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THIS WEEK AT WAR
Week's War-Related Events Reviewed
Aired May 27, 2007 - 13:00 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: The pictures are all too familiar, the fierce street battles, the wounded, the desperate faces of innocents caught up in the horror of war. But are there are vital U.S. interests in Lebanon or are we simply being drawn into another conflict that can't be won? THIS WEEK AT WAR right after a quick look at what's in the news right now.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks so much Tom. I'm Rick Sanchez here in the CNN newsroom. Let's try to bring you up to date now on what's going on. Five U.S. troops died today in Iraq and the military says that three more troops died this week. That news of those deaths was not reported until today, by the way. It the deadliest attack that happened in a province north of Baghdad. Three soldiers killed when an explosion hit their patrol.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Graduating class of 2007. Dismissed!
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SANCHEZ: Hats off to the class of 2007, 978 West Point cadets graduated from the U.S. military academy today. Their commencement speaker, Vice President Dick Cheney. I'm Rick Sanchez. I'll be back at the bottom of the hour with more news. Right now, let's take you back to Tom and THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: THIS WEEK AT WAR, in Iraq us commanders are developing a new battle plan as casualties continue to mount. At least they're not waiting for the old plan to fail. That's good. Israeli jets pounded targets in the Gaza strip and rounded up Hamas leaders this week. All this has been tried and failed before so a down arrow here.
A negative report from the UN, sanctions have not stopped Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology. So will another round of sanctions solve anything? A signature injury of the war on terror, post- traumatic stress. Congress investigates whether the military's working to cure it or simply sweep it under the rug. They say there's reform. We'll see.
Lebanon, definitely worse. Street fighting and car bombs are the way the last civil war in this nation began. I'm Tom Foreman. There are times and this is one when the problems of the Middle East seem endless. When it appears that there's simply no solution to the strike in Lebanon, in Israel, in Iraq. But can the U.S. afford to simply turn away? Jamie McIntyre has been reporting for the Pentagon on the new battle plan for Iraq. We'll talk to him. Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem, a look at what chances are left for peace in the chaos of Gaza and the west bank and we'll discuss the latest techniques in fighting terrorism with Nic Robertson in Italy. THIS WEEK AT WAR.
First, Lebanon. On Monday, the street battles raged outside a Palestinian refugee camp in the northern city of Tripoli as the Lebanese military fought a well-armed radical Islamist militia. It's all sadly familiar for those of us who watched Lebanon tear itself apart in the 1980s, but the U.S. left Lebanon after losing 241 troops in a truck bombing at the Beirut airport long ago. So why, then, are we sending planes filled with ammunition to that same airport today? Paula Newton has been following the fighting in Tripoli and is now in our Beirut bureau, Barbara Starr joins us from her post at the Pentagon and with me in the studio is Salameh Nematt, the Washington bureau chief for al Hayat newspaper and the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation. Paula, simply explain it to our viewers at home. Why is this fighting happening now?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's happening now because Fatah al Islam, which is an al Qaeda-inspired group has taken up, how shall we say, refuge in this kind of a camp, this kind of Palestinian camp. The Lebanese army, the Lebanese security forces, have absolutely no jurisdiction to go in there. It became a very convenient safe haven for them. When the Lebanese authorities decided to move in, they knew that they were causing some trouble outside of the camp. That gave the Lebanese authorities a chance to move in. That started on Monday and it spiraled since then. Those militants went back in to the camp and the Lebanese army started to attack them within the camp. Again, a place they have no jurisdiction. Things calmed down on Wednesday. Since then we've had a standoff and, really, they say a showdown is looming in the next few days.
FOREMAN: Let's take a look at the area that we're talking about here. These are some of the camps in Lebanon. There are about 400,000 Palestinian refugees here. This is the particular camp we're talking about. When you broaden it out you can see that there are many more out in the country here, if we take a look at those scattered around the area. Barbara, why does the U.S. care about this? Why are we sending support and how much are we sending?
