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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

War in Iraq

Aired April 4, 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: Tonight: Is Saddam Hussein dead or alive? Two new videotapes said to be of him broadcast today on Arabic TV, and one provides the first indication he may not have been killed the night the war began.
Meanwhile, Iraq's information minister threatened something not conventional will hit U.S. forces tonight, as Saddam's Republican Guard reportedly gathers near the Baghdad airport seized last night by U.S. troops.

And Michael Kelly of "The Washington Post" becomes the first American embedded journalist killed in this war.

Among our guests tonight on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, a reporter with Lebanese broadcasting, who showed one of two of very intriguing new Saddam videos today, and the colonel who runs the nerve center for Operation Iraqi Freedom at Central Command.

We begin, as always, with Nic Robertson, CNN's senior international correspondent. Nic is on the scene in Ruwaished on the Jordanian/Iraqi border. Now, that airport now has a new name. Is that totally secure? And is Baghdad next, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Baghdad International Airport is not totally secure, but it's certainly firmly under the control of coalition forces. Late in the day, they were still taking shots at Iraqi forces. Now, we know that just down the highway from the airport there, Iraqi forces have set up some checkpoints on the road. They've made it -- turned it into a military area. And that's an area, we understand, where Republican Guard and Fedayeen forces are gathering.

Now, so far, the coalition forces are at the airport. They appear to be in some numbers. They've been clearing out buildings there and certainly returning fire wherever they've been engaged by Iraqi forces. But at this time, it's unclear what this threat was that the information minister mentioned early today. He said it would be untraditional. He indicated it might be some sort of suicide mission. And certainly, coalition forces have come up against that already, Larry.

KING: What do you make, Nic, of Saddam Hussein appearing on television in downtown Baghdad? We don't know when that occurred, but it certainly appeared after the start of the war. What do you make of that?

ROBERTSON: Well, in the statement on television, he refers to the downing of an Apache helicopter on the 24th of March, so that doesn't seem to indicate that it did take place -- his statement took place after that incident, after the war began.

I think the pictures of the president or whoever it was walking the streets of Baghdad are perhaps slightly more questionable. You have a man who looks like the Iraqi leader, but unlike the Iraqi leader, is actually touching hands, shaking hands with people in the crowd, even giving them high fives.

From everything we hear about people who meet President Saddam Hussein, they say number one, when they meet him, they have to wash their hands or have them disinfected because he doesn't want to catch germs and bugs from people. So it would seem unlikely he would shake hands. And people say he deports himself in a very presidential way. So it seems, again, very unlikely he would be giving high fives on the street. But this is the Iraqi leadership at their best, trying to show the Iraqi people that they're still alive, still well and still in control, Larry.

KING: And what are you hearing, Nic, about the Republican national guard, that famed unit that appears we don't hear much from in this skirmish? Did you get that, Nic? Can you still hear me? We may have lost contact with Nic Robertson. We'll attempt to recontact him.

Let's go to Erbil in northern Iraq, where Jane Arraf is standing by, our CNN correspondent. Jane, what's the latest from your standpoint?

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, Kurdish forces, along with U.S. special forces, have come within 20 miles of Mosul from northern Iraq. Now, that happened after -- as they took a town and a key bridge on the main road east to Mosul from Erbil. It's called the bridge over the Khazar (ph) River. And it was a spectacular gun battle. The fight had been going on for a couple of days.

When we arrived, U.S. special forces were seen up on hillsides, calling in the air strikes, as the bombers dropped bombs for hours on these sites, Iraqi defensive positions, allowing the Kurdish forces to move in. Now, the Kurdish forces moved in, planted that flag. The Iraqis countered with artillery, as well as rocket-propelled grenade and mortar attacks. Again, this went on for some hours.

But we arrived in this town that had just been vacated by the Iraqis just about 20 minutes after the Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters, moved in and found smoldering vehicles still on fire, a few dead Iraqi soldiers and evidence that they left in a huge hurry. There were gas masks around, as well as documents, all sorts of personal effects and evidence that it had been really quite a battle -- Larry.

KING: Thank you very much, Jane.

We understand we now can connect again with Nic Robertson. The question we asked, Nic, was what do you hear about the Republican national guard? We hear much about them, but not in regard to the fighting.

ROBERTSON: We don't have any concrete facts and figures. We do know, obviously, that they've been south of Baghdad and they've been between the coalition forces and the city and that they've been taking a heavy pounding. But what sources were telling us late in the day today was that it was these forces that were being called by Iraqi officials to gather near the airport. We don't know in what numbers. This is now a restricted area, and journalists certainly can't get into it to assess what the Iraqis are planning.

But it does seem that they are trying to organize at least a military force between the airport and the city, and it's not clear if this military force or Republican Guard is designed to go and take on the coalition at the airport or just as a defensive position, Larry.

KING: And one other thing, Nic. Did you know Michael Kelly? And does his death give you pause?

