CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Strike on Iraq: Camp Pennsylvania
Aired March 22, 2003 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone. We spent so much time in these last days together with our eyes fixed on Baghdad and Basra, the battle for Umm Qasr. We've seen the protests today unfold in New York and San Francisco, other places, too.
But here are a few other communities to keep in your thoughts. Keep Bloomington, Illinois and Waterville, Maine, Harrison County, Mississippi, La Mesa, California, places all over the country linked by an invisible chain. They are the hometowns of some of the troops killed in Iraq, places remembering their heroes tonight and we'll remember some of them as well over the next few hours together.
We begin with a reminder that sometimes the worst can happen, not just on the front lines, but in the back lines as well. There are a number of difficult incidents to report on today -- and this evening that have been unfolding, really, in the last hour or so. One of them, Karl Penhaul, who's one of our embedded correspondents has been dealing with, he's with the Army's 5th Corps, that's the 11th attack helicopter regiment. And they apparently came under attack today.
Karl begin, because I haven't done a very good job of it, by locating yourself as best you can. Where are you now?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, good morning to you all. It's morning now here in Northern Kuwait. I'm with the 11th helicopter attack regiment task force. And we're inside Kuwait, inside Northern Kuwait, approximately 15 miles from the burham. That's the border with Iraq, Aaron.
BROWN: OK. Now let's talk about what happened and how long ago it happened?
PENHAUL: We're talking now approximately two hours ago. Those were the hours of darkness. It was about 3:30, nearly 4:00 local time when it happened. I was in bed at the time. I think most of the troops here that are still left at this base camp. And what really happened at that point was suddenly there was the resounding boom of two U.S. Patriot missiles as they went off. These Patriot missiles are fired out in batteries of two.
And we heard this resounding boom, boom. And then from that, one of the soldiers at the -- who was on duty on time, looked out of the tent door, saw red flashes going up into the sky. And at that point, we heard across the telephones that link the tents and the command posts, the tinny sound of the telephones going and the call came over gas, gas, gas. Commanders over the phone did confirm that an incoming Iraqi missile had been detected. And it was that that the U.S. Patriot missiles had been sent up to destroy.
Commanders had -- did confirm a hit on that missile, so that the missile, the Iraqi missile, was destroyed in flight. Typically these Patriot missiles will hit the incoming missiles at one of the highest points of that flight, but there is still a danger there of debris and also of costs for many chemical or biological agents that those missiles may be carrying.
We all were in gas masks at that point, with the gas, gas, gas call. We donned gas masks. But after about 50 minutes of that, it was confirmed that no chemical agents were detected. It was also confirmed that Iraqi missile was fully destroyed, Aaron.
BROWN: Has there been this sort of incident before?
PENHAUL: There have, Aaron, and particularly in this region, not specifically at this camp, but about 48 hours ago at a camp about 50 kilometers, 30 miles from here, there were those kind of incidents. That was a different ballgame, though, in many senses because you'll remember 48 hours ago, the ground war hadn't started. That was before U.S. troops had crossed the burham, before U.S. troops had entered Iraq. And now, obviously, with U.S. troops so deep inside Iraq, it's somewhat more surprising that Iraqi missiles are still within range of these camps in Northern Kuwait.
So U.S. Army personnel here in Northern Kuwait are still analyzing and trying to figure out first of all, what kind of missile it was. And secondly, where those missile and placements may be. Because obviously, if they're still in range of U.S. based camps here in Northern Kuwait, one of the main things that the U.S. Army will want to do now is detect those and go out and destroy them, Aaron.
BROWN: And just -- again, just to put the headline on this, everybody is fine. The missile was destroyed. And what you got was a very bad scare. And what it raises is a number of, excuse me, interesting and difficult questions. Fair enough?
PENHAUL: Exactly, that's correct, yes. Incoming missile destroyed. No chemical agents detected. No damage. No injuries. And it must be said, as far as the U.S. troops here, all have been through these types of drills many, many times. And a lot of them, in fact, because it was night time, simply donned their gas masks, got back into their sleeping bags, went back to sleep for the 40 or 50 minutes that a chemical alert lasted. So that was even more surprising than the attack itself, I think, Aaron.
BROWN: We got to love them. Karl, thanks a lot. Karl Penhaul, you've had quite a night. Thank you very much.
The other developing story that's been going on, if you are just coming into the coverage of the day's events, there was an attack or an incident. I'm not precisely sure what the right word is here, particularly as the facts unfold. At Camp Pennsylvania, with 101st Airborne is, 13 Americans were injured in this incident, but that's believe me, not the half of it, as it unfolds. Charles Clover is with "The Financial Times." He's embedded up there in Kuwait with Camp Pennsylvania. And he's on the phone. Let's just put the lead on this. What's the lead, right now, on this story?
CHARLES CLOVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're being a bit -- you know, we're being a bit limited in what we can release at the moment. I mean, there's a lot of, in the camp, saw what happened and know a lot more than we can say at the moment because we're -- I'm an embedded journalist and so I'm subject to some...
CLOVER: ...rules that normal journalists aren't. But the main information is still that a U.S. soldier is being held and questioned in connection with is definitely was an attack on the command structure of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne here in Camp Pennsylvania.
And the main -- I mean, the most of the information comes from what we saw and what was later confirmed in a briefing by the commander, Colonel Ben Hodges, who's the commander of the1st Brigade, who you know, confirmed most of the details that we already knew and allowed us to release some of the information already.
BROWN: All right...
CLOVER: A lot more...
BROWN: I'm sorry, Charles?
CLOVER: ...will probably be coming out in the next few hours. Yes?
BROWN: I'm just -- go ahead and tell me the details that you can tell me what happened, what you saw, what happened?
CLOVER: Well, I had started -- we were all sleeping in tents. And suddenly, there are three loud explosions in succession right nearby. What we're used to is having surface-to-surface missile or you know, scud alerts where sirens go off. We all grab our gas masks and helmets and flap jackets and jump into bunkers outside the tent perimeter. So that's what we did.
