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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

13 January 2004

Saddam's Status Won't Affect Iraq's Ability to Try Him

Defense Department report: Iraq operations

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Saddam Hussein's current status as an enemy prisoner of war (EPW) will not affect the U.S. government's plans to have Iraqis "play a significant role" in any trial of the ex-dictator.

Rumsfeld was asked what kind of intelligence information the United States is getting from interrogations of Hussein, why it was decided to classify him as an EPW, and whether doing so would have an effect on U.S. plans to have Saddam's trial be a largely Iraqi matter. In reply, Rumsfeld noted that the CIA was handling Saddam's interrogation, not the Defense Department, and that the decision to classify him as an EPW was made by an interagency team of lawyers.

"However, his status can be reviewed at any time -- more than once," Rumsfeld said. "And so as additional information [is obtained] or as decisions are made, that may either be changed or amplified."

As for the possible effect of Hussein's EPW status on any trial, Rumsfeld said, "The reality is that the president has said, and the decision has been made, that he believes the Iraqi people need to be involved in that process in whatever way it is ultimately decided."


Canada is now among those countries whose firms will be allowed to bid on both U.S. contracts and subcontracts for Iraq reconstruction projects, Rumsfeld says.

Canada had not been included on a December Defense Department list of countries whose companies would be allowed to bid on such contracts. Speaking at a Pentagon briefing January 13, Rumsfeld noted that the governmentwide policy announced in December specified countries eligible to bid on prime contracts. "It did not address subcontracts," Rumsfeld said, "indicating that subcontracts could be bid on by anybody."

There is a second tranche of contracts to let, Rumsfeld said, for which an additional number of countries will be permitted to bid. President Bush has "announced that Canada will be in the second tranche, and in the meantime, Canada could bid on the subcontracts," Rumsfeld said.


An incident in Baghdad January 12, in which civilians traveling behind a U.S. military convoy were killed when an improvised explosive device targeting the convoy exploded, will be investigated, according to Marine Corps General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Briefing with Rumsfeld at the Pentagon January 13, Pace said that after the event took place, dead Iraqi civilians were found. "We do not know how they were killed -- if they were killed by the blast or something else. That is being investigated by the command, and that will be available to you in Baghdad" when it has been fully investigated, Pace said.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

This page printed from: http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2004&m=January&x=20040113183847ynnedd0.4308893&t=usinfo/wf-latest.html

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