FTN – 4/6/03

After 18 days since the war started, thousands of U.S.-led coalition troops are spread throughout Iraq, in small patrols and checkpoints. Here is a third photo of U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, during combat with Iraqi gunmen Sunday, April 6, 2003. AP

CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face The Nation, how far along is the battle for Baghdad? U.S. troops have the Baghdad Airport now under control. But what comes next?

We'll ask Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Then we'll talk about urban warfare with Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down." Dana Priest of "The Washington Post" will join us, and I'll have a final thought on the dangers of covering this war and the deaths of two correspondents, Michael Kelly and David Bloom.

But, first, the battle for Baghdad on Face The Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face The Nation with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.

And now from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: Good morning, again. We want to start with the situation in Baghdad. Just a few minutes ago, I talked with our CBS News Correspondent Lara Logan. She was in Baghdad before the war, left, and has now made her way back there. We asked her this morning to just describe the situation.

LARA LOGAN, CBS News Correspondent: There's been an artillery battle raging on the western outskirts of the city. Today we've heard mortar, tank and artillery fire, as well as heavy machine guns and multiple rocket launchers. This battle also continued through the night, and there were air strikes, and one bomb landed just a short distance from our position in the center of Baghdad in the early hours of this morning. But throughout the night and throughout the day, fighting has continued.

Iraq's information minister today held a press conference just a short time ago in which he talked about American tactics. He said what the Iraqis have observed is that the Americans, when they're pounded by Iraqi forces, are retreating, and as soon as the Iraqis stop, they're sending small teams forward to areas like the airport where they're allowing themselves to be filmed for propaganda purposes only. He said Mohamed Said Al-Sahaf dismissed this as being meaningless military tactics, and he said they were leaving the roads open for the Americans to do this, so they could hit their forces when they did.

SCHIEFFER: Have you had any sign of Saddam Hussein himself today?

LOGAN: Not today but Iraqi television showed pictures of the president on television last night meeting with his two sons and other military commanders. There were also two statements read out on the Iraqi television and radio from Saddam Hussein. One of them was a message to the Kurdish people in the north not to support the coalition and to stay with the Iraqi people. The other was a message to the Iraqi people themselves, warning them not to talk about things that they were unsure of, because the statement said that it may appear they were spreading propaganda so they should be sure of things before they talk about them.

The Iraqi government took journalists today to the southern outskirts of the city an area there where they had destroyed one U.S. tank that we were able to see. They claimed to have destroyed five others, as well, but they have been taken away so they could be used by Iraqi forces.

SCHIEFFER: And there you have Lara Logan just a few minutes ago, Mr. Secretary.

And joining us is Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz from the Pentagon. Dana Priest of "The Washington Post" is with us again this morning.

I would start out by saying having reporters on the ground able to transmit pictures back to us sort of puts the lie to what we hear from the spokesman for the Iraqi government, does it not? I mean, it's almost laughable to see him make these statements and then see what we're seeing on television.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, Deputy Secretary of Defense: I know. If it weren't a war and all the tragedy of the war, you'd almost think this is a "Saturday Night Live" skit. He's really the minister of propaganda. And if he believes half of what he's saying, then he's really out of touch with reality.

SCHIEFFER: How, Mr. Secretary, would you sum up the situation in Baghdad now? Are we in control? Who appears to be running the Iraqi side now?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, if I could for a minute just to put a little perspective on this.

SCHIEFFER: Sure.

WOLFOWITZ: I think Americans have started to think of war as short events. The last Gulf War was only six weeks. The Afghanistan war was only nine weeks. The war in Kosovo was only 11 weeks.

That's not historical experience. But we're only in the third week of this war. There's been a lot of progress made. We have troops on the outskirts of Baghdad. We've now twice conducted armed reconnaissance inside the city. One tank in fact did break down and we had to destroy it.

But we are establishing control over a large part of the country. But this is a serious, dangerous business and some of the greatest dangers are still possibly ahead of us, particularly the danger of use of chemical or biological weapons.

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think -- are we in control of -- most of the capital now? Are we in control of the airport?

WOLFOWITZ: Oh, no. But we are in control of the airport. Contrary to the minister of propaganda, we're not surrounded at the airport. We control the airport. It's a very important strategic position.

SCHIEFFER: Do you have an idea, at this point, who's running the Iraqi side of things?

WOLFOWITZ: There's uncertainty about that. There are arguments back and forth about this latest tape as to whether it's the real thing. It's unusual, I must say, for Saddam Hussein to expose himself to his people that way. What does seem -- at best we can observe, and you can only make guesses here -- there doesn't seem to be any very effective functioning of strategy.

