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Hussein Images Released by Coalition Authority

Aired July 24, 2003 - 10:46   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now by telephone is our military analyst retired Air Force Major General Don Shepperd, who was in Los Angeles this morning. General, let me ask you about what Barbara's talking about here, about the debate that ensued in the Pentagon, about whether or not to release these photos, when and how it should be done, if it should be done at all. What have you heard at all about -- have you been talking to any of your sources or any of your colleagues about it?
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I have indeed, Leon. And Barbara's right on the mark. This is a really significant decision the government is trying to draw a hard line between the fact the military is not releasing these, but rather, it is the coalition authority, Paul Bremer releasing it.

What we don't want to do is we don't want to set up a situation where every time we have a military operation we end up with pictures of dead Americans or us releasing photos of people from a military standpoint. It's just not something we want to have happen.

HARRIS: Well practically speaking, though, what does that matter? What difference does that matter if there's another country out there, if there's another enemy out there that is willing to take pictures in the first place, how is it that this ethical question will actually prevent them from doing something with that? Doesn't it seem to be kind of an esoteric matter?

SHEPPERD: It's esoteric but it matters to us. It matters to us from a military moral standpoint, from a value standpoint, from an image standpoint as a country. This is just not something we do. So the fact they decided to do this I think is a very significant decision. And of course, there is an overriding reason to do it now. There has to be an overriding reason to do something of this sort and depart from things we've done for really decades.

HARRIS: All right. That's good. Good to get that insider insight right there. Stay there. Don't go away, General. We want get back to you in just a bit.

Right now joining us is Nic Robertson, our intrepid international reporter who actually had made his way up to Mosul where this raid had taken place. Nic is joining us now. I believe he's in Baghdad right now. Nic has made it back to Baghdad now. Nic, what are you hearing and seeing there as we're waiting for these photos to be released?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We understand, Leon, that the photographs have now been handed out from the coalition provisional authority to some of the wire services.

It's not clear yet how the coalition provisional authority plans for the Iraqi people to be able to see these pictures. Tomorrow is Friday, the holy day. There are very few newspapers printed here on Friday. Normally, there are at least a dozen newspapers on display and on sale in and around Baghdad. So it would seem perhaps the photographs won't make it to get that normal wide distribution the newspapers might offer.

It's not clear yet if the pictures will be aired on Iraqi television. But very likely, once the wire news services have these pictures and begun to disseminate them, they will begin to appear through other television media outlets.

And perhaps the principle way people in Iraq will be able to see, at least in the most immediate and quick way they'll be able to see these pictures is on some of the Arab satellite broadcasting channels, Al Arabyia, al Jazeera that are both watched quite widely by the people in Iraq that have satellite television.

Not all people here have satellite television. And it will perhaps be several days before most people here will get a chance to see these pictures. But The process as we understand here in Baghdad, Leon, the process of actually getting those pictures out in the public domain has now begun.

HARRIS: You know what? I don't even know who to pose this question to between you or Barbara Starr, maybe you, General Shepherd as well. But the first thing that occurs to me, Nic, and hearing you mention Iraqi TV, I'm thinking that if my mission is to make sure that Iraqis are the first ones to see this or that audience will actually get a chance to consume these photos first, that these photos would be released immediately to Iraqi television once the decision was made.

Barbara, let me ask you, I'll pose the question to you then. Was there talk about releasing these only to Iraqi television or at least first to Iraqi television and why is that not happening?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, the idea -- you're absolutely right -- was to try and get them displayed to the Iraqi people and throughout the Arab world as quickly as they could.

But what officials here have struggled with for the last couple of days is as we here know better as well as anybody -- there's no such really thing in anybody's today's global village as distributing imagery, photographs, video, anything like that to just one segment of the world.

With cable television, with the Internet, with all these kinds of outlets, the minute the first photograph is out of U.S. government hands it certainly will flash around the world and will be seen very quickly in a number of places, certainly throughout the Islamic world, throughout the Western world, it will be seen everywhere.

So they had struggled with this because they new basically, no matter what decision they made, once they released them they're releasing them to the world. And that is both and American audience and an audience in the Arab world as well as everywhere else.

And as we have discussed, there are different cultural sensitivities here, there are different issues at stake. And they wanted to simply get them out in one sort of fell swoop, as it were. That's why, as Nic Robertson just said, they are releasing them, as we understand it, to news agencies in Baghdad, through the Coalition Provisional Authority. And then they feel they will have the widest media distribution.

HARRIS: All right, we're letting Nic Robertson go now. Nic is still standing by in Baghdad. We'll get back to him once these photos are released.


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