CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Live From the Front Lines
Aired April 7, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight from a war in Iraq, the search for Iraq's chemical weapons, and perhaps a smoking gun.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a liquid chemical, but it hasn't been put in a delivery means or anything that could be dispersed against our soldiers.
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ANNOUNCER: Coalition forces crash through the doors of Iraq's old regime, giving the world a tour of Saddam's palaces.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The detail on some of the paneling is magnificent. Somebody spent a lot of time and a lot of Saddam's money.
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ANNOUNCER: President Bush arrives in Northern Ireland to plan Iraq's future.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to have a government which is of, for and by Iraqis.
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ANNOUNCER: Live from Baghdad, Washington, Kuwait City, New York, Belfast, and cities around the globe, WAR IN IRAQ: LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES, with Paula Zahn in New York and Wolf Blitzer in Kuwait City.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome. It is just after 3:00 a.m. in Baghdad. Flashes occasionally light up the skyline, proof that even though the U.S. Army has come to town, the fighting is still not over. I'm Paula Zahn in New York. My colleague, Wolf Blitzer, is in Kuwait City. Wolf, good evening.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Paula. For the third straight day, U.S. forces have now penetrated into central Baghdad. But instead of withdrawing at nightfall, sources tell CNN members of the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division plan to spend the night inside the Iraqi capital. I'll have much more on Baghdad coming up in just a few minutes -- Paula.
ZAHN: And, Wolf, we begin tonight with a disturbing find about 60 miles south of Baghdad at an agricultural site near Karbala. U.S. forces discovered what might be a stash of nerve and blister agents inside barrels in underground bunkers. They also could be pesticides. But tests are being done to determine if they're something far more ominous. For the details and their significance, here is CNN's Ryan Chilcote.
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soldiers from the 101st Airborne have been inspecting two sites for the presence of chemical agents. The first site an agricultural complex where they found a large weapons cache three days ago and also behind a building at that compound they also found two bunkers with several drums with some kind of chemical inside.
Well, today they brought the Fuchs vehicle, a very sophisticated sensitive vehicle for testing for the presence of chemical agents out there and got positives back for both blister agents and nerve agents. They're still not sure what they have, so they brought, bringing in another team of experts from the U.S. Army's 5th Corp. It is possible to get a false positive from pesticides. We spoke a short while ago with 101st General Benjamin Freakly about this issue, what did they find. This is what he had to say.
GEN. BENJAMIN FREAKLY, U.S. ARMY: This could be either some type of pesticide because this wasn't an agricultural compound, and the literature talked about dealing with mosquitoes and other type of airborne vermin. And was right along the Euphrates River, very close to the Euphrates River. But on the other hand, it could be a chemical agent, not weaponized.
CHILCOTE: That's not the only place they're testing. They've been testing at a military training complex in the same area. Sunday morning a group of U.S. Soldiers that were guarding that area said they felt sick. Among other things at that training complex they found a large number of chemical protective suits. That's why the 101st came in and did a series of test, testing for nerve agents. So far they don't believe there's anything more than insecticide in that area. The 101st saying those soldiers probably felt sick from heat exhaustion, because they've been on a long road march that day. All of the soldiers now say that they are feeling fine.
Ryan Chilcote, CNN, with the 101st Airborne, near Karbala, Iraq.
BLITZER: Coalition officials say the Iraqi general known as Chemical Ali is dead. A British military spokesman says the body of General Ali Hassan al Majid was discovered in Basra in the rubble of his bombed out home. The general was a cousin of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He was called Chemical Ali because he allegedly used poison gas on Kurds during fighting in northern Iraq in 1988 -- Paula.
ZAHN: Wolf, our next stop could not be more of a contrast with the horrors of an Iraqi torture chamber. U.S. forces today took over Saddam Hussein's main palace in Baghdad. The show of force was designed to let the Iraqi people see that the old regime is being conquered. It also showed the world the utter extravagance in which the Iraqi leader lived. It is the same story in Basra. British forces battered down the doors of a little used but incredibly luxurious palace. We're going to get a walking tour in a little bit -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Paula. Back in Baghdad, yet another bit of symbolism. A 40-foot tall statue of Saddam Hussein astride a horse has become a Baghdad landmark, but no more. Embedded journalist Ron Martz of "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" was on the phone with Anderson Cooper earlier today when the U.S. forces put the statue on the ground.
