Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Gadhafi Cracking Down

Aired March 4, 2011 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.

Moammar Gadhafi is cracking down, cracking down and killing his own people again, using deadly force on the streets of Tripoli and the city of Zawiyah and cracking down on reporters who aren't cooperating, taking away their cameras, trying to blind the world to what is happening.

But the videos keep coming. This newly uploaded cell phone video is reportedly from Zawiyah. On YouTube, it says it's from today. We cannot independently verify that, however. We do know from numerous reports today that government forces, which had surrounded the city, moved in hard on protesters who were armed with sticks and rocks and in some cases guns.

Gadhafi forces were said to use mortar and machine gun fire. Watch. Again, we cannot independently verify exactly when this video was taken. One witness we spoke with said what happened was indescribable, a local doctor reporting 15 dead and upwards of 200 wounded.

There's a river of blood, he says, running through his hospital. The regime, meantime, saying they have recaptured the city. The exact word they used was liberated, which, again, we cannot confirm. Remember, according to the Gadhafi regime, the Libyan people are all behind him, but are being held hostage by a small number of al Qaeda terrorists. That's his viewpoint.

The regime also says an army of hidden al Qaeda agents are drugging the Libyan people to revolt. And, today, also defying logic, it says the army has captured in that town, Zawiyah, 31 opposition tanks and 45 artillery pieces. Well, you have seen the videos over the past few days from Zawiyah. You see sticks and rocks and some light weaponry in the desert, but 31 opposition tanks in Zawiyah and 45 artillery pieces? Well, that is the government's claim.

They also say they did not want bloodshed. In Tripoli, government forces launched tear gas and fired on the streets. Remember, all week, the regime has been calling Tripoli calm, painting over any -- painting over anti-government slogans and sponsoring pro- government rallies, not allowing reporters to go out to areas where anti-government protesters were operating.

People who live there also telling us Gadhafi forces have been going door to door, rounding up dissidents, hauling them away, in some cases killing them. Today, despite all this, protesters did come out on the streets in Tripoli, an overflow crowd praying outside a mosque. According to numerous eyewitnesses, they were fired upon. Watch.

The voice you heard shouting they are shooting at the people while they are praying. The government has said from the beginning that they're not targeting civilians. The growing body count says otherwise. There's also the government line about bombings, that the air force is only bombing ammunition depots.

Well, the sell-by date on that one passed when Libyan bombed a militia convoy outside Brega. So, now Moammar Gadhafi's son Saif is peddling a new line, this time on Sky News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI, SON OF MOAMMAR GADHAFI (through translator): I told you many times, I told you many times, if the armed militia tries to attack Al Brega harbor, this is the oil and gas hub of Libya. I mean, all of us, we eat, we live because of Brega. Without Brega, without Al Brega (AUDIO GAP) have no future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're dropping the bombs on the militia? That's what you're saying.

S. GADHAFI: First of all, the bombs just to frighten them to go away, to attack the harbor.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it can frighten your own people and it can kill your own people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Dropping bombs just to frighten their own people, not bombing, by the way.

CNN's Ben Wedeman, however, and their crew were there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are outside the town of Brega, where this ongoing battle is happening, and we watched this Libyan air force plane flew overhead. I can tell you exactly what the target was. It was us. It was us and the people all around us, which was, I would say, about 250 individuals, most of them volunteer fighters getting ready to move ahead forward into Brega to engage the Libyan forces.

So I guess, yes, we were the target, nothing else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: In their public statements, the Gadhafi regime has built itself no credibility during this crisis, the Gadhafis repeatedly blaming al Qaeda and hallucinogenic drugs for the uprising. Then just hours after we asked a lot of skeptical questions what those hallucinogenic drugs were, and they couldn't answer those questions, they suddenly announced a big drug bust, hallucinogenic drugs taken from an al Qaeda network, they claimed, except the pills were hospital painkillers, not hallucinogens. And they make you drowsy and constipated, not bloodthirsty.

