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U.S. and British Jets Strike IraqAired February 16, 2001 - 10:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Bill Hemmer in Atlanta. Airstrikes hit Iraq. We'll talk with an Arab journalist about Middle East reaction.
And what's it like to fly an F-15 over Iraq? We'll talk to a pilot who has.
The news is now.
ANNOUNCER: To our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, welcome to this CNN TONIGHT SPECIAL REPORT: AIRSTRIKE AGAINST IRAQ.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could see the anti-aircraft fire, tracer bullets going up into the sky. We could hear a lot of anti-aircraft fire around us.
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ANNOUNCER: As explosions light up the Baghdad sky, breaking news interrupts a U.S. Friday afternoon.
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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's 9:30 at night in Baghdad and CNN has just learned that anti-aircraft fire has lit the sky there.
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LT. GEN. GREGORY NEWBOLD, U.S. MARINE CORP: The military operation was conducted because the Iraqi air defenses had been increasing both their frequency and the sophistication of their operations.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will enforce the no-fly zone both south and north.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, by attacking him, you will rally the Arab world behind him and he will be stronger and stronger.
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BUSH: We're going to watch very carefully as to whether or not he develops weapons of mass destruction and if we catch him doing so we'll take the appropriate action.
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ANNOUNCER: For the next hour, a comprehensive look at the airstrike against Iraq, including reports from CNN correspondents Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon; Jane Arraf in Baghdad; John King, traveling with President Bush; Major Garrett at the White House; Christiane Amanpour in London; and Andrea Koppel at the State Department.
Now, from the CNN Center in Atlanta, here is Bill Hemmer.
HEMMER: And good evening. The developments out of Iraq continue to unfold at this hour. Just a short time ago, CNN received the first pictures from Iraqi television showing what it says is the damage done in today's airstrikes. State media in Baghdad reports a man and a woman were killed, and several others were wounded when missiles hit targets outside the city.
This attack, however, was a complete surprise. CNN crews on the ground in Iraq found out about the strikes when they heard and saw anti-aircraft munitions fired into the air. We'll go live to Baghdad in a moment, but first, what happened today? And why?
For that, at the Pentagon tonight, here's Jamie McIntyre.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. pilots patrolling the southern no-fly zone in Iraq have been reporting over the last six weeks that Iraqi missiles and gunfire have been coming too close for comfort.
U.S. commanders found the reason Iraqi gunners seemed to have better aim was a series of previously unused radars around Baghdad. Operating just north of the no-fly zone, the radars were tracking allied planes and passing the information to Iraqi air defenses.
The Pentagon said it had no choice but to take them out in self- defense.
NEWBOLD: The military operation was conducted because the Iraqi air defenses had been increasing both their frequency and the sophistication of their operations.
MCINTYRE: Pentagon sources say more than 60 U.S. and British planes, including two dozen strike aircraft, attacked five targets that included more than 20 radars like these. U.S. Air Force F-15's flying out of Kuwait and Navy F-18's launched from the U.S. aircraft carrier Harry Truman used the latest state-of-the-art stand-off weapons, like this AGM-130 optically-guided missile, to hit targets above the 33rd parallel without crossing the 33rd parallel.
The Pentagon said its planes stayed in the southern zone to give its pilots maximum protection, not because of any restriction against flying in Baghdad's air space. Unlike most bombing missions in Iraq, this one had to be approved by President Bush, who insisted the action was to protect pilots, and not an escalation against his father's old foe.
BUSH: The commanders on the ground rightly make the decision as to how to enforce the no-fly zone. I want to assure those who don't understand U.S. policy that this is a routine mission.
MCINTYRE: Since Iraq began defying the U.S.-imposed no-fly zone after Operation Desert Fox in 1998, U.S. pilots have been fired at more 700 times, and responded with hundreds of bombs. But the intensity of this attack and its proximity to Baghdad sends a clear message that the new American president doesn't plan to let up on Saddam Hussein -- Bill.
HEMMER: Jamie, I'm not sure if the Pentagon would answer this directly or not, but is this is it or are there more strikes to come?
MCINTYRE: Well, this is for this operation. However, people may have lost track of the fact that the United States and its British allies have been bombing Iraq on the average of once every two or three days as Iraq has continued to defy enforcement of the no-fly zone.
So, officials at the U.S. Central Command who are in charge of this operation I've talked to tonight were a little puzzled that people were reacting so much to this. As one of them said, what do they think we've been doing for two years, as the U.S. pilots have been engaged in this kind of combat on an almost daily basis.
HEMMER: Jamie, also said to be several dozen aircraft involved in this mission, much more, they say, than normal missions. How significant is that at all, Jamie?
