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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Another Round of Nighttime Bombing in Baghdad; Coalition Forces Fight Their Way Across the Desert

Aired March 27, 2003 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Another round of nighttime bombing in Baghdad as coalition forces fight their way across the desert, one tank at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At times I would reach in, get my cross out, say a few prayers and hang on and keep on going.

ANNOUNCER: Jumping into Iraq by night. Digging in by day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really strange that we're actually here. It doesn't seem like we're in Iraq.

ANNOUNCER: And getting ready to face Saddam Hussein's most loyal fighters.

TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Let me restate our complete and total resolve. Saddam Hussein and his hateful regime will be removed from power And the Iraqi people will be free.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: However long it takes. That's the answer to your question.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Baghdad, Washington, Kuwait, Texas, northern Iraq and cities around the globe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: "War In Iraq" LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Some of the loudest explosions of the war have shaken Baghdad tonight. That blast just about four hours ago, a cloud of smoke and dust over the city, spreading across the capital of Iraq's sky line. And then within the past 20 minutes observers report yet another round of explosions.

It was a couple of hours ago that Abu Dhabi TV showed pictures of some of the damage caused by the coalition bombing campaign. It is now just past 3:00 in the morning in Baghdad. I'm Aaron Brown at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We've been at this for a little more than a week now.

Tonight, as always, we'll show you where the day has been and along with my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, take a look at where things seem to be headed. Wolf, good evening.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, to you, as well, Aaron. Reports indicate a number of locations were hit in Baghdad tonight and that's, of course, our top story.

Tonight's target seemed to be on both sides of the Tigris River. Some of the explosions appeared to be close to Iraq's Ministry of Information. CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has spent a great deal of time in Baghdad. He's joining us now live from near the Jordanian-Iraqi border.

Nic, these explosions tonight are continuing. They are very intense. What's the significance of what's going on from your vantage point?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From what we understand of the buildings targeted this evening, one of the them the International Communications Center, a communications facility within the heart of Baghdad, just across the Tigris River on the northern bank, just on the other end of a bridge from where the Ministry of Information stands.

Interestingly this particular building targeted on the first night of coalition bombing during the 1991 Gulf War. At that time one cruise missile fired through the seventh floor of that building. Tonight it seems, huge smoke and a ball of flame erupting at the base of that building. It was about ten stories high. It has, like, a satellite dish on the roof and some communication facilities.

However, we don't know exactly what has been hit in that building. We do know that as in the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq does have other communication facilities around Baghdad. At that time in 1991 one of the other communication facilities was targeted several days into the war. And it took the targeting of both those sites to take out Iraq's telephone system. So it's not clear at this time exactly what damage has been done to Iraq's communications infrastructure.

Also targeting close to the Ministry of Information, and I heard from a source in Baghdad today, that a facility very close to the Information Ministry just right behind it where I've known before Iraq to have its satellite transmission, for Iraq's satellite television service. this source saying that quite a small missile strike.

This is an area very close to civilian buildings, possibly the coalition forces using smaller munitions because the target is smaller and not wanting to damage the civilian areas. But very difficult to get a broader assessment so far tonight, Wolf, than what we've seen so far.

There also appeared to be some large explosions northwards up the Tigris River where we know there were several large military camps. And again targeting in one of the presidential compounds targeted several days ago. That compound on the banks of the Tigris River several miles long, about a mile and a half across. Many, many buildings in there. It appears the coalitions are going back to some of the targets already bombed there -- Wolf. BLITZER: And right now, we're hearing anti-aircraft fire. Apparently Iraqi anti-aircraft fire going into the skies. They're shooting, they're trying to find something. Apparently, they must have some indication that more U.S. warplanes might be on the way. Maybe they're just shooting randomly into the skies hoping to get lucky and shoot down a U.S. warplane.

Although as you know, Nic, in those early days of the bombing campaign, the U.S. is taking no chances. They know that the Iraqis have good air defense systems, radar equipment surrounding the Iraqi capital. As a result they fly those Stealth fighters, those Stealth bombers. And they use those Tomahawk Cruise Missiles that can invade any of that anti-aircraft fire.

That presidential palace, that al Salam palace, hit a few days ago. Hit again tonight, Nic. As you say it's a huge complex and as a result they go back. But the notion of a presidential palace is not necessarily precisely what it really is.

