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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Interview with Iraqi Translator who Caputred Saddam; Heavy fighting in Iraqi City of Nafaj(corrected headline)

Aired August 7, 2004 - 07:00   ET

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


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone.
From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING for August 7.

I'm Catherine Callaway.

I'm in for Betty Nguyen this morning.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Drew Griffin.

Thanks for being with us.

Here's what's happening.

Three more American service members are dead in Iraq. Two U.S. Marines have been killed in the ongoing battle in the Najaf province south of Baghdad. And a U.S. soldier was killed when his patrol was attacked by insurgents in the Iraqi capital.

Stocks head south as Wall Street reacts to just 32,000 new jobs in July, much fewer than expected.

On the campaign trail, President Bush insists he's moving America forward. But John Kerry contends the economy has shifted into reverse. He starts his day in Colorado today then travels west. The president is in Kennebunkport.

After arriving in Seattle, Vili Fualaau is taken away by a police car and is now free to see his ex-teacher, Mary Kay Letourneau. She was released this week after serving a seven year prison term for statutory rape. Friday, a judge lifted a no contact order between the two.

Keeping you informed, CNN, the most trusted source of news.

And among the stories coming up this hour, where are the jobs and why did Wall Street give a thumbs down to the latest employment numbers? We'll have a closer look at what happens when reality does not meet expectations.

Also ahead, tourism versus terrorism in the Big Apple. A New York City tourist official will join us to talk about the reopening of one of America's most beloved tourist attractions amid growing concerns of another attack. And later, something you'll see only on CNN, the untold story of Saddam Hussein's capture. The man who was as close to the action as you can possibly get.

CALLAWAY: More on our top story this hour. The worst bout of fighting in Iraq in months shows no signs of letting up. Right now, U.S. Marines are battling members of Shi'ite militia in Najaf for a third day. Residents report there has been machine gun fire and explosions in the streets of the holy city and more American troops have been lost.

Let's go right to our John Vause, who is in Baghdad this morning with the very latest -- hello, John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Catherine.

Sporadic gunfire and explosions have been heard and continue to be heard in Najaf all day long as this battle enters into its third day. Iraqi forces and U.S. forces up against the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

U.S. war planes and helicopters are in the skies ahead and American armored vehicles and Humvees have blocked all roads into and out of the city.

This is the third day of fighting. But by all accounts, it is quieter today than it was on Thursday and Friday, when U.S. Marines claim to have killed some 300 Iraqi insurgents. That is a claim disputed by those loyal to al-Sadr, who say only nine members of the Mahdi Army have been killed in Najaf.

Two U.S. Marines were killed overnight in the outskirts of Najaf and doctors at Najaf Hospital say that so far 19 civilians have been killed, at least 18 wounded.

The governor of Najaf gave the militants a warning -- get out of Najaf within 24 hours or face more hostility. That deadline has been and gone. No sign that the Mahdi Army is willing to pull out of Najaf just yet.

This is some of the worst fighting seen in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Certainly it's the worst fighting in Najaf since a cease-fire was brokered less than two months ago. And the violence is spreading across the country, and uprising by those loyal to al-Sadr here in Baghdad.

As you mentioned, one U.S. soldier was killed by a rocket propelled grenade. There are reports of violence in Basra, Amarah, as well as Hillah. The Iraqi Health Ministry now puts the number of dead over the last two days at 49 people. It says 260 people have, in fact, been wounded. But those numbers do not include Najaf. According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, with the ongoing fighting there, it is just too difficult to get precise numbers from Najaf -- Catherine.

CALLAWAY: All right, John, thank you very much. GRIFFIN: And on the domestic front, worries about jobs and the economy. The Dow is at a new low for this year. Wall Street reacting immediately to a disappointing jobs report, a bad Friday for the Dow Jones Industrials. Dropping 147 points, it closed at 9815, its lowest point since last November. The Nasdaq dipped nearly 45 points and the S&P 500 was down 16.

The market's plunge cast new doubts on the nation's economy. Only a fraction of the jobs were created last month that economists had expected.

