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The Road to Baghdad

Aired June 22, 2003 - 20:00   ET



GROUP: No blood for oil! No blood for oil! No blood for oil!

HANS BLIX, U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: In the course of these inspections, we have not found any smoking gun.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: With the threat of war much closer now, tension is on the rise.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Events in Iraq have now reached the final days of decision.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein has used such weapons. Saddam Hussein has no compunction about using them again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are confident that no one will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because there are none.

BUSH: The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The majority of the council confirmed that they do not want to authorize the use of force.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Sometimes and in particular dealing with the dictator, the only chance for peace is a readiness for war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they are facing is a definite step.

BUSH: Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an ultimatum that put Saddam Hussein on final notice, an ultimatum delivered in defiance of the U.N. Security Council, an ultimatum the Iraqi leadership would immediately reject.

For the second time in little more than a decade, the United States was primed for war with Iraq. This time, there was no broadbased U.N. coalition supporting military action. Instead, the U.S. was virtually going it alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a landmark in U.S. diplomatic history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even France, Germany and Russia broke ranks with the Bush administration over a U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, a resolution doomed by the U.N. Security Council.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLERIN, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: President Chirac said it very clearly. He would vote no to a resolution authorizing at the present stage the use of force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a very big deal that the Bush administration did not listen to the Security Council, because by not listening to it, it relegated it to kind of a dust bin like status, saying you were a relic of some other era. You're not relevant right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It also fueled suspicion in the Arab world.

FAWAD GERGEZ, MIDEAST SCHOlA: They believed that the major strategic objective of the American invasion is to subjugate Iraqis, is to control their own resources, and of course to change the landscape, the regional landscape as a whole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the few leaders lined up behind President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER, BRITAIN: This is a tough choice indeed, but it is also a stark one. To stand British troops down now and turn back, or to hold firm to the course that we have set. And I believe passionately we must hold firm to that cause.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When this war gets studied years from now, it will be the Bush-Blair go it alone tactic. They called it the coalition of the willing, but it was truly the coalition of the few.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the consequences, the U.S. military was forced to adjust its war plan when Turkey, a key NATO ally, refused to let American troops use its territory as a launching pad into northern Iraq.

The Pentagon had to decide whether to wait for the redeployment of the troops originally slated for Turkey.

WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They made the decision to go ahead. And what that left was a force that was short one division, plus another supporting element.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. was now ready to launch what would be a pre-emptive strike, an almost unprecedented U.S. action stemming from a policy that came to be called "the Bush Doctrine."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bush Doctrine stated very clearly that the United States doesn't have to cooperate with anybody, that if we feel a threat of being bombed or being attacked by a foreign power, we're going to strike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As President Bush's 48 hour deadline ticked down, nervous Iraqis in Baghdad began preparing for what was becoming more and more inevitable.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the surface, life seemed to go on like normal. People would drive into the city. There'd be traffic jams in the morning going into the center of Baghdad. The stores were still open.

Underneath that, people were concerned. They were expressing concern about what would happen during the war. They were very worried about the bombing. They'd seen what had happened in 1991. They were worried about the potential for chaos when the war ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lined up along the Kuwaiti border, U.S. troops played their own tense waiting game.

Almost 200,000 troops from the U.S. led coalition marked time, waiting for war.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Marines had been in Kuwait for well over a month. And all they were talking about was, you know, either let's go to war or let's go home. They were sick and tired of waiting in the desert.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were frightened. They were worried. They were anxious to see how they'd hold up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adding to the anxiety in the desert, fear of a chemical weapons attack.

SAVIDGE: The key moment when I realized it was going to happen was the day that they came to us and said, "all right, those chemical warfare suits that you were all given, that you kept in the plastic wrap, open them, put them on."

And this time, it was thought it was a serious thing. The threat of chemical use was high.

BUSH: The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.

