FTN - 7/20/03

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Bob Schieffer, CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, Ambassador Paul Bremer, the U.S. top official in Baghdad on the chaos in Iraq, and presidential candidate, Democrat Bob Graham.

Two more American soldiers were killed early this morning in northern Iraq when their convoy was ambushed, while thousands of angry Shiite protesters marched on the U.S. headquarters in Najaf. We'll talk about it with a top U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, who's back in Washington to brief the White House.

Then we'll talk with Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham about how the mounting casualties and growing controversy over Iraqi intelligence impacts on the presidential campaign.

Katty Kay, the Washington correspondent for the BBC, will join in the questioning.

And I'll have a final word on how Gerald Ford spent his 90th birthday.

But, first, Ambassador Paul Bremer on Face The Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face the Nation with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. And now from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: Good morning again. Ambassador Bremer is in the studio with us this morning. Joining in the questioning this morning, well, Prime Minister Blair was here earlier in the week so we thought it would be a good idea to have Katty Kay of the BBC to join us this morning.

Welcome to you both.

Ambassador Bremer, let's get right to it. Three more Americans killed today in Iraq. That's now 37 who've died in combat, I guess, since May 1st, since the president said combat operations were over. More than 94 people, I think, dead in all since that date. And we're seeing this morning again one of the largest demonstrations ever -- I think we have some film of it here -- Shiites turning out this morning. Some estimates put that crowd as large as 10,000 marching to the U.S. headquarters to protest the presence of Americans there.

If you were an American sitting at home this morning watching this program, what would you make of those pictures and these continuing casualties?

AMB. PAUL BREMER, Presidential Envoy To Iraq: I think it's important to step back a little bit here, Bob, and look at where we've come from.

First of all, in the past three months we have liberated 25 million people in Iraq. While it's very hard to know exactly how to measure public opinion there, because there's no really good polling, the fact of the matter is, in all of the polls I've seen, the vast majority of the Iraqis prefer to be free and are pleased that the coalition freed them.

Now we have an ongoing problem of security in a very small part of the country. Most of the country is quiet. The north is quiet, the south, the Shiia heartland is quiet, which is all of the areas south of Baghdad and down to the Kuwait border.

We have a limited problem of some bitter enders, some small remnants of the old regime, who are using professional military tactics to attack and kill our soldiers as they did this morning. We will...

SCHIEFFER: So you don't think this is a coordinated campaign?

BREMER: No, there is no -- No.

SCHIEFFER: You don't believe this is a guerrilla war that suddenly we've moved...

BREMER: No.

SCHIEFFER: ...into a phase of guerrilla wars the -- the top generals are now saying?

BREMER: There's -- there is -- no, I'm not going to argue about how you define it. The fact of the matter is we are facing a small group of bitter enders who are basically trying to turn the tide of history. We have thrown out Saddam, and Saddam, dead or alive, is finished in Iraq. We will prevail against these professional killers. They are in a small area of the country. That's the place where the unrest is. And we'll deal with it.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you said that you thought that it was quiet in the north. But as I understand it, these two men that were killed today, were -- that took place in the north. It was not in the area where the other trouble has been.

BREMER: Well, 80 -- 85 percent of the attacks against the coalition since June 1st have been in a small area between Baghdad and Tikrit. That's where the attacks are taking place. This is an area that we did not fight over during the war. This is the area of Saddam's traditional tribal and political support. We are seeing remnants of the old regime regrouping in squad level attacks against our soldiers, and we will deal with it. They present no strategic threat to the coalition.

SCHIEFFER: I don't dispute at all what you're saying, but some have said that there's actually more trouble than we know about because they say that the military is not reporting these attacks unless someone is wounded or killed. Is that not correct?

BREMER: No, we keep very close track of the attacks on the coalition. And we know what the statistics are and we know...

SCHIEFFER: But do you make that public?

