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THIS WEEK AT WAR
Week's War-Related Activities Reviewed
Aired April 28, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR, THIS WEEK AT WAR: In Afghanistan, they tried to assassinate the U.S. vice president. In Iraq they're adding chemical terror to deadly car bombs. We're talking about al Qaeda and if reports are correct, we're talking about al Qaeda under the direct command of Osama bin Laden. THIS WEEK AT WAR coming up right after this check on what's in the news now.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rick Sanchez and here is what's happening right now in the news. The U.S. military reports nine American troops killed in Iraq in the past 48 hours. Five were lost in a battle Friday in Anbar province. Four more died today in separate bombings near Baghdad. To the south now to the Shiite holy city of Karbala. A suicide car bomber blew himself up near two shrines before evening prayers. At least 58 people were killed, another 100 wounded. A suicide bomber also struck in Pakistan's northwest frontier province today killing 28 people. At least 37 more were wounded, among them the nation's interior minister Aktad amad kahn Shapal (ph). Authorities say they think Shapel was the bomber's main target. Witnesses say the bomber detonated himself (INAUDIBLE)
Security has been tightened in Sri Lankan capital of Colombo after two planes bombed fuel installations. It caused a blackout there. Authorities do believe the (INAUDIBLE) tigers and the rebels are responsible for this. The attack temporarily closed the international airport and infuriated cricket fans trying to watch the national team in the world cup finals. The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for the (INAUDIBLE) tigers. I'm Rick Sanchez. Let's get you back now to THIS WEEK AT WAR with Tom Foreman.
FOREMAN: The war in Iraq is an enormous commitment that may well get harder, not easier, in the months and even years to come and in the end, success will not depend so much on American troops but on the political will of a weak and divided Iraqi government. It's not a pretty picture, but General David Petraeus doesn't seem to believe in pretty pictures and that's a refreshing quality in Washington these days. I'm Tom Foreman with THIS WEEK AT WAR.
Here's what our correspondents reported day by day. Monday, Iraqis demonstrated against walls the military is putting up to protect them from sectarian violence. Tuesday, Kevin Tillman blasts the military for lying about how his brother, former NFL star Pat Tillman, died from friendly fire. Wednesday, a Taliban leader says that Osama bin Laden personally directed a suicide attack on Vice President Dick Cheney. Thursday, in the face of a certain veto, Congress approves military funding, combined with a demand that troops leave Iraq. And Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would quote take action unquote if the U.S. went ahead with plans to install an anti-missile system in Eastern Europe.
We'll ask Arwa Damon in Baghdad about why Iraqis don't like walls, Dana Bash about what's really behind that fierce rhetoric on Capitol Hill and Matthew Chance if we're facing a new missile cries Moscow. THIS WEEK AT WAR. On Monday a dump truck filled with explosives slammed into an army outpost in Diyala province. A second truck was right behind it and drove within 30 yards of the main building before exploding. Nine American soldiers died. A group affiliated with al Qaeda boasted that they were responsible, so are we facing a resurgent al Qaeda in Iraq? What about Afghanistan and around the world? Arwa Damon is in our Baghdad bureau. Nic Robertson is in Atlanta, just returned from imbeds in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Robert Grenier, former director of the CIA counterterrorism center is with me here in Washington. Here is how General David Petraeus described al Qaeda in a Pentagon briefing on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IRAQ: Al Qaeda Iraq remains a formidable foe with considerable resilience and a capability to produce horrific attacks, but a group whose ideology and methods have increasingly alienated many in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Arwa, some people say that al Qaeda has effectively declared war on all of Iraq. Is that a sense that Iraqis have?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tom it really depends on who you're talking to. I mean, your ordinary Iraqi looks towards al Qaeda as pretty much being a terrorist organization, one that has managed to conduct many of these spectacular attacks that have been utterly devastating to ordinary life for just about anyone here, but there are still those elements that do support al Qaeda and that is the other part of the battle that faces U.S. troops here, Sunni groups, some of them are starting to break away from al Qaeda. But there are still those that still support them. That is evident in areas like al Anbar province and Diyala province that's north of Baghdad. And what the effort is focused on right now is trying to get those groups that the Americans tend to define as being more of a nationalistic Iraqi insurgency, trying to pull them even further away from al Qaeda and trying to convince them to come over to the side of the U.S. and the Iraqi forces.