ROBERTSON: Well this area that we're talking about that's been targeted tonight was once part of the center of Baghdad. It was an area of government buildings that people could drive through, until the Ba'ath Party, President Saddam Hussein came to party in the late 1960s, and then through as President Saddam Hussein gained control of the Ba'ath Party, became president of the country, the end of the 1970s.

This particular area is several miles long. Many, many buildings in it, many of them built by President Saddam Hussein. But some of them quite large. Some of them would spread over many, many soccer fields, perhaps the best analogy that I could give you. And we can see that last weekend when those large buildings were being targeted, only certain areas of them appeared to be hit. Only certain areas appeared to be going up in smoke and flames.

It wasn't clear to us then and it's not clear to us now exactly what has been going in these buildings, why they should be targeted. But they were targeted fairly early on in the process, perhaps an indication to President Saddam Hussein that it is his personal buildings that were high on the target list in the beginning.

Already we're seeing now in the last couple of days, targeting of communication facilities. That was a television station. Last night, we're seeing the communication center today. And we also know the coalition, of course, now going after targets of opportunity. Targets associated with the military forces that are aligning themselves outside of Baghdad facing off against the coalition moving north -- Aaron.

BROWN: Nic, thank you. As you're speaking, we can see the smoke flowing across the sky of Baghdad at ten minutes after 3:00 in the morning there. It is far more dense, in fact, than it seemed just ten minutes ago.

From the Iraqi capital we go north and the picture north is very, very different. At the base of the mountains in the northeast corner of Iraq, about a thousand U.S. forces have now, in a day, secured an airstrip and in a day U.S. cargo planes are already using it.

CNN's Jane Arraf joins us from the area tonight -- Jane.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, for the past few hours those transport planes have been landing and taking off at that airfield. Now this is -- it was an Iraqi government airfield. It's called the Hareer Airstrip, and it's about 17 kilometers, about ten miles from here.

Now they've taken advantage of the dark to land these planes. These are C-130, C-17s, really big cargo planes that can carry not just troops, but tanks and armored personnel carriers as well as heavy artillery. And this is the beginning of the landing of these transport planes that will make it possible for a northern front.

Now earlier, as you mentioned, we saw a very dramatic air drop of almost 1,000 airborne troops. They are now in positions around that airfield, right now, in the middle of the night, it is freezing cold. And we took a drive around there and a lot of these soldiers are huddled around wood fires trying to keep warm as they secure the perimeter of that field.

Now these troops obviously have been welcomed by Kurdish forces which have been longing for and waiting for the Americans to come in to start the northern front. It's not the front, obviously, that the U.S. expected. A much scaled down version, but they say they will be as effective -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jane, we're looking at the guys jumping out of the airplane now. These pictures came in last night. They're extraordinary in their own way. It seems this development of the northern front is going rather rapidly.

ARRAF: It is rapidly in the sense but it is still much more limited than what the U.S. had originally envisioned which was of course those 60,000 troops who would have actually been able to get off those ships that had been docked for so long off the Turkish coast.

Now those troops have now been diverted and they're going for this option. In preparation for it U.S. fighter planes have bombed positions with -- in the past couple of days near the front lines to soften up those positions. Now the Kurdish forces as well say that they're ready and waiting to help with this. They say they have 100,000 troops that can help open up that front. That of course opens another can of worms with the Turks keeping a very wary eye on what's going on here.

So it is the northern front, but not the one they envisioned and certainly not the one the U.S. would have wanted -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jane, thank you. One can of worms at a time around here. Thank you very much, Jane Arraf in the north part of the country, quite cold there.

Quickly a few other snapshots of the war at this hour. From the fighting around Najaf in the southern part of Iraq. These pictures show an Army Paladin artillery vehicle that was destroyed when it misfired. Two soldiers injured but a spokesman says the wounds are not life-threatening.

Six Iraqi men believed to be couriers for the Saddam Fedayeen, the irregular forces, surrendered to members of the 101st Airborne after they'd become disoriented in those sandstorms and found themselves surrounded by U.S. forces. The unit's commander say the men were carrying a large sum of U.S. dollars with written instructions that may have been meant for leaders of the nearby Ba'ath Party.

And U.S. military is denying tonight a report that Iraq downed another U.S. helicopter gunship. There are suggestions that these pictures which are broadcast by Al-Jazeera today may actually show the Apache helicopter that went down on Monday.

