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Hannity

Oliver North Reports from Iraq

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," December 8, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: We go live now to Iraq, where our own [former Marine Lt.] Colonel Oliver North is reporting tonight just one week before all the important parliamentary elections.

Colonel North, this is your next time there. You see the elections coming. What's the difference since your last time there?

OLLIE NORTH, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Sean, this is indeed E-day Minus-7. -- That's Election Day minus seven days!

Standing beside me, Second Lieutenant Chad Clever (ph) of Woodbridge, West Virginia, a rifle platoon commander in 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines.

Today, Sean, we had a chance to go do something absolutely unique. The governor of Al-Anbar province, the largest in this country, and, of course, one of the most violent places on the planet, has now convened what he calls his commission.

It's comprised of tribal leaders, sheikhs, imams, government leaders, and technocrats who are dedicated to bringing about a democratic outcome in this electoral process.

We went there today with the commanding officer of the second combat team of the 28th Infantry Division, out of a National Guard unit out of Pennsylvania, Colonel John Gronski. And I asked Colonel Gronski if the security situation here in Iraq is going to be satisfactory for these upcoming elections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COL. JOHN GRONSKI, 28TH INFANTRY DIVISION: We're seeing some great inroads with that. At the very least, you've got the people of Ramadi, the coalition forces, and, as you saw, the Iraqi army leadership sitting down together in a room, sharing ideas on how to make the security situation better here in Ramadi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORTH: Now, all of that is predicated, of course, on the Iraqis doing what's necessary. The governor of this province, who's been the target of assassination attempts since he took charge several months ago, Governor Mamoun Sami Rashid, is a man who is dedicated to bringing about the kind of thing people say back in the States can't happen, and that's participation by the Sunni Muslims here in Al-Anbar province.

I asked him if the Iraqis are preparing for the time when Americans are no longer here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAMOUN SAMI RASHID, GOVERNOR, AL-ANBAR PROVINCE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This council meeting today, this is exactly why we're here, to do this, so we can accomplish this as soon as possible, as you mentioned, so you can go home as soon as possible, and we stay friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORTH: And one of those marines, who is looking forward to that opportunity to going home, is standing right here beside me. Lieutenant Chad Clever (ph) is a rifle platoon commander in Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. How long have you been here, Chad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, we've been here a couple months. Got here at the beginning of September.

NORTH: Now tell me. Have you seen things get better or worse since you've been here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they've gotten better by far. We've done a lot of work, working closely with the new Iraqi army, as well as the Iraqi police. And they've made leaps and bounds compared to when we first got here.

HANNITY: Colonel...

NORTH: Now, this isn't Richmond, Virginia, but this is the capital of the largest province in this country. Are they going to be able to bring about a successful election here in seven days?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely. There's no doubt in my mind that...

HANNITY: Hey, Colonel...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... they'll be successful. And I know the people here want to vote. And they look forward to the day when they can take charge and govern themselves, for sure.

NORTH: Then you guys can get to go home.

HANNITY: Hey, Colonel North?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

NORTH: Now, Sean, I know that's contrary to an awful lot of what you're hearing back in the States, but it reflects what's really happening out here on the ground.

HANNITY: I want to ask you one question. By the way, we're showing our viewers here there is a passenger jet that has skidded off the runway at Midway Airport. The report is that all of the passengers and all of the crew, as of now, have gotten off, thankfully, successfully. And we're following that story here on FOX.

Colonel, how are the troops reacting to the statement of Howard Dean that we're not going to win the war? How are they reacting to John Kerry's statement that they are using terror tactic against women and children in the dark of night?

NORTH: Well, let me ask Lieutenant Clever that, because I've got the IFB in my ear. He can't hear the question.

What are the troops saying, what are your marines saying, when they hear the kinds of political commentary coming out of the United States? Are you hearing any of that kind of stuff back here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we stay pretty busy. Every now and then, we catch a bit of it on the news.

NORTH: Yes, of course, busy -- here it is in the middle of the night. It's 0500 in the morning out here, and these guys are busy, I can tell you that.

But my sense, Sean, is, having been here now on the ground for just a few days -- but it's my seventh trip out here -- there's very few of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen or Marines who have any time for that kind of commentary back in the States. Where it's affecting people is back in the States, not out here on the ground.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Ollie, it's Alan. Thank you for being with us. Hope you're staying safe.

Let me ask you about the transition -- go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me say something.

COLMES: Go ahead.

NORTH: Well, go ahead, Lieutenant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the comment was something about the American people not thinking we'd be able to win the war. Is that correct?

NORTH: Well, it's the kind of political commentary you hear a lot of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, sure. Well, again, you know, we don't have much time to catch the news, but, I mean, I'm here to tell you, all of my marines, morale is high. We work closely with the Army, as well. And those soldiers, even our corpsmen, the sailors, morale is really high, and there's no doubt in my mind that we'll be successful here. That's for sure.

NORTH: Alan, go ahead.

COLMES: Ollie, as Tommy Franks said the other night, I think the troops are too busy and too focused on the mission and not getting caught up in political back and forth among the parties here in America.

I just wonder, are you seeing a difference in the level of -- the number of Iraqi security forces that are taking control versus the last time you were there? Are more Iraqis in command and in control of their own country than happened previously? Or is it about the same as it was the last time you were there?

NORTH: A great question, Alan. And in fact, there are a lot more Iraqis operating here in Al-Anbar province. The last time I was here, which was just a few months ago in Ramadi, which is the provincial capital, there were no Iraqis operating here. And you've got Iraqi army troops operating out here with soldiers and marines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, that's correct. We work very closely Iraqi army troops, as well as Iraqi police. And currently, right now, we're training them up. They're doing a great job, making lots of improvements. And before we leave here, we will have turned over most of Ramadi to the Iraqis themselves.

NORTH: They actually have responsibility, Alan, for large portions of this area of operations right now.

COLMES: Are you saying that basically it's going well, it's being turned over, and does that mean that troops will be -- American troops will be less necessary as we go forward?

HANNITY: Quick, Colonel.

NORTH: There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. I mean, there were no Iraqi areas of responsibility in this city when I was here just a few months ago. They now have their own areas of operations.

They get some logistic support and, of course, supporting arms from Americans, but they've got their own responsibilities right here in this provincial capital they didn't have just a few months ago, Alan.

HANNITY: Colonel North, great job. And stay safe, my friend. And we're going to be following you every night right here on "Hannity & Colmes."

NORTH: Let me just...

HANNITY: Thank you, Colonel.

Now, we're also going to get regular reports over the course of the next week, as we prepare for next week's election, with the Colonel.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

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