CNN INSIDE POLITICS
War in Iraq
Aired March 30, 2003 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for joining us. I am Candy Crowley in Washington. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of carrying out the U.S. war plans, defended his strategy and tactics today in a briefing with reporters. Here in the U.S., his words were echoed by the defense secretary and joint chiefs chairman.
Ahead this hour, the latest on coalition war planning, including a report from Central Command headquarters in Qatar. Also to come, my conversation with a unique group of Americans, combat veterans turned Washington political leaders talk about the war memories they can't forget.
And later, senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins me with new poll numbers on how Americans view this war and a look at the increased friction between the White House and news media.
Now for a look at the latest news on what's happening in and around the battle front, we go to Wolf Blitzer in Kuwait -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Candy. It's been another night of heavy coalition bombings in and around the city of Baghdad. Explosions and anti-aircraft fire are visible all around the city. An area near the center of Baghdad ignited in a massive blaze that appeared to be fueled by oil. It's not clear what caused this particular fire that filled the city skies with black smoke. Earlier today here on CNN's "LATE EDITION," the joint chiefs chairman, General Richard Myers, told me U.S. aircraft continue to target Iraq's Republican Guard divisions just outside the Iraqi capital.
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RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Today I think the number is over 50 percent of our air power will be directed at those divisions. Particularly the artillery, short range surface-to-surface missiles. Anything that can deliver, potentially deliver, chemical or biological weapons. And those air attacks are not just fixed wing air attacks, they're also Apache helicopters, Army Apache helicopters, and Cobra helicopters from the Marine Corps, will be working over these divisions.
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BLITZER: Also today, this dramatic gun battle was captured on tape near Basra where British forces reported the capture of five high-ranking Iraqi paramilitary leaders and a senior Iraqi official said to be a general.
Coalition troops continue to move supplies and aid into Iraq's deep water port, Umm Qasr, and are still working to distribute that aid to needy Iraqis in the region. A report now from ITN's Martin Geissler, who is embedded with British troops.
MARTIN GEISSLER, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Just a few days ago, the town of Umm Qasr was a battle ground. Now, the war has moved on, leaving a desperate and angry population in its wake. The people here beg every passing car for water. But efforts are now being made to help them to help themselves. These men are being hired to work at the town's port, recruited by the British Army, they will receive a decent wage by local standards. Just over 60 pence per day.
(on camera): Over the last few days, the military have been going into the town of Umm Qasr to recruit. Each time, they've been mobbed. These people are the lucky ones. They've been selected for jobs.
(voice-over): The first and most important task here, building a bond of trust.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trying to reassure them that we're here to stay until the job is complete. To make sure that the regime that they have had will end in the future.
GEISSLER: But that may take time. These youngsters told me they fear the coalition troops will leave and Saddam's forces will come back. The Army and the people here know a job is just the first step on the road to a new Iraq.
Martin Geissler, ITV News, Umm Qasr.
BLITZER: Some would suggest there, Candy, that the work in southern Iraq is only just beginning, let alone the rest of that huge country. I will be back at the top of the hour, a full hour of the latest developments in the war in Iraq on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Until then, back to Candy in Washington. Thanks, Candy.
CROWLEY: Thank you, Wolf. We will see you then.
We need to go back to you, Wolf, now, I understand?
BLITZER: All right, Candy, we are just getting -- a new picture coming in, live cameras, of Baghdad. We're seeing additional explosions coming in via Al-Jazeera television cameras. We're putting them up right now. It looks like the bombing strikes are indeed continuing in and around the Iraqi capital. It's been going on like this now, for hours tonight throughout the Iraqi capital. We're getting these fresh pictures coming in via Al-Jazeera. Heavy smoke coming in as well. We don't know if that's as a result of bombing or more oil fires that have been spotted throughout the Iraqi capital tonight.
