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Live From the Front Lines: Bombs Over Baghdad

Aired March 27, 2003 - 20:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Explosions in the night of Baghdad, 4:00 in the morning. It has been like this now, the explosions on and off, for the last several hours. You see the pictures of Baghdad.
Good evening again, everyone. I'm Aaron Brown at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting tonight live from Kuwait City.

The latest round of detonations came about an hour ago, more unfolding even as we speak. But there were perhaps even the largest explosions earlier tonight. Listen to this.

Witnesses reported the bombs struck several sites previously targeted, including a presidential palace and military positions on the city limits. Part of Iraq's international communications center also appeared to be targeted. The site, in the heart of Baghdad, operates part of Iraq's phone system -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, that's the what of it. Let's take a minute to try deal with the why of it. Miles O'Brien is at the map table, I believe, and has more on why they would go after these sites -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, we're actually taking a look at some satellite imagery, which is rather dramatic. First of all, I want to tell you a little bit about how we were able to capture this imagery. If we look at some computer animation, which is brought to us by our folks at Analytical Graphics -- We have the wrong thing punched up there. If we could put in this GR-102 for us, please.

And I'm going to show you this Quickbird satellite, which is operated by a company called Digital Globe. You notice the time here, that's Universal Time, Greenwich Mean Time, if you will, 7:45 a.m. today. That satellite, at about 100 miles above Baghdad, captured some images of Baghdad which are very telling.

And joining me to talk a little bit about it is Major General Don Shepperd.

As we zoom in on Baghdad, using our browser, we'll show you exactly what we're talking about here. We can sort of do our own armchair bomb damage assessment. Let's shift sources now to GR-101, please, and we're going to zoom in on Baghdad and show you this new animation, this new imagery which we just got.

Now, you can see the wide picture of Baghdad there. As I bring it in, you're going to see this capability of this satellite imagery.

And the -- You know what, Aaron, I got to tell you, the computer gods are not working for me now. And that imagery is not coming up for me.

BROWN: All right, let -- Miles...

O'BRIEN: Why don't you...

BROWN: Let's, let's...

O'BRIEN: ... come back in a minute?

BROWN: Let's do this. Let's get the computers to talk to each other, in the way that computers are supposed to talk to each other, and then you can talk to the computers and the general.

And in the meantime, we'll talk to Wolf -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see if our computers are working here in Kuwait City.

There's a story developing right now in northern Iraq. Tonight, a remote airstrip in the northeastern part of the country has become what is effectively a hub of coalition activity. Huge C-130 and C-17 cargo planes are constantly arriving, unloading tanks, armored personnel carriers, troops, and artillery.

They're coming and going at an airstrip that was seized and secured only last night.

CNN's Brent Sadler shows us now some dramatic paratrooper operations that were a key to opening up a new northern front.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A daring mission to northern Iraq for American troops under the cover of darkness. Ten waves of paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade jumping in batches, 100 at a time.

They landed in friendly territory controlled by Iraqi Kurds. A breathtaking assault by 1,000 men, precision-timed and safely accomplished. No shots fired.

We found them at daybreak assembling in groups scattered across the drop zone. No southern Iraqi desert sands here in the rugged mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan.

They landed on a carpet of grass and soft earth, men and equipment caked in mud following days of heavy rain.

(on camera): Good morning. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sergeant, Brent Sadler from CNN. Good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Sergeant Geringer (ph). SADLER: Welcome to Iraq.


SADLER: How was it? Tell me, please, the parachute drop overnight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parachute drop was well. It -- everything went according to plan. Planes came in, dropped us off. Just like how we normally do business.

SADLER: A drop from 1,200 feet, a rush of adrenaline, and the crack of an opening parachute before hitting the ground. That's how these troops describe their dramatic entry into the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're floating out there, you know, it's pitch black. You know, you don't know what to expect. You're just waiting to hit the ground and, you know, put your weapon in operation, and get ready to go.

SADLER (voice-over): Parachutes are quickly packed, weapons cleaned and made ready. But it's slow going at first across this soggy plain.

Nearby, more U.S. special forces have arrived, flown in by helicopter. They start to secure this vital landing strip.

Follow-up forces...


