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Inside Politics

United States and Great Britain Launch Strikes Against Iraq

Aired February 16, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein has to got understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: While meeting with an ally in Mexico, President Bush warns an old United States foe. We will have live updates on the air strike against Iraq. That includes the latest from Baghdad on injured in the aftermath of the attack.

Also ahead, Bill Clinton's pardon problem: Is it tough for a former president to conduct damage control?

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.

SHAW: Thank you for joining us. Judy is on assignment.

Speaking in Mexico a little over an hour ago, President Bush called the first military action he authorized a routine mission to enforce Iraq's no-fly zone. The United States, along with Britain, launched attacks against five military command-and-control centers near Baghdad today. The Pentagon says the sites posed an increasing danger to U.S. and British patrol aircraft.

We begin our coverage at the Pentagon with CNN's Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, it's true that the United States and Great Britain have been attacking Iraq almost every other day or so since 1998, but this strike was not routine. For one thing, it was heavier than usual, and for the other, it was outside the no-fly zone.

Above the 33rd parallel, which is northern boundary of the no-fly zone, U.S. and British planes, F-18s and F-15s and Tornadoes, flying up to the edge of the zone and then using stand-off weapons to attack five radar sites. The Pentagon insisted today that the attack was not an offensive strike but in self-defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LT. GEN. GREGORY NEWBOLD, JOINT STAFF DIR. OF OPERATIONS: The military operation was conducted because the Iraqi air defenses had been increasing both their frequency and the sophistication of their operations. Both the frequency and the more sophisticate command and control of their operations had yielded an increased threat to our aircraft and our crews.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: Now, the Pentagon says five sites were hit, five target areas. Four of them were above the 33rd parallel. These were all radar sites, or command and control sites, for which radars were being used to look down to the southern no-fly zone to give Iraqi gunners and missile technicians a better look.

Here is a picture of the type of radar the Pentagon says it took out today, in these strikes in southern Iraq. And in order to accomplish this without crossing over the 33rd parallel, the U.S. used the latest stand-off weaponry, including the AGM-130, which is a optically-guided bomb that can be guided from the back seat of an F- 15.

Here we see some shots that were taken from the war in Yugoslavia in 1999 that shows the accuracy of this weapon, this stand-off weapon that can be fired from some distance away. So, that was technique employed in order to take out these sites without actually crossing into the airspace around Baghdad.

Now, the United States says it's not limited to going in that airspace, but did not want to fly into the teeth of the Iraqi air defenses, didn't want to take a chance and that's why these stand-off weapons were employed. Twenty radars altogether, the Pentagon believes it accomplished what it wanted to do in making the sky safer, and again the U.S. insisting that this was in response to Iraqi provocations, the continued effort to shoot down U.S. and British planes and was not an offensive action -- Bernie.

SHAW: Jamie, since the United States and Britain knew where these command and control centers were south of Baghdad and the one north of Baghdad, does the Pentagon assume that Saddam Hussein will rebuild and relocate these command and control centers?

MCINTYRE: One of the things that's not clear is whether any of these targets were the same targets that were hit back in 1998 during Operation Desert Fox, when targets around Baghdad were hit, whether these were in fact rebuilt areas from that air strike. But the U.S. says if it has to keep hitting things over and over again, if it has to keep going back and hitting those air defense sites, it'll do that in order to ensure the safety of its pilots.

SHAW: Thank you, Jamie McIntyre with the latest from the Pentagon. The attack against Iraq played out while President Bush was on his first international trip to Mexico. Our senior White House correspondent John King is traveling with Mr. Bush -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, this was to be the carefully choreographed first steps by this president on the world stage. He came to this familiar place, Mexico, to meet with a familiar face, President Vicente Fox, but all the while President Bush knew before the day was out he would be talking about his decision to authorize the first offensive military action of his presidency, the strikes we just heard Jamie McIntyre explain, against Iraqi air defense sites near Baghdad.

Mr. Bush, we're told, was briefed at the White House yesterday and told that in the view of the commanders on the ground in the region, these sites posed an increasing threat to U.S. and allied pilots. At that time, Mr. Bush gave an immediate go-ahead.

He was in meetings here with President Fox when he receive word through the White House situation room, relayed to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, that the operation was in the view of the U.S. officials, a success.

Later, speaking to reporters here in Mexico, Mr. Bush made clear there should be no doubt that this new administration is committed to aggressively enforcing those sanctions imposed against Saddam Hussein at the end of the Gulf War.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm. We will enforce the no-fly zone both south and north. Our intention is to make sure that the world is as peaceful as possible, and we're going to watch very carefully as to whether or not he develops weapons of mass destruction, and if we catch him doing so, we'll take the appropriate action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, these strikes come at a time when the administration is trying to do more to help the internal Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein, and as we watched President Bush today out in public, his first public test as the commander-in-chief, it was also a reminder that while he is new to presidency, he is surrounded by many veterans of the Gulf War.

Dick Cheney, of course, the vice president, was defense secretary at the time, and here in Mexico with the president. Condi Rice, his national security adviser, she was a deputy in the previous Bush administration, and the secretary of state, the man charged with building the diplomatic support for keeping those sanctions in place, of course, is the retired General Colin Powell, the top U.S. military commander in Operation Desert Storm -- Bernie.

SHAW: John, a quick somewhat off-beat question, admittedly. But are members of the president's staff trying to avoid gallows humor such as Saddam Hussein now facing Bush II?

KING: They make no reference at all and they refuse to make that. They say this a consistent U.S. policy carried from the end of the Bush administration through the Clinton administration. They make no secret of the fact that they believe Saddam Hussein from time to time acts deliberately and provocatively to try to interfere with U.S. policy in the Middle East or around the world.

