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LATEST NEWS

SADDAM CAPTURED!!!!


14 December, 2003

 

President Bush Press Conference

 

CNN Headlines Ticker In New York


Top Stories - AP

U.S. Forces Capture Saddam in Iraq Pit
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Cornered alone in a cramped hole near one of his sumptuous palaces, a weary, disheveled Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) was seized by U.S. troops and displayed on television screens worldwide Sunday, a humiliating fate for one of history's most brutal dictators.

The man who waged and lost two wars against the United States and its allies was armed with a pistol when captured in a Styrofoam-covered underground hide-out, but did not resist, the U.S. military said. In the broadcast images, he resembled a desperate fugitive, not an all-powerful president who had ordered his army to fight to the death.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we got him," U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer told a news conference. "The tyrant is a prisoner."

"He was just caught like a rat," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, whose 4th Infantry Division troops staged the raid. "When you're in the bottom of a hole you can't fight back."

During the arrest of Saddam, U.S. troops discovered "descriptive written material of significant value," another U.S. commander told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity. He declined to say whether the material related to the anti-coalition resistance.

Saddam, who could face trial before a new Iraqi tribunal for war crimes, was defiant when top Iraqi officials visited him in captivity hours later people at the meeting said he refused to admit to human rights abuses.



Iyad Allawi, president of the U.S. - appointed Iraqi governing council, center, and Spain's Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, right share a light moment with U.S.Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) during a news conference at the end of the International Donor's Conference for the reconstruction of Iraq (news - web sites) in Madrid, Spain Friday Oct. 24, 2003. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
U.S.Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites), right, speaks with U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow during a news conference at the end of the International Donor's Conference for the reconstruction of Iraq (news - web sites) in Madrid, Spain, Friday, Oct. 24, 2003. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)


By DANIEL WOOLLS, Associated Press Writer
By David Chance and Mona Megalli MADRID (Reuters) - International donors pledged at least $33 billion in aid and loans over the next four years to help rebuild war-ravaged Iraq (news - web sites) on Friday as the response to a U.S.-led drive for funds far outstripped expectations.




Spanish Economy Minister Rodrigo Rato said the combined offer -- made at a gathering of more than 70 nations in Madrid -- was equivalent to twice Iraq's annual national income and was a global vote of confidence in the country's future.

"If you take the American contribution which is hopefully totally a grant, then we have at least $33 billion, of which $25 billion is grants," said Marek Belka, a former Polish finance minister who is spearheading the fund raising efforts of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.

"All in all we are overwhelmed, we are very happy, it surpasses all expectations," Belka told Reuters.

He said the figure took the lowest likely contribution from the International Monetary Fund (news - web sites) and World Bank (news - web sites) and excluded trade finance and grants in kind.

The highest estimate for pledges from non-U.S. donors came from the Iraqis themselves. Planning Minister Mahdi Hafez told reporters they had matched Washington's promise of $20 billion.

That is on top of $20 billion promised by Washington and is far in excess of what had been expected a few weeks ago, when political divisions threatened the existence of the meeting.

"A little over six months ago Iraq was the black sheep of the international community," Iraq Governing Council President Iyad Allawi told a news conference. "Today I am again proud to be Iraqi."

VIOLENCE CLOUDS OPTIMISM

But elation was clouded by the treacherous security situation in Iraq, from where aid agencies and international organizations have pulled out or cut staffing to a minimum.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed in a mortar attack on Friday, bringing to 108 the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since Washington declared major combat operations over.

"Security is not going to be a permanent hindrance to reconstruction," Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) said. "It is making it a little harder now but...it will improve."

EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten cautioned that past experience had shown there was often a huge lag between promises and delivery of aid. "We need to get the money out of the bank and into Iraq as quickly as possible," he said.

The aid conference had struggled against skepticism from critics of the war. Indeed, international fault lines that were opened by the conflict were still apparent in Madrid, with France, Germany and Russia bringing no new aid.

The $33 billion falls short of the $56 billion the World Bank and United Nations (news - web sites) have said is needed over four years to rebuild an economy torn apart by war and sanctions, but future oil revenues, foreign direct investment and a refund on the oil-for-food program could narrow the gap.

