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CNN Continued Coverage of War

Aired April 12, 2003 - 00:01   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And it's now just a minute past midnight here in the East, 9:00 out West.
If you're just joining us -- we know many of you do out West about this time -- we'll start by bringing you up to date on the major pieces in -- let's do that again. We'll bring you up to date on the major pieces in play tonight.


BROWN (voice-over): Friday prayers in Baghdad, the first under American control of the city. Peaceful enough inside, but, on the streets of the city, it was day two of getting away with whatever you could.

A piano on the street outside the Al Rashid Hotel, formerly under control of the ministry of information. Furniture was popular. And so was anything that even remotely smacked of privilege and control.

Unless there was an American presence outside, hospitals were particular targets. The Red Cross reeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still do have equipment in our warehouses. It is physically impossible to move about from one warehouse to a hospital with a truckload of equipment without being attacked and looted.

BROWN: But, in Washington, the secretary of defense said it was all more or less understandable.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And while no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime.

BROWN: The president made his first public comments since the day the statue fell.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think I'll ever forget, I'm sure lot of other people will never forget the statue of Saddam Hussein falling in Baghdad, and then seeing the jubilation on the faces of ordinary Iraqis as they realized that the grip of fear that had them by the throat had been released.

BROWN: As for combat itself, inside Baghdad, there was very little. Marines manning checkpoints seemed a bit skittish.

In the suburbs, the Army forced these men to lie on the ground on suspicion of looting. They were later released.

Outside of Baghdad, American troops consolidated their hold on both Mosul and Kirkuk. A great deal of looting in both places.

In Mosul, gunfire outside the bank there. Men with bundles of bank notes outside the building.

But, in the oil fields, only a single fire among the hundreds of wells in the region. And you could see American soldiers beginning to set up what the Pentagon says will be a ring of protection around the wells.

The only major Iraqi city not under coalition control is Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's ancestral home. You could clearly see the effects of the American bombing. But, on the roads into the city, there was plenty of danger.

CNN's Kevin Sites and his crew were held for several hours by the Iraqi Fedayeen.

KEVIN SITES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And they tied me up. They tied my hands behind my back, and they threw us in a truck and said that they were going to take us to Tikrit to the intelligence headquarters.

BROWN: Some fierce fighting was all said to have taken place in a small outpost called Qaim near the Syrian border. No pictures, but the town has been mentioned as the possible site of an Iraqi nuclear weapons facility.

Some Iraqi towns got their first look at coalition soldiers today. But these troops were not with the regular Army or the Marines. They were part of the so-called FIF, Free Iraqi Forces, made up mostly of Iraqis who fled to the United States years ago to escape the regime. Now they operate under the umbrella of the coalition.

GEN. JAY GARNER (RET.), U.S. IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION ADMINISTRATION: This country has great vibrancy to it, and it has an educated population. It was the jewel of the Middle East at one time. It can be the jewel of the Middle East again.

BROWN: A foothold finally in the southern port city of Umm Qasr for post-war Iraq. The man named to lead the recovery effort, retired General Jay Garner, getting his first look at the problems ahead.

It was in the capital city itself that life seemed most uneasy. Fires continued to smolder during the day and, just after nightfall, a huge fire at an Iraqi government ministry, not caused by combat, say the Americans, but by the looters who continue to roam unabated.


BROWN: The big picture today. We'll start putting the small pieces in place now. Starting in Baghdad.

We find CNN's Nic Robertson, who was expelled from Baghdad when Saddam Hussein was in power, back in Baghdad now, which, more or less, gives you the story of the last week or so.

Good morning, Nic.


And the situation this morning -- the sun is up. I see Marines out patrolling on the streets. So far this morning, only a couple of exchanges or at least rounds of gunfire to be heard. And perhaps a little too soon to get an area in this neighborhood, if there's to be any looting.

Certainly, yesterday, the looting almost rampant late in the day. One of the only areas I could find where there was any peace and quiet was to take a walk through one of president Saddam Hussein's former palaces.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Walking through Saddam Hussein's largest Baghdad palace complex, it's clear who's in control, the U.S. 3rd Infantry, seemingly unfazed under the unseeing gaze of the palace's former owner.