They can't say for sure this was a test of the new president, but they do say for sure that he will continue to authorize such strikes if necessary, although the president was at pains today to call this routine, saying he had to approve it only because it was planned a day in advance and that the pilots in the air and the commanders on the ground in the region have full authority to enforce those sanctions against Saddam Hussein -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, John King, traveling with the president of the United States in Mexico. Well, by our watch, it was about four hours ago when explosions echoed in Baghdad and anti-aircraft fire erupted over the city. It is now after 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning in Iraq, where CNN's Jane Arraf is standing by -- Jane.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, we have just received a statement from the Iraqi government, the first statement since the attack, and it seems to be billing this attack as a prelude to a holy war. President Saddam Hussein has just had a meeting with his Revolutionary Command Council and the Baath Party leadership.

In his statement, he says that if anyone needed proof that the United States was allied with Israel -- and Iraq does not call it Israel. They call it the "usurping Zionist entity" -- then this attack was it. He says that this is proof of their evil intentions, and that it is just a prelude to a coming attack by Israel on the Palestinians and on the Arab nation.

In the last few weeks, we've seen a ratcheting up of the rhetoric here in Iraq with President Saddam saying that he would, if he could, attack Israel, and launching a drive for what he calls six million volunteers, here, to go and liberate Palestine.

Now in terms of the attack, the Iraqi government has released pictures of what it says are civilian casualties. In one of the main hospitals, it's said just shortly, that the first casualty, a woman who had been hit by the attack, had died in hospital. It's now taking reporters to the site. We'll have more details coming up -- Bernie.

SHAW: Jane, one question. In President Saddam Hussein's push to get the sanctions against Iraq lifted, what is the significance of his linking his cause with that of the Palestinians?

ARRAF: During the Gulf War, 10 years ago now, President Saddam Hussein was a very strong symbol of what he called the drive to liberate Palestine. There were massive demonstrations in the streets in support of him because he is seen as one of the very few Arab leaders on the street who stand up to the West.

He is again take over that role. While other Arab nations have been what Iraq says are too silent on what's going on, the increasing conflict in the West Bank and Gaza, because Iraq, says, of their relationship with the United States, Iraq has taken the lead in condemning the violence and not just condemning it, in sending money to Palestine, in rallying troops, in training what it says are volunteers who will actually go and fight against Israel.

This is a way for him to regain support in the Arab world, not just in terms of the Middle East conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but in terms of the push to get sanctions lifted. The feeling being that the U.S. is not an honest broker, that it is aligned with Israel against the Palestinians, against the Arabs, and that the sanctions now in place against Iraq for the past 10 years are just another example of that anti-Arab bias by the U.S. as Iraq describes it -- Bernie.

SHAW: Jane Arraf with the very latest from the capital of Iraq, Baghdad. Thanks very much. We have now live on the telephone former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. He speaks to us from Kent, Connecticut.

Dr. Kissinger, in your judgment, is Saddam Hussein making headway in the Arab world in his effort to get sanctions against his nation lifted, especially with his linking his cause to that of the Palestinians?

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, Saddam has made headway for two reasons: One, because all the various sanctions and U.N. inspections that were set up have gradually disintegrated, and without reaction by United States; and secondly, because of the failure of the Middle East peace negotiations under our aegis. So, for both of these reasons America has looked less imposing in the area.

SHAW: I know it is not lost on that you the United States and Britain prosecuted the air strikes today and not France. My question is in your judgment, how fragile are the sanctions against Saddam Hussein?

KISSINGER: Well, the sanctions are being violated at least by subterfuge by too many countries. On the other hand, the United States has absolutely nothing to gain abandoning sanctions. That will only encourage the other radical regimes in the region.

So we cannot just abandon 10 years of effort as long as Saddam Hussein is in place. And Saddam Hussein can escape the sanctions if he produces credible evidence that he is not producing weapons of mass destruction.

SHAW: One last question, during the just concluded United States presidential campaign, at one point in the campaign trail then- candidate Texas Governor George Bush said that if he took office, and if it were found that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, he, Mr. Bush, quote, "would take him out," unquote.

Is there a risk that this son of a former United States president, George Herbert Walker Bush, might take this all personal in his dealings with the Iraqi government and the president of Iraq?

KISSINGER: I don't think so. I think the action that was taken by the president today is the right action. I believe that we have no way out with respect to Iraq except to insist on the agreements on which the Gulf War was ended. And from what I have seen of this administration, it acts with very careful deliberation, and not on the basis of any personal feelings.

SHAW: Dr. Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state, joining us live by telephone from Kent, Connecticut. Thank you very much.

Some more perspective now on this day's events in Iraq and the overall U.S. Policy in region, we are joined here in Washington by Michael O'Hanlon. He's a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Your first blush reaction to all that's been happening the past few hours?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The main thing is this is a continuation of existing policy. I don't see any major change. Mr. Bush may have overestimated the degree to which he could make that argument and have a visit to Mexico otherwise unimpeded by his first major military action. But this is not unusual in the context of what we've been doing for last 10 years. It's a tactical response to new Iraqi tactics, but it's not a shift in strategy.

SHAW: So from the Clinton to the Bush administration, U.S. policy on Iraq is seamless?

O'HANLON: So far. I believe the Bush administration will do a more substantial review of its basic Iraq policy. There are people in this administration who would like to aid the Iraqi resistance, for example, with arms and consider even using U.S. air power in military strikes to help those forces on the ground.

I'm not sure if they will win the debate, but that's a debate that's still unfolding in this administration. We just don't know. They may rethink the basic approach to the no-fly zone. They may, for example, reduce the number of airplanes, and do more of these retaliatory strikes when necessary, like we did today rather than enforce the no-fly zone on day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis. I think those kinds options will be considered. So far, we don't know the result.

SHAW: What impact do you foresee in the Middle East, especially within the Arab countries?

O'HANLON: Well, our position just went from bad to a little worse, but that's sort of a continuation, again, of what's been happening for 10 years with the Arab-Israeli peace process broken down such as it is, with the Iraqi people still suffering under sanctions, even though we've tried to find ways to alleviate their suffer, but that hasn't really helped. In this context, it's just going to make things tougher on Arab street to maintain sanctions, to maintain our military presence. But I think those two basic cornerstones of our policy can be sustained, it's just going to be tough.

SHAW: Putting yourself in the shoes of Arab leaders, how much pressure are they under to support Saddam Hussein?

