CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
War in Iraq
Aired March 25, 2003 - 00:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Gary Strieker is aboard the Roosevelt for us. He is embedded there and he joins us now with a look at how events are unfolding from his location -- Gary.
GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, you know, we learned late yesterday that U.S. aircraft carriers here in the Mediterranean will now be launching many of their aircraft, their F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Hornets on missions to provide close air support for coalition ground forces in Iraq.
That's what we hear. We get that information as these critical engagements on the ground are coming closer, Aaron. These aircraft on the carriers will still be launching air strikes on predetermined military targets but much of the carrier's air power will now be providing protection for coalition forces on the ground -- Aaron.
BROWN: So that is a significant change in mission and indicates, general, to you, and Gary weigh in on this as well, that we've reached a somewhat different stage in the process?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET), FMR. NATO SUPREME CMDR.: That's right. We've done a lot of damage to his air defense system. Now, we're ready to go after troops on the ground.
BROWN: And, Gary, is that pretty much how when you talk to these pilots they're pretty confident they've taken out the air defense systems?
STRIEKER: Well, they feel the targets that were assigned to them definitely have been evaporated, in the words of one of the pilots, and according to another one they felt that some of the targets that remain are probably not as critical when you compare them to what could be done to assist the ground forces.
One of the pilots told us that on these close air support missions, they'll serve as the eyes and ears of the ground commanders, sometimes acting as their forward air controllers who direct weapons at targets that are threatening the ground troops.
And the pilots say, you know, that these close air support missions are much more satisfying to them than striking predetermined military targets. They get immediate feedback from the ground troops and the satisfaction of eliminating threats to the survival of their comrades on the ground -- Aaron.
BROWN: Go ahead, general, if you want to add to that. CLARK: We love it, need it, got to practice it. It's really tough.
BROWN: And it's just another example that despite the sort of incremental moments here and there, the campaign moves forward and that's very tangible evidence there that that is the case.
We're at the bottom of the hour here. We turn to Daryn Kagan to give us an update on the major events that have transpired on yet another significant day -- Daryn.
BROWN: Stay with us for a second.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure.
BROWN: Let's talk about this Al-Jazeera thing for a second. I had not heard that yet. As you know, Daryn, Al-Jazeera works across all of the Arab world and they aired yesterday -- they aired on Sunday not simply the long interviews with the American POWs that have been considerably controversial here in the states.
But even more so, it would seem to me, they aired some of the most disturbing pictures we have seen in our lives of dead Americans which has created a kind of discussion of sorts, you know how much you have to show to make the point and we're not in the business of sanitizing but do you need tight shots of the worst imaginable stuff?
Was that stuff -- Al-Jazeera's carried in Kuwait isn't it? That must have been seen in Kuwait.
KAGAN: Yes. No, and we watched that live, Aaron. I think perhaps we even saw it before you saw it back in the states. We were watching that feed. It was interesting. It was abhorrent to see the video, and you're right not only the shots of the dead soldiers but also to watch those interviews taking place and how they were conducted.
There was one POW who was injured. It appeared like some kind of gunshot wound to the abdomen. They forced him to sit up in order to do the interview. Again, I don't know how much you've seen back there but, yes, we did see the whole thing.
And then what was also interesting, Al-Jazeera broadcasting obviously in Arabic. We have a number of Arabic speakers here with us translating with the news anchor set after they came back from showing that tape, making a clarification, just saying well just so you know that's Iraqi television that took those pictures and we just got that tape back. Al-Jazeera did not take those pictures.
BROWN: Yes, well...
KAGAN: I just kind of want to make that clarification and trying to make some kind of difference between Al-Jazeera and Iraqi television. BROWN: The bureau chief for Al-Jazeera on this program last night when asked by a somewhat agitated anchorman, I will tell you, made the same argument and I think the anchorman then said but you ran it. Whoever shot it, you made the decision to run it and there's some controversy, in fairness to Al-Jazeera, others ran it as well.
This thing has widely been seen now around the world and the question for reporters, and Daryn you've been at this for a while, you know how these issues come up. On the one hand, our job is not to make war look pretty, fun, pleasant, or anything else.
We are not in the business of sanitizing and there's no science to this. You just make judgments. But in my humble view, and you looked at the tape, I did too, this was a slam dunk call that they went way beyond the line of what is necessary and appropriate.
KAGAN: I think they did go way beyond the line. You know, we're not able to see what's being shown domestically here. We can only see the international feed. I'm not really completely sure how much we've shown at home. I can see in the CNN computer the graphics that are ordered and I can hear in my ear what you're showing.
I'm not completely sure if the limited amount that we're showing, and perhaps the bosses won't appreciate this criticism but I'm just being honest, I'm just not sure if the limited amount that we're showing can really convey just how disturbing that video was.
KAGAN: And maybe there's a place in between the limited amount we're showing and too much that Al-Jazeera showed that would actually better portray the story of what our men and women face right now, especially the POWs.
BROWN: I think you're exactly right and I think once again you proved you're more measured on this subject than I am. Thank you, Daryn, very much. Daryn Kagan who's in Kuwait helping us out tonight.
What we were talking about last night, what we were talking about POWs and the conditions they were being held in in Iraq, American POWs, it was one of the great ironies I suppose of this, that at the same time American doctors were performing abdominal surgery in the field on an Iraqi prisoner of war and trying to save his life.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is embedded with the Marines, a Marine group known as the Devil Docs, and when he realized the surgery was being performed in the field he did what reporters do. He started covering it and here is the report he has filed.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are here in central Iraq, spending time with the Devil Docs. Just behind me are the FRSS, the forward resuscitative surgical suites. These are operating rooms in the middle of the desert, really remarkable things.
