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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Jessica Lynch Press Conference

Aired April 8, 2003 - 05:00   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Let's get right to it with the latest developments at this hour. You can hear the gunfire. Parts of central Baghdad erupted into an urban battlefield early today with U.S. tanks and war planes taking on a high rise government building along the Tigris River. One of Al Jazeera's television reporters was killed by an air strike and a cameraman for Adu Dhabi Television narrowly escaped injury when his location was targeted.
Also, U.S. Marines went into an industrial area in southeast Baghdad looking for a fight and they got one. CNN's Martin Savidge, embedded with the Marines, says it's a sprawling area of warehouses. Marty reports the Marines had the area surrounded and had a detailed plan for routing out Iraqi fighters who have taken refuge there.

U.S. heavy bombers unleashed four tons of high explosives on a Baghdad site where Saddam Hussein, his sons and other Iraqi leaders may have been gathered. CENTCOM says the strike was based on intelligence apparently gained from informants. No confirmation on who was at the site, but sources in Baghdad say at least nine people were killed and 13 wounded.

The Pentagon has released video of the fatal blow delivered over the weekend against Iraqi leaders in Basra. The air strike targeted the home of Iraqi General Ali Hassan al-Majid. He is Saddam Hussein's cousin, nicknamed Chemical Ali, the man who allegedly ordered a devastating poison gas attack that killed 5,000 Iraqi Kurds in the north in 1988.

The Arab television station Al Jazeera says one of its journalists was killed when a U.S. air strike hit a Baghdad building housing Arab media. The journalist, identified as Tareq Ayoub, was carried away from the wreckage in a blanket. You see it there. Another Al Jazeera journalist was injured in the blast. The Pentagon denies it was targeting Al Jazeera.

The Palestine Hotel in downtown Baghdad came under fire, too, today. We have reports now a Spanish reporter was killed. The hotel is known primarily as the home base for many international journalists remaining in the city. Several other journalists were wounded by what appears to be a shell hitting the 15th floor. The source of this fire is not yet known.

And we'll soon hear from President Bush. He's in Northern Ireland now, meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The two leaders plan to announce an agreement on the U.N.'s role in post-war Iraq. Their joint news conference is set to begin about one hour from now at 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Of course, CNN will bring it to you live.

And we are now waiting for a news conference to begin shortly with Jessica Lynch's family. Of course, we'll bring you live coverage. Jessica's family is in Germany, where she's being treated for injuries she received when she was taken prisoner in Iraq. She was rescued in a daring raid last week.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A day of fierce firefights again, intense bombing in Baghdad, as coalition forces try again to tighten the noose around the city. The big question today: where is Saddam Hussein? Where are his two sons? Are they dead or are they alive? And was Saddam inside of a building targeted by a coalition air strike?

COSTELLO: And good morning to you.

It's Tuesday, April 8th.

From CNN's global headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Carol Costello -- good morning, Bill.

HEMMER: Carol, hello again.

I'm Bill Hemmer live here in Kuwait City.

As Carol just mentioned, we're standing by for that news conference from Private Jessica Lynch's family, Landstuhl, Germany. It's supposed to start any minute now and we'll get you there live once it does.

In the meantime, though, if you've been with us now, you know there's been some sort of firing at The Palestine Hotel, which is where the majority of international journalists are now housed in Baghdad.

The Pentagon and Chris Plante has a bit more information as to what's happening there -- Chris, what do you know?

CHRIS PLANTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Bill.

What we're hearing here is that the U.S. is saying that there was sniper fire coming from the hotel, at least one sniper, possibly more, and that is why the U.S. military responded. Apparently, from what we can tell -- and officials here are not confirming this because they're not certain -- but from what we've seen on the videotape, it appears that they responded with rounds from M-1 tanks to those locations where the sniper fire was originating.

And, again, they're saying at least one sniper, possibly more, and they returned fire. They're saying that they were not opening fire on the hotel because it was a hotel or a media center. They say that they specifically go to great lengths to not target civilians. But in this instance, with the sniper fire coming from the building, they did return fire in a defensive fashion -- Bill.