O'HANLON: Well, they're in a bad position because they can't really support us. I'm not sure they have to support Saddam, but they have to show some sympathy with Iraqi people. They have to show some resistance to a Western-Israeli front that Saddam has tried to create image of in people's minds in region, and they really have to worry about being seen too close to us. I'm not sure they have to worry about supporting Saddam directly, but if they are involved, even implicitly, in military operations against fellow Arabs and that's the perception on the street, that's a political problem for them.

SHAW: And of course, the situation was far different 10 years ago when Syria and Egypt deployed troops with the coalition forces.

O'HANLON: That's right, and certainly in the case of Syria, in the case of Jordan. Of course, Jordan was never firmly behind the coalition, but we're seeing a sliding and we're seeing these countries return back to, in a sense, the political positions you would expect them to occupy based on the realities of what's going on in street in their own countries. But the key is will Saudi Arabia and Kuwait stand by these Western operations. Those are the real keys.

SHAW: Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. Thanks for coming over here so quickly.

O'HANLON: My pleasure.

SHAW: More on this day's military strike against targets in Iraq after a quick break. We will join CNN's Christiane Amanpour in London for the latest on Britain's role in today's air strikes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Today's strikes against Iraqi targets were carried out by a mix of U.S. and British aircraft. For the latest on what British officials are saying about the strikes, we join CNN's Christiane Amanpour in London -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, significant that it is really only Britain that can continue to support the United States in these military actions and in maintaining sanctions on Iraq. What everybody is calling a coalition is really whittled down to just the United States and Britain.

And so Britain, today, submitted six of its fighters to this operation. There were 24 planes altogether. Britain had six of them. According to a Ministry of Defense spokesman, they targeted six targets inside Iraq. There's a slight discrepancy with what the Americans are saying. They're saying five targets. I'm sure this will all come out in the wash when we get more details.

But the British are saying six targets, Their planes came from an air base where they were stationed in Kuwait, They say that they struck the targets successfully, although they will not be able to have a complete bomb damage assessment until daylight hours where they're able to go over and check really just how much they took out, and whether it was entirely successful, as they had hoped that it would have been.

In any event, the airplanes went back to base and went there safely. Politically, a Downing Street spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office is saying, that this was quote, "a measured and targeted response to an increase in threat by the Iraqi military on the ground towards British and U.S. planes that are patrolling the no- fly zone."

And they're saying this increased threat was particularly visible in January, in the last few weeks of this year. Compared to the entire of last year, they had more threats in one month of this year. So, this is why, they say, they have taken this action.

In terms of how they coordinated with the United States, it was on a ministerial level. The British minister of defense, Geoff Hoon was in consultation with the United States. Prime Minister Blair was not in consultation, we're told, with President Bush. This was done at the ministerial level with obviously, Blair authorizing and being kept apprised of the action as it took place -- Bernie.

SHAW: Christiane, I suppose the British government is indicating that it will remain vigilant in these kinds of operations should more be needed?

AMANPOUR: Absolutely, I mean, the British have taken a very similar line to the United States in that they feel that this is the only way to contain Saddam Hussein. I think everybody knows that this is not the most satisfactory policy, but it is the only policy that they have at the moment: Keeping sanctions on, responding to a threat when it arises, a military threat, and trying to as they have said it, they quote, keep Saddam Hussein in his box. Basically try to keep him as unthreatening as possible.

But it is very interesting, that this comes at this particular time. You've got the 10-year anniversary of the end of Gulf War, which now in retrospect looks to have been concluded not totally satisfactorily. You've got a new American administration, and you've got an American administration that is saying that it is now reviewing its policy, that it's going to decide how to proceed.

It wants to reenergize sanctions, which is going to be difficult given the intense opposition from around the world to the sanctions. It's already given a lot of money, millions of dollars it's just released to the Iraqi opposition group, which actually is based here in London.

So all these new developments going on. And you know, some people have been saying that this appears to have been a tough signal from the new U.S. administration that, hey, we're new, but we're here, and this is what we're going to continue to do, much like the Clinton administration did.

SHAW: Christiane Amanpour reporting from London. And for more of a global view of this day's air strike, we're joined now by Toby Harndon of the British newspaper, "The Daily Telegraph"; and Gil Tamary of Israeli Television and in New York, Raghida Dergham, the senior diplomatic correspondent for the newspaper "Al-Hayat"

Raghida Dergham, I'd like to start with you. What reaction are you hearing? What are you getting?

RAGHIDA DERGHAM, "AL-HAYAT": Well, of course, there is a mixed reaction from different parts of world, but there is also a mixed signal coming out of Washington, and I say that because yesterday the secretary of state, Colin Powell, was at the United Nations making statements and meeting with other permanent members on the security council, trying to save that consensus that has disintegrated amongst the five permanent members, speaking of possibility of accepting Iraq back into, to use his words, as a progressive member of the international community if it delivers cooperation.

And then, of course, in 10 days, there is another scheduled meeting between the secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and a delegation from Iraq to discuss, to have a dialogue on how to get out of the status quo and bring in a better understanding of what's needed.

So, this coming in-between, I think, is sending a sort of mixed signal, but I think the signal that the administration wanted for the Iraqis to get is don't be overconfident. Beware, we're willing to review, but you also must know that we're there also in complete readiness when you try to target us too much on the no-fly zone.

SHAW: And the Israeli correspondent, Gil Tamary, what are you hearing? What are you picking up?

GIL TAMARY, ISRAELI TELEVISION: Every time that there is an American activity in Iraq, the Israeli people become alert. As you know, Bernie, we just ended a few phone calls with Israel and everyone wants to know if it's something sporadic or it's real change in the American policy because you must remember that the Israelis are the ones that are living in this tough neighborhood, and every Israeli still remembers that Saddam Hussein launched missile against Israel when he was in the conflict with U.S.A. during the Gulf War.

So in Israel, the people are very concerned, and they think they are very encouraged to hear the things that Colin Powell said just on CNN last week, when he said that if Saddam Hussein will continue to produce a mass destruction weapon, the United States will be after him. I think it is very encouraging signal.

