tv CNN Newsroom CNN August 24, 2011 8:00am-10:00am PDT
wielding around their assault rifles. they've been very hostile towards us at times, they've often told us about how they think we're spies, nato spies and bent on destroying libya. one of them shouted up to me just yesterday, we all corralled ourselves away from them because we didn't want to make much contact with them because there was such hostility. >> switch? >> yeah. >> all right, we were listening to matthew chance, who was speaking to us just a bit earlier, just a remarkable situation. after five days of virtual imprisonment in the rixos hotel in tripoli, foreign journalists, international journalists, some diplomats, politicians as well, more than 30 people trapped at the rixos, thankfully today is a day they are able to taste freedom for the first time in days in tripoli. our matthew chance and crew there on the ground, everyone
else from the cnn team and other networks from around the world who gathered over the last few weeks to report on the libya story from the rixos hotel, that last bash of pro-gadhafi control in the libyan capital, they are now free. they are driving through the streets of tripoli headed to a safer location. they were running out of food, they were running out of water. hopefully -- well, hopefully they'll be able to have a regular meal, call their loved ones, have a glass of water, take a shower, and just relax, but it was an absolutely traumatic experience. so along with suzanne malveaux as we broadcast to our viewers around the world. >> obviously, this is a very significant development. i mean, a great sigh of relief. you and i have been talking to matthew chance for days now. you could really tell how very tense the situation was, how difficult that was for him and the other journalists, just the fact we were not really able to share the full story and matthew
was not able to share the full story, because he was under the control, being held, by those gadhafi loyalists who were armed, who, we understand, the conditions just horrific. no electricity, a lot of times in the darkness, just last night we understand that we have more sound from matthew chance, but he was saying just last night that they had to break in, they were able just to get some food, candy bars, to be able to survive. let's listen in, i think we have more sound from matthew. >> reporter: couldn't after 42 years nearly of gadhafi's rule comprehend the idea of a libya without him, but when they finally understood it and took it in and embraced it, at one point an assault rifle was thrown across the room into the kitchen, into the kitchens in the restaurant area, and the whole situation changed. all of the guards there, the two
guards that were in the lobby of the hotel, gadhafi loyalists, right up until the end, right up until beyond the end, you could say. they basically came over to us and they said look, you know, we're not going to stop you from leaving anymore. all we have to do then is arrange some kind of transport out of the hotel, and thankfully the icrc, international committee of the red cross, came up for us. >> matthew chance there just a bit earlier, and suzanne, these journalists saw themselves in a real surreal situation having to report, essentially, on their own imprisonment. they were not allowed to leave, there were armed guards and gunmen all around them. you usually don't get tweets from people held against their will, and we were able to at least get updates on how they were doing. >> thank god, that gave us a totally different picture of how they were living during these days. i think we have the latest one here. he says the crisis ends, all
journalists are out. that was his most recent tweet, but he had tweeted before, it was just yesterday there were tweets about how worried he was, how frustrated he was, and you could tell in one of his reports too that he was so concerned of one of those guards behind him, that he was going to anger one of his guards, that he moved around the corner, he looked very worried. at least when he was able to tweet he was able to give a clearer picture of what was taking place inside the hotel. >> my favorite tweet, he announced we're going to send out personal tweets to people who may have loved ones in the rixos, through him, they were able to update their loved ones on how they were doing. thankfully, once again to all our viewers who are joining us now, these journalists who have been trapped for five-plus days in the rixos hotel, the five-star prison as it was known in libya, are out and headed to
a safer location. great news as far as we're concerned. but the battle for tripoli and perhaps other parts of libya continues, it's still an uncertain situation. >> we don't know at this point. the big question is where is moammar gadhafi in all of this. you saw the compound yesterday, the dramatic pictures, the scene unfolding throughout the day the last 24 hours of that compound being taken over by rebels, but we really have no idea at this point where the leader of the supposed leader of the country is. that sets a scene, a stage for something that's very tense, we saw urban warfare yesterday, we're now looking at these pictures here. obviously, this was not far from that compound, from gadhafi's compound, where these journalists were working under, really, quite strenuous conditions here much of the time without light, in darkness. and a real sense of uncertainty whether or not and how long they
would actually be there trying to report this very difficult conflict, this story, under those kinds of conditions. >> and matthew was telling us here's what clinched it, it's when these gunmen, these individuals who thought they were still fighting for gadhafi realized it's over. there's nothing left to defend anymore, that's when they told the journalists gathered in the hotel, all right, we're not going to keep you from leaving. arrange for your own transportation out of here. >> i understand we got some sound from matthew we want to play. this was when he was first released from the hotel. let's listen in. >> reporter: we've got all the journalists into these four cars plus a civilian car, and we're now driving out of the rixos, we're driving through the desertdesert ed streets, i'd have to say of tripoli to our freedom. it's been an absolute nightmare for all of us. there are journalists who have been, as a result of this
emotional release, the fact that we've got out of the hotel, crying, emotions are running very high. we went through a rebel checkpoint, the rebel checkpoint all along was about 150 meters down the road from the rixos hotel. they hadn't approached the hotel presumably because they didn't want a big gunfight to take place where all those international journalists have been holed up over the course of the past five days. >> and it's been awhile since -- that's okay, matthew, you let me know if it's not safe to talk. i mean, you've finally been able to get out of this hotel. i want to ask you, though, were you ever threatened. were you ever told to say or not say anything? give us a feel for what was being said to you and also a feel for your safety. >> reporter: frankly, we've been -- we've been living in fear for the past five days, because we've been really being held against our will by these,
you know, crazy gunmen who were in the lobby of our hotel wearing green bandanas waving gadhafi flags, wielding around their assault rifles. they've been very hostile towards us at times, they've often told us about they think we're spies, nato spies, and, you know, set and bent on destroying libya. one of them shouted to me -- we corralled ourselves away from them because there was so much hostility. one of them shouted to me yesterday i suppose you're happy now, aren't you, now that libyans are killing libyans, underlying the idea that gadhafi loyalists under control of the rixos hotel really held the national media, for some reason, responsible for the crisis in libya. so i can't tell you how pleased we all are and how relieved we all are and how relieved our
families will all be that we finally managed to get out of that place. >> matthew, just to reiterate, you said that all the journalists were freed, so you're telling me everybody is okay, everybody is alive and everybody -- >> reporter: everybody's okay, there were no injuries, you know, perhaps some emotional scars, but apart from that, nothing visible. it's been an incredible couple of hours. we've been up all night for the past five nights, frankly, trying to go through every possible scenario, trying to negotiate our release and get out of this situation by using whatever means, and, you know, we're confronted with these guys in the lobby of the hotel who were basically, you know, the kind of die hard gadhafi loyalists, except for one. and he was always really nice to us and he was a bit of an older guy, and, you know, i saw this incredible scene today, i don't know quite what happened, but
some of our arab-speaking colleagues for speaking to him, the world has changed outside the gates of the rixos hotel. he was following orders to keep us there. he didn't realize that or didn't believe that tripoli has basically fallen for the most part to the rebels, and so when he was convinced of that, you know what, he surrendered his guns, two of them surrendered their guns. those guns were disabled and cast aside, and, you know, the whole atmosphere became one of finally, finally we think we're going to be able to move out, because previously to a few minutes ago, we've been asking every day, every hour, every minute almost, you know, in some capacity, to get out of there. and we've always been told no, we're keeping you there for your safety, and it's not safe for you to go outside. you're not allowed to leave. every time somebody's tried to leave, there's been gunshots,
there's been ferocious battles as well outside the rixos hotel particularly because it's so close to gadhafi's main compound where there have been fierce clashes between his opposition fighters and the remnants of gadhafi's forces. i'll tell you, in the end, you know, it seemed to us, and i don't know whether this is an accurate fact or not, but it seemed to us that we were sitting, we were trapped, on the last pocket of colonel gadhafi's control in tripoli, if not in the whole of libya, so it was a very, very frustrating experience, and again, we're immensely relieved, all of us, that we're out of there and driving, essentially, driving to our freedom. >> matthew chance, just a bit earlier. all the journalists in the rixos hotel freed after five days in captivity. they were keeping us up to date through tweets and phone calls, but we were very worried about
them, there were gunmen in the perimeter outside the hotel and gunmen roaming the lobbies as well. arwa damon at tripoli international airport, it is not a functioning airport, but she made it there. it's one of the areas rebels fought hard for. arwa, what do you make of this release? >> reporter: it's so incredibly relieving to hear that -- >> well, in three words she managed to say what we're all thinking, it is a relief. that's for sure. we were very much concerned for the safety of our colleagues there and the other individuals in that hotel as well. arwa is back. arwa, you were starting to tell me what a relief. go on. >> reporter: well, it seems as if what matthew was saying would be correct and those that were holding them in the hotel, perhaps, realized there was no
longer anything to hold on to, the regime in tripoli was beginning to fall, that said, we are still witnessing rebel fighters around the tripoli international airport mostly coming in from the east, and the battles have been fierce, rockets being fired at the airport complex, and the commander here says he believes the intensity of fighting is directly linked to gadhafi's whereabouts. he believes that gadhafi loyalists are trying to clear a route for gadhafi either to move from tripoli to other areas in the country where there are loyals to protect him or believe that gadhafi is already moving to the east in the various farmlands. yesterday at around sunset when the rebels were breaking their fast, perhaps not necessarily alert as they would have been, some of the fighters spotted what they are identifying as