ROBERTSON: Every death of anyone in this conflict gives me pause. I didn't know him. It's deeply saddening whenever a journalist and a colleague is killed, and one has to only reach out to his family to extend condolences. I didn't know him, and I'm sorry for him, sorry for his family and to his colleagues that knew him far better than I ever did, Larry.

KING: Thank you, Nic Robertson, at the Jordanian/Iraqi border.

Let's go to safer confines of the Pentagon, Jamie McIntyre standing by. Jamie, did you know Michael Kelly?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I did not, although I read his -- a lot of his stuff. I was an admirer of his work. I have to say that when I heard about it, my heart stopped a little bit because, as we've been watching all of these amazing reports that have been coming in from the battlefield, we've certainly been -- it's been clear that all of the journalists are in the same danger as the soldiers and the Marines on the ground. And you just know that as you're watching, that at any moment something bad could happen. And so when I heard about this, you know, it just -- it gave me pause.

I was not one of the ones who volunteered to go over there, and I think any journalist who does is certainly taking a very brave action. You've got to weigh that against, you know, the family responsibilities you have and your own commitment to covering the story. But it certainly does remind everyone that, you know, this is not just a big adventure that reporters are on. It's a very, very serious and sometimes deadly business.

KING: By the way, in the second half hour of the program, we have a top-notch military panel of former officers joining us. So please stay tuned for that.

Jamie, what's the latest word at Pentagon? What are they saying about the airport and what comes next? MCINTYRE: Well, you know, we're not hearing a lot right at this moment, which makes you think sometimes that more is going on than you know. The job right now at hand is to secure the airport, extend the perimeter of what was formerly known as Saddam International Airport to -- they have to search out this tunnel complex that's underneath, and then they want to be able to bring more forces in.

Meanwhile, south of the city, more forces are pouring in and establishing more positions around the city, so they can essentially encircle Baghdad. Once they get that done, they'll be in a position to conduct forays into the city, perhaps missions that would be aimed at either securing strategic locations or perhaps even going after leadership in commando-style raids. So we'll have to see how it plays out from here.

KING: Thank you, Jamie McIntyre, ever present on the scene.

Let's assemble our panel now. In Amman, Jordan, is Christopher Dickey. He's "Newsweek's" Middle East regional editor. In Abu Dhabi is Jasim al Azzawi, the anchor and executive producer for Abu Dhabi TV. He's right on his own set. In Beirut, Lebanon, is Tania Mehanna, the reporter for Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, and she contributes frequently to THE WORLD REPORT on CNN.

Chris Dickey, did you know Mr. Kelly? And does this give you some cause for concern yourself?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, "NEWSWEEK": I didn't know him personally, no. I corresponded with him about a couple of things in years past. But yes, I think we have to look at the situation as probably one of the most dangerous that journalists have faced in recent history. This is a very, very difficult war to cover, whether you're embedded or whether you're trying to run around by yourself. And we have lost or come close to losing quite a few people already. So this is a sad moment, but he's not the first journalist to get killed, and I'm afraid he's not going to be the last, either.

KING: Jasim, what do you make of those pictures of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad apparently after the war started?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello?

KING: OK, Jasim apparently doesn't hear me. Tania, we'll ask you the same question. When do you make of those pictures -- actually, moving pictures of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad.

TANIA MEHANNA, REPORTER, LEBANESE BROADCASTING: I think it's been quite interesting to see that we had two appearances of Saddam Hussein on television today. The first one is the speech that he gave earlier, where for the first time he referred to something that really happened during the last two weeks, about the downing of the Apache in one of the villages.

And the second thing about appearing in Baghdad at that time, it's showing the Baghdadi -- or the Iraqi people, because this thing aired also on Iraqi television -- that he's still there, that he's still present, that he's still in control, and at the same time, with the speech that we've seen or heard earlier from him, it seems that he's appealing to the Iraqi people to stand by him, to defend him, same thing as he's done with the Republican Guard. So he's trying to prove here that he's still there, he's still alive, and all the rumors that we heard about him disappearing were not true.

KING: What do you make of it Christopher Dickey? It sure looks like him.

DICKEY: Well, It looks like him to me, too. I think a lot of this speculation about, is he alive, is he dead, is a little bit misleading. And it's also misleading in terms of the course that the war is likely to take. The Iraqi people have been terrified of Saddam Hussein for about 35 years, and they're going to have to see his dead body before they'll believe he's gone. As long as there are doubles or himself around in any capacity, in any kind of image, it's going to be very hard for the allies to break through the wall of fear that he's built around himself and built around his country.

KING: Tania, what are they saying in Lebanon about this war?

MEHANNA: Well, you know, there is lots of hatred, there is lots of anger because of the pictures that we've been seeing coming out of Iraq. It was very interesting. I was talking to some of the people in the streets or all around, and all they can remember besides the battles were the pictures of the civilians being killed. And this was really something that was really bringing lots of anger, and especially when we see pictures of children being hit during the bombardment. And this is what people remember from all this war.

And the other thing that was really very interesting, that you've been seeing more people willing to go and fight in Iraq, with the Iraqis, to defend the Iraqi regime, which is something we haven't seen before.

