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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Saddam Captured: Bush to Address Nation

Aired December 14, 2003 - 10:06   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Wolf.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you. And good morning again, everyone. Good morning. Good to see you.

ZAHN: Thank you.

BROWN: And we suspect many of you around the country are now waking up to the news a little bit past 10:00 in the morning here in the East, 7:00 out West. And it is a day for history. The search for Saddam Hussein is over.

Here's what we know at this hour. After nine months on the run, the former Iraqi dictator is in the hands of the coalition. He was nabbed by troops of the 4th Infantry Division without a shot being fired.

About 600 American soldiers went out in this operation. They tore out of their base, according to our correspondent who was in Tikrit at the time, and they came back with this: this man, this look, a picture that will grace the front page, I dare say, of every newspaper not just in this country, but around the world.

A Saddam Hussein with long, dirty hair, a gray beard being examined by a military medic. A tongue depressor in his mouth. Search for lice.

He was found in this hole in a farmhouse near Tikrit not far from his hometown, discovered hiding in a hole in the cellar of that farmhouse just south of Tikrit. The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq described Hussein at his capture as a "tired man who was resigned to his fate."

Coalition forces say the capture came after months of intelligence gathering. We are now looking at exclusive CNN pictures of U.S. forces returning from that mission. These are soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division based in Tikrit. This troubled and dangerous part of the country, an operation they called Red Dawn.

The president has been notified, Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has spoken. The world is starting to react to what is a one-headline day: Saddam Captured.

ZAHN: Well, this development this morning, Aaron, obviously taking a critical load off of President Bush, at least for a day or two politically. But of course, the key question at his hour is whether the capture of Saddam will in the near term actually dilute the insurgency movement or in fact inspire more violence.

Will they stand and fight? Will they rule by fear? Or will they fade into the background?

A number of experts I talked with this morning suggest that while the Sunnis and Baathists express very little loyalty to Saddam Hussein, they seem determined to hang on to their last threads of power.

Let's go to Jane Arraf, our bureau chief in Baghdad, to see what kind of analysis she's hearing from there.

Jane, good morning.

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Paula, it seems clear that even though Saddam is caught, this isn't over yet. And there are a couple of things that exemplify that.

We spoke just a bit earlier to the police chief of Baghdad, and you could not have had a more dramatic, tragic, joyous day for this man. This morning, perhaps 20 police officers were killed in a suicide bombing outside of Baghdad at a police station. This afternoon, Saddam caught.

He said his police officers will take the capture of Saddam Hussein to heart as a reason to keep doing this job, but it's an indication that there are forces here at work that are likely independent of Saddam. And a lot of Iraqis, although joyous at the fact that he has been captured, and captured in that manner, particularly, really fear what lies ahead -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jane, let's come back to the point you just made about some of these forces independent of Saddam. Is it any clearer at this hour how much of the insurgency movement at all was controlled or in any way influenced by Saddam Hussein?

ARRAF: We have always been told that he did not play a direct role in controlling the insurgency. Certainly he would have inspired some of it. And what will be interesting is to see whether others who may have had a more direct role, who were being sought by the coalition, will in fact turn themselves in or will manage to be caught due to intelligence that they get from Saddam or other people.

One of the people who is thought to play a more direct role is his right-hand man, Izzat Ibrahim Al-Duri, who is still at large. They are hunting for him extensively. And he is thought to have orchestrated attacks in the north. Saddam himself, clearly he has been in deep hiding. Does not appear to have had that direct hands-on approach that perhaps others have had -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jane, let's talk about the Iraqi people for a moment. There has been a very strong belief that the reason why the perception is so wide held there that Americans are in fact occupiers and not liberators was the fact that Saddam Hussein was believed to be alive. What will the impact of his capture have on general public opinion? ARRAF: It's a very complicated thing in Iraq, public opinion. For so long, really, they couldn't express their opinions. And now the opinions we hear expressed routinely. Some of them are astonishing.

Now, some people will still continue to believe that this has all been set up, that that was not in fact Saddam. But perhaps fewer than expected, because the impact of that video, the fact that people could, through whatever means, actually see this man who clearly looks like Saddam Hussein, seems to have convinced a lot of them that this really did happen. That he is perhaps gone for good, and even better, he'll be coming back to face trial -- Paula.

ZAHN: And, Jane, you, more than anybody, have been exposed to the wave of emotions, as we've seen our nation go to war with Iraq. And today, I'm wondering if you could take us back to the moment when the Iraqi people for the first time were being made aware of this capture of Saddam Hussein.

ARRAF: When it first came out, Paula -- and it was just a few hours ago -- it started as rumor the way these thing do, and then gradually established a little more veracity to the point where some people were willing to believe that perhaps he was caught. But it wasn't really even, I don't believe, the fact that L. Paul Bremer and General Sanchez came out and said, "We've got him." It really was the moment that they saw that image.

And there were gasps that went up from Iraqis. Gasps, that a man who was larger than life, who liked to believe himself the descendant of Babylonian kings and Islamic conquerors, was in that condition, looking like an absolute wild man, looking like he had clearly been in hiding, looking defeated. Someone who had been larger than life clearly very, very human -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jane Arraf, thanks so much for that update. We'll be checking in with you throughout the morning -- Aaron.

BROWN: Hard to look larger than life when they're looking for lice in your hair and all the rest.

We're talking a lot about reaction. Imagine the reaction, by the way, of Osama bin Laden, hiding out somewhere in the Pakistan, Afghanistan border area when he heard the news.

ZAHN: Can't be too happy about that if he's alive.

BROWN: You can't. We're getting bits and pieces of the president's reaction to the news. It unfolded for him across two days starting -- I guess, Dana Bash, mid-afternoon yesterday he started to get some word of this. And then early this morning got the closer that Saddam had been in fact captured.

Dana Bash is at the White house this morning -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Aaron. It was yesterday at about 3:15 p.m., that early in the afternoon, that President Bush got the call from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

At that point, the president was at Camp David. And according to the White House, the defense secretary started the conversation by saying, well, Mr. President, reports aren't always accurate initially. To which the president quickly responded, it sounds like I'm going to have good news coming. And then of course, the defense secretary said they did believe that they had Saddam Hussein in custody, but that they were just trying to confirm it at that time.

