CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Push to Baghdad Begins; POW Safe in Army's Care
Aired April 2, 2003 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Target Baghdad. The push to the capital is on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The speed is a push to Baghdad, seems to have gathered pace. In fact, it's going much faster than many of the U.S. commanders on the ground predicted.
A dramatic rescue. Now a once-missing soldier is safe and her family is grateful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They went in, executed it and came out with my sister safe and sound. So I give them great thanks.
ANNOUNCER: Cheers in the heart of Iraq. Coalition forces finally get the welcome they were hoping for.
CNN live this hour. Judy Woodruff reports from Washington with correspondents from around the world. A special edition of "INSIDE POLITICS," the war in Iraq, starts right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. You heard live on CNN a short time ago White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president is happy and proud about the rescue in Iraq of missing soldier Jessica Lynch. An effort, he said, the president did have general knowledge about before it happened. But he also indicated that in this operation, as in others, Mr. Bush let commanders in the field make the final decision. Lynch is due to arrive for treatment in Germany a little more than an hour from now. We'll have more on her story ahead.
Plus, why are Democrats so quiet about the progress of the war? I'll ask a top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joe Biden.
And military brass versus the retired generals. Our Jeff Greenfield will offer his take on the second-guessing about the Iraq war plan.
All that ahead. But, first, let's go to Kuwait City and my colleague Wolf Blitzer. Hello, again, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Judy. Thank you very much. As of an hour or so ago, we got word from the battlefield that U.S. forces were just 15 miles away from the southern edge of Baghdad. And they may be even closer right now. The toughest fight, though, may lie ahead in the heart of the Iraqi capital. Pentagon sources say the first phase of the final push into Baghdad is now under way. U.S.-led forces were able to press farther north after defeating Iraqi Republican Guard units at Karbala and Kut (ph). Our embedded reporters say the two-pronged advance appears to be moving faster than commanders expected. The Pentagon says two of the Republican Guard divisions defending Baghdad are no longer credible forces. Scenes from Najaf may also be bolstering the troops' spirit. Iraqis who initially were cautious when U.S. forces arrived in Najaf ended cheering them on, shaking their hands and patting their backs.
U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry is in the forefront of U.S. troops since they first left Kuwait and crossed directly into the Iraqi desert. Our Walter Rodgers is embedded with the unit's 3rd Squadron, which is leading the 3rd Infantry Division's march toward the Iraqi capital.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Throughout the day, as the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry punched northward in the general direction of Baghdad, we have seen huge convoys of supply troops moving ever northward. Indeed, all the arrows on the Army's map seem to be pointing in the direction of the southern suburbs of Baghdad. Earlier in the day, the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division took Karbala with a minimum of fight. And then the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division secured the town of Karbala. Additionally, the 7th Cavalry has pushed onward in the general direction of Baghdad. Yesterday we were about 50 miles from the southern suburbs of Baghdad. We have perhaps have that distance.
Throughout the day, we have watched the 3rd Infantry Division bring in prisoners of war. Iraqi soldiers glad the war is over for them, perhaps 100 at a time. There were times when the 7th Cavalry itself got into some skirmishes as it pushed forward, again in the direction of Baghdad. There was a bit of a firefight when the 7th Cavalry came upon three Soviet vintage 20- millimeter anti-aircraft guns, ack-ack guns. The Iraqi unit in possession of those guns fired mortars in the direction of the 7th Cavalry. The Apache troop opened its tank guns, opened its own mortars, decimated that unit, put it out of existence and probably killed some 20 Iraqis in the process. This as it continues to push ever closer towards the southern suburbs of Baghdad.
Walter Rodgers, CNN, with the U.S. 7th Cavalry in the Iraqi desert.
BLITZER: And it's a similar story from CNN's Karl Penhaul who is now just miles from the southern outskirts of the Iraqi capital. He's embedded with the U.S. Army's 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment. Here's his report just filed a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The speed as they push to Baghdad seems to have gathered pace overnight and in the course of this morning. In fact, it's going much faster than many of the U.S. commanders on the ground predicted.
CAPT. BRIAN MCCORT, PILOT: The intensity it's very quick moving, very fluid battle. The armor, and mechanized infantry, and artillery pieces and personnel on the ground are moving at rapid speeds.
PENHAUL: Overnight and early this morning, the tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles of the 3rd Infantry Division backed by the Apache attack helicopters of the 11th Aviation Regiment punched through the Republican Guard defenses in and around Karbala. They were then able to advance far north of that city and, as we speak, U.S. commanders tell me that elements of the 3rd Infantry Division are now literally just a few miles from Baghdad.
