CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Blair Addresses Congress; New Details From Tenet's Capitol Hill Testimony; Assessment Team Tours Iraq
Aired July 17, 2003 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone. The irony of the moment wasn't lost in the British prime minister. As he stood before a joint meeting of the Congress he received a thunderous ovation. More than I'm used to, he said.
In D.C., Tony Blair is a hero and a friend. At home he finds himself in some trouble. The British, never keen on the Iraq War, are very suspicious of the intelligence that led to it and it seems a bit embarrassed, many believing their prime minister plays follow the leader to President Bush. The two men now share a chapter in history and perhaps very different political fortunes.
It is where we begin the whip tonight, Candy Crowley, part of the team covering the visit of the British Prime Minister, Candy a headline from you.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, Tony Blair and George Bush went to war together and now they're taking heat for it together over questions of whether both of them manipulated intelligence to justify the war. At a meeting today in Washington, the president and the prime minister pretty much denied all of it together.
BROWN: Candy, thank you, we'll get back to you early tonight.
Details are coming out, as you knew they would, from that closed door testimony by the CIA director yesterday, a few names floating around as well. Jonathan Karl has the latest on the intelligence controversy tonight, Jon a headline.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know the CIA director took full responsibility but, at that hearing, the committee also learned exactly who on the president's national security staff was pushing to include the controversial material in his speech. The committee plans to call that person before its committee next week.
BROWN: Jon, thank you.
An important assessment of the U.S. rebuilding effort in Iraq today our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre tonight, Jamie the headline.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, that team of experts that toured Iraq at the invitation of Donald Rumsfeld is back and they're sounding an alarm. They say the window of opportunity for success is rapidly closing and the prospect of chaos in Iraq is getting more real by the day -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you.
And, to Santa Monica finally and the search for answers after that terrible car crash at a farmers' market yesterday, Frank Buckley has been working the story today, Frank a headline.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, the attorney for that 86-year-old man who is the driver here calls what happened here yesterday an unfortunate and unintentional accident. Meanwhile, police are seeking a video that apparently shows the man involved in another accident a few years ago. CNN has obtained that video. We will show you a portion of that later.
BROWN: Frank, thank you, back to you and the rest shortly.
Also coming up tonight on NEWSNIGHT, we'll bring you some of the images of the 3rd Infantry now in Iraq, soldiers trying to keep the peace and keep up their own morale.
And, 35 years to the day after the Ba'ath Party took power in Iraq, a new audiotape has surfaced claiming to be the voice of Saddam Hussein. We'll look at the Saddam loyalists who came out today and, more importantly, the threat they pose.
One place where a half of century of experience doesn't count for much, indeed it counts against you, the baseball field, at least that's what we thought, two players trying to prove otherwise, the old boys of summer tonight.
And, if you hear a rooster crowing, oh my, you know it's time for our nightly look at morning papers from around the country and, with luck, from around the world as well, all that and more in the hour ahead.
We begin with Tony Blair's visit and an observation. You'd be hard pressed to find a poorly spoken British prime minister. This one is no exception. He knows how to work a room, as they say, whether it be in Westminster or Washington. More important, Mr. Blair knows how to make use of that gift to make the best of what, for the moment at least, looks like a pretty tough hand.
We begin with White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, fierce allies in the war on terror, battered by accusations they used shoddy intelligence to bolster their case for war fought back.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I take responsibility for making the decision, the tough decision, to put together a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein because the intelligence, not only our intelligence but the intelligence of this great country, made a clear and compelling case that Saddam Hussein was a threat.
MALVEAUX: But, Mr. Bush did not take responsibility for the controversial statement he made in his State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa. CIA Director George Tenet did last week. The White House attributed the statement to the British in the January speech and Prime Minister Blair made it clear he was standing by his intelligence.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: In case people should think that the whole idea of a link between Iraq and Niger was some invention, in the 1980s we know for sure that Iraq purchased around about 270 tons of uranium from Niger.
MALVEAUX: Earlier in the day, Mr. Blair under fire at home received thunderous applause before Congress.
BLAIR: I'm deeply touched by that warm and generous welcome. That's more than I deserve and more than I'm used to quite frankly.
MALVEAUX: He said even if weapons of mass destruction were not discovered, the war with Iraq would be just.
BLAIR: If we are wrong we will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive.