And the president responded, well, that is good news. And at that point, the defense secretary said that he'd gotten the call from General Abizaid about the raid, and the two of them discussed the fact that they wanted to be cautious because they said it could very well be an impostor and not Saddam Hussein.

And they also discussed at that early moment that, when they do confirm that Saddam Hussein was in U.S. custody, that it should be announced from the theater and not from the White House, not from the Pentagon, but from Iraq. And that is exactly what we saw this morning with Paul Bremer and others at that press conference in Iraq.

But as you said, Aaron, it was not until this morning at about 5:00 in the morning that Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser, got the final word from Paul Bremer from Iraq that it was in fact Saddam Hussein. And then at about 5:14 a.m. Condoleezza Rice called the president, who was back here at the White House this morning in the residence to tell him that it was in fact Saddam Hussein that they captured.

And then he did in fact watch the press conference that Paul Bremer had in Iraq with the first lady from the residence. He is said to have been certainly elated by the reaction from the Iraqi journalists in the room who were applauding when they heard the news that Saddam Hussein was captured and when they saw the images that you were just talking about.

And this morning, Aaron, the president has been working the phones. He has been talking to world leaders. We know he's spoken with Tony Blair, the British prime minister, with Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, and is expected to call other of his allies in the effort against Saddam Hussein.

He's also been making calls to Capitol Hill, in and around his own cabinet. And we are, of course, going to hear from the president later today at about 12:00 noon Eastern, and he is likely to say what his spokesman said to us earlier, which is that he believes this is very good news for the Iraqi people and that Saddam Hussein was brutally oppressive. And that most importantly, from the White House's perspective, the president believes that the Iraqi people can finally be assured that Saddam Hussein will not be coming back, and now they can see it for themselves -- Aaron.

BROWN: It's actually an interesting moment in the human reaction here from the president. You would want to almost do a high-five. It's that sort of day. On the other hand, it's an important message, and it's clearly a coordinated message that is going out. We heard it from Mr. Bremer earlier. We heard it from Tony Blair. Which is that this can be seen, in the American view, and the coalition view, as a moment of reconciliation, Dana, that this is an opportunity for those who supported Saddam to lay down their arms. I would expect to hear something similar from the president in a couple of hours from now.

BASH: Absolutely. And that is -- we got a taste of that from his spokesman, Scott McClellan, this morning.

The key for this White House, they absolutely know that this is one of those moments, as you said, that they feel that they can capture and really harness the feeling that we haven't seen -- the images that we haven't seen for quite some time on the streets of Iraq. And that is people dancing in the streets, people excited.

Unclear at this point, as we've been talking about all morning, how wide spread this is across the country. But just the fact that those are images that are coming from Iraq, not only to the people in Iraq, not only to -- across the world, but also for the president here in America, back home, important politically for him that the American people see those images quite different from the images that they have been seeing really since the president declared major combat over with the "Mission Accomplished" sign behind him on May 1.

The images that they've been seeing much to the chagrin of this White House has been the escalating violence. So this is something that the White House certainly understands, that they'll try to capture, try to harness. And, as you said, that will very much be a message from the president to the Iraqi people that now is the time that they need to understand it's time to move on and create their own government with the help of the U.S.

BROWN: Dana, thank you very much. It's a -- I think you'll hear, Paula, understandably, that this is not some great American victory. I think what you'll hear from the president today, as we heard from Mr. Blair, that this is a great Iraqi moment.

ZAHN: The one thing that I learned shortly before I came on the air from a White House source, they are very much concerned about any perception of gloating.

BROWN: Right.

ZAHN: And there is this understanding of a sort of unwritten memo going around that this is not the time to behave that way.

BROWN: Because, as you know, in the context of what's going on there, it is very important for the Iraqis not to feel humiliated. To feel that they have some control over their lives, over their country. That this is -- and you'll hear this, you heard it from Mr. Blair, you'll hear it, I'm almost certain, from the president -- this is an Iraqi victory. That is the message that they want out.

Now, are they celebrating in the White House? You bet they're celebrating in the White House. Is the 4th I.D. having a very good day? You bet it is. But it's not the kind of victory lap, high- fiving that you might want to do, that your heart might tell you to do, as these images are displayed around the world.

And they are being displayed around the world, across Arab media today. And what they must think in the Arab capitals, across Europe, where obviously support for the war was in many quarters nonexistent. And across the country now, an American population pretty much from the East Coast to the west that is awake on this Sunday morning, the 14th of December, to such extraordinary and surprising news.

ZAHN: And yet I am quite surprised by the lack of filter on congressional members today, because they felt quite free to express that this historic development represents a fresh start. And in the words of Joe Biden, "the opportunity to get it right in the second stage."

As you were talking, Aaron, I've continued to be fixated on the pictures of the right hand part of the screen. You, about 10 seconds ago, actually saw a picture of a DNA test being conducted at a time when Saddam Hussein was first examined. We are not being told exactly when we'll have results back from those tests, but let's check in with Dr. Sanjay Gupta now in Atlanta to give us a better idea of what kind of process has to be gone through medically before, in fact, anybody confirm this is indeed Saddam Hussein.

Sanjay, good morning.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Paula.

Yes. First of all, it's a very methodical sort of approach to something like this. First, obviously, just looking at the person and trying to see if they look like the pictures or the likeness of Saddam Hussein, the mannerisms, the voice, all those sort of things. Those are always done first before you progress to any kind of scientific testing, which is obviously a part of things here as well.

Now, DNA testing, or identity testing, which is probably the better term for it, actually involves a couple of steps. Collecting DNA from the person in question and comparing that to the DNA of what you know to be Saddam Hussein. In this sort of situation, breakdowns can occur at any one of those particular places.

