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Condoleezza Rice Defends Iraq Strategy In Senate Hearing; President Bush Taking Fire From All Sides Over Plan To Send More Troops To Iraq; Defense Secretary Robert Gates Signs Deployment Orders For More Troops To Iraq; Chris Dodd Interview; Tony Snow Interview; Fourteen Members Of Carter Center's Advisory Board Resign
Aired January 11, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you tonight's top stories.
Happening now -- President Bush tries to rally the troops and the public behind his new Iraq strategy while more of his fellow Republicans break ranks -- tonight, the harsh criticism and the skepticism about a buildup of the war.
Also this hour, anxiety in the trenches -- service men and women speaking out about their new marching orders and whether reinforcements will actually make a difference in Iraq.
And an open revolt against a former president known as a peace maker -- Jimmy Carter faces more criticism of his book and allegations his views on the Middle East conflict are -- and I'm quoting now -- "malicious".
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, President Bush is taking fire from all sides over his plan to send more troops to Iraq. On Capitol Hill, key members of the president's war team took the heat for him today, getting an earful from angry Republicans, as well as Democrats. Mr. Bush was far from the human cry here in Washington. On this day, after the big Iraq speech, he went to Ft. Benning, Georgia to try to sell his plans to the troops and to a very skeptical public.
Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is standing by, so is Brian Todd.
Let's go to Capitol Hill, first, our correspondent, Dana Bash with more on the uproar that's developing in Congress -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president's Iraq plan did take a pounding here on Capitol Hill today and you may be surprised to hear who his biggest critics were.
BASH (voice-over): From the moment she sat down, unrelenting criticism.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I believe the president's strategy is not a solution, Secretary Rice. I believe it's a tragic mistake.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: I have not been told the truth. I have not been told the truth over and over again by administration witnesses. And the American people have not been told the truth.
BASH: Across the Capitol, the secretaries of state and defense came to sell the president's Iraq plan and were greeted with hostility and exasperation, what was unprecedented, how scornful Republicans were.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: This speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out.
BASH: Republicans who think Mr. Bush is flat wrong to send more troops into what they call a deepening civil war.
SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R-OH), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: We don't want any more of our young men and women killed in a civil war between two groups that ultimately are never going to come together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've gone along with the president on this. And I bought into his dream. And I -- at this stage of the game, I don't think it's going to happen.
BASH: Republicans who say increasing U.S. troop levels has been tried before.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I'm not convinced, as I look to the plan that the president presented yesterday, that what we're seeing is that much different than what we have been doing in the past.
BASH: And Republicans joining Democrats and questioning whether the Iraqi prime minister can or will do what it takes to stabilize his country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just have my doubts the Iraqis will show up. The track record isn't there.
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: If at the end of the day, they don't keep the commitments that they have made to us, as I indicated before, we would clearly have to relook at the strategy.
BASH: Under heated questioning from lawmakers, including five presidential hopefuls who sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bush lieutenants were forced to admit there are no guarantees this latest plan will work.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: What leverage do we have that would provide us some assurance that six months from now, you will not be sitting before us again, saying, well, it didn't work.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, Senator, the leverage is that we're not going to stay married to a plan that's not working in Baghdad.
BASH: Not one of the 21 senators who sit on the Foreign Relations Committee, including 10 Republicans, came out in favor of the president's Iraq plan today. He got a little bit more support in the House. And to be sure, there are some Republicans senators who have said that they are going to support Mr. Bush on this.
But it is an early indicator, Wolf, of the Democrats and the success they might have when they put opposition to the president's plan on the floor of the House and Senate and a resolution. We expect that in the next couple of weeks.
BLITZER: The president in deep trouble on Capitol Hill, Dana. Thank you very much for that.
The president also saying the extra force will finally secure Baghdad. But each of those service men and women will face the same dangers that have led to the growing U.S. casualty count now topping 3,000 dead.
Our Brian Todd spoke with some of those who were recently on the ground. And you picked up this information, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these soldiers gave us an idea of what security in Baghdad is really going to take going block by block, sometimes, inch by inch, in a city of six million people.
TODD (voice-over): From the top, the new mission is to clear and secure Baghdad's deadliest neighborhoods. How's that gone so far...
GATES: The clearer part of the operation went fairly well and fairly smoothly. The problem is that there were insufficient forces, both Iraqi and American, for the hold phase.
TODD: John Powers (ph) and Garett Reppenhagen know something about clearing and holding a city. For a year in Baghdad, Powers patrolled the streets looking for insurgents, his Army unit depicted in the film "Gunner Palace" (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down now.
