U.S. releases photos of Saddam sons' bodies

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S.-backed coalition provisional authority in Iraq has released photographs Thursday of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay, hoping to convince skeptical Iraqis that the men were killed in a raid by U.S. troops.

CNN.com is awaiting transmission of the photos from Baghdad and plans to publish them on the Web site as soon as they arrive.

The pictures, taken after the brothers died in a firefight with U.S. troops Tuesday, have been shown to reporters, off camera. The images were described as gruesome.

According to a Pentagon official who saw them, the photos are "head shots" that show the men apparently tried to alter their appearances by growing facial hair.

Many Iraqis are skeptical about the deaths of the brothers, who were feared nationwide as ruthless killers and protectors of their father's dictatorship. (Profiles: Qusay Hussein, Uday Hussein)

Former CIA Director James Woolsey said in an interview with CNN that releasing the photographs is necessary. "Normally, we would not do this," he said. "But I think it's necessary for the world to see and particularly for the Iraqis to see that these two are, in fact, dead, that this is not some ginned-up story from the United States."

"We've got to put up with a lot of lying about what has happened and what we're doing," Woolsey said. "And I think, under those circumstances, the pictures are going to be necessary."

A picture of Uday Hussein shows he had a shaved head and a bushy beard. Aside from the wound, he appeared relatively unscarred, Pentagon officials said.

Qusay's picture showed he had less of a beard and appeared badly bruised and scarred, a Pentagon official said.

Another Pentagon official said one photograph shows what could be an exit wound on the back of Uday Hussein's head, but the official dismissed as "pure speculation" reports that the wound could have been self-inflicted.

Autopsies will be performed and the bodies could be re-photographed after they have been cleaned up, a Pentagon official said.

Dental records, X-rays, and visual identifications from four senior members of Saddam's former regime who are in U.S. custody confirmed the identities of the brothers, according to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that killing Saddam's sons was not a choice made by the United States.

"The task of the commanders on the ground is to do their job, and their job has been, without any ambiguity at all, to seek out, find and capture or kill the senior leadership from Iraq," Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

"If a person is determined to fight to the death, then they may very well have that opportunity," he said. "It was not a choice that the United States or the coalition made, it was a choice that the people inside that building made."

The director of the U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, said it was clear that the brothers did not want to be taken alive.

During a visit to Washington Wednesday, Bremer was asked if U.S. troops had attempted first to capture the Hussein brothers, who presumably may have had valuable information.

Bremer, who was in Washington at the time of the raid, said: "We went to the door of the house, were refused entry and were fired upon, but with increasingly heavier weapons. And we had to respond and these people were found inside of a very heavily armored room. There was no way they were going to be taken alive." (

President Bush called the deaths of Saddam's sons a sign that the former regime is gone and "will not be coming back."