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Sporadic Fighting Continues in Baghdad

Aired April 10, 2003 - 00:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN NEWSROOM: Good evening, everyone. I'm Heidi Collins in the CNN Newsroom. Here's what's happening at this hour.
It's been called the fall of Baghdad, and the fall of Saddam Hussein's statue seemed like a perfect symbol of it to jubilant Iraqis who had lived under Hussein's rule for two dozen rules. Iraqis and U.S. Marines brought the statue down together.

But not all Iraqis were celebrating today. There were new civilian casualties, and sporadic fighting does continue.

There was a new kind of freedom, though, for non-Iraqis in Baghdad today. Journalists had free rein for the first time. The Iraqi officials who usually shadow journalists, the so-called minders, didn't show up, nor did the information minister last seen predicting defeat for the U.S.

While U.S. officials continue to caution much work remains, Iraq's ambassador to the U.N. said simply, "The game is over." Mohammed Al-Douri added, quote, "My hope now is peace for everybody, OK." Al-Douri said today he has lost contact with his government in Baghdad.

One of the biggest Iraqi-American communities in the country was watching the news today and making it. After seeing the fall of Hussein's statue on TV, hundreds of Arab-Americans filled the streets of Dearborn, Michigan, to celebrate the toppling, real and symbolic, of Iraq's dictator.

To other news now.

The House and Senate have agreed not to agree on the size of the tax cut President Bush wants. The president asked for $726 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. Republicans in both Houses were unable to agree on how much of that to approve. They're now expected to pass different budgets tomorrow and work it out later.

Those are the headlines at this hour. Now to Aaron Brown and more coverage of the war in Iraq.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Heidi, thank you very much. Appreciate your efforts tonight.

For those of you just joining us -- we know particularly on the West Coast many of you do around this time -- bring you to speed on what has been an extraordinary day for the front pages and the history books. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): In one moment and in one shot, the day's story can be told. The rest is just detail.

It is just detail that Marines at first put an American flag on the statue and then quickly replaced it with the Iraqi flag. Just detail.

It was less than 12 hours earlier that American commanders told CNN it looked as if most of the Iraqi regular army inside Baghdad had simply disappeared.

But the astonishing speed in which the regime fell, in which Marine units moved in from the East seemed to surprise virtually everyone, including the Iraqis ambassador to the United Nations.

MOHAMMED AL-DOURI, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The game is over. I hope that peace will prevail and that the Iraqi people at the end of the day will have a peaceful life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean that the game is over, sir?

AL-DOURI: The war I mean.

BROWN: Some residents swerved over the tank-recovery vehicle in front of the statute. They asked for and received yellow packets of food.

In some parts of the city, there was widespread looting, people carrying everything and anything.

In crowded hospitals, little room for those civilians caught in the crossfire.

And, in Washington, the watch word over and over again from the Bush administration was "caution."

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There's a lot more fighting that's going to be done. There are -- more people are going to be killed. Let there be no doubt. This is not over, despite all the celebrations on the street.

BROWN: There was little doubt about that because only a few miles away from the celebrations at the statue, at the University of Baghdad, Marines were in a ferocious fire fight with a band of Iraqi militia.

They poured fire into two pickup trucks, the kind mounted with machine guns and used by the Fedayeen guerrillas. They also destroyed an anti-aircraft gun and its ammunition, sending cascades of fire into the late afternoon sky.

On the road to Baghdad, elements of the 101st Airborne charged into a set of buildings that had been used as a headquarters of the Fedayeen. They had been taking fire from the building, but, when they got there, everyone had disappeared.

The celebrations were hardly confined to Baghdad. This one is in Kurdish-controlled territory, the City of Erbil in the North, and this one is in Dearborn, Michigan, home to thousands of Iraqi-Americans.

Those are the details. But, again, one picture and one short piece of sound tell the real story of the day. The picture will take a place in history, as now will the regime of Saddam Hussein.

RUMSFELD: Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed brutal dictators, and the Iraqi people are well on their way to freedom.


BROWN: The big picture. The day's pictures from Baghdad make the point pretty dramatically. Freedom does come in many forms, not all of them inspiring to look at.

Here is a report from ITN's Ian Glover-James.


