EC: "...this is the largest collection of al Qaeda in Iraq materials to ever come into civilian hands."

Length: 4:39

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Campbell Brown does another preview of the AQI document piece, and also gets Michael's reaction to something that Senator McCain said today.

(The AQI piece did not air on 360 due to breaking news.)

CAMPBELL BROWN: Michael Ware in Baghdad, he's got a CNN exclusive: new secrets about al Qaeda.

That's next.


BROWN: Tonight, Democrats are jumping all over something John McCain said on NBC's "Today Show" this morning.

And here it is. Listen closely. It's very quick.


MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": Do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, but that's not too important.


BROWN: Now, we're going to play that again in a second, but that remark set off a Democratic firestorm today. Senator John Kerry, Senator Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted McCain for saying it is -- quote -- "not too important" when U.S. troops come home from Iraq.

But wait. Tonight, the McCain camp, as well as Senator Joe Lieberman, accuse the Democrats of distorting what McCain said. So, you can decide what to make of it. I want you to hear a longer take from McCain's appearance. Take a listen.


LAUER: Do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?

MCCAIN: No, but that's not too important. What's important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea. Americans are in Japan. American troops are in Germany. That's all fine.

American casualties and the ability to withdraw.


BROWN: So, how will the troops in Iraq feel about McCain's comment?

Who better to ask than our very own Michael Ware, who is in Baghdad for us tonight?

Michael, there must have been some reaction.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we haven't heard directly from the troops. Obviously, they are very professional. They keep these things close to their chest.

But if you are amongst them, you certainly get the feel. This comment would have very much felt like a wet blanket to them. These guys are indeed volunteers and a professional army. And they will do their job until they are told to stop. But the frustration, particularly amongst these guys I see who are here for their third time and seeing relatively little progress, certainly where it counts, is starting to grind them down.

It's so evident. Morale is not what it once was. So, a comment like that, as throwaway as it might be, isn't going to be welcome. Yet, at the same time, a senior U.S. official in the mission here just today told me that, if you want to pull out, that's fine, but you need to think about the consequences of America not being here -- Campbell.

BROWN: Michael, I want to move on, because, for weeks, you and your team in Baghdad have been sifting through a mother lode of secret information about al Qaeda in Iraq.

It is almost hard to believe. We're talking about application forms to join al Qaeda, pay stubs, strategy plans, hit lists, and thousands of hours of video, all of it detailing al Qaeda's secret operations, all of it handed over to Michael. Take a look.


WARE (voice-over): al Qaeda gunmen brought this man here to die. Staged for maximum impact, he's to be executed on this busy market street. We don't know why; the al Qaeda members who recorded this tape offer no explanation. But the anticipation is agonizing, leading to a moment we cannot show you.

A punishment for betraying al Qaeda or for breaking their strict version of Islamic law. Either way, it was public executions like this that would help lead to the unraveling of al Qaeda in Iraq. And al Qaeda knew it.


BROWN: And, Michael, it's brutal, but give us your take. What insight to these documents, do these videos give us about the inner workings of al Qaeda in Iraq?

WARE: Look, Campbell, this is the largest collection of al Qaeda in Iraq materials to ever come into civilian hands.

And what they give you is a window into this organization that only members of al Qaeda itself or a few people in the Western intelligence community would have ever had.

What we see is an al Qaeda that is far more sophisticated, far more complex, far better organized, and far more deeply penetrated into the Iraqi government and to some degree even into U.S. bases than most could have ever imagined.

In talking to intelligence officials here on the ground, though al Qaeda now is under stress more than ever before, this smaller organization is -- today is operating in just the same way -- Campbell.

BROWN: Michael Ware for us from Baghdad tonight -- Michael, as always, thanks.

And Michael has much more on this story. And he's going to have it all tonight on "AC 360" at 10:00 Eastern time.