CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Live From the Front Lines: Is Saddam Hussein Dead or Alive?
Aired April 8, 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 the war in Iraq:
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know whether he survived. The only thing I know is he's losing power.
ANNOUNCER: Targeting Iraq's leadership and what remains of its military in the heart of Baghdad.
ANNOUNCER: With so many casualties, is the military doing enough to protect civilians?
VICTORIA CLARKE, PENTAGON SPOKESWOMAN: In this war we go to great lengths to avoid unnecessary loss of life.
ANNOUNCER: Plus, knowing when it's time to declare victory.
MAJ. GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: The endgame is the end of the regime and that's much closer than people thought it was
ANNOUNCER: Live from Baghdad, Washington, Kuwait City 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: And it is 3:00 a.m. in Baghdad this Tuesday, April 8. Parts of the Iraqi capital in the state of ruin tonight after a day of coalition bombings.
Good evening. From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, I'm Paula Zahn. And from Kuwait City, my partner Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much.
Coming up, Paula, this, hour: Is Saddam Hussein alive? Was he killed in the air raid over a Baghdad neighborhood? Our David Ensor is working the story from Washington. We'll have complete details.
First, back to Paula in New York.
ZAHN: No matter what happened last night a Pentagon official says somebody is still giving orders to forces loyal to Saddam Hussein. But just two days after U.S. troops surrounded the city, the Pentagon also says coalition forces are moving at will in and around Baghdad.
American military fire killed three journalists near central Baghdad today. An Al-Jazeera reporter and cameramen for the Reuters and Spanish TV were killed in separate incidents. Central Command says U.S. forces came under significant enemy fire from the buildings and responded in self-defense.
Walt Rodgers has more on the fighting in the city.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Late afternoon Baghdad time there were the explosions of more bombs falling on the Iraqi capital. One of the targets was said to be the Iraqi information ministry. The other target said to be the Ba'ath party headquarters. We cannot tell you now at this point if either of those targets was hit or the extent of casualties.
Army officers told CNN earlier in the day that the Special Republican Guard headquarters and the Republican Guard headquarters in Baghdad had also been hit by U.S. bombs. Still, one senior army officer said that there is no longer any organized resistance in Baghdad to the American military thrust into the city.
That does not mean, however, there are not fierce pockets of irregular resistance. In fact, one soldier told us it seems as if every Iraqi has a license, a calling card and that is a rocket- propelled grenade, a very effective small shoulder-fired projectile.
Earlier in the day, CNN met with many Iraqi citizens who were trying to make contact with the Army because many of them wanted to did back into Baghdad now, believing the danger had passed or each of them seeking the solutions to individual problems with the U.S. Army. Several of them, more than a few of them, were going back into the fighting area to try to retrieve the bods of dead family members.
Walter Rodgers, CNN, with the U.S. 7th Cavalry in the southern suburbs of Baghdad.
BLITZER: The bomber crew had only 12 minutes from the time they got the call to target the Baghdad complex until they hit it. They were acting on a tip, but was it fast enough to catch Saddam Hussein and his two sons?
CNN's national security correspondent David Ensor says that's the question of the day. David's join us now live from CNN's Washington bureau -- David.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there are indications just in tonight that the information that led to the strike may have come from an eyewitness who may have seen Saddam Hussein and others, or said that they did, entering the building.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ENSOR (voice-over): The bombs hit just 45 minutes after U.S. intelligence told military commanders that senior Iraqi leaders, possibly including Saddam Hussein and one or more of his two sons, were at the location in a Baghdad neighborhood. U.S. officials say they still do not know whether they killed the Iraqi leader.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I -- I don't know whether he survived. The only thing I know is he's losing power.
ENSOR: Officials say it may be some time before the U.S. can be sure whether Saddam Hussein is alive. They are tracking Iraqi communications to see whether anyone refers to his status.
Meantime, U.S. officials say, efforts to track down Saddam Hussein will continue.
KENNETH POLLACK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It's a very hard target. Saddam is paranoid. He is very good about his security and my guess is that U.S. forces are trying to take advantage of every possible lead out there.
ENSOR: The Iraqi regime has an extensive network of deep underground hardened bunkers under Baghdad. Some of them were built in the 80s under contract by Swiss, German and Yugoslav engineers. Others, more recently, by Iraqis.
