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Your World Today

New Strategy for Iraq; International Reaction to U.S. Troop Increase; British Star Leaves Real Madrid for L.A. Galaxy

Aired January 11, 2007 - 12:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: George W. Bush prepares Americans for more sacrifices. We're going to get reaction from U.S. allies and Washington, where aides are being grilled on the plan to send thousand more troops to war in Iraq.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, in the war against terrorism there are worldwide protests on the 5th anniversary of the U.S. military's notorious Guantanamo Bay prison.

CLANCY: And good-bye Madrid, hello L.A. Soccer superstar David Beckham makes a sensational move to play Major League Soccer in America.

It's 9:00 in the morning in Los Angeles, California, 8:00 at night in Baghdad, Iraq.

Hello and welcome to our report broadcast around the world.

I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani.

From Madrid, to L.A., to Baghdad, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

"We cannot afford to fail." Those words from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a day after President George W. Bush unveiled his long-awaited strategy for Iraq.

GORANI: Rice and other top administration officials are promoting that plan today to a skeptical America public, in some cases, and a newly-elected Congress. President Bush's new approach calls for more than 21,000 troops to the battlefield to stabilize Iraq. That's the hope, that's the plan. The Pentagon says it isn't clear how long the military buildup will last.

CLANCY: Defense Secretary Roberts Gates also on the offensive, if you want to say that, supporting the president, outlining some other major changes for armed forces. He's recommending an overall increase in the U.S. military.


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


CLANCY: In his speech, the president went to great length to frame his strategy as an Iraqi plan. He says his patience with the current Iraqi government is wearing thin.


BUSH: I have made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people. And it will lose the support of the Iraqi people.

Now is the time to act. The prime minister understands this.


GORANI: Well, similar statements from the secretary of state, also out there promoting the president's plan. She said the Iraqi prime minister knows his government is on borrowed time. Rice leaves Friday for a tour of Middle East nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Israel to consult with their leaders.

CLANCY: Meantime, on the streets on Iraq, early reaction has been one that was weighed down with skepticism. While some welcome the plan to put aside more money for Iraq, others are suspicious and many want U.S. troops to leave.

Ryan Chilcote has a survey.


RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Bush's speech aired live on Iraqi state TV, but many Iraqis couldn't watch it because they have no electricity. Still, slowly, the headlines are getting out.

The reaction? After living with growing violence for three years, many Baghdad residents are deeply skeptical that more U.S. troops will help.

"For four years we have seen nothing," says Tariq al-Shekli (ph), a 55-year-old Sunni. "Bush should present the Iraqis with a more drastic solution. He should have announced a bolder plan that would have included a timetable for withdrawing the existing troops."

A smaller number of Iraqis felt more U.S. troops were the last best option, saying Iraq's own army is too weak and too partial to handle what amount to a sectarian civil war. "It's a good move," says Hamid Selmon (ph). "I hope they can apply it well so that security becomes a normal thing and people can live happily."

One part of the president's speech that seemed popular, a promise to invest more money in Iraq. Unemployment now stands at 40 percent.

"Beautiful," says this 20-year-old Shiite who lives in the poor Sadr City area. "We would be very happy with a plan to create more jobs."

Iraq's armed groups of all stripes have also reacted. From the Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda in Iraq predictably called on its followers to step up attacks on American troops. And a representative from Iraq's largest Shiite militia, the Mehdi army, which the U.S. says must be disarmed, told CNN the U.S. should withdraw its troops, not add more.

Iraq's parliament will debate the plan at its next session. One Shiite lawmaker is already making his views very clear.

"The increase of occupation troops is unacceptable and rejected. We are looking forward to the departure of these troops."

(on camera): President Bush also said the U.S. would continue to take action against allegedly Iranian interference in Iraq. Thursday, the Iraqi government announced U.S. troops had raided an Iranian liaison office in northern Iraq, arresting several people. The U.S. military would only confirm that an operation was ongoing in the city of Erbil.

Ryan Chilcote, CNN, Baghdad.