FOREMAN: Let's look at the map and get an idea of what you're talking about there. This attack in the Diyala province was to the north and east of Baghdad, but there's also talk about al Qaeda now being behind this attack over in Afghanistan at Bagram airbase against the vice president of the United States, when he visited there, in an attempted suicide bombing. It didn't get close to him but nonetheless one of the big Taliban leaders Mullah Dadullah says that this was the work directly of al Qaeda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULLAH DADULLAH, TALIBAN MILITARY CMDR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This operation was a result of his blessed planning. He's the one who planned the details of this operation and guided us and the operation was successful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Who is he talking about? Osama bin Laden. Nic Robertson, is there a sense that Osama bin Laden, after being more or less gone for so long is really back in play?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think so, Tom. Look, there's a propaganda war going on here. The Taliban and al Qaeda are very good at playing it. That's definitely the assessment of military officials we talked to in Afghanistan. Look at what was happening in the days before Mullah Dadullah made that statement. NATO had said they had Dadullah surrounded by 200 NATO troops. There was an indication maybe that this was black operation, psychological operations against Dadullah, against the Taliban. What does he do? He retaliates. He says hey, guess what? That attack a few weeks Osama bin Laden initiated it. The assessment at the time was no one could have known that Vice President Cheney was going to be at Bagram. The best assessment, security assessment at the time that the Taliban quickly put a suicide bomber in play who was in the area, sent him as close as he could get into the base, not coming nowhere near the vice president but I think to say Osama bin Laden was actually involved in that. It looks like what we've got here is a real propaganda war going on.
FOREMAN: It's interesting, Robert Grenier, because much as been made of the fact that the media war for these groups has grown much more sophisticated. What do you think?
ROBERT GRENIER, FMR. CIA COUNTERTERRORISM DIR:I think that's absolutely right and if we're talking about al Qaeda, to put it in commercial terms this is largely a branding issue. I think Mullah Dadullah wants to emphasize the fact that he and the Taliban are very closely affiliated with al Qaeda and specifically with bin Laden.
FOREMAN: What do we make of military comments like this one from Major General William Caldwell on "Situation Room" this past Wednesday. Listen to what he said about al Qaeda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IRAQ: Al Qaeda continues to use the tactics that will intimidate and induce fear to the people and they realize when they take these ordinary chemicals like chlorine and they mix it with munitions, they create a new phenomena and it does scare the people and it scares anybody who is around that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: He was talking about a chlorine bomb there in Baghdad but look, here are military leaders including General Petraeus saying al Qaeda is real. Are they just buying into the media campaign? Well, al Qaeda is real. There's no question about that and al Qaeda in Iraq is very much a real organization. It's primarily an Iraqi organization. The vast proportion of the elements within al Qaeda in Iraq are Iraqis. Now, their links with al Qaeda, al Qaeda corps as it's sometimes referred to along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border are very limited. They simply don't have anything like tactical coordination. Again this is a branding issue but the organization within Iraq is a very real and very potent organization.
FOREMAN: So once again back to this notion Arwa, that there are a lot of groups out there that may say they are affiliated with it, but it doesn't mean they're necessarily working together. Is that a fair assessment?
GRENIER: I think that's precisely right.
DAMON: Well, Tom, again it goes back to which specific groups you're talking to. We've seen al Qaeda and Iraq and other Sunni organizations come together when the time is right. They have had perhaps an alliance of convenience and for the longest time, that has been the fight against U.S. troops. What the U.S. military points to right now is the initial sign of success in the battle between al Qaeda and the United States is this break that we're beginning to see amongst some of the Sunni groups that are growing increasingly disenchanted with al Qaeda's operations, especially those that are causing mass casualties.
FOREMAN: So Nic, is it fair to say that even if we think we have new problems with al Qaeda, al Qaeda's got problems of its own?