BROWN: Talked to Sergeant Geringer shortly after he landed on the telephone last night. He said, Just like we trained, over and over again.

We've rebooted our computers. Miles O'Brien and the general join us now. Take a look at the bomb damage assessment -- gentlemen.

O'BRIEN: Your forbearance is appreciated, Aaron. We're back with the computer.

Take a look at a wide shot of Baghdad. The image that you're seeing in your screen in just a few seconds is -- was taken actually about a year ago. And as I bring in this new image, I want to ask Don Shepperd, this was taken at 2:30 a.m. Eastern time, 10:30 a.m. today Baghdad time.

And as you can see, there's some big differences here. As you watch, I'll put it in one more time. Don Shepperd, what are we seeing here as you look at those clouds of black smoke that kind of come in there?

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Over here on the right side, you saw the ditches that were ignited by the Iraqis containing oil, hoping to obscure certain areas there, Miles. It doesn't work. We have sensors that can see through this. The only thing this is going to cause is coughing in downtown Baghdad.

There are certain things that it does. It obscures visual acuity through this, of course. But from the standpoint of the sophisticated sensors that the United States and coalition forces have, it does not obscure the battlefield in any way.

O'BRIEN: All right. Well, as I slide back and forth, it sure gives the sense of being a fairly good ruse to block a bombing campaign.

SHEPPERD: Indeed it does. On the other hand, the bombing campaign, the visual spectrum, and the infrared spectrum is very wide. And so it depends upon what part of the visual spectrum this obscures. If it obscures one, you look through another. It's not something that's going to stop a war, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. Now, here's something else that I find of great interest. It's when you look at, for example, the Al Salam (ph) palace, which was a target today, and also was a target a few nights ago. If you look at these images, you -- it's very difficult to detect any damage. That's The most recent image. That's the old image.

I guess the lesson here is that precision bombing is really difficult to detect from satellites.

SHEPPERD: It is indeed. And precision bombing is not meant to destroy the palace or the grounds. You are after things that are in that palace, things that are buried underground. You're after what we call DMPIs, desired point of mean impact. And -- or desired mean, desired mean point of impact, I'm sorry.

So you're after specific things in this compound. The old days, we used to come in with bombers and obliterate the entire compound and kill things around it. We don't do that anymore, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. Quickly, I just want to show you one other thing. Fifteen miles north of Baghdad, a field. That's a new image, that's the old image, the old image coming in there.

And what I want to point out to you is, as we zoom in a little bit closer on this, it is quite clear that in this area, which is obviously wooded, and Don Shepherd, maybe you could help me out and just point out in the middle there, there's at least one tank. We spotted several others, we think, near the trees, and the associated treads with it.

So for whatever reason, 15 miles north of Baghdad, there is some armor waiting in those trees. Don Shepperd, what do you make of that?

SHEPPERD: All right, indeed. In the old days, this dispersal was the way for defense. And basically if you ran a B-52 strike across this, you would likely miss most of those, damage some. These days, dispersal is not a factor. We have the ability to give the specific coordinates of all these from overhead imagery, overhead sensors, as well as Air Force controllers and special forces controllers on there.

We can hit these with satellite-guided weapons, we can hit them with laser-guided weapons, we can also hit them with things like the JSOL (ph), the joint standoff weapon that has sophisticated bomblets in it that seek out armor signatures on the ground.

So it's very difficult for an army to hide its military stuff these days, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right, a little bit of armchair bomb damage assessment, and a little bit of armchair reconnaissance done through the good graces of our friends at and Digital Globe.

Don Shepperd, thanks for your insights. We appreciate it.

SHEPPERD: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: And Aaron, thank you for your patience.

BROWN: Thank you very much.

The city of Baghdad was rocked tonight by a series of explosions as coalition bombs and missiles again rained down on the Iraqi capital.

CNN national correspondent Frank Buckley -- Do we have Frank? Is it -- We don't, OK, we'll come back to Frank.

And instead, we'll go to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, and his reporting of the day.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No one ever said it would be easy. But apparently, no one said it would be this hard either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were very surprised. We were told when we were going through Nasiriyah that we should look -- see little to no resistance. And then when we got in, it was a whole different ball game. They weren't rolling over like we thought they would.

