CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Live From the Front Lines: U.S. Forces Push Into Downtown Baghdad
Aired April 5, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: By night, by day, by ground and from the air, coalition forces are getting closer to toppling Saddam Hussein. But Iraq's leaders still aren't crying uncle.
MOHAMMED SAEED SAHAF, IRAQI INFORMATION MINISTER (through translator): We kick them out, we pulverize them.
ANNOUNCER: The casualty count, putting human faces on the cost of war.
Plus, from the war overseas, to a battle in the cabinet. Are Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld at odds over the end game?
Live from Baghdad, Washington, Kuwait City, Texas, Arizona, and cities around the globe. War in Iraq, live from the front lines, with Anderson Cooper at the CNN Center and Wolf Blitzer in Kuwait City.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. It is just after 4:00 a.m. in Baghdad. You are looking at a live picture. We know they are out there somewhere in the darkness, Baghdad's newest residents, U.S. forces, have come to town, and from time to time, they are making their presence known.
Good evening. I am Anderson Cooper. My colleague Wolf Blitzer is in Kuwait City -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Anderson.
And we've heard some huge explosions in Baghdad tonight, but the U.S. military is now making its presence felt through more than nightly bombings.
They drove right into downtown Baghdad earlier today. Let's immediately have CNN's Walter Rodgers' report.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we are hearing from the U.S. Army commanders in this theater of operations is a very upbeat message, upbeat in the sense that one senior officer in the United States Army was quoted as saying, "We have the Iraqis rocking backwards on their heels." This senior officer went on to say, "We just need to keep the pressure on for a few more days."
The very clear implication of his remarks is that there is a timeline, and that the military commanders believe the Iraqi resistance is crumbling and will continue to crumble, especially when the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, rolled at will through some sections of Baghdad today, right into the city itself, well into the city limits, and did a tour through.
The U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry, literally rolling on tanks through, first as a reconnaissance unit, then as literally a show of force. And indeed, they swept through a southern third of the city, perhaps a southern quarter of the city of Baghdad, 6 million people, and then came back out again just simply to say, We are here, and if there's anything left of the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein, the message the Army was sending that we can flex our muscles in your capital anytime you want.
One very important thing, we have -- we continue to receive reports of a mass exodus of Iraqi party officials, Ba'athist Party officials, and Republican Guard officers trying to flee west of city going up, perhaps, in the direction of Syria. We have heard that they have been carrying suitcases of money. The Army has discovered that in some fleeing vehicles over the past few days.
BLITZER: CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is keeping up with his sources in Baghdad. Nic's joining us now along, along, from along the Jordanian-Iraqi border.
Nic, as far as you can tell, what is the latest that you are hearing from inside Baghdad?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest from Iraqi officials has been coming from the information minister, and he's been telling the people of Baghdad that the coalition forces don't actually control the international airport. They came in in force. They've been defeated by Iraqi troops and Republican Guard and Fedayeen fighters.
In fact, he said that the airport was turned into a graveyard for coalition forces, and said that it was all a sort of Hollywood act that had been film -- put on film for the television cameras, that none of this was actually real.
And he promised to take journalists out to the airport sometime during the day, but that never actually happened. And the information minister also read out on television a statement from the Iraqi leader, from President Saddam Hussein, and this statement said to the Iraqi people, It is your duty to exhaust the enemy, to exhaust the coalition forces. He said that the coalition forces are facing defeat at this time, and that you should go out and attack them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAHAF (through translator): But to harm the enemy more and more, go against the enemy and destroy the enemy, and follow the plans that you got in writing. God is great. May the criminals lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Now, this message has been reinforced and backed up late into the evening in Baghdad by a picture on Iraqi television, video, in fact, of President Saddam Hussein with his two sons, Uday Saddam Hussein, in charge of the Fedayeen fighters, Qusay Saddam Hussein, in charge of the whole of the center of Iraq and the Republican Guard. Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan was there.
But again, like all the pictures we've seen of the Iraqi leader, difficult to tell when it was shot. These pictures, in a room without windows, quite a large group of people, the pictures look very blue, but beyond that, difficult to make much of it, other than the fact it has been put on television to boost the morale of the people of Baghdad and tell them essentially, Stand firm, the leadership is still here.
But what we're hearing is that people are actually leaving Baghdad, residents getting out of the way of what they fear could be a tough fight there, Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic, we heard earlier in the day that there was a huge explosion only about 100 yards or so from the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, a hotel you are very familiar with. What possibly could have been a target only 100 yards or so from the Palestine Hotel?
ROBERTSON: Wolf, a number of potential targets. The Palestine on a riverside road right next to the Tigris River, right across the river, about a quarter of a mile away, a president compound. That has been hit on many, many, many occasions, something much closer to the Palestine Hotel hit on this evening.
Now, if you come out of Palestine Hotel, head right, that is, in a northerly direction along the riverbank, you pass several large buildings. Now, until recently, those buildings looked like any other building in Baghdad. Just days before the war started, we started to see more military activity around those building, sandbags being put outside those buildings.
