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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Moammar Gadhafi Is Killed; Joe Biden Speaks; The Life of Moammar Gadhafi
Aired October 20, 2011 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And I think a lot of questions still remain as to precisely how Gadhafi was killed. Did that NATO air strike do the job, did the rebels finally do the job? Was he captured alive and then killed? Was he captured alive, then die on the way to the hospital?
Lots of questions still to be resolved. We're watching all of the breaking news unfold. It's been a very, very dramatic moment, indeed.
Hala Gorani and Suzanne Malveaux are with us as well -- Hala.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And, Wolf and Suzanne, we heard from that man there in Martyrs Square, renamed "Martyrs Square," telling Dan Rivers the West, you tried hard to get the rubbish -- I think he used the term "rubbish."
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Rubbish.
GORANI: "In the end, it's the Libyans who did it."
So, with Moammar Gadhafi dead, NATO's mission in Libya could be ending soon. The alliance plans a meeting to talk about it.
Retired Army General Mark Kimmitt is with us now from McLean, Virginia. He's also a former assistant U.S. secretary of state.
General Kimmitt, OK. So let's talk about going forward now militarily within Libya. Before we get to that, NATO. What happens now with NATO in terms of its operation in that country?
BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, it would appear that NATO is going to be finishing up the mission, handing over responsibility to the TNC. But it will also be going through a reflection on lessons learned on the last six months of operations. They will probably also offer some help in terms of training and assistance for whatever security forces emerge, but there ought to be some hard looks on the part of NATO, what went right, what went wrong for NATO as an institution and as a military organization.
GORANI: Because, initially, as you know, General Kimmitt, the operation was announced as an operation that would last weeks, not months. It lasted certainly months. So these are questions that are going to have to be asked as well in terms of the strategy, the planning going into it.
So what did go wrong in terms of NATO?
KIMMITT: Well, very little went wrong, but I think most people at NATO will take a hard look at some key questions.
Do we have enough precision weapons in our inventories? Do we have enough participation from all the NATO members, not just the eight that participated? Do we have the right kind of equipment for the 21st century? Do we have enough tankers, do we have enough intelligence and, most importantly, do we have enough human intelligence?
These are the questions that hopefully NATO will be asking itself, because this will not be the last operation that NATO's involved in. And what every military organization wants to do is, sure, be triumphant for one day, but going forward, figure out how not to make those same mistakes and how to get better in the future.
GORANI: Well, there was talk before -- when the operation started that an air campaign alone doesn't usually guarantee success. In this case, the air support by NATO countries who participated in the operation did help the rebel forces in the end make those gains and take those last few strongholds.
So what lessons can be learned from that in particular?
KIMMITT: Well, I think the main lesson there is the ability for NATO, as 20 nations in Europe working with local forces -- in this case, the Libyan rebels -- to have not just an air campaign or not just a ground campaign, but a coordinated campaign that takes advantage of foreign forces on the ground, NATO assets being provided to leverage their capabilities, so that they can accomplish their mission.
MALVEAUX: General Kimmitt, this is Suzanne Malveaux. I just wanted to toss in another question, if I can.
What do you suppose the Libyans really need at this moment? What is the most important asset in light of the fact that you still do have or could have people who have melted into society, who used to wear those uniforms in support of Gadhafi? How do you make sure that those folks, the citizens of Libya, are safe?
KIMMITT: Well, first and foremost, the Transitional National Council has got to reach out and offer some sort of amnesty to those former loyalists to Gadhafi and say, look, it's over, you need to come in, you need to be a part of a new Libya. What we can't see, what we must not see in Libya, is what we saw in Iraq, which is, after the downfall, that an insurgency grows or a terrorist threat grows, or we have other kinds of violence, tribe on tribe, east on west, Islamist versus secular.
So, the quickest way to resolve the situation and increase the stability, get the weapons off the street, get the former trained loyalists in the military back into Libyan society, and then go after some of those other threats such as the shoulder-fired weapons that are unaccounted for, the mines that are unaccounted for. Otherwise, we're going to continue to have a very dangerous situation inside the new Libya, the post-Gadhafi Libya.
GORANI: General Kimmitt, let me ask you to compare Iraq and Libya.
We heard after the fall of Tripoli that there were concerns that there would be sectarian conflict or, in the case of Libya, tribal conflict across the country. Is this something that you see happening in Libya with all these differences that we're seeing emerge, even among the revolutionaries?
KIMMITT: Well, it certainly could, and that must be job one of the Transitional National Council, to make sure that the stability holds. There are rifts within the Libyan society. Many of those rifts were induced by Gadhafi.