GORANI: Well, other countries that have troops in Iraq are throwing their support behind President Bush's new strategy. But they're not following his lead in sending more troops into battle.

Nic Robertson has more on how the world is reacting to the new U.S. war plan.


BUSH: The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): What was noticeable in its absence from President Bush's speech was any mention of coalition partners. Even his staunchest allies, while backing his new Iraq strategy, are backing away from sending more troops themselves. JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: I never rule out sending more forces. However, I don't see any need at the present time. And I have not been asked to send more forces.

ROBERTSON: In Europe, reaction from former troop contributing U.S. partners in Iraq, notably Italy and Spain, was almost deafening in its silence. Only Britain, with over 7,000 soldiers in the relatively stable south of Iraq, around Basra, made a point of demonstrating support. Like Australia, though, in the face of domestic demands to pull troops out, not offering to send any more troops in.

MARGARET BECKETT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: It is not our intention at the present time to send more troops. Indeed, we are hoping to continue to make progress in dealing with the position in Basra and giving more responsibility to Iraqi elements, to Iraqi forces, and so on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The assumption behind that answer is that there will be no deplacement of terrorist activity from Baghdad to Basra.

ROBERTSON: Indeed, in the hours just before President Bush's speech, British prime minister Tony Blair was in the House of Commons addressing concerns that as America sends more troops to Baghdad, British forces could face a violence backlash in the south.

He ducked the question, talking up the importance of the alliance with the United States.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: In my view, the alliance with the United States of America, since I assume that that is what he's attacking, the alliance of Britain with the United States of America, in my view, is in the British national interest.

ROBERTSON: An indication of the heightening political stakes over Iraq, Britain's opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, whose party are natural Republican allies, questioned President Bush's new strategy.

WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I am very skeptical about sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, I must say. There have been previous attempts to send more American troops into Baghdad only a few months ago, and these did not succeed in quelling the insurgency.

ROBERTSON (on camera): President Bush's other principal ally with soldiers in Iraq, South Korea, expressed support for his increase in troops, despite the fact it plans to pull out almost half its 2,300 service members in the coming months. America's strategy, outside Iraq, at least, looks increasingly isolated.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


GORANI: All right. Well, we would like to know what you, our viewers, thinks about President Bush's new plan for Iraq.

CLANCY: We've heard from just about everybody else. E-mail us your thoughts to our inbox. The address, Be sure to include your name and where you're writing from.

We're going to read some of these responses on the air, aren't we, Hala?

GORANI: Absolutely. All right. Looking forward to reading some of your thoughts and comments.

But we're going to take a short break here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: Coming up, though, the plan is unveiled, but there is still a lot of selling to do.

Can we call it that?

GORANI: Just ahead, we'll have much more on the new U.S. strategy for Iraq. We'll go live to the White House. We'll get reaction and explanations from there.


GORANI: Welcome back, everyone.

CLANCY: You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY, where we bring CNN international and U.S. viewers up to speed on some of the most important international stories of the day.

GORANI: And one of the most important international stories, of course, U.S. President Bush and his announcement yesterday, admitting mistakes and carefully mapping out a new course to end the war in Iraq.

That long-awaited speech is now over, of course, but the White House still has a lot of work to do to win support for the plan. Not just outside of the U.S., but inside.

Let's bring in White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino.

Thanks for being with us.

One of the things that struck me in the president's speech yesterday, Dana, was the singling out of Iran and Syria, saying they're destabilizing forces in this whole process. Not at all recommending talking directly to those two nations.

Where were threats really directed at them yesterday?

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Surely the United States is not the one being threatening. And we are not the ones being meddlesome and troublesome in Iraq.

The president was very plainspoken yesterday, as he should be, when he was talking to the American people about his new way forward in Iraq. And one of the most important things that people need to understand is what we are finding there with Iran's meddlesomeness in the region.

And of course we are supportive of the neighbors getting along there in the region. And Secretary Rice is headed to the region tomorrow to help further that.

But no, the president is not going to do one-on-one talks with Iran and Syria at this time.

