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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Saddam Hussein Being Held in Qatar

Aired December 15, 2003 - 07:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: This is just coming in to CNN right now. We are told that Saddam Hussein has been moved out of Iraq and, in fact, is now in Qatar.
Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House for us with the very latest on this.

Suzanne -- good morning.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

CNN has learned that Saddam Hussein is being held at a U.S. installation in Qatar. His legal status has yet to be officially determined, but Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is saying that he is being treated as a prisoner of war, a POW, and being accorded the rights under the Geneva Accords.

As you know, yesterday was a momentous day, not only for the Iraqi people, but also for the White House. It was just last night I attended a concert; the president and first lady also there. He received a standing ovation. He thanked the troops, but he did not talk about Saddam Hussein's capture.

It was just yesterday in a three-minute address to the nation he said this was the end of a dark and painful era, but, of course, with the afterglow of Saddam Hussein's capture, there are a number of significant questions that still remain. Will Saddam Hussein provide any information about a weapons of mass destruction program, the justification the administration used for going to war? So far, senior administration officials say in his initial interrogation, he has said he didn't have any.

And will this symbolic victory, of course, lead to more international support for the Iraqi reconstruction efforts from France, Germany and Russia? While all leaders have congratulated the administration, it is still unclear whether or not they will help in that effort.

And finally, whether or not this is going to make any difference on the ground in Iraq? President Bush warning the American people he does not believe those attacks against Iraqis and U.S. troops will let up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people, and they will be defeated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And a possible sign that the administration has learned from President Bush's declaration of major combat over underneath that banner of "mission accomplished," the president again giving warnings to the American people he does not believe that those types of attacks are going to let up.

Today, the president is going to be meeting with officials from Iraq's health ministry as well as doctors. We expect that he will give more details about all this later on today -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Well, Suzanne, is there any indication from your sources that Saddam Hussein is being cooperative in any sense of giving some real useful information to those who are interrogating him? Some have used the word "cooperative" to mean that he's just not fighting the removal of lice and things like that, a physical exam. But is he being cooperative and helpful?

MALVEAX: Well, Soledad, there are really mixed reports on that. They say that he's answering questions, but that he is saying certain things. He's saying, look, we don't have any weapons of mass destruction.

One senior administration officials said, but what do you make of that? What do you think? I mean, he's been lying for nearly 30 years anyway. We don't expect that. But has he given any information about the whereabouts of other senior Iraqi officials? No, they have found, however, some evidence, they say some documents as well as money on his person that may suggest that he was contributing to some sort of effort and attacking U.S. troops, supporting that effort, but it is still unclear.

O'BRIEN: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House for us this morning. Suzanne, thanks.

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