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Bush Lands on USS Abraham Lincoln to Deliver Speech Declaring End to Fighting in Iraq

Aired May 1, 2003 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: President Bush makes a dramatic entrance and is now on board a U.S. warship at sea to make an important announcement on the war in Iraq.

New questions about the boy abandoned at a Chicago hospital, suspected of being Buddy Myers, the boy who disappeared from South Carolina over two years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've just doing a lot of praying that it is him.

ANNOUNCER: What it will take to make a positive identification?

And the Dixie Chicks kick off their first U.S. concert tour since making controversial comments about President Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm embarrassed that they went to another country and slurred our president.

ANNOUNCER: Can the country trio still draw a crowd that's no all protesters?



PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome to a brand new month here. This is Thursday, May 1. Also coming up today, child abuse in foster care homes. New Jersey releases some startling new numbers on abuse, sometimes deadly abuse of children in its care. That disturbing story coming up.

Also ahead, Cuban government spies. Their lies and betrayal sent scores of dissidents to quick trials and into prison all in a matter of weeks. A live report from Havana is just ahead.

But first, it is a dramatic setting for an historic speech. President Bush is scheduled to address the nation from the deck of an aircraft carrier two hours from now. He plans to announce the end of major combat in Iraq. Senior White House correspondent John King now has the details for us. Good evening, John. JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you Paula. A day of powerful pictures and more to come as the president, two hours from now will stride across the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver that primetime address.

Make no mistake about it, the White House chose that platform, that stage, a major weapon of war to say yes major combat is over in Iraq, but that much remains to be done inside Iraq and the global war on terrorism. The message from this president tonight will be in Afghanistan and Iraq. He did not shy away from using force and he will not again, if necessary.

You see history being made there. Mr. Bush landing on a Navy jet. The first president to land on a carrier the hard way. Others have landed by using helicopters. Mr. Bush landing with the tailhook approach. His pilot catching what's called the forewire there. Mr. bush on board this plane, was among those standing up on what they call "Vulture's Row" looking out as the Navy put on a show of force for this president.

This carrier coming home from ten months at sea. You see a flyover by Navy F/A-18 jets right up over the deck of the carrier there. Mr. Bush and his chief of staff among those looking on. All of this carefully choreographed by the White House to send a message of strength.

The president in his speech tonight will tell the American people, yes, combat is over, but much more remains to be done in Iraq. Among the things the president will say is this. He will say, quote, "We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical ask biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We are helping to rebuild Iraq where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools for the people."

Now throughout the day today, Democrats back here in Washington complaining this is all a political stunt, a photo-op, if you will, for a commander in chief just a few months away from a reelection campaign. The White House does not dispute the power, the political power of these pictures. The commander in chief who took the stick and actually flew that jet for a short time today, shaking hands and being welcomed on the deck of the carrier.

No disputing the political power but the White House says this is an important message the president will deliver tonight talking about the end of major combat in Iraq. Also his hope that democracy takes hold in Iraq. That there is a future Palestinian state as well. So a powerful message, a very important message from the president two hours away -- Paula.

ZAHN: You talked about the message and clearly there are two audiences. I guess the administration was targeting a domestic audience as well as an international audience. Any reaction as to how anybody in Europe has reacted to the excerpts of the speech you've been given so far, even his appearance on this aircraft carrier? KING: Well no reaction directly from European capitals. Obviously the president is trying to tell the American people and he's trying to mostly salute the troops here and tell them that combat is over so some of the troops can come home. It's a difficult line for the president though because he also has to say many have to stay for perhaps a year or two or more.

In other capitals you can be sure they will cringe at the president's use of an aircraft carrier. We have heard throughout the campaign from the French, from the Russians, from the Germans and others that Mr. Bush is too willing to use U.S. military power to project U.S. foreign policy overseas. That debate will certainly continue because the president chose this stage tonight for a reason. He will say that he uses force as a last resort, but if necessary, he's not afraid to do so.

ZAHN: John King, thanks so much. If you wouldn't mind standing by. I know we're going to be checking in with you a number of times before that speech gets underway.

Right now though we're going to catch up with Kyra Phillips, our own correspondent now on the ground in Lemoore, California after the ride of her life. The president got to watch you fly today, didn't he?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Isn't that amazing, Paula? It was incredible. It was awesome to launch off the USS Abraham Lincoln. The president of the United States up there watching all of us takeoff the carrier. Was an incredible feeling.

But you know what? I'll tell you, all of the incredible feelings are happening on the ground, Lemoore, California. These three F-18 squadrons back home, finally with their families.

I'm going to show you a very special person now right over here in this jet in Number 301. I'm going to get him to wave to us. That's the skipper of VFA-113, the Stingers. They're the F-18 squadron. Because of Bill Doris (ph), I was able to fly along with this squadron and Admiral Malone (ph) who let me participate in the fly-off.

Let me get him to wave. There he is. He's looking at his family. Here we go, right here. This is his wife, Joanna Doris (ph) and their three kids. How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe he's so close and he's sitting there in that plane. I am so excited.

PHILLIPS: This is the first time you've seen your husband in ten months.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. It is. I -- I wish he could get out of that plane right now.

PHILLIPS: Within minutes. Introduce me to the boys. He's been talking about them the all cruise. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) great. These are my wonderful sons. This is Riley (ph) and Will (ph) and Jake (ph).

PHILLIPS: Hey, guys, how was it like to see Dad right now for the first time in ten months?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well it was great. It felt like he just left yesterday, but it's so good he's home.

PHILLIPS: What's the first thing you're going to say to him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just going to give him a big hug and say I'm so excited you're home.

PHILLIPS: They look just like him.

What are you going to say to Dad when he gets out of that jet right there about 500 yards from you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just going to say you're back. You're finally back. It's going to be so great.

PHILLIPS: What did you miss the most about your dad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just him being there all the time.

PHILLIPS: Are you excited to see your dad?


PHILLIPS: What did you miss so much about him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I missed -- I just miss everything about him.

PHILLIPS: Well you're going to get to hug him in just a few minutes. Everybody's starting to get pretty excited here. Are you (UNINTELLIGIBLE). What do you want to say to him? First thing you're going to say to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honey, I'm so glad to have you home and will you please (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the kids around some.

PHILLIPS: Joanna Doris, thank you so much, the wife of Bill Doris, the C.O. of the Stinger squadron, right here, VFA-113. He just pulled in. You'll see all the rest of his guys pulling out next to him.

No doubt, Paula, this has been an amazing experience for all these sailors and now they get to reunite with all their families and loved ones -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, Kyra, before we let you go you also happened to be on board when the president landed. There was a great sense of anticipation when he came in. What was the level of concern when he came in? PHILLIPS: Oh, that's a good question. There, of course, was a lot of extra security. The Secret Service had been clearing the p- ways and all of the areas around the carrier. There were only certain places that we could go and operate from. And then when he was out on the flight deck, he had his own security team around the carrier.

With regard to the Navy, it was SOP, standard operating procedure. They did things like they normally do. They made sure they had the search and rescue helicopters airborne. They had the best pilots of the Viking squadron bringing the president on board. It couldn't have been more smooth of an operation -- Paula.

ZAHN: Well, we're going to keep your camera hot and dip into some of those family reunions when some of the pilots are allowed to leave their jets. Kyra Phillips, thanks so much for sharing that with us.

PHILLIPS: You bet, Paula.

ZAHN: And while President Bush was getting ready to announce that major combat has ended in Iraq, his defense secretary was making a different kind of announcement about Afghanistan. Donald Rumsfeld offered the assessment during a stop in Kabul today. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports that despite today's declaration, skirmishes continue.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the weather has turned warmer, U.S. military forces are seeing more activity by suspected Taliban and al Qaeda.

Sources tell CNN groups of enemy forces as large as 40 are reappearing. Only small teams have been seen during the winter. Most of the enemy attacks have been disorganized. Rocket and grenade attacks, ambushes, fighters dispersing quickly.

But on the border with Pakistan, there are new concerns. Fighters are now crossing the border regularly near the southern edge with Afghanistan, east of Kandahar, near Spinboldak. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stopped here briefly on his way home from Iraq. U.S. officials saying that the major combat is over in Afghanistan.

But U.S. and Afghan officials are again pressing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to put security troops on his side of the border. Sources say some of the post-September 11 emphasis by Pakistan has evaporated. About 9,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. Aggressively patrolling and operating around Kandahar and Khost, seizing suspects and weapons. To improve security, the U.S. military is setting up reconstruction teams around the country. Teams of combat and reconstruction troops moving in. Paving the way for a more secure environment and international aid. It's a model, the U.S. hopes will eventually work in Iraq.

(on camera): But a year and a half after the 9/11 attacks, one goal remains elusive. Osama bin Laden is still unaccounted for.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Kabul.


ZAHN: Tonight, the State Department is urging Americans to put off nonessential travel to Saudi Arabia. Officials say terrorist groups may be in the final stages of planning attacks against U.S. interest in that country. According to David Ensor, the official say the information is linked to al Qaeda and has been deemed credible.

Now off to Illinois where there is a development in the case of a missing North Carolina boy. Some early DNA test results are in. We have been following this very emotional story for several days now.

And we're going to go to our Chicago bureau where Jeff Flock is standing by with the very latest.

Good evening -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CHICAGO BUREAU CHIEF: Good evening to you Paula.

