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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Defense Secretary Nominee Faces Confirmation Hearings; Iraq Study Group Set to Release Report Tomorrow

Aired December 5, 2006 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
He was asked a simple question: Are we winning the war in Iraq? Today, the president's choice for defense secretary gave a simple answer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Mr. Gates, do you believe that we are currently winning in Iraq?

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: No, sir.

ANNOUNCER: Two words, one step closer to getting a new job. The president wanted a new look. Is he ready for new advice?

More troops or fewer? What tomorrow's report on Iraq might say, and what it could mean for American forces caught in a sectarian killing ground.

Stranded in the snow -- mother and children safe. But this survival story has one chapter left, the father.

Russian spy -- Italian wild card.

MARIO SCARAMELLA, EXPOSED TO POLONIUM 210: I followed him up to a restaurant, and he took lunch.

ANNOUNCER: Was he also targeted for death, or is he an accomplice to murder? And who's the man they're calling the 007 wannabe? He's only talking to us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Across from country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and watching around the world right now on CNN International.

Tonight, the man chosen to replace Donald Rumsfeld is one step away from getting the job. You might say he aced the interview -- Robert Gates winning approval today from the Senate Armed Services Committee by telling members, we are not winning in Iraq. Nor are we losing, he later added.

A confirmation vote could come together, along with a report from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

We begin at the Pentagon with CNN's Jamie McIntyre.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert Gates was showered with plaudits for his candor from the senators, especially for his candid admission the U.S. is not currently winning the war.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), INCOMING ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: Your acknowledgment that we're not winning in Iraq, frankly, is a necessary, refreshing breath of reality that is so needed.

MCINTYRE: But, after a lunch break, Gates said he wanted to revise his remarks to make clear he didn't think American troops were failing.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I certainly stand by my statement this morning that I agreed with General Pace that we are not winning. But we are not losing. And -- but I want to make clear that that pertains to the situation in Iraq as a whole.

MCINTYRE: For the most part, Gates navigated the committee's concerns by telling senators what they wanted to hear, while avoiding commitment to any specific option for Iraq.

GATES: I'm willing to consider all alternatives.

MCINTYRE: The only thing Gates flatly ruled out was a fixed timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. And he gave a qualified endorsement to ideas outlined by the man he's replacing.

GATES: It seemed to me that -- that some of the options that Secretary Rumsfeld put forward are exactly among those that need to be considered in considering the path forward.

MCINTYRE: But, with the benefit of hindsight, Gates criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's initial war plan as flawed.

GATES: There clearly were insufficient troops in Iraq after the initial invasion to establish control over the country.

MCINTYRE: Gates warned, failure in Iraq could draw Syria, Iran, Turkey, and even Saudi Arabia, into what he called a regional conflagration.

GATES: My greatest worry, if we mishandle the next year or two, and if we leave Iraq in chaos, is that a variety of regional powers will become involved in Iraq, and we will have a regional conflict on our hands.

MCINTYRE: But Gates' biggest promise was to listen, and to be an independent voice.

GATES: Senator, I am not giving up the president -- presidency of Texas A&M, the job that I have probably enjoyed more than any other I have ever had, making considerable personal financial sacrifice, and, frankly, going through this process, to come back to Washington to be a bump on a log.

MCINTYRE: By day's end, Gates had won a ringing bipartisan endorsement, as the committee unanimously sent his nomination to the full Senate.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think America got a good look at this extraordinary nominee. And America can, I think, take the confidence that he's going to be a very strong adviser to the president of the United States.

LEVIN: They also, I think, saw in the nominee a person who is very, very willing to reach out across party lines to the Congress on a bipartisan basis, to get the -- the best advice that possibly the Congress can give.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Jamie joins live now at the Pentagon.

Jamie, full confirmation by the Senate could come tomorrow. Did Gates say what he is going to do first?

MCINTYRE: Well, he didn't say what he would do first in Iraq, but he did say the first thing he would do is hop on a plane, fly to Iraq, and meet directly with U.S. commanders, look them eye to eye, and talk about all these options that people are talking about.

He said he didn't think there were -- there were any new ideas, but he was going to have to pick from the ideas that were out there, and try to figure out the way ahead. And he pretty much kept his cards close to the vest about what he thinks he might want to do next.

COOPER: Jamie McIntyre, thanks for the reporting.

Now a reality check, a look at what Mr. Gates will be up against, and what his boss already faces on the eve of that ISG report.

For that, we turn to CNN's Nic Robertson in Baghdad, where sectarian militias have been met -- making headlines, and where more and more people are now facing incredible pressure to join -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anderson.

What we're seeing here is -- is quite staggering. I could talk to you about the 105 people alone in Baghdad who were killed yesterday, mortar bombs, attacks with suicide bombers, the bodies that have been found around Baghdad by the police.

