Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Some notes from Iraq...
I'm sorry I didn't blog yesterday. I spent most of the day with the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division south of Baghdad. It's one of the areas where local Sunnis have turned against al Qaeda in Iraq and now are getting paid by the U.S. to man checkpoints. (Editor's note: Scroll down to read Anderson's report on this transformation)

The person in charge -- U.S. Colonel Michael Kershaw -- is a student of history, a smart, hard-charging West Point grad who is working hard to capitalize on the Sunni switch. The question of course is what happens when the U.S. leaves? Do these armed Sunni groups become insurgents once again, attacking the Shiite dominated central government we are now trying to support?

The 2nd Brigade has taken hard losses; 53 troops have been killed in their area of operations. So the drop in violence there over the last couple months is very welcome.

Yesterday, there was an attack on Camp Victory, the U.S. base where we had been staying. One person was killed and 11 others wounded.

It's strange: Camp Victory is a sprawling U.S. base near the Baghdad airport, and the previous day I went for a run on the grounds. I could occasionally hear shots in the distance, but for the most part I could have been on any base in any part of the world. The base gets attacked with rockets and mortars with some regularity, but I was still shocked to hear of the losses.

We've since moved to the CNN compound. That was our plan all along: two nights with the military; two nights on our own.

Today, I interviewed Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, as well as General David Petraeus, who is still in Washington. Both interviews will be on the program tonight. Prime Minister al-Maliki surprised me. I expected him to disagree with Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who called his government "dysfunctional." But al-Maliki actually agreed with him.

Anyway, I've been up for two days straight and have to finish editing the al-Maliki interview, but I hope to see you later tonight on the broadcast. By the way, I am curious to hear what you all thought of Petreaus' testimony this week: Was it what you expected? Did it change anyone's mind? Let us know.

-- By Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 6:58 PM ET
GREAT reporting so far this week! LOVE all of the embeds and stories from them! Y'all should have done this earlier!

And your piece on the Sunni's taking matters into their own hands was great also! I really don't know what to think of that though! On one hand it is good because it is helping to stop the violence but on the other you are going to end up with this warlord mentality! So which is the lesser of the two evils!? That is hard to say!

Can't wait to see your al-Malaki interview tonight. Hopefully you asked the tough questions and didn't let him beat around the bush and not answer them! Keepin' 'em honest is supposed to be your strong point....let's hope you did!!
Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 7:17 PM ET
Hi Anderson. Petreaus said nothing surprising. It's obvious this administration's plan will always be "stay the course." If Petreaus had said differently, they would ignore him, just like they ignored the Iraq Study Group. We're going to have to wait until 2009 for any real change. And how many will die in the meantime?

Did Petreaus' testimony change my mind? Not unless you count what I think about his credibility, no.
Posted By Stacy, St. Louis, MO : 7:30 PM ET
Hi Anderson, Unfortunately, I don't believe much of anything coming from this administration and since Bush is the commander-in-chief of the military that includes General Petraeus. We all know what happens to the career of the military men who do not agree with the politics of the decider.
Also, the charts and stats presented don't impress me since they can be slanted any way you want to slant them and most of us little people wouldn't know the difference.
Hope you get some sleep soon. Take care and see ya tonight.
Posted By Judy Stage/Brooklyn MI : 7:31 PM ET
Anderson ,

Regarding Petreaus testimony , he clearly is a man of integrity, not to mention the years of experience he brings to this enormous task , with the eyes of the world watching him, I was convinced that the knowledge and understanding of the situation on the ground and with his forces , he is a man of conviction , the democratic congress can do no better than to slam any noted progress and minimize the the effort, shameful on the ad taken out in the sleaze newspaper, (Please be safe, your take on the situation now is valuable, we need you in the world.

Maritza San Jose, ca
Posted By Maritza Munoz San Jose Ca : 7:40 PM ET
Want to know what I thought of Petraeus' report and subsequent browbeating? I felt sorry for him. I had already decided his report was going to be "written" by the "decider" so nothing in it surprised me---until he started justifying every point questioned. The report was accurate for the time frame he was in.

It was an out and out insult for anyone, myself included, to label him with derogatory remarks. Calling him "Betrayus" is unforgivable.

It appears to me we are right where we started when we began the "surge". It runs out of money in April, so Bush can stand and lie until hell freezes over and most od us still won't believe him.

Thanks, Anderson, for putting our mind at ease when it comes to safety over there!! Now we can all sleep well.