Indeed not a happy development we report to you this evening. What looked so promising at first is now apparently a long shot. It appears that the boy that turned up in Chicago in February now is not the boy that has been missing from North Carolina. That based on information we've gotten from a number of sources. Let's tell you what we know and as we do, let's show you the picture of the boys we are talking about.

First of all, Buddy Myers, he's the boy that's been missing for two years from Rose Borough, North Carolina. On the right you see the boy named, Eli Quick, turned up in Chicago in February. They thought perhaps they were the same boy. Now law enforcement sources telling CNN that preliminary DNA results show about a 90 percent certainty that they are not the same person.

In addition, we have learned that the man who claims to be Eli's father, and we've got some pictures of him in Chicago. He is the man who brought this little boy, Eli Quick to the hospital in February. He has apparently told FBI investigators enough of a credible story to make them believe that in fact he is not the birth father, the biological father of Eli Quick, that indeed he has been a long period of time since before Buddy Myers would have disappeared. Ricky Quick says he is fighting to get his son returned to him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would do everything possible to man to get my child back. Whatever it would take.

FLOCK: Paula, he tells us that Eli Quick, that little boy is actually eight years old, Buddy Myers, would be six. He says that that boy is the product of an affair he had with a Chicago prostitute who later died, and dropped the boy off to him. So that would explain why he doesn't have any documentation on the boy. We've been working the neighborhood, Paula, where Mr. Quick lives for corroboration. We found one neighbor who said that little boy has been in the neighborhood for a long time, since long before Buddy Myers disappeared. So, it appears tonight a dead end, although final DNA results may be tomorrow -- Paula.

ZAHN: Know some of the hospital workers describe this young boy as being filthy and it looked like he hadn't changed his clothes in weeks when he was checked in and registered and all that.

What else do we know about his health over the last several months or so?

FLOCK: His father says they were in a car accident a year ago in which his wife was killed, and he was badly injured in that wreck. So he hasn't been able to care for the boy very well over the course of the last year. He says he loves him and wants to get him back. But I think the headline that instead of one sad story, tonight, Paula from Roseboro, North Carolina, there are in fact two sad stories, the other one from here in Chicago.

ZAHN: Jeff Flock, thanks.

Still to come tonight, it was a plan laced with lies and betrayals. Spies for the Cuban Government trap numerous Cuban journalist and accuse them of conspiring against the government.

That story tonight from Lucia Newman.


LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Cuba, those who actively oppose communist systems say they've learned the hard way to not trust their own shadow.


ZAHN: Also ahead, screaming children trapped underneath tons of rubble. An earthquake in Turkey kills at least 100 people. Tonight the rescue effort continues.

And a little bit later on imagine having to be isolated in your home for weeks all because you might have SARS. It happened to one woman. That story tonight from Elizabeth Cohen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I woke Tuesday morning really feeling like I had been hit by a truck. And by Tuesday afternoon I'd noticed I felt hot and I took my temperature and I was coughing at that point and just the symptoms made me very nervous.



ZAHN: May Day rallies turned deadly in Venezuela and that begins our look at the world tonight. One person was killed another injured when protesters clashed with police in Caracas. Supporters of President Chavez marched in the first street demonstrations since the devastating general strike last winter.

Rescuers are franticly looking for anyone who might be buried alive, following a powerful earthquake in southeastern Turkey. At least 100 people lost their lives, 1,000 injure. Dozens of schoolchildren remain missing after their dormitory collapsed. Rescuers have made contact with some reaching through the rubble being squeeze from the other side. They are hopeful they will pull some of those young men and women out alive.

Rescuers used boats and canoes to look for dozens unaccounted for in flooding in Argentina. Nine people are confirmed dead after floodwaters overran a cattle raising region about 250 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. Most of the victims were elderly or children.

And U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says today's Israeli incursion near Gaza City undermined the drive for peace. 12 Palestinians were killed when Israeli tanks backed by helicopters went into a Hamas stronghold. Israel said it was going after three top Hamas fugitives, all of whom were killed in the raid.

Cuba's communist government is cracking down on people who are being called information terrorists. You and I would call them something different, journalists.

Lucia Newman is in Havana tonight -- Lucia.

NEWMAN: Good evening, Paula.

Well, do I want to make clear that the crackdown is not just limited to opposition journalists, but also to scores and scores of government opponents, human rights activist and people who are trying basically to change the system here. And it's an old maxim that information or access to information is winning or is necessary in order to win the battle and that's why many, many countries use spies or moles to see what their enemies are up to.

In Cuba, though, that does not just apply to people who are considered enemies abroad, but also to the growing number of people inside this country whom the Cuban government sees as enemies of its revolution.


NEWMAN (voice-over): In Cuba, those who actively oppose the communist system say they've learned the hard way not to even trust their own shadow.

Take the majority of those who attended this workshop for Cuban journalists who oppose Fidel Castro. It was held at the residence of Washington's top diplomat in Havana on March 14. The workshop was organized by Manual David Orio (ph), for 11 years an outspoken dissident journalist, and by Aleida Godinez, a top-ranking member of the Opposition Assembly to the Promotion of a Civil Society. ALEIDA GODINEZ, CUBAN DISSIDENT (through translator): I want to take this opportunity to thank from the bottom of my heart the kind gesture that the American government has made by offering us this house.

NEWMAN: To wrap up, the elderly Nestor Baguer was awarded a special diploma for his outstanding contributions to the cause, amid the thunderous applause from dozens of other opposition journalists.

A week later, 75 of Cuba's most active dissident journalists and opposition members were arrested and then tried and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiring against the revolution with a foreign power, the United States. State's witnesses against them, the very same Cubans who'd organized the journalistic seminar in the American diplomat's house.

Manual David Orio (ph), alias Agent Miguel. Aleida Godinez, alias Agent Velma, and even Nestor Baguer, Agent Octavio, who, it turns out, had been a government spy for more than 40 years. All of them now proud to be able to denounce their former colleagues.

NESTOR BAGUER, GOVERNMENT AGENT (through translator): They lie and show disrespect for our head of state and our government. In other words, they're not journalists, they're information terrorists.

NEWMAN: During the trials of scores of dissidents, at least half a dozen agents revealed themselves.

"Today, I can tell the world that I'm really an agent, Agent Tania," said Ophelia Cojasso (ph), for years the president of the Opposition Human Rights Party.

For years, the agents fooled not only the dissidents, but also their neighbors, their relatives, even their children. Now their neighborhood committees for the defense of the revolution were welcoming them back to the fold like heroes. Ceremonies broadcast to all on Cuban state television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Odelia (ph) and Roberto (ph), symbols that help us understand why our nation is invincible.

NEWMAN: Journalist Claudia Marquez, whose husband, a dissident activist, has just been sentenced to 18 years in prison says the idea is to play mind games, spread suspicion and fear.

CLAUDIA MARQUEZ, OPPOSITION JOURNALIST (through translator): Undoubtedly the Cuban government's objective, and it works, is for everyone to distrust each other, to create paranoia among us.

NEWMAN: Before being sentenced to 20 years in prison in late April, Cuba's best known dissident journalist and poet, Raul Rivero, told CNN he knew there were informants among them.

RAUL RIVERO, DISSIDENT JOURNALIST (through translator): I can't tell you what percentage are spies, although many opposition groups have percentages that are disconcerting. NEWMAN: Although Cubans know government agent abound, this is the first time so many have been publicly revealed. A move that increases the climate of paranoia and suspicion felt by many here.


NEWMAN: There's a saying here that in Cuba, you can't have a conspiracy against the government, because in order to conspire you need at least two people, and once you have more than one, you don't know who to trust -- Paula.

ZAHN: Lucia Newman, thanks so much for the update. We quickly go to Lemoore, California, where hundreds of anxious families are waiting to be reunited with their loved ones after almost a 10-month deployment. Rusty Dornin on the ground, who will be an eyewitness to some of these emotional reunions. What are you seeing right now?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, it's that moment is so electric right now, because any time,this string of people along here, the hundreds of family and friends of the 35 pilots from three squadrons here at Lemoore Naval air station will be breaking through this line and running to their loved ones. The planes landed just about 15 minutes ago. They all lined up. We'll show you right now. The pilots are now just standing out on the tarmac, and what they're going to do is line up, walk down the tarmac. Hopefully, people stay behind the line until they all get in formation. They salute, and that's sort of of a signal for the families here to break loose and run to the people that they haven't seen since July 20, and you can see a lot of people here cannot wait for that moment, Paula.

ZAHN: Tell us a little bit about what has happened to some of these families since the pilots were away onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. Lots of babies born, right?

DORNIN: Well, there have been some where there were the babies were born maybe five weeks old, and now almost a year and their fathers haven't seen them. It's tough, because many of these families thought that their loved ones were coming home in January. That's when the ship was scheduled to deploy back to the United States. They were told they're not going anywhere. They're going back to the Middle East, which is an -- and, of course, into a wartime situation. It's been very tough.

Let's go over here and talk to one family here. Kristin here -- her husband is the executive officer on -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 25. Two young children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here they come! It started!

DORNIN: We are now -- let's go ahead and turn around, and we can see the pilot, her husband there, just approaching the crowd here. It's been a very long for...


DORNIN: What has been the most difficult part of this deployment?


DORNIN: The war or?

BRASWELL: I can't -- I can't tell you. The hardest part is just thinking about -- I don't know. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing, sweetie? How are you doing?