MALVEAUX (on camera): But the question now is whether voters will forgive. Polls show that two-thirds of the Brits believe that Mr. Blair misled them and Mr. Bush's own approval rating has dropped. At the same time, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee continue with their hearings now calling on White House officials to testify.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.
BROWN: Barrels of ink were spilled in the run up to the war trying to puzzle out this relationship between George Bush and Tony Blair. The two men could hardly be more different. It is no less fascinating now that the circumstances have changed in ways that could shake even the sturdiest friendship. That part of the story from CNN's Candy Crowley.
CROWLEY (voice-over): It's like he's the Lone Ranger riding in just when George Bush needs him, no silver bullet but a silver tongue.
BLAIR: If we are right as I believe with ever fiber of instinct and conviction I have that we are and we do not act then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership. That is something history will not forgive. CROWLEY: The prime minister and the president, they are the yin and yang of global politics, the relentless yang with a blunt instrument vocabulary.
BUSH: Our enemies are looking for signs of hesitation. They're looking for weakness. They will find none.
CROWLEY: The passionate Brit whose first language was and still is diplomacy.
BLAIR: They are our allies and they are yours so don't give up on Europe. Work with them.
CROWLEY: Through better and worse, now is definitely worse, they are making history.
BUSH: Well, we both use Colgate toothpaste.
CROWLEY: It was all he could think of when asked at their first meeting what they had in common, but that same year, September 11 a common rage soldered the relationship. There was no question that Blair would be there for war in Afghanistan and, later, the seasoned prime minister took the case against Iraq to Europe adding weight to arguments of the new president.
And then it was Bush who took the case back to the United Nations when Blair was being pilloried on the streets of London. Most of Europe walked away. The U.N. balked and so it was mostly the two of them shoulder-to-shoulder in a war against Iraq. And now, they are back-to-back fighting off hostilities on the home front.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth is the Bush administration went to war without a plan to win the peace in Iraq. It gave presidential sanction to misleading information and is still trying to conceal what happened.
CROWLEY: Kid stuff compared to the full frontal assault on the prime minister.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can he now reassure the House that we and the people of this country were not duped and that British soldiers were not sent to heir death on a false premise?
CROWLEY: From the get-go, it's been tougher for Blair, partly because politics in Britain is guerrilla theater, mostly because the war was never popular there. And now, both men face some political danger and their respective intelligence agencies bicker over the dependability of some British intelligence. Still no weapons of mass destruction nor democracy in Iraq but the duo still stands.
BLAIR: Our job is to be there with you. You're not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty.
CROWLEY: And just to think, Aaron, it all began over toothpaste. BROWN: And, Mr. Blair is gone or about gone by now? I mean this was a very quick visit.
CROWLEY: It was. He's en route elsewhere and he was going to receive this medal from Congress and was going to address Congress so he came, so this wasn't a full-fledged meeting but it came at a time when he can do the president some good, although it's pretty doubtful that the president can do Mr. Blair any good at this point. Mr. Blair is a lot more popular in the U.S. than Mr. Bush is in Britain.
BROWN: Candy, thank you very much, Candy Crowley.
We talked a bit about that. You saw a bit of this in Candy's report. Tony Blair against the grain of public sentiment in his country though things did turn around a bit when Baghdad fell. There has been considerable erosion since then. We'll take a look at how Mr. Blair's visit is being seen back home.
Matt Frei is the Washington correspondent for BBC World News, Matt good to see you tonight.
MATT FREI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, BBC WORLD NEWS: Good to be here, Aaron.
BROWN: How will the speech play, would you guess, back home?
FREI: Well, all the headlines apparently in London and in London newspapers are history will forgive us that line from the Blair speech and, of course, I think as Suzanne Malveaux pointed out perhaps the voters in parliament won't forgive Tony Blair.
The heat is certainly still on him but there's something that happens in the British voter even in the most skeptical British voter, a kind of chemical reaction when they see a British prime minister subject to a 14-minute standing ovation in (unintelligible).
I think even the most hardened critic will be quite warmed by that experience because, to be honest, everybody likes to be liked by America, even by this America.
BROWN: Does Mr. Blair need, in ways that perhaps the president does not, weapons of mass destruction to be found?
FREI: Absolutely. I think that's the key point, Aaron. As far as I can tell the hot waters, political hot waters for President Bush in this country are made hotter by the daily casualties in Iraq on the ground; in other words, people asking why are we going there if it's going to cost us so much?
