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CNN aims top gun at Hussein

CNN president Tom Johnson has flown to Iraq to try and land an interview with Saddam Hussein. He is the only top executive from this country’s news operations to go to Baghdad since the latest round of military action began.

According to CNN sources, Johnson traveled to Baghdad last Friday. It is unclear how long he will stay. A CNN spokeswoman declined comment.

CNN landed Iraq’s deputy foreign minister Tariq Aziz and devoted a half-hour to Brent Sadler’s interview yesterday morning.

This is not Johnson’s first attempt to get Hussein for an interview. Prior to the breakout of Operation Desert Storm two years ago, Johnson spent time in Baghdad negotiating with Hussein’s handlers for an interview.

Indeed, CNN staffers Bernard Shaw, Peter Arnett and John Holliman had been waiting to interview Hussein when the war started.

Other networks are also trying to land the elusive leader.

A CBS spokesman would only say that the network was actively pursuing the issue, although the web has not yet sent a top executive to Baghdad.

CBS anchorman Dan Rather also played a waiting game before Operation Desert Storm, though he did get the first U.S. network interview and got out of the country before bombs started dropping.

The broadcast webs and CNN have focused heavily on Iraq since the U.S. resumed attacks.

An NBC spokeswoman said getting an interview with Hussein has been an ongoing process. An ABC spokeswoman said the network has a request in for an interview.

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