CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Strike on Iraq: Destruction of Iraqi War Machine Continues
Aired March 22, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The destruction of Saddam Hussein war machine continues on the ground and from the air.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting live tonight from Kuwait City.
Not far away from here at a U.S. military base in the northern part of Kuwait there was a grenade attack against soldiers from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. Ten U.S. soldiers have been injured, six of them, we're told, seriously. Two men were seen running away after grenades were lobbed into two tents.
A serious development here that we're following, a development that is causing great concern among U.S. military personnel. Let's get the latest now from Richard Blystone, CNN's Richard Blystone. He's standing by here in Kuwait. He has some more information -- Richard.
RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf what I have to tell you is not much of an advanced, it is even a retreat on what you have already had from the Pentagon and from Karl Penhaul. But I can tell you this, a statement has just been released the military spokesman here.
He says, 13 were wounded in these attacks at Camp Pennsylvania tonight. And all of them have been evacuated to a field hospital. That's about all there is on that. The attack was carried out, he says with small arms and grenades. And there are really not further details, other that the area has been secured. They have rapid reaction teams there and the incident is being investigated.
Meanwhile, at Camp New York, Karl Penhaul is giving you further (ph) details, all we could get from a military source here is that it is suspected that detonation that was heard there was caused by the interception of a missile by a Patriot, missile-to-missile defense system.
Here at the Hilton Hotel on the southern fringe of Kuwait City, there was an explosion about three hours ago. That was caused by, a Kuwaiti soldier told us, security people found a suspected package, blew it up and found out that it was satellite receiver -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So, basically, what you're saying, Richard, you're aware the military has a headquarters just outside Kuwait City, where they deal with the journalists and they provide briefings for the journalist. What you are suggesting is that the incident at the Hilton Hotel was just a false alarm?
BLYSTONE: That's what it seems to be. That is in the hands of the Kuwaiti military. And a Kuwaiti soldier told me what the object blown up turned out to be, yes.
BLITZER: All right. Richard, stand by. Aaron Brown is also with us.
Aaron, a false alarm at the Hilton Hotel outside Kuwait City, but no false alarm at these bases where there was an interception of a missile coming in, we just heard a few moments ago and earlier, a grenade attack against U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne -- Aaron.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Richard, if you're still with us, Richard Blystone, I know you've been working really hard to get information here. Was the public information officer able to tell you anything about the condition of the now 13 people who were hurt?
BLYSTONE: No, Aaron. The statement issued, officially, was very, very terse. And the response to questions, the officer concerned said he could not give any further details other than that the injured had been evacuated to a field hospital, which he would not even name. Although, everybody thinks it is Camp Ariff (ph), south of Kuwait City.
BROWN: All right, Richard. Thank you.
This has become the major development of the afternoon, that somehow Camp Pennsylvania was just one of a number of bases up there, there's the New York, there's New Jersey, there's Virginia, there's Pennsylvania. They were named in honor of so many of the victims, victims who came from those states in the 9/11 attacks. And so when the army picked those names for bases they were trying to honor the victims of 9/11 in doing so.
Over at the Pentagon, Jamie McIntyre has been trying to work through this strain of the story, this grenade and small arms fire attack and other elements of the campaign that has unfolded today -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, one thing I can tell you is that this so-called "shock and awe" campaign, that opened yesterday, is scheduled to continue for another two or three days, according to Pentagon officials.
We can expect to continue to see bombs falling across Iraq. But even while the skies are lit up with brilliant munitions, some of the real dirty, the real important work is happening on the ground.
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 half way 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 defenses to the point that U.S. troops can be flown in. Meanwhile, the ships with equipment, bound for Turkey, have been ordered to Kuwait. In the south the U.S. strategy is to speed the advance on Baghdad by capturing as few Iraqi prisoners as possible, and avoiding taking major cities, including Basra.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In cases where we can by pass or isolate and continue the operation forward and hope then that element or that location falls without pitched combat, I think that is in everyone's best interest.
MCINTYRE: Images from the U.S. battlefield show the U.S. military is basically having its way with Iraq's poorly equipped and demoralized front line forces. Even so, in some southern cities, such as Anasiriya (ph) and Basra, U.S. forces have encountered Iraqi troops are who are fighting and inflicting casualties before giving up.
U.S. commanders believe those Iraqi forces may include Republican Guard elements designed to stiffen their will. But aside from nine oil well fires set in the Ramallah oil fields before the ground war began, so far U.S. troops have encountered no nightmare tactics. Including no chemical or biological weapons.
GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, 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.
FRANKS: Leaders from several regular army divisions surrendered to coalition forces and they're 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 and 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: The Pentagon says that U.S. troops have already moved farther in southern Iraq than the largest maneuver of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and they've done it in about a quarter of the time.
As for when the troops will get to Baghdad, that depends on a lot of factors, not the least of which is how much fight the Iraqi military has left in -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jamie, one question that begs to be answered, or asked at least -- we'll see if we can answer it -- is why we did not see today the kind of air attack on Baghdad that we saw yesterday?
