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Saddam Hussein on Trial

Aired October 19, 2005 - 05:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: From the Timer Warner Center in New York, this is DAYBREAK with Carol Costello and Chad Myers.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. Thank you for waking up with us.

Our coverage of the Saddam Hussein trial will continue.

But first, CNN severe weather expert Chad Myers following Hurricane Wilma this morning, which is now a Category 5 storm.

Morning -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Believe it or not, Carol, good morning, but the winds that are hurricane force, 74 or above, only extend 15 miles from the center of the eye. So it is a very compact storm. And that doesn't take anything away from it, that just means that the very, very core of the storm, the center couple of miles, that's where the winds now are Category 5.

In retrospect to Katrina, this is probably not even as dangerous for such a large area. Remember we had damage from Bay St. Louis all the way over to Alabama. This would probably not make that type of damage. If it would make landfall right now, it would make catastrophic damage for 15 or 20 miles and then it would just be tropical storm force winds over here.

But the storm is still getting larger. And you can see how now it's beginning to fill in almost the entire Caribbean, from Cuba, right here, over to the Yucatan. Here is Belize.

The forecast, I think, is still to take this thing to the northwest for a while, even west-northwest, and then drive it possibly very close to Playa del Carmen, possibly Cozumel and Cancun. I'm sure they'll start to talk about getting people out of this area today. Turning the storm on up toward the northeast again, turning it hard to the right, and then taking it on up into the west coast of Florida.

Here, in fact, is the Hurricane Center forecast, still a Category 5 later today, into tonight, but then slowing down to a Category 4. It's very hard to keep a storm spinning this fast for so long. Something gets in the way. The eyewall blows apart. An outer eyewall forms and then collapses and shrinks, it's called an eyewall replacement cycle. And sometimes it can get stronger after that. But for a while, maybe it'll be down to 120.

And we're not expecting it to make landfall on Florida's west coast with 175-mile-per-hour winds. That's just not in the forecast, not in the Hurricane Center's forecast, not in any of the computer models, because in order to get it to turn, you actually have to sheer it apart a little bit -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Keeping my fingers crossed -- Chad.

MYERS: It's still going to be a very dangerous storm. And you need, anywhere from Cedar Key down to the Florida Keys, you need to be very careful. Keep watching this.

COSTELLO: We'll do.


COSTELLO: Thank you -- Chad.


COSTELLO: Stay tuned to CNN, your hurricane headquarters.

Now for some other stories we're following this morning.

One U.S. soldier is dead following a roadside bomb attack near Baghdad. The military says the soldier was assigned to the 56th Brigade Combat Team. Two other soldiers in the patrol were wounded. A similar attack in the southern city of Basra killed one British soldier.

During his second day in China, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warns that China is raising suspicion over its military intentions. Rumsfeld says China's leaders are sending mixed signals. He's also calling on China's future leaders to open up the country politically and economically.

A hearing into a possible al Qaeda plot to kill President Bush continues in Alexandria, Virginia today. A doctor testified that Ahmed Omar Abu Ali may have been tortured while in custody in Saudi Arabia. Abu Ali is a U.S. citizen accused of taking part in al Qaeda operations, including that planned assassination.

Schools in Taunton, Massachusetts closed again today, downtown also off limits while city officials watch that wooden dam that's threatening to break apart. Water levels have stabilized, but city leaders say it's too soon to know when people can return to their homes.

Of course we're following a history-making trial all morning long, Saddam Hussein and seven former regime members facing charges of crimes against humanity. The trial just got under way minutes ago in Baghdad's Green Zone. Hussein's lawyer wants a three-month delay, saying the defense just isn't ready. The trial is being conducted in Arabic. And we'll get the courtroom action on a half-hour delay. In fact, the proceedings have already begun.

Let's head live to Baghdad and check in with Aneesh Raman. Proceedings have begun. We won't be able to see them on videotape for about 5 to 10 minutes. So tell us what that was like from where you are standing as the trial began.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, as you say, we're expecting the video feed to begin at 45 past the hour. We understand, about 10 minutes past the top of the hour, Saddam Hussein's first trial began. He is charged with crimes against humanity. There is a blackout, essentially, of reports coming from within the courtroom itself, so we don't know what exactly is taking place as we speak.

But all expectations were the trial would begin by the judges reading the charges that Saddam and the seven other defendants face in this first case that stems from atrocities allegedly committed in July 1982 in the northern village of Dujail. Saddam survived an assassination attempt there and then had thousands of villagers thrown in jail, many were tortured. At least 143 were killed.

Now we spoke, CNN, to Khalil Dulaimi, Saddam's chief lawyer, last night. As you mentioned, he is going to immediately, he says, call for a minimum three-month delay of this trial on the grounds that he has had -- he has not had enough time to review the evidence. Also he makes the point that the judges have had training outside of Iraq in order to manage these proceedings correctly. The defense lawyers have not. He will request equitable training in order for the trial to proceed.

But again, we're waiting at 45 past this hour for the video feed to begin. We do not know if Saddam Hussein himself will make any statement. Khalil Dulaimi said last night that Saddam feels it is within his rights to do so, but it, of course, will be up to the judges.

Now we spoke earlier to CNN's Christiane Amanpour who is inside that courtroom. She described incredibly high security around that building, two rings of concrete walls. She also said that the U.S. marshals who are in charge of the security, Carol, described today it would be easier to get into the White House than to get into this trial. That's how extensive the security is.

There are members of human rights groups who are witnessing the trial, also members of the Iraqi government, two incredibly high aides to Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

So we're awaiting the first video frames to come out. Again, we're expecting it at 45 past the hour. Right now we're just seeing bars, but we'll bring that to you as soon as it comes -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Absolutely. You mentioned Mr. Dulaimi, Saddam Hussein's defense attorney. Christiane Amanpour managed to talk to him by phone a short time ago. We have a couple of bits of sound with him. You heard Aneesh mention that he was going to immediately ask for an extension because he didn't get the information in time.

Let's listen specifically to what he had to say.


KHALIL DULAIMI, SADDAM HUSSEIN'S LEAD DEFENSE COUNSEL (through translator): Of course we will ask for an adjournment because it is a part of our defense strategy. The reason for this adjournment will be the fact that we were not informed in a timely manner. And it is also based on the violations that was committed against the defense team since the tribunal court always confronted the team of Arab and international lawyers with all kinds of obstacles.


COSTELLO: Of course Mr. Dulaimi also saw his client, Saddam Hussein, before this trial began. He said he's in high spirits.

Let's listen to more.


DULAIMI (through translator): He had very high spirits and he didn't act differently at all when I informed him because he is confident in the justice of his cause since Iraq is suffering a brute occupation by the United States and this occupation is not based on any legitimacy or any legal or acknowledged principle. And again it has no international authority by either the international community or the United Nations. All of what they are basing their case on is illegitimate.


COSTELLO: We've also been talking this morning with Mike Newton, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. He helped establish the Iraqi special tribunal. Remains an adviser.

So let's go back to Nashville for more from him.

Morning again -- Mike.


COSTELLO: So the trial has begun. I can only imagine what it looks like inside the courtroom. Can you sort of imagine it in your mind and tell us what we can expect to see shortly?

NEWTON: Well I've been in the courtroom in an earlier phase of construction, and it's much as it's been described. The judges on a raised dais to the front. There are the docks for the various accused in this case. There is a bench for both prosecutors and then there are separate space for the defense. And then in the back, a witness gallery, much like you would see in the tribunal in the Hague, very similar.

COSTELLO: There are seven other defendants, along with Saddam Hussein. Perhaps the most recognizable name to Americans is Taha Yassin Ramadan, and he is the former Iraqi vice president. He was also involved in the gassing of the Kurds back in the '80s. How will the trial proceed for him, and the others, along with Saddam Hussein? NEWTON: Well the Iraqi law of criminal procedure has very specific rules for combining accused into trials. And that's why these accused, in this case, have been combined during the trial based on the common incident that they were all involved with. There may be other trials where you have various combinations of accused. Some of these same accused may face other charges in conjunction with some of the same accused in this case, as well as others. But they will proceed on a case-by-case basis.

COSTELLO: In this trial, though, all of those defendants, are they eligible for the death penalty?

NEWTON: In theory, yes. That's a very important part of Iraqi culture and the Iraqi legal system. As you know, the union is not held in very high regard in much of Iraq. If the United Nations had chosen to stay and facilitate the process, the price of that would have probably been that they would have demanded no death penalty, which would have gone a long way, in and of itself, towards delegitimizing the process in the eyes of the Iraqi people.

Remember the whole point of this exercise is to restore the rule of law to Iraq. That's what the judges are dedicated to. That's what this process is all about, demonstrating an open and a fair and a transparent process that really does rebuild the rule of law.

COSTELLO: OK, so you talk about a transparent process. There are human rights watchers inside the courtroom. What kinds of things will they be looking for?

NEWTON: Well the statute itself, in conjunction with Iraqi law, lays out a full array of human rights protections. All the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to have your sentence and your judgment based only on evidence that was in the courtroom and available to the defense. Those are the kinds of things they'll be watching for very carefully.

COSTELLO: We're waiting for the -- just a minute more and we're going to see that videotape. Along -- we have about a minute longer, so help me out -- Mike.


COSTELLO: Octavia Nasr told me that many Iraqis don't want to see Saddam Hussein be put to death if he's convicted of these crimes. They want him to be tried for many, many more. According to Iraqi law, you can put someone to death, what, 30 days after a sentence is handed down? Is that likely to happen?

NEWTON: Your guess is as good as mine. As with many other issues in this trial, it's up to the judges and the evidence that is introduced at trial. Those are all factors that we'll have to wait and see based on the quantum of evidence and the type of evidence and the way the trial plays out. Your guess is as good as mine. And anybody who says otherwise is simply speculating. We don't know.

COSTELLO: Yes, we don't know. We don't know how exactly long this proceeding is going to last either. I mean many experts say it'll last one to two days, but could it last longer?

NEWTON: Again, it could. If the judges want to go ahead and have a preliminary assessment of the evidence, if they want to begin the process. Remember there are not just Saddam, but all the other co-accused, it could conceivably last longer. These are complicated crimes. There may be some back and forth between the defense and the prosecutor and the judges about the nature of the charges. That's conceivable, which, of course, would take a little bit more time.

COSTELLO: Mike, let me interrupt you, because we have gone to the videotape now and the beginning of the proceedings.

Do we have Aneesh Raman standing by as well?

RAMAN: Yes, Carol, good morning.

You can see there, within the sort of confines of those cages, that is where the defendants will sit. That, as far as we understand, is going to be to the left of where the judges are. We spoke of the chief presiding judge. There is a five-judge panel that is in charge of these court proceedings. We do not see the defendants there just yet.

Also, in front of the judges, to their right, will be six seats for the prosecution. The chief prosecutor is Jaafar Al-Moussawi. There are five clerks that will also be sitting directly in front of the judges. And in terms of the defense, we understand there are 16 seats.

Now you're seeing there what one could maybe assume is the chief judge. His name, Rizgar Mohammed Amein. I do not know that for sure though.

COSTELLO: Well let me go...

RAMAN: We'll have to see...

COSTELLO: Hey -- Aneesh.


COSTELLO: Let's ask Mike Newton.


COSTELLO: Mike, do you know, is this the judge?

NEWTON: I can't see the video, but I believe so, yes.

COSTELLO: I wish you could see the video. Maybe we can work that out for you. But the judge's face is being full shown on this video. Does that surprise you?

NEWTON: No, actually. The judges that I spoke with are very dedicated to a transparent process that demonstrates the rule of law. And you can say that in principle. In practice that means for, among other things, that their identities are known to the world. Remember that Judge Raed Juhi, who is the investigative judge, his name and face were all around the world, which took incredible personal courage. And I would put these judges in the same category.

RAMAN: Is anyone listening to this?

COSTELLO: Aneesh, we understand that Saddam Hussein is indeed in the courtroom. Can you confirm that for us?

RAMAN: Yes, exactly. This is the beginning of what has happened, essentially, about a half-hour ago. There's a half-hour delay. We do understand Saddam Hussein is in the courtroom. I have not seen him yet in the video. We're now hearing from the chief judge, the presiding judge, as he opens this trial session -- Carol.

COSTELLO: How did they get Saddam Hussein into the courtroom? Is there any way to know, because I know security is so very tight there?

RAMAN: Well we had been told he would be walked in before the media were allowed in. Now this could be video before the reporters were allowed, but maybe they allowed the video of Saddam being walked in.

You're seeing there, again, the cages, where I don't see anyone sitting yet, where the defendants are to sit during the proceedings. But he has been of course kept in incredibly high security, his whereabouts virtually unknown within Baghdad, by the U.S. military. He is under the control of the Iraqis, but they have allowed the U.S. to still handle his detainment because of the security issues -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, and from what I understand, we're not hearing audio, and we won't for some time yet. I don't know if that's a technical problem or if they're doing that on purpose, but we'll continue to follow on the audio portion of this. Of course this trial is being seen throughout the Arab world live on television.

Do we have Octavia Nasr?

We do not.

OK, Mike, let's go back to you. The judge is saying something. Since we can't hear him, we don't know what, but we would assume that he is reading the charges. What will happen after that?

NEWTON: The charges will be read. As you have said, they are crimes against humanity charges, which are exceedingly complex in nature. There may be some give and take about the nature of the charges. There may be some discussion about timing. And there may actually be some formal defense motions on various issues. And again, I would expect some give and take between the three players, the judges and the prosecution and the defense team as well.

COSTELLO: And Aneesh described the things that you're seeing as cages, which is interesting. We have Christiane Amanpour?

Christiane Amanpour, I'm going to interrupt you both, because Christiane Amanpour is inside the courtroom and she's calling in. We have to get to her right now.

Christiane, describe the scene for us.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well we are in the media center just below the courtroom. We have just taken a 10-minute recess. The reason being, there are considerable technical difficulties.

Saddam Hussein and his other co-defendants are in the court. It was about 35 minutes when we were in the courtroom. We watched them all file in. But when the presiding judge asked Saddam Hussein to step to the microphone and identify himself, we could hear nothing.

But furthermore, it transpired that Saddam Hussein was attempting to make some kind of speech or may have some kind of discussion with the judge outside of what the judge had directly asked him. We could hear the judge saying, repeatedly, all we are asking you (INAUDIBLE) tell us your name. We will have the chance to hear the other things you have to say later. Saddam Hussein kept trying to have his day in court, have his speech, but was eventually asked to sit down, which he did.

He came in to court walking, escorted by two guards who were in bulletproof vests. He was wearing a gray suit and a white shirt. His hair is black, as it has always been. His beard is black with significant gray (INAUDIBLE) a good deal older and weaker and more frail than he did the last time I saw him come in to court in the summer of 2004 when he came for his initial hearing.

His other co-defendants in this trial, the trial of the massacre of 143 Shiite men in the village of Dujail after an attempted ambush on his motorcade back in '92, '82 rather. His other co-defendants all came in wearing the traditional Arab dishdasher. They looked weak. One of them came in in handcuffs. He was the only one. And they were all escorted with two guards to their seats. They all looked fairly weak, fairly surprised (INAUDIBLE).

And we were waiting to hear the trial proceedings, but so far we have not been able to hear anything. And the presiding judge has called a 10-minute recess in order to try to fix the technical problems.

