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White House Rejects as 'Preposterous' Saddam's Claims of Torture

The United States has rejected claims from ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein that he has been beaten and tortured by his American captors. The Bush administration calls the allegation preposterous.

Saddam Hussein came out with the charge at the end of another emotional day of testimony at his Baghdad trial.

He said he had been abused by U.S. forces following his arrest in 2003. When asked about the former Iraqi leader's claim, White House Spokesman Scott McClellan offered a quick response. "I think that is one of the most preposterous things I've heard from Saddam Hussein recently," he said.

Mr. McClellan said he totally rejects the charge, and said the focus should remain on the victims of the ousted Iraqi regime. "Saddam Hussein is being treated the exact opposite of the way his regime treated those he imprisoned and tortured simply for expressing their opinions," he said.

At the State Department, Spokesman Sean McCormack said he knows of nothing that would substantiate Saddam's claim. He called the allegation highly ironic, noting that the former Iraqi president is on trial on charges of ordering the 1982 torture and massacre of 140 Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq in retaliation for a failed assassination attempt.

"Look, he's been given to grandstanding in this trial. Where the focus should be is on the testimony of those people who were victimized by the tyranny, the oppression and the violence of Saddam Hussein. That's what people should be listening to," he saide.

On Wednesday, witnesses at Saddam's trial spoke in graphic terms about their mistreatment in his regime's torture chambers. They testified that people were killed and tortured by electric shocks, and having molten plastic poured on their bare skin.