And -- but the anomaly was that there were no sirens this time. There was just the explosions. And we weren't sure what they were. We assumed they were missile hits or something like that. After a few minutes, it became clear that the people inside the -- there were people inside the tent perimeter that knew something that we didn't. We were outside in the bunkers. And we were being told to come back into the tent perimeter. And they were, obviously, searching for an attacker inside the perimeter or just outside.
So suddenly, everybody's, you know, potentially a target. A bit of confusion. The soldiers acted very professionally. The -- you know, quick we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this situation. The training kicked in. Even though it later turned out a number of their commanders had been wounded in the attack. What had happened was somebody had thrown three grenades into -- one grenade each into three tents, where some of the commanding officers were sleeping. The -- at least (UNINTELLIGIBLE) exploded. 13 soldiers has fragmentation injuries. Two of them had also been shot. So there was some small arms fire as well.
Later on, I witnessed an American soldier being detained and questioned. It was later confirmed that he was indeed a suspect and in the attack. And you know, the theory, you know, I mean I can't really say too much about it.
BROWN: All right.
CLOVER: But you know, the main theory is that he was the perpetrator, or among the perpetrators.
BROWN: Do they -- all right...
CLOVER: There are search patrols still fanning out across the camp to sort of to try and find out if there were anybody else involved.
BROWN: OK. And I'm going to ask questions, and I know you may nor may not be able to answer them. And if you can't, say so and we'll move on quickly. Did they suspect there is more than one perpetrator?
CLOVER: I can't really say that. Sorry.
BROWN: OK. OK, that's fine. I get it. We'll -- in any case, they are trying to sort that out. And they are looking for -- all calm there now?
CLOVER: All is calm here now. I mean, the soldiers are obviously -- you know, everybody here knows that one of their own was detained in this.
BROWN: What was the reaction of that?
CLOVER: You know, that he's a suspect.
BROWN: What was the reaction to that?
CLOVER: I would say shock, complete disbelief, you know, someone's just wandering around it's crazy, it's crazy. You know, it's insane.
BROWN: As you've been -- do you...
CLOVER: You know, I can't really believe this.
BROWN: You've been up there for a while. Did you see any -- has it been a particularly tense -- I mean, the whole situation is tense obviously. Was there anything that seemed out of sorts up there, out of the ordinary up there? CLOVER: I wouldn't say so. I wouldn't say that -- I mean, these guys are all professionals. I mean, they're, you know, they're obviously a bit antsy about getting involved in the war, but most of them really, you know...
CLOVER: ...want to do it. And they're here to -- and you know, I would say the only source of sort of nervousness and anxiety is when are we going to get there, because you know at the moment, the front is very far away and we're still in Kuwait. And you know, that was really the only -- I would say that there's a lot of tension...
CLOVER: ...except for just sort of, you know, your usual everyday give and take between the officers and the NCOs and the enlisted men about, you know, where is this piece of equipment and stuff like that.
CLOVER: You know. That is the only sort of attention I witnessed.
BROWN: OK, Charles, as you can both develop and release more information, we'll talk to you again. Thank you for your good work. Charles Clover is with "The Financial Times," is one of the embedded correspondents. And I'm sure he never imagined that the first filing that he was going to do on all of this would involve an incident where an American soldier is the suspect in an incident where 13 other Americans are hospitalized; two with gunshot injuries. The others with fragment injuries from hand grenades.
Jamie McIntyre's at the Pentagon. Retired General Wes Clark is with me in Atlanta. And let me bring you both in.
Jamie, there are two incidents on the table. And I don't -- we might as well start with the one we were talking about just now, the Camp Pennsylvania incident. Can you add anything to that at all?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I mean, there's a word for what happened here. It's called fragging, which is to attack or assault a fellow solider with a fragmentary device or a grenade. It was something that, you know, we use to hear about happening back in the Vietnam War when disgruntled soldiers were seeking retribution against their commanders.
I mean, that's clearly what's happened here. Now the question is what is the motivation? Is it in fact a disgruntled soldier who's unhappy about the way he was treated? Is there a political motive? Is there a terrorist motive? You know, it's obviously a shocking development, and not something that is very common in today's military, where almost -- you know, where all of the people serving there are volunteers. So you know, we could only speculate about it. I can just tell you that they don't really even have them many details back here at the Pentagon. One of the phenomenon we're seeing is that it takes several hours for this information to work its way back through the chain of command. And since we have access to sources of information that are almost instantaneous, we're hearing things from the embedded reporters long before anybody here at the Pentagon knows whether they're true or accurate.
BROWN: I think it is fair to say, just as we listen to Charley tell the story that there is more known right now than he's able to report, given the rules of the game, that he can report now that reporting, as he said, will probably be released in short order, but they're trying to assemble as much information as they can.
I don't want to leave this yet, Jamie, and move on to the other, but I do want to bring General Clark in.
You know, it's hard to know -- almost know what the question is to ask you, except to say, first of all, your reaction to it? You must be...
WESLEY CLARK, GEN. (RET.), FMR. NATO SUPREME CMDR.: Well, shock.
CLARK: Anger, concern. Concern first for the people who had been injured. Secondly, for the combat status, ready status of the brigade. It sounds like they went after the brigade commander's tent or the battalion commander's tent or something. So before that brigade can move, got to sort out who's in charge and what happened and so forth. So it definitely throws a crimp in it.
I'd like to know why the chain of command -- if this is true, why didn't we know this guy was on a short fuse?
BROWN: Yes, yes.
CLARK: What was it about the -- you know, there are a lot of questions that people will ask. But right now, the major thing is settle this down. Get the unit back on an even keel. If you have to put in replacement officers for the -- those who'd been injured, do so. Let them get grip on the unit before you take it out to war.
BROWN: And general, good to have you with us again tonight. It's a tough way to say hello.
