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Secretary of State Rice Gives Congressional Testimony Defending President Bush's Plan for Iraq

Aired January 11, 2007 - 10:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He jumped on the grenade, using his helmet and body to absorb the blast. Although he survived the initial explosion, he did not survive his wounds. But by his selflessness, Corporal Dunham saved the lives of two of his men and showed the world what it means to be a Marine.
Deb Dunham calls the Marine Corps her son's second family, and she means that literally. Deb describes her son's relationship to his men this way. "Jay was part guardian angel, part big brother and all Marine." She remembers her son calling from the barracks and then passing the phone to one of his Marines saying, I've got a guy here who just needs to talk to a mom. Now it's the Marines who comfort her.

On special days, like Christmas or Mother's Day or her birthday, Deb has learned the day will not pass without one of Jason's fellow Marines calling to check on her. With this medal, we pay tribute and courage and leadership of a man who represents the best of young Americans. With this medal, we ask the God who commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves to wrap his arms around the family of Corporal Jason Dunham, a Marine who is not here today because he lived that commandment to the fullest. I now invite the Dunhams to join me on the stage and, Colonel, please read the citation.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And President Bush now meeting with the family of Jason Dunham.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States, in the name of the Congress, takes pride in presenting the medal of honor, posthumously, to Corporal Jason L. Dunham, United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as rightful squad leader, Fourth Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines Reinforced, Regimental Combat Team Seven, First Marine Division Reinforces.

On 14, April, 2004, Corporal Dunham's squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karbala, Iraq, when they heard a rocket propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his combined anti-armor team towards the engagement to provide fire support to the battalion commander's convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Kusaba (ph). As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire.

Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several block south of the ambushed convoy, discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart. Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leapt out and attacked Corporal Dunham.

Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground, and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. His undaunting courage, intrepid fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great (INAUDIBLE) self and (INAUDIBLE) Corp and the United States Naval Service.

COLLINS: The very emotional family of Jason Dunham, Marine Corporal Jason Dunham. He is only the second medal of honor winner from this war. President Bush standing beside them. A very proud moment and, of course, a very emotional one too. I think you saw the president reach down and take Mrs. Dunham's hand during the course of the description of what happened in Iraq.

Now we want to head over to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is the chairman, Senator Joe Biden, opening remarks today and more reaction from the president's speech last night. Let's listen for a moment.

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) CHMN., FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Escalations twice before in Baghdad and it's failed twice in Baghdad. And I fear it will fail a third time. And the result will be the loss of more American lives and our military stretched to the breaking point with little prospect of success and a further loss of influence in the region.

Secretary Rice, this November, the American people voted for a dramatic change in Iraq. The president said forthrightly he heard them. But it seems clear to me, from listening to him last night, he did not listen. And for the life of me, I don't understand how he could reject the overwhelming opposition to his plan from a broad bipartisan cross section of country's leaders, military, civilian and civic.

As I understand it, the Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed this plan. Our commander in the region, General Abizaid, opposed the plan. Our commanders in Iraq, starting with General Casey, opposed this plan. The Baker-Hamilton Commission opposed this plan. And so did our greatest soldier statesman, Colin Powell. They all gave advice to the president that could be boiled down to two things.

First, our military cannot stop the Shia, the Kurds and the Sunnis from killing each other. The Iraqi people have to make very, very, very difficult, political compromises in order for the killing to stop. And all of the people who gave advice to the president that I mentioned suggested that the best way to force the leaders and the people to make these hard compromises was to start this year to draw down our forces, not escalate them.

The second consensus point from the advice the president got was that the way to secure this political solution, to secure Iraq, was to secure support for whatever political solution the Iraqis arrived at from Turkey. Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and all the neighbors. And there's a second reason for seeking that kind of support and consultation. It was that if, in fact, the civil war cannot be stopped, at least with the regional consensus, the hope would be it could be contained within Iraq.

So, Secretary Rice, to be very blunt, I can't, in good conscience, support the president's approach. But because there's so much at stake, I'm also not prepared to not give on finding a bipartisan way forward. It meets the twin goals most Americans share, and believe -- I don't speak for anyone on this committee, but I believe most of my colleagues in the Senate share, and that is, how do we bring American forces home in an orderly way over the next year and leave behind a stable Iraq?