KING: And what about in Jordan? What are they -- what are -- the people there were protesting quite a bit in the past few days. What about lately, Christopher?

DICKEY: Well, there have been protests, but I don't think the protests indicate anything like the anger that exists here. There's a huge amount of anger. People are really opposed to this war. They're demoralized by it. Certainly, the pictures of maimed and dying and dead children have a tremendous effect. And you have to remember that in this part of the world, it doesn't really matter to people whether those kids are being killed by American bombs or misguided Iraqi bombs. What they think in this part of the world is that the whole war is unjustified. So if people are killed, it's America's fault. And all of that, I think, is going to create a very difficult situation in the future.

KING: And Chris, Egyptian president Mubarak warned the other day that this kind of action could end up with a hundred more bin Ladens. What do you make of that statement?

DICKEY: Well, I think he -- unfortunately, I think he's probably right. I think that we're going to see, maybe not today or tomorrow, but in the near future, a great increase in terrorism and terrorist attempts, a lot of anti-Americanism and a lot of violent emotion in the Arab world. It's not a happy picture unless the United States can somehow turn this war around very quickly, install a government that's effective and believable and credible very quickly. But it doesn't look like that's really going to happen.

KING: And Tania, what do you make of the Mubarak statement?

MEHANNA: Well, I think -- I mean, I think he's right. I think what we've seen, especially the interpretation of all this war, it's much more of a war against Islam than a war against Saddam Hussein's regime. And then you can see it and you can feel it in the streets. And if this is going to continue for a longer period, if we're going to see more civilian casualties because of the way the events are or the way the course of the war is going, we're going to see more of these resentments against the Americans and against the West, in general.

KING: Do you see any possibility, Chris, as some are surmising, that this could spread to Syria and Iran?

DICKEY: Well, the Pentagon, certainly, and Rumsfeld, certainly, seemed to be sending that signal a few days ago. I mean, there's a lot of talk focusing on Syria. It's not really clear why. Syria has allowed and even encouraged some people to go fight along with Saddam, but the numbers are very small, fewer than 5,000, certainly, and they're not going to be any very effective force.

In terms of smuggling, it's not clear what that's about. The kinds of things that allegedly have been smuggled through Syria could be gotten from lots of places, and it's hard to believe that Saddam Hussein has waited until the last minute to go on a shopping spree. So it's not clear why all this attention is being focused on Syria right now, unless it's just to try and expand the pressure on all kinds of states in the region.

KING: Wouldn't you say, from a coalition standpoint now, Tania, that the war is going as planned?

MEHANNA: Well, I don't know. I mean, I don't know if going as planned is...

KING: Well, they've taken every part of Iraq, and they're about to go into Baghdad. It looks like they're on course, doesn't it?

MEHANNA: Well, I mean, we were expecting it to be much faster than this. We didn't expect to see the kind of resistance from the Iraqi military or the Iraqi people that we've seen. So if it's on course, Baghdad hasn't been taken yet. Baghdad is -- only Baghdad airport has been taken until now. Baghdad is not surrounded completely yet. So we'll have to see what's going to happen with this before we decide if it has been on course or not, or before we decide the outcome of the war.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more. We'll be joined by -- we -- hopefully, shortly, Colonel Tom Bright of the United States Marine Corps. He's chief of operations. Meanwhile, we'll hold Chris Dickey and Tania Mehanna. And then don't forget, in our second half of this program tonight, we're going to meet five outstanding former military leaders. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're going to spend a moment or two more with Christopher Dickey and Tania Mehanna and then meet our outstanding military crew. And as soon as we check in with Colonel Bright, we'll bring him aboard.

Chris, your forecast. What do you think's going to happen? You think it's going to be over sooner than later?

DICKEY: I think that the main military operations will probably wrap up in the next couple of weeks. I hope they do. But I think the problem we have to look at down the road is the chance that this will evolve into a prolonged low-intensity conflict, that there will be pockets of opposition, pockets of resistance in various places around the country. Remember, Most of the offensive has bypassed the populated areas. Some will feel they're liberated now. Others will feel they're being occupied now. I think it's going to be a very dicey situation for the foreseeable future.

KING: And Tania, what do you think?

MEHANNA: Well, I think we still have to look at today what the Iraqi information minister was saying of using unconventional war methods to fight now. We'll have to wait and see what's going to happen with this, what does he mean by "unconventional," and what are the effects of the forces on the advance of the U.S. and coalition forces to see how things are going to change.

KING: Thank you both very much, Christopher Dickey, "Newsweek's" Middle East regional editor, and Tania Mehanna, a reporter for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation.

Before we check in with Colonel Bright, let's assemble our military panel. They are, in London, Squadron Leader John Peters, Royal Air Force, retired, Gulf war POW. His Tornado fighter-bomber was downed on January 16, during the first wave of air strikes. He and his navigator were captured by the Iraqis and subsequently shown on Iraqi TV. He was released after seven weeks. In Austin is Lieutenant General Paul Funk, U.S. Army, retired, commanded the 3rd Armor Division during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, subsequently served as commanding general of the U.S. Army Armor Center and commanding general of the III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas.

