Return to Transcripts main page


This Week's War Events

Aired November 18, 2007 - 13:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN HOST: Thanks, Wolf. U.S. troops have bled and died to bring Iraq a chance for peace, but are Iraqi politicians now just going to throw it all away?
And in Pakistan democracy is taking a beating as the state of emergency drags on. In the end, will U.S. pressure create an enemy where there was once an ally? THIS WEEK AT WAR right after a look at what's happening in the news right now.


FOREMAN: Here is where things stand in THIS WEEK AT WAR.

Democracy in Pakistan is on a knife edge as all sides maneuver for power there.

In Venezuela, a down arrow as Hugo Chavez begins to create a permanent presidency.

More evidence in Iraq that General Petraeus' new strategies are beginning work. It's unclear how the good news from the battlefront will play in the race for the White House.

And why is the U.S. government failing some veterans who need help so badly?

That's how things stand, and here is where we're going to find out what's coming next, Michael Ware is in Baghdad. He's been covering the political battlefield, we'll ask him if the Iraqis are capable of making a deal in the breathing space so hard won by coalition troops.

State Department correspondent Zane Verjee has been on the streets of Pakistan. Who is going to be in power when the state of emergency ends?

And CNN En Espanol's Juan Carlos Lopez has been watching the chaotic situation in Venezuela. Is Hugo Chavez about to become another Fidel Castro? THIS WEEK AT WAR.

This week was announced the Third Brigade of the First Cavalry Division is pulling out of Diyala Province and they will not be replaced. This is only the beginning of a drawdown of 35,000 U.S. troops by next summer. So that's it. The so-called surge is ending. And in many ways, the military has succeeded in what it set out to do, providing breathing space for Iraqi politicians to solve their own problems free of daily violence. So, are Baghdad's politicians stepping up to the challenge? Michael Ware is in CNN's Baghdad bureau, former Iraqi representative to the U.S. Rend al-Rahim is with me here in Washington as is senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

Let me start with you, Michael. Is there a sense there that the politicians are more focused on solving problems now that violence has dropped so much?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. I'm certainly not reading that at all. There is not even a scintilla of evidence of that. Certainly there is the public platitudes. There is the -- the verbal offerings that the politicians are giving the American military and the American diplomatic mission here, but to be honest, I don't see it going beyond that. I mean, the catch phrase now of American success or failure is Iraqi reconciliation. We've seen the Americans now stand up Sunni militias, while they've been crying for years for the Shia to stand down their Shia militias.

Now this has done many things. A, it's helped crimp al Qaeda. But, B, secondly, it's also been a stick with which the Americans have been able to beat or pressure the Iraqi government into doing a number of things, curbing police infractions, curbing the Shia militia, but it's also meant to force them to the reconciliation table.

Now I have been with the Sunni militias and I'm talking to the power brokers within the Shia government. And once you get past the pretense of the public game, I see very little evidence right now of any real intent for reconciliation. My opinion is they are just waiting for America to get out of the way so they can go for each other.

FOREMAN: That's a very bleak assessment. Rend al-Rahim, do you agree with it?

REND AL-RAHIM, U.S. INSTITUTE FOR PEACE: I agree with the political analysis, that there isn't enough dialogue going on, there isn't enough reconcilation.

The Iraqi government says there is. Says there is. That they are moving forward with legislation and so on. The Sunnis on the other hand say there isn't enough, and they say there isn't enough dialogue.

I do not agree with Michael Ware, though, when he says that everybody is waiting for the U.S. to move out so they can get at each other militarily and have a big fight. I think we do need more dialog, we do need international and domestic efforts at reconciliation, but the conditions in Iraq right now, they are ripe, but the Iraqi politicians don't know how to take advantage of them.

FOREMAN: Let's talk about the benchmarks we talked so much about before. Holding provincial elections, de-Baathification laws, dealing with the people who used to be part of Saddam's regime, amendments to the Constitution, disband sectarian militias and oil revenue sharing. Of those five we mentioned there, any real progress on any of them at this point? AL-RAHIM: Yes. A little bit. Because we have had a review of the Constitution, and the revisions have been given to parliament to look at. The other thing is the de-Baathification there, is a law called Amnesty and Reconciliation or something like that, that has been approved in the Cabinet and should go to Parliament very soon.