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tom, by the time it's all over, there's going to be more than half a dozen cargo planes going into Beirut international airport carrying ammunition supplies that the Lebanese government requested on an emergency basis. There is an existing program that allows for this to happen, but as a result of this latest security emergency, the Lebanese army used so much ammunition to be blunt, they needed more. It's something the U.S.wants to do. They want to support the Lebanese government and most importantly, they want the Lebanese armed forces, not Hezbollah, not Fatah al Islam, they want the Lebanese armed forces to be the acknowledged legitimate security force to that country.
FOREMAN: It's a continuing struggle obviously. On Thursday Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora spoke on this battle going on in his country, talking about a proxy war in which many other forces are involved. Listen to him.
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FUAD SINIORA, LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We will not allow Lebanon to be a play ground for conflicts or the international interests that is not in the interests of Lebanon, the Arab Lebanon, the suffering, the free, the independent Lebanon.
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FOREMAN: Let's look at another map here and get a sense of what he's talking about. One of the questions here is the neighbor to the right here. You go to Lebanon, you get to Syria and here's Iraq. The question all along in Iraq has been, to what degree has Syria been allowing fighters to come in and stir things up in Iraq? Now, this looks awfully familiar over here in Lebanon doesn't it?
SALAMEH NEMATT, LEBANESE BROADCASTING CORP: It does. It seems that while the Syrians have played a role in undermining the Iraqi government, the elected Iraqi government in Iraq, it looks like it wants to do the same in Lebanon, especially after being ousted. The Syrian occupation ended last year as a result of UN action and cooperation through the U.S. and France (ph). It does look like the Lebanese government, again, which iselected directly by the people is being undermined by forces that are loyal to Syria on the one hand and Iran on the other.
FOREMAN: There are forces in Syria who have long felt that parts of Lebanon if not the entire country rightfully belonged to Syria anyway.
NEMATT: If you want to go back in history, then nobody owns any country. Nobody belongs to any country. The fact is that Syria never recognized Lebanon as a sovereign, independent state, never actually sent a diplomatic mission to Lebanon. It never sent - it never had an embassy in Beirut. Why the Lebanese did have also embassies all over the world recognized as a UN member. So the Sunnis have always tried to undermine Lebanese sovereignty. They were forced out of Lebanon (INAUDIBLE) security level. They are using these quasi-militias to basically serve their political agenda.
FOREMAN: Paula, let me ask you. How did this branch of al Qaeda, in effect, get established in these camps? Were they welcomed in by the Palestinian refugees there?
NEWTON: They certainly weren't welcomed in. But as I said, it's an ungovernable space. And as we heard from the CIA and the Defense Department over and over and over, those are the kind of places that al Qaeda looks for. Any place that doesn't have a jurisdiction to it. These camps have their own self-authority. They have different fighting militias and factions, sometimes some type of squabbles break out. They were looking. This group was looking. We were at a camp earlier in Beirut where they had tried to set up during the war here last year. They were kicked out of that camp. People didn't like them being there. Quietly they set up in this other camp, but it didn't come to anyone's attention until March. It's not that people there sympathize with them, but they do have a base of support in an area where basically there is no law. FOREMAN: Barbara, certainly the U.S. military has to have concerns about this. With all the struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq right now, yes, there are U.S. interests here, yes, there are reasons to help a government that is pro-western, especially if the alternative is expanding power by Syria, for example. But isn't there concern about U.S. military leaders saying, we just don't want to get in to another fight?
STARR: Well, I think that's very much the case, but in Lebanon, as we have talked about, it is, in fact, a case where the U.S. security interest, the U.S. military interest, is to be seen as supporting the Lebanese armed forces for the very reason that Paula just discussed. It is a very fragile government. It's a fragile security situation and no one in the Bush administration or the U.S. military wants to see Lebanon become a safe haven for al Qaeda.
FOREMAN: One word answer here, Barbara. Any chance that this means U.S. troops going in at some point?
FOREMAN: Not at this point. I leave the last word to you Salameh. What is going to happen here? Right now there are certain rules about who can enter the camps and how they enter them. Will those stand or there be a point at which the Lebanese government and the international community has to say we can't let these people live among these folks and use them as a base for doing these --
NEMATT: I believe the Lebanese government has already decided to basically flush these forces out of the refugee camps. They can't go back now, because if they do, it means that they want to give in to having a state within a state. These security islands, as they call them. I think you know, after the second day of the confrontation, the Fatah Islam declared a unilateral cease-fire which indicates that they feel that they are weakened and they want a way out of this.