He favored some tribes, he punished other tribes. There are differences in culture, there are differences in the view of what the next Libya's going to look like. So the TNC has got to come to some sort of accommodation with the society to ensure that this doesn't look like a post-2003 Iraq.
It's interesting to note that the insurgency really didn't start for about a year after the overtaking of Baghdad. What we can't let happen, what the Libyan society can't let happen is that, after the celebration, after a couple of months of not having a common enemy, they start splitting apart into sectarian divisions, political divisions, geographical divisions, and fall into a civil war.
We can't let that happen. We, as part of the international community, must assist the process to ensure that doesn't happen.
GORANI: All right. Mark Kimmitt, General Mark Kimmitt, retired Army general, thanks very much.
That being said, Suzanne, the big mistakes that have been pointed out after the invasion of Iraq, of essentially firing hundreds of thousands of army soldiers, the police being disbanded, all that are not conditions that exist in Libya today. So the hope, at least, is that if there are divisions, that at least they remain political, that they don't descend into open tribal conflict in Libya.
And Libya is a very different country to Iraq in terms of how big its population is, where it's located, and also how the tribes relate to each other. There isn't that Shiite majority and that Sunni minority.
MALVEAUX: And it's a very wealthy country with the oil and the kinds of relationships they have around the country -- around the world, rather.
I want to bring you up to speed here.
If you are just joining us, this is breaking news. Moammar Gadhafi, the former leader of Libya of 42 years, brutal dictator of that country, now dead, confirmed dead. This happened just hours ago.
There are celebrations on the streets of Sirte. That is his hometown. We have seen live pictures of those celebrations, as people fire gunfire into the air, rename the square Martyrs Square.
We've also seen those very graphic pictures that provided a chaotic cell phone image taken of the man believed to be Moammar Gadhafi after a NATO strike on a convoy. Lots of questions in terms of how that happened, but clearly the outcome is that this brutal dictator is dead.
There are a lot of people who are celebrating, and of course there are big questions in terms of the future of the people in that country, and the Middle East in general, whether or not this will bring about an era of peace, whether or not this is certainly a significant moment forward in the Arab Spring, now turned to fall.
So these are questions that a lot of people are looking at the country, the people in the streets, and, wondering where do they go from here? Can this become a democratic society? Is it going to devolve into some sort of violent civil war, or is this going to be a moment where the region is transformed?
GORANI: Make no mistake about it, in Syria, in Yemen, in Bahrain, in other parts of the Arab world, people are watching their satellite news channels today, and they are seeing the death of a long-time dictator. And some might be thinking the same can happen in my country. So that's going to be interesting also to see, the regional reaction.
Wolf, once again in Washington -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. I think even beyond the region, Hala and Suzanne, I suspect people are watching all over the world, including the relationship, let's say, in a remote, isolated, despotic country like North Korea itself. They might be watching what's happening in the Middle East and North Africa right now, wondering, could this potentially even happen in a country like North Korea?
We'll watch that story as well, especially as U.S. talks with North Korean officials resume in Geneva next week.
Let's go to the Pentagon right now. Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent, is watching what's going on.
What are they saying over there, Barbara, about any U.S. or NATO role that may have played a role this morning in killing Gadhafi?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, we don't have the exact details yet, they haven't been confirmed. A lot of discussion this morning about that NATO air strike against a military convoy moving around the city of Sirte, where Gadhafi was killed. Was he in that convoy? There are conflicting reports about that. But as far as the U.S. and NATO goes right now, you should expect to see developments moving very rapidly.
We are told that NATO now will take up the question of whether and when to cut its military involvement in Libya in the next few days. You should expect to see the NATO supreme commander who is a U.S. Navy admiral, Admiral James Stavridis, make a recommendation to NATO that it can wrap it up in Libya since March and get out of there and end its operations.
He's looking at critical intelligence right now about how strong the loyalist forces may be, and the finding, we are told, is that they are no longer able to mount any significant action. We still will see sporadic firefights, we will see still the rebel forces, the TNC now, the interim government, fighting loyalists in some parts of Libya.
I think nobody believes it's all over, but you should expect to see NATO making a public decision in the next several days that it can end its operations over Libya. And that, of course, means that the U.S. can end its participation in those operations over Libya. President Obama, who, in March, when he announced this, thought it would only last a few weeks, can finally say this part of the operation is over -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Is Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in town today? Do we expect any formal statement from him? What are you hearing over there, Barbara?