However, you are right, of everything is stalled or at least everything is going at a snail's pace because the issues are highly political, they are very charged issues. They are not just simple legislation with a yes or no vote. So it is going to take a lot more time, but it needs more discussion amongst the Iraqis, they need to come together.

FOREMAN: Jamie, what does the Pentagon make of all of this? Because the Pentagon has really -- all evidence in the past few months, exercised a very smart strategy that really is working?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they are arguing is the strategy is working, not the way they originally envisioned the way it was going to work. Yes, the progress on those big benchmarks that you are talking about is not anywhere near what the Pentagon had hoped.

But there is a lot of unexpected progress, they say, in other levels, a lot of reconciliation on a local level even while the national government is sort of grasping, trying to find some way ahead, and it's very much like the so-called Anbar awakening, which was an unanticipated positive development of the surge. Was not necessarily directly part of the strategy. They say they are seeing that kind of progress here so, you know, it's sort of a glass half full, glass half empty. As they are going ahead into the next six months, they are drawing the troops down, they are hoping build on some of those unexpected successes.

FOREMAN: Michael Ware, listen to what Brigadier General John Campbell said about the Sunnis now where they had a lot of success getting people to ease along here. "The Sunnis have shown great patience," he said, "and you don't want the Sunnis that are working with you to go back to the dark side."

Michael, how long do you think the progress, the military progress there can continue before there is either a demand for political progress or the lack of it causes everything to collapse again?

WARE: Well, honestly, I don't think the Sunnis are truly expecting great strides in the political domain. I mean, for the Sunnis, the greatest achievement and that which will sustain them in my belief is the fact that they now see America supporting them. Now, we're talking about the Baathists, the former military and intelligence apparatus of Saddam's regime. These people who first came to America offering a deal in 2003. Now, four years later, they finally have it.

They are allowed to be armed. They have American support, indeed America is paying 67,000 Sunni militiamen to be on the streets of the capital and of Anbar Province. Now this this has nothing to do with the surge. The surge was meant to put U.S. troops, to flood them into the capital to dampen violence to buy oxygen for political reconciliation.

Well, that's not what's resulted, what has dampened the violence are the Sunni militias protecting Sunni enclaves, we have segregated and divided city here and that means these communities can better defend themselves. The real question is what's the price and what happens when America leaves?

FOREMAN: Rend, what do you think?

AL-RAHIM: It's very important to bring the Sunni tribes into the political fold and we can't have another election to get them into Parliament yet. I don't think that's likely. However, my understanding is the Iraqi government has new lists of potential ministers to go into the Cabinet. And they include members of the Anbar tribes as potential ministers. Those names on the list were provided by the Anbar tribes.

FOREMAN: Do you have a sense that there is a sense of urgency among the central Iraqi leadership where they say this is the moment we have something approaching peace or a lot better than it was. We've got to act?

AL-RAHIM: Yes. I don't think there is enough of a sense of urgency. They know that they need to do this, they are moving towards it, but they are not moving toward it in the way we should be seeing.

FOREMAN: Jamie, last word to you on that. How much is the military just watching that political situation, saying please move now?

MCINTYRE: Well, they are very concerned that the Iraqi politicians are not going to step up. And all this progress will be lost. I would say one thing Michael said, he's absolutely right that a lot of things have happened are not a direct result of the surge. One thing we have seen is a clearing out of a lot of these bomb-making facilities that were in southern Baghdad and that may be partly responsible for the downtick in IEDs and other attacks.

FOREMAN: And with that, thank you Jamie McIntyre, and Rend al-Rahim. And Michael Ware as well.

Next we'll turn form the politics of Iraq to the even more confused politics of Pakistan.

But first, as we always do, let's take time for a THIS WEEK AT WAR remembrance. Hundreds of mourners gathered in Orchard Park, New York on Tuesday to pay last respects to Army Sergeant Daniel Shaw. Sergeant Shaw was on his second tour in Iraq with the Second Brigade Combat Team of the Second Infantry when he was killed. He was remembered as a patriot.