Some speculation that some of those oil trenches have been ignited by the Iraqis themselves with the smoke, the black smoke, hovering over Iraq, it supposedly makes it more difficult for U.S. war planes to target various locations in and around the Iraqi capital. Although U.S. military officials insist that smoke has no impact whatsoever on the precision-guided, satellite-guided bombs that they launch. They are basically impervious to that kind of smoke. In any case, what's been going on for the past several hours clearly is continuing right now in Baghdad. Anti-aircraft artillery fire going up into the skies, more explosions, and yet more smoke hovering over the skies of Baghdad. Another rough night for the people of Baghdad -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Wolf, we will see you again at the top of the hour.
U.S. commanders say there will be no pauses or cease-fires on the ground in the invasion of Iraq and they're denying reports that Pentagon leaders balked at the number of troops needed for the assault. To get more on today's CENTCOM briefing from CNN's Tom Mintier.
TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the moment he walked into the room, it was obvious General Tommy Franks had a lot to get off his chest.
GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, COMMANDER OF U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: And where we stand today is not only acceptable in my view, it is truly remarkable.
MINTIER: General Franks denied the U.S. invasion force had been caught short-handed. He said the reinforcements on their way are part of the original plan, not an emergency call-up. The most interesting assessment may have been about Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein.
FRANKS: I don't know whether the leader of this regime is dead or alive. I don't know. Perhaps someone knows, but I don't know. I will say this -- I am not seeing credible evidence over the last period of days since we started this operation that this regime is being controlled from the top.
MINTIER: CENTCOM sources say the number of oil field trenches burning around Baghdad has increased dramatically, up from 19 to 50 now. Spewing black smoke that CENTCOM officials say harms the environment but has little or no effect on the air campaign. A question that is frequently asked here was repeated on Sunday. How long is this war going to continue, and would it last into the summer?
FRANKS: One never knows how long a war will take. We don't know. But what we do know is that this coalition sees this regime gone at the end of that war. MINTIER (on camera): A senior CENTCOM official also tells CNN at least one Iraqi general captured in western Iraq is providing is useful information to coalition forces. He led them to a weapons cache that included 26 surface-to-air missiles and six anti-aircraft weapons. That would mean there are now two Iraqi generals in coalition hands.
Tom Mintier, CNN at CENTCOM headquarters, Doha, Qatar.
CROWLEY: We want to take you back now to some of these pictures we showed you earlier from Baghdad. They're coming via Al- Jazeera, the Arab TV network, which says that what you are looking at and what we saw was one strike in the western part of the city. That is one strike tonight in the western part of Baghdad.
Now, the battle for Baghdad may be one of the most high-tech in the history of warfare, but you may not know that the same technology that ensures coalition bombs hit their targets could be in your car. Information you don't want to miss, and it is coming up in less than two minutes.
CROWLEY: We've heard a lot so far about precision-guided strikes in this war. That means coalition forces are using weapons, missiles, and bombs that don't rely on chance to hit their targets. Many of them use what's called GPS technologies. CNN's Miles O'Brien is with a man who knows a lot about that, retired Navy captain Alec Fraser. Gentlemen.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Candy. GPS, global positioning system. It's in the consumer market now. A lot of people just who go hiking have small GPS receivers, so it is not a concept that is unfamiliar to people now. But we'll explain here a little bit with the help of Alec Fraser, exactly how this comes to bear on the battlefield. It is worth pointing out, back in '91, GPS was brand new and didn't have, really, full coverage over the battlefield in Iraq. I think at that time, only 10 percent of the weapons were precision guided in total. Just the opposite this go around, 90 percent precision guided. And let's explain how it works. Alec, the GPS constellation up there at about 10, 11...
ALEC FRASER, NAVY CAPTAIN (RET): Eleven thousand miles, 24 of them, constantly circling. They're stationary while the globe rotates underneath it. They're providing a time signal, a time signal, within three-billionths of a second that's correct, and any person that has a receiver anywhere on the earth, whether it's the lead Humvee, or 7th Cavalry, or a cruise missile, or a JDAM being dropped, can clue into that time signal and hit the right spot.
O'BRIEN: And ideally you want to have -- to be able to see four of these satellites to triangulate your position, right?
FRASER: Right. It will give you latitude, longitude, and altitude at the same time.