My little womens. How do you do?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that, you're 5, aren't you? We're going to have to have you a birthday party, aren't we?

Come here, sweetheart. Give mom a hug. Group hug.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Long time no see.


DORNIN: This has been obviously a tougher deployment than a lot. You thought you were coming home in January, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I'm lucky because I only got there in November, so...

DORNIN: You're a short timer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a short timer. I was only gone for five months.

DORNIN: But still, I'm sure that was very discouraging, and then you guys flew 1,600 sorties off the deck of that carrier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. One at a time. That's right.

DORNIN: What was the toughest part of being away from these?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being away from my little womens and my wife. Mostly my wife, but it's good to be back home, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy, you've got a mustache!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do have a mustache, don't I? Where did I get that from? Here, hang on. Can you take a rose?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, take a rose. One of those is yours. One of those is yours, and one of those is mommy's. Mother. Come here, sweetie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my cousin. I swear it's my cousin.



BRASWELL: Oh, my goodness.

DORNIN: You didn't think this moment was going to arrive?

BRASWELL: You know it's coming, but it seems like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just takes a while.

BRASWELL: It takes forever.


You guys got heavier, did you know that?


BRASWELL: They did. They got a lot of things while he was gone.


DORNIN: They have got -- the Braswells have quite a few people here. An extended family. They've got cousins and John's mother came and Kristin's mother came, and they've got about 25 people, relatives here ready to greet them. This is just one of those moments that they've waited so long for -- Paula.

ZAHN: What a beautiful thing to see unfold on television. I almost felt as we were eavesdropping in on some of these very private conversations. We, too, could mark some of these children that we've just met for the first time, where that sweet little girl held up her little fist to her daddy, and says, I'm 5 now, I'm 5 now!

DORNIN: For so many families, it's like this, you know. They go away, and also they are in a middle of a very, very dangerous situation. These little kids, it was oftentimes as difficult, because, you know, the wives wanted to come home and watch what was going on and see what was on TV, but when you've got kids 5 and 6 years old, it's very difficult.

You don't want them to see those images. You don't want them to see that you are frightened. Christy (ph) said she tried to keep the kids away from the television, but it was very difficult for her because she wanted to see what was going to. So, like many, became addicted to watching that. So, Paula, it's been a very emotional, joyous moment here at Lemoore.

ZAHN: Can't think of anything purer to watch that a dad being introduced to his child for the first time while he was off in deployment. Rusty Dornin, thanks so much. We'll share more of the scenes later on this evening. A very joyous scene in Lemoore, California tonight, as a number of naval officers and other military personnel come home after a 10-month long deployment. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: The Dixie Chicks start the U.S. concert tour tonight. And while you can't ask for more free publicity than the group has been getting lately, it might not be the kind of publicity they necessarily wanted. David Mattingly is in Greenville, South Carolina, where the group is kicking off its tour. David, what's unfolding there tonight besides the promoted concert and another one that's going to happen not too far away?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, what you're looking at behind me is just part of the sell-out crowd that's filing into the arena here. There a re a little less than 15,000 people working their way into the arena. The opening act ready to kick off any time now.

This is the first time the Dixie Chicks have had to face their fans after that now infamous remark the lead singer made in London. She said she was ashamed the president is from Texas. The fans we talked to tonight, most of them, anyway, say they were disappointed with that, but they're ready now for the music to do the talking.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everybody has a right to their opinion. So even though they're in the spotlight, why shouldn't they?


MATTINGLY: All week now there's been concern about what kind of protests might show up here tonight. We are going to show you exactly what's going on. This grassy area was set aside for protesters, but only a handful has actually showed up, about 20 or 30 or so. A few people that are here, however, are still very upset about the Chicks and that less than respectful remark that was made.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe in supporting my troops, and that's the way I am. I'm not going to say what men are dying for is for nothing. Freedom is not nothing. That is something. I mean even veterans like himself, I mean they know what it's like to be on the combat field. The Dixie Chicks don't.


MATTINGLY: This night, however belongs to the Dixie Chicks and their fans. Everyone waiting to see what kind of reaction there is from the audience when the Dixie Chicks take an American stage for the first time since those remarks in London -- Paula. ZAHN: David Mattingly, thanks so much. And if you aren't even a country music fan, the Dixie Chicks story has certainly ignited a nationwide debate over entertainers getting political. Is this a matter of free speech or bad manners?

Joining me from Greenville is WORD a.m. program director, Peter Thiele. And in Washington tonight, Jonathan Turley, a professor of constitutional law at George Washington University and a lawyer who has handled high profile cases against the U.S. government, including one current case involving anti-war protests.

Welcome, gentlemen. Good to see both of you. Peter, I'm going to start with you tonight. Explain to us what you're trying to accomplish.

PETER THIELE, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, WORD-AM: Well, I'll tell you what we're doing is that right after the remarks by Natalie Maines, you know, taking umbrage with the president, we literally started talking about doing a protest. And people said, well, why do a protest? Why don't we do something that's better? Why don't we go and put together an alternative concert, and where we can go out and raise money for Feed the Children and help support the troops? And that's what we're doing tonight in the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in South Carolina.

ZAHN: Well, let me ask you, Peter, do you think you could have been just as successful doing it outside the designated concert? Don't you think many of the Dixie Chicks fans, in fact, support the U.S. troops?

THIELE: Well, I'll tell you what, we're going to be raising probably close to $100,000 tonight for a great charity, which is more positive than just walking around an arena carrying a placard saying "Dixie Chicks go home."

ZAHN: All right, Jonathan Turley, what do you make of that?

JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR: Well I think it's wonderful to raise money for a charity like that. And the problem that I have is not holding a concert or raising the money.

It's raising it on the premise that this is a demonstration act against the Dixie Chicks. That it is essentially tying itself to what has become, in my view, an over-the-top movement against the Dixie Chicks. And I think the problem with the tenor of the debate in this country is that we often seem forced to demonfy individuals in order to make points. And when you look at what's happening with the Dixie Chicks...

THIELE: I don't think that's what we're doing. I don't think that's what's going on.

TURLEY: Well I'm not necessarily accusing you, but what I'm saying is that, obviously, the attention that's being given to your concert is because of its connection to the Dixie Chicks. And this is part of...

THIELE: You are absolutely correct.

TURLEY: But this is part of an ongoing -- this is part of an ongoing debate in this country that I think is having some serious implications. And this is not talking about you...

THIELE: What do you mean the first amendment rights by -- the Dixie Chicks are the only ones that are supposed to be allowed? That the first amendment rights of people who say, you know what, I want to vote and I want to support musical acts that support our country. That's what's going on here, is that people are going out as a consumer and they're not buying Dixie Chicks albums anymore.

TURLEY: I think it's something more than that. That is, free speech can easily blend into censorship when you organize -- it has been organized by companies and individuals against the Dixie Chicks for merely expressing their viewpoint. No one debates that people exercise their free speech rights not to buy these records. But remember McCarthyism was enforced by private conduct. Studios prevented writers and actors...

THIELE: Oh come on. McCarthyism? Let me tell you what McCarthyism is.

TURLEY: If you'll let me finish, sir. Sir, can I just finish my point?

THIELE: Oh, go ahead.

ZAHN: Hang on, gentlemen. Let's let Jonathan finish his thought, and then, Peter, it will be your turn.

TURLEY: Thank you. The whole point about McCarthyism is that you had movie studios that prevented writers and actors from working because of their political beliefs. Now you've got record companies, radio companies that barred the playing of the Dixie Chicks. One recently lifted that prohibition. But that's a blacklist tactic.

THIELE: Well, I'm going to tell you right now -- is that I do not besmirch the Dixie Chicks for believing whatever they want. That's what the first amendment was. But you know the first amendment comes with repercussions. And you have to use your ability when you speak in public.

If you want to speak dissent, that's fantastic. Good, do it. That's what happens on talk radio all of the time. But guess what? Repercussions happen when you go over the top, and the Dixie Chicks went over the top.

ZAHN: Peter, let me ask you this. You aren't in any way suggesting that folks that are showing up for this concert and who like the Dixie Chicks -- you know forget this controversy for a moment -- are somehow un-American?

THIELE: No, heavens no. But I will say this, they may be shallow.

There are a lot of people getting together to hear great country music in Spartanburg this evening, where they're going out and supporting the troops. The Dixie Chicks, by the way, were given the opportunity to donate, to match what was going on to help Feed the Children and help support families of the troops, and the Dixie Chicks, right before a meeting that they accepted and called, cancelled out.

And you know what? That's just chicken.

ZAHN: Jonathan, you get the last word tonight.

TURLEY: Well, I think you exactly see the problem in this case. It's not enough to simply say that we are exercising our free speech just as they are. Free speech comes with a responsibility. And here you have an actor, -- I'm sorry, an artist who expressed her opinion about the president.

So what? I mean, that's part of the debate. In fact, it could be the highest form of patriotism to criticize the government.

Her mistake was personalizing her view of the war by attacking the president. That was stupid. But now the countermovement is personalizing the issue against the Dixie Chicks. To show your support for the troops, you have to marginalize the Dixie Chicks. Those are the same acts, and, in my view, they're the same thoughtless acts.

ZAHN: Well, we're going to have to leave it there this evening. Peter Thiele, Jonathan Turley. I should point out -- Peter did mention their sales were off, and certainly their record sales plummeted from 124,000 down to 33,000 after their comments. But now they are back topping the country music charts, number two on this week's Billboard list.

Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate both of your perspectives.

TURLEY: Thank you.

THIELE: Thank you.

ZAHN: Still to come, questions abound in Maine tonight, as one man is dead after coffee served at a church was laced with arsenic. We'll try to figure out whether that was intentional or what went on there. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Welcome back. Seventeen minutes before the hour. We're going to go now to a small town with a very big mystery.

In Maine, a deadly poisoning incident is now being investigated as a homicide. One person is dead, more than a dozen others got sick as well. Now police want to know how did arsenic get into the coffee served after church? Reporter Christine Young of our affiliate WMTW has this report.


CHRISTINE YOUNG, WMTW (voice-over): New Sweden, Maine: rolling hills, potato farms, and a lovely old church dating back to 1871, about the town was settled by Swedes. Their descendents still live in New Sweden, about 600 of them. And they all know and trust one another like family.

SARA ANDERSON, STORE OWNER: If you don't know one of the people that is sick in the hospital, you know their parents or their children or their brother or sister or grandparents. It's a community where, in one way or another, it affects everybody.

YOUNG: The idea that someone within this tight-knit community would deliberately poison their neighbors is unthinkable here.

ANDERSON: No one local, anyway, has even brought up the thought that they think this could be done intentionally. That is, by far, probably the furthest thing from anybody's mind at this point.

YOUNG: But somehow, after Sunday services, 13 members of the Gustav Adolf (ph) congregation took in so much arsenic that they had to be hospitalized. Walter Reid Moral (ph), a golf lover with recent heart problems, died 12 hours later. Two others remain in critical condition. The locals are spooked.

JUNE GREEN, NEW SWEDEN RESIDENT: You never know if they'll do that to -- in god's house, what would they do outside?

YOUNG: The town's wells and groundwater had been ruled out as possible sources of the toxin. But something in the church, police won't say what, tested positive for arsenic.

LT. DENNIS APPLETON, MAINE STATE POLICE: But we have not identified how the arsenic arrived in this building.

YOUNG: There are eight state police detectives, two supervisors, and a lieutenant trying to find that out. There are theories suggesting an accident.

ANDERSON: And many people use different chemicals to clean their sinks, their toilets, their coffee pots, anything at all because of such high contents of rust and other minerals in the water.

YOUNG: Police are also investigating the possibility of something much more sinister.

APPLETON: Hopefully if there is a conflict, we will find the person who is willing to step forward and tell us that if there happens to be one.

YOUNG: And while police haven't called this a crime, the church is looking an awful lot like a crime scene.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Once again, that was Christine Young of affiliate WMTW. An expert in environmental medicine says it takes an awful lot of arsenic to kill someone. And so far, police say there's no evidence the poisonings occurred accidentally through the use of cleaning supplies.

Still to come tonight, Kyra Phillips takes us inside an F-18 fighter jet. An eye in the cockpit, as LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES continues on this Thursday evening.


ZAHN: Welcome back. May Day in China this year could be remembered as the party where almost no one showed up. Millions stayed home because the government told them to stay home, as fear of the deadly illness SARS continues.

China is ground zero for SARS, with about 100 new cases diagnosed every day in Beijing alone. More than 150 people have already died from SARS. Tourism and sales are suffering, and unemployment is expected to rise.


PROF. ROBERT ROSS, BOSTON COLLEGE: Overall confidence in China's ability to manage the problems of reform, unemployment, healthcare, crime, corruption, inequality. I think confidence in China's government has now plummeted.


ZAHN: And now the story of a Maryland woman who recently got back from China. She is now in isolation because authorities think she may have SARS. Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen brings us her story. And in case you wonder why her face is blurred, the woman asked us not to identify her.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This mom feels fine now, but, boy, was she ever sick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I woke up Tuesday morning really feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. And by Tuesday afternoon, I noticed I felt hot and I took my temperature, and I was coughing at that point and it just -- the symptoms made me very nervous.

COHEN: And she was right to feel nervous. A cough, a fever, a recent trip to China all led up to a suspected case of SARS. Now this woman, who asked her name not be used, is not allowed to leave her home for 10 days. The Health Department's orders: except for her husband and daughter, no one's allowed in the house. That included us, so she and her husband shot all this video and we interviewed her by telephone.

Here's how it all happened. After being on the waiting list for two years for a baby, they went to China a few weeks ago to adopt Madeleine (ph). They were at home for about two weeks, when mom started to feel sick. She called her doctor, who said head right to the hospital, where the family was immediately isolated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And everyone that dealt with us was wearing a mask and gloves and a gown and goggles.

COHEN: Many hours and countless blood tests later, the hospital did let her go, but with strict orders. Go directly home and stay there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They really made it very clear us to that there would be no stops at the McDonald's drive-through window on the way home.

COHEN: Where might she have contracted SARS? She says the family did a few times venture into crowded areas in China, went to church, went to a department store to buy a pearl necklace to give to Madeleine (ph) when she grows up.


COHEN: Madeleine's (ph) mother doesn't even think she has SARS. She thinks it was just a run of the mill virus. Some people ordered into isolation don't end up having SARS when the test comes back weeks later. But she says she's glad health authorities took the safe route and isolated her, and that being sick for a few days and having to stay home has been a small price to pay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely was it worth it. I have a beautiful little girl.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


ZAHN: And in Lemoore, California, it is an evening of reunions and great joy, as hundreds of Navy personnel got to see their families for the first time after a very long deployment of some 10 months. They were actually supposed to come back home in January.

That did not happen. The wait turned even longer for some of these fathers who hadn't even seen their babies born since they've been away.

Let's check in with Kyra Phillips, who was not only there at reunion time, but on board the USS Abraham Lincoln when the president came on board this afternoon. Good evening, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Paula. That's right. I got to come out and visit the USS Abraham Lincoln before the war. I was embedded on the ship during the war, and then I got to fly off with the F-18 squadrons today to be here for the homecoming of the F- 18 squadrons in Lemoore, California.

We're going to show you some video of where it all started just a few hours ago. Launching off the Abraham Lincoln live. Once we were airborne, we connected with all the squadrons up on the air -- in the air.

One of those squadrons, VFA-113, the Stingers, you are probably seeing a shot in this video of a pilot waving to me. And that pilot is Dave Hickey, call sign (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and he happened to be right on -- he was my wing man in the formation coming back to Lemoore, California.

We're with his wife Jennifer and little Trevor (ph) here. The last time you saw Trevor (ph), he was two months old.

DAVE HICKEY: That's right. He was. He was just a little guy. I'll never forget it when I walked out the door.

He looks totally different. He's so cute.

JENNIFER HICKEY: You want to say hi? Say hi, daddy.

PHILLIPS: So what do you think? I mean do you look at him and think, wow, I can't believe I missed out on this?

D. HICKEY: I've been thinking that for a long time now. He's grown so much and you know I missed 10 months of his life. And you can't replace that time, but just serving our country and stuff, it was all worth it.

PHILLIPS: Jennifer, how did you hold it all together? You had a two-month-old baby, I mean 10 months.

J. HICKEY: I don't think I did hold it together today. I lost it just a little bit. But before that, you know, it's been a long journey. And we are just so excited that it's over.

PHILLIPS: And we saw you as Dave was pulling in, and you were just in tears. What was going through your mind?

J. HICKEY: I just couldn't believe it. It was finally coming to an end. It was so surreal and my emotions just totally took over. Probably mainly because of this little guy, too.

PHILLIPS: He's taking over the microphone. I'm going to let you guys get home. And Dave, thanks so much. It was so neat flying next to you up there in the air and seeing you and waving to me.

Thank you so much. It was an incredible experience.

All right. Dave Hickey -- Lieutenant Dave Hickey with VFA-113, the Stingers, his wife, Jennifer, their little son Trevor (ph). They're going to get out of here because he's ready to go to sleep, Paula.

ZAHN: And I bet you they're ready for a little privacy, as well. Kyra, before we let you go, we just saw the stunning pictures of that formation you flew in which I guess gave the president quite a show from on board the USS Abraham Lincoln. How far apart were the jets from each other in formation?

PHILLIPS: Oh, my gosh. I mean I could literally -- as I looked out of the cockpit, if -- I would say probably about five arms length each plane was. I mean, it was so close, and we hit a little rough weather as we were coming in, a little rain. And believe it or not, a little ice.

And you see the jets kind of -- the wing is just pretty much right up there in you, so it's amazing how steady they move and how close they are. And they held it that way for an hour and a half. It takes a lot of concentration.

There wasn't a lot of talk on the radio for a little while, but it was pretty amazing. It's beautiful when you see the wide shot, huh, Paula?

ZAHN: Oh, it is fantastic. And before we let you go, just describe to us the sensation of being catapulted off that carrier.

PHILLIPS: It's pretty incredible. It's like catching an elephant on your chest, Paula. That's the best way to describe it. And I was so glad I was able to bring the viewers what it's like to be inside a strike fighter and just sort of give you that feeling of that's what they did 24/7, seven days a week during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and also Operation Southern Watch. Ten months, Paula.

ZAHN: Ten months. Well, I'll tell you, I know you were also on the ground when we were talking with Rusty Dornin a little bit earlier this evening. It was extraordinary to watch these family reunions unfold. What joy.