Leading edge of U.S. forces camped out in central Iraq, in the desert there, are, as you would imagine, leaving no stone unturned as they secure their position and they wait. They wait for the for time they will move on Baghdad. CNN's Karl Penhaul is embedded with the 11th Aviation Regimen of the Army's 5th Corps, and he joined them on a reconnaissance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Armed and on the lookout. This U.S. reconnaissance patrol is coming the desert for hiding spots that could be used by Iraqi guerrilla squads. Dozens of Apache attack helicopters are parked nearby, many damaged in combat with Iraqi Republican Guard units north of here earlier this week.

Repairs are under way. As a key part of the U.S. strike force, these choppers may be prime targets for Iraqi units. U.S. soldiers believe there's a risk of attack by Iraqi Fedayeen guerrilla units. Marauders were spotted close by last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you guys hear about today? Just possible attack tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

PENHAUL: Weapons drawn, extreme caution. Just outside the perimeter of the makeshift U.S. air base sits this mudbrick house. U.S. soldiers say it could serve as an Iraqi observation post. Other huts and farm house are noted nearby. Ideal spots to launch hit and run strikes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of covering to consume it. And a lot of positions for them to set indirect fire assets, such as mortars and slide artillery.

PENHAUL: Security is being beefed-up. Infantry soldiers and tanks are rolling in.

(on camera): This dusty desert air field just south of the U.S. forces' front lines is one of several main staging posts for American troops. It will be one of the launchpads for an assault Baghdad. But surrounded by flat open desert, it's also a potential target for Iraqi forces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on where we're at right now (UNINTELLIGIBLE) seeing a small 12-man squads moving out through the desert on foot.

PENHAUL: Sergeant Moody's (ph) betting his colleagues a cold case of beer they'll see an Iraqi strike here soon. But alcohol's banned among the U.S. forces here, so whoever wins will have to wait for that drink.

Karl Penhaul for CNN, central Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Changes at the top tonight at the Defense Policy Board. That's a key advisory arm for the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. For the latest let's go live immediately to our Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A resignation of Richard Perle, who was one of the leading advocates of taking strong action against Iraq. He was the chairman of the Defense Policy Board which is a unpaid voluntary position, but nevertheless, very influential.

He's submitted his resignation because he says he doesn't want there to be any controversy about his dealings with a company called Global Crossing. There was questioned raised about whether he had a conflict of interest because Global Crossing is seeking Pentagon permission for a sale.

He said that it was absolutely not the case, but in order to avoid any appearance he would step down and donate any compensation he'd gotten from Global Crossing in regard to this acquisition to the families of U.S. families who had serviced men or women who died in or were injured in Iraq -- in the war in Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What about the overall thrust of what they're saying at the Pentagon today, Jamie, on how this war is unfolding?

MCINTYRE: Well, the Pentagon insists that they're make good progress. They're sticking to the war plan. In fact, they claim they're slightly ahead of where they expected to be. That's because of the last-minute change to send the ground troops two days earlier than they originally planned.

They did have some delays because of the sandstorm. They have taken some casualties because of these Fedayeen fighters which is they're now calling Death Squads here at the Pentagon. But they insist they are on schedule and there are more troops on the way, as was originally planned. And they say they will essentially isolate the Republican Guard units, chip away at them and eventually destroy them -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Jamie McIntyre at Pentagon, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, we're standing by. We might be hearing soon from the British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He's been meeting with the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. If he speaks, we'll bring you that live.

In the meantime, civilian casualties are an ugly and unfortunate byproduct of war. Still to come, an Iraqi doctor puts himself and his patients in coalition hands. His hope, to save lives and deliver a message of peace. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: President Bush back at the White House tonight after holding talks at Camp David with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

We're joined by our chief White House Correspondent John King to get an update on what they talked about. John, good evening to you.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Aaron. That one-day war summit came on the eighth day of the fighting. Both leaders determined to put a public face forward that they were absolutely confident in the battle plan.

The discussions up at Camp David, the bottom line is these two leaders agreed to focus on first things first. Winning the war and putting aside, for now, any potential disagreements over who would run post-war Iraq and how that would work. Any efforts to try to heal the wounds of the pre-war bitter diplomacy. That will come later.

Both leaders coming forward saying they were confident of victory. Senior officials here say anyone who thinks the war is bogged down simply does not understand the strategy deliberately designed to limit Iraqi civilian casualty, to limit damage to Iraqi civilian infrastructure. Mr. Bush made clear at a brief news conference, he is not counting the days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a matter of victory. And the Iraqi people have got to know that, see? They've got to know that they will be liberated and Saddam Hussein will be removed no matter how long it takes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: From Camp David, Tony Blair headed up to the United Nations meeting with the Secretary-General Kofi Annan. One point that came up at their joint news conference, both Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush complaining that critics of the war were holding up the resumption of the Oil For Food program, a key source of humanitarian aid.