Very clear to me at that time that these buildings had a military nature to them, perhaps belonging to the Ba'ath Party, perhaps belonging to the Republican Guard. But certainly a number of buildings along the riverfront, very close to the Palestine Hotel there. Clearly not civilian buildings but having a military function.
We don't know at this time, Wolf, but those, one of those buildings may very well have been the target of this particular bomb.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson reporting for us. That Palestine Hotel, of course, is where most of the international journalists still in Baghdad are staying.
Anderson, back to you.
ROBERTSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Wolf, we have been talking a lot about what has been going on inside Baghdad itself. Want to give you a sense of what is going on in other places around Iraq.
Saddam's forces are still in control of key cities in northern Iraq, but coalition war planes are trying to wear down their resistance with persistent and very powerful air strikes near Mosul, Kirkuk, and Tikrit, which, of course, is the ancestral homeland of Saddam Hussein.
The strikes are aimed at cutting communication links between Iraqi forces all along the northern front. Now, U.S. troops have Kurdish allies there. We have been following that story for the last weeks. Coalition military commanders are coordinating their air strikes to help Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Kurdish forces are gathering strength in the region. Up to 3,000 fighters are expected there within a matter of days.
Now to southern Iraq we go, where coalition forces are hunting for Saddam's cousin, General Ali Hassan al-Majeed, better known as the notorious Chemical Ali. That's his picture right there. He reportedly ordered the poison gas attack on the Kurds in northern Iraq back in 1988. U.S. commanders are evaluating an attack on his residence in Basra. They're not sure if he was inside when laser- guided missiles from coalition war planes hit, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Anderson.
British soldiers, meanwhile, have been battling Saddam's Fedayeen militia units in Basra for two weeks. American helicopters and British artillery are striking Iraqi targets, including the headquarters of the Ba'ath Party. ITN's Juliet Bremner is embedded with the British forces, who are capturing Fedayeen fighters one group at a time.
JULIET BREMNER, ITV NEWS (voice-over): Dominating the city gates to Basra. Saddam Hussein and his henchmen still claim to control this southern port. But the British want to send a powerful symbolic message. Soldiers are here to tear down the regime and all it stands for. By the time they leave Iraq, they're determined Saddam and his Ba'ath Party will have bitten the dust.
The approach can seem frustratingly slow, but day by day, the Desert Rats are exerting more control. Checkpoints meant to filter out Iraqi hardliners.
(on camera): They're well within striking distance of the mortars and rockets of the Fedayeen militia, but they're prepared to take that risk to try and persuade the people of Basra that they won't desert them, that they'll stick with this however messy it gets.
(voice-over): Drastic action is need to convince a dubious population.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down, get down!
BREMNER: We watched a nighttime raid on the homes of Ba'ath Party officials and Fedayeen militia. These are men singled out by locals and believed by army intelligence to be behind much of the brutality and corruption. Most are not accused of specific crimes but suspected of being part of the state-sponsored climate of fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), get up!
BREMNER: The party's influence extends to every corner of Iraqi society. In two small communities, we witnessed more than 70 people being rounded up. Some are clearly terrified of what lies ahead, uncertain of their fate, overcome by nerves.
But as it ended, there was no British apology for the scale of the operation.
MAJ. PAUL NANSON, BRITISH ARMY: We came in firm, we came in fair. There was no shots fired. We gave a good warning before we came in. We've been playing warnings to people to stay in their houses, and we've only lifted those people who we've got very good intelligence on.
BREMNER: This is not a tactic that can be regularly repeated, or the British risk being accused of installing their own rule of terror. Despite the discomfort of a few, there's a conviction that this is a night's work that will benefit the majority.
Juliet Bremner in Basra.
COOPER: Well, from Basra, we go back to Baghdad. The question, was the coalition baiting Saddam Hussein, or testing the waters for a larger operation with its foray into Baghdad today?
For more on military strategy, let's go to CNN's Chris Plante, who is standing by live at the Pentagon -- Chris.
CHRIS PLANTE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
Well, pretty much everybody was taken by surprise this morning when elements of the 3rd Infantry Division drove right into Baghdad, taking a tour of southwest Baghdad and taking heavy fire along the way. A lot of force-on-force combat for the first time inside of the city of Baghdad.
The airport on the outskirts to the south and west, taken yesterday, and still some combat going on for that piece of real estate there. But significant pieces of armor, M-1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, making their way into the city of Baghdad proper. And we can expect to see a good deal more of that coming from the Marine Corps' 1st Expeditionary Force when they come in from the south and east. We're told that these probing actions, or reconnaissance in force missions, will continue to take place. The first ones earlier today not going all the way downtown, but just a few miles from the seat of government for the regime of Saddam Hussein, and plenty more to come.
We are expecting that aircraft are going to come into play now coming into the city of Baghdad for close air support missions to support the troops on the ground as they move forward and take on Iraqi forces of the Republican Guard, the special Republican Guard, and the special security organization there.