One of the elements of color is that two of the defendants, one being Saddam Hussein's half-brother, Barazan al-Tikriti, and another being the former presiding judge of Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Court system, they both complained that the guards had removed their traditional headdress. And the judge agreed with them that this was not right, that they had the right to wear whatever they wanted in court. As he said, anything that is not indecent. And he called for the guards to bring all the headdresses back. So they all put on their headdresses, except for Saddam Hussein. That's a little bit of the color. We're waiting to hear more of the substance of this first day of the trial.

When we spoke to the defense attorney, and all defense attorneys are represented there in court, there's a table with 13 of them sitting there. When we spoke to Saddam Hussein's defense attorney yesterday, he said he would be asking for a three-month adjournment. So far they have not got to that point yet. They are still asking for the defendants to identify themselves for the record.

Back to you.

COSTELLO: Christiane, I'm just trying to figure out why we can't see Saddam Hussein just yet. They're starting to lead people in to that cage-like area inside the courtroom. Can you see what I'm seeing?

AMANPOUR: No, because you are seeing a 30-minute or so tape delay. We see in real time what you see only 30 minutes later. The last defendant to walk in will be Saddam Hussein. They called the last one first, so to speak, and the last defendant to walk into the courtroom will be Saddam Hussein. So I don't know whether you're seeing some of the defendants walk in with their traditional Arab dress, the dishdasher, but they have come in.

And I can give you the order (INAUDIBLE) some of the important ones came in. The first one who came in was Mohammed Azawi Ali, and he was a former Baath Party official in the village of Dujail. The second one who came in was Ali Dayim Ali. The third one who came in was Barazan al-Tikriti, who is Saddam Hussein's half brother. And the fourth one who came in was Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was the former vice president. And, to me, almost unrecognizable, hair closely cropped, balding, white and completely different than he looked in his full regalia when he was still in power. As I say, Saddam Hussein comes in last.

COSTELLO: Well that was perfect, thank you, Christiane, you clarified everything for us. We appreciate that.

I want to talk a little bit about the judge's demeanor, because you said Saddam Hussein started to speak. He wanted to go into this long spiel and the judge just cut it off. Tell me about his demeanor.

AMANPOUR: Well he did. He did cut it off. He basically kept repeating that I have asked you just to identify yourself. Please give me your name and your profession. And I think he then said your former profession.

And Saddam Hussein apparently did not, although I cannot vouch for that because we have not been able to hear anything that the defendant has said. And nor, as far as I can tell, have the translators been able to hear anything, because the microphone was not working and they couldn't figure it out. In any event, he kept trying to make some kind of statement.

He walked in to court holding a Koran, I believe. I could see the book that he was carrying. It looked to me like it was a Koran, very similar to what he had the first time I saw him in court (INAUDIBLE) live 2004. And, as I say again, to me he looked much weaker, much more frail, much less sure on his feet.

I can tell you, though, he's still got a little bit of spirit. Because the two guards that were holding on to his arms as they came in, he sort of gave the typical sort of fingers and thumb motion to them, sort of keep away, you don't have to hold on to my arms, I can walk. Nonetheless, they did hold his arms until they put him in the front row of that white cage-like dock there that is for the defendants. So he's sitting in the front row with one other defendant who is Awad, who is the former Revolutionary Court judge.

COSTELLO: A question about the people inside the courtroom watching. We had heard some of the victims' family members would be inside. Are they?

AMANPOUR: We can't see. Above us there is another gallery where there are government officials, there are party members of the current government, there are advisers to the current Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. There are also some human rights observers from Human Rights Watch and, we understand, Amnesty International. And there are also, we are told, some family members and others, but we cannot see them.

We did actually see some of these people who I've just named for you walk in, but we can't see them because they are sitting in a gallery above us right now.

What we can see in the court is the crescent shape, a bench where the five judges are sitting, presided by the presiding judge there who is Rizgar Mohammed Amein. In front there is a panel of five clerks. Then they face the defendants dock. And to the left of the defendants is the chief prosecutor and other prosecutors. There are a total of four people on that side so far in total.

On the right-hand side of the defendants' dock are the defense attorneys. There are 13 of them. Saddam Hussein's attorney is sitting in the third seat in the front row. And there is also a witness box, which is currently covered by a curtain.

We are sitting behind bulletproof, soundproof glass, and we cannot hear anything unless it's transmitted to us by you know the audio/visual system.

COSTELLO: OK, Christiane, we're still waiting on our tape version for Saddam Hussein to come in. And it seems as if he'll come in at any time. Can I break away from you for a second to go to Octavia Nasr? Will you be able to hold on?

AMANPOUR: I'll try. I'm going to go in when they call us back in.

COSTELLO: OK, understand. I just want to ask Octavia a quick question.

Octavia, as the Arab world sees these powerful men coming in to the courtroom, what do you suppose their reaction is?

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SENIOR ARAB AFFAIRS EDITOR: They have been so excited to see these images, Carol, I cannot even start to tell you how exciting this is for the Arab world for so many reasons.

The main one is, and this is what you hear over and over again on Arab television, you read it in the paper, this is the first Arab leader to face charges. This is the first Arab leader to be tried in a courtroom for crimes he committed when he was a leader, a president of his country. And crimes that he committed thinking that he is immune of being tried or being facing charges or facing the victims that he had hurt. So the Arab world is glued to television sets right now.

Newsrooms are very busy trying to identify the defendants, trying to explain things, just as we're doing. This is a huge story for the Arab world, as I said, for many, many different reasons. But these images are historic for the Arab world. This has been called already the trial of the century. Iraqi TV calling it the trial of the century for the dictator of the century. Emotions are running very high in the Arab Middle East right now, and you can definitely feel it on Arab television and in Arab press.

COSTELLO: I can only imagine what they'll feel like. And, actually, what everyone in the United States will feel like when we finally see Saddam Hussein come in to this courtroom.

Christiane had mentioned that it seemed as if he were carrying a Koran. When he was in power, he was not a particularly religious man. Will that strike a chord -- Octavia?

NASR: Well he is a secular man. But of late, we heard a lot about him reading the Koran. In a letter that he sent to his daughter last year, he said that he is reading the Koran and that's giving him a lot of solace and peace.

I have to tell you, though, in the court hearings that we saw earlier when he appeared before that young Judge Juhi, he had a reference book, a legal system, and the Iraqi criminal law reference book with him, and it wasn't a Koran then.

I won't be surprised if he has a Koran in his hand. I think this is a man who is trying to give an image to the world that he is a religious person, and not necessarily a fundamentalist person, but certainly someone who reads the Koran and finds peace and answers to his life quests in it.

COSTELLO: Do we have Mike Newton, still, our expert from Vanderbilt University?


COSTELLO: OK, I'd like to ask a Mike a question. Saddam Hussein came up to the microphone, who was only supposed to give his name, he started to give a speech. The judge quickly shut him down. That's working out exactly as it's supposed to, right? NEWTON: Well, as I told you, there is a specific rule of Iraqi criminal procedure law that allows the judge to maintain control of the court and prevent people from making extraneous statements, which sounds like exactly what they're doing.

COSTELLO: As you're looking at these pictures, you can't see these pictures, but we're seeing the defendants. You can. That's good.

NASR: And here, Carol, you see...


NASR: ... Saddam Hussein being brought in right now.

COSTELLO: Let's just pause for this.

So, Octavia, as you look at him, Christiane said he appeared frail, the guards wanted to hold on to both of his arms, he tried to shake them off, Saddam Hussein wouldn't let him. When you see him, tell me what you see.

NASR: Yes, he does look a bit frail. It was interesting to see them hold him. Obviously they felt that they have to hold him and walk him in. He does look frail. He does look a bit weak and a bit subdued. A little different from the Saddam Hussein we saw in other court appearances. He was looking a bit defiant. He had a smirk on his face.

Here you see a Saddam Hussein that's very serious. Here, again, I see the book that Christiane is referring to. And again, we cannot tell if it is the Koran or another book at this point. Maybe we will get a close-up shot of it and will determine what it is.

Here you see him standing up...

COSTELLO: Let's pause...

NASR: Yes?

COSTELLO: Let's pause for a moment.

NASR: Yes.

COSTELLO: I know we can't hear anything, but let's just look.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRAQ: In the name of God, the most merciful, most compassionate.


UNIDENTIFIED TRANSLATOR: He's reading from the Koran.


UNIDENTIFIED TRANSLATOR: He's reading of the Koran. AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Your full name, please?


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Saddam, we ask you only now to prove your full name, your title, your profession. Then you will be given a chance to talk. Now is the time to take down the notes as of the I.D. card. I'd like not to be talking to you with this method. As for other issues, god only knows.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Saddam, however, we need the I.D. card. We need your full name. I hear you and I understand you. And, also, we will listen to you when there's time for us -- when time is there for us to hear from you. Now, we need the I.D. card, the full name, then you will hear the rules of procedure and then you will be given time to talk.

Please tell me who are you and what are u.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First give us your I.D. card.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): No, I need to know.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We are a criminal court.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We are the criminal court in Iraq. So please, you -- you were not just -- these issues have nothing to do with you, sir.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You can formally present anything you like and now we don't have any time to go into these details. I am here in the building of the military industry as of 2:30, as of 2:30, as of 2:30. And since 9:00 and I'm dressed up. One time, take off your clothes; another dress up. Until I can sit down and...


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): ... you know me. If you're an Iraqi, then you know.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Everybody knows I don't get tired. You know that. You can sit down so that we can... HUSSEIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I am commenting on your request for the I.D. card, in response to what you asked. But the coalition...

AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Saddam, we need the I.D. card. These are formalities.

HUSSEIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): No -- they told me no talk, no paper. No paper, no pen. The pen and paper are scary now.

Please, sir, I don't harbor any hatred to any of you but holding onto the right and respect -- out of respect to the Iraqi people for choosing me. And I say I don't answer this, what is called a court, with all due respect. And I reserve my constitutional right as the president of the country of Iraq.

AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): So please, you have time. This is not the time.

HUSSEIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I will not go along.

Just to comment on your own talk, you asked for my I.D. But this is a formality of the court. Therefore I don't acknowledge neither the entity that authorized you nor the aggression, because everything that's based on falsehood is falsehood.


You can sit down, please.

Mr. Awad?

Your I.D. card?

AWAD HAMAD AL-BANDER AL-S'ADUN, FORMER CHIEF JUDGE, REVOLUTIONARY COURT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): My I.D. is my head cover. You took that from me so that is no longer. My head cover is my identity. You took it away from me. The court took it away.

AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Where is his head cover? Bring it over.

AL-BANDER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This is not acceptable. Even the investigative judges, you come to this court with what you like up close. The judge, jury only allows us to come with our head cover, but the rest cannot -- do not.


Welcome, everybody.

You're watching a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING, as we bring you Saddam Hussein's trial.

You're watching videotape that's actually coming to us on a 30- minute delay. So the pictures that you're seeing here have happened 30 minutes ago. And what we just saw a moment ago was Saddam Hussein, really, from the get go of his appearance, setting the tone for how this trial might go.

Welcome, everybody.

We heard, at least four or five times, the judge ask him to state his name. And you could clearly hear in our translation Saddam Hussein, who was trying to take the stand and make a statement, continually being told you may not make a statement. And he said, "I'm the president of Iraq. You know who I am. I want to take this moment to make a statement."

And, again, the judge said we just want your I.D. we want your name.

Many people were concerned that this really would be how this entire trial would go.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, the court begins this trial, the judge, an ethnic Kurd by the name of Rizgar Mohammed Amin, begins this trial with the formality of give me your I.D. card and the trial begins with what many suspected might happen, Saddam Hussein using it as an opportunity to stand on a soap box.

The person you saw just seated immediately to the right of Saddam Hussein is Awad al-Bandar. Tables turned on him. He is the judge who meted out those death sentences some 23 years ago in the wake of that assassination attempt, which Saddam Hussein and his entourage endured on that trip to that city. And ultimately, 150 or so were hung in retribution for that.

So here he is on the other side of the scales of justice, if you will, as this trial begins.

But, clearly, if there was any hope that this would go smoothly, right off the bat we see an argumentative...

S. O'BRIEN: One minute in, we have...

M. O'BRIEN: Saddam Hussein.

S. O'BRIEN: ... we had a pretty clear idea how it would go.

Seven co-defendants, a panel of five judges, as you see there, and you mentioned, that's the chief judge.

Identity obviously has been a huge issue here, as not only the people who will be testifying in this trial, but also some of the justices had wanted to protect their identity.

We're going to listen in just a little bit more.

Christiane Amanpour is inside the courtroom for us this morning.

We're going to be hearing from her as she is able to get out and call in and update us on what is happening in the courtroom. And, of course, we have reporters standing by, as well, this morning, to fill us in on the implications of this trial.

One has to imagine that the Iraqi people watching this today -- because, of course, Arab nations are watching this, as well as we are, to see their president, some might say former president of -- he, himself, declares himself the current president of Iraq, smiling in the defense box. One has to imagine what's going through their mind.

And the trial is going to start taking a look at this massacre in Dujail. We heard from Aneesh Raman yesterday telling us really -- setting up what had happened and why they picked this particularly massacre to focus on as they begin this trial.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, there are so many atrocities that are linked to Saddam Hussein, so many thousands of deaths. And this particular event in Dujail stands out not so much for its numbers and for its severity, but for the amount of evidence that is available right now for the court to proceed.

And that is why they begin with this, one of a dozen most serious cases that are being leveled at Saddam Hussein and his former Baathist accomplices, if you will.

Let's go to Octavia Nasr.

She is our senior editor for Arab affairs. And she has been watching this through the prism of the Arab media as well as through our own media.

As you see them put on their head covers there, this -- let's talk about that for just a moment, Octavia.

Saddam Hussein, over the years, not known as a particularly religious person. And yet this appears to be the first point of contention in the courtroom -- can those traditional head coverings be worn?

NASR: Well, it's interesting that the judge allowed it. And I think this is very important for two reasons. One, the judge is showing, through this gesture, that he is going to be fair, that he respects these people's religious freedoms, if you will, and religious requests. And I don't know if you heard it in the tone of voices, but they were complaining. They were sort of talking to him as if he's someone who would understand and who would listen to their complaint. And sure enough, he asked that their headdresses be brought in.

So for one reason that's important, because the judge is showing fairness.

The other reason this is important is that those defendants didn't do what Saddam Hussein did. You know, he went first. He challenged the court. He won't give his name. So you have to think that these people are going to follow suit.

Instead, they didn't. All they said is get me my headdress, this is not acceptable that they would take away my headdress.

So, and, also, another important point here, this is the judge showing the world, if you will, that he is boss, that he is going to grant permission to, you know, to things that he sees as fit and legitimate and, at the same time, he might not grant permission to other things.

So very interesting how he's setting the stage.

M. O'BRIEN: OK, now, we just want to -- Octavia, just a little logistical statement for our viewers here.

First of all, what we're seeing is something that happened a little while ago, just about a half hour or so ago. Saddam Hussein was seated. This is not live television. What we're seeing is -- are tapes that are recorded in the courtroom and then played back for us. About a 30 minute delay. And just about every 30 minutes, about the length of a videotape cassette, there will be a break in the action, which is what we just had.

And in this interim, we're going to show you what we saw just a little while ago, for those of you who are just tuning in this morning.

