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Your World Today
Interim Progress Report on Iraq Shows Mixed Results; Senate Democrats Push Ahead on Withdrawal Proposal; Mosque Aftermath: Journalists Allowed Inside Red Mosque Complex
Aired July 12, 2007 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Benchmarks met and missed. U.S. Presidential Bush pressing ahead with his Iraq strategy after a mixed progress report on the war.
The enemy that adapts. A U.S. government report says al Qaeda has rebuilt and regrouped and is as big a threat as ever.
The scene after the guns fall silent. The world gets its first glimpse inside a mosque that was the center of a deadly standoff.
And a mobile medic brings hope, healing and health care to homeless teens. You'll see why we call him a hero.
It's noon right now in Washington, 9:00 p.m. in Islamabad.
Hello and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.
I'm Jim Clancy, and this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
An administration in desperate need of good news in Iraq is still waiting. A much anticipated interim report is in and the results are decidedly mixed. The assessment finds the Iraqi government has made satisfactory progress on only eight out of 18 military, political or economic benchmarks. Developments for the remaining 10 goals were either unsatisfactory or undetermined.
We're covering all the angles here. We've got Dana Bash up on Capitol Hill, and, of course, our own Hala Gorani there in Baghdad. But let's begin with Elaine Quijano at the White House.
Elaine, this report, obviously the president would have liked it to look better. But he seemed to take a very determined stand, as usual.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He certainly did. Good afternoon to you, Jim.
That's right, President Bush essentially saying it is still early yet, this is an interim report, a snapshot of the picture on the ground, and that conclusions should not be drawn yet. But President Bush urging the United States Congress to allow his surge strategy to work despite the fact that the Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has not been able to meet key political benchmarks, legislative goals that even President Bush acknowledged in that interim report released to Congress today deserve an unsatisfactory rating.
In that news conference a short time ago, the president at the same time sending a strong message to the United States Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Let me make sure you understand what I'm saying. Congress has all of the right in the world to fund. That's their main involvement in this war, which is to provide funds for our troops.
What you're asking is whether or not Congress ought to be basically determining how troops are positioned, or troop strength. And I don't think that would be good for the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: President Bush also in that news conference announcing that he is dispatching his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, as well as his defense secretary, Robert Gates, to the Middle East come August to talk to allies there. The president also when asked about Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister and whether he had confidence in him, despite the fact that these political benchmarks, key political benchmarks, have not been yet, the president saying, I'm not making excuses, but it's hard -- Jim.
CLANCY: Elaine Quijano there at the White House.
Meantime, let's go up to Capitol Hill. This interim report likely to intensify efforts in Congress to end or at least to limit what the United States is doing in terms of its involvement in Iraq. President Bush, as Elaine pointed out, standing firm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I don't think Congress ought to be running the war. I think they ought to be funding our troops. I'm certainly interested in their opinion, but trying to run a war through resolution is a prescription for failure, as far as I'm concerned, and we can't afford to fail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: Well, the opinions are already bouncing around on Capitol Hill. Let's get more on that.
We're joined by Dana Bash, our congressional correspondent -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're waiting to hear from sort of the key constituency here that is really going to determine what happens in the near future. And that is the growing ranks of Republicans, Jim, who are so concerned that they don't agree with the White House that now is not the time to start reassessing the military strategy.
We have already heard from those sort of who are firmly implanted on either side of this particular issue. We heard from the Republican leader in the Senate just a short while ago, Mitch McConnell, on the Senate floor, who said -- essentially echoed the White House, saying, we have to wait until after we get the final report from the commander on the ground, David Petraeus. And that is going to be in September.
Obviously, he said that he is not thrilled with the fact that this particular interim report has mixed results, but already we are hearing from Democrats who are trying to capitalize on what they see as something that is necessary to change right now.
I want to read you just the beginning of a statement from Senator Joe Biden. He's of course running for president, but he's also the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He said, "The progress report is like the guy who's falling from a 100-story building and says halfway down that everything is fine. If we continue the way we're going, the president's failed strategy in Iraq, then we're handed for a crash landing."
Pretty illustrative way of trying to show what he thinks of this report.