GORANI: So, in other words, if Iran and Syria do not discontinue the kind of behavior that the president considers meddlesome or destabilizing, then what happens?

PERINO: Well, Secretary Rice said that she has been willing to meet with her Iranian counterpart any time, anywhere, if they stop the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of uranium. They know exactly what they need to do. And that's not just an American demand. That is an international demand.

And so, Secretary Rice will be heading to the region, and we'll see, you know, what she's able to accomplish while she's there.

GORANI: All right. But the question is, or what? Or what happens?

PERINO: We're going to continue to move forward on this plan. What the president talked about last night is a new way forward in Iraq that will produce dramatically different results from what we were seeing before. The president was unsatisfied and the American people were unsatisfied, and rightly so.

GORANI: All right. Let me -- then let's move on to the plan itself.

It relies a lot on the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, cooperating and being effective. The national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, in a leaked memo just last November said he either Maliki was ignorant or incapable. What has changed then in the last two months?

PERINO: I think the other thing that the Hadley memo said is that he believes that Maliki has the will to do it. And what he needs is some help with the capabilities. And that's what the president has said, that he believes that with this government, that is only nine months old -- now, being nine months old is not an excuse for inaction. The president said they must step up. But they need some support in order to secure the population, to make sure that the innocent people are protected.

And that's what the president's going to do -- be able to do by providing more troops. But it's Prime Minister Maliki who came to the president in Amman, Jordan, that same meeting in November that you were talking about, and he provided this plan to the president, and then the president had his military and diplomatic experts review it. And they told him that with a little bit more American support in the capital city, we can secure the situation and allow for the political and economic reforms to take root and to grow into mature institutions.

GORANI: OK. So it's a question of will then. Perhaps that's changed.

Thanks so much.

Dana Perino, the deputy White House press secretary, joining us on YOUR WORLD TODAY -- Jim.

PERINO: Thanks.

CLANCY: I am reminded that sometimes international news makes for strange bedfellows. That is the case today.

We're going to from the battlefield of Iraq to Beckham on the playing field.

David Beckham, of course, creating a lot of hoopla now. The word is coming in that he is headed not for another contract with Real Madrid, but headed to Los Angeles.

Let's bring in Pedro Pinto. He is in Madrid right now.

Pedro, a bit of a shocker here, I think, for some people.

PEDRO PINTO, REPORTER: Definitely. A lot of people are thinking that this is too early for David Beckham, to head to the United States. He's only 31. He could have renewed for another couple of seasons with Real Madrid. He could have gone to another top European club.

However, he decided that this was the right time. David Beckham apparently had already made up his mind.

And I have to be honest with you, the read I get from what has happened here today in Madrid is, basically, David Beckham had already decided in the last days that he was going to move to the United States. There was a supposed meeting today between his representatives and club officials.

I don't even really know if this meeting took place, because apparently everything was decided. How wouldn't it be decided if Beckham had already recorded an interview with Major League Soccer in which he explained why he was moving to the states right now?


DAVID BECKHAM, FOOTBALL STAR: I have played now for two of the biggest clubs in the world. I have played at the highest level for 15 years. And now I think that I need another challenge.

I have enjoyed my time in Spain. It's been an incredible experience for me and the family. You know, the kids have loved the school. We only bought the house here a year ago. But I think, you know, another challenge has come up. And I think it's the right time for us to do it.

I don't want to go out to America at 34 years old, and people would be turning around and saying, well, he's only going there to get the money. You know, it's not what I'm going out there to do. I'm going out there to -- to hopefully build, you know, a club and a team that has got a lot of potential. I that's what excites me.


PINTO: He may not be going out there for the money, but there's no doubt he's going to get a lot richer. The numbers I have been hearing about his contract is $250 million over five years. It's still unclear whether that amount, the $250 million, is going to be paid exclusively for his salary, or if it already includes some of the endorsement deals with Major League Soccer.

Whichever way you look at it, it's a huge deal not only in Europe, also in the United States. There's no question David Beckham will be a poster boy for the sport. He really could give the sport a huge boost in the United States, considering that Major League Soccer has really been in a lull over the last seasons.

