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Transition of power in Iraq two days early, Senator John Kerry applauds U.S. troops for role in transition of power in Iraq

Aired June 28, 2004 - 15:30   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: This is a day of great hope for Iraqis and a day that terrorist enemies hoped never to see.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush welcomes the transition of power in Iraq, two days early. Is it helping him at the NATO Summit or with voters back home?

Dueling images of Iraq. Our new poll shows Americans view the handover in both positive and negative lights.

John Kerry draws a line, siding with a union and snubbing U.S. mayors. Was it a smart political move or a cave-in to political pressure?

Now live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN HOST: Thank you for joining us.

In the words of President Bush, the Iraqi people have their country back. The transfer of power to the Iraqi interim government happened two days earlier than expected in a secretive ceremony, an apparent move to avoid possible insurgent attacks. The scheduling also allowed Mr. Bush to celebrate the handover while he is at the NATO Summit in Turkey.

Senior White House correspondent John King is with the president in Istanbul.

Hello -- John.


That dramatic surprise in Baghdad and a dramatic surprise here at the NATO Summit as well.

Mr. Bush arrived to the meetings this morning carrying a very tightly-held secret. He knew the transfer of sovereignty was imminent, and moments after he arrived for the Summit proceedings this morning, a handwritten note from his National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice: "Mr. President, Iraq is sovereign. Letter was passed from Bremer at 10:26 a.m. Iraqi time. Condi." Mr. Bush scribbled his reaction in the margin, "Let freedom reign!"

He then took a glance at his watch to mark the moment and extended a handshake to the leader seated next to him this morning and next to him throughout the debate over the war in Iraq, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair also met with reporters later in the day, the president calling this a great day for the Iraqi people and also making clear that he believes he and his allies in the war deserve a bit of the credit too.


BUSH: This day also marks a proud moral achievement for members of our coalition. We pledged to end a dangerous regime, to free the oppressed and to restore sovereignty. We have kept our word.


KING: Now this has been -- we are told this has been in the works for a little more than a week, Judy. U.S. officials saying this plan has been in the works for more than a week.

Prime Minister Allawi called the White House last night and said he was OK with going forward and assuming control early. The White House said he wanted to do that because he believes the sooner he takes control, the sooner he can assert authority over the security problems in Iraq. Mr. Bush said look for some difficult days ahead, perhaps even harsh measures, particularly in the hunt for the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.


BUSH: And so Prime Minister is the head of a sovereign government. He may decide he is going to have to take some tough measures to deal with a brutal, cold-blooded killer, and our job is to help the Iraqis stand up forces that are able to deal with these thugs.


KING: Now, Mr. Bush, Judy, also celebrating a vote here at the NATO Summit, the leaders agreeing to provide security training for Iraqi forces, but make no mistake about it, this is much less than the White House had envisioned several months ago. The president at one point thought he might even get some NATO troops to help with security in post-war Iraq. Familiar objections from France and from Germany. NATO has agreed to provide some training, still unclear exactly how and in what shape that training will play out, but, Judy, the president, a subdued reaction, perhaps, no big celebration, but he is certainly upbeat. He believes at a minimum a new chapter dawning now. Of course Prime Minister Blair also saying, though, that many dangerous and difficult days still ahead -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: At the very least it does allow him to celebrate with his friends at NATO. All right, John, thank you very much. Well, John Kerry today is applauding U.S. troops for their role in returning sovereignty to Iraq, but he's not giving much if any ground to President Bush.

Speaking to reporters at the Baltimore Airport, Kerry said despite NATO's decision to help train Iraqi forces, more international help still is needed to secure the country and to bring U.S. troops home as soon as possible.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe it is critical that the president get real support. Not resolutions, not words, but real support of sufficient personnel, troops and money to assist in the training of security forces in order to be able to guarantee a rapid real transition and most importantly in order to be able to provide adequate security on the ground.


WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry had sharper words during a conference call with the American Nurses Association, saying the president's handling of Iraq has helped to make the world, quote, "far more tattered and volatile."