We're going to listen to senators throughout the day to see what their response is, but I think it's worth remembering, Jim, that this is a report that is dictated and mandated by Congress, the brainchild of not a Democrat, but of a Republican senator, an influential Republican senator, John Warner of Virginia. He wanted to make sure that Congress was informed of how things are going, so it will be interesting to see what he has to say as well.
CLANCY: All right.
Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash there.
As Dana points out, the debate really just getting started up there again after the publication of the interim report.
As Washington churns its wheels on the politics of this, in Baghdad, the reaction to a largely negative assessment of the progress coming from there. You have got that -- we've got that for you as well. Our own Hala Gorani is there in Baghdad.
Hala, the view of all of this, an interim assessment from the streets of Baghdad, must appear to be almost pointless to the people there.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I tell you, you say the word "benchmark," and it really doesn't mean much to the people on the streets of Baghdad. We spoke with ordinary Iraqis over the last 24 hours, asking them if they thought U.S. troops should stay in their country or if they should pull out. We get a mixed bag of reaction.
Some saying, mainly among the Sunni population, which is a minority here in Iraq, that they would rather troops stay to fix the chaos they say the U.S. occupation has caused. Some are also afraid that if the U.S. troops pull out precipitously, that this would hand over the country to the militias.
As far as this interim report and these 18 benchmarks, on the political front there is some progress. But as the White House indicated, really not much. Nothing to write home about, for instance.
The oil revenue sharing law which is designed to promote national reconciliation hasn't even made it to the floor of the parliament here. Constitutional reform, a committee has barely been formed. Debaathification, that has barely been addressed.
As far as sectarian killings -- and I think this is the interesting point -- among the 18 benchmarks, this is the one that the White House has highlighted as a measure of success. And though it is the case that sectarian killings and the number of bodies found across the streets of Baghdad have gone down from almost 2,000 in January to about 600 last month, if you put it within the context of the whole war, Jim, since 2003, we're really at the level before the Samarra bombing of February 2006. And 600 dead bodies unidentified, scattered across the streets of the Iraqi capital is still and, rightfully so, not considered a measure of success.
CLANCY: All right.
Hala Gorani reporting to us there from Baghdad.
We want to check in now on some of the other stories beyond Iraq that are making news this hour.
CLANCY: A day after Pakistani commandos wiped out the last remaining militants at Islamabad's Red Mosque complex, Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, says the country still faces a threat from Islamist extremists. General Musharraf said the militants had strayed from Islam and were working against their own people.
Meantime, journalists have been allowed inside the mosque complex. More now from John Ray.
JOHN RAY, REPORTER, ITN: Well, this is a first glimpse inside the Red Mosque itself. And as you can see all around us, the floor is scorched, the ceiling as well. And there are the bullet holes, the impact of bullets, high-velocity bullets, right through the complex.
The authorities tell us that in the mosque itself, around 19 or 20 of the gunmen died. But most bloodshed was in the building next door to here, and that is in the girls' school. And there we found children's books, we found shoes, including children's shoes, scattered on the floor. It's difficult to be precise about the number dead.
We have also been shown an armory of weapons, a huge cache of automatic rifles. And also a suicide belt. And we're told that at least one of the militants here took his own life with a suicide bomb and took with him perhaps five hostages who have been held.
But in terms of the overall death toll here, that's still not quite entirely clear.
CLANCY: Now, we know that CNN was not among the news organizations allowed into the Red Mosque by Pakistani officials. Of course we remain committed to reporting from Pakistan and reporting from the fallout from that.
Now we want to talk and bring in right now Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Mahmud Ali Durrani.
Sir, I want to thank you very much for being with us.
Just moments ago, as I read the news wires, I saw that President Pervez Musharraf was saying he wants to stamp out Islamic extremists in what he termed every corner of Pakistan. Is that a realistic goal? It would seem to be a much more ambitious one than we have heard from the government or the military up to this point?
MAHMUD ALI DURRANI, PAKISTANI AMB. TO U.S.: It's a realistic goal, but it's a goal that you cannot achieve in 10 days or five days. It's a long-term project. It will be undertaken, and we will do it.
CLANCY: Is this a reaction to calls by extremists, the planning of bombs, attacks on the military and police around the country, or is this part of a long-term strategy already decided by the leadership?
