CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Live From the Front Lines: Timeline From Today's Headlines
Aired April 10, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES, the timeline that created today's headlines. Tonight, how the day unfolded on the war front.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We're seeing history unfold, events that will shape the course of a country, the fate of a people, and potentially the future of the region.
ANNOUNCER: Jubilation in Baghdad. A similar scene half a world away. Iraqis at home and abroad celebrate the end of a brutal era. But back in Iraq, joy gives way to chaos as wide-scale looting takes hold.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is all-out complete engagement here. We've got mortar fire, heavy machine guns, fires now burning on the campus. This is Baghdad University, and it is warfare on this campus at this moment.
ANNOUNCER: And the fighting's not over. In Baghdad a university turns into a battlefield. CNN's Martin Savidge takes you there.
ANNOUNCER: LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES, day 22.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And right now you're looking at a live picture of Baghdad, a city mostly in the hands of U.S. forces. The Iraqi capital today was the scene of spontaneous celebrations, and in some cases some describe it as anarchy. Over the next half hour we're going to look at the timeline of events that got us to this point.
Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Paula Zahn in New York.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, Paula. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Kuwait City.
Also this hour, we'll take a close look at the future of Iraq. What's next now that the regime of Saddam Hussein is apparently no more? Today's dramatic developments began unfolding in the overnight hours, while most of America slept. CNN's Walter Rodgers reported what he was hearing, that the majority of Iraqi troops in Baghdad had given up the fight.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WALTER RODGERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Within the next 24 hours the United States Army and Marines are expected to double the amount of real estate they now control in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. There are indications of another brigade of U.S. Army forces moving into the city as well as linkups between the 2nd Brigade 3rd Infantry Division and the U.S. Marines already in Baghdad.
Having said that, overnight a U.S. Army officer told us, of senior rank, that it appears that the majority of Iraqi forces in Baghdad have given up. That does not mean they've surrendered. It does mean, however, they've deserted and gone to ground.
There are intelligence reports suggesting there are some Fedayeen units now which have embedded themselves, integrated themselves into civilian neighborhoods around Baghdad. And it's anticipated there will still be attempts by these Fedayeen and paramilitary groups to ambush any U.S. forces coming into the city. The aim being, of course, on the part of the remaining Iraqis to draw American blood.
ZAHN: And then with Iraqi security forces vanished from the streets of Baghdad, looting broke out around 4:00 a.m. Eastern time. Many Iraqis descended on deserted government ministries, police stations and military posts. Dozens of people were seen carting away furniture, fixtures, other office supplies. Some even used pickup trucks for their loot. A senior U.S. general said that while he is concerned about the looting it's largely an outgrowth of the jubilation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIG. GEN. VINCE BROOKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Much of Iraq is free from years of oppression. Televisions across the world today are filled with images of jubilant Iraqis who know the regime is coming to an end. There is still work to be done, and the coalition remains confident of the outcome.
In the course of the campaign young men and women have sacrificed their lives for this cause, and we continue to remember them...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: While looting was on the upswing in Baghdad, it appeared to be on the decline in Basra after many stories confirming the fact that looters had stolen large quantities of food to sell on the black market.
Then at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time, Basra was reported calm following two days of that kind of looting. British forces in control of the southern city are turning their attention to its pressing humanitarian needs. Observers say there is much work to be done. The city's main hospital is filled with patients wounded in this past weekend's fighting, and just one third of its doctors showed up for work today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Paula.
Despite the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, pockets of resistance remain. CNN's Martin Savidge was with a U.S. Marine battalion at about 9:00 a.m. Eastern, when it suddenly came under heavy fire in Baghdad.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): For the 1st Battalion 7th Marines the road into Baghdad was paved with cheers, waves and smiles. For the young Marines who battled for three weeks to reach the capital, it was a moment to savor.
But not everyone in the city apparently welcomed their presence. Photographer Scott McWinny (ph) was riding with a lead assault team crossing over the Tigris River when an Iraqi gun boat down below suddenly opened fire. The Marines immediately returned fire, pointing their machine guns into the water below silencing the attack.