Again, this happened just we grilled Gadhafi's spokesman, just after he told us the regime really didn't consider the whole hallucinogenic drug theory all that central to how they explained the uprising. They said that we were being sensationalistic, cherry- picking small statements made by Gadhafi rarely. We were surprised, but only long enough to go and check the record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): Kids, 16 or 17 years old, they give them pills at night. They put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe, and they then tell them after they have taken the pills and say, come on, go, attack.

SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI, SON OF MOAMMAR GADHAFI (through translator): There were many units that we have uncovered, Libyans, Arabs, using drugs.

M. GADHAFI (through translator): These people have been drugged.

Children who have been drugged.

S. GADHAFI (through translator): Some of them were on drugs.

M. GADHAFI (through translator): They are on hallucinogenic drugs.

They are giving them those pills. They are given pills. Take the pills, those pills, the pills, those hallucination pills. Those who offer pills to your children, arrest them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, as we said at the top, some reporters are being hassled now in Tripoli, their cameras, SIM cards confiscated, even though the Gadhafi regime has been saying that foreign correspondents are free to travel wherever they want.

With us from the eastern city of Ajdabiya is Ben Wedeman. In Tripoli, we're welcoming a new voice to the program, David Kirkpatrick of "The New York Times." His reporting for Libya has been remarkable, as has the reporting of our other guest, Marie Colvin from "The Sunday Times" of London.

David, government officials tried to prevent reporters from leaving a hotel today in Tripoli to prevent them from seeing the protests that took place. You actually were able to sneak out, as was Marie Colvin. What did you see, David? DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, we saw two things. We saw much smaller numbers than we have seen in the past, in part because the Gadhafi government has so effectively terrorized the residents of these neighborhoods where the protests took off, tracking down anybody they could find who had participated in demonstrations in the past and many people said hauling them away in the middle of the night to detention for days or indefinitely.

So, it was smaller numbers, about 300 people. But that was 300 too many for the Gadhafi government. And about a half-an-hour after they left their mosque and started chanting slogans about removing Colonel Gadhafi from power, the security forces unloaded first with tear gas, and then quite promptly with bullets.

And what was surprising to me, most surprising really, was that they did it while we, the international media, were there. We have known for a while that Colonel Gadhafi's government is willing to shoot its citizens. But I was a little bit surprised -- and I know the protesters were, because they were thinking of us as a kind of protection -- I was a little bit surprised that he was willing to do that with "The New York Times," the Associated Press and the BBC and its cameras in the crowd, sending all of us scattering.

COOPER: And, Marie, you were there as well?

MARIE COLVIN, "THE SUNDAY TIMES": Yes, I was not where David's talking about. I know where he is. That's right in front of the mosque.

I was where the tear gas was drifting as people ran. It was pandemonium. And it was the same place as -- I think a lot of that is due to last week, last Friday. Five people were killed at this same -- from this same neighborhood as they tried to march on Green Square.

They were cowed. This week, they were just trying to demonstrate. They had flags up from the old regime, which have kind of become the symbol of the rebellion. But they -- they just ran in fear. And you're seeing that (INAUDIBLE) come down around Tripoli. People are hiding away more. They're much less willing to talk. Gadhafi's very much sort of tightening his grip on this capital.

COOPER: And, David, the courage of anybody to come out, a few hundred people to come out, given what they have seen and, as you said, people disappearing, being taken out of their homes at night and disappearing, there was a big question whether anybody would come out. I'm sort of amazed that that many people did come out.

Were they -- did you see people getting shot?

KIRKPATRICK: I saw shots being fired at people. And at that point, I will be frank, I ran.

I talked to two doctors when I hid in the mosque who said that they had seen two people wounded. I don't know if anybody died today or not. But I must say, I agree with you. In Tunisia and in Egypt and here in Libya, when you see these young men throwing rocks at security forces coming at them with machine guns and tear gas, it is -- it's -- brave is too mild a word.

COOPER: And, David, it's important to point out, because given my conversations with Gadhafi government spokesmen in the past and I imagine what they're now going to say about what happened today, they will claim, as they have claimed all along, that these are armed protesters, that -- actually, that these are armed terrorists essentially who have either drugged Libyan youth or that these are hard-core al Qaeda elements who have tricked Libyan youth.

