- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

BAGHDAD — British and American newspapers published photos yesterday showing an imprisoned Saddam Hussein clad only in his underwear and washing his laundry, prompting an angry U.S. military to start an investigation.

Britain’s Sun newspaper and the New York Post said the photos were provided by a U.S. military official they did not identify. The photos angered the U.S. military, which issued a condemnation rare for its immediacy.

President Bush said he did not believe the photos would incite further anti-American sentiment in Iraq, which is edging toward open sectarian conflict.

“I don’t think a photo inspires murderers,” Mr. Bush said at the White House. “These people are motivated by a vision of the world that is backward and barbaric.”

Mr. Bush “strongly supports the aggressive and thorough investigation that is already under way” that seeks to find who took the photos, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said.

Both the Sun and the Post are controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Sun Managing Editor Graham Dudman said the newspaper paid “a small sum” for the photos. He would not elaborate except to say the paper paid more than 500 British pounds, which is equal to about $900.

The paper also said it was publishing more photos today.

“These are iconic images of the world’s most notorious war criminal,” the paper said. “The Sun is proud to run the pictures.”

Saddam’s chief lawyer, Ziad al-Khasawneh, said his legal team would sue the Sun because the photos represent “an insult to humanity, Arabs and the Iraqi people.”

He said the photos were part “of a comprehensive war against the Islamic and Arab nations” that included the abuse at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison and a report by Newsweek, which were later retracted, about Koran desecration at the U.S. prison on U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Others, however, were not so kind.

“Saddam Hussein and his regime were bloody and practiced mass killing against the people, therefore, whatever happens to Saddam, whether he is photographed naked or washing his clothes, it means nothing to me. That’s the least he deserves,” said Hawre Saliee, a 38-year-old Kurd.

The U.S. military in Baghdad said the photos violated military guidelines “and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals.”

“It’s not the content of the photo that is the issue at hand, but it is the existence or release of the photos,” spokesman Staff Sgt. Don Dees said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the photos possibly were at least a year old.

The International Committee for the Red Cross, which is responsible for monitoring prisoners of war and detainees, said the photographs violated Saddam’s right to privacy.

“Taking and using photographs of him is clearly forbidden,” ICRC Middle East spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas said. U.S. forces are obliged to “preserve the privacy of the detainee.”

Aside from U.S. soldiers, the only others with access to Saddam are his legal team, prosecuting Judge Raed Johyee and the ICRC.

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