Thursday, July 20, 2006
Business as usual in northern Beirut
Anderson and his team are writing and editing their pieces for tonight. I just spoke with our senior producer Charlie Moore, who is in Beirut with Anderson. Charlie's briefing adds more details on their trip into Beirut.

In Larnaca, the U.S. Marine base they left from had a number of huge choppers and C-130 transports waiting on the tarmac. It's super hot in Cyprus. Marines catching-up on rest were sprawled in the islands of shade under the huge wings of the transports.

The chopper flight from Larnaca to Beirut took them over the Mediterranean for about 50 minutes. Marine gunners in the front and tail of the chopper were on watch for threats from the sea. They flew fast and low. As they approached land, the Marines became even more vigilant as they watched for ground-fire.

They were headed for the U.S. embassy, which is near the water in northern Beirut. The choppers had to come in fast and drop quickly onto the tarmac in the middle of the embassy compound. The embassy is heavily fortified.

Inside, groups of Americans were waiting their turns for chopper rides out. More groups were waiting outside the embassy walls for rides too. But the scene was calm. No chaos. No desperate throngs waiting to evacuate.

In the trip from the embassy to the CNN bureau in Beirut what Charlie and the team saw is not a city under siege. Charlie describes crowded streets, lots of cabs -- business as usual in this northern part of the city.

But we understand the situation looks worse the further south one goes. Karl Penhaul is reporting in southern Lebanon for CNN and will file a report from the region for tonight's "360."
Posted By David Doss, "360" Executive Producer: 12:51 PM ET
  50 Comments
Hey David -

What are the chances that Hizbellah will attempt a major terror strike on American soil in the next four weeks?

Everytime in the last 20 years that Israel assasinated a major Hizbellah leader, that they countered with a massive pre-determined strike within four weeks against a major Jewish or US target somewhere in the world - i.e. Argentina, France and the Kohbar Towers.

Should the US raise its terror threat level to yellow?
Posted By Anonymous B Hall, Oceanside CA : 1:07 PM ET
Hi David,
Well it doesn't surprise me one bit that life in the city is trying to go on..In the end, that's what human beings from all over the world do..Don't aim your stories just on the destruction..It must be told, but we in the world, I think need to see the real people of Lebanon..People who are no different from any of us..Their point of view is more important than what the media thinks. As Mr. Cooper says.."Be honest about what you see, get out of the way and let the story reveal itself." Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 1:21 PM ET
Well, there's a different story. I hope that they are filming the situation as it IS in Beirut because as you have just put it, it is very civilized there. What has been reported from individuals trying to get out is very different then the description just written of Beirut. So we should be getting the true picture of the evacuation situation tonite!
Posted By Anonymous Lyn, Ottawa, Canada : 1:29 PM ET
Hey David,
We trust you guys to give us an accurate picture of what is going on. Almost every other US source of information is biased, to either one side or another. Please do not waste air time with those already rescued, in Cyprus or somewhere else. Even more appealing and compelling is the story of those waiting for rescue or simply left behind... Keep the good work.
Fernando
Posted By Anonymous Fernando, Atlanta, GA : 1:40 PM ET
This is an interesting aspect to the developing story. I was surprised to learn that even the northern part of Beirut was bustling. I expected that shortages in food, material and fuel caused by the naval blockade and damage to the transportation infrastructure would be slowly bringing normal activity to a halt.
Posted By Anonymous Ken, Delmar Md : 1:43 PM ET
I work in international education and I am interested in an aspect of the story that I have not really seen covered. There are so many Lebanese who have come to the U.S. to study and get MBAs or other degrees and who have adopted very western lifestyles, but do not have a western passport. These are people who are middle-class, moderate, sophisticated and extremely westernized. These are the people who probably moved back to Beirut after they knew Starbuck's had arrived. These people could not be evacuated with the Lebanese Americans or the French Lebanese. What happens to the middle-class, westernized, educated Lebanese person who has to escape on their own and is basically in a refugee now in Syria. They speak English perfectly. They are part of a global middle class. What do they have to say to Americans? I am sure they can articulate things to an American audience, with context Americans understand, that we would miss in translation of a conversation with a refugee who was a farmer living in the South of Lebanon. Go get the story Anderson!
Posted By Anonymous Catherine, Boston, MA : 1:48 PM ET
Hey David...what's next for "360"? Any chance we'll see Anderson in the Congo for the elections?
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Kansas City, MO : 1:49 PM ET
That is great that the crew landed safely.

Taking into consideration of what has been reported so far, it does sound odd that life in the Northern area seems so normal.

