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What Next in Iraq?; Bush-Olmert Meeting; General John Abizaid, Nouri al-Maliki Meet in Baghdad

Aired November 13, 2006 - 10:59   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You're with CNN. You're informed.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.


Developments keep coming in to the NEWSROOM on this Monday, November 13th.

Here's what's on the rundown.

American and Israeli leaders together at the White House this hour. Iran's nuclear program high on their agenda.

HARRIS: Presidents, celebrities, VIPs, groundbreaking ceremonies this hour for Martin Luther King Jr. and the memorial being built in Washington.

COLLINS: And skip the cupcakes. You probably know someone with Celiac Disease. The problem is they may not know it. We're going to be talking to an expert about this under-diagnosed illness and gluten -- yes, gluten.

HARRIS: Gluten.

COLLINS: We're going to answer all your e-mails, too, right here in the NEWSROOM.

What is next in Iraq? The question has bedeviled President Bush and his Republican Party. It felt the heat of angry voters dissatisfied with the direction of the war. And today the president got ideas from a powerful bipartisan group studying U.S. policies on Iraq.

CNN's Kathleen Koch joining us now.

Good morning to you, Kathleen.


The president and members of the Iraq Study Group met for roughly an hour and a half. Press Secretary Tony Snow calling the meeting "a discussion."

Now, Snow spoke with reporters before that meeting had wrapped up and he said, "The Iraq Study Group is going to ask the president things, he is going to ask them things. It's a conversation where both sides are going to be sharing views and thoughts."

Now, very importantly, Snow said that there would not be any alternatives proposed today by that group because the group is tasked with coming up with a new strategy in Iraq. Snow said that the group is independent, that that would not be appropriate. He did, though, insist that there were things they could discuss, fact-based items about what's going on, on the ground right now in Iraq, and analytical views that they could share.

The administration, it's important to point out, is downplaying any speculation that these recommendations by the Iraq Study Group will be some sort of cure all and provide -- the president provide the United States a way out in Iraq. One senior administration official telling CNN, "If there was a rifle-shot solution we would have already pulled the trigger."

Now, other members of the Bush cabinet, Secretary of State Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, defense secretary, will be meeting later on in the day, throughout the day as well. Other members of the president's national security team with the Iraq Study Group -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Well, it has been much awaited, analytical views only or not. We'll continue to learn more about this as the day goes on.

Kathleen Koch, thanks so much for that.

And on the heels of this meeting, we want to remind everyone, at 11:30 now, we're going to be hearing more from Carl Levin. He is the incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Going to be laying out his agenda today.

So we will follow that in about 30 minutes or so here in CNN NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: This hour, President Bush is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The leaders discussing Iran's nuclear program. And the international concerns it stirs in the background another issue. Reports the Bush White House may be losing confidence in Olmert's government.

Joining us with a closer look, an expert on the Middle East. Martin Indyk is a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Ambassador Indyk, thanks for your time this morning. We appreciate it.


HARRIS: Well, let's start with this notion that the Bush administration might be losing some confidence with the Olmert government.

What are you hearing? INDYK: I'm not hearing that. I mean, if there is a lack of confidence, it's probably on both sides at the moment. But I think that there is a real question about how the United States and Israel are going to move forward, both on the Iranian challenge and on the broader way in which problems in Iraq affect Israel's strategic environment. And Israel's Arab neighbors also wanting to find a way to move forward on the Palestinian track.

So they've got a big agenda to discuss. And neither of them can afford to have doubts about each other at the moment.

HARRIS: And let me -- a new video in right now. We'll describe it in just a moment for you. But let me ask you to follow up on that.

How do these two leaders move forward with respect? Let's start with Iran. What do you think? Put us in the room, if you would.

INDYK: Well, I think that Olmert is going to be expressing a great deal of concern about where Iran is heading in terms of its nuclear program, and also question marks about whether the diplomacy that the president is conducting is likely to produce the necessary result of getting control of Iran's nuclear program. I think that the president himself must have doubts about the diplomacy at this point because Iran has already defied all of the -- crossed all of the red lines that the United States and the international community has put forward.

So the Israelis are not calling for the United States to launch military strikes on Iran. They want -- they would much prefer that the diplomacy succeed. But I think Olmert's looking for some reassurance that there is going to be a way of bringing the Russians, the Chinese along with sanctions that will have a real impact on Iran's calculations.

