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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Iraq: A Plan to Change Course; Interview With Iraq Study Group Co-Chairs James Baker and Lee Hamilton; Dick Cheney's Daughter Pregnant
Aired December 6, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
A sharp dose of reality for President Bush: staying the course in Iraq, not an option. And, as for changing course, time is quickly running out.
LEE HAMILTON, CO-CHAIRMAN, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating.
ANNOUNCER: Mission not accomplished, victory redefined -- the report, the recommendations. Chairman Hamilton and Baker sit down with us.
Talking with the bad guys -- the case for and against negotiating with Syria and Iran.
JAMES BAKER, CO-CHAIRMAN, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: Iran would love to have us bogged down there, but they do not want a chaotic Iraq.
ANNOUNCER: Bitter pill. Kind reception.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an opportunity to come together.
ANNOUNCER: But does the president really get it? Or does he still believe we're winning in Iraq?
And a reality check on one of the deadliest days yet in the war.
ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "Iraq: A Plan to Change Course."
Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in Washington, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: And we are coming to you tonight, actually, from Capitol Hill. We want to welcome our viewers here in America and watching around that world on CNN International.
More than three-and-a-half years after declaring major combat operations over in Iraq, President Bush now has a sobering report in his hands, a bipartisan document that nowhere -- nowhere -- mentions the word victory, offering only the dimming hope of not losing.
And, as if anyone needed a reminder of what's at stake, we learned this afternoon of 13 more combat deaths in Iraq this week, 10 of them today.
In a moment, we are going to explore the options President Bush was offered today, if in fact he ends up taking any of them.
First, what those options are, and CNN's John Roberts.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there were any lingering doubts about how bad things are in Iraq, they were pretty much erased today.
LEE HAMILTON, CO-CHAIRMAN, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: We believe that the situation in Iraq today is very, very serious. We do not know if it can be turned around.
ROBERTS: The Iraq Study Group, in perhaps the most anticipated report since the 9/11 Commission, issued a harsh critique of administration policy.
JAMES BAKER, CO-CHAIRMAN, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: We do not recommend a stay-the-course solution. In our opinion, that approach is no longer viable.
ROBERTS: Instead, the 10-member bipartisan committee offered up some alternatives -- 79, in fact. One of the top recommendations is a version of what the White House ridiculed as cut-and-run, to pull back most U.S. combat troops by early 2008, and instead focus on accelerated training for Iraqi forces -- another big idea, launch an intense diplomatic mission to find a political solution, including unconditional talks with Iran and Syria.
HAMILTON: You cannot look at this area of the world, and pick and choose among the countries that you're going to deal with.
ROBERTS: It's a notion that President Bush has rejected, but one his father's former secretary of state suggests he should embrace, for the sake of trying to save Iraq.
BAKER: For 40 years, we talked to the Soviet Union, during a time when they were committed to wiping us off the face of the earth. So, you talk to your enemies, not just your friends.
ROBERTS: The study group acknowledged their plans aren't perfect, but, in another apparent shot at the White House's Iraq policy, insisted, there is a better way forward.
BAKER: If we do what we recommend in this report, it will certainly improve our chances for success. ROBERTS: While there's nothing to suggest the president will adopt any of the recommendations, the Iraq Study Group cautioned him against cherry-picking the report. If Iraq is to be pulled back from the brink of failure, they said, it needs a comprehensive rescue mission, and one with bipartisan political support here at home.
LEON PANETTA, IRAQ STUDY GROUP MEMBER: We have made a terrible commitment in Iraq, in terms of our blood and our treasure. And I think we owe it to them to try to take one last chance at making Iraq work, and more importantly, to take one last chance at unifying this country on this war.
ROBERTS (on camera): As much as the Iraq Study Group disagreed with the current administration policy on Iraq, there was common ground on one important issue: no immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Lee Hamilton put it bluntly, when he said, a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces would likely result in a bloodbath.
John Roberts, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: And, today, the White House said President Bush will spend the next week or two studying the options. He will have a new defense secretary to help him.
The Senate, this afternoon, quickly confirmed Robert Gates, a man who, only yesterday, said he doesn't believe the U.S. is winning the war. Nor does the ISG.
Earlier today, I sat down with the co-chairs, Democrat Lee Hamilton and Republican James Baker.
COOPER: Secretary Baker, you called the situation in Iraq grave and -- and deteriorating. How much time do you think the U.S. has? How much of a window of opportunity is there?
BAKER: Well, I don't think you can measure it exactly.
But we firmly believe in the assessment which we put in the report, which is a very -- a very tough assessment and very bleak assessment. But one thing I can tell you for sure, and that is that 10 -- all 10 members of our commission, Democrats and Republicans alike, think that we ought to implement the recommendations in this report, if there's to be any chance for success.
COOPER: Grave and deteriorating, though, does that mean we're losing?