Jamie, back to you. The other incident, the one that Karl Penhaul was reporting on, do you have anything more on that?
MCINTYRE: Not really, Aaron.
MCINTYRE: At this point, it's -- you know, what the main focus here at the Pentagon is what's going on with the war. And what is going on essentially is that the U.S. and British forces are slowly, methodically on the ground, chipping away at the Iraqi opposition, and making their way on what is clearly looking like it might be the climax of this campaign in Baghdad.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): In three days, lead elements of the U.S. and British invasion force have crossed the Euphrates River and pushed more than 150 miles into Iraq, about halfway to Baghdad. But Turkey's refusal to host U.S. troops has left a key military objective unmet: opening a northern front. That means the vital Kirkuk oil fields north of Baghdad remain unsecured and vulnerable to sabotage.
Pentagon sources say it will be days before the SHOCK AND AWE air campaign can neutralize Iraq's air defenses to the point that U.S. troops can be flown in. Meanwhile, the ships with equipment down for Turkey have been ordered to Kuwait. In the south, the U.S. strategy is to speed the events on Baghdad by capturing as few Iraqi prisoners as possible and avoiding taking major cities, including Basra.
STAN MCCHRYSTAL, MAJ. GEN., JOINT STAFF OPERATIONS VICE DIR.: In cases where we can bypass or isolate and continue the operation forward, and hope then that that element or that location falls without pitched combat, I think that's in everyone's best interest.
MCINTYRE: Images from the battlefield show the U.S. military is basically having its way with Iraq's poorly equipped and demoralized frontline forces. Even so, at some southern cities, such as Anasaria (ph) and Basra, U.S. forces have encountered Iraqi troops who are fighting and inflicting casualties before giving up. U.S. commanders believe those are Iraqi forces may include Republican Guard elements designed to stiffen their will.
But aside from nine oil well fires set in the Ramailah oil fields before the ground war began, so far, U.S. troops have encountered no nightmare tactics, including no chemical or biological weapons.
TOMMY FRANKS, GEN., U.S. CENTRAL COMMANDER: There will be surprises, but we have not yet seen them.
MCINTYRE: The psychological campaign appears to be paying off. This satellite photograph released by the U.S. Central Command shows what appears to be 700 Iraqi troops lined up in the desert, just as U.S. leaflets instructed them to do if they wanted to surrender.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leaders from several regular Army divisions surrendered to coalition forces. And their units abandoned their equipment and returned to their homes, just as the coalition had instructed.
MCINTYRE: More details have been provided on how the war unfolded with U.S. and British special forces taking down Iraqi military outposts and seizing key oil terminals where weapons and explosives were found. This photograph shows an Iraqi ship that was discovered attempting to lay mines in the northern Persian Gulf.
While here, a U.S AC-130 gunship sinks an Iraqi patrol boat with a devastating blast of cannon fire.
MCINTYRE: And Aaron, just to put this in perspective, the U.S. forces on the ground have moved farther than any single movement in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And they've done it in a quarter of the time. And I want to add just one thing about that Patriot missile intercept. You know, in 1991, the Patriot missile was seen as a big hero of that Gulf War. But in fact, after the war, we discovered that it was really ineffective against scuds. But a lot research has gone into that. A lot of improvements in this so-called PAC 3 version of the Patriot, which uses hit to kill technology actually does seem to work. And that might have made the difference in this incident, Aaron?
BROWN: Jamie, thank you. I think the other day, somebody in Kuwait, I think it was somebody said in the Kuwait case they were four for four with Patriots they'd knocked -- they'd jump four up there or four blasts of them. I think they go up in pairs, don't they? And...
MCINTYRE: One thing you should...
BROWN: Yes, and they knocked four missiles out.
MCINTYRE: Yes, well, one thing we should be careful of, they gave us the same sort of statistics last time. And they turned out not to be accurate. Now there's a lot more evidence this time that these really were. So we'll have to review the evidence afterwards, but it does appear that they do have an effective anti missile defense on the ground this time, which they didn't have last time.
BROWN: Jamie, thanks very much. Jamie McIntyre has got the watch again tonight at the Pentagon for a while. It was a point today where I flipped on the TV set. And as you take a look at Baghdad on a Sunday morning there, and I saw that our colleague, Nic Robertson, had gotten out of Iraq and had made his way across the border. And we'd be lying if we said we didn't -- we care about our guys. They're our friends and our colleagues.
Nic's with us now to talk about his journey out. Nic was expelled, along with the whole CNN team. CNN is the world's television network. It's what they watch in Iraq. And they don't necessarily like what they see, Nic. We thought you did pretty good work.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Apparently not good enough or too bad, one of the two anyway. Whatever it was, Aaron, Iraq's minister of information told us we -- he was closing our office and we were going to have to leave.
It was interesting coming out of the city today, you know, we got a chance to look around. Our government minder, who's always at our elbow, whenever we're out there, was in a different car. So we were able to take a better look at the city. We were able to see all the Ba'ath Party activists who were out on the streets loitering, sort of menacingly really with machines guns, Kalashnikovs on street corners, manning barricades and small sort of trenches.
Now some of these guys were young men, perhaps 16, 17 years old. Some of them much older. They didn't really look like a fighting force, more a sort of home guard. Not the sort of thing -- not the sort of force you'd put out on the streets if you had the United States Army headed towards your front door, but that's the force that we saw out around Baghdad, more of a home guard.
Now as we left the city, the main checkpoint coming into the city, you would think it perhaps be heavily fortified. Just one guard on each side of the road. That a surprise. And as we left Baghdad and headed west to Jordan there, fewer and fewer military installations along the way.
The real impression we got, Aaron, was that Baghdad is the place that Iraq wants to defend. That's where we saw the majority of the military capability that we saw this particular day -- Aaron?
BROWN: Nic, I know you're not crazy about talking about yourself here, but let me ask you a couple questions. Were they threatening at all to you when they told you it's time to get out?
