Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Kidnappings, More Deadly Bombings in Iraq

Aired November 14, 2006 - 09:00   ET


Good morning, everyone.

I'm Tony Harris.


For the next three hours, watch events happen live on this Tuesday, the 14th day of November.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Iran's president -- he's predicting nuclear success by the end of this year and he's promising a message for America on the way.

HARRIS: Treating war trauma with an electronic deja vu. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta stops by this morning.

COLLINS: And quicker than a New York minute, Rudy Giuliani takes baby steps toward the presidential race. No wait for '08, in THE NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: It was, to say the least, a daring raid. Today, one of the biggest mass kidnappings since the start of the Iraq war. Gunmen dressed as police kidnapped as many as 150 people from a Ministry of Education building in Baghdad. The lightning quick raid prompting universities across Iraq to shut down until security is beefed up.

Along with the kidnappings, more deadly bombing in the Iraqi campaign.

The latest now from CNN's Michael Ware in Baghdad -- Michael, good morning to you.

The first question, where were the authorities when these kidnappings were taking place?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, strangely, Tony, the part of the capital, Baghdad, where this took place, it so happens is fairly heavily defended. This is a well-to-do area of the capital not far from the heavily fortified green zone. It's home to a number of prominent Iraqi political figures and their party headquarters.

So there's, strangely, an enormous security presence within this area. And, like all government institutions in this country, technically, government forces should have been protecting this research. Yet, as the minister for higher education told the nation in a televised address to parliament, more than 80 gunmen showed up in Iraq security uniforms.

They came in more than 20 cars. They claimed that they were on a legitimate government mission and they then went through the four- story building -- it sounds like it was systematically -- before disappearing with what the minister says is up to 150 hostages.

Now, police put the figure somewhat lower. What we have had cross over Iraqi local TV is that the minister now says perhaps a small number of hostages have been released. One report says it's as few as three -- Tony.

HARRIS: And, Michael, my understanding is that men, not women but men, were the targets of the kidnappings.

Is that correct?

WARE: Absolutely. From what we understand, from what the minister told the Iraqi parliament and from what we're hearing from police sources and eyewitnesses is that as these clearly well organized gunmen, who had sealed off not just the institute, but the surrounding streets, went through the building, they segregated the men and the women. And when they left with their hostages, they left the women corralled behind in a locked room.

HARRIS: And, Michael, there's been an incident in Ramadi that has resulted in multiple deaths.

What can you tell us about that?

WARE: Well, from the U.S. military, there is this unerring silence, not just on Ramadi, but on reports of fighting, heavy fighting, indeed, here in the capital last night, as well.

What we know of Ramadi is that according to hospital sources in that western city, they have told -- the officials at the hospital have told CNN that last night about 8:00 p.m. a U.S. raid was launched. As a result, they say, 25 Iraqis were killed -- this is according to the hospital officials -- and an untold number wounded.

The same hospital officials and local eyewitnesses that we've spoken to claim that the U.S. used tanks, main gun-round tank fire, to -- as part of this raid.

Now, the U.S. military, on this and the reports of air strikes in another part of the capital last night, remained silent. Absolutely no comment -- Tony.


Michael Ware for us in Baghdad.

Michael, thank you.

COLLINS: The U.S. relationship with Iran icy at the best of times, downright hostile a good deal of the time. Today, new considerations. A key U.S. ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling on Washington to involve Iran in discussions on Iraq.

But if Washington talks, will Tehran listen?

CNN's Aneesh Raman is the only U.S. television reporter in the capital.

He is joining us now by phone -- Aneesh, tell us if the U.S. actually decides to reach out to Iran for talks, is Iran willing to then engage?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to Iran's president, Heidi, who is in a marathon press conference for an hour three as we speak, the U.S. would essentially have to change their policy. He lambasted the American government, saying, "We have said" -- Iran -- "from the beginning that we will talk with the American government, but under conditions. The conditions concern the attitude of the American government. If they correct their behavior, we will treat them like others."

