Return to Transcripts main page

This Week at War

Week's Events in Iraq War Recounted,

Aired September 30, 2006 - 19:00   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: THIS WEEK AT WAR is coming up in just a moment, but first a look at what's happening now in the news. A scandal is rocking Capitol Hill. A spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert says he was not aware of the allegations concerning Republican House member Mark Foley. Foley resigned after revelations that he allegedly exchanged inappropriate e-mails with a male teenage page.
In Brazil, rescuers have reportedly reached the wreckage of a passenger jet that crashed in the Amazon jungle. Officials say there are no survivors among the 155 people on board.

Tonight at 8:00, don't miss a brand new "CNN Presents" special, "Rumsfeld, Man of War" right here on CNN. I'm Carol Lin. I'll have a news update at the bottom of the hour. But in the meantime, stay tuned now for "This Week at War" with John Roberts. This is CNN, the most trusted name in news.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, THIS WEEK AT WAR: Will new enemies in Iraq and around the world outpace U.S. efforts to capture and kill them and which political party will win the battle over who can best protect America? Plus, has the feud between Afghanistan and Pakistan's presidents put the war on terror at risk? I'm John Roberts with THIS WEEK AT WAR.

Let's take a look at what our correspondents reported day by day this week. Monday, the Pentagon extended combat tours of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq, some moving in earlier, others staying longer. Tuesday, President Bush orders the release of an intelligence document at the center of a political storm with its conclusions that the Iraq war has fueled the spread of international terrorism. Wednesday, President Bush invites the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the White House in an effort to unite them against the Taliban and the war on terror. Thursday, Baghdad police report the discovery of 60 bodies, all showing signs of torture. This has been a tough week says U.S. Major General William Caldwell. Friday, a new Bob Woodward book says President Bush ignored warnings of the need for more U.S. troops in Iraq to choke off the insurgency.

Reporting for us, a few of our e elite THIS WEEK AT WAR troops. CNN military analyst General "Spider" Marks maps out how terrorists travel into Iraq and back out. Arwa Damon is in Baghdad on how public opinion is running hot against the United States. And Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre looks at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's style and tactics in the campaign for Iraq. THIS WEEK AT WAR. Are there just too many new threats in Iraq for the United States to defeat? Joining me now from Baghdad is Arwa Damon. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon and CNN military analyst Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, U.S. Army retired is with me here in Washington. Arwa Damon in Baghdad, we had this chilling audio tape reported to be from Abu Aib (ph) al Masri, who is the new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, saying that he wants his followers to kidnap Americans, also trying to recruit nuclear scientists to his cause. This would seem to be a troubling new development and an escalation of what al Masri is up to there in Iraq.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well it is in a certain degree, but then again remember this is nothing new. Encouraging attacks against westerners, encouraging the kidnapping of westerners, that's something that's been ongoing. Al Masri has just taken over the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq. This could be his way of also just making his mark and re-emphasizing the fact that they need to be increasing their attacks. Of course it is always chilling when such audio tapes are released given the implications of it, but he also could be looking for a bargaining tool. He could also be looking for more Americans to be kidnapped and then he can bargain to get more of the individuals who are part of his organization that are currently being detained in U.S. prisons out of custody.

ROBERTS: But what about this call to arms for nuclear scientists? There are more than a few of them there in Iraq.

DAMON: That's true. There are, but then again, first of all, a lot of the nuclear scientists, a lot of the educated Iraqis, have actually fled the country and they've fled it over the last three years. It really is hard to imagine that they would be coming back to be living under such stressful circumstances in order to try to use their expertise to fuel the insurgency. I mean, really when you speak with Iraqis, these sorts of audio tapes don't have that much of an impact on their day to day lives and it's hard to tell who's really going to take this call seriously.

ROBERTS: So perhaps more bravado than anything there. "Spider" Marks as we mentioned at the very top of this program, 60 Iraqis found dead on Thursday, all of them tortured in some way, shape, or form. Now we hear that U.S. military officials are we explored this a little bit last week, U.S. military officials are questioning whether or not Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki (ph) has got the will and the capability to be able to deal with the sectarian violence and these militias in particular. What are you picking up from your contacts at the Pentagon and does the U.S. need to lean more heavily on al Maliki to get things done?

BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The short answer is yes. He needs to be leaned on, but you have what you have. He is the solution. We've got to move forward with that. We'd be losing traction immensely if he was removed or if he was marginalized in some way.

