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Ken Pollack: Sons' deaths heat up hunt for Saddam

Ken Pollack: Informant must be kept safe from Saddam loyalists.
Ken Pollack: Informant must be kept safe from Saddam loyalists.

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Viewer discretion advised -- graphic video of what the U.S. says are the bodies of the Hussein brothers.
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Viewer discretion advised -- the U.S. says these graphic photos show the bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein.
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Gallery: Photos released by the United States of the corpses of Uday and Qusay Hussein   (These images are graphic and are not recommended for children and some adults. Viewer discretion is advised.)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- CNN analyst Ken Pollack, a former CIA staffer, spoke with CNN anchor Leon Harris about the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay and the impact their deaths will have on the hunt for the deposed Iraqi leader.

HARRIS: The deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein leave only one member of the top five most wanted fugitives in Iraq believed alive, and that is their father, Saddam Hussein.

Joining us now to discuss the intensifying manhunt for him is CNN analyst Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institute. He's with us by telephone from Washington.

All right, Ken, first of all, let me got your reaction to this release of the video. You've seen the video so far?

POLLACK: I have.

HARRIS: And your thoughts?

POLLACK: Oh, it's pretty grisly. It's not the kind of thing Americans are used to seeing on TV. I really wish that the United States wasn't in the position where it was necessary to release this kind of stuff. But as Brent Sadler's report just pointed out, I think unfortunately it is the kind of images necessary to allow Iraqis and other Arabs to really feel that Saddam's sons are dead.

HARRIS: Well I'm not sure if you heard Harris Whitbeck's report from Baghdad, but he said that they've been monitoring sort of a mixed reaction amongst Iraqis in Baghdad, at least, who have seen this stuff. And there still seems to be quite a significant number who are not overwhelmingly convinced here.

Do you think, based upon what you saw with these videotapes, that it will actually convince many more people than the picture would have?

POLLACK: My guess is that there will be some who will be further convinced by the bodies. But my sense is that overall, those people who want to believe that Saddam's sons are dead believed it probably right away.

Those who just didn't want to believe it, probably nothing will convince them. There is a group in the middle and probably some of them have been further convinced by these images, by the images released yesterday, or perhaps by other things that the administration might do. But again, that is a small number.

HARRIS: Well I know one person who was hoping that they weren't dead, that's Saddam Hussein himself. No doubt, he has heard the news, if he is still alive and still inside Iraq, ... he has seen the pictures by now.

In your mind, would you expect sometime fairly soon for him to come out and prove that he is still alive if he is? Should we expect another taped statement from him?

POLLACK: Well, this is a tough one, Leon, because I think that there is a rationale for saying that ... which is, it would be useful for Saddam to show that he's still alive and still able to fight back. And in the past, when Saddam was in control of Iraq, that was exactly the kind of thing he tried to do.

But what we've seen since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom was that he took a somewhat different tack. He didn't necessarily come right back out ... to demonstrate that he was still alive and still able to fight, because he seemed to be much more concerned about his own security.

And right now, given the fact that the U.S. was able to penetrate the security of his sons and kill the two of them, he's obviously got to be very concerned about his own security. And chances are, he may be spending most of his time at the moment trying to better nail down his own security, improve his position, ensure that what happened to his sons doesn't happen to him.

That may make it hard for him to put together a videotape or an audiotape of some kind. It also might mean that he doesn't want to because he may be afraid that the chain by which that tape reached a media (outlet) might be used by the Americans to trace back to him and find his location. So I think it's up in the air.

HARRIS: And maybe not just used by the Americans. Don't forget in this particular case with Uday and Qusay, with the brothers there, they were turned in by someone. Someone who walked in ... and took the $30 million that was on their heads. Quite possibly, Saddam Hussein worried that someone might be ready to do the same thing with him, someone from his inner circle.

POLLACK: yes, I think that actually raises a good point, Leon, which is that the informant is right now kind of a symbol for many Iraqis. I'm sure there are a lot of Iraqis thinking, boy, I'd like to get my hands on $30 million.

By the same token, that informant's life is now a critical issue for the United States of America. I think that there are probably a lot of people, Saddam's former loyalists, who would love to get at him and kill him to demonstrate that anyone who informs on members of the former regime will, himself, be killed.

And so protecting that person, perhaps even getting that person out of Iraq, so that he can enjoy the fruits of his reward, is going to be critical. If that person winds up getting killed within the next few weeks, that ... could squelch potential people who may be thinking maybe I will come forward and claim my $25 million reward.

HARRIS: And that could undermine any level of comfort that many Iraqis may be developing from what they've seen happening over the last 48 hours.

POLLACK: Exactly.


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