Octavia get, you know, to what extent have you been able to measure, as you look at the Arab media, how tuned in the Arab world is to this trial?

NASR: They are tuned in. They are reminded over and over again for the last week or so. Arab media have been carrying the story of Dujail and other crimes that Saddam Hussein might face in the upcoming months. They were reminded of the images of slaughter, of razing of land, of massacres and assassinations, all kinds of things.

And they are tuned in because, to them, this is a first, and this is a very important first. This is an Arab leader who is going to be having his day in court.

And as you saw, those images we just saw, you know, him challenging the court, him saying -- refusing to even identify himself -- I mean, this is the kind of man that the Arab world knows, the Saddam Hussein who is ruthless, the Saddam Hussein who gives orders, the Saddam Hussein who kills if you don't agree with him.

So to see him as a defendant and see him reduced to sitting in a cage with other defendants, is a first. It's a very interesting first. Some people, of course, don't agree with this first and others do. But, nonetheless, it seems that there is general agreement that this is the trial of the century for the Arab world.

S. O'BRIEN: Octavia, you say reduced to sitting in a cage. And at the same time, though, you see him declare himself the president of Iraq, and also being very combative with the judge.

How will all of that be read, not only by Iraqis, obviously, but across the Arab world? NASR: You know, across the Arab world, they expected this. They expected that any time Saddam Hussein will be given a chance to open his mouth, he is going to give them drama. That was expected.

But you have to remember, this court system is not going to allow Saddam Hussein to say much. So this was his chance. He was asked to say his name, identify himself. He went on and on and on. He wanted to recite verses from the Koran. He wanted to make a statement. He refused to give his name.

But he is not going to get this opportunity again. And what's going to happen is the judge has the final word here. Saddam Hussein can say all he wants about he wants to make a statement, he has something to add. It is the judge who will say yes or no. And I think very soon Saddam Hussein will learn that misbehavior in court like this might not get him the floor as often as he likes.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, thank you very much, Octavia Nasr.

We'll get back to you in just a little bit.

Let's bring in a guest now.

Mike Newton teaches law at Vanderbilt University.

He helped the Iraqis establish this special tribunal.

He also helped lead the training in international criminal law for the Iraqi judges and remains an adviser to the tribunal.

He joins us from the Vanderbilt campus in Nashville.

Good to have you with us Mr. Newton.

How much do we know about the chief judge, Rizgar Mohammed Amin?

MIKE NEWTON, TRAINED JUDGES FOR IRAQI TRIBUNAL: Well, he, like many of the other judges, is a very dignified judge. I was incredibly impressed, many, many times, with the judicial temperament. They know how to be judges. They know how to respect the law, which is what you see them doing here.

This courtroom and these proceedings are governed by a detailed set of procedures and Iraqi criminal procedure law, which is exactly what he's bound by, as well as Saddam. And you see them proceeding in academic with the rules and the law that have been set in place.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk about what the law is here. In some respects it is modeled after international law and in some respects it has roots in the law which was the law of the land when Saddam Hussein was the dictator. So it's a hybrid.

Is it a good body of law? Does it -- is it the proper arsenal here?

NEWTON: Well, the statute itself is a very sophisticated meshing, a merging of underlying Iraqi criminal procedure law and a few very specific Iraqi crimes, which are very interesting because the Iraqis demanded those specific crimes. There are three of them.

One is the crime of impersonating judicial functions, people who would simply become judges and execute people without really being judges and lawyers.

The second is the crime of wasting Iraqi resources, things like burning the oil, etc.

And then the last is the crime of waging aggressive war on neighboring Arab countries. Those are crimes that come from underlying Iraqi criminal procedure and criminal law.

Overlying that, though, is a very sophisticated, really state-of- the-art articulation of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. And those things have been put together to give you the whole focus of the charges.

M. O'BRIEN: Saddam Hussein in that statement just said a few months ago: "I reserve my constitutional rights as the president of Iraq. I do not recognize the body that has authorized you," speaking to the judge. "And I don't recognize this aggression. I do not respond to this so-called court, with all due respect."

No surprise that he would use that as his tactic.

NEWTON: Well, what's fascinating about this, Justice Robert Jackson, who was the American prosecutor at Nuremberg, said courts try cases, but cases also try courts. There are going to be many, many, many moments like that that come up, that the judges will have to handle.

What's significant, though, is that there are rules in place -- and you see the graphic image all across the Arab world -- of Saddam as one of a group of accused. He's no better or no worse than any of them. He's one of a group. And, in this case, he is subject to the rule of law. The law will be applied to him. And as the judge said, he will have the opportunity to raise his defense case, to file his motions, to make his case in the due course of the trial. That's what a fair trial is all about.

But the key is that he's under the rule of law.

M. O'BRIEN: A lot of pressure on this judge, this judicial panel, to walk that tightrope. On the one hand, a concession like we just saw, the headdresses, allowing that. That might go a long way toward allowing the world to perceive this as being a fair proceeding.

If you go too far down that road, though, you could lose control of this courtroom.

NEWTON: Well, again, you're right. That's a line to walk. I was impressed so many times with these judges. They would come in, they would have notes, they would be very prepared. We would use very different vocabularies because, of course, I come from a different legal background. But ultimately, as we began to talk through specific issues and hypotheticals, we would almost always get to exactly the same legal conclusions, using very different vocabularies.

These people understand the rule of law. They understand these rules. And I believe they will apply them to the very best of their ability.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, thank you very much for your time, Mr. Newton.

I hope you'll stay close by, because I think as time goes on here, your insights will help us quite a bit -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it's going to be a fascinating study of international law and also, specifically, this tribunal that's been set up.

We have been watching this tape -- as you can see there the judge who is in charge. And we want to remind you that we're going to continue to update the tapes that we get as we get them. They're on a 30-minute delay, so we watch the tape for about 30 minutes, and then a new -- take a break, a new tape comes in.

But we saw something really just fascinating just within about a minute of Saddam Hussein making his appearance before the judge.

We want to play that exchange for u.

Let's listen.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Saddam, we ask you only now to prove your full name, your title, your profession. Then you will be given a chance to talk. Now is the time to take down the notes as of the I.D. card. I'd like not to be talking to you with this method. As for other issues, god only knows.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Saddam, however, we need the I.D. card. We need your full name. I hear you and I understand you. And, also, we will listen to you when there's time for us -- when time is there for us to hear from you. Now, we need the I.D. card, the full name, then you will hear the rules of procedure and then you will be given time to talk.

Please tell me who are you and what are u.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First give us your I.D. card.



AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We are a criminal court.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We are the criminal court in Iraq. So please, you -- you were not just -- these issues have nothing to do with you, sir.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You can formally present anything you like and now we don't have any time to go into these details. I am here in the building of the military industry as of 2:30, as of 2:30, as of 2:30. And since 9:00 and I'm dressed up. One time, take off your clothes; another dress up. Until I can sit down and...


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): ... you know me. If you're an Iraqi, then you know.


AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Everybody knows I don't get tired. You know that. You can sit down so that we can...

HUSSEIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I am commenting on your request for the I.D. card, in response to what you asked. But the coalition...

AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Saddam, we need the I.D. card. These are formalities.

HUSSEIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): No -- they told me no talk, no paper. No paper, no pen. The pen and paper are scary now.

Please, sir, I don't harbor any hatred to any of you but holding onto the right and respect -- out of respect to the Iraqi people for choosing me. And I say I don't answer this, what is called a court, with all due respect. And I reserve my constitutional right as the president of the country of Iraq.

AMIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): So please, you have time. This is not the time.

HUSSEIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I will not go along.

Just to comment on your own talk, you asked for my I.D. But this is a formality of the court. Therefore I don't acknowledge neither the entity that authorized you nor the aggression, because everything that's based on falsehood is falsehood.


You can sit down, please.

Mr. Awad?


S. O'BRIEN: You've been listening to a fascinating exchange between Saddam Hussein and the presiding judge, of five judges. That was Rizgar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd who is leading these five judges in this trial.

And now what you're watching is the next round of videotape that's coming to us on a 30-minute delay out of Baghdad.

We want to get right to Jane Arraf.

She's formerly CNN's Baghdad bureau chief, has been covering Iraq for more than a decade, now, shortly, only with the Council of Foreign Relations, on a short leave.

Thank you for coming in to talk to us about it.


S. O'BRIEN: It's just fascinating.

When you saw Saddam Hussein really having a back and forth, challenging the judge, what was your take on that?

ARRAF: Well, the pictures are absolutely riveting. It's really hard to explain the impact this man had on Iraqis. I mean we know that he held that country under very tight control. But this was a man who had so much power, Iraqis genuinely believed he was, perhaps, supernatural. That was the way he was able to stay in power.

And here he is, an ordinary man in an ordinary courtroom, professing to be the president of Iraq, still being treated as a criminal. This is absolutely extraordinary.

Extraordinary, as well, that this shows that despite the chaos, despite the turmoil, despite the violence, they are able to put on this trial.

S. O'BRIEN: You see the judge being incredibly confident. I mean he almost is smiling through a lot of that exchange, frankly, waiting for him to finish. And when it becomes clear, after a good four or five minutes, that he's not going to give his name and I.D. he sort of moves on.

That's a very big step, not only for the judge to reveal his identity, but also to have that kind of an attitude, I guess, with the former leader of Iraq.

ARRAF: There are a lot of pitfalls here, potential pitfalls. The first one I thought he crossed beautifully when some of the defendants asked for their headdresses to be put back. And that's not just a religious thing. It's a cultural thing. And had that not happened, it would have gone to the heart of what Iraqis still feel is this intense humiliation. Even those who are glad Saddam is gone, glad that the U.S. launched that war. They still feel humiliated at the occupation.

He seems to be setting the tone for a certain amount of respect, as well as control. Obviously in control of that courtroom, despite Saddam.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, clearly.

We heard Saddam Hussein say, "I am not going to answer what's being called a court. I reserve my right as -- my constitutional right as the president of Iraq to speak, to address the court." And that, of course, was shot down.

ARRAF: It was. He doesn't seem to understand that there's a new constitution. There's one being drafted. This is a new Iraq. He doesn't really have the rights that he had as president.

But, again, we have to remember, that this is man who is used to commanding immense respect, immense -- anything he wants. He used to appear on television and speak for hours about the minutiae of daily life.

For him to be told he cannot speak must be a severe blow.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, one, and it seems like it from his reaction, as well.

There, of course, was a lot of debate over whether this trial should be held locally, or if it should be held at the Hague and be held as an international war tribunal to charge him with crimes against humanity.

Do you think that there is, depending, of course, obviously, on how it all ends up, but it could cause some big problems. I mean a lot of these judges really are not well trained yet, on both sides, the judges and, also, the lawyers, in how to handle a trial of this magnitude, this importance, and also just logistically how to do it.

ARRAF: It's very difficult. You're absolutely right. But this sends such a powerful message in a country, in a region, where so much depends on symbols. This is a country that has been able to pull off this trial. This is a man who committed the crimes they believe he committed in that country. And they want not only justice, but they really want vengeance.

If you get to the heart of it, what Iraqis want is revenge, and they're not going to feel that they have justice or vengeance or anything that will bring them any sort of closure if he's very far away in The Hague or somewhere like that. It has to be done at home.

S. O'BRIEN: You say it's a country that really is looking to symbols here. And, of course, many people have pointed to the focus of this trial, which, of course, is the massacre of Dujail as maybe not the thing to focus on. Some have felt badly that this is the first trial; that it almost doesn't go far enough; 150 people were killed. And they say, well, that's almost not enough to try Saddam Hussein on first. But, of course, there are logistical reasons for taking this on.

ARRAF: This might be the beginning of a very long road. You're absolutely right. There are approximately 11 cases that are being investigated, many of them with much more of a loss of life. But this was the one that they felt they had a solid case on. It's relatively clear-cut. They had the evidence there. And it's the one they felt they could proceed with. And, again, this may go on for months and years.

S. O'BRIEN: How fascinating is this to watch for you? I mean, you've covered this region since '91 and, of course, had been the bureau chief for years and years. What's it like to watch this?

ARRAF: It is absolutely extraordinary. I still cannot get my mind around the fact that this is the same man who so terrorized that country and kept it under such tight control.

We've seen the evolution of Saddam. Do you remember the pictures when they brought him up from the hole? And there, Iraqis couldn't believe that this man, who was hiding in a hole, was the same man who had terrorized them.

So, to see him now in this courtroom an ordinary man quibbling about being kept waiting is almost beyond belief.

S. O'BRIEN: We're looking at some new pictures coming in to us as we've been talking with Jane Arraf, the former Baghdad bureau chief, and now with the Council on Foreign Relations. New pictures. Of course, a 30-minute delay of what's happening in the court, but these are new to us, and we're showing them to you -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, let's try to help our viewers here for just a moment, because, quite frankly, we're having a little bit of difficulty identifying some of these suspects. We have very old pictures in some cases. These people have changed. We believe the person standing right now is Abdullah Ruwayyid, who was the ranking member of the Baath Party in the Dujail region, that Shiite enclave predominantly back in 1983, where the crimes that are alleged to have been committed occurred.

You see three tiers of pens. Saddam Hussein in that first tier. Barazan al-Tikriti, I believe, right beside him there.

Also among those who are defendants, Taha Yassin Ramadan, former vice president.

We also saw standing Awad al-Bandar, a judge whose court actually passed those death sentences, some 140-150 of them, in the wake of that assassination attempt in Dujail.

Additionally, the Ruwayyids -- Abdullah al-Ruwayyid, a ranking member of the Baath Party, his son, Mizhar al-Ruwayyid, who was a civil servant. And then also Ali Dayim Ali, a civil servant. And Mohammed Azawi, a farmer.

Those are all of the defendants here.

And Octavia Nasr has been watching this for us. She is our senior editor for Arab Affairs.

And, Octavia, just help people out here as we watch this 30- minute delayed tape turn, if you will, coming from this courtroom, which ironically comes from the building, which was the central command headquarters for the Baath Party at one time. The fact that they are here receiving justice adds another layer of irony to it.

Explain the difficulties just sort of because there has been so much secrecy. A lot of it to do with security surrounding this trial. We're sort of trying to figure out who is who right now.

OCTAVIA NASR, SENIOR EDITOR, ARAB AFFAIRS: Right. We also -- these people have changed quite a bit. So, even if we had seen them earlier in hearings, they have changed quite a bit. And, of course, some of them, we're used to seeing them with a headdress, the traditional headdress. And they came in without it. Then they requested it.

And now, you can tell, for example, that this is the half-brother of Saddam Hussein that's speaking that -- here he is. That is Barazan Hasan. This is the half-brother and adviser to Saddam Hussein when Saddam Hussein was in power.

So, it is a bit difficult to tell. The camera shot is, of course, a bit far away from the faces. But right now, we were able to identify all of them.

Of course, there are key defendants here: Saddam Hussein, of course; and his former vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan; his half- brother, Barazan Hasan; and the judge of the Revolutionary Court, Awad Bandar. These are the main defendants. These are the ones who are getting also a lot of attention on Arab media.

The others are kind of, you know, players. They were Baath Party members, officials, in Dujail. So, you know, they played a role, but the key defendants are the first four that I mentioned.

You talked about the symbolism and the irony of certain things here. I personally noticed a few other symbolic elements here. First of all, the building. This used to be one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. He used to -- reportedly, he used to keep presents in that building -- presents that he got from world leaders and others. He used to keep them in that building.