BLITZER: That's CNN's Karl Penhaul with the very latest from the battlefront. Let's get an update now on casualties on Operation Iraqi Freedom. Military officials say 39 Americans have been killed in combat, 9 more by friendly fire or an accident. Britain reports 6 of its troops have been killed by combat, 19 more in nonhostile action and 2 deaths have not been classified. Iraq does not report on its military casualties, but Iraqi officials say 420 civilians have been killed and about 4,000 injured. U.S. Central Command says 4,500 Iraqis have been taken prisoner. Seven Americans remain prisoners of war in Iraq and 15 Americans are listed as missing in action. One less than yesterday after that dramatic rescue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch.
Judy, in the next hour, on our special "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS," I'm going to be speaking live to her older brother who is in the Army, her younger sister who wants to be in the Army, just around the same time as Jessica is going to be arriving at Ramstein, the air base in Germany for some serious medical treatment. That's all coming up on our special edition of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" at the top of the hour.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf, and we will be watching. Thanks very much.
Well, at the Pentagon briefing this afternoon, officials describing several units of the Republican Guard as effectively no longer being a credible fighting force. Let's get the very latest from the Pentagon for the overall war picture as they see it. Our Jamie McIntyre our senior military affairs correspondent is with us now. Hello, again, Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SNR. MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well Judy, the Pentagon is beginning to see positive signs that it hadn't seen for awhile. First of all, as we saw just a few moments ago on CNN, the pictures of some of the actual happy Iraqi citizens welcoming U.S. troops, that taking place in Najaf. Also the Pentagon is seeing lighter than expected resistance indicating at least that they may have really seriously degraded those Republican Guard divisions before the U.S. troops arrived, both in Karbala and also in Al Kut. They met lighter than expected resistance.
But the Pentagon officials stress that as they close in on Baghdad, this becomes the real dangerous part as they enter that so- called red zone where Saddam Hussein is believed to have given his commanders authority to use chemical weapons, and that use of chemical weapons remains a real fear at the Pentagon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, JOINT CHIEFS, VICE DIR.: We are not expecting to drive into Baghdad suddenly and seize it in a coup de mains, or anything like that. So, in regard to that, we are paying great attention to their ability to defend on the ground. They may just suddenly be effective on the ground. Additionally, their ability to use chemical and biological weapons, they've proven it historically. We believe they have the capability now. Clearly, as we threaten the core of the regime, which Baghdad and Tikrit represent, we believe that the likelihood of them using those weapons goes up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In less than 24 hours, the U.S. 101st Airborne Division has driven Iraqi Fedayeen fighters from the key city of Najaf, pushed north in a several-pronged attack. The Army's 3rd Infantry has punched through Karbala, meeting only light resistance from the Medina Republican Guard, and moving along highway nine within 25 miles of Baghdad. At the same time, the Marines from the 1st Division have secured a key Tigris River crossing near Al Kut and reported to have essentially destroyed the combat fighting ability of that light infantry Baghdad division that was supposed to be providing defense down there.
At the U.S. Central Command briefing this morning at the forward headquarters in Doha, Qatar, General Vincent Brooks said that the U.S. would be continuing to approach Baghdad. He said, quote, "The dagger is clearly pointed at the heart of the regime now, and it will remain pointed at it," he said, "until the regime is gone." Judy.
WOODRUFF: Jamie, these descriptions of the weakening of the Republican Guard begin to bring back memories of the first Gulf War 12 years ago. Is there a chance that coalition forces could, at this point, be overestimating the strength of what's left of the opposition?
MCINTYRE: Well, they might be. And that might be a good thing. They are taking it very cautiously. No one, again, they stress the most dangerous part of this could be ahead. Could be urban combat. Could involve chemical weapons. Could be the most loyal fighters left as they draw into Baghdad. Could be a very dangerous time. They also are careful to point out that even while they say that the division has been destroyed, they don't mean every single person has been killed. Simply that its combat effectiveness has been eliminated - Judy.
WOODRUFF: We notice they said they did not want to use the word destroyed, in fact, they said let others do that.
Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.
