CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interviews With Current, Former Military Officials on New Developments
Aired March 26, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: I'm Larry King. LARRY KING LIVE welcomes you back to CNN's continuing coverage of the war in Iraq.
On a night when Baghdad is again being hit with heavy bombing, the northern front was opened in dramatic fashion just a few hours ago with one of the largest airborne drops in decades.
One thousand U.S. paratroopers landed in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, took control of a key airfield and paved the way for coalition ground forces.
And meanwhile, what about those reports of a major column of Iraq's elite Republican Guard headed straight for U.S. troops south of Baghdad?
We'll have the latest on these and all of the day's developments with reports from the front lines.
Plus General Peter Pace, vice chairman, joint chiefs of staff with insight on coalition strategy. He's the second in command of all the services. And a lot more, too.
But let's start off with Nic Robertson near the Jordanian-Iraqi border. What can you tell us, Nic? First about that story about bombs hitting a marketplace and civilian casualties?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESONDENT: That's got to be the big issue, Larry, in Baghdad. A busy market area, on one level, there were restaurants, tire repair stores this type of thing. On the higher level, people's homes.
Now the scene around there was -- when journalists could get there was a scene of quite devastation, damaged cars, people reporting seeing bodies there.
Iraqi officials say that this was caused by a cruise missile strike. They say that 15 Iraqis were killed, a number of civilians injured. And certainly what reporters could see when they went to the hospital -- hospital there were a number of civilians.
Iraqi officials say that this is just an indication that the coalition is getting frustrated, that it is now attacking civilian targets. Now, Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, has said, on hearing about this situation in the marketplace in Baghdad. He calls on both sides to observe the civilians and to treat the civilians well through the whole of this conflict.
And coalition central command offices there have said that this incident is being investigated and they certainly don't know at this time if it was anything to do with coalition missiles.
But what we are hearing from Iraqi officials and this coming on the same day when the coalition has said it did plan to shut down Iraqi television, essentially closing the door on part of Iraq's propaganda at this time, has said -- or we have seen on Iraqi television the minister of information continuing to speak out on a number of issues.
And certainly this incident in Baghdad will fuel the government as it tries in its campaign to keep popular support of this time, Larry.
KING: Thank you, Nic Robertson. I'll ask General Pace about it in just a minute.
Let's go to Steve Nettleton he's with the 173rd Airborne in Northern Iraq. Troops parachuted into Kurdish controlled Northern Iraq, under cover the darkness and seized an airfield.
What can you report to us, Steve?
STEVE NETTLETON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The tarmac here at this air base in Europe has become a parade of C-17s as they return from their mission. Just a few hours ago they took off to drop off more than a thousand paratroopers over Northern Iraq. Those paratroopers then proceeded to seize an airfield in the area, in an area controlled by the Kurdish, by the Kurds. The paratroopers will secure that airfield and make the way -- pave the way for armored vehicles to come in. Tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles other material, other troops and eventually pave the way for humanitarian aid in Northern Iraq. This was, perhaps, one of the largest airborne operations in recent memory, perhaps even bigger than Panama. Hundreds of paratroopers dropped on a single objective at one time.
Now military officials say that the environment in Northern Iraq is very permissive. They did not expect any resistance on the ground. I am told no one was seriously hurt. We still don't have the final report as to whether people broke ankles, broke legs which are very common on these kinds of drops. However, was there no gun fire. The aircraft were not fired upon. The troops, the soldiers on the ground were not fired upon. And they are now beginning the procedure, the process of starting a massive, lengthy airlift into Northern Iraq. This is Steve Nettleton reporting live from a us air base in Europe.
KING: Thank you, Steve.
Let's check with one more reporter before we meet the general.
Gary Tuchman is embedded with the U.S. Air Force at a base near the Iraqi border. What can you tell us from your vantage point, Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, 24 hours when we were talking to you, we were being buffeted by high winds and lightning, and there weren't many planes taking off from this air base.
Now the weather is nicer and the planes are taking off again. But the Air Force is telling us the total number of sorties into Iraq are 25 percent less than the first few days of the war.
The reason, the Air Force says, is because they've already hit many of the pre-planned targets they wanted to hit. Now they're hitting emerging targets, which include the Republican Guard forces.
We're being told by the Air Force when the war first started 100 percent of the bombs were laser-guided bombs, the smart bombs. Now, though, that percentage has changed. Seventy percent of the bombs are the smart bombs. Thirty percent are the so-called dumb bombs, the gravity bombs, the balls that just fall.
The reason the Air Force says it's using 30 percent dumb bombs now is because those are going on the Republican Guard forces, who are nowhere near any of the civilians.
Larry, back to you.
KING: Thank you, Gary Tuchman.
Now let's meet General Peter Pace, United States Marine Corps. He's at the Pentagon. The general is vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. That makes him the nation's second highest ranking military officer and he was with President Bush earlier today at Fort MacDill in Florida.
Fully cover a lot of bases, General. What can you tell us about this bombing of the marketplace? What do we know?
GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS VICE CHAIRMAN: Good evening, Larry.
Things we do know is that the marketplace itself and the area immediately around it were not on any of our target lists for today.