Iran really feels it has leverage throughout the world now. It sees itself as a regional superpower. It looks at the situation in Iraq and the calls for Iran to be part of a solution and the fact that the U.S. would, if this happens, have to initiate direct talks with Iran for the first time in over two decades, and sees it all lumping together into Iran standing firm in this part of the world as a power that really is speaking on behalf of everyone here.

So the U.S. will have to do a lot to come to the table with Iran. There have been suggestions that talks are already being sort of done at a lower level, that James Baker, the head of the Iraq Study Group, met with the Iranian ambassador to the U.N. some weeks ago.

Iran's president was asked about it. He didn't confirm it outright today, but he did say that dialogue of some sort had been taking place.

And it all, of course, begs the question what does this mean for a nuclear program?

And it seems Iran will simply not back down now -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Aneesh, quickly, we should probably remind everyone, this is certainly not something, engaging Iran, that the White House or the Bush administration has agreed to, just something that is out in the press, first of all.

Second of all, talk a little bit, if you could, about exactly what type of behaviors Ahmadinejad is talking about that need to be corrected on the part of the U.S.

RAMAN: Well, for Iran, it will be specific to the nuclear program. Iran has said before it is willing to talk about its program, but it is not willing to suspend its nuclear program as a precondition for talks. The White House, along with other Western countries, have said we can only talk with Iran once they suspend their nuclear program.

So for Iran to have direct talks with the U.S. even if it comes to Iraq, they won't suspend their nuclear program as a precondition. And, of course, they're leaving it somewhat vague so that they can claim victory in any scenario. But Iran will call for a change in what they've seen as a confrontational policy coming out of Washington.

This is all, as you mentioned, hypothetical. But it all adds into Iran's self -- its own notion that it is being self-described as a superpower here.

COLLINS: Quickly, you mentioned that very long news conference that Ahmadinejad is holding at this time.

Any headlines to point out from that?

RAMAN: Well, he did -- he spoke directly to the American people. He's done that before. And he said he will deliver a message to the American people. That was about all he said. He didn't say when he would do it or what that message would be.

He chastised, again, President Bush, as he's done before. But right at the top, maintaining that Iran will not stop its nuclear program, that it is set to continue forward.

COLLINS: All right, Aneesh Raman coming to us from Tehran as the only U.S. television reporter in that area.

Aneesh, thank you.

HARRIS: How about this?

Smile, everyone, for the camera. Exactly one week after the mid- term elections, Congressional freshmen pose for their class photo. Look at this. Dozens of soon-to-be House and Senate members assembled on the Capitol steps this morning. They're also going through orientation sessions to learn all about their new jobs, where their offices are, get the keys made, the I.D. photo. The new session of Congress convenes in January.

The lame duck Congress still has work to do, though; for one thing, the nomination of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Bolton's initial nomination, you may remember, was opposed by Democrats and some Republicans. That forced the president to appoint him on a temporary basis.

The question now, how has Bolton done and will he get to keep the job?

That story from CNN's senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) RICHARD ROTH, SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.N. Ambassador John Bolton cast the only veto in the Security Council Saturday, shooting down a resolution that would condemn Israel's offensive in Gaza.

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We are disturbed that there is not a single reference to terrorism in the proposed resolution.

ROTH: It was not the only time Bolton stood alone at the United Nations.

BOLTON: Contrary to my desire to work this weekend...

ROTH: Even President Bush, soon after his recess appointment of Bolton without Congressional approval, joked, "If Bolton had blown the place up yet."

However, the U.N. and Bolton have survived.

ED LUCK, U.N. ANALYST: I think people see two John Boltons, one who is very engaged in the Security Council and quite effective, and one who seems to ignore much of the rest of the organization.

ROTH: On hot global emergencies like North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Bolton has appeared to have enjoyed being the Bush administration's attack dog.

BOLTON: The North Korean population has been losing average height and weight over the years and maybe this will be a little diet for Kim Jung Il.