I think in Britain the issue is not so much that but why did we go there in the first place? Was the intelligence spun or, as one reporter called it, fixed up in order to make the case for war against Saddam Hussein more robust?
That is a key question of integrity and credibility and, to be honest, Tony Blair's been pummeled about this in parliament for the last month or so, some extremely bruising debates which he's fended off very well in that verb-to-verb, noun-to-noun hand combat that he does so well.
FREI: That I think that this White House quite admires him for.
BROWN: This is perhaps a bit crass, what does Mr. Blair get out of the relationship? It's pretty clear what Mr. Bush or President Bush gets out of it. What does Mr. Blair get out of it?
FREI: That's a very good question, actually, because I think it's the question that really many Brits were asking themselves throughout this whole crisis and, especially throughout the run up to the war. Why does this man who was always accused of basically saying things to please as many people as possible suddenly swimming against the popular tide when it was so clear that it was really hurting him in the opinion polls?
And, I think there are several reasons. I think he genuinely believes in his mission as outlined again today and, of course, rather like your president he underpins it with almost evangelical language.
And, secondly, I think he feels that a British prime minister is much better off on the inside than on the outside. That's the only way to influence events in Washington.
As a British diplomat once told me after 9/11, just a few days afterwards, he said: "In the jumbo jet of international diplomacy, we don't want to sit in coach sniping from the back. We want to be in first class right behind the president of the United States."
And, I guess that's where they're sitting and things like taking George Bush to the United Nations, even though of course that turned out to be a failed marriage of convenience rather than a marriage of conviction, Tony Blair would say that is largely down to him.
BROWN: Does Mr. Blair need to bring something back with him from this trip? Does he need to bring, I don't mean this quite literally, but the two detainees in Guantanamo, for example, does he need something from the president on this trip to help himself?
FREI: Aaron, the two detainees in Guantanamo would help very nicely, thank you very much. I think if he doesn't get them and if that becomes a very bruising standoff with the U.S., with the administration basically saying they're not going to bow towards this and I have a feeling that they might actually be budging on that issue, then I think that would play very badly back at home.
He needs something. He needs more than indeed President Bush putting pressure on the Israelis in the Middle East process, peace process. A lot of that has happened already and Tony Blair has basically said that that is a lot down to his own influence on President Bush but he needs more. He needs those Guantanamo detainees and he needs those more than the 14 minutes of standing ovation that he got today. BROWN: Matt, thanks a lot for joining us tonight, very nice, Matt Frei of the BBC with us tonight on the view from Britain on Mr. Blair's visit. We'll have more on that coming up too.
Also coming up on NEWSNIGHT tonight, the intelligence blame game, the CIA director took the fall. Who might else fall with him?
And, later the rising death toll after a terrible car accident in Santa Monica, California, more on the history of the driver.
From New York, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: More now on the uranium fallout. Earlier tonight on CNN, Pat Roberts, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee made some news. He said a request has been made to interview members of the National Security Council staff, this after the name of a staffer leaked and word got out that CIA Director George Tenet is pointing the finger at the White House, so much for closed door hearings.
Here's CNN's Jonathan Karl.
KARL (voice-over): Although George Tenet has taken responsibility for the questionable line in the president's speech, Democratic Senator Richard Durbin says Tenet's closed door testimony made it clear that the blame really lies in the White House.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), INTELLIGENCE CMTE.: The president has within his ranks on his staff some person who was willing to spin and hype and exaggerate and cut corners on the most important speech the president delivers at any given year. That to me is inexcusable.
KARL: But, the White House says it is Durbin who is distorting the truth.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: Senator Durbin is putting words in someone else's mouth and trying to characterize it in a way that I think is just nonsense. It's absolute nonsense.
KARL: The person in question is National Security Council official Robert Joseph. According to several sources at Wednesday's closed hearing, CIA analyst Alan Foley named Joseph as the individual who wanted to include the controversial allegation about Iraq's alleged attempts to buy uranium.
Foley initially objected but when Joseph attributed the charge to the British government, he agreed it was technically correct that the British had made the charge.
He then signed off on the now famous 16 words but never brought the line to the attention of CIA Director Tenet. Republicans at the hearing deny that there was any indication the White House pressured the CIA to approve the controversial line. SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: I would not characterize the statement by the individual concerned as any pressure or any insistence. I think it was really -- it was merely recounting a conversation.
