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THIS WEEK AT WAR
Week's War-Related Activities Reviewed
Aired July 14, 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: The president reports some progress in Iraq, but is it enough to win the war on the streets of Baghdad and perhaps, more importantly, in the halls of Congress? And another report says al Qaeda is as strong as ever after five years of war. How can this be? THIS WEEK AT WAR begins right after a look at what's in the news right now.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rick Sanchez. Let's try and bring you up to date now on what's taking place in the news right now. The U.S. State Department is awaiting confirmation of North Korea's assertion that it has shut down a nuclear reactor. The UN's atomic energy agency has a team of engineers in place to try and validate the North Korean claim. It would be a big one, they say.
Japan prepares for another lashing from typhoon Man-Yi. The storm hit Okinawa yesterday killing an 11-year old boy. Today thousands are fleeing to escape the 100 mile an hour winds. It's expected to be in Tokyo tomorrow before it finally goes out to sea.
It might be a hopeful sign for peace efforts in Sudan's troubled Darfur region. Five rebel groups say that they're going to unite before possible peace talks take place. Observers are saying the large number of rebel factions has been an obstacle so far to any peace plans in the past.
And Russia is pulling out of an arms treaty with NATO. The conventional forces agreement signed in 1990. It sets limits on the numbers of tanks and other heavy weapons. Analysts say the long, threatened move is more symbolic than military and reflects Russian resentment of America's global influence. I'm Rick Sanchez. Let's take you back to Tom Foreman and THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: I'm Tom Foreman and here is where we are going in THIS WEEK AT WAR. Terrorism analyst Peter Bergen looks at Pakistan where a shaky situation is getting worse for this key American ally as commandos battle religious radicals right in the center of the capital. We'll go to CNN's Michael Ware in Baghdad and look at the deteriorating state of politics there. What, if anything, are Iraqi leaders doing to bring peace?
Kelli Arena is in Washington where officials say the terror threat is worse this summer right here at home and some are wondering if eyes in the sky will help or just turn all of us into suspects. On Capitol Hill, Dana Bash looks at the war of words over Iraq. We see this as a mixed situation with many in Congress at the tipping point over support of the president's policies. But first, the battle for Baghdad. Retired General "Spider" Marks gives us the command view where progress is being made on the battlefield even as time may be running out. THIS WEEK AT WAR.
There are benchmarks and there are strategies, but in the end, it all comes down to boots on the ground. And here to give us a reality check on the battle for Baghdad is Retired Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, one of CNN's crack team of military analysts. Spider, let's look right now at the key goals of the surge, protect, seek and destroy insurgents, hunt al Qaeda and reconstruction. First one, protect. Look at the map and tell me what that means.
BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET): Let me tell you what that really comes down to. These are the units that are right now doing the heavy lifting in Iraq. This is where the young men and women are. The British are down in the south, as we know, the 3rd infantry division is here south of Baghdad. The Marines are out in al Anbar. We've got the 1st cavalry division that's in Baghdad north and then you got the 25th infantry in the north.
FOREMAN: Let's zoom in on the ground and tell me what they're doing.
MARKS: Exactly. Let me show you what you that means on the ground to the individual soldier, the private and the sergeant. We're taking you straight into Baghdad and what you see here, Tom, is a joint security patrol that is taking place on the east side of the Tigris and these identified locations is where the Iraqi forces and the U.S. forces man checkpoints routinely. That allows for families to move with some degree of security in those areas.
FOREMAN: Let's look at seeking and destroying insurgents, the second point here. What does that mean?
MARKS: That is operation phantom thunder which is taking place, really started about three weeks ago, in the vicinity of Baghdad. But, more importantly, what happened is 3rd infantry division forces came to the south and went into areas where U.S. and coalition forces have not been for some time --
FOREMAN: Places like Sadr City right in here where there's been a lot of pressure against.
MARKS: Absolutely, increased pressure by U.S. and coalition forces in places that had been ceded to the bad guys for quite some time.
FOREMAN: Hunting al Qaeda, the next point. What's the next point?
MARKS: That specifically gets into covert operations, a lot of special ops, operations that take place. That's what's called man hunting. That's going after very point, very specific targets throughout all of Iraq. Good intelligence drives a very precise operation done by the special ops to go grab somebody.
FOREMAN: When you talk about special ops, it's small teams. But this also benefits from the surge of troops. MARKS: Oh, absolutely. It allows these teams to move with some degree of alacrity and security in and out of areas where they haven't necessarily been before.
FOREMAN: And the last part of the equation, reconstruction. We're years into this. Some people said this should have been going for a long time.
