The White House says President Bush was pleased to learn of the successful military operation against Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay. The initial White House response was muted and came in the form of a brief written statement.

It was clearly welcome news for the White House. But the president and his aides decided to let the Pentagon take the credit and do most of the talking.

Several hours after an American general said Uday and Qusay were dead, the White House issued a one paragraph statement.

Spokesman Scott McClellan said the two brothers were responsible for countless atrocities committed against the Iraqi people and can no longer cast "a shadow of hate on Iraq."

President Bush has remained out of public view in the hours since the announcement was made. He was briefed on the military operation in the Iraqi city of Mosul by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in two telephone calls.

It was White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card who got the first call from the Pentagon confirming that Uday and Qusay Hussein were dead. Mr. McClellan said the president responded to the news by congratulating the American troops and intelligence agencies involved in the operation.