ROBERTSON: Al Qaeda does have problems of its own. If you look at what's happening in Afghanistan, there's a real battle between al Qaeda and the Afghan government as to who is actually going to win the heart of the Taliban. The moment al Qaeda does help the Taliban, there are assessment security, intelligence assessments who says that happens. Behind the scenes there are efforts to pull the Taliban away from al Qaeda to tell them that their fight is unjustified in Afghanistan to seek a political solution. Al Qaeda wants the Taliban to help fight its fight in Afghanistan.
FOREMAN: It's an interesting situation. We'll see what the future brings. Thank you so much Robert, Nic and Arwa. In just a few moments, the U.S. and Russia are once again at odds over missiles in Europe. Are we looking at a new cold war?
And straight ahead, what is there about a wall that so infuriates the Iraqi public? We'll get the inside story.
But first a THIS WEEK AT WAR remembrance. Army Private First Class Michael Rodriguez was one of the nine U.S. soldiers killed in Monday's suicide bombing in Iraq's Diyala province. Rodriguez and his comrades were members of the 82nd airborne divisions fifth squadron, 73rd cavalry regiment, third brigade combat team based out of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. When Rodriguez was home on leave this past January, he proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Caitlin Stone and she said yes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAITLIN STONE, FIANCEE: We could have had a very full life and cut short.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Private First Class Rodriguez was just 20 years old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETRAEUS: Military action is necessary but not sufficient. We can provide the Iraqis an opportunity, but they will have to exploit it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: A sober and sobering assessment this week from General David Petraeus, the ground commander in Iraq. But can the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people exploit the breathing space that the U.S. troops under Petraeus are sacrificing so much to provide? Bobby Ghosh is "Time" magazine's Baghdad bureau chief. He's taking some time off in New York. CNN's Barbara Starr is at her post in the Pentagon and in Los Angeles, Juan Cole, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Michigan, the author of "Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shiite Islam" join us. Bobby, let me ask you first, there are such conflicting reports coming out. The general showed up this week. He said we're making progress, we're moving forward. Other people are saying there's no progress, nothing's going forward. What do you read?
BOBBY GHOSH, TIME MAGAZINE BAGHDAD CHIEF: I think what's happening in Iraq is exactly the opposite of what happened in Vietnam all those years ago. If you remember back then, the problem was mission creep. The mission kept getting bigger. In Iraq you have a mission shrink. The objectives of the U.S. mission in Iraq have now shrunk to such an extent that it is possible for people to say we're succeeding just as long as there are fewer people being killed in sectarian warfare.
The larger picture though is that the solutions are hard to find. There's violence popping up in places where there was no violence before. Most of the bad guys, most of the people responsible for the sectarian violence are still at large, are, some of them are taking a vacation and will be back as soon as the Americans leave. The best case scenario is that this lull will last long enough, as General Petraeus said, for Iraqi politicians, for the Iraqi leadership to pick up the baton and run with it.
FOREMAN: Let's talk a little bit more about what General Petraeus said and listen to a little bit more as he defined the situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETRAEUS: I am well aware that the sense of gradual progress and achievement we feel on the ground in many areas in Iraq is often eclipsed by the sensational attacks that overshadow our daily accomplishments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Juan Cole, is this a problem of perception because there are these high-profile attacks or is it a problem of no real progress?
JUAN COLE, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: The real problem is that it's an unsolvable problem. You can't stop car bombings or suicide bombings very easily without large numbers of troops on the ground, without building walls, without constraining people's movements and General Petraeus doesn't have the ability to order all of those things necessarily that need to be done. We saw this week that the security barrier that was being built around a Sunni Arab neighborhood in Baghdad became a political football and the Shiites and the Sunnis both demonstrated against it and implicitly against General Petraeus' policy here, so if you can't control peoples' movements, then you can't stop the car bombing. The car bombing then produces tribal feuds, clan feuds among people. It increases insecurity. I really don't see in what way that problem can be solved by the U.S. at the current troop levels.