MCINTYRE: Well, it is a larger number. There were 60 altogether, if you count all of the aircraft, 24 were strike aircraft from both the Air Force, the Navy and Great Britain. But it's not that many more than have been used in previous strikes. This was a more substantial strike, and it was close to Baghdad and outside the no-fly zone. That's what made this attack stand out.
HEMMER: And quickly, Jamie, the Pentagon says at least 60 incidents since the 1st of January where targets on the ground have targeted actually allied planes overhead. What do they say is attributable for that particular increase?
MCINTYRE: Well, they think that Iraq is just trying harder to shoot down one of those planes. It's been trying do that two years. Saddam Hussein, in fact, put a bounty on the head of U.S. pilots, saying that he would make anybody who shot one down a rich person.
So, they've been trying very hard and there was evidence that they had managed to use these radars to give their gunners a better shot the planes and the United States wanted to essentially erase that advantage.
HEMMER: It's been a long day at the Pentagon. Jamie McIntyre, thanks to you tonight.
Anti-aircraft fire erupted in the sky over Baghdad around 9:00 p.m. local time. That was about nine hours ago. Explosions, though, were heard in the city. And the Pentagon says all allied planes did return safely from that mission earlier today.
It's now just a bit after 6:00 in the morning in Baghdad. The sun is coming up and CNN's Jane Arraf by telephone now from Baghdad and Jane, what is the Iraqi government saying about today's hit?
Jane Arraf, Bill Hemmer back here in Atlanta. If you can hear me, tell us what the Iraqi government is reporting thus far right now?
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Iraqi government is saying this could be just the start of a series of attacks by Israel and its ally, the United States, against Arab countries including Iraq and the Palestinians. Iraq trying to widen this conflict from an American- British attack on Iraqi military sites to what it tries to portray as a battle between the United States and the Arab world.
Iraq still revising the casualty toll in this airstrike just a few hours ago. Iraqi television has been on air during the night showing pictures of wounded in one of the main hospitals in Baghdad. Just a short while ago, it showed the body of a man who it said died in hospital after being hit by shrapnel.
Reporters were taken to one of the hospitals to see and speak to some of the wounded. Many of them say that they were walking down the street in a main Baghdad neighborhood when they were hit. Many of them wounded in the legs and abdomen by shrapnel it appeared.
This was a Friday in Baghdad, the Muslim holy day, and the streets were filled with people. The Iraqi government, President Saddam Hussein, has issued a statement saying that this is proof that the U.S. is colluding with Israel and proof there is conspiracy against the Arab world -- Bill.
HEMMER: Jane, in addition to that statement from Saddam Hussein, has there been anyone who has seen Saddam Hussein or even heard from him there in Baghdad? ARRAF: We have seen him on television. He has been convening an emergency meeting of the Revolutionary Command Council and the Baath Party leadership. There have been, as you know, rounded rumors that he was in ill health just a few weeks. Those rumors have proved to be untrue. He has been seen repeatedly in public and has made a great effort to appear with various dignitaries who have been in Baghdad, apparently to show that he is here, he is in good health and he is still defying the West -- Bill.
HEMMER: And Jane, out of curiosity, at the time of those attacks were hit about nine hours ago, as we previously mentioned, how did the Iraqi people react knowing that those explosions were quite visible and loud there in the streets?
ARRAF: There was an amazing lack of reaction. I was in a gathering of Iraqis and international residents of Baghdad. When the air raid sirens sounded, most people pretended not to notice. A few of them looked as if to ask each other whether those were indeed air raid sirens. It's been a long time since they've heard them.
When the explosion happened, life continued as normal. It was a single explosion where I was, a single, very loud explosion. It was impossible for Iraqis to tell where it had come from. This is a city that's used to explosions of all kinds and until they know where it's coming and which way the wind is blowing, most people do not react.
There was not widespread panic by any means, but families who were home with their children and children were hearing explosions on the other side of town as well, and the children were terrified. Some of them asking if the Americans were attacking again -- Bill.
HEMMER: Jane Arraf, by telephone in Baghdad. Again, it's just past 6:00 local time in the morning there with the sun coming up, the dawn of another day. Jane Arraf, again, thanks to you.
Now, at the time of that attack earlier, George Bush was in Mexico, this on his first international trip as president. Mr. Bush received word of the airstrikes as he was meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox at the Fox ranch in San Cristobal, Mexico.
Also with the president, CNN's senior White House correspondent, John King.
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His first steps on the world stage were carefully choreographed: a familiar place and a familiar face. But President Bush knew as he celebrated a new chapter in U.S.-Mexico relations, that before the day was out he would be explaining U.S.-led military strikes against an old nemesis.
BUSH: Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm. We will enforce the no-fly zone both south and north.
KING: The president authorized his first military operation Thursday after being told Iraqi radar and air defenses near Baghdad posed an increasing threats to allied pilots.
