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While Iraq Rebuilds, Search for Missing Leaders Continues

We begin today as we have for many weeks now, in Iraq. We focus on rebuilding and the search for some of the missing leaders of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Robert Raffaele tells us that the retired general in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq is on the scene.

Lieutenant General Jay Garner told reporters his top priority is to restore necessities, such as electricity and water, as soon as possible. But he refused to put a timetable on the mission.

“I think what you see here is what you are going to see throughout the country, you are going to see the Iraqis fixing the country for themselves and we are going to facilitate that. We are going to help them where we can, where can provide them with supplies, where we can get things for them, where we can give them assistance we will do that. But they are going to fix their country. I have all the faith in the world that is going to happen. In fact, I know it is going to happen.”

General Garner visited Baghdad’s Yarmuk Hospital, looted during the coalition bombing raids. Some doctors and nurses said they welcomed any help, but called on the U.S. to take stronger action to restore law and order.

General Garner also toured a power plant, where he was briefed by Iraqi officials. By next week, his team of 19 civilian administrators is expected to grow to 450.

His visit came as Baghdad received some good news. The al-Doura power plant that supplies electricity to some six million people re-opened.

The area around the plant on the outskirts of the city was bombed on the first night of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Army Brigadier General Steve Hawkins said the restoration of power would also allow fresh water to resume flowing to homes throughout Baghdad.

Meanwhile, another of the Bush administration’s 55 ‘most wanted’ Iraqis is now in custody. He is Saddam Hussein’s only surviving son-in-law, Jamal Mustafa Sultan al Tikriti.

He was Number 40 on the U.S. list, and reportedly served as Saddam’s private secretary until the Iraqi regime collapsed.

The Iraqi National Congress said Jamal and Khalid Abdallah, a top member of Saddam’s police, turned themselves in to U.S. authorities, after initially fleeing to Syria.

This came as thousands of Shiite Muslims demonstrated in Baghdad, outside the Palestine Hotel, the home base for journalists covering the war.

The protestors accused U.S. troops of arresting one of their leaders. Reuters News Agency says U.S. military officials were not immediately available for comment.

In southern Iraq, British troops are preparing to head home. The Seventh Armored Brigade, or ‘Desert Rats’ as they are known, began moving armor and supplies southward on a road about 180 kilometers north of Basra.

In Kuwait, Royal Marines began ferrying soldiers and equipment back to ships at sea. The 539th Assault Squad seized the Al Faw peninsula, and secured its oil fields, in the first days of the war.

British troops will still play a role in delivering humanitarian aid and developing infrastructure across southern Iraq.