Monday, August 07, 2006
History repeats: Blown up once, blown up twice
I just got back from southern Lebanon. The eight-hour mission turned into a 14-hour one.

Veteran cameraman Neil Hallsworth, who probably has been on more embeds in Iraq than any other journalist, informed me that our vehicle's cramped quarters made this the most hellacious embed he's ever been on.

Whoever designed the Puma, the Israeli transport in which we were riding, needs to be forced to spend 14 hours in one. Anyway, enough griping.

The mission turned out to be interesting. The combat engineers with whom we were embedded were ordered to go into southern Lebanon and take out a Hezbollah position at Karkoum.

It had been one of the main command outposts in southern Lebanon. It had actually been an Israeli outpost back when they occupied Lebanon. When they left, they blew it up. Hezbollah rebuilt it. Now the unit I was with was supposed to go back in and blow it up again. History repeats.

We left under cover of darkness, but it was dawn by the time we reached the bunkers at Karkoum. Things moved quickly once we exited the Puma.

Israeli soldiers discovered a cache of anti-tank weapons, which Hezbollah has used to devastating effect. The soldiers rigged those to explode with the same C4 explosive they were using on all the structures.

The blast was massive, though we couldn't actually see it because we had to take cover back inside the Puma.

After the dust cleared, armored bulldozers moved in and leveled what remained.

We'll have the story on "360" tonight. We continue to broadcast from the region, and will continue to do so all week.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 10:58 AM ET
  44 Comments
try not to sound too excited, you should be neutral. leveling towns shouldn't be a good thing, remember?
Posted By Anonymous Hadi, Fredericksburg, VA : 11:23 AM ET
I'm glad you guys made it back safely. Continue the great work and please be careful! I'll be watching tonight.
Posted By Anonymous Dina, San Francisco, CA : 11:46 AM ET
Follow up to "tracking with a Puma". Exciting, scary stuff. Too bad you didn't get to see the results of your work! So how long does ut take to come down from THAT adrenaline rush??

Way to go, everyone!

Maggie
Posted By Anonymous Maggie, Grain Valley, MO : 11:48 AM ET
We are constantly blasted about civilians being killed in Lebanon. If I understand it correctly, the Hezbollah fighters for the most part are not wearing military uniforms, but instead are wearing civilian clothes to blend in with the general population. If this is the case then why isn't it mentioned every time the media talks about civilian causalities in Lebanon. Why make a concrete statement about the number of civilians killed when there in no way to determine how many were true civilians and how many were Hezbollah fighters in civilian clothing?
Posted By Anonymous Bob Harrison Piedmont, Missouri : 11:53 AM ET
Anderson: I'd rather you have "cramped" legs than "no legs"...you're unbelievable! Glad you are safe and looking forward to the show tonight!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 12:01 PM ET
Hmmm sounds like something that'll get the blood moving a little.

I think a segment like this is exactly what viewers want to see:) Can't wait!
Posted By Anonymous Lily, Vancouver, BC : 12:08 PM ET
The only good thing I can see that while riding in the Puma, you probably missed the Crawford Press Conference (referred to by Bush as the Western WH ala Reagan 'cept Bush can't ride a horse and is lacking in other skills). The best of the worst was referring to the world you're living in as an 'incident' and defending the policy of NO DIRECT TALKS WITH SYRIA. The reasoning for no to Syria talks highlighted a major problem with current US diplomacy. The need to lecture, demand and chastise instead of creating a 'listening' environment to produce win-win results. Even three year olds resist when confronted with this type of interaction.