IAN GLOVER-JAMES, ITN FOREIGN EDITOR (voice-over): As American tanks rolled unopposed into Central Baghdad, Iraqi people rolled out to meet them, greeting them as liberators.

For years, Saddam's image had looked down on these people like big brother. Now it was time for them to take their revenge.

Across the capital today, there have been scenes of celebration of the fall of the regime. Washington and London may be expressing caution about the fact that it's not all over, but these people were in no doubt. For them, Saddam's era is over.

Across Baghdad, the looting has continued since word swept across communities that Saddam Hussein's henchmen had pulled out. It may be anarchy, it may be lawlessness, but it's also the first real freedom these people have tasted in decades.

This is the predominantly Shiite Muslim area of Baghdad, named Saddam City. It won't be called that for much longer.

And, if anyone had any lingering doubts about whether these people supported the military intervention, many -- in halting English -- made their views clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good no Saddam! No Saddam! No Saddam.

GLOVER-JAMES: For some, it's still perhaps a sight hard to get used to, U.S. troops on patrol in the capital. There had been concern about whether it would be safe for them to leave their armored vehicles, and, indeed, they are exercising extreme caution.

This man vented his frustration and fury by striking Saddam's image with his shoe, a traditional insult. Another man expressed his views more graphically. Slapping Saddam with a shoe was a popular activity today.

Across Baghdad, the looters are reported to have plundered major sites, including the U.N. headquarters and the bombed Olympic Committee building, once run by Saddam's elder son, Uday.

People are seizing whatever they can from food stamps to mattresses, anything of value. Many of the more frenzied scenes were said to be in Saddam City, impoverished, rundown, deliberately kept under the thumb of the Iraqi regime. Not anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you! Thank you, Mr. Bush! We very like Mr. Bush. Mr. Bush OK.

GLOVER-JAMES: The Americans will have to restore order and soon. But, for the time, Baghdad belongs to the people, no longer Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party dictatorship.

Ian Glover-James, ITV News, Baghdad.


BROWN: We have Michael Gordon on the line. Mike's the chief military affairs writer for "The New York Times," and he joins us from Camp Doha in Kuwait.

Michael, you write in the paper that will land on people's doors on Thursday that flexibility was the key. What do you mean?

MICHAEL GORDON, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think that the American military did an excellent job of adapting to a whole variety of unforeseen circumstances. Some were on the battlefield, and some were within their own government.

You know, from the very beginning, they had to basically deal with a bunch of changed circumstances. I remember being here. This is a land war command, and they had a pretty good plan all set up and ready to go, and, out of the blue, there was a cruise-missile attack that was ordered by Washington to try to kill Saddam Hussein. That particular attack didn't work. The most recent one may have.

And this forced a whole bunch of changes in the military plan. They ended up speeding up the land attack by a day.

There are a whole variety of other things they had to adapt to.

I can recall that maybe -- the plan was intended to have a substantial northern front with a whole Army division attacking from north. Well, the Bush administration never succeeded in persuading Turkey to go along with that. Well, the military attacked without that. That was another case in which they adapted.

And then also the Iraqis did things that the military didn't anticipate and that the American intelligence community didn't anticipate, when they launched a whole variety of attacks in the rear using these paramilitaries.

That was really unforeseen. Well, that changed a huge -- that caused a huge change in the plan where the military decided they had to go to fight in the southern cities, instead of bypassing.

So the basic point is I saw yesterday in Washington that Vice President Dick Cheney came out and said, well, this success in Baghdad shows that the Bush administration had a great plan, and the critics are wrong.

I see this slightly differently. I think that the success in Baghdad shows that the military did a very good job of adapting to a whole bunch of unforeseen things with a plan that really changed from the very moment it was put into effect.

BROWN: Michael, a couple of quick things. First, Baghdad itself. We've talked about it as if it is a totally liberated city in some respects, but it is -- it's not quite that simple, is it?

GORDON: No. I mean the way -- the way I look at it and the way I think the U.S. military looks at it is that a mortal blow has been delivered to the Saddam Hussein regime, and everything that's going on in Baghdad now -- the looting, too -- confirms this. Everybody recognizes that that regime is history.

But there's an immense amount of things you have to do. For example, the vast number of districts within Baghdad have not been cleared by the American military. They don't know quite who's in there. They haven't been there yet there. There are certain parts of the city that are known to be kind of favored areas of the regime where American forces are just going to venture into for the first time.

