LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Deaths in Post-War Iraq Exceed War Dead
Aired August 26, 2003 - 19:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, we start with a report from Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon and Suzanne Malveaux in St. Louis with the president.
First to you, Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, one of those deaths of a U.S. soldier came from a deadly attack on a U.S. military convoy with a homemade bomb. The other from a simple traffic accident.
But with U.S. troops in Iraq dying, on average, about one every other day, it was just a matter of time before the number of those died keeping the peace exceeded those who died winning the war.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): On May 1, six weeks after the Iraq war began, President Bush declared victory from the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended.
MCINTYRE: At that time, 138 U.S. troops had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, 114 from hostile action.
Since then, 139 more troops from died, 62 from hostility, the rest from accidents, illness or suicides.
The mounting death toll underscores that nearly three months after major combat was declared over in Iraq, the U.S. military is not just mopping up a few pockets of opposition. It's facing determined resistance fighters employing ever more sophisticated tactics.
Bush administration officials urge patience and some historical perspective. What's happening now in Iraq, they argue, is not that different from Germany after World War II.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: S.S. officers, called "werewolves," engaged in sabotage and attacked coalition forces and local people cooperating with them, much like the Ba'athists or a Saddam Fedayeen do today.
MCINTYRE: The only effective response, say U.S. commanders, is more raids like those conducted Tuesday north of Baghdad, in which hundreds of U.S. troops went after Iraqi gang members believed responsible for recent attacks.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think country's made the right decision and I am confident that over time, we will, in fact, prevail.
MCINTYRE: The Pentagon continues to argue that more troops are not needed in Iraq, but Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says if U.S. commanders believe otherwise, they need only ask for more troops and they will get them -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thanks.
President Bush pledged again today that the U.S. will not back down in the face of mounting casualties in Iraq. Mr. Bush is in St. Louis for two fund raising events and a speech to the American Legion.
White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is covering the trip there.
Suzanne, how important does the White House feel it is to get the president outside Washington, outside the Beltway, speaking about Iraq?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very important, Anderson. I mean, as you can imagine it was a warm reception from the American Legion but there were several hundred protesters that gathered outside in the streets against the war on terror.
The president making the case, however, he's trying to make sure that he maintains support. He says two thirds of senior al Qaeda have been captured or killed, 42 of the 55 Iraqis on the most wanted deck of cards also have been accounted for.
The president also defended his strategy of taking the war abroad, says that he will strike the terrorists at their camps, caves and cities, wherever they hide, essentially making the case that it is important for those U.S. soldiers to be abroad to take on those terrorists, rather than wait for them to attack at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We also remember what this fight is about. Our military is confronting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other places so our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in New York or St. Louis or Los Angeles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And Anderson, the Bush administration is also trying to win more support from the international community. Today he framed it as a struggle between chaos and civilization, saying that no country can be neutral on this issue.
He also wants greater support from the Iraqi people, saying that they never to fear that Saddam Hussein's regime will return. Again that they should be more responsible and active in the future of their own country -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Suzanne Malveaux in great city of St. Louis tonight. Thanks very much, Suzanne.
In perspective now. History shows us just how serious and prolonged the mop-up after a military victory can be. There are 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq right now. Following World War II 200,000 American service people were stationed in Japan. That many remained there for the next seven years, until 1952.
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