The Web     
Powered by
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Strike on Iraq

Aired March 21, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: LARRY KING LIVE with CNN's continuing coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As day three dawns over Baghdad, it's a very different Baghdad from yesterday. After the start of the U.S. shock and awe bombing campaign that will drop some 1,500 bombs across Iraq, it's now past 5:00 AM Saturday morning in Baghdad. And we'll have the latest from CNN correspondents on the front lines from northern Iraq down to Kuwait.

We'll hear from reporters embedded with U.S. troops. Colin Soloway of "Newsweek" heading into southern Iraq with the 101st Airborne. And "Newsweek's" Kevin Peraino also in southern Iraq with the 3rd Infantry. Also joining us, Lieutenant General Robert B. Johnston. He was General Norman Schwarzkopf's chief of staff in Desert Storm. Plus U.S. Army Colonel retired David Hackworth, senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Dick Durbin, and former senators Alan Simpson and George McGovern.

We'll start first with a quick question for Colonel Hackworth who, by the way, is one of the most highly decorated veterans in American history. The award-winning military correspondent, he has a new book out called "Steal My Soldier's Hearts." What's your read, Hack, on the occurrences to this minute?

COL. DAVID HACKWORTH, U.S. ARM (RET.): Knock them dead, Larry. Knock them out of the ballpark. It's a win-win situation. Very seldom a military plan goes according to plan. They seldom survive the first shot. And this sucker is in its third day and going along brilliantly on the ground and in the air.

KING: We'll come back to Hack throughout the program. He'll be with us throughout the hour. Let's go now to northern Iraq and Brent Saddler. Brent, can you tell us where you are and what's happening?

BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, Larry. I'm in northern Iraq (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Also, no sign of any shock and awe in this region so far. About 20 explosions (UNINTELLIGIBLE) around the Kirk area in the past few hours. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Yes. We want to apologize for the signal from Brent Saddler. That's one of those videophones and they can be tricky. As soon as we can get that straightened, out we'll go back to Brent.

But let's go back to Colonel Hackworth. Anything about the operation, Colonel, surprise you? HACKWORTH: No. I think it shows the great flexibility, if you'll stop and think on Wednesday night when they had the target of opportunity, the leadership meeting, maybe Saddam Hussein, the pilots and the generals and the president, all of them worked so quick, so fast. It shows the flexibility they have. So, so far, I've got to tell you, almost six decades of being around the military and I'm really impressed.

KING: Hack remains with us. Let's check in by phone with Colin Soloway of "Newsweek." He is embedded with the Army's 101st Airborne Division, the air assault. They're known as the Screaming Eagles. Colin, where are you and what's happening?

COLIN SOLOWAY, "NEWSWEEK": Well, I'm still in northern Kuwait on the border with Iraq. Not a lot is happening at the moment. We are basically in the assembly area waiting for the order to move into northern Iraq, along with the rest of the 101st Airborne.

Elements of the 101st have already moved in, following along on the advance of the 3rd Infantry Division. The 101st Screaming Eagles are an air assault division. They usually go into battle on helicopters, but this time it looks like they're going into Iraq on trucks.

KING: By the way, Colin, there were some reports that the 101st troops have been told that Saddam has given orders to use chemical weapons. Have you heard that?

SOLOWAY: We have reported that he had given record orders to Ali Hasan Al Majeed in southern Iraq, in Basra, that he had been given permission to expend chemical weapons on U.S. troops even before they got into Kuwait -- excuse me, into Iraq. But it doesn't appear that he's done that, so it's not clear whether he will. But certainly the intelligence that I've been told about, you know from intelligence sources, is that is that he had been -- it had been requested of him and that he had given permission for his commanders to hit the American (UNINTELLIGIBLE) even before they got into the country.

KING: I know, Colin, you've covered action before in various spots. What's different about this and how do you like being in and among the troops?

SOLOWAY: Well, at the moment there's not a whole lot of action here other than just watching the incredible, sort of logistical work that's been done and organization. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know, tens of thousands of troops relatively painlessly, at least by military terms, across the desert to get through limited breaching areas. What's different compared to that is, normally as a journalist you work out on your own. You have a driver, you have a car, you're out on the desert or out wherever you are, basically working independently.

Here, living with troops, living with soldiers, you certainly have a much, much better feel for how the military is working, for what's going on, and for what people are thinking. People are a lot more open with you because they've gotten to know you and gotten to trust you. And it's seeing things certainly from the military's perspective here, and it's quite useful.

I think for a lot of journalists who haven't spent a lot of time around the military, it's a very useful thing to see how it actually operates both in theory and in practice. And, you know, again, it's been difficult for me to see all of the reporting that people have been doing, but I think we'll see some pretty good stuff out of here for this war.

KING: Colonel Hackworth -- we'll get back to you, Colin -- Donald Rumsfeld said this is the most targeted air campaign in history. Does that sync with you?

HACKWORTH: Absolutely. When we look at Desert Storm I, which you and I were kind of involved in...

KING: Sure were.

HACKWORTH: ... if you'll well remember that those weapons were called smart weapons, a bunch of them, and those things are metal morons compared to these whiz kids today. These things are really on target, and now, as we're seeing, doing a good job with minimum civilian casualties. They're putting it right on the mark.

KING: As you may notice, viewers, Hack has a way with words, and he'll be with us throughout the hour. We're also attempting to contact Lieutenant General Robert Johnston as soon as he checks in from Tucson.