ROBERTSON: It was very clear that we had to go. When we were -- we went back to the Ministry of Information to see the information minister, to petition him personally. And we were literally shouted out by his deputy, the director at the press center who said we were worse than the American administration and screamed at us at the top of his voice in the press center so everyone could hear, "Get out of Iraq, get out of Iraq now!"
It was getting on towards nightfall, and it was just too dangerous to drive up what used to be known as "scud alley" at night. So we decided to stay. And he told us that if we did stay, we'd be staying illegally. Now a number of his deputies did take a much kinder position, although they couldn't go against him. They just sort of gave us a nod and a wink that if you stay, you'll be OK.
It is clear, Aaron, at this time, that there's real pressure on some of those senior Ba'ath Party officials, the people who will be -- who will perhaps be among those who, if they're still around when coalition forces arrive in Baghdad, may well find themselves being rounded up, and may very well feel themselves under threat from Iraqis, who will be angry with the Ba'ath Party -- Aaron?
BROWN: A couple more, Nic. Was there any -- was it a specific thing you filed or was it something about the coverage generally that seemed to have them so upset?
ROBERTSON: It wasn't any specific thing. If one looks back at CNN's track record in Iraq, we have had an office there going back to the last Gulf War. We're the only Western news organization that's done that. Yet in the last few months, we've found that a number of correspondents have been banned from coming to Baghdad. Richard Roth from the U.N., chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, our own Wolf Blitzer. And then they banned our own Baghdad bureau chief, Jane Arraf. So it's been a progressive situation. Other news organizations have been able to have greater numbers of representatives. We've been restricted to four international staff. They've just really given us a very hard time.
What it appears, and what we've seen in the last few days, Iraqi officials have had to come out and for their own domestic audience, try and explain away images that have been appearing on CNN, images such as Iraqi soldiers surrendering, images such as Bradley fighting vehicles plowing through the Iraqi desert headed towards Baghdad. They have got a lot of pressure on them at this time.
So while they came to us with a number of issues that they said pointed to our lack of professionalism, really, these were just -- these were fabricated, unfounded motions that when discussed with our other colleagues, they just laugh at it, Aaron. It's clear there's a huge amount of pressure on them. It's exceptionally disappointing for our team. We've worked tremendously hard to be there. We think it's hugely important to be in Baghdad at this critical time. And we will all reflect on this for a while.
BROWN: There's -- I don't think we've shown it yet, but there's a shot of you and your group, as you come across the border. And there's someone there to meet you. And there's a big hug exchanged. I know you're frustrated that you're not back in Baghdad. I know you well enough. But it must have been nice just to be safe?
ROBERTSON: It's always a great feeling, Aaron, to feel that you're safe. But if you give into that, then it kind of gets comfortable, and maybe you don't want to go back. And I would like to go back. And I will only do it when I feel it's as safe we've been up until now.
I don't think that there was any threat on our -- on our lives, if you will. I think the biggest threat was that if we overstate our welcome anymore, we could have well ended up in jail. And I don't think that's the right place to be at this time in an unpredictable situation, somewhere that may well turn out to be a coalition target.
So this is not the time to go pushing Iraqi officials and pushing the regime. The intelligence services play a much greater role with journalists at this time. The -- there are divisions appearing within these services at this time as the junior members think perhaps they can get a better future if they're nice to the journalists, where more the older hands, if you will, had taken a much more hardline attitude and will do perhaps much more -- take much more extreme measures. It is a precarious situation.
BROWN: Just about 30 seconds or so left, Nic. What are you going to do tonight?
ROBERTSON: Well, it's already the morning. And I think I've spent my night working yet again. I think I've been up over 24 hours, had half an hour's sleep last night, and 24 hours yesterday. I guess I'm going to sleep today, Aaron. BROWN: I hope you do. At the risk of being self indulgent on behalf of myself and all of your colleagues here and around the world, you did spectacular work until they threw you out. Tireless and smart. And we are all very proud of you and very glad that you're safe in Jordan tonight. Nic, thank you very much.;
Nic Robertson. Go get some sleep.
ROBERTSON: Thank you, Aaron, and thank the team. It was a great team.
BROWN: Thank you, sir.
Nic, who many of you know covered the war in Afghanistan, and went in -- actually it was one of the journalistic heroes of the -- of here at CNN and the first Gulf War, smuggling in a satellite dish that allowed us to broadcast out of these -- done good work. We're proud of him.
We're -- we've gone about a half an hour here. Those of you who have joined us, we'll catch you up on where the day has gone. Excuse me. And then we'll continue on. Heidi Collins has that duty -- Heidi?
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Aaron. Checking the latest developments now, U.S. Central Command says a U.S. soldier has been detained and is being questioned after a grenade and small arms attack at a camp for the Army's 101st Airborne Division. 13 people were wounded in the attack. Six of them seriously.
More explosions could be heard in Baghdad tonight, as coalition bombs and missiles hit the Iraqi capitol. Earlier in the day, new video from Abu Dhabi Television gave the world a closer look at the damage done by previous coalition strikes. U.S. precision guided bombs helped to inflict fresh damage on Baghdad and illuminate the skies over the capitol city. Several hundred of the big bombs were dropped in yet another display of SHOCK AND AWE by coalition aircraft.
A fiery show of defiance by angry Iraqi civilians. Iraqi TV showed a group setting ablaze U.S. leaflets dropped across Iraq by U.S. aircraft. The leaflets urge Iraqi military to surrender and encourage civilians to stay home.
Americans against the strike on Iraq continue to vent their anger in cities across the country. In New York, police scuffled with protestors after some of them refused to clear the area. A much different scene though in Clarksville, Tennessee, where more than 500 people turned out to show their support for U.S. troops. The 101st Airborne is based at nearby Fort Campbell.