U.S. officials say they are not sure whether the buildings that were hit have bunkers under them. However, if it turns out there is a bunker beneath the site, experts say while the 2,000-pound bunker buster bombs are highly effective, the target information must be very precise.
ENSOR: ...said if the bunker buster bomb misses the room where the target targeted individuals are by just as much as 15 feet, then a foot-thick reinforced concrete wall can protect the occupants for more than perhaps some damage to their hearing -- Wolf.
BLITZER: David, the Pentagon said today they had 45 minutes between the time they got the information, the time the bombs dropped. During that 45 minutes, anything could have happened. What's the speculation inside the intelligence community?
ENSOR: Well, there are various possibilities. There could be a bunker down there with exits in various directions through which Saddam Hussein might have departed. He might have left the building somehow without what apparently was an eyewitness seeing it or perhaps the eyewitness was wrong. Any case -- and there is, of course, a fourth possibility and that is that Saddam Hussein is dead -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That is, of course, a real possibility. We'll be watching and waiting. David Ensor, thanks very much.
Meanwhile, Baghdad isn't the only area seeing military action. Today, north of the capital, U.S. Special Forces are trying to seize a highway between Mosul and Kirkuk. The plan is to isolate Iraqi resistance in the cities without going into them.
In central Iraq, U.S. Marines are securing an industrial complex and the Rasheed military airfield. They found pieces of bloody camouflage uniforms at a prison in the area. Military sources say two of them bore the names of two of the seven American POWs in Iraq.
In southeastern Iraq, a new threat: civilian looters. Iraqis in Basra are venting their anger against Saddam Hussein looting former government buildings. They're taking anything that isn't nailed down -- Paula.
ZAHN: Wolf, in Basra a find that goes beyond disturbing. We have heard stories about systematic torture by the Iraqi leadership. Well today, what may be some evidence of that.
ITN reporter Bill Neely went inside the headquarters of Saddam Hussein's secret intelligence service. The images he captured tell us what words cannot.
BILL NEELY, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): In the smoking basement of the bombed building, a warren of cells. Here prisoners were tortured.
Down we went to cells that had no light, little air, cockroaches, filth. And on the ground, a gas mask and bottles of chemicals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day, every month, so many people come here. But we don't know about them at all.
NEELY: These ordinary Iraqis had been terrified to come here, until today. The one student on the left had been here before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was one of the prisoners here.
NEELY (on camera): For how long?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight years.
NEELY (voice-over): And his crime for eight years in jail?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prayer.
NEELY: He prayed too much and was seen as a dangerous radical.
(on camera): More cells.
(voice-over): But the Mukabarat headquarters had more horrors to reveal. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They tied their hands behind and hung them and held them for many days.
NEELY: These men had relatives murdered here. So desperate are they to tell their story that they began re-enacting what they and their brothers and friends had suffered.
The hook in the ceiling is for one purpose only. Another hook in a different cell and a different form of torture. Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq through fear, torture and execution and it happened here to tens of thousands of Iraqis that Saddam's secret police deemed dangerous.
This man cowered for months crammed with 300 others into a huge cell. Hamid Fatilie (ph) may look like he's acting, but he was tortured here along with his two brothers who were executed.
On the ground I found a book called "The Psychology of Interrogation," as if the men who worked here for Saddam needed a handbook.
Bill Neely, ITV news, Basra.
An update now on the No. 1 suspect in the September 11 terrorism attack. A new audiotape purported to be from Osama bin Laden. The Associated Press says it received the tape in Pakistan from someone who had been to Afghanistan recently.
The voice on the tape says, quote, "if you start suicide attacks you will see the fear of Americans all over the world. Those people who cannot join forces in jihad should give financial help to those mujahedeen who are fighting against U.S. aggression. The United States has attacked Iraq and soon will also attack Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan. The attacks in Saudi Arabia and Egypt will be against Islamic movements there."
The Associated Press which could not independently confirm the tape was authentic reported that a translator who had met bin Laden said it sound like him.
Coming up, they bring medical help in from around the world and now the group Doctors Without Borders says it's missing two of it's own in Iraq. We'll speak to the executive director, Nicholas de Torrente about its case in a moment.
But next, the heart wrenching reality of war. A bombing in the middle of the night almost kills an entire family. This Iraqi boy now says if he can't get his arms back, he'd rather be dead. That story as our coverage of the war in Iraq continues.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Almost three weeks old now, the war in Iraq has claimed 127 coalition lives. Ninety-six of those deaths are American while 31 are British forces.