We're also going to try and include in this hour tonight some phone calls and get the reaction of our viewers and listeners across the world. Let's go to Jane Arraf now. She is in Dohuk -- northern Iraq. Where is that, Jane, and what can you tell us?

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, Dohuk is about halfway between the city of Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, and the Turkish border. Now Mosul tonight, explosions over it, as the war moves north. And on the Turkish border, reports that Turkish troops are moving in.

Now this is adding a spark to a very volatile mix here. In the past week or so we've been going around talking to Peshmerga, those legendary Kurdish fighters who say that, if the Turks come in, they will fight them. Today, we went to an airstrip controlled by the Turks in northern Iraq and spoke to Kurdish military there. The commander says that the Turks are trying to undo everything they've done in the past 10 years, and he warns of problems ahead, too -- Larry.

KING: There are now sirens going off, Jane, in Baghdad. These are all-clear air raid sirens. Does that tell you that the bombing will cease for some time now as daylight arrives, do you think, Jane?

ARRAF: It might cease, given previous bombings in Baghdad, at least for a few hours. The air raid sirens generally indicate that the air defenses have been cleared. Although it is daylight and we've heard the call to prayer there, it doesn't mean that people will be going out with any sort of comfort or security. People are terrified there and they will be staying at home to see what happens next -- Larry.

KING: Colonel Hackworth, does a military man take into cognizance the fact that let's say it's a day of prayer and we should lighten up?

HACKWORTH: I think that you take it into consideration. But in a war, and when the momentum gets going, it's certainly not going to be anything that will get in the way of this iron fist that's coming at them. And it's coming at them mighty fast, Larry.

You're going to see every Iraqi soldier from their regular army, that's not the Republican Guard, but the regular army reaching in the rug (ph) sack and pulling out that neatly-pressed white flag, and they'll be waving it like hell. So you're going to see mass surrender, far more than we saw in Desert Storm, which was about 80,000 to 90,000 people that threw their hands up.

KING: You think, Hack, that they're going to give it up?

HACKWORTH: I think the regular army will give it up. The real die-hards, which is the special operations folks, the Republican Guard, they may stay until the end. But what the game plan seems to be, Larry, is the president and the secretary of defense have worked out is to take out the senior leadership, followed by the military leadership. So a lot of bombs will be falling on the leaders of the Republican Guard to kind of fracture them so that they'll be out of command and control. And as a result of that, their folks will walk.

KING: Hack, do you envision, then, a short war?

HACKWORTH: I think that in two days, three days you'll see the two iron fists, that's the Marines on the right, the third Mech Division U.S. Army on the left, converging on Baghdad and putting a cordon around that. And then it just depends on what the Republican Guard, special guards decide to do.

If they decide to call it quits, then this will be a short war. I would say at total it would be no more than, say, 30 days, 27 more days at max.

KING: Hack, what do you make of the Turkish troops entering northern Iraq?

HACKWORTH: It's kind of like the Hatfields and McCoys, big trouble. It's a very dangerous situation. The Kurds who would be going against the Iraqis will now point their weapons at the Turks, and the Turks will do likewise. And we're in the middle.

Why we wanted to put some U.S. Army folks down there that the Turks have blocked is that would have been kind of a barrier to prevent those two Hatfields and McCoys from mixing it up. Very bad situation.

KING: Jane Arraf in Dohuk, have you talked to any of the Turkish troops?


KING: I'm sorry. Jane Arraf has left us. We'll go back to Colonel Hackworth, who's carrying with us. By the way, we'll include some phone calls for Colonel Hackworth. If you want to get in on the line, we'll take them and get the assessment of viewers as well. Do you think Saddam maybe departed?

HACKWORTH: Well, I hope so. He's got a hell of a headache if he's not, because he took many atomic bomb if he was at that meeting. That was a lot of firepower dropped on him, and he wouldn't be feeling too great. And his leadership seems to be shattered. The reports that I'm getting is there's very little communications coming out of the top, and that's the great disarray among the structure and the military at the top of the Iraqi military.

KING: Assuming, Hack, there are mass surrenders, doesn't this create a logistic problem?

HACKWORTH: Huge. It was a big problem with the 80,000 during Desert Storm. If you're talking about 400,000, I understand tonight that the 51st Division, which was a regular division down in the south by Basra, just signed a deal in surrendering the whole division. So it will be a big logistical problem for the U.S. Army, but they planned for it.

They have MPs, they have the infrastructure in place to handle a lot of prisoners. I'm sure they're counting on probably all 400,000 of the folks from the regular Army, Larry.

KING: All 400,000. We understand we've corrected the situation with the videophone with Brent Sadler in northern Iraq. And so, Brent, we'll check back with you. We were having a very difficult time hearing you earlier, so you can redo that report. Where are you and what's happening?

SADLER: OK, Larry. I'm at the edge of the Kurdish front lines, just north of the city of Kirkuk. We hear a lot about Kirkuk. Why? Because there are a lot of oil wells around there and concern by the coalition that the Iraqis might torch those wells, as has happened possibly in the Basra area.

Now this area here is pretty static in terms of the Iraqi army not far behind me. The darkness here in positions (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That line is holding despite reports of this surrender by a divisional commander. It is a hope and expectation among the Kurds that as this shock and awe campaign gathers momentum -- and we saw a little of that a few hours ago with about 20 explosions reported around Kirkuk -- that these lines here might fracture and we might see desertions, surrenders happening in this zone.

But at the moment, the Kurds are staying put. There's concern that the Turks might come in as part of a deal with the U.S., the U.S. to use air space. If that happens, there may be trouble ahead there. But in this area of the moment, the edge, if you like, of the shock and awe campaign. But we're going to have to keep watching around here because it could change very quickly.

