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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

U.S. Troops Creep Closer to Center of Capital

Aired April 5, 2003 - 20:00   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at Baghdad, a city under siege. Bombing raids and anti-missile artillery have lit up the night sky as U.S. troops creep closer and closer to the center of the capital.
Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting tonight live from Kuwait City over the next hour we'll take you through the days events, showing you what has led up this point.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Anderson Cooper in Atlanta. Also this hour we'll take a closer look at the main attraction of this war. Saddam Hussein, where is he? And if he is still alive, what is he thinking as his grip on power seemingly slips away.

But first, let's go back to where it all started, overnight, in Doha, Qatar.

U.S. Central Command says that it has identified the nine bodies found during the raid to rescue POW Jessica Lynch. All nine were those of U.S. soldiers. Eight of them from Lynch's 507th Maintenance Company. That was the unit, of course, ambushed by Iraqi soldiers back on March 23rd.

Among the dead, 23-year-old Private First Class Lori Ann Piestewa. Piestewa is the first American servicewoman killed in this war. Her family spoke to the media today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYLAND PIESTEWA, BROTHER OF SOLDIER KILLED: The family and friends of Lori would like to first thank everyone again for their continued support at this time. We were informed yesterday evening that our sister is home and we're very happy that she's back on U.S. soil.

We're asking the community and the media allow us this time to begin the healing process and respect our wishes to spend time with our immediate family. At some point in the future we will have a celebration of her life. At which time the community -- we will embrace the greater community of Tuba City, and I'm sure our country.

We also ask you to continue to pray for all the troops, all the servicemen and women, and the world leaders around the world, so that our children will know what it is to one day live in a world of peace and that there will be a quick end to this conflict as well as other conflicts around the world. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And moving ahead to 7 a.m. Eastern Time, once again, Camp Basalia (ph), just outside Doha, Qatar. CENTCOM officials go into dramatic detail about Jessica Lynch's rescue. CNN's Tom Mintier reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, DOHA, QATAR: We did indeed here more about PFC Jessica Lynch's departure from Iraqi territory. As special forces operation brought in to pick her up rapidly and take her out.

Also, a local physician apparently cooperated, providing first intelligence, and then guidance and direction once the special operations people were on the ground. They landed the helicopter right in front of the hospital and then went inside.

They couldn't find her at first, because she was apparently fearful of what was all going on. They did take some fire as they were coming down. So, she was in this hospital bed with a sheet pulled up around her neck. And one of the special forces officers, who went in on the rescue, called out her name.

MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART, JR.: As the team entered the hospital room they found Private Lynch in a hospital bed. The first man approached the door and came in and called her name. She had been scared, had the sheet up over her head, because she didn't know what was happening. She lowered the sheet from her head.

She didn't really respond yet, because I think she was probably pretty scared. The soldier again said, Jessica Lynch, we're the United States soldiers and we're here to protect you and take you home.

She seemed to understand that. As he walked over, took his helmet off, she looked up at him and said, I'm an American soldier, too.

The team members carried down the stairwell, out to the front door, to the waiting helicopter.

Jessica held up her and grabbed the ranger doctor's hand, held onto it for the entire time and said, please don't let anybody leave me.

It was clear that she knew where she was and that she didn't want to be left anywhere in the hands of the enemy.

MINTIER: Jessica Lynch is currently undergoing medical treatment in Germany. According to the briefing here today, in a fair amount of pain when she was picked up and put on a stretcher and put aboard the U.S. helicopter, with leg, back and head injuries.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: CNN's Tom Mintier reporting from Qatar. Meanwhile, military officials may have a better idea today of what exactly happened to Private Lynch during her captivity. U.S. Marines found her dog tags. CNN's Jason Bellini reports they were discovered in the home of a suspected Baath Party member. The home was near the hospital where Lynch was rescued.

Anderson?

COOPER: Well, most of the day the world's attention was focused firmly on Baghdad. During the 8 a.m. hour CNN's Walter Rodgers reported that U.S. troops were moving in and out of the city and that Iraqi troops were fleeing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BAGHDAD: Another interesting nugget from Army intelligence, the officers with whom we are traveling are telling us that their airplanes and their sightings are telling them that Iraqi officials are fleeing Baghdad in droves.

What they are doing, according to the Army, is insinuating their army trucks in between civilian convoys and then fleeing Baghdad.

Perhaps we can add a little more information to the U.S. forces who punched into southern Baghdad in the early hours of the morning, Baghdad time. That was the 2nd Brigade of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division. It had a clear motive for moving into the city. This was not just psychological warfare nor was it just muscle flexing.

