BLITZER:...Michael, the president made a major point of saying that it wasn't that long ago that the al-Anbar Province sort of was written off as lost because of Al Qaeda's strength, the insurgent Sunni strength there, but now it's made a comeback.
It has made a comeback, but it's been at a cost, is that right?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, Wolf.
Now, what the president is saying is true. Al-Anbar, in terms of Al Qaeda violence, has been checked to a fairly dramatic degree. That can't be begrudged. And it's through initiatives of the U.S. military.
But what they've done is, it means they've had to cut a deal with the Sunni/Baath insurgents. America doesn't know where Al Qaeda hides. America doesn't know where the facilitators are. The insurgents do. So they turn the insurgents against Al Qaeda. These insurgents are not bound by the same rules as the American military.
So these men can literally go out and use excessive force to arrest and interrogate Al Qaeda suspects and they can execute them. Indeed, we've unearthed video evidence of this and we've interviewed some of the militia members, as well, to confirm it. So that's one aspect.
The second aspect is that this success using these Sunni insurgents is driving a wedge between the U.S. and the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government is vehemently opposed to this program. They see it as America putting ammunition in the guns of armed groups who actively oppose this government. They suspect that this is an American insurance policy or a counterbalance against the government.
Because this government is Shia dominated. It's controlled mostly by militias, most of whom, according to U.S. intelligence, are controlled by Iran. So, it's not without a price -- Wolf.
Bush obviously doesn't care. As far as he's concerned, al Qaeda members in Iraq are part of the same bunch responsible for 9/11, as he said during his press conference on Thursday:
The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that's why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.
And how does he know that?
Q But, sir, on that point, what evidence can you present to the American people that the people who attacked the United States on September the 11th are, in fact, the same people who are responsible for the bombings taking place in Iraq? What evidence can you present? And also, are you saying, sir, that al Qaeda in Iraq is the same organization being run by Osama bin Laden, himself?
THE PRESIDENT: Al Qaeda in Iraq has sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden*. And the guys who had perpetuated the attacks on America -- obviously, the guys on the airplane are dead, and the commanders, many of those are either dead or in captivity, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But the people in Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq, has sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden. And we need to take al Qaeda in Iraq seriously, just like we need to take al Qaeda anywhere in the world seriously.
*They swore allegiance in 2004. They're hardly the same gang involved in the 9/11 attacks and, reportedly, 90% of al Qaeda in Iraq are Iraqis.
And Helen Thomas zinged Bush right at the top of the question & answer session, of course:
Q Mr. President, you started this war, a war of your choosing, and you can end it alone, today, at this point -- bring in peacekeepers, U.N. peacekeepers. Two million Iraqis have fled their country as refugees. Two million more are displaced. Thousands and thousands are dead. Don't you understand, you brought the al Qaeda into Iraq.
THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That's why I went to the United Nations and worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course.
Q Didn't we go into Iraq --
THE PRESIDENT: It was his decision to make. Obviously, it was a difficult decision for me to make, to send our brave troops, along with coalition troops, into Iraq.
There is no doubt that he believes his lies with every fiber of his corrupt being and Helen Thomas, as usual, is absolutely right. But fear not, you have the Sunnis in Anbar (most likely funded and supplied by Saudi Arabia - Bush's best friends) going after al Qaeda in defiance of the Iraqi government while the neocons wait very impatiently for Iraq's parliament to pass the oil law. And, if al Maliki can't make that happen, he will promptly be replaced. Bush's biggest fear is not losing the war. He's said repeatedly that he doesn't want the oil assets falling into anyone's hands that his administration doesn't approve of - especially al Qaeda - who, as Thomas stated, Bush brought to Iraq.
That's what it's all about and that's why the Pentagon and the Bush administration have no qualms about outsourcing the executions of suspected al Qaeda members in Iraq while nattering on about how the political situation just needs more time to stabilize - a process they are actually hindering.