Again, a lot of Iraqi casualties inflicted. Some reports of U.S. casualties, reports not very high at this point on the U.S. side. But a good deal of action taking place, and in case there is any question yesterday as to whether the battle for Baghdad is on, it is pretty clear where it stands today.
At the U.S. Central Command today, briefers said that it's certainly not over. There's plenty more to come. And here's how they explained it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART, JR., U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Victory will come, of that there is no doubt. But this fight is far from over. As we have said, we have been able to move into the area of Baghdad city. As you look at the map of Iraq, you'll note that there are many other parts of the country where we have not yet taken control of enemy forces in that region, and so the fight will continue. The fight is far from finished in Baghdad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLANTE: It's apparently clear to the people in Baghdad now that U.S. forces, coalition forces, are very close in to this city, now in parts of the city. The Iraqis' information minister saying yesterday that they were nowhere near. Apparently some other word is getting out to the public there now, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Chris, what a difference a day makes, huh? Thanks very much. Chris Plante live at the Pentagon. We'll come back to you a little bit later on.
The death of a Marine from Massachusetts today drove up the casualty count from Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Pentagon now says 79 Americans have been killed in the war, 65 by hostile fire. Twenty- seven British troops have been killed, six by hostile fire, 19 have died in accidents. And the cause of two other deaths remain undetermined at this time.
Now, Iraq's state-run television says 420 Iraqis have died and about 4,000 have been injured. U.S. Central Command says it has 6,500 Iraqi prisoners. The Iraqi government is not releasing casualty information.
In a minute, we will take you back to the United States, where the families of some missing U.S. soldiers have heard the worst, the most terrible news they could. Our next stop, Arizona. CNN's Rusty Dornin standing by to bring us memories of a native daughter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lori Piestewa's hometown mourns the loss of the mother of two, and her Native American family says, "She was our lady warrior." More coming up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Our coverage continues now.
One of those being mourned today is Private First Class Lori Ann Piestewa. She is remembered as a soldier, a mother, and one of just a few Native American women from the Hopi Nation serving in the U.S. military.
CNN's Rusty Dornin is standing by live in Piestewa's home town of Tuba City, Arizona -- Rusty.
DORNIN: That's right, Anderson.
Lori Piestewa, as you said, was the mother of two. She was a Hopi Indian living here on the Navajo reservation in Tuba City.
Now, folks here feel like they are all family, and in many ways they are. Many of the Indian families are clans or related to folks here. And so when things happened -- when she first disappeared, the entire town really jumped in and painted this town yellow. And they've been on pins and needles for the past two weeks, of course.
And when the news came in last night, family and friends gathered at the Piestewa home. But people are still very crushed by what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TISHA CHARLEY, FORMER CLASSMATE: People are taking it -- taking it pretty bad. Some people -- some people know her, they're family friends, or they're a friend of the family, or they're friend of a friend that knew the family. So either way, you know, you know the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: Now, now one very good friend of Lori Piestewa was Jessica Lynch. They were roommates and good friends before they even went to Fort Bliss and were deployed together. In fact, Lori Piestewa's mother's went down to El Paso at one time and met Jessica Lynch before the girls did leave to go to for overseas.
Now, their family does not know when the body is going to be returned. There may be a service tomorrow. But this whole town, you know, comes up with all sorts of ways to honor Lori Piestewa. You can see down the street here, there's a gentleman, he was walking down the street with a few other people. They said they were doing a Walk of Life in celebration of Lori Piestewa's life.
She was very patriotic. It was very important for her to serve her country. And that's why they incorporated the American flag into the Walk of Life for Lori Piestewa. A town very hard hit by this tragedy, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, understandably so. Rusty, is there any information that's been released publicly about the exact circumstances of how Lori Piestewa was killed?
DORNIN: There has not been any details released so far. Of course, the speculation would be that Jessica Lynch knows a lot about what happened, and they have not released the details of what actually happened, of course, in that firefight and how Lori and her comrades were killed.
COOPER: All right. Rusty Dornin, thanks. As you said, the townspeople at this point really want to remember her life more than the circumstances of her death, and understandably so. Rusty Dornin, thanks very much.
After the headlines, we're going to focus on some of the war's top questions. Iraqi leaders keep showing up on television. Could and will the U.S. special forces take them out, instead of tuning them in?
Also later, a hot battle inside the administration. Who better to call than "THE CAPITAL GANG"?
We are going to Wolf Blitzer right now -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Thanks, Anderson. We'll have all of that coming up.
But first, that we want to finish up on the whole issue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch. "Please don't let anybody leave me," that's what Jessica Lynch pleaded to her rescuers as they rushed her stretcher to a helicopter to lift her out of captivity.
