CBS's Lara Logan Follows Up on U.S. Soldier Orphanage Rescue

After reporting on the compassionate U.S. soldier rescue of abused Iraqi orphans, CBS’s Lara Logan ran a follow up story on the June 21 edition of "The Early Show." To her credit, Logan continued to defend the soldiers. She noted that an Army captain went "back to check on the 24 boys he and his soldiers rescued" and "thanks to these soldiers...the boys’ lives were saved."

Upon reporting that the Iraqi labor and social affairs minister accused Lara Logan of reporting a "lie" and that the U.S. soldiers that rescued these emaciated boys "have no compassion," Logan played a gracious remark from an unidentified U.S. soldier.

"We'll leave here and he'll never be able to tell us thanks, but he doesn't need to."

When questioned by host Harry Smith, Logan clearly sided with the U.S. soldiers against the denying Iraqi government official.

"Well, what's upsetting about the controversy, Harry, is that the plight of these boys is actually being lost in all of this. But incredibly, the Iraqi ministry is trying to make the U.S. the bad guys. They're blaming them, America as Iraq's enemy, we're being told, instead of acknowledging what was done by the soldiers who rescued these boys. And -- and, in fact, it's important to know that they were local Iraqi leaders who helped the U.S. rescue the boys that night. And when I spoke to them a week later, Harry, they were still in shock about what they'd seen. They wept constantly, throughout the interview as they recounted the horror. And that horror is now being denied by the ministry."

The entire transcript is below.

HARRY SMITH: Two days ago, we first showed you the heartbreaking pictures from a Baghdad orphanage where two dozen disabled children were being left to die. This morning, the children are doing better while Iraqis are showing their outrage. CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan, who broke this exclusive story is live in Baghdad with us. Good morning, Lara.

LARA LOGAN: Good morning, Harry. Well, Iraq's prime minister personally ordered two investigations and the arrest of everybody involved in mistreating these children who we visited again. And although they're still severely malnourished, we were amazed that they're recovering remarkably well. It was a welcome Captain Ben Morales couldn't resist. He was back to check on the 24 boys he and his soldiers rescued just over a week ago. They were literally starving to death in a government-run orphanage for special needs children. Those in charge left them naked and tied down while piles of new clothes and food were stored right down the hallway. Thanks to these soldiers and the joint Iraqi/U.S. patrol that first found them, the boys' lives were saved. It's obvious how much better off these boys are at this orphanage. But the problem is, they're still special needs children with no access to specialized care. But here, they're understaffed, underpaid, and the social workers lack specialized training. This little boy almost did die. When the soldiers found him, he was covered in thousands of flies, unable to move. They never thought he'd recover as much as he has. The plight of these boys has outraged Iraqis with excerpts of our report aired constantly on local TV for almost two days. The public pressure forced labor and social affairs minister to speak out, but instead of taking responsibility, he lashed out at the U.S., calling America Iraq's enemy. As we were filming these scenes, the minister was telling the nation these boys are perfectly healthy and our report was a lie. And these are the same soldiers the minister said have no compassion.

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: We'll leave here and he'll never be able to tell us thanks, but he doesn't need to.

LOGAN: The fear here is there may be other vulnerable children in similar or worse conditions who haven't yet been found. What's shocking, Harry, is that the Iraqi ministry responsible is defending the treatment of these boys, saying they had to be tied up for their own good because they're mentally disabled, blaming the lack of electricity as the reason they didn't have any clothes on. But that certainly doesn't explain why they were so badly dehydrated and starving to death, lying in their own waste, covered in flies and bleeding sores. And a doctor who treated them that night at the Iraqi hospital actually said that two more days, and four of those boys would have been dead. Harry?

SMITH: This story is causing so much controversy over there. Explain that a little bit.

LOGAN: Well, what's upsetting about the controversy, Harry, is that the plight of these boys is actually being lost in all of this. But incredibly, the Iraqi ministry is trying to make the U.S. the bad guys. They're blaming them, America as Iraq's enemy, we're being told, instead of acknowledging what was done by the soldiers who rescued these boys. And -- and, in fact, it's important to know that they were local Iraqi leaders who helped the U.S. rescue the boys that night. And when I spoke to them a week later, Harry, they were still in shock about what they'd seen. They wept constantly, throughout the interview as they recounted the horror. And that horror is now being denied by the ministry.

SMITH: What's going to happen to these kids now Lara?

LOGAN: Well, that's the devastating part about all of this. You're so happy to see them doing so much better, but you know nothing is going to happen to them. They don't get special care. They don't get special medical care. They don't get special attention. And they need all of that. And they're very loving boys, Harry.