Return to Transcripts main page
THIS WEEK AT WAR
The Week's Events in Iraq and Afghanistan; Myanmar Crackdown
Aired September 30, 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 CORRESPONDENT: New York City was furious when Iran's president came to town. But did all that venom make him a winner in the eyes of the Muslim world? And courageous protestors defy a military dictatorship. Who is backing the brutal rulers of Myanmar? THIS WEEK AT WAR after a look at what's happening in the news right now.
FOREMAN: In THIS WEEK AT WAR, it's looking bad in Iraq as assassins strike the leaders of the Sunni awakening. For military snipers, the future is unclear. Were they charged for murder for just doing their jobs?
An up arrow for Myanmar as protestors there fight for freedom. It's a net loss for U.S. image abroad as Iran's president stands tall in New York City.
And protecting electrical supplies from hackers. A positive step in the war on terror.
OK. That's where we stand. This is where we are going for answers. Alessio Vinci is covering the bombing campaign against Iraqi sheikhs alive with the coalition. Will murder wipe out the only real progress in this war? We'll talk to military justice expert Eugene Fidell about whether snipers can kill in cold blood and still stay within the law. John Vause is in Bangkok. We'll ask who is supporting the military junta's blooding crackdown in Myanmar. Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve has an exclusive story on dangers on the nation's power supplies upon. Are we staying ahead of the hackers. And in New York, State Department correspondent Zain Verjee has been watching this week's general assembly. We'll get the story on whether the president of Iran is really running things or just playing for the crowds. THIS WEEK AT WAR.
Thousands in the streets protesting against the military government, suddenly the army begins to fire into the crowds. In the end, an estimated 3,000 were dead and the military hunter remained in power. That was September 1988, 19 years ago this month. Are we about to see this type of slaughter again in this nation now called Myanmar?
CNN international correspondent John Vause is standing by in Bangkok and with me in Washington is Michael Green, a fellow for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
John, let me start with you. It's very hard for journalists to get into the country right now. But in simple terms as best you know, what are these protests about?
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially you've got a bunch of generals who've been running this place like the right star for the best part of four decades and you now have an uprising of citizens led by the religious clergy, the Buddhist monks who want democracy. They want these guys to give them freedom and the basic simple things in life. They don't want 500 percent increases in gasoline prices. They want to be able to make a telephone call outside their country. They want democracy.
FOREMAN: Let's get a sense of where this is as we turn to the map here. This is Myanmar, India is over here, China up here, Laos, Thailand. As we move into the area where many of these protests are happening right now in Yangon. You may not recognize this as Myanmar from your training as a young person, but it was Burma back then.
But this is where all of this is happening right now, Michael. And in this area, truly these people have been under the thumb of a military rule for a very long time.
MICHAEL GREEN, CTR FOR STRATEGIC & INTL STUDIES: For decades, the junta ignored a Democratic election. They used to call themselves the slorc (ph). They changed their acronym to the SNDJ to be a little more palatable, but their behavior has been anything but.
And in recent years, their leader has been truly bizarre. He moved the capital into the mountains. There's been massive inflation and on August 15th, he doubled the price of fuel, which is what really triggered these protests.
FOREMAN: Let's take a look at the history of this country just a little bit, to have a point of reference. In 1947, Burma gained independence from Britain. In 1962, a general formed a socialist state there after a military coup, stayed in power in 1988 when he was finally driven out by protests. But in 1990, even though they had elections and the opposition won, the military stayed in power and they've been there ever since.
John, this has been a very isolated country and yet a country that draws a lot of interest from China and from India -- why?
VAUSE: Well, they have a lot of natural resources. They have vast reserves of natural gas. They have vast reserves of timber. They're very strategically placed. China especially, what the Chinese want in Myanmar is a stable regime and that's what the military dictatorship gives them.
The United States can impose sanctions all they want, but while the military dictatorship inside Myanmar is getting hard currency from countries like China and countries like Thailand and India, they will continue to not just survive, but thrive as well.
FOREMAN: Is there any reason then, Michael, why we in the United States should actually care about this? Humanitarian reasons, of course, but why don't we just say that's China's issue? That's India's issue, that's Myanmar's issue, it's not ours. GREEN: Well, it's a nation of 50 million people. That's a lot of people to begin with.
