CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Analysis of Conditions in Iraq
Aired April 10, 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: President Bush and Tony Blair tell the Iraqi people they'll soon be free on a day that brings grim, vivid proof that war is still not yet over. Four Marines are seriously hurt by a suicide bomber one day after that statue of Saddam Hussein fell in the center of the Iraqi capital. We'll get live reports from Baghdad, and we'll talk with the soldier who draped the U.S. flag over Saddam's face yesterday. And we've got reporters in northern Iraq, where U.S. and Kurdish troops made some major advances today.
We start out with Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, back in Baghdad.
What's it like, Christiane, to be there again?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for me personally, it's actually very interesting and gratifying because I was banned by the Saddam Hussein regime, and now to come back at this moment is gratifying. But in terms of the story, there is an enormous difference, obviously, in the atmosphere here than has been over the last few years. People are happy to see the Marines and the Army, but on the same hand, there's a great deal of looting, a great deal of lawlessness and disorder. And that is worrying quite a lot of people.
There was also today a suicide bombing attack right here in Baghdad, in Saddam City, in which a man strapped with explosives approached a Marine checkpoint and basically blew himself up and wounded four Marines. So that was a big worry. And of course, we had been briefed by senior Marine commanders on the way in here that that was one of the things they were very concerned about, that even though the regime here has pretty much been ejected, that they still have to deal with these irregular forces, with the possibility of suicide attacks and with these people who've sort of slunk back into the civilian structure and who can take potshots at any time.
There have been sniping attacks. We were told last night that several Marines were injured or, indeed, killed by sniping attacks even after those celebrations that you all saw after yesterday. So there is a concern about that, and one commander telling us that some people here, including, he said, third-country nationals -- wouldn't be specific -- have simply one thing on their mind, and that is to kill Americans -- Larry.
KING: Christiane, are you still seeing many, many, many people supporting of the troops? Are you seeing a lot of jubilant people?
AMANPOUR: Can you repeat that? I'm sorry. We have a fairly bad connection. KING: OK. Are you seeing a lot of jubilant people, a lot of people very happy, as we saw yesterday, about the arrival of the Americans and the British and the troops in general?
AMANPOUR: Yes. I think I heard what you said, and in general, they are quite happy. And we've been seeing scenes of that ourselves. As we came in today, on the route in, we were ourselves waved and cheered by people and thumbs-up and this and that. But of course, when there were -- when there were Marines on he road and in various places, we saw lots of people gathered around, and there were lots of thumbs up and lots of smiles and people relieved. They are pleased that this is over. But they do have the concerns that I've mentioned, the issue of order being restored here, the issue of electricity, phone, the radio networks, the television networks. There's a lot that isn't working right now, and that is of concern to the people here.
KING: Thank you, Christiane. We'll be going back to you. We hope we clear up that sound difficulty.
Let's go to another location in Baghdad, and guess who's there? Our man Nic Robertson. For so many nights, he reported to us from the Iraqi border with Jordan, and now he is back in Baghdad. He was expelled a few weeks ago, and he returns to a very different Baghdad.
What's it like for you, Nic? What does it feel like to be back?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, it's very interesting to be back. It is really changed times from the last time I was in this hotel, about two-and-a-half weeks ago, having it full of Iraqi officials, the minders that used to accompany us out whenever we went to -- whenever we went to go and film. It's completely changed. They're all gone, so there's a sort of feeling of professional freedom, if you will, that you're much freer to go out around the city and take a look and find out what's going on.
But the feeling on the street much different. There is that sense that people are happy. They certainly say that they're happy that coalition forces, U.S. troops, Marines, infantrymen are here, providing -- having -- having pushed out the regime and giving them a chance of a -- of a perhaps better life. But there's also a real sense here of reticence of some people, being very cautious at this time, trying to weigh up exactly how these soldiers will react in situations in the city, exactly what sort of moves towards democracy will happen. So there's a real level of cautiousness. People -- people are not fully sure how and what the coalition will do here in the city.
If you remember, under President Saddam Hussein, they were told that the U.S. troops were coming here. They were going to come and dominate the region, take the oil, that this was all a conspiracy against the people of Iraq. So this effect really hasn't worn off yet, and some people, even as ridiculous as this seems at this late stage now, still think the Iraqi leader may come back with some of his henchmen. And there's a level of concern about that. But overall, it's -- it's certainly a freer environment for a journalist to operate in. However, having said that, Larry, it is still very dangerous here. The Marines are still in the line of fire. The infantrymen on the other side of the river are still in the line of fire. They have checkpoints around the city, and as we saw today with that suicide bombing, it is still very dangerous. And for journalists working here, as well, there is an element of extreme caution that needs to be used to do your work, Larry.
KING: Speaking, Nic, of Saddam Hussein, what's the story? What -- are there a lot of rumors? What do you hear? Do you hear me, Nic? OK, I asked if you heard anything about Saddam Hussein's whereabouts or what might have happened to him.
Apparently, we've lost contact with Nic. Let's go to Jane Arraf in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, and under -- now what? That city has fallen? In whose hands is it now, Jane?
