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How The Gulf War Began. Aired 4-4:24a ET
Aired May 15, 2023 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I`m Coy Wire, and welcome to a special extended edition of CNN 10. Now, you may not know this, but this
program that you`re watching right now started all the way back in 1989 when CNN launched a news program designed for the classroom.
A year later, though, tensions in the Persian Gulf would result in the first major international crisis since the Cold War. In August 1990, Saddam
Hussein, the leader of Iraq, ordered an invasion of neighboring Kuwait with the apparent goal of controlling the nation`s oil reserves.
The U.S. led response would set the precedent for the use of military force for decades to come. On the brink of what would be known as the Gulf War,
journalists were urged to leave Iraq. CNN stayed and became the first network to live broadcast a war.
In this special edition of CNN 10, we`ll look back and hear CNN news anchor Bernard Shaw famously say the skies of Baghdad are being illuminated and
relive the tense moments during the CNN broadcast as journalists hid under beds to stay live on the air, bombs falling around the city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was January 1991, the U.S. economy was sinking into recession. Mob boss John Gotti, The Teflon Don had recently been arrested
on charges that would lead to life imprisonment. Macaulay Culkin faced off with criminals in the first home alone. And President George H.W. Bush
edged towards war in the Persian Gulf. Then one early January morning in Baghdad CNN reported that the sky --
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated. We`re seeing bright planes of missile.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And an explosive development near the Persian Gulf, word that Iraq has invaded neighboring State of Kuwait with fighting reported
along the border, the residents say that they were awakened by machine gunfire and heavy artillery. For weeks, 100,000 Iraqi troops have been
reported massing near the border. Arab countries have been trying this month to defuse this building crisis.
In Washington, the White House is condemning the invasion, calling for Iraq to withdraw its forces immediately. The U.S. is also calling for an
emergency U.N. Security Council session.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The Security Council passed sanctions no more trade with Iraq, a boycott of Iraqi oil, a ban on arms
sales, a ban on financial aid and investment. But will the sanctions work?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, America stops mulling over its options, reportedly sending United States warplanes and combat troops into Saudi
GEORGE H. W. BUSH, PRESIDENT: We seek the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the beginning of the Gulf crisis, the underlying rationale for stopping Saddam Hussein has been oil. The oil dependent world
doesn`t want a single man with a big army to control the flow from the Gulf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the Operation Desert Shield deadline less than three weeks away, diplomats and journalists are ready to leap at any trace
of activity that might lead to the bargaining table.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless Saddam Hussein withdraws from Kuwait by late winter, the U.S. will go to war.
DAVID FRENCH, CNN HOST: The Bush White House now says war with Iraq could begin at any moment. It took six months to come to this, but as our Senior
White House Correspondent Charles Bierbauer reports, President Bush believed early on in this crisis that it would ultimately be settled with
CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: White House officials say even now, Saddam Hussein could avoid a war with a massive
pullout of his forces. And yet the Bush administration does not expect that.
CHARLES JACO, CNN SAUDI ARABIA: Good evening, or rather good morning from Saudi Arabia, where it`s now a quarter after two in the morning. The latest
briefing we`ve received from the military command here in Saudi Arabia was on the number of troops here and apparently there`s a total of 425,000 U.S.
Troops here. That`s an increase of 10,000 over the last time we were briefed. The total multinational force here on the ground is about 690,000.
FRENCH: With us now is Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense during both Reagan administrations. Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming.
CASPAR WEINBERGER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Thank you.
FRENCH: Secretary Weinberger, you were credited with the military buildup which is being put to use but there is one area which has come to a lot of
criticism. We have to go to Baghdad, Secretary. We`re going to Bernard Shaw in Baghdad.
SHAW: This is -- something is happening outside. Peter Arnett joined me here. What`s -- let`s describe to our viewers what we`re seeing. The skies
over Baghdad have been illuminated. We`re seeing bright flashes going off all over the sky. Peter?
PETER ARNETT, CNN REPORTER: Well, there`s antiaircraft gunfire going into the sky. However, we have not yet heard the sound of bombs landing, but
there`s tremendous lightning in the sky.
SHAW: I have a sense, Peter, that people are shooting towards the sky and they are not aware or cannot see what they`re shooting at. This is
extraordinary. We`re getting starbursts, seeming starbursts in the black sky. We have not heard any jet plane jet, Peter.