FOREMAN: Barbara, how does the Pentagon feel about this fight over this war? General Petraeus had an explanation for it this week, but he's facing a tough political scene.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is a very tough political situation here. General Petraeus himself might have described it best. He said that Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is not Tony Blair. That's an issue. A prime minister in Iraq, but unlike what we see in typical parliamentary government, Maliki doesn't control his ministers. It becomes a very fractured situation. He's got ministers of many different loyalties, from many different backgrounds with many different agendas. This wall, this barrier that was being constructed, that became that political football, really underscored that Maliki is facing a lot of divisions within his own government. So while Petraeus and the Bush administration are pressing for political progress in Iraq it's going to be very tough for Maliki is deliver.
FOREMAN: Let's look at this wall that we're talking about here. The idea, according to General Petraeus is if you can control access to a neighborhood for a period of time, you might be able to clear the neighborhood of potential insurgents, but listen to what was said about this walled off neighborhood in "Time" magazine. Charles Crane (ph) wrote neither the Sunnis nor the Shiites want to halt the war. They want to win it. Barriers designed to lock in the status quo were bound to provoke opposition in both communities. Let's go back to you Mr. Ghosh. What do you think about that? Is that the problem here that nobody really wants peace?
GHOSH: Well, that is certainly the big part of the problem. Extremists on both sides want to keep fighting, want to eliminate the other side and each side wants essentially to commit genocide on the other. But there are other problems with the wall. I think it was badly handled right from the beginning. Nobody consulted the people who lived in that neighborhood. There was very little effort to explain to them what this wall was supposed to do, which is extremely bad public relations on the part of the military and very bad PR in general. I think if the people of Adamia (ph) were taken into confidence, were told why this wall was being built, we might have seen a different outcome. We might not have but at the very least, some attempt should have been made to talk to them.
FOREMAN: Juan, moving forward here, can the Maliki government continue to stand against this briefly?
COLE: The government is collapsing. Maliki has had two major groups pull out of his coalition in the past month, the southern virtue party and the Sadr movement. Now I think he's down to about 85 members of parliament supporting him in a parliament of 275. He's dependent on other parties and blocs for any political support he gets and parliament is paralyzed. A lot of the members of parliament live abroad. They haven't passed any major legislation. They haven't passed the oil investment bill. They haven't proceeded with reconciliation with the Sunni Arabs. They refuse to reconsider the expulsion of the Baathists from public life, which angers the Sunni Arabs. So on all of the benchmarks that have been set and all of the ideas the people have had for moving forward, this government has been paralyzed and General Barry McCaffrey has done a recent report to suggest that the government is in control of no province in the entire country and that there are as many as 100,000 insurgent fighters. So this is not a situation that seems to me to be improving.
FOREMAN: Barbara Starr, very quickly here, is that what the Pentagon agrees with? Are they in control of nothing or do they think they're still making the progress the general is talking about?
STARR: I think it's a mixed picture across Iraq but here's the real bottom line, Tom. The corner has not been turned in any area in Iraq. All of these places are volatile and the real reading of the tea leaves from here, you walk these hallways in this Pentagon, you talk to the generals, there's not a one here right now that feels very chipper about the situation in Iraq.
FOREMAN: Thank you so much, Barbara, Juan, Bobby, we appreciate your insights.
Coming up on this THIS WEEK AT WAR, Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, two soldiers who were just doing their duty until someone decided to make them heroes. Was it the fog of war or just good PR? And straight ahead, the battle over military funding, is this a fight about winning the war or really about who will be seen as losing it? THIS WEEK AT WAR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R) MINORITY LEADER: This is not a choice. It is a mandate for defeat that al Qaeda desperately wants.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: What the president doesn't like about the bill is that it has accountability, something that has been missing in the four years we have been in this war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: On Thursday, accusations flew as the Congress passed a multibillion-dollar military funding bill in the face of a certain presidential veto, all good political theater, but what's going to happen after the veto? Here to help me pick out the policy from the politics, never an easy job in this town, congressional correspondent Dana Bash and White House correspondent Ed Henry. Dana, let me start with you. Is this all about winning the war or is this about avoiding blame for losing it?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I guess probably you would say neither, because what's going on right now, Tom, is pretty much how you laid out. It is both sides kind of positioning politically for, to represent, they think, where their constituencies want them to be, from the Democrats' point of view here in congress that is pushing the president to change policy. They say over and over that is why they were elected into the majority but what is really fascinating, Tom, is that right now, they really have no clue on the Democratic side how this story is going to end. They don't know what their strategy is going to be after the inevitable happens, which is of course a presidential veto.