BRIG. GEN. THOMAS COLE, U.S. ARMY: He was one of those American heroes that gave everything to those he loved and fellow his Americans to continue to live free.


FOREMAN: Our thoughts are with the family. Sergeant Shaw 23 years old.


FOREMAN: Here is an interesting comparison. Back in July when the Pakistani Army slammed into the Red Mosque to eliminate Islamic fundamentalist opposition, hundreds were killed.

In the current state of emergency, there have been no scenes of carnage. It's been barricades and barbed wire and liberal use of police night sticks for the most part.

So who will remain standing after this crisis? Who are the players and can we really expect to find a vital U.S. ally still there when the fighting is over?

State Department correspondent Zain Verjee is in Lahore, Pakistan right now and CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen with me in our Washington studio.

Zain, let's go to the basic question. Once all this hand wringing and wrangling is over with there, are we likely to have an ally in Pakistan in charge?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the United States really has viewed Pakistan as a key ally since 9/11. Basically the number one reason is because it needs to fight the war on terror along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. So it's really relied on the number one person here, General Musharraf to be able to carry that out.

Now there are rumblings in Washington among U.S. military officials saying, you know what? Musharraf and the Pakistani Army has really not been that effective in eradicating the Taliban and al Qaeda and that's becoming a huge problem, and they are beginning ask themselves with all of the political crises going on in this country can General Musharraf really focus on the war on terror, or is this all a big distraction?

FOREMAN: Peter let's look at the map and look at what Zain is talking about. We've talked a lot about the border with Afghanistan and the fact that there are tribal areas in here that are sort of up for grabs. But it is not just that at this point, is it?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the border of itself is the distance between Washington, DC and Denver, and topographically it's a lot of mountains, but the problem is extended beyond the border regions into areas like Swat which is outside the settled areas, so we're seeing this -- the militants who are traditionally in the tribal areas actually reaching into the settled areas of Pakistan itself which is quite a threatening development.

FOREMAN: Let's take a look at a report from Dan Rivers earlier this week about the very thing you're talking about here, about the movement by these militant groups. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Swat Valley, a strategically important area of Pakistan close to the Afghan border and not far from China. It used to be a popular tourist destination. But no longer. Now, it's another headache for security forces. In the west, the Army has been trying to regain control of the tribal areas, Waziristan has become a bitter conflict. There was also a rebellion in Baluchistan.

Now the Army has the Swat Valley to contend with.


FOREMAN: Zain when we look at an area like Swat, which was once considered sort of calm, in the control of Pakistan, is there a sense this is ground that can be easily retain once all of this internal discord is settled? Or is it going to be tough?

VERJEE: The sense from people, analysts and officials that we've spoken to here is that it's going to be tough. Publicly they say that they are dealing with it the Army is in there, and trying to deal with the pro Taliban and extremist elements that have taken over certain areas of the once very beautiful area of Swat.

Many Pakistanis know it and have gone there on holiday and honeymoons even. But for right now, publicly they are not saying too much this is a major issue of concern, particularly to the United States, because what it indicates is that the level of extremism, instead of being contained is beginning spread.

One of the reasons that General Musharraf gave to the state of emergency is it will give him the power to crack down on extremism. But that doesn't seem to be what's going on. Instead, he's cracking down on lawyers, human rights activists, the media, locking up political opponents.

So as the former foreign minister even admitted, that was a little ridiculous, he said.

FOREMAN: Well, Peter, let's continue with that thought. To some degree, are legalities continue with that thought. To some degree in Pakistan, they fighting over the deck chairs while the ship is sinking, or is that over-blowing this threat?

BERGEN: Oh. That's over-blowing the threat. While there are to be elections in January, the Islamist parties are going to take part in it but they're not going to do very well. The militants are very violent and very vocal, but the most popular politician in Pakistan is woman named Benazir Bhutto who is getting a 63 percent favorability rating as of September and by her on account a liberal, very Western orientated so I think that sort of speaks for itself.

So Pakistan has been a democracy in the past. Pakistanis want to return to civilian rule and in terms of the insurgency that the Pakistani Army is fighting, I completely agree with Zain. The Pakistani Army were to have a land war with India, they are not really set up to deal with, to have counterinsurgencies in their own country.

