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War in Iraq: Iraqi TV Targeted

Aired March 25, 2003 - 23:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Heidi, thank you very much.
Quick look at Baghdad this morning. It's 7:00 in the morning in Baghdad, and it is a mess in that city, and a bit of a mess on top of that, apparently, on the lens of that camera too, which seems to have lost focus or has got dust on it. The city there, it's a very windy day. There's smoke from the attack, which we now can confirm was on Iraqi TV.

Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, Jamie, let's bring you in quickly. Tell us what you know about the attack.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have now learned from the U.S. Central Command that, in fact, Iraqi television and is also a key telecommution -- communications facility, as well as Baghdad's, Baghdad's satellite communications, have all been targeted, both by Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles and by ordnance dropped from the air as well.

So a number of precision-guided munitions were used to take out a group of buildings that comprise something that makes up Iraqi television and also satellite communications as well. The stated purpose of this, according to the U.S. Central Command, is simply to take away command (UNINTELLIGIBLE) control capabilities from the regime.

And again, a senior administration official here in Washington tells CNN that it was always the plan not to take out the television from day one, that it served a purpose for a while. But under the war plan, there's a sequence of events that happens in a specific order to try to create the effect of undermining the regime. And in that sequence, today was the day that Iraqi television was scheduled to be taken out, Aaron.

BROWN: Jamie, thank you very much.

I wonder if we have Nic Robertson for one quick question. Nic, you -- we talked about the Iraqi TV complex. Again, as I recall, there's a school around that complex, there's a number of buildings, the information ministry. Do they have any other options to get their message out to the people of Iraq?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is possible by bringing up another transmitter somewhere else. I did see something interesting happening right at the ministry of information close to the television station in the few days before the war began. It appeared that Iraqi engineers were reconfiguring some of their outside broadcast trucks for the television station. They were fitting transmitting antennas to some of those vehicles, perhaps with the intention of having some mobile transmitters or having transmitters that they could move off and transmit the same signal but from somewhere else.

Obviously, without the studio capacity, and also these transmitters that I could see being built were not going to be huge, high-tower transmitters. There's no way that they could cover the whole city, only certain areas of it, Aaron.

So it does seem at this stage, if the signal stays down for the television station, that that primary facility is down, but of course we'll have to wait and see to see if Iraq has anything else that it can bring up and put on the air, Aaron.

BROWN: Stay with us. General, you weigh in too, as always. The attack was several hours ago. We saw in the night sky a -- one huge explosion. We don't actually think that explosion was the hit on Iraqi TV. It might have been based on where, where it hit, from where the camera was. But there's no question that Iraqi TV was hit, and in fact, we were monitoring Iraqi TV during this time, and saw it go off the air.

I don't know if we -- well, I guess we do. There was an official, a military official holding some sort of press conference or making some sort of statement. And then Iraqi TV went to black, as we say in the business. Came on and off a little bit, and as -- we are being told by reporters in the region now that it is off the air, it kind of intermittently came back and forth for a while, but now is dead.

Doesn't mean it'll stay dead, but it means it is -- that's what it is now. And you can see here, general, the aftermath of what those weapons did. Obviously it's somewhat -- it seems to me, at least, it's so much closer to us and our location than the attacks of not quite a week ago.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: Well, not only that, Aaron, but it's probable that this facility was more than a TV station. It's probable this had command and control underneath it, and briefing areas, and preparations for -- this is a whole public communications strategy center, probably.

It's probably redundant, so there's probably another set of mobile antennas that they will erect, and they'll probably try to get a weakened signal back out, at least once or twice.

BROWN: Nic, isn't there a Republican Guard building, or I think headquarters building, in that area also?

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. The say -- the road that runs past the television station had bunkers at either end, machine gun posts, armored personnel carriers in the gates of the television station. And within the compound of the television station, a large military barracks as well. The whole area extended over perhaps about a mile square.

Back in 1991, the first few days after the Gulf War started, I was in the television station. There is a bunker system there. I met the then-minister of information, Lati Jiaffin (ph), in that bunker system underneath the television station.

Difficult for me to assess how far and how extensive it was, but it certainly went down at least one level of step -- stairs down below ground level. It did seem like a very heavily constructed facility, but difficult to know what else there was beyond that.

But the television station itself was -- has always been, since the last Gulf War and even before, a very heavily defended location, and the security was really stepped up there in advance of this current campaign, Aaron.

BROWN: And Jamie -- Jamie. I'm sorry. Nic, on just one other quick thing on a different matter, we see that it's still windy there, and I see you're wearing gloves, so I gather it's pretty chilly this morning in the region as well.

ROBERTSON: It's been a very cold night. Through the day here in Jordan, or through yesterday, rather, there was heavy snow in the city of Amman. Out here at the border, it's been almost down to zero degrees, and that's 32 Fahrenheit, if you will, overnight, and it's perhaps getting a little warmer now.

But the wind really picking up. And we know not far behind me, perhaps about 70 or 80 miles behind me, U.S. special forces control H2 and H3 airfields just inside Iraq. And likely it has been an extremely cold night. They're exposed in the desert, and the winds really picking up again with the daylight, Aaron.