As usual, in New York, Colonel David Hackworth, U.S. Army, retired, the highly decorated veteran, award-winning correspondent. His syndicated column, "Defending America," is seen all over the United States. And he's a best-selling author. His latest book is "Steal My Soldiers' Hearts." In London is Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason, Royal Air Force, retired, one of Britain's leading air power experts. Served more than 30 years in the RAF, retired 13 years ago. He's an academic author and air adviser to the select committee on defense of the British House of Commons. And Colonel Gary Anderson in Washington, United States Marine Corps, retired. Served 29 years in the Marines, saw combat in Somalia, was a U.N. military observer in Lebanon and ran an urban warfare experiment for the Marine Corps in 1999.

We'll start with former squadron leader John Peters of the Royal Air Force. What do you make of this threat of "unconventional" warfare?

SQUADRON LEADER JOHN PETERS, RAF (RET.), GULF WAR POW: I think it's particularly frightening. I think it's how the words were phrased. I think if it's just suicide bombers, although there's a lot of personal tragedy involved, I mean, it will be such a minor event, if they use those to the effect of the overall war effort. But yes, I think they're most frightening and ominous is the chemical and biological threat. But I think if they do use it, they lose the war.

KING: Why -- General Funk, if you're going to do something like that, why do you think you threaten it?

LT. GEN. PAUL FUNK, U.S. ARMY (RET.), GULF WAR DIV. CMDR.: I think that's a good question, Larry. I think it's largely a bluff, and I think it's something that they will try to rally people to do, and I suspect they'll have a difficult time doing it. I do not think that at this late stage, they would use chemical weapons in this particular fight. Inside the city, maybe. Outside the city, where the Republican Guards were, the armored divisions and so on, they have the artillery to deliver it. They could have delivered it, same as in the Gulf war. We thought they had released authority to those guys, and until we -- until the 3rd Armored Division fought through the Talakana (ph) Division and destroyed it, I frankly thought we would get chemicals. But I think this is bluff.

KING: OK, we're going to pick up with the rest of the panel in just a few moments. And by the way, right around the horn, around the corner, we'll be taking phone calls for this outstanding panel.

But we want to go to Doha in Qatar for Colonel Tom Bright, for our kind of nightly update. He is chief of operations, Joint Operations Center for the Central Command Forward. What did you make, Colonel, of those tapes of Saddam in downtown Baghdad?

COL. TOM BRIGHT, USMC, CHIEF, CENTCOM JOC: Well, Larry, I haven't got a clue if that's really him. And frankly, it doesn't matter if it is him. His regime is shattered. He has no way of commanding or controlling his fielded forces. He has no way of really influencing the action on the ground. He's completely out of touch with the Iraqi people. While even if that was him, and that would be purely speculation, the folks that saw him on the road, they got the benefit of his presence, but the rest of Iraq is completely isolated from the regime.

So what they are seeing is all the wonderful things that we're doing for them, as we continue to take away the regime's stranglehold on the Iraqi people, particularly down in the south and in the north, and now all the way up through the Karbala Gap, with the 3rd Infantry Division, who now has the -- Baghdad isolated from the south and on the airport, and the 1st Marine Division that has the -- Baghdad isolated from the south and southeast. And so, you know, the Iraqi people, fortunately, are out of touch with Baghdad and out of touch with this brutal regime.

KING: What do you make of...

BRIGHT: So what do I make of Saddam...

KING: Yes.

BRIGHT: Go ahead.

KING: OK. You can finish your thought. Then I have another question.

BRIGHT: Well, no, I was just going to say, he's just so far out of touch, and he just -- he's completely ineffective in Iraq.

KING: What do you make, Colonel, of these threats made by the minister today about "unconventional" warfare happening tonight?

BRIGHT: Well, I don't put a whole lot of credence in it, but it's just another indicator of how desperate this regime really is. As you know, there was an extremely unfortunate circumstance that occurred out near the Hadaitha (ph) Dam, where a woman, a pregnant woman, was used -- I think that's probably the best way to say it -- was used to get in close to our troops. And here was a woman who was probably pressed into that service and ultimately lost her life and the life of an unborn child. And it's just indicative of the brutality of this regime.

I mean, it's unbelievable, the depth that they will stoop to to try to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) our forces and to try to retain the hold they have on the Iraqi people. So I don't put much credence in what they say because their actions don't really -- you know, as a united front, their actions are just simply not there. It's fractured, it's isolated and it's ineffective. So I don't put a whole lot of -- there's just not much -- there's not much substance behind what they say.

KING: Colonel, we haven't asked you this. What do you think's going to happen in the fight for Baghdad? Do you think the Iraqis will fight, or do you think things might collapse quickly? What are you expecting?

BRIGHT: I expect that we will probably see more of the same. The reason I say that is, again, in order to fight a military unit, in order for it to fight effectively, it has to have the ability to mass its forces. It has to have the ability to use combined arms effectively. And, importantly, it must have a command-and-control apparatus that will allow it to adapt to the changing situation.