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you took a look around the city, Larry, it would look like it were actually in Kurdish hands, which, of course, is the last thing that Turkey wants and the last thing that the U.S. wants. But it does appear to be only temporary. Essentially, U.S. special forces came in after Iraqi forces withdrew. And Peshmerga, those Kurdish fighters, came in to fill that vacuum. So they were very visible in the streets today, along with those scenes of celebration, with people toppling a statue of Saddam and setting his portrait on fire. They probably will withdraw, at some point.
Now, the scenes that we saw -- there actually weren't a lot of people in the streets. It looked like there were, but there were small numbers very noisily rejoining at this. A lot of other people were staying home, wondering what exactly is going to happen. As you know, it's a multi-ethnic city, but today it was really the day for Kurdish forces and the Kurdish people in the streets -- Larry.
KING: That jubilance -- is that widespread?
ARRAF: It's certainly widespread in the sense that pretty well everyone we ran into, anyway, was incredibly relieved, and more than relieved. That would be understating it. It felt a measure of absolute joy to see the repression that they've suffered for so many years gone and gone so quickly. We went to jails, to public security buildings and saw prisoners who were going to see their cells, who just wanted to walk in there as free men.
But some of the measure of what we're seeing is the looting that's going on in Kirkuk, as well as other cities. Here it's almost purely government buildings, but it is a reflection of the anger that exists here. And also, the sense of caution, as well. People are waiting to see what happens, if the Americans come in in greater numbers. There aren't a lot of Americans on the streets in Kirkuk, and a lot of people wish there were, to maintain order -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Jane Arraf, in Kirkuk, northern Iraq. Back to Baghdad and Christiane Amanpour. What are you hearing about Saddam Hussein, Christiane? Christiane, do you hear me all right?
OK, we're going to take a break and try to straighten out these transmissions. We'll be back with more. Don't go away.
KING: We apologize for the transmission difficulties with Christiane Amanpour and with Nic Robertson. Let's welcome a panel. And we'll be including your phone calls. By the way, General Clark and Congressman Simmons and Brigadier General Grange will be aboard later.
In London is Matt McCallester. Matt is the "Newsday" reporter who was jailed in Iraq for a week. He hopes to get back to Baghdad soon. He's worked as "Newsday's" Middle East correspondent. In Amman, Jordan, is Christopher Dickey, "Newsweek's" Middle East regional editor. In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is Salah Negm, director of News al Arabiya. And in London is Con Coughlin, the author of "Saddam: King of Terror." He's executive director of the "Sunday Telegraph" in London.
But first, before we talk with our panel, let's go to James Bays. James is in Baghdad. He has been in the Palestine Hotel since March 7. So you were there, James, when it was shot at?
JAMES BAYS, ITN: Sorry, it's breaking up a little here.
KING: OK, James. Until we clear that up, I'm not going to go to any of the...
KING: I'm not going to go to the correspondents until we can break it up.
Matt McCallester, what is it like for you to see Baghdad clear again? And when are you going back?
MATTHEW MCALLESTER, REPORTER JAILED A WEEK BY IRAQ: I'm going back next weekend. I have to say, it's frustrating for me not to be there, after being there for so many weeks before we were carted off to prison. But on the other hand, it's just an extraordinary sight to see. Absolutely extraordinary.
KING: And what's it like for you, Christopher Dickey?
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, "NEWSWEEK": Well, I think for me, it's a great thing. I'm very happy to see that Saddam's gone. I've been writing about him for years, and the evils of his regime. But for the Arab world, it's a very mixed picture. I think there's a sense of humiliation that's mixed with the jubilation.
KING: And Salah, from the point of view of al Arabiya, what's your thoughts on Baghdad today, the day after what is now a historic date, April 9?
SALAH NEGM, DIR. OF NEWS AL ARABIYA TV: There is a lot of mixed feeling, as my colleague said before, but people are waiting to see what the future will bring them. There is a state of chaos now, and all the professionals, the civil servants, the real -- the real people are staying at home, and the looting is going on. The rest of the Arab world is watching in sadness, a little bit.
KING: The whole Arab world is watching in sadness? Why, Salah?
NEGM: I can't say the whole Arab world. I would say the feeling is sadness -- sadness because they didn't like to see foreign troops coming in an Arab capital. It's a scene that wasn't there for more than 50 years. The last time an Arab capital was -- have seen a foreign army, it was a long, long time ago. But at the same time, people were expecting that anyway. So it's a kind of sad day for that to happen, but at the same time, people are looking forward to a better future.
KING: Con Coughlin, author of "Saddam: King of Terror" and executive editor of the "Sunday Telegraph" in London -- first, what's your hunch as to what happened to him?
CON COUGHLIN, AUTHOR, "SADDAM: KING OF TERROR": Well, I think he's still alive. That's what I'm picking up through my sources. And I think he's finally left Baghdad. I mean, Saddam has never really been targeted with this intensity previously, and he's never really been on the run. The last time he was on the run was in about 1959, when he was involved in a failed assassination attempt. Then he ran off to Tikrit, and I think this time he'll be heading to Tikrit. That's probably the last part of Iraq where he will find some kind of loyalty towards him.
KING: He would not leave the country, Con?
