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LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES

Coalition Faces Task of Rebuilding Iraq; Mobile Labs Found in Iraq; U.S. Puts Syria on Notice

Aired April 14, 2003 - 19:00   ET

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

ANNOUNCER: From mopping up the fighting to stopping the looting, the daunting job of rebuilding Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, you know, these things have to be done in baby steps.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Plus, a find that looks like Iraq's mobile weapons laboratories.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dual use, chemical and biological. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) empty shells.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: And Syria is put on notice, could it be next?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They are a state that sponsors terrorism. They have no reason to do that.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have seen chemical weapons tests in Syria over the past 12, 15 months.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will examine possible measures of diplomatic, economic or other nature.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Will victory in Iraq make Syria and North Korea clean up their act? Live from Baghdad, Washington, Doha and cities around the globe, LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES with Paula Zahn in New York and Wolf Blitzer in Doha, Qatar.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Welcome to LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES. I'm Paula Zahn.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Paula. I'm Wolf Blitzer now Doha, Qatar. Also coming up this hour, several major developments we're watching including a controversial cleanup. Oil fires in Iraq, and Dick Cheney's old company Halliburton is chosen for the job. But they were reportedly the only ones on the ballot. Is favoritism at play? Some answers from the White House this hour.

But first, a potentially, potentially explosive find in Iraq earlier today. Eleven mobile labs were found buried near a weapons plant near Karbala. The 20 by 20 foot metal containers like those seen on semis didn't have banned weapons inside. It is the first, though, evidence, ever found about such labs, direct evidence inside Iraq. Is it the elusive so-called smoking gun? Here is CNN's Ryan Chilcote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The 101st Airborne Division has been inspecting several sites where they believe elements of an Iraqi chemical and biological weapons program may have been hidden. Last week, near the central Iraqi city of Karbala, they found one such site that they say is very suspicious. A short while ago, I spoke with Brigadier General Benjamin Freakly about what they found at that site.

BRIG. GEN. BENJAMIN FREAKLY, U.S. ARMY: In Karbala, when we were fighting there with the 2nd Brigade, the 2nd Brigade found about 11 buried CONEXes, large, metal 20 by probably 20 foot vans buried in the ground. They are dual use chemical labs, biological and chemical, about 1,000 pounds of documentation were found in that. And they were close to an artillery ammunition plant. So this is consistent with the Iraqi denial, Iraqi -- former Iraqi leadership denial of doing anything, any wrongdoing.

CHILCOTE: The general went on to say that the equipment inside of those laboratories, what he is describing as mobile chemical and biological laboratories that they found hidden under the ground there is worth about $1 million and appears to have been purchased subsequent to the year 2000. Basically, he is implying that the Iraqis did not supply this information in the Iraqi declaration to the United Nations on their biological or chemical weapons program.

Now, it is important to note, and we don't want to sensationalize these findings, it is important to note that this is not the first site that the 101st has inspected. There have been false alarms. A week ago, the 101st found a site where they believed they had either found nerve agent or high grade pesticide. Today the general told me that turned out to be high grade pesticide. These inspections really require slow and tedious work, and they need to be treated both by the inspectors and the media as such. It is inappropriate to expect quick results. But the 101st believes that they have enough hard and interesting information, findings at this site to continue their investigation.

Ryan Chilcote, CNN, with 101st Airborne in southern Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And even as the fighting dies down in Iraq, the Bush administration is turning up the diplomatic pressure on its neighbor to the west, Syria. Just like Iraq, Syria is predominantly Muslim. It is on the list of states that sponsors terrorism and is run by the same political party, the Baath Party that kept Saddam Hussein in power. Well, today the Syrians heard a chorus of warnings from the highest levels of the Bush administration. Our national security correspondent David Ensor looks at the reasons why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beyond the warnings to Damascus from the Bush administration, some specific allegations.

RUMSFELD: We have intelligence that indicates that some Iraqi people have been allowed into Syria, in some cases to stay, in some cases to transit.