ROBERTS: But is there a crisis of confidence in his leadership? MARKS: I don't think there's a crisis of confidence. The challenge is is this incipient government that's trying to get legs underneath it truly has to get some additional traction. In many cases, it does not have the -- it does not have the constitutional authorities to get done what needs to be done. Regional powers, regional militias are allowed.

ROBERTS: We also talked at the very beginning of the program about extended troop deployments to try to deal with the security situation in Iraq. That has cause a little bit of fragmentation at the Pentagon. Here's how Barbara Starr reported that on Monday.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Army chief of staff General Peter Schumaker (ph) now taking the unprecedented step of refusing to sign off on the army's proposed budget because he believes it doesn't have enough money for the badly worn-out force. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld essentially playing it all down.


ROBERTS: Barbara Starr over there at the Pentagon, help us to understand all of this. What kind of an effect is all of these extended deployments or are all of these extended deployments having on the military?

STARR: Well, John, what it is doing is only underscoring the view of many that the force is simply stretched too thin. Is it at the breaking point? No. There's no indication of that, but are there pressure points now on especially the Army and Marine Corps? Absolutely. General Abizaid (ph) has now said that he is going to maintain 15 combat brigades, that's about 145,000 troops, in Iraq through early '07 next year and the only way to do that is to keep some people longer and send some people earlier.

ROBERTS: We had some interesting public opinion that was measured in Iraq over the last little while. A State Department poll on whether or not U.S. forces should stay or should they go. Here's what the State Department poll found. Sixteen percent of people said they want the U.S. forces to stay until the government asks them to leave. But look at this number, 65 percent of Iraqis said that they want U.S. forces to leave immediately. Arwa Damon, why would people in Iraq want U.S. forces to leave immediately, particularly since all of the analysis and a lot of statements from people there in Iraq, senior positions in Iraq, are saying if the U.S. pulled out, the whole place would devolve into civil war almost immediately?

DAMON: That's right John and really this isn't very much of a yes or no question, but if we look back to a year ago, there was mixed sentiment toward U.S. forces on the streets here and then we had the bombing of the holy shrine in Samara, the Shia shrine. After that, there was that catapulting of sectarian violence. At that point, opinion shifted towards U.S. forces. They were perceived as being the only thing that was really holding this country together and now eight months later down the road, we're just seeing an increase in sectarian violence. That could be what's pushing Iraqis now to believe that U.S. forces should leave and really though opinion is mixed. When we were out, we heard a lot more sentiment expressed in terms of yes, U.S. forces need to leave right now. They're actually the cause of the violence, but other Iraqis were also saying that they still were that semi-stabilizing force in the sense that they were the only ones from really prevented the Shia, Sunni militias from conducting all-out battle in the streets.

ROBERTS: Barbara Starr, if the U.S. military has lost the Iraqi people, has it lost the war?

STARR: Well, I think what U.S. military commanders are really looking at is that feeling amongst the Iraqi people because the message is very clear from every senior commander we speak to, that it is now really the Iraqi's problem. They have got to get busy. All these statements you're seeing about Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki, make no mistake. Behind the scenes and in front, U.S. military commanders are pressuring the Iraqi government to get busy, to get its troops out on the street and to really try and deal with the militias and the sectarian violence. The word from the Pentagon John is no additional U.S. troops to Iraq at this point unless the Iraqis can get out there and make a real effort. The pressure is on the Iraqi government.

ROBERTS: General Marks, last quick question to you. Bob Woodward's new book which is coming out next week, says that in the fall of 2003, U.S. officials wanted 40,000 more troops to go into Iraq to deal with the nascent insurgency. They thought that they could beat it back then. President Bush according to Woodward said no, you can't have the troops. Had those extra troops gone in back then, would the situation look markedly different than it does now in your opinion?

MARKS: Well, it's very difficult to do a hypothetical, but even in advance of that, we - I was a part of that formation that requested those 40,000 and they were denied. Clearly we didn't know what we didn't know back then. It certainly would have been to our advantage to have more forces on the ground, to stamp out and to handle those inevitable problems that would have come up.

ROBERTS: All right, General Marks, thanks very much. Arwa Damon in Baghdad, thank you as well as Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Spider, stay with us because we want to come back and rely on your expertise a little bit later on in the program.

Now saying goodbye to Marine Lance Corporal Howard March. March was killed this week during com bat operations in Iraq. Family and friends remember him as a computer whiz who loved designing web pages and someone who always had a smile for others. After graduating from Buffalo New York's Hutchinson Central Technical High School in 2004, March joined up with the Marines. His mother says he was captivated by their discipline.