MCINTYRE: Well, I don't know the exact answer, but from the picture we're getting, it appears that they are still trying to hit a lot of targets outside of Baghdad.
And the thing they're stressing to us is that when we're looking at those pictures of Baghdad live, we're only seeing a very small portion of what was actually happening. Same thing when we see the pictures from our imbedded reporters. And that if we could see the whole picture we could see a lot more going on.
One of the things I mentioned was they need to take down all of the elements of the Iraqi air defenses before they can fly those troops from the south up to the north. A big lumbering transport plane would be a very inviting target for even the unskilled anti-aircraft gunner, or perhaps a guided missile to take down. That could result in a lot of casualties. So, the impact of that Turkish decision, not to allow the troops in, again, it is that whole northern front is going to take several more days before they can open it up.
BROWN: OK, Jamie. Jamie McIntyre, who has been working around the clock at the Pentagon.
There is nothing about war that is pleasant or fun, or any of that. And truly the hardest part for us is, I think, knowing there are casualties and reporting there are casualties. We know now of this incident up at Camp Pennsylvania, 13 people wounded, when somehow, someone, an intruder penetrated the 101st Airborne camp in Kuwait, Camp Pennsylvania.
We are still doing reporting on the degree to which they are hurt. They've been taken to a field hospital and are being treated. Our thoughts are with them.
Today the Pentagon confirmed that seven Americans have died now since the war began. Two of them are Marines who were killed on combat. Four of them were Marines who died when their helicopter crashed near the Iraq-Kuwaiti border. The most recent American death was a U.S. navy captain who was on board one of the British helicopters, this was a terrible accident that happened just over the Persian Gulf in a collision, last night it was.
Five of those Marines that died were based at Camp Pendleton in California. And the streets near the base were lined with yellow ribbons today. A lot of apprehension that -- about who it might be and there is always apprehension at military bases and that continues. And it is going on at Camp Pendleton in California and Fort Campbell in Kentucky. We've heard some of that reaction from a wife a little earlier whose husband is with the 101st Airborne.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a soldier you want to hear about this stuff and you want to know. And sometimes you hope that you might get a glimpse of him. You know, when they say 101st I always come running into the room to see if he's on there, to see if he's OK.
BROWN: These military families go through a lot of stress, Wolf, as you know. You have covered military matters for a good long time.
BLITZER: A lot of stress indeed.
And business aboard a U.S. aircraft carriers is among the most stressful. That business goes on around the clock with little or no rest. CNN's Frank Buckley is embedded on board the USS Constellation, where pilots say the missions they've flown are leaving the indelible impressions of war. He filed this report.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just hours after the first strikes went into Iraq from the USS Constellation, on the flight deck of this aircraft carrier munitions were once again being wheeled across the deck, taken toward some of the aircraft being loaded up.
We're talking about some of the laser-guided weapons, the GPS satellite guided weapons, these precise weapons that people have been talking about, that were used in the first strikes against Iraq. Now some of that may be used once again in further strikes.
Immediately after the first-strike packages when into Iraq and returned to the USS Constellation, we were able to talk with some of the naval aviators about their impressions of flying over and into the Baghdad area. Here's what they had to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came in an immediately could see the T- land (ph) impacting the downtown Baghdad and just continuous, constant explosion going off all over the place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing that is real world like that, that can get you ready for it. And to know that they're down there really shooting at you and to be able to see it. It is pretty staggering.
BUCKLEY: In addition to the aircraft launched attacks into Iraq, there were Tomahawk launches as well. These are the cruise missiles that came from ships and submarines. Rear Admiral Barry Costello (ph) the Constellation battle group commander telling us that all of the U.S. navy warships that were capable of launching Tomahawks, that some 30-plus ships and submarines, all of them launched Tomahawks.
I'm Frank Buckley, CNN, aboard the USS Constellation, in the Persian Gulf.
BLITZER: And please be sure to tune in tomorrow for a special "Late Edition" I'll be joined by the Defense Secretary of the United States Donald Rumsfeld. That's at Noon Eastern, tomorrow.
There is, of course, a very different viewpoint coming out of what's happening in Iraq from the Iraqi government. In a minute, how the story is being told on Iraqi television. Stay tuned and see if you recognize any of it.
And later, remember the most wanted man in the world? We'll ask a specialist, what's become of Osama bin Laden?
BLITZER: You would think with the tremendous amount of bombs and firepower hitting Iraq life would be anything but normal. But that's not the message you'd get if you're watching Iraq television. CNN's Tim Lister has been channel surfing in Baghdad and that is were the news is not exactly new.
TIM LISTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's 8 a.m. Baghdad time and despite the effects on the city of operation "shock and awe" Iraq's main television news starts as scheduled. No continuous news coverage here.
Behind the presenter, an image of Baghdad's Arch of Victory. Not surprisingly the bulletin focuses on official condemnation of the American-led assault. Much of it coming from the man who has emerged as the main spokesman for the government, Information Minister Mohammed Al-Sahaf (ph).
Reports, too, about the those said to have been injured in the missile and bomb barrage. And on how Iraqis are trying to carry on with their lives despite the war, shopping of essentials in brief escapes from their homes.