In all my years in the Senate, Secretary Rice, I don't think we've faced a more pivotal moment than the one we face today. Failure in Iraq will not be confined to Iraq. It will do terrible damage to our ability to protect our interests all over the world. And I fear, for a long time to come. That's why we have to work together for a solution.

I'm aware the surge is not 22,000 people or 20,000 people getting in a boat, landing at one moment. The reason why I think there's still time for us to work out a bipartisan solution is that this is a process. We need a solution that will gain the support of our fellow citizens.

I say to my colleagues, maybe because I got here in the midst of the Vietnam War, toward the end, I think we all learned a lesson, whether we went or didn't go, whether we were for it or against it. There's no foreign policy can be sustained in this country without the informed consent of the American people. They've got to sign on. They've got to sign on. I just hope it's not to late.

Mr. Chairman.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, (R) COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I join you in welcoming Secretary Rice to the Foreign Relations Committee once again. I appreciate her willingness to discuss policy on Iraq with the committee in advance of her very important trip to the Middle East, which I understand commences tomorrow.

All of us listened intently to President Bush's speech last night. And yesterday I said that initially the president and his team should explain what objectives we're trying to achieve if forces are expanded. Where and how will they be used? Why is it the strategy will succeed? How Iraqi forces will be involved? How long additional troops may be needed? What contingencies are in place if the situation does not improve? And how this strategy fits into our discussion throughout the region. The president made an important start on this process with the speech. The elements of his plan require careful study by members of Congress. I appreciate the efforts the president has made thus far to reach out to Congress and the American people for that discussion.

I was encouraged by the president's emphasis on a regional element in his Iraq strategy. Whenever we began to see Iraq as a said peace, and I say a problem that can be solved outside the context of our broader interests, we should reexamine our frame of reference. Our efforts to stabilize Iraq and sustain a pluralist government there have an important humanitarian purpose. But remaking Iraq in and of itself does not constitute a strategic objective.

Stability in Iraq is important because it has a direct baring on vital, U.S. strategic objectives. To determine our future course in Iraq, we must be very clear about what those objectives are. In my judgment, there are four primary ones.

First, we have an interest in preventing Iraq, or any piece of its territory, from being used as a safe haven or training ground for terrorists. As part of this, we have an interest in preventing any potential terrorists in Iraq from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Secondly, we have an interest in preventing a civil war or conditions of permanent disorder in Iraq that upset wider regional stability. The consequences of turmoil that draws in outside powers or spills over into neighboring states could be grave. Such turmoil could generate a regional war, topple friendly governments, expand destabilizing refugee flows, close the Persian Gulf to shipping traffic or destroy key oil production and transportation facilities. Any of these outcomes could be strict or diminish the flow of oil from the region with disastrous results for the world economy.

Third, we have an interest in preventing the loss of the U.S. credibility and standing in the region and throughout the world. Some loss of confidence in the United States has already occurred, but our subsequent actions in Iraq may determine how we are viewed for generations.

Fourth, we have an interest in preventing Iranian domination of the region. The fall of Saddam Hussein's Sunni government opened up opportunities for Iran to seek much more influence in Iraq. And Iran, who is bolstered by alliance with the Shiite government in Iraq or a separate Shiite state in southern Iraq, would pose serious challenges for Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and other Arab governments. Iran is pressing a broad agenda in the Middle East with certain consequences for weapons proliferation, terrorism, security of Israel and other U.S. interests. Any course we adopt in Iraq should consider how it will impact the regional influence of Iran.

These are not our only interests in Iraq, but there are fundamental reasons for our military presence during the last several years. I would observe that all four of these objectives are deeply affected, not just by whether the insurgency and sectarian violence can be abated in Iraq cities and neighborhoods, but by the action of Iraq's neighbors. For this reason, I've advocated broader diplomacy in the region that is directed at both improving stability in Iraq and expanding our options in the region.