Today, U.S. Central Command released more dramatic details of Lynch's early-morning rescue from a hospital in Nasiriyah on Wednesday. According to CentCom, when a special ops team found her battered with gunshot wounds and broken bones, she didn't respond to her name. Again they said, "Jessica Lynch, we're United States soldiers here, and we're here to protect you and take you home." The 19-year-old answered, "I'm an American soldier too."
Today, in a curious twist, Lynch's dog tags were found in the home of a suspected Ba'ath Party member, according to CNN's Jason Bellini.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, celebration over Lynch's rescue was tempered by word that eight other members of her unit captured in the same ambush did not make it out of Iraq alive. Nevertheless, Lynch's folks are now en route to Germany to see her, and they're thrilled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG LYNCH, JESSICA'S FATHER: It's a happy occasion, in a way.
DEE LYNCH, JESSICA'S MOTHER: I'm real happy about it. You know what I mean? I can't wait. I mean, I know it's -- you know, it's going to be sad too, because of the, you know, the circumstances, but, no, I'm happy to see her. Can't wait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The bodies of those eight others from Lynch's unit were found during her rescue.
Now, people who've been praying for their safe return are preparing to say a final goodbye.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is at Fort Bliss, Texas, where the 507th Maintenance Company is based. He is joining us now live -- Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Well, many of the soldiers, part of this 507th Maintenance Company that deployed from here in mid-February, and many of family members who we have spoken with since this ambush happened almost two weeks ago, say they never expected these soldiers to be anywhere near the front lines, anywhere near harm's way. These maintenance companies are supposed to be able to help out the soldiers on the front lines, making sure they're (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ... all of their equipment is working properly.
So quite frankly, a lot of these family members have not only been stunned by what has happened, but they were very shocked to find out that many of their family members were so close into harm's way.
So the news that these soldiers will not be coming home here to Fort Bliss alive is a devastating news. The front page of "The El Paso Times" here reading, "The worst news possible that has arrived here at Fort Bliss."
There are preparations under way to memorialize the soldiers of the 507th Maintenance Company, and a special memorial service will -- is scheduled for next Friday. A time and place has not been announced publicly yet.
But there's also a regularly scheduled church service tomorrow, which will reflect on the lives of these soldiers as well, and a lot of these soldiers and military family members of this community looking forward to that as a way of being able to deal with what has happened.
And as you look down the list of all the soldiers of the 507th Maintenance Company, wide variety of ages, but quite a few young people there as well. Private Ruben Estrella-Soto of El Paso, 18 years old, and a little while ago we were able to speak with some of his family members, and they told us that he was looking forward to coming back from Iraq, that he had plans of getting married.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HECTOR FEGURA PEREZ, SOTO'S COUSIN: He was 18 years old. He was barely graduated from Desertview here high school. And, you know, he was a really young guy, you know, to die. He had -- he was -- he had great hopes for his life. I talked to him before he left to the war, you know, and he wanted to get married when he came back from war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Now, as I mentioned, Wolf, here the military officials here at Fort Bliss preparing a special memorial service for next Friday. That will be here at Fort Bliss, and we're told initially here that perhaps this will be open to the public.
And it's good news for many of residents here in the El Paso area. So many folks not necessarily involved with this base in particular that have been emotionally attached to this story as they have watched the outcome of the lives of the soldiers in the 507th Maintenance Company.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: It's a Maintenance Company, it's not the infantry, it's not combat, it's not supposed to happen to them, but it did. Ed Lavandera at Fort Bliss, thanks very much for that report.
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: We'll look at a different kind of battle, a hot battle inside the administration. We've called up "THE CAPITAL GANG." Here is Mark Shields.
MARK SHIELDS, THE CAPITAL GANG: Anderson, THE GANG will talk about Colin Powell and Don Rumsfeld, each seeking to run the show in postwar Iraq. And a possible next battlegound for U.S. forces, coming up on "CAPITAL GANG."
BLITZER: But coming up, the battle you may not be hearing about. Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, are they in harmony yet, or will it come down to survival of the fittest? Members of "THE CAPITAL GANG" weigh in immediately when we come back.
COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage.
There is a hot battle under way not only in Iraq. This is a different kind of battle here at home, a battle in the Bush cabinet. We have drafted the members of CNN's "CAPITAL GANG" to try to figure out who is winning.
SHIELDS: Thank you, Anderson. Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I am Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, and Margaret Carlson.
Bob Novak, with U.S. troops entering the city of Baghdad, does this give Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a leg up on Secretary of State Colin Powell, in just who will run postwar Iraq?
ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Mark, that decision has been made, and it is going to be the Pentagon that's going to run it. And whatever else you say about Colin Powell, he's a good soldier. He will -- he -- when the decision is made, he doesn't fight it behind the scenes. And I think all of this story about him demanding a role is wrong.
The fight is, what is the policy of the U.S. government going to be after -- after the -- winning this war? And is it important that the United States try to mend some of its tattered relations with erstwhile friends? And that's where you will have conflict, I think, between Powell and Rumsfeld.
