tv CNN Newsroom CNN December 12, 2011 8:00am-10:00am PST
somewhere else. >> that sounds like good advice. mark preston, thank you so much. that does it for us here in the "cnn newsroom" in atlanta. my colleague, suzanne malveaux, is in washington today. she's going to take it over from here. suzanne. good to see you. >> good to see you. i heard you call suzanne suzanne. that happens to everybody. >> please apologize. i saw that. you're the first one that comes to my mind. >> thanks. live from washington i'm suzanne malveaux. i want to get you up to speed for this monday, december 12th. marking the end of the war in iraq, after almost nine years of bloodshed. right now president obama and the iraqi prime minister they're discuss r meeting to discuss the troop withdrawal. virtually all u.s. troops are going to be out of iraq by the end of the month. president obama accuses republicans of playing politics now with the economy.
this in an interview, cbs's ""60 minutes"," the president challenges the political partisanship. he says republican strategy cuts him off at the knees. >> i think the republicans made a different calculation, which was, you know what, we really screwed up the economy. obama seems popular. our best bet is to stand on the sidelines because we think the economy will get worse and at some point just blame him. so we haven't gotten the kind of engagement from them that i would have liked. all right. a lot of political buzz this morning that's centering on the weekend's gop debate. it was one to watch. at one point mitt romney criticized the frontrunner, newt gingrich, as being a political pro. then he markets himself as an outsider. this is an exchange, have you to see this, gingrich snapping off a comeback. >> we have differences of viewpoint on some issues, but the real difference, i believe,
is our backgrounds. i spent my life in the private sector. i understand how the economy works. >> the only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to teddy kennedy in 1994. >> now wait a second. now wait a second. >> with regards to the idea that if i would have beaten ted kennedy, i could have been a career politician, that's probably true. if i would have been able to get in the nfl like i hoped when i was a kid, i would have been a football star too. i spent my life in the private sector losing to teddy kennedy was probably the best thing i could have done for preparing me for the job i'm seeking. keep an eye on the markets as well. the dow jumped about 200 points on friday to wrap up last week. there's uncertainty about the debt crisis in europe as the week begins. market is erasing all of those gains. looking now 157 down.
the stocks going to bring you a live update in just a bit. people in the syrian city of homs have to meet a deadline tonight to stop the protests against the government or face military action. that's right, rebels say that tanks and troops are surrounding the city and the regime is planning a massacre. the un says more than 4,000 people have been killed in clashes protesting bashara al-assad's regime. the supreme court announced today it will decide if arizona can enforce its controversial immigration law. the obama administration has fought that. arizona argues that illegal immigration has created huge problems, economic problems, safety issues for all of its residents. the federal government has long failed to control the problem. court's goings to make its final ruling as soon as june. memphis police are looking into child sex abuse allegations against the former president of
amateur athletic union or aau. two men told espn robert dodd molested them in the 1980s when he was a ymca coach. an aau spokesman says there is a third potential victim not mentioned in that espn story. now a spokesman goes on to say that dodd denied the allegations when the organization's board confronted him and fired him last month. cnn has not been able to reach dodd for a response. there's a new turn in the penn state sex abuse case. assistant football coach mike mcqueary told a grand jury that he saw jerry sandusky sod odoe miezing a boy in the showers. mcqueary told a family friend after the incident that he heard what he called sex sounds in the shower. according to that report, young boy stuck his head out of the shower stall and then an adult arm pulled him back. a few moments later sandusky
left the shower wearing a towel. new information comes as cnn contributor sara ganim has a detailed article from the newspaper, "the patriot news." she joins us from penn state. sara, other than these ten alleged victims, mike mcquery was the only witness we know about. what do you think this means, the two stories we have against sandusky? >> well, you know, for jerry sandusky's case, which is going before a preliminary hearing tomorrow, this is one piece of ten separate cases. this is one case out of ten. it's unclear if prosecutors in the last six weeks have found the boy that mike mcquery says he saw in that shower who could testify to whatever he says happened and would eliminate the need for mike mcquery to testify tomorrow. but where this really comes in as a big deal is for those perjury charges that are filed
against those two penn state administrators, athletic director tim curly and vice president gary schultz because they're going for a preliminary hearing friday on perjury and failure to report charges and basis for those charges is that the grand jury found that mike mcquery's testimony was more credible than theirs. they basically believed mcquery instead of believing those men. if he's no longer credible as defense attorneys for those two men said to me over the weekend, then they believe that this new evidence that's been testified to should lead to a dismissal of charges against them. >> do we know who's actually going to be speaking at this case? do we expect the alleged victims will actually tell their stories? >> we do expect that some of them will at least be there. it's not clear how many are going to testify. it's not clear if they have to testify according to
pennsylvania law there are certain allocations for change that go at a preliminary hearing, a leaving a witness from having to get on the stand. it's just a basic evidentiary hearing basically. this is only to say is there enough for this case to go to trial. this isn't a trial. i think a lot of people are expecting a mini trial. that's because it could last a long time tomorrow, but as jerry sandusky's attorney said last week when he was preparing his client, anybody who's looking for a bombshell is going to be disappointed. >> sarah ganim, thank you very much. first a loan gunman on a shooting rampage in broad daylight right on hollywood sunset boulevard. >> there's a madman in the street. oh, my god, are you all right? there's a madman. >> unbelievable. hear what happened next when a bystander got involved. then the future of iraq. we have a lot planned. president obama and iraq's prime
minister will hold a news conference. bring that to you live. one topic on the table, the deadline for u.s. troops to leave iraq and what it means for many long overdue reunions here at home. and this. >> seeing them deal with alcohol abuse, drug abuse, homelessness. that was the most difficult thing for me to see. i witnessed them save someone's life in iraq and they can't save their own anymore. it hurt me. the battle might be over in iraq. there's new struggle that begins for many veterans. who are you talking to? uh, it's jake from state farm. sounds like a really good deal. jake from state farm at three in the morning. who is this? it's jake from state farm. what are you wearing, jake from state farm? [ jake ] uh... khakis. she sounds hideous. well she's a guy, so... [ male announcer ] another reason more people stay with state farm. get to a better state. ♪
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>> on the street. oh, my god. are you all right? there's a madman just shot people. >> police don't know why a man randomly shot three people driving through an intersection in hollywood on friday. police shot and killed him after he pointed his gun at them. they say the man who filmed the video may have saved lives by distracting the shooter. four basketball players from each team suspended after this brawl at xavier university in ohio that happened on saturday. they were playing university of cincinna cincinnati. occupy protesters plain plan to go shut down major ports on the west coast. they say they're aiming to impact the wealthiest people.
