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Saddam said useful in U.S. interrogation
( 2004-02-01 15:19) (Agencies)

American officials have received useful information from direct interrogation of Saddam Hussein, a senior military official said Sunday.

The official would not say what the information was, but he said it allowed interrogators to confirm some suspicions and reject other information.

Speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, the official said both documents and the results of questioning of Saddam have allowed the military to hunt for some people involved in attacks on U.S. troops.

He said military officials believe there are 14 cells of Saddam sympathizers in the Baghdad area and that many of them had already lost their leaders in U.S. raids.

The official commented shortly after Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz flew to Iraq to visit troops that he says were justified in ousting Saddam because the former leader violated U.S. resolutions ordering him to disarm.

The Pentagon's second-in-command arrived in Baghdad from a troop visit in Germany where he said flawed intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction should be investigated, but that the inability of inspectors to find such weapons did not mean the war was unnecessary.

"It's exciting to be back," he said after landing near Baghdad, referring to a visit three months ago in which a hotel where he was staying was attacked.

The Wolfowitz visit to Iraq was not disclosed in advance of his arrival for security reasons.

He complimented both military and civilian men and women working to stabilize the country. "They're making the world safer for our children," Wolfowitz said.

He said he looks forward to meeting with commanders and troops in the field and is particularly interested in assessing how a massive rotation of military forces is going.

David Kay, the former chief inspector in Iraq, said last week he believes deposed Iraqi President Saddam probably did not have the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that President Bush claimed as justification for the invasion in March.

"You have to make decisions based on the intelligence you have, not on the intelligence you can discover later," Wolfowitz said, while visiting the headquarters of the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Germany.

The division is preparing to ship out beginning next week for Iraq, where it will replace the 4th Infantry Division in the dangerous north-central part of the country.

Wolfowitz said he retains confidence in American intelligence agencies, despite their apparent mistakes about Iraq's weapons programs. "You need to look into when you got it right, and when you got it wrong," Wolfowitz said. "It's important to understand we could not possibly do what we need to do in the world without intelligence."

Wolfowitz said deposing Saddam was important to bring freedom to the Middle East.

"We have an absolutely important job to do to help the Iraqi people build a free and democratic Iraq," Wolfowitz said. "It's going to be a very important turning point in the war on terrorism. The Middle East has been heading down the wrong road for some years now."

Earlier Saturday, Wolfowitz met with troops and their families.

Soldiers' spouses complained that American troops need time to rest between their frequent missions.

Bonnie McCarty said her husband is preparing for a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq. "When he comes back, does this mean in another year he's going to go back again because the size of the Army isn't big enough?" McCarty asked Wolfowitz. "We don't want to keep going through this."

Wolfowitz said the Army is considering an increase in the number of combat units to ease the strain.

He said he and other Pentagon officials know that the last several years have been difficult for soldiers and their families and are trying to ease the strain. Wolfowitz said Pentagon officials are not sure, however, that permanently enlarging the Army is the answer.

"There's a big uncertainty about what we're going to need in the future, " Wolfowitz said.

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