Go get some zzzz'z!
Posted By Anonymous : 7:44 PM ET
Get some sleep ANderson Cooper!
Posted By Anonymous : 7:49 PM ET
Please stay safe. You are doing a tremendous job with your team in Iraq this week. Take care.

My honest opinion is that the testimony did not change my mind on the situation in Iraq at all. I live in an area that is heavily populated with military ( Air Force) families and the war has seen many of my friends and spouses of friends shipped off to war. The testimony of General Petreaus didn't surprise me in the least. I appreciate you and your team at CNN " Keeping them honest".

I love and support our troops but I admit that I am not sure that foraging ahead in Iraq is the correct path. What I'd like to see is some sort of solid plan to get ALL our troops safely out of the war zone in a timely manner.

Sarah ( Florida, USA)
Posted By Anonymous : 7:50 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
General Petraeus, in my opinion, is an honorable man, thrown into a political tornado.
I believe he wants a factual assessment to be made and have it heard by all Americans, not just politcians.
Did we hear, really hear what he said or was it discounted before he opened his mouth?
There's no easy answers, but we can't find solutions if we don't listen with an open mind. An open mind that doesn't know-it-all and is willing to give and take to achieve an answer. Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 7:51 PM ET
No the hearings did not change my mind. I will admit I am probably one of the very few on this blog who think we will remain in the region of Iraq and Afghanistan for many years to come.

This determination is based on my own personal readings and knowledge on religion, international relations and world history. It is based on the facts as I see them and do not reflect a specific party point of view.

President Bush was in Sarasota, FL on September 11, 2001 about 1 mile from my office. I clearly remember that day and my specific actions associated with what I did and how I felt. Having the President here and bearing witness to specific actions of the President and his associates that day helps keep me focused on the fact that we are still at war.

As always, I wish the troops the best and thank all of them and their families for their commitment, service and drive for peace.

Thanks 360 (Anderson Cooper and reporters) for bring the world to our family rooms!
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 7:55 PM ET
I was not shocked by his testimony. I do not believe that the Bush administration forced his testimony, yet I am sure he felt pressure - as always the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Posted By Joe : 7:57 PM ET
Hi Anderson, no need to apologize for not blogging. We have enough to worry about.

Regarding Gen. Petraeus' testimony...what struck me the most was when he said the surge was "meeting goals" and "progress was uneven". For some reason, I can't reconcile the two phrases...maybe it's just me, but I find them contradictory.

You're starting to sound like a war veteran, getting used to sounds of rockets.

I look forward to seeing your interviews with Gen. Petraeus and Mr. al-Maliki.

Thank you, and also thanks to Gary, Nick, Michael, and everyone at 360 for your continuing coverage of the war.

Be safe,

Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 7:58 PM ET

Thank you for all the work you and your crew are doing over in Iraq. Also thanks for the update on the attack on Camp Victory, it was quite a shock to hear about it but with very little details.

General Petreaus? I listened to part of the hearings, but still am not sure how I feel. But hearing him answer No to the question from one of the Senators really made wonder if any good is going to come out oof these hearings and how Petreaus' report will affect the President's speech tomorrow night, my feeling is that the Administration will do just as they please.

Finally don't feel you have to blog every day, we know you guys are busy and free time is precious. Take care and stay safe all of you.
Posted By Marcia, Warren Mi : 8:05 PM ET
I am thankful for all of the programs that CNN has aired about the war. Hopefully it will make people aware of whether you agree or not with the war that people are suffering. God be with you and your crew to keep you safe as you report.
Posted By Amber Ft. Wayne, IN : 8:05 PM ET
Several months ago, we were told September 2007 would be the defining month in determining the level of U.S. involvement inside Iraq.

It seems to me General Petreaus' testimony before Congress was designed to place another roadblock to ending U.S. involvement in Iraq. With the promise of a "possible" troop reduction by July 2008, once again this administration is stalling the American people and Congress.

In the meantime, how many more U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens will be maimed or killed?
Posted By Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 8:06 PM ET

First off, thanks for answering a question I had re when you find time to sleep. You don't. And once you move to the CNN compound you probably will stay up all night chitchatting with Michael Ware.

So what did I think of General Petraeus' testimony? While I am sure the General is a very capable man, I don't think his testimony added anything new to the mix. The surge was planned for a certain period of time and surprise, it will last just that long and then troops will be back to pre-surge levels. So where does that leave us? In my mind back to Square One. Whether we pull out gradually over several months or years, or in greater numbers over a short period of time, the end result will be the same--civil war. Even if we commit to stay forever, as Westerners and infidels, we cannot "make" the Muslim factions get along or govern along side each other in peace for any length of time.