So one of several things might have happened. Potentially, one of our weapons that is a precision-guided munition did not perform the way it was supposed to.
Potentially an Iraqi surface-to-surface missile that was being fired at our troops fell short of its target.
Potentially an Iraqi surface-to-air missile was being fired at one of our airplanes simply went up and came back down.
We do not know what exactly happened, but we do know that the marketplace and the area around it was not on our target list.
KING: So this could have been a myriad of reasons, then?
PACE: Yes. Correct.
KING: General, what can you tell us about reports that large numbers of Iraqi forces are moving out of Baghdad? The Republican Guard supposedly headed for a clash. What do we know?
PACE: All we know by that is that the news channels are reporting that; there is no substantiation of that on the battlefield. However, if they were to come out into the open like that, that would actually be a good thing.
KING: How close are we to this battle of Baghdad?
PACE: It's not certain. What we do know right now is that the regime no longer controls the north of Iraq. The regime no longer controls the west of Iraq. The regime no longer controls the south of Iraq.
So if you happen to be sitting in Baghdad in the center of Iraq you ought to be getting nervous about now.
KING: So you're saying the east is all that's left?
PACE: The center east portion, that's correct, right around Baghdad. The regime itself has lost control of the north, the west and the south.
KING: General Pace, I guess tomorrow will be the seventh day. In your assessment and, based on your brilliant military career, that assessment will be very interesting to hear. How is this going?
PACE: Well, I think it has been going extremely well from the standpoint of things that had been accomplished.
One of our main objectives was to be able to secure the southern oil fields in a way that would prevent destruction of those fields and be able to turn back to the Iraqi people the wealth that is in the ground there so they can use it for their own prosperity.
In the west and the north, as I said, we've been very successful.
So in six days of major ground activity we have had north, west, south, and a penetration of about 200 miles toward Baghdad. Very significant.
In addition to that, not only what's happening on the ground militarily, but the humanitarian effort has been significant.
You know that in Umm Qasr, the port down south, that we have cleared the waterways of all mines, that the British contingent down there is working on getting the ports back in operation. They're hiring the local laborers to work there. There are ships off the coast with humanitarian rations and medicines aboard.
We had a convoy today going to Umm Qasr. The Kuwaitis have offered water and the Brits and the U.S. engineers are building a pipeline through the southern part of Iraq into Basra to be able to provide up to two million liters of water per day.
So as the forces move forward, they have already distributed 300,000 humanitarian rations. They have another 1.5 million humanitarian rations with them in the forward fighting areas. And in the rear, the ships are beginning to come in and the humanitarian efforts are beginning to really get into swing.
KING: How, General, do you assess the opposition?
PACE: I think there's some sporadic opposition. What has surprised me most, quite honestly, is that in nearly six days of ground fighting that the forces that are loyal to Saddam Hussein have already committed so many war crimes.
They have executed prisoners of war. They have put operational command posts inside of hospitals. They have stored weapons in schools. They have dressed their soldiers in civilian clothes. They have used women and children as human shields. And they have pretended to surrender and then opened fire on the forces to which they were supposedly surrendering.
These are all war crimes, and they've all happened in the first six days of this conflict.
KING: Are you saying that "it surprised me," is that in your career, you had never seen anything like this?
PACE: I've never seen anything like this and although we know -- we have known in the past that we were capable of doing this, to do it so blatantly, so early, was not only a surprise, but to me it's disgusting.
KING: Where, General, where is their Air Force?
PACE: It's not in the air.
KING: That's the question. Why and not do you expect that?
PACE: Had they taken off, they would have been shot down by the coalition Air Forces, which is probably why they did not take off.
As best we know, Larry, all of the airfields from which they would be able to take off, or from which they might have taken off past are now cratered. So to our knowledge there is not a runway in Iraq from which they could actually take off.
KING: So the fear of kamikaze attacks and things like that is improbable.
PACE: Improbable is a good word, yes.
KING: OK. What has been the losses to this minute absorbed by the coalition?
PACE: In terms of what, please, Larry?
KING: Loss of life.
PACE: Loss of life has been on the order of about 20 to 30 in combat deaths. The reason I can't be more precise than that is that there is some, as you would expect, the fog of war, some who we think are missing now may, in fact, be dead.
So we don't have precise locations on all of the folks in the battlefield, but somewhere in the neighborhood of between 20 and 30 have died through combat death.
KING: You were with the president today and he crossed off a line, our White House correspondent John King reported that he crossed out a line about the swiftness of this, saying that he wanted to be more conservative.
Was that a smart thing to do? Are we moving swiftly? Is it slower than expected?
PACE: Well, I don't know what the president put on or crossed off. He gave a magnificent speech down there. And there were 10,000 troops and their families down there.
And he was really a motivator to everyone in Tampa who's been working so hard to put this coalition together and to get this moving the way it's been moving. So it was a wonderful day with our commander-in-chief in Tampa.
KING: How long will this take?
PACE: I don't know. And I think anyone who tries to guess that really is guessing. What we need to understand is that we are six days into major land combat. We have already taken -- wrested control of a major portion of Iraq from the Iraqi forces.