SHIELDS: Well, Margaret, Congress this past week, in its appropriation, said $2.5 billion in reconstruction and rebuilding to the State Department, not to the Pentagon, and the White House apparently upset about that.
MARGARET CARLSON, THE CAPITAL GANG: Right. I disagree with Bob somewhat in that I think the fighting along the Potomac is going to be fiercer along the Tigris and the Euphrates, because Powell has not given up, and he may be a quieter fighter than Rumsfeld, but he leaked this week that Rumsfeld was pushing former CIA director James Woolsey to be on -- at -- the minister of information, a former CIA agent.
And Rumsfeld did not want that out, and it was shot down in that, you know, this is not a good signal to send to the Iraqis. So I wouldn't count Powell out with his internationalist view of how it should be run versus Rumsfeld, which is the activist, unilateral, and it will be my way with Ahmed Chalabi running it, or whomever I say running it. That's the Rumsfeld (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, you're aware, you're aware of the personalities of the two men as well as the issues involved. Can you address that?
AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Well, well, Rumsfeld has to be terribly involved now, because this war has been remarkably successful. Bob, I think certainly that's the way things are headed right now. But I'm not sure that that won't be moderated. The aftermath always was going to be tougher than the war, Mark, and there are three dangers of having the U.S. military unilaterally running a post-Saddam Iraq.
First of all, the cost is going to be prohibitive. Give up tax cuts and everything if you're going to do that, because we really -- open-ended, and it's going to be prohibitive... NOVAK: But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- listen...
HUNT: ... secondly...
NOVAK: ... is this a debate on tax cuts?
HUNT: No, no, no, but I'm saying...
HUNT: ... the cost...
NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I hope not, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
HUNT: ... the cost will be huge.
Secondly, I think the -- we are ill prepared to deal with the humanitarian efforts, which will be massive then. The NGOs and everything will work much better with some kind of international organization. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Americans are going to be sitting ducks over there.
Lathe Kuba (ph), one of the smartest of the Iraqi exiles and a real hawk in taking Saddam out, told me about six weeks ago, he says, The honeymoon will last a month or so. And then Americans will be in harm ways -- harm's way. We need some kind of international flag.
SHIELDS: Let me just make one point, and that was, I regret the debates, the presidential debates of 2000, and president -- and candidate George W. Bush said, and I thought it made sense, If we are an arrogant nation, they will resent us. If we're a humble nation but strong, they will welcome us. And I think a test of American humility will be whether, in fact, the United States does reach out to the U.N., to the other nations.
I mean, what about the Brits, Bob?
NOVAK: Well, well, you just mentioned, you just mentioned the U.N., that, that, now, see, that's another factor. I mean, obviously the State Department's going to be involved in the -- in postwar Iraq. Even though I still point to the Pentagon is going to have the main say. But the U.N. is another matter.
And there's no real disagreement between Powell and Rumsfeld on that, that the U.N., people were saying, We don't want this war, we don't want to go to war, but we're going to run the country after you shed the blood. I think that Powell and Rumsfeld are agreed on that.
CARLSON: But Tony Blair needs to bring the U.N. back in. He put his -- he put himself out for this country. He stood by Bush going in alone. I mean, the coalition of the willing was basically Britain and the United States.
NOVAK: I don't think (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I don't think President Bush is going to say, Boy, the French and the Germans weren't very helpful, but we'd like them to help us (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Iraq. CARLSON: Otherwise it's America conquering a country.
HUNT: Mark, I ducked your question on Rumsfeld and Powell, really.
SHIELDS: Yes, go ahead.
HUNT: Let me just come back to it for a sec. Here are two really tough, seasoned guys. And I don't think this fight is over. I think it's -- as a matter of fact, I think this is the most bitter fight I have ever seen. State and Defense always argue. I don't think we've ever -- it's ever been at this level.
Someone told me almost it's almost to a point where it's dysfunctional now, it's so bitter. But -- and you talk to the emissaries of the two. Richard Perle, a great Rumsfeld confidante, basically considers Colin Powell a naive fool on these issues, and some of the Powell adherents basically have contempt for what they consider the chickenhawks on the Rumsfeld side. This is really bitter stuff, Mark.
NOVAK: But the question, the question is, after this war is whether the United States says, OK, who's next? Who's next in this thing? Or whether we say, We've got to mend some fences with the rest of world. We got to mend our fences with our allies in Europe. We got to mend fences with the Arab world, with the rest of the world.
And I believe -- I don't believe that President Bush has definitely gone into the hardline Rumsfeld position on that.
SHIELDS: Wait, let me just pick up on your point about Powell has signed off. Colin Powell said at the NATO meeting this week, There's an important role for the U.N., it's the work of reconstruction, rebuilding of Iraq will require the entire international community.
I mean, for one thing, you can't write a national charter for Iraq without the U.N. being involved. I mean, this is a question, are we going to ask -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- and I think Margaret (UNINTELLIGIBLE), arrogant unilaterally again, and the Brits, who put a bigger share of their own military force into this. Are we going cut them out?