And then there's whole other areas of the country, you know, that still have to be taken control of. For example, Tikrit, the ancestral home of Saddam Hussein. Or Kirkuk, you know, the northern city where the oil is located in the North. And the U.S. has gained control of the oil in the South but not in the North.

Well, you know, these tasks will all be accomplished, and now that the military has gotten this far and that the regime is clearly not in control of the country -- in fact, it clearly has fallen into American control -- these things will fall into place. But they haven't fallen into place just yet.

And I think the -- the generals here recognize that. They say everything's going their way regaining control of the capital and also regaining responsibility, I would add, for the entire country, no small thing. There's still a lot left to do.

BROWN: Mike, what was it like there? I assume the televisions were on. They saw the statue fall. What was it like?

GORDON: Well, I think there's a sense of vindication on the part of the kind of high command. I think they see that, you know, their efforts -- I mean -- are bearing fruit. I think they feel that, you know, this thing, when it happened in the end, happened very quickly.

I'd have to say it happened more quickly than everyone anticipated, including the people who are in charge of it. It reminds of me of -- you know, sometimes you're -- you have a drill and you're drilling into a piece of wood or metal, and you're drilling, drilling, drilling, and then, all of a sudden, you punch through. That was a little bit of the experience here.

So I think they feel that -- but, you know, basically, what they do is -- again, going back to my theme, is they adapt to changed circumstances. So, when it got harder, they adapted to that, and, when it went faster than anybody thought, they adapted to that, too, and that means they're -- they are moving more quickly than they thought into what's called phase four of the plan.

Phase three was high combat -- intensity combat operation. Phase four is the so-called stabilization piece, and that means taking responsibility for Baghdad, for -- it's not merely a matter of beating a regime.

They have to now be sure that basic services are provided. They have to maintain public order. Clearly, you can't have people looting endlessly in the cities.

All that is now a responsibility of the United States. It's sort of a case of be careful what you ask for, you may get it. Well, now we have Baghdad.

BROWN: Michael, good to talk to you again. Michael Gordon, the chief military affairs writer for "The New York Times." He's got a piece in the "Times." If you get it, take a look at it.

Just on the subject of flexibility and adaptability, before we go to General Clark, in "The Washington Post," the -- tomorrow's "Post," Peter Baker, writing from Marine combat headquarters, says the plan yesterday was actually for the Marines just to kind of make a small probe into the City of Baghdad, seize a paramilitary base, the secret police headquarters, and a presidential palaces.

And then the commander was watching CNN, and -- quoting now from the article -- watching CNN. As he studied television in his trailer here east of Baghdad, Lieutenant General James T. Conway saw dramatic pictures of Iraq, Shiites in the streets of Saddam City, celebrating Hussein's impending fall. Time to send in the tanks, the general said.

General Clark, there's been a lot of talk about the plan. Vice President Cheney took a little swipe at what he called -- I guess he called armchair generals today. You're one of those.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: Well, there's a little showbiz in that, Aaron. But the honest truth, as Michael Gordon, I think, very aptly pointed out, is plans don't win wars.

There's only two kinds of plans, plans that might work, plans that don't work. You take a plan that might work, and, with great people at the bottom, you adapt it so you can bring those forces to bear, and that's what was done here.

I think the American people understand, though, that all these armchair generals, all of us who've been there, have been there. We paid our dues. We put our time in the trenches, guys like Barry McCaffrey, multiple Purple Hearts, two Distinguished Service Crosses.

And the comments they make are made in the highest traditions of trying to help our country and help the men and women in uniform, and they're made in the most constructive way possible. And in -- I'll tell you, in Barry's case, he got several calls from inside the Pentagon saying thanks.

So I think people understand that, in a democracy, it's not only a right, but it's a duty to speak out and try to help this country. There is probably not a general retired who wouldn't rather be in uniform over there helping, but here we are doing what we can.

BROWN: Well, just one other point on this, and you don't need -- certainly don't need my help in this matter or probably any other, for that matter, but the most -- the sharpest criticism that I've heard -- obviously, I didn't hear all the -- everything else that was on television.

The sharpest criticism I heard actually came from the field. The most important criticism certainly came from General Wallace. We didn't war game this, was his concern, we don't have enough troops for this was his concern at the time.