SGT. CHARLES HORGAN, U.S. ARMY: I thought, you know, Oh, my God, I'm going to die. I thought, No, I'm going to lose my legs. It's going to hit the truck.

MCINTYRE: The Army's 7th Cavalry, which endured a harrowing 72- hour dash through what's been dubbed Ambush Alley, got as much shock and awe as they gave.

SGT. PAUL WHEATLEY, U.S. ARMY: It's unreal. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- it's unimaginable. I mean, you're constantly almost paranoid -- or you are paranoid of about every turn or every building or every person. And it's a little nerve-wracking at times.

MCINTYRE: Some Pentagon officials concede they underestimated both the reach of Saddam Hussein's fanatically loyal Fedayeen fighters and their ability to terrorize Iraqi soldiers and civilians.

Now the Pentagon says it will no longer call them paramilitary forces.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: In fact, what they are is death squads, enforcers. And what they do is, there's probably somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 of them in the country. And they go into these cities and shoot people and threaten people and insist that they not surrender and not rise up.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld insists that's why, so far, U.S. troops have not been hailed as liberating heroes in places like Basra, Nasiriyah, and Najaf.

BRIG. GEN, VINCENT BROOKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Our field commanders report that in the vicinity of An Najaf, as one example, Iraqi regime forces are seizing children from their homes, telling their families that the males must fight for the regime, or they will all face execution.

MCINTYRE: While the guerrilla tactics have forced more caution and inflicted casualties on U.S. forces, the Pentagon insists it hasn't changed the overall strategy, which is to focus on containing the six Republican Guard divisions around Baghdad and then methodically killing them.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: When they move, we try to hit them. We are bringing a lot of force against them, to include our Apaches and our fixed-wing air, having some effect, we think, in degrading their combat capability. And at some point, at a time of our choosing, we will engage them, and we'll see what kind of fight they have.

MCINTYRE: It could still be awhile before U.S. forces enter Baghdad. Sources say the Pentagon strategy is to pound Republican Guard positions for days with big guns and precision air strikes before moving on the capital.

Pentagon sources say the U.S. is ahead of the original war plan, which called for five days of air strikes before the ground campaign began. The final version of the plan had ground troops going in a day after the air war kicked off. The last-minute decision to send the ground troops in two days early has put the U.S. slightly ahead of where it expected to be at this time.


MCINTYRE: The Pentagon says there are now about 90,000 coalition troops in Iraq, including U.S., British, and Australian forces. About 100,000 more U.S. troops are on the way over the next several months. What they do when they get to Iraq depends on what's happening on the ground, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Jamie, amid all of this, Richard Perle, who is a strong supporter of the war and adviser to the defense secretary, steps down as the chairman of this Defense Policy Board. What happened?

MCINTYRE: Well, basically, Perle, who has been a real hawk on the issue of Iraq, was accused of having a conflict of interest because he works for a company called Global Crossing, a telecommunications firm, or is a consultant to them.

Now, Perle vigorously denies that he did anything wrong, and this is an unpaid position, this advisory role at the Pentagon. Nevertheless, he's decided to step down, he says, in order to make sure that Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't have to deal with any distractions as he is dealing with the war.

He says that -- the accusation is that he was trying to get the Pentagon to drop its objections to Global Crossing being sold to some Asian investors who might have ties to China. He says that's not the case.

Nevertheless, he says, any fees he gets from Global Crossing in connection with that acquisition deal, he will donate to the families of Americans who have loved ones killed or injured in the war in Iraq, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thanks very much.

The Pentagon also says 20,000 troops from the Army's 4th Infantry Division will be leaving Fort Hood for Iraq over the next few days.

There was a deployment ceremony today for the troops at the central Texas base. Next month, they'll be joined in the Gulf region by another 100,000 ground troops. Officials tell CNN the new deployments are a continuation of the Pentagon's plan, and not -- not -- a change in overall strategy.

At Camp David today, two leaders sharing a weighty mission. Our senior White House correspondent, John King, will join us with more on their plans for waging war and rebuilding Iraq.


BROWN: President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair say the coalition is making steady progress in the campaign to depose Saddam Hussein. But they're not about to give a timetable on how long it will take.

Senior White House correspondent John King has more on today's talks at Camp David.