WOODRUFF: Well, rescued American prisoner of war Jessica Lynch is expected to arrive at Ramstein air base in Germany just about an hour from now. CNN will have live coverage of her arrival. Lynch was rescued in a daring raid by U.S. forces on the Saddam hospital in Nasiriya. This nightscope video shows troops carrying the 19-year-old Army private to a Blackhawk helicopter. We know, though, that 11 bodies were also recovered in this operation, and military officials say they are working now to identify them. When she's in Germany, Lynch will be treated for bullet wounds and broken bones. She's reported to be in stable condition. She and more than a dozen other members of her Army maintenance unit were ambushed near Nasiriya more than a week ago.
WOODRUFF: Meantime in Palestine, West Virginia, there is a lot of joy over the news of Jessica Lynch's rescue. Her father, mother and other family members say they never gave up hope, despite their fears of what might have happened. And they say they are grateful to her rescuers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG LYNCH, JR, JESSICA LYNCH'S BROTHER: I can't really say how the military is functioning over there because I'm not there. But they are doing a job, you know, I don't know the thoughts of the soldiers, the men and women that went into that building and brought her out. They are heroes in my book.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: West Virginia's United States Senator Robert Byrd is also praising the rescue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: She was rescued in a daring effort by the brave Army rangers and Navy SEALS. And today she is safe. Safe. Safe once again. Her state of West Virginia is relieved. Her community is exuberant. Her family is overjoyed. I spoke with Jessica Lynch's father last evening and shared with him our thoughts and good wishes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Senator Byrd called the rescue miraculous.
We'll have more on the march toward Baghdad after a quick break. We preview the potential battles ahead and the strategies in play when we check in with our military analyst.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: U.S. forces moving ever closer to Baghdad, but military officials say they are not counting on capitulation. For a look at what might lie ahead for U.S. forces, let's turn to our Miles O'Brien in Atlanta.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Judy. To help guide us through all this discussion about red zones, and daggers and exactly what is the strength of the Republican Guard, we turn to Colonel Patrick Lang. He's retired with the United States Army. He spent some time in the Defence Intelligence Agency, among other things. Colonel, good to have you with us.
COL. PAT LANG (RET,), U.S. ARMY: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN: What do you suppose right now would be the governor on the forward advance? Is it the Republican Guard or is it the U.S. and coalition supply lines? Or both?
LANG: Well, they are close enough up to Baghdad now so that the supply line issue is probably not a big one since they had time to restock, food, fuel and ammunition. So, probably the main thing is combing through the rubble that the air force has left of these Republican Guard divisions to make sure there are no strong points that you leave behind, that could threaten your lines of supply once they get past. Once they are satisfied they are through all that, I would imaging there will be a pause while they start to reconnoiter into Baghdad, probing hard to see how much resistance there really is.
O'BRIEN: Well, let me ask you that. First of all, I just wanted to tell viewers where we just took our satellite imagery. This is that Karbala area which is about 50 miles from Baghdad. Baghdad is roughly in that direction from there. We know the vanguard is supposedly as close as 15 miles. One of the next key points along the way here is Saddam international airport. Do you suppose that is a key target right now?
LANG: Oh, I'm sure it is. I mean a feature of that importance would always be something you'd want to hold. And besides, as soon as you get control of it you'd be able to start using it for air operations, and put a survey team in there as soon as it's secured, and then start using it for helicopter operations, haul forward some big bladders of fuel to refuel helicopters and rearm them and things like that. And if the front stabilizes between there and the downtown Baghdad, they'll start using it for a fixed wing aircraft as well.
O'BRIEN: Now, as you go from Saddam International Airport into town you see there are some big, wide divided highways there. Control of these highways will be crucial won't it?
LANG: Yeah, these are the high-speed approaches into the heart of the city and armored forces like the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division just love high-speed approaches. They will try to go down those things, cutting the city up into sectors as best they can, and then work on the specific sectors of the city they think are a key terrain. I would think, probably, various facilities as well as major government buildings that they need to control to set up a new government.
O'BRIEN: It's a big city, about the size of Philadelphia or thereabouts. Some have said Chicago is a good analogy. Tremendous amount of force needed to control a city of that source, or am a wrong?
LANG: Well, it depends on the attitude of the populous, which is not clear yet. If the population, in fact, or at least a big part of them like the Shia half of the population, if they want to be liberated, then you can control them with a fairly small force. If, in fact, a lot of people in the city don't want to be liberated and you're never going to know that until you try, then you're going to need a much larger force, and we might end up waiting a couple of weeks for reinforcements.
O'BRIEN: Based on what you've seen so far, what is your sense of that? The Shias are a bit gun shy, if you will, in the south because of what happened in 1991. They rose up, didn't get American support. Do you suppose it will be a different story in Baghdad? Is there a lot of latent hatred for Saddam Hussein that will come out?