STARR: He is. Right now we're told not to expect a formal statement from him.
This is all going to be very heavily coordinated, all indications are, through the White House. It will be very touchy business, because the whole mission -- remember, the whole military operation was not to assassinate Moammar Gadhafi.
Convenient though that may be on this day, to the outcome of all of this, NATO and the U.S. consistently said they were not out to kill Gadhafi, they were not targeting him, but that they were going after the regime and the regime's threatening actions against the people of Libya. So this is a case where they want to make very sure that the U.S. and NATO are not portrayed as being in the assassination business in any way, shape or form like they were with Osama bin Laden in that so-called capture, but really kill mission.
This was about going after the regime. So you'll see a little bit of a delicate diplomatic dance here to make sure that they don't say anything too much about it that could make it sound in the Muslim world like they were going out to assassinate this person -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, as they were not only Bin Laden, but Anwar al-Awlaki, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen. The U.S. killed him as well in that drone air strike.
Barbara, thanks very much.
Hala, don't be surprised -- I wouldn't be surprised if we do hear directly from the president of the United States at some point. I would assume today he'll tell the American people what's on his mind in the aftermath of the death of Moammar Gadhafi.
GORANI: Absolutely, Wolf.
And we'll also hear from our Jill Dougherty after the break, who is traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She's now in Afghanistan.
We interestingly -- we're going to play this after the break -- heard Hillary Clinton's initial reaction to the unconfirmed early reports that Moammar Gadhafi had been at the time captured. We didn't know that he had been killed.
Jill Dougherty is in fact in Pakistan. We're going to go to her after this. Stay with us.
MALVEAUX: So, it's just two days ago that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on the ground in Tripoli to meet with Libya's transitional government face to face. Well, she told reporters then that she had hoped that Gadhafi would soon be killed or captured. That wish now has come true.
We want to go to talk with Jill Dougherty, our foreign affairs correspondent, to talk about what's happening next. She is traveling with the secretary, now in Islamabad, Pakistan.
But Jill, first of all, I want you to tell us -- give us a little bit of background here. We know that you were with the secretary in Afghanistan, in Kabul, earlier today. She has been doing a lot of traveling. And I understand that is when she got the news about the fact that Gadhafi might have been killed.
This was between some TV interviews that had happened. And I want to see if we can actually take a look or even hear what her reaction was when she looked at her BlackBerry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unconfirmed.
CLINTON: Unconfirmed, yes. Unconfirmed.
Unconfirmed reports about Gadhafi being captured. Unconfirmed, yes. We've had too many -- we've had a bunch of those before. We have had him captured a couple of times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Jill, do you think she just had her game face on there? Do you think that she said, "unconfirmed," she was really trying to play it down? But initially, she said, "Wow."
Do you think that she thought this was the real thing?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, we were doing interviews at that moment, and it really was the case that nobody could totally confirm it. And the secretary herself said, there had been reports before. You remember unconfirmed and turning out to be not correct reports for quite a while about Gadhafi is killed, Gadhafi's captured, his sons are killed, his sons are captured. So there were reports all the time.
And she was right, I think, to have some caution. Nobody knew at that point.
But as we sat down and did the interview -- in fact, I talked with her about that. We both agreed that that was a place where there had been these rumors. But then, during the interview, again, not being able to confirm it, she said in an answer to my question, "What would it mean if he really were captured or killed?" And she said, "It would legitimacy and relief," as she put it, for a new government.
And if he were at large and still out there, that he would have continued to present a security problem. And without him, she said -- the secretary said there are still problems, but there's not this organized attempt or, let's say, command and control with his loyalists.
MALVEAUX: So, Jill, what happens next now with U.S. involvement in Libya?
DOUGHERTY: Well, I think it continues pretty much the way it has been, which is encouraging them now to move ahead and form a government, because, you know, there were -- I'll tell you, I was in Libya a few weeks ago, for several weeks, and the mood there was, even if Gadhafi is still out there, he's really kind of past history, he's not really influencing events other than providing a threat, which he certainly was on his people. But what they needed was, once Sirte had fallen, and once he was captured, but especially once Sirte had fallen, then that was a trigger for creating or moving toward creating a new government.
So, as soon as they declare the liberation -- and this is a major step. As soon as they declare the liberation, then they can go forward with a government, then this can go to elections, and things really begin to happen politically. So I would say that the U.S. position is -- continues pretty much what it was, which is encouraging them to create a democracy, transparent democracy, hold elections, and proceed.