PHILLIPS: It came full circle. It was amazing to be a part of it from the very beginning to the very end, because I know what they went through for 10 months. I know how much they missed their babies, their wives, their friends, their family. So you can't help but become attached to these folks and see what they did for our country and then finally see them reuniting with the people that they did it all for.

ZAHN: Well, Kyra Phillips, thanks for bringing that to us. You have to be really honest here. Did you ever need the airsickness bag during your flight?

PHILLIPS: I got very lucky. Seven and a half Gs and I didn't puke an ounce.

ZAHN: Seven and a half Gs? Oh, boy. I pulled 6 Gs in an Air Force jet, and it is not a pleasant sensation. Kyra Phillips, thanks so much.

PHILLIPS: And you know what, Paula? I remember that. I remember when you did that.

ZAHN: Yes. When they had that little (UNINTELLIGIBLE) camera on you, it looks like your eyes are coming out of your head. It's really -- the force on your body is really hard to describe. These pilots have great endurance, and it takes a great sense of physicality to fly these jets.

Well thank you, Kyra. We're going to see you a little bit later on tonight.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

ZAHN: Appreciate the bird's eye view of that flight that the president got to witness as well. That wraps up this hour of LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES. Be sure to stay with CNN for live coverage of the presidential address tonight live from the USS Abraham Lincoln. That will happen at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 6:00 out West.

The second hour of LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES begins right after this short break.



ANNOUNCER: Where are Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction?

What about the men who supposedly created them?

Tonight, Nic Robertson with an Iraqi scientist the coalition is looking for but unable to find.

What is the price of the war in Iraq?

How much will it take to rebuild the country?

And how will the costs impact your pocketbook?

The president is less than an hour away from calling an end to major combat in Iraq. Now what, where could the U.S. possibly set its sights next?

LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES with Paula Zahn in New York.


ZAHN: Good evening and welcome on this Thursday night. Appreciate you joining us.

At this hour, President Bush is on board the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of California, the setting of a significant speech declaring the major combat phase of the war over. The president made a dramatic arrival to say the least. He was in the copilot's seat of a Navy S3 Viking this afternoon. It is the first time a sitting president has bra arrived on the deck of an aircraft carrier by plane. Other president have arrived by helicopter. And in just about 30 minutes we'll have a look at the end of combat in Iraq, and a preview of the president's speech. Right now I'm joined by several colleagues including senior White House correspondent John King from the White House. Before we check in with John, let's go straight to the USS Abraham Lincoln where national correspondent Frank Buckley is standing by.

Good evening, Frank.

BUCKLEY: Good evening, Paula. President Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. Right now we're told he is prepping for his speech, his address to the nation that will come this evening in prime time. Right now here off the USS Abraham Lincoln, you can see in the waters here of the pacific ocean the USS Howard, one of the guided missile destroyers providing support and escort for the Lincoln as the president is aboard and preparing his speech. The president made history today, it was an historic day on a couple of fronts. It will be history tonight when he makes his speech declaring the end to major combat operations in Iraq.

And he made history by flying onto the carrier in the tactical aircraft that you talked about. That's the S3 Viking. It was piloted by Skip Lussier, the XO, that the executive officer of VS-35. VS-35, the squadron of S3 attached to the USS Abraham Lincoln." The S3's are primarily used for mid-air refueling of other strike aircraft, just flying off the aircraft carrier or returning to the carrier. Also the S3 used for anti-submarine operations. After the president landed he immediately got out of the aircraft, still wearing his flight suit. And worked the crowd for quite some time. A very upbeat group of sailors and Marines, meeting the president. The president spending quite a bit of time taking photographs and talking to the young men and women on the flight deck here who were quite excited to see the president. They are also very excited as you can imagine to go home very soon. Tomorrow they will be arriving in San Diego. The air wing will get off there. Major reunions planned on the pier. Then the USS Abraham Lincoln on Saturday morning will steam out again along the West Coast and return to its home base in Everett, Washington after a nearly 10 month long deployment -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, Frank, walk us through what we can expect tonight from now until the time the president speaks on board this carrier.

BUCKLEY: Right now, the president is behind closed doors. He's prepping. During the day he spent some time touring different spaces of the ship. We're told that he had lunch with some of the young sailors. And then after the speech, that will be it. It will be behind closed doors for the rest of the day. Tomorrow morning -- he'll over night on the ship, another historic moment. Presidents haven't done that aboard U.S. Navy warships in several decades. And tomorrow morning the president will leave from the aircraft carrier not on a tactical aircraft, not on a jet. He will not be taking a cat, a catapult shot. Tomorrow morning he'll be leaving by helicopter -- Paula.

ZAHN: Frank, thanks so much. Please stand by, because we will come back to you a couple of times before the speech gets under way.

Once again that speech will happen at 9 p.m. Eastern time tonight. CNN will carry it live.

The White house Though has just released excerpts from the speech and I'd like to read you a short one now. The president will say, "We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We are hoping or helping to rebuild Iraq where the dictator built palaces for himself instead of hospitals and schools for the people." Once again, the speech gets under way in a little less than 50 minutes from now and our team here at CNN will be bringing it to you live.

We're going to go back in time before the war in Iraq began. One of the main reasons the U.S. and Britain gave for invading was that Saddam Hussein's regime was developing weapons of mass destruction. Well, that regime is now gone. And U.S. officials say it's only a matter of time before evidence of illegal weapons is found. As we heard in that excerpt from the president. But in the weeks that have passed since the fall of Baghdad U.S. forces have yet to find the smoking gun.


Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson reports.

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When U.N. inspectors, acting on British intelligence, raided the home of Iraqi nuclear scientist Dr. Fallah Hassan (ph) in January, they discovered missing nuclear research documents. For the first time, the new U.N. inspection regime had unearthed something unexpected. Triggering suspicions Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction or WMD secrets, were finally on the verge of being exposed. Iraqi authorities held a news conference for Fallah. He gave the impression he was fighting for his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Dr. Fallah Hassan whose home was inspected yesterday by the...

ROBERTSON: Now, free from the pressure, he admits he felt from Iraqi authorities, he says he was telling the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said in my press conference, and I am saying now and they can make sure (UNINTELLIGIBLE), this belonged to nuclear (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This was academic work. And the UNMOVIC or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) didn't ask for such reports. It was personal document. I didn't hide anything. And I didn't hide any work. We were very clear. We were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in our declaration.

ROBERTSON: Fallah is not the only Iraqi WMD scientist to say he didn't lie to U.N. inspectors. Saddam Hussein's scientific adviser stuck to his original story that Iraq had no WMD programs when he handed himself in to U.S. officials recently. We tracked down Dr. Nassir Hindawi, the U.S.trained former head of Iraq biowarfare program, who said in the past he was lied until his cover was blown in the mid 1990s. Since then, he says he's been telling the truth. DR. NASSIR HINDAWI, FMR. HEAD IRAQ BIO PROG.: For biological weapons, I don't think there is a need to even think about it. Because as I said, the toxins is degenerating. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and anthrax spore went nonviable by now because of the long storage.

ROBERTSON: What stops him from turning himself in to the U.S. troops who look for him, he says is fear of retribution against him and his family, from Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party.

HINDAWI: In every street there are members of the Ba'ath Socialist Party that are probably hoping and dreaming of getting power again. They have weapons and the arms. So nobody knows how the country is going to turn to be in the future.

ROBERTSON: According to U.N. inspectors, Iraq had several thousand scientists and engineers like Hindali who were involved in Iraq's WMD programs.

What's happening with them is raising concerns about post-war efforts to control what may be left of Iraq's weapons programs.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, FMR. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Any weapons of mass destruction or the equipment to make them is unprotected. And given the looting, you have to assume that some of it's been taken away.

The scientists have to worry about their future. And they may opt to leave Iraq, looking for a better future. There may be some scientists who have a deep grudge against the United States. Who knows -- that are going to try to find some way to get revenge.

ROBERTSON: But it's not just the slow pace of picking up the scientists that bothers Albright.

ALBRIGHT: If no weapons of mass destruction are found, then the fundamental justification for this war is not there. And there's going to have to be some real answers, why we went to war, and how did the United States make such a huge mistake about the weapons of mass destruction programs in Iraq.


ZAHN: Once again, hat was Nic Robertson, our chief international correspondent reporting for us tonight.

When we come back, was from a breakdown in intelligence gathering in Iraq? Washington said it had evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But so far, as Nic explained, nothing's been found.

Part two of Nic's special look straight out of the break.


ZAHN: And we're back now with our time line of today's events in Turkey, where an earthquake overnight trapped scores of students and teachers in a collapsed school dormitory. At least 87 people are confirmed dead, dozens still missing. Kevin Dunn has the details.


KEVIN DUNN, ITV NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost 200 schoolchildren were sleeping in their dormitory when the earthquake crushed the building. Hundreds of volunteers joined the emergency services in the rescue efforts, as distraught parents and relatives watched and waited,. some physically collapsing in grief.

Sometimes, sadly, they recovered only corpses. But amid the anguish, there were moments of relief and even of joy.

Here, a waving hand signals to rescuers that a child is alive. One by one, gently and tenderly, they were pulled from the debris of the dormitory, carried away for treatment.

A stone fell on my head when I was sleeping, this boy said. The bunk bed shook. Two of my friends were killed.

This boy said he fell out of bed and his teacher was shouting, asking what had happened. I told him my hands were bleeding.