BREMER: Well, that's for the military to do. But I see the statistics every day. I have a meeting every day with the commander of the military forces there, General Sanchez. We have seen, as the military has said, an uptick in the attacks against the coalition. But a lot of those incidents are because we initiate them; that is to say, we're going out and trying to find these guys.

So you have to be very careful when you start looking at these numbers. A lot of -- most of the attacks, most of the incidents between our forces and theirs, are because we are now initiating them. We're on the offensive and we are going to stay on the offensive until we dominate these people.

SCHIEFFER: Katty.

KATTY KAY, BBC: Clearly it's very important to find Saddam Hussein, for the security of the Iraqi people and to give them confidence in their future. What more -- until Saddam Hussein is found, what more can you do to try and co-opt the Iraqis into helping you with -- when it comes to intelligence, when it comes to people who might be looting, when it comes to security, when it comes to people who might be planning attacks against Americans? Because it seems to me without the cooperation -- more cooperation from the Iraqi people, it's going to be almost impossible to bring security.

BREMER: Well, as a matter of fact, in the last few weeks, we've seen a substantial increase in cooperation from the Iraqi people. We've started to see Iraqi people coming in and telling us where the bad guys are, more than was the case a month ago, more than was the case two months ago. We've got people coming into police stations. We've got people coming into tactical commands saying these people are bad and we need to go after them.

Secondly, we are going to be raising an Iraqi civil defense corps, made up of Iraqis who are going to be working with us directly in this military part of the operation.

Thirdly, we are raising an Iraqi police force of some 65,000 to help us police the cities and the villages in Iraq.

And finally, we're raising an Iraqi border guard. So we're going to be making more use of the Iraqis as we go along, and that's the military side.

KAY: But people who work with the Americans risk being seen as collaborators. They're still clearly very terrified of Saddam Hussein rising up like some kind of Lord Valdermort from the cracks in the pavement over there. I mean, this is a real issue, the fear that they have of Saddam Hussein.

BREMER: Well, of course, we recognize the importance of getting a hold of Saddam Hussein or killing him, which is why we have placed a $25 million reward on his head and $15 million on each of his sons' head.

These attacks that we're seeing basically are attacking our successes. We had an attack yesterday, for example, against a guard guarding a bank. Well, we introduced a new currency without a problem. The currency has been stable. We have made the central bank independent. We have approved a new budget, and all of this in the last two weeks, and of course, they go after us there.

We had an attack on a police academy in Al-Fallujah 10 days ago. Well, we are standing up police and they're going after our success there.

We had an American soldier killed on the campus of Baghdad University two weeks ago. Why? Because all 22 universities are now working in Iraq. All of - - 90 percent of the primary and secondary schools are up and running, they're holding final exams.

We are succeeding in education, we are succeeding in bringing up the police, we are succeeding in the economy, and these bitter-enders don't like it, so they go after us.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Ambassador, you have been saying this morning -- it's no secret; you're on all the Sunday talk shows this morning and we appreciate your dropping by here -- but you have been saying -- you said earlier that you're not going to get into numbers. You don't think we need more troops. You think the number of troops is adequate at this point.

But it would appear, from a long distance, that the main thing the American troops have been engaged in, because they have to right now, is protecting themselves and our own installations.

Doesn't that mean that you're going to have to bring in some more troops from someplace?

BREMER: Well, first of all, that's not what the American troops are doing. We're conducting raids, very active -- very active raids.

In one operation we ran in the last four days, we pulled in over 800 detainees, Iraqis, Ba'athists, head of Fedayeen Saddam. It's not as if we are sitting back and doing nothing. We're taking the battle to the enemy...

SCHIEFFER: Well, I don't say that as criticism.

BREMER: ...and we'll continue doing that.

SCHIEFFER: But it just seems obvious...

BREMER: No, but...

SCHIEFFER: ...that's what a major part of their job is...

BREMER: Well...

SCHIEFFER: ...because it has to be.

BREMER: Of course in any military, force protection is an important part of their job, but I don't want to leave the viewers with the impression these guys are simply sitting down somewhere. They're not. They're going out after these guys and they will continue to go after these guys.