HEMMER: Chris, thanks. Chris Plante at the Pentagon.

Live to Landstuhl now in Germany.

Jessica Lynch, a very good reunion earlier in the week with members of her family. Her parents are there and so, too, are others.

Let's listen in now.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what kind of supporting the government has (UNINTELLIGIBLE) since this ordeal began?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: The government has gave all kinds of support to us. We just couldn't be more proud than what they are doing for us right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here, please?

QUESTION: Has your daughter been able to tell you much about her experiences in Iraq? (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: No. No, sir. We're just kind of letting her take her time at this and...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with NBC News.

Mr. and Mrs. Lynch, her injuries, are they what you expected when you saw her (UNINTELLIGIBLE) physically how did she appear to you as a mom and a dad (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: Her spirits was real high and we was really glad to see her condition because we was kind of figuring a lot worse. But it worked out real good for us.

QUESTION: Mom, do you think you could talk about that?

DEADRA LYNCH, JESSICA'S MOTHER: The same. She looks real good, real cheerful. So it was better than I expected, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here, please.

QUESTION: Mr. and Mrs. Lynch, Claire Shipman of ABC News.

When we last talked at your home in West Virginia, you all talked a lot about your faith and her faith. Have you talked to her about how much that might have helped her get through this ordeal?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: In a way, yes. When you lose faith and hope there's not just too much to go on. You've got to keep your faith and hope high.

QUESTION: Greg, can you talk about the difference of seeing her and talking with her and how nice it was to actually -- you knew she was OK and here, but then you're actually in the room with her -- could you talk about the difference that made for you and for Deadra?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: It really felt good once we seen her and seen the spirits she was in. We knew then she was going to be all right.

QUESTION: Is she talking to you about wanting to go home? Does she say anything about wanting to go home? And does she know how much the country is paying attention to her, how big, for lack of a better word, celebrity she has become?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: Not really. She just wants to go home. But I don't think reality has really hit her yet on, you know, on her.

QUESTION: Mr. Lynch, perhaps this question was asked already and I couldn't hear it over here, but could you tell us what your daughter has told you about her time in captivity and about the rescue? Can you tell us what she's told you, sort of related to you about what her experience was like during the captivity and in the rescue?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: Well, sir, we haven't talked too much on that at this time. We're going to let Jessie have her feelings so when she's ready to tell us something, she will.

QUESTION: Hi. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). What do you think about this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) how do you feel about this and what do you think the principal message (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sent to the media and to America right now?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: I'll step over here.

Sir, the answer to that question would be the media, the reason we're here today is because the media and the message that we sent out to all the families in support. You know, the media provides a lot for us and the transportation over here, the media got that out. And it's just great that you all have supported us way you have and, you know, any other way, I mean it could have been worse. The media could have made it more dramatic than what it was, but you guys have turned it around so that the attention is brought towards Jessica and not to us.

QUESTION: Greg, Jr.?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Yes?

QUESTION: What have you talked to your sister about and is she aware of what happened to other members of her unit?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: She is aware that the, the fate of the other members of the 507th and the POWs. But, you know, she's real concerned for them but, you know, she's not in the state where she really wants to talk much about that and she's more concerned on -- she's looking out for others and not for herself. And it's kind of a way where you would think that she would be on herself, trying to get better. But still, she's still concerned about the family members from the others. QUESTION: Is that typical of her character?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: That is very typical of her character and, you know, I'm very surprised that, you know, she's still trying hard to get herself on her feet but, you know, still, she's more concerned for others as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here.

