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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES: Wiping Away Decades of Dictatorship

Aired April 16, 2003 - 19:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Wiping away decades of a dictatorship. Saddam Hussein's image and his actions.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The past month has been a time of testing and uncertainty for our country.

ANNOUNCER: And the testing continues. Syria put on notice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder why this time, you know, this kind of furious campaign against Syria without a meeting.

ANNOUNCER: Plus, new evidence of Iraq's experiments with chemical and biological weapons.

And is it time to make up with France?

LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES with Paula Zahn in New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening and welcome to LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES. Glad to have you with us tonight.

Coming up tonight, a CNN exclusive. Secret papers from the woman known as "Doctor Germ," who was in charge of Saddam's bioweapons program.If U.N. inspectors could talk to Iraqi scientists, experts say she would probably be near the top of their list.

Also ahead, the national terror threat level was lowered today from orange to yellow. But is now the time, as the U.S. talks tough with Syria? That story from our Kelli Arena.

But first, it has been serve days since we were riveted by the scenes of Saddam Hussein's statue being pulled down and dragged through the scenes of Baghdad. CNN's Christiane Amanpour says the dust is still settling, but a new image of Baghdad is starting to emerge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One week after U.S. Marines toppled Saddam's statue, a week after creating the war's iconic image, the surprise is how tall the fallen strongman still stands.

He was the people's nightmare, says this man, and all the pictures and statues were installed by force. But there are too many of them to tear down in one day.

So here's Saddam, still the station master. Here he is as traffic cop, as the once forbidden joke went.

Still the people are trying to wipe the slate clean, trying to wipe the smile off his face. But deeply suspicious, they also want to know where he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.

AMANPOUR: Where is Saddam, laughs Mohammed Ali (ph), nervously. Where is the whole leadership?

If you ask any Iraqi, the ghost of Saddam still hangs over them. We don't believe it yet, says this man.

(on camera): Without a body, people wonder when they'll ever be able to put Saddam's ghost to rest. And how long will he remain embarrassing, unfinished business for the United States, like many of their other most wanted? Osama bin Laden? Or holdouts like Caridage (ph) and Vladitch (ph) from the Bosnian War?

(voice-over): The U.S. now says Saddam's personal fate doesn't matter as much as freedom for the Iraqi people. And they are free: to talk, to complain openly.

Only many complaints are directed at the United States.

Our history has disappeared, say these people. Who will return it to us? Why didn't the Marines protect the country's heritage from the looters?

The apocalyptic feel of the day after instills fear and bitterness.

They came for our oil, shouts this man. Why didn't they protect our ministries? They've only protected the Oil Ministry.

It's a conspiracy theory bolstered by a ministry that's untouched, except for Marines using it as a base.

Residents survey the rubble of war and ask who will rebuild the infrastructure? They feel too small for such a massive task.

Saddam is finished, says Hali Moussaoui (ph). We thank God and extend Iraq's greetings to Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair. But we ask them to give us water, electricity and medical services.

Amid the fragments of a hated past, the people say they don't want their future tainted by the demons unleashed in that first anarchic week.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And while the fighting inside Iraq has died down, it has not died out completely. For the second straight day, there was trouble in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Three people were killed and at least 11 wounded by gunfire reportedly involving bank robbers, Iraqi police and U.S. forces.

Yesterday in Mosul, U.S. troops killed at least seven Iraqis when a demonstration against the presence of coalition forces turned violent.

The sporadic violence in Iraq as well as the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime and the widespread looting that's taken place over the past week has Pentagon planners drawing up some new missions for U.S. forces. And that of course, costs money, lots of money.

Senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, now has the details. Hi, Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Paula.

Well it is a lot of money. How much? Well about $30 billion so far either has been spent or will be spent by the end of this fiscal year. And, of course, the U.S. troop presence in Iraq will be much longer than that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice-over): As combat operations wind down, U.S. troops in Iraq are under growing pressure to focus on two uncompleted objectives: providing security for humanitarian relief and finding weapons of mass destruction, the primary justification for the war.

The U.S. remains convinced the weapons are there, but well hidden.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I have every confidence we are going to find them. I mean the -- but I don't think it's unusual that we haven't found -- found them yet. I think it's going to take people telling us where they are.

MCINTYRE: The U.S. military is beginning to transition into what it calls "Phase Four Stabilization Operations."