MALVEAUX: And Jill, real quick here, the secretary said that she had wished -- she hopes that Gadhafi was either captured or killed. Was there a preference here? Would it have been better for the United States if he was just wounded and he had been taken to the International Criminal Court?
DOUGHERTY: I think that's one of the questions. And we have been in transit, so I am not quite sure of the latest report -- and perhaps you can tell me -- but exactly how he died. Because there is that question, was he captured and then killed? In other words, executed, or was he killed in some type of shootout legitimacy?
Because one thing the National Transitional Council had said -- and the U.S. was urging them very strongly to uphold the rule of law, not to do anything that would be a reprisal to anything like that. And so it will be important, I think, to find out exactly how he died and whether that was, let us say, a legitimate killing in war, or whether it was something else, because that could undercut -- if it were not, it could undercut some of the attempt by the transitional government to say that it's upholding the rule of law.
MALVEAUX: Sure. Jill Dougherty, thank you very much, out of Pakistan.
And Hala, don't you think that's an interesting question, whether or not the Libyan people, would they have been more satisfied if he was hauled before either their justice system or before an international body and brought to justice that way, or if these days -- this moment of celebration really is kind of putting that final point and moving forward for potentially a democratic society?
GORANI: Well, if Libyans are anything like Egyptians, for instance, when you asked them when Hosni Mubarak was detained and now on trial, many of them told me -- they said, Suzanne, look, we want to see him judged. We want to see him on trial. We want him to answer for the crimes that he committed and for all the pain that he forced this country to go through for the last several decades.
So, if they're anything like Egyptians I've spoken to over the last several months, they probably would have preferred a trial. However, it is something that is difficult, it is something that is, in terms of a country like Libya, would be difficult to imagine a justice system that is ready to put together a trial such as that one, Suzanne. So, it is a question going forward, is this a clean slate in one day of killing this brutal dictator, or would it have been better, perhaps even for the unity of the country, to see this man tried?
MALVEAUX: Right. And certainly a lot of people in the international community wanted to see him before the International Criminal Court.
GORANI: That's right.
Well, Dan Rivers is in Tripoli right now.
Dan, tell us exactly where you are and what you're seeing right now. I understand it's about -- almost 7:30 p.m. local time where you are.
RIVERS: You're an hour out. It's 6:30 coming out to local time, and this is the scene here.
We have huge numbers of people, Hala, gathered in what they call now Martyrs Square. And a real sense of celebration and of relief and of reflection, I think, as well, thinking back about the sort of horrors of the Gadhafi regime and what these people have endured for 42 years.
You can see them all waving their flags here. A lot of women and children out here as well.
Again, a lot of younger people here have never known anything other than Colonel Gadhafi for the last 42 years. Let's just have a quick -- what's your reaction here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, our reaction are, we are very free, and I feel that my birthday is today. Really, I feel like I'm 6 hours old. Really. Libya is free without him.
RIVERS: You feel like you've been reborn?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like Libya's been reborn, really. I mean, I can't express my happiness, really.
RIVERS: And is it a disappointment that Colonel Gadhafi will not be put on trial?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we prefer that we have caught him alive. However, he has gone under -- this is maybe better for his supporters so they don't come out again. You know? So, at the end, the devil is gone.
RIVERS: Is there a danger that some of his loyalists will try to fight on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. We try to be optimistic now, really. Everything you can be is optimistic about, but we are optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Libya is free. Gadhafi is a killer, killer of people of Libya all six months ago. Now Libya is free without Gadhafi. Thank God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are asking now, (INAUDIBLE)? Where is Gadhafi now? Why don't you see?
RIVERS: Well, that's a question that Hala was just posing then.
The same in Egypt, you were saying, Hala. They want to see the evidence, though we had some images put out of what purports to be Colonel Gadhafi's body. But it's very much a kind of feeling here, as you said, that people want to see it. Not everyone here has had a chance to see those images and make their own decisions.
GORANI: All right.
Dan Rivers is live in Tripoli with the mood there on the streets of the Libyan capital on this day, the day Moammar Gadhafi has been killed by rebel forces in Sirte, his hometown. Forty-two years of Moammar Gadhafi.
Dan Rivers there was saying that the children and that the young teenage boys that were in the square hadn't known anything else. But Moammar Gadhafi was in power so long, middle-aged adults hadn't known anything else. So this is a very important transition for Libya.
Wolf, as we continue to see this breaking news unfold from that country, what impact will it have outside of the borders of Libya is an important question we're going to answer as well.