But by the time Mr. Blair made it to New York tonight, a compromise is in the works to resume that program. Get more food, more medicine flowing to the Iraqi people. A vote in the Security Council on that tomorrow.

The Bush White House thanking Germany for negotiating this compromise behind the scenes. That could be significant down the road. Remember the deep bitter tensions between Germany and the United States in the pre-war haggling -- Aaron.

BROWN: John, thank you very much. Our senior White House correspondent, John King -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Aaron. War, of course s a very dangerous and bloody business, not only for the men and women trained to fight, but also for Iraqi bystanders who may be at the wrong place at the wrong time when bombs are dropping, that is.

CNN's Jason Bellini is embedded with the U.S. Marines in southern Iraq where an Iraqi doctor made a dramatic plea for help today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Injured Iraqis hit by coalition shrapnel lay gravely wounded inside the U.N. compound in Umm Qasr, now under the control of U.S. Marines.

DR. WAHEL JASIM, UMM QASR HOSPITAL: He passing about three pints of blood within two days, within two days inside our hospital and we have not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to save him.

BELLINI: Dr. Wahel Jasim brought his patients by ambulance to the Marines at the U.N. because he didn't know what else to do, could offer them no further help from his hospital.

JASIM: They promised me -- and this is the fifth hour I'm waiting for their promise.

BELLINI: The promise of help is not one he's confident the forces invading his country will keep.

JASIM: The Americans say they will bring food, medicines and supply and freedom, but we find missile, we find people who are wounded.

BELLINI: Innocent Iraqis wounded, he says, in crossfire between coalition forces and the Iraqis attacking them from within civilian- populated areas. The Marines we're with say their's is a humanitarian mission, but they're forced to fight to make the area secure for relief to arrive.

(on camera): Do you believe them? In your heart, do you think that they're to help you?

JASIM: In my heart? In my heart, I don't believe anything now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, they're going to come in...

BELLINI (voice-over): Just moments after our conversation a Marine medic arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to grab the wounded and take them to a hospital in Kuwait.

JASIM: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

BELLINI (on camera): What do you think?

JASIM: Thank you.

BELLINI: Do you feel better?

JASIM: What?

BELLINI: Do you feel better?

JASIM: I feel better because they will see (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Everyone give me any help -- I'm so gratefully thankful for him.

BELLINI (voice-over): Not 30 minutes later another casualty arrived. This one brought by the British Royal Marines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to stay back. You know what? We don't want this to be seen. All right? You need to stay back.

BELLINI (on camera): You don't have a choice.

(voice-over): After explaining I had permission from the commander to be here, I was allowed to resume taking pictures.

This man, I'm told, will likely die. His intestines ripped from his abdomen by shrapnel. American and British medics will try to save him, they say, as though he were one of their own. I asked Dr. Jasim's patient if there's anything he'd want to say to people watching this.

JASIM: He said that I can't. Said to American people only something one war that we are people seeking for peace, seeking for life, justice.

BELLINI: The coalition says that is what they're seeking, life, peace for the Iraqi people but first, they need the Iraqis' trust.

Jason Bellini, CNN, embedded with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And, Aaron, getting the Iraqi people's trust is not going to be easy for the U.S. military personnel. The propaganda that has been blasting against the Americans and the British forces for months, indeed, for years. it's going to take some time to build up that kind of trust.

BROWN: Ah, but little moments get it going, Wolf. Little moments. Thank you. We have more coverage ahead. More soldiers heading for the region. We'll tell you about that and much more after this short break. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Twenty-four U.S. troops with battle-related injuries are being treated in Germany tonight and you're looking or about to at one very lucky man right there. This British commando's helmet took four shots. You can see some of the bullet holes very clearly in the front. The helmets the British use, like the ones the Americans use, have Kevlar in them and that, no doubt, saved his life.

Some of the wounded arrived at a hospital in (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Germany earlier today. And this morning one Marine and two soldiers offered their firsthand accounts of the fighting. Army Sergeant Charles Horgan talked about the conditions he faced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. CHARLES HORGAN, U.S. ARMY: When it comes to going back out there, no -- like he said, nobody wants to go back out in that sort of thing, really. I mean, nobody can (UNINTELLIGIBLE) be shot and say, wow, I really want to go back out in there. That was really great.