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president and prime minister were determined to talk about the goal of the war, not its timetable.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein will be removed, no matter how long it takes. KING: Skirmishes in southern Iraq continue. Troops are being rushed into the north, and the Army's march on Baghdad has paused. But the men leading the coalition say they see far more progress than problems.

BUSH: Slowly but surely, the grip of terror around the throats of the Iraqi people is being loosened.

KING: The Camp David summit included talk of what postwar role the United Nations should play. And both British and U.S. officials tell CNN talk of a major rift on this point is exaggerated.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Our primary focus now is and must be the military victory, which we will prosecute with the utmost vigor.

KING: Yet a day after, Secretary of State Powell told Congress the United States, not the U.N., would take the dominant postwar role. Blair suggested more consultations were needed.

BLAIR: Without trying to do it by discussion through the press conference or megaphone diplomacy.

KING: Both leaders want quick U.N. action on another front, resuming humanitarian aid under Iraq's oil-for-food program. Some U.N. Security Council members are resisting. They say resuming aid now might be seen as endorsing the war.

BUSH: More than half the Iraqi people depend on this program as their sole source of food. This urgent humanitarian issue must not be politicized.

KING: By the time Mr. Blair arrived at the U.N. Thursday night, a compromise was in the works, and a Security Council vote is set for Friday.


KING: And senior White house officials say those complaining that the war is bogged down simply do not understand the strategy deliberately designed to minimize Iraqi civilian casualties and designed to minimize damage to Iraq's infrastructure.

One very senior official at the White House tonight recalled a, quote, "little sense of deja vu," saying early in campaigns in Afghanistan and even in the Kosovo campaign back in the Clinton administration, there were complaints by those who deemed the strategy a failure.

Those critics, the officials said, were proven wrong in both those cases. And the official predicted within a matter of days if -- maybe a week or so, they'd be proven wrong this time too, Wolf.

BLITZER: John, the president's been very visible the last several days. Is that going to continue to be the case? KING: It will indeed, Wolf, including tomorrow in the Rose Garden at the White House. Mr. Bush will bring in perhaps the best audience a president can have at a time of war, next to the troops, we saw him at an Air Force base yesterday with troops. He will have in the Rose Garden tomorrow members of veterans' organizations.

Mr. Bush will urge them to maintain public support here at home for the troops, and he will make his case to the American people. And of course, anytime he speaks these days, a global audience, that the war is going well. And as he put it today, it will continue until Saddam Hussein is gone, Wolf.

BLITZER: Literally, the whole world is watching. John King at the White House, thanks, John, very much.

Antiwar sentiment is very strong in Russia, where nine out of 10 people oppose this war. Some parts of the country, indeed, the opposition is even taking the form of candy bar and bubble gum boycotts.

Our Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty, has more.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Russia has its first prowar demonstration today, 20 people standing across the street from the American embassy in Moscow with signs saying "America, we are with you." They were heckled.

There's a new poll out that shows that 91 percent of Russians are opposed to this war. However, that does not necessarily mean that they are pro-Saddam Hussein. Many Russians feel that the United States did not go far enough and try hard enough to find a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis, and that this war is illegal.

There are few, however, antiwar demonstrations in Russia. And there has been no violence, with the exception of one 29-year-old man -- the police say he was drunk -- who threw a rock at the American embassy window. He was arrested.

In some smaller cities, however, they have organized some boycotts. In one town, for example, a restaurant is refusing to serve Americans or British citizens. However, there are very few Americans or British in that town.

And in another town, Russian schoolchildren have decided that they are going to give up something from America -- Snickers Bars and gum.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.


BLITZER: Heavy coalition artillery fire, meanwhile, in and around Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, with more than a million people, civilians. They are more worried about something else, though, than the sounds of war. We'll have a situation report from our Christiane Amanpour when we come back.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The British are setting up checkpoints all along this road, from the border up to Basra, not only to secure the area militarily, but to also try to show the population that they are in control.



BROWN: British and American forces continue to work in several locations in southern Iraq. Coalition forces trying to break up pockets of opposition from Iraqi troops apparently sent down from Baghdad. The hope is that local civilians will wage their own war against Saddam Hussein's regime eventually.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour says today the Iraqis had other things on their minds.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): America and Britain again vowed to remove Saddam Hussein. And a British tank obliged, with this symbolic display. That was just south of Basra, where the British say they are trying to wear down the Iraqi regime's military and political resistance and encourage the people to rise up.