Under the plan, U.S. Marines will move out of Baghdad and be responsible for an area including roughly 9 million Iraqis in the north. Two other zones will fall under the authority of the U.S. Army, one for the southern part of the country and one for 5 million people in and around Baghdad.

U.S. commander General Tommy Franks made a low-key visit to Baghdad Wednesday, consulting with his field generals, but not mixing with the Iraqi people. Sources say Franks will likely soon establish a headquarters in the Iraqi capital. GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, JOINT STAFF DEPUTY DIR.: At some point, I think as he transitions to the next phase, he will probably recommend and stand up that kind of headquarters and put it right in -- within Iraq.

MCINTYRE: The U.S. is just now beginning to total up the bill for the war, which so far exceeds $20 billion and is projected to grow by roughly $2 billion a month through the rest of the year. The Pentagon says that's in line with the low-end estimates of under $80 billion for a short war.

DOV ZAKHEIM, PENTAGON COMPTROLLER: At first blush, from where we're looking, it seems that once again our estimates played out pretty well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: Well, General Franks didn't take a triumphal victory lap in Baghdad today. He did savor the moment, the glad-handing and back-slapping some of his troops and commanders. Here we see a picture of him arriving in Baghdad, pumping his fist in the air.

He also met with some of the senior commanders right inside one of Saddam Hussein's palaces which is now being used as a U.S. military headquarters, at one point passed out cigars and smoked them. He also took a tour of the palace including an area that was hit by a Cruise missile that caused significant destruction. Again, Franks did not meet with the Iraqi people. He merely met with his troops and commanders. He was trying deliberately to be low-key and not look like he was a triumphant, conquering hero. Again, to underscore the United States' position that the U.S. is not there to occupy Iraq, but to liberate it -- Paula.

ZAHN: So Jamie, when the military talks about this stabilization phase that comes, besides the obvious challenges of maybe more potential looting and trying to win the trust of the local people, what are some of the more subtle things that lie ahead for U.S. troops?

MCINTYRE: Well, I mean, a lot of it is just, as you said, earning the trust. That's the main thing. And part of that is listening to the concerns of the locals. Talking to some of the community leaders. Talking to the doctors at the hospitals. Finding out what they really think are the important things that need to be done in order to get the society up and running again and then to appear responsive to the extent that they can. It's a little bit frustrating for the U.S. troops, because there's a great deal of urgency in a lot of the needs of the Iraqi people, and frustration that the U.S. hasn't been able to produce faster. But they're confident that over time they will earn the trust of the Iraqi people and be able to really facilitate Iraq taking control of its own destiny.

ZAHN: Jamie, thanks so much. Jamie McIntyre, on duty at the Pentagon where he practically lives these days. On to more news now, seven former U.S. POWs are one step closer to home tonight. They arrived at Ramstein Air Base in Germany about two hours ago. And despite all they have been through, some family members thought they looked OK getting off the plane. A bus took the group to a U.S. military hospital for more treatment.

And Matthew Chance was at the base for their arrival. Good evening -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you as well, Paula.

We are just outside the Landstuhl medical facility at Landstuhl in Germany with those seven prisoners of war have been released, rescued prisoners of war have been brought. And we understand they are now resting, but preparing also for more medical check-ups in the morning here, local time. And for psychological counseling before they are given that final, OK, they are all looking forward to go back eventually to the United States.

It has been an evening here tonight of relief and of emotion. There were waves and smiles coming from those U.S. prisoners of war as they stepped off the U.S. military transport aircraft at the Ramstein Air Base a short distance from here. Even a grin from the injured Shoshana Johnson of the 507th Maintenance Company as she was carried off that aircraft by stretcher. It's been a long and arduous journey for all of them, captured, as they were in two separate incidents inside Iraq as U.S. forces advanced across the country, held for nearly two weeks, sometimes in isolation from each other, in isolation from their comrades.

And as we know, paraded in front of Iraqi television. We all remember those scenes, particularly of specialist Johnson looking absolutely terrified as she was questioned by Iraqi journalists before finally perhaps even by with a good measure of luck, at least, tracked down and rescued by U.S. marines for operating in the region.

For the past few days as we've been reporting, they've been located in U.S. military hands in Kuwait. They are going to be here for the next few days at least receiving whatever medical attention they may require -- Paula.

ZAHN: Matthew Chance, reporting from Germany for us tonight. Thanks so much.

