CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
War in Iraq -- Day 27
Aired April 14, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Paula Zahn in New York. Over the next half hour we will go over the timeline of events that got us to this point, including the latest on those former POW'S. I'm joined now by my colleague Wolf Blitzer, from Doha, Qatar. Good evening, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Paula. Thanks very much. Also this hour, and now that the war is dying down, what lies ahead? There's still plenty of unknowns including of course, the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein. Plus, the White House has had plenty to say in recent days about Syria. Should Damascus have learned the lessons of Baghdad? But we begin right now with the day's events at the 2:00 a.m. Eastern hour.
U.S. Marines swept into the town of Tikrit. Saddam Hussein's hometown from three directions. They moved in after heavy overnight air attacks. The Marines surprisingly faced very little resistance. But there was still some fighting, and Matthew Fisher of the "National Post of Canada," was there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW FISHER, NATIONAL POST OF CANADA: There are sporadic instances where there's serious fighting, but generally no, they've been surprised, it's quite low level. Maybe a lot of the fighters have given up or disappeared. They don't know, but there was a gunfight a couple of minutes ago, but it was of short duration. Fairly intense, fairly nearby and as I say, they seem very optimistic that it's going well so far. There was more fighting yesterday than today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Friendly fire is now suspected in the loss of a Navy pilot and his F-18 Hornet (UNINTELLIGIBLE) earlier this month. That's the word from the military. It came during the 4:00 a.m. Eastern hour. The fighter went down over Iraq April 2, killing Lieutenant Nathan D. White (ph). A U.S. military official says indications are a Patriot missile shot down the plane accidentally. If so, it would be the second friendly fire downing of a coalition plane in the war in Iraq. A Patriot missile destroyed a British Tornado jet by mistake on March 23, killing two -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks, Wolf. A couple of hours later at 6:00 a.m. Eastern, a demonstration against the overall lack of law and order in Baghdad. Dozens of people gathered outside the Palestine Hotel to protest against the looting that has swept the city and other parts of the country. This as unarmed Iraqi police prepare to go back on the beat and patrol the city with U.S. Marines. Christiane Amanpour has more.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the policemen and the officers who are supposed to be restoring order. It was for a morning, almost as chaotic inside the police academy as on the streets. Saluting him last week, stomping on him today. It seemed the police were trying to purge themselves of Saddam Hussein's brutality that they had helped and perhaps were forced to enforce. Staff Sergeant Jeremy Stafford and the Marines, who had come to gather first police patrol out on the beat, were overwhelmed.
STAFF SERGEANT JEREMY STAFFORD: So I figured I'd let them have at it. The only other way I could have stopped it, was to start using force, and it wasn't, I'm not going to start using force on these people. I think they've had enough of that.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, just last week, they had discarded their uniforms for fear of being shot by Americans entering Baghdad. Now, a few put them on again. All rush to sign up for their old jobs. And feelings that had been bottled up for years, poured forth.
"The regime used to have a sword at our necks, says Sergeant Fisel Mosan (ph)." If we didn't cooperate, we were fired or sent to prison on trumped up charges.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have refused to work with Saddam.
AMANPOUR: Hamid Mustafah (ph) was head of the traffic police back in 1983.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now I want to come back and work, and to save my people.
AMANPOUR: But not everyone here is reporting for duty, nor do they trust those who are. Hussein Jaralah (ph) has come looking for the security forces, who imprisoned and tortured him back in 1999.
"I was hung by my arms from the ceiling," he said. "Electrocuted and beaten with sticks." He came with a list of names. He didn't find them, but one army officer offered a mea culpa.
"Regrettably as the army, we were a tool of repression of the Iraqi people," says Lieutenant Colonel Adan Rasheed (ph). "When we joined up, we thought we'd secure our future and our children's future, but it didn't turn out like that. God willing, we'll make up for the past and correct our relationship with our people."
And just to make sure they are recruiting good cops, Marines have called for only a couple of hundred to come today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, somehow the word got out, there was a breech in the security some place. The word got out, so we had a couple thousand of them show up versus a couple of hundred.
AMANPOUR (on camera): But that's good, you want lots of people, don't you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we do. Unfortunately, you know, these things have to be done in baby steps.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): A baby step like this. One Iraqi police car with a two vehicle armed Marine escort. Desperate city residents immediately clamored for a stop to the looting.