MARKS: Absolutely critical. Any solution in Iraq is not going to be an exclusive military solution. There has to be reconstruction, so there's an increase of 10 provisional reconstruction teams in Iraq that are ongoing right now. The challenge is the provisional reconstruction teams are going to increase their numbers by December of this year, yet the assessment on the surge is in September. We're disconnected here. You can't have a military solution unless you have a political and a reconstruction piece. We might be making a call a bit too soon.
FOREMAN: OK. So now we have a picture of the facts on the ground. Let's broaden the conversation and look at the overall strategy. Joining us Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr at her post and "Time" magazine's Baghdad bureau chief Bobby Ghosh in our New York bureau. Bobby, is this what they set out to do in the beginning of the war or has the mission really changed?
BOBBY GHOSH, TIME MAG. BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Well, the mission has had to change because the ground realities in Iraq change all the time. The military beasts off the surge has had some successes particularly in Baghdad, not quite so much in other parts of the country. The main concern right now in Washington and in Iraq is that the political beasts of the surge, in that area there's been very little and in most case no, sir progress at all.
FOREMAN: Barbara, to what extent do the people in the Pentagon say with that in mind, look, we've done our job for years. You've got to fix the political part or this is all a waste.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly what commanders worry about, Tom. Really the fundamental question underlying all of this is can the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki really succeed? Is he strong enough? Is his government strong enough? That is the route to progress. That's the route to political progress and that's the route home for U.S. troops. Unless al Maliki can pull it together and the government can pull it together, U.S. troops aren't coming home anytime soon.
FOREMAN: We're going to have a lot more on that later in the show. Bobby, let me return to you with that thought. Is there any sense that the military part of this really is working?
GHOSH: Well, it works wherever large numbers of American soldiers turn up. That neighborhood immediately there is a cessation of violence from the other side. It works to that limited extent. Unfortunately, most of the bad guys know when the Americans are coming so that they can escape. Most of the locals know that the Americans will not stay forever. They know that the bad guys will come back. And so they are reluctant to cooperate with the Americans, so there is a sense among Iraqis that all of this -- all of the military aspects of the surge are only a temporary respite from the cycle of violence and that as soon as the Americans withdraw or draw down their forces, the violence will go back to the levels we saw last year.
FOREMAN: Listen to what Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois said about it. I want your reaction, Bobby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D) ILLINOIS: The president says we need to be patient, and we need to wait. Every day that we wait, every week that goes by, another month, means more American soldiers who will be killed and injured in this war that has gone downhill for so long. It is time for us to start bringing these troops home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: In mind of everything you said, Bobby, is that a fair assessment or is that an overly bleak assessment?
GHOSH: I think the assessment is fair. The conclusion I think that is not the only conclusion to be drawn here. Yes, the military aspect and the political aspect overall has been in decline, but the solution is not necessarily just to cut and run, to withdraw all of the soldiers. I think there is a solution in between those two extremes and we're seeing a little of that under General Petraeus. The military is attempting new tactics, new strategies and I think we need to see more of that and we need to give General Petraeus more time to work those angles while keeping political pressure on Prime Minister al Maliki to ensure that he delivers on his side of the bargain.
FOREMAN: Spider, how frustrated are the military people over just this notion? They were told by both Democrats and Republicans we'll try this surge. You'll have until September, then we'll measure it, and now on both sides of the aisle, people are saying, well, maybe we should just decide now.
MARKS: Tom, I think the soldier on the ground really doesn't listen too much to what's taking place in Washington, DC. He or she takes orders from those above them. So, frankly, what's taking place is a real advancement in terms of the numbers, the expansion of the missions and the potential for success. The ingredient is time. It's got to be provided so that they can do their job.
FOREMAN: The soldier on the ground may not get that. but the commander above him certainly hears that noise.
MARKS: Oh, sure. Absolutely.
FOREMAN: Does this change the way they fight that battle or undermine what they can do?
MARKS: Tom, it doesn't. The thing is you really have to keep in mind what that upper crust of leadership gets paid to do is to filter from the soldier and those subordinate leaders that cacophonous noise that takes place all the time in DC. That commander has got to make sure that the guys on the ground have what they need and can do the job. One of those key ingredients is time.
FOREMAN: Barbara, let's go to the Pentagon people there because they hear the cacophonous noise of Washington all the time. What are they making of it right now? What are they saying in the hallways?
