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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

7 American POWs Rescued in Iraq; Is Battle for Tikrit Over?

Aired April 13, 2003 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANNOUNCER: Seven American POWs found safe and free.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf the Secretary Rumsfeld, I want you to show your son has been found.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Their families, joyful, relieved, and grateful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT YOUNG, SR, FATHER OF RESCUED POW: It's the greatest thing in the world. Nobody could have given me a greater gift. It made me feel back to the time that he was born, I believe.

JANE RILEY, MOTHER OF RESCUED POW: I'm happy, but I still can't believe it. When I touch him, I know it's real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're ecstatic that all the POWs are back in the U.S. in the U.S.'s hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The first reports were sketchy, the first images grainy, but the thrill of the moment was unmistakable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people were in relative good health. They cried when they were met by the Marines, tears of joy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Saddam Hussein's homeland now looks like a no-man's- land, but is it the battle for Tikrit over?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. That's gunfire. We've just come under attack. Under attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is special edition of INSIDE POLITICS, "The War in Iraq" begins right now with Candy Crowley in for Judy Woodruff in Washington.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They were just waking up or coming back from church, beginning what they thought was another day of anxiety or uncertainty. Then the families of seven prisoners of war in Iraq got the news that had them waving flags and rejoicing. Their loved ones had been found.

The commander in chief was celebrating, too, as he returned to the White House from Camp David.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just a good way to start off the morning to have been notified that seven of our fellow Americans are going to be home here pretty soon in the arms of their loved ones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: These are the seven found in what one reporter calls a wonderful accident in Iraq today. Shoshana Johnson, Patrick Miller, Joseph Hudson, Edgar Hernandez, and James Riley all are from the 507th maintenance company ambushed near Nasiriyah last month. David Williams and Ronald Young are the Apache pilots whose helicopter went down in Iraq the next day.

Now we're going to go to Wolf, now, in Doha, Qatar -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Candy. We, of course, don't yet know when these seven former POWs will be reunited with their families. We do know this. They are now all in safe hands, all seven of them have been released from a hospital in Kuwait. All seven of them supposedly also in very, very good spirits.

They were found earlier in the day by U.S. Marines heading for the battle in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown and the last holdout from coalition forces. While many tanks were abandoned near Tikrit, and many streets deserted, Marines backed by helicopters and fighter jets conducted sporadic battles with Iraqi fighters.

Also today, four U.S. soldiers were wounded in an ambush in the town of Mahmudiyah, about 10 miles south of Baghdad. CNN's Ryan Chilcote reports the soldiers were hit by a grenade attack while trying to clear government buildings. Now let's get the latest developments on those seven freed American POWs. They were turned over to Marines in the Iraqi town of Samarra. CNN's Bob Franken is joining us now live on the phone with the latest. Bob, we have some new video that we're also going to show our viewers as you begin to tell us the latest developments in this dramatic, dramatic recovery -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is the upgraded video of what we had sent early via videophone, the various technologies at work here. The video is the improved version of what the families watched on CNN as their loved ones, the seven rescued POWs return from where they had been lifted to this base, this Marine base, which is about 65 miles south of Baghdad. They were choppered in.

As you can see, they bounded from the first chopper, the first five obviously in great spirits and good health. Only one had an arm in a sling. Then from the other chopper, Specialist Shoshana Johnson, and the other person came off, both of them more injured, but clearly not that seriously injured. They walked with a limp, a bit of a hobble, but they were able to walk under their own power to the ambulances that then took them down to the tarmac, past cheering Marines, into a C130 that was waiting to take them to Kuwait City.

It was all very fast, but it was just a hugely, wildly exciting, just a huge amount of pride, and you can imagine how happy the rescued POWs were. Now, there are several versions of exactly how it is they came to be freed. One of them is that the Iraqi soldiers had lost their officers who deserted them, and the Iraqi soldiers wanted to surrender and ran into the Marine Light Armored unit that was making its way up near the action in Tikrit. The other version is that there was a firefight of some sort before the Iraqi soldiers surrendered and gave up the POWs.