VINCI: I think that once the president made the speech, it was (unintelligible) commandos overnight on the radio, I think that the following day everybody realized that, you know, it was going to be a question of hours before the order to go into Iraq was going to come. I think -- I really felt that the mood really changed then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Early Wednesday morning, March 19th, a little more than 12 hours before the ultimatum deadline was set to expire, President Bush called his war council together to set the final plan for the military campaign.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He comes into the situation room. This is all done by video link, but they know this is the meeting. It is his quintessential Bush. And it's described as a very emotional meeting, but also a very business like meeting. He goes around to each of the commanders. Do you have everything you need? Are you comfortable with the plan? They all respond in sequence in the affirmative to both questions. So then he tells General Franks go. And Bush was leaving. He was turning around to walk out, but he turns back and he gives General Franks a salute. And General Franks salutes back. And off he goes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the war plan would quickly change.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day was dawning in Baghdad when the sound of air raid sirens and anti-aircraft fire pierced the early morning silence. It was March 20th, 5:33 a.m. in Baghdad. The attack on Iraq had begun.

But it wasn't the shock and awe the Pentagon had promised. It was a surgical strike instead.

KING: The CIA Director Tenet is over at the Pentagon. And he's over there having a meeting with Rumsfeld and others over there when they get this intelligence.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An Iraqi agent for the CIA on the ground. And from that source, and perhaps others, the CIA was convinced that Saddam Hussein and possibly one or more of his sons were probably in that facility at that time.

KING: And so, they insist on a meeting with the president. When they come rushing over, it's about 3:30 in the afternoon. And they come back into the White House. And they show the president. We think this is real. We think it's legit. We think he's there. And we think he's going to be there for a few hours at least. And we think we should hit it.

And General Franks told them he need to know by 7:15. And finally, at 7:12 with three minutes to spare, Bush says go. Then they call Tommy Franks and they say launch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. forces fired about three dozen Tomahawk missiles and dropped a pair of 2000 pound satellite guided bombs.

BUSH: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.

CLARK: It was a risk to win the war in a single stroke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A risk that didn't pay off. Just a few hours after the strike, Saddam Hussein appeared on Iraqi television in what was billed as a live appearance.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FMR. PRESIDENT IRAQ: (through translator) Iraq will be victorious, God willing. And with Iraq, our nation and humanity will be victorious. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But was it really Saddam or a body double? Was it live or taped beforehand? Was Saddam Hussein dead or alive?

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just heard an -- what the hell.

We were sitting at the Kuwait side of the line of departure. It was dark and there was some sort of whoosh missile overhead.

Can you hear me? Atlanta, we just heard something shooting.

Iraq responded to the U.S. strike with a volley of missiles aimed at coalition ground troops still amassed in Kuwait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take shelter at the nearest scud bunker. Put on your flap jackets and helmets.

ROBERTSON: This is the ninth time now, Wolf, in as many hours roughly.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had 16 of them in 12 hours one day. But every time that noise went off, it just made this sort of high pitched, screeching noise that was followed by some guy in a sort of very monotone voice, saying "bunker, bunker, bunker, gas, gas, gas."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bunker calls kept troops on edge, but the warnings turned out to be false alarms. At the same time, an advanced type of patriot missile kept the Iraqi surface to surface missiles from inflicting any casualties.

It wasn't the only technological advance since the first Gulf War.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a system. And as we travel more, it's going to give me situational awareness from all the other units.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant General David McKiernan was taking advantage of other 21st century technology to head up the ground war.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to immediately establish a planning link with fifth corp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is exclusive video of the headquarters for the ground war against Iraq, shot as the war unfolded. McKiernan's war room overlooked a high tech operation center. The network of satellites, computers, and operatives on the ground gave him an unprecedented view of the entire battlefield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what the technology allows you to do is see where all the formations are on the digital terrain. It allows me to see where the airframes are, where the carrier battle groups are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decapitation strike and reports that fires were blazing in the Ramalia oil fields in southern Iraq put the war room to the test right away. McKiernan and his commanders persuaded Tommy Franks and Centcom to move early to protect the southern oil fields.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were told to secure the southern Ramalia oil field, that up to the canal. Because that was where the key infrastructure was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The war plan suddenly shifted. The start date of the ground war moved up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think we achieved a certain degree of tactical and operational surprise by going early to secure the southern part of the Ramalia oil fields.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But troops in Kuwait were still in the dark about when the ground war would start.