STARR: Well, I think top commanders here in the Pentagon, the top generals of the leadership, are very aware of this. Spider is right. Of course the real focus is on the mission, getting the troops the equipment and everything that they need to do their jobs. But make no mistake, the U.S. military works at the orders of the political civilian side of this government. They see the pressure that President Bush is under and they are very much waiting to see if there is a new policy direction. What we learned this week, Tom, is already behind closed doors here in the Pentagon they are planning for the post-surge strategy, how to reduce troops, how to bring them home, how to change the mission there to get the troops out of the deadly day- to-day combat.
FOREMAN: They do have some support. Listen to Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina briefly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: We have made mistakes, but the worst mistake is yet to come. The worst mistake would be to change strategy and at a time when it is beginning to show dividends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Bobby, I come back to you this one more time on this. Time and again I think the problem for people here is to say are we making progress or not? We have leaders on both sides saying it's hopeless. Others saying you've got to hang on. On the ground there every day, what do you think?
GHOSH: The American military is making progress. It's limited progress. It is not even across the country, but it is under General Petraeus making progress. Where there has been no progress is on the political side and America's ability to influence political progress in Iraq has actually waned which is ironic because despite having more soldiers in the line of fire in Iraq, President Bush actually has less control over the political events taking place in Baghdad. And if there's no progress there, then all of the hard work that the soldiers are putting, all the sacrifices that they're making will be in vain.
FOREMAN: Barbara you mentioned very briefly at the end here the notion that they're planning for the post-surge time. Briefly what are they planning for -- withdrawal or a new stage of operations?
STARR: A new stage of operations, Tom, refocusing the mission on fighting al Qaeda, on border security and more training of Iraqi forces but that's going to be very tough because Iraq is a country with many threats you really can't pick and choose. FOREMAN: All right, Barbara, Spider, Bobby, thank you all so much in sorting out this difficult situation. Coming up later this hour, almost six years after 9/11, a new report says al Qaeda is as strong as ever. Are we in increased danger this summer or not? And straight ahead, the war of words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D) DELAWARE: We continue to send our kids in the middle of a meat grinder.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D) CONNECTICUT: The enemy is on the run in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: The rhetoric is hot but is there any real chance for change coming from Capitol Hill on this tough, tough issue? THIS WEEK AT WAR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The surge is not working. No matter how many different ways you explain it, it hasn't worked. Six months, 600 dead Americans, $60 billion.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) ARIZONA: We as elected leaders have a duty to our people and the security of their nation, cannot let fatigue dictate our policies.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Troop levels will be decided by our commanders on the ground but not by political figures in Washington, DC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: There it is in Washington this week, the battle over who would control policy in Iraq in full swing. As you just saw, many minds are already set. But Congress still stands behind the president for now. Attempts to change strategy were foiled by a slim margin in the Senate so the battle is for those few whose support is beginning to waver. Are we approaching a tipping point and Congress will swing against the White House. For answers we turn to congressional correspondent Dana Bash on Capitol Hill and here with me is Jim Vandehei, the executive editor of politico.com. Dana, Democrats want to think the tipping point is right here, Republicans not so much. Who is right?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Republicans when it comes to what really matters right now which is votes, and that's right now. We're talking in July. Democrats are trying so hard, Tom, to try to really seize and capitalize. What we've heard, which is legitimate growing Republican opposition and every day here you talk to senators in the hall, Republican senators. You hear it more and more, but the bottom line is at the end of the week, we really saw what we predicted probably when we were coming into this week, which is that the votes simply are not there for what the Democrats are demanding which is a hard and fast deadline for troops to come out by spring of next year. They just don't have the Republican votes to do it.
FOREMAN: Let's look at why that can't quite be accomplished. It really does come down to the U.S. Senate. Yes, the Democrats have a one-vote majority technically there if they can get everyone together, however, to support their plan, they still would not be able to force a change. Why? Because they need 60 votes to make this happen and so far only three Republicans have indicated they will really go over to the Democratic side on this. Jim, what would the Democrats need to do to get more Republicans in their camp?
JIM VANDEHEI, POLITICO.COM: I think they need time. It's got to be frustrating for viewers because they keep hearing about this tipping point or all this hyperventilating in Washington that now there's enough Republican support with Democrats to force Bush's hands. The truth is there's not. There's still a lot of Republicans, even those that are wavering that don't want to affix a firm time line and they don't want to cut off funding for the troops and as long as they keep that position, Bush has a ton of flexibility in dictating war policy so we're still several votes away from even being able to bring up the legislation and have a vote. And the truth is Bush would most likely veto anything not to his liking and it requires two-thirds vote to override it, so you would have to get seven more Republicans onboard. So at least through September I think Bush has a pretty free hand to dictate the policy and implement it the way he wants to.
