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Looking to the new Iraq


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Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House says it hopes a new U.N. resolution for Iraq will encourage other nations to participate in aiding security and reconstruction. Meanwhile, the Bush administration's Iraq policy is facing tough questioning on Capitol Hill as the deadline for the transfer of power to Iraqis grows closer.

CNN anchor Judy Woodruff spoke with two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, and Sen. Jon Corzine, D-New Jersey, about the fight for Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Senator Brownback, do you share the view of your chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Lugar, that the Bush administration over the last year and a half has failed to communicate its plans for Iraq to the American people, that this is something it must do so that the people will understand what it has in mind?

BROWNBACK: Yes, I think they've communicated at times pretty well and at other times I don't think they've done particularly well at all.

I think we should have had the top officials from the administration at the committee today. They did have lead officials at the Armed Services hearing that was going on simultaneous to the Foreign Relations. Under either situation, we have a heavy U.S. investment in the region and I think the administration really needs to really go overboard as much as possible in communicating more of that and we need a lot more of that taking place now.

WOODRUFF: Senator Brownback, we just heard in testimony before the Armed Services Committee Paul Wolfowitz say -- among other things there are ways to proceed without a plan. He went on to say, we do hope to have a plan. But what is your understanding of what that plan will be?

BROWNBACK: Well, you've got two sets of things that are here as I look at it.

One, you have what the provisional government in Iraq has come up with as a basic document for governance. It's kind of a basic constitution. That's a form. That's like our Constitution.

The second is what [U.N. envoy Lakhdar] Brahimi is working on from the U.N., which everybody is pushing for it to come forward and be usable in a time to implement by that July 1-June 30 deadline. It is key that we get Iraq in control, civilian control by the Iraqis. We're going to be there militarily for some period of time, but we need to get that civilian control of Iraq in Iraqi hands as soon as possible.

WOODRUFF: And how exactly that would work? Would the U.S. be completely hands-off in making decisions in Iraq?

BROWNBACK: No.

I mean, you're seeing right now what's taking place as far as Brahimi is developing his plan. There's close communication with the administration and with many key countries that's taking place at this point in time. That is going to develop [with] the United States and the U.N. and others working together.

But I've got to back up this point again. We've got to get Iraq being run by Iraqis, so that they are responsible for their future, not just an outside force, like the U.S. and the British.

WOODRUFF: Senator Jon Corzine also joining us. He's another member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, what is your understanding of who among the Iraqis will be running the country after June 30?

CORZINE: Well, I think this is one of the problems.

I don't think anybody knows who's going to run. I don't think they really have established what sovereignty means, what happens when an attack happens in Fallujah, who is going to be responsible for dealing with that? What if the United States forces take a certain action and the new government objects to that?

I think, frankly, this is a rush to an arbitrary deadline and I'm actually very frustrated that there is not the detail on the table and the discussion, whether in the Foreign Relations Committee or with the international community, about what this transfer of sovereignty is all about.

WOODRUFF: Senator Corzine, though, just quickly, why does that matter? As long as they are moving to get the Iraqis in control, why do some of these details as you call them need to be resolved by June 30?

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Sen. Jon Corzine, D-New Jersey

CORZINE: Well, I believe that if we don't get this right and then if the new provisional government doesn't have credibility with the Iraqis, then we undermine our [long-term] ability to get to an effective election and an effective transfer of [long-term] power further down the road.

It seems to me that we set an arbitrary date without setting any kinds of terms and conditions of what we're trying to accomplish. I'm glad the United Nations is involved. It's a late date for that to happen. But it seems to me that we throw into jeopardy the real transfer of power, which comes through the electoral process and the building of a constitution as we go forward.

WOODRUFF: Senator Brownback, again, if there is a disagreement between the U.S. forces who are still going to be in Iraq in large numbers after July 1, and this new Iraqi administration, who's going to be governing it? Who is going to be the one who makes that decision?

BROWNBACK: The U.S. is going to be in charge of the security situation, it appears to me, for some time to come. You don't have an Iraqi police force nor a military that's stood up that's being effective.

But part of the security situation is that we don't have Iraqis in control. So when we ask Iraqi policemen and soldiers to put their lives on the line, it's being asked by an American and they are less likely to respond.

You're going to have the security situation will improve when you get an Iraqi civilian authority doing the civil part of the governance. And then we're going to have to grow and improve substantially this Iraqi military force for them to be able to take over the security picture.


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