BROWN: And Nic, knowing you, I have a feeling you wish you were there too. Soon enough, my friend. Thank you. Nic Robertson, who's in Jordan, having been expelled from Baghdad by the Iraqi government.

We've been struck by the speed with which the American forces got from Kuwait to the outskirts of Baghdad, but also by the downside of doing so, as we saw the war plan play out, with the 3rd Infantry Division's charge through southern Iraq.

The task of actually holding territory has now fallen on the British and on the Marines in Umm Qasr, and in Basra, further up the Euphrates River as well, there is the city of Nasiriyah, and taking that has not been easy. At about this time last night, that battle was on.

CNN's Alessio Vinci is embedded with the Marines and spent a second day watching that fight unfold.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The battle in Nasiriyah between U.S. Marines and Iraqi military continued for a second straight night, and it was the most intense yet. Heavy machine gun fire, mortars, and helicopter gunships were all involved in the fight, as the U.S. military pushes north towards Baghdad.

The fight was so intense, and the front lines so fluid, that a U.S. Marine unit involved in the battle mistakenly took U.S. forces staged nearby as opposing forces.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I got one Marine shot.

VINCI: The Marine was lightly wounded in the shoulder, and immediately evacuated, as others frantically tried to identify themselves using chemical lights and special signs.

Later in the day, a nasty sandstorm and rain prevented forces on all sides from fighting, and allowed the U.S. military to deal with some civilian casualties.

Some of them have been flexicuffed, because U.S. military commanders believe they may be members of a paramilitary group to whom they attribute the stiff resistance against U.S. forces in Nasiriyah.

(on camera): U.S. military commanders here say among Iraqi forces on the other side of the front line are so-called Saddam's Fedayeen paramilitary group. They are a concern to U.S. forces here because one of the tactics of the Fedayeen is to mingle among civilians. And the U.S. Marines here say they want to avoid as much as possible killing civilians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The commanders have identified that certain civilian vehicles with certain markings and certain colors have been deemed as resupply vehicles, and that's the way these guys work, you know, they'll stage or cachet weapons and ammunition out here. So we've been authorized to engage certain civilian vehicles.

VINCI (voice-over): Marine commanders say the driver of this truck refused to stop and drove through a checkpoint at high speed, a violation of the current rules of engagement. So they shot at it. They say such vehicles may carry hidden weapons and perhaps even fertilizer, which could be used as an explosive.

For now, though, they have been too busy fighting to verify the contents.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, with the U.S. Marines in Nasiriyah, Iraq.


BROWN: One of the things we're going to try and do tonight is take these individual moments, this battle here or this firefight there, and put them in the larger puzzle for you as we go along. Michael Gordon of "The New York Times" will join us in a moment. General Clark obviously will help us with that.

But let me put one more puzzle piece on the table first. CNN's Jason Bellini has been out with the Marine 15th Expeditionary Unit. That unit has been doing yeomen's work cleaning up after the bigger Army infantry units moved on north. And now his unit too is on the move.


JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first in to the port of Umm Qasr are also the first out. The shadowy, civilian- clothed Iraqi fighters who played a game of shoot-and-go-hide with them seem to have lost.

So now they're sent deeper into Iraq to another objective, to another reported hot spot.

On the road, they witness a deteriorating country. Villagers wave at them as they pass by. Bombed-out Iraqi military hardware off the road, more detained Iraqis, perhaps civilian, perhaps not.

The omnipresent smiling face of Saddam Hussein greeting them upon their arrival.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. Can I get a visual on that? Over.

BELLINI: Their work begins right away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're taking gunfire from them!

BELLINI: Out in the distance, ununiformed Iraqi soldiers again fighting what the Marines consider an unfair fight, potshots from men in civilian clothing dispersed among the civilian population.

The response of choice is to use missiles, mortars, and bullets, virtually guaranteeing the obliteration of the opponent.

Shortly after opening their fire, an ambulance rolls up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch out for this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to be a trap.

BELLINI: It's too hard for them to see through their binoculars who's getting in, but the image is a reminder that their weapons have no conscience.

Presumed civilians, men, women, and children, wave a white flag to surrender. These are not the gunmen they're looking for. The cat- and-mouse game is not one Marines like to play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where the hell we going to bring these EPWs?

BELLINI: As hours drag on, frustration overtakes inhibition.

So Marines wait for the order to fire once again, knowing no matter how well they kill, in this situation, it's hard for any of them to be heroes.

Jason Bellini, CNN, with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in southern Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: Couple of the puzzle pieces tonight. Excuse me. Michael Gordon is the chief military writer for "The New York Times," and he's been joining us for the last couple of nights, much to our benefit. And he joins us again from Camp Doha tonight.

Michael, good to have you. What's your lead in the paper tomorrow?

MICHAEL GORDON, CHIEF MILITARY WRITER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" (on phone): Well, I think there are really two important things that are going on. I believe that the presence of these paramilitary forces or Fedayeen or whatever one wants to call them in the south really became such a disruptive factor, such a threat to supply lines, and so a mechanism for the regime to maintain control over the population that it just reached a point where the military had to focus more of its energy on this.