Once again, I think getting some opinions from the citizens would be interesting. After all, they live there.
Posted By Anonymous Genevieve, El Paso, TX : 1:58 PM ET
Lebanon must have figured out that if they want the world to see their predicament, they have to allow the media in to report first-hand, even if the reporter had previously reported from Israel. Lebanon needs you as much as you need a good story. Keep up the great work. My TV and Pipeline have been on nonstop.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 2:00 PM ET
Thanks for keeping us updated. How high is the concern that there will be threats to the evacuating Americans due to our support for Isreal?
Posted By Anonymous J. Perkins, Fair Play, SC : 2:04 PM ET
Hey Anderson,

since you've already spend a few nights/days in the beautiful island of Cyprus, in case you didn't know, today is the 33 year "celebration" of the illegal invasion by the Turkish forces, which resulted in literally splitting the island/country in 2 piece. We'd love to see a little coverage on the issue or at least mention it in your show tonight, because although the majority of the Americans don't even know the problem, as you are aware, there is a huge issue between the two sides (north/south) of the island.

Regards.
Posted By Anonymous Demetri- Boston, MA : 2:06 PM ET
I am very impressed with the way you and CNN coverage of this war. You are showing all angles without taking any sides or without being biased as you can clearly see how some other channels are. You guys are doing a fantastic job. I'll be watching you regularly Keep up with your great coverage and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Marwan, Roanoke VA : 2:07 PM ET
Even though I will be worried for AC360 team, but I think the show is at its best when they are in the heat of the crisis. Well, Anderson comes alive when he is in an intense situation. Maybe he should be placed at the south and give Nic a break (I wonder if he will take it).
By the way, I love the way we are blogging now. It gives us the latest updates as well as let us know that the team are safe.
Posted By Anonymous Chew, Houston TX : 2:07 PM ET
Hi David,

Its nice to hear some good new about this conflict. Its good to hear that the evacs are going well and the people are getting out. I want to thank all the journalists and reporters and whatnot that over there catching these stories, especially Anderson. It takes alot of guts to chase down rocket attacks not knowing where one will strike next. So thank you all for covering these stories in times of war, if it werent for you we would all be in the dark; figuritivly and literally.
Posted By Anonymous Bill Dietz, Erie, PA : 2:15 PM ET
My question is what will happen once allof the foreigners are evacuated from Lebanon, when the real isreali inoccupation happens. This article paints a pretty but unrealistic picture of what is really taking place in Lebanon.(The ethnic cleansing of all arabs by the Isrealis.) This seemingly normal life I am sure will be short lived.
Posted By Anonymous Amal, Montreal, Canada : 2:33 PM ET
Be safe, Anderson, and be wary. And tell it from all angles as you always do. I'm anxious to know what the Lebanese people, caught amidst this violence, really feel. Tell us, but stay safe,
Posted By Anonymous Angie,Laredo TX : 2:54 PM ET
Don't let anybody say that CNN and its reporters cannot get the job done! Kudos to Anderson and all the CNN reporters who are bringing the events to us daily in the clearest possible manner. Bravo CNN!
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Philadelphia, PA : 3:11 PM ET
Thanks for the update Dave. I find the story you told much more interesting than listening to the political rhetoric. Everyday life and the people caught up in this war is where the story is for me, at this point.
Posted By Anonymous Phebe, Phoenix, AZ : 3:12 PM ET
"Business as usual" is so true because we, as Lebanese are Survivors....
Posted By Anonymous neyla, san diego, ca : 3:12 PM ET
Perhaps all the talk about Anderson playing favorites with Israel will now stop that he's in Beirut?
Posted By Anonymous Adam, San Francisco, CA : 3:17 PM ET
It always amazes me that reporters regularly and willingly walk into situations like this to ensure that stories get told. I am glad to hear that the crew has arrived safely. Godspeed to Anderson, Charlie and the crew, and of course to and all of the people trying to escape the danger zone. And thank you for telling the story. Thank you for this blog, as well. It is fascinating, and adds a more personal tone to the stories you tell. Keep up the good work.
Posted By Anonymous Kate, St. Paul, MN : 3:32 PM ET
David,

I think this is really a very interesting aspect to the story and what is really going in in the region beyond what we seen and what is reported on TV.
Let me also say that I am very impressed how you as Executive Producer as well as the other producers on scene with Anderson contribute to the AC360 blog and keep your viewers and readers updated this way as well. I don't think any other network shows that much dedication.
You guys - all of you - are doing a real good job - THANKS!
And please keep your crews on site safe.
Posted By Anonymous Elke, New York/NY : 3:55 PM ET
To Demetri and rest of the bloggers!