being an official convoy that had an armored mercedes in it. he believes gadhafi could have been traveling in that vehicle. they did alert nato about that, passing on information, but we're still seeing a fair amount of resistance from gadhafi forces here at the international airport. >> let's talk about the situation at the airport. you were reporting yesterday and over the last few days since you arrived in libya there was some fighting not too far from the airport. now, what is the situation as far as the capital is concerned. are the rebels pretty much in control of the whole city? >> reporter: well, they say that they are in control of most of it, but i can tell you that they are not in control, for example, of the highway that leads directly from the airport to tripoli that would go directly to gadhafi's bab al-aziziya compound. they've only managed to push up a few kilometers and miles on that highway. they are not in control of the farmlands to the east, and so
while they might have been able to gain control of a critical location in tripoli, rebel commanders say they believe the battle is shifting its focus to the airport and its vicinity. they were telling us last night they believe this is possibly where we could be seeing the final stance between gadhafi forces and these rebel fighters. they've been struggling to take control of this area even though they did manage to get their hands on weapons buried next to the tarmac here, it seemed as if gadhafi units planned on quite a fight. they have fortified themselves, there were all sorts of defenses being put into place. they did come across some resistance and now it seems the battle has shifted to the periphery of the airport itself, rocket fire, heavy artillery being exchanged. >> arwa damon at the international airport. it appears the vast majority of
the city is in rebel hands, the big question, of course, is there pockets of resistance, i suppose with how much enthusiasm will pro-gadhafi forces fight back, that question still unanswered. >> i want to go to dan rivers, i understand he's at martyr square in tripoli. dan, you know matthew very well. you know the guys that he works with. you've seen this video here, you've heard his story, what do you make of what's actually taken place? >> reporter: well, it's obviously a huge, huge relief that matthew's out. i've just come from a briefing from a senior member of the transitional national council, and he's given me a bit of an overview of what's happening in the city right now. he says basically south of the ring road is still fairly dicey with pockets of resistance,
zawiya is secured, gilgaresh, another two districts they say are secured, but south of that ring road down towards the airport they say is still very dangerous. they say that the situation is getting better, and i asked how many causalities they've suffered since sunday. he gave me the figure of 400. and worringly in light of what happened to matthew, he told us that colonel gadhafi issued orders to kidnap foreigners. we don't know if that's rebel propaganda or if that's true, obviously, a clear relief matthew is out of that dicey situation. you can see there's still a hell of a lot of celebratory gunfire around here. one other nugget of information,
he said that general ishkow, in charge of the special cards that were in charge of protecting gadhafi had actually been working undercover for the rebels since the beginning of this month and he had ordered the revolutionary guards to lay down their weapons and surrender. now, they are not sure who is now resisting, whether it's pockets of that guard who have disobeyed that general's order. obviously, this is all comes from the rebels. we have no way of checking any of this, but that's what we've been told at the moment. the big picture here is of that ring road still remains dangerous. you said you got 80% or 90% of the city, there's a bit of going back on that now, but certainly they are very confident and here there are people firing guns in celebration. >> dan, tell us about where you are and what's taking place. we hear gunfire, it sounds ominous, but you say these are
people simply celebrating. are you seeing any kind of a firefight or is this an area that's clear where the rebels are in charge and people are celebrating. >> reporter: it's clear that this tnc spokesman said there are snipers around, so i can't be 100% sure everything you're hearing is celebratory, but it feels that way down here, there are people walking around looking at the debris and damage that's been caused to the square, such a contrast to when i was here back in june when, of course, this was still firmly the heart of the gadhafi regime. now it's -- well, it's the heart of the rebel regime. they are driving around and round, looting off guns and so on, but the situation to the south down towards where arwa is at the airport, that does remain dangerous, and they steered us anywhere south of that main ring
road. they were asked about, for example, a port area, can boats come in. they said at the moment they said they feel they have the port but no boats are docking at the moment. >> dan, just to be clear, i understand what you're getting from this council, this transitional council here, there's one area in particular that's still a dangerous area where the rebels do not have control for the most part, they have control, but the area near the airport where arwa damon is is not yet safe. >> reporter: that's right, he said it was south of that main ring road that sweeps around the south of tripoli, sort of cutting it in half, if you like. south of the zoo, all of that area down towards the airport remains unsafe. up here, we're in the northern half of the city, the sea is back behind us there, and they are claiming this is an area they feel happy with, happy for us to come to and clearly the fact we can broadcast here and as you can see, there are cars driving around here, lots of
people beeping their horns in celebration gives you the sense this area, or at least, is much safer than it was. >> dan, for those of us who don't really know the area, the area where you're talking about where the rebels don't have control, is that a big region next the airport, do you have a sense of scale or size, the type of battle they might be undergoing if they take on that region? >> reporter: i'm afraid i don't know. i mean, the map we were looking at had no scale on it, so going off this map he showed us, which looked like a sizable chunk of the city he was gesturing at saying down here is dicey. whether that means that the entire area is dicey or they can't guarantee people's safety wasn't clear, but the impression i got was it was a good chunk of the southern half of the city that does remain volatile and dangerous and not somewhere they were saying that we should go at all. as i say, with reports of snipers and pockets of
resistance down there, even while we were there, they left in several jeeps to go on a mission to that area, so i got the impression there is still active fighting going on down there. >> you had mentioned something, i want to ask you about this, dan, just to be clear here, you actually said there was a general who was in charge of the special cards that were in charge of protecting gadhafi and one of those generals had been working undercover for the rebels since the beginning of the month and ordered the revolutionary guards to lay down their weapons and surrender. do you know anything more about that, the possibility they had a spy or someone who was undercover? >> reporter: well, this is just a, you know, one account of someone in the council who, you know, claims to be seen here, they are saying general ishkow ordered his guards to lay down
their weapons. the general had been working with the rebels undercover since the beginning of this month, so for a couple of weeks, three weeks now, and have been trying to encourage them to lay down their weapons, and whether all of them had or not, that was what they were trying to ascertain at the moment, but i must stress, i have absolutely no way of verifying this. this is all just from one source in the council who claimed to be a senior member of the council. it seems quite a kind of chaotic organizational structure, if you like. we were actually waiting for another figure to turn up, a colonel who didn't turn up, and so this gentlemen gave us a briefing on his behalf. i have no way of verifying whether his claims are true or not, i think it's important to stress that is just from what one person in the council, who is obviously, you know, comes with a particular point of view. >> certainly, dan, if it were
true, this would not be good news for gadhafi if there are actually rebels who are able to infiltrate his guard, the protection around him, that certainly would indicate or signal he's in big trouble, potentially big troubles if there are rebels that are able to get that close to him and get those to turn on him. >> reporter: absolutely, this is potentially disastrous, i get the impression that guard was, you know, kind of his hard core guy to fight to the death to protect him. and if this is true, he's apparently been turned to the rebel cause, you know, it is a massive blow to gadhafi. his whereabouts are unknown, we asked repeatedly, they have no idea, his exact words, "god only knows where gadhafi is." they are around the city drying to ascertain that now. >> thank you so much, dan, we
appreciate the update. obviously, a very tense situation. he specifically talked about how the council said there was one region where the rebels were not in control, where they are still fighting gadhafi loyalists, where it is a very dangerous situation, and that is near the airport where arwa damon, our own arwa damon is. a lot of questions, where is moammar gadhafi, and how dangerous is the situation? >> the dust hasn't settled. we don't know how the next few days will unfold as far as fighting is concerned. it does appear a vast majority of tripoli is in rebel hands. the question is it doesn't take many armed men to create a very difficult and bloody situation. in a relatively -- in a relatively big area, so that's not going to go away, that possibility that there might be more bloodshed in tripoli. we're going to hopefully speak with matthew chance on the other side of this break who was freed about an hour ago from the rixos
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introducing the brita bottle with the filter inside. all right, well, welcome back, everyone, we are covering breaking news out of libya and tripoli, along with suzanne malveaux. just about 45 minutes ago those reporters who had been trapped/held captive in the rixos hotel in tripoli were freed. our matthew chance spoke to us
on the phone shortly after being released. he was in an icrc, international committee of the red cross, vehicle on his way to a safe location. this is what he told us immediately after being released. listen. >> reporter: we got all the journalists into these four cars, plus a civilian car, and we're driving out of the rixos, driving through the deserted streets, i would have to say, of tripoli to our freedom essentially. it's been an absolute nightmare for all of us, you know, there are journalists who have been, as a result of this emotional release, the fact that we've got out of the hotel are crying, emotions are running very high. >> well, we have matthew chance with us live on the phone. matthew, it's been about an hour, how does it feel? >> reporter: it feels great. it feels absolutely great. we've come back to another hotel in tripoli.