COUGHLIN: Well, you know, we are in the land of speculation here, but having studied him all these years, I find it very hard to believe that Saddam would leave Iraq. That's my personal view.
KING: Matt McAllester, what do you think about Saddam Hussein? And is Tikrit the logical place for him to go?
MCALLESTER: I suspect that it is, and I suspect that he's there already. And if he is there, then there will be substantial battle in Tikrit because the whole town has been invested in so heavily. There are inter-familiar relations between Saddam's close family and extended tribe. And there are substantial deposits of the Republican Guard that are still there, and armaments around the town. I was there in October for the referendum. And I can see a big battle.
But it's not Baghdad. It's not a sprawling city of five million. It will be overrun some time, you know, sooner or later, and I suspect sooner.
KING: Chris Dickey, one of our guests yesterday said that Saddam Hussein will absolutely never give up. He would want to die a martyr. You concur?
DICKEY: Yes. Absolutely. Saddam Hussein is not only cruel, he really is cold-blooded. I think that he could stand right in the middle of a hail of bullets and would barely flinch. I think he's ready to die a martyr, and I think he's ready to take a lot of Americans with him, if he possibly can.
KING: So you think there's still going to a lot, like that suicide bombing, today, Chris? You expect a lot more occurrences like that?
DICKEY: I think the violence is going to come from a lot of different directions, and I think we've already seen that. It's not only going to be suicide bombers who support Saddam in one way or another, there's also going to be Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence that doesn't have much to do with Saddam. Just yesterday, one of the leading Shi'a clerics, one of the ones that the United States hoped to work with, was stabbed to death in the town of An Najaf.
KING: Christopher, does that lend you to think that this occupation for a while will be a mess?
DICKEY: Yes. I think one of the great dangers is not only looting and crime, it's that the United States is going to find itself in the middle of a lot of internal Iraqi feuds and tremendous competition for power, tremendous competition to fill the huge vacuum that's left, now that Saddam's regime of 35 years is fading away. And I'm not sure that the United States or its people are really prepared to be in there for the long haul, especially if it gets really bloody and really messy.
KING: Salah Negm of News al Arabiya, do you think he's heading for Tikrit?
NEGM: Well, there's a great mystery here because, suddenly, between one night, the whole Iraq leadership has vanished. It's not just the 20 ministers, it's something about 3,000 or 4,000 people from the leadership of the party, the government, the ministries, and no one knows where they are. Some people who are here think that there was a kind of arrangement and they left the country, heading for Tikrit to have a final stand. I don't think this is what people think here, and it will be suicidal in -- in the mind of anyone who thinks rightly. And no one thinks that Saddam Hussein is a suicidal person, actually.
KING: I'm going to ask you all about how the end game occurs, but I want to include some phone calls. And we'll start with Cleveland, Ohio. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. Yes. I was wondering what, if any, information do we have on any of our POWs or missing in action that we had the videos with, if they're still alive.
KING: Matt McAllester, what do we know?
MCALLESTER: I think that all we know is from the video clips. And these are men who are held, men and women held, and they were promised to be treated under the Geneva Convention, but I imagine their families are extremely worried about them at the moment.
KING: Colombia, South Carolina. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. I wondered, with the -- when the United States troops have -- with the United States troops in combat, with all of the various factions, like the Kurds, are we going to be able to get the Kurds out of places that they're in control of? And are we going to be willing to commit our troops to stop them or to remove them, even to kill them?
DICKEY: That's a tremendous problem, and I think it's going to be an extremely delicate situation. That's a good question because it brings up the central fact of the war now, which is that it's not only military, it's political. And there's a question about how these political ambitions are going to be dealt with by our own troops, who basically are just there to use their firepower. The situation in the north is enormously complicated, bringing in Turkey, Iran, the Kurds, Kurdish factions that often have fought against each other, and then our guys caught right in the middle. So I'm not sure how it's going to turn out, but it could be very -- very scary. Good question.
KING: Con, what do you think?
COUGHLIN: Yes, I agree with Chris, actually. I mean, the way things are shaping up reminds me of Lebanon in the 1980s, and Chris and I were both there for that. We saw the Israelis coming in to Lebanon, being welcomed as liberators. Within a few months, it all turned very ugly, and the Israelis on the back foot. And we have to be very careful now. This is a very delicate period. There are a lot of people in Iraq who have very strong aspirations for their own futures, which might not coincide with how we might see the future of Iraq. And we could have a very difficult period ahead of us.
KING: Richmond, Virginia. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. My question is to the panel in general. With as many of the Arab communities and countries in that region that are fearing the fact that there are Western powers in an Arab capital, why did they go 35 years without doing something on behalf of the Iraqi people themselves, rather than leaving it to a situation where other people had to come in and do this?
KING: It's a fair question. We'll start with Mr. Dickey.
DICKEY: It is a fair question, and I think a lot of Arabs ask themselves that question many times, not only about Saddam's regime, but about other regimes throughout the region. There's a -- but there's a feeling of hopelessness and sort of passivity, weakness, I think, throughout the Arab world, of impotence, I guess, would be the best word. And that's only aggravated, ironically, by the sight now of a Western power coming in and, in three weeks, overthrowing this regime which for 35 years nobody seemed able to touch. KING: Let's go to Deal (ph) Air Force Base in California. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question would be for Salah. The reports of weapons-grade plutonium and a possible chem-bio lab being discovered -- would the Arab's world opinion be changed if these reports turned out to be true?
