Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Gadhafi Compound Attacked; SATs: Ensuring Fairness in Standardized Testing

Aired March 20, 2011 - 18:58   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news here on CNN. Straight to our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, who -- we are hearing now, Nic, that you are inside of Gadhafi's compound. What do you have for us?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We were taken here a little while ago by government officials. We were taken to a building here that has been -- appears to have been hit by a couple of missiles. We were told by witnesses that the missiles had gone through the roof and then a second missile -- the music you're hearing is part of -- part of the music that the government is playing so the people that are coming into the compound will support Moammar Gadhafi.

(AUDIO GAP)

LEMON: Nic, it appears your signal is breaking up. I understand that you're probably on a cell phone, if you can get to an area with clear reception.

But, again, this is breaking news on CNN. Of course, Nic Robertson is our senior international correspondent, has been in the middle of the conflict there since it started, since the missiles were fires, U.S. missiles were fired from the Mediterranean, and since the retaliation started yesterday.

Let's go back to Nic Robertson.

Nic, can you hear us? Are you there?

ROBERTSON: I can hear you. There's a government official here who told us that the building had been hit by at least one missile. And while he was talking to us, parts of -- what people was saying was a missile -- were being pulled out of the building. The parts they were pulling out were still warm. One of them had a manufacture date from the 29th of November, 2006. And they look very similar to cruise missiles that I've seen in other conflicts, in Iraq and in (INAUDIBLE) as well.

So although we can't confirm what hit the building and what destroyed the building, this also coincides -- it coincides in timing with an explosion that we heard earlier and smoke we saw rising from this compound area earlier on in the evening. We were told it was hit about two and a half hours ago. And that was when we heard loud anti- aircraft gunfire and then heard an explosion and then saw smoke rising from this area. Although, when we go to the building, it was smoking. But this was a four-story building that appears to have had two large circular holes punched in the roof. The roof completely collapsed, many of the roof blown out, heavy reinforced concrete, reinforced with thick rebar and metal rods and all collapsed and twisted.

A government official told us that this -- that no one was injured in this -- in this (INAUDIBLE) but they say that they -- they can't understand why this happened because they say a Pentagon spokesman had said that the compound belonging to Moammar Gadhafi would not be targeted and this building is inside, very much inside that compound.

LEMON: Ok so Nic you're there and you're seeing the damage and destruction but again, no sign of Moammar Gadhafi.

And it is the top of the hour; 7:00 p.m. Eastern here in the U.S. Our Nic Robertson again is reporting live. Nic is inside of Moammar Gadhafi's compound where he says a building has been hit and destroyed.

Nic Robertson, continue -- update our viewers please.

ROBERTSON: Well, what the -- the government has done now is invite a huge number of their loyalist into this area, flooded this area now with -- with loyalist, which are playing songs that are very pro- Gadhafi -- but (INAUDIBLE) pro-Gadhafi in the past few weeks.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Nic --

ROBERTSON: The government has brought us here to show us this building, to show us that it was -- how heavily it has been damaged. But again, I have to say it's impossible for us to independently verify exactly what happened.

But it certainly looks to me and I've seen a number of buildings in the past that have been struck by cruise missiles. This certainly looks like a building that has been hit by heavy missiles and it appears to be very much in the area where we saw smoke rising, heard it fell out and this one loud explosion coming just a couple of hours ago.

So the part of the missile (INAUDIBLE) that I was handed -- that I was handed at the (INAUDIBLE) part of the building was still quite warm. It's peculiarly light, they appeared to be pulled out from underneath the rubble. They're is so fine it would have been old for this missile part; it still appears to be warm.

LEMON: And so Nic can you describe for us this compound. How many buildings and exactly the building that was destroyed and what is it used for? What does it look like? How big is it?

ROBERTSON: This is a -- this is a very large compound area, multiple security entrances to it. The area that appears to be part of the outpost (ph) right now is the same building that was targeted in 1986 in retaliation for a Libyan attack on the Thanksgiving (ph) where they killed American service members. It is perhaps the building that's been targeted. This time it's perhaps the 100 to 200 yards away from -- from that building.

But there are many, many buildings at this compound. The one thing that was pointed out was what was described as this tent where Moammar Gadhafi entertained. We were told this was the place Moammar Gadhafi just a few days ago met with -- met with the Russian and Chinese and Indian Ambassadors. It had just been a few days before the U.N. Security Council resolution was passed. There's no evidence when Moammar Gadhafi is here at this time.

But we are told this is an area that he uses as his main residential area inside Tripoli. And I talked to somebody here who knows Tripoli very well and he told me that just a few weeks ago it would have been unthinkable for as for a normal Libyan to be allowed in this area.