SAVIDGE: And we tried to figure out a way to send the signal, just to let CNN know, all right, the blackout period has begun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 2:00 a.m., troops got word the ground war had begun.

SAVIDGE: So when I heard the commotion outside, heard the feet, the boots come on the wood floor in the tent and start to hear this shut down, I immediately had my cellphone in the sleeping bag and keyed it and sent it off.

And it was just an image of two people, I think dancing, but that had always been the code that the embargo had begun, that you wouldn't hear from us until the shooting had started. The dance had begun.


RODGERS: Imagine for a moment, a giant wave of steel sweeping across the southern Iraqi desert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The unit just seemed to break out into a line and drive it -- what seemed like a reckless speed.

RODGERS: This giant wave of steel that grows every hour is ever pushing northward, ever pushing toward the Iraqi capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just an unbelievable experience. It was almost a race to Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So powerful was this force, which is building out here in the desert. It is bold, it is audacious, it is fast, and it is traveling far.

KELLY MCCANN, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: And that feeling of elation and jubilation, it was the best propaganda.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: On the president's order, coalition forces began the ground war to disarm Iraq and liberate the Iraqi people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The start came a couple days early, but the entrance was no less dramatic. The Army's Third Infantry Division roared into southern Iraq with the Seventh Cavalry leading the way.

RODGERS: We were the tip of the tip of the spear. We were farthest out in front of the regular army.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The war plan dictated that the Army would cut westward, and then north through the open desert, in an effort to put early pressure on the capitol and the Iraqi regime.

CLARK: Move as rapidly as you can. Get the distance. Move out. Get the maneuver space. See if there's resistance out there. Clear the path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. Marines and British forces would head up the Euphrates, largely bypassing what were anticipated to be friendly cities and taking bridges, with the goal eventually to secure the most direct route to Baghdad.

The televised images of U.S. and British forces on Iraqi soil struck a psychological blow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a wave of steel. And it was descending on Baghdad. And no matter what channel you turned into, you saw it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But denial reigned in the capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have distributed the tape, showing all the desert, and some military vehicles moving in that desert. Where is this desert?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN's Nic Robertson saw Iraqi reaction to U.S. incursions first hand as he reported from Baghdad, all the while being monitored by Iraqi minders.

ROBERTSON: They were shaken. The war had started. The minder on that second, first and second day, you almost went into shock when he heard that Marines had crossed the border and were traveling into Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were bombs over Baghdad. And the ground campaign was in full swing. Iraqi officials were so incensed by what they were seeing on CNN, that Robertson and his team were expelled the next day.

The night before they left the country, another blow to the regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the beginning, essentially, of the war that we'd heard about, the shock and awe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's basically the idea of creating the perception at the beginning or at some point in the conflict, that the result is inevitable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A day, the letter A, not B day, suggesting that this is the beginning of the shock and awe campaign tonight, night three of the war in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huge fireballs erupting, but multiple fire balls. Bang, bang, bank, bank, bank, all the same area. Huge clouds of black smoke coming up. The light's, which still on in the city, which were strange. So you had almost this (unintelligible) behind it. It was an armageddon like feeling.

KING: According to U.S. intelligence, there is "complete confusion, "complete disarray" in the senior Iraqi military leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be campaign, unlike any other in history. A campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by flexibility, by the employment of precise munitions on a scale never before scene. And by the application of over whelming force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But for all the hype, there was a lingering sense that shock and awe had fallen short.