I will be glued to the TV tonight for your interviews. Did you offer al-Maliki tea and twinkies during your interview? Just a little (very little) humor here, we need a smile or two at this point.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 8:15 PM ET
I think one of the most frustrating issues about US presence in Iraq is excellently demonstrated by what happened at Camp Victory--the inability to see any progress, and more importantly, to see an end, a clear destination. This is something that everyone, especially the troops are having to deal with and Gary Tuchman's interview last night with some of the soldiers clarified that feeling of frustration but having to go on despite that doubt.

I also think that Petraeus' and al-Maliki's comments convey the same message--and it's nice to see that they are somewhat converging on a smiliar train of thought. There are issues that need to be worked out and once everyone acknowledges them, we might see some real progress. The fact that al-Maliki is willing to say that his government isn't working is truly exceptional because now maybe they can figure out what exactly about the gov isn't working and how they can fix that.

But for now, it's still a difficult haul for most people. Thanks to the troops for the amazing work they do day to day and thank you for keeping us updated. Stay safe.
Posted By Mehroz B. from Petaluma, CA : 8:16 PM ET

Your reporting is outstanding. Our troops are fighting a battle that may never be won, but the hearts of these young men and women are huge. They are courageous against all odds knowing that someday they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice. My sincere hope is that someone will decide that enough is enough and allow all of our troops to come home. They walk through the valley of the shadow of death and still stand tall under the flag that they so proudly serve.
My heart is filled with love for all of them. My wish for them is that God will place his armor of protection around them and hold them close.

D. Wilder
Posted By D. Wilder : 8:16 PM ET
Dear Anderson,

I was glad that you and the rest of the CNN crew were not injured by the attack on Camp Victory yesterday! However, I was very saddened to hear that one soldier was killed and eleven others were injured.

In my opinion, there was nothing new in General Petraeus' or Ambassador Crocker’s testimony this week, just more of the same. Petraeus' reduction of forces will only return the amount of military personnel to pre-surge levels. That is not a sign of progress.

The testimony seemed to focus less on the successes of the surge and any progress made as a result, and more on the dangers posed by Iran. I am afraid that these hearings are nothing more than a way for the Bush administration to try and justify any future military conflict with Iran.

Also, although the Bush administration says that this is not an open-ended war, they have not provided any type of detailed plan that would suggest otherwise.

Judging by this week's testimony, I think I know what I can expect to hear from your interview with General Petraeus; however, I am very interested in seeing your interview with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. I would like to know what he is trying to do to encourage any sort of political reconciliation in Iraq.

Your report yesterday on the transformation of the Sunni groups was very encouraging, however without reconciliation, they will probably become insurgents once again, and the U.S will never be able to leave Iraq.

I don’t know if the CNN compound is any safer than Camp Victory, but I hope when you are taking those runs you are wearing your safety gear!

See you tonight!

Take care,
Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 8:23 PM ET
I think Petreaus' testimony was just what I expected. All I can say, he is a good spinner of a bad situation. What is wrong with the truth? We the people deserve to know the truth. The only truth we get comes from reporters and people on the ground in Iraq. Apparently, Petreaus hasn't been "on the ground" recently.

As far as changing my mind,he didn't. I'm glad violence is down, but I think we need to the heck out of Dodge. Our men and women of the armed forces are being killed and hurt and it is time to bring them all home. My all our troops stay safe and return very soon.

Everyone stay safe!
Posted By Darla, Scott, Louisiana : 8:24 PM ET
I guess I thought with all the hype, General Petreaus was going to say something profound to the Hill the past couple of days. In the end, it was the same old song and dance, "a little progress here, a little progress there."

The American people are very impatient about change in the status of this war. I do give him credit for facing the firing squad of Democratic candidates though.

No, it did not change my mind about the war. It is Vietnam all over again.
Posted By Sharon D., Indianapolis, Indiana : 8:31 PM ET
Petreaus was simply saying what his Commander-in-Chief wanted him to say. Just an opinion. And not based on anything more than gut instinct.

