MARGARET WARNER: For more on today's events and their significance, we're joined by Walter Pincus, who covers intelligence and national security for the Washington Post; Judith Yaphe, a retired Mideast analyst at the CIA, now a research fellow at the National Defense University in Washington; and Eric Davis, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University, who's written extensively on Iraq. Welcome to you all.
Walter Pincus, beginning with you, what makes U.S. officials so sure that both these sons were killed today?
WALTER PINCUS: Well, they've taken a number of Iraqi detainees that were arrested in the area and people who knew Uday and Qusay and showed them the bodies. And they identified them.
MARGARET WARNER: Did they also use DNA evidence or anything else?
WALTER PINCUS: It's too early to have gotten a result back from DNA, but I'm sure they're going to do that also. Uday had been wounded years ago and had the results of those wounds were fairly apparent. So it probably was easier to identify him and be certain.
MARGARET WARNER: What more can you tell us about the intelligence that led to this raid? You heard General Sanchez talk about a walk-in tip that came in last night.
WALTER PINCUS: There was a walk-in that-- also there had been information, rumors and information the intelligence people had that they may have been in that area. And then once they had the walk-in they checked it out, I'm told by the intelligence people with other people that they had contact with.
So they were fairly certain, but they kept referring to them as high-value targets because they had the bad experiences back in March and April of speaking too quickly about who was where.
MARGARET WARNER: What else can you tell us about who the other two bodies were?
WALTER PINCUS: Well, I'm told, although it's not certain, that one may have been the teen-aged son of Qusay, and the other may have been the bodyguard or really the kind of helper to Uday who most of the time has to travel in a wheelchair and be helped. He has trouble walking.
MARGARET WARNER: And whose house was this where they were?
WALTER PINCUS: Well, the latest information was that it's a distant relative. It may have been a cousin or second cousin but there's some relationship.
MARGARET WARNER: And were U.S. officials surprised-- I know you said there had been reports, but that Qusay and Uday would be in Mosul, this northern Iraqi city which is not certainly considered part of the Sunni triangle, the stronghold of Baath Party resistance.
WALTER PINCUS: I think they feel that Saddam Hussein himself and his two sons are smart enough to move around, what's interesting to me and it hasn't been explained yet is that apparently were only four or five people in the building. Normally you'd think they'd be traveling with a retinue to get protection, but they may have been traveling in very small groups.
MARGARET WARNER: Professor Davis, turning to you, how big a deal is this in terms of the likely impact it's going to have in Iraq?
ERIC DAVIS: Well, I think this is a very positive development, but I think we have to think of it in the short term and the long term. In the short term, I think this will deliver a serious blow to the efforts that obviously Saddam and his sons have probably put in place in the contingency of being overthrown, of putting monies aside and also setting up safe houses because I think that they've been financing not only Baathist loyalists but also, remember that when the Iraqi army was disbanded many of these officers and soldiers no longer have an income.
We've had reports of members of the Iraqi army being offered monies to attack and kill American troops. So I think if one envisions this as the head being cut off the body, so to speak, this is really a severe blow to that continued type of activity. However, of course, the fact that Uday and Qusay are dead and that maybe even Saddam might be captured soon doesn't make any easier the long-term process of reconstruction.
MARGARET WARNER: Judith Yaphe, your thoughts on the likely impact this is going to have in Iraq.
JUDITH YAPHE: Well, if you want a long or short term view I don't think it will end the attacks against us totally. I think there are Iraqis who are acting on their own who have no place in society, nothing to lose and are very disgruntled. I think we'll see a number of those attacks continue but we may see the scale drop. The second thing-- and I think this is the longer term-- is that it might encourage Iraqis to see that, well, the sons are gone, Saddam will be gone, it is safe to come out. I think we underestimate the hold, the imagination, the popular imagination that Saddam and his sons had; with this gone that could improve our position.
MARGARET WARNER: Tell us a little more about Qusay and Uday, I know their names are pronounced different ways depending on where you are. How essential were they to the structure that Saddam Hussein had built?
JUDITH YAPHE: The older son Uday probably did more damage than he was contributor to the structure. Not just because he was incapacitated. He was in a wheelchair. But he was the outrageous, knew no bounds, no controls, did what he wanted, killed at will and enjoyed it and was incredibly greedy. So he had really benefited from war, from the rape of Kuwait, from sanctions.
On the other hand, Qusay, the second son, was very much more like Saddam and was following a career path very much like his father's, coming up within the Baath Party's military command, a head of the intelligence and security services structures. This is what his father did and I think Qusay was more discreet a killer but a discreet killer and was much more trusted by Saddam.
MARGARET WARNER: Professor Davis, in fact, he was considered a possible successor to his father, wasn't he?