FOREMAN: It's going to about complex situation, but one that we really do have to keep an eye on in this country as time moves on. Thanks so much, Salameh, we appreciate it, Barbara, Paula as well.
Later on THIS WEEK AT WAR, the veterans who fought in Vietnam came home to battle depression, anger and substance abuse in many cases. Is the military ready for an even bigger psychological problem from Iraq vets?
In just a moment, the commanders in Iraq are beginning to apply the lessons of al Anbar province where violence is down to the rest of Iraq. But can a new plan work before September rolls around? THIS WEEK AT WAR.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to expect heavy fighting in the weeks and months. We can expect more American and Iraqi casualties. It could be a bloody, it could be a very difficult August.
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FOREMAN: On Thursday, President Bush warns of a long, tough summer in Iraq. In fact it could be a lot longer than just this summer. A new battle plan being hammered out by military and civilian planners reportedly calls for more troops staying in Iraq for longer periods. Will this new strategy be worth the cost? Paula Hancocks is in our Baghdad bureau, here in Washington, Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reporting who's been reporting on this new plan all week is of course at the Pentagon. Jamie, lay out the basics for us.
JAMIE McINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, there's a debate going on about whether this is a new strategy or just a refinement of the old strategy. Basically what they're looking at is negotiating small power sharing agreements, local agreements, local cease-fires around the country where they can and then hoping that that spreads. To do that, it's likely, but not guaranteed that they would need to maintain the troop buildup that's there now, even as they recognize they can't do that much past March and this new strategy doesn't envision significant troop withdrawals like tens of thousands of troops coming home, until January of 2009.
FOREMAN: Let's listen very briefly to what Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at his briefing on Thursday about this new thought pattern.
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ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Whether we have focused too much on central government construction in both Iraq and Afghanistan and not enough on the cultural and historical provincial, tribal and other entities that have played an important role in the history of both countries.
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FOREMAN: Michael O'Hanlon does this represent a very significant change in the language of this war? We've talked so much about central government, stable government, everybody working together with the same military.
MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: There's an important change here. I want to say one thing about an earlier change than what you've clipped. President Bush talking about a long, hard, difficult summer. That is in contrast to the rhetoric that Secretary Gates and General Petraeus have been using saying, give the surge until September. By then we should see clear promise, if indeed it's going to work. This is to me, a major change. The administration beginning to backtrack from that language and saying, listen, we anticipate a September debate about this war, which looks like we're not going to have a lot of great results to talk about at that time, but we still don't plan on pulling the plug even if that's the case. To me this is a big change in that rhetoric. In terms of the strategy refinements I think Jamie McIntyre's language is correct. This is a refinement of the basic January 10th plan because counterinsurgency doctrine of the type that General Petraeus espouses, that Mr. Bush talked about in this January speech, this requires you to look for local partners wherever you can. It requires you to get into the politics. Politics is central. Petraeus tends to say it's 80 percent of this kind of mission. So I think it's a tweaking, a refinement, rather than a change.
FOREMAN: Let's look at the map very quickly, the regions we're talking about, some of the hot spots that right now are on fire. They're Baghdad, of course. We've got Diyala province. We've got the triangle of death down here. Paula, when you look at the hot spots of this country, are there local partners in those areas who can agree to help quiet things down or would be willing to and on what terms?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tom, the question to be asked also is the fact that who are these brutes? How fragmented are they? Who are their leaders? And are they going to keep those particular allegiances? Many of these groups are splinters of allegiances and they haven't kept to the same group themselves. Also, how would it feel for the men and the women on the ground? They've been fighting against these particular groups and all of a sudden they have to bring them into the fold. It is an acknowledgement that the political system isn't working. The al Malaki government looks like it's extremely shaky, could collapse that coalition. But obviously, it's going to be intensely difficult to pick who of these groups that they do actually go for and how to approach them.
FOREMAN: So Paula, you're saying even in a given area, if you're looking for the most likely militia group or the most likely political group that you could back to stabilize that town, it may be hard to pick that group.