LISA LEEPER, HOWARD MARCH'S MOTHER: He wanted to be with the elite group, the few, the proud. You know, the more challenging group. It's not easy for me to accept that I will not see him again. But he made a choice, and -- to be in the Marines and he swore an oath.


ROBERTS: Corporal March served in the Marine Corps second battalion, eight regiment. He was just 20 years old.

Fighting your enemies can be more straight-forward sometimes than keeping your friends. Was President Bush able to mend a split between two allies this week? Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf. We'll take a look at that coming up on THIS WEEK AT WAR.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got a lot of challenges faces us. All of us must protect our countries, but at the same time, we all must work to make the world a more hopeful place.


ROBERTS: President Bush on Wednesday evening in the midst of high stakes diplomacy. Are Afghanistan and Pakistan allies or enemies in the war on terror? We had a front row seat to the awkward relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan this week. Mr. Bush invited both Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to the White House, first separately and then together.

Joining me to talk more about this is Gary Berntsen. He's in New York. He's the author of "Jaw Breaker, the Attack on bin Laden and al Qaeda," a personal account by the CIA's key field commander and John McLaughlin is CNN national security advisor and former acting director of the CIA. Gary Berntsen, first of all, how crucial is it for President Bush to get Musharraf and Karzai working together?

GARY BERNTSEN, FMR CIA FIELD OFFICER: It is very critical because they're both dealing with a similar problem, that is the problem of the Pashtuns (ph) There are 40 million of them, 12 million on the Afghan side and 28 million on the Pakistani side. And on the Pakistani side, (INAUDIBLE) both sides, they live under an honor code. And the first part of that honor code, the honor code is called (INAUDIBLE) but (INAUDIBLE) is that part of the honor code that says that they will provide hospitality and asylum and we need them to stop the hospitality for the Taliban and break the asylum that they're providing to bin Laden.

ROBERTS: Because it would appear that the Taliban is the biggest problem facing that region right now and what's interesting is that when you hear from both of these leaders, they're pointing fingers at each other. Let's take a look at how Suzanne Malveaux reported that (INAUDIBLE) on Wednesday.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Afghanistan's Karzai accuses Musharraf of providing a safe haven for the Taliban, allowing them to cross the Pakistan border to conduct daily raids, but Musharraf says Karzai is at fault, refusing to take responsibility.

PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: He's purposely denying, turning a blind eye like an ostrich.


ROBERTS: So John McLaughlin, which way is it? Who's got control over the Taliban here? Who is providing the hospitality as Gary said in the safe haven? Is it Karzai or is it Musharraf?

JOHN McLAUGHLIN, FMR CIA DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Well, both of these guys have a lot to do. I would say between the two, you have to tip a bit toward Pakistan and say that they bear the larger burden in this struggle. Both have problems, but Pakistan -- these are not equal countries. Pakistan has a large military, a more developed intelligence service. And on the Afghan side of the border of course you have U.S. troops, NATO troops. On the Pakistan side, you have in the past Pakistani troops in some numbers, but now under this latest agreement, they have withdrawn, so I think with all due respect to Musharraf and he certainly is I'm the first to say, one of our best allies in the war on terror, I think the larger burden here is on the Pakistanis.

ROBERTS: Peter Bergen, our terrorism analyst told me earlier in the week that there is this long-held doctrine in Pakistan of what's called strategic death, that they want to have a portion of Afghanistan that they can retreat into should India attack and key to having that part of Afghanistan available is Taliban control.

McLAUGHLIN: That's why I think Musharraf needs to cut Karzai a little slack here. If you look at the history of it of course, one of the reasons there was a Taliban is that Pakistan supported the Taliban, helped create it and helped install it and supported it, recognized it, back in the '90s. To Pakistan's credit, they swiveled on a dime after 9/11, but Afghanistan is still trying to shake off that heritage. And this is a major problem that I think just needs to be in the equation. If you look at the interviews that Wolf Blitzer did with Karzai and Musharraf, what struck me is that Karzai was really rather statesmanlike and was very careful not to say anything insulting about Musharraf.

ROBERTS: Yeah, he was very measured, I thought, very measured. I still think Wolf gave both of them a case of indigestion (INAUDIBLE) at the White House. Of course, another huge problem in Afghanistan is the narcotics trade, that brings in more than $1 billion in profits every year. Some of that money goes toward the Taliban and Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, admits he has to do something about it. Here's what he had to say earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRES. HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN: On narcotics, it is a problem. It is an embarrassment to Afghanistan and I told President Bush earlier in my conversation with him that we feel very much embarrassed for having narcotics growing in our country.