Moments later the trailing convoy began taking fire from the campus of Baghdad University. Machine gun rounds and Rocket Propelled Grenades were striking at the armored column. Infantry scattered to take cover and begin organizing a counterattack, supported by armored personnel carriers and tanks. At one point an APC acted as a battering ram, punching through an outer wall, allowing the marines to move in. From the tall grass surrounding the campus they organized firing teams of machine guns, Iraqi opposition hitting them from several different buildings.
With disciplined bursts the fire teams took on their targets. High on their lists -- pickup trucks armed with machine guns. One after another they were destroyed. In the words of commanders, this was a full-on fight.
But as big as it looked, the engagement was limited only to the campus. while Iraqis celebrated only blocks away, these young Marines were involved in the fight of their lives. The battle reached its peak when the fighting ignited a huge storage of anti-aircraft ammunition, touching off a deadly firestorm.
Eventually, all of it stopped and the Marines moved in to check their kills. Some clearly wondering if they might have just taken part in the last battle for Baghdad.
Martin Savidge, CNN, with the 1st Battalion 7th Marines, Baghdad.
ZAHN: And then during the 9:00 a.m. hour Eastern time we heard about celebrations in northern Iraq. There was joy in Erbil, the administrative capital of the Iraqi Kurds. People danced in the streets, waved flags, honked car horns to show delight over the day's developments. Pictures of Saddam Hussein were slashed and burned.
Despite those festivities there was continued fighting in some parts of northern Iraq. The Associated Press reported that U.S. and Kurdish forces captured a radar and communications center 10 miles northeast of Mosul, the largest city still under the regime's control -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Paula.
After the break, we'll pick up our timeline in the 10:00 A.M. hour.
An image to last a lifetime. Baghdad falls into coalition hands as a symbol of Saddam Hussein's power falls to the ground.
Plus, voices of celebration weren't limited to Iraq. CNN's Jamie Colby is live now from Dearborn, Michigan.
JAMIE COLBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 2,000 Iraqis here in Michigan have their own day long celebration. We'll have that when the timeline continues next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Obviously, Wolf didn't know he was on the air there. So I'll pick up from there. In Baghdad today at 10:00 A.M. Eastern time the city explodes in celebration. U.S. officials say there is no sign of Saddam's regime remaining in the capital. Around the city statues of the leader were toppled much like his control of the country. A look now at how the fall of Baghdad unfolded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking a little while, but we're here now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're glad to be here, helping out the people of Iraq. Helping liberate Iraq. It feels good to come in here and see everyone waving to us. And we're glad to do our job, be here and help all these people out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am very happy. I am very happy to see this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Saddam's regime is coming to an end.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very, very, very happy. Very happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
ZAHN: This was not the picture the Pentagon wanted to see.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: At about an hour after those celebrations erupted in Baghdad there was a similar reaction in an American city.
Jamie Colby reports on the hundreds who gathered in the heart of the Arab-American community to celebrate the fall of Baghdad.
Good evening -- Jamie.
COLBY: Paula, good evening. And right now the crowd has left but I would guess there may have been as many as 1,000 people here. Dearborn is a suburb of Detroit. It is the largest concentration of Iraqis in the U.S. Today they hit the streets, celebrating what they're calling their victory and the victory of those they left behind. Many escaped the regime, and they are here enjoying life in America.
Now they are excited that the freedoms will be shared by family and friends back home. They honked their horn in the streets. Within minutes of hearing of the news of the toppling of the regime they also assembled in front of the mosque here in town. Also, as those first pictures came through, they say they celebrated the first taste of freedom that they had waited 35 years to savor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are 4 million Iraqis in exile. Two million Iraqis got killed by Saddam. Hundred of thousand of men and women and children end up prison. So what can you expect? It is a celebration. Thanks god.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're happy that Saddam Hussein is gone and the children are having peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a beautiful day. It's not for me, for all Iraqi guys. For all the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLBY: And Paula, they say many of them, that they will go back to see family and friends. Some of the people involved with that mosque are going back to help with the new government. They have plans to be as helpful as they can. They want to share the freedoms they have here. And today at the rally that they had here at this park some of the people took a last parting shot at Saddam.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish he's alive so I can kill him again and so I can see him actually dead. That what I'd like to see.
