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Rumsfeld Expects Little Cooperation from Saddam - 2003-12-16

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Saddam Hussein must know where his country's weapons of mass destruction are hidden. But, Mr. Rumsfeld indicates he expects little cooperation from the captured former Iraqi leader and suggests the search for the missing weapons is likely to go on for some time.

Mr. Rumsfeld says there is little doubt in his mind that Saddam Hussein knows what has happened to Iraq's chemical and biological weapons.

"Indeed, he must," the defense secretary said.

But speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld indicates he is holding out little hope that the ousted Iraqi leader will suddenly turn cooperative and reveal what he knows about the missing weapons of mass destruction - one of the main reasons the United States went to war with Iraq.

The defense secretary notes U.S. and coalition troops searched for months before getting intelligence information that led them to Saddam's hiding place in a tiny hole in the ground at a remote farmhouse near Tikrit.

He says finding Iraqi chemical and biological weapons is proving just as difficult.

"Think of the quantity of biological weapons that could fit in that hole alone could kill tens of thousands of human beings," he said. "So the difficulty of finding him is the same difficulty of finding anyone else or another thing, like weapons."

During his news conference, Mr. Rumsfeld disclosed the Central Intelligence Agency has been given responsibility for the interrogation of Saddam Hussein.

But a spokesman for the CIA would not comment on published reports that Saddam has already denied in meetings with interrogators that Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction.

The spokesman told VOA the hunt for those weapons is continuing.

Mr. Rumsfeld says the ousted Iraqi leader is being given the protections of a prisoner of war although it remains uncertain whether he will eventually be granted that status legally.

He also defends the U.S. decision to release videotape of Saddam in custody, saying it was important for Iraqis to see their former leader was in custody. The Geneva Conventions ban public displays of prisoners of war that could make them objects of ridicule.