The following is a transcribed excerpt from Fox News Sunday, July 6, 2003.
TONY SNOW, FOX NEWS: U.S. military forces are continuing to fight terror on multiple fronts. Iraqi irregulars have intensified attacks on coalition forces lately, sparking a defiant challenge from President Bush.
American troops yesterday wrapped up Operation Sidewinder, designed to prevent attacks and haul in would-be assailants. The operation netted 282 suspects, several hundred weapons and some small stashes of cash.
Meanwhile, just two days after the U.S. government offered a $25 million bounty for Saddam and $15 million for his sons, Al-Jazeera aired an audiotape allegedly from Saddam Hussein. So far, the CIA has been unable either to confirm whether the voice actually is Saddam's or to pinpoint the time of recording.
On another front, a Pentagon team in Africa hopes to assess the situation in Liberia and determine whether the U.S. needs to send troops to quell chaos in that country.
I had a chance to discuss these matters and a couple of personal ones last Thursday with General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I began by asking General Myers if any American lives presently are at risk in Liberia.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, there are just a handful of Americans there at the -- on official orders, that are at the embassy compound, just a little over 10. And they have some guards with them. And right now, it doesn't look like they're at risk.
There are some other American citizens, a lot of whom have left, but there's some left back behind. And right now I don't think there's a threat to their well-being.
SNOW: As long as Charles Taylor is in power, is there a potential risk for their lives?
MYERS: Well, I think the president's spoken pretty clearly about President Taylor. He hasn't done Liberia any good. He hasn't been helpful to the surrounding countries. And I think the U.N. is working right now to consider ways to have him leave office.
SNOW: Is there any way in which the United States would act unilaterally in Liberia? Or would it, if it came to military action, be a multilateral action?
MYERS: Well, we're always prepared, in the case of U.S. citizens and our folks there that are on official duty in the embassy and so forth, to do a noncombatant evacuation of those individuals.
Beyond that, I think we'd really like to see the states in the region help with this particular problem. And I think it's too early to talk about whether it would be unilateral or multilateral. We'd be hopeful that states in the region would step up and help deal with this problem.
SNOW: If there were military action, would it be of relatively short duration?
MYERS: That would be the hope, particularly the -- that would be the hope, that it would be of short duration.
But, and this gets a little bit outside my lane, but clearly once President Taylor leaves, if he leaves, there has to be some sort of political process then that replaces and provides a government for Liberia. And that probably is in the short term.
SNOW: Is it conceivable that extraction of President Taylor would also be one of the options?
MYERS: Oh, I don't think so. No, I don't think that would be one of our options. Again, a little bit outside my lane in that regard, but I don't think that would be one of our options.
SNOW: Let's talk about Iraq now. As you know, there is now a growing chorus of people second-guessing. Can you give us a status report?
During the war, we would hear about what percentage of Iraq was under U.S. control. What percentage of Iraq, right now, would you reckon is free and free of the impact of Baathist terrorists or others?
MYERS: Well, you point out a good point, and that is that it's not even throughout the country. It's not even.
In the north and in the south, the situation is basically stable. Most of the infrastructure is back to pre-war levels or better, and that's the water and electricity and sanitation.
In the Sunni areas, the Baghdad, Tikrit, down to Ar Ramadi, sort of a triangle there, that's where 90 percent of the incidents are. That's where our forces are working very hard to rout out the remnants of the Baathist Party and other followers of Saddam Hussein that think somehow that they're coming back, which they aren't. They never will. But that's what we're working on.
MYERS: So it's -- it is -- it depends where you are in that country, but there's been an awful lot of work done. A lot of the country is relatively stable. There are still challenges at Baghdad and in that triangle that I just mentioned where we have work to do.
SNOW: You mentioned that there are some Baathist remnants that are putting up a fight. Are they becoming better organized?
MYERS: Remains to be seen. They certainly weren't at first, and we're still evaluating that to see if there is any kind of coordination that goes beyond just local coordination, that it might be broader than that.
SNOW: Speaking of which, there have been press reports of foreign fighters coming in from a number of countries. To the best of your knowledge, has the government of Syria or the government of Iran provided official sponsorship for anybody fighting right now within the borders of Iraq?
MYERS: Well, we know that the fighters that we confronted now -- it's been about 10 days ago, maybe two weeks, where we killed 70 to 80 foreign fighters -- that they came in through Syria. Whether they're government-sponsored or not, I don't know that we can say that. But that's how they found their way into Iraq.
We suspect, of course, that there are -- not suspect -- there are some Iranian-backed elements inside Iraq. Whether or not they have used violence against coalition forces up to this point, we're still trying to determine that.
SNOW: Do you take them as a serious threat? What's a more serious threat right now, the Baathist remnants in the Sunni areas or foreign fighters coming in?
MYERS: Well, and that's why it's hard when people say, "Well, is this a guerrilla war?" Well, there are about five different threats to the country, so it's not monolithic. You have to look at each one of them individually.
We talked about the remnants of the Baath Party, Fedayeen Saddam, those sorts of folks, and maybe some soldiers out of the Special Republican Guard, Republican Guard, that are hopeful that the Baath Party will return. It's a false hope on their part. It's not going to happen, but they're still hopeful.