And so what's happened is, there's a shifting of emphasis in the land campaign toward this threat in the south and in the rear area. There've been a number of battles at Najav and Nasiriyah, captured (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and the British around Basra.

So I think there's much more activity in terms of the land war in the south now, and I think the Baghdad campaign is going to have to wait a little bit while the American and British forces take care of this problem in their rear area.

BROWN: I don't know if you heard Secretary Rumsfeld and Chairman Myers' briefing today. I read the transcript. But they were very dismissive of this stuff in the south. It's onesies and twosies, and it's just something you have to live with. You make it sound like it's more -- far more significant than that.

GORDON: Well, it is far more significant than that. I don't -- I didn't listen that carefully to the Pentagon briefing. But if that's what they said, I guess that's the difference between spin control and the reality on the battlefield. I mean, everybody, all the embeds, everyone who's out among the units and the military itself, believes that these forces were indeed a menace. And they were a threat to supply lines, to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bases.

And there was another important factor. What we really haven't seen in this war, we're just beginning to see it now, in Basra, was an uprising by the people in southern Iraq. And that's because they felt intimidated by these various paramilitary units that were inserted in their cities, because the allied strategy heretofore, up to now, really, has been to bypass these cities on the way to Baghdad.

So the Americans and British were not going into these cities. The paramilitary units were in these cities. Saddam Hussein was on the television asserting he was in control and winning the war. And these people were pretty much boxed in.

And I think what's changing now, and I think this is an extremely important development, is now the Americans and the British are signaling their intention to take the fight to these paramilitary units in the cities of the south. We're really looking at the prospect of urban warfare in Najaf, in Nasiriyah, which has actually been going on for a little bit, and Basra, so that these units are dislodged.

And at the same time, and I think this is related, there's been a cruise missile strike on Iraqi television, which has the effect of knocking Saddam Hussein off the air. And I think that's also important because that also disrupts his regime's effort to maintain control over this population in the south.

So I think these two twin developments are intended to help the American and British forces regain more control over this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) area, also help encourage a rebellion in the area by the Shi'ite population. And once that area is more secure, and the military feels better about moving their supply lines through it and operating in it, they'll be ready to return to the Baghdad fight in earnest.

BROWN: So I think it was last night I said, Do you have the feeling that we're coming up on a major moment? And you said, Well, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. I gather, then, that soon is out there somewhere but not in the next couple of days?

GORDON: Well, I don't know the timing of all this.

BROWN: I know.

GORDON: And, you know, if I did, I really couldn't say, and that's the way this embed system works. But...

BROWN: I understand.

GORDON: ... I think that, you know, they have a saying in the military, which I think is not a bad one, which is that you fight the enemy and you don't fight the plan. I mean, all plans, all human plans never work out exactly as they are intended to. That's why they're plans.

And in this case, this -- the presence of these Fedayeen forces in the south really was unexpected, whatever they say in Washington. It really was a thorn in -- more than a thorn in their side, it was a danger to the forces.

And they felt compelled, and I think it was the correct decision, to focus their energy and do something about it.

Now, this doesn't mean -- I actually think it doesn't hurt the overall effort, because it's not as if the Republican Guard are living some charmed existence around Baghdad. They're now being bombed from the air by air strikes. So, you know, if you put off the ground assault on the Republican Guard, that's just that much more time to begin to work them over from the air. It also gives you more time to get some of your own forces ready.

You know, this -- under this concept of beginning the fight before all your forces are in the theater, there's still units that are getting ready for this fight in Baghdad.

So I don't think a delay of a few days, or however long it takes, to my mind, is not a big factor in the scheme of things. And there is this other consideration. The weather here is just absolutely horrible. I'm sitting outside now on a concrete block in the middle of a sandstorm. It's just not the right conditions to launch into a big ground attack at this time anyway.

So I think the headline really is, shift of focus in the ground attack to the south. The air is continuing to focus on the Republican Guard in the north. And, you know, it's an adaptation, and I think really a necessary one.

And personally, I think the television, based on what I've seen of Iraqi television, with Saddam Hussein presenting propaganda to his people and showing off the Apache helicopter and claiming a farmer shot it down and trying to persuade his own public that he was really in charge, when we're trying to send the exact opposite message, I think, was an appropriate target.

BROWN: Michael, as always, I look forward to reading the rest of the article in the morning. Michael Gordon, the chief military affairs writer for "The New York Times." And again, we've been -- we benefit enormously by having him with us.

A number of issues were raised there. General Clark is chomping to get at them. We need to take a break first, and we'll continue in a moment.


BROWN: In our first hour and 23 minutes with you, we put an awful lot of things on the table, both particularly on the military side. Miles O'Brien is here, the general has moved over to the maps, and let them sort it all out -- gentlemen.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I think it's worth just sort of recapping the day. Thank you very much, Aaron. Joining me is General Wes Clark. He's over at the map table. And I'm over here using some of our satellite imagery. We're going to try to walk you through, south to north, what we know so far.

General Clark, let's start in Basra. What do we know about what's going on down there?

