FTN – 8/24/03

face the nation logo, 2009 CBS

BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, can the U.S. control terrorism in Iraq? In the aftermath of the deadly car bomb attack on the UN compound, the U.S. military is struggling with the increase in terrorist attacks. Are the troops stretched too thin? Why won't other countries get more involved? And how long will we be there? We'll ask the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers. Then, we'll talk with former NATO Commander Wesley Clark and ask him what he would do and if he's still thinking of running for president. Tom Friedman just back from Baghdad will join us and I'll have a final word on foxholes. But first, terrorism in Iraq 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.

And we begin with General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He is in the studio with us, and joining in the questioning is Tom Friedman of The New York Times who is just back from Baghdad.

General, let me begin with this observation. Almost every visitor that comes away from Iraq these days, the latest being this bipartisan group of congressman and senators who were there, are saying the United States simply needs to put more people in there to get the job done that needs to be done, and yet, from any number of people at the Pentagon, you hear, `We don't need more troops.'

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: A couple of things, Bob. One is that the person that I rely on and the person that Secretary Rumsfeld relies on, the person the president relies on to make those calls would be General John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, who spends the majority of his time forward in theater, a large part of that inside Iraq, he's in constant communication with General Sanchez at our combined Task Force 7 in Baghdad and the division commanders.

To date, he has not asked for more U.S. forces. And when he does then, obviously, we'll consider that and our job is to provide him the resources he needs to get the job done.

SCHIEFFER: Well, as I understand him, what he is saying is, `We don't need more troops on the ground. We need better intelligence.' But I wonder about that because if you took any city in the United States where you had a crime wave and the mayor and police chief came out and said, `We don't need more cops on the street, we need more information on where the crooks are.' I'm not sure that would sell, and in that way, I wonder is he not asking for more troops because he knows the administration line is to hold the line?

MYERS: Absolutely not and that's -- Secretary Rumsfeld has said as much; I've said as much many times that whatever General Abizaid or our folks in Iraq or Afghanistan need, we're going to provide them those resources. Now it is a complex security situation.

There are over 50,000 Iraqis that are armed, that we have helped train, more coming online every day. They're going to help with the situation, and remember, it's important to put an Iraqi face on this, too. So the more that the Iraqi people can do to help themselves, the better off we're all going to be.

There's a very large international contingent already. This is an international solution both in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And we do want another third multinational division to come in. We've got the United Kingdom leading one. We've got Poland leading one. We'd like to have a third one come in and help us with that.

SCHIEFFER: Tom.

TOM FRIEDMAN, The New York Times: You know, General Myers, having just been there, one of the things that really strikes me is I'm not sure if we need more troops or not more troops, but one thing about the Iraqi component of this, the 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and police we're training -- one of the problems with them is that they don't report to any government. And so it's hard for them to really provide any security for people when they themselves aren't motivated.

What is happening with the effort to get an Iraqi government up and running.

MYERS: A little bit outside my lane obviously, but we do know that the interim Governing Council has stood up. We do know in the various provinces in the major cities that there are town councils set up that have been worked by our Army Civil Affairs folks and some of the Army leadership as well. They will continue to be at grass roots level to do that and to provide the structure with -- you're absolutely right-- the structure to hang, if you will, the security forces on to let them do the job, that that's all part of the process.

I just remind people, we've been at this now about five months of which over a month was major combat operations, but the situation is not even throughout the country. It's very uneven throughout the country. Some places going very well, other places more dangerous. Clearly, it's hard work...

SCHIEFFER: Sure.

MYERS: ...and we're about that.

FRIEDMAN: But just to follow up on Bob's point about troops, so if General Abizaid requested more troops, you said we'd have the resources to provide them. But what's striking when you're there is -- I'm not sure we need more troops per se. We need the right kind of troops. We need people who can speak Arabic. We need MPs. We need civilian affairs people who can help manage and interact with some of those town councils. What strikes me about our armed forces today is that's what we went to war without enough of.

MYERS: And if you look at --I was just in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last several weeks. Exactly what's happening and happening good in Afghanistan, for instance, is that we not only have conventional forces to look after the remnants of the Taliban and the al Qaeda, but we also have a large civil affairs presence in these provincial reconstruction teams with great success in terms of...

FRIEDMAN: But do we have enough for Iraq?

MYERS: And the same thing in Iraq. I just -- in fact, last night, I just talked to one of the sergeants of the 411th, which was right next to the UN compound. In fact, he was one of the ones who went -- once he took care of his wounds, went over and helped the UN personnel. They are doing wonderful work. It needs to be more than just the military piece of this. There are others who can help in that, others in the international community.

FRIEDMAN: That's what I'm saying. Do you need to reconfigure the armed forces under your leadership now given this task of nation building to have more of these other kind of troops?