And so an awful lot of fuss has been made about what was said on TV and what was not said on TV, but the fact is that these criticisms were coming from people who were having to implement the plan.

CLARK: Well, that's exactly right. But they weren't criticisms in the sense of criticisms. They were just expla -- they were just revelations. Wars never work out exactly how you anticipate that they will, and it is about adaptation and flexibility. And Scott Wallace, in that case, was talking to a subordinate command when somebody overheard him.

But, you know, I think all of us looked at this, and we wanted it to succeed, we wanted to succeed with the minimum risk and as rapidly as possible, and, as far as -- you know, for myself, I feel pretty good about it.

I said I supported the plan but wanted another division there, and you know, Aaron, before this is all over, we're going to be real anxious for that 4th Infantry Division to get up there and do what it has to do.

BROWN: I'm not going to let you take a phone call yet. I've got a couple of other things to go.

The greatest risks in the days ahead, as you see it. CLARK: Well, we're not going to let down our guard, but there is a possibility of some fighting up there, and we've got to be prepared for some surprises still. I mean, there are what-ifs, and military planners are paid to work the what-ifs.

What if all those government ministers didn't come to work because they knew something and they've hunkered down at a place in Baghdad? What if Tikrit is really the red line at which chemical weapons will be used?

We don't know for certain.

BROWN: How do you keep soldiers who -- and Marines who not only -- I mean a few participated in the day and the statue moment, but, clearly, by now, everybody knows about it and has a feel for it. How do you keep them on their guard?

CLARK: Well, it's leadership, but it's something even more fundamental, Aaron. Nobody wants to be the last guy hurt in this operation, and they're all going to be very, very ready. They all want to go home safe and sound.

BROWN: General, thank you. It's always good to talk to you. Have a good rest of the night.

CLARK: Thank you.

BROWN: General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme commander.

Just to reinforce the point that there are dangers out there and keeping soldiers on their guard and the need for leadership, there was a stunning contrast in the streets in Baghdad today. The U.S. troops could be seen accepting soldiers accepting flowers one minute and accepting enemy fire the next.

The truth is no one should be surprised there is resistance, but the contrast was what was remarkable, and the fight itself, as all fire fights are, remarkably scary.

Martin Savidge and photographer Scott McQuinney (ph) were there with the 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, the road into Baghdad was paved with cheers, waves, and smiles. For the young Marines who battled for three weeks to reach the capital, it was a moment to savor.

But not everyone in the city apparently welcomed their presence. Photographer Scott McQuinney (ph) was riding with a lead assault team crossing over the Tigris River when an Iraqi gunboat down below suddenly opened fire. The Marines immediately returned fire, pointing their machine guns into the water below, silencing the attack.

Moments later, the trailing convoy began taking fire from the campus of Baghdad University. Machine-gun rounds and rocket-propelled grenades were striking at the armored column. Infantry scattered to take cover and begin organizing a counterattack supported by armored personal carriers and tanks.

At one point, an APC acted as a battering ram, punching through an outer wall, allowing the Marines to move in. From the tall grass surrounding the campus, they organized firing teams of machine guns. The Iraqi opposition hitting them from several different buildings.

The disciplined burst of fire teams took on their targets. High on their lists, pickup trucks armed with machine guns. One after another, they were destroyed. In the words of commanders, this was a full-on fight. But, as big as it looked, the engagement was limited only to the campus. While Iraqis celebrated only blocks away, these young Marines were involved in the fight of their lives.

The battle reached its peak when the fighting ignited a huge storage of anti-aircraft ammunition, touching off a deadline fire storm, eventually all of its stock, and the Marines moved in to check their kills, some clearly wondering if they might have just taken part in the last battle for Baghdad.

Martin Savidge, CNN, with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Baghdad.


BROWN: Well, we can hope that it's the last battle in Baghdad. We'll check in with the Pentagon to see what the generals are thinking. There's the City of Baghdad. Clouds or haze or smoke and just a whiff of freedom, too, hanging over the city.

We will be right back.


BROWN: The White House, the Pentagon, everywhere in Washington was saying not quote so fast. This isn't over yet.

So we'll begin here at the Pentagon, CNN's Chris Plante.