And the government has invited -- that this was a compound like Saddam Hussein's compound in Iraq, a compound that certainly (AUDIO GAP)

As far as we estimate the size of the compound here it is perhaps a couple of square miles at least I'm looking at an area now at least the size of a large baseball field that's adjacent to the building that -- that was hit this evening.

LEMON: So Nic Robertson again, I'm not -- we're having a little bit of tough time hearing you and I'm sure if that's a background noise of it's because of how we are connected to you, if it's a cell phone or a satellite phone or what have you. But it's a -- it's very tough.

But here is what I'm -- I'm garnering from Nic. And Nic, don't go anywhere because we want to keep you here. Nic Robertson invited to the compound of Moammar Gadhafi because it was struck in this unrest and it was -- a building there completely destroyed. He is touring it now, he said this would have been unheard of just -- just weeks ago or even days ago that someone would strike this building.

This is a building that Moammar Gadhafi uses for official business. Nic is on the phone now describing to us what it is. And we saw the fallout from -- we have video of the fallout that has been happening in Tripoli also in Benghazi as troops, rebels and also pro-Gadhafi supporters -- Gadhafi supporters go at it. That is the -- the mortar fire happening last night in Tripoli and then again today. Nic Robertson joins us from Moammar Gadhafi's compound.

Nic Robertson again, explain to our viewers what you're seeing and hearing and quite frankly the significance of this.

ROBERTSON: Well, the (AUDIO GAP) it appeared to be a strike, a missile strike, probably two missiles that appear to be cruise missiles that struck right into the heart of Gadhafi's presidential palace compound in the middle of -- in the middle of Tripoli.

(AUDIO GAP) strike, it appears just not to be targeting him to be a very clear message that he is in the compound (ph) at the moment. It's not clear why his -- his compound area would be targeted in an effort to enforce a no-fly zone and to enforce the security and face (AUDIO GAP)

What we are looking at is a building, a four-story building, a large heavy, strong, concrete building, the rebar that was reinforcing the concrete (AUDIO GAP) and some of it perhaps close to as thick as my wrist so this is a very, very strong building. Two holes punched in the roof, the roof collapsed down forward across perhaps two floors. The lower floors very heavily damaged, rubbles flew over an area of perhaps, perhaps 100 and 150 yards. So, a lot -- a lot of damage to a strong building.

LEMON: Ok Nic Robertson stay there we're -- we're hearing you a lot better now. I'm going to repeat what you said and I have a question for you. Nic Robertson is again, at Moammar Gadhafi's compound. He is saying that two cruise missiles he believes struck that building and it is in the heart of Gadhafi's compound which is right in the middle of Tripoli.

A four-story building according to Nic, heavy strong concrete building, it is supported by a rebar, two holes in the roof, the roof collapsed according to Nic there's rubble 150 yards all strewn about.

Nic Robertson, what is this -- does this changed anything for this conflict now that it appears that this compound was struck because Moammar Gadhafi supposedly is not the target of this campaign; it is just to protect the people. Does this change anything?

ROBERTSON: It will have a psychological impact on him and he will try to use this -- the -- the destruction of this building to his advantage. He'll try to use it to -- to demonstrate because I think they -- the reason they brought us here this evening. They had an hour and a half before this missiles struck declared, re-declared the cease fire albeit the first cease fire was -- held no water whatsoever, it wasn't -- it wasn't being observe.

And they will also -- probably use this to say as indeed the government spokesman said a few minutes ago, he asked me why the Pentagon spokesman said that this area wouldn't be targeted yet it is being targeted. So we're likely going to hear this again several times I would imagine.

Does it change anything in terms of enforcing a no-fly? Does it change anything in terms of sort of degrading command and control? Does it have any impact in terms of degrading air defenses? It is not clear.

It didn't appear to be a building that was covered in antennas or have a lot of cabling in it that one might associate with command and control. In fact it's very difficult for us to make an assessment in the dark because we are here in the dark.

So I think the best assessment we can make at this time is it will probably have a psychological impact. Certainly believe it will -- the areas that he thinks could be targeted.

LEMON: CNN's Nic Robertson. You're watching CNN Breaking News.

I want to welcome our viewers from around the world. I'm Don Lemon.

We have our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, on the line. He has been taken to Moammar Gadhafi's compound where a building has been hit and he says completely destroyed.

Here is what Nic Robertson is reporting. He believes two cruise missiles hit a building in the heart of Gadhafi's compound, right in the middle of Tripoli. A four-story building, a heavy strong concrete building, he said, with concrete as thick as his fist, if not thicker. Two holes in the roof; the roof collapsed 150 yards, there is debris there.

Nic Robertson in reporting on that.

Nic, the question is, we have not -- we've heard from Moammar Gadhafi on Libyan state television, but we have not seen him. Does anyone know where he is?

ROBERTSON: No. Nobody does know where he is and what's quite significant perhaps about this is this missile strike came about 100 yards or so away from the very symbolic statue of a giant fist, golden fist clenched around a U.S. fight aircraft. This is (AUDIO GAP)

Moammar Gadhafi has been using -- instead of appearing on state television -- that's the image that appears when he's been speaking the last few times on state television. But it's not clear where he is. One will get the impression, if he's not appearing on television, he is just using this image when he speaks is because he doesn't want people to get any sense of where he might be. Not even perhaps the cameraman that would come and shoot such a state.

So I think the impression we get is this is a leader who has gone into hiding and perhaps -- from what we've seen that he's not (INAUDIBLE) in his compound this evening, perhaps he's gone into hiding with good reason -- Don.

LEMON: Nic, as we get new information on this, again, I want to tell our viewers that Nic was invited by government officials to witness, to see the destruction to the compound, a four-story building, two circular holes possibly indicating a strike by cruise missiles.

Our Nic Robertson is live now on the scene at Moammar Gadhafi's compound.

So Nic, the question is I'm hearing some noise behind you. Can you describe the scene? Are there people around you? Who are they letting in? And again, who invited you in and why?

ROBERTSON: Government officials invited us in. It was never really clear where we were going precisely. Even the officials with us didn't seem to know. But that's far from the case here as only very, very few officials actually know where they think this is. Why they were taken us (INAUDIBLE).

We had to fight our way through traffic, heavy traffic around this palace compound area because it's been flooded with Gadhafi loyalists, hundreds of cars parked to the side of the street. The people that come in -- the door to the palace had been opened. Heavy security gates, multiple lines of security for people to go in.

I noticed that when we arrived here this evening that more of the soldiers were wearing protective military helmets than we had seen over the past couple of -- than yesterday when we were here yesterday. The people that had been invited into the compound were sort of a free party-celebration. It's all an effort to portray on state television pictures of people, as they say on state television, protecting this palace area. They're a group of people, perhaps 100 of them that were gathered around in front of one of the buildings here.

The state television cameras focusing quite tightly so the viewers would only see what appears to be a large crowd gathered there. The music, songs that are pro-Gadhafi songs and are becoming very popular among his loyalists here that government officials who traveled with us like to sing and play on the radio a lot.

We're now leaving the compound. We're now about to head back to our hotel at the moment. But this is a heavily fortified compound. The walls I'm looking at now are perhaps four-foot high heavy concrete, triple layers of razor wire and not just the outer perimeter, multiple layers of security, metal guns and full body searchers before and the equipment get put through x-ray machines before we get inside the compound area.

That gives you an idea, it's a very, very well protected compound here.

LEMON: And Nic, as you are speaking, we're looking at a picture of the compound. And of course, we have seen it on Libyan television with the fist and then the fighter jet inside being inside the clenched fist. There is a picture of Moammar Gadhafi's compound and that's where our Nic Robertson is coming to us live.

Nic stand by, don't go anywhere.

I want to get a quick check now from senior White House correspondent Ed Henry who is traveling with the U.S. President Barack Obama in Latin America.

Ed Henry, I understand that some people in the administration boasting today of a successful day in this conflict?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Don. Fascinating to hear Nic Robertson report on the scene there from the Gadhafi compound because I just came out of briefing here in Brazil with Tom Donilon, who's the President's national security advisor. He was just boasting of what he called very aggressive action directly at Colonel Gadhafi and he said, quote, "We've been very effective. We've had a good first day."

He's talking about the first full 24 hours that they've been briefing the President on; so interesting to hear from the White House perspective. They're boasting that they feel they have been making serious progress here while Nic on the other side, about 5,000 miles away is saying that certainly it appears that way right there on the scene.

Now, interesting as well that Tom Donilon was very direct in scoffing at Moammar Gadhafi's claims today that there is now a cease fire in place in Libya.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hey Ed, if I can jump in real quickly and --

HENRY: It was immediately violated. Yes.

LEMON: Ed, can I jump in real quickly, I want to ask you a question. I want to tell everyone that our Nic Robertson is still standing by where Moammar Gadhafi's compound has been struck with what is believed to be by two cruise missiles because of the circular holes in the building. Again, that's what Nic is believing and that's what government officials are saying just because of the type of holes and the damage in that building.

So we're going to get back to Nic Robertson in just a second.

Ed, my question to you is, is this so new -- this is breaking news -- has anyone in the administration -- have you had a chance to speak to them? Are they responding to this because if indeed, if his compound was struck and it was by Allied Forces, this could change the mission here and this could change this conflict?

HENRY: Well, they have not reacted directly because Nic is literally reporting this as we speak, obviously. And this is playing out right now. I just came from that briefing; I'll try to go back in a moment.

But I will tell you this would fit in to that in terms of the White House feeling confident that they are making progress and that perhaps this compound was hit. Other key target is, number one, the fact that Tom Donilon just said in his briefing on the record that the President believes the U.S. can pull out within days, not weeks according to Tom Donilon in terms of a lead role.

Now, if they did not feel like they were making progress, I doubt very much that he would go on the record and say that. Basically Tom Donilon saying that other partners, allies like France and others will be taking the lead in terms of enforcing the no-fly zone in that the bombardment, the heavy bombardment by the U.S., U.K., and others may be having a big, big impact in these early days -- Don.

LEMON: Ok. This story has a lot of moving parts in there; some developments coming in a second. Ed, will you please stand by because we need you there. You're traveling with the U.S. president, of course, playing a crucial role in this conflict as well as France and as well as the U.K.

A lot of people here, playing crucial roles; it is Allied -- it is an Allied mission, a united mission among many people and among many countries.

We have our General Russel Honore, contributor here on CNN. He is a retired Army Lieutenant General. He is standing by for us to give us perspective.

But before we go to General Russel Honore, I want to go back to our Nic Robertson who will update us on the situation that's happening in Tripoli. Again, Moammar Gadhafi's compound struck, not exactly sure by what; they believe it is cruise missiles.

Give us a quick update, Nic Robertson. Where are you? We heard that you were leaving the compound, that you had toured it. Tell us -- give us an update on your situation?

ROBERTSON: Well, Don, we are still sort of within the compound area. Just slightly out of perimeter waiting to -- waiting to leave. We've just walked perhaps, I would say, a five-minute walk from that building, maybe a quarter of a mile from the building. Now the soldiers manning anti-aircraft guns around the periphery of some parts of the compound.

Now when that building, again, just to reiterate -- this was building that was perhaps two parts and a third part with a (INAUDIBLE) coming off of it; all the windows blown out of the (INAUDIBLE) but the main structure of the building, there are two circular holes in the roof. The roof, if you can imagine it, collapsed down full within the building. It sort of folded down.

Heavily struck, re-barred, reinforced concrete sticking out; the lower rooms of the building very heavily damaged. We were told that the first missile went in and exploded. The second missile, we were told, didn't explode until it had gotten lower down in the -- lower down in the building. We're told that no one was injured in that -- in the attack. We're told that this was an office type of building.

Very close, 50 yards, we were shown away from what is a symbolic tent of Moammar Gadhafi. He's known to entertain people in tents. This was one of his symbolic tents. But we were told he was in this compound. No clue if it was exactly this building where just as a few days, Moammar Gadhafi met with the Russian, the Chinese and the Indian ambassadors essentially to try and head off this U.N. resolution that has brought these air strikes on his compound tonight -- Don.

LEMON: All right. CNN's Nic Robertson, stand by. Nic Robertson reporting live there from Tripoli. Moammar Gadhafi's compound struck; a building completely destroyed and it's believed to be a missile attack. Not exactly sure from who.

Nic Robertson following the breaking news for us.

Also joining us tonight, CNN's chief White House correspondent, Ed Henry, traveling with the U.S. President in Latin America as well as Retired General Russel Honore, who is following us from New Orleans; we'll get to him live as well.

And we are watching this live broadcast. Take a look right here from Libyan state-run television. In the midst of all of this, Gadhafi's compound being struck, hit by what is believed to be a missile. These are the images that are playing out on television in stark contrast to the reality. Our breaking news coming up on CNN: the U.S., of course, not alone in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. We'll have a look at the efforts from other countries in the coalition.

Plus, confusion today over the Arab League support for the operation. We'll talk to our Ed Henry about that, sort all of it out.

Breaking News coming up on CNN right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news here on CNN: Moammar Gadhafi's compound has been hit and one building has suffered major damage. It's believed, according to our Nic Robertson, because of the damage, two circular holes in the roof of this building, that it was possibly cruise missiles that hit the compound.

Again Nic Robertson, our senior international correspondent says that this building is a heavily fortified concrete building, fortified with rebar and concrete as thick as his fist if not thicker. And there is major damage: two holes in the roof, parts of the roof had collapse. There you're looking at a picture of Moammar Gadhafi's compound, again, one building heavily damaged.

CNN's worldwide resources on top of this story. We have -- Nic Robertson is going to join us in just a moment from Tripoli again. Also, Elise Labott, who is our state department correspondent; she has been to this compound. Our Matthew Chance joins us from London as well as Retired General Russel Honore who knows about these missions. He joins us tonight from New Orleans.

Straight to General Russel Honore right now. General, you have been in these situations before. As you and I have talked -- as we've been talking here on CNN, Moammar Gadhafi is not the focus of this mission in terms of hitting him. It is, according to the Allied Forces, according to the U.S. President Barack Obama and others, it is to keep the people of Libya safe. They're there for the safety of the people. Does this change anything now that Moammar Gadhafi's compound has been stuck?

LT. GENERAL RUSSEL HONORE (RET), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think so. I think the command and control was always on the list, the intent to hit it. Not him directly. I would suspect when we went into this we have a no-target, no-shoot list, restricted fire zone which designates mosques, buildings such as hospitals and his headquarters was on that no-target list.

But remember last night and early tonight you saw air defense weapons from that compound shooting in the air. You've got two possible scenarios. You've got a scenario where a pilot could have seen that anti-aircraft weapon, a ZSU-23-4, could have been at the top of the building, could have been shooting. Don't know the facts yet, but I commend Mr. Robertson and his crew for going there.

The other thing is, the moment that CNN crew walked on the scene, all of our targeteers are watching this, everybody is using CNN intel. It immediately had a place where they're not going to get attacked again during that period they were there. So there's a lot of schemes going back and forth on both sides. We need to keep that in effect, Don.

LEMON: And we were -- we have been talking here saying that the propaganda campaign, the propaganda war, is in full effect. Is that the reason, one reason, maybe the main reason, that these reporters, including Nic, were invited to this compound?

HONORE: It could have been that, or it could have been the hope that we would shoot again and they would end up being injured. And then we would look like the scapegoat. The good news is we're watching CNN just like he's watching it, and hopefully we are communicating with our people on the ground and where they're going. But he is using the press to try and paint a message. Remember the first victim of the war is the truth.

LEMON: All right. General, I was going to get back to Nic Robertson but I understand he has dropped. Obviously it's difficult to getting in under these circumstances. But I just -- stand by, general.

I'll update our viewers again. If you had just joined us, Moammar Gadhafi's compound has been hit and substantially so, especially one building with two giant holes, circular holes, in the roof. It's believed, according to our Nic Robertson, who was invited to the compound in the middle of Tripoli to see the damage -- to tour the damage, that they believe it was possibly cruise missiles that struck the compound. Heavily damaged, heavily damaged.

Let's go now to London and CNN's Matthew Chance as General Honore stands by and as well as Ed Henry stands by who's traveling with the U.S. President Barack Obama.

You're standing in front of 10 Downing Street; any response from there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's been no response to these developments, being dramatically reported by Nic out of Tripoli. But as you can see behind me, the door of Number 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister, a couple of hours ago a security meeting, a very high-level one, ended there where they were considering various aspects of this U.N. Security Council-mandated mission to impose that no-fly zone.

They came out, they reacted to the cease-fire -- the British government officials -- the cease-fire that had been declared by Colonel Gadhafi, essentially repeating what they had said the day before when he declared that first cease-fire, saying that Colonel Gadhafi would be judged on his actions, not on his words. Their assessment was that he was still in violation of his obligations under the United Nations Security Council resolution, that the mission to impose that no-fly zone would continue.

What the British government, though, has been insisting throughout the course of today and earlier CNN spoke with the British foreign minister, the British foreign secretary he's called here, William Haig, is that the limits of this mission are very clearly set out by the U.N. Resolution 1973.

They do not intend, according to the British government, to undertake regime change, for instance, in Libya. The intention is not to topple Colonel Gadhafi, as part of this mission, merely to enforce this no- fly zone. But obviously these developments in Tripoli would appear to contradict that.

LEMON: And how is the Prime Minister Cameron being kept up-to-date on what's going on? I understand there's a different time there, but I'm wondering how he's being updated and if he is aware -- I'm sure he is -- of the situation that's happening now, a huge development here, Matthew.

CHANCE: Yes, I'm absolutely certain that in a situation as imminent as this, as important as this, the British Prime Minister in his residence here behind me will be updated almost continuously, probably throughout the night. Obviously he's been meeting with his top security officials -- the head of the British Air Force, the Navy, the Army -- have been meeting here, as they say, over the course of the past few hours together with representatives of the other security services as well. And the expectation is obviously, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, will be kept fully abreast of the developments in Tripoli and elsewhere.

LEMON: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you so much joining us from 10 Downing Street in London.

Let's move on now and go to CNN's Elise Labott, she's our State Department correspondent and producer. Elise, I understand that you have been inside of this compound, the one that Nic was reporting from just moments ago and he will join us again shortly. Nic says this is a heavily fortified compound. Tell us about it.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Heavily fortified. I was in the Bab al-Aziz (ph) residence in 2008 with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she traveled there to meet with Colonel Gadhafi. It's so fortified that everyone would check all their equipments. Check at several checkpoints inside the compound. We went through several buildings. Everyone was taken through many checkpoints while we were there. All the buildings are heavily fortified.

Security is very tight; we weren't allowed to make any phone calls. They took our phones while we were there. We weren't allowed to do any live broadcasting at the time. So that when I heard that Nic was broadcasting live from this compound I really thought it was extremely extraordinary.

LEMON: And Russel Honore, General Russel Honore, said something really that struck me. He said it's either a propaganda campaign, Elise, or they wanted another strike while these journalists were inside.

LABOTT: Very possible, very possible that they wanted to make sure that there were some human shields there or possible casualties that they could say that this is not exactly against his targets. Obviously, safety is an important issue for all the journalists so not sure how much longer they'll be there, but certainly it's very extraordinary for them to bring them in.

You might remember that's the same compound that was bombed by American air strikes in 1986 during the height of tensions with Libya and Colonel Gadhafi's adopted daughter was killed there. In fact, some officials were taken to that very area while they were on the compound. So it's probably a combination of both.

LEMON: All right. Elise Labott, State Department producer, thank you very much, who has been to Moammar Gadhafi's compound. Good reporting there from her.

When we come back, on the other side of the break, we're going to talk to Retired General Russel Honore as well as the rest of our players here on CNN. Breaking news coming out of Tripoli being reported by our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, Moammar Gadhafi's compound has been attacked. It has been struck. One building suffering major damage. It's believed to be attacked by a missile. We're back in a moment with breaking news here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news here on CNN. Under attack. Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli, a likely missile attack on a building within the grounds there. CNN has not confirmed whether allied forces are responsible for it, but the coalition has said that Gadhafi is not being targeted personally. It's not clear where he is right now.

Earlier loud explosions rang out in Libya's capital city, Gadhafi's forces blasting anti-aircraft fire into the skies. We saw that yesterday, yesterday evening, and we're seeing it again today. Those are those strikes. The Libyan Army announced a ceasefire after allied forces took out most of the country's air defense capabilities. But the White House isn't buying it. U.S. President Barack Obama's national security adviser says, "It isn't true or it was immediately violated." This is, by the way, the second ceasefire Libya has declared in three days. Gadhafi's forces ignored the first one.

And Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen says the U.N.'s no-fly zone now in place. Allied strikes have done major damage to Libya's fixed air defense systems. That's according to another U.S. official and again the breaking news that we're reporting here on CNN is that Moammar Gadhafi's compound has been attacked. Not exactly sure, can't confirm, whether it was by allied forces. The U.S. and Britain have fired 124 Tomahawk missiles on key sites and the U.S. is only, is only, one of the countries taking part in this offensive.

France and Great Britain have taken major roles, Italy, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Qatar also involved. We want to get some perspective on this story now from someone with experience, he knows it, a military leader, Retired Army Lieutenant General, CNN contributor Russel Honore joins us now, live from New Orleans. And there you see Gordon Chang. Gordon writes extensively on international affairs for Forbes.com. Thanks for both of you. General Russel Honore, there is an inherent risk to going into what is perceived, obviously a war zone and into these conflicts. You said something to me that was very disturbing. Why would government officials invite reporters into Moammar Gadhafi's compound? Is it because of a propaganda campaign? And you said it's because maybe they're hoping another strike would happen with these reporters there.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. As tactical things are happening, they're playing psychological warfare, we are targeting buildings. What Nic said, two rounds in the top of a building, we've got the precision weapons system. We own - they could hit any building they wanted to. I again say that building was either key to command and control or it was a strike against those ZSU-22s for two nights who have been shooting there almost continuously and they saw that as a potential threat and those ZSU-22s have the capability to put them on the top of a building.

They may have been perceived as a threat or that building was targeted as a significant - we've been working for years now, since "Desert Storm" and last time we went into Baghdad and with the targets we focused on in North Korea to be able to do some deeply penetrating bombing. And it looked like the air force and the Navy has gotten this right. We're getting those bombs where they can penetrate a building that's well fortified and deeply into it.

So, again, it's precision. It's at night. If the target was selected, we hit that building intentionally because it was a threat to our forces, or it met the objectives which is to stop him from being able to talk to his troops in the field.

HOLMES: And general if we can - let's get the picture of Moammar Gadhafi's compound back. And I want to ask you this. Do you believe that this was allied forces? Again, I want to ask you, do you believe this strike was by allied forces?

HONORE: It plays into a scenario. We're looking for high-value targets, targets that threaten our aircraft above, targets that go after the command and control. It fits the profile. There's a no target list that's going out to all of the targeteers. And this compound where he is at the known given time, probably was on the restricted target list. As well as the hospitals and the mosques and other big apartment buildings. This target met the profile, and remember there was a lot of shooting come from that compound the last two nights.

HOLMES: OK. Your advice to reporters, journalists near that compound? What would you say to them right now? Would you get them out of there?

HONORE: I would tell them to make sure they check with the headquarters, wherever that is, and let the national leaders know that they're going out at night particularly, before and after bombings start. Because they may be being drawn in as a target. And I commend Nic and his crew for going there, but this could be a part of playing into psychological war that Gadhafi and his men are very good at playing. HOLMES: All right. Stand by. Retired General Russel Honore, we're going to need your help us get through this hour, as well as Gordon Chang who is joining us in New York. There may have been some wavering when it comes to the Arab world and the Arab league. I will ask Gordon Chang about that. You heard the news, of course, from senior White House correspondent Ed Henry, the White House working behind the scenes to shore up support in the Arab world.

Breaking news. Moammar Gadhafi's compound struck, heavily damaged. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR (on camera): Is the S.A.T. biased?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In some technical sense it's probably not a biased tests. The problems become in how it gets used in the admission process.

PERRY: Fair test is dedicated to ensuring fairness in standardized testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The purpose of the S.A.T. (INAUDIBLE) constructed was to predict college grades. So what happens is that kids of color are very often left out. They're going to be predicted to not do well when in fact they could do well.

PERRY: What's your alternative?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a list of 830 colleges for whom the test is optional. And what's been found out is that those colleges, they get in more diverse student body, the grade point average stays the same and they graduate at the same rate.

PERRY: (INAUDIBLE) from the college board, the owners of the S.A.T. disagrees.

LAURENCE BUNIN, COLLEGE BOARD: He's mistaken on this point, that the S.A.T. is absolutely predictive of how well students will do in college. Every single question on the S.A.T. is tested with real students from all races and all walks of life to ensure that every question on the S.A.T. is fair.

PERRY: So there is no group that generally outperforms all other groups?

BUNIN: There is an achievement gap in this country, not just on any one test.

PERRY: So the country is bad and the test isn't?

BUNIN: Well, the test is a fair test that helps mirror what's going on in the country. Students and parents should understand that colleges look at a variety of factors, not just a test.

PERRY: So why do we need the S.A.T.?

BUNIN: I would think that parents would be glad to know that there is a fair national test of math and English so that college admissions are not so subjective.

PERRY: Yes, that may be one thing you and I leave disagreeing on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: We're following breaking news out of Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's compound is attacked and it is really in shambles, crippled there, heavily damaged. It's believed to be by cruise missiles. Our senior international correspondent Ed Henry - excuse me, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson reporting from there live earlier, just moments ago, on CNN.

A whole lot of moving parts here happening on CNN. That is a picture of Moammar Gadhafi's compound, his crippled compound right now. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry, who is standing by traveling with the U.S. president in Latin America. You see Gordon Chang there. He's joining us from New York as well as Gen. Russel Honore, Retired General Russel Honore, joining us from New Orleans. Ed Henry traveling with the U.S. president, what do you have for us, new information?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've been pressing various senior U.S. officials for some sort of confirmation that they were either targeting Gadhafi's compound or have, in fact, hit it. Obviously Nic can see what he can see with his own eyes. Senior U.S. officials are sort of hedging on whether they were directly targeting the compound, et cetera. But one senior U.S. official when I asked, are more bombs coming, this official stressed to me, "it's ongoing." This official said, "we are hitting him very hard."

The bottom line is that various senior U.S. officials close to the administration are saying that they're stepping this up here in these next couple of days because, as we've been hearing separately from other officials on the record, like Tom Donald, in the White House national security advisor, the president wants U.S.'s lead role to be out in days, not weeks. So they basically want to hand this off in terms of enforcing the no-fly zone to other partners and allies. But over these next 24 to 48 hours, we may see an intensification of the bombing campaign before the U.S. steps aside, Don.

LEMON: OK. I have a quick question. I want to bring Gordon Chang in here. Ed, stand by. We're going to get back to you very quickly. Gordon, there was some wavering on the part of the Arab league, and that leaves the Obama administration as well as the other allied officials in a precarious position here.

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR "THE COMING COLLAPSE OF CHINA": Yes. The Arab league spokesman this afternoon said that the bombing campaign was not what the league had in mind when it asked for a no-fly zone. After that, there was another statement that confirmed the league's continued support for the no-fly zone. But clearly there's a lot of disquiet among Arab nations and I'm sure Gadhafi is going to try to split them off from the coalition.

LEMON: OK. Gordon Chang, stand by. Ed Henry, stand by. General Russel Honore, please stand by also. Back to our Nic Robertson, who is the first to report this breaking news out of Tripoli, Moammar Gadhafi's compound attacked and it is heavily damaged. Nic, tell us about your trip to the compound. What did you see?

ROBERTSON: Well, Don, the compound, is if you can imagine sort of over my shoulder in this direction, perhaps a mile, a mile and a half away. The area outside is absolutely thronging with traffic, people blaring their horns, cars parked to the side of the road. This is all pro-Gadhafi supporters come out to this palace compound area because it had been hit by a missile. That's at least what government officials tell us. And certainly the fervor and the sort of utter, utter belief that these people appear to have in Moammar Gadhafi seems to speak to that. But this compound when we went in through several layers of security, our bags scanned as you would get them scanned as an airport with a mobile scanner, we went through body scanners, then we were patted down.

A lot of soldiers around there. We noticed some of them were wearing helmets where they hadn't been wearing helmets the night before. Then we were taken to an area inside the compound about 50 yards from a tent described to us as the famous tent where Moammar Gadhafi entertains his visitors. Then we were shown a building, a four-story building, that had been hit by what appeared to be at least two large missiles, ripped apart, Don.

LEMON: All right. Nic Robertson, we're going to hear more about your trip to the compound. Nic Robertson, one of the reporters inside Moammar Gadhafi's heavily damaged compound. More of Nic's story right after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The breaking news here on CNN is Moammar Gadhafi's compound heavily damaged, it is believed by missiles. Worldwide resources of CNN on top of this story, including our reporters, our contributors and our correspondents. Some of them traveling with the U.S. president. There you see one in New Orleans, one in New York and one in Latin America. Now to the person who visited the compound, who broke this story, Nic Robertson. Nic, continue on your tour of what you saw.

ROBERTSON: Well, Don, the building that we saw was a four-story building, perhaps 50 to 75 yards long. The roof had had been hit by two - what appeared to be two missiles, and judging from the fragments that were pulled out of the building, they were looked like cruise missile. I've seen cruise missiles before and certainly some of the parts, we've got a motor that appears to drive wing of one of the cruise missiles. So it certainly looks like cruise missiles.

The roof of the building, this heavy concrete structure collapsed forward like this so you had two holes in it. The roof folded down over two floors of the building. The lower part, the lower floors, ripped apart in the middle of the building. Other parts of the building more - the windows blown out, the walls ripped apart. You could still see inside those rooms. The building was described to us an area that Moammar Gadhafi's special guests and visitors wait in before they go and visit with him in his tent which is about 50 yards away. He has a tent that's his traditional way of greeting people. We went into several other -

LEMON: Nic, I hate to cut you off but we've got to get to a break here. Nic, I understand, viewers, please I want to tell that you we're awaiting video as well at any moment from what Nic saw inside of Moammar Gadhafi's compound. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson after back the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back now to our breaking news and our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. Nic, what will this tape show when we see it in just moments?

ROBERTSON: You'll see a four-story building heavily smashed, apparently by two cruise missiles in the heart of Moammar Gadhafi's palace compound right in the heart of Tripoli. A lot of soldiers around that compound, heavy anti-aircraft batteries in that area as well but it will show you the scale of destruction that's now being meted out to Moammar Gadhafi in a very personal way, targeting his compound, a building that he uses where he's recently had the Indian ambassador, the Chinese ambassador, and the Russian ambassador were in that building just several days ago. A building that Moammar Gadhafi uses for his special guests. This is a building that will strike right at the heart - the heart here of his security right in the middle of Tripoli, Don.

LEMON: All right. Nic Robertson touring Moammar Gadhafi's very heavily damaged compound.

I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Wolf Blitzer brings you a CNN special "Libya at War" next right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)