You know, but I would like my -- my friends protected me while I was out there. They protected me while I was hurt and I was down and I needed them. And I feel bad I'm not there protecting them now when they need me. You know, it's like I got out easy, almost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Sergeant Charles Horgan, another wounded U.S. Marine said he was, quote, "surprised" by the amount of resistance put up by the Iraqis.

President Bush said again today there is no timetable for when the war will be over, even though he's confident of the outcome.

More U.S. troops are heading into Iraq now. Thousands of soldiers will be saying good-bye to families as they leave from Fort Worth, Texas. CNN's Jamie Colby is there for some of the sendoffs. Jamie, good evening to you.

JAMIE COLBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Aaron. For better or for worse, the 12,000 4th Infantry soldiers got their deployment orders. They were scheduled to leave in January. Their equipment and gear did leave at that time. And now they are on their way to the front line.

Today a flag ceremony, the Casing of Colors, as it's called. That flag will be packed and taken with the troops. As well their general commander spoke with them, giving them words of encouragement. These young men and women are determined to go over and fight for their country. They're told their families they expect this to be a long war, Aaron. They've told them they may be gone if as long, if not longer than a year.

In addition, during the two months they were here, they had additional training. And the military worked very hard to keep their morale boosted. Fort Hood is also the base where two Apache helicopter pilots were taken prisoner. They are confirmed prisoners of war now.

That only fueled the interest and determination of the young men and women we talked to today who are ready to go over and fight for their country, their families and the entire town of Colleen, Texas, behind them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you for that report.

Now to the human side, very human side of this war. Good-bye is three times as hard for one Florida family. Nineteen-year-old triplets Christina (ph), Jessica (ph), and Melissa Buchanan (ph) have all been called up for active duty. They're members of Florida's National Guard. The triplets are students at a Florida community college. Their first stop: Ft. Stewart, Georgia. No word on when or where they will be deployed.

And get this. In Rhode Island, 7-month-old Alexia Dambra (ph) is making a big sacrifice for the war. Her mom and dad, members of the U.S. Army, have been activated to fight the war. So Alexia's (ph) aunt is doing baby duties. Her parents could be gone for as long as a year. Alexia's (ph) grandfather, a member of the Rhode Island National Guard is also serving in the war.

Coming up, the latest developments on the war in Iraq. But first, more images from the front lines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Coalition forces in southern Iraq have had their hands full dealing with the armed Ba'ath Party militants around the city of Basra. This has been going on for several days now. It's a very critical part of the early phase of the war. We get more from CNN's Diana Muriel, who is embedded with the British forces.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MURIEL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A taste of things to come. In the hot (ph) flight of the early morning through an enveloping mist we followed British soldiers threading their way through an Iraqi village. They are clearing a route for the tanks to come in behind.

The target: a compound near the village of Az Zubayr, south of Basra. Holed up here Ba'ath Party militants loyal to Saddam Hussein, whom the British Army believes have been coercing local civilians to fight against the coalition forces. With access to rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47s, they've been tying up British Army resources for days.

American bombers dropped a series of 1,000-pound bombs on the compound, but missed the main target. Then the big guns rolled in. Seven Challenger 2 tanks and 10 Warriors to finish it off.

MAJ. JOHNNY BOWRON, BRITISH ARMY: We found the compound. The compound was entered by the tanks, and we were able to look around the compound and see what else was there. And we withdraw successfully, actually picking up an enemy wounded, casualty on the way out, and treating him, and them we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) successfully.

MURIEL: No other enemy was sighted. But local villagers later said around 20 to 30 militiamen remained. This information coming from grateful villages, as they received their first coalition humanitarian aid.

(on camera): Immediately after the battle for Az Zubayr, the battle for hearts and minds began. But most of Iraq fighters holed up near this village have proved a thorn in the side of British forces for some time. It felt that this operation will now clear the way for the main concentrated attack on Basra itself. Diana Muriel, CNN, Az Zubayr, southern Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Now that the sandstorms have ended, air strikes are expected to intensify over Iraq. Does it signal a new phase of the war? Let's check in with our Miles O'Brien. He's in the CNN newsroom in Atlanta for a status report on what's secure and what's next -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Wolf. Thank you very much. We're actually going to give you a good sense of what's going on all of the way from the south to the north of Iraq, beginning in Basra. And getting ourselves all of the way up to the Harir airfield, with the help of General Don Shepperd, retired of the U.S. Air Force.