JAPAN PLEDGES MORE

Pledges from governments and agencies came in a confusing mixture, including humanitarian and reconstruction aid, export credits and project finance, and covered up to five years.

The World Bank said it would make between $3-5 billion available up to 2008, while the IMF promised support of up to $4.25 billion over three years.

Japan made the largest offer after the United States, pledging a further $3.5 billion in medium-term loans to bring its total promised aid to $5 billion.

Saudi Arabia announced a $1 billion financing package and promised to look at reducing Iraq's debt burden, estimated at $120 billion, within a wider framework of debt forgiveness.

A State Department official said Washington had wanted as much of the assistance to be in the form of grants, rather than loans, but declined to criticize any of the countries -- like Saudi Arabia -- that chose to offer loans.

"Obviously we would prefer the maximum amount in grants, but every country has to make (the) decision of what it can afford," he said.

The EU said its combined aid for Iraq in 2004 had risen to some 700 million euros ($826 million), overtaking its contribution to Afghanistan (news - web sites) last year.

Total pledges from the EU budget and member states from now until 2007 stand at 1.3 billion euros.

Iraq received a wide-ranging offer of help from former enemy Iran, against which Saddam fought a war between 1980 and 1988.

Tehran promised a credit facility of up to $300 million, offered cross-border electricity and gas supplies and said it would let Iraq export oil through Iranian terminals.

Pledges piled up from poorer nations too, with Vietnam offering $500,000 worth of rice and Sri Lanka 100 tons of tea. (Additional reporting by Jonathan Wright, Daniel Trotta and Emma Ross-Thomas) ($1=.8479 Euros)

LINKS

Victory In Iraq
Accomplishments In Iraq
The New Iraq - Progress & Accomplishments




OLD NEWS

Tue May 6, 2003 6:32 am

Subject: Saddam Hussein's Son Took $1 billion in cash

NEW YORK (May 5) - A son of Saddam Hussein and a close adviser carried off nearly $1 billion in cash from Iraq's central bank hours before the U.S.-led war on the country began, the New York Times reported on its Web site late on Monday.

The amount of cash was so large -- $900 million in American bills and $100 million worth of euros -- that three tractor trailers were needed to carry it, the newspaper reported, citing an Iraqi official.

The alleged removal was said to have been ordered by Saddam himself. Qusay, the deposed leader's second son, and one of the president's personal assistants, Abid al-Hamid Mahmood, carried a letter from Saddam authorizing the removal of the money, the newspaper reported.

"When you get an order from Saddam Hussein, you do not discuss it," an unnamed Iraqi official who held a senior position in a bank told The Times. The unnamed official was told about the removal of the cash by the people who turned it over to Qusay and the adviser, the newspaper reported.

The New York Times said Iraqi officials were uncertain what effect the disappearance of the cash, which amounted to about one quarter of the central bank's hard currency reserves, would have on the Iraqi economy.

American officials and Iraqis interviewed by The Times said they did not know where the money went, but some Americans said they suspect it was transported to Syria, the newspaper reported. The money was reportedly stolen at 4 a.m. on March 18.

Col. Ted Seel, a U.S. army special forces officer, said he was aware of the seizure of cash, the newspaper reported. He said there was intelligence information at the time that suggested a group of tractor trailers were crossing into Syria from Iraq.

The Times however quoted a U.S. Treasury Department official, George Mullinax, as saying that it was possible a large chunk of the money had been recovered.

He said about $650 million in U.S. $100 bills found by an American sergeant in one of Saddam's palaces might be from the central bank, although that had not been determined for certain.

Saddam and his two sons have not been seen in public since the war began. The ousted Iraqi leader made a number of television appearances during the war, but it was not possible to verify when they were recorded.