BAKER: Well, I don't think that you -- that you can say that we're losing or winning.
I will tell you, I will give you General Pace's definition. We're in the midst of a -- of a war. And, if we don't adopt these recommendations, we run the serious risk of losing.
COOPER: Do we believe we're winning?
HAMILTON: I don't think we're losing. I don't think we're winning. I just think we're engaged right in the middle of the war.
I think there are a lot of steps we can take to enhance our prospects of winning. And we better take them very soon. You ask how much time we got. The answer is not very much.
HAMILTON: You don't measure this in terms of months. You measure it in terms of weeks, and maybe days, within which we have to act.
COOPER: In terms of military strategy, you are recommending a complete refocusing on support, on -- on training up the Iraqi forces.
And you say that, by the first -- -- quote -- "By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq."
To some people, though, that sounds like status quo, frankly. And the Pentagon, in the past, has talked about reducing the numbers. Back in 2003, even last year, they talked about reducing the numbers from 150,000 to -- to under 100,000.
BAKER: But we're talking, also, about taking a lot of other actions.
In terms of the training and equipping mission, we're talking about a fivefold increase in the combat troops that would be devoted to that. We're talking about embedding our troops, to a much greater degree, with the Iraqi forces. And we're talking about taking it down to the company level.
This has never been talked about before, and nor has there ever been a -- a serious discussion or acknowledgement of a significant change in the primary mission of our forces.
COOPER: But -- but what has gone wrong with the training thus far? Because, I mean, every time I have been in Iraq for the last two or so years, even three years, the U.S. and this administration has always said, well, look, training the Iraq security forces is our top priority.
BAKER: What we're saying is, we have a -- we have some good experience with training the army. Let's beef it up, so that we can pull our forces back from, in effect, refereeing sectarian violence, and turn it over to the Iraqis, turn that part over to the Iraqis.
HAMILTON: We think the training, by U.S. forces, of Iraqi forces has improved a good bit in the last year.
You're right, of course, that we have been doing this for two or three years. We haven't done it very well. We haven't done enough of it. And we haven't done it effectively and skillfully.
COOPER: Have -- have they just not put enough money into it? Have they not put enough manpower into it?
HAMILTON: They have not put enough manpower into it.
And one of the huge problems is the -- the personal incentive system for trainers. It just doesn't attract the best and the brightest of the American military. That's got to change. The American military must understand that this function now is the most important function of the American military in Iraq.
The Iraqi forces are improving, but they still lack leadership. What we have given them thus far is basic training. An American soldier goes through basic training, and then a lot more training, and a lot more training after that.
And they teach leadership skills and all of the other things needed to succeed in combat. You simply don't have that in the Iraqi forces today.
COOPER: Critics, though, are already saying that -- that, really, these ideas are not new. "The" -- "The Weekly Standard" calls the ideas, the military ideas, "a pallid and muddled reinterpretation of what most Democrats, many Republicans, even Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officials, have been saying for almost two years."
While the 2008 number is getting a lot of headlines, in truth, I mean, you're using the words, you know, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation; they could be out of Iraq.
It's a lot of qualifiers.
HAMILTON: Well, there have to be a lot of qualifiers.
HAMILTON: You -- you can't predict these things with great precision.
The -- the report is very clear. The report, on the strategic level, says, we're pulling out of there. We're pulling our combat forces out there. And we're going to do it gradually. We're going to do it carefully and deliberately, but we're coming out of here, in the combat sense.
COOPER: But isn't that what this administration has been saying all along?
HAMILTON: Well, I'm not sure I have seen anything from the administration quite like the sentence you quoted just a moment ago.
And, furthermore, we're saying that, no matter what Iraq does, we're going to act on our own. In other words, we're not going to give the Iraqis a veto power over what we do or do not do.
And, furthermore, we're saying that, with regard to assistance to the Iraqis, that assistance is going to be conditioned. It is going to be conditional on their effective performance in achieving milestones.
BAKER: And -- and...
HAMILTON: That's -- that's completely new.
BAKER: And, Anderson, we have 79 recommendations in here, which I would submit, with -- with all due respect to "The Weekly Standard," are not a pallid reinterpretation of something that's gone before, particularly not -- and I think they would agree with this -- in the politically and diplomatic area.
COOPER: So, you're saying to the Iraqis, there has got to be repercussions for you -- you're either doing...
BAKER: We say in the report that, if they do not make substantial progress on meeting milestones, the United States should -- or could -- I can't remember what we say exactly there, the verb we use -- reduce its economic, political or military support.
HAMILTON: That's pretty strong.
COOPER: How much of this insurgency right now is motivated by al Qaeda? The president seemed to be indicating he still believes that al Qaeda is -- is behind most of the violence.
HAMILTON: We think...