TODD: Reppenhagen, a former Army scout and sniper has a descriptive phase for the year he spent in Baquba going house to house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What call it is it's an... (CROSSTALK)
TODD: And that's only if you get to a house. Try getting past the roadside bombs first.
GARETT REPPENHAGEN, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Sometimes they're in trash. They'll hide them in animal carcasses. They'll hide them in trees or on light posts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me something pretty mind blowing about just (INAUDIBLE). What do they do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. One of the things we learned to identify is that they would make false curbs, have an IED built into the curb, so as you are going down the street, you had to find that difference in the curb, otherwise it may explode.
TODD: Best to avoid use any vehicles, they say, too easy to get trapped. When attacked from a building, Reppenhagen says soldiers have to counter with overwhelming fire, take out the target, then clear the entire building. It can take hours.
In one chaotic exchange, he describes firing back against a sniper in a building, having to take out another man who is rushing in and out to deliver him ammunition. At one point, that man took cover behind a car. His unit, he says, lit up the car then looked inside.
REPPENHAGEN: There were three innocent kids that were hiding in the car. Not aware that you know there was going to be a battle in Baquba that day and all three of them were killed.
TODD: Just a snapshot of what U.S. and Iraqi forces will continue to go through in the months ahead, when I asked Powers and Reppenhagen if 21,000 more U.S. troops plus Iraqis are enough for those urban (ph) operations, they said there really is no right amount for that kind of fighting -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Baghdad, a city of six million and a lot of that is going to be house to house fighting, the most dangerous warfare out there. Thanks, Brian, for that.
Meanwhile, new details emerging, which military units will be part of the new deployment. The Pentagon announcing it will include troops from bases in Georgia, and North Carolina, Kansas and Washington State. Other units will have their tours of duty extended.
Let's go over to the White House now where the president's mission to sell the nation on his new war plan is far from being accomplished. We'll check in with our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, of course, it's the big sale, many people aren't buying it, but President Bush believes in this strategy and he believes an Iraqi leader who is an integral part of it.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): It was classic White House stage craft. The president surrounding himself with U.S. troops to deliver the opening line of his sales pitch.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is why we must and we will succeed in Iraq.
MALVEAUX: Earlier at the White House he presented a Medal of Honor to a fallen Marine. While some of the men and women here are from Fort Benning, Georgia will soon be deployed to Baghdad as part of Mr. Bush's troop increase, it will be the Iraqis who will be taking the lead on the battlefield. At least that's what Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has promised Mr. Bush.
ANDREW CARD, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Maliki must pass the test.
MALVEAUX: Former chief of staff Andy Card has seen this president size up world leaders.
CARD: He's very comfortable in conversation with these people. It's not scripted. He doesn't read from cards. He also speaks very candidly with him, sometimes not using the words of diplomacy.
MALVEAUX: Many see the president's investment in Maliki as a leap of faith. The Iraqi leader has promised but failed to deliver on numerous pledges including providing more Iraqi troops. But White House insiders say Mr. Bush regained confidence in Maliki, after the Iraqi leader personally assured him during a private call last week that he'd follow through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has presented him with a real challenge and I don't think that Maliki appreciated the challenge until the president really kind of laid it on him.
MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush calls himself a gut player, confident in his intuition which has had mixed results. For British Prime Minister Tony Blair, there was an immediate bond, when they discovered they shared the same toothpaste.
BUSH: Well, we both use Colgate toothpaste.
MALVEAUX: For Russia's Vladimir Putin, it was the gaze into his eyes that revealed his character.
BUSH: And I looked the man in the eye, I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.
MALVEAUX: For Maliki there was an exchange during their first meeting in Baghdad that established trust. BUSH: I've come to Maliki, to look you in the eye, and I've also come to tell you that when America gives its word it will keep its word.
CARD: He really looks into them to find out whether or not they have the resolve to be a strong leader and the courage to be lonely as a leader.
MALVEAUX: But just three months later, there was serious doubt whether Maliki had that courage. In November when President Bush traveled to Jordan to meet with Maliki, he was initially stood up, after a memo from his national security adviser was leaked, questioning Maliki's competence.
BUSH: Now is the time to act. The prime minister understands this.
MALVEAUX: And, of course, Wolf, as you know, President Bush tying his legacy, his presidency to Maliki's competency -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It won't take long to see if he can deliver Nuri al- Maliki. Thanks very much, Suzanne, for that. Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Guess who will be the new fall guy if this latest idea doesn't work?
BLITZER: Nuri al-Maliki?
