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U.S. Reveals New Tactic In Identifying Saddam

Aired July 31, 2003 - 19:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: First, we have information on a new tactic the U.S. is using to try to help troops identify Saddam Hussein. Harris Whitbeck joins us now from Tikrit with the details.
Harris, I understand you've seen the retouched pictures of Saddam Hussein that the U.S. military is distributing to troops on the ground, in Iraq, to depict what he might look like after weeks on the run. Tell us about what you've seen?

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct, Anderson. I saw the pictures on a computer inside one of the tactical control facilities here where the 4th I.D., one of the units of the 4th I.D., is stationed in Tikrit. Five photographs which show Saddam Hussein in basically different stages.

One of them shows him with very, very white hair, snowy white hair a big bushy mustache. The other one shows him with slightly grayer hair and also with a big mustache. The third one shows him wearing a traditional Arab head dress, known as a Cafia (ph) which is basically a long white piece of cloth that has a black ring on top of him. And two last photographs show him wearing beards, one of them is a little bushier than the others. In both of those photographs he does look a little bit like Uday his son -- one of his sons killed during that attack in Mosul a few days ago.

Again, those photographs are being distributed to troops who might have a chance of coming in contact with him or who are involved in all these raids and searches going on in the Tikrit area. No word yet on whether those photographs will be made public, but we do know that they are being distributed to all troops on the ground -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Now Harris, we also learned that U.S. forces are now paying locals in cash to actually compensate them for damages occurred in raids and for casualties inflicted. Is this part of a bigger strategy?

WHITBECK: Well, they had been planning on doing that all along. In fact, after the raid up in Mosul that ended the lives of Saddam Hussein's two elder sons, within hours after the situation there had been stabilized, there were teams from military civil affairs who were assessing the damage done to the neighboring houses and we were able to see how within hours after the civil affairs people had been there, there were teams coming in putting in new glass in some of the houses that had suffered damages and such and so on.

U.S. military is, of course, very interested in winning over the hearts and minds of the civilian population, and is doing everything it can to do so, especially when the actions that they take on the military front might affect the livelihoods or the houses of many of the people in these areas. So yes, they are doing that. That is a very important part of the strategy here.

COOPER: All right, winning hearts and minds, not an easy thing. Harris Whitbeck, thanks very much.

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