But let's just look at the little picture here that we're hearing about, and listen to our staff here in Baghdad. One of our staff told us that mortar bombs landed on his child's school. The school had to be evacuated. One of the teachers was wounded.

And, more interestingly, in the suburbs of Baghdad, one of our staff reports that militiamen are going door to door in that area, forcing the owners of the houses to take a weapon, and telling them they have to come out on the streets and defend their neighborhoods. This is an escalation of the fighting throughout the city.

Also, if you take another straw poll of our staff here, one in five of them, in the last month alone, know people, friends or family members, who have been killed in the violence. The violence is growing. That's the big picture here. And, there, we have just taken a tiny look at it right there by looking at the staff in our office.

COOPER: Is...

ROBERTSON: Anderson.

COOPER: Is that -- is that a Shia neighborhood where they're going door to door and telling people, get out into the streets, take this gun, and -- and protect your people?

ROBERTSON: This particular neighborhood that we know about directly through our staff is actually a Sunni neighborhood. We are seeing barricades being put up on streets in Baghdad, dividing the communities. If there are some Sunni living on a street in a Sunni neighborhood, a barricade is going up on the end of that street, a message to those Shias in that Sunni neighborhood, where there hasn't been violence until now, a message to them that the community doesn't want them, and they expect they will have to move out, too.

COOPER: You went by it quickly.

I think you said -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- you said, more than 100 people dead yesterday. What is the government doing to try to stop that?

ROBERTSON: You know, there are -- there are the police who are trying to just keep track and pick up all these bodies, 60 different bodies found through -- found throughout the city yesterday, shot, bound, tortured, many of them.

And the police say what is different is that, yesterday, the bodies were scattered throughout the city in many, many different neighborhoods, unlike in -- in the recent weeks and months, where they have found groups of bodies in one place or another.

What the police are doing is -- is -- is really just rounding up the bodies. There's very little it's able to do to -- to find out exactly who is doing the killing. There -- there are -- there is a special investigative team that the U.S. military has.

But the very fact that there are 50, 60, 70 bodies turning up a day is an indication that nobody is able to put a stop to it right now -- Anderson. COOPER: Out of control.

Nic Robertson, thanks from Baghdad. Stay safe, Nic.

Back in Washington, President Bush met over lunch today with James Baker, co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group that we have been focusing on. Of course, the report comes out tomorrow. The president got a preview of it today.

Our own look now from CNN's chief national correspondent, John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If tough advice is easier to accept when it comes from a friend, then, this is the perfect role for Jim Baker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICAN MORNING")

JAMES BAKER, CO-CHAIRMAN, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: Once a particular approach loses the support of the American people, it is very, very hard and difficult to sustain it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: But the new course in Iraq being suggested by Baker and his Iraq Study Group colleagues is far from a quick fix. And some recommendation could already be dated, because sectarian violence has intensified so much of late.

NOAH FELDMAN, FORMER COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY ADVISER: The only way out of Iraq now is for the different factions to realize they have more to gain by living together in peace than they do by ripping each other apart in a war. And, right now, there's no obvious way to get them to that realization.

KING: Among the recommendations: a gradual reduction in U.S. troop levels in Iraq, a shift from combat forces to military advisers and trainers, clear benchmarks for Iraqis to make both political and security progress, and high-level talks with Iran and Syria, designed to reduce outside support for the Iraqi insurgency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no silver bullet. There is no panacea, no quick solution. All the choices we face are bad and worse. And we have to recognize that fact.

KING: Leading roles in five presidential campaigns taught Baker the value of timing in politics. And, in some ways, the timing here is perfect. Change is already in the air. A new defense secretary is about to take over. And Robert Gates was part of the Iraq Study Group, before being tapped by the president to replace Donald Rumsfeld.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I believe that he wants me to take a fresh look and that all options are on the table. KING: Baker is a Bush family confidant dating back more than three decades. And his government service includes undersecretary of commerce in the Ford administration, treasury secretary in the Reagan administration, and secretary of state and White House chief of staff in the first Bush administration.

FELDMAN: Secretary Baker is a very experienced diplomat and one of the most successful secretaries of state we have had. But even he is not Superman.

KING: This President Bush, though, has not always heeded Baker's advice. Baker, for example, viewed Donald Rumsfeld as the wrong choice for defense secretary.

And, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he warned: "It cannot be done on the cheap. It will require substantial forces and substantial time. We will face the problem of how long to occupy and administer a big, fractious country, and what type of government or administration should follow."

Four years later, that warning is very much Iraq's reality. And Washington is waiting to see if Mr. Bush heeds his friend's advice this time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Breakfast with the president in the morning for Mr. Baker and other members of the Iraq Study Group -- then, they go to Capitol Hill to distribute their report and to brief key lawmakers.