Well, voters' views of the handover and what happens down the road may well influence the outcome of the presidential race.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has the results of our new poll.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The American public views the handover of power in Iraq more or less the same way Iraqis do, with hope but without illusions.

When questioned last week, Americans said they believed the handover will improve the situation in Iraq, as many Iraqis we talked to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We hope that we leave the past behind and lead a good life.

SCHNEIDER: Americans are cautiously optimistic that democracy will be established in Iraq, but the U.S. public is not optimistic that peace and security will be established. A concern shared by this member of the former Iraqi Governing Council.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we are in state of war, almost, and that's why in such cases even other governments, any country, they could take measures.

SCHNEIDER: It is progress, of course, that the terrorists are now on the other side, fighting the Iraqi government. BUSH: 15 months ago, Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism. Today Iraq's leaders, with our support, are systematically fighting terrorists across their country.

SCHNEIDER: So do Americans see the handover as a sign that U.S. policy is succeeding? The answer is no.

By nearly 2 to 1, the public says the transfer of power is a sign that U.S. policy is failing because the United States is turning over power to the Iraqis without bringing stability to Iraq.

Republicans don't feel that way. But Democrats do, overwhelmingly, and so do independents.

As most Americans see it, the United States is saying to Iraq, the insurgency is primarily your problem. Does that mean U.S. policy is to cut and run? Absolutely not.

BUSH: We'll follow through, no matter how tough it gets on the ground.

SCHNEIDER: The United States is not running anywhere.

IYAD ALLAWI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The transformation of societies will not take place in weeks or days or months but this transformation will take years.

SCHNEIDER: That's what Americans are worried about. Most Americans believe a significant number of U.S. forces will remain in Iraq for three years or more, but 70 percent of Americans don't think they should be there that long.


The handover means the United States is no longer the occupying power. It's now propping up a government with shaky authority. Americans believe that's progress, but not yet success -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

And now let's get a high-level view from Capitol Hill. I am joined by the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner.

Senator, good to see you.

SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R) CHAIR. ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: Nice to be with you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Senator, what is going to change now that sovereignty is back in the hands of the Iraqis?

WARNER: What's going to change is, you know, the buck stops on the Iraqi desk now. They have the sovereignty. We have offered to provide a measure of security to backup their willingness to go out and take on the challenges, and to take charge of their nation. But to me, the real test will come perhaps in a month or two, after we've finished training some of these Iraqi forces. Will they take that training, take the best equipment we can possibly give them and go out and take the risk that the coalition military has taken to enforce the law? That's when the rubber hits the road.

WOODRUFF: But is it real sovereignty, Senator, when you still have 135,000 American troops on the ground?

WARNER: Certainly in terms of international relations, it's as much sovereignty as could possibly be given. I think it's real sovereignty, because they can make the tough decisions. And they can take the responsibility. And I have the best information, having met the president of Iraq and other colleagues, the prime minister, tremendously strong, dedicated people have taken charge.

Now, the rubber hits the road when you determine whether or not they're willing to take the risks, the same risks to enforce the law and to secure the freedom that the coalition forces have taken, and that will be several months hence forth.

WOODRUFF: You mentioned NATO training. As you know, the administration wanted NATO nations to send their own troops in to help. They didn't do that. Is this training enough?

WARNER: Well, I think it would be better had they answered the president's call some months ago for NATO to take a more active role, but I must say, I have some concerns.

I just returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan some weeks ago, and NATO in Afghanistan has a presence, but they've fallen behind, and I repeat, fallen behind in their member nation commitments to do the job they setout to do in that country. And that raises, I think, a legitimate question, certainly in my mind. Is it just paper they shoved back and forth yesterday, and memoranda? Or how soon do we actually see NATO troops training Iraqi forces?

I hope soon, but I must say, Afghanistan is behind on their timetable and we don't have that time here in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Senator, I want to quote something one of your colleagues, Senator John McCain, has been saying. He says we didn't have enough people on the ground. Now he says, "We are paying a very, very heavy price for that incredible mistake on the part of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon."

WARNER: Well, Judy, I have, as chairman, been present throughout all the hearings, including the one in which the late -- former chief of army used a much higher figure.