COOPER: There's criminal gangs. There's -- there's, as you talk about in the report, death squads, nationalist insurgents.
HAMILTON: We -- we think the chief violence today is sectarian.
COOPER: Not al Qaeda?
HAMILTON: Not al Qaeda. Now, al Qaeda...
BAKER: Not the chief.
HAMILTON: Not -- al Qaeda is present. Al Qaeda is part of the violence, particularly in certain areas, but it is not the chief source of violence today.
There are a number of different sources of violence, including just plain old criminality. But al Qaeda is a factor, but it is not the chief source. The American casualties are coming from the sectarian violence, largely.
COOPER: And is it possible that getting the U.S. troops out will actually lessen that violence, that it will at least take away the -- the motivation of nationalist insurgents?
BAKER: Many people have argued that to us. Many people in Iraq made that case.
COOPER: Do you buy it?
BAKER: Yes, I think there's some -- some validity to it, absolutely, that we're -- and then we're no longer seen to be the occupiers.
We're still going to have a -- we're still going to have a very robust force presence in Iraq and in the region for quite a number of years after this thing sorts itself out, which ever way it sorts itself out. We have to do that, because we cannot -- we have vital national interests in that region. We have the problem of al Qaeda. We cannot leave the country to be a Taliban-like base for al Qaeda.
So, we're going to have a -- we're going to maintain, even after we do what we said here, there's still going to be a lot of force protection and combat capability, a lot of training, equipping, and supporting, and there will be rapid-reaction teams and special-ops forces to chase al Qaeda.
COOPER: Bases inside Iraq?
BAKER: Based inside Iraq.
COOPER: The other front you talk about going forward on is the diplomatic front. And that's probably the biggest change from -- from the current policy.
You call for an immediate diplomatic offensive to build what you call an international consensus for stability in Iraq, the region, including talking with Iran and Syria. What do you say to Iran? What do you say...
BAKER: You say exactly the same thing we said to Iran when we went into Afghanistan.
We said: You know, we don't think you want a chaotic Afghanistan here on your border. Help us out.
And guess what? They helped us out. We talked to them. They helped us out. We -- they didn't link the nuclear. We wouldn't consider linking the nuclear. The report says, don't link -- link the nuclear.
COOPER: You say, though, don't link the nuclear. President Bush has already stated publicly, just last week, in -- in fact, that, in order for Iran to come to the table, they have got to give up their desire to enrich uranium.
BAKER: Has to come to the table on a broad-based discussion with the United States.
Our recommendation is that we talk to Iran in the context of all the neighboring -- neighboring countries of Iraq, in the context of helping stabilize the situation in Iraq. Iran's -- Iran's representatives, to whom we have talked, with the approval of the administration, have told us, they probably won't help us.
And our position is, fine. Hold them up to public scrutiny. Let the world see that their a rejectionist nation, and they're not -- everybody else is willing to help try and stabilize Iraq, but they're not.
HAMILTON: The fact -- the fact is that Iran and Syria both are major influences in this area of the world. And, you -- if you ignore them, you sharply diminish the opportunity to resolve the questions that you confront.
We're going to have to talk with Iran. There's no country in the world that has caused us more heartburn over a period of decades than Iran, but we're going to -- they have a major influence in Iraq today. And, if you want to mobilize the international community, the neighboring countries, and some of the other major players in the world, you're going to have to bring Iran into that equation. And, if you don't, you just leave a huge, gaping hole...
HAMILTON: ... in your approach.
COOPER: Charles Krauthammer of "The Washington Times" wrote: "To suggest Iran and Syria share our interest in stability is the height of fantasy. In fact, Iran and Syria have an overriding interest in chaos in Iraq, which is precisely why they each have been abetting the insurgency and fanning civil war."
COOPER: Can you overcome that?
BAKER: Well, he's wrong. Occasionally, columnists are wrong.
He also wrote that, when I was secretary of state, I made a deal with the Syrians to give them free rein in Lebanon, so they would come to the Madrid peace conference, change 25 years of policy, and sit down for the first time face to face with Israel.
They changed 25 years of policy. It took me 15 trips to Damascus to make it happen. But that's what he wrote. He was just as wrong on that as he is on what you're quoting.
COOPER: So, you don't think Iran has a vested interest in -- in aiding and abetting the insurgents and promoting chaos?
BAKER: Iran would love to have us tied down there, muddling down, and, you know, just bogged down there. But they do not want a chaotic Iraq. We -- we know that. They say that. And they -- they obviously shouldn't want a chaotic Iraq.
HAMILTON: Iran -- Iran has its own population problems.
BAKER: You're darn right.
HAMILTON: And they have got a...
BAKER: And they will be the first ones hit with refugees.
HAMILTON: That's right. If they have got a lot of refugees flowing into Iran, you seriously threaten the stability of Iran. So, they have got a lot of interest here.