O'BRIEN: Let me say what we are showing here. This is a scenario where there might be some sort of jamming caused by a GPS jammer in center of Baghdad. It sends out that yellow signal you are seeing there. Would that in fact thwart a GPS-guided bomb? The U.S. military says no. That not only are the antennas tuned in a way that it wouldn't be thwarted by that jamming capability, but also, those bombs also have an internal gyroscope, a spinning top, if you will, which has the ability to navigate as well.
FRASER: Right. As bombs go in, they're given latitude, longitude and where to hit. If for some reason they lose the signal, either an internal problem with the GPS, or perhaps there was jamming, but the antennas in the back of the bomb, it's doubtful that would happen, then it goes to inertial system and still goes to the original position it was headed to.
O'BRIEN: All right. And jamming is a lot like you and I having a conversation and somebody trying to shout while we are doing it, in other words, trying overpower the entire thing. Let's look at another scenario we have put together here showing a B-2 stealth bomber, which is in and of itself is guided by GPS as we've depicted with these yellow lines. It looks like marionette stings there. Those are actually indicating GPS signals coming in. As it finds a target that it's pre-identified, it goes down and it drops a JDAM, as it is called. It in and of itself, has its own capability of being guided in on GPS. The precision on these is tremendous, isn't it?
FRASER: The precision is, as you can see in this video a second ago, is that you can hit a tank in the middle of the desert from a plane that's dropped a bomb 30 miles away.
O'BRIEN: What -- of course, the other type of precision weaponry that we know about are laser guided. In other words, somebody designates with a laser beam, and that follows down to that designated site. Are those less used now that GPS is used so much?
FRASER: I think we're using both. It depends on the aircraft that's in the air, and the target, and whether the target is moving or not. If it's moving, the laser will give you more accuracy.
O'BRIEN: Of course, we should point out this thing is not a panacea. If you find a target on the map and the target is wrong, as we witnessed in the Kosovo campaign, that Chinese embassy that was hit. It was a precision-guided -- it was just at the wrong place.
FRASER: Right, but it also lets you be able to hit a building that has military significance to it, but miss the hospital that's next door. So it provides a whole new way of doing warfare that we didn't have before in '91, or at least not as much of it.
O'BRIEN: All right. Alec Fraser, retired Navy captain, thanks very much for guiding us through global positioning and how it comes to bear on the battlefield -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Miles. U.S. combat veterans and the things they can't forget. My conversation with some Washington leaders who fought for their country just ahead.
Also, the Senate Majority Leader travels to Ft. Campbell and meets with families of those serving in the 101st Airborne.
CROWLEY: On the home front, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist today traveled to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Frist met with families of those serving with the Army's 101st Airborne based at Ft. Campbell. Afterwards the senator vowed the U.S. will win this war.
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SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: It's surprising that any human being, any human being, can commit the offenses that Saddam Hussein is doing both now but also has this long history of doing. But that's what we need to prevent. That's why this nexus of weapons of mass destruction, coupled with a mind like Saddam Hussein, who is actually harboring terrorists, needs to be stopped. And we will stop him and we will win this war.
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CROWLEY: For many people, the war in Iraq holds echoes of other battles in other wars. It's been decades since bullets and napalm rattled and burned the jungles of Vietnam. But for those who fought in that war and others, the images in Iraq are familiar.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Senator Daniel Inouye will be 79 this year. He was 18 when he went to war, one of the greatest generation. Sometimes at night he sees the faces of the Germans he killed.
SEN. DANIEL INOUYE (D), HAWAII: He couldn't speak English. He reached under his jacket and I thought, well, he's going for a gun, I have no choice. His hand flew out. In his hands were photographs of his wife and kids.
CROWLEY: It's been 50 years since the Korean War. Two generations have read about it in history class. Congressman Charlie Rangel sees it in his head. That first day he set foot on the Korean peninsula.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL, (D), NEW YORK: We only saw strange looking people, dead for days, with animals dead. And it was as though you were walking through a cemetery where they had forgotten to bury the people.
CROWLEY: Three decades have passed since the war in Vietnam. Senator Chuck Hagel still hears it.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: The thing that among other things that always sticks with me is the whistle of bullets stripping jungles. When a machine gun opens up or automatic weapon opens up, in a jungle where there's great foliage, the whistle sounds, not just the rat-tat-tat from a gun, but what those bullets do to strip a jungle.