The U.S. Army generals were moving their troops around and they wanted to relocate the 2nd Division at another position in the Baghdad area. So, what they did was ramped first a reconnaissance unit up through the city. Then they followed through with replacements. And now the 2nd Brigade is going replace the 3rd Brigade.

That being the case, again, the generals are moving their soldiers through Baghdad. They say they can move their soldiers with will. That seems pretty much the case, although, there is still hostile area in and around the city of Baghdad. Still the U.S. army is really flexing its muscles, moving its troops about at will.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was Walter Rodgers with the 7th Cavalry.

Meanwhile, Marines pushing into Baghdad from the southeast reported sporadic fighting. CNN's Martin Savidge filed a report from near Baghdad, around 9 a.m. Eastern.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORREPSONDENT: There has been fighting that's been reported in the area. The 5th Marines rolled through that area last night and they did report getting fire from rocket-propelled grenades. And a number of their tanks were hit and they did suffer casualties.

Then comes along the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines; they're following along. They're given the task, go into this same area and try and clear it out, which is what they've been working on. We're in the back part of the convoy, due to technical difficulties.

But the forward element of the 1st Battalion 7th Marines has pushed into this troubled area and they have reported what they call sporadic fighting that has been taking place up there. We also note that by the fact that there has been a lot of support artillery fire coming from behind us. U.S. Marines have their own artillery units and they have been lending support, firing into the area where this battle or the fighting has been taking place.

One of the reasons we had to move down here, is now we're told there is some obstruction in the road. Said to be an Iraqi piece of hardware that is no longer functional. There is also another piece of Iraqi hardware, artillery piece back there that is no longer in service.

You see lots of that on the road entering into the southeast portion of Baghdad. Again, not heavy fighting. It is described as sporadic fighting. And the situation is said to well under control.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: CNN's Martin Savidge reporting from the front lines.

Our look at the day and the war will continue. At 10 a.m. Associated Press reports that U.S. attack on a Republican Guard barracks in Baghdad.

And 11 a.m., saving lives under the harshest of circumstances, we'll go up close with the "Devil Docs". And at 2 p.m., what the parents of Private First Class Jessica Lynch are thinking as they head for a reunion with their wounded daughter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Continuing our coverage, at 10 a.m. U.S. troops opened fire on a Republican Guard barracks in Baghdad.

(GUN FIRE, EXPLOSIONS)

The 3rd Infantry Division took on Republican Guard troops at their barracks in the southwestern part of the city. The heavy fighting left Iraqi tanks blazing and smoke pouring from the area. Iraqi officials took issue with those reports, calling the video a deception, insisting it took place, and I'm quoting now, "far from Baghdad".

Today's developments are getting very close scrutiny throughout the Middle East. Our Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson is in Ruwaished, that's in Jordon, along the border with Iraq.

Nic, first of all, what's the reaction in the Arab world? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reaction at this time appears to be of great concern for civilian casualties. It is a concern that is heightened by the fact there are so many civilians in Baghdad. And as Baghdad is encircled and the fight appears to now to come in, very much into civilian areas. We have seen the fighting today in a Republican Guard compound on the outskirts of Baghdad.

But what's been happening inside the city is that Iraq has been reinforcing and making new military positions in residential areas. We understand from sources in the city that civilians are being moved out of those areas, many of them choosing to leave the city of Baghdad and get out of harm's way.

But that, of course, great concern because while there may not be a lot of support in this region for President Saddam Hussein, there is a lot of support, a lot of empathy, and a lot of feeling towards the Iraqi people. And a feeling that the coalition forces, perhaps, not looking out for the civilians as best they could.

Of course, that is civilian casualties is exactly what the coalition forces want to avoid. And from what we hear from sources inside Baghdad, there had been many casualties arriving in the hospitals there today. Although, the majority of those casualties appear to be military ones.

The position of Iraq's leadership also seems to be very clear at this time; one of defense and defiance at this time. Iraq's leader, President Saddam Hussein, appearing on Iraqi television with his two sons, Uday Saddam Hussein, in charge of the Fedayeen forces; Qusay Saddam Hussein, in charge of the Republican Guard. A message to the Iraqi people that they intend to stand and fight. And that's a exactly what the leadership has been asking them to do.

The information minister reading a statement from President Saddam Hussein, saying that the coalition is facing defeat. And that Iraqis should rise up and fight back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMED SAEED AL-SAHAF, IRAQI MINISTER OF INFORMATION: But they should harm the enemy more and more. Go against the enemy and destroy the enemy. And follow the plans that you go in writing. God is great, may the criminals loose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Now, this fight back against the coalition, this call for leadership, may likely be in enhanced by images like these captured in Baghdad today. Iraqis on the street celebrating what appears to be the destruction of a U.S. coalition tank. Not exactly clear what the vehicle is, but certainly bringing celebration from some Iraqis, where the coalition appears to be defeated there.