DURRANI: I think it's long-term strategy. And this is not the first time that President Musharraf has said this.
He's been saying this. He's been saying this in public meetings in Pakistan. He's saying this with his meetings with world leaders.
This is absolutely a total commitment for Pakistan, because we don't want to become a radicalized nation like the Taliban state of Afghanistan was. We want to be a moderate, progressive Islamic state, at peace with itself, at peace with it's neighbors, and at peace with the world.
CLANCY: Still, many people point to the fact that the Taliban got its start really along the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, that today, some entire regions like Waziristan, under control of Taliban or Taliban sympathetic tribesmen. When you look at all of this and you see a new report coming out in the United States that says that al Qaeda has rebuilt its strength around the world, does it ring true?
DURRANI: It partially rings true. And I will say al Qaeda has strengthened itself globally. That is true.
There was no al Qaeda in Iraq. But it is there now. And that is where the bulk of their effort is.
Al Qaeda is still in Afghanistan because of the lack of troops, lack of development there. And some of it has trickled into Pakistan, but Pakistan is not what I read in the paper today, the safe haven. Whenever we find al Qaeda or their training camps, we go after them and destroy it. We have done it many times.
CLANCY: Do you think, sir -- as we have watched over the course of the past years, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the war on terrorisms, none of this seems to have really weakened al Qaeda. In some respects, people say that the militants are better armed, better trained than they ever have been in the past.
Is the right strategy being pursued?
DURRANI: I mean, I'm nobody to tell the U.S. what to do, but I think the strategy Pakistan is following is the ultimate strategy that will succeed, which means that you have a multi-pronged strategy in which force is a major component, but winning the hearts and minds of the people, giving them other alternatives, giving them superior ideology, I think it's a multi-pronged strategy that will work well. Not just force.
CLANCY: All right.
Pakistani Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani.
I want to thank you very much for being with us here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.
DURRANI: A pleasure. Thank you.
CLANCY: We're going to take a short break.
Coming up, hitting the road to help homeless teens. A roving position in Phoenix earning our hero tribute of the day.
And land rovers often take the heat, but an even bigger contributor to global warming isn't actually on the roads, but out there in the pastures.
CLANCY: Welcome back. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY, seen on all of the continents right around the world this day and this hour, including here in the United States.
Well, turning now to the terror threat level against the U.S., there seems conflicting assessments about al Qaeda from top levels of the U.S. government. We have learned there's a classified intelligence report that warns al Qaeda is the strongest it has been since before September the 11th. But just a few moments ago, during his news conference about Iraq, President Bush sounded a very different note, saying the terror group has been weakened.
All this after the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, talked about his own gut feeling that there could be an attack some time this summer.
Kelli Arena tries to sort it all out for us.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Despite bombing al Qaeda strongholds and counterterrorism operations around the world, al Qaeda is regrouping and is at its strongest since the war on terror began. U.S. officials say that's the conclusion of a classified government report.
It certainly seems to back up what Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has been saying.
CHERTOFF: We do see some general trends that are concerning. We see the fact that they are training in certain parts of Pakistan. We see the fact that they have now reached into North Africa and they have got an affiliate in North Africa. We have seen over the last year increased activity in Europe.
ARENA: The secretary took a great deal of heat for saying it was a gut feeling that the U.S. was in a particularly vulnerable period.
SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: I would hope that someone who is the director of Homeland Security would have something else to offer us if he's going to be talking like that.
ARENA: So Chertoff had to spend time explaining what he meant.
CHERTOFF: We don't currently have specific, credible information about a particular threat against the homeland in the near future.
ARENA: Intelligence experts say al Qaeda has been able to find safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
JOHN KRINGEN, CIA DIR. FOR INTELLIGENCE: We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications. So we see that activity rising.
ARENA: What's more, the volume of messages from al Qaeda leaders has sharply increased.
DANIEL BENJAMIN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: But what it does tell us is that al Qaeda feels that it's in a pretty safe place for recording messages and distributing them. They certainly don't look like they're on the run.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CLANCY: All right. We're going to take you live now up to Capitol Hill, where the majority leader, Harry Reid, is addressing the podium, talking with reporters there. His reaction to the message, the interim report from President Bush earlier.