And a third version, the Canadian reporter has an intermediary, a police officer. Whichever version, they are free tonight, they are looking forward to reuniting with their families, plus the military will have a number of questions for them and for the surrendered Iraqis in what turned out to be a big celebration, of course, for the families and for the ones released for the United States as a whole -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They'll be celebrating for a long time. Bob Franken, he was our man on the scene when all of this unfolded. Thanks, Bob, very much.

A Canadian reporter, Matthew Fisher, is embedded with the U.S. Marines. He is also -- he was also in the area when those seven POWs were recovered. Here is his description of what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW FISHER, CANADA'S NATIONAL POST: The man approached their vehicle. My understanding is that he was a police officer, and he said, you've come to get the prisoners. I had nothing to do with it. (AUDIO GAP) And the man took them -- the Marines were astonished. They were taken and found the prisoners. And immediately they said they broke into tears. There was incredible joy, and -- at this, and they thanked them and said they were so glad to be speaking with Americans again and to be in the company of Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Matthew Fisher of the "National Post," the Canadian newspaper embedded with the Marines. Candy, I'll be back at the top of the hour, 5:00 p.m. Eastern for a full one-hour special edition of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." We'll replay my interview with General Tommy Franks, in case some of our viewers missed it earlier in the day. Also, on additional programming note, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, a special tonight on the rescue of those seven American POWs. Until then, thanks very much for watching. Back to Candy in Washington -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Wolf. We will see you at all those times.

As you can well imagine, the families and friends of the released American troops are celebrating today. CNN's Susan Candiotti, Whitney Casey, and Ed Lavandera are with some of the those families. We begin with Susan in Lithia Springs, Georgia -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Candy. It was about three weeks ago when the Ronald Young family first learned that their son, an Apache helicopter pilot, had become a POWs, and they learned that news by seeing his picture captured on CNN. And now once again they got some very good news this time, news that their son had been rescued by the Marines when they saw their pictures for the very first time on television. Ronald Young's mother, Kaye says she was overwhelmed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE YOUNG, RONALD YOUNG'S MOTHER: Ron has this smile that is just from ear to ear. And you could just see it. And we were just so excited. That's all I can think of, is excited. We want to thank those people that went in after him, and the Marines, whoever was involved, the Iraqis that took good care of him. He looks thin, but looks good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now, among all the hugs they were receiving from family and from friends really filling the house. Not long after they saw their son on television, they received the official word from the Army, and I'll tell you, it was a moment that gave you goosebumps. Good news that all the POWs had been released and were in pretty good health. Of course, leading up to this day, it has not been easy at all on the family. Here is Ronald Young's father, Ronald Young, Senior.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD YOUNG SR., FATHER OF RONALD YOUNG, JR.: This is really been a tough thing for us as far as the emotions were concerned, but the end, the culmination of it, you couldn't ask for anything better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now, however, Mr. Young calls this the greatest day of his life, and not a bad present for his wife, Kaye Young, because tomorrow is her birthday. The family has learned they will soon be able to travel to Washington to Walter Reed Hospital when their son eventually is flown there. And believe you me, Candy, of course like everyone else, they can't wait.

CROWLEY: Thanks so much, Susan. We know they can't. We want to go to Ed Lavandera. Ed, also some wild celebrations down there we've been able to get a peak at. ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a beautiful glimpse here this morning, as one of Claude Johnson, who is the father of Shoshana Johnson, an old Army buddy of his who is a truck driver was driving from New Jersey to El Paso this morning. When he heard the news, he called up the family and asked if he could help celebrate, and take a look at what happened next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN KRUGER, CLAUDE JOHNSON'S FRIEND: Oh, thank you, Jesus. My joy is your joy. I'm just so happy, I can't help it. My faith is your faith. Million-dollar magic. We were all going for you. Now look at it, we've got him coming home.