ROBERTSON: It thought that it would be so horrendously intense that there will be so many more places aheat that I think, and I also perhaps thought by the end of that night, well, I've seen it. And I've witnessed it. And yes, it was shocking and awesome, but it wasn't that shocking and awesome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Pentagon, however, was banking on the psychological impact it would have on the Iraqi regime.

CLARK: If you had been on the ground in Baghdad, and you'd been trying to protect critical assets. And you watched it come every night. And then night and day, relentlessly, you knew that there was no surviving this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In southern Iraq, it seemed to be working. Irai forces appeared to be surrendering. Marines had been sent to secure the port of Umm Qasr, which was a vital element in the plan to bring humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They believe that the P.R. war was as important to the effort as the war on the ground. And they thought that going in Umm Qasr was going to be the first PR victory.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Confidence was high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the predictions were that this was going to be a cakewalk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wouldn't put it in those terms, but you could tell that that's what the Marines were thinking.

CLARK: There have been so much talk in Washington and around the world from the Iraqis and the Iraqis that had lived in London, that there be no resistance. I mean one even told me, he said well we're going to give all of southern Iraq to you. You won't have any fighting at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But one day into the ground war, the first reports of combat casualties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are just receiving a report now about a second Marine who was killed in action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There, tell him the Marines having a tough time. I think at that point, the bubble burst. And I thought, wait, we've been told that these guys just can't fight, and these guys aren't going to fight, but they're fighting. What are we getting ourselves into here?


RUMSFELD: The regime is starting to lose control of their country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barely two days into the war against Iraq, and according to the Pentagon, it was being won handily.

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I went back looking for some quotes from the military in that first day. Here are some things they said.

"The war is being won more quickly than we thought. Everything is going completely to plan -- even quicker in many cases. The orders should be given to march straight into Baghdad in the next 48 hours."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But a very different message was coming from Iraqi leadership.

SAEED AL-SAHAF, FORMER IRAQI MINISTER OF INFORMATION (through translator): We heard that the American forces have entered Umm Qasr. This is ridiculous. Umm Qasr will resist them, and we will see this as a fight.

RUMSFELD: In fact, coalition forces did capture and do control the port of Umm Qasr, and also a growing portion of the country of Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marines raised an American flag over the port city, but it was quickly taken down.

BELLINI: It was not secure. The battles went on for an entire week.

I don't know how many times I heard them say, OK, it's secure now. And then there'd be another fire fight.

The guys would come out of the woodwork. That was the expression that they used.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. and British forces were encountering unexpected resistance from unpredictable foes. They were called the Saddam Fedayeen.

BELLINI: We also began hearing for the first time about Iraqi paramilitaries dressed in civilian clothing. And they'd point out to us -- these guys were fighting us. We captured them, and they were not in uniform.

They're not playing by the rules. That was very upsetting to the Marines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the U.S. military stuck to its plan, racing northward past the cities.

Support staff, supply trucks and maintenance personnel were forced to bring up the rear.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Everything was coming from northern Kuwait. Everything had to come by convoy -- the beans, the bullets, the band-aids, the fuel. Everything that made a military run depended on that route being secure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But on Sunday, March 23, it became evident the supply route was not secure.

VINCI: I remember, as we approached the outskirts of Nasiriya, seeing several army trucks engulfed in flames. We saw their windshield riddled with bullets, their tires all flattened by the bullets, by the fire.

I said, my goodness. This must have been a really intense battle. And then, in a matter of minutes, we learned that that was a U.S. military convoy that had come under attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company appeared on Arab TV as prisoners of war.

RUMSFELD: The coalition POWs that you are holding must be treated according to the Geneva Conventions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The women and men of the 507th were cooks, drivers and mechanics. And to see them in Iraqi captivity was a devastating blow to morale.

LISA ROSE WEAVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a real fear of becoming a POW and what that would entail.