Secondly, Myanmar's problems are becoming the world's problems. The oppression and mismanagement is causing thousands and thousands to cross the borders into India, Thailand and China, trafficking and persons, HIV/AIDS, drug trafficking and now this regime is beginning to flirt with North Korea on arms and other dangerous materials.
So it's not a regime that is quietly surpassing its own people which is bad enough. It's creating problems for the neighborhood which is why you might start to see a different attitude by some of the neighbors this time because stability, China wanted, India wanted, but now the regime is going so far, they're risking real instability internally and in the region.
FOREMAN: So Michael, is this one of those nations that we've talked about that becomes a hotbed for international problems because of the trade in people and ideas and ideologies.
GREEN: It does, and in an ironic way the fact that Burma has so many problems is a strength. They get India and China and Thailand to give them aid, to help control these problems. The government, the junta has used these problems as a commodity to get more aid from their neighbors.
It's different than 10 years ago or 19 years ago in 1988, I think the tolerance among the neighborhood is probably going down significantly. You have a more democratic southeast Asia with Indonesia now a democracy. China is hosting the Olympics. The eyes of the world are on them. They're under enormous pressure and India itself is a democracy and an increasingly close friend of the United States.
So what's happening there is embarrassing for these countries that have been the patrons for this military junta.
FOREMAN: Let's get a sense of what we're talking about here and take a look at a report by Dan Rivers about the wedding of a daughter of one of the big leaders in this country right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The largeness of the wedding is staggering. Than Shwe's daughter is adorned with hundreds of diamonds and afterwards, receives incredible gifts of jewelry, lavish luxury in a country which according to the U.N. spends less per person on health care than any other nation on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: So this, John, is how the leaders there are living. What are the average people in this country -- what is their state of living at this point?
VAUSE: Well, it's absolutely appalling. They're living in abject poverty. If you look at cell phone use, for example, one or 2 percent of the country have a cell phone. In this day and age they're very rare in Myanmar. People don't have enough to eat. What we've seen with these protests, one of the reasons was with the monks who would ordinarily a year or so ago go from house to house to collect food. What would take four or five houses to get enough to eat was now taking 25 or 30 houses. So the monks are hungry, the people are hungry, they're living in appalling impoverished conditions.
FOREMAN: Michael, in the end here and to wrap it up quickly, will international pressure mean anything here, though? You're talking about one group with so much. Another group with so little, you can see why neither side wants to give. Both say they must fight now.
GREEN: This regime is like the crazy drunk at the end of street. And until the neighborhood gets together to deal with it, they're not going to change. Until now, we've had two approaches. We sanctioned them, China and India and southeast Asia have given them aid. What's happened in Myanmar is so shocking that we have the first chance in a while to really build an international concensus and begin pressing them to change. For 50 million people in Burma, that's the future we should want.
FOREMAN: Thanks so much for your time, Michael and to you, John, as well.
Remember damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Well quick, who said that?
Think about that and we'll tell you in just a few moments. And straight ahead, we'll discuss who won that war of words when Iran's president took on the Big Apple. But first, as we always do, let's take time for a THIS WEEK AT WAR remembrance.
Army sergeant John Mele of Glenville, Georgia was killed earlier this month when an IED detonated near his unit in Arab Jabour, Iraq. In May, John said good-bye to his family for his third tour of duty in Iraq. His grandmother says even after all of his time in harm's way, she was stunned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN MELE, GRANDMOTHER: I didn't believe it because he always - he always said how safe he was. Somehow you just don't think it will be your little grandson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: John will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery alongside his grandfather, who served in World War II. John leaves behind a wife and 6-year-old daughter. He was 25-years-old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE BOLLINGER, COLUMNIA UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: You are either bravely provocative or astonishingly uneducated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: If Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was insulted by his introduction at Columbia University this week, he sure didn't show it. As a matter of fact, although he spent the week being vilified and demonized, he kept right on smiling. So did Iran's president end up improving his image in the Muslim world and did he strengthen his power base at home? Our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee has spent the week in New York observing opening week at the United Nations. A former "New York Times" editor and three-time visitor to Iran Laura Secor also joins us from New York.