ENSOR: Family members of some senior Iraqi leaders and senior Baath Party officials are desperately trying to get into Syria, said Pentagon officials, and may try to go from there to Libya. But other U.S. officials, while they confirm evidence some lower level Iraqis may have crossed the border, say there is in fact no evidence any senior Iraqi leader has been allowed into Syria thus far. Pentagon officials also say Syria should resist the temptation to acquire Iraqi scientists to help with its chemical weapons program.

RUMSFELD: We have seen chemical weapons tests in Syria over the past 12, 15 months.

ENSOR: A recent CIA report says Syria has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin and is trying to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents. Syria denies it has any weapons of mass destruction.

GEOFFREY KEMP, NIXON CENTER: Someone said that with the demise of Saddam Hussein, there is now a vacancy in the axis of evil, and that Syria is a natural candidate to join the axis.

ENSOR: But it is not that simple. Complicating the picture, Syria's help in the war on terrorism. Secretary of State Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year that, quote, "The president has taken note of Syria's cooperation on al Qaeda. Syria's cooperation in this regard has been substantial, and has helped save American lives." Furthermore, analysts say, the U.S. has limited leverage over Damascus. Military action, they say, would not make sense.

KEMP: The danger is that if you get involved with Syria in a military way, it is very difficult to see how Israel would be left out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR: Still, Assad deeply angered the U.S. by allowing fighters into Iraq to try to kill Americans. The pressure on him from here is now likely to be unrelenting -- Paula. ZAHN: So, David, in your piece we just heard a little bit of Syria's reactions to these charges. What else didn't we hear in that piece?

ENSOR: Well, striking that you have Secretary Rumsfeld saying that the U.S. has evidence of chemical weapons tests in the last 12 to 15 months. We asked Syria's ambassador to the United States, does Syria have a chemical weapons program? Here is how he answered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSTOM AL-ZOUBI, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Unfortunately the Americans wouldn't like to believe us. We said that many times, that we haven't weapons of mass destruction, including, of course, biological and chemical weapons. We don't have weapons of mass destruction. Although our land is still occupied, we are under the threat of aggression by Israel, but we don't have such weapons of mass destruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ENSOR: Ambassador Al-Zoubi of Syria -- Paula.

ZAHN: David Ensor, thanks very much. Coming up in this half hour, CNN's "CROSSFIRE" will take an in-depth look at Syria and the so-called axis of evil. Join Bob Novak and James Carville at 7:30 straight up -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula. Small fights may still break out in parts of Iraq. But major combat operations, at least according to the Pentagon, are now over. That includes the battle for Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. U.S. Marines didn't encounter much opposition of any opposition at all when they swept through the town earlier today. For more on the strategy, and the latest developments, let's turn to CNN's Miles O'Brien in the CNN newsroom -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.S. military was concerned that Tikrit might be sort of a last stand for those most loyal to the Saddam Hussein regime. But it didn't turn out that way at all. The Marines used Cobra helicopters and some light armored vehicles, eight wheeled vehicles that are machine gun platforms to sweep through that town of Tikrit. There you see it right there.

Not needed to have that heavy armor that might have been anticipated. They did suspect there might be as many as 2,500 members of the Republican Guard there, defending the city, which is 90 miles up the Tigris river from Baghdad. Instead, it was virtually a ghost town or so it seemed. The Marines say when people did finally get up the courage to speak to them, they pointed them in the direction of weapons caches and Baath Party loyalists.

There is evidence the Republican Guard was there fairly recently, but as one resident put it, they just sort of evaporated. That's the story we heard over and over again. There was some pockets of resistance as you see in these pictures. Mostly small arms fire traded. Take a look quickly at this satellite imagery and we'll tell you why there is such a big concern about Tikrit. You'll see Tikrit is up here. It is located about 90 miles north of Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's hometown. We'll take you down to the palace compound there, which is the biggest one we found of Saddam Hussein's many palaces, which he spent billions on. Take a look at this. This is the main palace in this compound, which stretches 1.5 miles by 2.5 miles, and is obviously a place that his family and friends and clan members are all a part of.