Inevitably, when one suggests such a diplomatic course, this is interpreted as advocating negotiations with Syria and Iran, nations that have overtly and covertly worked against our interests and violated international norms. The purpose of the talks is not to change our posture toward these countries. A necessary regional dialogue should not be sacrificed because of fear of what might happen if we include unfriendly regions.

Moreover, we already have numerous contacts with Iranians and Syrians for intermediaries and other means. The regional dialogue that I'm suggesting does not have to occur in a formal confidence setting, but it needs to occur and it needs to be sustain. Both our friends and our enemies in the region must know that we will defend our interest and our lives. They must know that we are willing to exercise the substantial leverage we possess in the region in the form of military presence, financial assistance, diplomatic contacts and other resources.

Although it's unlikely that a political settlement in Iraq can be imposed from the outside, it's equally unlikely that one will succeed in the absence of external pressures and incentive. We should be active in bringing those forces to bear on Iraqi factions. We should work to prevent miscalculations related to the turmoil in Iraq.

Now, finally, much attention has been focused on the president's call for increasing troop levels in Iraq. This is an important consideration, but it's not the only element of his plan that requires examination. The larger issue is how we will manage our strategic interests in the Middle East in light of our situation in Iraq. Can we use the stability that we offer the region and our role as a counterweight to Iran to gain more help in Iraq and in the region? I look forward to continuing our examination of Iraq in the committee's hearings and especially your testimony this morning.

Thank you.

BIDEN: Thank you.

Madam secretary, the floor is yours.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Lugar. And thank you members of the committee. I look forward to our discussion and in order to facilitate that, Mr. Chairman, I have a longer statement that I would like to have entered into the record and I would . . .

BIDEN: Without objection, your entire statement will be placed in the record.

RICE: Thank you.

As I come before you today, America is facing a crucial moment. Indeed, as the chairman has put it, a pivotal moment concerning our policies in Iraq and concerning our broader policies in the Middle East. I think that we all know that the stakes in Iraq are enormous and that the consequences of failure would also be enormous, not just for America and for Iraq, but for the entire region of the Middle East and indeed for the world.

And so we agree that the stakes in Iraq are enormous. And as the president said last night, Americans broadly agree, and we in the administration count ourselves among them, that the situation in Iraq is unacceptable. On these two points, we are unified., the enormousness of the stakes and the unacceptability of the current situation.

The president has, therefore, forged a new strategy that speaks both to our stakes in Iraq and the need to change the way that we are doing things. The Iraqis have devised a strategy that they believe will work for their most urgent problem, that is to return security to Baghdad.

We are going to support that strategy through the augmentation of American military forces. I think Secretary Gates will say more about that in his committee. But I want also to emphasize that we see this not just as a military effort, but also as one that must have very strong political and economic elements.

In order to better deliver on the governance and economic side, the United States is further decentralizing and diversifying our civilian presence. And I will talk a little bit more about that and in greater detail.

We are further integrating our civil and military operations. And, as Senator Lugar has noted, it is extremely important to see Iraq in a regional context. And I would like to talk a little bit about the regional strategy that we want to pursue that supports performers and responsible leaders in Iraq and across the broader Middle East.

Let me be very clear. We all understand that the responsibility for what kind of Iraq this will be rests with Iraqis. They are the only one whose can decide whether or not Iraq is, in fact, going to be an Iraq for all Iraqis -- one that is unified -- or whether they are going to allow sectarian passions to unravel that chance for a unified Iraq. We know, historically, that Iraq rests on the region's religious and ethnic fault lines. And, in many ways, the recent events in Baghdad over the last almost a year, the Baghdad has become the center of that struggle.

The Samarra mosque bombing provoked sectarianism and it set it aflame at a pace that threatens to overwhelm the fragile and yet promising process of reconciliation. A process that has produced successful elections and a new constitution and substantial agreement, as we sit here today, on a law to share Iraq's oil wealth fairly, as well as a commitment to a more reasonable approach to deBaathification and to hold provincial elections. Iraqis must take on the essential challenge, therefore, that threatens this process of national reconciliation. And that is the protection of their population from criminals and violent extremists who kill in the name of sectarian grievance.

