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Strike on Iraq: Anti-War Protests Heat up Stateside

Aired March 22, 2003 - 14:36   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: While the troops are marching and missiles are flying over Iraq, back here in the United States, thousands of Americans are marching, many of them against the war in Iraq. Some of them in support of the president's policies. These are live pictures from New York City, where apparently tens of thousands of people are marching down one of the main thoroughfares of New York City in Manhattan. We have three correspondents following. You can see police moving in. We have got three correspondents following what's going on in both in Chicago and Atlanta, and in San Francisco at this hour. Jeff Flock is in Chicago. Brian Cabell in Atlanta. Rusty Dornin in San Francisco.
But let's start with what may be as you see here, the biggest demonstration in New York, and CNN's Maria Hinojosa -- Maria.

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the demonstrators have been marching on Broadway now, starting at noon. So well over two and a half hours. Police are saying that this crowd is well over 100,000. Now we do hear some kind of confrontation taking place on 14th Street, but here in midtown Manhattan, on 3 had 4th Street are a very angry crowd. A lot of anger at the media, Judy, I have to say. But also very angry clearly that this war has taken place and that is going forward. Now, they say that they continue to feel undaunted about the fact that the war has started. That what they are demonstrating for now is to end the war as quickly as possible. And they were asking for the U.S. troops to come home.

But I want to give you a sense of some of the people who are here. You came here today to say what? I mean, some people would say the war is already taking place. What good is it to take to the streets now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an unjust war. I am a New York City schoolteacher. We need money for schools and not for war. We need to make sure that Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz still continue this war on innocent people in the name of safety.

HINOJOSA: What do you say to people who say that by taking to the streets now is something of an unpatriotic move given that soldiers is -- that soldiers are putting their lives on the line at this moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We support the soldiers. We want to support them and bring them home. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) where they have access to health care and jobs. And people that think that demonstrating isn't patriotic need to reexamine their history books. HINOJOSA: Thank you very much. Also a lot of children, surprisingly, Judy, a lot of young teenagers, a lot of high school students but a lot of mothers with their children as well. And I wanted to ask you, here is a mom, your baby asleep, the little one, why come out on the streets on a day like today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like everybody else to say I don't agree with what the Bush government is doing.

HINOJOSA: What would you say to people, those who say (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what you should be doing is writing a letter to these troops letting them know that you support them, instead of taking to the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, there's lots of slogans out there saying we support our troops. Bring them home! I think that's the right thing to do. Bring them home. Make them teachers something interesting, not war.

HINOJOSA: Do you think, though, that policy makers in Washington really are interested in seeing this? Will this motivate them? Move them in any way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So well, whether they are interested or not, I think it's a duty, a moral duty to say that you're against something that's being done that you find unfair.

HINOJOSA: All right. Thank you very much.


HINOJOSA: Again, Judy, a real diversity. I have been coming to the demonstrations now for several weeks and what is interesting to me is when you continue to find people who have never taken to the streets, who are doing this for the very first time their lives and as you can see, a lot of anger. A lot of anger specifically at the media. We are trying to tell them that we are trying to tell it like that it is but they are very, very angry and probably one of the reasons why they have taken to the streets as well -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Maria, as we are watching you and listening to you, we are watching another picture in New York. These are -- this is from a camera high overhead on either from a helicopter or on top of a building. We assume a helicopter. A number of people running down the street. We cannot quite make out what's going on. But they do seem to be running either running away from the police or police chasing them. It's not clear. We're not -- quite close enough to figure out what's going on here you see. These are live pictures in New York City and this is a side street off of that demonstration of what appear to be perhaps 100,000, certainly tens of thousands of people. Marching down a central thoroughfare in Manhattan. We're going to keep an eye on this for just a moment while we try to figure out what's going on.

Again, people breaking and running. We don't know. Because we see some police cars, but we can't see the specifics. There you see some motorcycle, police motorcycles moving through. All this very symbolic of just how the strong feelings are among some Americans. Against this war. Here you are, people running around the car.

Police getting out of the car. And you are seeing this as we are seeing it live pictures in downtown New York City in Manhattan. People running, appear to be running away from the police. To try to get to safety. And it's not clear to us just how far they are from the main march route, if you will. Today there was not scheduled to be a rally. They were just scheduled to march down some of the main thoroughfares in New York City. And you can see what looks like uniform policemen chasing these people, and Maria was telling us I think, that the police have tried to keep the marchers to one particular avenue, but it's evidently they have not -- evidently, they have not been successful doing that.