ROBERTS: Karzai saying very embarrassed about having narcotics growing in our country, but there are many people who say that he is not doing enough about it purposefully. Do you agree with that?

BERNTSEN: Well, it employs three million people and many of the war lords who he relies on to maintain control are making a lot of money. So it's very difficult for him to enforce this. This is something that as we build institutions in Afghanistan, we should be able to gradually replace this. But 6,000 metric tons in one year was an astounding quantity to be harvested this year and we're going to clearly have to do more. We need to do more. Karzai needs to do more and NATO as well is out there.

ROBERTS: And John McLaughlin, he's got bigger fish to fry immediately than the narcotics trade? Some people believe that the U.S. is giving him a pass on this, at least for now.

McLAUGHLIN: I think what he's up against with the narcotics trade as Gary indicated is -- it's about 35 percent of the GNP. The crop last year was larger than the world can consume. It is huge. It's a matter of economic development Farmers there make money on this. There aren't other things that they can make money on until economic development occurs. It's going to be very hard for him to deal with it. And I reiterate the point Gary made. Because his security institutions are not well-developed, army intelligence and so forth, he relies on these local warlords to keep security in parts of the country. They in turn like the drug trade, so his leverage to work on this economically, socially, politically and so forth is little.

ROBERTS: John, I've also got to ask you about this national intelligence estimate because you're behind the crafting of some of these in the past. Do you believe that this intelligence estimate did in fact say that America is less safe because of the war in Iraq?

McLAUGHLIN: I don't think it said that. It said -- it was a bleak assessment and the bottom line is -- and it is that we're still in trouble on the war on terror and we've got a long way to go. I think the broader question of whether we're safer or not depends on a more complicated calculus. It involves what's going on in Iraq, how successful we are outside of Iraq at breaking up terrorist networks, how well we are here at homeland security, how well we're doing at plugging the vulnerabilities in our own country, how we're doing in our economic development aid policies, how we're doing in the Middle East where you've been recently. If we could take away some of the excuses that terrorists use such as the tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. All of that is in the mix of the question, are we safer or not? And at the end of the day, the right answer is we are safer. We have had an attack, but we're as everyone says rightly, we're not yet safe enough. ROBERTS: Well, it's certainly going to be a big political hot potato in the next five weeks.

McLAUGHLIN: Absolutely.

ROBERTS: John McLaughlin, Gary Berntsen, thanks very much. Always good to see you.

From the rocky terrain of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border to the rough political talk in Washington this week over the war, terrorism, intelligence, and the looming November election, I'm back with our war of words panel in just a moment.



FRAN TOWNSEND: It does not say that the war in Iraq is worse on the terror situation for the United States.


ROBERTS: That's White House homeland security advisor Fran Townsend on Monday as the administration tried to limit damage from a leak of an intelligence report linking the Iraq war and international terrorism. How did this end up smack in the middle of the midterm election campaign? And is the highly partisan debate more about protecting national security or just scoring political points? Joining us now in our war report segment, chief national correspondent John King and congressional correspondent Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. Dana, the leak of this national intelligence estimate certainly seemed to throw a monkey wrench into Democrats or into the Republican plans to try to whack the Democrats on this issue of national security. The stories came out earlier this week that in fact, it could be Republican policies that are putting the country more at risk, not the Democrats.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly that is the political nightmare if that were to be the story line and that is exactly why, John, you saw Republicans come out in a nano-second essentially trying to beat back the idea that that was the entire report. You saw them do something as you know from your days at the White House -- it take as lot for them to do which is declassify something. They do it often when it serves their political purposes, but from the Democrats point of view, it really is the part of the pattern the entire week and frankly the entire fall which is anything that they can find to sink their teeth into when it comes to hitting the Republicans on their top issue, national security, especially Iraq. They're going to do it and they did it all through the end of the week before they left to go full time on the campaign trail. Even on Friday, you saw a slew of press conferences for example on the new Bob Woodward book. So anything that they can seize, they're going to do it.

ROBERTS: And President Bush certainly had his fangs out as well after being pretty diplomatic through the first part of September. On Thursday, he got up there and he hit the Democrats firmly over the head. Take a listen to what he said.


BUSH: Five years after 9/11, the worst attack on American homeland in our history, the Democrats offer nothing but criticism and obstruction and endless second guessing. The party of FDR, the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run.


ROBERTS: So John King, that kind of an attack won him election in 2004, but a lot has changed since 2004. Is that dog going to hunt again this year?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the defining question John. It's interesting. The president uses that line in part to inspire, to give some energy to Republican base. Criticizing the Democrats, the party of cut and run, but he's also trying to bait the Democrats. In the past they have taken the bait. Then they have a debate among themselves. They say, we're not trying to cut and run but then we focus in on our news accounts. This congresswoman would say bring the troops home now. Someone else says do it in six months. Someone else says do it in a year and it becomes about the Democrats.