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RON MARTZ, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Hang on just a second. It sounds like -- I don't know if you can hear that, Anderson, but that was the end of Saddam's statue. They hit it right in the horse's legs and it toppled over. Troops here are cheering. It was a tank round that hit it. Some machine gun fire, and the statue is gone.
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BLITZER: Saddam Hussein's regime still retains control of at least one important symbol of power, state-run Iraqi television and radio. They both continue broadcasting emotional appeals to resist U.S. forces.
Let's get the latest now from Baghdad. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is joining us from along the Jordanian- Iraqi border. Nic, what is the latest?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, perhaps for the residents of Baghdad, still a lot of concerns about the bombing, even though it seems to have slowed down to a degree overnight. Just before dusk in a residential area, an up market residential area, just to the west of the center of the city, an explosion went off. Journalists were taken out there by Iraq's Ministry of Information. They found a huge crater, some about 20 feet deep, 25, 30 feet across. Buildings within about 100 feet or so of the crater had been destroyed, and residents of that neighborhood said nine people had been killed, 13 were injured. We were unable to independently verify those figures.
But according to those residents, they say a coalition aircraft flew overhead, then there was a loud explosion. Certainly those residents believing the explosion caused by a coalition bomb.
Residents of Baghdad today also surprised, we are told, that Iraq's Republican Guard has not done a better job of keeping the coalition forces out of the center of the city. Today, U.S. tanks, APCs went into the presidential palaces. Republican Guards were to be seen on the banks of the Tigris river right by that presidential palace ditching their uniforms and swimming across the river.
Now, we have heard from some -- we have heard from sources in Baghdad that they believe a number of Republican Guard members are beginning to quit their posts, put down their weapons and leave the army.
Also, we've heard from Iraq's minister of information who's talked about these incursions into the city by the U.S. military, saying that these were being put down, these were temporary incursions. Iraq was defeating them. Indeed, he said U.S. soldiers were committing suicide.
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MOHAMMED SAEED AL-SAHAF (through translator): I will not mention the number of the people killed from their troops, or what has been destroyed. The battle is still going on, and I can say -- and you can actually mark it for me, you can record it for me -- they are beginning to commit suicides on the walls of Baghdad. And we will, in fact, encourage them to commit more suicides.
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ROBERTSON: But even some of the press officials who work for the Ministry of Information are now beginning to doubt his words. The evidence there in front of them. Certainly residents of Baghdad feeling very much the same way. The government line just hard to believe at this time, Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson reporting for us on the latest in the Iraqi capital. Nic, thanks very much.
There are still plenty of dangers out there. Two U.S. Marines were killed in a bridge near Baghdad earlier today. They were in an armored personnel carrier that was hit by Iraqi fire. The bridge was damaged so severely, U.S. forces had to destroy it. CNN cameras recorded this exclusive video of the bridge when the Marines blew it up. The structure spanned a canal near the Tigris river. Military engineers, by the way, quickly built a temporary bridge to replace it -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks, Wolf. Mosul is the largest Iraqi city remaining under Iraqi control. It has been the target of repeated aerial attacks. U.S.-led troops hold a strategic ridge between Mosul and Kirkuk and CNN's Jane Arraf reports that troops are advancing with little resistance.
An Iraqi opposition group, the London-based Iraqi National Congress has now joined the war against Saddam Hussein. Hundreds of its fighters have arrived in Nasiriyah where they will serve under U.S. command. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports that the group may end up playing a significant role in post-war Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. forces sit on Saddam Hussein's palace doorstep in Baghdad, even as the controversy surrounding a post-war Iraq begins to take shape. Ahmed Chalabi, the longtime head of the opposition Iraqi National Congress, suddenly turned up in southern Iraq this weekend, with more than 600 so-called Iraqi freedom fighters, exiles and opposition troops ferried in by the Pentagon, men who will form the core of a post-war Iraqi military, even before the old one is defeated.
Many people believe the U.S. is positioning Chalabi, who has limited support inside Iraq, to become an interim post-war leader. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denied it.
QUESTION: Do you endorse Ahmed Chalabi for any role...
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: That's what I just said, that the Iraqi people are going to make these decisions. Clearly the United States is not going to impose a government on Iraq.
STARR: An Iraqi interim authority is being established by the Pentagon. Officials insist it is not a post-war government, but a group of approved Iraqis that will run non-controversial government agencies, such as the Agricultural Ministry. It will also work on new laws and an electoral process. Too soon to say who will exactly participate.
RUMSFELD: The Iraqi people are going to sort out what their Iraqi government ought to look like. And that is very clear.