But the only sign of civilian movement was dozens heading out of town, trying to get away from the bombardment, seeking not just safe shelter, but food and water too.

The British say they are fighting on two parallel tracks, one in heavy metal, the other on foot.

This is what the British call soft operations, military action aimed at counterinsurgency and trying to win hearts and minds.

(on camera): The British are setting up checkpoints all along this road, from the border up to Basra, not only to secure the area militarily, but to also try to show the population that they are in control, and to try to instill some confidence.

2ND LT. ANDY SHAND, BRITISH ARMY: Obviously, there is a hardline militia which is working in this area to try and basically intimidate people and stop them speaking to us. So it's part of our role, one of our key roles, is to make the civilian population feel safe. If they feel safe, they'll talk to us, we'll get intelligence, and obviously that's going to help us greatly.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): British soldiers tell us they have found ammunition and artillery rounds along the road, possibly to be used to ambush them. But on this day, the Iraqis driving by are mostly good- natured and cooperate readily with the military searches. Some wave white flags as they approach the checkpoints. And many tell us they are still afraid. They don't know exactly who's in charge yet. Others say they welcome the allies' arrival, and Saddam's eventual departure.

But most of the people tell us they are hungry and thirsty. When soldiers asked to see inside these barrels, they found them filled not with weapons, but water collected from the recent rainfall. And we watched these women scoop water from puddles on the ground.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, on the road to Basra in southern Iraq.


BROWN: Well, keep that in mind as you look at this, 200 tons of humanitarian aid are sitting on British ships right now. They can't get those ships into a safe harbor. The shipment was to arrive at the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, but has been delayed because of concern over underwater mines. U.K. mine hunters discovered and detonated two mines last night. But that is slow and difficult work.

Supplies shipped by land did begin arriving near the Iraqi-Kuwait border today. And as you can see, there was some chaos associated with it, people hoping to grab what they can. Aid workers managed to hand out 12 tons of medical supplies and other goods -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This is going to be quite an ordeal, Aaron, getting the stuff in from the port of Umm Qasr. Not very easy. They're hoping to open up a little bit of that port tomorrow, and then the land route is going to be very complicated as well, given all the land mines and all the other serious security problems that still exist.

Meanwhile, the United States has learned some lessons from the first Gulf War, as well as conflicts in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia.

But Saddam Hussein has been watching as well. So has his top military leadership.

Coming up, what lessons they may have learned.


BLITZER: What has Saddam Hussein learned from past conflicts, not just from the first Gulf War, but also from his war with Iran and from watching the U.S. deal with Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo during the last decade?

Joining us now to help answer that question is CNN analyst Ken Pollack. He's a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of the important book "The Threatening Storm: The Case For Invading Iraq."

Ken, you spent years in the U.S. government studying the Iraqi military. What have they learned?

KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it's a very important question to ask, because the Iraqis, like everyone, are prisoners of their past. They've learned a lot of lessons from the Iran-Iraq war and I think the stuff that's operative in this war, the stuff that's important to consider in this war.

What they learned in the Iran-Iraq war was, one, they can defend cities. At least they think they can defend cities. And a lot of what we're seeing about how they're planning to defend Baghdad are based on their successful defenses of Basra in 1982 and 1987 against the Iranians. Of course, we're going to attack them very differently. That is, the U.S. and U.K. forces will attack them very differently this time around. But, nevertheless, the Iraqis seem to believe they can defend cities.

They also believe that their society can sustain large numbers of casualties and continue to function. Since that time, they've also fought the Gulf War. And what seems to be operative here for the Iraqis is that they learned two things from the Gulf War: first, that they can't leave their army out in the middle of the desert, that leaving it out in the desert was absolutely the wrong thing, that the United States was able to obliterate them; and, secondly, that their forces have a great deal of difficulty standing up to U.S. and British forces in an open fight.