My mind changed this week, but not because of anything said or done in DC. I received a message from the parents of my friend who died from injuries sustained in Iraq in 2005. It's still hard. I look at the marker for his memorial every day in our school office (it sits while site preps are finished-I teach at his alma mater). He believed in this war that cost him his life. He believed in his mission. And if he believed in it enough to be willing to die for it while trying to save his men when they were attacked, who am I to judge whether it's right or wrong? Who am I to claim to understand military tactics or governmental policy over there or here? I am a citizen entitled to an opinion, but not the right to be judge and juror of the sacrifices thousands have made for this conflict. Any time we can offer the potential of freedom to a person, it's honorable. At a base level what we're doing over there is honorable and needs to be supported and respected. A presidential candidate who doesn't believe all people have the right to freedom scares me and doesn't need to lead my country. A lot is wrong over there that people much more in the know than me need to figure out how to fix. What we're doing is never wrong, though. My friend got that. It finally sunk in for me, too.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 8:32 PM ET
Hey Anderson,
I just wanted to let you know that what you do is so important to so many. Others just report numbers, but you report people. My son was in Iraq not so long ago and many of his brothers and sisters in arms remain. Thank you for all you do for the families that need just a short glimce of their loved ones. Tell Mike Wear to stay out of trouble!He makes me a nervos wreck! Be safe!! We love you guys!
Posted By Meg, Grand Rapids, Mi : 8:36 PM ET

I am finding your reports from Iraq harrowing but enlightening. You ask what we as viewers thought of General Petraeus' testimony. I believe US forces are doing the best they can to fulfill their "mission". But whether or not they are making progress in doing that seems irrelevant to me, because I do not believe the problems in Iraq can be resolved by the US military. Frankly, even after all I've read and heard on the topic from multiple sources, I still do not truly understand why we are there. I do not know how they would define "sucess". I believe America is less safe since we invaded Iraq. As nasty a man as Saddam may have been, he was not a supporter of al-Qaeda. He did terrible harm to his own people, but I do not see how he was harming us. Now Iraq has erupted into a civil war with al-Qaeda emerging as a major player. I just don't understand why the White House could not have anticipated this happening. Why is it the job of the US military to referee another country's civil war? How many Americans must lose their lives before this madness ends?

Thank you for your reporting this week. Stay safe and get some sleep!
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 8:47 PM ET
General Petraeus got spanked before the Senate committees. His report held little value, and he was ill-prepared to answer the Senator's hard-hitting questions.

Don't know if you heard yet, but the LA Times has reported today that U.S. diplomats and military officers have been in talks with members of the armed movement loyal to Muqtada Sadr. See,0,5716268,full.story?coll=la-home-center

I know it's kind of late, but it might be something you want to ask the General about.

Keep them honest!
Posted By Jan from Wood Dale, IL : 8:50 PM ET
General Patreaus' testimony didn't surprise me, but the media reaction to it (as if his words were some sort of hint of things to come) did. As you and your guest reporter, Mr. Ware, pointed out in yesterday's TV report-- Patreaus's testimony was somewhat nebulous and effectively changes nothing.
Posted By Anonymous : 9:00 PM ET
HI Anderson and 360 team!
Anderson-you have been up for 2 days???Please try and get some rest!Thanks to all of you for the excellent reporting this week.Please stay safe,and take care.
I am looking forward to the rest of the week's programs.
Posted By anne newfoundland canada : 9:01 PM ET
With all the work you and the team have been doing, any blog we get is great but you don't need to apologize for not blogging.

The attack on Camp Victory is so sad and our thoughts go to the family of the person who was killed and all those who were injured.

The Petraeus testimony was pretty much what I expected it would be but to hear the General say he is not sure if we are safer......that was just chilling to hear.

Anderson I hope you try and get some sleep at some point. The reports have been amazing but if you don't rest you will burn out and that won't be good for anyone.

Continued safety for you and then entire team.
Posted By Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada : 9:02 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

I didn't know what to expect, but maybe what he said is the answer, but at that it still slow pace. I guess the main question can we trust him. I think so, I just don't know! it's hard to know who to trust anymore.

All I know is we have to get most of our military home soon are we won't have a military.

What if something else breaks out. What would we do then?
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 9:08 PM ET
I agreed with the war in Afghanistan, but not Iraq and have been wanting us out of there for quite a while. However, after listening to the testimony of Petraeus this week the sad realization is that even though we can come back down to pre-surge levels in 8 months even a man as educated and intelligent as Petraeus has no idea where and when the end of Iraq may be. I believed him and his message. It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but it was what I expected to hear unfortunately.