Another remarkable thing that has sort of been emerging here is the number of operations that are done on Iraqis. We came here certainly anxious to see all the capabilities of these operating rooms and an emerging story was certainly that the four operations that we've seen so far have all been done on Iraqis.
I've talked to some of the doctors about this and I got some of their viewpoints and they've been very clear. They've said that their medical triage is the most important thing and supersedes all political triage. Patients who are the sickest, patients who will benefit most from the operations are the patients that get their operations first, and that has been a clear message from all the doctors that I've spoken with.
They've been elaborately briefed on the Geneva Convention and this is in accordance with that and they are very clear on that. The mood about this, though, is something a little different.
Certainly, the first operation that we witnessed here came on the heels quite literally of many of the Marines here hearing about four soldiers who were killed. One of the doctors made a very poignant remark to me that I'd like to share with you which was we are operating on those guys while they're killing our own, a very poignant remark.
I think it summed it up in some ways some of the sentiment of some of the doctors and some of the other Marines out here. But again, it hasn't changed the way that they approach any of these sick patients, any of these patients who need operations.
Overall, we've seen four operations here. The number of cases really seems to come in spurts. I think most of the doctors that we've spoken with think they're a little bit busier than they expected to be, and certainly operating on more Iraqis than they expected to be, but it really comes in spurts. We're just going to have to wait and see how it all plays out.
As we speak, there's an operating room behind me. That operating room was just in use. There are eight more Marines expected in here. We don't know the status of those Marine or whether or not they'll even need operations, but it has been quite busy here in central Iraq with the FRSS -- back to you.
BROWN: That would be me in this case. General, is there policy on this? Are the docs pretty much left to make their own judgment on who gets the help first or is there somewhere written enemy or friendlies?
CLARK: You take care of whoever needs it the most and the docs are doing what our policy requires. If a wounded soldier is brought in, it doesn't matter whether he's one of ours or one of theirs. We're going to take care of him.
BROWN: Well, right, we're going to take care of him. I'll give you that. But, I think the question actually is are we going to take care -- who gets cared for first?
I mean you've got a kid over there, you've got a kid from Toledo, Ohio sitting over there with shrapnel in his arm and you've got a kid from Basra, Iraq with shrapnel in his arm and they're both screaming and hurting. Is the doc supposed to say well actually the Iraqi looks like he's in worse shape, I'll take him?
CLARK: Probably is. Probably is. If it's -- obviously if they're both the same you're going to take your own first.
BROWN: That's just a -- that's a, excuse the expression, a hell of a call to have to make for a doc.
CLARK: And, I guess there's time when you might say you just didn't have enough medical supplies or time or whatever, I mean.
BROWN: Yes, it's just a hard call to have to make. I'm not judging the call. I'm just saying it's a really tough call to ask someone to make in that sort of situation and that's why they're out there and that's why their trained and God bless them for that.
CLARK: Well, you know, in World War II we had doctors who would stay behind. They'd stay behind in an aid station that was overrun by Germans. They were operating on Germans and Americans in the aid station. The Germans came in and looked at them and they just kept right on operating.
BROWN: It's amazing stuff. It's amazing stuff. We'll take a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.
BROWN: U.S. military destroyed an Apache helicopter that was shot down or was in some way disabled at least in Iraq in an incident where two young Americans were taken prisoner of war, Ronald Young, Jr., Salem, Oregon his home town, and David Williams who comes from the state of Florida.
We have seen pictures of them and their families have been formally notified. In fact earlier tonight we talked. This is the condition that the helicopter was in when it came down, so general, it obviously wasn't blown out of the sky. It suggests perhaps some sort of mechanical problem to you?
CLARK: It could have been hit. You can't tell from here.
CLARK: It could have taken a round from the other side, knocked out a hydraulic or something.
BROWN: Actually, if you just look right in the center of that shot, you can see the state, the Iraqi state TV correspondent urging on the cheering while he's reporting the story, just an observation to make.
In any case, the Army does not leave its intact helicopters sitting on the ground, so they came in and blew it up. We know this unit because when we were in Kuwait we spent some time out with them and talked a good deal about what their mission was and what their concerns were and here is some of what they told us.
BROWN: Once you aim it, you don't have to do anything else?
COL. WILLIAM WOLF, U.S. ARMY, 11TH AVIATION REGIMENT: Well, it's aimed actually by the radar itself.
WOLF: The radar finds a target out to its limits. You can do that. You can transfer that target over to another aircraft or you can fire it yourself but that becomes your -- if it's prioritized it's your next target, you pull the trigger. That missile is gone. You move on and it will destroy that target that was out there.
BROWN (voice-over): A month ago when war with Iraq was still theoretical, Colonel Bill Wolf was a commander anxious to show what his Apache helicopters could do in battle.
(on camera): How long does it take to arm it?
WOLF: The arming of the system with a good armament team could probably arm, and that's one of the upgrades we have on the Longbow, arm the 30mm rockets and the Hellfire system in minutes.
BROWN (voice-over): Yesterday, around the Iraqi city of Karbala, 60 miles or so south of Baghdad, Colonel Wolf's pilots and gunners from the Army's 11th Aviation Regiment took part in the biggest helicopter battle so far of this still very young war.
MAJ. GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, U.S. ARMY, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: The Apache, we have been working for a number of years now in terms of our doctrine and capability to be able to reach deep at enemy formations.