Chris, what is their concern tonight?

CHRIS PLANTE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY PRODUCER: Well, Aaron, the concern is that there is still sporadic fighting throughout the country, including in and around Baghdad, that there are members of the Fedayeen Saddam, the paramilitary outfit, the Special Republican Guard, and even some Republican Guard soldiers still in uniform, still willing to fight, and, as long as there is a single man with a rifle, the U.S. military has to be on guard for whatever might happen.

There's also a danger, of course, of suicide bombers, which have been threatened throughout the course of this, and a rallying cry that came from the regime there for Saddam Hussein for Islams -- Muslims, rather, from throughout the region to come in and fight the coalition. So there's still a good deal of concern about force protection, about having to clean up certain areas of the country where significant combat is still taking place, particularly in the North, north of Baghdad, where there is no significant large-scale military presence, and Donald Rumsfeld has outlined a series of steps, a series of objectives that he feels still need to be achieved before victory can be declared.

That includes a whole range of issues from accounting for the senior leadership, Saddam, his sons, and other senior leaders, finding weapons of mass destruction and the people in charge of those programs, the safe return of prisoners of war, and a whole range of other issues.

Also, one of the major issues is maintaining stability in the region. The police forces throughout much of Iraq have -- pardon me -- have disappeared more or less into the woodwork. The military is no longer in control. The regime has lost its grip. So just keeping law and order and preventing significant levels of violence is a majority priority, too -- Aaron.

BROWN: Chris, thank you. Christ Plante has duty at the Pentagon tonight. He'll keep us posted if anything breaks there.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld at the Pentagon today made a good case that Saddam Hussein is now irrelevant. That much he could say with some degree of certainty given the pictures. What he couldn't say is what's become of the former Iraqi president or the Iraqi president, depending on your view of things.

Today, an American team went to the site of the bombing that was aimed at Saddam and his sons, and, so far, no indication of what they might have found.

Our national security correspondent now, CNN's David Ensor.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the regime appeared to go up in smoke, U.S. officials said its control in Baghdad has disintegrated. As for Saddam Hussein, officials still don't know his fate.

RUMSFELD: He's either dead, or he's incapacitated, or he's healthy and cowering in some tunnel someplace trying to avoid being caught.

KENNETH POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: He is still important because there are people who will continue to fight as long as he is alive.

ENSOR: Rumors flew that Saddam might be in the Russian embassy in Baghdad. False, said that Russians and U.S. officials, too.

It seemed clear after meetings at the White House that senior intelligence officials were pleased with the way things are going. But urgent tasks remain, including finding weapons of mass destruction, keeping any of them from moving out of the country.

The U.S. is offering rewards and amnesty for help. U.S. intelligence must also account for all the members of the regime -- the intelligence, the police, the Fedayeen Saddam that may still be alive -- and figure out who in Iraq can be trusted. It is a mammoth task.

POLLACK: Vet Iraqi personnel, vet Iraqi bureaucrats, determine those who really do have enough blood on their hands that they probably should be excluded from a post-war administration and those who can be brought back in and help to set up a new transitional authority to help to administer the country.

ENSOR: Then, there are the neighbors to worry about. Secretary Rumsfeld complained about the role of Syria.

RUMSFELD: Senior regime people are moving out of Iraq into Syria, and Syria is continuing to send things into Iraq. We find it notably unhelpful.

ENSOR (on camera): U.S. officials say, despite a lot of rumors, they have no solid information that any senior Iraqi official has crossed the border into Syria, though some of their families have. That border is being watched closely by the U.S.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


BROWN: We'll take a break, update today's headlines -- and there are headlines today. When we come back, how all this is being seen in the Arab world. The break is now.


BROWN: A different city of Baghdad this morning. Simon Robinson of "Time" magazine is in the city. And Simon joins us on the phone.

When last we talked, it was very quiet. Quiet still?

SIMON ROBINSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: There are rumbles coming -- explosions coming from the northeast of the city I can hear. There are a few people around the area where the celebrations were yesterday afternoon. People just starting to come out onto the streets. Some cars are being turned away by Marines from the secure area in the Eastern side of Baghdad.

But I do, from my hotel room, which is fairly high up, I could see that there were cars moving through various parts of the capitol. Difficult to see west Baghdad of what was happening, but I did hear just now that one of the bridges, the bridge -- the first bridge north of the area that was secured yesterday has been taken by the army from the west.