BUSH: Some of the missions require the commander-in-chief to be informed. This was such a mission.
KING: The president said he was determined to keep the post-Gulf War sanctions in place and to keep a wary eye on Iraq.
BUSH: We're going to watch carefully as to whether or not he develops weapons of mass destruction and if we catch him doing so, we'll take the appropriate action.
KING: Mr. Bush was at the ranch of President Vicente Fox when he received word the operation was over and he tried to keep his focus on his decision to make Mexico his first international stop.
BUSH: Muchissma gracias, amigo.
KING: As predicted, no major agreements, but upbeat talk about friendly cooperation as the two neighbors convene talks in the weeks ahead to discuss the flow of illegal immigrants and illegal drugs from Mexico into the United States.
PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX, MEXICO: Certainly there is a new attitude. There is a new way of approaching things, much more positive approach of things on this issue of immigration.
KING: But for all the symbolism of the visit, the strikes in Iraq turned attention to Mr. Bush's first test as commander-in-chief, and on a national security team with two Gulf War veterans, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and retired general and now Secretary of State Colin Powell.
(on camera): Mr. Bush described it all as routine, and said in authorizing the strikes he was simply acting on the recommendation of military commanders, not adopting a tougher posture against Saddam Hussein. But the president also left little doubt that if asked, he'd say yes again.
John King, CNN, Leon, Mexico.
HEMMER: Meanwhile tonight, the president has moved on to his home state of Texas. An hour ago, President Bush landed in Waco. He'll spend the weekend at his ranch after today's trip to Mexico, but the Iraqi issue will not be too far away.
At the White House tonight, let's check in there with CNN's Major Garrett, and Major, there was talk today from Capitol Hill that the president did not follow a common courtesy. Bring us up to speed. What's happening on that issue?
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, the military strikes against Iraq may have been undertaken with great efficiency and precision, but the White House did not inform congressional leaders about this effort against the Iraqi government, and that is considered a severe breach of etiquette with members of Congress.
CNN has learned that Senator Jesse Helms, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, has already complained to the White House about not being informed about this mission. Neither was House Speaker Dennis Hastert or the Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.
Now, those offices have not registered any protests, but congressional leaders like to be informed of efforts such as this. In other words, being told ahead of time so they can prepare a statement in support of U.S. policy and also to insure there's a good relationship of information between the Congress and the White House.
This is a very sensitive issue on Capitol Hill, especially among Republicans who resented the fact they were often kept in the dark by the Clinton administration. They expected a different policy under the Bush White House -- Bill.
HEMMER: And Major, some are suggesting the Bush administration will be much tough on Saddam Hussein than was the previous administration. Take us between the lines here, whether true or not, what's being talked about there at the White House?
GARRETT: Well, clearly, what this White House has said since taking office is that whether or not it's going to be tougher with Iraq or not, it's certainly going shift its focus; shift its focus away from the obsession, some might say, the Clinton white house had with the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and the spasms of violence there and shift it more toward Iraq and Iran, two nations that this administration believes are developing weapons of mass destruction and the means by which to deliver them. And they're shifting their focus to those two countries because they believe they create a much more unstable environment and much farther reaching regional conflicts and threats -- Bill.
HEMMER: Major Garrett from the White House tonight. Major, thanks to you.
Ahead here in our special report: The other country whose pilots and planes took part in Friday's airstrikes. The British perspective from CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour in London.
And later, reaction in the Arab world: Will the attacks isolate Saddam Hussein or will they generate sympathy?
And what about the U.S.? We'll sample reaction from around the country here.
And from a former U.S. pilot, what it's like to fly a mission over Iraq?
HEMMER: Quickly, we want to recap now the allied airstrikes against Iraq. U.S. and British warplanes bombed sites near Baghdad today, striking targets U.S. officials say posed a threat to air patrols enforcing the no-fly zone. Iraqi officials are denouncing the attacks, calling them the prelude to a holy war. Iraqi television reporting a man and a woman were killed and several others were injured. And President Bush says he did authorize the strike to protect allied planes and crews flying over Iraq.
A mix of U.S. and British aircraft were used to carry out those strikes today. CNN's Christiane Amanpour now live from London with more reaction now this time from British officials. Christiane, hello to you.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, well, Britain did take part in these strikes, the only U.S. ally that did. A British official later on this evening saying that this policy of strikes and sanctions may not be the best policy, it may not be the most satisfactory policy, but this is the only policy we have to contain the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein.
Given that, given what they say, and that they say it was in self-defense, Britain contributed something like six bombers to this raid and a fleet of tankers and escort fighter planes, and they said that they struck five or six targets inside Iraq, returned to base safely. This was authorized at the ministerial level here. According to Britain's Ministry of Defense, the defense minister, Geoff Hoon, authorized it, citing what he called an increase in threat to British and allied pilots.