BROWN: A reporter embedded with the regiment said these Apache Longbows heavily damaged four or five Iraqi tanks as well as several light vehicles, but that they were driven away, he said, by a barrage of fire coming from the streets and rooftops and backyards of the city. Still, the Pentagon terms this a victory.
MCCHRYSTAL: By all reports it was very successful.
BROWN: Iraqi television replayed these pictures of a downed Apache Longbow not far from Karbala over and over again. Abu Dhabi television later broadcast these pictures of the crewmen that had been captured. But in a way that now seems eerie, Colonel Wolf told us how much incoming fire his helicopters could take.
WOLF: This aircraft can take punishment. You've heard all the stories of the alpha models in Afghanistan, the Apaches that, you know, the entire front cockpit and front assembly was blown away by an RPG. The pilot survived. The aircraft survived. The transmission took a round from the RPG, totally bled out all the oil. The aircraft made it back. CAPT. SCOTT THOMPSON, U.S. ARMY: We've flown over 2,000 hours since we arrived, which is just about double what we normally fly.
BROWN: During our stay with the 11th Aviation, we also met Captain Scott Thompson. Captain Thompson is a veteran of the first Gulf War. There is no way to know at this point whether he was engaged in yesterday's battle. But on the tarmac in the Kuwaiti desert a month ago, he too was confident about the outcome.
THOMPSON: Today there is absolute confidence within everyone in my task force that if we have to go do this for real, we're going to win and we're going to win quickly. Because we have been here in Kuwait, we've established ourselves here. We've been here for 12 years now watching him across the border. I seriously doubt whether we're wrong about his capabilities.
BROWN: No one in the Pentagon or the administration seriously doubts the United States will prevail now that the fighting is underway, but the commander of the 11th Aviation, Bill Wolf, knew something then that he is no doubt reminding himself of now.
WOLF: We're not invulnerable. You know, it's what we can't see or we don't plan on that can hurt us.
BROWN: That was a month ago and those guys were up in the sky. Let's talk a bit about we actually got a very good look at what those Apaches are, the two versions of them, an updated version, the Longbow, and then an older version which has been around for awhile, right?
CLARK: Right, sort of mid-1980s for the first one.
BROWN: And there in the battle plan there, it's dicey work that these two crewmen do. In the front seat is the weapons guy, right?
CLARK: That's right.
BROWN: So, he sits up front and then in the back is the pilot, though either could fly it?
CLARK: That's right.
BROWN: The Longbow is different from the older version how?
CLARK: The Longbow's got this, it's got this incredible radar on top. It's a millimeter wave radar. It's got very fine discrimination. It actually picks out targets. It classifies targets. You could program it.
It can send target information and it sends the target information directly into the missile guidance system and you can lock on and you can ripple fire at different targets, any of these Hellfire missiles. It's very sophisticated and very effective. It's designed to minimize the exposure of a helicopter when it rises up and the pilot scanning through his optics to acquire the targets. What the millimeter wave radar does is it means that he gets the picture very quickly and it feeds right into the missiles and he can shoot very quickly, whereas in hovering there and remaining vulnerable.
BROWN: And the reason they use these rather than just sending in jets to 20,000 feet or whatever is what?
CLARK: First of all they've got an enormous killing mass with me. Send in 30 helicopters with ten to 16 Hellfire missiles and you figure those missiles, if they're fired, they will strike what they're aimed at with a 99 percent reliability.
You can take out a huge force if you catch it in the right posture, and it is risk, and it is boldness to go in there and do that, and it should go in there accompanied with high performance aircraft and artillery and rocket fire and other suppression. So, it should be part of a team.
BROWN: I remember asking Scott Thompson what his biggest -- we were flying around and I asked him what his biggest concern was in this sort of thing and he did not say the enemy or ground fire. He said his biggest concern was that there might be a friendly fire incident.
I came away from the time there feeling that these young men were very confident that the army that they were facing was not nearly as good as the army that they thought they thought they were facing 12 years ago. Do you think in any way, shape, or form, his bosses, the generals, the war planners have underestimated the capacity of the Iraqi army and the willingness of the Iraqi army to fight?
CLARK: You know it's really hard to make that kind of a call for me, Aaron, because I'm not there. I'm not talking to those war planners. What I have heard consistently that they have said is you've got to respect the enemy. We don't take anything for granted. This is not going to be a "cake walk" and so forth.
Now, what you get from the lower level commanders and the troops is the confidence that you would expect, but I haven't heard bombastic statements from the people at the top. What I've heard instead is we need more troops. We need to be ready for this thing. We really need to do our work. We really need to be very serious and methodical and thoughtful about this.
BROWN: Do you -- just a final question on this. The conversation is kind of moot here but sometimes it's hard for me to know when I hear them say this might take a long time or anything, are they just trying to prepare the American public for a possibility of something or is that what they really believe?
BROWN: When you hear it, which do you hear or both? CLARK: Well, what I'm hearing right now is from the administration I'm hearing some maybe our assumptions weren't quite right. We haven't been welcomed as liberators yet. We haven't quite gotten rid of Saddam Hussein yet.
We want to safe side American public opinion by not appearing -- you know we want to be conservative about our estimates now. We weren't that conservative before but maybe it will work out for us and we'll look even better if there's a breakthrough.
But that's not what I'm hearing from the troops. What I'm hearing from the troops is this is going to be very difficult. Of course, no one knew whether the Iraqis would fight and how many would surrender. It was a great unknown in this.
CLARK: And that's still the unknown and they could break tomorrow. Chances are they won't.
BROWN: Right. Well, we can hope they'll all go home.