Today is not the 33rd anniversary of illegal invasion of Turkish forces. Today is the 33rd anniversary of the rescue of Turkish minority on the island from the illegal take over of EOKA- B underground Greek terror group with Mega IDEA of having the Cyprus island all and only Greek. The Leader of the time was MAKARIOS who was acknowledged by both parties as the leader of the country. EOKA- B gerillas ran him down and passified the legal and current government of the time. On their road to one-Greek-Island , EOKA_B has killed hundreds of Turkish Cypriots. The massacre of Atlilar Village is still in the archives as well as in our memories. Turkish operation was a legal right originating from a three-party agreement (Turkey, Britain and Greece with historical roots on the island) which gave the right to send forces in the event of any threat to the safety and security of any ethnic group who shared a life on the island.
To establish a federal state that would give proportioanl rights to both parties have been constantly rejected keeping this issue as an ulsolved problem of 33 years. Thanks.
Posted By Anonymous NURGUL, Toronto : 4:08 PM ET
I thank you for your honest and detailed perspective of a situation that would otherwise be difficult and inhumane to understand. Keep up your good work. Perhaps someday, peace will come to the region.
Posted By Anonymous Anne, Sturgeon Falls, ON Canada : 4:11 PM ET
One aspect of this story puzzles me. Exactly how much responsibility does the U.S. government have for its citizens in foreign lands? Sure the embassies and consulates are there to help Americans abroad and I believe they do a good job doing so. But this situation is somewhat different, due to the large number of people wanting to be evacuated and the fact that these people choose to live in, or travel to, an area with a known history of volatility. We've seen some Americans whining that the government is not acting quickly enough but perhaps they should just be grateful our government is working to get them out. Our Marines and Navy are now risking their lives for this purpose.

Thanks for the update. They are always interesting. I will have the well being of the CNN people, the military members aiding in the operation and the stranded citizens from all countries in my thoughts and prayers.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann, Honolulu, Hawaii : 4:22 PM ET
I am an American who has been living in many different countries for the past 6 years. The media outside the USA tells a very different picture than within. I just cannot believe such a rosy picture when another CNN article describes how 50000 people are trying to get through one checkpoint on the Syrian border. And the quote highlighted in the article was that of mother who wanted to save her children watch them grow and than send them back to fight Israel.
Posted By Anonymous Rome Bangkok Thailand : 4:38 PM ET
I wonder how our Government can sit back and watch the destruction of the ONLY democratic country in the middle east.

The key word here is PROPORTIONAL RESPONSE. Can anyone said that the aggression from Israel are proportional?
Posted By Anonymous Carlosm Plano Texas : 4:39 PM ET
Anderson,

You are doing a great job over there. Can you show us more video about the living areas? What is the estimated number for population that remains in Beirut?
Posted By Anonymous Juan, Frisco Texas : 5:01 PM ET
Are you joking???
My family lives in the North and trust me, war is all over the place. Mr. Anderson Cooper is reporting false news . CNN is also very very very biased. How come we only hear what the Israeli PM has to say? What about the fact that there are still thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in Israel and no one is talking about them??? This war has been planned since day 1, and the sad part is that the US is backing up Israel, who has murdered more than 300 Lebanese civilians, on purpose might I add.
Posted By Anonymous Joan Smith, New York, New Jersey : 5:03 PM ET
Mr. Doss,

Thanks for the update! Special thanks goes out to Mr. Moore for answering a question I had posed & sent, but didn't get posted, in AC's "Hitching a chopper ride to Beirut' blog.

It's interesting to see that there is disparity between the southern and northern sectors of Beirut--somewhat opposite to what we've heard from the
Hezbollah supporters. They keep painting a picture of a totally obliterated Beirut, supplies running out and just awful conditions.

The IDF really are concentrating their raids on the Pro-Hezbollah south--just as they've been saying from Day 1.

Have a safe evening and I'll be tuned in at 10:00!
Posted By Anonymous Priscilla, Carmel IN : 5:09 PM ET
hey david, and the rest of the AC 360 team,
thank you for doing what you do. people need to look deeper into these things, not just watch 3 minute blurbs about another rocket going off (i'm looking at you headline news...). anyways, be careful over there, looking forward to your show tonight.