QUESTION: Yes, what can you say about the Iraqi people who helped your daughter? And another question, you look so happy today. But your happiness is not only yours, because this story was around in the world and everybody was worried about Jessica. What can you say about -- to the other parents, not only soldier parents, but parents (UNINTELLIGIBLE), for example, Italian parents that was, that they were so involved in this story?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: I mean we just want to say thanks to everybody that took part in the rescue for that and, you know, we still give out our prayers for not only the troops in Iraq, but all over the world that are deployed and it's just great support, you know, that the soldiers are there fighting for what -- for a cause that is definitely known to be done. And the soldiers that rescued my sister, you know, they're heroes, as well. And she doesn't really think that she's a hero, but she's a hero, as well, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your question?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). How would you feel about being sent out to Iraq right now?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Sir, I would go and I would do my job as well as she done hers. But that, my concern right now is my sister. And if it comes down to orders to go to Iraq, then so be it.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: The yellow is for hope for the families that still have lost and missing POWs, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here.

QUESTION: Greg, Jr., Greg, she had talked about had she made the paper back home. Does she have any idea how big this has gotten? Have you guys had a chance to talk about that at all to her?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Well, Kenny, we're just kind of, right now we're just kind of bringing her in slowly. She doesn't realize how big this has become and she's not into where she's reading a lot of magazines and watching news. They've kind of got her isolated from that and, you know, we're kind of slowly bringing her up to what she needs to be. And we just don't want to bring it in too fast for her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? QUESTION: We understand that a friend of hers flew over with her from the Gulf and has been with her. Can you tell us anything about the friend? Was it somebody from basic training? And has that friend helped and supported her?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Ma'am, I really don't, I don't know a lot about her friend. I just met her. And I really don't want to release her name right now. But she is a great person and she's been by her side 24-7 and it's just phenomenal support from her and her unit.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Magazine.

What's it like inside the room when you're visiting? What's the back and forth like?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: It's real good. It's good just to see her and it's just a good feeling. It's a good feeling to see her whether we're coming and going or, you know, spending a minute or two or an hour or two. It's just great.

QUESTION: Excuse me, Greg?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Yes?

QUESTION: Describe that moment when you all walked into her hospital room. I know there were smiles. There had to be tears, as well.

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: There was tears. That was the, you know, I had shed a few tears before, but that really, it hit me hard when I walked in that room and, you know, it hit the whole family. And it was just good to see her face and the condition, that she was in good shape and the doctors there are wonderful and the hospital and the community here is just, it's just great support for everybody. And, you know, it hit the family hard, but, you know, we're doing good just to see her now. A lot better than the conversations on the phone.

QUESTION: Does she talk to you all about what she wants to do once she's well? Does she know about all these scholarships and does she (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of that?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: As I told Kenny there that, you know, she -- we're trying to bring her up slowly right now. We're not really mentioning anything that, you know, they're offering or -- she's just more concerned of others right now and she's waiting to get on her feet and that's the way we want to see it. We want to see her get back to normal. And when she's ready for all that, I'm sure she'll pick up a paper and read it herself.

QUESTION: Does she seem like the same sister to you (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Oh, definite. She's definitely the same person. You know, she's just a little tired now and trying to get better.

QUESTION: What is it about your sister's character that will let her pull through this?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: She's very strong. She's strong in the head and, you know, she's very determined and has a set way of life. And she sees it that she needs to get better for not only herself, but for others around her to show the world that they supported her, now she needs to support them.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: It troubled the family a lot because we were so uncertain and we were lost in the loophole of information, getting it back and forth, but, you know, information like that right now, just seeing her and knowing the condition that we see her in is more important than what the stories and the rumors were told before.

QUESTION: Yes, can you tell us what day was the meeting that you just described, the first meeting where the tears were shed? What day was that meeting? And where did that take place? Where exactly do you visit her?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: It was Saturday -- it was Saturday evening. Yes, I believe Saturday...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sunday morning.

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Sunday morning. Sunday morning, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Yes, Sunday morning in the hospital, in the Landstuhl Hospital.

QUESTION: Has she talked at all about what, how she focused to sort of keep going through the whole ordeal?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: No.

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: No, ma'am. She has not really brought up anything like that and right now we're not really mentioning anything. It's just a process, you know, that whenever she's ready to mention something like that, that'll be the time. And right now we just want to see her get on her feet and get better.

