March 19th, 2008
09:34 AM ET

Up Close and on the Trail

We are in the plane on our way to spend a day on the trail with Senator Barack Obama. The campaign has promised us unprecedented behind-the-scenes access with the Senator as he gives a speech on Iraq in Fayetteville, North Carolina and then travels to Charlotte for a town-hall event. 

In between events Senator Obama will sit down for a one-on-one interview with Anderson.Most viewers are used to seeing candidates in formal settings, hearing soundbites, and reading recaps of highly orchestrated official campaign events. Seeing what actually goes into a day on the trail should be revealing. 


We will take you with us as we go backstage and up close with the candidate on the trail. We will be with the Senator before he delivers an important address on the war in Iraq as the 5 year anniversary is upon us.After the event in Fayetteville the six of us traveling for the show will board the Obama press plane and fly with the Obama staff to Charlotte, North Carolina and see first-hand the questions voters have for the candidate.

The day will end with our live show at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.The day will end with our live show at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.



We love doing the show from campus locations because we inevitably draw a large crowd of curious, energetic students and young adults. It should be an apt end to a day on the trail with Barack Obama.– Diana Miller, 360° Producer 


Program Note: Watch Anderson’s report from North Carolina, on the campaign trail with Barack Obama, tonight on 360° 10p ET

Filed under: AC360° Staff • Behind The Scenes • Raw Politics
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
March 19th, 2008
09:25 AM ET

Same place. But five years later, a much different war.


Gary Tuchman reporting from Iraq

On March 19th, 2003, I was near the Iraqi border, at a military base being used by U.S. forces.  I was an embedded reporter with the Air Force, but troops from the Army and Marines were also stationed at the base that was once occupied by Saddam Hussein's troops during the invasion of Kuwait.  But that was ancient history to many of these troops. The 18 and 19 year olds I was with were 6 and 7 during the invasion of Kuwait. Now, the overwhelming feeling among the troops was the moment of truth had arrived.

The war planes, with flames blowing out of their tails, were taking off at ear splitting decibels one after another into the night sky for bombing missions over Iraq. The patriotism level was high; but the fear was palpable. All knew that the stated reason they were here is because the government of Iraq had refused to give up its weapons of mass destruction. What was mostly left unsaid was that if Saddam Hussein was going to use those chemical or biological weapons, this was the time; and there was no more strategic target than the busiest U.S. airbase in the theater of operations; the one we were at.

All the troops (and journalists) had chemical masks and suits. We all went through training. If there were such an attack, we would have seconds to put on the gear correctly; any delay could be fatal. On that very first day, within hours of the air war beginning, we heard our first air raid siren. The siren meant a missile or a rocket fired by the Iraqi military was minutes away from landing in our general vicinity unless it was shot down first by a Patriot missile. But if it wasn't shot down, everyone on that base knew this could be the worst case scenario they had trained for.

Chemical gear went on; everyone hustled to outdoor bomb shelters. And then we all stared at each other. We couldn't see each others faces with the masks on, but I could see eyes. And the eyes of some of these troops, particularly the young ones, told you all you needed to know. Fear.  This was the real thing. We heard a boom; and waited for what seemed like an eternity.


Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Iraq
March 19th, 2008
06:59 AM ET

Morning Buzz

Morning....Today we enter the 6th year of the Iraq war. Five years ago...the administration predicted it would cost between $50 to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein..Today, the cost topples $600 billion AND the cost of US Military lives nears 4000...McCain was in Baghdad earlier this week making the case to "stay the course...the surge is working." Obama, after delivering what critics call an impressive speech on "race," hits the campaign trail in North Carolina to talk about his plan for Iraq. AND guess who is along for the ride? Anderson Cooper will be with him every step of the way!  TONIGHT on AC360 you can see Anderson's EXCLUSIVE interview with Obama and get a an ALL-ACCESS pass to the Presidential contender....

In other news...floods swept  through parts of Arkansas and Texas. John Murtha endorsed Hillary Clinton. Clinton will be in Michigan today pushing for a primary do-over. AND check out What YOU will be talking about TODAY...the most competitive program for medical residents to get into nowadays is PLASTIC SURGERY...says a lot about our society... ANYWAY grab your morning coffee and lets get to it...

Top Stories
Rains lead to flooding in Arkansas, Missouri & Texas...
Torrential rains chased hundreds of people from their flooded homes and deluged roads in the nation's midsection Tuesday, killing at least two people in Missouri and sweeping a teen down a drainage pipe near Dallas, Texas.

Female suicide bomber kills 3 in Baghdad...
Iraqi police say a woman suicide bomber  has killed three people and wounded 12 in an attack near a bus terminal northeast of Baghdad.

Shock & Awe: Five years later...
For a majority of Americans, today marks the fifth anniversary of the start of an Iraq war that was not worth fighting, one that has cost thousands of lives and more than half a trillion dollars. For the Bush administration, however, it is the first anniversary of an Iraq strategy that it believes has finally started to succeed.

Cost of the war...
At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government.

Issue #1...
The Federal Reserve reduced short-term interest rates for the sixth time in six months on Tuesday, capping an extraordinary series of measures it has taken to stabilize financial markets. The cut was smaller than investors had been expecting, though, and exposed some signs of a split among policy makers.

Raw Politics
Clinton heads to Michigan to push for primary do-over...
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton scheduled a last-minute trip to Detroit this morning to try to salvage a Michigan Democratic primary do-over that earlier Tuesday was all but pronounced dead in the Legislature.

Murtha endorses Clinton...
Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine and Vietnam War veteran who has become one of Congress' most outspoken critics of the Iraq war, on Tuesday endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, saying she is "the candidate that will forge a consensus on health care, education, the economy and the war in Iraq."

Obama urges ALL to help heal racial divide...
Sen. Barack Obama in a speech Tuesday addressed the controversy surrounding his former minister, using it as an opportunity to challenge Americans to take a closer look at race relations.

Obama speaks...
After making what many political analysts are calling the most important speech of his political career, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., sat down for an exclusive interview with "Nightline's" Terry Moran to further discuss the delicate issue of race in America. Obama explained to ABC News why this was the right moment for him to give such a politically risky speech.

Program note: Anderson's exclusive interview with Obama airs tonight at 10 pm

Crime & Punishment
Jump in homocides in LA...
Los Angeles Police Department officials, alarmed by the continued rise in the homicide rate this year, sought Tuesday to debunk the notion that racial animosity has been at the heart of many of the killings.

Reporters apologize to McCanns...
Two British newspapers apologized Wednesday to the parents of missing Madeleine McCann for suggesting the couple was responsible for the death of their daughter.

Keeping Them Honest
Rezko jury hears tales of bribes & drugs...
The government's star witness in the corruption trial of Antoin "Tony" Rezko took the stand Tuesday and in just 48 minutes laid out a stunning personal tale of bribery, treachery, rampant drug abuse and a precipitous fall from grace.

What YOU will be talking about TODAY
For med students, appearance matters...
March Madness has a different meaning for Thomas Hocker and Meena Singh, a married couple in their final year at the Harvard Medical School, who are waiting to learn Thursday if they have been accepted into their residency programs of choice.

Report out on Tiger escape...
An organization that accredits zoos says the San Francisco Zoo had an "impressive" response to a tiger escape on Christmas Day but could have done more initially, according to a report the zoo released Tuesday.

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