Now one of those stories that is hard to get out of your mind. Before Marine Corporal Patrick Nixon went off to war in Iraq, he told his father -- his father told him don't try to be a hero, but when a hero was needed Nixon was a man who are answered the call. The 21- year-old Tennessee native was killed last month when he rushed to the aid of a wounded Marine. His family and friends honored Nixon at Arlington National Cemetery today.

Turning now to the issue of Iraq's chemical and biological weapon, no clear evidence has yet been found in the ground in Iraq that they exist. But one of Iraq's top scientists reveal deadly experiments with weapons of mass destruction. In this CNN exclusive, our own Mike Boettcher takes a look at the work of Iraq's Dr. Germ.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Rihab Taha, aka, Dr. Germ and the bug lady who directed Iraq's biological weapons program. CNN has exclusively obtained the United Nations English translations of her Arabic work papers.

Her research was conducted here at a location well known to U.N. arms inspectors, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 300 miles west of Baghdad.

Her notes began with the test objective. Her written words are read by a narrator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A field experiment was conducted to disperse biological agents, botulinum toxin and spores of bacillus, an anthrax stimulant, by exploding 122 millimeter Al-Buraq rockets. The rockets were filled with a biological agent. A cloud was formed that moved downwind near the grounds surface.

BOETTCHER: The test were a success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have proved the effect of the botulinum toxin and its field use. Eighty percent of the experimental animals perished.

BOETTCHER: Taha then described the success of the test using an anthrax stimulant in artillery rockets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When exploding the rockets it was found out that the highest spores rate was in the locations that were near to the explosion, specifically within the first circle of 20 meters diameter. Neither the metal of the rocket container, nor the blast temperature had any effect of the spore's vitality.

BOETTCHER: And she revealed success in a 1989 test using aerial bombs to disperse biological agents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a previous study prepared by us, military dispersal means, 250 kilogram aerial bombs were used to disperse bacterial toxins and biological agents. It was a successful method.

BOETTCHER (on camera): Dr. Taha's notes do not tell us how far she eventually progressed in her biological weapons testing. That's why the Marines came knocks, looking for her papers and looking for her.

Mike Boettcher, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And still to come this evening, Syria, what keeps it on the U.S. list of those in the terror trade?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to go after these problems just like a high school wrestler goes after a match. We'll take them down one at a time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Our Sheila MacVicar and the possibility of Hezbollah starting to wage war again.

Also ahead, a meeting with a member of the so-called axis of evil.

The U.S. now agreeing to sit down with North Korea. We are live at the State Department with the very latest.

And then the other war, the war on terror. Should the U.S. lower its threat level as talks with Syria heat up?

Our Kelli Arena is live from the headlines continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back. Syria says it wants to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction. It introduce a resolution today calling for the U.N. to ban such weapons in the region.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKHAIL WEHBE, SYRIAN AMB, TO U.N.: It is very necessary at this stage in particular after UNMOVIC. They said there is nothing in Iraq. And so I think we believe it's very important stage to be -- to submit such a resolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: The U.S. is questioning the timing of this move especially in the wake of denials by Syria that it doesn't have weapons of mass destruction and that it is providing sanctuary for Iraq's former top spy.

Sheila MacVicar says Syria's been on America's list with countries with terrorist ties for a long time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is unfinished business that keeps Syria in what the U.S. calls the terror trade. A state of war with Israel not yet resolved in peace. Not wars between states, the Syrian-Israeli border is quiet, but proxy wars fought by groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad. All groups named by the U.S. as terrorist organizations, all groups the U.S. says are sponsored in some way by Syria. Damascus has helped the U.S. go after al Qaeda, but officials here will not yet renounce the others.

BUTHAINA SHAABAN, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN: Who call these people terrorists? It is the people who occupy their hands and who send them out and expel them out of their land.

MACVICAR: The Syrians still make that old distinction between terrorists and freedom fighters. They do not see that civilian casualties caused by suicide bombers will bring American pressure and perhaps American might.

RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEP. SECY. OF STATE: We're going to go after these problems just like a high school wrestler goes after a match. We're going to take them down one at a time.

MACVICAR: High on that list is Hezbollah. Sponsored and armed by Syria and Iran, it is Hezbollah fighters who sit on the border between Lebanon and Israel who drove the Israelis out of south Lebanon after 22 years. The organization the U.S. holds responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American Marines in Beirut in 1983.

Last month CNN obtained a rare interview with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah.

