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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Civil War in Libya; Should U.S. Help Libya?; Witness Tells of Bloodshed
Aired March 10, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
Last night, we began with a reporter who had escaped from the surrounded city of Zawiyah. They said a massacre was taking place. Tonight, the deed is done. The city has fallen, and Gadhafi's forces are trying to hide evidence of what went on there, and trying to hunt down those who fought them.
The Libyan dictatorship is gaining ground tonight, not just in Zawiyah but the east as well. And the dictator's son, confident and cool, now threatens to crush the opposition without mercy. The world continues to watch.
NATO ministers who met today suggested that there isn't yet a good reason to act, saying there must be a -- quote -- "demonstrable need."
We have new video tonight that shows you just how fierce the fighting has become. First, I want to show you what it's like fighting in the streets of Misrata, the city still in opposition hands tonight, but surrounded. This is what it looked like Sunday under relentless pounding from Gadhafi's forces, small handfuls of poorly armed opposition fighters no match for Gadhafi's forces.
This is a crowded city, Libya's third largest, packed with people with a war running through it, being fought without consideration for the lives of civilians, being fought with airstrikes and artillery fire, as I said, against poorly armed people without military training. Is this demonstrable need?
As for Zawiyah, new video as well. This is what it looked and sounded like as time was running out, a stream of prayers coming from loudspeakers, Gadhafi's artillery crews bombarding the town. Later, the silence speaks not of calm, but of conquest.
After a week of onslaught, government forces had beaten Zawiyah into submission by pounding it into pieces on the ground, a nearby mosque hit by a shell, the prayer space now a boulder field. "God is great," the photographer keeps saying again and again. "God is great."
Doctors have been shot at, ambulances shot at, reporters captured and tortured. And now, as you will hear from someone who was just there, the regime is trying to erase the evidence, clean the blood off the streets, get the boulders out of the streets as well, and hunt down those who can tell the story. Time has run out in Zawiyah.
Time may have also run out to the east in the oil town of Ras Lanuf, government forces now apparently with a strong advantage.
Our Ben Wedeman was there. We will talk to him shortly.
Opposition fighters, many of them civilians, all of them inexperienced, now in retreat after days of pounding from the air, time running out. And back in Tripoli, where those who once protested now hide in their homes, Saif Gadhafi was doing interviews, telling CBS's Mark Phillips that opponents of the regime would be shown no mercy. "Just squash them," he was asked? "Yes," he replied.
Yet, talking to other cameras, he's also trying to paint this crackdown as some kind of rescue mission. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI, SON OF MOAMMAR GADHAFI (through translator): I receive hundreds of calls from the east daily, and they are stating: Save us. They are begging us and pleading for us to save them. And my answer is two words: Listen to me. I want those armed groups to listen to me real well. And I want the people in the east to hear this as well: We are coming.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration has already taken -- and I quote -- "swift and dramatic actions." And it has when it comes to freezing Libyan assets.
As for doing what the Libyan opposition says it needs most now, and needs urgently, namely a no-fly zone, NATO is reviewing options -- members making no decisions today, possibly doing nothing until Monday, and putting tight conditions on military action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: Firstly, there must be a demonstrable need. Secondly, there must be a clear legal basis, and, thirdly, strong regional support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We will talk in detail tonight about that no-fly zone with General Wesley Clark and Fouad Ajami. We will also check in with all our reporters who are risking their lives inside Libya right now to bring us the facts.
First tonight, Bill Neely of Britain's ITV, the first reporter into Zawiyah after it fell to Gadhafi's forces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL NEELY, ITN REPORTER: We were the first journalists to reach the town's center, driving past dozens of burned-out cars and tanks. A quarter-of-a-million people live in Zawiyah -- or they did. This is a ghost town, shops closed, houses empty, streets filled only with debris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And that was just the beginning. I spoke to Bill Neely earlier this evening.
COOPER: Bill, you were the first reporter into Zawiyah after it's been taken over by Gadhafi forces. What did you see when you first got there?
NEELY: Well, first of all, frankly, I was stunned that we were allowed in. We had been trying to get in for four days, and we have been sent back every day, yesterday, having cameras stolen.
But, today, they let us in. They said we could go in for 30 minutes. And it was a scene of utter devastation. I have covered a lot of violence, but I have never seen anything quite like that in such a confined space, the mosque, the minaret completely demolished. We saw many, many tanks being loaded up on transporters completely burned- out, bulldozers and diggers pushing away dozens of burned-out militia vehicles, quite an extraordinary fight that the rebels put up for seven days.