We'll take a look around here. It is near a body of water, right along the Tigris river. Beneath here, we're told, is a network of bunkers and tunnels, another familiar story for you. And over here to the side, if you look very carefully, there is a small air strip, perhaps somewhat tantalizingly, you have to wonder if that air strip might have come into use during the course of this war, not for heavy aircraft but nonetheless might possibly be an escape route.

But as it turns out in the case of Tikrit, it was -- there are many people there who have no love lost for the Saddam Hussein regime -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, Miles. And with U.S. troops in Tikrit, other units are trying to restore order to the rest of Iraq. That includes freedom for 18 Kuwaiti POWs. Abu Dhabi TV is reporting they were found in a dungeon in Baghdad today. It is believed they were taken when Iraq invaded their country back in 1990. Kuwait says hundreds more of its citizens are still missing. Iraq had said it did not have any Kuwaiti POWs.

Meanwhile in the north, coalition commanders say all of Iraq's oil fields are under their control, including the ones in Kirkuk. Iraq's Northern Oil Company shut down when Kurdish forces swept the region last week. Now it says looters have taken the equipment they need to produce oil. The company produces a third of Iraq's oil.

Outside of Iraq, the U.S. military is now scaling back. Thousands of deployment orders for U.S. troops in Texas and Germany are now being revised. More signals the war is winding down.

Seven families are getting ready for a special homecoming dinners today for those seven POWs released early yesterday in Iraq. And some of them could be home sometime this week. Their first stop, Kuwait. Here are some of the highlights of the trip there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What rank are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I'm a pilot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got shot down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy that I'm going home. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy that I'm going home, to my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you all Marines! I love you all Marines!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: All those POWs ready to come home, and their families say they just don't know how patient they can be, wait until the end of the week when some of them are expected to arrive.

Still to come tonight, a contract worth billions to pump oil from Iraq to the rest of the world. Which countries will get it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Currently, it's thought Iraq exports about two million barrels a day, and it could increase triple to about six million barrels a day with the right kind of investment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Also ahead, from oil wells to oil fires and the controversy over who gets to clean them up. Was Vice President Dick Cheney involved in the deal to help out his old company?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has nothing at all to do with awarding these contracts, the bidding process or the current work orders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: You're watching CNN's LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back. U.S. Central Command says Iraq could be exporting oil again in weeks. But who exactly will get a share of it? And who will make that decision? CNN's Charles Hodson looks at what could be the next battle over Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES HODSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The world needs oil, and Iraq has it aplenty. But who will help it pump its way to renewed wealth? Everyone claims to agree Iraq's oil belongs to its people, and that oil revenues will go a long way to help rebuild the country. But many big international players want to get in on the act, too.

JOHN CORP, PETROLEUM ECONOMIST: It is the -- one of great oil plays. It is the second biggest reserves after Saudi Arabia in terms of liquid oil reserves. It's relatively simple geology, and it's a good crude, or both the crudes, both the main export crudes are good crudes, and you're also able to export both to the Mediterranean and to the Persian Gulf. So you can go west and east very easily.

HODSON (voice-over): While Iraq has huge supplies of oil, those who have been examining its oil producing infrastructure say it is not in great shape. The pumps are reportedly worn out, and the pipes need cleaning.

JAN RANDOLPH, WORLD MARKETS RESEARCH CENTER: It requires new investment in terms of spares and such. Like, currently Iraq exports about two million barrels a day and it could increase, triple, to about six million barrels a day, with the right kind of investment.

HODSON: The oil companies are keen to get a piece of the action, and many companies already have contacts or even contracts with the old Iraqi regime. Some French and Russian companies spent years negotiating deals with Saddam Hussein, deals that now they are frightened they'll lose.

(on camera): So Iraq may soon have the capacity to pump out vast amounts of oil. More oil means lower oil prices, not something welcomed by OPEC countries. And any deals negotiated with Saddam Hussein are likely to face intense scrutiny from any new Iraqi government. So while the old companies that do get involved will certainly benefit from Iraq's oil industry, there will be plenty of losers as well.