HANCOCKS: Well we know that many of these groups have different leaders. We're seeing many of these different leaders being picked off by U.S. and British forces over the past weeks and months. So, of course, it's very tricky to know how to actually approach these groups and then who they're allegiances are to. The fighting has gotten to such a stage in Iraq and particularly around Baghdad and what is nicknamed the triangle of death. I don't know how physically they will approach an individual and say, we would like to stop fighting and now begin talking.
FOREMAN: Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Mehdi army, has been showing up again. What does the Pentagon make of that, Jamie? Do they look at these new plans and say, return of a big figure like this is going to torpedo all this or it has to be dealt with? What do you think?
McINTYRE: The big question is, is Muqtada al-Sadr what they're talking about as a reconcilable, the term they've given to somebody who could be brought in to the process, part of a power-sharing agreement or is he an irreconcilable, somebody who's never going to be a part of the solution in which case, he would be an enemy. And right now they still put him in that reconcilable branch. Here's the key shift here, the Pentagon's admitting that this is not just a counterinsurgency where you support the government to try to defeat the rebels that are opposing it. This is a civil war where you cannot back one side against the other. And what they're looking at is trying to bring people to the table, essentially separate two people, like two people in a bar fight, pull them apart and then give them a reason to stop fighting. And the key shift is the recognition that it's the civil war is the main problem, not all of these other factors that are going on in the country.
FOREMAN: So Michael O'Hanlon what reason will they give these factions to stop fighting that they'll buy?
O'HANLON: I don't know. You still have to depend on the central government to make compromises on issues like oil, on a new de- Baathification process that's more friendly to some mid-level former Baathists. So the central government is still critical. This is not a regional autonomy plan of the type that Senator Biden and others had been proposing where you do a Bosnia model in three separate zones that run themselves. What you have to do I think is focus on security and what's happened in al Anbar is they tried to get the local sheiks to encourage their own followers to join.
FOREMAN: It worked there.
O'HANLON: It did work there.
FOREMAN: Can it work in these other areas?
O'HANLON: The other areas are more complex because they're more ethnically diverse. In al Anbar province, the Sunnis know basically they don't have to worry about the Shia. Nobody else wants Ramadi and Fallujah, so the question is who runs the place, the sheiks or al Qaeda? It's a little simpler proposition. Around Baghdad however, you've got the ethnic civil war element that Jamie's talking about in addition to the al Qaeda versus Sunni and the insurgency piece. So it's more complicated in these more difficult zones, but the ultimate point is, you can still try to get local militias, strongmen and so forth, to encourage their followers to join the police and the army. It's the security piece that really is the focus of this, if we have to fight al-Sadr, if we ever have to change and put him in the irreconcilable category, we are in big trouble. That is a huge militia that then becomes our enemy. I'm not sure the strategy is viable under those assumptions.
FOREMAN: I'll have to find out who falls in which category in all this. Michael, thank you so much. Jamie, Paula, as well.
In just a few moments, the militants fighting in Tripoli are an example of a new kind of Islamic radical, mobile, multi-national and influenced but not controlled by al Qaeda. We'll go to Italy for the latest on how law enforcement is gearing up to combat this new wave of terror.
And straight ahead, Israelis and Palestinians locked in yet another cycle of attack and reprisal. Are there any leaders left standing who are strong enough to make peace there? But first, we have a remembrance on this Memorial Day weekend. Marine Captain Jennifer Harris was something special. Just ask all the people who knew her best.
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LT. ROSIE GOSCINSKI, U.S. NAVY: Jen was, she was a goof. She was mischievous. She was professional. She was wonderful. She was a good listener and she knew that things done down here on this earth for other people are the things that matter in her life, and that's -- that is why she flew.
TONY MACONE, UNCLE: She knew the type of mission that she would be flying would be helping people. That was important to her, just helping people, just being out there and caring about people. She was very, very compassionate.
CAPT. JENNIFER HARRIS, U.S. MARINE CORPS: In the daytime we do the (INAUDIBLE) mission so we are on standby and for going to pick up anybody who gets injured out there. Primarily Marines and soldiers, but we also pick up Iraqis and Iraqi civilians, if they're involved in any sort of military -related accident.
GOSCINSKI: She had unfailing faith and love for her country. And she, no matter what was going on in her head, she wanted all of her family and friends to know that what she was doing over there was completely important and she had a belief that we making a difference over there.