CLARK: Well, we know the British have made it a full objective, so they are going to actually apply the British division against Basra to reduce it. Now, part of this may be to take advantage of the rebellion that is apparently going on on the inside.

On the other hand, there's a very strong force inside Basra. We think it's maybe -- you can never trust numbers here, but 5,000, 7,000, 8,000 people. This will be a major fight in a city of 1.2 million people. This will be a trial run on how we can do in urban combat.

And, you know, we'll just have to see how this turns out. This is unlikely to be over in a day or two.

O'BRIEN: All right. Is it an uprising, or is it just chaos?

CLARK: Well, I don't think we really know what it is. And we don't know why it is. My guess would be that -- and it's only a guess -- we've got special forces in there, or the Brits do. We're arming people and encouraging them to fight back. And this would be an ongoing struggle that will take some time to resolve itself.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's go from Basra to Nasiriyah. Nasiriyah is a very strategic place, bridge or two across the Euphrates River. And it remains a scene of action. What's going on there now?

CLARK: We've got a regiment of the U.S. Marine Corps tied up in Nasiriyah, apparently a regiment, maybe more. They're in heavy contact. They've taken a hospital. It's been used as a base. That's a violation of the Geneva Convention, of course.

It's got chemical suits in it, it's got ammunition, captured 170 people. That's probably the tip of the iceberg in there. We may be dealing there also with a substantial enemy force. It's urban combat. And with every house we blow up and person we kill, we make enemies.

O'BRIEN: That is the real rub, isn't it?

CLARK: It really is.

O'BRIEN: Because it's difficult to look like a liberating force, which is what the Americans would like to be viewed as, when that is happening.

CLARK: And remember, Miles, this is only the enemy's security zone. This is not the main defense. We are not yet up at the main defense element except with some parts of the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division. And maybe not even quite there yet.

So he's holding us at bay here despite our early dash north into Iraq.

O'BRIEN: All right. From Nasiriyah, let's go to Najaf, somewhere between Najaf and the city we're going to visit right after that, Karbala, is where the real action has occurred today, the most action thus far in this short war. Najaf once again strategic because of the bridge. Any time there's a bridge, that's going to be a place that's going to be a focus of attention. We're trying to move troops toward Baghdad.

Tell us what's going on between Najaf and Karbala.

CLARK: We're basically crossing the Euphrates on a broad front. The 3rd Infantry Division has come up, swept through the desert, and moved across on a broad front in the whole area from Nasiriyah north toward Karbala. And An Nat (ph), probably the far left wing, we don't know that for certain. But they've hit resistance. We're not quite sure what the resistance was today. They got across the river. Big sandstorm, close-in combat, infantry troops closed in around the Bradleys. And tanks, a lot of small arms exchange, back and forth.

Estimates of enemy killed, 300, 500, reduced to 150 or so. Who knows on these estimates? We do have to treat them with a certain degree of caution. All we know is, we have engaged in close combat.

O'BRIEN: All right. Look at this road right here. That's the road to Baghdad. We're talking about 40 to 50 miles to Baghdad, if you'll put that up there. That's not far, obviously, but that could be certainly the longest part of the trip, to say the least, as we move toward Baghdad.

CLARK: Well, it's also that we are up there with only a very, very small part of our force. Now, somewhere we have another two Marine regiments, we believe, we're not quite sure, we're not getting any reports on those. Hopefully they're not tied up in An Nasiriyah. But they are not as capable of long-range rapid movement as U.S. Army forces because they don't have the same logistics tail, and they don't have the same kinds of vehicles.

So hopefully they are closing up in the center to put more pressure on other brigades of the so-called Medina Division.

O'BRIEN: General Wes Clark, thanks for the overview, appreciate it.

CLARK: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Aaron.

BROWN: And Miles, we thank you too. You've had a long day here, doing a lot of different things. Thank you very much, Miles O'Brien.

Also joining our coverage from Kuwait tonight is Daryn Kagan. She'll be around. It's a nasty little day you got going there, isn't it?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'm not -- I imagine it looks pretty surreal behind me right now, Aaron. It either looks like a giant piece of yellow cardboard or some strange movie set. Actually this is the sandstorm that we saw a lot of our colleagues, like Alessio Vinci and Sanjay Gupta and Walter Rodgers dealing with yesterday in Iraq. It has now moved south into Kuwait.

And, in fact, this just literally blew in within the last hour. We can take you out -- we can go up to the roof. We have a camera up there as well, and show you what Kuwait City looks like in the middle of the sandstorm.

Basically, it looks like a giant cloud of yellow dust. It's everywhere. It blows not only outside but inside. It gets in through the cracks in the windows. And the temperature has dropped considerably just within the hour or so, I would say, it dropped about 10 or 15 degrees.

So Aaron, I thought, what better time than during a sandstorm to take a look at the morning papers?

BROWN: Why not?

KAGAN: How about that?

BROWN: Can't see anything else.

KAGAN: Why not? You know? Exactly.