SHAW: And we check up with Toby Harndon of the British newspaper, "The Daily Telegraph" -- Toby.

TOBY HARNDON, "THE DAILY TELEGRAPH": Well, I think in Britain, it's seen very much as a continuation of previous policy. But there are also two other aspects to this. I think it's seen as sending a very strong message to the Iraqi people and to the world that 10 years on after the Gulf War, we've got a return to -- you've got Bush's, George Bush Senior's son as president. You've got Cheney. You've got Powell.

And I think there's a sense in Britain that this is a message saying that we will finish off the job that we didn't quite finish off properly 10 years ago. I think it also reasserts the idea that Britain is the United States' principal ally, and it comes just a week before our prime minister, Tony Blair, comes to Washington to hold talks with Mr. Bush at the White House and at Camp David.

SHAW: Well, that was a point I was going to raise with you, Toby. In a sense, do the United States and Britain feel that they, if you will, are the lone rangers now with France having backed away from being a staunch coalition supporter?

HARNDON: Yes, I think there are certainly elements of that. I think there are also tensions within Europe over the national missile defense program and also over plans for a common European defense policy, a rapid reaction force. I think Britain sees itself as very much the bridge between Europe and the United States, and this will be a message that Tony Blair will want to reinforce when he comes here next week.

SHAW: Raghida Dergham, are these strikes likely to help President Saddam in the Arab world?

DERGHAM: Superficially maybe, yes, but that is because the environment, the regional environment is really quite upset about the continuation of the sanctions to begin with. But then there is the Israeli factor, if you will. As my colleague from Israel has been saying, the Iraqis having weapons of mass destruction, in the Arab mind, there is an absolving of Israel when it has the nuclear bomb and the weapons of mass destruction, and there is a concentration against Iraq only.

And that's where Israel becomes the complicating factor in the American policy in Middle East from the point of view of the majority of the Arabs. And then also you have a problem with the no-fly zone. Some countries, and Iraqis in particular and a lot of members of the Security Council, they say that this is not authorized by the Security Council. So, then the grounds for it are shaken,

And finally, if I may point out to the problem of the Israeli- Palestinian negotiations and failure of the negotiations, Mr. Saddam Hussein might like to make himself the hero of the Arab street and I don't think he will be. These are two issues that do meet every now and then, but the problems between the Palestinians and the Israelis are tackled and looked at independently from the problems of the Iraqi people who are suffering because of the sanctions and everything else. So I think there is going to be a review now, but at any rate, it's -- it's too early to see if there is going to be a new policy or not.

I think in Washington there is a lot of debate and fight amongst the newcomers to administration. Hopefully reason will prevail.

SHAW: Gil Tamary, Ariel Sharon, the prime minister-elect, of course, was a former defense minister of Israel. Presumably he would applaud the action taken by Washington and London today?

TAMARY: Of course there is no question about it, because Saddam Hussein is a threat to Israel. We saw it during the 10 last years, and furthermore, if we look about the Bush defense, anti-missile defense program, this is something that the Israeli new government and the Israeli existing government is for, and they want to see it as soon as possible. You must remember that there is American support and aid in the development of the Arrow missile that is some weapon that try like the Patriot to deal with the threats in the region from countries like Iran, like Iraq, like even Syria that is a much closer neighbor of Israel.

SHAW: Gil Tamary of Israeli Television; Raghida Dergham, the senior diplomatic correspondent of the newspaper "Al-Hayat"; and Toby Harndon of the British newspaper "The Daily Telegraph." Thank you all for joining us on such short notice. Thanks very much.

DERGHAM: Thank you very much. Thank you.

SHAW: You're quite welcome. And there's much more ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS, including live reports from New York and the State Department right after the break.

Also ahead, Bill Clinton's new reality. How his status as private citizen affects his response to the Marc Rich -- Marc Rich pardon controversy.

And later, political conservatives find strength in numbers and count the reasons to rejoice with Bill Clinton out of office.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: And now for more on this day's airstrikes on Iraq, we turn now to the diplomatic front. CNN senior United Nations correspondent Richard Roth is standing by in New York, and State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel is here in Washington.

Richard, let's find out what you can tell us about the diplomatic reaction in New York first.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can give you the most immediate reaction, which occurred just moments ago from Iraq's new U.N. ambassador here in New York, Muhammad al-Duri. He said -- quote -- "Just like any Iraqi, we're disappointed." However, he said he has not been briefed yet by Baghdad.

This new ambassador certainly going to get jolted now. He's barely presented his credentials to the United Nations, and he was set to participate, along with the foreign minister of Iraq, in high-level talks with the United Nations officials, including U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan, in about 10 days. There's no word yet if those talks are going to be postponed.

Diplomatic reaction, though, certainly hones in on the big five, the Security Council. It's their resolutions, the Council's resolutions, under which the United States and Britain unleashed these air assaults.

One Western diplomat, not the U.S. or Britain, said he was stunned by the bombings when informed by CNN. Stunned, especially because at a meeting on Wednesday U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell stressed a tone of dialogue and compromise with the other big powers in a meeting he held with them at the United States mission to the U.N.

One Chinese diplomat said: "We condemn this bombing by the U.S. and British airplanes. We are opposed to the use of arms without the authority of the Security Council." Of course, Britain and the United States believe they have the authority under existing Security Council resolutions -- Bernie.

SHAW: And quickly back to Washington and the State Department. Our correspondent there, Andrea Koppel.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to go to the Middle East. Will this really complicate his mission?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, it certainly won't make it any easier. Secretary Powell traveling there at the end of next week with two objectives: one, to try to urge restraint between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and perhaps get the peace process back on track, and the second objective is to try to re- energize, to try to rebuild support for existing sanctions against Iraq.

He's going to be meeting with a number of leaders within the moderate Arab world, Bernie. They are under tremendous pressure from their own peopled, especially considering the violence of the last five months in the Palestinian territories and Israel, to lift those sanctions.

Watching for the last 10 years, seeing pictures coming out of Baghdad of suffering Iraqis, today, again, seeing pictures of wounded Iraqis. This is, of course, Saddam Hussein's effort to play on the emotions, which he's done so well, of the Arab world -- Bernie.