And, Anderson, one of the key things to watch in the days ahead is, the members of the commission have said virtually nothing about their work during their eight, almost nine months of study. But, once they deliver the report to the president, Secretary Baker, former Congressman Hamilton and other members will be doing interviews, adding their voice to the debate about what has gone wrong over the past three-and-a-half years and what they think should be changed now.

COOPER: John, we are going to talk to you again in a moment. I'm actually going to be speaking with both James Baker and Lee Hamilton tomorrow on 360. I will be in Washington for the release of the study group's report. So, you will want to tune in for that.

A few more things about the Iraq Study Group, before we go back to talk to John. Here's the "Raw Data."

The ISG launched March 15, 2006. Now, Congress gave it a $1 million budget. They group has more than 171 people, reviewed more than 30 policy papers on Iraq. Forty-four experts have served as advisers. We are going to talk to some of them, actually, tonight, in a few moments. President Bush met twice with the entire panel, and had additional meetings with the co-chairs of the panel's 10 members. Only one, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, is female.

Well, as the panel prepares to release the report, the debate over what is the best fix for Iraq heats up -- coming up, pulling American troops out or sending more troops in, two very different strategies. We will lay out both options and let our panel of advisers weigh in.

Plus: an amazing survival story we have been following -- a family stranded for more than a week in their snowbound car -- how an enterprising mother kept her two young children alive, and the latest on the search, which is still going on right now, for her still missing husband.

Plus: He was poisoned by polonium and survived. Now the Italian security expert who met with Alexander Litvinenko the day the former spy fell ill is speaking out from his hospital bed, only here on 360. You will want to hear that.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GATES: In my view, all options are on the table, in terms of how we address this problem in Iraq, in terms of how we can be more successful, and how we can, at some point, begin to draw down our forces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that was defense secretary nominee Robert Gates at his confirmation hearing today. The full Senate is expected to approve the nomination as early as tomorrow, the same day that the Iraq Study Group is going to deliver its recommendations for turning the mess in Iraq around.

As you have heard, the report is expected to call for a gradual phaseout of U.S. troops. Not long ago, the Bush White House was calling any suggestion of a timetable for a phaseout cut and run. But the November elections have emboldened Democrats. And, if confirmed, as expected, Mr. Gates is certain to face not only calls for fewer troops, but also for timelines.

With a look at that strategy, here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carl Levin will soon be the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has some thoughts for George W. Bush.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: I would like the president to tell the Iraqi leaders that we are going to begin a phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq in four to six months.

TUCHMAN: The Michigan Democrat says, as early as April, it's time to start bringing American troops home.

LEVIN: I have urged the president to quit counseling patience, to quit saying to the Iraqi people and the American people that we are patient. We are bloody impatient. And the problem is Iraqis' political leadership.

TUCHMAN: Illinois Senator Barack Obama is also advocating a four- to six-month timetable.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: For, only through this phased redeployment can we send a clear message to the Iraqi factions that the United States is not going to hold together this country indefinitely.

TUCHMAN: So, how would this plan work? How many troops would leave? What parts of the country, if any, would they abandon? Many Democrats say they can't and shouldn't answer those questions now.

LEVIN: I think it's a mistake to focus on the -- the -- the specific numbers. The debate should be, should we tell the Iraqis that we cannot save them from themselves? I believe we must.

TUCHMAN: Obama has proposed redeploying some of the troops to Afghanistan.

OBAMA: Where our lack of focus and commitment of resources has led to an increasing deterioration of the security situation there.

TUCHMAN: But, if tens of thousands of American troops start marching out of Iraq, wouldn't that increase the turmoil there?

LEVIN: It's not as though chaos will result if we leave; it's that chaos is there right now.

TUCHMAN: Levin says an international conference, inviting all the regional players, could help lead to a political solution. And, as for criticism that he has heard, and undoubtedly will continue to hear, that this is a cut-and-run strategy, Levin says:

LEVIN: This is not a precipitous proposal. It's something which would allow for planning. And, so, it is not an accurate description.

TUCHMAN: Levin does say troops will have to remain in Iraq to train Iraqi security forces and protect Americans against attacks. But he says troop reduction should be significant.

LEVIN: The president cannot, any longer, get away with the status quo and stay the course, stay the course, stay the course.

TUCHMAN: So, Levin now leads the fight for a new course out of Iraq.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: While its details are still unknown, the Iraq Study Group's plan for getting out of Iraq, it's expected to fall somewhere in between what the Republicans used to call cut and run about the Democrats' proposals and stay the course.

With that in mind, we turn to our roundtable. Steven Cook is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an adviser to the ISG. James Carafano is a retired lieutenant colonel now with the Heritage Foundation, who also advised the ISG. And CNN's John King is with us as well.