Let's start in the south, General Shepperd. And give us a sense of what's going on there. The effort there is to get some relief aid much needed in there.

GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Umm Qasr. Clearing the port of Umm Qasr and the channels leading up to that in the Persian Gulf next to it of mines, so that the humanitarian effort can flow in the ships. If you sink a ship in one of those narrow channels, you're in deep trouble for humanitarian aid for a long time.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's take a look and talk about that channel as we zoom in using our satellite imagery through our earthviewer.com. Take a look at Umm Qasr. It is a choke point here. It wouldn't take too many mines to shut that operation down, would it?

SHEPPERD: No. It's a very poor man's port. It's a lousy port, but it's the only hand you've got in there. You have to bring aid up into this area, up these channels here, and unload it in the port. And you have no other choice. You've got to do that to get aid into the country.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's move on up to Baghdad and talk about what happened there. We had a couple of explosions which we kind of watched live here on CNN today. Give us a sense of what's going on there, what those targets were all about. What you inferred by viewing it.

SHEPPERD: The strikes that we saw today so far appeared to be against the International Information Ministry on the west side -- or the east side of the Tigris River running through the town. Also, we also saw re-strikes in the presidential compound down there, Al Salam Palace. You can expect numerous re-strikes in that presidential palace area due to the complexity and size of the target area there. One bomb won't do it on one building there, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Well -- and I guess this brings out the point about precision weaponry. If you go in and you carpet bomb, then you don't have to go back necessarily.

SHEPPERD: Indeed. And you also kill a lot of civilians. We do not want to do that as coalition forces.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's take a look at the latest tape that we've just gotten in from this Harir airfield, this toehold for the 173rd Airborne.

SHEPPERD: You bet.

O'BRIEN: As we move the satellite imagery up there -- well let's first look at the video, which is from nightscope imagery. It's kind of hard to make all this out. But what we're seeing are C-17s, which are jet cargo freighters, and then above them what appear to be C- 130s. Explain why you do that.

SHEPPERD: Well, basically, we saw earlier today the C-17s dumping out paratroopers that take care of the airfield. Now the airfield is prepared to land. You see one taking off here. And those would normally be protected by AC1-30s (ph). We're not talking about tactics, we're talking about things that can be done.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's take a look at the satellite imagery from earthviewer.com. We'll show you this field. It's only about a 6,000-foot field right there in the mountains. It's rough terrain up there. It's a long way from the desert. And it's a different scenario entirely, isn't it?

SHEPPERD: It is indeed. This is not a sophisticated airfield. You've got to go into this airfield, secure it. That's what the troops are about. Then you land bigger airplanes, such as the C-17, and get vehicles out. And now you start improving your ability to get things in and out of that airfield.

Ramps are very key. Ramp space is very key, as are the roads out of this airfield.

O'BRIEN: It's a long way from the front that was envisioned with the 4th Infantry, keeping the Kurds separate from the Turks and all of that. This is simply a toehold. Is it going to be too little, too late, or can this all kind of come together? SHEPPERD: This can all come together. These are airborne forces in this toehold. Likely, what will happen is you will see other bases operated like this to bring in more forces. And perhaps later on the seizure of bigger airports in the area so that you have real robust and you can bring in C-5s, C-17s, and of course C-130s can go anywhere.

O'BRIEN: All right. Major General Don Shepperd, retired U.S. Air Force, thanks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Miles and General Shepperd.

The war in Iraq meets with civil disobedience in the big apple. Anti-war demonstrators stage what they're calling a "die-in" in Midtown Manhattan. Their main target today: the news media. And Aaron will talk live with peace activist Daniel Ellsberg.

We are bringing you live coverage of the war in Iraq here on CNN 24 hours a day. And when you're away from a television there's also cnn.com. That's where you'll find our war tracker. Click on interactive maps to keep track of the action on the front lines. You can also read field reports from our reporters in the war zones. Again, that's cnn.com, one of the many worldwide resources of CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A major show of civil disobedience in New York City, where thousands of protesters decided to take the war in Iraq lying down, literally. The demonstrators tied up traffic in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. CNN's Jason Caroll joins us now live from New York with more -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, no more lying down in the streets tonight. Instead, here at this church and the upper side of Manhattan here, people are sitting down in the pews. They're listening to speakers, listening to musicians for what they're calling a tribute to peace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): It happened in New York, in Oakland, California, and Indianapolis. It was a day where the debate over the war took to the streets. In Indiana, one group could barely keep up with the demand for signs of support for the troops and the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew people would be supportive, but boy this is really an incredible outpouring.