And Ed Henry, what does the White House think of this point? Are they really trying to stay the course, or are they just fighting for their lives against the Democrats right now?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You could bet, you know, when people look back on this week from five, 10 years down the road, it's going to be significant because this White House realizes, though they don't want to admit it publicly, but for the first time ever in this war now going on its fifth year, you have majorities in both houses of Congress that have now voted and gone on the record for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq eventually and that's coming at the same time when the public opinion polls from CNN and other networks show that a majority of the public is there as well. So what the critics of course of the president are saying is that he's just digging in more. He's more isolated than ever. What the White House is trying to push back on is say no. He's principled and he's going to be vindicated eventually, despite the poll numbers, despite the votes on the Hill, he's pushing forward and ultimately there's going to be victory. But obviously, given the fact that the facts on the ground do not match that right now, the fact that there's not been enough actual progress on the ground, regardless of the rhetoric back here in Washington, is why there's such a void for this White House right now, Tom.
FOREMAN: Let's take a quick look at those numbers. An NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll how is President Bush handling the situation in Iraq, 66 percent of the people disapprove. But then on another poll, when you ask how the Democrats are doing it, who would you agree with more in dealing with Iraq, Democrats in Congress get 56 percent of the vote. That's a majority, not an overwhelming one. Ed, how do we move forward against numbers where really substantial portions of the public are saying they don't have a lot of faith in anyone in Washington to solve this thing.
HENRY: Very difficult for this president in particular. That's why you're hearing him more and more refer to General Petraeus, the commander on the ground. Why that is that this White House realizes General Petraeus is the new face of this war so he has more credibility than the president does right now in trying to sell this surge. But what happens after this veto, what happens next, when you talk to senior people here at the White House, what they say is, they hear from the Hill the possibility at this point that the Democrats in the next round here might and it's still a big might, end up pulling the withdrawal language and instead substituting it for what they call tough benchmarks that the Iraqi leaders have to meet X, Y and Z in order for this money to go to U.S. troops to continue the war.
Now, the Democrats might not quite be there yet but I can tell you senior White House people say they could probably support that in the second round here, that the president would be willing to accept some tough benchmarks that might be tough to swallow in the short term, but still stick to his guns and not have that withdrawal language and they might see that as at least a small victory for this White House, Tom.
FOREMAN: Dana, are the Democrats ready to go that way right now or are they still relishing too much the political upper hand?
FOREMAN: I know a lot of people are saying this won't happen now. But I ask you both very briefly here, what if everything does work the way General Petraeus says it might and it gets better as the summer goes on?
HENRY: Clearly, the president will keep those troops on the ground and it won't be a so-called surge anymore and you put them there for a long time. You keep them there and make sure that Baghdad stays secure, you start moving toward draw-downs.
They talked about that before and the benchmarks haven't been met. This White House realizes it can't get ahead of itself and looking at a big anniversary on Tuesday, Tom, the mission accomplished anniversary.
FOREMAN: Dana, what about the Democrats? If this starts improving, even over the next month or the next month, what are they going to do?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're going to do, if that happens, the reality is they're still going to be in the middle of this debate going on here in Congress. So they're going to be able to look at that probably and turn it on its head and say, "Look, look at what's going on there. It is time to bring troops home."
I think either way you look at it, from the Democrats, they're going to say bring troops home no matter what.
FOREMAN: Dana and Ed, thank you for joining us.
Later this hour, the defense secretary gets the cold shoulder from Moscow over a missile defense shield the U.S. wants to put in its back yard. Are these the first shots of a second Cold War?
Straight ahead, opening old wounds, did we learn anything new at the Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch hearings? "This Week at War."
FOREMAN: In war, the first casualty is the truth. A quotation that's said so often, we can't figure out who said it first. This week in Washington the question was, who was not telling the truth, and why?
