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President Says Saddam Capture Ushers in 'Hopeful Day' for Iraqi People

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2003 – President Bush praised the "superb skill and precision by a brave fighting force" that led to the 4th Infantry Division's Dec. 13 capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, which Bush said "marks the end of the road for him, and for all who bullied and killed in his name."

The president said in a televised address today that Saddam's capture "was crucial to the rise of a free Iraq." He said it sends the unequivocal message to Baathist holdouts blamed for current violence in Iraq that "there will be no return to the corrupt power and privilege they once held."

He assured the Iraqi people that "a dark and painful era in the history of Iraq is finally over," and that Saddam's "torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever."

"You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again," the president said. "The former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions."

The president told the Iraqi people, "The goals of our coalition are the same as your goals: sovereignty for your country, dignity for your great culture, and for every Iraqi citizen, the opportunity for a better life.

"A hopeful day has arrived," he said. "All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq."

The president called the success of the mission that resulted in Saddam's capture - Operation Red Dawn - "a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq." He credited the "the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country."

Bush said U.S. service members and their coalition allies have faced many dangers. "Their work continues, and so do the risks," he said.

"Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our armed forces, and I congratulate them."

While visibly happy about the news, Bush warned the American people that Saddam's capture does not mean the end of violence in Iraq.

"We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East," he said. "Such men are a direct threat to the American people, and they will be defeated."

Bush said the same strategy that led to Saddam's capture - "patience and resolve and focused action" - will continue to drive the coalition as it works toward its goals in Iraq.

"The war on terror is a different kind of war, waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory," Bush said. "Our security is assured by our perseverance and by our sure belief in the success of liberty. And the United States of America will not relent until this war is won."

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