Hope your not claustrophobic and had a seat cushion.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 12:50 PM ET
Dear Anderson,
sorry about your 14 hours of uncomfortable riding. Although I must say reading about did make me laugh a little. lol... I have been following your blogs for quite some time now, and it is an odd feeling when I talk to some people in my high school and they barley know that there is even a war going on. I am glad every day to get on CNN.com and read things written by people who feel the same way I do. So be careful because I want to continue readin things from you.
Posted By Anonymous Breanna,Hale Center,Texas : 1:02 PM ET
It is beyond me why all the reporting on the conflict between Israel and the Hezbollah no one has brought up the fact that Hezbollah fires Between 100 to 200 missiles every day into Israel with the intent to kill as many women and children as they possibly can, only do to the fact that their missiles are inaccurate, and cannot hit the locations they want to is why there so few deaths in Israel. If Hezbollah had Israel's capabilities, Israel, would no longer be on the face of the earth!!!!!!!. The man of Hezbollah are cowards. Everyone of them. They encircle themselves with women and children. The women that support Hezbollah are less cowards than the man. If Israel were firing there rockets at will, as the Hezbollah is there'd be hundred times as many death as there is now. Hezbollah men need to stop their cowardly actions!!! and come out and fight the war like man, not the cowards they are.
Posted By Anonymous Dusty Chino CA : 1:17 PM ET
Anderson I am Glad you made out the mission you where in safely. I cant imagine what it is like there. Do you miss home? I hear a lot of I hate America comets from the Middle East. How are they towards you and you crew? Hope you do a reporters notebook tonight on your show, I really enjoy them. My thoughts and prays to you and your crew. Come home soon and safely.
Posted By Anonymous Anthony Guiliano Allentown Pa : 1:35 PM ET
I'm glad to see you are back safely. So what will you do for an enchore I wonder. Perish the thought this conflict lasts much longer as I seem to be eating and sleeping with the bombs going off around me, and I'm in a quiet neutral environment. (I think)
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Scarboro, Ontario. Canada : 1:35 PM ET
With many foreign correspondants claiming that the embedded journalist is worthless, i.e. Robert Fisk, I was wondering how you guys feel about your freedom to report. I know that you have to take the story the IDF gives you, just as you had to take the story the US military gave you, but is there any griping amongst yourselves? I know if I was in your position I would be itching to get some Vietnam era Journalism going. I have a documentary by CBS News on the Vietnam War, hosted by Cronkite of course, and I have to say that the footage and stories they get are far more potent journalism then what is being dished out to world today, at least in the west. Get me a REAL STORY, this patrol piece is wortless from a historical sense. You have a chance to document history. I hope you are fighting for this right behind closed doors, and not just embedding yourself whenever and wherever the IDF or US tells you. If I was on the military command I would purposely send you out in the opposite direction of my main operation. You go west, while my main force heads north. Please fight for your rights.
Posted By Anonymous tom, bettendorf, ia : 1:41 PM ET
I was just thinking over the weekend "I wonder what Anderson does on days his show isn't on the air?" No "down" days in a war zone then.... I'm not sure how you balance living your "normal" life with what you see and experience while on assignment. I guess that gives you a perspective on life that few other people have. That's one of the reasons I enjoy your show.

Safe travels, Anderson.
Posted By Anonymous Alissa, Royal Oak, MI : 1:41 PM ET
"Whoever designed the Puma, the Israeli transport in which we were riding, needs to be forced to spend 14 hours in one."
************
Yeah, but you came back in one piece. And that's the point.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, San Jose, CA : 1:42 PM ET
Now I feel bad because I whine and complain over an hour long commute to work. I can't even imagine stuck in a cramped space for 14 hours. Take care of yourself and watch out for that deep tissue thrombosis.

Sounds like an interesting story tho.
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 1:49 PM ET
AC, Neil;

No matter how many bloggers ask or inquire as to why you guys don't "hitch a ride" with Hezbollah, like you did in the Puma with the IDF, "to cover all the angles".......ignore them for crying out loud.

This is war and there is a clear enemy. And by the way, enemies in all previous wars have been "humans" too. "Independence Day" and "War of the Worlds" were MOVIES people. The U.S. have not yet fought a war with "forces not from this earth". Just terrorists, communists, etc. Albeit, they are synonymous.

You guys keep watching each other's backs and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Julie, St. Louis, MO : 1:51 PM ET
I am deeply concerned about the position our country has taken in such outspoken declarations of unconditional allegiance to Israel. While Israel is indeed our ally, every such declaration makes peace with those who are on the other side seem more unattainable. I can't help but believe that CNN's riding with the IDF and reporting from that vantage point will make matters worse, not only for the U.S., but may place bull's eyes on the backs of the media, as well.
Posted By Anonymous pat matt, hickory, nc : 1:54 PM ET
Anderson,
Riding in a Puma sounds fun at first, but not for 14 hours. At least you had your Blackberry with you so you could blog about your experience. Here in America we don't get the chance to explore war zones in vehicles like Pumas, but at least we have AC360 to tell us about what it would be like. I just love that no matter where you are, you have your Blackberry with you and are always blogging with it. Keep up your unique style of reporting and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Liz Sylvania, OH : 1:57 PM ET
I wish you would do a show about the ubfair bias your fellow professionals have against israel. Today reuters news agency was forced to retract a report and issues an apology, but all I hear from your fellow reprters is silence
Posted By Anonymous telly tel aviv : 1:59 PM ET
Anderson,