BROWN: One of the, I guess, most sensitive questions about this war obviously surrounds the question of oil. The administration, the military obviously sensitive to this and trying to fight the idea that the United States is after the Iraqi oil. They say that when this thing is over the Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqi people and only to the Iraqi people. It is a point the president has made countless times over the months.
Richard Blystone of our staff has taken a look at some of the efforts to protect those Iraqi oil wells in southern Iraq.
RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the struggle goes on to make this oil field safe, a bigger, longer, and more costly campaign is already underway to make it a fountain of prosperity for a new and friendly Iraq.
This is Rumaylah, the huge fields that until weeks ago supplied half of Iraq's petroleum. Eight of its 1,000 wells are ablaze, torched by Iraqis the coalition says, and it urgently wants the world to see this, what it's going to hand this treasure back to the Iraqi people intact and improved.
Less dramatic pictures but top priority is securing facilities like this gas/oil separation plant to contain the danger and curb oil pollution. A U.S. Marine died in the fight to take one of these.
The holocaust that retreating Iraqis (unintelligible) in Kuwait 12 years ago taught firefighters a lot. One of them who has been close enough to this one to see the sand turn to glass is Brian Krause. BRIAN KRAUSE, PRES., BOOTS AND COOTS: What I've seen so far is just identical to '91 as far as where the detonators were set, where the explosives were set, how they were set, how they were wired and how they were done.
BLYSTONE: So far, explosives experts have found no mines or booby traps.
LT. COMM. VINCE MARTINEZ, USNEOD TEAM: The nice thing about the oil well burning is that if there's any explosives around the heat is so intense there that most likely there's nothing there.
BLYSTONE: It will take vast amounts of water one of the scarcest commodities around here to put out the fires, but that will look small next to the task that follows. Iraq's oil fields have been ravaged by a generation of war and neglect, starved by international sanctions.
Experts estimate it will take $10 billion to put them into shape and that's for starters, but the prize is enormous, not only for Iraq but for outside contractors and oil consumers.
Iraq has drilled only ten percent of its known fields. Its oil is abundant, high quality, and cheap to extract. Its reserves might equal or surpass Saudi Arabia's. Imagine a democratic, grateful, and secular Iraq challenging the dominance of the Saudis whose relations with the west have cooled since 9/11.
(on camera): It took more than seven months to put out Kuwait's oil fires. With any luck, these will be gone in less than one month.
(voice-over): Then, this terrible beauty will die and in its place could slowly arise a new oil order.
Richard Blystone CNN, Rumaylah oil fields, southern Iraq.
BROWN: Coming up in the hour ahead we'll look at how the British are reacting because of the serious losses that they've had over -- certainly the sad losses they've already experienced.
We'll also take a look at how the world is seeing the coverage of the war. We'll take you aboard a mine clearing ship and much more, first a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.
KAGAN: I'm Daryn Kagan live in Kuwait City on Tuesday morning. Let's go ahead and check what we know this hour.
The U.S. has sent a Marine general into northern Iraq to open a second front in this war, and U.S. Air Force officials today that Iraq has not flown a single sortie since the war started, despite having more than 300 fighter jets.
In the South, U.S. forces have run up against a wall of stiff resistance between 50 and 60 miles outside of Baghdad. This chopper went down in a harrowing three-hour fire fight between Apache Attack helicopters and the Republican Guard Medina Division. U.S. forces later blew up the helicopter with a guided missile, keeping the technology out of Iraqi hands.
The two pilots, however, are in Iraqi hands. Chief Warrant Officers Ronald D. Young, Jr., and David S. Williams were shown on Iraqi television.
Also shown on Iraqi TV, five Americans from the Army 507th Maintenance Company. They are Shoshana Johnson, Patrick Miller, Joseph Hudson, Edgar Hernandez, and James Riley.
Kuwaiti firefighters report finding signs of sabotage at some of the blazing oil wells in southern Iraq. The minimal effect, however, reportedly suggested that some Iraqis did not fully comply with orders to destroy those wells.
A Chicago Islamic leader is asking police to warn the public about hate crimes. Police are investigating several incidents, including the detonation of fireworks in a Palestinian family fan that appears to have been targeted at Muslims.
Now back to more comprehensive coverage of the war in Iraq, and, for that, we turn to Aaron Brown.
BROWN: Daryn, thank you very much.
We spent a fair amount of our time looking at American opinion for obvious reasons, but we are also curious about the opinions of those around the world and particularly the British right now, with British forces fighting and some of them dying alongside American forces. Add to that the anti-war sentiment that was especially strong in Britain before the war.
So, as we're sitting around in our media today, we were wondering has that changed, and the answer seems to be yes, to a degree.
Reporting for us, CNN's Robin Oakley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order. Order.
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR (voice-over): A few days before, more than 200 of the 650 lawmakers in the U.K. House of Commons had voted against a war with Iraq.
But it was an altogether different mood as Prime Minister Tony Blair paid tribute to the first of the war dead.
TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: They gave their lives for our safety. They had the courage to take the ultimate risk in the service of their country and of those who value freedom everywhere in the world. We owe them an immense debt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know what started it.
OAKLEY: A war being seen in real-time TV is feeding patriotic instincts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 6:00, these are tonight's top stories.
British troops surround Iraq's second city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The battle for Basra. Desert rats go in.
OAKLEY: With British troops in action, the media support is growing. Pride in our boys and sometimes the media's own boys and girls takes over from the politics.
There are some media holdouts. And hundreds of thousands again took to the streets last weekend to protest against what many Britons still see as George Bush's overhasty war.