KING: Brent, you stay with us, because we'll be checking back with you, as we will with many correspondents around all of this action. And if you just joined us, our special guest in the Washington bureau is -- the New York bureau, rather, is Colonel David Hackworth, the United States Army retired. He's the highly decorated veteran. I think he's the most decorated Vietnam War veteran.

Joining us now in Washington is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee; and Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Senator Hutchison, how goes it from your perspective?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, of course, Larry, all day today we were on the Senate floor, but we were going into the cloak room to look at the footage of the bombing. We were all just mesmerized by it, just like everyone in America. And really every briefing we've had says that it is going really well.

KING: And what do you hear, Senator Durbin?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: The same. And I thought it was interesting. As you sat with a group of senators in the cloakroom and they watched in real time that this war was unfolding, you couldn't help but be impressed by the awesome effectiveness of our military, but also struck by the fact that you were watching in real time the destruction of a city, the destruction of lives.

We certainly want to go after the Saddam Hussein followers and those responsible for the barbaric conduct in that nation. But we know, despite our best efforts and our best technology, there will be other victims.

KING: Do you expect this to take -- the president warned the other night that it will not be as quick as some think. Do you expect it to take some time, Senator Hutchison?

HUTCHISON: You know I think it's going to be short. The president is warning us, he wants us to be patient. But it looks to me like people are falling fast. They see the handwriting on the wall. Certainly this bombing today made believers out of a lot of people, and it looks as if anecdotally many of the Iraqi people are very glad that there will be a regime change. So I'm optimistic that it will be short.

KING: Senator Durbin, we have 14 coalition vets, two of them in combat. Is that about par for this course in the third day?

DURBIN: That's hard to say, Larry. But I have to be honest with you. One of those casualties was from my state of Illinois, Ryan Bilprey (ph), who was a Marine Corps captain who died in the helicopter crash from St. Anne (ph), Illinois. And I called his family today and spoke to his sister Alyce (ph), and they were grief stricken by his loss. And I think we have to remember the brave men and women serving in our military. And regardless of our debate on foreign policy, we're going to stand behind them all of the way.

KING: Colonel Hackworth, does an Army make pre-impressions before they go out as to how many might get killed?

HACKWORTH: Absolutely. For example, in Normandy, Dwight Eisenhower was faced with 10,000 casualties. He came out with 3,000 casualties. He thought he got away light.

During Desert Storm, a war college study that I presented on your show said that we'd have 50,000 casualties. It was later refined to 20,000. We ended up for Desert Storm having 148 casualties. So they make an estimate. You can never tell, because war seldom goes according to what the good book calls for.

KING: Joining us now, Colonel Hackworth and senators. In Tucson, Arizona is Lieutenant General, Robert B. Johnston, United States Marine Corps retired. He served as chief of staff for General Norman Schwarzkopf, "Stormin' Norman," during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

His other assignments commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and commander of the United Task Force for Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. We asked it earlier of Colonel Hackworth. We'll ask General Johnston the same thing. Is this battle going according to the way you thought it would?

LT. GEN. ROBERT B. JOHNSTON, U.S. (RET.) DESERT STORM CHIEF OF STAFF: Larry, it's a most impressive demonstration of the best- equipped, best-trained and best-led troops in the world. It clearly has maybe not gone exactly how they predicted initially, but it shows the enhanced flexibility in our commanders in the field.

The fact that they pushed out early towards Umm Qasr with the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and the Brits and the Army took off as fast as they could towards Baghdad. The air campaign appears to be exceedingly successful. Not much different in some respects from the first days of war.

We had something like 2,000 sorties every day. I think the distinction now is the enormous accuracy of the bombs that are being dropped in Baghdad. Pinpoint accuracy, obviously satellite directed. And I think the most reassuring part of that is the great likelihood that civilian casualties will be minimized, not only by the nature of the targets, the fact that they're somewhat isolated, but the fact is that we're essentially (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on a dime. And hopefully there will be -- no casualties will be the best outcome.

KING: Do you expect, General, street fighting in Baghdad? Do you expect them to be hunkered down?

JOHNSTON: Well, you know Colonel Hackworth said the same thing. I think as we approach Baghdad, one of the real measures is going to be the performance of the Republican Guard. Whether they stay and fight, and once we get through that -- which we certainly will -- then it's the inner circle, really the top Republican Guard, the 15,000 or 30,000 that are in five brigades. If they fight into town it could certainly change the nature of the operation.

I would point out, however, that I think the Republican Guard, while some of the troops are relatively new troops since the Gulf War, most of their senior commanders have been there before. They've been pounded by our B-52s many times. And I am hopeful that they will have second thought about wanting to stay and fight.

KING: Senator Hutchison, do you have any thoughts in that regard as to whether they will stay or will capitulate and whether Saddam is dead or not?

HUTCHISON: Well, I think they are in disarray. Everything that Colonel Hackworth said earlier is true from what we've heard, that they are in disarray. That first night -- and I want to add something to what the general was saying about the great precision equipment that we have. We also have better intelligence than we have had in the past.

We, in the last year, have really focused on intelligence since 9/11, it was such a disaster. And I think that really paid off. It paid off in that first hit. It was a big one.

We don't know everything yet, but I think it did put their leaders in disarray. That's what we believe and hope and I think that means that we may have an easier time. That's, of course, our great hope.

KING: Senator Durbin, did the way this started surprise you?