MYERS: Well, that's a great question, Tom, and that's one of the things we're looking at in terms of we -- you -- you often hear that we're rebalancing between the active and the reserve component, because we want to make sure we have that balance right. Another piece of that is do we have the right -- the sufficient number of forces. Military police are in high demand today. Civil affairs personnel are in high demand today. As we look forward, do we think we're going to need more or less of those folks and should we do the right thing to bring more of them on board? That's a good question, and that analysis is working. We hope to have some of it reflected in our '05 budget that we go to Congress next winter.

SCHIEFFER: General, I must ask you about this report in The Washington Post this morning. It says that we're now recruiting members of Saddam Hussein's intelligence service -- it was always called the dreaded or the feared intelligence service -- to be spies for us. How is that going to work?

MYERS: I've seen the headline and the report, and I'm not aware of any effort like that.

SCHIEFFER: So you don't think that's true?

MYERS: Well, I'm just unaware of it, and I -- let me just -- the next part of that would be the United States will not use former members of these organizations that were part of the torture or the deaths, the degraded treatment of the Iraqi people under the Saddam regime. They're not going to be our allies in the future. They're finished and they are out of there. That does not mean we don't want the Iraqi people to help and it just has to be the right kind of Iraqi people helping.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you used the phrase and other commanders have used it about putting an Iraqi face on the security force there.

MYERS: You bet.

SCHIEFFER: But the reports we're getting that this attack on the UN headquarters was an inside job.

MYERS: Well...

SCHIEFFER: Isn't that going to be extremely difficult? I mean, I think you're probably right about that, but isn't that going to be a very difficult thing to do?

MYERS: Well, it's been several days since that attack, and I think we need to let the analysis continue and let the investigation proceed and finally see what it says, and when we know with some certainty what happened, then we'll have to deal with that. I don't know if that's true or false yet, and I don't think anybody does for sure.

SCHIEFFER: So at this point, you really don't know who caused this?

MYERS: I think we ought to just wait and let the investigation continue and we'll find out.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think it was foreign people who came and (unintelligible)?

MYERS: I don't know. I don't know. We do know that inside Iraq, you've got at least three elements that are causing disruption. You've got the criminals that were let go from the prisons by Saddam Hussein before conflict started, so there -- they have to be part of the violence we're seeing.

You've got the former regime loyalists that have been fighting. We've been very successful, by the way, against them. We've taken the fight to them. We've got good intelligence. When Saddam's two sons were killed, we saw a big spike and continue to see a big spike on people wanting to give us intelligence on where weapons caches are, where other ...

FRIEDMAN: General Myers, can I just ask one thing about the international force? Because a lot of debate now about whether we should have our allies come in and what role they would play. In Bosnia, we have an American commander and a European deputy. Seems to work pretty well. Would you think something like that could conceivably work in Iraq?

MYERS: Well, we'll have to look at that. That's currently right now as these multinational divisions come in, they're, in fact, under the combined Joint Task Force 7. Some of those nations have members as part of that Joint Task Force headquarters, so we're all tied in very well. Yes. We know how to do this, and the...

FRIEDMAN: Could do it -- we could do it in Iraq if the president so decided.

MYERS: That's correct. The command and control arrangements can be worked out. That's correct.

SCHIEFFER: I think we'd better stop there. Thank you so much, General.

MYERS: Thanks, Bob. Thanks, Tom.

SCHIEFFER: Good luck.

MYERS: Thank you very much.

SCHIEFFER: General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

And we go now to Little Rock, Arkansas, where former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark is standing by. General Clark, thank you for coming.

Let me ask you first: The general says that he believes they have enough people on the ground there. He says the force is fine. He says if the general on the ground in Baghdad thinks we need more troops, they'll meet that request. Do you think there are enough American troops or troops of any kind on the ground to handle the situation there?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander: Based on the reports that I receive, Bob, no. And I'll tell you just a couple of examples.

In the first place, apparently the Amman-to-Baghdad highway is not secure. Secondly, the borders are not secure. So if you were to ask the question a different way to the commander on the ground and say, `Look, I've got three more divisions ready to come in there. Are you ready to refuse them?' you probably would get a different response from this.

But the simple truth is, the United States Army is very, very hard stretched right now. It simply doesn't have the additional troops necessary, and it's trying to replace the troops that are in there, at least some of them, by this third multinational division so that it can have a rotation policy. Otherwise, we're going to run out of gas here in this policy by next summer.

SCHIEFFER: Well, now you still have sources in the Pentagon, obviously; you're a retired military officer. Has anyone suggested to you that the uniformed military has been told not to ask for more troops?