they say the shutdown will only affect everyday folks. almost nine years after the start of the iraq war president obama is meeting with the prime minister of iraq to end the war. they want to discuss a pullout of troops by the end of the year. they'll take questions from reporters. want to bring in white house correspondent athena jones who is there. prime minister maliki, they want to discuss what is going to happen next. this is a promise that under bush, now fulfilled under obama, but it's not exactly what he wanted, right? they didn't want to pull out all the troops so quickly. what are they so concerned abouabou about. >> reporter: first of all, they're saying this is a promise capped on obama. yes, it's true it was president bush that negotiated this agreement. he did this at the end of 2008. the president has also said, look, i'm fulfilling this promise. there are a lot of people who thought maybe the date would get moved around a bit. you're right, there is concern
that now that all u.s. troops will be pulled out, none remaining to offer security, that that could create a vacuum or will leave a vacuum for neighboring countries like iran mainly to come in and cause problems. of course we know about the support for iuds and for extremist groups there. that's one of the biggest concerns here. the u.s. and iraqis were unable to reach an agreement on immunity for any troops that would remain. that was a real sticking point. they were unable to reach that deal so now you'll have right now only 6,000 troops remain in iraq in the next couple of weeks. they'll all be out in a couple of weeks. >> obama is recently criticized by the republican opponents saying that he supports appeasement in the middle east. he responded. he said, ask bin laden who we know is dead what they think about his support for
appeasement. by any measure and many measures he has been successful on the national security front. how important does the white house think that issue is in winning re-election? >> reporter: i think you can guess that the white house is going to be pretty confident. a lot of people didn't necessarily expect that osama bin laden would eventually be captured and he was. you can bet that the president is pretty confident about being able to run on that issue. it's certainly a pretty big deal. that's how they're approaching this election when it comes to issues like that. as you mentioned, he said ask osama bin laden whether i support appeasement. i think they probably feel that's a pretty winning issue for them as they approach 2012. >> we know the economy also a very big issue. athena, we're hearing protests outside the white house. pretty common. is there anything unusual about the protests today? >> reporter: it's interesting. you're right. there are always protests, almost on a daily basis. this one is linked to the fact that the president is meeting
with the eye prime minister. it's a group of iranian americans who are concerned about a camp in iraq. about 3400 iranian dissi dents have been living there. these are iranians who are against the current government in iran. the concern is that there's a december 31st deadline and they'll be closing the camp. these protesters are concerned about the forcible relocation of this group. it's a two-fold concern. they have listed this group as terrorists. they've enlisted an impressive list of u.s.-based supporters. we're talking about louie free, the former fbi director. there's also patrick kennedy, a former member of congress. these are people who are in support of them pushing to get them removed from that list and also hoping that these
dissidents don't get forcibly relocated. >> thank you very much. we'll be back at the white house when that press conference starts. at the height of the iraq war the u.s. had more than 170,000 troops on the ground. as of today about 6,000 u.s. troops remain in iraq. day by day american service men and women are returning home to their families and long-awaited reunions. >> feels great. great to be back with my family and friends. great to be back in mechanicsville. >> i love him. i thank god for answering my prayer, bringing them all back safely. that's a blessing. i love you. the battle doesn't always end when troops come home from war. as we know. we'll hear more about the struggles that they face and whether or not the war was even worth it. ♪
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for troops returning from the war in iraq the battle doesn't always end when they come back home. they face new struggles in their relationships, their emotions with alcohol and even suicide. cnn's kyra phillips covered the war extensively. recently she sat down with iraq veterans to talk about life after the war. >> our mission objectives, hit
the target. >> reporter: seven aircrafts did drop bombs over iraq. >> reporter: eight years ago i was there when the iraq war began. from the air. >> you've got it in your sights. >> reporter: land. >> the number of threats that ground troops are dealing with. >> reporter: and sea. >> there are five weapon stations on this special operations staff. >> reporter: i met some of the bravest men and women i've ever known. bravery that came at a physical and mental price. in one word, how would you describe the war in iraq. >> sacrifice. >> bittersweet. >> mistake. >> reporter: these are veterans of operation iraqi freedom from the army, air force, marines. all impacted in some way by this war. >> reporter: was the war worth it to you. >> as an infantryman i was on the ground a lot. i talked to a lot of families and individuals in the iraqi populus. >> reporter: staff sergeant josh aguilar was on the ground when the war began. his first of three doe
employments. >> i feel that as long as i gave someone the same hopes and freedoms and dreams that we can have everyday, then maybe some of those things i did, some of the sacrifices that my friends made were worth a little bit of something. >> reporter: he retired six months ago and starts school in january. sarah, how about you? was it worth it? >> i think i'm on the fence. there have been a lot of casualties but how many more would there have been? >> reporter: staff sergeant is now a pararlegal and works at a private security company. >> reporter: you were a teenager building bombs. how did you process that? >> you build those bombs, they don't come back. you know that someone's dead. it's hard to be happy about that, but at the same time i was happy that it wasn't me. >> reporter: how did that change you? >> i think at the time you just kind of become cold and callous to it. it's self-preservation. >> reporter: that you went from
being a u.s. marine to studying peace in conflict at uc berkeley. talk about a switch. >> i have a hard time understanding why we went there in the first place. going in under false pretenses for weapons of mass destruction. wanted to gain a better understanding of what i experienced. getting out of the military took me at least a year to try to negotiate being a civilian again. >> reporter: negotiate being a civilian. what do you mean by that? >> he was very definitely ready to end my five-year enlistment but when i got out i didn't anticipate the feeling of loss, especially in terms of the really strong ties and bonds between me and the guys that i served with. >> i struggled with seeing my friends contemplate suicide. >> reporter: jessie stang was an army sergeant in iraq. now with a degree in sociology, she's dedicating her life to saving fellow vets. >> seeing them deal with alcohol abuse, drug abuse, homelessness,
that was the most difficult thing for me to see. i witnessed them save someone's life in iraq and they can't save their own anymore? it hurt me. >> reporter: ramsy raher was an army specialist honorably discharged just five months ago. he's now living in a transitional housing facility. >> reporter: you've also struggled kwietd a bit since you got back. you're two months sober. that's positive. >> yes. >> reporter: why did you turn to alcohol? >> i had to see good, patriotic americans that were fathers, that were good parents, good sons, good daughters pay the ultimate sacrifice, and that played a heavy emotional toll on myself. >> reporter: ramsy received two purple hearts in less than a year. >> there was small arms contact, mortar attacks, rpg attacks, indirect fire on bases. you're constantly dealing with a barrage of ammunitions. some of those events still haunt
me. >> reporter: do you feel safe now? >> now that i'm soeb were, yes. >> reporter: the war in iraq, how did it impact your marriages, families? >> you know how they say the first year of marriage is tough? try deploying three months after you get married. you learn a lot with yourself, about your marriage, about your spouse. we had a lot of fights, but we talked it out and i can definitely say that our marriage is much stronger. >> reporter: josh, you've got a bit of a different story. >> a little bit. six months before i deployed the first time i was married. i remember writing my wife a letter saying things are different for me. i can feel them. i can tell. so when i came home on top of me dealing with my own issues, on top of her becoming pregnant with our first child, it caused a lot of big gaps in our relationship. by the time i deployed for my second deployment a year and a half later, it was over. as i was walking out the door i already knew this is the last time we're going to share a home together. >> reporter: our troops are
coming home. what's your advice? >> my advice is just listen to the command. they do a very good job of giving mandatory briefings that deal with subjects such as suicide, domestic abuse, alcohol abuse and don't diminish the good work that you did. >> you have to be open. you have to communicate. you have to be willing to talk about what you're feeling, otherwise, you're just going to ball it up and be angry. >> realistically people are not necessarily meant to kill other people. they're going to have a reaction to that. >> fighting those emotions and fighting those problems on your own isn't going to help. you fight as a team. you need help as a team. >> 18 veterans succeed in committing suicide a day and 32 veterans attempt to commit suicide every day. these are insane statistics, and it's real. i always think about everyone that we've lost in iraq, and i live my life to fulfill what they could have done in the
future but they can't now. >> reporter: five voices of survival and sacrifice soon to be joined by the nearly 40,000 troops headed home leaving iraq for good. kyra phillips, she joins us life. that's such powerful reporting that you did during the war and obviously as they come home. i applaud you as a colleague and a friend. the men and women who serve in iraq, you've spoken to many of them, do many of them think it was worth the sacrifice when it's all said and done? >> it's such a great question. it's a loaded question for sure. suzanne, thanks so much for lifting me up. i've kept in touch with so many of the vets for so many years and i'll be really straightforward with you. not one from the highest ranking general, admiral, all the way down to the youngest ensen that i stayed in touch with said to