So that is quite important, because it is the first time that the American forces from the west and from the east have linked up. Actually, haven't come together yet, but they do have that access road open.

BROWN: Is there -- is the looting and the disorder still going on, as far as you know?

ROBINSON: In the area that I'm in, I don't see any looting. I do see Iraqis out on the street, just walking around, but no looting.

I have heard that -- reports from other parts of the city where there is looting, but at least not in the immediate -- in the central eastern part of Baghdad.

BROWN: You think people are somewhat dazed by the events of the -- that aren't -- there are about 18 hours old now?

ROBINSON: People -- I guess it's quite early here still. It's just past 7:00. So people are waking up. And they're coming out. The Marines -- I've been speaking to some of the Marines who came into that area yesterday, where we saw those incredible pictures from. And they were telling me that from days -- they were happy. And one told me that he hadn't felt that the war was justified until yesterday, but when he saw what happened, he realized why he had come to Iraq in force.

BROWN: That's -- this was from a Marine?

ROBINSON: This was from a Marine, a tanker. The Iraqi citizens -- just going about their normal business, at least in the immediate area. No shops open yet. So -- but they're coming out of their houses and walking around. And a few tried to pass through the area where the pictures come from yesterday. And they've been turned back the Marines. I guess they want to secure each area, and then they want to try and -- the traffic until larger areas are secure.

BROWN: Simon, thanks. It'll be interesting to see, I think for the entire world, what this day brings, the day after, as this sort of reality sets in. It's not a totally liberated city, as Simon indicated, but it's a very different city than it was 24 hours ago.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was quick to warn today that the danger in Iraq is far from over, but then he couldn't resist throwing in the mention of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the iron curtain, and a favorite quote on liberation from George Washington. It was quite a day, to say the least for the Pentagon briefing. And for those of you who missed it, here's a look at part of it.


DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: There are -- is no question but that there are difficult and very dangerous days ahead, and that the fighting will continue for some period. But certainly anyone seeing the faces of the liberated Iraqis, the free Iraqis, has to say that this is a very good day.

Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceaucesceu in the pantheon of failed, brutal dictators. And the Iraqi people are well on their way to freedom. There are a number of cities that are still hotly contested, and will be for some time. There are some cities that are now under coalition control. There are also some that are partly under coalition control. So there's a lot of work left to do. And the -- I do believe that we're seeing, in the case of Baghdad, it is tipping. I mean, I think that that's a fair comment. It doesn't mean that it's over. And it most assuredly is not over, which is why I tried to properly balance my comment the way I did, saying that there's going to be some very tough days ahead.

We need people to come forward, who know where we can find the people who have information on these records, so that the Baath Party membership names can be known, so that the Iraqi intelligence service people name can be known, and so that the names and faces of the Fedayeen Saddam can be known, and so we can find documentation that they've been spreading around the countryside on their weapons of mass destruction program.

We need help. We need people to come forward and volunteer that information. And the United States is not going to stay in that country and occupy it. We have plenty of other things that our people like to do with their lives. And we don't make it a practice of going out and seeking someone else's wealth or real estate.

So we'll do our job, we'll do it well. And we'll leave. As that country is set on a path to guide its own future, we'll try to be helpful from a humanitarian standpoint, which we're already doing. And you know, in the last -- it -- truth ultimately finds its way to peoples ears and eyes and hearts. And I don't worry about that over the long term.

It's -- does it make me sad to see television saying things that are flat not true and people printing things in that part of the world that's flat not true? Children being taught things that are flat not true? Yes, it bothers me. But what can one do except to tell the truth, behave in a way that's consistent with our values. And this country and the coalition has done that in this case.


BROWN: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the briefing today. Pretty expansive for the Secretary. We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll show you how the world has reported this extraordinary day. We'll be back in a moment.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) ...that wrong picture to the Iraqis, to the Arabs watching now, this statue changed into an American statue in the symbolic way. And that dictatorship and power becomes American instead of Iraqi.

BURKHART: And on another network, al-Jazeera... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) This is the -- the symbolism of what's going on in Iraq. Everything will become with an American face.