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FOREMAN: Captain Harris' helicopter Morphine 1-2, was shot down northwest of Baghdad on February 7th. Everyone onboard died. She was 28 years old.
FOREMAN: The U.S. has put its reputation on the line in the Middle East, but can peace ever emerge from this endless conflict? In Gaza, Palestinian gunmen have been battling each other for weeks. At the same time radicals have been firing rockets into Israel apparently hoping for an Israeli ground attack that will unite the warring Palestinian factions. Instead Israel has been using air strikes as Ben Wedeman reported on Tuesday.
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BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attack after attack after attack. Israel's pursuit of its enemies in Gaza is unrelenting. Monday four militants from Islamic jihad were killed in an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza. Overnight Israel hit a house in Gaza City. Eight people were killed, including civilians.
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FOREMAN: And Thursday Israel swept in to the West Bank and arrested more than 30 Hamas leaders. Ben Wedeman is standing by in Jerusalem. With me in Washington is Haim Malka, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Ben, let me start with you. Very simply, what is this latest fighting about?
WEDEMAN: Well, this is an ongoing power struggle between Fatah and Hamas and it's very complicated by the fact that the United States and Israel are supporting one side, that's Fatah, and Iran and Syria are supporting the other and that's Hamas. And this is a very volatile, internal struggle that has dynamics that go far beyond the Gaza strip or the West Bank and it's going to be very difficult to resolve. At the moment people might say it's quiet, but the expectation is things are just going to get worse when they flare up yet again.
FOREMAN: I want to go to a map very quickly Haim and look at the area we're talking about, the people can remember, this is Israel. Down here is where Gaza is and this is where the might been happening, up to north, where some these rockets have been fired and have been landing out here in Israel a little bit further out. Why are these two groups fighting so much? The Palestinians seemingly from the outside world ought to be united in what they want to accomplish.
HAIM MALKA, CTR FOR STRATEGIC & INTL STUDIES: Well, there are deep divisions between the Palestinians right now, between the main factions, Hamas and Fatah, over who will control the authority, the Palestinian authority who will control some of the government institutions and really the bottom line here is who will control the security forces? But beyond that, there are a lot of deep divisions and personal rivalries that date back over a decade between them that continues this fighting.
FOREMAN: There's a quote in the "New York Times" I want you to consider here, about Israel's role in all this and how they respond. It says, if Israel goes into Gaza too hard, it will be criticized for trying to overcompensate for its failures last summer against Hezbollah. If it acts with too much restraint and caution, it will be criticized for being intimidated by its failures last summer against Hezbollah. Haim, can Israel come out good at all in this?
MALKA: They have to walk a very fine line here, because a ground operation, which would really clear out some of these rocket launching areas, is very costly in terms of human life and politically for a government that is already very weak and on the defensive. So they have to play a very, very delicate game here.
FOREMAN: Ben, how do most Palestinians feel about this? Is this a fight that they don't want or they do want because they back one faction or the other?
WEDEMAN: Most Palestinians really feel like they're caught in the middle and increasingly when you speak to people in the West Bank and in Gaza, they're angry at both factions, because both factions are obviously hungry for power, either one, keep on holding it or want to gab it from the other side, and ordinary Palestinians really feel like they are literally caught in the cross fire and increasingly you're hearing people curse in the same sentence at both Hamas and at Fatah. They're sick of it. They have a difficult time as it is, but with street fighting in Gaza making it virtually impossible to make a living, to send your kids to school, the anger is really growing quite perceptibly day by day.
FOREMAN: Haim, with this sort of thing going on, how can Hamas or Fatah leaders expect anyone in the world community to respect them?
HAIM MALKA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: That's a good point. Without a basic understanding between Fatah and Hamas, without a basic consensus between these two Palestinian factions, no Palestinian leadership will be capable of entering in to any kind of political process with the Israeli, and no Palestinian leadership will be able to implement even the most basic agreement.
So it's extremely important that there is a basic con since and understanding between these two Palestinian groups. If there's going to be any progress.
FOREMAN: Is that a concern, Ben? Do the leaders of Hamas and Fatah care about what the world community thinks, or are they just fighting for power now?