KARL: Government sources confirm that Foley said he never felt pressured but the Intelligence Committee is turning its investigation to the White House notifying the National Security Council that it wants to talk to those who worked on the controversial material in the president's State of the Union speech. As the investigation continues, Republicans are more aggressively defending the president and accusing Democrats of exploiting the issue.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: In their zeal to score political points they've sacrificed the national interest on the altar of partisan politics and are making accusations that are grossly offensive against the president and those of us who believed and continue to believe that our liberation of Iraq was the right thing to do.
KARL: The president could cite executive privilege and refuse to have members of his National Security Council testify before Congress but the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Pat Roberts says the White House has indicated to him that that's not going to happen. The president will let his advisers answer questions before this committee -- Aaron.
BROWN: How significant an expansion, if that's the right word, of the committee's work on this is the decision to bring the NSA guy up?
KARL: It's a significant expansion. This has been focused on intelligence, on the CIA, on the intelligence agencies, and now it's going right to the White House and it's also significant that it's going to the National Security Council because those people are considered advisers to the president.
They are not confirmed by the Congress. They are not answerable to the Congress. They really don't have to testify, so this is a whole new direction for this. But from the very beginning the chairman of the committee Pat Roberts has said let the chips fall where they may. Questions have been raised about the National Security Council so they're moving in that direction.
BROWN: Jon, thank you very much, Jonathan Karl on the Hill tonight.
You can trace the administration's recent troubles to an op-ed piece by Joseph Wilson in "The New York Times" a couple of Sundays ago. He's the former ambassador who last year conducted a fact- finding mission to investigate the charges that Iraq was shopping for African uranium. He accused in the piece the administration of twisting intelligence and now says the administration is playing hardball with him. Matthew Cooper is reporting the story for "Time" magazine. You can read the piece tonight on time.com or just listen to us for a while. He joins us to talk about a bit about it, good to see you.
MATTHEW COOPER, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Good to see you.
BROWN: The ambassador used the word smear. He feels he's being smeared, how so?
COOPER: Yes, he feels strongly about this. Well, you know, as you said a few weeks ago he did this op-ed in which he said that the administration had twisted the truth and had not taken adequate account of this report that he'd written over a year back, which largely poo-pooed the idea that Iraq was trying to get uranium from the African country of Niger.
Well, after he did that and after this whole thing unfolded last week, the White House made some, you know, rather disparaging comments about Wilson, about his trip, and now some government officials even intimated that the whole reason he took that trip in the first place is because his wife works at the CIA. Well, that's what he -- that's what really got Wilson's ire up and so he told us that he felt like he was being smeared.
BROWN: Some of this stuff is, I will characterize it here as, a bit petty. I mean the thing about the wife, some of it is actually substantive.
BROWN: They talk about -- the White House has talked about things that were left out of the "Times" op-ed piece that were in the report, things that weren't told.
BROWN: That sort of thing. Why don't you talk for a minute about his -- their version and his version?
COOPER: Well, the White House and others in the administration have been saying that, look, his report far from completely pouring cold water on the idea that Iraq sought to get uranium for nuclear devices in Africa, actually in some ways confirmed what the president and Prime Minister Blair have been saying.
They point to the fact that in his report he noted, and this gets a little complicated, but he noted that the Iraqis approached a former Niger government official a couple of years back asking, you know, to do more business and that that official interpreted it as a sly maneuver to get uranium.
Now, Wilson says, look, yes that was in my report but it doesn't -- I didn't think it was very conclusive. The White House and those in the administration are saying, look, you see that underscores our case. So, it gets very inside baseball but, look, the bottom line is, as you said in the set up piece, is you know there's a real blame game going on and this is just one little chapter of it.
BROWN: I want to talk about the ambassador for a second. After he wrote the op-ed piece he said that's it. That's -- I've said what I have to say. It's basically out there. I gather after talking to you he said the same thing. That's it. This is over. It's out there. How would you assess his mood these days?
COOPER: Well, I think he's, you know, I mean everyone in these kinds of situations, you know, it's not unlike a fight you might have in your own family. I mean people sort of feel aggrieved and I think he felt like he bit his tongue for the better part of a year and he only, you know, did this op-ed piece after he couldn't take it anymore.