It's not about me, it's about her, folks. Now the rest of them -- that's my joy. Take care, folks. Come on home, soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: Well, you can see how excited Mr. Johnson's friend was, Claude Johnson, Shoshana's father, is a Gulf War veteran as well. His friend there, Ken Kruger, was an old Army buddy of Claude Johnson as well. His sister -- her sister -- Shoshana's sister told me three weeks ago that Shoshana has been a fighter and has always been able to make it out of the toughest situations. I talked with her a while ago this morning, and I told her I was very happy for the family, and she said, not as happy as we are. Candy, back to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty good news, Lieutenant?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is, every time someone comes back alive, it's great news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: So the Johnsons haven't spoken out here public publicly yet. They say -- a family friend told me a little while ago that they are just enjoying the moment. They want to soak it all in. They've been up since the early morning hours watching all of the news coverage and all the news coming in. Clearly, there's no way to clearly say it, other than to say that this is an extremely joyous day for the Johnson family here in El Paso. Candy, back to you.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much, Ed Lavandera. It must feel good to laugh out loud for the Johnson's. We want to take you now to Whitney Casey. Such a different story here, Whitney, because there's so many colliding emotions with your family?

WHITNEY CASEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly a lot of those colliding emotions, and I -- just listening to Ed Lavandera and that family there, it was such a different scene here. They're ecstatic to know the news, but the elation was not as pronounced as you hear in these other reports, and that's because just three days after Sergeant James Riley was called a prisoner of war, his sister died here. So the family has been going through a roller coaster of emotion. I was going to show you the house behind me, because it brings it brings them a lot of joy to remember Sergeant James, because he was the one who painted this house yellow, and today it was painted with joyous news that he was going to be coming home. So great for them. I just want to show you, too, their neighborhood right here. This is yellow ribbons everywhere, and flags, and as you can see of course, media has camped out here in front of their house. This has sort of been the scene at times whenever they would hear news, the media trucks would arrive here and they are becoming somewhat used to it. Even in the midst of all this tragedy.

Now, the father and the mother just held a press conference recently and they were a bit disconcerted, they said, about how the Red Cross had been handling the communication. Let's listen to what Mr. Riley said just moments earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ATHOL RILEY, FATHER OF RESCUED POW: Well, the biggest concern was brought about by -- there was no communication from the Red Cross. So you didn't -- from the date of capture, other than the tape that was shown on TV by Al Jazeera, there was no verification that; A, they were still alive. They were being treated properly, where they were, or even that they even existed. So that was the biggest problem. Had we had some verification, then you wouldn't have had the worry that was always there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CASEY: So there was always sort of a mixture of emotions here with this family, but we also spoke with them earlier and brought them into our truck and showed them the exclusive video that Bob Franken and his team got in southern Iraq, and this is the first time that she had actually seen her son since she had seen the image of him as a POW on the Internet, so she was elated to see the outline of his face. Let's take a listen to what she said after she watched that video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

A. RILEY: Hang in there.

J. RILEY: Hang in and pray, and have faith.

CASEY: You guys went to church this morning?

J. RILEY: Oh, yeah.

CASEY: All right. So your faith paid off?

J. RILEY: It paid off for everybody -- well, not for everybody, but for the seven that have come home. Hopefully it will still work for the MIAs.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CASEY: And let me just tell you about the candor of this family. It is really unbelievable. They are so humble, self-effacing, self- deprecating. They're one of the nicest families, and what they've said about their son is that he's stubborn, he's cheap and he's a workaholic, and they can't wait to get him back. Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks so much, Whitney Casey, with the Rileys of New Jersey.

Reporting more casualties is always a grim business, but today one figure stands out in a good way. The number of known coalition prisoners of war in Iraq now is zero. However, five Americans still are missing in action, 115 American and 31 British service members have been killed in this war. There are no reliable figures on Iraqi casualties. U.S. Central Command says more than 7,300 Iraqis have been captured.

More on the American POWs when we return.

What happens when former captives return home, and how the military helps them make the transition back to freedom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice over): 7:06 a.m., General Tommy Franks tells CNN six or seven U.S. soldiers have been found in Iraq and are apparently in good shape.