WEAVER: Some people said, I'd kill myself before becoming a POW, particularly the women. The assumption was that they would be raped and that gang rape would be a part of it. And that it might be preferable to save a bullet for yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those soldiers of the 507th had taken a wrong turn.

WEAVER: It gave soldiers a sense of exactly how they were vulnerable in this war. They knew they weren't on the front line.

But ambushes, Iraqi military mixed in with civilian populations, what might be behind the wave from the side of the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was waving when the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines arrived at the outskirts of Nasiriya.

But things changed quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan was, everyone just go across the bridge and turn. Do not go through the center of the city, which had an area called "ambush alley."

VINCI: The other companies of the battalion were behind us. And especially one of the them, the Charlie company, instead of following us the way they're supposed to do, they lost sight of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They couldn't see us because of the buildings, so they thought we had gone on straight.

So they went on straight and ran into the jaws of the beast.

VINCI: We arrived there several hours later, and it was clear that something horrible had happened.

A company of U.S. Marines, more than 100 men, ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just by us going to the right instead of going straight, we're here. And those people that went straight, 18 of them aren't with us anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two wrong turns had led to the war's deadliest day for U.S. forces.

VINCI: The commander of our battalion made it a top priority to go back and recover those bodies.

And that's when I saw one of the most incredible scenes of that entire experience -- officers, digging with their bare hands the ground, picking up body parts of their fallen comrades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was war at its most visceral -- war that would soon start hitting home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was shocked. I couldn't believe it.

It was not like it was a lot of casualties. It was one. It was my husband. And it's like, why him? And you could see as they drove up -- what they were coming to tell (ph) me (ph).

And I didn't want to hear it, but I had the picture (ph) of (ph) him (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the desert, it seemed like nature was joining the fight.

SAVIDGE: We just called it the MO-ASS -- the Mother of All Sand Storms. And it really was. I mean, I had been in many sandstorms before. And this one was almost of Biblical proportions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many battlefield operations came to a grinding halt.

SAVIDGE: Despite all this talk of high tech gadgetry -- wizardry, smart bombs, computers -- nature had done what the Iraqi military couldn't. It stopped us. It stopped us dead.

VINCI: It was the first week of the war, and it wasn't going really well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a week that showed Iraqis would not follow the rules of war -- a week that changed the coalition mindset.

SOLDIER: I know we were kind of a (ph) little (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I mean, I just wanted to get up there, do what we got to do and get this over with.

VINCI: Everything changed very, very, very quickly.

I mean, you know, we went from, we do not expect to fight, to a big fight. To shooting everything that moved, because, obviously, it was very, very dangerous for them. And they felt that there was a lot of people there who wanted to kill them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Iraqis paid with blood to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A week into the war, these images were not playing well. News of civilian casualties dominated the airwaves in the Arab world.

Innocent blood spilled outside of Baghdad marketplace. Witnesses reported 15 dead.

Coalition planes had just completed an early-morning air raid with military targets less than 300 feet from homes. Instantly, the finger was pointed at the United States.

BRIG. GENERAL VINCENT BROOKS, U.S. ARMY: We don't know that those were ours. We can't say that we had anything to do with that at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. Central Command was still investigating the incident two days later when another explosion sounded in a residential area of Baghdad.

This time, reports put the casualty count much higher -- as many as 62 suspected dead, 49 more wounded.

Arab TV called it a massacre.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gush of patients was unstoppable. It was like an unstoppable flood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fawaz al Mufti (ph) was a physician treating casualties in Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They (ph) were (ph) all (ph) black days for Iraqis.

It hurts to see like a brother or a sister or a son slaughtered. And I mean that, like slaughtered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Death and destruction undercut the image of the coalition invasion as a force for good, an image further damaged by the wall-to-wall coverage of the Arab news channels.

FAWAZ GERGES, MIDDLE EAST SCHOLAR: The Arab audience got a dramatically different narrative from that of its American counterpart. That is what I call the clash of two narratives.