What we have here, Larry is a military situation that, as far as he's concerned, is in complete disarray. For us, it's very structured. It's focused, and it's synchronized. But for him it's not. And so he -- without that command-and-control apparatus, even if he had an effective fighting force, without that apparatus, he can't be employed properly. He has -- he has lost his interior lines. He is now operating on exterior lines. We are inside his decision cycle, and he simply cannot react.

So what do I think? I think he's going to be defeated. Each time that he presents himself, he'll be defeated. If he doesn't present himself, we're going to root him out, and we'll defeat him in kind that way. And again, you know, as we've said all along, this is -- this is about freeing the Iraqi people and getting this brutal regime out of control. And his fielded forces, while they may present a threat, they're not much of one, and we are going to defeat them in kind.

KING: A very optimistic report. We'll check with you again tomorrow. Thanks so much, as always, Colonel. Colonel Tom Bright, United States Marine Corps, chief of operations, Joint Operation Center for Central Command Forward.

Our military panel will assemble. We'll pick up the questioning where we left off. We'll be taking your phone calls, as well, if you'd like to talk to these five outstanding individuals, all of whom served both Great Britain and the United States with heroic valor.

As we go to break, Fredricka Whitfield will have the news headlines. There'll be a word or two, and we'll be right back on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE.

We've heard from squadron leader John Peters and Lieutenant General Paul Funk and our panel is fully assembled.

Colonel Hackworth, the same question of you and we'll ask the others -- what do you make of this threat of unconventional warfare tonight?

COL. DAVID HACKWORTH, (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, surprise is an essential element of war and why give away your game plan, Larry? And what it seems to me is that we've got a major propaganda program going here and it's gone into high gear.

And if you remember in Desert Storm we were always waiting for that mother of all battles and it hasn't come in. With Saddam Hussein, the guy's got more doubles than Elvis Presley so I think that propaganda is out there and propaganda alone does not win wars.

KING: What are your thoughts, Vice Marshal Tony Mason in London, about this threat?

VICE MARSHAL TONY MASON, ROYAL AIR FORCE: Well, I think, Larry, he's leaving it a bit late because it's 25 -- it's half past 6:00 local time in Iraq right now and unless I'm mistaken, dawn has already broken. So the night is gone. So whatever he was promising and threatened unless we've not been told anything, it hasn't happened.

KING: Colonel Anderson, maybe he was meaning the next night. Anyway, what is your reaction to the threat?

COL. GARY ANDERSON (RET.), UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS: Well, there's no doubt in my mind that they have evil intentions. The question is -- the observation I've got is that they're just not very good at it. They've been trying a lot of, you know, -- quote -- "dirty tricks" for some time now and by and large the result has been certainly unconventional but far less than competent.

Squadron leader Peters, there are 93 coalition dead, 66 of them in the United States. Is this war going according to the way you thought it would?

PETERS: Well, I think we've got a take pride in the fact that, you know, Desert Storm last time we had -- what? -- six weeks of bombing and then we called it a Hundred Hours' War. This time in 16 days, I mean the achievement -- it started with a complete air package, you know, and the ground war all at the same time. I mean, it's been phenomenally successful.

But in my opinion, really, the war starts -- starts now. I mean, it doesn't matter if 95 really of his troops give in. If 5 percent, the committed core stay in the city, I think that's going to be really problematic and I think we need to temper the enthusiasm of -- instance such as overtaking over Baghdad International Airport.

KING: General Funk, how do you think it's going?

FUNK: Yes, I think it's going very well. I think the squadron leader is right and I heard Vince Brooks say it this morning. We shouldn't be euphoric. Let's get it all over with, first.

Frankly, the peace and keeping the peace bothers me more than the war right now. But I think the commanders on the ground, the soldiers and the Marines have just done a magnificent job. So have the air forces.

KING: Hack, a senior officer was relieved of duty. Do you have any further information on what that was about?

HACKWORTH: A Marine colonel named Dougherty, commander of the 1st Regiment, 1st Marine division, a real hard-charging stud, commanding one of the finest regiments in the U.S. military and you don't relieve a senior commander without a lot of consideration. It's like firing an anchor on mainline TV. It's a big deal in the military and I -- I went out there and checked with some of my sources and one came back and said the scuttlebutt is that his outfit was using too much combat power and it wasn't politically correct enough. I think we'll read about this story in "the Washington Post" tomorrow morning.

KING: Vice Marshal Mason, is 93 dead, a total of 93 dead -- is that about -- under what you might have expected? About right? What do you think?

MASON: Well, obviously, from the point of view, Larry, of the families and the friends of those 93, every one is a personal tragedy.

But when you bear in mind that we could have been facing an army of scores of thousands and that we've got in with lighter forces than we're facing, which is totally contrary to what has -- the history teaches us about force ratios. The fact that we've only lost 93 has got to be a mark -- a mark of so far of comparatively successful campaign.

KING: What, Colonel Anderson....

MASON: May I just add one other comment?

KING: Yes. Sure.