CAFFERTY: It won't be President Bush. Can you spell "setup"? President Bush insisted in last night's speech that quote, "failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States". He said it could lead to a chaos throughout the Middle East. Create a launching pad for attacks in this country and embolden Iran in its request for nuclear weapons.
The president made it sound like the only risk of failure lies somewhere ahead. Really, what about the 3,019 U.S. troops who have been killed? Twenty thousand more who have been seriously wounded since the start of the war or the 23,000 Iraqi civilians who have died just in the last year alone there? Or the four million Iraqis who have been displaced since the U.S. invaded or the nearly half a trillion American dollars that have been squandered there?
I want to read you part of a "New York Times" editorial. This is this morning's paper. Quote, "the disaster is Mr. Bush's war, and he has already failed. Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation, and he didn't take it. This war has reached the point that merely prolonging it could make a bad ending even worse. Without a real plan to bring it to a close, there's no point in talking about jobs programs and military offenses. There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq" -- unquote.
So here's the question -- what's the definition of "failure" in Iraq? E-mail your thoughts on that to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that.
Coming up, he wants your support. That would be Senator Chris Dodd. The Connecticut Democrat has set his eyes on the ultimate prize of the U.S. government. I'll ask the senator why you should vote for him and just what he thinks about Iraq.
Also, book backlash, some people who have been advisers to Jimmy Carter hand in their pink slips. There are new developments in this controversy. We're going to tell you why 14 people are so angry at the former president right now.
And Hollywood will have to make room for a new mega celebrity couple. He's an international sports star. They're both global sex symbols. We're going to tell you why L.A. beckons the Beckhams.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: When it comes to running for president, why explore the possibilities when you can simply jump right in? That's what Senator Chris Dodd is doing. The Connecticut Democrat is skipping an exploratory committee and going straight to a presidential run.
Joining us now Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut; he announced he wants to be the president of the United States. We're going to get to that shortly, Senator. First, let's talk about Iraq, the president's speech last night. Listen to what your Democratic colleague, Russ Feingold said earlier today about this war. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: And now Congress must use its main power, the power of the purse, to put an end to our involvement in this disastrous war. And I'm not talking here only about the surge escalation. It is time to use the power of the purse to bring our troops out of Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Are you with him on that?
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well I think we need a change in policy. And I'd certainly be willing to use the power of the purse to help us change direction and a different mission for our troops there. I would not be prepared to the cut off funding to our troops on the ground in Iraq, even though I disagree on the surge. I think we ought to be voting on that before they go rather then have them on the ground there and then cutting off the resources for them.
I think it's a huge mistake, this escalation. But we ought to deal with that early on and I hope we do for this matter. There's been a new direction in Iraq, a new rationale. It's not weapons of mass destruction. There are no visions of mushroom clouds. It's now a different proposal we have. We ought to have a chance to debate that and vote on it before it happens.
BLITZER: You want another resolution. What about what Senator Kennedy...
DODD: I like that idea...
BLITZER: As far as additional troops...
DODD: That's what I'm...
BLITZER: ... using the power of the purse to avoid funding their deployment?
DODD: I agree with that. You might want to change it a little bit here and there, but I love the thrust of that. I think it makes a lot of sense. Listen, the American public voted for change on November 7. Democrats are in control.
They're going to want to know why, on this, the most -- one of the most important issues before the country, certainly the debate last fall, why we're not capable of bringing this up at this juncture and insisting upon a debate and a vote. If you're for the surge or the escalation, then you have a chance to talk about it and vote for it. If you think it's a bad idea, you can do the opposite.
BLITZER: Have you lost total confidence in the Bush/Cheney policies as far as Iraq is concerned?
DODD: I was terribly disappointed last night. The president set the premise of what I thought offer of an opportunity for a new direction. He started out by saying, look, this is not working. This policy has failed in many ways. And I accept responsibility.
I thought that was the right thing for the president to do. He then said the second thing; the Iraqis really have to take responsibility for what's going to happen now. Many of us have been saying that for the last several years. That set the premise it seemed to me for him to say, and as a result of that, we're going to try a new direction here.
I'm going to send a permanent representative to the region on a constant basis around the clock to be there as long as it takes, to get the politics and diplomacy working. We're then going to have our troops do three things -- border security, training troops, guarding the infrastructure in the country so the Iraqis have an opportunity for a better life.
But we're not going to be involved in trying to sort out 23 different militias operating in Baghdad, Shia on Shia, Shia on Sunni, Baathist insurgents, al Qaeda -- that's the Rubik's Cube that we can't sort out militarily. BLITZER: You know he hates the idea that you and several of your colleagues recently showed up in Damascus, in effect, giving comfort to Bashar Assad, the leader of Syria.