What we've been hearing from Red Cross officials who visited some of the hospitals in Baghdad, they see increasing numbers of casualties there.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ROLAND HUGUENIN-BENJAMIN, INT'L. RED CROSS: We had a chance in the morning to go to the main hospital, which is called Yarmok (ph), and we found that there had been a steady flow in of the hundreds of casualties all through the night and through into the day. Casualties and the wounded had to be sent over, dispatched to other hospitals because this Yarmok (ph) was just totally overwhelmed by the shear number of people coming in.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Now this particular hospital, the Yarmok (ph), very much now in the front lines if you will, between a front line position that has been set up by Iraqi forces and an area that Iraqis have seen coalition forces driving through today. That would -- all these images will certainly raise concern in the Arab world, Wolf, but civilians somehow are going to get caught up in this.

And, of course, while the coalition intends to avoid that, there is huge potential now the fight is on the doorsteps of such a major urban area.

BLITZER: Nic, it seems the U.S. military has sealed off the roads in the southern part of Baghdad, the northern part, but to the west, the road to Syria, to Jordan, that seems to be open. It seems to be a deliberate strategy on the part of the U.S. military. The question is this, are we seeing huge numbers of people fleeing Baghdad along those roads?

ROBERTSON: The sources that we're talking to, inside Baghdad, say that people are leaving. They don't make it sound like an exodus. They say that people aren't panicking at this time. And along the western road, out of Baghdad towards Syria, towards Jordan, actually U.S. special forces operate random checkpoints on that road.

So, it is quite possible anybody fleeing down the major highway there and the old road that used to lead out in the same direction, could be stopped, searched, picked up, by coalition forces who are out in the west. Obviously the east of Iraq offers a quicker exit out of Iraq, if you will. For Iraqis it is much closer to the Iranian border, anyone wanting to actually flee the country.

What we hear from humanitarian officials in Jordan is, that they are not yet seeing large numbers of refugees leaving the country. But it is very difficult for us to tell from out here, Wolf, since Iraqis have now excluded us from operating in Baghdad. It is very difficult for us to get an exact assessment of the exact numbers leaving Baghdad.

Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Nic Robertson, we'll be watching and waiting to see what happens on those escape routes from Baghdad.

In the meantime, let's go back to Anderson.

Anderson?

COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much. Just as a reminder to our viewers, we're looking back at the day that was in the WAR IN IRAQ: DAY 18. Now, in the 10 o'clock hour today, in the 10 o'clock hour today, this Saturday, in his weekly "Radio Address" President Bush said Iraqi fighters were in their final days. And as CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports, the president is looking past the fighting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): During his weekend at Camp David, President Bush reached out to friend and foe of the Iraqi war, Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There focus was on the future, a post-Saddam Iraq. Mr. Bush in his weekly "Radio Address":

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By defending our own security, we're ridding the people of Iraq from one of the cruelest regimes on Earth.

MALVEAUX: The White House envisions replacing that regime immediately after the conflict with a military force, commanded by General Tommy Franks and a U.S. civilian administration headed by retired General Jay Garner.

The U.S. would help create an interim Iraqi authority. But the plan is raising questions and even concerns from world leaders that without international input it is doomed to fail.

KEN POLLACK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The simple fact of the matter is that no one in the United States knows who the Iraqi people want to lead them. And for the United States to simply chose people, whether they're from the inside or from the outside, it could be very problematic in establishing even a transitional authority with some legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis.

MALVEAUX: British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and many European leaders, believes that legitimacy will come if the United Nations endorses the new Iraqi regime. Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair will meet this Monday and Tuesday in Belfast, Ireland to debate the U.N.'s role.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (on camera): Now, Mr. Blair sees a role for the U.N. as having broad powers, but the White House sees it much more limited role. But even within the Bush administration there are divisions over how to run Iraq once the bullets stop flying.

Wolf?

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. Suzanne, thanks very much.

CNN's medical correspondent, and neurosurgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is following the work of Navy doctors who call themselves the "Devil Docs". And at 11 a.m. he filed this report from one of the MASH units.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are here with the Devil Docs and the Bravo Surgical Company and you are witnessing one of the medical marvels of this military campaign.

A completely mobile operating room; dirt floors, tent above us, 60-watt light bulbs, and surgery (ph), an operation, going on right behind us. This has been par for the course, continuing on over the last 48 hours they have seen 108 patients. Almost 25 operations performed here, all of them life-saving operations.