But there were fewer demonstrators than last month, and opinion pollsters are charting a steady change. In the weeks before the war, the vast majority of people here opposed invading Iraq.
On March the 18th, the day before the war began, the YouGov poll measured support for the war at 50 percent, those against at 42 percent. Two days later, the split was 53 to 39 in favor. On Sunday, it was 56 to 37 percent.
The trend is underlined by street reaction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm especially going to support the troops that are out there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to get rid of these kind of people. They are dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's very difficult now to be against it. I mean it seems it's unpatriotic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I reckon that Saddam should go but not this way, not war.
OAKLEY: It's starting to swing Tony Blair's way, but his tone remains cautious, and to MPs he's careful to stress his desire to help the Iraqi people.
(voice-over): It's not that Britain's prime minister has any doubts that he is right to fight, but he knows that public opinion remains fragile. Another friendly fire incident or a spate of British casualties and things could turn the wrong way again.
And so, until Saddam is out, there'll be no hint of triumphalism.
Robin Oakley, CNN, London.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: And the British prime minister, Mr. Tony Blair, will meet with reporters. At least that's the way it sounds to us. A press briefing -- we assume that means he'll take questions -- excuse me -- 7:00 Eastern Time, 4:00 for you out on the West Coast. The British prime minister. So Paula and Bill Hemmer and that morning group will have that when Mr. Blair takes question.
We noted, in the piece, the British press is a very vibrant press, particularly the London press, the newspapers in London, and so that may be a very interesting session to watch, 7:00 Eastern Time.
We began this long time now, three hours ago, by talking about a battle of some size and dimension. We weren't precisely sure because our correspondent at the time, Alessio Vinci, was working with the Marine unit, could only talk to us for about 20 or 30 seconds.
Art Harris, another one of our embedded correspondents, has managed to get to a telephone. I believe it's a telephone. There we go. And Art is in the area also.
Art, we have been waiting to find out what's going on. What can you tell us?
ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I came across two bridges this morning in An Nasiriyah with the Marines who were here to resupply and provide reinforcements and screening for other Marines in the area.
There has been constant fire since we've gotten here, 50-cal machine guns. We've heard mortars and artillery coming in, possibly enemy positions all around.
It's hard to tell from where I am. I can't exactly nor don't want to under the rules of engagement pinpoint the precise spot, and -- but you just don't know where the fire is coming from.
When we drove through the main road, the street is lined with Marines lying flat, M16s at the ready, tanks at every block, and machine gunfire was intermittent, tanks knocked off a couple of rounds, as we drove by down the street, at possible targets. So the fighting was evident.
We also have seen along the way the burned-out vehicles that have been discussed from the casualties here -- as you know, this is a lot of fighting and a lot of dying -- and actually saw the APV (ph) that was shot out, the Marine carrier, as well as three other vehicles.
I am told -- this is unconfirmed -- but that one American vehicle was taken out possibly by friendly fire by an A10. Now that is unconfirmed. That comes from one of the Marines here who also ran the gauntlet.
Back to you.
BROWN: This enemy fire they're getting -- are they getting it from organized groups? Are they getting it from houses and buildings where civilians also may be living? Do you have a sense of what it is that they are, in fact, encountering?
HARRIS: Aaron, it seems to be a pattern that is developing that it is very difficult to tell friend from foe. I was with a unit yesterday and saw them bury two Iraqi soldiers in uniform after a firefight.
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) here, I am told, are wearing robes -- traditional robes, and they -- they know that they will not be harmed if they don't have a weapon or are not seen raising a weapon. Marines are telling me so.
They then vanish into the fields, into the homes and, they believe, come back with rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s, and use those against the Marines.
So it's somewhat unconventional tactics that, you know, reminds you of what was possibly used in Vietnam -- Aaron.
BROWN: What is the mood then of the Marines? Are they getting -- we talked with Jason Bellini who's in a different part of southern Iraq, and the Marines he was with, he indicated to us, were growing quite frustrated at not being allowed essentially just to -- this is my term, not his, honestly -- just blow the thing up and move on.
HARRIS: I -- you know, Aaron, I think there is certainly some of that. You know, their feeling is that they are civilians who are being used as human shields, a dilemma about what to do.
But if a Marine's life is at stake and that -- those are the rules that the Iraqis are playing by, they feel comfortable, though somewhat queasy, about following their rules of engagement, which is to take out the -- their enemy. I know we're not supposed to use that word, but that's how they see it.
And I think their feeling is that the Iraqis are using unconventional, very dedicated, loyal Saddam military or Fedayeen and that they are here to slow the Marines down, to make this a longer war, and possibly drag it out to the point that, you know, the Marines and possibly the American public lose stomach for it.
And I think it's too early to tell, certainly, to judge, you know, victory or defeat. By far, there is no doubt that U.S. forces are vastly superior, and they believe they will prevail. The question is when.
And there are these pockets of resistance that they're here in An Nasiriyah trying to clean out, and I have to tell you looking out, you know, it is wall-to-wall Marines, tanks, heavy equipment coming in, M1A1s, Cobra gunships overhead, and you hear -- have heard gunfire and mortars and heavy artillery for the last three hours, Aaron.
Back to you.
BROWN: Art, thank you very much.
Art Harris. Actually, Art, if you want to stay on the line for a bit, I just want to draw General Clark into this.
We've talked about this to some degree over the last few days. It is not necessarily a winning strategy unless you believe, General, that ultimately the American public will grow weary of this, and we're not even a week into it.
But it does now seem to be the emerging strategy of the Iraqis, and it may not be fair game, and -- but, in a sense, maybe they felt it was the only strategy they had. They can't win, they may as well do some damage.