Let's take a look. We're watching the English papers, of course, here. "The Kuwait Times," the headline today, "Thrust Through Storm." Of course, they're talking about this one that we're in right now, that was in Iraq yesterday. The big picture on their front page, by the way, Aaron, is of a big demonstration that was held in support of the U.S.-led war against Iraq. This is "The Kuwait Times."

And then "The Arab Times" has a picture from the battlefield. The headline being, "Basra Sputters in Rebellion," and that picture, our -- those are our Army soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division there carrying a wounded Iraqi POW.

Now, one thing personally I thought you would find interesting, Aaron, I heard you talking yesterday how all your many talents, trying to figure out how many people are in a crowd at a big demonstration is not one of them.

Well, this big demonstration that was held in favor of the U.S. war against Iraq, one paper, "The Kuwait Times," estimates that about 300 people were there, and the other paper -- actually it's "The Arab Times" is estimating at 300 people were at the protest or the demonstration, and the other paper has 2,000 people saying that they were there.

So somewhere between 300 and 2,000 Kuwaitis showing up to support the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

BROWN: Daryn, you'll be back and around throughout the morning, and we appreciate having you very much. We'll be looking at newspapers from here as well.

KAGAN: Sure.

BROWN: We need to do an update. General's got a couple of things I'd to ask him about. And he'll probably answer, he usually does.

Heidi Collins first -- Heidi.


BROWN: Heidi, thank you, and thank you for your work tonight. I think your work is done. We appreciate it a lot, Heidi Collins. Christiane Amanpour is online. Heidi was talking about the battle of Basra. When we left here last night Christiane was reporting that the British had named it a military target changing the face of the battlefield considerably. Christiane is on the phone. It's good to talk to you this morning.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, good morning, and a massive sandstorm also in the southern part of Iraq and northern Kuwait where we are.

And, just to say that the British are saying that they believe there is some kind or there has been some kind of attempt at revolt in Basra but what they're saying is that they believe that the Iraqi forces inside Basra have been firing on their own people in order to potentially put down any notion of an uprising.

And, in the meantime, the British 7th Armored Brigade which is outside Basra is trying to fire on those Iraqi positions inside to try to stop (unintelligible) on the people, so you can see it's a fairly confused situation and the British quite concerned that they try - they don't incur any further wrath by the Iraqis on the people.

British have been engaged in artillery and tank duels with the Iraqi resistance inside Basra, the army divisions which melted back inside Basra, and they're trying to take them out but it's a very difficult job because of the civilian population inside.

Of course, one of the things that the British wanted and the U.S. wants was for places like Basra to rise up, not to directly call for that because of the bitter experience of 12 years ago, but clearly that's one of the things people want and it remains to be seen how they're going to be able to achieve that while there are these armed Iraqi military units still inside the town.

One thing the British are trying to do is directly target with bombs, tanks, and artillery, the Ba'ath Party Headquarters, the Saddam regime's ruling party headquarters. They did it in a town south of Basra and we understand they've also done it in Basra as well - Aaron.

BROWN: Well, this is an interesting one, Christiane, because this is a sort of a damned if you do and damned if you don't for the coalition side. If you don't attack the Iraqi army that's in there, then they are free to, a) control the city and put down the rebellion. If you do attack them, then you run the risk of incurring the wrath of the residents of Basra.

AMANPOUR: Well, yes indeed. That's why they're trying to proceed as cautiously but as directly as they possibly can. We are getting the impression that the British want to try to play down this uprising as much as they can in order for it not to incur more Iraqi retaliation against the people as the British army out there try to take care of this artillery that the Iraqis are firing.

Apparently, they have capability to spot the Iraqi mortar positions and other kind of weapons positions at Basra, of course, some of those also on the outskirts of Basra. So, they're trying (unintelligible).

But, as you say, and as your military experts and generals will tell you, that is quite a difficult job and any time you get into heavy fire in civilian population that is also very difficult.

BROWN: Christiane, thank you, Christiane Amanpour.

We turn to General Clark. This is messy.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET), FMR. NATO SUPREME CMDR.: Messy and, Aaron, I think we're sort of at the first major decision point here in the war, strategic decision point, and Michael Gordon described it. It's to make a virtue out of a difficult situation.

The simple fact is that the liberation didn't quite occur. They didn't uprise and we've got more than a quarter of our force tied up in a messy fight in Basra and another part in An Nasiriya. We got logistics problems. The Turks' failure to permit the 4th Infantry Division to go through was a significant problem, not an insignificant problem, significant.

And the result is that the sort of early, easy win scenario which was a five-day move to Baghdad, five to seven days to sort of clean it up, finish up the fighting and over in two weeks, looks increasingly unlikely.

BROWN: Yes, pretty clearly that's not going to happen.

CLARK: Not going to happen.

BROWN: OK. I've got a number of things still on my list to get but fortunately we've got three and a half more hours, or whatever, so we'll get it done. We need to take a break, is that right? Then, our coverage continues in a moment.


BROWN: A lot of ways we're supposed to make news in this time. All of it seems to center around the war one way or another.

And, at the Oscars the other night in Hollywood when Michael Moore won an Oscar for his fine documentary "Bowling for Columbine" me made some news. Mr. Moore joins us in a moment, but first here's what he had to say when he accepted the Academy Award.