I mean, take the worst terrorist bombing that you have seen, add a tank battle, and throw in an artillery barrage, and you get some idea of the devastation in that square.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to show viewers everything, because, as we were leaving, in fact, when we were at the hospital trying to get some idea of the death toll and the numbers of injured, an army commander approached us. He took our videotapes. He completely stripped us of television equipment and sent us on our way. At least we weren't detained. At least we could come away with some idea what had happened. And Zawiyah is completely devastated.
COOPER: Yes, at least you were weren't, subjected to mock executions, as another British TV crew was the other day.
In terms of -- what's interesting is that it seems like the Gadhafi regime is trying to cover up what happened there. They're trying to erase any evidence of it.
NEELY: Well, I think a lot of the army commanders were surprised to see us in the square in the first place.
As I say, one of them gave us 30 minutes, but the other one took away all our tapes. And they have been sealing this town off for days. When we went in there today, they were literally cleaning away the evidence. There were road sweepers out there trying to get rid of -- well, we saw bloodied military outfit -- clothing, all the bullets, I mean, extraordinary number of munitions, ammunition, spent bullets on the ground.
And I think they may be trying to clean it up in another way and erase evidence in another sense. When I was there on Sunday, I went to the hospital and spoke to doctors. They were quite clear that there had been a massacre in Zawiyah. They were talking about the indiscriminate use of force on civilians. They kept saying: The people we're treating are civilians.
And they also stressed that they treated both sides, that they also treated the army. But they said this was a war crime. And, indeed, under the Geneva Convention, if you do not take due care with the lives of civilians in a military assault, you are potentially guilty of war crimes.
But, also, the doctors said it was absolutely certain, and one of them said, "I was wearing my white coat this morning and government troops fired on me."
And they told me about two other medical assistants who had been shot dead in Zawiyah. Again, that is a clear war crime under the Geneva Convention. So, it could be that Gadhafi wants to clear that kind of evidence away.
When I was at the hospital, I recognized a trauma specialist that I had met on Sunday. Indeed, he was the one who said there had been a massacre. I made a move to approach him, and he looked at me and he just did that, as if to say: Don't acknowledge me. Don't come near me, please.
I understood straight away that he was in danger if I had engaged him in any kind of conversation with the army right beside it. So, I think those doctors in Zawiyah Hospital are probably in some danger now, and there is a big roundup of residents, of young men, dozens being arrested, mass arrests there. And I think those young men also are in for a torrid time over the next time.
COOPER: This is a town that is very close to Tripoli. The fact -- that no doubt Gadhafi will now claim this is a major victory. But the fact that it took so long for his better-trained, highly trained, probably the best unit they have in the Libyan army to take the town, what does that tell you?
NEELY: Anderson, I think you've put your finger on it.
It is a victory for Gadhafi in one sense, in that this was the backdoor to Tripoli, if you like. This was his backyard, and he's now closed that door. All of the west really is in his grip and under his control. I don't think, for example, in Tripoli, you're going to see any popular uprising at all. But, on the other hand, as you say, it took the Khamis brigade -- that's the brigade, the 32nd Battalion, run by Gadhafi's fifth son, Khamis, which the WikiLeaks revelations told us U.S. diplomats called that the best-trained and the best-armed battalion.
It took that battalion a week. It took them dozens of tanks. It took them hundreds, possibly thousands of men and hundreds of vehicles to take basically one square mile, even less than that, with a few, I mean, you could call them a ragtag army. And they didn't really have that many munitions. They had a few anti-aircraft guns. It took them a long time to take that area. Now, Saif Gadhafi, his most prominent son, is talking about a big military offensive in the east. If it took them that long to take Zawiyah, how long will it really take for them to regain control of Benghazi or Tobruk, which are really big cities?
On the other hand, they do have momentum now. They have got the rebels in the east on the back foot. They attacked them today by land, air, and even sea. So, Gadhafi has got military momentum on his side.
COOPER: Bill Neely, I appreciate the reporting. Stay safe. Thank you.
NEELY: Thanks, Anderson. Pleasure.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think. We're on Facebook or follow me on Twitter at AndersonCooper. I'm going to be tweeting tonight as well, live tweeting.
Next: As the battle for Libya gathers force, we will check in with more of the correspondents on the ground, up close as government forces roll in, with opposition fighters who just days ago might have been ordinary civilians.
Later: what a no-fly zone might look like and whether or not it should be imposed. John King is at the wall with that. Also, NATO's former supreme commander General Wesley Clark joins us, along with Professor Fouad Ajami.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From almost the moment we arrived on the outskirts of Ras Lanuf, the shelling and bombing began.