Details from Kathleen Hays of CNN Financial News.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAYS (voice-over): Shock, disbelief and a swift sell off in the stock market, the reaction to a stunningly small increase in new jobs in July. Just 32,000 when an increase of more than 200,000 was widely expected.

PHIL FLYNN, ALARON TRADING: It was unbelievable. It was like somebody ran a truck through here.

JARED BERNSTEIN, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Well, if June was a disappointment, July is downright depressing.

HAYS: The job market, which looked bright last spring, has suddenly run out of steam. As for the past four months the jobs increases have been getting smaller.

JAMES WHITE, EXCELSIOR CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: It's going to be pretty hard to put a smiley face on this one.

HAYS: The president's top advisers insisted the economy is moving in the right direction.

JOHN SNOW, TREASURY SECRETARY: As we've seen for the last year, 11 straight months of job creation, the highest GDP growth rates in 20 years, so the American economy remains strong and sound and on a good path.

HAYS: The unemployment rate, which is calculated separately from the numbers on job creation, inched down to 5.5 percent.

ELAINE CHAO, LABOR SECRETARY: Now, this is lower than the average unemployment rate in the decade of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

HAYS: But even the Labor Department says the number of new jobs is a better barometer of where the economy is heading and with hourly wages growing less than two percent over the past year and soaring energy prices eating away at people's paychecks, some speculate that the lack of jobs may be George Bush's Achilles heel come November.

BERNSTEIN: With these wage trends, with these price trends, with these oil trends, with these jobs trends, this makes it a tough argument for the incumbent. HAYS: Here's a potential plus for the president, an increase in manufacturing jobs in July, that's a big deal in many of the battle ground states where so many factory jobs have disappeared.

Kathleen Hays, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: And Kathleen's report brings us to our e-mail question we'd like to ask you on this Saturday morning. Do you think the U.S. is in a job crisis or crunch? Why don't you e-mail us with your comments now at wam@cnn.com. And later on, Catherine and I will read them throughout the morning.

CALLAWAY: On a farm in Missouri, Senator John Kerry said that if the U.S. economy has, indeed, turned the corner, it must have been a U-turn. Kerry and running mate John Edwards continue their train trip west, with whistle stops today in Colorado and New Mexico.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee has released a new ad claiming that millions of American jobs have been lost to plant closings and outsourcing.

And President Bush is at his family's compound at Kennebunkport, Maine. The president told voters in New Hampshire yesterday that the economy is improving, saying that we're moving America forward and we're not turning back. Mr. Bush takes a break from campaigning today to attend his nephew's wedding.

Vice President Dick Cheney will be in White Plains, New York for a fundraiser, but it's private, closed to the media.

GRIFFIN: A shocker. Congressman Rodney Alexander of Louisiana, one of the so-called blue dog conservative Democrats in the House, has filed for reelection as a Republican. Alexander filed earlier this week as a Democrat, but later he switched his party affiliation to Republican on the very last day of qualifying for the November election. The timing of the switch prevents state Democrats from fielding a big name candidate. No reason given for the party switch, but Republicans have been looking at Alexander's district as a possible takeover target.

And conservatives started targeting the controversial film "Fahrenheit 911" even before it hit theaters. Now, an effort to get the government involved has failed. In a unanimous vote, the Federal Election Commission refused to classify the documentary as a campaign ad. The FEC dismissed a complaint from a conservative group that wanted the film to be subject to federal campaign rules.

The scathing critique of the Bush administration has grossed over $100 million at the box office so far.

CALLAWAY: In the fight against terror, officials are concerned about a dropping amount of chatter among suspected terrorists. Officials say the same thing happened right before the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile, police are looking over thousands of leads after nabbing some suspects in Britain and Pakistan. They are looking at intelligence on two suspects who allegedly helped al Qaeda operatives communicate with each other. Documents and computers found in Pakistan contain detailed reports about buildings in New York and Washington, prompting the U.S. to alert the cities to possible attacks.

And the attorney for a New York Muslim cleric accused of aiding terrorists says that the government's case is "fantasy." The attorney is defending Yasin Aref, the head of an Albany mosque. Aref and another man were arrested Thursday on charges that they laundered money to aid terrorists.