Some days are going to be better than others. It may go fast, it may go slow, but it is going to go. And we are going to apply whatever Power we need to get this job done. But to try to put a timeline on it really is not a wise thing to do for any of us.
KING: We've not found any weapons of mass destruction. Assuming, naturally, that they are there and we have the figures to say they're there, do you expect them, frankly, to be used?
PACE: I don't know about their use. We do know that he has already used the weapons on his neighbors. We know that he's used the weapons on his own people. So it's not inconceivable that he might use them.
But we have not yet found, as you've mentioned, what we think -- what Pete Pace thinks will probably happen is once the people understand that Saddam really is finished, that he is gone and that there is a secure environment in which they can come forward, they will start pointing out to us places where he has hidden these weapons in the past. KING: General, do you like the concept never before used, I think, of embedded journalists?
PACE: I really do. I think on balance, Larry, when folks do the history of this war, that we'll find that on great balance in favor of doing that.
What is happening is that we have -- although we are seeing slices of the battlefield of where each reporter is, if you stand back and watch the totality of those slices, you get a fairly accurate picture of what's going on across the battlefield, number one.
And number two, you have the absolute credibility of an independent reporter who's reporting from the front lines.
So I think that, on balance, it really is very, very good, not only for the coalition and U.S. forces, but for the knowledge of the world at large of how we are going to prosecute this war.
KING: Is there any danger, though, as the other side might say, that they, the enemy, can see what they're reporting? See it firsthand?
PACE: I think it's fair that there'd probably be a small percentage of what they're able to see that we would prefer that they didn't see.
But for the most part they're going to see exactly what they should see which is if they do not lay their arms down, if they do not stop supporting this repressive, thug regime, they're going to die.
KING: What's the role, General, in dealing with the public back home and managing expectations? You know, the people thought, hey, look at the size of this army, look at the size of that army. It should have been over in a few days. How do you deal with that kind of thinking?
PACE: I think part of dealing with that expectation is to understand that, in fact, what we are seeing is accurate portrayals of small slices of the battlefield each time we go to one of the very brave reporters who are out there with the troops, getting these stories out.
But you have to step back from that and take a look, and when you look at the entirety of the country from a large perspective, it is sporadic fighting.
Now, easy to say for me standing in Washington, D.C., for the lieutenant on the ground, the sporadic fighting in his neighborhood is total fighting. So I don't mean to at all imply that this is not extremely deadly in the places that it's happening.
But when you step back and look at the entire country, it is spots of fighting and we have had our forces move 200-plus miles with this kind of sporadic activity. KING: On a personal level, General, you're a Marine and Marines generally don't like office buildings. Would you rather be somewhere near there?
PACE: I think all of us in uniform would like very much to be part of freeing the Iraqi people, defending the American people and our coalition partners, taking away Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
We all would like to do that, but we've all got an assignment. Mine's here in Washington. It's a great honor for me to have this position as vice chairman, and although my heart might be one place, I know where I'm supposed to be right now.
KING: Was that awesome attack successful? Do we regard that event as successful? And when are we expected to see -- I guess you don't want to give a timetable, our troops marching into Baghdad? When do we expect that?
PACE: I'm not sure which awesome attack you're talking about.
KING: The day of the big bombing.
PACE: Well, we've had over a thousand planes in the air every day and we will continue to do so. So I guess you need to be standing near the point of impact to understand whether or not it was awesome.
KING: Was the "shock and awe" effective?
PACE: The "shock and awe" will continue. It took down...
KING: That's ongoing.
PACE: It happened in the past. It's ongoing as we speak and it will continue to go. We will continue to put large numbers of airplanes in the air.
And what will shift is we will move from a regime command and control to supporting troops on the ground, as necessary, to ensure that they have the firepower and the cover they need to get the job done.
KING: Is capturing or killing Saddam Hussein a goal?
PACE: Getting rid of Saddam Hussein, getting rid of his regime, getting rid of weapons of mass destruction and turning Iraq back over to the Iraqi people, so that they can have their own form of representative government is the goal.
Saddam's going to be gone. How that's going to happen, I couldn't predict.
KING: Did you expect -- a few more things, General. Did you expect more surrenders?
PACE: I didn't really give a great deal of thought to how many. We have over 4,000 already.
Part of the problem right now, I believe, is that there are elements in the Iraqi military who would like to surrender, but literally, directly behind them are thugs from the special security forces who kill them when they try to surrender, who have literally cut the tongue out of someone who spoke out against the regime and let him die in the street, who hung a lady the other day because she had the temerity to wave at a passing convoy of coalition troops.
KING: What can you say, General, finally, to -- we're going to have a few on -- the families of POWs?
PACE: I don't know what to say to them that would help ease their pain. I can't imagine what they're going through.
I hope they understand and know that all of us, especially those who are still forward, the teammates of theirs on the ground, are doing everything we can to locate and to free their sons and daughters.
And we thank them for the sacrifice that they're making, and we all hope and pray that this war can end quickly so that we can repatriate POWs, not only U.S. and coalition POWs, but any who we might have captured from the other side.
KING: Thank you, general. Always good seeing you and hope we can call on you again.
PACE: Larry, thank you very much for the time tonight.