Meantime, back at the academy, an exhausted officer tells everyone to go home and report back Thursday morning. Restoring order to the city will have to wait a while longer.
ZAHN: Meanwhile, all Iraqi oil fields are now under coalition control. That news comes from CENTCOM in the 7:00 hour. U.S. forces are protecting Iraq's Northern Oil Company in Kirkuk. The company is responsible for one-third of Iraq's oil production. But company officials tell CNN, that looters have made it impossible to produce oil for export. And CENTCOM says it will take time to get the oil flowing again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, CENTCOM: We think it's -- it's weeks before we're back to getting into business of running oil. The potential of the oil fields and oil structure in Iraq is much greater than the reality of how it's been operating for decades. And we think that that can be restored over time. But it will take time to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In the 7:00 a.m. hour, a story of rescued POWs, but this time involving Kuwaitis. Abu Dhabi Television is reporting that 18 Kuwaiti prisoners of war have been found alive in Baghdad. They apparently had been held prisoner since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The U.S. Central Command says it cannot confirm the report from Abu Dhabi Television.
Meanwhile in the 10:00 a.m. hour, the White House turns up the pressure on Syria. The Secretary of State Colin Powell says sanctions are indeed a possibility if the Iraqi neighbor defies the aims of the U.S.-led coalition. In recent days several high-ranking Bush administration officials, not to mention President Bush himself, have accused Syria of harboring senior Iraqi officials, developing chemical weapons programs, and supporting terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: 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)
BLITZER: We'll examine the situation involving Syria a bit more closely this hour; it's part of our special look at the road ahead in Iraq and beyond.
In the 11:00 a.m. hour, a word of encouragement from President Bush to U.S. troops. This taped message was beamed around the world to U.S. bases. In it, the president thanked servicemen and women for what he called, their professionalism and patriotism during this war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow citizens, when freedom needs defending America turns to our military. I want to thank those who wear our uniform. Thank you for your sacrifice. Over the last few weeks, the world has witnessed what you already know; that our armed forces act with great skill and great courage, and great humanity. Images of the Iraqi people welcoming our troops in cities across that country are a testament to the character of our men and women in uniform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: After the break, our timeline picks up at the noon hour. Did coalition forces find chemical and biological labs? Plus, is the fighting over? Patty.
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, the Pentagon believes that it is likely that its fought some of the last major battles. I'll have more when we come back.
ZAHN: Picking up our timeline in the noon hour, U.S. troops find what may be the long sought after smoking gun. Possible chemical and biological labs buried just outside Karbala. CNN's Ryan Chilcote has more.
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The 101st Airborne Division has been inspecting several sites where they believe 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.
GENERAL BENJAMIN FREAKLY: 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-used chemical labs, biological and chemical; about 1,000 pounds of documentation were found in that. And they were close to a artillery ammunition plant, so this is consistent with the Iraqi denial, Iraqi former 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. It's 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 and 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 they 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 the 101st Airborne in southern Baghdad.
BLITZER: Let's get some perspective now on what this may all mean. The hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Joining us now from our Washington bureau is David Franz. He's served for more than 20 years in the U.S. Army's Medical Research and Material Command. He's also currently the vice president of the Chemical and Biological Defense Division of the Southern Research Institute. Mr. Franz, thanks very much for joining us. What do you make of this discovery of these 11 supposed mobile labs that could be used to manufacture either chemical or biological weapons?
COLONEL DAVID FRANZ, (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well Wolf, it's certainly a tantalizing bit of information. I'm waiting for more. The fact that they're buried certainly suggests that it might not, they might not be just the food processing or food testing labs that the Iraqis have talked about. I would love to look through the documentation that has been found inside as well as the equipment, to see what it's potential use might be.
BLITZER: And just to give our viewers a perspective. These sort of mobile labs, they could be put on flatbed trucks if you will; they could be moved around. This is what the Bush administration had been warning that the Iraqis had long before the war in Iraq. So it could potentially be the smoking gun. Then again, it might not be. Would there be residue, would there be telltale signs of biological or chemical agents inside those labs, if in fact they were used for that purpose?
FRANZ: Yes. If they were used for that purpose, it's likely that we might be able to find residue, of either the chemicals or the DNA from the biological agents. We certainly did that at Al-Hawkim (ph), and at Al-Mutana (ph) during the early '90s. However, I think even if they are brand new and unused, there will still be some very important information that might be gleaned from them.