(on camera): The United States administration calls Hezbollah the A-Team of terrorism. They say that you owe the United States a blood debt. They say that there is a price to be paid for that and that you are on their list and when the time is right they are going to come after Hezbollah. What do you think the United States will do and what will you do?

SHEIKH HASSAN NASRALLAH, SECY.-GEN., HEZBOLLAH (through translator): Hezbollah's problem with the American administration is that we are fighting Israel. And I'm certain that if we were to give up the fight against Israel then there's a great possibility that Hezbollah would be dropped from the American list of terrorist organizations.

MACVICAR (voice-over): Under Syrian pressure Hezbollah has been quiet for these weeks of war in the Middle East. But it could start again, this time with better, more powerful weapons.

(on camera): And if Hezbollah were to wage its war again, the Israelis say they would not simply hit missile launchers in south Lebanon. The address, they say, is here in Damascus and the target would be the Syrian government.

Sheila MacVicar, CNN, Damascus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Meanwhile, Syria's foreign minister is backing a plan for a ban on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, but he says he doubts Iraq had them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAROUK AL-SHARAA, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: If there were mass destruction weapons inside Iraq, Saddam Hussein would have kept it inside Baghdad in order to use it against the invading forces. He wouldn't have even the slightest stupidity to smuggle it to another country during the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Coming up in our next hour we're going to look at a history of Syria and its people. What is its relationship with Israel? Could it be harboring terrorists? Members of the Iraqi leadership regime or weapons of mass destruction? That's coming up in our next hour.

Now, though on to the subject of North Korea's nuclear program. It appears the coalition's success in Iraq may be having an unexpected ripple effect, at least in terms of convincing North Korea's Kim Jong Il that talking to his neighbors might be a good idea. Our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel says round one of the talks is set for next week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Did U.S. military victory in Iraq persuade North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il to finally agree to talks with China and the United States? The White House and State Department wouldn't say.

But after months of stalemate and heavy criticism of President Bush, who refused to hold one-on-one talks with Pyongyang, calling it nuclear blackmail, was there a sense of vindication.

PHILLIP REEKER, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: Well I think our policy has always been the right policy. And we've explained why, and pursued that and now we're going to move forward in this.

KOPPEL: Administration officials said next week's meeting in Beijing would be preliminary, playing down expectations North Korea would quickly abandon threats to begin reprocessing spent fuel rods to make weapons-grade plutonium employ.

The breakthrough, albeit modest, came after Secretary of State Powell urged Chinese leaders to push Pyongyang to agree to multilateral talks. For three days, China cut off oil shipments to North Korea, a strong message from an old communist ally.

But without other key regional players, the talks are still not as inclusive as the U.S. would like.

REEKER: We think that obviously the early inclusion of the Republic of Korea and Japan will be essential to reach substantive results.

KOPPEL: The U.S. delegation will be led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, the same official who last fall confronted Pyongyang with evidence that the U.S. knew it had a secret nuclear program.

Unknown, whether North Korea would ever agree to give up that program in exchange for U.S. security assurances, diplomatic recognition and economic aid. JON WOLFSTHAL, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR PEACE: These talks hopefully will find out once and for all whether North Korea is prepared to deal. And of course, then the question is is the United States prepared to take yes for an answer?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOPPEL: The obstacles to resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis are daunting. The latest hurdle, the United Nations just had a U.S. and European Union-backed resolution condemning North Korea for the first time ever, Paula, for its human rights record -- Paula.

ZAHN: Andrea, we're going to have to leave it there tonight. Andrea Koppel reporting from the State Department for us, thanks so much.

Still to come tonight, from Orange to Yellow, the U.S. is at a lowered terror threat level tonight, but some are saying now might not be the best time to do that. Kelli Arena has that story from Washington.

Also ahead, what do the French have to do to get back into America's good graces? Or to even want to. "CROSSFIRE" will debate that at the half hour.

And then a little bit later on, 3,000 more places to look, at least a year to go through them. The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq goes on. Our Jonathan Mann as LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And welcome back. A sign of things getting back to normal, the government has lowered the National Terror Alert Level from high to elevated. The end of heavy fighting in Iraq is supposed to mean a lower threat of an attack here at home.