FOREMAN: You talk about the president's ability to dictate war policy. He spoke about that a little bit this week, the role of Congress. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Congress has got all the right to appropriate money but the idea of telling our military how to conduct operations, for example or how to, you know, deal with troop strength is I don't think it makes sense. I don't think it makes sense today nor do I think it's a good precedent for the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Considering how much pressure, Jim, that the president is under in the polls these days, are those fighting words or are those words that he can really bank?
VANDEHEI: They're words that are real and the truth is, the only thing Congress can do is cut off funding if they really want to force the president's hand and a lot of Democrats aren't even ready to do that and you look at Harry Reid, for instance. He's been a fiery anti- war critic of late but not long ago, he was pretty supportive of the operation. It took him a while to get to this point so when you look at Republicans like a Senator Lugar from Indiana, yes, he says he's critical of the current policy and would like to see changes, but until he says, listen, I'm going to vote for a firm date when we have to get out of Iraq or to cut off those fundings, it just doesn't matter effectively. And the president knows that. That's why the president stepped up his rhetoric because he earlier in the last week he thought that, in fact, he might lose too many Republicans, but then he realized he's got enough flexibility to continue doing what he wants to do until he gets that September report.
FOREMAN: Dana, it seems like one essential mistake people might make here is thinking that because some Republicans are not happy with the president's plan that they will necessarily join the Democrats.
BASH: That's exactly right and they're not. You talk to Republicans here and they're making it very clear, even as Jim said, Senator Richard Lugar, Senator George Voinovich, Senator Pete Domenici, through the high profile Republicans that have come out recently and said time to change course. They're very clear about the fact that they still don't want to do what the Democrats want to do and what is really interesting, Tom, at the end of this week, of this first week that Congress is back since these defections have become public, this week where this report came out, came to Congress. At the end of the day, the White House essentially did a pretty effective job of lobbying these Republicans and they were very aggressive about lobbying these Republicans and what they lobbied for was, look, hold on. Give us more time. Let this work. We promise we're going to start thinking about post-September but give us time until September and in talking to Republicans at the end of the week, even those who are very, very vocal about their concerns, they seem to be saying, OK, we'll give you more time.
FOREMAN: So, Dana, if they don't want to go with the Democrats, what do they want from the White House to stay with the president?
BASH: Well, that is really -- there's no consensus on that and that is part of the problem with trying to find the votes in order to try to really --
FOREMAN: You're saying there's no consensus among Republicans about what they want?
BASH: There's no consensus among Republicans about what they want. That's exactly right. There is a group, probably the biggest bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats that has about six Republicans, Tom, that want the president to adopt the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. The president has said point blank he doesn't want to do that. And what's really interesting, a dynamic we can't forget here, Tom, is that Democrats don't want to do that because as much pressure as the president's getting from Republicans, Democrats are getting pressure still from their left flank and they don't want to give in on anything that's sort of middle of the road as the Senate majority leader said many times this week that doesn't have enough teeth. So the Democrats might not give Republicans that kind of vote on that. So that's why at the end of the day we really might not have anything that has consensus among Republicans or even with Democrats.
FOREMAN: It's been a long, hot summer. Dana, Jim, thank you for being here. We appreciate it. Two of the reporters asking politicians the tough questions, and if you want to ask the tough questions yourself, now is your chance. This month CNN and youtube will host the first live interactive presidential debates. Submit your videotaped questions at cnn.com/youtube debates.
Straight ahead the inside story on President Musharraf of Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in an increasingly precarious situation.
But first, we have a THIS WEEK AT WAR remembrance as we always do. Private First Class Jason Dore was killed this past weekend when a truck filled with explosives detonated near his unit just outside of Baghdad. He was a member of the second battalion, 5th cavalry regiment, 1st brigade combat team, out of Fort Hood, Texas. A native of Maine, he joined the army in 2005. His fiancee, Sophie, describes what the military meant to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOPHIE BELANGER, FIANCEE: It was just about the service. There's something bigger than himself, something bigger than anything he could even -- he would ever see in his lifetime and his brothers meant so much over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Dore's mother said that earlier this month, her son re-enlisted in the army for another three years. He was 25 years old.