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GEOFFREY HOON, BRITISH DEFENSE MINISTER: In January of this year, there were more attacks on our air crew than in the whole of the year 2000, and that is the main reason why we judged it necessary to ensure the safety of those air crew.
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AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Tony Blair was kept involved and apprised of all the consultations, but it was the defense minister who was consulted with Washington and who signed off on this and Britain is calling it a measured and targeted response to what they say was an increased security threat -- Bill.
HEMMER: Christiane, back here in the U.S., for some of the U.S. government Iraq has become a bit of an obsession. Is it the same way in the government there in England?
AMANPOUR: Well, it's certainly a major thorn in the side of both the British and the U.S. government and indeed many of the allied governments as well. This is has been going on for now 10 years, and as I indicated at the top, there seems to be consensus that this is the only policy that we have that works or the only policy we have, whether it works or not.
What they feel is that they have to have some mechanism to contain the Iraqi regime short of going into Baghdad with battalions of troops and trying to remove him, which they're not going to do. They say they need to contain the threat. They believe there is a threat from weapons of mass destruction and a threat to the Arab neighbors in the region.
So, this is what they're left with, and yes, periodically it comes up and British officials are very adamant that they stand by the U.S. on this policy, even though it does cause, as you know, with many of the people around the world, it causes some discomfort with the British people in terms of the suffering that the sanctions are having for the Iraqi people.
HEMMER: Christiane Amanpour with the view from London tonight. Christiane, thanks to you.
President Bush inherits a relationship with Iraq that has been shaped by the policies of two previous administrations, including his father's.
From Washington tonight with more on this, here's CNN's David Ensor.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The last time U.S. and allied warplanes attacked targets above the 33rd parallel was Operation Desert Fox in 1998. After less than a month in office, a new president has authorized it again. He and his team have said there will be a tougher policy towards Iraq until it lets arms inspectors back in.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Until he satisfies the international community that he does not have such weapons, is not developing such weapons, we have a goal to make sure that we keep the pressure on.
ENSOR: Bush aides say the tougher approach they plan is in the national interest, nothing personal. But the president can hardly have forgotten that in 1993, U.S. intelligence said Iraqi agents had plotted to kill his father, the former president, while in Kuwait.
Coincidence or not, as the latest U.S. strike was under way, leaders of the opposition Iraqi National Congress were in the State Department in Washington, discussing new funds from the Bush administration for radio broadcasts against the government of Saddam Hussein, to collect intelligence and evidence of war crimes in Iraq and to distribute humanitarian aid.
AHMAD CHALABI, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS: The airstrikes of the United States against Saddam's targets today in Iraq are, I believe, part of a new active policy which will help the Iraqi people remove Saddam from power.
ENSOR: The Bush administration says it wants international arms inspectors readmitted to Iraq. But the former deputy chief of UNSCOM says that's not worth doing unless they would have some firm guarantees.
CHARLES DUELFER, FORMER DEPUTY CHAIRMAN, UNSCOM: They'd better be very, very serious weapons inspectors. They'd better have access because the experience that UNSCOM had, the experience that the countries in the region have had at the hands of the Iraqis doesn't bode well for the future.
ENSOR (on camera): Weapons inspectors again? Tightened sanctions? None of this will be an easy sell to Iraq's neighbors whom the secretary of state will be visiting next week. Saddam Hussein has been very successful of late exploiting Arab anger at Israel and turning it against Israel's friend, the United States.
David Ensor, CNN, Washington.
HEMMER: More reaction now on this very issue from the State Department tonight and CNN's Andrea Koppel and Andrea, we just David just mentioned Colin Powell again headed to the region soon. How significant is this trip at this point?
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's important to know, Bill, that the timing of this trip is meant to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait on the 26th of this month, a subject near and dear to Secretary Powell's heart. Back then, 10 years ago, he wore a different heart as the top U.S. military commander during Desert Storm.
So, while he's in the region, Secretary Powell and his aides figured that it made sense consult with the United States' Arab allies, to make a swing through the region and discuss with them a subject that's very important to this administration, that is, re- energizing sanctions against Iraq, something that the administration believes will be much easier if they have the support of the Arab world.
The message from Secretary Powell will be, you guys need this as much as we do because unless and until we know that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction are over, his program is over, he's as much a threat to you as he is to us.
HEMMER: Let's talk more about the Iraqi resistance movement. It has been tried before. What, if anything, is new on this front now, Andrea?
KOPPEL: Well, many within the Iraqi opposition, you just saw Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress there, believe that they're going to get a much more sympathetic hearing from some within the Bush administration. There are some in this administration who believe that it makes sense to provide the Iraqi opposition with more money, more weapons, more training so that they could go ahead and do what they say they want to do, and that is overthrow Saddam Hussein. There are others who say that that's something that doesn't make so much sense.
