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CNN Live Event/Special
Pentagon Holds Briefing on Iraq
Aired November 15, 2005 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, HOST: From the CNN's world headquarters here in Atlanta, I'm Kyra Phillips. Here's the stories that we're working on for you right now.
An alert for tornadoes. A potentially dangerous situation developing in the Midwest. We're tracking the weather system.
Plans for a pullout. The Senate pushes the White House, a live briefing from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in just about 15 minutes.
And powerkraut. Sweet news for sauerkraut and guarding you against the flu.
All that and more. CNN's LIVE FROM starts right now.
Winter is on the doorstep, but the weather in parts of Ohio and the Tennessee valley is a lot like spring: volatile, turbulent, potentially violent. This is Little Rock, Arkansas, smack dab in the middle of what the National Weather Service calls PDS, a particularly dangerous situation. Forecasters see a high risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in eight states from central Arkansas to western Ohio.
CNN meteorologists Dave Hennen and Chad Myers are watching it from our weather center.
Dave, show us where things stand right now.
DAVE HENNEN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Kyra, we are watching several things. We have several tornado watch boxes in effect at the present time behind me here. And what makes this interesting today is these are actually called PDS watches, and what that means is particularly dangerous situations.
These particular watch boxes, this one here that does include St. Louis into Indianapolis, back down into Memphis and into Little Rock, these are PDS watches or particularly dangerous watches, and what that means is we expect quite a bit of severe weather this afternoon. It's usually within these PDS watches that you see some of the larger tornadoes, and we'll be keeping a close eye on that.
Let me switch to one other graphic here. This is the high-risk area. The storm prediction center in Norman, Oklahoma, every day puts out a forecast for thunderstorms and tornadoes. During the springtime you usually have a slight risk of severe weather somewhere in the country. Moderate risk is another criteria. We don't see that as often. But today we actually have a high risk. We only see that one or two times a season in general.
And behind me that area, all the way from Fort Wayne, Indiana, including cities like Indianapolis, back through Louisville, Nashville, Memphis. And see this line of storms that's beginning to form. And we're not into this yet. The storms will continue to fire all day long and throughout the evening.
Chad Myers with me now with the latest on what's going on right now, and he'll be here throughout the evening, as well -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Dave, let's talk about the high risk thing. Let's talk about the coverage on how many storms are going to be out there. Really, that's what this whole high risk thing means. There's going to be so many in those watch boxes that it's going to be hard to get out of the way, right?
HENNEN: Right, exactly, Chad. A very rare thing. You know, we see this once or twice a season. And the thunderstorms already beginning to fire.
So from the area, that's extending along a cold front, by the way, there is a strong cold front that is moving through right like this at the present time in an area of low pressure.
Actually, look back here. It's snowing into Missouri. It's snowing down to Kansas City at this hour. That shows you the contrast in the air masses, all the cold air back in this direction slamming into the very warm and humid air mass. It's 72 right now down in Atlanta. And all that clash of air masses is going to kick off these thunderstorms and the potential for tornadoes throughout the afternoon.
MYERS: Dave, I just checked. It's 80 in Memphis right now.
MYERS: And it's snowing in Kansas City. And you can drive there in about three or four hours.
Take a look at the map behind me now. Twenty-seven in Denver and then you go right from purple to red, and that red is where the warm air is, where the humidity is, where the muggy air is, right through into Memphis, Paducah, down into Little Rock, down possibly into Shreveport.
The energy rolls into the storm later on this afternoon, probably around 3 p.m. We're going to see -- we're going to see tornado watches, tornado warnings, just popping one right after the other. The printer is going to be going so quickly here. We're going to keep you up to date on all of these storms.
The storm's going to run all the way up, even into the Ohio Valley as some of the energy moves on up to the north. We actually have a tower cam for you to show you what's going on here. You can actually see -- I can't read that letter up on top there. WHBQ, and you can see low cloud cover there. Is this Memphis? Is that the Memphis bridge right there? I believe that's the "M" bridge. There we go, WHBQ out of Memphis. That storm really is only about 15 miles to your west of Memphis. You see the river there, and then back off to the right is your city of Memphis. Off to your left, obviously, where the storms are coming from. And if you're in Memphis right now, time to batten down the hatches. You're not under any warnings right now, but the storms are just a few moments away -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Dave and Chad, thanks so much.
MYERS: You're welcome.
PHILLIPS: Ending the war in Iraq and bringing the troops home. The Republican-controlled Senate today approved a measure calling on the president to spell out his plan for completing the U.S. mission in Iraq.
The Senate first defeated a tougher Democratic plan that called for setting dates for a phased troop withdrawal.
The bottom line, both sides sending a strong message to Mr. Bush that it's time for Iraqis to take control of their country.
CNN's congressional correspondent Ed Henry on Capitol Hill with more.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Republican-led Senate on a wide bipartisan basis, 79-19, passed a measure demanding more accountability in Iraq from the Bush administration. The measure basically demands a framework to figure out how to win and end the war in Iraq and also demands that the administration give more regular quarterly reports on progress in Iraq.
