TODD RICHISSIN: It varies, and it varies unfortunately on how big you are. This is Darwinism at its worst. There were very large men in there who were very strong who were able to get away with a lot of boxes. And then there were little kids and women out there on the outskirts who were able to get very little at all. It was disorganized chaos. It was a very tense scene. The problem in that area still is that there are pockets of guys who are willing to give up their lives to cause disruption. And even as those trucks were parked there, there were British soldiers out on the perimeter who were very nervous because they just don't know when one of those guys is going to come in with a hand grenade or a gun and start shooting, and those are the kind of tactics that have been used.
TR: The shipment that came in yesterday and the day before won't last very long at all, maybe a couple of days. The people in these areas aren't starving, but they are hungry. According to various estimates, they have anywhere from four to six weeks' worth of food. We're told that today, at Umm Qasr, which is a major port and major delivery area for aid, they'll be taking the first ship in which has about five tons of food. The food deliveries you've watched on tape were almost token, made-for-TV pictures, but they weren't the kind of pictures they wanted because chaos broke out. They did want pictures of aid going in, and I think there's hope that those pictures will be seen in the north, maybe Basra and even Baghdad, so that people will say, "Maybe we will be better off if we dump Saddam Hussein."
JAB: What about the water?
TR: They've improved that situation in Basra considerably. The population in Basra is about 1.3 [million] to 2 million people. It's a very large, very urbanized city. All the water has gone out. There's finger-pointing going on as to who did it. The Iraqis are saying the Americans did it, and the Americans say the Iraqis did it to cause a disaster. They've been without water for five or six days. The international committee for the Red Cross got in there a couple of days ago and managed to fix the pumps so that about 50 percent of the water supply is back, which is a huge improvement. When you've got that many people and you're talking about half the water supply you once had, it's still bad.
The technology hadn't been kept up here because Saddam Hussein has been squirreling away money in his palaces. So it's still a very serious situation. It's causing a real dilemma for the British troops in particular. If they go in too quickly, they risk their own lives and those of civilians. If they don't go in quickly enough, this humanitarian problem continues.