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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Saddam's Sons Killed in Raid in Mosul, Iraq

Aired July 22, 2003 - 15:46   ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're going to take you now to the White House, our John King standing by on the -- there at the White House. Obviously, tremendous story developing, John. Any reaction yet from the administration there?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No official further reaction yet, Kyra. The White House wanted to leave the official announcement to the Pentagon since it was, of course, the military that this operation in Mosul earlier today.

Behind the scenes here, though, officials saying that they view this as a very significant development. The White House will trumpet it as proof that the United States military for all the controversy in recent weeks about whether U.S. troops are in a secure environment in Iraq. Where is the resistance and the fighting coming from? The White House will say this is proof that amid all that there is progress being made toward achieving the key military objectives in Iraq. One of them, of course, being to root out the final remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, his two sons considered critical to that effort.

And here at the White House, officials say this also could bring a psychological boost, not only a morale boost to the U.S. troops on the ground, but, as Harris Whit beck was just discussing, a psychological boost across the country. The White House is hoping that when the Iraqi people hear that Qusay and Uday Hussein are dead that they will be -- that those who might have information about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, other key former Iraqi regime leaders, perhaps information about weapons programs will come forward now fully much more confident that the old regime will not return.

Will it end here? Will it -- will it end the political controversy here in the United States?

PHILLIPS: OK? John?

KING: No, it won't. But the administration believes this is a success, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: John, stand by. I'm sorry. I don't mean to cut you off, but we want to take you live to the Hill. Paul Bremer, who, of course, is in charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority to reconstruct Iraq is now addressing reporters.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS) L. PAUL BREMER, U.S. ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: ....structure that is democratic. I found the senators had a lot of questions about that, which I was able to answer. And I think we all agreed that we're making substantial progress.

And I look forward to continuing the discussions later this after with the other House.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, how will the raid in Mosul help the U.S. security situation in Iraq?

BREMER: I really don't want to comment at this point about the operation since, as the Senator pointed out, the confirmation came out while we were in the session. And I'd rather be briefed before I comment on it.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... confirmed, you've somewhat built in a contingency for getting security in place. How does this factor in?

BREMER: Well, it certainly is good news for the Iraqi people and it's good news for our forces. And I'll leave it for the moment at that.

Thank you.

Time will tell.

PHILLIPS: Good news for the Iraqi people, good news for the U.S. military forces are the words from Paul Bremer. Of course, the man in charge of rebuilding Iraq post-Operation Iraqi Freedom. He, of course, heads the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq making brief comments there to reporters on the Hill, as he was addressing senators today with regard to the progress on security in Iraq.

Let's bring our John King back in live from the White House. John, I apologize.

KING: Quite all right.

PHILLIPS: I didn't mean to cut you off there as we went to listen to Paul Bremer quickly.

You were talking about basically the psychological coup that has taken place here not only for the Bush administration, but U.S. forces, also possibly the Iraqi people.

KING: Well, Kyra, you have seen in recent days U.S. troops quoted in the newspapers talking about how they're sitting ducks, how they're being shot at everyday. The White House is hoping that something like this remind them of the mission at hand and gives a morale boost to the troops who have spent weeks and month overseas. The Pentagon tomorrow will announce a troop rotation plan. So the White House is hoping all of that together will boost the morale of the U.S. troops. But the bigger meaning could be the psychology of Iraq. Still questions being asked every day here at the White House, in political circles around Washington, and indeed around the world. Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Where is the evidence that Saddam Hussein had those weapons before the war. Those questions are frustrating to the White House and what they say is critical is cooperation from the Iraqis involved in those programs. The administration believes some are reluctant to cooperate because they're still afraid Saddam Hussein might come back someday. They believe this evidence, the deaths of -- the death of Uday and Qusay Hussein will convince more and more Iraqis that that will never happen, that the regime is, in fact, dead and gone from power even if Saddam Hussein himself might still be an unknown as to his whereabouts.

So the administration hopes there is a powerful psychology in Iraq that brings more information forward. We will see, if, in fact, that turns out to be the case in the days and weeks ahead.

PHILLIPS: And, John, that question was asked. A reporter asking the Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez there in that news conference did ask the question, could anything in this raid, anything obtained from this apartment lead to the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein? The general saying they are still exploiting the site.

Have you heard anything from your sources there at the White House of other pieces of evidence that existed in this apartment that could lead them to Saddam Hussein?

KING: Nothing definitive as yet at all, Kyra. One official actually lamenting earlier that Uday and Qusay were not captured alive. They believe they had a treasure trove of information about ongoing developments in Iraq in the final days of the regime and perhaps even evidence about the whereabouts of their father. So one official lamenting that they were not captured alive even as others here celebrated at the White House.

