AAM: Reality check from Baghdad
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: There are two prominent members of Congress in the Middle East. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Beirut, Lebanon this morning, planning a stop in Syria tomorrow. And Senator John McCain is leading a Republican delegation in Iraq. Now in Iraq, Senator McCain says Americans aren't getting the full picture of what's going on there. He visited a Baghdad market yesterday wearing a bulletproof vest, surrounded by heavy security. Still, Senator McCain says he sees improvement.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Things are better and there are encouraging signs. I have been here many years--many times over the year. Never have I been able to drive from the airport. Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today.
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O'BRIEN: CNN's Michael Ware is live for us in Baghdad this morning.
Good morning to you, Michael.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Soledad.
That's right, there is the Republican congressional delegation here in Iraq. Potentially, they're here to view the impact of the surge, or the Baghdad security plan, and essentially to sell its merits. To say that, yes, it is having an impact and to take that message home to an American people desperate to hear of signs of progress.
Unfortunately, they chose a very poor way of displaying those signs of change and the signs of progress. The fact that Senator McCain and a delegation can drive from the airport and walk around parts of Baghdad wrapped in a heavy security envelope is not new. Generals and American representatives have been doing such things throughout the war. Indeed, it's the old reinvented as new and is in no way a sign of the real progress of the surge, which the senators should be talking about.
O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. There was a report that said you were heckling and you were laughing during the senator's press conference. Is that true?
WARE: Well, let's bear in mind that this is a report that was leaked by an unnamed official of some kind to a blog, to somewhere on the Internet. No one has gone and put their name forward. We certainly haven't heard Senator McCain say anything about it or any of his staff have come forward to say anything about it.
I did not heckle the senator. Indeed, I didn't say a word. I didn't even ask a question. In fact, when I raised my hand to ask a question, the press conference abruptly ended.
So what I would suggest is that anyone who has any queries about whether I heckled, watch the videotape of the press conference.
O'BRIEN: Michael Ware is in Baghdad for us this morning.
Thank you, Michael.