The Senate, though, did defeat a Democratic effort to force a flexible timetable to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. That failed, 40-58.
But the Republicans adopted about 90 percent of the language in the Democratic amendment that lays out this framework for ending the war. It also is a strong bipartisan vote, both sides giving a clear message to the administration they want to find a way to end the war.
But also a sign the Republicans are fairly nervous heading into the 2006 midterm elections about the war, about the fact that recent polls are showing sliding support for both the president and the war in Iraq.
Ed Henry, CNN, Capitol Hill.
PHILLIPS: Other deals to be made, a breakthrough between Israeli and the Palestinians on the sensitive issue of border crossing. Condoleezza Rice announced the deal in Jerusalem after brokering all night negotiations.
CNN's Guy Raz has the details.
GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lending her considerable personal prestige to break through an impasse, a deadlock between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators over how to re-open a key border crossing between the Palestinian Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, the crossing known as the Rafah Terminal Point.
Now, the secretary postponed her departure from the region. She was meant to already be in South Korea. She stayed in Jerusalem overnight, holding marathon talks with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. Those extra hours paid off, and it enabled the secretary to make an announcement that a deal had, indeed, been reached.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is agreement is a good step forward. With the international community, Israel and the Palestinian Authority must keep working hard to make these measures work in practice. As they are implemented, trust can grow.
Prime Minister Sharon and prime minister -- and President Abbas have shown real statesmanship in making the decisions that led to this agreement. Meanwhile, our commitment to security is strong, as always.
RAZ: Key among the agreement is the Rafah border crossing. That's the main crossing point that connects the Palestinian Gaza Strip to Egypt and essentially Gaza to the outside world.
That border crossing will open in about 10 days for the passage of Palestinians in and out of that crossing point. It will be manned by Palestinian security officials on the Palestinian side, with international observers, and on the Egyptian side by Egyptian troops.
Secondly, Palestinians living in Gaza will be able to move between Gaza and the West Bank, two areas that are, of course, divided by Israel. A bus convoy will begin to operate in about a month's time, enabling Palestinians to move back and forth through those areas, something that has essentially been shut down for the past five years.
And, finally, goods leaving Gaza will move out of that area without any restrictions. Goods coming into Gaza will continue to be monitored by the Israelis.
Now, the Palestinian Authority will also begin work on a seaport in the Gaza Strip. The Bush administration and Palestinian officials are hoping, once that seaport is complete, officials can begin the process of exporting products, goods and agricultural produce from that port in a bid to help revive Gaza's tattered economy.
Guy Raz, CNN, Jerusalem.
PHILLIPS: Well, if it's Tuesday it must be Japan. President and Mrs. Bush arrived in Osaka early this morning, first stop on their four-nation trip to the far east. And over the next eight days the president hopes to encourage the spread of human rights and push for free trade. Tomorrow he holds talks with the Japanese prime minister before turning onto South Korea, China and a first for a U.S. president, Mongolia.
Now back home, the president's numbers continue their freefall. A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows his approval rating at a new personal low, 37 percent. Almost two-thirds of Americans surveyed don't like the way Mr. Bush is doing his job, and more than half believe the president does not share their values. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.
Well, Rumsfeld -- Rumsfeld versus reporters, live in just a few minutes. We're going to bring it to you when it starts. LIVE FROM's got the news you want all afternoon. Stay with us.
PHILLIPS: Once again, waiting for the Pentagon briefing. As soon -- as soon as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld steps up to the podium, we'll take that live.
Still a lot of questions regarding Iraq and what's happening with regard to this talk of a timetable on whether troops will be set to a date to leave Iraq or if, indeed, they will be in for the long haul without having to worry about an exact timetable. That's sort of been a debate back and forth today.
We're going to talk more about it with CNN military analyst, retired Army Brigadier General James Marks.
And, Spider, of course, a lot of going back and forth on whether there should be an immediate withdrawal of troops or whether troops need to stay in for the long haul and not necessarily put an exact date of when troops should leave.
What's your immediate reaction? Should there be an immediate withdrawal and set a timetable, or should dates not be promised?
BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Kyra, there's nothing to be gained by immediate -- an immediate withdrawal and certainly nothing to be gained by establishing a firm timetable. The insurgency would just simply be able to hold their breath and for an eventual outcome, which would be the U.S. departure from that coalition that's in place.
Clearly what needs to take place, and the Department of Defense and the coalition is working to achieve this, which is bolstering the political foundation of Iraq and increasing the training of the Iraqi forces so that they can take the lead.
Clearly what we need to do is decrease the U.S. presence in the country, and that's the intent. That might include a little bit of an increase in the near term in terms of advisers and presence, U.S. presence within those formations so that the Iraqis have a U.S. -- access to U.S. power and access to U.S. intelligence and the ability to be that much more destructive than possibly that formation can achieve by itself.