Also, the judge. This is a judge who is a Kurd. The charges that Saddam Hussein faces in this trial are crimes against Shia in the city of Dujail. And here, the court chose a Kurd to preside over the proceedings. That is very symbolic. Some people would say that was done on purpose to bring in fairness to the courtroom. Others will say that was done to upset Saddam Hussein even more. It's hard to tell what was the reason behind choosing this judge in particular. You may remember in the old hearings that, you know, when we saw Saddam Hussein earlier, we saw him with a young judge, Raed al-Juhi. Very young. He sort of overpowered him at times. Here, you're looking at a judge who is gray. Very symbolic. They chose someone who is a Kurd, someone who is a little bit older, someone who is either Saddam Hussein's age or maybe a little older.

But basically, this is to quiet down the critics that said that the judge, Juhi, was very young. He didn't have much experience. Also he's a Shia, so he wouldn't be able to be fair in this trial.

So, a lot of symbolism as we watch these images. There are so many clues for us to look at and sift through and to analyze, but definitely a lot, a lot of symbolism.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, let me ask you this, Octavia, because, of course, many of the atrocities -- not the atrocities which are the focus of the trial today -- but many of the atrocities were leveled at the Kurds. And thus, it could, in some respects through some views, certainly through Sunni eyes -- a Sunni set of eyes, might take these proceedings in some cases. Wouldn't it be better to find a Sunni judge and then take that element away?

NASR: Well, the problem is, you know, for anyone who is going to preside over this trial is going to have -- is going to have some kind of problem that someone is going to have with. You have to remember, Saddam Hussein's crimes were committed against Kurds. They were committed against Shiites. They were committed against Sunnis that opposed him.

So, really, it's going to be hard to find any Iraqi that will satisfy the -- you know, the critics and that will be, you know, someone that will be accepted by everybody. Someone at some point is going to have a problem with anybody that this tribunal was going to pick.

The main problem, the critics of this tribunal don't necessarily have an issue with the presiding judge. They have an issue with the entire tribunal. They say that this was a tribunal set up by the U.S. with help from the U.S., monetary and advisory and otherwise. They're saying that the U.S. continues to support his tribunal, continues to give it support and advice and backing and oversight.

So, the critics are more addressing this issue rather than the judge himself. But certainly, the judge being a Kurd, puts him, you know, in the highlight as someone who cannot be fair.

But I have to tell you, watching the proceedings, as they just went before our eyes, is very telling about this judge. This is someone who tried to give and take. He could have shut Saddam Hussein up from the beginning. He could have told him, you have no right to speak. If you're going to continue like this, we're going to ask you to sit down. He let him. He told him, you're going to have the chance to speak later on. For now, all you need to do is just give me your name as it appears on your I.D. card. He told him, this is standard procedure. He was trying to be very helpful and very fair.

M. O'BRIEN: Octavia, thank you very much. Back with you in just a little bit.

I think we have some audio troubles that we had rectified, and we're able to listen. So, let's listen. I believe what they're talking about right now -- and these are, you know, mundane matters that happen at the beginning of any trial really no matter where they are -- issues of representation. Who is representing whom? Let's listen.

All right. Our timing is such that we're not going to get a little sense of that. If we hear them talking, we'll stop, and we'll listen in.

Michael Scharf is a professor of law at Case Western Reserve University. He helped train the judges you see on the panel and the prosecutors of this special tribunal. He joins us now from Cleveland.

Good to have you back with us this morning, sir. The chief judge, Rizgar Mohammed Amein, what do we know about him?

MICHAEL SCHARF, LEGAL ADVISER TO HUSSEIN TRIBUNAL: Oh, let me tell you a little bit about Judge Amein. He was one of the judges that we spent several weeks training, both in London and Stratford- upon-Avon last year. One of the points that was made earlier is that these judges aren't well-trained. I want to take issue with that.

In fact, these judges probably have more training than any judges ever in the history of this planet for a war crimes trial. They have been trained over a period of a year in London, Syracuse, Sicily, The Hague, Stratford-upon-Avon, and they're having daily sessions in Baghdad.

This particular judge was an interesting choice, because the Iraqi judges generally are pretty aggressive. They're natural litigators. But of all of the judges, this one, Judge Amein, struck me as the one that was the most laid-back. He has a very gentle demeanor, a great sense of humor. You see that he smiles a lot.

And I think they chose him not just because he's a Kurd and distinguished looking with gray hair, but because he will be so patient that no one will say that he is giving Saddam Hussein an unfair trial.

M. O'BRIEN: Who made the choice then? Who actually made the decision that he would sit there as the chief judge?

SCHARF: Well, the Iraqi Special Tribunal is independent. And they have a panel of five judges, and those five judges get to select their presiding judge. So, his own colleagues decided that he was the man for this job.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. So, his temperament appears to be patient. And right off the bat, his patience was put to the test. Saddam Hussein trying to get right up on that soap box, trying to read from the Koran and offering up a fair amount of argumentation over trivial matters like I.D. cards.

SCHARF: Right. And one of the things this judge was able to do is make the decision about whether or not these trials should be televised, and whether his face and his own voice should be shown, because there were a lot of people who thought for security reasons they shouldn't do either.

He made those decisions because he wanted the Iraqi people to see the minutia of this trial, including just this regular process of asking ordinary questions to show that this is a case that is going to be governed by the rule of law, and that there will be transparency. So that there won't be any questions about whether there was fairness or not. The people will see the process from the beginning to the end, and they'll know that it's fair.

M. O'BRIEN: Mr. Scharf, I'll tell you what, we're going to listen for a second. I think we've got some audio now.

All right. And once again my timing is impeccably bad. Michael Scharf, let's talk a little bit about the process here. You say that many of these judges are prosecutorial, accusatorial, whatever the case may be. And we should let our viewers know, those of us accustomed to the U.S. system, that that is actually the role of a judge in this system. It is much more of an inquisition-type of judge process as opposed to an adversarial between prosecutor and defense.

Are we hearing something now, by the way? Hang on one second.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mohammed Azawi Ali. 1943. And citizenship.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. We -- as they go through the mundane issues there of identifying themselves, who they're represented by, this question of how the proceeding works. There is no jury here. It's not necessarily to be viewed as prosecutor versus defense as it is a judge and a panel of judges in this case. Interesting we're not seeing the other judges. I'll ask you about that in a second. But asking questions from the bench.

Is this particular judge, the chief judge, is he well-suited for that?

SCHARF: Well, I think that Judge Amein is very well-suited for this. And we've also during our training sessions had mock trials, where we presented the judges, including Judge Amein, with the scenario of a very uncooperative witness or an uncooperative lawyer. And that's not to say that we actually used the name Saddam Hussein or the actual situation to prejudice the case. We used fictional names. But he has prepared himself for just this type of situation.

And as you pointed out earlier, this trial is very different than what you normally see in America. This is the civil law system that you have in France and about half of the countries of the world, where the judges actually do all of the questionings of the witnesses. And so, you may see some of the lawyers be given permission to ask questions directly of the witnesses. But ordinarily, that is the role in the civil law system of the judge, not the lawyers.

M. O'BRIEN: Tell me what you told him and what your advice was to him as you went through those mock trials and how to handle uncooperative witnesses.

SCHARF: Well, one of the things that we discussed at great length is the tension between being too overbearing and overly heavy- handed and being too loose and lax and letting them disrupt the proceedings and hijack the case. And it's a very fine line to walk. It's a line that they've had trouble with up at The Hague in dealing with Slobodan Milosevic. At times, the judges have yelled and screamed at him. That makes the trial look unfair. At times, they've let him get away with literally murder, making political statements.

They've done a better job in the Rwanda tribunal. And we used that precedent and looked very carefully at how those judges kept control of their proceedings.

And so, what's interesting here is that these judges are looking at the proceedings of other international trials. And one of the questions they asked me is, if in 20 years I was training other judges for another tribunal, would we be talking about the Iraqi Special Tribunal proceedings as precedence? And I think that shows the kinds of thinking that these judges have, especially Judge Amein, about their legacy, which is an indication of their fairness.

M. O'BRIEN: So, they get it. They understand that in many respects they are on trial as well.

SCHARF: Yes. As Mike Newton said when he quoted the famous Jackson statement, cases are tried by courts, but cases also try the court itself.

And, in fact, this is a very new kind of court. It's not an international tribunal. It's not a domestic tribunal. It's an internationalized domestic court. They're using international rules of procedure and international crimes, but they're trying it with domestic judges.

And this may be an experiment that catches on and is used throughout the Middle East and throughout the world as one more mechanism in the fight against impunity.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, you were among the people early on who suggested this trial should not occur on Iraqi soil. You've kind of changed your mind over the course of time. Why did you feel that way at the outset? And why did you change your mind?

SCHARF: Well, I've spent the last decade being a very strong advocate of international trials when they are appropriate. But there's a sense, even with the International Criminal Court, that it should be a court of last resort. If you can try a case domestically, they are many advantages that are better than an international trial. In this case, there really wasn't much of a choice, because the Security Council at the U.N. was unable to set up a trial for Saddam Hussein before an international tribunal, because France and Russia made it known that they would veto such an effort by the United States.

The permanent International Criminal Court was not available because its statute has a provision that says that it cannot try any cases that occurred before July 1, 2003. And therefore, the only alternative was a domestic trial, but this was the best way to conduct a domestic trial by layering the international system on top of the ordinary Iraqi criminal code.

M. O'BRIEN: As we look at that video, by the way, I want to remind you, it says "new video," not live there, because this happened about 30 minutes ago. There is no live transmission in this courtroom. You just saw Mohammed Azawi Ali sit down in the back bench. Three tiers of caged-like seating areas. Beside him is Barazan Ibrahim al-Hasan.

And as the judge, Judge Amin, continues to go through the preliminary proceedings here, I've got to admit, Mr. Scharf, that at the beginning it seemed almost comical to ask Saddam Hussein for his I.D.

SCHARF: Right. Well, these are the stages that you go through in a court. And you have to establish the rule of law bit by bit.

It also is a way of telling Saddam Hussein that, look, you're just an ordinary criminal defendant here. You're no longer the president, numero uno, in the world of Iraq. You're going to be governed by regular ordinary laws, and those laws require you to come to court with an I.D. and state your name just like any other defendant.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Michael Scharf, stay close by, because you are a great source of insight for us and background on exactly what's going on in there.

Let's go to Soledad now.

S. O'BRIEN: And, in fact, let's bring in Jane Arraf once again as we watch this new videotape that's coming to us on a 30-minute delay.

We heard just a moment ago that perception is critical in the sense that there this transparency, which is part of the reason that they're televising these proceedings, one would imagine. How unusual is it that something of this magnitude and importance is being televised?

ARRAF: It's very unusual. Last time that he was on trial there was an attempt to very tightly control what it is that viewers actually saw. They made clear, for instance, they did not want his voice to be heard; that they were happy to see the images of him in shackles being led into and out of the courtroom. But they didn't want his impassioned arguments to inspire people in the Arab world and in Iraq.

This time around, we're getting much more of a candid view. Even though it is a 30-minute delay, as we're seeing, even though it is a little difficult to follow, it's absolutely extraordinary that Iraqis are being given this glimpse of their former president, now treated as a common criminal in a court in their own country.

S. O'BRIEN: You talked about a sense of revenge that you said basically the Iraqi people want revenge against Saddam Hussein for these atrocities for which he's now standing trial by starting with the massacre of Dujail. Do you miss that? Because it's not the big one. It's not the most notorious of all of the crimes that are alleged against him.

ARRAF: I think what happened in Dujail Iraqis would feel is representative of what happened across the country to Kurds, to Christians, to Sunnis, to Shias. These are people whose families were killed, whose sons, whose fathers, whose brothers were taken away for political reasons.

And I think to some extent that feeling still exists in Iraq, that there is an Iraqi identity that's been forged through all of that blood, through all of that tortured history. And part of it is a shared suffering under Saddam.

So, I think everyone else will probably get their day in court, and they expect to. I don't think there's a huge resentment that they're focusing to begin with on this.

S. O'BRIEN: Will they get their day in court? Because the way it works, I mean, he could get, if he's convicted, death. Do you think they will seek death for this if he's convicted?

ARRAF: They will seek death likely at some point down the road. It's still up in the air as to whether they would seek the death penalty immediately if he's convicted of this one, or whether they would go on to the other cases.

S. O'BRIEN: Because there are certainly some rules in which that sentence would have to be carried out. So, you limit yourself, the judges do, to 30 days after he'd be sentenced, let's say hypothetically, to death, which would compromise any other trials that could be following.

ARRAF: Absolutely. There is also the complication that some in Iraq have said that they should not seek the death penalty. The president of Iraq, for instance, says they he would not sign the warrant. There are all sorts of ways to impose a death penalty and not carry it out in the end.

S. O'BRIEN: What's the reaction among the Iraqi people? Are there any fears of any violence, Sunni-Kurd violence, as they watch this, especially focusing on this particular massacre here?

ARRAF: It's bound to increase tensions to the extent that a lot of Sunnis already obviously feel that they have been cut out of the process; that they don't have a place in this new Iraq. And this to many of them -- and we have to say it's not quite that simple. It's not just Sunnis who identify with Saddam. There are a lot of Iraqis who think of Saddam, as much as they may have hated him, as actually a better time in Iraq compared to what they have now.

But it depends on how the trial goes. If they feel he's treated unfairly, if they feel he's humiliated particularly, if they feel that this is a court under U.S. occupation...

S. O'BRIEN: As much as they hate him?

ARRAF: As much as they hate him. It's incredibly complicated.

S. O'BRIEN: Humiliation is key.

ARRAF: Incredibly surprising. You still meet people in Iraq who swear that they would prefer to have Saddam back. People whose own families were affected by Saddam.

S. O'BRIEN: The lawyer, Saddam Hussein's lawyer, has made it pretty clear that he is expecting that he's going to call for a delay. The length of the delay has been anywhere from a couple of months to three months. Who knows if it could be six months? We've heard that as well. Do you think that is likely? Because today is going to be the first day that we hear the official reading of the charges against Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants. Do you expect that all of this that we're watching -- and, again, it's not live, it's videotape coming on a 30-minute delay. Do you expect that that's going to come to a halt when his lawyer says, I want more time to prepare?

ARRAF: It would be difficult for them not to have an adjournment, not to give them more time to prepare. Otherwise, it really would not be seen as a fair and credible trial. They haven't had a lot of time. They haven't had a lot of -- they haven't had a great ability to prepare. His defense has been in disarray. He started out with 1,500 lawyers all over the world, and he's down to this. It seems quite likely that they will adjourn for some weeks, if not months.

S. O'BRIEN: It's his daughter who is overseeing, who has no legal history whatsoever, but who is overseeing her father's defense team. What do you know about her?

ARRAF: I've actually met her. We interviewed her after she and her sister went to Jordan after the war. An extraordinary person. Both of them are. She's very, very strong.

When I did the interview with her, which was the first interview that she had done ever, in fact, she was very clear that she felt that this man, who she knew as a loving father, was really being treated unfairly. And she has continued to take that stand, overseeing his defense, making some of the key decisions. She has no legal training, that's true. But she is a woman with a strong sense of the way she feels things should go.

S. O'BRIEN: Jane Arraf, of course, with the Council on Foreign Relations, on leave from CNN, where she's been the Baghdad bureau chief.