COOPER: I talked to former President Jimmy Carter the other day, who said that -- I asked him if this administration had dropped the ball in dealing with the -- the problem between Israel and the Palestinians. He said , they didn't even pick up the ball.
You clearly focus a lot on this issue. Does this administration have the credibility to make progress between -- I mean, to -- to make a peace between Israel and the Palestinians?
HAMILTON: Look, any American president can move into that situation and have a lot of clout and have a lot of influence.
Now, we haven't chosen to do that in the past. Personally, I think we should have. But it's not too late. And what you find again and again is the essential connection between the Arab-Israeli dispute, on the one hand, and all the other problems in the Middle East.
COOPER: You guys have both met with the president. He, in the last couple of days, and his spokespeople, have indicated, look, there are other groups looking into this. Joint Chiefs of Staff is going to issue a report.
What's your sense of -- of -- he says he's willing to listen and -- and read the recommendations. What is your sense of his willingness to act on your recommendations?
HAMILTON: Look, the president is going to be getting a lot of advice from people other than ourselves. And he should be. We don't object to that. We don't have all the truth here.
There's one very, very big difference. The only source of bipartisan advice he is going to get is from the Iraq Study Group. You have got a country today that is badly split. You have got a government that is badly split, executive, legislative, split within the administration, split all over the place on Capitol Hill.
What we did in the report is to try to put together a -- realizable goals, goals that could be achieved, given the political environment in Washington and the political environment in Iraq.
It's very easy to sit anywhere, and shoot off a lot of recommendations to solve the problem of Iraq. They won't work unless you have bipartisan support. And that's what our report brings to this whole effort, a bipartisan solution.
BAKER: That no other report is going to bring. And the American people desperately want this.
COOPER: Thank you both very much. Appreciate it.
HAMILTON: I thank you.
COOPER: Well, between them, James Baker and Lee Hamilton have decades of experience in politics and government. Here's the "Raw Data."
James Baker is now 76. He served as secretary of state and chief of staff under former President George Bush. He was treasury secretary under President Reagan. He also oversaw the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election for the current President Bush.
And here are the details on Lee Hamilton. He's now 75, has served for 34 years as a U.S. congressman from Indiana. In the House, he was a leading voice on foreign affairs. He co-chaired the September 11 Commission, which investigated the 2001 terror attacks. He also led the House committee that investigated the Iran-Contra scandal during President Reagan's second term.
Clearly people to be reckoned with, but will they be listened to? A closer look at that coming up, including former presidential adviser David Gergen's take on the day's events.
Later, we will check in with Nic Robertson in Baghdad on today's string of attacks on American forces.
And the other story which has been catching a lot of attention today: the vice president's daughter having a baby, planning to raise it with the person she loves. And why should anyone object to that? The fight over conservative family values -- when 360 continues.
COOPER: No open-ended commitment, that's one of 79 recommendations in the ISG report -- not clear tonight which ones, if any, President Bush will accept. Already, there's are signs he doesn't even buy one of the report's bedrock premises.
Late today, one of his closest advisers, standing on the North Lawn of the White House, said he still believes we're winning the war. And, with that as a possible clue to what comes next, more now from CNN's Candy Crowley.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank James Baker and Lee Hamilton and the...
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A study group he didn't ask for came to tell him how to handle Iraq, his signature issue.
The president looked beat and pained.
BUSH: It is a report that brings some, really, very interesting proposals. And we will -- we will take every proposal seriously.
CROWLEY: He didn't say no, but it sure wasn't yes.
JULIE MASON, "THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE": He likes to hear outside advice. But to adopt it and make it his own, that, to him, would be a sign of weakness. So, that's just not his leadership style.
BUSH: But I'm the decider. And I decide what is best.
CROWLEY: Will he or won't he? Only the decider knows for sure, but, for starters, he has previously rejected a number of key points.
Still, the pressure is on. Cyberspace bulged with press releases from Democrats.
Senator Clinton: "It's time for the president to listen and change the course."
Howard Dean: "I hope the president will take action to change course in Iraq."
Democratic presidential candidate Tom Vilsack: "Even the president's own advisers have lost faith in his ability to set policy."
The recommendations set off a series of tacit "I told you so"s.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: They began by saying, we must transition our troops out of Iraq. We begin by changing the mission. Democrats have been saying that all along.
CROWLEY: If this is how bipartisan consensus begins, count the president out. He does not respond well to pressure.
BUSH: I say I listen to all voices, but mine's the final decision.
CROWLEY: But will the president make the leap from listening to accepting because all the voices are power names? WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Given the composition of that group, who have now said that, we think this is the right course of action, I think the president would be hard- pressed to reject it. He is still the commander in chief. He still has the power to do so.
CROWLEY: Which is to say it's hard to see how the president could turn his back on this group report, and easy to see how he would. He will probably do both.