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SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: ... and these are benchmarks that they set for themselves.
Iraqi security forces continue to lag well behind expectations. Our courageous troops continue to bear the full burden of securing and rebuilding Iraq while Iraq's factions fight a deadly civil war that engulfs our own troops.
Number two, new intelligence assessments conclude al Qaeda is going stronger, while Osama bin Laden is operating freely, we understand, in the Afghan-Pakistan border, the president wants to keep our troops in an open-ended war, a civil war in Iraq.
It's really a travesty that Osama bin Laden is still at large almost six years after 9/11, but it's not surprising that al Qaeda has been able to reorganize and rebuild, because the administration has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to fighting terrorism.
Number three, while al Qaeda rebuilds or overbuilds (ph), our military is drawn to a breaking point. Multiple deployments of our troops are putting these brave men and women at risk, leaving us less secure at home and unable to response to other crises.
Democrats attempted to fix this problem with the Webb amendment and with the bipartisan (INAUDIBLE) amendment. These are both aimed at giving our troops time to properly train, to prepare and recover from battle. Most Republicans put protecting the president ahead of protecting our troops.
These developments make it clear to me, to many of my colleagues and to foreign policy experts that it's well past time for a change of course in Iraq. We're committed to responding responsibly in many different ways to end this war so that we can focus on increasing America's security and more effectively fighting terrorism.
The time to do this is now, not September. We're told good progress is being made, wait until September. Good progress is being made.
How many times over the last four and a half years have we heard this? Too many to number. "We're making good progress."
Well, good progress is not being made. I'm calling on my Republican colleagues to not just say the right thing but vote the right way so that we can give our troops the strategy they deserve.
The four of us are sending a letter to the president this afternoon telling the president, here is what we think is wrong, tell us what your experts are doing to decrease al Qaeda buildup that is taking place.
It's interesting to hear what the president said at his press conference just a short time ago. His people have been saying -- first Chertoff said he felt it in his gut. And then they issued this report that al Qaeda's stronger. The president in his press conference today said, well, that's all wrong. Because of me, al Qaeda is weaker than 9/11.
They can't have it both ways.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: It's sad to say President Bush is out of touch. He's out of touch with the reality of the war in Iraq. He's out of touch with the American people.
This benchmark assessment report which we received doesn't give us much hope. We have been told over and over again we can't expect a military victory in Iraq. It will take a political victory for us to finally see stability. And yet, as the benchmark assessment reports tell us, there's little evidence of political progress in Iraq today, and certainly more violence and more death.
What is happening on the floor of the United States Senate, finally we're re-engaged in a debate on this war in Iraq. I think the debate itself is best understood by the decision of the Senate Republican leadership to impose a new standard of 60 votes to pass any amendment on the floor of the United States Senate on this bill. It's an indication that Senator McConnell and the president's loyalists understand they're losing ground with their own Republicans.
Three Republican senators now have had the courage to stand up and speak up against the president's policy in Iraq. We're hoping that they'll join us in these important votes. But the problem is that while we're waiting for the Republican senators to build up their political courage, the casualties are building up in Iraq.
We have lost 3,611 American soldiers. The president says we need to be patient and we need to wait. Every day that we wait, every week that goes by, another month means more American soldiers who will be killed and injured in this war that has gone downhill for so long.
It is time for us to start bringing these troops home. There will be one clear unequivocal vote from members of the Senate about changing the direction in Iraq and bringing the American soldiers home. It's the Levin-Reed amendment.
It will be up next week. It will be clear and decisive.
This will be a moment for those Republican senators who question the policies of this administration to demonstrate that they really want change. If they vote for Levin-Reed, it's a vote for change.
Some of the other proposals make no changes. And I hope that the press and the American people follow this very, very closely. Take the time to read these amendments.
Many of us believe that we need to take action now to spare our soldiers more losses and more death. And we need to do it with a vote that is meaningful.
I hope that those Republican senators who have expressed their concerns about the president's policy will join us in supporting Levin-Reed.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Well, thank you.