This civilian says we can go without water for a day, but not without air.
Iraq's main TV station also repeatedly broadcasts pictures of Friday's anti-war protest in Cairo, with the commentary that the Arab world is united in solidarity with Iraq. A later update shows Saddam Hussein meeting his younger son, Kusai (ph), and military commanders. The TV station says the pictures were taken Saturday, but there is no way to confirm that.
And this news from the front, with a claim that Iraqi forces brought down 21 cruise missiles and destroyed and American tank. Iraqi forces continue to fight everywhere, says the presenter, who makes no mention of the defenders casualties, the capture of Iraq's deep water port, of the surrenders.
Most of the time Iraqi TV broadcasts patriotic songs and themes depicting Iraq's military prowess. Many of them dating back to the Iraq/Iraq war.
There is also repeated homage to Saddam Hussein. He waves to adoring crowds or watches over his military machine. Images in stark contrast to the new reality in Baghdad.
For now at least, Iraqi television continues to be the faithful mouthpiece of the government. Its recurring theme: Iraq is Saddam, and Saddam is Iraq.
Tim Lister, CNN.
BLITZER: Four CNN journalists are now safe in Jordan. They were expelled from Baghdad by Iraqi officials. Our correspondent Nic Robertson was among the group that had been reporting from Baghdad these many months. He and Rym Brahimi gave us their first-hand accounts of the damage they witnessed as they left the country.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll start our pick up with Baghdad, coming out of Baghdad, we saw collateral damage, windows blown out in shops near the presidential area that was very heavily damaged today.
And as we came out on the streets of Baghdad a lot of Baath Party officials, that's the ruling party in Iraq, armed on street corners. Groups of twos, threes, and fours, in small trenches, bunkers in many, many places across the city, as we headed toward the edge of the city.
Let me hand over to Rym to follow up with it more.
RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well I'll take it from when we left the edge of the city. It seemed, it looked quite normal for awhile, though very quiet as you can imagine. I have to say that just as we left we had the last all-clear siren. There had been another series of bombings in the morning just before we left.
When we arrived on the highway, basically, to Jordan, the first little -- how would you call it, Nic? The place where you, the first little place where truck drivers stop?
ROBERTSON: Gas station.
BRAHIMI: Was it a gas station?
ROBERTSON: I think, yes.
BRAHIMI: Oh, it was only a gas station, OK.
Well, that first gas station had been hit. And then on the road to Jordan, this was about 100 kilometers, a little more maybe, before arriving at the border with Jordan. We did see one huge whole in the street, in the road, on the highway at one point. And then another lesser bit that was damaged a little further down.
BLITZER: And Aaron, I think all of us are breathing a little bit easier knowing that these four CNN colleagues of ours are now out of Iraq. They are safe and sound.
But even as we get that good news, we know that other journalists covering this war are not doing that well.
One Australian photographer, a cameraman, was killed in northern Iraq. And three journalists from the British television news network, ITN, are missing in southern Iraq, underscoring that this is a very, very dangerous war for all of us to be covering -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well, I can tell you that we have all, here in Atlanta, looked many times at that picture of Nic and Rym and their guys getting out of that car and getting hugged.
You know, no one forced Nic and Rym and the crew to stay there. In fact, we put a lot of pressure on them to come out. But that hug honestly, without making too big a deal about our people -- believe me there were plenty of people in Atlanta and all over the world who work here for us, who were very glad to see them cross that border safely. That's a tough and dangerous road they traveled.
Welcome back, you guys.
Pentagon, by the way -- we had been talking about this a little bit earlier, Jamie McIntyre was at the Pentagon, says Turkey is deploying a massive number of troops on its side of the border. But Turkey wants to put its troops into northern Iraq. As you know, if you've been following this, that is home to the large Kurdish population.
Turkey has a large Kurdish population of its own. It is concerned that when Iraqi Kurds are freed from Saddam's dictatorship, they'll declare an independent state and there are ramifications of that. And here they are: That such a move could incite the Kurds on the Turkish side of the border to do the same thing.
Turkey says the border buildup, from the government's point of view, is a precautionary measure. Turkish military officials say they plan to stop any Iraqi troops from entering their country.
Northern Iraq is home to a major oil refinery in the city of Mosul. You've heard that name a lot over the last few days. It is also where bombs have been falling tonight. Targets in the last 24 hours have included one of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein' palaces.
Fredricka Whitefield is in Turkish part of the country, back to that strain of the story, and she has been tracking developments from there. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No sights, no sounds, no reports of U.S. military over flights through Turkish airspace, even though the Turkish government reemphasizes that the "structure" is in place.
The Turkish government says the air space is open for U.S. military operations on its northern front in Iraq.
The other issue that continues to have Turkish and American government officials still talking is the Turkish troop plans to cross Iraqi border. According to the Turkish ambassador, contrary to earlier reports of 1,000 to 1,500 Turkish troops crossing the border, he says that Turkish troops have only gathered the border anticipating what could be a Kurdish refugee crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The explicit purpose would be to avert a humanitarian crisis that is fast emerging there. And this on the basis of our past experience with the Gulf War, we want to make sure that the Iraqi refugees are taken care of inside Iraqi territory.