CLARK: No, I have not heard that, but then I have not asked that question, and I don't want to ask that question, Bob. I know the way these things work. And everybody knows up and down the line what's really available. So if there were a tactical emergency and Rick Sanchez or John Abizaid had to come forward and really ask for troops because of a tactical emergency, fine.

They don't see a tactical emergency. What they see is a grinding problem. And it's clear there's no encouragement for them to come and ask for more troops, and they read the tea leaves.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, also, quickly: Have you made a decision yet as to whether you're going to run for president?

CLARK: No, I have not.

SCHIEFFER: And when will you make that decision?

CLARK: Sometime in the next week or two.

SCHIEFFER: And why are you being so coy?

CLARK: It's not a matter of being coy. It's a matter of making a complete career transition. It's a matter of asking: Is this the right thing for my family? Is this the best way to make a contribution? Is this a serious effort or is this just an effort to sort of have a beauty contest? And what's it gong to be like, and what's the impact on the armed forces? What's the impact on the people I work with and my business community and so forth? So there are a lot of considerations here. This is not like, I would think, being already in an elected position and saying, `I'll just take a stab at moving one more step up the career ladder.' This is an entirely different matter. And so it's taking a lot of soul-searching and a lot of praying to get through this.

SCHIEFFER: OK. Tom?

FRIEDMAN: General Clark, you've run one of these multinational operations in Bosnia. The Pentagon under Don Rumsfeld is very reluctant to share authority in Iraq in any way.

Do you think, from your experience in Bosnia, there's a way to finesse this, to have a -- still a supreme allied American commander and a European deputy in a way that wouldn't turn out to be a multi-headed monster?

CLARK: Certainly, one can do that. There may be some intelligence sharing problems. There always are separate national channels of intelligence that never get fully revealed to allies. That's -- and they don't reveal everything to us, either. That's just the way it works in this business.

But yes, we know how to set up -- just as Dicky Myers said, we can set up that channel. The real issue, Tom, is: What's the overarching strategy in the country? Is it simply to grind the terrorists down, to, as the president said, bring 'em on and then we try to kill 'em one by one as they go after us? Is there some other strategy? And what is that strategy and how well are we executing it?

General Myers says it's a little beyond his authority, and yet this is an area that's coming up. Apparently, the Defense Department is completely in charge of this policy. We know there's been a problem getting State Department involved in it. And the issue here is: What is the strategy?

We've never gone through a nation-building process like this. We don't have the research facilities. We haven't done a year's or two years' war-gaming study of it, like we do for how to destroy an enemy's armed forces. And we're really doing this off the cuff.

And it seems to me that many of the issues you've raised many times are very obvious here. More interpreters -- why haven't we enlisted the Arab-American community? Why haven't we brought 20,000 fluent Arab speakers, Americans, over there to Iraq to help us? Why don't we have a supplemental appropriation that puts $50 billion on the table and moves ahead with the reconstruction needs? It really makes a dramatic difference. I think the thing here is we really need to grip this problem, level with the American people on the magnitude of it and move on with it and be successful.

FRIEDMAN: You're aware, again, from Bosnia, the capabilities the Europeans have in some of these nation-building projects. Do you think French troops, German troops, NATO troops, as NATO, not as individual contingents, could be helpful to us at this time?

CLARK: They can be helpful in taking the American troops out of the sectors where there's less of a threat but I just want to underscore something that General Myers implied here.

This is much more than a military problem. The military security, a secure environment, as we like to call it, is the fundamental. You have to have a political development strategy above it. For that we really need the legitimacy of the United Nations.

We need a UN mission in there. I'm just heartsick over the loss of Sergio Vieira de Mello. He was an outstanding individual. He was a great leader in the United Nations and in all of these crisis situations. We need him desperately right now. He needs to have the authority to put the pieces in place to move rapidly, not toward just an Iraqi face, but toward Iraqi self-government.

SCHIEFFER: General, let me give you a chance to -- I just want to get your comment, because you have been quoted -- or you have said on television, that after September 11th, almost immediately after September 11th, you received calls from what you described as `people around the White House' urging you at that time to link Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attack. Now subsequently I think you have said it was not somebody directly in the White House. Bu what exactly did you mean? Because that's a very -- fairly serious charge if...

CLARK: Well, Bob, you have to go back and look at exactly how that emerged with Tim Russert. But there was an effort from...

SCHIEFFER: Who?

CLARK: ... from -- there was an effort from within the White House and people around the White House that I learned about, subsequently, that took place immediately, starting on 9/11, that everybody quotes -- David Martin's got a copy of notes from one of Don Rumsfeld's aides. Rumsfeld says, `Roll the whole thing up. See if this is big enough so we can go after Saddam Hussein as well as Osama bin Laden.' And it sort of picked up momentum from there, as I understand it.