For example, if the DNA that was collected before was not in fact Saddam Hussein's, or the DNA that you're collecting now does not match, you may have some troubles there. But if all things are in place, you have the DNA of Saddam Hussein, and you're comparing it to this, that should be about 99.9 percent effective. That is a number that is thrown around. It usually takes about 10 hours to do that sort of thing.

Paula, basically what DNA testing is, is it's -- people think of it as a rather complicated process, but basically everyone in their genome has certain repeats in their DNA. Meaning you can find certain DNA fingerprints, and everyone has a unique one. If you can match those repeats or DNA fingerprints, you pretty much have a match in terms of who the person is -- Paula. ZAHN: And although we haven't gotten a real good synthesis of exactly what took place, just based on what you've seen in this video so far, besides the obvious of searching for lice and examining his mouth, what did you see?

GUPTA: Yes, it's interesting, because I think that, again, it's very methodical. You searched for the general health of somebody. I actually saw pictures of Saddam actually pointing to either one of his cheeks. I don't know if he was being asked if he had pain there or something like that. He was nodding as the doctor was examining him.

They look inside the mouth for any sort of ulcerations. There's also probably a time when they take some cheek swab for some DNA testing down the line as well. They examine the hair for things like lice, that may give an indication of just how, what sort of living conditions he'd been in over the past several weeks.

Interestingly as well, and this is something I talked to some of the doctors about when I was out in the desert, situations like this, as well, you collect some of this evidence to see if there's been any evidence that the hair or the skin or the skin or anything has been exposed to biological or chemical weapons. That gives you an idea if the person has been in proximity to those sorts of things as well.

So this goes beyond sort of a standard conventional medical investigation here. You are looking for all sorts of different things here.

You may look at how long has hair has grown since the last time he was seen without a beard. Why? That may give you a sense of how long he's been living in a hole. All sorts of things.

But again, it's very methodical. You approach these things without sort of jumping to any conclusions before you collect the evidence and confirm it. Some of that evidence can come back quickly, within hours -- Paula.

ZAHN: Sanjay, I think we were actually on duty together when his sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed. And of course they had the investigators deal with the skepticism of the Iraqi public that in fact they weren't dead. I'm just curious, even once these DNA results are confirmed, and if they show the man captured today was Saddam Hussein, just how suspect the results will be.

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting. And DNA testing has probably gotten a bad rap in so many different ways because some of the high-profile lawsuits that have give it that. But ultimately, if DNA is conducted, if identity testing is conducted with DNA, it is pretty accurate.

The breakdowns occur. If someone can't confirm, for example, that the DNA that you're comparing it to was in fact Saddam Hussein's, how do you justify the accuracy and veracity of that claim? That's where the breakdown sort of occurs.

Or, if somehow the sample that is taken from who is believed to be Saddam Hussein now is lost, misplaced, or somehow tampered with, that always calls into the degree of veracity. But I think that if in fact you confirm those two things, it's probably without question going to be Saddam Hussein -- Paula.

ZAHN: Sanjay Gupta, thanks for the update.

It might be interesting to note, while Saddam Hussein appeared to be cooperative, at least in that section of videotape, we've just learned from some reporters on the ground in Baghdad that when members of the Iraqi Governing Council actually went to meet with Saddam Hussein, they described him as, "not apologetic." They went on to say he was sarcastic and making a mockery of the Iraqi people -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, it is no accident. Wouldn't you have liked to have been there at that meeting, by the way, between whatever the future of Iraq is and whatever the past has been. It's no accident that the pictures you're seeing are the pictures you're seeing. That you have this very undignified Saddam Hussein. And while we wait for the DNA testing, it's hard to imagine the American government would carry this moment out the way it has unless it was 100 percent sure that the guy they have is Saddam Hussein.

In any case, how these pictures are being seen here in the states, in Iraq, across the Arab world, across Europe, must be -- well, it will be just a remarkable part of the story today.

James Woolsey is with us, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

It's good to see you on a day of historic importance. How do you think this will play across the Arab world? Will the Americans be celebrated for their accomplishment, or will we hear about the treatment of Saddam?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: I think we'll be respected. It's really quite fitting at the end of this incredible year, 2003, that Saddam is captured by American soldiers hiding in a hole, together with other rats. And I think we ought to play it that way.

Humiliation, not physical abuse or anything like that, but letting it be known that this was the way he was caught, humbled, not only captured, is I think an important part of all of this. And it will have an effect, also, on the Tikritis, other Tikritis and Ba'athist resistance.

There could still or will still be some attacks. There was a bloody one today, killing 20, as your report said, 20 police. But this is, if not the beginning of the end, this is at least the end of the beginning of getting rid of the Baathist resistance.

BROWN: Their motivation really hasn't changed very much from yesterday to today. A lot of reporting over weeks and months. Nobody was really pining much for Saddam Hussein. Nobody really much demanding that Saddam Hussein come back. So their concern has always been what piece of the pie did they get when the pie is baked again, and that hasn't changed. WOOLSEY: That's right. But the only way the Baathists and some -- many of the Tikritis get a piece of the pie is if they drive us out and can impose some kind of a reign of terror again. The ones that had prominent positions, the ones that are doing this are not going to be anything in a new Iraq. They'll be lucky if they're not prosecuted, and they will be prosecuted if they did anything terrible.

So I think that it is important for the sheiks, especially, the tribal leaders in the Sunni heartland, to realize that the Sunnis, as a whole, have a place, an important place in the new Iraq. And they'll be treated well and treated fairly. But not the remnants of the Baathists, and particularly the Tikritis who were very close to Saddam.

BROWN: Over in your old office, how do you think this news got there? Who took the call? Give me some sense of what it must have been like over in Langley when this news came.

WOOLSEY: I image what happened was, as soon as they got him, the military commanders called the CIA station chief, or whoever is the head of their operations there in Iraq. And he woke George Tenet up or called him immediately as soon as he could. I bet it was -- it would have been great to get that phone call.

BROWN: It would have been nice to get it. It wouldn't have been bad to place it.

WOOLSEY: Right.