So far, they have proven very ill equipped and ill adept at this. I don't think that is going to change in the near future it doesn't mean the whole country is going to blow up. I'm skeptical about that right now.

FOREMAN: White House spokesman Dana Perino on Wednesday talked a little bit about how important it is in the United States that things end well there in some fashion. Listen to what she had to say.


DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: We want to have a long-term relationship with this country. In the past, we have waffled on that and it did not serve us well. We lost contact with an entire generation of military leaders. The Pakistani military leaders, we need to get back in the business of making sure that we don't just walk away from a country because they made a mistake.


FOREMAN: Zain, to what degree does Musharraf's unpopularity with some parts of the population there mirror an unpopularity of U.S. and U.S. interests in Pakistan.

VERJEE: Well, many Pakistanis we've spoken to say they don't understand why the United States continues to support Musharraf. A lot of people say firstly one of the big issues is inflation. Inflation has really risen in this country. So people have major problems putting just basics and food on the table.

The other thing they say is that the United States and Musharraf's alliance has really been something that the people of Pakistan have disliked. Because by conducting the war on terror, they are saying that what's happening is ordinary Pakistanis are being killed as he tries to execute what the United States wants him to.

So there's a huge amount of resentment on the ground for that reason. Which is one of the things that fuels the anti-American sentiment here.

FOREMAN: So much more so say about it but we're out of time. Thanks, Zain. Thanks, Peter as well.

Straight ahead, we'll get the inside story on what may be a disappearing democracy a lot closer to the United States and later in the program, we'll tell you the story behind one of the most famous photos of the war in Iraq.

But right now, let's take a look at the pictures combat photographers took in THIS WEEK AT WAR, as we always do.

Hadi Misban (ph) was in the Asamiya (ph) neighborhood in baghdad when these members of the local citizens militia, now allied with U.S. forces took control of their streets.

A protester in Karachi, Pakistan throws a teargas grenade back in at the police in this photo by Skakil Adil (ph).

A machine gunner checks his ammunition as African Union troops from Rwanda and Nigeria get read to take up peace keeping duties in the Darfur region of Sudan. This dramatic image of war was taken by Stuart Price (ph).

And in a picture sure to awaken memories in those who lived in the Vietnam Era, Juan Carlos Hernandez (ph) caught this young protester giving flowers to a riot policeman during a demonstration in Valencia, Venezuela.



HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Tell him to respect Venezuela. Tell him the same. He has been disrespecting Venezuela all over the world.

KING JUAN CARLOS, SPAIN (through translator): Why don't you shut up?


FOREMAN: The King of Spain told Hugo Chavez to shut up this week. Most Venezuelans don't have that royal privilege. Certainly noisy street protests haven't dissuaded the fiery advocate of 21st century socialism from continuing in his determination to hold a vote next month on amendments to the Venezuelan Constitution that will allow him in essence to be president for life. Are we looking at another Cuba? An oil-rich enemy in the U.S.'s backyard.

Roger Noriega was assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. Ambassador Noriega joins us from Miami. And with me in Washington is my colleague from CNN En Espanol, senior correspondent Juan Carlos Lopez.

Juan Carlos, let me start with you. What does Chavez want?

JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN EN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's presenting himself as another option. As an option that's different to the empire which is how he refers to the U.S. He has the oil money to finance his revolution and he believes there he can be a region not dependent on the U.S., although Venezuela, the fifth largest producer of oil, the fourth largest supplier to the U.S. sells most of its oil to the U.S.

FOREMAN: Roger, clearly he likes the idea of having the influence in other Latin American nations. How much is that working?

AMB. ROGER NORIEGA, FORMER ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, he has this imperial vision quite frankly using Venezuela's petrodollars as his own petty cash fund to buy influence, to support radical agendas throughout Latin America. And you saw that recent summit in Chile I think that these Latin Americans are becoming increasingly horrified by the vision that Chavez has. They do not share his populist agenda by and large, do not share his anti-American views, and he's becoming a real problem in terms of political stability and -- in the region and they are pushing back a bit.

FOREMAN: And yet he still does have people who support him. Harris Whitbeck reported on that earlier on. Let's take a look at what he said about Chavez's supporters.


HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gatia (ph) neighborhood on the outskirts of Caracas. It is here where Hugo Chavez has found the fuel for his Bolivarian Revolution. It is in poor neighborhoods like this where his most ardent supporters live.


FOREMAN: Why do they support him so much, Juan Carlson? Is it because of their poverty? That he offers them a way out? And why do those who oppose him so much oppose him?

LOPEZ: Venezuela is a polarized country. As we speak, the opposition on one side, people who support Chavez and his revolution and there are explanations for it. He brought in doctors from Cuba, he took them to the shanty towns, they lived with them. They didn't have that before.

He gave them access to education, he has been spending money on giving them access to food that has gained a lot of support among the people. The elections in Venezuela, although controversial, according to international observers have been fair. And that gives him the support he wants for December 2 when this constitutional referendum is taking place, but there is a wide division in Venezuela.

In 2005 the opposition decided to boycott the elections. Well, they were left out of the National Assembly. So the 167 members who were elected, all support Chavez. Now seven voted against the referendum. But still he has control of the National Assembly. Opposition is fragmented and not really accountable to President Chavez.

FOREMAN: Let's take a quick look at who this man is. He was an Army paratrooper. Attempted a coup in 1992. Elected president in 1998 and there was a two-day coup against him in 2002. Roger, do we really need to fear this guy? Or is he just making noise?

NORIEGA: Well, he's doing both. I mean there, is such a thing as a killer clown, and he may be it. In Latin America today, he is certainly an important source of oil for the United States, and the economic impact of cutoff would be a problem for us.

But mostly it would be a problem for Venezuela and for Chavez himself. So he continues this trade arrangement, but he's reached out to the likes of Ahmadinejad in Iran.

And he is talking now, here is the oil-rich country talking about developing a nuclear program. So Chavez really has a radical agenda. He sows discontent, discord, and anti-Americanism in the region so that is a problem for us.

But let me sort of update Juan Carlos on what is happening in Venezuela. I think Chavez's support among the masses, among the poor in Venezuela is going down pretty dramatically, and it's in steep decline for a couple of reasons.

One, there are shortages in the wealthy country. Caracas is one of the most dangerous countries in the world because of an absolute lawlessness that Chavez's polarization sows. And the incompetence of the Venezuelan government.

So things are changing rapidly. And that's what I think you are seeing now. And it's not just sort of the traditional opposition that's going up against Chavez. The people he is shooting in the streets with his gangsters are students who are saying enough with this radical agenda that's turning Venezuela into a Cuban style dictatorship.

FOREMAN: And Juan Carlos, one of the things I want you to have in the last word is these essentially crime problems, there is this notion that Venezuela is becoming a bastion of really organized criminal behavior around this sort of political system.

LOPEZ: Caracas has been traditionally a very dangerous city and has become more dangerous. In the last few years the Venezuelan government hasn't reported statistics on crime, on murder. There really is no way, only independent studies that show that crime is up, that it's very dangerous in Caracas.

FOREMAN: Chavez can't get his hands around that?

LOPEZ: Well, they are trying to do it with money. And it's not working according to the drug czar, John Walters, and Venezuela is one of the main transports for cocaine. It's grown five fold in the last three years and Venezuela not working with the U.S. in anti-drug efforts. Because they believe, President Chavez says it affects his country's sovereignty.

But the U.S. says it is opening a way for drugs to come into the United States and to go to Europe that is another problem where there is no cooperation between the U.S. and Venezuela.

FOREMAN: I have a feeling we'll hear more from him. Thank you so much. Juan Carlos, Roger as well.

Straight ahead, we'll turn from the somewhat suspect politics of Venezuela to the presidential race here in the United States. Is the reality of Iraq being lost in the rhetoric of the campaigns?

First, a homecoming in this week at war. On Monday, Veterans Day, family and friends welcomed more than 100 members of the 759th Military Police Battalion back to Fort Carson, Colorado, after more than a year training the Iraqi police. Jillian Bittle could hardly reach to greet her husband.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JILLIAN BITTLE, WIFE OF SOLDIER: So happy that he's home and I love him so much. I'm so happy we get to be a family now and all together.

FOREMAN: This year, at least these soldiers will be spending the holidays at home with their families.



