CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Freedom, Chaos Spreads to Mosul; Is America Sending the Right Message to the Arab World, U.S. Allies?
Aired April 11, 2003 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Freedom spreads to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and so does chaos.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As we drove through the outskirts of the city, almost everywhere we looked that had any sort of government affiliation on it, was seen looted, looted and burned.
Liberators or occupiers. Is America sending the right message to the Arab world and to U.S. allies? Judy Woodruff has a rare interview with Secretary of State James Baker.
The long journey home, Iraqi soldiers shed their uniforms and head toward new lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in bad situations. So, we decided to escape and surrender.
CNN live this hour, Judy Woodruff reports from Washington with correspondents from around the world. A special edition of INSIDE POLITICS, the war in Iraq starts right now.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Actually, Judy Woodruff is in Houston for an interview with a man who has a unique prospective on the war in Iraq -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Candy. I'll be talking to the man who ran diplomacy during the first Persian Gulf war, former Secretary of State James baker. He still has close ties to the Bush family. I'll be talking to him about this war in Iraq and what comes after. That's coming up this hour -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Plus, President Bush has been visiting privately with war wounded being treated at two military hospitals in the Washington area. He talked about that experience and the war a short while ago. We'll have a report from the White House ahead.
But now, let's go to Kuwait City and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Candy. As the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tell it there's all sorts of chatter here in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf about where Saddam Hussein may or may not be. But Rumsfeld says he doubts Saddam is still alive. Yes, he doesn't know for sure what's going on, still a lot of speculation. The fall in Iraqi leaders hometown of Tikrit is the last major city holding out against coalition forces.
The Central Command says U.S. air strikes still are pounding Tikrit, and Central Command says they want Saddam and 51 other top Iraqi leaders dead or alive. Instead of wanted posters, the U.S. military is giving the troops playing cards with pictures of those Iraqi leaders.
Looting continues to be a major problem throughout Iraq, including now the northern city of Mosul. Iraqi forces gave up there today without a fight. For more on that, let's go to CNN's Jane Arraf, she's joining us live from Erbil, also, of course, in northern Iraq -- Jane.
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Kurdish officials tell us they're saddened by what happened today in Mosul, and they think it could have been prevented. Now they say U.S. special forces, a small number of them, along with Kurdish forces went in hours after the looting. And this was several hours after 15,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendered to U.S. military officials.
Now, the looting started very early in the morning after the Iraqi troops started to melt away. And it was widespread throughout the city. Almost any government building or any building with even the most tenuous association to the government was a candidate for looting.
It was chaotic scenes throughout the city. People pouring into these buildings, setting them on fire and leaving with anything they could take, including the walls, parts of the doorways, the window jams, absolutely everything. Now, if there was any proof that there was no control, it was that they were in the presidential palace.
Now, this was a palace on the river that most people would never have dreamed of approaching. Today, people were pouring into that palace and taking anything they could, including the chandeliers and the wooden pillars. There were smashed glass all over and the looting continued throughout the afternoon.
It also spread to one of the biggest and best hotels in Mosul, the Ninava on the river as well. Now, this ten-story hotel was stripped top to bottom with things lying on the ground and people carting away anything that they could, anything they could stuff into taxis or carry on their backs, essentially. And throughout the city, no one stopped them -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jane, how are they handling the extremely sensitive issue of Kurdish control of certain areas in the north and Turkish concern that the Kurds may be setting the stage for some sort of independent Kurdistan?
ARRAF: They're handling it very carefully. In Mosul, perhaps part of the reason that we didn't see Kurdish Peshmerga, those Kurdish fighters, from the major Kurdish factions here in the north of Iraq go into that city is that they really do not want to antagonize the Turks. They also don't want to upset the delicate ethnic mix in places like Mosul and Kirkuk. So it is a very delicate proposition here.
In Kirkuk, itself, we did see larger numbers of Kurdish forces. And that prompted the U.S. to advice Turkey to send in military observers to reassure them. For the Kurdish part, in their hearts, a lot of people tell us that eventually they would love an independent state, but they are realists. They have been prisoners of geography and history. And they realize the situation they're in. They say they are not pushing for independence. And they're trying very hard, Kurdish officials are, to make clear that they're not going to try to seize control of Mosul, and Kirkuk and those other key cities.