KING: General Peter Pace, United States Marine Corps, vice chairman joint chiefs of staff. That's the nation's second highest ranking military office.
By the way, one of our guests tomorrow night will be General Hugh Shelton, the former joint chiefs chairman.
When we come back we'll meet two outstanding journalists: Jasim Al-Azzawi of the Abu Dhabi, network of the United Arab Emirates, and Sir Trevor McDonald, one of the most -- world's most distinguished journalists. He's in Kuwait City; he's ITN's lead anchor, formerly knighted by his country. They're next.
We'll meet some POW families, as well. We'll be taking your phone calls later. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Joining us now in Kuwait City is Sir Trevor McDonald. He is ITN's lead anchor, anchoring there, famed news at 10 (ph). He was in Iraq in January of this year and in November of '90 once interviewed Saddam Hussein.
And joining us in the United Arab Emirates is -- of Abu Dhabi is Jasim Al-Azzawi. He is the anchor and executive producer for Abu Dhabi TV. He is joining us from the set -- he's on his own set of Abu Dhabi's television war coverage.
He conducted a live interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell earlier today. He emigrated to the United States in 1982 as a naturalized citizen of this country, worked for the U.S. State Department for 16 years and was an interpreter for presidents Reagan and Bush.
Sir McDonald, you're a veteran at this sort of thing. What's your assessment or the action to this date?
TREVOR McDONALD, ITN ANCHOR: Well, Larry, it was very interesting to hear what the general was saying. I think the point is that many people expected this war to progress a little more quickly.
I think what you were implying was absolutely right. There were great, great expectations that the enormous military might of the United States would very quickly subdue what is very much a third or fourth world power in military terms, a country which has been under sanctions for about 12 years now.
And the feeling was that this thing would be over pretty quickly. Things are not working out quite that way.
KING: And Jasim, from your perspective, a veteran of the area and you know the territory, as they say. How goes it?
JASIM AL-AZZAWI, NEWS ANCHOR, ABU DHABI TV: Well, it's going slow, this American and British juggernaut. I lot of people thought the moment they hit Iraq was going to be pretty quick, in a day or two.
I think the majority of us observers, including some of the pundits, they were surprised at the resistance, as well as the populace -- the Iraqi population did not rise up as many people expected and that was just the wild card perhaps people at the Pentagon and in England were counting on.
KING: Sir Trevor, were you surprised at that? The general said that they're under extreme pressure not to surrender, that the -- there are despots there that would shoot them from behind?
McDONALD: Well, I suppose we are a little surprised about it. I think there was a popular feeling that Saddam Hussein's regime is so despotic and it's one which is so disliked by the people that they would, at the very sight of troops, coalition forces, really rise up and decide to get rid of their leader.
But of course, they are internal pressure. It's not very easy, as the general said, to do that.
But yet, you know, there is still the sense that we were expecting something a little more dramatic. We were expecting something to move a little more quickly. And what we've seen is resistance, which I don't think was anticipated and to the full degree to which we are seeing it. I think that that's a great surprise.
KING: It's approaching dawn now in Baghdad. Jasim, what did Secretary Powell say of interest today?
AL-AZZAWI: We asked him specifically about this, that the U.N. did not authorize the war against Iraq. And he thought that was just a big epic battle between the French and the Russians from one side and the Americans from the other side. Their patience ran out so they had to get into this war.
He is convinced that Iraq possesses and perhaps ultimately might choose weapons of mass destruction. He is not disheartened that there is an Iraqi resistance, and it's just a question of time before the mighty U.S. and British will win and conquer.
KING: Sir Trevor, are you surprised that some of the despotic acts the general described?
McDONALD: No, I'm not. I'm not at all surprised. You know, Saddam Hussein has been known for this for some years now.
I think the general point that he's trying to convince these people, those who are wielding this resistance, that these things are going on, is perhaps a little more difficult.
The resistance seems pretty strong, and it seems pretty well organized and the resistance, I think, has come as a bit of a surprise. I think people were expecting, you know, soldiers to lay down their arms and I think that we weren't expecting what we saw.
I think there's a difference from the last time around. I think many Iraqis felt that the last time around they were probably, if they've really listened to their hearts, they were probably in the wrong. After all, they had gone and invaded Kuwait.
This time they see themselves as people who have been invaded, and I'm not too sure whether this isn't stiffening some resistance on the part of the people who support the regime and we've seen people standing up and fighting. We don't quite understand what they're doing. This evening there were reports about people breaking out of cities and heading into the direction of the coalition forces.
As one of my colleagues who was on the spot said, this seems a rather strange thing to do, because one would imagine to be that the coalition Air Forces would simply pick them out quite quickly. But yet, this is what they're doing.
It's all very strange and we really have to see how this -- how this pans out.
KING: I'm going to take a break and when we come back we'll be joined by -- Jasim, hold on one second. I'm going to take a break. We'll come back, and when we come back we'll talk to two relatives of missing -- of folks missing in action or prisoners of war.
And then Sir Trevor McDonald and Jasim Al-Azzawi will remain with us and Colonel David Hackworth will join us, as well. And we'll be including your phone calls. We'll get Jasim's follow-up to what Sir McDonald just said.