And as physically challenging as it has been for these doctors, it is also been emotionally challenging. They cannot avert their gaze from some of the images they have seen. Children coming in, sometimes with shrapnel injuries to the face, gunshot wounds to the head, mothers coming in with their children in hand. These are images that will forever be embedded with these doctors and the corpsmen who take care of these patients.

This is a mobile operating room. They are going to move north. As they move north they are going to just come right outside of Baghdad to handle all the front-line fighting, all the front-line casualties that will continue, no doubt, to come in.

Mark Viello (ph), my photographer, and I will continue with them. And we're certainly going to keep you posted on all of the developments of the Devil Docs.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, just outside of Baghdad, with the Devil Docs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Northern Iraq continues to be the scene of fierce fighting. And at noon Eastern, heavy bombing of Iraqi forces there. CNN's Brent Sadler reports that U.S. war planes dropped 28 75,000- pound bombs on one area in only a single hour.

Saddam loyalists still hold the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk in the north, but Sadler says U.S. special forces are working with Kurdish soldiers to take on the Iraqi troops.

COOPER: Well, the parents of rescued POW Jessica Lynch left for Germany today. They are heading for a reunion with their injured daughter, who is recovering at a military hospital. Before leaving they held a 2 p.m. Eastern, press conference in Charleston, West Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GREG LYNCH SR., JESSICA'S FATHER: I feel real good. This has been a long-waiting process. So, we're looking forward meeting up with our daughter over there and get her back here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, during that news conference the Lynches learn that eight members of Jessica's unit have been confirmed dead. Greg Lynch was visibly moved. He said in halting voice, "our hearts are really saddened".

BLITZER: And after the break we'll pick up in the 3 o'clock hour in Basra, where the fastest growing population seems to be prisoners.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Day 18: Quite a day it was. While the spotlight was on Baghdad today, the southern city of Basra remains under siege by British troops. At 3 p.m. Eastern, British pool reporter, Bill Neely reported that the end of the siege may be near.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL NEELY, NEAR BASRA, IRAQ (voice over): Royal Marines are now pushing north by the thousands in what may be well be the end game for Saddam Hussein. Their target is Iraq's second city, Basra. Already surrounded, then squeezed, these Marines will now pierce it, hoping to finish off the resistance of Saddam and his men. The desert sands are shifting fast.

As they speed north they pass Iraqi prisoners heading south from the battlegrounds near Baghdad. Lories and buses are being filled with Iraqi conscripts and officers. Tents to hold them are being put up fast, bulldozers are pushing out the camp boundaries. Already it is proving difficult to process the numbers here.

NEELY (on camera): This is the biggest prisoner of war camp in Iraq and it's getting bigger day by day. It's growth, a measure of the coalition's success. It now holds 7,000 Iraqi prisoners, but within a few days that will grow to 10,000.

MAJ. RACHEL GRIMES, POW HEADQUARTERS: We have got something like 300 to 500 officers here. The most senior, I think, is a brigadier general. And we do have some Baath Party members here.

NEELY: So, senior people that can give you information, if necessary?

GRIMES: Yes, that's right. But in the main, we have other ranks, and it is fair to say that most people are happy to be here, from the soldiers.

NEELY: Across the south the Iraqis are giving themselves up or being captured. We saw this militia man caught this morning. Saddam's paramilitaries are being picked up by the handful, but they all end up in the same camp. Confiscated weapons lie scattered on the outskirts, inside the allies are getting information from these men. Most of them conscripts, they have survived the battles for Umm Qasr and Nasiriyah and Najaf. Soon others who have survived the battle for Baghdad will join them.

The pace of events in Iraq has taken everyone by surprise. Lories, tanks, helicopters and tens of thousands of British and American troops are now racing to take Iraq's two main cities; to hammer home the advantage of this momentum, to hammer a final nail in the coffin of Saddam's regime.

This is Bill Neely with the Royal Marines on the outskirts of Basra.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Let's stay in the 3 o'clock hour, now, that is when new explosions were heard and seen in Baghdad. The Pentagon says U.S. lead forces have begun a new air strategy over the Iraqi capital.

It says the plan is to have aircraft flying at all times, over Baghdad, to protect coalition ground troops. And if at anytime U.S. forces are threatened a strike will be called in. According to CNN correspondent, Gary Tuchman, one highly placed Pentagon officials says at least two planes will be over the Iraqi capital at all times.