You may remember, Jim, that a few years ago, a few decades ago, Franz Beckenbauer headed to the United States, Pele headed to the United States. And there was a huge buzz about the sport. Since then, really nothing. And Beckham is going change that.

CLANCY: You know, I'm reminded of Pele coming to the United States. And, of course, his career had already ended by the time that he entered here. And a lot of people said he was doing it for the money.

What other figures come to mind, though -- $250 million?

PINTO: It's a huge contract. And obviously, he was not a poor boy here in Real Madrid. He was making a lot of money here as well.

There were some talk about obviously his renegotiating contract over the next two weeks, that his earnings could decrease a little bit. A big issue also is his image rights.

Real Madrid held a big percentage of his image rights. So every time he had an endorsement deal with a major company, Real Madrid would get a big chunk of that money.

Obviously, now heading to Major League Soccer, Major League Soccer will also have a say in what Beckham can do and what he can't. But as far as personal endorsements, I think he'll be able to reap all the rewards.

I think this is a huge story not only from a sporting perspective, because you have David Beckham, who is twice football of the year runner-up, but also commercially. You have to take a look at it from an European perspective, and also from an American perspective -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right. Pedro Pinto, as always, there in Madrid, thank you very much.

We're going to take a short break.

GORANI: Absolutely.

CLANCY: When we come back, we'll tell you a story of a little girl who's had to face the recent death of her father.

GORANI: But with the help of her mom, this 8-year-old has managed to carry on with his work. And she's now embarking on a tour of America.

We'll introduce you to Bindi coming up.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Heidi Collins at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes, but first a check on stories making headlines in the United States.

After the president's big speech, the big push on Capitol Hill. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and defense chief Robert Gates appearing today before lawmakers. Rice before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Democrats, now in control of Congress, gave a chilly reception to the president's plan.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We heard a plan to escalate the war not only in Iraq, but possibly into Iran and Syria as well. I believe the president's strategy is not a solution, Secretary Rice. I believe that it's a tragic mistake.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Americans broadly agree. And we in the administration count ourselves among them that the situation in Iraq is unacceptable.


COLLINS: Democrats vow to challenge the plan. Some Republicans cautious in their support. Among them, John McCain. He cites concern over the stability of Iraq's government and its prime minister.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am concerned about Maliki and his strength. I am concerned as to whether these are a sufficient number of troops. All of us have additional concerns. But I do believe it can succeed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: Fighting back tears, the proud parents of a fallen Marine accept their son's honor. President Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Marine Corporal Jason Dunham's mother and father at a White House ceremony.

The president praised Dunham for giving his life during an insurgent attack in Iraq. The 22-year-old jumped on a grenade using his helmet and his body to absorb the blast. He died from his injuries a few days later.


BUSH: On a dusty road in western Iraq, Corporal Dunham gave his own life so that the men under his command might live. This morning, it's my privilege to recognize Corporal Dunham's devotion to the Corps and country and to present his family with the Medal of Honor.


COLLINS: The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military decoration. Dunham is only the second Iraq War recipient of the prestigious award.

Another face in the White House race. Democrat Christopher Dodd says he'll file to run for president in 2008. The Connecticut senator bypassing the exploratory committee route.

Here's a look at where Dodd stands on two major issues, Iraq and taxes.

He proposed a five-point plan for Iraq, a phased redeployment of troops over a 12 to 18-month period, and improved recruitment and training of Iraqi security forces. Dodd says Americans would be safer had the U.S. never invaded Iraq.

On taxes, Dodd voted against extending the president's 2003 tax cut law. Dodd supports tax incentives for businesses that invest in employee benefits.

Senator Dodd will join Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" today. You can watch that beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern

Democratic White House hopefuls should plan on making mile-high reservations for 2008. Party sources say Denver is the choice to host the next Democratic national convention. The 2008 convention will be held August 25th through the 28th.

Who's the daddy? That's what the judge in the Duke University lacrosse case wants to know. The woman who claims she was raped last March gave birth to a little girl a few days ago. Both the prosecution and defense say the pregnancy is unrelated to the night in question. But the judge ordered a paternity test to silence any doubt.