STARR: At the core is the Pentagon's reconstruction and humanitarian assistance program, run by retired Army Lieutenant General Jay Garner, now in Kuwait, expected to move to Iraq within days with dozen of U.S. personnel who will fan out across Iraqi government agencies and take charge. U.S. personnel already earmarked to run finance, oil and intelligence.
(on camera): The Pentagon says it will run post-war Iraq. But Congress may withhold money, saying it is a job for the State Department. And the United Nations says its money and influence are vital.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
ZAHN: And later, during our next half hour, we will take a closer look at the question of who should run post-war Iraq -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Paula. Here are the latest casualty figures out of Iraq. The Pentagon says 89 Americans have died, 73 of them in hostile action and 16 in what's called non-hostile action. Seven Americans are listed as missing in action. Seven more are considered prisoners of war. The British Defense Ministry says 30 Britons have been killed, nine in hostile action, 19 in non-hostile incidents and two undetermined. Iraq has released no information on military losses. Iraqi TV says 420 civilians have been killed and 4,000 have been injured -- Paula.
ZAHN: Wolf, coming up in LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES, an amazing behind the scenes look at how Saddam Hussein really lived. Take a walk through one of the Iraqi leader's extravagant palaces. A palace he might only spend a night or two at.
But next we're going to go live to Northern Ireland where the future of Iraq could be riding on a vital meeting between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We could be getting a clearer picture soon of who is going to have a say in shaping Iraq after the war. Our senior White House correspondent John King is joining us live from Belfast, Northern Ireland, where President Bush is holding a brief but important summit -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, about 20 hours of discussions in all. They began tonight with an informal dinner. The White House releasing a photo of the British prime minister and President Bush taking a quick walk outside of Hillsborough Castle on the outskirts of Belfast. The two leaders discussing the battle efforts in and around Baghdad, but mostly spending their time looking ahead to post-war Iraq. Both have agreed we are told tonight on a very important role for the United Nations in providing humanitarian assistance, in joining the reconstruction effort, but the White House holding fast in saying the United Nations will not take the lead role in a post-Iraq government. That has been a concern, the source of some tension between the two governments in recent weeks. The British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon making clear just this morning that it is critically important to Britain that the United Nations have a big role when the shooting stops.
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GEOFFREY HOON, BRITISH DEFENSE MINISTER: It is absolutely clear that we want to see U.N. authority for the operations there, in exactly the way that we did in operations in Afghanistan. But as far as maintaining security in the immediate aftermath of a conflict, it is obviously right and best that that should be carried out by those forces on the ground who are aware of the security threats, who are aware of the risks and who are in the best position to safeguard people and indeed themselves.
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KING: As Mr. Bush arrived here, his aides said that negotiations between Secretary of State Powell and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan over the weekend went quite well. Secretary-General Annan today talking about a major U.N. role but not the lead role, and even if you listen to what Geoff Hoon, the British defense minister, said in his remarks, he wants U.N. authority for the operations in post-war Iraq. That could be the Security Council blessing that the United States and Great Britain will seek, not U.N. management. The White House is adamant that the United Nations will not manage a post-Saddam Iraq. The United States will do that first, and then it says as quickly as possible, it will turn power over to an interim Iraqi authority. A U.S. team going into Iraq this week to try to lay the ground work for that authority to take hold in some parts of Iraq, perhaps even before the shooting stops in Baghdad -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We'll be watching. John King reporting from the summit in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Thanks, John. Paula, back you to.
ZAHN: Thanks, Wolf. U.S. forces continue to push to tighten their control of Baghdad. We'll have the very latest on what is taking place just ahead. And then, some of the most interesting pictures of the day. David Bowden takes us on a tour of one of Saddam Hussein's palatial residences.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps ironic given what's happened is that a white dove of peace on Saddam's wall. Who know.
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ZAHN: It's been another important day on the battlefield. And for those looking increasingly toward a post-war Iraq, CNN's Renay San Miguel brings us some of the day's highlights.
RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN ANCHOR: 12:06 p.m., CNN's Martin Savidge reports that U.S. Marines destroyed a bridge over a canal near the Tigris river. The bridge was damaged during a battle that killed two U.S. Marines when their armored personnel carrier was hit by Iraqi artillery.
12:07, explosions light up the skies in Baghdad. CNN cannot confirm whether the blasts were coming from the ground or the air.