And, he felt like, you know, once the White House admitted that that line shouldn't have been in the speech about Iraq trying to get uranium from Africa then he'd lay still. But I think these charges and counter charges have gotten him a bit riled up and, frankly, those in the administration too.
BROWN: Do you think he's done now that he walks away from all of this or do you think we'll hear more from him?
COOPER: I don't know. I think it depends on how long the issue itself goes on and, you know, whether we ever really parse out exactly how that line got in the speech.
BROWN: Seems like everyone in town is trying to figure it out. Matt, thank you.
BROWN: Matthew Cooper, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief, "Time" magazine tonight from Washington.
Still ahead on the program tonight a new tape yet again supposedly from Saddam on an important day as Iraqis take to the streets to shout his praises, some do. At the same time, a report says the U.S. is risking now losing the peace.
Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: Imagine what American soldiers must think when they see firsthand what you're about to see on tape. We shot the pictures today but they differ hardly at all from the fist-pumping, gun-waving rallies that took place when Saddam Hussein was running the show.
And, for the people you're about to meet he still does and with another tape purported to be Saddam making the rounds again today, these people have one more reason to believe, in Baghdad tonight CNN's Nic Robertson. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ROBERTSON (voice-over): For the first time since Saddam Hussein's fall, a gun-toting rally in his support but first mostly children joined soon after by men on motorbikes displaying rocket- propelled grenade launchers, recent weapon of choice against U.S. troops and outlawed under coalition rules.
"We don't accept these matters" this Saddam loyalist says. "We continue to resist and the Americans have to leave our country."
Other emerged from side streets bringing their weapons to mark the day 35 years ago Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party seized power. Also on this anniversary, a taped message delivered to an Arabic language news network reportedly from Saddam Hussein himself.
The voice, which could not be independently verified to be the former Iraqi leader, condemned the new governing council and told Iraqis to support the fight against U.S. troops and a suggestion he wants to come back to power.
Few watching on TV believe that likely. Most worry such messages will prolong attacks on U.S. troops and add to the suffering of the Iraqi people.
(on camera): For the U.S. troops, despite intelligence reports indicating this could be a bad day for attacks, the Baath Party anniversary passed off relatively peacefully. The gun-toting Saddam Hussein supporters, however, hint at a new boldness and potential trouble yet to come.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Baghdad.
BROWN: .. cost of the war. It's hard to put a price on missing a child's birthday. The son of a soldier in the 3rd Infantry Division said this the other night on the program: "We wanted him to come home on my birthday, but the president changed his mind. He keeps on doing that."
The soldiers themselves are grownups of course, who get that war is unpredictable and they may not be home as soon as they thought. And anyone who's ever been in the service knows that complaining is hardly new. That said, there is something unsettling about the comments we've heard this week out of the 3rd I.D.
A reporter and photographer from "The Atlanta Journal- Constitution" are with the 3rd Infantry Division now in Iraq. Here are some of the images and emotions that they've captured.
BRANT SANDERLIN, "THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION": My name is Brant Sanderlin. I'm a photographer with "The Atlanta Journal- Constitution." And I'm in Fallujah with reporter Ron Martz. RON MARTZ, "THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION": We are back in Iraq. We both were with the 3rd Infantry Division embedded during the war. And we have come back to kind of close the loop on the story with the unit that we were embedded with.
They arrived in Kuwait last September and have now been here about 10 months. The Army has a policy of first in and first out. It didn't work that way this time. They decided to extend this unit because it's an armored brigade and they have capabilities that the lighter units don't have. When they got extended, we sort of felt it was our duty to come back, find out what they're doing now, and to try to tell the story of what they're going through here in this sort of peacekeeping/sustainment mode that they're in at the moment.
They have been told on at least three different occasions to be prepared to pack up and move out in the next couple of weeks. They will be extended probably through September, so that they will have a full year in theater. So this was quite a blow to them and quite a blow to their wives, also.
They want to believe what the senior leadership of the Army tells them. And then to have the senior leadership, to have those decisions that they're being told reversed by the civilian leadership really frustrates them.
I have been talking to guys who are saying that they have been lifelong Republicans, but they will not vote for a Republican this time around, as long as Rumsfeld is the secretary of defense, because they feel like the decisions are being made without sufficient input of the senior leaders of the Army.
SANDERLIN: Now they're going up and, at different times of the day, they're just going up and checking on the dam. So that basically entails driving tanks through Fallujah, up through the dam and checking with security forces there.