ARNETT: No plane. Now these sirens are sounding for the first time. The Iraqis have informed us.
FRENCH: Well, we heard Peter Arnett, our saying the Iraqis have informed us and then we didn`t hear anymore. This is probably just a technical glitch.
They have four wires there that they can use and those wires can be easily severed or pulled.
Wolf, what have you for us at this moment?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Strong indications here at the Pentagon that this war may be beginning right now. That the
President may be going on television later this evening to explain what exactly is going on. We`ve been thinking --
FRENCH: Wolf, let me -- Wolf, let me interrupt -- I`m sorry to interrupt, but we`re going back to Baghdad now, because we can and we Peter Arnett.
JOHN HOLLIMAN, CNN REPORTER: We are thinning to them.
FRENCH: Please come into us from Baghdad. This is David French in Washington.
HOLLIMAN: Hello, Baghdad?
ARNETT: Line is dead. They just cut the line.
FRENCH: All right, we`ve lost that for the moment. Back to the Pentagon again. Wolf, you were just reporting that there is new activity level --
HOLLIMAN: Hello Atlanta? Atlanta, this is Holliman. I don`t know whether you`re able to hear me now or not, but I`m going to continue to talk to you
as long as I can. There have been some sirens here tonight, but we still have seen no signs of any airplane coming in here. All we are seeing is the
Iraqi response from the ground. Many trace arounds that you can perhaps hear the sound of bombs in the background. I`m going to put our microphone
out the window, I think you`ll be able to hear this sound.
The night sky of Baghdad, the time here about 20 minutes until 3:00 in the morning. I`m getting away from the window. I`m going to turn off the
microphone for one moment in an attempt to see if we can hear Atlanta and get some response from CNN down the line.
FRENCH: All right, we`re not immediately able to pick up to resume that sound from John Holliman`s position, so we will now return to the Pentagon,
where Wolf Blitzer has some more for us. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, David. Only moments ago, before I came into the studio here at the Pentagon, I had a chance to see two very Senior Pentagon officials
almost running through the halls, going up to Secretary Cheney`s office. Let`s go back to Baghdad and see what John Holliman is reporting, in the
HOLLIMAN: There`s a response here as if the city were under attack. The night sky filled with a hail of bullets and from antiaircraft guns, and off
in the distance you can hear what appears to be bombs of some kind hitting the ground, or perhaps artillery shells hitting the ground. There are loud
reports, and you can feel the building of this very well-built hotel shaking underneath us as the attack apparently continues.
Hi there, is it possible to call United States, please?
FRENCH: An open microphone from Baghdad, from the hotel now being -- hotel room now being left, we believe, by Bernard Shaw, Peter Arnett, John
Holliman and their support staff there. There is a bomb shelter in that hotel. We heard them report earlier today.
Back to the Pentagon, and Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: David, all day long we`ve been hearing rumors that the attack would start at night, Baghdad time, that the attack, if it did come, would
try to take advantage of U.S. night fighting equipment, especially with the radar evading stealth fighters. And that is backed up by indications that
we`re getting here in the Pentagon of stepped-up activity among the senior civilian and military staff.
FRENCH: Wolf, we can still hear John Holliman in Baghdad. And we`ll go listen, and he can`t hear me, but we can hear him. All right, we`re told he
can. Let`s listen now.
HOLLIMAN: David, a miracle has happened. We are now able to hear you as well. My colleague Peter Arnett and I are here at our CNN Baghdad Bureau.
You have no idea, David French, how nice it is to hear your voice on this remarkable night. Peter, let`s tell our viewers what`s happened here.
You`ve had a lot of experience with being under attack, of course, from Vietnam and other places.
ARNETT: The antiaircraft weapons in the city center where we are living around the government buildings, erupted in fire. There must have been 200
guns firing to the sky. We did not see any aircraft around, but we did hear the alarm sirens. About two minutes after that, there were loud explosions,
obviously bombing in at least three parts of the outskirts of the city.
We have no idea what those targets were, but they were in the direction of the airport and some military barracks. And the bombing has not come in
this far yet. The attack did begin about 02:30 a.m. our time. Now here in the hotel, the Al Rasheed Hotel where we are. There was some indication
earlier this evening, some of our colleagues received calls from friends who said tonight, maybe the night will be --
ARNETT: -- for the multinational force to begin its strike.
FRENCH: Peter Arnett?