COLBY: And as we saw, Paula, in Southern California today as well, lots of celebration. A feeling of joy and relief. Many here in Dearborn say they were glued to their television sets watching the developments. They have thanks for the U.S. government, for the coalition forces, and for all the soldiers who gave them this day that they've waited so long to have -- Paula.
ZAHN: Jamie Colby reporting from Dearborn, Michigan, tonight. Thank you so much. And a little bit later on in our next half hour, we will be meeting more Iraqi-Americans to get their reaction to the day's events.
Let's go back to Wolf now in Kuwait City.
BLITZER: Thanks, Paula.
In the 2:00 hour the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, issues a warning, the war is far from over. Rumsfeld, said at the Pentagon that while the tide is turning in Iraq there will be more fighting and more people killed before victory can be declared.
More now from, Donald Rumsfeld.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: We still must capture, account for, or otherwise deal with Saddam Hussein and his sons and the senior Iraqi leadership. We still must find and ensure the safe return of prisoners of war. Those captured in this war as well as any still held from the last Gulf War. Americans and other nationals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: And when we come back, our timeline will pick up in the 5:00 hour at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He walked out, sat on the ground, and exclaimed, "they got it down!"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: We're going to tell you how the president reacted to the day's news.
Plus a look at what is happening right now in Iraq. We're going to wrap up our timeline with a live report from Baghdad. Please stay with us.
ZAHN: We pick up our timeline at 5:00 P.M. Eastern at the White House, where today's events in Baghdad were viewed with a sense of caution. Still, the president's chief spokesman called it an historic moment.
More now from senior White House correspondent John King.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A powerful snapshot but with the celebration came a challenge for a White House determined to make clear down does not mean out and that the war is hardly over. RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There may well be hard fighting yet ahead. Regime forces are still in control in Northern Iraq, in Mosul and Kirkuk and Tikrit.
KING: Yet with the caution came a small dose of "we told you so."
CHENEY: In the early days of the war the plan was criticized by some retired military officers embedded in TV studios. But with every day and every advance by our coalition forces the wisdom of that plan becomes more apparent.
KING: As the troops press on, the administration is accelerating planning for post-war Iraq. Retired Army General Jay Garner leads the civil authority that will move in soon and run key services until power can be handed over to a new interim Iraqi authority. The administration blueprint still has no firm timetable for getting the interim authority up and running, but planning meetings in southern Iraq will begin as early as next week, involving a mix of indigenous Iraqis and exiles and dissidents now returning home, with general Tommy Franks in charge of the invitations. The hope is that with Saddam Hussein out of the picture local leaders will naturally emerge to help shape the new authority.
FLEISCHER: The president has very high levels of faith in the ability of the Iraqi people to govern themselves and make these decisions for themselves.
KING: Iraqi National Congress leader Amhad Chalabi is a favorite of many top Bush advisers, and will be among those invited to post war planing sessions. But his complaints that the admiration is moving to slowly with reconstruction efforts have annoyed even some of his top administration supporters. And officials stress he is but one of many voices in the post-war political debate.
KING: The president watched some of the coverage today of the dramatic moments in the streets of Baghdad around that statue of Saddam Hussein. The president is obviously pleased, but he is telling top aides it is not yet time to declare victory. One message the White House hopes, though, today's powerful pictures send on this historic day is a message across the Arab world that this is an American military in a war of liberation, not preparing for any long- term occupation -- Paula.
ZAHN: So John, what does the White House then see as the biggest obstacle getting in the way of proving to the Iraqi public that that's why indeed they are there as liberators, not invaders?
KING: They believe it could take several weeks, Paula, to get this interim Iraqi authority up and running. In the meantime, you will have a U.S.-led, led by a retired general, civil administration in place, easy for the critics to say, look, the Americans are now running Iraq. The administration says it will move as quickly as possible to get Iraqis in charge of key functions. It believes it can do some of that perhaps in a matter of weeks, but they say simply until they get the troops into those other cities, until they are sure the military victory is locked solid, they have to deal with that first before they can deal with those other, quite important but secondary at the moment political concerns.