2:10 p.m., at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that the U.S. does not intend to indefinitely administer Iraq. But he gave no estimate on how long it might be before an Iraqi-run interim government would be put in charge.
2:36 p.m., CNN's Ryan Chilcote reports that U.S. troops have found what may be chemical weapons agents at an agricultural complex in central Iraq. Samples have been taken but no conclusive determination has been made.
4:10 p.m., ITN's Bill Neely reports that Basra is free tonight, but some of it is burning. While looters ransacked much of the city earlier today, the British troops have restored order.
5:13 p.m., CNN's Nic Robertson reports that some Republican Guards were seen jumping into the Tigris river near the presidential palace when the U.S. troops were inside. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: CNN's Renay San Miguel reporting. The city of Basra in southeast Iraq is criss-crossed by canals and was once known as the Venice of the East. Now British forces have taken the city and report there is very little opulence to be found, except, except at one location. Embedded reporter David Bowden takes us through Saddam Hussein's Basra palace.
DAVID BOWDEN, BRITISH CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Come with me and let me show you what Saddam Hussein has spent some of his smuggled oil revenue on. This, remember, just one of his palaces here in Basra.
We go through the big, heavy, front door and into a vast entrance hallway. On the floor, as every where throughout, marble flooring and intricate detailing. And as we move towards the stairs, you can see, throughout the house, more marble, more beautiful woodwork, beautiful paneling. Every tread on the stairs is marble, as far as I can work out.
The detail on some of the paneling is magnificent. Some body spent a lot of time and a lot of Saddam's money on detailing all of this beautiful, beautiful marketry (ph).
As we move around the corner, the crunch of glass. When the military came in here, they weren't to know that there was no opposition. But when they got here, Saddam wasn't at home.
Again, perhaps ironic, given what's there are white doves of peace on Saddam's walls -- who knows?
Moving further up, again, you're taken in just by the vast size of the area of this place. But for me, the best part of this house, the most beautiful part of this house -- roof space. Beautiful stained glass, intricate tile work, pastel colors.
As you move through, again, the openness, again, there's not a stick of furniture in this hose at all. Nobody has lived here, certainly not in the last few months, I suspect -- probably never. But if you wanted to go to the loo while you were here, there's one for every room -- and not just any old toilet: This is what passes as a W.C. in Saddam's house. I'm no expert, but these fittings look to be made of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), if not the real McCoy all the way through.
BLITZER: Embedded reporter David Bowden with that report. Pretty amazing stuff. Just ahead, we'll take a quick look at some of the other news of the day, including a race against time to stop the spread of a mysterious and sometimes deadly illness. Experts grapple with how to treat SARS and where it is going to turn up next. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen will join us live right after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAHN: In other news this evening, the economic toll from the illness known as SARS is mounting. Continental Airlines is now suspending direct flights between New York and Hong Kong. SARS continues to puzzle experts as the human toll rises. For that, let's go live to medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, who joins us from CNN center in Atlanta with the very latest. Hi, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Paula. Paula, as you said, the SARS epidemic goes on, and the nation's top doctors told Congress today, don't expect things to improve anytime soon.
COHEN (voice-over): In just three days, this virus has done some serious damage. On Friday, 115 Americans were reported to have SARS. Monday's count, 148. And the nation's top SARS experts told Congress today it's probably going to get worse before it gets better.
DR. JULIE GERBERDING, CDC DIRECTOR: We have to be prepared for this to continue to spread.
COHEN: They expect to see more cases because Americans continue to travel to China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam, even though the U.S. advises against it. The Centers for Disease Control hands out warnings about SARS when people leave for those countries and when they return. In Canada and Hong Kong, the epidemic has become so bad that they quarantined thousands of people.
That's not necessary in the United States, experts told senators today, because so far the disease has not spread very much here. Of the 148 sick people, 140 are first generation cases, people who traveled from Asia and brought the bug back with them. Those 140 have spread it to only eight others, all family members or health care workers who had close contact with the travelers. Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC, said quarantining might become necessary in the future.
GERBERDING: ... if we see ongoing spread. For example, if we get into a situation like Canada, where there is widespread transmission within a hospital, we will act quickly because we know what will happen if we don't.
COHEN: And what about a treatment for SARS?
GERBERDING: This is a new virus and we don't have things on the shelf that we know are effective.
COHEN: The National Institutes of Health is working on a vaccine against the cause of SARS, a never before seen strain of the corona virus. Only about three or four out of every 100 people with SARS die, and there have been no deaths reported in the United States.