Aircraft overhead just bombed over there in an area where we saw there was -- there's a military...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Obama goes before cameras tomorrow morning to talk about rising energy prices, due in no small part to the Libyan crisis. Opposition fighters now retreating from the oil port of Ras Lanuf after heavy government airstrikes, and, late today, new video surfaced from Misrata, which right now is reporting to be ringed by government forces. There's been heavy fighting there.
The new video is from Sunday. It's just now coming to light.
Joining me now is Ben Wedeman, who is following opposition fighters in Eastern Libya, Nic Robertson in Tripoli, and, in Dubai, Alex Crawford of Britain's Sky News, who was the only Western TV journalist inside Zawiyah at the height of the battle. Ben, you were in Ras Lanuf today during the bombardment. What did you see? What happened?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we saw, Anderson, was a city under bombardment from sea, land and air.
The -- in mid-morning, we saw sort of puffs of smoke all around the city, as mortars were being fired. There was apparently fire from the sea. Some of those mortars landed, one of them right next to the hospital in town. Another hit a mosque. That sort of set off a panic among the opposition forces, who basically one after another in pickup trucks, cars, trucks started heading out of the city.
They said they just didn't have the defenses in which to hide during this bombardment. So, essentially, they pulled out of town. At this point, it's not clear who's really in control of the city. But we saw them regrouping on the outside of town near a checkpoint, which also came under fire. And the fighters are sort of paralyzed by these continual overhead flights by the Libyan air force jets.
Every time one comes over, all the cars screech to a halt. Everybody has to jump out of the cars and go hide in ditches or in the desert, in the sand, wherever you can find any place of protection. What we're seeing is the opposition is completely outgunned, really encircled at this point, being pushed back and back toward Brega.
And, of course, the worry is that this is the beginning of an offensive that could reach the gates of Benghazi -- Anderson.
COOPER: What's amazing, Ben, in just watching them and listening to your reporting, is just their lack of organization this far into the battle. It's one thing initially to be poorly organized. When they retreat, is there an order given, OK, it's time to pull back, or is it just individuals making up the choice, OK, now I'm leaving?
WEDEMAN: It's just a mad rush to the rear. There is no order. There are no orders. There's no organization.
I mean, basically, you see the same guys who jumped into a car in Benghazi perhaps or Tobruk, the same bunch of guys jumps back into that car and drives to the rear. Sometimes, you see them arguing along the way, different groups saying that we should stay and fight, we should dig trenches, let's move forward.
Oftentimes, it's let's get in the car and get the hell out of here. There is no organization. There have been attempts. And we have seen it day after day, experienced military officers who left the Libyan army who are trying to tell them, look, it's not so good to move ahead.
Get defensive positions. Strengthen your positions where you are, rather than rush madly ahead, only to rush madly backwards. No, it's not. Amazingly, after all of this, there doesn't seem to be any organization emerging from this anarchy, for lack of a better word -- Anderson. COOPER: Alex, Zawiyah has also fallen to Gadhafi control now. We see they're trying to clean up the evidence of what happened. But you were there. You saw it for yourself. You say it was a massacre, yes?
ALEX CRAWFORD, SKY NEWS: I mean, it's absolutely shocking to think that I was there four days ago. The international community had four days to try and help those people.
Ben Wedeman is absolutely right. Certainly, in Zawiyah, there was no coordinated army response from the rebels. The number of defections were in ones and twos. When I was asking how many people defected today, how many people defected yesterday, they would say rather proudly, we had one, we had two.
And, yet, we have actual film evidence of ambulances being fired on, of a hospital being attacked, of young children, a 10-year-old boy amongst them, being fired on as soldiers went down the street. They are even attacking the mosques, the most sacred of places.
This was wholesale killing of civilians. Doctor after doctor, nurse after nurse told us, and we could see it for ourselves, people, university professors, students, engineers, all being attacked. And there was nothing that they could fight back with. This was a town that was fighting for its life. They were not really rebels in the true sense of the word. They were just trying to survive, to stay alive.
COOPER: And, Alex, the civilians who became fighters, the people who tried to do what they could to defend their town, defend themselves, did they know what was going to happen to them if Gadhafi's forces re- took the town? Because now we're hearing reports that they're going basically house to house, looking for anyone who might be a male of a certain age who might have taken part in this. And God only knows what is going to happen to those people.
Did they know what it will entail if Gadhafi re-took the town?
CRAWFORD: Oh, yes, they knew, because it had already happened before -- before now. Every time there was an attack, they kept on -- the army, the Gadhafi army, kept on making forays into the town center.