ARNETT: -- and strike against Iraq and tonight it has come, John?
HOLLIMAN: That`s right, Peter. I think it would be good for those of us in Baghdad to turn off our microphone for just a moment. We have our CNN
colleagues, of course, all over the world. Perhaps David French may be able to tell us as much about what they know about this potential attack as we
can tell looking out our window.
FRENCH: John, I think you might have thrown it to me. I couldn`t tell. But if you did, we have a radio pool report in from John Bascom (ph). He`s
reporting that a squadron of F-15 fighter bombers has taken off from a base in central Saudi Arabia. The fighters, designed for long range bombing at
night, were completely loaded with bombs, according to this report, with missiles and with 20-millimeter guns.
ARNETT: I was looking out the window earlier, John, and --
HOLLIMAN: Oh, Peter, look over here.
ARNETT: There is a sky is lighting up, I guess, to the south with antiaircraft fire, some as bright red, other as flashes of yellow light.
What seems clear is that city is well defended with antiaircraft fire, and we can only presume that because they have started up again with
considerable rapidity, that there is another attack coming in.
HOLLIMAN: We just heard whoa, holy cow. That was a large airburst that we saw. It was filling the sky. It`s a --
ARNETT: And I think, John, that airburst took out the telecommunications. Now you may hear the bombs now. If you`re still with us, you`re going to
hear the bombs now. They are hitting the center of this city.
We`re crouched behind a window here. We`re about 3 miles from where the center of action at this point seems to be.
HOLLIMAN: It`s good to have a colleague like Peter Arnett to help out, I`ll tell you that. My experience at being under attack is very limited, I`m
proud to say. But I think by the time the sun comes up tomorrow, my experience will be much improved in this regard. We have a CNN Cameraman,
Mark Biello, by the way, is taking pictures of this. And as soon as we`re able to establish a video link to you, which we`re sure won`t be anytime
soon, but will be hours from now, we`ll be able to show you the pictures that we`re talking about right now.
FRENCH: John and Peter, we`re going to the White House for just a minute. Presidential Spokesman Marlin Fitzwater is about to address the nation and
therefore the world.
MARLIN FITZWATER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have a statement by the President of the United States. Deliberation of Kuwait has begun. In
conjunction with the forces of our coalition partners, the United States has moved under the code name, Operation Desert Storm to enforce the
mandates of the United Nations Security Council.
As of 07:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Operation Desert Storm forces were engaging targets in Kuwait and Iraq. President Bush will address the nation
at 09:00 p.m. tonight from the Oval Office. I`ll try to get you more as soon as we can. Thank you very much, everyone.
HOLLIMAN: OK, Peter, we`re back.
ARNETT: I think what is most interesting to me, John, is that these bombs seem right on target. During the Vietnam War, there was a major problem
with bombing targets in North Vietnam. Many bridges survived for years. Tonight, every bomb we have seen land seemed to have hit something. It --
they have these laser directed the guided bomb systems now which seem to be proving effective here tonight.
We`ve been waiting for this to happen since the deadline on the U.N. ultimatum passed at 08:00 yesterday morning in Baghdad and certainly is the
day progressed. It was clear here that the authorities seemed to be preparing for some kind of action. I`m sure they didn`t have any kind of
advanced word. But as I speak to you the anti-aircraft fire has started up again and there is another wave of planes presumably coming in. We have yet
to see the bombs fall but it`s the same pattern of the previous at least three rays that we have witnessed.
SHAW: Wherever you are following CNN`s coverage of this, our colleagues in Washington and our colleagues in Saudi Arabia obviously know a lot more
than we know but we are on the receiving end of it. I just want to add one thing to everybody that we are safe, relatively speaking Peter and there is
no sense of an immediate threat to our lives. Do you concur with that?
ARNETT: I would concur with that. I think we`re safe enough here for the time being. Within a minute we can get to a shelter downstairs.
SHAW: John, it occurs to me that this attack is going to just shake the psyches of the Baghdadis here. This is unprecedented and I`m really anxious
for daybreak to come so that we can get out and see what has been wrought here.
HOLLIMAN: Right, daybreak is only 4 hours away and if we make it that long we`ll certainly be able to do that.
FRENCH: Richard Blystone is standing by in Jerusalem.
RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: The streets are unnaturally quiet. The Israeli government, of course, does know about it. The Prime
Minister says he has been informed. The military will be making a statement very soon. The radio here now is broadcasting CNN live. The Foreign
Ministry also is watching CNN. A lot of people now are getting their news from CNN.
HOLLIMAN: Something has changed, David. All the lights in the city of Baghdad are now out, from everything we can tell. My colleague Bernard Shaw
is with me as we look out on this now dark city. It`s absolutely pitch black.
SHAW: We are confined to the hotel. We can give this report tonight because we`re on the 9th floor of the Al Rasheed Hotel, which has a commanding view
of this very flat city to the north, south, east, and west. And for about the last two hours, there has been enormous activity, and now we hear
planes actually going over here.
HOLLIMAN: Yeah, well, I`ll see if I can see anything. All right. There`s a plane nearby. Bernie, you can see something, right?
SHAW: All right. It`s broken out on either side of us here at the hotel. And I`m just going to be quiet and let you listen.
HOLLIMAN: This is the heaviest raid so far, so close in. Maybe the outskirts have been pounded this way, but certainly several planes came
right over the hotel and hit targets within a mile and a half of us. Bernie, what do you see on the other side of the hotel?
SHAW: Hey, I just come back from the other side. I`m really wearing out trousers here, crawling on my knees and hands. But, gentlemen, does it
occur to you that it is not accidental that we are still reporting to the world?
HOLLIMAN: This government has told us frequently, including the Information Minister last night, that he wanted the press to stay here. In fact, he
expressed anger that some of the press had left. He said, the International Press says it covers human rights. It should be here to see what the United
States, the multinational force, is going to do. Now, I don`t see any government officials around here tonight to assist us. But they have said
that we can work here. And up to now this has to be unique that we are continuing to cover this story to talk to you, despite a series of major
impact bombing raids. Well, I`m anxious for daylight to come. Maybe we can get some visibility.
Peter, look at this. This is a bright flash of light that seems to be it came across from north to south and even came up here bias in the hotel.
And there it goes out of -- almost like a shooting star.
ARNETT: I think that shooting star is probably an S-15, John?
FRENCH: We have temporarily lost contact with Baghdad. I don`t wish to alarm anyone. We did expect to have this come in and out, but our three
correspondents, Bernard Shaw, Peter Arnett and John Holliman are there in the Al Rasheed Hotel. We expect to and we hope to be bringing you some more
of their reports later.
I`m pleased to report that we can go back to Baghdad now. And our three correspondents there, let`s see who picks up the phone.
SHAW: Just to explain to our viewers why you did not hear from us for a nervously long time. For the past 20 minutes, I`ve been hiding under a
table. And what happened was the security people made a sweep. They got very upset that there were three mortals on this floor as just three men
standing in a hotel room. So I scampered to hide to make sure that if they pulled Arnett and Holliman out and took them downstairs into custody, at
least there would still be one CNN person on the air. John?
HOLLIMAN: I did the same thing you did, Bernie. Only I hid under a bed. And it`s amazing that somebody`s large as I am can get under a bed that close
to the ground. But I was able to do it at least. And these security fellows also took some of the videotape out of one of our cameras. They say we`ll
get it back tomorrow. I`m a little skeptical that we will, but it was the beautiful pictures that we took to go along with the commentary that you
heard earlier tonight on CNN.
SHAW: You keep using that word beautiful. This is not beautiful to me.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT: Just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. These attacks continue as I
speak. Ground forces are not engaged. Tonight, 28 nations, countries from five continents, Europe and Asia, Africa and the Arab League have forces in
the Gulf area standing shoulder to shoulder against Saddam Hussein.
These countries had hoped the use of force could be avoided. Regrettably, we now believe that only force will make him leave. I`ve told the American
people before that this will not be another Vietnam.
And I repeat this here tonight, our troops will have the best possible support in the entire world. And they will not be asked to fight with one
hand tied behind their back. We have no argument with the people of Iraq.
Indeed, for the innocents caught in this conflict, I pray for their safety. Our goal is not the conquest of Iraq. It is the liberation of Kuwait.
ARNETT: This is Peter Arnett in Baghdad, Iraq, 17 hours after the bombing.
So for John Holliman and Bernie Shaw and myself, Peter Arnett here is signing off from Baghdad for CNN and I hope we can resume our communication
with you in the very near future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best reporting that I`ve seen on What Transpired in Baghdad was on CNN.