SHAW: Andrea Koppel, thanks to you at the State Department, and in New York, Richard Roth.

When we come back, Robert Novak and his "Reporter's Notebook" with some new information regarding the airstrikes today in Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Here now to talk about the airstrikes against Iraq, Robert Novak of "The Chicago Sun-Times," "EVANS & NOVAK" and "THE CAPITAL GANG." And your "Reporters Notebook."

Bob, do you see an exit strategy by the Bush administration in its policy toward Iraq?

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely not. It seems to me it's the same old policy of being tough and of no compromise, but no strategy for winning the war either. So we have these incidents and probably lose support in the Arab world. The coalition has dwindled down to two countries now, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The interesting thing, Bernie, is that talking to a lot of people in the administration, and I have never found anything, any talk about Iraq outside of the campaign. And suddenly, there's this -- this sort of an institutional attack on Iraq. And I don't see any way of getting out of it. And I think it's a distraction also from an administration, which everybody has been telling me this week, the most important thing is to get their tax cut through.

SHAW: In the United States, there's an old saying: All politics stops at the water's edge. All planes return safely. On Capitol Hill, will the 107th United States Congress back this policy?

NOVAK: Oh, absolutely. I would say that one of the rarest breeds in Washington or American politics is a friend of Saddam Hussein. They just don't -- they just don't make them anyway. And you're not going to lose by looking tough, and particularly if you're not having any loss of American life.

The problem, Bernie, though, is that, as we talked about before, the exit strategy of where you go from here. Is this a popular issue? Is this something that the American people are going to really be engaged in? That's something that I doubt.

And I would say that it didn't come at a particularly good day. It was President Bush's first outing. The people in the Bush, in the White House have been talking to me about how this Mexico trip was going to be his -- really set him off in his first foreign policy question, of course.

We're not talking about Mexico now. We're talking about good old Iraq. So politically speaking, I don't think it was very helpful.

SHAW: Robert Novak, thanks very much.

This word for you, our viewers around the world. We are awaiting a briefing from President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. She will be speaking from Mexico. And of course, when she addresses the reporters down there, we intend to go and bring it to you.

Up next, political news: from the difficulties of being the former president to the conservative reaction to the new administration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: We are looking at Cristobal, Mexico. This is the site where National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will be briefing reporters on the airstrikes in Iraq, north and south of Baghdad, earlier today Washington time. And also, this is also where, of course, the two leaders of Mexico, President Fox, Vicente Fox, and President Bush, held their summit earlier.

As soon as Ms. Rice steps up to brief reporters, we're going to take you there live.

Meantime, former President Clinton and the city of New York today agreed on a deal that would allow him to locate his new office in Harlem. A city department held the lease for -- she is coming out now, I'm told. Condoleezza Rice is coming out now. We're going to interrupt reporting that story and take you live there.

While she is approaching the microphones, I will say the obvious, that this is the first world event of important magnitude to be publicly addressed by Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser to the president since the Bush administration took office on January 20th.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I'd just first like to say that I think that this meeting was an absolutely wonderful start to a new U.S.-Mexican partnership.

President Fox and President Bush issued a communique, which you heard read by the two foreign secretaries, that I think gives us a very good basis for moving forward. They agreed that they are going to address problems as well as opportunities in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. And we're very excited about the new leaf that is being turned over in U.S.-Mexican relations. And I look forward to working with our Mexican counterparts well into the future.

Questions?

QUESTION: If I can go straight to Iraq? What can you tell us about when the president was first informed about the situation in Iraq, who informed him, what kind of deliberations there were, and how and when he made the decision?

RICE: Well, I'm not going to get into the decision-making processes that we have. But let me just say that we have four enforcements of the no-fly zone since we have been in office.

It is a fairly routine occurrence, because the United States enforces the no-fly zone with its coalition partners. And the only thing here is that there are some enforcement actions that require national command authority authorization, as well as notification. This is one of those. But we have to realize, this is quite a routine act, and it is aimed at making certain that our pilots are safe in the theater.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... enforcement, Dr. Rice, also require this, sort of, authorization?

RICE: There are different levels of authorization that are required, but I can't go into the decision-making here. Only to say, that we routinely enforce the no-fly zone. It is done, and we do whatever we can to make certain that our pilots are going to be safe. These were assets that were threatening to American and coalition partners in their efforts to enforce the no-fly zone.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what it was that triggered the review at this level, as opposed to the others?

RICE: I can't get into how the operating procedures work, only to say that under this circumstance the president was notified and did authorize. But this is a long-standing policy. There isn't any change in policy. This has been going on since 1991. And I think you would find that there were enforcement actions of this kind, as well, in the past.

QUESTION: Did the planes fly from Saudi Arabia?

RICE: I'm not going to get into operations on the ground. Can I refer you also to the Pentagon? They've been briefing on this and you may want to take any more detailed questions to them.

QUESTION: A question on drug certification: What assurances...

SHAW: Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, addressing reporters there in Mexico where the president today earlier with Vicente Fox, Mexico's president. She said that she would not get into the United States military decision-making process. She described what happened today as a fairly routine occurrence, meaning enforcing the no-fly zone in northern and southern Iraq. And she said that what happened today was designed to make certain that United States pilots as well as British pilots are safe in the theater.

And she said that these are assets that were threatening, meaning the Iraqi command-and-control radar sites. She said that these were assets that were threatening to the pilots, and they meant to be sure that the pilots could fly safely.

One quick translation: You heard Ms. Rice's Mexican counterpart, Enrique Berruga, speaking briefly after she spoke. And my quick, rough translation indicated he was extolling positive relations between Mexico City and Washington. He projected that over the next four years they look forward to having positive and beneficial relations.