me 100% on every level that war was worth it. they are all struggle being. the positive side, yes, it was worth serving my country. it was worth building the friendships that i did with other men and women in the military. getting to know the iraqi families, iraqi kids, that is what was worth it to them. overall, the men and women that they lost, the friends that they lost, the deaths, suicides, the ptsd, that wasn't worth it. the feeling of loss was too big. more than anything, you heard jessie say it in that piece. she said the hardest thing for her was she could watch her colleagues save lives but they couldn't save their own. that's just been too much for them to bear at this point. >> we're going to talk with you a little bit about some other issues. is there anything that really stood out on all of your trips there and the conversations you had, any memory of yours that
really made an impression on you? >> that's interesting because i, as a journalist, and i know we've talked about this before, have asked myself because i was there at the beginning and i went back several times afterwards, and i could see progress. going to the school for the deaf, the school for the blind and watching these iraqi kids actually have resources now and the chance for a better education. seeing women in the university having more freedom. it was little things like that where i thought, wow, there are fabulous things happening for the iraqi people, but then i was also being invited to more and more funerals. that's a tough question when you ask what was the most memorable part. the patriotism was pretty amazing but the loss of life is something that i don't -- i think about every day. >> yeah. it doesn't go away. it doesn't leave you. kyra, we're going to take a closer look at what is ahead for the united states in iraq and she'll come back along with wolf
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president new hampshire meuri a. i want to talk about a couple turning points on the road where we were today and virtually all u.s. troops pulling out of iraq in the next three weeks. with u.s. casualties mounting, violence rampant in iraq, a u.s. troop surge began in january of 2007. u.s. troop levels increased more than 150,000 during that same year, then candidate obama was promising to end the war. >> we will bring our troops home. it is time to bring this war to a close. it is time to recognize there's no military solution to the problems in iraq. it is time to turn the page. >> in november of 2008 the bush administration and the iraqi parliament agree on a withdrawal of u.s. troops by the end of 2011. the u.s. had planned to leave several thousand troops behind as trainers, but iraq refused to grant them immunity. after that agreement fell apart president obama announced in october that the u.s. would complete its withdrawal by the
end of the year. so we're going to wait for the news conference that will happen momentarily. president obama and prime minister nuri al-maliki. in the meantime you will ill' talk to three of my colleagues about the end of the war in iraq and iraq on its own. cnn's wolf blitzer in washington, kyra phillips and also in baghdad. wolf, i want to start off with you, in covering president bush what struck me always was the moving goal posts. first the definition of winning this war. in the beginning it was about going after weapons of mass destruction. then it turned into liberating the iraqi people from saddam hussein and then bringing democracy to the middle east. how does president obama define winning this war? what does he walk away with? >> reporter: he's not going to save the united states as a mission accomplished moment or winning the war. he's very precise in his words. 's not going to do any high-fiving or anything like that right now as almost all u.s. troops will be out of iraq
by the end of this month. he's going to be cautious because he and all of his advisors are fully aware, they've basically told me and a lot of other people, of their deep concerns that no one knows where this government of nuri al-maliki, the prime minister of iraq, is going to go. will they strengthen the relationship with iran, their big neighbor? will they go ahead and undermine the movement towards democracy elsewhere? they're very upset, very worried about iraq. nuri al-maliki's government support for bashara al-assad in syria. lebanon is the only country that refuses to go along with the rest of the arab world, arab league in condemning and impositions sanctions for what it's doing against peaceful protesters throughout the country. these are very worrying signs and a lot of officials and outside experts are very worried about where this direction, where this iraqi government is
going. we'll hear some reassuring words, i'm sure, from nuri al-maliki in this joint news conference with the president, but what he says will be significant. what he does in the coming weeks and months will obviously be so much more important. >> wolf, we'll get to you in a minute. i want to bring in arla who's out of baghdad. he talks about nuri al-maliki and this becoming more of a stable place, at least that's what the prime minister has said. what is life like for the iraqis now? >> reporter: suzanne, it's utterly heart breaking and incredibly difficult. iraqis, especially those in the capital baghdad hardly have a normal life. for them it has become normal. this is a city of blast walls, check points. they still don't have basic services. attacks are still ongoing even as the u.s. is gearing towards withdrawing all of its troops here by the end of the month. we still have acts of violence that are not only taking people's lives but leaving them horribly mutilated.
one of our teams was out visiting with a 29-year-old woman who lost her leg in a recent explosion. we were visiting the city of faluza where a policeman living on the outskirts had his house blown up by members of al qaeda. his family was killed. that is what iraqis are still dealing with every day. when people compare the numbers, when you talk about what's happening now versus what happened at the height of the violence, of course one can paint something of a positive image, but the reality is that the violence for iraqis, challenges and uncertainties continue every single day. >> that's very powerful. i want to bring in kyra phillips. she's back with us as well. she has covered the war for eight years and had numerous trips there. kyra, what do you walk away with? this is a turning point here. you talked to a lot of the men and women who actually served? >> reporter: one thing arwa was mentioning is still how iraq
deals with so much violence every single day and that you walk through there and it still looks like such a battle zone. one of the last trips i made back there i want to point out that the resilience of the iraqi people is absolutely amazing. i mentioned this a little bit earlier, that i had a chance to go to the university of baghdad, the school for the deaf, the school for the blind, the college for women, the sports college for women, and it really was amazing to me that i would ask them about the war. yeah, we deal with the war. we have to pay attention to the violence. we have to be much more careful. we have to watch what we say, what we do, but they're still trying to live life the way everybody wanted them to be able to live their lives after the war. so they're still trying to get to work, to get to school, to get to their teaching job, to get an education. i just want to point that out, that while every day they're so
fearful, at the same time they are so resilient and they're trying to make their lives better and they're trying to just get through day to day. >> wolf, i want to bring you back into the conversation here. the president, he brings forward and he says, look, this is a campaign promise i made. i'm fulfilling this promise. the men and women are coming home. you look at the state in afghanistan,'s trying to draw down that war as well. you had bin laden killed. all of this happens under his watch. how important is that for this president when he is looking forward to 2012? is it all about the economy or does he get some credit for this? >> reporter: a lot will depend in iraq. let's start there. a lot depends on what happens between now and november of next year. the republicans will be very critical of him if the situation deteriorates. they'll say he should have fought harder to negotiate a continued large-scale military presence. not just 5,000 or 10,000 troops, maybe 20,000 or 25,000 troops should have remained and that could have stabilized the
situation. does the government in baghdad move closer to iran or does it maintain some sort of good strategic relationship with the united states? that will be an issue. as far as afghanistan is concerned, u.s. troops will remain there for at least another three years. they'll stay there until the end of 2014 even though there will be a reduction in the surge troops that went in. they'll go from about 100,000 to close to 70,000 by the end of next year but there still will be 70,000 u.s. troops that will remain in 2013, 2014 in afghanistan. there's a long-term u.s. commitment to afghanistan costing taxpayers about $2 billion a week, more than $100 billion a year. these will be issues, there's no doubt about it, in the campaign. we've covered politics for a long time. we know the economy and jobs will remain issue number one. >> afghanistan having been there in september, that job is a huge one and certainly there's a lot
of doubts whether or not they'll be able to hand over security to the afghan people within that very short window of time. i want to bring back arwa. tell us about the iraqi people. you said things are very difficult for them now. do they want us to leave? >> reporter: you know, it's a real mixed bag of emotion when is it comes to that. it's not a yes or no answer, suzanne. for many iraqis this u.s. troop withdrawal comes with a lot of tense and confusing emotions. many iraqis are fearful of what the future will bring. they don't have a lot of faith in the capability of the iraqi security forces. minorities are petrified that they're going to continue to be attacked but at the same time some of those we met in the last few days are saying, look, the u.s. has been here all along and they haven't been able to protect us so what is the difference if they do leave or not? others are very concerned that a security vacuum is going to be left behind and that vacuum could be once generally filled by extreme sunni elements.
there's a lot of concern about the path the iraqi government is going to take and very little faith in its ability to truly be a national is tick one. there are opponents of nuri al-maliki, critics, who say he is consolidating power. he is launching a targeted campaign against the sunni population. he's throwing people behind bars to gain an even greater grip. many people say they're very worried about the influence iran has over the country and how close the iraqi and iranian governments are. the u.s. military especially going to be focusing on how iran plays its cards once they leave. >> i want to bring back kyra. you interviewed timothy keating this last hour. i want viewers to get a sense and hear how he responded when you asked him whether or not the war was even worth it. >> eight years later, was that war worth it? >> sure. yes, ma'am, it was.