But right now Heidi Collins will get us up to date on late news headlines. We'll have a message or two. And we'll be right back; don't go away.
KING: Let's re-introduce carryover guests and some new guests. And later in this half hour, in a little while we'll be taking your phone calls.
Joining us in Kuwait City is Sir Trevor McDonald. He's ITN's lead anchor. He anchors ITN's famous "News at 10:00." In Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates is Jasim Al-Azzawi. He is the anchor and executive producer for Abu Dhabi TV, joining us on the set, his own set of Abu Dhabi television's war coverage. In Comfort, Texas is Randy and Jamie Kiehl. Their son, Army specialist James Kiehl, is listed as missing in action in Iraq. And in New York, our regular, Colonel David Hackworth, United States Army, retired, the highly decorated veteran, award winning military correspondent, syndicated columnist. He writes "Defending America." And his most recent best- selling book was "Steal My Soldier's Heart."
I want to spend a little time with the Kiehls. And when did you learn, Randy, that your son was missing?
RANDY KIEHL, FATHER OF MIA SOLDIER: Sunday evening, we had -- we didn't. My daughter-in-law, who is up in Des Moines, Iowa had a visitation from an Army person. I don't know if it was a sergeant or what, showed up at her doorstep and let Jill know that James was listed as missing in action. About 7:30 Sunday night.
KING: And your first reaction?
R. KIEHL: Shock. Fear, because missing in action doesn't tell us a whole lot.
KING: Yes. And Janie, what was your feeling?
JANIE KIEHL, MOTHER OF MIA SOLDIER: Well, I was terrified. And I never -- I really -- when he went there, I didn't expect this to happen because the like -- any boy does for his mom, he promised himself -- he promised me he'd take care of himself.
KING: Colonel Hackworth, what can you tell the Kiehls about what missing in action might mean?
COL. DAVID HACKWORTH (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, it means at this moment, they can't find him. He could be trying to make his way back to the front. He could be a prisoner of war. There are a number of cases, but there are dozens and dozens of incidents in past wars where MIAs have returned. A friend of mine was MIA at Bastone. He was my mentor in Italy. And he was behind the enemy lines what, for 40-some days. And he made it home. So we'll pray and keep our fingers crossed that he'll wander into friendly lines, too.
KING: So what you're telling them, colonel, though, it does not mean the worst?
HACKWORTH: No, there's -- oh, no. There's absolute hope. It could be a record-keeping thing. And he could -- there's a procedure that soldiers who train in a survival course called "Escape and Evade." And he could well be doing that. And the veterans of Vietnam, especially our aviators, went through that drill. And many were MIA and made it back or were later picked up when they were finally -- it takes a while when you're captured, let's say, by an enemy force. They're broken down in the battlefield, greatly distributed. It might take 10 or 12 weeks to get them back to headquarters where they will be able to be reported.
KING: Randy, what kind of kid is James?
R. KIEHL: A very stand-up young man. He -- at 6'8", 240 pounds, he really doesn't take anything from anybody, but he'll be the first person to jump in to give somebody a hand and help them all of the way to a fault.
KING: Did you say 6'8"?
R. KIEHL: Yes, sir, I did. Larry, he's a big kid.
KING: Was he a -- did he play basketball?
R. KIEHL: Yes, sir. He played basketball for the high school over here, Comfort High School. He was co-captain of his basketball team. And he was also in the marching band. He kind of stood out in the crowd.
KING: Janie, is the Army a career for James?
J. KIEHL: He was getting ready to do some more training with them when 9/11 happened. And all the courses he had signed up for were put on hold until they figured out what they were going to do. There is one thing that James said to me before he left. He said that the people overseas think we're greedy Americans and that we are greedy, but we're greedy for our freedom. And we may be just trying to help other people achieve that freedom that we have.
KING: What's keeping you going, Randy?
R. KIEHL: The search of information for my son. Right now, and if I can interject just a second.
R. KIEHL: This afternoon, I received information from the Pentagon that my son is no longer listed as missing in action, but his status has been changed to whereabouts unknown. And I also understand that affects benefits for he and Jill, my daughter-in-law. It also affects virtually his status as far as being military. My daughter- in-law is expecting her first child on the 4th of May. And that -- that has a lot of impact to what is going on in our family.
KING: Hack, what does that mean?
HACKWORTH: I've never heard of that. I guess it's the Pentagon bureaucracy in action, but for sure knowing the Army, they will take care of that bride and they will take care of that family.
KING: Yes, are you sure they're going to do that, Janie?
J. KIEHL: I believe that my country will help us out, at least I have faith...
KING: Did they explain to you what they meant by whereabouts unknown?
R. KIEHL: They have -- I got from our local senator's office, one of her people said that the whereabouts unknown is a category that the eight that are unaccounted for that were listed as MIA, have been put into.
R. KIEHL: Any other explanation, I'm still waiting on.
KING: We wish you the best of luck, Kiehls. And we hope to hear from you soon. And we hope that the word is that James has been found safe and sound and returns. Randy Kiehl and his wife, Janie, from Comfort, Texas. Their son, Army specialist James Kiehl, who was caught -- missing in action -- they were told by the Pentagon today, whereabouts unknown, something that our friend Colonel Hackworth has never heard of in his long Army career. You learn something new every day.