Zain, let me start off with you. Did Ahmadinejad come out good or bad with this with his folks back home?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, what Ahmadinejad was trying to do here really was to position himself by blasting the U.S. as the key-anti-U.S. player. And by doing that, he basically boosts his stock. I mean, this is someone who is capitalizing on the anti-U.S. sentiment both in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as in many developing countries around the world and like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who does the same thing, it works for him. So many would say that it played out in his favor in other parts of the world. And the more that we take whacks at him for however we see him here, the greater his stature becomes elsewhere.
FOREMAN: So Laura, was he even talking to us, or was this always aimed at the crowd back home?
LAURA SECOR, FORMER NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR: I think it is aimed at the crowd back home. I think that when he comes here, and an enormous amount of fuss is kicked up over his remarks about foreign policy and about Israel and so forth.
He's speaking to an Arab street more even than to an Iranian street. As has been said many times before by other journalists and observers, he's not the person making foreign policy in Iran. Foreign policy is made from the top of the regime, which is supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini and it is not made by the president.
So the more he is elevated as a figure whose remarks on these issues is particularly consequential, the more it plays into his hands and makes him look like a powerful figure to people not within Iran who know better, but outside of Iran in the Arab world.
FOREMAN: Laura, you bring up an interesting point. I want to turn to a graphic here and look at this. Indeed the head of state is the supreme leader. He's the military commander in chief, the religious leader. He's chosen by clerics.
The president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he manages the budget, he does day-to-day government, he's elected. But all the candidates are screened by the religious forces and to complicate it further, the assembly of experts is involved here, chosen by clerics. They appoint the supreme leader and there's a council of guardians, religious and civil judges. They have veto power over the parliament and there is a parliament and it's elected. But those candidates are screened as well.
Zain, who exactly is in charge in Iran if not Ahmadinejad?
VERJEE: Well, the supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini is the one calling the shots. Anything that goes on in Iran has to happen with his approval.
If Ahmadinejad is able to accomplish anything, it's because he has the Ayatollah's blessing. So one of the difficult things for foreign policymakers in the U.S. is that I don't know quite who they're talking to in Iran whether it's the moderate element in Iran, whether it's the conservative element in Iran. And within Iran, there is that tousle and the conflict. So it's hard to know and it's hard to know who the Ayatollah backs because nothing goes on without his approval.
FOREMAN: Listen to one of the comments made Tuesday by President Ahmadinejad about the issue of nuclear development in his country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD AHMADINJEAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): And I officially announce that in our opinion, the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: So, Laura, what are we to make of statements like that? Is that the voice of the supreme leader speaking through him or is this him freelancing?
SECOR: I think we can't count on that being the voice of the supreme leader speaking through him. As your chart showed, this is an extremely complex political structure within which there are factions that are contesting each other. Ahmadinejad represents one faction within that government, that's one ideological faction that's in contest for power.
So, I think we cannot assume that anything that we hear that is not directly coming from the foreign policy establishment represents its views.
FOREMAN: It seems like the Europeans are becoming more concerned about this question of who is actually in charge and what it will mean particularly when we come to the issue of nuclear power. Listen to what French President Sarkozy said on Tuesday about that issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT, FRANCE (through translator): Iran is entitled to nuclear power for civilian purposes, but if we allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, we would incur an unacceptable risk to the stability of the region and the stability of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: So, Zain, what are we to make of this? We have Ahmadinejad running around. We don't know if he really speaks for the government or speaks for a faction within the government. When it comes to this issue of the tension over nuclear development there, does the world yet know where we're headed?
VERJEE: Well, it depends. The United States wants to see a third round of sanctions imposed on Iran because of its nuclear program. You heard Nicholas Sarkozy of France as well as other European leaders saying, look, we've got to get a little tougher here.
The Russians and the Chinese won't wait to wait a little bit. They don't want to hurry forward so what we've seen this week is that nothing is going happen really until November.
They basically agreed on two things, world leaders have. They have said one, we're going to wait until November, until the international atomic energy agency comes out with a report and if there's a positive outcome then OK.