The Iraqi government doesn't release information about its military losses, but Abu Dhabi Television says 1,252 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the war and more than 5,000 wounded. Centcom says it has some 7,000 Iraqi prisoners -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Paula, of those 5,000 Iraqi civilians wounded ITN's John Draper give us now the story of just one. A boy who was fast asleep when his life was shattered by a missile.
JOHN DRAPER, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the heartrending reality of the innocence caught up in war. The story of 12-year-old Ali Ismael Abbas has moved people across the world, yet he's just one of thousands maimed in the conflict.
Ali lost both arms and was badly burned when a missile struck his home in Baghdad. His family had been asleep in bed. His younger brother was killed as was his father and his pregnant mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the tragedy of the war. His house and his neighbors and the houses of his neighbors and relatives was attacked by a rocket and all of the family of Ali was killed.
DRAPER: Ali's aunt is by his bedside wiping his tears, telling him his parents are in heaven. The sight of youngsters like Ali and other civilians injured in the fighting of Baghdad has intensified and is causing bitterness among Iraqis and makes harder the American aim of persuading them that they're being liberated and not conquered.
The Red Cross is delivering drugs and anesthetics, but some hospitals have already run out. It's hard to imagine the pain and sheer misery the boy is going through. Ali says if he can't get artificial arms he wants to die.
John Draper, ITV News.
BLITZER: And as you can imagine we are getting flooded with phone calls, getting flooded with, mail, people wanting to know what they can do to help. We have one suggestion. There's a British charity and it's called the Limbless Association. They say they want to help this young boy and if you want to help you can go to their Web address. Let me read it to you. Limbless-Association.org. What a heart wrenching story.
Meanwhile, coalition commanders say they're trying to protect innocent Iraqis from harm. The Defense Department released this video earlier today showing U.S. military medical personnel trying to help an Iraqi infant. We do not know what's wrong with the baby, but you have to hope that this tiny innocent has the chance to grow up in a safer country without facing the dangers of another war -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks, Wolf.
Still to come this evening, missing in Baghdad. Two volunteers from an international medical aid group have not been heard from in nearly a week. Their story in a moment.
And how do you define victory? Starting a new Iraqi regime or killing Saddam Hussein? The hosts of "CROSSFIRE" have some thoughts about that tonight. Good evening.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Good evening, Paula. The Bush administration says we can in fact win the war in Iraq even if we don't kill Saddam Hussein. Believe it or not, I agree.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": And I don't. We've gone to war to eliminate Saddam and we won't have won until we do.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 7:00 a.m., U.S. Central Command says the coalition may never know if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein survived a U.S. airstrike yesterday.
9:12 a.m., CNN's Walter Rodgers traveling with the 3rd Squadron 7th Cavalry says a senior officer is telling him pockets of resistance remain in Baghdad but there is no longer any organized military resistance in the city.
12:31 p.m., CNN's Ryan Chilcote reports a firefight near Hillah, 50 miles south of Baghdad. The 101st Airborne's 3rd Brigade battled the Fedayeen Saddam fighters. Three U.S. soldiers were injured when an Iraqi paramilitary threw a grenade at them.
1:40 p.m., Pentagon officials said U.S. military forces absolutely did not target the Al-Jazeera network and do not target journalists overall. A reporter and two cameramen were killed and several others injured at two Baghdad locations Tuesday. Major General Stanley McChrystal says U.S. forces were responding to significant fire.
5:03 p.m., CNN's Barbara Starr reports two of the blood-stained camouflage uniforms found by Marines at a prison in the al Rasheed Air Base in Baghdad bear the names of U.S. service Members known to be Iraqi prisoners of war. It is not clear when the POWs might have been moved.
5:15 p.m., CNN's Mike Boettcher reports U.S. Special Forces are arming some Free Iraqi Fighters. Army troops delivered Rocket Propelled Grenades, machine guns and uniforms to these Iraqi opposition soldiers who will be sent to several parts of the country.
BLITZER: That was CNN's Miles O'Brien reporting.
Israel meanwhile, bombed a car in Gaza today, killing a top commander of the group Hamas. Five other people were killed in attack which rocked a neighborhood in the southern part of the Gaza city. Three of those killed were civilians. At least 20 were wounded including women and children -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks, Wolf. It has been six painstaking days since two aid workers were last heard from in Baghdad. They were providing medical care and supplies as part of the organization Doctors Without Boards. The two were discovered missing when four other members of the group returned to their hotel after an overnight shift.