BROWN: I mean, how would you like to be the one on the other end of the line that gets to say, "Boss, we got him," which is pretty much what Paul Bremer said when he addressed the Iraqis, the Americans, and the world about 7:30 Eastern Time, "We got him." And the room included -- Iraqi reporters broke out in applause.

Do you think that in the short term, Mr. Woolsey, that there will be an attempt to retaliate against the American side, the coalition?

WOOLSEY: Oh, sure. The remnants of the Baathists, Tikritis -- and I think augmented by al Qaeda and perhaps some Iranian-backed terrorists who are helping them and working with them, they'll do their best to have some kind of really painful last gasp here. And there will be still some bad days and weeks ahead, I'm afraid. But there were two wonderful comments in the press coverage you had just a few minutes ago of that governing council meeting.

One was that there some confusion about who was going to be asking a question, and one member of the governing council said let him speak. It's a free country. That's a great line.

And also, someone else was talking about Saddam's trial, and they described essentially that he'd been read his Miranda rights and he'll get counsel if he can't afford counsel for himself. Those are wonderful little vignettes of this remarkable day.

BROWN: The Iraqi version of Miranda reading. Thank you. Jim Woolsey in Washington, the former CIA director. His thoughts this morning.

I think Paula, it has been quite something for the last few hours.

ZAHN: The interpretation of those Miranda rights in Iraq could be a sliding scale, I think, at this hour.

We're going to recap now quickly for you some of the facts about the capture of Saddam Hussein. We know at this hour coalition forces are holding the former Iraqi leader in an undisclosed location.

He is said to be cooperative with them and is talking with coalition authorities. DNA tests are being conducted to confirm his identity.

That is what the news conference looked like when we started getting details in of his capture. This U.S. military videotape showed the bearded former dictator being examined. Iraqi journalists watching the tape shouted "death to Saddam."

It was a successful end for Operation Red Dawn, a late-night raid near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. It was a joint effort of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry and Special Forces.

They say they found the man who once lived in lavish palaces, hiding in a small home -- hole, that is, six to eight feet below the ground.

The key question at this hour, what does this mean for American foreign policy?

Let's turn to Christiane Amanpour in London.

The timing of this capture, Christiane, comes at a critical time when James Baker is about to meet with key allies to convince them to retire Iraqi debt. At the time, these same allies are being cut out of at the least the first stage of the big contracts in rebuilding Iraq.

What does today's capture mean to the U.S. relationships with those allies?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a really good question and it's a vital question, because what the U.S. manages to get in terms of help and allies, in terms of reconstruction for Iraq, is going to spell the difference between success and failure.

Because there's definitely, many, many people in Iraq including the U.S. there that believe they're way far behind on reconstruction and all those vital, vital issues that are necessary for the handover that's planned on July 1.

Now, just in terms of world reaction. Obviously, all the nations who are allied with the United States -- Australia, Spain, Italy, significantly Great Britain -- have hailed what happened today in unambiguous terms, calling it a great, historic moment that will help pave the way for further democratization.

It was Tony Blair's office who had no doubt, whether DNA tests were complete or not, that this was Saddam Hussein, and they issued the first confirmation of that and later Blair came out and faced the cameras and this is what he said about this day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Saddam is gone from power. He won't be coming back. That, the Iraqi people now know. And this it is they who will decide fate.

And in Iraq today, we work hard. The coalition forces from 30 different nations and Iraqis who love their country and who work hard with us to rebuild Iraq, to nurture its wealth for all its people, to bring prosperity and freedom to those people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Now, also President Chirac of France and Chancellor Schroeder of Germany, both of whom fiercely opposed the Iraq war, have also congratulated the capture of Saddam Hussein, sent messages to the president of the United States and congratulated him on the successful mission. Again, calling it a good omen for the future of Iraq.

But interestingly, the Polish prime minister as you know, Poland commands forces there, it was amongst the allies who helped with the war and a very strong U.S. ally in many, many different aspects, and forces are still there. The Polish leader said that, while today is a very important day, he warned that this is not the end of the story and that there could be retaliation.

And as we know, there was a car bomb in a part of Baghdad earlier today which killed 16 or so police officers and others. Well, we don't know whether that was in reaction to what happened today.

But the fact of the matter is and Blair alluded to it is that nobody quite knows right now what effect this will have on the insurgency.

When I was there a couple of weeks ago speaking to senior commanders and some of those who took part in today's or yesterday's capture, they were very clear that this insurgency, they said, had grown in sophistication and coordination and centralized our communication and fund raising and they were, you know, still not entirely sure who makes up the base of this insurgency.

Is it just Saddam loyalists? Is it people who are disaffected and not only don't want the U.S. there, but want to establish their own power? Is it a combination of so-called foreign fighters, who've come to have their chance at jihad or you know, fighting off Americans?

There's a lot of unanswered questions, and this will be the focus of the next several months, because upon that will rest the entire success or failure of this operation. So while today is a historic day, already as I say, we're hearing from world leaders that one should be vigilant. That this doesn't necessarily mean an immediate end to the insurgency.

ZAHN: Yes. It's interesting what you're saying Christiane, about this movement because Jane Arraf, in her last report she just filed from Iraq, said she some of the top Iraqi officials she had talked with within the police department were saying it was their impression that a fair number of these insurgents were operating independently of Saddam. They had no great loyalty to him.

And the big question was how badly do these people want to hang on to their last vestiges of power?

AMANPOUR: Well, that's absolutely right. And again, we focused -- I did, you know, a couple of weeks ago heavily on who are these people and what do they want and how good a grip does western intelligence have on who these people are?

And you know, they have some understanding and more so, they tell us, since they launched very, very strong counter offensives. There was Operation Iron Hammer and others around other sort of boiling areas: Tikrit, Ramadi, Fallujah, those kind of places.

And that, they said, flushed out a whole other level of people willing to come forward with intelligence, with tips, with, you know, help for the coalition forces. And they're relying on that to point them in the direction of the head of this insurgency, not just the body.

Because they believe that the people who are laying the roadside bombs, who are taking potshots and others are people who are being paid by the masterminds. It's sort of like a gang, mafia kind of operation, and they need to get to the heads of these insurgences.