They would attack, attack, pound, pound, shell. Then they would withdraw. Then, we -- on one occasion, we went to the hospital to see how many casualties there were and saw the military vehicles going back in. They were going back in to pick up not only their dead soldiers, to kill the injured soldiers, so that they couldn't pass on any other information, but to do the clear-up there and then.
I went back several hours, and the dozens of Gadhafi soldiers I had seen lying before just a few hours earlier had -- were all -- all disappeared. The injured soldier who had been lying in front of me getting his ankles bound by the hospital staff who were there giving -- trying to help him, the same man who had been firing on them minutes earlier, he had disappeared. He probably would have recovered, but he had been taken by the army. And, continually, the civilians said if they had some of the Gadhafi soldiers in the hospital, they feared and they told me that the Gadhafi forces would come into the hospital, take them out again, and disappear. They were terrified.
And quite often, they said, you know, whatever you do, make sure you get this story out, because, as soon as you leave, they will say that they have taken the town.
And even whilst I was there, they were issuing -- saying that they had taken the town, when, quite clearly, they hadn't.
CRAWFORD: This is a whitewash, and they want to clear up the evidence, paper over what really happened, and tell the world a whole different story to actually what did happen.
COOPER: And that is exactly what seems to be happening right now in Zawiyah.
Nic, you were at a Saif Gadhafi pep rally, essentially, kind of a press conference/pep rally in Tripoli today. His language seems to be getting tougher, talking about squashing anyone who opposes them.
ROBERTSON: Oh, he had a big threat for the people in the east. He said there are thousands of people who are calling us from the east, from Benghazi every day. He said: I want them to listen to me now, and I want the rebels in the east to listen to me now as well. We are coming.
But this was sort of a fire up the young people. This was a young crowd there. And he had some sort of horrific tales to tell them to fire them up. He talked about all the money that the government had put into the east, Benghazi housing project, 62,000 houses that have been built.
But now he said all that money ,the billions in investment, it was all being wasted in Benghazi and the east. And he told a story of some video that the government has apparently found on the Internet which portrays supposedly rebels cutting somebody's throat, then cutting their heart out, then boiling the heart, then stamping on the heart.
And this was all done to sort of -- to rally the -- rally the young people, make them afraid, make them afraid that they -- of the people in the east, so that they will perhaps have to go and fight them. He said, so far, we haven't called on reservists to come and fight.
But it's clear this government is preparing its people, particularly the young people here, for the potential of a very long fight, Anderson.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman, very briefly, we got some video from Arwa Damon today. She saw kind of new recruits in the east among the opposition forces trying to be trained. You know, but, again, it's civilians in training. It's people who are doctors or teachers or students just trying to get some kind of military training. Is there any, you know, sense that they're going to get organized in any better fashion in the near future?
WEDEMAN: Well, what we have seen is that, in Benghazi, there does seem to be an attempt to get them organized, to train them, to prepare them to go to the front.
But the closer you get to the front, the lesser that organization there appears to be. Eventually, they're going to have to get their act together, because, if the Libyan army continues this advance, things are going to get very nasty indeed.
So, I think, eventually, they will do it. But, at the moment, whatever training occurs in Benghazi, it seems to go out the window as they drive to the front. On the one hand, they do seem to be learning very quickly. You see these guys constantly trying to get their weapons to work. Oftentimes, they jam up during the battles, and there's a lot of panic.
But, clearly, in Benghazi where there is more of sort of an organization, where there is an attempt to get this effort to defend the eastern part of the country together, they're -- it's going to start to spread to the front.
WEDEMAN: But, at the moment, you just don't see it where it really matters most -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman, stay -- Ben Wedeman stay safe, Nic Robertson as well.
Alex Crawford, thank you so much for your reporting again tonight.
Still ahead: The anti-Gadhafi forces on the ground are outmanned, outgunned, as we have been talking about, but is a no-fly zone really the answer? We will talk about it, the military options, with General Wesley Clark and Professor Fouad Ajami, two very different perspectives.
Also, we will talk with a Libyan doctor on the run from Gadhafi's army right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot imagine how many -- how many casualties we received there, I mean, amputations and head injuries. We just received a man with whole -- with its -- whole brain is out. You can't imagine how brutal it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, NATO defense ministers met in Brussels today, talking about the option of a no-fly zone over Libya.
NATO's secretary-general said the group is ready to act and has started 24/7 surveillance of Libya's airspace, but there has to be a clear mandate from the United Nations for a no-fly zone to be imposed.
In Washington, the top U.S. intelligence official gave a very grim prediction to the Senate Armed Services Committee. James Clapper said Gadhafi is in it for the long haul. His regimes air defense is substantial, its firepower superior to the opposition, and he predicts Gadhafi will win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I mean, this is kind of a stalemate back and forth, but I think the longer term, that the regime will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Clapper said it comes down to the fact that Gadhafi's regime simply has more logistical resources.