WHITFIELD: But the United States' General Tommy Franks says U.S. special forces working with the Kurds have actually seen Turkish troops inside the Iraqi border.
FRANKS: I believe that the Turkish formations that we see in northern Iraq, are very light formations. We see them move in and out of Turkey. There is continuing discussion, I know, at the political level to decide exactly how much of that, when is acceptable and so forth. And I guess, I would say that that is sort of above my pay grade.
Obviously, we have consultations. We have contact. I have one of my general officers in Turkey working with the Turks and have had him there for some time. And so, we're able to maintain coordination and I believe the necessary cooperation with the Turkish government, up to this point.
WHITFIELD: We wanted to see for ourselves the gathering of the Turkish troops at the border. We got as far as about four miles away from that border before being turned away by guards, unable to see the troops or their tanks.
Fredricka Whitfield, CNN, Cizre, Turkey.
BROWN: Another note, here, the State Department, as you know, has asked various nations, most nations around the world to expel the Iraqi diplomatic corps, shut down Iraqi embassies in their countries, at least for the time being. A few countries are agreeing to do that; others are not. United States, Australia, both -- need I say, obviously Australia has troops in the region. They did expel the Iraqi diplomats. So did Romania. But France, Russia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, are saying publicly that they will not. There is a couple of concerns here. One is that they there may be intelligence operatives within those embassies. That's hardly unusual. It is also a way to say that the government in Iraq is no longer the legitimate government and therefore the diplomats in those embassies are no longer the legitimate representatives of a government -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Aaron.
As the world watched events unfold in Iraq early Thursday morning, about 1,000 U.S. soldiers launched a full-scale operation in southeast Afghanistan targeting the suspected al Qaeda and Taliban leadership. A U.S. official told CNN Osama bin Laden was not necessarily the immediate target of "Operation Valiant Strike" but bin Laden still the most wanted man in the world. Our terrorism analyst Peter Bergen is joining us now, live from Washington.
Peter, as you know Osama bin Laden promised in that last audiotape that he released, that once U.S. war against Iraq started, the world would hear from al Qaeda. Can he still deliver on that threat?
PETER BERGEN, AUTHOR, "HOLY WAR INC.": Well, certainly talking to people who are familiar with al Qaeda's thinking, they are planning a spectacular attack tied to the American war in Iraq. However, clearly so far that attack hasn't happened. And it may not happen at all.
In which case, it is clear that the organization has been seriously disrupted by events like the recent arrest Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the group's military commander.
Obviously, the war has got some time and al Qaeda may still strike, but I think what we're seeing, actually, right now is smaller al Qaeda-like terrorist attacks that may not be directly linked to the organization itself. For instance, this grenade attack in Kuwait on the 101st Division may well be just, you know, people who are al Qaeda sympathizers, but not al Qaeda itself.
BLITZER: The sort of ad-hoc or loosely affiliated or just supporters of al Qaeda. I assume that could be a considerable threat out there, especially some of those pictures that we're seeing of U.S. bombs destroying large sections of Baghdad, that could generate further support for al Qaeda.
BERGEN: Well, certainly that's the case. I mean, a lot of people in the Muslim world regard the war in Iraq as a war against Islam itself. And that's what bin Laden aims to capitalize on and aim to capitalize on the recent statement that you referred to. But also the attack on the Australian journalists in northern Iraq, who was killed in the attack, we still don't know much about that, but it is probably the work of Ansar Al-Islam (ph).
BLITZER: All right, Peter. Hold on one second. I just want to go to Baghdad and show our viewers these live pictures we're getting in, we're beginning to hear not only sirens but shots being fired in Baghdad. Once again, a familiar scene. Let's listen in briefly and see what we can detect.
BROWN: We can vaguely hear the sirens. We could hear some explosions. Probably anti-aircraft going up. We didn't see much tracer. This is a night scope shot, for those who are not familiar, that's why it's green, into the night scope. Still about an hour and a half before daylight.
BLITZER: You could hear that explosion.
BROWN: That'll wake you -- yes, that will wake you up.
BLITZER: And I think, Aaron, we should point out to our viewers, these cameras that we have around Baghdad are fixed. They're in fixed positions and they're just looking out, these explosions could be occurring out of sight, obviously from these cameras.
BROWN: But what we don't see, yet, we don't see a lot of -- from these two locations -- we may have one other we could throw up at some point, but we don't see yet in the sky lots of tracer at this point, any anti-aircraft fire going up. But we certainly, a moment ago, 15 seconds ago, heard a loud explosion and some shots being fired, and the sirens going off. Coming up on 4:30 on a Sunday morning in Baghdad.
BLITZER: It is also interesting, Aaron, you could barely hear it, but I could definitely hear the Arabic call to prayer in Baghdad.
BLITZER: Even as this explosion, even as this thud developed. And if you're listening behind me here in Kuwait City, the call to prayer has just begun as well.