FOREMAN: The crisis at the red mosque had been building for months. Radical Islamic students had spread out from there in a vigilante campaign to impose Sharea (ph) or Islamic law on the cabinet. The secular government of President Pervez Musharraf finally struck back and blockaded the mosque where students were joined by hardened fighters. When negotiations broke down, the army moved in. ITN's John Ray described the aftermath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN RAY, ITN CORRESPONDENT: This is the first glimpse inside the red mosque itself and as you can see all around us, the floor is scorched, the ceiling as well, and there are the bullet holes, the impact of bullets, high-velocity bullets right throughout the complex. The authorities tell us that in the mosque itself around 19 or 20 of the gunmen died. The most bloodshed was in the building next door to here and that is in the girls' school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: In the end, dozens are dead and Musharraf's desperate balance between Islamic radicals and Democratic forces is more fragile than ever before. CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen is a longtime observer of Pakistan and visited the red mosque only weeks ago. Peter, let's take a look at this. As we fly in here and look at where this was happening, the red mosque is right in the backyard of President Musharraf. What did this group think they could accomplish staging such protests and doing such things this close to the seat of power?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you know, their protests were designed to embarrass the government. As you mentioned, they want to impose Sharea, Islamic law. They started arresting people that they termed prostitutes. They started kidnapping policemen. They started closing down video stores, burning music CDs as this was all taking place, it was as if it was taking place a few blocks from the White House. I mean as you said, this particular mosque is - it's a few minutes' drive from the parliament, from the presidential palace, from the supreme court. So it was embarrassing and these guys were taking the law into their own hands. At a certain point, the thing that triggered this I think was in late June the students of Islamic mosque, they arrested six Chinese women they claimed were prostitutes. China happens to be one of Pakistan's closest allies. It was extremely embarrassing.
FOREMAN: Pushes the pressure up. Let's look at Musharraf for a moment, not many people up to speed on this. He is 63 years old. He seized the presidency through a bloodless coup in October of 1999. The biggest challenge he faces Islamists, we've mentioned that, secular Democrats who want more open elections there. The military is a question. He came from it. Not sure how much it will stand behind him and why do we care in this country because of the location. Pakistan is right next to Afghanistan, right next to Iran because the possibility of terror groups operating there which we worry about right now and because they have nuclear power. How do we address those issues and how important is Musharraf to that?
BERGEN: Well, this election is coming up in the fall of 2000 of this year and it's going to be a delicate game. The secular Democrats, you mentioned, they want more open elections. The military may conclude that Musharraf needs to take off his uniform because he's losing popularity. The army will remain the force behind the throne, whatever happens with these elections.
The attack on the red mosque may demonstrate that Musharraf is going to really go after extremism. In a speech he made just recently, he said that the red mosque is the beginning of going after the extremists in Pakistan but then there's a question of not only does -- in Pakistan there's always a question of is it the matter of lack of will that they're not going after these guys or is it the lack of capability or is it both? And of course the tribal regions of Pakistan is an area that has been very difficult to subdue whether it was the British under the British Empire or now the Pakistanis.
FOREMAN: It will be interesting to see what happens. But I wish we had so much more time for this, Peter Bergen. But we'll keep an eye on it, we'll have you back.
Coming up later this hour, according to Thursday's report, the Iraqi government is making some military progress but is it even close to the essential political benchmarks? Can we expect anything from the embattled government of Nouri al-Maliki there?
And straight ahead, if you thought al Qaeda had been destroyed in the war on terror, think again, THIS WEEK AT WAR. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: What's happening right now, bold words today from the Iraqi prime minister. Nouri al-Maliki says that Iraqi police and soldiers are ready to provide security whenever coalition forces withdraw. As for the timing of that withdrawal, al-Maliki says U.S. troops can leave "anytime they want."
The Associated Press reports that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is about to make the largest payout to date in the church's sex abuse scandal. The AP saws that the archdiocese will fork out at least $600 million to hundreds of alleged sex abuse victims. Attorneys are expected to announce the deal Monday.
In Austin today, a formal farewell to the former first lady. This was a private funeral service held for Lady Bird Johnson. She died Wednesday at the age of 94. She's going to be buried tomorrow next to her husband, Lyndon Baines Johnson at the family ranch.
I'm Rick Sanchez. News breaks out, I'll break right in with it. Meanwhile let's take you back to Tom now and THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: If there is anything more frightening than cold, hard facts about al Qaeda, it's probably scary but vague predictions about al Qaeda. We started this week with the secretary of homeland security saying he had a gut feeling that the U.S. could get hit this summer, and then there were the leaks that came out of the draft National Intelligence Estimate, one that al Qaeda was now as strong as it was on 9/11.