LANG: Yes, there is, but these folks are going to be mighty cautious. They have a long history of being kicked around by the Sunni Arab population of central Iraq. And they don't have any particular reason to trust us, so far. So they'll wait and see what happens. It's the other people in the city you have to worry about, who are ethnically much the same as the Saddam Hussein regime. And their behavior right now is unpredictable.
O'BRIEN: Colonel Patrick Lang, retired, United states Army, thanks for your insights. A man who has been to Baghdad many times and can tell us with great knowledge exactly what it's going to be like to fight on those avenues in that sprawling city of Baghdad - Judy.
WOODRUFF: Always helps Miles to hear a voice of experience. Thank you and thanks to Colonel Lang.
When we come back, hopes rising among investors. That means stocks were up today on Wall Street as they look at the progress of the war in Iraq. We're going to check in with Rhonda Schaffler at the stock exchange in just a moment.
WOODRUFF: Well, it certainly appears that Wall Street liked the news today from the battlefront. Our Rhonda Schaffler joins us live from the New York Stock Exchange with an eye on the war and the economy. Rhonda, they were looking up today.
WOODRUFF: Thanks, Rhonda. Coming up, we're getting an update across the board on war developments and other headlines this hour.
Plus, progress reports on the air and ground wars across the desert of Iraq.
WOODRUFF: As coalition forces push ahead in their march toward Baghdad, they have encountered some resistance in the Shiite holy city of Karbala. But American troops and their superior technology have turned out to be a key factor in the fighting there. And to the south, British forces continue their attack on targets around Basra. ITN correspondent Tim Ewart reports.
TIM EWART, ITN CORRESPONDENT: These are soldiers of the U.S. 3rd Infantry, fighting near Karbala, southwest of Baghdad. They are facing Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, his finest soldiers. But for all the resistance, coalition aircraft rule the skies and coalition technology is overwhelmingly superior. U.S. commanders believe the Republican Guard is a doomed force.
BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: We will approach Baghdad. The dagger is clearly pointed at the heart of the regime right now and will remain pointed at it until the regime is gone.
EWART: To the south, more black smoke over the town of Basra. British troops control the outskirts of the town, and today destroyed another building they said housed Iraqi fighters. There is much fear here of the Saddam loyalists who still hold sway in Basra and of the invading troops waiting at the gates.
(on camera): The Americans are racing towards Baghdad, the British still seem anxious to make their progress here as measured as possible. Basra will fall. But there may first be fighting in the capital, 250 miles to the north.
Tim Ewart, ITV News, southern Iraq.
WOODRUFF: From the south to the north in the rolling hills of northern Iraq, coalition air strikes targeted Iraqi positions today in what's been called a ferocious bombardment. It happened outside the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. CNN's Brent Sadler is there.
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A back road leading to Kirkuk, the heartland of northern Iraq's oil wealth. A road that's now in the hands of Iraqi Kurdish forces. Occupying these positions, strattled along a crescent-shaped front line east of Kirkuk. This land fell into Iraqi-Kurdish hands without a shot being fired. Iraqi soldiers fled these positions in a hurry, under the onslaught of coalition bombing. This is the end of the road for Kurdish forces manning this remote checkpoint. But with special permission, they let us through.
We are now between the lines, a no man's land of abandoned Iraqi bunkers and an unnerving silence, broken by the roar of warplanes and the distant surge of air strikes. This territory is within easy artillery range of Saddam Hussein's forces and circling Kirkuk. The oil capital of northern Iraq is visible behind me, just over there, a harmless flare of burning gases is easily identifiable. Iraq's precious oil field remain intact. Also intact, Kirkuk's defenses, in the distant haze. Iraq's armed opposition, including these Kurds, waits on the sidelines to join the fray, if America asks.
PRIME MINISTER BARHAM SALEH, KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOV.: This is about freedom for Iraq. This is about the liberation of Iraq, and we Iraqis must shoulder the responsibility of helping in the process of liberation.
SADLER: And, says the Iraqi opposition, in winning this war.
Brent Sadler, CNN, near Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
WOODRUFF: With U.S. forces rolling closer and closer to Baghdad, the military seems to be zeroing in on the ground war. But, as it has from the beginning, air power remains an important part of the battle. Let's check in with CNN's Gary Tuchman at an air base near Iraq. Gary you've seen it firsthand from the first moments.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Judy. In two weeks after the air war began, there is no let-up and no effective response from the Iraqis. According to the Air Force, at any given time, there are more 200 coalition aircraft either over Iraq, flying to Iraq or flying from Iraq.