there's been loads of people here to meet us. loads of, you know, press who have been following this terrible, horrible situation at the rixos hotel for the past week or so. everybody's been hugging each other. people who have been living cheek to jowl with for the past five days, sleeping in the corridors, wondering whether we were going it make it. you know, it's all very emotional. we were kind of hugging each other, congratulating each other, shaking hands, kissing. it's a great thing to come out of a situation like this. you know, in one piece, there's been no injuries, nobody's been killed. and it's just a huge, huge relief that we -- that we came through it like that. >> matthew, this is suzanne, can you tell us again how it was that you managed to escape this hotel, how this actually happened?
>> reporter: yes, suzanne, it was remarkable actually, because we found ourselves in a situation where we were essentially in the -- virtually, one of the last remaining pockets of control of territory of colonel gadhafi, he left that area in the hands of a few, you know, loyalist fighters wearing green bandanas carrying weapons, they are die hards. they really believe that gadhafi was coming back, that he could -- he was beating the rebels, that's what the government line has been on this all along. but obviously as the days went on, as tripoli fell to the rebels, as it became more and more obvious that there was nothing really outside of the hotel that was in gadhafi control, the reality slowly dawned on these people, until today, a couple of hours ago, they essentially capitulated to the 36 journalists or so that were inside the rixos hotel,
they handed over their weapons. those weapons were sort of put out of use, and they said we're going to let you go. it's no problem, but you need to get cars to come and fetch you, so -- so we organized with it with the icrc, the international committee of the red cross. they came and picked us up, which was a huge relief. it was fantastic of them to essentially go through the checkpoints and come and pick us up, all of the journalists in four cars, we had to get another car, a civilian car to cram the journalists in, we literally crammed in. seven people in the small icrc car that i was in, and we had a short drive to a location in another part of the city, going through multiple rebel checkpoints, and, you know, just the feeling of the weight, this pressure lifting off us as we drove further away from the rixos hotel, and it's just
really incredible. everyone's really happy now, obviously, very, very happy and relieved this situation has come to an end. >> matthew, if someone told you a few days ago you'd be happy to see a rebel checkpoint with men armed to the teeth, i don't think you would have believed them. what was your worst fear when you were essentially being held against your will at the rixos, you and your colleagues. >> reporter: can you repeat that? >> what was your worst fear? >> reporter: we had all sorts of paranoid scenarios we were playing in our minds from everything is going to end fine, we're going to wake up one morning and everyone is going to be gone and we can walk out to this awful worst-case scenario that we were going to be used as human shields, we were going to be taken prisoner and executed by this lunatic hard liner, and in all of the scenarios in between as well, and we've
exhausted, we've expanded such a lot of physical and emotional energy, all of us, focusing, trying to work out what we can do to get out. we worked out an escape plan if things get really bad, people start shooting at us, we were going to climb over the wall and run down a ditch and, you know, escape to across the road. all sorts of plans going over again and again, we created a safe room in the hotel. it was a mosque, it was a prayer room, which we took because it didn't have any windows. we went around the hotel sort of gathering food and water and started to corral it in a certain area so we had enough supplies. we were running short, we had food and water for a couple of days, we went through the kitchens, meat had gone raw, it
stank. after all this, we were absolutely -- all this while we were absolutely terrified that, you know, the mood was going to change and we were going to be shot. i think that gets to the nub of it. that's what we were worried about. we were worried about being shot. but happily we weren't shot, we weren't even injured. we are absolutely fine and we've all come out. >> were there any of these gadhafi loyalists, these gunmen, that you could talk to, that you could reason with? were they listening to your live reports, listening to what you were saying or the other journalists? >> reporter: did they -- sorry, having real trouble hearing you on this telephone line. >> sure, were there any of these gunmen you could talk to, negotiate with, work with, were they actually listening in on your live reports? >> reporter: well, i mean for the past several weeks, been sort of full government control
there, full government presence there, all that time, we worked under the assumption that our phone calls were being listened to, e-mails were being tapped into, but at some point last week all the government officials and minders, media spokesperson for gadhafi abandoned the hotel, all those gadhafi hanger onners all left us, abandoned it, went somewhere else, they left the hotel to these young gunmen. those gunmen we couldn't negotiate with, no. they were very angry, they blamed the international media for the crisis in libya. one of them shouted up to me just yesterday, hey, i hope you're happy now that libyans are killing libyans, really sort of bringing across the point that, you know, they felt that we were responsible for what was happening.
it's been very difficult to negotiate with them. we've even tried to avoid any contact with them at all, in fact, because there was such hostility at various points during our captivity, i suppose, if we could call it, in the rixos hotel. you know, we had them sort of kicking down our doors, my room was smashed into, my door was kicked in, my stuff rifled through by hoodlums essentially. they walked through our corridors where we corralled all the journalists together, with their guns cocked, behaving in threatening fashion. so there were these real debts that we had to sort of live through, some of the worst ones being there was this ferocious battle, of course, being a short distance away which came into the hotel periphery for the
control of gadhafi's compound a few nights back. the artillery shells coming in, machine guns fired. i spent at least 36 hours, you know, on and off lying on my belly in a darkroom with no air conditioning in a very hot country, of course, so it's like sweating, got no food and water, little food and water, shells coming in, there's snipers shooting through the hotel. it's been an absolute nightmare, absolute nightmare. >> i want to ask you, so many people are wondering, psychologically, how do you keep it together when you're on your own and when you're with the others? how do you get through it? >> reporter: i don't know. i guess what i do is i've tried to, i guess i've been trying to sort of remain focussed on gathering whatever news i can, thinking about work is a good way of getting through it.