And another that they were stepping up attempts to sneak terrorists into the United States. Here to separate the facts from the fears, CNN's justice correspondent Kelli Arena; James Jay Carafano, he is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation; and David Heyman, he's a director of homeland security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Kelli, this comment about a gut feeling grabbed the headlines. Does it tell the whole story?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't. The secretary did say that, but he said a lot more. And part of what he said was that, you know, summer is a particularly vulnerable time. We've seen a lot of al Qaeda attacks during the summer, that al Qaeda has been able to establish a safe haven along the Pakistan and Afghan border, from which to launch attacks.
We've seen a lot of audio messages, video messages from al Qaeda suggesting maybe they're becoming a little more emboldened, a little bit more confident, so lots of trends that he was pointing to. And when he was asked, well, what do you think? He said, well, yes, I do have a gut feeling that something is up, that something could happen. And of course that is what made the headlines.
FOREMAN: All of that said, James, what do you make of this? Should we be more worried or less? JAMES JAY CARAFANO, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, I think the news here is that anybody who thinks this is news, there have been 16 conspiracies broken up in the United States since 9/11, there was a guy turned back at the Canadian border that later blew himself up in Jordan. We know that because we found his hand afterwards.
Al Qaeda has been trying to get at the United States since 9/11. I'm not so sure what the news is here other than the fact that somebody thinks this is news, I mean, you know, the people who deny that we're actually in a war. I mean, they've been trying to come here for five years. What's the news?
FOREMAN: David, is -- we've been trying to fight this for a long time. Now we're being told there has been no progress. Has it all been a waste up to this point or has there been progress but al Qaeda has made progress, too?
DAVID HEYMAN, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC & INTL. STUDIES: Well, the three objectives that the president set out was to deny the terrorists the land, the geography, and safe havens, the financial resources and their leadership. And after 9/11 we went out and we took out the leadership, we killed or captured 80 percent of the leadership of al Qaeda from the 9/11 attacks.
We took out Afghanistan and we took back on their financial resources. The problem, and this is what's going on today, is they've reconstituted themselves. The safe havens have been re-established in the Pakistan border. Iraq has become the biggest training facility for al Qaeda.
The bleed-out going into Europe right now gives Europeans great concern. And we're seeing the ideology spread across the Internet on a huge level. So, you know, if the secretary has a belly ache this week, it's because that kind of analysis is what he's doing in the back of his head.
FOREMAN: Let's look at some of that territory. This is Afghanistan, Pakistan alongside. Waziristan still largely in the hands of insurgent forces, Taliban forces, this is where Osama bin Laden could have been captured. Harry Reid talked about that this week.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: It's really a travesty that Osama bin Laden is still at-large almost six years after 9/11. But it's not surprising that al Qaeda has been able to reorganize and rebuild because the administration has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to fighting terrorism.
FOREMAN: And, Kelli, your point is that this goes far beyond just these regions though. It's in Europe. We've been seeing this everywhere.
ARENA: Oh absolutely. We have seen an explosion in the jihadist movement in Europe. And of course the big concern is that you don't need a visa. There's a visa waiver program for anybody living there to get here. They can assimilate well into our societies and so a great concern I've heard repeatedly is that, look, you know, you don't have to look so far.
FOREMAN: They're getting closer.
ARENA: That's right.
CARAFANO: It's not the visa waiver program. That's totally wrong, because you still have to have a passport. And we screen passports and visas. So make a distinction between a visa waiver country and passport country I think is just wrong-headed.
ARENA: Still easy, though (INAUDIBLE)...
CARAFANO: No, no, not easier because with the data that we're looking for that's in passports and visas, there's not a distinction.
FOREMAN: Well, there has been chatter about not so much just the reaching to find people where they are forming these plots, but also hardening our cities against them. One of the ideas that keeps coming up, particularly since London, is this idea of cameras. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bad guys on candid camera. Baltimore now uses about 500 cameras. In Chicago there are as many as 2,000 and now a plan to mount them in Manhattan. These plans are inspired by London's so-called "ring of steel," first created to combat terrorist acts by the Irish Republican Army.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: That was our Joe Johns reporting there. Let me go to you, David. Will this do much good if we build these rings of cameras to sort of monitor everything we do?
HEYMAN: It probably won't deter a determined terrorist who is bent on killing himself, but it has a great effect in reassuring the public afterwards because we interdict these people, we track them down, we catch them, we let them know we know who they are, we find them if they've escaped like we did in London.
Frankly the Timothy McVeigh was tracked down, his Ryder truck was seen by an ATM machine camera from a hotel and a camera at a fast food restaurant. So you have to look at this in two areas. One is the possible deterrence which we don't really have a lot of data on. The other is tracked down the effectiveness in the interdiction down the road.