Rape charges against the three Duke players have been dropped. They still face charges of sexual offense and kidnapping. House members revisit a controversial bill, the ethics and science of embryonic stem cell research. Democrats want to lift funding limits set by President Bush in 2001. Supporters believe stem cells hold hope for new cures. Opponents object to killing embryos to obtain the cells.

A yea vote is expected, and just like the first time this bill crossed his desk, President Bush plans to veto it.

Let's get a check of weather conditions around the country.


COLLINS: Stay with CNN. Defense Secretary Gates will be in the "NEWSROOM" at 1:00 p.m.

And meanwhile, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break.

I'm Heidi Collins.



GORANI: President Bush's plan was sharply criticized by many Democrats in America, and several Republicans as well at the hearing.

One Republican senator said the president's speech was a major mistake.


CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: When you set in motion the kind of policy that the president's talking about here is very, very dangerous. As a matter of fact, I have to say, Madame Secretary, that I think this speech, given last night by this president, represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam if it's carried out. I will resist it.


CLANCY: Well, meantime, the president's Democratic opponents have been swift as well and unflinching in their criticism.


HARRY REID, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: The president in choosing escalation, ignored the will of people, the advice of the Baker- Hamilton Commission and a significant number of top generals, two of whom were commanders in the field. In choosing to escalate the war, the president virtually stands alone.

DICK DURBIN, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: If there's any surge that we need it's a surge in diplomacy. We need to have countries in that region, in the Middle East, who are interested in the stability, ultimate stability of Iraq, to get involved in its future. We can't do this alone.


CLANCY: Well, Democratic senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry says the president's speech did not address all of the core issues that face Iraq. We asked him earlier if he thought that the president had accepted responsibility for the situation in Iraq today.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: First of all, last night, the president said mistakes had been made. He didn't say they were his. And he accepted responsibility for those mistakes. He didn't say I made mistakes. So there is a distinction.

Secondly, what was absent from the president's speech last night, regrettably, was the political solution, the diplomatic political solution that is critical to ending the violence. The president, the secretary of state, the former secretary of defense, our generals, have all said, that this can not be resolve military.

And yet all you heard last night was really the military piece of this. If you don't resolve the question of oil revenues, if you don't resolve the federalism issues between Sunni and Shia, you don't have a hope to end to this sectarian violence. And unless the principal leaders, Mr. Hakim of the SCIRI Party, Muqtada al-Sadr and Mr. Maliki, et cetera, all come together, this is not going to end. The violence won't end, and our additional troops will be put at greater risk, become a bigger target, and we'll have been down this road before.

You're putting forward a bill, which would demand that the president get Congress' approval to increase these troop levels. Doesn't it just face an obvious veto? What would be the effect?

KERRY: The effect is to make it clear that we're exercising our constitutional responsibility and our responsibility to troops, frankly. You know, these young people are amazingly courageous. Their lives are on the line. We owe it to them to have the best policy for them. And I don't think we want them being sent out on missions that are preordained to fail, or to put them at a higher level of risk without resolving the fundamental problems in Iraq itself.

CLANCY: We have heard have heard from troops in Iraq that they want more boots on the ground. They can not control the situation. Now doesn't that call for some kind of engagement here?

KERRY: What it calls for, and I think they would be the first to say it, is that they don't want just an endless revolving door of violence. The violence, you have to get at the cause of it. The cause of it is the fundamental insecurity of different entities in Iraq, with respect to their future. The Sunni want to come back to power. They believe they were born to it. They believe it's their right, and their uncomfortable without sufficient oil revenues, and guarantees of a national state. The Shia, on the other hand, were oppressed by the Sunni for years. They now have the power, won at the ballot and they have a desire to sort of have a kind of separate federalist without a strong central government, and that's the fundamental tension.

As long as those politicians continue to use the American security blanket as a cover for them pursuing their own goals and ends underneath that blanket, we're in trouble. You have to resolve those fundamental differences. And I saw nothing in the president's plan that says those differences are resolved.