Charles Hodson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Among the likely winners as Iraq does get back into the oil business is the oil field services company called Halliburton. If that name sounds familiar, it's because the vice president, Dick Cheney, used to run that company. Our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, has been looking into questions of favoritism being raised by some of Cheney's critics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That is the perception in some quarters -- the war in Iraq is about oil. Protesters made much of the fact that the vice president was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000.

Adding fuel is this. Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded to Halliburton's subsidiary -- Kellogg, Brown & Root -- a contract worth at least $7 million to put out oil well fires in Iraq. A prominent Democrat wants an investigation into why other companies were not invited to compete.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: This is particularly troubling because Vice President Cheney came from Halliburton, received many, many millions of dollars from them, is still receiving some deferred compensation from Halliburton. BASH: But the Army Corps of Engineers says KBR did win a 2001 contract, positioning them to put out the oil fires, and they were the only company capable of handling the "complex, classified job." The vice president's office maintains he's severed all corporate ties with Halliburton -- "He has nothing at all to do with awarding these contracts, the bidding process, or the current work orders."

Mr. Cheney still receives compensation from Halliburton, about $150,000 annually until 2005. But that is his salary from 1999, which he chose to defer before running for vice president. And sources close to him say he gets the money no matter how Halliburton fares financially.

Despite the perception problems for the vice president, the leading expert says the reality is quite different.

PROFESSOR STEVE SCHOONER, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: There is really no chance that the vice president is actually exerting influence on this. One thing that's difficult to keep in mind is that award decisions for government contracts are made by career civil servants. The politically appointed leaders are not going to get to choose the contractors.

BASH: Industry insiders concede there is no question Halliburton hired Mr. Cheney for his contacts in Washington and the Middle East. Halliburton's government work double during his tenure there, but analysts say the relationship is different today.

JIM WICKLUND, BANC OF AMERICA ANALYST: No public company, I don't think, would be foolish enough to try and call in favors on such an obvious basis.

BASH: Halliburton says accusations of preferential treatment are off base -- that the company's government work dates back 60 years. Still there are signs they're aware of suggestions of favoritism.

Halliburton was invited to bid for a $600 million USAID contract as the primary rebuilder of Iraq's infrastructure. The company declined to compete for the high profile job, planning instead to bid for subcontracting work -- less likely to make headlines.

But the big contracts are yet to come. Iraq's oil fields haven't been upgrated in a dozen years, and Halliburton is likely to get some of the lucrative work to modernize them. So as one analyst put it, there are still partisan rocks yet to be thrown.

Dana Bash, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: A couple of private watchdog organizations say 51 companies, including some very big names, have been fined thousands of dollars for doing illegal business -- at least business illegally with several countries, including Iraq, Iran, Cuba and Sudan.

The list includes such companies as ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo Bank, Fleet Bank, Caterpillar, ESPN and the New York Yankees. The groups say the list is based on U.S. government documents obtained by a Freedom of Information lawsuit.

Much more coverage of the war in Iraq as soon as we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And we're back. The Pentagon is reporting one new military death in the Iraq war -- bringing the total to 118. Most were killed in hostile fire.

Nearly 500 U.S. troops have been wounded. The number of British troops killed stands at 31. Iraq isn't saying how many of its troops have been lost although U.S. military officials put that number in the thousands.

There also aren't any reliable numbers on how many Iraqi civilians have been killed or wounded. CENTCOM says it has 7,300 Iraqi prisoners.

Still to come tonight -- is Syria the next target?

The guys at "CROSSFIRE" are set to debate that. Good evening, Bob.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Thanks, Paula. The Bush administration says Syria is up to no good. Is Syria the next U.S. target?

JAMES CARVILLE, "CROSSFIRE" CO-HOST: Where does it end after Syria? Do we attack Iran? Lybia? How about France? That's ahead on "CROSSFIRE" when LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES continues after this break.

(COMMECIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back. The coalition campaign may have shocked and awed more than Iraq. "USA Today" reports North Korea and Iran seem to be softening their stands. The Bush administration warns that Syria must also fall into line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: We believe in light of this new environment, they should review their actions and their behavior. Not only with respect to who gets haven in Syria and weapons of mass destruction, but especially the support of terrorist activity. And so we have a new situation in the region. And we hope that all the nations in the region will now review their past practices and behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: The administration telling Syria, which is on the list of states that sponsors terrorism, not to harbor former Iraqi leaders. U.S. officials saying they also believe there are chemical weapons in Syria.

Let's talk about that now with Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico and former ambassador to the United Nations. Governor Richardson joins us live from Santa Fe. Good to see you again, governor. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about the increased U.S. pressure on Syria. What do you think it will yield?

RICHARDSON: Well, it sounds like what the administration is doing is, I think, after a successful campaign in Iraq, using that leverage to send messages. And I think these messages right now, because of the overwhelming force of our military, has a lot of strength.

Now it sounds to me like the message we're sending to Syria is, you're going get some economic sanctions because you're harboring terrorists, because you're training terrorists, because you may have shipped some equipment to Iraq, unless you take certain steps immediately. I don't think that Syria is going to be a target of a military action, at least I hope not, because that would be very disruptive I believe to the Middle East peace process, even though Syria has not been terribly helpful. But this is a time when I think the U.S. has great opportunities to make major diplomatic advances, do the right thing, put pressure on countries because of the overwhelming success of the military effort.

ZAHN: So what is it you think the U.S. should do if Syria doesn't cooperate?

RICHARDSON: What I think the U.S. should do, Paula, is economic sanctions. Finding ways to maybe freeze Syria's assets in the United States, find ways to send them an economic trade message of limiting some of their goods into the United States. I don't think a military initiative makes any sense. But I think, at the same time, give them a chance to respond.

A strong Syria committed to the Middle East peace process can really help. And I think the administration is playing it right to send those signals right now. Because if we are going to launch a Middle East peace effort with the Palestinians, with Israel, you want Syria at least, while not helping you, at least out of the way and not hurting you. So I think it is a delicate balance, but I think sending those signals now makes a lot of sense to get Syria to either react positively or, when we do some Middle East peace process action, to just basically get out of the way and for once try to be helpful.

ZAHN: One last quick question on Syria before we move on. You heard the responses coming from Syria today. They maintain they don't have weapons of mass destruction. They also say they're not harboring any Iraqi leadership members. Do you believe that?

RICHARDSON: Well, no. I think that they're being a bit disingenuous. I think it is clear that intelligence reports -- that I don't see anymore, but I think are out there -- is that they have harbored some Iraqis, that they did send those night goggles to Iraq, that they were messing around with Iraq. And so, therefore, they should get a signal of some kind.

Do they get a military reprisal? No. I don't think that makes sense.

I think we send these signals verbally, as Secretary of State Powell and the president are doing. I think if it looks like we're ganging up on everybody now that we flexed our muscles that also would have a counter effect in an Arab world that we need some real rebuilding. We need to build up our relationships there. And a good way to do it is to use that force to send a message that we're going to try to resolve some of the disputes diplomatically, that we're engage engaged in the Middle East peace process. Maybe consider opening a dialogue with Iran.

I don't think that's out of the question. I think we should seriously consider that; bring some kind of stability to the region.

ZAHN: When you start talking about starting a dialogue with Iran, it seems that the Iranians are certainly floating a trial balloon right now.

RICHARDSON: Well I think we should take advantage of it. I think this is a real opportunity for the United States with North Korea, with Iran, basically through diplomacy, finding ways that we bring the International Atomic Energy Agency, that we multilaterally look at ways that they can curb their weapons of mass destruction, and find a way to start talking to them and lower the level of tension that exists in the world.

And I think we have an opportunity with these successful military efforts in Iraq that allow us this flexibility right now. I think we have a chance to be real peacemakers, and I think it is very important that we not be perceived now that we've won that we're flexing our muscles and being a bully. I think that we have achieved a good balance with this message to Syria.

ZAHN: Governor Bill Richardson, always appreciate your insight. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

ZAHN: It is much better than getting up at 4:30 in the morning to join us. Isn't it?