All right. Let's assemble the panel. They are Sir Trevor McDonald, Jasim Al-Azzawi and Colonel David Hackworth. We will be including your calls.
And Jasim, you wanted to say something at the bottom of the hour after Sir Trevor had spoken.
AL-AZZAWI: That's correct. When Trevor was saying that this is a very unusual war, one of the things that surprised me personally, I am not a military man, that the crack force of the Republican Guard, the Medina brigade just left Baghdad about eight hours ago, maybe 10 hours ago. There's an epic battle going on. I was wondering what possesses this crack force to leave its vicinity, to leave Baghdad, to leave the regime and head south to meet with Marines and to meet with the mechanized 5th Brigade. And it seems like either a very good move or it may be desperate. You know, almost a 1,000 vehicles moving southwards and other force coming from Basra using this sandstorm, perhaps. KING: Colonel Hackworth, General Pace said that he didn't comment and had very little knowledge of that. What do you make of that?
HACKWORTH: That's strange because I've been getting reports from the Indians, those guys down at the bottom that always tell the truth all day long, early this morning about that movement. What I expect is that Secretary Rumsfeld and his generals expected the Iraqi army to do kind of a Humpty Dumpty and fall apart at the first shot. And now we're seeing that Saddam Hussein has learned greatly from Desert Storm. And he's not going to sit out in the middle of the desert and get the hell beat out of him, but he's going to use the same tactics that the Vietnamese used against us or we used against the British to win our freedom. That's guerilla tactics. That accounts for all of the hit and run stuff behind the lines and a bit of mobile warfare.
Now that's taken a big chance when you leave your defensive position kind of hard to hit and get out in the open. But remember that dust storm that's now clearing, Larry, is still up there. And he's got cover from it. He'll have cover from it for the next 12 hours. So he's betting on that. He's hoping to come under that, hit us, do some damage, and not be hit by our air.
Hopefully, our brass will have brought in the stuff that can fly above the dust clouds, heavy B-52s and all of that, and carpet bomb those columns. I think he's making a very great mistake by coming at the United States Army and Marines, who will have all of the advantages both in the air and on the ground to knock him down.
KING: Sir Trevor, Tony Blair is currently with the president at Camp David. He's in for what they call a war counsel. Apparently a new poll suggests that the British trust in Blair has grown since widespread unpublic protests in Britain against the war. How had he fared thus far as a military commander in chief?
MCDONALD: Well, he's done very well. I don't think he calls himself a commander in chief, as your president does, Larry. But I think he's done reasonably well.
As you said, there were a number of protests before. And I think in general, people are still worried about this war. There's still a great deal of concern about it. I think the shift in the opinion polls you're seeing is due partly to the fact that once the -- once our soldiers are out in the field, once they're out in the battlefield, then people feel it is their right to support those soldiers.
But I think there's deep, deep concerns about precisely what's going on and how it will pan out. I think for the prime minister himself, the -- for Tony Blair himself, the great thing is that he has appeared to be terribly, terribly sincere about this. There's almost a kind of proselytizing zeal about the way he's gone about trying to convince those who are against the war to take his side. And I think even his enemies realize that he is sincere in believing in what he's doing. And I think this has helped a lot. But I think the fishers in his party and the divisions in the country will take a little healing long after this war has gone.
KING: Jasim, what's the general feeling in the Arab world, really, about Saddam Hussein?
AL-AZZAWI: Well, that depends on who you ask. If you ask the Kuwaitis, for instance, they would tell you that this war is 12 years old. You know, this should have been done back in '91 when the Americans and the British and the French and everybody else should have marched all of the way to Baghdad and got rid of this current regime.
If you asked the Saudis, also again, if you ask the Saudi people, they will tell you this is the wrong war. This is going to be counterproductive and is going to generate tremendous hatred and upheaval and violence and an increase in international terrorism. If you ask the Saudi government, perhaps they are sitting the fence. Sometimes they are with the U.S., sometimes against the U.S. The fact that they did not allow American forces to use the Sultan Air Base, which is the largest air base outside the United States.
When it comes to countries like Egypt, for instance, the Egyptian government is with the U.S. The entire Egyptian population is against the war. And the manifestation of that we will see it after the war. It depends on the number of casualties and the number of people die, especially if they are innocent, not soldiers, not crack Army force like the Republicans. In the Gulf, generally speaking, they want this over, done with, quickly, with the minimum number of losses on both sides. It is a very difficult call. It's a very difficult dream.
KING: We'll be right back with Sir Trevor McDonald with Jasim Al-Azzawi Colonel David Hackworth. And we'll include your phone calls.
Don't forget, tomorrow night, General Hugh Shelton will be with us, the former chairman of the joint chiefs and also the prime minister of Australia, John Howard, will be been of our guests tomorrow night. We'll be right back.
KING: Sir Trevor, before we start to take some phone calls for the three distinguished guests, this Blair visit, so early on in the conflict, a war counsel, what's your analysis of it?