MICHAEL MOORE, DIRECTOR: They're here in solidarity with me because we like non-fiction. We like non-fiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president.

We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it's the fiction of duct tape or the fictitious of (unintelligible) alerts. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you Mr. Bush, shame on you, and any time you've got the (unintelligible) against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.


BROWN: And, Michael Moore joins us tonight from his home town of Flint, Michigan. Michael, it's good to see you. Obviously, you must have imagined you were going to get that sort of reception, I assume.

MOORE: Well, I think the country is pretty evenly divided about this war as they were with the election results, although the majority did not vote for Mr. Bush. And, at least at the beginning of this thing before we went into the war, the majority really weren't that anxious to go to war, so.

BROWN: Well, that's absolutely true but that did seem to change over the last week. Are you at all, I mean are you at all troubled? Look, you stood out there and did it. I guess the answer is self evident, but on the same day you said that perhaps seven Americans were killed in a very bloody fight. Five were taken prisoner of war. It was a nasty, nasty day, and I think that seemed to play into the moment in how you were received.

MOORE: Yes. I think that I guess I wanted to make sure that no more young Americans die in that war and, you know, that day began for me, I went to mass that day at church there in Los Angeles before I went to the Oscars. And, you know, I was raised with a certain belief system that said that killing was wrong. Unless it was in self defense killing is wrong.

And, there aren't many people, I think, in this country that believe that Saddam Hussein is going to kill them this week or this month and that's the only reason or right you have to perform an act of violence like the one we're involved in now and I'm just, I'm opposed to it and my film is about that.

I thought it was a very appropriate thing to say because my film is about the American culture of violence, both at home and abroad, and you know, how a government in the name of Mr. Bush in this case, and I put this right in my film how he has manipulated the people with fear and to get them to back his agenda.

And, so for me it was the appropriate thing to do, and frankly, you know, I'm not looking - I mean you know me. I'm not the kind of guy that's going to stand up there and thank his agent and his lawyer and his agent's lawyer.

BROWN: Of course.

MOORE: And then the guy who gave him the wardrobe.

BROWN: I know.

MOORE: You know, I mean - you know what I'm saying, I'm just me.

BROWN: You're right. I do know you and have for a while and I know you are who you are and I wasn't surprised in the least, but I wonder if in retrospect you wish you had said it or done it differently?

MOORE: Yes. I wish I'd said that the children of Columbine and all the other Columbines in this country tonight they've learned an important lesson this week which is we adults have taught them that violence is an acceptable method to resolve a conflict. That's the sad, sad lesson that's been taught to our children through this war and I wish I'd had a chance to say that.

But, no, look I was very appreciative of, you know, the standing ovation there and the booing that started was way up in the balcony, and then the people supporting what I was saying started booing them, and then it just turned into a (unintelligible) of people fighting with each other in the audience. I didn't really mean for that to happen. I just felt that that was the right thing to do and I'm a person of conscience and I hope all people are that.

BROWN: The last couple of days since, has it been sort of predictable, people, you've gotten the sort of predictable mail and predictable pats on the back from people who agree with you? Are you at all surprised with the way people have reacted and/or has so much news gone on that what Michael Moore said at the Academy Awards turns out not to be a very big deal at the end anyway?

MOORE: Well, I think one of your producers told me that on the Internet in the last 24 hours after the Iraq War, Michael Moore was the most trafficked name or whatever on the Internet. So, I think it has, you know, a lot of people have - I've had about 20 million hits on my website, incredible mail supporting me, coming back yesterday traveling, people stopping me in the airports thanking me.

You know, Aaron, my whole thing for the last 13 years since "Roger and Me" is to attempt to be a voice for all of us that don't have a voice and a lot of people are grateful that I said the things I said that had to be said. And, you know, I realize some people don't agree with it, but that's what great about this country that we have freedom of speech and, you know, and I said what I had to say.

BROWN: Michael, I just said we've known each other a long time. There's nothing political in this. Congratulations on the Academy Award. That's a wonderful achievement and we look forward to talking to you again as this goes on and hopefully it doesn't go on for very long, Michael Moore.

MOORE: I do hope that and I hope that all our young men and women come home safely and thanks for letting me be the first non general on here for that last few days.

BROWN: Michael, I'm not going to - I'm not having a conversation about media with you tonight but I promise you if you want...

MOORE: Not tonight, no.

BROWN: If you want to talk about...

MOORE: I would love to come back and have that.

BROWN: Michael, I'm looking forward to it. We haven't had a good fight in a while.


BROWN: Thank you.

MOORE: Thank you.

BROWN: And I'll be more than happy to defend how we've managed all of this. Michael, thanks a lot, Michael Moore, in a moment.

General, you got anything on your mind as we talked about that?

CLARK: Well, first of all, you know, I was at a media conference today at this little college in South Carolina and people were asking...

BROWN: Yes. This job isn't busy enough for you?

CLARK: People were asking about what about dissent? And people in the armed forces not only respect dissent, they expect dissent, as long as it's directed at the policies, not the people.