CARROLL: While here in New York there were signs and sounds of discontent. Anti-war protesters disrupted business as usual for about two hours. Dozens staged a die-in, lying down in the center of Fifth Avenue, taking to civil disobedience in hopes people will hear their message. One they say the media ignores.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that in the last two or three months or so a great deal of the media hasn't paid attention to the anti-war movement. And I they think they are to be applauded for that.

CARROLL: Almost 200 wore cuffed and carried away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're under arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take them off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're under arrest. Get in the wagon.

CARROLL: A small number of those who were not arrested moved uptown to Tiffany's to stage a die-in there, meeting some resistance along the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Undercover cops.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Peace.

CARROLL: Less vocal in Oakland, where a group of 7th graders carried pictures of pen pals from Baghdad as they walk out of class to support peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are their pen pals. These are their friends. And they're very afraid for them.

CARROLL: A battle of words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are an (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventy-five percent of this nation believes in what this president's doing.

CARROLL: One that is not likely to be resolved in the streets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: A number of speakers scheduled tonight, including Michael Moore. You may remember he won the Academy Award for his documentary "Bowling for Columbine." He gave a controversial speech during the Academy awards. He was booed at times. No boos expected tonight -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jason, thank you. We had Michael Moore on the program the other night to hear his view of that. And we are joined now by a peace activist whose voice was clearly heard above the crowd during the Vietnam War. And he is again, Daniel Elsberg, who of course released the Pentagon Papers.

He was among those arrested near the White House yesterday in an anti-war protest. He joins us now to talk about the demonstrations and the impact of that. Mr. Ellsberg, it's good to see you again, sir.

DANIEL ELLSBERG, PEACE ACTIVIST: Thank you for having me here.

BROWN: The Iraqi political strategy is in large part to use the anti-war demonstrations around the world to create political pressure on the coalition governments to stand down, cease-fire and stop the war. In that regard, are you playing into the hands of what I think you would even acknowledge is a very bad regime?

ELLSBERG: Certainly a very bad regime. Who's judgment were you just describing? That that's Saddam's strategy? I don't know what his strategy is. Do you?

BROWN: Do you dispute that that is a reasonable interpretation of what the Iraqi political strategy is?

ELLSBERG: I really don't know. As a matter of fact, it's clear that the advisers that Secretary Rumsfeld has been advising and relying on, including Richard Perle, who apparently just left today, was extremely bad in understanding Saddam. Certainly, I don't pretend to. I haven't been to Iraq, and I guess none of them have.

I have been in combat, and I do have -- as a civilian, I was a trained infantry officer in the Marine Corps. And I do have some sense of how men in the field react. And I imagine some of that applies to Iraq soldiers, as well as to American soldiers. I doubt very much whether either of them are looking principally at CNN, frankly.

BROWN: Well I hope that soldiers in the field aren't looking at CNN. But I think -- it strikes me, Dr. Ellsberg, that we veered a little there. Let me try and reframe the question. If the Iraqi political strategy is to use the anti-war movement to put pressure on the coalition to cease-fire, don't...

ELLSBERG: That implies great -- that implies a rather delusional aspect of Saddam Hussein that I don't have any confidence in. If you really think that Saddam Hussein is relying on reading newspaper accounts or seeing media accounts of people -- of handfuls of people or thousands of people -- lying in the streets, and relying on that to influence, shall we say, President Bush, I didn't see it happening in getting into this war. And I don't think Saddam is so foolish as to think that his own safety as a tyrant in that country depends on us. So I really think that's an irrelevant question.

BROWN: Do you not think that the anti-war movement...

ELLSBERG: In fact, I think that's very naive. Anyone who thinks that that goes back -- I think that's just a way really of the administration trying to quell dissent in this country, such theories. And really, their theories of Saddam Hussein are not very good. That's a great part of the crisis that this country is in right now.

BROWN: Do you think the anti-war movement of this time will be in any way, shape or form successful in the way that ultimately the anti-war movement was in encouraging an end to the Vietnam War?

ELLSBERG: Well, really the anti-war movement had its effect primarily after months and years of body bags had come home. And I pray, I hope that that is not going to be the basis for success of any kind. I hope that doesn't happen, in a word. And I don't know anyone in the movement opposing this war who wants that.