And I've been asked -- I come from New York, and when you hear a report that al Qaeda is stronger that it was before 9/11, it sends shivers down your spine. Now the president has said, well, they're really not as strong.
CLANCY: All right. We've been listening here.
Who says that the Democrats aren't ready to fight? They're laying broadside against the administration, and specifically against President George W. Bush. They're saying he can't have it both ways.
Some members of his administration issuing reports saying al Qaeda is much stronger today than it has been in recent years. Perhaps as strong as it was just before September the 11th, 2001. The president, of course, came out and said that's not the case because of all the actions his administration has taken.
The core issue, though, clearly remains focused on when, not if, the United States will be pulling more of its forces -- or some of its forces out of Iraq.
The president spent no small amount of time saying that we need more time to see if it works. And we heard there from the Senate majority leader, just saying we have heard it all before -- to wait, things will get better. And as another senator, Dick Durbin said, "I don't draw much hope from this interim report."
All right. There is a look at the politics up on Capitol Hill standing by in -- for all of the information coming in on the war in Iraq.
But also standing by, our international look at business news.
CLANCY: We've got to take a short break here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.
But still ahead, are U.S. politicians naughty or nice? A pornography publisher is leading a one-man mission to find out.
And from talking the talk, to walking the walk, a doctor gives much needed medical care to homeless kids on the U.S. streets. That's ahead in our report in our series "Heroes".
CLANCY: Hello, and welcome back to our viewers joining us from more than 200 countries and territories all around the globe, including here in the United States. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Jim Clancy.
And these are some of the top stories we're following right now. New warnings of violence from the brother of the radical cleric who was killed in the siege at Islamabad's Red Mosque. Cleric Abdul Aziz (ph) says the killings of his brother and other mosque defenders will push Pakistan toward what he calls an Islamic resolution. At least 108 people were killed in the eight-day standoff with Pakistani forces.
The U.S. Homeland Security secretary saying signs point to a period of increased risk for a terror attack in the United States. Michael Chertoff's comments come after a new U.S. report says Al Qaeda is as capable now as it was before the September 11th attacks.
An interim progress report on Iraq shows the government has made mostly satisfactory progress in meeting eight military benchmarks, but it also received unsatisfactory marks on the political front. U.S. President Bush said security will pave the way for political progress, so it's not surprising the political progress is lagging behind. A final progress report is expected come in mid-September.
On the military side, the Iraqis have made progress in setting up joint U.S.-Iraqi security stations, but they have been slow in other areas. Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr joins us live with more.
Barbara, obviously, people are listening there in the Pentagon to what is being said up on Capitol Hill. At the same time, they have to be listening to what General Petraeus, and the other commanders in the field see as possible progress?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that's right. And most military commanders, starting right with General Petraeus, at the top, see perhaps a more nuanced situation in Iraq than the politicians do in Washington.
General Petraeus has been counseling patience, counseling that people should wait until the September assessment, at least, to make their views final about what they think about progress in Iraq.
You know, just consider one category that was discussed in the interim report issued today. Sectarian violence has satisfactory progress been made? To some extent, yes? The numbers of sectarian killings in the last several weeks have been down from their all-time highs. So that is some progress. But still, they're at unacceptably high levels. And still, the U.S. military says there's not been satisfactory progress in going after the militias, especially the Shia death squads, that are responsible for so many of these sectarian killings.
So that's just one example of trying to assess the progress in Iraq. A couple of steps forward, a couple steps back. But people like General Petraeus say don't come to a conclusion yet. Give it all more time -- Jim.
CLANCY: All right. Barbara Starr reporting to us there live from the Pentagon.
Now, also joining us from Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Jane Harmon, a Democrat from California. We want to get her views on all of this.
The Democrats really going on the attack here and a lot of it appears to be political. If you look at these reports, one of the things you see is everything is relating to the pull-out. People are wanting -- they're trying to press on that.
This report, and the military itself, is saying you could just implement the Iraq Study Group. Just start drawing down the troops. Isn't that a reality?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I support the Iraq Study Group recommendations and have for eight or nine months now, since they were first issue. And, frankly, if we had followed that course then, I think we could have saved a lot of lives and a lot of resources.
