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Saddam's Fate 'Up To The Iraqis,' Bush Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2003 – The United States will assist Iraqis in developing a process to bring captured former dictator Saddam Hussein to justice for his crimes, President Bush told reporters here today.

Saddam will continue to be detained as the U.S. government works with Iraqi authorities "to develop a way to try him that will stand international scrutiny," Bush said during a press conference.

The Iraqi people, the president asserted, "need to be very much involved" with Saddam's fate, since they were the ones who were brutalized during Saddam's rule. "He murdered them, he gassed them, he tortured them," Bush pointed out.

Nonetheless, the president maintained that the deposed dictator -- who was discovered hiding in a hole and captured Dec. 13 by U.S. troops near Tikrit, Iraq -- deserves a fair trial. Saddam's ultimate fate, Bush declared, "is going to be up to the Iraqis."

Bush said he doubts any useful information - such as the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction - would be gleaned from interviews with the former Iraqi dictator.

"I don't trust Saddam Hussein," Bush declared, adding, "I don't believe he'll tell the truth."

Bush refused to put a timetable on possible withdrawals of U.S. troops from Iraq in light of Saddam's capture, noting, "we'll stay the course until the job is done."

The capture of Saddam, Bush noted, not only makes America more secure, but also represents a watershed event in Iraqi - and world -- history.

"The emergence of a peaceful Iraq," Bush pointed out, "will transform the (Middle East) region in a positive way that will make it more likely that the world is more peaceful."

The commander in chief saluted the efforts of U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world serving in support of the war against terrorism, noting that Iraq is one of the principal battlefields of that struggle.

Saddam's fall from power eight months ago and his recent capture represents a case of "good riddance," Bush asserted.

"The world is better off without you, Mr. Saddam Hussein," Bush declared. It was interesting, Bush said, that the formerly fearsome, boastful dictator was found hiding in a hole in the ground and gave himself up without a fight.

"Our brave troops, combined with good intelligence, found you," Bush said to the captured former dictator.

Saddam will be brought before justice, Bush pledged, which he said was something the former dictator didn't afford his own people.

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