WEDEMAN: Well, really, it is at heart a struggle for power. And they're not really that concerned about what the outside world thinks. Obviously, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and the head of Fatah wants to maintain good relations with the Israelis, with the Americans, because that's where his support comes from, but by and large, they're so overwhelmed by this day-to-day struggle for control of Gaza, that they're not really thinking ahead.
Nobody really is thinking at this point about, for instance, resuming what he used to call the peace process. It really has reached a point where it's just all about this internal struggle which is being fought out in the streets of Gaza.
FOREMAN: Ben, day to day, how much of this is a proxy war between western powers and other powers in the Middle East?
WEDEMAN: Well, it certainly seems to be the case. The United States has provided tens of millions of dollars in assistance, they say it's non-lethal to Fatah and Hamas is obviously receiving support from the Iranians, from the Syrians and possibly others as well.
So it is a proxy war, but in most -- always in a proxy war, you wouldn't be having a war if there wasn't a conflict to start with. So various regional powers, global powers, like the United States, become involved, but at the end of the day it is a local conflict.
FOREMAN: And Haim, the final word to you here. How will this be resolved? Or is there any sign it can be?
MALKA: Well, eventually they'll reach some sort of a cease-fire. The question, when will that be and under what terms and how many more people have to die before we reach that point?
FOREMAN: And will it just be a continuation of a battle late other than down the line. Haim, thanks very much for being here. You, too, Ben.
Later on THIS WEEK AT WAR, in World War I it was shell shock. In World War II, battle fatigue. Now it's known at post-traumatic stress disorder, and as many as one-third of all Iraq veterans could be affected. Are we ready to help those whose wounds are deep inside?
And straight ahead, bombers in London. Jihadists in New Jersey. Nic Robertson reports on the latest tactics to fight the new face of terror.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Rick Sanchez here in the CNN NEWSROOM. More of THIS WEEK AT WAR in just a moment but first a look at what's happening right now.
The U.S. military says it has 16 suspects in custody that are, quote, "directly related to the attack of American military convoy two weeks ago."
Four American troops and an Iraqi translator we are killed. Three U.S. soldiers abducted. Two of which remain missing.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE UNIT goes beyond the headlines to try and show you the frantic fight to save the lives of wounded troops inside a Baghdad emergency room. Don't miss CNN SIU, "Combat Hospital" tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Now let's take you back to Tom and THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: The face of al Qaeda is changing. Evolving into a more independent movement, increasingly connected by the Internet. So how are the world's governments changing their methods to meet this new threat? This weekend in Florence, Italy, experts from law enforcement, diplomacy and counterterrorism are joining forces to work out new and more effective tactics.
And CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is there. He joins us now. Nic, is this a time in which these folks feeling energized and optimistic, or a time when they feel their backs are against a wall?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think there's a little bit of both, here, Tom, to be perfectly honest. Some of the assessments have sounded quite positive and then some of the delegates, and this is literally the top table of European counterterrorism officials and the views are divided.
There are some gains and some reasons to feel good. Perhaps the United States doesn't have the same problem that, for example, Britain does, with the Muslim community in Britain, that has such strong ties to Pakistan and such easy access to learning terrorism techniques as learned with the 7/7 in 2005 and the bombings, the attempted bombings a couple weeks later. Compare that are to the United States where there doesn't appear on the surface to be such a radicalized Muslim community. Dig down, listen to the conversation, as it goes along, you'll hear the U.S. official saying, no. We're concerned that there are sleeper cells we don't exactly know who or where they are, but we know they're there. They're just not quite as radicalized perhaps as the British group groups at this time. Tom?
FOREMAN: Nic, one of the issues that has been raised is just that. To what extent are there cells truly in Western nation where we would like to think there are not? Listen to this report by Wayne Gray Thursday on the search for terrorist suspects in the U.K.
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WAYNE GRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scotland Yard says it's hunting for these men, brothers Lamin and Ibrahim Adam (ph) and Suri Bulivant (ph) who British authorities say they have disappeared.
The men are suspecting of planning attacks on British troops abroad though they haven't been charged with any crime. Instead they were placed under what's known as a control order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: To what extent, Nic, to the folks feel they have the tools necessary to root out cells like this, or they need new tools?
