White House Press Briefing, December 16, 2003


Tuesday December 16, 2003

Office of the Press Secretary
December 16, 2003


The James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:46 P.M. EST


Statement by the President
President's view on Saddam Hussein's fate
Baker trip/Iraq debt relief
Prime Minister Blair comments/WMD in Iraq
Howard Dean comments on Saddam Hussein capture
U.N. role in Iraq
bin Laden
Middle East road map/Saddam Hussein capture
Arab reaction to Saddam Hussein capture
U.N. involvement in a trial?

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. I have one statement by the President that I would like to begin with, and then I'll be glad to take your questions.

More than a year ago, Afghan President Karzai broke ground on the reconstruction of a highway that, when completed, will run through the heart of Afghanistan, helping to unify that great nation. The United States and Japan pledged to provide financing and personnel to the project. And we further pledged that the first leg, the 300 miles from the capital of Kabul to the important city of Kandahar, would be completed by the end of this year.

Today, we have met that pledge, as the first phase of the paving of the Kabul-Kandahar leg of the highway is completed, under budget and ahead of schedule. This new road reduces travel time between Kabul to Kandahar to five hours. It will promote political unity between Afghanistan's provinces, facilitate commerce by making it easier to bring products to market, and provide the Afghan people with greater access to health care and educational opportunities.

I am grateful for the enormous efforts of engineers and laborers from many countries who worked tirelessly and often in the face of hardship and danger to finish this leg of the road on time. This accomplishment underscores the firm commitment of the United States and coalition to support the Afghan people as they build a democratic, stable, and thriving Afghanistan.

And with that, I will go right into questions.

Q: Scott, it was reported on the radio just about 50 minutes ago that in his interview this morning, President Bush said he believes Saddam Hussein should face the ultimate penalty. Should we take that as an indication that the President does support the death penalty in this case for Saddam Hussein?

MR. McCLELLAN: He did participate in an interview a short time ago. That will be airing later this evening. I think in that interview, in addition to commenting about what his view was, he made it very clear that it is not up to him, it will be up to those who will try Saddam Hussein. And he has made it very clear that that trial should be fair, it should be something that withstands international scrutiny. He's made it very clear that the Iraqi people should know that Saddam Hussein will be held to account for the atrocities he committed and for the brutality he carried out on the Iraqi people. He's going to face the justice that he denied to millions of Iraqis while he was in power for decades.

Q: Yesterday he was very careful to say that, I've got my own ideas about what should happen, but it's up to the Iraqis. This morning, he went further than that. It sounds like it's an endorsement of execution or some other form

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think -- again, I think you can watch the interview later this evening and hear his -- the full context of his remarks. I'm not getting into who's showing it. I'm being fair and impartial up here. But he talks a little bit about what he said yesterday when he was asked, and he said, I have my personal views, but it's not up to me. And he went on to talk about the importance of the Iraqis being involved, and the Iraqis being fully involved in that decision.

Q: But it does sound like he's sending a signal to whoever will eventually try Saddam Hussein that that would be an appropriate punishment.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I think he was talking about his view, but he made it very clear that it's not his view that matters. It's the view of the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people will be the ones that will hold him accountable.

Q: The Baker trip, there are indications coming out, literally in the last few minutes, that there's some progress to report. Can you give us a fuller readout of that now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, this is the initial meeting that Secretary Baker is participating in with some world leaders. Secretary Baker is the President's personal envoy, and he did have some very good meetings today. We appreciate the commitment by France and Germany to work to restructure and reduce the debt burden on the Iraqi people. We all share the same goal of helping the Iraqi people build a better future, build a future that is free and prosperous. And Secretary Baker will continue his work to seek to restructure and reduce the debt burden on the Iraqi people, because the Iraqi people should not be saddled with the debt of the former regime that was more interested in using money to build palaces and torture chambers and rape rooms then it was in helping the Iraqi people.