That's why they've concentrated their troops in cities, why they've concentrated them around the difficult terrain around Baghdad. Now, from our experiences in Kosovo, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, the Iraqis seem to have learned two things. First, they continue to believe that the U.S. won't take casualties. And this seems to be a real article of faith with Saddam himself. He seems to be absolutely convinced that the United States just won't take casualties.

And, in particular, he has referred to the U.S. intervention in Somalia and the fact that the U.S. had to withdraw there after only suffering 18 dead any number of times. In addition, what we're seeing at the tactical level also suggests that the Iraqis look to Somalia in particular as the place where they can learn lessons and the right kind of approach for fighting this war.

The use of these irregulars, mounted in these technicals, pickup trucks, SUVs with weapons, machine guns, mortars, grenade launchers on top of them, is exactly what the Somalis did. And I think that it's pretty clear that Saddam Hussein believes that his own forces will be able to attrit, bloody and slow down U.S. forces exactly the way that Mohammed Farah Aidid's forces did in Mogadishu.

BLITZER: But the Iraqis have never had to deal with the power. The Iranians certainly didn't have the air dominance, the airpower that the United States has.

POLLACK: Absolutely, Wolf. And this, of course, is the Iraqi dilemma. Let's set Saddam aside for a second, because Saddam can come up with some pretty bizarre interpretations of things.

As best we understand it, the Iraqi military, the Iraqi generals -- and many of the Iraqi generals are actually quite competent -- they do understand the enormous imbalance that they face, that their forces simply do not have the combat capabilities of U.S. and British troops, that the fact that they don't have any control of the sky, that U.S. and British forces have complete command of the air, is another problem that they face.

And, in fact, it seems very clear that in putting together the strategy for fighting this war, what they were looking to do was to make the best out of a very bad situation and to come up with some kind of a strategy that might allow them to prevail. This is not a military strategy. They're not looking for a military victory here, because they recognize that they really can't take on U.S. and British forces in the field.

What they're looking for is a political victory. What they're hoping is that they will be able to so bloody and slow down U.S. and British forces and so turn international opinion against the United States and Great Britain that Washington and London will, on their own, stop the war, that Washington and London won't be willing to keep on taking casualties and keep on taking the heat of international pressure.

BLITZER: Very briefly, is that a prescription for chemical warfare on the part of the Iraqis?

POLLACK: Yes, I think we still have to expect that, at the end, when the battle for Baghdad is fought, that the Iraqis will use chemical warfare. So far, they've held off, as best we can tell, because they do want to preserve international opinion on their side.

But if that doesn't work for them and it looks like the United States is going to come in and reduce Baghdad itself, I think, under those circumstances, we have to expect that Saddam will use everything in his arsenal to stave off defeat.

BLITZER: Not a pretty picture. Ken Pollack, thanks very much for that analysis, though.

POLLACK: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And for those of our viewers just tuning in, we'll have a recap of this hour's headlines. That's coming up.

And then we will be right back with a closer look at our top story. We'll ask CNN's Nic Robertson about tonight's huge, huge detonations in Baghdad.


BLITZER: The chairman of the U.S. Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon is stepping down from his job. Richard Perle says he wants to avoid any charges that he could benefit from the war in Iraq. Perle advises the Defense Department on policy matters.

For the latest developments on the war, here's CNN's Miles O'Brien.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 11:45 a.m. Eastern time: CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports, 20,000 troops from the 4th Infantry Division will leave Fort Hood, Texas, for Iraq in the next few days and 100,000 more ground troops will be deployed next month. The Pentagon says the new deployments were already in the works and are not a change in strategy.

12:12 p.m.: CNN's Bob Franken, embedded with the Air Force, reports the U.S. is trying to establish a forward operating base at a captured Iraqi air facility. The base is 150 miles closer to the action than the current base.

12:17 p.m.: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says the Republican Guard has created rings of security around Baghdad and Saddam's birthplace, the northern city of Tikrit.

1:41 p.m.: In Baghdad, Iraq's defense minister says the coalition lied about finding chemical protection equipment in an abandoned headquarters building, but he also says Iraqi soldier carries chemical gear to protect himself.

3:15 p.m. Eastern, 11:15 p.m.: in Baghdad, near the Information Ministry, a huge explosion and a plume of smoke, one of many in the Iraqi capital this day.