Inside side this, the vast Republican palace, U.S. soldiers now show off it charms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may or may not have noticed all the floors in here are made of marble. It's extraordinary.

ROBERTSON: And, occasionally, sleeping soldiers catching rest in who knows who's former room.

Mostly, though, the floors here are empty, like the rooms, covered in dust and devoid of any furniture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the whole place is opulent. I'm guessing all of his palaces are just like this. But, as I said, there really wasn't much to find here.

ROBERTSON: Perhaps the only real hint of any recent presidential habitation, the rotting food in the kitchen and the discarded plastic hygiene glove.

(on camera): The clear-out here has been so detailed and so thorough, even down to this -- look -- the hinges with the doors taken away. It really begs the question was Saddam Hussein expecting to come back, ever planning to come back. Did he think he was going to lose? Is he planning to set up home somewhere else?

(voice-over): Whatever Hussein's plan for his palace, it seems the coalition also had theirs. Spared from the attack, it is now an operations base for the infantry.

Nearby, in the sprawling city center palace complex, other regime institutions fared less favorably. Above the door of the ministerial meeting chambers, an ornate lamp dangles dangerously in the breeze.

Inside, U.S. troops pick their way through the debris.

(on camera): If ever the people of Iraq needed a more poignant symbol that the old leadership is gone, it can be found here in the rubble of these rooms. Pieces of chandelier scattered on the floor. The rooms that once held meetings with President Saddam Hussein, Tariq Aziz, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan all now gone.

(voice-over): For now, though, it seems the only interest many Iraqis would have in these buildings would be to loot them, and perhaps in that Saddam Hussein knew his people best, clearing his house before they could.


ROBERTSON: Taking a look around that presidential palace was somewhat of a surreal experience, given the fact that, for so many years in Baghdad, we've been -- we, the journalists, have been excluded from it. The Iraqi people have been excluded from it.

And that particular area, that particular main thoroughfare, about 20 or so years ago, before President Saddam Hussein really cemented his power on the country, was actually open to the public of Iraq. It was a normal thoroughfare in Baghdad. People told me that buses used to be able to run down there, Aaron.

BROWN: How big an area are we talking about? Are we talking about many buildings? Dozens of buildings?

ROBERTSON: Huge. Huge. It would take at least two days, three days maybe for us to go around all of the buildings thoroughly. There are perhaps -- I would say we counted upwards of a score -- upwards 20 or so large buildings, not to mention the smaller support builds. They say there was a building there just for the Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. Mammoth building. Bigger than ministries in many countries, Aaron.

BROWN: Nic, thank you.

Nic Robertson back in Baghdad on a Saturday morning.

We move up north to the important Iraqi city of Mosul, which is under the control of Kurdish and American Special Forces this morning. Well, control may not exactly be the right word.

Julian Manyon of Britain's ITN reports.


JULIAN MANYON, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Mosul, they started by looting the central bank and then set about the rest. Every official building and many private ones had their contents stolen by excited crowds. The Kurdish driver of this crane had just used it to steal a bus. When he saw me, one of his liberators, he believed, his joy was unconfined. But his trophy turned out to be more than he could handle.

Meanwhile, the bombed-out secret police headquarters, center of power of the old regime, began to burn.

Saddam's palace in Mosul was one of his most magnificent. Today, it attracted looters in hordes. The lucky ones got the ornate furniture and fittings. Latecomers set about removing doors and window frames.

Most of the looters at the palace were Kurds openly celebrating their freedom, but the mood in Arab districts of the city was darker.

(on camera): Here, an Army base is on fire. The troops have fled, and local people have surged in to loot it. But, among many of the Arab population of Mosul, there are profoundly mixed, even hostile feelings towards what is happening. Above all, they're concerned about the complete breakdown of law and order.

(voice-over): At the Saddam Hospital, we found people deeply angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are responsible for this. The security lost in this country. Why?