In St. Louis, President Bush told the employees of Boeing who make fighter jets the U.S. is making some inroads against terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Iraq, our coalition has now removed an ally of terrorists and a producer of weapons of mass destruction. In other nations we're hunting and capturing members of al Qaeda, disrupting their plans before they can strike.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So more than a year and a half after September 11, just how vulnerable is our country to terrorism? And the extra security measure's working? Well Justice correspondent Kelli Arena look at how things stand with America's other war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the outbreak of war, came a series of warnings and a rise in the nation's threat level. Would Saddam Hussein send Iraqi terrorists to retaliate? Would al Qaeda take advantage of the situation and once again attack on U.S. soil?

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: There was intelligence that indicated that that an elevated and escalated military presence by the United States and escalated activity in Iraq might occasion additional activity by terrorists.

ARENA: Obviously, there hasn't been an attack. The man in charge of Homeland Security offers this explanation.

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Being on alert, being aware, being in empowered with this information, we think is a deterrent factor.

ARENA: But it's hard to prove a negative. Counter terrorism officials concede we may never know whether increased security thwarted a planned attack, but there is other concrete evidence of success against al Qaeda. The capture of key operatives, most notably, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and along with those operatives came nearly six million documents loaded with intelligence leads.

CHIEF TERRANCE GAINER, U.S CAPITOL POLICE: We still know that the terrorists would like to take another bite of the Capital or the White House; Washington in general.

ARENA: The most recent audiotape believed to be from Osama bin Laden urging suicide attacks underscores al Qaeda's resolve.

OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): It's clear to everybody that America, this mighty aggressor, can be defeated, can be destroyed, and can be humiliated.

ARENA: What's more, as tensions in the Middle East escalate there, is growing concern about the Lebanon-based terrorist group, Hezbollah.

ROGER CRESSEY, FRM. COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: Next to al Qaeda, Hezbollah is the single most dangerous terrorist organization there is. Prior to 9/11, Hezbollah has more American blood on their hands than any other group.

ARENA (on camera): Many terror experts believe the biggest threat at this time is to U.S. interests overseas, but they warn this is more of an art than a science and say Americans should remain on guard. Unlike the war in Iraq, there is no end in sight to the war on terror.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And still to come tonight, getting back in the good graces of the U.S. The French and the road ahead. Here's James Carville with "CROSSFIRE." Hi, James. How are you doing tonight?

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Doing great, Paula. We're talking about the boycott of French products, which appears to be working. French wine sales in the U.S. are way down. I say wait till the prices of that excellent 2000 vintage go down, and come in and buy a little bit of it.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": And I say long live California merlot, but can U.S./French relations be saved? Find out when we come back, as CNN's coverage of the New Iraq continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CNN's coverage of the New Iraq. I'm Tucker Carlson.

So just how bad are U.S./French relations? Well, if French wine sales are any indication and they are, it seems as though there are still some sour grapes on both sides. Is it time for France and the U.S. to french kiss and makeup? We're asking that question of Martin Walker who's the chief international correspondent for UPI and also radio talk show host, Blanquita Cullum. James Carville.

CARVILLE: B.Q.

BLANQUITA CULLUM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Sir?

CARVILLE: That's the B.Q. The U.S., the ruba (ph) hawk I guess they'd call it. Mr. Richard Perle has a home in the South of France. So he's not just buying French products, he's hiring French labor, and God forbid paying French taxes. Should he immediately sell that home?

CULLUM: You know, a lot of people would say so. I mean I think there are pretty hard feelings by a lot of Americans about the bad relationship the disrespect that France has demonstrated to America; the dirty dealings behind the scenes.

CARVILLE: So you would call on Mr. Perle to sell his house immediately?

CULLUM: I'd say Mr. Perle has got to think about it, and I think a lot of people are thinking about it. I mean I'll look at this bottle of wine you've got right there. People are saying we don't need French wine. We don't need French products.

CARVILLE: Should we pass a law not allowing the French to buy our bonds? I mean to hell with them, we don't need their money, do we?

CULLUM: Should we pass a law? It's ridiculous. I think people; I think we have people of freedom of choice. Look, I go to the supermarket and I say, listen I don't believe in passing a law, but I certainly am going to say, am I going to buy a French bottle of wine? Am I going to go to France? I don't think so. CARLSON: When the NAACP initiates a boycott of the state of South Carolina because the Confederate battle flag is flown above their statehouse, liberals say well that's an act of principle and it's a fundamentally intrinsically a good thing. When ordinary Americans switch to California wine because France had decided to side with Saddam Hussein before the war, liberals say well that's outrageous; that's a kind of censorship. Why is that?