BROWN: Those coalition airstrikes hit Baghdad just a few hours ago. They sent a large plume of smoke over the city. Look at that.

CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, of course, spent a lot of time in Baghdad before the Iraqi government threw him out a few days back. He's near the Jordanian-Iraqi border now with a little bit more on what the targets might have been why and also how media is getting information out of Iraq -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, from what I can see looking at the pictures, it appeared to be an international communications center, which is a building just across the Tigris River from Iraq's Information Ministry, a 10-story building. We could see the explosions at the base of it, a ball of fire erupting around that building.

Interesting that that building was targeted now -- in the 1991 Gulf War, it was targeted on the first night of bombing. A cruise missile went through and took out the seventh floor of that building. There are other communication facilities around Baghdad, so it's not clear the impact that this particular targeting will have had.

A source earlier today in Baghdad told me that an area that had a satellite facility at the back of Iraq's Information Ministry had been targeted by what he described as quite a small missile, perhaps because, as coalition planners say, they try and avoid civilian casualties, that area an area with a lot of civilian housing around there, so a small munition taking out apparently some satellite facilities there, clearly, coalition targeting communication centers, also, this night, targeting as well, going back and re-hitting some targets in a presidential palace right in the center of Baghdad, right on the banks of Tigris.

This comes on a day when there's been challenging views on information on what happened in Baghdad in that marketplace explosion, yesterday, Iraqi officials saying it was a coalition cruise missile, coalition planners saying that that was not the case, that they believe it could have been -- could have been -- an Iraqi missile. It all calls into question just how to get the truth in this situation.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Cruise missile or Iraqi missile, the devastation in Baghdad's Shaab market is serving not only to polarize opinion about the rights and wrongs of this war, but raise questions about how to get to the truth.

QUESTION: Could you tell me who is telling the truth here? And is this war all about image-building?

BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS: What I will tell you is, first, that I can tell you who's telling the truth in this room right now. I am. And we'll tell you the truth with everything we know.

ROBERTSON: For their part, Iraqi officials, in their now frequent briefings, insist their version of events is the truth -- a war within a war.

JUDITH MATLOFF, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: The role of a journalist, generally, is to give a balanced view. You give both sides, a bit of context, and you package the information in a way that you think is balanced.

ROBERTSON: But how to bring that balance and get to the truth. Iraqi officials control the number of journalists in Baghdad. CNN is among a lengthy list of banned news organizations. Those who are there find their movements tightly restricted.

MATLOFF: The Iraqi government would be better served if they allowed journalists to stay in the country. Covering something like a market blast, attacks on civilians, can only further its aims.

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First Sergeant Todd Woodhall, Apache Troop, U.S. Army 7th Cavalry. We've been talking with him about...

ROBERTSON: Coalition forces allow embedded journalists to see just about everything, but not report everything. No information may be shared that jeopardizes operational security.

AYMAN SAFADI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, JORDAN TV: Each side has its truth and you just have to make up your own mind as to what the truth really is. But, ultimately, you are in the midst of a propaganda war, disinformation war. And, therefore, the truth could very well be the victim. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Well, from this listening post, Wolf, about 350 miles from the Iraqi capital, certainly difficult to discern the truth. However, we believe it is worthwhile struggling to get to it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That's our job. We try to do the best we can under limited circumstances, very often.

And, Nic Robertson, you've been doing an excellent job for all of us. Thanks very much.

Coming up: a false alarm for our Walter Rodgers. He's embedded with the 3-7th Cavalry. We'll explain.

That's coming up next.



RODGERS: When the B-52 started dropping those bombs, could you hear the bombs?



RODGERS: We're hearing "incoming." We're not sure what it is. We see some stuff in the sky. We may have to break this off -- I think we're going to break off this live shot for the time being. We're not sure what we see up there -- good-bye.

We've got to dive for vehicles, we think. See you, bye.


BROWN: CNN's Walt Rodgers, who with the 3-7th Cavalry, on the air. It gives you an example of what it's like out there for the reporters. They see these contrails in the sky and they don't know whose missiles they are. It could be Iraqis'. It could be coalition. In this case, it turned out to be the coalition missiles heading towards Iraqi targets. For the troops and reporters traveling with them, a moment -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Aaron.

Coming up: dissent in the streets and possible danger still ahead.