We have made a mess in Iraq. We gave Al-Queda new fuel to fan the fire. Until we clean up our mess and get Iraq back on a somewhat stable standing so Al-Queda and Iran do not walk in and take over, I believe we are there for a long time. Perhaps the Democrats in Congress (especially those running for office) should quit pushing their own agenda and ask the General more questions on what he thinks it will take to finish and how.

Someone said a diplomatic surge would be in order - its hard to negotiate with suicide bombers, car bombs, IEDs, hate, and extremism.

I thought everything was negative before your coverage there; now I see some positives. Thank you for that.
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 9:22 PM ET
Hey Anderson,

First of all, get some sleep, my friend. You need your wits about you there. Please stay safe and thanks to you and everyone there for bringing us these reports.

As for General Petreaus' testimony, I wasn't all that surprised. From your reports the past couple of days, though admittedly I haven't been able to see all of them yet, it does sound like there's been some improvement. There's most likely not as much as he seems to be indicating, but some none-the-less.

What I'm skeptical about is, of course, what happens when we begin to withdraw some of our troops. He seems fairly confident, I however am not. Even if the government manages to soften sectarian lines, a tall order, what happens to the Iraqi people. They have an extraordinary amount of rebuilding ahead of them. Like you mentioned in your piece about the detainees, there's not much waiting for them outside. The lack of occupations and education and the frustrations that go with that, are what terror organizations feed off of. While in Iraq, have you gotten a sense of how the Iraqi people are doing in just living there every day lives and how they see things changing in the future?

Again thanks for being there and stay safe.
Posted By Jennifer, Washington, DC : 9:24 PM ET
Petreaus' testimony provided little in the way of surprise. He is a part of an administration that is opposed to any form of substantive decrease in troup levels or shift from militarily directed state building.

The president is his direct boss. Its not his job to provide the "checks and balances " to the executive branch. All he can do is carry out his militarily directed mission to the best of his ability.

Petreaus did however say that he was not sure if US actions in Iraq were making the US safer. He also said that it was not his job to consider the longterm political implications of the war in Iraq. So even if he has made progress in Iraq that says nothing about the legitimacy of the policy in general.

Congress votes on continued funding of the war this month. These, are the people that must answer the question, is this war making us safer and what are the long term implications of this policy for the US, Iraq and the greater international system.
Posted By Lagan Sebert, Washington DC : 9:29 PM ET
Mr. Cooper,

I have only begun to realize the deep devastation Iraq has gone through and continues to go through. Gen. David Petraeus gave no specifics as to what goals they want to achieve in Iraq. Does he expect the Americans to support the war blindfolded? And we want to hear the truth about the good and the bad going on there(I've read plenty of bad). If our government can go in and come out with more positive than negative then I will believe there is hope for the Iraqi people and that our men and women aren't dying for nothing. I am very glad to see that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agrees that his government is dysfunctional. Somehow they have got to weed out the warlords and druglords but they choose to look the other way. Why? fear of retaliation? No doubt they might receive death threats or yes even death. Aren't they fighting for their country too? There has to be a day when all the Iraqi's (who want peace) in the government take a stand and say "ENOUGH!" Because I'm afraid if they don't then no matter how many troups we send in, it won't make a difference. I would like to know what is being done to reconstruct the government there? Thank you for blogging, you are greatly appreciated being there with our troops. God Bless,

Jennifer H.
Florida, USA
Posted By Anonymous : 9:33 PM ET
Hey Anderson,
I know that the poll said more people trust the military than the government, but I'm not sure that a general under so much pressure will truly say what's on his mind. I think he truthfully stated facts, and left out a whole lot of other things that could have painted a worse (and more accurate) picture of the situation on the ground. I don't call him a lier ,though, since omitting information is not really lying....but it is molding the picture.
Great reports so far btw!!!
Looking forward to the interviews tonight.

Also, ever noticed when you're out with the troops, that you are the only thing in bright blue out there ? Those blue PRESS kevlars are not exactly doing you journalists a favor! ;)
Hope you and the crew will get some rest and lay off the caffeine.
Thanks for your guys' good work!
Posted By Minou, New York,NY : 9:38 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

I was watching the Petraeus report yesterday and when he said that he didn't know if being in Iraq was maing us any safer, how did the troops react? I mean...that must be a pretty difficult thing to hear when you're being put in danger everyday.

Deanna - Bahamas
Posted By Deanna : 9:46 PM ET
Hey Anderson,

General Petraeus appears to have the same opinion everyone else does - he is working hard to get what needs to happen rolling. But like everyone, he doesn't know the answer. He seemed a little unsure. No one knows when the US leaves if the armed sunni will attack a government we are trying to support. People can make a reasonable/educated guess that they will or won't but know one knows that answer. Well... God knows. General Petraeus seemed a little unsure.