MANYON: In the wards, victims of coalition bombing. Staff here have had to treat terrible injuries. But, today, they were trying to fend off looters who made repeated attempts to steal hospital equipment, including the ambulances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tried our best to keep them. Two of them have been stolen, and the other have been left here.

MANYON (on camera): Two ambulances were stolen?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two. Two ambulances.

MANYON: Why did they steal them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know. Ask them.

MANYON (voice-over): In the streets of this historic city, one of the oldest inhabited places on earth, the rampage went on, and the few Kurdish troops in Mosul seemed to have little interest in stopping it.

The roads into Mosul became jammed with vehicles, with drivers either trying to get into the city to pillage it or get out with their loot.

In the city center, Arab crowds became angry, and a Western television crew was stoned.

In the afternoon, the first American troops appeared, a handful of Special Forces soldiers accompanied by truck loads of elite Kurdish commandos. The Kurds moved quickly to secure the city center, but, soon after, we took these pictures, the Americans came under rifle fire and pulled out.

Tonight, Mosul is at long last without fear of Saddam Hussein but also without law or government.

Julian Manyon, ITV News, in Mosul.


BROWN: Just about the last member, publicly at least, of the Iraqi regime, if you will, is an Iraqi diplomat, Mohammed Aldouri, the former ambassador to the U.N. And he tonight gave an impromptu press conference as he was leaving the country heading for Paris and eventually Damascus. Knowing who or what the man represented, of course, makes this strange and oddly compelling just the same.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you? How are you?

ALDOURI: Thank you very, very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand you have a statement. Would you like to...

ALDOURI: Well, really I have -- I don't have a statement. I want just to say thank you very much, Richard. And thanks for the CNN. And thank for all your colleagues. I was really happy.

Thank you for your awareness. Thank you for all what you did with me. Sometimes I was very tough. I am sorry for that. I regret. So please accept my apologies.

I will see you, I hope, in a peaceful time with a good friendship between Iraq and United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you happy to be going back to the region? Are you happy to at least be going back?

ALDOURI: I am going to the region -- you know, I have no information from my family from the beginning of the war, the events. So I hope that I can -- I am seeking any kind of information.

I will go in the region to ask somebody to -- if there is something, any kind of information about my family. This is my -- this is the most important reason why I am leaving the United States.

Hopefully, I can return back to United States with another better time, better conditions, and better friendship between Iraqi people and the people of United States. Thank you very much.

I would like to thank also the people of New York and the people of the United States. They are very decent people. I hope that our future will be better for the interests of United States and Iraq.

So I am very hopeful and very confident for the future. I hope that the United States Army will leave Iraq soon and we will have free election for a free government for a free future for Iraq and the people for Iraq.

This is my message to you, to the people of the United States. I hope that we will -- I will be again here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it -- is it emotionally -- was it -- is it hard to have taken Mr. Hussein's portrait down?

ALDOURI: This is something else. He is not now. He's no more in the government, so we are looking for the future. The future is the best. The peace we want. This is the way we are looking forward, and you have to work together to have this peaceful relationship between Iraq and U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to return perhaps in the same -- similar capacity one day?

ALDOURI: Well, it is not important, but I -- I hope that I will return back within a better atmosphere, better conditions and, as I told you, with a better, friendlier relationship between Iraq and United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you have a message to the people who are still fighting, to those people in your country with weapons and guns? What should they do?

ALDOURI: Well -- well, I hope that peace will prevail very, very soon. We need peace. We don't need war. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambassador, thank you very much.

ALDOURI: Richard, good luck. Good luck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

ALDOURI: All the best. All the best. Thank you. Bye-bye.


BROWN: In some senses, that's a beat reporter's life. You get close to sources, even sources who are as bellicose as Mr. Aldouri was. An academic. Came to diplomacy fairly late in life. Was described by other diplomats today as a good man representing a bad government.

We'll take a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: When we talk about coalition forces, we're usually talking about the British and American forces. But we should rightly include another group in that, the Kurds, whose fighters have scored major victories in the North with the help of some, though not many, U.S. forces. the question now is what role will the Kurds have in a new Iraq.