We come to you from a base near the Iraqi border. Many pilots are flying these A-10 attack planes behind me. They also fly F-16s. There are also Marine FA-18s and Marine Heriers at this base. We can tell you that a lot of pilots of this base are not flying to another base in Iraq. It's a base that was taken over by the coalition last week. And we spent part of the day at that base. And when you arrive there, you are greeted in a sense by Saddam Hussein.
TUCHMAN: This is Talil, Iraq. The Talil Air Base. But the are no more Iraqis here, the coalition took over this base last week. It's now a major staging point. You know you are in Iraq when you drive down the road coming into the base and see the portrait of Saddam Hussein.
What's happen is the military personnel who have arrived here have taken out their markers and are writing messages on Saddam Hussein's portrait. You can see the main one here on the bottom and also here messages like, we won, April 1, 2003.
Want to give you a look. There's a lot of security personnel here. You can look over there and you can see the military vehicles. These are Air Force Security Forces with their rifles patrolling the entrance. There is a lot of fighting in this area. We're near the town of Nasiriya.
But this base now is considered secure enough to make it a major staging point for the coalition.
TUCHMAN: A short time ago we talked to a pilot at this base who has been to that Iraqi base and he too says he has signed that mural right on Saddam Hussein's sash. After he told us that, we asked him during his missions, and he's flown about 30 in the last two weeks, we asked him does he still have any artillery being fired at him?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday I was up just south of Baghdad by 30 miles and we were fighting SA-2s and SA-6s and AAA on the ground. So they're still out there.
But the air power and the air package that we take to the fight, we continue to be effective. And we attrit the Medina forces down to less than 50 percent. And when we put our power punch to them and then the Army and the Marines move forward it's a very effective, coordinated effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Lieutenant Colonel Webb (ph) is telling us he has a mission this very evening.
We want to tell you the Air Force has just informed us that between this morning and tomorrow morning, it will fly 1,900 sorties into Iraq. A total over the last two weeks now of close to 24,000 sorties.
Before we go, one more thing we want to tell you about, superstitions. Military people are very superstitious, like many of us are. Here at this particular base they get their MREs, their MREs are their Meals Ready to Eat. They come in a bag. And when you get an MRE you get your meal and you get a little treat with it. What a lot of people here at this base do, when their treat happens to be this one, this is the candy called Charms, many of the people refuse to eat their Charms. They consider it a good luck charm to keep their Charms in their clothes and not to eat them.
So one little superstitious tale for you, Judy. Back to you.
WOODRUFF: Well, I'm one of those who thinks that we need to pay attention to our superstitions. Gary, one another quick question for you. That air base that coalition forces have now taken control of near Nasiriya. Are you able to say, are they actually using it or getting much use out of it?
TUCHMAN: What they are doing, Judy, some of these A-10s behind me go there to refuel, to stage operations further north. They also fly these HH-60 helicopters, they're the search and rescue helicopters used in case they have to search and find somebody on the ground. They stage there and refuel. But right now, none of them are permanently based there, although the plan is for that to eventually happen.
WOODRUFF: All right, Gary Tuchman with some Charms. You saw him holding it.
I will be talking with a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joe Biden, just ahead, for his take on how the war is going.
Could Tony Blair be in line for a gold medal? Tales of how some in Congress want to honor the British prime minister.
WOODRUFF: A little while ago, as we look at these pictures, night scope pictures from last night, we heard from the White House a little more detail about the rescue of Private 1st Class Jessica Lynch who had been missing after her convoy was ambushed about a week ago.
Ari Fleischer saying President Bush had general knowledge yesterday before the rescue took place that it might happen. With me now our chief White House correspondent John King. John, it was interesting to many of us that the president would have had foreknowledge that this was coming.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, Ari Fleischer saying the president had a hint it was coming. Other sources telling us here at the White House that the president was told in some of his military briefings yesterday that there was the possibility this operation would be launched if the intelligence held up and if General Tommy Franks thought the operation would prove successful.
We also are told the follow-up reports were one of the items discussed this morning when the president met with his national security team. The White House a short time ago releasing a photo of that meeting.