Q: What's the total goal here, though? Is it complete forgiveness of debt? Is it just to restructure to get a smaller number? And has the administration, or is the administration prepared, then, to allow those countries to bid on contracts for Iraq if they, indeed, make good on this pledge to restructure --

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, first part of your question, the estimate of Iraq's debt burden is somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 billion. I think the Treasury Department could give you more details about that specific amount. We are working -- Secretary Baker, as the President's personal envoy, is working to seek to restructure and reduce the debt burden. And he's meeting, at the highest levels, with other leaders around the world. Right now, his trips are in -- his visits are in Europe, and then he'll be going to Russia later in the week, as well. But these are just the initial meetings, so I don't want to get into putting a specific amount on it.

Q: Well, what's the goal? Do you want it to be zero, or is that -- I mean, what --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we need to have -- let these initial meetings occur first. Secretary Baker is going to report back to the President after he returns later this week and we'll discuss his meetings in more detail with the President at that point, I suspect.

What was the second part of your question?

Q: Well, they seem to be doing what the President wanted them to do pretty quickly. Obviously, they were prepared to do that. Is that going to be in exchange for them being allowed to bid on the contracts that they were not going to be allowed to bid on?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I think we've made it very clear that when it comes to the U.S. taxpayer dollars that we believe that those tax dollars should be going to the countries that have been involved in helping to liberate the Iraqi people and help them build a free, peaceful and prosperous future. And also Iraq, as well, because the Iraqis have been very involved in this effort, and they are continuing to be more and more involved and assume more and more responsibility.

So we welcome the opportunity to discuss that issue with countries and the reason we reached the decision that we did. And certainly, as I said last week, and this position still stands, that if additional countries want to join the efforts of some 60 countries and the Iraqi people in the overall reconstruction, then circumstances can change. We will discuss that with those countries. I'm not prepared to discuss that with those countries from this podium, though.

Q: Can I follow that, Scott?

MR. McCLELLAN: You may.

Q: You said that the Iraqi people should not be saddled with the debt of the former regime. By that do you mean the ill-spent, if you will, debt of Saddam's regime? Are you differentiating between the debt that he rolled up and the different ways that he rolled it up, in building palaces and various other things, as you seek to reduce this debt load? And I guess I'm also following David's question, do you want the entire debt removed, or are you just trying to get a significant portion of it --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I addressed that. One, these are just the initial meetings. We need to let these discussions occur first so we can have these discussions directly with the countries where that debt is owed. But remember, we all share the goal of a better future for the Iraqi people. We all share the goal of a free and peaceful and prosperous Iraq. And let's let these initial meetings take place. But Secretary Baker's mission is to seek to restructure and reduce that debt burden, because that's an important component of helping to build a free and peaceful and prosperous Iraq for the Iraqi people. And so the President will look forward to hearing back from Secretary Baker when he returns.

Q: And on my first question, are you differentiating between how the money was spent? In other words, money spent, for example, on palaces, or weapons programs, you want that forgiven first -- that debt forgiven first?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think, again, this is -- I don't know if I would necessarily differentiate. Let's let the meetings take place. We have just recently really turned our focus to restructuring the debt burden for the Iraqi people. Our initial focus, when it came to the financial side of the reconstruction in Iraq, was on the international participation, specifically the Madrid Donors Conference, which was very successful. And we appreciate the commitments by a number of countries of some $13 billion, in addition to the commitment that the United States has made, and other coalition people. And then you're also going to have revenue coming in from Iraqi oil, as well, to help make up the difference for the total $55 billion we're looking at in reconstruction costs.

Terry. This Terry, then that Terry. We'll do both Terrys.

Q: Prime Minister Blair has said that massive evidence of weapons of mass destruction has been found in Iraq. What's he talking about?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you have -- I don't speak for the Prime Minister, number one, so I haven't seen his specific comments. But certainly, if you look back at the interim report from David Kay and his Iraq survey group, it points out that Saddam Hussein was in serious violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, which the President directed us to seek at the United Nations and to finally hold Saddam Hussein to account for, after 12 years of denial and after some 17 resolutions that he continued to defy. And that resolution called for serious consequences.

If you look back at the interim Kay report, it talked about his clandestine network of biological laboratories; it talked about the live strain of the deadly agent botulin; it talked about sophisticated concealment efforts that the Iraqi regime went to; and it talked about the, as we talked about earlier today, Terry, the advance design work on prohibited longer-range missiles.