we're also very lucky to have a great bunch of journalists that were there, it was a very collegiate atmosphere, we were all looking after each other's backs, we all did things together. we all made sort of collective decisions about what our next steps were going to be. and, you know, there were some times when we laughed and joked as well and had some pretty good times. this is, you know, there's a whole gamut, one of the amazing things about this experience, incredible things, there was this gamut of emotions from massive lows from thinking we're not going to get out of this, not going to make it through the hour to these incredible highs where, you know, we're really optimistic it's going to come to an end, and, of course, it did. thankfully it ended on a high, which is great. >> matthew, i understand in order to just report you were at sometimes in the basement and you had to make your way up to the top so you could get a signal out to talk to people, to
people these reports. you were also tweeting. was this your lifeline essentially to get on air to tell the story? >> reporter: i think so for me, yeah, i really -- what i said all along to my management is i've been so grateful. this network has been so grateful and dependent on the other networks that were in the hotel. we were caught offguard in some ways on this story because we didn't have a cameraman there, we didn't have the technical staff there we'd normally have on a story like this because the road was cut off from tunisia, on the bus, the road got cut off and they were turned back. we were left there, just me, just a couple of other staff members as well, field producer, fantastic, she speaks arabic and was doing a lot of the negotiations with the -- with the, you know, the security staff downstairs, but yes, i really, you know, i think stretch, my colleagues would
agree with me, i really stretched the good will of other news organizations through breaking sometimes, borrowing their satellite phones, trying to do interviews on the phone like this one, and i was trying to tweet as much as possible, sometimes we had the internet, which was good, then i could tweet as normal and do skype live shots and other times the internet was down and we had other means of broadcasting and tweeting, so one of the things, i've been using three methods, normal on my iphone, normal signal through the wifi, i've been using a satellite phone to uplink to the internet and do tweets on there, and finally, i've been using this last-case, worst-case scenario of dictation, log into my account, tweet this right now, and that's been very effective, and it's been a really good way, i think, of getting out, you know, the message of what's been happening
inside that hotel for the past five terrible days. >> we relied very much on your tweets, matthew, and we're all thinking of you and all of our friends and colleagues and people we've met along the road out in the field. it's just a very difficult situation. thankfully it ended well, but matthew, the city is still not a safe city. it's still not a stable situation for you, so you went from essentially being held captive to now kind of a volatile environment in tripoli itself. >> yeah, well i've been so cut off of what's been happening over the course of the last week, i don't know what the situation is in tripoli in general. i've driven through the streets of tripoli on the way to this location i'm in now, it was virtually deserted, there were a lot of burned-out cars, green flags of gadhafi have been torn
down, pictures of gadhafi have been torn down, rebel che checkpoints every couple of meters along the way and every time we went past the checkpoints, they'd look at us, give us the victory sign and wave us on. the producer on this assignment, who's been so great, told me in the car what's been different for her about tripoli seems all of a sudden such a happy city. it's been such a grim place, people didn't want to make contact with you, whereas driving through the city now, everybody's smiling, everybody's looking at us and waving, and they feel like they are happy. that was her point of view. i expect you'll hear more from her later on, but, you know, yes, a remarkable drive we have just taken through these very volatile streets of libya. >> is your producer with you and
able to talk to us by phone? >> reporter: let me have a look around, she may have gone to freshen up. she is here, she is here. i'm going to ask her to join us. one second. i'm going to hand it over to her right now. >> reporter: hello guys, hey. >> nice to hear your voice. >> good to be out, it's good to be free. >> tell us how you're doing. >> reporter: i cannot explain to you what an emotional roller coaster this has been. it's been unbelievable, you know, especially today it was really hard. one of the most difficult things to me was speaking the language, you know, speaking arabic, i was involved in most of the negotiations between those guys who were holding us there and also trying to talk to people on the outside, trying to secure a safe passage for us or getting
us out, it was a team effort, we had an amazing group of journalists and an experience like this we bonded and worked as a team and made sure we all got out of there together. it was amazing. walking out of the hotel, i didn't really know what was going to be out there. even in libya, i was shocked, it's a new tripoli. i didn't see green flags, it was the rebel flags, i saw children waving the flags. it felt like a happy tripoli, a very, very different one that i saw a week ago before we were taken hostage. >> it's unbelievable, enter a hotel one day, exit five days later and it's a brand new country, brand new environment. i asked matthew this question, i want to ask you, jowana, we worked together many times in the past, i know how strong
willed you are and how determined you are, how do you get through five days of uncertainty? matthew was telling us you don't know, you're going through crazy scenarios in your mind that include the worst possible outcome, how did you keep it together psychologically? >> reporter: i think a lot of it was us talking to each other and finding a coping mechanism for being in there, trying sometimes to crack jokes and make the best out of a worst scenario one can be in. definitely, there were times when you really couldn't control it, you would space out and you were thinking about the things that could happen to us, we're hearing from the guys who were holding us, i was confronted a couple of times by the guys with guns, it was really scarey, but we survived that, and it's just really good to be out right now. >> i can imagine.
>> jomana, this is suzanne, i know you speak arabic, the process of the negotiations, how did that come about, what was your role, why did you even think you could negotiate with these gunmen? >> reporter: suzanne, i spent quite a bit of time in libya over the past few months, and, you know, even in a place like the rixos hotel, even in a place where we were so restricted and, you know, most of the time the relationship wasn't the best, but it's still also you build this relationship with one human being to another. i think this was a continuation to that. some of the guys that were there we knew and they knew some of us, so you were still able to sit and talk to them from one human being to another, and i think this is what it was at the end, just an emotional plea to one of the last men who was standing there and he actually, suzanne, he felt that he wanted to protect us. he was totally convinced that,
you know, it was armed gangs on the streets of tripoli. like us, he really did not know what the scenes on the streets of tripoli were like, and in the final moments when him and another armed man, you know, were about to put down their guns, he asked the guy, he told him, you were out there, tell me, what's really going on, is it what they are telling us? he didn't even know whether bab al-aziziya had fallen or not. he's in much of a shock as we are, so it was just process of keeping it calm, keeping quiet, and remember we're all human and trying to talk to each other like that. >> what did you say to him, what did you say to the gunmen to allow the group of you to leave? >> reporter: well, i actually, you know, we spent time with him over the past few days just sitting and talking to him about his kids, his family, so i started to comment and telling him i really miss my family and
really want to go out and see my family who are really worried about me now and same for the 30-plus journalists in the hotel. he got tears in his eyes in that moment and felt emotional about that too, and slowly myself and another colleague here, an arab cameraman, we both sat there with him and told him that, you know, things are changing out there. slowly he started listening to us. you have to sing to your kids, you're left here alone, let us go. it happened. it was a slow process, it was a messy one at times, but it worked out in the end. >> sometimes it's all about finding that common humanity, doesn't always work, but when it does work, hopefully you get someone who's receptive to basic human emotions, and it seems as if in that gunman jowana and the team found it. jowana, stand by.
i understand sara sidner is in martyr's square right now, renamed green square, with the latest, sara? >> reporter: for awhile it was quiet, all of us were thinking about matthew and jowana inside the hotel. it's a relief they are okay. in the back of your mind, that could have been any of us. people who have come here to cover the story put ourselves in a precarious position, we're kn here in martyr square, it used to be green square. calling it martyr square for a while had been calm. but now as the sun is going down in the sky, people coming back out and blasting off these massive weapons. i had to go ahead and put back the helmet in place just in case some of those bullets come down and towards us. but i have to say, there's still a bit of fighting going on in the city. you're hearing loud blasts.
this is rebel fire going off there. but not in a fire fight. what we're hearing is there are parts of the city that are not safe. some of our reporters, dan rivers is now here, he was coming into the city. he was told there is a ring road you should not go on, there are snipers. still areas that are certainly -- they may be in control in the sense that there are check points, but there still are elements of gadhafi's forces in the streets that perhaps people can't see that are taking shots at people. so still, a situation that is not completely under the control of the rebels. >> and sara, we know the rebels are claiming that like 90% of the territory is in their control. you're on the ground, you can see what's taking place. what is your sense of who's in control? is it still a very chaotic and fluid situation? >> reporter: it is a chaotic situation, but it's made chaotic by all of the gunfire. you can't tell if there's an actual battle going on if you can't see it and you're not
close enough to see what's going on. or if that's friendly fire going on. we can tell what's going on here is the rebels just blowing off their gunfire. but in some of the neighborhoods, that is not the case. the rebels do have control of many of the streets here. we do know that because we've been stopped at their check points around the city. we've been told where we can go, where we cannot go. in that sense, they're in control knowing the areas that are still dangerous and keeping residents from those areas. we are not seeing gadhafi forces eye-to-eye. we know that they are in certain neighborhoods, just the one, for example, right behind the compound. the gadhafi compound. we know that neighborhood does still have some gadhafi forces in it. there's definitely some situation near the hotel where all of those journalists were let out. people saying snipers in the area there. so clearly the rebels may have control of many of the streets, but don't have full control of this city just yet, guys.