BROWN: So, there's a -- and we'll listen to this -- but there is a kind of mix of audio here, you can hear in Wolf's mic, the call to prayer in Kuwait City.
BROWN: Another explosion. It is an odd mixture of sounds, the wailing sirens and the call to prayer, and the explosions going off, some shots being fired.
BLITZER: We had been bracing for this continued air campaign to unfold over Baghdad. U.S. officials, military personnel saying the "shock and awe" was only just beginning another day or two of intensive bombing campaigns. Not only in the Iraqi capital but throughout the much of Iraq, including Republican Guard positions, anti-aircraft positions, as well as locations where the U.S. suspects the Iraqis may still be concealing weapons of mass destruction.
BROWN: Don't know if that's what this is. May turn out to be that. It may be a false signal that the Iraqis, some false pulsing in the Iraqi radar system that they've picked up that is causing -- but we've heard now three fairly significant explosions.
Even as -- through these two shots that we have, the night scope shot on the left and the just standard shot on the right, we don't see much going on.
Wolf, it was just, I don't know, 10 minutes ago or so in the program, that we saw these clips from Iraqi television of people going about their normal business, going to the grocery, picking up some eggs and some food. This is what they're living under, this constant anxiety, they know it is coming. They don't know when it's coming.
BLITZER: Especially today, Aaron, because normally, over these years the air strikes occur at night. But earlier today, at daylight, there was a significant U.S. air strike. That must have certainly unnerved those 5 million people in Baghdad. Because those were the hours, the daylight hours, when they did go out, do their shopping, try to get some essential chores done. And then they would go back to their homes and many of them would go to their shelters, bracing for this kind of assault at night.
BROWN: Just a little bit unclear, now, exactly what is playing out, early morning, Sunday morning in Baghdad. If we can, please, let's keep and eye on that as we try to at the same time to update the other major strain of the story in the last few hours, which was this grenade and small arms attack in. Intruders at Camp Pennsylvania, one of the American camps, the 101st Airborne, up at Camp Pennsylvania.
Charles Clover is with the "Financial Times", he's embedded in that unit. And we have him -- I assume, guys -- he's on the phone.
Charles, have you been able to figure out much?
CHARLES CLOVER, "FINANCIAL TIMES", KUWAIT: Yes, they've taken the -- they have detained a U.S. soldier in connection with the attack. And he's being questioned now.
BROWN: I'm sorry...
CLOVER: We're being asked not to report many of -- they've detained a U.S. soldier.
BROWN: A U.S. soldier?
CLOVER: Yes, a U.S. soldier. That's all that we can release right now. But he was detained shortly after the attack. There have been a number of suspects that have been detained and questioned. The -- one of the suspects is a U.S. soldier, who was, who is being questioned right now. Again, there is not much that we can release about that.
CLOVER: Although, we know a little more.
BROWN: All right, let me ask you -
CLOVER: And -
BROWN: I'm sorry, let me ask you this, just this is one of those awkward situations where I know you know some things, that you can't report. And I don't want to walk you into a corner.
BROWN: We are talking about a single individual, is that correct?
CLOVER: As far as I know, yes.
CLOVER: They're search patrols fanning out across the camp, but at the moment all that we can report is that there is a single individual that is being questioned in connection with this.
BROWN: It does, I will tell you, take your breath away, under the circumstances. Can you tell us anything about the condition of the 13 people who were hurt in this attack? Or whatever it was?
CLOVER: (AUDIO GAP)
BROWN: Go ahead.
CLOVER: Can you hear me?
CLOVER: Two of them were shot. The rest have fragmentation wounds. And I think all of them had fragmentation wounds. Several, I don't think all 13, but several of them were evacuated earlier tonight. And are being treated. We've had it reported that four of them have been seriously injured.
BROWN: And just one more question, if I may, before I let you go is it still your understanding that this incident took place in a headquarters tent, where officers were --
BROWN: That's still your understanding?
CLOVER: Yes, it was an attack targeting the leadership of the First Brigade of the 101st. There were three loud explosions in succession, grenades being thrown into the tents. And then there was small arms fire, after that there was a lot of confusion in the first initial minutes. People took shelter in the bunkers thinking they were under missile attack. And then it turned out that actually the attacker was inside the camp.
BROWN: Was it --
CLOVER: So, there was a lot of confusion.
BROWN: Charles, was it.
CLOVER: But the soldiers took --
BROWN: I'm sorry. We --
CLOVER: But the soldiers took control of the situation very, very quickly. And that was done very, very professionally.
BROWN: There is this, the problem here is that sometimes it is the satellite delay.
Was it chaotic? Was there, I don't want to use the word "panic". Was it just chaotic there, while this was going on?
CLOVER: In the first minute or two it was -- there was a lot of confusion. Because nobody knew -- people were used to having missile alerts, where we'd go to bunkers and sirens would go off and we'd take cover from what we thought were missile attacks. We heard the explosions, we didn't hear any sirens initially. Everybody ran to the bunkers thinking we were under a missile attack.