ROTH: Bolton does get some praise. Several U.N. diplomats highlight his legal skills for cobbling together U.N. resolutions, a drive for hard work, as well as what one diplomat called "an encyclopediac knowledge on issues."

But Bolton's style has bruised others. Even the top U.N. brass have felt his wrath.

BOLTON: And I'm telling you, this is the worst mistake by a senior U.N. official that I have seen in that entire time.

ROTH: Accusations like that rankled U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

JAMES TRAUB, AUTHOR: There was one point when he and Bolton got into a real argument, a real fight. And Annan said to him, "Don't talk to me that way," or words to that effect. And I asked him later, "Have u ever spoken to any American ambassador as harshly as that?," because Kofi Annan is a man who speaks harshly to no man.

And he said, "No."

ROTH: Bolton takes pride in his patience, noting he helped count chads in the lengthy 2000 Florida presidential stalemate. But now the votes may not be there for him in the U.S. Senate for him to remain the country's U.N. ambassador.

(on camera): John Bolton is willing to engage on almost any world issue with reporters here at the U.N. But as for his own fate, now hanging in the balance in Washington, Bolton declines, preferring, he says, to focus on the job at hand.

Richard Roth, CNN's, United Nations.


COLLINS: We want to get over to Chad Myers now, who is standing in front of some swirling, whirling...


COLLINS: ... typographics there -- Chad.

What's happening?

MYERS: It looks like a hurricane, but it's not.


MYERS: Good morning, Heidi.


COLLINS: One couple takes a controversial new step to ensure they have healthy babies. The health concerns, the ethical questions -- you'll see them, coming up in THE NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Also, they call him America's mayor.

Is he looking to become the next American president?

Political moves for Rudy Giuliani -- see them in THE NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And reliving the realities of war -- new treatment for soldiers struggling to deal with war wounds you cannot see, ahead in THE NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Breaking down some numbers on the Iraq war now. A "New York Times" report says one of five war vets has been left at least partially disabled. And there's this from the "New England Journal of Medicine" -- a study of four combat units shows at least 15 percent of troops suffered from depression, anxiety or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. And according to a report provided to "USA Today," nearly 20,000 service members who have returned home say they've had nightmares.

Many troops returning from Iraq have had a hard time leaving the war behind. And now, the military is trying something new to help them -- virtual reality.

CNN's senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, takes a closer look.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I was experiencing the reality of war. But, in fact, it was virtual reality of war.

(on camera): Helpless, totally helpless and really, really scared, because I thought I was going to die. I didn't want to die like that.

(voice-over): I wasn't ready for what would happen. It was perhaps as unnerving, as intense and as disturbing an experience as I could imagine.

(on camera): Every time I'd hear a new noise, I could feel my heart starting to pound. I can -- I have a little bit of the shakes with my hands.

(voice-over): Here at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, therapists use video game technology to help Iraq vets overcome PTSD. They take the vets back virtually to the place where their trauma began. It's an electronic deja vu. They feel as if it's real -- the sights, sounds, vibrations, even the smells of the Iraq war, but in a safe environment.

I experienced it for myself, with the help of Dr. Maryrose Gerardi at Emory University in Atlanta, one of the therapy's test sites. I was quickly brought back to my time covering the war in Iraq.

DR. MARYROSE GERARDI, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Right now you're sitting in the Humvee. I'd like you to just move ahead slowly.

GUPTA (on camera): That's wild.

GERARDI: You can certainly...

GUPTA: Now I'm looking at the back...

GERARDI: ... stand up if you would like, but please be careful. Now, as we go along, what I can do is add stimuli along the way that hopefully would elicit some of your specific memory. For instance...

GUPTA: Ugh, helicopters flying overhead.

GERARDI: I'm going to give you something that's a little bit more disturbing.

GUPTA: That is really frightening. I mean, you have no idea what's -- what's happening right now. Just two of our vehicles have just -- it looked like they've exploded. I can't tell if they're our vehicles. I'm trying to get out of there as quickly as possible. I can feel my heart rate just starting to pound.