BURKHART: Almost as quickly as that symbolism was noted, another symbolic act, the U.S. flag coming down and instead, the Iraqi flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) Well, finally, we see an Iraqi flag that might -- maybe this -- it's understood between Iraqis, there's no way that the U.S. flag should be raised.

Now the -- even they say your soldier has -- carrying the Iraq flag that's some sort of -- correcting the mistake that he has been -- he has done.

BURKHART: And when the statue was finally toppled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) That falls down. The people here are expressing their relief, their feelings of joy, as we can see.

BURKHART: What about that joy that we saw today? How did Arab broadcasters react to that? In this exchange, an anchor asked a reporter in Baghdad if the jubilation is genuine. The reporter's answer, yes, it is real, but we don't know if that joy is just for Saddam leaving and not for the Americans.

One recurring theme raised in the Arab coverage, surprise over so little resistance to the Americans. What happened to the Iraqi army, they wanted to know? Finally, this telling moment. An al-Jazeera reporter interviewing a Marine. According to our translators, who've been closely watching the Arab networks, this reporter's demeanor was clearly different today, happier, relieved. So much so, he felt it necessary to point out that he was not with the Marines, but a neutral observer. And then this lighter moment when the Marine tells him he's from North Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am from North Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't look like one of the white or red neck.

BURKHART: Some weird moments out of the so-called fog of war.

Bruce Burkhart, CNN.


BROWN: This much is certain. People everywhere will long remember the events of this day in Iraq. It's also certain that they will remember those events somewhat differently, depending on where they are watching from.

For the view from his vantage point, we turn again, as we did last night, to Nart Bouran of Abu Dhabi Television. I want to quickly touch on one thing. And if we can do it quickly, that'll help. Are your guys, 26 or 27 of them, still trapped in the city?

NART BOURAN, CHIEF NEWS EDITOR, ABU DHABI TV: Well, they're trapped in one part of the city where the events of yesterday, that you've seen. But the situation's changed a lot, really. After the attack, now the -- we are under the protection of the U.S. Army, which is in that area. And we've been assured that everything's safe, and that we should stay put. And the safest place for us at the moment is in their protection.

BROWN: Okay. Let's move on to the events of today. Will your viewers see today as a liberation or an invasion?

BOURAN: Well, I don't know about our viewers, but I can only say what we're -- what we are telling our viewers, and what we've been saying all along.

You know, Aaron, I'm just -- with the events that have happened, very dramatic events yesterday, I can only talk about Abu Dhabi TV to a certain extent, but you know, we don't want to get caught in the wave of generalization of what the Arab media did.

We were very careful right from the beginning. That's why we never used the word "invasion." We never used the word "occupation." We used the word "Iraqi government" instead of just "Iraq." We've handled the POW situation differently. We blurred the faces. We were very careful.

We are -- we were aware that this moment might come, and that we have to be very careful. We're in for the long run. This is a reputable journalistic effort. And we have to be very very careful.

BROWN: And it has been that?

BOURAN: So that I can only really talk about us, that...

BROWN: I'm sorry, I...


BROWN: ...agree. I mean, I think you have been extremely reputable in all of this. Do you see this as a defining moment for networks like yours?

BOURAN: Absolutely. I think it's, in terms of the media coverage, I think it's been a great experience for Arab TVs. It's a lesson as well how to cover such wars, and how we should be very, very careful of how we approach it.

But you know, you get different media outlets in the Arab world with different point of views and with different approaches. What you see on our TV is completely different from what you see on the other ones, especially for example Al Manar, the Hezbollah TV out of Lebanon. The different political point of views that each station has, has the, you know, portrays it in a certain way. And I think that's why if we want to go back to proper journalistic values, there's going to be a lot of soul searching by some people to go back and go back to the textbooks.

BROWN: Got a minute left. Just personally, you've been in the news business for a while. Were you surprised at how the events played out today, how quickly, how people reacted to them, all of it?

BOURAN: Not particularly, not personally. I had a feeling that we were going to get to this point, but it was just only a matter of time. Maybe the surprise was the speed of it. Maybe it was expected to take longer. At some points, we thought it might even take a shorter time, but I was in Iraq in '91 after the rebellion in '91. And to be perfectly honest, personally, I'm not surprised that people are happy.