BLITZER: Are you surprised that now, it's almost a month that this war has been going on; more than 100,000 troops, probably 150,000 if you add the British, are deeply into Iraq right now, and they still have not found that so-called smoking gun?
FRANZ: I'm not surprised, Wolf. I certainly expected for us to find, and still do expect us to find chemical agents and possibly chemical production facilities. But I won't be shocked if we don't find biological facilities. These are very dual-use from the standpoint of the facility itself and the equipment and the people involved, and remember now we're more concerned, at least I'm more concerned now about biological weapons being used as tools of terrorists. And so the footprint could be much smaller than the footprint we were looking for at Al-Hawkim (ph) and Al-Manahl (ph) and places like that in the early '90s. The laboratory we might be looking for could be the size of your kitchen, and the weapons system could be smaller than a toaster; in the case of biology. In the chemical area, one would expect them to be much larger, both the laboratories and the weapons themselves however.
BLITZER: I can assure you, Mr. Franz, the hunt is still continuing. In fact some U.S. military officers here in Doha, the temporary headquarters of the Central Command say it's only just beginning now that the major military phase of the war is over. David Franz joining us from Washington.
FRANZ: Thank you. Wolf.
BLITZER: Paula, back to you.
ZAHN: Thanks, Wolf. At 2:00 p.m., U.S. military officials say the war's major combat operations appear to be over; that's when the Pentagon held it's daily news conference. CNN's Patty Davis reports.
DAVIS (voice-over): Cobra helicopters swooped above as U.S. Marines moved into Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad. They had expected Iraqi fighters to mount a last stand here, but instead encountered only a few sharp firefights, and little problems securing the presidential palace.
BROOKS: There was less resistance than we anticipated. We certainly knew that there was an area that was very important to the regime leadership.
DAVIS: With Saddam Hussein's regime dismantled, U.S. troops worked with Iraqi police to restore order in Baghdad and other cities. But the Pentagon isn't declaring victory yet.
GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, CENTCOM: I would anticipate that the major combat engagements are over, because the major Iraqi units on the ground cease to show coherence.
DAVIS: The air campaign is now phasing out. Some F-117's, and B-2 stealth bombers have been sent home. Air missions have dropped to 700 to 800 per day, less than half their highest level. The Pentagon said two aircraft carrier battle groups, the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Constellation, will leave the Persian Gulf within days. So far there' s no plan to pull ground troops, who continue to face danger from snipers, renegade remnants of the Republican Guard, and suicide bombers. With combat winding down, the hunt for weapons of mass destruction is ratcheting up. So far though, on confirmed finds.
MCCHRYSTAL: We don't have positive or negative either way. We have gone to some of the major sites as I said, and in fact shipped samples back to the United States for detailed analysis.
DAVIS: The hunt for Saddam Hussein of course, remains a top priority as well as other Iraqi officials. Also a top priority, finding the four Americans still unaccounted for -- Paula.
ZAHN: And Patty, what else did we learn today, about the status of any Iraqi forces that are fighting in any way whether it's formal or just dispersed throughout the country?
DAVIS: Well, we know for a, what the military says in terms of the Iraqi forces. Some have just melted back into Iraqi society. The Pentagon says it's not so much worried about the Republican Guard, those members that may have melted back in. What it is worried about is these Saddam Fedayeen, these loyalists to Saddam Hussein. They however say that they do not have an assessment now that there is a looming threat involving those troops. So they're keeping a cautious eye out -- Paula.
ZAHN: Patty Davis, reporting from the Pentagon tonight. Thanks so much. Talk about cause for celebration. America's POWs are free and the people who love them, can't wait to get them back home.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Candiotti, reporting to you live in Lithia Springs, Georgia where a POW family gets an exclusive first look at a brand new defense department tape of their rescued son. That live report when the timeline continues.
ZAHN: And welcome back. We have two reports on the POW'S and their families, and those dramatic new pictures released by the Department of Defense. One report from Susan Candiotti in Georgia, the other from Ed Lavandera in Ft. Bliss in Texas. Let's start with Susan tonight. In Ronald Young's hometown of Lithia Springs, Georgia. Good evening, Susan.