ZAHN: And in spite of what the world witnessed in downtown Baghdad today and that dramatic tearing down of that statue, Baghdad remains a very dangerous place. What do administration officials say off the record about the kind of challenges forces face in the days to come.
KING: One thing the administration is concerned about, Paula, is they believe these pictures do send a powerful message across the Arab world. What they are worried about is that the American people will see these pictures and think mission accomplished. This is a snapshot of downtown Baghdad. There are still skirmishes throughout the city, as our correspondents with the troops have told us.
And there are several large cities, including Saddam Hussein's home base of Tikrit that U.S. troops have not set foot in yet. So what the administration is concerned about is that the American people will think this is over, time for the next chapter, and then there will come a day of heavy fighting, perhaps high casualties, and that will come as a shock. The administration says it is still a very dangerous business.
ZAHN: John King, thanks so much.
The day's dramatic events include the death toll of U.S. forces passing the 100 mark. Here is a look at the casualty figures from the war in Iraq. According to the Pentagon, 101 killed, 86 as a result of hostile action, 15 non-hostile. Three-hundred-ninety-nine wounded. Eleven missing in action. Seven prisoners of war. The British Defense Ministry says 31
British troops are dead, nine hostile, 20 non-hostile, two undetermined. There are an unknown number of British wounded missing and no prisoners. The Iraqi Military has not provided casualty information, but U.S. officials report thousands of Iraqi military deaths and more than 7,300 Iraqi POWs. Abu Dhabi TV citing official Iraqi sources reports that 1252 civilians have been killed, 5,103 wounded. Because of the chaos in Baghdad the International Red Cross says it had to suspend its operations in the city and it is warning of a looming humanitarian crisis. Back to Wolf now.
BLITZER: Thanks, Paula.
Our timeline now takes us to the present. It's been a historic and chaotic day in the city that has frankly seen it all. The live picture you're looking at cannot tell the real story of what's happening in Baghdad at this hour.
For that we turn to Craig Nelson of "Cox Newspapers." He's at the Palestine Hotel, right in the heart of Baghdad.
I know it's in the middle of the night, almost daybreak over there.
What can you tell us, Craig? What's the mood? What's unfolding?
CRAIG NELSON, "AJC/COX NEWSPAPERS": The mood is one of relief around the Palestine Hotel. As you know, Wolf, yesterday there were two journalists killed here by a tank shell that hit the hotel about 12 floors above me. Today the same the lobby of the hotel, which yesterday had Iraqi Information Ministry people in it, monitoring our every movement, is full of Marines. So the -- there's a very, very different mood here, one of security, at least around this particular block.
Outside of it I think it's a very volatile situation. We saw looting today. We saw people wounded on the streets. We saw a lot of various situations, difficult situations that are going to require a lot of policing. We talked to the U.S. Marine commander here of the armored unit that came up Sadoon Street earlier this afternoon, and he told us that he was -- the Marines weren't in the business of policing, they were in the business of war. And he was pushing for bringing other troops here to do that policing as soon as possible.
BLITZER: Is there a really visible Marine, U.S. Army presence in Baghdad as far as you can tell, or are they only at sort of sporadic locations?
NELSON: They're only at sporadic locations. I think they've been very, very selective about where they've camped. They want defensible perimeters. They're frightened about suicide bombers. Saddam's Fedayeen haven't been wiped out. So I think they've been very, very careful about setting up camps in protectable places. And right now, right behind me, we have scores and scores of tanks and armored vehicles. We also have hundreds of Marines and they've set up a perimeter on this hotel for the night.
BLITZER: Craig Nelson, of "Cox Newspaper." He is at the Palestine Hotel, a hotel full of U.S. right now, at least in the lobby and around that hotel.
Craig be careful over there. Thanks very much for joining us.
Paula, dramatic developments unfolding. We're watching history.
ZAHN: We certainly are.
There was one point this morning when we were watching this all happen where we wondered what else we might see during the day. Everybody had their seat belts on, basically.