John, let me start off with you.

You know, there are a lot of Americans who believe they sent a message in these last elections, a message to Washington that staying the course was not acceptable. And we're getting -- you know, a lot of e-mails are coming into us, saying that all the stuff being -- that is being debated seems like working around the edges. It's not changing fundamentally what is happening on the -- in Iraq.

Does Washington hear those people still that voted this past election?

KING: Well, the Democrats certainly hear them, Anderson. And the president is certainly well aware of them.

What -- what the president's answer to those people would be, to do something very quickly would make things worse, and you would pay a bigger price in the long term. You heard Senator Levin there in Gary Tuchman's piece saying bring the troops out within four to six months.

The president has said no to that. Secretary Gates will say no to that, to a specific timetable. But, if you listen closely, put all the political rhetoric aside, what they're really saying is no, but.

From the president's meeting with Mr. Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, last week, Mr. Maliki said he hopes, by June, to be able to do a much better job taking over the security apparatus. If that happens -- and that is a huge if, if, if -- that's six months from now, or seven months from now. At that point, the administration thinks, then, you might be able to bring home some troops, at least combat troops.

So, they're not actually all that far apart. The partisan rhetoric, though, is still shading some of the differences, if you will.

COOPER: Colonel Carafano, there are those who say, look, pulling out troops, whether it's -- it's announcing a timetable, but -- but -- but, basically, starting to pull out troops, or at least announcing that you plan to pull out troops, will weaken that element of the insurgency which is nationalistic, and which -- and there are those who argue that's the majority of the insurgents, who -- who just are opposed to -- to U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq.

Do you buy that?

JAMES CARAFANO, SENIOR FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: There is some truth to that. The -- the U.S. presence is a -- a source of irritation, and -- and a rallying cry and a poster child for that. So, that -- but, on the other hand, U.S. forces are a part of what is keeping things from getting worse. I mean, people think things are bad. Things could get much, much worse. There could be a lot more violence.

These ethnic groups are deeply intermingled. You could have hundreds of thousands of dead, and -- and millions of people displaced. So, it could get a heck of a lot worse. But the -- the point is, when -- what the Iraq Study Group is going to recommend, and, really, I think which both Senator Levin and the administration will agree with, is, it's how the U.S. troops leave that's most important.

And what the Iraq Study Group is going to emphasize is that increasing troop numbers need to go to the training and support and advisory mission, really, you know, helping stiffen the backbone of the Iraqi military, which really has to be the -- the main part of this solution.

And, so, while the combat forces may come down, the -- the increased effort needs to go to this other mission. That is what is going to enable the combat forces to come down.

COOPER: But -- but, Steven, the U.S. has been talking about training Iraqi security forces really since day one. Two years ago, they were saying that's the number-one priority.

If they haven't been able to get it together in the last two years, why should we think that anything is going to be any different?

STEVEN COOK, DOUGLAS DILLON FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: It's a good point, Anderson.

Since November 2003, in fact, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talked about 93,000 Iraqi security forces being trained and put into the field. I don't think there's a realistic chance, despite what Nouri al-Maliki says, about the Iraqi security forces being able to take over the country within six months.

I -- I don't understand the logic, at this point, of talking about a major troop withdrawal from Iraq. If we don't have enough troops there right now to take control the situation, why should we think that drawing down in four to six or eight or nine months is going to improve the situation?

COOPER: We are going to talk a lot more to you guys throughout the next two hours. We will talk to you in a moment.

We're going to throw another scenario at our roundtable. What about the extreme opposite of the withdrawal strategy? If the U.S. had more troops in Iraq, would that stabilize the country? And could the U.S. military even meet the demand of more troops? Do we have the troops? That's coming up.

Plus: a family stranded in the snow and cold for more than a week. You have heard their story already. We are going to tell you how the mom kept her two young children alive all this time, and what led rescuers to them, and the latest on the search for their father that is still under way tonight -- all that and more when 360 continues.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We are not winning the war in Iraq; is that correct?

GATES: That is my view, yes, sir.

MCCAIN: And the stat -- therefore, the status quo is not acceptable?

GATES: That is correct, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that was Senator John McCain questioning Robert Gates today in his confirmation hearings.

Well, polls -- polls show that most Americans agree that the status quo in Iraq needs to change. What is in dispute, especially in Washington, it seems, is what exactly those changes should be.

Senator John McCain is a clear -- is very clear about his answer. He wants more U.S. troops, not fewer, in Iraq.

CNN's Tom Foreman now looks at that strategy, and how that option might play out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Relentlessly, unflinchingly, like a broken record, John McCain has beaten the drum on Iraq. In 2003:

MCCAIN: The dirty little secret is that we don't have enough troops. We need to enlarge the size of the Army and the Marine Corps.