be safe,
Jordan Clifford
Posted By Anonymous Jordan Clifford, Moscow, Idaho : 5:18 PM ET
David, don't pay any attention to the ignorant folks who tell you what to focus on and what not to, as if they have any concept of time constraints and access. I know you don't, but when I hear comments like Lorie Ann's, I just want to bury my head. I just heard that if there is a ground assault by Israel, that the Lebanese Army will join in with Hezbollah to defend it's land. Of course they will, because they, like their leader, are pawns to the Syrian and Iranian terrorist regimes and will be killed if they speak out and stand up for the people of Lebanon. That would be the equivalent of the innocent citizens dying, with one exception - it would mean there would only be one death for a cause, rather than a meaningless death reaping nothing. Freedom from tyranny takes guts and sacrifice, and Lebanon will never achieve it unless its citizens take up arms and fight against the real villains. That much I DO know. Take care 360. You make us proud!
Posted By Anonymous Eric, Denver CO : 5:21 PM ET
David,

Is it too much to ask that we hear a little about the other foreigners that are trapped in Lebanon? How about the British, Canadians, French, or Italians? I know that the majority of the viewers watching are American, but there are people all over the world who watch both CNN and Anderson Cooper because it is the most in depth coverage available.

Please, just a few minutes? How are other countries getting their people out?

Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Sonja, Vancouver, Canada : 5:39 PM ET
I love the way your team is reporting right now. This is a very intense situation and very scary, but it is nice to get the most up to date news broadcast from all the angles. I look quite frequently to see who has blogged and where your next location is. Thanks for working so hard and providing great coverage on an intense situation. We will all continue to pray for everyone's safety and of course for the region.
Posted By Anonymous Becca San Diego, CA : 5:46 PM ET
Mr. Doss: I think one of the reasons I love 360 is that you are always changing and trying new things. Anderson and his crews' talents seem to shine when they are on the go. I would think it would be difficult to keep them in one spot! I also love these blogs. I don't always have time to write on them, but I always try to read them. Thanks for keeping us updated and keep up the great reporting!
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago, Il : 5:53 PM ET
David,
I just wanted to say the show has been amazing. Kudos to everyone there in the studio and overseas. I just hope I do not develop an ulcer worrying about the 360 crew in Lebanon. Keep it up!!
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 5:59 PM ET
How many people can they evacuate in a C-130? And couldn't they get more than 1,000 or so people on the cruise ships going out? I am far too young to remember but I have been told that they could get thousands of troops on re-fitted cruise ships during WWII, why can't they fit more people on the ships to get more out now? It's only a 12 hour trip it's not like everyone has to have a bed or would even be able to sleep.

Take care of yourself Anderson and Crew. :)
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Canada : 6:06 PM ET
I believe that our Government needs to call for an IMMEDIATE ceasefire, get some diplomats on the ground, get these two Nations back to the Peace Process, before more innocent Men, Women and Children get displaced or killed in this conflict.

How can we stand among Nations and just have an attitude that the Peace Process is dead?

What does that say about our Honor?
Posted By Anonymous Chris, San Diego, CA : 6:08 PM ET
AC
I am glad that you were finally able to go to Beirut. I look forward to see an objective coverage of the sufferings of the Lebanese and not just the evacuation of foreigners and the small percentage of the fortunate lebanese with multiple citizenships.
Posted By Anonymous Sam from Cambridge, MA : 6:10 PM ET
Hezbollah is so outnumbered by Israel in fire power why is CNN spending so much time on this and not trying to find out how the group will get retribution, most likely through some terrorist attack? And won't it be toward the USA since we give so much money to Israel? Exactly how much of our tax money is poured into Israel? If you can't find out answers to these questions, please stay out of the safety of the embassy and the US refugee sites. If that's all you've got, cover Iraq where many more people are being slaughtered daily. THat's a real war while the attack on Lebanon is simply Israel flexing its muscle, again.
Posted By Anonymous Roberta Penn Wrightsville Beach, NC : 6:14 PM ET
Please point out that cities like Choueifat, a suburb of Beirut, are being targeted, even though it is an ethnic Druze city and there are no Hezbollah or Shiite's there.

Israel has destroyed factory's that make everything from chocolate to socks in a city that has no Hezbollah. Moreover, the Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt is hated by Hezbollah and has had assasination attempts by Hezbollah and Syria.

It makes no sense why they are destroying the homes and businesses of people that are the enemy of Hezbollah.

This is truly an attack on the innocent of Lebanon.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Gaithersburg, MD : 6:18 PM ET
David:
How do we give the UN some teeth? What is the point of having UN troops in a police-ing (sp?) role in any country, let alone this one, if they can do nothing. They are just sitting targets. I am particularly disgusted with Kofi Annan and his pathetic rhetoric. He is next to useless as SG of this fractured body. All he can come up with is: "Shame on Hezbollah, shame on Israel. Kiss and make up. Don't fight... oh and by the way where is my pay check this week..."
I hope and pray we don't commit any troops to any police-ing effort - let the brave French, Russian and Chinese of the security council do it.
Posted By Anonymous David R, Merrit Island, FL , USA : 7:09 PM ET
Hi Anderson

I am truly amazed at you and your team's determination to get the best news coverage, that I personally, have ever seen. It takes great courage to do a job such as yours in situations of chaos and destruction. I truly am inspired by your work.