In Paris, police estimate about 90,000 people took part in an anti war demonstration there today. Some of them rallied outside a McDonald's, citing it as a symbol of American influence. And a similar protest took place south of the U.S. border. This demonstration staged in Mexico City. Those are the headlines making news at this hour. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. Now back to our coverage of Strike on Iraq with Aaron Brown -- Aaron?
BROWN: Thank you, Heidi, very much. It's Sunday morning in Baghdad now. About 6:30 in the morning. Excuse me. In the Iraqi capital, you see the sun coming up. There, the night was relatively quiet. And one of the questions we'll try and sort out tonight is why that might be, but certainly the country itself has not been quiet. A short time ago, there were air raid sirens in Mosul, which is to the north. I suspect many of you are becoming familiar with the map of Iraq, far more familiar than you were a few days ago.
Brent Sadler is in the north of the country. And he's been reporting on the complex activities up there, which really have several storylines running through them. Brent, it's good to see you today.
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Aaron, yes, indeed. Over night, more airstrikes against Mosul, where we just had confirmation there's an air raid warning siren and all clear has gone within the past half hour or so. Overnight, more aircraft -- anti aircraft fire could be seen from a distance and flashes around Mosul.
We do understand from Kurdish sources on the ground here that the kind of targets the coalition have been hitting now for three consecutive nights have been command and control targets, also leadership targets. For example, in Mosul, one of Saddam Hussein's palaces was targeted within the past 24 hours. Kirkuk air base, that could be very important for U.S. troops once a northern front gets underway. And that's still expected. And also, military barracks and military intelligence headquarters of the Iraqi establishment.
But no sign at all still, as we watch here the northern front, still quiet that there's any significant changes at all in the troop concentrations along about a 500 mile front line, separates the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein's control from the Kurds who control the territory I'm speaking to you from. And three Iraqi army cause are in control of the other side of those hills. As I say, 120,000 men. They have not very good equipment. They do have tanks, heavy artillery, rocket launchers according...
SADLER: ...to Kurdish military sources. And they're still holding firm -- Aaron?
BROWN: Brent, just hang on a for second, OK? I want to come back in a second, but we're getting in now, and I mean that literally they are coming in literally as we speak here, and we're trying to get them in the system, pictures from I guess this would be the Camp Pennsylvania attack, incident. General, maybe you'll give me a better word at some point. These are -- appear to be videophone pictures. And you can see the debris strewn around everywhere, as you have probably heard or if you destroy this, I'll tell you now, that's a first quick shot of what it looked like. An American soldier, one American soldier is now in custody. And as far as we know, that soldier is suspected -- there may be others, but we only know of one, excuse me, of firing at officers and throwing three grenades that there are 13 wounded. They have been taken to a medical center and they're being treated. Six of those injuries are considered serious. Again, two were shot. The others suffered injuries when the hand grenades went off. This is reminiscent, general, of a fragging incident in your first war, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) war probably gone on in every war.
These are the first pictures we've seen. If we can drop the banner for a second, I don't know if we can do that, because there's some stuff underneath there that I'd like to see. Thank you, guys very much.
General, as you look at it, because you always see these things a little differently than I, what do you see?
CLARK: Well, it looks to me like somebody dragged a lot of stuff out of the tents afterwards and searched to try to get the people out. And looks like there was just a lot of haste in sort of getting things out. Maybe some of it was blown out by the grenade blast. But it looks like some -- yes, there's a piece that's got damage there. That looks like a -- I can't quite tell what it is. It may be some kind of a khaki sprayed (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or something.
BROWN: Again, these are the first pictures coming out of there. And we are seeing them literally. They have just come in. We're seeing it for the first time. And so, we just kind of work our way through them together. See anything else?
CLARK: Well, you don't see the tent shredded. And you would think if the grenade had gone off inside the tent, you would've seen fragmentary holes in the canvas of the tent, which is -- strikes me as odd.
BROWN: Right, I guess I -- we don't know, I guess, if that was the tent or if that is the area, if you will. That maybe we don't have a specific shot of the tent or I assume these tents are pretty good, but I also assume that a grenade, if it goes off, is going to put a hole in something.
CLARK: These tents aren't Kevlar.
CLARK: I mean, the grenade is going to knock a hole in it. I just -- just looking at it there...
BROWN: We're going to put it up again.
CLARK: It's clear that something's come out of it. I mean, that's not the way the troops live normally in the field with all that stuff thrown over there. So if somebody's either searched the tents and ripped through there, or whatever. Looks like there's probably a guy guarding it there, to make sure that it's being treated as evidence. So there's somebody standing guard there to make sure none of it gets moved.
BROWN: This camp, Camp Pennsylvania, is a part of a series of camps that are sitting out in the Kuwait desert. We were there a month ago and in fact, flew over the area. There is -- there's Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New Jersey and New York. They are all named after cities or states, states I guess, that experienced serious losses on 9/11. And it was the way the military chose to honor the victims of 9/11. Someone once asked me why New Jersey, because many of the people who died in the World Trade Center attack lived just across the river in New Jersey.
And as you can see, they are just plucked out there in the middle of the desert, as we flew around them. I'm not sure which one is Pennsylvania in these -- that we go by. Go ahead.
CLARK: But what's interesting here, Aaron, is if you look at the picture now, what you're seeing is these burhams have been pushed up around.
CLARK: And there are positions there to secure the burham on the edges. These are big areas. To go out and get the command tent suggests somebody who knew where the command tent was, but they all pretty much look alike. And you're in the middle of nowhere. So there was a report, first report said Iraqi special forces.
BROWN: Right, I -- you know...
CLARK: Sounded implausible, but...
BROWN: Well, and I -- it did to me, too. The first reporting is always tricky. And there was a -- there's a -- kind of impulse reporting. Your first instinct is that somehow someone penetrated the perimeter -- some bad guy penetrated the perimeter. And so, when we heard about an hour and a half ago that it was an American in custody, and we're sitting right here, and we heard it on the air, I think my head literally jerked back because maybe while it should have occurred to me, and perhaps it had occurred to you, I don't know. It had not occurred to me.