BLITZER: Anderson, from the skyline to sky high, another view now of Baghdad. In this CNN exclusive, Kyra Phillips took a ride with the unique group of bodyguards. She filed this report in the 5 o'clock hour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: We won't consider the mission a success unless the Marines are happy with the product.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They are coalition bodyguards over Baghdad, an airborne shield to U.S. Marines.

CMDR. STEVE KROTOW, U.S. NAVY: Let them know what' coming. Let them know if anything is coming back behind them on their flanks to close off their supply lines.

PHILLIPS: You are now airborne over Iraq with Commander Steve Krotow's Gray Knights, the Navy's P-3 eyes in the sky.

KROTOW: Any kind of forces that look like they may be threatening to the Marines, we want to let them know. And we have the capability to send pictures or actual video. And then they can make decisions if they want to maybe avoid that area or maybe go ahead go out and engage those folks.

PHILLIPS: Dodging missiles and triple A fire is something new this squadron, however, protecting forces on the ground isn't. PHILLIPS (on camera): These men are about four hours into their mission and the sun starting to set. They've just come across one of the Marine convoys that they need to track. So, they're watching every move that the Marines make as they move towards Baghdad. Making sure they don't come across any type of threat.

COL. JIM LUKEMAN, U.S. MARINES CORPS: We're getting closer on this one.

PHILLIPS (voice over): Also on this mission, Marine Colonel Jim Lukeman and Sergeant Emilio Hernandez. They are tracking and talking to their fellow Marines on the ground.

LUKEMAN: Two vehicles moving across the bridge.

PHILLIPS: Making sure they don't get ambushed.

LUKEMAN: I'm looking for enemy positions out to the front. We'll look at the routes ahead of where our guys are going to go and try to see what enemy is there.

PHILLIPS: Lukeman is warning his troops about a bridge ahead. He doesn't like what he sees. The Gray Knights fly closer and grab a clearer picture.

LUKEMAN: There is some vehicular traffic, so we know the bridge is still intact. They maybe Iraqi military, so now that the Marine division on the ground has that information they'll take action tactically on it.

PHILLIPS: These flights can last up to 15 hours, but it is the minutes of real-time intelligence that completes the mission.

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: When you are on the ground fighting, every piece of information you have about what you're coming up against is golden.

KROTOW: It keeps the Marines safe. And one more safe Marine is one more Marine that can continue on north to Baghdad.

PHILLIPS: Flying over Iraq, Kyra Phillips, CNN.

COOPER: We end our look at Day 18, with the latest on where things stand, by the numbers.

Coalition officials say 65 Americans have died as a result of hostile action, 14 more Americans have died of other causes. Britain says six of it's own troops have died in hostile action, while 19 deaths are classified as non-hostile, and two others are undetermined.

The Iraqi government is not releasing information about military casualties. Iraqi TV says 420 civilians are dead and 4,000 have been injured. U.S. officials say the coalition is holding 65,000 Iraqis prisoner of war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Good evening once again.

Today another apparent Saddam sighting this time with a twist. He appeared with his two sons but was it really Saddam? Or was it an imposter and when was the tape made? Is it all part of a strategy to keep the regime alive?

Also, a lot of the atrocities anticipated at the outset of this war have mostly failed to materialize at least so far. Does that mean Saddam Hussein is not -- not -- in control? To answer the questions, CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider is joining us now live.

Bill?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well Wolf, before the war military analysts made a lot of predictions about what Iraq might do to stop the coalition, but many of them have not happened. Well, why not?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(EXPLOSIONS)

SCHNEIDER (voice over): Immediately after being attacked, some feared the Iraqi regime might fire missiles at Israel, as it did in 1991 to try to draw Israel into the war. It didn't.

"USA Today" cited military experts who said the Iraqi army could slow a U.S. advance by blowing up bridges, using refugees to clog roads and flooding rivers to wash out roads. A dam near Karbala was wired but not demolished and as for the bridges ...

BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, CENCOM: The 5th Corps forces were able to seize a bridge intact over the Euphrates River. It was in fact rigged for demolition. They were able to remove the demolition, cross the bridge and continue the attack.

SCHNEIDER: In 1991, the Iraqis set the oil fields of Kuwait ablaze. There were a few fires early on, but nothing like the conflagrations of 1991.

Everyone expected Iraq to unleash chemical and biological weapons. So far it hasn't happened.

What about Saddam's elite Republican Guard units that were supposed to form a ring of steel around Baghdad? The steel seemed to melt quickly under allied bombardment.

BROOKS: We have penetrated the defensive ring that was set by the Republican Guard forces.

SCHNEIDER: What happened? The Iraqis may not want to use chemical and biological weapons even if they have them and hand the U.S. an immense propaganda victory.