Again, these pictures coming to us -- we have to assume a helicopter overhead in New York City. We don't have the address. All we can tell you that this is what appears to be the West Side of Manhattan, downtown New York City. And as we watch this, we're going to keep an eye on this. We also want to take to you one of the other cities, where there are protest marchers in Chicago. There have been not only protests against the war marchers, but there have been marches out in support President Bush's policies. And while we continue to keep an eye on what is going on in New York, let's bring in our Jeff Flock for the latest of what is going to in Chicago. Jeff, are you with us?

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Judy, I got you loud and clear. It has been an extraordinary day because both protests, both demonstration us that refer to are going on simultaneously since about 11:00 local time here. I'm in the midst of what is left of the pro troops rally. That dispersed a little bit ago but some people have stuck around you talk about the police action going to in New York, perhaps if we are able to see in our camera positions across the street, because we are not able it get our cable over here, but perhaps you see police a raid in riot gear keeping apart the pro-troop rally. And the anti-war rally.

A lot of chanting and discussion going on back and forth but the police have them separated by about a good I'm guessing it's about, maybe 40, 50, 60 feet. But right in the center of it, some real serious screaming going on back and forth. But having said that, I think it's fair to say also that this has been a respectful day, both sides, to the extent possible for a long time where mingling among each other police sort of keep a watch on it and try to keep people in individual spots. But we've been talking to folks in the crowd. I have a gentleman who is wrapped literally in an American flag. Why did you come out today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Support the troops and support America, support President Bush's initiative.

FLOCK: When you see the anti-war sentiment and the complaining going back and forth, do you feel they are unpatriotic when you have the troops in the field? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not necessarily. I think they support the troops but I am a little concerned that their not supporting the American initiative to deliberate Kuwait and in Iraq. To get things going the right way. World peace is a world issue and we need to be behind all of our troops and particularly of the President at this point in time.

FLOCK: Some people say this is what America is all about. The ability to sort of have two groups of folks with differing views, be on the same spot and express...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Agree 100 percent. This is what it is about. But the folks here to understand a lot of people die for this right and we need to be behind that and be respectful of both causes. I feel a lot of folks who are trying to party and have a good time. And what happened on Lakeshore Drive the other night some lives were caused because ambulances could not get into the hospitals and things like that. We have to keep thing in perspective and be behind our troops 100 percent.

FLOCK: I appreciate the perspective, sir. So, we'll keep an eye on it, Judy. But perhaps you see Chicago police. And in fact able to get off to the left there, you'll see, they are already arrayed in full riot gear, not wearing gas masks at the moment, but they do have them on their hip. You can't see it, but they do. So ready for anything here, but we're hopeful that this will remain a peaceful and respectful day in Chicago as both viewpoints are being expressed. Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Flock reporting from Chicago. And you see the pictures in Chicago from Chicago in the smaller box in the left part of your screen. On the right side of your screen the larger picture, New York city downtown Manhattan, where there is a massive anti-war protest under way. Our Maria Hinojosa has been reporting from there. We have been hearing people with very strong feelings and you can tell from the people Maria, the people Jeff, and the people, Brian Cabell in Atlanta, who have been talking to, people in this country have strong feelings on both sides. Some people feel vehemently that President Bush has done the right thing. It's long overdo time to liberate the people of Iraq living under a suppressive, tyrannical dictator.

On the other hand, Americans feeling strongly that this war was not something that the United States should have initiated. That in the words of some, they haven't seen the proof of a connection between Iraq and Saddam Hussein. And what happened to the United States on September 11. Very strong feelings on both sides. We live in a democracy. We live in a country with where people can express their views. We never see something like this in Iraq or in many other countries around the world. That do not have the freedom, the extraordinary freedom to express opinion that we have in this country. And it's something we all should be thankful for every day.

And we say this even as we watch police trying to keep order in Chicago. Police trying to keep order in New York City. We all agree that whatever protests are out there, they ought to be conducted in a way to respect the civil rights of others, to respect the rights of everyone to speak out.

But again, very strong feelings, and many would say that's what makes America the country that it is. I mentioned Brian Cabell in Atlanta, and I believe he was with us. He was telling us a little earlier this afternoon that there was a large crowd of people gathered around the CNN Center Building in downtown Atlanta. That they were moving on down I believe North on Peachstry (ph) Street. Brian, are you with us? All right. We're going to move on right now. But again, strong feelings, demonstrations in a number of American cities today, including San Francisco. And just quickly, to look at this poll.