You jotted down a note earlier, wondering if this group had been in Afghanistan. Why was that...
CLARK: You wonder what the level of tension is in the group. And sometimes, you just have somebody might reach a breaking point in terms of stress. I mean, I've been in units and not in wartime, where you get delayed battle stress. In some case, we've seen a guy 15 years after Vietnam, senior NCO just lose it in the unit. And who knows why. It's some combination of personal factors and -- that have impacted with what's happened in combat. And they just lose it.
And we don't know what this is, but I was asking is this a unit that's been under unusual stress.
BROWN: There is a fair amount of reporting that's been done on this. And some of it, because of the embedding rules, has not been released yet, but we know at least two reporters, Jim Lacey at "Time" magazine who actually helped carry some of the wounded out, some of the injured out, and Charles Clover, of "The Financial Times" were both in the area. And they are joining reporting. So it won't be long before we know more of the details we suspect. But these are the first pictures that have come out of there. And this is the area.
It's up in the desert. It is -- it seemed like an hour, at least, once you got off the main road before -- and then you just drive through the desert, through nothing, really. Miles and miles and miles. And then you get to this complex of bases. There's actually quite a bit of distance between them. And those are the burhams that -- and you can see the fencing, too, that there's those two burhams. And then the fencing in between them that form the perimeter out there as a security zone, and then the -- there's a tremendous, it was tremendous -- not so much anymore, it's been moved out. There's a tremendous amount of weaponry.
You see Patriot batteries there. There were tanks, truck, the whole nine yards, if you will, that were loaded up there waiting for the war to start. And now some of that -- a lot of that because we know the 101st, some of the 101st has already moved across. So it doesn't look quite the same as it did then, but those are major bases up in the northern most part of Iraq, not far from -- or Kuwait, rather, not far from the border. And coincidentally or not, not far from this enormous junkyard where all of the debris of the first Gulf War, all of the Iraqi tanks and trucks and everything that was destroyed at the very -- abandoned and ultimately destroyed at the end of the first Gulf War is part in an area that's not far from there as well.
Anyway, these are the first pictures from Camp Pennsylvania, which experienced -- no matter how you slice this and dice this, it's a tragedy when this happens.
CLARK: It is a tragedy. And we -- you know, hope it's not true, hope it didn't happen. Hope this kid that was detained didn't do it.
BROWN: It's crazy -- yes, I think you're absolutely right. I mean, it's now somehow oddly more comfortable to think that somehow there was either a security lapse of some sort. There were a lot of Kuwaiti contract workers who came in and did some of the work in the camp, did some of the food service work. When we were up there, trucks were coming in and out. IDs were checked, but it's hard to imagine that intense security checks, excuse me, were made on everyone who came in.
I mean, all of a sudden, I mean at first I'm sure and I remember when we were talking about this earlier, the families in Fort Campbell, Kentucky where the 101st is based, were upset that somebody could somehow have penetrated the perimeter. And now, you almost find yourself hoping that it was somebody who penetrated the perimeter.
CLARK: That's right.
BROWN: Rather than one of their own guys. CLARK: Well, there's nothing worse than a betrayal. And this comes across as a betrayal if it was done by someone on the inside. And so, it will have to be digested by the unit. It's going to take leadership down there to get the unit to focus on its mission and to work through this process.
BROWN: I want to talk more about that tonight, too. Actually, it's interesting way to look at it. These pictures -- when these pictures came in, we were in the middle of a conversation with Brent Sadler, who is up in Northern Iraq.
Brent, why don't you just quickly take us to where you had us before, and then go ahead and finish up, OK?
SADLER: OK, Aaron. Yes, as I was saying, the lines behind me still staffing 120,000 Iraqi troops in three corp, stretching across about a 500 mile front line. Kurdish special forces, working with American special forces on the ground here, to try and find out what it would take to get defections, surrenders from some of the officer corps elements that command that -- those three corps, that 120,000 Iraqi troops on the other side of the hills behind me.
Now also, the other issue here, many, many loose ends to this story is the issue of Turkish troops in Northern Iraq. There were reports that 24 hours ago, that Turkish troops had crossed into the border, in addition to the troops, the Turks have had here for the past five or six years in anti terror operations that are along the border.
Well, last night, Turkey's ambassador to the United States said that there had been no extra troops crossing into Northern Iraq, and that lined up with what the Kurds were telling me on the ground here.
Now in addition to all that, my sources here tell me that the United States war planning had now got so exacerbated with the Turkish situation, as we all know, Aaron, for weeks there have been problems about getting ground bases, delays over parliamentary votes, air space conditions and so on and so forth.
Well, it seems now that there's a plan to put special forces, several hundred staging through Jordan, flying about two hours from Jordan across the Western Iraqi desert into Northern Iraq, as an advance of possibly elements of the 101st. Yes, go...
BROWN: Brent, I'm sorry -- I'm -- somehow you go the short straw today, but I'm going to interrupt you again. I think we've got -- do we have other pictures? Is that what it is, David? OK, we think we're going to get some pictures now of -- or very quickly at last of the suspect, the young American suspect in this incident at Camp Pennsylvania, where the 13, we ought not forget that, you've got 13 American soldiers. And presumably, given where the attack took place, this is -- these are senior officers. And here they have this young man sitting covered and guarded. We don't know his name yet. And interestingly, lots of pictures are coming out, and not a whole lot of information is coming out. Go back and reloop it if you can again and we can get one more look. There's not a whole lot to see, but you can see him being guarded. What must he be thinking? Or what must he have been thinking? I guess both questions apply. We don't know his name. We don't know his background. And we don't know why, if in fact he did what it is believed what he did, why he did it.
But those are the pictures as they come in. And again, we are seeing these for the first time with you now. It's just an unsettling thing, general. I mean, there's so -- you know, what -- OK. There's just -- there's so much at stake for so many people. And then to have this sort of thing happen, it's just so sad.