And as I say, you know, one American soldier said to me, "Well, I don't know this week we're calling them former Saddam loyalists. We don't know what we'll call them tomorrow." And it exemplifies the lack of clear understanding of exactly who they're dealing with.

But they hope that by getting rid of Saddam, at least it will take away some of the moral, if you like, encouragement that his supporters, if there were any, you know, still fighting would have got and any kind of hope that Saddam Hussein was going to come back.

In addition, and this is vital, to this capture will have gone a long way towards reassuring the ordinary people Iraq who were getting increasingly disillusioned and polls showing, loosing faith in the Americans' ability to stay the course and deliver, not just democracy, but services and all of the kinds of things that they want for a normal life.

They felt that the insurgency was getting the better of the Americans' ability to deliver. So this will also go a long way to having a deep psychological impact on the people of Iraq. And, of course, again, you know, listening to what the governing counsel said about their meeting with Saddam Hussein, it's perhaps some of the fascinating details that we've heard all day, that he was tired and haggard but that he was defiant to the end.

That one of them said, you know, he called himself a just, but firm ruler and he described him, I think it was Pachachi, as "This is a man with a sick mind." He said psychiatrists are going to have to figure out just where -- you know, what this man was thinking for all these years of war and sanctions and more war and defying the west.

So for the Iraqi people, this is going to be a very significant moment.

ZAHN: Christiane Amanpour, thank you very much for your insights. We'll be getting back to you throughout the day -- Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you. Jane Arraf is our bureau chief in Baghdad, before the war and back again.

Jane, one quick question and then we'll get into all of the unknowables and knowables. Are you surprised he was taken alive?

ARRAF: Absolutely. The feeling really was, and was perhaps this was part of believing that myth that he drew around himself, that he would not go alive. And even more, that it would involve the same sort of firefight that lead to the arrest -- the deaths, rather, of his sons.

That was really a very dramatic thing. And really a lot of people believed that that will be exactly the same for the father, as the sons went, the father went, fighting back, being shot down, fighting to the end.

But that clearly was not a fighter that we saw. That was, as Iraqis describe him, someone who had given up, in fact, a coward -- Aaron.

BROWN: The -- Baghdad is an enormous city. It's a complicated city. There's a large population of Shias who live in squalor in many cases in Baghdad.

Can you tell how broad the celebration is across the Iraqi capital, a city of five million or so people?

ARRAF: Well, we can certainly hear the gunfire coming from a lot of points across the city, and in talking to the police chief and some of the police officers with him earlier, it does appear to be quite widespread.

Now, some of these scenes you've been seeing, dancing in the streets, that joyous celebration. That's kind of a tip of what I assume would be an iceberg of people more quietly celebrating at home. Now, people are still afraid.

There is gunfire in the streets and not only that, if anyone wanted to launch an attack, this is perhaps a perfect cover. Right now around this hotel, which is very heavily guarded, there are soldiers on alert, looking out as gunfire keeps erupting, and they don't know where it's coming from and whether it's friendly or potentially hostile -- Aaron.

BROWN: How -- how widespread was the belief that he might, in fact, come back to power some day? I think for many Americans, this one, at least, that seemed pretty farfetched, but we didn't live through 30-plus years of his rule either.

ARRAF: When I first started covering Iraq in the early '90s it was absolutely staggering the belief that people had in his invincibility, to the point where some people really truly believed, and still believe, that he had supernatural powers.

Otherwise, they said ,how could he have survived all of this? The wrath of the United States, of Britain.

And when you look at it, ultimately it took more than a decade to get to the point where war was launched to unseat him. So people really did have a tremendous belief that he might be hiding and might be coming back. And, if he weren't coming back, that he was still inspiring in some sense these attacks.

And you'll remember these audiotapes, the messages that he has come out with on occasion, believed to be him. That was definitely his voice and definitely instilled fear in the hearts of many Iraqis.

It is, as you say, incredibly difficult to wipe away three decades of that kind of grip he had on his country -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jane, thank you. Jane Arraf, who's our bureau chief in Baghdad.

I think Americans, Paula, probably saw Saddam as one more tin horn dictator in the world filled with a fair number of them, but to the Iraqis he was, love him or hate him, he was something quite different. Quite enormous in his power for good and for evil.

ZAHN: We talked to a number of guests on our show, I'm sure as you have over the last couple of months, who expressed that while he didn't view the United States as occupiers, they weren't allowed to express that publicly, because they did have this internal fear that some day he would be back.

There has been a lot of talk, Aaron, over the last six months on so over how effectively the Bush administration controls the message and keeps a lid on the news.

We are just learning this hour at what point President Bush learned of the possible capture of Saddam Hussein. That came at 3:15 Saturday afternoon Eastern time when Secretary Rumsfeld placed a call to him at Camp David, the secretary making it clear to him that sometimes initial information isn't true. The president basically telling him, "All right, that sounds like it's pretty good news."

Rumsfeld, according to our CNN reporter said, "We are fairly confident we have captured Saddam Hussein."

Let's turn to Tori Clarke, who served as the press spokesperson for Donald Rumsfeld up until very recently, when she became a CNN analyst, to walk us through this timeline.

Here we are, you know, a little less than 12 hours later just learning about this for the first time. Walk us through the process of what would have happened next then?

VICTORIA CLARKE, FORMER PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: Well, I was smiling when I was listening to you talk because it's just classic Secretary Rumsfeld, always to be extraordinarily cautious and say we want to be and need to be absolutely precise when he was giving the news to the president. So that was classic Secretary Rumsfeld.

And the process is a very careful and very frequent coordination and communication among all of the key players. The military forces on the ground in Iraq and Paul Bremer, of course, and then with the White House, the NSC, the CIA, et cetera. There's just an extraordinary deliberate and consistent process that they go through to make sure they're absolutely certain.

So that -- It's not very exciting, but it is what happens.