DODD: That was highly comfort. Any more than I think that Henry Kissinger or Richard Nixon were giving comfort to Mao Zedong when they went to China or presidents of all political parties went to the Soviet Union for many years, trying to resolve differences between two enemies. I went there to find out whether or not we could get any cooperation...
DODD: I did. In fact...
BLITZER: Is he ready to cooperate...
DODD: Well, members of the American Embassy were there who kept the notes. I talked to Condoleezza Rice before I left, talked to her when I came back. Let me tell you what Assad said to me in a three and a half-hour conversation. I said to him what sort of Iraq do you want? He said I want a secular Arabic -- Arab country, a secular state.
The last thing I want is a Shia-Iranian-fundamentalist state on my border. Now he said it in English, in a private meeting inside his offices. But we ought to test that. We ought to find out how serious he is about that. And if we do that I think there's an opportunity -- remember, this is the first time they have embassies now exchanging ambassadors, ministers between Baghdad and Damascus. They did that on their own, not with our approval, by the way.
BLITZER: Let's talk about your big announcement today.
BLITZER: You're running for president of the United States. First of all, have you discussed this, have you had a conversation with your Democratic colleague from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman?
BLITZER: Does he support you?
DODD: He's not taking a position yet and look, we're great friends. We had a bit of a difficulty last summer and fall with his race as an independent, but I was the chairman of Joe's campaign nationally for president. I nominated him when he ran for vice president.
We have a good relationship, a good friendship. We disagree on some issues. This being one, on the Iraqi issues, this escalation. And in time, I'm hopeful Joe will be supportive, but he's going to take his time. I didn't ask him for his support. I'm sure it will work out. BLITZER: Why should Democrats vote for you as opposed to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John Edwards, some of the other main Democratic potential candidates?
DODD: Well, that's a question obviously voters themselves are going to have to answer down the road if it goes that far, as I'm hopeful it will. In the meantime, let me just say this. I like all of these people. I talked with all of them yesterday and let them know what I was going to do today...
BLITZER: Including Barack Obama?
DODD: Yes, I did absolutely and those who were thinking about it, those -- and I missed one I couldn't reach.
BLITZER: Who's that?
DODD: John Edwards. I tried to find him, but he was -- I didn't get a hold of him. He's on a plane somewhere in California today. And the point I wanted to make is this. Look, I think there's a sense of urgency in the country. Everybody understands that. You don't need to hear that from me.
There's a desperate cry for leadership in the country. People want to know an optimistic message about how we get back on track at home and abroad. They want to know that you've got the experience to come up with good solutions for major problems like energy, healthcare, education, foreign policy.
BLITZER: Senator Chris Dodd speaking with me earlier. Still ahead tonight right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a U.S. operation in Iraq is stirring controversy and condemnation, we'll delve deeper into the still unfolding story of what Iran is calling a kidnapping by American soldiers.
And a reservist vents his reservations about the president's new war plans in Iraq.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Even as President Bush was warning that the United States would be putting more pressure on Syria and Iran not to interfere in Iraq, U.S. troops seized six Iranians in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil. The Kurdish regional government there is demanding the immediate release of the detainees saying they have diplomatic immunity. And the Iranian government is simply calling it a kidnapping.
Let's go live to our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. He's watching all of this for us. Jamie, what's this raid all about?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is another case where the U.S. military believes based on intelligence that these Iranians in Iraq were up to no good. In fact, they suspect they may have been aiding in the attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces. Six of them were detained. One has subsequently been released.
The other five are still being held, while they look at the evidence on computers and other things that they seized. But the United States believes that Iran is complicit in some of the attacks in Iraq and they're not going to let something like a diplomatic passport get in the way of arresting people that they think are responsible for those attacks.
BLITZER: When the president last night said that the United States will, quote, "seek out and destroy Iranian networks." Based on the reporting and the information you're getting, what does he mean? Will the U.S. actually go across the border to seek out these so- called Iranian networks?
MCINTYRE: Well, you know they're not ruling that out. And a lot of the activity is across the border. So it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. But what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today when she was asked about this during testimony on Capitol Hill is that they believe they can dismantle these networks inside Iraq without having to cross the border.
That's the intention of the president's directive, to put more pressure on these networks, not just from Iran, but also from Syria. But, again, she specifically refused to rule out any sort of cross border action. Simply saying that wasn't the intention at this time.
BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre. Thanks for that.