That's pretty much their parade that they get every time they go through town. It's just hundreds of kids, and even a lot of the adults, who will wave and smile at them. As a kid, just seeing a tank down your street, there is no political implication involved. To them, it's just a big neat machine coming down the road.
A lot of these soldiers, just from being on patrol up there, kind of became friends with these guys. The guy that's on the photographed arm-wrestling, he actually taught them how to do pushups and sit-ups. That's kind of a little routine they have when they go up there.
MARTZ: There are not a lot of amenities over here. They don't have showers. There's no running water. There's a limited amount of electricity, a limited amount of air-conditioning. They still have people sleeping outside at night, because it's just impossible to sleep inside some of these rooms that they have here.
SANDERLIN: When they start getting down, the first sergeant reminds them this is what they signed up for. This is the Army. And if you don't like it, you can get out eventually. (END VIDEOTAPE)
As we saw a few moments ago, some Saddam loyalists rallied today on the anniversary of the Baath Party coup. But today was a holiday Iraqis did not have to celebrate if they didn't want to. And one Iraqi said today: This is the best July 17 so far, because there is no Saddam, no Baath Party. We're better off without them.
But freedom doesn't turn the lights on. Freedom doesn't protect you from the thugs in the streets. It's not hard to see why some Iraqis say everyday life was better before the war. And a team of experts just back from Iraq says the United States needs a fresh approach in Iraq today.
Once again, here's Jamie McIntyre.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The think tank report warns, the potential for chaos in Iraq is becoming more real every day and says the next three months are crucial to success or failure.
FREDERICK BARTON, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: This is a turbo-charged moment. If we don't pick it up, there's a real risk of not succeeding here.
MCINTYRE: The experts from the Center For Strategic and International Studies spent 11 days in Iraq at the invitation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the head of the CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority, Paul Bremer.
Their 10-page report details dozens of shortcomings and concludes, "The window of opportunity for the CPA to turn things around in Iraq is closing rapidly," the biggest problem, lack of security. The report says, "Although the coalition military presence is large, it is not visible enough at the street level, particularly in Baghdad, nor is it sufficiently agile." As a result, Iraqis are still afraid.
ROBERT ORR, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: They see a mayor getting killed here, policemen getting blown up at a graduation ceremony there. If we can get the security situation right, we will unlock that population to build a new Iraq.
MCINTYRE: The report stops short of recommending more U.S. troops, but says the U.S. must train and equip Iraqi police at a much faster rate. And the report is highly critical of the way Paul Bremer's provisional authority is organized. "The CPA lacks the personnel, money, and flexibility needed to be fully effective," the report says, adding, "It is isolated and cut off from Iraqis and does not know even close to what it needs to know about the Iraqi people."
The report's authors say the U.S. should swallow its pride and admit it needs the help of other nations to bail it out.
BARTON: This is a huge undertaking. And we just need more players. There can't be a heavy U.S. footprint.
MCINTYRE: The report has seven key recommendations about expanding the mission, giving it more money, and also decentralizing it. Those recommendations have been sent Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The Pentagon said today, they appreciate all the hard work that's gone into the report. And they're working their way through the recommendations in a systematic way to see how they might implement some of them -- Aaron.
BROWN: Again, this was a group that went over there at the invitation or the suggestion of the secretary of defense. This is not some rogue group that made these recommendations?
MCINTYRE: Right. And it's headed by the former Deputy Defense Secretary Jack Hamre, a very well-respected man. It grew out a conversation that Hamre and Rumsfeld had about Iraq. And Hamre offered to go. And Rumsfeld took him up on that offer.
BROWN: Anyone there surprised at the directness -- I was going to say harshness -- perhaps harshness of the report?
MCINTYRE: Well, they are putting the base face on it. They really appreciate the fact that it noted there has been a lot of progress.
But the bottom line of this report, if you read all the way through it, is that it concludes the U.S. is essentially in over its head and needs some help. And, as one of the authors said to me today, the U.S. bailed out Europe in Bosnia when they were over their head in that mission. And it's time for the U.S. to realize that it's going to need some -- a lot of international help, because of the enormity of what has to be done in Iraq.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you very much, our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.
As NEWSNIGHT continues: more on the tragedy in Santa Monica, California -- as the death toll rises, questions raised about the driving record of the man behind the wheel.
This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.
