CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Strike on Iraq
Aired March 22, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Larry King with LARRY KING LIVE, and this is CNN's continuing coverage of the war in Iraq.
Tonight, 13 U.S. soldiers hurt in a grenade attack on a military post in Northern Kuwait. We'll hear from reporters with the troops in the same Army Division, the 101st Airborne.
An Australian TV cameraman killed in a car bombing in Northern Iraq today. We'll talk with a fellow journalist who was nearby and rushed to the scene.
Also today, a British reporter and his two-man crew are missing in Southern Iraq after traveling with troops under enemy fire. We'll speak with the BBC journalist who's a friend of that missing reporter.
We'll hear from CNN reporters all over the frontlines as well.
And, from the Desert Storm's 3rd Armored Division, Commander Lieutenant General Paul Funk; General David Hackworth, the United States Army Retired; Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense under President Reagan; and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
We'll start with Nic Robertson who is now in safe territory in Amman, Jordan. He and three other CNN news people arrived safely in Jordan earlier today after being expelled by the Iraqi government.
How were you told to leave, Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, they summoned us to a meeting, sat us down, told us for about ten minutes everything that we'd done wrong and then they said that's it. We're closing your office. You have to leave the country immediately.
We appealed it. We went to the Information Ministry, tried to meet with the information minister who was responsible for the decision and were told again in no uncertain terms, in fact, the rhetoric ratcheting up from one Iraqi official who screamed at us literally and said you are worse than the American administration. Get out of Iraq. Get out of Iraq now. So, we were left no question about it, Larry, we had to go and that's what we did at first light this morning.
KING: What did they say was the wrong you were doing?
ROBERTSON: Larry, they accused us of being unprofessional in a number of ways, saying that we were responsible for rumors circulating among journalists. We had decided to change hotels in Baghdad. When we did that many other journalists did.
The Information Ministry didn't like that. CNN is perhaps one -- is one of the only organizations that's had a long history of having an office in Baghdad and Iraqi officials in recent years have been giving CNN a particularly hard time, expelling our Bureau Chief Jane Arraf a few months ago, and it seems to be continuing at this time.
It seems to be also, Larry, a reaction to the pressure that they're under. The information minister essentially having to tell Iraqis that the images that are seen on television of Iraqi soldiers surrendering and Bradley fighting vehicles storming through Iraq, he has to tell Iraqis that aren't true, and those images come across very strongly in Iraq on CNN and it does seem to be in some way a backlash against that as well.
KING: So, did you go immediately -- what did you have a vehicle, go immediately to it and the three of you drive off?
ROBERTSON: We couldn't. When they told us it was late in the afternoon and by the time we could have organized it, it was already dark and we realized leaving after dark was just too unpredictable with an air campaign underway. We would have to travel what used to be known in the Gulf, last Gulf War as Scud Alley, and when we traveled up it today you could see a number of shot up, burnt out vehicles.
You just don't go up those roads at night, so we left in the morning. When we left, however, there was another air raid on and you could hear the detonations, feel the detonations even rippling through the edge of the city. So, it wasn't a very happy move, I must say, and we wanted to stay to report the news and that's what we do and we feel it's very important but we were given no alternative.
We were told it was illegal to stay there and the implication in Iraq at this time when the intelligence officials begin to (unintelligible) we could end up in jail and that's not a good option.
KING: Before you left, Nic, all that bombardment took place and where were you and what was it like from your vantage point?
ROBERTSON: I was on the 17th floor of our hotel overlooking the presidential compound when this was happening and it was shocking and it was also as predicted by the Pentagon. The blasts were incredible. Their strength was formidable. They were -- they didn't blow out the windows in the building I was in but they blew them open. They blew plaster off the walls.
You could feel the reverberations standing where we stood up there in that room, and it was a very, very impressive display of military might, precision bombing, military capability, and the message must be very, very clear to the Iraqi leader his time has come. The writing here isn't just on the walls, Larry, it's shaking the walls for him.
KING: Lieutenant General Paul Funk is in Austin, Texas. He commanded the 3rd Armored Division during Operation Desert Shield. How different is it this time, general?
LT. GEN. PAUL FUNK, U.S. ARMY (RET), DESERT STORM 3RD ARMORED DIV.: I think the simultaneity of the attack of course, Larry, is one of the facts. The second thing, however, is that the ground troops are, in essence, mounted in the same equipment we were mounted in during the Gulf War.
A lot more precision with weapons from the air and, of course, rocketry, but on the ground it will be the same type of equipment and the same kind of fighting that we saw, particularly when the U.S. units hit and the British units hit the Republican Guards.
KING: And, David Hackworth, anything happen today to change your view of last night that this is about a 30-day thing?
COL. DAVID HACKWORTH, U.S. ARMY (RET): It's D plus four, fourth day into the war. The 3rd Mech Division, U.S. Army's 3rd Mech is going high diddle diddle right up the middle breaking all kinds of track records.
I think the Marine Corps will soon break out of Basr and join them on their flank and also race to Baghdad. The closer we get to Baghdad, I think the stiffer the resistance will go, that is if leadership is still in position, and the tougher the fight may go, especially if the Republican Guard decides to slug it out. But for now it's going, you couldn't ask for a better plan and it's being executed brilliantly.