But be that as it may, on the floor of the House, now, we're debating a resolution offered -- bill offered by a Ike Skelton, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, which would start redeployment in 120 days, not end it, start it. And it would give the president the option to change our mission in Iraq at that time.
I think we should change our mission in Iraq now. The combat mission will not succeed. I have just returned from Baghdad myself. We can argue about which statistics are best, but bottom line, there is enormous violence in Baghdad. The highest population center, the surge is not working, and it will not work.
And it's time for us, in a bi-partisan basis, to do the responsible thing, which is to change our mission in Iraq and worry about other countries in the region, which are extremely dangerous, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and so forth, and worry about the possibility of an attack here at home during the summer months.
CLANCY: Well, anyway way that we look at it, Congresswoman Harman, you were there, did you talk to the Iraqi people themselves about what ...
HARMAN: I did.
CLANCY: I mean, there are a lot of them that tell us they're frightened if the U.S. should pull out. They say this is a problem you made and this is a problem that you must help resolve by being here. Do you agree?
HARMON: I actually -- yes, I agree with that. But to help them with their problem now, we have to change our mission. Being target practice in a civil war is not helping anyone. I think what we need to do, and I'm for this, is implement the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. You did mention that. Do some embedded training. I think that would help. Certainly worry about the borders, so this conflict doesn't spread further, but to surge in diplomacy, and political help. Both in Iraq and in the region, I think that's what's necessary. That will help the Iraqi people.
CLANCY: All right, now, you are chair of the Intelligence Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security -- well, for the Committee on Homeland Security. I'm just wondering, how are you reading the strength of Al Qaeda, what Mr. Chertoff has been saying, and others, that this is a group that despite all of our efforts, the billions upon billions of dollars that have been spent, are getting as strong today as before September 11th?
HARMAN: That is my point. I think they are stronger. Actually, I think they've regrouped in Pakistan. Our assumption has to be there are terror cells already in the U.S. We surely know that there are in Europe, and especially in England. There is now an Al Qaeda organization in North Africa, and we need more resources to focus on the problem here.
Let's understand that our police and firefighters are very capable, and so is the FBI, actually. But a lot of their ranks are now in Iraq because the Guard and Reserve have been called up in Iraq, and a lot of their equipment is in Iraq. That equipment needs to be back here, and so do they. We need a much bigger focus on threats to our homeland. That's what my Sub-Committee on Intelligence is focusing on. We're trying to understand home-grown radicalization. What turns some body into violent behavior? If we don't a grip on this soon, and prevent it from happening here, it will happen here.
CLANCY: How about what the president had to say? Let's just take a listen. This is the president speaking earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a perception, in the coverage, that Al Qaeda may be as strong today as they were prior to September 11th. That's simply not the case. I think the report will say since 2001, not prior to September 11th, 2001.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: All right, what about that?
HARMAN: Well, let's start with the fact that we have never caught the high value targets. We never caught Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri. And there was a disturbing report in "The New York Times" the other day. That we had a chance to get Zawahiri in late 2005, and we blinked because although the CIA director had the intel and wanted to focus an operation Waziristan, in the tribal areas of Pakistan, it was blocked by Rumsfeld because he worried about Musharraf.
I think that's a huge mistake. So, we haven't gotten the high value targets, that's number one.
Number two, there's a five-page classified report, that has been reported in the newspapers today, which shows that Al Qaeda has regrouped in Pakistan. That's also very disturbing. I know first-hand, that it has spread operations to North Africa. I was recently there. There have been increased attacks in Morocco and Algeria, and Tunisia. This is very disturbing.
Then we just saw the attacks in Britain. We don't fully understand who was behind them, but surely radicalized people from Pakistan, who were in the medical corps there, were trying to harm hundreds of innocent civilians in downtown London. We know that. And vehicle borne attacks are easy to pull off. I worry about them in America. I surely worry that LAX, L.A. International Airport, in my district, could be one of the subjects of that attack.
CLANCY: Let me ask you a final question, Congresswoman Harmon, and that is this in year of politics, and let's face it, the White House is open, all of the seats in Congress are open -- in the House, at least, are open. You know, there's a sense that we're playing political football with national security issues. That there's a lot of grand standing going on, not just by Democrats, but by both sides here. What are people supposed to believe? They're getting two different stories.
