Taking A Dramatic Stand On Iraq

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Human shield peace activists arrive at the South Baghdad Power Plant where they say they will remain until the threat of war is averted in Baghdad on Sunday, Feb. 23 2003. Fifteen human shields from different countries reached Baghdad Sunday aboard two red double decker London buses.
AP

It was an unforgettable scene from the first Gulf War: Saddam Hussein greeting a group of foreign captives. The most visible hostage was a 5-year-old British boy named Stuart Lockwood.

They were called the human shields and they were placed at critical Iraqi sites to prevent attacks. An outraged world came to their rescue. Relentless pressure forced the Iraqis to set them free before the 1991 invasion.

But things could be different this time, CBS News Anchor Dan Rather reports. Dozens of westerners arrived in Baghdad this weekend aboard double-decker London buses, a sight cheered by some Iraqis. These people promise to volunteer as human shields, putting their bodies, they claim, between bombs and the Iraqi people.

"I'll be here until the bombs drop," says volunteer Ryan Clancy.

Among the hundred or so who have volunteered, 26-year-old Clancy is among 15 camping out inside a Baghdad power plant. Clancy is a high school English teacher from Wisconsin, and he's left one troubled family behind.

"My mother, her first reaction was, um, 'I'm incredibly proud of you,'" says Clancy. "Her second reaction was concern for my safety."

Things did not go as well with his father.

"My father went the other way: He accused me of siding with the enemy," says Clancy. "He called me a terrorist. That was the last call I made before I left the states."

So now he's in Baghdad with an odd collection of activists young and old - most from Europe, some Asian. They're drinking Pepsi and singing protest songs, holding out a slim hope that their presence can make a difference.

"I'm not sure war is ever justified, and I am sure at any point diplomacy can be used to reach a solution, and I don't think it's too late for that here and now," says Clancy.