MASON: They're going to wait a few weeks. And, by then, they're counting on people not even really remembering what's in the Iraq Study Group report. And, then, they can sort of pick and choose what they want, and incorporate what they like, without appearing to capitulate to -- to these outside policy-makers. And that's very important to them.
CROWLEY: In the end, presidents are captives of their personalities. Accepting the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group would mean not just a change of course in Iraq, but an about-face in the essence of who George Bush is. Don't bet on it.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, for some additional perspective, we're joined once again by our friend former presidential adviser David Gergen, who has been the receiving end of reports like this one.
First to Candy Crowley's point, before we talk overall. Do you think she's right, that -- that don't bet on the president being able to -- to change course?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Certainly, Anderson, last week, when -- when you were out there with the president, in -- in -- in another part of the world, he was giving out very defiant messages, not only no, but hell no, to withdrawal, to talking to Iran, to talking to Syria, and a lot of other things.
But the weight of this report today, the -- the gravity of the report, the fact it was unanimous, and that they -- and that they stripped away all the language about victory, and said, "The policy is failing; we're in a grave situation; it could very easily descend into catastrophe," and it had unanimity among the 10, including, you know, hard-line conservatives, like Ed Meese, I think that puts enormous pressure on the president to do -- to do a little adroit maneuvering, a little song and dance, but begin to make a U-turn.
I think he's -- I think -- I -- I don't think, Anderson, he can now keep -- for example, I don't think he can keep fighting troops, American fighting troops, on the ground in Iraq through 2008. I think he's got -- this -- this commission said, early 2008, 15 months from now, you have got to start bringing the combat boys home; they got to be out -- out of there. COOPER: I -- I got to tell you, though, earlier, I spoke to the president's counselor, Dan Bartlett. And -- and I asked him, are we winning the war? And he said, yes.
Is that just spin?
GERGEN: Well, you -- well, I -- I -- you know, they -- they're going to become -- if they're -- they're increasingly this way already.
Remember how he got into a bubble about -- about a -- a year ago, and we all talked about the president being in a bubble?
GERGEN: They're increasingly looking like they're in another bubble.
And I -- I just don't think it's that's sustainable. I -- you know, it's -- it's -- when -- when a group like this comes out, they set a basic standard or foundation, and you can't go below that, because people like John Warner, a Republican heavyweight, he's saying, you have got to listen to the voices of this group. You have got to listen to the voices of the people.
I think the president -- I think he's increasingly boxed in. Now, and -- and, by the way, I think he ought to seize upon this as the best opportunity he's had in three-and-a-half years.
COOPER: Well, I was going to say, for all the stern language, you say this was a good day for America.
GERGEN: I do believe it's a good day for America.
Let me tell you why, that it -- if we had had a commission like this, of heavyweights, who had spoken up so publicly and so forcefully, when Lyndon Johnson was president, toward the end of his presidency, about Vietnam, the Vietnam War would have ended much earlier, and thousands upon thousands of Americans would not have died in Vietnam, because this really tells the country, folks, this is like -- you remember how Walter Cronkite spoke up in '68 in the -- just during the campaign, and then Lyndon Johnson had to pull out of the -- he said...
GERGEN: ... this war is not winnable, and Lyndon Johnson had to pull out of the election in '68?
This is one of those moments, when people of real authority speak up and say, we are not only winning; we are failing. The policy in Iraq is failing. The policy in the Middle East is failing. The president cannot walk away from those conclusions.
The political system simply won't sustain him in that situation. So, I think he's going to -- as much as he -- as reluctant as he's going to be, I think he's going to have to face some of this. And I think it's a terrific day for America, when we finally have a bipartisan group come together, and give a candid, unvarnished account of what's going on in Iraq to the country.
We should thank them. It's -- it's a signal public service...
GERGEN: ... to do what they have done.
COOPER: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid came out saying, basically, this is a -- a sign of -- of the failure of the Bush policy; it's a -- you know, a -- a return of -- of all the mistakes that this president has made, I mean, that it's highlighting those mistakes.
Do you think that is true?
GERGEN: Well, I think it is highlighting those mistakes.
GERGEN: ... indictment.
COOPER: A repudiation -- that's the word I was looking for.
GERGEN: I think it is a repudiation. And -- and various news accounts in tomorrow morning's papers are going to say that.
But the Democrats have to be equally careful here. They cannot sort of dance on the grave of mistakes of the past. They need to be in a constructive place now and say, OK, how can we work with the administration, with the results of this, make this the starting point for a new American policy?
You know, it's understandable where they would crow today, but by tomorrow they ought to be in a constructive phase. But otherwise, it will make it much more difficult for the president to make a turn.
COOPER: It also is such a crucial time. And American lives are at risk to be talking about politics and making, whether it's Republicans or Democrats making politics out of this is just -- seems totally inappropriate.