DURBIN: It did. And this morning, when we had our briefing from the Pentagon, I spoke to General McCrystal (ph) and I said, "I'm not an expert, but why was this so different from the Persian Gulf War?" And he explained that of course they thought they had a target of opportunity, Saddam Hussein himself, with the earliest bombing.

But then they had the soft part of the war, where they went in and tried to take away what they considered to be Saddam Hussein's weapons, to go after the so-called scud (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in western Iraq so that they couldn't terrorize the Israelis and bring other nations into this war. And then to try to protect the oil fields.

And as the general said to me, if they lit up a thousand oil wells in Iraq, it would not only destroy the economy and create all sorts of havoc to the environment, but it would create instability for a time to come. So the two soft targets were the first they went after, and then of course the air strikes came to follow.

KING: Let's do something that we haven't done in the three days of coverage and include phone calls. Let's take some as we go along. From Rye (ph) in New York -- Hello.

RYE: Yes, my question -- or it's more of a comment for Colonel Hackwork -- is that I'm particularly disturbed by his demeanor on television. Laughing, talking about individuals dying when our soldiers and Iraqi civilians are dying over there. And he is laughing on television. I find that highly inappropriate.

KING: Want to respond, Hack?

HACKWORTH: I've got an Irish mother with a good sense of humor, and I've spent 12 different wars, eight different battlefields. I've got to tell you, maybe a soldier develops that kind of sense of humor. But I certainly grieve for the war. I'm not a war person. And I guess that is why I always smile.

KING: Is it a little bit of a nervous laugh, Hack?

HACKWORTH: No, it's not. It's just my nature. I have eight years of living on battlefields. I guess I've seen it all. I understand what General Sherman (ph) was talking about that war is hell, but you've got to skip along with a sense of humor.

KING: General, have you served with people like Hackworth?

JOHNSTON: We've had a few colorful Marines in our day, but maybe not quite Colonel Hackworth's level of uniqueness.

KING: Is it -- General, if they wanted to surrender, how do they do that? What do they do? Do they do it through communiques? How does an army this size for this kind of country surrender?

JOHNSTON: You know, Larry, quite frankly, the old white flag is one of the best ways of demonstrating their willingness to surrender and put their hands up. But I think in terms of the large unit, we have made all sorts of provisions for communication with the leaders, particularly the Republican Guard and the leadership in Baghdad.

It's not going to be hard for them to pick up a phone or some radio and communicate to us that they're ready to capitulate. So I think the evidence will be pretty clear. It won't be hard to do.

KING: Tampa, Florida, on the special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And, by the way, we'll be with you all weekend as well. We'll be with you seven nights a week for as long as it takes. Tampa, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Larry. My question for your panel is regarding Israel. During the first Gulf War, Israel sat out despite 39 scud attacks by Iraq. Now Israel says if attacked by Iraq, they will return fire. How do they feel this will handle during the war, and how will it affect the peace process in the Middle East?

KING: Senator Durbin, do you want to handle that first?

DURBIN: Well, I think that's why one of our first efforts was in western Iraq to go after the sources of the scud missiles. And the general who briefed us this morning said he was well aware of them from the earlier Persian Gulf War. Our hope is not only to protect this Israelis, but to stop this conflict from widening to include other nations. The ultimate impact on the peace process remains to be seen. I honestly believe that if we are going to come to a peaceful relationship with the Islamic world, we have to deal not only with the tyrants, like Saddam Hussein, but we have to deal with the situation, this almost intractable situation between Israel and Palestine, to guarantee that both people have a safe and secure country to live in.

KING: Senator Hutchison, this war, though, is not about Israel, is it?

HUTCHISON: No, it isn't. It's about the war on terrorism and making sure that we don't have a 9/11 with a weapon of mass destruction. That's what this war is about.

KING: Colonel Hackworth, do you fear Israel might get hit with another scud and this time retaliate?

HACKWORTH: Well that's a great fear, and that's why so much effort has gone down to prevent that. Let's hope not. And certainly, General Johnston, who was out there and was really concerned when 39 scud missiles landed in Israel, would probably be the best guy to comment on this.

KING: He sure would. That's why we saved him for last. General?

JOHNSTON: There's no question about it. You know during the last Gulf War, as you'll remember, when we started the air campaign, almost immediately the first scud hit Israel. We were most concerned about Israel becoming involved in the war. In fact, we consumed many of our sorties to go against the mobile scud targets on the west, the ones that were within range of Israel. And we knew the great inclination of Israel to become involved in the war once they were hit. We did a Trojan effort to keep them out of it and clearly we need to keep them out of this conflict.

KING: Colonel Hackworth, how do you -- you're in the desert, you're in unfamiliar territory. How do you keep morale up?

HACKWORTH: Well, by good leadership. Making sure your troops are being taken care of, by leading from the front, by understanding that you've trained your team to the highest quality. And you're just going on with your job. And that's what a good leader is all about, and we are seeing an exhibition of that now with these fine units, the Marines on the right and the Army on the left, moving forward with such incredible speed and almost -- ever occurred in military history to move this quickly.

KING: General Chafee James (ph) told me once, General Johnston, that nobody hates war more than the warrior. Do you agree with that?

JOHNSTON: Absolutely a true statement.

KING: We all remember...

JOHNSTON: Nobody wants to go to war, we just know we had a need to know how to do it.

KING: Chafee (ph) was the first black four star general. We are talking with Lieutenant General Robert B. Johnston, United States Marine Corps Retire, chief of staff for General Schwarzkopf in Desert Shield and Desert Storm; Colonel Hackworth, the highly decorated veteran, award-winning military correspondent as well; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas; and Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.