CANDIOTTI: Good evening, Paula. One day after the family of helicopter pilot, Ronald Young spoke with their son over the telephone from Kuwait, the family is now learning harrowing new details about his capture, including word that their son was kicked and beaten after his capture. But he's said to be in good spirits now, and tonight CNN was able to give this family its first look at a brand new Defense Department tape taken of their son after his rescue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just looks like he just woke up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He does, doesn't he? He does look thin, doesn't he? Look at him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He does.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just like man, we thought we'd never see this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What rank are you?
RONALD YOUNG, RESCUED POW: I'm a warrant officer. I'm a pilot. I got shot down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There we hear it, got shot down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you flying, a Cobra?
YOUNG: Apache Longbow.
YOUNG: Ended up in a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fight. Just thought it was straight out of the sky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's some kind of a fight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. A bad ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bad something.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's got to give you a little bit of, you've got to be a little scared to get back in there, in another Bow.
YOUNG: No, I don't think so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make him stronger. I can see him just wanting to go right back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you Marines. I love you Marines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Devil Dog.
RONALD YOUNG SR., FATHER OF EX-POW: A friend of mine is a colonel in the reserves, and he said that the Marines were just attached (ph), they were going to go right on by that place, he said. So they would've, if they'd have gone by, he said they might have rotted out there. And he said that, he said that they're really lucky. He said I wonder what prompted that guy to come out; he said you ever heard of a guardian angel? That guys said, well, I don't know, but I tell you it had to be something.
CANDIOTTI: Whatever led to the rescue, the Youngs are looking forward to seeing their son in person, and they hope to learn more details about exactly when they will, when that will happen when they meet with Army officials tomorrow -- Paula.
ZAHN: Have they been given any idea, whether it might be in time for the holidays?
CANDIOTTI: Oh, they hope that it will happen before the week is up, and that that reunion they hope, will take place in Washington.
ZAHN: Susan Candiotti, thanks so much. Now back to Ed, who joins us from Ft. Bliss, Texas with more good news from there. Good morning, Ed; or good evening. Excuse me, I've been sitting here a long time today. The morning's kind of blend in to the evenings.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I feel you pain, Paula. Don't worry about that. Shoshana Johnson's family; I had a chance to speak with her sister, obviously very excited. I spoke with her sister last night, described briefly the phone conversation that they had with Shoshana. It actually took about seven hours for Shoshana to be able to be able to call home after the family had gotten official word yesterday that she had been rescued. And when Shoshana finally got through to her family, she asked them what took so long to answer. The flood, the lines there at the house had been flooded with calls from well-wishers, family and friends, and of course news reporters trying to get the latest information as to what her situation was.
Nicky Johnson also told me that Shoshana Johnson had told her that she had done everything properly that night. In the early morning hours of March 23, when that ambush happened in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, that she got down and tried to crawl out of the situation, but it still didn't keep her from being wounded. She got, she was shot twice in, shot once in each leg. So she is nursing those wounds. Her father told me that the video that they saw of her walking off the planes there in Kuwait, that she seemed to be walking with pain. His father told me that's something he could tell; he could see the pain in her eyes.
But you know, this family's also dealing with something very different here. The 507th Maintenance Company had 15 soldiers involved in this ambush. Nine of those soldiers were killed. So as the Johnson family and the other members of this POW community deal with the happiness of all that, they also understand that nine of their fellow comrades didn't get to come home alive, and so there's a lot of emotion for the families of the POW'S and how they handle this situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NICKY JOHNSON, SISTER OF FORMER POW: It's kind of hard. Yes, you're just sitting here happy and you want to plan a party, you know, and then these people are you know, planning a funeral. You know, you just go on. I mean you just, you're sad here and you're happy here, you just go on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: And today was the memorial mass and burial for the youngest member of the 507th Maintenance Company who passed away. It was for Private Ruben Estrella. Hundreds of people showed up for this memorial service today.
The burial was here at the, in the Ft. Bliss area. And Paula as I was driving here to the base this afternoon, we drove, we saw the procession go by and it was absolutely a massive funeral procession that led all the family and friends of Ruben Estrella to the grave site this morning. So as you have here one family that is extremely happy about what has happened, also great sadness for the loss of a very young man who had dreams and hopes that when he returned from this war that he would be marrying his girlfriend -- Paula.