7:52 a.m., CNN's Bob Franken embedded with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit provides more details on the release and sends back exclusive video. He says seven American troops arrived by helicopter at a base south of Baghdad today, and were immediately transferred to a C130 transport plane which reportedly took them to Kuwait City.

9:16 a.m., Matthew Fisher, a Canadian reporter embedded with the Marines reports that the battle for Tikrit has begun.

10:02 a.m., the family of Ron Young, Jr., one of the seven freed this morning receives a visit from the U.S. Army representative who tells them their son is safe. The Youngs already knew this because they had seen Ron, Jr. on CNN before the official notification.

11:41 a.m., Shane Parker calls CNN to say his family got confirmation that his brother Patrick Miller was among one of the rescued POWs. Parker says he just wants to see his brother.

11:53 a.m., Matthew Fisher, the Canadian reporter, tells CNN that it was totally an accident that the POWs were found. He said an Iraqi policeman had approached the Marines asking if they had come for the prisoners. The policeman then led the Marines to a nearby building where they found the seven Americans still under guard by the Iraqis.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CROWLEY: All day we have seen the families and friends of the newly freed American POWs rejoicing at today's dramatic news. It sure shows, however, that after the initial excitement, the transition back to freedom can be difficult for former POWs. For more, I'm joined by our military analyst, General Don Shepperd. Don, let me ask you, obviously we have got these young men and this young woman coming off, pumping their fists, and there's got to be a real high there, but I imagine it sinks in later and they deal with difficult things.

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They do, indeed, Candy, this is euphoric for the people involved, for the families and for all of America, and of course for the people that rescued them. But they face some difficult days ahead and they don't even realize it. The euphoria quickly is replaced.

If our experience is with these POWs like it has been other wars, by guilt, by doubt, and also by problems they don't realize they have. The military has become very, very good at handling the psychological aspects of POWs. This is learned the hard way from looking at the experiences of families and POWs themselves in the various wars we've been involved in, and the problems caused within the families, and to the members themselves. So we're getting good at this, and they'll get very good care, Candy.

CROWLEY: What have they learned throughout sort of the wars that have gone on about what POWs go through? Is there anything similar between, you know, five and a half years, as John McCain had in Vietnam, to 33 days, or three weeks? Or do they go through similar things?

SHEPPERD: Yes, it is very interesting. Experts tell me a lot depends on the individual's psychological makeup. For instance, John McCain, who was in captivity for five and a half years, terribly tortured, basically says he doesn't have any reaction, he doesn't have any nightmares, and others were in captivity for a short period of time say they do have nightmares. So it depends on the individual. What they have found is that they go through similar experiences, doubt, guilt, did I do something wrong that caused me to become a POW, did I do something wrong that caused others to get killed? All this self-doubt can be handled by real professionals that explain what they have been through, the experience of others, and help them cope with it, Candy.

CROWLEY: Obviously, General Shepperd, it's not over yet. I want to just sort of turn the corner and talk about the ongoing battle, but first I wanted to play a bit of Wolf Blitzer's interview with Tommy Franks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, COMMANDER, CENTRAL COMMAND: I wouldn't say it's over, but I will say we have American forces in Tikrit right now.

BLITZER: And is there any resistance -- organized military resistance?

FRANKS: When last I checked, this force was moving on Tikrit, and there was not any resistance.

BLITZER: What does that say to you? The Republican Guard, the special republican guard, the special security organizations, all of Saddam Hussein's military and police have crumbled?

FRANKS: One would like to think that. But I think we would be premature to say, well, gosh, it's all done, it's all finished.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So, General Shepperd, this is not a man who is going to count any chickens before they're hatched, but what really is the biggest problem ahead for U.S. troops?

SHEPPERD: General Franks is very careful with his words. And when D Company of the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion securing the left flank of the Marine advanced toward Tikrit, came across these POWs this morning, their other elements on the right flank and in the center were advancing on Tikrit and they were coming against fire, even armored fire. So basically, I think what General Franks is telling us is even when Tikrit is gone, there will be pockets of resistance in Baghdad and some of the southern cities, in cities they have not been to throughout the country. We may see several weeks or months of this, and then security will gradually take over as the citizens themselves point out remaining pockets and the country is disarmed and new military is formed in the country, Candy.