We will expect to have headlines momentarily, and when they're ready we'll go to them with Heidi Collins as soon as they're ready. Let's go to Oak Lawn, Illinois, to take a call -- hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Larry. How are you doing?

KING: Fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is for Senator Durbin. I'm from your part of Illinois; I'm from Oak Lawn. What I'd like to know is -- in 1983 I know what it means to lose Marines over in Beirut. My heart goes out to those Marines.

But sitting here watching TV and knowing about our homeland security and seeing all these people protesting, what do you think about all of the police that had to come from and take care of these protesters, and about the security and about the money that we have? I'll sit and listen to you. Thank you.

KING: OK, sir. Thank you.

DURBIN: Well, I think we ought to keep this in perspective. One of the things we treasure in this country is the right to debate and dissent. And there are people in America who really disagree with our foreign policy and have expressed it in a peaceful manner, and they are entitled to do that. I think that is part of their right as a citizen.

I have had my differences with this administration when it comes to foreign policy. I voted against the use of force resolution in October; some 23 senators did. But when it came to voting just a day or two ago, a resolution supporting the troops, 99 senators, all of the senators present, voted in favor of it.

I know that the feelings are strongly held by those who are opposed to this war. I can see it from the streets of Chicago and from the footage we've received.

When it comes to the homeland security question, I think we have to do an awful lot more. When we raised this to an orange alert we increased the expenses of state and local governments across America. And I don't think we've met our obligation in Washington to help those governments pay for the protection we need in our home towns.

KING: Let's get some news headlines from Heidi Collins. And we'll be right back on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Aaron Brown returns at the top of the hour -- Heidi. (NEWS ALERT)


KING: Thank you, Heidi. There are sirens in Baghdad right now. We don't know what they pertain to, but I think you can hear them. Sirens going off in Baghdad right now. What might that be, Colonel Hackworth?

HACKWORTH: That could be an all-clear. I suspect that it's daylight there and maybe they're just saying that you can come out of your holes, but those sirens are going to ring again and it's not going to be long, because the game plan here is going to be slam, bam, good-bye, Saddam. And this is a game of almost the Dallas Cowboys playing a junior high school team when you look at the superiority of our armed forces versus the opposition.

KING: Would you agree, General Johnston, that there is that much disparity between the two?

JOHNSTON: It is quite a dramatic difference. We are so overwhelmingly superior, not just in terms of technology, but, you know, we could give them our weapons system and we'd probably still beat them. We are just that much better trained and much better led.

KING: Senator Hutchison, I'd like you to answer what Senator Durbin was answering with regard to protesters. How do you feel, do you think it was bad for them or do you think the right continues throughout the battle?

HUTCHISON: Of course, that is what makes America different from every other country in the world. People have a right to protest, and a peaceful protest is certainly in line with freedom of speech. I do think that we -- I agree with Senator Durbin that we must make sure that our first responders have the money they need to do the job we're asking them to do, and we have not stepped up to the plate. I think there will be money in a supplemental appropriation as early as next week. And we must help these people, train their policemen, train their firefighters, train their early responders to try to save lives in the event of a chemical or biological attack. I mean, these are the things we haven't thought of in America ever before, but now we must and we must fund them.

KING: By the way, thank you both. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas. Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois. We thank you. We'll be calling upon you again. We'll be joined momentarily in Cody, Wyoming with Alan Simpson, the former United States senator who served in the Senate from 1978 to '97, 10 of those years as his party's whip, and Senator George McGovern, the highly decorated World War II hero, 1972 Democratic presidential nominee and former United States senator from South Dakota.

I am being told that we have checked in with Al Jazeera, the network in the Middle East, and they are reporting two missiles have landed -- and three missiles now have landed in Iraq. Three missiles have landed in Iraq, in Baghdad, Iraq. Directly in Baghdad. Any comment, General Johnston?

JOHNSTON: That's not clear. You're talking about missiles landing in Baghdad. I mean, they're landing all of the time. Cruise missiles and...

KING: We're being told Al Jazeera is reporting this. Why is this -- they're telling me it's new -- I guess it's a fresh start to the day.

JOHNSTON: Well, they're catching up with what's happening, I guess. There's certainly more than three missiles landing in Baghdad. That's a curious comment by Al Jazeera.

KING: Yes, anyway, I don't know why suddenly they're discovering it.

JOHNSTON: Now, if it were three missiles landing in Israel, that would be of some consequence, but if it's Baghdad.

KING: That would be a story.


KING: Let's go to Dohuk (ph) in northern Iraq and return with Jane Arraf. What have you got to tell us, Jane?

ARRAF: Well, Larry, we're waiting to see exactly how many Turkish troops are going to cross that border. Now, as we were talking about it, it's a volatile mix here and this is something that's sure to make it more complicated and much more difficult. At the same time, we have got Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq, just a few kilometers, about 40 kilometers, 25 miles behind us. Explosions there last night, of course, and more expected now that the U.S. can use Turkish airspace to go through and launch some attacks on Iraq -- Larry.

KING: Colonel Hackworth, do you make anything of daylight bombing?

HACKWORTH: No. Especially with the cruise missile that can move in fast. It's not like an airplane where it could get knocked down and you lose the crew. So it's a pretty safe delivery system, and damned accurate, they can put it right in your back pocket, Larry.

KING: All right. Let's be joined now by two former distinguished United States senators, distinguished Americans. Alan Simpson, he's in Cody, Wyoming, and George McGovern, he is in Missoula, Missouri. I thought it was Missoula, Montana, but it's Missoula, Missouri. Alan Simpson...