So is a no-fly zone the answer, a way to break that stalemate? With more about what a no-fly zone would actually look like and some of the issues involved, here's John King.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, let's start with the reason the opposition says it desperately needs a no-fly zone or some NATO military installation. You've been covering this.
This is Ras Lanuf, and you see the fighting. Opposition forces literally running from the scene because they say in recent days, Gadhafi has been using air superiority, ground superiority, even naval vessels to fight them in these coastal cities, and they say they desperately need help.
Now, how would a no-fly zone work? You could take short-term steps before you are ready for a full implementation, using drones, ships in the Mediterranean. You could conduct surveillance over Libya. You could pick up intelligence chatter, pass it on to the opposition, and you could jam the communications of Libyan pilots and other pro- Gadhafi forces. That's one step that could be taken quickly, U.S. officials tell us.
But to have a big no-fly zone, that would require covering all these Libyan air installations. Now the ones in the north, of course, are most important. You could crater the runway. Senator Kerry has suggested that. They, of course, would fill in those potholes. And you would disrupt takeoff and landing. How would you do that?
The United States has significant resources in the Mediterranean Sea. Right now they're conducting humanitarian operations. Many of them could be converted to a no-fly zone. But the bulk of the operations would come from here. NATO air bases in Italy that were used back in the Clinton administration for the no- fly zone operations up in Bosnia. This is where you would have to fly the jets, down in this range here.
Now, no one suggests the United States and NATO don't have the power to do this, but they do say, Anderson, it would come at least initially at a high price. Hundreds of millions of dollars and potentially lives, as well. The circles here, Gadhafi's anti-aircraft capabilities. The purple circles, surface-to-air missiles with a range of up to 200 miles. The tighter circles are localized anti- aircraft, but Gadhafi does have that at his disposal.
And anyone says, as you have this conversation, the American people would have to be told there would be costs, not only in dollars, but potentially in lives. But as we map out how it might work, any decision by NATO to do that, to implement a no-fly zone, days, probably weeks away -- Anderson.
COOPER: It's not clear that the opposition has weeks. John, thanks.
Joining us live from Chicago, former NATO supreme allied commander General Wesley Clark. He's a senior fellow at UCLA's Berkel Center for International Relations. And here in New York, Fouad Ajami, professor of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Fouad, NATO is saying that there needs to be -- the three things -- three criteria met for a no-fly zone. No. 1 is demonstrable need. You say Gadhafi is smart and he's not going to do a Srebrenica style massacre that would force the international community to get involved.
FOUAD AJAMI, JOHNS HOPKINS PROFESSOR: Absolutely. Look, this man is a jackal. He knows what he's doing. You don't rule for 42 years. You don't play to western democracies the way he's played them and be a fool.
He's not going to do a Srebrenica. He's going to wait. He has these people in his grip and mercy. He will settle his accounts with them.
COOPER: You're saying he's not going to do it because he knows that would prompt intervention.
AJAMI: He'll kill them. These people are going to vanish into his prisons. Remember when we started doing this story? I said this man is a warden, and Libya to him in a big prison. This was to him a prison riot. He's now rounding up the prisoners. And he will do with them what he needs to do with them much later.
And I think the arguments of NATO, they reek of such abdication and such cowardice. Here's one argument who says, "Oh, we can't -- we can't do it because there has to be demonstrable need." Is this not demonstrable need in Zawiya? Is this not demonstrable need elsewhere? There is demonstrable need.
And another thing, which I like, which is amazing. Again, we must bear in mind, says NATO, the sensitivities of the region. We can't intervene there because people in Ramallah would be upset, people in Raman (ph) would be upset. So we can't rescue Libyans, because we must respect the sensitivities of the region as NATO defines them.
Because from the region, on the ground, from Benghazi, people are telling us in every way they can, they want rescue. And we keep saying, "We can't rescue you, because we'll offend you if we rescue you." I think -- I think the sham of this is laid bare.
COOPER: Wesley Clark, is there a demonstrable need, in your opinion? What does that mean?
WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I think there's -- certainly, the United States would like to be engaged on the side of emerging democracy in the region. The question is how to do it most effectively.
This is a civil war. There's clearly a right and a wrong side as far as we're concerned morally and Democratically in this. There's no love lost for Gadhafi.
On the other hand, we don't have any legal principle that says when people are in a civil war that you're going to go in there and automatically jump in on top of it. That's why these guys (ph) in NATO are saying what's the need? If you can create a humanitarian need, get a U.N. Security Council resolution, authorizing action, maybe you can do it.
