(CNN Student News) -- September 11, 2007
Report on Iraq - Learn about the congressional testimony of the top U.S. commander in Iraq.
Life of a Soldier - Hear some American troops' viewpoints on serving in a war-torn nation.
Families of Freedom - Discover how a fund created after 9/11 is helping one family pay for college.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi there, we're glad to have you with us for this brand new edition of CNN Student News. I'm Monica Lloyd. A congressional committee hears testimony from General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. American soldiers give their views on the situation and talk about what it's like to serve there. And a family is getting help paying for college, thanks to a scholarship fund set up after 9/11.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDING GENERAL, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: As a bottom line, up front, the military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met.
I have recommended a draw-down of the surge forces from Iraq. In fact, later this month, the Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed as part of the surge will depart Iraq.
Beyond that, while noting that the situation in Iraq remains complex, difficult and sometimes downright frustrating, I also believe that it is possible to achieve our objectives in Iraq over time, although doing so will be neither quick nor easy.
LLOYD: General David Petraeus there, giving testimony to a joint congressional hearing about how things are going in Iraq. Now, one of the things you heard him mention several times was the surge. That's the name for a strategy President Bush announced back in January which deployed 30,000 additional troops to Iraq. It was just one of the things the general talked about during the hearing yesterday. Jessica Yellin has more on his appearance before Congress.
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JESSICA YELLIN, CNN REPORTER: In measured testimony rich in detail, the top U.S. commander in Iraq told members of Congress the surge has seen success.
PETRAEUS: The military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met. In recent months, in the face of tough enemies and the brutal summer heat of Iraq, coalition and Iraqi security forces have achieved progress in the security arena.
YELLIN: As a result, he's recommended the U.S. draw down 30,000 combat troops by next July.
PETRAEUS: I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level of brigade combat teams by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains that we have fought so hard to achieve.
YELLIN: He says some troops will start to come home this month. With charts and graphs, General Petraeus ticked off evidence of progress in Iraq.
PETRAEUS: The number of car bombings and suicide attacks has also declined in each of the past five months. We found a substantially increased number of arms, ammunition and explosives caches. The number of overall civilian deaths has also declined during this period. Al Qaeda is certainly not defeated. However, it is off balance.
YELLIN: And he said prematurely pulling troops out of Iraq...
PETRAEUS: Would likely have devastating consequences.
YELLIN: The day had its uscripted moments when General Petraeus' mic went down and protesters interrupted the hearing, prompting an annoyed committee chair to curse on mic.
Even before Petraeus began his testimony, tensions were high. Outraged Republicans called on Democrats to denounce a new MoveOn.org ad that calls the star witness "General betray-us."
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CALIFORNIA): It's an outrage that we spent the last week preping the ground, bashing the credibility of a general officer whose trademark is integrity.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FLORIDA): This cannot be tolerated.
YELLIN: The uproar over the ad put Democrats on the defensive, as they beat back questions about their association with MoveOn.org. As for the general's plan to draw down troops to pre-surge levels, Democrats say that's not good enough. Jessica Yellin, CNN, Capitol Hill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD: Now, that assessment of the situation in Iraq was given by the top U.S. commander in the region. But what about the views of the men and women who patrol the streets of Baghdad every day? Arwa Damon talked to some of them to find out what life is like for American soldiers serving in Iraq, and how they think things are going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAFF SARGENT ANTONIO GONZALES, U.S ARMY: If you don't come out here, then you really have no clue. They don't understand what it is driving down a road, and kind of wonder if you are going to get blown up or not.
STAFF SARGENT DAVID JULIAN, U.S ARMY: It's hot, 30. As you can see, we don't have palaces, as some of our national leadership likes to make out that we have. We don't have them. We sleep 15 guys in a room that shouldn't be sleeping five. Our AC is pumped in through vents in our windows. It's ridiculous. We eat chow out of green Tupperware that's been sitting there for hours. It's not all fame and glory. It's a lot of hard times out here.
ARWA DAMON, CNN REPORTER: Is it worth it?