COHEN: Two deaths in Canada this weekend brought the national death toll there to nine -- Paula.
ZAHN: Certainly scary to listen to all those statistics. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for the update.
We are going to go to the CNN newsroom for an update on the war headlines in just a minute. And then in our next half hour, we will debate some important questions about Iraq's future. And here with a preview are two of the hosts of CNN's "CROSSFIRE", Paul Begala and Robert Novak. Good evening.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Good evening, Paula. It looks like just a matter of time until Saddam Hussein is gone. Well, after he's gone, though, who should run Iraq? Should the United States go it alone? And how long will we be there?
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well I'll tell you who shouldn't govern Iraq, and that's the United Nations and France. We'll debate it all coming up in "CROSSFIRE."
(AT THIS HOUR)
ZAHN: In just a few minutes, the undersecretary general of the United Nations will be joining me here in the studio. He will take on the question of who should be running the new Iraq.
We'll also tell you about a man who could be a leading figure in Iraq's political future. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And welcome back. As we told you earlier, the Iraqi National Congress says hundreds of its members have joined the campaign against Saddam Hussein. The INC's Ahmad Chalabi is the most prominent and arguably the most controversial of the opposition leaders.
ZAHN (voice-over): The surprising arrival of Iraqi opposition leader Ahmed Chalabi to the southern town of Nasiriya could signal the Pentagon's plan for the future of Iraq. The 58-year-old has been favored by Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but opposed by the State Department and the CIA, who say Chalabi is an unreliable collaborator with only a limited support in Iraq.
Chalabi, a U.S.-educated former banker, is a charismatic and a controversial character. In 1992, he was try and convicted in absentia by a Jordanian court for bank fraud. Chalabi maintains he was framed in a Baghdad-backed plot against him.
Chalabi has been in exile for nearly four decades. In 1992, he founded the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella group for Iraqi opposition groups. He has not been in Iraq since 1968, except for a brief period in the mid 1990s, when the INC, with help from Washington, unsuccessfully tried to organize a coup against Saddam Hussein. Chalabi claims he has no designs on leadership.
AHMAD CHALABI, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS: I'm not a candidate for any position in Iraq and I don't seek an office. I think my role ends with the liberation of the country.
ZAHN: Ahmad Chalabi may or may not be a player in post-war Iraq. Who decides? Well that question is being played out tonight from Baghdad to Belfast to Berlin, and it underscores some rifts that have already developed. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan says he expects the United Nations to play an important role.
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KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: You have seen the work U.N. has done in human rights and in the area of rule of law. So there are lots of areas U.N. can play a role. But above all, the U.N. involvement does bring legitimacy which is necessary, necessary for the country. And as we've said before, Iraqis have to be responsible for their political future and to control their own natural resources.
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ZAHN: And joining me now to talk more about what happens after the fighting is Shashi Tharoor. He is undersecretary general at the U.N. It's an honor to have you with us this evening.
SHASHI THAROOR, U.N. UNDERSECRETARY GENERAL: It's good to be here, Paula.
ZAHN: CNN has learned from senior administration officials that the British prime minister and President Bush believes that there is some kind of an advisory role in the U.N.'s future in terms of this Iraqi situation. And according to what we've been told, the U.N. would only be permitted to assist in humanitarian aid and reconstruction. It would not play a political or administrative role in the new Iraq. Is that satisfactory to you?
THAROOR: We're waiting hear, of course, what comes out of this talk and indeed what the Security Council is going to agree to do. The humanitarian work we're going to do anyway. We have U.N. agencies with an extraordinary track record already active in Iraq.
UNICEF helping children, getting water in. The World Food Program bringing food to the hungry and a high commission (ph) of the refugees. These agencies will do their work anyway. But anything beyond the humanitarian requires the authority of the Security Council, requires an actual mandate. And that means whatever these two leaders decide, they're going to have to persuade 13 other members of the Security Council to bless before we at the U.N. can do anything.
ZAHN: Well let's talk about the leader of the U.N. He expressed today that he sees an important role for the U.N. in post-war Iraq. What does he mean by that? Can you qualify for us or characterize what "important" is?
THAROOR: Well, important I think in this case is that we do have a great number of roles that the U.N. could play, short of ruling Iraq, which is not something that we are in the business of looking for at the moment. What we're talking about is the United Nations Security Council as a body that provides legitimacy to any action.