We're joined on the phone by Jalal Talabani, the founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Mr. Talabani, welcome.

What would -- what do you -- what do the Kurds want out of this -- their own state or to be part of Iraq?

JALAL TALABANI, PATRIOTIC UNION OF KURDISTAN: Well, they want to be part of a democratic parliament authority of Iraq, and they don't want to divide the Iraqi country. They are looking for reuniting Iraq.

And they welcome the liberation forces of the coalition. They cooperated with them without -- unconditional cooperation with them, and they work it in Iraqi Kurdistan according to the orders of the commanders of the coalition forces here, mainly American.

BROWN: So many people are skeptical that Kurds can live comfortably with Sunnis, can live comfortably with Shiites, can live comfortably with all the other tribal powers in the country. Are you confident that that can happen, and can it happen quickly?

TALABANI: Well, I think the Kurds can play very important role in the reuniting Iraqi society because they very good relation with Shiite and they are at the same time mainly Sunnis. Perhaps they can coordinate among Shiites and Sunnis.

And, at the same time, the Kurds are a democratic force. They can also play a very important role in democratization in Iraq, and, because they have good relation with everyone, they can be a very main factor in reconciliation of all the Iraqis.

BROWN: Why do you think the Kurds specifically can play this important role in the democratic revitalization of Iraq?

TALABANI: Because, first of all, they are a democratic force, and they want to see -- they want to live within a democratic Iraq, and, also, they have good relation -- and they could keep good relation even at the time of revolution and war -- with all sections of Iraqi society.

They have good relation with everyone, so, of course, they can play this important -- and, above all, they are very well-organized force, and they are popular military -- militarily and political force, also.

BROWN: Mr. Talabani, in this Iraq that you envision that the Kurds are part of, how independent are the Kurds? TALABANI: Well, the Kurds will be part of this Iraq, this united democratic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of Iraq. Within this (UNINTELLIGIBLE), there will be, of course, an -- a Kurdish area, but it will be part of Iraqi state, and, according to the new constitution, the Kurds will enjoy their rights within the framework of this united democratic Iraq.

BROWN: Are you nervous about Turkey these days?

TALABANI: Well, Turkey -- I'll have to be frank with you. We did our best to convince our brothers in Turkey when we were working as Kurds to give them (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

But now, when Iraq is liberated and Iraq is an independent state, it has its own national sovereignty and independence, no one outside Iraq has to say any word about the future of Iraq except the Iraqi peoples.

BROWN: Mr. Talabani, maybe this is the most basic of questions, but, as you've watched the events of the last week play out, what has been going through your mind?

TALABANI: Which kind of events do you mean?

BROWN: The fall of the regime.

TALABANI: Yes. You know, the fall of the regime was a dream of Iraqi people, and I think it show how Iraqi people everywhere, especially in Kurdistan, welcome American forces. They consider them liberators.

In contrary to all propaganda of some people, some certain people in the Arab world, and some Arab media, the Americans here and British forces here were very much welcome by all the Iraqi people as their liberators.

For that, I think the new Iraq must be a country ruled by Iraqi people through free, well-organized elections.

BROWN: Mr. Talabani, thanks joining us. We appreciate your time. This is a huge and important week for you. Thank you very much.

Jalal Talabani who leads the Kurds in the northern part of the country.

Change of scenery and change of topic. We go next to Seattle, Washington, where we're joined by Michael Kinsley, the editor of, columnist for "The Washington Post," wearer of many hats.

It's good to see you. You've written a couple of interesting pieces of late to talk about, it seems to me. Is the anti-war movement, the people who oppose the war, discredited by the events of the last three weeks?

MICHAEL KINSLEY, EDITOR, SLATE.COM: Well, I don't think so, Aaron. There wasn't really an anti-war movement, in the case of this war, but there were many Americans, I have to say including myself. who thought it was a bad idea.

The reason people opposed this war was not that we thought that the United States would be unable to defeat Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army. So the fact that we managed to defeat them doesn't discredit any of the many arguments against the war.