There was a poll done in the last few days, CNN-"USA Today" Gallup poll, the support for President Bush's policies in the last day since this war gotten under way, have gone up. What was a support a little bit over a majority support is now 76 percent approval. Twenty percent disapproval, of course, these numbers are moving, and this is a snapshot, but you can see right now this President has the support of an overwhelming majority of American people. Wolf, back to you in Kuwait City.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much. Where their strong support for the President as well, the Kuwaitis strongly supporting this coalition effort against Iraq. There's no doubt that there's an intensive military campaign under way, but there's a continuing diplomatic campaign under way as well. Let's go to the State Department CNN's State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel. Some interesting diplomatic twists unfolding right now, Andrea?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Our viewers may remember that earlier in the week, the French ambassador to Washington, Jean-David Levitte, had told CNN that if Iraq would launch a chemical or biological or a nuclear attack against the U.S. and the coalition of the willing, it would be willing to get involved in a military fashion. That it would be willing to send experts and decontamination to the region.

Now CNN has learned in fact the French have already deployed one unit of 39 soldiers and two army personnel carriers to Qatar. This is an arrangement that French diplomats tell CNN was made between the French government directly with the Qatar government, not through the United States, not through any other members of the coalition of the willing, but that this unit is already on its way to the region. And in fact, Wolf, I'm told that this deal was worked out last week when the French defense minister was in the Persian Gulf meeting with Qatari Officials -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I am sure officials in Qatar are pleased about that development. There's also a development involving Iran that is causing some headaches for the State Department, Andrea. Tell our viewers what is happening on that front.

KOPPEL: Right. Well, this is a matter actually that's -- that is involving some diplomatic exchanges between the United States and the government of Iran through the Swiss channels. Since 1979 and the Iran hostage crisis, the United States and Tehran don't have direct diplomatic relations so they pass messages between themselves through the Swiss embassy. And I'm told, there have been several exchanges.

In fact, the State Department is very public about it these exchanges, Wolf, from unusually. So trying to make very clear that reports out of Tehran, that there may have been errant U.S. missiles that have landed in southwestern Iran, that these missiles are being in -- these report are being investigated. In fact, State Department Deputy Spokesman Phillip Reeker (ph) has told CNN these messages have been passed in the last couple of days and he said we take seriously Iran's sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is a very sensitive matter in fact, in sort a preemptive diplomatic way. The U.S. held secret meetings with Iranian officials weeks ago before the war began to try to head off any potential problems like this.

And during those discussions, I'm told, Iranian officials agreed to what is known as active neutrality. That means if there were for instance missiles that landed on Iranian soil or perhaps even U.S. or coalition troops that landed accidentally on Iranian territory, that you could have either search and rescue missions or that the U.S. might even be able to have over flight rights. But as things stand right now, there are these reports out of Iran that may be U.S. missiles, perhaps as many as three landed, just over the border from Basra on Iranian soil. Perhaps even near an Iranian oil refinery depot and the U.S. is taking these reports seriously.

Although, defense officials have told CNN, Wolf, that according to their satellite imagery and the reports that they have been able to gather from their intelligence, they don't believe that these were U.S. American Tomahawk missiles. Because of sensitivity of diplomatic relationship, they are looking into this very, very seriously, Wolf.

BLITZER: Andrea Koppel, thanks very much. Andrea's at the State Department. Let's go to Miles O'Brien at the CNN Center in Atlanta -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, we are in many ways limited by our technology covering this war. We have cameras in Baghdad and have been able to show you a tremendous amount of activity there. We also had cameras embedded with U.S. troops. Nevertheless, a lot going on that we haven't seen just yet.