FOREMAN: And in the end we seem to find pretty good ways of tracking down these people even when we don't have these cameras.
CARAFANO: Well, that's where the big bang for the buck, and the big bang for the buck is in going and getting the terrorists to begin with. Counterterrorism investigations, surveillance, informants, reading their mail, looking at -- listening to their -- that is -- their phone, that is where the money is, that is how we broke up 16 conspiracies so far.
FOREMAN: But, Kelli, if you had these cameras and you did a better job of tracking everyone who went in and out, couldn't you, in effect, say to terrorist groups, you're going to need a suicide cell because for every guy who comes in, we will more quickly be able to trace it back to everyone associated with them?
ARENA: Facial recognition. And that's true and that has always been the big question is, can you find a community here where you can get a suicide cell. And so far a lot of experts are saying, no, and we just don't have -- we don't have that type of extremism that has taken root in this country. So you will most definitely have to get those people from the outside to come in.
CARAFANO: And it doesn't really (INAUDIBLE) -- at the end of the day, if you have a lot of cameras, you get a lot more hay, and the more hay you put in the stack, a lot harder it is to find a needle. So...
FOREMAN: The notion that it may make us feel comfortable to see them up there, but ultimately they create a lot of data that have to be looked at.
HEYMAN: But that is important for actually after the attack. After the attack you go back.
ARENA: Right. And also if they just go and park a car loaded with explosives and walk away. Well...
HEYMAN: Right. In fact, what the Israelis do is they have the software that allows you to go in and find suspicious activity. Someone is coming to a place they shouldn't go into.
FOREMAN: When you say software, you mean software that tracks, for example, this car that circled the block six, seven times, and it reports that?
HEYMAN: That or you can take the data of going across the screen, the video screen, and you can see, well, there's a box that has been put down there. There's intelligent software behind these video clips that you can look at and say, OK, there is a suspicious package there that has been staying there for some time. It has been left behind.
FOREMAN: But is this a primary thing or does this always have to be secondary to an overall...
CARAFANO: No, it's not intelligence, it's hunting down the terrorists.
FOREMAN: Physically hunting them down.
CARAFANO: Breaking up the cells, finding them, investigating them, turning in informants.
HEYMAN: Infiltrating them.
CARAFANO: Infiltrating them. Reading their e-mail. Using this...
HEYMAN: This is how we took down Ft. Dix. This is how we took down...
ARENA: But what that is, is gathering intelligence. All of that together is getting into the communities and making sure that you have your thumb on what's going on.
FOREMAN: Well, you all have contributed some great information here. We appreciate it. Kelli, James, and David, thanks for being here.
Next up, dire warnings and what could happen if the Iraqi government falls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I can tell you one thing, that after Maliki, there is going to be the hurricane in Iraq.
FOREMAN: But if the government of Nouri al-Maliki isn't getting the job done, does it really matter if it survives? THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, was quoted in The New York Times on Thursday as saying: "If 20 people killed a day is good news, that tells you how bad things were previously." The challenges here at just every level remain just huge. That is the current situation in Iraq. Things are a bit better, but we are far, far from a real solution by every account.
Even with thousands more U.S. troops, are the Iraqi politicians capable of rebuilding their shattered country? That's the question. Michael Ware is in our Baghdad bureau and he joins us right now.
Michael, is there yet any real progress from the politicians there?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on how one defines progress. I mean, if you're using an American frame of reference or, say, the congressional benchmarks, then, no, it's not even an issue. They really don't have their hearts in it, and even if they did, I doubt that they'd actually have the capability to meet many of those things.
The other thing or the other way of looking at it perhaps, is that what is it that the Iraqis want? What are the Iraqi benchmarks? And I can tell you that the Iraqi government right now is very keen on establishing its own sense of sovereignty with regards to the United States. So are they making progress on American benchmarks and American ideas of success? Not so much. Meanwhile, they're fighting for their own concept of success.
FOREMAN: Michael, I want you to listen to something that Kimberly Kagan wrote in The Wall Street Journal, an opinion article this week. She said: "Provincial and local government is growing stronger. Local and tribal leaders in Anbar, Diyala, Salah ad-Din, and North Babil and even Baghdad have agreed to fight insurgents and terrorists as U.S. forces have moved in to secure the population alongside their Iraqi partners."
Now that speaks to a local response, people locally wanting to protect their neighborhoods. But is there yet a national sense among Iraqi politicians that they are a nation?
WARE: Oh, absolutely not. There's not even a real pretense except from the mouth of the prime minister. I mean, it's very clear, you don't have to scratch the surface too hard with any of the major Iraqi political figures or their blocks that they're really not that interested in pursuing the interests of other factions or other sections of the community.