You saw right there, as we dip into black for just a moment, that the feed, this videotape that we've had sent into us here, has just finished. It's just wrapped up, which means we're waiting for the next tape, 30-minute tape or so. We're going to be turning -- this is a new videotape that's coming in -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. And while we're waiting for that, we're seeing some pictures, which were fed down earlier, just to clarify. A little bit confusing. All kinds of time shifting going on here.

When we say "new video" in the upper left part of your screen, that is what it means; that it's coming in just about 30 minutes after it happened. What we're seeing here now is stuff which came down just a little while ago, just to give you a sense of what is going on in the courtroom.

Let's bring back Mike Newton into the mix here. He teaches law at Vanderbilt University. And he was part of the establishment of this Iraqi Special Tribunal and helped train these judges. We've talked to two of the judge trainers.

As they go through this portion of the trial, which, you know, by any stretch is a mundane portion of a rather extraordinary trial, Mike, I'll tell you what. I'm going to hold off here for just a moment, because to explain one more thing to our viewers.

Christiane Amanpour, our senior international correspondent, is inside the courtroom. When there's a break, as there is right now, she's able to get outside and get onto a telephone and join us and give us a sense of what it's like to be there, right there in the room.

Christiane, just set the scene for us. We've been seeing it by videotape, but I imagine it's rather extraordinary being there.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can imagine with all of the anticipation, with all of the preparation we've done, with all of the security clearances and the top secrecy around this trial, when we got in there and we saw the defendants coming in, including Saddam Hussein, it was incredibly frustrating not to be able to hear at all his encounter and exchange with the judge.

Now, apparently that was broadcast. But because of audio difficulties, there was no ability for us to hear it. But we have had a subsequent translation of a little about what he said to the judge when the judge asked him first to identify himself and describe his profession.

He basically said that I hold on to my constitutional rights as president. He wouldn't give his name or profession. He basically said that he did not recognize the jurisdiction of the court. He said that this was false. Whatever is built on something false is itself false. He said, I'm still the president of Iraq. He again, as he did back in July of 2004 when he had his first hearing, he kept referring back to the Iraqi people, saying that I cannot disrespect the will of the Iraqi people who made me president. He again said that today.

The judge could not get his name or profession out of him. But then he, the judge, read for the record Saddam Hussein's name. He read his name. And he said that he was the former president of Iraq, the former leader of the Revolutionary Command Council and the former head of the Iraqi armed forces.

And Saddam Hussein interrupted him several times. Now, we could hear what was going on. And he said that no, I am the president of the Iraqi Republic. He said to the judge, you are saying just what you want. I did not say what you are saying. And then he said, I am not a collaborator.

His main point of defense is that he does not recognize this tribunal. His lawyers have told us that they do not recognize it, and that that will be his main point of defense: that he is being tried essentially illegally.

Nonetheless, the judge proceed. He read out the charges against Saddam and the other seven defendants in there in connection with the massacre after an attempted ambush on his motorcade in the village of Dujail in 1982.

The charges are, broadly, killing and murder, forced expulsion, the imprisonment of people, as well as torture and the failure to comply with international law.

He then read from other parts of the Iraqi legal charter and said that the death penalty would go to anyone who is found guilty of killing intentionally.

He also read Saddam Hussein and the other defendants their rights, that they are equal before the court, that they are considered innocent until convicted by the court, that every defendant has a right to a public trial, a fair and honest trial, to know the details of their crime, and to be given enough time and facilities to prepare their defense and contact their lawyers.

Well, Saddam Hussein's lawyer is going to contend -- and he told us yesterday -- that he would ask for a three-month adjournment, at least a three-month adjournment, and he will focus on the fact, he says, they have not had the correct time to prepare, nor are the defense team experienced in this kind of very highly sensitive case of international law, and they're going to try to get an adjournment.

There was quite a bit of back and forth between the judge and some of the other defendants, including Saddam's half brother, his former vice president, again, about the -- mostly about procedure. But Saddam Hussein is definitely being -- it's not outright defiant, just basically saying that he does not recognize this court.

In terms of dress, as you've probably seen on the tape, all of the defendants are wearing the Arab dishdasher, except one has a blue jumpsuit on, and Saddam Hussein, who's, again wearing the gray suit, white shirt, socks and leather shoes that he has done in his previous court appearances. The others are all wearing plastic sandals.

Back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Christiane, help us out here, because what we're seeing now as you spoke is more new video, which means this is something that occurred about 30 minutes ago. What is happening in the courtroom right now?

AMANPOUR: (INAUDIBLE) any broadcasting facilities there, in terms of a telephone or anything. I have come out. But what you see is a 30-minute delay in the proceedings. All throughout the day, you will see a 30-minute delay.

I'm now going to go back into the court and listen to more of the court proceedings and wait to see if Saddam Hussein makes any more statements, and if his lawyer, in fact, does ask for this continuance, this adjournment and see how that is responded to.

M. O'BRIEN: Christiane Amanpour who is there inside this courtroom and is headed back in.

And we should tell you that the trial is under way. It's extraordinary to see what we are seeing here, and this -- these images must really resonate all throughout Iraq and the Arab world, as Saddam Hussein and seven others, who are brought to trial on an offense stemming from an incident 23 years ago in the Shiite enclave, Shiite town of Dujail. Saddam Hussein supposedly with an impromptu visit to that town, an assassination attempt at that time. And the crimes that are alleged have to do with the retribution which followed, about 150 men and boys hung in the wake of that in retribution, in addition to many other acts of reprisal.

Saddam and some of his key leaders, his former vice president, his half-brother, as well as some of the Baath Party officials from this part of the world, Dujail, are on trial, and what we've been witnessing are the mundane beginnings of a rather extraordinary event.

Let's try to listen in one more time, to see if we can capture what is going on in the courtroom.

JUDGE RIZGAR MOHAMMED AMIN (through translator): As for the ideas of Mr. Saddam Hussein and Mr. Taha, we have been -- we have taken (INAUDIBLE) during the investigation, so we could look at that.

S. O'BRIEN: You were just hearing a moment ago from the judge, referring to back what he saw really at the top of the hour.

Welcome to those who are joining us for this special edition of AMERICAN MORNING, as we cover Saddam Hussein's trial just getting under way.

What we saw about an hour ago was Saddam Hussein and the judge really getting into it over a request the judge was making about an identification. Now the judge -- and this is a 30-minute delay video that's coming into us, that we're showing you, new videotape you can see there, the judge saying they have previously taken, in fact, Saddam Hussein's identification, and so it sounds as if he is saying that that will be good enough to get -- as we've been pointing out -- really the procedures under way as they begin this trial.

Today, we are supposed to hear the official charges read, but right now, it sounds almost as if they are just checking in with each of the eight overall defendants, Saddam Hussein and seven co- defendants, in this massacre that is now the focus of this trial today.

Let's go through some of the co-defendants. Miles, you were talking about some of them a moment ago. And beyond Saddam Hussein, there are seven others. Abdullah Ruwayyid, as we mentioned, former local Baath Party official, and Dujail resident. And he was responsible for this area where in the end 150 mostly men and boys were massacred. Also the father of one of the men is there as well, as you can see in that pen. And he is accused of being instrumental in the coordination of the imprisonments that took place; 2,000 people rounded up and imprisoned and the executions that followed.

And then you have Barazan Hasan, half-brother and adviser to Saddam at the end of the rope, at the -- let's listen in for one more second as the judge addresses Saddam Hussein.

AMIN (through translator): I did not say, though, the deposed. This is in the -- you say what you say. But what -- when it's attributed to me, it has to -- this is not mine. The commander of the armed forces, the Iraqi armed forces, residents Iraq.

O'BRIEN: A quick explainer: As you can hear, as the procedure gets under way, the judge is addressing Saddam Hussein. These are not technical difficulties. They're actually not talking. They're moving very slowly. We're going to continue to dip in and out. Let's listen once again.

AMIN (through translator): Taha Yassin Ramadan, born 1939, vice president of the republic, the Iraqi -- the republic of Iraq, former vice president.

S. O'BRIEN: As we listen to Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, an ethnic Kurd, not only address Saddam Hussein, but also really run through and recount of the name of the seven other co-defendants who are sitting there with the former Iraqi leader.

Let's get right back to Christiane Amanpour who is inside the courtroom covering the trial and has stepped out for just a moment.

Christiane, we've heard that Saddam has now issued a plea. Is that correct?

AMANPOUR: Yes, just as I was out of the court talking to you and going back, it appears in the last few minutes, he has been asked to enter his plea. That's usual proceedings in courts like this after being read the charges, read their rights. The defendants were then asked to enter their plea. Saddam was the first to enter, and he pleaded not guilty, innocent.

Again, this is different to what he did back in July 2004, when he just simply wouldn't answer the charges or the substance of the matter before him.

But even though he has answered apparently entered a not guilty plea, he is, nonetheless, still defiant, not in terms of raising his voice or shaking his fist, but in terms of saying that he does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. He considers himself still protected by, he said, his constitutional rights as president, and he said, with due respect, I do not recognize this court, and he said, it is false, whatever is built on a false base is false. So that's the tact he's taking right now. The other seven defendants are also going to be entering their plea.

Saddam Hussein has not stirred each time he's been called on, and when there was a recess, because of huge technical difficulties with audio at the beginning, when the judges came back, everybody in the courtroom stood, except for Saddam Hussein.

So he is basically announcing to this proceeding that he doesn't recognize it, and we're waiting to see now when and if his lawyer will plea or ask for a continuance, a large request for an adjournment, as he told us he would yesterday.

S. O'BRIEN: We should mention, Christiane, that we're looking at new video, but because we're on a 30-minute delay, what you are describing, Saddam Hussein entering a not-guilty plea, is actually not what we're seeing right now. We should get that in about 30 minutes, as this tape is then on this delay. We are seeing right now the judge addressing individually, it seems, some of the defendants here.

And my question for you, Christiane, is give us a sense of the feel in the courtroom. You described Saddam Hussein as defiant. Is the mood and the tone in the courtroom one of control? It seems to be moving at a very slow and controlled pace from here.

AMANPOUR: Well, you know what, it really is a little bit of a muddle, to be very frank. At the beginning was a huge muddle. There was no audio that could be heard by the translators or by the press, and in fact it was difficult know what was going on. Now the translators are voluntary translators from the media organizations, local Arab workers here doing the translation, because there is no official English translation, which is extraordinary, frankly, in a trial of this magnitude, nothing official in English for the record. So we're getting the best translation we can essentially on the fly from some of the Iraqi workers who work for some of the newspapers here.

In terms of the atmosphere, there are 13 defense lawyers, there are eight defendants, including Saddam Hussein, four prosecutors, five judges, including the presiding judge, five clerks and about four guards inside with bulletproof vests, and there's a lot of attempts by the defendants to stand up and say their piece while the judge is trying to ask them to identify themselves and state their name for the record and their profession. A lot want to stand up and ask questions.

For instance, one of the defendants in this particular case is 90 years old. His named is Mohammed Azawi Ali. When he came in, he looked incredibly weak and frail. For some reason, he was the only ones whose hands were cuffed in front of him with melts cuffs. He could barely walk, and he was almost sort of brought shuffling and carried into the court. And he stood up at one point in a very frail, sort of high-pitched voice and complained, he said, what is this accusation? What have you got against me? I did nothing. And he, again, basically said that his documents had been confiscated, that he hadn't had a chance to see a lawyer, and so that was his point there.

But it's a little bit of confusion, as you can imagine, at the beginning. We're hoping that it sort of all irons out and moves slightly more smoothly in the following days if it continues now, or certainly in the weeks or months when the full trial starts again.

S. O'BRIEN: Among the seven co-defendants along with Saddam Hussein, many of them, of course, are Baath Party officials who were responsible for the Dujail region, which is, of course, where this massacre took place 20 some odd years ago.

Christiane, can you tell me of these other defendants, who is the most powerful and the most important?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think the people who are probably best known are Barazan of Tikriti. His real name is Barazan Ibrahim Al Hasan. He was the half-brother of Saddam Hussein. And also the chief of intelligence. And also Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was the deputy prime minister, vice president under Saddam Hussein, people who were very familiar to the world during the old days of Saddam's regime, and who, when they came into court, I mean, they're almost unrecognizable. In the previous days presumably, even though they were getting on, they had shots of black hair and black mustaches, that presumably were dyed. I mean, now they are closely shaven, close crop, very white, white hair, whatever mustache or facial hair they have is white, and they're wearing dishdashers, a completely different feeling than when they were all dressed up in their Revolutionary Guard regalia, if you like, the military uniform of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Saddam Hussein himself seems to have maintained his black hair. His beard in mustache are heavily flecked with gray. He looks a great deal weaker, I think, tired, more tired, slightly frailer than he did when I first saw him come to court for his initial hearing back in July of 2004. He was not wearing a dishdasher, but he was wearing a suit, as he did in the initial hearings, with the white shirt. And he's the only one who is wearing socks and leather shoes. The others are all wearing plastic sandals.

At one point, incredibly, some of the defendants, including his half brother, complains that the guards have taken away their tribal headgear. And the judge sort of agreed that this was unconscionable, they couldn't do that to, you know, an Arab traditional dress, and he ordered the guards to bring back all of the headgear. So for a few moments they were putting their headgear back on their head, all except Saddam Hussein. So there is some human moments. There is a lot of legal -- as you can imagine, obviously -- serious moments here. And still, in my view, an amount of confusion and quite a lot of veering off the point, so to speak, as the judge tries to rein in and keep control over eight defendants, some of whom simply want to have their say in court, and he keeps saying, it's not time for that yet.

S. O'BRIEN: The judge himself, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, an ethnic Kurd, as we have pointed out. You can see him right there on this new videotape that is coming to us on a 30-minute delay, and now it's back to sort of the holding pen for the defendants.

Tell us about the other judges, Christiane. We haven't seen pictures of them, and one has to assume it's because of the potential for death threats, if there hasn't already been some?

AMANPOUR: That's right. The presiding judge is the only one who has allowed his name to be published and used and his picture to be used. I hadn't realized that you couldn't see the other judges, but none of them want their names used, so we don't know their names, nor the clerks. I don't know if you can see the faces of the clerk who is sitting in front of the judges.

S. O'BRIEN: No, we have not.

AMANPOUR: They do not want their names -- yes, well, this is all because of security. And I must say there is a huge amount of security around this procedure as you can imagine. We, the press, have had very intense, somewhat intrusive, in fact, certainly non- American citizens, security clearances with all sorts of personal and private questions asked. Today, we gathered at about 7:30 or 8:00 and took about three hours to get here to the courtroom, inside the green zone. It itself is heavily fortified by concrete barriers all around it.

But this courtroom, which was the Baath Party, headquarters, has two rings of concrete walls around. There's the usual body searches and searches for equipment, but there are also these sort of what I call an X-ray, rays that are designed to detect whether you have anything on your person other than your clothes. You stand in a full revolving kind of chamber and they take these full body pictures of you. You're not allowed to bring anything into the court, not a pen, or rather anything into the courtroom room, not a pen, or a pad or paper. They provide us with that. We couldn't bring anything, except a basic I.D. and the clothes we were wearing. We were told that this is going to be even harder than getting into the White House today. That's according to the U.S. marshals who are in charge of security here approximate.