Let me point out that I think General Franks planned this campaign very well, and at the last minute, almost, a week or so, one whole division, the 4th Infantry Division, was taken away from him, literally, when Turkey refused to allow them to go in from the north so we ahd a pincers on Saddam Hussein and his forces from the north and the south. Now that was really a very serious setback and we could not have predicted it, that our ally, Turkey, a NATO ally, would have turned us down in those last few weeks.

WOODRUFF: Senator, one last question. Our new poll shows that while 3/4 of Americans say they approve of the fact the handover has taken place, fully 60 percent of them see this as a sign that U.S. policy is failing because policy or rather power is being turned over before the United States could bring stability to Iraq.

WARNER: Well, the United States and other coalition forces have done their best to bring stability and, true, there is much struggle going on right this minute, and it has I think in the expectations of many, certainly in our hearing on Friday of the Military Committee, the secretaries from the Defense and State Departments, deputies, said just that, that they underestimated the measure or resistance, but in no way do I think we should have delayed this turnover and as a matter of fact I compliment the administration for moving it up a day or two, because as the deputy secretary of state said, it looks like the central nervous system with these insurgents, and perhaps we set that time table off, if they were going to do a lot of damage on the 30th, and saved some lives by moving it up. So I commend the president and others who made it possible.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you...

WARNER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. We appreciate it.

And we would ask you to stay with CNN tonight for in-depth coverage of the next chapter in Iraq, beginning with Anderson Cooper, live from Baghdad at 7:00 p.m. Easter; at 8:00, Paula Zahn is live from Camp LeJeune with military families; Larry King is live from Washington at 9:00; and Aaron Brown is there too, at 10:00 Eastern he'll take a closer look at the handover's effect here at home.

Will the situation in Iraq be much different now that the handover has happened? Up next, another take on America's future in Iraq from John Kerry adviser and former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Also ahead, John Kerry's refusal to cross the line. Will the Democratic Convention in Boston be better because of it?

And later, is "Fahrenheit 9/11" a bona fide blockbuster? We'll find out how the film is doing in both Bush and Kerry country.

With 127 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: Joining me now from New York to talk more about the United States handover of sovereignty to Iraq is Richard Holbrooke. He's a former United States ambassador to the United Nations and now an adviser to the Kerry campaign.

Ambassador Holbrooke, President Bush says this means the Iraqi people have their country back. Is he right?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, KERRY ADVISER: I don't know if he's right nor not. I think the events of today were rather extraordinary. This was a rather covert secretive ceremony. What should have been a great day was held in secrecy because of security. It's a rather strong metaphor for the whole tragic and very unfortunate occupation period.

Phase 2 of the period in Iraq is now over. Phase 1 was a successful military operation. Phase 2 was a disastrous occupation. Phase 3 began this morning. Let's hope it works, but, frankly, it's like diving off a diving board without knowing if there is any water in the pool.

WOODRUFF: Are you faulting them for doing this two days early?

HOLBROOKE: He had no choice, Judy. They did it today not because Prime Minister Allawi asked them to. Anyone who believes that ought to check if there is any money left in their wallet.

He did it because the security people obviously said we cannot hold and event on a regular schedule because the risk is too great.

He had no choice. I don't object to him doing it today. I just don't think we ought to think it was a heroic thing when you have to do a major event of considerable historical importance if it works in secret.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about what I just asked Senator John Warner about, and that is the NATO training of U.S. troops. They say essentially NATO is willing to train these troops outside of Iraq. Apparently it's not the same as adding troops of their own, but doesn't this give the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police, somewhat of a leg up?

HOLBROOKE: Let's not overstate the NATO announcement.

First of all, it was a dramatic lowering of the bar from what the president and the administration had said they wanted for months.

Secondly, they got a very general statement on training.

Third, even if they train people, and they still have a lot of details to work out, it will take months, probably well into next year before anyone is fully trained and back in Iraq.

And, finally, off the record of previous training, when Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president announced all of these tens of thousands of Iraqis who were trained and ready for battle, what happened? One unit refused to fight in Fallujah and the other unit simply melted away.