Were there weapons of mass destruction there? We still don't know. Will the -- will a democratic capitalist society emerge when the chaos ends? We don't know. Will democracy spread throughout the Middle East? We don't know. These are all of the things that we were supposedly going to work for.

What will happen to all the young people throughout the Arab world and elsewhere who have been inflamed with anti-American passions? I hope none of these bad things happen and all of these good things do happen, but it's certainly not established yet.

BROWN: Would you agree that the -- one of the reasons the war was waged was to liberate the Iraqi people from a very bad regime, and that pictures -- as chaotic as the scene is there, honestly, that there is some joy at the liberation?

KINSLEY: Certainly, there's joy in Iraq. There's certainly joy in the United States. And that includes among people who opposed the war. I don't speak for anyone else but myself, but I -- and I assume everyone else -- is -- are really happy that it went well and that it ended quickly and that fewer people died than if it had gone on longer.

There were other images this week, though, too, that were more disturbing.

I think the same day as that picture of the toppling of the statue was in the paper, there was on the front page of, I think, both "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times," a picture of the United States soldiers pointing guns at Iraqis who'd been stripped of their clothes and forced to lie down on the ground.

And there was a close up of a man's face, one of these Iraqis that was -- I'm sure you'll remember it, Aaron -- very full of pathos, and I think a lot of people in Iraq probably saw that and had mixed feelings about what's happened in the past week, for which I wouldn't blame them.

BROWN: You wrote about President Bush that he has proven himself to be a great leader. Now that requires some explanation.

KINSLEY: Yes. This is a piece that's coming out in "Time" next week. A great leader is not necessarily a good leader or a good person. I take no view in this particular case on that.

But this war was George Bush's war in the sense that it -- we didn't have to have it. He decided it was a good idea. He was persuaded it was a good idea, and he persuaded everyone else in -- not everyone else, obviously, but enough people in the United States and enough people around the world to prosecute it. And it was much more arbitrary than the first Gulf War, which was occasioned by the invasion of Kuwait, and the other wars that America has fought.

So it's his, and he deserves credit if it all turns out well, and he deserves the blame if it doesn't turn out well. And I, even as a critic, can't take that away from him. He showed more leadership than I thought he had in him, frankly.

BROWN: Twenty seconds here. Do you think we are -- I know this is a concern among many people who, I guess, would describe themselves as liberals here, that we are headed for some permanent state of -- if not war, something close to it in the Middle East, Syria, Iran, who's next, whoever?

KINSLEY: Well, if the United -- certainly, if you take the rhetoric seriously that has come out of the Bush administration about why we were at war with Iraq, you could apply that to Syria, you could apply that to lots of other places.

I don't believe that's going to happen. I don't think we're going to go to war to liberate Syria. But I've been wrong about an awful lot of things lately, so maybe that's one more.

BROWN: Michael, it's good to see you.

Michael Kinsley who's...

KINSLEY: You, too, Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you, sir.

He's in Seattle tonight.

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



BROWN: Quickly, a look at some of the morning papers that you'll be finding, depending on where you live. For example, if you live in Taiwan, and you get "The China Post," you will find very little coverage on the war at all on the front page. "Quarantine allowed on Airplanes." It's a SARS story. There are five SARS stories on the front page of "The China Post," the Saturday edition and two stories dealing with the war.

Same is true in -- over in Korea, in South Korea. The lead story in South Korea, Cheney, "Vice President Cheney Demands North Korea Scrap Nukes." And there are SARS stories there, too.

Here at home, however, it's a different story. "The Charlotte Observer" this morning will look like this, Charlotte, North Carolina. "Regime is Gone; Chaos Takes Hold." That is a theme of many newspapers around the country, but not "The Albuquerque Journal" in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They focus on the service, the memorial service today for the members of the 507th, the Army Maintenance group out of Fort Bliss, Texas. "Grief Comes Home As Bliss Honors Fallen POWS." And they also note the looting going on in Baghdad.

"The Union Leader Manchester" -- how are we doing on time -- Manchester, New Hampshire puts the president's visit to some of the wounded today as its lead story, and then localizes the story of that American flag having to do with the young New Hampshire man.