S. O'BRIEN: There are other onlookers, in addition to journalists, aren't there? And we've read the names of some, including Ahmed Chalabi and the prime minister as well, Al Jaafari, is that correct?

AMANPOUR: Well, the prime minister is not here. Three of his top advisers are here. But Ahmed Chalabi is here, so is the deputy speaker of the parliament, and so are other observers, including human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, we're told. We -- I saw them coming in, but we can't see them in the court, because they're in fact sitting in a gallery directly above the press gallery. So we haven't seen them.

But Ahmed Chalabi, as you know, was a key adviser to the U.S. administration in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq. He was then disfavored afterwards when no weapons of mass destruction were found. And he is a political survivor. He is in the government and he's here again in the forefront of this trial. He reminds us it was he who first called, or his party who first called, for an international court to hear the evidence against Saddam Hussein as far back as 1992. So for him this was a day that was a long time in coming.

S. O'BRIEN: Give me a sense of where you are in all of this, Christiane. You mentioned that there is sort of a lower level and a lower level. We're looking right now at that low, white sort of fenced-in pen area for the defendants. And it seems to me, frankly, as if sometimes they're moving, because we see them lined up with three in a row, two if in a row, three in a row, and then all of a sudden there's two in one row that just held three. Can you see all that from your vantage point, or are you relying on video feeds and audio feeds as well?

AMANPOUR: No, no, no, we're there. I think it's bulletproof. It's certainly soundproof glass between us and the defendants, us and the defendants, the prosecution, the defense witnesses, etcetera. But, in fact, they are two, I believe, in the front row and three each in the next two rows. I'm not in there at the moment because I'm on the phone, and we're not allowed to use the phone in there. I'm two floors down in a room that has been designed and designated as the press room, with telephones and computers. But Saddam Hussein and a fellow defendant who is Awad Hamed al-Bandar, who is a chief of the Revolutionary Court, that sentenced those people in Dujail to death, he and Saddam Hussein are sitting in front. And then behind them are Taha Yassin Ramadan and two other officials. And behind them are Saddam Hussein's half-brother Barazan Al Tikriti. And then the elderly man I was telling you, the 90-year-old man and another of the men, Baath Party officials at the time.

S. O'BRIEN: Christiane, they're reading the charges now, so let's pause for a moment. This is what you were reporting to us earlier, but because of the delay we're only getting this videotape now. Let's listen to the judge as the charges are read.

AMIN (through translator): ... torture also. And based on asking (ph) one or two of 15, the responsibility of the person individually of the committed crime, whether the crime was committed individually or in complicity with others, whether -- or whether he's -- or gave assistance or helped somebody else to commit this crime, or initiated, including supplying the means to commit a crime, or a group of people working jointly to commit a crime or initiated, either for committing a criminal activity as a group or initiating such an activity. This is article 12 and 15, and also based on the indictment that you were -- on which basis you are brought to this court. The article states that the aid (ph) -- the killing was deliberate, was predetermined, premeditated.

S. O'BRIEN: What you have seen is really quite a remarkable thing. This is the first time that there has been a public presentation of the charges against Saddam Hussein and his seven co- defendants in the massacre 23 years ago in Dujail in which almost 150 citizens of that region were tortured and then killed, it is alleged, at the hands of Saddam Hussein and some of the folks who worked for him.

And as we heard from the judge just a moment ago, before we lost our translation there, it is charged it was deliberate, that it was premeditated and preplanned.

We have heard from Christiane Amanpour, who is in the courtroom, that, in fact, the defendants have all filed -- have responded and entered their plea, Saddam Hussein entering a not guilty plea. We are watching new videotape, new to us, because this videotape coming out of the green zone in Baghdad is on a 30-minute delay, and so this, what you're seeing here happened about 30 minutes ago.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at the seating chart. We've bone doing our best to help you understand who's who in this courtroom, and just want to go through it very quickly for you so you can understand who is sitting where.

Screen right front and if he were -- you can see now right centered to the presiding judge, number one, of course, Saddam Hussein.

Right beside him is Awad Bandar. Awad Bandar is the judge, former chief judge, of the Revolutionary Court. He was the one who sentenced 143 of the Dujail people to death following that failed assassination attempt back in 1983. So very much at the center of the allegations here.

Going back to that second row, that's Abdullah Ruwayyid, who is a civil servant, a former Baath Party official, Resident of Dujail, responsible for the Dujail area where this massacre occurred. And he is the father of a co-defendant who is seated beside him by the name of Mizhar Ruwayyid, who is also a civil servant responsible for the Dujail area where this occurred back in 1983.

Seated left in the middle row there is Taha Yassin Ramadan. In the (INAUDIBLE) would be a bigger fish here. This is the former vice president of Iraq, former leader of the Popular Army, reported leader of the military action to crush Shia following the first Gulf War. Thousands killed there, allegedly oversaw the killing Of Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988. Several assassination attempts leveled at him. And was, in this case, the person who allegedly gave the order to wipe out the orchards in and around Dujail, raising the natural resources in order to drive the residents in poverty, all part of this retribution in the wake of that assassination attempt.

Last row, we have there Barazan Hasan, Saddam Hussein's half- brother. Barazan was head of the secret police during the Dujail executions. He supposedly commanded the forces that descended on Dujail as part of that retribution. He also faces trial for other alleged crimes.

Middle of the back row is -- and number seven on this illustration is Ali Dayim Ali. Ali Dayim Ali is a former Baath Party official responsible for the Dujail area at the time.

And finally left in the third row is Mohammed Azawi Ali, a farmer in the Dujail area, also a Dujail Baath Party official.

So people there with greater responsibility, all the way up to the president of Iraq, all the way down to farmers in the area who may have played a role in this massacre of some 150 men or boys and tortured of them in the wake of that assassination attempt -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And just a few minutes ago we heard the first public presentation of the charges. Let's listen to, for the first time, the entering of the pleas.

AMIN (through translator): Based on the court, we would -- each person will have to enter a plea.

Mr. Saddam, are you guilty or innocent?

SADDAM HUSSEIN, DEFENDANT (through translator): I said what I said, and I'm not guilty.

AMIN (through translator): Mr. Ruwayyid?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm innocent.

AMIN (through translator): Mr. Taha?

TAHA YASSIN, RAMADAN, DEFENDANT (through translator): Innocent. Innocent. Innocent. One word, innocent. Innocent, Mr. Judge. Innocent, God willing. Innocent, God willing.

S. O'BRIEN: A pretty remarkable moment as we heard the pleas innocent from all the defendants. Eight in all. Although, it's Saddam Hussein who said not guilty to the judge.

We've been watching a tape of what's going on in the courtroom and that, in fact, is where Christiane Amanpour is also watching this proceedings. Occasionally, when they take a recess, she's able to come out and talk to us by phone and fill us in. We're watching tape that is delayed by 30 minutes as the rules have been presented to us.

Let's get right to Nike Newton. He teaches law at Vanderbilt University. And he is one of those who helped the Iraqis establish this special tribunal. Also helped lead the training in international criminal law for the Iraqi judges and is an adviser to the tribunal as well. He's on the Vanderbilt campus in Nashville for us this morning.

It's nice to see you again.

A pretty remarkable moment that we saw, both in the official reading of the charges first and foremost, and then, of course, hearing from the defendants. MIKE NEWTON, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW EXPERT: Well, it is remarkable. It's important to remember that as you see all of those people sitting in the dock, they're bound together by the common as the charges said, by the common participation in this event. I want to just add and concur with something that Michael Scharf said about Judge Amin. He is thoughtful. He is patient. I would also say that he was extremely diligent in his preparation with regard to the substance of the law. These are complicated charges. And the Dujail case is a complicated case in some ways.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: How do you mean a complicated case? Some people have pointed to it as a very straightforward case and that's one of the reasons that it's going first.

NEWTON: Well, in this case, I think the Iraqis should be commended because they've learned one of the lessons in early tribunals was to what I call ambitious overcharging. They're trying to charge everything and so they ended up with unfocused cases that were difficult and cumbersome to process. This is a case that involves a relatively discrete set of events, but involves a very sophisticated application of law.

All these accused who sit in the dock are charged with a common plan or conspiracy, a common participation in these crimes against humanity. That means that they all conducted their activities as part of a deliberate attack against the civilian population. And it's important to remember that the only reason you could even consider this to be a minor case is when you look at it relative to the other things that happened under Baathist rule.

Here you had a quarter of a million acres razed. You had civilians who were executed, civilians who were tortured. There are Iraqi kids who grew up in concentration camps simply because they were from Dujail. Parts of the village were razed. This is an incredible case in isolation. It only can be termed a minor case when you look at it compared to other things that happened in Iraq.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: There are some who say that there are so many more notorious atrocities that maybe should have gone first because the way potentially, and maybe you could explain this, if indeed Saddam Hussein is convicted and if indeed he is put to death, there's a rule that he would have to have that sentence fulfilled within 30 days. Isn't that correct?

NEWTON: That is one of the provisions of the underlying Iraqi criminal procedure law is that capital punishments are imposed within 30 days. I think it's important to realize that, you know when we say "fair trial," the structure here guarantees all the full range of rights. It's a fair trial on paper.

And, in fact, what happened in this case is exactly what you would expect to happen with a fair trial process. Investigative judges took the evidence where it led them. When this case was ready, it happened to be the first one to be ready because the evidence is there, it's direct. And it proceeded to trial in an orderly, logical, progressive fashion. As we've heard this morning, there are at least 12 other cases under investigation which do involve other more widespread crimes committed across Iraq. But this is an excellent case to begin with in that sense because the evidence is there and Judge Raed Juhi, who was the earlier investigative judge, has compiled the case that is manageable for this court as a first case.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: We're getting new videotape, I should mention, out of Baghdad as they continue the proceedings. We've heard the charges announced and read against the defendants and we've heard the defendants also, just minutes ago, enter their pleas.

Let's continue though. You say 12 other cases. But if Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death, convicted and sentenced to death, hypothetical but some say it could very well happen, what happens to these 12 other cases if he has to, in fact, be put to death within 30 days of any conviction? It seems that you could have cases that involved big atrocities and it's awful to be sort of comparing atrocities, obviously, that could go unpunished? Is that what you're saying potentially?

NEWTON: Well, under Iraqi criminal procedure law, accused are collected in accordance to the activities that they participated in. So it's possible that Saddam would be charged in other cases, but not necessary either. The questions you're asking will all depend on what the judges decide, which is exactly what we mean when we say a fair trial process and one that accords with the rule of law. The judges here will make all of these ultimate decisions.

And this is what's very important to me, is that these are Iraqi decisions based on rebuilding the rule of law in Iraq, for Iraqis. Those are decisions that are properly made by those people in their circumstances. Imagine the reaction in Iraq if those decisions were made external to Iraq and superimposed on those people in a sort of a paternalistic way by an international community. I think it's much better to have them properly executing their own procedures in their own way.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: There are critics, as you well know, who say the process is created by the United States, funded well over $138 million I believe funded by the United States and essentially held up by Great Britain, Australia, and the United States. And that actually an international tribunal, those of which we're very familiar with in other cases and similar cases, would be a better way to go.

NEWTON: Well, the statute here allows for international judges, as well as international advisers and international experts. My sense is that the Iraqis would have welcomed international judges and no nation state was willing to provide. There were no international judges willing to assist. That's not required, however. This is an open and a transparent process that, in the end, I believe, will speak for itself.

And one thing that's very important to remember is that the real legacy of these trials is the rule of law in Iraq and in a broader Arabic world. One of the judges asked me one time if in another 30 or 40 years people would be studying their opinions in detail. And the answer is, of course, yes. Because this court and the rules require the production of very detailed legal opinions which you'll see. That's the real legacy of this court.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: So they clearly understand where they stand in their place in history, beginning today officially?

NEWTON: Oh, absolutely. One judge told me one time that he sees this process as being the doorway to the Arabic world. Remember that a lot of the key piece of the key court cases, for example, from The Hague have never even been translated into Arabic. They can't be studied in this part of the world unless people read the official U.N. languages. That's a major first step.

But not only the case law itself and the jurisprudence, but, in fact, a live, vivid demonstration so contrary to what happened so often under Baathist rule. Here we have a rule of law process that's driven by order and law and rules and procedures, and that's exactly what's happening this morning and what I expect to continue to happen through the remainder of these trials.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Orderly in spite of it seems like the best efforts of Saddam Hussein, who truly out of box. I mean, a minute into meeting with the judge was clearly being confrontational and trying to take a stand and get on the soap box and talk about issues that were more important to him.

NEWTON: Well, that's the most dramatic point of this trial is that Saddam, like all the other accused that you see sitting in the dock, is subject to the law. And that's the sound bite that can be most graphically demonstrated here. That's what will resonate throughout the entire Arabic world.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Mike Newton of Vanderbilt University, joining us with some legal analysis.

Mike, thank you.

MILES O'BRIEN: And I think Mike took us very definitely to a segue to Octavia Nasr, who is our senior editor for Arab affairs.

I thought that was an interesting way, a turn of a phrase saying that this trial is kind of a doorway to the Arab world. Why don't you elaborate on that point, Octavia. Do you see it that way, first of all?

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you watch Arab media closely and you listen to the Arab street around this trial, you certainly get that feeling. That would be an appropriate way to describe it.

People are watching this trial. They've been anxiously awaiting to see what's going to happen. This is the first time ever that an Arab leader faces justice, you know? This is something that is unheard of. This is something unthought of.

You know, I grew up in the Middle East, so I grew up with stories about the ruthlessness of Saddam Hussein as a good thing. We've seen many people flee Iraq to flee his torture and his harassment and so forth because they couldn't live with it. So these stories you grow up with these stories and you think you will never see a day when a leader such as Saddam Hussein with the might that this man used to carry around would be sitting as a defendant in a pen like this one, just an ordinary man, along with his aides as ordinary men, facing justice. So this is definitely a scene on the Arab street in the Arab media, anyone you talk to, it's seen as the beginning of something.

Now some people will say it's not necessarily something good, but it's definitely a doorway to something. But most people will say it's a doorway to something good. That maybe there's a lesson there to be learned by many people around the Arab world.

MILES O'BRIEN: Well, I guess it might be early to say to something good. Certainly it is our hope this morning that it leads to something good. As we look at these pictures, it occurs to me, Octavia, that you could watch this with the sound down and still get a lot of the message that you're talking about.

NASR: You do. You have to think of the people sitting down in a cafe somewhere in Baghdad or anywhere in the Middle East watching this unfold on television. I have to tell you, the Arab world is not a place where public hearings or courtroom proceedings are shown on television. So this is a first.

It's not just that the leaders are being tried for crimes that they allegedly committed when they were ruling the countries, but also to see them. Look at this cut-away, for example. You're looking at someone who ordered the killings of many. Someone who ordered the razing of land. Someone who ordered the progression of many just for the because they rebelled against Saddam Hussein.

And now they're reduced to this. They're sitting down facing a judge and listening to the charges. And all of them saying, I'm innocent. I had nothing to do with it. It's very interesting. And the Arab world is watching all this unfold in front of their eyes on television. Unheard of. Again, I mean that's the only word that keeps coming to my mind, unheard of and also unthought of.

MILES O'BRIEN: All right, let's move over to Aneesh Raman who is watching this. Octavia, stand by because we're going to get right back to you.

