TSR: "But for us, it's just the less attention that you attract, that's that little bit safer that you are."
Wolf Blitzer asks Michael about the current status of the war in Afghanistan, and also asks him about a close call he had last week when the truck he and his cameraman were riding in struck an IED. (The full story and video of that night will be on AC360 tonight.)
WOLF BLITZER: Four American troops died in Afghanistan today, 13 so far this month. And August brought a record death toll of 52.
CNN is on the scene of this increasingly bloody war with enormous ramifications for the United States.
Let's go live to the scene.
CNN's Michael Ware is joining us right now. Michael, I'll ask the blunt question to you: is Afghanistan falling apart?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's very simple answer to that, Wolf, and that would roughly be, yes.
Has it gone beyond the point of no return?
No. It can still be salvaged. But there would be very few in the U.S. command or the U.S. mission here that would deny the fact that the mission is in crisis.
Let's look at the big picture here. Politically, this country is now in limbo. They haven't even determined the outcome of last month's elections because of this storm of corruption allegations that we've just been talking about.
Now, everyone expected there to be some corruption, but had it been clean and swift and it had been done, that would have been better than this drawn out situation that we have now.
Militarily, as you say, 13 U.S. service personnel killed this month. That's in just eight days alone. The combat continues right now. And the entire war plan is under review. So politically and militarily, the mission is in limbo -- Wolf.
BLITZER: There could be a recommendation from the commanders -- the military commanders to the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, Michael, for thousands of additional U.S. troops to be dispatched -- deployed to Afghanistan.
Would that really make a difference?
WARE: Well, it depends if America wants to actually fight this war or not, because right now, certainly it isn't. I mean, this massive offensive that's underway in Helmand Province, where so many American and British and other troops are dying, is really just taking a very tiny bite out of a very large apple.
No one disputes the fact that none of the operations at the moment have any prospect of breaking the back of the Taliban. The Taliban war machine remains untouched -- its supplies lines, its sanctuaries in Pakistan, its command, its control, its ability to regenerate and replace its fighters. So troops are needed if America wants to apply anything close to real military pressure here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You were just on a night patrol with U.S. forces on the edge of Taliban territory and you had a close call.
Tell us what happened.
WARE: Yes, Wolf, actually it wasn't with U.S. forces. We were with an Afghan police patrol in the southern city of Kandahar one evening last week, patrolling a Taliban neighborhood. And, unfortunately, the gun truck that cameraman Sarmad Qasiri and I were traveling in was struck by an IED -- a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban.
Fortunately, it was mistimed just by a nanosecond. Otherwise we might not be here to talking about this.
And, unfortunately, we've received a call from that Afghan police unit just earlier this evening. And less than 12 years ago [I think he meant 12 hours ago] on the same road in the same place, that patrol was hit again. However, this time two of the police officers had their legs shredded. One of them has serious facial injuries and may be blinded -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We saw you wearing traditional Afghan garb, Michael, and you've grown a beard. Are you trying to blend in? Is that the theory?
WARE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) I mean down here, the less visible you are, the safer you are. Nothing can ultimately protect you, whether you're in uniform or out of uniform. But for us, it's just the less attention that you attract, that's that little bit safer that you are. So if a bit of facial hair and what they call a mandress or a salwar kameez means it helps us get away with that, helps us to stay one step ahead, then I'll do it. I'll dress up in drag, Wolf, no problems.
BLITZER: Michael Ware, be careful over there. Stand by. We're going to be continuing to talk with you throughout this special week of our coverage.
By the way, tonight, an AC360 special report, "Afghanistan Elections: The Taliban Resurgence and Mounting American Casualties." It's a critical moment for the entire region. Anderson Cooper takes you inside Afghanistan "Live from The Battle Zone," all this week at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN, the worldwide leader in news.
We'll be speaking live with Anderson, by the way, in the next hour.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now.
He's got The Cafferty File.
I guess it's easier for Michael Ware to grow a beard and blend in than Anderson Cooper. He doesn't necessarily blend in in that Afghan society all that well.
CAFFERTY: What's your excuse?
BLITZER: I don't think I would blend in either.
CAFFERTY: You have the beard.
BLITZER: I've got the beard, though.
CAFFERTY: Why is it nobody else can cover the war in Afghanistan or the war in Iraq the way we can with Michael Ware?
BLITZER: We have incredible resources.
CAFFERTY: Well, we have Michael Ware.
BLITZER: And we have courageous, brave correspondents...
BLITZER: ...who are willing to literally risk their lives, as we see.
CAFFERTY: And can you tell watching his stuff that he -- there's a part of him that thrives on the danger and the adventure and the sense of...
BLITZER: Yeah, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq...
BLITZER: ...or in Mexico.
BLITZER: He did some great reporting from Mexico.
CAFFERTY: Or Brooklyn, where he lives.