So I'm not a big optimist that training will make an immediate difference. Of course, it has to be done, but let's not put all our eggs in the training basket.

WOODRUFF: Let me separately ask you about President Bush meeting with NATO leaders in Turkey. The president said over the weekend he thinks the bitter differences of the war are over. He has been posing in very friendly settings today with these other leaders. Is that the reality of the U.S. relations with these other countries?

HOLBROOKE: Photo ops, which are required by these annual NATO meetings, do not a policy make. And these photo ops are useful, but these countries have been bruised and battered by the way they related to the United States.

It's fine for President Bush to now recognize that Turkey is a secular democracy, the only one in the Muslim world. But he and his colleagues, particularly Paul Wolfowitz and Secretary Rumsfeld, should never have spent the last year criticizing Turkey. Of course Turkey voted not to let us use Turkey as a staging area for Iraq, and I disagree with the Turks for doing that. But we have to respect their democracy. They're a critical part of NATO. They're a frontline state, and attacking them that way only served to alienate us from one of the most important, I would argue the most important, ally we have in the post-Cold War world.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. Richard Holbrooke, former ambassador to the United Nations, good to see you again.

HOLBROOKE: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks for talking with me, appreciate it.

Well, John Kerry makes good on his vow never to cross a picket line. Up next, Kerry cancels a Boston speech and the look at the potential labor woes facing the city just weeks before the Democratic Convention.


WOODRUFF: A labor dispute between Boston police and City Hall led John Kerry to cancel a planned speech today to the National Conference of Mayors.

Kerry's decision disappointed Boston's mayor. But a short time ago, Kerry said he understands the concerns of both sides in the dispute.


KERRY: I'm very sympathetic to what workers are trying to achieve and I'm confident that people of goodwill and good spirit over the next weeks can come together and find a resolution.


WOODRUFF: Kerry's decision to call off the speech raises new concerns about possible labor problems in Boston just weeks from now when the city hosts the Democratic Convention.

Our Boston bureau chief Dan Lothian has more.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): After sending mixed signals all weekend on a politically sensitive issue, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry refused to cross a police union picket line to speak at a conference of U.S. mayors in Boston.

Boston's Police Union, working without a contract for more than two years, had been pressuring Kerry to back out of today's speech while turning up the heat on the city's mayor.

Union members protested outside the conference attended by more than 200 mayors. They even rented a yacht and used the bullhorn to heckle the weekend gathering. They are trying to force a deal with Mayor Menino.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe he should meet me at a table.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't spend money I don't have.

LOTHIAN: Kerry's decision not to speak angered some mayors who want to hear the presumptive nominee's plan for helping their cities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would have been a tremendous opportunity, it's a missed opportunity by Senator Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the mayors have been using words like blackmail, extortion, by these unions.

LOTHIAN: Union members stand by their tactics and say Senator Kerry did the right thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the history of Senator Kerry's career, he's never disrespected a line.

LOTHIAN: In exchange for his loyalty, the police union vowed not to picket Kerry during next month's Democratic National Convention.


LOTHIAN: But the Patrolman's Association as well as other unions do plan to protest across the city during the convention. Unless they get agreements, they say they will also continue to target any official gatherings the mayor may have planned -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. They all mean business. OK. Dan, thank you very much.

Well, stay with us for the political fallout from today's developments in Iraq. We'll have reaction to the handover of sovereignty from Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail.

Also, the Supreme Court rewrites the rules for treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism. We'll tell you what is different after today's rulings.



BUSH: Earlier today, 15 months after the deliberation of Iraq, two days ahead of schedule, the world witnessed the arrival of a free and sovereign Iraqi government.

ANNOUNCER: Handover complete, but how much has really changed in Iraq and what are the campaign consequences.

He's speaking in primetime. He is too. But wait, there's more. We'll go through the lineups for the Democratic and Republican conventions.

A box office bonanza. It was a record weekend for "Fahrenheit 9/11," but is the movie packing theatres in red states as well as blue states?

Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

From Istanbul to right here in Washington, many members of the Bush administration and their Republican allies are patting themselves on the back now that the transfer of power in Iraq is behind them. Meantime, Democrats need to be talking more about the many challenges still ahead in Iraq.