MASON: I was simply going to go back to the future, the immediate future.

I think the more likely scenario is that we will see a different kind of opposition. We shall see some kind of Fedayeen, pockets of resistance in the city itself which, of course, will not require the same kind of command and control that fixed formations require. And the final point is the extent of that Fedayeen opposition will depend, I think, on the visibility of American and coalition presence in the city. Because it's going to be very, very hard for the minister of information to pretend that he's winning the war when he doesn't quite know whether his own information briefing is going to be taken out or not.

KING: What, Colonel Anderson, has surprised you the most so far to this point?

ANDERSON: I think the thing that's making me scratch my head a little bit is we haven't seen much in the way of their shoulder-fired air defense missiles, things that the military calls "man pads." They -- we know they've got a lot of them. We haven't seen them using them a lot. I think that's something we need to keep a real close eye on in this urban situation so we don't carry helicopters in trouble.

KING: Let's include some phone calls for this great panel. Monticello, Wisconsin, hello.

CALLER: Hi, how are you?

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I was wondering -- what happens with the thousands of Iraqi POWs in the aftermath of the war? Do some go to prison and some go free? And how do we assure ourselves to weed out the potential hazardous ones?

KING: John Peters, what's your response? And anyone can jump in by the way, but John, we'll start with you.

PETERS: Yes, certainly.

I think after the war those -- those -- those POWs will be screened anyway if they haven't been done so already and they will be returned to a normal lifestyle.

I mean, going back to the last question, my main concern is actually winning the peace. I think there's no doubt with the military force that you have available that you will win the immediacy of this war. But it's then winning the peace over and it's the hearts and minds and that's what I've been quite surprised with is how the Iraqis and indeed the Arab nations have sort of moved around and supported Saddam and that's a far more difficult problem to solve and it's not actually a military problem. It is a political problem.

KING: What surprised you, General Funk?

FUNK: What surprised me is the willingness of the Republican Guards to give up outside the city. Not that they didn't before, but fundamentally they fought very hard before. So I think that bodes well for us internal to the city.

And to the PW -- to the POW question, there will be thoroughly screened. They will be returned as soon as possible to their homes especially the junior members, ma'am, and I -- and I think that's pretty important to show good faith on the part of the government. Our government, that is and the military.

But nevertheless,there will be some screening done and we'll probably make some mistakes, too, by the way. We'll let some people go we probably shouldn't.

But I think...

KING: Hack, is the history....

PETERS: If I can...

KING: Yes, go ahead.

PETERS: Can I just break in?

KING: Sure.

PETERS: I think that's an absolute major point is once the military operations are over, that the prisoners are returned to their families and their loved ones, because you know, they have their children, their wives, et cetera and that's a very powerful point. They've lived in a regime where people have disappeared where at this time we should show that, in fact, we are very different, that once they've been to war, they will return to their families and the can continue with the lifestyle in Iraq.

KING: Hack, when you get into urban warfare, when you get into street fighting, aren't casualties usually high on both sides?

HACKWORTH: They sure are, and I think we're pretty well prepared for this in terms of training that's been exercised greatly over the past. But just take Berlin, for example, May of 1945. A veteran Soviet army that had about four years of combat under their belt in a three-day battle to take the city of Berlin took 80,000 dead and 250,000 wounded, and, Larry, they were not politically correct. If somebody got in their way they would say, comrade, take them out.

So I think we've got to be very careful and very methodical on how we go about grabbing Baghdad. Right now our forces are greatly extended. The 3rd Infantry Division is over a 50-mile front, which is a big front for a division. Behind them, the 101st Airborne, 50 miles back of them are digging out guerrillas, and 50 miles behind them are a brigade of the 82nd Airborne doing the same thing, and our convoys are still being attacked even though now a little protection's been afforded because they've got armored vehicles with them, finally.

KING: Tampa, Florida, hello?

CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question for your panel is if Saddam Hussein is captured alive, what's the possibility he could be turned over to the Iraqi people so the very people he has terrorized can actually dole out their own version of law and order?

KING: What would happen to him? Vice Marshal Mason, what would happen to Saddam if captured?

MASON: I think if he was captured, obviously the decision will be taken by the United States government, who will be in control, and I think the suggestion that he be turned back over to his own people is a very, very sound one. Because, of course, the United States doesn't recognize the International Criminal Court anyway, and I think we've got to be very, very careful, even with Saddam, that we do not simply give an impression of victor's justice, whatever we do. We've got to remember that our objective is to bring on side the whole of the Iraqi people. So, yes, I would support very strongly a suggestion that he be handed back to his own people for whatever kind of judicial process they wish to take against him.

KING: Colonel Anderson, you ran an urban warfare experiment for the Marines. Is Colonel Hackworth correct about the dangers of urban warfare and the possible loss of lives?