The school dormitory was one of a dozen buildings flattened in the town of Bingal when the earthquake struck in the middle of the night.

The children, from small outlying villages, were housed in the annex in order to attend the school because it was the nearest to their homes.

Kevin Dunn, ITV News.


ZAHN: And once again, the rescue efforts continue. There is hope that more children will be found alive under the tons of rubble you just saw there.

Meanwhile in Iraq, major combat operations may be coming to a close, but at 6 a.m. Eastern Time, a reminder that the country remains a danger zone. U.S. military officials say former Ba'ath Party members are using demonstrations like this one, as cover for an attack on U.S. forces.

In Fallujah, where this protest took place, CENTCOM says a group of Iraqis tossed grenades at a U.S. military compound, wounding seven soldiers. All of them are said to be in stable condition. CENTCOM says it is unclear how many were hurt when U.S. forces fired back at their attackers.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, around 9 a.m. Eastern Time, came word that the Bush administration's newly unveiled road map to peace hit a bump. That's when Israeli troops attacked and destroyed a Gaza home, killing a key Hamas leader, his two brothers, and at least 10 other Palestinians including two children. Witnesses say the Israelis surrounded the house, had spent hours trying to coerce Hamas members to come out. Nonetheless, today's bloodshed brought condemnation from a top Palestinian leader who said the Israelis should have responded to the roadmap with -- quote -- "words and not bullets."

About an hour later, there was some bloodshed in Iraq, but not because of any conflict. A gas station in central Baghdad was engulfed in flames, the scene of an explosion. At least four people were killed, a dozen others were badly burned. People who were near the gas station when it happened say local residents had -- or actually, had heard some gunshots being fired into the air to celebrate the return of electricity. They say the bullets mistakenly triggered the explosion.

Our timeline now takes us to Houston where several former Enron executives have a big problem tonight. New indictments were announced at 11 a.m. Eastern, charges that prompted the wife of the former chief financial officer and several others to be led away in handcuffs.

Jan Hopkins has the details.


JAN HOPKINS, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Andrew Fastow came to the federal building in Houston to drop off his wife, Lea, a former assistant treasurer at Enron. She was charged in connection with the scheme the government says produced profits for them from Enron's windfarms.

Former Enron corporate treasurer Ben Glisan and former finance executive Dan Boyle were charged with insider trading, falsification of Enron's accounting lords, tax fraud, and self dealing. They allegedly worked with Fastow to make the company appear more successful than it was.

LARRY THOMPSON, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today's indictments are a significant milestone in our determined efforts to expose and punish the vast array of criminal conduct related to the collapse of Enron Corporation.

HOPKINS: The grand jury also returned a 218-count superseding indictment expanding charges in Enron's Internet division.

The top guys at Enron, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, have not been indicted yet, but the investigation isn't over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Enron task force is continuing to sift diligently through the rubble that was Enron piece by piece, scheme by scheme, and lie by lie.

Jan Hopkins, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: We're going to take a short break now.

When we come back, the White House says Iraq will be a full- fledged democracy by the time all is said and done. But what kind of democracy? the answer is not so easy. Coming up, we're going to take a look at Iraq's future.

Please stay with us.


ZAHN: Back on a beautiful Thursday night here in New York City.

Less than an hour ago, a very happy homecoming for several fighter pilots whose long-awaited arrival was shown live right here. About a thousand people turned out to Lamore Naval Air Station today where several aviators returned home from the Iraq war. Their 10- month-old deployment with the USS Abraham Lincoln ended today. Thirty-five planes flew over the base in formation before landing just over an hour ago.

And a little bit earlier on, we told you how U.S. forces and U.N. inspectors before them have yet to find hard evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Well what about the intelligence on which U.S. and British officials were relying? Was there a breakdown?

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has more.


ROBERTSON: In October last year, as the United States put pressure on the world and Iraq to accept an aggressive U.N. weapons inspection program, President Bush delivered a speech in Cincinnati. He used a satellite picture of this site to show what he said was the rebuilding of a past nuclear weapons facility. An indication, he said, that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.

(voice-over): At the time, Iraqi officials rushed hundreds of journalists to Al-Farat (ph) to show that they had nothing to hide.


ROBERTSON: It was the same when inspectors visited on their third day of work in Iraq. Journalists were allowed back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have anything as far as this site is concerned. We don't have anything to hide.

ROBERTSON: Inspectors came back several more times to the suspect Al-Farat nuclear site.

(on camera): But now, following widespread looting, literal door frames have been taken, the little that is left here does seem to support Iraqi government claims that this site was nothing more than a radio frequency testing and repair facility.

(voice-over): Just 12 days before the war, U.N. nuclear weapons chief Mohammed ElBaradei delivered his verdict on claims Iraq had an ongoing nuclear weapons program. (on camera): Al-Farat wasn't the only site where the U.S. and British governments alleged Iraq was reconstituting its weapons of mass destruction programs. This site, the Al-Doura Foot and Mouth Disease Institute (ph) was another. Once a key hub in Iraq's biological warfare program, its equipment had been destroyed by U.N. inspectors in 1996.

But so seriously did the returning inspection teams take allegations about this site, that they visited it on their second day after returning to work in Iraq.

(voice-over): They found two mixers missing but quickly tracked them down. Iraqi officials denied WMD work had been restarted there.

Today, plant director Montassar El-Ani (ph) is happy to show journalists how the site was disabled by U.N. inspectors in back 1996 but still claims he was not aware of a weapons program.

(on camera): Before 1994, what about biological warfare program before you came here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not responsible for that. I am here from '94.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Despite further visits by inspectors to this and other sites flagged by the U.S. and British, the U.N. failed to substantiate any restarted WMD programs.

Privately, inspectors told reporters they were frustrated by the bad intelligence information the U.S. government provided. The U.N. weapons chief, Hans Blix, hinted as much to the U.N. Security Council.

Since Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed, more has been learned about intelligence gathering in Iraq.

Mohammad Mossen Zubaidai, the self-appointed mayor of Baghdad, now in U.S. custody after Iraqis accused him of receiving funds from looted Baghdad banks, has been revealed by the Iraqi National Congress, which itself has close ties with the Pentagon to have been one of the INC's top intelligence gathering officials in Iraq.

ALBRIGHT: The problem isn't that he's -- that the INC was dishonest per se. What it is, they were willing to believe anything bad about Saddam Hussein that could help their cause of regime change. And I think the Pentagon people, particularly the hard liners, suspended their analytical judgments in order to adopt some of these points of view and information.

RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We're finding now that the capabilities were even more dispersed and disguised than we had thought. The evidence of Saddam Hussein's programs is likely to be spread across many hundreds, and even possibly thousands, of sites in Iraq. It is going to take us months to find this material. But find it we will.

ROBERTSON: Hampering those efforts are many false positives or contradictory results from the U.S. military's various WMD teams.

A recent case: Baiji, north of Baghdad. The first of the 10th Cavalry detected nerve and blister agent in these 55 gallon drums. Another team got the same test results. Yet a third, more senior team, could not substantiate the earlier results.

The failure to find WMD so far raises bigger concerns for former inspector David Albright.

ALBRIGHT: One of the questions about whether the U.S. government or officials lied is if the U.S. believed its own story, there were so many weapons of mass destruction, you would expect them to be completely panicked right now because they are not protected. And they could go easily missing and get into the hands of terrorists.

And yet they're not panicked. So you do have to start to wonder whether the main -- the people who believe these stories really were the American people, and not the U.S. government.

ARMITAGE: I want to be clear here today that I'm extraordinarily confident that Iraq had those capabilities.

ROBERTSON: The question is: will the U.S. and Britain be able to prove it and bolster their international credibility? Or were the Iraqis telling the truth and did the United States and Britain perhaps fall victim to overly enthusiastic intelligence operatives on the ground?

Nic Robertson, CNN, Baghdad.


ZAHN: So a chapter closes in the U.S.: war in Iraq and the war on terrorism. What's next for the country. What's next for president bush? We're going to look ahead as the president prepares to do so when we come back.


ZAHN: Welcome back.

We're less than 30 minutes away from President Bush's address to the nation. He will declare that the major combat part of the war in Iraq is over. He is not declaring victory tonight, not in Iraq, not in the war on terrorism. The president will be speaking from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the Pacific Coast, not far off the coast of California.

At this hour, senior White House correspondent John King has a preview of what the president is going to say.

Good evening, John.

KING: Good evening to you, Paula.

When we see the president stride across the deck of the Abraham Lincoln about 30 minutes from now, he'll walk past two Navy fighter jets and past a banner that says, "Mission accomplished." Now, that might raise eyebrows, especially in light of that excellent work by Nic Robertson just a moment ago. Many will question, how can you say mission accomplished when the United States has yet to find any evidence of weapons of mass destruction, the reason Mr. Bush launched this war to begin with?

That is one of the reasons the president will be so careful in this speech. He will say, major combat operations in Iraq are over. And he will salute the troops, including those aboard the carrier the Abraham Lincoln, for their work in the war effort. But he will also say there are still dangerous days ahead and that U.S. troops have to stay to help provide security inside Iraq and to help it build a democracy, even as there is a major reconstruction effort.

But the president will say that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction is ongoing and the administration voices confidence they ultimately will be found. The president also, though, will characterize this as a major success in the broader war against global terrorism.