ZAHN: I guess after that call, the second call was made to the president and General Abizaid was called and then the president -- it was to confirm -- reconfirm by Secretary Rumsfeld that he said that the information looked good. And then at that point the vice president and the national security adviser were brought into the picture.

Let's talk a little bit about the intelligence that the U.S. military has relied on over the last year or so. There has been a tremendous amount of criticism, particularly of the human intelligence that the Bush administration had access to.

Does this capture today represent a vindication for the administration?

CLARKE: Well, I'm not going to use words like vindication, but think about what we've heard over the last few weeks, the last couple of months, from people on the ground like General Sanchez and General Odierno, and they said we're increasingly pleased with the amount of information, intel, we're getting from the Iraq people.

I heard a couple who said we almost couldn't handle the number of walk-ins. People were increasingly feeling it was important to come forward with information.

And it was that, which is a positive trend on the rise, coupled with better and better information coming out of those they had already captured, and they put it together, some very, very good analysis. And then, as I said earlier, the military was ready to move very, very quickly. And you put that together.

So I don't know about vindication, but it clearly was a very, very important success for the intel community.

ZAHN: Tori, the administration has given us precious few details about exactly what happened at the time of capture. Have you been able to work that out with any of your former contacts at the Defense Department?

CLARKE: I've talked to a couple of people, and I'm sure more will come out as it goes forward. It's still a very critical time. Right now, the number one interrogation suspect is Saddam Hussein, and there's information they want from him, clearly.

Because you had about two-thirds of the top 55. There are still bad guys out there, the remnants of the Baathist regime. You want to get them. So they'll be very careful about what information they do put out, because they want maximum pressure on him and on the others.

One of the things that I think will be most interesting is they have been interrogating so many people from his regime over the last few months, and they can now go back to them and say, "OK, were you completely straight with us? We have some new information from the big guy. Were you completely straight with us?"

So I think the amount of information intel you get from this capture will be pretty significant.

ZAHN: And you know, Tori, that this is going to have a tremendous impact on troop morale, when you learn that some 600 U.S. troops from the 4th Infantry Division were involved along with Special Forces.

What will be the impact? Particularly at a time when family members, some back home here, have been highly critical of the vulnerability of their loved ones in Iraq?

CLARKE: It's a good question, and think about families for a minute.

One of the first things I was struck by, when I heard the news, was the thousands and thousands and thousands of Iraqi families whose loved once were killed and tortured by Saddam Hussein, and what an incredible moment this must be for them.

And then you think about our soldiers and sailors and airmen who have been doing such an amazing job. This will be a good morale boost for them, but I absolutely promise you, they know what we've been hearing from some of the people this morning.

It's an important victory. Long, tough road ahead. There will be bad days. There will be good days and I think what you'll see is they will be leaning aggressively forward and will be just as aggressive going forward as they have been over the last several weeks.

ZAHN: Tori Clarke, thanks so much for the information.

CLARKE: Thanks, Paula. ZAHN: Good to see you. I think that's a point we've heard, Aaron. Bad days and good days. At this point I've heard no consensus on whether the capture of Saddam in the near-term will lead to increased violence against American troops or decreased violence.

BROWN: No, but I think we can fairly say it's a good day.

ZAHN: It's a start.

BROWN: We'll see how it plays out.

ZAHN: A big day.

BROWN: I can't -- I was listening to that, I can't help but wondering if the 600 soldiers knew what the mission was. Did they know where they were going, what they were going to get? We may get that detail.

The general who lead the operation, Major General Raymond Odierno, is expected to brief reporters in Iraq shortly. And we are waiting on that.

And as we wait on that we turn to Ken Pollack, who is, for a long time now, months and month, Ken, been helping us understand the situation before the war. And just last week we talked for a couple of hours about your visit there.

Do you have a feel for how this changes the game on the ground there? Or is the issue still to most Iraqis, give me a safe place to live, give me electricity 20 hours, 24 hours a day. Give me a job.

Those issues haven't changed, and are those the issues that are going to drive events in Iraq more than Saddam's capture?

KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: Absolutely, Aaron.

Let me start by saying that you can see it on the streets. There are a lot of Iraqis who are very happy about this. And I think that, as Jane Arraf pointed out in her last interview with you, there are probably a lot more who are happy privately.

But the simple fact of the matter is that, as big a bounce as we're going to get from this, and there are going to be Iraqis who are probably going to be happy for at least a few days.

At some point -- maybe it's tomorrow, maybe it's a few days from tomorrow, maybe it's next week -- those Iraqis are going to wake up and they're going to be confronted with the same problems: my wife, my daughters, they can't go out at night. I have to take a gun with me to work to be safe. I can't get benzene. I can't get all kinds of other essentials to heat my home. I can't get the electricity I need for 24 hour a day coverage. When is this situation going to change, and when am I going to get back my job? When am I going to be able to support my family?

These are absolutely the critical issues, and while this was a necessary element of the reconstruction of Iraq, getting Saddam off the streets, it is not sufficient. And we've really got to grapple with those deeper issues to make a bigger dent.

BROWN: A parallel to all of this, an Iraqi police station was attacked today. Ken, do you think that if you're the police chief anointed by the Americans, do you feel safer today because of the events? Because you've certainly been a target up to this point.

POLLACK: Well, I think that if you are that police chief, you're probably hoping that you're safer afterwards.

As you point out, one of the other big problems out there for so many Iraqis have been the attacks by those who oppose the U.S. presence. They are trying deliberately to go after any Iraqi who cooperates with the reconstruction, because they don't want to see it succeed.

And I think that those who have been cooperating are probably hoping that Saddam's death will cause at least a decrease, that many of Saddam's followers will give up the fight. They'll go home. They'll lose heart. Maybe they'll just lose the paycheck that has been causing them to keep up these attacks.

And that might make it easier for these very brave Iraqis who are standing up for the reconstruction to actually do the jobs they all want to do.

BROWN: Just Ken, while you're talking our viewers are also looking at pictures on the right side of the screen, and they may be wondering what those pictures are. Those are members of the 4th Infantry Division.

