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CNN: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT January 16, 2006

Helicopter Crash Kills 2 American Soldiers in Iraq


DOBBS: Bill Schneider. Thank you.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will not vote on Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court now until the 24th of this month. The committee ended confirmation hearings for Judge Alito last week. Democrats immediately pressed for a one-week delay in the Senate vote.

The delaying tactic, however, is not expected to prevent Judge Alito's confirmation by the full Senate. It now appears all but certain.

A new threat from Iran tonight in its growing nuclear confrontation with the West. Tehran today warned that world oil prices could rise sharply if the U.N. imposes sanctions against it. That warning just the latest in a series of threats from Iran as it restarts its nuclear program.

In London today, the United States and five other countries met to discuss Iran's escalating nuclear threats in London and appropriate responses. Britain, France and Germany declared they will call for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The United States and Europe want the United Nations to consider imposing sanctions against Iran.

Two Americans were killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, the third in 10 days. The United States military now believes the insurgents may have found a new and highly effective weapon against American helicopters.

Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A video posted on an Islamist Web site claimed to show the U.S. helicopter gun ship blasted out of the sky by a shoulder-fired missile. But the U.S. military dismissed the video as likely insurgent propaganda, saying it appeared to be shot at the wrong time of day and was also inconsistent with other known facts about the crash. A Pentagon official said at least one witness thought a rocket-propelled grenade, not a missile, hit the helicopter.

The U.S. military is confirming that the two-person Apache attack helicopter went down in a swamp while patrolling an area north of Baghdad known for terrorist activity and that both pilots from the Army's Task Force Ironhorse were killed. It's the third-deadly crash in 10 days, which is about half the total number of Army helicopters lost in an average year in Iraq.

But experts say considering Army helicopters have logged nearly a million flight hours in grueling combat conditions, it's a wonder more haven't crashed or been shot down.

JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: If you think about the bad weather that they're flying in, if you think about how many shoulder- fired missiles that may be over there, you'd say overall over the last several years the record's been really quite good.

MCINTYRE: Since the war began, at least 18 U.S. military helicopters have gone down either by accident or hostile fire in Iraq. Friday, a Kiowa warrior reconnaissance helicopter was shot down near Mosul, killing the two Army pilots.

And the industry publication "Defense News" reports U.S. commanders are worried about a new anti-helicopter tactic, a new version of the improved explosive device that pops into the air and detonates when a helicopter passes overhead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Iraqis know a great deal about radio fuse proximity anti-aircraft shells. And using a proximity fuse shell against a low-flying helicopter as opposed to high-flying airplane is just the sort of adaptability that you'd be worried about. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: U.S. commanders are continually reassessing their standard operating procedures as the insurgents become more adaptive and creative. But often, the best defense, Lou, is not to have a standard operating procedure, to vary the tactics continually so that U.S. helicopters are flying at different times and in a different manner so the enemy doesn't know how they operate.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much.

Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.


Copyright 2006, Cable News Network LP, LLLP.