As Election Day approaches in Iraq, the “CBS Evening News” tonight chose to lead with an al Qaeda video (video link to follow) that showed masked gunmen executing Iraqi police recruits in the middle of the day, as well as two Iraqi women pleading for their lives before being shot. Correspondent Lara Logan interviewed Michael Ware, a western journalist who is so well connected in this part of the world that he is regularly given such videos. During the interview, Ware suggested that this particular tape was “an inspirational video” that aids “recruitment” and acts as a “fund-raising device.”
Ware then interviewed a Ba’athist “insurgent” who used to be a top-ranking military official under Saddam. At the conclusion of this interview, Logan chided the Bush administration for not using this man’s services: “Ironically, this insurgent commander is exactly the type of military leader that the U.S. once turned away, but is now reaching out to, hoping to lure them back into the Iraqi army that's desperately short of experienced leaders.”
Logan concluded her segment: “And, you know, these are the kind of people that have a vision for Iraq, which is very much in line with the U.S. vision as secular democratic country. And they're exactly the kind of people that the U.S. needs if they're going to hold Iraq together.”
It appears in Logan’s view that America needs more terrorists working for it to be successful in this war.
What follows is a full transcript of this segment, along with a video link.
Bob Schieffer: Most Iraqis will vote Thursday, but the absentees-- Iraqis who live in the United States and 14 other countries-- cast their ballots today without incident. If all goes as expected on Thursday, millions more who live in Iraq will vote there. That's the good news. But in Iraq, no day passes without bad news. Four more American soldiers were killed by a bomb near Baghdad. And as our Lara Logan reports, in this complicated place nothing, especially an election, comes easy.
Lara Logan: The election has dominated Iraqi TV, glossy campaign ads offering a better future. But today, this shocking Internet video released by al Qaeda showed a very different image of Iraq-- masked gunmen executing police recruits in broad daylight, Mafia style. One man tries to escape, but is pursued and brutally shot before the gunman returns to make sure the others are dead.
Michael Ware: This has all the hallmarks of, on its face, a legitimate Zarqawi insurgent video.
Logan: What's their intent, do you think, when they release a video like that?
Ware: Firstly, it's to strike terror. But it also serves many other purposes, among them are recruitment aims. This is an inspirational video. It's also a fund-raising device.
Logan: Michael Ware is the only western journalist in regular contact with insurgents and in three years, they've given him hundreds of videos. That's how he can tell this video showing two Iraqi women hostages is more likely the work of groups seeking to exploit the current chaos in Iraq, than members of an organized terrorist group. The women are seen here pleading for their lives moments before being executed.
Ware: This is essentially a snuff video on one level, but by the same token, this also works to intimidate or to establish a sense of power amongst those who have perpetrated this for whatever reason.
Logan: Ware talks to different insurgent groups from the religious extremists of al Qaeda to Iraqi nationalist fighters. He persuaded one of the leaders to do something insurgents rarely do: An on-camera interview.
Ware: This is a relatively senior commander and top-level strategist for one of the largest, if not the most dominant, Ba'athist insurgent organization.
Logan: He is also a former top-ranking military officer in Saddam Hussein's army, but says he is not fighting to return Saddam to power.
Unknown Terrorist (Translated): Saddam is a man whose time is gone, but the country who gave birth to him will give birth to others like him, hundreds or thousands.
Logan: He revealed their strategy: To fight with both bullets and ballots.
Terrorist (Translated): As a resistance, we hope to participate in this political process.
Logan: He says he and his men will be voting on election day, but they will not lay down their arms.
Terrorist (Translated): The resistance will finish when the occupation is finished. After that, the weapons will be dropped.
Logan: Ironically, this insurgent commander is exactly the type of military leader that the U.S. once turned away, but is now reaching out to, hoping to lure them back into the Iraqi army that's desperately short of experienced leaders.
Schieffer: Well, Lara, do you think these people would be willing to come back?
Logan: They might, Bob. They certainly might on the right terms. That would mean having their old jobs back, having some kind of amnesty. And, you know, these are the kind of people that have a vision for Iraq, which is very much in line with the U.S. vision as secular democratic country. And they're exactly the kind of people that the U.S. needs if they're going to hold Iraq together.