KING: It is Montana, good. My card says Missouri, short that up. Let's go to Cody, Wyoming first -- I didn't think there was a Missoula in Missouri. Let's go to Cody, Wyoming first. Senator Simpson, I know you thought that he might have copped out early, but he didn't. What do you make of the battle so far?

ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, he's going to pay dearly and his people will pay dearly and his military will pay dearly. I did think he would talk a powder. I thought he would take it just because of his personal lust for the good life, but such was not to be, but it wasn't the first time I've ever made a mistake.

KING: Senator McGovern, you were opposed to this war, how do you read it now?

MCGOVERN: Well, Larry, I just about called you today to tell you I didn't think I should be on this show. There's a prevailing view that once the fighting starts, even the critics of the war should be silent and get behind the troops, but I decided that it doesn't make any sense to have deep convictions, as I did against the advisability of a war, and then suddenly change those convictions simply because the bombs are hitting the target.

I am a longtime admirer of Colonel Hackworth, who started off this program and who performed so valiantly during the Vietnam period, and I want to be behind our troops, but I sincerely believed, both before this war and before we got deeply involved in Vietnam, that the best way we can get behind those troops is not to commit them to unnecessary wars.

Our security was never threatened by Vietnam. I don't think it's ever been threatened by Saddam Hussein. We put him back in his box after the Gulf War 10 years ago under President Bush Sr. He hasn't so much as stuck his little toe outside of his border since then, and we're seeing tonight, I think, that the president was wrong in building up this enormous threat that Saddam Hussein was supposed to represent. It's like a pop gun taking on a battle ship.

KING: As a former war hero yourself, though, and a great war hero, you were -- your service in World War II is legendary, you do support the troop, do you not, Senator McGovern?

MCGOVERN: Oh, of course. Of course, I support the troops, and one of the reasons I was concerned about this war is that I did not think Saddam Hussein presented a threat to American security that we couldn't handle simply by a common sense policy of containment.

KING: I got you.

MCGOVERN: I don't think it was necessary to go to war.

KING: Senator Simpson, how would you respond to your friend from Montana?

SIMPSON: Well, I'll get him when I see him Tuesday at the University of Wyoming. He's going to come up, we're going to have a good session. But let me tell you, I do think very, very distinctly and clearly, the whole world is going to be pleased, in a sense, that's a bad word, they're going to be relieved, there is going to be a huge sigh of relief when we peel all the layers off that onion in Iraq and see what kind of chemical cocktails this guy was cooking, and we're going to find these bunkers -- look, he's already talking about using chemical agents. He's cooking a cocktail of stuff. If we can take that out of the world's arsenal and out of the world's ordnance, the whole world will be a better place and that's what we're going to find when we finish with old Saddam.

KING: Let's get a call. Shelbyville, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Yes. When Saddam Hussein is captured, will he be tried over in Iraq or will he be brought back to the United States and be tried? And what will they do....


KING: Who would know? If he were captured, Lieutenant -- General Johnston, what would happen?

JOHNSTON: Larry, I couldn't speculate on that. That's -- you know, I'm a Marine, not a legal officer. But I do think that he'll be obviously tried potentially as a war criminal. The location of that, I think, will be something that will be determined at a much higher level than you and me.

KING: It would have to be determined somewhere, but it would be an international war crimes convene, I'm sure.

JOHNSTON: Absolutely.

KING: Let's check back -- go back to northern Iraq and Brent Sadler for an update -- Brent.

SADLER: Yes, Larry, just daybreak here as you can see behind me. No change in the specificity of this area. Iraq's frontlines leading up to the Kurds around Kirkuk; Mosul apparently holding.

But I was hearing Jane Arraf talking to you a few moments ago about the probable entry of the Turkish army. You know, Larry, it will be very interesting to see what effect that will have on the Kurds. The Kurds do field about -- field about 70, 000 fighters in this area and the Kurds are being careful not to upset Ankara and the issue of independence, they've been not using that word now for months, no independence. They're talking about a federal, pluralistic Iraq.

But if the Turks come in here and that stirs up trouble with the Kurds and they try and fight them, which is possible, they won't overcome them, they won't stop the entrance of the Turkish army, but they could certainly cause trouble, possibly with force of arms. But if the Turks come in here, maybe the Kurds might be tempted to do something against the Iraqis, who knows? But it is a very complicating and potentially dangerous situation.

In the meantime, there isn't the kind of bombardment, the kind of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pressure, the exercise against Kirkuk and Mosul as we're seeing, obviously, in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, only about three hours' drive from here, if I can jump in the cars and go down there, which of course, I can't. But the pressure that we're seeing there is not being applied here, so at the moment -- I don't expect in the next hours any collapse, any surrenders on any mass scale in this area. But if that campaign turns to this area, then that could very well happen as we're seeing now unfold in the south, Larry.

KING: And would that, Brent, be another, like, mini war?

SADLER: It has the potential of a conflict, that's absolutely. Turks and Kurds fighting each other as the Turks come in and may be there's a deal that we don't know about, the details of. We know that the Kurds were in Ankara trying to flesh out a deal with the U.S., with (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that is the special envoy of the president with the authority to handle this.

If there's a deal, maybe it will work out OK. But the Kurds have been saying for months that there could be civil unrest, there could be resistance with force of arms. When the Turks come across that bridge, across those bridges into northern Iraq we'll have to see. But certainly -- it will certainly stir up a hornet's nest, Larry.