HARRIS: And what can President Bush offer in the way of assurances?

INDYK: Well, I think that he's going to have to come up with an approach that is more effective in terms of warning the Iranians of the clear consequences of their defiance of the international community at moment. That's not working. And if diplomacy is going to work, he has got to find a way to bring the Russians and Chinese into this process. That's his next challenge.

HARRIS: Let me -- let me change topics just a bit but keep Iran on the radar here. Do you believe -- do you believe that Iran and Syria are trying to topple the Siniora government in Lebanon? What's your thought on that?

INDYK: Absolutely. And it's an interesting example of the way that Iran's reach stretches to Lebanon and to the Palestinian arena. And I think that the challenge now in the streets that is coming from Hezbollah, the resignation of its ministers in Lebanon, the creation of a political crisis there, is precisely designed by Syria and Iran to thwart the efforts of the American-backed Siniora government to try to establish its control over the country to eventually disarm Hezbollah and to proceed with what is threatening to Syria, a tribunal that could well cause Syria to account for its actions against Lebanese prime minister Hariri.

HARRIS: OK. So tell us then what would a Hezbollah-dominated government in Lebanon mean for Israel.

INDYK: Well, what it would mean in the first instance is that Syrian hegemony over Lebanon would be back. Something that was ended last year when Syrian troops withdrew.

From the Israeli point of view, in contrast to the American point of view, that might not be such a bad thing, because it would give the Israelis an address, a state in Syria that would have more direct control of Hezbollah. The Israelis had some doubts about the wisdom of forcing the Syrians out in the first place.

But the problem for the United States is a more profound one. It is that the whole democratization effort manifested in this support for the millions of Lebanese that came out and demanded Syria leave will now be suffering another blow beyond the blow that it's already suffered in Iraq.

HARRIS: Ambassador Indyk, thanks for your time. We appreciate it.

INDYK: Thank you.

COLLINS: Trading a gun for a guitar.


JOSH HISLE, IRAQ VETERAN (SINGING): ... lucky to be alive. Which one you tankers brought that damn .45?


COLLINS: A former Marine using music to heal the wounds of war. We'll talk about it here in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And going to the gallows. We'll take you to one place in America where hanging is still an option.

That story in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: A new week, another surge in violence in Iraq. A suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in Baghdad today. The blast killed at least 10 people and wounded more than a dozen others. That bombing just one of several attacks today across the Iraqi capital as the violence spiked. The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East arrived in Baghdad to meet with the country's prime minister.

CNN's Arwa Damon is in Baghdad.

And Arwa, bring us up to speed. What's the very latest? ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, General John Abizaid met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki here in the capital, Baghdad. This was a surprise visit, previously unannounced.

They addressed a number of issues. The general reaffirming President Bush's commitment to Iraq, his commitment to making sure that the political process here does move forward. They also discussed the training and developing of the Iraqi security forces, as well as the impact of Iraq's neighbors. The main two countries there, though, being, of course, Syria and Iran.

General Abizaid also met with Iraqi Minister of Interior Jawad Bolani, again discussing the Iraqi security forces and their progress.

It is crucial that the Iraqi security forces start to be able to gain a certain measure of control over the violence here. Violence which today claimed the lives of a number of Iraqis.

At least 10 were killed when a suicide bomber boarded a bus in eastern Baghdad, detonating his explosives. Another 17 were wounded in that attack.

And Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling for some changes himself. He is asking political parties for permission to change up his cabinet, saying that the cabinet that stands as it is right now was not his choice. All of this is in an effort to end this endless cycle of violence here in Iraq.


DAMON (voice over): We don't know her name. We don't know who she is grieving for. All we know is her sorrow. Sorrow that many Iraqis have felt in the last three and a half years.

They are a people desperate for change. So far their young government hasn't been able to come up with a solution to the violence. It seems one of its largest obstacles itself.

MAHMOUD OTHMAN, IRAQI PARLIAMENT MEMBER: If they stay like this, not agreeing with each other, not working as a team, differences in between, goes out to media, as you have had, they can't do it. They will be very weak.

DAMON: Now the prime minister, seen by many as weak and beholden to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, is asking the parliament to allow him to make changes to the cabinet, saying this cabinet was not his choice.

NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): And if it was my choice, I would have selected other than the current ministers, or at least some of them.

DAMON: Some say accepting a cabinet whose members don't all support him was his first mistake. And al-Maliki is running out of time. OTHMAN: By the end of this year, if nothing changes and things deteriorate as they are doing -- as they are deteriorating by the day, I think unfortunately we may reach a point where we couldn't do much.

DAMON: The urgency highlighted by Sunday's attacks. In the capital alone, at least 50 Iraqis were killed in just five hours. The deadliest attack from twin suicide bombers, who detonated their explosives in a group of Iraqi police recruits, killing at least 35.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Why? Why? Why? Recruits, explosive belt and mortars.

Why? It targeted the civilians who are about to be recruited.

DAMON: The agony in his voice expresses what many Iraqis feel.


DAMON: However potential cabinet changes do play out, this will test al-Maliki's ability to hold this nation together. And if he is given the ability to select his own ministers, it will shed some light on where his own loyalties lie -- Tony.

HARRIS: CNN's Arwa Damon in Baghdad.

Arwa, thank you.

COLLINS: An Iraqi war veteran puts down his gun and picks up his guitar. Now, armed with music and melodies, he's on a new mission.

CNN's Randi Kaye has the story.


HISLE (SINGING): Stop screaming freedom...

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Lyrics like these...

HISLE (SINGING): Will a thousand more dead make you be aware?

KAYE: ... can only come from experience.

Just what you'd expect combat to be. Whizzing rounds and, you know, loud explosions and just fire, and round after round.

KAYE: Josh was a marksman with Marine Company Fox 25 out of Camp Pendleton. His unit was one of the first to invade Iraq.

HISLE: We were excited. You know? We were writing a page in history and, you know, we didn't care if we died. The Marine Corps trains you that way.

KAYE: A showman even in a war zone, Hisle entertained his fellow troops just hours before they crossed the border into Iraq...

HISLE (SINGING): Well, we're lucky to be alive. Which one of you tankers brought that damn .45?


KAYE: ... winning their talent contest.

HISLE: They had some big spotlights, a small P.A. system. Insane. It was a sea of Marines, and we rocked out a couple songs. And they were screaming. It was really cool.

KAYE: At this point, Hisle had no idea how much he would lean on his guitar as the violence escalated.


KAYE: Just hours after the talent show, his unit fought its way towards Baghdad.

(on camera): You believed in this mission.

HISLE: Absolutely.

KAYE: Wholeheartedly?

HISLE: Yes, I did.

KAYE (voice over): Hisle returned home from his first tour of duty to marry his high school sweetheart. They had a son. But just two weeks after Holland (ph) was born, Hisle was called back to Iraq. This time it would be different.

(on camera): When did it turn for you?

HISLE: I'd say in Ramadi it turned for me. We were getting blown up from roadside bombs (INAUDIBLE). It was insanity. And we couldn't control it. We couldn't stop it. And people there, they wanted us to leave.

KAYE: Do you know if you ever killed one?

HISLE: Absolutely.

KAYE: You did?


KAYE: How many?

HISLE: I don't know. I don't know.

KAYE: Dozens?

HISLE: I guess. I didn't keep count.

KAYE: How does that affect you? How do you live with that?

HISLE: It's really -- you don't think about it. Like I said, it's another...

KAYE: How could you not think about it?

HISLE: You just do it and then it's done.

KAYE: How did you change while you were there?

HISLE: I guess my change was, I just didn't feel the cause anymore. I just didn't see it anymore. My heart wasn't there. I just wanted to go home.

KAYE (voice over): Hisle lost himself in his music.

HISLE: I played every day. Every time I got a chance I would sit out and play (INAUDIBLE). I wrote a lot of great songs over there.

KAYE (on camera): So the music was really your outlet?

HISLE: I could complain all day with my guitar and no one -- no one had anything to say about it.

KAYE (voice over): Freelance journalist Mike Soray (ph) was embedded with Fox 25 and interviewed Hisle in Ramadi.

HISLE: This time, yes, I'm definitely watching my own ass a little bit more because I want my kid to have a dad.