From the images I see online and the descriptions given by your reports, it shocks me to see that Israel is not only targetting Hezbollah, but has no regard for the innocent lives of the Lebanese women and children. The incident of an entire school bus full of children being blown up by an Israeli missile is appoling. It only forces us, the international community, to perceive the Israeli offense as an act of irrational bloodshed.
Looking at the casualties of both countries, what i dont understand is, why different news channels compare civillian casualties with those of soldiers. Come to think of it, soldiers are trained killers. This is outrageous.

Mr. gaithersberg, I am quite puzzled by your claim. How is it that you know of such attacks in the mentioned remote parts of Lebanon? I totally agree with the fact that this is more of an ambition to inflict as much casualties to the lebanese as possible, and in the process, taking down some Hezbollah leaders.
Posted By Anonymous Shah, Newark, NJ : 7:56 PM ET
Hi David,
My question throughout this whole crisis has been, how many non-Lebanese people live or were in the country. It seems that the numbers are great for a country that is only about 4 million right? Just curious what percentage is non - Lebanese citizens.

Thanks for the great reporting.
Posted By Anonymous Gus, Vallejo, Calif. : 8:40 PM ET
I guess I'm confused. I thought that Lebanon was utterly destroyed! Hmm, interesting that things get worse the further South you go -- where the Hezbollah strongholds are!

As always, Anderson's doing a great job! Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Irena, New York, NY : 9:46 PM ET
Anderson;
I am surprised that a program and a network who's motto is to be true and report on the facts, they chose to edit these posts to such an extent that you can not express a view.
Lebanon was a country in re-birth trying to rebuild itself and because two soldiers in a raid got caught the israeli goverment felt they had the right to bomb to ruble an entire city and country.
Where are all the civilized G8 nations on this???? All that is being comunicated is that two israeli lives are worth much more than any other. I am not speaking as a person who has suddently foudn this situation interesting but as someone who has studied this region and has sources on the ground and who have to be there for family resons. This is very sad.
Posted By Anonymous Eva, Atlanta GA : 9:59 PM ET
Hellow everyone!
i would like to add my own point of viwe, as asitizent of israel (krayot-haifa)i think that this is a wake up call to the world! for years israel have suffered from terror attakes like you see now, the last provocation from the hizzballa-kidnaping our soldirs and the bombing of northe israel is not the first and will happend in the end all over the world ! the world must support israel at her efforts to stop hizzballa from reaching its goals ! israel do not wish for unnessesery wars and we have the ability to win in any war against the arab states, yet , we are warning the civilians of lebanon (36 hours ahead) and we are attaking only militery targrts, at the same time the israelies in the northern area live in constant fear, not knowing when will the next bomb will fall , we are paralized and all we want is to see our sons home and to get back to our daily rutine . you all should know this can happend and is happening all over the world, the 11st septmber was not a dream, it is happening to us for years and can happened again unless the world will wake up!!!!!!!!!
Posted By Anonymous kaslasi inbal , kiryat motskin , israel : 8:24 AM ET
Not to impugn the work you are doing, but please do not call Hezbollah "warriors" (they are terrorists) or call it a "mission" (they have stated their goal is to wipe Israel off the earth). Israel is getting bullied and provoked and now stands up to this agression. Also, Israel wants to be left alone, and has not said they deny another country or group the right to exist.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 10:52 AM ET
Hezbollah continues to target isareli civilians. Israel is targeting hezbollah militants. It is hezbollahs fault that they strap the civilians of beirut to their shields; hezbollah and similar terrorists always hide among civilians. That is their fault. naturally, civilians die. Also, most civillians are complacent to this, until a bomb hits. REst assured, hezbollah cares not for their civilians. Its all part of the sacrifice, right? ARABS OUT!
Posted By Anonymous elliott chicago : 1:37 PM ET
I'm here on vacation,and i live in the North near the American embassy.let me tell you what's going on in the North.Yes, business does run as usual,restaurants are open,do you seriously think we would go out eat and drink when thousands of people have no roof above their head???yes there are many cars over here,the streets are crowded with people fleeing to the mountains!!!Garbage is piled up everywhere,we too wake up 5times everynight at the sound of shelling. If this lasts any longer, there WILL be food and fuel shortage in the north. i don't understand how someone would want this for another human being....
Posted By Anonymous Houry,Beirut,,Lebanon : 1:21 PM ET
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