Michael Ware


NR: A missing soldier and more updates

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KYRA PHILIPS: In and around Baghdad, more roadside bombings, another U.S. soldier killed, more gruesome discoveries, and a missing U.S. soldier feared kidnapped.

CNN's Michael Ware is there.

Michael, let's begin with the soldier. Fill us in on the search.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Kyra, what the situation is, is that at about 2:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon was the last time this soldier, an interpreter for a provincial reconstruction team here in Baghdad, was seen.

Now, it's believed -- he's an Iraqi-American, so it's believed he was going to visit his family. He was reported missing at 7:30 p.m. on Monday evening. A relative who was at the house where it's said that he was abducted told the story that three vehicles pulled up with masked gunmen who handcuffed the soldier and took him away.

That's when an operation was activated and General Thurman, the commander who owns Baghdad and the 4th Infantry Division, searched house to house in the area where it's believed he was taken, including a TV station and a mosque connected to one of Iraq's key Shia political factions. Now that search continues.

We've seen this happen before when American soldiers have been taken. Andrew Maupin some years ago, and to a lesser extent, pilots from downed helicopters and other incidents, and I hate to say it, but history does not bode well here if these facts are true, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And we've talked -- actually it's Matt Maupin -- we have talked a lot about him and the fact that he hasn't been found yet, Michael. Meanwhile, still no letup in the violence.

WARE: No, absolutely not. We have five dead in Baghdad, five Iraqi civilians, from bombings. We have the death of another American soldier here in Baghdad today, bringing this month's total to 91. That easily puts it as the deadliest month in Iraq this year.

And it certainly, if it continues this way with almost a week left to go this month, it could make the top three of the worst months in Iraq since the war began. So it really is a chilling month for U.S. troops, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Michael Ware, live from Baghdad, thanks.


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DON LEMON: Some of the major players this morning also talked about Iraq. Success is possible in Iraq -- is it? Well, it is according to Washington's point man in Baghdad.

We talked about a timetable. He talked about a timetable of sorts. He and America's top commander both mentioned 12 to 18 months. Both also emphasized it all depends on what happens on the ground. CNN's Michael Ware has more.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a joint press conference by the two most powerful American representatives in Iraq, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and American commander General George Casey, the U.S. administration has outlined its expectations and a series of new benchmarks that it expects the Iraqi government to meet.

While underscoring the administration's belief that the Iraq mission is not only salvageable but can still succeed, Ambassador Khalilzad nonetheless recognized the many challenges ahead. He outlined a list of benchmarks that the administration is now looking to the Iraqis, in the ambassador's words, to step up and deliver in terms of tackling the militias, engaging with the Sunni insurgency, addressing reforms within the constitution, and the equal distribution of oil wealth around the country.

However, given that the Iraqi partners that Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey repeatedly referred to, the people that they are looking to to help them deliver these benchmarks, have proven themselves either to be weak or actively opposed to U.S. interests, it's unclear just what the Americans intend to do if these demands are not met again, having been outlined many times in the past. The only hint from the ambassador was perhaps a sign of a renewed international effort to force the Iraqi government to deliver.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMB. TO IRAQ: To broaden international support for stabilizing Iraq, Iraqi leaders and the United Nations have been working on a plan, an international compact with Iraq that will consist of a commitment by Iraq to do what's necessary in terms of continuing the economic reform and policies to put the country on the path to stability and prosperity in exchange for the international community's support.

WARE: While the ambassador did not flesh out the details of this international effort, in one potentially embarrassing moment during this press conference by these two pivotal American representatives here in Iraq, the electricity went out during tough questioning from the floor, throwing the room into darkness and the general and the ambassador silence over the microphones.

Michael Ware, CNN, Baghdad.

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KYRA PHILLIPS: Well, a tragic Tuesday in and around Baghdad -- more roadside bombings, another U.S. soldier killed, more gruesome discoveries, and a missing U.S. soldier feared kidnapped.

CNN's Michael Ware is there.

Michael, let's begin with the missing soldier. Fill us in on that search.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the search continues as we speak.

Monday afternoon, 2:30, was the last time that this soldier was seen. He's an Iraqi, but he's an American soldier, a translator attached to a provincial reconstruction team here in Baghdad.

Now, it's believed he was going into the city to visit relatives. At 7:30, an operation searching for him was launched. A relative says the soldier was at the relative's house, when three carloads of gunmen showed up, grabbed the soldier, handcuffed him, and took him away.

Since then, U.S. forces have launched raids, searching the area where they believed he was last night, house to house, including a television station and a mosque connected to one of the most powerful Shia factions here in Iraq.

So, bottom line, this soldier who left the Green Zone, it is said without any permission, has disappeared. And the U.S. military has launched a manhunt, looking for him.

PHILLIPS: And, Michael, just to put this in perspective, we're also hearing from other sources, confirming exactly what you said, that he did not have permission to leave this base and do what he did.

This just really puts I guess it's a bit of a reality check on what these soldiers are up against, when they do leave, and no one knows where they're going or where they are. It's a tremendous risk.

WARE: Well, it's extremely rare that a U.S. soldier just wanders off a base or out of the Green Zone, and walks alone in what they call the Red Zone, which is everywhere in the country except for the international zone, which houses the embassy.

It's not often that we have seen this. We have seen U.S. soldiers grabbed or go missing in the past, and they have met a variety of fates. There was a U.S. soldier who did go missing. It was believed he had been abducted, but he later showed up in Beirut. No one has any idea what has happened to this American translator.

PHILLIPS: So, Michael, let me ask you, then, considering that this is not a normal thing to do, is -- are there any questions surrounding why he would want to leave that base? Could there be another motive here?

WARE: Well, that delves into the nature of the investigation and the search that I'm sure is under way.

Certainly, it does pose questions, whether this is just a fellow who was doing something that he shouldn't and fell afoul, or whether there is something else behind this. I mean, we have seen, in past experience, that there were other motivations behind the disappearance of a previous U.S. soldier. However, we have also seen, tragically, real abductions, and the grabbing of American soldiers, all of which have not ended well, I'm afraid.

PHILLIPS: We will keep following the investigation with you.

Michael Ware, thanks.