But if there isn't, we're going push ahead with sanctions. They've also said that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana can take one more stab at talking to the Iranians about their nuclear program. So this is a compromise on the part of the U.S. and Europeans. They're saying OK, Russia, OK, China, we'll give them one more chance.
FOREMAN: And Laura very quickly, does Iran care about these sanctions?
SECOR: I think Iran does care about the sanctions. One of the greatest vulnerabilities of the regime is the economy. It has been a problem for the Islamic republic almost since the revolution and it's actually getting worse under Ahmadinejad who ran on a platform of economic change and improvement. So I do think that sanctions are likely to apply serious pressure to an economy that's already under strain.
FOREMAN: We'll keep an eye on them. Thank you so much, Laura and Zain as well.
OK, remember damn the torpedoes? Well, those were the words used by David Farragut when he attacked Mobile Bay in one of the key naval battles of the civil war. Who was he and what was a torpedo? Stick around, we'll explain that.
Straight ahead though, will a rash of attacks in Iraq destroy months of slow, painful progress there? The latest from Baghdad coming right up. But first, our weekly look at the terrible beauty of combat photographs.
In the Baya neighborhood of Baghdad, Hadi Misran (ph) took this picture after a car bomb struck an outdoor market on Thursday. Six civilians were killed and 28 wounded. This photo from the "Mandalay Gazette" is now famous all around the world. Blood-soaked sandals were all that was behind after soldiers fired directly into a protest march in Myanmar's largest city. Rahid Salemey (ph) caught an Iranian woman passing by graffiti pained on the walls of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran. Amazing how much a photograph can capture. So many aspects of the complex U.S.-Iranian relationship.
And finally, an image of stoic grief. A man in Baqubah, Iraq, gently wraps the body of his 3-year-old nephew killed after he was kidnapped from his home village. The photographer is unnamed, probably for his own safety.
FOREMAN: Sheikh Sattar Abu Risha shook hands with President Bush and died only days later. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber struck a reconciliation meeting killing Shiites in Baqubah killing 24. This is only one in the series of bomb attacks across Iraq this week as insurgents, according to "The New York Times," launched an all-out campaign by mark the holy month of Ramadan by killing anyone willing to work with the coalition. Will it break this fragile alliance?
CNN's Alessio Vinci is in our Baghdad bureau to help us out. And Bobby Ghosh, the former Baghdad bureau chief for "Time" magazine joins us from New York.
Let me start with you, Alessio. How successful is this campaign of bombing this year?
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has been pretty successful if you think that they have targeted mainly policemen and high officials within not just Iraqi tribes or the Sunnis.
These are Sunni groups that are attacking Sunni policemen. And usually during the month of Ramadan, we do see an upsurge of violence. Iraqi U.S. commanders are telling us that they do see this kind of increase of attacks and in fact, at the beginning of Ramadan two weeks ago we heard from leaders of al Qaeda groups in Iraq basically calling on a greater number of attacks against these targets.
We have seen quite a number of attacks over the past few weeks and most of them have gone pretty much on target.
FOREMAN: Let's take look at the map and get a sense of what we're talking about in terms of where all these attacks are taking place. As you can see, there are a good number of them spread throughout the country.
Bobby, as we look at this, will this do real damage to the efforts to reconcile Sunni and Shia, or are the sides saying no, this is the work of other insurgence, not the bigger bodies of those groups.
BOBBY GHOSH, TIME MAGAINE: Well those who are involved in the effort already are trying to hold the line in saying that we will not be frightened by these attacks.
What these attacks will do, however is probably fight away others who at some point were thinking about joining this initiative of reconciliation.
I think killing major Sunni sheikhs, those who reached out to Americans for a start and other Shiite leaders is going have that effect. I think you're going see a reluctance on the part of some sheikhs to come in from the cold now.
FOREMAN: For all of our viewers who are not Muslim, we want to go over a little bit about Ramadan. Just so you know, it's the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
It's the month in which the Prophet Mohammad received the first revelations of the Koran and Muslims abstain from food, drink, sex during daylight hours and violence in this war has certainly increased during this time normally.