It looks like we just took some gunfire. More gunfire. GERARDI: Now, I would be asking you, if we were working on a specific memory, to be recounting your memory and confronting that memory.

GUPTA: Well, there was one time when we were driving along and all of a sudden our convoy came under fire.

GERARDI: What happened next?

GUPTA: It was nighttime. We saw all these tracer fire, I guess, hitting the front of the convoy in front of us. And we all just ducked down into the truck as low as we could go. You're always sort of covering your head and making sure your helmet chin strap is on as tight as it can be.

GERARDI: What were you feeling at that point?

GUPTA: Helpless. Totally helpless and really, really scared, because I thought was I was going to die. I didn't want to die like that.

I am very uncomfortable right now, especially as I see -- and I'm trying to get this thing to get us out of here as quickly as possible. Every time I hear a new noise, I can feel my heart starting to pound, I can -- I have a little bit of the shakes with my hands.

GERARDI: What I would be doing, also, at this point, Sanjay, is asking you to rate your level of anxiety on a scale from 0 to 100.

GUPTA: Ninety. I don't feel good at all right now.


But the goal, as we had talked about, is to confront the fear memory in a safe place. You don't want to avoid it. Confront it and find out that you can habituate to that level of anxiety. You can be OK with it.


COLLINS: Holy cow!


COLLINS: It was incredibly intense.

GUPTA: It was. And I have to tell you, I was stunned by my own reaction to it, because I sort of, you know, in full disclosure, I went to this exercise thinking, you know, I'm not really going to be affected by this. I only spent, you know, a couple of months in Iraq, as compared to the people who are out there for months and months on end.

And I went through that exercise three times. I was al -- you know, I was almost in tears at the end of this. And I think, you know, I talked to the psychologists a lot about this, just doing it over and over again, that repetition, they say, makes you learn how to control that fear a little bit better and that's sort of the goal of this exercise.

COLLINS: Sure. I mean, when they pump in the smell, the vibration, the sights, the sounds, I mean that really gives you all of the sensories to react and to have like a no kidding experience, a real life experience.

GUPTA: That's right. It is full immersion. And I'm, you know, I'm not a big video gamer, but you got a sense just looking at that and really -- I mean, I had the head gear on. I was completely immersed in that scene for some time. And it really takes you back there...

COLLINS: But it is...

GUPTA: ... in a safe setting.

COLLINS: It is based on a videogame. I mean we can see that with the video.

GUPTA: Xbox game, The Full Spectrum Warrior.


GUPTA: Yes, it is based on that. They've modified it specifically to incorporate scenes from battle scenes in Iraq and now they can add things, you know?

So if you say, look, it was a convoy attack that was particularly frightening to me...


GUPTA: ... all of a sudden you'll find yourself in the middle of a convoy, which was my most scary moment out there. And all of a sudden taking gunfire. And that's what they try and get you to just do over and over again until you can sort of control that.

COLLINS: So they have a lot of different variations and scenarios.

Now, how many people have actually done this therapy?

GUPTA: Fewer than 100 or so, I think, so far. And, you know, what's interesting, Heidi, to me, is that, you know, I think people are so quick to throw a pill or an anti-anxiety pill at somebody that comes back with some sort of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


GUPTA: Now they're looking at some of these other technologies. I mean, you pointed out that 15 percent of the people coming back have PTSD. That's a huge number.

COLLINS: It is a big number. GUPTA: These are young people. They're going to have their lifetime in front of them with PTSD. Being able to immense them in some sort of technology like this that might have a benefit -- they don't have enough results yet to know how much of a benefit. But it seems to at least help people control their fears and find out what their triggers are.

COLLINS: Yes, sometimes that transition from, you know, being over -- fighting a war back into civilian life is so very difficult. We just had a story about it yesterday.


COLLINS: A mom who was, you know, used to driving a truck in Iraq. It was a Humvee. And then she showed her driving her kids to school. It's tough.

How many times do you have to go through that entire therapy, though, before you might actually see results?

