U.S. shows sons' bodies to media - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7-25-03

U.S. shows sons' bodies to media

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Provisional coalition authorities in Iraq allowed what the United States says are the bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein to be videotaped by the media Friday, a coalition spokeswoman said.

The move came a day after grim still photos of the corpses were released.

The videotape, showing extremely graphic details of the damage to the bodies, is being streamed by CNN.com and will be posted on the Web site shortly.

In an effort to further convince skeptical Iraqis that Saddam Hussein's sons are dead, authorities said they decided to show the bodies to broadcast and print reporters in Baghdad, the spokeswoman said.

Most newspapers in the region didn't get the still photos Thursday in time for Friday's editions.

Uday and Qusay Hussein died Tuesday, according to U.S officials, in fierce firefight with American troops who tried to capture them at a home in Mosul, in northern Iraq. The brothers were the second- and third-most wanted fugitives in Iraq, behind their father.

The coalition provisional authority, the U.S.-backed administration in Iraq, released still photographs of the blood-spattered, bearded corpses to Western news agencies Thursday evening. Senior Iraqi officials in U.S. custody have identified the remains, U.S. officials said.

The coalition spokeswoman acknowledged that releasing the photos may not have been enough to prove Saddam's sons were dead.

An image identified as that of Uday is seen with his head shaved and with black marks on his face and head. Qusay's purported image reveals wounds apparently received in the gun battle and missile attack in which the two men died. (Profiles: Qusay Hussein, Uday Hussein)

The U.S. government released the photographs on CD-ROM through the provisional authority in Baghdad because the U.S. military has traditionally been reluctant to release images of slain combatants. The Bush administration complained loudly when images of American dead were broadcast on Arab television networks during the war with Iraq.

The CD also includes X-rays said to show wounds Uday Hussein suffered in a 1996 assassination attempt. Those X-rays helped U.S. forces confirm his identity, according to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq.

Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister who now sits on the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council, said Thursday that the brothers' deaths "will hasten the end of the acts of violence that have been perpetuated recently."

"The death of Qusay and Uday has been welcomed by the Iraqi people, because they were a symbol of all the oppression imposed on the people of Iraq for decades," Pachachi said at a news conference in London.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said providing proof of the Hussein brothers' deaths could demoralize the remnants of Saddam's regime that are battling U.S. troops, encourage Iraqis to come forward with information and convince them that the regime "is not coming back."

Rumsfeld said he made the decision to release the photos, and it was "not a close call for me."

"If it can save American lives, I'm happy to have made the decision I made," Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. "That seems to me to outweigh the sensitivities -- the proper sensitivities -- that you have raised."

During a speech in Philadelphia Thursday, President Bush declared the Iraqis had reason to celebrate because "the careers of two of the regime's chief henchmen came to an end."

"Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, for maiming innocent citizens, and for the murder of countless Iraqis. And now, more than ever, the Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and is not coming back."

The director of the U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, agreed that distributing the images of the bodies of Saddam's sons had important strategic value.

"I think in the long run it will also hopefully encourage more Iraqis to come and give us information about more Baathists, and that's really what we have to have happen next," said Bremer.

Many Iraqis are skeptical about the reports of the deaths of the brothers, who were feared nationwide as ruthless killers and protectors of their father's dictatorship.

Along with releasing the photographs, the United States has also granted a request from Iraq's new governing council to see the bodies firsthand. The hope is that Iraqis will believe what they hear from their fellow Iraqis, even if they don't trust the United States.

But the most convincing evidence for Iraqis may come from the so-called New Fedayeen fighters in a taped statement delivered to the Arabic-language television network Al Arabiya in Iraq.

"To the occupiers who said the killing of Uday and Qusay would reduce attacks on the invaders, we say the deaths will increase the attacks on their soldiers," said a masked man on the videotape.

In northern Iraq Thursday, three U.S. soldiers were killed when small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades ambushed their convoy, according to the U.S. military.

Dental records and visual identifications from four senior members of Saddam's former regime who are in U.S. custody were used along with X-rays to confirm the identities of the brothers, according to Sanchez.

Bremer on Wednesday said it was clear that the brothers did not want to be taken alive, despite U.S. troop efforts to capture them.

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."

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