>> you don't feel in any way, shape or form you were duped to the reasons why we went to war? >> no. i and the folks with whom i dealt were very clear about t kier rampt as i say, tough decisions. might like to have done some things a little different or a lot different than we did, but in retrospect, again, i'm proud to have participated to the extent that i did. i salute the young men and women who did the real fighting. >> those men and women that did the real fighting, final thought. they have come back with ptsd, suicides have been off the charts, alcoholism, divorces, domestic abuse. what do you say to the troops coming home? what do you say to those vets that are wondering? >> i say thanks for your service. thanks for demonstrating a crucible that is unimaginable.
get as much help as you need as quickly as you need t. don't be reluctant or afraid. >> kyra, are they getting the help they need? >> reporter: oh, boy. you know, when i asked him, was the war worth it? i mean, admiral keating has had such a rich career. he saw his men and women, he saw all of the men and women, their bravery, their ability to execute a war plan efficiently. "shock and awe" took seven minutes. the bombs hit the targets. so was the war worth it? it took out a horrible dictator. we showed how powerful we are as a u.s. military, but what admiral keating admitted to me in that interview was we were not ready for after saddam, for after "shock and awe" and what was about to happen with all the terrorists and the other networks infiltrating that country. that is where military leaders and members of our military are struggling.
we have the best military in the world in the capabilities. you saw i was there with the fighter pilots flying in the f 14. i was with the navy seals. i was out on the destroyer. i saw how capable and how incredible our military is but it was afterwards that nobody -- they didn't even think it was going to get as bad as it is now. they weren't prepared for that. they didn't plan that. they didn't execute it well. so that's why we are seeing so many failures and controversy right now in that country. >> thank you very much, kier rampt excellent reporting as always. we're waiting for the president as well as the prime minister nuri al-maliki who are going to be speaking at the white house. making statements, taking questions as troop withdrawal happens and these events unfold. again, prime minister, nuri al-maliki, the president, president obama at the white house just moments away. i habe a cohd.
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we're waiting a news conference, president obama and the iraqi prime minister nuri al-maliki. they'll be speaking momentarily. i want to bring wolf back into the conversation. wolf, one of the things that struck me, at least during the bush administration, is that the president, president bush, was always reminding americans about the september 11th attacks when he talked about the war with afghanistan, but also the war with iraq that had nothing to do
with september 11th. i think it really made an impression on the psyche of this country, a country that was at war. do you think things will be different under president obama when you have these troops that are withdrawn? that perhaps we are not a country, a nation of people that is constantly thinking about being at war? >> reporter: well, the longer we go away from 9/11, obviously the less of an impact it'll have, although it will remain in our psyche and our history forever. there's no doubt the more you get away from that and the more peaceful it is, especially now that bin laden has been killed, people will begin to move away from that kind of thinking which led the president, president bush to go ahead and authorize the war in iraq in march of 2003 and continue until basically now. as we get ready, suzanne, to hear from the president and the iraqi prime minister, let's not forget some 16,000 americans are going to remain in iraq even
after the end of this month when all u.s. troops are supposed to be gone. about 5,000 or so diplomats and diplomatic support staff and maybe as many as 15,000 private u.s. contractors who will be there to try to protect those diplomats, counselor officials. there will be the largest embassy in the world in baghdad. thousands and thousands of americans will be there. there won't be a robust u.s. military presence. there might be a few hundred trainers. they won't have diplomatic immunity. the prime minister rejected any immunity for remaining u.s. troops. that's the main reason why thousands of u.s. troops won't remain there right now. there will still be a huge u.s. presence. the great fear, i don't know if the president or prime minister will get into it today, but the great fear is that these americans who will remain in iraq, the diplomats, diplomatic support team, contractors will
be very, very vulnerable. they'll be relying on iraqi military, iraqi police for protection. a lot of u.s. officials are deeply worried that they'll start killing americans to get the remaining americans out which would obviously open the door for even a closer leadersh in iraq and the shiite leadership in iran. that's a great nightmare scenario. it is one that some u.s. officials play down and no doubt, the president and the prime minister will play that down right now. but i can assure you, a lot of experts who have studied iraq are deeply worried about the coming months what's going to happen there. >> arwa, talk a little bit about that, what wolf just mentioned there. there will be some americans who will remain there. what are the feelings of the iraqis towards those americans that are there? are they in danger? is there that threat there? >> reporter: well, look. there is this certain scenario that does exist here and that is that the americans are viewed by some of these shia special groups directly backed by the
iranian qods force that they are viewed to be occupiers, they are basically the exact a thing as the u.s. military. that's why the u.s. is so greatly concerned what's going to happen once the military leaves. after that the proximity wolf was talking about between the leadership in iran and the shia leadership here in iraq, including the prime minister himself, one has to wait and see exactly how iran is going to decide to move forward with this relationship with iraq, is it going to try to somehow maintain something of an underground armed presence here, a card that can it continuously play against the united states and against the iraqi government. or is it really going to move forward in a political track? not much faith in that second option. when it comes to the iraqi population, suzanne, they look at these dynamics happening at a political level and they are so utterly disappointed with their own diplomats, with their own government, with the united states, and to a certain degree they believe allowed this government to remain -- or even brought it to power despite the
fact that there were elections here. there is a lot of disappointment with the fact that the u.s. is leaving behind a fairly shattered nation. when we talk about the iraqi government, even at this point in time, suzanne, it is still not fully formed. the security council. ministries of defense and interior. they do not even have permanent ministers at their head. the prime minister himself has consolidated all of this power. this is causing great concern as well. but iraqis by and large as a population feel like they are pawns to powers, both internally and externally, over which they have no control. powers who have absolutely no regard for the well being of the iraqi people themselves. >> arwa damon, thank you very much. we're going to have our full panel after a quick break. we are watching and waiting the white house. president obama and iraqi prime minister nuri al maliki to address reporters momentarily.
keeping an eye on the markets. concern about the debt crisis in europe is erasing now all of last friday's gains. right now stocks are down more than 200 points or so. we are also keeping a close eye at the white house, what's happening there. president obama and iraqi prime minister nuri al maliki both to speak before reporters as we anticipate u.s. troop withdrawal from that country by the end of the year. we'll have more after a quick break. tato with bacon.