And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Happening now, the defense secretary outlines a plan to add 92,000 more troops to the U.S. military over the next five years. Robert Gates says 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines are needed. The defense secretary saying the Pentagon will try to reach that goal in a number of ways.
Also, the House of Representatives votes to increase funding for controversial research on stem cells, including those taken from human embryos -- the vote, 253-174. The White House says the measure supports the destruction of human life. And President Bush vetoed an identical bill last year.
And it's a very high honor. Democrats pick the mile high city to host its 2008 convention. Denver beat out other cities like New York. The Democratic Convention will begin August 25 of next year. We'll be there.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Now that President Bush has announced his new Iraq strategy, he finds himself on a collision course with Congress and with the views of many, many Americans. It's the latest example of this commander in chief following his own path no matter how lonely it might get.
Let's turn to our chief national correspondent, John King. John?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, after the elections last November, Democrats said the president should reach out to them in coming up with a new Iraq policy. The Iraq Study Group said Mr. Bush should reach out to Syria and to Iran. But yet again, a president who believes that history and time will prove him right is doing things his way.
KING (voice-over): He was on shaky ground to begin with and made his choices knowing it would leave him even more isolated.
KEN DUBERSTEIN, FORMER REAGAN CHIEF OF STAFF: It's a lonely road. George Bush thinks he's on the right path. This is very uphill. This is a lonely walk.
KING: In what Mr. Bush and his team describe as a bold new strategy, critics see stubborn defiance. Ignoring evidence past troupe surges haven't worked and ignoring the message war-weary voters sent last November.
BRUCE BUCHANAN, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: He's been willing to ignore the will of the people, perhaps more than any modern president, certainly on this issue. We could be headed for a constitutional crisis. It kind of depends on how determined the Congress is to push back.
KING: In trademark Bush style, he defied his critics and upped the ante, not only ordering more troops to Iraq, but vowing, key operational shifts will include new efforts to counter Iranian and Syrian action that threatens coalition forces.
Such talk alarmed some in Congress.
BIDEN: Let me say that again: explicitly denies you the authority to go into Iran.
KING: The administration, though, says it has no intention of widening the conflict.
GENERAL PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We can take care of the security for our troops by doing the business we need to do inside of Iraq.
KING: Another key tactical shift raising eyebrows is a plan to remobilize the National Guard, which most governors oppose.
And, most of all, critics cite the promise of bold new steps by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the same prime minister the president's national security adviser described in a recent classified memo as unwilling or unable to make the necessary tough choices.
BUCHANAN: Bush really has no choice. He has bet on that horse, and now he's stuck with him. In his mind, his main audience now is history, rather than current opinion. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: The one area where the president is get some credit, even from some Democrats, Wolf, is for being more contrite last night, for acknowledging past mistakes and for accepting responsibility for them. But it's an interesting dynamic.
Some say that contrition will help Mr. Bush out in the country with the American people. But here in Washington, it is used this way: many of the president's critics say an administration and a president that got so much so wrong can't be trusted now to get it right.
BLITZER: John, thank you for that.
John King reporting.
With determined opposition from Democrats, a revolt in the Republican ranks and skepticism from a war-weary public, President Bush certainly has a very tough job selling this plan to send more American troops to Iraq. But can he pull it off?
Joining us now from the White House, the Press Secretary Tony Snow.
Tony, thanks very much for coming in.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: My pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: The president seems to be losing a lot of support -- forget about the Democrats -- but from his Republican base. Some of the senators, who in the last day or so have come out against his troop increase proposal: Sam Brownback, Norm Coleman, Susan Collins, Chuck Hagel, Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, George Voinovich. These are good foot soldiers in your battle. What's going on?
T. SNOW: Well, these are people who have also disagreed with the president on other things, Wolf. You know, what I think is happening is we're at the beginning of a process now where people are going to take a look at a comprehensive plan. What a lot of people have done is said, "OK, we don't want troops going in."
And so they look at that one piece. What we're saying to the American public is, "Look at all of the pieces. See how it all works together."
This is not just Americans going in on their own. As a matter of fact, what we've said to the Iraqis is, "You've got to be in the lead on everything."
That includes military operations. That includes putting up money for economic development. The Iraqis have committed $10 billion in the last week. That includes going after everybody. In the last two days, Prime Minister Maliki not once, but twice, has talked about Muqtada al Sadr and the Mehdi Army and the fact that you cannot have people operating outside the law.
I think a lot of Americans want to succeed in Iraq. And they want to know how we intend to succeed. The top line about you whether you want troops or don't want troops I think over time is going to take a back seat to a more thoughtful debate about how all these pieces fit together.