BLITZER: Yes. You remember, Hala, and I'm sure all of our viewers remember, when the U.S., back in May, killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, how sensitive U.S. military and political leaders were to not showing pictures of Bin Laden and burying him at sea as quickly as possible, in accordance with Islamic tradition, Islamic religious law.
And I sense we're seeing a little different behavior on the Libyan part right now as far as Gadhafi is concerned. But we'll see how it unfolds over the coming hours. It will be a sensitive issue, no doubt about that, as well.
Much more of the breaking news coverage here on CNN right after this.
BLITZER: We're continuing to watch the breaking news coverage, Moammar Gadhafi dead. We've just received some very graphic, dramatic video. Want to warn our viewers that it is dramatic and it is graphic.
A video coming in to us from Al Arabiya, the Arabic language television station. This is what we believe we're seeing here. A wounded Moammar Gadhafi earlier in the day, earlier this morning in Sirte, his hometown in Libya. It looks like he's still alive in this picture, although badly wounded.
He's being taken away. There he is. I don't know if we want to freeze that shot right in the middle. You can see Gadhafi is still alive in this video that Al Arabiya has made available in Sirte.
We are told that he is dead. So he obviously died afterwards. We don't know the circumstances of this. It is still very, very murky. Hala Gorani, Suzanne Malveaux are watching.
You looked at that video, Hala. You know, it's pretty chilling when you think about it that they got him alive, but he's now dead.
GORANI: Well, the question is how did he die? The question is did he die of the wounds that he sustained in this initial attack or was he executed later?
That's a question that's going to be answered in the coming hours or days. But he is clearly alive here. This appears to be Moammar Gadhafi -- it appears as though he's able to stand on his two feet with some assistance.
He's bloodied so he's definitely injured, but then how did he end up dying is going to be the question we're going to want answered as soon as possible.
MALVEAUX: I think Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent, brought up a very good point, and that is that NATO and the United States have always emphasized that the mission was not to assassinate Gadhafi, but rather take out his regime, take out his forces. And so Barbara made that very clear that that was not part of the -- at least of what they said was a plan and so again that does raise questions in terms of how he ended up dying, whether that was simply from his wounds, whether or not someone decided to finish the job and what kind of reaction, what kind of response would that get from the Libyan people and the international community, quite frankly.
BLITZER: I think what they're going to do, guys, they're going to be looking at this video frame by frame by frame, authorities, people all over the world, and the other video that we got, that cell phone video, of Gadhafi dead.
Because there was some suggestion in the other cell phone video also very graphic, it looked like had he a gunshot wound to his head. I wonder if we're going to see a gunshot wound to his head in this earlier video where he's clearly still alive or somebody later after he was captured alive wounded, decided to kill him with a gunshot wound to the head if in fact there was a gunshot wound to the head.
So we'll look closely at these two sources, these two videos to see what we can find out. Let's bring in the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin who's been watching all of these developments unfold.
When you see what's going on right now, Jaime, it is very, very graphic, but it's very murky, the circumstances surrounding Gadhafi's death and whether the U.S. and NATO were directly involved?
JAMES RUBIN, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, it is very murky. I think we really ought to distinguish between the various cases that you've described, Saddam Hussein on one hand, Bin Laden on the other, and now Gadhafi.
In the case of Saddam Hussein, he was brought to trial in Iraq, but I don't think the trial yielded the result that people wanted where there was the kind of real justice because it ended so badly with this horrific execution of Saddam Hussein.
And so I think when people are looking at Gadhafi now and saying, OK, what would have happened had he been alive? Would it have advanced the cause of justice? Would the Libyan people have preferred to see that?
The Saddam Hussein precedent wasn't very encouraging and it certainly seems from all the news reports that I've seen today and some of the video and some of the discussions that I've had, it seems unlikely that it was the air strikes that led to this outcome.
The account that seems most credible right now is that the Libyan government forces now came across him. There was a firefight and then it appears to me at least that most likely explanation is that he was executed.
And I just -- because of the nature of that army, that it isn't a formal army getting orders in the kind of organized way the west might envision, this would have happened without plans, but somebody in the firefight just did it before anyone could stop them.
So I guess my instinct is there's not going to be a big outcry in Libya and there's not going to be a big outcry around the world because Gadhafi in the end had almost nobody can be described as a supporter or defender.
And frankly, it avoided the battle that might have occurred over where he was going to be tried and whether the trial could have occurred fairly in Libya.
BLITZER: One of the sensitive issues that the Libyan authorities now are going to have to deal with is what to do with the body. Do they bury the body there? It could become a shrine for Gadhafi supporters.