Did you see, A., any -- I mean, is that laughable at this point for what happened outside this mosque? And what sort of arms did you see, if any? I see video of someone using a slingshot and hurling rocks toward the troops. But I don't see any guns.

KIRKPATRICK: No. No, there were no guns. There were no knives.

And the rock throwing, I think, came either concomitant or after the tear gas. The rock throwing wasn't really a big part of the day today. And these people were not al Qaeda. They're not Islamists, and they're not on drugs.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So, any notion that the Gadhafi regime doesn't fire on unarmed protesters, I mean, not that we needed even more evidence of that, but there was more evidence of that today?

KIRKPATRICK: Well, I came back and asked what your response is, and they said, well -- the government spokesman said, well, they were firing into the air.

That isn't the way it seemed to me. And, you know, with people injured, I don't think that was the case. But that's their line.

COOPER: Ben, you were -- you're in the east. You were with anti-government protesters and armed fighters now heading toward the oil refinery town of Ras Lanuf. What did you see?

WEDEMAN: Well, we were outside the town. And we saw a sort of truckload and pickup trucks and carloads of fighters. And there are fighters in this country. There's no longer any peaceful protesters -- were heading towards the town of Ras Lanuf, which of course is very important, because there's a big refinery out there.

And really they were just going as close as they could to the town. Government forces were firing broad rockets. There were helicopters in the sky strafing some of these fighters. It was a real battle out there, no protests of any sort really.

But eventually the anti-Gadhafi forces were able to take the town and the adjacent airport and are in control of the refinery. So it represents something of a major victory. It's the first anti-Gadhafi offensive after they were able to take over the eastern part of the country.

And expectations are, after retaking Brega, after taking Ras Lanuf, they may be moving towards Sirte, and according to the fighters themselves, who are full of a lot of bravado, they may be heading to Tripoli itself.

COOPER: Marie, in terms of working as a reporter now, we're hearing reports about the government authorities now taking cameras. Gadhafi several days ago said in his speech, basically, we don't like foreign correspondents. They shouldn't know anything about what is going on here.

What are you hearing, what have you learned about how the authorities are now making it even more difficult to report?

MARIE COLVIN: Well, they were -- today, after the -- after the demonstration broke up in front of the mosque, they were taking not the cameras so much, Anderson, as they were taking the -- well, everything that mattered about them, the memory cards, something called a setting stick, which they mistake for a memory stick, pretty much anything that could have photos on it.

They erased the memory in my phone, which didn't, to be honest, have very much on it. It was my Libyan mobile. And it's very chaotic. And I have no -- they seem to just be looking randomly. Other camerapeople were able to get through checkpoints without any kind of harassment like that.

COOPER: At this point, Ben, in the east, it's a war now?

WEDEMAN: Certainly, it's a war. As I said before, the protests are long over. And now the people of this part of the country are organizing themselves in a rather haphazard way to move forward.

What we're seeing is that just truckloads of people going towards the front. There's no command-and-control structure. There's no organization. It's just everybody hearing the word that the fight is on. They're heading there. So it's very much warfare, but not sort of organized warfare. It's complete chaos, really -- Anderson.

COOPER: Marie, David, Ben, stay safe.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Or follow me on Twitter at AndersonCooper.

Up next, an eyewitness to the attack in Zawiyah today, he will tell you what he saw and what he think of the Gadhafi's government's claims about what they captured from the town.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You're saying they're not telling the truth?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, all he's using is lies, lies, lies. His first speech was a lie. His second speech was a lie. His third speech was a lie. So all he's got is his lies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And later, Gadhafi's son, Saif Gadhafi, speaks to CNN's Nic Robertson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We have been reporting tonight, as we do most every night, on the Gadhafi regime's efforts to control the message as it cracks down inside Libya. Still, the stories keep coming from ordinary Libyans risking everything by dialing a phone.

Tonight, a man who says he's a freedom fighter. That's what he calls himself. He's an eyewitness to the battle for Zawiyah. We spoke to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: What did you see happen in town today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, from the beginning, approximately half past 9:00 in the morning on the west side of the city of Zawiyah, some of Gadhafi's troops, or should I say militias, attacked us heavily today with 10 car -- 10 trucks on top of them, 14.5-millimeter guns, and there was approximately 200 troops of his.