KING: Gary Tuchman who's usually in Chicago or sometimes in New Orleans, very often in San Francisco, our roving man, finds himself embedded tonight with the United States Air Force near the Iraqi border. Gary, what's happening where you are?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, it's now after 5:00 in the morning here in the Persian Gulf. We've been standing on the flight line at this air base near the border of Iraq for about 12 hours. There has been no let up in the planes going to Iraq and the warplanes coming back from Iraq.
We are living here with more than 8,000 servicemen and servicewomen from the United States, from the United Kingdom and from Australia, but it is primarily Air Force people from the U.S.
And behind me a very important plane at this particular installation, this is the A-10 Thunderbolt that's known as the warthog. It's an attack plane specifically designed to offer air support for ground troops. These planes have been coming in and out all day and all night.
The latest information, Larry, we have from highly-placed Air Force officials for the first 48 hours of Shock and Awe, there will be 3,500 sorties, 1,500 in the last 24 hours. Of those 1,500, 800 are strike sorties, using bombs or missiles.
We want to give you a look at one of the planes coming in right now. This just came back from a mission to Iraq. You can see it right there. That is just arriving and taxiing down the runway in a southerly direction away from Iraq, just landing here. So, that gives you an idea of what we have been seeing literally all day and night.
We are being told by those highly-placed Air Force officials, Larry, that during these missions over the past 24 hours, the Air Force planes have been "pounding the Republican Guard forces" -- Larry back to you.
KING: Thank you, Gary. A lot of our reporters are with us for the hour. Nic Robertson will be with us for the hour. Some phone calls will be included later.
Let's go now to Jim Lacey. He's embedded with the 101st Airborne at Camp Pennsylvania in Northern Kuwait. That's where earlier today that incredible story, a hand grenade attack on the camp, a U.S. military, ten soldiers injured. Jim Lacy of "TIME Magazine" what happened?
JIM LACEY, "TIME MAGAZINE": Earlier tonight, well about 1:45 a.m. our time, an American soldier who is now in custody attacked the command tents, two separate tents throwing grenades into them and yelling, "You're under attack." As he did it, he threw a total of three grenades. One of them seems to have been a dud. The other two went off, one in each tent.
They're now reporting 12 injured, six seriously, one or two of them are now being said to be life threatening wounds. As I said, they have the soldier in custody. Criminal Investigation Division is here. They are interrogating him as we speak and preparing him for transfer.
KING: Jim, did you see the soldier, the alleged, commit the act?
LACEY: No, it was -- as I said, 1:45 in the morning here. My tent is right beside the two tents that were attacked so I was up at the first blast and a lot of confusion and a lot of chaos.
I walked over to the tent. There were two soldiers lying outside, one lying outside of each of the tents wounded. The sergeants who were on the spot were immediately getting things under control. It took about two to three minutes to get a medic here but the soldiers were already getting first aid and getting bandages wrapped on them.
By the time I arrive on the scene, which was probably only a minute or two after the initial grenades went off, somebody did see the person do it, was not able to identify him at that time.
KING: Did you assist, Jim?
LACEY: At the time, I did a little bit but there was a lot of chaos and a lot of confusion, you know.
KING: All right.
LACEY: Wherever I could pitch in I did. KING: General Funk is this -- I don't want to guess psychological aspects here. Is this one of the side effect ravages of war?
FUNK: Yes, but I -- it's very, very infrequent. I think in Vietnam we did have some incidents like this over a long period of time. Fragging it became called and Colonel Hackworth undoubtedly knows about those kinds of incidents too. This is a real surprise and it obviously is a personal vendetta by a soldier who was upset probably at the chain of command.
KING: Hack, what do you make of it?
HACKWORTH: Yes, I go along with Paul's assessment and it also could be it was just the flat stress that these kids are living under day in and day out and his bottle wasn't too big and he just cracked. We'll find out when the CID and the shrinks get done with it but these things do happen in war.
FUNK: Yes, they do.
KING: Jim Lacey, do you feel the stress there? Is someone covering it?
LACEY: No, I don't believe this was stress. We are allowed to say that the soldier does have an Arabic last name. He had been identified by his chain of command as insubordinate and troublesome over the last few days and had been told he was going to be in the stay behind party when this unit moves forward.
They were not going to bring him with them. He was identified as something was wrong and obviously there was but I don't think it has anything to do with the stress and, you know, the upcoming combat situation here.
KING: So, it was an act by someone apparently opposed to the war?
LACEY: That would be a speculation but I think more than one person is speculating that.
KING: Jim Lacey thanks for being on with us so early in the morning. We appreciate it.
Now what do you make of it General Funk?
FUNK: Well, certainly I'd say the same thing that they obviously, they were upset with him, they being the leadership. I'm real surprised if they were that concerned that they weren't watching him. At the same time, I really believe this is more personal; however it could be against the war too. I mean I certainly would understand that also.