Awesome to hear you went running. I run. I do anything, run, bike, rollerblade, swim, daily. I have to. If I don't I'd be horrible to be around. I have a ton of energy. So do you! I even hear shots sometimes. One route I have is kinda near a shouting range. But, Wow! You were close to a lot going on - shall we say! Military base - rockets! O.K. Have fun.

Good to hear from you.

Thanx for everything. Take care.
Posted By Karen, Boston, MA : 10:07 PM ET

I would just LOVE to hear General Petreaus or Bush DETAIL just EXACTLY what All these Vital Interests in Iraq are. I haven't heard anything that vital that we need to sacrifice all these American lives and all this money.

And I am believing them less as time marches on.
Posted By Tony, Gettysburg, Pa : 10:18 PM ET
Nick Robertson's report Wednesday night points out the dichotomy of Saudi Arabia's both financing of Al Quaeda and the justifiable fear of its terror at home. They will (someday) find out that they can't have it both ways and America will pay the price for their foolish whim of a Muslim Califate.
Posted By Anonymous : 10:35 PM ET
Wouldn't have been a hoot if General Petraeus would've commented on the 'stretch of believability' of Senator Clinton's portrayal of her husband? Ah, opportunities lost...
Posted By Anonymous : 10:38 PM ET
Hey Anderson,

That Preacher's wife's comment "relax and enjoy life" and then she shot him was ALMOST as ludicrous as your report on the Doctors treating every person, and the comment that "Doctors say that the child shot in the arm was 'almost ready to go back to the house where she was shot.'" Great...we shoot them, then patch them up and send them back to the terrible neighborhoods that we helped create, probably so she can be shot again.
Posted By LongBeachDave : 10:44 PM ET
Mr. Cooper,

Please, stop allowing yourself to be a vehicle of political propaganda. We don't need to fuel more hatred towards us from the Middle East.

Do you truly believe that your role as "a messenger" can really provide a non-biased viewpoint? As a gifted intellectual, I'm sure you'd understand my sentiments.
Posted By Koko : 10:47 PM ET
RE the Mystery Plane - it was probably Looking Glass:
Posted By Arachnae, Sterling VA : 11:19 PM ET
Anderson Cooper,
Thank you and all the other reporters who have continued to report on the situations in the mid east.Honestely Im no longer interested in what the administration has to say about the war. No matter what we say or think its pretty much up to them. Im not sure if they are blind or just plain ignorant about the situation.Im very interested though to hear from the soldiers. I know you only have a limited time over there but I wish you could focus more on showing us how our troops are managing, what they do to keep their morale up. For those of us who have our loved ones there we just need to know that they are doing ok. You could do me a favor and let every soldier you get a chance to talk to, thank you for the sacrifice and for showing courage, even when their leaders do not have the courage to make the right decision, and for fighting an enemy that may never be completely eradicated. To Army Sergent Michael Gatua , your one of a kind big brother, keep your head up.Anderson I cannot thank you enough you are one of a kind too. God Bless.
Posted By Valerie, Daytona Beach FL : 11:24 PM ET
30,000 troops home by next summer? I'll believe it when I see it. What really matters is how elated those families will feel when they see their loved ones. 30,000 very fortunate familes who will no doubt count their blessings and hope the others will be just as blessed.

"I'm sorry for not blogging" Anderson? No need to apologize. You've been up 48 hours straight working! And you're running too?!Thank you for keeping your viewers in mind and making time to write to us.

Be careful out there and come back to NY safely.
Posted By Mariela, New York, NY : 11:32 PM ET
The Wall Street Journal Sept 12 '07 has a column that embodies what I think about Iraq, and this ties into the topic of General Petraeus. The Journal contributor states that the closer you are to the war in Iraq- literally, the more supportive and aware of how important and necessary it is you will be. Likewise, if you know or love someone in the armed forces, your support is higher. Conversely the further you are, the less likely you are to care.
Posted By xtina - chicago, IL : 11:56 PM ET
I feel sorry for Pres. al-Maliki because he gets the idea of democracy, but some of his people aren't even literate, much less educated, so how can he explain it to them; many just want the government to do for them, whether it's a dictatorship or socialist form of govt.
Posted By Laura, Tulsa, OK : 12:01 AM ET
Hi Anderson,

I have to say I feel a bit sorry for General Petraeus. One of the other comments said that he was "stuck in a political tornado". I have to agree with that. I think in his heart he wants to say that he thinks that the troops mission there may not do any good in the end. However he is a General and can not wear his heart on his sleeve so he has to give the answers that the administration wants to hear. I wasn't surprised really as I know many people in "top jobs" that would do the exact same thing. I was shocked when he said that he didn't know if anything was going to get safer. I think that showed his frustration immensely.