INSIDE POLITICS along with all the developments on the airstrikes in Iraq will continue in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Former President Bill Clinton is having problems and CNN national correspondent Eileen O'Connor reports that Mr. Clinton is finding life after the White House is much different when it comes to managing public relations.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Bill Clinton continues to assert that contributions made by Marc Rich's ex-wife had nothing to do with his decision to grant the fugitive oil financier a pardon. However, as a private citizen, former President Bill Clinton is finding it harder to get his case heard than when he was President Clinton. He's even suffered damning criticism from his own party.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It does not matter that the fugitive was enormously philanthropic. Pardoning a fugitive stands our justice system on its head and makes a mockery of it. O'CONNOR: Political analysts say former presidents lose their control over the party faithful.

CHARLES COOK, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": I think for a lot of Democrats on Capitol Hill there's a feeling of, look, I gave at the office, I've defended this guy for eight years and I'm not doing it anymore.

O'CONNOR: As president, Mr. Clinton had a Rose Garden where he could appear presidential. He could change the subject to national security or the economy. There was always Air Force One to move the focus of the press off the latest investigation. And he always sent out aides to the talk shows to make his case.

COOK: Even if he were still in office, it would be hard to defend, but at least he could make some other news, he could shift another direction and try to deflect the news coverage a different direction. This time he can't do it.

So you know, I think he's kind of stuck with it.

O'CONNOR: As former president, he was able to change the subject once by moving his choice of office space to economically deprived Harlem. His lawyers are not saying whether he will agree to testify on the pardons before Congress, as some lawmakers have demanded.

Some former advisers and prominent Democrats say Mr. Clinton should make his own case, but directly to the people.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I would say that he should on his own explain to the American people the reasons for why he did it and try to shatter some of the cloud that's over his reputation.

O'CONNOR (on camera): But some political analysts say the best thing the former president could do is go underground by taking a long European vacation, giving a few speeches there until all this dies down.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: There is much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. In our next half hour, we will continue our coverage of the U.S. airstrikes against Iraq with reports from Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon and national security correspondent David Ensor.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Saddam Hussein's military command-and-control centers struck at some key sites by United States and British warplanes. Is it a sign that George Walker Bush is getting tough with the Iraqi president?

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.

SHAW: Welcome to our CNN International viewers around the world and welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS.

The Bush administration says the airstrikes launched against Iraqi military targets near Baghdad were an act of self-defense. But President Bush apparently is trying to send a message as well to a regime that has defied the United States and allied partners since Mr. Bush's father was president.

Our Jamie McIntyre is following the military angles at the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Pentagon says, Bernie, that this all began because U.S. pilots patrolling the southern no-fly zone began coming back from their missions reporting that there were some missiles and gunfire that was a little too close for comfort. Now, the Pentagon began analyzing the situation -- U.S. commanders in the region -- and they decided the problem was a series of radars and control centers around Baghdad just outside, just north of the no-fly zone above the 33rd parallel. The solution, they decide: they had to be taken out, and the Pentagon says it had no choice but to take them out in self-defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. GREGORY NEWBOLD, JOINT STAFF DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS: It reached the point where it was obvious to our forces that they had to conduct operations to safeguard those pilots and the aircraft. As a matter of fact, it -- essentially a self-defense measure in conducting the operation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: Pentagon sources say more than 60 planes were involved in the operation, hitting five targets around Baghdad about 9:30 at night, Baghdad time. The targets they hit included more than 20 individual radars at these five separate sites -- U.S. Air Force F-15s and Navy F-18s. The F-15s flying out of Kuwait and Navy F-18s used the latest in high-tech weapons to take out more than 20 of the radars, like this one. These are pictures the Pentagon provided, showing the type of radar that was used.

They used the latest stand-off weaponry in order to conduct the strikes across the 33rd parallel without actually crossing. Here we see one of those weapons, an AGM-130. This cockpit video showing how the bomb is optically guided by the backseater in an F-15 to its target. A very accurate weapon that allows the plane to fire it from miles away without having -- getting to get too close to the Iraqi air defenses.

So, a 24-strike aircraft using the latest in standoff weaponry hit these five weapons sites. The Pentagon insists that they think they did the damage they need to do to improve safety for U.S. pilots patrolling the no-fly zone. And the Pentagon insists that this was not some new, more muscular employment of the enforcement of the no- fly zone, but simply a response to a concerted effort by Iraq to get better at trying to shoot down those U.S. and British planes -- Bernie.

SHAW: Jamie, a question about the Iraqi strategy in the attempt to get better. Was it the installation of these radar, these command and control centers, away from the south?

MCINTYRE: Well, apparently Iraq must have thought that if it put these -- if it used radars that were not actually in the no-fly zone, that they would be in sort of a safe haven up near Baghdad, and then they could relay the information down to the gunners who are in the southern no-fly zone.

But the United States has said all along that it does not limit itself to striking only when fired upon or only the individual weapon systems that fire upon it. Anything that it thinks is a threat, it considers fair game. And in this case, it decide that these five different areas and 20-plus radars were what was really endangering the lives of the pilots. And so, again, the solution, take them out.

SHAW: And one other quick question on tactics: 24 aircraft -- attacking aircraft involved, but you report more than 60 aircraft were involved in the overall operation. I assume that AWACS and other types of planes were involved?

MCINTYRE: Well, the rest of those were support aircraft. One of the very important jobs is performed by the EA-6B, which is a jamming aircraft; it jams the radar. And the Pentagon says that when these planes did go in they did have some sporadic anti-aircraft fire and even some missiles that were fired, but those missiles were fired without the benefit of radar guidance, and so they had very little chance of actually hitting the aircraft. That's because of the jamming and also because of the Iraqi gunners on the ground are well aware that if they turn the targeting radars on, the U.S. planes that are escorting those planes have radar-seeking missiles that can come right in on them. So they're very reluctant to do that.

SHAW: Jamie McIntyre with the latest from the Pentagon.

The Iraqi air strike overshadowed President Bush's first trip outside the United States since taking office January 20.

CNN's John King traveled with Mr. Bush to Mexico.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING (voice-over): His first steps on the world stage were carefully choreographed. A familiar place and a familiar face.

But President Bush knew as he celebrated a new chapter in U.S.- Mexico relations that, before the day was out, he would be explaining U.S.-led military strikes against an old nemesis.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm. We will enforce the no-fly zone, both south and north.

