AP: Proving Saddam's Death Could Take Weeks

Politics | April 18, 2003, Friday // 00:00

For the U.S. military in Iraq, determining whether Saddam Hussein is dead or alive has taken a back seat to more pressing matters such as securing Baghdad and searching for weapons of mass destruction, AP commented.

White House chief of staff Andrew Card said this week he believes Saddam is dead. If Card is right, what's left of the deposed Iraqi leader's body is probably buried in tons of rubble in one of two huge bomb craters in the Iraqi capital.

U.S. military teams have investigated the sites of both the March 19 and April 7 airstrikes aimed at killing Saddam and other top Iraqi leaders. But sifting through all that debris could take weeks of work with heavy equipment, and it's not a priority, Pentagon officials said Thursday.

A higher priority is finding and eliminating any weapons of mass destruction. That, too, probably will take a long time, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday.

The key will be help from Iraqis who know details of any chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, Rumsfeld said.

"I don't think we'll discover anything, myself," Rumsfeld said at a town hall-style meeting with Pentagon employees.

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