As John King just made very clear from the White House, Saddam Hussein's regime may be toppled, but the coalition still has plenty of work to do. Coming up: What's next for Iraq? From its economy to its government, we'll take an in-depth look at the country's future.
LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES continues right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Tanks roll in. Symbols fall. Iraqis cheer.
RUMSFELD: Anyone seeing the faces of the liberated Iraqis, the free Iraqis, has to say that this is a very good day.
ANNOUNCER: But are all Iraqis happy about the fall of Saddam Hussein? In some cities: looting, chaos, lawlessness.
AHMAD CHALABI, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS: Well, we have heard the reports of widespread looting and destruction of government offices. This is a problem.
ANNOUNCER: Who will police Iraq?
And there's a lot of money at stake: trillions in oil, billions in trade and rebuilding. Who will get a piece of the money pie?
This half-hour, LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES, day 22: What happens next?
ZAHN: It has been a very long day in Iraq, filled with so many contrasting images: celebration, fighting, chaos. At day's end, many were left wondering, what lies ahead?
RUMSFELD: This is a good day for the Iraqi people.
ZAHN (voice-over): But has it been? Amidst the jubilant celebration: constant reminders that this is a country on the edge, a country with a very uncertain future. Just miles from the dancing, in Firdos Square, Martin Savidge was embedded with the 1st Marines, who were engaged in a fierce firefight at Baghdad university.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is smoke coming from some of the buildings. We can hear now a lot of gunfire coming from another direction. This may be other units, other Marine units, closing from a different direction. To be honest, this was not the exact reception we anticipated.
ZAHN: This is a fight that's far from over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have men and women out there in harm's way all over Iraq. There are still pockets of very serious resistance. Our troops continue to come under fire in many places.
ZAHN: And beyond these pockets of resistance lies chaos, widespread looting from Baghdad to Basra of everything that isn't nailed down, hospitals packed with the injured, and, according to the International Red Cross, ground fire casualties stranded on the battlefield because coalition and Iraqi forces aren't letting ambulances through. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
ROLAND HUGUENIN-BENJAMIN, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: What we observed today is that there is a big problem of lack of security in the area where the military engagement has been going on. We are very concerned that a large number of casualties have not been evacuated.
ZAHN: Through it all, in the shadows, the ever-present question: Where is Saddam Hussein?
RUMSFELD: He's not been around. He's not active. Therefore, he's either dead or he's incapacitated or he's healthy and cowering in some tunnel someplace, trying to avoid being caught.
ZAHN: And beyond Saddam Hussein and his sons, the question of who will lead Iraq into its very uncertain future. What lies ahead for this country, for these people, starting over?
BLITZER: Both the White House and the Pentagon stressed today that the war in Iraq is far from over. But when it is over, rebuilding Iraq could be a daunting task.
Joining me now to talk about the rebuilding efforts, two people familiar with what comes after regime change: here in Kuwait, CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour; and, in Washington, retired General Wesley Clark, our CNN military analyst.
Let me begin with you, General Clark, on an unrelated matter, but something interesting. Our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, has now confirmed that the U.S. military has moved its newest and biggest bomb out here to the Persian Gulf, the so-called MOAB, a 21,000-pound bomb, the mother of all bombs, as it's nicknamed. No indication it's going to be used for anything.
But what do you make of this development, to move that new bomb, that huge bomb, out here?
RET. GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, my guess is, Wolf, the planning was already done to move the bomb. It came time to start the movement. We're not quite sure when it was completed. And it was done as a precautionary or deterrent measure. It's there in case it's needed.
BLITZER: That bomb presumably would be used to go way down into some deep underground bunker and destroy whatever is underneath, right?
CLARK: It would either be used for that, depending on the fusing, or it would create a massive overpressure at the surface, taking down lots of buildings, mine fields, surface fortifications, revetments, storage areas, and so forth.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about rebuilding Iraq after this war. I want to bring in Christiane Amanpour. She's here in Kuwait with me.
Christiane, some people say the hard work is only now just beginning.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, even before one talks about the rebuilding, is the immediate, stepping into the current vacuum that exists, now that the troops have swept through, they've pretty much quelled and removed the regime all over the place, now what?