KAYE: Soray (ph) saw how Hisle and his unit changed from one tour to the next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you got into the war, you could see he and the others became far more reflective and far more sensitive to the emotional and personal loss involved in war. As a result of that, you could see Josh's music change quite dramatically. He was more focused on writing folk songs really about love and loss, writing about his family, writing about things he missed, and his fear of not coming home alive.

HISLE (SINGING): I'm sick of calling this potential (ph).

KAYE (on camera): Is there an anti-war theme in your music today?

HISLE: There is slightly. I mean, I don't want to -- I don't want to be pinholed as an antiwar political guy, because, you know, any Marine over there, any soldier over there, for that matter at all, is in my heart. But it's bring 'em home music, it's get them back here, get them back to their families music.

KAYE (voice over): For Hisle it's been a musical catharsis of love, of loss, of what he says is regret about what he did in the war.

HISLE (SINGING): Then let me die a traitor's death...

KAYE: He wrote this song, "Traitor's Death," after a massive firefight in the desert left him once again questioning why he was there.

(on camera): Who's the traitor in that?

HISLE: I'm saying, if I'm wrong, then call me a traitor. I'm going to say this is wrong. And if you don't think I'm right, then kill me, traitor's death style. Whatever -- I don't care.

(SINGING): And these days I never will forget...

KAYE (voice over): Today, Hisle is trying to launch a music career. He has a lot to say, and he believes if things don't improve in Iraq soon, there will be plenty of people that will want to sing along.

HISLE (SINGING): So rock out to the sound of my regret.


KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Cincinnati.


COLLINS: Coming up, a disease that hits about three million Americans. And I'm one of them. It hits you right in the gut, and you probably never even heard of it. It's called Celiac Disease. What it is and what you need to know coming up in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Mom is not happy. You know what that means?

COLLINS: Nobody's happy.

HARRIS: No one's happy. A new survey says many middle-aged women are stressing out over aging parents and other family members.

"USA Today" reports on the poll by Pursuant, Inc. Women between the ages of 35 and 54 were asked if they were very happy. Just one in five said they were. That compares with about a third of the general population from an earlier poll.

COLLINS: They look alike, they talk alooing like, at times they even walk alike. That is not us.

HARRIS: They are brothers, identical brothers all the way. But big differences though. They grew up in separate households with very different childhoods. But as our Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports, their genes brought them together.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT voice-over): We'll begin with two brothers and one remarkable story. That's Roger Brooks on the left and Tony Milasi on the right.

ROGER BROOKS, IDENTICAL TWIN: I'm the better looking one of the two. It's obvious.

GUPTA: These big-hearted identical twins were split up at birth. Milasi was adopted at six weeks and grew up surrounded by close friends and a loving family. Brooks toughed it out in an orphanage until he was 4 years old. After his adoption, he was raised by a single mom and bounced around 11 different schools. And yet...

TONY MILASI, IDENTICAL TWIN: I never looked at my life as a tough life. I was always happy.

BROOKS: I believe Tony is the same way.

GUPTA: When they were 24 years old, there was a chance encounter. A friend of Tony's spotted Roger in a diner in Miami.

BROOKS: And he thought I was Tony Milasi. He approached the table and says, "Tony?"

GUPTA: A few phone calls later, they were reunited. The story was an international sensation.

MILASI: I says, "Come on, mom. You called me long distance. What happened?"

She says, "They find your brother." I said, "What?" "Your brother, they find your brother!"

NANCY SEGAL, AUTHOR, "INDIVISIBLE BY TWO": Twins have a lot to teach us about how happy all of us are.

GUPTA: Nancy Segal has spent her professional lifetime studying twins. She is a twin herself and says 80 percent of our personality is genetic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely.

SEGAL: They're just guys who exude this warmth and enthusiasm and optimism. Raised apart, where does this come from? It's their basic human nature.

GUPTA: A nature we all would be fortunate to have.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.


HARRIS: Happiness and your health, a surprising connection. It is a Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigation, and you can see it Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And a disease that hits about three million Americans right in the gut. You've probably never heard of it, but you'll hear about it here today. It is called Celiac Disease. I'm a Celiac.

It sounds kind of scary, doesn't it?

What is it and what you need know, coming up right here in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: And we are standing by waiting to hear from the presumptive chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Michigan Senator Carl Levin. The senator will be laying out the agenda for his committee, and expect to hear a lot about oversight, particularly in the area of contracts for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When that news conference begins we'll bring you a portion of it live.