KING: The president authorized his first military operation Thursday, after being told Iraqi radar and air defenses near Baghdad posed an increasing threat to allied pilots.

BUSH: Some of the missions require the commander in chief to be informed. This was such a mission.

KING: The president said he was determined to keep the post-Gulf War sanctions in place and to keep a wary eye on Iraq.

BUSH: We're going to watch very carefully as to whether or not he develops weapons of mass destruction. And if we catch him doing so, we'll take the appropriate action.

KING: Mr. Bush was at ranch of President Vicente Fox when he received word the operation was over, and he tried to keep the focus on his decision to make Mexico his first international stop.

BUSH: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

KING: As predicted, no major agreements, but upbeat talk about friendly cooperation as the two neighbors convene talks in the weeks ahead to discuss the flow of illegal immigrants and illegal drugs from Mexico to the United States.

PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX, MEXICO (through translator): Certainly there is a new attitude; there is a new way of approaching things -- much more positive approach to things on this issue of migration.

KING: But for all the symbolism of the visit, the strikes in Iraq turned attention to Mr. Bush's first test as commander in chief, and on a national security team with two Gulf War veterans: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and retired general and now Secretary of State Colin Powell.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Mr. Bush described it all as routine; said that, in endorsing and authorizing those military strikes, he was simply acting on the recommendation of the military commanders in the region, not adopting a tougher stance against Saddam Hussein. But he also left little doubt that, if asked, he'd say yes again -- Bernie.

SHAW: John, thanks very much with the latest from Mexico and the president's party.

Baghdad is condemning the allied air strike as a prelude to a holy war. Iraqi television reports one woman was killed in the attack and a number of other civilians wounded.

CNN's Jane Arraf is in Baghdad -- Jane.

ARRAF: Bernie, President Saddam Hussein has given his response to this attack, and he says it is proof that the United States is allied with Israel. He says, in fact, that this is not just an isolated attack, that it appears to be a prelude to what he calls a planned Israeli attack on the Palestinians and Arab countries.

The president here has been trying to ally his struggle to have sanctions lifted with the Palestinian cause, the fight against Israel. Iraqi television has reported just a short while ago that one woman has, indeed, died in hospital, the first reported casualty of the bombing. It's shown other pictures of what it says are civilians -- who appear to be civilians, women and children, obviously, in hospital, apparently wounded in the attack. It has not released any figures or any indications of how much damage was done, but it has now taken reporters to the hospital where the casualties were taken.

Iraq has vowed to continue to try to shoot down planes in the no- fly zones in the north and south, and it is indicating that it sees this as the start of a continued aggression against Iraq -- Bernie.

SHAW: That was going to be my question about President Saddam Hussein's response -- whether he expected another coalition response similar to today's air strikes. Is the Iraqi government saying anything about the claims made by London and Washington about the threatening nature of those command and control centers?

ARRAF: I'm sorry, Bernie, could you repeat that question?

SHAW: Is the Iraqi government saying anything in response to the claims made by the United States and London that the command and control centers hit actually threatened American and British pilots?

ARRAF: It has not made any specific response to that claim, but what it will likely say is -- to point to the U.S. statement, which says that this attack was not in response to a specific provocation, but to a series of what it calls provocations.

Iraq, of course, says that when the U.S. attacks -- when it says it's attacking in response to provocations -- Iraq isn't being provocative, it is simply defending itself. It sees these -- it sees the U.S. and the British flights in its airspace as not only a violation of its airspace, but a continuing war. There have been almost daily bombings, daily air clashes going on in the north and south for almost the past two years. Most of these are going unreported and unacknowledged, virtually, because they take place outside of Baghdad.

Tonight, for the first time in two years we have an air strike on the outskirts of the capital; an air strike that has taken place outside the no-fly zones; an attack, as Iraq sees it, on the capital itself and, furthermore, adding a new twist to this, an attack that takes place on Friday, the Muslim holy day, part of the religious significance that the president is putting on this attack -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Jane Arraf with the very latest from Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, where it is early Saturday morning, 10 minutes after 2:00 in the morning.

Well, we're joined now back in the United States by Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, a member of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee. Senator, your first reaction and did you get a heads-up?

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: Well, my first reaction is that this is probably a good, positive move by the United States to say to Saddam Hussein that we are not going to tolerate your locking onto our planes. We're not going to tolerate your violating of the U.N. agreement, the thing that you signed onto, and I think it's a good, positive step by President Bush.

I don't think it should be over-read as saying, OK, this signals a huge escalation or anything else. I think it's just a positive, firm step that President Bush is taking, and I think it looks like it was conducted well.

SHAW: The sanctions against the Iraqi regime, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell going to the region in a matter of days. CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel reporting that Mr. Powell is very concerned about the sagging sanctions, the fact that France has stepped back. How might this strike affect these sanctions in the region, especially among the Arab nations?

BROWNBACK: That's an excellent point because for the past two or three years, really, the sanctions regime has been falling apart from the closer neighbors to Saddam Hussein and now a broader effort and it's just been sagging and loosely falling apart. That was one of my big criticisms in the foreign relations area of President Bill Clinton.

Either let's be robust in our efforts to get Saddam Hussein out of power or let's walk on away from him. But instead, this thing just kind of sagged and moved away from us. I hope that what takes place with this strike and with the administration meeting with the Iraqi National Congress, this is the groups, the opposition groups to Saddam Hussein and signaling the potential of supporting those groups within Iraq that it will tell our allies and people in the region that there is a different president, that we are going to work towards getting Saddam Hussein out of power, and that hopefully that might bolster those sanction regimes to continue.

SHAW: I have a very simplistic question to put to you, senator: How long will this running confrontation between this leader in the United States and the leader in Baghdad go on? How long? It's been 10 years now.

BROWNBACK: We're in our third president since this started, and I would hope really that within, you know, a fairly short period of time, within the next couple of years, we'd resolve either we move forward to removing Saddam Hussein, which is the past law and stated policy of this country, or we say, you know, look, we're just going to contain him and it will eventually wear off.