BROWN: And NEWSNIGHT continues in a moment. We'll have the latest on that accident in Santa Monica, California, and, of course, later, morning papers.
A break first. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: In Santa Monica today, the stories kept coming about the 3-year-old girl, about the married couple who were recent transplants from New York, the struggling immigrant, the relative of a well-known TV star, all among the 10 killed yesterday after an out-of-control car slammed into a crowded farmer's market. Families are grieving. Dozens of people are coping with injuries tonight. And investigators are trying to figure out what to do with the 86-year-old man driving the car.
More from CNN's Frank Buckley.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty- six-year-old Russell Weller remained in seclusion after being released from police custody, as a new videotape emerged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somehow this car has gotten stuck on this wall.
BUCKLEY: Home video of another traffic incident shot by a party- goer 10 years ago that the party-goer says shows Weller, the man with the cane, after Weller allegedly drove his car up onto a retaining wall. The car appears to be the same model involved in Wednesday's incident at the farmer's market.
CHUCK MORRELL, WITNESS: And all of a sudden, we heard a loud crash. We looked outside and went outside. And there was this car. And the person who I didn't know who was -- turned out to be Russ Weller.
BUCKLEY: An attorney for Weller, who was released on Wednesday after police questioning, declined comment on the videotape because he had not seen it. Weller's friends describe him as a caring churchgoer who is involved in community activities.
CLAUDIA TRIFUNOV, NEIGHBOR OF WELLER: He's great. He's unbelievable. He's such a good member of the community. Any time you needed something, he'd be there to help you.
BUCKLEY: Investigators, meanwhile, were at the scene piecing together what happened. They will look at the car to see if there was a mechanical problem. A search warrant was served at Weller's home to see if he was taking any prescription medicines that could have impaired his ability to drive. There is nothing to suggest that Weller intentionally drove through the farmer's market.
JAMES BUTTS, SANTA MONICA POLICE CHIEF: I think, at the end of the day, we are going to find a driver that had diminished capacity. And whether that's going to rise to the level of manslaughter, that's going to be for the district attorney to ascertain.
BUCKLEY: As vendors and cleanup crews attempting to sweep away reminders of Wednesday's horrific scenes, victims like Gil Martinez (ph) tried to deal with the crushing pain of an inexplicable tragedy. Gil's wife, Gloria, the 35-year-old mother of their two children, was among the people killed.
MARIA MARTINEZ, SISTER-IN-LAW OF VICTIM: The kids were everything to her, everything.
BUCKLEY: And, as the families continue to mourn their losses, you can see, as we look down live along Arizona Avenue, that the thoroughfare here has reopened.
Meanwhile, investigators are continuing to work this case, Aaron. They say it'll be two to three weeks before they have enough information to present to the district attorney. The DA will decide whether or not to press charges -- Aaron.
BROWN: Frank, thank you very much. We will let you get out of the traffic there -- Frank Buckley in Santa Monica.
"National Roundup" tonight begins with the a late story: a five- alarm fire, a very big fire, in University City, Missouri. Firefighters are working to control the fire. It's at a bowling alley in the suburbs of St. Louis -- no immediate reports of anyone being hurt at Arcade Lanes. Dozens of firefighters from several departments -- wow, look at that -- are still trying to stop the fire. It's been burning now for more than two hours.
Emmy nominations announced today, "Six Feet Under" getting a total of 16, including one for best TV drama. "West Wing" gets 13. "The Sopranos," "Everybody Loves Raymond," and "Sex and the City" each get 16.
And the first line of this story hooked us. It comes out of Massachusetts: Dog linked by DNA testing to chicken coop massacre has been spared a death sentence. The dog, Sabrina, has been put under a permanent restraining order. And she will be put down if she kills again. Sabrina was implicated after her dog hairs were found at the scene of a ravaged chicken coop. And the owner of the coop had them DNA-tested.
As NEWSNIGHT continues, it's old-timers day at the ballpark, as two baseball icons make their mark.
We'll be right back.
BROWN: They're called the boys of summer, Major League Baseball players, young and strong. And, of course, mostly they are, but not always. The phrase hardly describes the two men you are about to meet.
BROWN (voice-over): He was without a team this season at the age of 42. But on Thursday, Rickey Henderson, a virtual lock on the Hall of Fame, was back in uniform, this time for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the oldest position player in Major League Baseball, for a team that's down, but not out.