At the same time, it's very hard for them to stop that wave of Kurds who want to what they still consider their homes, even though their homes have been occupied for years by Arabs and other ethnic groups -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Jane Arraf, she's reporting from northern Iraq where there are dramatic developments unfolding.
Candy, I'm going to throw it back to you. Alert our viewers, I'm going to be taking a break. I'll be back at the top of the hour, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, for a full hour of coverage, including live coverage of that memorial service in Fort Bliss, Texas. Candy, back to you.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Wolf. We'll see you then. Here in Washington, the Pentagon may be taking steps to deal with the chaotic situation in Iraqi cities. Sources are talking of a plan to deal with lawlessness and looting.
CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins us now with the latest -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SNR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, once again, the Pentagon today somewhat on the defensive about the pictures coming out of Baghdad showing the, as you said, the looting and lawlessness, the civil unrest that's been going on in the city.
The Pentagon says that it anticipated this as part of its war planning. It's not unexpected, they said, to have a transition period when there would be this kind of activity going on. At the same time, though, they said the United States does have a plan to deal with it, including talking with other countries about making contributions of possible police forces or peacekeeping stabilization forces for the country.
Today, nevertheless, Donald Rumsfeld complained that these kinds of pictures were giving a distorted image about what was actually happening in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was henny penny, the sky is falling. I've never seen anything like it. And here is a country that's being liberated. Here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator and they're free.
And all this newspaper could do with eight or ten headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian who they claimed we had shot. One thing after another. It's just unbelievable how people can take that away from what is happening in that country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: The Pentagon also today released, essentially, a most wanted list of more than 50 Iraqi senior regime leaders in sort of a unique format, a deck of playing cards given to U.S. troops to help them identify. Top of the deck, of course, is Saddam Hussein, Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister was also one of the people who is targeted as one of the people they want to find.
Also, the two sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay. Uday, Qusay, and Saddam may have all been killed in a strike earlier on. They don't know. There was a similar strike in aimed last night at Saddam Hussein's half brother, Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti.
Last night, six satellite-guided bombs were directed at a safe house where he was believed to be holed up. But, again, the Pentagon has no intelligence yet to tell it whether it has successfully killed any of these top leaders. There's some suspicion that some regime leaders may have slipped into Syria. Although the United States believes none of the top ten or so would be in that category. The U.S. is continuing to try to account for the whereabouts of the senior leadership -- Judy.
CROWLEY: Hey, Jamie, it's Candy.
CROWLEY: That's OK. Before you go, back to Secretary Rumsfeld, is this a glass half full, glass half empty thing? Is he trying to push the coverage towards the more positive or does he sincerely believe there's a huge difference between what's being reported out of the region and what he's learning?
MCINTYRE: Well, I think it is a glass half full, glass half empty. Although in Rumsfeld's view of things, the glass is not just half full, it's close to the top, almost brimming over. He has a very, very optimistic view of what's going on.
In fact, you know, he just thinks on the scale of things, the idea that the entire country has been liberated far out shadows what he called the untidiness of some of the looting and civil unrest that's going on. But, of course, if you're caught in that unrest or unable to get critical services, you could feel that perhaps the glass is half empty. CROWLEY: Thanks so much. CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.
White House officials say coalition forces are rushing military units into Iraq that are trained to provide more security and to crack down on the chaos and lawlessness. One of their most important destinations will no doubt be Baghdad.
Let's go to the Iraqi capital now, CNN's Christiane Amanpour -- Christiane.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, I was listening to what you and Jamie were talking about in terms of Donald Rumsfeld's perception of what is going on here. And, of course, people do wave. And they are happy to see the marines and the troops.
But one of the reasons for this disorder is, perhaps, something that came out of some of the rosy and optimistic views that we were getting from the administration beforehand. They hoped that the police force would remain intact, that members of the regular army would remain intact, and help police, and man, and build and reconstruct a new Iraq. But, of course, that hasn't happened.
So, those predictions simply didn't come true. And what is here, is a very definite security vacuum. Anybody on the streets here or in Mosul, Kirkuk, Basra, wherever we go around this country can say, without a doubt, that there is a security vacuum. And the commanders on the ground here telling us that they simply are stretched too thin, they have war fighting to continue.
They have not finished their military operations. And they do not have what it takes to do the police work. So, the people of Baghdad, certainly, and other places that we've been are asking for some help.