There was also a couple of snipers on the rooftops. There was also a fully equipped tank, and today we lost a high command who was in charge of us. He was shot down by a sniper.

COOPER: You saw all this with your own eyes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

COOPER: How many people did you have on your side?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Approximately 60 people with Kalashnikovs and three trucks with 14.5-millimeter guns on top of them, some shotguns.

COOPER: Do you know how many people died today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, from our side, seven, and from his side, approximately 20.

COOPER: Did you see the person who shot your commander?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we actually have him with us.

COOPER: You captured him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

COOPER: What are you going to do with him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we're going to investigate him, then try to send it to a news agency. And then we will set him free.

COOPER: You also said you saw ambulances being fired on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the other side of the city, on the east side of the city.

COOPER: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were attacked -- after our first attack on the west side of the city, when we came back half-an-hour later, when the ambulance went to the east side, there was actually a peaceful protest, so that anyone in the hospital wouldn't get injured.

They shot randomly at the protesters, even although it was a peaceful protest.

COOPER: You're saying they also shot protesters outside the hospital?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. There was peaceful protests outside the hospital. Then the militia came and started shooting people randomly in front of the hospital. When the ambulance went to rescue these people, even the ambulance was shot at.

COOPER: At this point, what is the situation now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation now is very quiet. However, we are surrounded by three areas, the east, the west and the south.

COOPER: The Libyan government, Gadhafi's government is saying that they captured -- in Zawiyah, they captured 31 opposition tanks and 45 artillery pieces. Did you have 31 tanks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we don't have 31 tanks. We barely even have four.

COOPER: So you're saying they're not telling the truth?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, all he's using is lies, lies, lies. His first speech was a lie. His second speech was a lie. His third speech was a lie. So all he's got is his lies.

COOPER: Is the Libyan government, is Gadhafi's forces, are they now in control of Zawiyah?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven't been in control and they never were in control.

From the first day, there was rumors of what you call Gadhafi troops conquering Zawiyah. That was a lie. And recently today, again, he said he conquered it. But, unfortunately, that's another lie. All the man has left is his lies.

COOPER: So, in the city center, where the demonstrators had been, where you had been, are your still your forces there, or does the government now have that area?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'm sorry. There's something going on. Can you get into contact with me later on? COOPER: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, bye.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: David Kirkpatrick with "The New York Times" is back with us on the phone from Tripoli. And here with me in New York is Professor Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the Hoover Institution.

David, you describe in today's "New York Times" how people in Tripoli are basically paralyzed with terror. And you write about in neighborhoods how people have disappeared. And you actually kind of name some of the people who have disappeared.

A teacher named Salem Bashir al-Osta, for one, disappeared from a protest last Sunday. His body was just recently found. How many people -- do we know how many people have been taken from their homes, who have simply vanished?

KIRKPATRICK: No, we don't.

The anecdotal reports suggest big numbers. One man I talked to today said, in one night, five households in his family were broken into. People here have big families. The stories I heard today in the neighborhood of Tajura were everywhere, people talking about, you know, hearing -- hearing screams and opening their window at night to see people led out of a neighbor's house or a brother who was taken away or a cousin.

But it's impossible to put a real figure on it. And some of these people are released two days later, maybe made to sign a statement that they were taking drugs given to them by Osama bin Laden or something, or maybe just warned to not go to any of the protests.

Now, that can be a pretty scary couple of days in Libya, but others still haven't come back, as far as I can tell.

COOPER: Fouad, how do you see the day? You know, protesters did come out in Tripoli, which I find remarkable, given the fear that is so -- everywhere there now.

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think you're so right. This is the best way to do this story, on a day-to-day. We don't know from day to day who has the upper hand.

We know the man is in his bunker and no one has come after him. We know he can't go and hit the people in Benghazi, so this standoff continues. And the brutality of it I think will become clearer by the day. And that is really where the pressure on the Western democracies is going to mount, if it will come. As we watch this, how long can we bear it, how long can we watch it? And it really is what you said. It is this kind of daily seesaw battle between this regime -- the regime and its opponents. COOPER: David, people you talk to -- and, again, in that "Times" article, there were people who clearly wanted to talk to you on the street, but were afraid and in fact said they're watching us right now; they will come for me if I talk to you.