HARMAN: I -- I-- it's heartbreaking to think this could be perceived as a political football. I have said for -- for years -- the terrorists are not going to check our party registration before they blow us up. On the House floor, just a half hour ago, speaking for the Skelton bill, I urged Republicans to support it. I said what we need is 290 votes. A veto-proof majority to start on a responsible course to end the combat mission in Iraq. That's what the American people expect us to be doing.
CLANCY: Congresswoman Jane Harman, of California, I want to thank you very much for being with us here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.
HARMAN: Thank you very much.
CLANCY: We are going to take a short break. Still ahead, giving U.S. street children a shot of self-esteem and some basic medical care to go with it. We're going to report on how one doctor is helping to make life a little better for some of societies most vulnerable.
CLANCY: Updating a story we have been following all day. Flight diverted, the TSA now saying this was not -- repeat, not -- a security breach. American Airlines Flight 136 was en route to London from Los Angeles. The pilot diverted the plane to New York's JFK overnight. A crew member had expressed concerns about a passenger. She thought she saw him on an employee only bus from a parking lot to the plane.
Then reports told a very different story. The Transportation Security Administration now says the man went through the proper security checks, was never in an area where he shouldn't have been. As for the other passengers, well, they were rebooked on other flights.
We here at CNN often come across stories of ordinary people who have an extraordinary impact on the world, and those around them. We don't always get a chance to tell you all about them, though, so this year, we're making it a point. We're going to try to bring you some of the stories.
Today, we want to introduce you to a doctor who finds his clients on the streets of the U.S. state of Arizona -- out on the streets. He doesn't charge them a dime. Doctor Randy Christensen is today's "CNN Hero".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 10 years old, I decided I'm going to run away from home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been on the streets from 12 till 20.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's scary to live on the streets. There's so many drugs and violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sleep in an abandoned house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was taken away from my parents when I was like 10 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad dropped me off by a dumpster. He told me don't even think about coming back home.
(CHURCH BELL CLANGING)
DR. RANDY CHRISTENSEN, CNN HERO: As many as 5,000 to 10,000 kids on the streets of Arizona. We turned our heads. We don't look at them, in their eyes. Many of the kids are truly forgotten.
I'm Dr. Randy Christensen. I'm the medical director for the Cruisin' Health Mobile. We take care of kids on the streets through a medical mobile van. Everything that would be in a regular doctor's office is on the van.
All of the kids that are seen by us are seen free of charge.
Did you need anything? Did you need a new backpack?
I have never really been about the money. I went to medical school thinking I was going to be a surgeon, but everything that made me stop and think, had to do with children and adolescents. I chose to come out on the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Christensen makes it to where people actually want to come back and actually want to get help.
CHRISTENSEN: We pull up in the van and within five to 10 minutes, there's 20 or 30 kids coming out of every different alley or different street. You get out there and you see some of these kids and you talk to them, and you give them a little bit of dignity and respect, all of a sudden they open up. It's like a light bulb goes on and they want to talk and they want to tell you their story.
Here let me listen to you. I think you might have pneumonia. Take a deep breath.
They still have that gleam of hope in their eyes. It's that hope that gives you hope. At the very end, they give you a big hug and say thank you. And that means the most to me.
CLANCY: All right. If you know a hero, there's the place to go in order to tell them. Nominate a hero yourself. If you would like to make a contribution to any of the organizations that support Dr. Randy Christensen, you'll find links to their Web sites on ours, all waiting for your on cnn.com/heroes. Love that story.
There's another story that's getting a lot of attention. No nearly so nice. Whenever a politician talks about family values, he had better either practice what he preaches, or at least not get caught. The publisher of the famous U.S. pornography magazine, one of them, at least, is on a one-man mission to out hypocrites on the Hill. Carol Costello reports on the campaign and the latest casualties.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Larry Flynt would say there's one last known hypocrite on the Hill. Senator David Vitter, accused of being a client of the alleged D.C. madam Deborah Palfrey. Vitter, who touts himself a family man, now accused by a pornographer, and a woman who runs an escort business.