Also on the front page of the paper in Manchester, big story for University of New Hampshire hockey fans. They play for the college hockey championship against the beloved University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

"The Cincinnati Inquirer," "Iraqis Ransack Cities; Defeated Troops Scurry." So it's a double headline there. But again, the war is fading a bit from the front pages. It's still the major story, but in Cincinnati there are -- is -- there was a SARS story and then a local medical story on medical malpractice performed.

A couple of more, "Dallas Morning News," "Iraqi Resistance Fades, but Lawlessness Spreads." Again, the theme pretty much the same. Down at the bottom, though, in "The Dallas Morning News," what to do if you're having troubling settling an insurance claim on a hail storm that hit the area. One of those news you can use pieces.

And finally, "The Miami Herald," "Iraq in Grip of Chaos" is the headline in the Saturday edition of "The Miami Herald." That's Miami, Florida, but you can see -- see if Chris can take it again quickly -- almost equal in size, "Ferry Hijackers Executed in Cuba." That would be a huge story in the Miami Cuban American community that these three people who hijacked a ferry the other day were executed.

We'll take a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.


BROWN: We talked earlier today about the shape of things to come in Iraq with the public and senior senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel. Senator Hagel served in Vietnam. These days, he's a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Committees as well.

Here's some of the conversation.


BROWN: Senator, the last time we talked, you spoke of uncertainty. This was just before the war started, uncertainty among your constituents, uncertainty in the country. Do you think at this moment, with the war in its final phase at least, that the certainty of the country seems to feel right now is a little premature when looking at the future?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I think what you are seeing now, Aaron, is a sense of confidence that the first phase of this is almost complete. Our soldiers have done a spectacular job. I don't think there's any American in the country today that does not understand that we are now moving into a new phase, a complicated, difficult phase. And that is putting that country back together, and trying to help the Iraqi people establish a new government and future for themselves. There is uncertainty there, yes.

BROWN: Are you comfortable with the way the administration is going about this, that it will be the Pentagon essentially that runs the show from here on out?

HAGEL: Well, I'm not sure that the Pentagon's going to run the show from here on out. Certainly General Garner's initial task force will start I believe this weekend putting together meetings with the various representatives of the Iraqi people, which is appropriate. The State Department will have a very significant role here. I'm hoping that we will see the United Nations involved here very soon, as other allies need to be in very soon, because the legitimacy of what comes next in the eyes of the world, but in particular, the eyes of the Iraqi people is critical to the success of the future in Iraq.

BROWN: The president talked the other day about a vital role for the United Nations, but it does seem that that vital role is pretty much going to be limited, at least initially, to humanitarian assistance as opposed to political reconstruction?

HAGEL: Aaron, obviously the first task that we have ahead of us, as we clean up the military pieces here, and that's not yet complete as you know, is establish order. There is great chaos right now. Essentially, there's anarchy in many parts of Iraq.

So the military is going to be required to help establish that order, as we move into these next phases. But I think the United Nation's role will go well beyond just humanitarian.

For example, the financial role. Right now, there are over $60 billion of debt repayment claims on Iraq. There are over $200 billion in reparation claims against Iraq. The World Bank, IMF, other multilateral institutions are not going to be in there to help sort this out until there is a multilateral organization like the U.N. that can sit everybody down and try and work it out. So this role for the U.N. will go much beyond just humanitarian.

Obviously, the U.N. role can't be to run Iraq. That was never the intention, but it'll be wider and deeper than just humanitarian.

BROWN: When -- there's been a fair amount of criticism today and yesterday, particularly in Arab media, but in other places, too, about the chaos that exists in Baghdad and the rest of the country, that the Americans should have been prepared for that, that the Americans should have had plans in place to deal with that.

Is that criticism fair or not in your view?

HAGEL: Aaron, this is an imperfect business, as you know. Whatever is possible to go wrong will go wrong. You've got a nation of 25 million people, the size of California. It is a disparate nation. It is a tribal, religious, ethnic make-up. So I think the reaction you're seeing here, especially after the people of Iraq have been pinned down by this ruthless Saddam Hussein regime for 25 years, you're going to see some of that come out.