HEMMER: And quickly, here, you mentioned support. Sanction support has been weekend recently. Why has that happened and what are people in Washington saying to that effect? KOPPEL: Well, Bill, there are a number of reasons for that, among them the fact that the sanctions regime is 10 years old. There is a lot of sympathy within the Arab world for the suffering of the Iraqi people, the pictures that they've seen on television, the reports that the Iraqi people are the ones who are suffering the most. But there are other reasons beyond that. Saddam Hussein is using his oil as a weapon, selling it cheaply to those who are more sympathetic to him.
HEMMER: Andrea Koppel from the State Department. Thanks to you.
Now, the Pentagon says two dozen U.S. and British aircraft took part in today's airstrikes. What was it like, thought, for the crews manning those planes?
Captain Genter Drummond remembers quite well. He flew an F-15 in attacks against Iraq, this during the Persian Gulf War 10 years ago.
Here is how he sounded back then.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you sit there and you watch this stuff come up and at some point you become comfortable almost with what you're doing because you're in your cockpit and then you realize that this isn't the time to become comfortable with you're doing because you've got stuff being aimed at you.
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HEMMER: Captain Drummond is now retired from the Air Force, and joins us live tonight from Tulsa, Oklahoma with his perspective. Good evening to you, sir.
CAPT. GENTER DRUMMOND, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): Good evening, Bill.
HEMMER: Let's go through procedures, quickly here. When does a pilot find out about a mission such as today?
DRUMMOND: More likely than not, these pilots were briefed 48 hours ago that the likelihood of an attack would come today.
HEMMER: And what's the procedure today? You wake up in the morning and what happens from there?
DRUMMOND: I think if we back up one night, the procedure last night was they didn't sleep. And this morning, up very early preparing through intelligence briefings, stepping into the jet, preparing for the mission.
HEMMER: How did it feel looking at yourself in the video just there?
DRUMMOND: That was a good-looking Oklahoman named John Desset (ph). He was one of my wing men during the Gulf War. HEMMER: And when you look back at your time 10 years ago, not only you but your colleagues who were there in Iraq, how do you feel knowing that Saddam Hussein is still an issue today?
DRUMMOND: Well, it is regrettable that Saddam Hussein is in power, but it is the decision of the Iraqi people to keep him there. I think that we went the full measure of the authorization that we received through United Nations.
HEMMER: You were a pilot in Desert Storm. Tell us about how difficult is it to locate targets on the ground such as those that were hit today?
DRUMMOND: It is remarkably different in the desert region of Iraq.
HEMMER: Tell us why, sir.
DRUMMOND: Well, it is a unique environment. You have the population centers and then you have great expanses of river bottom or desert.
HEMMER: You say there were several planes, several dozen planes that went out first before the actual aircraft that went out and delivered those weapons that followed. Tell us how that works.
DRUMMOND: Well, more likely than not, we had air-to-air protecting jets, F-15s more likely than not, out in front of the strike package and integrated package behind with the British jets as well as the American fighter bombers.
HEMMER: And when you think about the overall policy right now reflecting on Iraq, how effective or ineffective has it been in your estimation?
DRUMMOND: I think it's profoundly important that President Bush has made this decision. He's the new teacher on the playground and we have a bully that's been overstepping the line and we have shaken our finger at him several times and it's time to take him and give him a little chastisement.
HEMMER: Do you miss it?
DRUMMOND: Oh, I miss the excitement. It was a remarkable war to be in. We remarkable support from the public back here, and our men and women are highly trained. They will deliver when told.
HEMMER: Captain Genter Drummond, retired, U.S. Air Force, live from Tulsa. Thank you sir.
DRUMMOND: Thank you, Bill.
HEMMER: Much appreciated.
Still ahead on this special hour: What the Arab world is saying about the strike against Iraq. And a refresher on the no-fly zones: Where they are, who they're supposed to help. Stay with us. We're back after this.
HEMMER: The U.S. and Great Britain have been flying patrols in the two no-fly zones in Iraq for about a decade now. At times, it has been an ongoing game of cat and mouse.
Why were the zones created? And how do they work?
Here's CNN's Tim Lister.
TIM LISTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War, the Iraqi military launched campaigns to crush revolts in the south and north of the country.
In the north, tens of thousands of Kurds fled across mountains into Turkey. In the south, the Iraqi army and air force attacked the Shiite population in and around Basra.
The United States and its allies responded in 1991 by forbidding Iraqi planes to fly north of the 36th parallel. And in august 1992, then-President Bush announced the introduction of Operation Southern Watch, banning all Iraqi flights south of the 32nd parallel. This no- fly zone was later extended to the 33rd parallel.