JULIAN: I think so. You go downtown and you got 15 kids that run up to your Humvee and telling you how much they like you and, you know, running right up to you like you are a king. It makes it worth it to know you might provide a future for those kids.
GONZALES: I just think that they are on a precipice and it can go either way. And we're hoping what we're doing here is helping keep them on our side, rather than have them go into full-blown chaos. I think they need to be patient, and that we defiantly want a fast resolution here. But it's going to take time, a lot of time, a lot more time than we thought. And that's fine, we're committed to this.
STAFF SARGENT HARRY THOMAS MORGAN: It is my personal belief that if you are in a leadership position, from senator to president, you should have to come over here and live with the soldiers on the ground. Not necessarily in the Green Zone, where we have the most luxuries.
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS TYLER NORTON: It may be hard for anybody who hasn't been here to understand it. My mother sent me an email the other day asking me, you know, "What is it like? What's your job like day in and day out?" And I started writing back, but I didn't know what to say. More than anything, there is almost a daily sense of futility that, you know, no matter how many missions we run, or how many people we capture, or anything like that, nothing changes.
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS MICHEAL OFFIDANI: I just went home. I just got off of leave. My wife gave birth to my little girl, so I was all happy about that. And then I come back here, and it's just... I have 11 months to go, and it's just going to drag, drag on.
NORTON: Too much American blood has been shed, I guess, as far as I am concerned.
JULIAN: I think we came into a country and, you know, we've overthrown the government. We're trying to rebuild a government, and I am afraid that, you know, enough of the wrong people are going to take power and they are going to pull us out. Millions of good people that just want to live are stuck in strife and turmoil now and it's kind of a shame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD: The "In the Spotlight" section of our home page gives you the chance to get a more in-depth look at some of the stories featured in today's show. Log on to CNNStudentNews.com and check out what's In the Spotlight today!
Is this legit?
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is This Legit? September 11 is known as Patriot Day. This is legit: A few months after September 11th, 2001, Patriot Day was signed into law to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks.
LLOYD: Establishing September 11 as Patriot Day was just one of the things done in response to those tragic events six years ago. The attacks changed our government, leading to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. And they affected many young people's lives. In fact, between 800 and 2000 kids lost a parent in the attacks. Several organizations tried to find ways to help families struggling through that loss. Lisa Salvati introduces us to a group of siblings who say they've used that help to make their father proud.
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LISA SALVATI, REPORTER: Bridget Fisher is a freshman at Villanova. She wants to be an engineer, just like her father was.
BRIDGET FISHER, SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT: I think he would be very proud of any of us, but I think he would be touched that I am following in his footsteps.
SALVATI: John Fisher was working for the Port Authority on 9/11. He was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Just last week, Bridget tried out for the college dance team. She found herself turning to her dad for strength.
BRIDGET FISHER: I said something in my head, kind of a prayer to him to help me do well, and I did my best.
SALVATI: Bridget's mother, Gail Fabiyan, says after 9/11, she thought college for her kids was out of the question. Until she heard about Families of Freedom, a scholarship fund for children who lost a parent in the terrorist attacks.
GAIL FABIYAN, LOST HUSBAND IN 9/11 ATTACKS: A huge sigh of relief. Because having 7 children, my thoughts were "Oh my Gosh, how am I ever going to be able to handle helping each one of them out?"
ERIN FISHER, SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT: He would be really happy that I had the opportunity to go to college.
SALVATI: Erin Fisher just graduated from American University with a degree in literature, a university she was able to attend thanks to the scholarship. She recalls her graduation day this past May.
ERIN FISHER: I knew that he was there, and that for me made it easier. I knew that my whole family was there.
SALVATI: Evan Fisher is a Junior at Villanova. He's studying finance and says his dad would be proud.
EVAN FISHER, SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT: His first words would be, "You did fantastic, son. You did great."
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LLOYD: We've got a Learning Activity that will help students examine the historical significance of the 9/11 attacks. You can find it at CNNStudentNews.com. That'll do it for us here today. Thanks for watching, everyone. I'm Monica Lloyd. E-mail to a friend