I must say I'm loving the reports you all are dong this week (I watch them on the repeat show at 5 AM while I'm at the gym and I think the staff there are getting sick of me asking to put CNN they have it on permanently!). Please get some sleep and stay safe!
Posted By Tiffany S-T, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada : 8:52 AM ET
Hi Anderson,
I was not surprised by the General's comments. I do worry about the morale of our troops. I also am quite concerned that if another crisis breaks out somewhere else in the world, we do not have the resources to help.
Please let the troops know how much they are appreciated!
Posted By Pamina, New Rochelle, NY : 12:25 PM ET
Anderson, thankyou for all your informative reports, probably at great risk to both you and your 360 staff. Although I must say you're at your best when in the field. (IMO)
I feel that Petreaus' testimony was as honest as the "powers that be" would allow. My honest belief is that there will be few if any troop withdrawals anytime in the foreseeable future. I hope I'm wrong, but it's not looking very optimistic.
Posted By Bev Ontario Canada : 12:25 PM ET
After reading many of the comments here, America is is huge trouble. We have become a nation of uninformed zombies. I wonder if anybody has an original thought, they just spew what the main stream media mantra. I am so sick of our Congress. The Democrats think bipartisan is agreeing with them and the Republicans just shiver in their suits.
Posted By Anonymous : 12:30 PM ET
Let ALL our senators and reps be accountable for their decision to enter Iraq and let's give General Petraeus a chance to follow through on his military plans.

We look forward to your coverage and analysis of the President tonight.
Posted By Steve - Peoria, IL : 12:36 PM ET
We have an obligation to help the nation of Iraq- whether it's the military action that's shaping up now, or the diplomatic surge proposed by Senate , or maybe a combination of both...
Posted By alan f., albany, n.y. : 12:40 PM ET
Appreciate your reports on new and different angles.

I hope people realize that an answer for Iraq may not come in five or even ten years; the US persevered through struggles in both the Revolutionary War and Civil War with worse casualities and we a great nation because of it. Iraq may never take responsibilty for their nation and government, but we have to help them see this through.
Posted By Garrett D., Albany, NY : 12:54 PM ET
I hope people can see that this is AMERICA'S war, not President Bush's war. The course will change, but the goal of freedom against radical Islam is the same no matter where the fight is taking place.
Posted By Irwin Meehan, Worchester, Mass. : 12:57 PM ET
Thanks for keeping it real.There is so much
junk out there about whar is going on in
that region in the world.Thanks for covering
Iraq,Afghanistan,Pakistan and Iran.This week's
360 has been any eyeopener.Thanks for asking
the powers that be the hard questions.
Posted By Anonymous : 12:57 PM ET
It would have been better if Petraeus was in charge at the beginning of this war, but it is still good that he is in charge now.
Posted By Ken Damianen, Milwaukee, WI : 1:06 PM ET
Some may not like what Gen. Petraeus has to say, but I have no doubt that what he says is true. That includes his "I don't know," and "I haven't thought about it." Miltary men are very standardized, in that they do specific jobs very well, and are taught to focus so intently on their job, that other matters aren't in their thought pattern. Trust me, this is a good thing.
Posted By Bill S., Manassas, Va. : 1:11 PM ET
Please continue focusing on the bigger picture. With our conflict in Iraq, we're not just talking about preventing terrorist attacks here. We're talking about the literal future of Western civilization. Radical Islam hates everything the West stands for and wants to turn us into the same third-world political and economic situation as they live in. They don't want us to have freedoms, don't want us to have our laws and our way of life, and we have to do something about it.
Posted By david fineman, omaha, ne. : 1:42 PM ET

Can you give us a better idea of what goes on behind the scenes for travelling around and putting the show together each night when over in a war zone.

Ease up on the whining, it's not an attractive trait.

Stay safe and for goodness sake, eat something!
Posted By Anonymous : 2:57 PM ET
Dear Anderson,

Hello again. I hope you were able to get some rest. Last night’s show was a real eye opener.