So I think you would probably see an episodic increase in the advisers on the ground while an attempt to remove the visible face and increase what I would call lighter fingerprints of the U.S. on the ground itself.
PHILLIPS: Do you think that U.S. -- no matter when troops leave or not, do you think U.S. bases should stay in Iraq, military bases?
MARKS: Well, there certainly has to be, Kyra, a timetable associated with that.
Again, the shelf life of any insurgency when you look back through history, is about a decade. It's really nine years. We're into our third year. Now, that doesn't mean the U.S. has to be there for the remainder of those six years, if you will. But clearly there will be a presence in that country of some sort to handle this situation.
So there's probably going to be a U.S. presence, ideally somewhat less -- a little more transparent, a little more behind bunkers, a little more out of the way so the Iraqis can take the lead and the U.S. can move into the background. But clearly with the U.S. in the background, there always is the ability to provide additional support when it's required.
PHILLIPS: But so many people -- so many of the critics are saying as long as there is a U.S. presence, whether it's a base, whether it's troops, it's going to continue to feed the insurgency. And so a number of people saying we could keep putting tons and tons of money into this country, yet continue to watch the country fall apart.
MARKS: Kyra, here's the conundrum. Clearly the U.S. presence in the country is divisive, and you've seen this unholy alliance, this marriage of the former Ba'athists and the jihadist insurgents, which have no reason to be together, in fact has politically diverse desires.
However, because of the coalition presence, primarily the U.S., there now is this marriage. They have a common enemy.
So the argument could be made very logically let's connect these two dots. U.S. departs, insurgency and former Ba'athists have no reason to get together.
Well, what you would end up doing with an immediate withdrawal, is you'd see this -- a chaotic spiral that would occur and you'd end up probably with a civil war, which would certainly be worse.
The next thing is, you know, what is the broader audience that the U.S. wants to reach with whatever it is they are doing? And it's a very diverse audience. Is it the Iraqi people? Yes. Is it U.S. citizens? Absolutely. Is it the greater Mideast? Yes. Is it our coalition and our partners and our greater alliances? Absolutely.
So there are mixed messages that will be received from a single message, and that's got to be are we going to stay the course or are we going to be imaginative?
So the course, I think, that you will see is you've got to get the U.S. less visible, the Iraqis take the lead. You've got to continue to train, have trainers on the ground, have advisers embedded in Iraqi units, so that they can gain confidence and competence. The U.S. is available yet more invisible, if you will.
And that's a strategy that's going to bring you forward until such point as the Iraqis clearly have political strength and have the security forces in place to do the task of continuing the fight against the insurgency.
PHILLIPS: Spider, continuing to wait for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to step up to the podium there at the Pentagon briefing. We're going to take that live as soon as it happens.
While we're waiting for that I want to ask you about just long- term -- dealing with nationalist resentments. I mean, this is something that obviously has been a problem for decades. How do you go about dealing with that? Whether you have troops in or out of Iraq, you still have these nationalist resentments that you have to deal with long term.
MARKS: Well, absolutely. And we have experience in that around the world. I mean, there are always challenges wherever the U.S. puts a heavy hand and many -- and in all cases, frankly, a necessary heavy hand that then is backed off into lighter -- kind of a lighter fingerprints, if you will. You're always going to have national -- nationalistic tendencies and resentment toward our presence in somebody else's country.
PHILLIPS: Spider, stay with us. Let's listen to the briefing now.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: rewrite the history of the coalition's involvement in Iraq. It might be useful to take a moment to retrace the actual history.
In 1998, the U.S. Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Iraqi Liberation Act. That law specified 10 findings of Saddam Hussein's violations of international norms and stated, quote, "It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime," unquote.
That legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 360-38, and it passed the Senate without a single vote in opposition. In December of that year, 1998, President Clinton ordered military action in response to Iraq's decision to expel the U.N. weapon inspectors.
In an address to the nation he stated, quote, "Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam there's one big difference. He has used them. The international community had little doubt then and I have no doubt today that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again," unquote.
Justifying President Clinton's decision, then Vice President Gore asked, quote, "If you allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons, how many people is he going to kill with such weapons?" -- question mark -- unquote.
The then secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, said, "Iraq is a long way from Ohio, but what happens there matters a great deal here, for the risk that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face," unquote.
And the then national security adviser, Sandy Berger said, "He will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and someday, some way, I am certain, he will use that arsenal again, as he has 10 times since 1983," unquote.
RUMSFELD: Four years later, in October 2002, by a large margin, a bipartisan majority of the Congress authorized President Bush to use force if necessary to deal with the continued threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
In the legislation, the U.S. Congress stated that Iraq, quote, "poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States by continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations, unquote."
These assessments were echoed by foreign intelligence agencies from countries that included Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia, and by the United Nations Security Council in more than a dozen different Security Council resolutions between 1990 and the year 2002.
In early 2004, weapons inspector David Kay, while acknowledging he had not found weapons of mass destruction, testified that Iraq, quote, "maintained programs and activities and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their programs," unquote.