>> all right. sara sidner there live in martyr square. thanks so much with the latest as we continue to follow these fast-moving developments out of libya. thank you very much. that is some of the largest celebratory gunfire i've heard. wear your helmet, of course. so we are going to -- are we taking a break right now? we're going to take a break. we'll be right back. how hard it can be to breathe and what that feels like. copd includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. spiriva helps control my copd symptoms... ...by keeping my airways open... ...a full 24 hours. plus, it reduces copd flare-ups. spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled copd maintenance treatment that does both. and it's steroid-free. spiriva does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, glaucoma, trouble urinating, or an enlarged prostate.
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vacation for president obama. we are waiting on a briefing that's going to take place. when of the deputy press secretaries is going to be talking to reporters answering questions about what is taking place in libya. the president earlier put out a written statement and talked about some of the things they are looking for and watching and clearly warning that this is a very tense time, it is a transitional time giving as much support as possible to the rebels on the ground as well as talking about unfreezing assets to those rebels, looking for more ways the united states can help in that nato effort to make sure that the rebels and the transitional government are successful. >> all right. and we have been covering, of course, over the last one hour plus, the release of the journalists from the hotel. before we go to that sound, i'd like to say thanks for having me here on "cnn usa," i'll be back
at 1:00 p.m. eastern for the international desk. but for now, listen to this. >> we have now left the compound of the hotel. all of the 36 journalists that were kept inside essentially against their will in what we all considered all along to be a hostage crisis have now been allowed to go out. it's been a very complicated, a very frightening, a very emotional roller coaster over the last five days. but i can tell you we're sitting in the vehicles of the icrc, the international committee of the red cross. we managed to negotiate the red cross to get in through the check points of the gadhafi loyalists. that's the only gadhafi loyalists check point in the city. and we've got all the journalists into these four cars, plus a civilian car, and
we're now driving out, driving through the deserted street of tripoli to, you know, to our freedom essentially. it's been an absolutely -- it's been an absolute nightmare for all of us, you know. there are journalists who have been as a result of this emotional release -- the fact that we've got out of the hotel, crying, emotions are running very high. we went to a rebel check point. the rebel check point all along was just about what? 150 meters down the road from the hotel. they hadn't approached the hotel, presumably because they didn't want a big gunfight to take place where all those international journalists had been hold up over the course of the past five days. >> and it's been a while -- matthew, and you let me know if it's not safe to talk. i mean, you've finally been able to get out of this hotel. i want to ask you, though -- i want to go straight to martha's vineyard. one of the deputy press
secretaries talking about the situation in libya. let's take a listen. >> on overnight developments in the international markets. brian also talked to the president the cbo report that was released today that included projections. and brian also updated the president on the ongoing policy process underway back at the white house in preparation for the major economic address the president will deliver shortly after labor day. a couple of you over the course of the week have asked for a photo of brian briefing the president. and that's been put up on the white house site. you should take a look. in addition, the president conducted a conference call today with general electric ceo and american express ceo. they are the chair and co-chair of the president's council on jobs and competitiveness. they discussed a number of proposals the job council has
been proposing, and the president listened to their input. a couple of things to the job council that they flagged for the president were a couple of initiatives they're reviewing. one is they're looking for ways to increase the number of engineers that graduate from american institutions of higher learning. they also spoke with the president about some different initiatives that involve putting more construction workers back to work by putting them to work retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient. they talked about a couple of ideas. there are actually a couple of job council meetings coming up on august 31st, in portland, oregon, where they're going to talk about the engineering issues. secretary chu and some deans of colleges and universities will be there. and then on september 1st, in dallas, texas, there will be a
conversation about -- >> we're going to get out of the white house briefing. top of the hour, i'm suzanne malveaux. journalists held inside a tripoli hotel for five days got out today. gadhafi loyalists had refused to let them leave. cnn's matthew chance was among some 35 journalists detained at gunpoint. he says the demeanor of gadhafi's men changed once they realized that the regime was finished. >> we've been living in fear for the past five days because we've been, you know, really being held against our will by these, you know, crazy gunmen who were in the lobby of our hotel wearing green bandannas waving gadhafi flags, wielding around their assault rifles. >> celebratory gunfire in tripoli, but sniper fire and mortar rounds are still flying at the compound even though rebels seized it 24 hours ago.
rebels who hold tripoli international airport are also taking fire. they think gadhafi's fighters are trying to clear a path for him to escape. our cnn's arwa damon is there. >> reporter: rebel commanders believe the battle is shifting the focus to the airport and its vicinity. they believe this is possibly where we could be seeing the final stance between gadhafi forces and these rebel fighters. they have been struggling to try to take control over this area even though they did manage to get their hands on a significant amount of weapons they found buried right next to the tarmac here. >> the united nations says it's going to take steps to turn over frozen libyan assets to the rebels' political leadership now. there are estimates the value of those assets vary widely into the hundreds of billions of dollars. well, rebels who ransacked gadhafi's compound found a whole lot of weapons, but not moammar gadhafi. he has not been seen. but libyans have heard from the
fugitive dictator. gadhafi called libyan radio stations and other broadcasters. called his withdrawal from his compound a tactical move. >> translator: i call to all libyans, tribesmen, youth, seniors, women, and loyal fighters to clear the city of tripoli and eliminate the criminals, traitors, and rats. in libya, gunfire, mortar rounds there in the air again today. fighting intensified in several places, including the airport, moammar gadhafi's compound, as well, in tripoli. sara sidner live from tripoli. and sara, give us a sense of what is taking place on the ground where you are. >> reporter: it's been a combination of calm and unsettling. people start celebrating again, and off goes the gunfire, and they're using heavy arms fire.
you can hear some of it going off now. the cars are going around and around what is now being called martyr square by these -- by the opposition. and what we're seeing is fewer and fewer residents. i did see somebody break down in tears. there was a mother walking along the street and all the gunfire began to just overwhelm her. she says she was afraid and one of her brothers came and picked her up and took her home. she started crying because it was too much for her. the whole ground shakes when some of these -- like that -- i'm not even sure what that is. all right. i want to give you this picture. can we -- let's turn the camera. we are seeing them break down buildings now. we are seeing them break down buildings here in martyr square. if you'll look straight back, they're blowing through that building. i have a guest with me today, his name is salam ali, you're from tripoli, are you not?
>> yes, i'm from tripoli. >> can you tell me what that building is they're blowing apart? what does that say? >> they are the government departments. now, i don't know what's happening there. but -- >> is that a government building? >> yes, this is government department. the government is gone now. >> okay. so what he's saying is that there's a government building there, and they're blowing it apart. it may be just -- he says there's nobody over there, no snipers, they're blowing it apart out of frustration and to get rid of that sign, basically, that green sign there. and so the situation here obviously one where people are trying to show the regime, again. especially after hearing from gadhafi on the phone, trying to show the regime who is really in control. and if they can blow apart buildings like that, then certainly, and there's no one there to stop them, certainly the rebels seem to have it in the city. >> explain to us the significance of that, if you would, blowing up -- blowing
through a green sign. what does that mean? >> reporter: gadhafi's color is green. he had this green book, there are green flags, the flag is just green flying, that means you support gadhafi. and so that is a government building, people frustrated with the regime have decided to turn their guns on that building. they also ended up shooting a bit of this building. this is the old city. and behind the old city, just down a little very quaint corridor is where they used to sell a lot of gadhafi prayer paraphernal paraphernalia. they want tripoli to be the capital. they want this to be the capital of the country. they said they want this to be a united country. if they start breaking apart their own infrastructure of which there is not enough in this country -- everyone complained that during the gadhafi regime that they didn't have the things they would normally need in a society like really good schools. most people can't even get mail. they don't have addresses.
but they do have some of these old, lovely buildings from the time of the italian inflation here that are left behind. if they start breaking apart their own city, there'll be a lot of cleanup to deal with. >> and sara, just if you could tell us -- what is taking place behind you? i know there seems to be cars passing by. are there some folks who are just living their life, going about their life? or is everyone now on the ground engaged in what is happening here? >> reporter: everyone's engaged in what's happening. i don't mean they're all taking part in shooting and fighting and blowing off rounds, but families are coming out to see what's going on. very few families, i might add. they're coming out to see what's going on. they're in their cars driving around the square to celebrate. this is a gentleman here. here's not holding a gun. you're a resident here. why did you come out today? why did you come out to see what was going on? even with all of this gunfire? >> first of all, i would like to say we go out because we need to
see my family and my cousin because -- tripoli, many people they leave here. they just live in tripoli. but actually, they come from benghazi -- >> they come from different places. are you worried about this gunfire? it is not safe with the gunfire going. >> actually, i'm sorry -- >> reporter: are you worried about the gunfire? all the shooting in the air. does that scare you? >> no, no, i'm not scared. but this is just a feeling about the risk, many people they're very happy. many people are very happy. but i would like -- >> reporter: okay.