KING: Good question. Salah?
NEGM: Well, no one really knows about the truth of these reports. Everyone here is waiting to see the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq discovered and the quantities and the effectiveness of them, and that will add or remove from the credibility of the case put by the United States here.
I'd like to comment also on the reaction of the Arab countries, why didn't they take action for 35 years. We cannot actually see a region in which a country would invade another country to remove its government because it judged it to be undemocratic. Who is going to judge what and where is the role of the United Nations. That's what people here would ask themselves.
KING: Matt McAllester, do weapons of mass destruction have to be found to prove -- to prove the support of the -- to prove that America and Britain was right?
MCALLESTER: Yes, I think, fundamentally, they do because that was the underpinning of the whole United Nations argument, and that's not something that is going to be forgotten. However, the images of Saddam's statues being toppled and the Iraqis cheering in the streets has given a sort of secondary level to this whole conflict, which is that this was a liberation of a people. And if I was a PR executive, I would be trying to spin it that way, as the days go past and we don't see the weapons of mass destruction that were promised to us by the United States and the United Kingdom.
KING: Christiane Amanpour is now -- I understand we can OK transmission-wise?
Christiane, what are you hearing there about Saddam Hussein? Our panel is saying the general feeling is that he is going to flee -- if he's not dead, he's fleeing to Tikrit.
AMANPOUR: Well, here, you can imagine that there are any number of rumors that are going around because the people have not seen any sort of finality to exactly the state of Saddam Hussein. It is just a rich territory for rumors. I've heard even this afternoon everything from people have been seeing him in their rear-view mirror as they drive along the street, to Saddam and his henchmen have left with the various convoys and gone to Syria, or as you say, that he may have gone to Tikrit. People don't know whether he's dead, whether he's alive. They're saying even that they may have spotted the famous "Chemical Ali," Ali Hassan Majid, who was declared by the British and the Americans most likely to have been dead. In any event, it's just a really rich rumor-mongering situation right now, as people really do not know. The question, if he has gone to Tikrit, is what will happen there next because we understand that in the north, in Kirkuk, when that city basically fell without a shot being fired, the Republican Guard retreated down to Tikrit. And again, we don't know whether that's going to be another focus of a U.S. battle there with the Republican Guard and whether or not eventually Saddam Hussein may be located.
But as I say, nobody knows for sure, and everybody is using their very fertile imaginations, and I might say, a bit of fear and anxiety to try to figure out where he may be. And I think you've heard already that people are concerned and won't still quite believe it until they see, if you like, to be crude, the body of the dictator. They just are afraid that somehow he's going to sort of pop up again.
KING: We only have Christiane for a few more moments, so we'll ask one more question of her. Can she -- Christiane, if you can -- OK, I'm sorry. She -- we thank Christiane Amanpour very much.
Let's take another call. We go to Perkinsfield, Ontario. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: Good evening, gentlemen. I would like to know if perhaps you would think that maybe the United States and Britain were a bit remiss in not having an interim authority ready right away to go into Iraq, because of the lawlessness and disorder that seems to be going on, but...
KING: That's a good question. A very good question. Matt McAllester, should the preparation have been better for some group or conclave or something to go in right away?
MCALLESTER: I think it's worrisome that there isn't a group ready. I think it would be slightly unrealistic to immediately put in place a police force, for example. There is a war still going on in the streets of Baghdad, in many of the quarters of the city. Policemen are not equipped to deal with that, and we see the inevitable fault. I mean, soldiers are not equipped to police the streets. So there's bound to be a gap, a vacuum, but it is worrisome that we don't yet know what kind of police force is going to look after that city of five million.
KING: If you're just joining us, we're talking with Matt McAllester in London, Christopher Dickey in Amman, Salah Negm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Con Coughlin in London. In a little while, we'll be meeting General Wesley Clark, Congressman Robert Simmons, himself a retired U.S. Army colonel, and Brigadier General David Grange.
Heidi Collins has news headlines, and we'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: We never forget that this is a program where you're involved. Let's go back to phone calls.
Burlington, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, how you doing?
CALLER: My question is this: everyone keepings talking about Hussein and how much money he's amassed, perhaps $10-20 billion if that is correction why would he stick around? Is it not probable that he's been gone even before the war has started with all of the money that he's amassed?
KING: Let's ask that of Con Coughlin, who's author of "Saddam: King of Terror" and has made a study of him. We'll ask the others' opinions as well, but Con first.
COUGHLIN: Well, Larry, I think the first point I'd make is that Saddam himself has never been in it for the money. He's been in it for the power. But, of course, his immediate circle, particularly his sons, have accumulated twice a lot of money through the oil smuggling operations.
KING: Let me halt you right there. Let me halt you right there, We'll come right back to you, Con.
Let's go back to baghdad where we have us Corporal Edward Chin, United States Marine Corps. He's the Marine who put the United States flag on Saddam's statue yesterday.