COLLINS: Millions of people across the U.S. are suffering from it. Chances are, though, you've never heard of it. Sometimes in the news business those of us in front of the camera are able to shed a little bit of light on things that otherwise may stay in the dark, because I have the disease that we're talking about, Celiac Disease, along with my 5-year-old son. I am going to take advantage of that opportunity today.

Once again, it is called Celiac Disease. It hits about three million of U.S. people right in the gut. That's one percent now of the U.S. population. It is a digestive disorder that's triggered by eating foods containing the protein gluten. That's right. The stuff of bread, pasta, beer, so many other things that we love to eat. Today some answers.

We've brought in the director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, my physician, Dr. Peter Greene.

Dr. Green, thanks for being with us. We are talking today on the heels of the International Symposium on Celiac disease that I was able to attend in New York.

How many people did you have there?

DR. PETER H.R. GREEN, COLUMBIA UNIV. MEDICAL CENTER: We had over 1,400 people, Heidi. It was terrific.

COLLINS: What does that say about the number of people who are learning about this disease, and physicians who are able to start testing for the disease.

GREEN: It says that there's increasing awareness, but the disease is grossly underdiagnosed in this country compared to every other country in the world, because most of the doctors don't realize that it's one percent of the population.

COLLINS: And you and I have spoken before about what that percent is. I remember way back when we were all learning about our cholesterol, everybody knew their cholesterol level, and it's the same percentage of people who have high cholesterol. You still say 98 percent undiagnosed, though. Tell us what the disease is.

GREEN: The disease is a sensitivity to gluten, Heidi, which is the protein composed of wheat and other grains, mainly rye and barley. In their condition, people get a reaction in their gut. But the manifestations affect almost every system in the body. The nervous system, the skin, the teeth, as well as the liver and the heart even. So it's very common, and the manifestations are very diffuse, which is one of the main reasons why it is so underdiagnosed in this country.

COLLINS: Tell us exactly what happens, Dr. Green, if you are a person with Celiac disease, you don't know it, you consume gluten. You feel what?

GREEN: Many people for long periods of time have no complaints. The most common complaint is diarrhea, but in adults it can be manifested as anemia, osteoporosis. There is neurological problems, even just fatigue or infertility.

COLLINS: If you do not take gluten out of your diet, what can happen to you? There are a lot of people who cheat, even once they find out they have Celiac disease.

GREEN: That's right. Their compliance with this gluten-free diet is very difficult in this day and age. Some of the long-term side effects include the developments of various malignancies, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which can occur in 5 percent to 6 percent of people who have this condition.

COLLINS: I want to go ahead and take a moment to show a picture, Dr. Green. This was something one of your colleagues, one of the physicians used during the symposium. This is a picture of a young child lying in a hospital bed. Tell us exactly what we're looking at here. This is the before picture.

GREEN: That's right. Celiac disease is very common throughout world, Heidi. And it is actually exceptionally common in these refugee camps in the Sahara in Northern Africa. And this child looks like she is suffering from severe malnutrition. But the malnutrition in her case is due to Celiac disease. So this is a very classical appearance, one that we don't see that often in the developed world. But in the developing world, where wheat is being delivered as part of the refugee system, this child is actually suffering from Celiac disease.

COLLINS: It's incredible to look at the after picture, the picture of the same child after gluten was taken out of the diet, just six months later.

GREEN: I know. It's truly an amazing picture. And we don't usually see this now in the developed world. But this is a tremendous example of what can happen. The disease doesn't appear to be as a major pediatric disorder now, as it is an adult disorder. But this is an unbelievable example of how it can afflict people. And still, even though it is not common, we can see children like that in the U.S. It's truly quite astounding.

COLLINS: I want to get to some of these e-mails, Dr. Green, that we have here. Quickly, just want to say a couple of things to hit on here, talking about what gluten is. This is a protein that contains wheat. So when people who have Celiac disease consume wheat, barley or rye, we're talking about cereals, talking about pizza, beer, I mean, we could go on and on of the things that poor people like me can't have. But there are so very many things we can have. I always say from the animal to the plate, from the garden to the plate. And these are where some of these questions begin.