BILL FANNING, GENERAL MANAGER, ST. PAUL SAINTS: I know Rickey was playing in minor league baseball trying to stay in shape so --- in case he got an opportunity to play in the big leagues that -- I would have guessed that the Yankees and the Dodgers probably would have been the last two teams that would have signed him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minoso first played in the Major Leagues in 1949.
BROWN: But Bill Fanning knows something about baseball and age. He's the general manager of this team, the St. Paul Saints of the Independent Northwest League, who last night had Minnie Minoso, who's at least 77, leading off and playing designated hitter wearing a uniform from the old Negro Leagues.
FANNING: Minnie came early. He was signing autographs early, talking to the people. He was excited. We were all excited to see him.
BROWN: Both Minoso and Henderson have had remarkable careers. Minnie Minoso broke into the majors with the Chicago White Sox when Harry Truman was president. Back then, the White Sox were owned by the legendary Bill Veeck. And his son Mike is part owner of the St. Paul team.
Rickey has played, and played very well, for nearly a dozen big league teams. He's the all-time leader in stolen bases, and before signing with the Dodgers, played with another independent team, the Newark Bears in Newark, New Jersey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three-two pitch. He walked him.
BROWN: Minoso last night squeezed out a walk from a very young pitcher, who couldn't believe a man nearing 80, perhaps over 80, had gotten on base. Was it a stunt? Absolutely. Ten years ago, he showed up in St. Paul for the same duty, becoming the first professional to play across six decades. After last night, you can make it seven.
FANNING: Guilty as charged. It was a stunt, but it was probably one of the more legitimate stunts that we've pulled in a long time. So, it was a great opportunity for us to give Minnie the opportunity to reach the seventh decade of playing professionally. And it's a record that'll never be touched.
BROWN: Hope he makes eight.
Morning papers in a moment.
BROWN: Anyone remember why we started using the rooster?
OK, time to check morning papers.
BROWN: Thank you. Thank you.
Time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world.
BROWN: We'll begin with "The New York Times," OK? All the news that's fit to print, but it's small print. And so I have got to take my glasses off. I don't want to explain that.
Tony Blair is the picture on the front page of "The Times." And that's the lead story. It runs down the side there. But a couple stories catch our eye here, and one that will clearly break your heart. Over here, please: "Help, But Not Enough, For Girl Who Began and Died in Trash," one of those horrible child death stories that made news a couple of days ago. And "The Times" went back to see what the backstory was and put it on the front page. And that's a nice idea, but it's a horrible story. Nice idea.
A lot of newspapers are using the tragedy in Santa Monica to take a look of the question of drivers and age. This is "The Oregonian" out of Portland, Oregon: Driver Age Limits a Touchy Issue: Fatal Crash Focuses on Whether People Can be Too Old For the Road." They also put the Blair meeting -- or the Blair speech, I guess -- on the front page, as well, of "The Oregonian."
"The Detroit Free Press," also down at the bottom here, OK? Yes, it is "The Detroit Free Press." One: "Are Drivers Too Old? There's No Easy Answer." They take a look at that. Also, on the front page of "The Detroit Free Press" -- this it second day in a row we've seen a story like this. This feels like a trend to me: "Bush's Fan Base Falter as Worries Grow: Iraq Economy Could Hurt Outcome of '04 Election." It seems a bit early, but not to go check the mood in and around. And that's what they did in a story that's bylined out of Washington, or datelined out of Washington.
If we do one Detroit paper, we should try to do them both. How much time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One minute.
BROWN: Thank you.
"Day Care Cuts Strap Poor: State Plan May Jeopardize Welfare-to- Work Program." For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. But the big story on the front page of "The Detroit News": "Area Libraries Weigh Federal Cash or Web Filters." This is that whole brouhaha over whether libraries have to put filters on to keep out pornographic material and all of that.
"The San Francisco Chronicle": "Bush, Blair Defend War Decisions," the big story there.
Let me get -- quickly here. "The Frontline," this is the paper out of the 3rd Infantry at Fort Stewart. And there's a big, long letter from the spouse, the wife of the commanding general. And one of the things she says to the wives there is, don't be complaining, because it gives the Iraqis yet another reason to harm our guys.
That's a look at morning papers. That's the program. We're all back tomorrow, 10:00. You join us, too, please.
Until then, good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
Hill Testimony; Assessment Team Tours Iraq>