Congressional correspondent Ed Henry reports on handover politics playing out in this election year.


ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For President Bush, finally some good news on Iraq.

BUSH: This is a day of great hope for Iraqis and a day that terrorist enemies hope never to see. The terrorists are doing all they can to stop the rise of a free Iraq but their bombs and attacks have not prevented Iraqi sovereignty and they will not prevent Iraqi democracy.

HENRY: Republicans hope this historic moment boosts the president's political fortunes but they're wary of raising expectations given the continued violence in Iraq. In fact, Bush- Cheney campaign officials decided to decline all interview requests passing up a golden opportunity to crow about the positive development. Democrats charge that the transition is nowhere near complete.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 90 percent of the coalition on the ground is American. 90 percent. And 90 percent of the cost is being borne by the American people. I believe it is critical that the president get real support, not resolutions, not words but real support of sufficient personnel, troops and money to assist in the training of security forces in order to be able to guarantee a rapid real transition.

HENRY: In pure political terms, a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll has mixed news for the president. Three quarters of Americans approve of the handover and most say it will improve this situation in Iraq. But 60 percent said the transfer of power is a sign U.S. policy is failing. Republicans, like House Majority Leader Tom Delay believe while there will be more violence, the situation is getting better. Delay said, quote, "Iraq's long journey to freedom is not yet free from danger but no one can dispute that today a corner has been turned." Democrats say they've heard that before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, we had Mission Accomplished, and now we're turning the corner again? How many corners are we going to turn.

HENRY: Judy, Republicans are being cautiously optimistic about the news of the handover, the quicker handover. Democrats are being a little more aggressive. In fact, the Kerry campaign put out a memo charging that there are two Iraqs, the rosy scenario laid out by President Bush versus the reality on the ground. So Judy, the battle is joined.

WOODRUFF: Sure is. Ed Henry, reporting from the Capitol. Thank you very much. Let's talk more now about the politics of the handover with CNN political analyst, Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times." First of all, Ron, the fact that they did this two years early -- two years, two days early. Does that have any bearing on the political debate?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": I don't think in the long run. It does reflect the security situation. This is a moment with great opportunity for the president and some risks as well with the balance as usual likely to be determined by the actual events on the ground. The opportunity is obvious, after months of relentless bad news from Iraq, it does give him an opportunity to turn the page with the public, to argue that the plan is proceeding in some respects along the line he laid out.

This is the beginning of things getting better. It will have a more Iraqi face on the government and potentially change the dynamic a little bit in Iraq itself. The risk is if things don't get better and the hopes of the public that this will mark a turning point are dashed, it's not clear what he can point to down the road as the next milepost he can rally public opinion around. This is an important moment in his presidency and presidential campaign.

WOODRUFF: Ron, how much hinges on the level of violence going forward?

BROWNSTEIN: Obviously, it's been critical. There's an important distinction here, one that we don't know the answer to yet. It is entirely possible that one result of this will be fewer American casualties, as we asked Iraqi forces to do more. At the same time, we see more chaos and more violence directed at Iraqis themselves. I don't think we know yet how the public will react to that. The conventional wisdom is that the driving force in souring the public on Iraq has been the high level of American casualties, also the concern that if the place seems to be spinning into chaos, the voters may recoil against that as well and see it as a source of instability rather than stability the president promised. That is a critical variable and we don't know how it will play out.

WOODRUFF: How much of a burden is there on John Kerry to argue he could have, would have done something different?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, he's really down to implementation at this point rather than broad philosophical argument. In many ways, we passed the point of the broad philosophical disagreement between the two. As White House officials say, in some ways, Kerry is reduced to a Michael Dukakis-like competence not ideology argument. He is still arguing that he as a new president would have a better chance of winning broader international support and that's still the standard he's trying to hold the president to. For example, at the NATO meeting, Kerry aides have been arguing that we need more than just training, we need boots on the ground and this president's never going to get it but clearly the bright line distinctions he enjoyed earlier in the campaign are fading as we move to this implementation phase of the handover.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying there's not much Kerry can do, it depends on what happens on the ground in Iraq.