Let's look at something here from Gregory. Alexandria, Virginia. He says, "If you have allergic sensitivities to gluten, does this mean that you necessarily have Celiac disease?"

GREEN: That's right. There is a lot of misconceptions, Heidi, about what the term actually involves. Celiac disease is not a true allergy. It's actually an immunological reaction. But it's not an allergy. An allergy is something where you get hives or your tongue swells up. So -- but many people, to convey the sense of the urgency that they need to avoid these products claim it to be an allergy. People who are truly allergic get hives with wheat, don't have Celiac disease.

COLLINS: OK, interesting. And quickly, to point out, one crumb of bread, I always say, does the same amount of damage to me as an entire loaf. So we talk a lot about cross-contamination issues, too, especially in restaurants.

Here now is the next one, because you talk so much about misdiagnosis. This person, B., says "I have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I've had it for 20 years, but when treatment after treatment does nothing, I read more on Celiac disease and see that there are a lot of similar symptoms. What can my doctor look at to distinguish the two and how could I talk to him about trying to determine if we should be treating Celiac disease?"

GREEN: That's a very good question, Heidi. We actually demonstrated that Celiac disease occurs more commonly in people who have Crohn's disease. So there are a number of points. One, they can be misdiagnosed. Patients with Celiac disease get labels of Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and they can have many, many years of symptoms before they get actually diagnosed with Celiac disease. The diagnosis, Heidi, is actually very easy. It requires a blood test and an endoscopy. The difficulty with the diagnosis appears to be doctors considering the diagnosis, because once it is considered it is easy. But unfortunately, it's not on the radar of most doctors, especially gastroenterologists, and especially inflammatory bowel disease experts.

COLLINS: All right, so we have our work cut out for us. We're going to be screaming here about it. One left to talk with you about.

"When a person with undiagnosed Celiac disease has suffered from malabsorption for a few years, is there possibility of permanent damage done to systems and tissues because of the lack of nutrients?" This is from Dee in Virginia.

GREEN: Yes, there is. One of the common manifestations of Celiac disease are these dental enamel defects, the little spots people have on their teeth, or the corroguations, or dark marks or white spots. So they're obviously permanent damage that was created very early in life, in the first seven years. But most of the manifestations of Celiac disease, the anemia, the osteoporosis, will improve. The stunted growth in children will improve, Heidi, once the diagnosis is made and diet is commenced. About 80 percent of people recover dramatically. Often the fatigue goes away. The improvement can occur within weeks of diagnosis.

COLLINS: All right. Well, we will continue to work on this together, Dr. Green.

For more information, Dr. Green's Web site is at Once again, that's Columbia University's Celiac Disease Center. And if you'd like to do a symptoms checklist, you can go to the Web site for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. That's

Dr. Peter Green, thanks for your time.

HARRIS: OK, let's take you now to Washington and hear from the presumptive chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, talking about Iraq right now.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D) MICHIGAN: It is less likely that the Iraqis will take the important steps to reach political compromise if they believe that we are simply there in an open-ended way and that we would stay there as long as they want us to stay there. That does not press them, if they have that view, to make the decisions, the compromises relative to Iraqi resources and Iraqi power-sharing that only they can make.

Second, we must focus on rebuilding the readiness of our nondeployed ground forces, address the equipment problems that our forces, both active and reserve, have after three and a half years of war.

We've got to carefully address the state of our armed forces to ensure that timely and appropriate action is taken to counter any signs that the force is being broken or weakened by extraordinarily high operation tempo.

Next, we need to review the progress being made in Afghanistan, including whether our NATO allies are asserting too many limits on the use of their forces and whether the reconstruction effort there is being conducted properly.

Fourth, we need to carefully review whether our military forces are properly sized, properly organized, properly equipped to deal with the current conflicts and with the threats and the contingencies that we're likely to face in the future, including nontraditional conflicts.

Finally, we need to put much more emphasis on the oversight process, to make sure that the American people are getting a proper return on their tax dollars and that Pentagon activities are proper, lawful and transparent. Reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular merit close examination from oversight. There has been inadequate oversight in this Republican Congress. They have too often been a rubber stamp for administration policies and too often been unwilling to probe the inadequacies, the shortfalls and the failures of administration practices and policies.

Just a few other issues.