You said it last night. You know, we think the American armed forces should be respected, admired, appreciated for what they're doing. These are men and women who raise their right hand to lay their life on the line for this country. They didn't make the policy, so as long as the dissent goes after the policy and the policymakers, that's appropriate, that's democratic and let's have it out.

BROWN: I will say this about Michael, and I know he upset a lot of people, I think he made it clear that it is policy and not people...

CLARK: He did.

BROWN: ...that he's upset with.

CLARK: Absolutely.

BROWN: And you could still think he's a jerk if you think he's a jerk, but he did make that much clear. Are we going to break here? OK, that's what we're going to do. We'll take a break and our coverage continues here on CNN.


BROWN: We're going to spend a bit of time over the next few minutes talking about where the country is and how the country is seeing all of this.

I just saw in one of the morning papers that was delivered to me, a New York Times/CBS Poll that's out, 43 percent expect a quick successful invasion. Now, what is interesting to me about this, and I hope you'll find this interesting also, that is down from 62 percent on Saturday. The events of a couple of days have dramatically changed people's perception on how quickly they expect this to go and to some extent probably to the better given the realities. Thirty-two percent of respondents say the war is going very well and that's down from 44 percent and that's again on Saturday. So, the mood of the country is shifting.

We sent Maria Hinojosa out today to check on the mood of the country and here is what she brought back.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The news is inescapable, war is in the air. In bright, quick streaks across the Times Square zippers and big, black type on the pages of the daily newspapers, people can't seem to keep their eyes off it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel personally that there's propaganda that exists on both sides, U.S. spin as well as Iraqi spin. I just hope it gets over quickly and our guys get home.

HINOJOSA: Now that those fuzzy green images have been replaced by the all too clear images of war, real war, by the sad, scared faces of civilians caught in war, by the frightened looks of American POWs and soldiers racing into danger, and of ordinary people caught in the crossfire and on the run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Initially it's easy when the war is not here to think that the war is almost like a game, like a videogame. But now that you see people are involved. You see names and this is about families. They are mothers, fathers, children, wives, so it becomes personal.

HINOJOSA: In Levittown, New York, hundreds sang in support of the troops, while in Minneapolis 200 protesters gathered at the federal courthouse, dozens staging a die-in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before it was just a paper war but now that you actually see American names and casualties it gives you the feeling that, you know, these are real people over there fighting for a cause that I don't personally believe in and I don't think they should be there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew war was bad before and we know war is bad now and unfortunately we knew there would be some casualties.

HINOJOSA: Polls indicate support for the war is still strong with 67 percent supporting it, 31 percent opposed. The strongest core of support comes from the geographic center of the country with less support on the East Coast.

(on camera): But two-thirds of Americans say they are watching this war closely, whether they're for it or against it.

Maria Hinojosa CNN, New York.


BROWN: And once again we brought together some media types, some newspaper types to join us in a conversation about where the country is and how they're reporting the story.

We're always pleased to see Jim Warren of "The Chicago Tribune," though we have to figure out a way to get Mr. Warren to get us the front page of the paper. Margery Eagan, who has also joined the program before, comes to us from Boston. She's with the "Boston Herald," and Evan Smith of "Texas Monthly," good to see all of you.

Jim, let me start with you since you're in the top square in this configuration we have. Do you find a difference in the way, a tonal difference in the way television is reporting this and the way the "Chicago Tribune" is reporting this?

JIM WARREN, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Sure but that's a function of the difference between the two mediums, Aaron. You guys are going 24 hours. You don't have the seven, eight, nine hours that we've got between editions to perhaps be a little bit more thoughtful, to take the latest rumor, the latest claim by one side or another.

So, sure, and I think they're complementary. I suspect when your viewership is way up, when you've got a big rating spike, so do we on the circulation side. Although I will note something I checked out this afternoon which is fairly interesting, which was that we had a very significant 30 percent hike in our single copy sales last Thursday after the initial bombing.

We printed out a whole lot more papers for Friday and Saturday and most of them, the extra ones got returned. Our actual sales have leveled off rather quickly and that's something we can explore later.

BROWN: Are you, by and large, "The Tribune" a newspaper that's home delivered or bought on the street?

WARREN: Yes, about 70 percent is home delivered but a lot of single copy sales, particularly in the city, and again those have leveled off which I think may at minimum just suggest that even though those percentages of support for the war probably mirrored here, I think the post 9/11 level anxiety ones in regard to terrorism on the two coasts is just not quite the same here.

BROWN: That came up the other night as well. Margery, is "The Herald" selling more papers these days than it was prior to the war?

MARGERY EAGAN, "BOSTON HERALD" COLUMNIST: Well, I'll tell you, I know we've got everybody working around the clock in there. I didn't check the circulation figures before I came out but I am on the radio in Boston six days a week and I can tell you, Aaron, people are waiting. The lines light up as soon as the show begins. People will wait 35 and 40 minutes to get on the phone, protesters.

BROWN: Is that right?