GUPTA: I went through it three times. They say, you know, 10 to 15 times you might have to actually go through those exercises.

But here's the thing I found most interesting. For me, you know, it wasn't sort of the description of PTSD that people think. Like you hear a car backfire and you go oh my god, it looks like gunfire.

For me it was I felt really helpless in that convoy. There was nothing I could do. And what the psychologists told me afterward was situations in my life now where I feel helpless or I feel like things are spiraling out of control, I may have more of an exaggerated reaction to those things as opposed to before the war.

And I think that it's not typically what you think it might be.


GUPTA: So it can be very different. I wore a hat that I brought back from Iraq once and I -- all of a sudden I felt my heart rate starting to increase and I couldn't wear the hat.

COLLINS: Really?

GUPTA: I didn't expect that reaction.

So you have to just figure out what those things are.

COLLINS: Are there any down sides to this? I mean could it possibly induce PTSD?

GUPTA: I asked the same question. I said, I didn't particularly enjoy that experience, why did I have to go through that?

And she said, well, really, it's not going to induce PTSD. It's not going to give you long lasting sort of detriments. But it may help you figure out what some of those triggers are. So it doesn't appear to have a down side as of yet. Few -- just a few number of people, though, so far, have tried this. They'll get better results over the next several months.

COLLINS: And then you have conversations, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists after that, right?

GUPTA: Yes. The follow-up is key, you know?


GUPTA: Actually figuring out what those things are and then meeting with the psychologist. You can't just play the game and do the exercise without having that follow-up.


GUPTA: That's so important, you're right.



All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks for doing that for us.

GUPTA: Thanks, Heidi.

HARRIS: That's fascinating.

COLLINS: That's fascinating.

GUPTA: Thank you.


Sanjay, thanks.

Flu season is here and so is a new warning about a popular flu drug. What you need to watch for, especially if you're a parent, in THE NEWSROOM.

Also, it is a big day for the big three. They head to Washington for a tune-up. And that's next in Minding Your Business.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


HARRIS: The big three auto makers are headed to Washington today, trying to get a little help from President Bush.

Andrew Ross Sorkin of the "New York Times" is Minding Your Business.

Andrew, good morning.


How are you doing?

HARRIS: Oh, good. Good. Very good.

SORKIN: You know, this is a very interesting story. This has been a meeting that has been planned for months. Actually, it started in May. It was supposed to happen before the election. Now, some have argued that the Bush administration is having to take this meeting under pressure, because the Democrats are now in power.

But you're going to see today Greg Waggoner from G.M. is going to be there, Alan Mulally from Ford. Both of those companies struggling. Tom LaSorda -- not the Tommy Lasorda of the Dodgers -- who runs Chrysler -- will be there. And Hank Paulson.

So it is a big meeting and we do expect some news out of it.


So what is expected, Andrew, to be the main topic of discussion?

SORKIN: Well, really, the main topic today is going to be the health care situation. You know, G.M. is the largest health care provider, really, in the country. They have 1.1 million employees and dependents and pensioners who are all on their health care plan. They're spending $5.3 billion on health care a year and this is really going to your and my pocket, because any time you buy a car, it's costing $1,000 more than it otherwise would.


SORKIN: This is more than the cost of the steel that's in cars. So they really need to do something about this. And they're going to be pushing the administration on the price of prescription drugs and health care costs.

HARRIS: OK, so...

SORKIN: That's really what this is going to be about.

HARRIS: So, Andrew, besides health care -- I'm hoping they get to some other agenda items.

What else might they talk about?

SORKIN: Well, I think the administration is going to, you know, use their stick and say you want help on the health care side...


SORKIN: We want help on the fuel efficiency issues, which is get these cars and make them more fuel-efficient. So I think you're going to see the Bush administration really pressing them on that issue.

I also think you're going to see the big three say to the Bush administration, listen, we really need some help with the Japanese. You know, the yen, the value of the yen is so depressed that it's making it so easy for the Toyotas of the world to really come in here and kill us on pricing. And those are the issues that I think we're going to hear about today, so.