American, British and French planes began to patrol these no-fly zones, using bases in the Gulf and in Turkey. France later dropped out of the operation, but British and U.S. planes continued to patrol both zones. They were rarely challenged by Iraqi fighter jets. But allied planes frequently attacked Iraqi radar and communications facilities, especially when radar locked onto them or when there was anti-aircraft fire.
This latest high-profile strike is a response to what U.S. defense officials describe as the increased vulnerability of allied planes in the southern no-fly zone. After nine years of sorties over Iraq, not a single allied aircraft has been lost, and to keep it that way, said a Pentagon spokesman, the allies had no choice but to conduct this strike.
Tim Lister, CNN.
HEMMER: Now for the Arab world's position on today's attacks. Live from New York with some answers, Raghida Dergham, senior diplomatic correspondent for "Al-Hayat." That's a London-based Arabic newspaper.
Good evening to you.
RAGHIDA DERGHAM, "AL-HAYAT" NEWSPAPER: And to you too, Bill. HEMMER: Tell us about the message today. What was it? What is it?
DERGHAM: I think the message by the strikes is to put the Iraqi regime on alert, that while there is a review of the American policy it doesn't mean that the United States will be lax, particularly when it comes to locking in the radar on its troops in the no-fly-zone.
The no-fly-zone remains very controversial in the Arab world and in the Security Council of the United Nations, as well. As you know, this has not been authorized by the Security Council, to enforce these two no-fly- zones. It is a unilateral action by the United States and the United Kingdom, and it meets a lot of criticism from, let's say, France and Russia and China and other members of the international body as well as the Arab world.
So the no-fly-zone is controversial, and it is problematic for the policies of the United States in the region.
HEMMER: And clearly, one could understand that position in Iraq. Take us more to the regional center there, throughout the Arab world. What is their perception right now? How do they view something like that, that we saw today?
DERGHAM: I think the majority would hope, at least, that this is a one-shot thing, that this is not a change of policy toward confrontation. But I think there is a lot of support in the region for the lifting of the sanctions of Iraq. Of course, that does not mean that the region will support Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, but there is definitely a need to go ahead and review the policy and go back to the basics.
And the basics are the United Nations resolutions that should guide all the countries' obligations. And that is the problem -- that was the problem during the Clinton administration. There were things beyond the resolutions, and Secretary of State Powell yesterday at the United Nations assured everyone that we will go by the resolutions and not beyond. So I think there is a review in Washington and I'm not so sure it's concluded.
I think there are factors and the bodies who want to go with the hawkish approach -- let's bomb and see what happens -- and there are those who are reasonable, and are saying, let's go by the resolutions and solve this.
HEMMER: I want to get to two more issues, got to do it quickly, though. How do you believe Saddam Hussein reacts when issues like these today get so much attention?
DERGHAM: Oh, but of course he would like to take advantage. He'd like to say that look at the Americans lining up with the Israelis against the Arabs, and let the streets rise and be with me and declare me the hero. That's of course what he would wish.
And that is why it is important to really go by the policy that would blunt these wishes, because that is not so. The Palestinians and the Israelis are very, very important: Development on its own, whatever is happening there, is already drastic, as I said, on its own. And I think Saddam Hussein might take advantage to say, look, there is the enemy.
However, I don't think the governments in the region are going to rally along. And I think the sentiment, however, in the region, is one that must pay attention to. There's a lot of anger at what's happening to the Palestinians, and I don't think the strikes are going to make the United States policy look better.
HENNER: And quickly we're going to a former inspector shortly here, but I want to get your reaction to this. You said earlier to CNN, you said the Iraqi people don't mind the inspectors in their own country. What do you mean by that?
DERGHAM: The return of the monitoring. The monitoring, the long-term monitoring in Iraq is not rejected by the Iraqis. The Iraqis are saying, let us look at all the obligations, tell us what's happening, and see what would we get. Would we get the lifting or at least the suspension of the sanctions? And that is by the resolutions of United Nations.
I am not saying that they will expect inspectors to go back for disarmament, but I -- my information is that they have not rejected the return of the long-term monitoring, which means, in fact, de facto, the inspections would have to continue, but only if the sanctions. The issue is the sanctions, if that's looked at fresh, in a fresh way.
HENNER: Point clarified. Thanks for coming on tonight. Raghida Dergham, live there in New York tonight. Much appreciated.
DERGHAM: Thank you.
HENNER: For those of you just tuning in, a complete recap of Friday's airstrikes against Iraq just ahead here. We'll also take you again to the U.N. for reaction from Iraq's ambassador.
Our special report will continue in just a moment.
HEMMER: We're going to recap now the latest on today's allied airstrikes against Iraq. U.S. and British planes attacked five Iraqi military command-and-control centers near Baghdad. President Bush says he authorized the strikes, which came in response to increased threats against allied planes patrolling the no-fly zones. Iraq has condemned the attacks, calling them a prelude to a holy war.