KING: Colonel Hackworth, do you think that this area might implode into -- into spreading out?

HACKWORTH: Well, it certainly could. If you look at the century-old history between the Turks and the Kurds, they've got a lot of blood, deaths to score -- to settle and I suspect that thing is a big gasoline job waiting for a match to be tossed in it and the Turks coming down there is exactly that match.

KING: George McGovern, do you expect expansion here?

MCGOVERN: Well, that's one of the problems with any war, Larry. You really don't know what the repercussion are going to be.

I know that tonight we're kind of exhilarated about the effectiveness of our troops and they are the best troops we've ever had. But I'm wondering what's going on in the minds of the hundreds of thousands of young Arabs across the Arab world, across the Muslim world. I doubt if they share in the joy that has been expressed here tonight over the ability of America's military power to crush the state of Iraq. We don't know what this this holds for us.

I think there are a couple of other problems. One is that this is diverting our attention from the real problem of terrorism. We wouldn't be here tonight, we wouldn't be involved in the war in Iraq had it not been for the trauma of the 9/11 tragedy. The irony of that is that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing whatsoever to do with that attack and it was only after we were unable to find Osama bin Laden, who was the real culprit, that suddenly the administration came up with Saddam Hussein.

KING: Did doubts ever enters your mind, General Johnston, in that regard as the -- as Senator McGovern points out?

JOHNSTON: I mean, to me -- how can you disconnect Saddam Hussein and his ability to weaponize and obviously potentially transport chemical and biological weapons at a time when terrorism has taken on a totally new role in our lives?

I mean, It's not just 9/11. I think that terrorism is being obviously a growing concern to us. The security of our own country is at risk and we believe that by getting rid of Saddam Hussein and that kind of regime that we'll make a much more peaceful region in the Persian Gulf area and I think it's good for our own security and for the security of the world.

MCGOVERN: Larry could I comment on it?

KING: Yes, go ahead.

MCGOVERN: I'd like to -- I respect General Johnston. He's one of our great military...

KING: Excuse me. Excuse me, Senator McGovern, we just want to explain that these are bombers that people are watching on the television. You can see on the screens returning to the base in England. The United States air force bombers returning to the base where they took off from in England.

I'm sorry, Senator McGovern. Go ahead.

MCGOVERN: Well, I was just going to make the point that all of us are concerned about terrorism. I think this war, and I'm sad to say this, is going to increase the terrorist danger against the United States.

That's what I believe.

KING: Let's hope you're wrong.

MCGOVERN: I hope I'm wrong.

KING: Do you fear that, Senator Simpson? Before I call on Colonel Hackworth -- Senator Simpson, do you fear that?

SIMPSON: Well, I'm going to say, a lot of people hated us before September 11 and let's remember that. The hate was so volatile it destroyed 3,000 of our fellow human beings.

I see the day where Muslims have come forward out of Iraq and cheering us. That's not fake. Tearing down the pictures of Saddam Hussein, pounding on his portrait. I mean, they're not -- you cannot say that this is some great gargantuan feeling. It's not so.

KING: Indianapolis, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: I had a question, really it begs to take Senator McGovern's question a little bit further, and my concern is how easily we seem to be dispensing with Saddam's regime. The lack of use of chemical, or biological or even SCUD missiles. How might that play to the United States' disadvantage?

KING: Colonel Hackworth, do you have a thought on that?

HACKWORTH: I'm not quite sure I understand....

KING: In other words, we -- I guess he's saying that the United States claimed all along that he had these SCUD missiles and he has the chemical weapons and biological weapons and none of them are being used. So his question would be, What if he doesn't have them.

HACKWORTH: Well, there have been reports that SCUDs have been used and struck into Kuwait and I think he would have been very careful not to use chemical or biological weapons. He wanted the French on side. The French said they would jump off their support team for him and my take on it militarily is he's waiting for us to surround Baghdad and that would be the time that he could deliver chemical and biological weapons, which I believe he has with artillery shells with great impact on our forward lines. That would be the most dangerous part of this complete operation.

KING: Chattanooga, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Larry, yes. I have a concern about the reporting from the field. When they interview American military personnel and give both their complete first and last name, is there not some possibility that a bad guy with an Internet could track those American people's home locations and take reprisal? Thank you.

KING: Interesting question. General, do you ever think about that?

JOHNSTON: Obviously, it's in the realm of the possible, given technology. But I think it's most improbable danger involved in having a young Marine or a soldier say who he is and where he's from. I mean, I just don't think that we're going to have that kind of penetration of our -- of this security of our military families.

It could happen, but it is so unlikely. I'd certainly be reluctant to give my name.

KING: Alan Simpson, there is an orange alert. Do you fear terrorists striking an American city?

SIMPSON: Well, I think that we have to have that deep concern, that anxiety and that's what it is. But I think what Kay Bailey and Richard were saying is so true. We can't keep pulling the orange alert button and leaving county commissioners and city managers and mayors all over America with double and triple overtime. You're going to have to get in and help them. They're ready to help, but they can't afford it.

KING: It's morning in Baghdad after yesterday's incredible shelling of that city. And we're going to see some early morning pictures of the capital city of Iraq.

It's hard to see any devastation at this point, but there had to be a lot of it. What do you imagine happened there yesterday, Colonel Hackworth? What do you think the aftermath is? How hard was that hit?