Aneesh Raman watching this from Baghdad. And I want to remind our viewers what's going on. We're watching new video. I believe that's still new video coming in. Yes, take that live bug out of there. This is new video. And we're watching the trial as it continues. Saddam Hussein, seven co-defendants have all pleaded not guilty or innocent to the crimes that they are accused of here. Can we hear this? What's going on there? What is it?

AMIN (through translator): Sit down, please.

MILES O'BRIEN: This trial has proceed despite a series of technical snafus. I wish we could listen in to see what -- get a flavor of what's going on here. Let's try one more time.

AMIN (through translator): One case. It is the Dujail case. This is only the Dujail case. Everything else is irrelevant. Each case has its context.

MILES O'BRIEN: That was one of the defense lawyers, as you might of, you know, guessed given the tone there as he stands up and argues his point about this case and the validity of this case.

Now, let's get back to Aneesh. I'm sorry, Aneesh, we kind of got off into a little cul-de-sac there in the courtroom.

But can you do you have a sense from your perch and I know you've been kind of stuck watching the trial as well but do you have a sense as to how widely this is being viewed in Iraq right now? I mean, is everybody huddled around a television set or are they going on about their daily lives?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, undoubtedly, in certain areas, of course Iraqis are very closely watching this trial. As Octavia pointed out, this is something that was beyond their imagination and that they have been anticipating for quite some time. I recently was up in the village of Dujail, the place where this first case stems from, and they had extensive plans to make sure that they saw every minute of this first trial as it unfolded.

And for the Iraqis, this is incredibly fascinating. What we're seeing now, Miles, it's essentially a battle for control of these proceedings. We saw it at the beginning when Saddam Hussein, when asked for his name, embarked on a speech of sorts, questioning the legitimacy of both the court and also of the trial and the process by which it was created. We spoke to his lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi yesterday and he alluded to the fact that part of the defense strategy will be to question the entire war, the U.S.-led war in Iraq. They will say that that was illegitimate. So from false pretense this court was born.

Also interesting to note, who are the people that we're seeing? We've seen that presiding judge. Also we believe this man with the red ribbons down the sides is Jaafar Al-Moussawi, the chief prosecutor. And we also saw, of course, the defense lawyers who were standing up. They were told and reminded by the judge that this trial is only on Dujail.

but the residents there are clearly are keen to see their former dictator come to trial. A man, Ali, that I spent extensive time when I was there, seven of his brothers were killed in the ensuing aftermath after that failed assassination attempt. He himself at age of 14 was put in prison. He was tortured. The memory still so pressing in their minds.

For other Iraqis, of course, you run the gamut in terms of opinion. There are those who see Saddam explicitly as part of the past. They want this country to move forward. They will undoubtedly watch today out of extreme curiosity. But this is the first of perhaps 12 trials. An incredibly lengthy process. And so, for Iraqis, they are more concerned with the present and with the future of where this country is headed. But the government has been keen to make sure that this trial is televised. To make sure that Iraqis can feel confident knowing that Saddam Hussein is no longer in control of anything in Iraq.

He is former president, despite his desire to be called president of Iraq. That he now faces justice. That there is no possibility whatsoever of him or his Baath Party returning to power. There had been some Iraqis who thought that was itself a legislate possibility.

And so they will be watching this trial. They have been keen to make sure as well that their former leaders or former dictator was not unnecessarily humiliated. We saw some calls for that when that video emerged after Saddam was found in that spider hole and was being looked at by doctors. So that's why I think we saw at the beginning of this the judge allowed these head scarves to be brought to the men, trying to make this as professional a setting as possible.

The Iraqi judges, the Iraqi prosecutors, they have never done anything like this before. And as we heard the guest say earlier, they are aware of the historical import of what is taking place here. Humanity itself is right now on trial. It is rare that we see it in this sort of setting where a judicial system judges, in terms of international law, what we as a collective society allow and what we do not. And so they are aware that it is not just Iraqis watching, but it is history that is recording every moment of this trial. As we look back at Nuremberg, undoubtedly years from now this trial will be looked back upon.

The import, of course, regionally, cannot be overstated. A leader in this part of the world facing the atrocities that he committed. And that is why Dujail, while comparatively small but individually atrocious as a crime, is presented first. They have direct evidence, the prosecution says, that links Saddam Hussein to the mass murder of those 143 men and boys. They will have to prove a chain of command. They will build a case starting with the other defendants, all the way up to Saddam Hussein himself, that shows that he directly knew and that he directly commanded the murder, the imprisonment of those in Dujail after that failed assassination attempt.

And we just recently, Miles, saw video that was shot on that day, on July, 1982. And you saw Saddam Hussein immediately after the assassination attempt with eerie calm interrogating the residents there. The community immediately knew the fate that would descend upon that village. They were cheering after the assassination attempt trying to prove the forced allegiance that was necessary in those orchestrated trips.

And so for that community that had lived in such abject fear, so many of whom were imprisoned, tortured, 143 of whom were killed because of that failed assassination attempt. This is decades long justice finally coming to fruition. They will see this as a moment that they never imagined would happen and that they are now watching with the world unfold.

And Saddam Hussein himself, combative at the beginning, now looking resigned as he sits there perhaps acknowledging, as our own Christiane Amanpour pointed out in his admission of not guilty, entering his plea, that was different than what we saw in the arraignment where he essentially avoided the question. So this process incredibly important to the Iraqis, if not the global society.


MILES O'BRIEN: All right. Aneesh, lots to ponder there but -- and I have a lot of questions for you but let's get back -- let's listen for just a moment because the prosecutor, Jaafar Al-Moussawi, who you see there with the red ribbon around his neck, is actually reading some specifics on the charges. Let's try to listen in. Hopefully the audio problems have been rectified.

JAAFAR AL-MOUSSAWI, PROSECUTOR (through translator): And gave directions to Barazan (INAUDIBLE) and Barazan Ibrahim went to the farm where Saddam was present (ph) because he was the security official of the area. At that time, Saddam talked to him, advised him to command operations at about 17. Barazan came to the area. And they it was the headquarters for the operation.

Barazan ordered (INAUDIBLE) that was an official (INAUDIBLE) service. And ordered the armed forces and intelligence to arrest all that are suspect, men, women, children and elderly, and to bring them to the headquarters for the operation in Dujail. And, in fact, many of the people, 687 persons were arrested. The party headquarters could not accommodate those numbers.

Barazan ordered to move those to the intelligence forces. And the next morning, the defendant Taha Yassin Ramadan came to the center and by order of Saddam, a committee was formed and the head of intelligence to (INAUDIBLE) Dujail and to (INAUDIBLE) accommodations and security accommodations.

The defendants, the condition where (ph) move all of the arrested. Oh, women. To the Samarra Desert. This was 699 persons from Dujail were arrested, men, women and (INAUDIBLE) 399 persons.

Also, the others decision was to destroy the land, the agricultural land. And based on the orders of he was seen standing of many of the party officials, that he was supervising the destruction operation. In addition, Saddam Hussein ordered -- issued a decree from the revolutionary command center on the 14th of October of 1982 to confiscate the agricultural land that were owned by those arrested and to give it to the ministry of agriculture. And after the elements came back, come Dujail, they started interrogating 148 persons. Not 134, 148. And they were at ages in addition 148, in addition to the 399 that were taken to the Samarra Desert. That is 399. That's another issue.

Those 148, this is a separate (INAUDIBLE) others and they were in ages. That were determined not based on the I.D. cards, but anybody who is able to carry weapons. They were put in cells and the Dujail people were arrested that were in the army units and they were not present in their city the day of the incident. They were taken -- they were taken -- brought by way of telegraphs from the intelligence services to their respective units to bring them and get them into prison. They were in their military unit or at the front in their positions.

And they used all kinds of torture against them. And, as a result, 146 were killed as victims. We have the proof of that. The as documentary evidence shows. And in and as a result of this brutal act, that pleas the head of the intelligence who asked Saddam to -- 14 -- in the 21st of July, '82. In other words, after the 13 days of the incident, Saddam, he initialed the request was approved. And in accordance to decree number 982 on July 31st, '82, these are all present and attached to this case. And, as a result, the investigators and officials of the intelligence were encouraged to engage in more brutal acts which resulted in the killing of 46 victims. It was signed by the presidential palace to take 148 people to the revolutionary court, 21st of May, 1984.

If we looked carefully at the numbers, those who were moved to the court was 148. And as we said before, those were killed because of torture during interrogation. And based on the documentary evidence we have, only 96 remained alive. So 142. Compared to -- what is the -- the six. Four of them were executed. And they had nothing to do with Dujail. They were in Abu Ghraib and it was clear after that four were executed. They have nothing to do with the Dujail issue and they were not from Dujail.

The names are available. We supply the court with the names.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's now the top of the hour and it is now about two-and-a-half hours into this remarkable proceeding, which the entire Arab world and much of the world in general is now watching, as Saddam Hussein and seven other defendants are brought up on charges related to a 1982 massacre.

You see a CD-ROM there in the trial, which is a bit of the evidence that the prosecution team is now submitting, as they detail the nature of the torture and the nature of the way people were held from Dujail in the wake of that assassination attempt, as Saddam Hussein and his entourage made an impromptu visit there in July of 1982.

What happened subsequently was the torture, the rounding up and ultimately the killing of 146 men and boys as retribution for that act. And that is the crime which brings Saddam Hussein and seven co- defendants into a courtroom, but really marks a pivot point on the road to a new Iraq.

In the midst of this scene today, we've seen a lot of mundane matters of just who's representing whom and so forth and questions of identity, which Saddam Hussein bristled at. He came into the courtroom defiant, even rejecting the notion that he is the former president of Iraq. He insists he still is. And that defiance has manifested itself in other ways, as well.

Christiane Amanpour joining us on the line right now on a break.

She's been watching the court proceedings right there in the courtroom -- Christiane, what did you see?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you just have seen video, as you know. It was on a 30-minute delay of this CD-ROM. The prosecution was outlining its case about half an hour ago and saying that it had some evidence to show that Saddam Hussein approved the execution order of these 143 or so Shiite men from the village of Dujail.

Saddam, at that point, interrupted, and said it's all a lie, I don't agree with you.

We're on a break right now while they get the CD projection visual gear in order. You know, we've been having a lot of technical difficulties with audio and vision in terms of actually what's going on in the court. But they're trying to get that up right now.

At one point a few moments ago, Saddam Hussein got up and said, and addressed the judge. And he said if you allow me, I believe the judge knows -- and then he said I speak to you as an Iraqi to try to help you clarify the truth as much as to expose the fraudulence here.

He said the court should not take into account any recordings. And then he said thank you and sat down.

But the court apparently is getting ready to show this CD.

He also, when the judge broke, he was just about to rule on the defense attorneys' motion for a postponement of three months or at least 45 days. The defense attorneys telling us last night that they were going to do this.

Apparently they've already submitted it in writing a while ago, a few days ago, and they expect to hear the answer today.

In terms of some color, what you will not see on the video because the pool cameras were forced to point downwards once the judge walked out for this recess, but Saddam Hussein and the other defendants stayed inside and we all watched from behind the glass.

And it was an extraordinary moment of him and his fellow defendants greeting each other. He was smiling. He looked quite jovial. The defense attorneys crowded around, some of them lifting their hand in sort of a greeting-cum-salute.

One of the defendants who, in fact, we had seen shuffle in, extremely old looking and tired and handcuffed, 90 years old, suddenly seemed to draw new life and was waving his hands around and looked like he was making some kind of supportive speech to Saddam or some kind of denouncement of this trial. We couldn't tell, but we could see the body language. Saddam smiling and pointing to somebody, sort of making a gesture that this somebody had grown a mustache.

And then Saddam wanted to leave the courtroom. And as he was trying to leave, he had to be unlocked from that row of chairs that he is surrounded in. You know, there's white metal like a cage around it. He was unlocked from that, allowed out and then two or three of the Iraqi guards tried to grab his arms and walk him out.

Well, for a period of about 30 seconds, he essentially stared them down. He pulled back his arms. They tried to get him. He pulled back his arm again and basically said -- you could see his body language and his hands, telling them to back off.

It wasn't violent, it wasn't loud, it wasn't noisy and it wasn't with much gesticulation. But he stared them down and he walked out with them on either side rather than them handling him.

So that was a little bit of color that we saw inside the courtroom just now, which you probably will not see on the tape. And we're going to get ready to go back in, to bring you, the next time there's a break, information about what this CD-ROM shows and whether the judge is going to agree to a defense motion to adjourn the proceedings.

M. O'BRIEN: Christiane, I hope you have a moment before you've got to go back in there.

I just wanted to ask you, you say that, you know, when the camera is off, prior to that moment there with the guards, Saddam almost seemed jovial with his co-defendants there. We've seen him with an angry retort to the judge and we had the sense as he came in that he was almost frail.

Jovial is -- that's the first time I've heard that.

So is the angry act, is the defiance part of a put-on, do you think?

AMANPOUR: No. I think that both are true. He does not recognize the legitimacy of this court. He has said it several times today. He said that it's false, it's based on a falsehood and it cannot be something that he would agree to.

He has said that he is still president of Iraq in terms of that's what the people wanted and he was president, therefore he keeps referring to himself, when asked to identify himself, as the president of Iraq.

He did come in looking fairly, I think, slower, more shuffly than when I saw him come into his initial hearing in the summer of 2004. He looks more tired. He looks slightly more bent and slightly more shuffly. He is an elderly man. Not that old, but he looks older than his years.

But the smiling in that off camera moment was more reuniting with old allies and friends. And we believe that he may not have seen them up until now. We believe -- we're trying to get that confirmed, that he has not had the opportunity to inter-mingle with others on the most wanted list who have been arrested or other of his co-defendants.

And this (AUDIO GAP)...

M. O'BRIEN: All right, I think we've lost Christiane that time.

She's coming in on a satellite phone and it's a little bit dicey, as you know.

S. O'BRIEN: It's been interesting to hear from the American legal experts who have been training the Iraqi prosecution team how they know that the eyes of the world are really trained on what they are doing -- and Iraqis, as well -- but the eyes of the world.

Clearly Saddam Hussein knows the same thing. You can see in some of the antics, I think is a fair word to use as he comes really challenging the judges.

And I wonder -- and we'll bring Jane Arraf back, who is a former Baghdad bureau chief, but now with the Council on Foreign Relations, what it must be like to be a guard who's having a stare down with the match, as Christiane described it, with the man who was the most powerful human being in Iraq, who could snap his fingers and change your life, or even be a judge, who is now, you know, having an argument with Saddam Hussein.

JANE ARRAF, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: It has got to be deeply strange, particularly for these guards, who are actually reaching out and touching him and trying to take him out of the room. There is not an Iraqi in Iraq who has not grown up with an intense fear of Saddam Hussein. And there he is.

And this -- the drama in that scene, I don't know if it comes across on that screen, but it's not just Saddam. It's Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was the vice president of Iraq. The last time I saw Ramadan he was at the Martyrs Monument at one of those ceremonies that they had, where they were in such tight control of the country. There was no visible security.

He is a man who has been identified with Saddam from the very beginning of the Baath Party.

Saddam's half-brother, Barazan al-Tikriti, who was the head of intelligence, another man who has been deeply, deeply feared.

Extraordinary that they are now contained in this tiny room and you see such commonplace scenes as someone trying to take Saddam out of the courtroom and actually touching him, an ordinary Iraqi.