And then gradually it became clear that that there was something else going on. But the soldiers took control of the situation quite efficiently and brought order. And everybody, again, we're being asked not to release operational details, so ...
I know, Wolf, you want to jump in here, just let me underscore what is, at this moment, the lead to this terrible incident at Camp Pennsylvania.
Charles Clover is reporting that an American soldier is being questioned in connection with this incident where grenades and small arms fire were directed at command, a command tent. A place where officers of the 101st were sleeping or at work.
Wolf, it takes your breath away, doesn't it?
BLITZER: It certainly does. It certainly does.
And Charles, if you can't answer this question, don't answer it. I'll just ask the question.
Is the suspicion that this American soldier may have been responsible for this grenade and small arms attack? Or that this soldier may have done something to facilitate it, whether directly or indirectly?
CLOVER: I'm going to have to pass on that one, I think. We're being asked to be very careful with what we say. So, you know, until he's questioned and until they release the information officially, I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass on that one. Sorry. BROWN: OK. No, I mean, we're trying to do some real-time reporting and you're under the most difficult of circumstances and we appreciate all of that.
Again, we have 13 people who have been hurt, two by small arms fire, others by grenade fragments. As Charles reported, one soldier, American soldier is being questioned. And as Wolf, correctly and smartly, in this case, points out. There is some question about whether that is direct involvement or somehow facilitated it, or was derelict in some way.
There's lots of possibilities. But in any case, given how we thought of it, Wolf and Charles, from this end. It is quite a different lead on the story to report here.
BLITZER: It's a story that is going to sort out in the next hours I'm sure. We're going to get a lot more information. We'll just have to be patient and wait for that information. We did hear from Jim Lacey (ph) earlier, from "Time" magazine, the embedded "Time" magazine reporter who was only 20 yards away. He did report to us that two individuals were seen running away from that tent.
We have obviously no other information. Let's just be patient and get all the latest, as it becomes available. The bottom line, though, is that 13 U.S. soldiers, we believe, have been injured. Several of them seriously, they've been taken away to field hospitals.
Let's go on to another important part of this story, even as Baghdad once again, apparently, comes under fire. Three loud explosions heard in the last few minutes, amid the morning call to prayer in this part of the world.
Let's go to CNN's Brent Sadler. He's in northern Iraq. He's watching the situation up there, where there have been continuous air strikes against Mosul and Kirkuk, two major towns up in the north.
Brent, what are you seeing and what are you hearing?
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Wolf.
At the moment you can see pretty quiet behind me. Mosul about 30 miles from my position here. But this was the third night of consecutive attacks against those two key cities, still under the control of Saddam Hussein, Kirkuk and Mosul. We know they're both very important cities not least because of the oil wealth they sit on.
Now, we've got some video taken a few hours ago of the flashes of anti-aircraft fire that went up during the Mosul attack, the most recent one. I do know that in the past 24 hours these coalition airstrikes have been aimed at the leadership targets and command and control. We know, for example, that Saddam Hussein's palace in Mosul was on the target list 24 hours ago.
And, indeed, where the headquarters of the military intelligence in both those northern cities, Kirkuk and Mosul. And indeed, within the past 24 hours coalition forces striking at the Kirkuk airfield. Inside that airfield, back in 1991, when it was for a short time under the control of the Kurds. It is a huge, huge airbase. With a lot of underground bunkers and ammunition stores. And for sure, I'm assuming there is a northern front building up here in the next week or more, then that air corps could be very important for coalition plans in terms of securing the northern part of the country.
As things stand now, Wolf, we have some loose ends flapping in the wind, if you like. No significant presence of U.S. forces on the ground here in northern Iraq. And a rejigging it seems of planning that would sidestep Turkey. And would see U.S. special forces, followed up by 101st Airborne Division forces, units from there. Coming from Jordan, flying over the western desert, couple of hours flight time, from there to an airport about two hours from here.
And in the coming days seeing a deployment of special forces and airborne to really tie up these loose ends, of this northern front -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brent, what can you tell us about that suicide bombing, that car bombing, that occurred up in the northern part of Iraq earlier?
SADLER: Yes, this was in Halabjah, now if I can just give you some geography here. Halabjah, is I guess about three hours from my position here. It is close to the Iranian border. Halabjah, of course, you recall was the scene of that devastating chemical attack 15 years ago, by Saddam Hussein. It is a well-known area.
It is also very well-known area for Islamic fundamentalist activity. We've heard a lot about a group called Amtha Al Islam (ph). This group mentioned as the conduit, if you like, by Secretary of State Colin Powell, between Iraq's intelligence service and the al Qaeda network itself.
Now, what we have is a very tragic incident of a taxi packed with explosives driving up to a checkpoint on the edge of Halabjah, possibly on the road leading up to positions, which overlook Al Amtha's area. And it was detonated, a suicide bombing. It killed an Australian journalist, Paul Moran, from the Australia Broadcasting Company, as well as three local guards.
Now, there had been concerns about journalists in this area for many, many weeks, given that it was great secret that Amtha (ph) had issue a veiled -- and unveiled -- threats about attacking primarily American targets, or at least targets that are involved with the coalition.