ZAHN: Definitely a sea of contrast. Ed Lavandera, thanks so much. Back to Wolf now.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula. A combat casualty from the war in Iraq was buried earlier today at Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington. Lieutenant Frederick Pokorney, Jr. was one of seven Marines killed in an ambush near Nasiriyah three weeks ago. Pokorney was a key member of the 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Pokorney is the first Marine from the Iraq war to be buried at Arlington.
We wrap up today's timeline, as we do every day, with a look at the numbers, the very sad numbers, how many people have been killed and injured in this war. The Pentagon now says that 118 forces have been died, with 496 wounded and four missing. The British Ministry of Defense says 31 of its forces have been killed. The U.S. military reports thousands of Iraqi military deaths and 7,300 POWs. Before the collapse of the Iraqi regime, Abu Dhabi TV quoted Iraqi official sources as saying 1,252 civilians had been killed. There are no reliable figures on civilians wounded -- Paula.
ZAHN: Wolf, thanks so much.
We're going to take a short break here. When we come back: the latest developments in the rest of the day's news from CNN Center; and the road ahead. The U.S. is telling Syria that it must clean up its act. Will a blunt warning turn into something more? Plus: Saddam's DNA, the U.S. says it has it, but how do we get it?
LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: Turning up the heat on Syria.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can assure you that there are conversations that are at the diplomatic level between the United States and Syria, as well as others and Syria. And we shall see what Syria decides to do. It's important for them to make the right decisions.
ANNOUNCER: Is Syria a hideout for Iraqis on the run and weapons of mass destruction? Is Damascus the next Baghdad?
The question that just won't go away: Where is Saddam Hussein? U.S. officials say they've got his DNA.
BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, CENTCOM DEP. DIR. OF OPERATIONS: We have the forensic ability to confirm any number of members of the family that are related by blood.
ANNOUNCER: Will they ever get the man?
Private pictures and personal letters paint a surprising portrait of Saddam Hussein's oldest son. What's inside the secret world of Uday Hussein? This half-hour, LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES: day 27, the road ahead.
ZAHN: And welcome back.
With combat in Iraq apparently winding down, the Bush administration is stepping up its warnings to Syria. Why is Syria suddenly in the spotlight?
Let's turn to senior political analyst Bill Schneider, who has been looking into that question. And he joins us now from Washington.
Good evening, Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Paula.
You know, President Bush seems to be serious about his intention to reshape the whole Middle East. Now Syria's in the hot seat.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Syria and Iraq are neighbors and family. Syria is governed by the Baath Party, the same party that produced Saddam Hussein.
FLEISCHER: Gone is the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Next, hopefully, is a reexamination by Syria and perhaps others about how they conduct their affairs.
SCHNEIDER: Iraq's Baath Party and Syria's Baath Party started to go their separate ways in the 1960s. When Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, Syria sided with Iran. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Syria joined the multinational coalition that drove Iraq out of Kuwait.
It's only in the last six years that relations began to improve, especially after Syria's longtime leader Hafez Al-Assad died in 2000 and his son Bashar took over. The U.S. charges that military equipment has been shipped into Iraq through Syria, something the U.S. sees as a direct threat.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We consider such trafficking as hostile acts and will hold the Syrian government accountable for such shipments.
SCHNEIDER: And that's not all.
RUMSFELD: We have seen the chemical weapons test in Syria over the past 12, 15 months.
SCHNEIDER: And that's not all.
FLEISCHER: They are a state that sponsors terrorism.
SCHNEIDER: And worst of all, the administration says Syria is harboring Iraqi fugitives.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Syrian government needs to cooperate with the United States and our coalition partners and not harbor any Baathists.
SCHNEIDER: Syria has cooperated with the United States. After September 11, Syria gave the U.S. crucial information leading to the capture of suspected Islamic terrorists. But Syria believes it could be the next target.
When President Bush says victory in Iraq will bring democracy to the region and end support for terrorism, Syrians say: Uh-oh, he's talking about us.
SCHNEIDER: Syria sees Israel behind the U.S. threats, because Syria supports Palestinian radicals. To the United States, terrorists are terrorists. And their sponsors stand warned.
ZAHN: So I think the question, Bill, on a lot of folks' mind tonight is why the U.S. is threatening Syria first and not Iran.
SCHNEIDER: Well, that's interesting, because Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction. In fact, it's very close to having a nuclear capability. And Iran supports terrorists. It directly supports the Hezbollah, which is a terrorist organization that threatens Israel.