Corporal Chin this is Larry King in Los Angeles.
All right. First -- just on a personal note. Are you from Bensonhurst?
CPL. EDWARD CHIN, U.S. MARINE PUT FLAG OVER SADDAM'S STATUTE: Yes, Mr. King.
KING: What street?
CHIN: 85th Street.
KING: I'm 83rd Street! Did you go tot Lafayette High School?
CHIN: I'm surprised I never ran into you thee, Mr. King.
KING: Did you go to Lafayette High School?
CHIN: No, I went to the Bronx..
KING: Did you did you go to Bronx High School of Science? (CROSSTALK)
KING: Oh -- you had to take -- oh, smarty.
KING: OK, what was it like? What prompted you with -- with fellow Bensonhurstites -- 85th Street -- I can't believe it. What prompted you to put the flag on the statue?
CHIN: We -- Mr. King, we were all just helping out the Iraqi people bring down the statue and I happened to be up there rigging up -- bringing it up so that we could bring it down and our CO, he wanted us to put the flag up there and I happened to be in the right place at the right time and I was able to do that.
At the moment when it was happening we didn't think anything signifigant of it. We were just pretty much doing what we were told and now it's been pretty crazy, Mr. King.
KING: What action did you see coming into the city? How were you involved? Tell us what you did.
KING: What action were you involved in...
CHIN: Breaking up...
KING: ....coming into Baghdad? All right. I'm sorry. Are we -- do you hear me, Corporal?
CHIN: I got dead ear.
KING: All right. I'm sorry, Corporal Chin.
Well, anyway, Bensonhurst is a cection of Brooklyn where a lot of famous people came from. And Corporal Chin is suddenly elevated to the top of the list. And if he went to the Bronx High School of Science -- there are a few schools in New York where you had to take a special test. Not many guys from Bensonhurst, trust me, went to the Bronx High School of Science.
All right. Let's go back -- I had to interrupt Con Coughlin on Saddam and his money. Con, I'm sorry. Go ahead.
COUGHLIN: Yes, well what I was basically saying is that Saddam was not in it for the money himself. But the -- his immediate's family has made a lot of money and his half brother, Barzan (ph), who was for many years the -- the Iraqi ambassador to Geneva, is basically the bag man for the regime.
I mean, you have to remember that basically Saddam's regime is like a mafiaosi (ph) and Barzan is the guy that sets up all of the offshore bank accounts and, you know, there are literally billions of dollars stashed away. Now the people who will be most keen to take advantage of this are Saddam's immediate families. I say I don't think Saddam himself is in it for the money. I think Saddam will stay in Iraq.
KING: Sacramento, California, hello.
CALLER: Larry King, I want you to commend you on your choice of suspenders tonight.
KING: They're just black.
CALLER: I know, I know. Just quality, though.
This money that belongs to the Iraqi people -- can they get that back from Saddam? And are we going to get Don and Mike on the Armed Forces Radio over in....
KING: Good question. Nic? -- I'm sorry, Nic -- Christopher, can they get the money some way to send that money back to the people? He probably took it from them.
DICKEY: Well, the United States -- the -- the United States, believe me, is tracking that money almost as much as it's tracking Saddam himself. They've got teams working in Europe and all over the world looking for it, trying to identify the accounts, trying to freeze them and eventually, of course, it's hoped, that most of that money, when it's recovered, can be returned to the Iraqi people.
KING: Detroit, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I want to know what the formation of a new government forming, trying to represent all of the ethnic groups such as Sunni, Shiites, Kurds and Catholics. How will they be able to come together if so far they haven't been able. And also, with all of the looting that's going on, will that not drive a wedge further between the groups because -- one, it might give them kind of an excuse for taking out the revenge on such as Shiites against Sunni.
KING: Let's try Salah on that. Salah, how can -- she presents an interesting dilemma. How can they come together in view of all of the difficulties they've had?
NEGM: Well, I think these groups are -- in taking it as political groups, it's not something embedded in Iraqi's streets, something recent.
For example, the Shiites (UNINTELLEGIBLE) that came to life after the Iranian revolution and that say the involvement of Iran in the war and encouraging Shi'a troops.
The conflict with the Kurds was resolved some time ago with the formation of a kind of federation. The Iraqi peoples being Shi'as, Sunnis Kurds, Arabs they have belonging -- they belong to Iraq and they feel very proud as Iraqis. And I think it's only a time and democracy and freedom which will bring them together in the future. It needs only some kind of tolerance at the beginning and mutual understanding between them with the help of the international community and their Arab -- Arab brothers around them.
KING: Spokane, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Yes. My question is to Christiane Amanpour.
KING: She's not here. So -- let's...
CALLER: Oh, any.
KING: Maybe some one else can handle it.
CALLER: Either one of them.
KING: All right.
CALLER: If the U.S. does not -- if the U.S. does not find chemical weapons or weapons of mass destruction what was the justification for invading another country? And are we going invade other countries based on suspicion alone?
KING: Matt McAllester, what do you think?
MCALLESTER: Well, I think there's concern especially with Donald Rumsfeld's recent comments about Syria slightly bellicose -- certainly more bellicose than they have been in recent months or even years.