They had at the moment we took these pictures. just come back from this mission. Our correspondent said it was clear they had gotten something. He said there were lots of soldiers taking pictures of one another, lots of high fives.

And that's the something that they got. A bedraggled, undignified-looking Saddam Hussein, one of the great despots of the last 20th Century.

What do you think, you know, the South Africans, after the fall of apartheid, made a judgment about the kind of reconciliation that they wanted. Do you -- which essentially was a peaceful reconciliation.

Would you expect the Iraqis to be as generous to the former Baathists as perhaps the black South Africans were to the white leaders there?

POLLACK: Well, that's a really interesting question, Aaron. You know, what I've observed about all of these different kind of truth and reconciliation processes after the fall of different despots is that they're all culturally unique. They really reflect their culture. What any Arab, what any Iraqi will tell you, is that Iraq has been a violent culture for the last hundred years and arguably well before that. There are a lot of Iraqis who have tremendous amounts of bad feelings toward Saddam Hussein. And I think that if you let Saddam Hussein loose on a street in Baghdad, he'd probably be torn limb from limb.

But this really is the key for the United States, is that we have to help Iraqis to create a broader process. It's not just about Saddam Hussein. It's about coming to grips with the past.

There are a lot of Iraqis who were complicit to one degree or another with various of Saddam's crimes. If you were to take every single one of those people out and shoot them, you'd be depopulating that country by a significant degree.

So the question is, how do we help the Iraqis come to grips with this, set up a process to determine who truly is guilty and should be punished. And obviously, Saddam is at the top of that list, but who else throughout the society so we don't wind up taking every talented Iraqi.

And we should remember that in Saddam's Iraq you pretty much had to be a member of the Baath Party to get anywhere. You wanted to be a head of a hospital, you had to be a Baathist. You wanted to be the head of a lawyer's union, you had to be a Baathist.

We don't want the Iraqis destroying their own society, killing all of the most talented people.

BROWN: Ken, thank you. We'll get back to you as this historic Sunday moves along. Ken Pollack, who has been with us so much during the buildup to this and during the occupation, as well. He's with us in Washington.

We are getting now some new pictures from the region. I'm almost certain these are pictures shot by the Pentagon, but correct me if I'm wrong, you guys, if you know.

Go ahead and take it full here if you want. These are pictures of the area, the farmhouse that Saddam Hussein was found in.

This operation actually was focused on two houses, farmhouses. They went to both. At first search, they didn't find anything, but they were suspicious. And as our correspondent with the 4th I.D. said, when they left the base they tore out of there. So they obviously knew they were onto something.

And they come up on these farmhouses, and they searched them both and the first search turns up nothing. But their suspicions grow.

And then they find out, in fact, some short distance from the house itself, something that looks suspicious to them, and they start digging, almost literally digging. And inside they find the ace of spades, buried in a hole, we are told. All of this is outside of Tikrit, not in Tikrit itself. Tikrit, as we have said, perhaps a thousand times or more, the hometown of Saddam Hussein. The area is his tribal hometown. He has a tremendous number of loyalists there.

And in that nondescript-looking building, one of the truly evil people of this world in this half of the century, the last century, was found hiding.

ZAHN: About the only other details that the administration will confirm at this point, along with him in this raid were found two Kalashnikov rifles, a pistol, and orange and white taxi, $750,000 dollars in cash in $100 bills.

What we've been working very hard over the last couple of hours is to learn more, because about all we have been told is that 600 troops from the 4th Infantry Division participated in the raid along with Special Forces.

Let's turn to Barbara Starr now, who joins us from our Washington bureau, to share with us what else she learned about how this came down.

Good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Paul.

Well, we can now confirm that the Special Forces involved in this raid along with the 4th Infantry Division was a very specific unit known as Task Force 121. This is a group of Special Forces from all of the services that had been formed particularly to look for those so-called high-value targets. And in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, of course, was No. 1 on that list.

We don't know exactly, precisely, the role they played. But typically in these types of raids these Special Forces units go in, shall we say, the last ten yards. Get the target that they're looking for.

And indeed, as Aaron said, this was -- they actually located Saddam Hussein in what General Sanchez described as a spider hole, but we know a bit more about it.

Of course, we've seen the picture of that hole in the ground. Sources are now telling us that it basically was a trap door in a field, covered with brush, if you will. And when they opened it they found this underground little tiny cell, if you will. It was about two meters underground, three feet by three feet with that air vent, and that is where they pulled Saddam Hussein from.

Now the only other thing that we can tell you is we've asked a number of military and defense officials this morning here in Washington about whether or not this is a good day for Iraq. Are they jubilant about capturing Saddam Hussein?

And as you might expect, Paula, they're taking a very cautious note. One senior official saying, "Well, I wouldn't call it a good day. We're very happy about it, but I would call it a day."

What they are very cautious about at this point is where the insurgency, where the opposition in Iraq goes from here.

The feeling in the Pentagon at this point is they're not jubilant that the opposition is going to disappear any time soon. There had been very little indication of any national level command and control over the opposition, that Saddam Hussein himself was significantly pulling the strings, if you will, organizing these endless opposition attacks against U.S. forces.

So at this point they still feel they have a number of cells of opposition around the country that they are going to have to deal with. And very importantly, General Sanchez himself this morning said people should expect the possibility of more attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces in the weeks ahead, especially as Iraq begins to move towards that critical June 2004 deadline for transferring authority to self-governance in Iraq.

The feeling in the Pentagon, the feeling from senior military officials is there's still a very tough road ahead. Happy to have Saddam, but they're not overly jubilant at this point -- Paula.

ZAHN: Barbara Starr, thanks for the answers. Of course, every time she brings us new information, it raises more questions there and about this special task force 121. We can't confirm at this hour, definitely, what its involvement was in the raid. But I'm sure in the hours to come we will learn more.

BROWN: Well, we expect fairly shortly, and on days like this it's hard to know if fairly shortly is 30 seconds or 30 minutes, to be honest, a briefing by the major general, the Army major general who led this raid.