CLARK: It is unsettling. But you know, our leaders have to be able to deal with things like this. These things do happen like this. And you hope it never would happen like this. But you're dealing with human beings. And human beings have points at which they snap and they break and they have problems. They have personal problems.
And really, you know, as long as you've had armies, you've had people who have had to deal with the different personalities and the stresses and strains of the individuals that serve under them. Somebody's the leader of that soldier.
CLARK: We don't know what his rank is.
CLARK: Presumably, he's in a squad. And there's a squad leader who -- he counsels and talks to him and knows his family and (UNINTELLIGIBLE.)
BROWN: You know, if -- I don't -- you were suggesting earlier it seemed to me that somebody, his squad leader, his sergeant, his lieutenant, his captain, his somebody, should have picked up the signs.
CLARK: You would think so. But you know, every case has to be looked at individually, someone's going to have to go back and unwrap this one and figure out why we didn't pick up the signs.
BROWN: And if that...
CLARK: Assuming that he did it.
BROWN: Right, that again, and it's an assumption. And again, the -- if you're the general or the senior officer in that position, that's one of the things you have to go through. It's not just the evidence against the individual and why he did it. It's whether -- it's why the system of managing these people, and you've got hundreds and thousands of people and their armed to the teeth because they're going to war, why the signs weren't picked up.
CLARK: Well, that's right. And the reason I use the word "betrayal," which is a very strong word is, is people are armed.
CLARK: And we trust our soldiers. They're with us. They're part of our team. We know them intimately. And give out weapons and ammunition. They clean those weapons. Aaron, we don't take the firing pins out of the weapons. We're not locking ammunition out to somewhere else. This is serious stuff. We're getting ready to go into combat.
So -- but you know, Aaron, it comes back to the two things about the military. It's the mission and the man or women in this case. But we've got to be able to do the mission. The commander of the division, Dave Catreas (ph) is going to be focused on the mission. He's going to want a handle this in the context of the overall responsibility. He's not going to stand down the position from its mission. You have to take a certain part of it and pull it off to work best, but there's a mission here to be done.
BROWN: But as we think about the 13 people who are in the hospital, and we don't precisely how badly they have been hurt, and there is a mission that has to go forward, the other thing he said that just jumped out at me is that one of the things now that the leaders, whoever the leaders are, because this was an attack on the leadership of this group, whoever the leaders are have to, in a sense, put the pieces back together. They've got a very riled up, angry flustered, all of the imaginable things. And they have to calm them down and get them focused, right?
CLARK: That's exactly right. Now of course, we don't know who the leaders are so -- and that's a huge difference, whether it's the squad leader he went after, or the platoon leader...
CLARK: ...or the brigade commander here. And you know, the response from the division and the effect on the mission's going to be different, depending upon on what level the tension was expressed between them.
BROWN: Just one more question on this and we'll move on. And I ask you this question about 10 times a night and all sorts of different things. Had this incident now made its way to Qatar and Central Command? Do they know?
CLARK: Oh, of course. Absolutely.
CLARK: They knew the incident we knew because they're all watching our network.
BROWN: OK. OK, so they know because they watch television? But I mean, has there been a sort of official chain of command information flow...
BROWN: ...that has gone to Doha, to Qatar...
CLARK: This is a serious incident. It would go up on a serious incident report instantly.
BROWN: And so someone had to knock on General Frank's door and say one more thing you need to think about?
CLARK: Yes. And in this case, they would do that. Absolutely.
BROWN: And you think of all the things that have to be managed at all levels of this thing, and then this. This is -- the pictures you're looking at now are the pictures of the camp, Camp Pennsylvania. The first pictures to come out of there. There are obviously a couple of the embedded correspondents there and camera crews there and videophones there. And you just see -- well we don't know what tent this took place in, but again, the facts of it are -- apparently the facts of it are that someone walked into the tent, fired off some shots. Two of the 13 were hit by gunfire. And then two or three grenades, we've heard both, the last report we had was three grenades were also thrown in there.
And two of the men are injured -- have taken gunshot injuries. The rest were injured by the fragments of the grenade. They have all been moved to a medical unit. We have a correspondent on the way, we believe, to the medical unit, by the way. And so, we'll be getting more information on the condition of those people. That always -- us to be and is to be -- our -- and is our first concern is to update you on the condition of the people who were hurt.
The 101st is based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. David Mattingly has been at Fort Campbell. And when we last talked to him a little bit ago, this was a very different story with a very different lead on it. David, do they know now what we have been reporting. And they must be. They're watching television, right?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Aaron. They're very much aware of what's going on. Now the families I talked to tonight are actually having difficulty finding the words and describing exactly how they feel now about this. The wives -- some of the wives that I spoke to on the telephone began breaking down at times in tears, as I talked to them on the phone. And they are trained to prepare for any number of bad things that can happen to their husbands in wartime, but something like this is just inconceivable for the 101st Airborne, a unit that is so glorified, and a unit that has such a rich history, and is so -- known to be so professional. Something like this very, very hard to take.
And there are signs tonight that the folks here at Fort Campbell are closing rank somewhat. We were asking to speak to some wives. We approached them to speak to us tonight. They were advised not to speak to us. We know this is difficult time. And we respect that.
We were also asking to attend church services tomorrow. That has been denied to us, saying that it was inappropriate at this time. A base spokesman says it has been very traumatic to families here and a blow to morale at Fort Campbell. Now all of this coming on a day when morale was so high for some families here. A rally was held not far from here, earlier today. People turning out by the hundreds, waving flags and signs in support of soldiers.
The first brigade that was affected is just one of three that makes up the 101st Airborne, but tonight, everyone at Fort Campbell now sharing in that shock. A base spokesman says to us to expect a news conference early tomorrow afternoon outside the base here. Hopefully, we will learn a little bit more about the investigation and what the findings are into what exactly happened at Camp Pennsylvania -- Aaron?