I know that people in Iran, my sources there, are getting increasingly anxious. This is a three-week war, it looks like. Maybe another four -- another week to make it four or five. In Iran, they have nuclear facilities, nuclear power facilities. There's no secret about that. And they're very concerned that they'll be next on the list.
KING: Christopher, didn't -- in the last few day, most of the word coming out of Washington wasn't about weapons of mass destruction, but more about liberation?
DICKEY: Well, that is the word coming out of Washington because they're not finding weapons of mass destruction, at least not that we know of, not yet. Also they haven't found any SCUD missiles, as far as we know, even though there have been people searching all over the western desert of Iraq for quite a while.
I think there's a huge credibility gap on this question and there's a risk -- a real risk -- that in the long run nobody is going to believe -- nobody in this part of the world is going to believe that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq now even if they're found. They're just going to think the Americans and the British planted them there. There's that much of of a credibility gap -- credibility chasm, if you will, between Washington and this part of the world.
KING: Palm Beach, Florida, hello.
Why aren't we hearing more about the numbers of Iraqi civilians killed and how long will it be before we know the actual numbers?
KING: Con, do you know?
COUGHLIN: I'm -- I'm afraid I don't know. We're in the hands of the coalition force commander on this one. And clearly there have been quite a few civilian casualties and -- and I think it's -- we should pay tribute to the way the war's been covered. I don't think any of the journalists, either embedded or unilaterals, have thrown any punches when it's come to reporting the tragic civilian casualties of this conflict.
But I think given the speed of the coalition forces' progress through Iraq, it is very difficult to have an accurate figure. But clearly there will be quite a number of civilian casualties in this conflict.
KING: One more quick call for our pannel and then we'll meet the generals and Congressman.
Tarpon Springs, Floria, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Mr. King, how are you?
KING: Hi. Fine.
CALLER: OK. I have two questions, OK?
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Where is Saddam's wife and two daughters? They're the true key of where he is and if he is alive? And why has no one talked to them?
Two is why no reporters, international and the U.S. have been with the troops in the crater where the the bomb that hit Monday...
KING: Yes. What's in the crater, Matt?
MCALLESTER: Well, the -- I think there's very little left in the crater. I think it was hit with the most penetrating bunker busting bombs and when those bombs hit -- and I saw a few cruise missile craters in Baghdad just before I was imprisoned -- there is nothing left. If there was someone there, you would take forensic scientist the likes of which we don't know to trace them.
KING: What about the Christopher Dickey, the wife and children angle? Wife and daughters, too.
DICKEY: There are rumors the wife and daughters, yes, there are rumors they've been taken out of the country. Those are the strongest rumors about Saddam's family. And there's some speculation they've gone to Syria, although I don't think that's founded on any very solid intelligence. But I don't think that the question is right when the assumption is that Saddam where his wife and his kids are, at least his daughters. I think that they're living quite apart from Saddam these days. KING: Thank you all very much, Matt McAllester, Chris Dickey, Salah and Con Coughlin.
When we come back, General Wesley Clark, Congressman Robert Simmons and Brigadier General David Grange. Don't go away.
KING: We will now introduce you to our panel for the remainder of the program.
General Wesley Clark United States army, retired, served as supreme allied commander from July '97 to May 2000, wrote about it in a brilliant book, "Waging Modern War," and is a CNN military analyst.
In Washington as well is Congressman Robert Simmons, Republican of Connecticut, retired U.S. Army colonel with 37 years of service. A veteran of the Vietnam War, worked for the CIA for 10 years as an operations official. Translator, a spy.
And in Oakbrook, Illinois, brigadier General David Grange, United States Army, retired, former commanding general of the 1st Infantry, known as the Big Red One. Former Army Ranger special forces officer, CNN military analyst.
General Clark, is it all over, but the shouting or will there be a lot of shouting?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: There will be a lot of shouting, but I do believe that there's still a little bit of maneuver work. And unfortunately I think we will have some people hurt, Larry because there are enough hard heads out there who either don't get the word or want to start the next phase of this campaign. I think we're still in the early stages of seeing whether the collapse of central authority in Baghdad is really going to cut the rug out from under all of the opposition in various places around or whether those people are simply going to go underground and wait for an opportune moment to strike. We just can't know the answer to that right now.
KING: Before we talk to the other two guests let's make contact with James Bays in Baghdad. He's been in the Palestine Hotel since March the 7. He knows Nic Robertson very well. He there was when Nic was thrown out. He was in the square yesterday when the tanks arrived.
What was that like -- James.
JAMES BAYS, ITN: It was a very, very dramatic moment. I have to say we can't sides in any story, but those real among the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) feeling of relief. Because I think in the back of our mind we feared what might have happened in this hotel. In the back of our mind the possibility that maybe we would have been used as human shields, as hostages, that sort of thing. We had only 24 hours earlier seen the hotel hit by a tank round, and two of our colleagues both television cameramen killed. A moment of relief when the tanks arrived here, because we knew then that there wasn't going to be heavy fighting around the hotel when they arrived.
KING: And what's it like now?