The president, last night, made clear that the augmentation of our forces is to support the Iraqis in that goal of returning control and civility to their capital. He also noted that there are also very important, strategic, important economic and political elements that must be followed up if clear, hold and build is to actually work this way. And so I want to assure you that we in the State Department recognize the importance of surging our civilian elements and our civilian efforts, as well as the surge that would be there on the military side. This is a comprehensive policy.

Iraq has a federal government. We need to get civilians out of our embassy, out of the green zone, into the field across Iraq. We have had, over the last year and a half, the establishment of provincial reconstruction teams that are operating outside of Baghdad.

And the importance of those teams should be understood in the following way. It is extremely important to have an effective and functioning government in Baghdad. And we have worked with them on ministries, on budget processes, on the technical assistance that they need to have a functioning government. But it is equally important to have local and provincial governments that can deliver for their people. And, indeed, this gives us multiple points for success, not just the government in Baghdad, but the people with whom we're working in the provinces.

I might just note that we believe that this is having an effect in places like Mosul, an effect in places like Tel Afar. But it's having a very good effect even in some of the most difficult places. And one of the other elements of the president's policy last night was to announce that 4,000 American forces would be augmented in Anbar, the epicenter of al Qaeda activity.

That is in part because we believe that the efforts that we've been making with local leaders, particularly the sheikhs in Anbar, are beginning to pay fruit. For instance, they have recruited, from their own ranks, 1,100 young men to send to Jordan for training and these sons of Anbar, as they call them, will come back to enter the fight against al Qaeda. And so I want to emphasize, we're very focused on the need to return control to Baghdad. But we're also very focused on the need to build capacity in the local and provincial governments and to be able to deliver economic and reconstruction assistance there.

Finally, let me just say one point about our regional, diplomatic strategy. One word about a regional, diplomatic strategy. Obviously, Iraq is central now to America's role in the Middle East. Central to our credibility, central to the prospects for stability, central to the role that our allies and friends and Iraq's neighbors will play in the Middle East. But we have to base our regional strategy on the substantially changed realities of the Middle East.

This is a different Middle East. This Middle East is a Middle East in which there really is a new alignment of forces. On one side are reformers and responsible leaders who seek to advance their interests peacefully, politically and diplomatically. On the other side, are extremists of every sect and ethnicity, who use violence to spread chaos, to undermine democratic governments and to impose agendas of hatred and intolerance.

On one side of that divide, the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and the other countries of the Gulf, Egypt, Jordan, the young democracies of Lebanon, of the Palestinian territory led by Mahmoud Abbas and in Iraq. But on the other side of that divide are Iran, Syria and Hezbollah and Hamas. And I think we have to understand that that is a fundamental divide. Iran and Syria have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize, not to stabilize.

And so with all respect to those who talk about engagement with Syria and Iran, I think we need to recognize that if Iran and Syria wish to play a stabilizing role, for their own interests, then they will do so. If, on the other hand, they intend to offer a stabilizing role, because they believe that in our current situation in Iraq we are willing to pay a price, that's not diplomacy, that's extortion. And I would just ask you what that price might be.

I have a hard time believing that Iran will, on the one side, talk to us about stabilizing Iraq, and say, oh, by the way, we won't talk about what you're doing in the Security Council to stop our nuclear program. That's not part of the price. Or that Syria will talk about stabilizing Iraq, while they continue to destabilize it, and say, oh, we aren't actually interested in talking about the fact that we are irreconciled. We have not reconciled to the loss of our position in Lebanon or to the existence of a tribunal to try those who are responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri. These two will most certainly come into contact with each other. The destabilizing activities in Iraq and the desires of these state to have us pay a price that we cannot pay.

We do have a regional approach. It is to work with those governments that share our view of where the Middle East should be going. It is also to work with those governments in a way that can bring support to the new Iraqi democracy. It is to support the very normal democracy that Iraq itself may engage in with all of its neighbors, and it is to have an international compact, which is a bargain, between the international community and Iraq for support in response to Iraqi reforms, economic and indeed some that are political. In that Iraqi compact, both Syria and Iran have been present and will continue to be.