It could be there is no command and control structure and Iraqi generals are fearful of taking provocative actions on their own especially because President Bush has issued a serious warning.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And if you launch a weapon of mass destruction you'll be tried as a war criminal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Maybe Saddam Hussein is not in control. And those who are, are looking ahead to after the war. They have to ask themselves do they want to be put on trial or do they want to have a future in the new Iraq?

Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, all of this may still be premature because there's still some serious fighting ahead for U.S. and coalition forces but as you take a look at the basic bottom line right now, all those worst case scenarios, those dire fears that all of us of course had not yet materializing, now week three. What goes through your mind, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: The only thing that goes through my mind, the one thing is could all this be some sort of a trap where they're making it easy for the allied forces to get to Baghdad, because they're trying to lure them into some kind of a trap they have for them in Baghdad.

Just yesterday as we all know, the information minister said if you go into Baghdad, we're prepared. It'll be another Dien Vien Phu. There'll be all kinds of unconventional tactics used. Now that just might be blowing smoke, but you've got to worry about that battle of Baghdad. Urban warfare is not an easy or a fast thing.

BLITZER: There are still plenty of nightmare scenarios out there. Thanks Bill Schneider for that analysis.

And as we continue to explore the end game of the Saddam Hussein regime, let's look at what diplomatic cards might still be up its sleeve and could those in control be stalling for time until they get an exit deal?

We're joined now by William Ury. He's the director of Harvard University's Project on Preventing War and is considered one of the world's leading negotiators.

Professor, thanks so much for joining us.

Donald Rumsfeld says there's nothing left to negotiate with Saddam Hussein. He had his chance. He blew it and now it's all over for him. I know you disagree on that front.

WILLIAM URY, PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, I really do think there's an enormous negotiating opportunity here. No one knows what can happen, but the opportunity is to save perhaps tens of thousands of lives, civilians, military, Americans, British, Iraqi to a negotiated surrender. What would it take? It would take a pause perhaps in the attack. It would take a mediator, perhaps the Russians could do the job, or perhaps the Vatican. And it would take some kind of deal where there's some kind of surrender of the Iraqi forces. There's perhaps some kind of amnesty offered, perhaps some kind of safe passage out of the country.

Now that would be a bitter pill to swallow to have Saddam Hussein leave but would it be worth saving tens of thousands of lives and sparing Baghdad? Might be.

BLITZER: You know when that idea was floated a couple days ago perhaps you have Yevgeny Primakov, the former Soviet envoy to Baghdad, coming up with some sort of cease fire. The Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, just flatly said that is not happening. That's simply out of the cards.

Are there any precedents, as far as you know, when there's been such an entrenched position on one side namely the Bush administration and yet in the end they are open to some sort of negotiated deal?

URY: It does happen for sure. I mean it happened with Mengistu in Ethiopia. It happened with Edi Amin in Uganda. It happened with Duvalier in Haiti. In all those cases, the dictators said they would never leave. The other side said there was no chance. And in fact a deal was worked out.

And it's a real choice. Do we want to trade American lives, Iraqi lives for the possibility of having Iraq in which Saddam is out. We win a major victory. It's a victory for the world. And I think that's a real choice. I think there may be others rather than Rumsfeld that may take a different take on that.

BLITZER: Well, do you think that Saddam Hussein - let's go to the other side, that Saddam Hussein who had every opportunity to negotiate his exile before the war that he might now reconsider?

URY: I think there are three reasons to think that he might. One is before the war he didn't know for sure that he would lose. I mean he - now he can see that he's encircled, that he will lose. In fact, he'll lose power. He may lose his life.

The second thing is that he can now say that he's acquitted himself with bravery that his forces have withstood this great military super power for as long as it did.

And the third reason is that he often refers to the destruction, the utter destruction of Baghdad in 1258 by the Mongols. And what a tragedy it was. And maybe he could say look, I'm going to spare the great city of Baghdad, the people of Iraq the recurrence of the same tragedy and take an exit and claim it as a victory, as he would.

BLITZER: Professor Ury of Harvard University, thanks for joining us. Very interesting.

Anderson, back to you. ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, CNN CENTER: Thanks, Wolf.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, CNN CENTER: Well, to get a better understanding of the situation let's assume that Saddam Hussein may not be in control. Let's also assume that those who are know they are in the end game. Knowing defeat is certain, what options are left for them?

First, the military, for that we turn to Miles O'Brien at the CNN military desk.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN, MILITARY CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much Anderson.

And I'm joined by Retired General David Grange of the United States Army to talk about what military options are left for Saddam Hussein right now.