CROWLEY: You know, General Shepperd, but then it becomes a very different kind of war, doesn't it? When you don't have units moving to the right flank and left flank, this becomes three Marines verses a sniper. Isn't that totally different eventually?

SHEPPERD: It does, indeed. Military operations are fairly straightforward. You have a plan, you have objectives, you move forward to take those objectives. You fight your way in if necessary, or bypass them if required, and there's a victory over the objective, if you will. You move on to the next objective. Peace is much more difficult, and an extended peace in Iraq, where there are many hidden arms and hidden caches around the country, many hard feelings will be existing for a long period of time. We know that there will be suicide bombers involved here. It is going to be very difficult and it is going to require patience, and it is going to require understanding of the American public and the world community, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks so much. Our CNN analyst, General Don Shepperd, we really appreciate it.

As we have reported, five of the seven POWs found today are from the 507th Maintenance Company, the same unit as Private Jessica Lynch. Private Lynch arrived back in the U.S. yesterday and was taken to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington to continue her recovery. She was rescued by U.S. forces in a dramatic overnight operation on April 1. Private Lynch was welcomed to the U.S. by Major General Kevin Kiley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAJOR GENERAL KEVIN KILEY, U.S. ARMY: I spoke with her last night on her arrival. I said to her, Private Lynch, welcome home and welcome to Walter Reed. We are glad to have you here. And her response was, I'm glad to be here, too, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Private Lynch is said to be in good spirits. General Kiley says her stay at Walter Reed could stay could be as long as a few weeks. We have a reminder to stay tuned tonight for CNN's special coverage of the recovery of the seven former American POWs. That is tonight, 8:00 p.m. eastern, 5:00 Pacific.

When we return, we'll check the hour's top headlines, plus we will go live to Baghdad with our Christiane Amanpour where widespread looting continues to plague the city.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

CROWLEY: A small group of Saddam loyalists held an anti-American rally today outside the Palestine Hotel in downtown Baghdad.

Widespread looting continued in Iraqi capital, although many residents say they are disgusted by it. CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Baghdad is with us now live. Christiane, what is the basic situation if you can describe it in one way in the capital city?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically it's still quite unstable in terms of sporadic gunfire in terms of the Marines and the U.S. Army soldiers having to deal with threats to themselves and to other people in this city. We've seen looters who are shooting each other and stabbing each other. We saw that just outside the Hotel this evening.

So it is quite unstable still, and there's several different things going on. For instance, you just saw that protest. Those were small but noisy group of Saddam loyalists, but in a mosque, in another part of town there were some preachers basically trying to talk about restoring order. But there were also some anti-American chants there, anti-Israel chants there; people say we don't want these Americans here, they're occupiers. We don't want them if they won't restore order.

So a little bit of instability there, so we're not sure whether that's a broad spectrum of mosque opinion, or was there one or two mosques that we saw today. Like I said, looting has continued in some parts of town. It does seem that in some areas it's not as intensive and not as frenzied as it has been over the last couple of days, and that could be because there's so much stuff that's already been stolen.

But also, there are other instances we've seen in other parts of town of people trying to clean up, trying to get the garbage off the street, trying to for instance go to various power plants and get the electric grid working again. There are massive challenges in getting basics up and running. The Marines on this side of the city have said they'll going to try to work with more of the representatives of the civil administration, finally trying to get a police patrol out on the streets they hope tomorrow. U.S. Army says some Army engineers are coming in to try to help with the electricity.

So there are an enormous amount of things that still need to be done. Most of the people are telling us, yes, we're glad Saddam Hussein is gone, but we really do desperately want as a prime priority security, order and your basic food, water, electricity.

CROWLEY: Christiane, I don't know if it's possible to -- safety is a relative thing, but does it feel dangerous to you on the streets, and I see there is looter on looter violence and pockets I guess still of resistance. But have you been able to walk around and get a fairly good grip on the mood of the city?

AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, we've driven around over the last few days. I think you have to keep your eyes open. People tell us to be careful, don't go down this or that ally. And you know it's sporadic, it's not like you go, it's not all over the city that you're going to get shot at. It is just in various different parts. And we heard it around here. For instance this evening, and indeed, one of our colleagues who was out on assignments yesterday, the car got looted and his bags and things got looted.

So, you know, it is simply not fully stable yet, and it will take some time to calm down. Of course, you know, still Marines are having to protect some the hospitals, and there's a lot of personal security and personal safety issues that the people of this city still have.

CROWLEY: Thank so much. Christiane Amanpour in Baghdad reporting for us.

Just ahead, President Bush warns Syria, and he says he thinks that country has chemical weapons. We'll go live to the White House. As we go to break, more from those first moments when families got the news this morning the seven POWs had been recovered. CNN Jamie Colby was on the phone with the wife of Apache pilot David Williams, the wife a pilot herself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE COLBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was on the phone with her when she saw his picture on the air and was just screaming with joy. This is a really happy moment for these families, and for Bob to be able to bring the kind of information that he is, is just so comforting to families who have waited for any word. That each day was so long for them. Now they have this wonderful news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today is a great day for the families, comrades, loved ones, the seven missing in action that are free. I'm really pleased for all of us who have been praying for their safety, that they are safe. We still have missing in action in Iraq; we will continue to look for them. We pray that they, too, will be safe and free one of these days. But it's just a good way to start off the morning to have been notified that seven of our fellow Americans are going to be home here pretty soon, in the arms of their loved ones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: President Bush also said today he thinks there are chemical weapons in Syria, and he warned the Syrians against harboring wanted leaders of the Saddam's regime. Our White House correspondent Chris Burns joins us now. Chris, a couple things, first of all, the chemical weapons the president is talking about in Syria, does he think they've been there all along, or does he think they've been transported across the border from Iraq?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Candy that's something we're trying to nail down. The CIA has already said that Syria does have chemical weapons. That's something the Syrian government denies. The president brought that up again today, as the focus goes to bring down the Saddam Hussein Baath Party regime, to tracking down these members. It is believed by the administration that there are some members of the Baath Party, perhaps Saddam Hussein himself that went into Syria. That is why he is getting warnings not only from President Bush but also from the defense secretary and from his secretary of state, and others in talk shows today. The president saying as he came back from Camp David, that he expects cooperation from the Syrian government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The Syrian government needs to cooperate with the United States and our coalition partners and not harbor any Baathists, any military officials, any people who need to be held to account for their tenure during what we are learning more and more about. It was one of the most horrendous governments ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNS: Well, a sharp retort from the Syrian deputy ambassador here in Washington amid all this talk here in Washington. He's fighting back, saying that all this talk against Syria is a red herring for what's going on in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMAD MOUSTAPHI, DEP. SYRIAN AMB. TO U.S.: This is a campaign of misinformation and disinformation, and this is just a campaign about trying to divert attention from the terrible things that are going on in Iraq today. The looting, the lawlessness, the mobs in the streets, destroying museums.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNS: So no exact threat of any force from the Bush administration, but when the president was asked about what Syria and North Korea and other countries could learn from the war in Iraq, the president said that they should know that we're serious about stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, period -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Chris, I know the president and others are warning Syria not to get in the way. I also know that I think a couple of days ago, at least that Syria had closed its borders to people other than Syrians trying to cross back in. But does the administration go the next step, do they say they're not cooperating? Or right now is it just you better cooperate with us?

BURNS: Well, that's an interesting question. It does appear that in some ways Syria is cooperating. I believe that even the Bush administration confirmed that the Syrians had stopped fighters from going from Syria into Iraq to fight with any remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime against the U.S.-led forces. But when it comes to people moving into Syria from Iraq, it does appear that that is still porous, that there is still dissatisfaction by the Bush administration that Syria is cooperating on that.

So if they're talking about demanding cooperation, the Syrians, at least in the eyes of the U.S. administration, are not cooperating.