The secretary general particularly mentioned that. In the context, of course, of stressing that ultimately it is the people of Iraq who are responsible for Iraq, and it is their destiny that they should be allowed to determine. What the U.N. can do, however, varies.
If you look back on the principle that the best crystal ball is a rear view mirror, and you look back at the last two or three operations we have been involved in post-conflict situations, you have a situation like Kosovo, where NATO ran the military and the security work and the U.N. ran the civil administration. You also (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Afghanistan, where the U.N. does not run the civil administration but was involved in the political process that created the interim Afghan government, later the official Afghan government, headed by President Karzai. And there the U.N. played purely an advisory role.
These are two models. There could be a third. East Timor is another example, which is much more ambitious and it's certainly a larger role than I think anyone has in mind right now.
There could be a fourth or a fifth model. It all depends on what countries can agree that the U.N. should do. There is the legitimacy issue and there is also the operational issue. We cannot get into reconstruction or governance without a Security Council mandate.
ZAHN: Just 15 seconds left. Do you think in the end whatever is decided upon by these political leaders in northern Ireland tomorrow will be satisfactory to members of the U.N. Security Council?
THAROOR: I think they're going to have to persuade the other members. This is something in which there have been divisions. We hope that the Council will find unity on this question of how to move forward. No one wants to see the United Nations continuing to be divided over Iraq.
ZAHN: Shashi Tharoor, thank you very much for dropping by this evening. We appreciate your time.
THAROOR: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: We'll look forward to keeping track of where this all goes.
Back to you, Wolf, now.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula. Let's get a little bit more now on how the new Iraq could take shape. Joining me here with her insight, Jane Perlez, a correspondent for "The New York Times." Jane, thanks very much.
Not far from where we are now, there in effect is a shadow government getting ready to move into Iraq, take charge under the command of retired General Jay Garner. How big of a deal is that?
JANE PERLEZ, "NEW YORK TIMES" CORRESPONDENT: Well I think it is quite a big deal. These are the people charged with winning the peace. They're actually sending their first person into southern Iraq in a couple of hours' time. General Buck Walters (ph), who is supposed to be in charge of southern Iraq, is moving in with about a dozen people to set up shop in the port of Umm Qasr.
BLITZER: And they're going to have people from all sorts of branches of the U.S. government from Commerce, Agriculture, State, Defense effectively -- over the next several months at least -- running the show.
PERLEZ: That's right. And there are some questions about some parts of that show. For example, the police.
There is now some thought that the police in Iraq are not exactly the kind of people you want to have as the police. And who is going to decide who the new police will be? So that's one of the first tasks of General Buck Walters (ph) when he goes into southern Iraq.
BLITZER: It's interesting. The chain of command goes General Garner, retired, will report to General Franks, who reports to the defense secretary, who reports to the president. So it is really the Defense Department that is taking the lead in all of this.
PERLEZ: This is definitely a Pentagon show, much to the chagrin of the State Department, and I think much to the chagrin of the United States -- I mean of the United Nations. The United Nations, as we all know, would like to have a bigger say. And I think some of the exiles would also like the United Nations to have a bigger say so that it doesn't look like an American imperial.
BLITZER: All right. Jane Perlez, thanks very much for your insight.
They're getting ready. There is a lot of Americans not far from where we are now getting ready to move into Iraq and take charge. In just a moment, the host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE" will weigh in on who should be running Iraq. But there is a twist. They also have some very definite ideas about who should not get a say, even after U.S. troops go home.
Stay with us.
NOVAK: Who will run post-war Iraq? Should the United States go it alone, or should the United Nations step in? That's our "CROSSFIRE" debate tonight with Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, and Congressman Pete King, Republican of New York -- Paul.
BEGALA: Congressman King, our president, as we speak, is in northern Ireland -- a place you're very familiar with -- meeting with the British prime minister. Our sources telling us, CNN sources, that they've agreed to an advisory role for the U.N. But it sounds very, very limited. Explain to the moms and dads in your district who have got sons and daughters over there why their kids are the ones who should man every checkpoint for every terrorist in Iraq for the future instead of other countries bearing that burden as well.
REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: Mainly because you can't trust the U.N. We saw with the U.N. what a terrible job they did in Bosnia when they had peacekeepers in there. We saw the way they totally fouled up the debate in the Security Council leading up to this.
The U.N. is capable of endless process and mindless psychobabble, but as far as getting the job done on the ground, I just don't see them doing it. So I think the safest way to protect our troops is to have the American, British and coalition forces in charge of it, at least for the time being.