so there are people that are very scared, he's saying, that the water has been contaminated by gadhafi. that was a rumor that went around other cities, as well. people afraid that suddenly the water was contaminated, that there was some sort of chemical agent in the water that could hurt people and so that is obviously another one of those rumors has resurfaced here in tripoli. we heard that same rumor in misrata and another rumor in benghazi. we do know that no one has seen gadhafi or his sons in the past 48 hours, and everyone is wondering exactly where he is. >> sara, thank you. i want to go directly to a sound we have from a white house briefing from martha's vineyard. one of the deputy press secretaries. they have talked about moammar gadhafi staying there's no evidence he's left the country. let's listen in here. >> you know, what i can tell you is the developments that we're seeing are an indication that the gadhafi's regime's 42-year
grip on power in libya is slipping. and that is, frankly, a testament to the courage of the libyan people. that over the course of the last six months that they've been able to make significant progress on that front. and that progress was no doubt aided by the efforts of nato and our partners in the region who have provided some pretty significant support on that front. >> where do you think he may be hiding? still in libya? not in libya? >> as i mentioned on monday, there's no evidence to indicate he's left. all right? >> what can you tell us about the -- >> so the white house making it clear they believe that moammar gadhafi is still in libya. the big question of whether or not he has any power he can hold on to as the developments there, urban warfare, the compound
taken over, and still no known whereabouts about that country's leader. i want to take a look at what's ahead on "the rundown," a rare earthquake strikes in virginia. there is a lot of cleaning up to do. and two national landmarks closed now as inspectors consider how to repair earthquake damage in d.c. and then libyans' oil. what happens to the country's biggest asset? and where is moammar gadhafi? we'll take a look at the potential hiding places. and finally, hurricane irene, potential, destructive, getting stronger. much of the united states east coast is now on alert. [ male announcer ] they'll see you...before you see them. cops are cracking down on drinking and riding. drive sober, or get pulled over.
forecasters upgraded irene to a dangerous category 3 hurricane today. now, winds are hitting 115 miles an hour as irene rips through the southern bahamas right now. irene could hit the u.s. east coast this weekend. people have been told to leave north carolina. even if it doesn't make landfall, power outages, wind
damage are all likely. that's what the bahamas are likely to see today. the islands are expected to feel irene's full fury over the coming hours. chad myers tracking irene. >> travel to the bahamas right now would probably not be advised. probably nothing you can do about it. there's some cruise ships and vacations and weddings and all that, but i'm telling you, there's 115-mile-per-hour storm rolling into the caicos and bahamas, it's going to be a category 4 as it moves through north of the bahamas, and then it will make a run at north carolina. and that's the thing right now. there's that 50/50 shot of this thing hitting the u.s. east coast from north carolina back to south carolina. and why do i say 50/50? because half of the cone is in the ocean and the other half is on land. so if you take that and you split the difference, it could possibly go left, it could possibly go right. right through the center is a brushing blow at cape hatteras at 115 to 135-mile-per-hour
storm. but then the problem is not so much that. it doesn't lose intensity because it doesn't stay on land very long if it even hits that, just an island. and then runs over the possibility of eastern long island, of massachusetts, or cape cod. now, this thing has been turning right for days. it has been right above all the forecasts. on this side of the cone rather than this side of the cone. so if that continues, there's a real potential this thing doesn't hit the u.s. whatsoever. but i'm telling you, that's just the eye. don't pay attention to the eye. let me show you what the forecast is for precipitation in the northeast for the next five days. that little green spot right there over long island, that's 12 inches of rain. 12 inches of rain in new york city, long island into connecticut, massachusetts, that's going to cause flooding one way or the other, and huge waves with an awful lot of rip tide activity across the east coast. >> that's a big mess on the east coast. and chad, what's interesting too, there was a rare earthquake that struck in virginia. we're going to talk to a seismologist about what happened
they're used to getting shook up in california, but not on the east coast. >> i'm the general manager from gm tire lot. i thought we'd take this opportunity to show you our new customer waiting room -- >> today, people are inspecting the damage from an earthquake felt from georgia to new england. this video was shot when a tv commercial was being taped. and a quake was centered about 80 miles southwest of washington, d.c. but it was felt more than a dozen states. the epicenter was the tiny town
of mineral, virginia. there was some damage there in the nation's capital, as well. and our cnn's brian todd has that report. >> there may be an aftershock, but you're allowed to go back in the building at this time. >> reporter: to millions of people on the east coast, this was the big one. >> can you believe you witnessed an earthquake in washington, d.c.? >> reporter: it's the strongest quake to hit the virginia area since 1897. a 5.8, rattling nerves in the nation's capital. >> i never felt something like that before in washington. >> i was on the bus and the bus did a shimmy. >> reporter: the quake was centered near mineral, virginia, about 40 miles from richmond and 83 miles from d.c. the quake could be felt all the way in martha's vineyard where the president is on vacation. shaking was felt in more than a dozen states in all, even into canada. nbc's cameras focused on the white house, caught the shaking as it happened. some of the masonry of the
national cathedral fell off. and engineers found a crack near the top of the washington monument. it will be closed indefinitely to keep visitors safe. many government buildings including the pentagon were evacuated, but no major damage was reported. further north in new york city, people ran from skyscrapers, down flights of stairs as they sway. >> the building shook back and forth. >> reporter: near the epicenter of the quake, the north ana nuclear power station. the earthquake triggering an automatic shutdown there. diesel generators kicked in to keep the reactors cool. >> what do you want to say to the public as far as right now? >> the plant is safe, both units are shut down, maintaining a safe shutdown condition. there was no release of radioactivity. >> reporter: overnight tuesday into wednesday, power from the main grid was restored to the
plant. that power powers the cooling system. brian todd, cnn, mineral, virginia. national landmarks being inspected today for earthquake damage. and chad myers who is joining us again. what do we know? we know there are some cracks in the washington monument and the national cathedral is extensively damaged, as well. >> a lot of things are closed in d.c. today because of the inspections going on and because of the damage that actually occurred. so yeah, 5.8, probably not a big deal. or so much of a big deal in california. but the buildings that were doing the shaking yesterday not made to withstand that. they're not insulated or isolated from the ground. first thing we take you to is the capitol. people are allowed to go back in, get their stuff, and get out. the smithsonian institution that is closed for the day, interior cracks in that building. the entire smithsonian, all the museums are closed today for inspection, but not because
there's anything that's been seen so far. that's all literally for just precaution. and the top spires, three of the four top washington national cathedral falling off, 5 to 8 feet tall, just the shaking literally took it out. the washington monument area is open other than the 100 feet around that radius because there are cracks in some of the rocks. i've been told stones and before that, i was told only the masonry, only the grout between the stones. we'll have to see as they take a look at it. lincoln memorial, jefferson memorial were closed for a while, they're back reopened now. and of course, what's going on this weekend back in d.c., right here, the martin luther king memorial. they say everything is okay, everything is good, and all of the celebrations will still take place, suzanne. >> i know they're also waiting to see what hurricane irene does. whether or not that's going to be flooded out in the east coast, as well. that'll be interesting to see what happens this weekend. >> certainly. >> i want to talk a little bit about the earthquake with an
expert, glenn ricks, a professor at georgia tech. thank you so much. you think about it, it was kind of amazing, right? when it happened yesterday, it was hard to believe. because you had people. it was new york, here in atlanta, up the east coast. why was it so widespread? how did that happen? >> it has to do with the difference in the bedrock between the eastern united states and the western united states. in the eastern united states, the bedrock is a lot harder. earthquake waves travel much further and therefore people feel them over a farther distance. >> the washington monument with the cracks and the cathedral, do we worry there might be serious structural damage to some of these monuments and buildings? >> i think there is cause for concern. that's the type of building that is most prone to damage in an earthquake are these older, masonry and brick structures that are very brittle. the earthquake shaking really affects them quite severely, and we see the kind of damage that has resulted. >> we've got chad here to ask some questions. >> people have asked me about
this aftershock fore shock thing. and i've described the f foreshock, it's usually an hour or so. we are just going to feel aftershocks now, correct? >> i think so, yeah. likely weeks and even months. many of them will be so small, many won't notice them. >> and they are shorter in duration. this was almost a minute for some people. an aftershock is seconds? >> yes, the smaller the earthquake magnitude, generally the shorter the earthquake is, as well. >> a little bit of shaking can do damage because there's already some cracks in the foundation, cracks in places. if it starts to shake, it's time to get under the table, do whatever. >> that's true, yes. >> what about people's homes here? should they be checking things like if pipes are cracked or wood split on a deck or something? things that might cause problems later on down the road? >> yes, they should look for those things. what you have to be aware of, though, those things may, in
fact, have existed for many years. and after the earthquake, your awareness is heightened and you go looking for those things. you need to be careful that those may have existed before, but it's prudent to go check and make sure it's safe. >> if you smell gas anywhere, you need to call the gas company. the infrastructure, things could happen that we don't know, and things could happen in the next couple of days that you can't smell yet. but if you smell gas, you need to make sure you know that's a possibility. get out of the house and get to the gas company. >> thank you so much, glenn. we're going to go back to matth matth matthew chance who was actually released. we're going to be able to talk to matthew chance after this quick break. then they gave us an iihs top safety pick and you... well, you gave us your approval. so we thought, why not give a little back. the chevy model year wrap up. get in on our greatest model year yet.