05/06/03 00:11 ET

Mon Mar 31, 2003 7:43 am



Palaces and Oil Smuggling

Summary

Since the end of the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein has directed and sustained a multi-billion dollar palace construction program while pleading that the UN sanctions keep him too poor to feed and provide health care for his people. While he keeps Iraq's hospital shelves bare and shows them to journalists, Saddam restricts access to the new and ornate palaces to himself and his chosen admirers of any given moment. Moreover, Saddam fits out these monuments with the finest foreign materials - from golden plumbing to the finest European marble and crystal chandeliers - smuggled in despite the embargo that Baghdad propaganda falsely claims blocks the import of food and medicine.

Saddam Hussein pays for these palaces with that part of the Iraqi national wealth that he has managed to keep under his control and out of the UN's mandatory oil-for-food program. Through that program, the UN controls how Iraqi oil revenues are spent and compels the regime to invest Iraq's oil wealth for the benefit of its people. But every day that he remains in power, Saddam lets his favored supporters steal hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from the Iraqi people to enrich themselves, in direct violation of UN resolutions.

Most Iraqis and the few foreign visitors to Iraq only get to see the outer walls of Saddam's monuments to his glory. This report provides satellite images that allow Iraqis and the rest of the world to see better how Saddam Hussein spends some of the money that he is able to steal from the national wealth of the Iraqi people.

Palace Construction

Photographic evidence confirms that Saddam Hussein and his regime have sustained a non-stop program of palace building since 1991. Saddam has been spending billions of dollars on the man-made lakes, waterfalls, marble, and other luxuries that make up his palaces and those of his supporters. At the same time, Saddam parades well- intentioned foreigners to gawk at the sick and hungry of Iraq, as he pleads that UN sanctions prevent him from buying or importing his people's most basic needs.

Among the more notable features of these palaces are: extensive security facilities to protect the regime from its own people; elaborate gardens which require large amounts of water, often in drought-stricken areas; and sophisticated waterfalls and other waterworks using pumps and other infrastructure that the regime says sanctions prevent it from importing for the Iraqi people.

Saddam ruthlessly protects the extent of his luxury. According to Iraqi opposition sources, Saddam recently ordered the execution of one of the Iraqi architects who worked on presidential palaces in Tikrit, Al-Hillah, Al-Azimiyah, and Al-Wafa. His crime was to describe to friends the sumptuousness and lavishness of Saddam's palaces, and the swimming pools, fish aquariums, and deer farms in the vicinity of some of them. A circular was then sent around to workers in the engineering department of the Presidential Office warning them that the harshest punishment will be inflicted on anyone who talks about the presidential sites, even to family members. Our knowledge of the inside of Saddam's palaces comes from first-hand information from international observers who have traveled to Iraq and visited the palaces.

Located 150 miles north of Baghdad in Saddam's home region, this site was completed in November 1993.

This site, built over 2.2 square kilometers and completed in 1994, contains Saddam Hussein's northernmost presidential site and includes several palaces and VIP residences, three lakes, and man-made waterfalls.

Completed in 1995, al Azimiyah is one of five major palaces located in Baghdad.

Al Salam palace is located on the site of the former Republican Guard Headquarters, which was destroyed in Desert Storm.

Located 90 miles north of Baghdad and covering 4.0 square kilometers, this is the largest and most elaborate of the presidential sites.

Construction at the Abu Ghurayb Presidential Palace is also ongoing. As the photos show, it features extensive and complex water works.

Saddam's Riches & Excesses

(This US Government web page was created in 1999 so it is NOT by this current administration)

Misuse of Resources by the Regime
Summary

Rather than spend money to help its people, Iraq's leaders enrich themselves.

Mismanagement

With Iraqi oil revenues burgeoning, it's hard to understand why the people of Iraq aren't better off. The reason is because the government of Iraq is mismanaging the oil-for-food program, either deliberately or through incompetence.

Despite reports of widespread health problems, the government has still not spent the full $200 million for medical supplies allocated under phase five of the oil-for-food program (which ended in May). Only 40% of the money was used to purchase medicines for primary care, while 60% was used to buy medical equipment.