Let me just conclude by saying that we all understand in the administration that there are no magic formulas for Iraq, as the Baker-Hamilton Commission said. I want you to understand that I personally, too, understand and know the skepticism that is felt about Iraq and, indeed, the pessimism that some feel. I want you to know that I understand and indeed feel the heartbreak that Americans feel at the continued sacrifice of American lives, men and women who can never be replaced for their families, and for the concern of our men and women who are still in harm's way, those in uniform and those civilians who are also on the front line. Civilian diplomats and civilian personnel who are also operating in places like Anbar and Mosul.

That said, I know, too, how carefully President Bush, and the entire national security team, considered the options before us, and I'd like you to understand that we really did consider the options before us. The president called on advisers from outside. He called on the advice of the Baker-Hamilton Study Group. And, of course, he discussed the policies with his advisers, like me, who have been there from the beginning and, therefore, bear responsibility for both the successes and failures of this policy. And new advisers, like Secretary of Defense Gates, who came with a fresh eye.

After all of that, he came to the conclusion, and I fully agree, that the most urgent task before us now is to help the Iraqi government -- and I want to emphasize help the Iraqi government -- establish confidence among the Iraqi population that it will and can protect all of its citizens, whether they are Sunni, Shia, Kurds and others, and that they will, in an evenhanded fashion, punish those violent people who are killing innocent Iraqis, whatever their sect, ethnicity, or political affiliation.

We believe that the Iraqi government, which has not always performed, has every reason to understand the consequences now of non- performance. They, after all, came us to and said this problem had to be solved. They came to us and said that, yes, they would make the necessary decisions to prevent political interference in the military operations that need to be taken to deal with the Baghdad problem. They came to us and said that this government will not be able to survive if it cannot re-establish civil order, and they gave to the president, and not just Prime Minister Maliki, but many leaders, an assurance, this time they're going to make the difficult choices in order to get it done.

The situation in Iraq is unacceptable. But Iraq is also, at this point in time, a very high stakes to this nation. This is a time for a national desire and a national imperative not to fail in Iraq. We faced crucible tests as a country before, and we've coming through them, when we have coming through them together.

I want to pledge to you, as the president did last night, that we want to work with al Americans, here particularly in the Congress, the representatives of the American people, as we move forward on a strategy that will allow us to succeed in Iraq. This is the strategy that the president believes is the best strategy that we can pursue.

And I ask your careful consideration of it, your ideas for how to improve it, and of course, understanding that not everyone will agree. I do believe that we're united in our desire to see America succeed.

Thank you very much.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Madam secretary, thank you very much.

And I assure you, no one on this committee has any doubt about your intense concern and the intensity with which you have deliberated on this and your frank acknowledgement of the mistakes that have been made, and I don't have any doubt about us wondering whether or not you care a great deal about this.

I've been told by the staff that the secretary, she has a big day today, she has to be here in terms of time, here as well as in the House. And she is understandably, will have to leave here by 1:00, at the latest. According to staff calculation, I'm going to hold everybody to this, including myself, that if we give everyone seven minutes, everyone will have an opportunity to ask her, not all the questions you have, but the most important questions you think need be asked. We will be holding...

HARRIS: You have the testimony going on now before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pardon me. But we want to break away from that a moment and want to bring you some comments from Senator John McCain just a short time ago, more reaction from the senator to the president's speech last night and the plan for Iraq.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We cannot guarantee victory or success with this new strategy. I do guarantee the consequences of failure. And if we do fail, there's going to be chaos in the region and I believe that we will pay an even heavier price in American blood and treasure.

Finally, let me say, I read in the media that there may be a vote in the House of Representatives, and perhaps even in the Senate, to cut off funding for this conflict. I believe that under the constitution, the Congress has the right to cut off funding. They did that during the Vietnam War. I also believe that if those vote -- if that vote is successful, then those who were the proponents of it, then assume the responsibility for the consequences of failure.

I'd like...


HARRIS: OK. And there you have it, John McCain offering more reaction to the president's speech and his plan.

And if we could, Michael, let's see a shot of the hearing room again, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as we continue to follow the hearing that's going on there. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifying and answering questions now, Defense Secretary Gates there as well, and later this afternoon, Secretary Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs, as well as Secretary Rice, will testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, and we will keep and eye on all of that throughout the afternoon here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And a view from the battlefield. U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq respond to the president's new plan. What they have to say ahead in the NEWSROOM.

Plus, Iraq strategy shifts: we'll get a general view of the president's strategy coming up next.



COLLINS: Meanwhile now, I want to get to the NEWSROOM now, where Fredricka Whitfield is standing by. Some interesting news coming out of Jacksonville, Florida, Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting to say the least, Heidi.

Well, this is a scene you don't see everyday. Two Navy helicopters, one that you're seeing right now, landing in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. The two had to make an emergency landing. They were doing a flyover, in formation over St. John's River, when they had to make these emergency landings. One chopper landing on the south bank, the other on the north. No injuries, no fires. So why did they have to land? What was the emergency? Well, apparently, the blades touched. And as a precaution, the pilots decided to go ahead and land those choppers? But fortunately, they made a safe landing. No injuries, and right now they're still assessing any potential damage to the aircraft -- Heidi.

COLLINS: When you fly information, you're pretty, pretty close. A difficult thing to do. All right, good news there.

Fredricka Whitfield, thank you.

HARRIS: The commander in chief lays out his plan, President Bush calls for sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. Their mission, secure and hold neighborhoods in Baghdad and track down terrorists in a troubled province.

Joining us from Washington with perspective on the plan, CNN military, retired Air Force Major General Don Shepperd.

Don, great to see you this morning. Thanks for your time.


HARRIS: Don, if you would, describe this mission for all of us, and how significant a departure is this, from the old mission?

SHEPPERD: Well, it's not a significant departure from the old mission, but it does add 21,000 troops that can't bring security to Iraq, can't bring security to Baghdad, can't even bring security to Sadr City, but should help in many ways.

Let me go to the map and show you a couple of things. Here's the scenario, if you will, with inside Iraq. In the north, you have the Kurdish area. In the west, you have the Sunni area. In the south, you have the Shia area. You have oil in the north. You have oil in the south. You have sand in the west.

For Iraq to succeed, the Sunnis must stop the insurgency, join the government and there must be a sharing of these oil revenues. Now, the real problem of course that we're dealing with right now is in Baghdad, Tony. Let's zoom on in on Baghdad and show you several things there. Basically, you have Shia and Sunni neighborhoods very, very close to each other there. All of these Adhamiyah, Kadimiyah, Mansour are Sunni neighborhoods, over here, you have a Shia neighborhood in Sadr City.

Sadr City, the home of the mighty militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, 20,000. Lots of death squads, lots of sectarian violence coming out of here. They're fighting each other. This is the situation that our troops are walking into. Now, they're not going to walk in and solve this themselves.

The idea is to train the Iraqis and accompany the Iraqis to go into these areas, to go after the bad people and stop the sectarian violence. This is a high risk strategy. It depends on the political will of the new Iraqi government. That's something of which we're not in control of.

We're in control of our troops in the military situation, but the political situation -- a lot of it depend on the Iraqis, so it's a high risk strategy, a lot to be seen, Tony.

HARRIS: And Don, is it your understanding now that U.S. forces will actually march into Sadr City?

SHEPPERD: Some of them will accompany the Iraqis. The idea is to embed with the Iraqis, to train the Iraqis, let the Iraqis take the lead and let us accompany them.

The idea that we get from the president's speech, is there are now no restrictions on neighborhoods to go into. So, I see American troops accompanying Iraqi forces with Iraqis in the lead going to Sadr City and the other neighborhoods to search for insurgents, to search for and arms and to eventually try to disarm these militias.

HARRIS: So, let's take a look at what that might look like. Don, take a look at these pictures, exclusive CNN pictures from a couple days ago of a ten-hour gun battle on Haifa Street in Baghdad. And the question ultimately is, is this what it is going to look like?

SHEPPERD: Indeed, it's what it's going to look like. here's going to be a lot of this initially and hopefully will taper off -- that's the idea. Now, let me give you a little more perspective on what you're watching here.

This is in a Sunni neighborhood on Haifa Street, which is on the west bank of the Tigress. Right across the river, a mile and a half away, you have Sadr City and so what we are doing with American forces is attacking a Sunni neighborhood.

The Sunnis are the key to peace. You have to get them to join the government. You can't be seen as one side or the other. So you are attacking the Sunnis, you're not attacking the Shia, you have got to bring a balance to both sides Tony, difficult.

HARRIS: Once all of the troops are in place, how long before we get a sense that progress is being made?

SHEPPERD: I think it is going to take the major part of six months to see things happening. Now, the things that you need to watch for do the sheikhs in the western provinces, the Sunni provinces over there, are the sheikhs basically rejecting the al Qaeda that are embedded with them over there and coming to the side of the government. And also, is the level of violence in Baghdad itself, starting to decrease. Are you finding less bodies and also are the militias beginning to disarm. Those are all majors. It's going to take the better part of six months to see that really start to happen Tony, if it happens.

HARRIS: What's the mission of the 4,000 Marines in al Anbar province?

SHEPPERD: The whole idea is -- by the way, we don't get much attention on this, but things are going fairly well in Anbar, in the area of Fallujah. Fallujah has been fairly well pacified, people are moving back in.

Ramadi is the next big city out there, lots going on there. And the idea is to put the Marines out there, keep pressure on the insurgents in Anbar, try to win over the sheikhs and the tribes to throw out the insurgents and bring peace slowly and progress and reconstruction to that area.

HARRIS: Don, a number of recommendations from Defense Secretary Gates this morning, including the first steps to building the overall size of the military. Take a listen to this bit of the conversation this morning and let me get your reaction.


ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The president announced last night he would strengthen our military for the long war against terrorism by authorizing an increase in the overall strength of the Army and Marine Corps. I am recommending to him a total increase in the two services of 92,000 soldiers and Marines over the next five years.


HARRIS: General Shepperd?

SHEPPERD: Yes, basically, when the Berlin Wall came down, when the Soviet Union went away, we appropriately took the peace dividend, we down sized our military by about 40 percent.

Now we're engaged in a worldwide war on terrorism we are told and we also have to keep our eye on emerging peer threats, 15 or 20 years down the line.

The military needs to be larger, and by the way, not only larger in personnel but the equipment has to replaced, our airplanes, our ships, our tanks, our humvees and trucks, they are all worn out. This is going to be very expensive and you are going to see a rising defense budget and at the same time you have great demands for social services, Social Security, Medicare, the things that we're hearing about and near and dear to our hearts Tony.

HARRIS: Very expensive. CNN military analyst retired Air Force General Don Shepperd. Don, great to see you, thanks.

COLLINS: The power of words. We know what the president said. How well did he say it? A former presidential speechwriter weighs in ahead in the NEWSROOM.

Promises, promises, the president's plan depends on Iraqi action. Can the struggling government make it work? We'll talk with Iraq's top diplomat in the U.S. ahead in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: The president's speech and the art of salesmanship. Our next guest has special expertise on that subject.

Daniel McGroarty is a former speechwriter for the first President Bush, and he joins us from Washington. Dan, great to see you again.


HARRIS: You know, last week we talked about the expectations being so high for this speech. Did the president last night, scale those heights?

MCGROARTY: I think he scaled them back Tony. Rather than trying to meet those expectations, I think we saw an exercise in trying to manage them. One of the indicators being a truly large chunk of this speech being pre-released or pre-leaked in excerpts prior to the speech so that the networks were able to analyze and anticipate things and kind of lower expectations.

HARRIS: Why do you think the administration chose that path, to pre-release so much of the comments?

MCGROARTY: I wouldn't say it's never been that large a section has been released before, but it was much larger than anything that I've seen. It was about a fifth of the speech. Why that was done, I think, now looking with hindsight at the speech itself, there was not a great deal that was new in this speech, in many respects and so you damp expectations down.

Particularly, everyone was looking at that surge number. And by putting that out in front, it did have this effect, from a very weak hand, it did allow the president in this speech to concentrate on how those new troops would be used and the political constraints in Iraq that would be lifted in the use of those new troops and also on what does this approach of clear, hold, and build, what would build mean? So, it cleared the way for the president to focus on those things by pre-releasing the number.