Later that year, weapons inspector Charles Duelfer noted, quote, "Saddam Hussein wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when sanctions were lifted," unquote.
This is the history that brought us to where we are today. These are simply facts.
The times we live in are serious. We're in the midst of a global war that threatens free people across the world, as evidenced by attacks here in Washington, D.C., in New York City, in Bali, London, Madrid, Beslan, Jerusalem, Riyadh and most recently at a wedding reception in Amman, Jordan.
Innocent people -- mothers, fathers, children -- have been murdered by a network of Islamic extremists -- Islamofascists, if you will -- seeking to impose their dark vision on free people.
They seek to build in Iraq what they once had in Afghanistan -- a safe haven -- and then to expand throughout the region and beyond. Their terms are not negotiable.
While the American people understandably want to know when our forces can leave Iraq, I believe they do not want them to leave until our mission is accomplished and the Iraqis are able to sustain their fledgling democracy.
RUMSFELD: As the president has said, one cannot set arbitrary deadlines. Timing of the handover of responsibility to Iraqis depends on conditions on the ground. And already some responsibilities are being assumed by the Iraqi security forces.
We must be careful not to give terrorists the false hope that if they can simply hold on long enough, that they can outlast us.
ADMIRAL EDMUND P. GIAMBASTIANI JR. (USN), VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Good afternoon. This past week in Jordan the world witnessed yet another cruel and unconscionable act of terrorism. Scores of innocent men, women and children were killed or injured in three separate suicide bomb attacks in Amman.
It appears from all we know at this time that Zarqawi ordered these attacks on his Muslim countrymen. His actions make it clear that he is serious about spreading Al Qaeda's extremist ideology outside of Iraq.
However, the antidote to such extremism can be seen in the recent elections in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iraqi and Afghan people have taken the first steps to form governments to provide for free marketplace; education; ethnic and religious equality; security of cities, countrysides and borders; and a chance to make a better life for the next generation.
The political progress in the region frightens the terrorists. Every vote for democracy is a vote against their kind of hatred.
The missions of the coalition haven't changed. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and Coast Guardsmen understand their efforts are making a difference. They get it.
They understand we're at war. They understand the mission. They understand the stakes. And they are performing exceedingly well.
Let me close by extending on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff our condolences to the people of Jordan who have suffered a great loss at the hands of terrorist. You have been a close and strong ally on the war on terror. We share in your grief and stand by your side.
On that note, the secretary and I would be happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you've listed a list of facts here, and I don't think anyone would argue with most of them, including the fact that former President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Al Gore and others warned that Iraq was a threat to possibly use weapons of mass destruction, in fact had done it.
You don't mention that the Bush administration or President Bush ordered an invasion of Iraq claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which it didn't.
So how is this straightening out history?
RUMSFELD: Well, it seems to me that what we're seeing is we've got men and women serving in Iraq, risking their lives, on the one hand. And on the other hand we have people suggesting that the reason we're there was because this president decided to go in based on information that was unique to him, and it wasn't unique to him. The information that he based his decision on was the same information that President Clinton and the previous administration had. It's the same information members of the House and Senate had. It's the same information that the other intelligence services had.
And it seems to me that people who are willing to risk their lives need to know the truth. They need to understand that they are there based on decisions that were made in good faith, by responsible people, and that this world is going to be a lot better off with Saddam Hussein gone and with that country on a path toward democracy.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary -- and Admiral Giambastiani, you can jump in if you like -- but the Defense Science Board recently suggested that the Pentagon buy more C-17s, without saying how many, and the Senate has passed a nonbinding resolution calling for up to 42 more.
Ultimately, you make the call. Can you give us a sneak preview as to what your call will be, and also maybe a sneak preview on the QDR? Is the DD(X) and the JSF in trouble?
GIAMBASTIANI: With regard to the C-17s, we are looking at everything. So you've mentioned a couple of systems. We're looking at about every weapons platform there is. We're looking at organizations. We're trying to make it as comprehensive as possible for the QDR. With regard to the C-17s, we've had a mobility requirement study that has been recently completed. It's classified. But essentially what we have in our program is a very substantial airlift capability of C-17s, C-5As, C-5Bs, obviously C-130s, a variety of them, and the rest.
GIAMBASTIANI: And if we maintain those fleets and the programs that we currently have funded throughout our Future Year Defense Plan and the rest, we have a very capable and adequate airlift fleet.
With regard to the destroyer, with regard to some of these other systems, all of these, including the C-17s, are still in play right now.
QUESTION: If I read you correctly, sir, you're saying that you don't need any more C-17s as you now see it. Is that correct?
GIAMBASTIANI: There are a lot of ways to skin a cat. What I'm telling you is our mobility requirement study says we have sufficient airlift if we stay on a funded program that we currently have.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I want to get your reaction to the 79-9 vote that just took place in the Senate on the authorization committee.
RUMSFELD: I wasn't aware of it.
