Desperate Insurgents Step Up Intensity

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, October 27, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch Special Report With Brit Hume weeknights at 6 p.m. ET


PRESIDENT BUSH: Today's attacks were against places like the Red Cross or police stations. These people will kill Iraqis. They don't care who they kill. They just want to kill.


BRIT HUME, HOST: There are now said to be hundreds of foreign terrorists in Iraq. Why are they there? They are remnants of the old regime and criminals released from jail. So, who's responsible for what over there?

For answers, we turn to retired Air Force Lieutenant General Tom McInerney, a Fox News contributor, one of our favorites.

Tom, welcome back.


HUME: So what's the best information you have about who is doing what exactly over there? The troublemakers.

MCINERNEY: Well, I think the attack against the al Rasheed (search) was probably the Saddam loyalists.

HUME: That's the hotel over weekend that was hit where Paul Wolfowitz (search) was staying in and the American colonel was killed.

MCINERNEY: That's correct. I think today was clearly Ansar al Islam (search), which is the Al Qaeda affiliate. And the reason is the remaining Ba'athists there are not dumb enough to blow themselves up. They get the foreigners, the Jihadist, those....

HUME: Wait a minute. Oh, you're saying the remaining Ba'athists are not suicide bombers?

MCINERNEY: They are not suicide bombers like the ones who do it today, suicide bombers driving into the International Red Cross, into the police stations. I think the split in responsibilities, the former Ba'athists let them be suicide bombers, they will fire rockets, this type thing. But it has all the makings, clearly, and since they caught that Syrian who ineptly wasn't able to blow his car up, they caught him; it's a clear indication that it's Ansar al Islam.

HUME: And Al Qaeda.

MCINERNEY: And Al Qaeda, combination. Because Baghdad and Iraq have become a magnet. If we're successful there, if those people that want to go into the 21-century are successful in Iraq, then the rest, the fundamentalists that want to take the whole region back into the 10-century have lost. So fundamentally, the battle in Iraq today is a battle for the liberation of the Middle East.

HUME: But we keep hearing American officials say, as Paul Bremer did today, as one of the generals over there did again today, that these guys are desperate and they are resorting to ever more desperate measures. But their capacity to mount these attacks would seem, I think to an American television viewer or a news consumer, to be -- seems to be growing, not shrinking. Is that an illusion?

MCINERNEY: No, because it is growing. They are seeing it and making it a bigger battle because they are losing. Too many things are being done. This didn't happen up in Mosul. It didn't happen down in Basra or Hilla. It happens right in Baghdad, which is the heart of the Sunni Triangle.

And this is where the main battleground is, Brit. And so, the success that we're getting in other places, they are stepping up. And that's what people -- the critics are misunderstanding. They are stepping up the intensity because they see they are losing. And it's what -- kind of like the Battle Of The Bulge (search).

HUME: In what sense are they losing?

MCINERNEY: They are losing the people. They are losing the success because the Iraqi people are responding throughout the country, except in the Sunni Triangle, much, much more favorably to the liberation, to the occupation, to the changes that they, in fact, will be running their own country.

So success: the power is up, the schools are open, all the hospitals are open. All these successful ventures that are going on, return to normalcy, and return to a life that is going to allow them the four freedoms: the freedom of government, the freedom of person, the freedom of education, and the freedom of communications.

That these freedoms that they are starting to get and enjoy that are moving them back into the normal world of nations is what they are afraid of. They, being al Qaeda. They, the fundamentalists in the region.

HUME: Now, we're beginning to hear the calls for more troops. We're hearing that again now. We're hearing some say that well, what we really need is specialists in counterinsurgency. And that the force structure we have there is not well designed for the mission, which is to suppress this stuff that is happening. We may need new contingents of Marines specially trained in this. Rumsfeld, though, you just heard him on this broadcast saying earlier, what we need to do is train more and more Iraqis to do this so we can get out. Who is right?

MCINERNEY: Rumsfeld.

HUME: How so?

MCINERNEY: Because we need to train the Iraqis to have that responsibility. And they can tell the difference. They can look and tell if someone is a Syrian, a Saudi, or an Iranian. They can talk to them and right away. So we need to build up those Iraqi forces faster and their intelligence network. We haven't really talked about rebuilding their intelligence network so that they can figure out where those people are. Those people are living among Iraqis, and Iraqis will talk to other Iraqis. The human channels will be a lot better. The worst thing we can do is send more U.S. troops over there to have more targets.

HUME: Now, what about this call that we heard. We heard it on this program for the reinstitution of the -- and the reassignment back into duty of the Iraqi army. Many thousands of soldiers who simply went away and went home and decided they didn't want to fight after they got a taste of U.S. air power. What about that idea?

MCINERNEY: Well, that's a close call, it really is. But fundamentally the Iraqi army was not respected by the people. It was hated by the people. It was the Iraqi army that in 1992 that drove the Shi'ias into the ground. So they were not respected by most of the country. And they were fighting the Kurds all the time. I think the decision was the right decision to disband it. Now that doesn't mean that we can't recruit people quicker. That doesn't mean we can't recruit policemen quicker and start these forces. And that's what I think we have to do is ramp that up and, again, get the Iraqi face on the problem.

HUME: Now, Rumsfeld was saying earlier, heard him talking about how 85,000 soldiers have now been trained, or soldiers, police, and others have been trained to do this job in what is a quite short period of time. My question is are these forces really fully and properly trained or are they just kind of whomped up to do the best they can?

MCINERNEY: Well, I think you've got to -- there is -- it's as good as they can get right now. They will continue to on the job improve, but what they are trying to do is get numbers out there. How good do you have to be, Brit, to stand out in front of a building or a barrier and someone come -- come through it? You don't have to have a lot of training to do that. So that's where they are focusing and they are doing it the right way.

HUME: Tom McInerney, it's always a pleasure to have you.

MCINERNEY: Thanks, Brit.

HUME: Thanks for coming.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.