Do they take the body and bury the body at sea? What do they do with that body right now? I assume they're going to want to do it in accordance with Islamic law.
RUBIN: I think that's right. Again, I would here make -- as I made a distinction between Gadhafi and Saddam before on the trial, let's make a distinction here between Gadhafi and Osama Bin Laden with respect to the burial.
I think the decision to bury Osama Bin Laden at sea was the correct one because he is an individual who potentially inspired many, many, many people around the world to commit terrorism and continued to do that up until the time he was killed.
And frankly, his organization continues to do that. I don't think that's the case with Gadhafi. I don't think he has a following of any significance. He had his family perhaps, some tribe members in the area of Sirte who fought for him, maybe some mercenaries who fought for him.
But nothing like the kind of following that Bin Laden had or even probably Saddam Hussein had in the Sunni-Shiite divide that existed in Iraq. So my guess is they may not feel they need to take the steps that were taken for Osama Bin Laden.
Apparently, the body is in a mosque right now. They'll follow Islamic law and somehow I doubt they'll do a burial at sea and I doubt it will become a shrine to that many people.
BLITZER: All right, Jamie, stand by. We're going to continue watching all of this unfold. Suzanne, we're still waiting for official confirmation from the Obama administration.
Many members of Congress have already made it official from their perspective. They've been told that Gadhafi is dead, but we are waiting for an official statement. It may come at some point. I suspect it probably will from the president himself, but we'll watch and wait and see -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Well, Wolf, we're certainly awaiting the White House briefing to see whether or not the president would come forward. We'll wait and see if he decides that that's the proper time to actually make a statement.
We are also going to be hearing from our Jonathan Mann. He traveled twice to Libya in interviewing Gadhafi and he learned a lot about kind of the strange characteristics of this dictator. He really was -- I've just been told the president is going to be making a statement in the Rose Garden at 2:00.
It is less than -- about 90 minutes away. The president of the United States, Barack Obama, will be making that statement and that will -- he will address the killing of Moammar Gadhafi.
So that's just coming in right now, that the president is going to be making a statement in the Rose Garden before the cameras and before reporters in less than two hours. We'll go to a quick break.
MALVEAUX: So just getting word in now, President Obama's going to be speaking in the Rose Garden at 2:00 this afternoon. That is less than 90 minutes away. He'll be making a statement. We can safely assume that he'll be addressing the breaking news of the day.
Moammar Gadhafi being killed and what will come next when it comes to the U.S. and NATO mission there in Libya. Again, stay tuned for the president's address to the nation, a statement out of the Rose Garden at 2:00 this afternoon.
Want to go to our Jonathan Mann. He's traveled to Libya twice and he has interviewed Moammar Gadhafi, the last meeting back in 2006. Jonathan, you described this kind of as a strange interview. Can you tell us why?
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Make no mistake about it, Moammar Gadhafi was a dictator. He was a sponsor of global terrorism. He has the blood of a lot of innocent people on his hand. But at the same time, there was no getting around it -- he was just plain bizarre.
MANN (voice-over): He was the strangest head of state I've ever met. Moammar Gadhafi received me several years ago for an interview in a large tent in Tripoli, a then-quiet port city where just about every billboard and sign was painted with his picture.
Ronald Reagan once called him a mad dog and Gadhafi's behavior was indeed particular. He was famous for his flamboyant dress, his legion of female body guards, and his bizarre fixations, such as a plan to abolish Switzerland.
In person he seemed lethargic. His eyes even behind sunglasses seemed unfocused. His answers through a translator seemed rambling. We never saw the female body guards and his clothing was relatively low- key.
A camouflage shirt festooned with maps of Africa. But that fly whisk never stopped flying. Libya today is in transition. Its revolution has triumphed and its people are demanding democracy. But when I brought up democracy, he threatened to sue me for slander.
If you or somebody else says Libya is not a democracy, he told us, then it would be considered an insult and maybe we could go to court to redeem honor from that insult.
Back then, Libya was a rogue state trying to redeem itself. It had surrendered its most dangerous weapons to the west. It was trying to open its economy to the world. Its leader was the wild card, the unpredictable element. Now he's gone and Libya's future is the big unknown.
MANN: You know, Suzanne, he was in power for 47 years. I mean, it is astonishing that he was able to hold on so long. He could barely seem to hold a thought. He could barely seem to fix his eyes on any object in particular.
So visiting him in that strange tent on a dirty stretch of patchy grass, it was just hard to figure -- hard to know how a man like that could take and hold a country that should have been rich, should have been free and now may finally have its chance.