GERGEN: Absolutely. And you know, it's the old, old line, Anderson: the best politics is good policy. And that's what both sides need to rally to.
I think this is a moment. This is the first time in 3 1/2 years in this long, long war that we've had a moment in the country where we can come together behind one approach to this war. And we owe it to the troops, we owe it to posterity to try to make one last chance, take one last crack at this, see if we can do it.
This group said today it may not work, it may be too late, it may be beyond our control. But we should try, and I think this group pointed a way. It's not in every recommendation. But this is a very sophisticated set of recommendations.
COOPER: David Gergen, appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.
GERGEN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Much more ahead on this special edition of 360. As the next Pentagon chief, what will Robert Gates have to do in Iraq? What does he need to do? More insight from former defense secretary, William Cohen, about the tough road ahead.
And later, a stunning announcement from the vice president's daughter, Mary Cheney, and the impact it may have on the conservative agenda when 360 continues.
COOPER: It is worth noting that the Iraq Study Group dedicated its report to the men and women fighting in Iraq and dying in Iraq. As we told you earlier, we learned today 13 more U.S. troops were killed this week, ten just today, bringing the death toll closer to 3,000 and a grim reminder of the reality on the front lines.
CNN's Nic Robertson joins me live from Baghdad -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, three of those soldiers died on Monday. We were told about the news today from military spokesmen.
But today, a very deadly day. Ten soldiers killed, nine of them killed in three separate roadside bombing attacks. One soldier died in a non-combat related incident. But so far this month, and we're barely a week into the month of December, some 30 servicemen have died so far. A very deadly month so far.
Iraq is today a very bloody day. Mortars well on a market in Baghdad, ten people killed, 50 people wounded. A Shia suburb of Baghdad was a target for a suicide bomber. He was on a bus detonated. His explosives killed three, wounded 16 others.
The police today say they have found another 45 bodies around the city. This is a toll that just continues, they say. They were all shocked. Many showed the signs of torture. Their hands were bound. Police say the bodies were scattered throughout the city.
But also another very troubling development in the sectarian nature of the violence here. Mortars were rained in on a Shia -- on a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad today, five of those mortars landing very close to a mosque. Five people wounded. One of those wounded, the religious leader, the imam of that mosque -- Anderson.
COOPER: A grim toll. Nic Robertson, thanks, live reporting from Baghdad tonight.
There's no sign that the violence will end any time soon in Iraq, but as you heard earlier, the Iraq Study Group suggests one way to bring stability is to renew peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. As Lee Hamilton, the co-chair of the Iraq Study Group put it, there's an essential connection between the Israeli- Palestinian dispute and all the other problems in the Middle East.
I talked about that and other recommendations from the ISG with former secretary of defense, William Cohen.
COOPER: Has this administration done all they could on the Israeli-Palestinian question? Critics say, look, President Bush may have talked about the need for a, you know, two-state solution, but other than that, there wasn't much American leadership in that region. I asked former President Jimmy Carter just the other day if this administration dropped the ball. He said they never even picked up the ball.
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I don't think we've done enough to empower Mahmoud Abbas by way of example. I think we should have done everything we could to empower him, to show to the Palestinian people that the way to peace, of building schools and building an infrastructure, creating jobs was the path to this excess.
Instead, we allowed Hamas to be funded by Iran, to do the -- provide the kind of social network and net under the Palestinian people in time of need, just as they did in Southern Lebanon with Hezbollah.
So we've allowed the more extreme groups to provide social services while we have been, I think, somewhat deficient, quite so, in empowering those leaders who do stand for peace and who do want peace. So I think that's been part of the problem.
COOPER: The members of the Iraq Study Group say it is a strength of the study group that they have reached a consensus. In trying to get that consensus, though, did they so water down their proposals, their recommendations to get both sides to agree that they're essentially meaningless?
COHEN: I don't think their proposals are meaningless, and I don't think they had to water it down. There were really no very good options. All the options have been discussed in the past. What they've done is put these options together in a package that all of them could support.
COOPER: Let me ask the question I was asking Bob Gates yesterday: are we winning in Iraq?
COHEN: Well, I think Bob Gates was correct: we're not winning in Iraq. No one could claim that our goal of setting up a democratic, self-sustaining government is -- is near being achieved at this point, no. So we're not winning, and I think the effort has to be made to secure a success, and it's going to be much less of the success than we had mind.
We've defined success down, and now we're hoping we can have a state that is one state and not three with a strong government that will help protect the minority but also distribute some of the revenues on a more equitable basis.
COOPER: So we're beyond -- we're beyond talking about democracy. We're beyond talking about spreading democracy in the region. We're beyond talking about victory as it was once defined by this administration. We're down to just what, stability?
