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March 19th, 2008
09:30 AM ET

At the invasion of Iraq: Whipping sand and poison gas warnings

I was the rare reporter from a U.S. network covering the British ground forces, the only allies the U.S. had during the invasion of Iraq.

Awaiting H-Hour amid a total news and communications blackout, a strong storm was brewing ominously, razor sharp sand whipped our bodies, scratched our faces and collapsed our pup-tents on top of us.  Since the war was nominally about ridding Saddam Hussein of WMD, once we were moving up through southern Iraq, the fear of being poisoned was palpable.

At least once a day the fog horn blasted along with the soon-to-become tiresome yell:  GAS GAS GAS! That was our cue to don whatever we could of the chemical and biological protective suits we had been issued and dive into a ditch to take cover.

I remember thinking if there really were chemical or biological laden missiles heading our way, we would never stand a chance. None of us ever got the mask or the suits on properly… much less in time.

– Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent

Program note: Anderson takes a look back at the start of the Iraq War and where it stands now
Saturday & Sunday on 360° at 11p ET: “Shock & Awe: 5 Years Later” WATCH A PREVIEW 


Filed under: Christiane Amanpour • Iraq
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. venky

    ANYWAY SADDAM CANNOT BE EXCUSED.MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALISM HAVE BEEN GROWING .THERE IS NO WAY EXCEPT WAR AGAINST IRAQ. IN WAR WE CANNOT EXPECT ANY
    RULE SHOULD BE ADOPTED. IT IS A LIFE AND DEATH BUSINESS.
    SO WE NEED NOT BOTHER ABOUT CRIES OF IMPOTENTS. ONLY US ALONE CAN DO THIS ADVENTURE AND IT DISCHARGED ITS
    DUTY TO MANKIND

    March 23, 2008 at 3:32 am |
  2. Stewart Brodian

    I can understand and respect the president's effort to explain and justify the United States' invasion of Iraq on this fifth anniversary.
    What I feel that needs to be mentioned is the lack of preparation before the invasion.
    Cores of engineers should have been prepared to rebuild their infrastructure, once we destroyed it.
    New Iraqi/Arab soldiers, policemen, and other forms of authority should have been trained by the US to help take over the situation once we toppled Saddam's Regime.
    That may have been a violation of international law but, we wouldn't have ended up looking so clumsy – there would not have been as much looting, for example.
    Right now, many Iraqis are without basic human services; electricity is on only for nine hours each day in the major cities.
    Water mains still haven't been repaired – 5 years later – and gasoline is near impossible to find on a regular basis.
    Despite the tyranny, the country was still able to run itself .
    Our invasion ended that.
    These are the things that should be pointed out when the question "Why do they Hate us?" is asked.
    In the meantime, another question should be asked when the statement "We will win in Iraq:" is said – "Win what?".
    The president said: "A free Iraq will fight terrorists instead of harboring them".
    Is that a guarantee?
    Rights for women were promised in Kuwait when we freed them – that still hasn't happened.
    The Saudi's are a free nation and that's where most of the 9-11 hijackers came from!
    The same old question, from the 1960;'s, has surfaced once again: "What are we fighting for?".

    Stewart Brodian
    Easton, PA.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  3. Sarah

    Christiane.....

    I recall your reports. You are so brave!

    March 19, 2008 at 11:34 am |
  4. Annie Kate

    Christiane,

    Thank you for the reminder that Great Britain is in this with us. Their forces don't get near the coverage they deserve.

    I can't even imagine having to get in a suit and a gas mask under a time deadline. I'm glad for everyone fighting over there that Saddam was bluffing on his WMDs; of course, he miscalculated badly thinking that his posturing on them would keep the US from attacking. In the end he saw he had badly miscalculated not only on whether we would invade but on what would happen to him.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 19, 2008 at 11:29 am |
  5. delusionaldan

    "I remember thinking if there really were chemical or biological laden missiles heading our way, we would never stand a chance."

    And yet Christiane still think it's better to retreat from those that school in the use these types of weapons. Yeah, that makes perfect sense..., (eyes rolling).

    March 19, 2008 at 10:44 am |
  6. Cindy

    Christiane,
    I can't even imagine having to always be worried about those attacks! Luckily you all didn't actually get gassed. Thanks for giving us an insight into the beginning of this war. And I must say that your reports and all of your work is impeccable!! CNN needs to use you WAY more!!

    Cynthia, Covington, Ga.

    March 19, 2008 at 9:57 am |

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