FOREMAN: A year ago, the war in Iraq was seen as the issue that would propel the Democrats into office in 2008. But what if the death toll continues to drop and a power-sharing deal does get made in Baghdad? Does the war become a political wild card or does it just get forgotten?

CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley is in Las Vegas and Jim Vandehei, the executive director of "Politico" just us from his offices Virginia.

Candy, let me start with you. It seems like the Democrats are still talking like we were in the war where we were three months ago. Like they are not sure what to make of good news from Iraq.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what you heard at the debate Thursday was a group that is determined to go ahead and still play on the war, but if you've got over 60 percent of the American people who think this war was a bad idea, you're still have Democrats in that corner.

Now look, they're going to have to change it around the edges and say I realize that it looks better now and we're always happy when the death toll goes down, on the other hand, look how many years it has taken to get to this point. There were huge mistakes made. A war we never should have gone into in the first place.

So I think there is plenty of fodder there, regardless really of what happens on the ground in Iraq.

FOREMAN: You mentioned the polls of the American public, candy. Jim, there has been very slight but noticeable movement in the polls. People beginning say maybe the war is not as bad as we thought it was and all of the new developments really aren't new. Where could we be in two, three months?

JIM VANDEHEI, "POLITICO": It's a total imponderable at this point. But I think Democrats are meeting a lot and talking a lot about what do we do politically and substantively if there continues to be improvement on the ground. It's true like Candy said, the bulk of the American people thought the war was a bad choice in the beginning.

The question is, what if that debate shifts to, hey, you know what? We are starting to secure certain regions, not just Anbar Province, but pockets of Baghdad and that's spreading out. What if we are starting to make progress. Should we be talking about a swift and immediate withdrawal? At some point Democrats have to wonder if they are not in total lockstep with what's happening on the ground. I don't think you will see any major changes in how Democrats talk about it now, but heading into next year, they might be approaching this differently. There are a lot of smart Democrats that are saying perhaps start talking about how we set the stage in 2009 when we have a new president for a smart and speedy withdrawal.

FOREMAN: Candy, do you think they are becoming at all cagey about what they have to say at this point precisely because they know in a few months, if the war continues to go well there, will be Republicans who at that point will say, yeah, you're all against it when it was going bad, now what do you have to say?

CROWLEY: Well, again, I -- I think the problem for Democrats here is kind of in for a penny, in for a pound. They are so far into this as critics of the war, it's going to be difficult for them to back off completely. Do they drop it? Does the economy become a bigger issue? Absolutely.

But I'm not sure there is any way to get out of this in terms of the past rhetoric. I think they will continue when asked to say it was badly managed. We didn't need to be here. There were needless deaths. I think we're going to see more of that, and at the same time you'll see kind of what Barack Obama did in the debate which they have done all along which is to say that we think the group that went in there, we think the so-called surge is doing a great job.

On the other hand, and then move on to the criticism of the war. Do I think they may have to back away from it as a major issue and back away from complaining about the current status on the ground? Absolutely. Do I think they might change to other subjects? Absolutely.

But I don't think that what they are going to do is to move away from what has been their longstanding criticism of this war. If nothing else they would not please their Democratic base by doing so.

FOREMAN: Let's listen to a little bit of what Barack Obama had to say. You brought him up. Here were his comments about the losses in this war.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The notion that somehow because we have gone from horrific violence to just intolerable levels of violence and that somehow that justifies George Bush's strategy is absolutely wrong and I'm going to bring it to a halt.


FOREMAN: Jim, I can see how that plays very well certainly with the antiwar forces in this country. And particularly the anti war Democrats.


FOREMAN: What is going to happen, though, with the middle? That's what this fight is all about. The independence that you win over? Is that going to fly with them as time goes on here?

VANDEHEI: That's what I think Hillary Clinton spends a lot of time thinking about. She feels like she has a good chance of winning the nomination. An if you listen very carefully to her rhetoric on Iraq, about how long we will have troops, she said it come be well into 2013 when we have troops there, and also how she talks about Iran and tries to take a more muscular position toward confronting Iran. She wants to give herself wiggle room.