NOVAK: I don't believe, I don't believe, Mark, that Colin Powell is going to go quietly and say, OK, or not quietly, forget that. He is not going to say, OK, the U.N., you're going to run this thing. I don't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that as his position. I know that's not his position.
CARLSON: It may not be his position, but you say we need to mend fences. And one way is to bring in the U.N. to share the peacekeeping, because the peace will be every bit as hard as the war.
SHIELDS: I agree. Now, what about next? I mean, Bob has raised an important question, the rumor around town, the report is that Syria is next, and that Douglas Feith at the Defense Department is already working a contingency plan with a green light to work on that contingency plan from Don Rumsfeld for a potential venture into Syria, and the allegation being that the weapons of mass destruction been moved across the border, Al.
HUNT: Well, militarily, be -- that would be a cakewalk. Be just as (UNINTELLIGIBLE), probably be easier than Iraq. But the real danger is Iran. And if you want to talk about something that's formidable, Iran is sitting right there. They're a predominantly Shi'a country. The Shi'as are going to dominate in Iraq. And I think that right now, to -- that the big issue in the next year is going to be U.S. policy towards Iran.
That's a much tougher nut to crack.
NOVAK: But you're not, you're not suggesting the decision has been made to attack Syria...
HUNT: No, I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
NOVAK: ... because I don't believe...
HUNT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- I, I, I...
NOVAK: ... and I really do believe...
HUNT: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) --
NOVAK: ... I really do believe that President Bush had a hard time before he finally decided, Boy, we got to go into Iraq. I don't think he has any inclination, even though...
NOVAK: ... people in the Pentagon with that inclination, to go into Syria.
HUNT: I agree with you, Bob.
CARLSON: Right. And, I mean, Rumsfeld made the case, made a case against Syria for giving weapons to the Iraqis. But I think that the United States, getting into another conflagration right away, we would be seen as the bullies of the world.
SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson.
That's all for THE CAPITAL GANG. But we will be back tomorrow night. And now back to Wolf Blitzer in Kuwait.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mark. I'll see you guys back in Washington one of these days. In the meantime, more sightings of Saddam Hussein. Iraqi leaders are getting out of Baghdad, but others could soon be bull's eyes for U.S. troops. What does it all mean for the fighting on the ground? We will have details in 75 seconds.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Targeting the regime, we'll tell you exactly what U.S. forces will do and how they will focus on those regime targets, even though they might be 100 feet below the surface. Stay with us.
SHIELDS: Well, Saddam was back on Iraqi TV today with his top military leaders and his two sons. They've also been seen around Baghdad. Now, if the videos are real and are recent, the question is, are they leaving themselves open as potential targets for special operations units?
With more on that, here is CNN's Miles O'Brien.
O'BRIEN: Thanks very much, Anderson.
Yes, let's talk about targeting the regime, and whether it becomes significantly easier the closer the coalition gets. Some of this is common sense. The closer you get, the closer you get. But there are some subtleties to this.
And to help us sort out those subtleties is retired General David Grange joining us from Madison, Wisconsin, this evening.
General Grange, good to have you with us.
GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: How are you doing, Miles?
O'BRIEN: I am well.
Let -- I want to show you a piece of tape, a live interview from earlier today, the information minister of Iraq. There he is. He was talking live, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf. And I half expected to see an Apache helicopter off in the distance, and him being targeted. Is the Iraqi regime getting a little sloppy here, perhaps?
GRANGE: Well, I think so. I'm surprised he's still talking. You know, if the coalition forces feel anything like I do, I'm surprised, from after hearing his second-grade propaganda every night, that he hasn't been eliminated.
O'BRIEN: Is this -- are they making themselves easier, more likely targets? And let's take a look at Saddam Hussein the other day, what is purported to be Saddam Hussein, out among people in the streets of Baghdad. You can see the smoke off in the distance, so perhaps this happened within the past couple of weeks.
Is there a bit of hubris in all this? And could that be exploited by the coalition forces? GRANGE: Well, I think it may be exploited right now. You know, one theory may be, they're getting some information from these interviews. I mean, if you look at this one with Saddam, supposedly, you can tell just from his body actions, even if he isn't an expert, if you're not an expert in the evaluation of a double, that he looks quite fake. He looks like a puppet. He looks like he is being talked through this entire charade in the streets.
Again, these are tapes, so it's not immediate targeting information. But you can probably make some things out. And I am surprised that whether he's a double or not, this person's still alive. So I, you know, maybe it's some information to be gained, and that's why they are not dead.
O'BRIEN: All right. To what extent does anything that we are seeing in this realm result in -- and the term is actionable, actionable intelligence for special forces or whomever to target the regime?
GRANGE: Well, that's the key word, actionable intelligence. This type of intelligence is fleeting. It's a small window of opportunity to take action, whether it be from a special operations ground team, snipers, as an example, or a raiding party, or it could be from an air strike or an Apache helicopter, something like that.