The al-Malaki interview was so intriguing. I have always tried to ‘read’ his face. I often thought he seemed discouraged or disheartened, or somehow holding something in. (I’m no expert of course) Your interview answered some of those questions.

Gary Tuchman’s piece with the dear little injured children brought tears to my eyes. Oh dear me… that is beyond heartbreaking. I dearly wish we could somehow send them a little gift to cheer them up. The second little girl looked so sad. I felt so hurt…I can hardly write about it. She needs some sort of distraction, something to make her smile. I don’t suppose they live in a world of puppies and kittens. It’s so sad…….

Your discussion with Michael Ware and your statement after the “war of words” about the “the beacon” was heart stopping. My parents wanted to hear it again too, so we hit the rewind button on the DVD recorder. That profound statement should become a famous quote Anderson…

The consequences of war are so sad to witness. It’s heartbreaking. We see so many painful sides of it now – the actual combat, the after effects, innocent civilians who have their lives forever altered. Little children scarred both physically and psychologically. The overwhelming sadness of the mothers waiting at the airport when their dear sons or daughters are brought home to them in a casket, draped in the flag. And the sadness of the soldiers who return with overwhelming pain and grief, trying to get through each day of life after.

This week you and the CNN team have brought us behind the scenes to a war torn region experiencing the greatest upheaval. You couldn’t just walk down the street to buy a newspaper there! Imagine living there…

That prison story was amazing. Rather eerie to see them being led off with tags attached to their heads, what is written on those tags anyway? But to go behind the scenes and then see how they are trying to undo the damage of radical views was absolutely fascinating. Wow. Hopefully it touches their hearts. People can change for the better, if they choose to do so. Being taught how to love and forgive is what they truly need. That is the key. (Mark 12:28-31)

“ 20 If anyone makes the statement: “I love God,” and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also.”
(1 John 4:20-21)

“ 8 He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.”
(1 John 4:8)

Even the great Hindu sage, Mahatma GANDI, upon opening the Bible to The Sermon on the Mount(in Matthew chapter 5) stated these famous words to Lord Irwin, the British Viceroy of India:

"When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world."

What a profoundly moving statement…

Please, please, please take care Anderson and stay safe. Keeping you in our heartfelt prayers – and hoping you able to get some sleep – you must be so exhausted. Thank you so much for your hard work and the human heart you put into it. Wishing you many blessings always.

Kind and gentle greetings from the windy seaside of Canada, A

P.S. As for Gen. Petreaus' - poor guy, he sure is a patient man! His microphone problem gave me the giggles. Everyone was in such a flutter, what a comical muddle. I’m not sure if it was on CNN or another station, but during this microphone muddle, one commentator stated that Gen. Petraeus’ speech was “one of the most highly anticipated speeches in 40 years” – and he could not believe at that important moment the microphones simply would not work. After about 10 minutes, I’m sorry to say that we totally forgot about his speech and only saw highlights later.
Posted By Anonymous : 3:08 PM ET
Hi AC and 360! Another great broadcast last night. I loved Gary T.'s report on the military hospital. I always feel so bad for the little victims. Imagine being in a bed down the hall from your attacker. It's creepy, but doctors are expected to treat all patients. It's sad that the young detainees in AC's report have no life to go back to either. I'm trying to keep an open mind about al Maliki, but I have to admit I really don't trust him. I hope I'm proven wrong. I'm looking forward to the coverage tonight, and I hope you all have a safe trip home and a great week-end!
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 4:32 PM ET
Hey Anderson!

Just to say thanks for your excellent reporting this week. You and your team have been outstanding! Kept me watching past my bedtime. I look forward to tonight's program. Stay safe Anderson and get some rest.

Ontario Canada
Posted By Mo, Ontario, Canada : 5:27 PM ET
hey guys,

I personally think that the general is accustomed to providing Bush-acceptable information and was ill-prepared for the onslught of senate questions he had to answer. at the same time, i think that at this point he's screwed regardless of what answers he gives, whether that be of his own doing or not. the timing of these session was poorly thought out on top of it all. No one, especially thoe like myself who lost loved ones on 9/11, wants to hear that we're not in a safer position here in the west or around the world 6 years later and with countless killed or maimed in some fashion. it's safe to say that no one was surprised by his words. i wonder is that's because we've come to expect so little, or if we're all a lot smarter than they think we are. I bet it's both.

~SarahD, Toronto, ON, Canada
Posted By SarahD : 5:46 PM ET
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