MARTIN WALKER, UPI CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESP.: I'm not sure they do say that. I certainly wouldn't say it. If individuals don't want to buy French wine they can perfectly well buy South African, Australian, Argentinean. There's all sorts of excellent wines around.

CULLUM: Italian, Spanish.

WALKER: The bizarre thing about this is that, I mean I've just come back from Iraq, and all of the troops that I was talking to there, felt they were part of something very, very big, and very, very successful. And I think this kind of boycott idea, sorry B.Q., it's petty, it's small-minded.

CULLUM: Oh, it's not. Really ...

WALKER: The U.S. is bigger than that. You've won hugely, why rub the rest of the world's ...

CARLSON: Let me ask you this, since you just came from Iraq, Martin Walker. I noticed in the "Times" coverage that one of the very first sites to be descended upon by an angry mob in Baghdad after liberation, was the French Cultural Center. Pictures of Jacques Chirac were ripped into little pieces. The bottom line is Iraqis were mad at France too.

WALKER: They were probably looking for the wine bar, to see if they could pick up some of the loot from there.

CARVILLE: Probably picking, hitting each other over the vase because...

WALKER: I mean, bear in mind Iraq is one of the few Arab countries where you can drink quite openly.

CARVILLE: Let me go here back to this bottle of win here; in typical CNN, it's just a made arc (ph), how do you pronounce that? Chateau Shancela (ph).

WALKER: Shancela, it's a very good wine.

CARVILLE: Let me, Martin will verify me, there's a state known as Chateau Eaubrion (ph), which some people would might even say is a greatest red wine made on Earth. But argue that; is owned by the Dillon (ph) family; C. Douglas Dillon (ph) who is a former Secretary of Treasury, actually a Republican in the Kennedy administration. Should the Dillon family, out of American patriotism, get the hell rid of Chateau Eaubrion? CULLUM: Well, some people would call it Chateau Eaubrion, but I'll tell you the Cullum family's not going to buy Chateau Eaubrion or Chateau O'Brien.

CARVILLE: Well if you have any you want to get rid of, you can give it to the Carville's.

CULLUM: And let me tell you, when you've got 70 percent of the population in France, that's two out of three Frenchmen said that they hoped Iraq won the war. When you have $40 billion in trade and a lot of that was in from, with Iraq and France and the nuclear reactor that was built by the French.

CARVILLE: Should we boycott the German goods too?

CULLUM: Well you know, it's not such a bad idea. Let me tell you something.

CARLSON: I'm sorry to interrupt you, excuse me. Speaking of commerce we do have to take a quick break. When we come back, should freedom fries become French fries once again? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Tonight's "CROSSFIRE" today. French fries became freedom fries. The French quarter in my native New Orleans became, not actually my native, but of my native state, became the freedom quarter and a lot of cheap French wine got dumped in the gutter. Isn't it time to end all this nonsense and mend U.S./French relations? Our guests radio talk show host, Blanquita Cullum, and Martin Walker, chief international correspondent for the United Press International and senior fellow at the World Policy Institute.

CARLSON: Martin Walker, you said a moment ago that we shouldn't rub the French noses in our victory, rather large French nose, we should be magnanimous in victory and we should make up with France. My question is why? Why should we?

WALKER: Two reasons. First off all, it's going to be very difficult to hurt France in any way that doesn't either break World Trade Organization rules, or hurt other European Union members, people like the British, the Spaniards, the Italians, who are actually on America's side. The other problem is that it's when Evian, French water is 51 percent owned by Coca Cola, it's kind of hard to boycott them without some shooting yourself in the foot.

CARLSON: But the French government, and I'm not talking specifically about the boycott. The French government backed Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein lost. Why should the French government profit from the reconstruction of Iraq?

WALKER: The French government is hollering uncle as fast as it can. It's already lifted its block upon NATO taking over the Afghanistan thing. It's asking to kiss and make up. It's saying sorry in the only way it can and the really bizarre thing on this wine, is that those parts of France which didn't vote for Jacques Chirac, are on the whole, the ones who produce the wine.

CULLUM: Can I say one thing to that?

WALKER: You're hurting the wrong people.

CULLUM: Because you know what? The funny thing is that France then should have been a little bit more thoughtful when they were playing bully-boys with those 10 new European Union guys that they were threatening that they wouldn't get in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) new country.