Iraqi forces are moved in ways that make them targets for the coalition. They're not well coordinated in their moves. And, frankly, what is really tragic, is this horrible regime is sending young Iraqis out to die for no reason whatsoever.

SCHIEFFER: Dana.

DANA PRIEST, "The Washington Post": Do you expect to set up an interim government in the places in the south that you've already, or are going to soon, have under your total control?

WOLFOWITZ: Again, if I could say, I mean, there's a lot of discussion about this. I think it helps to have some context. There are two things we're trying to balance here.

One is, from day one, we want to make sure that people have food and water and medicine and the electricity functions. We've started some very significant steps in that direction in the areas in the south that we've got control of now. And that's got to be a coalition responsibility, at least initially.

But our goal is eventually to transfer everything to a government that represents Iraqi people. And we have discussed with our coalition partners and with elements of the Iraqi opposition the idea of an interim authority that would be the bridge from this coalition administration to an eventual Iraqi government. Those discussions are ongoing.

The point at which we can establish an interim authority, I think, is going to depend on when there is a feeling, particularly among Iraqis, that those people that are still not yet free to speak up and express themselves, though more and more of them...

SCHIEFFER: Well...

WOLFOWITZ: ...can join the ones who have been able to for many years now.

SCHIEFFER: Obviously there are discussions going on even within the administration about this, and certainly in other countries, about perhaps we should move as quickly as we can to internationalize this situation, to bring the UN in and operate under their umbrella.

Is that a good idea? Or how do you think it ought to be organized?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, I think the right goal is to move as quickly as we can, not faster than we can but as quickly as we can, to a government that is, if I could paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, of the Iraqis, by the Iraqis, for the Iraqis, not to make them a colonial administration or a UN administration or run in any way by foreigners. But it's going to be a partnership of the coalition countries.

The UN has an important role to play in that, not only the UN functional agencies, I think, but also the UN as a mechanism for mobilizing international support. And I think there's going to be a lot of international support for the effort of the Iraqi people to rebuild their country and to build a free country.

SCHIEFFER: What should be France and Germany's part in all of this?

WOLFOWITZ: I think, like everyone else, they should see that there's an opportunity here to help one of the most talented peoples in the Arab world to demonstrate to the whole world that Arabs are capable of establishing free and democratic government. And I think we all have a stake in the success of that.

SCHIEFFER: And we'll welcome their help and we'll invite them to come in?

WOLFOWITZ: Yes, and I think, more importantly, the Iraqi people need their help.

PRIEST: Can you conceive of a UN-run interim government like we have in Kosovo and we've had in other places, or do you think the U.S. needs to remain in charge until you can pass it to Iraqis?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, Kosovo is a strange example because we're not quite sure how to treat Kosovo. But it's not a model we want to follow of a sort of permanent international administration.

I think there's some relevant experience here. I don't want to overstate it, but in 1991 after the Gulf War, a month after the Gulf War, we went in with a coalition force that was U.S., British, French, quite a few other European countries, cleared the Iraqi army out of the northern third of the country and left six months later and left it in the hands of the northern Iraqis, who have done a reasonably creditable job of managing their own affairs.

The country as a whole is bigger and more complicated. It will undoubtedly take longer. But that should be the goal, is to enable these people who, as I said, are talented, they're educated. It's a real country. It's not Kosovo, which has never been a country. It's not Bosnia, which was sort of patched together. And it's in everyone's interest, particularly that of the Iraqi people, to be standing on their own feet as soon as possible.

PRIEST: So you imagine the U.S. will stay in charge until you can pass it to an interim Iraqi government, is that correct?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, there are two kinds of 'in charge,' I think.

One kind of in charge is, you know, waters and sewers and food and medicine. And we want to make sure those things are delivered to the Iraqi people effectively, and we'd like it as quickly as possible to be done by Iraqis. But we want to make sure it's done, and we'll do it until we're sure that they can do it.

But the other part of in charge is determining the constitution of Iraq and how elections should be held and who the leaders should be. And we're not in charge of that. No foreigners can be in charge of that. That has got to be a process that involves Iraqis. And we've had millions of Iraqis who have been free in the north, some four million who've been free in exile, but there are some 20 million Iraqis who still live under the boot of this regime, and until they're free to express themselves, we know who represents the Iraqi people.