I would be very happy, by the way, to see Saddam leave dead or alive at this moment, to see all of his troops defect. To see his generals defect, as apparently was confidently predicted. That confidence was very foolish. And I think, by the way, it should undermine Bush's confidence in the judgment of the people that had been advising Rumsfeld, and think of replacing them very quickly.

But I would like to see that, but it doesn't seem to be happening at all. I never was confident that that would happen. Really, I don't think many people on those streets have very much confidence at all that they will influence President Bush. He doesn't seem to listen to the majority, even, let alone the minority of the people. After all, the majority did not vote for him.

He doesn't -- I don't think they expect to be very moved or to move either Saddam Hussein or to George Bush. But I do think that they are speaking to each other and to the country and to the world, and I think that's for the good of this country, to hear the world here that there are many Americans who feel this war is deeply wrong and that we're in a crisis.

BROWN: Dr. Ellsberg -- I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt. Dr. Ellsberg, thank you for your time. And we appreciate you joining us tonight. Daniel Ellsberg with us.

ELLSBERG: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

Coming up, same war, but viewed differently. When we come back, what viewers across the Arab world are seeing on their networks. How does it differ? You'll have an opportunity to judge. Our coverage continues after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's a pretty well known fact by now that France vehemently opposes the war. Streets in Paris were filled once again today with protests against the fighting. And there's concern that even when the combat is over, the situation in Iraq may not be any better. CNN's Jim Bittermann filed this report from Paris.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT: France may not be in this war, but it is certainly being impacted by it. Tourism is down, as is the business at hotels and restaurants. The newspapers and television programs are filled with battle plans and weapon systems. But the most striking sign that there is a war on is in the center of town in the huge Place de la Concorde, a large square that many know because it's adjacent to the American embassy. About a sixth of the square is now taken up by police vehicles and water canons and barricades to provide security for the diplomats. There are anti-war demonstrations practically on a daily basis, but the number of protesters has been dwindling. So there's no real fear there.

The real concern among political leaders and thinkers seems to be that, far from solving problems in the Middle East, the American military action in Iraq is going to create them. That moderate Islamic states are not going to grow into democracies, but descend into fundamentalism, as some suggest that Turkey is doing right now. And that fundamentalism will lead to more terrorism, and that terrorism could spread to Europe.

So the mood, perhaps one of dread over a foreign policy the French do not really understand and cannot influence, but which could have serious consequences here. Jim Bitterman, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: To use a phrase from the Vietnam era, this truly is the living room war. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are glued to television sets and have been now for more than a week. To a certain, extent, what they see depends on what part of the world they live in.

CNN's Octavia Nasr reports Arabs in the Middle East are seeing coverage that is quite different from what you are seeing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here's what you saw in the U.S., the CENTCOM briefing in Doha, Qatar. Meantime, we heard word of explosions in Baghdad and worked to show pictures. But CNN, at least here in the U.S., never left the CENTCOM briefing.

Here's what you could see if you were watching LBC, the Lebanon Broadcasting Corporation. Journalists who had been waiting for a ministry briefing in Baghdad hear the bombing and start scrambling to get outside and cover it. This is raw video broadcast on LBC shortly after the bombing.

And here's what Abu Dhabi TV showed. Shortly after the bombing, you're outside on the street. You can see better pictures of the smoke in the background, and you can see a reporter rushing to the scene. But access for Arab journalists puts Arab viewers closer to the action.

(on camera): Even Western media with access to the streets of Baghdad chose to stay with the CENTCOM briefing. With Arab Voices, I'm Octavia Nasr.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: One other media note here. Computer hackers today attacked the Web site of Al-Jazeera, the Arab language news channel. When users logged in, they found an American flag and a message: "Let freedom ring." Other users tried to connecting to Al-Jazeera and were diverted to pornography.

Our coverage of the war in Iraq live from the front lines continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The war is bringing a variety of dramatic images directly from the front lines. Take a look at this one we have for you today.

A British tank is providing what can certainly be called a symbolic dramatic image. As you can see, the armor is running over a billboard of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Eventually crushing it. With thousands of pictures of the Iraqi president all over the country, other such detours could keep coalition tank units very busy in the days and maybe even weeks to come -- Aaron.

BROWN: Each day seems to provide an image. There was the image yesterday the mural that was found with the plane going into what looked like the twin towers. As we do at the end of this hour each night, we take a look at some of the images and the sounds that go with them. In war, there is no shortage of either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not sure what we see up there. Goodbye. We've got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) vehicles, we think. See you -- bye.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



Forces Fight Their Way Across the Desert>


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