Because I think independents and I think a lot of Democrats too want to make sure yes, are you anti war. But you are also a strong leader who is going to keep the country safe. When we have this threat of terrorism and also all this instability in the Middle East. So there is always that danger. At this point in the primary process, the antiwar base rules the Democratic Party. So there is nothing better than throwing them a little red meat by bashing the war and saying let's get the heck out of there right away.

FOREMAN: Candy, what is the best that Republicans can hope for out of this while it regards the war and this election?

CROWLEY: Oh man, they can hope for better and better news on the ground in Iraq. At least then someone like John McCain can come back and say though I disapproved how this was carried out when they did what I wanted them to do, which is put more troops in, my gosh it got a lot better.

The Republicans by and large have pretty much stayed behind George Bush on this war, so if it goes well, will help them. And at least give them something they don't have to defend against.

FOREMAN: All right. Candy and Jim, thank you vet both so much.

In a moment, some startling facts about how wounded veterans are being treated by the country who fought for. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will have a report that that you really do not want to miss.

But first, as we always do, please join us as we have a final salute to some of those who fell in THIS WEEK AT WAR.



FOREMAN: Well, brace yourself for a shocking story. The kind that I think we all find very hard to believe. But it's true, and CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta found it in a new documentary.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On October 15, 2005, Garrett, a national guardsman was driving an Army truck near Baghdad when an IED, improvised explosive device, blew off his arm.

GARRETT ANDERSON, WOUNDED IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I was reaching for my rifle at that point. Because the battlefield moment, because I was driving the truck at that point, and my arm was -- was hanging there, lacerated.

GUPTA: His right arm gone.

A lot of metal in there.

His jaw fractured. His head and body torn by shrapnel. Enough injuries to amass a hefty pile of bureaucracy.

G. ANDERSON: This is probably my initial rating. The Army has 10 pieces of paper for every process that you have to do. And I was right-hand dominant. So I couldn't fill out any of the paperwork.

GUPTA: So Garrett's wife Sam who is in law school at the time, took on his case. She couldn't believe what the V.A. had to say.

SAM ANDERSON, GARRETT ANDERSON'S WIFE: It says here his shrapnel wounds all over body, not service connected.

GUPTA: Shrapnel wounds all over the body, not service connected. Where did you get the shrapnel wounds?

G. ANDERSON: That is a good question. Because I wouldn't know that either.

GUPTA: It's interesting, this particular document as well, the person who filled it out didn't want to leave a trace. They actually cut out their own signature.

S. ANDERSON: That's how we received it.

GUPTA: That's how they received it. They did not want to take credit for this.

S. ANDERSON: Who would? Who would want to tell an Iraqi or Afghanistan soldier who was blown up by an IED that his wounds were not caused by his service over there?

GUPTA: I took Garrett's award letter to the Department of Veterans' Affairs in Washington. I wanted acting Secretary Gordon Mansfield to explain how something like this could happen.

(on camera): I just want to show this to you. Here is a thing that sort of caught my eye. The signature cut right out of the letter. Says shrapnel wounds all over the body not service connected. Not service connected?

GORDON MANSFIELD, ACTING V.A. SECRETARY: I can go check for you. But if he was -- if he was, you know, blown up, so to speak, and he's got shrapnel from it, then -- I don't know how you would get shrapnel without it being service connected quite frankly. I'm sorry, I haven't seen that document. GUPTA: What kind of system would allow a mistake like that to happen?

MANSFIELD: It makes you angry.

GUPTA: It does.

MANSFIELD: Yeah. It makes you more dedicated to changing the system to do what it's supposed to do, which is to take care of these people.


FOREMAN: Simply amazing stuff. Sanjay joins us from Atlanta. What is the latest on Garrett Anderson's case, to begin with, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Well, it's important to point out the V.A. have acted on Garrett Anderson's case after some pressure from Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

He actually intervened on his behalf. They have acknowledged the shrapnel wounds you were just hearing about, Tom, are service connected and they also acknowledge he has a traumatic brain injury. They have not said he has PTSD, though. They say he has an anxiety disorder instead. So some movement there but not quite enough still for the Andersons.

FOREMAN: So is the Anderson case a stand alone thing, an anomaly, or do you think it is common?