That said, Alessio, this is a time that could spur people, I guess, in both ways. Some would say in adherence to their faith, they want to step up and defend their faith and others would say, no, to make their country peaceful, they will turn to the peaceful side of their faith. Do you hear people talk about this in relationship to Ramadan?
VINCI: Well, actually, what we do see is an increasing violence during the month of Ramadan, although we must say that U.S. commanders here are telling us that the numbers of casualties over the past two weeks, the first two weeks of Ramadan this year are lower than a year ago and pretty much in line with 2005.
We do know, however is a lot of Islamic militants and the leaders especially are calling for attacks especially during Ramadan because they believe, they say and I quote here that the greatest reward goes on those who fight the enemy of God especially during the month -- during Ramadan.
At the same time, also, it is easier to target civilians during the month of Ramadan because during the daytime, there are not that many people in the streets as opposed to when sunset comes and they break their fast, they meet at markets to buy food for the evening meal or they meet in the courtyard of mosques and then that is where we're seeing the large number of attacks that happen in Baqubah earlier this week.
FOREMAN: Bobby, am I wrong, I seem to be getting an indication from all sides in this conflict, though, that a lot of people have simply grown tired of these endless threats, the endless violence and there may be people on all sides saying enough already with that. We must turn toward another solution. Is that a fair assessment?
GOSH: There is certainly a high degree of -- a high number of people who are tired of the violence. Sadly, many of them have chosen to leave the country, especially from the middle classes of people who you'd expect to work towards reconciliation.
But certainly in the political sphere, you're hearing a lot of that from politicians. From the people in the street, there's a slightly different sound if you listen carefully. They don't want their community to be targeted, but they feel a little more ambiguous about their own militias targeting the other communities.
So if you go to Sadr City in Baghdad and talk to radical Shiites, they're quite OK with Sunnis being killed. They're a little tired of Shiites being killed.
FOREMAN: I want to ask you about that, Alessio, very quickly here. We've been talking about the fact that really the big issue right now is the Shia community overall. Is it moving toward reconciliation and stabilization or moving toward saying they must, by force, seize the entire country and hold it. Any more indications this week than we had last week?
VINCI: Well I think that pretty much the Shia community here feels that while they are the majority here and they are controlled pretty much of the major ministries here, they also see this attention that the United States is paying especially for the Sunni tribes and the Sunni sheikhs and therefore they're trying to basically put their foot down to make sure that they maintain their control as much as they want. I haven't seen over the past few weeks if you want enough of that the shift towards that anymore.
FOREMAN: Bobby, any thoughts on that?
GHOSH: Well, it is significant that when Sheikh Sattar was assassinated, you didn't hear a lot of Shiite leaders except some of the most obvious ones in the political sphere. You did hear a lot of Shiite community leaders coming out and lamenting this assassination and that tells you something.
Among Shiites, even among those who live in the green zone who are in the government, there's a concern that this relationship between the U.S. military and some Sunni sheikhs is first step towards the creation of Sunni warlords who have no respect for the Shiite community, no love for them and who do not really recognize the authority of the central government and who are simply allying themselves for the U.S. to build up their military force so that once the Americans leave, they can then fall upon the Shiites and try to extract revenge. That is a great concern of the Shiite leaders.
FOREMAN: Bobby and Alessio, thanks to you both.
Turning next to U.S. military tactics, is it right when snipers use bait in their battle with insurgents? Stick with us.
FOREMAN: They sit crouched over an M-24 rifle, peering through the telescopic sight for hours and then they may have seconds to decide whether or not to shoot. They are military snipers and this week they're under extreme scrutiny.
Eugene Fidell is in New Haven, Connecticut, president of the National Institute of Military Justice. At his post at the Pentagon, senior military correspondent Jamie McIntyre and in Duluth, retired army major John Plaster, a Vietnam Veteran who has been training snipers since 1983. He's the author of the forthcoming book, "The History of Sniping and Sharpshooting."
Jamie, first of all, what is the issue here? What are we talking about when we look at snipers?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well Tom, the reason this came up is because three army snipers have been facing murder charges. One was just cleared, by the way.
And in the course of those trials it was revealed that the U.S. m military has a technique of putting items out to bait insurgents and then in theory, shooting anyone who picked them up which, on the face of it sounds like it would be a violation of the laws of war.