What's different in this campaign is so far the Democrats aren't taking the bait. They're focusing their aim as Dana just said, squarely on the president and that is the question of the campaign. Both the Democrats and the president have a credibility challenge. The Americans are doubting. The American people doubt the war in Iraq and they also doubt the Democrats. The Democrats are trying to say, change course. Put us in charge, at least at the congressional level. We can get this war back on track. The voters will decide that in about five weeks and we're going to hear a lot of this.

ROBERTS: Dana, did the Democrats have a lot more discipline this year than they did in 2004? Have they got some people who are sort of cracking the whip, keeping them shepherded, aimed toward the same goal here, focused in on what's important?

BASH: They certainly are determined to be more focused John. That is a good word and determined is another good word for what they're trying to do politically here because over and over again, you hear terms from Democratic leaders like we're not going to be swift voted. That, of course, a reference to what happened to Senator John Kerry during the 2004 campaign. They don't just think it. They say it publicly over and over again, almost to remind the rank and file -- don't just take it. That's something that the Democrats -- you see them doing. The reason why they don't wait at all for the president -- when the president comes up and he takes a swing at them, they rush to the cameras to swing right back at them and that's another reason why you really saw the frenzy at the end of this session because they realize that the bottom line is the president really has the megaphone. They know that, so they're doing what they can to get out there before the cameras, before everybody scurries off to the campaign trail. ROBERTS: And they really had a heavy hitter out last Sunday as well, former President Clinton appearing on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. Wallace asked him if he had done enough to try to get bin Laden when he was president. Here's how Clinton fired back on that front.


WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed.


ROBERTS: And then of course he went on to excoriate Fox News and said that this was a real hit job. This seems to be a new tack, not only attack Republicans, attack the right and at the same time, try to give the rest of the Democratic party a spine transplant.

KING: I got most of these gray hairs covering Bill Clinton. He is a masterful politician, probably the best of his generation. And I talked to several people close to him after that interview and they said, look, he went in there looking to pick a fight for a number of reasons. Number one, he didn't like the question. He didn't like the ABC miniseries suggesting perhaps he didn't do enough about bin Laden, so some of it is personal, but some of it is again to the very point we're talking about. He's trying to set an example for Democrats in this campaign. Do not blink. Do not wait to be on defense. Be on offense on this issue, fight, fight, fight. He's going to be on the campaign trail this final month. (INAUDIBLE) see more of this too.

ROBERTS: And what was really interesting is immediately after that instead of the Democrats being on defense, it was the White House that was on defense. Here's how Condi Rice responded to that. She says what he did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years. We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda. And then here is how Senator Hillary Clinton came back and responded to that the same day.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D) NEW YORK: I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States, he would have taken it more seriously than history suggested it was taken by our current president and his national security team.


ROBERTS: So wrap this all up for us, Dana Bash.

Is this the new face of the Democratic Party that we're seeing this year and is this what they are counting on to win election November 7th?

BASH: I think it's part of it, part of the new face they want to have on the Democratic Party this year.

But there's something else. Remember the date. It's, you know, about four weeks, four-and-a-half weeks, until election day. So the name of the game for Democrats and Republicans is ginning up the base, making them understand that if they go out and vote, and vote for Democrats, that they're going to get what they want.

And so that's what you saw from Bill Clinton. That's what you just heard from Hillary Clinton. And that's what you're hearing from every Democrat up here.

there was a little bit of concern in talking to, frankly, the chairman of the Democratic Party that they peaked too early when you look at the polls and so forth. So that's what you're seeing from the Democrats.

And, again, the same thing from Republicans.

ROBERTS: Well, it was an absolutely terrific war of words this week. And for that we thank both the Democrats and the Republicans and the White House. And, hopefully, more to come.

Dana Bash, John King, thanks very much.

Up next, we'll take a look at that how terrorists from around the world find their way to the war in Iraq. That and more after a check of the top headlines this hour.

Stay with us.


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: More of THIS WEEK AT WAR in just a moment.

But first, a look at what's happening right now in the news.

And there's more fallout from the latest scandal to rock Capitol Hill.

The White House weighed in today, saying it's surprised and disappointed about allegations Mark Foley sent explicit messages to a male page. Now, the Republican congressman resigned yesterday. And shortly after, the House voted to investigate the matter.