SCHIEFFER: As you know, there's some criticism that perhaps we have sort of picked out some Iraqis to run this government and that we intend to sort of install them there. Will that have any credibility with the rest of the Arab world or with the Iraqis themselves, and if, in fact, is that the policy of the United States?

WOLFOWITZ: Absolutely not. I mean, you can't talk about democracy and then turn around and say, 'We're going to pick the leaders of this democratic country.' We have been in touch with many, many different leaders of the Iraqi opposition. There's some very courageous people who've been fighting for the freedom of Iraq in northern Iraq and living abroad. And we're finding more and more people in the southern parts of Iraq who were leaders in the fight against Saddam over the years. It's got to be for the Iraqi people to pick their leaders, and our goal is to try to create the conditions, particularly the security conditions, where they can do that freely.

PRIEST: But you're putting yourself in the position right now to choose an interim government. So who are you choosing for that interim government? It may be upon you in a couple of weeks if not sooner.

WOLFOWITZ: Well, we're not choosing. And it's an important difference between interim authority, which is a transitional arrangement and even interim government, even if you put the word interim on it.

We had a somewhat parallel situation in Afghanistan. I don't want to say similar because Afghanistan is such a different country. But once Afghanistan was liberated, it was possible to hear from a wide range of Afghans and eventually, in their own more traditional way with this loya jurga process expressed consensus on, I think, a way forward.

I think we're already starting to see some of that same process. As a matter of fact, we saw some of that process even before this war began in a way in which opposition elements began to organize.

But it's more than just the opposition that we've known before. It's also people that we're just getting to know now. The senior religious leaders in the Shia holy city of Najaf have just gone back and have started issuing what they call fatwas but these are fatwas saying oppose Saddam and support the coalition. Those people are clearly going to have a voice in the future.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you something, because this is a question that I'm getting. Is our purpose here to disarm Saddam Hussein, to find these weapons of mass destruction and then consider this a unique and grave danger that has been posed to this country and that we are there to remove that danger or is this step one in a wider war, what some people are calling World War IV where we would confront the rest of the Arab world.

Well, what is our purpose here?

WOLFOWITZ: I think the president's been clear from September 12th basically of 2001, since the horror of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon, that we've got to confront terrorism in a way that we never thought about it before and particularly this danger of the connection between terrorist networks and states that support terrorism and have weapons of mass destruction. And it's a new problem.

It's got to be approached strategically, but I don't think it can be approached on a purely military basis.

There's a lot that's unique about Iraq, including the unique circumstance of 12 years of defiance of the terms and conditions of the cease-fire that was supposed to have ended the first Gulf War. So we need a way forward, but it's also important, I think, to say that we would not be at war in Iraq if we didn't think there was a danger to the United States. But now that we are at war in Iraq, our goal needs to be more than just dismantling those weapons of mass destruction.

I think if the Iraqi people can succeed in creating a government that represents them, that demonstrates this possibility of freedom and democracy in the Arab world. I think it's going to be an inspiration for other countries in a way that's very positive, not necessarily military at all.

The power of the idea, we've seen it in East Asia. The power of democracy in Japan has spread across Asia and places that had no use for the Japanese.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I hope you're right. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us. We'll be back with more in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL)

SCHIEFFER: And joining us now from Wilmington, Delaware, Mark Bowden. He is the author of "Black Hawk Down."

Mr. Bowden, thank you for join us this morning. And as you well know, apparently Saddam Hussein's people have told his people to read your book, to get an assessment of how the United States would react. Why do you think he did that?

MARK BOWDEN, Author, "Black Hawk Down": Well, I think that the common misperception of what happened in Somalia, Bob, is that the United States military was defeated or basically gave up when the Somali people were able to kill a few American soldiers. Of course, as I hope my book and the movie based on my book made clear, that's not true.

In the larger political sense, the United States gave up on Somalia after a few American soldiers were killed, but I think that was a different time. It was a different mission. And certainly since September 11th, this country has not lacked for political will to go to war. In fact, this administration, if anything, you know, errors in the opposite direction.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you have studied Saddam Hussein for a long time. Do you think he understands the war he's involved in now?

BOWDEN: I don't. You know, I think that all evidence that I've seen so far from this war is that the Iraqis are just making a woeful fight of it. I mean, it's necessary, I think, for us to give them as much credit as we can to try and imagine, you know, what the most intelligent use of their resources and personnel would be, but there's very little evidence that I can see that these resources and personnel are being used with any clear sense of direction or skill.

PRIEST: Mark, Dr. Wolfowitz suggested that the war's not going to be over anytime soon. They're in Baghdad now. People draw comparisons to potential other Mogadishus. Do you see them doing anything now over Baghdad? Do you think are lessons they've taken from Mogadishu in the way they're flying helicopters and other things?