QUESTION: Greg, can you just tell us a little bit about -- you've been here like three or four days now. Can you just kind of walk us through what a typical day is like? When do you guys go over to see her? How long do you typically stay? Is there a set pattern or does it change from day to day?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: There's no set pattern. It's just basically, you know, whenever the doctors that we're able to see her, then we try to be over there and we just spend some time with her. Sometimes the days are longer, sometimes they're shorter. She's, right now she's in some treatment and they're trying to get her back on her feet. And there's no set patterns right now.

QUESTION: What would be the longest meeting you've had, just as an example?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Myself, probably not nearly as long as mom and dad, but I've been in there I'd say an hour at a time, on and off.

QUESTION: Has she asked you for anything from home?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: She, other than she wants to go home. That's the only thing she's been asking. But, you know, we try to bring her some stuff that she needs but like I said before, we just want to regenerate on how we just want her to get well and then when she's well enough, then whatever she wants, then that's what will be provided.

QUESTION: What did you bring her?

GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S BROTHER: Oh, we brought her some, you know, basic like hair stuff and just minor, just girls, what girls want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thank you all for being here to ask some questions and receive some answers from this very brave family who has a very brave soldier of a daughter. And we're glad that you were here today. Thank you very much.

HEMMER: Those are the family members of Jessica Lynch talking for the first time with reporters since arriving in Germany at Landstuhl Medical Center. Not a whole lot of information given by the family indicating that Jessica, anyway, to this point, 19 years of age, has not talked about her days in captivity at this point. We heard them talk about allowing her to take her time in a recovery and when she is ready to tell us something, she will.

She has, we're told, a prognosis that is excellent. But she has an awful lot of injuries, too, a head wound, a back injury, a fractured right arm and a right leg, left leg, as well, right foot and ankle, several surgeries thus far. We're also finding out in the first conversation she had with her parents by way of telephone after she was taken out of that hospital in Nasiriya a week ago today, she told her father that she had not eaten in eight days. This stemming from the convoy that was intercepted on March 23rd, Sunday, near the town of Nasiriya.

That's a wrap from Landstuhl.

Matthew Chance is standing by. If we have Matthew, we want to take you there now live -- Matthew, good afternoon there.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon to you, as well, Bill. And as you say, not a great deal of information coming out of this press conference, but it is the first opportunity that we've had to see the parents of Jessica Lynch since she was brought her to the Landstuhl medical facility in Germany.

The medical officer who's in charge of this U.S. Army hospital said that the spirits of Private Lynch were excellent. He said she was doing very well. She was sitting up out of bed in a chair, that she has been eating solid food on occasion now.

He also said, before the family started speaking, that is, that there is no date yet set for her to return to the United States. She's been undergoing quite serious and intensive surgery on her back to some of those multiple injuries that you mentioned. And quite simply she hasn't made enough of a recovery yet to take a flight back.

One of the interesting things, though, there has been a lot of concern about the nature of the wounds sustained by Private Lynch. There was word, first of all, that she may have been shot. That was later denied by the medical authorities here, who gave her a thorough examination. But on further inspection, it seems that some of the broken bones she sustained, that sort of pierced the flesh, may, according to the medical officials here, have been caused by some kind of small caliber weapon. They're talking about a pistol or something like that. It's not clear how that was sustained, whether it was sustained when she was in custody or when her convoy was ambushed.

We were hoping that some light may be shed on that by some of the family members if they'd spoken to her about what she went through in captivity and about what she went through when she was captured by the Iraqi forces. But they say the time isn't right for that. They're giving her plenty of space and they're hoping that, you know, when she makes more of a psychological recovery that she'll be more open about exactly what happened to her -- Bill.

HEMMER: Yes, Matthew, any idea, how long will the family stay there in Germany, the entire time? Or will they depart some time soon?