The other thing is, we understand that people are going to disagree. We understand that people are skeptical about the Iraqis. And we're also perfectly willing to entertain better ideas. So if people say they want to succeed in Iraq, then OK, if you don't like our idea, you've got a better one, we want to hear it.
BLITZER: Here's -- the president last night in his speech spoke of U.S. troops going in to deal with, in his words, "a vicious cycle of sectarian violence."
Other people saying it's already a civil war. The former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, now the ranking member, John Warner, he asked this question in the "Boston Globe" today: "Young men and women of U.S. forces and coalition forces should not be caught in the crossfire of the civil war prompted by who should have succeeded Mohammed in -- what is it -- 650 A.D."
To a lot of your critics, including Republicans, it looks like you're sending these U.S. troops into a no-win situation.
T. SNOW: Well, there are a couple of things to take into account, Wolf. Number one: you have precedent of Shia and Sunni living side by side, and you've got mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad itself.
The second thing is, if again, you take as your benchmark one is to succeed in Iraq, how do you do it? And the thing we've said is put Iraqis in the lead, make sure that you've got enough muscle to clear out violent neighborhoods, to hold them, and also to inject capital so you've got economic opportunity so people have jobs and they can build good lives. That's common sense.
And again, all we're inviting people to do is to take a look at it. I think there's been a lot of skepticism, Wolf, about whether the government of Nouri al-Maliki is going to step forward. We believe it is. And we're going to find out pretty soon because the Iraqis are supposed to dispatch a full brigade of troops into Baghdad by the 1st of February, another two brigades by the 15th.
See, the way the Baghdad security plan works is the Iraqis get there first, we provide support in much smaller numbers, by the way, the Americans. And the whole purpose is to be effective with them in the lead.
BLITZER: So the first test will really be if he and his troops go in and take on Muqtada al Sadr, the Madhi Army, this radical young Shiite cleric there, if they really deal with him in Sadr City. That's going to be a test and we should know the answer fairly soon? T. SNOW: Well, I don't know. You're going to have to ask people who are doing military operations. The Iraqis are going to be in the lead.
But it is important to go after people who going ahead and committing acts of violence, no matter what their sect, now matter whether they're Shia, Sunni, Kurd, you name it. The fact is if they're in there trying to kill innocent people, trying to disrupt the democracy, trying to create a war, then, yes, it's going to be important to go after them. And the key is that the Iraqi government has to be even-handed in doing that.
BLITZER: Are you sure you're happy? You gave up that radio and TV gig for this?
T. SNOW: I love it. It's rewarding. I'm working for a guy I love and admire. And you know, these are important issues, Wolf. And anything I can do to get people thinking about all parts of it, well, that's my job and I enjoy doing it.
BLITZER: He's got a tough job.
Tony Snow at the White House, thanks very much for coming in.
T. SNOW: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: And just ahead, we'll hear from a U.S. military reservist unsettle by the president's new Iraq strategy. Will he be called to serve again and to fight again?
Mass resignations in protest of that controversial new book by former President Jimmy Carter. There are new developments tonight. We're going to show you who's cutting ties with the Carter Center and why.
Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: There's new fallout tonight from the controversy over former President Jimmy Carter's latest book, which is highly critical of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. More than a dozen people now, part of an he advisory board in the Carter Center in Atlanta, are resigning in protest.
Let's turn to CNN's Carol Costello. She's in New York. She has details -- Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I just talked to Steve Berman, one of the people who resigned from the Carter Center. And he is hot. He told me Jimmy Carter has lost his moral compass. He is so angry he and the others are hoping other board members will walk out on Carter, too.
COSTELLO (voice-over): It's very title sparks outrage: "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid". Fourteen members of the Carter Center's 200 advisory board have now resigned, calling the man who wrote the book and won the Nobel Peace Prize malicious in his views. They feel Carter has taken the Palestinian side in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, saying in a letter, quote, "As a result, it seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy. We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position."
In fact, Carter's views have upset many in the Jewish community.
ABRAHAM FOXMAN, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE PRES.: He's become a hero in the fundamentalist, extremist Arab board.
COSTELLO: Carter has tried to defend himself from criticism by explaining what he meant by using the word apartheid. He told Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM how the term can apply to Israel.
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not based on racism. It's the last thing I want to say. It's based on a minority of Israelis -- and I say that very carefully, a minority of Israelis -- who refuse to swap land for peace.
COSTELLO: But Carter enraged many in the Jewish community again, writing an op-ed peace in the "L.A. Times," suggesting Americans are afraid to criticize Israel, saying, quote, "For the last 30 years I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts."
