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Archive for Saturday, May 21, 2005

Tabloid runs photos of Saddam in underwear

U.S. military launches investigation of how pictures were leaked

May 21, 2005

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— The U.S. military condemned the publication Friday of photographs showing an imprisoned Saddam Hussein naked except for his white underwear, and ordered an investigation of how the pictures were leaked to a tabloid. Some Iraqis expressed anger, but President Bush said he did not think the images would incite further anti-American sentiment.

More revealing pictures were published today in the British tabloid, The Sun, including one of Saddam seen through barbed wire wearing a white robe-like garment, and another of Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as "Chemical Ali," in a bathrobe and holding a towel.

Regardless of any effect the images may have on Iraq's insurgency, they were certain to offend Arab sensibilities and heap more scorn on an American image already tarnished by the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison and allegations by Newsweek, later retracted, about desecration of the Quran at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"It is clear that the pictures were taken inside the prison, which means that American soldiers have leaked the pictures," said Saddam's chief lawyer, Ziad al-Khasawneh. He said the photos "add to acts that are practiced against the Iraqi people, and of course we remember what happened in Abu Ghraib and we remember what happened in Guantanamo."

The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch, said the photos it published Friday and today were provided by a U.S. military official it did not identify who hoped their release would deal a "body blow" to the insurgency.

The New York Post, which is also owned by Murdoch, also published the photos on Friday.

Saddam's attorney said he would sue the newspaper "and everyone who helped in showing these pictures."

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

A spokesman, Staff Sgt. Don Dees, said the military would question the troops responsible for Saddam.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said U.S. military officials in Iraq believe the photos are "dated" - perhaps more than one year old, although no specific date has been established.

Saddam, who was captured in December 2003, has been jailed at a complex near Baghdad airport named Camp Cropper, which holds 110 high-profile detainees.

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

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."

Some Iraqis called the photos of Saddam the latest in a series of insults to Arabs and Muslims. Others, however, said the humiliation is just what the 68-year-old former dictator deserved.

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