GRIFFIN: We've dealt with a lot of developments in the war on terror this week, but if you haven't had a chance to keep up with the other news, we are here to help. Let's rewind and check what you might have missed.

A preliminary hearing began this week at Fort Bragg for Army Private Lynndie England. It's to determine if England, who is seven months pregnant, will face a court martial for her alleged role in abusing Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad. At Friday's hearing, an investigator said England identified herself in prison photos and described to him the intimidation and humiliation techniques used on prisoners.

The ongoing anthrax investigation led the FBI and postal inspectors to three homes in New York and New Jersey. Law enforcement sources say all the properties are linked to Dr. Kenneth Berry of Wellsville, New York. Berry was arrested Thursday on unrelated charges of domestic abuse. He has been active for years in addressing nuclear, chemical and biological threats and has argued publicly that anthrax vaccine should be available to the U.S. population. Authorities have not indicated if they found anything during these searches.

A new anti-depressant has received federal approval. Cymbalta is the first anti-depressant to hit the market since the FDA began investigating whether drugs like this can increase the risk of suicide. It should be on the shelves by late this month.

And tomorrow we'll fast forward to the week ahead and tell you which stories will grab the spotlight then.

Well, what does it feel like to pull one of the world's most wanted men from a tiny whole in the ground? This Iraqi immigrant had a firsthand experience. Hear his story in the next half hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

CALLAWAY: Meanwhile, things get more complicated after the star of "Simple Life" loses all her valuables. What's an heiress to do?

GRIFFIN: And are you still watching "Seinfeld" reruns? Just wait until November when the show about nothing comes out on DVD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: We're just getting news coming into the newsroom here at CNN that Al Jazeera is -- I'm sorry, bureaus are going to be shut down. Offices in Baghdad will be shut down for one month. This is a developing story. We just got that in. And we'll tell you more about that coming up.

But now it's time for some stories from across America.

Arizona officials are calling this home a house of hazards. An off duty fire inspector found dangerous radioactive chemicals and heavy metals at the Phoenix area home during an estate sale. Authorities evacuated the home, along with five other houses. Officials say the hazardous items could have been left by the home's previous owner, a chemist, who died.

In New Jersey, officials searching this container ship for possible hazards. The vessel is parked in a New Jersey port after the Department of Agriculture got word that a container of lemons on board may actually contain what was described as a harmful biological substance. Coast Guard officials are investigating. Initial tests of five containers of lemons came back negative, but they plan to destroy them anyway as a precaution.

CALLAWAY: And from lemons to a sour situation for two celebrity siblings. Yes, that's Paris Hilton about to climb the gate after someone broke into her home that she -- the home that she and her younger sister Nicky Hilton were renting in the Hollywood Hills. A thief reportedly ransacked the home. Police are investigating. The older sister says that the burglar made off with "everything."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: What was taken?

PARIS HILTON, ENTERTAINER: Everything.

QUESTION: By everything, what do you mean?

HILTON: Just all my valuables, all my jewelry, all my money.

QUESTION: How much money?

HILTON: A lot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CALLAWAY: And friends and fans are mourning the death of Rick James this morning. A caretaker found the singer dead in his California home yesterday. The cause of his death isn't known yet, but one of his producers tells CNN that James died of a heart attack. Over his career, James earned praise for hit songs like "Super Freak" and "Fire and Desire." But he also had a bit of a bad boy reputation for an addiction to cocaine and a conviction for aggravated assault. James was 56 years old. GRIFFIN: And check out these pictures. This man is not a fugitive, but why did he decide to swim wearing handcuffs? Find out later this hour on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

And planning on catching a flick this weekend? An action thriller and a romantic comedy are hitting the big screen and we've got a preview for you.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "COLLATERAL," COURTESY OF DREAM WORKS)

