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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

New 'Saddam' Tape Surfaces

Aired July 29, 2003 - 20:26   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: A new tape could be an attempt by Saddam to thumb his nose at the U.S. Officials say they are closing in on him. One week after his sons were killed, Saddam Hussein may be making news once again in this new audiotape said to be from Saddam.
It has already aired on Arabic national television. The tape mourns the death of Uday and Qusay and makes several timely references, including where the sons died and how long they fought U.S. forces.

Let's listen to it together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If Saddam Hussein had the option to sacrifice other sons other than Uday and Qusay, Saddam Hussein would have sacrificed them the same honorable way. It is a our duty. It's a duty on every believer. Our freedom and patriotism call upon every believer to sacrifice himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Well, my next guest has some very strong ideas about what Saddam may be up to.

Joseph Wilson is the former ambassador to Iraq, in fact, the last American diplomat to meet face-to-face with Saddam Hussein. He joins us live from Washington.

Always good to see you, Joe.

First of all, when you hear the excerpts you've heard so far of Saddam, what do you think he's up to?

JOSEPH WILSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: Well, first of all, it seems to me that this is a very effective confirmation of the deaths of Uday and Qusay, probably far effective than the parading of the bodies or the pictures of the bodies. After all, you have the father confirming their deaths.

Second, I think he's trying to reassure his followers that he's still alive and that he's still rebelling and trying to confront this -- the occupation. It will be interesting to see if, in fact, the U.S. really is closing in on him. I wouldn't be surprised. It looks to me like some of the cells surrounding him and protecting him may be breaking down.

ZAHN: Do you have reason to believe these tapes are the real thing?

WILSON: I have no reason not to believe it. But, obviously, the people who do this for a living will be able to tell us in a day or so, once they've matched the voiceprints.

ZAHN: Let's talk about how you have reason to believe -- it's interesting you think that maybe the bodyguards that immediately surround him are beginning to cave in. Do you think it's just a matter of time before he's either captured or killed?

WILSON: Well, I wonder why Qusay and Uday found themselves up in Mosul. Mosul would not necessarily be the place that they would find a safe house.

So it strikes me that either they were flushed from a previous hiding place or else they were so confident that they really just gave up some basic security. Now you've got Saddam in a position where he's either been flushed or he has been forced to go back to ground. And if he's been flushed and if he's running around every two hours, as they say, then, presumably, he's just a couple of steps ahead of the coalition forces.

That said, I've always thought that his best chance of survival was going back into the neighborhoods in Baghdad where he has the most fanatical supporters. Baghdad is a very large city. It's as big as Los Angeles and as spread out. And some of those neighborhoods are pretty much impenetrable to American forces, certainly American forces in a clandestine way. Any American movement in some of these neighborhoods would be well-telegraphed ahead of time.

ZAHN: There are so many new developments to talk about tonight. I don't know whether you just heard the tail of my interview with Peter Bergen. But he was saying his great concern now is that you're beginning to see an influx of al Qaeda coming in to Iraq from Syria. He always felt that those connections were tenuous before the war. And now he feels this is going to be a huge problem for the U.S. government. Do you agree?

WILSON: Well, I'm not sure that an influx of al Qaeda into Iraq is going to be a huge problem. And I'm not exactly sure -- that's a theory that's being floated that's a flypaper theory, that you have Americans there and, suddenly, all the terrorists of the world will float to Iraq to take on Americans.

But even without the al Qaeda -- potential al Qaeda recruits coming in to Iraq, you now have 150,000 Americans in a hostile territory and you're going to be seeing an indigenous resistance that I think actually will grow and will not abate even if Saddam is caught and captured and killed -- or killed.

ZAHN: Can we move on to Saudi Arabia now and the much-debated 28 pages that the America public will not get to see from this 9/11 report. There's a report tonight that the White House is asking the Saudi foreign minister for permission to interrogate a Saudi businessman who is believed to have had a very close connection to two of the Saudi hijackers on 9/11. What do you think this means? WILSON: Well, I think the fact that the Saudis came over if this all be declassified shows the depth of their concern that they're being unfairly maligned. The Saudis and the Democrats seem to be on the same page on this, that they want Americans to see everything.

There is a legitimate concern, it seems to me, on the part of the administration to protect sources and methods. Nobody likes to see sources and methods exposed. It undermines our ability to gather intelligence and analyze intelligence. And equally, I think, there's a legitimate case to be made that you don't publicize ongoing investigations for fear of impeding or bringing them to a successful conclusion.

I frankly don't know what the right balance and, of course, I've not seen those 28 redacted page.

ZAHN: I want to close with the subject of Liberia. The warfare there has killed about 6 percent of the population. Today the rebels declared and saw rejected yet another call for a truce. I was with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage yesterday, who had this to say about what may be in store for the United States. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We're not interested in staying in the long run. We're interested in stabilizing the situation and, in the main, letting West African states and the United Nations ultimately take care of a very troubled country of Liberia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: What do you think is the appropriate obligation? Or do you believe there is an obligation of the United States to Liberia right now?

WILSON: I think there is an obligation. We have a special relationship with Liberia. There are a number of other countries in turmoil in Africa where there are other European nations in lead roles, peacekeeping roles, notably the French in the Congo and Coite D'Ivorie and the British in Sierra Leone.

We have had a long, historic as well as economic footprint in Liberia. It makes sense for us to be the catalyst around which a peacekeeping operation or peace enforcement operation comes together. I'm sorry, frankly, that we gave Charles Taylor the with hand (ph) by basically saying that we weren't going to do anything until he got out of the country. I think we would have been more effective had we said, "You better be out of the country when we get there, or you'll be in the dock in the Hague."

ZAHN: We are going to have it leave it there on that note. Thanks for covering so much territory for us this evening. Always good to see you, Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

WILSON: Paula, nice to see you. ZAHN: My pleasure.

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