And what's happening is there is free-for-all looting around all of the cities. And it's not just in government buildings but in private businesses, in homes now in many places, in hospitals, which is perhaps one of the most worrying humanitarian crisis right now. The hospitals which have had hundreds of wounded in them are simply, basically looted and empty. There's one or two that can still take care of the wounded.
And the Marines today did go and secure one of those after there was appeals to try to keep at least one hospital open to treat the wounded. Now, the ICRC representatives here are saying that there's basically very little that they can do now to help those in need of medical attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROLAND HUGUENIN-BENJAMIN, INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS: The ICRC (ph) is not operating anymore at all. It's looted. And Al Kindi is looted completely and not one patient can be taken care of in that place. We are very concerned what has happened to the hundreds of casualties who had been operated on and who is still in need of treatment. They have walked home with the open wounds, literally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, what one marine spokesman here in Baghdad told me this evening is they're going to try tomorrow to try to go to the representatives to seek out, for instance, people who were in charge of civil order, for instance, the police forces, the rest of the medical staff, the fire brigades, and any kind of civil administrators that they can find and try to persuade them to come back to work and help these people, the marines who are stretched quite thin over here, to maintain some kind of order here, because although the people do welcome the end of the Saddam regime, they're very concerned that the replacement of that is simply the fear of the danger that the lawlessness and banditry is bringing to them right now.
CROWLEY: CNN's Christiane Amanpour, back in Baghdad for us. Thanks, Christiane.
Still to come, faced with certain defeat, some Iraqi troops call it quits. Throwing off their uniforms, heading home.
WOODRUFF: Coming up after the break, my interview with former Secretary of State James Baker, here in Houston.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): 7:12 a.m., Brigadier General Vincent Brooks says Central Command has issued decks of cards to troops in Iraq, with pictures and information on 55 former Iraqi leaders, people to be captured or killed.
Later, CNN's Barbara Starr obtains one of the decks of cards from military officials. In this deck, Saddam Hussein is listed as the ace of spades.
8:37 a.m., a spokesman tells CNN's Walt Rodgers U.S. Marines have met with Baghdad public officials to come up with a strategy to restore public order and city services. He says he thinks the looting will diminish within 24-48 hours.
12:00 p.m., a huge fire rages in Baghdad at the Ministry of Planning building. CNN is unable to confirm the cause.
12:06 p.m., CNN's Walter Rodgers reports there's only one operating hospital in Baghdad as a result of the looting that is taking place in the capital.
12:16 p.m., at the White House, press secretary Ari Fleischer says that President Bush is not yet declaring victory.
CROWLEY: CNN's Judy Woodruff flew the coop this morning. Leaving her anchor desk to fly down to Houston where she is now with a guest who can shed a lot of light on what's going on in Iraq -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Candy, thanks very much.
I am in Houston. I'm at the Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy with the founder of the institute. He's former Secretary of State James Baker. He, of course, was a key player in the first Bush administration, still very close to the Bush family. And, Mr. Secretary, thank you for talking with us.
JAMES BAKER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you for being here, Judy.
WOODRUFF: This Bush administration seems to be on the verge of the most unprecedented military success victory since World War II. And yet today, we are watching scenes of chaos and lawlessness in many Iraqi cities. Is that how it's looking to you?
BAKER: Well, I think you should expect when the war is still going on, and the war is still going on, that there's going to be a certain amount of chaos. That's the way wars generally end, or often end. That's the way -- that's what happened in Kosovo. That's what happened, as a matter of fact, when the Soviet Union imploded. It's too some extent what happened as the war was ending in Afghanistan. So that shouldn't surprise people, that when you have a population that's been so oppressed, as the Iraqis have been for so long, that they would rise up in anger against their oppressors.
WOODRUFF: But the U.S. military, is it moving quickly enough to try and restore some order to Iraq?
BAKER: Well, all I can say on that score is that it has recognized, I think, from the very beginning that a part of winning the peace is to promote stability and encourage stability and create stability in the country after the war is over. So I'm sure they're going to move with alacrity. And I really think it's a little premature to be questioning that, given the fact that the statue -- that the war really -- you know, that the regime only collapsed a couple of days ago. So it's quite -- it's almost like saying that they didn't have -- that their military strategy was flawed, they said, and two days later, the whole thing went in their direction. So.