BROWNSTEIN: The driving force in this election have been events on the ground in Iraq. It will be referendum on the president's decision and performance in Iraq than it will be on Kerry's alternative. What he has to do is convince people that he can protect the country and do so in a different way. The core of that argument has been all along that he will win more international support. That is the horse he's sticking with in the argument over Iraq. It gets a little tougher as the U.N. blesses the new government, as NATO makes a modest commitment, no more than that toward training the troops. That is the distinction he wants to carry forward.

WOODRUFF: We'll leave it there. Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times." Always good to see you.

Back to Iraq, the ink is still fresh on the transfer of power. Are Iraqis ready for what lies ahead? Talk with the interim government's incoming ambassador to the United States. Plus Republicans and Democrats getting starring roles at their party's convention. What's the strategy behind the scheduling?


WOODRUFF: Beyond Iraq, and the broader war on terror, the Bush administration suffered a setback today at the United States Supreme Court. The justices ruled American citizens and foreign nationals held as potential terrorists can challenge their treatment in U.S. courts. More now from CNN national correspondent, Bob Franken -- Bob. BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, on a day where the administration was claiming success with the turnover in Iraq, it was suffering what most view as a setback here at the Supreme Court. In fact, a series of setbacks. In cases that have been watched very closely, the Supreme Court ruled against the administration's claim that the courts had very little jurisdiction, that the president had all the jurisdiction when it came to how the enemy combatants would be treated.

One of the ones who was the biggest surprise, was the case of Guantanamo Bay. The Supreme Court ruled the court jurisdiction does extend to Guantanamo Bay instead of the administration's point that since it is outside the borders of the United States, the southern part of Cuba, that U.S. court jurisdiction does not extend to that. Of course, there are 600 detainees there and what the court ruled was that since it is so effectively controlled by the U.S., the court jurisdiction does extend there. There will have to be some sort of proceeding established to allow detainees the right to challenge the facts of their imprisonment.

It was a case also that involved Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, arrested on U.S. territory in the United States at O'Hare Airport charged with being part of a dirty bomb campaign. The court decided not to rule in that case because the case had been filed in the wrong courts, according to the justices. The lawyer for Jose Padilla says she will refile.

However it was another setback for the administration in the case of Yaser Hamdi, also a U.S. citizen. He was captured by U.S. allies on the battlefields in Afghanistan. The courts ruled that even though the administration is correct that the president does have the right to detain possibly indefinitely, possibly without charge enemy combatants, still, there has to be some sort of access to lawyers and the right to challenge those charges.

Very blunt language on the part of the swing justice in this case, Sandra Day O'Connor saying, "as critical as the government's interest may be in detaining those who actually pose an immediate threat to the national security of the United States during ongoing international conflict, history and common sense teach us that an unchecked system of detention carries the potential to become a means for oppression and the abuse of others who do not present that sort of threat." In other words, the administration does have very very big power, the president does, in times of war, but not absolute power -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Once again, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor serving as a swing vote. Bob Franken, thank you very much.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back. We'll be talking to Iraq's designated ambassador to the United States.


WOODRUFF: President Bush says today's handover of sovereignty begins a new phase in Iraq's progress towards full democracy. Joining me now is the Iraqi interim government designated representative to the United States, she is Rend Al-Rahim. Ambassador Designate Rahim, I should say. First of all, let me just clarify something. You were chosen by the Iraqi governing council. Now that the interim government is in, are you still their choice to be the ambassador?

REND AL-RAHIM, IRAQ REPRESENTATIVE TO U.S.: As far as I know, they haven't told me anything different.

WOODRUFF: But it's all -- were you surprised this morning when they moved up...

AL-RAHIM: I was indeed. This has been the best kept secret ever and I understand that many ministers didn't know about this. We were surprised and also delighted. This is a moment that we've been waiting for, really. And all Iraqis, I think, are very happy.

WOODRUFF: What does this sovereignty handover mean to your government? What changes?