You saw just 10, 15 seconds ago the briefing room, and in front of the podium there was -- perhaps we can rerack (ph) this -- there was a stack of money, U.S. dollars. This is the room where the briefing will take place. There was this stack of money. It looked to me it was in some sort of trunk or container, in any case. And we presume this is the money, the 750,000 U.S. dollars that Saddam Hussein -- there it is -- was found with in $100 bills, along with a couple of guns, a couple of rifles, a handgun, a taxi, and two security people. That's it. This is a guy who, for 30 years, ruled one of the most important Muslim capitals, Islamic capitals in the world, and he is found in a hole with two security guards, a taxi, a couple of guns and three-quarters of a million dollars.

We'll get some further detail on that, we assume, when the major general briefs. How much detail, we'll find out. This is an important message. It's an important day, and you want to be careful if you're the army or if you're a diplomat, you want to be careful of the words you choose and the words you speak, because this is being heard by everyone, and lots of people have different agendas in moments of this.

Hoshyar Zebari is acting as the foreign minister for the Iraqi provisional government, and he is with us now, as well. Do you believe, sir, that your -- by and large, your countrymen and women will accept the news that Saddam Hussein has in fact, been captured?

HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: Yes, absolutely, Aaron. I think nobody is happier than the Iraqi people throughout the country from the north to the south. And this is a long, long night where that is over today, on the 13th of December. I think this is very good news, historic day for the Iraqi people, and it is a turning point in the future of our country. This will give us, in fact, the opportunity to look forward to the future, to rebuild this country. And also to embrace, to include everybody in the construction, political process of our country, to reach out to all those elements who had had some illusions that Saddam or his thugs might be coming back one day to power. But by seeing Saddam on television in such a bad shape, I think everybody would be convinced that this nightmare is over once and for all.

BROWN: Mr. Zebari, just stay with us here. We may have to interrupt you because we're waiting on a military briefing, but as we wait, do you believe that the -- well, let me ask it differently. How do you believe the insurgents will take the news of his capture? Will they see it as a sign of their own vulnerability, or will they see it as a time for desperate acts by desperate men?

ZEBARI: I think this would be -- I mean, the capture of Saddam would have a demoralizing effect on his supporters and loyalists, and I think that the number of attacks on coalition soldiers will be reduced dramatically. You may find some surge of these attacks as an act of revenge or frustration in the short term, but in the long term, I think they have lost and they have been defeated. I personally don't think that they will be able to go on or maintain, you know, the momentum of their attack.

There are other terrorists working in the country -- the Islamic terrorists, the foreign fighters, but these, the second group, have been living, thriving on the environment, or the conditions, that those criminals and killers of Saddam's regime have created for them, and they can be easily defeated.

This is how we see it. It will have a major impact on their morale, and I think the governing council, the new Iraqi regime, would look to open up a new page to have reconciliation in the country to include all members in building this country. Our people are fed up from this cycle of violence.

BROWN: We saw some demonstrations in the country, I think it was last Wednesday, making that point. Are you surprised, Mr. Foreign Minister, that he was taken alive?

ZEBARI: Not really. We've been saying from the beginning -- I mean, that is the nature of all dictators. They are cowards, and Saddam was not -- was no exception. And I think his capture and the way he was captured shows really he was a coward, he was weak. Despite his demonstration of power, of cruelty, of insanity, but when the day came, he was a very weak person, a coward person, and this has made, this illusion, many people. I think, he should stand trial and in front of the Iraqi people to answer for all the crimes he has committed against the people, genocide crime, the war crimes, the crimes against humanity.

BROWN: Why is that trial so important to the Iraqis? What will they get from it, in a sense? A sense of completion, a sense that it's really over?

ZEBARI: I think it will send that message. It will satisfy people, many people, many widows, many victims. A sense of completion, as you put it in a right way, Aaron. I think it will satisfy many people to see this dictator, this mass murderer, you know, stand up in a trial.

BROWN: It'll be a trial unlike any, really, in any of our lifetimes, there hasn't been anything quite like it. Are you confident that there is in place in Iraq, or that there will be, the kind of judicial process, if you will, to conduct such an historic and important and complicated event?

ZEBARI: Well, recently the governing council have approved of -- agreed to set up a court to try to persecute all members of the regime who have committed crimes of these three categories that I've said. And this judicial process would be transparent, would be just, would be open, and people would have the right to appeal even, to have the right to defend, to an attorney. So definitely will need international help and support, but some of Saddam's crimes have done national damage, and so there might be other countries interested to be involved or to broaden, let's say, this and to have an international court to try him.

BROWN: Just a final question, sir. How did you find out?

ZEBARI: Well, I spoke -- when the first time the news came out of the CNN, to be honest, that's the best source of intelligence these days. We did contact -- we did contact our people back home in the north and Baghdad. I spoke with a number of my colleagues at the governing council and they have all confirmed that this is true, this is accurate. This is not propaganda, and Saddam is caught.

BROWN: Well, quite a series of phone calls. Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you for your time today.

ZEBARI: You're welcome.

BROWN: We appreciate it very much. This is an important day for you...

ZEBARI: You're welcome.

BROWN: ... for the U.S. military, for Americans who have waited for all of this. It's about as big as it gets, I guess, when you remember, Paula, that the war began with an attempt, what they called a decapitation attempt, a bombing of what they thought was a bunker that Saddam -- there was one other attempt like it in a restaurant in a part of the city. It all started that way, and it ends not with shock and awe. ZAHN: No, it ended with...

BROWN: But a hole in the ground in a farmhouse.

ZAHN: ... with no single shot fired and with no injuries. An extraordinary raid led by Army Major General Odierno who we're expected to be briefed from shortly in Tikrit. Just the faint outlines of the raid have emerged, and we will get greater detail as we wait for this to start.

Just some details on the demeanor of Saddam Hussein when he was captured. We are told that U.S. officials said he was cooperative, that he actually confirmed his identification to army officials. He seemed resigned to his fate, and this is looking I believe it is a different angle of the hole, the bunker that he has lived in -- we don't know for what period of time, but the bunker where he was found.

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