So why not Iran? Well, the U.S argues that Syria has directly aided Iraq; it has sent military supplies; it has allowed fighters to go through Syria to Iraq for martyrdom. And, of course, the U.S. charges it harbors Iraqi fugitives. Iran has not entered the war and has not supported Iraq, that we know of. But there may be a bigger reason and it's a simple reason. Iran has a lot bigger army than Syria and it has many more advanced weapons. So it would be a lot bigger job to take on Iran.
ZAHN: Bill Schneider, thanks so much.
On to our next guest. Some analysts say Syria is a natural candidate to replace Iraq in the axis of evil. So can you really equate Syria with Iraq?
I'm joined by Jim Walsh, a research fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He joins us from Atlanta.
Good to have you with us, sir. Thanks so much for joining us.
JIM WALSH, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Good to be with you, Paula.
ZAHN: Jim, I wanted to start off with something that the Associated Press is reporting tonight. They are saying that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is reportedly expressing some concern that some of the rhetoric coming from the administration might destabilize the Middle East. Do you share that view?
WALSH: Well, I must say that some of the talk that we've heard is surprising. We went through a process, as we focused on Iraq, where we had a congressional resolution. We went to the U.N. We had U.N. resolutions. Saddam was not in compliance with these U.N. resolutions.
And then after this process, we launched military action against Iraq. But now we're talking about -- not officially, anyway, but, unofficially, we're talking about severe actions against Syria and we've gone through none of this process. And it's all happening in a matter of days. So I'm sure the Syrians are quite worried. That was evident from the Sunday talk shows. They're rather concerned.
So I can understand why Kofi Annan says this. But I do think it's unlikely that the U.S. would launch military action against Syria.
ZAHN: Why don't we review very quickly some of the charges the United States is making against Syria, for starters, allowing fighters to cross into Iraq, continuing chemical and biological weapons program, providing safe haven to senior Iraqi officials, war criminals and scientists.
Let's start off with that last point, because a spokesperson to the Syrian Foreign Ministry denied that today and said -- quote -- "There is no good relation at all between Damascus and Baghdad."
WALSH: Well, yes and no.
I think it's certainly plausible that some of those folks would leave and go to Syria. After all, it's not like they get on a plane and fly out of the country. The U.S. controls the airspace. They have to cross the border into another state. And Syria is a candidate. Traditionally, Syria, the Baathist Party in Syria and the Baathist Party in Iraq have not gotten along.
But as was indicated in Bill's report, in recent years, particularly after 2000, there were closer relations. There was an oil pipeline between Syria and Iraq that was opened up and greater illicit trade between the two countries. And, of course, I think we shouldn't forget that Syria voted against a second resolution or was opposing a second resolution, opposing intervention against Iraq. And I think the U.S. remembers that and isn't very happy about that either.
ZAHN: What about the second charge, that Syria has continued its weapons of mass destruction programs, a charge, by the way, that the Syrian ambassador to the U.N. denied earlier on CNN today?
WALSH: Well, I think this is one that most analysts -- people who follow weapons of mass destruction issues, like myself, there is a broad consensus that Syria does have chemical weapons, may have B.W., a biological weapons program, but certainly has chemical weapons.
After all, they are not a signatory to the -- or they haven't ratified or signed the Chemical Weapons Convention. They feel they need chemical weapons to balance against Israel's nuclear weapons. And they are not alone in that regard. Egypt, our friend Egypt, has chemical weapons. Our friend Pakistan likely has chemical weapons. Our friend Taiwan likely has chemical weapons. So there are a variety of countries that still hold on to their chemical weapons stockpiles. And Syria is one of them.
ZAHN: So one of the ideas Secretary of State Colin Powell floated today was the idea of economic sanctions. Would that stop the production of chemical weapons in Syria?
WALSH: I think that's unlikely.
It's more likely that the Syrian program is driven by national security concerns. As I say, that's their poor-man's deterrent to Israel's nuclear weapon. And it's unlikely that economic sanctions alone are going to lead them to give that up, in part because those sanctions, as we know from the history, are only effective if everyone does them. It's unlikely that everyone is going to get on board. And, moreover, they'll tend to hurt the poorer segments of society and not the elite.