Now Doctors Without Borders is suspending its work in Iraq. The group's executive director, Nicholas de Torrente joins me now to talk about the situation. Thanks so enough for being with us.
NICHOLAS DE TORRENTE, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Thanks for having me, Paula.
ZAHN: Why are you convinced that Francios Calas and Ibrahim Younis have been taken by the Iraqis?
DE TORRENTE: Well, given the circumstances of their disappearance which bears striking similarity to those of some of the journalists who were earlier detained during this conflict, we must consider that they're being held by the Iraqi authorities.
But, of course, we have had no confirmation of that and we've had no news as to their whereabouts and condition and we are extremely concerned about their fate at this time.
ZAHN: What are the similarities what you can point to between what you believe is the abduction with two of the workers with the journalists who we knew were imprisoned by the Iraqis and then later released?
DE TORRENTE: Well our team is providing much-needed medical care and surgical care in one of the hospitals of Baghdad. As you mentioned when four of our medical staff returned to their hotel they just found the -- their rooms were empty and Ibrahim and Francois were missing. And all contact and all efforts that had been made to find them have been fruitless to this point.
So there is no other possible explanation than to believe that they're being held that the time.
ZAHN: But what incentive would the Iraqis have to take these two men who were there primarily to help out the civilian population in Iraq?
DE TORRENTE: Well, we don't know, but what we do know is that this is extremely frustrating, extremely disturbing and unsettling for us in the sense that the needs of the Iraqi population at this time in Baghdad are increasing. The ability of the hospitals to cope with the situation are really under stress. And we would much rather be, frankly, able to be in a position to provide much-needed assistance at this time and we are prevented from doing so because of this situation.
ZAHN: And at a time of this war when no one is too certain who is running the country, what kind of contact have you been able to make with anybody that you think would represent the leadership of the Ba'ath Party or any of Saddam Hussein's regime?
DE TORRENTE: Well, we've been pursuing all available channels. Our main contacts were with the Iraqi medical personnel, working in the hospital with the Iraqi Red Crescent with whom we had had established good relationships, doctor to doctor, medical personnel to medical personnel.
But clearly, they are as frustrated as we are because they are with the situation and that the answer lies elsewhere.
ZAHN: Meanwhile, you have a number of staffers who are left in Baghdad. As I understand it, you've suspended their work. How concerned are you about their vulnerability now?
DE TORRENTE: Well, we've been concerned about the safety of our team since the beginning of this conflict. Our volunteers are very experienced. We've worked in conflict situations before. They wanted to be there. We wanted to be there to provide medical care to the Iraqi population at this time. We are obviously concerned and anxious about their situation, but more than that, we are also extremely frustrated not to be able to do more at this time.
ZAHN: Coming back to Francois and Ibrahim as we close out this interview, I was speaking with the head of the International Red Cross from Baghdad and he talked about this looming humanitarian crisis and also how certain aid workers have been targeted because they've been perceived as spies.
Is that potentially a situation you're looking at where maybe they were perceived as spies?
DE TORRENTE: Well, frankly, we don't know and we can't speculate as to the motives. We're just hopeful that by recognizing them as for who they are, very committed, experienced humanitarian aid workers who were there to do nothing else but to assist the population that whoever is holding them will consider that and ensure their safe and speedy release.
ZAHN: Nicholas de Torrente, thank you for stopping by and we wish you and your organization much luck. I guess you have to have a lot of patience at this point. Don't you?
DE TORRENTE: Yes. Thank you very much, Paula, for having me.
ZAHN: My pleasure.
Still to come at this hour, different points of view. How many deaths is too many? Collateral damage as the war in Iraq rages on. But next, defining victory. If a new Iraqi regime is put in place and Saddam Hussein is not killed is that operation a success? Both sides of the story as CNN's coverage of the war in Iraq LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES continues.
ZAHN: Still to come in this hour: how the rest of the world sees war. Our Bruce Burkhardt and the headlines from broadcasts across the globe. But next, defining victory in the war. "CROSSFIRE" debates that issue right out of the break.
KEN ADELMAN, FMR. ARMS CONTROL DIRECTOR: ... and I think that we're getting rid of the whole regime. We may have gotten rid of him and his sons last night, and god knows I hope so.