That, in itself, speaks volumes.

S. O'BRIEN: And I guess eventually not touching him, because from Christiane's description...

M. O'BRIEN: Right.


S. O'BRIEN: ... it sounds as if Saddam Hussein, in fact... M. O'BRIEN: Sort of won that stare-down.

ARRAF: He won that one.

S. O'BRIEN: ... won the stare-down.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: And they took their hands off of him.

The others who are the co-defendants, many of them are Baath Party officials with some kind of oversight of Dujail, which, of course, is the focus of this particular trial.

How is it going to work with protecting the identity, because the fear that must run through those who are going to come to be witnesses in this case must be just intense.

ARRAF: There are going to be measures that they will take to protect the identity of the witnesses, the people in the courtroom, the other people, the observers, apparently will not be allowed to see their identities. There's going to be a screen drawn or some other means.

You're absolutely right, it is something that puts people at immense risk, as if they're not already at risk in Iraq, where many people are on a day to day basis. But they are going to take measures to protect against that.

M. O'BRIEN: We should tell our viewers that, as we have been speaking here, we do have a fresh reel of tape that just got put into the machine. So now what you're watching, once again, is 30-minute delayed activities in this courtroom.

Jane, I've got to ask you a question.

The -- when you look at the list of atrocities that are linked to Saddam Hussein and that, those very people you just mentioned -- and there are a dozen big ones that have been picked out. And you look at this one, it, you know, relatively speaking, is not as large. It's not as big a number.

Is there a sense of disappointment, particularly among the Kurds, because of all the things that were leveled against them, that it is not -- that they didn't begin with a case of larger magnitude?

ARRAF: I think the Kurds are a bit disappointed, but we have to remember about the Kurds, they have been in control of their own territory for more than 10 years now, and they have had a chance to make clear what has happened to them.

Most people know about the gassing of the Kurds in Halabja, for instance.

The massacre in Dujail is something we have only recently learned. It's part of that series of events, starting with the mass graves that we were at when they uncovered them in Hillah, south of Baghdad, that no one really knew about. This is one of the lesser known cases. And, perhaps in that way, even more horrifying that something like this happened, was allowed to happen and people kept silent.

And many people, whether they're Shia or Kurdish or anything else, are happy this is coming to light now.

S. O'BRIEN: Some of the details that we heard from the chief prosecutor, Jaafar Al-Moussawi, were fascinating. And obviously he's laying out what their case is going to be. He said that they rounded up, within about a month after the assassination attempt, anyone who was able to carry a weapon. And in this case they eventually hanged boys a young as nine years old, who were taken and held, and then eventually killed. That there were people who were not even present in the city at the time of the incident, according to the prosecutor, who were brought out of their military units -- they were actually serving in a military unit and they were brought away from those military units, I guess via telegram, and summoned back in order to, frankly, according to the prosecutor, be tortured and be interrogated, people who, you know, at the time of the assassination attempt, could not physically have been involved in it because they were with her units.

And then they went through sort of the numbers of people who were tortured and interrogated who then died because of the torture and interrogation, in addition to those who were just killed as a result of this investigation and walked through the devastation to the area that was wrought, allegedly, by the prosecutor, by Saddam Hussein and others who are now sitting there in front of us, as we can see in this new videotape, devastating the region so that they would financially go under and just be ruined. I mean ruining their crops and ruining -- as we heard from Aneesh just a little while ago, you know, I guess it's not the biggest atrocity, as horrible as it is, really, to compare atrocities, but symbolic, I guess, of Saddam Hussein and what he wrought on the region.

ARRAF: You're right. Symbolic in the sense that it was very calculated devastation of a specific region; the same thing that we saw, to some extent, in the marshes in the south of Iraq, where he drained the marshes and an entire way of life, in some places, disappeared, a very calculated attempt, the prosecution will argue.

S. O'BRIEN: Did they keep notes? I mean the prosecution keeps coming back to we're going to have evidence, we're going to have evidence, we're going to have evidence. And one sort of images you keep evidence of your atrocities? That surprises me.

ARRAF: This is extraordinary. They didn't consider them atrocities. They were quite proud of them. And this is why there is such a body of potential evidence that they're still tying to go through.

They are still uncovering documents from the north of Iraq after the 1991 War, very careful notes about who was executed, who was condemned, torture inflicted. M. O'BRIEN: Boy, it sort of reminds you of the Nazis and how scrupulously they kept records of what they called the final solution. And as, you know, as I think about Nuremberg, post-Nazi and the fall of the Nazis, the defense that was used -- and it'll be interesting to see what these others here say. We know what Saddam Hussein is going to say, I'm still the president and whatever I did as president is protected because I was the leader of the country.

But the defense that was used at Nuremberg repeatedly was I was just following orders. And it'll be very interesting to see if there is this rift here between the defendants. Because what happens is that not so implicitly points the finger right back at Saddam Hussein, if they say we were just following orders.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, especially the others, who are the Dujail officials or people who were responsible...

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: ... as opposed to, as you pointed out, Barazan Hasan and Taha Yassin Ramadan, who sort of had higher level authority and higher level responsibilities.

Do you predict that? Would you assume that that's going to be the case?

ARRAF: I suppose it comes down to who they're more afraid of. Are they still afraid of Saddam or are they afraid of this court?

M. O'BRIEN: Could they still be afraid of Saddam? I suppose that's possible.

ARRAF: You know, I lived in Iraq for years and I look at these pictures, this guy, and there is still an element of fear there that I'm sure there is for many Iraqis. That just does not go away overnight, particularly if you were part of his inner circle, like these people were.

S. O'BRIEN: And Christiane pointed out that it was her sense, at least from reading the body language, that maybe they hadn't all seen each other in the time that they've been held, which I can imagine a scenario in which that would be scarier, because you haven't seen your formidable leader in a long time.

ARRAF: They still, obviously, do have allegiance to him, to some extent. And that's one of the things about their being kept in captivity at this camp in Baghdad, Camp Cropper, where they have been kept apart. But apparently they still refer to him as Mr. President. They still retain that structure that they had when they were actually in government. And the pretense, at least, that they're still in power.

S. O'BRIEN: In the videotape that we've just seen, it looks as if the prosecutor has sort of wrapped up. We could see him from the side leaving the podium where he was talking about, really, the details of the charges. In this particular case, the first case, that Saddam Hussein and the co-defendants are facing.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

Let's remind our viewers, we're watching 30 minutes ago, essentially. In real time, 30 minutes ago. And I believe -- did they adjourn for the day? Somebody just told me in my ear they adjourned but I don't know...


M. O'BRIEN: OK. They have adjourned for the day. So we're watching this unfold.

Let's listen to the defense attorney, if we can, here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The three investigative judges, the general prosecution did not talk to the original suspects, the principal suspects, who assassinated the 46 people, the investigator, Sader Sammalmal Dasher (ph). We challenge the investigation and we challenge the truthfulness of the public prosecutor. We have documents that we'd like the court to study because what you have...

M. O'BRIEN: All right, we're going to interrupt that.

I apologize for doing that, but we just learned from Christiane Amanpour, who's on the scene there, that they have gotten the postponement the defense attorneys had sought, to November 28th -- Christiane, they've adjourned for the day and adjourned now until November 28th.

Tell us how that transpired in the courtroom.

AMANPOUR: Well, the thing is, I was going back into the courtroom and all the journalists were coming out, because, in fact, there was no second session after this break. I was speaking to you in a break, went back. And as I was going up there, those who hadn't come out during the break said well, the judge has now said that he accepts the request for an adjournment by the defense attorney.

The defense attorneys had called for three months, or, at the very least, 45 days. And I can't quickly add up in my mind right now, but it's probably about 45 days that he's granted until November 28.

And so the defense is still in the court. Saddam Hussein, up until about 30 seconds ago, was still inside the court. All the press have been asked to leave the actual courtroom. And the presiding judge has also left.

We had thought we were going to go back, because he had said that they were going to try to show this audiovisual CD with video evidence showing Saddam Hussein had approved the execution of these 143 Shiite men in the village of Dujail. Apparently they did not do that. That, of course, is the crux of the case against Saddam Hussein.

So there is basically, as we expected, an adjournment. It was no secret that his lawyers were going to ask this. His lawyers spoke to us last night by telephone, saying that they had not had enough time to prepare, nor did they have the experience to actually try such a case and defend a client accused of such serious crimes, such as crimes against humanity.

M. O'BRIEN: Christiane, help us understand, because he came out of that spider hole -- Saddam, that is -- almost two years ago now, and yet the attorneys say they haven't had enough time.

Help us, remind us when it became evident that this was going to be the first case against Saddam Hussein and his accomplices and how much access have the attorneys had in that period of time?

AMANPOUR: Well, it was interesting because, yes, he was arrested back in December of 2003, December 13, to be precise. It took a further six or seven months before he had his first court hearing. That was in July of 2004. I was in the court for that. And that was his first opportunity -- seven months after being arrested -- his first opportunity to hear anything about what the potential indictments would be, the potential charges against him. He had not seen a lawyer yet by then.

Then he and his family, basically based in Amman, Jordan, his daughter tried to get a whole group, a whole panel of lawyers together. There has been a lot of discordance between them. And the chief lawyer, Khalil Dulaimi, basically has said that he has not had enough time with his client. He said he's only seen him about five or so times. He did see him yesterday, so maybe about six times.

He is not allowed -- he's not, he says, seen all the hundreds of pages of documentary evidence that the prosecution says it has against Saddam Hussein. And more precisely, it was only in recent months, not that long ago, that they decided that the Dujail case would be the first case. In the beginning, it wasn't quite clear whether, in fact, that would be the case. But it's only in the last several months that they did decide that.

So the attorneys basically saying that not only have they not had enough time, but also they've not had the proper training and experience, again saying that this is an incredibly, obviously, important and highly sensitive case. They are defending a former president who is charged with, so far, crimes against humanity, who could face the highest crime under international law, which is the crime of genocide.

The death penalty is imposed here in this court system. Therefore, Saddam Hussein and anybody found guilty could be executed. And for the defense, there is a lot at stake.

It was always expected that they would get some more time. And to be very frank with you, the court, I think, needs some more time to smooth out quite a few of the, I think, confusion, perhaps justifiable confusion. It's the first time they've ever had such a case, not only in Iraq, but around the Arab world. It's a public case. It's one that deals with a combination of Iraqi law, taking a lot of Western judicial principles into accounts, too. None of these judges or prosecutors or lawyers have had anything like this kind of experience before. And it is incredibly complex.

M. O'BRIEN: Christiane, a final thought here from u.

We were talking with Jane Arraf about this just a few moments ago, about how it almost takes your breath away to see Saddam Hussein and the leaders of his Baath Party regime in this setting.

Have you had a moment to just, you know, personally reflect on what is transpiring here and what it means in the broad course of history?

AMANPOUR: It is shocking, I will say, to see walk into court people who you know have got blood on their hands and have had decades of tyrannical rule in which they have really brutalized their people. It's shocking to see them stripped of all the accoutrements of power, of the platform of power, of the uniform of power and stripped of the fear that they used to inspire. To see people walk in in nothing but the clothes that they have on and their right to a free trial and a fair trial, is -- it's quite shocking to see. It's human, as well, and you see them come in not in their uniforms, but in these dish dashes that, to be frank, are not really formal dress, wearing plastic sandals. He, of course, was wearing a white shirt and the gray, dark suit that he has worn for all his court appearances, and was wearing socks and leather shoes.

And he tries to maintain the demeanor of president. He still insists that he is.

But to see them essentially humbled from the power that they used to hold and now, you know, the cult of personality stripped away from them, bare in front of the world, to answer for their crimes, is quite an extraordinary thing.

And this is the second time I'm witnessing this, because I saw this with Slobodan Milosevic, as well, having covered the four years of genocide and ethnic cleansing that he was accused of in the Balkans. And to see him come before an international tribunal was, you know, you feel that justice perhaps has a chance of working.

And certainly for the people of Iraq, watching him in this state now will go a long way to removing the mystique that Saddam Hussein has held for so many years. And I don't mean that in a good way, but the mystique of the Republic of Fear, as some people have dubbed the regime that he led.

M. O'BRIEN: CNN's Christiane Amanpour, our senior international correspondent, who has been witnessing this firsthand.

A mystique of fear. Jane Arraf spoke about that, as well, and maybe this is just the first step in the minds of the Iraqi people, the Arab world, the world in general, of dismantling that mystic.

S. O'BRIEN: We're going to take a short break. We'll be back in just a moment as we continue our extended AMERICAN MORNING coverage. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody to a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING this morning.

Our other top story is hurricane Wilma.

When we last checked in with Chad yesterday, a category two. That has changed, and fast. It's very bad news, this storm, isn't it?

Chad -- good morning.


It has changed drastically, all the way to a category five. A category five starts at about 155 miles per hour. This storm now is 175. It is not expected to stay this strong, nor, really, can it stay this strong, as it moves into some sheer with wind, as it encounters some land masses here, maybe even pulling some dry air off the mountains of Honduras and Nicaragua.

But here's the storm right here. I've drawn this line on here so that you can see a couple of the wobbles. It's not a completely straight line. But hurricane warnings now for the Yucatan Peninsula, including all the way up to Cancun. Tropical storm warnings for Honduras and also for the Cayman Islands.

The big story about this storm right now is it is the strongest, the deepest, the lowest pressure storm ever recorded in the Atlantic. There have been bigger storms in the Pacific, but not in the at once. That pressure now down to 26-05. Or, if you're using millibars, 882. That is deeper than Gilbert, which was the old record, at 888. And the storm now, the winds are 175, moving to the west-northwest at about eight miles per hour.

Let me get rid of this line here for you. You see the eye of the storm. It is still headed, really, for the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. The official Hurricane Center forecast turns it to the right, reduces its intensity from five to four. And then by the time it actually makes landfall in the U.S. all the way down to a three.

We talk about these computer models all the time. Let me show you one. Here's a simulation of one of the computers' thinking, getting it very close to Cozumel. There's Cancun way up there. That's in about 72 hours.

This is going to be a slow storm to move. Here it goes northwest at eight miles per hour. Watch. Here we go. Now, this is Thursday, overnight, Thursday night. Here's Friday, on up here, and the slowdown occurs as it starts to get sheered to the right. We'll get this back into the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday, and not really making landfall in Florida, if it does at all -- remember, this is a big cone -- but not making landfall until possibly Saturday night or Sunday morning, as a category two, not a category five -- Soledad. S. O'BRIEN: Well, this has the potential, with that barometric pressure still low...

MYERS: Still. Correct.

S. O'BRIEN: ... to be huge.


S. O'BRIEN: Although I guess it doesn't necessarily mean lowest ever barometric pressure means worst storm ever.

MYERS: It doesn't, but this storm probably is very close to it. This would probably be -- there's not an aircraft in it right now. There was a couple of hours ago, but it had to leave. It had to go get more fuel. If it was in there right now, it may actually have found the highest wind speeds ever recorded in the eastern part of the United -- the eastern part of the Caribbean or, for that matter, the Atlantic Basin.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Chad.



S. O'BRIEN: We're going to continue to get an update on Wilma Chad throughout the morning and throughout the day.


S. O'BRIEN: Also, our other top story, the trial of Saddam Hussein underway and then postponed. An update on that, as well, as we continue right here on a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

A short break.

We're back in just a moment.



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