CLARK: Well, this is part of using the depth of Iraq to fight against the American advance, and so -- let the tanks go past, attack the trucks.
The Marines have light armor vehicles -- they're softer than a tank -- hit the light armor vehicles and continue to attack, fall back, attack, fall back, attack, fall back, and you draw a combat force. You complicate resupply. It's one more problem, one more friction, one more difficulty, as the Americans...
Right now, the Americans are trying to set the force to go after Baghdad, and they're having trouble getting the force set because of this fight at an Nasiriyah.
BROWN: And by set the force, you mean everybody up into the position you want them to be in so that you can take the next step, but you need to get -- this is a question -- this -- you need to get everything up to one -- to staging areas, if that's the right term, and what the Iraqis are doing is delaying that by holding these units with this -- these -- these little battles, if you will, in places like where Art is.
Right, Art? I mean that's how it's -- I'm sorry. We lost Art.
But that's how it -- that's what it seems like they've been doing now for several days. Is that a command decision? Did someone in Baghdad sit down and say, "That's the best we got. Let's try and do it this way."
CLARK: That's right. Well, it -- this is basic doctrine. This is -- it's applied in an unconventional way, but, when you establish a defense, you start with a security zone out front. Its mission is to locate the enemy, deceive them as to the location of the main battle area, inflict casualties, and delay and impede their advance. But you don't expect to win the battle there.
Then you have your main defensive area, and you have a second -- secondary defense area behind it, and so we haven't hit the main defense yet.
BROWN: And so this -- now keep your Iraqi strategist hat on. While this delaying tactic is going on and -- what are you doing with your units in your main defense line? What are you trying to do with them?
CLARK: Well, I'd be building as many decoys as I could.
BROWN: And decoys would be like what?
CLARK: Decoys that draw off shells, things that look like tanks but aren't tanks. I'd be preparing fighting positions inside basements and homes. I'd be simulating normal life in these cities and then have it where you can, you know, drive the tank out from underneath fire and pull back in, because what can be seen can be hit, what can be hit will be destroyed.
We're going to be looking down from above to see it and strike it. So they've got to be very worried about camouflaging their division, burying their communication lines so they're not using radios that we can direction-finding on, and stockpiling enough logistics so they can be somewhat isolated in their positions and still hold on and resist.
BROWN: And that's what we will likely -- or -- I think likely see unfold over the next several days. We'll see in what degree it does.
We'll take a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.
BROWN: Our regular NEWSNIGHT viewers know that we have this fascination with watching how stories are reported in other places. It's like traveling without all of the annoyances of traveling, and it gives you a sense of how differently people can often see the same story depending on who is telling it. We call it their TV news.
In a moment, we'll talk about how the world is seeing this war from several different places, but, first, a survey of how it looks from CNN's Bruce Burkhardt.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this daily newscast from Russia's RTR TV, the Iraq war was the second story in its lineup. The newscast led with the referendum in Chechnya. But, in the war coverage, shots of the downed Apache helicopter and some of the celebrations around it.
The reporter in this story talks about the recent video of Saddam Hussein and the speculation that it might not be him. There's also a comment from President Putin voicing his concerns over the treatment of the U.S. POWs.
On the Abu Dhabi network based in Dubai and a competitor of Al Jazeera, there was this story. A woman in a bombed-out civilian neighborhood in Baghdad crying out for help from the Arab world.
Also on Abu Dhabi, a story from Turkey showing Turks cheering as U.S. forces leave their country to be deployed elsewhere.
But other stories, too. Like this one from an embedded reporter on the USS Kitty Hawk showing life aboard ship, right down to a review of the on-board food.
And here, they're promoting a live interview with Colin Powell, inviting its Arab audience to e-mail in questions.
You're not likely to see Colin Powell as a guest here, the state- owned Iraqi TV. There might be a music video in praise of Saddam Hussein or a statement from the minister information boasting that many volunteers are joining up to fight with Iraqis. A lot of different ways of looking at this war.
Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Atlanta.
BROWN: Joining us now to talk about how the world is viewing the war, some journalists from papers from overseas -- Bret Stephens from "The Jerusalem Post" in London, Baria Alamuddin of the Arab-language paper, "Al-Hayat," and Sylvie Kauffman of "Le Monde" in Paris.
Welcome to you all.
Bret, just because we introduced you first, may as well start with you first. I assume that your readers in Israel have enormous interest in the story. How is it being played? Are you essentially taking the American coverage of the story on TV?
BRET STEPHENS, "JERUSALEM POST": Well, we have our own reporters in the region. I have an embedded reporter with the 3rd Infantry.
In terms of how the overall Israeli media is playing it, I think it broadly reflects what -- the way it's being played on CNN, the BBC, other news outfits, but, of course, we have one special angle that interests all of us, which is the question of the seizure of weapons of mass destruction and particularly the -- hopefully the seizure of Scud missiles or anything that can attack us here in Israel.
BROWN: Is there -- are Israelis, to your knowledge, spending a lot of time sitting around and watching the war on television in the way that many Americans seem to be?
STEPHENS: Yes, I think -- I sometimes get the sense that that's -- that's all they do. Certainly, that's all I've been doing for the past few days.
At the same time, the level of alert has gone down somewhat. You know, for a while, a lot of Israelis were walking around with gas masks. I see less of that now. I think there is a sense that the level of the threat has diminished somewhat.
BROWN: And, Baria, you're writing for an Arab-language audience, and I'm dying to know, I think, how differently -- I assume you're seeing coverage from the BBC, you're seeing CNN coverage, you're seeing Al Jazeera coverage, Abu Dhabi coverage, all of it. Is it dramatically different?