MALVEAUX: Yes, he was just 27 years old when he first took power. It's just really kind of a fascinating, bizarre life that he led, and clearly though towards the end and throughout a reign of terror in Libya.
But very colorful person as well and you may recall. I mean, when he was here for the U.N., he was always looking for a place to pitch his tent and caused a lot of controversy.
GORANI: A man of many eccentricities. Of course, it is difficult not to chuckle him when you see him with the fly swatter and the tent and sort of colorful shirt.
But then you also have to put that within the context of this brutal regime, how brutally dissent was squashed in Libya. and there are still, Suzanne, questions about how exactly Moammar Gadhafi died.
We saw a video of him still alive in rebel hands apparently bloodied, but still alive. Then we saw that video of him apparently dead. One thing is certain though -- the face of the Arab world has changed once again.
A Middle East expert joins me now to talk about it. Fouod Ajami is a professor of Middle East Studies. Are you still with Johns Hopkins University or Stanford? I can see --
FOUAD AJAMI, SR. FELLOW, THE HOOVER INSTITUTION: No, I am -- I am -- behind me -- behind me is Stanford and The Hoover Institution.
GORANI: It's Stanford. OK. That's what I thought.
AJAMI: That's -- yes. Yes.
GORANI: So with Stanford University.
So, how does this symbolic -- the symbolic death or killing, I should say, of Moammar Gadhafi change things in the Arab world?
AJAMI: Well, Hala, I should actually be doing -- I should be interviewing you. You've covered that world. You know that world so well.
I was listening to what you said. You're absolutely right. There's a question, would the Libyan people have preferred this man shot dead as we apparently think he was or would they have wanted to hear him? And sometimes, in a way, these death spots, whether it's Mussolini, whether it's Saddam Hussein, it's too bad they only die once. I mean this would be the sentiment of many, many Libyan peoples. For 42 years of tyranny, for 42 years of violence, he only dies once. It's, in a way, it's almost people feel swindled.
GORANI: Right. Well, what difference would it make if it turns out he was executed after capture, if any?
AJAMI: To be honest with you, maybe because I'm a child of Beirut -- none. It doesn't matter to the world. When you consider this man -- and I think Americans -- the American viewers we have should consider this. He is owed justice from this country. He killed about 170 people aboard the Pan Am 103 flight in 1988. So no tears need be shed for this man.
And I don't really spend that much time worried whether he was executed or whether he died in a firefight. We do know that the earlier reports said he came out saying (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), "don't shoot, don't shoot." It's amazing how these killers don't want to be killed.
GORANI: Well, I mean I suppose some would say it makes a difference because these revolutions are fought for another kind of Middle East, another kind of Arab country, where there are trials and where there is, as brutal as the person might be, fair treatment -- legal fair treatment of a suspect. So you're saying, in this particular case, no.
AJAMI: Well, look, I mean did the Italian people worry about that -- in the way Mussolini was caught with his mistress and they were both hung by the ankle upside down? It really doesn't matter. I mean it doesn't matter in the end of things when you consider the record of these people.
I suspect -- I suspect he died in this fight. I suspect this is what happened. I think people would not want to execute him because they want to hear from him. They want to hear about them. They want to hear what he did to them.
GORANI: Let me ask you about other countries then. I mean there's Arab satellite channels in the last decade or so. A little more than a decade. The Arab world, as you know, has changed. Because it's not just governments in control of the message. Now it's Arab satellite channels who show these live images of people celebrating in Martyrs Square. They show the cell phone videos of the dead dictator. What's going through the minds of the other dictators right now?
AJAMI: Well, you know, Hala, there's a country you covered and a country we both know, and feel for, and that's Syria. There was a message that was posted on al Jazeera blog and it was from a man named Ahmed (ph) from Alepo (ph). And Ahmed from Alepo says, congratulations to the Libyan people. May the same thing happen here in Syria. So other people will be with -- will be with -- thinking about their own tyrant. The enemies would want the same fate for Ali Abdel Asala (ph). And, obviously, the Syrians want the same fate for Bashar al Assad. And obviously people are thinking of Saddam Hussein coming out of this fighter hole and basically, amazingly enough saying, I'm Saddam Hussein. I'm the president of Iraq and I want to negotiate.
GORANI: Well, let me ask you one last question. And perhaps especially for the American viewers as well as we're broadcasting around the world right now. And that is the risks going forward. These aren't countries that have a tradition of democracy. And these are countries that have a tradition also of factional, of tribal, of sectarian divisions.