And we're seeing these pictures. One doesn't want to overemphasize the looting and suggest that this is going to be a lawless, chaotic place. But, certainly, people are worried that that is what might happen. And we've seen already in towns such as Basra, which have had no regime there, no government structure, no infrastructure for the last week or so, that people are asking for some law and order to be imposed. And the British there have been saying that: Look, we're not a police force. We're still in the war- fighting mode.
So, I think the question is security, security, security right now and humanitarian assistance.
BLITZER: Well, let's bring back General Clark.
U.S. military, whether Marines or soldiers, they're warriors. They're not police officers. Who's going to stop the looting? Who's going to bring that kind of security to the big cities of Iraq?
CLARK: Well, I can't imagine that the U.S. forces won't. We've been in a number of these situations in the past, Wolf. We've always said to ourselves, we're not going to do police work. But then, eventually, because we have to maintain order, we don't exactly do police detective work, but we certainly maintain -- have maintained a presence in places like Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo.
We have intimidated looters and those who'd bring violence and disorder to the streets. And, where necessary, we've acted against them. There's no reason to think it can't and won't happen here. But one thing is in favor of Iraq, Wolf, as we're thinking about these other cases. Iraq is not a failed state. Until we toppled Saddam's regime, it did at least have municipal services and other facilities, to some degree.
BLITZER: Well, Christiane, you've covered Kosovo. You've covered Bosnia. You saw the military step in there and effectively recreate that regime, those regimes over there, in effect. Can they do it in Iraq?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think so. And I think General Clark is absolutely right. The military sort of cliche is, we're a fighting force, not a police force.
But, of course, in these situations, when there is a vacuum and when there is nothing there to rely on, no police force -- it looks like the entire sort of security apparatus has dissolved or gone away, wherever it is -- they will have to step in. And, of course, they can do it. I don't know, in terms of numbers, whether they need many more people on the ground. Certainly, some in the military have been saying that they need more people on the ground now.
But, look, there's no getting away from it. One of the big fears before this war started was the post-war situation. We're seeing the looting. Again, let's not overemphasize. I mean, the place hasn't descended into total chaos, but people have been worried about factionalism, about the whole ethnic squabbles that could happen there. So there are concerns.
And you yourself talked to Ahmad Chalabi, one of the exiled leaders who's back, and literally screaming for some kind of help now.
BLITZER: He said: "Where is Garner? Where is Garner?," referring to General Jay Garner, who's supposed to lead this interim authority.
General Clark, if you take a look at this situation in Iraq right now and you look at the immediate dangers facing the U.S., what goes through your mind?
CLARK: Well, first of all, you've got to get out to the northern cities. You've got to get people on the ground there and either accept or compel the surrender of the remaining Saddam loyalists, if there are any. But you've got to have people on the ground to do this. And the more rapidly, the better.
Secondly, in these areas that we've already swept through, like Najaf or Basra or Nasiriyah, we've got to go back in there and we've got to assure that order is maintained. We need to put some sort of local administrative authority there, someone who can represent the needs of the people to us. And, third, then we've got to get the pipelines flowing for humanitarian relief and water.
BLITZER: Well, it's going to take a lot of U.S. military personnel.
Unfortunately, General Clark, we have to leave it right there.
Christiane, thanks very much, as usual.
General Clark, thanks to you as well.
Paula, maybe the Army chief was right when he said it would require 200,000 U.S. troops staying there for a prolonged period of time. He got into some significant trouble for throwing out that number. But, you know, it's going to take a lot of work -- Paula.
ZAHN: Yes, I guess those numbers certainly will be tested, won't they? Thanks, Wolf.
The joy among many Iraqis today in Baghdad was evident, but what do Iraqis here in the U.S. think? Coming up, Iraqi-Americans speak out on the future of their homeland.
Please stay with us.
ZAHN: And by now, this video is probably pretty familiar to most of our audience. And that was the dramatic tearing-down of that enormous statue of Saddam Hussein, followed by a U.S. Marine quickly wrapping the Saddam Hussein's head in an American flag. And that, too, then quickly came down. We'll watch this sequence of video.