HACKWORTH: I think we'll find out after the investigation. KING: Yes, we should grab Nic Robertson. But right now, let's go again by videophone to Frank Buckley, CNN Correspondent, who's now embedded with the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf. What's happening from your vantage point, Frank?
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, flight operations are continuing aboard the USS Constellation as they are aboard two other aircraft carriers here in the Persian Gulf, the Abraham Lincoln and the USS Kitty Hawk.
You'll recall about this time last night we were talking to the pilots who are returning from the first strikes into Iraq. They crossed the 33rd Parallel for the first time going north of the area that they've been patrolling since mid-December for Operation (unintelligible).
They feel pretty satisfied about the job they've been doing. They say they are seeing antiaircraft fire and surface-to-air firings as the Iraqi defenses attempt to reach them but so far all of the flyers have been able to return safely to the deck here of the Constellation.
KING: Thank you, Frank. Let's bring in, along with Nic Robertson and Frank you stand by, Nic Robertson now in Amman, Jordan. Let's bring in John Sopel in Kuwait City. He's the BBC reporter who knows the ITN reporter, Terry Lloyd, who along with two colleagues is missing in Southern Iraq.
By the way, before we talk with John, Lloyd's photographer witnessed what happened, and let's hear from him and then we'll talk with John, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL DEMOUSTIER, ITN REPORTER TERRY LLOYD'S CAMERAMAN: Very heavy gunfire started towards my car from the right-hand side and we had -- I had to duck down straight away when this exploding, everything exploded inside the car.
A split second I looked to the right and the right door where my correspondent was open and he was not there anymore, so I really and sincerely hope he managed to jump out of the car.
I stayed. The car went down into the ditch about 200 meters further. They kept firing on it and then it started -- it took fire and I jumped out, went in a ditch and then the car blew up completely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John Sopel, you know Terry Lloyd. What can you tell us about him and what do you fear?
JOHN SOPEL, BBC REPORTER: Well, he was a good guy. I mean, you know, I had a drink with him about two or three nights ago in the Sheraton Hotel here in Kuwait city. You know, he was -- what always happens on stories like this is you bump into people. You've been on previous stories with them, other assignments in other places, and you have a beer. You say hi, how's it going, and you're competitors.
You know he worked for the rival network in Britain but you're friendly competitors and we got on very well and all the BBC people got on extremely well with him. The cameraman who you just heard speaking I know extremely well because I'm normally based in Paris. He's normally based in Brussels and we're forever bumping into each other on the road.
This is the worst kind of thing that you dread the most whenever you go on a story in a dangerous place that you're going to hear that maybe one of your colleagues is taken or is injured. You know, the fears are obviously the worst kind of fears. The hope is that maybe they've been taken hostage and that there will be some kind of bargain go on for their release.
But, I mean you know it seems very vague what's happened to them, very few details at all. It all sounds extremely confusing as these things are in times of warfare and you just hope for the very best but you fear.
KING: John well do you think they will respect the sovereignty, if you will, of journalists? Journalists aren't supposed to be harmed.
SOPEL: No, but journalists have increasing come to find themselves in the line of fire on stories like this where, you know, people fail to distinguish between the country you come from and maybe what the country is doing.
I heard a parallel about three French journalists who were taken by the Iraqis but were apparently freed because of the stance taken by the French government. Now, if that is happening to the French journalists, you worry what might happen to the British and American journalists.
Of course wherever we go in the world we ought to be judged on, you know, the fact that we are trying to report something fairly, objectively, in difficult circumstances and not frankly being -- we're not there -- Terry Lloyd is not there as a representative of the British government, neither am I and neither are your CNN reporters on the ground representatives of the U.S. administration.
KING: Nic Robertson what do you make of this story?
ROBERTSON: It is deeply troubling. It's a fear that everyone would have going into these situations. War is very fluid. It's unpredictable and incidents like that can happen and we can only hope that Terry and his team come out of this OK.
John's right, one has those fears and there's nothing one can do except fall back on one's training and hope that perhaps a team is able to stick together in some way and is able to help each other and support each other through whatever they may be going through at this time.
Iraqis say that as far as journalists are concerned and how they'll treat them if they're invited into the country then they'll be treated like anyone else invited into the country, warmly, given all the hospitalities, courtesies, whatever their countries may be doing.
They say it's a different matter, though, for anyone who's coming into their country who hasn't been invited in, and I think it was very worrying a couple of days ago to listen to Iraqi officials describing the coalition forces as war criminals and breaking international law.
It's the sort of thing that tends to lead up to saying that they won't be treated under -- any captives may not be treated under Geneva Conventions. It all is very troubling at this time, Larry.
KING: Also, one wonders for John and Nic -- we're going to take a break and when we come back I'll ask you both, get the thoughts of the other panelists as well and other reporters why you do the things you do. We'll be back in one minute. Don't go away.
KING: We'll be right back with Nic Robertson and John Sopel. Michael Ware of "TIME Magazine" will also join us.
But first, let's go to Kalack (ph) in Northern Iraq where Brent Sadler is standing by. We understand he can talk about the impending battle for Mosul and Kirkuk and talk about aerial strikes on Mosul as well. Brent, what can you tell us?