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: OK, look, here's the deal. Andy, you're going to drive me around tonight and never be the wiser for it. Al Gordo got in front of a window, did his high dive. We're into Plan B. Still breathing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: A comedy writer making a living as a cab driver gets taken on the ride of his life. Tom Cruise is a contract killer, yes, Tom Cruise plays a bad guy this time, driving around L.A., committing a series of hits. Then it comes to getting rid of the last witness. Will the cab driver prevent another murder? "Collateral" a sure hit, says the critics. The "Chicago Tribune" calls it "an expertly made thriller."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "LITTLE BLACK BOOK," COURTESY REVOLUTION STUDIOS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, wow, so Joyce has freckles, huh? All over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she's not self-conscious. So many women hide their bodies these days, but not her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Secrets, folks. Have you ever been tempted to look inside your boyfriend's little black book or, in this case, Palm Pilot? Brittany Murphy trying to figure out why her man is so scared of commitment when he accidentally leaves his PDA at home. She finds a way to meet his ex-girlfriends, some of whom aren't exactly ex. Critics less stellar about this one, "Little Black Book." The "Seattle Post Intelligencer" calls it "a film with an identity crisis."

CALLAWAY: Talk about crisis, the hit show "Seinfeld" served up several of them over its lengthy run on NBC. Now some critical questions that fans have been asking about the series will finally be answered. The first three seasons of "Seinfeld" are set for release on DVD and 24 hours of extras are included. There's commentary, bloopers, outtakes and standup routines from Jerry Seinfeld. The DVD set comes out November 23. GRIFFIN: Of course, that show takes place in New York. And speaking of New York, have you been to the Big Apple lately? Can security alerts undermine New York tourism? We're going to talk about that next on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

CALLAWAY: But first, here's some New York related trivia for you. Do you know why all Big Apple cabs are yellow? All right, think about it. We're going to have the answer for you when CNN SATURDAY MORNING returns.

Stay with us everyone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CALLAWAY: The city that never sleeps. There's no time for naps when you host nearly 30 million visitors a year. Tourists here added $21 billion to the economy, the city's economy, in 2002, supporting more than 200,000 jobs. Big business in New York.

Now, the Statue of Liberty is one of those got to see sites for tourists. Now they can see it again. Lady Liberty reopened this Tuesday after being shut down since September 11, 2001.

And Christyne Nicholas of NYC & Company joins us to talk about that and other hot spots in the city.

Thanks for being with us this morning.

CHRISTYNE NICHOLAS, NYC & COMPANY: Good morning.

CALLAWAY: Well, now we know that the Statue of Liberty is so- called open, but you still can't climb up the Statue of Liberty.

NICHOLAS: That's correct. It opened up on Tuesday and you can get up to the promenade, which is roughly on the 16th floor or so. The museum is open and it's really a fantastic site.

What's great about this is that although the Statue of Liberty or Liberty Island was open about 100 days after 9/11, people didn't realize it was open because when you heard that you couldn't get into the statue, many opted not to even go to the Liberty Island. We went, in fact, from about four and a half visitors in the year 2000 to about two and a half million. So hopefully now, with the big announcement that you can actually go inside the Statue of Liberty, you can see a great deal -- in fact, they made this glass structure so you can look up, and it's really magnificent -- more and more people will hopefully go back to Liberty Island.

CALLAWAY: Well, we don't want to mislead people. You can't climb up into the crown like you could at one time. So there is still an effect of 9/11.

NICHOLAS: Right.

CALLAWAY: You can, however, now look up to see the steps that you climb up into the Statue of Liberty. NICHOLAS: Right.

CALLAWAY: Was she ever a real target or a supposed target from the terrorists?

NICHOLAS: Well, I, you know, look, the P.D. and the FBI would be able to tell you that. But we know that the Statue of Liberty is a tremendous symbol of freedom, a tremendous symbol of hope and, of course, one of New York City's greatest attractions. So we need to make sure that everything is done to protect her. And I think people understand that if they can't get up into the crown right now, that's OK.

And what I didn't know even before, you know, all of, you know, September 11 and when they closed down the Statue of Liberty, that only about a quarter of the visitors even ventured all the way up to the crown. Having been up there myself, it is quite a difficult trek. You have to walk up stairs, it's very narrow and not only was it difficult and strenuous, it also wasn't up to fire code. And that's really what they're concerned about right now. And they are continuing their efforts so that hopefully the crown will once again be opened.