CHANCE: Actually, we haven't been given any indication of that. They're not showing any signs of leaving right now. They could very well stay in this building right behind me. It's the Fisher House, what they call the Fisher House here at the Landstuhl U.S. military facility. It's here specifically so that U.S. family members of troops can come over and spend time with their -- with relatives that are injured and are recovering in this hospital.

So the facilities are here for them to stay as long as they want. And as I say, they haven't given any indication yet that they're leaving.

HEMMER: Matthew, thanks.

Matthew Chance at Landstuhl watching things with the Lynch family there today.

Now, Carol, again at the CNN Center.

COSTELLO: Some happy news this morning.

We have to talk about the fighting inside Baghdad, though. We understand, oh, about an hour ago The Palestine Hotel suffered some kind of explosion. The 15th floor was hit. Now, inside of that hotel, many international journalists. We understand five Reuters reporters were hurt. One Spanish reporter was killed and, of course, there are a number of American reports inside that hotel, too.

Rym Brahimi was one of them before she was expelled from Baghdad. She joins us live now from Amman, Jordan.

And you managed to get someone on the phone from The Palestine Hotel.

Tell us about it.

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, this is a very sad day for us in the journalistic community. Two journalists have been killed. I was talking, indeed, to somebody who was just at The Palestine Hotel literally minutes before this hit against The Palestine Hotel, hit the 15th floor of the building, where the Reuters journalists had an office.

One of the journalists that was hit was from Reuters, that was killed was from Reuters. I understand three or four of his colleagues at least have been injured and we're hoping to hear more news on their status a little later.

I understand from the person I spoke to that had just left the building that it seemed to be coming from a tank, possibly one of the two tanks that are advancing on the Al-Jumhuriya Bridge, those two U.S. tanks advancing on the al-Jumhuriya Bridge nearby.

There's been an exchange of fire between those tanks and some buildings across the river from there. It's possible that one of these tanks may have been the one to hit The Palestine Hotel. When one Reuters journalist, again, was killed and three or four at least injured.

Another journalist was killed earlier today, Carol, as you know, a journalist from Al Jazeera, when the building that houses Al Jazeera, the Arabic television network's offices was hit. The office seemed to have been bombed. The journalist in question, Tareq Ayoub, is somebody who also worked for CNN at one point, a very dear colleague. He leaves behind a six month old baby and a wife. He was killed almost on the (AUDIO GAP). He was taken away immediately as part of the two injured journalists from Al Jazeera, but seemed to have died pretty soon after the house that hosts Al Jazeera was hit.

Al Jazeera, as you know, is on the banks of the River Tigris, not far from the other TV, Adu Dhabi, the other Arabic satellite television that was also hit and was taken off air briefly at one point. It's a very, very sad moment, Carol, for all of us. Tareq Ayoub was someone who was very hard working, extremely helpful colleague, and we have all had very close ties to Al Jazeera, to our colleagues there. We've worked very closely on the field with them. They've always been extremely helpful and it's a very difficult situation.

As you know, in these times of war, solidarity takes over competition.

COSTELLO: Yes.

BRAHIMI: And it's, it's a very, very hard moment for everybody -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Definitely so.

Let's go back to The Palestine Hotel, because government sources say the media certainly is not being targeted. But we do understand that someone saw snipers on the roof and maybe that's why this explosion occurred.

BRAHIMI: I can't comment on that. I don't know, I can't say whether or not that is accurate. I know that from the beginning The Palestine Hotel, from the beginning of the war, was the hotel where all the journalists were staying. There were very few journalists -- in fact, I don't know of any journalists who at the eve of the war, when the war began, were still anywhere else but at The Palestine Hotel. In fact, the Ministry of Information had been hit a couple of times, and this is where we used to work out before the war. In the first few days of the war, some journalists were still going back there to attend press briefings. But when that was, that building was hit, then the press center from the Ministry of Information moved into The Palestine Hotel.