BEGALA: And Hussein, god willing -- I mean I didn't support the war, but god willing he's already playing checkers in hell right now with Adolph Hitler.
HUSSEIN IBISH, ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE: Yes that would be very helpful.
BEGALA: But we don't need to kill him or even capture him, do we, to win the war? As Ken says -- you know he makes a good point.
IBISH: Not in the long run. I don't think so. But I think that if he were missing it could provide interesting problems politically in post-conflict Iraq.
It could, I think, take Iraqis a little longer to feel sort of relieved of the after effects of totalitarianism, if he were lurking around, if they didn't know where he was. And also I think it's possible that if there were some sort of violent resistance to the American occupation, that his image and this notion that he's out there might somehow become a rallying point. In the long run, that would dissipate, but for a few months, at least, it could be problem attic, I think.
ADELMAN: Yes, you want closure. And the easiest way to get closure is a dead body or him behind bars.
BEGALA: Which is better? Don't you think that it's better for our purposes...
ADELMAN: I would rather have him behind bars.
BEGALA: Behind bars like Noriega. A disgraced pathetic figure rather than a heroic martyr either missing or dead, right?
ADELMAN: Right. And what I fear is, in the bottom -- well, I don't want fear it, because I'd like it -- but in the bottom of all that rubble that there's nothing left of him there because the bunker- buster bombs are so, so powerful that he may be (UNINTELLIGIBLE). IBISH: Either way, though, it wouldn't solve your problem. Ultimately, you're going to be facing a political problem that goes beyond whether Saddam is alive or not. And the regime will certainly be destroyed; there's no question about.
The real problems begin once that happens, once Saddam is gone, once the regime is gone. Then comes the most difficult challenge by far, which is creating a stable legitimate order.
CARLSON: That's easy for you to say, Hussein Ibish, because you're not an Iraqi citizen. And I must say that opponents of the war -- hold on, let me ask my question.
CARLSON: Opponents of the war have ignored the fact that in some sense there's already been a victory. Over 100 Iraqi children were released from prison in Baghdad today. Haven't the Iraqi people won, truly?
IBISH: There have been a lot of good things, there have been also a lot of very disturbing things. There have been a lot of innocent people that have been killed. And there have been a lot -- there's chaos...
ADELMAN: Much fewer than anybody -- well hold on.
BEGALA: Go ahead and finish and then we'll come to Ken.
IBISH: We really don't know how many civilians have been killed. We do know that there have been some pretty horrific incidents. My point is this...
ADELMAN: I don't know of any horrific incidents. I really don't.
IBISH: Oh, come on. There was a huge bomb in a marketplace that killed about 50 people. There were a couple of other...
ADELMAN: I don't know which are Iraqi bombs and which are coalition bombs.
IBISH: No, no, no. I think that a very good journalist his found shrapnel -- not shrapnel, but pieces of metal -- with American serial numbers, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if they were errant anti-aircraft fire, as the Pentagon rather unconvincingly claims. The point is tragedies are occurring, as well as things that are uplifting.
The point is, though -- and I think the military understands this. I mean I think that a lot of military planners and military theorists that you talk to understand that the problems begin when the military aim of overthrowing the government actually is achieved and post-conflict stabilization is the biggest challenge. (CROSSTALK)
ADELMAN: I don't think that's right. It sounds like a kind of cliche, and I hear what you're saying. But the main problem is to get rid of the regime. That was the main problem.
IBISH: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) amazed at how difficult the post- conflict situation can be.
ADELMAN: However I'm amazed it is, it is so much better than anything that was there for the last 25, probably 45 years.
BEGALA: Hold on just a second. In fact, 500 -- 568 days ago, 568 days ago our president promised us he would get Osama bin Laden dead or alive. And every day he's alive he is a threat to our national security. Doesn't that hurt our cause now when we say, oh, yes, we're going to set up a friendly regime, that we made these false promises to the American people about getting Osama bin Laden?
ADELMAN: No, I don't think it does, Paul. I think that what really the president wanted to do was to disable as best we can the al Qaeda network. And I think that better than I ever expected, the al Qaeda network is disabled, OK? Not entirely, but a lot better than we had.
The same thing is true with Iraq. And to say the problems begin now it's just wrong.
IBISH: We shall see.