COHEN: Well, stability is key. You cannot have a democracy without stability. So stability is going to be fundamental to whatever takes place in Iraq. It may be that democracy is a few more years away or longer.
But I think one lesson we've learned is you can't simply impose a democracy upon a people. You must have stability. You must have an establishment of class. You must have the rule of law. We don't have the rule of law. We have the law of rule right now in Iraq.
And so you have -- you're on the verge of a very, I think, full- blown civil war. We're not there yet, but not that far away when as many as 100, 200 people a day are dying.
COOPER: Secretary Cohen, thanks very much for your time.
COOPER: You can read more about the Iraq Study Group's report on our blog at CNN.com/360blog. Tell me what you think. We'll be reading some messages posted by our viewers later in the program tonight. The address again: CNN.com/360blog.
To Barack Obama, the report is just a rehashing of the same old story in some ways. So what does he think should be done? The senator joins me to talk about the war and if he's going to run for president.
And later, pregnant politics. The vice president's gay daughter is expecting. Will it soften the president's stand on same-sex marriage? What do conservatives think about this? Find out ahead on 360.
COOPER: A shot here inside the beautiful rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building where we are broadcasting from tonight. The announcement that Mary Cheney, the openly gay daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, is pregnant is sure to be a source of fierce debate between advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage.
It also exposes once again the contradiction between Mr. Cheney's private life and the Bush policies and the conservative agenda of the Bush administration.
Here's CNN's Mary Snow.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a pregnancy that is sure to bare political implications. A spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney confirms that Mary Cheney, the vice president's gay daughter, is pregnant.
As she and long-time partner Heather Poe prepare for the next beg step in their lives as parents, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney says the vice president and Mrs. Cheney are looking forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of their sixth grandchild.
That arrival is already sparking widespread interest, especially among gay rights advocates.
JENNIFER CHRISLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FAMILY PRIDE: It really makes real how aggressive the right and fundamentalists have been about attacking gay and lesbian families. And here the vice president's own daughter is about to become a part of that in an even bigger way than she already is.
SNOW: And has been since 2004, when Mary Cheney served as an aide to her father's campaign. She's seen her with her partner at the Republican convention.
Gay rights advocates criticized her for not speaking out in support of same-sex marriage. President Bush was in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban it.
This past spring, in a new book, she publicly broke ranks with the administration.
MARY CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER: The notion of amending the Constitution and writing -- basically writing discrimination into the Constitution of the United States is fundamentally wrong.
SNOW: This November, Cheney supported a campaign to fight a same-sex marriage ban in the state of Virginia, where she lives with her partner. The ban was approved, and gay family advocates say Virginia has strict limits on parental rights for gay couples.
CHRISLER: Mary's partner will have no legal relationship with this child at all.
SNOW: Will the vice president's new grandchild soften conservatives' staunch opposition to gay marriage? At least one conservative says it won't make a difference and questions family values in this case.
ROBERT KNIGHT, CULTURE AND MEDIA INSTITUTE: Where's the father? There's a decided lack of curiosity about how this blessed event is occurring.
SNOW (on camera): As for the question of who the father is, the vice president's office did not offer any details about the circumstances of the pregnancy. "The Washington Post" reports that the baby is due this spring.
Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, as Mary Snow pointed out, conservatives and gay rights advocates are already weighing in on Mary Cheney's pregnancy. Up next, the possible political ramifications. We'll hear from two more sides to the debate.
And a tragic end to the search for a missing father in Oregon. What happened to James Kim? When this special edition of 360 continues.
COOPER: A live picture from our nation's capitol. As we told you before the break, Mary Cheney, the openly gay daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, is expecting her first child.
Joining me now for reaction on the announcement from Seattle is Dan Savage, syndicated columnist. And from Washington, Janice Crouse, senior fellow at the Beverly LeHay Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America.
Appreciate both of you being on.
Janice, let me start with you. You described this pregnancy as wrong and even unconscionable. Why?
JANICE CROUSE, SENIOR FELLOW, BEVERLY LEHAY INSTITUTE: Well, it's not really about Mary Cheney. It's about the baby that's going to be born without a father. We have in this country right now a real tragedy that one third and more of our children are being born without a father in the family.
This has ramifications that are disastrous for those children. You know, so many people talk about doing this, that or the other for the children of this country. Well, the best thing you can do for a child today is to marry the father and have a family.
COOPER: But isn't this...
CROUSE: That would be the best arrangement for that child to grow up with, the best environment.
COOPER: Others would say, look, the most important thing is for a baby to be brought up in a loving home with two parents and sets of grandparents and that's what this baby will have.
CROUSE: That flies in the face of all the experts who say from the left and the right, Anderson, they agree totally on this that the best family for a child is a married couple, mother and father.
COOPER: Let me bring in Dan. Dan, what do you think?