CALLAWAY: I hope so. I have to disagree with you. I love those narrow stairs and getting dizzy walking up there, I think, is an awesome thing and it's an American privilege to be able to go up in the Statue of Liberty. I hope it returns some time.

Of course, safety...

NICHOLAS: I'm glad I did it once.

CALLAWAY: Safety is always a concern.

NICHOLAS: Correct.

CALLAWAY: Do you have to really consider that when you're selling the city now?

NICHOLAS: Well, I mean we always have been and New York City now ranks the number safest large city in America. It has been now for about five years. And that is a major concern for many people when they pick their destinations. So we've noticed that tourism has been coming back in record numbers, because people do feel much safer coming to the city.

As far as security concerns with terrorism, there is no city that is more prepared than New York City. Obviously, we have the greatest police department, that's why we have the safest crime statistics. But then link that with all of the federal officials that have been helping and focusing on New York City. You know, the numbers speak for themselves. That's why we had a record breaking year in tourism last year, almost 38 and close to, with the forecast for the year 2004, close to 40 million visitors will come to New York City by year's end, which is really terrific news.

CALLAWAY: Well, that's great. I hope they keep coming. New York is terrific.

NICHOLAS: Yes.

CALLAWAY: Christyne, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

NICHOLAS: Thank you.

CALLAWAY: Now, earlier we asked you if you knew the answer to this question -- why are the cabs in New York City yellow? Here's why. When John Hertz founded his Yellow Cab Company back in 1907, he read a study conducted by the University of Chicago saying that yellow was the easiest color to spot. And you can find more New York City trivia from NYC & Company. That's online. And, of course, nycvisit.com -- Drew.

GRIFFIN: Catherine, the inside scoop on the capture of Saddam Hussein. It is the story you have not heard before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMIR: What's your name?

He said, "I'm Saddam."

And then, "Saddam, what?" You know, I had to really like yell at him and stuff.

And he said, "I'm Saddam Hussein."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: We will hear from this man, who was there when Saddam Hussein arrested and why that moment was especially important to him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: He is the man who pulled Saddam Hussein out of his hole and you will hear his story this half hour on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

Welcome back.

I'm Drew Griffin.

CALLAWAY: I'm Catherine Callaway.

And we will have that story for you in just a moment.

But first, we have the headlines for you.

Government sources tell CNN intercepted communications between suspected terrorists have dropped off and that's causing some concern among counter-terrorism officials who are not sure why there is less chatter.

Meanwhile, investigators are still going over leads that came to light after a series of recent arrests in Britain and Pakistan.

And a manhunt is under way in Texas for five federal prisoners, including a man believed to be a leader of the Mexican Mafia gang. Witnesses say that they saw the five crawl under fences at a prison near San Antonio.

Autopsies will start today for six people killed in a Florida home. Police say the discovery of the bodies of four men and two women yesterday at a home near Orlando was "the worst thing we've ever seen." Police have not named a suspect or motive, but say that there was an extreme level of violence involved.

GRIFFIN: Catching Saddam Hussein remains one of the most dramatic events of the Iraq war, yet there is not much that has been told about it.

Now, in a story you will see only on CNN, you're about to hear from the man who pulled the former Iraqi leader from his hiding place. He was no ordinary American soldier. He was an Iraqi. The man's name is Samir and he recently sat down with former POW and CNN special contributor Ron Young, to reveal the intensely personal details of finding the ace in the hole.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMIR: I told him, "If you are the real man, you should have killed yourself."

RON YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tough words for a man who grew up in a tough world.

SAMIR: I was there during executions. I lost two cousins during the Saddam regime -- neighbors, friends I know, they were executed by Saddam. And after they shot them dead, before even their parents, they get the body, they have to pay a fine for the bullets.

YOUNG: Samir grew up in Nasiriyah. As a teenager he hated Saddam Hussein, wanted to rebel but feared the consequences.

SAMIR: If you tried to overthrown Saddam, you could not make it.

YOUNG: Finally, Samir's chance came.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, the battle has been joined.