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house here president obama and the iraqi prime minister nuri al maliki both of them holding a news conference very shortly. we are keeping our eye on that. obviously this comes as the u.s. troops withdraw by the end of the year. want to bring in my colleagues very quickly here, wolf blitzer in washington. first of all, wolf, what does the president need to say here to fulfill that campaign promise that, yes, this war is wrapping up and it is over? >> well, it's taken him almost three years in his administration. he certainly made it a campaign commitment to get the u.s. troops out of iraq and he's living up to that. he did it, by the way, in accordance with an agreement that his predecessor, president george w. bush worked out in the final months of the bush administration and they set this target date december 2011 for all u.s. troops getting out of iraq. that's what the iraqis wanted and the u.s. wanted at that time. the president did not accelerate it or push it back or anything like that. he is doing it according to the
letter. now the dispute arises over whether or not 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 u.s. troops should have remained. the obama administration tried to get the iraqi government of nuri al maliki to accept a limited u.s. military presence beyond the end of this month. the iraqis government adamantly rejected any notion of immunity for u.s. troops which is a basic essential for u.s. troops to remain in a foreign country, whether in japan or south korea or germany or afghanistan or any place else. the iraqi government and nuri al maliki said many members of their coalition, the shiites who are linked to iran would never accept that. they didn't accept it and as a result, u.s. troops are going to be out within the next few days. >> all right. thank you, wolf. there's a lot of political buzz as well this morning centering on the weekend's gop debate. at one point mitt romney criticized the front-runner newt gingrich as being a political pro while marking himself as an outsider. check out this exchange. gingrich snapping off a comeback
here and romney showing he was quick on his feet as well. >> we have differences of viewpoint on some issues but the real difference i believe is our backgrounds. i spent my life in the private sector. i understand how the economy works. >> the only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to teddy kennedy in 1994. >> now wait a second. now wait a second. now wait. >> if i had beaten ted kennedy, could i have been a career politician, that's probably true. if i would have been able to get in the nfl, like i hoped when i was a kid, i would have been a football star all my life, too. i spent my life in the private sector. losing to teddy kennedy was probably the best thing i could have done for preparing me for the job i'm seeking. >> keeping an eye on the markets as well. uncertainty now about the debt crisis in europe is now erasing all of last friday's gains. that's right.
it is tough news to take. the stock down more than 220 points. bringing a live update from the new york stock exchange in just a bit. 14-year-old boy who was kidnapped by terrorists in the philippines escaped, hiked for two days only with candy and coconuts to eat. he was reunited with his mom today after being held hostage for five months. his dad says the boy snuck away while the guards were sleeping. critical witness in the penn state child sex abuse case may run into credibility problems. assistant football coach mike mcqueary told a grand jury that he saw jerry sandusky raping a boy in the penn state shower. however, cnn contributor sara ganim has learned that a family friend testified that mcqueary told him he had heard what he says sex acts. he saw a boy poke his head out of the showers but an adult arm pulled him back. moments later according to sara's reporting, sandusky left the shower in a towel.
the supreme court announced today it's going to decide whether arizona can enforce its strict immigration law. federal appeals court blocked four provisions, the most contentious -- the requirement that police determine the immigration status of anybody they stop or arrest. now the obama administration argues that states have no authority to set immigration policy. we want to bring in our wolf blitzer and arwa damon who are standing by as we watch at the white house. president obama and the prime minister, nuri al maliki, to speak momentarily. arwa, i want to go to you. the u.s. is going to be pulling out the remainder of the troops but there are some people who are going to stay. how does that work with independent contractors, the folks that are going to be there, will they have security and do you think that they're safe? >> well, this is what we're going to see an ever-increasingly important role for those private security contractors whose role in iraq to date has already proven to be
so trofl. but yes, it is going to be an incredibly challenging situation for them because they are not going to have the u.s. military to call on if in fact something drastic and dramatic like some sort of an attack should take place. just to show you how concerned they are right now, the u.s. embassy has actually recently put out a warning to all of its employees, to americans, a warning against a heightened kidnapping threat, specifically kidnappings to be carried out by these shia special groups. those as we mentioned earlier, are these groups directly backed by the iranian qods force. there's a lot of concern. a lot of these areas where the u.s. is trying to set up consulates where it has these satellite establishments, they are coming under fairly regular attack. mortar attack. another great concern is the u.s. military is highlighting as well, whether or not these shia special groups are going to view the u.s. embassy staff that's left behind as being part of the occupati occupation.
if they do view them as being part of the occupation, are they going to continue to try to directly target them. so the u.s. military's really withdrawing in quite an atmosphere of uncertainty and volatility, not just when it comes to security of the american staff left behind, the embassy staff left behind, but also the iraqi people. >> arwa, before you had president bush talking about bringing democracy to the middle east, that this was really going to change the whole region. so there were no weapons of mass destruction. saddam hussein is gone and what are iraqis left with? is there some semblance here of a democratic society? >> suzanne, i was talking to a woman just a few days ago. i met her a few years back. she lost her husband in an explosion. she working as a university professor right now, very elegant sophisticated woman. she says when the u.s. was first coming to iraq, she was happy about it. but after having lost so much,
she said that she only has a few questions with a lot of question marks happening after that and she wants to know why, why did america make so many mistakes in iraq, did they do this deliberately or did they do this out of ignorance? that's a question we're actually hearing from a lot of iraqis, because they do believe that america could have played its cards correctly, that it could have had, had it chosen to do so, listened to the right people, it could have avoided these inexcusable, devastating and detrimental mistakes that happened at the outset of the war like disbanding the iraqi army, alienating former ba eer baathists, effectively laying down the framework for al qaeda and other terrorist groups to turn this into an utterly ugly and devastating playground. iraqis have a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to exactly what america was trying to accomplish here. because even though, yes, there were elections, even though, yes, there is a semblance of democracy, this by no way, shape or form is a functioning or
stable state. >> arwa damon out of baghdad. we are waiting at the white house for president obama and nuri al maliki, the prime minister of iraq, to give a news conference. as soon as that happens, we'll take you there. we're going to just take a quick break. people with a machine. what ? customers didn't like it. so why do banks do it ? hello ? hello ?! if your bank doesn't let you talk to a real person 24/7, you need an ally. hello ? ally bank. no nonsense. just people sense.
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your new progresso rich & hearty steak burger soup. [ dad ] i love this new soup. it's his two favorite things in one... burgers and soup. did you hear him honey? burgers and soup. love you. they're cute. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. gop candidates for president are putting their own spin on the debate performances on saturday. some cases damage control. take mitt romney's off-the-cuff $10,000 bet he challenged rick perry to take. some say mitt romney treats $10,000 as he would a $10 bill.
there were other memorable moments in new york. cnn contributor john avlon's been digesting all of this. john, initial impressions here? who actually stood out? >> you know, newt gingrich had -- was going to get a lot of incoming fire. he did and he hand it pretty well, including some really tough questions about his personal life but he did not lose this debate which means it is a win. he handled that poll position with some authority and showing some evidence of that new maturity which his team is trying to talk about. mitt romney, that 10k comment has real lly sucked up a lot of oxygen and attention. he didn't really have any knock-out punches of newt. >> what do you think about bachmann, the newt-romney combo that she talked about? >> that's a good line. she is trying to distance herself from the conventional wisdom front-runner so she deserves credit for that. ron paul had a very strong debate, too. one of the stories now 22 days out of iowa we might talk about how strong ron paul's support is
in that state. >> mitt romney took on newt gingrich here. take a listen. >> this is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage and we refuse to tell the truth when the other side lies and you're not going to win in the long run if you are afraid to stand firm and stand for the truth. >> of course you stand firm and stand for the truth. but you don't speak for israel. if netanyahu wants to say what you said, let him say it. >> a lot of people looked at that thinking gingrich really put himself out there and this is far from what you see in the bush administration, the obama administration and many of the other candidates, his position when it comes to israel and the palestinians. >> that's right. and yet this bit of red meat got huge applause inside the hall of drake university saturday night. it is unusual to spend 15 minutes of a presidential debate talking about whether or not
palestinians are a "invented people," but that's just what we did. it is a very heartfelt issue and a very passionate issue particularly among the evangelical base out there in iowa. newt's basically trying to say, look, it may sound extreme but that's the kind of straight talk that we got from ronald reagan in the past. we can't be afraid to do that in the future. >> let's kind of square this, head-to-head match-up for president, rommy verney versus gingrich. >> florida is the real question. south carolina is going to go republican. i love the state but that's clearly the trend. what's fascinating if you look at florida in particular right now, suzanne, is that newt's been able to build up a huge lead on mitt romney in the primaries. but you have to think that mitt romney's got more ability to compete in the general, reaching out to swing voters, centrists, and that will be a tougher sell for newt gingrich to make. >> this was a moment as well. a lot of people saw this. this was perry going after
gingrich on the cheating issue. i want you to listen to this. >> why if you will cheat on your spouse, then why wouldn't you cheat on your business partner or why wouldn't you cheat on anybody for that matter? >> i've made mistakes at times. i've had to go to god for forgiveness. i've had to seek reconciliation. but i'm also a 68-year-old grandfather and i think people have to measure who i am now and whether i'm a person they can trust. >> so do the voters forgive him yet, john? what do you think? >> to a large extent, newt gingrich's negatives are already baked in his cake. so absent any new scandals, people understand who he is and the totality of his career. it is a tough line of questioning but i think newt hand it pretty well aside from that scowl you saw on the side. he basically said, look, people have to make up their own mind, it is a legitimate line of questioning but you need to put it in a larger context then talked about his own narrative of redemption, praying for forgiveness, et cetera. i think he hand that very tough line of questioning pretty well.