I mean, the anger and all the reaction somewhat predictable. I don't know if the United States could have not only anticipated all of it, but actually controlled it. Now we've got to get control of it. We don't have any options. We cannot let this go on and on. And that's going to be a difficult part of establishing order.

BROWN: It's an awfully complicated task. Senator, it's always good to have a bit of your time.

HAGEL: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you again and have a good weekend.

HAGEL: Thank you, Aaron.


BROWN: Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. We take a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.



JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ...businessmen picked up Kalishnikov assault rifles to protect their life's work and their family's future.

"Ask the Americans," demanded one. "Why don't they protect our belongings, our lives, and our homes? That's what we need. This isn't the freedom Bush talked about."

Everywhere you turned in the capitol Friday, there were looters. While there seemed little complaint about the looting of officials' residences, the looting of honest shop owners was condemned and confronted.

"We are taking up guns to protect our market and our belongings. And please tell the military of America to come here and to protect our market."

At al Kindi (ph) Hospital, the emergency room was a wreck. Pools of blood were diluted by intravenous drips left spilling onto the floors. The entry of armed looters a day earlier prompted the entire medical staff to evacuate. In their place, a local religious leader put armed young men around the facility.

Saeed Rahim Omousoui (ph) said the hospital needed security, and it needed the doctors to return. But even though his so-called security forced donned the blue medical garb to help identify the good from the bad, it is unlikely any doctors will return, so long as these or any other gunmen are inside. Even the truckload of medical supplies that arrived while we watched wasn't all it seemed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the people stealing these medicine was catched [sic] from the volunteer.

CLANCY: These medical supplies had been looted from a central warehouse. Now a truck was bringing them directly to the hospitals for safekeeping.

The question foremost in many Iraqis' minds was whether anywhere in Baghdad was really safe.

(on camera): As darkness fell across this city, U.S. Marines began enforcing a dusk to dawn curfew, at least in the Eastern part of the city. The sermon, coming from the mosques this day, also called for an end to the looting. Baghdad residents held their breath and hoped for the best, hoping the worst is over.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Baghdad.


BROWN: We're joined now by Tammie Wilcuts. She's the emergency leader dealing with the situation in Iraq for Save the Children. She's in Kuwait City tonight.

Good to have you with us. Are you working in much of the country now?

TAMMIE WILCUTS, SAVE THE CHILDREN: So far, we've been working only in Umm Qasr. It's the only town that we've had access to. It's, as you know, the port town right north of the Kuwaiti border.

BROWN: It's a question of safety at this point?

WILCUTS: Yes. The initial things that we've learned from the communities confirm what we've known for a long time. The needs of women and children in Iraq are relating to security. They're relating to food. They're relating to water. 10 years of sanctions has only made worse this difficult situation that Iraqi women and children have been facing for a long time.

BROWN: Is it a question now that you have the supplies, you just don't have the access? Or do you also still need the supplies?

WILCUTS: We've had several months now to prepare for this thing that we've seen coming. We are ready. We're prepositioned in many places around Iraq. But what we don't have is the access to get into find these vulnerable populations and to do detailed assessments of their needs. As soon as we're given that access, and that safe passage to find these communities, we're ready to go.

BROWN: And when you talk about we, how many people will you be working with? You've got a country, an enormous country, with clearly enormous needs. You have children who have lost parents in all of this. You have plenty of illness, hunger, the whole thing. How many people on the ground will you have? WILCUTS: Well, we currently have 12 people. We'll have 25 by the end of next week. But what we're counting on is to pull from the resources and the vast knowledge of Iraqi people. There's, you know, high levels of education. And the Iraqi people are quite capable of working to meet the needs of their own communities. So we will definitely work with Iraqi communities.

BROWN: So you go in as essentially as organizers?