NOVAK: Congresswoman Schakowsky, the countries doing the fighting and the dying in Iraq are the United States and the United Kingdom. They decided in northern Ireland, according to our CNN reporters, that the U.N. would only have an advisory role. Now surely you're not saying the U.S. and the Brits don't have the say, that the people who should decide what to do are the Germans and the French, who didn't want to fight?
REP. JANICE SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: With all due respect, that would be a very childish outcome, to say, well, we won it and now we own it. We're going to go in all by ourselves and we're going to set it up. And "we" being the Pentagon. Even the United States Congress thought that the State Department should be involved, but the Pentagon is moving ahead without really consulting with anybody in setting up the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the ground to run the show all by itself.
NOVAK: So the people who fight and die, you don't get any...
SCHAKOWSKY: What is the point? What are we trying to achieve? Are we trying to achieve democracy, are we trying to bring Iraq into the world community? We're trying to create peace in the Middle East and in the Gulf region?
If our goal is to own another country, then absolutely we should run it ourselves. But if we want to create stability in the world, then the time is now for us to bring in the international community.
BEGALA: Let me ask you about that, Congressman King. I was one of the people very critical of this policy going into it, but I always argued that this was not a war for oil. I never believed those who said that there was some sort of imperialist design. I thought there was an honest difference of how to best secure our national interests. Doesn't it look an awful lot like old-fashioned American imperialism if we don't let other countries in the world help to bring some peace and stability there and make every one of our kids face every one of the terrorists we know are going to be there, that the president tells us are in Iraq?
KING: Listen, I would love it if the U.N. was a stable force, if they had a proven track record in situations like this, but they really don't. Again, we saw in Bosnia -- we had U.N. peacekeepers tied to trees, being taken hostage. The fact is they don't have the type of deliberate and authoritative rule that I think is needed to get the job done.
BEGALA: So you're not worried that our troops...
KING: And I don't want to be in a position with France and Germany in trying to even the score during this reconstruction. Trying to get their contracts out, trying to prove that they were right all along.
BEGALA: But our troops are going in as liberators, our president says.
BEGALA: I believe him. Soon, though, they will become occupiers if your view and the president's view holds forth, because we won't have others sharing that burden. Aren't you worried about the burden of occupation?
KING: No, because I think we will be -- as far s the occupation over the years, sure, we can bring in other troops as it goes along. But in this first three, four, five-month period, I want to have -- I don't want to be opening it up to the French and Germans and running that risk of having them try to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Security Council.
SCHAKOWSKY: You're talking about track record. Let's talk to the Afghanis about track record and staying power of the United States. Or let's talk to the Kurds, who we deserted before.
The United States in fact does not have a great track record in reconstructing after we've gone in. And I think it is time now to bring in the...
NOVAK: Congresswoman, liberals like you always say we can't do anything right, the U.N. does it well. I wonder if you know a couple of facts. For example, the fact that Iraq was scheduled to take over the Disarmament Commission at the U.N. this week. They backed out because I think the guy who was supposed to take it over is in a basement in Baghdad.
KING: And Libya was going to head the Human Rights Commission.
NOVAK: No, Libya is a head of the Human Rights with a dictator, Khadafi. And you know how Libya got there? They bribed the other African countries with oil payments to elect them. Is that the kind of organization you have faith in?
SCHAKOWSKY: That it is not to say that the United States and Great Britain can't have a significant role in shaping what the rest of the international community will do. I'm saying that they don't -- you don't have to trust the United Nations. We can be a part of that process...
NOVAK: Isn't it a lousy organization, though?
SCHAKOWSKY: We can be part of that process to make sure -- look, this is the 21st century. Were (ph) we better as the United States help to build these international institutions...
KING: No, those institutions have to realize that we were right. France and Germany have been collaborators all along. So have the Russians with the Iraqis. They're the ones who have been subsidizing Saddam Hussein, and we shouldn't allow them to continue that.
SCHAKOWSKY: We're going to see unilateralism on steroids coming into this aftermath of Iraq.
KING: This is leadership of a coalition of the willing, not collaborators like the French and Germans and Russians.
BEGALA: Let's take a look at the leadership that President Bush has showed in Afghanistan. You know Will Rogers famously said the United States never lost a war or won a peace. We promised the Afghans...
KING: We certainly did with Germany and Japan. And we did in South Korea also.
BEGALA: But George W. Bush wasn't the president then, Harry Truman was. And we did rebuild those countries under Truman...