SAMIR: It's in 1991 during the Gulf War. I think pretty much a lot of Iraqis thought this is the best time for Iraq to have a new president, to get rid of Saddam.

We had guns, and we went to the building, Ba'ath Party building and places for Saddam, his security was the prison, torturing people inside the prisons. We broke the doors, and we got some prisoners out.

We thought we're going to get help, maybe from the United States. But it didn't happen. We just left behind.

YOUNG (on camera): What happened to you after that?

SAMIR: I went to my family, my parents. I told them, "I'm not staying here because I know what's going to happen to me. They're going to kill me, for sure." And I told them, "I'm leaving. I cannot live here anymore."

I went to the border between Iraq and Kuwait. There was U.S. military between the borders, and we asked for protections. And they did. They protect us, and they give us food, a tent to live, medicine, anything we need.

They managed somehow with the Saudi Arabian government. And they built a refugee camp for the refugees. We were thousands. A thousand refugees left the country.

I lived there for three and a half years. It's really tough. It's not easy. But you have no choice. You have no choice. Either you stay or you go back to be killed.

I have a cousin, he came here to the United States in 1992. He sent me letters when I was in Saudi Arabia in that camp. And he explained to me the life, and I was like, "That's where I want to be, United States." Just got lucky.

YOUNG: The U.N. granted Samir refugee status, and he settled in St. Louis.

SAMIR: When I came to the United States, I had no English, don't speak English. I have six bucks in my pocket, six dollars. Now I'm driving a nice car.

YOUNG: Samir thrived in St. Louis. He learned English, became a citizen. Part of his heart, though, remained in Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil.

YOUNG: When President Bush started talking about going to war against Saddam, Samir became excited.

SAMIR: I just wanted it to happen, because that's the only chance. The only chance is the United States to go to Iraq and kick Saddam out of there. I want to help. I speak the language. I can do something.

I applied for the job as a translator, and I got the job.

YOUNG (on camera): And you weren't nervous about this decision?

SAMIR: No. I was completely fine, 100 percent, to do it. They sent us to Iraq after about that Baghdad fall.

YOUNG: But Samir wasn't sent to Baghdad.

SAMIR: And they asked my boss, "What city in Iraq we are?"

He said, "This is Nasiriyah."

I was, like, almost having a heart attack. I told my boss that night, told him, "I'm from here. And I got kicked out of the country in 1991. I haven't seen my parents yet."

They said, "We're going to take you home to see your parents tomorrow."

We walked in the village, me and the American forces. Everybody crying. My dad hugged me. Crying so bad, my brothers, my mom. I cried, too.

It was a great moment. I came with America to free them and to see the family. That was a great moment for me. That was the best moment ever.

YOUNG: But soon, there would be another moment that would change Samir's life.

SAMIR: I had to really, like, yell at him and stuff. He said, "I'm Saddam Hussein."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: The rest of Samir's remarkable story just ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMIR: We dig in there and we found a hole. A little bitty hole; it cannot be. Especially when you think about looking for Saddam Hussein.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: The intense hunt for the former Iraqi leader brings U.S. special forces to a most unlikely spot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Catching Saddam Hussein was the dream of a lifetime for an Iraqi translator. A special inside look now at that momentous occasion you will only see on CNN.

Here is part two of Samir's story of coming face to face with his nemesis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMIR: I want to show the world. I want to show all the people I know. That's the hole we dragged Saddam out of. From that little bitty dirty hole.

YOUNG (voice-over): For Samir, capturing Saddam was personal. Forced to flee Iraq to the U.S., his heart hurt for his family still suffering back home.

When the U.S. went back to remove Saddam Hussein, he wanted to help. He was sent back to Tikrit as a translator with the U.S. Special Forces.

SAMIR: They don't want to see you in the uniforms. They don't care if you're Americans or if you're Iraqi. They don't care. They look at you like you are a traitor or a spy or something.

YOUNG: Samir was assigned to the tedious and frustrating search for Saddam. Sparks of hope would quickly fade.

Then, the break they were looking for.

Now for the first time someone on the mission tells what happened the night Special Forces caught Saddam Hussein.