Interesting here at the White House. Ari Fleischer saying the president received a hint of it, but they seem to be going to not great lengths to tell us very much about what the president was told of the planned operation. One thing Ari Fleischer did say though, he said that this is not the type of operation that rises to the level of having to get the president's approval. Ari Fleischer says those decision are made by the commanders in the field, particularly General Franks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has made it very clear to the commanders and to Tommy Franks that Tommy Franks makes the calls about the tactics and the timing of the operations. That is how the president thinks wars are won. The president has said repeatedly, the White House will not micromanage the war. That is exactly why you have generals and admirals and experts to guide the war and run the war in the way that they believe is the best way to run it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mr. Bush also spending time today focusing on his economic proposals on Capitol Hill. You see the president here with Treasury Secretary John Snow. This at a meeting with about a dozen prominent Wall Street economists. The White House enlisting their help, trying to convince the Congress to give the president as big a tax cut as possible.
The House has accepted the president's view that a new tax cut should be more than $700 billion. The Senate favors a smaller cut in the $300 billion range. Publicly the White House line is the president hopes to get the entire package when a compromise is struck. Privately behind the scenes though, Judy, they say they expect to get something in the $500 billion range as those negotiations continue.
Also negotiations as well over that wartime supplemental budget. The White House having some issues, even with its Republicans friends on Capitol Hill saying they want to be too generous in a bail-out package to the airlines as part of that war budget.
Also an effort here at the White House to fight back an effort that appears to have majority support at least in the House to strip $1 billion in economic assistance to Turkey out of that emergency wartime budget. Some members in Congress still angry that Turkey did not allow U.S. troops to open a northern front by staging ground forces from Turkey into Iraq -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And, John, we heard you at the briefing trying to get Ari Fleischer to give you a former Capitol Hill press secretary perspective on that. Not making much headway with him.
KING: No, I remembered his former jobs. He remembered my former job. But he wouldn't answer the question.
WOODRUFF: With the Associated Press. Distinguished reporter at both places. John King, thanks very much.
Well with me now to talk more about the war in Iraq and U.S. relations with its allies is Democratic Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. He is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Biden, from your perspective, how is the war going?
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I think it's going very well, Judy. You know, I'll leave to the historians to argue whether or not we had enough troops in place and when and how. I mean that's a tactical decision for presidents to make and commanders in chief.
But I think it's remarkable, Judy. We've secured those oil fields very quickly in the south. You know, there was all kinds of concern among many of us who were briefed earlier that they would be in flames. We have moved within 20 miles of Iraq. We've decimated a significant portion of the Republican Guard. The hard part comes now.
WOODRUFF: What about -- you mentioned you'll leave it to future historians. What about these generals, colonels, other military commanders on the ground in Iraq questioning whether there were enough troops sent over, questioning whether the administration, Tommy Franks and others, underestimated the resilience or the resistance?
Let me quote what retired General Barry McCaffrey, who was involved in the first Gulf War said. "The rolling start concept dictated by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has put us in a temporarily risky position."
BIDEN: Judy, as they say, that's above my pay grade. I'm not going to get into that while the war is going on. I think that history may prove that McCaffrey was right.
But right now, look, the ultimate objective we set out to accomplish, which is to get rid of those weapons of mass destruction, still lies ahead of us. We have to take down Saddam to get to that. I think we're on the verge of doing that.
And again, whether that could have been done better, quicker, I'll leave that to history. The bottom line is, our fighting men and women who are there have performed brilliantly and I'm not just being -- it's not just our fighting men and women, I'm an American senator, therefore, I'm for them. It goes beyond that. They really have performed brilliantly.
WOODRUFF: But, Senator, let me just interrupt you. After Tom Daschle, Senator Tom Daschle, just before the war broke out, was critical of President Bush saying that his unwillingness to go a step further with diplomacy could put the lives of young men and women at risk. He was criticized across the board for saying that. Has that made Democrats gun shy here if you will, and unwilling to speak up?
BIDEN: No, I don't think so. And by the way, at the time Tom said that, I pointed out, he's a very good friend of mine, but I disagreed.
Look, Judy. The way the Constitution works is, we voted to give the president the authority to go to war. It's our decision whether or not we go from a state of peace to a state of war. We gave him that authority. You can second guess whether we should have or not.
Once we've that then it's his decision to prosecute the war. I wish he had been more successful and more earnest his diplomacy. And my prayer now is, Judy, that he'll be more successful in diplomacy of how to win the peace. But as the conduct of the war goes, that's his call.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, the disagreement we read about between the State Department and the Pentagon over who ought to control post- war Iraq, which side of you on?