BROWN: David, nice job. David Mattingly at Fort Campbell. Nicely done.
And again, we understand the sensitivity there. And we gently ask these questions. We gently ask for permission to these things. And they say yes or no. And if they say no, we say thank you very much and move on.
It's just -- it's a tough way to -- there was a moment last night, general, when we have put together a husband and a wife on the telephone. And it was just happy and joyful moment. Looking at the pictures of the parade reminded me of that and how quickly, when you're talking about war and all of this, how quickly things can turn. And so you go from this great, looked like a lovely Saturday afternoon down in Kentucky, and all of a sudden, it's a very different thing.
CLARK: War has tremendous ups and downs.
CLARK: And the key here is you've got to keep it steady. You've got to keep your emotions in check. You've got to be focused on the mission. You've got to take care of the troops to do the mission. And Tommy Franks -- he has ex O that probably got called immediately when this happened.
BROWN : Executive officer.
CLARK: Executive officer, who then went through the calculations. Do I wake him up? This is the middle of the night.
CLARK: Do I wake him up? Does he need to know this? He's going to say, who were the people who...
CLARK: ...can I tell them this later? What's he going to do when he gets it? Let's pass it back up to the Department of the Army. It's an Army issue. They're responsible, really, for the maintenance and morale and so forth of the force. Ranks may have -- may or not have been awakened, but somebody in the chain of command took care of it for him.
BROWN: All right, we'll come back to that. As we get more information, we'll get more information relatively soon, I think, because now the pictures are coming out. And certainly, the information will come out fairly quickly. And we'll pick that up. Somebody here said to us today that they -- a friend of theirs said that they watch now. They keep a map of the rack in front of them. And I get that everybody's getting a geography lesson about this country.
Umm Qasr is a city that you've heard a lot about. It's the only deep water port. It was a very key place for the coalition troops to take for a number of reasons, not the least of which is if you control the port, then you can bring all sorts of humanitarian aid in. Well today, after a somewhat more complicated effort than people imagined at first, the city fell to the coalition.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour reported the story.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A helicopter flies over the port of Umm Qasr, reveals the area is relatively quiet. And down below, British soldiers do some war tourism, looking at of those giant billboards of Saddam Hussein. Taking Umm Qasr was a joint operation. The 15th U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit was under the command of the British Royal Marines Commando Brigade.
Now U.S. Marines rest at the port after more than a day on the move. Some, like 21 year old Corporal Jeremy Archer, had feared the worst.
JEREMY ARCHER, U.S. MARINES: I expected a big war, I guess, but they're all given up. So it was easier than I thought.
AMANPOUR, not all are giving up, though. About three kilometers away from the main port, there are pockets of resistance. The commander of the U.S. Marine Unit sent up Cobra helicopters and fired artillery to destroy the Iraqi fire.
THOMAS WALDHAUSER, CMDR., 15th MARINE EXPED.: They did resist, but once it appeared that they would have to deal with some overwhelming fire power, they would -- they have a tendency then to give up.
AMANPOUR: The British commander says the resistance is isolated.
JAMES DUTTON, BRIG. GEN., ROYAL MARINES: It hasn't been a particularly cohesive fighting force. It's been 80, 30 gun firing a few rounds prior to its destruction or a group of individuals firing.
AMANPOUR (on camera): It took longer than expected to secure Umm Qasr. And the military says it still mopping up small pockets of resistance in the town. Nonetheless, the military says it plans to bring in the first elements of humanitarian aid perhaps within 48 hours.
(voice-over): Umm Qasr is Iraq's main commercial port. It lies at the mouth of the Shatalarab (ph) waterway, which flows into the Persian Gulf. This was an important strategic target for allied forces, and will be the main port of entry for relief and other humanitarian goods.
Just yesterday, Iraqi ministers vowed that Umm Qasr would never fall, but hundreds of soldiers have given themselves up. And now, they are POWs under U.S. and British control.
Christiane Amanpour, CNN, at the port of Umm Qasr in Southern Iraq.
BROWN: CNN's Jason Bellini is embedded with the Marine unit. And he was also involved in the effort, or he was involved in covering the effort. Let's not mistake anybody's roles here. We'll talk to Jason in a moment.
First, Heidi Collins updates the headlines of what has turned into a busy and very complicated day in this war with Iraq -- Heidi?
COLLLINS: Thanks, Aaron. I'm Heidi Collins at CNN Center in Atlanta. And here is what's happening at this hour in the strike on Iraq. An American soldier is being detained in connection with an attack on the 101st Airborne Division. The Pentagon says six out of 13 casualties in the attack are serious injuries. Someone tossed grenades into tents at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait and opened up with small arms fire.
Inside Iraq, U.S. forces are now halfway to Baghdad. And the closer they get, the more resistance they will find. Marine exchanged fire earlier as they ran into Iraqis outside Basra.
Pentagon officials now say the H-2 Airfield in Western Iraq is the only airfield under U.S. control there. Earlier reports had two airfields in U.S. hands. But what the Pentagon will not say is how the troops got there.
Iraqi officials report more than 200 casualties in Baghdad today. They say that's the aftermath of more than 24 hours of intermittent bombing by the U.S. and Britain. And while the presidential statues at bombed out government palaces remain intact, it is not clear whether the same can be said for the man himself. The SHOCK AND AWE bombing also reportedly knocked out some power lines in the capitol overnight. A live picture there at Baghdad.
There are fatalities in Northern Iraq. The region is outside government control. The Pentagon says it was targeting a terrorist camp with ties to al Qaeda. Those are the headlines making news at this hour. You're watching CNN, your most trusted source for news.
Now back to our coverage of Strike on Iraq and Aaron Brown -- Aaron. BROWN: Heidi, thanks very much. See you in about 30 minutes. And we'll go through the drill again. And who knows what we'll be talking about then. This thing has been moving.
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