While the average Iraqi needs basic medicines and medical care, the government of Iraq spent $6 million on a gamma knife, an instrument used for complicated neurosurgery that requires extremely advanced training to use. Another several million was spent on a MRI machine, used for high-resolution imaging. Such exotic treatment is reserved for regime bodyguards and other members of the elite. This total of $10 million could instead have benefited thousands of Iraqi children if it had been spent on vaccines, antibiotics, and the chemotherapeutics necessary to treat the large numbers of children that are allegedly dying due to lack of medicine.

Personal Enrichment

While the people of Iraq go wanting, their leaders enrich themselves.

In July 1999, Forbes Magazine estimated Saddam Hussein's personal wealth at $6 billion, acquired primarily from oil and smuggling.

Medicines received through the oil-for-food program are sold by the regime to private hospitals at exorbitant prices.

Members of the government and top military and security officials are provided with extra monthly food rations, Mercedes automobiles, and monthly stipends in the thousands of dollars. By comparison, the average monthly government salary is 6,500 dinars, or about $3.50.

Saddam's Excesses

In addition to the revenues generated under the oil-for-food program, the government of Iraq earns money from other sources which it controls. Rather than spend these funds to help the people of Iraq, Saddam Hussein chooses to build monuments to himself. In addition, he deprives those in need of water and other scarce resources in order to favor elites and other supporters of the regime.

Saddam celebrated his birthday this year (1999) by building a resort complex for regime loyalists. Since the Gulf War, Saddam has spent over $2 billion on presidential palaces. Some of these palaces boast gold-plated faucets and man-made lakes and waterfalls, which use pumping equipment that could have been used to address civilian water and sanitation needs.

Photo 2: Saddamiat al Tharthar, Iraq, a resort city built for Regime VIPs, April 1999.

In April 1999, Iraqi officials inaugurated Saddamiat al Tharthar. Located 85 miles west of Baghdad, this sprawling lakeside vacation resort contains stadiums, an amusement park, hospitals, parks, and 625 homes to be used by government officials. This project cost hundreds of millions of dollars. There is no clearer example of the government's lack of concern for the needs of its people than Saddamiat al Tharthar (see photo 2).

In July, Baghdad increased taxes on vehicle ownership and marriage dowries, after earlier increases in taxes, fees, and fuel and electricity prices. This is in part what pays for Saddam's palaces. Saddam also uses food rations, medical care, and other state resources to buy the loyalty of his inner circle and security forces.

CNN's Report - Saddam's Palaces




Iraq is facing its worst drought in 50 years. As a result, the government is restricting the planting of rice and told farmers not to plant summer crops without permission from the Ministry of Irrigation. The water levels of the reservoirs supplying Saddam Hussein's region of Tikrit, however, were at normal seasonal levels, while the flow of water to the southern cities was dramatically lower than during the previous two years. Saddam is diverting water to serve his political objectives, at the expense of the general population.

Saddam's Stories

Saddam spent 1.22 bn building new palaces and renovating old ones, while his people were starving.

"They are like the palaces in stories of Sinbad and Arabian Nights," said the Iraqi builder involved in putting the final touches to the biggest and most elaborate of President Saddam's palaces.

Mr Wael's last job was in the palace of Maqar-el-Tharthar, which is built on the surface of a lake north west of Baghdad. "It is at least four or five times bigger than the White House," said Mr Wael who was on his way his family in Fairfax Virginia.



He said workers specialised in alabaster and marble are not permitted to leave because of the grand project that included 30 new palaces besides the 19, which existed before the Gulf war. To obtain marble and alabaster, he said, the Iraqis have taken to plundering ruins and tombs dating from the Babylonian era. They were used to build a new palace on the shore of an artificial lake, created by diverting the Tigris near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

"We heard that the President [Saddam] was very angry because the US and Britain were banning the import of marble." He said

The UN sanctions committee, which allows import licences for other building materials, has pointedly turned down Iraqi applications to import marble, alabaster and electric pumps for water fountains - favourite items in President Saddam's palaces.



Saddam, who seldom shows his emotions, let it be known that he was very angry because of the ban on importing marble. It was an excellent subtrefuge. The UN went on teasing Saddam by denying him his imported marble but overlooked what he was actually doing.

Saddam's Palaces
By Adel Darwich


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