But are they anticipating change coming from the outside, whether it's, you know, internationally or Benghazi, or do they feel they can still do it on their own in Tripoli?

KIRKPATRICK: I think there's a lot of fatalism about the idea that they could do it on their own in Tripoli. I don't think anybody really thinks that.

I think they have high hopes for support from Benghazi. I don't know how realistic that is. That's 400-plus miles away. And the Benghazi troops are a pretty ragtag bunch, as far as I can tell.

I think they would like to see -- some people would like to see some sort of Western action, but that is very emotionally fraught, even for Colonel Gadhafi's most ardent opponents, because the notion of occupation is such an ugly one in this part of the world because of its colonial history.

So, I don't know. You know, they're sure, sure, sure that these are Gadhafi's last days, but how it's going to happen, nobody has got a really good answer.

AJAMI: I have a problem with -- we have a great reporter and we feed off what he does on a daily basis. But there is a thesis that the Libyans don't want foreign help because of the trauma they endured under Italian occupation, because of the murder of tens of thousands of Libyans under Italian rule, that they are sensitive about the power of the West and the presence of the West.

But, believe me, they want the help of the West. Now, there is something also which is -- in a way, when you listen to our president, President Obama, he keeps saying, using the word organic. That's a very big word to our president -- that these revolts in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya, now in Libya, they have to be organic, they can't receive foreign help, they can't be nurtured by the outside. Otherwise, they would seem like some colonial imposition.

I think we have to be very dubious. These people are desperate. They know they are desperate. They know they can't take on airplanes. They know they can't take on the remaining -- the surviving pieces of Gadhafi's power.

So, yes, they are proud. Yes, they say we want to do it on our own. But they are in desperate need of foreign assistance.

COOPER: David, do you know how well-organized whatever Gadhafi's forces, the forces that he has, how well-organized they are? We hear about the special forces unit that his son controls, that it's the best armed. Have they actually, you know, flexed their full power in a place like Zawiyah, or do we not know?

KIRKPATRICK: There's a big question mark over the efficacy of the Gadhafi forces.

The Libyan army does not have an illustrious history. I think they, in the past, have suffered some humiliating defeats against Chad and other skirmishes. They're not particularly well-organized. It's a balkanized army internally, organized often on tribal lines, with sort of battalion-wide cohesion, but not military-wide cohesion.

There's a few of these battalions which are run by his sons and some that are sort of personally loyal to him and just protect him. And some of those people I think rightly fear that if his government were overturned, it would go badly for them with the rebels. And so they're quite determined to fight.

But I don't know, you know, just how tough the Gadhafi army is. And whether they're a kind of Keystone Cops scenario, almost like the rebels are, you know, it's a possibility. I don't really know.

COOPER: Because the regime, Fouad, continues to say, well, look, we're not -- we haven't even tried. We could crush these people if we wanted to, but we're only bombing to scare them. We're shooting over their heads, which obviously in many videos we have seen does not seem to be the case.

AJAMI: Look, Anderson, all Arab armies, we must understand what they are. They're really instruments of internal repression. All the Arab armies, their behavior and their conduct and their performance in wars outside are terrible.

But every single army -- when you look at the Syrian army, for example, like the Libyan army, you can say it's sectarian, it's terrible, it can't stand up to Israel. All this is true. But what's also true is that these are instruments of internal repression.

And an army, however disorganized, however dysfunctional it is, facing civilians, will always prevail, if you will. So, yes, Gadhafi's army is in terrible straits, but we're talking about an uneven confrontation. And we refuse from the outside to level the killing field. We refuse to have a no-fly zone.

We refuse to arm the opposition to Gadhafi. And if we leave it this way, I think, generally speaking, these armies will always prevail, because they are built to prevail.

COOPER: You see the opposition in Benghazi getting more organized today?

AJAMI: The opposition in Benghazi I think has answered the international call. They have heard what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, that they're opportunists, we don't know who they are.