The Pentagon has denied that they have any sort of policy that allows that kind of indiscriminate shooting, but meanwhile, some of the soldiers involved in the legal cases say yeah, that's exactly what they were told was going on.
FOREMAN: Eugene, why would this be a violation of the laws of war? We're dealing with crafty opponents. Seems like a trick that might work.
EUGENE FIDELL, NATL INSTITUTE OF MILITARY JUSTICE: Well, there's nothing wrong with ruses of war, but this is not a ruse of war. The problem with this particular strategy is that it's indiscriminate. In other words, you could have a person who is merely scavenging for scrap on the battlefield which could be anywhere in Iraq these days and pick something up and suddenly it's as if there's a target on the person's back.
One of the elementary rules of armed conflict is that you have to be discriminating in the exercise of force and that means you have to be careful about who you're shooting. That's the problem.
FOREMAN: Snipers are enormously important to the coalition forces over there. I want you to listen to a brief moment from a documentary which I did called the anvil of God about the battle of Fallujah talking about the value of snipers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. JOEL CHAVERRI, MARINE COMBAT PHOTOGRAPHER: The snipers are an interesting group. They're a little bit of loners and they have to be. They live in a world of solitude because of what they have to do.
LANCE CPL. BLAKE BENSON, USMC: They were a godsend. They helped us out a lot. They were guardian angels in a lot of times. When we were going somewhere, they had the over watch on us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Major, you've trained a great many people in this delicate and deadly and difficult art. What do you train young soldiers or young marines who are going to become snipers to look for? How do they decide what to shoot at?
MAJ. JOHN PLASTER, U.S. ARMY (RET.): They have to consider the same elements present as does any other soldier to make a legitimate shot. Typically though it's just the distance is greater. They may not be personally in danger, but I'd like to comment for just a second on that whole question of sniper baiting.
I don't think the way it's been described -- remember, the only description we have is third hand. I don't think it makes any sense. There's a lot more to it. It's classified so that the enemy might not learn what this tactic entails.
But on its face, it makes no sense tactically to merely draw someone out who picks something up and shoot them. Secondly it has no military effectiveness. I don't think we have the whole story to be making judgments.
FOREMAN: Jamie, from the Pentagon's perspectives, you dealt with an awful lot of classified information there, do you think we know the whole story of what's happening here?
MCINTYRE: Absolutely not and that's a part of the problem. And the Pentagon makes just that point. They say look, if we could tell you everything about how we do this, you can see it's not indiscriminate, doesn't violate the laws.
But we can't tell you because it will give away the story. The problem is of course, it wouldn't be the first time we've heard something said how a policy is supposed to be implemented at the Pentagon and then go out in the field and find out how it's being done a different way.
The other thing is without actually knowing, it's really impossible for somebody independently to make that judgment unless you just take the Pentagon at its word. But they insist that's exactly the case, that it's not indiscriminate.
FOREMAN: Major, how much do you worry about the second guessing of what snipers do? It is already a very difficult, very personal job compared to many things in the military.
PLASTER: It's also very dangerous in Iraq. The insurgents have essentially targeted American snipers specifically because they're very effective in that environment.
In many situations where we cannot allow a tank to use machine guns by the snipers because they are discriminating can't shoot and the more effective they are, the more the enemy has targeted them. They've wiped out complete American sniper teams. We have to be concerned for their safety as well.
FOREMAN: And so Eugene, what would you look for if you're looking at an instance where a sniper has killed someone? What constitutes a legal and reasonable engagement of the enemy for a sniper? FIDELL: Well, the easiest case, of course, is somebody who is bearing arms and I'm not talking about scrap. I'm talking about the real McCoy and bearing them in a way that suggests an immediate willingness to use them. Any combatant is fair game. Aside from one who, for example is out of combat or in the process of surrendering, for example, but other than that.
FOREMAN: Let me interrupt you there for a minute, Eugene, and ask - isn't that very complex in a place like Iraq where you may have all sorts of civilians who might at any given moment say I'm walking across the street ask they may have a weapon. They may say it's for their own safety.