QUESTION: Well, your a legislative guy should have told you. It was...
Basically, it's the Senate.
RUMSFELD: No, they're busy. They can't follow everything every second now. Don't pick on them.
I say I should have known.
QUESTION: Bottom line, though, it's the (INAUDIBLE) of the Senate on the war requiring the Pentagon and the administration to have filed more complete, regular progress reports, and it pressed the Pentagon...
RUMSFELD: Is this the one that was pending by Warner?
QUESTION: Yes and Frist.
Now here's my question. Looking back as a former member of Congress, does this signal to you a growing impatience in the U.S. Senate similar to the early '70s debates on Vietnam?
RUMSFELD: Oh, I wouldn't go down that road myself. It's understandable that the American people and the Congress are interested in knowing as much as possible about a war. A war is an important thing. It's a serious thing. It's a dangerous thing. And people die and we know that and it's heartbreaking.
I was reading a book last night, Winston Churchill. And he said the problem is not winning the war, but persuading people to let them let him win the war, he said.
In a free system like we have -- these situations don't evolve in a dictatorship. It's only in free systems that we have this kind of open, public debates and discussions.
Just a piece of factual information. I'm told that the Department of Defense and the Department of State send literally dozens of Iraqi-related reports to Congress each year already.
Seven are required reports. We have seven voluntary briefings. We have 28 I.G. reports, 52 GAO reports, and regular classified updates on the Iraqi security forces, which I believe go up there every month.
RUMSFELD: Many of those things address what, as I recall, an earlier draft of that amendment may have covered.
And that's fine. I mean, that's all part of the interaction between the executive and legislative branch. And they have every right to ask for reports. And we send -- I don't know -- it's something over 900 reports total every year from the Department of Defense to the Congress. I hope someone reads them.
But, no, what it reflects to me is that this is serious business and these are serious people and they're interested in having as much information as possible.
I was struck by what someone told me about another amendment where Senator Lieberman spoke and pointed out that he was concerned -- I think he said that, quote, "that it seems to be" -- you don't want -- he said one of these amendments would send a message that I fear will discourage our troops because it seems to be heading to the door. It will encourage the terrorists and it will confuse the Iraqi people and affect their judgments as they go forward.
And I mention that because another one that's pending involves deadlines as I recall or timetables of some sort.
QUESTION: But the point that I make, is this impatience coming a lot quicker than you would have anticipated? You know, this is your own party pressing this at the moment -- 79-9 is many Republicans, including Warner and Frist.
RUMSFELD: I think that amendment, I was told, was going to be offered in lieu of one that was somewhat different.
QUESTION: Yes, but the point, impatience though, that's what I'm trying to get your sense of.
RUMSFELD: I have a lot of confidence in the American people. And frankly, I have a lot of confidence in the Congress. The Congress represents the American people. And the American people have a very good center of gravity. They listen and they'll decide. And what's going on in Iraq is important. It's important historically. It's important for the Iraqi people. It's important for the entire region. And, quite honestly, it's very important for the United States of America and the coalition countries that have a desire to have their people be able to live as free people and not be subjected to the dictates of a small handful of fanatics.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Japanese government has now agreed to the assignment of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier to Japan.
QUESTION: Does that now, in your mind, clear the way for the retirement of the John F. Kennedy that was discussed earlier this year?
And, also, is it to be the occasion for a realignment of naval forces, to put more naval forces in the Pacific?
RUMSFELD: Do you want to respond to that?
GIAMBASTIANI: Right now you're going to see a plan, a carrier plan. You'll see a naval force plan that will come out of the quadrennial defense review.
I hate to give you the, "I'll defer the answer," but right now we haven't come down. The department does stand by the recommendation that came forward out of a program budget decision last December on the John F. Kennedy. That's where we stand right now, and that's where we're proceeding. And our plans that will come out of the QDR will in fact talk about this potential realignment. That's what we're discussing and debating right now within the QDR.
So there are no final decisions yet.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could I ask you, in retrospect, do you feel that you were let down by the intelligence community on the intelligence on Iraq, or were people making honest mistakes based on the best information available? How do you look at it?
RUMSFELD: There's no doubt in my mind that people made honest mistakes in that set of -- the pieces of that intelligence that were presented at the United Nations. They certainly were not intentional. And they were clearly honest mistakes.
Now, do you feel let down because something is inaccurate and imperfect? You'd be let down every day by intelligence, because by its nature it's hard to do, it's tough.
And we constantly need better intelligence. If there's one thing I hear every single day from the battlefield commanders, it's they need better intelligence.
And it is a tough thing to do. They have tough jobs, and they're doing their best. And is it better or worse than in previous eras? My guess is it's better than in previous eras. Why do I say that? Well, we're spending a great deal of money. We've got a lot of awful fine people. We're probably got more people right now than we have in the last 10, 15 years working this problem.
But is it perfect? No. Will it ever be perfect? I doubt it.
QUESTION: So do you think...