WOODRUFF: Well, you know, the war is still being fought in parts of Iraq. Secretary Baker, the Bush administration is saying that the United States is going to be playing the central role in the beginning in post-war Iraq. They are going to be bringing in the Iraqi people themselves as soon as possible, but they are saying it's the United States that's going to be overseeing the administration of Iraq after the war. Is that the right approach?
BAKER: Well, I don't think they're saying the United States is going to be overseeing the administration of Iraq after the war. What they're saying is, that part of winning the peace is creating stability and promoting stability, and, therefore, there will have to be a short period or some period of time during which the U.S. military will basically be in charge and doing that very thing. But then they're going to create an interim Iraqi authority, which is to be made up of Iraqis and people from Iraq. And they've said from the very beginning that they intend to turn this -- this thing over, this operation over to a representative consensual government of, by, and for Iraqis.
WOODRUFF: Does it concern you that there isn't more of a United Nations, let me just say, multilateral, many nation approach here in this interim period? And how long do you think U.S. troops are going to have to stay there?
BAKER: Well, let me say that it's only U.S. and British troops that are in a position to help promote stability. So if you want to end the chaos and the disorganization, you're going to have to have a period of time where they're in control and in charge, and where, again, another element of winning the peace is to prevent the country from splitting up into ethnic rivalries and divisions and score settling.
President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have said they're going to ask the United Nations for resolutions to respect the territorial integrity of Iraq. That could be very, very helpful. To endorse the post-conflict administration of Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance. And President Bush said that the U.N. would have a vital role.
WOODRUFF: So that's a sufficient role for the United Nations? It doesn't need to be any more involved in that?
BAKER: You know, Condoleezza Rice, I think, said yesterday in her briefing that the exact role of the United Nations is still to be worked out between the Iraqi people on the one hand, coalition partners on the other, and the U.N. officials on the third. So they're going to work out exactly what that role is to be.
WOODRUFF: It still sounds like a limited role for the U.N.
BAKER: Well, I don't know that you can put an adjective before it yet. Let's wait and see what it -- let's wait and see what it turns out to be.
WOODRUFF: Secretary Baker, are you worried about the reaction to all of this, increasingly negative reaction to all of this in the Muslim world? They've been seeing primarily pictures in their news coverage of dead and wounded Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi civilians, women and children. That's the picture they've been seeing. Does it concern you?
BAKER: Well, you know, unfortunately they've been fed an erroneous message, too, because they've been told up until the day Baghdad collapsed that the coalition forces were being beaten back. And so it was just purely erroneous propaganda that they were being given. And that's unfortunate. But I think that the administration, given what they've said, fully understands that the key to whether or not this is going to promote a better Middle East will be winning the peace in Iraq. And we've talked a little bit here about some of the things that are involved in that; there are some other things involved in it; and about dealing in the aftermath of this war with the Arab- Israeli dispute.
WOODRUFF: Mr. Secretary, we're going to take a short break, and when we come back, I'm going to ask former Secretary Jim Baker if Syria is going to be the next Iraq.
WOODRUFF: I'm Judy Woodruff in Houston, once again, with former Secretary of State James Baker. Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you about Syria, a country run by its own Baathist Party. It's been accused of sheltering Baathist leaders from the Saddam Hussein regime, otherwise helping Saddam Hussein. Could Syria, if it continues in this posture, be the next Iraq?
BAKER: Well, of course, that's not a question I can answer. That's a decision that would have to be made at the highest levels of the administration, made by the president himself.
Syria really, really should control its borders. It would be important for Syria to control its borders, particularly at this time, when there are American troops engaged in combat in Iraq. On the other hand, there have been statements from the administration that we would like to see a peaceful resolution of these -- or peaceful elimination, I should say, of these programs for weapons of mass destruction by certain countries. And that's the preferred, of course, route to go. And if Syria were to read something into what's happened in Iraq, that's one thing.
One final point. Iraq is a special and unique case, because for 12 years the international community has been trying to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.
WOODRUFF: I ask you, of course, because there are conservatives who have been making noises that Syria may be next on the list if they don't get their act together, in so many words. But I want to move on to Europe, because the Bush administration seems to be not in a hurry, at this point, to mend fences with France and with Germany and the other countries in Europe that opposed going to war in Iraq without specific U.N. authority. Should the administration be more aggressive to try and patch up these relations? How important are they?
BAKER: Well, you know, I think it's important to have allies and to have friends. It's not unlike being in the White House where you've got to call a congressman, he tells you he's going to vote -- he votes against you, and you get really sore at him, but you've got to ask him for a vote the next day.