BIDEN: I'm clearly on the State Department side. I think the Pentagon prescription is a prescription for disaster. It will move us from liberators to occupiers and it will deprive any new government of the legitimacy it's going to need to have any fighting chance to be able to establish itself.
WOODRUFF: Senator Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.
BIDEN: Thank you, Judy. I'm happy to be with you.
WOODRUFF: Along with the regular daily or regular daily duties on Capitol Hill, the war in Iraq remains a top issue for members of Congress. The Senate has approved a measure sponsored by Republican Senators John McCain and George Allen that would offer phone cards to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan so that they could call home for free.
In the House, meanwhile, Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida has introduced a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. This medal is the highest honor that can be awarded by the United States Congress.
Kentucky Republican Senator Jim Bunning remains angry over recent comments that cost broadcast journalist Peter Arnett his job with NBC News. Senator Bunning said, quote, "If this was 200 years ago, I'm pretty sure Peter Arnett would be hanging in the village square," end quote.
Coming up next -- the Pentagon chiefs and their war plan. Our Jeff Greenfield will look at the arm chair analysis and the fallout.
WOODRUFF: The sight today of tanks pressing ever closer to Baghdad may be the ultimate weapon for quieting critics of the U.S. war plan, something that the Joint Chiefs chairman tried to do yesterday during his Pentagon briefing. Our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield has been listening to all the second-guessing.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: It is not helpful to have those kind comments come out when we have troops in combat.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST (voice-over): You can understand the frustration of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and top General Myers yesterday. Nobody likes to be second-guessed.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are 12 days into the war...
GREENFIELD: Two weeks does seem to be on the early side.
(on camera): But for those of us trying to make sense of the strategy, there is something more frustrating. Sometimes it seems as if the military experts are arguing not with the Pentagon or with each other, but with themselves. Here's Barry McCaffrey, a commanding general in the first Gulf War who was one of the first to challenge the Pentagon. "Their assumptions were wrong," he told "The New York Times" on April 1. But here is the same General McCaffrey on the same day in an op-ed piece from "The Wall Street Journal."
Here he says, "The initial success of the attack has been impressive. Early criticisms of the Pentagon have been overheated." And while he says the rolling start of the war was risky, he concludes by saying, "We will be in great peril if we do not support the president in this time of national crisis."
Last week Harlan Ullman, one of the authors of a Shock and Awe Doctrine, said the Pentagon's Shock and Awe campaign this time sunk without a trace. The campaign was more slogan than operational strategy. This Tuesday, he was accentuating the positive, arguing that the critics have got it wrong. The troops, he said, "are doing a magnificent job."
Or consider this story from the "Army Times" way back last August. A retired general, Paul Van Riper (ph) was asked by the Pentagon to play the bad guys in a war game. By using guerrilla tactics he was able to foil the Pentagon strategy whereupon the game was halted and Van Riper was told to stop deploying those tactics. He quit, arguing the planners were locking themselves into rigid assumptions.
So when the Iraqis began employing unconventional asymmetrical guerrilla and terrorist-type attacks, did the general say, I told you so? No, he said in "The Washington Post," look at the big picture. Three hundred miles, relatively few casualties and almost no armored vehicles lost.
Now the ability of the militiamen to change the emphasis from pessimism to optimism can lead to a fir amount of head scratching. But there's one more point. The most talked about piece this week was Sy Hersh's article in "The New Yorker" magazine.
Why? Because the voices that assailed Rumsfeld's planning came not from retired generals, but from active duty majors and colonels in the Pentagon. They say the secretary kept lowering the strength of the forces to be sent to Iraq.
Now is this evidence that the plan is flawed or another example of the bureaucratic wars among the armed services that is a more or less permanent fact of Washington life? Talk about the fog of war.
Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: A fog that extends all the way to Washington.
The U.S.-led war in Iraq gets top billing, of course in American newspapers. When we come back, we'll check in with Richard Quest to find out what some leading newspapers in other countries are saying about the war.
WOODRUFF: As support for the war in Iraq continues high here in the United States, there is opposition remaining strong in much of the rest of the world. CNN's Richard Quest has been checking out how the story is playing out in some of the world's major newspapers.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mainstream British papers go with the main story. "Big Push For Baghdad Begins" is how "The Daily Telegraph" puts it. And "A Bid to Crush Republican Guards" with full coverage of the battles taking place in Iraq.