DAN SAVAGE, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The studies that she's citing, many of which have been debunked show that the best case, the best thing for a child, is to have two parents in the home. A lot of the studies have shown the negative impact of there being a single parent family are children who have experienced divorce where usually the father who's gone. So the studies measure the impact of the missing parent, which is typically in our culture the father.
But what we're really measuring in the studies is the impact of having just one parent. All the studies of gay and lesbian families, families headed by gay and lesbian couples, have shown that children are just as healthy, just as well cared for, just as likely to identify as heterosexuals, or lesbian and gay, when they grow up.
And just the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association, the American Academy of Child-Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, all these groups and more, who are primarily concerned with the welfare of children, have signed off and approved of and endorsed the rights of gay and lesbian couples to start their own families.
CROUSE: Anderson, those are...
SAVAGE: Because we are good parents, and our families are fit.
CROUSE: Anderson, those are political statements. What you have are scientific studies by the Urban Institute, which is the most liberal organization here in Washington, D.C. And they have said unequivocally that if you compare household arrangements, any arrangement you want to look at, the married couple, mother and father family, is the very best, not just the good, but the very best way to raise children.
COOPER: But Janice, there's huge divorce rates in this country. There's so many different kinds of families in this country. You seem to be holding up this one set, you know, the mother and the father. Most people agree, OK, yes, it would be great for a lot of people.
But short of that, I mean, many people grow up in a single family home. They grow up without grandparents. They group up, you know, in broken homes. This child will have two parents. This child will have grandparents. The child will have access to a great education.
SAVAGE: We have -- we have to acknowledge...
CROUSE: This child will be...
SAVAGE: This child is going to be in better shape than Britney Spears' and Kevin Federline's children. Having heterosexual, opposite sex parents is not some sort of magic ticket to the kind of love and support and commitment and responsibility that a child needs from their parents.
CROUSE: The research says very differently. You know, you look at the -- any other household arrangement, you're going to find those kids are very vulnerable to all sorts of negative outcomes. They're going to drop out of school more. They're going to get into drugs more. They're going to start drinking earlier. All those things...
SAVAGE: With all due respect, that's simply not true. That's simply not true, with all due respect.
CROUSE: I'm sorry, but the research shows differently.
SAVAGE: Those studies have been debunked. Go on Google and debunk everything she's saying in five seconds.
SAVAGE: What the studies show is that single parents...
COOPER: Let Dan finish.
SAVAGE: All the studies show it's preferable to have two loving, committed parents. And this idea there is an ideal, well, what are we going to do about that ideal?
Like ultimately, this is not my business, it's not the doctor's business, it's not Anderson's business. This is between Mary Cheney, Heather Poe and their sperm donor, whoever he is. For all we know, this child will have a father in his life.
With my adopted child -- I have an adopted child. His mother is a part of his life. We adopted through open adoption, my partner and I. So we don't know where this is going yet for Mary Cheney's child. It's very presumptuous to even have this conversation.
COOPER: Janice -- Janice, isn't there is a sad irony to this that Virginia, where Mary Cheney and her partner lives, is one of 27 states with a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage? Heather, Mary Cheney's partner, will have no legal rights to this child. It's kind of a sad irony.
CROUSE: No, it's not about Heather. It's not about any of those instances, but it's about what is best for children. And in this country, when you have so many children who are born without a father in the family, we're looking at terrific ramifications.
It is a matter of the whole culture, because these kinds of incidents change the culture. And what we have is a situation where our schools and our communities are going to be very affected by children who are angry children and...
SAVAGE: So then what do you propose to do?
COOPER: Let me give Dan -- I've got to give Dan the final thought. Dan...
SAVAGE: Does she propose to take this child away from Mary Cheney and Heather Poe and maybe give it to Britney Spears or Andrea Yates? Heterosexual parents are not the magic ticket to a stable home life and a stable home environment for a child. There's so much evidence out there that that's just not the case.
CROUSE: The magic ticket is a mother and father.
SAVAGE: There have been 500,000 children in foster care, waiting to be adopted, who have been abused, neglected and abandoned by their heterosexual parents.
CROUSE: Which has nothing to do with the situation with Mary Cheney.
SAVAGE: ... they're adopted by gay and lesbian couples.
COOPER: We're going to have -- we're going to have to leave it there. Dan Savage, appreciate you joining us. Janice Crouse, as well. Appreciate both of you for joining us. Thanks very much, guys.
Straight ahead, more on the Iraq report from the man who co- chaired the committee, James Baker, and Lee Hamilton on Iraq, dealing with Iran and more.
Also, is this the end of what some have called cowboy diplomacy from the Bush administration or the last two years bring more of the same?
And the final chapter to a story everyone hoped would have a better ending, the discovery of the missing dad in Oregon, how he was found and how close he came to getting help for the rest of his family. You're watching 360.
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