It seems odd to say they are celebrating the deaths of two people, but they believe it will allow the president to make the case that the military objectives are being achieved and they are hoping, again, that is has a psychological impact; it convinces those in Iraq who might be afraid to come forward or those in Iraq who are launching attacks on U.S. troops hoping Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party would come back to power, to convince them that that simply is not going to happen.

PHILLIPS: Our John King live from the White House. Thanks, John -- Miles.

KING: Thank you.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, given the brutality and the atrocities linked to both Uday and Qusay Hussein, I suppose some sort of celebration might very well be appropriate.

Over at the Pentagon, I'm sure there is bit of that as well. Jaime McIntyre is there for us to tell us what the reaction is from there.

Hello, Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, the Pentagon is -- of course, cheered by the fact that has enjoyed some success now in the hunt for the top members of Saddam Hussein's regime. Of course, the two sons were the most wanted Iraqi fugitives after Saddam Hussein himself -- both aces in the deck of the 55 most wanted Iraqis.

We learned today from this news conference that it was, as they said, a walk-in tip from an Iraqi informant that led to the raid that gave them the information that Uday and Qusay, along, apparently, with Qusay's son and a bodyguard were hold up in this villa in the northern part of Mosul. The U.S. forces including special operation forces from Task Force 20 mounted this operation, came under fierce small arms fire but used the overwhelming firepower of the U.S. military to eventually kill all four people inside and then, of course, several hours while they were trying to make sure they had the identities correct. Now saying that they are convinced, they have confirmed that Uday and Qusay were killed in this raid.

They're not confirming for sure the identities of the two other dead people, but General Ricardo Sanchez, lieutenant general in Baghdad saying that this should send a clear signal to the Iraqi people that Saddam Hussein regime is not coming back, something that the U.S. military has been repeating and reemphasized that the hunt continues to either find, to capture or to kill Saddam Hussein himself. So a big boost in morale for the U.S. forces, for the Bush administration and, of course, the news was greeted, although initially cautiously, now enthusiastically here at the Pentagon -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Jamie, the general was also asked about that $50 million bounty on each of the sons' heads, which in theory means that walk-in is now a $30 million man or woman. Does the Pentagon talking about that at all and whether there will be a big public display of a check delivered in order to send a message?

MCINTYRE: Well, I'm not sure it is going to be like one of those lottery winning events. There is some small -- some fine print in that reward offer, which as you said is $15 million each on the two elder sons of Saddam Hussein for information leading to the capture or confirming the deaths, and it does appear that an Iraqi informant might qualify for that. I asked the Pentagon official earlier today, is it possible that they would pay out that reward and he said, I wouldn't rule that out and, of course, General Sanchez says that that might be happening.

Now the reward is up to $15 million, not necessarily $15 million. So it will be up to the United States to decide how valuable this information was. Was it the key that really provided the opportunity to get these two wanted fugitives? And if that's the case, the informant may well get the entire $15 million.

O'BRIEN: All right. We'll be following that one, as well. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thank you very much -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. From the Pentagon to the United Nations, our Richard Roth standing by with reaction from there -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, SR. UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kyra, and interesting timing for this development because the Security Council was hosting visiting delegation from the U.S.-appointed Iraq Governing Council. Short time ago we got instant reaction from Ahmed Chalabi, one of the members of those council, someone who had been fighting for the ouster of Saddam Hussein for a long time. Here is his reaction to the news -- to the announcement that Saddam's sons were, indeed, dead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AHMED CHALABI, MEMBER, IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL: This is very important and this will contribute considerably to reducing attacks on coalition soldiers and also contribute to establishing security in the country.

QUESTION: What will this mean, do you think, to the people of Iraq when they hear this?

CHALABI: Both of those characters are hated figures in Iraq. Uday is more notorious, but Qusay is an image of his father and Qusay's death is, if confirmed, is far more significant than Uday's because he was in charge of the network that was causing a great deal of the trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: Ahmed Chalabi adding that he thinks this will help lead to the capture of Saddam Hussein. He says he's been providing information to the U.S. authorities, but so far nothing has turned up --- Miles, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Richard Roth, live from the U.N., thank you.

We'll continue, of course, to follow this developing story. Once again, coming from Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the coalition ground forces there in Iraq, confirming that in a six- hour operation in Mosul, four people killed, confirming that Uday and Qusay Hussein, the sons of Saddam Hussein, are among the dead.

How they were identified, multiple sources, the general says helped identify the bodies. DNA is still in the works to identify the bodies, but the general coming forward and saying that the two brothers are dead.

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