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President Bush Set to Address Nation Sunday

Aired September 5, 2003 - 20:01   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: When a U.S. president asked the networks for some time to address the nation from the White House, we expect to see him in his role as leader, not necessarily as politician. So what sort of speech will we see on Sunday from Mr. Bush?
Our sources tell us the president has told Republican leaders on Capitol Hill he will stage a very aggressive, campaign-style effort to explain the U.S. mission in Iraq. So will the speech be policy or politics or maybe a little bit of both?

CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is with the president who is visiting Indianapolis.

Hard sometimes to separate policy from politics, isn't it, Suzanne?


What's going to happen is, that speech is going to be given about 8:30 in the evening Eastern time from the White House residence. We're told it will last about 15 minutes. The president is going to give an update on the war on terror, but specifically talk about the progress and what needs to go forward in terms of Iraq.

Now, we asked White House spokesman Scott McClellan why at this time, why the timing of all this. He says, of course, the president thought that it was time for the American people to be updated on this, that the time was right. But you have to realize the political context of all of this as well. The United States is trying to win support for another U.N. Security Council resolution to get broader international support inside of Iraq for reconstruction.

Also, the Democratic presidential candidates have been hitting the president very hard on this issue, starting with yesterday's debate, their first debate, criticizing him very heavily on the policy with Iraq. And also, there have been some Republicans who have been calling for the president to come forward to address the American people, to be honest about what is necessary in moving forward the resources, the soldiers, the troops, and that type of thing, and all of this in light of the fact that, yes, you have had a major bombing at the Jordanian Embassy, a bombing at U.N. headquarters, and the loss of soldiers almost on a daily basis.

But McClellan saying that the president had been thinking about this for some time. He had been talking with his national security team over the summer at his Crawford ranch, both through video teleconference, as well as some meetings with Secretary Powell and Secretary Rumsfeld, and that it was just last week, when he addressed the American Legion, that he started to seriously consider, yes, he needed to go forward to the American people. and today he made that decision to do just that -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Thanks very much, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux in Indianapolis.

As we said, you can see the president's address to the nation live here on CNN, of course. We invite you to tune in 8:30 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.

The man who has been the United States' top cop in Iraq is walking off the beat. While it is reportedly no surprise Bernard Kerik, the New York police commissioner, is leaving, there are lingering questions about who is next in line for a very, very tough job. Kerik's successor will have to continue the task of incorporating former Iraqi police and Army personnel into a new security force that is cohesive.

Robert Orr is an expert in postconflict reconstruction. He is currently executive director of Harvard University's Belfer Center For Science and International Affairs. He joins us now from Watertown, Massachusetts.

Good to have you with us, Dr. Orr.


O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Bernard Kerik's tenure, first of all. How did he do?

ORR: Bernie Kerik is a good man who has fought the good fight. But we still do not have a significant Iraqi police force. And there is a huge need to enhance that force.

O'BRIEN: Well, given that, maybe it is an inopportune time for him to be leaving.

ORR: It would seem a rather inopportune time. In fact, right now is when we should be ramping up the building of the Iraqi police force. And Secretary Rumsfeld has been talking about doing that. So it is a little bit of a surprise to see him stepping down right now.

O'BRIEN: Is there perhaps a subtext of some frustration that we're not hearing about just yet?

ORR: I think the -- there is no question that building an Iraqi police force involves frustrations on a daily basis. And when I met with him in Iraq weeks ago, certainly, he had his share of those. But there was no indication at that time that he was planning to go anywhere.

O'BRIEN: Give us a sense of what your meeting was like with him. What was he saying? ORR: He's working -- was working very actively on trying to build up a training program that would get a pipeline of Iraqi officers out on the street, a national police force.

That, I think, is a tough effort, because the policing is -- the needs are at all the local levels around the country. And trying to build up a national force from Baghdad behind the concertina wire is maybe not the easiest way to go about it.

O'BRIEN: It is hard for those of us sitting here in the United States, I think, to get a real handle on how difficult this problem is. Is there any way you give us an analogy to give us a sense of the scale of the problem and the task at hand there?

ORR: Well, we hear here in the United States about 20 attacks on U.S. soldiers a day.

The Iraqi people are going through much worse every day. Women are still afraid to go out on the streets in the capital city of Baghdad. People all head home before sundown, because it is not safe after sundown. This is in their capital city. And it leads to a lot of tempers and frustration on the part of Iraqis, which means, whenever an Iraqi policeman or an American policeman goes to engage the population on any simple issue, it leads to some difficult situations.

O'BRIEN: How would a more multinational presence there perhaps alleviate some of these problems? If the United Nations were there in stronger force and assisting in security matters such as this, would it make a big difference?

ORR: It would make a difference.

We need more Iraqi police on the street and more Iraqi forces, but we also need more international forces. When I spoke with some of the American forces on the ground there about this issue, they said, we probably need to do joint patrols with the Iraqis for about two years before they will truly be ready to do this on their own.

We do not have enough police in this country that we can spare to send to Iraq to do joint patrols for the next two years. It would be nice to have some Europeans and other internationals that could do those joint patrols along with the Iraqis.

O'BRIEN: All right, Robert Orr is the executive director of the Belfer Center at Harvard University, an expert on these matters.

Thanks very much for being with us. We appreciate it.

ORR: Thank you, Miles.


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