Having said that, there's not a thing wrong with the United States expressing its disappointment to particularly France, I think, and Germany for their -- for their unwillingness to cooperate and for the really destructive way in which France went about things in the Security Council. And they can express that disappointment by word and by deed, and there's nothing wrong with that. Reconciliation is a two-way street.
WOODRUFF: But how much longer should that be carried on? BAKER: Well, reconciliation is a two-way street. Let's find out. Just the other day, we heard comments from France, in particular, that the only way that a post-Iraq can be administered is by the United Nations and the United Nations alone. Well, that's not working it out with -- between the Iraqi people, the coalition partners and the U.N. officials. That's sort of -- sort of dictating. And so it's OK for us to express our disappointment by word and deed, it seems to me.
WOODRUFF: I want to also ask you, Mr. Secretary, there appears to be a pretty significant split between this administration, with the exception of Secretary of State Colin Powell, and the first Bush administration, the administration you served in. There seem to be both public and private statements coming out of this administration in disagreement with some of the views that you and your colleagues held about the multilateral role of the United States in the world, a more internationalist approach to foreign policy.
BAKER: I don't know what statements you're talking about, and there certainly haven't been any at least on my part, disagreeing with the approach of the administration today. But there's been a change -- you know, we've moved 12 years. There's been 12 years that have passed since the first Gulf War. We are into it -- we are moving in connection with our actions in Iraq toward -- we're moving in a preventive and preemptive way.
WOODRUFF: But that's a change. It's a different approach to world affairs from the first Bush...
BAKER: Let me tell you something -- it is not at all different than doing what we did in Panama. That was uniquely preemptive. We went in there and the rest of the world castigated us. But I can understand in the aftermath of September 11 the rationale for not waiting when you're fighting terror and when you're fighting the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, not waiting until after the fact, because if you wait until after the fact, you've waited too long.
So it's a new -- it is a new -- if you want to call it this paradigm for application, though only in certain situations and circumstances.
WOODRUFF: So this -- and it is known now, it's been well reported, the split between the State Department and the Pentagon and parts of the White House, if you will, the vice president, they are known to have different views, and those views have prevailed for the most part, have they not, in this administration?
BAKER: Well, you're in Washington, D.C. and I'm a long way down here in Houston, Texas and you're a lot more familiar with the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that might have gone into the debate about what would or would not happened under a certain circumstances. I can't speak to that. There's also tension between State and Defense. That's historic. That's something that's not new or unique to this administration. But I don't think it's accurate to say that somehow there's a divergence of view between 43's governance or policies... WOODRUFF: The current president and his father.
BAKER: ... and 41's governance policy. I don't think there's a difference.
WOODRUFF: But you and Brent Scowcroft both argued for more of a U.N. approach before -- U.N. approval.
BAKER: Judy, make sure you're right. What I said was, we really should try to avoid at all costs just going it alone without first seeing if we can get the U.N. to come along. August 26, 2002, "New York Times." That's what the administration did. There was no divergence whatsoever. You can pick up the transcript of my pal Dick Cheney's interview with Tim Russert on "Meet the Press."
BAKER: And there it is. And Dick said there wasn't. So there has been none.
Now, I can't speak for other former members of President G.H.W. Bush's administration. I can't speak for them.
WOODRUFF: But just to be very clear, you're comfortable with the approach this administration has taken in Iraq.
WOODRUFF: In relying on the first U.N. resolution and not getting any further.
BAKER: I absolutely am comfortable. In fact, in retrospect it would have been better probably if we had not tried to get a second resolution unless we were to try and get it in private. Get the commitments for the votes before we let it be put on the table. But the president was doing what -- what he should have done, I suspect, in trying to help his ally, Tony Blair. He was trying to be helpful to the U.K. And the votes weren't there. You know, maybe you can argue, well, we should have gone around and made sure we had the votes before we surfaced the second resolution. But I'm extraordinarily comfortable, yes, I am, and have been from the beginning, the one suggestion I had made was, we really ought to try and do this by going through the United Nations. If you remember, the first attempt was a 15 to nothing unanimous resolution, Security Council Resolution 1441.
WOODRUFF: Secretary of State James Baker, it is always a pleasure to see you and we thank you very much for giving us the time.