What they have done is they have put forward a very, very decent group of people. And their platform is quite remarkably simple. They say all parts of Libya are represented in this council. There are five seats reserved for the young. The permanent headquarters they say are in Tripoli and the temporary ones are in Benghazi and we're committed to the unity of all of Libya, no negotiations with Moammar Gadhafi. That's another one of their planks, no negotiations with him. And our goal is a constitutional and democratic state in Libya.

COOPER: Fouad, thank you for being with us.

David as well, your reporting, as I said before, is just remarkable.

I urge everyone to read it at "The New York Times."

Please stay safe. I know it was a hairy day for you. Thank you very much.

KIRKPATRICK: No problem. Thanks a lot.

COOPER: Still ahead, the first U.S. shipment of relief supplies arriving in Tunisia. They are working around the clock to load planes with refugees on their way home.

And Nic Robertson goes one on one with Saif Gadhafi, the son of Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Moammar Gadhafi's son, Saif, has been a frequent spokesman for his father in recent days. Earlier, we played you one of his latest lines, that the Libyan government was dropping bombs on -- bombs on civilians just to frighten them, not to kill them. Nic Robertson spoke to Saif Gadhafi today. Isha Sesay has more on that.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, in an interview with Nic Robertson late today, Saif Gadhafi, son of the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, talked about military operations and the state of negotiations with the opposition. He defended his family against what he claims are unfair attacks by the international community.

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson joins us live now from Tripoli.

So Nic, what is Saif Gadhafi's explanation for what's happening in Libya right now, all the violence we're seeing?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what he says is happening is that they are going to get control of the oil refineries in the east of the country, that they're going to go ahead with this military operation in the east, and after that, after all the militias, as he now calls them, not al Qaeda, not drug taking -- not drug-taking young people, but militias. Once the militias are defeated, only then did he say the country could move into a political process of reform.

When I asked him what about the Interpol's warrants for his father and for 15 members of the regime and family, he defended that and said they weren't involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAIF GADHAFI, MUAMMAR GADHAFI'S SON: First of all, there is no link between my family and what's going on here. We are not working for the government. We're not in the army. We're not in the security. So it was very silly just to mention our names. Because my brothers are not -- are not doing anything. And you have a government, you have the army, you have people. It's a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: But Nic, let's be clear there, we hear him saying they're not involved but we've heard Moammar Gadhafi say he'll arm millions of people. We see him clearly waving a gun around, telling supporters he'll get them more weapons. So how can he really expect people to believe that the regime doesn't have a hand in this violence?

ROBERTSON: Well, I asked him about this video. And he said, "Well, I appear on television a lot of times and there are a lot of cameras." He didn't really defend this at all.

What he did say was shocking in itself, he said everyone in Libya is armed at the moment. I said, "Are you shipping in more weapons at this time?"

And he said it doesn't matter, everyone is armed.

I asked if the country was at civil war. He said not at civil war. That's what the militias are laying out. But the scenario he laid out, that it's the people joining the army, feed the militias seems awfully close -- Isha.

SESAY: The people feeding the army, army feeding the militias. The picture Saif Gadhafi is painting is one that would lead people to say that he seems clearly disconnected from what's happening on the ground, that he seems delusional. I mean, what is your sense? Does he really believe what he's saying?

ROBERTSON: He does believe what he's saying. He says if there were elections now, 85 percent of the population of this country would support his father.

I mean, it's clear to me in this interview that he didn't give a lot of detail and negotiate on precise tactics. But he believes what he's saying. He believes that they can take control of the rest of the country. It might take some time.

And he believes that reforms can happen. And he believes that President Obama is wrong, his father doesn't need to step down. He believes that he can win over the international community by international journalists like ourselves and that's going to change the international community's opinion of his family, his father, and the situation here. And delusional? Maybe he's been this way all along. I would say he believes it, and there are other people in the government that seem to go along with it right now, Isha.

SESAY: Amazing stuff. Nic Robertson there in Tripoli. Thanks, Nic.