So I think that's less likely to be important. But I do think that there's severe political and rhetorical pressure put on the Syrians right now. And, at the end of the day, I think they may have to cave. They're going to have to say, while they don't think the U.S. is going to attack them, can they afford to take that chance? Can they call the U.S.' bluff? The answer is probably not. So I think we will see some change in the Syrian position.
ZAHN: All right, got 10 seconds left. When you say you think the Syrians will ultimately cave, what would they give up? WALSH: Well, I think if there are Iraqis in Syria -- we don't know that to be the case -- there's no evidence. But if that's the case, we may see, in a day, a month, a year, somewhere down the road, that some of those folks may be returned.
ZAHN: Jim Walsh from J.F. Kennedy School of Government in Boston, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
WALSH: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Appreciate your perspective -- back to Wolf now.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula.
When LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES returns, we'll try to tackle this question: Is Saddam Hussein dead or alive, the ousted Iraqi leader? Is he also trying to slip across the border?
That and more when we come back.
BLITZER: The burning question for many people: Is Saddam Hussein alive or dead? What happened to the Iraqi leader?
There has been no live sighting of him since the war began now more than almost a month ago. If he's dead, it's likely that DNA will be needed to prove it.
I'm joined now by Dr. Victor Weedn. Dr. Weedn set up the DNA lab at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. That's likely to be a location, by the way, for any possible forensic work on Saddam's DNA.
Dr. Weedn, thanks so much for joining us.
When I spoke with General Franks yesterday, he did confirm for the first time they do have a sample of Saddam Hussein's DNA. How much of that DNA do they need to make a conclusive finding?
DR. VICTOR WEEDN, CARNEGIE MELLON: They need very little DNA, but they need the right reference source. And, of course, that's what's at issue here, that and the ability to recover fragments.
In the case of General Franks the other day, he indicated that there were forensic teams. That suggests to me that there were people who were in the quarters of Saddam Hussein looking for reference samples, such as hairs on pillows, toothbrushes in the bathrooms, or clothes in the closet, including socks and shoes. And those could be the sources of evidence that is needed.
We heard today from General Brooks some references to family members. And we know that, from the other day, that Chemical Ali is in the hands of the coalition forces -- the body of Chemical Ali. I understand that he was a paternal cousin. It's possible -- I don't know the pedigree -- but it's possible that he could be a source of Y chromosome DNA reference sample. We also know that Saddam's half- brother was in custody. And he may have provided some evidence. He would have the same mitochondrial DNA as Saddam Hussein has. It's, of course, possible that there are other family members that the military has access to.
BLITZER: If Saddam Hussein, though, were killed in one of those huge bombings, either the first night of the war or a couple of weeks later at that restaurant in the Mansour district, the upscale district of Baghdad -- four 2,000-pound bombs -- would there be enough of his DNA left to make that match, because a lot of people are wondering, if he is dead, might it never be resolved conclusively?
WEEDN: Well, of course, we don't really know.
But it's our experience with collapsed buildings, with other explosions, that we often find small fragments of the body still left behind. I suspect there are tissue fragments. Now, even if there are tissue fragments, they may be difficult to recover. The rubble would have to be removed. And then those tissue fragments would need to be recognized. And, of course, they would be covered with dust and they would look much like much of the rest of the debris.
It is possible, of course, that there is such an intense heat and explosion that there are no remains to be recovered. But I suspect there probably are. And if they are there, and if they are recovered, I think it's very likely that we're able to get DNA from those tissue fragments.
BLITZER: Dr. Weedn, thanks so much for your expertise. We appreciate it very much.
We have much more coverage coming up on our program. Coming up: the end of Saddam Hussein's regime and parallels to an earlier fallen leader, an incredible look at what was left behind in the palace of one of Saddam Hussein's sons -- details just ahead on the life of Uday Hussein.
ZAHN: The fall of Saddam Hussein makes the cover of "TIME" magazine this week. And inside, there is a report on ostentatious palace of his son Uday. Looters stripped the palace in a Baghdad suburb to its marble walls. But the few things left behind offer an image of a man with very expensive tastes and, it would seem, a bevy of girlfriends.
