CBS's Rene Syler interviewed the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, in the first half hour of today's Early Show. Her first question to Pace was prefaced by the body count of yesterday's suicide bombings at American hotels in Amman, Jordan at the hands of terrorists who had crossed the border from Iraq. In light of that tragedy, Syler wondered: "Do you take this as a sign that we are losing the war on terror?"
Though Syler and other co-hosts of the Early Show mentioned today is Veteran's Day and briefly thanked American veterans for their military service, there were no positive stories on accomplishments in Iraq or Afghanistan or reviews of progress in the war on terror overall. This is par for the course for the Early Show, however, as I've blogged here and here. The full transcript is posted below:
11 November 2005 (Friday)
Rene Syler: "This Veteran's Day, Americans across the country pause to honor and remember the brave men and women who have defended our country. The day takes on added significance, though, with our troops still on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. General Peter Pace is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Good morning, General."
Syler: "I want to start by asking you about the recent bombings in Jordan. It's now been confirmed the suicide bombers came across the border from Iraq to carry out these acts. Sixty people were killed, at least two of those Americans. Do you take this as a sign that we are losing the war on terror?"
General Peter Pace: "Rene, I'll be happy to answer that question. But if I could take just a minute because today is Veterans Day and a day the nation set aside to pay respects to all those who fought so hard for our freedoms. I would just like to say thank you to all the veterans out there who have sacrificed that we might have the freedoms we have and to assure them and rededicate ourselves who are in uniform today to take those freedoms, nourish them, cherish them, fight for them and pass them on to our grandchildren. So we owe them a great debt of gratitude."
Pace: "With respect to your question, what you have is terrorists who are now understanding that the votes in Iraq are the Iraqi people telling the whole world that they want to control their own destinies, that they want the freedoms that we have enjoyed for so long. And you have murderers like Zarqawi, who has claimed responsibility for murdering innocents in Iraq, and, I'm told now has claimed the responsibility for murdering innocents in Jordan, who have nothing to offer other than fear. And the Iraqi people are not going to bow to that fear."
Syler: "General, on this Veteran's Day some 2,000 American soldiers and Marines have died in iraq. Seven thousand have been wounded. The President says we are fighting now so that those men and women did not die in vain. Is that in fact what we're fighting for?"
Pace: "First of all, to each of the families who has lost a loved one, I don't know how you find the right words to tell them how much we appreciate and respect the sacrifice that they have made. Generations of Americans have made those sacrifices that we could live in freedom, as we do today. Today's losses are just as dear as any losses that this nation has ever suffered. This is not about, however, somehow mortgaging or atoning for those kinds of losses. This is about saying thank you to those families for their sacrifices and promising those families that, in fact, the sacrifices were worthwhile, that they do make a difference, that 25 million Afghans and 25 million Iraqis are free today because of those sacrifices. And, indeed, the United States of America is free because of those sacrifices and will continue to be free. This enemy is very, very real. And the sacrifices we made, although very dear, are, in fact going to be looked upon by future generations as, again, a great generation of Americans."
Syler: "General Peter Pace, thank you for your time. And as you said, we pause today to thank all of those who fought for our country. And, again, thank you."
### 0721 EST ###