But we go one way or the other. It is 10 years. We've spent billions of dollars and at the end of the day, we did liberate Kuwait, but within the region, there's still this seething problem and it's Saddam Hussein.

SHAW: Well, you just used the verb remove. When you say remove Saddam Hussein, what are you saying?

BROWNBACK: Well, I'm saying that when we passed the Iraqi Liberation Act and the president, then-President Clinton signed that into law, he stated then our long-term objectives were to get Saddam Hussein out of power in that country. That was what the stated objective was. That was what that was passed about.

And the problem, Bernie, is Saddam Hussein. It's not the Iraqi people. So I think that our long-term effort has to be to say Saddam Hussein has caused countless numbers of death, great hardship, has invaded a neighbor and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction that will threaten that region, our allies and the rest of the world.

He's the problem, and that's where we should address it. I'm not suggesting anything of a covert action. What I'm saying is the overt action of supporting the Iraqi National Congress in the north and the south to hopefully eventually squeeze Saddam out.

SHAW: Senator Sam Brownback, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaking to us from his home state. Thank you very much for joining us.

BROWNBACK: Thank you, Bernie.

SHAW: Quite welcome. And INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: We have on the telephone an Albuquerque, New Mexico reporter. His name is Bob Martin. He's from KRQE-TV. He is not in New Mexico. He is in Adana, Turkey at the base from which New Mexico Air National Guardsman have been flying in the northern no-fly zone of Iraq.

Bob Martin, first of all, I'm wondering what's the reaction among the pilots and the flight crews there to what happened over Iraq today?

BOB MARTIN, WRGE-TV CORRESPONDENT: You know, Bernie, the pilots and crews just keep telling me over and over again they're not involved in the politics. They get their orders from the higher-ups and they go out and execute the plans that they're given.

Off-the-record and kind of off to the side, you just get a sense from them that they are happy when some of these more sophisticated surface-to-air missile sites and radar sites and such get taken out because it's very dangerous. I've been flying with them along the northern no-fly zone, and in riding with them and monitoring their radio frequencies, virtually every day that they go in they get shot it and that is both by AAA, the anti-aircraft artillery and by surface-to-air missiles and they very, very, very seldom shoot back.

Amazing restraint, Bernie, by these pilots who are constantly being shot at to not fire back most of the time. It's very rare that they actually go in, as you know and make a strike on one of these sites.

SHAW: Interesting insight from Bob Martin from KRQE-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thanks very much for joining us. We're going to have to move on because we have a satellite coming up out of London. Thanks very much, Bob.

As we have reported, this day's mission over Iraq included both U.S. and British warplanes. We return now to London where CNN's Christiane Amanpour is once again standing by -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Well, Bernie, as we've been saying, really the United States can only count on Britain these days to be its staunch ally in military affairs against Iraq and in maintaining sanctions. The Ministry of Defense here confirming that six British bombers did take part in this air-raid, that they struck the targets inside Iraq, returned to their bases safely.

They won't be able to do full bomb damage assessment until the daylight hours. But they believe, they say, that they did strike their targets successfully and they said that all the targets were carefully assessed by experts over a period of days specifically to avoid civilian casualties.

The Downing Street spokesman for Prime Minister Blair says that this attack was what they called a measured and targeted response to an increased threat from Iraq that they had been determining over the last month -- Bernie.

SHAW: OK, thank you. Christiane Amanpour with the latest from London. In just a moment, a look at dealing with Iraq, past and present. David Ensor on the political options of the Bush administration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: The current Bush administration inherits the relationship with Iraq shaped by the policies of the Clinton administration and the previous Bush administration. In view of that, CNN's David Ensor examines President George W. Bush's options in dealing with the leader of Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The last time U.S. and allied warplanes attacked targets above the 33rd parallel was Operation Desert Fox in 1998. After less than a month in office, a new president has authorized it again. He and his team have said there will be a tougher policy towards Iraq until it lets arms inspectors back in.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Until he satisfies the international community that he does not have such weapons, is not developing such weapons, we have a goal to make sure that we keep the pressure on.

ENSOR: Bush aides say the tougher approach they plan is in the national interest, nothing personal. But the president can hardly have forgotten that in 1993, U.S. intelligence said Iraqi agents had plotted to kill his father, the former president, while in Kuwait.

Coincidence or not, as the latest U.S. strike was under way, leaders of the opposition Iraqi National Congress were in the State Department in Washington, discussing new funds from the Bush administration for radio broadcasts against the government of Saddam Hussein, to collect intelligence and evidence of war crimes in Iraq and to distribute humanitarian aid.

AHMAD CHALABI, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS: The air strikes of the United States against Saddam's targets today in Iraq are, I believe, part of a new active policy which will help the Iraqi people remove Saddam from power.

ENSOR: The Bush administration says it wants international arms inspectors readmitted to Iraq. But the former deputy chief of UNSCOM says that's not worth doing unless they would have some firm guarantees.

CHARLES DUELFER, FORMER DEPUTY CHAIRMAN, UNSCOM: They'd better be very, very serious weapons inspectors. They'd better have access because the experience that UNSCOM had, the experience that the countries in the region have had at the hands of the Iraqis doesn't bode well for the future.

ENSOR (on camera): Weapons inspectors again? Tightened sanctions? None of this will be an easy sell to Iraq's neighbors whom the secretary of state will be visiting next week. Saddam Hussein has been very successful of late exploiting Arab anger at Israel and turning it against Israel's friend, the United States.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: And that concludes this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com; AOL key word, CNN.

Please stay with CNN throughout night and weekend for the very latest on the air strike against Iraq. At 7:30 p.m. Eastern, Bush campaign foreign policy adviser Richard Pearl will be the guest on "CROSSFIRE." At 8:00 p.m., Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel Berger joins Wolf Blitzer. Former United Nations Iraqi weapons inspector Scott Ritter talks with Greta Van Susteren at 8:30. "LARRY KING LIVE": He will have live reports from Baghdad at 9:00 p.m., and Bill Hemmer anchors a one-hour special at 10:00 p.m. on the air strike against Iraq.

I'm Bernard Shaw in Washington. "MONEYLINE" is next.

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