Now that's what I call an exciting job--dangerout, but exciting. Keep up the good work. Your reports are interesting and informational.
Posted By Anonymous Barb Kozlowski, Phoenix AZ : 2:00 PM ET
The US had a wonderful opportunity to step in at the outset, but took the ill-advised position of wanting to see the members of Hezbollah killed. So as a result many citizens have been killed and Lebanon has been destroyed. Our foreign policy of death and destruction is unbelievably naive and childish, and it's time to wake up.
Posted By Anonymous John Keating, Alexandria, Va. : 2:06 PM ET
Why is their no clear-cut reporting that Israel is using PGMs , trying hard to avoid civilian targets, when Hezb is specifically targeting civilians ?! Please make that distinction for the viewers. Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 2:10 PM ET
I am sorry, but I just don't see why we need Andersen Cooper or any of these journalists constantly going out into the field with the soldiers. I supposeit could be so that we get an "unbiased" view of what is going on, however, I have yet to see any news anchor give an unbiased opinion on anything. I think it is just a publicity stunt to garner more viewers.
I especially love all of the folks who write in and say "I'm so proud of you Andersen."
Hey, Andersen. Whya don't you cover the story from the Hezbollah ranks? or get in tight with some Taliban fighters? Show us just what goes through their minds so that we may be better able to understand their reasons for doing what they do?

Amazing how man will kill man in the name of their God. It's all just pathetic.
Posted By Anonymous Dean, Mishicot, Wisconsin : 2:39 PM ET
"History repeats." Indeed it does and, unfortunately, will continue to repeat in this region. The deep hatred cannot be destroyed with mere C4, bombs or bullets. Buildings can be flattened and lives can be ended or shattered. But the root of the problem will continue until a solution can be found to eliminate the hatred. I pray we see it in our lifetime.

Looking forward to seeing the show tonight. I hope you give us a behind the scenes view of becoming embedded, including the steps that made it possible. I assume it wasn't easy convincing a foreign army to let you join them in this sensitive mission. Please stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann, Honolulu, Hawaii : 2:42 PM ET
Hezbollah's strategy is to blend into these small villages, and surround themselves with the innocent people in these towns. Not only are they attempting to "win" a military battle, by not losing, they are also trying to win the war of public opinion. Israel has a right to protect itself, and Anderson thank you for reporting from the thick of it.
Posted By Anonymous Eric, Dallas, Texas : 3:03 PM ET
Be safe and thanks for the write-up. When you have a chance in the future, go ride along with a normal Palestinian family undercover from one of the occupied area into another area. Give us a feel of what it is like to live in occupied areas. Is it as bad as the Palestinians claim it is or is it just a nuisance like our daily traffic jam?

I think American public would love to know.
Posted By Anonymous Tim, San Jose, CA : 3:04 PM ET
....and why not. Let's all climb on a katusha and let 'er rip.
The more I see and hear, the more I want to take a long nap.

Please wake me up when it is all over. I imagine that will be in the year 2,347.
Posted By Anonymous barry comer, louisville, kentucky : 3:13 PM ET
This entry comes across as though you're a bit detatched. None of the usual emotional feel is included here. Just the facts. (except for the gripe, but even that's a bit "whatever") I wonder if we're all becoming a bit immune to the reality of what's going on? Please be careful.
Posted By Anonymous Sue, NYC, NY : 3:14 PM ET
Anderson,
Keep up the good work & be careful out there. The trip sounds adventures & highly risky. But i am sure its your passion that leads you to it. Be safe & see you home soon.
Posted By Anonymous Florita, New York : 3:19 PM ET
All I can say is... Is there an end in sight ??? Sure does not sound like it from the looks of the coverage... I hope everyone of all races/relgions/from all corners of the world is praying for peace.

To the entire CNN team and other reporters in the region - Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Mary H. St. Louis, MO : 3:24 PM ET
Your coverage is extremely biased toward Israel in both obvious and subtle ways. You are supposed to be an unbiased journalist, not an IDF chronicler. Theirs is the only point of view represented clearly in your reporting. Who is speaking for the Lebanese civilians? I lived in Lebanon for 6 years and every day witnessed Israel's warplanes flying over Beirut (breaking UN resolutions by the way). I only know about it because I was there. No reporters talk about it, there is just an acceptance of the assertion that Hezbollah started this unprovoked. Both sides bear responsiblity for their actions in this. Both sides are destroying innocent lives. This is the reality.

