Sunday, December 14
Bremer: 'We Got Him'
Bradley Graham, Washington Post Staff Writer, December 14, 2003; 7:36 AM
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. troops during a raid on a farmhouse near Tikrit, U.S. officials said in a news conference in Baghdad today.
"We got him . . . ," L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's U.S. civilian administrator, said when making the announcement. "The tyrant is now a prisoner . . ."
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, described the operation and said that "not a single shot was fired."
Sanchez said Hussein, who was hiding in a "spider hole" dug near the house, was talking to his captors and "being cooperative." Video of Hussein, with a long gray beard, getting a medical checkup after his capture was shown by Sanchez. Then, he showed video of the man after he had been shaved and compared that to earlier photos of Hussein.
Continuous celebratory gunfire could be heard in Baghdad as the news of Hussein's possible arrest spread across the Iraqi capital.
The capture of Hussein has been a high priority for U.S. forces since last spring's invasion, but the former Iraqi leader had proven elusive despite a $25 million reward that the Bush administration offered for information that led to him.
U.S. authorities had received numerous tips about possible hiding places for Hussein and suspect they were close to nabbing him on a few occasions. Hussein's two sons, Uday and Qusay, were found in July in a house in Tikrit and died in a firefight with U.S. troops.
From his hideouts, Hussein continued to taunt U.S. authorities, issuing periodic audio tapes urging resistance to the American-led occupation. To spearhead the search for him, the Pentagon established a group of Special Operations forces known as Task Force 121. In recent months, U.S. forces have focused on hunting down mid-level former Iraqi officers and mid-ranking onetime Baath Party operatives in hopes they could provide intelligence that might lead to Hussein.