We now know that Private Jessica Lynch wasn't fighting to the death, and that Corporal Pat Tillman was tragically killed by American gunfire. That wasn't what we were told at first. How much was the fog of war and how much was cynical deception?
Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has covered the Tillman and Lynch stories. And from Madison, Wisconsin, Jim Hanson, a retired Special Forces Sergeant, who writes a popular military blog at black5.net.
Pat Tillman's brother, Kevin, who served in his brother's unit, spoke Tuesday at a Congressional hearing of the circumstances surrounding his death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN TILLMAN, BROTHER OF CPL. PAT TILLMAN: We believe it shifted the focus from the grotesque torture at Abu Ghraib and, in a downward spiral, of an illegal act of aggression to a great American who died a hero's death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Jamie McIntyre, how did it possibly come to this for the Pentagon?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: One of the things about this investigation is despite poor investigations, they still haven't answered that key question. What was the motive behind the lie about Pat Tillman's death?
We don't have any evidence it was part of a P.R. campaign. But on the other hand, we don't have the explanation for who actually came up with the cover story, because all of the investigations make it clear that everyone up the chain of command knew pretty much from the very beginning this was a friendly-fire death, not a death from hostile fire.
FOREMAN: Jim Hanson, it certainly looks like a P.R. move. Why should we not use that as the default position here?
JIM HANSON, WRITER, BLANK5.NET MILITARY BLOG: I wouldn't disagree that it is a P.R. move. I think when Pat Tillman decided to take off his Arizona Cardinal's helmet and put on a Kevlar, he gave a tremendous gift both to the military and to the country as a whole. It was a boost to the morale of everyone.
I think when his death happened, and the Rangers there on the ground looked at the fact that this was potentially going to tarnish that tremendous gift and that tremendous P.R., you know, upside, that they made a tremendously bad decision and decided to not tell the truth.
It was an awful choice. But I think that probably was the reasoning behind it.
FOREMAN: Jamie, have the right people been held accountable yet? I'm not sure they can't be if we don't know who is involved.
MCINTYRE: Nine different officers have been held accountable, four generals included, all different kinds of things. Who wrote the Silver Star citation which really embodies the lie about what happened to Pat Tillman that day? That is an official document.
It was sort of written by committee, everybody who had a part of it disavows the part that's inaccurate. And despite four separate investigations we don't know who created the lie.
FOREMAN: This isn't just a standalone incident. Let's listen to what Lynch said in her testimony about again a manipulation of information seemingly for propaganda purposes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA LYNCH, PRIVATE, FORMER POW: I have repeatedly said when asked that if the stories about me helped inspire our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good. However, I'm still confused as to why they chose to lie and try to make me a legend, when the real heroes of my fellow soldiers that day were legendary.
FOREMAN: Jim, don't you think that in many ways this really does demean the real heroics and the people who do tremendous work out there, that anybody in the Pentagon let these stories move forward that way, when they weren't sure?
MCINTYRE: I think you're looking at two completely different situations. The Pat Tillman situation was quite obviously a cover-up of a friendly fire incident.
The Jessica Lynch situation was more of what you'd call the fog of war. When that situation, when the ambush happened and she was knocked unconscious, the initial reports probably from her unit, somebody tipped "The Washington Post" that she had been shot, that she had fought heroically and been captured.
That information was denied by the army spokesmen at the time. They caveated and said we have no confirmation of that.
So I'm unaware of any official military releases stating that the whole hero story was true. I think what happened was "The Washington Post" wrote their story and the rest of the media picked it up in a feeding frenzy.
FOREMAN: I can buy that to some extent. But at the same time, Jamie, the people who are going to for information about this we all know when somebody says I can't confirm that's true, that's a way of not saying anything about it as opposed to saying actively we don't believe that's true.
HANSON: I think Jim's got it about right. The Pat Tillman case was definitely the army putting out intentionally false information.
The Jessica Lynch case, completely different. It appears that a source was confused about some real heroics by somebody else on the battlefield, thought that was Jessica Lynch and "The Washington Post" failed to follow up their own report because, as Jim said, it was obvious the day the story was in the paper that the facts weren't there to back it up.