SAMIR: On December 15, we knew we have info. Saddam Hussein is on that farm, hidden somewhere in that farm. But we had his bodyguard. He's the one we were looking for, because we knew he lived with Saddam. I was the translator for this guy.

And he start crying. He said, "Don't kill me. I'll show you where Saddam is."

And we got on that farm about 8 p.m. Saturday night. And forces went inside. And they searched the whole farm, and there's no sign of Saddam. The guy show us exactly where the bunker is.

YOUNG (on camera): The bodyguard showed you where the bunker was?

SAMIR: He said -- pointed with his finger. He said, "Dig in here."

It's really hard to see where the bunker is. It's like it's covered with dirt. And what they do was Saddam go in. And they take leaves from trees, and they throw it on top of that. They make it look like it's been there for a long time.

We dig in there and found a hole. A little bitty hole. It can't be. Especially when you think about looking for Saddam Hussein, the dictator, the one who has the power over his people. It just -- it doesn't cross your mind. But he was there. He was there.

He heard shots, and he started yelling inside. And they said, "Samir, come talk to him. Tell him to come out."

And he start saying, "Don't shoot. Don't kill me. Don't shoot." They asked me to tell him, to ask him, "Put your hands up. We want to see your hands." I told him, "Put your hands up."

And it was like one hand.

I said, "Let me see your other hand." And he did this. I said, "No, both hands up." YOUNG: And you're looking down the hole at this point?

SAMIR: Yes. I was like, this guy's like pulling me back, because they didn't know what's in there. A bomb's going to come off or something. I tried to talk to him. This guy's, "Samir." They pulled me back. And like we had helicopters, about eight of them.

Anyway, he stick both hand up. And I reached him. And I caught him. I grabbed him. I grabbed him. I was like, "I'm not going to let him go." Everyone got a piece of Saddam. We pulled him out.

I look at him, I knew that's Saddam from his face. And I told them, "This is Saddam." They didn't believe me first.

They said, "Ask him his name."

And I said, "This is Saddam."

They said, "No, ask him."

And I asked him, "What's your name?"

He said -- at first, he said, "Ah..."

"What's your name?"

And he said, "I'm Saddam."

"Saddam what?" I had to really, like, yell at him and stuff.

He said, "I'm Saddam Hussein."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CALLAWAY: And we will bring you the rest of Samir's incredible story in just a minute.

But first, if you are just waking up, here's what's going on this morning.

Just minutes ago, Iraqi interim prime minister announced he had signed a law offering amnesty to Iraqi citizens. The act would pardon Iraqis who have committed minor crimes.

Funk rock legend Rick James is dead. Best known for the 1981 hit "Super Freak." James died in his sleep on Friday. He was 56.

And why, you might very well ask, did an Italian pharmacist swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco with his hands and feet tied? Alberto Cristini made the one and a half mile swim in just under two hours, proving that it can be done.

And look at these pictures. Surveillance cameras are in progress, so is the robbery? Is anyone trying to stop it? Well, wait until you hear the rest of this story. That's coming up a little bit later on on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Wow. GRIFFIN: Finding Saddam Hussein wasn't just a job, it was personal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMIR: I didn't know what to do. Like this is the guy who destroyed millions of lives. This is in my hand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: He grew up hating and fearing Saddam. Suddenly, he was the one in charge. Part three of Samir's emotional story of confronting Saddam Hussein. That is just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Samir returned to Iraq after the fall of Baghdad as a translator. He was hoping to help U.S. forces capture Saddam Hussein. But when he found himself face-to-face with Saddam, a lifetime of resentment and anger suddenly erupted.

Here is part three of his incredible story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMIR: At that moment, I was like -- I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do, that this is the guy who destroyed millions of lives. He's in my hands.

I don't know. I just -- to kill him right away is not a good idea. I don't know what to do, really.

I told him, "You call yourself a hero and a leader of the Arab nation. You are nobody."

And he called me a traitor and a spy. And he make me really upset. And I had to punch him. I was so angry. I don't know, really punch him a couple of times in the face. I grabbed him from his beard and they told me to stop: "That's enough."