CARVILLE: To warn (ph) people in the old Europe I want to talk about here, B.Q. Yes, the Germans and of course, Troda (ph) actually won the election, got the most votes, which is kind of foreign to this administration, but after he ran on a, saying he would not get involved and won the election, and didn't and was very critical.

WALKER: But he did, he did. When I went in to Camp Doha in Kuwait, I saw a great big German flying there. There are still German chemical war...

CARVILLE: Let me ask you something. Should, and you said we should boycott these German products too?

CULLUM: No, I'm saying we need to revisit that, because when you look at for example there was a company called the Goose (ph) that was providing the centrifuge to extract uranium to Syria out of, so the plutonium...

CARVILLE: If we have German in South Carolina and Alabama; we have BMW and Mercedes plants, should these and I know these are good patrons (ph). Should we, should we call a general strike against them, and quit making these cars?

CULLUM: Listen, Germany's rethinking a lot of this stuff, because frankly that Franco-European power that they have there has crumbled.

CARVILLE: But they didn't oppose it. They won an election.

CULLUM: They crumbled, and you know what's happened, I mean you've got the Franco...

CARVILLE: What about the Mexicans? Should we do something to them?

CARLSON: Wait a minute. Hold on before you. Martin Walker, quickly. It seems to me, France is upset that France is no longer a world power, and yet in some ways the world has stuck an amber in 1945, it still has seat, permanent seat on the Security Council. Shouldn't the lesson of this war be, that it's best the world recognizes, and France admits that it's no longer a major player internationally?

WALKER: Well, I think the French have started to realize that and I think the French are doing a very fast rethink. The French have suffered a series of real diplomatic defeats and humiliations in this last month. The whole world is being remade by this war, and France is just one minor part of it. I mean the reorganization of what's going on in Europe, I think is paralleled by what's happening in the Middle East. There's what, the scale of the changes that are now under way, as a result of this stunning Anglo-American victory are so big, that frankly France is too minor to worry about.

CULLUM: I know but Martin, but France has to recognize the arrogance and the evil what, that they did behind the back's. I mean look what happened even in those graveyards and the disrespect that was placed on those British graves. You know, roast beefs go home, get your rubbish out here. They had no, the rise of anti-Semitism.

WALKER: Every country has its idiots.

CULLUM: Oh...

CARLSON: And on that note, I'm afraid we're going to have to end right there. Blanquita Cullum, Martin Walker, thank you both very much.

WALKER: Merci beaucoup.

CARLSON: Merci beaucoup. We go back to Paula Zahn in New York. Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, Tucker.

Still to come tonight, should a terrorist get off without punishment if they committed a crime before a certain date? We're going to talk about the capture of Abu Abbas after a short break.

Also ahead, 3,000 more sites and counting. Finding the weapons of mass destruction that was the primary justification for a war against Iraq. Jonathan Mann has that story, and we leave you with scenes from New York. Right now on a night when it's 80 degrees. Tomorrow morning when we wake up here, we're expected to be back down in the 40's.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back. It was a chase that spanned 18 years in the words in the words of one former CIA chief; an old score to settle. Well, the tenacity paid off. Muhammad Abu Abbas is now in the hands of the U.S. for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in, which passenger Leon Klinghoffer was killed. I talked with Klinghoffer's daughter this morning, about how she felt about the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA KLINGHOFFER, DAUGHTER OF LEON KLINGHOFFER: This meant a tremendous amount to us, you can imagine. It's been a long 18 years. Some people have long memories, many people do, and now that he's captured we'll feel even better if he is brought to a place where he can serve a sentence and be put behind bars for the rest of his life. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: But the question is where will Abu Abbas be taken? Italy wants him, the U.S. may want him, too, and the Palestinian authorities says let him go. David Ensor reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now that the U.S. has Abu Abbas in custody, the question is what to do with him?

VICTORIA CLARKE, PENTAGON SPOKESWOMAN: We're looking at the legal issues and possibilities and have nothing to say right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Abu Abbas personally condemned the attack aboard the Achille Lauro.

ENSOR: Abbas was found guilty in absentia in Italy in the 1985 killing of disabled American tourist Leon Klinghoffer on the seized cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, murdered by Palestinian guerrillas under Abbas' command. Italy has asked for Abbas' extradition to serve a life sentence. Good idea, says a former Justice Department official.

VICTORIA TDENSING, FRM. DEPUTY ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Why do we want to cause more problems for ourselves by bringing him here on something that we don't even think we have the evidence for right now? I would say let's go with the Italian solution.

