YWT: "...signs of limited progress here in Baghdad."
HALA GORANI: While a relative dip in violence has some in Baghdad breathing easier, other parts of Iraq are suffering a surge in attacks.
JIM CLANCY: And noteworthy, a U.S. presidential hopeful puts his recent remarks about his security to the test as commanders warn insurgents just may be shifting their focus in Iraq.
GORANI: Meanwhile, another top U.S. politician also in the region promoting Middle East peace. We'll see why the White House is angered over her itinerary.
CLANCY: All right.
First, to a bombing in Kirkuk in Iraq. It's adding to a recent string of deadly attacks in the north of the country.
Twelve people reported killed, 150 others wounded after a truck bomb exploded outside a police station. Many of the victims were children at a nearby school.
Officials have revised the death toll, meantime, from last week's suicide truck bombing in Tal Afar. That's northwest of Kirkuk. They now say 152 people were killed in that blast, making it the single deadliest attack since the war began.
GORANI: Well, the U.S. Republican senator and presidential hopeful John McCain says the world isn't getting the full picture of the security improvements in Baghdad. Under heavy guard, he toured an outdoor market that's been hit by several major attacks in recent months.
Let's bring in Michael Ware in Baghdad for details of his trip.
And Senator McCain is arguing that the situation is safer thanks to the surge in troops, as the White House is calling it.
How are you seeing that on the ground and McCain's trip in the context of all of this, Michael?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, the surge and the so-called Baghdad security plan has had an impact on particular types of violence here in the capital, Baghdad. For instance, the death squads don't quite have the free hand they used to have at night to roam and to kill.
Nonetheless, dozens of tortured or executed bodies are still showing up on the streets. Al Qaeda is still getting its suicide bombings through the security cordons, killing scores here in the capital. And as this Republican congressional delegation visited Baghdad, they seem to be investing so much in the fact that in an envelope of heavy security -- which according to other media reports included three Black Hawk helicopters, two Apache attack helicopters, and 100 U.S. troops -- that they could drive from the airport and walk in a Baghdad market just three minutes from the Green Zone achieves nothing.
There are signs of limited progress here in Baghdad. But this so-called "Baghdad walk" by the members of Congress does not highlight that.
This has been done time and time again. U.S. generals and U.S. representatives have often been able to conduct such walks. There's much better ways of getting the message across.
GORANI: And what are those ways, Michael?
WARE: Well, it's a matter of highlighting how sectarian deaths have been dampened, how the death squads' movements have been restricted, how we've seen pressure placed upon the infrastructure of the Mahdi army militia, one of the frontline elements in the sectarian violence. Nonetheless--
GORANI: I'm sorry to interrupt. What about the rest of the country? We've seen a lot of...
WARE: Well, that's what I was about to say. At the same time, we have to accept that from the very beginning, U.S. commanders said, "expect the insurgents and the militias to lay low. And watch, as we've seen many times before, the displacement of violence."
You focus on Baghdad, they take their attacks elsewhere, like the border town of Tal Afar, where 150 people are slaughtered in suicide bombing attacks, and then the police at night go out and execute 60 or 70 more people just in retribution. You can't look at a senator's walk in the capital alone as the measure of progress.
GORANI: And lastly, I've got to ask you about a report there that said that you were heckling and laughing during Senator McCain's news conference in Baghdad.
Is there any truth to that?
WARE: No, there is not, Hala. I didn't heckle. Indeed, it's been accused that I asked mocking questions. And as you'll see, I never even asked a question. In fact, I sat there silently.
This has been a political brouhaha that started last week. Unfortunately, Senator McCain has had one of the strongest Iraq policies that most reflects the realities here on the ground, but last week he made one gaffe. And when corrected on that, it's now brought his entire Iraq policy into question, and he seems to have backed himself into a corner and invested everything on his so-called "Baghdad walk" yesterday, even though it was enveloped in such a blanket of security.
GORANI: All right. Michael Ware, live in Baghdad.
Thank you, Michael -- Jim.