Q: Okay, but nothing -- since the Kay interim report, there's no new massive evidence that has been discovered?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there's nothing to report at this point. The Iraq survey group continues to do its work. As we indicated previously, that they were not complete with their search and that work continues. But make no mistake about it, in the post-September 11th environment, it's important to confront gathering threats. The most solemn responsibility and obligation the President of the United States has is to protect the American people. And we cannot allow this dangerous regime and this threat to continue without being confronted. We did confront it, and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.

Q: And then just on another subject, Howard Dean said yesterday that the capture of Saddam Hussein did not make America any safer.

MR. McCLELLAN: There are a lot of Democrat primary candidates, and some others said something contrary to that. The bottom line is that the world is safer and better without Saddam Hussein in power. America is more secure because of the decisive action that the United States took, along with our coalition partners, to remove his regime from power. And the Iraqi people have been liberated, and the Iraqi people, I think will let you know that they are grateful for our efforts.

Q: So Governor Dean is wrong?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I'll leave the Democratic primary politics to the Democratic primary.

Other Terry.

Q: Is it your understanding that Baker has got specific commitments from Germany and France for not only debt restructuring, but substantial debt reduction?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not prepared to get into any more than I already have, in terms of the meetings. They were good discussions. We appreciated the commitments they made on the need to restructure and reduce the debt burden, and certainly the need for the Paris Club to address this next year. Secretary Baker has yet to report back to the President. He will report back to the President when he returns from his trip. And I'll keep you posted if there are any additional conversations within that time frame.

Q: Do you know if they were talking about specific dollar figures?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've described it the way I did, and I will leave it there. And you can ask those countries themselves if they want to say more on it.

Q: Can you give us even a ballpark on how much the U.S. thinks Iraq owes
-- owes it?

MR. McCLELLAN: You might check with Treasury on more details. I know the overall amount. We'll do our part, as well. The United States is the one that led this effort to remove the regime from power. We have made significant contributions, along with coalition forces, in helping the Iraqi people build a free and peaceful and prosperous future.

Q: What is the Bush administration's policy on what it plans to do with the debt? Is it policy to restructure it? Is it policy to forgive it? What is the Bush administration policy on that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, these efforts are just getting underway. I've made it very clear, and I think everybody knows that the United States, along with other coalition members, has made very significant contributions to helping the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful and prosperous future. We remain committed to seeing that through, and we will see it through, along with our coalition partners and along with the Iraqi people, who continue to assume more and more responsibility. But this is an effort that is just getting underway. We're looking at the overall debt burden on the Iraqi people. And I think you can continue to expect the United States to do our part to help the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful and prosperous future.

Q: Just one quick follow-up, on another subject. Kofi Annan, speaking at the U.N. today, said that the U.N. wants to help in Iraq's transition, but they need much greater clarity from the coalition in terms of what kind of assistance the U.N. can give in a political transition. Are you willing to give that? Can you give the U.N. more clarity, and do you want them to --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think there was clarity given in the three Security Council resolutions that passed in the postwar time period. And it called on the United Nations to play a vital role. We want them to play a vital role. They were playing a vital role when, unfortunately, they were -- there was a terrorist attack carried out on these humanitarian workers that were just simply there to help the Iraqi people. And we are hopeful that they can return to Iraq soon. Certainly in those -- in Security Council Resolution 1511, it specifically talked about how the United Nations can be very helpful in the electoral process and the constitutional process.

Q: Two quick questions. One, I hope Osama bin Laden got the message from the capture of Saddam Hussein. And there must be now pressure on the President to capture or to get Osama bin Laden now -- you think the very same thing that worked in Iraq will be heading towards --

MR. McCLELLAN: We are dismantling and disrupting the terrorist network, globally. There are a lot of different ways we're doing that, in cooperation with a broad coalition of countries, whether it's through tracking down these terrorists and bringing them to justice, or cracking down on the terrorist financing that funds their efforts, or intelligence-sharing, to help dismantle their infrastructure.

I would point out that we've already brought to justice some two-thirds of the al Qaeda leadership. A lot of those were the middle-management types, as the President likes to describe them. And we are continuing to pursue other leaders within that al Qaeda terrorist network, including Osama bin Laden. I think he can fully expect that he will be brought to justice by this administration.

Q: Second, if President is aware of assassination attempt on General Musharraf at the very same time when Saddam Hussein was captured?