CARLSON: And we will be back in just a moment. I'm sorry I have to cut you off. When we come back, one of our guests here at the table predicted this war was going to be a cakewalk. Has he been vindicated?
And is the battle for Iraq really simply the opening shot in a new war? Stay with us.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Right now it's the United States versus Iraq. Will the next war pit the entire U.S. against the entire Arab world? That's what we're asking Hussein Ibish of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. And also Ken Adelman, of the Defense Policy Board.
BEGALA: Ken, you were the one who famously on CROSSFIRE predicted that the war in Iraq would be a cakewalk. Twenty days into it, American troops are sitting in Saddam Hussein's palace. I'm sure you feel some vindication. But even as you take your soon to be victory lap, we all hope, one of your friends and allies in the neo- conservative moment, Jim Woolsey, the former CIA director, talked about the being the information minister in the new Rumsfeld government in Iraq. He said we are already evolved in World War IV. The Cold War being the Third World War. Are you guys nuts calling for a World War against Muslims and Arabs around the world.?
ADELMAN: First, I hope Jim Woolsey doesn't become the information minister. I think that the Iraqi information minister they have walking on the street right now is just a classic example. It's the most fun TV I've seen in a while.
He's saying nothing to worry about, we're doing great. The Americans are committing suicide. I mean no one could follow that act. That's a real tough act to follow.
BEGALA: But calling for World War IV -- I respect and like Jim Woolsey, but that was a crazy thing to say, wasn't it?
ADELMAN: I think those kind of labels are kind of, you know, out of place in something like this. His point was, however, absolutely true. And his point was we have to do something about the radical Islam movement that is bent on the destruction of civilization. That is a very serious part.
CARLSON: And let's follow the argument a little bit further.
IBISH: Neo-conservatives are not talking about radical Muslims when they talk about the Syrian government, for example, when they talk about the government in Lebanon, when they talk about the government in Libya. I mean there is a catch-all here of going in all kind of directions...
CARLSON: But isn't -- wait, but isn't that exactly right? Isn't -- their argument is -- the neo-con argument is that the defeat of Saddam Hussein will make it less likely for governments like Syria and Iran to sponsor terrorism. Isn't that arguably true?
IBISH: Here's the point. That's not what some people like Jim Woolsey are talking about. People like Jim Woolsey are talking about...
CARLSON: But isn't that true?
IBISH: Well, I don't know. I have no idea. I mean I think that it is very hard -- hold on. No, no, no. Hold on. It is very hard to know what the long-term effects of this is, because especially it's going to depend very much on how we manage the situation. If people in the region and in Iraq end up in a year's time looking in a situation that seems to all of them to be a colonial situation, you could very well see the region enflamed, anger increasing, and even al Qaeda...
ADELMAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) predicting so much.
IBISH: Well what do you think gives rise to...
ADELMAN: The Arab street rising up.
IBISH: Look, were you sleeping on September 11?
BEGALA: Hold on. Mr. Ibish, just a moment.
IBISH: We do have a problem with radicals and terrorism. And you have to address this on a political level. I mean -- you know...
BEGALA: What do you say to the father of the Marine who came up to me today, who is an Arab-American himself, his family originally from Syria, who asked me -- whose son is fighting now in Iraq, he said "Is my son going to be marching on Damascus, Syria as well?" Are we going to be extending this war to Syria and send this man's kid over there to fight Syria as well?
ADELMAN: No. I see no idea of let's go do Iraq and then we'll do Syria and then we'll do this. I don't see any temptation to do that at all.
What we're saying is something a little more sophisticated. And what we are saying is let's make Iraq a model for Arab countries. Let's have the first successful freely-elected legitimate Arab country. Right now today, every time the Arab League meets, there are 22 governments, not one (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CARLSON: I'm sorry to cut this off. We're going to have to end here. Hussein Ibish, Ken Adelman, thank you both very much. We appreciate it. Now we'll go back to Paula Zahn in New York -- Paula.
ZAHN: It's so quiet here compared to what you have working down there.
CARLSON: We've missed it.
ZAHN: Thanks, Tucker.
Still to come in this hour, the attack at the Palestine Hotel. The Arab-speaking television network lost a journalist in that attack, and it says it was deliberate. Both sides of the story, as our coverage of the war in Iraq continues.
ZAHN: There is anguish and anger over the deaths of three journalists today in Iraq. All three were killed by U.S. forces, two at the Palestine Hotel.