i want to go live now to a picture that we have all been waiting to see. that is our cnn's matthew chance live in martyr square. and matthew, it is so great to see you right now. we've been talking to you throughout the last couple of hours now in front of the cameras and just describe for us -- i know -- you've got a big crowd behind you. what's going on? >> yeah, they're celebrating their freedom. they're not celebrating my freedom, they're celebrating libya's freedom, obviously. but i've been given loads of flowers. i don't think they realize we've gone through this ordeal of
being held captive in the hotel and it's only now we've come out to speak to you on this because we've been essentially set free. it's amazing. the whole country, the whole city is celebrating its freedom. and you know, i feel sort of a connection with them. i feel a connection with them because i'm celebrating mine, as well. >> matthew, you look great. you know, give us a sense of where you are, how you got there. have you had a chance to talk to your family? >> reporter: yeah, no. i haven't yet. i haven't had a chance. my foreign desk -- my foreign desk in atlanta has spoken to my family. they're aware i'm okay, they'll be watching this, obviously. it's been such an amazing roller coaster experience for this country, really. it's been incredible. one of the things -- guys, guys, please, one second. one of the things that were so
amazing about what happened today was that the guys that were holding us hostage essentially, they didn't know that any of this had taken place outside the perimeter of the hotel. they thought that the country was still in the control of colonel gadhafi. they didn't realize that outside the hotel doors the whole world for these people has changed. and when they finally realized that, when they finally realized that there was no reason for them to stay there and carry out these bizarre orders to sort of keep the journalists in the hotel and not let them out. when they accepted that, they literally cast away their weapons and said they were sorry to us and said you're now free to go. and we just organized these vehicles, these cars, and they took us out. it was the international committee of the red cross. they took us out to a safe location somewhere else. and it's just been amazing coming out to tripoli because all these people are so happy. they don't know about our situation obviously.
they've just focused on the fact that their country, their entire country from their point of view is now free. >> matthew, do you believe those guards, you know, you said they seemed happy, they didn't have any idea that gadhafi's regime was in the state it was. in many ways, it had folded outside of the hotel. are these the kind of folks that are going to take off their uniforms and meld back into the crowd? how do we know they're really happy about what's taken place? >> it's a good question. it's a good question. and i think the answer is something like -- hold on a second. guys, guys, please. let me answer the question, please. guys. i think the answer is -- i came down here a couple of weeks ago to green square. and nobody wanted to talk to me. nobody wanted to have the camera pointed at them. nobody wanted to speak to a foreign journalist because they said that, you know, you're all liars, you're all nato spies.
look what you're doing to our country. but look at them now. these are the same people. these are local people. these aren't people that have come in from another place. these are the same people that we saw in green square, more or less, a couple of weeks ago. but look the mood's changed. it's entirely different. and i think once people in this country having experienced 42 years of colonel gadhafi, that autocratic, you know, dictator, it's going to take them a long time before they expect -- it took them a long time to expect -- maybe not a long time, but it was sort of a big step to expect that that figure is no longer calling the shots in this country. and this is the reaction amongst these people, the reaction of our guards were to throw away their weapons. >> matthew, we are so happy to see you there that you are well, that you have a smile on your face, that you have flowers in your hand, that clearly the crowd is also happy to see you. we're going to let you go. but, again, excellent reporting.
we are so glad that you are there, that you're brave, you're courageous, and you do such a good job at what you do, and your family is aware that you're also just fine. thank you, matthew. moammar gadhafi says he's going to fight to death to stay in power, but while his regime is crumbling around him, he's still hiding. a far cry from the dynamic leader who first appeared on the world stage more than four decades ago. >> reporter: in 1969, a handsome 27-year-old army officer named moammar gadhafi vowed to change the world. he immediately took control over nearly everything, business, media, military, everything. he expelled tortured and assassinated libyan opposition. by 1980, the u.s. had severed all diplomatic ties. >> gadhafi is an irresponsible animal who has no scruples, no
morals. >> in the early '80s, tension between the u.s. and libya intensified. >> we know that this mad dog of the middle east has a goal of a world revolution muslim fundamentalist revolution. >> reporter: after skirmishes, gadhafi turned into public enemy number one. bombings in rome, vienna, and then a disco in west berlin all linked to libya. the u.s. retaliates. >> at 7:00 this evening, eastern time, air and naval forces of the united states launched a series of strikes against the headquarters terrorist facilities and military assets that support moammar gadhafi's subversive activities. >> reporter: that attack left hundreds of libyans dead, including gadhafi's daughter. some believe he responded with the bomb aboard panam flight 103 over lockerbie, scotland killing
225 people. after years of refusing, in 1999, gadhafi final relented handing over the lockerbie suspects. and gadhafi went even further. he took responsibility for the bombing and agreed to compensate the victims' families. the u.n. lifted sanctions, and that same year, gadhafi abandoned his efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. >> colonel gadhafi correctly judged that his country would be better off and far more secure without weapons of mass murder. >> reporter: the u.s. eased travel restrictions and western oil companies returned. the u.s.'s close ally great britain returned. >> -- the world is changing. >> reporter: in september 2008, u.s. secretary of state condoleezza rice met with
gadhafi in libya. the first such meeting between libya and a high u.s.-ranking official in more than half a century. >> i think he was serious. he said at one point it had taken too long. that the lessons of history had to be learned. >> reporter: but the very next year with great britain's cooperation, scotland released one of the lockerbie bombers on humanitarian grounds which sparked outrage. he allowed the bomber who was said to be terminally ill to go to libya to die. but he is still alive today. his release has raised questions about if there was something else playing behind the deal, further complicating the relationship between libya and the west. now things have taken another turn as the arab spring engulfs the middle east. gadhafi slaughters his own people to stay in power. nato and the u.s. respond with air strikes. now the conflict could bring the end of gadhafi's 42-year-old regime.
now gadhafi's regime is up against the wall. but if his forces are run out of libya, what happens to the weapons? the stockpiles of guns, missiles, chemical weapons, even. mike rogers joins us now to try to make sense of a lot of this. and congressman, you and i know we've been watching some very volatile regions. you've got dangerous stockpiles of weapons. what specific threat does this instability in libya pose now for our security? >> reporter: sure. well, it's very real. these weapon systems are dangerous, he has literally thousands of anti-aircraft weapons. he has about 25,000 pounds of mustard gas. there was a group there that was incinerating it. and they ended up leaving because of the turmoil. we hope they can get back and finish that job. but right now, those are in the hands of the gadhafi regime.