Nuclear issues: We need to evaluate, and critique if necessary, administration actions relating to North Korea and Iran, ensure robust funding and authorities for nonproliferation programs. And we have to ensure that any accord with India for nuclear cooperation does not undermine efforts relating to North Korea and Iran.

On ballistic missile defense, we must monitor missile testing and implementation of the legislative requirement for plans to test, evaluate and report to Congress on the operational capability of each block of the WMD system.

And we must carefully assess the Department of Defense's efforts relating to acquisition reform, financial management and civilian personnel management, and be prepared to legislate in order to address any issues which we determine.

But first is the issue of Iraq. That is going to take a significant amount of our time, both in the next month and a half when Senator Warner remains chairman, and then in January.

We await the report of the Baker-Hamilton commission. That is going to have an impact on whatever action might be possible in this Congress and in the next Congress.

We are also awaiting a report from our top uniform leaders of the -- what they call scrub, which they are undertaking. They are scrubbing now possible options that they can recommend to the president. And we look forward an independent professional assessment by our top military leaders of what they see those options to be.

Those two actions are going to be very significant to us in any review that we make.

We also, of course, are going to have a different make-up of our committee. We will have some additional Democrats on the committee. And their views, of course, will be important, and their experiences will be important, and the message that they carry, which was so obvious from last Tuesday, which is the American people are not accepting the presidential view which is that we are, quote, "absolutely winning," the view expressed by the president just a few weeks ago; they're not accepting the vice president's view of a few weeks ago, "full speed ahead in Iraq."

Those sound like statements that were made years ago in Iraq. Those were statements made just a few weeks ago, ignoring the obvious reality on the ground in Iraq, that we're getting deeper and deeper into a hole, that we should stop digging and that we should look for alternatives in order to promote the chances of success in Iraq.

As many of you know, it's my belief -- which is shared by about 40 senators in the Senate who voted for the Levin-Reed resolution -- that the way in which we can promote the chances of success in Iraq is by putting pressure on the Iraqi leadership to reach political compromises which are essential to ending the violence and ending the insurgency and avoiding civil war.

They, and they alone, are going to decide whether they're going to have a nation or whether they're going to have an all-out civil war.

We have given them the opportunity, at huge cost of blood and treasure, to have a nation, should they choose it. But it is up to them, not us, not our brave and valiant troops -- it's up to the Iraqi leadership: Do they want a civil war or do they want a nation?

And to just continue to tell them that we're going to give them whatever protection we're able to give them in a Green Zone does not promote the decision which only they can make. It doesn't force them to take steps to resolve those differences.

They've made promises to each other, they've made promises to the world.

They were supposed to consider amendments to their constitution within 90 days of the beginning of the assembly. They did not keep that promise.

They adopted a very formal, signed plan to reduce the violence in Baghdad. It was a plan which the prime minister gave great promotion to. He talked about in public, just a few months ago, when we were there on our last trip. The prime minister told us it was going to be signed that night and it was.

On October 3, just a month ago, there was a signed agreement among the factions that they would act to end the violence in Baghdad and in Iraq. They have not kept that agreement.

And so I've reached a conclusion which, again, I reached long ago: that as long as the Iraqis believe that we're there in some open-ended way, that we're then taking the pressure off them to make some very difficult decisions about sharing power and resources, ending this insurgency, ending this connection of their police to the militias, and ending even, yes, the connection between the army, apparently, and the militias, of which there was evidence just in this last weekend's New York Times.

These are significant, damaging characteristics of the current police and army. It's got to end. But it's not going to end if they think we're an ongoing, unending security blanket for them in the so- called Green Zone in Baghdad.

So those are some preliminary thoughts on our priorities.

Again, we'll be working very closely with the new ranking member, Senator McCain. We'll be consulting with him.

All of this is subject to recommendations and advice that he might have for me.

HARRIS: There you've have it, you've been listening to Carl Levin, the presumptive chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee. And if you were wondering what the Senate Armed Services Committee would look like and what kind of issues that committee would be taking on, under Democratic control, I think you got a pretty good idea.