Anderson, back to you. COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Up next, a push for the U.S. to do more to try to stop the bloodshed in Libya. The U.S. military coming under fire. One lawmaker blasting the Pentagon. We'll talk it over with Fareed Zakaria and former governor and U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Bill Richardson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Right now the U.S. government is focusing on humanitarian efforts to help those who have fled the violence in Libya. But the White House is under pressure by some lawmakers to do more to stop the bloodshed, starting with creating a no-fly zone. Senator John McCain supports that idea. Here's what else he said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you comfortable that the Pentagon has substantial intelligence on what is happening inside Libya? You seemed a bit skeptical about that the other day.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff says that he has no sign of attacks from the air on the citizenry. And, of course, we see then shortly thereafter film of that happening. And then obviously, I would assume they're not completely up to speed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Mr. McCain may be referring to this video we've been showing you. Our own Ben Wedeman ad his crew shot it, narrowly escaping an aircraft bombing. He was with a group of about 250 volunteer fighters and others Wednesday near Brega. Ben was an eyewitness of the attack. He says the Libyan air force was targeting them, civilians, Libyan people, citizenry.

That said, creating a no-fly zone remains a controversial option. Joining me now is Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" and editor at large at "TIME" magazine, and Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and also former governor of New Mexico.

Governor Richardson, you're a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Is a no-fly zone a viable option, something you support?

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Yes, I think it is a viable option. I think we're reaching a point where the violence in Libya, Gadhafi's acting like a butcher, that the time has come for the international community or the United States to see it as a viable option.

Now, in terms of the military, that it would militarily help, I think it would. It's a little bit questionable. But what I think most importantly, if there's a no-fly zone, it sends a signal to the Libyan military that the international community, the United States is against them. And it sends a signal to the rebels and the people of Libya that we're backing them. And I think that's very important at this state.

COOPER: Fareed, Gates, the defense secretary, is essentially saying, "Look, this is a complex thing. First you've got to take out anti-aircraft installations on the ground." John McCain is saying, "You know what? It's not that complicated. It's very doable. Given the condition of a lot of the weaponry in Libya, probably not that hard a thing."

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": It's probably not that hard to do logistically. Gates is right: it does involve more than just issuing an ultimatum. You're going to have to actually engage in military intervention.

I think that the broader issue here is to step back. The balance of power between Gadhafi and the rebels is in Gadhafi's favor. Even if you put a no-fly zone in place, he can still butcher them; he can still slaughter them. He's got tanks. He's got heavy...

COOPER: He's got well-trained special forces that his son is controlling.

ZAKARIA: And they have all the guns. So the key here is to shift that balance and keep the pressure, put more pressure on Gadhafi so he realizes he has to end it.

I don't know that the no-fly zone is this magic solution. And I think it does have the toss (ph) that it quite publicly makes the United States a party to the conflict. There's a lot of covert stuff we can do. We can -- we can effectively fund the Contra war against Gadhafi the way we did in Afghanistan.

COOPER: So you think the opposition should be armed?

ZAKARIA: I think the opposition -- I think that the CIA should start looking into covert actions that can fund the rebels, that can provide food, logistics, weaponry. And if Gadhafi realizes this -- and believe me, we don't need to advertise it -- he would realize, he will see, the people around him will see he can't win.

The key here is to make him understand that he is not going to be able to survive and that therefore, what he needs to do now is negotiate the terms of his departure.

COOPER: Governor Richardson, does that concern you, the idea of arming the opposition? They seem at this point kind of fractured, certainly disorganized and, you know, not a lot of training.

RICHARDSON: No, I do believe we need to look at covert programs to help them. Look, these are rebels; these are young people. They want to recapture their country. They're not terribly well organized. We shouldn't set enormously high standards of unity for them. I think we need to help them and show them that we're behind them.

I think what we also need to do is rally the international community. And what's the positive with standing near NATO to really help. From oil supplies right now are through hon. The probably should use the Arab League; diplomacy, Italy to America in this world. I mean renewable energy, that we can't depend on the tyrannical oil regimes, like Libya and others, Algeria, to keep the oil supply going to the west and to American consumers.

It there's any influence with Libya. France, Britain, the Arab League countries, the Organization of African Unity, they could start no-fly zones. They've got military operations.

I think it's reaching a point where you can't just say that diplomacy is going to resolve this problem. Yes, diplomacy should focus on assisting the humanitarian issue of the refugees. We should find ways to continue to ensure that Americans are safe and the international community in Libya is safe.