In the Crawford press conference not one reporter asked about whether Israel will be required to pull out of the Shebaa Farms as part of the agreement. You all know about this occupation, yet it is not mentioned as a possible aspect of the so-called root causes of the conflict. Anyone in Lebanon can tell you that it's extremely relevant to what is happening. Also, I am still waiting to see daily reports of how many missiles and how much bomb ordinance Israel drops on Lebanon daily alongside the rocket count from Hezbollah.
Posted By Anonymous Marj Henningsen, Seattle, WA : 3:25 PM ET
Yes, yes, history repeats. That's the dad-gum point. It always has and always will. Our hearts have been broken and we've lost too many lives. It's hard to hear the details, again and again.

[There's about 2% humor intended in the following. Find it where you will.]

It seems the time has come. The moon is in the 7th house and Jupiter has aligned with Mars or whatever. We need to designate, say the decade beginning November 2008, as the Women's Global Revolution for Peace. All governments are, without exception, required to have a female head of state for the next decade. No less. I believe the women on the planet could get things sorted out in fairly short order. Now, I'm not fooling -- first of all, the sheiks and clerics would all drop over dead because they'd never let a woman tell them what to do in the first place, so they'd die of sheer outrage and burst blood vessels. Then the rest of the world could sit down and talk because they could finally hear themselves think. It is often said that women are the great civilizers of things -- duh. So, why don't the men just step aside and let us do what we know how to do. They've gotten us into a crack and I do believe, it's time that the female population step up and save the world. Clearly, war is men's work but peace may be women's work. (Condelezza Rice aside.)

And consider -- it must be time for a paradigm shift, after all we are 0-3 in the last three "conflicts" (or wars) that we have fought. Korea, Vietnam and Iraq (1&2) have all been hideous failures. All ill conceived and disastrous. Apparently, we're not doing this right any more. I'm not so naive as to think that war itself is obsolete -- but this kind of fighting, against this enemy is unsuccessful. Why do we not learn this lesson??

Clearly female logic is needed. So, until the coming of the Jubilee (11/08) GWB should just sit, with his tail between his legs -- and let LAURA run things.
Posted By Anonymous Cara, Houston, TX : 3:28 PM ET
I get annoyed with people complaining about how journalists don't place themselves in harm's way in order to convey a building story. I admire what you do, Anderson, because you're trying to stay safe, while revealing as much of the story as possible. It saddens me how we watch the news, express some sympathy, then go right back to eating our dinners.
Posted By Anonymous Aruna, Minneapolis, MN : 3:30 PM ET
What Anderson's watching it's the full reality, That vehicle mentioned, the PUMA, might be a great transport but it isn't indestructible,nor invincible.It can be destroyed by a RPG rocket or whatever Anti-tank missile.It doesn't has a "GOD MODE" as the computer games have, so I'd like to appreciate the courage from Anderson on travelling with IDFs across south on Lebanon.
Posted By Anonymous Federico, Buenos Aires, Argentina : 3:31 PM ET
As crazy as a 'ride along' with hezbollah would be I would love to see that. Sure it's 900x dangerous because they don't care if they die but I'm sure the world would love to see them haul out some rockets from some "civilians" house, fire them, then sneak it back into where a Israeli missile taking it out will cause some collateral damage. Just make sure you tell them you'll edit that part out so they don't kill you
Posted By Anonymous js, regina, canada : 3:34 PM ET
What a propaganda! Did they really take you into southern Lebanon. 'Cause the last I heard that these coward IDF criminals have been taking journalists into some simulator were they can actually show them some victory! LOL!
Posted By Anonymous Chris O'Brian, Seattle : 3:34 PM ET
Part of me is a little jealous. You are out there reporting to us in the midst of events that future generations will read about in their History books someday. AC, it is important to report on this and we appreciate your efforts. Hopefully there will be something to learn from it all. Thanks for your continuing contributions.
Another part of me is glad, and thankful, to be where I am now. Be safe.
Posted By Anonymous Mario Escanuelas, Portland, OR : 3:40 PM ET
My lord..you do have a fan club out there -- their biggest concern of this war is that you'll get hurt. It seems that Israel's airstrikes are acceptable but Hezbollah's rocket attacks are not. And the Lebanese are dying in the midst of this mess. Not all Lebanese belong to Hezbollah but I suspect by the end of this confict they will.
Posted By Anonymous Kath Fitzgerald, Malden, MA : 3:47 PM ET
It is good to see the reporters on front line. I know that when we were in Iraq we felt like your presences made a difference and that there was a better chance of the truth getting back to the folks at home. Keep it up and be safe....
Posted By Anonymous Jesse Barker, Statesville, NC : 3:55 PM ET
Dear Mr. Cooper,

I came to watch your program because of your book, "dipatches from the edge" but that should be another topic.