Separately, an Al-Jazeera journalist died as a result of a coalition bombing raid that damaged that network's office. But what led to those attacks differs depending on where you get your news. Here's how the attacks played out in the Arab media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (through translator): The journalists in Iraq are living in very difficult circumstances. Their state was not better than the citizens'. Shelling did not differentiate between journalists or child or an old man.
The correspondent said he saw an American tank targeting the Palestine Hotel. Cries everywhere and some people are asking for doctors.
Many inquiries about the developments of shelling the media positions. The first hit, in fact, targeted the Al-Jazeera office, which resulted in the martyrdom of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from Al-Jazeera. The next hit, in fact, targeted Abu Dhabi office. The third hit was targeted against Palestine Hotel, where many journalists, foreign journalists are working, and it resulted in the hit of a Reuters photographer.
Two offices of Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi had been hit, which resulted in the killing of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) an Al-Jazeera correspondent. There was fear, in fact, that the building would be a graveyard. People there (UNINTELLIGIBLE), they did not comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Were those attacks provoked? Journalists from three Western TV networks tell CNN they were in the Palestine Hotel when the tank fired and saw no gunfire coming out of the hotel. U.S. military planners insist in both instances troops were being fired at and acted in self-defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCHRYSTAL: When they get into combat in the cities, which from the beginning we had specifically said would be dangerous and difficult, you put yourself in their position, they have the inherent right of self-defense. When they are fired at, they have not only the right to respond, they have the obligation to respond to protect the soldiers with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: The killings again beg the question: Have coalition forces done enough to prevent civilian casualties? Andrew Coyne, national affairs columnist for "The National Post" is standing by in Toronto this evening -- welcome.
ANDREW COYNE, "NATIONAL POST": Hi.
ZAHN: And Nihad Awad is executive director on the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He joins us from Washington. Thank you, too, sir for joining us. Nihad, as you just heard, Al-Jazeera TV is reporting that coalition forces deliberately hit that Al-Jazeera facility. Do you believe that's the case? And if you do, why?
NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ARAB RELATIONS: Well, I heard different reports, including one yesterday that one Al-Jazeera reporter was -- his car was hit by U.S. forces. Then he was stopped and they checked him out, and they found out that he is an Al-Jazeera reporter. And after he left, they shot at him.
So that gives a sense that Al-Jazeera could be targeted because of its way of reporting on the war. Also, Al-Jazeera says that during the war in Afghanistan their offices were hit. Now if you add the two together, and the continuous flow of information and images emanating from Al-Jazeera and other networks about the victims of this war, one can feel that these media outlets are not embedded with the allied forces and therefore could be targeted because they do not want them to report more on different aspects of the war.
ZAHN: But Nihad, as I hear your explanation, you've used the word "could" twice. You have no evidence to prove that this facility was deliberately targeted, do you?
AWAD: Oh, definitely. And I never said it is deliberate. But you asked me -- since I watch Al-Jazeera and other networks, including this network and others, I have a feeling how people feel about the war, its conduct, and the journalists and Iraqi civilians have been targeted.
In the final analysis, they have been killed and they have been injured. And I think it warrants investigation, serious investigation, and more serious care to avoid civilian casualties.
ZAHN: Andrew, what about that point? Are you confident that U.S. forces are taking enough precautions in these kind of circumstances? The government, of course, saying they did not target this facility, they do not target journalists overall. But clearly, this building was known for being occupied by journalists.
COYNE: Yes. Whether the decision was right in this specific case, we don't know. The general rule is you're supposed to be proportional. If you're going to go after a target, there has to be a proven military use to it that outweighs the potential loss of civilian life. And whether that decision was right in this case, who can say.
The idea that the Americans would be deliberately targeting Al- Jazeera seems to me dubious, at the least. What possible American interest would be served by further inflaming Arab passions even more than they are, when they've been going to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties all through this war. And I may say with great success.
Every civilian loss obviously is a tragedy. But the numbers so far, the outside estimate is about 1,000. That is a third by way of comparison, a third of the number in the Gulf War, which at the time was thought to be remarkably few at that time. We're in a kind of war that's being practiced now with the numbers of civilian deaths are so small compared to any previous conflict, it doesn't even bear comparison.