A highway overpass has collapsed near Montreal, injuring at least five people. Two vehicles are still trapped under concrete. Crews have now brought in cranes to try to pull them out.

Tonight at 8:00, don't miss a brand new "CNN PRESENTS" special -- "RUMSFELD: MAN OF WAR." We're going to go beyond the defense secretary's tough facade right here on CNN.

That's what's happening right now in the news.

Now back to THIS WEEK AT WAR.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not surprised the enemy is exploiting the situation in Iraq and using it as a propaganda tool to try to recruit more people to their -- to their murderous ways.


ROBERTS: President Bush speaking on Tuesday at the White House. A new report released this week claims that more terrorists worldwide may take up arms to join the fight in Iraq because of the Iraq war. The National Intelligence Estimate says the Iraq Jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives, perceived Jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

But how do terrorists from all over the world make it to the battleground in Iraq and back?

CNN military analyst, Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks is here to show us the path that terrorists take to war.

First of all, General Marks, give us the lay of the land. Tell us where we are, where this is in relation to the rest of the war.

BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): John, let's step back just for a sec. In Iraq, you know, you have 18 provinces. But more importantly than just the provinces, in each one of these provincial governance has considerable power. You've got the religious fault lines that are very, very obvious -- the Shias with predominant influence from Iran, the Sunnis from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and then the Kurds -- little spoken about -- the Kurds. And they're kind of sitting back waiting to see what happens in Iraq.

ROBERTS: The one part of the country that's relatively stable.

MARKS: Up north.

ROBERTS: Where are the attacks coming from?

MARKS: The attacks primarily are in the Al Anbar Province and in the vicinity of Baghdad, as you can see right here. Now, the population centers, obviously, are right here. But this is where most of the fault lines are in terms of where the former Ba'athists are and where the confluence of al Qaeda in Iraq, former Ba'athists and other insurgents that are coming from abroad.

So, very quickly, obviously, this is not all homegrown insurgency. But...

ROBERTS: Yes, al Qaeda, having quite a deal of success recruiting people from outside of the country. I mean you had that since the war began.

MARKS: Very much so. Porous borders not controlled, as you can see, just representative here. A lot of opportunities and rat lines, if you will, coming in from Iran and in from Syria to influence what's going on.

But let's back up and take a bigger view of the larger Southwest Asia, North Africa. And as you can see right here in green, these are the nations that are fundamentally Muslim, OK? These are the contributors to the fight. Let's be honest with each other.

Let's focus in just for a second on a young man who might be in Bosnia or Herzegovina, who, during the '90s was involved, or whose parents were involved in this incredible struggle that took place.

ROBERTS: And there were a lot of Mujahedeen, as well, that came from the Afghanistan theater over to Bosnia (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MARKS: Exactly. That has been a tremendous transference of knowledge in terms of military operations and insurgencies.

So a young man who self-radicalizes himself in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who goes online, reads a little bit, wants to be a part of this fight, goes to a mosque, gets recruited and then they validate whether this young man really wants to be a part of it. He makes his way to Turkey some way, hops on a plane, drives down.

From Turkey, he's now in the network. He gets into Syria. Let's say he goes to Damascus. There's some additional training that takes place and some validation. He's ready and they're ready to have him join the team. He goes to Al-Kheima, for example, one of the border towns. And then a couple of hops and he's into Fallujah, as an example.

Once that young man is in Fallujah, he is part of it. There is no way out. He might have been recruited because he thinks he's going to attack a U.S. formation. He's now told strap this on and go after these young women and their children that are in a cue waiting to go into a market. That's the cynicism of this recruitment effort.

ROBERTS: And there is a network outside of Iraq that can funnel these people through and into Iraq? You were saying that there are a couple of places along the road, like Damascus, maybe Turkey, but that network spreads far and wide across the globe?

MARKS: Absolutely. Once you're into this system, the network then activates and that young man is now a recruit and he will be handled until his employment.

ROBERTS: Spider Marks, thanks very much for the intel.

MARKS: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Appreciate it.

What has had more impact on the course of the fighting in Iraq than the secretary of defense?

Straight ahead, a unique look at Donald Rumsfeld and his efforts to reshape the U.S. military as he oversees two wars.


ROBERTS: The saying "there's no place like home" took on special meaning this week for members of California's National Guard. Nearly 100 soldiers from the Guard's 49th Military Police Brigade returned from an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq to some very happy and relieved family members.

Here's how Major John Paoletti put it.


MAJOR JOHN PAOLETTI, CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD: They're the most important thing in the world to me and I can't -- I can't even put it into words. It was -- it's great to come home. I'm glad to be back and back to normal.