CLANCY: Now there are many people that believe today, Muqtadr al-Sadr, backed by Iran, is the most important politician who literally may hold the future of Iraq in his hands. Many of the same people who stood on the sidelines, in what you termed a couple of years ago as misleading the U.S. public into war with Iraq, are calling for a confrontation with Iran. Would you support a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, knowing it could open up a new front with Iran?

KERRY: No, I think that that would be a very bad idea right now. That is not the first option of what we should engage in with respect to Iran. I certainly wouldn't be against a hot pursuit. I mean, if we catch people coming across the border, or they're firing on our troops, or they're engaging directly and unsettling Iraq, and we catch that, I think we have a right to respond to it.

But I think a proactive effort that at this time, starts to think militarily, with respect to Iran, is wrong-headed and dangerous.

I think we need to engage Iran. I would have liked the president last night to talk more about the diplomatic solution that he's seeking, a political resolution. We should have heard talk of a summit, of a major conference of all the neighbors, and partners and the factions in Iraq, to bring them all to the table and try to drive a resolution to this.

Without that, I'm afraid that this add-on of troops is not going to get the job done.

And if you really want to, you know, pacify Iraq in a military form, you need something like 500,000 troops or more. So this is a token effort, which is trying to send a message to the Iraqi leadership. I think the Iraqi leadership should be required to step up before American troops have to further put themselves on the line.


CLANCY: All right, let's go back now to your inbox question.

GORANI: All right, now we asked you what you think about President's Bush's new plan for Iraq?

CLANCY: All right, we're getting a lot of different viewpoints as we look this over. And some of them coming in now from the United States, pretty strong stuff. This from a colonel, Colin Sheret (ph) -- I hope I'm pronouncing it right -- from the U.S. Air Force. He says, "What I should like to hear the president say is this: Since I missed the Vietnam conflict, I will join the U.S. troops on the ground, rifle in hand, to know firsthand what war is like, stay with them, until I decide when to bring them home."

GORANI: Well, We have Albert White also writing in: "Sending more troops to kill more Iraqi," writes Albert, "will only increase the hatred toward the United States. The emphasis needs to be on promoting reconciliation between Shia and Sunni, and also talking to the surrounding countries, including according to Albert White in Wyoming, Syria and Iran."

CLANCY: All right, there's overwhelmingly negative reaction to all of this, but there is some positive reaction supporting the president's plan as well.

GORANI: There are.

CLANCY: Some people saying that, you know, they have to really face up to it, bite the bullet and understand they even need more troops than that to get the job done.

OK, we're going to take a short break.

GORANI: All right. Stay with us. You're with YOUR WORLD TODAY.


GORANI: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY for our in focus segment on the U.S. military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Now it's been a thorn in the side of the U.S. human rights record for years. The first terrorism suspects arrived at the facility five years ago today.

But it has now become the focus of human rights groups who say Gitmo should be closed for business. Protests have been planned around the world -- including in Australia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Spain, Britain, and the U.S. Some are happening right now as we speak.

Former detainees have come forward. They have stories of mistreatment and torture without legal due process. Amnesty International detainees should not be left in a legal limbo, a legal black hole. They should either be charged or released.

Jonathan Mann takes a look at the last five years at Guantanamo.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On July 11 2002, the Bush Administration began using a remote offshore laboratory for an experiment unprecedented in U.S. history.

Four months to the day after the attacks of 9/11, the U.S. brought 20 accused Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan to be its first prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

The plan was to hold them under U.S. guard, but presumingly beyond the reach of U.S. law and international treaties. Prisoners captured in war but not legally considered prisoners of war. Without necessarily ever being charged, tried, or sentenced. And before the month was over, President Bush heralded it in his State of the Union address among the first victories in the war on terror.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American flag flies again over our embassy in Kabul. Terrorists who once occupied Afghanistan, now occupy cells at Guantanamo Bay.


MANN: In the five years since the prison has grown. There are now six separate compounds. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that prisoners at Guantanamo are not beyond the reach of the law. But the Bush Administration has maintained its right to hold them there.