WILCUTS: We will go in and work with communities to develop their own systems for responding to the needs that they have identified within their communities. And right now, we're seeing that the needs very clearly are for security and protection of women and children. We're seeing over and over these images of looting and of chaos. And it's very, very harmful. And it's very frightening for children and for innocent people in Iraq.

BROWN: Is it worse than you thought it was going to be? You've thought about this now for months that this was coming, and that you'd have to go do this work. Is the scene on the ground worse than you expected?

WILCUTS: Well, I think we -- I mean anytime there's a war and a conflict, we know that there's going to be -- we know that there's going to be fear. We know that there's going to be loss of life. We know that there's going to be chaos.

What we want to focus on right now is the protection of women and children, and do what we can to ensure that they are granted the right to have access to health, and to food, and to clean drinking water.

BROWN: And food is not -- am I right that food today is not the biggest problem?

WILCUTS: What we're hearing is that most of the families do have at least a couple months' supply of basic food commodities. But we have not been allowed access to get into the communities, to actually determine if this is the case or not.

Some families that have been receiving these food rations may have to be selling them to get other items that they don't have access to. For example, medication for chronic illnesses or other household needs.

So we just don't know. Even though if these food items had been distributed, it doesn't necessarily mean that the families have that food to eat.

BROWN: And is the coalition giving you any idea when it believes it will be safe for you and other non-governmental organizations to go and do the work you want to do?

WILCUTS: We don't have any guarantees of time, but we certainly hope that it will be very soon, because the longer this goes on, the longer we have to wait. We know that the deeper that the needs will be of women and children in Iraq. BROWN: Tammie Wilcuts, thank you for your time. And best of luck to you.

WILCUTS: Thank you.

BROWN: We've all seen the pictures of the needs. No one disputes that. So hopefully, that part of the puzzle will get put back together.

We'll take a break. When we come back, a look at a week in which history was made in Iraq, but a break first.


BROWN: It has been an extraordinary week, least of all for us sitting here, a long way from Baghdad and the rest of the country. First, there was the euphoria. Now comes the reality. Iraq is clearly a freer place now. When it becomes a safer place is not quite clear.

Some thoughts on this week from CNN's Michael Shoulder.


MICHAEL SHOULDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As this week developed, scenes of battlefield bravery and blood, scenes of Marines carrying wounded Iraqi soldiers to safety with the same sense of urgency that they show one of their own.

Scenes of victory and celebration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Bush.

SCHOLBERG: Of Iraqis pounding the image of Saddam Hussein with the soles of their shoes, an Arab symbol for dirt. Those scenes gave way to something more murky, call it the fog after the war.

A night patrol in Baghdad, an Iraqi car gets too close to a U.S. Marine convoy.


SHOULDER: The Marines think they're being attacked. They think they must shoot to save their lives. When the shooting is over, the three people in the Iraqi car are dead. All three are civilians.

In the towns and cities that the U.S. and British now occupy, there are flowers and kisses and more kisses. And there are efforts to make a connection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...make us happy and the freedom...

SHOULDER: Efforts to find common ground. An Iraqi struggles with the few words of English he knows to tell the Americans that he has family in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brother, Detroit. Mother, Detroit.


SHOULDER: As this week developed, the impression that American and British troops made on the Iraqi people depended on the circumstances of their encounters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door. Get your hands up and come outside. Come outside. Everybody in the house needs to come outside.

SHOULDER: As some Marines carried out the potentially dangerous task of house to house searches, it left a deep impression. Perhaps if the Americans had been able to communicate in Arabic, it would have lessened the fear.

Speaking Arabic certainly seemed to help a Lebanese American sergeant on this house to house search. After the search, the sergeant and his men were invited in for lunch.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Now we want to give you the chance to rebuild your country...

SHOULDER: As this week developed, there were promises from leaders abroad that life will get better.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the future of your country will soon belong to you.

SHOULDER: And there were difficult questions from the Iraqis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll try and help you where we can.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as we can, as soon as we can.

SHOULDER: This week, the fog of war gave way to the fog after the war. In order to declare success, the fog will have to lift.

Michael Shoulder, CNN.


BROWN: The week.


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