CROWLEY: White House correspondent Chris Burns. Thanks, Chris.

Still ahead, recent jubilation turns to anger. Our Nic Robertson is in Baghdad, where the locals are growing angry with coalition forces.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside Iraq's television station a similar story. Looters searching harder to get the good stuff. Among this band of would-be rip-off merchants, frustration and anger setting in. "We are living in anarchy and chaos," says Ali. "Before with Saddam at least we could sleep peacefully. We need protection."

Father of eight, Jiad (ph), shows his military pension card. "All the records are gone," he says, "where can I get money to feed my family?" None will admit to looting, but as we stand talking goods gradually fill the trolley behind us, ready to be carted off.

(on camera): This office is typical of what we're finding around Baghdad in the government buildings. Everything has been looted that seems to be of just about any value to the people. This is another videotape, but it wouldn't be useful to any one at home, it wouldn't work in a home VCR.

(voice-over): Unarmed and out on the streets, policeman talk confidently of tackling the often gun toting looters. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We can do everything. The citizens know how powerful we are. We can lessen the chaos and control it.

ROBERTSON: Across the road, Essem (ph) angrily doubts the claim. "They do this just for the cameras," he says, "it is a lie." As we stop to listen, a crowd gathers, pouring out their grievances.

Emotions are raw, and we are barraged with a plethora of concerns. "My baby is dying," says Leila (ph), I told the U.S. soldiers, but they don't care."

"Saddam was a dog," this man screams, "but if the Americans don't help, we will revolt."

"Armed men are coming to my house and attacking my girls," pleads Najat (ph). "I came here to tell the press."

Most say they are appealing to journalists, because they don't know where else to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to ask about missing people. Because we have a lot of people, friends, our people that are missing in the town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one knows what to do. This is a problem. We must have our future, what will we eat tomorrow?

ROBERTSON: In a tense crowd, Najat (ph) calls out to the lone policeman, "I want to see you in our neighborhood. This is a catastrophe for you and us," she says, "and God willing we will overcome it."

As he leaves the crowd echoes his words, inshallah (ph). With God's grace, a well-worn phrase here, speaking more to hope than certainty.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: When we return, a look at how many families of the seven former POWs react to the news their loved ones were safe and back in the U.S. hands. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: As we've shown you throughout this hour, it's a day of celebration for the families and friends of those seven American troops released today in Iraq. Here's another look at some of the reactions from their loved ones here at home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm happy, but I still can't believe it. When I touch him, I'll know it's real, or see him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a just so happy, dude. I just knew it was going to happen, you know? They were going to find my brother and the other prisoners

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our daughter, Shoshana Johnson, is safe and alive. Quote, from Claude Johnson, "we are ecstatic that not only she is safe, but all the POWs are back in the U.S. in the U.S.'s hands."

ANECITA HUDSON, MOTHER OF JOSEPH HUDSON: I'm really -- I'm crying and I'm happy, and right now I'm really glad that they found my Joseph.

KAYE YOUNG, MOTHER OF RONALD YOUNG: Ron has this smile that is just from ear to ear. And you could just see it. And we were just so excited. That's all I can think of, is excited. But we want to thank those people that went in after him, and the Marines, whoever was involved, the Iraqis that took good care of them. He looks thin, but he looks good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: And we have a little more reaction to give you now. This is from Mrs. Riley, who is the mother of Joseph Riley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. RILEY: Hello, James? Hello. How are you? How are you doing? How are you hanging? Hungry? Starving? OK. Well, we're happy you're free, and we hope to see you soon, and you know that we love you and we miss you, and you've made us be on TV an awful lot lately. That's part of the job, right? I said that's part of the job, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Once again, that is Jane Riley, who is mother of James, one of the seven newly released POWs. Just like a mom, to ask him if he is hungry. That is it for this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley. One quick note, tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS, Judy Woodruff will talk to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Collins about the ongoing humanitarian situation in Iraq. We leave you now with another look at some of the former POWs. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next after a check of this hour's top headlines.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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