MR. McCLELLAN: One, yes -- fully briefed on all those matters and those situations that occur around the world. President Musharraf is someone that has worked very closely with us on the war on terrorism, and it's another indication that that war continues and we must confront it everywhere. And that's what we are doing with our global coalition partners.

Q: Are you pleased -- without getting into the details, are you at least encouraged by the first signals coming out of Paris and Berlin with the visit of the special envoy?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think we welcome the commitments that have been made. Chancellor Schroeder publicly commented on this. I think the French have put out some comments, as well. And we appreciate their commitment and their recognition that we all share in the goal of helping the Iraqi people build a better future.

Q: Secretary Baker, I think is scheduled to go to Paris, London, Rome and Moscow and London, if I'm not mistaken. Is he also expected to maybe add a few capitals to his itinerary, or is that it?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think he pretty much described it. I mean, he's already -- he already met earlier today with the Iraqi Finance Minister and the Iraqi Central Bank Governor. He met with President Chirac, he met with Chancellor Schroeder. He will be meeting with Prime Minister Berlusconi tomorrow, and then he will be meeting with Prime Minister Blair and President Putin later in the week before returning to Houston. I have no updates beyond that on his itinerary at this point.

Q: Scott, regarding the documents that were confiscated when Saddam was apprehended, has the President been briefed on what some of these documents contained, and can you give us an idea from the podium what type of organization these documents might point to --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't get into intelligence briefings that the President receives. But I think you can expect that he will be kept up -- he has been and will continue to be kept up to date on matters, as needed and as warranted.

Q: Is there any evidence, or is there any hope that some of the names, identities, locations --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me remind you all in this room. One, this is a military matter, as President described it, so a lot of these questions are best directed to the military. But let me remind you that Saddam Hussein deceived and lied to the world for some 12 years, and he defied his international obligations for some 17 resolutions. I don't expect him to, all of a sudden, change his stripes. He is someone that cannot be trusted, given his long history of deceit and lying. And I would just point that out.

Q: Two quick questions. First, following on the bin Laden question. Has there been any redoubling of an effort in this White House or any request from the White House, from the President himself, to make a renewed effort to catch bin Laden, after the capture of Saddam Hussein?

MR. McCLELLAN: That effort is ongoing. That remains one of the priorities within the overall global war on terrorism. He has been responsible for some great atrocities, but it's more than just about any one person. But we will bring those leaders to justice that are still out there. We continue to work to find them and bring them to justice.

Q: My second question. There were four economic indicators today that suggested a further strengthening of the economy. Consumer prices fell, industrial production was up, housing stats were up, and the third quarter current account deficit narrowed. Is the administration convinced that the economy recovery has taken hold? And to what degree has the weakening dollar contributed?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that the numbers you pointed out demonstrate that the President's jobs and growth package is having the positive effect it was supposed to on our economy. The economy is moving in the right direction. The President has outlined a six-point plan to continue to strengthen our economy and create an even more robust environment for job creation.

But you did point out several new positive indicators today, that showed that new home construction for November reached its highest level in some 20 years, industrial production was above expectations, with widespread gains in manufacturing. And the Consumer price Index report showed continued low inflation. And we've previously seen the GDP numbers that are out there, with the 3rd quarter at its highest in nearly 20 years. We expect it won't stay that high, but there will be continued, sustained economic growth; and that there have been more than 325,000 jobs over the past four months created -- new jobs created, making that the best four-month period since the four months ending in February 2001. So there are a lot of encouraging signs for a recovery in a number of areas.

Q: Is the weakening dollar, though, which is producing more exports, contributing to the stimulus at all?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President made his comments yesterday on the dollar and our policy and views, and I'll leave it at that.

Q: Can you tell us about the North Carolina speech tomorrow, the President attending the first flight anniversary?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President looks forward to going to North Carolina tomorrow to commemorate a very historic day in our nation's history, and certainly in the history of flight, which was the first flight by the two brothers there. And he looks forward to making some remarks there to commemorate that special occasion of the Wright brothers' historic flight.

Q: Is he going to have a larger theme? Is he going to talk about the future of manned space flight?

MR. McCLELLAN: No comments from the front row here. I'll come comment while you're on tonight. (Laughter.)