BAYS: Well, things are reasonably calm. A lot calmer than they were. The hours before the tanks arrived it was near anarchy here. Looting going on all across the city. In the last few hours, I've been out and about across the city. In fact, I managed to get across one of the bridges over the river, Tigris, for the first time for days today, a few hours ago. And I managed to get into one of the largest presidential compounds and into the main presidential palace.
For Briton, I described that as about three times the size of Buckingham Palace. A huge building. A U.S. Army Captain took me around that building for two and a half hours. I saw the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) living area of Saddam Hussein. This just one of very many palaces he has, but we saw his strong room, built of bank vaults specifications. We saw his gun room. We saw the master bed rooms. The master bedrooms currently occupied by exhausted U.S. Soldiers. We saw the large swimming pool there.
Now, that building is one of the few here, Larry that was not bombed and my understanding from the army officers who were there is, that that is because they now want to use that particular building as the base for the interim administration here.
KING: That's good stuff. Thank you very much, James Bays in Baghdad.
Let's go to Gary Tuchman, where are you this morning, Gary? It's Friday morning in Baghdad, where are you?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, right now we're at the air base near the Iraqi border, but this morning we went on another mission. This was an airlift mission. While the total number of air missions over Iraq continues -- the percentage of airlift mission increases, because these are the missions that are bringing coalition troops to Iraq, when the war started, obviously, no one was being flown there. Now 65,000 U.S. troops were flown there.
So, this morning you were on the plane on a Marine C-130 with 15 young men and women going to Iraq for the first time. Many of them were flight anxious, but they were also very proud, they told us. We flew an altitude of 250 feet for about one hour over Iraq. The reason they fly so low is to avoid Iraqi radar. The plane banks left and banks right so they can make sure there's no artillery on the ground, because at least four planes have been hit by artillery.
And one thing that was very notable and just unbelievable to see, we were so low to the ground that we actually saw children in the little town that we passed through Al Kut, An Nasiriyah, waving at us as we were overhead and the pilots were waving back. And there are only two reasons for that. They weren't afraid of the airplanes anymore and/or number two, they realize the big C-130 doesn't fire bombs. But no one was running away from the plane, they were waving at us.
KING: Thank you, Gary Tuchman, as ever on the scene.
Congressman Simmons, has this gone the way you expected.
REP. ROBERT SIMMONS (R), CONNECTICUT: Yes, it has, Larry, at least from our perspective. Our soldiers have done a magnificent job of winning the war. And now the challenge, of course is winning the peace. And that is going to be a challenge, not just for our military forces but for our State Department, our diplomatic efforts, our humanitarian relief efforts. And think we're in a critical transition period now where we will have to be moving into that mode.
KING: General Grange, how much of this was inferior opposition?
How much, we never know in sports, was it the better offense or the weaker defense? How do you come down?
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), MILITARY ANALYST: There's no doubt, Larry, that the training and the leader ship and the equipment, the weaponry of the coalition force was so superior. And you know, very well-run plan, but again, I think fighting the Iraqi military, it's a poorly disciplined military, lousy leadership. The equipment's not maintained. So I mean it's the kind of enemy you want to fight if you have to fight someone. So I'm not taking that away from the coalition forces at all, but it is an overmatch in other things besides high technology.
KING: Congressman Simmons, before I get back to General Clark, if Saddam is alive, wouldn't you want to take him prisoner?
SIMMONS: I think we would. And I think that's the general consensus. It's not essential, but I think it's important. I think it is important because it will give that level of security to the Iraqi people that he will not be back. His regime is over. His family is gone and so I think that has to continue to be a priority. Incidentally, a previous caller talked about the recovery of some of his dollars. Over a billion dollars has been identified and frozen and seized. Other dollars are being wrapped up, and those dollars can be applied to funding the new government.
KING: General Clark, what's the difficulty in a -- for want of a better term, a mop-up operation?
CLARK: Well, it's just the uncertainty and unpredictability of what you're going against. It -- it prevents the Americans from using their -- a lot of their technology and their superiority in a preplanned way.
So for example, if you knew for sure you were going against an organized defense, then you'd apply artillery and airpower to it. You'd reduce it before you'd put the soldiers or Marines in there on the ground.
But here the danger is that you're don't know there's a defense. You walk right into the teeth of something and suddenly you're being shot at. RPGs are being fired. It's an ambush, in effect. And you have the additional constraints -- you don't want to hurt civilians and you don't want to do a lot of extra damage to the city. So that's why mopping up operations are difficult.
And of course, the troops are very concerned about this. On the one hand, I'm sure they're elated that the statue is down and symbolizing the fact that they can see the end in sight. But on the other hand nobody wants to go out there and get himself in trouble at this point. They want to be careful. They want to do their jobs. But it's just a very unpredictable, uncertain environment now.
KING: I understand we're going to make a quick touch back with Nic Robertson in Baghdad.
Nic, the question I asked you, which you couldn't hear, was what are you hearing about Saddam Hussein?
ROBERTSON: Very little, Larry. Apart from the fact if he -- if people could -- if the coalition forces could locate him in some way, could prove to the Iraqi people he's been rounded up, that certainly would move the perception along here very quickly and very importantly move the perception along that the Iraqi -- that he is gone for good.