Nowhere has the Iraqi issue been talked about more than by diplomats at the United Nations. But they, too, it appears, were surprised by the news today.
CNN's Richard Roth is in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lights were on, but the Security Council wasn't home. No emergency sessions were called following U.S.-British missile strikes in Iraq. They have become routine in diplomatic circles. Baghdad's new envoy to the U.N. expressed disappointment about the air assault.
MUHAMMED AL DOURI, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: It is normal for any Iraqi -- for any Iraqi citizen that he is disappointed.
ROTH: The ambassador said he didn't think talks, scheduled for later this month, between Iraq and the U.N. -- the first in years -- would be postponed as a result of the missile attacks. The timing of the Baghdad bombing was what was most intriguing to U.N. diplomats. They came just two days after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the U.S. mission in New York to meet with the four other major powers on the Security Council.
One Western diplomat said he was stunned to hear of the air raids since Powell stressed dialogue and compromise on Iraq with the other U.N. members. The Security Council has been split for years on Iraq, particularly on sanctions, voted for 10 years ago.
RUTH WEDGEWOOD, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it's been fraying for the last three, four, five years because of commercial interests and regional interests.
ROTH: Each week a different country pledges support to the Iraqi people and flies in humanitarian aid and passengers, skirting vague Security Council sanctions rules. U.N. member countries may disagree on the usefulness of sanctions, but there is still unity on Baghdad complying with international demands for full disclosure on weapons capabilities. The U.N. hasn't had weapons inspectors inside Iraq since they withdrew two years ago before another round of U.S. bombing.
For one year, Hans Blix has been chairman of a remodeled weapons inspections team still waiting for the go-ahead to enter Iraq once permitted by the authorities. These weapons agency staffers were preparing Friday for the eventuality of returning to Iraq.
HANS BLIX, CHAIRMAN OF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTION TEAM: It would be inappropriate for me to assume anything as to what they have, that they have advanced weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, it would be naive of me to exclude that possibility.
ROTH: Now Blix recently signed another one-year contract to stay on as the chief weapons inspector, but even he could not tell whether at the end of that year he thinks he's going to get his inspectors back inside Iraq -- Bill.
HEMMER: Richard, back to your story there, you mentioned that sanctions have frayed in recent years. Give us a better idea about how this has happened and what has happened with regard to that. ROTH: Well, for most of the 1990s decade, the Security Council sanctions committee gave approval or disapproval to a lot of items that came across its desk, specifically passenger flights that might be trying to get into Iraq. They were really totally all in violation. It never really happened except for certain religious pilgrimage flights.
But about a few months ago it just started happening that countries just started sending in planes. The U.S. failed to block or make an aggressive block to those flights. And now a lot of flights are getting in without any severe checks perhaps on cargo or passengers. A lot of them are under the guise of humanitarian efforts, but there's a lot of doubt there.
But the U.S. has let it go and Britain has let it go, and now we have these missile strikes today. But it's still an isolated episode. There is still a heavy split inside the Security Council, Bill, between the major powers.
HEMMER: All right. We'll continue to watch that one. Richard Roth from New York tonight. Thank you, Richard.
Another quick break here. When we come back. we'll talk with a man who's gone into Iraq looking for nuclear weapons. Back after this.
HEMMER: There has been talk of U.N. inspectors returning to Iraq to make sure President Saddam Hussein is not developing weapons of mass destruction. From Washington now with more on that, David Kay, who is the chief nuclear inspector for UNSCOM. He's with us live now.
Sir, good evening to you
DAVID KAY, FORMER CHIEF UNSCOM INSPECTOR: Good evening.
HEMMER: Inspectors have not been on the ground there in more than two years. How much has that hurt the current process?
KAY: Oh, I think that's hurt tremendously our ability to actually know what is happening in Iraq. Particularly true with regard to weapons like biological and chemical that are much easier to shield from satellite and other means of detection.
HEMMER: Yeah. When inspectors were on the ground, though, David, tell us how effective were they. How productive were they in finding what they were looking for?
KAY: I think the inspectors overall were surprisingly effective. More in fact about Iraq's nuclear program, biological and chemical program was discovered after the war than was known before the war because of on-site inspections.
But you must have inspectors that have independence of movement, the ability to probe hard, not simply monitors that sit in a Baghdad hotel room and confirm what the Iraqis bring to them.
HEMMER: Now, you know, the U.N. is going to talk with Iraqi officials later this month. How far away are inspectors from going back into Iraq?
KAY: I think real inspection is a very long way. I do not in fact think Saddam Hussein will agree to have inspectors of the UNSCOM type ever again in Iraq. It is possible that the U.S. and its allies will cave in and agree to some type of loose monitoring. Those Saddam could accept, I think.