BARIA ALAMUDDIN, "AL-HAYAT": Well, I wouldn't say dramatically. The events on the ground are being, I think, reported in the same way in all networks, and what I mean by that is the actual operational news.
I think you will find the difference and the nuance in the way it's reported, and you will see that differently in the different countries in the Arab world to reflect Arab sentiment.
For example, what you see for -- published in Syria would be slightly different what you see published in Kuwait or you see published in Qatar or you see published in Tunisia. There is this slight difference in -- on emphasis on the news and the headlines and the type of pictures that you see.
However, what's interesting in the scene in the Arab media, I believe, is the number of networks covering the news. We have a new television channel called Al Aribiya, which was just launched before the war started. We have some networks that were not on 24-hour basis news, and now they are 24 hours like Al-Shabiyah (ph) Al-Hayat network, and they have all their own reporters on the ground.
So they don't as much depend on foreign media as they used to do before. So, hence, the reporting is much closer to home, much closer to the heart of the people.
BROWN: Just while you were talking and just to give our viewers a flavor of this, we've put up Lebanese TV, Abu Dhabi TV, one other to give a sense of what's going out over across the Arab world.
Sylvie, because of how this -- the diplomatic side of this played out and how the French position was seen, how is the French press playing this story? And, again, I would ask are the French sitting around and watching this on TV like the Americans and the British and perhaps a lot of others are.
SYLVIE KAUFFMAN, "LE MONDE": Well, yes. The war is really on everybody's mind here, even though the French are very, very strongly against it, and there have been demonstrations almost daily here around the country.
But the TV coverage of the war is really huge. Last night, evening news, for instance, had about 90 percent of the whole hour dedicated to the war, and it takes most of our newspapers, too.
So it's really on everybody's mind, and people are closely following it.
BROWN: I don't know if there has been polling or how much polling honestly the paper does, but do you sense that since the war began there has been any change one way or another in French public opinion about the war itself?
KAUFFMAN: No, I don't think so. I think the French are in an expectant mood at the moment. There is surprise -- you know, there was surprise yesterday that the war is not going as easily as we were led to believe, and, you know, people -- that the U.S. and British troops are not met with the welcoming arms and the surrendering soldiers only.
So there is -- there is really a feeling of surprise that they are meeting so much resistance, and -- and there was shock, of course, as well during the weekend when those pictures of the American prisoners of war were shown, you know, wounded soldiers.
This -- whatever your feelings are about this war, I think people here are human, and -- and your heart goes out to the families of these soldiers. So -- now when people are seeing body parts of wounded Iraqi civilians, they have the same feelings.
I think the reality of war really struck over the past couple of days, and people are just shocked and surprised and expecting to see what next.
BROWN: One more question, Sylvie, to you, and then I want to come back to the others. Is the French press playing it pretty -- playing it pretty straight, or is there an anti-war tint to the coverage at all?
KAUFFMAN: You know, I think, at the moment, the coverage is pretty -- is pretty fair. We do have -- all of us have -- most of us have embedded reporters with the U.S. Army, too, and I think we are -- we're really covering it, you know, as it is and trying to make sense of how things are going and what will happen next. No, I don't -- I don't see any obvious or particular bias at the moment.
BROWN: Baria, would the discovery of chemical weapons or the use of chemical weapons change, do you think, how this war is seen in the world that you're reporting to?
ALAMUDDIN: Yes, I'm sure it would. I'm sure most people do not believe that Saddam Hussein has these chemical and biological weapons, and, so far, Saddam Hussein seems to be coming as true to himself in the sense that whatever we are reporting is what is happening.
This is amazing how the Iraqis are using the media this time. They're using it greatly to their advantage so far.
And one thing I want to say about the reporting from the Arab world -- we are particularly probably in an advantageous position, speaking the language, knowing the culture, so these reporters, you know, in the cities in Baghdad, in Basra, in Mosul, are in close touch with the people.
So I would imagine that the reporting we get from that part is a bit slightly more in depth than the others, specifically because of the culture and the language.
However, something else must be added, I think, to this, is the Internet, you know, depth to this. We are not used to having the Internet play such an important role. We -- the war is covered very, very well on Internet Web sites in the Arab world, and a lot of it is going there. I mean, you know, people are exchanging ideas, jokes, et cetera...
ALAMUDDIN: ... but the feeling -- generally feeling in the Arab media is that of anger, is that of frustration. The war is not look so far as a war of liberation, quite the contrary. It's looked upon as a war of invasion.
However, you know, I think the accentuation of the invasion and the liberation differs between one country to another.
ALAMUDDIN: And don't forget a lot of the media in the Arab world is owned by the state. Nevertheless, a lot of it is very, very free and also is giving...
BROWN: Let me...
ALAMUDDIN: Yes. Sorry.
BROWN: I'm sorry. I'm just -- I'm getting close on time. I want to get to Bret, too, but I want to ask you one more thing. You said that the Iraqis have used media very well. Can you just give me a very brief sense of how -- what in particular you meant by that?
ALAMUDDIN: Yes. You see before the last Gulf War, it was for -- the war was whatever CNN said. It was CNN that led the war last time in the Arab world. Everybody was tuning to CNN.
Now this war -- because of all the Arab media, I think the Iraqis are using particularly the Arab media to get their message across, plus other media. Unfortunately, CNN had to leave Baghdad.
But what I meant particularly is that they are giving many, many briefings to exactly send a message across of what they want.