So, going forward, how hard is it going to be -- especially when you look at Egypt right now and the transitional army leadership over there, breaking promises and disappointing revolutionaries. Are we looking at years of struggle?
AJAMI: Well, we might be looking at years of struggle, but we also witnessed decades and decades of tyranny and authoritarianism. This is, Hala, the Arab's 1989. This year is to the Arabs what 1989 was to the communist world. And as we looked at the communist world, post- communism was never easy but was good and people witnessed liberty.
I don't want to sit in judgment of this Arab awakening, this Arab spring, in the very same year, in the first year of its eruption. People make mistakes, but the Arabs are now coming into ownership of their own history and we have to celebrate this and remember what this is all about.
GORANI: All right, Fouad Ajami, Middle East expert, always -- and at Stanford University right now, always a pleasure talking to you. Thanks so much.
AJAMI: Thank you, Hala.
GORANI: Wolf, back to you in D.C.
BLITZER: He did spend 30 excellent years teaching at my alma matter, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies but now he's a West Coast kind of guy. Fouad Ajami, thanks very much for that.
All right, let's take a quick break. When we come back, we'll go to the United Nations and see what the world is saying about what's going on. Gadhafi is dead. Our own correspondent, Richard Roth, is standing by to join us. Don't forget also we'll be hearing from the president of the United States. The president will be speaking at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.
But right now in Plymouth, New Hampshire, the vice president, Joe Biden, is speaking. Let's listen.
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JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But look how that all came about. For years and years we've been talking about burden sharing in NATO. Everybody carrying their fair share. Not the United States carrying the load and spending all the money for the whole world. So you remember when the president and I came along and said, look, we will support NATO, we'll support NATO, but NATO has to take the lead. That's what it was designed to do. It wasn't supposed to be the U.S. runs NATO. It was supposed to be NATO, which we are a part of, the most important part of, is able to act.
So in this changed world, because of all the different wars and because -- as the two blocks have broken down and there's no -- there's only one super power left and it's no longer this, you know, the way it was when the Soviet Union exists, we have a whole new set of problems. We don't have 18,000 ICBMS aimed at the United States, which is a wonderful thing, but we also have emerging nations in chaos and new movements and the rest.
So in this terrible beauty, this changed -- all changed world. What happened? NATO got it right. NATO got it right. And guess what? Libya, Gadhafi, one way or another, is gone. Whether he's alive or dead, he's gone. The people of Libya have gotten rid of a dictator of 40 years, who I personally knew. This is one tough not-so-nice guy.
And guess what? They got a chance now. But what happened? In this case, America spent $2 billion total and didn't lose a single life. This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has been in the past. So that's an example of how the world's beginning to work together a little bit better. Lot of problems out there.
But this is what's going on. And my father and grandfather -- my father's generation went through this after World War II. Well, we're in the midst of going through it now. That's the long answer to your profound question.
No, but I think it's important, by the way. I could give you a, you know, a glib answer and -- but you deserve more. You're entitled to it. Folks, that's why I'm optimistic that, because the same thing at its core, it seems to me, is motivating both these groups that are capturing the public's attention and the public, that there is a kernel in there around which we can organize and begin again to get a national consensus. Because, folks, for 50 years we had a national consensus between Democrats and Republicans on reasonable regulation of Wall Street. We had national consensus on education in America. We had a national consensus on -- and we can name 10 -- we had differences on the margins. There was no difference in the last 50 years with Republicans on Medicare than Democrats. Some, but the major parties, there's no fundamental difference about Social Security, which there was when it came about. There was no fundamental difference about -
BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue to monitor what the vice president is saying in Plymouth, New Hampshire. He's there at a town hall meeting. The vice president saying he's not ready to officially confirm that Gadhafi in Libya is dead. I think he's waiting, as all of us are, for 2:00 p.m. Eastern, a little bit more than one hour from now, when the president of the United States is scheduled to go into the Rose Garden at the White House and speak on Gadhafi's death.
But you did hear the vice president make some important points about what's going on in Libya. First of all he says, it's cost U.S. taxpayers so far $2 billion, but he says that's a lot better than what the previous administration spent to liberate Iraq, close to -- that was hundreds of billions of dollars, if not more than $1 trillion. So some implied criticism of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq as opposed to the Obama administration's handling of the situation in Libya, right there praising NATO and its mission over these past several months.
All right, we'll take a quick break. We're getting ready in an hour or so to hear from the president of the United States. Much more of the breaking news coverage on the death of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya today when we come back.