But it's very fleeting, I think, intelligence, and windows of opportunity to make a strike. And so since most of these things are taped, it's hard to get that actual intelligence in a quick enough manner to act right then and take them down, but this providing some information. I am really surprised that some of these characters that we're seeing continue to appear on television.
O'BRIEN: All right. Let's take a zoom into Baghdad, using our earthviewer.com, and focus in on the Republican palace. Of course, we don't know that that is where Saddam Hussein is, but we do know that beneath that Republican palace, right on the shores of the Tigris River, that mother of all palaces, if you will, there is a significant bunker. Western reports have consistently said that there's a $60 million bunker.
Whether Saddam is in there or not, we wanted to give you just sort of an idea of what it might look like, based on some of these reports. Let's roll the animation, take you down beneath the Republican palace there, and zoom you in. Hundred feet below, and if you look at this first stop along the way there, built on springs to guard against a nuclear blast. We're told it can survive a nuclear blast as close as 600 feet away.
Some 6,000 square feet. And it contains all of the comforts of home. Is it likely that Saddam Hussein and his regime are in there?
GRANGE: Well, it's a good chance that they're in a bunker like this. And keep in mind that not all these bunkers are directly beneath the palace or the mosque or the hospital, wherever it's located. They may go down 100 feet and they'll go a block or two laterally, and then that's where the true bunker is, and that may be beneath a residential area.
So a penetrating bomb may or may not reach that depth, or even if it could, take out the actual command and control center. A lot of these things are remoted horizontally as well as vertically for command and control and communications.
O'BRIEN: Let's take an -- a look at an animation of one of these so-called bunker-buster bombs. And as you said, this, the efficacy of this, this is coming off of an F-15, and down it goes. And the idea here is here that these bombs are designed with a delayed fuse so that they can auger in and then explode.
But if you are talking about a bunker that's 100 feet below the surface, that's really not going to do the job. What would be some alternatives, maybe in the world of special operations, maybe some other tactic, to go after someone in a bunker like that?
GRANGE: Yes, Miles, the special operations forces, a variety of them, are obviously trained to take down complexes, to take down building structures, as well as other structures. It takes a lot of training to do this properly. It requires getting through multiple layers of doorways, hallways, floors, made of a lot of different types of materials. They're trained on that type of demolitions, or even what they call mechanical breaches to get in.
Once they go down, they then again close-quarter combat to eliminate any kind of security force as they continue down and try to find to capture or kill enemy leadership.
And the other option could be, you burn them out. You smoke them out. In other words, you use a type of fuel air explosive that's in placed by hand. As you know, already, you can do that by bomb some aircraft as an example.
But you can also, there's also techniques to do that in place by ground forces. And you just do that, you burn them out before you even enter and put your people at risk to go through these layers of fortifications and hallways and doorways, passageways.
But there -- the special ops, operations people can do it.
O'BRIEN: All right, David Grange, retired general, United States Army man with some special operations background. Sounds like very messy close quarters combat. Thank you very much for your insights. We'll check in with you a little bit later.
And now we'll send it to Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Miles. Thanks very much to General Grange as well.
In just a moment, the most horrifying discovery yet in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM EWART, ITV NEWS: Today's discovery seems to provide shocking evidence of atrocities under Saddam Hussein's regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What's inside these wooden boxes is something you don't want to know about, but something you can't go without knowing.
And later, are you better informed about the war than the rest of the world? The answers are coming up in just 60 seconds.
SHIELDS: In a warehouse between Basra and Azubayr today, a gruesome discovery. This, of course, we're talking about southeastern Iraq. British troops found hundreds of boxes of human remains. They are too old to be from this war. But as Tim Ewart explains, they could be a sign of past atrocities by the Iraqi regime.
EWART (voice-over): It was a discovery that horrified the soldiers who made it. The remains of hundreds of men were found in plastic bags and unsealed hard-board coffins. British troops found the bodies at an abandoned Iraqi military base on the outskirts of Azubayr. The evidence suggested it was the scene of appalling atrocities.
The teeth in many of the skulls had been broken, and bones appeared to be wrapped in strips of military uniform. It's not clear how long the bodies had lain here, but they were clearly not from this war.
CAPT. JACK KEMP, BRITISH ARMY: You come to expect everything in war fighting. The coffins were there. It was a bit more of a surprise when I discovered the bags with the human remains inside.
EWART: Inside a neighboring building, there was evidence of cells and a catalog of photographs of the dead. Most had died from gunshot wounds to the head. Others were mutilated beyond recognition, their faces burned and swollen.
Outside, soldiers discovered what they described as a purpose- built shooting gallery, the brickwork behind it riddled with bullets.
Identity cards revealed the names of some of the dead. Forensic specialists will now visit the scene and hope to establish the truth of what happened here and when.
(on camera): Today's discovery seems to provide shocking evidence of atrocities under Saddam Hussein's regime. Most people are afraid to talk openly about what's been happening here. But when they do, British soldiers believe, more horrors will come to light.