ANDERSON: It's certainly a big consideration, but I think I agree with them that a lot of work has been done in the past 10 years or so to get us better at urban warfare. We realized as we did early experimentation, we were making a lot of mistakes that we realized that we've been traditionally doing a lot of things just flat out wrong, and a lot of effort has gone in to solving that. We're not -- as far as I'd like to be in year 2010, as far as technologies that might be useful, but I think we're a heck of a lot better off than we were before, and we're a heck of a lot better off than the Iraqis. They are not -- they do not appear to be very good at this sort of thing.

KING: But on their side, Colonel, is they're defending their territory, right?

ANDERSON: It's a home game. There's no two ways about it. And the question remains, we haven't fought the internal security mechanisms yet. It remains to be seen how well they fight.

KING: You wanted to say something? HACKWORTH: I think we need to really learn from the Israelis, their experience in Lebanon, their experience in the West Bank, also learn from the Russians in Chechnya. One day they lost almost 225 armored vehicles. We can certainly learn from the Brits, from Northern Ireland, and also right now -- and they're doing a bang-up job, Larry -- in Basra. Not taking a lot of casualties and not inflicting a lot of civilian casualties.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with more and more phone calls on this outstanding panel of this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll return right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We'll return in a moment with the military panel. Let's go to Nasiriyah where CNN's Jason Bellini is standing by. Jason, what's the latest there?

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from a senior officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit to report on cooperation that's now going on between U.S. special forces and armed Iraqis they're calling freedom fighters. Now, this is probably not on the scale of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, but this cooperation is going on, and this commander told me that they've been key in helping them to identify the attackers, because their attackers, because the enemy comes from an environment that's often very tricky finding (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So they've been a huge help to them (UNINTELLIGIBLE) able to report is that (AUDIO GAP).

KING: Jason, we've got a terrible connection. I'm going to have to cut it off. We hope we can reconnect back, because we are having trouble understanding. He's cutting in and out.

I want to check in quickly with Jasim Al Azzawi. He's the anchor and executive producer for Abu Dhabi TV. We tried to check with him before, but we had a misconnection. Jasim, do you think that's Saddam Hussein that we saw today in the streets of Baghdad?

JASIM AL-AZZAWI, ABU DHABI TV: Well, all the indications it is him. I mean, for a double to be exactly like him, it is very, very unlikely. I've been being looking at the man for almost 30 years. I have no doubt in my mind it is him, although just like somebody else said before on this panel that it is very unlike him to give high fives and shake hands and be very, very close. He always likes to be presidential, but this time, perhaps because of the war and we don't know whether these pictures were taken today or just a few days ago. It is him.

KING: Jasim, from your standpoint, is the end near, do you think?

AL-AZZAWI: I mean, nobody doubts the outcome of this war, even the Iraqis, they admitted it at the highest possible level. It's a question of time. It's a question of what price they would like to get for this end game. All along, the strategy is to suck in the allied forces into Baghdad, to have the last stand, to bloody the nose of the Americans, to the degree possible the body bag and the body count number, they want it high.

That goes not only for the Iraqis, by the way. Even people here in this region, they don't want the Iraqis to roll in and cry uncle and give in immediately. They want this war to be prolonged, to be bloody and to have as much casualties as possible. The reason is they want it for their own self-respect. They don't want the mighty GIs and the Marines to come in here and roll over Iraq.

And that is also, by the way, extended to the Arab government. They want the Iraqi government, they want the Iraqis to fight for a very simple reason. They don't want the hawks, people who think they can do this again, to take in Syria or to take in Iran.

If the casualties are high, they think they're going to think about it twice.

KING: Thank you, Jasim. Jasim Al-Azzawi, giving us a unique viewpoint there. Let's go back to our panel and Hebron, Kentucky. Hello?

CALLER: Hello. I'd like to ask Colonel Hackworth, with all the technical (ph) weapons that the Russians have given the Iraqis recently, does he think they may have given any of those seven or eight lost nuclear suitcases from Russia?

HACKWORTH: I don't know, but I know one thing they've given them is a very damn fine anti-tank weapon than had a serious effect on an Abrams tank a few days ago, and that they have at least 1,000 of those wire-guided anti-tank missiles in their inventory.

KING: To Middletown, Connecticut. Hello?

CALLER: Hi. My question is what are the consequences for not adhering to the Geneva Convention? Is it something that would be handled by the U.N. or the coalition?

KING: Yes. General Funk, what happens if you don't obey the Geneva Conventions?

FUNK: Yes, I think the coalition would handle that, the military panel to begin with. I don't think we turn that over to anybody.

KING: We've asked the others in other panels. Well, let's ask this panel.

Vice Marshal Mason, do you think that is Saddam Hussein there in Bbghdad?

MASON: I'm not really competent to judge, Larry, on that.

I think -- we know that he's had doubles before and I thought that Jasim's comment a moment ago that that behavior was untypical may be indicative and also we don't know, even if it was Saddam, when those particular shots were taken. So I must confess to a certain skepticism, still.

KING: Brazil, Indiana, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I know the pride that Jessica Lynch's hometown is feeling. Colonel Eberley that's been on your show was one of our hometown heroes in '91.

My question is what are the chances that we can go in there and get the rest of our POWs out just like we've gotten Jessica out?