FOREMAN: 2004:

MCCAIN: We needed more troops. We needed it very badly.

FOREMAN: 2005:

MCCAIN: We would love to see more troops there.

FOREMAN: This year, too.

MCCAIN: I have always said we needed more troops in Iraq. FOREMAN: But how many?

The Brookings Institution uses this formula, based on historic attempts to stabilize places like Japan, Germany, and Bosnia after war. Assume it will take at least 15 troops to protect neighborhoods, stabilize services, and control crime for each 1,000 Iraqis. There are around 27 million Iraqis, which means you will need about 400,000 American troops.

People argue about the specific numbers.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: But, certainly, that's two to three times where we have been,, which suggests that the current presence, and the previous presence, have very been small, by the standards of history and of successful operations.

FOREMAN: The problem, according to many critics, is that America just doesn't have enough troops to double the current force of around 140,000 in Iraq. At best, they say, 20,000 or 30,000 troops might be available, and might be able to stabilize Baghdad.

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: A third of our brigades in the United States are reporting non-deployable because of personnel and equipment shortages. So, the -- the -- the prospect of a -- a magic bullet with just more troops, I don't think is there.

FOREMAN (on camera): There has been talk of a new draft, but most politicians here are running away from that idea. And, even if a draft were approved immediately, it would take longer than a year for more young Americans to be rounded up, trained, and sent to Iraq.

(voice-over): Despite all of that, many who are studying the war say more troops might still help, if they could simply contain some of the violence, encourage Iraqis to take on more of the burden.

O'HANLON: If the Iraqi security forces were performing better, for example, we might not need to have this debate over American numbers.

FOREMAN: For now, however, the debate and the war keep marching on.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, joining me again, Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations, retired Lieutenant Colonel James Carafano, now of the Heritage Foundation, and CNN's John King.

Steven, what about that? Do we have the troops to -- to send over there for anything more than just kind of a -- a short period of time?

COOK: We -- we don't. Every objective analysis of the situation suggests that we don't have the troops. We have a short-term amount. We could send 20,000 or 30,000 troops, as retired General Anthony Zinni suggests, to stabilize Baghdad. But we don't have the large numbers that Mike O'Hanlon was talking about in your setup piece.

Once more, if we send more troops, we are going to start wearing out the capital stock of the military.

COOPER: Colonel Carafano, what about that? I mean, we have been trying to stabilize Baghdad now for -- for years. We had this policy where we basically shut down Baghdad, stopped all car traffic. That's -- you know, and violence just seemed to increase.

Are -- is more troops the answer?

CARAFANO: It's a moot question, because we don't have them. We never had them. We could have never had 400,000 troops on the ground in Iraq and sustain them for years. The Army's just not that big.

I would say a lot of the problem of how we got here is not so much the numbers but the kinds of troops we have and what they have been doing were not appropriate. We didn't start training the Iraqi military in a serious way until a year or two into it. And we had to really invent a system to do and sustain that.

So I really think the debates of a historically is really wrong headed. It was never numbers per se, I think. It was the quality of what the troops were doing.

But the point is, is that we need to get past the notion that somehow there's an American military solution in this problem. Because there simply isn't. It's grown too big. And only Iraq -- Iraqis can secure the future of Iraq.

And we have to get the notion that somehow we're going to solve this problem for them. Because we simply can't do that. We can't be there forever. And we don't have hundreds and hundreds -- and if we did, in a sense, it would just be solving it by turning it into a colony. And that's not an acceptable solution, either.

So people have to get over this notion that somehow we're going to solve this problem. Only Iraqis are going to solve this problem, and it's going to be a long-term and a dirty job.

COOPER: Steve, to Colonel's point, doesn't that then kind of argue for more of a hands off, perhaps a withdrawal policy on the part of the U.S.? Or I mean, can we even help them politically?

COOK: Well, I think the presumption of what Jim is saying is that the Iraqis aren't trying to stabilize the situation on their own. In many ways we've put them in an impossible solution.

But I think that to draw down is to invite more chaos, more violence and to ultimately a situation that draws in the region. Something that is not in our interest and certainly not in the Iraqis' interest. And so I think we really need to stay there as long as we possibly can. We need -- some amount of urgency to train these Iraqi forces so they can defend their own country.

COOPER: John?

CARAFANO: I think Steve really hits the key point. What we try to do is to have it both ways. We've tried to stand up the Iraqis, and we've tried to tamp down the violence. And we can't do both well.

And the real strategic choice that needs to be made, and I think the Iraq Study Group report does this, and really kind of pushes the Pentagon and the administration in the direction where they really need to go and want to go, is we've to make a hard choice.

And the better of the two options to recognize that we can't tamp the violence down, and even if we could, it would just come right back up as soon as we let off.

