that are in the remaining parts of Pakistan, Tom.

FOREMAN: When the people are teaching in these madrasses, are they truly driven just by religious fervor or is this a social or political movement as well?

ROBERTSON: Well, the net result is something of a social, political child, if you will, at the end of it, has been educated in the ways of the Koran. Typically, the lessons start the first few years to memorize the Koran. That can take two or three years, perhaps four. It's only after that memorization process is completed that the children are actually taught what the words mean and the implications.

So it's already sort of in their brains, if their systems, if you will, that they've absorbed it before they really fully understand what it means. And the education that they might then hope to get on subjects, geography, mathematics, be what it may, doesn't happen. Many of them sort of leave before they get past 11 or 12. They need to go out and earn money for their families.

So they have these very, very strong entrenched views, without a real educational basis to support any other kind of thinking. So no, it's very much a social, political, religious mindset that comes out, that's not open, as Hassan Abbas said. It's very closed. It's very focused. It's very intolerant of outsiders. It's very hard to break that down or change or influence that later in their lives, Tom.

FOREMAN: As young as some of these young people will be, it certainly will be with us for a long time in the future. Thanks, Nick. We appreciate it.

Straight ahead, a controversial memo written about yesterday's war and updated into a warning about today's conflict. Is this a useful tool or is it just a party game for policy wonks? We'll talk to one of the authors.

But first, a THIS WEEK AT WAR remembrance. Sergeant First Class John Hennen of Vinton, Louisiana was killed last month when an IED detonated near his vehicle in Punjuay (ph), Afghanistan. Hennen was a member of the Louisiana National Guard's Third Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment. His assignment was to train Afghan forces.

Hennen's mother, Susan, said she knew something was wrong even before she got the news.


SUSAN MORENO, MOTHER: I woke up and I told Paul -- I said something's bad wrong. I just don't feel right. And it was just god trying to prepared me, I think.


FOREMAN: Hennen had served a tour in Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan. He leaves behind a four-year-old son and he was 26 years old.


FOREMAN: In 1967, a secret memo was prepared by the CIA. It laid out the problems the United States would face if Vietnam turned into a failure. In "Foreign Policy Magazine" this month, two analysts from a liberal think tank took that memo and simply replaced a few words. For instance, Iraq was substituted for Vietnam. And the result is -- well, it's for you to decide.

With me is one of the authors, Kurt Campbell, the CEO and co- founder of the Center for New American Security. Kurt, what does this show to you?

KURT CAMPBELL, CTR FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: Well, it's interesting. This memo was written about 40 years ago. Richard Helms brought together what he thought were really the best and the brightest of the CIA and asked a simple question: if we failed in Vietnam, what would the consequences be?

And this very strong group of analysts came up with a series of predictions, almost none of which, interestingly, came true. The document disappeared in these files and remained classified for a long period of time. It was declassified just a couple -- FOREMAN: What kind of predictions?

CAMPBELL: Well, that it would lead to cascading consequences in Southeast Asia, that all these countries would turn communist. That it would also lead to a resurgence in Soviet power, and China would be the big victor. What's interesting about Vietnam is that, although Vietnam had desperate and very difficult consequences for the United States domestically; regionally, the United States really was able to escape from Vietnam without horrible consequences.

FOREMAN: Are you suggesting now that 40 years later the same lessons could be applied to Iraq, or is this just an interesting linguistic exercise?

CAMPBELL: I think it's an interesting linguistic exercise. What I also think is interesting is to put yourself in the mindset of these guys that were writing about it. I think it's almost impossible to predict what the consequences of strategic failure in Iraq will be. My own guess is that, unlike Vietnam, in which we were able to retreat, lick our wounds, rebuild and reemerge as a super power, we're not going to have that option in Iraq. And indeed, the consequences in the region for our standing and for the larger American purpose in the world will be very bad.

FOREMAN: Let's take a look at one of the things you wrote in here. "The failure of American policy in Iraq" -- it originally said Vietnam -- "would have repercussions worldwide. It cannot be thought of merely as a local or even a regional event. This is so not only because world attention has been so intensively focused on the drama of Iraq for so long, but even more importantly because the U.S. is involved."

It seems to me there may be one flaw with this idea of substituting the words. I think I could put Bosnia in there. I think I could put Kosovo in there. I think I could put in any conflict and it would appear to create a parallel with Iraq now.