RUMSFELD: You're cutting into other people's time, but that's all right with me.
QUESTION: That's good. I want the time.
Do you think that the WMD just wasn't there? Or what's happened?
RUMSFELD: Time will tell. We'll learn.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Operation Steal Curtain, as it advances, the Marines say they're going to leave troops behind in these towns that they've cleared of insurgents.
QUESTION: How many American forces are going to be left behind? And if there are significant numbers left behind, what does it do to troop levels that have to fight elsewhere?
RUMSFELD: First of all, I don't know the number that will be left behind, nor do I need to know. Second, I wouldn't tell you if I did know. Why would we want to announce to the terrorists there is only X or Y or Z?
Third, it's going to be a mix of U.S., coalition and Iraqi security forces. And how long will they stay there? They'll stay there as long as the battlefield commander decides it's a good idea to stay there.
GIAMBASTIANI: If I could add, Mr. Secretary, just add to that, what's different than many previous operations is that we're leaving many more well-trained Iraqis in these areas.
QUESTION: But John McCain called for a clear-and-hold strategy in Iraq -- at a briefing last week at the AEI -- and he's saying 10,000 more soldiers are needed over there for this kind of strategy.
Could you both comment on that?
RUMSFELD: We've been over this so many times -- it's perfectly understandable that people differ as to what the number ought to be. The number at the present time is between 155,000 and 160,000. The base level had been about 138,000 for some preceding months.
So it is 10,000 more -- plus more than 10,000 more -- than it had been in an earlier period. The reason they're there, obviously, was for the referendum, the referendum on the constitution and for the upcoming elections.
QUESTION: What about... RUMSFELD: Just a minute. Just a minute. Just let me answer your question.
I'll say it one last time. The number that are there are the numbers that General John Abizaid, commander of CENTCOM, General George Casey, the commander in Iraq and his division commanders throughout the country have decided they want to recommend to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and me and to the president.
And that is why the number that's there is there. And I promise you it very likely will be the number that's there...
QUESTION: And that's...
... just stop.
RUMSFELD: I promise you that it very likely will be the number that you will find there tomorrow, the next day and the day after. It will be the number they recommend.
Imagine that. That is something I've said repeatedly from this podium and it seems not to sink in. Why?
QUESTION: That's part of my question. The other is clear-and- hold. That's the strategy he thinks that should be adopted now.
GIAMBASTIANI: If I could, Mr. Secretary, to help out here.
GIAMBASTIANI: I didn't understand the way you asked that initially, which is why I didn't answer.
But what's important here (INAUDIBLE) that there be more forces behind. The answer is yes. And the Iraqi numbers keep growing every single day. We're at 212,000 today, and those numbers will continue to grow.
And the whole strategy is that more and more of Iraq is being held by Iraqi security forces. It's substantial.
QUESTION: So the bottom line is you're already adopting that critical strategy. Is that right?
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in regard to the various pieces of legislation up on the Hill regarding detainees and war strategy, we've heard from many of the Republicans and Democrats alike that Congress feels that it should take a more active and direct role in the war in Iraq.
Would you consider that intervention by Congress helpful, one? Or two, do you think that signals a vote of no confidence in the way you and the Pentagon have been conducting the war?
RUMSFELD: Well, the Congress is Article I of the Constitution. They have all legislative authority and they control the purse strings. And they can do that which they wish to do. And they do.
So I wouldn't characterize it as an intervention at all.
Second, it seems to me that what you're seeing, as we just saw, a bipartisan vote, that I quoted Senator Lieberman as participating in, that rejected the kind of a quote, "intervention," that you're suggesting.
And it seems to me that there's a great deal of confidence in the troops, in General Abizaid, in General Casey, in the people who are making the decisions with respect to the effort in Iraq.
And they're making good progress. You don't go from where they were to having an elected government taking control of sovereignty, fashioning the constitution, having a referendum on the constitution, and in one month having a vote under that new constitution. That is enormous progress for a country like Iraq that has no experience in doing that. What's taking place there is historic. And progress is being made; let there be no doubt.
QUESTION: Can I get your reaction to the court's (INAUDIBLE) on the David Hicks military commission?
RUMSFELD: I think you asked about the what?
QUESTION: The David Hicks military commission.
RUMSFELD: Oh, David Hicks. Yes, the courts have intervened, as I understand it, and things are off for a period until the courts sort through things. We live under a system of laws. I forget what level court did it, but it was either a district court or an appellate court.
RUMSFELD: You can't proceed right now. You have to wait, as I understand it.
Is that correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For that case...
RUMSFELD: For that case you have to wait and see.
QUESTION: Given what you said in response to Rick's question about the erroneous intelligence, if you had known what the correct intelligence would have been...
RUMSFELD: Oh, I'm not going to get into that.
QUESTION: ... would you have made the same recommendation to go to war? I mean, absent everything that's happened in Iraq since.
RUMSFELD: I'm not going to get into that.