The story got out ahead of the ability of the army to catch up. Have very different case, the Tillman case and the Lynch case.
FOREMAN: Let me ask you quickly, Jim, there's been a lot made of the media improvements by the insurgents, that they're doing a great job of getting their message out. What are we going to see from our military as we move forward against that press machine, when they try to balance it?
HANSON: You make a good point. you forced me to point out you guys did put out a pretty heinous video of snipers, of the insurgents killing U.S. troops on CNN, so you guys to some extent helped them with their own propaganda.
Now the U.S. has never been good at information warfare. It's probably the weakest part of our military toolbox.
And another difficulty is any time the military gets involved in trying to change the information war, it becomes a question of, is this propaganda and is this a proper thing for the defense department or military to be doing to attempt to change the information scene in the way the information is put out?
I think there's a difficulty in doing it. It should be our biggest focus. We should be carpet bombing the Middle East with iPods full of good things about America and positive aspects that we are doing for their cultures, and we do a terrible job of it.
FOREMAN: Jim Hanson, we have to leave it at that. People can check out your website for more news. Jamie McIntyre will stay with us. When we come back, Russia and the United States in a diplomatic fist fight over missiles that may not even work. We'll get the details in just a moment. But first, 60 members of the Illinois National Guard said good- bye to loved ones this week as they prepared for a year-long tour of duty. For one family, it's not just a question of good-bye.
Sergeant First Class Lacy Snidigar will be heading out with his 19-year-old son, David, both father and son a bit worried.
DAVID SNEDIGAR, U.S. ARMY: It's nice to have a family member there, but it might get kind of hard at times.
LACY SNEDIGAR JR., SGT. 1ST CLASS, U.S. ARMY: He goes out on some missions I'll be a little bit more nervous than normal.
FOREMAN: The Snidigar's will be based in Kuwait, working to transport personnel and equipment in and out of Iraq. The best of luck to them.
Stick with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The key to this is cooperation. We would like to have the Russians as partners in this process. We would like to share information with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: That was Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday. By the end of the week it was clear that no one was close to a partnership.
Russian president Vladimir Putin threatened to pull out of a key arms control treaty with Europe.
Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice responded that Russia's concerns were ludicrous.
What's it all about? A plan to put a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.
On Monday, CNN's Jamie McIntyre had the details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. argues by stationing ten interceptor missiles in Poland, as well as target radar in the Czech Republic, it can better protect not only America, but its allies too, including Russia, from missiles fired from Iran or North Korea.
However, Russia seems to think the U.S. is the bigger threat. (END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Are we looking at a real missile crisis or is this a diplomatic dance?
Jamie McIntyre is with me once again here. And from Moscow, our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance.
Matthew, what are the Russians so upset about?
MCINTYRE: Well, Tom, the Russians are upset that so many NATO military and U.S. military installations are being placed, what they see as on their western frontier.
They said this idea of placing a missile defense system in Poland, and in the Czech Republic, could really have a significant impact on their own nuclear deterrence, even though the U.S. says these systems are designed to combat the threat from rogue missiles from countries like Iran and to some extent from North Korea as well.
Russia believes that the real target is its nuclear deterrence and says it's taking steps to combat that.
One of the steps it says it will take is to possibly consider withdrawing from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, a cornerstone defense agreement in the European continent, which sets the number of forces there in Europe to try and prevent some kind of war developing here.
What Vladimir Putin has said is that the U.S. missile defense plan in these European countries eastern European countries could threaten mutual destruction for both the United States and for Russia as well...
FOREMAN: That's a big, big thing to say, Matthew. That's an awfully big thing to say. Look at the map for a moment here. This is what we're talking about if we look at the Czech Republic and Poland. Russia is over here, Moscow not too far off in that direction. This is what we're talking about. Satellite tracking system here, 10 missile operations in Poland and the range is not enormous on these things.
This is roughly the range. They're meant to go up into space essentially as part of this defense. They don't go that far. Jamie these don't even reach Russia. What is the issue?