BAKER: Thank you, Judy. Thank you for being here. It's nice to see you again.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
So, Candy, you heard it straight from him.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Judy. Really interesting. We will see you here very soon.
Now back to the war front: There are fires tonight in the capital city of Iraq. It's part of the massive destruction and pillaging in Baghdad. We'll show you what locals are trying to do to save a city hospital.
Please stay with us.
CROWLEY: We want to remind you that, at 5:00, in less than an hour, we will be taking you to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a memorial service will be held remembering fallen comrades of the 507th Maintenance Company.
Now, we've been telling you about the chaos in Iraqi cities. It seems no government office or former official's home is being spared from being vandalized and looted.
CNN's Jim Clancy shows us the problem in Baghdad. And now even a city hospital has become a victim of lawlessness.
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No longer under the gun of Saddam Hussein, Baghdad burned with a dangerous mixture of fear and anger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look around. Everywhere is burning. We don't feel safe.
CLANCY: Businessmen picked up Kalashnikov assault rifles to protect their life's work and their family's future.
"Ask the Americans," demanded one. "Why don't they protect our belongings, our lives, and our homes? That's what we need. This isn't the freedom Bush talked about." Everywhere you turned in the capital Friday, there were looters. While there seemed little complaint about the looting of officials' residences, the looting of shop owners was condemned and confronted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are taking up guns to protect our market and our belongings. And please tell the military of America to come here and to protect our market.
CLANCY: At Al Kindi Hospital, the emergency room was a wreck. Pool of blood were diluted by intravenous drips left spilling on to the floors. The entry of armed looters a day earlier prompted the entire medical staff to evacuate. In their place, a local religious leader put armed young men around the facility. Sayed Rahim Al-Mosuwi (ph) said the hospital needed security and it needed the doctors to return.
But even though his so-called security force donned the blue medical garb to help identify the good from the bad, it is unlikely any doctors will return, so long as these or any gunmen are inside. Even the truckload of medical supplies that arrived while we watched wasn't all it seemed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And these people stolen these medicine (INAUDIBLE) from the volunteers.
CLANCY: These medical supplies had been looted from a central warehouse. Now a truck was bringing them directly to the hospitals for safekeeping. The question foremost in many Iraqis minds was whether anywhere in Baghdad was really safe.
(on camera): As darkness fell across the city, U.S. Marines began enforcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew, at least in the eastern part of the city. The sermon coming from the mosques this day also called for an end to the looting. Baghdad residents held their breath and hoped for the best, hoping the worst is over.
Jim Clancy, CNN, Baghdad.
CROWLEY: Still ahead: Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers give up the fight in northern Iraq and head home on foot. We'll have a report.
But first: some scenes of the USS Portland returning to Virginia Beach from the war in Iraq.
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Unarmed soldiers from Saddam Hussein's defeated army on the move in northern Iraq. They are mostly Muslim Shiite troops heading home, walking to southern Iraq, a journey of around 100 miles, perhaps seven days by foot. Feet that are cracked and blistered, boots missing and there's a long way to go.
But these men don't complain about the hardships of a grueling journey. Rather, they seem thankful to be still alive after years of military service with infantry units filled with unwilling conscripts. Life under Saddam Hussein's iron fist rule, they told me, was a life of hell.
(on camera): Go ahead and translate at the same time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, for two months, for two months we haven't eaten anything because of our situations and the clothes we got, these are our clothes. We have brought them with us when you attended that regiment, our regiment in the mountains, and really we were in bad situations. So we decided to escape and surrender.
SADLER (voice-over): And, they explained, they had been forced to fight at gunpoint.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many punishments. One of them is to cut all, to cut the hair, to cut the hair completely and to cut the eyebrows, also, and if you will not defend, if you will not fight for Saddam Hussein, your punishment will be execution.
SADLER: They claimed their commanders abandoned them days ago. But not before seizing their identification papers, so they couldn't travel. Forced to hold their front line positions. Cannon fodder for an officer corps that ran away. This was an uncontrolled and unsupervised exodus from areas recently liberated by Iraqi Kurds. Their weapons and much of their military clothing was left with the Kurds. And they seem to pose no obvious security threat here. No American military presence on this road and little Kurdish interest in their former enemy, drifting south on a long walk to freedom.
Brent Sadler, CNN, near Kifri, northern Iraq.
CROWLEY: In Iraq, as in Kansas, there is no place like home.
We'll be back in a minute.