QUESTION: There are reports that two men who were detainees in Iraq taken in July of 2003, they are now claiming that as part of their interrogation they were thrown into a cage with lions. Can you tell us if any member of the U.S. military has ever threatened a detainee in that way, coerced them, tortured them in any way using lions?
RUMSFELD: I've read the same report. It seems quite farfetched. Obviously everything that everyone alleges is looked into.
But you've got to keep in mind that the documents that were found, I believe in Manchester, train people, terrorists, to lie about their treatment, and they do it consistently, and it always works.
QUESTION: So you're saying this has never happened.
RUMSFELD: I didn't say that. You heard precisely what I said. I spoke very precisely, and you can get a transcript of it if you really want to know what I said. And I'll stick with what I said.
QUESTION: What would be the implications if the courts invalidate the military tribunals and you have to go through the regular federal courts with these cases?
RUMSFELD: You know, I've said it 100 times up here, I'm not a lawyer. And the military commissions have been used in our history to good effect. The president made a decision to make commissions available in this conflict, the global war on terror.
RUMSFELD: It's not surprising that courts intervene and then things get sorted out.
There have been, for the most part, decisions that have -- I think this is accurate -- thinking back over the entire period, I would say that for the most part, court decisions have tended ultimately to validate the president's decision with respect to military commissions. Whether this latest one will or will not, I don't know.
But in the event -- I personally think they'll end up being permitted under our Constitution and our laws. Were they not to be, I suppose one could go -- and people are talking about various types of legislation that might make them permissible. And if they were not ultimately permitted, then you'd have to figure out what was permitted, and the Justice Department and the people who decide these things would go about their business.
We'll make this the last question. QUESTION: One of the sentiments expressed by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate is that the Iraqi political leaders need to be sent a message that the United States is not in Iraq indefinitely as an incentive to get them to take greater responsibility for their own security and leadership.
How do you respond to that? Are you satisfied with the Iraqi political leadership, or do they need to be sent a message?
RUMSFELD: Well, of course, the leadership is not the leadership. It's a scope of individuals from different sects and different religions and different political lists, and they have different views.
But, I mean, the fact of the matter is I meet with a lot of Iraqis, and overwhelmingly they suggest that they're anxious to have the time arrive when we do not have to have so many forces there so visibly. And that's our desire, as well.
So it seems to me that we're all very much in agreement.
The president of the United States, who says he wants to hand over responsibility as soon as it's possible and is working very hard to achieve that -- we're already handing over responsibility in a number of areas. I expect that after this election we'll be able to hand over additional responsibilities as the Iraqi security forces continue to grow in number.
RUMSFELD: And that's the desire of at least a number of the Iraqi leaders, just as it's the desire of the president of the United States and the troops themselves.
We don't go into a country to stay in the country.
We go into a country to try to be helpful and then leave as soon as is possible but not in a manner that's precipitous and not in a manner that would inject an instability into the situation and not in a manner that would suggest to the terrorists that all they have to do is wait us out and they'll be able to have their way.
Because, if they have their way and impose their medieval vision on that country in that part of the world, it would be an enormous price to pay. And I don't think that's going to happen.
Thank you, folks.
QUESTION: Happy Thanksgiving, if we don't see you before, Mr. Secretary.
RUMSFELD: Thank you.
... a country like Iraq that has no experience in doing that. What's taking place there is historic.
PHILLIPS: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, side by side with the vice chair there of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefing -- the Pentagon briefing there, with reporters.
Still with us, military analyst, retired Army Brigadier General James Marks.
Spider, one thing I want to touch on, because intelligence, that's your background, that's your expertise. And Rumsfeld definitely hammering home on, yes, we need better intelligence. Of course, intelligence being the key to finding out where those insurgents are, how they're operating, where the factories are, how they're -- what are the numbers? Is the insurgency growing?
Well, the U.S. has been in this fight now for a number of years, and still you've got the secretary of defense saying we need better intelligence. How do you do that?
MARKS: Kyra, fundamentally what's required is an increase in human intelligence. Clearly, the soldier or the marine on the ground needs to be enabled through technical intelligence means. But the investment is in the human intelligence arena.
Now the key thing is that every marine and every soldier that's on the ground is a collector, is a censor of some sort. That individual soldier picks up the environmentals, gets a sense of what's around him or her, can report that back up through the chain. And that gives you a better mosaic, a better sense of what the environment looks like.
Now, there have been -- frankly, there have been a lot of great successes in terms of...
PHILLIPS: Spider, hold that thought. We want to take you back to the briefing real quickly, because there's been this talk, Associated Press talking about two former Iraqi detainees accused U.S. servicemen of abuse. He's addressing it right now.
RUMSFELD: The documents that were found I believe in Manchester train people, terrorists, to lie about their treatment. And they do it consistently and it always works.
QUESTION: But you're saying this has never happened?
RUMSFELD: I didn't say that. You heard precisely what I said. I spoke very precisely and you can get a transcript of it if you really want to know what I said. And I'll stick with what I said.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary...