kept his cool in general and didn't say that it is not a legitimate line of question but said that people need to judge his totality of his career. i think that's probably the right and honest answer. >> all right. john avlon, watching all things political. thank you. cnn hero of the year, her story up next. very inspiring. sniffs ] i took l but my nose is still runny. [ male announcer ] truth is, dayquil doesn't treat that. really? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your runny nose. [ deep breath] awesome. [ male announcer ] yes, it is. that's the cold truth!
we are awaiting a news conference, president obama and the iraqi prime minister, nuri al maliki, to take questions, making statements, as well, at the white house. that should be happening momentarily talking about the u.s. troop withdrawal from that country. a significant number of forces, remaining forces to be withdrawn out of iraq by the end of the
year. also want to follow as well what's making headlines cross-country. >> -- in the streets. oh, my god! there is a madman just shot people. >> police don't know why this man randomly shot three people driving through an intersection in hollywood on friday. police shot and killed him after he pointed the gun at them. they say the man who filmed the video may have saved lives by distracting that shooter. four basketball players from each team were suspended after this brawl at xavier university in ohio on saturday. they were playing their rivals, university of cincinnati, and school officials and players have apologized. occupy protesters are gathering at major ports up and down the west coast in an attempt to shut them down. that's right. they say that they are aiming to
impact the wealthiest people and corporations. but port officials say shutdowns only going to affect every day workers. after five weeks of accusations of child molestation, jerry sandusky gets a chance to confront his accusers in court. we're going to look ahead to tomorrow's preliminary hearing. , dayquil doesn't treat that. really? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your runny nose. [ deep breath] awesome. [ male announcer ] yes, it is. that's the cold truth!
healthy births is now our cnn hero of the year. here she is. >> my name is robin lim. i'm a mid wife. most people call me ibu robin because ibu is mother. i've learned about the dangers of motherhood when my own sister, she died of a complication of her pregnancy. i was just really crushed. i came to bali to re-invent my life. i started the clinic run by asian mid wives. we offer prenatal care, birth services. no matter how poor they are, no matter their race or religion. we teach new graduating classes of mid wives how to do a more natural, gentle birth. >> joining us now from los angeles, robin lim, also known as mother robin. robin, first of all, just congratulations. i mean just the amazing work that you do and to receive what?
$300,000 for your cause. what will this mean for you? >> we can begin to build a new clinic. the clinic that we have is, oh, let's say it's falling apart, and also our lease will be finished in about four years and so we do have to move. >> i know that phone there probably ringing off the hook there for you since you got the award. you do such amazing -- >> sorry. >> no, no, no! i'm sure everybody wants a little bit of you at this moment. what's been the most rewarding thing about what you've done at this health clinic? >> every single time you get to spend time watching a woman unfold and become a mother, you get to rub her back and hold her and be with her for her miracle and to bring her safely across that bridge, i think for every
mid wife, for everyone who mothers the mother, and for every ob-gyn, we share this amazing profession in which she share the miracles of a growing family. and to bring a mother across that bridge safely and her baby into the world gently is -- it is just amazing every day. >> and this is an extremely personal cause because of your family. your sister, the tragedy of her passing away. what do you think she would think about the kind of work that you do with these women now? >> i hope she's watching. she was such a gentle, positive person. i just can't remember her ever speaking a negative word about any other person. so, you know, just seems to me like she is like an angel
watching over our projects. >> well, you do amazing work and we appreciate you and so many women appreciate you and what you do and once again, congratulations so much for becoming a cnn hero of the year. there are so many people whose lives you change and save. thank you once again, robin. she's an amazing woman. we are actually getting a two-minute warning that the white house press conference is going to start momentarily. we are awaiting president obama and the iraqi prime minister nuri al maliki to come before the microphones. they'll be making statements. they'll also be taking questions from reporters. comes at a very critical time here. we're talking about u.s. troops, most of the u.s. troops withdrawing out of iraq by the end of the year. part of an agreement made with iraq under the bush administration fulfilled by the
obama administration. want to bring in wolf blitzer. so wolf, what do we make of what the president is going to say? he's had a lot of national security successes and wins here. i'm wondering how significant that is to voters when you look at 2012. >> it is important, no doubt about that. it is an important issue going into a presidential general election season and the president will point to the fact that he did live up to his campaign commitment to withdraw u.s. forces from iraq. let's see what happens in iraq over the next few months. one thing i think we should be looking for and see if it comes up in the q&a -- actually, there they are. >> please, have a seat. good afternoon, everyone. when i took office nearly 150,000 american troops were deployed in iraq. my pledge to end this war was possible. today only several thousand
troops remain there and more are coming home every day. this is a season of homecomings. military families across america are being reunited for the holidays. in coming days, the last american soldiers will cross the border out of iraq with honor, and with their heads held high. after nearly nine years, our war in iraq ends this month. today i'm proud to welcome prime minister maliki, the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant, and democratic iraq. we're here to mark the end of this war to honor the sacrifices of all those who made this day possible and to turn the page, begin a new chapter in the history between our countries. a normal relationship between sovereign nations. an equal partnership based on
mutual interests and mutual respect. iraq faces great challenges, but today reflects the impressive progress that iraqis have made. millions have cast their ballots, some risking or giving their lives to vote in free elections. the prime minister leads iraq's most inclusive government yet. iraqis are working to build institutions that are efficient and independent and transparent. economically, iraqis continue to invest in their infrastructure and development and i think it is worth considering some remarkable statistics. in the coming years it is estimated that iraq's economy will grow even faster than china's, or india's. wi with oil production rising, iraq is on track to once again be one of the region's leading oil producers. with respect to security, iraqi forces have been in the lead for the better part of three years
patrolling the streets, dismantling militias, conducting counterterrorism operations. today, despite continued attacks by those who seek to derail iraq's progress, violence remains at record lows. mr. prime minister, that's a tribute to your leadership and to the skill and sacrifices of iraqi forces. across the region, iraq is forging new ties of trade and commerce with its neighbors and iraq is assuming its rightful place among the xhuchcommunity nations. for the first time in two decades iraq is scheduled to host the next arab league summit. and what a powerful message that will send throughout the arab world. people throughout the region will see a new iraq that's determining its own destiny, a country in which people from different religious sects and ethnicities can resolve their differences peacefully through the democratic process. mr. prime minister, as we end
this war, and as iraq faces its future, the iraqi people must know that you will not stand alone. you have a strong and enduring partner in the united states of america. and so today the prime minister and i are re-affirming our common vision of a long-term partnership between our nations. this is in keeping with our strategic framework agreement and it will be like the close relationships we have with other sovereign nations. simply put, we are building a comprehensive partnership. mr. prime minister, you said that iraqis seek democracy, a state of citizens and not sects. so we're partnering to strengthen the institutions upon which iraq's democracy depends. free elections, a vibrant press, a strong civil society, professional police and law enforcement that uphold the rule of law, an independent judiciary that delivers justice fairly, and transparent institutions that serve all iraqis.