FIDELL: Well, you're absolutely right, but the fact remains that you cannot have things on such a hair trigger that a child, for example, who is literally scavenging for scrap, you know, old brass and that kind of thing might wind up in the sniper's crosshairs.
The problem is discrimination and it's clear that we don't have the full story yet. If there are other cases in the pipeline, those are going to be an opportunity to develop a factual record that will help inform GIs, it will help inform army management, military management and of course, to help inform Congress and the American people.
So there's a lot of factual development that has to happen, but some of that, unfortunately, there may be an effort to develop behind closed doors because of the assertions that some of the information may be classified.
I would hope that as little as possible is classified so that everybody concerned can have a full appreciation of what's actually happened here and I also don't think there should be a rush to judgment either way until we have a much better grip on the facts.
FOREMAN: There's a lot more that we need to know for sure. Thank you so much, Eugene, Jamie and Major, as well. A little trouble with your audio, but thanks for joining us with your comments.
OK back to Admiral Farragut now and what exactly were those torpedoes that he was damning? Well, they're not what you might think. In the Civil War, a torpedo was a mine tethered to the bottom of a gulf or a bay. We'll have some more on this heroic admiral later on that you don't want to miss.
But next, Jeanne Meserve on new dangers to our national power grid. Stick around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is an electric generator. It shudders and shakes, then goes up in smoke. Destroyed just as effectively as if with a smuggled bomb, but all it took was a computer, some patient work and the click of a mouse.
(END VIDE0 CLIP)
FOREMAN: A part of Homeland Security correspondent's Jeanne Meserve's report on cyber terrorism on Wednesday. How vulnerable are we to this kind of attack?
Jeanne joins me now in Washington as does Ned Moran, deputy director at Total Intelligence Solutions. Jeanne, this looked remarkably easy -- was it?
MESERVE: Well, we talked yesterday to someone who tests security of computer systems for a living. He says every time he has red teamed against a controlled system, he's been able to get in.
He also claims that he could execute something like what you just saw, but there are some safeguards around big pieces of equipment like this, obviously, in light of this research they're trying to put in a lot more. And one has to wonder if it's really as easy as this professional hacker told me why we haven't seen it.
FOREMAN: What does it mean to red team something?
MESERVE: That's when you pretend you're an adversary and you're testing the system. You go against it and you use every possible device you can to try and penetrate a system. And he says every time he tries, he gets in.
FOREMAN: Are there a lot of systems like this, Ned, that we should be worried about? We're talking about a power system here. What else?
NED MORAN, TOTAL INTELLIGENCE SOLUTIONS: Well any component of our critical infrastructure, whether that's waste water treatment, a nuclear power plant, oil and gas pipelines are all presumably controlled by the same control systems.
FOREMAN: I want to look at another part of Jeanne's report here about the extension of what would happen in the case of a power outage driven this way. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: The nightmare scenario, at first it would be inconvenient, lights out, businesses shut, no teller machines, no gas pumps. By day three, stores would be out of food, emergency generators out of gas. After 10 days with no hope of power being restored, people want to evacuate, but where to? With what fuel? And with no emergency services, medicine, heating or air conditioning, lives could be lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Ned, we just seem to have so much in our society that's connected to computer communications and control these days. Is that a realistic expectation? MORAN: Well, all these interconnected systems which are ultimately relying upon the Internet for some degree of connectivity do create this excessive vulnerability as some people might tell us.
If one system is able to be penetrated, attacked, exploited and brought down, it could cascade to other systems so power and powers brought down that could cascade to water treatment facilities, so on and so forth.
FOREMAN: So why haven't we seen this sort of thing before? We have talked about cyber terrorists attacks for quite some time, we really haven't seen it in a big way.
MORAN: I think a lot of experts will tell you that those individuals as the hacker that Jeanne talked to with the skill to carry out this type of attack don't necessarily have the interest whereas those individuals, a terrorist group like al Qaeda that may have the interests, don't have the skill to carry out this type of attack.
MESERVE: But there's no doubt they're developing it.
MORAN: Oh, absolutely.
MESERVE: And one of the experts we talked to said they calculated that if a group or nation state had about half a billion dollars in three to five years, they could mount a huge strategic attack against the United States.