FOXMAN: When he stands up and he says the Jews control the debate, the Jews control the universities, of course, he does damage. It's sinister, it's dangerous, it's ugly.
COSTELLO: But not all in the Jewish community agree with this, saying Carter's courage could only help Israel.
RABBI MICHAEL LERNER, JEWISH PEACE MOVEMENT: It's trying to give a message that anybody who criticizes Israel is automatically labeled as an anti-Semite, and I think that that is very destructive. It's destructive to American Jews.
COSTELLO: As for what Jimmy Carter is saying, well, his center sent us a statement thanking the departing board members for their service and pointing out these board members do not set policy at the Carter Center. They were merely invited as advisers -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I suspect this controversy is going to continue. Thanks very much for that. Carol Costello reporting.
Up ahead tonight, some call it a surge. Others call it an escalation. Jeanne Moos takes on the definition of the president's new Iraq strategy.
Plus, he's arguably the world's most famous soccer player, and he's making a major move to America. We'll tell you what's going on.
BLITZER: President Bush's deployment of more than 21,000 additional troops to Iraq is raising serious concern among many military personnel, especially reservists. CNN's Mary Snow is gauging the reaction.
She's joining us now from New York -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for one reservist in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, now comes the anxious wait. He served during the first Gulf war, was in most recently in 2005, and now he fears a third tour.
M. SNOW (voice-over): It is these moments, Drew Brown says, when he can relax and just be a regular guy walking his dog after work. But it is these moments as an Army reservists that are never far from his mind. And they grew closer with the president's announcement of more than 20,000 troops being sent to Iraq. Brown expects he'll be among them.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.
M. SNOW (on camera): Tell me how you're feeling after watching that.
SGT. 1ST CLASS ANDREW BROWN, U.S. ARMY RESERVE: Nervous that the call is going happen sooner, perhaps when I'm not ready for it. Nervous that this is simply just a re-wording of the same policies that we have been using before.
M. SNOW (voice-over): Brown says he's concerned U.S. decision- makers don't understand the Iraqi people. He says he came to that conclusion while serving as a drill sergeant, training Iraqi forces in the middle of fierce fighting in places like Falluja.
BROWN: They have an expression, "Insha'Allah," literally translated to "As God wills it. As Allah wills." And many times we would say, OK, we need to go to this location and execute this mission. And their response would be "Insha'Allah." And as an American military person it is incredibly frustrating to hear that.
M. SNOW: He is torn.
BROWN: On a global scale, I feel a sense of obligation to go. And at the same time, I want to hand things off to them, because they're competent people. They're not stupid.
M. SNOW: U.S. strategy isn't his only concern. He has personal ones, too.
BROWN: Coming home again. And I don't necessarily mean the physical trip home. The threat is what it is, but mentally, I don't know that I would be able to make that transition again. M. SNOW: Iraq has taken a toll on the 34-year-old Brown. He wears a wristband to remind him of fallen brothers. He blames his time in Iraq for the breakup of his marriage. He also suffers Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Fifteen months after returning home from his last tour, he says he is just now getting used to civilian life. But for him, the president's plan...
BROWN: Yes, it was a little unsettling, because I have a vested interest in it. To most Americans, I don't know that it's going to be that unsettling.
M. SNOW: But most sobering for Brown is fighting the war on terrorism, a fight he doesn't see ending anytime soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Mary, thank you for that. Mary Snow reporting for us.
Up ahead, Jack Cafferty wants to know, what's the definition of failure in Iraq? Jack is standing by with your e-mail. That's coming up.
Also, what's in a word? A lot when people speak of a so-called troop surge. CNN's Jeanne Moos is on that story. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Jack's in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: President Bush insisted in that speech last night that, quote, "failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States," unquote. So the question we asked is what is the definition of failure in Iraq?
Gerald in Crestline, California: "The definition of failure is that we're still there. Please get President Bush the memo from 11- 07-06 that the voters put out."
Clive in Pennsylvania: "Failure is when the Saudis threaten to support the Sunnis in the event the U.S. pulled out. That determined the context of last night's speech. House of Bush/House of Saud."
Pete in Arkansas says "The definition of failure in Iraq is one more dead American."
Michael in Arizona: "Failure in Iraq would be for this great country to listen to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the "New York Times" and leave Iraq before a measure of sustainable stability has been achieved. I didn't favor the war in the first place, but to not follow through would send absolutely the wrong message to the world, and most importantly, to our terrorist adversaries." Gary in Sarepta, Louisiana: "President Bush is going to leave Iraq and the United States in worse shape than they were when all of this started. Now, that's failure."
