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MSNBC Special - Target Iraq

Location: Unknown

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "HARDBALL": Thanks, Lester, let's go to Saxby Chambliss, to the senator from Georgia. By the way, the state which has so many of the military bases from which the men who are fighting over there have been sent. Mr. Chambliss, senator, let me ask you about this Saddam Hussein. What is the buzz on Capitol Hill about his continued life or death?

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS ®, GEORGIA: Well, we're not really sure, because getting intelligence information about his condition has been extremely difficult. But I think it's pretty safe to say, Chris, that the worst that he is severely injured. That at best, he may be, have reached his demise by now. But in any event, we do know that it was a very successful strike on Wednesday afternoon. We undoubtedly took out a number of the top Iraqi military leaders and that's why, as Andrea just said, that the Iraqi military is in a state of disarray today.

MATTHEWS: Well, you've got oversight as a member of the Armed Services Committee over these weapons we are using now, the M1A1 tank, the Abrams, and of course, this incredible performance by the Tomahawks. Are you impressed more so by watching them in action than you were when watching them as part of the oversight role you've got?

CHAMBLISS: Well, I knew that 12 years ago, we put on quite a show over there with the unveiling of our precision guided missiles. But 12 years ago, a very small percentage of our platforms were capable of delivering precision guided missiles. Today, virtually, 100 percent of our platforms deliver those types of missiles. And I knew that it would be a very powerful display, but I will have to tell you, Chris, it—I was significantly impressed at the ability of the United States to be very, very precise and overwhelming in the power that we delivered to Baghdad tonight.

MATTHEWS: Let's talk about the resistance on the other side. Are you amazed or are you somewhat tremulous about trying to estimate why the resistance is so weak so far to our forces?

CHAMBLISS: Well, we knew the morale of the Iraqi army was very low. We knew they knew they were working for a very, very much a tyrant, a very oppressive leader. He ruled by intimidation. And he has a very strong contingency of loyal imperial guard that do work for him. And they are all basically within Baghdad for the most part. So I'm not totally surprised that they've capitulated like they have. But I will tell you, that it's not over. And when we get into Baghdad, that it's going to get a little bit more—little more of a firefight for our folks, I'm afraid.

MATTHEWS: OK: What are the rules of engagement with regard to picking up Saddam Hussein? Are our soldiers told to kill him or to try to take him?

CHAMBLISS: Well, this is war. And war brings about casualties. We know that. We've already suffered casualties on our side. And if he gets in the way, than he is going to be a casualty.


CHAMBLISS: There is not going to be any specific intent to take him out, no, I don't think that's true. But if he's in the way, he's gone.

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. Back to Lester.

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