CROWLEY: It's strange the things they took from battle and carried 30-40-50 years into the future. What lingers for one of the most highly decorated pilots of Vietnam, the war's first ace, is a feeling of being helpless.
REP. "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM (R), CALIFORNIA: I remember watching an airplane, forward air controller that was hit. And I saw his airplane on fire. And we just said, "get out of the airplane, get out of the airplane." Like watching a baby carriage go across a highway with traffic and you know you can't get there in time.
CROWLEY: Decorated for courage under fire, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge still sees the poetry of nighttime over Vietnam.
TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Nights, if you had time to think about them and look up at the stars, were beautiful. They're beautiful because there's no artificial illumination. You were in the middle of nowhere. And so on a moon-lit night, it's just -- it's almost like dusk or dawn, that's how bright it is. And it's very quiet sometimes, eerily quite.
CROWLEY: Their stories, when you read them, are so different when they tell them. Charlie Rangel, his medal attached, led 40 men out from behind enemy lines in Korea.
RANGEL: While I had a compass and got ahold of a map, I didn't have the slightest idea where I was going. We were surrounded. And I would imagine there are a lot of heroes that just went the wrong way. The wrong way.
CROWLEY: It's the one thing they all carried into the decade's past war, an appreciation not just of life, but of the randomness of death.
RANGEL: Just walk by the wall, you know good soldiers who did everything they were trained to do well. But they didn't come home.
CROWLEY: Bombs and missiles are creating some of the most dramatic images of the war in Iraq. But some of the more frightening combat encounters don't involve Iraqi troops at all. Just the items they've left behind. That's coming up just ahead.
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CROWLEY: The 7th Marines are on a key mission in central Iraq. They are fanning out to villages and towns in the region to search for paramilitary groups that might attack the vital coalition supply lines. And they're also involved in another key, maybe tougher mission, trying to win over hearts and minds. CNN's Martin Savidge is embedded with the 7th Marines.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. Marines here who have been involved for days trying to patrol and secure the supply lines that reach all the way back to northern Kuwait have now taken a more proactive stance. Instead of just patrolling the highways, they are heading into the villages and towns in this region, trying to find out if there are any hideouts or headquarters for the paramilitary units that have been striking at supply lines and striking at U.S. military forces. We rode along with one mission today, riding in the back of an armored personnel carrier.
As these loud rumbling APCs moved in on one side of the village, before daylight, there were already Marines on foot in place on the other side, prepared to catch anybody that might fleeing from the other direction. When the Marines got into town, though, it wasn't a matter of just kicking down doors and looking for people. Instead, it took a much more subtle approach, trying to find the senior elder in the village, or the sheikh, to talk to him, realizing that he'd be the senior person and probably the best in the know. They found him and had a long conversation with him. He put their minds not totally at easy, but did seem to satisfy them that he said the paramilitary units that had been active in this area had already left, and had done so days ago.
And then what had been search and destroy became a humanitarian mission because the villagers had their own problems. It seems Iraqi soldiers, a number of days ago, had shut off the water supply to their little town. As a result, many of the children were becoming ill, drinking out of the ditches in culverts for water, the only place where they could find water. Marine Corps now realized it had a new mission -- get to the pumping station, get the water back on. And they know that it will go a long way in helping their effort here in Iraq. Helping get the hearts and minds of the average Iraqi people on their side.
Martin Savidge, CNN, central Iraq.
CROWLEY: Ten million, that's the number of land mines believed hidden in the dangerous landscape of Iraq. British military engineers are among those charged with the task of digging them up and clearing the way for advancing coalition forces. CNN's Richard Blystone says it's a job that requires skill, patience, and as you may imagine, a very gentle touch.
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RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): British Royal Engineers showing us CNN Kuwait how not to fall prey to warfare's dirtiest trick, mines. The coalition says its forces aren't using mines now, but the engineers say there may be 10 million Iraqi laid mines around Iraq. Mines newly planted and others left over from Iraq's two wars in the last quarter century. British engineers are charged with clearing living and working space in southern Iraq for troops, aid workers, and Iraqi civilians, and marking off danger areas with signs that look uncomfortably like grave markers. Not only mines but unexploded munitions. They say one in every five bombs, bomblets, and artillery shells doesn't go off, and lies in wait, sometimes years, for the unwary or unlucky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you need to see is something...