COL. MICHAEL BURNGAMER, FORMER GUANTANAMO BAY COMMANDER: We're keeping some of the most dangerous terrorists away from the rest of the world. We're securing them and protecting the United States by doing that.

MANN: Among the most recent arrivals last September, 14 men described as high-valued detainees, including Khalid Shaykh Muhammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, accused of plotting to crash aircraft into Heathrow Airport. And Hambali, accused of planning the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.

Moazzam Begg was a different kind of captive. Begg was held at Gitmo for nearly two years. He said he had nothing to do with terrorism, but acknowledges having visited training camps years earlier for what he said were Kashmiri and Kurdish fighters.

MOAZZAM BEGG, FORMER DETAINEE: I think the biggest problem in Guantanamo was being held in a tiny little cell in solitary confinement for almost two years. With no natural light, no access to family. No meaningful communication with the family. No knowledge of what crime it is that I stood accused of.

MANN: About half of the more than 770 prisoners that have been held at Guantanamo have been released or transferred to their home government as Begg was. He was never charged with a crime.

In fact, only 10 have and their charges were nullified by the Supreme Court last June. So, as Guantanamo marks its fifth anniversary, no one held there as ever been tried or convicted of anything by the United States.

395 prisoners remain, but even the U.S. military only expects to try a few dozen of them. Prisoners who governments don't want them back or who Washington fears might be mistreated by their governments, will probably have to stay behind bars until someone figures out what to do with them. More than 100 have reportedly tried hunger strikes. More than 20 have tried to commit suicide. Three have succeeded.

KATHERINE NEWELL BIERMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: There could very well be some people at Guantanamo who have committed serious crimes and they should be prosecuted, which hasn't happened. There are people in Guantanamo who probably who weren't doing anything of any great concern and they should be released. And there are probably some people in the middle.

MANN: President Bush says he wants to close Guantanamo. But there's no immediate sign of that. As of its fifth birthday, it has a newly opened maximum security compound and plans to build courtrooms for eventual trials.

The prison built to keep terror suspects at a distance, isn't going away.

Jonathan Mann, CNN reporting.


GORANI: Well, Human Rights Watch says detaining hundreds of men without charge at Guantanamo has been a legal and political debacle of historic proportions. But what can human rights groups do to shut the facility down or put pressure on governments.

Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth joins us now live from Washington

That was a quote from you, a legal and political debacle of historic proportions, Ken. Did you imagine in 2001, that in 2007 Guantanamo Bay would still be operating.

KEN ROTH, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: I didn't imagine it at that stage. I think that you know, this fifth year anniversary gives us an opportunity to reassess what really has been a disaster.

Ostensibly Guantanamo was set up in order to help fight the fight against terrorism. In fact, it has proven utterly counterproductive. Guantanamo has become a symbol of the Bush Administration's lawlessness when it comes to fighting terrorism.

It's torture, it's detention without trial, it's even disappearance without people, because the 14 people who were recently moved there had disappeared for years and no one knew where they were, they basically had become basically nonentities.

That is -- it has become a tool for terrorist recruiters. It has undermined the cooperation that people need to fight terrorism around the world. It has meant, the United States has lost the moral high ground in the important fight against terrorism.

GORANI: So, what should happen now? If you had it your way and you could make recommendations directly to the president, what would you say? ROTH: What I would say is, identify the relative handful of people who have committed serious crimes and prosecute them before a fair tribunal. Not the sub-standard military commissions that the Bush Administration is pushing, but a court-martial or a civilian court.

Let them have a fair trial and punish them because nobody has been punished in Guantanamo. Nobody has had a fair trial. As for the rest, and the vast majority are people who were just unfortunate enough to be turned in by some bounty hunter who wanted the $10,000 that the United States was handing out for terrorists in Afghanistan. Let those people go. There's no evidence against them. We have looked through many of the files -- they are virtually devoid of evidence. I mean, it's time to admit that this is a mistake and send these people home.