Here's one excerpt released by the White House today. The president will say in this speech -- quote -- "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al Qaeda and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because that regime is no more."

In the hours leading up to the speech, powerful pictures coming off the carrier deck, Mr. Bush becoming the first sitting president to land on a carrier the hard way, aboard a Navy jet here, Mr. Bush in the co-pilot's seat. He even flew the plane for a little while. He hasn't flown a plane since his days in the Air National Guard. Mr. Bush said he enjoyed the experience quite well. There was a flyover of Navy jets over the carrier, all of this designed as a show of force by the White House.

One of the messages the president is seeking to give the American people and, more broadly, the world tonight is that, twice now, in Afghanistan and Iraq, he's used military force in what he will call an ongoing global war against terrorism. The unspoken message, Paula, will be that he's not afraid to use force again if he deems it necessary -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, John. If you don't mind standing by, we're going to come back to you in a couple minutes. We're going to move on right now, though.

Anything a U.S. president does has political significance attached to it. And it's impossible to look at today's pictures from the USS Abraham Lincoln and not think ahead to the 2004 election, and, even before that, to the coming fights with Congress over money for the war, Iraq's reconstruction, and reviving the U.S. economy.

Joining me here tonight in New York: senior analyst Jeff Greenfield, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer. Good to see you both of you.


ZAHN: So, Jeff, if you've either announced you're running for president as a Democrat or thinking about announcing, how do you counteract those pictures today?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, you look at that and you realize what the great advantage of the incumbency is, in general is, you get to command the world stage. And, in this case, you get to command it in a very dramatic way.

I was scratching my head earlier trying to think of the last time a politician's flight in an airplane had such potency. And you got to go back to 1932, when Franklin Roosevelt flew to Chicago to become the first candidate to accept his party's nomination. And that was a symbol of his future. In this case, the symbol of President Bush as the commander in chief could not have been nailed down any more dramatically than these pictures today. And of course they're fraught with political significance. As you say, they always are. And, in this case, I think it was quite intentional.

ZAHN: So we certainly see the power of the incumbency in these pictures. Talk to us a little bit about the currency you think the president now has because of his administration's success in toppling Saddam Hussein.

GREENFIELD: I think there are two things you have to separate here. One is this -- and we journalists just run to political cliches like moths to a flame -- well, now that he has political capital, he can get his economic program through. There's no evidence of that.

In the middle of the Iraq war, it was a couple of Republican senators who cut that tax cut in half. Two of his more controversial nominations to the bench are being successfully filibustered. So you can't make that translation. But what I think is true -- and this is the other cliche that we just drive people nuts about -- is, we have to remember what happened to the president's father.

But the president's father failed at reelection at a time when foreign policy was off the table. Because of September 11 and because of our continuing presence in the region, this isn't like the first Gulf War, where the boys come home and then everybody says: That's it. Game over. What about the economy?

The national security overhang, I think, is very likely to last right through the next election, as it did in the midterms.

ZAHN: And, of course, the enormous cost of building Iraq is very much on the minds of Americans.

Run through the numbers for us tonight, Andy, on what this war effort has cost so far and what it might continue to cost the American taxpayer down the road.

SERWER: Well, it sounds like a lot of money, Paula. And I guess it is. But relative to the size of our GDP, it really isn't so much.

If you go back to April 16, when the end of the heavy combat phase of the war occurred, the Pentagon disclosed that we spent about $20 billion on the war. Then it disclosed that it would probably cost about $3 billion or $4 billion a month after that to continue the presence.

So here's the breakdown. We spent about half of that $20 billion on operations, $6 billion on personnel, and the rest on ammunition, bombs, guns and that sort of thing. So, if you go forward, though, and say $4 billion a month for the seven remaining months of the year, that gets you to about $50 billion for the year for this war. Now, that is compared to the $60 billion the president requested and received in emergency funding. That compares to the $100 billion that Larry Lindsey estimated the war would cost. That compares to $394 billion, which is the Pentagon's budget.

So it's not that much. And, of course, our GDP is $10 trillion. So $50 billion is one half of 1 percent of our GDP. It really has not impacted our economy and probably won't if things continue on this course.

ZAHN: What you're saying may be true.

But, Jeff, you know the level of concern out there -- and we've heard these taxpayers on the air -- about the looming -- how this adds to the looming deficit.

GREENFIELD: Well, the looming deficit took another hit this week when we learned that tax collections are running an estimated -- this, I guess, is Andy's turf -- $40 billion on an annual basis less than they thought.

But the other part about this is that, here you have an administration that knows it has to stay in Iraq. Whatever the notion of getting out, that's not going to happen, because, as has been said before, we broke it, we own it. But you do have this political notion. This is still a country that tends to look inward. And when people hear $50 billion, they don't hear a fraction of a $10 trillion gross domestic product.

What they hear is, what would we do with that money here?

ZAHN: Sure.

GREENFIELD: If we can reconstruct Iraq -- you can begin to hear the politicians say this already -- well, how come we can't reconstruct Cleveland, Hough, or the South Side of Chicago? Or how come we can't have a prescription drug benefit?

So it does loom less as an economic reality, I think -- because I think Andy's numbers are right. During Vietnam, we were spending $30 billion a year. And that was the equivalent today of about $300 billion. But the political impact of staying in Iraq is going to force the administration to walk a very fine line, I think.

ZAHN: So factor in all these concerns as to what kind of economy you're looking at during election time 2004.

SERWER: Well, it's very interesting. The economy right now can be described, I think, overall as sluggish. The unemployment rate is 5.6 percent, 5.8 percent. The GDP is growing about 1.5 percent. That's not so hot.

They say there are four things that a politician has to worry about in terms of the economy: mortgage rates, the price of gasoline, which has been declining, the Dow Jones industrial average, and, most importantly, the jobless rate. Right now, things are OK. I go back to Jeff's point. I think September 11 was such a powerful, powerful event that that supersedes the economy. And if the economy stays the way it is or in fact improves, I don't think it's enough baggage for the president to really derail him.

ZAHN: Final thought on that?

GREENFIELD: Of all those four things, I still think, if you get to the jobless number, jobs and inflation, a sluggish Dow, sluggish economic growth, an incumbent can handle that. If people feel in danger of either being thrown out of their work or if their dollar isn't worth what it used to be, ask Jimmy Carter, ask the first President Bush; that's when you have real problems.

ZAHN: Yes, they certainly both learned that lesson. Thank you, gentlemen. See you in a little bit.

We're going to take a short break here.

You've heard us saying that the president will not declare victory tonight. Stay with us and find out why the exact words the president will use are so very important.

We're also going to take you back to Baghdad. All eyes were on the president when he spoke six weeks ago. After all they've been through, find out what Iraqis are thinking now.


ZAHN: Earlier, we looked to the past and the hunt for illegal weapons in Iraq. Now let's look ahead.

The White House has said that the future of Iraq lies along a democratic path. That said, the U.S. wants to ensure such a democracy takes root.

National security correspondent David Ensor reports.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The days of repression from any source are over. Iraq will be democratic.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It sounds good, but experts warn, democracy is anything but predictable. KENNETH POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: Rushing to democracy and rushing to early elections might be the worst way to ensure that Iraq has a stable democratic government over the long term.

ENSOR: In post-Saddam Iraq, with its 60 percent Shia Muslim population, if an election for president were held tomorrow, experts say, the likely winner would be a Shiite clergyman, someone like the Ayatollah Hakim, who has just returned from exile in Iran.

POLLACK: Right now, there is so little political organization inside of Iraq, that someone like a mullah with a following of several thousands or even tens of thousands of people will have such an enormous advantage over other democratic candidates that, by that sheer fact alone, they might be able to be elected to office.

ENSOR: A clerical regime like the one in next-door Iran is exactly what Washington does not want to see.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This much is certain: A vocal minority clamoring to transform Iraq in Iran's image will not be permitted to do so.

RET. LT. GEN. JAY GARNER, U.S. ARMY: Their future will be filled with peace and prosperity.

ENSOR: As retired General Jay Garner, the American coordinator, draws together Iraqi notables to plan the future, analysts warn against holding elections soon. Putting Iraq on the right stable, ultimately democratic path will require patience, they say, and many years.

Take intelligence. It's a dangerous neighborhood. Iraq will need a strong intelligence agency purged of the likes of Farouk Hijazi, once operations chief in Saddam's brutal Mukhabarat. Former senior CIA official Jack Devine says the U.S. needs to train an entirely new group of spies to respect human rights.

JACK DEVINE, PRESIDENT, THE ARKIN GROUP: We cannot use the same techniques or draw on the same people that were used during Saddam Hussein. It would be a cancerous thing, which would make it -- rather than a source of strength for the new government, it would go a long way to undermining it if it became an instrument of fear.


ENSOR: Setting up a new Iraqi intelligence service will take time, but it cannot wait, because the new government faces challenges from Iran, from al Qaeda and other terrorists, from some Iraqis who would like to split up the country along ethnic or religious lines -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, David Ensor.

When the president gives his speech tonight from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, he will announce an end to the major fighting of the war in Iraq. He will not, however, announce an end to the war itself. There are some important reasons for that.


ZAHN (voice-over): Saddam Hussein has been toppled, the Iraqi military crushed, and the country is now controlled by U.S. troops. Yet, for the U.S. administration, the war is not over. Only major combat is.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's been told major combat operations have ended.