QUESTION: What would be the implications if the courts invalidate the military tribunals and you have to go through a regular federal (INAUDIBLE)?
RUMSFELD: You know, I've said it a hundred times... PHILLIPS: What it sounds like there -- Spider, I don't know if you caught it. I just got the end of it. It sounds like what Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was saying is that detainees lie all the time.
And just to set our viewers up with this story here, the Associated Press reported two former Iraqi detainees accused U.S. servicemen of abuse back in 2003. Specifically, the AP reports that the men claimed they were thrown into a cage full of lions. Those detainees told the AP and CNN that the abuse was part of an overall pattern of torture that started when they were arrested.
Well, many of their claims are part of a lawsuit filed on their behalf against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others in the military chain of command. CNN's Tom Foreman had interviewed the two men and is working on an extensive story about the allegations that they make, but so far CNN has not been able to corroborate any details of the alleged lion incident, and it's not mentioned in the lawsuit, either, that was filed against the secretary of defense. So we're attempting just to get more response about these allegations.
Of course, Tom Foreman will have more on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" today. That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
So, Spider, have you heard anything about these accusations. And it is interesting that the detainees talk about being tortured, thrown into this den of lions. They mention it maybe one time, but you're not seeing it in the lawsuit. Rumsfeld coming forward saying detainees lie about their treatment all the time. What's your take?
MARKS: Frankly, I've seen the training manuals and those that are involved in the insurgency have been trained to lie about what their treatment has looked like, so I concur with that. Now, whether that applies to these two individuals, I don't know.
Frankly, when I was in Baghdad in April of '03, I in fact saw lions and those were the lions that were let loose in the zoo and downtown Baghdad. Not trying to be facetious here but the point is I don't know anything about that.
All I know is what I've read in the press. But I need to tell you that is an -- that is a skill that's trained to many of the insurgent fighters and that is lie about your treatment, get some type of international recognition of the possibility that you were mistreated, and then put a spotlight on it.
PHILLIPS: How do you prove something like that? I mean, it's a he-said/he-said right now. How do you indeed prove, because you would think, if you were tortured, you would have some sort of evidence or proof that, indeed, that happened.
MARKS: Sure, I mean, it's like any other forensics. I mean, you've got to walk through rules of evidence and pick out the evidence and you just have to back your way through it. That certainly is taking place and I'm sure there are multiple investigates to get to the bottom of it. But very difficult. Very difficult to prove. PHILLIPS: General James Spider Marks, thanks for your time today.
PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, word of new tornado warnings. We're working that right now. We're going to check in with the severe weather center next. All this news leaves me parched. Chad, too, probably. A salmon-flavored soda sounds so good. thing that it's on tap in the market update coming right up after this.
PHILLIPS: Back live at B control now. It's estimated that this year Americans will sniffle and sneeze their way through no fewer than 700 million common colds. That's a lot of tissues, huh?
But there may be a way to reduce your chances of catching a cold. Remember what your mom used to tell you about bundling up? Now she may be able to say, I told you so. CNN's Anderson Cooper and senior medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta test our knowledge of the common cold.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Sanjay, let's start with one that appears to call into question conventional wisdom: Getting a chill can cause a cold? True or False?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that one is actually false. Getting a chill does not actually cause a cold. A lot of people think that if you go outside with wet hair, for example. You have to be exposed to the virus. But an interesting new study actually, Anderson, talking about people who are actually exposed to significant cold, like an ice bath for example, were more likely to get a cold. Well why? Probably because they already had the virus, they just wouldn't have any symptoms yet. The cold can make you have some of those symptoms, so something to watch out for.
COOPER: True or false: Kissing can transmit the cold virus?
GUPTA: That one is true. Because the typical cold virus is actually very contagious. Unlike the bird flu virus, for example, garden variety flu virus can be transmitted very easily. So wash your hands, clean off those desk surfaces and don't kiss and cough.
COOPER: OK. True or false: Airplane trips can increase your risk of getting a cold?
GUPTA: Yes, that one's actually true as well, Anderson. Being in an airplane, more so because you're in confined quarters with lots of different people. And when you're in combined quarters for that long, you're more likely to actually catch the viruses that are spreading around.
I will add that a lot of airplanes have actually added these new air-filtration systems to try and weed those viruses out.
COOPER: Starve a cold, feed a fever? True or false?
GUPTA: That one is false, Anderson. That is not good advice. You want to make sure that you stay well hydrated. You want to make sure that you get plenty of food and you're on a good diet. No starving a cold, no feeding a fever.
COOPER: Hot toddies and chicken soup, effective cold treatments?
GUPTA: Not a good treatment, sadly, Anderson. Alcohol never a good idea when you have a cold because, the same thing, you don't want to get dehydrated.
The chicken soup won't shorten the duration of your cold. It may not actually improve any of your symptoms, but a lot of people say that they feel better with it anyway.
COOPER: Mmm -- soup. All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.
GUPTA: Thank you.
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