ROBERTSON: Well, again, there are many schools of thought. And that is perhaps one of the interesting things about this conference, that there are a variety of views. There are views that some of these sleeper cells, as long as they are sleeper cells and as long as they are cells that have sort of self-formed, self-motivated, as long as they don't go somewhere to get special terror training, they can carry out an attack, but it will be relatively ineffective. A small blip on the radar screen.
What is the concern for governments around the world and particularly Britain right now, who very much seems to be in the hot seat, they have 2,000 terror suspects at this time. Some 30 terror plots that they're tracking. Their security services are stretched in trying to do that, and they're also faced with human rights restrictions on when they can arrest people, and whether they can deport people who are visiting from other countries who they believe represent a threat to the British nation, however, haven't crossed any specific boundaries. There are human rights laws in Europe that prevent you extraditing to their country of origin if they face in that country the possibility of torture. Tom?
FOREMAN: All right. Nic Robertson, let's hope they have success with all that, and thanks for your time.
In just a moment, the scandal at Walter Reed revealed the problems facing our wounded veterans. What about the wounds that don't show? We'll look at combat's psychic scars when we come back. THIS WEEK AT WAR. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
FOREMAN: Is the military medical system ready to deal with the psychological toll of the war in Iraq? On Tuesday six senators wrote to defense secretary Robert Gates on their investigation of mental health care at Ft. Carson, Colorado, an investigation prompted by reports that soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder were diagnosed instead with personality disorder and discharged from the military, losing their medical benefits in the process.
A senior director of Veterans for America was in those meetings. And for the latest on all of this I'm joined now by Bobby Muller, chairman of the board of Veterans for American and a wounded veteran of the Vietnam War.
Is this true? Is this what they found? That in fact, veterans were being pushed out under false pretenses, effectively?
BOBBY MULLER, VETERANS FOR AMERICAN: Absolutely. We had nine congressional offices present. We had Senate, seven offices there, and what was supposed to be a two-hour presentation by the soldiers ran into over seven hours of testimony. Soldier after soldier giving stories that were shocking to the members of the Congress that came. It was routine to find out that people who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress were only receiving one counseling session a month, and that they would come back, next month, and have a different person, to go through the counseling session, which essentially was no treatment.
To answer the question that you started off with, can the Department of Defense provide care to the troops today? The Department of Defense's own answer to that question is, no. You just recently had a mental health task force that is run by the Department of Defense that said, this is an urgent warning that we do not have the capacity now. We certainly don't expect to have the capacity in the future to deal with the mental health needs of today's troops, and one of the sad things that came out of this report was that they documented the fact that the extension of deployments for our troop, the fact that you are multiply deploying the troops, the fact you are lessening the amount of time between deployments are all compounding the recognized injury to those who have served and served so valiantly. It's really terrible.
FOREMAN: Let's talk about the scope of what we're talking about here. One of the issues is the nature of this conflict in that there is no back line, there is no place where people really feel safe at any time. And listen to what Jamie McIntyre said about the sheer number of people suffering in this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly half of all National Guard troops, close to 40 percent of active duty soldiers and almost a third of Marines report psychological problems. A key finding -- Marines suffer less, because their tours are shorter. Seven months compared to a year or more for Army troops. (END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Is this really the issue in part that they're in an environment that even compared to other wars has them around the clock constantly feeling like the next bomb is going to go off here, the next car bomb is going to ride into camp. Is that part of this?
MULLER: Tom, listen to what he just said. Half -- half -- of the currently serving Reserve and Guard troops have mental health problems. Half. Over a-third of the Army. One of the things that we came to learn throughout the whole experience with post-traumatic stress from the Vietnam generation is that there is oftentimes as delayed onset.
Today's troops are already at the level that the Vietnam veterans, with the allowance of time, for delayed onset of post- traumatic stress realized.
FOREMAN: I wanted to ask you about that. How does this manifest itself throughout a lifetime? Are there people who get better, who get over it, or are there people who don't have it and get it and get 15, 20 years later? What?