ZAHN: The end of war, the end of combat? Though the difference in language is critical. If the U.S. were to call it the end of the war, it would legally be obliged to abide by strict post-war provisions of international law, like the Geneva Conventions, which require the release and repatriation of prisoners of war unless they are held for prosecution and which forbid the killing of enemy commanders, which is only allowed during armed combat.

An end-of-war declaration, experts say, would prevent the U.S. from targeting Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders in the Pentagon's now famous deck of cards.

RET. LT. GEN. PAUL FUNK, U.S. ARMY: We need to be sure that we have complete freedom to act, in the event there are dissident elements, Saddam Hussein's regime, or even elements from outside the country of Iraq that may try to come in and influence the action.

ZAHN: Major conflicts in U.S. history have ended in a formal declaration, usually a peace treaty, like World War I in Versailles or World War II near Berlin.

But the world operates differently these days. In 1991, former President Bush only announced a cease-fire and the Iraqi regime agreed to most of the United Nations demands. And only today, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared the end of combat in Afghanistan.

RUMSFELD: We're at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction.

ZAHN: In modern times, wars aren't usually formally ended anymore, the same way they aren't formally declared.


ZAHN: So, if the major fighting is over, what does that mean for the Pentagon and U.S. troops in Iraq?

We're joined now by senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

Good evening, Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Paula. ZAHN: I wanted to start out by asking you some questions about numbers of troops. Our understanding is, there are some 100,000 troops in Iraq. Once the president speaks tonight and ends or announces an end to combat operations, how might those numbers change?

MCINTYRE: Well, not by very much.

There's actually more like about 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now. And pentagon officials admit that, in a best-case scenario, they wouldn't get the troops out of Iraq for at least two years, probably more. But that would assume that everything went right. The way it's going now, it looks like the U.S. is going to have a substantial number of troops, in excess of 100,000, for some number of years to come. It could be as long as five years.

And, of course, the U.S. could be there for a much longer time than that. So, at this point, there's no prospect that there's going to be a significant reduction of the number of troops, U.S. troops, in Iraq any time soon.

ZAHN: And what kind of help could the U.S. troops count on? Will there be other countries adding to their troop strength?

MCINTYRE: Well, the U.S. was hoping so. In fact, you may remember that the Army chief got in some trouble for suggesting there might be -- might need 200,000 or 300,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. That was dismissed by the Pentagon, partly because the Pentagon was assuming they'd be able to get other countries to contribute forces. And they're still hoping for that. But, at this point, they haven't got anybody else to sign up to send troops in.

ZAHN: Let's move on to Afghanistan. We heard Secretary Rumsfeld make a similar announcement to what we're going to hear the president announce tonight in Iraq in Afghanistan, declaring that the combat is over there, some 9,000 U.S. troops currently on duty there. What's going to happen to all those troops?

MCINTYRE: Yes, again, Rumsfeld made that statement today in Kabul, and, again, not much change.

The U.S., ironically, has more troops in Afghanistan now than it had at the height of the war. It had about 7,000 at the height of the war in Afghanistan. Now it's got between 9,000 and 10,000, depending on troops that go in and out. And there's no prospect that they'll be leaving any time soon. It's been a year and a half since the war there and they've still got things they need to do, even though the country is fairly stable at this point.

They're still hunting for al Qaeda and Taliban remnants. And that's just an example that kind of underscores the situation in Iraq. If they haven't been able to get out of Afghanistan in two years, it doesn't look very likely they would be able to do it in Iraq.

ZAHN: Jamie McIntyre, thanks so much.

The countdown to the president's speech is on. We're just about 10 minutes away or so. We'll be covering that live.

Coming up, Nic Robertson will join from us Baghdad.

Please stay with us.


ZAHN: You're looking at a live picture of the USS Abraham Lincoln as it slowly moves towards the California coast. We're being told the carrier is just about 100 miles off the coast of California. The president will speak to some 5,500 military personnel on board the carrier, although we're told only 2,000 of them will be able to listen intently. The other 3,500 on board will be doing a lot of work. We will be covering the president's speech live.

The major combat phase of the war may be over, but what does that mean for U.S. troops in what they might face in the weeks and months to come? Well, this week's incidents in Fallujah are proof of what some of the U.S. troops might be up against.

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson joins us now again from Baghdad.

Nic, again, good evening.

Describe to us some of what you think will be the biggest hurdles for U.S. troops to clear.

ROBERTSON: Probably one of the biggest is going to be making that transition from being a fighting force to being a peacekeeping force, a police force, if you will, on the streets of the country, making the transition from moving around in heavy armor tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, to moving around in Humvees and getting used to dealing with people, getting used to having people, Iraqis, angry, in their face, even spit at them, because they're angry, and, at the same time, absorb it and deal with it and let the situation just slowly calm itself down, as many people here really hope it will.

I certainly talk to a lot of Iraqis, and they say they don't approve of this abuse of the U.S. troops here and they hope it will calm down, too -- Paula.

ZAHN: So how strong do you think the pockets of resistance are that still remain in and around Baghdad?

ROBERTSON: They're still there. They're isolated pockets.

There was a situation today in Baghdad where a group of U.S. soldiers came under fire from nobody knows quite whom at the moment. But one thing Iraqis fear is the Baath Party, Saddam's former ruling Baath Party, regrouping itself. We hear of slogans painted on walls. These scientists tell us that they see slogans in their neighborhoods saying: We're watching you. Don't talk to the Americans.

There's clear evidence that some members of the Baath Party are out there. And the future is, do these groups organize themselves? And do they organize themselves into being a combined resistance against U.S. forces? And does there become interfactional fighting here? And will that impact on the U.S. forces? At the moment, it's sporadic outbreaks. It's not a big organized situation.

But there's nothing at this time to stop it developing into that. And that's going to be one of the very interesting dynamics we see play out in the coming months.

ZAHN: Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

We go straight to the White House now, where John King has been on standby now most of the day. He's going to give us a preview of some of what the president might have to say as that speech gets under way from on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in just about four minutes or so.

Good evening again, John.

KING: Good evening again, Paula.

In part -- and that picture you showed just a few moments ago demonstrates it -- in part, this is a pep rally, the president, the commander in chief, saying thank you to thousands of the troops who he will say were part of an unprecedented military campaign inside Iraq. The president will thank them, as they get ever closer to being reunified with their families. They've been at sea for some 10 months, this group aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

So, in part, this is a pep rally for the president. But, in part, he will use this speech to deliver a message to the world. Mr. Bush will say, the roots of the war in Iraq are not the last Persian Gulf War, that, in his mind, they are the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11 and that the global war on terrorism continues. So even as he says, just moments from now, that major combat operations in Iraq are over, the president will say that the major global war on terrorism continues.

He will restate the principles tonight. And the White House chose this stage, the deck of an aircraft carrier, one of the ways the United States projects military force around the world, to send an unmistakable message: that this president, who, as a candidate, promised a humble foreign policy, in the wake of September 11, will use force if necessary to impose his foreign policy overseas.

ZAHN: And, John, coming back to the war in Iraq, what is the president likely to say about the kind of commitment we're talking about here to Iraq to rebuild it?

KING: Don't look for the president to say anything about how long it will take or how much it will cost.

What he will say is that the coalition must stay, because reconstructing Iraq and getting it on the road to democracy is so important. He will say that the coalition -- and, of course, that is overwhelmingly U.S. troops -- will stay until the job is done and no longer. As Jamie McIntyre just noted, most at the White House think that is two years, perhaps even longer than that.

How much will it cost? The White House, in its budget estimate that it already sent up to Capitol Hill, guesses about $2 billion a month. There's a dispute about whether it might be quite higher than that. The president is saying here, major combat is over, the United States has won the war, but it will take some time, Paula, to win the peace.

ZAHN: I know you said that there -- in a previous live shot -- that there is some criticism coming, that this is just one big photo opportunity. And I'm just curious what kind of specific Democratic reaction you have seen to this, when Jeff Greenfield describes this as the enormous power of the incumbency of the president.

KING: Many of the Democrats who are running for president who supported the war have already issued statements saying they join the president in praising the troops. But Dick Gephardt, for example, Democrat of Missouri, in his statement also said, the president can't do two things at once. Yes, he won the war in Iraq. But, in Congressman Gephardt's view, he is losing the war to get the economy back on track here at home.

The president will walk by a banner, we are told, that says, "Mission accomplished." That I find most noteworthy, as we look to the political debate tomorrow and in the weeks to come. Some will seize on that sign and say: If the mission is accomplished, where is Saddam Hussein? Where are the weapons of mass destruction?

ZAHN: And, finally tonight, talk about the twin audiences that the president is trying to reach. You talked a little bit about what he's trying to convey with the power of this military symbolism.

KING: He needs to convince the American person, as they see these powerful pictures, these sailors coming home, hugging their wives, seeing their parents, seeing their children, including on this ship alone, I believe some 100 children who were born while these men and women were out at sea -- the president needs to convince the American people: Yes, some are coming home, but some must stay. It's a critical mission. They have to stay in Iraq.

And the president wants to convince the world that he means it when he says it, that, if you harbor a terrorist, if you support a terrorist group, if you are against the United States, as he will put it, that he's not afraid to do this again.

ZAHN: John King, thanks so much. We're going to leave it there with you.

Thank you so much for being with us tonight. We appreciate you all joining us. The president's speech is going to get under way shortly.


Declaring End to Fighting in Iraq>

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