ROBERTS: What's even more special for Major Paoletti is that he and his wife Michelle get to celebrate their wedding anniversary together next week.

Well, back in Iraq, is it fair to call the conflict Rumsfeld's war?

His critics are ready to heap on the blame. His supporters point to the success of the initial invasion, quick defeat of Saddam Hussein and the unexpected ferocity of the insurgency.

Helping us to look at the defense secretary and the war, CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno. He's at the CNN Center in Atlanta. He, by the way, is hosting the new "CNN PRESENTS" documentary, "RUMSFELD: MAN OF WAR," which rolls out this weekend at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Also joining me, senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

Let's begin with an example of the defense secretary's style.



MAJ. GEN. JOHN RIGGS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): If you press the military, like the generals, so far, they will eventually say yes, sir, Mr. Secretary, three bags full. We'll take what you've given us and we'll do the best we can with it.


FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I put the issue directly to the secretary.

(on camera): I mean, could somebody come in and slam the desk and say, you're wrong?


SESNO: And you say?

RUMSFELD: I say, why? Explain it. Make your case. Let's hear it. And I say, talk about it. Tell me about it. And have we ended up adjusting or changing or calibrating. it


ROBERTS: Frank Sesno, how does his style affect his strategy and is dissent in private much different with him than dissent in public, as we remember General Eric Shinseki doing?

SESNO: Well, the whole discussion, whenever you have a discussion about Secretary Rumsfeld, it inevitably comes back to his style. We talked to a lot of generals on camera, off camera, privately, publicly. And what you hear is, you know, he's a tough character. Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs, says he likes mental body contact. If you're going to go up against him, you'd better well be prepared.

So it does affect the dynamic of the meetings, the kind of advice he gets, whether somebody is going to be very strong and very forceful. And they'd better be prepared. And what he's prepared to listen to.

ROBERTS: Yes, you know, I've talked to some people who traveled with him, Pentagon correspondents, who say he likes that mental jousting. He thinks that it keeps him activated, it keeps him engaged.

SESNO: Well, you know, I was talking to General Jack Keane. He's a retired general, an ally of Rumsfeld's, actually. He used to be number two over at the Army, vice chief of staff. And he says look, Rumsfeld's strength is that he's decisive. His weakness is that he can be stubborn. And anybody, he says, if you're going to, you know, move him off of a decision that he's made, you've got to be armed with the facts and you'd better be prepared to stand up in a very compelling way and sometimes in front of people.

We got some stories of some incredible dressings down that the secretary would do of generals in front of their colleagues, many felt, to make a case study, to make an example out of them.

ROBERTS: Well, he certainly has drawn his fair share of critics, among them, many retired generals. And here's one of the most vocal for you.

This is a quick listen to what retired Major General John Batiste had to say about Rumsfeld on Capitol Hill on Monday.


MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Secretary Rumsfeld's dismal strategic decisions resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American service men and women, our allies and the good people of Iraq.


ROBERTS: Jamie McIntyre, if not outright admitting mistakes, does Rumsfeld at least acknowledge that certain aspects of Iraq have not gone as well as he had hoped that they would?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he does. He acknowledged about a year into the war that the casualties were higher than they expected at that point and he acknowledges in that interview with Frank Sesno that he did underestimate the insurgency.

But one of the things about Rumsfeld is he's very hesitant to admit that he's wrong about something. In fact, he usually believes he's not wrong about it. And when you hear generals like General Batiste criticize him, Rumsfeld will say, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there are many generals in the Army who don't share his views.

ROBERTS: Right. So, as to the issue of his standing, take a look at what General John Abizaid is reported to have said. This is, at least, according to Bob Woodward's new book, which is coming out next week. It is reported in the "New York Times."

General John Abizaid is reported to have told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that Rumsfeld doesn't have any credibility anymore to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq.

Jamie, has his authority within the administration diminished? Has he become the eccentric old uncle who's ignored, as Maureen Dowd from the "New York Times," put it earlier this week?

MCINTYRE: You know, when I asked him about Maureen Dowd, he basically just said oh, don't believe everything you read with Maureen Dowd.

But, it's interesting, because Abizaid is a -- is clearly an independent thinker of his own. About the day after I asked Rumsfeld whether Iraq was descending into a guerrilla war -- and he brushed it aside -- Abizaid, a couple of days later, basically said yes.

ROBERTS: Yes, right.

MCINTYRE: We're in a guerrilla war. So clearly he wasn't intimidated by the fact that Rumsfeld had sort of laid that marker down.