ZAHN: Nihad, let me ask you this. At the briefings that we listened to today, the U.S. government saying that at the Palestine Hotel that their soldiers were fired at first before they returned fire. And I guess my question to you has to deal with how the Iraqis have used civilian facilities in the past for military operations disguising soldiers as civilians, even using children as soldiers. Doesn't that make civilian casualties all the more likely?
AWAD: Definitely. And I don't trust the Iraqi regime and the way it conducted itself before the war or during the war. And even I watch the minister of information and I just feel sorry for the Iraqi people to still have such kind of leaders.
But at the same time, the U.S. and the allied forces should exert more care than what we have seen so far. I mean there have been bombs which have fallen in Iran, in Saudi Arabia, in Turkey. And definitely, civilians have been hit. The residential areas have been hit.
And again, if you watch Arab television, because those kinds of networks they can talk to their audience. You can see human images coming every day, that the civilian infrastructure has been seriously effected and the suffering is clear. No one can deny it.
ZAHN: Andrew, you get the last word tonight. I know you said that when you look at this proportionately to other armed conflicts that the loss of civilian life is less, but when you hear the numbers, over 1,200 civilians have been killed, 5,000 wounded, tell us whether you think that's an acceptable number -- or those are acceptable numbers.
COYNE: Well, in a certain sense, any number above zero is unacceptable. But no war has ever been fought with zero civilian losses. It's an inevitable part of war.
If you think the war is otherwise justified, as I say, on any comparative basis, to give you a comparison, in a six-day war, which used to be the standard for a quick, decisive route, there's an estimate about 50,000 people lost their lives. In any war that the Arab states have ever fought, I might say, they didn't bother with such niceties as preserving civilian lives; they simply flattened the place.
If the Americans had wanted to, they could have gotten this war over in six hours, with all of America's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) might. They've gone to great extraordinary length, putting their own troops at risk, to try to minimize them, and they've had, as I say, extraordinary success.
ZAHN: Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there this evening. Andrew Coyne, Nihad Awad, thank you for both of your perspectives tonight. Still to come in this hour, the world and war. Bruce Burkhardt and how the war is playing out on television all over the world. We are back in a moment.
ZAHN: Whether you're tuning in by remote in the U.S. or overseas, the war in Iraq is the top story of almost every newscast all over the world. But Bruce Burkhardt says what you see depends on what country you're in.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It was the story in much of the world today. Not the targeting of Saddam Hussein, but the alleged targeting of journalists. This Russian anchor starts the newscast by saying "Here is the most important event at this hour which will be the major topic of our program. An American tank shot at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad where the journalists are staying."
And a few moments later, in introducing their reporter in Baghdad, "An American tank took dead aim at the Baghdad hotel where journalists are staying." The Russian reporter said he was only one floor away from the explosion, and gave a detailed account of the chaos and the carnage in the hotel. Then added this: "I want to point out that this was not the first strike against journalists today that the Americans have probably carried out. This is only the latest which we saw with our own eyes. This morning we learned that America carried out an air strike against the offices of Al-Jazeera."
And then there was more. An interview with Al-Jazeera's Moscow bureau chief and profile of the Ukrainian cameraman who died in the attack.
The view in France was much the same. Here the anchor says a building that has been deliberately targeted by a U.S. tank, when everyone knows that only journalists were staying at this hotel.
And in Baghdad, the reporter had this account. "On this balcony a couple of moments before, a cameraman was filming a tank on the Liberty (ph) Bridge. And this tank -- here it is right at the moment it aims at the hotel."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And three journalists die in U.S. attacks. The U.S. Central Command claiming it is too early to say what happened.
BURKHARDT: From China's CCTV, the English language newscast, a much more subdued reaction. And that seems to be consistent with what we've seen there since the war began.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Pentagon said Iraqi snipers were believed to be operating near the Palestine Hotel, where the four Reuters staff were injured of the blast that struck an upper floor of the high-rise. The Pentagon said it could not say if U.S. troops were responsible for the blast.
BURKHARDT: But in Germany, as in Russia and France, viewers got this view of the story. The reporter described how the hotel was occupied by most of the journalists and how everyone knew that. And then said, "Why was the building fired on anyway?"
This is how the military explained it. "We only returned the fire that was coming from the lobby of the hotel." The translator quotes General Brooks, and then the reporter adds, "Why (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was the 15th floor hit?" That remains unclear.
In the propaganda war being fought on TVs across the globe, this one has to go down as a loss for the U.S.
Bruce Burkhardt, CNN.
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