But that need, as the professor, Ajami, says, Gadhafi is smart. He's going to keep this below the threshold at which NATO is impelled to take action.
COOPER: But is it possible to even get the U.N. -- is it possible to get the U.N. to take action? I mean, if you're passing the buck to the U.N., and you have Russia and China, who are not likely to, you know, authorize intervention in a country like Libya, aren't you stuck then?
CLARK: Well, there is a problem with Russia and China. There's no doubt about it. But if the need were great enough, they could be embarrassed to do it.
In 1999 -- or 1998, we had a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing humanitarian action under Chapter 7 in Kosovo, which later was the legal basis for NATO action in 1999 in Kosovo. It's not impossible. It could be done. It hasn't been done.
And the problem is that Gadhafi's moving this show forward. He's got the momentum on the ground, as -- as retired General Jim Clapper, our director of national intelligence, said today. If you look at the balance of forces and the momentum, of course it's going to go back and forth. But there are no signs that the Gadhafi forces now are crumbling. He does have a technical military superiority.
So just flying aircraft over the top of him, even if you take out his air defense, unless you're willing to intervene against the tanks and the ships. And that's not a no-fly zone. Now you're talking about something else, and you're going to need people on the ground to tell friend from foe, and now you're actually getting engaged.
COOPER: But you know what?
CLARK: So what's the basis for this?
COOPER: There are other...
CLARK: That's the question. It can be done, but what's the basis?
COOPER: Fouad, I was reading Nick Kristof's column in which he quotes a former Air Force general who says, "Look, you know, if we can't do a no-fly zone against a third-rate military like Libya, you know, we might as well stop spending money on the military." That some generals are making it seem harder than they think it really is, that even flying some planes over Libya might send a message to Gadhafi's forces to stop.
AJAMI: Absolutely. This General McPeak, I believe, who was an Air Force general. Look, we have great generals. We have a great general with us today. It's not about the generals. We can hear from one general who says it's mission impossible. Another general can say we can do it.
It's about the president of the United States understanding the stakes and the struggle, understanding the meaning of Libya, understanding the meaning of tyranny, understanding the whole idea of rescue. That this is what America does indeed in these situations.
We rescued the Bosnians. We didn't quibble with the legalities. And I think General Clark knows all this better. We rescued the Kosovites in 1999. We could do it if we want to. The president of the United States doesn't want to do it.
And I think we can see what's happening in Libya with such great clarity. When Zawiya fell, one person from Zawiya said, describing the grief and the sorrow, he said there's no animal in the streets, there's no bird in the sky.
This is it. We can see what's happening in Libya. And I think if the president doesn't want to speak to it, if the president doesn't want to do this rescue, it doesn't matter what the generals, what this military expert would say and what that military expert would say.
And then we say there has to be regional consensus. Well, the Arabs are telling us no-fly zone, it's OK. The Africans are saying it. But it's not really about the Arabs and the Africans. It's about the Libyans themselves. And so the talk of that regional sensitivity is just an alibi for doing nothing.
COOPER: General Clark, what about that? If the U.N. doesn't make a move but if, you know, the Arab League and other regional players, who are all, you know, affected by what happens in Libya, say that they support a no-fly zone -- and Hillary Clinton is going to be visiting the region next week -- would that be a legal framework? CLARK: Well, it might go a long way if you had the Arab League and their secretary-general espousing the need for a no-fly zone. I'd like to see him say it. I'd like to see them say it in writing. I'd like to see him say it publicly. I think that would go a long way if we can't get a U.N. agreement.
But this is not about the president of the United States, despite what Fouad Ajami says. It's not. This is about -- the United States is a great power. We are on the side of the progressive forces of history, there's no doubt about it. But one of the forces we stand for as an American, power is the rule of law. We're not a country that's going to go in and say, "You don't agree with us? We're going to knock you out. We'll set up a little rebellion; we'll go in and knock you off." We're not doing that.
Now, Professor Ajami and I have been on television for a long time together, discussing the wisdom of going into Iraq before we went into Iraq. And that was a much more clear case. We had U.N. support on that, to some extent, and there were a lot of strong advocates for going into Iraq. And there were people who said, "Look, this is not a problem. Let's just go in there and get it done. The Iraqi people want freedom."
Well, it's been eight years. We're still there. We've spent over a billion dollars. We've lost 5,000 people, and the major problem is still Iran and its nuclear weapons.
So we're all in sympathy with the people of Libya who want freedom. Nobody out here is defending Gadhafi,and I'm sure the president of the United States isn't defending him. It's -- the United States is a great power. We operate in accordance with international law and principles. We set the standards in the world. Let's apply those standards in this case.