Now when we bring up some of these forces I was talking about earlier, particularly the Iraq civil defense force that we talked about, we will be able to use them on convoy security, route security, site security, the kinds of things that our soldiers are doing, that will free some of our soldiers to go out and be still more aggressive. So we have very much in mind the need to take this battle to the enemy.

SCHIEFFER: You're here to brief the president. Are you going to tell him that we're winning the peace in Iraq?

BREMER: Absolutely. I'm absolutely confident that we are on track to conduct a political, economic and military strategy that is going to leave Iraq consistent with the president and prime minister's view, with an elected representative democratic government in Iraq, which is something they've never enjoyed before and which will be a model for the Arab world.

SCHIEFFER: As you see the situation now, where do you think it will be three months from now and six months from now?

BREMER: In three months, we will have made significant progress in the security area, as I already mentioned, getting the new Iraqi army started and the police. We will have restored, I think, many of our basic essential services and water and electricity and power to prewar levels, which is not much, by the way. I mean, in many ways, what we're dealing with here is an economy that was devastated not by war, but by...

SCHIEFFER: You think you'll have the electricity on and the water running in three months.

BREMER: The electricity is on. And the electricity will be at prewar levels within six to eight weeks, and we're confident about water as well. We will get it back.

KAY: there seems to be a lot of discussion in Washington this week about the need to internationalize the force that is in Iraq and try and get more of the international community to cooperate. How much does the bitterness that was created towards America in the prewar period make that harder?

BREMER: Well, you'd obviously have to ask the countries that you're alleging are bitter. I don't know the answer to that. But we've got 19 countries already with troops on the ground in Iraq.

KAY: But far fewer troops. The ratio of foreign troops to American troops is -- is like this.

BREMER: Yes. Well, we're the world's great power. We're going to have to keep having most of the responsibility with our British colleagues there. But we have 19 countries on the ground now. We have 37 countries that have pledged almost $3 billion in reconstruction assistance to the Iraqis. It's sort of a myth, I find as I walk around Washington, that we're doing this alone. We're not doing this alone. And, of course, we would welcome more assistance, and we'll get it.

SCHIEFFER: We heard a lot about weapons of mass destruction. Obviously, we haven't found any. Do you think what it will come down to is that we will find that they had a program to build weapons of mass destruction, or do you think they actually had weapons of mass destruction?

BREMER: Well...

SCHIEFFER: We know they did back a long time ago, but...

BREMER: Right. It's been, as you know, the consistent view of the last two administrations, both parties, all of the members of the Security Council that he had the programs.

SCHIEFFER: But talk about now.

BREMER: My belief is we will find evidence of programs in biological and chemical weapons when the job is done.

SCHIEFFER: But not necessarily the weapons themselves?

BREMER: Well, let's wait and see what the team comes up with. You've got 1,500 guys who are experts over there. I'm not an expert. I'll wait and see what they say.

SCHIEFFER: Ambassador Bremer, we want to thank you. You have, I would say, probably no one would question this, the hardest job in the world right now.

BREMER: Thanks.

SCHIEFFER: So we want to wish you the best.

BREMER: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Thanks so much.

BREMER: Thank you.

KAY: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: We're going to turn now, for another point of view, to Senator Bob Graham.

Senator Graham, of course, is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, which is why he's out in Des Moines, Iowa, today.

I would start, Senator Graham, by saying that you just heard Ambassador Bremer. What do you take away from that interview?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM, D-Florida: Well, first, I have very high regard for Ambassador Bremer. I have known him in a number of his previous capacities and I think he's an extremely able man and a wise choice for this assignment. I guess, as we see it from this side of the world, things are not quite as positive as the ambassador has outlined.