HACKWORTH: Well, what they're taking out now is the leadership targets, the ability of Saddam and his generals to command and control, basically chopping the head off of the chicken. Bottom line is what I've been impressed with in this fight so far is the care that they've taken in selecting targets, primarily military targets, and not taking out any infrastructure -- i.e., electric grids, water systems, power plants and bridges and the things that the country is going to need when it rebuilds itself.

So I think that our planners are saying, hey, this is going to be a short war. It will be a long occupation, and let's do minimum destruction to the infrastructure so we can get this country up on its feet and running, but that is going to be about 100 miles of rocky road, because you look at that situation between the Kurds and the Turks and say how the Shiites and the Sunnis and all the rest of them, we're in the middle of the Hatfields and the McCoys big time here.

KING: Politics aside, Senator McGovern, would you agree that at least the targets are such that there is less damage to the civilians?

MCGOVERN: Yes, and I'm very grateful to the American military for the care that they have exercised. Larry, I think one problem that's always raised with any kind of war we get into is that it diverts attention from other very serious problems. I believe that for years, the number one problem in the Middle East that we ought to be concerned with is the Arab-Israeli conflict. That's been the problem that has preempted the attention of one president after another, but in this case we're so involved with Saddam Hussein that we've forgotten that there's nothing going on in Iraq that is as serious as this long, smoldering Arab-Israeli dispute.

KING: Alan Simpson, would you agree with that?

SIMPSON: Well, sure, but it's been smoldering and smoldering, and the presidents have been in it, and they're doing it and we're talking about a Palestinian state. That's a pretty good advance. Other things other presidents haven't talked about that. There's continual talk, but as long as you have two people who hate each other's guts like Sharon and Arafat, you're not going to get anywhere.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'd like to know how are the Iraqis that are surrendered being treated? Are they being treated as prisoners of war?

KING: General Johnston, what happens when an Iraqi surrenders?

JOHNSTON: Well, absolutely, obviously initially disarm them. They are prisoners of war under the Red Cross, the Geneva convention, and I can guarantee you, as there were last time, they'll be taken care of. Let me give you just one anecdotal example. Last war, the first POWs were clearly underfed. Some of them didn't even know whether they were fighting in Kuwait or Iraq, and our soldiers even gave them their own blankets they were in such miserable shape. So I can guarantee they'll be taken care of with great care by our U.S. troops.

KING: Have we always been that way, Colonel Hackworth?

HACKWORTH: Just about. I think the American soldiers has a great heart, and generally the soldier around the world is always loved, and they go way out of their way to take care of a prisoner, and it's only in the heat of battle when infantryman meets infantryman up on that hill when it's dicey on how it's going to go. But once it gets back beyond the infantryman, who just saw his best friend get killed, the situation gets better and better. We look after prisoners.

KING: We have a few moments remaining. I want to get the thoughts on what you think is going to happen. Alan Simpson, what do you think is going to happen? How quick? How soon? How is it going to end?

SIMPSON: I can't hear. There's a great garbled communication and I'm sorry I couldn't hear.

KING: OK, can you hear me now?

SIMPSON: OK, go ahead. Yes I do, Larry.

KING: What do you think -- what's the timeframe? How do you think this is going to end?

SIMPSON: Well, I only served two years in the infantry, I wasn't like George McGovern who served with absolute honor and valor, but I can tell you, it's going to be fast, until they get into where the infantry has to get involved, and boy, that could be really, really tough and horrendous and could take time, real time, and lives.

KING: Senator McGovern, how do you think it is going to end?

MCGOVERN: Well, I think I would bow to the judgment of General Johnston and Colonel Hackworth. They're the military men, two of our best, that it probably will be a short war, but once the military phase is over, then the real problems begin, and that's trying to put Iraq back together, to monitor and police these internal disputes that have torn the country apart, and I think to rebuild our standing with our allies and with countries all around the world who so far as I know have never been in favor of this war.

KING: How, Colonel Hackworth, do you see it ending? You said 30 days, didn't you?

HACKWORTH: Yes, a short war, a hard, hard occupation. It is not going to be the occupation that we kind of enjoyed in Germany after World War II, Japan or in Italy. It's going to be 100 miles of gravel road.

KING: Hard in what respect? Because of gravel road? HACKWORTH: Just in terms of the different groups there that all hate each other's guts, and it's not going to be a country that's homogeneous like Japan, that the emperor said go along with MacArthur and everybody did. And everyone was concerned after World War II picking up the bricks and rebuilding their houses and rebuilding their jobs and getting on with their lives. It's going to be a settlement of some long, long term feuds.

KING: And Colonel -- and General Johnston, how do you see it all wrapping up?

JOHNSTON: Well, I think it is going to be fast, Larry, but until we know if the Republican Guard is going to stay and fight, and certainly the Guard inside Baghdad, it could make it a much more difficult proposition. I think it will be fast. Who would like to establish timelines certainly in the next week to two weeks, I should think, we will see probably the end of this military operation and the beginning of the toughest part, of course, is reconstruction and setting up a government to run Iraq in the years ahead.

KING: In other words, this will not be an easy aftermath?

JOHNSTON: It will be by far, I think, the greatest challenge.

KING: Thank you all very much. Thanks, Colonel Hackworth and Lieutenant General Johnston for staying with us throughout our entire program. We'll be calling on you again, as we will former Senator Alan Simpson and former Senator George McGovern. We'll be with you right through the weekend. In fact, we will be with you every night and all the days ahead, for as long as this takes, and tomorrow night among the guests will be former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and former Senator George Mitchell. Aaron Brown is right around the corner, and in that corner with headlines is Heidi Collins. I'm Larry King. Stay with us.


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.