- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Bush administration released photographs yesterday of the mangled corpses of Uday and Qusai Hussein in a blunt message to the Iraqi people that the brutal brothers — and their regime — are indeed dead.

After debating the issue Wednesday inside the administration, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that he took the extraordinary step based on one important calculation: convincing Iraqis that Saddam Hussein’s regime is not coming back may ease the fears of people willing to turn in insurgents who are attacking U.S. troops.

“If it can save American lives, I’m happy to make the decision I made,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.

The decision was touchy because the United States urges adversaries not to release photographs of those killed in action or of prisoners of war. But Mr. Rumsfeld said there is precedent for displaying photos of dead despots, such as Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, to convince the populace that the reign of terror was over.

He said that nothing in the Geneva Convention, which sets down the rules of war, prohibits this type of release.

“This is an unusual situation,” Mr. Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon press conference, where he appeared with L. Paul Bremer, the civil administrator in Iraq.

“This regime has been in power for decades. These two individuals are particularly vicious individuals. They are now dead. We know that. They have been carefully identified. The Iraqi people have been waiting for confirmation of that, and they, in my view, deserve having confirmation of that.”

The release of four color morgue photos came two days after U.S. soldiers attacked a villa in Mosul from which the cornered sons of Saddam had refused to surrender. In the fierce, six-hour exchange of fire, Uday and Qusai were killed by a barrage of TOW anti-tank missiles.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top military commander in Iraq, said on Wednesday that dental records and captured Ba’ath Party leaders had positively identified the bodies.

“The brutal careers of Uday and Qusai came to an end, sending a very clear signal to the Iraqis that the Hussein family is finished and will not be returning to terrorize them again,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.

Their father, Saddam, is believed to be on the run somewhere in central or northern Iraq. He has released a series of audiotapes urging his followers to attack the coalition forces. A U.S. official said yesterday that the latest tape released on Sunday was likely to have been that of Saddam.

The morgue pictures showed two above-the-shoulders views of each man. The military also released an X-ray of Uday’s leg to show that it matched wounds he had suffered in a failed 1996 assassination attempt.

Uday had shaved his head and grown a thick beard, perhaps as a disguise as he moved around the country with his brother. He had a large wound on his face, prompting some analysts to suggest that he might have committed suicide to escape being captured alive and facing a war-crimes trial. The mustachioed Qusai also had grown a beard. His face was flecked with wounds and blood.

Saddam had delegated much authority to his two sons, who had led a pampered life of fine liquor, cigars, palace parties and luxury cars. They both enjoyed inflicting torture on political enemies and ordering the executions of hundreds, if not thousands. To Iraqis, they were as much a symbol of the Ba’ath regime as Saddam had been.

Mr. Rumsfeld and his commanders hope the deaths will dampen the enthusiasm of guerrillas to kill American soldiers. But there is no sign of a letup.

Two soldiers were killed Wednesday shortly after the military released news of the raid in Mosul. Yesterday, three more were killed in the ambush of a 101st Airborne Division convoy in northern Iraq.

Second-guessers have said that the ground commanders should have placed a seize on the Mosul villa and waited for the brothers to surrender. They could have provided valuable information on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — the main reason the U.S.-led coalition went to war, the critics argue.

But Pentagon officials dismiss such criticism, saying Uday and Qusai were bent on fighting to the end and might have had underground escape routes from the house.

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