Saddam spoke two words in English when we pulled him out. When we pulled him out, he spoke the word because he thought nobody speak Arabic with these forces. He said, "America, why?" He said it three times, "America why? America, why?"

And I remember once of the forces told me to tell him. They said, "Samir, tell him the reason we're here. Because President Bush sent us to find you."

YOUNG: How did he react?

SAMIR: He had mad words (ph). He said, "My shoes are better than you and your family." Any question you ask him, he's crazy. I think he's crazy. He's like, "The war is not over." He said, "I'm a hostage or I'm a prisoner?"

YOUNG: He had no idea?

SAMIR: Yes. He said, "You didn't win the war." He said, "You didn't win the war. The war is not over."

We told him that. "The war is over. The war is over. It's over. You gone. You gone.

He said, "No, the war is not over."

YOUNG (voice-over): Special Forces took Saddam Hussein back to one of his palaces. He was no longer president. But a prisoner.

(on camera): Was he crying?

SAMIR: He wasn't really crying but he was like -- felt like -- he's not Saddam anymore. He's not the president anymore. He felt it's gone.

I remember a couple of questions they ask him when I was there. They ask about the master graves, and he denied it. He blamed the vice president, Iraqi vice president al-Douri.

He said, "America, why you come and like crossing the Atlantic? You come in here like" -- the way he talk -- "you come in here to Iraq. What do you know about Baghdad?"

PAUL BREMER, FMR. U.S. ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: Ladies and gentlemen, we got him!

YOUNG (voice-over): Soon word traveled in Nasiriyah and later the pictures.

SAMIR: My mom when she saw that picture, the first picture came out like they blank my face. She said, "From his hand I can tell that was Samir." My parents, they are proud of me.

YOUNG: Samir returned to St. Louis. He told only a few people what happened. He tried to tell the story to President Bush in an e- mail, but it bounced back.

Then last month, friends arranged for him to meet President Bush.

SAMIR: I was like, it can't be. It can't be. I was like, I couldn't sleep at night. I just couldn't believe it. I shook the president's hand and I told him, Mr. President, thank you, thank you for what you have done to Iraq. You freed the country.

And it just -- that's a great moment. Again I tell him, "Sir, this is me and Saddam." And he said he saw it. He saw the picture.

YOUNG (on camera): What would you say to the people in this country who say that our going to war wasn't worth it? That the cost is too high?

SAMIR: I want to say, like, especially the whole family they have -- or kids that have daddy or mother, serving in Iraq, I want to tell them what they do in Iraq, it's the right thing. Because they save a life, they're changing Iraq. Going to Iraq I think is the right thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: An incredible story.

CALLAWAY: Yes.

GRIFFIN: The person interviewing Samir was CNN special contributor Ron Young. He's a former POW in Iraq whose helicopter was shot down early in the war.

CALLAWAY: I hope we see a book from Samir soon, because he has a lot to say about the situation.

And as far as Saddam Hussein, well, of course, he is under the legal control of Iraqi officials. He appeared in court July 1, where the charges against him include the invasion of Kuwait and the gassing of Kurds.

"Kill, keys, money jewelry," police say that was the chilling to- do list for one Georgia teenager this week. And now this 15-year-old, along with her 16-year-old girlfriend, are on trial -- are being held for stabbing her grandparents to death. Should they be tried as adults? Our legal eagles are on the case in the next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CALLAWAY: Good morning, Atlanta.

You're waking up to some cooler weather this morning.

Let's get the complete forecast now from Orelon Sidney -- good morning, Orelon.

(NEWS BREAK)

CALLAWAY: Orelon, Drew is the happiest person among us today, with the break in the humidity this morning.

ORELON SIDNEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't know if he's any happier than my dog.

CALLAWAY: Well, he's from L.A. so...

GRIFFIN: It puts me in good company, though.

CALLAWAY: Yes, the last couple of months...

GRIFFIN: Me and Orelon's dog.

CALLAWAY: You know, moving to Atlanta in the middle of the summer is a rude awakening to our humidity here. Hope it lasts.

GRIFFIN: Thanks, Orelon.

The next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING begins right now.

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


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