In Africa, "The Johannesburg Star" looks at a different aspect of the war. This time the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and whether the battle for those has been damaged by what's happened in the shooting of unarmed civilians at various checkpoints. And what that's likely to be in terms of the overall effect on the war.
Back to France, where "Le Monde" has a different spin and it comes on the cartoon on the front page. Here we have American troops going into Baghdad, being welcomed by the people with big signs saying "Welcome." The sting is in the cartoon. Right at the end there is someone holding a sign saying "First of April, April Fools."
There's one part of the world where the war isn't on the front page and that's in Asia. "The South China Morning Post," for instance, has the SARS virus, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. And "The Post" talks about the disease, its effect, the quarantine, the economic implications and the number of people who have been killed by the SARS virus and travel restrictions.
So even as the war continues, a number of different perspectives on the world events from different newspapers.
Richard Quest for INSIDE POLITICS, London.
WOODRUFF: Views different around the world. We're going to be checking in with newspapers around the world in the days to come.
Two combat veterans. Two parallel lives. Up next the story of two men whose experiences in war and careers in politics traced similar paths.
WOODRUFF: Hawaii's United States Senator Daniel Inouye and former Kansas Senator Bob Dole spent years on opposite sides of the aisle here in Washington. What many people may not know is because of their experiences in World War II, they were friends long before either of them decided to run for office. Candy Crowley has their story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the story did a young man from Hawaii and another from Kansas who both dreamt of becoming doctors and then went to war.
BOB DOLE, FORMER SENATOR: Well he was wounded a hill apart from me and a week apart, a week later on a hill that I could see from where I was.
CROWLEY: It was the spring of 1945 in Italy's Po Valley, weeks before VE-Day when something exploded Bob Dole's shoulder, shattering his spinal cord. He lay on the battle field paralyzed, near death.
DOLE: All I knew is that something hurt up here, my right area shoulder. And I see my little dog, my little white and remembered the girl I first had a date with. All these things just sort of -- you remember your mother and your father and freezing ice cream, hand cranking ice cream.
CROWLEY: Daniel Inouye had enlisted in the 442nd, the Go For Broke Regiment. Assaulting a heavily defended hill, he was shot in the leg, the stomach and a third shot blew off his arm. Inouye won the nation's highest military award for valor for what came next.
SEN. DANIEL INOUYE (D), HAWAII: I don't remember charging up the machine gun nest with blood splattering all over and tossing grenades just like from here to you and then picking up my gun and like Rambo himself would want to. It looked ridiculous. I can't picture myself doing that. But they all swear that's the way it happened.
CROWLEY: Inouye's arm could not be saved. He spent three months in and out of surgery and headed for rehab.
INOUYE: We were given a choice. They would say, there are four orthopedic hospitals, one in Utah, one in California, one in Michigan, and one in the south somewhere. I said, let me go to Michigan. And that's where I met Bob Dole.
CROWLEY: The next battle had begun.
DOLE: He was pretty badly hurt. Then you've got a long, long period of hospitalization and rehabilitation. You know, it's like anything else. The cameras are gone, the lights are off, and there you are.
CROWLEY: War is about enemies, death and destruction. War's aftermath is about friends, healing and choices.
DOLE: I used to watch him play bridge. He was the best bridge player in the hospital.
INOUYE: You know we sat around and talked about, what are we going to do for the rest of our lives.
CROWLEY: The injuries meant neither could ever be a doctor. INOUYE: I said, Bob, what are you going to be doing? And one thing about Bob Dole, he had his life mapped out. Really mapped out. He says, well, when I get back, I'll be a county attorney. Then I'll be in the legislature. The first opening in the Congress, that's where I'll go. I said, gee, that's a good idea.
CROWLEY: It was not the path either had originally chosen. But sometimes you pick the journey and sometimes life does.
DOLE: you know three more weeks the war was over. We could have been there for the victory party. Instead we were both flat in a bed, our backs in a hospital somewhere.
But as it turned I guess the way it turned out, we did all right for a couple of guys.
CROWLEY: Two men, two worlds and quite a journey.
INOUYE: I went to law school. I became an assistant prosecutor, got into territorial legislature. Hawaii became a state, I'm here. And when I got here, I sent a note to Bob. Bob, I'm here, where are you?
CROWLEY: Bob arrived in Washington two years later. Republican Senator Robert Dole and Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye served together in the United States Congress for 36 years. They have been friends for almost 60.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Two men of uncommon courage. That's it for our coverage this hour. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. WOLF BLITZER REPORTS starts right now.
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