we're partnering to expand our trade and commerce. we'll make it easier for our businesses to export and innovate together. we'll share our experiences in agriculture and in health care and we'll work together to develop iraq's energy sector even as the iraqi economy diversifies and we'll deepen iraq's integration into the global economy. we're partnering to expand ties between our citizens, especially our young people. through efforts like the fu fullbright program we are welcoming iraqis students to study and combine our generations together in years to come. we'll partner in science and technology. we'll partner for our shared security. mr. prime minister, we discussed how the united states could help iraq train and equip its forces, not by stationing american troops there or with u.s. bases in iraq. those days are over.
but rather, the kind of training and assistance we offer to other countries. given the challenges we face together in a rapidly changing region, we also agreed to establish a new formal channel of communication between our national security advisors. finally, we're partnering for regional security for just as iraq has pledged not to interfere in other nations, other nations must not interfere in iraq. iraq's sovereignty must be respected. meanwhile, there should be no doubt the drawdown in iraq has allowed us to refocus our resources, achieve progress in afghanistan, put al qaeda on the path to defeat, and to better prepare for the full range of challenges that lie ahead. so make no mistake, our strong presence in the middle east endures and the united states will never waver in defense of our allies, our partners or our interests. this is the shared vision that prime minister maliki and i
re-affirmed today. an equal partnership, a broad relationship that advances the security, the prosperity and the aspirations of both our people. mr. prime minister, you've said it yourself. building a strong and durable relationship between our two countries is vital and could i not agree more. so this is an historic moment, a war is ending, a new day is upon us, and let us never forget those who gave us this chance. the untold number of iraqis who have given their lives. more than 1 million americans, military and civilian, who have served in iraq. nearly 4,500 fallen americans who gave their last full measure of devotion. tens of thousands of wounded warriors, and so many inspiring military families. they are the region that we can stand here today and we owe it to every single one of them. we have a moral obligation to
all of them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice. mr. prime minister. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> translator: -- common obligations of ending war and the common commitment that we wish the american forces withdraw from iraq which is a withdrawal that dictates success and not like others have said, that it was negative. but the goals that we established were achieved. iraq had a political process established, a democratic
process, and adoption of the principles of elections and the peaceful transfer of authority. iraq is following a policy -- a foreign policy which it does not intervene in the affairs of others and does not allow the others to intervene in its own affairs. iraq is looking for common ground with the others and establishes its interests at the forefront and interests of the others which he is concerned about, like from any confusion. your excellency, today we meet in washington after we have completed the first page of a constructive cooperation in which we also thank you and appreciate you for your commitment to everything that you have committed yourself to and anyone who observes the nature of the relationship between the two countries will
say that the relationship will not end with the departure of the last american soldier. it only started. when it was signed in 2008, in addition to the withdrawal, was strategic framework agreement for the relationship between our two countries and because we have proven success on the first mission, a very unique success, nobody imagined that we would succeed in defeating terrorism and al qaeda. we must also establish the necessary steps in order to succeed in our second stage which is the dual relationship under the framework -- strategic framework agreement in the economic atmosphere as well as educational and commercial and cultural and judicial and security cooperation fields. iraq now has become -- relied completely on its own security apparatus and internal security
as a result of the expertise that it gained during the confrontations and the training and equipping, but it remains a need of cooperation with the united states of america in the security issues and informations and combating terrorism and in the area of training and the area of equipping which is needed by the iraqi army and we have started that. and we want to complete the process of equipping the iraqi army in order to protect our sovereignty and does not violate the rights of anybody or do not take any missions that violate the sovereignty of others. today the joint mission is to establish the mechanisms and the commitments that will expedite. we have reached an agreement and we have held a meeting for the higher joint committee under the chairmanship of mr. biden, the
vice president, and myself in baghdad, and we spoke about all the details that would put the framework agreement into implementation. and here we talked about it and its activation and there will be other discussions and other meetings with the higher committee here in washington in order to put the final touches regarding the necessary mechanisms for cooperation and achieving the common vision that we followed and which was based on our common wills and political independent decision and the desire to respect the sovereignty of each other. we feel that we need political cooperation as well, in addition to cooperating the security and economic fields, we need cooperation particularly with rar to t regard to the matters that are common concern for us as two parties that want to cooperate.
the common vision that we use as a point of departure we have confirmed today and i am very happy every time we meet with the american side, i find determination and a strong will to activate the strategic framework agreement and i would say, frankly, this is necessary and it serves the interests of iraq as it is necessary and serves the interests of the united states of america. this makes us feel that we will succeed with the same commitment, common commitment, that we had in combating terrorism and accomplishing the missions that the basis of which iraq was -- was independent. iraq today has a lot of wealth and it needs experience and expertise and american and foreign expertise to help iraq
exploiting its own wealth in an ideal way. iraq is still suffering from a shortage of resources and we have established a strategy to increase the iraqi wealth a bit and we hope that the american companies will have the largest role in increasing our wealth in the area of oil and other aspects as well. iraq wants to rebuild all the sectors that were harmed because of the war and because of the adventurous policies that were used by the former regime and we need a wide range of reform in the area of education. we have succeeded in deciding several agreements through the educational initiative which puts hundreds of our college graduates to continue their graduate studies and specialized subject in american
universities, and i am putting it before everyone who is watching the relationship between the u.s. and iraq, it is a very -- it has very high aspirations and i'd like to renew my thanks to his excellency, the president, for giving us this opportunity and i appreciate it very much. >> take a few questions. >> thank you, mr. president and mr. prime minister. mr. president, i have two questions for you on the region. in syria you have called for president assad to step down over the killing of his people, but prime minister maliki has warned that assad's removal could cause the whole region. i'm wondering if you're worried that iraq could be succumbing to iran's influence on this matter and perhaps helping to protect assad. speaking of iran, are you concerned that it will be able
to weaken america's national security by discovering intelligence from the fallen drone that it captured? prime minister maliki, i'd like to ask you the question about syria. why haven't you demanded that assad step down given the slaughter of his people? >> first of all, the prime minister and i discussed syria and we share the view that when the syrian people are being killed or are unable to express themselves, that's a problem. there's no disagreement there. i have expressed my outrage in how the syrian regime has been operating. i do believe that president assad missed an opportunity to reform his government, chose the path of repression, and has continued to engage in repressive tactics so that his
credibility, his capacity to regain legitimacy inside syria i think is deeply eroded. it's not an easy situation, and i expressed to prime minister maliki my recognition that given syria's on iraq's borders, iraq is in a tough neighborhood, that we will consult closely with them as we move forward. but we believe that international pressure, the approach we've taken, along with partners around the world to impose tough sanctions and to call on assad to step down, a position that is increasingly mirrored by the arab league states is the right position to take. even if there are tactical disagreements between iraq and the united states at this point in how to deal with syria, i have absolutely no doubt that
these decisions are being made based on what prime minister maliki believes is best for iraq. not based on considerations of what iran would like to see. you know, prime minister maliki has been explicit here in the united states. he's been explicit back in iraq, in his writings, in his commentary, that his interest is maintaining iraqi sovereignty and preventing meddling by anybody inside of iraq. and i believe him. and he has shown himself to be willing to make very tough decisions in the interests of iraqi nationalism, even if they caused problems with his neighbor. and so we may have some different tactical views in terms of how best to transition to an inclusive representative
government inside of syria, but every decision that i believe prime minister maliki is making, he is making on the basis of what he thinks is best for the iraqi people. and everything that we've seen in our interactions with prime minister maliki and his government over the last several years would confirm that. with respect to the drone inside of iran, i'm not going to comment on intelligence matters that are classified. as has already been indicated, we have asked for it back. we'll see how the iranians respond. >> translator: -- syria and perhaps in other states as well but i know that peoples must get
their freedom and their will and the democracy and the citizenship. we have achieved the rights of people with their wills and if we compare iraq today with the past we find there is a great difference in democracy and leaks and freedoms. therefore, we are the aspirations of the syrian people but i cannot as a president abdicate and we give ourselves this right. iraq is a country that's bordering syria and i am concerned about the interests of iraq and the interest of the security of the region. but i wish that what is required for the syrian -- by the syrian people will be achieved without
affecting the security of iraq. and i know the two countries are related to each other and we must be very prudent in dealing with this matter. we were the -- with the initiative by the arab league but frankly speaking, because we suffered from the blockade and military interventions we do not encourage blockade bhaecause it exhausts the people and the government but we stood with the arab league and were very frank ourselves with the visit in baghdad and we have an agreement that perhaps will be the last bit of initiative that will save the situation and we achieve and require change in syria without any violent operations that could affect the area in general. i believe all parties realized
the dangers of all sectarian war in iraq and syria and in the region because it will be like a snowball that it will expand and it will be difficult to control it. we will try to reach a solution and i may discuss the matter with his excellency, the president, president obama, and the secretary-general of the arab league, and there is agreement even from the syrian opposition who are leading the opposition in syria to search for a solution. if we can reach solution, we will avoid all the evils and dangers. and if we don't, there must be another way to reach a solution that will calm the situation in syria and in the area in general.
[ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: -- i would add establish new relationships, establish characteristics of a new relationship of the united states after the withdrawal of the u.s. forces from iraq. relying on the strategic framework agreement, have you reached a specific mechanism for the implementation of the framework agreement, your excellency, president obama, you said that they will be long range in relationships with iraq. can you tell us exactly, would the iraq be ally of the united states or just a friend or will have a different type of relationship? thank you very much. >> translator: definitely it will -- without mechanisms will not be able to achieve anything. we have -- these mechanisms will control or continuous movement. therefore, the framework
agreement has a higher committee -- or joint committee from the two countries that will meet regularly and it has representatives from all the sectors that we want to develop relationship, industry, agriculture, economy, security. so the joint higher committee is the mechanisms in which the ideas will be reached and a relationship between the ministries that will implement what is agreed upon. we believe through these two mechanisms, the mechanisms of the joint committee and the mechanisms between each minister and its counterpart we will achieve success and this will expedite achieving our goal. >> as the prime minister described, i think our goal is to have a comprehensive relationship with iraq. what that means is that on everything from expanding trade
and commerce to scientific exchanges, to providing assistance as iraq is trying to make sure that electricity and power generation is consistent for its people, to joint exercises militarily, a whole range of issues. we want to make sure that there is a constant communication between our governments, that there are deep and rich exchanges between our two governments, and between our peoples. because what's happened over the last several years has linked the united states and iraq in a way that is potentially powerful and could end up benefiting not only america and iraq but also the entire region and the entire world. it will evolve over time.
what may be discovered is that there are certain issues that prime minister maliki and his government think are especially important right now. for example, making sure that oil production is ramped up and we are helping to encourage global investment in that sector. i know that the prime minister has certain concerns right now militarily that five years from now or ten years from now when the iraqi air force is fully developed or the iraqi navy is fully developed, he has less concern about. our goal is simply to make sure that iraq succeeds. because we think a successful democratic iraq can be a model for the entire region. we think an iraq that is inclusive and brings together all peoples -- sunni, shia, kurd, together to build a country, to build a nation, can be a model for others aspiring
to create democracy in the region. so we've got an enormous investment of blood and treasure in iraq and we want to make sure that even as we bring the last troops out, that it's well understood both in iraq an here in the united states that our commitment to iraq's success is going to be enduring. christy parson. >> thank you. you were a little delayed coming out today. i was wondering if you could talk about any agreements that you may have reached that you haven't detailed already, for instance, can you talk a little bit more about who will be left behind after the u.s. leaves, how big their footprint will be and how big their role will be. and mr. president, could you also address how convinced you are that the maliki government is ready to govern the country and protect the gains that have been made there in recent years. i also wonder if on this
occasion you still think of this as a "dumb" war. >> i'll take the last question first. i think history will judge the original decision to go into iraq. but what's absolutely clear is as a consequence of the enormous sacrifices that have been made by american soldiers and civilians, american troops and civilia civilians, as well as the courage of the iraqi people, that what we have now achieved is an iraq that is self-governing, that is inclusive, and that has enormous potential. there is still going to be challenges and i think the prime minister is the first one to acknowledge those challenges. many of them, by the way, are
economic. after many years of war and before that, a brutal regime, it is going to take time to further develop civil society, further develop the institutions of trade and commerce and the free market so that the extraordinary capacity of the iraqi people is fully realized. but i have no doubt that iraq can succeed. with respect to security issues, look. when i came into office i said we're going to do this in a deliberate fashion. we're going to make sure that we leave iraq responsibly and that's exactly what we've done. we did it in phases, and because we did it in phases, it -- we were continually able to build
up iraqi forces to a point where when we left the cities, violence didn't go up in the cities. when we further reduced our footprint, violence didn't go up. and i have no doubt that that will continue. first question you had had to do with what footprint is left. we're taking all of our troops out of iraq. we will not have any bases inside of iraq. we will have a strong diplomatic presence inside of iraq. we've got an embassy there that is going to be carrying out a lot of the functions of this ongoing partnership and executing on the strategic framework agreement. we will be working to set up effective military to military ties that are no different from the ties that we have with countries throughout the region
and around the world. the iraqi government has already purchased f-16s from us. we have to train their pilots and make sure they get up and running and have an effective iraqi air force. we both have agreements tone to ensure that the ceilings remain open throughout the region. there may be occasion for joint exercises. we both have interests in counterterrorism operations that might undermine iraqi sovereignty but will also affect u.s. interests and we'll be working together on those issues. but what we are doing here today and we'll be executing over the next several months is a normalization of the relationship. we will have a strong friend and partner in iran. they will have a strong friend and partner in us.
it is one based on iraqi sovereignty and one based on equal partnerships, mutual interest and mutual respect. i'm absolutely confident that we're going to be able to execute that over the long term. while i'm at it, since this may be the last question i receive, i just want to acknowledge none of this would have been successful obviously without our extraordinary men and women in uniform. i'm very grateful for the prime minister asking to travel to arlington to recognize those sacrifices. there are also some individuals here who have been doing a bang-up job over the last year to help bring us to this day and i just want to acknowledge general lloyd austin who was a warrior and turns out is also a pretty good diplomat, as well as ambassador jim jeffri jeffress. both have done extraordinary work with our iraqi
counterparts. i want to give a special shout out to my friend and partner joe biden who i think ever since i came in has helped to establish high level, strong links and dialogue between the united states and iraq through some difficult times. and i think prime minister maliki would agree that the vice president's investment in making this successful has been hugely important. >> translator: thank you very much. i believe the remaining of the question that was given was answered by his excellency, the president. i have also isolated the beginning, the dialogues that were to confirm the confidence, and to move to the implementation of this framework agreement and train our soldiers of the weapons that were bought from america and the need for
expertise in other civil fields and the protection and protection of the movement in iraq. we talked about the political issues that is a common interest for us and we spoke also about the question of armament. as the president said, iraq has bought some weapons and now is applying for buying other weapons to develop its capabilities in the protection of iraq. and these are all titles of with a we discussed, but it was done in an atmosphere of harmony. >> translator: mr. prime minister, you stated that there is a cooperation in the area of armament. can you tell us the amount of military cooperation between the united states and baghdad in this area specifically? have you received any promis