Now this insight from a man who says he was forced to undergo plastic surgery to become a double for Uday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LATIF YAHIYA, FORMER UDAY LOOK-ALIKE (through translator): I had two surgeries, one with the teeth and one with the chin. This is not my choice. In fact, I didn't wish to do it. I was forced to do it, because he would -- I was certain he would -- he said that he would rape my sisters in front of -- before my eyes. And he put me in a prison for seven days. It was very painful, in fact. It was my fate, anyway. But when he threatened to rape my sisters, I had to accept.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: And here to talk more about Uday Hussein and what was left inside his pleasure palace, "Times" national editor Rick Stengel.
Good to see you.
RICK STENGEL, "TIME": Hi, Paula.
ZAHN: Describe to us what was found inside his palace.
STENGEL: Well, by the way, it wasn't even his main palace. This was like a second safe house in another part of Baghdad. It wasn't even the official place. It was kind of where he conducted all of his nefarious business.
And so there were all kinds of things that you might imagine that a son of a dictator would have. He had all kinds of toys. He had motorcycles. He had videos. He had love letters from girlfriends written in lipstick. It was pretty tawdry. It was kind of the stuff of a romance novel or something.
ZAHN: Tell us about the charred bills that were found.
STENGEL: Well, they had a safe and they found $50 and $100 bills that were burnt on the corner. And a fellow who was by there said he used to light his cigars with those $50 and $100 bills.
ZAHN: You have to be a dictator's son to have that kind of money to blow.
STENGEL: It's very Shakespearian, the whole thing. It's sort of like King Lear and his daughters, these two sons who were rivals of each other for their father's affection. And, obviously, their father had very mixed feelings about both of them, sort of renounced both sons, ultimately.
ZAHN: But he passed over Uday.
STENGEL: Right. Uday was...
ZAHN: And Uday was very hurt by that. And there was something that you found in a letter, or your reporters saw in a letter or an e- mail, that indicated that he had no great love for his father.
STENGEL: Right. He said -- it was actually quite poignant. He said that, "I don't feel any affection for my father anymore. Basically, he felt spurned by his father. And he also was put in great jeopardy because he was his father's son. He did a lot of nasty things, too. But, of course, that was part of the problem.
ZAHN: Did he show any gratitude for this lifestyle he had that no one else in Iraq could share?
STENGEL: I don't know. I don't know about that. ZAHN: Tell me a little bit more about what we can learn from these e-mails. He clearly was communicating with people outside of the country. Do we know who he was communicating with?
STENGEL: Well, he was -- he had some official jobs. He was supposedly the head of the Fedayeen. He was the head of the notorious Iraqi Olympic Committee, where he supposedly tortured athletes who didn't well.
And he had an e-mail, for example, that was found that confirmed that a Shiite leader had been abducted in 1995 and was never heard from again. I'm sure that he knew where a lot of the bodies were buried and maybe buried some of them himself.
ZAHN: What did we learn about the Shiite that you just mentioned, that was abducted?
STENGEL: Only that he disappeared in '95 and he's never been seen since.
ZAHN: What else struck you about reporters' observations of this place?
STENGEL: Well, I found the stuff he wrote about his father to be almost poignant. He first -- we started out our story by saying that he had an e-mail where he said: Being a Hussein puts you in jeopardy. People want to kill us.
ZAHN: You're feeling very sorry about that, aren't you?
STENGEL: Well, he was hit from both ways.
And then, at the end, he talks about how he felt there was no love lost between him and his father anymore. He had no affection for his father. He was kind of barren of any kind of emotion whatsoever, as I assume the father is.
ZAHN: And what do people tell "TIME" magazine about his fate?
STENGEL: Whether he's alive or dead?
One thing that's a little bit suspicious is the fact that because he was a bit on the outs with dad, maybe he wasn't with his father that night in the bombing in Mansour. He might have been completely somewhere else. And I think the fact that we haven't found anything, or at least we don't know about anything, is a sign that maybe they are out there somewhere.
ZAHN: Rick Stengel, thanks for dropping by.
STENGEL: Nice to see you.
ZAHN: And the historical reference on the "TIME" magazine cover this week? STENGEL: Yes, May 1945, when Berlin had been bombed, when Hitler hadn't been found and the Third Reich was collapsing, "TIME" put a picture of Adolf Hitler with a red X to say the regime had been X'ed. The same reference here: We haven't found Saddam Hussein, but the regime is over.
ZAHN: Very powerful image.
Rick Stengel, again, thanks for your time tonight.
We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And that wraps it up for Wolf and me tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.
I will be back tomorrow morning for "AMERICAN MORNING."
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