BOWDEN: Oh, I'm sure that they have learned a lot from Mogadishu. In fact, you know, one of the big problems in Mogadishu is that the task force ranger that was sent there was not given really adequate air support. They didn't have the full arsenal of the United States military behind them. They also had a, you know, relatively small number of people because it was a fairly limited mission.

In this case, obviously, you're dealing with the full might of the United States military and every weapon and capability in the arsenal.

SCHIEFFER: They're using a lot of Special Forces apparently. Talk to us about that and what that means.

BOWDEN: Well, what that means is that all the while we've been watching the war unfold on television and reading about it in the newspapers, that that's all been kind of the surface conflict.

There's been another war going on that we only catch glimpses of from time to time. For instance, when the American POW, Jessica Lynch, was rescued. Since, actually before the launching of this invasion, American special operations forces have been conducting missions all over the country, including in downtown Baghdad. These are small groups of men who usually are inserted by helicopter. They go in at night. They have very specific missions to accomplish, and they don't announce whether they've been successful or not. Ultimately, you know, their successes just unfold with the rest of the war.

PRIEST: You've spent a lot of time with troops, and a lot of people are suggesting that troops are going to -- Army and Marines will be the nation-builders of the future in Iraq. How do you think they are at accomplishing that sort of non-combat mission?

BOWDEN: I think that it's going to take more than the military to accomplish that mission. The kinds of things that the military will do extremely well, it seems to me, are supplying food, keeping water, keeping electricity supplied, making sure that the basics -- infrastructure of the city are up and running, and people are being fed and getting health care. And in terms of, you know, reaching the kind of political decisions that need to be made and setting up the structures for a more permanent and stable government there, I think that that will fall to -- I would hope -- the hands of Iraqi intellectuals themselves.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think it's possible that Saddam could escape or that perhaps he may not be in the country right now?

BOWDEN: I think it's unlikely that he's not in the country. You know? And I think it's also unlikely that he could escape at this point, although it's certainly possible. Baghdad is a city of--what? -- 4.5 million people. It's virtually impossible to shut a city like that down completely. But you have to remember that the fact that we haven't seen Saddam other than in these videotapes that get released is also an indication that I think he's hiding from his own people. He's hiding from his own inner circle, which is something he's always done.

One of the biggest fears that he has is being assassinated by somebody in his own military structure. And right now, of course, he's very vulnerable to that kind of threat. And so I think that may be one of the reasons why he hasn't surfaced anymore.

SCHIEFFER: Why do you think we haven't found any chemical weapons yet?

BOWDEN: Well, it may be that they're not there, although I strongly doubt that. The most logical conclusion, I think, is that they're hidden. They may not be discovered until they're pointed out to us by captured Iraqi leaders or soldiers. And it may well be that they've got them in Baghdad and, you know, we can only hope that we're not going to face the onslaught of some sort of chemical or biological attack.

SCHIEFFER: OK, Mark, thanks a lot. Great to have you.

BOWDEN: You're welcome. Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back with a final word in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, the technology is so good, the pictures are so clear, that it is sometimes difficult to separate the war from the other programs on television.

We take the technology for granted, and that makes it easy to forget just how dangerous war is, that this is not a movie where the soldiers get up for a retake after being shot. And it is just as easy to forget the risks that people take to get those pictures from the battlefield to our living rooms.

And then we're brought back to reality. Soldiers die, and so do the reporters telling their stories.

Last week, we learned of the death of Michael Kelly, "The Washington Post" columnist who died when his vehicle overturned in a canal. He leaves a wife and two sons.

Today we learned of the death of NBC News correspondent David Bloom, a gentle man and as brave a reporter as I ever knew, who died from a blood clot in the lungs after pushing himself to the limit, and passed it, as he traveled with American troops as they made their way to Baghdad. He leaves a wife and three daughters.

I knew both of them, and it was not the glamour of the job that drew them to the battlefield, but a passion to be where the story was, which is what reporters are supposed to do. Because they and the rest of the reporters covering the war have been there, the rest of us are getting a new appreciation of the job the American military has been doing, and because of those reporters the propaganda from Saddam Hussein's people is put to the la --put to the lie daily.

But let these reporters' deaths remind us that this is not a television show, an option for those who don't like basketball. This is a war.

People die, and the loss and human suffering is borne most of all by the families of both those who fight the wars and the reporters who tell their stories.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face The Nation.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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