Then you've got foreign fighters that are coming into Iraq, some of which we've already dealt with. There are perhaps more.
There's Ansar al-Islam, the organization that was up in northeastern Iraq before the conflict that has moved poisons into Europe. If you remember back, the U.K. rounded up some of these individuals earlier. They have ties to Al Qaida. Their presence is, we think, growing inside Iraq and has to be dealt with.
Then you've got the criminals, the criminal element that was let out of jail, that have to be dealt with as well.
And then you've got Sunni extremists that just want to almost be terrorists in this way.
So there's at least five distinct different groups, not monolithic, not all with the same objectives.
The one thing that's interesting, though, is that the public doesn't back any of those groups, that the public wants a different life than they had under the Baathist Party.
SNOW: That being the case, are you persuaded that we have enough troops in Iraq right now to protect our interests and to go after those five different groups?
MYERS: Yes, I am. And that's something that the secretary of defense and I query the commander of U.S. Central Command and Ambassador Bremer on regularly. You know, "Do you have the resources, not just groups, but all of the resources you need to do your job?"
SNOW: There is a report that Ambassador Bremer has requested additional troops, especially in terms of bodyguards for his personal detail. True?
MYERS: I've not heard anything about additional troops in general. I know there have been discussions about his personal protection detail, and I don't know the details on that. I'm sure whatever he needs, he'll have.
SNOW: But he has requested that?
MYERS: I don't know. I've not seen that request. I know it's been discussed, and I've seen -- but I don't know that the request hasn't been filled already. That's something we'd do right away.
SNOW: The United States is offering a $25 million reward for Saddam Hussein. I take it that that means that, of all the people on that deck of 55 that we've arrested, including his bodyguard, they've given us no actionable intelligence for tracking him down.
MYERS: They actually have given us relatively good information and will continue to do that. As you know, in these interrogations, they are effective over time. And so, the first day you're probably going to come across a very uncooperative subject, but as you go on, they become more and more cooperative.
SNOW: So you think you're drawing a bead on Saddam Hussein?
MYERS: I'm not saying that yet. I'm just saying we're going to get -- we have had, and we get good intelligence. We chase down these leads. There's no question. If Saddam is alive, and that's not known, but if he's alive, if his sons are alive, we'll go after them.
MYERS: I think the reward was for his capture or confirmation of his death, in both the case of Saddam and his sons.
SNOW: Why not offer a reward for finding weapons of mass destruction?
MYERS: Well, we do have rewards out there for all of that. I mean, there's a very big reward program for all of those pieces.
SNOW: We have heard rumors that there may be some announcements indicating that they have, in fact, coalition forces, David Kay and others, come across evidence that would vindicate the arguments the president made before the war. True or false?
MYERS: As far as I know, they're -- what I know is that they're gathering facts. I have not seen the facts, and we'll have to wait and see. I just don't know.
SNOW: There's also some concern that, in fighting a police action, doing peacekeeping, U.S. troops are doing something for which they're not properly fitted. This is not what people train to do, is to become cops.
Are you worried that your troops are getting burned out?
MYERS: No, I'm not. And we talk to the Central Command commander. We hear Ambassador Bremer several times a week with General Sanchez, who is our commander of Joint Task Force 7, which is the military support to Ambassador Bremer.
Those are the sorts of things we ask our military leaders to continually evaluate and something that when I travel the region -- and no.
But the important part of this is that, in terms of our rotational policy for the forces that are in there, for the follow-on forces, to try to internationalize this as well, to bring in international forces to help, that's all part of this equation. And we've got to make sure that they don't get burned out.
SNOW: Would your job be easier if you had a larger military to work with?
MYERS: In general?
MYERS: Well, I don't think we can say that right now. We are a military that has a very high OPTEMPO at the current time. We're involved in the global war on terrorism. We're heavily involved in Afghanistan and Iraq. But we have a relatively large military. When you add it all up, somewhere over 2.2 million men and women in our armed forces.
We have some of them doing jobs that don't require people in uniform to do, which is one of the things the secretary keeps saying. We've got to get our military to do our military tasks, and other people doing those tasks that don't need uniform personnel.
So I'm not ready to say that at this point.
SNOW: General, I'm told every once in a while you hop on your Harley and go around in some small towns in the area and figure out what's going on. What have you found?
MYERS: Well, I think it's probably not that specific. I do like to occasionally, for an hour or two, maybe on a weekend, to get out of town and see real America, if you will, and get a feel from folks out there what they're thinking. And I think that's useful for those of us in Washington.
SNOW: Now, do they know who you are, or are you just some tall guy on a motorcycle?
MYERS: Well, I don't have a sign around me...
... and I certainly don't wear my uniform, but I'm not in disguise either. So some recognize you, some don't. And it's better if they don't. We can have some nice conversations and...
SNOW: Still playing the sax?
MYERS: I haven't played the sax since September 11, 2001, but I intend to some day.
SNOW: All right. General Myers, thank you so much for joining us.
MYERS: Thanks, Tony.