HARRIS: Andrew Ross Sorkin Minding Your Business this morning.

SORKIN: Thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: Andrew, thank you.


HARRIS: Democrats are set to take over control of Congress, but who will take over the White House in 2008? Some candidates are already off and running. Will former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani be among them?

CNN's Mary Snow takes a closer look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Word that he's filed legal papers to form a presidential exploratory committee came just one day after former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told reporters in Pennsylvania that he wasn't sure when he'll announce whether he'll seek the Republican nomination in 2008.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: It certainly won't be right now or in the near future, but it'll be sometime next year, whether it's early next year or more in the middle, I can't tell you that yet, but I will be thinking about it quite a bit.

SNOW: Political observers say Giuliani lacks both the money and organizational arenas as compared to Senator John McCain and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, but Giuliani biographer Fred Siegel says don't expect Giuliani to follow the political playbook.

FRED SIEGEL, AUTHOR, "THE PRINCE OF THE CITY": Giuliani wasn't a conventional mayor. He's not a conventional candidate. He's using a consulting firm both to make money for himself and to lay the groundwork for a national campaign.

SNOW: That consulting firm is Giuliani Partners, includes security consulting and investment banking business. Observers say it's helped him network.

NATHAN VARDI, "FORBES" MAGAZINE: It just allowed him to get out and be involved around the nation, and I think that will help him, if he does decide to run.

SNOW: But can Giuliani cash in on his popularity? He currently leads a recent CNN poll of potential Republican White House contenders. Some strategists point out that polls and primaries are two very different animals. And Giuliani's moderate stance on social issues will be put to the test.

SCOTT REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: His positions on being pro- abortion, being pro-gay marriage, and being against Second Amendment gun rights are a real stick in the eye to most social conservative voters.


HARRIS: Giuliani will now be able to raise money for a potential presidential bid without committing to a run in 2008. Also this week, we expect Senator John McCain to also take the first steps in a run for the White House in 2008. Stay tuned.

Remember that all of the day's political news the available on the news ticker any time of the day or night. Just click on

COLLINS: An Iraq war veteran and the emotional wounds of war. His family cries for help.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I says, why are you here now? Where have you been? I started thinking, you're too late.


COLLINS: One soldier's personal battle in the NEWSROOM. Keep it here on CNN, the most trusted name in news.


COLLINS: Just in time for flu season, a warning about one of the most popular flu medicines, Tamiflu. The Food and Drug Administration adding a new precaution to the Tamiflu label. It tells patients to watch for signs of strange behavior, things like hallucinations and delirium. The move comes after dozens of cases of strange behavior in Japan. Most of the patients were children. The FDA says it is not clear if the behavior is directly linked to Tamiflu, or if it's just a product of the flu itself.


COLLINS: Coming up, who is in charge? This Bush administration looking a lot like the father's. In the NEWSROOM, we'll talk about that.

And an Iraq war veteran and the emotional wounds of war.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I says, why are you here now? Where have you been? I started thinking, you're too late.


COLLINS: One soldier's personal battle. Anderson Cooper reports in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Haunted by war. Many soldiers still face battles once they are off the battlefield.

HARRIS: The military doing more than ever, it says, to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Here's our Anderson Cooper.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An early morning last May in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a neighborhood wakes to a mass lockdown. A police sniper takes aim, a bomb squad stands by, and a S.W.A.T. team prepares to storm a house.

Inside, an Iraq war vet Matthew Vargas sits alone, threatening to kill himself.

MARY LOU MUNOZ, MOTHER MOF MATTHEW VARGAS: That day he wanted to die. Matthew attempted suicide in my garage that morning. He had a cord wrapped around his neck. When I went in the garage, he was too heavy for the cord and it broke, and he was on the garage floor when I found him.

COOPER: Vargas' family couldn't believe it had come to this. After months of seeking help for him, rescuers had at last arrived, but they'd come with guns drawn.