While the American media focused on the technologically advanced military apparatus, ...

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: ... the opposite. Ten percent are so-called "dumb" bombs, 90 percent precision.

GERGES: The Arab media focused on the destruction that this apparatus visited on Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): These are pictures that we have just received showing the aftermath of the U.S.-British strike to a popular market in al Shullah (ph) neighborhood.

GERGES: And the Arab media did not pretend to be neutral in this particular campaign. The Arab media tried to focus on the Iraqi narrative.

As Al Jazeera put it, we shall not allow Iraqi voices to be silent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After a full accounting of bombs dropped and targets hit, the U.S. Central Command denied any part in the first marketplace explosion.

BROOKS: There's absolutely nothing that joins that to coalition action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cause of the second blast remained unresolved. No official tally of Iraqi civilian casualties exists, but after the war's end, media surveys of Baghdad hospitals alone counted almost 2,000 civilian deaths.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, RET., U.S. ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They're totally regrettable, but they're low by historical standards.

When the Germans attacked Belgrade on the 6th of April, 1941, they began the attack with a bombing campaign. Seventeen thousand Yugoslavs were killed in the first night of the German bombing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But a new Iraqi tactic was about to make things worse.

Confronted with a superior military power, the Iraqis resorted to unconventional warfare. A suicide bomber in a taxi attacked a military checkpoint near Najaf. Four U.S. soldiers were killed.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The first suicide bombing was unanticipated. And the tragedy of it was, it required the United States military to change its tactics.

The U.S. had to take a very cautious approach about stopping vehicles before they reached checkpoints, making people get out of cars. And anybody who didn't follow the instructions and continued to proceed toward the checkpoint was essentially taken out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just two days after the suicide bombing, a vehicle packed with women and children was fired on after it ran a roadblock. Few survived.

The Arab world expressed rage over the growing number of civilian casualties. Even U.S. allies, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

HOSNI MUBARAK, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): When this war is over -- if it's over -- it'll have significant consequences. Terrorist activities will rise. The terrorist organizations will unite. And instead of having only one bin Laden, we'll have 100 bin Ladens.

GERGES: Probably it's an exaggeration on the part of Mubarak.

But my own judgment is that, by deepening the sense of victimization and defeat and humiliation on the part of the youth, this war is likely to make the youth a fertile ground for recruitment by militant causes like that of al Qaeda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, lying in a hospital bed, a potential poster child for their cause.

BELLINI: Twelve-year-old Ali Abbas. He heard planes flying overhead. Next thing he knew, members of his family were dead. He had no arms.

He woke up in a hospital where he was dying. His photo was taken to appear in magazines around the world.

Unbeknownst to him at the time, he was becoming a symbol of the suffering of civilians in this war.

Ali has gotten offers to be taken to the United States for treatment in an American hospital.

And his response to that was, these are the people who killed my family. I don't want to go there -- anywhere but there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The war was barely a week old, and a wind of uncertainty was blowing across the desert. Sand storms. Suicide bombings. Fedayeen attacks.

The coalition advance seemed to be slowing. It's war plan was being tested.

GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, COMMANDER, CENTRAL COMMAND: Its chief characteristic is flexibility, adaptability.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The war plan used by coalition forces in Iraq had been a work in progress for over a year.

The heart of the strategy -- a quick strike at the heart of the regime.

LT. GEN. DAVID MCKIERNAN, U.S. ARMY: Baghdad has always been the strategic, operational and, to some degree, tactical center of gravity for the regime of Saddam Hussein.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we move up Highway 6, still there is a wreck (ph).

CLARK: And the goal was to get to Baghdad, and at the same time, prevent the enemy from setting up a defense there.

It was to grip the Republic Guard, smash in and drive through to Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republic Guard, Almeda (ph) -- you're looking at the master (ph) -- was here ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How to achieve that goal was the subject of considerable pre-war debate.