History repeats because people forget it or tend to ignore real problems revealed by it. History has also proved and will continue to prove that running-away doesn't work.

I wonder how can any of us compare an army in a self-defense mission to a terrorist organziation at the same breath? How could anyone even try to compare both sides?! There are fundamental differences between the motives, tactics, and perspective of life!

We think of our children first while face danger and do everything to make them safe. The Israeli army is fighting for the lives of the Israelis.

In the past couple days, some emphasized that "hazibbolah built schools" but no one mentioned what did they teach in school? While the world is blaming Israel for the airstrike in Qana emphasizing many remained people and later became victims "without means to flee," yet no one was suspicious of why the "kind and generous" hazibbolah didn't help its people to escape even the Israeli army has given them time and warnings again and again?

Can people recalled any war history that one side would disclose in advance where and when they would attack?! Why has Israeli army done so? For no other reason rather than for the sake of the Lebanon civilians! Yet, it got the blames...

The sky behind you gradually came to light when your program aired from Haifa last week. I looked outside the windows of my apartment in Jerusalem - they are the same sky but it was so quiet here at 5am, only the birds began to sing. I was disoriented by the feelings and wished so much the my people and all people up north will have the peace we all should have.

I missed your interview with the Israeli kids who collect Katusya fragments. I just want to tell you that when the war is finished, when the true peace is resumed to the people of Israel and Lebanon, stay a little longer in Israel if you can. You will meet kids who will tell you what their true fun are. They will share their favorite experiences and make you smile.

Every fallen solider causes heartache to the whole nation, every civilian casualty on both sides reminds us how cruel war is. However, not to leave our kinapped soilders behind,not to let our people living daily life under terrorist attack, we must gather our strength and fight.

American people should also enable to relate this to 911. I was in New York working from midtown Manhattan while the attacks occurred. I remember the heartache then and I must support our army to fight in order to avoid future heartache; and to hope that history, most importantly the bad part of history, will not repeat.

The 360 blog is a good thing, I don't wish to turn it into a place of complaints and quarrel.
Your emotional and personal involvement to what you are doing is praiseworthy because it is a right thing to do. It needs a lot of strength and courage. Please be assure that it's appreaciated and needed. Therefore, you all must stay safe, and don't forget to keep up the work, and the hope!

Nitza, from Jerusalem in Israel
Posted By Anonymous Nitza, Jerusalem, Israel : 3:56 PM ET
So, when are you going to ride with Hezbollah?
Posted By Anonymous Silvio Vega, Davie, FLorida : 3:58 PM ET
Anderson, you have such amazing talent and potential to save TV journalism. You really do. But with ridiculous stunts like this, you lose lots of credibility with people like me. I watch your show a lot and I understand your other correspondents do the Lebanese side of the story, and you're based in Israel, but it does not at all show the conflict as unbiased. It shows it with a heavy dose of Israeli perspective and a very cursory dose of Hezbollah, and an even more marginal dose of the Lebanese people's plight.

Cool, you're reporting with a big gun shooting behind you. What a great dramatic backdrop. But you must realize your set piece is likely killing innocent people while you put on airs of covering all sides of the story equally. Imagine the outrage of your viewers if you gave your reports standing in front of a Hezbollah rocket position while it fired on Israel. Why is that wrong, but it is ok to do the opposite from the Israeli side.

I think you have a good heart and you must know that these ludicrously unnecessary action segments you do will do nothing to help inform your viewers of why these things are happening.

Joe Strummer would be ashamed.
Posted By Anonymous Eric Pope, Somerville, MA : 3:58 PM ET
What I dont understand is how in some eyes a war between hezbolla and israel is the US's fault. And Bush is to blame for this.
Posted By Anonymous Steven, Milwaukee WI : 4:03 PM ET
Great job! keep us posted. I learn more here than anywhere else. No offense of 360
Posted By Anonymous jerryferguson; alexandria, LA : 5:00 PM ET
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