MULLER: Look at Senator Max Cleland. OK? Max was a triple amputee from Vietnam, United States senator from Georgia, and just a couple years ago he wound up going to Walter Reed for post-traumatic stress. I've gone my entire life, I've coped with this, but the fact that we're involved in a war brought back memories of the Vietnam experience for him, and here's a guy who was completely successful, one of the nation's leaders, and wound up in the hospital because of post-traumatic stress.
The National Academy of Sciences just released a report a couple weeks ago that said we're seeing a remarkable number of Vietnam veterans that are coming back, recognizing that PTSD can be latent for many years and when we talk about delayed onset you can wind up going until you're 50, 60 years old. And certain triggers like the loss of your spouse, just the aging process or revisiting a war like we are today in the Middle East serves as trigger to bring it back.
A lot of people can find coping mechanisms to deal with those traumatic stresses. Usually if they get intervention and treatment early. But again, it's not what I'm saying, it's what the Department of Defense's own mental health task force has said.
We do not have the capacity and the numbers of clinicians and the clinicians today oftentimes they lack the training to deal with post- traumatic stress and the other signature injury out of this war which is traumatic brain injuries.
FOREMAN: This is a big issue. I hope this serves as something of a wake-up call.
We want to leave you with a little statistic that's interesting. Causes of trauma for troops in Iraq, 86 percent knew someone injured or killed. Sixty-eight percent saw fellow troops injured or killed and 51 percent report handling human remains.
Certainly cause for a lot of difficult thoughts over a long time. Bobby, thanks for joining us.
MULLER: My pleasure. Thank you.
FOREMAN: Ahead on THIS WEEK AT WAR, the story of a boy who always wanted to fly, and grew up to be a proud Marine who fought to save lives.
But first, on this Memorial Day weekend, turn your frequent flier miles into hero miles. You really can do this. It's not hard. Go to fisherhouse.org and donate your frequent flier miles and Fisher House will use those miles to transport service men and women wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families to treatment centers all around the country. A terrific cause. A good thing to consider. Please do it.
THIS WEEK AT WAR will be right back.
FOREMAN: His friends say that Jared Landaker always wanted to do two things. Fly helicopters and help people. He got his chance to do both. His story as told by his parents Joe and Laura Landaker.
JOE LANDAKER, FATHER: Jared was born in our home, home delivery and I delivered him. He was always small.
LAURA LANDAKER, MOTHER: He didn't let small size stop him. He just always looked tat as a challenge, but 9/11 did something to him, from then on, he did whatever he had to do to get into an air contract.
J. LANDAKER: When he opted for helicopters over other aircraft, his opinion was, I'll take Marines then and I want to take Marines out. August 18th of 2006 he deployed to Iraq.
He was nominated for the Weapons and Tactical School in Yuma, which is equivalent to what we all know of as Top Gun. Jared as we found out later on was on his final scheduled flight -- when he got shot down.
He was to be home the following week.
L. LANDAKER: It makes me proud that he wanted to bring other Marines home so that their families aren't going through what we're going through.
FOREMAN: Marine First Lieutenant Jared Landaker, his CH-46 helicopter was shot down in al Anbar province on February 7th. He was 25 years old. In a moment, Memorial Day in the words of one of America's greatest poets. But first on this weekend we remember all we have lost in battles over the centuries, a last look at some of those who fell THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: As we pause to remember our fellow citizens who have given their lives in service to our country, it is interesting to note that Memorial Day was first officially commemorated by our federal government in 1868 in the wake of the Civil War, not far from where I stand right now at Arlington National Cemetery.
Ten years later a young man was born would write one of the greatest memorials to lives lost in war. Carl Sandburg noted not t he great marble markers but the simple peace that one day comes to every battlefield.
(voice-over): "Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo. Shovel them under and let me work. I am the grass. I cover all. And pile them high at Gettysburg and pile them high at Ypres and Verdun, shovel them under and let me work. Two years, 10 years, and passengers ask the conductor, what place is this? Where are we now? I am the grass. Let me work."
(on camera): Our thoughts are with all of you out there who have lost neighbors, friends, family in military service. We hope you have a peaceful weekend of fond memories. Thank you for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR.
I'm Tom Foreman. Straight ahead a check of the headlines and then CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT "Combat Hospital" and 10:30, "Chopper Down."
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