But help our audience understand all these sensitivity surrounding the perception on some Iraqis' part that this represents a U.S. occupation, not liberation.
INTISSAR ANN ALKAFAJI, IRAQI-AMERICAN: First of all, I think we need to understand what is happening in the Middle East and what is happening in particular with the Iraqi people.
I think what we do after the war will be very crucial. We need to really mean what we say and provide total democracy to the Iraqi people. We should have a government that is totally representative of all the people of Iraq, of all the segments of Iraq, especially right now, when all the entire Arabic world is fuming, thinking this is an invasion.
If we make a wonderful model, a wonderful democratic government within Iraq, then the rest of the Arab world will be taking a look and will be saying: Hey, this is a wonderful government. Maybe this is really -- will work for us as well.
I think we will gain their trust and it will be the most wonderful thing we can ever do for the people of Iraq. Give hope to the hopeless. Give voice to the voiceless people of Iraq. That's what they need most right now. They need the peace and they need some understanding and some help to put them back on their feet, give them a democratic government.
ZAHN: Ahdid, are you confident that democracy will eventually take root in Iraq?
AHDID MIRI, IRAQI-AMERICAN: Absolutely.
The Iraqi society is ready, capable, willing. The Iraqi society is a very diverse society. It has all the infrastructure to embrace democracy. The foundations of democracy, however, have to be wrapped up by prosperity, by the rule of law, by equality, by true representation of all ethnic minorities. The fabric of the Iraqi society is a very colorful fabric. And it can really function in a very colorful way for the rest of the region. It needs that golden opportunity.
And I think this opportunity is at hand today. And the opportunity today is in having also a great partnership with the United States. There is also a responsibility for both parties, the United States and the Iraqi people, to make this happen. And I'm fully confident that it will happen. ZAHN: Husham, I want you to share with us a little bit about what happened in Dearborn today, when a rally, for the most part a celebratory rally, was held. And then, at one point, I guess some of those celebrators started to surround some members of an Al-Jazeera crew and it got pretty nasty. Did you see that happen?
IMAM HUSHAM AL-HUSAINY, IRAQI-AMERICAN: Yes. I was there and I saw what's happened. And, actually, they wanted to interview me, too.
But the Iraqi people reflected their feeling, because they thought that Al-Jazeera did not share them their feeling. And so many Arab people, they got caught in between, I guess. They wanted to defend their Arab nationalism, but they got trapped to be on Saddam's side. So, this is the time to prove to the Iraqi people that they are with them.
And whoever is supporting the Iraqi people, hears the Iraqi people, share us our celebration, share us our happiness, share us our liberation, and we'll forget about the past and we'll start a new page and new Iraq, new democratic Iraq, new bright future for Iraq.
ZAHN: And just as people are watching the pictures, I wanted to clarify the fact that I guess seven police officers at one point had to form a ring around the Al-Jazeera reporter and the producer and the cameraman to make sure they were safe.
Intissar, I want to come back to you for a moment. Have you had any contact with your family in Baghdad since today's dramatic developments?
ALKAFAJI: We have not had any contact with them for over two weeks right now.
And, really, it's like, with all the tearful joy that we have had today, my heart is still somewhat sad. I mean, I want to hear from them. I want to know what's going on. And I think this is what we need to do right away. Yes, our government, the United States government, needs to gain the trust of the Iraqi people. And the first thing we need to do is to do some humanitarian aid immediately, get the phone lines back on, get them some water, get their electricity back on. Once we start that process going, then we will really gain more trust within Iraq.
But I haven't heard from my family. A lot of people have not heard from their family. And we're all worried, especially when I see the looting, which is kind of normal. Chaos usually comes after a great period of oppression by a certain government. But I am very hopeful that everybody will be OK. And I know that they are cheering, just like we are cheering here today.
My brother was taken by the Iraqi government a long time ago, back in 1980. And so I know firsthand what it feels to lose a member of your family to an oppressive regime.
ZAHN: Well, we appreciate all three of you sharing your reactions with us this evening, Intissar, Ahdid, and Husham. Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it very much.
AL-HUSAINY: Thank you.
MIRI: Thank you, Paula.