CLARK: Should you go with a plan that has a reasonable chance of accomplishing the mission quickly, at a reasonable cost? Or should you go with a plan that does everything possible to minimize -- at least military risks -- even though it may increase diplomatic risks, take longer and cost more?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The center of that question was troop strength. In the first Gulf war, the coalition had an overwhelming number of forces. General Tommy Franks and other military planners reportedly wanted a similar force this time.

RUMSFELD: We're confident we can achieve our objectives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there were others -- most notably, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- who wanted a lighter, more agile force, ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One to four, six niner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... less man power, more use of special forces ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there. Boom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and precision bombing.

MCINTYRE: This war plan went through at least 20 different versions, I'm told. Things went in, things were taken out. More troops were put in, different troops, different mix of troops.

Timelines were worked out. And eventually, they settled on this plan that everybody was pretty much happy with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What emerged was a compromise -- 250,000 troops, but with an increased role for special forces and precision weaponry.

Fedayeen resistance would put the plan in question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I'm going in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Troops who had expected to be racing for Baghdad, ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I've got nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... suddenly found themselves with a different mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Double watch, double up -- watch out, watch out, watch out.

SAVIDGE: It went from a real war to guerrilla war in the span of two days. And when it did that, there was a lot of second guessing.

Oh, maybe we didn't send enough troops. Maybe we should have had an air campaign that went longer.

It was all this kind of questioning. And it wasn't just by the folks in the Pentagon. It wasn't just by the American public, but it came down to our unit.

Boy! This is not going the way we thought. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A concern soon echoed by a general. General William Wallace was quoted as saying, "the enemy we're fighting is a bit different from the one we had war gamed against."

The comment touched off a firestorm of debate.

BROOKS: The reality is, we have adequate force to do what we need to do. And we remain satisfied with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House got involved, trying to stem perceptions the plan was in trouble.

KING: They did realize that they had a perception problem. And one of their ways in dealing with it was to use the President.

The President, on the first Saturday, went out of his way to make sure that they leaked, that he told Secretary Rumsfeld during a meeting, don't worry. Just full speed ahead.

BUSH: The Iraqi regime will be ended ...

KING: And in a White House that doesn't -- says it doesn't like leaks, they deliberately leaked that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind the scenes, military planners were debating whether to change the strategy and turn the focus toward the Fedayeen in the south.

MCINTYRE: There was a big debate at that point whether they ought to pause and bring in more troops, and take a more cautious approach. Or whether they ought to stick to their plan, which was a little more bold and audacious, and continue to push toward Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Surface to air ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But despite the debate and the media hand- wringing, the facts on the ground showed a war that was going far better than people thought.

BROOKS: There's a different view down on planet Earth, if you will, as we describe it, the closer you get to the line.


MCINTYRE: They were controlling a fairly sizable amount of Iraq in a very short time. And they were looking at it, the big picture and thinking things were going pretty well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The result -- extra troops were deployed to help secure the supply lines. But the main goal -- the push to Baghdad -- did not change. If anything, the troops were more determined than ever.

BELLINI: Just before going to Nasiriya, the Marines from my company got a pep talk from the commander. He told them, here's what's going to happen. This war is changing. We're going to be doing door-to-door fighting. And it's going to be ugly.

What he meant by that was, all these attacks that have been coming from out of the woodwork, all of these ambushes, we are not going to hold back any more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A storm had been weathered. The tide had begun to turn. Baghdad lay just ahead.

Coming up next week on CNN PRESENTS, THE ROAD TO BAGHDAD enters the red zone with exclusive video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys just seem to be everywhere. There was this feeling that, well, we need to fire at them with everything we've got.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the doorstep to the fall of Baghdad. From Saddam's grim legacy, ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... to the daunting fight for the future.

Fear, uncertainty, liberation and hope, as THE ROAD TO BAGHDAD continues, next week on CNN PRESENTS.



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