The long term payoff is in getting the Iraqis to stand up and take responsibility. So that includes supporting the military and security forces and getting them in the best shape possible and also pushing the Iraqis to address the tough political issues and then to take control of their own future.

COOPER: John King, you know, it was interesting to see Robert Gates saying clearly there weren't enough troops at the get go. We're hearing that more and more from Republicans, people saying clearly, we never have enough forces on the ground.

For the last three or four years, though, that's not what a lot of these folks have been saying. That's really not what's been coming out of the administration. They've all said, "Look, we were listening to commanders on ground. We feel we had the appropriate troop level."

I used to talk -- you know, I used to talk to the Coalition Provisional Authority folks. They said, "No, we think we have it right." Were they always lying? I mean, did they believe it at the time and now it's just in hindsight they don't believe it or were they just spinning a story?

KING: Maybe we should call this post-Rumsfeld Glasnost. You have General Abizaid and now secretary to be Gates, saying there definitely were not enough troops in Iraq. Most people in Washington have known that. Most administration officials have said so privately for sometime.

Anderson, the wisdom of this war will be debated for some time, 25, 50 years and beyond. The questions Jim and Steve just raised about what can the Iraqis do are the immediate challenge.

But there also are two legacies of this war, I think, that are clear right now. One is that Congress will push to increase the size of the Army and probably the Marine Corps, as well, in the next year. They will push that whether the administration wants it or not.

And the price of this war, we focus now on the immediate cost and the deaths of American troops, but it will cost billions, billions and tens of billions to replace all the equipment, the Humvees, the helicopters and so much more that have been decimated by this war.

COOPER: The scope of this thing is still being figured out. Gentlemen, we'll talk to you again throughout these next two hours.

Another option for Iraq, reach out to Syria and Iran for help. We've been hearing a lot about that the last couple weeks. The question is would President Bush even take that route? And what does it mean, reaching out to these guys? We're going to be back with our round table of that discussion at the top of the hour.

And up next, his family has been found, but what happened to him in the mountains of Oregon? The desperate search for a still missing father when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, one day after his family was found, a desperate search is on for a man lost in the mountains of Oregon. Last Saturday, James Kim left the car his family was stranded in to get help. Rescuers hope it's not too late to find the man who risked his life for his family, who took extreme measures to stay alive.

Here's CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the back of the chopper that rescued them, Katie Kim clutched her baby.

LT. GREGG HASTINGS, OREGON STATE POLICE: The helicopter saw her with the umbrella waving frantically, saw the vehicle. They were the same color. Put one and one together and realized that he had -- the right equation.

GUTIERREZ: It was a mother's desperate attempt to save her small children, stranded for nine days in their car on a desolate road in the freezing snow.

HASTINGS: I think everyone's been amazed at the fact that they were found alive.

GUTIERREZ: The family's ordeal began the Saturday after Thanksgiving. James and Katie Kim of San Francisco and their two daughters, 4-year-old Penelope and 7-month of old Sabine, were on the way to the Oregon coast on a back country road when their Saab station wagon became stuck in the snow.

To survive, James and Katie ate berries and drank melted snow. What little they had, rice crackers and baby food, they fed to the children. Katie told hospital staff she breast fed both of her kids to keep them alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the girls were at the forefront of their minds, just making sure that their girls, you know, got out OK. GUTIERREZ: The Kims also burned car tires to signal for help and fend off frostbite. Authorities say they did a lot of things right.

HASTINGS: Working as a group together to stay warm at night, conserving their fuel. Having their engine run every now and then just so they can get the car warm.

GUTIERREZ: After a week out in the wilderness with no help in sight, James Kim set out to look for help. He took two lighters, an extra pair of pants. He was wearing a sweater and a heavy coat. That was Saturday.

BRIAN ANDERSON, UNDERSHERIFF, JOSEPHINE COUNTY: This is frustrating. I mean, we are so close. You've got people who are pouring their heart and soul in here. A lot of us, 18, 20 hours. It's frustrating. Long days. So, we're not going to quit until we find him.

GUTIERREZ: Searchers followed the footprints in the snow right up to a ledge that dropped to a drainage ditch.

ANDERSON: Today we had rafters go down and look that area at the bottom.

GUTIERREZ: One hundred search and rescue workers combed the rugged terrain using three helicopters, plus snowmobiles and horses. They used heat sensors at night in hopes of finding him.

The only thing search and rescue workers have found so far, a pair of pants laying on the ground that searchers believe belonged to James Kim.

JAMES KIM, MISSING: This is James Kim.

GUTIERREZ: Friends of James Kim, an editor at a technology web site, say Kim is resourceful, has camping experience and may have left the pants behind as a marker for rescuers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Thelma joins us now live in Merlin, Oregon. Do they -- do they think those pants are a good sign or a bad sign? I mean, if he left them as a marker, I guess that's good, right?