ROBERTS: Frank Sesno, wrap this up for us.

Is Donald Rumsfeld going to survive?

I don't imagine that the administration would toss him overboard before the November elections.

But how much longer after that might he be around?

SESNO: Well, that's a very interesting question. No way before the November election. No way, I think, that Rumsfeld leaves on his own. He has a standard response when he's asked this question -- "I serve at the pleasure of the president." And it's gong to be up to the president and the president's advisers to decide whether Rumsfeld's time has come or gone.

He hits a milestone at the end of December when he becomes the longest serving secretary of defense in history. So I think we'll have to see.

If the president wants to put a new team in place to try to redefine or redirect what's happening in Iraq and the perception of what's happening in Iraq, it's certainly a place to watch, the Pentagon...

ROBERTS: Well...


ROBERTS: ... and certainly Rumsfeld has survived some trying times before.

Frank Sesno in Atlanta, thanks.

Jamie McIntyre, as well, who, by the way, is the funniest journalist in Washington, who was voted that on Thursday night.

Don't miss "CNN PRESENTS: RUMSFELD: MAN OF WAR" tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Just ahead, our correspondent Michael Ware travels the dangerous streets of Ramadi with the U.S. Marines. His firsthand report places you in the middle of the fight.

Stay with us.


ROBERTS: How wide is the gulf between the political discussion here in Washington over the war in Iraq and the life and death fight facing U.S. Marines in the back streets of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, in Anbar Province?

CNN's Michael Ware filed this report on Thursday.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The angry debate over the war in Iraq. Does it stop or actually create brand new Islamic militants means little to these guys. No doubt here, their enemy is al Qaeda.

LANCE CORPORAL BEAMER DIAZ, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Most people here are willing to die for each other. So, pretty much it happens over here.

WARE: This is where it happens -- Ramadi. At this moment, Marines closing around a fallen comrade. It began 30 minutes earlier. A patrol watching the al Qaeda controlled streets from a rooftop, when an insurgent sniper surprises them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you see where that came from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, directly in front of me.

WARE: Next, the Marines pushed home only 600 feet back to their outpost. When they're hit, caught in a killing zone, crossfire from two directions. Somehow only one Marine, Lance Corporal Philip Tussey, is hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it gets pretty crazy, you know? There's a lot of times you're just sitting around, nothing's going on and all of a sudden, a few seconds later, you're in a big firefight just fighting, trying to stay alive.

WARE: This was the 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment's war -- 600 plus men ordered to go head to head with al Qaeda in downtown Ramadi in a battle their general admits he does not have enough troops to win.

CORPORAL DONALD BRIER, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Definitely, I -- I lost one good friend and -- but I've talked to his wife. I've talked to his family. And they're all coping well, so I know I can cope well. If they can, I can.

WARE: These Marines fought day in, day out, repelling al Qaeda assaults from their outpost. A few blocks down, the men draw an ambush in another street. The fight moves to a rooftop. In seven months, this battalion suffered 17 dead, more than many brigades of 5,000 in Iraq lose in an entire year.


ROBERTS: Life on the dangerous streets of Ramadi.

Who's calling on President Bush next week about the fighting in Iraq?

Back on that in a moment.

But first, a look at those who fell in this week at war.


ROBERTS: Well, Congress adjourned for the fall election campaign this week amid an enormous sense of deja vu. President Bush's blistering attack on the Democrats as the party of cut and run-looks like a page right out of the 2004 campaign. The president is again making the case that America will be less safe if Democrats control Congress.

Regardless of your political leanings, it's impossible not to acknowledge that a lot has happened in the past two years. Another 1,300 U.S. deaths in Iraq, almost 10,000 injuries and a shift in public opinion where three in five Americans now think the war in Iraq was a mistake.

There's a lot for voters to consider in this election, arguments to be made on both sides. We can only hope that considering what's at stake for the country in this campaign we'll see a reasonable and rational debate of the facts. But given what's at stake politically, well, that would seem unlikely.

Here's some of what we'll be looking at next week.

On Monday, President Bush will meet with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan at the White House. The prime minister objected to what he called ugly remarks when Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Turkey had meddled in Iraq's affairs.

Also on Monday, what could be a final vote in the United Nations Security Council on the replacement next year for Kofi Annan as the next secretary general.

And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will make the rounds in the Middle East, with stops expected in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Thanks for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR.

I'm John Roberts.

Straight ahead, a look at the headlines.

Then, "CNN PRESENTS: RUMSFELD: MAN OF WAR," an unprecedented, up close look at U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.