Now independently from that, at least as far as I know independently, I got a call on September 11th as I was broadcasting on CNN from Little Rock about the strikes, from a think tank in Canada, who also wanted me to blame Saddam Hussein. Said, `It has to be Saddam Hussein.' And I called back and said, `Why? I mean, tell me why is -- what's -- and he said, `Too big. Nobody could do this without state sponsorship. Has to be Saddam Hussein.'

So what I was trying to say on the Tim Russert show and what I think you'll see if you look back at the transcript and read it like this, there were lots of different people all coming, trying to reach the same conclusion, that Saddam Hussein was implicated, but the fact is there's no evidence, none, that shows he had any connection whatsoever to 9/11. None.

SCHIEFFER: All right. All right. Well, I think we'll end it there, General. Thank you very much, and I hope you'll call us when you decide what you're going to do about seeking the nomination. I take it you're going to run as a Democrat, am I correct in that?

CLARK: Thank you, Bob, and I will call you. Thank you very much.

SCHIEFFER: OK. Thanks a lot.

We'll be back with a little roundtable with Tom Friedman in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Well, we wanted to save just a little time to talk to Tom Friedman because he was just in Baghdad. You were there the week before this awful thing happened at the UN headquarters. In fact, you were in the headquarters numerous times...

FRIEDMAN: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: ...the week before this happened.

FRIEDMAN: I was, Bob, and, you know, listening to everything we've heard this morning, you know, one of the problems I see more clearly now that we have, you know -- not enough troops, it starts with what General Clark referred to: a big strategic conceptual problem. What are we doing there? I would say the administration prepared for this war, OK, and approached the postwar thinking we are there to rebuild Iraq, rebuild the army, rebuild the police, rebuild the government. Wrong.

We are there to build Iraq. This country fell apart in our hands.
They've kind of approached this war as though it was a broken vase and we're putting the pieces back together. No, no, no. We're mixing the mortar, we're putting it in the oven, we're painting it, OK? We are starting from absolute scratch. And I think it's not understanding that it isn't just tinkering and get a few Iraqis here -- has really been the source of a lot of our problem. And not understanding that to build Iraq, you don't just need a tank on a corner. You go around the streets of Baghdad and sure you see a tank on a corner. But, man, if you're some Iraqi, you know, walking down the street, is the guy gonna climb down from that tank and stop that robber? I was robbed driving out of the country, you know. You got Iraqi police on the street, but they're not armed. In a place like Iraq, someone's not carrying a gun, I mean, no one's gonna respect you at all.

And I think we have to step back and understand we are building this country. That means we do need people who speak Arabic. We do need MPs, military police, on the ground. And we need civil affairs people by the thousands. General Myers alluded to, they're now studying, you know, whether to reconfigure armed forces to get us that package of people we need. But we do not have them now.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you and I were talking before the broadcast, and I was struck by something you said. We were talking to General Myers about porous borders. Are these people coming in from across the border? And you told me that at the checkpoint coming in from Jordan, you drove in -- it's a 12-hour drive that you had to -- there were only two American soldiers at the checkpoint?

FRIEDMAN: There's two American soldiers and a couple desultory Iraqi border guards basically that were just brought on duty, one of the Americans told me, because their predecessors were taking bribes from everybody. So on the one hand, you know, you listen to what the Pentagon and the White House says. `This -- we can't find the WMD because this place is the size of California.' And on the other hand, they say, `Oh, we only need this many troops.' Well, either it's the size of California and we now broke it and we own it and we better put police on every corner, or it's not. And I think it is.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Tom Friedman.

I'll be back in just a minute with a final word.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, last Sunday I took a swipe at the political leaders who were playing the blame game over who was at fault for the blackout, while the people who were caught in the blackout were putting politics aside and just helping each other cope. I remarked that a long time ago someone said that in wartime, there are no atheists in foxholes. And I reckoned that there were no partisan Republican or partisan Democrats in a crowded subway car stalled underground in pitch-black darkness.

Well, I did not hear from any partisan politicians, but I did hear from scores of atheists, two of whom said they were in the military serving in Baghdad. In various and in no uncertain terms they reminded me that freedom of religion also means the right not to believe and they said my remark unfairly challenged the sincerity of their views.

I am a believer and that is central to my life, but they are correct. They have every right to their belief and I would never challenge their sincerity. On this one, we all come to the table with equal expertise. So to all of you who took offense, I can only say that none was intended and I regret a poor choice of words.

Well, let me amend that slightly. I direct those words to all who wrote, except the guy who capped his criticism by calling me a `doddering old retard.' He has my personal invitation to stuff it.

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

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

Comments

Follow Us

Face on Twitter