We saw some pictures of Saddam Hussein reportedly shot recently from supposedly with his two sons, Uday and Qusay. And I'm curious what those conversations are about. What are the options that are left before him? What's number one on your list of possibilities General Grange?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), U. S. ARMY: You know Miles, first of all these are old tapes so I don't think he's talking about any possibilities. And I think it's command and control degradation that was talked about earlier, is the problem they have.

His options left, if he in fact can put out orders or his representative put out orders, is possibly the use of chem/bio, chemical weapons maybe on the airport. A lot of the areas he's restricted now where he could employ those chemical weapons.

The other is to continue to use civilians, civilians as running road blocks, strap of demolitions, or civilians as cover especially large numbers of civilians. Thousands of civilians used to move towards U.S. or British positions with armed personnel behind them.

The other is to go ahead and continue to blend in with the civilian infrastructure and conduct urban operations, paramilitary type operations like they're doing in Basra right now.

O'BRIEN: And the theory on each of those cases would be to, number one, delay. And number two, incur casualties among the coalition forces on the hope that the U.S. might walk away. Because the U.S. public wouldn't tolerate that. A lot of miscalculations in there I suspect.

GRANGE: Yes. You know, these unlawful techniques, using civilians against coalition forces, they work. And the coalition forces has a tough time dealing with it because the coalition forces are - do not want to take civilian life unnecessarily. They won't hesitate if they have to protect their own people. But they don't want to take other lives that are not combatants. So it is tough on the coalition forces not to do that. You know, what they could do what the regime whoever's in charge, if he has the power to communicate, could do is contaminate let's say sectors of Baghdad with biological weapons like Shiite or Kurdish neighborhoods. And cause a disaster where humanitarian assistance would be required, a catastrophe would occur. It would slow down coalition efforts and really cause some problems in the civilian population.

O'BRIEN: Let's go back. We've got a quick animation. I want to talk about the possibility of chemical weapons. Let's look at this animation we put together. And what it shows as you zoom down here is a couple of artillery pieces. The artillery pieces send off chemical tipped warheads.

The key point here is that in this scenario, and in most chemical weapon scenarios, there's a good bit of distance between the entity that is launching and the entity, in this case, receiving. Are chemical weapons really likely as this moves into urban warfare, close-combat type scenario?

GRANGE: Well, I don't think so Miles. I believe that on the outskirts weapons could be fired at coalition forces. They would only get a few rounds off before the coalition counter battery capability would take down mortar artillery or rocket-fire positions that were putting out these ammunitions. So they wouldn't get much out I don't believe. And it's tough again in the cities but they could hide artillery. They could hide mortars that possibly could have chemical warheads, and so that possibility does exist.

O'BRIEN: All right. General David Grange, retired U.S. Army, always appreciate your insights. Thanks very much.

COOPER: So far we've looked at the possible military as well as diplomatic strategies for Saddam's regime, if any. Next, the strategic bid for public opinion, despite signs of the contrary, Iraq continues to deny it is losing the war.

How is that message playing in the Arab media and on the Arab street? For that we're joined by Mamoun Fandy. He is professor of politics at Georgetown University and a columnist for the London-based pan-Arab daily "Al-Sharq al-Awsat".

Mr. Fandy, thank you very much for being with us. First of all, we keep seeing these press conferences, these statements by the Information Minister. Why this bid for public opinion? I mean if the end game is in sight, why are they still trying to appeal the public opinion?

MAMOUN FANDY, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I think they're just trying to bring everybody else down with them if they go down. It's really an attempt at exporting the war beyond the boundaries of Iraq.

But I think what's amazing, Anderson, the big story despite all of this is that even none of - I mean on balance, none of the American soft targets have been attacked by any of these demonstrators throughout the Arab world. I think there is a lot of maybe anti- Americanism, but you shouldn't translate this as love of Saddam.

Anti-war, it is not really love of Saddam. I mean there is - there is big feelings in the region but Saddam is not really loved. Even, I mean, there are lots of jokes about his Information Minister Al-Sahaf and his appearances on Al Jazeera.

COOPER: Well, it's interesting that you say there are jokes about it. Because I'm curious, I mean how - I mean when - I think when Americans see those press conferences, see those statements, many find them almost laughable. They're so - it's like the man in the Wizard of Oz who's saying you know don't look at the man behind the curtain. Do these things play in the Arab world any better?

FANDY: I think they play only to a very specific limited population. I mean people in the Arab world have seen the record of Saddam Hussein up close. They looked at it. They know what Saddam is all about. I mean they also - many of them live under similar sometimes varying degrees of repressive conditions so they really understand all of this. So many people that you see sometimes make fun of all of this and say well you know, according Sahaf there is no war in Iraq.