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes hi, Larry. Another night of attacks against Mosul and Kirkuk, these two key northern cities, maybe we have the video of the latest attack on Mosul, coalition forces striking at leadership targets there.
We know that in the past 24 hours Saddam Hussein, one of his palaces was attacked in Mosul, also the headquarters of military intelligence and troop concentrations in military barracks.
Also in the last 24 hours in these series of air strikes, an attack against Kirkuk Air Base, very important air base, a very huge air base. I was back there in 1991 when the Kurds briefly took the Kirkuk airstrip during the rebellion against Saddam Hussein, huge air base, lots of underground bunkers, so another night of bombing here, Larry.
Just one word to add, Terry Lloyd, we're talking about him missing down in Kuwait.
SADLER: I worked with Terry with ITN for ten years. They are very experienced journalists, very, very good on the road, and the kind of journalists who would want to really get the sharp end of what's going on. We all hope he comes back safely.
KING: Those of us who stay at home in the friendly confines of studios are always amazed at people who do what they do, like you. Michael Ware joins us now. He's by phone from Shorish (ph), Northern Iraq. He's a reporter for "TIME Magazine" and he was on the scene of that suicide bombing at a checkpoint in Northern Iraq today. Several people, including an Australian news cameraman were killed. What did you observe, Michael?
MICHAEL WARE, "TIME MAGAZINE": Larry, what happened was a number of journalists went to this checkpoint, which was controlled by the Kurdish opposition forces. Twenty-four hours ago it was in the hands of Islamic militants who are working with a group called Ansar al- Islam which is backed by al Qaeda in a war that's been running here with the Kurdish forces for the past year.
At this checkpoint, a taxi approached as the Australian cameraman was taking his last shots there of the Kurdish soldiers dashing across a field. Whilst he was standing there, the taxi pulled up next to him with just one man in the vehicle. It stopped beside him and then it detonated in an enormous explosion.
There was a great fireball and filthy black smoke that belched into the sky. The impact was enormous. A (unintelligible).
KING: I think we've lost the telephone contact there. We'll try to pick it up again with Michael Ware.
John Sopel, the obvious question is why do you do the things you do? Why do you go to the hunt?
SOPEL: Because people are interested and fascinated with what is happening wherever a story is unfolding and you've got to get there to try and give people some sort of account of what is happening on the ground.
I don't think people, the journalists that go, some are, a few are, but I don't think most people are gung ho in thinking it's all fantastically exciting. We're under fire, isn't this great?
I mean there are people who describe themselves as combat cameramen and that always kind of worries me a phrase like that because we're not soldiers. But I think that also we're trained. I mean, you know, in the BBC they take great efforts to make sure that we are as safe as we possibly can be, that we can judge the risks before going into a place.
And so, it's not just abandoning all caution and saying well let's just go there and see what it's like. If it's an active frontline, you try and stay away from it. I suspect that Terry Lloyd inadvertently found himself, you know, pretty close to a frontline and that is why he found himself, you know, positioned between Iraqi and U.S. forces.
We're not mad. I think that people have a thirst for knowledge when there is something troubling like a war going on and they want people to sort of be there and sort of give them some kind of eyewitness account of what's happening.
KING: Hack, what does the soldier think of the journalist at the frontlines?
HACKWORTH: Well, I have that rare thing of doing both, been a soldier, been a war correspondent, especially during Desert Storm, and so on, and I remember Desert Storm I had more guns pointed at me than I had as a soldier.
I have extraordinary respect for the press corps, the guys that go through Afghanistan and the Vietnams and Central America and out there now. They're extraordinarily brave folks and as your reporters have said, what they're mainline shot is is bringing the people back home the truth and the people now kind of focus on the hundreds and hundreds of reporters in the last 20 years that have died in the call of duty.
KING: General Funk, do you feel the same?
FUNK: Yes. I think I do agree with David. I think -- I was just sitting here thinking, I think good reporters in the field must be like good soldiers in that they have to be mission oriented and my hat's off to them.
The guys that were with us in Vietnam, I was in A troop, 1st to the 9th Cavalry in the 1st Cavalry Division, were extremely brave those that came out with us. So, I -- yes, I don't think they're mad. I think we're lucky to have them.
KING: Nic Robertson, why do you do it?
ROBERTSON: Pursuit of the truth, Larry. It's really simple. I think that people, not only want it, they should have access to it, the truth about any situation. Then they can be informed. It's what about informed consent is in democracy and I think that people do fundamentally want that and I hope that as journalists we can help deliver that to them and that's what drives me, pursuit of the truth.
KING: But you will agree, Nic, that not all journalists do what you and John and others do and they want the truth too, they just don't want to have bullets shot at them.
ROBERTSON: I don't really want to have bullets shot at me. I've never considered myself to be a brave person in any stretch of the imagination. I was fascinated to hear that assessment of being mission oriented. Sometimes I worry that in pursuit of the truth I do get tunnel vision too much.
But I think as long as one weighs in all the safety issues and one does rely on the training, John talked about that. The BBC gets training. We get training. Many other journalists get specific combat type training these days.