So that was clearly -- it's a big tower. It's quite visible, Carol, and it was a place that was known for all journalists to be there and to work out of The Palestine Hotel, especially as they were restricted in their movements and it would be very difficult for journalists to go anywhere else than that building -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Right. And we see activity on the roof there. Satellite dishes are located up there and possibly photographers go up there and shoot some pictures. Tell us about that because, you know, there's some confusion over what forces on the ground were seeing on the roof of that hotel right now.

BRAHIMI: Well, yes, one would have to really wonder. This hotel had been, as I say, the place where journalists were going to be covering the war from, basically. It took a while for journalists to get permission from the Ministry of Information to be able to bring all of their equipment and the gear that comes with live TV coverage to the hotel from the Ministry of Information. But eventually that permission was given and a lot of satellite dishes were set up on various areas on the roof of that building.

So definitely, I mean, I'm not sure what anyone could have seen from a distance. But, again, I would imagine that this was a place that, it's a tall, it's a very high building and it kind of sticks out in the center of Baghdad.

COSTELLO: Understand.

BRAHIMI: Carol?

COSTELLO: I understand.

Rym Brahimi from Amman, Jordan, thanks very much.

Let's go back to Kuwait City and Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Carol, thank you.

And listening to Rym talk, I mean clearly the journalist community who knew these people obviously quite shaken from it. If you go back yesterday, the reports of the Spanish journalist and the German photographer, also, two people killed, along with two U.S. soldiers, in that missile attack just south of Baghdad. It has been a high price for the military, a high price for the Iraqis and now we know with every day that goes by here, a high price for the journalistic community, as well.

We're going to hear from CENTCOM, Carol, in about an hour and a half from now. I want to get you down there now to Tom Mintier, who is watching things in Qatar with more -- Tom, what are they saying now?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, as you can imagine, this is where the journalists and the military come nose to nose every day. And the questions have been flying in the hallways for the past couple of hours as to what happened at The Palestine Hotel, who fired the round into the building.

So far, no firm answers, but I can tell you this, just a few moments ago on Al Jazeera, an Arabic speaking State Department employee came into the room and addressed the Al Jazeera audience, saying that Al Jazeera was not deliberately targeted by the coalition forces. Again, an Arab speaker is now on site here and was called upon to appear on Al Jazeera Television just a few moments ago.

Asked other information, he didn't seen to have any. As he left the briefing room here, where he appeared on Al Jazeera, he was taken into another room and the door was closed and we were not able to comment from him.

But the State Department obviously very interested in responding quickly on this issue, if not worldwide, at least to the Arab audience here through Al Jazeera -- Bill.

HEMMER: Tom, let's talk about other things in Baghdad right now. How much of a read are you getting in terms of progress on behalf of the U.S. right now, let's say in the past 24 hours?

MINTIER: Well, when you talk to certain strategists of what is going on here, we heard in the last 24 hours from the British commander of all British forces in Iraq, calling the strategy that the Americans was using nothing short of brilliant and say when they write the history books, they will take General Franks' plan and put it on page one. So I think there is a lot of comment about what's going on and why it's happening.

Questions about whether the American troops would, indeed, stay in the city overnight were not answered here. Apparently some of them did. The fact that on Saturday they made their initial foray in, came back out to the airport and then returned again. So I think when it comes to strategy, there is, of course, a lot they're not saying, why these tanks made their way across the bridge, what targets they were going to. They may not say in the briefing here this afternoon. It's quite likely that issues like that will not come up.

What will come up was the attack on what was called a target of opportunity last night that took out part of a residential neighborhood with four large weapons. Supposedly Saddam Hussein and other members of the Iraqi regime leadership were found by hard intelligence to be at this location. They took this so-called target of opportunity and brought in an air strike on the building. That question, I'm sure, will be at the top of the agenda. Whether it may be what happened to The Palestine Hotel or the Al Jazeera reporter being killed in an air strike against their facility, there are going to be a lot of hard questions this afternoon at the CENTCOM briefing.

HEMMER: Tom, thanks.

We'll carry it live to our viewers, again, 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time here on CNN -- Carol.

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