MCDONALD: Well, I think that Tony Blair will discuss with the president how the war is going. And I think that will obviously be a subject for discussion. But I think much more than that, there are other things to be discussed. Tony Blair is particularly keen to discuss post-war Iraq and what happens there. And I think the difference between the United States and Britain on this issue, and perhaps it's more a distinction and not so much a difference, is how Iraq is going to be governed.
I think Tony Blair and the British would like to see a greater U.N. involvement. My understanding is that President Bush thinks that the Americans, as the conquering power, if you like, will take the lead role in this for some time. At some later stage, maybe the U.N. might get involved, but the American position is really to have -- save themselves in running Iraq after the war.
I think the other point that Tony Blair would like to discuss is this Middle East road plan for peace. This is desperately, desperately important for Britain. And it's desperately important in Tony Blair's efforts to try and patch up the divisions which have opened up in Europe about this war in Iraq. I think this business about peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is something the prime minister in Britain is very, very concerned about. And he'll tell the president so again because he did once before when he went to Washington. But of course, the preoccupation then was the war with Iraq.
MCDONALD: But those are very, very big issues to be discussed.
KING: Let's take a call. Palmdale, California. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello, Larry King.
CALLER: I enjoy your show.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: And I think Colonel Hackworth is very inspirational and has a very good attitude. My question is, is I'm a parent. I'm a veteran. I have a son that was sent to Kuwait last Sunday, but we cannot be told where he was sent to. And as a parent and concerned individual of everybody that's over there, how can we find out where he went to?
HACKWORTH: Well, everybody's on the attack and damn busy. I get e-mails all day long from parents asking me to help find their children. And it's a task that you just have to hang loose until right now the weather is clearing. The air will be allowed to come down and strike the targets on the ground. The folks on the ground will be getting on with the attack. And it won't be long before the main forces are engaged And after that, we're going to see a big battle for the next two or three days. And then we'll know after that what the end game is going to be.
KING: But when?
HACWORTH: Whether there's going to be light at the end of tunnel or we're going to have...
KING: When does he find -- his question, Hack, was when does he find out where his son is?
HACKWORTH: Well, I think his son is with units that are on the move. From my conversations with kids there, they haven't gotten letters home. They're -- you know, the -- it is not like it's a day at the beach out there. They're fighting a very hard war.
HACKWORTH: And I got to tell you, Larry, they're doing a damn good job on the ground and in the air.
KING: Seattle, Washington. Hello?
CALLER: Hi. I'm a Navy veteran and I have a question for Colonel Hackworth.
CALLER: There's an apparent confusion in the media about the procedure that the military has for informing the families about capturing casualties. Could Colonel Hackworth please clarify this policy because I think there's been some blame in the media in faulting the military for not notifying the loved ones?
HACKWORTH: A great point. And I wanted to jump in last night and cover that, but I didn't when that came up. Bottom line is you have a next of kin. If that's your wife or your brother, that's the one that's notified. Your mom and dad don't get the word. I think probably now, based on one of the interviews tonight, it seems like that the Army in this case went to the bride, but also went to the mom and dad.
KING: All right. Before I take the next call, Jasim, are you surprised at the general's description of some of the actions of the government of Iraq?
AL-AZZAWI: In what sense? What are you referring to, Larry?
KING: All of the despotic things. The killing of prisoners of war, the shooting of a woman because she smiled at a coalition troop going by.
AL-AZZAWI: No, I'm not. No I'm not. This is all -- this is current. I think this is going to increase perhaps with -- as this military campaign is going to unfold. We are going to see things that we did not see back in '91 whether perhaps even on both sides. Right now, the encirclement of Basra, the second largest city in Iraq, is almost complete. There is a daily bombardment. And people are going to resort to desperate measures.
When the siege of Baghdad starts, and like I said, I'm not a military man, but I suppose it might start within a week. And if the regime digs in, and they're going to make sure that they have to suck in all the military power of the U.S. and the British around Baghdad in a siege, and it's going to continue street to street, or building to building, and room to room, that is going to be a tremendous, tremendous casualty. And we're just going to have to wait and see. But as far as the reports that we've been getting about shooting people and the Fedayeen of Saddam using their tactics, this is going to increase tremendously.
KING: Oh, boy. Clarksville, Tennessee. Hello?
CALLER: Hello. My question is about the POWS...
CALLER: ...and the punishment. They keep saying that they're going to punish them as war criminals for any acts, wrong acts that they do towards them. Is there any -- has anybody been punished for the acts that they did on the people that were in the last war, in 1991?
KING: Sir Trevor, do you know the answer to that?
MCDONALD: I don't. It's a very, very good question. I'm not aware of people being punished, but I suppose it could have happened. I think maybe Colonel Hackworth could answer this one. I'm not aware of this at all.
KING: Yes, Hack, do you know?
HACKWORTH: Well, at the end, those people, the prisoners will be able to finger the people who tortured them or badly treated them. And we'll have a chance to put them in front of the military tribunal and seek justice.
KING: What's your assessment, Sir Trevor, of the opposition to the coalition? Stronger than you thought?
MCDONALD: Well, -- well, it was much stronger than we thought. I mean, if you look at what has happened say in Umm Qasr, we thought that that was going to be a bit of a pushover. In fact it took a much, much longer time to fall than we expected. The fighting, we understand, is still going on around Nasiriyah. And of course, the situation around Basra is still very difficult.