And I think if one weighs all that in and puts that into the sort of mission focus, if you will, then when we can get there and we can get to the truth in most situations and we can do it safety. Sometimes one has to remember that luck can run out but don't rely on luck and hopefully it won't run out.
KING: Yes. Thank you, Nic. Hold right there, Nic. We're going to go to headlines in just a moment.
We want to get back in with Michael Ware. We lost his phone contact and he was finishing up describing what happened to that Australian news cameraman. Michael, can you hear us OK now?
WARE: Yes, I can Larry.
KING: All right, go ahead.
WARE: Yes. As I said, as the vehicle pulled up next to the cameraman it detonated in a huge blast instantly killing him and two soldiers. It also wounded an Australian TV reporter and eight other soldiers and civilians. It was a terrible tragedy and it was a horrific scene there in the aftermath.
But this is the nature of these things, Larry. The frontlines shift and move all the time and sometimes you have to be aware of that. Or, in an incident like this, this was the terrorists infiltrating behind the enemy lines into civilian territory and striking where people least expect it or where it can be least defended.
KING: And definitely an act of a terrorist?
WARE: Yes, most certainly, Larry. The question is which terrorist group, but to some degree it doesn't matter. Here in Northern Iraq in the small pocket against the Iranian border there are three groups of Islamic militants who essentially are working together.
They are led at the spearhead by the group Ansar al-Islam, which principally receives al Qaeda support in terms of money, in terms of equipment, in terms of training. It is believed from western and Kurdish intelligence sources that al Qaeda veterans of the Afghan campaign are now in these hills. They're also a sea port for Iranian hard line elements and some Iraqi intelligence agencies.
KING: So it could be any?
WARE: (Unintelligible) suicide bomber came from.
KING: Thank you, Michael.
We're going to take a break for the headlines and come right back. And we'll be meeting, by the way, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and the former Majority Leader of the United States Senate George Mitchell.
Our generals remain with us and so, too does Nic Robertson and John Sopel.
And right now, Heidi Collins gets us up to date on all that's happening right to this minute. Here's Heidi.
KING: What do you make, Lieutenant Funk -- General Funk, I'm sorry.
FUNK: They're all words.
KING: What do you make of protests that still go on?
FUNK: Well, I mean, after all that's supposedly one of the things we're fighting for, Larry. I don't -- as long as they don't criticize the soldiers themselves and do what happened to some of our folks during the latter stages of Vietnam, I certainly can't disagree with that.
It's their privilege and I think, you know, why should -- as long as they don't break the law in terms of hurting other people's property or hurting individuals, I mean they ought to be heard.
KING: Does it bother you, Colonel Hackworth?
HACKWORTH: Not at all. That's the American way to shoot your mouth off, Larry. I agree with Paul right down the line. Those brave guys that went out to Vietnam and fought in a very bad war came home, were spit upon, called baby killers.
What we have to do is bear in mind that the soldiers don't make the policy. They're the guys who enforce it. So, if we send them off to war, let's salute them and make sure that we don't repeat that horrible experience of Vietnam.
KING: With us now by embedded phone conversation with Colin Soloway of "NEWSWEEK." He's embedded with the Army's 101st Airborne Division, the air assault in Iraq. Colin what can you tell us from where you are?
COLIN SOLOWAY, "NEWSWEEK": Well, we're still assaulting from the ground here actually in series of huge convoys. We finally made it into Southern Iraq yesterday and the 101st is pushing through.
Again, as yesterday, as far as the eye can see on the horizon just vehicles, vehicles moving forward. We moved in yesterday morning and spent most of the day basically moving very, very slowly north as the roads that we've been following are clogged with thousands of vehicles moving forward, going to assembly areas to try and refuel.
We've been waiting for several hours just to get more fuel so we can move forward. The most interesting thing actually as we passed through there is -- certainly the 3rd (unintelligible) had been through so there was no -- there was no sort of enemy or, you know, hostile activity.
But, as the convoys have been moving forward, you know, at such great speed, vehicles that can't run, vehicles that have broken down basically have to be left behind for other folks to come pick them up.
And the Bedouin tribesmen living in tents, you know, along the sides of this desert certainly have -- the newly-liberated Iraqis have certainly taken advantage of the appearance of the Americans because as they've been -- as the vehicles break down and are abandoned, the Bedouin have been stripping them clean of tires, engines, everything they can get their hands on. So, we certainly get a lot -- so they certainly seem quite happy to have us here.
KING: Colin, we've asked Nic Robertson and John Sopel and Michael Ware. We'll ask you. Why do you like being with the troops? Why do you like being -- going to the front?
SOLOWAY: Well, you asked me this once before.
KING: A long time ago.
SOLOWAY: A long time ago and I think I had to give a politically correct answer. I think actually the answer I give to my friends is that it beats working. It's just a fantastic opportunity to be out and see history basically in the making and try and explain that to people, to have experience to see the things that we see, both good and terrible.
I think you have a much more, as I think you know Colonel Hackworth and anyone who's been out and been sort of in the real world on this knows that this is -- you see things that most people have never seen, will never see and you have a much better understanding of what it means, of how people act under intense and stressful situations. You learn a lot about human beings in these circumstances and there's a lot of amazing stories to tell.