FOREMAN: So what can be done about this, Jeanne?
MESERVE: Well, the immediate problem that I reported on this week, they are instituting a fix. They say that a lot of the risk has been taken off the table.
This fix, we're told by sources, involve both changes in software and some changes in hardware. But there are a lot of other things that the experts are talking about, the possibility of disconnecting a lot of these control systems from the Internet as much as possible.
Some of them are very old. They were built for efficiency. They were not built for security. Some of them have no security at all. Others can only take, you know, limited passwords and not complicated ones.
But the industry is also receiving a lot of criticism too, because in the instances where there is security available, many of them haven't even changed the default passwords put on them by the manufacturers and the same systems used here are being used overseas so people over there know how to work them and they know those default passwords.
FOREMAN: Is there any question that's raised in all of this, Ned, about the notion that an awful lot of the software we use now is being written overseas? It seems like it's a lot easier to get a mole in some other country that has no connection, gets paid enough because frankly, we're having it done because it's cheaper labor to say, for a fee, I'll put something in.
MORAN: Certainly that theory is out there. That software being developed overseas could have some type of malicious backdoor placed into it.
But I think the more realistic threat as Jeanne talked to you is the improper configuration or administrators just not taking their due diligence to properly secure these systems.
While these vulnerabilities are wide open, I don't think there's a need to go through that backdoor being developed overseas.
FOREMAN: It seems that there's so many potential backdoors as it is right now.
MORAN: That's correct.
FOREMAN: Thanks so much, Jeanne and Ned as well.
And as we always do at this time, we want to take a brief moment to remember some of those who fell in THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: Now a quick look at other global hot spots in THIS WEEK AT WAR.
In Pakistan, police clash with activists opposed to the re- election of President Pervez Musharraf. Many opposition leaders were arrested and then released when on Friday, the supreme court ruled that Musharraf could run for another term.
In Lebanon, the parliament adjourned without choosing a new president. This after a massive car bomb killed another anti-Syrian politician. They will try again for a vote late next month.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli jets again struck Palestinian militants saying the men were firing rockets into Israel. Last week Israel declared Gaza hostile territory, clearing the way for even tougher moves against the Hamas-controlled area. That's a look at some global hot spots.
Now let's have a dispatch from the home front. Our i-Reporter is Allison Bane (ph) of West Henrietta, New York, seen here welcoming Corporel Thomas Adriano (ph) of the 1st battalion second marine division from a five-month tour in Iraq. Allison and Thomas have been dating for almost two years. Actually, they were high school sweethearts. They kept in touch through e-mails and phone calls. Corporal Andriano (ph) will be heading back to Iraq next spring joining his brother Jeremy, who is in the navy and who will be heading to Iraq in December. We want you to send us your story of the week at war from the home front or the front lines. Go to CNN.com/THISWEEKATWAR and click on the i-Report link.
Next, the rest of the story of David Farragut, the first admiral of the U.S. Navy. Stick around.
FOREMAN: This week, like many of you, I've been watching Ken Burns' documentary on World War II. As you may know there was controversy over this film, complaints that he hadn't included the stories of the half million Hispanic-Americans who served in the war. Burns has since added new material on just that subject.
But it does bring to mind the sacrifices of Latinos in uniform. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they make up 10 percent of our military. But since they tend to serve in front-line units, they suffer 11 percent of the fatalities.
And this is only the latest chapter in a long history which brings us back to admiral David Farragut. The first U.S. admiral ever was the son of an immigrant from Spain who fought for this country in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
In the battle of Mobile Bay, Farragut saw his fleet come to a halt after his ship was sunk by a torpedo mine. His cry of damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead rallied the fleet to victory.
Today this Hispanic-American hero's statue stands in a park just a few blocks from where I'm standing now.
Returning now to some of the stories that we'll be following in the next week at war. On Tuesday, North and South Korean leaders are scheduled to hold a summit. The nuclear issue will be high on the agenda. And Thursday is the deadline for the execution of Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali. He was tried and convicted of using chemical gas on Iraqi Kurds.
Thanks so much for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR. I'm Tom Foreman. Straight ahead, a check of the headlines. Then, "CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Fed Up: America's Killer Diet."
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com