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Bush: Saddam should face death penalty

U.S., France and Germany agree on Iraq debt relief plan

An Iraqi man speaks about a bomb explosion with a U.S. soldier in Tikrit.
An Iraqi man speaks about a bomb explosion with a U.S. soldier in Tikrit.

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A raid in Samarra nets a suspected financier of attacks on coalition forces.
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Saddam Hussein

(CNN) -- President Bush said Tuesday he believes former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein should face the death penalty after being tried.

"Let's just see what penalty he gets, but I think he ought to receive the ultimate penalty ... for what he has done to his people," Bush told ABC News.

"But that will be decided not by the president of the United States, but by the citizens of Iraq in one form or another."

Saddam is in U.S. custody and under interrogation by the CIA somewhere in Iraq.

Members of the U.S.-appointed Iraq Governing Council have said Saddam would be tried before a war crimes tribunal the council established just last week.

No judges or administrators have yet been appointed to the tribunal. The transitional government set to assume sovereignty by July 1 will decide whether it will have the power to impose death sentences.

'Financier' captured

U.S. troops have captured a man coalition officials describe as a financier of attacks on coalition forces and a member of the paramilitary group Fedayeen Saddam, officials said.

The financier was one of 74 young Iraqi men of military age captured in a raid early Tuesday as they were apparently meeting at his house in the north-central Iraqi town of Samarra, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Tikrit, coalition officials said.

The raiders also found 135 pounds of explosives, several mortar rounds, 15 AK-47s, 200 blasting caps and other ammunition and paraphernalia similar to those used in attacks against U.S. troops, coalition officials said.

U.S. troops have fought off ambushes in Samarra twice this month -- on December 1, when the military said troops killed 54 Iraqis, and Monday, when they killed 11 attackers.

Troops are continuing to search for a number of high-ranking members of Saddam's former regime, including Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Number 6 on the list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis and the highest-ranking member still at large.

CIA questioning Saddam

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the Pentagon has turned over the responsibility of questioning Saddam to the CIA, although the former dictator will stay in military custody. (Full story)

Rumsfeld also said DNA tests have confirmed the man is indeed Saddam.

While military personnel may conduct some of the questioning, the CIA has "the people who have competence in that area," Rumsfeld told reporters in Washington.

Rumsfeld said Saddam's demeanor has been "resigned" since his capture Saturday night near his ancestral hometown of Tikrit.

"He is being accorded the protection of a POW, but he is not being legally described as one at this stage," Rumsfeld said. Officials have said Saddam is at an undisclosed location in Iraq.

Rumsfeld said the military had reports that Saddam had been on the move since before the war, often staying in one place less than six hours.

"Sometimes he would be staying in motion in vehicles. Sometimes those vehicles were taxicabs," Rumsfeld said. "And sometimes he spent, again, three or four hours in a taxicab that was not a taxicab; it didn't have the meter running."

Two-year stay

Comedian Robin Williams performs for U.S. troops in Baghdad Tuesday.
Comedian Robin Williams performs for U.S. troops in Baghdad Tuesday.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that American troops would remain in Iraq for a couple of years and possibly longer.

Myers said the number of U.S. forces would likely decrease on the next rotation. About 120,000 troops are in Iraq at this time.

Myers was in Baghdad for a previously scheduled morale-building visit, accompanied by celebrities such as Robin Williams.

Iraq debt relief plan

The United States, France and Germany have agreed on a plan to provide the fledgling Iraqi government with "substantial" debt relief, according a joint statement issued Tuesday by the three governments in Berlin, Germany.

The amount of the debt reduction will be subject to "future agreement" between the countries, the statement said.

The Paris Club, an informal group of 19 creditor nations, has been discussing ways to relieve the debt burdens of debtor nations, including Iraq, which owes about $40 billion in principal and back interest to Paris Club countries.

The announcement came after James Baker, Bush's special envoy for Iraq reconstruction, met with French and German officials.

Signs have emerged that both countries -- who opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq -- are willing to help Iraq get out from under some of the $120 billion debt run up by Saddam. (Full story)

Show of force in Tikrit

U.S. troops rolled out a show of force in Tikrit, countering demonstrations that erupted there and in other cities after Saddam's capture.

The 4th Infantry Division deployed helicopters, Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and hundreds of soldiers to quash further protests.

Saddam supporters held demonstrations Monday inside the so-called Sunni Triangle -- the area north and west of Baghdad considered a hotbed of regime loyalists and anti-coalition activity. Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah are in the Sunni Triangle. (Full story)

Other developments

• Saddam Hussein's oldest daughter told the Al-Arabiya television network Tuesday the family of the former dictator will hire the best attorneys it can find to fight for her father. In a phone interview, Raghad Hussein, 35, told the Arabic-language channel that the family believes Saddam was drugged after he surrendered to American troops.

• The United Nations will aid Iraq's transition from occupation to sovereignty but needs greater clarity about what role it can play, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday. The capture of the ousted Iraqi dictator is "an opportunity for a new beginning" in Iraq, Annan said in an address to the U.N. Security Council. But the country remains a difficult environment for U.N. international staff, he said. (Full story)

• Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division who participated in Saddam's capture said they were preparing to toss a grenade or fire into a hole they had uncovered -- standard procedure for their safety -- when they saw a pair of upraised hands. (Gallery: Saddam's capture) The man then identified himself as Saddam, they said. (Full story) (Audio slide show: Saddam's capture)

CNN's Jane Arraf, Satinder Bindra, David Ensor, Terry Frieden, Al Goodman, John King, Jamie McIntyre, Nic Robertson, Barbara Starr, Jim Bitterman, Stephanie Halasz, Dana Bash and Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.

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