Live from the front lines, we'll be right back.


BROWN: Police arrested 215 people in midtown Manhattan, New York, today, anti-war protesters staging what they called die-ins, lying in the streets. And you can't do that. This was all near Rockefeller Plaza. Protesters broke through the police barricades before lying down at the intersection of 50th Street and Fifth Avenue right there in midtown.

In San Francisco, a different scene this: About 30 seventh graders from a middle school marched down the street while holding up pictures of Iraqi children. The seventh graders said they were pen pals with these Iraqi children and they don't know now whether the kids are dead or alive.

Since the war began more than a week ago, we've been able to give you a pretty good look at what is happening in Iraq, at least where the American troops and the British troops are, but here's a slightly different take: a few minutes to talk about what has not happened yet.

We turn to our senior political analyst and jack of all trades, Bill Schneider.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let's step back for just a moment and talk about what hasn't happened in this war, at least not yet.

Turkish troops have not entered northern Iraq yet. The United States is eager to keep that from happening, because it could ignite clashes between Turks and local Iraqi Kurdish fighters. But Turkey has plans to send forces across the border if another refugee problem develops on the Turkish border, like the one after the 1991 Gulf War.

No decapitation of the Iraqi regime has occurred yet. But there's no definitive evidence that Saddam is alive or unharmed. All we know is that someone in Iraq is still in charge and they're fighting back.

No weapons of mass destruction have been used by Saddam Hussein yet. That issue could have the Iraqi leader in a catch-22, because, if he has them, the minute he uses them, he proves to the world that President Bush was right all along. But no weapons of mass destruction have been found by the allies either, just 3,000 highly suspicious chemical protection suits found at an Iraqi military hospital.

No terrorist reprisals have occurred against the United States yet. That's the biggest fear Americans have about this war. But the FBI has been questioning Iraqis living in the United States.

And, finally, the big picture: This war has been no cakewalk to victory, as some analysts predicted and some Americans expected. But it has not been the bloodbath that other analysts predicted either. It's not another Vietnam. It's not another Persian Gulf War. Like all wars, it's unique -- Aaron.

BROWN: And it is a week and a day old.


BROWN: With much to happen still, we presume. Thank you, Bill, very much.

We'll look at this still young war, if you will, through others' eyes in just a minute, our daily look at what news anchors and correspondents around the world are saying and showing their viewers.

Our coverage continues in just a moment. You're watching CNN.


BLITZER: It's time now to take a look at how this war is playing out on televisions around the world. Today, incidents of coalition friendly-fire are getting a lot of attention from international broadcasters, and some of it not very sympathetic.

CNN's Bruce Burkhardt takes a look.


BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Italian network, like so many others from around the world, devoted most of this newscast to the war, with updates on the battles and the latest death toll in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq.

Later, this reporter makes the following observation from the field. "Baghdad residents," she says, "are not too receptive. It is impossible to think Baghdad residents will welcome troops with open arms."

This is an English-speaking newscast from China. And listen to their take on the recent friendly-fire incidents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite their technological advantage, the U.S.-British forces have been involved in a series of friendly-fire incidents which have demoralized troops and embarrassed commanders.

BURKHARDT: Russia has featured extensive coverage, with reports from all over the battlefield, even though, in this particular one, you can see they borrowed CNN footage. The logo can be barely seen, obscured in the lower right-hand corner by their own graphic.

Like so many other newscasts from around is world, a lot of time is devoted to the pain of civilians. Here, a child is seen carried to a hospital in Basra. And during the tease to the newscast, the anchor says, "Friendly-fire kills Americans again." According to our translator, there was a tinge of sarcasm.

Later, a reporter in Baghdad says, "In the area of the Ministry of Information, we heard fierce gunfire and we thought that urban fighting had begun."

And, finally, this interesting piece of television from the Arab network Abu Dhabi: a live interview in the streets of Baghdad with Iraq's minister of information. During the interview, explosions nearby, to which this official says: "See what they're doing to us? But that will not scare us." Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Atlanta.


BROWN: That's it for this hour. "LARRY KING LIVE" coming up next.

Wolf, we'll talk to you again tomorrow.

And we'll talk to you at 10:00 Eastern time tonight. Good night.


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