MUNOZ: And I said, why are you here now? Where have you been? And then I started thinking, well, you are too late.



VARGAS: What's his name? Do you know his name?



COOPER: Five months before the standoff, home on leave with his family, Matthew Vargas went AWOL, refusing to return to Fort Drum in upstate New York, and from there, back to Iraq.

His wife, April, remembers how withdrawn he had become and why.

VARGAS: He just kind of just started to isolate himself. And I would ask him about it. And finally, he said that when he got shot, it just was an eye opener for him like he could never see his daughter again if he went back.

COOPER: It was a firefight after an ambush near Abu Ghraib. Three insurgents were killed. Private Vargas took a bullet to the chest. His Kevlar vest saved his life.

The family believes his brush with death touched off his depression and a diagnosis from the family doctor of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

When Vargas started isolating himself in the house, the family knew he needed help.

MUNOZ: He is only 23 years old, and he said that he was already dead inside. He would just say that he was a killer machine now. That's the way he described himself.

COOPER: Days before he was scheduled to redeploy to Iraq, his mother and wife say they repeatedly called Fort Drum and a local military chaplain, but Matthew's sergeant was blunt.

MUNOZ: Tell Matthew he needs to be on the plane and he better be back in New York. And he wouldn't speak to me. He wouldn't talk about it. He said, we've all been through a lot. And he just hung up on me.

VARGAS: I was surprised they didn't help. They are so quick to getting you signed up, telling you all the benefits. And when he was getting deployed, I had all these support groups. But when I needed help the most, it seemed like nobody was there.

COOPER: In an e-mail, a Fort Drum spokesman told CNN, "Vargas' claim that he was not afforded assistance for his perceived mental and emotional needs is ill founded. His chain of command was not given the opportunity to evaluate his condition and render any necessary assistance due directly to his willful and unlawful absence from his unit." The spokesman went on to say, "Soldiers who ask for help get some of the best care that can be had."

On the day of the armed stand off, Vargas' father, Marty, a CNN engineer, caught the first flight to Albuquerque.

MARTY VARGAS, FATHER OF MATTHEW VARGAS: I didn't even want to get on the airplane because I was afraid that things would happen while I was on the airplane and as soon as I got off the airplane they would tell me that my son was shot dead.

Matthew had told me once that he had nothing left to live for anymore, that his country gave up on him, and he felt maybe his family gave up on him, too. At that time I kind of felt that he was already emotionally dead.

COOPER: By the time Private Vargas' father landed, the nine-hour standoff was over.

ANSWERING MACHINE: You have one old message.

COOPER: There was a message on his voice mail.

MATTHEW VARGAS, SUFFERS FROM PTSD (RECORDING ON ANSWERING MACHINE): It's Matthew. I don't know if my Dad's in town yet or not, but tell him that I love him and I'll try to call back later today.

MARTY VARGAS: I think he had given up at that point. It was his good bye.

I think he needs to see that we're here for him.

COOPER: It was not Matthew Vargas' last good-bye. He surrendered shortly after the house was tear-gassed, walking out unharmed.

The following day, his family tried to visit him in jail.

MARTY VARGAS: I'm so thankful today -- I really am -- that he is alive and that we can help him now.

COOPER: In June, Matthew Vargas was charged with desertion, but ultimately convicted of a lesser charge, going AWOL. His family says he continues to struggle with depression. The terms of his discharge make him ineligible for unemployment benefits. Vargas might be able to get medical benefits, including counseling, if he applies to the Veterans Administration, but he's told his family he's not ready to take that step.

MARTY VARGAS: Well, we'll go in and see what happens.

I know that the rough road is not over for my son. I hope that the military will step up and acknowledge that Matthew does have a problem. And it's not one of fear. It's one of the psyche.

No, I think they...

COOPER: A Vietnam Veteran himself, Marty Vargas speaks from experience.

MARTY VARGAS: In war, you hear people screaming, crying. You hear a lot of sounds that you are not really used to. And these sounds and visuals come back to haunt you for the rest of your life.