RICHARDSON: This is a better hour. Thank you.

ZAHN: It certainly is. Thank you.

Still to come tonight, a personal battle for one Iraqi girl tonight, staying alive after being burned on day two of the war. Her story as our coverage of the war in Iraq continues. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: Welcome back to CNN's continuing coverage of the war in Iraq. I'm Robert Novak.

The Bush administration is stepping up its rhetoric against Syria, saying that Syria may now possess chemical weapons, and that may be hardening Iraqi leaders. Should Syria be the next U.S. target? That's tonight's CROSSFIRE debate. Joining us, Joe Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Nile Gardiner of The Heritage Foundation -- James Carville.

CARVILLE: Nile, as I understand it, one of the rationales behind the Iraq war is we'd show people what power really meant and people would come around. Let's assume that Syria comes around and gets real smart and says, guess what, we're going to hold elections, free elections in Syria in three months. Would that be a good idea or a bad idea for the U.S.?

NILE GARDINER, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I think it would be a good idea for the U.S. I don't quite see that happening. I think the Iraq war sent a very stern warning message across the bows of all the rogue states in -- across the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARVILLE: They said, look, wait, we got the message. We're going to have elections. Who is going to win the election?

GARDINER: I just kind of see that happening right now, actually. But I -- again, it wouldn't be a bad thing for Syria and for the rest of the Middle East.

NOVAK: Mr. Cirincione, let's say the United States says that they have taken -- the Syrians have taken in some of these bad guys from the deck of cards. If that is the case, and they are sheltering them, that's cause for war, isn't it?

JOE CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE PEACE ENDOWMENT: Well, this is the tough situation for this administration. I think they're trying to rattle the Syrian cage a little bit. The White House isn't serious about doing military action against Syria. But some in the administration are.

NOVAK: It is a smart policy then, isn't it?

CIRINCIONE: Well, it is not bad right now, actually. It is not bad. The problem is they haven't really synched this with their allies. So suddenly you have Great Britain and the other allies going around, saying no, no, no, no, we're not serious about invading Syria. So the administration looks a little discombobulated.

NOVAK: If the United States went to war against Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction there, and somebody put them on a truck and took them over to their friends in Syria, that is a serious problem, isn't it?

CIRINCIONE: That would be a serious problem. But there is no serious evidence that this has happened. Remember, the president was talking about hundreds of tons of chemical weapons, hundreds of tons of biological weapons. Any convoy large enough to carry hundreds of tons would have been picked up by U.S. intelligence and stopped at the border.

CARVILLE: But the British, and particularly Prime Minister Blair, said on the floor parliament today that there are no plans. To reiterate, there are no plans to invade Syria. Is this a serious thing, or this is just some people in the administration kind of popping off here?

GARDINER: Well, I think it's an extremely serious issue here. And the Bush administration of course is sending a polite warning to the regime in Damascus that it better behave itself. The Iraq war I think sets a pulse for precedent for the future.

However, I do believe the British government will work together with the Bush administration to try to go the extra mile diplomatically to bring about the peace for disarmament of Syria. So war is a very last resort.

CARVILLE: So you think Syria has a common border with Israel and they're just going to peacefully disarm? Or (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? So you think the Syrians are just going to go stack (ph) their arms up and say, well, that's it, we're out of here?

GARDINER: The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) likely to disarm if there is the threat of the use of force out there.

NOVAK: Mr. Cirincione, you want to say something, I can tell.

CIRINCIONE: Well, yes. This is very serious for some people in this administration. My friends tell me that Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of policy in the Defense Department, has written a white paper on Syria, making the case against Syria.

NOVAK: Have you ever seen that? I've seen (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about it. Have you ever read the paper?

CIRINCIONE: This current white paper? I haven't seen it yet, but I'm trying to get it. I'll tell you, if you get it, you let me know and I'll do the same for you.

NOVAK: Well I won't let you know, but you let me know if you get it.

CIRINCIONE: Back in '96, he wrote a memo with Richard Perle...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Now just what I want to say right now, a lost people who didn't want to go to war against Iraq said, boy, it is a wonderful thing that we got rid of this tyrant, this terrible Saddam Hussein. Are you saying that a regime change in Syria wouldn't be a good thing?

CIRINCIONE: Everybody has got to be for a regime change in Syria and for many of the other repressive governments in that area. The problem is, how do you do it? Is military force the answer, or is containment, pressure and diplomatic influence?

NOVAK: OK. We've got to take a break. When we come back, what about North Korea? Isn't it a bigger threat than Syria?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Welcome back. Is Syria the next U.S. target? What about after that? Should it be Iran and China and France?

Our guests now are Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation and Joe Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International peace. I'm sorry, Joe, if I mispronounced your name. But we'll go on from there.

NOVAK: Mr. Cirincione...

CIRINCIONE: Call me Joe.

NOVAK: No, I like to say it. It rolls off my tongue. The North Korean government has just said that after beating its breasts for weeks, saying we will only have bilateral negotiations with the U.S., they're saying, hey -- and this is an exact quote -- "We will not necessarily stick to any particular dialogue format."

Didn't President Bush get the attention of Pyongyang by this military operation in Iraq and change the hard line, broke the hard line of the North Koreans?

CIRINCIONE: Yes, he did. This is actually a major victory for the United States and for anyone concerned about weapons of mass destruction.

The question is, how does the does the administration follow up on it? Now, basically, the North Koreans have agreed to the shape of the negotiating table that the U.S. wanted. The U.S. now is under pressure to actually go to the negotiating table and start making a deal.

NOVAK: Now the critics of the administration all say that North Korea's a bigger problem because they have nuclear weapons. They don't have any nuclear weapons, do they?

CIRINCIONE: No, they don't. There is no definitive proof that they have it. The most we can say is that they have enough material probably for one to two nuclear devices. And we know if we allow them to continue with their program they will become the world's first plutonium supermarket. We can't let that happen.

CARVILLE: Why is Syria a bigger threat than Iran?

GARDINER: Well, I think the Syrians are offering safe refuge to some leading figures in Saddam's administration. And that is why we are looking closely at Syria at the moment. Also, of course, Syria is developing some very dangerous chemical and biological weapons, which pose a tremendous long-term threat. So I think Syria poses an immediate threat.

CARVILLE: But Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Some people say they're pretty serious.

GARDINER: Yes.

CARVILLE: Some people are actually saying those firecrackers are kind of dangerous to play with.

GARDINER: Oh, absolutely. And I think that we need to send a message both to Damascus and to Tehran that they are playing some very dangerous games here.

CARVILLE: But what is more dangerous, the chemical weapons in Syria or the developing nuclear weapons in Iran?

GARDINER: Well I think both are extremely dangerous, but we need to take one issue at a time here.

NOVAK: Go ahead.

CIRINCIONE: Well the problem here for the United States is one of balance. And it can't really afford to look again that is it is tilting against an Arab nation, that it is making an excuse to pick on an Arab nation.

Those chemical weapons are dangerous, but there is no law against Syria having them. And meanwhile, its neighbors have them. Israel has them, Egypt has them. If you are going to go after chemical weapons, if you're going to go after weapons of mass destruction, you have to have a uniform policy for the entire region.

NOVAK: You said something that is really a pretty good idea to change the regime in Syria. And I gather you think it is -- in the long run, it's going to be in the best interest of Iraq to have a change in regime there.

CIRINCIONE: Absolutely.

NOVAK: I'm sure you say that. But I think the worst regime in the world right now is in Zimbabwe. I think Mugabe is a thief. He is a liar. It's a terrible country; he's ruined that country.

If we're in the regime change business, why don't we do what -- what do you think about going to Zimbabwe, of getting rid of Mugabe?

CIRINCIONE: Well obviously you're pointing out an hypocrisy in U.S. foreign policy.

NOVAK: No. I'm making a constructive suggestion.

CIRINCIONE: Well, in the last three years, over a million people have been killed in civil wars in the Congo region of Africa, but we don't seem to be intervening there. This is the problem when you try to base your interventionist policy on the idea that you're spreading democracy, that you're coming to liberate people. It starts to ring hollow to many people in the global community.

NOVAK: Do you have a response? GARDINER: Yes. I think, actually, the Bush administration is focusing on Zimbabwe at the moment. They're aware of the fact that Mugabe is brutally starving millions of people to death.

NOVAK: It's terrible.

GARDINER: Unless there is intervention by the United States and Great Britain, we will allow millions of people to die. And we simply cannot allow that.

NOVAK: You think there's a good chance of that? That's one intervention I would be a thousand percent for.

GARDINER: Yes, I think that there is quite possibly the opportunity to intervene there. I think that Washington and London are looking very carefully at this.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Go ahead.

CIRINCIONE: I can't believe it is going to be more than rhetoric. I wish you were right, but I can't believe we're going to send U.S. forces into Zimbabwe.

CARVILLE: Saudi Arabia, we know that they fund terrorism. Should we maybe get a little regime change there?

GARDINER: Well, I don't think the Saudi state is sponsoring terrorism here. There perhaps might be a few individuals Saudi Arabia is sponsoring...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: OK. Mr. Gardiner, we're out of time. That will have to be the last word. Thank you very much. Mr. Cirincione, thank you.

And now to Wolf Blitzer in Qatar.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Bob.

As the war in Iraq continues, we'll focus on the personal struggle of one young girl. One girl's struggle to stay alive, as medical care in Iraq is in short supply. That story right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: By some estimates, thousands of Iraqi civilians have been wounded in the war. Long after it is all over, the battle will go on for those who suffered severe injuries. ITV's Tim Rogers has one girl's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIM ROGERS, ITV NEWS (voice-over): When we first saw Hanan (ph), she was sitting on the pavement at an American checkpoint. Her mother and father had brought her here, because in this chaotic city they thought this would be their best chance of finding help.

Hanan (ph) is 17, and she's been in this condition since the second day of the war. Her bandages haven't been changed for days. She suffered extensive burns, and according to an Iraqi doctor, who happened to be here too, the one specialist burn unit in Baghdad has been looted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone run away from the hospital. There are no officials there. There is a hospital, but no workers there.

ROGERS: The Marines said they would do what they could.

(on camera): Where will you take her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. We're thinking of taking her out of here and then we'll give her all the treatment that we can.

ROGERS (voice-over): But while they're acting in a spirit of compassion, they simply did not have the medical skills Hanan (ph) needs to ease her obvious distress. For Hanan's (ph) family, it is a desperate situation.

NOYAR AHMED, FATHER: In the hospital, no doctor, no assistants, no medicine, no anything.

ROGERS (on camera): So you came here?

AHMED: Yes. I come here. The first aid maybe help me, any people help me.

ROGERS (voice-over): Half an hour later, after receiving that first aid, the Marines decided to take Hanan (ph) to a hospital. But with no suitable transport to take her there, they asked us if we could drive her there instead. Suffering from such severe burns, the journey for Hanan (ph) must have been excruciating. But throughout it all, she impressed us with her courage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very happy.

ROGERS: The Marines told us to take her to one of the few hospitals still making any attempt to carry on. It is called Medical City, the best Iraq had to offer. But this is now a desolate place where there is hope, but little comfort.

Taking her inside, the doctors knew there was little they could do. Their initial examination confirmed the earlier doctors thoughts that Hanan (ph) needs specialist care which they simply can't provide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need cleaning, antiseptic. We need antibiotics, we need (UNINTELLIGIBLE) treatment. All of these we need. And we need stability.

ROGERS: For all the patients here, there is little anyone can do except watch and hope. (on camera): The doctors here say they will do what they can, but facilities are very limited and they're running out of supplies. Help for her and Iraq can't come too soon. Tim Rogers, ITV News, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Right now you're looking at some pictures of some very happy people. Seven former American POWs. The video was taken yesterday aboard a military plane out of Iraq bound for Kuwait. And the Pentagon released it today.

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



in Iraq; U.S. Puts Syria on Notice>


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