ALKAFAJI: Thank you. Thank you.
ZAHN: U.S. troops control much of Baghdad now, but if Iraq becomes a democracy, who will lead the country? Coming up, we're going to talk to a member of the Iraqi National Congress.
Please stay with us.
BLITZER: The collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime has left a void in Iraq's leadership. The question now: Who will lead the country into the future?
I'm joined now by Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein. He's a member of the Iraqi National Congress and a cousin of the last Iraqi king, Faisal II.
Thanks very much, sir, for joining us.
What's your assessment? How long is it going to take for Iraqis to control their own destiny?
SHARIF ALI BIN AL HUSSEIN, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS: Well, hopefully, it shouldn't take too long.
Iraq, as General Wesley Clark said, is not a failed state. It had a functioning economy and, in fact, a functioning government. Our problem was that the government itself was pathologically inclined and it was a terrible dictatorship. So, now that that government is gone, really, we should look to empowering the Iraqi people as quickly as possible.
BLITZER: Is there a clear leader who should emerge as the next leader of Iraq? As you know, your colleague, Ahmad Chalabi, is now in southern Iraq with a group of supporters called the Free Iraqi Fighters. Do you think he should emerge as the next leader of Iraq?
AL HUSSEIN: Well, I don't think anybody on the outside should really look to impose themselves on the Iraqi people or should be appointed by the United States or the United Nations.
Really, this -- our struggle has been about giving the Iraqi people on the inside the chance to choose a system of government that they want and who should lead them. And, really, this is our opportunity to show that we're true to our word and give the Iraqi people that chance. We should engage with them. We should give them the opportunity for all Iraqis, now that they are free, to hear their voice, after so many decades of being oppressed.
BLITZER: Well, given this iron rule of Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party, the regime, there's no one, I take it, on the inside, sort of like a Hamid Karzai, who emerged within Afghanistan, who might be acceptable to all the various groups within Iraq. Is that your sense?
AL HUSSEIN: Well, we don't know until we ask.
And that's what I'm saying, that we can't automatically assume that there is nobody and that the politicians on the outside know best. Really, it shouldn't be like that at all. We have to give the Iraqis, whom all the struggle has been about, the chance to speak for themselves, to voice their own opinion, and to join with the political leaderships that have been on the outside in building a post-Saddam Iraq.
Otherwise, we end up being like a Hamid Karzai, whose -- from all reports, whose control doesn't extend beyond Kabul and the influence of American troops. We don't want that kind of situation. We want people who are representative of the Iraqi people.
BLITZER: What about you? Are you planning on going back to Iraq?
AL HUSSEIN: Well, definitely. And we are planning to go back. Hopefully, I'm planning to go back within the next few days, if that opportunity arises.
But I don't look to foist myself on the Iraqi people. Really, what I'm trying to do is get the Iraqi people engaged, to find out what they want, to get them in the process, to work towards an interim authority that will look after the interests of the Iraqi people and, for the first time, the Iraqi people share in their deciding their own fate, and not have somebody declare that they know what is best for them.
BLITZER: Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein, thanks for joining us from London. And we wish you and your supporters -- obviously, this is a tumultuous, tumultuous time. But congratulations. I know how excited you must be.
Paula, you were there. You were on the air this morning when you saw that statue go down. I take it, it must have been an electrifying moment to be an anchor watching what was happening.
ZAHN: It was electrifying.
And, at the same time, it was a confused picture at that moment, because, you might remember, Martin Savidge had just reached Baghdad University's campus, where he endured some heavy fire. So we had a morning of contrasts. It really was a remarkable morning.
BLITZER: It was indeed, Paula. Thanks so much. As usual, love working with you.
We're going to have to leave it right there. We're going to have much more coverage coming up throughout the night. "LARRY KING LIVE" up next, followed by "NEWSNIGHT WITH AARON BROWN," right after a quick review of all the late-breaking developments.
Good night, Paula.
ZAHN: And good night, Wolf.
We hope you'll still need to learn more tomorrow morning, so you'll join us first thing in the morning. I'll be back here at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time.
Again, thanks for joining Wolf and me tonight.
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