so you have all of this going on at the same time, and my biggest fear is that once gadhafi falls, you're going to have all of the adjustments that will happen when you have a revolution like this. you'll have ethnic interests and political interests. those weapon systems, that's the exact time that al qaeda and others -- and we know they're interested in these weapon systems are very eager to get their hands on them. and that's what concerns me most, and why it's in our national security interests to make sure that doesn't happen. >> sure. and you talked about that concern about al qaeda that perhaps they could take real advantage of a chaotic situation. our fareed zakaria has a different take on this. i want you to listen to what he says about the threat of al qaeda. >> i don't see anything in the libyan case that suggests we should worry that there's going to be some sort of takeover by al qaeda. they seem very few, very far between, we haven't heard much from them. and i think it says more about the kind of demons we worry about than anything -- listen to
the reporters on the ground. cnn has such good ones. none of them are detecting any great al qaeda presence there. >> congressman, what do you make of that? he doesn't really believe that al qaeda is necessarily a threat. >> well, when i say al qaeda in libya, i don't mean to take over the government. they want those weapon systems to go off and leave libya with those weapon systems. they're trying to get those weapon systems out of libya for obviously nefarious purposes. >> how do we know that? sure, sure, you're in charge of intelligence. >> that's right. >> we have very good intelligence that they're very interested. and they understand that where there's chaos there's opportunity. and they're not the only group. there's other groups that concern us that we know have communicated that they've been very interested in trying to get their hands on some of this equipment. there's also open source reporting by other countries in northern africa that have said, hey, some of these weapon systems we think are moving and are coming here and that worries
them. so some notion that this is pie in the sky is not reality. it's happening. in about two weeks, i argue, after the actual fall of gadhafi when he is brought to justice in some way, that's when all the pressure -- and remember, the economy there's going to be pretty awful for some time. and it is very tempting. these are very tempting things to try to sell for cash or other things and that's what concerns me. >> sure. real quick, as well. there's been a lot of talk about the capability nuclear weapons, the capability of the regime. do we know if he has a delivery system to actually use that mustard gamu mustard gas? is he at that point? >> we took the nuclear components of his program. we have them. and we brought those to the united states in about 2004 right after the invasion of iraq, he picked up the phone and said i don't want to be next. and had a more sophisticated program than we realized.
we're not sure what status that's in. but he did dismantle a lot of the delivery systems for the mustard gas. we don't know if any's left, number one, and number two, the real danger is not only the use in a delivery system, but as a terrorist weapon can be as you might imagine devastating. >> all right. congressman rogers, thank you so much. really appreciate your perspective. days of fighting inside tripoli, but you know, the big question, of course, where is moammar gadhafi? could he be hiding underneath the city? we're going to explore the tunnels of tripoli. or creates another laptop bag or hires another employee, it's not just good for business -- it's good for the entire community. at bank of america, we know the impact that local businesses have on communities, so we're helping them with advice from local business experts and extending $18 billion in credit last year. that's how we're helping set opportunity in motion.
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hotel. it was so uncertain. our own matthew chance was there. and he told us the story about those journalists who were there. they were gadhafi loyalists armed men who had basically -- holding them, telling them they could not leave. i believe that's our own matthew chance on the phone there. yeah, it is. he's describing what had taken place. he might have even been on air there. describing to us the ordeal. but just look at the smile on his face. it says it all, really. we're so pleased they're all safe, they're well, and still a very serious and dangerous story to tell. the rebels, they are actually tightening their grip on tripoli. but so far, there is no sign of libya's long-time leader moammar gadhafi. some people believe that he could even be hiding under ground. others say he could be right under our noses, hiding out right in that same hotel where dozens of foreign reporters were held for days by gadhafi
loyalists. it's still speculation. but chad's here to walk us through some of these potential hideouts. chad, it is fascinating when you take a look at the ground and what's beneath the ground, yeah? >> well, we know there are tunnels. we know there are some tunnels, we don't know how many, we know there are tunnels because western companies built some of them. we know there are big tunnels, tunnels big enough to move trucks underground. so literally, there could be an underground city between where our matthew chance was, the hotel, and where moammar gadhafi's compound really was. there's libya, go right into downtown tripoli, and we'll go into the compound. our sara sidner was right there. it was the most dramatic pictures on cnn since the first gulf war, and she was right here. and now the people are in, the rebels are in the compound here. let me take you a 1/2 mile away from where moammar gadhafi was taped in one of the hotel rooms in the speeches he made months
ago. how did he get in there? here's the hotel. this hotel was the premiere hotel. let me tell you, this years ago, you wanted a porsche, a helicopter, the people at the hotel could get it for you. the journalists have been wound up and held up. we doe know on the backside of the hotel, there are loading docks, the loading docks have trucks that can go underground. simply, we've seen it, the people there at the hotel says it's there. but no one can tell you because at some point in time where the people have gone in, they have found big, metal doors without handles and no way to get any farther. we'll figure it out. >> big mystery. all right, chad, thank you very much. appreciate that. transit police in san francisco may have been able to stop cell phones from working as a security measure. but it hasn't stopped the protest. >> we think that censorship affects everyone that really is
san francisco's transit agency is holding a public meeting today on whether or not there should be a policy on cutting wireless access to stations during protest. b.a.r.t. did that earlier this month to thwart a planned protest. several people were arrested at that protest. our cnn silicon valley correspondent dan simon is joining us live. tell us what's going on. what is the purpose of this meeting with b.a.r.t.? >> well, this is a meeting that
b.a.r.t. called bay area rapid transit. they called this meeting to address some of the criticism head on. and this is an issue that just won't die down. there's been one protest after another. dozens of people arrested, websites hacked. and it all had to do when b.a.r.t. shut down the cell phone communication to thwart a protest. what did that do? it caused more protests and caused anonymous to get involved, hacked websites, organized all of these different demonstrations. and it's not often you get a chance to talk to somebody who is in anonymous. and i had a chance to talk to an organizer and asked him why anonymous has been so relentless in going after b.a.r.t. >> what was the point they were trying to make by publishing some of that personal information? >> sure. the attitude on the part of anonymous is that if you silence us, we will silence you. and if you spy on us, we will spy on you.
and that's i think what motivated those people. >> and that guy you just heard from, he wanted to make it clear that he himself has done nothing illegal, that he's not a hacker, but he is affiliated with this group. and what anonymous wants is a formal apology from b.a.r.t. and for b.a.r.t. to say they'll never shut down cell phone communication. again, we'll just have to see what happens. but b.a.r.t. has been facing a serious image problem. there have been a couple of high-profile shootings involving the police officers. we'll see what happens here. but short of that apology, anonymous says they're going to keep up the heat. suzanne? >> really quickly, has anyone heard a response from b.a.r.t.? >> not yet. and we should point out that they do face, you know, some additional trouble here. the fcc is investigating their decision to turn off the cell phones and so we'll see what happens with that. and again, anonymous planning even more protests.
and we'll see what comes out of this meeting today, but you probably won't see b.a.r.t. change their policy just yet. they've been pretty firm in their approach. >> dan simon, thank you. well, dodging bullets in libya. >> we're running out of the compound now. we see gunfire coming from outside the compound, and it's getting -- it's getting too close. so -- >> cnn's sara sidner in the middle of the chaos. we're going to talk about the dangers facing reporters in the war zone. at'd you use? every project we finish comes with a story built-in. it's how our rough ideas become "you did that yourself?" so when we can save more on the projects that let us fix, make, and do more... that just makes the stories even better. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. add some style to your sink, with this moen banbury faucet for the new lower price of $79.
in libya where they were held for five days. matthew described it as a nightmare for some. one of the dangers of reporting from the war zone. cnn's sara sidner has been in the middle of all of this dodging the danger. >> yeah, it's getting a little bit too loud for anyone to hear me and a little bit too much stuff, but we're trying to get away from the -- just got hit a little bit from one the shells. we don't want to -- >> sara, we can hear you just fine. but maybe you should take some cover here. >> yeah. yeah. we're okay. please don't shoot, sir. we are in between two walls, so we're fine. >> at one point, sara and her crew did have to move to another location when that gunfire got too close. an earthquake causing damage in parts of the east coast. the late night comedians think they know what caused the tremor. onl50+ advantageomen's
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with advice from local business experts and extending $18 billion in credit last year. that's how we're helping set opportunity in motion. [ martin luther king jr. ] i still have a dream that one day on the red hills of georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. i have a dream today! [ male announcer ] chevrolet is honored to celebrate the unveiling of the washington, d.c., martin luther king jr. memorial. take your seat at the table on august 28th.