Carl Levin promising a lot of oversight to come, a review of the situation on the ground in Iraq and NATO's work in Afghanistan, a review of military contracts and a closer scrutiny of contracting moving forward. A review of the administration's efforts with respect to North Korea and Iran's nuclear program. It is Iran's nuclear program that has stirred concern around the world. But Iranians will also tell you President Bush's policies have stoked fears in their country. Now let's get the view from inside Iran, CNN's Aneesh Raman is in the capital, Tehran.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It started at the end of October in the Persian Gulf with U.S.-led naval exercises aimed at stopping the smuggling of nuclear weapons. Days later, Iran responded, defensive war games were launched, three new missiles were test-fired, and tensions being Washington and Tehran seemed set to intensify.

But then something changed. The Democrats took control of Congress. It was a moment Iran's supreme leader simply could not ignore.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER (through translator): The winning of Democrats in the U.S. elections is not solely a domestic event of America. It means the failure of pro-war and aggressive policies of the president of America.

RAMAN (on camera): You do get the sense here that tensions have simmered down just a bit. But of course, we want to find out from the people as best we can. We're going to ride one of these buses around Tehran and see what they say.

(voice over): On board, women are relegated to the back, separated by a bar. None were willing to speak with us.

But up front, Hamdi (ph) did. "Yes, of course," he told me, "the Democrats' win in the U.S. gives hope because the Republicans' confrontational policy may be pushed aside."

And along the ride even came this, a call from Babak (ph) for reconciliation between Iran and the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they make any relationship, it means economy in Iraq is getting better and the condition for the people, it's getting better. And the people, they want -- they want to make a relationship between Iran and America.

RAMAN: It's a long shot. The U.S. still considers Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. And some analysts believe Iran could grow more, not less defiant after the Democrats' victory. It's not the talk of countries coming together, but not enough to discourage some in Tehran who right now see a chance for peace and are hoping it will pan out.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tehran.


COLLINS: We want to take you back to Washington, D.C. here. A very emotional day. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. D.C. Mayor Andrew Young (sic) getting very emotional alongside Reverend Jesse Jackson.

ANDREW YOUNG: ... Let us go back to our communities and turn the dirt and provide a clean and pure lifestyle for our children. And get rid of the crime, bring forward the wisdom...


HARRIS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" coming up at the top of the hour. Yes, Michael. Michael Holmes is standing by.

COLLINS: Let's just watch ...

HARRIS: With a preview. Hey, Michael, can you hear us?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you both. Yes, I had a little bit of audio problem here. Can't hear you guys. But I'll tell you what we've got coming up in YOUR WORLD TODAY -- the Israeli prime minister, as you've reported, goes to Washington. He's got plenty to talk about, not least the Iran nuclear program. That's -- and also the pretty much non-existent peace process with the Palestinians. Moves also by the Palestinians this hour. A compromised government. The Iraq study group as you've also been reporting, is meeting with administration officials this day. A new direction needed in Iraq. Is this group going to be able to have the solutions? We're going to look at that in depth. And, finally, a little bit of a lighter look -- Chinese takeout. You can call it that, at least drive-throughs. Ubiquitous here in the United States. The Chinese, believe it or not, just trying catching onto the notion of drive-through restaurants. I don't think you're going to pick up any kung pow chicken there, but McDonald's is certainly doing it. Good to see you, Tony, Heidi.

HARRIS: All right. Thank you Michael, appreciate it.

COLLINS: Michael Holmes, thank you for that. Quickly back to Washington, D.C. where we saw a very emotional few moments. I made the mistake of calling Andrew Young the D.C. mayor. As you can well see, this is the Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, alongside Reverend Jesse Jackson. Seeing the emotion of the day at groundbreaking ceremony for the MLK Memorial in Washington, D.C., the first national memorial for African-Americans.

HARRIS: That's right.


COLLINS: Kyra Phillips joining us now for the next three hours.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're talking about the MLK celebration all throughout the day. There are these kids that had an essay contest. We're actually going to have one of the little 8-year- olds on with his essay talking about what MLK means to him. yes, it is amazing when you see generation to generation talking about this, learning about it.

The newest addition obviously to the National Mall in Washington. In the shadows of most of his famous speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. now permanently memorialized in the Capitol. We're going to hear from some of the prominent leaders who are there for the dedication, including Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama.

Plus, will from your child get a flu shot on time this year? We're going to tell you what's holding up some doses.

COLLINS: All right, very good Kyra Phillips. Thank you, we'll be watching. Meanwhile, CNN NEWSROOM continues just one hour from now.