COOPER: Anderson Cooper, CNN, New York.


HARRIS: And still to come, Robert Gates, he's up for consideration, but is he up to the job of defense secretary? Washington insiders weigh in. You'll see it in the NEWSROOM.

Also, this bush administration looking a lot like the father's. Some telltale signs in the NEWSROOM.



HARRIS: Well, you know the expression, everything old is new again. Is that what's going on in the Bush Administration? There are plenty of familiar faces and that has some asking, which Bush Administration is this? More now from our chief national correspondent John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does a father/son relationship destined for the history books and at the center of a present day political mystery?

RON KAUFMAN, FORMER BUSH 41 POLITICAL DIRECTOR: They talk a lot. A lot of good conversations. But anyone who claims that they know what they talk about is misleading you.

KING: It's an issue because the world's of the 43rd president and his father, the 41st, seem suddenly to be in closer orbit.

James Baker heads the Iraq Study Group. Robert Gates is in line to be defense secretary. Fresh eyes for this Bush administration's troubled Iraq policy who just happen to be old hands from an earlier chapter in Bush presidential history. Which, of course, begs the fingerprints question.

MARY MATALIN, ADVISER TO BUSH 41 AND 43: This is one of those questions that has been asked about a million times and has been answered how many times? Zero. Nobody knows.

And if anybody in Washington or Austin or anywhere across the interplanetary system tells you that they know the frequency or the substance of the conversation between the father and the son, they are making it up. Nobody knows.

KING: Father to the rescue is just one way of looking that this rather delicate moment. Son to the woodshed, a far less flattering take.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, this is not -- this is not bringing in people willy-nilly from his president's administration, quote, "to save him." Wrong.

KING: It is not that this president has shunned veterans of his father's administration. Vice President Cheney, secretaries of state Powell and Rice, national security adviser Hadley, chiefs of staff Card and now Bolton, trade rep Portman, all current administration big wigs who also served back in 41's day.

But there is one place where the 41 crowd says it was largely shut out, Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon. The former President Bush and Rumsfeld are rivals back to their Ford administration days, and some viewed this relationship as a declaration of independence.

KAUFMAN: One is a product of Greenwich, Connecticut, and a little bit of west Texas. The other one is a product of a lot of a lot of west Texas. So they're two different men.

KING: Secretary Baker is described as no Rumsfeld fan. In fact, sources tell CNN he sought and received a White House promise early on that Rumsfeld would be told to cooperate with the Iraq Study Group's review. Gates also is described by friends as sour on Rumsfeld, and sources tell CNN he did call the former President Bush to discuss the pros and cons of taking over the Pentagon at such a difficult time.

But did the former president suggest the Gates for Rumsfeld swap in the first place?

MATALIN: There's lots of evidence to the contrary, that the father does not insert himself into the son's presidency.

KING: Of course, he would know.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I talked to my dad. He called me Sunday morning.

KING: Sorry, that was three years ago, just after Saddam Hussein was captured.


KING: This was just last month on CNN's "LARRY KING".

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: So I'm on the sidelines, his turn. He's the one that has to do this.

KING: With a little help, it seems, from his friends.

John King, CNN, Washington.


COLLINS: Robert Gates, he's up for consideration, but is he up to the job of defense secretary? Washington insiders weigh in, and you will see it right here in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Nuclear power, international concerns. Why does Iran's president say it's almost time to celebrate? The answer, still to come, in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Good morning, everybody, I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Spend a second hour in the NEWSROOM this morning and stay informed. Here's what's on the rundown: The Iranian president forecasting nuclear success in a matter of days and he says he's got a message for Americans.

COLLINS: The new Congress, freshmen lawmakers stepping up to the Capitol and the camera today. Learning the ropes before turning the keys of power.

HARRIS: Designing parents. They're using genetic tests to spot unhealthy embryos. Ethics, illness in babies, on this Tuesday, the 14th of November. In the NEWSROOM. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT