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Stealth Bombers Join Air Assault on Libya's Military; Gadhafi Remains Defiant

Aired March 20, 2011 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: A new chapter for Libya being written by coalition planes and missiles. Stealth bombers joining the assault as the international community enforces a cease-fire -- but Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is not folding.


GADHAFI (through translator): We will be victorious. We will achieve victory on behalf of the people. We have Allah with us. You have the devil on your side.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: In Japan, pulling survivors from the rubble -- an amazing story. People found alive nine days after the disaster.

HOLMES: Hello to you all. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm T.J. Holmes.

And also saying hello, Richard, who is in London today.

Hey there.

QUEST: Good day you to, T.J.

Richard Quest in London. And we'd like to welcome as well viewers not only in the United States but around the world. This is CNN's special coverage.

HOLMES: Well, we'll check in with Richard in a moment. But we don't what to first get you caught up with some of the new information we have on Libya.

We are hearing about new strikes today by coalition aircraft, more specifically, 19 American warplanes including stealth bombers are getting involved. Our people at the Pentagon telling us that American Harrier jets launched from the Mediterranean are firing on government ground troops.


HOLMES: It is being dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn. The coalition forces began the assault with American and British cruise missiles and French planes. They're targeting anti-aircraft and missile sites controlled by Moammar Gadhafi.

One of the main areas of interest has been Benghazi. This has been the opposition's stronghold. It has been the site of heavy fighting between opposition and government forces. "AFP" now reporting that 94 people were killed in fighting there since a new assault was launched two days ago by Gadhafi's forces.

In an interview this morning, U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, now says the coalition attacks have effectively stopped that assault. And our Candy Crowley is talking to Admiral Mullen on "STATE OF THE UNION." That's coming up in just about an hour here on CNN. You'll be able to catch that.

Also, a short time ago, we heard from Libyan leader himself, Moammar Gadhafi, who said plenty -- had plenty to say about these coalition strikes.


GADHAFI (through translator): If the men were to be killed, the women will take over. We will hold the green flag high. They must know today that it is a confrontation between the Libyan people and America, France, and Britain and the Christian pact. All the Libyans women and women are ready today to be martyrs. But we will -- we will be victorious. We -- you will be defeated.


HOLMES: Gadhafi also said the aggressors would never lay a hand on his land or soul.

But as, Richard, as I hand it over to you, as you've been pointing out today, this was an audio message. We didn't see him. So, it's tough to independently confirm, even if we do believe it's him. We didn't see him this time.

QUEST: No, we didn't. And that's something we'll be looking at that in the hours ahead, T.J. Colonel Gadhafi, that defiance that we heard in the face of overnight coalition strikes and activity which continue this Sunday.

Our CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson is monitoring the situation. He's in the Libyan capital. Nic is with me now.

And the very -- I mean, bellicose comments, the strong comments that we hear from Colonel Gadhafi are nothing new. But did you see any change in tone there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What he is trying to do here, Richard, is cast this as a crusader war, cast this as Christians against Muslims. What he is trying to do is rally not only his own people to him but rally regional support.

And certainly these are themes that have run through the tapes of his speeches over the past several decades, particularly when the country was undergoing international isolation. And these themes are now emerging very strong and very centrally. He's telling the people of Libya that not only are the people of Africa and Asia or the Middle East behind them, but there are also people in Europe that support Libya at this time.

It's very interesting that on state television last night, pretty much as soon as those cruise missiles began hitting in and around Tripoli, there were images played on state television of Palestinian youth throwing rocks at Israeli troops in Jerusalem. And that's sort of an indication of that sort of wider theme that he is trying to bring on more Arab support. What he said that we are the victims and the victims, he said, are always victorious.


GADHAFI (through translator): We will be victorious. We will achieve victory on behalf of the people. We have Allah with us. You have the devil on your side.

What right have you got to attack our people? Who gave you that right? Who are you? You backward, barbarics.

This is an aggression that has no justification, this is -- this monstrosity. We are -- we will hold to our land, to our rights. We will fight inch by inch. This land has been stained with the blood of our people, our leaders, our forefathers.


ROBERTSON: And state television reporting that the people who were killed in the strikes last night, their funerals will be later this afternoon, Richard.

QUEST: Nic Robertson, who's in Tripoli in the Libyan capital this morning.

HOLMES: We turn now to U.S. President Obama. He is keeping tabs on the situation with Libya while he's on a three-nation diplomatic swing through Latin America.

CNN's senior White House correspondent Ed Henry is traveling with the president. And he joins us from Rio de Janeiro this morning.

Ed, hello to you.

I was talking just a short time ago to a former General Wesley Clark. He acknowledged -- yes, the president is trying. He is trying to make sure this doesn't appear to be a U.S. effort or a U.S.-led effort when it comes to Libya. But he said because of the capabilities the U.S. has and the military has, it doesn't have a choice but to be a U.S.-led military effort.

How are they trying to balance this or play this at least behind the scenes there with the White House staff?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right, T.J. It's a delicate balance. Interesting that first warplanes to jump into the fray yesterday were not American, they were French warplanes. But you're right, as General Clark suggested, right after that, it was the U.S. launching more than 100 cruise missiles, using B-2 bombers. And so, the U.S., with its massive military power, is, of course, going to play a major role here.

But I can tell you how they're playing in the administration. Senior officials here traveling with the president insist that the U.S. is only going to take a lead role for a few days. And then slip back into the background and let other nations as part of this coalition take the lead.

Interesting that president revealed to the world that the U.S. -- that he had authorized U.S. military action as part of this mission on the same day as the eighth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Perhaps why the president was so careful in saying this is a broad coalition, not unilateral U.S. action and kept stressing those allies.

Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am deeply aware of any risks of any military action, no matter limits we placed on them. I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it's not a choice that I make lightly.

But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misrata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.

So, we must be clear: actions have consequences and the writ of the international community must be enforced.


QUEST: And that's President Obama. We're leaving Ed Henry for a moment in Rio because Arwa Damon, our correspondent in the eastern part of Tripoli, is on the line. She is on the road outside Benghazi with a convoy that was just hit.

Arwa, what can you tell us?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Richard, according to eyewitnesses, this convoy was hit by fighter jets at around 5:30, 6:00 in the morning. The vehicle, the debris is strewn over an area that stretches for kilometers. There are at least 40 vehicles, military vehicles that we counted here -- anywhere from trucks carrying ammunition to tanks with their turrets blown off. We've seen at least four charred bodies. We're told that there are many more.

This is a convoy of Gadhafi's military that eyewitnesses are saying that was trying to make yet another advance on to Benghazi. We have been hearing fighter jets overhead in the early hours of the morning. We're still hearing them overhead right now.

This appears to have been caused by a number of strikes given the scope and the breadth of the destruction that, really -- I mean, it stretches for about as far as eye can see. People now have gathered around the various burning vehicles. They've gathered around the bodies.

They had one message and that is thank you. And they want the world to know that this strike by those foreign fighter jets has been right on target. They want to make that very clear because they know that Gadhafi's propaganda machine has been saying that Western powers have been hitting civilian locations and have been causing civilian casualties. They want people to know this was a strike right on a military convoy that, again, as we were saying, appeared to be making an advance on Benghazi, Richard.

QUEST: Briefly -- very briefly, Arwa, as a result of those military strikes and what you're seeing with this attacked convoy, so one assumes that the attack on Benghazi has at least been halted for the time being.

DAMON: Exactly, Richard. That is exactly what has taken place. Many people will say to you if the foreign fighter jets weren't in the air, if these strikes hadn't been happening, there would be a battery raging for Benghazi once again.

When the battles took place yesterday, opposition forces managed to push back Gadhafi's army but only barely. Gadhafi's military machine, as we have been seeing, has been advancing on the poorly- trained, poorly-equipped opposition fighters.


DAMON: But right now, we have the evidence of what happens as a result of modern foreign warfare -- Richard.

QUEST: Arwa Damon, who is in eastern Libya for us this morning.

Now, the U.S. and its allies are targeting Libya. We'll have in- depth look at the Libyan targets, the coalition assets that are being used in the opposition -- all of which, of course, raises the very real question: however this plays out, what does it mean for the people of Libya and what does Gadhafi do next?

We're talking strategy with retired U.S. military general, Wesley Clark, after this very short break.


QUEST: Welcome back. It's our coverage on the civil war in Libya.

And we need to consider the no-fly zone and the effectiveness, whether or not it will slow down Gadhafi's forces. And if they do manage to that -- well, what's the end game anyway? On the line now, joining me, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis, internationally known, his expertise on national security and foreign affairs. He joins me from Washington. Good morning to you.

We need to begin. The chief of the U.S. forces says that there's been significant progress and that the U.S. and its allies have managed to create the no fly zone. Are you surprised at this early stage at that progress?

ROBERT MAGINNIS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, not at all, Richard. The fact is with 100-plus Tomahawk missiles, with a lot of aircraft, a variety from, you know, what the U.S., the Brits, and the French have been using, you would expect significant damage early on. I'm sure the Global Hawk is up. I'm sure we're assessing via satellite, looking at all the air defense command and control.

And, of course, we just heard the report from your person on the ground there about hitting a convoy. All good news. All to be expected. Air wars do that.

QUEST: All right. But, Colonel, if you're aware, this only goes so far, doesn't it? Because -- what happens next?

MAGINNIS: Well, what happens next is really the strategy question. In fact, are we going to go in on the ground? If so, in what numbers?

The president said on Friday, we're not going to send U.S. troops on the ground. But the Brits and the French and others have been silent. Are we going to have an Arab ally that's going to perhaps come from maybe even Egypt? We don't know these details as yet. They aren't announced.

But if you don't have people on the ground, unless Gadhafi, is you know, just surrenders because of the air pressure which we didn't see elsewhere in the world, then perhaps a ground operation will become absolutely necessary. Otherwise, perhaps the strategy is we back out. We allow some sort of compromise, split the baby here. Let Benghazi have their own government and Tripoli have theirs.

QUEST: But you are putting on the table, if you like, the elephant in the living room which is -- which is troops on the ground. Now, you've got President Obama saying that's not part of the strategy.

Do you believe that military men and women are secretly saying, you got to be joking, you know it has to be part of the strategy?

MAGINNIS: Well, it depends if you want regime removal as your strategy here, and then to install a new government in Tripoli. Clearly, Gadhafi and his forces are primarily defending Tripoli, even though there's air defense gunfire around that city.

If you don't remove the regime, then you're going to settle with something less. And that something less may end up being Gadhafi continues and then morphs back into what he was before 2004, a purveyor of weapons of mass destruction, a terrorist supporter. Remember Pan Am 103? That may be the future if we don't stop him now.

QUEST: We appreciate your insight this morning, Colonel Robert Maginnis in Washington -- thank you, sir.

MAGINNIS: Thank you, Richard.

HOLMES: Well, we have been hearing about fighter jets and dozens of cruise missiles. But what else is being used in this Operation Odyssey Dawn? We're taking a closer look at this mission and also the targets. That is next.

You are watching CNN.


QUEST: Back to the situation in Libya now in the first hours of the Operation Odyssey Dawn, coalition forces fired more than 100 cruise missiles. French planes also attacked from the air. It was widespread.

CNN's chief national correspondent John King now with a closer look at the targets and some of the coalition assets that are being used in Operation Odyssey Dawn.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is called Operation Odyssey Dawn. And the initial targets mostly along the northern Libyan coastline. Why? Well, those, of course, are the major cities, the major oil and gas installations and, of course, the political capital, Tripoli.

But the reason those targets were along the coast in the early days is because this is where Moammar Gadhafi has his most powerful weaponry that could be used -- could be used -- against coalition pilots, the purple circle, S-200, in U.S. military lingo, S-5. NATO called them Russian-made surface-to-air missiles with a range of 150 miles. Those were the biggest targets in the initial strikes and those will continue to be targeted.

The other smaller targets, other surface-to-air missiles, anti- aircraft batteries that Gadhafi has at his disposal again. Again, those will be the top targets early on because of their ability to shoot down coalition planes.

Now, they were targeted -- first, there was some firings from French fighter jets. But most of this was done, the bulk of this was done using cruise missiles. We can show you where they came from. They came from offshore, the USS Florida, the USS Providence, the USS Scranton, three submarines in the United States Navy, that carry Tomahawk cruise missiles. A British sub also took part.

The guided missile destroyers, the USS Barry and the USS Stout also taking part in the operation from the Mediterranean. What I do they all have in common? They fire the Tomahawk cruise missile.

You see this photo taking off from the U.S. Barry. Here's what a Tomahawk looks like. It's programmed on the sub or on the ship, flies low to the ground. There is a newer version that has an optics package so he can hover over a target and be programmed and then take off -- we are told in the initial wave of the programming was done back on the ship or in the sub. But that is an option that can be used heading forward.

Now, again, the cruise missiles came from the Berry and the Stout, but there are other U.S. ships in the Mediterranean, and the amphibious assault ship, although the president has said under no circumstances would any troops, including Marines, go ashore.

Command and control ship, the Mount Whitney, very important in the early days of the operation. And an amphibious transport dock, the Ponce, is also there to help support the operation.

Those are among the U.S. ships. There are also a number of Canadian, British ships in the area. And we know in the days ahead, a French aircraft carrier is also coming in from Toulon, the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Those French jets that launched the first strikes, they came from up here in France.

And if you look at this map, this is the Libyan coast right down in here. This is where this operation will be run from in the days ahead. A number of NATO and U.S. installations in Italy, a U.S. naval air station in Spain as well -- this is where all the assets will be coordinated in the days ahead. As we are told, the operations that begun in the first wave will continue, especially targeting along the coast in the early days.

And then when the no-fly zone kicks in, not only will United States, Canada, Spain, France, Italy and Great Britain take part, we are also told to look for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to use their air force to help enforce that no-fly zone over Libya.


HOLMES: Let's turn to get more on this military action as we bring in once again General Wesley Clark, retired U.S. general. He's a former NATO supreme allied commander in Europe, currently senior fellow at the Center for International Relations. He is joining us once again from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Sir, good to have you back here with us. I want to pick up on a point that Richard was having -- a conversation he was having a moment ago with retired Lieutenant Colonel Maginnis, talking about the possibility of ground troops. And, certainly, the U.S. President Obama has said there will be no U.S. troops on the ground. Other nations haven't necessarily committed to that.

So, as you see it, do you see ground troops being a viable option? A good option? Maybe a necessary one or maybe even an inevitable one? GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, FMR. NATO SUPREME ALLIED CMDR.: Well, I think people would be thinking about this. The U.N. Security Council resolution says no foreign military occupation. It doesn't say you can't put troops temporarily on the ground.

We know from the early days there were reports of British special operations forces, the SAS that were -- that went in to Benghazi to coordinate with the government there. We don't know if they're still there. There may be. So, there maybe some ground troops already in there but not an occupation.

But I was -- I was encouraged, T.J., by the recent news we got about the column of Libyan armored vehicles that was struck by coalition air this morning, that blocked that inference and stopped an attack, presumably aimed right at Benghazi this morning. And that indicates that air power can be effective from the air against ground forces in the right circumstances. And the right circumstances were present for air and it will effective this morning against Gadhafi's forces.

HOLMES: And, General, we hear from the coalition members of -- the French president came out and spoke about it, the U.S. president has spoken about it as well, what the goal here is, to stop these attacks on the citizens of Libya, the innocent folks of Libya.

But, in your opinion, do you find the mission -- or you would say or if you were in that position, in charge, you would say that the goal is much wider than that? I guess, what would your mission be beyond what we're hearing from the politicians?

CLARK: Well, I think the political leaders have to narrow the mission as much as possible to enable some room for diplomacy to work.

But behind the scenes, I think people are very concerned about the threats that Gadhafi made, his past character, record of his actions indicate that should he stay in power, he'll seek revenge not only against his own people but against the international community. And that could take the form of terrorism or other acts. And so, I think people understand that there are very high stakes here played.

HOLMES: Do you think this is giving the rebels time as well? The opposition forces there who, as we've been hearing, they're not the best-armed group of folks. A lot of these are self-trained young men who just joined into the fight. But now that they're getting air cover, if you will, this air support -- is this giving them time to recover and regroup and will be able to help them maybe take on the fight once again on their own more so down the road?

CLARK: I think that certainly, they can use the time to recover and issue weapons and do some rudimentary training. But you're not going to build an effective armed forces in a day or week or even a month. It takes leadership. It takes a sustained period of preparation, and it can take years. This is what we've seen proven in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, I think what you're seeing now is a space in which we're trying to persuade Gadhafi that he really has no recourse against the international community, that military power, the coalition is overwhelming. He's not going to be able to continue the attack on the ground. He can be defiant. But he best come to terms with this, cease the aggression and protect civilians.

And, by the way, as the president of the United States has said, that doesn't just include Benghazi. It includes the other areas that he's occupied. So, places like Misrata.

And so, I would expect that there be an international legal effort underway very soon also against Gadhafi.

HOLMES: All right. General Wesley Clark, again us from Little Rock, Arkansas, this morning -- thank you so much.

CLARK: Thank you.

HOLMES: Richard?

QUEST: Now, it is defiance led to the military strikes against Libya. And now, the leader Moammar Gadhafi is criticizing world leaders for doing nothing to stop it. We get reaction to that in a moment.

Also, search and recovery in Japan after the devastating earthquake and the tsunami. And an amazing rescue -- we will bring you the story of two people who survived. Not just survived, they were trapped for nine days. We'll have the latest on their condition.

Around the world, around the clock, CNN.


HOLMES: We are following new and fast moving developments in Libya today. More air strikes now targeting Libyan government troops on the ground.

Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes from CNN's Center in Atlanta.

QUEST: And it's good afternoon from London. I'm Richard Quest in the UK where we also like to welcome viewers not just in the United States but around the world. Our special coverage is continuing here on CNN, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. And we do for our viewers want to get you all caught up on some of the new information we have right now in Libya before we head back over to Richard here in just a moment.

We're hearing about new air strikes today by coalition aircraft, specifically 19 American warplanes, including stealth bombers involved. Our people at the Pentagon telling us that American Harrier jets launched from the Mediterranean are now firing on government ground troops.

What you're seeing here is new video of the Harriers being loaded with munitions onboard one of those American ships. Well you saw that just a moment ago here. Strikes today tore through a military convoy near Benghazi that is the city that has been at the heart of this opposition movement.

Our Damon -- our Arwa Damon has been there. She is reporting from there and says the coalition attack on Colonel Gadhafi's army left a mass of burning vehicles and bodies.

Now, you're getting a look here and getting a listen at how Operation: Odyssey Dawn started, American and British cruise missiles being fired from ships and submarines on the Mediterranean. Those missiles struck nearly 20 critical sites around the country of Libya.

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen telling CNN that a no-fly zone is effectively in place now over Libya. You can see a full interview with the Joint Chiefs Chairman with our Candy Crowley; that's coming up on "STATE OF THE UNION". That's coming your way here on CNN in just about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, a short time ago we heard from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi who had plenty to say about these coalition strikes. Let's take a listen.


MOAMMAR GADHAFIN, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): We will be victorious. We will achieve victory on behalf of the people. We have Allah with us; you have the devil on your side.

What right have you got to attack our people? Who gave you that right? Who are you -- you backward barbarians? This is an aggression that has no justification. This is -- this monstrosity. We are -- we will hold to our land, to our rights. We will fight inch by inch.

This land has been stained with the blood of our people, our leaders, our forefathers.


HOLMES: Now, that was part of an audio message that was released earlier today that we heard. Gadhafi also said in it that the aggressors would never lay a hand on his land or his oil -- Richard.

QUEST: Now the decision to launch this military strikes against Libya, it all followed a high-level meeting in Paris. And it was in Paris that the plan to enforce U.N. Resolution 1973 was actually put together. This is a true coalition on both sides of the Atlantic. It was all done in something of a hurry after the U.N. did pass Resolution 1973.

Our senior international correspondent in Paris is Jim Bitterman; he joins me now. It was put together fast and seemingly implemented even quicker. But Jim, there are still critics who say that what they did in the last 24, 48, 24 hours should have been done seven days ago.

JIM BITTERMAN, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Well, I think that could be said and certainly President Sarkozy for one was saying that. Because he was trying to get things going with the United Nations resolution even before it was passed and -- and wanted to get this meeting together even faster than it came together.

But nonetheless, the world's diplomats and political leaders did come together on this. And I think probably what we're seeing is in time because as you reported, Arwa Damon says that a big column of -- of Libyan army troops were stopped by coalition forces just in the last few hours.

Plus, that we heard from Admiral Mike Mullen that in fact that the Benghazi area now is -- there's a no-fly zone that's been established there and that there's no further military -- Libyan army military progress being made.

So, in fact, it does look like the help has come in time at least in time for those that are still willing to fight -- Richard.

QUEST: Jim, the no-fly zone, as you rightly point out, the Joint Chiefs says is partially in place or in place and there is significant progress taking place. But -- but in many ways, it -- all -- we -- we keep going in circles with this -- with this questioning because everybody really needs to know what the leaders and the Europeans want to do next.

BITTERMAN: Well, the -- the key leaders, David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy are pretty committed to this. And they -- they are certainly committed on the ground with a number of forces that they got involved. Other leaders may be wavering to some extent wanting to see how this goes. And -- as I mentioned earlier, in fact, there are some -- some nations now are only just now coming into this coalition to join forces.

So at -- at one -- at least one in particular, Germany, is staying out completely. We're also seeing Russia staying out, China staying out, and in fact, mildly critic -- criticizing the operation saying that they regret the fact that it's taking place. But they did abstain when the Security Council voted.

So nonetheless, there is some dissention in the ranks there. It appeared from what Moammar Gadhafi was trying to say this morning that he was trying to add -- exacerbate those divisions, trying to see if there are any breaks in the ranks. The fact is though up until now it's far too early to -- to see that. I think maybe down the line this drags on for a while -- that could change. But for the moment, it doesn't appear to be anything but a unified front.

QUEST: Jim Bitterman in Paris, keep watching the European reaction and when there is more to tell us, please come back to us immediately. Thank you.

HOLMES: Well, we will have more about the ongoing military campaign against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

Also we'll have the very latest for you out of Japan. Where there have some -- been some encouraging -- would you believe that -- some encouraging news this morning including the rescue of two survivors who have been trapped in their home for more than nine days. We'll have their condition and a whole lot more. That is next.

You are watching CNN.


HOLMES: Now coming up at just about 20 minutes from now, 9:00 Eastern, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley and the host is joining us live from Washington with a preview.

QUEST: Good morning, Candy. When you'll be talking to Admiral Mike Mullen, the military operation in Libya, the Energy Secretary Steven Chu about Japan's nuclear crisis, it's a busy morning for you.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": It is indeed. And in fact, we have just finished talking to Admiral Mullen about what's going on. He had very positive news saying that no-fly zone is in effect, at least over Benghazi. They -- they feel that they have seriously deteriorated what anti-aircraft missiles that -- that Gadhafi may have had but obviously some of them are mobile. And those remain a bit of a problem.

Talked about the operation in general when it may be over, it was a fascinating interview. He was a very straight forward guy. So we'll have the totality of that coming up.

Steven Chu, obviously, you can't turn away from Japan with an incredible catastrophe as we watch these nuclear reactors and things do seem to be improving at least from here.

HOLMES: And Candy, you just mentioned there, you talked about -- the Admiral Mike Mullen at least talked about the possibility of -- of when -- how long this would go on. Did you get any kind of sense -- and we'll see the few -- the full interview here in a bit. But any sense of if -- he sounds like we're in -- the U.S. is in this for the long haul.

CROWLEY: Well, he very definitely was on the same page as the President which is we want to begin to back off. And -- and mentioned that the U.S. right now is -- you know, taking the lead in terms of coordination but does not want that to be. And they're now trying to figure out where Central Command will be and who will be in charge of that.

But certainly in terms of hey, when is this mission over? Do you want Gadhafi gone? If that one is over, there -- it was a lot more diplomatic, I think, than military.

QUEST: Candy Crowley, thank you. I look forward to seeing you soon.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Richard.

HOLMES: Yes, it will be very soon, Candy. Because you could all keep it right here for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starting in just about 17 minutes from now right here on CNN. QUEST: Now sooner than that, the latest developments in Japan we will bring to your attention including this extraordinary story, heart-warming to say the very least, the rescue of two disaster survivors trapped in their home for more than a week. We'll tell you how they're doing, after the break.


QUEST: Japan getting hit in the past 45 minutes with another large earthquake, this one a magnitude 6.1. It was centered near the East Coast of Honshu (ph). There is no word of any damage yet.

After so much devastation and danger comes word of an incredible rescue, nine days after the historic quake and the tsunami which followed. The Red Cross says an 81-year-old grandmother and her 16- year-old grandson were found on Sunday in a house that had been destroyed in the disaster. We're told the boy crawled to the roof of the home and flagged down rescuers. The boy has hypothermia. His grandmother is said to be in fairly good condition, all things considered.

Now on the other part of this story, the efforts to prevent nuclear meltdown at the nuclear plant in Japan; those efforts do appear to be paying off, at least. The pressure in Reactor Number Three, we're told, has stabilized.

HOLMES: Well, it seems from those two stories there, there might be some good news finally coming out of Japan, those two being rescued, of course, and what's happening at that nuclear plant. This still could be the most critical problem facing the country is what is happening at that plant.

Joined by once again Jim Walsh, who's an expert in international security and a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jim, always good to have you here with us. I kind of started with you yesterday with this same question. Give me the good news.

JIM WALSH, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Well, the good news is -- remember we started out with six problems -- six different reactors were having problems. So that's narrowed. The problems haven't gone away. But they've narrowed, which is always a good thing.

So at Reactors Four and Five which had some nuclear waste spent fuel pond problems, they got the cooling system going there. That's a huge victory. They're trying to get electricity. Well, they've gotten electricity to Reactor Two. They don't know if everything is going to work but at least they have electricity working. And the hope is to nail down Reactors One and Two. So, that takes away four of the problems.

That still leaves two problems: Reactors Three and Four. And four where there is spent fuel and that's been the chief concern from, you know, going back four or five days, that's still a problem. And how that's going to be resolved remains to be defined. HOLMES: We don't know how to fix that problem then, is that what you're saying?

WALSH: Well, I'm saying there's a disagreement, first of all, about the nature of the problem. Is there a hole in that spent fuel pond? Is it leaking out? Every time you pour water in, is all that water leaking out. Japanese officials and American officials seem to have different points of view about that.

And if there is a hole, then the question, is you know, how are you going to fix it? How do you get close enough to fix it? That's the story to watch. That's the danger to watch as we go forward.

Now, let me quickly add, progress, progress, but it's tenuous, you know. We can wake up tomorrow and there could be a hydrogen explosion somewhere or a new thing that we hadn't expected. But we're moving in the right direction. But we still have a big problem to solve which is Reactor Four.

HOLMES: What are we getting in terms of those radiation readings around some of these reactors?

WALSH: Well, I think that's good news. I think they've stabilized. You know, the news in Japan is you're getting these stories about food, radiation in the food chain. I think that's going to be more of an issue -- psychological issue and economic issue than a health issue. But the government is going to have to grapple with what to do about that.

If they outlaw all the produce from that region, that pretty much is putting the stamp of death on those farmers. They're never going to be able to sell any produce. What happens if it starts to pop-up at more places? You can't, you know -- they have a tough public policy problem right now about what to do with a very, very small amounts of radiation that are showing up in food and other samples.

HOLMES: Is this plant still at risk from earthquakes? We keep seeing earthquake -- significant ones, around 6.0, 6.1; I mean could those still rattle this thing to the point you might make enough progress and then we end up going backwards again?

WALSH: I don't think you can rule that out. You know, part of the deal is here, we know that we don't have electricity at most of the reactors. Now we're starting to address that. That's necessary but not sufficient. You have to have the electricity and the cables and the switches and the pumps and it may be that follow up earthquakes would make it difficult to, you know, some of these things may be on the edge. They suffer another shake. And, you know, they're pushed over the edge and then you can't get them working. So, I think it's possible but we just don't know the answer to that question.

HOLMES: How much time -- this might be a tough question here. How much time are we looking at before I could have you on the air here and you say, ok, they got it now. You guys don't need to have me on as an expert anymore? WALSH: I'm never going to say that, number one. But number two, I would divide that into two parts. As far as stabilizing Reactors, One, Two, Three that were the active reactors at the time of the earthquake, I think that might be, you know, keep your fingers crossed, might be a relatively short period of time where we can say we can declare victory there. This Reactor Number Four with the spent fuel pond, much more iffy, hard to say.

HOLMES: All right. James Walsh, always good to have you. Good to have you here in the studio with us in Atlanta. Thanks so much.

And a lot of people out there have been asking about how they can help out the people of this earthquake, tsunami. You can go to for a list of ways that you can, in fact, make a difference. You're watching CNN.


HOLMES: Well, the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi responding to the military strikes against his forces, spoke earlier Sunday after French, U.S., and British planes pounded critical targets in his country.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): We promise you a long-drawn war and patience that has no limit and belief, deep belief. We are not disturbed. We are not worried. We are not afraid.


HOLMES: The strikes have taken out most of Libya's air defense systems and some air fields. Libyan troops near Benghazi also were hit -- Richard.

QUEST: The perspective of what it's actually like on the ground, the situation at the moment in Libya. We needed to talk to someone who is living in Tripoli. So I spoke to a woman earlier this morning. This is what she had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the last hour, there was a huge fire somewhere in the central area that it is believed it's coming out from an intelligence building. Just right after the fire started we could hear ambulance and there's a lot, a lot of police cars speeding towards where the fire started.

QUEST: And are you hearing the sound of aircraft going overhead? Any anti aircraft fire from the ground?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It stopped in early morning. We couldn't hear anything after 4:00 a.m.

QUEST: Right. So would you say that it was a fairly noisy night then that you -- that you suffered?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be honest, I was asleep. I woke up from the sound of the explosion. I tried to run and see what's happening, and I could see -- I saw actually one of the explosions, one of the fires. It was a very scary thing especially that there is an anti- aircraft shooting against it.

And I saw a couple of the -- I don't know what to call it, but it was a very bright light, and I could see -- see some of the event, I saw them.

QUEST: How has the mood in Tripoli that you can best gauge from you, your family, your friends; how has that mood shifted in the last 24 hours?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not -- we haven't expected things to speed up this quickly. To be honest, most of us are still in trauma; we're shocked. We're all home. We're scared. We don't know what's going to happen next.

We're not scared of what the international community or what the -- the flights will strike. We're scared what would be the domestic reaction toward those strikes.

QUEST: Forgive me for pushing a bit harder -- in what way. I mean what's your fear basically here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My personal fear for his speech to become -- to imply in Tripoli where he said that he's going to come in each alley, in each house, in each room and kill everyone who's against him. To be honest, I'm scared for my life.


QUEST: A witness in Tripoli. Now you'll understand that her identity is not being disclosed for obvious safety reasons.

We will have more on the Allied air assault on Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. His reaction to the air strikes next in this morning's top stories on CNN.


HOLMES: I want to say thank you to my colleague and partner Richard Quest being with me on this Sunday morning. Richard, it's been an absolute pleasure this morning. Too bad the news isn't better and a lot of stuff going on in the world. But it's been good being here and working with you.

QUEST: Indeed. Thank you very much for having me along for the ride.

HOLMES: Along for the ride, indeed it was. Thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Meanwhile, to our viewers, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley is coming up in just a moment.

We'll give you a look though at some the stories we're keeping a close eye on.

Of course, in Libya Moammar Gadhafi issuing that defiant rebuke to the international community saying in part, aggressors would never lay a hand on his land or his soil.

Also today, U.S. warplanes joined the fight in Libya. Military saying that 19 U.S. warplanes including F-15s, F-16s, stealth bombers conducted air strikes against Libyan air defenses. Admiral Mike Mullen telling CNN no-fly zone is now effectively in place.

Also in Japan, the death toll continues to rise. It is up to more than 8,200 now. We have good news today, two survivors were found after nine days trapped.

That's going to do it for us here. I do want to hand it over now to Candy Crowley and "STATE OF THE UNION".