GUTIERREZ: Well, that's exactly right, Anderson. At least for now, authorities told us a short time ago they are interpreting this as a good sign. They say at the very least, they know that they're searching in the right area, and we're why and talking about very rugged terrain, a five-mile area. A gorge so to speak that they're looking at right now.

And they say that they're able to narrow the search down, and perhaps he did leave the pants behind as a marker to let people know that he's OK.

COOPER: But he was wearing, what, tennis sneakers, jeans and a jacket?

GUTIERREZ: Yes. That's right. He left his car. He was carrying a very heavy jacket. He was wearing a sweater. He has some tennis shoes and also some jeans and that extra pair of gray pants that they ended up finding today.

They were able to follow his footprints through the snow and then suddenly he left the snow area, and the rescue team said they were able to see scuff marks that he left behind with the sneakers in the dirt, also perhaps to let them know that he is there. He is in the area. Maybe another sign, Anderson.

COOPER: But do they have a sense of how old those marks are?

GUTIERREZ: No, they don't. They say that it's very hard to tell right now. They're just following any lead that they can possibly look at. As a matter of fact, there's another article that they say is down deep in the gorge that they're trying to get to. They're not quite sure what it is, but they think it may belong to him, as well.

COOPER: All right. Thelma Gutierrez with the latest. Thanks, Thelma.

Coming up, the story that the country and the world has been watching. The man who was with the former spy the day he fell ill. Tonight, this mystery man is speaking to us from his hospital bed. The exclusive interview about the plot, the poison and a so-called hit list, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It is the mystery the world is following, and so are we, the killing of a former spy. And tonight, the plot thickens. Here's the latest.

Reuters is reporting minute traces of the radioactive substance that took Alexander Litvinenko's life were found in a British soccer stadium. In Moscow, detectives from Scotland Yard continue their search for clues. The Kremlin said no Russian citizens will be extradited as part of the investigation.

Meanwhile in London, a man very much at the center of this puzzle is talking. He either has something very important to tell or wishes he did. In a moment, the exclusive interview.

First, some background on a man of intrigue.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this world class whodunit drama, one of the more intriguing players is Mario Scaramella, the Italian security expert who had lunch with Alexander Litvinenko right before the Russian ex-spy was stricken with radiation poisoning.

MARIO SCARAMELLA, ITALIAN SECURITY EXPERT: We meet in Piccadilly Circus and I followed him up to a restaurant, and he took lunch. It was early afternoon, so after lunch for me, and we discussed about some papers.

FOREMAN: Scaramella says those papers contained information that he and Litvinenko were on a hit list. It is not clear why or who the assassins would be. But if Litvinenko was poisoned on purpose during that lunch, and if his killers were after Scaramella, too, they were not entirely effective.

Health officials say Scaramella was exposed, somehow, sometime to a small amount of the same poison that killed Litvinenko. But...

DR. KEITH PATTERSON, HEMATOLOGIST: He is currently well and shows no symptoms of radiation poisoning.

FOREMAN: Back in Italy, Scaramella has raised alarming accusations in recent years that the current Italian prime minister was once linked to Russian spies, a charge the prime minister heatedly denied. That a Soviet nuclear sub dumped torpedoes off the Italian coast and that smugglers were bringing uranium into Italy.

(on camera) None of these claims has been proven to be true, and some in the intelligence community call them nonsense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scaramella is one of the people who works in the gray area of intelligence. We may consider them a sort of wannabe 007. People that want to play a role but in reality, but in the theater of reality or not reality of the intelligence field they just play as supporting actors.

FOREMAN: So is Scaramella a genuine player in the world of spies? A bystander caught up in international intrigue? Or something else? Only this is certain. Right now, he is one more question mark in a story that is full of them.

Tom foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So that's the intrigue. Now comes the interview. One on one, a 360 exclusive, Mario Scaramella talks about what he knows, next.

And later, straight talk on the war in Iraq spoken by the defense secretary nominee with presidential hopefuls weighing in. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Before the break, we showed you a little known man named Alexander Litvinenko (sic), a man who met with Alexander Litvinenko the day he fell ill. His name is Mario Scaramella. He was also poisoned but survived.

Tonight he's talking to 360. It is an exclusive interview. And we'll let you decide if this shadowy figure is telling the truth or just spinning a tale. CNN's Matthew Chance has the interview you won't see anywhere else.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let me ask you first of all about your health. You have been diagnosed as having been contaminated with that radioactive isotope, polonium 210. What are doctors telling you about your condition?

SCARAMELLA: Well, I have this diagnosis but I am well. I'm perfectly well and doctors confirm that I have no symptoms, no affects of poisoning. So, again, I am perfectly well. Thank you.