Flynt admits, though, he has a political motive as well.
LARRY FLYNT, PUBLISHER, "HUSTLER": He was to (INAUDIBLE) Attila the Hun, every step of the way. I am going to do my part to get him out of there.
COSTELLO: And Flynt says he's not done yet.
FLYNT: You guys always know in the past, I delivered.
COSTELLO: He's talking about '98, when he launched his first hypocrite hunt. Angry at what he calls the hypocrisy during the rush to impeach Bill Clinton, he made life miserable for Georgia Congressman Bob Barr. Saying that in contrast to his public opposition to abortion he drove his wife to a clinic to have an abortion performed. Barr denied the charge, but a federal court dismissed his lawsuit against Flynt.
Another prominent Republican, former Representative Bob Livingston suffered, too. He was among those calling for President Clinton to resign over the Lewinski affair, saying apologies were not enough.
BOB LIVINSTON, FMR. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The president has his own actions to justify. I will not seek to give him counsel.
COSTELLO: Livingston he urged a vote to impeach, and just as he was about to become House speaker, Larry Flynt accused him of infidelity, and Livingston resigned.
LIVINGSTON: And I beg your forgiveness.
COSTELLO: He hopes Vitter will do the same.
FLYNT: You have people that don't have an ounce of the character that I have that are running our government. So I'm saying, you know, this is payback time. Payback is a bitch.
COSTELLO: As for Vitter, well, he says that he committed a great sin and has asked for forgiveness from God, and his wife. Carol Costello, CNN, New York.
CLANCY: All right.
Coming up, cows of doom. That's right. The barn yard becomes the latest battlefield in the fight against global warming. We're going to have to explain this one -- to her -- and to you.
CLANCY: Well, the facts are in. The scientists in Britain say they have tracked down the source of global warming, and it turns out -- it's cows. Not the ones up on the billboards saying "Eat more chicken," but the real ones. Each one puts out more gas each day than a sport utility vehicle. But knowing it and doing something about it, that's two separate things. Alphonso Van March goes to the root of the problem.
ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Scientists say carbon dioxide from gasoline and other fossil fuels is No. 1 the list of gases contributing to global warming. And what is number two? Methane. From, among other things, cows.
DR. DAVID CHADWICK, ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT: Methane generation by livestock, in particular, cattle and sheep, is a significant contribution to the global warming potential of agriculture.
VAN MARSH: This Dr. David Chadwick is looking at whether feeding cows, easier-on-the-tummy grasses can cut down on the amount of methane Britain's 10 million cattle emit, when they digest food. Scientists say one cow pumps out hundreds of liters of methane every day. In other words, they pass more greenhouse gas than the typical SUV. (On camera): For years, we have been hearing about cattle flatulence, what comes from the back end of one of those animals. But increasingly, researchers are taking a closer look at the front end of cattle, measuring bovine burps.
CHADWICK: We're talking about 80 percent plus of methane as coming from the front end. It's being burped, it's being benched out by these animals.
VAN MARSH: So vets will be placing cows in fan-equipped tunnels like these, feeding them different kinds of grasses and hay. Then they'll have the unenviable task of bottling wind and taking it to the lab where it's measured for methane levels.
Veterinarian Phil Murray says similar research on sheep indicates that the fresher the grass, the less pungent the gas.
(On camera): Is it fair to assume at this point that changes in what you feed the animals may result in changes in methane emitted from them?
PHIL MURRAY, VETERINARIAN: Yes, I think that's right.
VAN MARSH (voice over): The project will also look at genetic manipulation as a way to improve livestock digestion. But vets say, don't get your hopes up.
MURRAY: There will never be a gas-free cow.
VAN MARSH: There may never be a gas-free cow, but research into what goes into one could reduce the amount of environmentally harmful gas that comes out, from both ends. Alphonso Van Marsh, CNN, Devon, England.
CLANCY: That's our report. I'm Jim Clancy. Before we go, congratulations to the world's tallest man. He's now the world's tallest groom. Bu Jhi Shun (ph), 2.36 meters tall, that is 7'9", married a sales girl from a shop. She was a lot younger and a slot shorter. But congratulations and best wishes.
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