And, indeed, let's have a look at this glorious success with the provinces and local counsels and groups defending their homes. You're talking about one of two things here. Either you're talking about the homogenous control of an area by probably an Iranian-backed militia force that either the Brits in the south or the Americans here in Baghdad or the center of the country either can't or don't want to confront militarily; or we're talking about in the Sunni areas essentially the Baath resistance, and the tribal leaders who are the social fabric of that resistance...
FOREMAN: Michael, I want to go to a map...
WARE: ... cutting a deal with the U.S.
FOREMAN: I want to show people on a map what you're talking about in particular. This area down here we've talked about before, largely the Shia area. This is largely the Sunni area. This is largely the Kurdish area up here. But look at this. These little drops indicate also one of the big issues that has not been resolved at all.
That's where the oil is and most of the oil is not in the Sunni area, does that remain a serious issue because people talk about it here, the idea that the Sunnis, if they agree to peace now without a deal to share the oil, are agreeing to poverty. WARE: (INAUDIBLE), it's not why they're going to make any sort of compact with the central government, a central government they regard as Shia-dominated, Iranian-influenced, and hostile to them anyway without any kind of guarantees about the oil.
And honestly there's no guarantees to begin and there's no real guarantees on offer. The Kurds are claiming 17 percent of the national oil and the government prepared to give them that. The question then is about distribution elsewhere, particularly to the Sunni. And it's to be based on a formula that really hasn't been buttoned down with the details, and certainly won't go to the interests of the Sunni.
FOREMAN: Michael, very quickly...
WARE: So, no. The Sunnis aren't going to buy into this at all.
FOREMAN: One last point quickly here, Michael, is there any sense from Iraqi politicians that they appreciate the fact that American lives are being lost to give them time to sort out their affairs?
WARE: By and large, none. No, beyond lip service, not really. Not at all.
FOREMAN: Thanks so much, Michael Ware, for that assessment. In just a moment, hot spots all around the globe, including a terrifying end to a battle against insurgents allied with al Qaeda. We'll have more on that in a bit.
But first, a look at some of those who fell in THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: Now a look at some of the other hot spots around the globe during THIS WEEK AT WAR. In the Philippines, a nine-hour firefight on Tuesday between the army and a rebel group linked to al Qaeda ended with 14 Filipino marines dead, many reportedly found beheaded in that conflict.
In Lebanon on Thursday, as we fly over the U.S., artillery pounded the refugee camp where Islamic fighters have been facing off against the government. More Lebanese soldiers died this week adding to the hundreds killed in the two-month siege there.
And a delegation from the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency announced in Tehran on Friday that they finally have come to an agreement on inspecting Iranian nuclear facilities. However, the president, Ahmadinejad, said his country would not stop its nuclear program.
So in just a moment the next chapter in the story of the Liberty City Seven, men who allegedly plotted to permanently change the Chicago skyline. Stay tuned, THIS WEEK AT WAR will be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOREMAN: Like most wars, it all began with high hopes and good intentions. The U.S. and its allies were opposing tyranny and bringing democracy to a part of the world where it was almost nonexistent and in many ways it succeeded. But whoever thought it would going on so long, because at this point it has been going on for over 50 years.
You see, technically there is still a state of war on the Korean Peninsula. Only an armistice, a ceasefire really, was signed back in 1953. So on Friday, the North Korean military proposed direct talks with the United States military in the truce village of Panmunjom. It could be the first step to a final peace treaty. Over 33,000 U.S. troops died in combat in the Korean War and almost 3 million Koreans and Chinese perished, mostly civilians.
It's very unlikely that the struggle in Iraq, of course, will last this long or cost that much. But the soldiers who still stand guard at Panmunjom bear witness to the fact that war is sometimes something that is much easier to begin than it is to end.
Turning now to some of the stories that we'll be following in the next WEEK AT WAR. On Monday, a hearing is scheduled for the Liberty City Seven, a group of Florida men accused of swearing allegiance to al Qaeda and plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago.
Speaking of North Korea, on Wednesday, six party nuclear disarmament talks are scheduled in Beijing, the U.N.'s chief nuclear negotiator says he expects the shut down of the Yongbyon reactor to begin early in the week.
And on Thursday, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will attend a meeting in Lisbon of the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators, marking the beginning of his new role as a Middle East envoy.
Thanks so much for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR. I'm Tom Foreman. Straight ahead, "CNN'S SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Criminally Insane."
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