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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with Bud Schlageter

Aired May 13, 2003 - 19:04   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We continue our focus on the story right now. Sources tell CNN that the State Department is getting ready to order all nonessential U.S. personnel to leave Saudi Arabia.
Bud Schlageter is an American who lives and works in Iraq. He lives in one of the three compounds that was actually targeted by yesterday's attacks. His home escaped damage, but he felt the blast himself and he certainly saw the carnage. He joins us by phone from Riyadh.

Bud, thanks for being with us. What did you see last night when you first heard those shots? What happened?

BUD SCHLAGETER, V.P., TAMSCO: Well, at first I didn't see anything. I heard the explosion which took place at 11:20 last evening. My wife was downstairs, I was upstairs getting ready to go to bed when the explosion went off. And I knew right away it was a bomb because I'd gone through this before when I was based in Thailand during Vietnam.

The -- I heard shots prior to the explosion, then the explosion. The shots evidently was caused by, I think, the minister of defense and aviation guard that was at the back of our compound. But was firing at some people who were wearing vests and who were trying to breach our compound.

We have PCN guards, third country national guards who operate two large metal gates, kept the gates closed and finally when they find out they couldn't breach the compound, a vehicle pulled up in front of the gates and detonated the bomb and blew down both gates, the entire guard house. And the blast was so big that it hit inside of the compound, probably, I would say, about 200 yards.

We had a lot of damage. My home in particular had several blown- out windows, three blown-down doors and I'm basically in the middle of the compound.

COOPER: And do you intend to stay in Saudi Arabia? Does your family or friends intend to stay?

SCHLAGETER: I've been here originally since 1977. I have all my children, all my grandchildren here. So I'm a little bit different than the average ex-pat. As I say with a lot of people, I kind of grew up with these guys. I haven't really evaluated that way. I'm vice president of a small company here. I'm been more concerned about the safety and security of my people. I have six Americans living here, and my company employs about 65 Saudi nationals in addition to my Americans. So out of my whole group there was one family that was planning on leaving here in 1 June. They're still planning on leaving here on 1 June. I haven't had anyone else approach me about leaving.

And I'm assessing the situation minute by minute, about sending dependents out of here, but and I've not really had time to sit down and think about what I should do.

COOPER: All right.

SCHLAGETER: I'm here basically because my children and grandchildren are here.

COOPER: Bud, I appreciate you joining us tonight and appreciate you telling us what you heard in that deadly, horrible explosion. Thank you very much.

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