Tim Ewart, ITV News, Azubayr.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: It's a well-known fact by now that France is against the war, but the battles for Baghdad and those in the north and south are being seen in French living rooms just like they are in yours.
CNN's Bruce Burkhardt looks at war's TV reception around the world.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The march to Baghdad, as seen on French TV. A heavy dose of skepticism pervades much of what we have seen on French TV. Here is what the reporter says.
"The images are controlled by the Pentagon. Look at this American reporter, who is with the 3rd Infantry. A full hour the camera is trained on the tank without once seeing the surrounding countryside."
And even they used this CNN clip with Walt Rodgers explaining that the rules of the embedded reporting don't allow shots that would give away their location, this report suggests the Pentagon is running the television war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODGERS: ... at least turn the camera around on the correspondent...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURKHARDT: On the other hand, this English-speaking newscast from China on state-owned CCTV seems quite neutral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... on Thursday. Presidential palaces, government buildings, and military installations are being targeted in the campaign with the U.S. Central Command in Qatar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURKHARDT: CCTV also features occasional montages, which show the suffering of war.
RAI (ph) Television in Italy also maintains a fairly neutral tone, but has devoted considerable resources to covering the war -- a reporter in Baghdad, the anchor in Qatar, and several embedded reporters.
The translation? "Tensions on board are high as we are flying so low to the ground."
This is CTV News from Canada. There too, the war is always the top story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Now for a look of the big picture, we go to the Smart Board, where we...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURKHARDT: Better than that than a dumb board. But whatever the name, it's now a staple of TV coverage in many parts of the world, not just the U.S., a big map and retired military officers trying to make sense of it all.
With this war, to borrow an expression from an earlier era, the whole world is watching.
Bruce Burkhardt, CNN.
COOPER: They certainly are.
If you are getting a glass of water during the break, be sure to bring it back for our next report. It's going to taste better, I guarantee you, after Richard Blystone shows you what they are going through just to get a glass of water in parts of Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are three top priorities here. Number one, water. Number two, water. Number three, water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Getting the waterworks to work, when live from the front lines returns. And before you go to the kitchen, check out these still photos from the Associated Press.
BLITZER: This important programming note. Tomorrow on a special "LATE EDITION," I'll have the special interview with the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace. He'll be my guest tomorrow at noon Eastern, 9:00 a.m. Pacific.
For Iraqi civilians, nothing is easy nowadays, not even getting a drink of water. And while help is certainly on the way, CNN's Richard Blystone reports that the helpers face a daunting challenge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, he has just returned from this checkpoint. He drove up here.
BLYSTONE: It's like running through deep sand in leg irons.
(UNINTELLIGIBLE); Oh, Dristan, that's just... (CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BURKHARDT: Checkpoint after checkpoint, delay after delay, papers and more papers. The International Rescue Committee on its first recon into Umm Qasr.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got freedom of movement to the local area.
BURKHARDT: Security briefing, the NGOs need that, because in the wrong environment, they could do more harm than good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have got now abundance of water.
BURKHARDT: They head up the road to check out the water plant. No soldiers for escort, no helmets, no body armor. Those would give the wrong message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even prior to the war, this place was in probably not the best of condition, but it seems to function.
BURKHARDT: They find the military assessment was a little too upbeat.
(on camera): There are three top priorities here. Number one, water. Number two, water. Number three, water. And this plant has not put out drinkable water for more than 12 years.
(voice-over): The flow down from Basra to the north is weak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaks in Arabic)
BURKHARDT: He says it's because people are breaking into the pipeline for water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The limit's 2,000.
BURKHARDT: The water specialists gets to work and finds it not only unpleasant but unsafe. But even filtered and chlorinated, it's several times too salty. That's because new irrigation dams up the Tigris and Euphrates have drained the river so much, they can no longer hold back the sea water from the Gulf.
Nothing IRC can do about that. They head north. And half an hour up, they find farmers tapping the water line, and drinking it too, they say, because it's all they have.
Back in Umm Qasr, water is literally like money. British forces fill tankers from a pipeline out of Kuwait. But the problem is getting enough out to 60,000 people. Angry people here say there'll be trouble if things don't improve in the next couple of days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water is an issue in Umm Qasr. We can imagine it's going to be a much more significant issue, pressing issue, in Basra, Nasiriyah.
BURKHARDT: And it's a long, long way to Baghdad.
Richard Blystone, CNN, Umm Qasr, Iraq.
BLITZER: And Anderson, water is only one of the enormous humanitarian challenges facing the international community right now in dealing with Iraq. There are plenty of others, enormous challenges just waiting ahead, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, there certainly are. That's -- and we're going to actually look at some of those challenges in our next hour. We're also going to look at the question of what is Saddam Hussein thinking? With so many dire threats before the war and so little having coming to light, who exactly is in control in Iraq? And what are Hussein's options at this point? That and more coming up in our next hour.
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