BROWN: Do you think that -- I know you only want to speak for yourself. You must have some feel for your audience. Will they ultimately come to accept the notion that the American government wants them to accept, which is that this is not a long term occupation of an Arab country?

BOURAN: Well, I think the viewers will keep on watching.


BOURAN: And see what happens. I don't think they're going to jump to any conclusion at the moment. We'll wait and see. And so will they. I think there's a -- Iraq is a big country. It's a powerful country in the eye of the many Arab viewers. And this has come as a surprise to a lot of them. And they're not going to jump to any more conclusions. They'll wait and see. They want to see the facts and what happens on the ground.

BROWN: Nart, thank you. Good to talk to you again. Thank you very much. Nart Bouran of Abu Dhabi TV, the chief news editor there.

Jason Bellini is embedded with the Marines. We have Jason on the phone.

Jason, what can you report?

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, we've just crossed the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) allowed across, although a large number of civilians are making the passage back into the city, an enormous line of people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is allowing small groups (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

BROWN: Let's see if it comes back.

BELLINI: ...towards Baghdad. Can you hear me, Aaron?

BROWN: Jason, we're having some trouble hearing you here. Why don't you give it one more try? Okay. David, should we go to break, try and fix -- all right, we'll go to take a break, try and see if we can re-establish with Jason. Our coverage continues in just a minute.


BROWN: Soldiers carry around a lot of gear they absolutely need and often small things they don't so much need as one, a lucky token, a keepsake from back home, something that means more than anyone else could ever know. This portable charm doesn't have to be shiny to be valuable. It could be a letter or it could be a lot of them.

The story from CNN's Daryn Kagan.


KAGAN (voice-over): It started as a story on port security, how U.S. Navy and Coast Guard Reserves are keeping ships safe from attack in Kuwait and Iraq.

(on camera): The mission of these units to protect these ports and...

(voice-over): But among the boats, guns, radar, sonar and communications, we found a secret weapon posted on the side of the tent that serves as the command center, letters from second graders. Each one starts the same way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dear brave friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dear brave friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dear brave friend, hello, my name is Ryan. I am in second grade. You are keeping United States of America safe. You are...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are my best friend. You can keep this in your bag. Sincerely, Ryan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the big brother and...

KAGAN: It turns out this is actually a story about a brother, Lieutenant Commander Mike Roberts and a supportive sister, Christine Cupolo.

CHRISTINE CUPOLO, TEACHER: Yes, I do. My brother's in Kuwait.

MIKE ROBERTS, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER: my sister is a grammar school teacher in Clayton, North Carolina.

CUPOLO: He sent over right next to the Persian Gulf now since New Year's Eve. And this is one of many deployments he's been on, but this one is probably the most crucial. So...

ROBERTS: Her second graders were very interested in sending some letters out to the troops. CUPOLO: So I knew that at one point or another, my children needed to write. I thought that would be a real uplifting experience for the troops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says "Dear brave friend, hello, my name is Amanda.

AMANDA: You have to say that you are very, very person -- when the war starts your heart will be in ours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For these kids to take the time to read letters, you know, stuff like that in their class, it's -- what more can you ask to keep us going?

KAGAN: There will be more letters on the way. Back in North Carolina, the Riverwood Elementary second graders are working on the next batch.

CUPOLO: Absolutely. You might want to mention that in your letter as well.

KAGAN: This time, I hope the sailors will write back with answers to their questions.

CUPOLO: Do you want to know how fast the dolphins there are swimming? Okay, I would write that down. I would said, "dear friend, I have some questions for you. I want to know about the dolphins that are you helping you out over there." Can you do that? Do you think you could ask them a question? Sure. They'll be happy to answer...

We started working on our letters the last week of February, and worked on them the first week of March, and sent them out a few weeks ago. And they got the letters pretty quickly over there, but I think this helps me stay closer to my brother. So...

KAGAN: Any message to your sister?

ROBERTS: Yes, I'd just like to tell her, thank you very much, Christine. I hope you're doing well in North Carolina. And thank you very much to your students for all the support and the letters that they sent out to us.

KAGAN: Their second grade work, keeping watch over those who keep watch in the Persian Gulf.

Daryn Kagan, CNN, Kuwait.


BROWN: We'll take a break, update the day's headlines. Our coverage continues in a moment.


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