I want to just tell you where we are headed. Take a look at this map this is our map with our digital globe imagery. We will take a look at the Basra area and go up here into the western part of Iraq, they call the Scud box to a couple of air fields called H2 and H3 and then check in on to Tikrit and Mosul. And give you a sense of what's going to there with a bird's-eye view from our imagery, at least give you some before images with the help of two of our experts. General David Grange, General Don Shepperd joining us from the map tables to give us some insights. Generals, good to have you with us. First of all talk about what's going on in the South. Move the map in to Umm Qasr and into Basra. As we take a look at some of the action that we've captured there from some of our embeds and other sources, this is of course what when we saw that mass surrender of Iraqi troops. What has gone on there that we haven't seen necessarily? MAJ. GEN. DONALD SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, basically, Miles, down in the port are of Umm Qasr which is very key, we've had British commandos, Navy seals, Marines all working in a combined operation to basically quickly seize the port and move north into the Basra area as well, and the British securing the Al Faw (ph) Peninsula. Now, the importance of this area is of course to secure the oil fields, Ramalia oil fields. General Franks said in his briefing today that nine wells had been set on fire out of the 500 in the area. He considered a major success, not only to get in and secure the oil field bus to secure the oil terminal, pumping stations and of course the port which is key not only to the economic recovery out of Iraq but into Iraq as well later on.

O'BRIEN: All right, and I am zooming in right there to Umm Qasr, where all of that happened. This is the border line between Kuwait and Iraq. That will give that you sense. Move up to Basra. More to tell about David Grange or Don Shepherd that we don't know and haven't necessarily seen.

SHEPPERD: No, I think that fighting continues. A lot of skirmishing going on. prisoners are taken and securing key areas along the river network in the town of Basra, which is the second most populated city in Iraq.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's go to the Scud box, and this is the place David Grange knows a lot about. Spend time there a dozen years ago. He was in the Scud box, wearing a uniform that time.

First of all, I got a big wide shot here and I want to try to lay this out for everybody. First of all, in the foreground where that star is that's Baghdad kind of underneath there. There you go. This area that I am talking about is right out in here. This is what is known as the Scud box. You'll see a couple of air fields out there, H2 and H3, number one and number two. These are critical. As I move in on them, David Grange, why don't you explain their strategic importance.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, very important just like they were in the war of '91. This is where the Iraq could fire Scud missiles into Israel or any of countries that direction.

O'BRIEN: I just highlighted Israel by the way so you have a sense of what we are talking about. We are talking about 275, maybe a 300-mile run, right?

GRANGE: Right. And the Scud box, this gives you the capability of firing from that area up to 600, 700 kilometers into target areas. So it's a critical piece of terrain. H2/H3 airfields are critical to hide, support scuds as well as enemy tactical aircraft.

O'BRIEN: All right, I am bringing you down into H2. Let me show you this airfield. It is something. About an 8,000 foot airstrip. Owning that strip is a good thing, if your trying to engage in any military operations because you don't have to do the airborne refueling that we have seen so much so far, right? GRANGE: Exactly. This could be used for operating basis to launch helicopters or other operations out of throughout the rest of western Iraq. So it shortens the leg -- legs for operations throughout the area. And again, it was critical in the '91 war to our forces that went in there. A lot of publications out on this now on the difficulty of finding scuds in Western Iraq. Not only near H2, H3, but in a whole vicinity in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and in the mountains and the deserts to keep those scuds from being fired.

O'BRIEN: All right, I have moved the map up to Kirkuk and I wanted to show you this airfield and Don Shepperd, we don't know if in air field was targeted we know that Kirkuk was targeted. Take a look at these reinforced hangars and potentially ammunitions storage areas, can you assess that for us -- the fly here, Don Shepperd as to what we are look at here?

SHEPPERD: Yes, basically this is a hardened aircraft shelters. Not only because you operate fighter aircraft or any other aircraft out of there, but you can hide lots of weapons of mass destruction. And these bunkers and of course underground. It's very likely that this was targeted but you want to be careful not to destroy the runways, because you may need them later for reconstructing the country.

O'BRIEN: All right. We are just about out of time. I will fly you quickly over to Tikrit. Of course the home town to Saddam Hussein, his hometown, his clan, his tribe. Just absolutely laced with palaces. We know that has been a target. We don't know if these palaces, which you see lining this lake here. Here, here, here, and here. We don't know if they are still standing. That remains to be seen, gentlemen. Do you have any insights for us on that?

SHEPPERD: Yes, to be seen and the other key thing is many of these can be used as decoys. In other words, a lot of hide sites may not be apparent from these images but here you can expect most likely a lot of tough resistance, home town of Hussein. A lot of loyal supporters in this area.

O'BRIEN: All right, gentlemen, appreciate it. General Don Shepherd, General David Grange of the air force and the army respectfully, we appreciate your insights as always. Outside of view of our camera lenses. Back with more in just a bit. Stay with us.


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