AAM: "You need to be ready to defend yourself."

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Length: 3:38

MILES O'BRIEN: Every day we see and hear so much about what goes on in Iraq -- kidnapping, insurgent violence -- but what's it like to be right in the middle of it all?

CNN's Michael Ware has spent four years covering the war in Iraq. He's here with us this morning.

Good to see you in person, safe and sound, Michael.


O'BRIEN: Back on a little leave, well-deserved leave, we might add.

Yesterday in the Pipeline segment I do, an interesting question came from a viewer. Greg offered this e-mail question. He said this, "Why do the insurgents in Iraq seem to have no supply problems for their bomb material? After all, the U.S. government is constantly worried about how to resupply our troops." Explain how they fund the insurgent campaign

WARE: Well, there's a number of ways, Miles. I mean, don't forget, for a start, Iraq is all but one large ammunition dump. And don't forget, both sides, the Sunni and the Shia across the sectarian divide, continually get resupplied across Iraq's borders, the Shia from Iran and the Sunni primarily through Syria. Now there's lots of money pumping in across those borders as well.

Plus, the insurgents generate money inside Iraq. For example, in the western city of Ramadi that President Bush pointed to as the heartland of al Qaeda, U.S. Marines intelligence says al Qaeda penetrated the Ministry of Oil and was tapping away between $400,000 and $600,000 per month.

M. O'BRIEN: So that's a pretty sophisticated way of funding operations. It gives you a level of sophistication.

Another way that they generate revenue are these kidnappings. Does that seem to be on the rise?

WARE: Listen, the kidnappings have been a phenomenon almost since the statue of Saddam fell. And we've seen it reach epic proportions now. And certainly that is one of the contributing factors, one of the financing areas that the insurgents have been tapping into. But what we're now seeing are these mass kidnappings, primarily on a sectarian basis. I mean, this is to kill people for their faith.

M. O'BRIEN: So these are not about revenue. This is a new dimension to these kidnappings.

WARE: By and large, these large-scale ones, where you see 60, 70, 150 people taken, normally by men in police or government uniforms, this is about death squad activity.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, well, in that context, it's a horribly dangerous place to work, and you've done it for four years now. And I know we can't tip our full hand because that would undermine our own security, but can you give us a sense of how you as a correspondent do your job and try to get the real story and yet stay safe.

WARE: Well, obviously it's extremely difficult. I mean, if you're not embedded with the U.S. military -- which by and large, we don't do quite so often, because that only gives you one little aspect of the story; I mean, the story is much broader -- journalists live in heavily fortified compounds. Basically, you need to be ready to defend yourself, from car bombs, from attack and from mortar and missile fire. Traveling around the city is extremely difficult. And we've got to be very careful about what we say and don't say to give too much away.

M. O'BRIEN: It must be very frustrating as a reporter, though, not to be able to just grab your notebook, go out and talk to people. You can't do that, can you?

WARE: Extremely so. I mean, you can do it in very limited circumstances. But essentially you need to get the permission of whichever militia or organization is in control of a particular area, or we're sending out Iraqis, Iraqi journalists who work for us.

But honestly, they're being killed in the droves. They're really on the journalistic front line. The number of Iraqi journalists who have died in the past year is staggering, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware, who covers the war from Baghdad. You've been there four years. You're going to take a little break and head right back.

WARE: Yes, that's it.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, thank you very much. Be safe, please -- Soledad.