HEMMER: You're saying a long way. Do you mean months, years, or something that you can't even see in the foreseeable future?
KAY: As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, I do not believe that you will have a resumption of really truly tough independent inspections for arms in Iraq.
HEMMER: Yeah, there's a reported increase of Iraqi aggression from the ground toward allied aircraft in the past months, since the 1st of January. Do you see that as Saddam Hussein provoking the new president here in the U.S.?
KAY: I think there is a reaction of probing. Saddam actually did this at the beginning of the first Clinton administration as well. I think Saddam believes that he has time and politics on his side.
The collapse of the Middle East peace process has encouraged him to try to seize leadership by showing that he is tough, that he can stand up to the Americans, and that they essentially we can't do anything to stop him.
HEMMER: David Kay, if that's case, then take us down the road here in the minute we have left. Where is this relationship headed?
KAY: I think the relationship -- I hope it's not headed where it looks like it's headed today. That is we react to a Saddam provocation and then hope things get better.
I think it is time for the administration to re-evaluate its policies and take the initiative away from Saddam.
HEMMER: David Kay from Washington. Thank you, sir. Much appreciated.
KAY: Thank you.
HEMMER: All right.
You've been listening to us now. In a minute, we will listen to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Civilians in Iraq are the ones that end up getting hurt. You know, we can talk about governments and military back-and-forth. But I feel in the end that's the people who are getting the short end of the stick in this case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: More reaction to the airstrikes, but first tonight's "MONEYLINE Update" and a look at how today's news from Iraq affected some parts of Wall Street.
STUART VARNEY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Start Varney with this "MONEYLINE Update." A triple whammy on Wall Street: airstrikes near Baghdad, tech letdowns from top companies, and frightening news on inflation, all factors that sent stocks plunging today.
The Nasdaq tumbled after troubling news on profits and sales from Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Nortel. The index lost 127 points, or 5 percent, back down to 2,425. But the Dow didn't emerge unscathed: It fell 91 to end at 10,799. Watch "MONEYLINE" at 6:30 and 11:30 p.m. Eastern weeknights on CNN.
HEMMER (voice-over): Napster knockdown: Napster suffers a blow in court. A three-judge federal appeals panel rules against Napster's free Internet music exchange, saying the service may be liable for copyright infringement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will pursue every legal avenue to keep Napster operating.
HENNER: Less is more? Scientists unveil the mapping of a human genome. But instead of the 100,000 genes thought to make up a human, researchers find only 30,000 -- about the same amount in a rat.
NEAR and far: NASA lands a spacecraft on an asteroid for the first time in history. The NEAR probe is now shooting images of the rock with gamma rays.
And that's this week's "Power Plays and Power Players."
HEMMER: We'd also like to hear your opinion on the airstrike against Iraq. Sound off on the message board on our Web site. CNN.com is the Web site. AOL users can use the keyword CNN.
Also while you're there at the Web site, take our quick vote, too. Tonight's question: Do you approve of the latest U.S.-led airstrikes on Iraq? At last check, 72 percent of those responding did approve of those strikes; 28 percent disapproved.
CNN crews across the U.S. gathered responses throughout the day today. Here is what some Americans now had to say about the airstrikes. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He keeps on doing these things, he doesn't learn. So we're probably going have to do something else a little more effective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not really surprised being that -- I think President Bush had some unfinished business with his father's administration, and also they're all oil guys in his Cabinet anyway. So I'm not really surprised.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Civilians in Iraq are the ones that end up getting hurt. You know, we can talk about governments and military back-and-forth, but I feel in the end that's the people who are getting the short end of the stick in this case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel very sorry for the children there and for the boycott. But on the other hand, I think, you know, the government there always seems to have plenty money in Iraq to spend on armaments and things, and not enough for their children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're continuing to do what we have to do. They are continuing to take an aggressive stance, and we have to do whatever we have to do to deter them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't know what the other options would have been. I certainly hope it doesn't start another war. And if it does, then we should finish it this time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first thing you kind of think of is, well, that's Bush really kind of asserting himself. You know, I couldn't help but think that. Of course, now they're denying it and saying this is part of, you know, this is -- they keep saying routine or something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's horrible. I think it's time that they stopped bombing it. It's Iraqi's fly zone. They should fly wherever they want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do support President Bush and what he has done. I think he took action very quickly, and that's probably what we need to do in those situations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as I'm concerned it was a smart thing to do as opposed to letting the Iraqis build up, and that would become a threat to this country as well as a lot of other countries.
HEMMER: That was our final word tonight. That concludes our special report. Once again, I'm Bill Hemmer, live at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
For our domestic viewers, we invite you to stay tuned for "SPORTS TONIGHT." That follows, and actually for our international viewers, you will see "WORLD NEWS" next. Take care and have a good one. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
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