BLYSTONE: This team will be showing people how to spot danger and stay away from it. And if you get caught in a mine field, how to get out in one piece.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After we've extracted, however long that may be, you are going to get 70 more (UNINTELLIGIBLE) come in there and clear the area, and that could take years. Absolutely.
BLYSTONE: Mines are expensive to clear, but cheap to buy. Humanitarian organizations say there are 100 million of them planted around the world. And nine out of 10 of the victims are civilians. This exercise tells you not only about mines, it tells you what a blessing it is to live in a place where you don't have to watch every day where you're putting your feet.
Richard Blystone, CNN, Kuwait.
CROWLEY: Just ahead, it's another day of protest in the U.S. and around the world. We'll check out some of the anti-war demonstrations and support the troop rallies.
CROWLEY: The U.S. war effort, specifically U.S. war planning, has come in for increased media scrutiny in recent days. The skepticism is not sitting well with members of the Bush administration. With me now for more on this and a little sample of public opinion is CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Bill, what's behind the sniping between administration and press?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: The press has sent contrasting reports those U.S. forces are meeting tougher resistance than expected with earlier forecasts from some administration officials that U.S. forces might be welcomed as liberators. Like what Vice President Dick Cheney said on "Meet The Press" on March 16.
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RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The read we did on the people of Iraq is there's no question they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein. And they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.
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SCHNEIDER: The administration is particularly irritated at the way the press went from the Persian Gulf model in the first couple of days, quick and easy, to the Vietnam War model, when the thing started to get tough. Here's what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday.
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DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have seen mood swings in the media from highs to lows to highs and back again, sometimes in a single 24-hour period.
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SCHNEIDER: The press claims they're just reporting what they're hearing from troops on the ground and some Pentagon officials.
CROWLEY: So while it's awfully interesting to us what the media thinks, what does the American public think? Do they feel misled by the Bush administration?
SCHNEIDER: In a way, Candy, they do. The CNN/Time poll Thursday night asked people, was the U.S. government too optimistic in what it told the public was likely to happen in the war? Most Americans say, yes, it was. The White House insists it wasn't. But there were instances, which you saw when Pentagon officials and the vice president predicted a short, decisive conflict where the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators.
Despite the upbeat talk from the White House, Americans are aware that this war is going to be longer and tougher than they originally believed, or were led to believe.
Now what's striking is, that realization has had no noticeable effect on public support for the war, which remains high, at 70 percent. Why not? Here's one reason. In a CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll taken yesterday, two-thirds of Americans describe the difficulties faced by U.S. troops in Iraq as minor setbacks. Another 11 percent said there was nothing to worry about. Which means three- quarters of Americans thinks the problems the U.S. is facing in Iraq are no big deal. That is why people don't feel betrayed or misled by those optimistic forecasts.
CROWLEY: One of the things I noticed in the polls before coming up here was just that people felt they had a good feel for why this war was necessary. But it seems to me there are also signs when it really just comes down to one person.
SCHNEIDER: Well, more and more, Candy, it actually does. The administration believes if the U.S. gets Saddam Hussein, the war will end quickly. The very first strike, the first night, was aimed at exactly doing that. Would Americans consider it a victory if the U.S. achieves most of its goals in Iraq, but it does not capture or kill Saddam Hussein? Sixty-two percent say no, up from 54 percent last month. Americans want him. They want him -- what? They want him killed in Iraq. Not captured and put on trial. Not ousted, killed.
Last week, a military spokesman said this war is not about one man. But to the American public, more and more, it is.
CROWLEY: Has shades of the beginning of the war over Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, when it became bin Laden?
SCHNEIDER: It was about bin Laden and Americans said they wanted bin Laden. We didn't, not yet. And he's sort of a forgotten man right now.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Bill. Senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
The war in Iraq continues to stir anger in the United States and abroad. And protesters are still speaking out. A huge crowd took to the streets today in Jakarta, Indonesia to rally against the war. They marched from the British embassy to the American embassy. Some estimates say up to 300,000 people took part in the Jakarta protest.