NOVAK: I thought Eisenhower was.
BEGALA: ... and then later Eisenhower. But President Bush promised the Afghans that he would rebuild their country.
Today in Iraq there is much devastation. Our troops are doing everything they can to limit civilian casualties, I know. But there is enormous devastation.
This is what today in The Associated Press, the brother of the Afghan president had to say. He's running southern Kandahar for his brother. He says, "What was promised to Afghans, with the collapse of the Taliban, was a new life of hope and change. But what was delivered? Nothing. Everyone in the Taliban is back in business."
So we -- President Bush turned his back on the Afghans. Why won't he turn his back on the Iraqis?
KING: Well, first, the situation in Afghanistan is much better than it was. But there is no comparison between Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq has a bureaucracy, Iraq has wealth. Iraq has an educated class of people who are positioned to come in and take over.
SCHAKOWSKY: And Iraq is going cost $20 billion a year. Should we do that all by ourselves?
KING: No, because Iraq also has the oil. And if the French and Germans and the Russians are going to be so cooperative, they can forgive the debt of what the Iraqis owe them: blood money that they made because of the Iraqis.
NOVAK: I want to get in a last question to you, Ms. Schakowsky. The last time you were on this program, before the war, you were very much opposed to going into there. But when you watch television and you see our young men and women doing a fabulous job, maybe some of them from your district in Chicago, going in to Saddam Hussein's gold bathroom and really taking over, don't you get a thrill out of that?
SCHAKOWSKY: Bob Novak, you were also not convinced about the wisdom of this war.
NOVAK: I'm asking you a question.
SCHAKOWSKY: And I think you were right. I think if we...
NOVAK: Did you get a thrill out of it or not? Did you get a thrill out of these...
SCHAKOWSKY: You know what? What I see, I see boys and girls, children, Iraqis and...
NOVAK: You don't get a thrill out of it?
SCHAKOWSKY: No, I see death and destruction.
NOVAK: OK. I thought you wouldn't.
SCHAKOWSKY: I see death and destruction.
BEGALA: That will have to be...
KING: I see liberation.
BEGALA: Congressman Peter King, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, thank you both very much.
SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.
KING: Thank you.
BEGALA: A fascinating discussion. This is not the last we will hear from Capitol Hill on this reconstruction effort. But now we want to turn back to Wolf Blitzer, who is live in Kuwait City -- Wolf. BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paul and Bob and your guests. It was an interesting discussion.
Up next, the war through others' eyes. See how the events of this day were reported in other countries around the world. Stay with us.
ZAHN: The war in Iraq is big news all over the world. But depending on where you live, you're get some interesting perspectives, to say the least, about what's going on. Here is Bruce Burkhardt with a recap of the past few days.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the early days of the war, television coverage from around the world of coalition successes or failures varied significantly. Now it seems most are reporting the same thing.
This French anchor speaks of the spectacular progress of the U.S. forces in Baghdad. And the same message on Canadian TV.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A relentless coalition push toward Baghdad nearly complete.
BURKHARDT: And on the Arab networks. Even though here Abu Dhabi is carrying an interview with the ever defiant Iraqi information minister who claims there are no U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, but later a visual contradiction to that. A report on fighting near the downtown Al Rasheed Hotel.
Still, the biggest difference between U.S. television and what the rest of the world is seeing is the civilian suffering. Arab audiences have seen lots of that. But today they also saw this on Al- Jazeera: an account from an Iraqi man of his torture at the hands of Saddam's loyalists. Such is Al-Jazeera's influence that their reach now extends beyond the Middle East.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Al-Jazeera TV reported that the U.S. military may have found a storage site for weapons of mass destruction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surprise appearance. Saddam Hussein shows up in the streets. Apparently he is alive and in charge.
BURKHARDT: This was a bit of a surprise on Canada's CBC. When Iraqi TV showed Saddam hitting the streets this CBC reporter took it at face value.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But today, the Iraqi leader appeared confident, in control and very much alive. It was a propaganda coup.
BURKHARDT: Of course the same story was reported in the U.S., but with the qualifier that there was no way of confirming that it was in fact Saddam or that the video was recent. No mention of that here. War, reality, and perception, as seen on TV. Bruce Burkhardt, CNN.
ZAHN: And in just a minute, we're going to start our special look at how the events of day 20 in the Iraq war unfolded -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Paula. And then separating fact from fiction. Pointers on sifting through all the sources of information about Iraq. Stay with us. "LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES" will be right back.
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