COOPER: Yeah. I mean you know we heard before statements that there was ring of steel around Baghdad. You know it turned about to be sort of a ring of steel wool if anything. So it's interesting that it does not, I guess, as you're saying play out as well in the Arab world, as perhaps they would like it to.

FANDY: I think sometimes we confuse Al Jazeera coverage of the war and what the Arab world receives. Arab people - I mean they are very cynical. They've been lied to for so long. And they just don't believe that very easily.

So only the active segment that you see it on the screens of some Arab channels, but I think the, as I said, on balance. We haven't seen even -- despite all this big war -- we haven't seen one single American being killed in an Arab capital or being hurt.

COOPER: We had seen in the last couple of days a lot of stories coming out of Jordan, for instance, about people from other countries. Other nationals who wanted to go to Iraq. It was sort of ambivalent or unclear whether they were going to fight or have Jihad, in their words, or simply go care for their families. But that didn't - I mean it seemed to materialize as a story in the media, in particularly the Arab media. It didn't really seem to materialize on the ground as an effective weapon.

FANDY: I mean that's really the whole point. As I tell you, I think we really need to look at what's happening on the ground. And the selective footage that you see throughout is not necessarily the feelings throughout the Arab world.

As I say, you know, there are plenty of people who are anti-war like anywhere else. But really that does not translate love for Saddam. There is anti-Americanism, but it does not translate as love for Saddam and his regime. It is really - it's a very cynical public there. So don't confuse the image with the reality in terms of what you see on Al Jazeera versus what people actually do.

COOPER: All right. Mamoun Fandy at Georgetown University, I appreciate it. It's good to talk to you. Thanks very much.

FANDY: Thank you, Anderson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As we told you earlier, the team that rescued Jessica Lynch also found the bodies of nine other soldiers, eight of them members of Lynch's unit. All were from the 507th Maintenance Company based at Fort Bliss in Texas. CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us now live from Fort Bliss.

Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, military officials describe the scene as Special Forces dropped into the hospital where Jessica Lynch was being held on Wednesday. And they described how, as Jessica Lynch pointed out to them, were the bodies of the soldiers of the 507th Maintenance Company. Where they described how the Special Forces went in there and dug them out of graves with their bare hands, perhaps comforting news to the families tonight that are dealing with an intense loss. And we've heard from many of them today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: War is grim and ugly and not without cost. Today is a day of remembering with honor Marine Lance Corporal Eric Orlowski.

(INAUDIBLE) died in defense of the country. And they died protecting and defending the values we cherish and enjoy today, but freedom does cost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was the worst part for them. They got really tired of waiting and worrying and everything but now she's going to be coming home.

WAYLAND PIESTEWA, BROTHER OF LORI ANN PIESTEWA: She will not be forgotten and it gives us comfort to know that she is at peace right now. We are very proud of Lori. Our family is very proud of her. She is our hero. We are continuing to believe that. We're going to hold that in our hearts forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He always told me to never give up on things and I've always admired him a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The price of liberty and the price of freedom is always a major sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chad was a good candidate for the Marine Corps. He was gung-ho in everything he did. He gave 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the kind of kid you'd like to have around because he was full of energy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And may we never forget that behind each man there is a story of a life, a story of hopes, dreams and loved ones.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: Now the members of the military family here at Fort Bliss, Texas are planning a memorial service next Friday for the members of the 507th Maintenance Company. And right now officials here, Wolf, are saying that that will be open to the public.

Wolf?

BLITZER: This company, they were cooks. They were mechanics. They were not front-line infantry or commandos or anything. They just made a wrong turn, got caught up in an ambush. What are they saying at Fort Bliss about the readiness, the preparation that these troops had in going off to war?

LAVANDERA: Well, they approached that from several different fronts. They haven't talked a lot about the specifics as to what exactly happened to the 507th Maintenance Company. But they do say that they should have been outfitted with the weaponry that any other soldier would have been outfitted with as well.

But they also do say, and this is also based on several conversations I've had with family members, they say that most of the family members never expected these soldiers to be close to the front lines. As you said, they were maintenance folks helping out the troops on the front lines to be able to do their jobs better. So they're extremely shocked, some family members, to find out that they were that far into Iraq to begin with.

BLITZER: All right. Ed Lavandera, the sad Fort Bliss Texas, thanks very much.

That's all the time we have for War in Iraq live from the front lines. I'll be back tomorrow Noon Eastern for a special Late Edition. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Kuwait City. Good night, Anderson.

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


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