GORANI: And some of the concerns expressed by international human rights attorneys is that when you release some of these Guantanamo detainees to their home governments, that they might be prosecution there. There has to be some sort of interim solution -- what would you suggest that interim solution should be?

ROTH: That is a real problem in some of the cases. For example, the Wiegers (ph), who are Muslims from China, cannot be sent back to China. They'll be tortured or worse in China.

And so you need to find countries that will accept them, that will allow them to live safely. Theoretically, that should be the United States, because the U.S. created this problem. But so far that doesn't seem to be a possibility.

So we have been encouraging the European Union to, as a humanitarian gesture, take some of these detainees as part of a deal in which the Bush Administration admits that it will close Guantanamo. So far tough, the only government to have done that is tiny little Albania, which has taken a handful of detainees, otherwise no government has.

GORANI: All right. A quick last word. Five years from now. Do you think Guantanamo Bay will still be open?

ROTH: If Guantanamo Bay is there, it should only be to detain people who have been convicted after a fair trial. If it is still there to detain people without trial, that will be a disaster for America's standing in the world and a disaster for the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism.

GORANI: Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, thanks for joining us here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

ROTH: Thank you.

GORANI: Well, a group of peace activists travelled to Cuba this week and plan to stage a protest on the Cuban side of the American base on Thursday. The group is being led by antiwar critic Cindy Sheehan. Her son was killed in Iraq. YOUR WORLD TODAY -- we'll have a lot more on your top stories from around the globe. Stay with us.


CLANCY: Hello, everyone. Welcome back.

GORANI: We're seen live in more than 200 countries across the globe. You're very welcome. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN.

The uniform is familiar.

CLANCY: That's right, but the person inside it a little bit different.

GORANI: Tourists at the Tower of London may notice an usual beefeater, which is the term used for the guards there.

CLANCY: That's right. You lived there in London, so you know that. They got the name over the centuries from what they had for dinner, actually.

GORANI: Yes, and we also ate beef there too. But one of those eating beefs is a woman.

CLANCY: Our Alphonso Van Marsh introduces us.


ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than 500 years, the Tower of London's iconic Yeoman Warder, better known as the beefeater, has been an elite guard unit of men. Now, Military Officer Moira Cameron is first female to join the beefeater ranks since King Henry VIII created the Yeoman Warders in the 15th century.

MOIRA CAMERON, BEEFEATER: I didn't think that they were doing for the sake of just doing it, to look good for the P.R. side of things. No, I didn't think that because I actually wasn't the first woman to be interviewed.

VAN MARSH: Before taking up her position, guarding the crown jewels at the tower, Cameron must receive the blessing of the queen, but that's a formality. Officials at the tower say they favored Cameron over five other male candidates because she was the best person for the job.

Like other beefeaters, she is a soldier meeting the minimum 22 years of military service required. Her future boss says she'll be treated like other male beefeaters, to the last stitch.

JOHN KEOHANE, CHIEF YEOMAN WARDER: The traditional red and black uniform, the blue undress that we wear, it will made to measure to fit her profile, but it's not going to be any different.

VAN MARSH: King Henry VIII initially had beefeaters guard the tower's famous captives, including his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was held in the tower and executed here too.

Today there are no more prisoners within these walls, but plenty of tourists. Cameron's beefeater responsibilities include showing them around the tower. Historians say, that's nothing new.

GEOFFREY PARNELL, SR. HISTORIAN, TOWER OF LONDON: By the 17th century that was one of their key duties. They were tour guides of the Tower of London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Come on then.

VAN MARSH: Their colorful uniforms long a tourist draw, soon the popular changing of the guard at London Tower will look a little different.

(on camera): She is the center of press attention to day, but tourists wanting to get a picture of Moira Cameron may have to wait a little while longer. She doesn't officially don the beefeater uniform until September...

(voice-over): ... when one of the current Yeoman retires.

Alphonso Van Marsh, CNN, London.


CLANCY: You know, all black there to the ravens, that are pretty spectacular there at the Tower of London.

GORANI: Another glass ceiling cracked.

That's it for this hour. I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy, and this is CNN.