AAM: More on the proposed redeployment
JOHN ROBERTS: More details are emerging this morning from a leaked classified intelligence report about the strength of al Qaeda. Sources tell CNN the report shows that al Qaeda has increased efforts to get terrorists inside the United States and has nearly all of the capabilities to make it happen. The head of Homeland Security said this week that his gut told him an attack could happen this summer. Yesterday the president was asked what his gut told him.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My gut tells me that -- my head tells me as well -- is that when we find a credible threat, I'll share it with people to make sure that we protect the homeland. My head also tells me that al Qaeda's a serious threat to our homeland and we've got to continue making sure we've got good intelligence, good response mechanisms in place.
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ROBERTS: The president also repeatedly stressed the importance of taking on al Qaeda in Iraq as he unveiled an interim report that found the Iraqi government had made progress on eight of 18 benchmarks set by Congress. Let's get a reality check on that now from CNN's Michael Ware. He joins us live in Baghdad.
Michael, you've heard what's in the report. How does that square with what you see on the ground there in Iraq?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John.
Look, what I'd have to say is that the authors of this report are far more generous than I would ever be in making my assessment of the situation here on the ground. I mean, for example, to suggest that there's been satisfactory progress in the area of sectarian violence is quite a stunning claim to be made by the White House.
Okay, here in Baghdad, they're finding less bodies on the streets each morning tortured and executed, but we're still talking about 500 or 600 each month. Now that's just in the capital. That does not account as a measure for what else is happening toward sectarian violence elsewhere in the country.
It almost dishonors the suffering of the Iraqi people here to say that because -- bear in mind, too, in the past 12 months since the Samarra bombing, hundreds of thousands, literally hundreds of thousands, about 50,000 Iraqis a month have been fleeing this country or have been displaced. So there are simply less targets for the sectarian violence. Some of the neighborhoods that were once mixed are now homogenous. The ethnic cleansing has been successful. There's no Shia left in some suburbs to attack or vice versa with Sunni.
And, finally, we're seeing the American military is now allowing some Sunni neighborhoods to have their own Sunni militias. As long as these militias agree to target al Qaeda, they're allowed to operate with U.S. support. The flip side is, if there's a Sunni militia in your neighborhood, the police death squad can't get to you. So it really is an inaccurate reflection of reality. John.
ROBERTS: And, Michael, is there any sign that this so-called surge is working and is there any reason to believe that things will be markedly better by the time that General Petraeus delivers his report in two months?
WARE: Yeah, look, it's an extraordinarily difficult things to gauge, whether te surge is, in fact, working or not. Now, don't forget, the surge is just the capital of Baghdad and some of the Fertile Crescent that surrounds it. It's not the rest of the country and it's not the complete answer to the country's questions.
Now, General David Petraeus, the American war commander here in Iraq running the operation, is keeping his indicators close to his chest. He's not telling people what are the things he's judging the success or measuring the success of this surge by. Why? Because if he tells everybody what those measures are, then the insurgents and the Iranian-backed Shia militia are going to go and attack those numbers. They'll specifically try to skew the picture that he'll be able to present to Congress and he doesn't want that.
Nonetheless, for example, the deadly EFP roadside bombs that punch through American armor with ease have doubled in the last three months. We're still seeing American soldiers killed at roughly the rate of three a day. And as the second-most powerful general in this country said, our enemies are surging while we are surging. So it's a tough call.
ROBERTS: All right. Michael Ware for us live in Baghdad this morning.
KIRAN CHETRY: Well, while Congress debates and looks over the president's report on Iraq, what is the situation on the ground there?
CNN's Michael Ware is live in Baghdad.
And I know it must drive you crazy. You hear all these politicians here in the United States weighing in on both sides of the issue.
You're there. What are you seeing?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's always good to hear from the armchair generals, that's true, Kiran.
Well, put it this way: if America wants to withdrawal by April 2008 -- and I can understand the public mood for that, moms and dads are sick of having to send their children to this war, and they're even more mortified of having to receive them home in worst conditions than what they sent them to Iraq in. Nonetheless, if America wants to withdraw, certainly by 2008, then it must be ready for the history books to record that as an ignominious defeat in the war in Iraq.
Plus, America must be prepared to shoulder international blame for what will follow. Indeed, even before all U.S. troops are out of this country, as a phased withdrawal were to unfold in the current environment, once you drop American forces from the 160,000 in Iraq currently now to anything less than 100,000, 80,000, that means essentially they're going to be restricted to their bases, unable to do anything but protect themselves.
And honestly, that could mean the blood would be flowing right outside the razor wire. If America is prepared to pay the prices like that, and the emboldening of Iran and al Qaeda, then, sure, America can pull out.
CHETRY: Interesting, though, because you talk about being ready to bear international blame. What about international responsibility as well? I mean, there's been talk and there's been suggestions, including, I believe, in that Iraq Study Group report, about getting some of these other countries in the fold to help make sure that doesn't happen.
WARE: Yeah, well, right now, it's almost in no one's interest to assist America in this regard.
The situation in Iraq has become such that I would imagine it would be very, very difficult for any politician to sell to his domestic audience, be it in Europe or be it elsewhere, involvement in what would essentially be the stain of Iraq. Plus, if you start chipping in now to this effort, you're really chipping in at the wrong end.
Remember, there was a whole coalition of the willing in the beginning of this war. And we saw, one by one, they fall away as attacks intensified on their forces in this country, no matter how large or how small their contingents were and you saw the public reaction back home.
I'm afraid we're past the point where anyone is going to be sticking up their hands to help.
CHETRY: Michael Ware for us in Baghdad.