Q: Is he going to talk about the future of manned space flight, Scott?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know if he might just make reference to it. I mean, I wouldn't necessarily rule that out. But obviously, he is strongly committed to the exploration of space. He's made that very well-known. In the aftermath of the Columbia, the President directed there to be an interagency review of our space policy. That interagency review has been underway. But I don't -- do not expect him to announce any new initiatives from that tomorrow.

Les, and then April.

Q: Since the President yesterday said it was, "an absurd insinuation" for Governor Dean to raise the question of whether the President had advance information of 9/11, can you assure us that the President does not disagree with Senator Lieberman's statement: if Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would be in power today, not in prison. And I've got one follow-up.

MR. McCLELLAN: All the Democratic primary candidates speak for themselves. I did note that there were some other comments made by some of the other candidates in the Democratic primary. The President has made it very clear where his focus is. His focus remains on our nation's highest priorities, protecting the American people, and that means winning the war on terrorism and working to make the world a safer and better and more free place, and working to make America more secure and more prosperous. That's where the President's focus is, and he explained it very well yesterday that there will be a time for all that politics later.

Q: The President would not disagree with Democrat Congressman Norman Dicks' statement that his fellow Washington state Congressman Jim McDermott is, "Just not right, is just ridiculous, and is engaged in fantasy," in McDermott's alleging that the U.S. military could have found Saddam Hussein a long time ago if they wanted?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think I have to dignify every ridiculous comment out there.

Q: In other words, McDermott is ridiculous, isn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that members of his own party adequately addressed his comments.

Go ahead Sarah -- April. Just making sure you're paying attention. Some of these guys in the front row keep talking, and they're not paying attention.

Q: We're capable of multi-tasking.

MR. McCLELLAN: Good point, good point, but don't take any silverware Thursday.

Q: Oooh!

MR. McCLELLAN: Hey, I'm just reiterating what the President said.

Q: Scott, going back to the issue of this $120 billion that -- of Iraqi debt, some critics are saying it's hypocritical to go around to other nations around the world and ask them to forgive or restructure, what have you, and then at home you have to ponder what you want to do.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know if I would look at it that way at all. I made it very clear that the United States, along with our coalition partners, has made very significant contributions to help the Iraqi people have a free and peaceful and prosperous future. I also made it very clear that we'll continue to do our part. We've just turned our focus to these efforts, and those efforts are just beginning. But we're looking at the overall debt burden on the Iraqi people. And as I said, as we move forward to building a free and peaceful and prosperous future of the Iraqi people, you will -- you can count on the United States continuing to do its part. So I don't look at it at all the way you're suggesting.

Q: I understand. Well, I'm calling some people and asking them what they thought.

MR. McCLELLAN: I understand.

Q: But let me ask you this: Why not have your plan already in place, before you go out to these other nations?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we have just really turned our focus to these efforts, and it is just getting underway. And as I -- I think I've already addressed this pretty thoroughly.

Q: Does the President plan to have at the White House the soldiers who actually captured Saddam Hussein? Perhaps the one who said, "President Bush sends his regards," should he be hired as a presidential speechwriter? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one we've got a --

Q: Press secretary. (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I made the comment about Gregory, not about you, Ed. (Laughter.)

MR. GREGORY: You don't hear that from me, do you?

MR. McCLELLAN: Certainly some more colorful quotes than I give.

One, the President pointed out in his comments both over the weekend and yesterday that he appreciates all the successes and great accomplishments of our men and women in the military. And that includes those involved in helping to bring Saddam Hussein to justice. I do not have any updates on his schedule in terms of specifically that. Obviously, I'll keep you posted on any updates to the President's schedule as they occur.

Q: The extension of unemployment benefits runs out four days before Christmas. You said last week that the administration is working with Congress on this. Will the President make any public appeal to Congress to reinstate or extend the benefits and make them retroactive?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I addressed this last week. It still stands where I addressed it last week. We did work to

Q: You did --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, I did. I said that we had worked with Congress to extend unemployment benefits three times previously. The most important thing that we are doing is we are working to continue to strengthen our economy. Because of the action the President took, the economy is growing and continues to move in the right direction. But there's more to do. We have a six-point plan out there. I think that America's workers and families want paychecks and jobs first and foremost, and that's where our focus is on, is creating as robust environment for job creation as possible. And the President continues to remain concerned, because there are still people who are looking for work that cannot find a job. And so, as I said, we will continue to work with Congress on that matter.