So, that's what you have developing there. And, of course, the safety issue is not only dangerous there, but elsewhere we're seeing what happened at Camp Pennsylvania, in northern Kuwait. We've seen what happened with that suicide bombing. There's been a series of suicide bombings in the Halabjah (ph) area against local Kurdish political party officials and others. So, it is a very, very dangerous area and it is likely to get more so -- Wolf..
BLITZER: And Brent, just to be precise, that journalist, the Australian journalist and his colleagues they were traveling on their own. They were not embedded with any U.S. or British military forces, is that right?
SADLER: That's absolutely correct, Wolf. There is no embedded there, nor where I am here. This whole northern area, because there has been no northern front established, as was originally envisioned in the U.S. war plans. You know all of the journalists here, maybe 200, 300, spread across a 500 mile front line, dividing 120,000 Iraqi troops from the Kurdish side of the area here, around the 35 parallel; 200, 300 journalists, none of us embedded covering obviously a developing situation here.
And at the Iranian border end of that frontline between the Iraqi force and the Kurds, this Amtha Al Islam (ph) pocket, possibly connected to this suicide bombing. But certainly a group of several hundred people that we do know that Kurdish forces, special forces on the ground here, are working very closely with U.S. special forces to possibly target again that Amtha Al Islam area with the possibility that Kurdish fighters may well take the fight to Amtha Al Islam, as this coalition air campaign part of the invasion continues -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brent Sadler, in northern Iraq, a journalist who knows this area well, was here in this part of the world during the first Gulf War, another reason why CNN is the most trusted name in news.
Brent, thanks very much.
The wave of anti-war protest is swelling across the globe. In London, a sea of thousands took to the streets to show their disdain for war, demanding that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in their words, bring our boys home.
Seven British airmen died today when their helicopters collided. Another eight were among the first casualties of this war.
Verbal venom poured out in the streets of Paris, where angry demonstrators there, chanted: Bush, murderer. And in the Middle East some 10,000 Palestinians marched through the streets of Gaza holding pictures of Saddam Hussein and pledging their undying support to the Iraqi leader -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well, it wasn't all overseas, the country in many ways is divided in the lots of different ways this country is. Thousands of people, both for and against the operation in Iraq, took to the streets on this Saturday in the United States.
Charleston, South Carolina, the South's flag-waving crowd gathered at the city's minor league baseball stadium there to cheer on American troops. One of their senators, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, declared it was the bottom of the ninth, to use his term, and time to shut out the other side.
The other side, in this case, was heard loud and clear as well. There were anti-war protests in Chicago. Pro and anti sides actually trying to yell and scream against one another. About 800 pro-troop rallies near the federal courthouse in Chicago, too. This has been going on now for three or four days in Chicago. Lines of barricades, Chicago police dressed in riot gear, kept the demonstrators apart there.
In New York, an overwhelming turn out. This, to our eye, at least, was the largest of the demonstrations we've seen so far. This was New York City. It started in Times Square, made its way all the way downtown. Demonstrators there making a point to say they support the troops but not the war.
There were a few scuffles with police about -- I think now, about 87 arrests is the correct number, around 80 arrests in any case.
Huge anti-war protests have been going on in San Francisco as well. There were over the last several days, literally thousands of arrests -- or more than a thousand, 1,024 arrests two days ago. A number, I think, 900 again yesterday. CNN's Rusty Dornin probably know precisely the numbers. She has been covering these demonstrations from San Francisco and Rusty joins us now.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, this is the third day of huge protest here in San Francisco. And there were more people really here at Civic Center today than the last three days. But only a handful of people were arrested.
It was a very peaceful demonstration over the last two days. The first day, 1600 were arrested Thursday, then 600 people yesterday.
During the march, after the first part of the rally, they believe, the organizers say there were about 50,000 people. The police will not give a number. They no longer give estimates on these marches, on these rallies. Some are estimating it was less than that. But certainly there were tens of thousands of people in the street here.
Now, there were several speeches kicking off the march where there was a lot of strong language against corporate media. They feel the embedded reporters are only the spokes people for the Pentagon.
And actually the tensest moments here, came when one of the speakers even asked people go ahead and confront media who were here. And there was a small scuffle between protesters and some of the local media here.
So, everything went off very well today, but the organizers are saying that once again, on Monday, when the business begin they will start more civil disobedience again on Monday -- Aaron.
BROWN: Rusty, thank you. Rusty Dornin.
It doesn't matter what the issue is, how serious, if someone sees a live TV camera and a reporter talking, they will mug to the camera.
Rusty, thank you.
It is just one of the - it is the truth of human nature. A weird one, but a truth. Clearly it is no secret that Americans who take part in these demonstrations, what they think about the war, but people who go out and demonstrate, you would say are the most passionate one way or another. But in the middle there is a large body of Americans who went about their business on this Saturday, who nevertheless, have opinions about American policy.
Bill Schneider's task for us, so very often, is to not only deal with politics but to deal with polls, to try and make sense of the number and put some meaning behind them.