CHANCE: How concerned are you about the long term health consequences?

SCARAMELLA: Just that we can -- I spend these days to think about my imminent death. Now, if we can start to speak in terms of long term effects for me is a -- again, it's -- it's a party.

CHANCE: Take us back to November the 1st on the day when it's believed that Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned. You met your friend, Mr. Litvinenko, for lunch. What happened?

SCARAMELLA: Well, first of all, I have to say that still I don't believe it's happened there. Simply because we were no other people -- any strange situation. Alexander was very -- always in alert, so nothing strange happened. And, considering that I survived and I feel well, I don't think I was a target, as well. It's important to underline.

CHANCE: But there have been reports that you didn't actually eat anything at that lunch. Is that true?

SCARAMELLA: No. It's real. I just ate a glass of water, nothing more than that for several reasons. First, because it was afternoon, not lunchtime. Also because, I don't like such fresh fish sushi. I don't -- generally I don't eat. And, for several reasons. It was a meeting to speak and to work, so not to -- to eat.

CHANCE: Now, we understand that you asked to have this meeting with Alexander Litvinenko so that you could show him some e-mails which had some explosive facts in them. What were those e-mails containing?

SCARAMELLA: Well, I received several e-mails from another source introduced to me some years before saying that him and in certain sense also me -- I was mentioned, as well. But for different reasons. Were under the special attention of -- of -- of hostile people and so to take care.

CHANCE: What kind of hostile forces do you believe were placing, were targeting you and your colleagues?

SCARAMELLA: People -- people linked with some crime scene organizations, not directly under control of Russian establishment but from Russia.

CHANCE: That's rogue security agents in Russia?

SCARAMELLA: Well, you know, generally retired people from the services these kind of people, yes.

CHANCE: Now, you've been interviewed by the police as a witness. Do they consider you to be a suspect?

SCARAMELLA: No. It never happened. That's why I -- I ask them to be -- I asked them to cooperate with the investigation and also to come in London to make tests at the hospital.

CHANCE: Did you poison Alexander Litvinenko?

SCARAMELLA: No, not me, of course. Not me. It was a friend.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up, our "Shot of the Day", a surprising sight under water. First, Randi Kaye joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson. Good to see you.

We begin tonight with a nuclear crisis with Iran and another setback for the countries trying to stop Tehran's nuclear activities. Today, diplomats from six countries, including the United States, failed to come up with a draft U.N. resolution on sanctions against Iran.

The major European countries involved in the discussions are hoping for an agreement by the end of the month, though Russia and China have been reluctant to agree to any sanctions.

In Alabama, police say a woman and boyfriend killed her 5-year- old son and then staged an abduction to cover up the murder. Geontae Glass's body was found today in his mother's car in Rainbow City. Police believe he was already dead when his mother reported her car was stolen while the child was asleep in the back seat. That prompted an Amber Alert and a search for the boy. Charges are still pending.

On Wall Street, slim gains. The Dow gained 48 points. The NASDAQ added 4. The broader S&P closed at a 6-year high for the second session in a row, up almost 6 points.

COOPER: All right. Time for "The Shot" today. I don't know if you've seen "The Shot" today. It's from our friends over in You Tube. It comes to us from Bermuda.

KAYE: Oh boy.

COOPER: That's an octopus. We here at 360 are willing to bet you never know an octopus can squeeze through tiny crevices and holes. According to the posting on You Tube, a group of students in St. George, Bermuda, were testing it out, so they placed an octopus in a tank to see what would happen. Getting through a one-inch hole was apparently a piece of cake for the octopus. There you see the one- inch hole.

The students also wanted to know how long to would take the octopus to push through openings of various sizes. They had inquiring minds. So we're not sure what they're going to do with that information but thought the video is pretty cool.

KAYE: How did they get him in there?

COOPER: I don't know. It's best not to ask, I think.

KAYE: You're right.

COOPER: Tomorrow night, we kick off "360 Takes You Live" sweepstakes. The grand prize is a trip to New York and a behind-the- scenes look at 360. Here's what you need to do: check out our new 360 web site at CNN.com/AC and watch -- look at that. I move on it.

KAYE: Cute.

COOPER: Watch 360 tomorrow night and look for a location clue to pop up on in the screen sometime during the newscast. That clue is the code you'll need to enter the sweepstakes. So watch tomorrow night for the clue. Again, the address, CNN.com/AC.

Straight ahead tonight, why hearings today for Robert Gates were also about presidential politics 2008.

Also, the possibility of turning to Syria, even Iran to help deal with Iraq.

And a fresh update on the search in Oregon for the missing dad.

Across the country and around the world, you're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, it goes without saying Iraq is a mess today. The man who's about to become the next secretary of defense did something nearly unimaginable within the president's inner circle: he said so publicly.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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