KING: Nic Robertson, no two actions are the same. How different is this war so far for you?
ROBERTSON: Well, some surprising similarities, Larry, that I wish would stop being so repetitive. Just after September the 11th when I was in Afghanistan, I was thrown out by the Taliban. I was in Belgrade when NATO started bombing the Yugoslavs and I was thrown out of there the next day, and now I've been thrown out of Iraq, so there are some similarities here. It's a trend I'd like to break.
But it is different. I mean this war will be different. It will be hugely different. I was in Iraq in 1991 for the Gulf War and 1998 for Operation Desert Fox. There's going to come a point when there's going to be a huge number of U.S. forces surrounding Baghdad and entering the streets of Baghdad, and I think for any journalist in the city, what happens at that time is going to be critical.
What do the intelligence forces do? What do the government officials do? What do the soldiers do? And, how do the journalists play into that? Will all these officials melt away and disappear? Will it be a fairly easy takeover once the troops get to the center of the city where the journalists presumably will be waiting?
So, it's going to play out very differently to all these other conflicts. So, I think as you say each one is different. Each one has its own dangers, and when I try and explain it to people, situations always seem so much more dangerous from the outside. It's only when you go there and only when you get on the ground that you can assess it. I remember going to Sarajevo back in the summer of 1992. It was a dangerous city but when you got there, there were only a certain number of roads that were dangerous. And then, when you looked at those roads, there were only certain sections of those roads where the snipers could actually shoot you. So, you could really break the danger down into limited areas, and I think each situation, you go in and you learn what those specific dangers are there.
KING: Joining us now -- thank you, Nic. Joining us now again in an embedded phone situation is Arain Campo-Flores, "NEWSWEEK" Correspondent with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division Mechanized in Iraq. What can you tell us, Arain, from your vantage point?
ARAIN CAMPO-FLORES, "NEWSWEEK": Well, right now we are approaching one urban area. Until now, the column that I've been traveling with has been moving through an area that is fairly uninhabited, mostly friendly, plenty of Bedouin herdsmen along the side of the road that would wave at you as you pass by.
As we approached, there have been firefights. From the vantage point to which I am at, I've seen mortars pounding this one particular urban area where there are other elements of 3rd Infantry Division that have been engaged in direct fire, engaged by what appeared to be civilians who were attempting to ambush U.S. soldiers with small arms, with hand grenades, and then the retaliation on the part of U.S. forces has been largely from field artillery positions further in the rear.
There has been some engagement and direct fire but also an attempt to bypass those urban areas because since they are ingested, the enemy forces have been able to sort of disperse into, you know, the tangle of the urban environment.
KING: Thank you very much, Arain.
It's dawn, dawn coming up on what looks like a beautiful day in the area. We are, of course, with you seven nights a week of LARRY KING LIVE and this coverage.
Among our guests tomorrow night, we're going to have a panel of ambassadors discussing the situation from their vantage point.
When we come back, former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and former Senator Majority Leader George Mitchell will join Lieutenant General Paul Funk, Colonel David Hackworth, and Nic Robertson, and John Sopel.
As we go to break, some images of war. We'll be right back.
(VIDEO CLIP OF WAR IMAGES)
KING: In a moment we'll be joined by the former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, also a veteran of Army work. He was on General Douglas MacArthur's intelligence staff. And, George Mitchell, the former Senate Majority Leader who in his service to his country was with the United States Army Counterintelligence Corps.
First we want to check in with Charles Clover of "The Financial Times." He's embedded with the 101st Airborne. Where are you and what can you tell us, Charles?
CHARLES CLOVER, "THE FINANCIAL TIMES": Well, I'm in Camp Pennsylvania. It's in the northern part of the Kuwaiti Desert near the Iraqi border. As you probably know, there's been a grenade attack here...
KING: I know.
CLOVER: ...earlier tonight. Three grenades were thrown into command tents in the command section of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne, a number of injured. People are saying about 13. Two of those injured were gunshot wounds and the rest, or I guess all of them had fragmentation wounds from the grenades. Four were being described as having serious injuries.
And there's a U.S. soldier that's been detained and questioned in connection with the attack. We're being asked not to release certain details about that but, you know, I think it's fair to say that he was, you know, among the top suspects.
There have been other people detained here in connection with the attack, so as far as -- the problem is that we're being asked not to release a whole lot of details about, you know, exactly why he's being detained and, you know...
KING: We understand.
CLOVER: And more details of the action.
KING: Thank you, Charles, Charles Clover of "The Financial Times." Of course, we had that report earlier as well.
Joining us now in Bar Harbor, Maine, is Caspar Weinberger; in Miami, is George Mitchell.
Caspar, former Secretary of Defense, what do you make of the action to this minute?
CASPAR WEINBERGER, DEFENSE SECY. UNDER PRES. REAGAN: Well, I think it's going extraordinarily well. It's so very different, of course, than the war that I knew in the Pacific but it is a very impressive example of the training and the equipment and the spirit, the morale, of our forces, and I think it is going extraordinarily well under what are clearly very difficult conditions.
