Rumsfeld Says Saddam Compliant, But Not Cooperative
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2003 Saddam Hussein has been compliant since he was captured Dec. 13, but so far is not cooperating, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Lesley Stahl on the CBS News program "60 Minutes" Dec. 14.
"He has not been cooperative in terms of talking, or anything like that," Rumsfeld said. "He clearly was compliant or resigned, in effect, as he was being examined and as he was being transferred from the hole to the transport that took him away, but I think it's a bit early to try and characterize his demeanor beyond that."
Saddam, who had exhorted his followers to fight to the death both before and after the war that removed him from power, seemed "not terribly brave" when confronted by American soldiers as he hid in a 6-by-8-foot hole, the defense secretary said.
"In fact, he wasn't very tough," Rumsfeld said. "He was cowering in a hole in the ground, and had a pistol, but didn't use it, and certainly didn't put up any fight at all."
The secretary said the deposed Iraqi dictator is being treated "in a humane and professional way," with the same protections provided to prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, though it's not clear yet whether he technically is a prisoner of war. He's being held at an undisclosed location "for obvious reasons," he added.
Should Saddam offer to provide information in exchange for his life being spared, it would have to be a matter of discussion for the coalition "at a very high level" with lawyers involved, Rumsfeld said. He cautioned against "snap decisions" about what might be done, but added, "In the last analysis, here's a man who has killed so many tens of thousands of people who will have to be held accountable and brought to justice in some form, in some way."
Rumsfeld was emphatic that Saddam would not be tortured. "We don't torture people," he said. "To suggest that anyone would be engaged in torture or conduct inconsistent with the Geneva Conventions, it seems to me, is not on the mark at all."
The secretary said that to his knowledge, reports that Iran was involved in Saddam's capture are untrue. "The reason he was finally captured was because some wonderful young men and women in uniform have been over there for seven or eight months, and they have been doing a wonderful job for our country and for the Iraqi people in helping to set that country on a path," he said.
"And they have developed an ability to deal with a high-value target like Saddam Hussein (and) to do it in a time-sensitive way," he continued. "And when the intelligence was gathered and analyzed (and) brought together over a period of some hours and days, they were able to then move very rapidly and very skillfully and very professionally and capture that individual."
Saddam had "very inflated views of himself and his role in the world" when he was in power, the secretary said. "And to have him go out the way he is going out with a whimper it seems to me deflates those that would have wanted to support that approach to the world.
"And it allows the people who believe in freedom and believe in liberty and want to have respect for the various religions and ethnic groups in that country and that region to be more confident about their future, and more optimistic," he said.
Rumsfeld said the facts on the ground were the determining factor in why the dictator was captured alive, rather than killed. "Our policy is that we try to capture, and not kill," he said. "And if we're not able to capture and we can kill, we do it."
The secretary said that although the man soldiers found hiding in the hole near Tikrit looked like Saddam Hussein and had a bullet hole in his leg and tattoos that Saddam was known to have, firm conclusions weren't made at first, and he warned President Bush when informing him of the capture that early reports often are incorrect.
"I was more interested in the fact that we found a sizeable amount of money," Rumsfeld said, "because we know that Saddam Hussein had doubles, and we know that they used plastic surgery, so they could very easily have put the tattoos and the bullet hole when they were doing the facial surgery." He said the large amount of money found at the scene some $750,000 in U.S. $100 bills -- and positive identification by some of Saddam's former cabinet members in custody made it clear the captured man was, indeed, the former Iraqi dictator.