With -- because he hasn't been found; because there is really no hard evidence as to where he's gone and it -- he could have gone to Tikrit, north of Baghdad, which is where his -- where his ancestral home is. We just don't know. But if he could be found quickly, that would be really a huge enabling factor for the coalition forces in convincing the Iraqi people he is gone once and for all. And that is holding them back at this time, Larry.
KING: Thank you, Nic.
Let's take a call for General Clark and Congressman Simmons and Brigadier General Grange and Nic -- Nic Robertson too if he's still with us.
Calton, Georgia, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: My question is this evening, is there -- if there are the tunnels and the rooms, six and seven stories deep under Baghdad, would he not have stored what we're looking for down in those bunkers?
KING: General Grange?
GRANGE: Well, it may be in the bunkers.
You know, I think he moved a lot of the stuff out of -- out of Baghdad. Maybe towards Syria. Maybe up towards Tikrit. There's stuff, I believe, underground, subterrainian caverns that have yet to be searched. But they're experts at deception, denial and disinformation. And so, the stuff could be just about anywhere. But they're really good at hiding it.
KING: Newark, New Jersey, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: We gave the Iraqi ambassador a pretty bloody nose and now that he's out of a job, what do we do with him?
KING: What do you -- the Iraqi ambassador?
I don't know what happened to him, but we go to Rockport, Illinois, hello.
CALLER: Yes. My question is about the civilians, the working civilians that have jobs. How are they getting to their jobs if they indeed work? I really don't know -- they seem to be out in the streets a lot. And also...
KING: Nic Robertson, that's a good question. Is anybody working in Iraq? You know, the guy at the gas station. Does he go to work? We lost Nic.
General Clark, what do you imagine it's like?
CLARK: My guess is most people are staying home because it's dangerous, it's confusing. The government ministry are all closed. There's probably street vendors who are out selling, but if the transportation's been interrupted around Baghdad, people are having trouble getting supplies. They're concerned about their families. I'd stay home.
KING: I guess we straightened out that caller that I didn't quite understand, Congressman Simmons. He was saying what happens to the Iraqi ambassador to the United States, and the Iraqi -- well there is none to the United States -- the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations? Where does he go now? What does he do?
SIMMONS: I think the answer is -- is pretty clear. There are a lot of former members of Congress who have decided to take up residence in Washington, D.C., and I think you'll find there are a lot of -- not a lot, but there are a few former ambassadors who are diplomats who, for some similar reasons, have decided to take up residence somewhere in this country.
There may be some diplomatic issues relative to his status here, but I suppose if I was in his shoes I would converge status and stay in this country.
KING: Good thinking.
General Grange, what's -- what's the endgame? How do they -- if they want to -- who surrenders?
GRANGE: Well, that's a good point.
I mean, you know, right now, I think the senior Iraqi leader identified is the general up in Mosul -- you know, up north, Mosul. And so maybe he's -- he's the one. But if not pick somebody. But someone's got to surrender so we have unconditional surrender for this war.
KING: Yes but, General Clark, how do we know who that is? Does someone come out with a white flag tomorrow? Who do we contact?
CLARK: Well, we're going to accept the surrender of anybody who comes out there, but the real problem is, as Dave said that, I mean, wherever he is, we don't know that he really has command and control of the rest of the forces. So it's not like once he announces that they're going to surrender, that then you can be sure that that's the end of it.
In fact, when he surrenders, the question is going to be, whoever he is -- the question is going to be -- who does he represent? Who does he command and control? He may be surrendering himself and his -- and his aide and his driver for all we know. And that's the danger in this uncertain period, Larry.
KING: Congressman Simmons...
CLARK: It's also tough to get a surrender.
KING: Yes, it sounds that way.
Congressman Simmons, do you expect the after to be worse than the before?
SIMMONS: I don't it to be worse. I expect it to be quite different.
I think the general has described the difficulties of a mopping up operation. But again, I think the great challenge for the United States -- and it's going to be a challenge of diplomacy and a challenge of working with other members of the world community -- is going to be the challenge of providing food and assistance, water, medical supplies, re-establishing some civil order in this country and transitioning into a better form of government and a better life than what they've had in the past. And I think that's going to take years, not weeks.
KING: And General Clark, 30 seconds, any word on the POWs?
CLARK: None that we've heard, but you can be sure of one thing: that we're really working and looking for these people. We take our responsibilities in this regard, very, very seriously. There are special task force, special intelligence collection, people are planning what to do if they get that intelligence, and you would see something very dramatic if we knew where they were. KING: Thank you all very much. We thank all of our guests for being with us tonight. We apologize for the earlier transmission problems. After all, this is a war.
We thank General Wesley Clark and Congressman Robert Simmons Brigadier General David Grange and my man, the corporal from Bensonhurst.
Heidi Collins is next. She'll have the news headlines. Aaron Brown is right around the corner. He's going to host "NEWSNIGHT." And we'll be back tomorrow night right in this spot with another edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Stay tuned for CNN around the clock. It's your best source for news. Heidi Collins now. Good night.
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