EAGAN: Oh, a long, long time and I am on an FM station where we get a pretty center to liberal listernership and even those listeners - Michael Moore that you just had on was not a particularly popular guy this last couple of days with protesters in general.

It's funny how they seem to get the (unintelligible) off of people even the people who are not convinced that we should be in Iraq in the first place. There's something about protesters that just seem to send people spinning.

BROWN: First of all, I feel like we - I didn't know we could even find a liberal talk show, radio talk show host in America these days. I thought that was actually something that had disappeared from the radio waves.

EAGAN: There are a few of us. There are a few of us. We're well hidden secrets, Aaron, but we're here.

BROWN: I'm really impressed with our bookers now, Margery. So, not that people who call talk show hosts are necessarily representative of the society at whole, OK. I don't know that that's true. I used to do that for a living. But, you find a lot of anger out there.

EAGAN: Well, you know it should...

BROWN: People on the other side angry at each other or they're just angry at the protesters?

EAGAN: It is all over the place. I mean today we asked the question about whether people are saying this has become too PC a war some people are saying, that why don't we just go right in and give Baghdad everything we've got?

And we put that to our listeners, and it was amazing the cross section. You had - we had parents of Marines call in and say, you know, my son is doing his job. Of course I support the troops. I don't think we should be there and we certainly shouldn't go crazy bombing Baghdad even though that might put my own son at greater risk.

And then you have the other people that practically call up singing that Randy Newman (ph) song, you know, let's drop the big one and watch what happens. So, it's all over the place, and there's also a big, huge sense, as you reported earlier, that people are much more wary about what's happened.

You know, we've gone from the Shock and Awe of Friday afternoon to seeing dead American soldiers, to seeing POWs, to hearing stories about, you know, single parents that are missing.

BROWN: Let me get...

EAGAN: And I think the mood has changed.

BROWN: Well, let me get to Evan for a second because I find this a really interesting situation. How does a monthly - Evan, how does a monthly magazine deal with a story like this? EVAN SMITH, EDITOR, "TEXAS MONTHLY": Well, to some degree we don't. You know, we're just out with an issue on the newsstands writing about the Space Shuttle Columbia, remember that?


SMITH: The fact is we are at a great disadvantage. On the one hand there's the permanent news cycle that we all know about, 24-hour cable channels and the Internet bloggers. This is the first blogged war. Really by the minute you can get news about the war that we really have no business providing 30 days later.

On the other hand, we can be a safe haven for all the other things going on in our lives that don't relate to this war, you know. The war dominates the news but the fact is at the end of the day people still tuck their kids in.

They talk about bills to pay and taxes to pay coming up and they send their kids off to school in the morning and they've got lives to lead, and a monthly magazine to some degree can be a respite from all the stuff that you're covering minute by minute.

BROWN: When as you watch it with no vested interest in either how television, radio, newspapers do it, do you in any sense see, I keep saying tonal difference? You know one of the criticisms of television is it's been too gee whiz going into this and it hasn't been skeptical enough and analytical enough for the last several days.

SMITH: Right.

BROWN: Would you say that's a difference between - would you agree with that and think it's the difference between television and the newspapers?

SMITH: I think newspapers have tended to be less skeptical but I will say that I think the media as a whole has bought the idea or bought the idea early on that this is going to be something of a drive by war, what General Clark referred to a few minutes ago as an easy win.

We now see, of course, that that's not true. We're now beginning to hear discussions of the economics of all this, that it's going to cost quite a bit more than we thought. The Dow has certainly been on a roller coaster the last couple of days.

The fact is none of us really knows what's going on here. None of us knows what's going to go on here and for the media to make predictions, it's really just something that's going to play out. We can't control it.

BROWN: Boy is that the truth. Jim Warren, the last time I heard from you, I saw a note in my inbox that you were struggling with the question of how to handle the POWs, whether to run the pictures. I have no idea how the paper resolved it. I assume you did. Did you run the pictures? WARREN: Yes, we finally waited as a lot of other folks did for confirmation from their families. But, you know, it was obviously an interesting question that was debated in many newsrooms and you had the oddity, as you well know being in the TV business, of a lot of folks whether you had a satellite dish or just could watch C-Span being able to catch broadcasts from around the world, and see that exact same video, even if you didn't like it.

So, I mean the technology in some ways throughout this has moved ahead of certainly the Pentagon bureaucracy. It happened when I was with you the other night when it came to that stuff that went on at the 101st Airborne Division.


WARREN: Now, were those guys not embedded there, we suspect full well, don't we, that the Pentagon may have been (unintelligible) to be as quick to declare what happened there as they were.

But it's going to ultimately an interesting tale of this mix of technology and the bureaucracy. And also factor is that you've got a lot of very young, terrific journalists, but folks who have not experience war before, that Vietnam generation.


WARREN: Some of whom may have been our heroes but by and large hasn't been there in the last few wars like Kosovo have been ones generally covered and the Persian Gulf War from hotel rooftops.

BROWN: Jim, Margery, Evan, thank you all. It's good to talk to all of you and we welcome you back almost any time, not any time but darn near any time. Thank you. We lost Margery there for a second so we'll call her on the telephone.

We'll take a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.



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