AL-RAHIM: A lot of changes. For the first time in 14, 15 months, we have a government that can dispose of Iraq's political future, can determine the disposition of its resources, can control Iraq's income, can identify projects, and above all can begin the process of building up Iraq's security forces so that gradually, Iraq's ability to control security in the country can increase and eventually, we have control of our security situation. This is a very important step forward.

WOODRUFF: A few minutes ago I spoke with Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate armed services committee, he's been an ally of President Bush. He said what's really going to matter is when those forces, after they are trained out of the country, by NATO forces, to see whether your police, your soldiers will come back and face the insurgents, take them on?

AL-RAHIM: I think they will take them on. The police and the Iraqi army, the national guard are going to have to have Iraqi leadership in order to feel that they have a stake in the new system. They have a stake in the new Iraq. And it's not that they will be confronting insurgents, they will be protecting this new Iraq from people who want to destroy it. This is the mentality we have to instill. It's a psychology that we have to build up of wanting a new Iraq and being willing to protect it.

WOODRUFF: Can your country feel truly that it is running its own affairs when you still have 135,000 American troops on your soil?

AL-RAHIM: Judy, it's my understanding that the U.S. still has troops in Germany, in Korea, in Japan, nobody is saying those are not sovereign nations.

WOODRUFF: Not that many troops, though.

AL-RAHIM: No. But is it the quantity that we're arguing or the fact that we're arguing? If it were 50, would that be OK? Would you consider us more sovereign if we had only 50,000 troops? WOODRUFF: You were an associate, you worked closely at one point or for several years, I guess with Ahmad Chalabi formerly close to the Bush administration, now they're investigating him among other things for possible leaked intelligence to the Iranians? Can you give us any update on Mr. Chalabi, where that investigation stands?

AL-RAHIM: I want to correct something here. Before this job I led the Iraq Foundation, which was a nonpartisan organization both as to American politics and as to Iraqi politics. I worked with all the political parties. For example, I knew Dr. Iyad Allawi, our current prime minister very well and I worked with him. Even though I'm a woman and don't wear the hijab, I also worked with the Islamist parties such as Siri (ph). So I had a close association with a broad range of parties in the opposition. As to the question about Dr. Chalabi, he is in Iraq. I think he is working on an election campaign, as many of the politicians are. He is still very much a voice to be heard in Iraq. I think he will have a political future.

WOODRUFF: Saddam Hussein, he'll stand trial?

AL-RAHIM: Absolutely. Absolutely. He must stand trial. He must. Iraqis need it for the healing process. It is going to be a big move towards reconciling ourselves with the past and moving to the future the moment that we can have Saddam on trial. On trial by Iraqis.

WOODRUFF: We hear you. Rend Al-Rahim, she is the ambassador designate of the new Iraqi government to the United States. Thank you very much for coming by.

AL-RAHIM: My great pleasure.

WOODRUFF: An early preview of the prime time speakers of the upcoming party convention straight ahead.


WOODRUFF: Checking the Monday edition of "Campaign News Daily," John Kerry is trying to put Colorado in play this fall but a poll finds President Bush is holding on to a lead. A new Mason Dixon survey gives President Bush a five-point advantage over Senator Kerry. Bush won Colorado by nine percentage points in 2000. Kerry has included Colorado in his TV ads in hopes of gaining ground on the president.

Two new economic reports give the Bush campaign a chance to spotlight evidence of a recovering economy.

The latest Lundberg survey finds gas prices nationwide have dropped seven cents per gallon in the last two weeks.

Meanwhile the government says consumer spending climbed 1 percent in May, that is higher than expected and it is the largest increase in 2 1/2 years.

Independent candidate Ralph Nader is turning his attention to the Pacific Northwest after a weekend rebuff by the Green Party. Nader's supporters turned in signature petitions in Oregon and Washington state over the weekend. He will have to gather a lot more names in other states soon because on Saturday, the Green Party endorsed long- time party activist, David Cobb instead of Nader. The move means that Nader will not benefit from the Green Party ballot line in 22 states.

Prime-time convention speaking slots say a lot about political parties, about their priorities and what you might call their rising stars. With just weeks to go until the Democrats gather in Boston, we have a first look at the speaker's list for both party conventions.


BUSH: Give me the opportunity to lead this nation and I will lead!

