The CIA will oversee the questioning of Saddam Hussein.

WASHINGTON (AP) – After Saddam Hussein’s capture, the U.S. military temporarily eased up on certain types of raids against the ousted Iraqi president’s loyalists to give them a chance to surrender, a top Pentagon general said Tuesday.

“There was a period of time that Central Command determined that it was best to not do specific types of raids, to give those who were potentially close to Saddam an opportunity to digest the information … and perhaps turn themselves in,” said Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

None had surrendered, to his knowledge, Pace said at a Pentagon news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Former members of Saddam’s security forces are thought to comprise a significant portion of the armed resistance in Iraq.

Prime leaders still at large include Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, his son Ahmed and Hani Abd al-Latif Tilfah al-Tikriti, all of whom are thought to be involved in a guerrilla war against the U.S.-led occupation, U.S. officials said.

Rumsfeld announced at the news conference that the CIA will oversee the interrogation of Saddam, arrested Saturday night in a hideout near his hometown Tikrit.

Rumsfeld said only time will tell whether Saddam’s capture, and operations launched since then with intelligence learned during the capture and from evidence it yielded, will crack the resistance.

Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, told CNN Tuesday that some insurgents evidently kept Saddam informed about their activities “on the chance that someday he might be able once again to be their patron.”

Rumsfeld said George Tenet, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will decide who will interrogate Saddam and what information they will seek because the CIA has more expertise in that area.

Rumsfeld would not say whether Saddam had disclosed information of value.

“Characterizing his general relationship with his captors, probably the best word would be resigned,” Rumsfeld said.

Asked what might motivate the Iraqi to cooperate with interrogators, Rumsfeld said he had no idea.

“Does he have any interest in his family? … I don’t know,” Rumsfeld said. “He obviously doesn’t care anything about his country or the Iraqi people. … I’m not a psychiatrist; … I have no idea what might affect him.”

The defense secretary said Saddam was being accorded the protections of prisoners of war but was not formally designated a POW. Rumsfeld rejected the suggestion that the Pentagon’s release of a videotape of a bedraggled Saddam after his capture might have violated the rules governing treatment of POWs, saying it was important that Saddam “be seen by the public for what he is: a captive, without question. Off the street. Out of commission.”

Geneva conventions that govern treatment of POWs bar such prisoners from being displayed publicly or portrayed as objects of ridicule. While some critics have said the Saddam videos did that, Rumsfeld disagreed.

“He has been handled in a professional way,” Rumsfeld said. “He has not been held up to public curiosity in any demeaning way by reasonable definitions of the Geneva convention.”

Rumsfeld said an interagency government group will look at whether Saddam will be given official POW status.

Asked what is known about Saddam’s life on the run the past eight months, Rumsfeld said he started moving frequently before the start of the war in late March.

“He had a variety of locations where he was able to go and sometimes would spend relatively short periods – four, five, six hours – and then move again, but sometimes he would be staying in motion in vehicles,” Rumsfeld said. “Sometimes those vehicles were taxicabs. And sometimes he spent, again, three or four hours in a taxicab.”

Rumsfeld said it was important to keep looking for weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration said Saddam had, the main rationale for the war.

“The difficulty of finding him (Saddam) is the same difficulty of finding anyone else or another thing, like weapons,” he said.

AP-ES-12-16-03 1748EST



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