Photos of Hussein Brothers' Bodies Provide Proof to Iraqis
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 24, 2003 The deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein sent "a very clear signal to the Iraqis that the Hussein family is finished and will not be returning to terrorize them again," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today.
Releasing photographs of the brothers' bodies was not a decision he made lightly, the secretary said during a Pentagon media briefing. But, he added, he believes the Iraqi people deserve proof that their longtime tormenters are really gone.
"To get closure that two particularly vicious members of (the former) regime are, in fact, dead is ... something that will contribute to more Iraqi people being willing to come forward with information, less enthusiasm and heart on the part of some of the lower-level Baathists to continue the fight, and a greater conviction (that) the regime is done," Rumsfeld said. "It's gone. It's not coming back."
And if these things lead to fewer Americans being killed by regime holdouts, then, he said, "I'm happy to make the decision I made."
Americans have historically shied away from displaying war dead or prisoners. But Rumsfeld asserted that this is an "unusual" situation.
"This regime has been in power for decades. These two ... are now dead. We know that. They have been carefully identified," he said. "The Iraqi people have been waiting for confirmation of that. And they, in my view, deserved having confirmation of that."
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, noted that the new Iraqi Governing Council asked to send a delegation to view the bodies.
"(This) shows you that the people responsible in Iraq now ... felt it was important for them to go personally view the bodies," he said in the same Pentagon briefing, "to assure themselves, and through them the Iraqi people, that these were indeed the sons of Saddam Hussein."
Bremer said releasing the brothers' bodies to be seen was "responding to a perfectly legitimate request on the part of the Governing Council."
The ambassador noted, and Rumsfeld reiterated, that releasing photos of combatants' bodies is not a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Bremer also agreed with Rumsfeld's earlier point - that Hussein's regime will not come back to terrorize the Iraqi people.
"We're making the point that the Baathists are finished," Bremer said. "Saddam and his henchmen are finished. They're not coming back."