So if the Arab League really wants it, I don't want a couple of Arab writers t write it in a newspaper and say, "I talked to somebody who said it." I'd like to see it official come from these governments. Call on the United Nations.
CLARK: Make their case.
COOPER: We're tight on time. But Fouad, I want you to respond.
AJAMI: I don't need the moral (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the secretary-general of the Arab League. That's not what we really need. It doesn't matter what Amr Musa thinks. It matters what we think as Americans of what's happening in Libya.
And we say we are for the forces of freedom? Well, why don't we recognize the government in Benghazi? Why don't we acknowledge them as a legitimate government and make their life easy?
This doesn't mean boots on the ground. It just means moral clarity, just like France did. We acknowledge the government, the people, the committee in Benghazi as the government of the Libyans. It will have enormous impact without -- without the power of guns.
COOPER: Fouad Ajami, General Wesley Clark, appreciate your -- both of your expertise. Thank you.
Up next, a voice from inside Libya. Doctor who describes bloody and brutal fighting, the bombing of mosques and medical clinic. How he is treating opposition fighters and unarmed civilians and even Libyan government forces with terrible injuries, running out of supplies.
Also ahead, the latest from Wisconsin. Police were literally dragging protesters away after a bombshell in the budget union crisis there. We've got a live update from that.
COOPER: More new video coming out of Libya, video we just received, purportedly taken on Sunday. I want to warn you right now, it's very difficult stuff, very hard to take, but we are determined to show you the reality of what is happening. The Gadhafi regime does not want you to see these images.
We reported in Zawiya they are already sweeping the blood off the streets, carting away the wreckage, and hunting down anyone they suspect. So that's why we're showing you these videos.
A child wounded in the fighting in Misrata. This is what it looks like when wars are fought on city streets. The people who live there, old, young, it doesn't matter, they end up paying a very heavy price. These will not be the last such images we see.
We spoke earlier by phone tonight with a doctor who says he is treating opposition fighters, government forces, and unarmed civilians alike with horrible injuries. He says Gadhafi's regime is bombing mosques while people are praying and that he's running out of medical supplies. After fleeing from the town of Ras Lanuf to Brega, because medical clinics are also being bombed.
For his protection, we're not using his name and I'll tell you, we cannot independently verify what he is saying.
COOPER: What is the situation in Brega?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, right now we just -- we just come to Brega from Ras Lanuf because our main station was in Ras Lanuf. But after we did the evacuation, we just rush up to the old Brega clinic, which was bombed again. Even the old Brega clinic is bombed.
So we moved to the other clinic at the new Brega. Right now we are running out of supplies, because most of our supplies was at Ras Lanuf clinic and old Brega clinic, and both of them were bombed, as you know.
COOPER: How heavy was the fighting in Ras Lanuf? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot imagine how heavy it was. It was very heavy until the moment that -- they had the -- I mean, the clinic, they hit with three different missiles. I think two of them were coming from air jets and one coming from the seaside. It was so close to the storage area of the clinic.
But you cannot imagine how many -- how many casualties we received there. Different casualties at different -- I mean, amputations and head injuries. We just received a man with a hole -- with his whole brain is out. You cannot imagine how brutal it was.
COOPER: Are you seeing civilians as well as fighters who have been wounded?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of civilians. At least, I mean, the ones that I take, because we evacuated the patients. I transferred six patients. Three of them were civilians, totally civilians, not armed ones. Just young people going there. Totally unarmed people.
COOPER: What do -- what do you want the world to know about what is happening right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to know how brutal it was. I mean, they're just ignoring everything. They are just ignoring hospitals, ignoring mosques. Can you imagine that they hit the mosque while the people who were praying there? Can you imagine that?
They hit the hospital. We were trying to help people. We were trying -- I mean, we all have volunteers from Benghazi, from Abaida, from Devya (ph). All are volunteer doctors. We're not armed. We are totally unarmed doctors. All of us came to Brega and Ras Lanuf just to help people.
We help -- even help the -- I mean, myself two days back, I've been hit at the fire point, trying to help one of the forces of Gadhafi. I mean, I was trying to help a soldier, and my own ambulance has been hit. We had to go to another vehicle to go with that injured man.
COOPER: When you hear that NATO met today, and they say that they're still waiting for events on the ground, they're still watching what's happening, they're watching -- waiting for what they say is demonstrable need, what do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is disappointing. I mean, we cannot imagine how the world is treating us. We just, I mean, we just need them to treat us as humans. We don't want anything. Just give us a break.
