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Saddam deserves 'ultimate penalty': Bush
December 17, 2003 09:06 IST
United States President George W Bush has said that Saddam Hussein deserves 'the ultimate penalty'. But he added the punishment for the former Iraqi ruler will be decided by 'the citizens of Iraq'.
"I think he ought to receive the ultimate penalty... for what he has done to his people..." Bush said yesterday in an interview with ABC television.
"But that will be decided not by the president of the United States, but by the citizens of Iraq in one form or another," he said. "The Iraqis," he added "are capable of conducting the trial themselves."
"He is a torturer, a murderer, and they had rape rooms, and this is a disgusting tyrant who deserves justice, the ultimate justice," Bush said, according to excerpts of the interview released by ABC television.
The deposed Iraqi ruler was arrested on Saturday by US troops.
The agency's director George Tenet will decide who will interrogate him and what information they will seek, Rumsfeld told reporters on Tuesday.
Describing Saddam's relationship with his captors as 'resigned', the defence secretary said he was accorded the 'protections' of a prisoner of war but was not formally designated as such.
Rumsfeld also defended the release of a videotape of Saddam after his capture, saying Iraqis needed to see proof that the former dictator was 'off the street, out of commission'.
"He has been handled in a professional way," Rumsfeld said. "He has not been held up to public curiosity in any demeaning way by reasonable definitions of the Geneva Convention."
According to officials, intelligence agencies are trying to get information from Saddam about the remaining principals of his regime who may be playing a more direct role in running guerrilla operations in Iraq.
Some insurgents evidently kept Saddam informed about their activities 'on the chance that someday he might be able once again to be their patron', Brigadier General Martin Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armoured Division in Iraq, has said.
Intelligence stemming from Saddam's capture has led to arrests of some of Saddam's supporters, among them a former Iraqi general, who provided money to the insurgents, a senior defence official has said.
Officials, however, said the interrogation effort itself has made little progress in gaining information as to whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or ties with the al Qaeda terror network. They described Saddam as 'compliant but unhelpful'.
But intelligence stemming from Saddam's capture has provided a clearer picture of the insurgents' operations. Some information came from Saddam's document-filled briefcase, found not far from where he was captured, said Brig Gen Mark Hertling, Assistant Commander of the 1st Armoured Division.
Additional details yielded by the capture include evidence that Saddam played a moral and financial role in the anti-US resistance, Hertling said.
"I'm sure he was giving some guidance to some key figures in this insurgency," Hertling said. "When you take down the mob boss, you don't know how much is going to come of it."
The extent of Saddam's knowledge of the insurgency is unclear. Intelligence officials say they believe he has been too worried about survival to serve as much more than an inspiration to the resistance.
Former members of Saddam's security forces are thought to comprise a significant portion of the armed resistance in Iraq.
Saddam's capture won't help US troops counter guerrillas who were never loyal to the former dictator, such as religious extremists and foreign fighters, Hertling said. Many of them have entered Iraq since the invasion.