You know, seeing Saddam Hussein yesterday, seeing Taha Yassin Ramadan, seeing Tariq Aziz -- all these people were presumed dead a few days ago in the States or fatally wounded or whatever. So you -- they're using that.
Also, what they're doing -- they're using their own people. They're using their own cameras, their own reporters. They're also giving much more, I think, briefings also. They're not lying as much. The propaganda is not -- is not proving so far to be a lot of lies as it was sometime ago.
They're being more factual, more realistic. I think this is a way to get their message across, say, you see, we told you we downed a plane, here is the plane...
ALAMUDDIN: ... here are the pilots, let's talk to them. So the... BROWN: That's an -- that's an interesting...
ALAMUDDIN: There seems to be...
BROWN: So they're -- they're not -- they're playing it a little straighter, and, therefore, they are a little more credible. Let me -- let me move up the line there to Bret.
In some ways, I think you're in the most interesting position in this conversation in that the Israeli position was absolutely clear, and the Israeli concerns are absolutely clear.
As you hear how the others are playing this and how the others are reacting to it, what's running through your mind?
ALAMUDDIN: Well, I think that -- I mean, all of us, I think, have benefited from embedding. I do think that it has offered perhaps too mac -- excuse me-- too micro a picture.
The fact is that, by many standards, the war is going very well from an American perspective, and I think that that is -- that has been lost in some of the coverage. But I -- you know, basically, I think the coverage on all sides has been very thorough and, you know, it's given us the kind of complete picture that we lacked during the first Gulf War.
BROWN: It certainly has. I couldn't agree more. I think maybe it's the one thing -- well, I don't think it's the one thing. I think it's one of the things we all agree on.
Good of you all to spend some time with us. We enjoy these sorts of discussions. We try and do one every night, and we hope you'll come back again.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
We tend to get caught up in the moment when we get the latest news and the phone calls. This is a great example -- as we try and get to Christiane -- from our embedded reporters. And one of the things we don't want to lose sight of is where they've already been. For many, it's been a remarkable journey, not to the reporters alone of course, but for the soldiers and Marines that they are traveling with -- American, British, Polish, Australian and others.
Here is a look at the journey of Ryan Chilcote, who is traveling with the 101st Airborne, 3rd Brigade. It all started out in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and it is tonight in southern Iraq.
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was pretty much a no- brainer. I embedded with the 101st last year in Afghanistan for a couple of months, and I wanted to do it again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It goes back another 15 meters!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down a corridor!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It goes down to another door! I can see light!
CHILCOTE: And I really actually kind of fell in love with the whole concept of air assault, i.e., moving troops to the battlefield on helicopters. And I thought if they're going to do that again in Iraq that's something that I want to witness.
Ship out overseas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with everything you're going to have to deploy at this location. You got it?
CHILCOTE: Well, the funny thing is I actually started in Kuwait when I learned that the 101st Airborne was going to get its deployment orders, and I asked and thankfully was allowed to return to the States to Fort Campbell, so that I could link up with the unit there and travel back over here.
Where's your camera?
It's kind of funny. I went to Kuwait to go to Fort Campbell to come right back to Kuwait.
A lot of soldiers are still lining up at the AT&T calling center to phone home.
It was a trip from hell, 48 hours. When we got here to Kuwait, the whole process very, very time consuming.
They now feel like they're in the calm before the storm. There's a real feeling here among the soldiers that they are about to become part of something much larger than themselves, and that they're going to be all right.
The soldiers that I'm covering are -- you know, they are just that. They are soldiers, and I'm a reporter, and so we still do have a very fundamental difference in the way we look at things and what we're doing here.
This is what's called MOPP 1. It's the first of four stages of readiness for a chemical attack, for a chemical threat.
They're doing a job, you know, obviously performing their country's work, if you will, here in Iraq. I'm doing the job of telling their story, so a lot of times when I write things I try and remember not to say "we," because it's really not we. This is really their story, and I'm simply along on that story taking part in a lot of it, but more importantly, witnessing what they're doing.
Ryan Chilcote, CNN, with the 101st Airborne in the Kuwaiti desert.
Well, this is it. This is the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, today not too demilitarized at all. The U.S. Army, the 101st Airborne moving in. As we came in, we knew that this was the beginning of the DMZ, because there was a big sign. We moved past it too quickly to actually film it, but it said, "Welcome to Iraq, courtesy of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division," written in English.
I think there are two big fears for me. One would be the fear of chemical weapons being used against me. Another would be the fear of, say for example, the helicopter that I'm riding in crashing.
A little tour of -- a little tour of our operation center and universe, if you will, here. Well, this is the center of it prior to putting up this $35 tent today. We were sleeping, if you can see the ground here, on the ground for the last -- well, at least the last four days. And the soldiers, what they do is they dig these things they call "hasties," holes in the ground. That's a little -- that's a little much for us. We don't bother with a hole. We just sleep on the ground. It doesn't really matter; it's still dirty anyway.
And lastly, this is -- you might call this our kitchen. And you know, right now you can see, because it's late, we've been drinking Nescafe, and always, always, always we have nearby a box of MREs. I'll show you some tasty MREs, pull it out of here. This is what we eat.
This is pretty much it. It's our little part of the universe out here in the middle of the desert, and it works for us.
BROWN: And we're going to do a bit of that throughout our time with our embeds as we can and as they have time to help us. And that was put together by David Fitzpatrick (ph) of our staff, along with Ryan and Ryan's crew. These embeds have had a remarkable experience. I'm sorry, David -- I'm sorry, Ted Winner (ph) did the piece. We try and give the credit where it is due.
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