But this man is turning on his own people, and there has to be a response. This is why I agree that a no-fly zone is not the military solution. But at least it sends a signal to those on the ground, both for and against Gadhafi, that the international community is on the side of the demonstrators against Gadhafi, and that symbolically in a situation like this could have a big effect.

ZAKARIA: You know, I agree with what Governor Richardson is saying with one caveat. Unfortunately it isn't going to be the international community. The Chinese are watching this, and they're terrified at the prospect of, you know, the precedent it would set. If there were an uprising in Tibet, would that mean there be a no-fly zone imposed in China? The Russians worry about Chechnya.

So at the end of the day, we would probably have to do this alone. It's not ever clear NATO would go along with it. Which is why I'm somewhat cautious about the idea of an overt no-fly zone, which would be effectively a unilateral American military intervention in the Arab world, which is a very different proposition and a more complex one than people realize.

COOPER: Governor Richardson, you've dealt with a lot of governments which don't tell the truth and make up stuff. It seems like, in the spectrum of governments that lie, the Gadhafi regime has got to be near the top of the list.

I mean, the number of public statements they have made which we have every night systematically discount -- you know, shown to be false is extraordinary. And even today we're hearing new, you know, false statements from them.

RICHARDSON: Well, look, it's reached a point where this is one of the most tyrannical regimes of all-time, responding against their own people with these huge atrocities. And the question is, what is the international community going to do?

I was very pleased that President Obama yesterday said that he has to go and that he's exercising full diplomacy. My only point here is that at a certain point, you're going to have to take steps that show that we are really helping. That potential covert action to help the rebels, getting the international community to perhaps militarily help the rebels, some of the African countries. They're not helpless. They've got air forces. Possibly a no-fly zone.

It's not going to be perfect. But I think eventually you have to stand with those that are being oppressed, and what's the positive with standing with Gadhafi? It's zero. The oil supplies from Libya for now are gone. We probably should use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. If there's any signal to America in this war is that we should go to renewable energy, that we can't depend on these tyrannical oil regimes like Libya and others, Algeria to keep the oil supply coming to the west and to American consumers.

COOPER: Fareed, before we go, you've got a special on this weekend. What is it?

ZAKARIA: I have a special on switching girls entirely. It's really looking at whether the United States is doing well. You look at the debate going on in Washington, and what I'm struck by is most Americans don't realize how fast we're slipping. We're 23rd in infrastructure. We're 79th in elementary school enrollment. We're 15th or 25th in science education.

And so what I've done is try to paint that picture and, more importantly, tell people what it would take to get us back to No. 1. You know, the really painful sacrifices we've been going to have to make, massive investments in science, technology, education. Rather than cutting in those areas, we actually probably need to double spending in those areas.

COOPER: We'll look for it. Thanks very much. Fareed's special is, on this weekend, "Restoring the Dream: Getting Back you can Do." It's Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead, new information about the deadly shooting of two American airmen at a Germany airport. Why it could have been much worse. And how the British government is making money from the royal wedding, literally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A lot more happening tonight. Isha Sesay has a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, humanitarian supplies from the United States are beginning to arrive in Tunisia to help the tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeing Libya every day. Two American C-130 cargo planes were dispatched to Libya. The first landing earlier today.

A disturbing scene from the Ivory Coast. U.S. officials say Ivory Coast security forces used a tank to fire on protesters who were marching peacefully. At least seven women were killed. People are protesting the disputed president's refusal to give up power. The U.N. says at least 365 people have died since post-election violence started in December.

A radical Muslim suspected of fatally shooting two U.S. servicemen in Germany wanted revenge because of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. That's according to a warrant issued today. Two others were wounded. And the warrant says the suspect tried to shoot another servicemen but his gun jammed.

Unemployment fell to 8.9 percent in February, the lowest level in nearly two years. And royal watching and coin collecting together at last? The royal mint has unveiled a coin commemorating the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The couple approved the design as did the queen. Her portrait is on the flipside. Back with more "AC 360" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: OK, that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.

CNN presents "Race and Rage: The Beating of Rodney King" is coming up next.