Here in the United States, the voices of dissent are also speaking out. Anti-war protesters gathered today for a march and rally in Philadelphia, the birthplace of America's freedom. President Bush visits the Pennsylvania's city tomorrow to talk about port security.
While many Americans speak out against the war, others are showing up at rallies to show support for the country's troops. Rallies have been held across the state of Florida this weekend, including this one in Miami's Little Havana. Among those marching were Cuban exiles, Venezuelans, Dominicans and other Latin Americans. Support the troop rallies also taking place this weekend in California. This rally was at Camp Pendleton, where many of the troops in the Persian Gulf region are based.
For the second straight weekend, President Bush is tracking war developments or was tracking war developments from the presidential retreat of Camp David, Maryland. CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash is standing by with more. Dana, what do we know about his activities up there this weekend?
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know we didn't see him this weekend. Last weekend, we got a photo release from the White House of the president meeting with his war council. Not this weekend. He did in fact have some consultations with his war council this past weekend, but he did it mostly by videoconference. He has every kind of technology you can imagine up at Camp David. So he is connected with his top officials on national security matters and he did consult with them, we are told, this weekend.
But as you said, the president is back here. It's sort of noteworthy, on this spring day the president had to drive back to the White House because it snowed at the end of March in spring. But we are told that the president is obviously going to be here today. He will be monitoring events. And he, as we heard this morning, let some of his top defense aides have the -- have a go at it on all of the Sunday shows, talking up their message, and their message, of course, being one of patience, saying that the war is on track and that the American people need to understand that it's only been 11 days, and it's much too early to write its history. That's what we've heard from the White House over the past week and we'll continue to hear that in the days to come -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Dana, tell me about the trip tomorrow to Pennsylvania on port security. It seems to me it's a little off topic of the war. We know the president is sort of the main spokesperson getting out there for reassuring the American people. Will that be sort of a mixture of homeland and the war? What do you expect?
BASH: It's likely to be a mixture of homeland and the war. Of course, homeland security has been something that the White House leading up to this war had been focused on, primarily because there had been a lot of fear both because of intelligence reports and just because of sort of public fear, that the war would ignite some terrorist attacks on the homeland.
Now obviously we haven't seen that yet. But the president is still focused on homeland issues. The White House tells us that he is still focused more broadly on domestic issues. And as you said tomorrow, he will be going to the port of Philadelphia to talk about homeland security. I'm told by a senior administration official that he is likely to talk about some broader domestic issues in the week ahead. We'll likely see him like we did last week, but we should listen for some comments from him on the domestic agenda in addition to what is going on in Iraq.
CROWLEY: CNN's Dana Bash at the White House, out of the spring snowstorm. Thanks, Dana.
They're often dusty, they don't get enough sleep, and they are always on the go. Yes, that describes the Marines. But when we return, an embedded journalist gives us his own spellbinding look at the war in Iraq from the front lines.
CROWLEY: And now a report on comments made today by renowned war correspondent Peter Arnett. In an interview on Iraqi state TV, Arnett said his war reporting from Baghdad is helpful to Americans opposed to the war with Iraq. Arnett went on to tell the Iraqi state TV that the U.S. war plan against Iraq has failed. Arnett, who's reporting from Iraq, as seen on NBC News outlets, was interviewed on Iraqi TV by a man wearing an Iraqi army uniform.
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PETER ARNETT, NBC NATL. GEOGRAPHIC: It is clear that within the United States, there is growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war and also opposition to the war. So our reports about civilian casualties here, about the resistance of the Iraqi forces, are going back to the United States. It helps those who oppose the war and who challenge the policy to develop their arguments.