Q: On the road map for peace, does the capture of Saddam Hussein help or retard the road map negotiations? And are there other sources giving money to the Palestinian terrorists -- the homicide terrorists now that Saddam Hussein is

MR. McCLELLAN: I think building a free and peaceful and democratic Iraq for the Iraqi people will help bring about greater peace and stability in the region. The President has talked about the importance of what we're trying to accomplish in Iraq and how we're working to help the Iraqi people. But certainly, it also will help make America more secure. It will help bring about peace and stability in a region that has been a breeding ground for terrorism.

But not only are we working in Iraq, the President has put forward other initiatives, too, to not only help build a safer region, but build a better region and a better world, I might add. And, go back over here, and I'll come back to you guys.

Q: The Iraqis have stated that they want to give Saddam Hussein a very speedy trial, within a few weeks. Does the President think that it's possible to bring Saddam Hussein to account, give his many, many victims a chance to testify to get justice and also to give him some semblance of a fair trial if a trial is held within a very few weeks?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I can certainly understand and appreciate some of the feelings of the Iraqi people. It was a historic development over the weekend when we brought this brutal dictator -- when we captured this brutal dictator. And he will be held to account for the atrocities that he committed against the Iraqi people and against others, as well.

But I think that these are issues we'll continue to discuss with the Iraqi people. Obviously, it's important for our military to continue to get information from him that can be helpful to our overall efforts and helpful to helping bring about greater security in Iraq. So those are discussions we'll continue to have with the Iraqi people.

Q: So, would you then keep him perhaps longer than the Iraqi people want, if they want him handed over and we still want to ask him questions? Will we keep him?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me just -- well, one, keep in mind, that that's why I said I appreciate and understand some of the comments that are being made, that they want him to be held to account and some want to move quicker than others. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who had a blanket of fear and intimidation over the Iraqi people. And it's still taking time to fully lift that blanket of fear and intimidation that was over the Iraqi people after some three decades of being tortured and being intimidated and being denied justice that they deserve. So we'll continue to have those discussions.

Q: Scott, a very large portion of the paper on the $120 billion is actually being held by Arab countries, specifically Saudi Arabia, for financing Iraq's war against Iran for eight years. Why then are we going to Europe first to try to get them to forgive debts --

MR. McCLELLAN: They're going to be -- these are just some initial -- there's some initial meetings, Rick. I think you fully expect one of the reasons the President called on Secretary Baker to be his personal envoy was because of the unique qualifications that he possesses. Secretary Baker was someone that knows the leaders in that region very well. He has worked with them previously, if you might recall. And so he brings a lot of unique qualifications to go to those leaders at the highest level and talk about the importance of this issue with them. And so I think you can fully expect that there will be discussions with them, as well. Everybody has a part to play in helping to reduce this burden on the Iraqi people, so that they can realize a brighter future.

Q: Second question. Is the administration kind of disappointed with the reaction of the Arab man on the street on the capture of Saddam Hussein, where they seem to express shame or anger that he gave up without a fight and that the Americans were the ones who captured him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I've seen a lot of comments from the Iraqi people that express gratitude. That's what I've seen. The President knows that the decision he took was the right decision, because the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. And America is more secure because of it.

Q: Back on a trial, do you see any need at all for U.N. involvement in organizing a tribunal or setting up a trial?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that these are discussions that the coalition, that the United States and the coalition will have with the Iraqi people. I think it's important for the Iraqis to know that Saddam Hussein will be held to account. And that's why the President made it very clear that the Iraqis would be the ones involved in this and holding Saddam Hussein to account.

Q: So you don't see a need then?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, we think the U.N. certainly has a vital role to play in certain areas, in terms of the election process and the constitutional process. But right now, in terms of conducting a fair trial of Saddam Hussein and one that withstands international scrutiny, those are discussions that we're having with the Iraqi people.

Q: Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

END 1:20 P.M. EST


Copyright 2014  Q Madp  PO Box 86888  Portland OR 97286-0888  www.OurWarHeroes.org