What are the things we know? We know that we are continuing to suffer casualties. We know that the head general for Central Command has now begun to describe this as a guerrilla war, which indicates a greater degree of coordination of attacks. We know that U.S. troops, which were scheduled to come home as early as this month, have now had their deployment in Iraq extended further. And Secretary Rumsfeld has said it's going to cost twice as much for this occupation of Iraq than had originally been projected. So we have some serious problems mixed in with the successes that the ambassador is indicating.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, you, of course, are a candidate for the Democratic nomination. But I want to focus mostly today on intelligence matters, because last year you were the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. That committee is coming out with a report this week. You did months of investigation. You were looking into what happened before 9/11, what happened after 9/11, could we have done a better job. Is this report going to put out the information that the American people need to know about that?

GRAHAM: Not completely. The report is approximately 800 pages long, but there are significant portions of the report which have been classified, meaning that they will not be available to the American people. I think in many of those most important sections, the classification had more to do with the agencies wishing to avoid embarrassment by the disclosure of their actions or inactions rather than the protection of some national security interests.

SCHIEFFER: So you're saying this morning that this administration and its intelligence agencies is keeping some of this information from the American people for -- what? -- for political reasons?

GRAHAM: Yes. The answer to the question is yes. And the reason, in my judgment, is not because they contain national security interests. One of the ironies is, in some portions of the report, the same information is declassified, but in other portions of the report, it's classified.

SCHIEFFER: Well, just give me some of the subjects that you think there ought to be more information about that's not being made public.

GRAHAM: Well, I think a key issue is the role of foreign governments in the events leading up to September the 11th, and then the response of the United States after September the 11th to those disclosures.

It's always been curious to me how 19 people, many of whom had very little previous affinity with the United States, several of whom did not speak English, could come into the United States, hide themselves for periods of 18 months or longer, plan, practice and then execute a very complicated terrorist attack without being disclosed.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you, I know that one of the things that the committee was probing was the connection between the Saudi royal family and some of their charities and whether, in fact, some of those charities were used to finance terrorist activities.

Is that in the report? Are we going to learn anything about that?

GRAHAM: Not much. The section that relates to the activities of foreign governments is the most classified section of the report, but I can say this; that the assistance of foreign governments did not end with their acquiescence in charities providing funding for terrorists, and...

SCHIEFFER: Well, when you say foreign governments, let's just put the cards on the table.

Are you talking about the Saudi royal family?

GRAHAM: Well, I do not want to take a detour to the federal penitentiary in my campaign for president, so I cannot confirm the foreign government, but I will say that that foreign government went well beyond facilitating charitable giving to terrorists. There was also direct governmental involvement with some of the terrorists, and an unanswered question is was the same assistance provided to the other 19 terrorists?

KAY: Senator, can we talk about the current weapons of mass destruction argument that has been brewing all week here in Washington?

It does seem from the latest reports that both the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency had serious doubts about this issue of whether Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake or uranium from Niger; yet it made it into the State of the Union address.

Does it seem to you then that there was somebody within the White House that may have wanted that information to get out there, even though the CIA and the State Department had their doubts about it?

GRAHAM: Well, let me first say I voted against the resolution that authorized war in Iraq, not because of the issues of Niger but because I thought it would take our focus away from the principal enemy to the people of the United States, al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups, and that is precisely what has happened. They have been allowed to regroup, regenerate, and now conduct a series of terrorist attacks in one of which seven Americans were killed.

As to the role of the White House in increasing the sense of the imminence of an attack by Saudi Arabia, the figure that is interesting to me is the vice president. The vice president is the one who went to the CIA on several occasions. He asked specifically for additional information on the Niger-Iraq connection. The United States sent an experienced ambassador, who came back after a full review with a report that these were fabricated documents. You cannot tell me that the vice president didn't receive the same report that the CIA received, and that the vice president didn't communicate that report to the president or national security advisers to the president.

SCHIEFFER: Well...

GRAHAM: So I have to believe that the president knew or should have known that this information had been classified as unreliable by the CIA.

SCHIEFFER: We're just about out of time, but one quick question. Did your committee find any connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda?