ERIC DAVIS: Absolutely. I think that's why Qusay was number two on the list of most wanted individuals. He really ran the intelligence services and after Uday's, the assassination attempt on him in 1996 he really was somewhat on the margins as a possible successor.
MARGARET WARNER: So given his role particularly with the security services, do you think it's likely that he was playing an essential role in this guerilla resistance?
ERIC DAVIS: Yes, I believe he probably was because, of course, we had indications in the first attack that we all know took place before the war actually began, there were reports that Saddam was carried out of his bunker on the stretcher. So it's very likely that Qusay, just as before the war, was really the person who was involved in the nuts and bolts kinds of daily operations.
MARGARET WARNER: Walter Pincus, back to you. What are your sources telling you about what U.S. officials believe about their role in the resistance that's going on right now?
WALTER PINCUS: I think they pretty much agree with what's been said. Qusay, if you remember, was publicly given responsibilities to protect Baghdad, but the way the situation broke down I think there's a more general feeling now that they drifted, the Republican Guard and the Special Republican Guard, which he ran personally, seemed to drift into the rest of the population. And you began seeing these fights take place. I think a lot of it is attributed to them.
It's clear if you go back to the prewar period during actually an interview that Saddam Hussein gave to Dan Rather, he talked about conducting a guerilla warfare. They clearly knew they were going to lose the war. And I think what you've been seeing since April 9 is sort of pre-prepared guerilla activity.
MARGARET WARNER: Judith Yaphe, following up on something you said earlier, do you think that their reach and their profile was such that they still engendered tremendous fear in the Iraqi people even in hiding three months after the war ended?
JUDITH YAPHE: Yes, I do. And I think Saddam will continue to have that same role until Iraqis can see that he is dead too. They have to see that both of... they have to have proof, confirmation. Otherwise they'll live in the imagination, which is where Saddam is. And the hold on that I think is... we underestimate that in the United States, in the West, but I think it's there and it's serious.
MARGARET WARNER: Professor, do you agree with what Judith Yaphe just said and what one of the questioners said that for the Iraqi people, U.S. forces are going to have to offer proof that these are Uday and Qusay who were killed today?
ERIC DAVIS: Yes, I definitely agree with that. I think that what was just said by Lieutenant Colonel Sanchez that that will be able to occur tomorrow. And, again, I think we have to remember that a poll done recently in Baghdad which showed that only about five percent of the respondents really would like to see a return of Saddam and most of these actions are taking place in the so-called Sunni Arab triangle, Mosul is known as a very pro Arab city. I think that this does not represent what Iraqis as a whole feel. I don't think that they really support these attacks on American troops.
MARGARET WARNER: Walter Pincus, what do you know about what CENTCOM is planning to show tomorrow in the way of real proof that these are the two men that were killed?
WALTER PINCUS: Well, I think at a minimum you're going to see photographs that clearly show identification. Whether they go further than that and actually show the bodies, I have my doubts. But I think clearly the population has to be convinced. And they still are going to have to be convinced when Saddam is eventually caught and killed because he does have this mystical hold and his supporters are so used to carrying out murder and mayhem in his name that I think they're fully prepared to do it as long as they think he's alive and people will still fear that.
MARGARET WARNER: Eric Davis, back to a point you made earlier. You said how important it was that these two men were killed and their connection with the money but I mean there are plenty of other members of the most wanted 55. Why can't they dispense the money?
ERIC DAVIS: Because I think one has to conceptualize the Baath Party in the 1990s more as organized crime than as actually a political party. And I think the only reason that most of the people in the Baath Party remain loyal to Saddam and his two sons were the fact that they were able to distribute certain resources to them.
I think it's going to be much more difficult because Saddam and his sons held a very, very tight rein on those resources for other members in that top 55, for example, and certainly for lower echelon Baathist leaders, to be able to gain access to that money and to be able to distribute it.
And once they're unable to distribute that, we're going to find that the level of violence against American troops is going to diminish seriously. And if we can make the Sunni Arabs aware of the fact that they're not going to be discriminated in the new government, in the new country, in the new structure of Iraq, unlike the situation prior to Saddam's overthrow where they controlled the country, then I think that's also going to contribute significantly to the decline of violence in Iraq and make the process of a democratic transition work much better.
MARGARET WARNER: Judith Yaphe, briefly, do you agree with Professor Davis that the nub or what's fueling the resistance is probably more money than ideology?
JUDITH YAPHE: No, I don't think it's money and I don't think it's ideology either. They're losers. They're people who have no place to go. When all is said and done we're still an army and a force of occupation. Even though we've gotten rid of Saddam, which may be a very popular act, no one is going to be grateful to an occupying force.
MARGARET WARNER: Judith Yaphe, Eric Davis and Walter Pincus, thank you all.
JUDITH YAPHE: You're welcome.