KING: George Mitchell, what do you read on it? What's your read?
GEORGE MITCHELL, FMR. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Larry, the outcome has never been in doubt and is not now in doubt. The military imbalance between the United States and Iraq is so great that a U.S. victory is absolutely certain and the only question is how long and at what cost? And, I agree that it appears to be going approximately according to the United States plans.
KING: You were once, Caspar, in fact in a book you wrote in 1998 called "The Next War" you said even if the next war were a replay of Desert Storm, it would be substantially more difficult to fight and win than it was in '91. The U.S. force that defeated Saddam Hussein no longer exists. What we have today is a military that's a shadow of its former self. Do you still feel that way?
WEINBERGER: Well, that was three and a half, four years ago, and unfortunately we did lose a great deal of the strength that we had built up before the Clinton years. Under President Bush, we have regained a substantial amount of that strength and the morale has never wavered.
This is an all volunteer force, remember. All these people are there because they want to be there. They're volunteers and that makes a tremendous difference. I think they're getting reequipped. They're getting the kind of training they've always had, which is very good, and they have the spirit.
So, while we did lose a lot after the first fight in Desert Storm, we have regained a substantial amount of that and under President Bush's budget proposal we'll be regaining full strength in about two more years.
KING: Do you agree with that General Funk?
FUNK: Yes, I do. The secretary has it right. The Army, for instance, gave up 37 percent of its people and by my calculations about 57 percent of its combat power. It's just now starting to get much more modern than it was.
Furthermore, I think the real key to all of this particularly in this kind of a war is the training of the soldiers, their junior leaders, and their quality. I mean I think that was the difference in Desert Storm too.
But certainly we've given up a lot of combat power but the training has turned around in about the last three years. For a while I was very worried that we would repeat what we did after World War II, but I'm very pleased with the performance of the soldiers. I agree with that.
KING: Hack, did you want to say something?
WEINBERGER: There's another...
KING: I'm sorry, Caspar first and then Hack, go ahead Caspar.
WEINBERGER: I said there's another factor here too and that is the extraordinary accuracy of these weapons, these cruise missiles and other aerial bombardment that is coming in now.
This is on an order of magnitude where you used to measure the error probable of these weapons in something like perhaps hundreds of yards. Now, they measure it in inches and it is incredible what can be done by the accuracy of these weapons in eliminating collateral damage and taking out targets on the first strike.
KING: Hack, do you want to say something? I want to ask George Mitchell something -- Hack.
HACKWORTH: Yes. When Paul commanded the spearhead division during Desert Storm that slashed across that desert, there were probably ten or 12 total division-size forces there counting the separate brigades, and now there's less than 20 percent. They're on their way to Baghdad.
There will probably be a fight in Baghdad if the Republican Guard does stand and fight and that's when it will get really tough and that, I think, when you really see the Shock and Awe. The reports that I'm getting, Larry, is the Shock and Awe hasn't really started but it will start if the Republican Guard decides to defend the perimeter around Baghdad.
FUNK: I agree.
KING: George Mitchell, must the coalition find weapons of mass destruction for this to have been successful?
MITCHELL: Well obviously, Larry, the U.S. position would be severely undermined were such weapons not found. I think it's likely that they will be. As you know, the U.N. inspectors before they were evicted in 1998 documented the existence of such weapons and they have said that Saddam Hussein and his government have not provided credible evidence of their destruction.
So, everyone deduces from that that they're still in existence and I think that's a likely and fair deduction. But if they're not found, I think it would obviously undermine the U.S. position if that were to occur.
KING: I got to take one more break and then we're going to go around the robin with Nic Robertson, John Sopel, and Lieutenant General Funk and Colonel Hackworth and Caspar Weinberger and George Mitchell, and we'll do that right after this.
KING: I want to go round robin here a little with our distinguished and unique panel.
Nic Robertson, where do you go from here? Do you stay in Amman or what?
ROBERTSON: Larry, I'm probably going to re-deploy back to the border. Ruacia (ph), that's the closest point, the Jordanian point really for getting back into Iraq and wait for a time that we can go into the country from there.
Hopefully, it won't be too long and hopefully we can go to Baghdad. I'm sure there will be many other journalists there and I hope we can do some fine work when we get there.
KING: Good luck, Nic, and we'll be talking to you a lot, always great having you with us, by the way, good seeing you healthy.
John Sopel of the BBC, you're in Kuwait City. Are you planning to move on?
SOPEL: Yes, well we're looking into the safety of all of it now. I mean I think that this is very different from Afghanistan where across the border you do have a proper army and you just don't know whether there are elements of it that are still embittered.
So, we're looking at the whole safety question of whether it's safe to move north into Iraq. That's one of the things we're certainly considering at the moment and may well be going in the next day or two to go north and just follow the route up, probably meeting Nic from completely opposite direction.
KING: Thanks, John. Thanks for doing outstanding work us tonight.
Let's get a call in now. We haven't had one yet, Salem, Virginia, hello.
CALLER FROM SALEM, VIRGINIA: Hello, how you doing?
CALLER: First of all, to Colonel Hackworth, the lady called last night and kind of gave him a hard time about his attitude. Don't worry about that. We don't all believe that. She's one of a very few.