GRAHAM: No, certainly no connection as to the events of September the 11th, and very limited evidence as to other relations before or after September the 11th. In fact, there was an enmity between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein based on their quite different views of the future of the Islamic world.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Graham, thank you so much...

GRAHAM: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: ...for being with us. Good luck on the campaign trail.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Back in a minute with some roundtable talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: I want to talk a little with Katty Kay, the correspondent for the BBC. Well, your prime minister was here this week. He got a rounding -- a huge response to -- positive reception from the Congress. What did he get from it, though? Will this help him back home?

KAY: Yeah, there were jokes in Washington that we shouldn't be giving him a gold medal, we should be giving him a green card, and he should come over and run for office here in some capacity. He got a lot of applause out of that visit. It's not clear that he got very much else at all. He got a little bit of give on British prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. But the British people back at home would have liked Tony Blair to come back from Washington with all of the nine Brits who are on Guantanamo Bay coming back to Britain. He didn't get that.

But I think more than that there are a lot of questions in Britain about what has Tony Blair got out of this at all. Because there does seem to have been a slight disloyalty coming out of the White House. Here is your closest ally, and now we're blaming Britain for the British intelligence on all this question that we were talking about earlier about Niger, and that there's a lot of trans-Atlantic finger-pointing going on between Washington and London.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you about this intelligence report. We're now hanging it all on the British intelligence, this thing about Niger, but the British say they can't share where they got the information.

KAY: Yes, and we thought this relationship was so close that we knew everything that was going on between intelligence services in America.

SCHIEFFER: Well, who was this source? Do we know?

KAY: Well, I've been told by British officials that they had other human intelligence over the years that corroborated the fact that Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake from Africa, but there are also reports in London that, of course, that there is a third country and that's why we can't share it, and there are reports that it might have been the French. And, of course, they would be...

SCHIEFFER: The French?

KAY: ...a wonderful irony about the White House being spoon-fed French intelligence whilst refusing to eat french fries in Congress and having to -- do we have to call it now freedom intelligence? But whether it's the French or not, the British do say, and they stand by this, and Tony Blair stood by this adamantly last week, that this intelligence is correct. They have sources that do corroborate the fact that Iraq was trying to buy some kind of uranium from Africa.

SCHIEFFER: Now we have this British defense official, I suppose, that has now committed suicide. He was identified by your organization, the BBC, as being the source of the report, that perhaps the British had, in their words, sexed up the intelligence report. What would be the impact of that?

KAY: It's really changed things in Britain, the death of David Kelly. Here was Tony Blair in Washington getting this huge round of applause. Now the finger is being pointed at his government as conducting a witch-hunt against anyone who may have been talking to the press about intelligence.

SCHIEFFER: Katty, a pleasure to have you with us. Back in a minute.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: And finally today, not many former presidents would travel across the country on their 90th birthday just to spend some time with reporters who used to cover them, but that's exactly what Gerald Ford did last week, and it produced a scene at the National Press Club that was all too rare.

Mr. Ford said nice things about the reporters -- not many former presidents of any age would do that -- and the reporters said nice things about him, and this was not your usual hallelujah chorus. It included everyone from Bob Woodward, whose Watergate reporting brought down Richard Nixon, to the old Newsweek reporter Tom DeFrank, Time magazine's Hugh Sidey, the legendary Helen Thomas and even Phil Jones and that other guy from CBS.

Part of it, of course, is that Mr. Ford is 90. But I think there was more to it than that. You see, reporters always respected Mr. Ford because he actually listened to their questions and tried to answer them. He believed he owed that to the reporters because he believed the American people deserved an explanation for his actions. That attitude is so out of fashion now, it almost seems quaint.

These days PR advisers coach their public officials to develop two or three talking points and then recite them over and over and over no matter what the question, which works fine until the news turns bad, as the current administration is discovering.

It's getting to be a long time ago since politicians acted like Gerry Ford, and the new generation of public officials could learn a lot from him, but my guess is they won't.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face The Nation.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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