CAMPBELL: The only thing I would disagree there is that while Bosnia and Kosovo and Haiti and Somalia were all important, I don't think the level of our engagement is comparable. We've got most of the ground forces of the United States desperately engaged in a conflict in Iraq and supporting our endeavor in the larger region. If you look at how much time the president and his senior advisors spend on Iraq, it's without debate that this is the issue that consumes most of the time.

FOREMAN: What should we take from this? If that's the case, what should we take from this? If you read this with the words substituted for Iraq, what do you take from it?

CAMPBELL: I'll tell you, my biggest take away is that in Vietnam, essentially, we fought to exhaustion. We fought until we were no longer able to fight, either domestically or on the ground and we withdrew. I don't think we have that option in Iraq. And my worry is because we're going to be engaged in a long-term struggle that's going to need military force, we don't have the option to fight to exhaustion. It's absolutely necessary for this group of leaders around the president and in the Pentagon and the next one who will come to power with the next president to appreciate that husbanding American power, keeping our powder dry, some component of our military forces viable is absolutely essential, because we're going to keep fighting.

FOREMAN: I know you will create a lot of controversy with this report. Many people will, I'm sure, disagree. But thanks for coming in.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

FOREMAN: If you want to ask the presidential hopefuls about the war in Iraq or anything else that's on your mind, this is your chance. Next month, CNN and Youtube will host the first live interactive presidential debates. Submit your videotaped questions to

Straight ahead right here on THIS WEEK AT WAR, has the war in Iraq already stretched the military to the breaking point? We'll have a disturbing report when we come back. Stick with us.


FOREMAN: On this program, we've spoken often about the stress of war on the troops. But what about the affect on the military as a whole? This weekend, CNN's chief national correspondent John King investigates this problem. Here's a preview.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Training is a staple of military readiness. A freefall jump from a Chinook helicopter, part of the regiment's special forces unit relay on to prepare for the rigors and stress of combat.

On the ground, the images are less dramatic. But critical in assessing Iraq's debilitating toll on America's military might. One snapshot, near empty lots at National Guard armories. The best equipment is in Iraq.

Rifles that can't be used because they need repairs is another. Many in Congress believe it is a deepening crisis.

More than 2/3rds of the Army's 42 active brigades are rated unable to perform their missions because of equipment and manpower shortages. In fact, sources tell me that at one point the Iraq Study Group was leading to a recommendation of 100,000 troops to pacify Baghdad.

But in a private briefing, the Pentagon said it would have trouble coming up with 20,000. The cost is not just a military strained overseas. Iraq deployments have devastated the National Guard, the country's first line of homeland defense. Nearly 90 percent of stateside guard units are rated not ready for deployment. The overwhelming problems is equipment ordered left behind in Iraq. So once home, units lack trucks, weapons, helicopters, and other vital tools needed in case of a terrorist attack, or more traditional challenges like a major hurricane or earthquake.


FOREMAN: Don't miss John's full investigative report, Battlefield Breakdown tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Up next, we'll look at an American who wanted to train al Qaeda fighters. But first, a look at some of those who fell in THIS WEEK AT WAR.


FOREMAN: Finally, a cautionary tale. By now you've probably heard something about a plot by doctors to attack the Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy at its home base in Florida. The "London Telegraph" website headlines it as 45 Muslim doctors plan U.S. terror raids.

Here's the problem, it's based on a web posting written years ago and introduced in the trial of the man who ran the website. He's facing ten years in jail. It was investigated back then by British and U.S. authorities who found nothing, no evidence that it was connected to this week's car bombs, no evidence of a cadre of neurologists spying on the naval base, nothing.

But it's been repeated over and over again in the media and if, like most of us, you're not paying that much attention, all you remember is the headlines. So here's the moral of the story. There are real threats in this world. There are terrorists out there who hurt those who disagree with them. But we too often get caught up in a climate of fear and forget that, by and large, life is pretty good. The vast majority of people in the world aren't crazy terrorists bent on destruction.

And though it sounds trite, if we worry too much about this stuff, then the terrorists really do win.

Turning now to some of the stories that we'll be following in the next WEEK AT WAR. On Tuesday, the sentencing for Tariq Shah (ph), a jazz musician who pleaded guilty to planning to train al Qaeda fighters in the marshal arts.

And Friday is the deadline for President Bush to give Congress an initial report on how the Iraqi government is meeting various benchmarks.

Thanks for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR. I'm Tom Foreman.