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President Meets With Victims of Saddam's Regime

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2006 – President Bush today called the trial of Saddam Hussein an important milestone for Iraq.

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President Bush exchanges handshakes with Mohammed Jaber during a Jan. 18 visit at the White House with victims of Saddam Hussein. Jaber is a former Iraqi journalist who was jailed for writing a story that raised questions about how oil money was being spent. Photo by Eric Draper

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

"One of the interesting moments will come here this year when Saddam Hussein's trial is brought forth for the world to see -- to see the butcher, the person who brutalized many people or ordered the brutality of many people here at this table get his due justice under rule of law," Bush told a group of visiting Iraqi citizens who had been abused during Saddam's regime.

"It's been my honor to visit with folks who know firsthand the brutality of Saddam Hussein," Bush said. "These are folks who have suffered one way or the other, because the tyrant was a law unto himself and was willing to deny people basic human rights."

Bush said the stories he heard were compelling and replete with "sadness" and "bravery."

"In the course of our discussion, we were also able to talk about what a contrast it is between a society which was willing to jail people and torture people and beat people and kill people, to a society that is beginning to understand the fruits of democracy and freedom," he said.

In his remarks, the president stated that Iraq has been largely transformed for the better over the past year because millions of Iraqis, in the face of insurgent attacks, were brave enough to go to the polls and vote for a new government and constitution.

"It's a testimony to the courage of the Iraqi people," Bush said. "The Iraqi people are brave and courageous and smart people."

The president acknowledged there is still a lot work to be done in Iraq, but that the U.S. intends to complete what it started.

"I assured the folks here that our mission in Iraq is to stand with the Iraqi people until we achieve our goals: Iraq that can secure itself, defend itself; an Iraq that will not be a safe haven for the terrorists," Bush said.

"And of all the countries in the Middle East, I'm convinced Iraq is going to lead ... that part of the world to a more democratic future.

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