HARRIS: Mechanical or inspirational? MCGROARTY: Mechanical in the extreme. I was looking up that left brain, right brain controversy, left brain being the logical side. This speech was a left brain exercise.

You had this morning in the White House, this very emotional, very emotive ceremony for the awarding to Corporal Dunham of the Posthumous Award of the Medal of Honor.

You see the other side of this particular issue. And it's as if those two things were separated in the last 24 hours. And I think in some respects, that did not serve the president well.

HARRIS: Did it feel to you that a portion of the speech was cobbled together from other speeches?

MCGROARTY: Portions were cobbled together and recycled and the language in some respects was solid language, but we had heard it before. As I was listening, I was immediately going to google a couple of things. I did find a couple phrases that were employed before by the president and by others in the administration prior to the president.

HARRIS: The mistakes made, that bit of the speech, let's listen to it, and then let me get your response.

MCGROARTY: Very good.


BUSH: The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people. And it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.


HARRIS: Dan, what did you think?

MCGROARTY: That famous pass of construction that we have in Washington -- mistakes were made, which, that phrase itself was popularized or used and employed by President Reagan in the wake of Iran Contra in his State of the Union in 1987, where he said serious mistakes were made, we just remember mistakes were made.

The president, President Bush, gets credit for not shading it. He took this on. The speech last night was very unadorned, very stark and he did say that. He used the word mistakes twice in the speech and he used the word victory twice in the speech. So, he didn't try shade this.

Whether it staunches a wound or whether it really opens things up for recriminations and second-guessing, is an open story. I think the president is in for a lot of the latter.

HARRIS: Let's (INAUDIBLE) a few more pictures of the president last night. And Daniel, let me ask this question -- was the library, what did you think of that choice as a backdrop for this speech?

MCGROARTY: Tony, you and I talked the other day about venues for speeches. These are always very important. I am even more now persuaded the president would have been better served to do do this speech last night at a press conference prior to Christmas several number of weeks ago or to wait for the State of the Union in 13 days, 12 days now, and use that particular venue.

I think the casting about was evident when we first heard the president was going to speak in the map room, which used by Franklin Roosevelt as a situation room in World War II.

I don't understand the choice of the library, I do know why they wanted to move it out of the austere setting of the Oval Office. But, to me, it just kind of underlines that this speech was betwixt and between, neither a crisis speech, nor a large scale State of the Union in terms of the choice of venue.

HARRIS: And yet, having said all that, how did he do?

MCGROARTY: I think it was straight down the middle. I think if the president has to stand or fall by this single speech, it is a difficulty for him. He is already going to go out today and talk at Fort Benning. So he's going to go on a road show, if you will. He has the State of the Union coming up next.

I do disagree with much of the talk prior to the speech last night, that it was the most important speech of the presidency, because I think there are other opportunities for the president.

So if he treats this as the beginning of the conversation, he has some chance. But it was really, stepping into this conversation from a position of weakness.

HARRIS: Dan McGroarty is a former speechwriter for the first President Bush. Dan great to see you, thanks.

MCGROARTY: Thank you, Tony.

COLLINS: We want to quickly get you back to Fredricka Whitfield now in the NEWSROOM with a workplace shooting, Fred, in Indianapolis -- what happened?

WHITFIELD: That's right, where a man allegedly opened fire in the workplace there. Four people were shot and injured. None of them are considered to have life-threatening injury.

24-year-old Jason Burnam was arrested without a fight there. He was arrested in the cafeteria of this building. The reason, police said Burnam said it was over respect.

This company does light manufacturing, such as making ID tags for military vehicles, and apparently has employees, 85 percent of which, in the production facility have mental or physical disabilities. It is unclear whether Burnam had a disability and is considered one of the 85 percent of the special workers there -- Heidi. COLLINS: All right Fred. We know you'll be watching that one to bring more information if we get it. Thank you. Fredricka Whitfield in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: And promises,, the president's plan depends on Iraqi action as well. Can a struggling government make it work? We'll talk with Iraq's top diplomat in the U.S. ahead in the NEWSROOM.