MCINTYRE: Russia is not threatened by the 10 interceptor missiles but they're threatened by is the trend. It's not a new cold war but there's a chill in the air between Washington and Moscow. And that's what Bob Gates ran into when he went to explain how this was in Russia's interest as well. and he basically was stiff-armed. He was rebuffed and told we don't think so.
And part of it is there's just a mistrust of what would be coming after these missiles. Those 10 missiles are what's required to shoot down just one incoming missile.
FOREMAN: Matthew Chance, when you hear all of that it does seem clear it would be the future that Moscow is concerned about here, not so much this move. How has it come to this from Moscow's side? Seems like we were getting along pretty well not long ago.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It does certainly seem that way. I think there's been a realization in Moscow or a change in mind-set in Moscow at least. They think these treaties, these agreements brokered when Russia was weak, they're not valid anymore.
Russia feels to be strong now. It wants to reassert itself on the international stage and it's starting at the very basic level. It's re-examining all of these treaties that the latter days of the Soviet Union signed up to in the early days of the independent Russia signed up to. And in it's saying, are these treaties in our interest?
I think what Vladimir Putin is saying, "Look, from now on in, we're going to have to deal with yaush as a strong country, not as the weak country it was when the Soviet Union collapsed."
FOREMAN: And so, Jamie, when you're talking about plans like this, and that attitude from Moscow, what is the Pentagon see, Moscow still a friend? Kind of not a friend? What are they?
MCINTYRE: Well, it's a power play. The Pentagon believes this is all negotiable, all negotiating points.
Russia is clearly feeling threatened by the expansion of nano which used to be 12 countries, then 16, then 26. They're seeing all of the former Soviet republics being gobbled up into NATO. And they want to be treated as the big deal they think they are. And that's what this is.
FOREMAN: Thank you Jamie McIntyre, Matthew Chance as well.
When we come back, Brandon Wallace's fiancee family meets his family for the first time. Tragically, Brandon wasn't able to make the introductions. Stay with us.
FOREMAN: Now, a "This Week at War" remembrance. On Tuesday, more than 300 people gathered to say one final good-bye to Staff Sergeant Brandon Wallace.
Wallace was killed earlier this month in Fallujah, when an IED detonated near his vehicle. His fiancee brought his body home to the family she had never met. As family and friends remembered him, laughter, mixed with the tears.
RACHEL TUCKER, SISTER OF BRANDON WALLACE: Brandon was many things to me. He was my big brother and he was the bravest, strongest, funniest craziest -- the list goes on -- man of God I have ever known. He's my hero today.
FOREMAN: Brandon Wallace was assign to the 1,451st Transportation Company, 13th Support Command. He was 27 years old.
When we come back, we'll explore how the international community is coming together now to rebuild Iraq. But first, a look at some of those who fell in "This Week at War."
FOREMAN: We started our program talking about al Qaeda's apparent new rise in power and all the worry that could bring, but we end with a little perspective.
More than 100 years ago, many people in America were terrified that anarchists were going to bring the nation down with their bombings and assassination plots aimed at the government right here.
One enraged anarchist shot President Theodore Roosevelt in the chest during his re-election campaign. Roosevelt survived, in large part, because the bullet had to pass through a thick speech he was just about to deliver.
He went on to make that speech, with blood seeping from his shirt. And he lived the remainder of his days with that bullet in his chest.
He believed, throughout the challenges, that faced the nation then, that America could and must find a way to pull together against adversity. And that Americans should always have faith that no matter how bad the times, together, we can make them much better.
Turning to some of the stories that we'll be following in the next "Week at War. On Monday, an Israeli commission will issue its report on the recent fighting in Lebanon that's expected to be critical of the leadership of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
On Tuesday, the controversial military funding bill is expected to land on President Bush's desk, not coincidentally, Tuesday is also the fourth anniversary of his statement that major combat operations in Iraq have ended.
And on Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to attend a major international summit on Iraq's reconstruction in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh.
Thanks for joining us on "This Week at War." I'm Tom Foreman. Straight ahead, a check of the headlines.
Then, CNN's "Special Investigations Unit: We Were Warned, Edge of Disaster."
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