HACKWORTH: Thank you.
KING: Do you have a question?
CALLER: My question is, how much do you expect on a worst case scenario if the Republican Guard decides to put up a fight in Baghdad, worst case scenario?
KING: Good question.
HACKWORTH: Well, I'll have a go at it. I think that they could put up a fight. I don't think it would be much. As I said earlier, the Shock and Awe has not occurred. It's coming down the line.
So, what we've seen is kind of a little Fourth of July party so far, so you can imagine what it's going to be and that's going to fall on their parade. So, that will take the fighting sting right out of their belly.
KING: General Funk, do you want to comment on the same question?
FUNK: Yes, thanks Larry. Yes, worst case, the Marines and the 3rd Infantry get stopped. They really don't have anybody behind them. They're so close that we can't put all of the air power on the Iraqis that we might want to plus we can't target them well enough. And in that particular case, we're going to miss the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division, the two most modern heavy divisions in the U.S. Army and they ain't there yet.
KING: Caspar Weinberger, you've served under a few presidents in your lengthy service to this country. What do you make of the man at Camp David now, George W. Bush?
WEINBERGER: I think he's doing a great job. I think he's got a great deal of political courage. This kind of action which we have to do is obviously opposed by everybody who doesn't like a war. Nobody who's been in a war particularly likes a war but these things have to be done.
And I think President Bush has displayed great political courage in taking a very forthright stand from the beginning, making it quite clear that we didn't need anybody's permission to defend our own security interests and we are defending them. And, he's also had the courage to regain the military capability that we need and ask for the proper funding to do that. So, I'm delighted that he's there.
KING: George Mitchell, how do you assess him to this point? I know you're a political opponent.
MITCHELL: Well, Caspar and I share some things in common. We love Maine and especially the Bar Harbor area where he is right now but we don't agree on a lot of political things.
I think, Larry, at this time with the United States engaged in a war and Americans being shot at, that we all ought to be supportive of our government, our troops, and our president.
I happen to think that much of the diplomatic effort prior to going in was poorly handled but there will be plenty of time later to discuss and dissect that as opposed to right now. I think we should be supportive until this war is over.
KING: Tucson, Arizona, we'll take another call, hello.
CALLER FROM TUCSON, ARIZONA: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: I have a question for you. My nephew is in the 101st 2nd Brigade, very young. He's 19 years old. What does your panel of experts think might be any psychological damage in addition to what they're already doing if it's proven that this was done by somebody, an American soldier?
KING: Oh, good question. General Funk, what will be the effect on her 19-year-old son when they learn that an American soldier may have committed this horrible act against his own men?
FUNK: Yes, look these are -- your son, I'll bet you if he's in the 101st, as you said, is a very tough young man. He'll regret that. He'll dislike it. He'll hate someone who would do that to the soldiers that he serves with but I'll bet you that will make him soldier on even more. From a psychological standpoint, ma'am, I know he'll be strong and I know he'll do well.
HACKWORTH: Yes, the 101st, my old outfit, the Screaming Eagles, they're tough stuff and they just came out of Afghanistan where they got a war under their belt and that boy might be 19. He's probably going on 50 and he'll be able to shake it off and move on and get the objective.
KING: Caspar, you've worked on these kind of things for a long time. Do you ever see stability in the Middle East?
WEINBERGER: Well, I think that we'll have to take it up after we get rid of people like Saddam Hussein. I think you can't have any kind of peace in the region or indeed in the world while you let people like that stay in power and with the possibility of acquiring weapons of mass destruction, in his case the certainly of acquiring them and that has to be done first.
After that, I think with the change of government that's coming in the Palestine region, I think there is a good chance that we could get some kind of a settlement that will be kept. You can't have a settlement unless the people on the other side of the table are going to adhere to it.
KING: A settlement they want, the Bush administration wants is the Mitchell plan, your plan George. Are you ever going to see it bear fruition?
MITCHELL: I hope so, Larry. The fact is, of course, that the principal source of instability in the Middle East is the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. No matter what happens in Iraq, there's not going to be stability in the region until that conflict is resolved and my hope is that the administration will undertake a new initiative, as the president said just recently that he would do so, and I hope that it comes soon.
I think there is a possibility. When we got peace in Northern Ireland, the principal factor was the war weariness of the people. People just became sick of 30 years of conflict and they wanted an end to it, and I think the same thing may be approaching, an opportunity for that may be approaching in the Middle East.
KING: Thank you, George. Thanks all of us. Thanks to all of our guests who appeared with us tonight and those who were with us all the way, including Lieutenant General Paul Funk, United States Army Retired; and General David Hackworth, United States Army Retired as well. Hack will be back again tomorrow night. By the way, he likes to be called Hack. I'm not treating him with any kind of disrespect.
As we leave you this morning, it's a beautiful dawn morning in a much hassled city of Baghdad, Iraq.
Aaron Brown returns around the corner and that corner will be shared with Heidi Collins who will deliver the news headlines.
I'm Larry King, see you tomorrow night. Aaron is next and here's Heidi.
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