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Dignity, leadership, togetherness, themes of the 2000 Republican National Convention and if all goes according to plan, themes of the coming GOP gathering in New York. Republicans want none of this.

PAT BUCHANAN (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The agenda that Clinton and Clinton would impose on America. Abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights.

WOODRUFF: And have assembled a slate of primetime speakers to highlight the GOP's big tent. Monday, John McCain, the Democrats' favorite Republican, rules primetime sharing the spotlight with America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a moderate in his party.

GOV. ARNOLD SCWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Now, it is time give something back.

WOODRUFF: Tuesday, another moderate GOP strongman takes the stage, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's been drawing raves from both parties. He'll share the night with Laura Bush, and Education Secretary Rod Paige, the only announced African-American speaker at this point.

Wednesday is a real red-meat Republican night with the vice president and his wife scheduled to address the convention, but Dick Cheney will be preceded by Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat. The week's highlight, of course, comes Thursday, when President Bush is introduced by New York Governor George Pataki and formally accepts his party's nomination for reelection. One Republican shut out of primetime, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a recent GOP convert. But the exclusion's a blessing for Bloomberg, who's running for reelection next year in an overwhelmingly Democratic town.

AL GORE (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stand here tonight as my own man.

WOODRUFF: Yes, Al Gore will speak in Boston, sharing Monday's primetime with none other than Bill Clinton. CNN has learned Senator Ted Kennedy and Teresa Heinz Kerry will be the stars of Tuesday night, with Wednesday reserved for the vice-presidential nominee and Thursday belonging to John Kerry.


WOODRUFF: And we're still working on finding out those other names who'll be speaking in prime time.

We don't usually do movie reviews on INSIDE POLITICS but a certain documentary is doing more than breaking box office records. Stay with us and see who is watching Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."


WOODRUFF: Critics say a Republican candidate for North Carolina governor has gone too far by running an ad that tries to link the 9/11 incumbent to the 9/11 terror attacks. State Senator Fern Schubert is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Governor Mike Easely. Her new campaign ad shows the hijacked airplanes slamming into the World Trade Center. The voice-over says Governor Easely signed a law within days of 9/11 making it easier for terrorists to get driver's licenses. Easely's campaign manager calls the spot shameful.

Well, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a genuine box office smash it turns out. It was the weekend's top moneymaker taking in almost $22 million. It will be playing in even more theaters as the week goes on. We asked Jason Carroll to check in on who is in the audience so far.


ANNOUNCER: With everything going wrong, he did what any of us would do, he went on vacation.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" has already broken box office records of $29 million plus opening weekend. Unprecedented for a documentary. His fans labeling him a hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Moore for president.

CARROLL: Moore has made no secret about his hopes for "Fahrenheit." He wants it to influence the presidential election. Even people in closely contested states like Michigan and Florida.


CARROLL: In Sarasota, Florida, Democrats campaigned outside one sold-out theater. In Cleveland, Ohio, more sold-out shows.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a call to vote.

CARROLL: So how's "Fahrenheit" really playing out in the swing states? The company that counts box office receipts says so far it's performing as a blockbuster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regardless whether it was swing state or where the geographical location was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even for a very successful movie, the number of people who actually go and see that movie is tiny is comparison to the electorate as a whole.

CARROLL: But "Fahrenheit" is selling out not necessarily for the reason some might think. It had so much opening buzz yet it's playing in 900 theaters nationwide, half the number most commercial films usually start with. Some entertainment insiders say it was bound to sell out but its shelf life will be its true test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Fahrenheit" has now got to hang in there through the political conventions of July and August if it wants to have a sustained impact.

CARROLL: Easier said than done. Lately blockbusters have fallen off dramatically after strong openings. Harry Potter fell off 60 percent in its second week. Moore's political opponents don't find comfort in a little magic, a super hero might come to their rescue as "Spiderman 2" opens this week.


CARROLL: What's clear is that a lot of people who do not support the president are going out to see this movie but what is unclear at this point is how many undecided voters are heading to theaters -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And that's something we want to try to keep on doing some reporting on. Jason, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

That's it for Monday's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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