The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they're trying to write another war plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Arnett in the interview also thanked the Iraqi government for the hospitality he said it has extended to international journalists in Baghdad. He did not mention that Iraqi officials have in recent days expelled several journalists, including CNN's Baghdad reporting team, and apparently imprisoned at least two other American journalists from "News Day." Arnett is a former CNN correspondent, who is now employed by National Geographic Television, which is providing Arnett's Iraq reporting exclusively to NBC News. NBC News issued a statement supporting Arnett, saying that Arnett gave the interview to Iraqi TV as a professional courtesy and that his remarks were analytical in nature and not intended to be anything more.
A transcript of the entire Iraqi TV interview can be found on the CNN Web site at CNN.com.
Unlike Vietnam and Korea, the war in Iraq is getting unprecedented coverage. Many of the best pictures are coming from journalists embedded with coalition troops. Even the first war in Iraq wasn't brought into American living rooms like this one is. CNN's Walter Rodgers is embedded with the 3-7th and shares some scenes from his war diary.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The situation here appears to be increasingly tense. A few moments ago, out on the horizon, not very far ahead of the U.S. Army's 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, we heard more than a few explosions.
The U.S. Army's 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry has compiled a rather extraordinary record in the past several days. It was the first unit to cross the Euphrates River and then punch northward to within 60 miles of Baghdad.
It was the Army which assigned me to the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, and that was extremely fortuitous. It was like sitting in a poker game and drawing four aces, because this is a crack unit. It's the tip of the tip of the spear. We've had an absolutely terrific story, pushing forward north toward Baghdad. Seventy-two hours of that was under constant fire coming at us from both sides of the road.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just heard an incoming -- what the hell!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, I don't know what it is.
RODGERS: Recall Winston Churchill's old quote, "There's nothing so exhilarating as being shot at and missed." What you try to do is stay calm and continue your broadcasting. The worst thing you can do, either as a soldier or as a war correspondent is panic.
We're hearing incoming. We're not sure what it is. We see some stuff in the sky. We may have to break this off. I think we're going to break off this live shot for the time being. We're not sure what we see up there. Goodbye. We've got to dive for vehicles, we think. See you. Bye. We have under heavy fire for the past couple of miles. Mostly small arms fire, but the sand storm has enabled the Iraqis to come very close to the road, and if I sound a little nervous, it's because we're in the soft skin vehicle and everybody else is in armor.
We'd like to now show you what we call Old Betsy (ph), a re-used, secondhand U.S. Army Humvee that we've been traveling with. Any bullet will pass through it, even a .22 caliber bullet. You can see our body armor draped on the door. This is what we've literally been living in. This is the kitchen, when we're down, and we're very fortunate, because we've got a teapot. That's my cubby hole. It's extraordinary cramped, because (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sandbag the floor, in case we hit a mine. That's all the space I have to eat and sleep in.
You don't sleep. You really don't sleep out here. Of course, you're on an adrenaline high, but racing across the desert, you know that you're traveling toward the jaws of what could be a major military battle.
You have to realize, they've been riding along, bouncing along in these tanks for probably six or more hours now. And if you ride inside that tank, it is like riding in the bowels of a dragon. They roar, they screech.
The hardest part of the trip is personal discomfort. We cannot tell you the levels of personal discomfort we've experienced. The extraordinary sandstorms, the bitter cold nights. The most uncomfortable thing is having to sleep sitting up in a Humvee with sandbags under your feet, your knees at your chin. That's excruciatingly uncomfortable, not something that you would wish on anybody but a contortionist.
Let me give you an example of what the dust like. Look at this. We have been through days of dust like that.
The U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry has just taken three Iraqi prisoners of war. Actually, they're very close, that is to say, no more than 40 yards away, but the dust and sand are blowing so badly you're getting these vague images. It's like being in a blizzard, except unfortunately, the sand doesn't melt as the snow does.
What we eat is what the Army calls MREs, meals ready to eat. And I must say, they're pretty darn good. And of course, everybody fights for the best ones. The treats are things like the M&Ms and the breakfast toasties. The Army is eating much, much better than the grandfathers of these soldiers did and the great grandfathers of these soldiers in the Second World War.
Let me hold the camera and show you my crew. On camera left is Charlie Miller (ph), he's been our superb and intrepid cameraman. On my right is Jeff Barweis (ph), a brilliant satellite engineer. That's the crew which really brings you these pictures.