None of this had been expected. But in fact, what has not helped the coalition forces is the fact that somehow they seemed to have advertised that they have either taken or captured or taken hold of these places long before they'd actually done so. I'm not too sure whether this is something which -- for which we can take some of the blame as well, but the perception was that all this was going to be a much, much easier ride. It hasn't been so far.
KING: Brownton, Minnesota. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. Thank you for taking my call.
CALLER: I'd like to ask your panel, on the eve of President Bush's meeting with Tony Blair, I'd like to know that when this is all over and we have lost so many lives and spent $75 billion plus, why should we turn Iraq over to the U.N.? Shouldn't we be the primary ones to set up the new government of Iraq, especially when France and Russia have said that they would veto any resolution that puts us in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq?
KING: Jasim, you have a thought on that?
AL-AZZAWI: It might be called U.N., but ultimately it's the U.S., no matter how you look at it. This is the United States in the saddle, driving it. It's going to be there for many, many years. If I heard President Bush correctly, he said we're going to stay the course. And that means according to the study by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, which we saw a glimpse of it in "The New York Times" just about four or five days ago. It means there is going to be a need for 75,000 American soldiers to stay in Iraq for a minimum between 10 to 15 years. And they are going to spend something like $20 billion a year just for reconstruction and trying to change this regime once and for all into a democratic institution. And that cannot be done by the United Nations. That means the United States, and this is the very heart of the debate that is going on in Camp David between Blair and Bush.
KING: Yes. This, Sir Trevor, is a long haul. Is it not?
MCDONALD: I think it is a long haul. I think the caller makes a very good point about France and Russia. But I think, you know, Larry, in diplomacy, these difficulties occur. They have for centuries. And some method, some modality must be found to try and rationalize these, and to patch up these difficulties. So I think that at some stage, one has to get the United Nations involved. It may start with just the humanitarian effort, which I think is the American position. But I think at some stage later, forgetting those real differences which exist and the caller was absolutely right about France and Russia, I think at some stage we'll have to try and patch this difficulty out.
KING: And Hack, when do you see the siege of Baghdad beginning on the ground?
HACKWORTH: Well, let's say that we're engaged today and for the next three or four days with the divisions deployed south of Baghdad. And let's say it's four days to clean them up. And believe me, they will be cleaned up with air power and the mighty forces that are on the ground. And then we'll have a ring around Baghdad. Then a decision has to be made whether we enter Baghdad or not. If we do, it will be very hard fighting, very, very dangerous. Hopefully, we can put a noose around it.
HACKWORTH: And get an insurgency effort from within inside the city, a lot of Shi'ites inside of that city that hate Saddam and went from inside, as we did with Paris, Rome, Milan in World War II.
KING: Thank you, as always, Colonel David Hackworth, we thank you. Jasim Al-Azzawi and Sir Trevor McDonald. We'll be calling on all of you again as the battle continues.
Tomorrow night, General Hugh Shelton will be with us, the former chairman of the joint chiefs and also John Howard, the prime minister of Australia. We close things out on a sad note tonight. Former United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan died today at the age of 76. He was a guest on this program a few times. He was a one-time New York City shoeshine boy, became a maverick scholar and politician, former U.N. ambassador, four-time senator, served both administrations, Republican and Democrat. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, larger than life, still larger in death. We will all miss him.
Aaron Brown is right around the corner. Heidi Collins is next with news headlines. I'm Larry King, see you tomorrow night. Good night.
COLLINS: Here's a look at the news this hour. It has now been one week, almost to the hour, since the first American bombs fell on Baghdad. Bombs fell again overnight in the capitol, a live look there now. Baghdad at 6:00 a.m.
And the Pentagon today defended U.S. progress in a week of waging war significant strikes against Iraqi command and control facilities in the capitol and elsewhere, dominant of the Iraqi skies.
Emergency aid brought into the south. Ground forces, more than 220 miles into enemy territory. Special forces operations south, west, and north of the capitol, where U.S. troops are paving the way for the arrival of heavy armor. Still, some Pentagon officials say the U.S. may have miscalculated the degree of resistance from Iraq's best trained defenders.
The U.N. Security Council held its first open debate on Iraq today. And the ambassador from the Arab League accused the U.S. of intending to redraw the map of the Middle East. The debate not about the war, but about the Oil for Food plan will continue tomorrow.
The war in Iraq has U.S. airlines crying for help. Industry lobbyists want federal money to help them weather a plunge in air travel. Since the war began, the airlines have cut 10,000 jobs. Advanced bookings are down 20 percent domestically, 40 percent internationally. And the airlines say they should not have to pay for making their planes safer. The industry got a $15 billion aid package after September 11, 2001.
One of the most well-known lawmakers of the latter 20th century has died today. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former New York shoeshine boy, grew up to become ambassador to the U.N. and four term U.S. senator before endorsing Hillary Clinton as his successor. He was in poor health lately, suffering from an infection after an appendectomy this month. Daniel Moynihan was 76.
Now CNN's continuing coverage of the war in Iraq, live from the front lines right now.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com