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Rumsfeld: In the end, Saddam 'not terribly brave'
( 2003-12-15 11:46) (cnn.com)

For a man who killed tens of thousands of people and tortured his enemies, Saddam Hussein was taken into custody in a surprisingly peaceful manner, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday night on CBS' "60 Minutes."

The words of L. Paul Bremer, "We got him," are illuminated on the control tower at Basra's airport on Sunday.  [AP]
Eight months after Baghdad fell, U.S. soldiers found the disheveled former leader of Iraq six feet under, hiding in a hole in the ground. Saddam was captured Saturday night about nine miles from his hometown of Tikrit and on the other side of the Tigris River from one of his lavish palaces.

Saddam had a pistol but was taken into custody without firing it.

"Here was a man who was photographed hundreds of times shooting off rifles and showing how tough he was, and in fact, he wasn't very tough, he was cowering in a hole in the ground, and had a pistol and didn't use it and certainly did not put up any fight at all," Rumsfeld said.

"In the last analysis, he seemed not terribly brave," he said.

About 600 soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and special operations forces of Task Force 121 conducted the raid in Ad Dawr, near a group of ramshackle buildings. They found Saddam hiding in a 6-to-8 foot deep hole, equipped with a basic ventilation system and covered with bricks and dirt.

"No way he could fight back," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, which helped carry out the raid. "He was caught like a rat."

U.S. forces found weapons and about $750,000 in U.S. $100 bills with the former dictator, said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who leads coalition troops in Iraq. Troops also found two AK-47s, a pistol and a white and orange taxi.

Saddam's capture likely has cut off one source of funding for insurgent attacks against coalition forces, Rumsfeld said.

"He was found with a sizable amount of money," he said. "And one of the things that the Saddam Hussein family and his clique of intimates were doing is they were providing money to people to go out and engage in acts against the coalition and the Iraqi people, so that's ended."

The deposed Iraqi leader has been moved out of Iraq, The Associated Press reported Sunday night.

Rumsfeld said the United States has not yet decided whether to classify Saddam as a prisoner of war. But Rumsfeld said the United States would abide by the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of him.

More than 24 hours after his capture, the interrogation of the uncooperative Saddam has not yielded much information, Rumsfeld said.

"I think it's a bit early to try to characterize his demeanor beyond that," he said.

Not for members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, who visited Saddam Sunday and found him "tired and haggard, unrepentant, even defiant."

Four members of the council who were taken to see Saddam after his capture by U.S. troops said Saddam insisted he was "a just but firm ruler."

Asked about thousands killed and dumped in mass graves, Saddam dismissed his victims as "thieves," said one council member.

"He was not apologetic. He was sarcastic and making a mockery of Iraqi people," said one member of the council.

Sanchez said the deposed leader was uninjured, and "talkative and cooperative," after his capture in the raid dubbed Operation Red Dawn.

In Washington, U.S. officials said Saddam admitted his identity and that other detainees identified him. U.S. officials said DNA tests are not yet complete. Saddam's beard was shaved and his hair trimmed for identification purposes, military officials said.

U.S. officials: Old-fashioned, low-tech work leads to Saddam

The piecemeal, low-tech work of arresting and interrogating Saddam Hussein's former bodyguards and relatives of people close to Saddam provided most of the information that led U.S. forces to Saddam, U.S. officials said Sunday.

Saddam's capture was based not on a direct tip, but a collection of intelligence gathered from the hostile questioning of Saddam's former bodyguards and family members, U.S. officials said.

"Over the last 10 days or so we brought in about five to 10 members who then were able to give us more information and finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals," Odierno said Sunday.

No one is likely to receive the $25 million offered for Saddam's capture, since most of the information that led to his capture was given up under hostile questioning, U.S. officials said.

Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, said Sunday a group led by Kosrat Rassoul of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan helped U.S. forces find Saddam's hiding place.

Exclusive CNN video shot following the raid, showed a group of U.S.-led coalition soldiers patting each other on the back -- apparently in celebration -- and taking group photos in front of a military vehicle.

Bush: Saddam will 'face the justice he denied to millions'

President Bush, in a short televised address from the White House, said Saddam will "face the justice he denied to millions. For the Baathist holdouts responsible for the violence, there will be no return to the corrupt power and privilege they once held.

"This afternoon I have a message for the Iraqi people: This is further assurance that the torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever. You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again."

At a news conference earlier in Baghdad, coalition civilian administration L. Paul Bremer brought Iraqi journalists to their feet with shouts of joy when he said, simply, "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him."

In Baghdad, Iraqis took to the streets dancing, doling out candy and firing rifles into the air. But in Tikrit, a base of Saddam loyalists, the streets were quiet.

Later, when Sanchez showed video of the bearded, bewildered-looking fugitive undergoing a medical exam after his capture, the Iraqi journalists again leapt from their seats shouting "Death to Saddam."

Coincidentally, senior CIA officials are scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, officials said. The session was scheduled before Saddam's capture.

If the meeting takes place as scheduled, officials said it will have "quite a different tone." They said that if Saddam is willing, he could be the best possible source on the location of any concealed weapons in Iraq.

Iraqis celebrate news

As word of Saddam's capture spread, crowds of Iraqis began celebrating in the streets, dancing, firing guns into the air and honking car horns.

A few hours after the announcement, a loud explosion jolted the Iraqi evening near the Palestine Hotel, where many international journalists are based.

An Iraqi man holds an AK-47 in downtown Baghdad on Sunday while celebrating news of the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Thick smoke and fire billowed from the site, but authorities quickly realized it was caused by stray bullet that hit gasoline canisters on the truck. No one was injured.

"I'm very happy for the Iraqi people. Life is going to be safer now," 35-year-old Yehya Hassan, a resident of Baghdad, told The Associated Press. "Now we can start a new beginning."

And in Kirkuk, Mustapha Sheriff told The Associated Press, "We are celebrating like it's a wedding. We are finally rid of that criminal."

The 66-year-old longtime Iraqi leader was No. 1 on the coalition's 55 most-wanted list, and his evasion has been a political sore spot for the U.S. administration.

More details, reaction

Adnan Pachachi, a leading member of the Iraqi Governing Council, said Saddam would be tried for his crimes against Iraqis, and would be tried by Iraqis. "There will be a public hearing," Pachachi said, "a trial that is open."  

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of President Bush's strongest allies in the Iraq war, called the capture good news for Iraqis, saying: "It removes the shadow that has been hanging over them for too long of the nightmare of a return to the Saddam regime."

Saddam Hussein has long hair and a beard in video released by coalition authorities after his capture.

Saddam's capture was also praised by officials from France, Russia and Germany, who bitterly opposed the war. A statement from French President Jacques Chirac said, "The president is delighted with Saddam Hussein's arrest."

Hours after the capture -- but before it was announced -- a car bomb exploded outside an Iraqi police station in Khaldiyah, killing at least 10 Iraqis and wounding 20 others, most of them policemen, U.S. officials said. Iraqi officials reported a higher casualty toll. 

An ordnance disposal specialist with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division was wounded and later died Sunday, when an improvised explosive device exploded while he tried to disarm it. Since the war began in March, 313 U.S. troops have been killed in combat.

(Courtesy to cnn.com)

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