Don't let that bombing and that aircraft destroying Libya. They are destroying -- they are destroying the hospitals, destroying the mosques, making all of the people are ready to leave now. Can you imagine a man who is in his own home, as a refugee? They are destroying them, just -- I mean, let them have some common sense. Why they didn't do the no-fly zone? We need it! They are bombing us! They are bombing anything!
COOPER: Does it seem to you that Gadhafi is winning right now? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I mean, the last day, this day, it was the most serious and the most -- I mean, it's bloody like hell. It is so bloody. And he has more and more -- he's increasingly aggressively, I don't know what's happening to him.
COOPER: The battle is intensifying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More and more. More and more.
COOPER: I know you have work to do. Stay safe. Thank you for talking to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.
COOPER: Still ahead, outrage in Wisconsin as police lock down the state capital building. Protesters erupt over a vote on collective bargaining rights for public employees. Ed Lavandera is there with the latest investments.
Well, incredible video that shows a tornado blasting through a hardware store in Alabama. Twelve security cameras recording the terrifying moments. We'll be right back.
COOPER: In Wisconsin at the state capital today, angry protesters literally dug in their heels today, forcing police to drag them, carry them, lead them out of the building forcibly. "Shame shame," they shouted. Dramatic moments today.
It was ultimately a futile effort to stand their ground for union rights. After removing the protesters, police closed the building, and later the assembly voted to limit collective bargaining rights on state workers. Republican senators passed the amended bill last night, even 14 Democrats who left the state to delay a vote were not present.
The move has infuriated opponents who are vowing to take the fight to court. The governor is expected to sign the bill tonight.
Ed Lavandera joins me now from Madison.
How quickly does this new bill go into effect once the governor signs it?
LAVANDERA: Well, actually, what we're hearing is that perhaps the governor will sign it tomorrow. And how quickly it takes effect is very much at least up in the air from our vantage rate at this point. You have several things going on.
Several Democratic officials today filed complaints against the way this bill was brought through the legislative process. They were complaining about the way the Senate voted on it yesterday, passed the assembly yesterday. So that could tie this up in the court. They say the law shouldn't be allowed to into effect. If it does go into effect sooner rather than later, a process of notification has to go out through the labor unions. So exactly how quickly this would take effect is kind of hard to gauge at this point.
COOPER: So all efforts now for union supporters moving forward, is it just going to be through the courts or efforts through the ballot box?
LAVANDERA: There's a lot of different things. There's several prominent Democrats that have acknowledged legislative defeat. But as we mentioned, there's a couple of complaints that have been filed in the district attorney's office and the attorney general's office here in Wisconsin. And also, there are major recall efforts. Our last count was that some 16 senators and legislators face a possible recall: 8 Democrats, 8 Republicans. So that could change things here dramatically as well in the months ahead. Obviously a recall process takes much longer.
But there are a lot of people focusing on those recall aspects. A lot of people talking about recalling Governor Scott Walker, as well. Not only just -- not just those legislators.
COOPER: All right. Ed Lavandera from Madison. Ed, thanks.
Isha Sesay is following other stories for us. She joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin."
SESAY: Anderson, emotions ran high today at a controversial congressional hearing on the radicalization of Muslim Americans. Committee Chairman Peter King defended his decision to hold a session.
Representative Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to Congress, broke down in tears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: He bravely sacrificed his life to try to help others on 9/11. After the tragedy, some people tried to smear his character, so because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers because he was a Muslim. But it was only when his remains were identified that these lies were exposed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, Congressman Ellison criticized the hearing as unjust and un-American.
A spokesman says Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who's recovering from being shot in the head, plans to attend the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on April 19. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is a shuttle missions commander.
In southwest Alabama, you can see the terror on this woman's face as a tornado makes a direct hit on the hardware store she's in. Twelve security cameras were rolling and here's what she's seeing. The tornado blasted the front door off its hinges and knocked out power. A handful of people were in a nearby shopping center were injured.
And Anderson, in Tacoma, Washington, an amazing rescue story to tell you about. A boxer named Sugar collapsed during a dog training class. She wasn't breathing. The trainer started CPR and later said he'd never done CPR on a dog before. But it worked. Sugar was revived, and she's now being treated for heart conditions.
COOPER: Oh, Sugar.
SESAY: I know. I think they said it was mouth to nose.
COOPER: Yes. I should learn how to do that. It's probably a good thing.
SESAY: You should learn how to do that. I'll test you when I come up to New York.
COOPER: If you bring a dog.
SESAY: I can buy one.
COOPER: OK. A lot more ahead at the top of the hour, starting with Libya where government forces are gaining the upper hand and trying to eliminate evidence of their brutality.