GUPTA: We saw a few cases like this, and obviously they are somewhat hard to find. Not everyone is coming forward. We talked to the acting secretary and he says for the most part, the system works pretty well. There are hundreds of thousands who get good care from the V.A. system.

But the system takes too long, there is a lot of bureaucracy and there just seems to be not a very consistent system across the country in terms of awarding claims. It also just takes so long, Tom. People come back they are injured and they can spend months if not years just waiting to determine how much they are going to get.

FOREMAN: I want to get thoughts on this Sanjay. On Friday, NPR reported on new data from the Defense Department on how commanders are discharging soldiers from systems that might be associated with PTSD at a much higher rate. Twenty percent more soldiers discharged now for misconduct. Twice as many soldiers discharged for drug abuse. Almost 40 percent more soldiers discharged for personality disorder.

That would suggest almost a systematic attempt to push PTSD in particular aside and not deal with it what do you think?

GUPTA: It certainly does. And we certainly came across some of that as well. A lot of that seems to be sort of rooted in the premise that people still don't have a good way of defining PTSD. And after all this time, Tom, and PTSD, incidentally, it's worth pointing out is becoming one of the cardinal injuries of this particular conflict as well. We don't know thousand define it that well. You go to one hospital, Hines in Chicago, it is going to be difficult in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in terms what they call PTSD.

We know it's earmarked by fear, hopelessness and horror, when someone was put back in a similar situation to what caused the trauma in the first place.

But beyond that how you would diagnosis it, exactly how you treat it, and how you compensate someone for it is just not systematically done. What is more disturbing, I think, Tom, in some ways that patients who are finally diagnosed with PTSD sometimes are actually going back to Iraq, despite the fact that PTSD hadn't been adequately treated and that was, I think, a very scary thing, not only for them, but I imagine for their comrades out there as well.

FOREMAN: Thanks, much, Sanjay.

You do you not want to miss the whole story of Sanjay's investigation into this shocking situation. "Broken Government, Waging War on the V.A." It's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. And we'll be back with a report on your WEEK AT WAR in just a moment.


FOREMAN: We always look forward to the dispatches segment where we bring a personal story of THIS WEEK AT WAR.

And This week our I-Reporter is Amanda Weatherhead with a story of a family of warriors. Amanda's sister, Sergeant Jennifer Tomassey is an Army medic and her father, Chief Warrant Officer Randy Weatherhead flies Black Hawks for the California National Guard.

Jennifer has done two tours in Iraq and her father who flew Hueys back in Vietnam joined her the second time around, even though they were based in different cities, she managed to make it to his promotion and he showed up when she celebrated her reenlistment. And there were times when they were just plain family.

Finally, mother and grandpa share their pride in Gabby. Born six months before Jennifer's last tour. Two years old when she got back.

We would like to share the story of your week at war. It's easy. Just go to And click on the I-Report link. In a moment, some of the tough lessons of the war Iraq.


FOREMAN: It is a safe bet you have seen this picture. It's usually called Marlboro Man. This week, articles in the "L.A. Times" and on tell the story behind it. Photographer Luis Sinco was with the Marines in Fallujah and after a night spent pinned down by heavy gunfire, he caught this young marine as he lit a cigarette and watched the sun rise.

The next day, it was on the front page of over 150 newspapers and Lance Corporal James Blake Miller became an instant celebrity. Some 18 months later, Miller was discharged from the Marines, now a poster boy for PTSD. Luis Sinco then committed a cardinal sin with a journalist and got involved. Sinco drove the young veteran into a counseling center, listened to the horrors the man had witnessed, heard about how close he came to suicide.

And it would be nice to have a happy ending to this story, but the fact is James Blake Miller is still trying to rebuild his life but photographer Sinco says he is going to hang in there for the long hauls. Two men joined by a long ago sunrise.

Turning now to some of the stories we'll be following in the next week at war.

In Monday, negotiators from the United States and North Korea will meet in New York City for talks on bringing the country into the international financial system.

And Wednesday kicks off the Thanksgiving travel season. We'll be watching closely after a report this week that government watchdogs got phony bomb parts through security and also looking at whether the use of military airspace for commercial travel will help ease the crush.

Thanks 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, "Death Grip, Inside Pro Wrestling."