CROWLEY: No, not everybody in Washington is completely focused on the war in Iraq. Congress, for instance, has been working very hard on tax cuts.
We're going to bring in CNN's Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill.
I understand, Jonathan, they have also made a bit of news.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a dramatic development on the tax cut here, Candy.
What has happened is, for the past two days, Republicans have worked furiously to try to ensure that the Senate would pass one tax cut and the House would pass a larger tax cut, leaving the possibility of coming to an agreement down the road. What we have just learned is that a deal has been struck in the Senate that guarantees, or seems to guarantee, that no tax cut over $350 billion will pass the United States Senate.
This is a blow both for the president that was looking for a tax cut closer to $700 billion and also for House Republicans, who thought they would have a chance to fight this battle in some weeks after the president would have some popularity following this war in Iraq. Announcing this deal on the Senate floor was Chuck Grassley, the very powerful chairman of the Finance Committee, who said he recognizes that some people will see this as a defeat for the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: This is not about the president. This is not about the House of Representatives. This is not about the United States Senate. This is about our doing our job of governing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KARL: Now, Candy, I just spoke with a senior Republican aide on the House side, who said, when Tom DeLay heard about this, his reaction was -- quote -- "barely controlled fury." House Republicans thought they had a deal last night that, again, would allow them to fight this battle for a larger tax cut down the road -- Candy.
CROWLEY: So, Jonathan, where does this go next?
KARL: Well, this goes next to actually writing up that tax cut, to marking up that tax cut after this Congress returns from a two-week recess and will end up actually considering this closer to Memorial Day. But as they do that, they now have a very clearly defined perimeter. The tax cut in the Senate cannot exceed $350 billion, if Chuck Grassley does what he said, which is make an agreement doing nothing more than $350 billion.
CROWLEY: Thanks again, CNN correspondent Jonathan Karl, up on Capitol Hill.
We want to remind you again that, at the top of the hour, we will go to Fort Bliss, Texas, where the base will be remembering fallen comrades of the 507th Maintenance Company.
CNN will be back in a moment.
CROWLEY: It's the news military families fear the most, word that their loved one has been killed. In this war, at least 138 families of coalition troops have received that word.
CNN's Brian Cabell talked to one war widow from North Carolina's Camp Lejeune.
BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a home outside Camp Lejeune, the home of a Marine who died fighting in Iraq, his widow, only 32, reads one of the last letters he sent to their 2-year- old daughter.
CHELLE POKORNEY, WIDOW OF U.S. SOLDIER: "Are you taking good care of mommy? How is she doing? I know you're doing your best to help her with everything. Please give her a big hug and hiss for me and tell her that I love her, OK? I love you very, very much. And I miss you so much, my heart hurts. And I hope I get home to you and mommy soon. And don't forget me. Love always, daddy."
And he wrote it on the back of his favorite MREs, because they love peaches.
CABELL: Daddy was First Lieutenant Fred Pokorney, killed almost three weeks ago in an ambush in An Nasiriyah. And now his wife, Chelle, has photographs, letters, memories and the secure knowledge in her mind that his cause, the cause to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, has almost triumphed. POKORNEY: I hope they can have what they -- hopefully a democracy or whatever they're reaching for, freedom from any turmoil and the pain and the suffering they were going through.
I'm pleased to see when they take them food and water and medicine, because that's what we should do. We should reach out to each other always. It doesn't who we are or what. I would hope that they can find good things out of this.
CABELL: That's a little difficult for Chelle at this point. A picture-perfect life, with a tall, handsome, loving husband who was also a doting father has been turned upside down.
POKORNEY: I hope to be able to provide for my little girl and give her the life that her daddy would have given her, because it's going to be a struggle now, because our American dream that we had is now no longer. It's one person short.
CABELL: Listen to the newscasts...
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It is an orderly process and the forces that are entering are being welcomed by the people.
CABELL: ... and you'll here plenty of officials, reporters, and armchair generals applauding the war effort, its efficiency, its quickness, its relatively few casualties. That's a comforting analysis for most Americans, but not for a woman who yearns for her husband.
POKORNEY: His big arms wrapped around me and just smelling him, just anything. It's the simple things that you're going to miss that are never going to be there again. And I'll always be looking over my shoulder to see if he's there.
CABELL: Fred Pokorney will be buried Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Brian Cabell, CNN, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
CROWLEY: That's it for this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley.
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