And Jeffery in St. Peters, Missouri says, "We're already looking at it."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. We post some more of them online -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks you very much. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour. That means Paula Zahn is standing by.
Hi, Paula. Good working with you yesterday.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: It was great being with you as well. Thanks, Wolf.
Coming up just about six minutes or so from now, a very interesting perspective on President Bush's address about Iraq. One of my guests will be the former speechwriter who actually wrote the president's famous words "axis of evil."
We'll also be shining the light on America's hidden secrets, bringing intolerance out into the open, including violence racism in the ranks of the U.S. military. Coming up at the top of the hour, a one-time marine who says there's a secret society of white supremacists just below the surface.
All that and more coming up, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Paula. We'll be watching.
The world's most famous athlete is crossing the pond. That would be England's David Beckham. He'll be leaving his Spanish team, Real Madrid, in June to join Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. Here with the reaction from around the globe is our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, this certainly making headlines around Europe. David Beckham leaving Europe to head to Los Angeles. Now, if you're lost by all this, the sport is soccer, called football in the rest of the world. And David Beckham is arguably the most famous, the most followed, the most photographed player in the world.
But, of course, it's not just David Beckham coming, it's the Beckhams, plural, David and his wife Victoria. You'll remember her, AKA, Posh Spice. Those were the days. You'll remember that one there.
One of the hottest celebrity couples around the world coming soon to a magazine cover near you. And you'd better get used to them. The deal that was signed by David Beckham is five years and he's reportedly earning in excess of $250 million -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Not a bad paycheck, indeed. Thanks for that, Abbi. We'll be watching them.
Up next, seeing surges everywhere. CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us why the White House isn't the first to embrace the term. Jeanne Moos, when we come back.
BLITZER: Take a look at some of the hot shots coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.
Let's start with a rescue operation some Pakistan. Government officials saved the life of a blind dolphin.
In Tokyo, a human-sized robot named HRP2 helps out by picking up the dishes during a demonstration.
The Japanese foreign minister poses with sumo wrestlers in Bulgaria.
And penguins check out a sign at the London Zoo, some of today's hot shots, pictures often worth a thousand words.
It has some wordsmiths worried. It's just one word and it's being used to describe part of the president's Iraq plan. But can the word live up to its true definition?
Here CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a word that's living up to its own definition. It's surging.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The surge has already begun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does a surge mean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Viewed as a temporary surge.
MOOS: Better hope it's temporary...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This surge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They surged.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: When the surge.
MOOS: ... because if this keeps up, surge will become the scourge of political lingo. From the surge to nowhere to short circuiting the surge, we're drowning in it.
By definition, a surge is something that bursts forth, then recedes.
GEOFFREY NUNBERG, LINGUIST, UC BERKELEY: It's a little risky for the administration to go with surge. It may be a stirring phrase, but it runs the risk of creating ironies down the road.
MOOS: The irony would be if the surge of troops didn't recede, this according to the author of "Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism Into A Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating Et Cetera Freak Show."
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": This action is a surge, not an escalation. Escalation is the word the Democrats are using.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: An escalation, whether it's called a surge or any other name, is still an escalation.
COLBERT: Escalation, on the other hand, is what old people do at a mall.
MOOS: Actually, escalation tends to be a four-syllable reminder of Vietnam. Unnamed Pentagon officials were one source of the catchphrase surge, though some surging generals warned against it. There are those who can't get enough surge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surge!
MOOS: That would be Surge the soda, marketed, then discontinued by Coke. Its demise resulted in SaveSurge.org.
(on camera): And are you pro or anti-surge?
ERIC KARKOVACK, SAVESURGE.ORG: Well, I'm pro Surge soda. I'm anti-troop surge.
MOOS (voice-over): The political catchphrase makes the Surge merchandise celebrated on the soda Web site seem bizarre, from salt and pepper shakers to walkie-talkies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: S-U-R-G-E, the greatest soda there could ever be.
MOOS: On the political front, the urge headlines keep one-upping each other. "The Urge To Surge" escalated to "The Urge to Purge Surge." Did we say escalate?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Escalation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The surge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This escalation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The troop surge.
MOOS (on camera): Instead of sending in more troops, they should send in more surge.
KARKOVACK: That's right. It would give people more energy.
MOOS (voice-over): All this surging is enough to make a secretary of state opt for...
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: This augmentation.
MOOS: Besides, surge sounds like a laundry detergent. It is a laundry detergent, but politically, surge seems to be stuck on the spin cycle.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: That's it for us. Let's go to Paula in New York -- Paula.
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