That's a pretty big wind up to get you in. These are fascinating polls not so much for the top line but for what's underneath them.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, the top line we're seeing is that Americans are strongly in support of U.S. intervention in this war, as they would expected to be in the early stages because they believe it is the right thing to do to support the troops and the president.
But underneath it, "The New York Times" and CBS News reported today an interesting breakdown. They found out that this is very different from the first Gulf War under the first President Bush. As you can see, on the left, 1991, 94 percent of Republicans, predictably, supported the first President Bush and his handling of the Gulf War. But so did 81 percent of Democrats.
In this war, now, with the current President Bush, 93 percent of Republicans support him, but only 50 percent of Democrats say he's doing a good job handling this war. That they approve of the way he's doing this war. There are a lot of Democrats who have doubts, who have reservations.
There is a big partisan split. This is something we usually don't see. We didn't see this in the Vietnam War for years.
BROWN: Does it say to us that in some respects the election is still being contested, I don't mean the next one, I mean the last one. That this is a red state, blue state moment, yet again?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, it does. Because politics is driving this and I think there's a reason for that. An awful lot of Democrats believe that President Bush's war policy is politically driven. The reason is they don't feel as if there is an obvious reason why the United States is going into Iraq.
They don't accept the argument, that most Americans accept, that this is being driven by 9/11, the desire to prevent another 9/11. They don't see any ties between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. They don't believe that this is - they haven't seen the evidence yet of weapons of mass destruction and most of all they don't see the rest of the world in support of this.
So, a lot of Democrats say, this is a political calculation by President Bush. And that's why we're seeing the red state, blue state split. BROWN: We're in the field I think tonight and have been for a couple of days, we're in the field with a poll and will have results on that tomorrow, which means we'll probably sit next to each other again, which is perfectly fine with me.
SCHNEIDER: Look forward.
BROWN: Thank you, Bill Schneider.
Numbers, whether they're polling numbers or anything else, are a part of the story, of course, but ultimately war comes down to people who live and die. And we can't ignore that and don't. We'll take a break and when we come back we'll talk with the family, the parents of one of the Americans who has been lost in this in this campaign so far.
THOMAS AUBIN, FATHER OF CRASH VICTIM: He loved living. He loved the Marine Corps. He was a real good boy; he worked hard.
He was on the SS Ranger for three and a half years. He came out of the Marine Corps, went to college, got his master's degree, re- enlisted in the Marine Corps and served the rest of his time in the Marine Corps until just the other day when that accident came around.
BROWN: When did you last --
AUBIN: He was just.
BROWN: I'm sorry, when did you last talk to him.
AUBIN: Oh, it'll be three or four months ago, last summer he came, and he was able to spend four days with us. And he was just real tickled. He said he might have to go on vacation and we know where that was. He didn't say it exactly, but then he called and said well, I'm where there's no water, because we're from Maine. And we said there was no water where he was, so we knew where he was.
But he wasn't scared. He was doing his duty to free other people. And he was really just a genuine boy, an all-American boy. He loved life. He loved the Marine Corps. He just -- we had a lot of fun growing up together.
He loved to fly with us. We'd fly when he was two years old in an old J-3 Cub (ph). Yeah.
BROWN: I just think it is important for us to know now just his name, I think I called him Tom, not just to know his Jay's name, but to know something about who he is and the kind of young man he was. He had a family correct?
AUBIN: Yes, he did. He had a boy and a girl, eight and 10, Lishir (ph) and Nathan. His wife was an ex-Marine. And they just were one real happy family, a loving family. He thought the world of them.
He thinks the world of everybody around or he wouldn't have been over there trying to help the world get rid of -- make things better. He just was a fantastic boy.
BROWN: Well, it is I'm sure of no consolation to know that our hearts are with you. Your heart must be broken.
AUBIN: Yes, it is. It's broken. But he was trying to do good for other people and that is just the way the boy was. He thought of other people more so than the thought of himself. That's why he was where he was. He was -- he loved flying.
When he was a little boy he loved to fly and we'd fly all around, him and his other two brothers would fly and do roller coasters and do loops and spins. And they would laugh all the way through it. They just enjoyed it.
But his first love was the Marine Corps., once he graduated from high school. And he died doing what he wanted to do, protecting his country.
BROWN: Well, both of you, again, all of us here and I think all of the people, literally the millions of people watching, our hearts go out to you; our condolences to you. You are justifiably proud of your son, Jay.
Thank you for your time. This is a...
AUBIN: Could I say one more thing?
BROWN: Yes, sir. If you want to say one more thing, you certainly may.
AUBIN: I just wish all the protesters would stop protesting and get behind Bush, and let's make this a happy country, instead of all this negative.
BROWN: OK, sir, I understand your feelings and you are entitled to say it. Thank you, sir, very much.
That's a family that lost a son and that's a good thing to keep in mind.
"LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up next -- right about 9:00. We'll see you again at 10:00 Eastern Time.
We leave you with some of the images of -- well, we leave you with some images of Larry King, as it turns out.
We'll see you again at 10:00 Eastern Time.
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