The pictures you're seeing are absolutely phenomenal. These are live pictures of the 7th Cavalry racing across the desert. You've never seen battlefield pictures like these before. What you're watching here is truly historic television and journalism.
CROWLEY: Walter Rodgers with the 3-7th. Just ahead we'll have the latest on today's suicide bombing in Israel. A report from CNN's Kelly Wallace when we return.
CROWLEY: We will be back later on the war in Iraq. But first, we want to go somewhere else in the region to tell you that dozens were injured today in the first suicide bombing in Israel in three weeks. CNN's Kelly Wallace reports on today's attack in Netanya.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It had been very quiet inside Israel since the start of the U.s.-led war against Iraq. Many Israelis were fearing that quiet would come to an end. And it did on this day. Police say a suicide bomber blew himself up outside this cafe, called The London Cafe, earlier Sunday afternoon. We can show you some pictures from earlier Sunday. People here tell us the cafe was filled with people enjoying the spring weather. Many here though say they are relieved only one person dead, the suicide bomber. Dozens, though, injured, including some Israeli soldiers, because according to an eyewitness, he said many soldiers were here also enjoying the spring weather.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then it was big bomb. And many soldier. Two soldiers were down here. Many blood. Many people skip from here. Big paranoia.
WALLACE: There had been many terrorist attacks here in Netanya, including the deadliest suicide bombing ever in Israel almost exactly a year ago, March 27, at the Park Hotel during Passover, 29 people killed in that attack.
As for this attack, the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad is claiming responsibility. According to a leaflet from the group obtained by CNN, the group says the attack was to show the union of Palestinians with the people of Iraq.
The group is also claiming that Islamic Jihad militants are already inside Iraq to carry out attacks against U.S. and British forces.
Israel has been on a heightened state of alert since the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq. And now many Israelis fear they could see more attacks like the one they saw here today as the military campaign against Saddam Hussein continues.
I'm Kelly Wallace, CNN, reporting from Netanyahu, Israel.
CROWLEY: A baseball legend rallies the troops. Up next, pitching great Roger Clemens talks about his experiences meeting U.S. service members in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.
CROWLEY: With the war on Iraq well into its second week, at home we try to carry on a normal life. For many Americans, pastime will provide a welcome relief from talk of war. One major leaguer wants to keep the focus on the war to keep morale of the troops up. For him the off-season was more than just training. Our Josie Karp sat down with New York's Yankee's pitcher Roger Clemens.
JOSIE KARP, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You had an opportunity to do something very unique, to go over to the Middle East. What was that experience like?
ROGER CLEMENS: We saw 15,000, 20,000 troops. Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait, and out into the sea. I was tired when I got home, but I tried to keep my energy up and let those guys know we appreciate it. If that means shaking hands or signing that many autographs, that's what we did. And just to have the opportunity to go over there to thank them, from all the guys in major league baseball, all Americans, to remind them why they were over there, especially now when people are doubting our strength as a nation. I mean it was incredible. Their energy, their excitement about what they may have to do to protect us. So I can go out here and throw a baseball.
KARP: In your profession, you're around a lot of 20-year-olds a lot of the time. How are the 20-year-olds that you met over there different from these 20-year-olds?
CLEMENS: No contest. They are so much more mature. They run laps around the people here at home. I've seen the most mature 20, 21, 22-year-old men and women that I've ever ran into. And that were excited about their job and what they do. It makes what I do seem so minor. I saw some of them out there on the mid part of that ship, on that deck, throwing these F-16's these planes off the ship. And man, it was like clockwork. They got out there and they jumped, they pushed six or seven planes off there in three minutes. It was something I'll remember forever.
KARP: Is there any image or meeting any person that's really stuck with you since you've returned home?
CLEMENS: I met a couple of soldiers that really felt if something happens, they're not going to come home, if I would write their family. It really busted me up. It really shook me down. I told some of our reporters, it threw me back. I wasn't ready for that.
CROWLEY: This year's baseball season kicks off tonight, as last year's world series champs the Anaheim Angels take on the Texas Rangers. That is it for now for this hour. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Thanks for joining me. WOLF BLITZER REPORTS starts right now.
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