KING: Colonel Anderson, is that realistic?

ANDERSON: I think if we find out where they are, we're going to go get them. It's in our nature to do so. We've tried to do it from Sauntee (ph) raid in Vietnam to just about every conflict we've been in. If we can find where they are we're going to try and go and rescue them, no doubt in my mind.

KING: Seattle, Washington, hello.

CALLER: Yes, good evening.

Concerning the coalition's high concern over the use of chemical, biochemical agents by Iraq, I'm wondering whether or not we have been part of a propaganda ruse by Iraq whereby we found the protective clothing and gas masks because Iraq -- we believed that they were going to be subjected to the same agents by the United States?

KING: Do you think they had the same fears we had? Squadron leader Peters, what do you think?

PETERS: Well, I mean, this has been one of the -- the fundamental cause of the whole reason we're at war is the -- the -- the weapons of mass destruction. And certainly, it's like many, many states in war is if you -- if you -- if you can make the enemy believe that they indeed have them and they will use them 00 and that's the paramount thing -- that they will use them -- it then restricts the movement of your enemy. So threat is a powerful -- a powerful tool in war, but I think that's one of the fundamentals of this whole conflict is -- is does he have them and will he use them? And so I think they've used -- using that to the best way they can and as they see it.

KING: Stephensville, Montana, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I'd like to ask if there would be a possibility of a northern front being formed to prevent a retreat into northern Iraq?

KING: General Funk?

FUNK: Yes. I absolutely think there already is with the Kurds and the Special Ops and I think that that will be strengthened. In fact, and hack made a comment earlier they think is right. We've got the 101st tied up in -- in convoy protection and so on. Frankly, I would have thought perhaps they would have been moved by air and air mobile operation to block up there.

So, yes -- and by the way, I'm from Round-Up, Montana there for Stephensville.

KING: Vice Marshal Mason is there -- what's the role now of air power?

MASON: Well, I think what we've seen already, Larry in the war, or what rather what we haven't seen -- we've seen just what our embedded reporters have been in a position to show. What we've not seen over this last seven or eight days is the incessant pounding of the Republican Guard.

You may recall that we've seen in the distance to the west of Baghdad, explosion after explosion after explosion. And so I would expect to see if they're continued to be used on deployed forces outside the city. And thereafter, I suspect we shall see some pockets of opposition. I'm not totally pessimistic about the way things are going to go and I would expect to see a combination of low level reconnaissance, drones, the unmanned vehicles and very precise attacks on locations where we know that Fedayeen or other kind of opposition are placed.

So I think we should see air power continue to be used with enormous precision and probably from low level. And if I would make one final point there is a risk there because referring back to the colonel's comment about Chechnya, not only did Russian troops blunder into a lot of fire on the ground, but Russian helicopters blundered into a lot of low level antiaircraft fire. So we've got to be careful not to do that. But yes, we shall see air power continue to be used very precisely within Baghdad city itself.

KING: Ottawa, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Yes, would the coalition forces consider using tear gas to flush out the citizens from Baghdad and then move in and take out all the arms?

KING: Would tear gas be used, Colonel Hackworth?

HACKWORTH: Well, I think you would use any nonlethal weaponry -- weaponry that you could.

There's no question that we're going to use what the appropriate weapon at hand. It will be done very methodical. Once Baghdad is cleared and then we clean out the pockets of resistance around the country, then it's going to be, I think, a long struggle along the Afghan model of taking care of all of the guerrillas out there.

KING: Colonel Anderson is this imminent? Is this almost over?

ANDERSON: I think that it's going to be a fast fight for Baghdad in the -- to the extent that we want it to be.

If you listen to what General Wallace said publicly, he plans on trying to avoid those mistakes that we made in Chechnya. But I don't think we should rush into it. I think we should take our time and do it right there.

KING: Thank you all very much, squadron leader John Peters, Royal Air Force retired; Lieutenant General Paul Funk, United States Army, retired; Colonel David Hackworth, United States Army, retired; Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason, Royal Air Force retired; and Colonel Gary Anderson, United States Marine Corps, retired.

We want to close tonight on a very sad personal note. My publicist, Erin Sermeus, lost her father today. Bill Sermeus bravely fought cancer for the last two years, but the decorated Vietnam veteran finally lost the battle early this morning.

You may have heard me say once or twice on this show that fathers and daughters have a very special bond and tonight, Erin, I want to tell you how sad we all are here about the man you loved so much who is now gone. Erin wanted our staff to know that a really great man died today and simply asked us all to light our candle. Erin, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Tonight Bill's wife, Mimi, his daughter, Dania, and young son and namesake, W.T.. I'm sure, Erin, the fond memory of your father is a candlelight that will never be extinguished and his ashes will be interred, appropriately enough, at Arlington National Cemetery. We wish him godspeed.

Fredricka Whitfield will have the headlines and then right around the corner Aaron Brown will host "NEWSNIGHT." We'll be back tomorrow night with more guests and more of your phone calls on LARRY KING LIVE for the duration.

Thanks for joining us and good night.

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