ENSOR: But U.S officials want to question Abbas, and figure out whether he has had any role in supporting terrorism in more recent years. Did he help Saddam Hussein pay families of Palestinian suicide bombers? Did he help the Iraqis train terrorists at any point? Should he face charges in the U.S.?

BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, CENTCOM SPOKESMAN: Abu Abbas is a terrorist. He was a terrorist, he remains a terrorist.

ENSOR: Abu Abbas has lived openly and freely in Baghdad, traveling often to the Gaza Strip since the 1995 signing of a Palestinian-Israeli agreement regarding immunity for actions taken prior to the Oslo Accords. Palestinian officials are pressing the U.S. to free him.

SAEB ERAKAT, PALESTINIAN CABINET MINISTER: I have contacted the American administration this morning, and I urge the American administration to honor and respect the agreement signed.

ENSOR: But U.S. officials respond, while Israel is bound by those agreements, the U.S. is not.

REEKER: The United States is not a party to that or any amnesty arrangements regarding Abu Abbas.

ENSOR (on camera): U.S officials say Abbas did try to flee Iraq to Syria, but was turned back at the border by the Syrians. He now faces a lot of American questions, presumably followed by a long period in prison. The only question being where?

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Very good question, indeed.

Still to come tonight, did Iraq move weapons of mass destruction into neighboring Syria? Hear what the chief U.N. weapons inspector says about that in the next hour of live from the headlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: With the war winding down, there is still no concrete evidence of the weapons of mass destruction that the coalition originally set out to find, but the search isn't over yet. The story now from Jonathan Mann.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. forces searching a farm near Karbala found suspicious chemicals that turned out to be pesticide. They found a suspicious warhead at Kirkuk marked in a way suggestive of a chemical weapon, only it wasn't one. They found buried containers that were full of military equipment, but not the banned kind.

Iraq's chief military scientist, General Amer Hamoudi al-Saadi, who surrendered to U.S. forces, said that's because the weapons of mass destruction that Washington wants just aren't there.

LT. GEN. AMER HAMOUDI AL-SAADI, IRAQI CHIEF SCIENTIST: I was knowledgeable about those programs, the past programs. And I was telling the truth, always telling the truth, never told anything but the truth. And time will bail me out (ph), you will see. There will be no difference after this war.

MANN: Ridding Iraq of its alleged weapons of mass destruction was a cornerstone of the Bush administration's case for attacking Iraq.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Indeed the facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.

MANN: And so the obvious irony, the U.S. has won the war without yet finding the very thing it said the war was about.

SCOTT RITTER, FRM. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: If we don't find them we've got serious issues. We've got issues with international law. We got issues here at home about why the president of the United States told Congress these weapons existed, getting Congress to therefore give him more powers, action. MANN: The Bush administration says it's confident the weapons are there. But the chief of the U.S. Central Command, General Tommy Frank, says there may be 3,000 places to look and it could take a year to get to them all.

International weapons inspectors are asking to be let back into Iraq to continue their search, but the U.S. believes that Iraqi insiders are more important. People who might come forward more easily now that it's safe and could be lucrative.

BROOKS: People that have knowledge of the weapons of mass destruction program, for example, may be rewarded if they provide information about that program.

MANN: But looters may have been faster than U.S. soldiers or Iraqi experts. The scenes in major cities have reportedly been repeated at some suspect weapons sites which have been robbed before they could be studied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to take the United States quite a long time to search Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, and have a complete answer. I mean they may get lucky tomorrow and stumble across a stock of chemical weapon. But they actually have to find everything so they have assurance that it's not going to be picked up accidentally by someone and kill them or somehow be stolen and given to an enemy of the United States.

MANN: And according to one published account, bureaucratic infighting among U.S. authorities has only added to the muddle, a competition of how the search should be conducted and who should conduct it.

(on camera): It may all come down to honesty. The United States and its allies have clearly won the war in Iraq and they stand every chance of making it a better place because of that fact. Still, millions of people around the world are deeply suspicious about the U.S. and its motives. Real progress on the ground in Iraq, real progress on the weapons of mass destruction may be the only way to put those suspicions to rest.

Jonathan Mann, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And coming up in the next hour, live from the headlines, we're going to ask the question is Syria next? A look at the history of Syria and its people. Could Iraq's Western neighbor be harboring terrorists, members of the Iraqi leadership regime, or weapons of mass destruction? That story right after a quick break.

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



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